Friday, December 30, 2005
Oh, well. Back to join the New Year's weight loss sheep herd. Baaah.
You gonna eat that?
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
In the meantime a deep post-Christmas breath (in and out) and some thanks:
Thanks for coming. Thanks for giving. Thanks for reading. Thanks for writing. Thanks for caring. Thanks for asking. Thanks for thanking.
If I didn't ask, it's just because I'm me. If I didn't notice, I was probably far too concerned about what you thought about me. Thanks for understanding.
And thanks to the stealth Santa, who left us wine, ornaments and chocolate on our porch on Christmas day. How wonderful and mysterious.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
This constant anticipation of crunchy metal sounds leaves me with a lot of adrenalin while I am required to sit still and drive. The result: spinning wheels of brain matter, many random nerve firings, lots of radio fiddling. Talk radio is best for me, because it calms my brain and focuses some of the synapses towards something concrete, if not particularly constructive (although all the hours of NPR have made me a kick-ass trivia game player).
If NPR is hopelessly lost in a funk of Celtic folk singing, I’ll try the local liberal radio station. If the present liberal at the mike seems to be trying to do a backwards Rush impression, I’ll try the local comedy station. If they seem to be in a ten-minute block of herbal Viagra commercials, then I’m stuck with music, which does nothing for my adrenalin-pumped noggin, so I am forced to try to focus my thoughts on my own, which isn’t always successful.
I think of a lot of brilliant topics for this space, but they are gone as fast as the next thought speeds in.
Once, I saw a youngish guy walking down the sidewalk. It looked like he had the tips of his hair dyed blond. He had on one of those big, thick sweaters your mom gives you for Christmas. He had a doughy round face and was on the heavy side. And he was walking with the kind of jaunty step that catches your eye as you drive by.
I was so trapped in a sitting position with many long minutes of driving to go. I started trying to generate instances in which I could imagine not just being, but wanting to be, friends with this jauntily walking dude. Maybe if he was an editorial cartoonist. Not the fantasy comic type. I suppose they call themselves something else. Maybe if he was in a really good band. I mean lots of really cool band members look like complete geeks, so it’s not impossible. Improbable. Maybe impossible, owing to the fact that I was in Hazel Dell. He might be a successful artist with many sold-out shows, but I doubt it. Artists (successful or otherwise) usually take such care in dressing like artists. Well, I guess I’m either the exception to that rule, or that doesn’t really hold true.
Okay, I give up. He’s a talented, guitar-playing, master’s degree-sporting, comedic essayist with designs on a Senate seat. See, the moral to this story is that you shouldn’t judge a book by its tip-frosted hair.
Or he’s 30 and living on his sister’s couch because his parents threw him out for stealing beer money from them one too many times.
Monday, December 12, 2005
They have chosen to respond by titling a recent Detroit Animal Cops episode "Piglet's Got to Go." They tried to disguise the obvious message by including a short vignette regarding a pot-bellied pig which was removed from a house because of a city-wide ban. Yeah. Whatever.
All this to explain my surprise at watching her bark at baby Jesus last night on our pee walk. It might seem a more rational approach to the situation when I explain that the baby Jesus was part of one of those blow-up Christmas yard decorations that seem to be all the rage amongst the peppier and, let’s say, less discriminating yard decorators (although that might be a contradiction in terms). (Ms. Awfully Judgmental, line two….)
It probably didn’t help Annie’s composure that the whole thing was just being tilted into position as we turned the corner and happened upon it – the whole thing being the whole crèche scene with barn, Mary, Joseph and manger complete with smiling baby. Or it could be that she barked at the incongruity of it all: a plastic, lighted, fan-blown, primary-color, ode to capitalism, depicting the birth of the Prince of Peace and a big devotee of communal living. Or it could be that she was just confused because Joseph, clad in bright red, looked a lot like a young Santa Claus. Why is Santa looking on at the birth of Jesus? Of course, this ties up those two rather divergent Christmas stories quite well, doesn’t it?
I would dismiss the whole “Santa as Joseph” thing as a bad choice of colors and an overzealous depiction of the abundance of Joseph’s beard, but on the way back, I noticed that the same house sported a window painting (I know!), which depicted Santa, a passel of reindeer, and next to Santa, an angel, obviously approving and keeping watch over the reindeer flock by night. I kid you not.
Now, I’m not sure where to begin or end on the theological and/or political significance of this tableau. (Do I have to mention that the car in the driveway sported a W04 sticker?) Surely they are confusing Christianity with capitalism, or maybe its just a case of thinking that “A Visit from St. Nick” is a chapter of the New Testament. Discuss.
I don’t know. But Annie has requested that we find a different route until the holidays are over.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
An old couple sat down across from me, and once they were good and bored, the old man looked at the old woman and said, "You didn't wear your heavy socks."
The old lady replies, "I didn't have time."
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Saturday, December 03, 2005
In the interest of not freaking out the delicate sensibilities of some of our readers, today's blog will be mostly death free. Can't promise full death scrubbing - it might creep in there somewhere...boooga-booga!
Today I bought my dog a dress. Okay, not a dress, but Annie makes even the most rugged outdoor wear look prissy.
(Cue hot techno runway music) "This scrumptious confection of a coat is by Outward Hound. It is rain-resistant, sports a convenient poo-bag pocket and reflective trim. It comes in lipstick red to match Annie's hot-hot greyhound-style collar."
Since she is Annie, she didn't fight the fitting. She just looked worried as usual (see picture). But taking her out walking was a little more difficult. She didn't think going outside dressed like that was a good idea at all. However, I insisted.
It's not raining buckets or snowing today, but I feel bad when it is. I get all bundled up while she stands there waiting to get soaked. Usually, once I open the door and show her the lousy weather, she tries to turn around and convince me that she can hold it for another day or two, no problem. So I'm doing this for her. She will thank me for this. Dammit.
Out we go, me pulling the leash, and Annie walking in tiny, careful steps as if she had pantyhose down around her knees, and looking around, hoping that the neighbor dogs don't see her like this.
After a while the pantyhose effect wore off a little and she was able to get used to the feel of the coat, although I still think she's concerned about her image. I think she was glad it was dark. Little does she know it's going back on tomorrow morning.
Shut up, it's for her own good!
Thursday, December 01, 2005
And if my pigletish nature attracts similar types, then this blog would have the most comments to lose by rejecting commenters who may be too timid to leave a name.
So this blog now accepts comments from all you anonymi out there.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Even though I hate thinking about, you know, it, I was listening to a song the other day, and I thought that if I were to pick the music for my own funeral, I would pick this song, and yet no one would have guessed it.
Then we were re-watching High Fidelity the other day and the topic of top five funeral songs came up.
You know what that means: piglet's top five funeral songs (one rule: it had to currently be in my iTunes library, otherwise I would have spent 5 1/2 hours browsing on Amazon and would have eventually forgotten my original goal and ended up buying myself a used hard-back copy of A Prayer for Owen Meany or something). My list.
- Because (Beatles) by the Nylons. This is the song. The Song.
- Common Threads by Bobby McFerrin. No words. Lots of time to think about how you've always wanted to tell me I'm the best artist and/or dancer you ever met, but it's too late now, buddy.
- Secret O' Life by JT. Because James Taylor should know the secret of life, so I guess we should listen.
- Walk on the Ocean by Toad the Wet Sprocket. Because I'd like to walk on the ocean. And they talk about being forgotten soon after they've gone.
- My Last Cigarette by k.d. lang. I've never smoked. But this song is so sad. And she sings "there are some things that I promised myself, things that I haven't done yet.." Soo sad. I want everybody to cry.
Now, the top five songs to play at my wake:
- All These Things That I've Done by The Killers. First, their name is The Killers. Second, it's a kick-ass song (remember: "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier..").
- Newborn Friend by Seal. Because I want everybody to have a good time, but then wonder about what the hell he means ("I wash my faith in dirty water/I wash my face in dirty water....if I chant for happiness, maybe that will make me feel better...") yeah.
- The Great Beyond by REM. Just to keep your minds on my recent demise.
- Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell by The Flaming Lips. "I was waiting on a moment, but the moment never came. All the billion other moments were just slipping all away..."oh, ow. This is for all the still-living people at my wake who may be waiting on that moment. Plus, it's pretty. And it's got "Gates of Hell" in the title.
- Ray of Light by Madonna. Because you should dance.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Here's a quote that I found in a book (The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb), who quotes it from Paul O'Neil, who originally quoted it in Sports Illustrated ("A Man Conquers Himself," May 31, 1956):
"A man who sets out to become an artist at the mile is something like a man who sets out to discover the most graceful method of being hanged. No matter how logical his plans, he can not carry them out without physical suffering."
