HOGFLEET HOGDATE 3.11.2014
We put MissusFleet on a plane to Singapore 11 days ago. Since then, we have boldly gone where only the Missus has gone before.
Our Mission will end on tomorrow night when she returns, unless we have destroyed the house, and, potentially, the universe by then, because we have a “history”.
Before she left, our orders from the Missus at HOGFLEET were formidable, to say the least. They run for several pages, supplemented by strategically placed yellow and blue Post-It notes.
All. Over. The. House. Complete with diagrams.
A glimpse of our Orders include the following:
DOGGIES — Meds for the shaky Crack Puppy to be given, wrapped in cheese, morning and night. Teeth-cleaning treat (to be broken in half while inside the thick plastic bag to avoid mess and possible bloodshed) given morning and night to both doglettes after dinner. Slice of chicken dog roll to be given morning and evening, with one scoop dry food, laced with chicken treats. “Good Doggies!” who eat “all their food!!!” to be given additional chicken treats. Water dispenser is to be refilled nightly, in the sink, as this involves holding it upside down while screwing on the bowl portion. (When we read this, our Tricorder chirped as it began picking up danger). Dogs to be let out in the morning and evening; their feet wiped after each trip outside, followed by chicken treats and the saying of “Good Doggies” . Under no condition is the Bichon to get anything salty because, for some unexplained reason, this makes him try to gnaw off his left hind foot. (Tricorder beeping yellow alert).
INDOOR PLANTS — After reading our orders we, for the first time, actually realized that MissusFleet’s vast outdoor gardens and backyard jungle have nothing on the inside of this house. Our strict maintenance orders cover plants in places that, until this HOGdate, we had no idea even existed, including the Family Room, the Kitchen and the Toilet. MissusFleet’s order sheet for plant watering would appear, to casual observer, to have been computer-drafted by engineers at the Mercedes Benz Water Bottle Fabrication Plant on Rygel XII, clearly shows in words and illustrations exactly which plant is to receive exactly how much water. (Our Tricorder’s DANGER signal is now well into the red, giving us a real sense of impending doom.)
KITCHEN — To reduce the chance of kitchen fires, which could led to the detonation of photon torpedos, red matter and one or both doggies, we have boldly chosen to eat virtually nothing but non-flammable fruit and carrots, supplemented by non-flammable cans of stew and chili, and Missus-approved microwaveable frozen dinners. More on this later.
OUTDOOR MASSIVE GARDEN(s) — Just contemplating this order makes the threat Tricorder glow red and vibrate. This is because MissusFleet’s garden has been created with blood, sweat, tears, love and beeg monies over the last 15 years. There are, at a wild guess, 10 bazillion trillion hijillion different species of flora (plus many plants). As it turns out, each one requires about the same level of care as a patient undergoing a heart transplant. We will not elaborate on the intricate logistics involved with fulfilling this order, because it is not appropriate for a grown man in HOGFLEET to weep. We will simply offer two snippets from MissusFleet Orders on Watering: “Water every other day, unless it rains, for 15 minutes. For the porch plants that cannot be reached, use exactly one-half of the plastic pail. To turn the water on, kneel down on the pad. Wear long sleeves and kitchen gloves to avoid being stung by bees.” (To which we say “BEES???” As if Klingons were not bad enough?)
LIGHT SWITCHES — These are to be kept in the OFF position when not in USE. “This is important”. So important that “important” is underlined. (The Tricorder is emitting woop-woop noises).
COOKING— The final CODE RED NOT TO BE IGNORED ORDER FROM MissusFleet is not lengthy, but it is “very important”. And by “very important,” MissusFleet means, “the rest of your life will be affected by whether you listen to me now… I suggest that you don’t cook. Go out and eat or something. I really suggest you don’t cook. I am afraid you will ruin my utensils (and/or burn down the house… implied). Okay. Hmmmm. If you open a can of chili or warm up a frozen dinner, that’s OK. But NOTHING ELSE (said while MissusFleet waved her hands back and forth in front of her face). This is what I suggest. Really. ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION?”
NOTE TO READER: If you are a religious person , you will understand why we began to pray at this moment, and, even now, encourage you to join us in the following prayer:
“Dear Lord, please don’t let us burn down the house, kill the dogs, scratch a skillet, kill a plant or do anything else that will cause us great pain for the rest of this life, and possibly into eternity. Amen.”
