attempts total involvement

Mischief Update: Mostly in the Cards

Bleargh. It’s too hot out to want to walk in the neighborhood. It’s too hot to want to get in the kitchen and cook. And the human female hasn’t replaced her stitching lamp yet, so things have been very boring here. No wildflowers, no homemade bread, and no needlework to sabotage. It’s just herbarium plants and postage stamps. I have had to content myself with the ongoing woes of condestruction and jamming monkey wrenches into the humans’ trying to get out of town to visit the female’s mother. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

The Europium II Fluoride is still out at the herbaruim.

The dryer has been doing the turning-itself-on thing again.

The ficus that the human female had to repot isn’t in quite a big enough pot and the pot it is in has soil up to the rim, so that every time she waters it, water overflows onto the books in the bookcase below. While I hate to damage a book, watching her kick herself for forgetting to buy a new pot makes me chuckle every time.

Attempts Total Involvement finally did finish the craft room ceiling.

They did a very good job, but the crew let the humans know they were on their own with regard to getting all the books from their temporary bunker in the garage back onto the shelves, despite what the original representative had said. In the end, the project manager and his trainee helped the human female lug all the boxes, and then she spent the better part of two days putting her room back to rights. Of course, I slipped the books a few magic fertility pills, and the human female swears she reshelved more books than she boxed up. She’s not wrong… I also multiplied the various tchotchkes and doohickeys that inhabit the windowsill. She has a functional room again, but if she purchases so much as a pin, something will explode. Naturally, I signed her up for the newsletter of every quilt fabric and bead purveyor there is.

The roof is still up in the air, as roofs are wont to be. The human male has expended approximately one-quarter of his time recently on trying to reach the roofer, who supposedly had worked out a contract with Usually Sounds Amiable…Although. He succeeded in making contact just last Friday. (I had convinced the roofer that the humans wanted to wait until they could get green shingles again, which is definitely not the case.) Suddenly, the project went from “Roofer? What roofer?” to “We can start week after next,” which has toppled several boxes worth of dominoes, calendar- vist-the-mother-wise. There will be a choice between Boring Brown and Grizzly Gray, which no one is pleased with. That’s a fine bit of mischief, but even I will miss the green ones. And after the roof, there will be gutters. Gutters offer so many opportunities for mischief and landscape wreckage; I’m sure at least of of the inhabitants of this house is going to enjoy the process.

The rest of the human male’s time has been spent on the phone with Usually Sounds Amiable… Although. I felt it was not sufficient mischief for him to have to listen to their scratchy, repetitive scratchy repetitive scratchy repetitive hold music for hours at a time trying to get word about the roof. Thus, I had his USAA credit card develop problems. In the past, the humans have had the USAA house and car insurance billed once or twice yearly to the USAA credit card, which the humans pay off every month. I got bored with that, so when USAA updated their customer information files, I switched them to having their insurance billed monthly. The male called and had them put that to rights. I unfixed it, so he kept getting daily email and calls about updating his information. He called again. I unfixed it again. We did several rounds of that, and he thinks the billing is straightened out. Ehehehehe. We shall see, mortal. We shall see.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t leave the human female feeling left out, so I played a little havoc with her credit card as well. She finally, finally found some jeans at Keeps Old Hairy Ladies Satisfied that fit her lumpy form, and she bought two pair. They were even on sale! The Helpful Clerk at the checkout told her that she could save 20% if she opened a charge account, which she agreed to (with the idea of paying it off immediately and then cutting up the card). Imagine her mortification when her card was declined at the register. She’s not insolvent (though I took care it should look that way to the lengthening line behind her!)–it was simply trying to read the card as a debit card, which it is not set up to be. So she tried her bank debit card–and it wouldn’t take that either! And she wasn’t carrying cash! Great Frigga’s corset! Was her face red! The clerk (no doubt memorizing her features so as to watch for them on the evening news or a post-office wanted poster) told her she could wait for the bill in the mail, address the charge online, or come into the store any time to pay her bill in an acceptable fashion.