A nice dinner and an eviction notice.
Sorry, Squanto. Dig the name, though.
Today I shall be thankful for collective guilt. Just another way to feel shame without actually having to do anything.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Bad weekend of monthly woman-pains has culminated today in a kitchen that smells like a chocolate factory blew up. In the process of destroying the kitchen, I have discovered a brownie recipe that doesn't taste like dirt! And, ickily enough, it is a recipe from Emeril Lagasse, the bam guy.
All the recipes I have ever tried for homemade brownies have never come close to the stuff that comes out of the box. They are usually dry, of suspicious texture, and not nearly chocolatey enough.
All those problems are solved in this recipe. So much fat, so much chocolate, so much more chocolate, these babies are moist and chocolatey like nobody's business.
When I tasted them, I began an involuntary humming in what I believe is F above middle C. These are powerful.
The only trouble is the recipe makes a big sheet cake pan sized batch, and there's just me and Drew. I hope they last until the Thanksgiving festivities. I would hate to have them go to waste. Or waist. (Ha! Super funny!)
Lizzie's Chocolate Brownies
by Emeril Lagasse
- 1 teaspoon plus 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hershey's Special Dark)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (I hate nuts in my brownies, so I skipped this)
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used choc chips)
- 1 recipe of Chocolate Icing (recipe follows)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 17 x 12-inch baking pan with 1 teaspoon of the shortening.
- In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 1 cup shortening. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Add the sugar and blend. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition. Add the water and vanilla, and whisk to mix well. Add the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, and stir to blend. Fold in the walnuts (bleagh!) the chopped chocolate, then spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
- Bake until the cake springs back when touched, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Spread the icing over the cake with a rubber spatula. Let cool completely (right!) before cutting into squares to serve.
- 1 pound confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- Sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the butter and use an electric mixer to combine.
- Add the water and mix until smooth. Let cool, then use.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
- It does not multi-task as a shower, thus, no mildewy shower door frame to stare at. This is big.
- It is deeeeep.
- It is waaaarm.
- There is lots of room on the sides to put candles (I guess that's a popular thing to do because I always see it on TV, but you can't read by candle light, so what do you do? Stare at the flame? Maybe this is fun for blondes). I use the space to put my book and drink down within grabbing distance. I don't have to feel around on the floor for my book. Yessss.
- Nobody is waiting outside to use the potty.
- The poor lighting is kind to one's bodily flaws (if one were to have such flaws).
- It has arm rests so that I can read my book without unnecessary muscular usage. If I stayed in there long enough, I would come out like an astronaut who has been in space too long and has lost all muscle tone (if such a thing were to happen, I could always refer to #6).
- In the summer, the wisteria vines cover the windows and give you extra privacy and shade.
- In the winter, the sun comes in and gives you extra sunniness.
- The toilet is way the hell over on the other side of the room, so I can't see if it's dirty or not.
I know that other people's joy isn't particularly interesting, but there you are anyway.
You know an unexpected effect of becoming empty-nested after 20 years? You have no reason left not to swear. It is rather liberating to be able to swear now and then. Although I never was very good at it.
You can ask anyone who went to school with me. Swear words just didn't sound right coming out of my mouth. Like somehow they came out a little scrubbed of their dirtiness, and the dirt had been left in my mouth and soiled it. I suppose it was partly due to the fact that I looked 13 up until the time I turned 40.
But now I'm old and grizzled and I can swear all I want. I'm a little out of practice though. The other day I got mad at some situation and called it f**king f**ked. Yes, it came out with asterisks in place, just like that.
Friday, November 18, 2005
What do we want:
When do we want it:
Thursday, November 10, 2005
This is a sample of the kind of pictures my husband takes if left unsupervised.
Your word for the day: "anal fissures." That's a very funny sounding medical condition. It sounds like "anal fishers," which would be a much more serious condition, I think.
Monday, November 07, 2005
We were locked out of the house by the previous owners who had helpfully locked all the keys in the house and left the garage door opener with our real estate agent. A cunning plan, except that they (I am sure) absent-mindedly locked the door from the garage into the house on the way out. We had to call a locksmith to break into our new home. The locksmith asked us, "Can you show me proof that it is your house?" Yeah, like we've already gone to the DMV, changed our driver's license addresses, replaced our checks, and carry the recorded deed upon our person on moving day. "How about the big-ass moving truck in the driveway?"
The telephone guy had to come twice and the cable guy had to come twice and needs to come back again. That means 5 days of either (1) waiting for service guys who, we are helpfully informed, will be here between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and who invariably show up at 4:45, or (2) trying to help, or alternatively, looking busy while not helping, cable guys who do not seem to, technically, know what a cable is.
Fire fighter dudes who are happy, goofy labrador retriever-types who like to help but don't seem concerned about the collateral damage of said help. For those of you out there who may be considering asking a fire fighter to help you move, a word of warning: the three favorite phrases of fire fighter movers are: "Ramming speed," "Oops," and "Oh well, I can't see that from my house."
The cat is afraid of the laundry room, which is the only logical place to put her litter box. A cat with a fear of the litter box is a loaded weapon. The leather recliner smells funny now.
We planned a house warming party for a week after the move, thinking we would be more or less moved in by then. The day of the party, we were still working at a feverish pace trying to make the place fit for human habitation, while still making the obligatory Costco trip for party food and liquor store trip for party beverages. By party time, we managed a lame attempt at a mediocre taco buffet, and forgot the big party veggie tray in the fridge and the frozen taquitos in the freezer. The house was empty by 10:30. The. Last. House Warming Party. Ever.
The bright side?
There were several opportunities to carry in lamps and say, "I love lamp."
My new big-ass soaking tub is gooooood.
My new kitchen has so many drawers some remain empty. Really.
The floors don't squeak! I had no idea how much the squeaks were making me crrrazy until they were gone. It's like noticing that your head-ache has gone away. Aaaaahhh....
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
When I sign my posts as Piglet, I am thinking more of A. A. Milne's version - a rather timid, smallish animal, with a slight stutter when anxious - not the barnyard version with the curly tail.
Remind me to go on a rant later about how farmers cut their piglets' tails off to cut down on chewed and infected tails caused by cruel overcrowding. Well, I guess that's pretty much the whole rant...
Anyhoo, we are moving this week, and it's a good move, into a wonderful new house. But still, I am reminded not of A. A. Milne's fuzzy Pooh-friend, but of a barnyard piglet squealing for all she's worth because Mr. Farmer needs to move her from Pen A to Pen B. It might be for her own good, but she's gonna squeal her little guts out anyway, cause it frightens and upsets her.
I'm a barnyard piglet this week.
I love, love, love Johnny Depp's (and of course Tim Burton's and Danny Elfman's) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The only suggestion I might have had: consider Bob Newhart in the role(s) of the Oompa-Loompa(s). Just a thought.
I know I’ve been lucky because when I was growing up, the word Migraine was the Word of Doom. Dad, normally happy to have kids around and tolerant when they acted like the beastly animals that they are, would turn into the most fiercely protective Guardian of the Quiet when Mom’s Migraine struck, and the house would become deathly still. If, for some (now I’m sure totally not) good reason, you had to creep into Mom’s room to ask her a question, her low, raspy whispering Migraine Voice reply would make you feel like the worst kid ever for interrupting her, and vow never to do it again. This is hindsight, of course. You know in reality that guilty feeling lasted all the way until you turned around to tell your sister, “Told you so!” in your shriekiest voice.
I’ve been lucky up until last night. Yesterday, my stomach was inexplicably nauseated. My lunch tasted….tasteless. The sun came out momentarily and blinded me. I skipped dinner. Then I woke up at 2:00 a.m. with an ice cream headache that would not go away. You know the kind that makes you make that screamy ice cream headache noise? I was making that noise, hoping that it might work like some magic incantation that would make the pain go away. Didn’t work. Ibuprofen didn’t touch it. Twice. I finally dug deep into my drawer and found one old Codeine pill that I had squirreled away from the time I hurt my back – thank God. Otherwise, I would have hurled myself, well, I don’t know. Probably, I would have just hurled.
I finally drift off to Codeine land, and this is where it gets weird. Drew gets up and gets ready for work. He comes in to say good bye, and I open my mouth to speak and my mom’s Migraine Voice comes out. Well, it’s come full circle, hasn’t it? It’s my turn. The only thing I can still consider myself lucky about is that I no longer have thoughtless children such as myself at home, trying (kind of) to be quiet.
