Tuesday, December 28, 2004


I'm in Ohio, having fought the aftermath of a major blizzard. It took us 25 hours to get here. Ugh!

Anyway, I'll be back in the New Year. Happy holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 20, 2004

A big functionless tub of clammy waterlogged jeans and t-shirts

The bad news is, our clothes washer has died just two and a half days before we are scheduled to take a major road trip.

The good news is twofold. First, the washer is under warranty. Second, Tuesday happens to be the one day of the week when Sears repairpeople visit our county.

Oh, wait. There's more bad news. I have to get up at a respectable hour and be dressed because we don't know exactly when the repairman will show up.

Sunday, December 19, 2004


Thursday our entire little family will be piling into the car for a holiday trip. Taxi will be dropped off in Rome, Georgia, at the home of the s.o.'s father. The other two furry kids are riding all the way to northeastern Ohio.

This presents a challenge for Cairo the Carsick Dog. We've been trying to work him up to it. A week ago, we took him and his sister to a potluck dinner party about a half-hour away, and Cairo made it all the way to the driveway without throwing up. But unfortunately, the driveway was unpaved, long, and extremely bumpy, and the s.o. had to hold a bucket for Cairo to puke in.

On the bright side, Cairo did make it the whole way home with only a little uneasy drooling.

While we were at the party, a fellow dog lover (whose coyote mix, Scooby, was in attendance) recommended we buy a canine herbal supplement called Happy Traveler for our slightly nauseated passenger. She said Scooby had used it, that it would help calm Cairo down, and that it might even be beneficial for Silver (who tends to be a little excitable and nervous when she's around certain other dogs). The very next day I shelled out the eleven bucks and brought a bottle of it home. But then I started to look askance at it. What kind of mother gives her child an unknown substance?

The s.o., who is familiar with herbs from his hippie college days, was unfazed. "Valerian, chamomile, kava kava, St. John's wort," he read off the bottle. "Yep. That'll sit you down."

I wasn't comforted yet, so I did some internet research and found out that not only are the herbs in the mixture supposed to be fine for dogs, but they were actually tested on dogs for use in humans. I hadn't thought of that. There was no record of toxicity for amounts anywhere near what was in the capsules. I felt a little better.

But in the end, there was only one thing to do. I shook out two of the capsules* into my palm. And then I gulped them down with plenty of water.

In about half an hour to 40 minutes, the capsules began to take effect. I don't remember much after that. My mind stayed relatively clear, but a warm, tingly torpor overtook me. It was a challenge to find the ambition to brush my teeth, wash my face, and put on my pajamas. Once I was under the covers, I didn't fall asleep right away, but I didn't want to move, either. Nothing mattered. Everything was good. When I eventually fell asleep, I slept like a baby.

I vote Yes for Happy Traveler.


* Two capsules was the suggested dose for a dog Cairo's size, and also, coincidentally, the suggested dose for a person my size.** With all the medicines I've run across that can be used in both species, the dog dosages don't tend to be directly proportional according to weight, but are actually a little closer than you would expect to the recommended dosages for people. I don't know why this is, but it is.

** Not that Happy Traveler is packaged for use in humans.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Um...thank you

Cairo has just presented me with what I am pretty sure is a possum jawbone.


The grocery bagging girl seemed unusually intent upon helping me to my car with the groceries.

"It's okay, I'll..." I began.

"No, that's fine."

"It's all right, I'll just..."

"No, I'll take them for you."


"That's fine, I'll take them for you."

She had a death grip on the handle of the grocery cart.

I relented. "You must really want to go outside, huh?"

She pushed the cart through the automatic doors, and I directed her to the right.

"Hooooo-ee, I have had some kind of strange day today!" she exclaimed.

"How do you mean?"

"Are you sure you really want to know?"

Here is the point where I could have made my escape, I think. But I was polite as usual. "Yeah, what's been strange about it?" I asked.

"I'm not saying I have premonitions," she began. "Because I don't believe in premonitions. But a month ago, I had this dream." I opened my car trunk, and she helped me load the groceries in.

"I dreamed my brother's girlfriend was pregnant. And then today I find out she's two months pregnant and she didn't know it! They say, 'It's just a coincidence.' But I tell you what, in seven months they are going to know I'm right. Because in my dream it was a little baby girl, and she had a full head of hair, and she looked just like my brother except her skin was darker than his."

"Maybe you smelled the hormones on her," I offered weakly. We were standing at the back of my car. A cold wind blew.

"In this same dream, I dreamed my best friend's mama was very sick. And what scares me is, in my dream she died. And I couldn't think of anything to say to her except 'There is no way I can know how you feel right now.' So I hope I'm not having premonitions. I hope I'm not right. And then the other thing is, in my dream I was pregnant! And my boyfriend wasn't with me at the time, but then he came back and he helped me with the baby boy."

Silver's furry snout appeared in the back window of the car. She blinked at us quizzically. The girl spotted her and waved.

"So I don't know what to think, because I've been throwing up in the mornings, especially when I see my boyfriend. We broke up, but if my dream is right, he'll be back with me three months after the baby is born."

I tried to get into the spirit of the story. "Huh...I think you might be pregnant," I said with a mixture of joviality and warning. She continued as though she hadn't heard me.

"I almost hope I am pregnant, because you know that's the greatest gift God can ever give you. Everyone says this is all just a coincidence, but I know in seven months they are going to start seeing that I am right. She was already pregnant a month when I had that dream, and she didn't even know it. She didn't believe me when I told her. When that baby girl is born, they'll know..."

"I--" I wasn't sure what to say. What I was thinking was, I hope this psychokinetic pregnancy business isn't contagious. Silver looked out at me forlornly.

"But what I wonder is if I am right about me. It'll be a little boy. I've been throwing up a lot of mornings, especially when I see my boyfriend."

My car door seemed to be a thousand miles away.

"But next time you come, you talk to me, and you'll see."

And as suddenly as she had introduced herself into my afternoon, she excused herself from it.

Friday, December 17, 2004

How does it happen?

Every year around this time, I find that:

(1) I still need to buy Christmas presents for some of my closest and most beloved relatives.

(2) I am desperately trying to contact people I want to interview before the holidays, hoping against hope that they haven't already left on their vacations. (Will I ever learn? How have I managed to be a freelance writer for so long without learning?)

(3) My body still hasn't adjusted to the cold weather, and boy will I ever be in for it when we drive up to Ohio.

(4) I have no energy and I can't seem to wake up in the morning. Someone tell the sun that I NEED LIGHT! Arrrrgghhhh...

(5) I am preparing to cook some ridiculous complicated holiday foodstuff that I have never cooked before. (This year it's H.F.-W.'s "three-dishes-from-one-goose" extravaganza.)

(6) I have "Sleigh Ride" running through my head on infinite hellish repeat. We used to play it in high school band, so I know every single instrument's part down to the smallest detail.

Let's take the road before us and sing a chorus or two...

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

By definition

Slug (n.)

1. Any of various small, snaillike, chiefly terrestrial gastropod mollusks of the genus Limax and related genera, having a slow-moving elongated body with no shell or only a flat rudimentary shell on or under the skin.

2. A small metal disk for use in a vending or gambling machine, especially one used illegally.

3. Physics. The unit of mass that is accelerated at the rate of one foot per second per second when acted on by a force of one pound weight.

4. A unit of mass that sits in front of the television and refuses to be acted on by any force whatsoever, or to act as a force in its own right.

Monday, December 13, 2004

What I'm up to tonight

This is one of the very few things in existence that could compel me to sit outside in a lawn chair, uncomplaining, on a cold winter night. The chills I'm getting aren't from the temperature!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

No more salsify?

Anyone who's into gardening has probably heard that we're losing heirloom plants at a rate of thousands per year. The genetic diversity of cultivated vegetables, fruits, and herbs is dropping at an alarming rate, which could have catastrophic effects on our ability to feed ourselves planetwide.

Of course, some of us are more selfish-minded than that. I personally get all hot under the collar upon learning that many of the plants Thomas Jefferson grew at Monticello can't be found today. What if they tasted good? What if they might have been my favorite thing ever?

When I visited Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in 2000, I was served a dish of scalloped salsify. It was delicious. I had never eaten salsify before that, but immediately I knew I'd have to figure out a way to get my hands on more of it.

So when I moved here and suddenly had a bunch of arable land at my disposal, I bought a package of salsify seeds at Victory Seeds and planted them in my garden. They sprouted like gangbusters, and I looked forward to the full-grown roots with great anticipation. Unfortunately, by midsummer the burrowing animals discovered them and found them just as tasty as I did. One by one, the plants were pulled down to their subterranean rodential doom.

Anyhow, the other day I got a catalog from Pinetree Garden Seeds and noted with some alarm that their Mammoth Sandwich Island salsify (the only breed of the plant I'd ever seen advertised) was listed as a "Last Chance" purchase. They're dropping it from their catalog, probably due to low demand. I surfed around on the 'net and found the Sandwich Island seeds in all the usual places, including Victory, but I got to wondering: Isn't there any other breed? Are we down to one genetic population of salsify?

Then I found Harvest Moon Farms & Seed Company, and I was delighted to find that they still offer two varieties of salsify, plus two breeds of a similar European vegetable called scorzonera. That's still not nearly enough--how many do you suppose there were in the 19th century? the 18th?--but at least there's more than one.

