Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Anxiety dream

You wouldn't think I'd have them, would you? I mean, I've gone out of my way to create the most stress-free life possible. But still my subconscious mind can find things to torture me with.

This morning I got a phone call from my optometrist, telling me my new contact lenses were ready and could be picked up Friday. I took down the appointment in my planner and went back to bed because I have to work until closing time at the bar tonight.

About an hour later, the phone rang again. I started awake. I was covered in a clammy sweat. I didn't pick up the phone. I was too disoriented from what I had just experienced:

I'm working at the bar. The sole has come off one of my boots, leaving one of my legs an inch shorter than the other. I can't see properly through my contacts--now that I think about it, they're like the testing lenses I had to put on at the optometrist's last week, which corrected only my nearsightedness and not my (considerable) astigmatism. I'm getting a blinding headache and can't focus on anything.

I'm working a special event upstairs. Instead of the bar I'm used to, there's a folding table with a money box. The credit card machine is unavailable. There are no soda guns or reach-in coolers. All of the products are unfamiliar.

A woman with a small child (!?) approaches the table. The woman says her son would like another cup of juice, the kind that "has red things on the bottle." He would like a lime in it. I search around and can't find anything, so I'm forced to stagger across the room to a stand-up cooler with some drinks in it. I blunder around and find a bottle of pomegranate juice (!?) labeled in Russian (!?) that fits the description and limp back over to my table with it. But just as I approach the people, it slips from my grasp and shatters on the floor...

I'm mighty glad to be awake again, let me tell you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

In brief

Two actors who are perfectly good, but who freak me out because they look so much like my ex:

1. Josh Hartnett
2. Ethan Hawke

And, completely unrelated to the above, something I learned last night that I never in a million years would have suspected:

There is such a thing as a pecan truffle. (If you see someone scratching around in the back yard with a garden rake, it's me.)

Monday, June 28, 2004

Go ask Alice

After the monsoon du jour, which involved high winds that knocked down a nearby oak branch big enough to kill a person, I went for a stroll.

Mushrooms have popped up everywhere. I mean, it's like Alice in freaking Wonderland out there. I'm considering joining a wild-mushrooming society that's based in Atlanta, or at the very least buying a couple of really good field guides and talking to the bio department, because I want to learn more about them and don't necessarily trust my own identification skills (even though I have a Master's degree in paleontology that involved quite a bit of animal and plant identification, as you can well imagine). I've seen 15, 20, maybe even 30 species out there, and surely some of them have to be gourmet-quality. There's one that looks suspiciously like an oyster mushroom and even grows in the right kind of environment, e.g., on downed tree branches. There's another that starts out like an elf-cap and then explodes into a big white starburst. There are puffballs, clusters of delicate little umbrellas, minature trumpets, big brown bread loaves, and amorphous twisty things. I'm fascinated by them all.

Linguistics is a funny thing. Even though it's been shown that people poisoned by mushrooms are almost always folks who just matched their quarry with a photo (if that) and didn't bother to read the accompanying text, I'm still duly petrified by wild mushrooms. The mere mention of something called a "Death Cap" or, even more horrifyingly, a "Destroying Angel," is enough to send me scrambling in the opposite direction and give me nightmares for a week. Yet you can bet if I found a single morel, I'd spend the entire rest of the day in the woods looking for its compadres. So caution is the watchword, but I am definitely interested in broadening my knowledge.


We spent an hour today hiking through the woods and collecting mushrooms for spore prints. We also spent a lot of time reading on the internet and found a couple of articles on the most easy-to-identify edible mushrooms in the U.S. It turns out that there are a few select species that, as long as you RTFM, are almost impossible to mistake. We have puffballs and chanterelles (and maybe-probably the aforementioned oysters)! Next time I have a chance, I'm going to grab a couple of each and take them to the university to make sure I'm right. Then it's cookin' time...


Meanwhile, Jonny B., in commenting on my last post, inadvertently reminded me that I ought to do something about the condition of my herb garden. So I went out and took the tops off my gigantic oregano plant. I'm air-drying the cuttings in my kitchen, and I don't think I'll want for dried oregano for a long while. This is especially true since I don't use dried oregano unless the weather outside is so incredibly unpleasant that I don't want to step out the back door and clip some fresh oregano. It even winters over here, so I have access to fresh oregano in January. Maybe I'll give the dried stuff to my friends.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Rumble rumble...

