Aunty Depression

Chasing the blues away with humor

Beer Bottle Billie Jean February 4, 2015

A friend sent me this video. I’d never seen anything like it, and as I was watching I wondered how these guys came up with using beer bottles to make a song. The following scene unfolded in my head as if I’d been there with them.

Disclaimer: This is all made up. I don’t know these guys or anything about them. I have made all of this up.

It’s a Sunday morning. A bunch of fraternity boys from a university like the one in Animal House are sprawled like rag dolls on couches and chairs, empty beer bottles everywhere. One of them, who doesn’t get hangovers, is awake. He starts blowing into an empty bottle to entertain himself while he waits for the others to get up. He also plays violin, having been enrolled in the Suzuki program as a child by his over-achieving parents.

He notices that the sound he’s blowing in the beer bottle is an F note. He grabs a different size bottle and it produces a C. Another bottle, slightly bigger, gives him a G. He starts tooting, “Louie, Louie” in the classic C – F – G pattern of most popular songs. His friends gradually come to life and roll over on the floor and couches to see what’s up, intrigued.

“Hey, let me try that,” one of them says.

“Get your own bottles,” he says.

Pretty soon all are experimenting with making music, forgetting about their hangovers. One is a really good organizer, a little OCD, and he picks up an empty six-pack container and loads it with six different size bottles. A few minutes later he says, “Check this out.” He moves his mouth over the bottles like he’s playing a giant harmonica, and toots their fraternity’s theme song close enough that the others recognize it.

Everyone is impressed, and they crawl around looking for cartons, too. One of them spots an empty water jug and pats it a couple of times. “Look, we could use this for bass notes.”

The fraternity president has slept through most of this, but he eventually rouses from the couch and curses them for waking him up. They ignore him, and he takes a leak. He decides he needs to join in, so he finds an empty eight-pack carton in the kitchen and gathers bottles off the counter to fill it. He’s musically inclined and catches on quickly. Soon he figures out the Michael Jackson song, “Billie Jean,” the one that was in his head when he woke up because someone kept playing it over and over last night. The others start following him. He becomes their band leader. “Play a couple of bass notes on that water jug,” he says. “That’s good. Now PT, lemme hear you do the intro.”

After a while, the marketing major says, “We sound pretty good. I think we should video this and put it on YouTube. I can talk to the priest at the Cathedral and see if we can record it there. The acoustics are great.”

“Good idea,” the president agrees, “and that’ll make it classier than doing it here.”

After a week of practicing and recording to get their moves just right, they video their song at the Cathedral, and the marketing major posts it on YouTube, where it goes viral. They become idols throughout the world. Someone signs them to do a tour.

And you and me, we’ll never look at a beer bottle again without hearing “Billie Jean” tooting in our heads.


Machinery and the Difference Between Men and Women July 22, 2013

I recently decided for the first time to pressure wash the concrete around my house, but I couldn’t get the pressure washer to start after pulling on the cord a few times,  So I did what every smart American woman does when she can’t get machinery to work, I asked a big, strong, burly neighbor to help me.

Sheila moseyed over and yanked the cord a few times but with no success.

So I consulted Google and found a video on YouTube showing a guy repeatedly pulling the cord of an identical pressure washer for what appeared to be hours. I’ve put the video below so you can enjoy it for yourself. Skip the first 3 minutes in which he shows he has gas in it, all the knobs are in the right places, etc.

Another site said to check the air filter. It looked fine – I had no idea what it was supposed to look like. But checking helped, because when I put the cover back on I noticed a 1-800 number. I called it and told the woman who answered that I couldn’t get the contraption started.

She laughed. “There’s a couple of things you can do to make it start,” she said with the twang of a southern accent. “If it’s been over a year since you had it running, you’ll need to drain the gas out of the engine. Gas can get stale quickly with all these new additives like ethanol – sometimes after only a month sitting idle.”

“How do I do that?” I whimpered. I don’t like messing with gas. You can scrub your hands for days and the smell still won’t come off.

“It’s really easy, and I’m going to tell you exactly how to do it,” she said in a voice you’d use to calm a frightened child. “Get you a jug like an empty milk jug. Then take some pliers and squeeze the clamp together on the fuel line. Do you see what I’m talking about?”

“Ummm, yeah if it’s that black tube thingy.”

“ThAT’S IT! Now when you get it unclamped, put the end of the tube into the milk jug and drain the gas out. I’ll stay here on hold until you’re done.”

It was as easy as she described. “Okay, I got the gas drained, now what?”

