Category Archives: Awfully Funny

Cock-a-doodle who?

A decade ago, when we were living in our not-so-upscale house in the upscale Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, we had a neighbor with chickens. Like us, she had a not-so-upscale house and a devil-may-care attitude about what the neighbors might think.

During a period of a couple months, I discovered that roosters don’t necessarily crow only in the morning, they crow all day. I thought it was charming. Other neighbors — the upscale ones — didn’t find it charming. They complained, and the flock was made compliant with Seattle law: Three hens, max, and zero roosters.

After that, the chickens were very quiet in their little coop, tucked behind some bushes and against the house in the front yard.

Given this experience, when we were invited to chicken-sit four chickens at a different friend’s house in Seattle, I was puzzled. “How can you have four?” “It’s OK. One of them is not a chicken,” was my friend’s response. This friend will remain nameless, because I’m afraid that the one that is not a chicken acts so much like a chicken, there might be a slight compliance issue. At the risk of being an accessory to the crime, I will not publish any names.

Except for the chickens’ names. First names only.

We arrived at the house for our chicken-sit instructions, and indeed, there were four creatures that looked like chickens. Two brown, two black-and-white. Mango, Frango, and Lucky are chickens. But Clam is simply the most chicken-like clam you’ll ever meet. There is no compliance issue. “This house has three chickens and a clam, Officer.”

Which one of these is not a chicken?
Which one of these is not a chicken?

Like the other girls, Clam bursts out of the coop with a rush of flapping, flying energy when you open the door. Then she runs around the yard, clucking and looking for bugs. She digs up the dirt in the side yard, which may explain why the cucumbers are stunted. She hates being cooped up and wants to be top in the pecking order. She runs over and attempts to eat anything you toss on the ground, whether it’s a cucumber peel or a frisbee. She has been seen drinking from the infamous avian-nipple watering system. She produces award-winning volumes of chicken shit.

But lately I’ve noticed that Clam’s behavior is a little different from the others. Yesterday, she came over to me as I was standing on the patio. I thought she might be suffering from insecurity, being the outsider, so she was going to be more affectionate. “OW!” That was not affection, it was aggression! After she pecked me on the big toe, I punished the whole lot of them by vanquishing them from the backyard. And decided it was no longer a good idea to stand barefoot on the patio.

Ow! (Chicken pecking the photographer's foot)
Ow! (Chicken pecking the photographer's foot)

Today, I went out in the yard wearing clogs. Picking green beans, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my heel. Clam had found the only exposed flesh on my foot and pecked it. Back she went, along with the others, into the Chicken Prison Exercise Yard. Barry seemed relieved.

Barry contemplates the risk of squatting near a clam with a beak
Barry contemplates the risk of squatting near a clam with a beak

Right now, the chicken-sit is pretty easy; the chickens are too young to lay eggs. But what will happen when they start laying? Will Clam lay eggs, too? Or will she lay clams? She just might be the juvenile delinquent of the chicken yard, in which case, I hope she’ll straighten up and fly right. Otherwise, she’ll be out of here, and her owners — no, I still won’t tell you their names — probably won’t give a cluck.

Clam emphatically proclaims, "I am not a chicken!"
Clam emphatically proclaims, "I am not a chicken!"

Couldn’t stand the weather

The little weather thingie Barry installed on our Mac is great. Down at the bottom of the browser window, it displays a 5-day forecast in tiny icons. I thought they were pretty standard icons — a little cloud, a lightning bolt, a sun.

Until one day, sitting at the computer in North Carolina, dripping sweat on the keyboard, I saw a new one.

icon on fire
icon on fire

“Oh my God! The thermometer is on fire!”

Down at the bottom of the screen, there was indeed an icon showing a red thermometer with flames coming out of it. It very nicely illustrated what I was feeling — a day when I thought I might come around a boat and find Lucifer fanning himself, his pitchfork leaning up against a jackstand.

The thermometer-on-fire icon appeared a number of times in North Carolina, although I never saw the Devil. Too humid for him, I guess. But when we got to Seattle, the icons changed. Now they were back to clouds and sun, no lightning bolts or flaming thermometers. Until one day (you can guess where I’m going here), we looked at Forecastfox, which Barry had set to display Seattle weather, and…

“Oh my God! The thermometer is on fire!”

So what do you do in the Northwest when the thermometer is on fire?