Fortified with this information, I plan to grow salsify again after I move. Only this time, I'm going to grow the plants in deep containers with chicken wire cages over them! This cannot be left to chance, because I swear up and down that I'm going to make some scalloped salsify one of these days.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Thank goodness

I just got an e-mail from my brother who lives in Columbus, confirming that neither he, nor his wife, nor his wife's brother were at the Damageplan show where this happened. I am so relieved. All of them are hard rock/heavy metal fans, but they had other things to do that night. My brother said that our bro-in-law would almost certainly have attended if he hadn't been studying for finals.

That's a major weight off my mind. And on some level, so is the fact that the s.o. is no longer a touring rock musician! I'm not the sort of person who'd ever try to limit what I or my loved ones do because of fear, but yeesh. There are some bona fide crazy people out there.

Here's a follow-up report. Very unnerving.


Strange weather yesterday. My county was under a tornado watch from 6 pm until 3 am. Nothing happened that I know of, but it was eerie: periods of ghost-quiet calm alternating with little spatters of rain, flickering lightning, and hastening grey clouds. Oddly warm, too. Sometimes it's hard to remember it's December, because it feels more like early October.

Which reminds me, I planted a few salad greens last week, just to see if they'd take. The mache has sprouted (although the winter lettuce and the arugula haven't), and now there's a nice little fuzzy green row in the garden. It's in good company; there are still fennel and carrot plants there from earlier in the year.

The odometer on my car rolled over to 200,000 miles on my way into town last night.

I bartended at a party and served a bunch of drinks to this guy. He seemed like a nice person and bought round after round for his friends. But you'd think people in the public eye would realize that if they don't tip, it reflects badly on them. I'm just sayin'.

This afternoon, on my way back from the post office, I was temporarily stopped by a chaotic scene in the 25-mile-per-hour school zone just north of Union Point. Two pickup trucks were in the ditch, one on top of the other. The bottom one was upside-down. A crowd was gathering, and a woman ran into the road to pick up a baseball cap. How do you create a disaster like that at 25 miles per hour, I wonder?

Today I got a reminder of one of the best things about my job as a freelance writer. I called a guy on the west coast to make an appointment for an interview, and we got to talking. We chatted for 20 minutes about cities (he and his partner are contemplating a move to Portland), home renovation, traffic, ethnic food, and so on. He turned out to be quite an interesting person. This happens to me every once in a while, mostly on Fridays when people are looking for any excuse to avoid work!

As for me, I just blog when I'm trying to avoid work.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Productive, I suppose

Even though I don't think the people who visited our house will buy it, the exercise was not completely pointless. I gained focus: All the little things that mortified me will be the things I will strive to correct most quickly. I have planted a few winter annuals to spruce up the languishing flower beds, and I will mulch them starting tomorrow. I will paint the ugly green cabinet; I will bleach the tub again. I will finish the freaking drywall upstairs! I will put a second coat of paint on the foyer.

Although now that I think of it, it all sounds like a lot of work.

There is too much on my agenda. Freelance writing-wise, I am booked solid through mid-January. My grandfather is ill for the nth time this year, and that fact is tugging at a corner of my brain constantly. The spedometer is not working on the "new" car (it swings wildly between 0 and 70 mph) and all the tires have to be replaced. I have mysteriously gained 8 or 10 pounds and can't fit into several pairs of my jeans. Okay, it's not so mysterious if I think about all the crappy fattening food I keep eating. I have a wonderfully speedy metabolism that I have often managed to defeat by pure gluttony and mindlessness.

Still, there's nothing I can do but keep on swimming against the current, right?

Monday, December 06, 2004

Panic panic panic

My realtor called today and said there's a woman coming to look at the house tomorrow. Our very first interested person, after an entire month on the market, and we can't let her in the kitchen, not to mention the fact that all the kitchen stuff is crammed into the dining room and everything looks like ass. ARRRRGGHHH!


Tuesday update:
Hmm, I'm not sure if that went well. The people liked the house, I think, but they were quite elderly and the lady had dislocated her arm and was afraid to climb the stairs to the 2nd story. Also I'm not sure whether they'll want to deal with the renovation of the guest house. My gut feeling is that these people are not the "match" for our property. But c'mon, fate, prove me wrong!

Saturday, December 04, 2004


Today we pulled all the furniture out of the kitchen and I painted the parts of the floor that still needed to be painted.* This is creating a massive inconvenience for us. I'm a foodie, after all. Cooking is what I do! So we have stowed leftovers from tonight's dinner, plus a carton of milk and a 12-pack of beer, out on the screened porch where it's fridge-like in temperature. I have my organic Kashi red berry cereal and a loaf of wheat bread and some peanut butter. We are planning on eating out, mostly, for the next three days while the two coats of paint dry.

Anyhow, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share a few of the things I've learned about painting floors:

(1) If you can spare a room for an entire week and a half and have infinite ventilation and don't mind working with paint thinner, oil-based floor paint is the sturdiest stuff you can get.

(2) Otherwise (and this is my preference), buy a latex porch and floor paint. Don't even think about buying the Satin. Semigloss or Gloss is the way to go. The less porous the finish, the cleaner you'll be able to keep it.

3. Sand the entire floor before you paint. Yes, the entire miserable thing. If you happen to have one of those giant commercial sanders, more power to you, but the same result can be achieved with a hand-held orbital sander and a lot of time and effort. You may wish you were dead when you're slogging your way through it, but believe you me, you'll wish it even harder if you skip this step, paint the floor, and then find out that the paint hasn't adhered.

4. After you sand, vacuum the entire floor, using the brush attachment for the corners. Then use a Swiffer or something similar to go over it once more. Swiffers are godly at picking up tiny particulates.

5. When you paint, give it at least two coats two days apart.

6. An artist's flat brush is nice for doing edges when you don't want to mess with a paint shield. I'm not much into taping things off; my experiences with this house have taught me that there are easier and more effective ways to paint neat edges.

7. Have a plan in place for painting yourself out the door and turning the light off. A broomstick can come in handy for distant light switches. Don't leave paint can lids, brushes, etc. on countertops and then paint yourself away from them.

8. Don't rush to walk on the floor. The more drying and curing time you can allow, the better. Latex will need at least two days after the final coat. You'll know you've screwed up if your socks leave little cloudy heelprints.

9. Be even more generous in the time you allow before placing furniture and other heavy items on your new paint job.


* When I bought the house, half of the kitchen floor was new wood and the other half was old wood covered with incredibly nasty, tarry tile adhesive from the 1960s. I spent days and weeks of my life with a respirator on my face, belt-sanding that shit off. The end result was fairly convincingly uniform, but still not quite nice enough to stain. Thus, the paint. Initially I went for what I thought would be a nice blueish-gray, but it turned out to be the color of auto primer, which is why I'm repainting it in a lovely dark blueberry color at this extremely late date. There's a history to every damn thing in this house. *sigh*

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Good things that happened today

1. Got a license plate for my second car. There's a long story to this car. It is a 1994 Geo Prizm, smurf blue, which was previously owned by my brother, then by my stepsister, and which went through a long period of limbo while all of us were trying to rustle up the proper documentation and government hoo-hah to get a valid Georgia title for a car with an Ohio salvage title. At one point I actually had to pay the state Department of Motor Vehicle Safety to send a real live person out to Woodville to inspect the car (this has something to do with the salvage title and proving that the vehicle in question still exists and is not dangerous). Anyway, aside from the fact that now I can't get the Ohio license plate off of it because the bolts are rusted shut, I have achieved victory! I have a title, insurance, and a tag for it. It is legit.

2. Got more George Dickel No. 12 for my Horizon Organic eggnog. Self-explanatory, I think.

3. Got two new writing assignments for the upcoming weeks, and in the course of researching my current one, found that it was actually not only interesting, but quite amusing as well.

4. Discovered that the new Chinese restaurant/Japanese sushi bar (!?) down by the lake is, against all odds, really good.

Lifestyles of the furry and differently abled

We've had Cairo the three-legged dog for slightly more than six months now. He has become an integral member of the family. I can't imagine being without him.

Aside from his sunny, loving, loyal disposition and his marvelously plushy orange fur, the best thing about him is his absolute non-acknowledgement of the fact that he's missing a hind leg. I think he dreams in "four legs"--I'm guessing that from the way his body moves when he's running in his sleep--but he has certainly learned how to live life to the fullest with three.

Cairo's number-one favorite game is fetch. He loves tennis balls especially because of their bounciness and mouthfeel. I throw one, and I hear a frantic one-two-three one-two-three one-two-three of toenailed feet across the hardwood as he runs to get it. He doesn't corner well, bless him, but he can really move on a straightaway.

In case you're wondering where Silver is in all this, she's lying in wait. Silver's favorite game is not fetch; it's tug-of-war. She ambushes Cairo on his way back to me and tries to pry the ball out of his mouth. She usually wins, but Cairo doesn't care. If Silver is the one who returns the ball to me, it's fine, as long as I throw the ball for him again.

Outside, Cairo is even more in his element. The grass and dirt give him excellent traction. No dog needs four legs on natural turf. Cairo frolics and dances around with every bit of joy in his doggy heart.

At the risk of offering too much information, I am awed by the way Cairo poops. Recall, if you will, that dogs adopt a hunched, seated-with-levitating-butt posture when they do a #2. To approximate this, Cairo has to use some serious Dog Yoga. He places his right front leg waaaaaay back alongside his left (and only) hind leg, and he balances in a perfect, tenuous tripod.

