Maladjusted Mondays, Week 11

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. This series is a collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. (Thanks to Linda for hosting me!) I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

And now for the eleventh post in the series, which first appeared on my blog March 1, 2017.

Protein Shaken, Part 2
Police Drawing of the Suspect
Police Drawing of the Suspect

When last we left Jan, she was wiping splashed protein shake from her face and was about to clean up the (major) portion that had dripped behind the refrigerator.

Spill + 3 minutes: Step one– Pull the fridge out away from the wall.

Spill + 4 minutes: Step t–wait, I’m still tryna move the fridge.

Spill + 11 minutes: It simply wouldn’t budge. I looked everywhere for the user manual.

Spill + 18 minutes: I couldn’t find any manual, so I looked it up on LG’s website. The online manual showed how to do every possible thing you might ever want to do with a fridge…. EXCEPT move it.

Spill + 24 minutes: I got on phone with a very nice person at LG, who spoke pretty good English as long as she didn’t have to stray from the script.

Spill + 25 minutes: We had to stray from the script.

As near as I could tell, she was claiming that I first had to retract the wheels so that the feet, not the wheels, were touching the floor.

Spill + 32 minutes: The LG lady wasn’t familiar with the term “counter-intuitive.”

Besides, I couldn’t even see the wheels OR feet, because a handy rubbery barrier like a giant squeegee blocked my view. You couldn’t get too mad, I guess, since it probably saved hundreds of green peas and blueberries from rolling under there and going bad.

Spill + 1 hour, 13 minutes: Brent came home.

Spill + 1 hour, 14 minutes: Brent wished he hadn’t come home.

Spill + 1 hour, 27 minutes: Brent somehow figured out how to get those stupid wheels to turn.

By the time we got the fridge rolled forward enough to clean behind it, I figured the shake mix would’ve dried up and I’d have to sort of chip it off the wall and floor. Not so… the protein had coagulated into wet, sticky, dark brown clots.

My kitchen floor looked like a violent-crime scene with dust bunnies.

That happened about a year ago, and I’m still having flashbacks.

I can assure you, though, that every time I serve up a scoop of protein-shake powder, I turn well away from the blender before re-closing the bag.

Maybe I should get a roll of Crime Scene tape, just in case.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 10

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. This series is a collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. (Thanks to Linda for hosting me!) I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

And now for the tenth post in the series, which first appeared on my blog February 27, 2017.

Protein Shaken, Part 1

Seriously, I still can’t find an honest appliance anywhere. And if they’d only cooperate, I could really use their help with my fitness goals.

See, I don’t mind being kind of matronly, but I don’t want to overdo it. So not only do I exercise, but I also try to go easy on my beloved carbs and take in more protein instead. I rely on my bullet blender for a smooth protein shake.

img_7002Protein shake powder? Great. Especially in chocolate.

Recloseable press-and-seal zipper bag? Wonderful.

Zipping the bag closed while standing right next to a bullet-blender cup full of protein powder, ice, and water?
Not cool.

One night I was fixing a shake and had set the ice-and-water-filled blender cup on my postal scale to measure the powder.

Turns out, the postal scale and the bullet blender are in cahoots.

Gripping one end of the bag with my left hand, I used my right to pinch the zipper closed. I did this by getting it started and then squeezing while pulling my right hand across the top, away from my left. Everything was fine until somehow my right hand slipped off the shiny bag.

The sudden release caused me to backhand the plastic blender cup right off the scale. It arced through the air, slammed into the side of the fridge, bounced off, landed on its feet on the countertop… and fell over backward from surprise. The cold, blackish-brown, sloshy, powdery contents were running off the edge of the counter and dribbling down behind the refrigerator before I could finish pointlessly yelling “NOOOOOOOooooo!”

I sighed and set the nearly-empty blender cup back on its feet.

Clearly, I had some mopping up to do.