Monday, October 17, 2005
I'm afraid I would have to turn in my badge as an American female if anyone knew that (not counting running shoes) I have purchased four pairs of shoes in the last three years. One pair of Dansko professionals (Danish clogs for us former-Birkenstock-wearers-turned-yuppies) per year, and one pair of Dansko sandals. What does that say about me? You could say that it says that I wish I was about an inch and a half taller but don't like to wear heels. You would be right. Or you could say that it means that comfort means more to me now than fashion. You would be right again. I suppose if comfort meant wearing the same vinyl wedgie moccasins that grace the eastside "assisted living estates," I might not feel so above the fashion fray, but luckily for me, it's not that bad. Enough about footwear. (I can hear you snoring.)
Drew has been at work for the last two days. Most non-shy people would never believe what it is like in a shy person's house for two days when she has nothing to do but pack. It's very quiet. The phone doesn't ring because no one owes her a phone call. And I certainly do not call anyone under my own power.
Sometimes I wonder whether this is really a healthy way to live - whether maybe I should seek out more human contact. Maybe. But why should shyness be considered a disorder? If people make me nervous, isn't it better here at home with limited people-contact? Isn't everyone better off, and less medicated? Am I really unhappy here by myself? Not really. I just wonder about it sometimes, and think how most people I know would not be able to handle more than a day of my quiet life...
Now I'm going to blow your mind. I was a cheerleader in high school and considered a huge ham whenever I had an audience. But then again, "off stage," my nickname was "Mouse." Well, actually "Jaundice Iguana Mouse," but that's another story, and I'm not sure I ever knew how it went. I can understand the "Jaundice" part, because it sounds like "Janice," but where did "Iguana" come from? I don't know. I'm not normally green or scaly. Maybe we have similar chins. You would have to ask Marcie Kesey. It was her idea.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
For the longest time, I thought John Mayer was singing about "waiting for my fears to dry" in his song Bigger Than My Body when he is actually waiting for his fuse to dry, which makes a little more sense, but is a little less satisfying to me....
What Does It Mean?
Last might I dreamed about falling asleep while my pet owl slept on my chest. I had a pet monkey too, which woke us up by jumping on the owl.
What Does It Mean?
Why does it seem so much more fascinating and urgent to compile a list of one's Top Ten of All Time songs in the evening after a few drinks then it is the next morning? Okay, I threw that one in to give you an easy one...
Friday, October 07, 2005
I actually said before Hurricane Rita: gosh, wouldn't it be awful if Houston got hit with a hurricane and they had to evacuate the Astrodome? Whooo, that would be bad....
Almost as bad:
Okay, when women started blindly wearing "capri" pants (imagine the finger gesture for quotes - it works better in this case), even though "capri" pants make virtually everyone look fatter and shorter than they already are, just because some "fashion" magazine (again with the finger quotes) told them they were some kind of "must have" (aaaugh, don't get me started! oops, I guess I've started...), I made a joke about how the next thing they'll have women wearing are some of those "gaucho" pants (finger gesture with accompanying gagging gesture) that were roundly criticized the first time around (in the late 70s for you youngsters) as being the most awful, unflattering, intentionally worn garment since the Elizabethan age of pizza pan-sized pleated collars. And what did I see this morning in the newspaper ads for the local department store? Gaucho pants! I would laugh if I weren't crying. First Bush, now gaucho pants. This never would have happened under a Democratic administration.
Sorry about the parentheses, but they were unavoidable.
Monday, September 26, 2005
But my brain, today, has chosen an even more insidious way to harm me: and endless-loop tape of the theme to the late-70's sit-com Laverne and Shirley. Here - I'll share some: "...our way, yes, our waaaay, making our dreeeeams come true, for me and you!" Gee, hope that doesn't cause your brain to pick up the same endless loop...
Monday, September 19, 2005
On my mind: The other day I saw a woman turned away from the dermatologist's office because she didn't have the proper voucher or something. She certainly didn't have health insurance as we luckier-than-thou types do. It was humiliating for the woman, uncomfortable for the receptionist who could only follow her employers' rules, and embarrassing for those of us in the waiting room who could not escape the woman's tearful and then angry response. Tax me. Tax me, take the burden off those employers who give a @&$ about their employees, put the burden on all of us and together let's fix this horrible system of haves and have-nots. Man, I hope she didn't have melanoma.
A challenge: An awesome replacement for the word "awesome."
I tend to continue to use the word awesome, but only in an ironic context, such as saying that it was awesome the way Bushy's eyes flicked around the room, looking for someone (Uncle Dick? Carl? Dad?), anyone to jump in and take the blame for the pathetically inept and bureaucratically hamstrung hurricane disaster relief effort before he could get to the part in his prepared "whoops" speech where he had to say a qualified "I take responsibility." That was awesome.
Oops, sorry, I keep going off on political tangents today, and I'm trying to avoid this becoming a political blog. That is so done. Besides, my family will shun me as a black, black, bleeding-heart sheep more than they already do.
Turning around now, marching back to the beginning of the conversation:
Although I try to limit my use of the word "awesome" to certain delicious ironies, Drew continues to use it in its more middle-school usage, as in, "You bought a boat today? That's awesome!" Of course there's nothing wrong with that. If you're in middle school. From a 44-year-old, it tends to match his surf t-shirts, both of which scream "Boy, did I love the 70's!"
In order to try to save him the embarrassment of telling adults who are not fire fighters (who still pretty much live in a constant middle school anyway) that something is sincerely awesome, I am enlisting the help of friends and family out there: what is a fresh, new way to say "awesome," "neat-o," "far out," and/or "sw-eet!"?
I thought you would like to know that the Vancouver library has three (3) copies of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Past Life Regression. True story.
Monday, August 29, 2005
a) that my head has finally exploded from the pressure build-up of sinus goo; and
b) that I am finally free from the pain.
What makes this condition even more of a bummer is that I am having a very difficult time feeling sorry for myself while my nephew is in Bethesda Naval Hospital with two (2) non-functioning kidneys. He was in such bad shape on Friday that he was in intensive care, in an induced coma, on a respirator and fighting for his life.
The good news is that he is now off the respirator and able to withstand his dialysis treatments. My love and prayers go out to him. He's a sweet, talented kid who does not deserve this.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Monday, August 22, 2005
The color took us a long time to decide on. Everything we really wanted to use turned muddy and awful-looking up against our house. The culprit was the roof shingles, which are an odd mixture of old-brick reddish and old-wood tannish. I finally came to the conclusion that to fight the roof color was a bad idea, and we would end up with one of those houses that just look icky for some reason that you just can't put your finger on. I went to the paint store, picked out the color of the roof to work from, then found a tan color that would coordinate with it nicely, and chose a nice, dark reddish brown for an accent color.
For some reason, the choice of tan was a hard one for Dean to accept. He wanted anything but tan. Don't ask me why tan affects him like that. We all have our color issues, I suppose. So when he came home from work and saw the new, vast expanse of tan, his anger at our indifference to his tan aversion must have forced him to use his words to wound. And he chose carefully. To me, he said the house looked awfully "fleshy." As if to intimate that I, an artist, could not tell that I had chosen the color of flesh to surround my house with. That's okay. I can accept his angry words.
For Drew, he chose to use the word "pink." The word most feared by he-man fire fighters. Drew took it more to heart than I did until I explained that Dean had just used the word that would cause him the most pain, as he was feeling such pain from the tanness. We must understand and sympathize.
Drew said he will feel much better when he moves out and doesn't have to look at it any more. There is that too. And the fact that we have gotten five compliments from neighbors - some that we didn't even know. Until now, I guess.
And now a word about skorts. Skorts rock. They are so much more worthy of a new fashion fling than the awful, awful capri (especially for those of us with a few inches less leg than others).
And they are so much more useful than that other word hybrid, the spork, which is neither a functioning fork or a spoon that won't, on occasion, give you an unintentional tongue piercing.
Skorts, for someone like me whose legs are slightly less fabulous than they were a few years ago, tend to hang a little longer than your average short, which makes me feel a little safer in them. For instance, while driving or riding in the car, I don't have to look down and see things jiggling that should never, ever be jiggling. However, it is short enough that it leaves the best leg parts out, for either viewing or cooling. And I can sit cross-legged on the floor and brush my dog or work in the garden without the danger of the skirt. I have three skort and I pretty much wear them interchangeably all summer. If I had four, I would have one more.
That's what I'm thinking.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
- Where's the nearest hospital from here?