“Reconnect your fuel line and fill the tank with fresh gas. Then make sure to hold the pressure washer handle in while you’re pulling the cord or it won’t start. I know it sounds hard but you can’t get it started unless you do. You’ll also need to hold the handle in while it’s running.”

After she promised she’d answer if I called back, I hung up and did as she instructed. It was too hard to hold the handle of the pressure washer at the same time I pulled the cord, so I got some ribbon and tied it around the handle to keep it squeezed tight. Then I used both hands to pull the cord, and after a couple of pulls the thing sputtered and then settled into a steady roar.

Contrast my experience with the guy in the video, pulling and tugging and doing the same thing over and over and over without any success. Notice he is also not holding the handle in while he pulls. It reminds me of a man who drive around lost for hours rather than stop and ask for directions. Or a man who won’t read instructions or product manuals, and certainly won’t call customer service except to cuss somebody out.

Women know it saves a lot of time to get help, and we need all the time we can get to accomplish everything we have to do in a day. A man, however, has plenty of time – he’s just cutting into his, “Duck Dynasty” and “Deadliest Catch” appointments with the sofa. So why not spend an extra little while appearing busy and frustrated and cussing at a machine so he looks like a hero when he finally gets the thing running? Or better still, announces in exasperation that he’ll have to put it in the shop because it’s broken, thus avoiding the chore altogether for a week or two.

Oh, and by the way, when I’m talking here – or elsewhere – about “a man,” I am most certainly NOT talking about my husband.


The Fine Art of Mole Herding May 15, 2013

Filed under: Humor — auntyd @ 6:02 am
Tags: , , , ,

It’s that time of year when, overnight, your lawn sprouts a million dirt tee-pees caused by mole infestation. You want to get rid of the pesky varmints, and you’ve tried poison pellets, lethal gas, impaling them on a pitchfork, but they keep coming back.

Quite by accident, I’ve found a way you probably haven’t tried: mole herding.

Let me explain. I was walking my dog in the park the other day, and a crow flew out of the woods right in front of me. It had a mole in its clutches. The crow landed about twenty feet away and dropped the mole, ready to feast on a nice fuzzy warm breakfast.

On impulse, I shooed the crow away because, without thinking, I felt pity for the mole. The crow flew a few feet away and stood there squawking at me, and I’m pretty sure it was saying, “You lousy (insert trashy word of your choice), how DARE you steal my mole.”

I asked myself, “What the HELL are you going to do with this mole out here in the middle of the park? Because you KNOW that crow will waddle right straight over here the minute you leave.”

And I answered, “Why, I’ll get a plastic bag and pick the sweet little thing up and put it safely back in the woods.”

Even as I said the words, I knew it was a lie. I was pretty sure you can feel a mole squirming through plastic. I’d drop it and run shrieking. This I knew.

So I stood there looking at the mole, which was trying to hide in the short grass, and looking at the crow, which was watching me with a scowl on its face. I could drag this part of the story out for a long, long time – I believe it’s that interesting. But suffice it to say that after about five minutes, I bummed a plastic bag from a dog walking passer-by and spent the next ten minutes trying to get my nerve up to grab the mole.

Two men I knew came by and asked what I was doing standing there up there in the grass. After I explained my dilemma, one of them advised me to use a stick to coax the mole into the bag. A BRILLIANT plan.

I opened the bag a few inches in front of the mole, got a stick, and tapped the little black thing on its bottom. The mole went toward the bag but dodged around it and stopped. “Crap,” I thought, “a shifty little mole.” But it had moved about half a foot. Was it possible, I said to myself, to herd a mole thirty feet to the safety of the woods?

I gently nudged it with the stick, and it went forward a few inches. With more prompting it went a foot or so, and then kept going with an occasional encouraging tap. We’d gone about fifteen feet when it came to the gravel on the side of the blacktop walking path and the mole nose-dived into the gravel, digging frantically with those little pink hands. I had to put the stick under its belly several times to raise it out of there. Finally it got the message and continued on across the blacktop path and another mowed area until it reached the tall grass at the edge of the woods, where it disappeared.

This experience showed me that there is a more humane way to get rid of yard vermin. Wait for them to come out of their holes and then herd them to your least favorite neighbor’s yard. It’s easier than you think, and quite satisfying on so many levels.


Miracle Cure for Restless Leg Syndrome April 29, 2013

Filed under: Health — auntyd @ 9:00 pm
Tags: ,

I have to tell you about my miracle cure for restless leg syndrome. I’d never heard of this malady until I saw the first commercials for drugs to help it, and I thought, “Honestly, how restless could a leg be to make someone take drugs with all those ridiculous side effects?”