A pain in the neck, but at least mopping is simple enough…. right?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Next time: Part 2, in which even the refrigerator joins in the mutiny…

Thanks for reading,

Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 9

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. This series is a collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. (Thanks to Linda for hosting me!) I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

And now for the ninth post in the series, which first appeared on my blog February 20, 2017.

Kitchen(Aid) Mix-up (The mixer)

slappyAfter years getting along with just a hand-held mixer for all my baking, I finally bought a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. One great thing about my old Oster stand mixer–it had that turntable thing that lets the bowl spin around so you can scrape down the sides with a spatula while the double beaters do their job off to one side. I’m still getting used to the fixed-position bowl and the wacky single “tilt-a-whirl” beater that pirouettes around, slapping against the ingredients. And as you may know, I’ve become rather suspicious of my appliances anyway.

So when the time came to bake cookies for friends who were coming over, I plugged in the mixer with some anxiety. Creaming the butter and sugars went well, however.

It’s no surprise that I got cocky.

I decided I could crack the eggs into the bowl while the mixer was running…

I did okay with the first egg, but managed to drop half the second one’s shell into the dough. Before I could react, Slappy the Beater had twirled through half a dozen revolutions, shoving ever-smaller pieces of eggshell into the soft dough.

News Flash: There is no way on earth to find all the fragments of eggshell in a bowl of slippery butter-and-sugar mix.

Ever the optimist, Brent said, “You got most of it, though, didn’t you?”

“How would I know?” I said, up to my wrists in dough. “Aaack–there’s another piece. I can’t serve crunchy chocolate chip cookies! I’ll have to start over!”cookies

And so I did. This time, before cracking each egg, I cut the motor and propped that beater up out of the way.

The cookies were delicious.

And I am now on guard against Slappy the Beater.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 8

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. This series is a collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. (Thanks to Linda for hosting me!) I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

And now for the eighth post in the series, which first appeared on my blog January 30, 2017.

The Myth of Scheduled Office Hours at Home (The Smoke Alarm)

Last Monday I told Brent, “I’ve got my Aquatics class at the gym tomorrow morning. Then I’m going to spend the rest of the day writing.”

“Okay, but also call the dentist about that swelling,” he advised. I rubbed my tender jaw and agreed.

Tuesday morning, once fully awake, I started noticing an odd chirp! coming from upstairs. Up I went to investigate.

Chirp!

It was coming from my office.

Great. The smoke alarm battery must be down. I’d change it after my class.

First, after the gym and breakfast, I ignored the chirp! long enough to call the dentist. When I explained about the sore, swollen area below a recent filling, the receptionist told me, “Come to the office in about an hour and let Dr. S. check it.”

“Okay,” I sighed.

Chirp!

The next few hours were a blur of chores; going to the dentist; learning I need a root canal; running a few errands since I was in the area anyway; calling around to figure out which specialist might be in our network; filling a prescription for antibiotics; and finally making an appointment–from my car–with the specialist, while waiting for the prescription.

Home at last.

Chirp!

Time to do something about that smoke alarm.

Found the 9-volt batteries, lugged a ladder upstairs, changed the battery. Whew!

Chirp!

Really? Now what?

Texted our builder. At his advice, I checked the other smoke alarms and risked life and limb to change batteries in two of them.

Chirp!

Unplugged the unit in my office and removed the battery in an effort to silence the Zombie Smoke Alarm That Wouldn’t Die.

Chirp!

I mean, really.... what more could I have done??
I mean, really…. what more could I have done??

While it was unplugged anyway, vacuumed the alarm in case dust was causing the signal.

Chirp!

Texted builder: “Still chirping.”

He replied: “Throw it in the pool.”

We arranged for the electrician to come the next morning. Maybe the unit itself was defective. For overnight, I’d just close the office door and hope the stupid thing didn’t keep us awake.

My office hours were almost over and I hadn’t typed one single word. I sat down to the computer, and…

Chirp!

… got up and left the room.

When Brent came home, he went upstairs to see for himself.