Cairo still can't jump onto the bed by himself, and he has a lot of trouble with the steep staircase to our upper story. But he gets stronger and braver every day. Recently, when the s.o. was holding a tennis ball aloft, just out of reach, I noticed him pogoing into the air on one hind leg.

People tell me they can't understand spending as much money as I did to bring a stray dog back to health. But I don't understand that point of view, and I guess I never will.

Somewhere in an upstairs wall, a secret lurks

I think remodeling this house has changed us on some fundamental level. We understand the world a little differently, find different things funny.

This evening we were watching In a Fix, and my boy Sparky discovered an unforeseen junction box when he broke open a wall. This is his pet peeve; he believes, reasonably enough, that electricians should have access to them and know where they are.

"People!" Sparky bellowed into the camera. "Don't bury your junction boxes!"

The s.o. and I suddenly shot a glance at each other. A guilty glance. A slight smirk.

"Heh," the s.o. giggled.

"Heh, heh," I giggled back.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Warm front

Whew, that was a lonely, sad little episode I had this morning. I don't think I had even fully awakened from my dream. It was so strong and vivid.

That's what's nice about being moody, though: If you don't like the weather, wait an hour and it'll change. The s.o. awoke this morning to find me making a pot of coffee in the kitchen, singing "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)".

I would love to get an inside look at how my brain works, that's all I can say.


Ever since June 2, 2000, there is a draft in the room.

I want so desperately for my dad to see that since then, good things have happened to me. I am happy now, even though my life was in chaos (of my own making) then. At the same time, a part of me is glad that for him, there is no September 11, 2001.

From my dad's record collection: Shostakovich String Quartets Nos. 8 and 15, perf. by Fitzwilliam String Quartet.

Time almost stands still in the opening elegy...
The second movement is heralded by a succession of shrieks from each instrument in turn, these alternating with a macabre serenade which limps along as if it had lost all sense of direction, eventually losing itself in a barely-audible pedal-note on the cello...

Through the plate glass, a square of angular winter light illuminates my dad's face in the downstairs dining room. He is sitting with us, sorting through paperwork. He holds up a business card with a price written on it. It is for an item sold, but not delivered, before his death. "Do you think this is going to screw us when we sell the property?" he asks my grandfather.

Do people know they're dead?

It's not even an anniversary of anything. Why do I keep having these dreams?

Sunday, November 28, 2004


One of the drawbacks of working in a bar is the germs. It's like being a preschool teacher; you show up clean and healthy, and within moments all the viruses and bacteria from a 100-mile radius have glommed onto you. It makes me glad I only work there once or twice a week. But then again, if I showed up more often, maybe I'd work up a resistance.

After coming down with several unusually nasty colds last winter and spring, I became almost obsessive-compulsive about washing my hands at work. If I had a spare moment, I'd soap up with antibacterial cleanser or dunk my hands in the disinfectant sink. But really, you can only limit your exposure, not do away with it. You are constantly picking up glasses people have drunk out of, not to mention handling their money. As much as I like collecting dollar bills, they live up to their reputation as "filthy lucre." They are disease vectors extraordinaire.

For the last three weeks, I've fought off a different ailment each week. I can usually tell it's coming by Monday or so - sometimes sooner, sometimes later. Two weeks ago it was a slight headache and a sniffle. Last Tuesday it was a raw throat. Neither came to anything (I take pride in this, because it must mean I am fairly strong and healthy). But today my nose is running and I'm wondering if this bodes, er, ill.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Be vewy, vewy quiet

Statistically, if you are a rural Georgia woman, you are at the mall today. If you're a man, you're deer-hunting.


(1) No line at the post office.

(2) Grocery store full of guys in camouflage.

(3) Shots ringing out constantly, making me (and the dogs) very twitchy.

That's about all I've got. Not much going on here today except the sudden appearance of school-bus-yellow signs advertising a house-moving company in all the front yards along Rte. 278 east of Greensboro. Do I sense a major road widening in our near future? Lines of orange construction cones stretching to the horizon? A major hassle in the making?

On the other hand, it would be nice to encourage people to move out thisaway. Anybody need a house?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

10 things to do when left alone on a major holiday

1. Watch dog show on TV.

2. Subsist solely on leftovers - no cooking whatsoever except possible soup-making.

3. Work on photo albums.

4. Contemplate favorite idle fantasy: being at the center of a Christopher Meloni and Marc "Sparky" Bartolomeo sandwich.

5. Throw tennis ball for Cairo.

6. Nap.

7. Peruse Hugh F.-W. Meat Book.

8. Listen to howling winter gale (which kicked up, as if on cue, at about 4 this morning and hasn't subsided since).

9. Turn on Christmas lights for the first time this season.

10. Knit.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Early Thanksgiving

The s.o. and I had Thanksgiving dinner today, since he'll be traveling with his dad tomorrow through Saturday.

I suspect I'll be getting a lot of work done in his absence. Either that, or I'll be drowning my sorrows in leftover stuffing and potatoes!

I'll tell you what I'm really thankful for*:

Today I had to drive into town in the pouring rain, and when I was on one of Athens's major streets, a driver in front of me stopped short for no reason at a green light. I braked about eight feet back from her, peered at her quizzically when she still failed to proceed, and briefly honked my horn.

She got out of the car and approached my window. "Did you just hit me?" she demanded.

"No!" I responded, shocked.**

"Oh," she said. "I thought you might have, since I had to stop so quickly."

"I'm not even close to your car. I braked in plenty of time."

"Mmm. Okay."

And then she and her passenger peered at their spotless bumper and got back in their car and drove away.

Was she trying to scam me for insurance money? Or was she maybe taking a break from her medication? It was scary, and I'm really grateful that she didn't do anything even more bizarre.


* Aside from the obvious, of course. I am not one to take my wonderful family, friends, and animal dependents for granted.

**Alternate response that went through my head and was, luckily, caught in the filter before it emerged from my mouth:

"Why? Should I?"

Monday, November 22, 2004

Mighty huntress

Taxi the cat has caught and tortured another small lizard. This one was a Carolina anole (her usual prey are skinks). I discovered it because there was a congregation of domestic animals all staring at one place on the dining room rug. If they were trying to be sneaky, they failed!

I took a rag and carefully scooped up the lizard and moved it outside. It wasn't bleeding. It was breathing hard and deep and infrequently. It looked sort of dry and ragged. What was strangest, though, was its coloration. Anoles usually change from brown to lime green and back again depending on their mood and surroundings. This one looked as though it had acquired the lizard version of a computer virus. It was patchy: brown, green, grey, and silvery blue.

I left it out back by the herb garden. Probably a bird swooped down and ate it the moment the door slammed.

Taxi was a little miffed at me, but she's over it.

Saturday, November 20, 2004


The mail carrier had a package for me today. It was my new Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall meat cookbook. But instead of bringing it to the porch and knocking on the door, she stuck a "Sorry We Missed You!" note in the mailbox, without ever leaving the comfort of her car. She didn't "miss us." She didn't even check to see if we were home. Now I can't get the book until Monday, and I personally have to drive to Union Point to pick it up.

This isn't the first time she's done this to us. This is workplace slackassery of a caliber not even I am capable of.

Unholy bitch! I want my book!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


• Intermittent cable internet problems. Down for hours at a time. Nobody knows why. The company plans to drop by with a new modem soon because they can't figure out anything else it could be.

• The s.o. has put in hours and hours of foyer-painting time: ceiling, decorative spindles, beadboard. He helped me move the fridge and bring an extension ladder into the kitchen, and since then I've been painting the previously unreachable parts of the mouldings. It's hard to remodel a house when you're living in it...especially the kitchen!

• The realtor's husband, a truck driver, came and hauled away the s.o.'s old broken-down van for us. It really helps the appearance of a property when you don't have junk vehicles sitting around.

• Gorgeous weather--clear and sunny. Very cold at night, though. We have had our first couple of significant frosts, and the coleus plants are beginning to look ragged and frostbitten. We brought in our potted plants for the winter and are now struggling to find nice-looking places to put them, since prospective house-buyers might visit at any moment.

• Not that they are.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Food voyeurism

Inspired by a past post over at Witho's place, I present you with a photo of the inside of my fridge. I believe this proves that I am absolutely unsuited to using a reasonable European-size refrigerator. Indeed, I push the limits of my American one.

An ID on some of the visible contents:

Front: Milk, slaw from a hot-wing restaurant, hummus, yogurt, an open can of cat food, a little can of grapefruit juice, Perrier, unsweetened iced tea
Back: Marmalade, packaged chocolate pudding, Miracle Whip, apple cider, some other things

Cheese drawer: Monterey Jack, bacon, Canadian bacon, Neufchatel
Shelf: English muffins, eggs, cooked Hubbard squash, various pickle-y things, tahini, leftover hot-pepper chicken, flour tortillas

Cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, orange juice, celery, beer

Not shown
Fruit and vegetable drawers
Door (although you can see a jar of jam and a bottle of tamarind chutney)
More stuff in the back

It's always been like this! And I was over at J. and F.'s place yesterday and theirs was actually worse. I think we should just resign ourselves to it...

Friday, November 12, 2004

The view from my chair

I hung these records over the window that's next to my desk. (Kudos to my mother for giving me really nice LP frames for Christmas two years ago. What a wonderful and useful gift.)