She attempted to activate her new card online and pay it. She was unaware, you see, that I have a nice side hustle designing black-smudged gray-on-gray Captcha images and insuring that log-ins time out and then pages fail entirely. Ehehehe! She couldn’t get anywhere near a payment screen! She would have to pay in person. Once the human female felt she could show her face in the establishment again, she went in to do just that. And her credit card was declined again! And so was her debit card! Cue more groveling and humiliation! Lucky for her, the human male was along for the ride, and his debit card works. Finally the sales associate figured out that the reason the female’s credit card won’t work is because it IS a credit card. In his words, “You can’t pay credit with credit.” She gave up trying to explain to him that KOHLS was still getting paid, but he would have none of it.

Of course, the next errand was to the bank to try to get the human female’s debit card working again. The Helpful Banker says a new card should be arriving “soon,” but we all know how elastic a “soon” can be! The HB also informed the humans that, contrary to what they had been told, now that the bank has been sold to a Still Larger Bank, the account number which they have had since 1981 will be changed. I am going to pour myself a cold ale and sit back and watch while they try to think of all of the places their bank account number is, as well as all of the automatic payments they are going to have to reconfigure. It goes without saying that their retirement pension automatically goes into that account, which means dealing with They’re Really Swamped (AKA They Who Do Not Answer E-mail or Hire Sufficient Phone Answerers) to make sure their monthly pittances go to the right place. I’m starting a pool about how long it will take them to get that sorted–any takers? This will be the fourth time the bank has changed hands or reorganized since the human female opened the account. Oh, well. She keeps threatening to replace the hung-upside down wallpaper in the front hall. She can use all the now-useless checks with the now-obsolete bank name to do the job. They’re blue. It’ll look swell.

Hmm. What next…? I did car repairs recently. The felines manage their own mischief, upchucking on handmade quilts without any prompting from me. I know! It’s time for parking permit renewals. Maybe I’ll get involved with that.

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Mischief Update: A Little Bit of Everything

I wrote last week about how sometimes the Art of Mischief demands that you keep things from happening. Conversely, a great deal of mischief is possible if you schedule everything to happen at once. It doesn’t even have to be new mischief–just pile on the old a little deeper for maximum chaos. This past week, I’ve done a bit of both.

I’ve let it rain at least a little every day but one so far this month. The lawn is approximately at better-rent-a-goat stage, so the human female is going to get twice her normal workout when is finally dry enough to mow. I figure three changes of battery in the mower, two tumblers of ice water, and lots of extra sweat. (Not pretty, but it annoys her, so I let it go.) I got a little excited when I heard her brand of sunscreen has benzene and can cause cancer, because that would shake things up around here, but it turns out she doesn’t use the aerosol kind. Hmmm. I wonder what sort of carcinogenic goings-on are in that tube of expired stuff she’s been slathering on?? One can hope.

I’ve written here before about how fun it is to play with ceiling fans, either having the blades break or sabotaging the pull-chains. I decided to revisit the pull-chain trick again, having the bedroom fan chain break exactly how it did last time. Fixing this requires disassembling the lamp, fiddling with the ball chain and connectors, and then reassembling the whole thing. It doesn’t take much to discombobulate the setup—I’ve found that softening just one of the connectors enough so that it can’t hold the chain is more than sufficient. There are currently two connectors in the fan pull-cord, a plastic one, which holds, and a metal one, which doesn’t. The humans tried swapping the two so that at least the metal one would be outside the housing so that it could be reached, but it turns out that the plastic connector is just >||<that much too big to go back and forth through the hole in the housing as the fan is switched on and off. Even if the little plastic grommet in the housing is removed. They tried it three or four times, standing on the bed and trying to coordinate four hands, the shade, the cap, the knob, and two chains, all the while being overseen by two Feline Project Inspectors. The result?

Broken fan chain (on the right), and what’s left doesn’t turn the fan on or off when tugged. The humans will have to weather (pun intended!) the steamy summer nights with no breeze until the ordered stainless steel chain arrives and they can make another attempt at repair. They’ll wake up cranky and snappish and I will chuckle into my morning cocoa.