Chirp!

“If everything is unplugged, what’s making the sound?” he asked sensibly.

I shrugged. “It’s coming from the ceiling. Must be in the wiring or something.”

Brent stood on the ladder for a few minutes.

Chirp!

He looked toward the top of my bookcase a few feet away. “I think it’s…”

And at that exact moment I remembered the carbon monoxide / explosive gas monitor he’d bought when we smelled gas around my little office fireplace. I’d plugged it in behind my desk and set the unit out of sight on top of the bookcase, as high as possible per instructions.

Brent reached behind the life-size silk magnolia blossom I’d put on the top shelf, and pulled out the offending monitor.

“Well, the gas got fixed weeks ago,” I explained, “so when I got under the desk to plug in Dad’s lamp, I just unplugged the gas monitor.”

“Aaaaand, it’s been on battery backup,” he said. “Until the battery died overnight.”

“Ooops.”

First we removed the dead battery from the Mystery Monitor.

Then I texted our builder: “Cancel the electrician; Brent figured it out. I’ll explain later if you promise not to laugh.”

Silence, believe me, is golden.

Maybe tomorrow I can have scheduled office hours at home.

I wonder what will happen…….

Thanks for reading!
Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 7

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. This series is a collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. (Thanks to Linda for hosting me!) I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

And now for the seventh post in the series, which first appeared on my blog June 9, 2015.

It’s Gettin’ Ugly (the Sewing Machine)

The lit-fuse bomb is actually the least scary thing about the patch.

I haven’t had any trouble with my appliances in quite a while. It’s been so long, in fact, that when Brent asked me to sew Velcro backing onto six military patches for his paintball team, I didn’t even have a panic attack.

Silly me.

First off, I had to deal with the patches themselves. These things were Ugly–so hideous I could barely bring myself to touch them.

It’s only an embroidered design, I told myself. You won’t get bitten, or mange, or fleas, from embroidered spider monkeys. And don’t take that expression on their little faces so personally–they’re not out to get you.

The thick plastic-y Velcro hook material gave me all sorts of trouble with the lower thread tension. Somehow I got one patch done and started another. But soon the top thread got jerked under the fabric and tangled down inside the mechanism. I had to take the “twist-back-and-forth” bottom-thread-grabbing assembly apart to cut out the ruined thread. And for the first time ever in more than 40 years of sewing experience, I could NOT put the thread-grabby thing back together properly.

I mean, it looked okay when I snapped the brackets into place. But I realized something was amiss after the thread broke again. Twice more.

Things went downhill from there. I assembled the twisty thing again, re-threaded the machine, and…

Broke the thread.
RE-re-threaded.
Broke my needle.
Cut the partially-stitched patch loose from machine and threw it across the room.
Trekked to the sewing box at the other end of the house for a new heavy-duty needle.
Removed first needle (both pieces).
Discovered I’d been using a fine-gauge one intended for lightweight fabrics.
Apologized to the sewing machine.
Replaced broken needle with the new one, rated “Denim.”
Tried one more time to properly re-seat the bottom-thread-grabber assembly.
Ran the machine with no thread to test the assembly; hatch open so I could watch.

By some miracle, this time everything ran smoothly. So I retrieved my long-suffering ugly patch and Velcro from the floor, and gave it another cautious try.
Ka-chuk… ka-chuk… ka-chuk…
ka-chuk-a-chuk, ka-chuk-a-chuk, ka-chuk-a-chuk,
ka-chuk-a-chukachukachukachukachukachukachuk…..

Sweeeet victory! Now for the other four.

One of the patches still ended up looking as if the dog had sewn it together, but at least the chore is done.

You know, despite all my stomping and raving and throwing during the process, I was honestly glad to help Brent with the patches. For one thing, sewing is a skill I have (questionable though it may be) that he doesn’t. I enjoy being needed. Kind of like when I made a window-seat cushion for Secondborn >shudders<.