...And the newest monsoon rolls in, just in time to save me from turning on the irrigation again.

The garden is happy and healthy. There are bugs and slugs all over it, but they can't keep up with the exuberant growth. There's enough for everyone.

In addition to our cute baby eggplant, there are several blossoms which will be eggplants in the near future.

The squash vines are huge and are sporting innumerable flowers and several bona fide minature yellow crookneck squashes. Give it a week and we will be eating them.

We harvested three tomatoes today, and there are too many green ones to count. I may even make some fried green tomatoes soon, since we have enough to spare.

I topped the marigolds that edge the garden because they were impinging on the light for the peppers. And lo and behold, I found that one of the banana pepper plants has two blossoms on it.

Some radishes escaped our notice a while back and are now the size of turnips. I wonder if they are still good to eat? And we still have turnips, too. They are amazing plants. If I were a pioneer who had to fend completely for myself, I would plant as many turnips as possible because they provide so many greens and root vegetables for zero effort.

We are drowning in cabbage and collards! I ate so many collards last night that I had a stomachache the whole time I was at work.

The summer lettuce didn't germinate. There is one--count it--one head of lettuce growing, and the rest is weeds. I think it's too hot. The same problem has plagued our latest planting of carrots, although one of the varieties is moderately successful anyway. It must be hardier than the rest.

This is the best garden I've ever had. As much as I complain about bugs and weeds and varmints, I'm really impressed by how much of our own food we've been able to grow so far. I love it. It's something I've always wanted, and it's just as fulfilling as I'd hoped it would be.

Saturday, June 26, 2004


I just awoke from a short nap. Actually, "awoke" may be too strong a word. I'm upright now, but my brain hasn't started functioning yet. You can do sneaky things to yourself when you're like that. I've managed to do a drainer-full of dishes and put some clothes in the laundry without even realizing I'm engaging in drudgery.

I needed the nap because I have to work downtown tonight. I got up way too early this morning to walk Cairo, then noticed that it was one of the most beautiful mornings in recorded history: cool, breezy, flower-fragranced, light clouds with dappled sun. That was my cue to finally plant those wax beans I'd been meaning to plant all this time. And so I did. I also gathered some lovely mixed greens--collards, kale, and turnip greens--for our dinner. But the sleep deficit isn't doing me a bit of good.

There is one tiny baby eggplant out there! I actually said "Awwww" out loud when I saw it.

Tonight is the last night I'm working with the PFB. No comment.

The coffeeshop guys haven't called me back yet about the pastries. I keep meaning to call them, but haven't managed to do so. No comment on that either.

Friday, June 25, 2004


Further proof (as if we needed it) that this guy is a raging asshole with only the thinnest veneer of civility.

Reuters U.S. reported the item similarly, but most American media outlets seemed to prefer the more indirectly-worded CNN and AP versions. The average reader says "Halliburton, blah, blah, blah...okay, I'm bored...hmph," and turns the page.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Two thumbs up

Tonight we went out to see the movie Saved!. It was fantastic and so very, very funny. I think everyone in the theatre enjoyed it, but I may have enjoyed it more than most. I was the one with the inappropriate barking laugh at times when other people in the room were silent. Yep, that was me.

The Christian Right has had a field day with this movie, but I think they're reacting in a knee-jerk fashion to the subject matter and to the fact that Michael Stipe was on the production team. It's actually a fairly warm and fuzzy film. It doesn't make fun of Christians so much as it makes fun of hypocrites who use Christianity as a way to feel superior to others. In my book, hypocrites are always a legitimate target.

One thing that struck me about it was the fact that teenagers looked like teenagers in it. Bad hair, bad skin, etc. No attempt to idealize them or make them into glamorous little adults.

And as for Patrick Fugit, all I can say is: My, how he's grown since Almost Famous! I didn't recognize him. He's adorable. It's probably inappropriate for me to say that, but there it is.


Last night's "monsoon" was a humdinger, and it came complete with a fantastic lightning storm. Around 7 pm, our lights flickered off briefly, then clicked on again. Then they kept flickering off occasionally for the rest of the night. The TV news revealed that a big chunk of Atlanta had lost power, so we were lucky out in the country!

The spookiest part was taking Silver out. I waited until the rain diminished to a tolerable level, then walked her out toward the woods. In the back yard, we have a public-works floodlight on a pole (no, we don't know why; it seems like an incredibly unlikely place for one). The s.o. wishes it ill and contemplates throwing rocks at it, but I like having it because on moonless nights it makes walking the dogs a lot less unnerving. But what's really unnerving is being all the way out there, adjacent to coyotes and bobcats and who knows what-all, and suddenly having the light go off. And I could hear the transformers humming and crackling for miles around.



