Y’all better call your moms today!

I am clearly not suited to a life of manual labor. You see, I started on a little summer project this morning. I don’t know how long I’ve got, but I’m definitely going to die long before my wife, and it’s not as if I’m leaving her a vast inheritance — this old house is about it. I decided I need to do some home improvements before it’s too late, and the immediate task that came to mind is repainting the dining room and bedroom. Both were afflicted with terrible wallpaper that was peeling, as well as being hideous, and I know that Mary will have to sell the place and move to someplace less remote once I kick the bucket, and while she’s worrying about papers and cremation and all that other nonsense, she’s not going to have time to prep the house for resale.

So I figure I’ll do a few things while I’m still ambulatory. I started with stripping the wallpaper with a steamer this morning.

There’s a lot of bending and stooping and working near the floor and also higher up, and I got through about half the job, and hour and a half into it, before my back decided to go into spasms. This was not pleasant. I can tell I will not last long at all in the work camp after the Republicans take over, but now at least, I can sit down and pop ibuprofen for a bit, until I recover, and can get the remaining half done.

As long as I’m sitting down, I called my mother to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. Have you called yours, if you have one, and if she’s the kind of mother who deserves your affection? I’ve got one, and she does. Unfortunately, she also has voice mail. Oh, well.

Jeez, this photo is 10 years old? I’m getting old.

So you’ve been reminded, and I better remind my kids, ’cause their mother deserves a call. They can also say hi and be grateful to me, because I was thinking that once I’m dead, if I don’t get the various jobs I’m planning done, they’re going to have to come home to Morris and do all the house maintenance themselves to help their mother out.


  1. Deep Myth says

    PZ – I hope you’re still around for a few more years to come. Who needs mobility if you have a computer and an internet to talk to?

  2. birgerjohansson says

    Brandon’s Cult Movie Reviews just posted an entry from the Troma collection; “Mothers Day”
    So you have that to watch once the back pains subside:-)

  3. says

    Because most of my family is blithely Covid-careless—as is most of Tulare County down in California’s Central Valley—I avoid visiting or mingling with them. That part of the state is bright red, and daring to wear a mask is to invite abuse and ridicule. However, yesterday I made a day-trip down there to treat Mom to lunch. Doing it the day before Mother’s Day ensured that the local restaurants weren’t crowded, and scheduling it before the peak of the noon rush meant we could get a minimally exposed table near the edge of the room. Mom was a bit disappointed I wasn’t prepared to make the rounds of various unvaccinated nieces and nephews and their spouses and children, but finals week is coming up and I made it clear I couldn’t linger.

    Trips down the valley on Highway 99 are always educational. The “Recall Newsom” signs are mostly gone, since the governor scored a crushing victory over that ill-conceived effort. The signs opposed to “Government-created droughts” are still in place. (Do they think Washington and Sacramento passed laws against rain? That’s what is not falling from the sky.) So are the signs exhorting the governor to “stop dumping 78% of our water in the ocean.” Awfully precise, and quite possessive, too.

    Someone was also public-spirited enough to decorate a couple of overpasses with “Jesus or Hell” banners. Upon closer inspection, I discovered they were professionally manufactured canvas banners, neatly printed, with metal grommets in the corners to make it easier to attach to chain-link fences with plastic zip-ties. Someone is spending money on this. I can also report that there aren’t as many of these vigilante signs on Highway 99 as before, but I am not at liberty to share the reasons.

    Happy Mothers’ Day!

  4. ANB says

    My condolences, Anthony @3, that you live in Tulare County. (I went to C.O.S. decades ago). I do not miss the Central Valley.

    I’d be very interested in hearing the explanation as to how the guvmint created the drought. (I know, they’ll say something about all that wasted water running directly into the ocean–because the only reason for that water is to use it for farming.)

  5. whheydt says

    Rather difficult to contact my mother, seeing as she died in 2005 (at the age of 92).

    As for my wife… I would have expected us to die around the same time, given the differences in male and female longevity coupled with relative ages (she is older than I am). However, since she was diagnosed with ALS, the odds have shifted and it is rather likely that I’ll outlive her.

  6. seachange says

    Here in the West, it is always about the water. These signs aren’t entirely wrong…

    Most of the water projects in the Central Valley of California were done by cooperatives or syndications of farmers. This water has been seized and granted to cities. This IS a government created drought: for farmers.

    If you don’t give the slightest fuck about what is living in those rivers that is now going directly to the ocean, your thought process matches lots of precedent of federal and state rules for how water has been (egregiously) allocated by enlightenment principles that this country’s land theft was based upon. These principles are the majorly screwed up bases for most water law in the West. That is to say the person who is using it is more important than the person who is determined (by judges, political and bribed say is) to be not. Salmon and Delta Smelt are not people. Therefore, this water is (for certain levels of bacteria eating their way across that delicious dish of agar agar limitations to growth what?) wasted.