The human female has been wearing the same jeans for about three years. They weren’t attractive to begin with, and now they are positively disreputable. I’ve seen to it that her preferred brand and style is no longer available in town, so she ordered some online. She chose her color and selected the next size up from the ones she has (because ice cream). It was so easy! Fast forward about thirty-six hours and she gets this little gem in her inbox:

No explanation–which is probably their polite way of saying, “We know who you are and we’re not sure we want our brand on your backside.” Since that was the only item in her order, she’s back to square one. Now let’s see if the funds are returned to her PayPal account. Wouldn’t it be hilarious of they weren’t??

The human male received paperwork for applying for a student loan. Someone, somewhere, has moved him from the “recently retired” stack to the “new student” stack, and the paperwork just keeps coming. I wonder if I can take out some financial aid in his name without him knowing? I have one or two things I can think to spend it on.

I have introduced the cats to the joys of sleeping in the laundry basket full of freshly laundered towels. First one, then the other, then both. Methinks I see a repeat load in the future.

The chill chest is still freezing fruit and yogurt in the main compartment,despite all attempts to adjust the baffles and/or baffle the adjustors. I’ve told the human female she should quit whining, since it means that breakfast smoothies will be nice and cold without having to add so much ice. And since I’ve talked the blender out of wanting to crush ice without getting chunks stuck under the blades, this is a good thing. She should THANK me.

I kicked the mango on the counter, so when the human female cut it open it was all fermenty inside. It went right into the compost heap. I expect we’ll have drunk opossums tonight. Or maybe raccoons. I should make some popcorn so that Sigyn and I can sit and wait and watch the fun.

Last month, the human female tried to get in to see her doctor about that cat scratch that went rather urgently bad. She was told she couldn’t see her primary care physician until the end of this month. Nope, no openings at all! She had to see someone else. On Thursday, the human male called to schedule his annual physical. He was able to get one first thing the following day–with the female’s PCP! Woman, have you considered that your doctor may herself be sick? Of looking at you???

After a month of being incommunicado, the roofer resurfaced to assure the humans that he is very, very close to working out a deal with Usually Sounds Amiable…Although. Suuuure he is. As a god, I can hold my breath pretty much indefinitely, but even I’m not fool enough to try it in this case. Those of you who had “July” in the roof betting pool can pretty much count on sucking it up.

Attempts Total Involvement, who told the humans it would be at least a month before any work could start, suddenly did an about face and told them they could start as early as this week, which gave a window of about four days to pack up the entire craft room. The human male had other things to do (smart man), so the female spent half of Friday ferrying open-topped or unboxable things to the guest room:

…and boxing up books and other boxables to be left in the craft room for the movers:

Most of those boxes are full of books. I tried hefting a few cartons, and I think there’s the distinct possibility that the the human female did some passive-aggressive packing and made them extra-heavy, as punishment for a) not doing the packing and b) messing with the timeline so much. While I myself did not handle any of the books (I don’t like dust or paper-cuts), I did goad her along and stoke her foul mood as she boxed things up, such that the contents of any given box are not sequential from the shelves. “Just pack what fits,” I told her. When it comes time to put her library back on the shelves, she’s pretty much going to have to unpack all of them at once.

And there you have it. Remember, minions: Plan ahead now for mischief and merriment in the future!

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Mischief Update– A Negative Holding Pattern With Unpleasant Surprises

Gaming weekend has come and gone, and it’s time to turn from levity and laughter resume the relentless march of mischief.

Sometimes, mischief means doing nothing. Or, rather, seeing to it that nothing happens.

NOTHING has been enough to dissuade mosquitoes from biting the human female. She want for a walk today and ended up with a nice big nibble on one ear.

NOTHING has happened with regard to the roof. The roofer won’t even return the humans’ phone calls. Who has “late August” in the roof betting pool?