- Hey, remember that tooth I just had fixed?
- Well, my bike's okay.
Things to avoid leaving in the toilet:
- suspicious-looking floating bits of shaving cream
- loogies that stick to the bowl that I have to remove, ahem, manually
If you live with someone who does your laundry even when she told you she wouldn't anymore:
- Take the bags of Goo out of your jersey pockets.
- Clothing with more holes than fabric become rags.
- For God's sake, turn your bike shorts chamois-side IN.
Congrats, Dean, on a third in the kilo and a fourth in the Olympic sprint (2005 U-23 Track Cycling Nationals) from your Number One Athletic Supporter.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
The big news is a bronze medal in the Under-23 age category for the Kilo, the race that he hates so much he "retires" from it every time he finishes one. It's a kilometer time trial as fast as you can go. It's a too-long sprint, too-short endurance race that's like the dreaded 400 for runners. And besides, since it's a time trial, there's nobody else on the track to push around. Despite all the downsides, he's good at it any way. Unless he's retired again.
Tomorrow is the sprints, another race that he is a natural in, even though he hasn't necessarily trained for it this year.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Over the last two years, Annie the Smooth Collie has gone from fearing everything and running away at the slimmest sliver of open-door freedom to a happy, tail-wagging, toy-loving goofball.
This is sometimes the process who have to go through when adopting a pet from a rescue group like the Humane Society. Since you can't see a dog's past, and she obviously can't tell you what she's been through, all you can see at first is potential, and all you can use to coaxe it out of her is patience and kindness.
Now Annie loves the whole family. She loves to sniff the boy smells from Drew and Dean (and any male visitor), rub her face and snort along the couch after a good meal, catch her toys unaware and give them a dramatic, if slow-motion shake (wouldn't want to wrench our neck muscles, now would we?), and prance after tennis balls in the back yard. She acts very much like a teenage modelling hopeful, always seeming to be aware of how she looks (with the exception of the occasional public satisfaction a private itch), fixing her hair with a shake, picking up her feet in a hackneyed Lipizzaner-Stallionesque prance when fetching toys, and giving boys a little backwards glance when offering her booty for a booty-scratch.
The only vestiges left of a difficult few early years are the complete absence of any licking behavior (obviously forbidden in a previous life) and some anxiety at mealtime (no happy wiggling or even drawing too near the dinner-preparer).
She also loves her morning walk, although she doesn't jump and wiggle about like normal dogs (also a possible leftover from unhappy days), but waits patiently for me to get ready with a look of desperation on her face, like she is afraid that, after taking her along for the last 800 walks, I am going to decide to leave her home this time. Once safely outside with leash and poop bags, she sniffs the dog messages left by earlier walkers, carefully chooses her own message-leaving spots, and leaves her messages as daintily as possible (even though the more solid messages get deposited in the poop bag every time), and hopes for the one walk in ten where someone will see her and admire her and pet her and let her smell them. Yes!
After her walk, I leave her at the house and take off for a run. I tried running with Annie but quickly realized that she does not understand the concept. Why run when you can walk? Why walk when you can sniff? Why sniff when you can lay in this patch of shady grass?
When I get back from the house, sweet Annie is gone and Freak Dog has taken her place. It seems because every 6 weeks or so I come home from running and give the dog a bath before bathing myself, now every time I come home from running is Danger Time. Annie fears baths more than mean cats and will do anything to avoid them.
I don't know what the big deal is. I use warm water, and the tub floor is nonslip so she has a good foothold, and the shampoo gets massaged into her coat like my hair dresser does to me then charges me for it. If she only knew the cold hose treatment that old Shelby used to endure after a bad case of intestinal upset that left his long Collie fur with too many poopy Klingons (cling-ons for you non-Trekkies) to be allowed inside, she would be grateful for the upgrade. Instead she freaks out.
Usually I can just let her outside and that way she feels safe from the bath monster. This morning, Drew was working on the house, prepping it for the big painting job, and had all the fence gates open, so outside was out. This makes her even more nervous, because she figures that that means its bath-time for sure and goes sprinting down the basement stairs. Whatever. A momentary freak-out once a day is better than the former continually freaked bundle of nerves that she used to be. I'll take that.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
And one mean competitor can spoil the day for a hundred happy-go-lucky competitors. In fact, it can spoil more then a day, because a mean loser can simmer for days, and then lash out at relatively innocent bystanders.
Does this sound like you? Then knock it off.
Does it sound like someone you know? Then tell them to take up coin collecting.
Today's Band Names:
Monday, August 01, 2005
Having kids is like doubling the amount of your own skin, only you have no control over how much of it gets scraped off; doubling the number of your bones, without the ability to keep them whole; doubling your own car on the road, without being able to keep the drunks and road ragers off of them, or even know where that other car is.
The worst part is seeing that skin get scraped off, seeing that heart get thumped, seeing those bones break, I can't even imagine the worse things and won't try.
The good parts are great, I just can't recall them right now, because I'm in one of those moods. I think I'm coming down with something. So best not to come too close. And you're excused from reading this downer.
So here's a joke instead, courtesy of the Car Talk guys:
Seems a guy (lets call him Drew) goes to see a new dentist. While he waits, he checks out the obligatory diplomas on the wall and notices that the dentist graduated college about 25 years ago, about the same time he did. And come to think of it, his name did sound familiar; in fact Drew went to high school with a guy with that same name. But once he meets the dentist, he realizes that this guy is way too old to be the same age - he is balding, has a gut, and look at the wrinkles in his face! But hey, just to be sure he asks the dentist where he went to school. The dentist says Vernonia High School. So Drew says, "I think you were in my class." So the dentist says, "Really? What class did you teach?"
Ha-ha! We feel better already!
Monday, July 25, 2005
I'm sure it doesn't hold a candle to the facials, manicures, Nordstrom shopping adventures, and elective surgery required for some persons, but it adds up, I suppose. Well, now, after that last sentence, it seems puny, and actually ruins my whole premise for a post, but I'll just keep going, like a dork, like nothing has happened...
For instance, the closest Michael's store is probably four miles away, right across the river at the Jantzen Beach humongo-mall. It's brand new, and since it is in big-box land, it's probably three times as big as the one I go to. And the bonus is that, since it is across the river, it is in the mythical tax-free land of Oregon, saving me about 8% of everything non-food that I buy.
The Michael's that I am required to go to is about ten miles away (add gas), on this side of the river (add 8% tax) and smallish (add, well, less selection?). But it's right next to the PetSmart that I'm required to go to, so there's that.
Required? Well, for all intents and purposes, yes. This is the shyness tax. Shy people tend to develop routines that feel comfortable to them.
Developing the routines themselves takes enough out of you, believe me. Taking that first adventure out into the unknown that is Vancouver is scary enough. Now that I know that there is a good chance that nothing terrible will happen to me if I go to the Michael's store off SR 500, I will keep going there until something terrible happens to me there. Then the ordeal begins anew. Believe me when I tell you that it is best, blood-pressure-wise, to avoid ordeals.
This same tax requires me to plan my gas tank fillings around my husband's and/or my son's schedules. If I am low on gas, I make sure that they need to use my car for something, and oh, would you mind filling it up while you're at it? No, they don't buy that line, but they are sweet enough to oblige my gas-filling-phobia. If I ever find myself with an empty gas tank and no support system, then I head for the river. Because in the mystical, tax-free land of Oregon, it is illegal (but not tax free - they're not idiots) to pump your own gas. Hence, at least some (although not all) of the anxiety is avoided.
Oh, yeah, and I paid a $74-a-month tax this last year by signing up for a gym membership and then deciding that it was just too icky to work out in front of other people. I'm not sure what the difference is between spending an hour on the elliptical machine with a bunch of strangers and spending an hour running by these same strangers' houses, but it's different. Plus, I am not required to stare at the Fox News Channel for an hour this way (I know that doesn't seem shyness related, but come on! Is it fair? I certainly can't ask them to turn the channel, now, can I?).
And don't forget, if it requires a phone call, I would rather pay the difference, whatever it is. So next time you pick up a phone, or a gas nozzle, thank yourself for being so fearless and stout-hearted. Because we're not all that lucky.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Yay! Empty Nest! Party in the playroom! Clothing Optional! Line up for the Conga!
But...who will dance for me? Who will walk around the house on oak tree trunks for legs from all the bike racing and a waist measurement that Scarlet O'Hara would die for? (See sample picture of the tree trunks in a Red Cyclocross Riding Hood Get-up, Annie and the scariest thing I could think of to carve last Halloween. For enough cash, I will post the rest of the picture...)