Besides, Brent does so much for me, often things I don’t have the skill or strength to manage. Like me and my rebellious sewing machine, Brent sometimes helps me in ways he doesn’t enjoy. But he does it anyway out of love and honor for me. The least I can do is honor him in return. We complete each other rather than compete with each other.

As near as I can figure, this practice of putting each other ahead of ourselves is the kind of mutual submission and service that creates a happy marriage for both of us. You know… the kind the Bible teaches.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 6

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. This series is a collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. (Thanks to Linda for hosting me!) I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

Without further ado, here is the sixth post in the series, which first appeared on my blog June 10, 2013.

How Coffee Put Me On Edge (It Ain’t the Caffeine)

For years, coffee made me crazy, and not because of the caffeine.

It was that underhanded coffeemaker of mine.

SunbeamYes, I know:
“Another appliance? Seriously?”

You have every right to ask, after the mishaps I’ve already described here. But hear me out.

I bought Mr. Sunbeam umpteen years ago when we lived in Arizona. That was back when I hated coffee. The only reason I got Sunbeam was so my parents and Brent’s, all coffee enthusiasts, could make their morning brew when any of them were visiting. They would fly or drive clear across the desert to see us. For my part, I’d unearth Mr. Sunbeam, dust him off and set him out on the counter. Oh, and run out to buy the smallest can of coffee I could find.

Years later when we lived in Texas and I worked in our church office, I started drinking coffee myself. Sometimes I even made a little at home on weekends. Sunbeam migrated out of the back of the pantry and into a place of honor on the kitchen counter.

And speaking of “counter,” Mr. Sunbeam had the most counter-intuitive on/off switch I have ever seen. Sure, it sounds insignificant… but with no automatic shutoff, you couldn’t just go away and leave him on all day. Not unless you wanted the aroma of scorched coffee wafting through the house when you got back.

So you’d go to turn him off. The bright-red switch has no light, only a black dot on the top. The black dot was firmly associated in my mind with a hot curling iron. My logic ran something like:

Black dot = hot = ON.

But Sunbeam was too tricky for that. No, the black dot only showed when the switch was turned OFF. For some reason it was a monumental chore to retrain my brain to read:

Black dot = OFF = not hot.

A tiny thing, to cause so much cognitive dissonance.

Fortunately, I was slightly smarter than my coffeemaker. I just unplugged it after pouring the last cup. Problem solved.

Then, our sons started drinking coffee too. When they came to visit I would make extra. Whoever took the last cup would decide the power was already turned OFF since the switch wasn’t lighted, and go on about their business. Hours later, the aroma of scorched coffee wafting through the house would alert me to the truth.

Well played, Mr. Sunbeam.

I got the last laugh, though–starting with a routine trip to Target one fateful day.

Meet Mr. Coffee: tall, dark and handsome. Not only that, he communicates with me. Notice the little green light that announces to the whole world: Mr. Coffee is ON. He’s practically my soul mate, though no one could ever really take Brent’s place.

But you know, I’m beginning to wonder whether Sunbeam really did make me crazy. Because now I sort of miss the aroma of scorched coffee wafting through the house.

Well… I almost miss it.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 5

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. This series is a collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. (Thanks to Linda for hosting me!) I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

Without further ado, here is the fifth post in the series, which first appeared on my blog October 3, 2012.

Microwave Mutiny!

Everything has been refreshingly peaceful on the appliance front. Once my car’s navigation system recovered from the trauma of having its maps updated, a simple process involving only two all-day road trips to the dealership, our appliances grew quiet and we all settled into a nice, smooth, efficient routine.

I should have known they were plotting a mutiny.

Two weeks ago, Brent’s dinner cooled off as he ate, so he popped his plate into the microwave for 30 seconds. In due time Micro stopped and sounded its signal. Brent pushed the door latch button, as usual, to retrieve his plate.