I think maybe I should actually listen to the one on the left instead of framing and displaying it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Black box

I hate to derive amusement from someone else's misfortune, but the Arafat situation has spawned some of the funniest and most bizarre news coverage in recent memory. First, there was an incorrect report of his demise and then a spate of hasty bet-hedgings, which is the sort of news coverage you'd expect to hear delivered by the likes of Chevy Chase.

This soon begat the world's shortest news conference:

*tap tap tap*

*squeal of feedback*

"Monsieur Arafat n'est pas décédé. Merci."

Either Fark or one of the blogs in its sphere of influence dubbed the ailing Palestinian leader "Schroedinger's Arafat." As if that weren't brilliant enough, today Fark has posted an update saying Arafat is on the machine that goes 'ping.'

But for better or for worse, it is inevitable that eventually the gendarme in the natty outfit will appear before reporters to declare:

"Monsieur Arafat est mort. Merci."


11 pm EST

Can I call 'em or what?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Please stir it with chopsticks

Back in college when I took a class called Religions of East Asia, I remember a Zen monk talking with us about the importance of living in the moment. "Americans are always waiting for something," he said.

That's so true. We should "be where we are." Everything is so much more fulfilling that way. But just because I know it doesn't mean I'm very good at putting it into practice.

I have a bad habit. I plan excessively. Instead of concentrating on what I'm doing now, I often think about how much cooler life will be when such-and-such happens. For example, now that I know I'll be moving to Oregon sometime soon, I''ve been spending way too much time focusing on what it'll be like to have farmer's markets and public transportation and access to snowboarding. I've been shopping for houses online even though we haven't sold this one yet and probably won't for some time.

This kind of thinking almost made me do something profoundly silly today. I was in Athens and had just left the bank. I pulled out onto the street and, out of the corner of my eye, thought I spotted something that looked suspiciously like a Korean grocery store in a small, squalid mini-mall. Another glance revealed that yes, it was a Korean grocery store. One I never knew existed, smack in the middle of a town notoriously poor in Asian food. An oasis in a sea of southernness.

I almost kept going. A little voice in my head was saying, "In Portland there will be Asian food everywhere!"

But wait a minute. What am I waiting for? SCREEEEECH. I hung a quick U-turn and drove into the parking lot. Soon I was loading my basket with Sriracha sauce and spring roll wrappers and bulgogi marinade. I noticed that they carried "my" brand of Vietnamese fish sauce.

I am glad I overrode the decidedly non-Zenlike voice in my head. Just because something wonderful is on the horizon doesn't mean I can't be happy and contented in the present. And y'know, I like the present. I tend to enjoy myself wherever I am, so why doesn't my wandering mind want to stick around for all the fun? The present is a pretty good spot in the fabric of space/time, at least from where I'm standing.

I'll leave you with, as Jon Stewart says, "your moment of Zen." Here are the instructions on a package of Japanese noodles I bought:

1. Please put Noodles into boiling water (1l).

2. After four or five minutes, (at first cook it for two minutes by strong fire and then cook it by moderate fire) Please stir it with chopsticks.

3. The lustrous, bright, soft and nutrient noodles should be poured by cold water after it is recovered from water.

4. The making method is unique and needs short time for cooking it can be cooked into delicious noodles according to your flavor, no matter it is cooked, sauted, soaked or cool mixed.

Monday, November 08, 2004

This is why we threw away the cardboard beer coasters from Munich, not to mention the souvenir coasters from the industrial fabrics convention

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


4 square fiberboard coasters depicting unusual bird species

4 tiny round carpet-sample coasters from a carpet mill in North Carolina: one each in red, blue, green, and gold

1 souvenir fiberboard coaster from the London Eye

4 cast-iron owl trivets that are too small to hold anything except drinks

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Grasshopper mind

The s.o. often accuses me (rightly) of having "grasshopper mind," a phrase he either learned legitimately in his Tae Kwon Do training or picked up watching reruns of Kung Fu, I'm not sure which. Hop! Hop! Hop! Sometimes it's a little bit hard to follow me through a conversation. My mind is all over the place.

That's how I am today, so this post shall reflect it.

First item: It is sunny and in the 50s today. This is notable because only in the last couple of days have we really begun to feel the chill of winter--or what passes for winter here--in the air. Until recently, it's been shorts-and-tee-shirt weather. But don't scoff. There's something about the lay of the land in Greene County that makes it about three times as windy as Athens in the wintertime. We actually have to take down our windchimes every year because of the incessant clanging. And it gets cold at night--sometimes even into the teens. That weather is on its way, mark my words.

Second item: I drove past a Baptist church on the way to the grocery store the other day, and its sign said "THE WAY TO HEAVEN: TURN RIGHT, GO STRAIGHT." Grrrrrrrrr...what a nice, conciliatory post-election gesture.

Third item: Once upon a time I wrote a quiz that asked a question about My Top Five Cookbook Authors of All Time. That wasn't really fair, because of course I've never listed them. But I feel the urge to do that today. The list won't come as a surprise to readers of my recipe blog.


5. Neelam Batra
How can I deny a spot on this list to the woman whose 1,000 Indian Recipes gave me the ability to make my own baingan bhartha and vegetable samosas with deliciousness rivaling a good Indian restaurant? The person who made it suddenly seem not only possible, but easy, to make tandoori chicken on the charcoal grill? The goddess of chaat masala and tamarind paste? I know Madhur Jaffrey is the first lady of Indian cooking in this country, but I cast my vote for Neelam instead, because somehow she seems to understand what I need to know.

4. Anna Thomas
She wrote the original Vegetarian Epicure--a landmark book that has nevertheless become completely useless because of its heavy dependence on cheese, butter and cream. I'm not against using those things, but 1970s vegetarian cookbooks tended to describe food that was heavy enough to sink a battleship, and hers was the epitome of the genre. But in 1996 she wrote The New Vegetarian Epicure, which is absolutely indispensable. The flavors are vibrant and clean. She lives for farmer's markets. Thomas lives in the southwestern U.S., and it shows: Polenta, tamales, chiles, nopalitos, tomatilloes, etc., figure very prominently. When she's not cooking southwestern fare, she's roasting vegetables or whipping up world-class risottos and salads. You can have my copy of The New Vegetarian Epicure when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

3. Jamie Oliver
Yes, he is a caricature of himself--maybe even a little bit of a pompous ass. Yes, he is kind of a one-trick pony (dinner at JO's house: olive oil, flaky sea salt, lemon zest, fennel, and a little more olive oil). But his enthusiasm is infectious and his food is simple and delicious. Anyone who roasts ducks with rhubarb and ginger is A-OK in my book. And if it weren't for him, I never would have discovered the Borough Market, nor sucked down a fresh raw Mersey oyster, nor devoured the best focaccia of my life at Fifteen.

2. Deborah Madison
Her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is a masterpiece. It's one of the few cookbooks that's so trustworthy that I will try a recipe for the first time when guests are coming. It's the source of my oat scones, my migas, my leek and potato soup, my guacamole, the s.o.'s naan...I could go on and on. And what's even better is that the cookbook is organized according to ingredients, so if you have a vegetable that's fresh and ready-to-use, you can browse for something to make with it.
Madison also wrote the America volume of the Vegetarian Table series. There you can find excellent creamed cabbage, spiced quinces, persimmon pudding, cooked greens, Concord grape pie, and the world's only really good vegetarian hoppin' john recipe.

1. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
I discovered Hugh F.-W.'s River Cottage cookbooks in a bookshop in London. We don't get his TV programs here, and the books aren't "translated" for our market. And to be honest, his books are not as across-the-board useful as many I've seen. I mean, when am I really going to bake a casserole of pig cheeks and ears, or make a sausage out of a goose neck? When will I serve Snipe on Toast? But that's what makes him so special: dogged reliance on only the freshest and best-tasting ingredients, plucked from the hedgerows and farms of Dorset. His writing inspires me to go one step farther, to make every meal as special as it can possibly be. He introduced me to the never-ending wonders of growing my own sorrel. He taught me how to make perfect crepes. He showed me how to make REAL batter-fried fish. He gave me a recipe that turns the cheapest, toughest lamb cuts into one of the finest meals I know how to make. Anyone who thinks British cooking isn't any good hasn't read this guy's work. He is the best there is.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Gratuitous photos of the house

Of all the rooms in the house, I'm proudest of this one--the master bedroom. I sewed those velvet pillows myself! I don't know what those weird reflections are in the photo. Hopefully you can see past them.

The bathroom was a special challenge because it came with very, er, interesting tile (you can see a bit of it in all its blue and gold glory at the top). I found a paint and curtain color that didn't clash with it, and off we went. The s.o. built the cabinet from some old shutters he found on the property.

Here's a corner of our kitchen with a current project. I'm taking still more of those spare shutters and painting them up. Then the s.o. is going to hinge them together to make a dressing screen for our bedroom.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


We get a lot of magazines delivered to our house. The other day I got one with a cover on it that said "Your subscription to Southern Living IS ENDING!" And it quite literally brought tears to my eyes, because, see, the s.o. and I have been doing a lot of talking lately, and we've decided to move.

Yesterday my trusty real estate agent--the one who sold me this property two years ago, when it was uninhabitable and covered in kudzu--came to visit. We did a lot of catching up. She marveled at the changes and happily accepted a jar of pear-citrus marmalade made from the pears that grow on the property. And before she left, she stuck a "For Sale" sign in the lawn.