Yet again, who will make the basement smell like dirty socks? Who will always, always, forget his towel in his room and "borrow" one of ours?
But who will hook me up with new sweet tunes from NY, NZ, PDX and LA? Who will climb up the garrett stairs to give me an honest (and always admiring) evaluation of my latest painting?
Then again, who will eat everything in the fridge before I can get home from work to cook it into dinner? Who will leave dishes in his room until they grow new civilizations?
But who will make the cat purr by whirling her, ceiling-fan-like, across the kitchen table? Who will make the dog so excited she forgets that she's the girl (if you get my drift), and, oh yeah, she's spayed?
Who will clutter up the garage with bikes, bike parts, and tools that he "forgot" to put away? And who can we get to pressure-wash and de-con his room so that we can re-colonize it?
But then who will make MST3K-like wisecracks during movie time? Who will give me a crazy smile and know that that will be enough to make me smile, if not guffaw (depending on the state of his hair and/or Goodwill-flavored outfit)?
And who will dance for me?
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
You know what bugs me? Since my newspaper refuses to carry my favorite comic strip, I have to read it online, and then I end up reading it in reverse order because I can't remember where I left off last time I had enough time to surf over there, and then all the serial jokes are completely dulled into near-unfunnyness (what is Agnes doing hanging by her swimsuit from the end of a diving board? How did that little scamp get out there? etc.) You try. http://www.comics.com/creators/agnes/index.html (Did you notice that this is a visual issue? Then extra points for you!) I will now try a verbal-issue entry:
You know what else bugs me? I love to read good books. I don't like to read bad books. But do you have any idea what the ratio of bad books to good books is out there? Me either, but I know it's high! So I end up wasting a lot of time reading bad books, hoping that it will turn out to be a good book before I get to the end. What? You say just quit reading it when you realize it is bad? Yes, but what if I just got a bad impression at first? What if the book is good and I'm just a bad reader? Besides, my mom always told me to finish what I start. I am getting better at putting a book down when I realize I am not enjoying myself, but it takes some getting used to. Especially for someone who ends up taking most of the blame for the book-completion failure.
Band names for today:
The Levi Leipheimer Experiment
The Floyd and Agnes Show
Tour de Frank
That's all I got.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
I don't even know where to begin with this concept. Have we come to the point where we are so far removed from our friends and our family that we have to pay someone to tell us what we should do? Or has life become so complicated that our friends and/or family are useless in helping us make sense of our lives and careers? I mean, how much can Old Dad tell you about the future opportunities waiting in the field of semiconductor vacuuming? Maybe tomorrow they will invent a replacement for the semiconductor vacuum - maybe a semiconductor wet-vac - or maybe they will invent a replacement for the semiconductor. Maybe they already have and I'm just too hopelessly doinky to know yet.
I know somebody who could use some life coaching. I wish I could help him, but I have just recently figured out my own life. (I think. Ask me again next week.) For what it's worth, here's my career advice:
Oprah says follow your passion. This is very good advice. However, I must caution you that it's not enough to be passionately interested in something, or to passionately want something. You must passionately like all the crap it takes to get it. Some cases in point:
I majored in psychology in college, expecting to become the next Bob Newhart (does that date me? so be it). I was passionate about psychology. I still am. What the hell makes us tick? Why does the squishy grey goo in our heads make us write poems and limited liability company agreements, make fondue, pray to God, and wear polyester leisure suits? Yet for all the curiosity I have in my own head about psychology, I was not able to talk to strangers - especially disturbed strangers - about their problems. That is too scary for A Very Small Animal such as myself. The passion did not get me through the practice.
I spent the better part of two years in nursing school. I was passionate about nursing. I still am passionate about medicine for the same reason I was passionate about psychology. What make us go? Why do some peoples' pancreases just give up the ghost one day and say "f**k it, I'm done. Find another way to get insulin. I'm pooped"? Why does my heart just keep beating, when my leg muscles get so tired after a couple of hours? How does my thumb know to replace the thumb part I cut off with more thumb cells instead of eyeball cells? ...where was I? Oh yeah, nursing. Turns out that nurses have to attend to really sick and really, really grumpy people all day. And if they make a mistake, it's curtains for the patient and lawyerland for the nurse. It freaked me out and I changed my mind about nursing. The passion did not get me through the practice.
Now, I have a job that I like. No passion, but I like it and I'm good at it. What I'm passionate about is what I do between work days: painting. And I can use everything else I'm passionate about in my art. What turns up in my paintings is rather telling - animals I like, places I remember, people that inspire me: bears, bunnies, beaches, dogs, and Dean. This passion may not get me anywhere other than surrounded by a lot of pictures, but it doesn't matter, because I love doing it. It's challenging - horrifying when things go wrong and thrilling when things go right.
The fortunate few are the ones that have found a way to make a living from something they love to do. Like Drew. He comes home from the fire station every morning with a good story, and leaves every workday hoping to score a trifecta: fire, trauma and death (well, you can't be a fire fighter without a rather dark sense of humor, now, can you?). Of course, he gripes, but it's the griping of someone who cares about doing it right, and doing right. Lucky.
The key to passion is not the end result but the day-to-day fun of it. If you are reaching for something you are passionate about, but the road to your goal is filled with stuff that you cannot make yourself get out of bed to do, then you need to re-think your goal.
If, however, you are working towards a goal, whether glamorous and lucrative or totally not, and yet you would gladly spend your day this way anyway, whether you reach your goal or not, then you are on the right road.
And please remember this: You Get What You Pay For. I say this not as a consumer, but as someone who has benefited only from her own efforts. The more I work, the better the result. See? The more I pay out, the more I get in return. Be generous with your effort and your time - not just to others, but to yourself - and you will be repaid in kind.
There. That should do it. I believe I'm empty of life coaching advice. Unless the price is right. Call me for a quote.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Maybe it's thinking Southpark thoughts so much, maybe it's just me (okay, it's probably just me), but this black eye thing has also made me consider seriously for the first time in my life going to one of those Glamour Shots-type photo studios where they doll you up in big hair, heavy make-up, and red carpet-type clothes and take mantel-worthy photographs designed to make every woman look like a trailer park hotty. However, I want to go now, while at my most colorful, eyewise, and tell them to do my hair, throw all the pearls and feather boas they got at me, but don't touch the face. Let the rainbow beauty of my black eye show through. Wouldn't that be awesome?
That's what I was thinking.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Nevertheless, I came out of my doctor's office on Wednesday with a beaut of a shiner developing under my left eye. Now, two days later, the swelling is subsiding, but the colors are just beginning to get interesting. It travels from the outside of my left upper cheek, tiptoes around the two stitches there, and spreads itself liberally over my lower eye-bag area using a palette of yellow, indigo and red, and ends in a purple exclamation point in the corner of my eye.
It started as all my visits to the dermatologist start - with the doctor zeroing in on some bitty mole or another and pronouncing it too suspicious to allow any further leisure time on my body, and calling for the mole removal tools to be brought from the dungeon designed just for such purposes.
It's been like this since, in a surprise case of beauty mark-turns-evil, my family doctor removed a mole on my arm (what - you don't have beauty marks on your arms?) that turned out to be deadly melanoma disguised as a friendly mole. This was when I was eighteen, and ever since, it's been, "Oh, no, doctor, I haven't been out in the sun without sunscreen. Why, with my history, that would be foolish. What, these freckles? I had these already. Yeah." And every time I go to the dermatologist for a melanoma safari, they find something to remove. I've had so many moles removed, I've lost count. Some have left scars, some haven't. I just assume that dermatologists are like zombies, only they prefer to dine on skin rather than brains. I go in every year and donate skin, like some people give blood. I guess it's for a good cause. I'd hate all the dermatologists to perish from hunger.
But I digress.
The tiny, yet suspiciously self-satisfied-looking mole on my face right where a beauty mark should be - right under the left eye, Marilyn-style - attracted her attention from the start. Yes, it was tiny, and if, in somebody's cruel mind, they may be correlating the tiny-ness of the beauty mark with the tiny-ness of the beauty in the face in question, then they would be breaking the rules of fear-the-telephone land and would be banished, and then we can continue our conversation in peace.
The tiny, yet suspiciously self-blah, blah, blah, anyway, she put that Worried Dermatologist look on her face and told me that I had two choices, either she could take it out now and get it biopsied while it was small and would leave a teeny-weeny scar, or we could wait and watch it grow, and then whack it off later when she would need a ladder, a chain saw and some staples for after.