We find our 2,200-square-foot Houseship to be vast and eerily quiet, except for Bruce Springsteen blaring at about 10 billion decibels from the living room. At least until we pause the CD, and listen very carefully. We cannot hear even a single complaint or threatening footsteps rapidly walking in our direction. A man could get used to this. Our orders for this mission are clear and easily followed. Except for the clauses, sub-clauses and fine print about the dogs, plants, kitchen and gardens. (We can tell you are not surprised. You are not new here, huh?)
Although “technically” on duty today, since we are the only person at home (sound of happy feet dancing), we make a command decision to strictly follow MissusFleet Orders. Which is a total lie. Because we are devoting the entire day to attending our first BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN CONCERT, checking off an item that is very high on our Bucket List. (Note: if today we somehow accidentally cause an intergallactic incident, or tear the space-time continuum in our rampant Bruceage, we are content because “the good of the many must be sacrificed for the good of me and Bruce”. It is written.
It is difficult to focus our Orders today. Not because yesterday’s Boss-related activities involved adult beverages and organics — this is not the Sixties (although we are within spittin’ distance of the big 6-0). No, our mental flummoxations are, according to our Tricorder, the result of “awesomeness overload.” We simply have Bruced to the Max. We have no idea when or if our brain will return to normal functions. We don’t care. We are in The Boss Zone. And it is awesome.
At the dinner table, we experience a shiver down our spine, as if glacier water has been poured down our back. The Tricorder actually transforms itself into a block of smoking dry ice. This has nothing to do with The Boss. It has everything to do with the Other Boss — MissusFleet. As we, for the thousandth time, re-read our Orders listed in the Post-It notes that cover the kitchen table — not just on the surface, but three dimensionally, thanks to little wire things with clips on the end, which wave in the breeze — we realize that, Dear Lord, we have not watered the back garden. In our defense, nowhere on the Post-It Order Sheet does it say, “water the back garden”. However, it could be argued that the Watering Order is for “garden” with what could be an ‘s’ on the end”, implying a plural garden. As our blood runs cold, we recall that summer in 1980 when we house sat, and, being totally responsible and grown up, we realized in mid-August that we had not, technically, watered the yard for the whole Texas summer, which left the grass only slightly more combustible than gunpowder. We shudder. We take several deep breaths, and mentally go to our “happy place”, before walking with an apprehensive gait into the back yard to check for possible casualties, averting our eyes at first, but eventually scanning all 10,000 plants and realizing they are all still green. We fall to our knees a offer thanksgiving.
Initiative has always been rewarded in the service, except on the odd occasion when we have destroyed, say, a pot or pan or utensil that is cherished by MissusFleet. This why we have decided that, in addition to not cooking any food, requiring the application of actual heat, we decide to only use a single glass container for microwaving and eating. This is our reasoning: 1) MissusFleet clearly said this bowl is microwave-safe, which immediately reduces the risk of repeating that previous incident which, except for some facial scarring, has been forgotten; 2) This is not really glass glass, it is some kind of super glass that you could probably drop from 100 foot in the air onto a basketball court and it would not break, almost certainly; 3) Because this is super glass, it would be virtually impossible to scratch it, as happened 20 years ago when all our kitchen privileges were summarily revoked. We are pleased to report that no scratching or breaking of the super glass bowl has occurred because of the great care we have shown. And because when we accidentally dropped our coffee cup onto it, because we forgot it was in the sink, it was miraculously only a glancing blow. And Richard Dawkins says there is no God!
Stationed alone, our operational efficiency seems to have both increased and decreased. We find ourselves re-re-reading MissusFleet Orders, mentally and physically checking them off, yet being summoned by an unknown force to visit and revisit all rooms and gardens, while holding relevant Post-It Notes in our direct line of sight. We suspect this is either ADD or possibly PTSD caused by previous catastrophes reportable incidents. We radio the Medical Officer for an opinion on Post-It Notes PTSD, but all he will say is “Dammit, HOGS, I’m a doctor, not a secretary.”
It’s not that Microwavable food lacks the “hickory smoke” flavor of, say, something cooked in an actual stove. But it does tend to render some foodstuffs into mush that tastes like, well, mush. So with that in mind, and, technically, working within MissusFleet’s “suggestion” that we NOT COOK ANYTHING, we decide to reheat frozen fish sticks. Upon reading the instructions, we learn that the fish sticks have to be “cooked” involving actual heat. Which proves a dilemma. If we “cook”, as in “applying heat” to said fish sticks, we might not be in complete, 100% compliance of MissusFleet’s “suggestion” that we not cook. Anything. At all. Ever.
