AUGH! I read it again! It sucks! It’s horrible!

Just kidding. It’s fine, and if I can maintain confidence over a 48-hour period, then I’m happy. I should also note that it’s done. DONE. The Cds are burning at this very moment, and tomorrow it’s off to Random House. I had some late-minute additions; at the office today a colleague who shares my love of ephemera brought in a giant plastic tub packed with recipe books and other items from the 30s. It’s an amazing collection, and I’ll be scanning all weekend long. I used a few pictures, including this one:

God bless America. There’s something cheerfully ominous about that picture, too. Don’t argue with my batter recipe, dearie; I broke Bing in two with this spoon. Did I say spoon? I meant oar. Because I am KATE THE ENORMOUS. I rode Paul Bunyan like a pony last week in the back alley of the Stork Club. Don’t cross me.

Did anyone ever say "AUGH" outside of a Peanuts cartoon? It sounds a bit too gutteral for Charlie Brown, but it's a satisfying expression of despair. If you emphasize the muttering gutteral sound, it's even better: rank disgust. I think the order of things is this:

Augh > oy > feh > meh

But I could be wrong.

You might be wondering about the new fridge. Ohy! I don’t have a new fridge. I paid Best Buy for a new fridge, but I don’t have one. It was a special order, according to the spec sheet, but the salesperson was delighted to see they had one in the warehouse and could deliver it in three days. Well, great! But you know what that means: you have to empty the old fridge. So I didn’t go to the grocery store; I moved the frozen goods downstairs to the auxillary freezer in the Battle Bridge, tossed out the tossables, and pared the fridge down to the basics.

Then I got a call: seems they didn’t actually have one in the warehouse after all. Really? What happened to it? Well, it seems that the computer was referring to the floor model. Really? So if the computer said there was only one in the entire chain, and there it was, right in front of us, we assumed that there was actually another?

I didn’t say this, but I thought it. Sigh. It will arrive in three weeks.

Of the things I said I’d discuss today, I have only time for one. The others will have to wait, because they’re hardly important and require a bit more firepower than I have on hand. Not that it was a hard day; they’re never hard. They’re always good, and if they don’t seem so, it’s usually my fault. I went to the office today, for example. Why? To deliver Girl Scout cookies. Just to show you how things change: one of Gnat’s customers was now the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, and the other announced he was doing the Big Skeddaddle. I know two guys who are using the transitional clause to stroll for the exit. I expect local media pundits to buzz about buyouts and resignations as a protest against the Horrible Changes Afoot in the Sacred Calling of Journalism, but that’s not entirely accurate. There’s just something to be said for being a certain age and walking out of the office and knowing you don’t have to walk back in tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these guys spontaneously sprouted wings and flew off, laughing with delight.

My time will come; everyone’s time comes. And when it does the machine will roll along without any indication you were ever there. Although my industry is different; slumbering in the library are the spools of black tape, and they remember everything. In the end my last column will be in a morgue drawer with a date I can’t quite bring myself to name, and six feet away will be another drawer whose spools welcomed in the brilliant promise of the 20th century. If I’m forgotten, I’ll be in excellent company nonetheless.

I mentioned ice-cracking yesterday. When I picked Gnat up from the bus I cracked a few sheets of ice with my heel, and she protested: DAD, YOU’RE TAKING THE BEST ICE. I showed her the limitless sheets of ice ahead, soothed her worries, and taught her how to really crack it good. You use your heel. Like this.

I hadn’t thought about the pleasures of sidewalk ice-cracking for a long time. Decades, maybe. Hard winter ice isn’t all that satisfying to crack, because there’s so much around, and winter rules all; it feels like letting the air out of the tires on a Gestapo truck in 1939. The most satisfying time is mid-April, during a thaw, when water pools beneath the ice, and you can really crack it up. It’s almost grateful. But this ice was ready to go, and we found a sheet that had the perfect thickness: it resisted the first blow, shuddered at the second, and was sundered by the third. We stood in the driveway and hacked at the ice with our heels until a yard of rubble cluttered the pavement. I thought of this today while listening to a Medved show about a WaPo piece on marriage; seems only the well-off can marry these days, and the poor decline the opportunity. A caller – male, age 31 – noted how he didn’t want to marry, and didn’t want kids, because they would ruin his freedom. Medved gently pointed out how things change, and gave the fellow a useful piece of news: kids are fun. You never consider that when you’re fancy-free and unburdened with diaper-filling squall-o-matic obligation units, but they’re fun, in ways you can never predict. You fill your day with all sorts of important tasks, but in the end nothing beats standing in the drive way in the wan March light, laughing and cracking the ice. That's the stuff you remember on your deathbed, I'll bet. That's the stuff you remember when you leave the building and strap on the wings.

And now to watch Lost. Yes, I still watch Lost. Still like it, too. It’s remarkable how much you can enjoy something if you just decide to enjoy it. See you tomorrow, and thanks for the visit.

It’s done!

IT’S DONE!  Four books spun off the Institute of Official Cheer: halle-fargin'-lujah. I knew this internet thing would pay off.