NOTHING has been decided about a replacement for the female’s defunct illumination device from Obsolete Technology Troubles. The human female’s floristy friend offered a bulb but, of course, it’s not remotely the same size and shape as the female needs. No light = no stitching, so nothing is happening on the embroidery front.

NOTHING seems to be dissuading the human female from eating up all the snacks left from gaming weekend. People more or less divvied up the chips and cookies that were left on the last day, but somehow, all the chips came back to this house. She gets so cross when her pants don’t fit–it’s such fun to watch her fret!

The human female adjusted the cooling box because the ice wasn’t freezing very well, the ice cream was a bit too soft (blasphemy!), and things in the main compartment were freezing up. All her fiddling has done NOTHING to fix the problem, which leaves her to ponder why frozen yogurt is delicious and fun when purchased from a frozen yogurt shop, but a right pain in the fundament when it comes out of the refrigerator at home. Also–frozen mushrooms? Bleargh.

NOTHING has been knocked out of the dining room window recently, which is good. What is going on is the Terror Twins rubbing all over the African violets there so that the leaves are extra-furry. Many of the leaves that hang over the pots have been broken off over the pot rim, and one of the culprits (I believe it to be Flannel Cat) has taken to eating the blossoms as well. So NOTHING is blooming.

What’s left of the one surviving hollyhock in the front yard? Essentially, NOTHING. It succumbed to heat, spider mites, and over/underwatering. A moment of silence, please, for the human female’s dreams of creating an English cottage garden. And what’s happening to the spot in the side yard where some winter-killed grass is missing? NOTHING. The human female is afraid of fungicide…

Remember the fun I had with the song sheets at Sigyn’s church? Guess what I made wrong with them this week? That’s right–NOTHING! I fixed it so that there weren’t any at all! Either they didn’t get put out in the pews or there weren’t any at all. I wasn’t there to see it, since I’m not allowed in the church, but I heard about it, about how the whole congregation just stood/sat there silently while the choir carried bravely on by itself. Awkward!

And, finally, I have the pleasure to report that NOTHING (more) has yet to be done with the craft room ceiling. The project manager from Attempts Total Involvement was round the other day to take a look at the tarped-up hole, shake his head, and deliver some Unwelcome News to the humans. The job, if and when it does happen, will take a week, not the two days they’d been told. I say “if and when” because the calendar is full, full, full, and once the humans get on the schedule, there will be about a four week wait before the workers can start. And last, but most definitely not least, what will ATI do about boxing up all the books and fabric and whatnot for removal from the room while the work is being done? That’s right! NOTHING! Despite what they’d been told, the humans have learned that ATI will only move/manipulate, not pack, so it’s up to the human female to pack it all up.

So now the humans are on a mad, frantic search for any available, preferably free, boxes, enough to take care of all of this:

Plus the contents of the closet’s lower shelves and all the things under that table to the right and all the tchotchkes on the window sill. The humans spent a great deal of time the other day, making the rounds of the copy shops (copy paper boxes are ideal, since they have lids), the liquor stores, and various other places, asking for whatever boxes they can spare. And what did they find?

I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count…

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Mischief Update: Of Shell Games and Suspicious Crashes

If you were expecting an update about completed construction–really?! In this town, with these humans, over a holiday weekend? With me involved?? Surely no one is that naive.

Status of roof: Still up in the air. As roofs generally are. Ehehehehe. No word on whether/if Roofer Number Four has convinced Usually Sounds Amiable, Although… to do the work he outlined for the price he’s willing to charge. Clock is ticking. Will there be any wood, felt, and shingles available when some agreement is reached? That is a very good question.

Nothing more has happened with the ceiling in the craft room. If my plans work out, the humans will get about half an hour’s notice from Attempts Total Involvement that they have to get all the breakables out immediately. The human female has been putting off that little chore, so it’ll be fun to watch her scramble. Still no word on where all the books and shelves are supposed to go, either.

The sewing machine has been cleaned and returned. The humans are just this minute hunting up the screwdriver to put it back into the cabinet—

Norns’ Nighties! What was that awful noise?!