Since she put it that way, I chose option one. Now the punchline: turns out that it wasn't an evil mole after all, but a blood vessel posing as a mole! Ha, ha! Those crazy blood vessels! As soon as she drilled into my face, it was like she hit a gusher, and then it was like, "you don't have any bleeding disorders or clotting difficulties, do you?" Well, I thought, isn't it a little late to be asking? And how clod-brained would I be if, I knew I had a bleeding problem, not to say something up front when you started talking about mole-drilling?
Yep, turns out no bleeding problem, just a broken main problem. It takes longer to clot when you hit the mother lode. I get my stitches out on Tuesday. Although it's felt a little, oh, uncomfortably conspicuous, walking around with a huge, galloping black eye, I kind of hope it's still rainbow-colored on Tuesday, just so she feels a little twinge of guilt. I'm assuming dermatologists have guilt. I don't know for sure.
Monday, June 20, 2005
What you need to know about velodrome cycling is that it should be bigger than the NBA. It's way more exciting, has more crashes than Nascar, has the same wicked rivalries as professional wrestling, has better bodies than baseball (better everything than baseball), and is faster than crap. It's kind of like roller derby, but with bikes with one speed and no brakes, on a track with banked sides that a bike cannot stay upright on unless in motion.
I have become familiar with velodrome cycling, not by the usual means, which, I guess, would be watching the thirty seconds of coverage lovingly allotted it every four years by the wizards of Olympics television broadcasting, but through the actions of my son, who, as a bicycle racer, found himself more comfortable on the velodrome track than on roads (which tend to point up at uncomfortable angles much too often, and require one to climb up them, something he does not enjoy - no Lance Armstrong, he).
Crashes are spectacular on the track (let's quit calling it a velodrome now - it's hard to type and seems rather starchy, considering that everyone involved with the sport says "track" unless speaking to the uninformed). Racers are invariably going way fast, and crashes invariably happen on the steepest point of the bank, which allows for not only the crash, but the fall off the embankment, and the swerving and crashing of those behind the crashee. Even simple mechanical failures can be spectacular, as there are no brakes in which to stop a berserk bike. You can only hope for a skilled rider, who can take it in for a soft landing in the infield grass. When mechanical failures aren't spectacularly crashy, they are spectacular in some form or other - take the time I saw the enormous, Thor-like power of a sprinter's thighs snap the seat post and seat off his bike in the middle of a sprint race - and finish the race! That's skill for you. Mixed with a little fear of sitting down onto the splintered carbon fiber remains of a seat post with sensitive anatomy parts.
Now that I've set the scene, imagine that these crash-prone kamikaze types invent a form of tag-team racing in which one member of the team is actively racing while one member is taking it easy for a few laps and catching his/her breath. Then after a few laps, he positions himself right in the middle of the thunderous racing herd with one hand placed casually on his back. His team member then grabs this hand and uses the kinetic energy he has gained by racing like a demon with Tourette's Syndrome to fling the rested racer into the race in his place. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Not just with this one team, but with all the other teams (ten is a good number) on the track. There's racing. There's flinging. There's racers slowing down, there's racer being launched. All together. It's chaos. But this is where the angels come in: usually nobody dies. It is truly a sight you must not leave the earth without experiencing.
This is the Madison. It is named after Madison Square Garden, where it was conceived, long ago when track racing in America was as big and popular as the Garden. It's hard to imagine that a sport once so beloved could fall practically into oblivion. It's especially amazing that it has happened to this sport. It's everything Americans love: speed, cutthroat tactics, crashing, thus bloodshed, and drama. What's not to love? Europeans love it - they call it The American Race, since it was born here. And here in its birthplace, it is practically disowned. Criminal.
Here in the Portland area, the racers use a track that exists only by the grace of an amazing local dairy that lends out its suburban acres as a park for the community. There are baseball fields, a bmx track, picnic tables and lots of other stuff. It's a bit of community philanthropy that you just don't see much of anymore. Oh, I'm sure it helps ice cream sales, but who else would devote 57 acres of prime suburban hill space to fun? Here's to Alpenrose Dairy. If you want to see the track where Portlanders come to try not to crash, go here: http://www.alpenrose.com/velo.htm
There's a new track in LA. There's one in San Diego and one in the Bay Area. There's one in Redmond, north of Seattle, (it's kind of big, so there's not much bank to it - takes some of the yikes out of it). There's the big daddy in Trexlertown, PA. If there is one near you, check it out. The athletes are either unpaid or underpaid, so you won't have to pay much to get in (if anything), and they won't make you feel like a peon (like ____ fill in your least favorite professional athlete here). You won't be disappointed and you won't be bored.
And if you see my son there, pray for him. I have a feeling his angel is overworked.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Simone was a very hairy cat. She was so hairy we had to vacuum at least every two hours, sometimes more often in the spring. Once, we vacuumed too close to Larry the Chihuahua and lost him in the vacuum bag. When we pulled him out, he was covered with so much cat hair that he looked like a small, unkempt version of Simone. We call him Simonette for the rest of the day, which really pissed him off.
Now, a fancy business letter for your sales use:
Supah Cool Industries
100 Main St.
Vancouver, WA 98660
We are letting you in on the beginning of a new era in widgets! We are jumping up and down with excitement and guzzling champagne as we announce the premiere of our new, improved widget! This new widget will revolutionize the way you order, produce and sell your product, live your life, and communicate with your dog.
Our new, patented Purple Widget will increase your production efficiency by 120%, help you lose weight, and give your customers a new way to view your product – through a relaxing, purple haze.
And now, for the best part! If you order today, we are ready to give you a special, one-time only, 15% discount on your first order over 100 units. Hurry, Harvey, because this offer is only good for 30 days from the date of this offer.
We believe that this product is so superior that you will want to start with twice your normal unit order, as your sales will inevitably skyrocket as a result of the Purple Widget.
Please call us today to place your order.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
I don't know why, I just find myself tuning it in, especially if there is no one else around to give me a hard time about it. I like watching a dog come in who is obviously down to his last calorie, ribs all showing, backbone sticking out, and then seeing him later - sometimes no more than a couple weeks later, all fattened up and shiny-eyed and frisky. The thing that really pisses me off about those poor little starving ones is that when they pick up the "perp" to take him or her down to book 'em at the station, they are always fat. Doesn't that just piss you off? It does me.
On the animal cop shows, they are always booking people for failing to get their dog or cat or iguana the veterinary care that they require. Dogs are running around with big open sores on their leg, or big ol' tumors hanging off them, or so much matted hair that it's hard to tell where the face is, or cats are going blind from poor nutrition. They was always gonna. Or their vet told them that Blacky's just fine with that tumor hanging off her. It don't hurt her none.
Now all that booking of negligent pet owners has cost me big time, and I want Animal Planet to reimburse me in full. I've become so paranoid about the animal police showing up at my house that I've taken my cat to the vet so that he can tell me that she stubbed her toe on something (cha-ching: $90), and now I've taken my dog to the vet for full hip x-rays, just to find out that she is a lazy-ass (cha-ching: $240). At least her teeth are clean now, since I had them throw that in while she was out (yes, they have to knock her out for x-rays).
I was so sure that she was suffering from the same arthritis and hip dysplasia that our last collie had (and suffered in manly silence, I might add, except for an"oy vay" groan when lying down for the night). She was really slowing down when I took her for walks, and on some longer walks, she would sometimes just find a nice grassy spot and lay down, and look at me like, "well, you can join me if you wish." You can imagine that this made me wonder if everything was okay. She seemed to be acting like a 12-year-old in a 5-year-old body. $240 later, my vet tells me her hips look great, and there's probably nothing wrong that a little Doggy Slim Fast wouldn't cure (which she took offense to, naturally).
The next time I took her for a long walk, she decided to veer off into a nice patch of grass and take a snooze, leash and owner in running shoes still attached. But this time, the Animal Cops were off my back - I had the veterinarian's receipt in my wallet as proof. I told her to get the hell up and walk. So she did. No back talk. Turns out she just thought she had the right to plop down when she saw an inviting patch of grass. Turns out I just had to let her know that she didn't.
Was it worth $240 to find this out? I guess it had to cost $240 to be able to tell her to get the hell up without feeling like an abuser of a hip-dysplasia-broken-down dog. It's not me, it's her. She's the abuser here! And I have the receipt to prove it! So get off my back, Animal Planet, and give me my money back!
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Meat Bowling Club
I dare you to name your band Supah Cool.