    It is only until quite recently that environmental groups have gained standing to “speak for the trees” like some common Lorax.

  7. René says

    I don’t think we had a phone while my mother was still around. (Our 1st phonenumber had three digits.) ((This year, August 4, I will be twice as old as my mother when she died.)) (((Mama never even had a bank account.)))

  8. birgerjohansson says

    My mother died almost exactly six years ago.
    Dementia is -together with cancer- a very good argument against intelligent design.

    I do not have much space to do home improvement as so much of the place is taken up by boxes of stuff I inherited and still is unwilling to get rid of.
    -Lacking living parents, I adopt pets in need of a home. And it gives me a better sense of agency than waiting for the politicians I have voted for to do the right things to make the world better.

  9. whheydt says

    Re: Rene’ @ #7…
    Mothers and phones… In 1954, my father resigned from the Maritime Service and went to work as a field service engineer (aka “tech rep”). His first assignment was with the Air Force at Castle Air Force Base near Merced, CA. Once we had a place to live, my mother went to arrange phone service. There was a big military buildup in the area at the time, so she was told, “Yes…but it’ll be six months before we get around to you.” That answer was passed along to my father when he got home. He spoke with the AF officer he reported to. Apparently, it got up to the base commander who Had Words with someone fairly far up in the local phone company ranks. Three days later, we had a working phone line.

  10. charley says

    At 102, my mom doesn’t do phones anymore and never did computers. I hope she got my card. And remembers who I am. In any case, she is a staff favorite at the memory unit and regularly hands the others their asses in Quiddler and crossword.

  11. JoeBuddha says

    My mom is gone. Recently. It was a “Glad did I live and gladly die. And I laid me down with a will.” She was in hospice, knew it was coming, and lived an extra day just to spite the hospice nurse. ;) That’s my legacy. We choose when we live and when we die. I’ll see if I can do it, eventually.
    ANYWAY, I had a lovely time with my wife, her mother, and my step daughter and her long time boyfriend. All of whom are amazing people. I’m sure my sisters did the same; we didn’t compare notes. May the rest of y’all have the time of your life with the people you love, and may the people you love be among the people you should love. It’s easier that way. ;)

  12. houseplant says

    What’s this y all stuff ? You are from Minnesota. Why are you talking like a southerner ?

  13. says

    @1 Deep Myth YES! I agree, we hope that Prof. Myers takes care of himself. What he contributes is invaluable, not only to the scientific commmunity, but also to us ‘freethinkers’, not to mention all the spiders that rely on him for their very existence. It may have sounded like a silly remark, but, I mean it with all sincerity.

    @3 anthonybarcellos
    Many in my family want to relocate from barbaric Arizona to a more progressive California. We were looking at foothills areas east of Tulare County. But, we removed that area from our list due to your warning about the ‘deep red-neck’ nature of the area Many of us have medical vulnerabilities and always mask up.

    @4 ANB I am not familiar with C.O.S. Is that a region we might consider?

    We had some scary earth shakes when we lived in L.A. in the 1970’s to the 1990’s and want to avoid that. We are looking for a mild climate and an area where the cost of living isn’t the proverbial arm and leg. Would appreciate suggestions

  14. StevoR says

    @6. seachange : “It is only until quite recently that environmental groups have gained standing to “speak for the trees” like some common Lorax.”

    if only Lorax and Lorax type people were more common and more people udnerstood the value of not totally trashing the environment we all depend upon for life itself just for short term economic profiteering at the expense of everyone else – and ultimately even those doing the damage now if they but realised it and cared. I guess excluding those planning on dying soon and who really don’t give a damn about their kids and their legacy and how they’ll be remembered in the future.

  15. moarscienceplz says

    As a person only a few years younger than you, I can say with some experience that standing in front of a bunch of students and pontificating is not really exercise. You need to use all the muscles Charles Darwin endowed you with, at least weekly, if not daily.
    (This post is really aimed at myself)

  16. says

    Yes, I’ve also had occasionally severe back problems since I was 15 or 16. In my youth, I did a fair amount of back-breaking stoop labor — every summer I was doing agricultural work to make a little money for the school year, and then to help pay for college, and that crap fucks you up, for minimum wage. My lumbar muscles have to flare up now and then and remind me of the way I abused them. So yesterday I was doing all these same sorts of motions, and they had to scream at me, “NOT THIS AGAIN, BOY-O. WE WILL LAY YOU OUT FLAT IF YOU TRY.”

  17. rorschach says

    Intelligent Design to create a horizontal column of bones that work well to protect the nerve cables of fourlegged creatures, and then use the same design vertically on bipeds. What could possibly go wrong.

  18. numerobis says

    I failed to see my mother because I was COVID+ and exposing her the previous weekend, before I knew I was infected (but likely when I was at my most infectious), was already a closer call than I intended.