We drove down to Yelm, where Tom took us to a special swimming hole. The only slight problem was the fact that we hadn’t brought bathing suits. Tom assured us that they wouldn’t be necessary; it was a private spot, and after all, it was Tuesday.

We drove through cow pastures, parked, and waded, clothed, into the Nisqually River. The banks were lined with evergreen trees, and the water rushed over rocks and little rapids and our ankles. It was totally cool and refreshing — but what was this? Around the corner came an overloaded rubber raft, packed with Mom, Dad, and the kids. It was followed by additional family members in inner tubes. Then a couple of guys popped out of the woods across the river with fishing poles. And another raft went by with two guys, whooping and hollering, and a cooler.

I had resigned myself to wading, when from behind us, yet another person appeared. This place was like Grand Central Station! This time, it was a woman in a sarong who said her name was Boopsie. I’m not sure if that’s her real name, or if that was a skinny-dipping alias. If so, I need a skinny-dipping alias.

Boopsie charged into the river and nearly lost her sarong in the current. Tom chivalrously helped her hang onto it. At least, I think that’s what he was doing. She made her way to a big rock, perched on it like a mermaid, and entertained us with stories of bathing-suit-free adventures in this spot. “I was here one time,” she said, “and I couldn’t hear anything but the rushing of the water on this rock. Well, along came a helicopter from Fort Lewis, super-low over the water, and before I realized what was happening, there I was, eye-to-eye with the pilot. He just hovered there, staring at my you-know-whats and giving me a big grin.” We also grinned and decided to join Boopsie in the river.

Of course, more rafts came by, but when they did, I submerged myself so they wouldn’t see any you-know-whats. Then a helicopter flew by from Fort Lewis, as low as he possibly could. Boopsie waved at the pilot. I sank down so only my nose was above water. Eventually, we got out, refreshed and covered in goosebumps.

My first polar bear swim in 2003
My 2003 polar bear swim

The following day, when we got up, guess what we found? The thermometer was on fire AGAIN. Luckily, we’d made plans to meet Brett and Ann and sail on their Thunderbird, Naumachia. This time, I took my bathing suit. Hard to believe this toasty giant bathtub was the same Lake Washington where I did my first polar bear swim on New Year’s Day 2003. The water temperature was in the 40’s that day, as you can see from the old photo.

And as a result of the trip on Naumachia, I have a bit of useful information for the next record-breaking hot day. On the west shore of Lake Washington, there is still a nude beach. At least, when we motored by, half the people there were wearing flesh-colored bathing suits. And there were no gawking helicopter pilots or people in rafts, only gawking people on sailboats. Now I’m set — if I can just come up with a skinny-dipping alias as good as “Boopsie.”

After a year, I still have a sense of humor

As our one-year anniversary of living in the boatyard neared, I told my friends that we were planning to celebrate the event. Most of them looked at me as though I’d sprouted two heads. “You haven’t been able to launch your boat after working on it for a whole year, and you want to celebrate this fact?”

They rolled their eyes, but they came anyway.

That morning, we had begun installing the first three portlights. “Which side do we do first?” Barry asked. “The port side, of course!” My reasoning? The picnic table and barbecue grill were on the port side, so our guests would be able to admire our shiny bronze ports.

As usual, the work took longer than expected. We were still cleaning up messy black butyl and white polysulfide caulk as the guests began to arrive. We never made it to the showers, and the interior never got cleaned up. We hoped our friends wouldn’t come up on the boat and notice.

Barry installing a port port

But as we fired up the grill and set out the appetizers, the first raindrops began to fall, and there was no place to go but up the ladder into the boat. The scene inside Flutterby was a disaster — there were tools and parts and clothes everywhere, and dishes were piled up from several meals. We quickly passed out drinks, hoping to distract our guests from the boat’s condition. We kept them busy, too: All hands were needed to man buckets and towels under the starboard portlights, which at that point were gaping 5- by 12-inch holes in the side of the cabin.

The storm passed fairly quickly and the party moved back outside, and nobody gave us a hard time about the condition of our interior. Our friends have very low standards, or else they’re very kindhearted. Given the  gifts I received at the party (my birthday had been the day before), I think it’s the latter.