This time, not only did the door stay shut, but Micro turned itself back on and started cooking again. Several fruitless button-pushing attempts later, Brent’s dinner was overheating and he had to go into full-on Rescue Mode. Against both our better judgments, he pried the door open with a table knife and the microwavery stopped.

“Finally!” he said with relief, extracting the plateful of sizzling food. Then, from force of habit, he pushed the door shut. Micro lurched and started up again. It was like being terrorized by The Thing That Wouldn’t Die, until Brent grabbed the table knife again and put a stop to it.

The edge of the door was looking a bit dinged up.

That’s when the truth struck me: the appliances had discovered my blog posts about them! What other explanation could there be?

We unfastened the “trim kit” frame from the cabinet so we could remove and unplug the microwave, measured the opening for reference, then went on a little impromptu shopping expedition.

Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Target yielded not a single adequate oven that would work with the trim. We flatly refused to buy another trim kit because they cost more than the ovens. It was getting late, so we went home and somehow braved the next morning with no microwave.

The anguish! For instance, I actually had to drink my coffee before it got cold.

The next evening, we ran across an electronics store in Arlington and looked there for Micro’s replacement. We found a nice oven, measured it and took it home. After we wrestled it out of its box, I held the trim up in front of it and released the door. “Clang!” The too-tall door made a nice, cheerful sound hitting the frame. We made some less cheerful sounds and boxed it back up, then set it out in the garage with the broken oven.

Next day was Saturday. We set out, determined to find a microwave. We chose one at Sears, measured it twice, and adopted our second replacement. This time we knew the door was short enough to open through the trim. Sure enough, it opened easily. Then Brent tried to mount the oven onto the little stand that holds it in place on the cabinet floor. This oven was too narrow to fit onto the stand.

We were getting pretty good at re-boxing rejected microwaves.

On Sunday, we stopped by the storage unit and retrieved our son’s old dorm microwave until we could find a real one. By now we had a tower of four microwave ovens in our garage. They were beginning to make me nervous. Brent ended up ordering the same model microwave as the broken one, which after all had lasted five years.

Monday afternoon, we each took a reject microwave back to its store. Then on Thursday, one week after the uprising began, the new microwave arrived and the driver picked up the old one for us. Good riddance. The model had changed a bit; this oven did not quite reach all the way to the back of the stand. Don’t tell anyone, but a short piece of 2×4 filled the space perfectly.

Now all we have to deal with is the much-brighter clock light. The numbers are an intense blue and really light up the kitchen overnight. Seriously, it’s messing with my house plants’ photosynthesis cycle. But at least the door opens without taking knives to it.

And I can walk through the garage again, unarmed and without turning sideways.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 4

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. This series is a collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. (Thanks to Linda for hosting me!) I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

Without further ado, here is the fourth post in the series, which first appeared on my blog March 20, 2012.

James Bond Wants My Vacuum Cleaner

My vacuum cleaner has it in for me. If you’re familiar with the history between me and my appliances, this will not surprise you.

The old vacuum, may it rest in peace, was pretty simple. You just set the carpet height for “low,” “medium,” or “shag,” plugged it in, turned it on and tangoed around the room with it. But you couldn’t use it on bare floors–only carpet.

This newer one has a permanently fixed hose for attachments and offers to vacuum bare floors, too. Add to that the expanses of tile in our house and two shedding dogs, and you can see why we chose it.

Ah, but “more versatile” also means “more complicated,” doesn’t it? This particular model has three different knobs/levers, all of which must be synced for successful vacuuming. For a half-hour aerobic workout combined with strength training, right in your own home, just turn all the settings and latches to the correct positions for whatever vacuuming you want to do. The actual vacuuming job, once you’ve turned the thing on, counts as extra bonus points.

The biggest knob and the easiest to turn, not that it’s all that easy, is located right at the top. It directs the suction either through the hose or from the floor. So far, so good.

Let’s say you set the first selector to “floor.” Then you turn to the base of the machine. This is where things get sticky. The Carpet Height Selector has nine settings, from High to Low. Inexplicably stuck in between Low and Kind-of-Low is the setting for Bare Floor.