Bad names for rock bands:
Future Has Beens
The Trouble with Janice
Smart Guys with Glasses
The name of the protagonist in my upcoming novel:
Orin "Orange" Dunlap (this stuff is copyrighted, right?)
My new favorite quote from a cartoon:
"This is the current world of the forever now!" (Agnes)
My favorite silly motel name:
The Alpine Chalets (At Otter Rock, Oregon, on the beach, virtually at sea level) - okay, they are pointy A-frames, but still, as far away from alpine as you can possibly get. I love to stay there. They have kitchens and lofts for the kids, and I can bring my dog. And it's fun to say, "Let's go to the beach and stay at the Alpine Chalets!"
Favorite recent newspaper headline:
"In Life and Death, the Gribbles Gather" This headline appeared in the Oregonian on May 31, 2005, over a story about a family that has their own cemetery.
And sorry about those haikus.
Monday, May 30, 2005
Drink up, Little Bird,
Little wee hummy creature;
you sparkle and dart.
Thoughts on a Sick Day Spent Watching "The Deadliest Catch" on the Discovery Channel
Ride real rolling hills
that fall on slippery decks;
risking life for cash
I Need a Better Book to Read
I can't concentrate;
I'll trade this book for TV.
I blame the author.
How the Playlist Saved My CD Collection
This CD has one;
Two of twelve are keepers here;
Ipod saves the day.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
You ring the doorbell, noticing that the paint on my little porch looks like it has seen better days. I come to the door and let you in (being the gracious host that I am).
At that moment, the telephone rings, and I must leave the room to take the call, since it is an unidentified friend or relation having some sort of freak-out attack.
Having nothing else to do while waiting for me to finish the "listen, rephrase, sympathize, suggest alternatives to suicide/homicide/Krispy Kreme run" therapy cycle, you take a look at the book shelves in my living room. This isn't really snooping - the books are right there for anyone to look at, but you still feel a little snoopy, stooping over to read the titles. It's okay. I'll give you a head start now. Of course, that will give you little to do during my therapy cycle, but maybe you will be able to find the remote, or the National Geographic on the end table will catch your eye.
- Dave Eggers' A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius. Maybe I run in rarefied circles, but isn't this book kind of like the Frampton Comes Alive of 2000? In other words, wasn't everyone pretty much required to buy a copy? In both cases, there is a reason why they appealed to us. They were a good time. Dave Eggers is funny, and can be heartbreaking, especially when he has the life experience to back it up.
- Christopher Moore's Fluke. There comes a time in your author-reader relationship when you are so sure of his work that you show up at readings and buy hardbacks just because you know it will be worth the extra money not to wait for the paperback or even longer for your name to come up on the library wait list. Christopher Moore is one of those writers for me. Although Fluke wasn't necessarily my favorite. I like The Island of the Sequined Love Nun and Coyote Blue. Yes, I like funny.
- A couple of John Irving books. Another author I buy in hardback now. Back when I was poor, I would buy paperbacks or borrow from the library. I wish I had a hardback copy of my favorite, A Prayer for Owen Meany. I destroyed my paperback copy from overuse. A masterpiece. I like Son of the Circus too.
- Several Chuck Palahniuk books (when they are not lost in the horror that is my son's room). I not only buy Chucky in hardback and go to see him speak (when I can get in - he's a little too adored here in the Portland area nowadays - understandably) and watch DVDs of bad documentaries made in homage of his appearances at a writing workshop. He writes like no one else - dark, violent, self-loathing characters being placed in dark, violent, I-loath-you-right-back sort of situations, all with a certain blythe, pixyish, mischievousness that I just eat up. In person, he is so jolly and warm, it is hard to blend the written with the writer. It's just enchanting and so awfully entertaining. And his current fascination with his ability to gross people out is also somehow childlike and endearing, yet not without a little hidden malice? What's more seductive than that?
- Mark Twain. I like all Mark Twain's stuff. I love his more autobiographical stuff. My favorites in order: First, Roughing It, about his trip out west in his younger days, riding in a stagecoach out to Nevada, testing out his writing chops at the Virginia City newspaper, and setting unintentional blazes (so he says) at Lake Tahoe. If you didn't think you could laugh out loud at a 130-year-old book, this one will change your mind. Second, The Innocents Abroad; about Mark Twain's trip to Europe with a bunch of fussy conservative Christian types (yes, they had them back then too). Funny and enlightening re: how things change, and how they stay the same. Third, A Tramp Abroad; his follow-up to The Innocents Abroad - more of the same.
- A. A Milne, The World of Pooh. I've had it since I was six. Why get rid of it now? It's a classic that never ages. At least it wouldn't have if Disney had kept its greedy rodent paws off of it.
- America, The Book (by Jon Stewart and the Daily Show gang). Amusing enough for a while. Don't buy it, I'll lend you mine.
- Edgar Allen Poe. Like every other teenager who felt misunderstood, I was a huge Edgar Allen Poe fan. I still pick it up every once in a while, because the guy could write.
- JFK, Profiles in Courage. It's JFK so it's got to be good. I'll read it eventually.
- Gregory McDonald. He came to town last year to promote another in his Flynn series. I frankly didn't know he was still writing so I went to see him, and since I was one of about 15 there, I felt obligated to buy his new book. Mr. McDonald is a very good mystery writer (less so since he put his very good and very funny Fletch series to bed), but turns out he's a rather self-aggrandizing speaker.
- John Steinbeck. Grapes of Wrath. Love Steinbeck. Love every Steinbeck work. He is the best American writer. I love East of Eden. I love, love Cannery Row. I love, love, love Tortilla Flat. Read Steinbeck.
- Pearl S. Buck. The Good Earth. Good book. Left me with some much needed perspective. I believe highly in gaining perspective through the reading of superior books like this. And very readable, even though it is about a culture we don't really get.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby. I bought this in hardback because I was thinking that if it was as great and life-changing as everyone said, I would want it on my shelf to re-read. I may re-read again, but only to find out what the big whoop is that I missed the first time. Some classics just seem to pass over my head. I will admit that.
- Gunter Grass. The Tin Drum. I bought this around the time that Grass (finally, he says) won a Nobel prize. It was pretty freaky. Definitely dense with symbolism. Very surreal. I don't think I really understood it (not being from Germany where the collective guilt must be intense and the history would be more immediate and local), but I understood the impact that it must have had. Worth the trouble.
- Herman Melville. Moby Dick. Another one that I bought because of the testimonials about how Melville is the bomb. Sorry, the prose is a little too purple for my short attention span. How long can you talk about whale whiteness, anyway?
- David Sedaris. Me Talk Pretty Some Day. I love David Sedaris. In this era of cable TV coming out your ears, I bet you could write an episode of CSI or Still Standing in your sleep, but you could not replicate a Sedaris story. You can never really guess what Sedaris's next sentence will be. He can surprise me and make me laugh every time. I like his books, but his books on Audible for my Ipod are even better because his delivery is hilarious. Another best bet for your Ipod: Sarah Vowell, another This American Life (NPR) regular. Very funny, but with a sincere side that is charming and occasionally educational.
- Fire Engines in North America. Coffee table book given to my husband because, well, he's a fire fighter, I guess. (Note to relatives of fire fighters: volunteer fire fighters love this stuff. However, very few career fire fighters are fire engine history buffs).
- The Picture History of Painting. Garage sale coffee table book given to me by a dear friend. It's fun to pull out every once in a while, but the color plates are sometimes off a little.
There you have it. If I'm not back from my telephone call, make yourself at home with one of these books. I'll be right there.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
It's dirt! I've been in my back yard, turning over sod. Sound fun? You bet!
It's funny what age will do. If you told me 20 years ago that I would spend the better part of two days making perfectly good grass into about 150 new square feet of tabula rasa dirt by hand, I would have told you that you got the wrong chick. I'm sure that would have been accompanied by something about time is money, and my time is more expensive than that, or something about how I'm ever so petite and unfit for big shovel work (including batting of eyelashes) or just a lot of whining and procrastination.
What changed? I'm not sure where the idea of manual labor, or just menial labor, lost its disgust factor for me.
Maybe it has to do with my discovery of books for my ipod, or good programming on the local NPR radio station. That might help, but it's not the whole answer, because music works just as well as a good story.
Maybe it has to do with spending hours out on the road, walking and running. Twenty years ago, I thought about fitness in terms of minutes, not hours. That sure has changed. Maybe that has helped lengthen my patience span a little.
Maybe it has to do with painting as a hobby. The main thing I have learned over the years is that if there is a short cut to finishing your painting, DON'T TAKE IT. It will only ruin what you've done so far. Painting is a game of patience. If you just want a final product, take up another hobby. Like collecting troll dolls.