"Uh oh... Hey, wait, why's the house still lit up?"


"Never mind."

One of my birthday presents from my mother (who actually had her birthday yesterday...hi Mom!) was a little red L.L. Bean Grundig radio. You wind it up for 30 seconds and the dynamo keeps it running for half an hour. It has terrific reception and an emergency light, so even though our power remained on for the most part, we kept it handy and listened to NPR on it.

On the down side, the battery in my laptop is dead and has been dead for quite some time, so during the first power-down, a perfectly good e-mail was obliterated just as I was about to send it. I gave up and unplugged the computer--for safety's sake--for the next several hours.

One mostly unrelated electronic casualty was my Hello Kitty alarm clock. I was resetting the time and a piece of plastic inside it broke, causing the button I was pushing to plunge inward and become irretrievable. I unplugged it and opened it up with a screwdriver, and it was immediately apparent what was wrong. However, unless I want to spend a lot of time with superglue and then have it break again anyway, it's not fixable. I am contemplating buying a new Hello Kitty alarm clock (there are a ton of different models, believe me), but the s.o. seems to think I ought to buy something that's not powder-pink and covered in cartoon kitties and flowers. Hmm...

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Farm report

After a parched spring, we are now having a summer of monsoons. I think I carried some rain back from Ohio when I visited. (Although I didn't bring it so much as spread it around; in Ohio they are still underwater.)

Everything is exuberant. Even though we still haven't put up the deer fence, the deer have stopped bothering the garden so much because it's no longer an oasis in the desert. Mowing is merely a stopgap measure to keep the weeds from strangling us in our sleep.

The marigolds and lantanas are going crazy with eye-popping yellows and oranges. Tree-wise, the mimosas have finished blooming and the crepe myrtles have begun their several-month-long stand. Our hanging baskets are full of begonias and petunias. The elephant ears are starting to become as large as their name would imply.

In the garden, the chard has recovered fully from being eaten by deer, the squashes and eggplants are blooming (with giant bees buzzing in the blossoms), cabbages are ripe and are being made into slaw, the corn is knee-high, and I have just harvested my first Lemon Boy tomato. It is delicious.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

We fear change

The s.o. and I hung out at the bar last night because one of the employees who's a longtime friend of the s.o.'s was playing a solo show upstairs. Something seemed "off" when we got there...I couldn't put my finger on it. And then I heard the whispers: the head doorguy (who was also a bartender) had gotten fired.

ARRRGGHHHHH! Okay, this is bad. This guy is an institution, and he's someone I have spent a hell of a lot of time talking to because I really enjoy his company--plus he was usually stationed out on the patio, which is the only place you can hold a coherent conversation when there are live bands playing.

I shuffled out onto the aforementioned patio and spent some time talking with the owner. He was not happy about having to fire the guy. He's a friend, a valued colleague. "[Boss's name]," I said to him crestfallenly, "I fear change."

"Me too," he sighed back.

Let's take a tally, shall we? In the space of one month, we have lost/are losing the following people:

(1) The couple we had the going-away party for when they moved to New Orleans. (Technically, only the guy was an employee, but the gal was just as much of a loss. I mean, half the graffiti on the walls of the ladies' restrooms are hers, including my favorite, which says "I'll take the whole team for the team.")

(2) One soundman, a 15-year friend of the s.o.'s, who is moving back to Alabama on the same day the PFB is heading to Memphis.

(3) The PFB. (Have completely lost the ability to contemplate this. Too terrible.)

(4) The head doorguy.

We have also gained a few people, obviously, or we would be in a bad fix right now:

(1) The band-booking woman, who is now also a bartender and is a very cool human being. She's my kind of person and obviously has really great taste in music. Chalk one up for us...this is a good change.

(2) The owner's wife, who in a surprise move has been added to the bartender roster. This is wonderful (I really liked her when I met her at Christmas, and of course anyone married to our owner must be delightfully twisted in some way I haven't yet discovered) but of course it means my "consolation prize" of more money will likely not be materializing. Oh, well. I keep waffling on whether I want to work more hours or not, anyhow. She who waffles...something something something.

(3) One doorguy who seems really nice (and who is appropriately large and tattooed and mean-looking) but whose name I keep forgetting.

