Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I cannot believe it has been so long since my last blog entry. I have some explanations, but no excuses. Somewhere along the way, I lost control of the steering wheel, and my vehicle took quite a detour.

Suffice it to say, Murphy’s Law has become a dictator of late.

To begin with, our computer was down. OK! OK! I know. That’s like saying my oven isn’t working, so I won’t be cooking. Yeah, like that’s gonna fly! It doesn’t exactly constitute a seismic shift in my daily routine. However, in order to arrange for IPS (Internet Provider Service for my geek-impaired comrades), Dennis made no fewer than 38 appointments for technicians of dubious background who pledged to arrive sometime within my lifetime (roughly between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on non-specific days of unspecified seasons). He then left for work in an exceedingly agreeable mood under the na├»ve assumption that all is well…all is well.

Well, the first two guys who eventually appeared looked like refugees from central casting for extras in the latest horror flick. Each had scrupulously ensured that no two spiked hairs on their heads or other body parts pointed in the same direction simultaneously. That must have taken some doing, because both looked like offspring of Sasquatch. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against spikey hair. Each morning when I drag my saggy, groggy carcass out of bed, my coif could strike envy in the hearts of every severely deranged Goth. It’s just that it was a little unsettling to be alone in the house with two guys wearing black fingernail polish and armed with drills!

I won’t repeat the monologue Dennis and I shared that evening, since some of the language was graphic and may be disturbing to younger audiences. Suffice it to say, the computer is up and running and resuming its usual distractions…and Dennis is satisfactorily apologetic. (By the way, check out my new pearl earrings!)

I also spent a week one day at Welfare Square… canning. I know. I know. The thought strains the limits of credulity. Nevertheless, it is true. My assignment was to screw the lids on jars of pear sauce. No brainer, right? I watched as the pear sauce foreman demonstrated the technique with admirable dexterity, barely able to conceal a yawn. I mean, really, how hard can it be?

The jars move in lines of four along a conveyor belt. Four women, two on either side of the conveyor belt, take a lid from a nearby box, and twist it on the pre-assigned jar. My jar was #3.

We assumed our appointed positions, hair nets claustrophobically bound to our scalps. Suddenly, the belt began to move with a jerk. I was armed with my lid in hand, ready for my pre-emptive strike in anticipation of bottle #3. It arrived. I slapped the lid on the jar, I twisted with the exact amount of foot pounds of pressure per second per second, and #3 bottle of pear sauce went merrily on its journey around the corner and out of sight. Slick. Bring it on!

Things proceeded with astonishing regularity for the course of about 3 lids, and I felt myself easing into a tranquil tedium. However, there must have been a defect in the #4 lid. It did not settle into the grooves at the mouth of the bottle as its predecessors had. In a panicked attempt to rectify the deviant, I leaned over my sister-in-law trying to readjust the miscreant lid. By that time, the next quartet of jars was coming at me with obvious sinister motive…malevolent and intimidating. I was trying to grasp a lid from a mountain of unrecognizable metal, while resuming my position on my stool, but I missed. My alarm transitioned instantly to frustration, and the cursive mutterings under my breath became curiously amplified. Before long, I couldn’t grab a lid nor even locate my #3 bottle before it rounded the corner with a vengeance. Vicki managed to salvage several of my #3’s while maintaining her unbroken rhythmical cadence by seamlessly placing a lid on each of her #1 jars. (No wonder my in-laws always liked her best!)

I feared the retribution of the pear sauce warden, but the situation was so reminiscent of Lucy and Ethel in the candy factory. It was my worst nightmare…trapped in a 50’s sit com with Lucy Ricardo and a hair net!

Of course, I started hysterically, maniacally laughing till the mascara tears blurred my vision, and several bottled quartets with steamy pulpy contents undulated in parastaltic hiccoughs past my station in mocking contempt. Mercifully the machine temporarily broke down, and we got a momentary reprieve before it was up and running again, and I
was forced into confrontation with an endless onslaught of demon Mason jars.

After an eternity (actually it was about 2 &1/2 hours) our team was replaced by the next shift. (I’m sure it was a humanitarian gesture on the part of the pear sauce warlords) But we were allowed to purchase 7 cases of the pear sauce…available only to those who had taken a shift with the cursed lids. This pear sauce is like mother’s milk to us. For several months, it was the only food Dennis could eat and retain. The stuff is like pulpy gold. My happiness to see the end of my shift was exceeded only by the joy of the entire canning staff, and I emerged into daylight staggering and disheveled…bloodied, but not bowed. (And my car was triumphantly loaded with 84 jars of pear sauce and one discarded hair net.)

I am happily retiring my hair net in the rafters of Welfare Square…at least until we finish off jar # 83!

We cannot keep count of all we are thankful for this year. Dennis actually has muscle mass ( due, no doubt, to copious helpings of pear sauce). I have been known to sleep in excess of six hours without interruption. When sleep eludes me, however, I count canning jars by fours until, by degrees, utter boredom over-takes me, and I fall into a stupor.

We will celebrate Christmas with greater simplicity…and greater intensity, and count dear friends and family as life’s sweetest gifts.

The Clot

1 comment:

Brian and Emily said...

I am very aware that my mother in law makes everything look simple. I keep watching her to see if she uses some kind of magic spell. Next time you need your computer fixed call Brian I am sure he would be more than happy to help you unless you want to try for a new pearl necklace!