The s.o. used to be in a touring rock band, but now he'd like to get a 9-to-5 job. There's nothing around here, though, so we started thinking about other places we really like. Portland, Oregon came up almost immediately. It's his favorite city in the U.S., and I have family and friends nearby (not to mention a mother who would like to buy a retirement property there). It's beautiful and surrounded by nature (hiking! snowboarding! the ocean!). So we decided that we'll pick up and move to the west coast. We're not sure when it'll happen, because in this area it often takes months and months to sell a house. But the process has begun.

So I ask you: What should I do about this blog? Shall I just recast it to reflect Pacific-rim urban living? I certainly don't think I'll run out of things to say anytime soon.

In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy the things I love about this place.

Thoughts that gradually return to everyday matters

1. One of the central problems of the democratic process is that very often, if you give people an opportunity to choose their own leadership, they'll install a theocracy...sometimes a fairly totalitarian one.

2. Tinfoil-hattery? Perhaps. But it has been pointed out that in precincts where paper elections took place, the exit polls matched the results. In precincts where Diebold electronic voting machines were used, Bush seems to have gained about 5 percentage points over the exit polls.

3. In all the hubbub, American news has been too busy to report a major world event: The president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed, has died. My friend who lives in the UAE forwarded me this excellent link that tells a little bit about him. She says the entire country is in mourning, that the outpouring of love and sadness is overwhelming, and, on a practical level, she is unlikely to be able to get her clothes dryer fixed for quite some time.

4. Buying fried chicken from a gas-station food counter is a good idea only in the extremely short term.

5. Something ate my jasmine down to bare sticks! Grrrrrr.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Voting is hard work

It shouldn't be, should it? And actually, it was easy for me. I walked a block, showed my I.D., and touched a touch-screen a few times.

The s.o. was not so lucky. He had registered October 1 (three days before the final deadline), but when he showed up at the polls, his name wasn't in the book.

For the purpose of telling this story, I've decided to reveal more about the s.o. and me. Until now, I've taken pains to avoid giving our exact location, out of fear of stalkers, etc. But stories of voter disenfranchisement are all too often vague and anecdotal. I want this one to be personal and precise.

Here is where we live. We're approximately 90 miles east of Atlanta and 35 miles southeast of Athens. Our county is overwhelmingly poor and black, but Mercer Reynolds, George W. Bush's chief fundraiser and onetime oil bailout buddy, owns a gated community/golf resort/luxury hotel complex on the western edge of the county. The fabulously wealthy people who reside there skew the average income so that the county doesn't qualify for government aid. About twice a year, W. flies in to the county airport and shakes the Reynolds residents down for a couple million dollars. He's very popular there.

Anyway, back to the story. When the s.o.'s name didn't appear on the voter rolls, the officials called the Greene County voter registration office. They found that he was still registered in Athens, where he had lived several years ago. They were very helpful, but they basically told him he'd have to vote there.

That was, as Quentin Tarantino once wrote, "a bold statement." The north side of Athens is a 45-minute drive each way. Imagine if we had day jobs or lacked transportation. Not only that, but we're in a completely different district. The s.o. was to be prevented from voting in several tight local races. His vote would disappear in a sea of other Democratic votes in liberal Athens, rather than potentially making a difference in our rural community.

We walked back to the house, and the s.o. got on the phone with the Georgia Secretary of State's office. He explained the situation, and they told him that the Greene County Library, where he'd registered, would have a record of his name and the date he had registered. They were required to record the name of every person who signed a Declaration of Intent to Vote.

He called the library. The librarian told him they didn't keep any such records--just the number of people who registered.

He called the Secretary of State's office again. The very helpful woman on the other end of the line verified that, indeed, the library was required by law to record the name of every person who registered and the date upon which they did so. To fail to do this was breaking the law. She suggested that the s.o. call back again and verify what the librarian had told him. She also said he should give the librarian her phone number and ask them to give her a call.

He called the library again. He spoke to the same librarian and recounted his conversation with the Secretary of State's office. Suddenly the librarian sounded nervous. "I'm not in charge here," she said hurriedly. "My boss is in charge, but she took the day off."

To make a long story short, the woman at the Secretary of State's office has asked the s.o. to call back next week, when the flurry of activity is over, and she'll walk him through filing a formal complaint against the Greene County Library. Whether they lost the s.o.'s registration or, er, "lost" it (i.e., threw it in the trash, shredded it, or whatever), they are clearly in violation of the law because they eliminated their own paper trail. You simply can't do that. I'm pretty sure vote tampering of this kind is a felony.

And yes, we did drive to Athens, and yes, the s.o. was eventually able to vote (although not for our local races). But he's going to make a lot of noise about this incident. Wouldn't you?

Monday, November 01, 2004

Election eve...

...and Kayle Cowherd, the amusingly named candidate for county commissioner (whom some of you may recall from my now-defunct photo essay) showed up in person at our door. I was cooking dinner, so I didn't see him, but the s.o. says he was a young guy, real nice fella, who was still wearing his work shirt from a landscaping company.

But he's a Republican. Weird. I tend to think of rural Georgia Republicans as people like this intolerant dickhead.

I apologize for the politics. It'll be over soon, I promise. I'm just edgy tonight.

NOW EVERYBODY GO OUT AND VOTE (except all you non-U.S. readers--you can spend your day however you see fit).

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The price of progress

I must be high
To let you say goodbye
I must be high
bah bah bah bah
bah bah bah bah

No, nobody has left, except for possibly some brain cells. I've inhaled a few too many paint fumes while working on the foyer. Opening the door didn't seem to help at all.


Friday, October 29, 2004

So fresh and so clean, clean

It is the mission of all beloved children to give their parents palpitations by endangering themselves in bizarre and unforeseen ways. Since the s.o. and I have no human children, and do not plan to, this duty falls upon our animals.

I'd agreed to loan a dress to a friend for Halloween, but the dress had been stored in our very unfinished "guest house" and therefore had a musty smell. It was also wadded in a ball. So I went to the laundry room (which is the back porch, as you all know) and rummaged around until I found a spray bottle of Downy Wrinkle Releaser that some well-intentioned person had given me a couple of years ago. Aha!, I thought. Just the thing.

I hung the dress on the bathroom door and misted it all over with Downy Wrinkle Releaser. Then the phone rang, and I took the bottle in hand and ran to get it.

A few minutes later, I returned to the scene and found Cairo standing there. He whipped his head up from his snout-to-the-floor position and guiltily licked his chops. It took me only moments to realize that the mist of Downy Wrinkle Releaser had created a slick on the floor and he'd been licking it.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" I screamed. The s.o. came running and very helpfully suggested I call the number on the bottle. When I did so, the recording on the other end of the line gave me the number for Poison Control. I called it.

I described the situation to the woman at the Poison Control Center. She hemmed and hawed a little and then asked a lot of questions about Cairo's age and behavior. I reported that he was acting completely normal, which is to say, exuberant. She told me to hold for a moment.

She returned. "What was the scent of the product?" she asked.


"What was the scent?"

I was thinking, How could that possibly matter? But I dutifully checked the bottle. "Light Freshness," I reported.

I heard papers shuffling. Then she told me that if he had, say, drunk the contents of the bottle, Cairo might be in for some serious gastric distress, along with vomiting. But seeing as he'd only licked up an application's worth, he'd probably be absolutely fine. I should give him some water to drink and continue to monitor his behavior, but I could be fully confident that he'd be okay.

What a relief!

As I write this, I can hear the s.o. playing with Cairo. "How you doin' there, Downy?" he's asking. "How you doin', Mr. Wrinkle-Free? Mr. Light Freshness?"

These are the moments memories are made of, I guess.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

In a fog

Lately, every time I drive somewhere after dark, I'm enveloped in fog. We're talking zero visibility. I guess it's the time of year. You'd think Halloween was invented by someone from Georgia, the way the weather spookily complies.

They say it behooves you to drive with your low beams on in the fog. I will agree that high beams are useless, but I think whoever decided you can see better with the low beams was being extraordinarily optimistic. The best tactic is to slow to a crawl (a speed at which you can stop for deer, dogs, possums, etc., if they run three feet in front of your vehicle, which they will) and wait until you emerge from the cloud.

Meanwhile, the moon is full, or close to it. People still react to a full moon, no matter how much they'd like to think otherwise, so I usually try to avoid driving into town during one. But a performance by the Silos in a 50-person room was enough to draw me out last night.

First, let me explain how I feel about Walter Salas-Humara.

Owoooooooooooo! Oops. Didn't mean to let that out. It must have been the moon.

Seriously, here's the deal. I've met a lot of musicians, famous and otherwise. He is the only one whose presence turns me into a babbling fool. I don't know what it is. His lanky, sexy Cuban-ness probably doesn't hurt. But I think it's the fact that I admire his talent so very much and am completely mystified by him. I can't pin him down.

I first met him in person at a picnic during SXSW '98. He was incredibly sweet and gracious. I was a retard. And that has set a pattern for every encounter since then.

Anyhow, I drove 35 miles into town, slowing for impenetrable clouds of fog, to see the Silos play, and it was transcendent. It wasn't nearly as crowded as it should have been, but it was still great to share the experience with lots of people I know who appreciated the music as much as I did. The new album material sounds great live. The encore was a brutally beautiful version of "Susan Across the Ocean" that ripped everyone's hearts out of their chests.