So there you have it--I'm not one of the new kids anymore! Never mind the fact that (as I admitted last night to the owner) I still can't remember all the end-of-the-night procedures, because every time I learn them it's, like, a month before I do them again.

"That's cool," the owner said. "It's all written down, anyway--you can look it up. And J. or I can always help you. I'd rather have you admit you don't know than fuck me over."

Words to live by. In fact, I think I have lived by them quite a lot in my time.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Imminent departure

My favorite coworker--aside from my best friend J.--is moving to Memphis in a week. We have a special relationship, this coworker and I. We are PFBs, Platonic Flirt Buddies. It won't be the same working at the bar without him.

The PFB is a friend of both me and the s.o. He's a bit younger than we are and he looks sort of like the grown-up Macaulay Culkin. He likes and respects us both (we've even talked about all three going on vacation to Holland together) and that's why I can depend on him 100 percent as a PFB. No matter how cute we act around one another, the fact of the matter is that I can trust him anytime to walk me to my car without getting weird, creepy, or touchy-feely. We consider each other adorable, but it's not like that. I can have real conversations with him--about emotions, personal histories, relationships, whatever--with no uncomfortable overtones or expectations. It's beautiful because it's the polar opposite of just about everything happening on the other side of the bar.

Last night was busy, hot, and crowded. The PFB and I worked on the same floor of the bar and clowned around. He accidentally poured half a Guinness on me (and I think it really was an accident). He asked me to hose him down with the water dispenser and I sprayed him straight in the face (oops!). After closing we talked about growing up in and around a university thanks to our parents' respective jobs. I was a good girl who followed Mommy to classes, and he was a rotten little nine-year-old thief asking grown-ups for spare change in the student union. It brought a smile to my face.

This is what's about to stop when the PFB moves to Memphis in one week. I like everyone who works at the bar, but he's irreplaceable. I'm glum. It's not even any consolation that J. has told me I'll probably end up getting more work once he's gone. I'd rather keep working a dodgy swing shift every week and have my PFB to talk to.

Change always comes whether we like it or not, doesn't it? Well, I'll survive. And as the s.o. keeps telling me, "Memphis sucks. He'll be back."

Saturday, June 19, 2004

What's in a name?

Last night at the music festival, I saw just about everyone I know. It was incredible...every time I turned a corner, there was a friend. I took in a ton of great live music and drank more than I usually do (which still isn't really that much) and somehow thought it was a good idea to call the s.o. at 2:30 AM just to tell him I was still out (which he knew). I woke him up, of course. Oops.

I got to thinking, over the course of the evening, how lucky I was to have parents who named me Jamie. When I was young I didn't like my name because it was often a boy's name. Several times I showed up at summer camp only to find that the counselors had saved me a bunk in the boys' cabin. Humiliating. The Bionic Woman was named Jaime, and that was potentially cool, but in the end it only resulted in misspellings and unfavorable comparisons.

In the 1980s, suddenly my name got very trendy for girls (thanks to Helen Hunt's character on Mad About You, maybe?). I'd be walking around in a grocery store and hear someone call out "Jamie!" and it wasn't for me--it was for some four-year-old blonde girl. Over time, the name has developed into a pleasantly sexy, yet intellectual name that I can really inhabit. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Some of the people I know and love have not been so lucky. I have friends--all of whom I saw last night--named Tiffanie, Brittany, and Candy. There's an Ashley, too, but she goes by her middle name instead. Not one of them fits the stereotype of her name. Tiffanie is a delightfully sarcastic brunette with a Ph.D. in art history. Brittany is a talented photographer who looks like a lanky Clara Bow. Candy is a recovering-hippie business student who has a Great Dane named Sampson. And not-Ashley is a trash-talking tough girl--so much so that when people encounter her online, they always assume she's a guy.

I think maybe a lot of people are stuck with the task of living down their names. The s.o. has a name that many people automatically associate with rednecks, and he has expended considerable effort to avoid meeting that expectation.

I am just glad I haven't had to try that hard. And when I see things like this, I feel doubly lucky.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Well, that sucked

We just spent a day and a half with no internet service. Yesterday they admitted it was down for our whole area. For most of today, they told me it was fixed when it actually wasn't. Then, after they had finally promised to send someone to the house, it was mysteriously resolved elsewhere (the server? the line?).