But if we did not use the stove, we will either have to eat frozen fish sticks (which we only ever did once in university), or nuke them into fish mush in the microwave. Thinking tactically, we decide to reheat the 16 fish sticks in the stove. Continuously. Until they are heated to the point of being “unraw”. Then we have a fish samwich, which is awesome. Then we become somewhat flummoxed about what to do with the remaining 14 unraw fish sticks. If we use our trusty super glass container to store them in the fridge, we could not use it for anything else until we’ve eaten all the fish sticks. Or possibly we could just add other food stuffs to the fish sticks — e.g. oatmeal, soup, chili, peaches. While we think this option has merit — especially the concept of fish chili — we decide to simply leave the heated-but-definitely-not-cooked fish sticks in the oven until tomorrow. As soon as we make this decision, the Tricorder burps loudly. But when we note the bright red lights on the stove, and we remember to turn everything off, the Tricorder seems to calm down. Though it did seem to whimper.
At the beginning of our mission, we decided to use MissusFleet’s time away to lose weight. We bought many apples and carrots and celery. Or possibly “celeries”. Eating the celery, or “celeries” if we were really hungry, left no waste that had to be disposed of, which was excellent. The carrot skin, which was shaved off into the sink, along with slivers of the rubber grip from our hook … geez, who knew the carrot peeler was that sharp? … had to be disposed of. At STARFLEET command, they never told us that carrot skin floats and is, thus, unflushable, nor does it biodegrade naturally in a toilet bowl. Being subjected to this dilemma of non-flushable, floating carrot skins demanded that we apply outside-the-bowl thinking.
We have come to a solution involving a utensil that we will never, even if tortured, which is very likely, admit to using. In fact, strike that last sentence entirely from the record. We note that the best thing about eating apples is that disposing of the cores is easy and, in fact, great fun. We discover that, despite our bum shoulder, we can, with impressive accuracy, lob the cores so that they hit the top of the shed and bounced into the primordial forest. If, due to wind gusts or a bad bounce, any of the cores have gone into the neighbor’s jungle, we apologize. But being a single man who lives alone, we know he will understand.
We decide to have chicken broth today, which is less fattening than, say, our preferred chocolate cheesecake squeedles (The Breakfast of Fat Champions). We decide that his Lenten sacrifice will still be valid if we supplement the broth with crackers and cream cheese. When we pick up the omnipresent super glass bowl for the broth, we remember the fish sticks, which, by our quick mental calculations, have been in the oven for approaching 48 hours and are, thus, we recalculate, still well within their use-by dates. We enjoy the broth and crackers with cream cheese without incident while watching TV in the normally off-limits living room. We have no idea why the floor directing under where we are eating is shinier than the rest of the floor. We suspect this could be related to dog tongues and cheesed-up cracker crumbs. Never mind.
When our Tricorder sounded, and the walls began to shake, it appeared that our deflector shields had dropped and we were under Klingon attack. But this was not the case. It was our innards exploding. Whoa. We consider our rations from the previous day. Our conclusion is that cream cheese might, in a strictly legal sense, be considered a “dairy product”, which we have been banned from ingesting by MissusFleet because of our lactose intolerance and explosive tendencies. In choosing to ingest said cream cheese, our logic is that it is not pourable, like milk, and therefore it is NOT included in MissusFleet’s “No Cow Directive.”
We also consider whether our “internal combustion” (HOGFLEET engineer’s joke!) might have had something to do with the Cranberry juice. We seem to recall that MissusFleet advised that the big plastic jug needs to be refrigerated after use. But, as putting the jug IN the fridge and then taking it OUT of the fridge every single time we want juice, seems like a colossal waste of time and effort, we have positioned it on MissusFleet’s favorite chopping board trolley thing, which can easily be accessed from our seat in the “Mess” (HOGFLEET sailor joke). When we take the last glug of the juice, which has been open for 1.5 weeks, we think, “my, there must be a cranberry skin in this juice; their quality control needs to be improved.” And then we realize this is not cranberry skin. It is skin that forms on the top of fruit juice that has not been refrigerated for a long period of time.