And then there I was, sitting in a La-Z-Boy watching “The Big Bang Theory” and for no reason my leg started to jerk. It kind of jerked on it’s own, like when the doctor thumps your knee with that pointy rubber thing and your leg swings out and bonks him in the crotch.

It’s like an eye twitch – just comes on without any warning causes this motion on you eyelid that you have no control over. Except with the leg, there’s this weird sensation before each twitch – not pain, just an odd, disquieting feeling. It keeps on going – once I timed it and my leg jerked every seventeen seconds.

So then I start getting the twitches in bed at night. I’d be dog-tired after working all day and doing a couple of hours of yard work or taking a hike, and looking so forward to sleep. Just when I turned the light out and got snuggled down in the covers with my little dog pressed up against my leg nice and cozy-like, I’d feel that sensation and the leg jerked, practically knocking the little dog across the room. She’s wondering why I whacked her, and I’m wondering why a couple of minutes before I couldn’t keep my eyes open, but now I’m lying there looking at the bedroom ceiling like an owl. I’d shift positions to try and get comfortable and ward off the twitches, but nothing helped. I’d toss for a couple of hours, and then finally the poor pooch and I would fall into exhausted sleep.

The other night I could NOT get to sleep, so I decided to get up and consult Google. I’d done this before but couldn’t find a cause or any cure except taking prescription drugs to help with the symptoms. This time I asked Google about “Natural Cures for Restless Leg Syndrome.” Google coughed up a ton of websites.

I went to one site that had 27 pages of cures, 5 or 6 cures per page. I read about 10 pages with people describing their misery and things they’d tried – like eating a teaspoon of French’s yellow mustard before bed or drinking tonic water. Some said they’d taken the drugs for years.

Then I came across an intriguing one. The person wrote that it worked like a charm and completely got rid of her restless leg. She said to stand or sit and extend your left arm (has to be the left one) straight to the side like you’re trying to look like an airplane. Then you make figure 8’s. They’re supposed to be parallel to the floor, so you’re not making this big swooping thing where the arm goes toward the floor and then ceiling. You’re just making a fairly flat figure 8 taking your arm forward and back. She said to do it 16-20 times, 3 or 4 times a day. Also do figure 8’s with the left (only left) leg.

So I got out of bed and did the left arm figure 8. I had done about 13 of them when I felt this warm sensation in my right leg (the one that’s restless). When I got to 20, I did the figure 8’s with the left leg. Then I got in bed, snuggled under the covers and waited for the twitching to begin.

And I waited, and waited. It never started back up. Not even a hint of a twitch. I couldn’t believe it. I went to sleep for the first time in a couple of years without a jerk! And I’m not talking about my husband. It was fabulous! I got seven hours of good sleep and felt like a million bucks the next day.

I’ve done the figure 8’s for 6 days and still no twitches – not in the bed and not in the La-Z-Boy, which is the other place I used to get them all the time. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am. It’s a medical miracle, and it didn’t cost a thing.

I’m curious as a kitten about why this works, so if you know, please share.


Pepper Goes to Camp March 13, 2013

Filed under: Pets,Uncategorized — auntyd @ 6:55 am
Tags: , ,

Today when I went walking with my friend at the park, we saw a mini yellow school bus with several moms hovering around. The driver backed down the steps in the doorway of the bus. He was holding two leashes.

“Whoa,” I said to my friend. “Isn’t that, uh, politically incorrect to put kids on a lease?”

“Cha-yeah,” Laurie snorted. Then the noses of two dogs appeared at the end of the leashes. We stopped to gawk.

“Here you go,” the driver said to a woman who stepped forward. “They both did very well, but you know Pepper cheats at poker.”

“Oh, I know,” she said, laughing. “Whenever he and the other dogs play, he usually ends up with all their dog biscuits.” The other moms chuckled.

Dogs coming home from camp on a mini-bus

I sidled up to a woman toward the back. “What’s going on?” I asked.

“These guys are just coming home from a weekend doggie camp.”

“Really?” I said. “And they bring them back on a bus?”

“Oh, yes. They pick them all up here Friday afternoon and bring them back on Monday.”

“Really? Did I hear him say poker?” I asked.

The woman laughed. “That’s just a joke,” she said, “you know, like those velvet paintings of dogs playing cards?”

“Um, no.”