And why do the felines look so guilty? Oh, I bet I know what happened. One or both of them jumped up on the cabinet and walked out onto the extended table. I’ve been working with them on stealthily going where they’re not supposed to, and the lessons seem to be paying off! I think they need a refresher, though, because if they’d done it properly, it wouldn’t have landed on the laundry basket. It would have fallen forward, gouging the laminate flooring and the armoire and breaking the table. The only fallout from a dump-over in this position is literal fall-out. The humans are going to be sweeping and magneting up pins for a good while. Between that and lowering the very heavy machine precisely into the cabinet, if I’m lucky, someone will need a bandage before the day is out.

The specially-ordered lightbulb for the human female’s big sewing lamp came–and it is exactly identical to the one from the local crap craft store. And this one not only strobes, it emits a high-pitched hum guaranteed to drive her ’round the bend (okay, further ’round the bend) in under a minute. It’ll have to go back. I have offered to write a Strongly Worded Letter to the fine folks at Obsolete Technology Troubles. She’s hoping they offer a replacement lamp, but I bet I can word it in such a way that they offer only a grudging not-apology and something useless like $5.00 off something she doesn’t want. In the meantime–No stitching for you!

So, yes, I’ve been busy. My best work here, though, is not in tipped furniture, flickering bulbs, or scheduling woes. Oh, no no no! It is with accounting. Numbers are a very, very fertile ground for mischief.

The Water-sucking People billed Usually Sounds Amiable, Although… directly. USAA paid them, minus the deductible. Attempts Total Involvement have sent USAA a bill for work which has not even commenced yet, and USAA has paid them, minus the deductible. That’s right! They’ve deducted the deductible twice! The human female paid for the sewing machine cleaning out of her own pocket and sent USAA the receipt. You’d think that USAA would add it all up and just have the humans pay ATI the deductible minus what was spent on the sewing machine and then pay ATI the remaining bit of the deductible. Loki-Logic, though, dictates that USAA is going to send a check to reimburse the human female for what she spent on the machine, issue a check for the full amount to ATI, and have the humans write a check to the Water-sucking People for the amount of the deductible. Meanwhile, the advance on the roof claim just sits in the bank, waiting for some sort of agreement to be reached!

That whirring noise you hear is the human female’s head spinning. If we wrapped that noggin in copper wire and gave her some magnets for earrings, we could hook her up to the power grid and make up for some of the whopping power bill that the old AC racked up as it was dying while trying to cool the house in the middle of a heat wave.

The final, finishing financial finagle was to make sure the humans received their own Strongly Worded Letter, letting them know that their claim for “damage to their AC” has been categorically and very pointedly denied, disallowed, and disapproved.

Which would be truly crushing, you know, if they’d actually made that claim. But no. I saw to it that that thing died in such a manner that every last cent for its replacement came out of their own linty pockets. Belts will be worn a little tighter this season.

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Mischief Update: Let’s Revisit Hel Week, Shall We? Part 1: Condestruction-related Items

I’m sure my many fans and minions want to know the status of all last week’s mischief projects. I thank you for your interest! I have endeavored to not let up the pressure too much, lest the humans grow complacent. I shall answer the questions I know you have.

Do the humans have a new roof yet? They do not! Roofer #4 was incommunicado until the middle of this week and was not returning calls (roofers are a bit busy right now.) He finally surfaced long enough to reassure the humans that he is “working on the paperwork” to submit to Usually Sounds Amiable, Although… In the meantime, roofer #5—who was contacted weeks ago, before the advent of roofer #4— came out to take a look. He pointed out that the humans’ current roof has something called “double felt”, whatever that is. That will make it more expensive to remove. He submitted an estimate some two thousand dollars higher than roofer #3’s, the one that USAA wouldn’t fully cover. Between hail storms and other disasters and my own stockpiling lumber and other goodies for the building of my own palace, the prices of construction materials are going through the roof (Bwhahaha–couldn’t resist!), so that the price of the project is rising by the hour and there isn’t even a firmly fixed insurance settlement yet!

