Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Monday, February 23, 2004


(It’s long---you might want to go to the bathroom first or a movie or something.)

Okay, so Friday night we all got home and just as quickly, half of us left to go off and eat burgers and try to remember Paul’s entire letter to the Romans. The other half of us was glad for a few minutes of rest. Catherine found herself a movie and flopped down in the floor with Jonathan while I fixed some supper. Got that done, fed them, and then asked if they wanted to help me make Catherine’s birthday cake. “YEEEEEAAAHHHHH!” (Not like the Dean Scream--it was happier and less insane.)

I got out the stuff--a Pillsbury Valentine’s Special cake (differing from other white cake mixes only by the addition of a tiny foil pouch of red candy stick sprinkles), a little tub of icing, three eggs, 1/3 cup of oil, turned around and the kids had drifted back and turned on the movie. Which is probably just as well. Mixed up the mess, used a spoon because I didn’t want to have to wash the beaters from the electric mixer, poured it in a big rectangular pan, slid it in and turned around to a sad little girl. “I thought you said I was going to get to help!” ::sigh:: “Hey, stick around next time!” No tears, no foul.

I waited and washed clothes and reread my AutoTrader, and then it was time for the unovening. Done just right. Then I decided to get fancy. Because I’m a moron like that. So rather than leave things well enough alone and just have a plain rectangle sheet cake, I got the bright idea of making it a layer cake by halving it. It was not the most attractive thing in the world. Although it did fit on a much smaller plate. Iced it, beat off an attempt by the kids to usurp my authority with the icing spatula, fussed, fumed, and finally got the stuff smooshed around so that most of the cakey parts were fully and opaquely covered. Mostly.

Then it was time for decoration. Cat came padding (actually, more like stomping) back into the kitchen and demanded that I fulfill my promise of allowing her to do SOMETHING to her cake. “Well, fine, but you actually have to stay in here and do it and not wander off and go watch TV.” “I won’t--my movie’s done off now.” Fine.

I cut open the pouch of sprinkles and she grabbed it with her chubby fist and started to pour the whole thing out in the center of the cake. “WHOA! They’re SPRINKLES--we have to sprinkle them gently over the top.”

“Like THIS!?”

Not quite.

I finally wound up getting a spoon and dipping out a few at a time to let her get it finished. And it was a lovely sight to behold. I think there might have been a total of a tablespoon of sprinkles, but she was VERY happy with the result, no matter how sparse. Me, being me, was not quite so satisfied, so I rummaged around in the cabinet and found an ancient flagon of tiny primary colored bead sprinkles that had an annoying habit of not sticking to the icing at all and pouring themselves all over the top of the range and into the floor. Luckily, another feature presentation had started, so I was able to get my gigantic mess cleaned up without any witnesses to my ineptitude.

Reba and the older two girls got back late, around nine, and were quite impressed with the stack of clothing I had washed and folded, the cake I had baked, and the dishes I had washed. Topping off the display was the fact that I stood there in the kitchen entirely barefooted. I am not, however, pregnant.

Up early Saturday, and found out that Reba wanted to go look around at cars some. Rather shocking, but I was glad to do it if for no other reason than to show her the differences between the different brands. So, a call to her parents to see if they would watch the chilluns, which they graciously agreed to do (and Grandmama wanted to take Youngest to the store for some presents), some breakfast, some clothes, and we were off. Dropped the kids and stopped by one of the used car lots up by I-459 in Trussville.

NOW, DON’T WORRY--I’m not about to buy from a dealer, but a used car dealer is about the only place where you can look at several different kinds of cars at one time. So we stopped in and looked a bit--a few Koreans, a few larger domestics, and a nice Corolla. None with prices.

I know used car dealers have only the best intentions, but speaking only for myself, as a customer, the first red flag warning of “Oh No, I’m About to Get Reamed” comes when there are no prices marked. First of all, it says to me that they’re all about a thousand dollars too high. Second, it makes it look like someone’s trying to hide something. Not that used car dealers would ever do that. Anyway, we looked a bit and then started to leave when a large old guy wheezed out the side door--“Can I sell you folks something today?”