Over the next few days, I took stock of our one-year situation. I have learned and accomplished a lot, including the following things that I didn’t know I needed to experience:

  1. I got stuck in the lazarette (despite #3.2), had a panic attack, and had to be extricated by Barry. Have you ever noticed that the word “extricate” never has a happy connotation?
  2. I sprained my ankle three times, once while stuck in the lazarette having a panic attack.
  3. I broke one toe, lost 13 pounds, and cut off a foot (of hair).
  4. I took one belly dance lesson. I would have taken more, except for #2 and #3.1, above.
  5. I have handled carpenter bees in the ladder, a mud-dauber wasp trying to build a nest under the chart table, and a black widow spider in my water pitcher. These are all potentially harmful insects, and they did not make me scream. On the other hand, every 3-inch palmetto bug that ran across my galley counter made me shriek loudly, to Barry’s discomfort (if he sat further away, I wouldn’t be shrieking in his ear…see #7).
  6. I became on intimate terms with Mr. Dremel, Mr. Orbital Sander, Mr. Makita Drill, and Mr. Jigsaw. I am now on speaking terms with Mr. Angle Grinder, and I’m getting to know Mr. Fein.
  7. I found myself occasionally not on speaking terms with my husband, who is rarely more than 6 feet away from me. He can operate any power tool one-handed while lying on his back with his eyes closed in the coffin-shaped pilot berth, which I find maddening.
    One hand for the tool, one for yourself
  8. I fell in love with my full-face organic vapor respirator but found that it’s impossible to kiss someone or scratch your nose while wearing one.
  9. I figured out that if you don’t protect the zipper of your Tyvek suit with tape, sometimes you drip epoxy on it and can’t get your clothes off.
  10. I have learned to tolerate, but not enjoy, galley faucet roulette. I never know if the water is going to come out in an orderly fashion, as gravity and the universe intended, or if it’s going to explode violently into the cup I am holding, causing lemonade to erupt like Mount Vesuvius all over the front of my shirt. This is why I no longer buy pink lemonade.
  11. I no longer think it’s unusual to wear hearing protection earmuffs while cooking dinner because Barry is operating loud power tools (see #6)  three feet away. It’s easy to burn things when you can’t hear them sizzling in the skillet, which makes the smoke alarm go off, which is OK, because I’m wearing my earmuffs. Barry always wishes he was wearing earmuffs when a palmetto bug runs across the counter (see #5).
  12. I learned that when the  Sriracha chili sauce gets clogged, one should not simply squeeze the bottle harder. When I did, the lid exploded off, and I let out a loud, four-letter expletive. At this point, Barry looked up from his computer and said, alarmed, “Please tell me that’s not your blood!” To him, it looked like an unplanned amputation.
    Sriracha explosion, not an unplanned amputation

Most importantly, I discovered that some of the nicest people in the world are found in boatyards, hardware stores, lumberyards, and vegetable stands. This, coupled with the miraculous fact that we have not had to buy anything at West Marine, explains why I still have a sense of humor after a whole year.

Welcome to Turkey, and other funny fluff

I’ll be driving down the road, with Barry snoozing in the passenger seat. I hate to wake him up, but I have to. “Honey? Could you write something down for me, so I don’t forget?” If he’s driving, I sometimes ride with the notebook open in my lap. The result is what I call “fluff,” those funny things that flash by as we’re lumbering down the road at 55 mph.

