Chef Boy ‘R Mine’s Thanette was better,
but this will have to do until I clean that damn closet.

The internet has been very good to me.

I’ve been hanging out on the ‘net since before sound and pictures – before there was a web. As for social networking, I dived into the Usenet groups somewhere around 1990.

There I met a significant number of people who became friends, sometimes good friends. The Ex referred to them as my Invisible Friends which seemed apt and so I adopted the description..

The arrival of the digital revolution was so new that home computers were a rarity; and trying to explain to folks how it could be that I was making friends was daunting. It can be a tough thing to explain. Nonetheless, I blathered on and on about my cyber-life to anyone who would listen. Over family dinner, I would talk about the funny things people said on the ‘net.

One bright Saturday the phone ring and my son, who was practicing his telephone etiquette, answered. I heard him say, “May I tell her who’s calling.” He ran to get me, proclaiming all the way that Thanette was on the phone. I searched my memory banks and could not summon any memory of anyone named Thanette or Annette or anything similar. Curious, I took the phone and said hello.

The caller was Jane who lived near Perth, Australia. She and I bonded in the group on Usenet. Chef Boy ‘R Mine, bless his heart, had listened to me babble on and on about the ‘net thinking it a person, one person, named Thanette. I asked Jane what she had told him in response to the who’s-calling-thing. She had announced herself as Jane, Jane from the ‘net. It’s curious that my son didn’t think of Thanette as a place. Of course, with her accent, it’s a wonder he understood anything at all.

I asked him to draw me a picture of what he thought Thanette looked like. The end result was a portrait of a woman with brown curly hair, glasses and a big smile. [Damn it all, I saved that artistic work and it’s probably in The Closet I’m Afraid Of. Resurrecting that drawing could be an impetus to start that project. I don’t want to start it, but I do want to find that drawing and frame it.]

My Invisible Friends were far flung. Most of them were in the states, but a good number were scattered about the globe. These were people I had never seen, but who I counted good friends – the kind you tell secrets to.

They lived in Mexico and Scotland and England and Denmark and New Zealand and Sweden and Australia and Canada and, I’m pretty sure, most of the states. Eventually, I started meeting up with people – to meet in 3D – learning what they looked and sounded like.

In the early days, my Visible Friends were shocked that I would travel, one time all the way to London, to meet people I found on the internet. They were sure my brutal death at the hands of a serial killer was an inevitable destiny given my loss of common sense.

Last night, I met and had dinner with the infamous Buzzard Billy. She represents the first Invisible Friend from West Virginia that I’ve jumped in the car to go meet. I’m sure it’s a badge of honor that she’ll wear close to her heart – Hillbilly Thanette.

A House Guest

Biscotti for the creme brulee.

Tomorrow I am expecting a house guest I’ve never met. I’ve been in rather a panic getting the house into some sort of order to receive visitors. To some extent, I’ve said screw it. But still. . .there’s a need for basic cleanliness and order.

I’m very excited. I didn’t have a lot of advance notice which is probably good. I’d have driven myself and everyone else mad.

Chef Boy ‘R Mine has arrived as well. He’s been cooking up a feast and helping to clean. The barn is pert near always two steps forward, one step back – improvement is made in tiny increments with each project uncovering a larger project. This has been no different, but since I’ve grown to expect such things, it doesn’t produce any extra stress. OK, not much extra stress.

[The mess in the plumbing closet was stressful, but I’m Scarlett O’Hara-ing it for the moment. You know – the old I’ll think about it tomorrow.]

Good food, but what a mess.

My house guest has never seen snow. If she’s never seen snow, it’s a given she’s never experienced this kind of cold. Florida born and bred, Guest O’Mine is in for a rude awakening. We’ve borrowed a 4×4 for the airport pickup to avoid her having to trek the hill (in the snow) dragging her suitcases behind her. We’re thoughtful people, we are.

The food, if not the surroundings, will be stellar. The kitchen, however, has been one step forward, two steps back. When I went to bed last night, it was OK, this is adequate. Hah!

Taking a break.

The kitchen is a mess.

The boy has sliced and diced, stirred and whirled, baked, sautéed, chopped, poured, splashed, dashed and whipped.

The food will be fabulous.

At present, we’re both taking a break. Mind you, there’s not any time for breaks. There is still much to do. Much. Much just to get to the minimum. He’s chatting away on his laptop, puppies happily nearby, and I’m blogging on my laptop. I think we both have a problem with priorities. Or maybe we don’t. Making connections with people is more important than ones with Mr. Clean.  Right?  Right.

[insert musical interlude here]

[I swear on my honor, that I wrote all of the above before the following event occurred. Scout’s honor. Honest. Absolutely. With no exaggeration or storyteller’s license involved at all.]

I’m now officially amused. I sent Child O’Mine up to the bathroom to help me switch out the toilet seat. There was a bolt I couldn’t get to budge. The bolt is held on by a plastic wingnut. We did this and then we did that. And there were a lot of exclamations of WTF! So we did some more of this and we did some more of that – all of it involving wrenches, needle-nosed pliers, flathead screwdrivers, and much cursing. Nothing. And it wasn’t that the bolt wouldn’t move – it moved all over the place. The top of the bolt could be turned in the opposite direction of the bottom part of the bolt. WTF?

[Things like this routinely happen in the barn. I’ll eventually get around to the thermostat story.]

We pondered things for a bit. Chef Boy ‘R Mine said, “Wait. I’ve got an idea.”

Now he’s been cooking up a storm. When he comes here, he brings the tools of his trade with him. Since he’s planning crème brulee, he had a kitchen torch – a twinkie torch by anyone’s standards – used to brown meringue and that sort of thing..

Creme brulee carmelizer or plumbing tool? It's both.

We melted that wingnut off. OK, he did. After I was sure the toilet wasn’t going to explode, I guffawed and told him he was genius.

 [He takes after me. I once solved a pesky countertop installation problem with a bread knife.]

A $20 Williams & Sonoma cooking torch as a plumbing tool – who’d have thunk it? Me and Chef Boy ‘R Mine, that’s who.

I can’t wait to tell the girlfriend, OOPS, I mean, houseguest this story.  (Damn, let the cat out of the bag.)

Now, I’ve got the giggles, but I’ve got to go finish that bathroom now.

[Giggle. Giggle. Guffaw.]

Crème brulee, anyone?