“Well, we’re not buying today, but could you tell me how much that Corolla is?” I had already told Reba that I bet it was around 11,800. “Well, I know if you’re looking we got what you’re looking for--hey, you know, I got one of them hats. too!” He was pointing to my black ball cap that has a steel supplier’s name on it. “Do you work for them?” He continued to act like he was looking up the price. “No, it’s just a gimme.” “Let’s see, let’s see, that car isssss…Yep, I got a friend give me one of them caps and they done all the steel for that place over there in Gadsden. Corollercorollercoroller…is $11, 990.” “Okay, then, thanks fo…” “Well now’s the time to talk if y’all are looking for something!”

“We’re not buying anything today. We just started looking and we’re not buying anything today.”

“ ‘Cause we got that nice looking Buick over there that just come in, and we got that Kia that’s a mighty fine little car.”

“Maybe so, but we’re not buying today.”

He followed me on around to the driver’s side of our van, “What about this here--y’all think you might be buying today if I can get that Toyoter down to under 10?”

“I tell you what, you give me your card and we’ll take it with us and when we get ready to deal and not waste your time, I’ll give you a call back.”

He finally gave me a card, but I had begun to think I was going to have to hit him with a jack handle to get off the lot. Grr. I hate having to deal with guys like that.

On then, and we stopped by Roebuck Honda--much better sales staff. I mean, they’re still car salesmen, but at least you didn’t feel like you needed to take a shower afterwards. They had several nice cars, and one pitiful Geo Prizm that had the funk of one hundred diarrheic lab monkeys. A few dents, no equipment, and priced $500 OVER Kelley Blue Book retail price. As if. They did have an ancient Honda 500 that was the color of the leavings of one hundred diarrheic lab monkeys, but it’s one that they have out front of the used car building as a display so it wasn’t for sale. Hard to believe the company that made that, could thirty years later be able to make an NSX.

On then to Tallapoosa Street and up Highway 79, just because, then back down and off to Pelham. Found several nice cars at good prices at Pelham Imports, and in contrast to the other places, didn’t see ANY sales people. I kept asking Reba if she wanted to drive something so she would know what she was going to be getting, but she demurred. “I don’t want to drive something unless I’m going to get it or else I’ll be disappointed.” Hard to argue with that.

Looked around for a long time, then it was time to head back toward home. Stopped and got a snack and a drink, saw some blonde coming in all dolled up in a leather miniskirt and calf-high leather boots and a couple of breasts struggling mightily to escape the neckhole of her shirt, mentioned to Miss Reba that she looked rather high-maintenance, then saw ANOTHER one, this time with leather pants on. We wound up sitting there for a few minutes outside the convenience store to see where they were going. Couldn’t quite tell--they both walked back to a small row of shops behind the convenience store--the façade area of which was dominated by two big signs for a pet store specializing in cats, and for a cat doctor. I then made many obscene remarks about this interesting juxtaposition of pulchritude and felines. Reba roller her eyes and sighed heavily.

On toward home, with one last stop at another dealer there on the main drag in Trussville. Found a neat little ’01 Corolla S for too much money, but did convince Reba to drive it just to see what they’re like. Cool little car. Priced about $3000 over wholesale. Sorry, not an option. But good to see what all is out there.

On back to get the kiddies and Cat’s haul of goods, then home where I proceeded to start cleaning good old Franklin out. Rebecca came out and swept the bed for me and vacuumed the inside and helped me get the junk out from behind the seat. She complained the entire time that we needed to keep it--she’s as bad as some of you folks! Anyway, I decided to give her a treat and take her for a ride--up to Wal-Mart. Ahhh, such a distinctly American pastime.

I taped the For Sale sign in the window and we rumbled and popped down the hill then up the mountain and parked about midway down the aisle, close to one of the shopping cart racks. (That way more people will see it!) Got out and got a drink out of the machine in the front of the store, then hopped back in and rolled back to the house. Bec had a very good time.

Time for supper, about, and lucky for me I had to go to the grocery store to pick up some fish. We had some in the freezer, but when frozen fish smells fishy, it’s best not to eat it. SO, back into the truck and down to the foot of the hill. (Want to make sure I get all the free exposure for it I can, you know.)

