June 26, 2018

Lamentations and Exaggerations

Spent hour at 11:30pm the other night trying to stop the waterfall in our basement by fitting cast-off PVC pipes and other tubes to get the water sump-pump'd into the yard at large. I'm mightily impressed by the power and ingenuity of water. The Romans have their aqueducts while we try to engineer the reverse.

I was naive to the fact that the previously opaque water removal system (I'd naively imagined it was just a sump pump and didn't much worry if it worked) turned out to be a living, breathing organism only as strong as the weakest link.  There are many potential points of failure such as:

- Sump pump location wrong
- buried water line to street on east side not working
- buried water line to street on west side not working
- city sewer backed up
- sump pump malfunctioning
- gutters not working properly

And we've experienced all of the above.


I was planning my annual 5k race but it was cancelled due to “deep water on sidewalks”; cue the ol' "how did we ever survive as children?"

I decided to run the 5k myself since I needed a workout and I'm a big risk-taker, witness my $30 bet on Justify in the Belmont.  Got t-shirt "I Survived Deep Water on Sidewalks".

Spent a lot of time on phone trying to get answers to why we can’t get Ohio Utilities to accurately mark our back property. A fair amount of work on our end to fix their mistakes. I’m perpetually astonished at how incompetent most people are at their jobs. Lowes made a forklift delivery the other day and ran into our fence, taking out a six-inch portion.

This was all presaged by Robert Ringer in the 1970s saying that as society decays that we who stay  minimally competent we'll eventually shine by comparison. Job security.


Mass at 8:30; had Crosier priest from the Congo; asked for donations to build a Catholic school there. Moved by the black priest’s singing, including an affecting “My Lord and My God” sung in his native tongue while lifting the Body and Blood. Unfortunately heard only about 50% of his homily due to poor acoustics and accent.


Took in new library in town, three times bigger than previous one. Unique feature is a patio structure (all windows) that looks out over grass and trees (and nearby buildings).

The upstairs is pleasant - late day sun and comfy looking chairs. Even has a coffee bar! Not your father’s library.

Cold as ice inside, like many restaurants and some churches. Entry should have signage warning of potential frostbite. It seemed kind of humorous that they brag of sustainability and environmental things while keeping the air-co at 55.


I'm finding it harder to take politics seriously these days given that Americans don't (witness the election of empty suit Obama and his successor). It's hard to keep a straight face watching the network news or seeing a Trump tweet. All farce all the time. No wonder Christopher Buckley can't spoof modern politics anymore.


Spent about 90 mins trying to get our dog's hair mats out. I’m becoming highly motivated to find a groomer and take it seriously.  Who knew brushing out a dog’s coat wasn’t optional? Thes amazing thing is how quickly he came down with this - in May he looked his fine, sleek self but once he started shedding naturally it soured into mats by mid-June.

And that's the way it was, as Conkrite sayeth...


Snippets of a 1970s Minnesota memoir, dedicated to my fellow Cincinnatian Cat:

...children would punch in 5318008 [on calculators] and turn it upside down to reveal BOOBIES.

Sister Mariella, whom some call Sister Carl Eller, after the Vikings’ fearsome defensive end.

Silence is the safest way to get along, which is all I desire. In life, as in games of tag, I never want to be It. I only want to be Not It.

“We don’t wear [newly bought] shoes out of the store,” Mom whispers. “We’re not hillbillies.”

As for Mom, she grew up in Cincinnati, evidently fearful that hordes of hillbillies would wade—straw-hatted, barefooted, bib-overalled—across the Ohio River and into her backyard. This might explain Mom’s endless cleaning, the neatening of drawers, the discarding of anything that isn’t nailed down.

Her rectitude and naïveté were instantly on display in her fourth-grade classroom in the mid-1950s. Students lined up for recess in front of the chalkboard, and when the line marched out of the room, there was often a single word scrawled on that board. She would erase it, and the word would reappear the next day. After a week, my future mom finally asked the class, “Why does someone keep writing ‘Pussy’ on the board?” The children gasped and giggled. Mom pressed on. “Is Pussy somebody’s cat?” There was more giggling, and a girl raised her hand. “Miss Boyle,” she said. “That’s something a lady has.” This only confirmed Miss Boyle’s notion that Pussy was indeed a cat, and she let the matter rest, but not before telling my future dad, who palmed his face in disbelief.

Mom hadn’t wanted to move from Cincinnati, where Dad first took a job with 3M, to Columbus, Ohio, to which Mickey Mining dispatched him and where Jim was born. She hadn’t wanted to move at 3M’s behest from Ohio

Through all these moves, she held fast to the polestar of Cincinnati: to Graeter’s ice cream and Ohio State football and the Big Red Machine of Johnny Bench and Pete Rose.

Mom says “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph” or “God bless it” when she’s angry. These are stand-ins for profanity. She says “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph” instead of “Jesus Christ” and “God bless it” instead of “God dammit.” It’s a clever bit of Catholic alchemy, turning blasphemy into praise.

This same sense of relief supervenes whenever the commercials air during NBC’s annual Easter-season screening of The Wizard of Oz, a movie that instills no wonder in me, only terror. The music alone ignites the acids in my stomach, exhaling only when the commercials abruptly appear. They act like smelling salts or a bucket of cold water thrown over a drunk, snapping us out of one world and returning us to the real one. I am grateful for their temporary respite from tornadoes and witches and flying monkeys.

Exploring South Brook by backyard or bicycle, I develop an expert knowledge of the neighborhood topography, whose yard I cannot enter to retrieve a ball (the Sea Hags, the two elderly ladies we seldom see) and in whose house I should decline the milk (the Sundems serve skim, and my body is accustomed to the higher-octane 2 percent). The Redmonds have central air—stepping across their threshold is like stepping into a refrigerated boxcar—and the Raichs have a basement beer-can collection. The McCarthy boys are allowed to collect pop cans, while the Rushin boys are allowed neither.

Young life holds few pleasures greater than the school sick day. The hourly ministrations of Vick’s VapoRub, the back of Mom’s hand on my hot forehead, the thermometer jutting from my mouth like a Chesterfield cigarette...

[Or snow day.] And then I hear it: “Bloomington schools, public and parochial—closed.” Instantly it’s Mardi Gras and V-E Day and the Lindbergh parade all in one, and the flakes falling outside look like ticker tape.


mrsdarwin said...

Ah, Graeters... I can buy it at Kroger's here, but it's about $15/qt. At that point, I can buy $15 worth of good ingredients and make myself several quarts of homemade ice cream. I mean, it's not the French Pot method, but it's pretty good.

My mom lives in Price Hill, which is kind of the hillbilly capital of the West Side. If someone in Cincinnati is going to say "warsh" or "torlet", it's a good chance they're from Price Hill. It's one of the places constantly on the edge of regentrification because it's a stone's throw from downtown, commute-wise, and there's a goodly stock of cheap old houses waiting to be restored to their glory days.

TS said...

My brother lives on way, way West Side (in Cleves, off Rybolt Rd). He can't throw a rock in any direction and not hit a Catholic church.