And then there I was, buying a Silos tank top from Walter Salas-Humara. "Duh-huh...I really like your music..duhhhh."

Monday, October 25, 2004

Equal time

Here's Silver, just because. We caught this expression on her face by saying "Food?" just as I snapped the pic.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

We have recently noticed...

...that Mr. Cairo has gotten quite large.

Here's a photo of when we first found him. His head and his paws were huge compared to the rest of his emaciated form.

Here he is now. He's not fat at all (I keep checking him for excess weight, and it's simply not there--you can feel all his ribs prominently), but he's gotten burly and barrel-chested as he's grown into adulthood. Sturdy, you might say. He weighs 44 pounds, and that's with one leg missing!

Time: Not on my side?

1. Is it possible to be bitterly disappointed in something you knew in advance would be a giant steaming heap of manure? So that settles it: There's no second comeback. "Ordinary World" really is the only good song they've written since the Rio album, and shall remain so.

2. Yes, I was a Duran Duran fan. Shut up. I was 12 years old in 1982, and I imprinted hard. Shut up.

3. My favorite bartender from a bar across town is now my colleague. Someone in our organization had the good sense to snap her up. I couldn't be more pleased. She is both hilarious and helpful. She grew up on a cattle ranch in Kansas and used to be a firefighter.

4. Still in a major panic about my Halloween costume. Last year's was so good (I bartended in the guise of the St. Pauli Girl) that I'm daunted this year. I don't want to go downhill, but how can I not? Tick...tick...tick...

5. And speaking of costumes, my buxom friend S., who is a very talented hairdresser-in-training, was shockingly blonde-streaked when I saw her yesterday. Apparently she's on her way to becoming really blonde for next weekend. She's going as Clementine from Reno 911. Her costumes are always brilliant.

6. And furthermore, tick...tick...tick...

Thursday, October 21, 2004


No, our house isn't being broken into.

Nobody's knocking at the door.

No deer in the yard.

No stray dogs.

No sirens or rifle shots.

So why the extreme canine alarm? The clothes washer, out back on the screened porch, has an unbalanced load. I guess it's handy that they let me know.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Cigarette State*

Starting this afternoon, I have to drive six hours, get a hotel, stay overnight, wake up ungodly early for a breakfast meeting, and then drive six hours back home again.

Face-to-face interviews are far superior to phone interviews, of course, but it still seems a little silly to me. Ah well--client's prerogative. Off I go...


* That's North Carolina, of course. Title borrowed from the incredibly brilliant Robbie Fulks.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Oh hell, why not?

I got this over at Snowball's. She put nice little commentaries on hers, but I'm too lazy I expect that if anyone finds any of my answers especially interesting or shocking, they'll ask about them...

How it works: You paste this list of 200 things into an entry and then put the ones that are true about you into bold.

1. Bought everyone in the pub a drink
2. Swam with wild dolphins
3. Climbed a mountain
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
6. Held a tarantula
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
8. Said 'I love you' and meant it
9. Hugged a tree
10. Done a striptease
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long, and watch the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Touched an iceberg
20. Slept under the stars
21. Changed a baby's diaper
22. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
23. Watched a meteor shower
24. Gotten drunk on champagne
25. Given more than you can afford to charity
26. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
27. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
28. Had a food fight
29. Bet on a winning horse
30. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
31. Asked out a stranger
32. Had a snowball fight
33. Photocopied your bottom on the office photocopier
34. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
35. Held a lamb
36. Enacted a favourite fantasy
37. Taken a midnight skinny dip
38. Taken an ice cold bath
39. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
40. Seen a total eclipse
41. Ridden a roller coaster
42. Hit a home run
43. Fit three weeks miraculously into three days
44. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
45. Adopted an accent for an entire day
46. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
47. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
48. Had two hard drives for your computer
49. Visited all 50 states
50. Loved your job for all accounts
51. Taken care of someone who was shit-faced
52. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
53. Had amazing friends
54. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
55. Watched wild whales
56. Stolen a sign
57. Backpacked in Europe
58. Taken a road trip
59. Gone rock climbing
60. Lied to a foreign government official in that country to avoid notice
61. Midnight walk on the beach
62. Skydived
63. Visited Ireland
64. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
65. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
66. Visited Japan
67. Bench-pressed your own weight
68. Milked a cow
69. Alphabetized your records
70. Pretended to be a superhero
71. Sung karaoke
72. Lounged around in bed all day
73. Posed nude in front of strangers
74. Gone scuba diving
75. Got it on to "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye
76. Kissed in the rain
77. Played in the mud
78. Played in the rain
79. Gone to a drive-in theater
80. Done something you should regret, but don't regret it
81. Visited the Great Wall of China
82. Discovered that someone who's not supposed to have known about your blog has discovered your blog
83. Dropped Windows in favor of something better
84. Started a business
85. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
86. Toured ancient sites
87. Taken a martial arts class
88. Swordfought for the honor of a woman
89. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
90. Gotten married
91. Been in a movie
92. Crashed a party
93. Loved someone you shouldn't have
94. Kissed someone so passionately it made them dizzy
95. Gotten divorced
96. Had sex at the office
97. Gone without food for 5 days
98. Made cookies from scratch
99. Won first prize in a costume contest
100. Ridden a gondola in Venice
101. Gotten a tattoo
102. Found that the texture of some materials can turn you on
103. Rafted the Snake River
104. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
105. Got flowers for no reason
106. Masturbated in a public place
107. Got so drunk you don't remember anything
108. Been addicted to some form of illegal drug
109. Performed on stage
110. Been to Las Vegas
111. Recorded music
112. Eaten shark
113. Had a one-night stand
114. Gone to Thailand
115. Seen Siouxsie live
116. Bought a house
117. Been in a combat zone
118. Buried one/both of your parents
119. Shaved or waxed your pubic hair off
120. Been on a cruise ship
121. Spoken more than one language fluently
122. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
123. Bounced a cheque
124. Performed in Rocky Horror
125. Read—and understood—your credit report
126. Raised children
127. Recently bought and played with a favourite childhood toy
128. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
129. Created and named your own constellation of stars
130. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
131. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
132. Called or written your Congressman/Member of Parliament
133. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
134. —More than once? —More than thrice?
135. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
136. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
137. Had an abortion or your female partner did
138. Had plastic surgery
139. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived
140. Wrote articles for a large publication
141. Lost over 100 pounds
142. Held someone while they were having a flashback
143. Piloted an airplane
144. Petted a stingray
145. Broken someone's heart
146. Helped an animal give birth
147. Been fired or laid off from a job
148. Won money on a TV game show
149. Broken a bone
150. Killed a human being
151. Gone on an African photo safari
152. Ridden a motorcycle
153. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100mph
154. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
155. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
156. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
157. Ridden a horse
158. Had major surgery
159. Had sex on a moving train
160. Had a snake as a pet
161. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
162. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
163. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
164. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
165. Visited all 7 continents
166. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
167. Eaten kangaroo meat
168. Fallen in love at an ancient Mayan burial ground
169. Been a sperm or egg donor
170. Eaten sushi
171. Had your picture in the newspaper
172. Had 2 (or more) healthy romantic relationships for over a year in your lifetime
173. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
174. Gotten someone fired for their actions
175. Gone back to school
176. Parasailed
177. Changed your name
178. Petted a cockroach
179. Eaten fried green tomatoes
180. Read The Iliad
181. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read
182. Dined in a restaurant and stolen silverware, plates, cups because your apartment needed them
183. —and gotten 86'ed from the restaurant because you did it so many times, they figured out it was you
184. Taught yourself an art from scratch
185. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
186. Apologised to someone years after inflicting the hurt
187. Skipped all your school reunions and will continue to
188. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
189. Been elected to public office
190. Written your own computer language
191. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
192. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
193. Built your own PC from parts
194. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
195. Had a booth at a street fair
196. Dyed your hair
197. Been a DJ
198. Found out someone was going to dump you via LiveJournal
199. Written your own role playing game
200. Been arrested

Monday, October 18, 2004


I am helpless. I have no resistance. I have cried to the following songs in the last two days:

• "Troubled Times" - Fountains of Wayne
• "Lunette" - Jim Roll
• "'52 Black Vincent" - Richard Thompson
• "I Can't Make It Alone" - Continental Drifters
• "The Only Story I Tell" - The Silos

Someone needs to confiscate my iPod for the next three days or so...except they can't do that, because I'm using it for work. Oh well.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The words she knows, the tune she hums

Last night, after the last customer was shooed out onto the sidewalk and the front door was locked, all the bartenders, managers, door guys, and assorted significant others sat at the bar and chatted quietly. The bands had played with fantastic energy and the crowds had been intense.

Someone put Soundgarden's Superunknown on the sound system, and all the sudden we found ourselves--every last one of us--singing "Black Hole Sun" in unison. "What a strange thing for us all to know the words to," I thought.

Something tugged at the edge of my memory, and suddenly I realized that this moment reminded me of the "Tiny Dancer" singalong from Almost Famous. But unlike the movie, it had nothing to do with the lyrics. It was just that the song was something we had in common. It was a collective release, the unifying calm after the storm.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Victories, pyrrhic victories, and all-out fuckups

1. As part of our program to acclimate Cairo the Three-Legged Carsick Dog to riding in the car, we've been taking him on short jaunts to the convenience store (about 5 minutes each way). He'd been doing well on those, so yesterday we tried taking him to the county seat (about 14 minutes each way). We stopped once on the way there, then once in town. Each time we let him run and play so he could get some fresh air. He was doing great--not even drooling much when the car was moving. Then we headed home. We tried to stop at a park on the way back, but it was closed. We had no choice but to continue home. About 45 seconds later, he threw up. Today he wouldn't even get in the car to go to the convenience store. Back to square one.