Maybe it has to do with my Theory of Constructive Fitness. If something takes manual labor, it's like a second workout, which automatically qualifies me for more chocolate. What's not to like about that? I call it a Constructive Workout(tm). You not only burn calories, you have something besides smelly clothes to show for it.
What I do know is that I don't gauge the worthiness of a task by how quickly and easily it can be accomplished anymore. I'm not sure if this is something that can be taught, or just comes as a bonus gift with wrinkles.
And no, I won't come to your house and turn over your sod.
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Here's one of my favorite low points:
I'm 22, pregnant, living in Austin, Texas, in what used to be an addition to an old single-wide trailer, now long rusted away, barely making it from one of my husband's Air Force beginner pay checks to the next. This so soon after graduating cum laude from the University of Oregon, the former goal of graduate school fading, partly through my partnership with an Air Force Airman who didn't get to decide where he might live, but mostly through my own ambivalence to the final product - a PhD in psychology that I wasn't sure I wanted.
We had just moved into The Cottage (my euphemistic word for our rental "house") after the last affordable apartments in town went "condo." When the gas company came to do their pre-service check before turning on the gas, they "red flagged" the water heater, meaning that it was too old and decrepit to use safely. So until the old couple that rented The Cottage to us could replace the water heater, we lived there without hot water. This was less of a hardship than it might have been since it was summer, and the temperature and humidity were both over 90, and The Cottage had no air conditioning. We merely changed our shower time to the afternoon when we could do nothing other than stand under the cold water for relief.
Oregonians have long been called webfoots for a reason; the main weather system out here is rain. When forecasters say there will be a ten percent chance of showers, they really mean there is a one hundred percent surety of rain - they just want to give us a little hope. We are used to weather that requires our regional dress code: flannel, wool, and gortex. We are not used to day after day of 95 degrees with 90 percent humidity.
I was unable to move in the heavy, hot air. It was like a really uncomfortably hot extra gravity blanket. That is, until the tornado watches started. That got my heart moving like nothing else. I can still recall the tones we would hear on the TV as the Tornado warning would scroll across the bottom of the screen. For an Oregonian, this was like waiting for death to come - it was like seeing a crawl at the bottom of your TV that said, "Death is roaming the area southwest of Austin, moving in an easterly direction. Take precautions." Our Cottage was a square, cut into four squares with a small square in the middle that was our bathroom (no kidding - architects, take note), so during the closer tornado warnings, I would huddle in the bathroom, since it had no windows to blow in and stab me to death, although unsafe from the fact that The Cottage had, at one time, been associated with a trailer - that trailer scent that tornadoes are particularly drawn to - and could have chosen to squash the flimsy structure with a huff and a puff.
Where were we? Oh, yes, I was 22, pregnant, wearing one of two ugly maternity frocks (whichever one was not dirty), and scratching for change in the mattress cushions of the couch that we were buying on credit at usurious rates from the weasely furniture dealer who preyed on underpaid Airmen strapped for cash, and hoping I didn't pull out one of those big Texas cockroaches instead. I still shudder when I think of watching those cockroaches scuttle under the kitchen cabinets.
This day, I was feeling particularly pregnant and depressed (I can't imagine why), so I had taken money I couldn't afford to waste and bought a pack of those special School Boy (or something) cookies. They are those little rectangles of shortbread with a rectangle, just as thick as the shortbread, of pure milk chocolate on top. Oh, perfection.
I can remember sitting on the bed in my red plaid maternity frock, eating my first cookie out of the package and feeling a little better about the sticky, hot day, noticing the wind pick up a little bit in the landlord's cow pasture outside, and then opening the package a little more to get to the next cookie, and seeing movement inside the package, then looking a little closer, and realizing that the whole package is actually infested with tiny moth-like insects.
I cried and cried. Drew was sympathetic, but a little puzzled that a spoiled package of cookies could send me into such a fit of despair. But of course, it wasn't the cookies. It was everything. The Cottage. The hot water heater. The tornado of doom. The cockroaches. The heat. The humidity. The distance between me and my family. The fear that I would be a terrible mother. The fear that I would never amount to anything now that I was jobless, PhD-less, pregnant, and so damn afraid.
I guess this is where I say that I may have not amounted to much, but I'm no longer afraid, but that's not really true. I'm still afraid of lots of things. But at least I'm not afraid that I won't amount to much. I'm not much, but it's enough. My baby grew up without too much emotional scarring, and for the most part, outside of Texas.
So if you're at a low point, try to remember that it's a low point. And there's nowhere to go but up.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Remember when Dennis Miller was funny? And seemed to have read - and actually retained - the same books you were forced to read in college?
He seems to be not only less witty and literate, but actually seems to be dodging actual facts - a true sign of a member of what has been cleverly termed the "neo-con death cult."
He says he "saw the light" after being in New York during 9/11, and felt that it was all important to put his faith behind the president's crusade - oops - I mean "war against terror." That's cool. Except now he seems to see the light on the president's war on Social Security - oops - I mean Social Security privatization plan, and the president's war on the United Nations - oops - I mean his nomination of John Bolton, and his war on Democrats - oops - no, I guess that's the right term.
I don't think the far-right wing is technically advanced enough to produce pod people. And they don't believe in using stem cells, so the evil clone idea is out. I guess I'm going to have to go with brain washing.
The question we have to ask ourselves is twofold: does brain washing cause enough brain damage to account for the obviously huge drop in IQ (come on, doesn't anyone remember those awesome Monday Night Football freak shows when Al Michaels and Dan Fouts couldn't follow one Dennis Miller sentence to its conclusion without their eyes wandering back to the game in a desperate search for something they could grasp? I loved that!), and two, does anyone remember him dropping out of sight long enough for the brain washing to have taken such a wildly obvious effect? Or can they do that by sneaking into your bedroom at night and wispering in your ear? Or replacing your Special K with Special W?
I don't know. It's just a thought. And I have really lost my appetite for the whole subject since the cancellation thing. Hate to kick a fella when he's down. I guess that's just the Democrat in me.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
The reason I bring it up is because today her eyesight problem seemed to progress beyond the mere unseen into the realm of the imagined. This produced a much more animated walking partner (lately I've been doing a lot more leading and less following), but also a much more unpredictable one. I record our walking conversation as going something like this (mind you, memory being what it is, I have paraphrased some):
Annie: Hey look! Circus elephants and little dancing poodles! And a unicyclist! Ha Ha! Let's follow!
Me: That's a small white pickup. Sorry.
Annie: What's this! A spilled ice cream cone? My lucky day!
Me: That's bird poop. Don't lick it.
Annie: Hey look! A friendly man! Watch this, I'm going to pull on my leash until he extends a hand to me then I'm going to recoil in fright! Ha! Gets 'em every time.
Me: That's a scare crow.
Annie: (Whines). Scare crows are wily, wily creatures. Look at the way he's looking at me. Well, you may have won this time, Scare Crow Man, but your day will come! Oh, yes, your day will come, and I will be there to laugh heartily! (Annie is notorious for her over-use of the exclamation mark.)
Annie: Hey! What's that?
Me: A weed.
Annie: It smells funny. Hey! What's that?
Me: A weed.
Annie: It smells funny. Hey! What's that?
Me: A bush.
Annie: Are you sure it didn't move?
Me: Only the part that you hit with your nose.
Annie: It smells funny. Hey! Something's biting me in the but!
Me: That's your hip. You seem to be having some arthritis pain. Let's get you home.
Annie: Okay, but that arthritis guy better not come any closer.
Me: That's a garden gnome.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
This is not the dilemma that it may seem on the surface. My son is 20. He comes and goes as he pleases (within reason). However, it is garbage night: the one task he has been given as a member of the household, other than cleaning up after himself and keeping his room in, if not clean, at least a vermin-free state.
My dilemma is: should I take the garbage out myself, thus sparing myself the worry of whether he will come home, see my note, and take the garbage out before he drags himself to bed, or should I put the garbage out and sleep soundly, however relieving him once again of the one shred of responsibility we have left his sorry, 20-year-old, carefree, careless, oblivious self?
You know, he's 20. He's not going to learn much more from me. His next learning curve is going to have to wait until he gets a place of his own, with all that entails: rent, electric bill, water bill, food expenses, gas, insurance, and his own garbage day. He won't learn anything from my overfilled garbage can. That lesson will come with its own distinct aroma on his first missed garbage day.
If you need me, I'll be schlepping the recycling out to the curb.