North Carolina has many institutions of higher learning, like Duke, and UNC, and Back Swamp Community College. If I was trying to get into graduate school, I’d hate to have that last one on my resume.
We recently drove past an antique store in Woodbine, Georgia, where they call a spade a spade. Their sign simply said, “Dead people’s things for sale.”
Speaking of signs, our nearby farmer’s market has a huge banner that says, “Collards,” in 2-foot tall letters. At Thanksgiving, I watched a man come in and buy so many that they filled the cab of his truck. He drove away, his head barely peeking above the sea of green.
Near Christmas, I saw another huge banner, along a back road in North Carolina. This one said, “Collard Kraut.” I bet that gets a lot of takers.
Somewhere along I-95 in Florida, we saw an actual restaurant called “Ying’s Chinee Takee Outee.” That’s either an anachronism or a sadistic signmaker.
Speaking of Florida, I’ve got a new slogan for the state, based on recent observations: “Florida, the dead armadillo state.” Then again, there are a lot of states vying for that title.
Georgia might consider a new slogan, too. “Interstates under construction…since Eisenhower.”
And South Carolina might use this: “Y’all be nice, or we’ll secede again.”
OK, what’s with the Christmas inflatable yard decorations? Only about one in ten is inflated. The rest are not festive holiday cheer, they’re what Barry refers to as “technicolor flaccid lumps.”
Real streets I would not like to live on: Tattletale Lane. Embarrass Avenue. Dead Cow Lane.
Real streets I would like to live on: Ju Ju Lane. Daisy Street.
Can you imagine having a friend in Friend, Nebraska? It’s easier than imagining an enemy there.
Laramie, Wyoming: Where the truck stop ladies’ room has a vase full of plastic flowers…and the vase has water in it.
What would you find across from the Sleep 4 Le$$? The competition — a white sign, black letters: “Generic Motel.”
In Elko, Nevada, we drove past an establishment called “Inez’s Dancing and Diddling.” Wow. Are there really still women named Inez?
We stopped at a rest area next to Stinking Water Pass. When I took my water bottle to the fountain to fill it, I was stopped by a large sign that said, “Non-potable water.” No kidding.
On I-95, we were passed by a car with a personalized license plate that said “Ms Epoxy.” She was driving fast, probably trying to get away from a bunch of single guys with boats.
Weirdest boat name this year: A fishing boat called Dang Brothers. I guess, to be grammatically correct, that should be Danged Brothers.
I wish the folks at Gaskills Hardware had some punctuation for their changeable sign. The last time I saw it, the sign said, “Crab Pot Trees.”
Speaking of things that don’t go together, here’s my favorite pair of highway signs from Route 24: On the top, “Welcome to Turkey, North Carolina.” On the bottom, “Bird Sanctuary.”

Shipping not included

As part of my Bahia Street volunteer work, I set up a storefront on Greeting Card Universe last year. The site sells some charming original cards designed by Fio, of the Bahia Street Center. Every once in a while, I check in on the site, but it mostly takes care of itself, a “nickel-generator” for Bahia Street. Cards sell, and small amounts of commission money go to my favorite nonprofit.

So I was a bit puzzled to get a garbled email the other day, with “Greeting Card Universe Feedback” as the subject. The person’s name was Abuga Jones — is that a man or a woman?

I’m interested in purchasing some Christmas card as a gift to some of my customers …..i will need like 50 pieces, could you kindly give me total cost………I will be responsible for the shipment of the card from your location using my private Shipping Company.So I want you to calculate for me what will be the total cost of the order the card,tax if included so once I have your reply for the total I will remit my credit card for you to charge for the total that you can have the order book right away.this is because i’m not in the state presently on offshore and i will not be back till 2 weeks time. I await your reply soon.

It sounded kind of weird, but I put that down to a non-English speaker, and I wrote back a polite reply:

Thank you for your interest in Bahia Street’s Brazilian Christmas cards. At the current time, we’re only offering them through Greeting Card Universe. They can send personalized cards out on your behalf, or you can order one batch of 50 at a discount.

best regards,

Margaret “Meps” Schulte
Bahia Street public affairs

I wasn’t expecting a reply, but Abuga wrote back fairly quickly:

Hello Thanks for the mail can you calculate 50 for me and let me know the amount and don”t worry about the shipping i will take care of that myself ok

“What an idiot!” I exclaimed to Barry. “I don’t want to be rude, but this person just doesn’t get it! Do you think it’s a scam?”

“Maybe, but it can’t hurt to tell them how much 50 cards would cost. Maybe they can’t do math,” said Barry, helpfully.

“Sure,” I muttered, “a business owner who can’t calculate the cost of a bunch of greeting cards.”

I sighed, and typed this out:

On Greeting Card Universe, 50 cards is $114.50, or $2.29 apiece. However, I can’t help you place the order. You’ll have to do that at

Finally, today, my friend Abuga revealed his hand. I was laughing so hard, I could hardly read this out loud to Barry:

Hello Margaret

How are you this morning i got the email you write to me and i ‘m so glad you gonna sale Greeting Card Universe for me I’m so much okay with the price of the Greeting Card Universe …..I will like you to know that the price is not a problem and i want you to know that i don”t have time because of my work to be doing that right now if you know that you want to help me i will send your my card information the price is not a problem which the $114.50.

More so you don’t have to worry about the shipping cos have already registered
with a shipping company that will come and pick the Greeting Card Universe up with a cooling van after you have done with them.