We overcame the reflex human action of hurling, and decide to simply spit out the “amoeba skin”. And, since we have already glugged the contaminated juice, and since we were hot and thirty, having just walked the doglettes, and, of course, given them treats for being “Good Doggies!!!), we decide to finish off the potentially contaminated juice. After all, we have health insurance. Whether our “internal combustion” was caused by alleged dairy products or the “aged” Cranberry juice, we may never know. But it is clear that we will be on a bland diet of oatmeal for the next two days. Were MissusFleet here, our diet would be “porridge”, e.g., rice in runny water. But since we cannot seem to remember how MissusFleet said the rice cooker works, rather than risk some kind of catastrophic equipment failure/explosion, we decide to go the oatmeal route.
Who would have thought that a) the box of oatmeal we just bought at the store would not be filled with individual packets of oatmeal; and b) that if you fill a super glass bowl with dried oatmeal and then add hot water, it becomes sort of like the Blob That Ate New York City in both size and consistency? We eat what we can, but this does not even put a dent in the Oatmeal Blob That Ate New York City. We decide to store the wonderfully efficient, hold-and-cook everything super glass bowl in the fridge. We will either nibble away at its contents in the coming days or discover if Oatmeal Blobs are less buoyant than carrot skins and, thus, flushable. We have not been able to find an answer to this query in STARFLEET archives or even by Googling. Nor have we been able to determine if the, some might say, decaying fish sticks left forgotten in the oven for many days now, might have attracted ants or possibly beavers. We decide to eat part of the Oatmeal Blob, which seems to be getting larger, and discard the fish sticks in a manner that will leave no evidence of wastage, which, in the eyes of MissusFleet, is a court-marshal offense. Don’t ask, okay?
Two words that haunt a captain are “equipment failure”. But they are not nearly as scary as “Pissedof Missus” (see, two words, stay with me here). As it has been two days without rain, unless you count the sprinkle, and we don’t, because MissusFleet Orders were silent on “sprinkling”, so we decide to water the front yard while writing our HOGlog. After carefully turning on the front tap, while not wearing rubber gloves and, miraculously, not being stung to death by the thirsty bees, we flee inside, grab the Miniature Coffee Pot timer and set it for exactly 15 minutes. We pause a moment to take stock and are proud of our timer-related initiative.
After about, oh, maybe 75 minutes, give or take, we leap from our desk chair when something cold and wet rubs against our ankle. No, it is not a Truffle. It is a wet bichon who apparently has been playing in the sprinkler, which has, oh crap, been running for a very, very long time. Let it be clearly noted in this HOGLog that the timer has NOT dinged to advise us that the designated watering time of 15 minutes has been reached. At this point we realize that the Miniature Coffee Pot timer we have been using must be the one that does not technically work but which is “so cute” that it must retain its place of honor among MissusFleet’s much loved sussies in the kitchen. After toweling off the Bichon and, as best we can, cleaning up thousands of tiny wet paw prints in the hall, we go outside and turn off the sprinkler. If the sun comes out tomorrow, we believe there is a very good chance that the yard will dry up and not turn into a swamp. We choose to be optimistic about this.
Judging by the fact that we will need to eat the doggies very soon, because the fridge and larder are empty of the provisions we bought before MissusFleet went away, we conclude that this is the next to last day of our mission. We will need to pick up MissusFleet at the airport late tomorrow night. This fills us with warmth and affection and raw fear. Because, in less than 24 hours, we will be subjected to the Mother Of All Inspections. This means that the best part of today and tomorrow need to be spent retracing our steps to ensure that there is no incrimination evidence left the house is in good order. We are reasonably confident that all doglettes are present and accountable, although the Crack Puppy has decided that the giant shredding bag is her new tent and she likes to sleep in it. We are less confident of the plant situation, despite our 110% effort to water said plants and not kill even one of them — even the one in the bathroom that we hate and which we are supposed to water every day after showering. Like we are going to remember to do that. This is clearly a day for general quarters to be sounded. May God be with us.
HOGDATE 14.1.2014. We have tried to faithfully and accurately report on our activities while MissusFleet was away for two weeks in Singapore, except for the really bad thing that might have happened that first day, but which there is no need to go into here, because there is a reasonable chance that, with jet lag and all, it will go unnoticed, at least until next Christmas, at which point, with a little luck, we will have retired from STARFLEET or be dead. If we do not ever post again in HogsAteMySister, you will know our strategy was fatally flawed. That, or we fell off the roof, because we need to go clear the gutters before the big storm hits…