Oh, well. At least it is fixed. And I can't really complain...we are absolutely bleeding-edge, having cable internet this far out in the boondocks. We got the service within two weeks of when they first offered it. I think they are still working out some of the kinks.

In other news, there is absolutely no other news. I spent most of the day watching TV (although, to my credit, I did do the dishes). To give you an idea of my torpor level, I actually watched the E! True Hollywood Story of both the Spice Girls and N'Sync. Jesus.

I think I might go downtown tonight for the music festival.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Flaky and half-baked, pt. 2

I had a meeting with the owner of the coffee shop this morning. He was younger than he'd sounded on the phone, probably my age. (Even as I reach my mid-thirties, I continue to expect business owners to be older than me...after all, you have to be a grown-up to do something like that, right?) He explained that he had been up past 3:00 AM and apologized several times for not having shaved. He was not in the mood for sweets. I think he might have been hung over.

Despite all that, I think things went pretty well. The employee who sat in on the meeting devoured half a brownie tart and looked ready for more. The owner thought the tarts and the baklava looked appealing, and he also liked the "homemade" look of my pies. He even said it was reasonable that my scones cost more than a competitor's, because they looked nicer. I left my big plastic container of goodies with them so they could snack on the contents when the mood struck them. The owner said he'd contact me after this weekend's big music festival.

He talked about a three-times-a-week delivery schedule. I think I have a shot at at least placing a couple of products with them! Could it be?

*she shudders, thinking of the tax and licensing garble she'll have to wade through*

Still, could it be??

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

In five

I can't believe the Lakers are getting their asses handed to them by the Pistons! Shaq looks so lonely out there. Won't somebody help a man out?

Meanwhile...Chauncey Billups. Chauncey Billups. Chauncey Billups.

I just like to say that.

Clean bill of health

I took Cairo to the veterinary orthopedic surgeon this morning for follow-up x-rays of his remaining hind leg. The vet showed me an old x-ray for comparison, then the new one. It is amazing how much the bones have remodeled themselves in just one month. The tibia and fibula look almost completely normal now; there's just a very minor kink. Nothing like the mass of amorphous bone that was there before.

So the vet said Cairo can do all the normal dog things he wants to do: running, tug-of-war, wrestling Silver, hunting the cat, etc. He will probably always have some stiffness in his hip and knee, but he moves great and (as always) has tons of enthusiasm. He's good to go and we're so proud of him!

He did get carsick again, though. Tagamet, Shmagamet. *sigh*

When I had to take the car out later in the day, I pulled the barf towel out and hung it on a sawhorse in the back yard to dry out. The s.o. didn't notice it and stuck his hand right in the dog puke when he went out to do some work. I apologized a bunch of times, but I don't know if it sounded sincere because I was laughing too hard.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Flight of the bumblebee

Yow! Baklava is not a wise choice for breakfast. I feel as if I drank a whole cooler of that McDonald's orange drink they serve at kids' parties. Bzzzzz.....

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Flaky and half-baked

There's a coffee shop in town that's looking to carry some new (and presumably better) pastries. Before I left on my trip last week, my friend J. introduced me to the company president and raved about my pies. So now I have a pastry tasting/business meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning. Never mind that I was imagining a two- or three-year plan for starting a bakery. They want to see me now.

This means lots of prototyping to make sure I put my best foot forward. So today, in the throes of an uncommonly hot and humid afternoon, I am up to my ass in baklava, scones, and brownie tarts. Most of it is turning out really well. Some needs a little more polishing. Meanwhile, my computer is humming with cost spreadsheets and sales literature.

The s.o. is working on our long-neglected dining room. He's been a blur of activity--scraping flaky old paint off the beadboard on the ceiling, mudding drywall joints, sanding mouldings. "I am so almost done," he said just now, as he sat down with a beer.

I would like to help him, but tonight I have to write a short article. So much for my vacation!

Friday, June 11, 2004

Things I learned in Ohio this week

My grandfather had a fainting spell with very low blood pressure and dehydration, and no one at the hospital can figure out why. (He seems okay now, but we're all a little uneasy.)

I can still find my way around North Canton, but I'm pretty lost in Akron.

My mother's bathroom scale is calibrated eight to ten pounds too light, and I don't think she knows it.

Venison chops are possibly even more delicious than venison steaks.

My cousin has a nose ring, and I don't think my aunt liked it when I said it looked good.

I can still run a mile with no trouble, but an arc training machine kicks my ass pretty quickly.