Christmas card cost $114.50
Shipping cost $850
Total cost $1100


Let me know if this suit you if yes you can get back with me with this following information so i can remit my card to you.


I await you quick reply…….

Barry and I once read an article about Nigerian scammers, and it described them as young men who get up in the morning, dress in nice clothes, and go to the Internet cafe, where they sit around with all the other nicely-dressed young men, sending scam emails. I can picture the fellow on the other side of my email exchange, sitting in one of those cafes, hoping that I will simply accept his fraudulent credit card payment and then wire the bogus “shipping charge” to his “shipper.”

Poor guy, he must be a beginner. Sure, people fall for this sort of thing, but they usually do it because of greed, and that means offering them thousands or millions of dollars. A woman in Oregon sent $400,000 dollars to a scammer over several years, because she was convinced that she’d get back $25 million. She became so obsessed, the only thing that stopped her from sending more money was that the police told her she’d be charged with money-laundering if she didn’t stop.

One reason she kept sending the money was the encouraging emails from George Bush and the President of Nigeria. That would set off my bullshit detector. As it is, “Abuga” has set off my bullshit detector with an $850 shipping charge on 50 greeting cards.

Unless I’m going to take up scambaiting as a time-consuming hobby, I think it’s time for me to stop writing back to Abuga. However, I’m considering sending this parting message:

Dear Abuga,
I don’t think the cooling van will be necessary. These are Brazilian Christmas Cards. They do not come with snow.

Welcome To My World

Every once in a while, I have to turn my head to the side and shake all the excess brain fluff out of my ear. I also have to clean out all the small info-snippets that have gathered in our traveling notebook. So the following post is sort of like the soup you make after cleaning out the refrigerator.

I recently found the receipt for some postcards I bought at Graceland. At the time, I hadn’t noticed the name of the store at the top of the receipt: “Welcome To My World.” Considering that Elvis Presley is dead, I’m wondering, what does that signify?

At a Wal-Mart near Bentonville, Arkansas, we had a strange experience. As we walked in, instead of a regular greeter, an older woman walked up to us and said, “Happy Earth Day! Would you like a clothespin?” We accepted this strange gift, on which she’d handwritten, “Save energy! Hang clothes out to dry!”

A day later, checking into a campground, we were handed an 8-1/2×11 sheet of paper, single-spaced, with campground rules. Rule number 13 was, “…use the washers and dryers provided in the laundry room. Clotheslines are very dangerous and things hung outside to dry can blow away in the wind, or be unsightly to other campers.” (the emphasis is theirs) Laughing, Barry clipped the rules sheet to our notebook with the clothespin, leaving me to ruminate on the paradox.

Favorite street names: Side Street, Friendly Street, Liberal Avenue. The first two were in Eugene. The third one could have been, but wasn’t.

Favorite billboards: Two checkboxes, reading “Stick head in sand” and “Fight global warming.”

And: Lose 3000 pounds in one day! Donate your car to…

And: Be an Oklahoma State Trooper — company car provided!

Most common question from strangers on our trip across the country: “Is that a boat?”

Answer most likely to be met with a chuckle: “Yep, my wife built it.”

I put a magnetic peace sign on the back of our van, my quiet statement about the Iraq war. However, I was confused, and I put it on upside-down, with the three prongs up. My sister, who also has one, laughed at me, but I still wasn’t absolutely certain that she was right. After I’d seen at least six peace signs along I-5, all of them with the prongs down, I flipped it over, embarrassed. How could I have lived through the 70’s and not noticed?

Funniest missing comma: “This road adopted by Wal-mart Marina.”

Funniest Texas sign: “Don’t mess with Texas. Up to $2000 fine for littering.”

Strangest highway equipment: On Highway 1, along the California coast, rockslides are so common that they use something like a snowplow to clear the roads. We dubbed them “rockplows.”

Favorite exit signs: “Santa Claus Lane, next exit.”

Also, “Mexico, next exit.” Don’t you wonder what the one on the other side says?

Best question on a billboard: “Have you ever met an honest mortician?”

Three great business names: HAYKINGDOM, Insane Autos, Aggressive Towing

If cows could read, and if they appreciated fine wrought-iron work, maybe the lovely archway that says “Cattle Town” over the entrance to the feedlot would make them think they’re going to a nice place. I doubt it, though.