2. I've been getting a lot of work done on the house. But yesterday, while painting, I apparently splattered paint on one of my beautiful three-week old dining room curtains. I wasn't working anywhere near the window--that would have been stupid. But I somehow splattered paint four or five feet away! Arrrrgghhhh...back to the store. I hope they have more of the same kind. I suck, I suck, I suck!

3. Learn from my mistakes: If you store corn syrup and Indian spices on the same shelving unit, do NOT, I repeat do NOT knock the shelving unit over. This morning I found out exactly how much fun it is to clean up a mixture of corn syrup, broken glass, garam masala, and mustard seeds. I would almost rather have cleaned up after the Exxon Valdez.

4. Since the shelving unit was off the pantry door (albeit in a rather unplanned manner), I painted the door. The color I chose for the pantry is a buttery yellow--an attempt to keep something close to the original color it was when we found it. (I like to put little historic touches in old houses.) The s.o. walked by, eyeballed it, and said, "That reminds me of something...what is it, what is it...banana Laffy Taffy!" Then, just as I was despairing, he added, "I love it."

Thursday, October 14, 2004


I had a great evening. I thought bartending today meant I'd miss the final presidential debate, but that wasn't the case. The soundman ran the audio of the debate through the club sound system while we watched it on the TV screen. He even pushed back the band performance schedule to accommodate it. The candidates' voices boomed loud and clear, with a slight touch of reverb.

"I like this, but I do think it's a little creepy," said my friend J.

I had the privilege of watching the debate with the lovely and friendly members of an Australian guitar-pop band. We talked a bunch of politics--about our election, their recent election, and a lot of other issues. I had no idea that the Australian Liberal Party is actually conservative. I also didn't know there were so few Aboriginal people left. It was so interesting to compare notes and exchange views. I wonder why I always seem to get along so well with Australians?

The s.o. asked me to stop and buy office supplies at Wal-Mart on my way home. There's a nighttime greeter there, an old guy with oversized dentures, who knows me by sight because I come in sometimes after working at the bar. (Wal-Mart, hideous and evil though it is, gets a little bit of my business because it's open 24 hours and nothing else is.) Tonight he stopped me on my way out and asked me where I got my Anniston Bowling Center t-shirt.

"I got it at a thrift shop in Alabama," I answered. "It was either in Anniston or in Oxford, I can't remember which."

"Oxford, Alabama!" he repeated. "I was named after a man from that town. It's quite a name I got, not an easy one to pronounce."

His nametag said "I.J." He flipped it over and showed me that his full first name was Iolus.

"Eye-olus?" I attempted.

"Nope," he said. "Ollie-us."


"Yep, Ollie-us," he affirmed. "It was me and a little black boy who got named after that fella. The little black boy died. They allus said it was the name that kilt 'im."

I retold the story to the s.o. when I got home. We agreed that if we ever get another sweet, goofy boy dog, we should name him Iolus. I hope I can get past my aversion to aphonetic names* and do exactly that.


* I began developing this aversion in the 1980s, when I first heard Isiah Thomas's name pronounced out loud.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Ye Olde Manor Menu has undergone a major makeover. Stop by if you haven't for a while.

In the process of making it over, I inadvertently nuked all the old comments. I could probably get them back, but eh. It's not as though it was Grand Central Station over there anyhow!

Monday, October 11, 2004

Spectacular in a country sort of way

If you want to know how to bring a small town to a grinding halt, here it is: Flip a log truck on its side in the main intersection, spilling long pine logs everywhere.

This is a thinker. How did the driver manage to do this? The speed limit at that intersection is 35 miles per hour. Either he's some rare breed of superidiot, or he's about to get one hell of a traffic citation. Maybe both.

Under cover of darkness

1. I'm walking our dog Silver at 2 a.m. in the back yard on a moonless night, with only a distant porch light to illuminate my path. From the powdery, granular collapsing sensation, I know immediately what I've stepped in. There is no solution except to rudely interrupt Silver's sniffing around and scramble back to the porch, where I frantically brush the fire ants off my foot. Ow! Dammit! Calamine lotion, here I come.

2. I'm driving home from the bar at 1:20 a.m. Saturday (or actually Sunday, I suppose) after the football game. It has been a night of drunken revelry for thousands of fans, despite the fact that the local team lost.

The car coming the opposite direction has only one working headlight, which the driver blinks on and off at me, trying to tell me something--possibly that there is a DUI roadblock ahead. I don't waver; I am sober as a judge and want to get home as quickly and directly as possible. A quarter-mile later, I round a curve and see a confusion of blue police lights. I come to a stop and soon find that the line of cars in front of me isn't moving. More emergency vehicles--fire trucks, ambulances, and pickup trucks driven by volunteer firemen--are arriving every minute. There has obviously been a terrible crash.

I wait there 35 minutes. A couple of cars leave the line and double back, but for me there is no easy alternate route. After a while a couple of cops walk by, pointing flashlights into the shadows. "We might have to get these vehicles out of the area," one says, gesticulating and me and my fellow idlers, "so we can see where the scene starts." But the other spots something about 30 feet back on the road and points. "There," he says. "There's where he crossed the line. And then he started yawing."

Eventually I see a stretcher rolled to one of the ambulances. I see a man's feet. Nobody is hurrying.

Soon the vehicles start to leave the scene. A police car guides our line of cars around the wreckage. It looks as though a bomb has gone off. There is glass and metal everywhere. I slow for a moment to gawk at what was once a pickup truck, twisted and sheared along the side of the road. I can't see what the driver hit, only that he hit something very, very fast and hard.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

A question for my British readers

What do you call an English muffin?

Is it just a "muffin"? And if so, what do you call a muffin?

The s.o. and I brainstormed on possible English names for English muffins, and this is what we came up with:

Scottish muffin
Old Bean
crumpet gone wrong
breakfast puck**
back muffin***

Silly, aren't we? Still, I need to know the answer or I won't sleep tonight.


* Why not? Cookies are called that, after all.

** Do the British even play hockey? Still, our favorite option.

*** See "Canadian bacon" = "back bacon"

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Local holiday

Is there any occasion that excites an area's populace--especially the more monetarily challenged members of the populace--more than the opening of the first Goodwill store?

We'd been poking our heads in the door for weeks. It was huge and I could see racks and racks of shoes, clothes, and housewares. They were untouched. They were not picked over. "October 7th," the employees said to us. "It's our grand opening. Tell your friends!"

Like hell we'd tell our friends. Why should we invite competition? No, we and we alone were going to show up at 9 AM sharp, the moment the new thrift store opened, and ransack the place.

Things don't always go according to plan. At 7:30 this morning I brought a cup of coffee to the still-sleeping s.o. He grunted at me and rolled over, covering his eyes with the pillow. I gently asked him if he wanted some coffee. "I'm not going," he moaned. (We're night people. It was a miracle I was up, frankly.)

So no company on this trip. Okay, I thought, I'll live. I fed and walked the dogs, combed my hair, slugged down the coffee (it was mine now!), got in the car, and drove. On my way, I formulated a plan. I've learned, from occasionally visiting sample sales and the like, to have a coherent strategy for potentially hectic retail events. Mine went like this:

(1) Grab a cart. (These are referred to as "buggies" in the south, but I staunchly refuse to use that ridiculous word.)

(2) Dart directly to shoe rack. Grab all likely-looking shoes in my size.

(3) Without trying on shoes, wheel cart to coat and jacket section. Look for a fall jacket.

(4) Try on shoes.

(5) Cruise housewares, books, and blouses.

I arrived at 8:57 AM. The parking lot was completely jammed with cars. People were already streaming in the door. Argh! What ever happened to opening the doors when you say you will? Maybe my car clock is slow.

I ran in and followed my plan to the letter. The only hitch was, by the time I was satisfied, the check-out lines were never-ending. There were five of them and they stretched most of the length of the store, winding between the racks and sometimes even forking. It took all my interviewing skills to ascertain where the ends of the lines were. I decided to shop some more, hoping that the lines would die down. This proved to be a bad idea, because the lines didn't get any smaller and suddenly we heard talk of the credit-card machines not working. Eventually the machines were working again, sort of.

I gave up and chose a line. I stood in it for 50 minutes. The blouses, shorts, and sweaters on the racks near me stopped being interesting after the tenth perusal. But it was worth it in the end. Here's what I got:

• 2 pairs high-heeled black shoes with closed toes; one pointy, one rounded

• 1 pair pointy tan mules

• 1 pair pink suede buckled flats

(If you haven't figured it out yet, I adore shoes in an almost Carrie Bradshaw-like way.)

• 1 black suede shirt-jacket

• 1 very flattering sheerish black blouse

• 1 fluffy white scarf thing that the s.o. and I are referring to as "the Thneed"

• 2 books for the s.o. to sell in his eBay business

• 1 really good-looking pan-Asian cookbook

• 1 of those fish-shaped grilling basket thingies that you clamp a fish into and grill it over a fire

A success, I'd say.