Picked out eight fresh fat catfish fillets and after I got back, Reba did her magic on them. Basically, it’s a little bit of everything in the cabinet--salt, pepper, onion, garlic, tarragon, rosemary and pop it in the oven and let it bake until done. Take it out, serve it over some Zatarain’s New Orleans style yellow rice and top with some Pace picante sauce. Really, REALLY good stuff. I had it again for lunch today. Mmmm. Catfish. Almost as good as manatee.

Got the kids bathed and their hair scrubbed clean, then it was time to once more get in touch with my (rather frightening) feminine side by helping Reba color her hair. “Helping,” meaning that I do it all. SHUT YER YAP with all the nancy boy jokes--I’ll have you know I have great big fuzzy pair, so spare me the chuckles!

Anyway, this was a bit different from past experience in that it was a two-part kit with a highlighting component. Never done that before. Yet, for some reason, despite my having been awake for the past eighteen hours and being ready to keel over, and despite the fact that I was talking rather incoherently, and despite the fact that the process was unknown to me, and despite the fact that under the best of circumstances I manage to miss spots of gray, Reba seemed blissfully willing to compel me to undertake this little experiment.

Turned out great. Hard to believe--I think I slept through most of it, but it looks as good as what she comes back with from the beauty shop. And she was VERY grateful.

SUNDAY, up bright and early and time to get ready for church. All my teachers showed up, for once, although one was incredibly late. Good sermon, then was informed that Reba and the older two girls were expected to come back and eat lunch with the Bible Bowl group AGAIN, but she hadn’t brought any of her stuff. ::sigh:: Nothing like advance planning. Back to the house to let her get stuff and to drop the younger set of kids and me off.

Lunch for us, then A NAP! And not just any nap, but one of those in-the-bed-with-your-skivvies-on naps. Boy dropped off with no trouble. That should give you enough of a clue to guess as to Tiny Terror’s idea of a nap.

I lay down and drifted off and on into that weird daytime sleep but every thirty minutes or so was woken by Cat getting into something in her room and creating crashing noises. Grr. I would croak at her to hush, and she would dutifully answer, “Yes, sirrrrrrr,” and be quiet just long enough for me to start drooling again before acting up. BUT, it was still a nap, and it would be wrong of me to be ungrateful for it. After the 5:00 o’clock crash, I figured it was best to go ahead and get up and get us all dressed again to go meet the others.

Off to church again, a second good sermon, then home for some grocery store pizza, then some MORE sleep. Can NEVER have too much sleep--this article also ran in The Birmingham News on Sunday, and it explains a lot of why Possumblog reads the way it does:

[…] When the brain runs on too little sleep, it malfunctions in a wide variety of areas:

-- Your reaction time slows, and you have trouble paying sustained attention. Driving is “the worst kind of thing,” especially in bumper-to-bumper situations or on lonely roads, said Edward Stepanski of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “You're forced to sit still, so you can't move around and do things people ordinarily do to keep awake, and you're staring at the road.”
-- You have trouble keeping tabs on multiple sources of information. So you ignore some of them to focus on a few, and “you fail to notice that you're running out of gas,” said David Dinges at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
-- Creativity suffers. You get stuck on bad solutions and can't think of better ones.
--You can't remember as much, and “a sleepy brain is just not very good at learning new information,” Stepanski said.
--Your brain just can't do some critical things in a hurry.

Much of the overall problem in the sleepy brain is what scientists call microsleeps, repeated periods of a second or two, or maybe 10, when you just zone out and don't process information.[…]

Yep, that’s about right.

Anyway, that’s about it--oh wait, almost forgot--big Birmingham media insider news! As you all know, I have been stalking corresponding with a local television personality in order to swing some coveted teevee station merchandise to add to the general clutter in my office. Well, it seems she has now moved on to greener pastures, and works only two blocks away. HOWEVER, her coveted stash of promotional merchandise is being cast off like so much unwanted thrift store doodads, due to the unseemly way in which she was treated in her former employ--details of which I am not at liberty to disclose. Given the circumstances, though, I must now announce my personal boycott of the local Fox affiliate’s news programming, as well as any claim to their cool coffee mugs and mouse pads. Take THAT Rupert Murdoch!

(The lunch date is still open, however--I mean, what sort of obsessed fan gentleman would I be if it wasn’t?)

NOW then, that’s about it for the weekend past.

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