Weirdest church name: Bovina United Methodist Church (I bet the sermons are very mooooving!)

Two beautiful California things I saw firsthand: Fields of purple artichokes and whales spouting in the Pacific Ocean.

Not an April fools’ joke: On April 1, 2008, we stopped at 1 Infinite Loop Drive, also known as Apple Headquarters. This was not to pay homage to the maker of our new computer, but to have lunch with Todd, who we’d not seen in 17 years. He looks exactly like he did when he graduated from college, one advantage to losing one’s hair young.

Dumb question, smart answer: Driving through Arizona date country, Meps asked, “If dates come from palm trees, and coconuts come from palm trees, are dates related to coconuts?” Barry answered, “As much as peaches are related to oranges, I guess.”

Friona, Official Cheeseburger Capital of Texas.

Twenty miles later: Welcome to Hereford, Beef Capitol of the World. Sorry, the folks in Friona say it only counts if it’s official.

Most propitious lunch stop: We received an email in February from our friend, Drew, that read “Rudy’s BBQ is a must stop. All other BBQ including Mary’s (his wife, rumored to make the best homemade BBQ in Seattle) is judged by this Texas Standard.” Two months later, we happened to be passing Rudy’s, outside El Paso, precisely at lunchtime when our stomachs were growling.

In Oregon, where all gas is pumped by attendants, we started chatting with the man pumping our diesel. He asked where we were headed, and when we told him “North Carolina, via San Diego” he told us about a trip he once took. They drove from Grant’s Pass to Charleston, South Carolina and back, over 6000 miles, in 5 days. He seemed proud to have “seen” the entire USA.

Since we purchased the Squid Wagon in Florida and took it to Seattle by way of Newfoundland, our trusty Ford van has not crossed the USA, it has actually circumnavigated it. Compared to the fellow from Grant’s Pass, though, we’re slow. We’ve only traveled twice the distance, or 12,000 miles. But it took us four and a half months for the northern leg, and a speedy five weeks for the southern.

Wikipedia, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!

Letter to a Gullible Friend

Dear Gullible Friend,

Yesterday, I talked with a friend who was reading about the “I Love Lucy” show on the Internet. Why she was searching for “I Love Lucy,” I don’t know, but it might be related to the fact that, like yours truly, this friend is currently unencumbered by the employment process.

She found an article on Wikipedia that answered her Lucy questions, but it also left her puzzled and confused. According to Wikipedia, there was a pornographic version of the “I Love Lucy” show, called “I Love Lucy All Over.” My friend asked, “Isn’t that amazing? But don’t you think we would have heard of it, if it’s really true?”

When she found the page, she bookmarked it, so she could show it to her husband when he returned home that evening.

You can imagine what happened. The page came up, with no reference to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s pornographic films. And her husband thought she was crazy.

My friend isn’t crazy. The problem is with Wikipedia.

A Wiki is a web page that can be edited, at any time, by any person. As Barry says, “Any idiot could write an article for Wikipedia.” It’s very susceptible to vandalism.

A couple of years ago, a friend of my father’s, John Seigenthaler, discovered a biography of himself on Wikipedia that he says amounted to “Internet character assassination.” The article said, “John Seigenthaler Sr. was the assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the early 1960’s. For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his brother, Bobby. Nothing was ever proven.”

For this close friend of Bobby Kennedy, such an accusation was sick, false, and malicious.

Seigenthaler discovered that he had little recourse. Wikipedia removed the entry, but other sites, such as and had already copied the spurious entry and were touting it as fact. Wikipedia and BellSouth, whose anonymous user had posted the entry, were immune to a libel suit over the matter.

Being a moderately famous retired newspaper editor, Seigenthaler raised a hue and cry in USA Today. Wikipedia and BellSouth didn’t lift a finger to help, but an internet activist named Daniel Brandt, who takes on outfits like Wikipedia and Google, used the IP address to trace the article to its source. The guy who wrote the false article admitted that it was a joke, saying that he didn’t think people took Wikipedia seriously. He apologized, and he lost his job.

The lesson here is not to wish Wikipedia was more reliable. The lesson, my gullible friend, is to take Wikipedia — and the web in general — at face value:

  • It’s entertainment.
  • Some of it is true.
  • Some of it is not true.
  • It publishes information that gets picked up by other sites, who think it’s all true.