After that, I got some lunch (I was starving, as you can imagine, because I didn't have breakfast) and then stopped by Michael's Crafts to get nice frames for four of our posters. The one I'm most looking forward to putting up is a vintage New Order poster (the one with the vibrantly blue flower on it--I'm sure you can picture it if you were into them at the time) that is going to be the visual focal point of our already very blue kitchen. I do like decorating--just not sanding and painting!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

House drudgery

Last night the homeowner on In a Fix got his "It's All My Fault" t-shirt caught in a belt sander. Luckily, he managed to turn it off before it abraded him to death.

Almost as dangerous, perhaps, is the slow grinding-down of the soul that's caused by a major renovation project. The s.o. hit his low early, while he was rewiring the house. All those hours in grimy, infested crawl spaces pushed him almost to the brink, and understandably so. Now, as we finish the cosmetic portions of the remodel (the part I'm in charge of), it's me against the cosmic emery board.

Shows like In a Fix are both inspirational and agonizing. Yes: It's doable. But no: I will not be able to finish this renovation in three days the way they do. Even three months is pushing it, and even then we can't afford to refinish the floors. Nani! James! Sparky! Come help me, for god's sake! What do you mean you don't film your show in rural Georgia?

Sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And the house seems to deteriorate almost as fast as we can spruce it up. I just finished re-adhering the wallpaper that was peeled off by Hurricane Ivan. It shrank when it got wet, and now the edges don't quite meet. I'm looking for a ruby-colored crayon or marker or something to disguise the tiny gap. Shit! I could be spending this time sanding or painting.

I would give almost anything to be done with this project. But the reality is that after I've spent a long day writing and editing, I'll squeeze in a pitiful hour or two of painting that will be marred by my inability to avoid splattering paint in places where it's not supposed to go. There will be cursing and despair. I'm treading water when I should be swimming a 100-meter dash.

Saturday, October 02, 2004


Today has been absolutely beautiful--sunny, warmish, a touch of fall in the air. So miraculously, I got off my ass and finished mulching the herb garden. While I was moving wheelbarrows of mulch around, I discovered what I think was one of these. At first it looked like a strip of old wet rubber tire, but then it moved. I picked it up in a plant pot and moved it to safety.

Lizards, as much as I love them, are an everyday occurrence here. I probably saw three or four of them this morning alone (on the car, on the steps, in the garden, etc.). But a salamander! That's some weird nature.

And here's the proof

First, here's my gorgeous brother and his gorgeous wife, cutting the wedding cake. I'm so proud!

And then here's the Oscars gown on G.'s grandma. Isn't it something? She looks beautiful.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Itinerary, part deux

Saturday, Sept. 25

• 5:45 p.m. - Photos are taken. We smile so much our cheeks hurt. I see a snapshot that a relative took at the same time as the photographer shot his, and I look...short. Just really short. G. is six-foot-four and his bride is five-eleven. At only five-seven, I think of myself as being tallish, but I look as though I'm standing in a hole. Meanwhile, I look around and notice that G.'s grandmother (my step-grandmother) is wearing the most spectacular outfit in the room. It's a crisp, airy, iridescent pink organza number that wouldn't be out of place at the Oscars. I hope I still have that much style when I'm in my eighties!

• 7:00 p.m. - In two shifts, the bridal party piles into a real, honest-to-goodness black stretch limo and is transported half a block to the hotel reception hall.

• 7:15 p.m. - G. is a little stressed out because the band isn't here. They were supposed to show up at 5:00 or so to set up, but they're nowhere to be seen. The attendees are all milling around in the reception hall and getting drinks from the bar, but there is an odd silence. Shrugging, G. turns his attention to the matter at hand--our grand entrance into the room. He collars his friend Phil, who has had a few drinks, and surprises him with a microphone and a sheet of paper. Phil is on MC duty.

• 7:20 p.m. - The bridal party mills aimlessly around in the entranceway because none of us has any idea how we're going to be asked to proceed into the room. Especially puzzling is the fact that there are five groomsmen but only four bridesmaids. As Phil starts introducing couples, we find we're all lined up backwards and have to do some elbowing and fumbling to get re-organized. Then Phil announces me and I suddenly discover I am to proceed into the room with a man on each arm--and G. has gone out of his way to pick his two best-looking friends to escort me. I laugh to myself: This must be what it's like to be escorted onto the stage of The Graham Norton Effect. The similarity hasn't escaped my Northern-Irish cousin-in-law's notice, either. He takes me aside and says, "Now all you need is a really flaming Irishman to ask you a lot of embarrassing questions."

• 7:45 p.m. - The band shows up, loads in, and starts playing loudly and inappropriately just as the women in K.'s family are performing a beautiful traditional Slovak ceremony of replacing her bridal veil with a white flower.

• 8:00 p.m. till very late - From here on, it's what you'd expect: great food, lots of hugs, a cake-cutting with the obligatory stuffing of cake in each other's mouths, a drunken bridesmaid (not me!), slightly embarrassing parental dancing, and happy fatigue. G. and K. eventually wave and exit because they have an early flight to Mexico in the morning. Real joy and still more hugs.

Sunday, Sept. 26

• 11:15 a.m. - Mom and stepdad take me and the s.o. to an outrageously expensive but decadent brunch at Pickwick & Frolic. Among the items before me are a slice of prime rib and a bowl of Bananas Foster. Wow. We stagger out in a food coma.

• 1:00 p.m. - On our way out of town to visit my grandparents, the s.o. and I go to Jacobs Field and watch the Twins beat the Indians. It's the last home game of the season, yet the crowd is unfailingly polite--nothing like those rowdy Georgians!

And that's the weekend that was...

Thursday, September 30, 2004

All hail...

...to Frito-Lay's Sabritas peanuts with salt and lime, the best snack food on earth.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Friday, Sept. 24

• 1:30 p.m. - We check into the downtown Cleveland Marriott. I allow the valets to take my car, shuddering slightly at the cost because I'm not used to anything nicer than a Ramada Inn. We're given a corner room on the ninth floor, with a beautiful view that includes the church where the wedding will take place.

• 1:40 p.m. - I ascertain that, contrary to my expectations, not a single other soul in the wedding party is currently on the premises. The s.o. and I lie down for a nap.

• 6:30 p.m. - A limo bus arrives to transport the wedding party and various hangers-on to the church (which is, yes, less than one block away, but this is an elegant wedding and we are not expected to walk around outdoors in our high heels). We rehearse. One bridesmaid arrives late, panting and sweating, because she drove straight from work and mistakenly went to a Catholic church six blocks away.

• 7:40 p.m. - We all pile into the limo bus and are treated to an unexpected tour of Cleveland because our restaurant reservation isn't until 8:15.

• 8:15 p.m. - We take our seats at Mallorca, where really attractive Spanish waiters start pouring massive amounts of sangria and bringing out fabulous appetizers. Even the bride's and groom's mothers comment on how cute the waiters are. My stepfather and the bride's brother each eat their weight in mussels. We ponder: chocolate cake, flan, or rum cake?

• 11:00 p.m. - We finally get back to the hotel. I iron my shirt for the next morning, then paint my fingernails and toenails. I lie on the bed and the s.o. carefully covers me with a blanket from my ankles to my chest. I fall asleep while air-drying.

Saturday, Sept. 25

• 10:00 a.m. - I request my car from the valets and zoom out onto the highway, following a set of directions the bride had given me the previous night. I get lost because I'm too tired to follow them properly. Eventually I arrive at Mario's, ten minutes late for my 10:30 hair appointment. Two other bridesmaids are already there, drinking mimosas and waiting for their toenails to dry. A hairstylist picks up a lock of my hair, clucks a few times, and starts setting it on rollers. An hour and a half later I emerge with an elaborate Audrey Hepburn-worthy updo.

• 1:00 p.m. - We get into cabs with Mom, my stepdad, G., and three of G's friends and are taken to Great Lakes Brewing Co., where we can't get a suitable table in the restaurant because there's been a massive influx of people since Mom telephoned. We opt to eat from the bar menu downstairs. I have lager, Stilton cheese soup, and two massive pierogies. It holds me till dinnertime, which is really saying something.

• 4:00 p.m. - I defy the ever-present limo van and walk across the street to the church. Because I'm there before the rest of the bridesmaids, I get to see G. and his groomsmen before they disappear into their dressing room. They look really sharp. G isn't showing signs of nervousness, but I wouldn't expect him to, considering that he has performed surgeries.

• 4:10 p.m. - K. arrives with her dress. The salon has woven her long, dark hair into a low, loose chignon. She looks like a brunette Evita. The dress is spectacular--a long, smooth swath of champagne-colored heavy silk. The bodice is beaded and has little off-the-shoulder cap sleeves. The maid of honor helps K. step into the dress while the bride's mother pins flowers in everyone's hair. People keep barging in while we're half-undressed.

• 5:00 p.m. - The church's "wedding wrangler" gives me a little shove, and I step out into the waiting congregation. Why did they make me go first?!

• 5:15 p.m. - G. and K. say their vows. G's voice warbles slightly at first, but he gets hold of himself quickly.

• 5:23 p.m. - The minister pronounces G. and K. husband and wife. They kiss, and out of the corner of my eye I see my first stepdad (G.'s father) burst into tears. I have been fighting tears myself for, oh, about 20 minutes, but this sends me over the edge.

To be continued...