But at least the water-damaged ceiling is fixed, right? It is not! The water removal equipment is gone–they picked it up on Monday, despite the fact the water-sucking folks said they’d pick some of it up on Saturday. The house is strangely quiet without two fans and a dehumidifier running around the clock. But there the work has stalled. The company charged with restoring the ceiling and carpet in the craft room, Attempts Total Involvement, or ATI for short, came out on Wednesday. Where the humans expected ceiling repair and replacement of the cutaway carpet pad and a steam-cleaning of the rest of the carpet, ATI has other notions. They’ll fix the ceiling all right, and then paint it. That, they say, will make the walls look funny, so they purpose to paint the entire room. I could have told them that the humans painted everything with the cheapest, untinted titanium white they could buy, and that the ceiling would certainly match the walls if they just used that, but if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s keeping mum if it can make my day a bit more interesting and the humans’ a bit more frustrating. ATI also wants to take up the entire carpet pad, which means the room must be emptied. Everything must go–the dollhouse, all the quilt fabric, the stitching supplies, the sewing machine, multiple boxes of stuff-and-whatnot, tens and tens of linear feet of botany and art and craft books, and the bookshelves themselves, a prodigious heftage of planks and cinderblocks. There is, I hardly need point out, no place in the house to put all of this. ATI says they’ll pack it all up, but no one has the vaguest notion of where it’s going to reside for the duration. I have not offered the use of my pocket dimension, the place I stash all my goodies, so the humans will have to work something out on their own. The human female will have to pack the breakables herself. You can’t really hurt quilt fabric, but dollhouses are quite… smashable. Sigyn is most worried about the miniature lab glassware that lives on the windowsill. She’s offered to pack it up herself. I shall stand ready to rescue her should it become necessary.

What is the prognosis for the antique sewing machine, the one that got avalanched by wet fiberglass insulation? Unclear. The gentleman at the repair shop seemed entirely unfazed when given the description of what the poor thing experienced. Makes me wonder what Midgardians do to their machines that would render him so unflappable in the face of such a tale of misfortune. What nightmares has he beheld??

What about the sewing light? Did the new bulb work? Ehehehee! As of yet, there *is* no new light. The humans called on Thursday. The person who answered the phone said they’d have to speak to the person who helped them originally, and he promised to pass along a query and have him return the call. (Too many ‘he/hims” in that sentence, but you get the idea.) There has been a suspicious silence since then… It is slowly dawning on everyone just who sits on the board of Obsolete Technology Troubles…

But at least the new AC works, right? It does indeed. I find the sub-90°F temperatures indoors most salubrious and Sigyn and I no longer have to camp in the freezer. The human female sent in the paperwork for claiming the rebate from the city for installing energy-efficient equipment. The AC installer said last week that the inspector “will likely be around tomorrow,” but that didn’t happen. The human female called the AC company this week, and the AC company set up the city inspection for the next day (Tuesday). Tuesday came and went in its own desultory fashion. No inspector. The human female called the AC people, who looked into it and promised a visit from the city on Friday. Friday, of course, being the day the humans were planning a quick trip to the Big City to the South. The human male ended up going to the Purveyor of Pens with one of his friends while the female stayed home to let the inspector in. The inspector has just been, and the unit passes, but apparently the AC technicians forgot a little thingish thing that keeps a wire from rubbing or misbehaving in some other unsanctioned and undesirable fashion. The inspector helpfully left a memo as to what needs fixing:

Perfect! Clear as mud. So someone will be coming back out at an as-yet-unspecified date to crawl up into the attic once again. That wobbly pull-down ladder has never felt so loved and needed as it has in the past fortnight.

How long do you think I can s t r e t c h all of this home repair out? Should there be a betting pool? I think maybe there should be a betting pool—and one of the items should be “guess the date on which Usually Seems Amiable, Although… gets fed up with the humans and cancels their homeowner’s policy.

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