Luckily for my friend, Barry showed us where old versions of Wikipedia can be found in the history section of the site. The entry on “I Love Lucy All Over” is here:

As Barry said, “You weren’t crazy — you really did read it. You were gullible, however if you believed it And if you went looking to buy the DVD on Amazon afterwards, you were REALLY gullible!

“Have fun, and don’t believe everything you read on the internet!”

This article was not reviewed or edited by anyone other than Meps and Barry. Reliable sources included USA Today, the New York Times, and the BBC.

Unreliable sources included Wikipedia.

Entertainment provided by the Uncyclopedia, the Content-Free Encyclopedia.

Put the costumes away and no one will get hurt

I came back from Burning Man a changed woman. Not in any large, obvious way. Just a few little things. The world seems like a funnier place now.

I dyed my bangs pink. Then I put on the sweater vest I borrowed from my sister, Daisy. It’s neon orange and very rectangular, knit with half-inch fuzzy strands. I looked like a neon-orange fuzzy varigated box with arms. As I went out the door, intent on my project, I didn’t pay any attention to the fact that I was also wearing black sneakers, blue socks, and a pair of bright red patterned pants.

Meps with orange sweater, red pants, and pink bangs
For a couple of hours, I was working on the van, parked on the side of the street. I didn’t want to get run over.

“I think you’re more likely to cause an accident,” said Barry.

When I came back in, a couple of hours later, I told him I’d finally gotten to meet the neighbor next door. “In THAT?” he squawked.

“Oops,” I said, a little chagrined. I’d forgotten about the pink bangs.

The next day, I stopped by the thrift store to see what kind of fall additions I could find for my wardrobe. I found lots of things I could have worn at Burning Man, but had to keep reminding myself that those things are not suitable for Seattle. I’d been looking through the lingerie rack, forgetting that most people wear such items only to go to bed.

My crowning moment came yesterday, when I looked out the kitchen window and noticed two young fellows in black pants and white shirts walking down my street.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Mormon missionaries. I find their doctrine pretty interesting. But I wasn’t in the mood right then to have a conversation with two serious, earnest young men.

If I stayed in the kitchen, they were sure to see me through the blinds and come to my door. So I did the logical thing. I went into the bathroom, where Barry was taking a shower. “Hide me!” I said in a loud stage whisper. “They’re out there! On the street!”

“What? I can’t hear you,” he shouted. Of course, he couldn’t hear me over the sound of the water, but I was whispering because the window was partially open, and I was sure the fellows were right underneath it. I turned down Barry’s chivalrous invitation to join him and cowered on the dry side of the shower curtain.

After a few minutes, I thought they were gone. I went back into the kitchen and closed the blinds. If they did come back, I wouldn’t have to answer the door.

Then I noticed the Burning Man costume box. Just as I was wishing they would come back, there was a knock on the door.
Meps, answering the door in a large and slightly disturbing rabbit head
So I was wearing a very large, fierce rabbit head when I opened the door for two young Mormon missionaries.

They jumped back about a foot. “Oh! You scared us!” they said.

Afraid of a cross-eyed rabbit?

“Sorry about that,” I said politely, as if I was not wearing the rabbit’s head. They were at a loss for words, looking at each other for reassurance. Was this really happening to them? Were they really talking with a giant rabbit?

I wasn’t sure what to say, either. I guess that was when I should have asked if they believed in the Easter bunny. Instead, I gave them a gentle warning, not wanting to waste their time.

“I have to tell you, I’m not able to hold a serious conversation right now.”

That part was absolute truth. The giant mask was hiding a huge grin that threatened to turn into all-consuming giggles.

They looked at each other. Evidently, whatever they wanted to talk with me about was serious.

“Um, do you know of any of your neighbors who might be interested in our message today?” the freckled one asked.

“No, I don’t know my neighbors very well. They think I’m weird.” the rabbit answered. The two fellows grinned, then quickly stifled their smiles and looked at each other again. Evidently, they thought I was weird, too.

“Well, we just wanted to invite you to come to our Sunday service.” They told me where the church was located, and seemed very surprised when I said I knew where it was. Maybe there was hope for this rabbit, after all.

As they turned to go, the taller one said, “You’re welcome to come to church, with or without the rabbit mask.”