A toggle switch to the right, marked “Brush Roll Control,” is deceptively easy to switch from Carpet to Bare Floor. I say “deceptively” because the blasted thing often pretends to go along with your choice, but switches itself once you turn on the vacuum. At that point it becomes almost impossible to switch back. Whichever setting you want, it will without fail revert to the other one.

Last, you have to press the handle release so the vacuum will unbend and you can push it around. DO NOT attempt this unless you have sturdy shoes on. Even Brent almost has to jump up and down on the release before it will… um… release.

But instead, suppose you set the first knob to “hose.” This is more fun, as you get to fix the attachments onto the basic hose, matching extenders and nozzles to the job at hand. Afterward, of course, you have to put all the pieces back into their cubbyholes on the body of the machine. Vague diagrams help a little. It’s like playing with a Transformer.

One day the pretty spring weather called to me. I went out and started pulling weeds in my veggie garden, which was still damp from the last rain. Soon I ran inside the house to answer the phone, without removing my gardening shoes (“my gardening shoes” = a technical term for “my oldest sneakers”). Hours later I noticed the kitchen floor was littered with little dried mud pellets which had fallen off my shoes.

“Boy, it’s a good thing I can vacuum bare floors!” my optimistic self enthused.

After ensuring that the vacuum was set to suck up from the floor and not through the hose, I wrenched the Carpet Height knob around and flicked the toggle switch up so that both were set to “Bare Floor.”

I was barefoot by this time, so I had to slip one foot into a shoe while I jumped on the handle latch until I could get it released. Finally I turned on the vacuum, which proceeded to fling dozens of tiny dried mud pellets at my bare toes. Yep, the brush switch had toggled itself back to Carpet.

It has Transformer capability, ninja skills and secret weapons. And that is why James Bond wants my vacuum cleaner.

Any ideas on how I can finally Bond with my appliances?

Thanks for reading,
Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 3

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. This series is a collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. (Thanks to Linda for hosting me!) I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

Without further ado, here is the third post in the series, which first appeared on my blog September 29, 2011.

Appliance Defiance! (The Navigation System)

If you’ve been with me a while, you already know about my boundary-challenged microwave, and how the washing machine nearly pushed me over the edge. Now, if you can believe it, I have taken to arguing with my car’s navigation system.

The nav, which I like to call my GPS Escort — “GypsE” for short — is built into the dash. GypsE has a pleasant, unaccented feminine voice. I simply push the voice-command button, ask for Navigation, and she invites me to share my goals with her. “What state, please? For Canada, please say a province.”

GypsE then hands my request off to an assistant, who has prepared by making voice recordings of every possible syllable, plus numbers and such, and put them in a file. When called upon, she grabs the pertinent syllables, lines them up in order and plays them back. I refer to her as GypsE’s ReOrdered Syllable Enunciator, or “GypsE ROSE.” She probably means well, but besides having a mechanical-sounding voice, she sometimes has trouble understanding me.

First, before ROSE says anything, I give her the name of a state, town or street as GypsE directs. ROSE listens to my request and shows a list of names that I might possibly have meant. Often, the one I want is at the top of the list, followed by other reasonable choices. Like when I say “Dallas” The list will show “1. DALLAS,” and then “2. ALICE.” So far, so good — GypsE tells me to say a number, I tell her “One,” and we go from there. But some names are less straightforward. Many are of Spanish origin, or German or Czech. Unfortunately, GypsE ROSE is a bit of an “ugly American” — non-English words completely flummox her.

One fine morning I started out for an on-location interview at Fort Parker. I knew how to get there, but thought it might be nice to have a reminder when I got to the highway leading from the Interstate toward Mexia (pronounced “meh-hay-uh”). Since I never go that way, I was afraid of lapsing into auto-pilot and missing my exit.

GypsE and I established that, as usual, I was going somewhere in Texas. Then: “Please say the city name.”