“Oh you know, like the ones they paint of dogs gathered around the table smoking cigars and playing cards, with aces sticking out of their caps and pockets?”

“I know the ones,” Laurie said. “Dogs playing poker. It’s a classic.”

“Anyway they just have a fabulous time at the camp. Oh here’s my little Poopskie now.” She went forward and scooped up a small white bijon poodle.

My friend elbowed me. “Boy the school system has gone to the dogs.”

“I’ll say.”

“Take a picture. The windows are all steamed up but you can see dogs sitting in the seats looking out.” So I snapped a picture of the bus before we proceeded on our walk.

“Can you imagine,” I said. “Here’s the bus driver –  ‘All right, everybody ready to have fun today? Okay, well let’s go! No. Wait. No. Pepper, no. I’m telling you, you’d better put that leg down. Put it down. I… will… put… a… cone…. on…. your… head… if you don’t put that leg down NOW. All right that’s it. I’m pulling this bus over, mister. You’re getting a cone head.’”

“Oh my gosh,” Laurie said. “Can’t you see that little white bijon saying, ‘Mr. Bus Driver, Chico keeps climbing on me and thumping like a bunny. Make him stop.’”

“Oh, and when they get to the place, all of them keep walking around smelling each other for the first hour and forming these little trains like circus elephants.”

“That’s too funny,” Laurie said, laughing. “I can see it.”

“And their moms pack them little doggie lunches and they trade back and forth. ‘I got a Milk Bone I’ll trade somebody for a Pupperoni stick.’”

“And there’s this one poor mutt that only has a baggie with cheap dry dog food and they all make fun of him.”

We keep walking, giggling the way you do when things get silly and it feels good to laugh and you don’t want to be the one who stops it.

“And then they play Frisbee and all the sissy dogs sit over to the side and get in little snarling matches because they can’t catch a Frisbee.”

“And then it’s nap time and there’s a big room with towels and little blankets, and they all pick theirs and start pawing and scratching them around the room until all at once they stop, walk around the towels three times, and then lie down.”

“And one of them says, ‘I’m dog tired.’”

“Yeah, and another one says, ‘It’s a dog’s life.”

“And another dog sees Chico messing with the bijon, and says, ‘It’s a dog eat dog world.’”

She leaned into me laughing and almost knocked me into a skateboarder whizzing by.

“Then one of them won’t is all hyper so the guy says, ‘You better settle down right this minute buster or you’re going in the doghouse.’”

“And he whimpers and covers his eyes with his paws.”

“And then one of them lets an SBD and they all get up and start sniffing each other’s butts trying to figure out where it came from.”

“And that bijon says, ‘This is the last time I tell you, Chico. Get your ice cold nose off of my ass.’”

“Yeah and they settle backdown but start making fun of Chico because his mom dressed him in a tiny red plaid sweater that says, ‘Macho Man,’ across the back.”

“And it’s got pompoms hanging off it that are bigger than his cojones.”

“Except he doesn’t have any.”

“Well then, how come he keeps wanting to thump the bijon?”

“Uh, don’t know, maybe muscle memory.”

As we start toward the large hill on the backside of Gabriel Park, I wonder how much longer we can keep this foolishness up – I’m already winded from the giggles, but I don’t want it to stop, so I say, “And then it’s time to go home and they all start howling, ‘99 bottles of beer,’ on the little bus and the bus driver gets really mad.,”

“And they’re smoking cigars and playing poker and one of them has a couple of aces sticking out of his bandana.”

“They get back here to the park and the bus is all foggy because of the cigar smoke but the moms think it’s just from them panting.”

“And the seats are all chewed up because they ripped chunks out every time the driver wasn’t looking and spit them across the aisles at each other.”

“Then they climb off the bus wagging their tails and the bijon starts yapping, and what’s she’s trying to say is, ‘Please don’t make me go back there ever again. They’re all just a bunch of ANIMALS!’”

“And her mom says, ‘Oh you had such a good time, didn’t you? I’ll just have to send you back again next weekend so you can play with all your new little friends.’”

“And Chico cocks one eyebrow up and says, ‘I’ll be waiting, mi amor.’”

“Oh my gosh, Suzanne, you should write this down. This is too funny.”

So I did.


Shedding Some Light on Christmas Part 2 December 5, 2012

I didn’t get my lights put up yet as planned (see Part 1), which means that I’ve had all this time to dread going outside and stinging lights which, if history repeats itself, will burn out as soon as I’ve arranged them. And spiders.