I nodded my giant furry head and foot-tall ears. “Thanks! But if I come without it, you won’t recognize me.” He quickly glanced back at me. Maybe I was a member of their church already! But only the rabbit’s inscrutable and slightly disturbing face looked back at him.

They wished me a good day and made their way off the porch. I closed the door and only then could I collapse on the floor, tears of laughter running down my face.

Barry came hopping out of the bathroom. He couldn’t see the laughter, only hear the strange burbling sound and see the shaking shoulders of a large rabbit sprawled on the kitchen floor.

I told the story to friends at a dinner party last night, and the eight of us laughed ourselves silly. Somewhere, across town, I hope my earnest Mormon visitors were telling friends at a dinner table, too, and laughing themselves silly about the giant rabbit on Mercer Island.

Pass the carrots, will ya?

Candy is dandy

To all the folks celebrating Easter this weekend, have a wonderful holiday! Now, for the rest of you, I have a few recommendations:

  1. Dye a couple of dozen eggs. Every time you open your refrigerator, you’ll smile. The world needs fewer white eggs.
  2. Go out on Monday and buy a bunch of half-price candy. Make up a basket and surprise your loved ones for Chickie-Bunny Day. If you don’t know what C-B Day is, keep reading.
  3. If you happen to be in New Zealand over the weekend, there is an alternative activity you might enjoy:

From NZ City News, Christchurch, New Zealand, 5 April 2006

The Catholic Bishop of Canterbury hopes people will celebrate Easter the traditional way, and not attend a semi-nude jelly wrestling event.

On Easter Sunday a pub in Banks Peninsula is holding a jelly wrestling event that involves two women fighting in bikinis.

Publican Donna Blackburn admits it is possible items of clothing could fall off.

Catholic Bishop of Canterbury John Cunneen says everyone has a right to spend the day how they want, but hopes many people will remember the death and resurrection of Jesus by attending Church services.

Bishop Cunneen says semi-nude jelly wrestling is an odd way to commemorate Easter.

When I was a kid, I listened to guys like Bishop Cunneen, and we celebrated Easter the normal way. I never questioned what it was all about. It seemed like a great story, a guy who got killed and came back to life a couple of days later.

To me, the Passion play is wonderful theater, and I love hearing different people read the different parts. The problem is, as an adult, I don’t believe the story. It requires faith, which I lack. When Easter comes around, it’s just another day.

I do, however, love many aspects of the holiday. I love coloring hard-boiled eggs, turning them into art and destroying them by eating them. Like art installations, they are temporary, fleeting, just-for-the-moment. Of course, nowadays, we take a zillion digital photos of them. That’s cheating.

I’ve never rolled an Easter egg. I have, however, hidden a few. Some too well.

Years ago, my family was sitting around the sunroom on Christmas, and somebody made a hilarious comment. Dad laughed so hard, he threw his hands in the air and hit the hanging light over his head. As the light fixture tipped, an item came tumbling out of the top — and reflexively, he caught it. He held it up, and we all gasped: An Easter egg. It had been hidden there 8 months earlier and rotting ever since. Thank goodness it didn’t break when he caught it!

Honestly, the thing I loved about Easter was the same thing I loved about Halloween. A huge quantity of candy, all to myself, not to be shared with any of my five greedy siblings. Easter was even better than Halloween, because I am crazy for jelly beans, as opposed to candy corn (bleh).

Twenty years ago, I decided Easter wasn’t much of a holiday without church and Easter bonnets. So I invented my own holiday. Chickie-Bunny Day falls on the first Saturday after the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox. In other words, the Saturday after Easter, when all the candy has gone on sale. It’s an excuse to make a basket of half-price candy and eat sugar until your face breaks out.

Since I invented Chickie-Bunny Day myself, I decree that semi-nude jelly wrestling is a fine way to celebrate it.

Pass the marmalade, will ya?

(For a few more chuckles, see my limerick about jelly wrestling.)

How to write a bad limerick

No, it’s really not that hard to rhyme,
And it just takes a whole lot of time.
But the meter’s the thing
To make every piece sing,
And limerick-writers like me consider lousy meter a terrible crime.

I was just categorizing a bunch of limericks, and I noticed that unless I filed one under the parent category of “General,” none of the other categories were displayed. I quickly had to write a limerick that I could file under “General,” so this was the result of 2 minutes of work. For more on anapest meter in limericks, see Confessions of a Limerick Junkie.