“Meh-hay-uh,” I replied, with some foreboding but perfect diction. ROSE accepted the challenge and came up with:

1. NATALIA
2. MAGNOLIA
3. ROCKDALE (How’d that get in there?)
4. McDADE

I could feel my eyebrows go up as I glanced at the screen full of irrelevant names. “Please say a number from the displayed list…” GypsE, the boss, prompted me.

“What? No,” I sputtered. “I said ‘Meh-hay-uh!'”

GypsE tried to intervene. “Please say again.”

ROSE had me pinned, and she knew it. I backed up to “Please say the city name.” It felt all wrong but finally I gritted out, “Mex-ee-uh.”

ROSE smugly offered a list topped by “1. MEXIA” and “2. LEXINGTON,” which sound nothing alike once you know how the locals pronounce Mexia, whatever language it might come from. “One!” I barked. “Just remind me to exit.”

For another example, take the Spanish word “Grande,” correctly pronounced “Grahn-de.” If you tell ROSE you want “Grande Avenue,” she will think for a moment, then offer options like “1. ANDRE, 2. COTTONWOOD, 3. GARLAND.” If you ever in your life want to find Grande, you have to pronounce it “Grand.”

ROSE can’t even read her own writing. Sometimes she emphasizes the wrong syllables, pauses in the middle of a word or runs two words together, until you can hardly make out what she means.

Once when the directions called for a turn onto “Walnut Grove Road,” ROSE garbled out something like “Waaahll… nutGroveroad.” When driving with friends, I have requested an address on this road, just to get her to say the name for them, like a stupid pet trick.

“Uhl,” pronounced like “Yule,” comes out “Eeeuhghrll.” Every time.

I’ll close for now. I have to go see what GypsE ROSE does with the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana–which is, of course, pronounced “Nack-uh-dish.”

I’m not actually going there, and I don’t need ROSE to guide me. Now I’m just messing with her.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

Maladjusted Mondays, Week 2

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Janice Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. This series is a collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. (Thanks to Linda for hosting me!) I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

Without further ado, here is the second post in the series, which first appeared on my blog on April 19, 2011.

Dances With Washers (The Washing Machine)

I think my washing machine has been taking Zumba classes when I’m not looking. And just when I was starting to show my uppity microwave who’s boss, too. It’s all very discouraging. When are my appliances going to start just doing their jobs and then taking the rest of the day off, like everyone else’s?

The washer, a Maytag, used to behave quite responsibly. Fill, wash, spin, fill, rinse, spin some more, STOP. Repeat as needed. It stood next to the dryer, their sides aligned two inches apart and their fronts perfectly even. Just the way I like it; crooked things bug me. Then, a few months ago, I walked into the laundry room to dry the towels, and almost plowed into the washer. It had shimmied itself away from the wall and was standing at a goofy angle, straining its cold-water fill hose to the limit like a Jack Russell terrier pulling at the leash. I leaned down, embraced Maytag with both arms and ooched it back into place.

Then it started messing with me.

After spinning each load of laundry, Maytag would add an extra “cha-cha” step and end up cocked at an odd angle. Sometimes the difference was subtle, and I could just tug a little on one corner to bring it back into line. Other times it would do “The Bump” against the dryer, or nearly squash the laundry basket into the other corner. I got pretty good at leaning into it with one leg extended back for leverage, doing a sort of tango move to coax Maytag back into its proper place. (I learned the hard way to never, ever try moving it while the tub is full of water.)

One evening Brent came home and walked from the garage into the laundry room to find me thus poised, looking like a cross between a ship’s figurehead and Carol Burnett. I must say, I found it a little insulting when he eased back out the door without a word, instead of offering to help.

I’m not sure what to do about Maytag, or why the sudden interest in dancing.

I wonder if I could talk it into taking a ‘spin’ class instead…

No, that would probably not be challenging enough.

Thanks for reading!
Jan