You’d think self-respecting spiders would have gone somewhere like Hawaii for the winter rather than loitering around here in freezing, rainy Oregon, especially since all their prey was smart enough to skedaddle already.

These are hearty, hungry spiders in the shrubs and low hanging branches where the Christmas lights go. They have beefy muscles to keep warm, and thick hair that sheds the rain. They are the WWE wrestlers of the spider world.

These guys like my face. No matter where I put the Christmas lights, at least one spider will end up spread-eagle on my face, staring me in the eye and saying, “Was this you what messed up my web? Hey! Yeah, I’m talkin’ to YOU.”

Hideous as they are, spiders aren’t the least of my worries. The wind is blowing out there, and branches from big trees regularly come crashing down like bowling balls.

Electrical outlit deep in the bushes.

Here’s the outlet deep in the bushes. Notice cord leading away toward the house – spiders not visible because they are camera shy

But the thing I dread most is getting on my hands and knees to plug all those partially-burnt out lights into the little electrical boxes my husband located under the small shrubs he planted years ago – the ones that grew like kudzu and have completely engulfed the boxes. Oddly, the electrician who wired them (“Electricians R Us”) installed them facing away from the house, toward the street, presumably so I could run lights over to the neighbors. That added little touch sends me over the festive cliff and really gets my Bah, Humbug revved up.

While I’m grumbling about lights, let me add that three years ago I spent a hefty sum to buy four strings of cute little ball-shaped LED lights that are supposed to last 9 times longer than the less expensive regular lights. I tested before taking them outside, and none of these strings lit up. Not one. I thought maybe it was because one of the bulbs was loose, but each one is “locked” in, so nothing is loose. I unlocked one and pulled it out to find that the whole inside was as rusty as cars in a redneck’s front yard. There is no way I can fix that.

It’s just gotten dark enough to don my gay apparel and head out into the black night to face the spiders and prickly bushes. If you don’t hear from me in awhile, check under the big bush to the left of the entry. There was a giant spider out there the other day, and I fear he is NOT going to be in the Christmas spirit.


Shedding Some Light on Christmas November 26, 2012

In the spirit of the holiday season, tonight I’m going to risk my life on a rickety ladder pulling giant red bins off the top shelves in the garage to get to the Christmas lights. They’re stacked so high I have to rope myself off like a mountain climber lest I fall to my death on the concrete floor. Here in Oregon it has been dry for 2 days, and according to the weatherman, we’ve got one day left before the rain comes back and pours until July – I have to use this window of opportunity to get those outside lights done!

If I survive getting all ten monstrous bins down without breaking something (on me – who cares about the bins), I’ll dig through them all until I find the one with the lights that mostly don’t work. I’ve purchased replacement strings every year for the last ten years, but by New Year’s Day, only forty percent of the lights will still be twinkling. They will either go out individually or malfunction in thirds – 1/3 of the string will be lit and 2/3’s won’t.

Only two stings of cheap lights that are twenty-plus years old always manage to stay lit. I bet I could cut them with scissors and they’d still work. The new ones burn out in direct proportion to what I pay for them. I thought if I quit buying off brands (like “Great Balls of Fire Outdoor Lights**”) I’d get more life out of them, but that has not been the case. Au contraire, the more I spend, the quicker they die.

Each year when I plug these newer strings in to see if they’ve burned out while in storage (and of course some have), I try and figure out which culprit in the sting of 100 is the lowlife causing the whole bunch to go belly up. Then I go out in the cold night and throw them all over the yard to make a festive display because I’m practically the only one on our small block that decorates. They count on me. “Your house makes the whole street look merry and bright,” they say. It would be a lot merrier and brighter if they would bring me some spiked cocoa.

Their compliments are no longer enough to make me enthusiastic about this whole thing. The last couple of years I’ve strung a bunch of faulty lights together in a long line that looks like a redneck’s teeth – some white, then a black gap, then some more white. I fling them at the shrubs like I’m casting a net into the ocean. After a few minor adjustments to camouflage the un-lit parts of the strings, I call it good.

It doesn’t make much difference whether it looks decent when I finish anyway, because in the next couple of weeks, one by one, whole sections will go out and it will look like a city with a power outage – a few lights here and there, but mostly dark.

Let more ambitious people meticulously cover every inch of their yards and exhaust their savings with sleighs, Santas, reindeer, toilets filled with plastic poinsettias, snowmen, elves, etc. In the spirit of Christmas, I hope everyone has some twinkle in their yards and in their hearts, and if they’re lucky, a husband or contractor to put all that crap there for them.