My mom and stepdad's gym is strangely conservative in that it prohibits sleeveless apparel.

I have a liver chi blockage (this, according to my sister the Chinese medicine practitioner).

Pastry shops are easier and more efficient to run if you own a convection oven (this, according to a pastry-shop owner in my mother's town, whom I subjected to an informational interview because I'm thinking of getting into the business in the next couple of years).

Someone in my family is a secret cigarette smoker.

I'm a lot better at contract rummy than I am at euchre.

My brother's fiancee liked heavy metal music long before he met her and started playing his CDs around her.

The city of Columbus, Ohio has utterly huge residential trash containers.

The movie Waking Life is better the second time through.

There are 11.5 million people in Ohio, yet no one in my family can go to any public place without seeing someone they know.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Banana republic

Flying into the Akron-Canton International Airport right now is a little bit like touching down in a small foreign capital*. There are nine gates total, and the terminal is built on the straight-line model, where you leave the secured area by the same hallway where others are standing in line to enter it. There's one baggage carousel per airline, and your baggage is there by the time you walk up. You get a rental car, drive past some upheaved dirt and razor wire, and in three or four minutes you're on the road.

In other words, today's landing was the most efficient and pleasant airport experience I've had in years. It was almost surreally good. But there's a dark side to it.

The terminal is well-kept, but aging. Nothing has been replaced anytime in the recent past. I don't remember it looking so outdated, but then again, I think the last time I was there I was in high school. The bathroom faucets that looked a little dated in 1985 look positively institutional today. The tan brick that matched a thousand local ranch homes has lost its sheen.

Driving out into the world, I'm greeted with a shock. I knew the recession had hit Canton hard, but I didn't expect such immediate visual corroboration. The word "Timken" has been removed from Timken Mercy Hospital, where my brother was born nearly 28 years ago. Industrial building after industrial building is for sale or lease. There is a noticeable decline since December, when I last visited.

Akron's in a lot better shape. Columbus is diverse, fun, and altogether booming. But the lifeblood of Canton has been sucked into the wealthy suburbs, and even there it's hemorrhaging. This is where I grew up, and I mean that in more ways than one. Here it's still 1977 economically. The revival got a promising start in the early '90s, but it never really took hold.

And now that factories are once again shutting down everywhere, this beautiful city's grip is weak.

*This perception was heightened by the presence of a passenger across the aisle from me, a pleasant middle-aged black man dressed in an extremely natty orange and gold linen outfit with a feathered porkpie hat. His ensemble reminded me a little of my father, who used to dress for formal occasions as if he were the president of a developing country: white linen suit, white Panama hat. I miss my dad all the time, but especially when I come back to my home state. Perhaps this was a little psychic visitation, a reminder.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Back to Ohio

I've got "We're Off to See the Wizard" running through my head. I'm leaving on my trip today! I've scheduled in time with all the relatives, starting with my brother and his fiancee this evening.

I feel remarkably well prepared, which means that in actuality I'll probably be leaving behind or forgetting something totally crucial.

I'm a little anxious about leaving the dogs. The s.o. will take wonderful care of them, of course--he always does--but I haven't left Silver for so long in quite a while. She's my little girl! And I've never left Cairo. It's separation anxiety, I think.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Here's a quarter--call someone who cares

Ever since yesterday's Belmont Stakes ended--giving average Americans a much-needed reminder that there's no such thing as a sure bet--the television has become unwatchable. For as soon as the race was over, almost every station pre-empted its programs and went into sickening, syrupy Reagan tribute mode.

Granted, Reagan's death is on everyone's minds. At the club last night, the soundman's nightly "We're closed, so please leave now" speech referenced Bedtime for Bonzo. Nice touch.

But I can't stand this fuss. I haven't got a single nice thing to say about Ronald Reagan, and I'll be damned if his dying from Alzheimer's is going to change that. You honor a person because he deserves it, not because you feel sorry for him and his family for having to go through something so horrible. And Reagan deserves to go down in history as a traitor, not a hero.

How can I like a guy who turned our country against Jimmy Carter's energy-saving initiatives by describing conservation as "freezing in the dark"? How can I admire a person who tripled our national debt? How can I look up to someone who stole the 1980 election by exploiting the Iranian hostage crisis? And don't the words "Iran-Contra" mean anything to anyone?

I know this is going to be sickening. Look at the laudatory send-off we gave Nixon. All I can do is lie low for a few days and wait for it to pass...and hope that no major landmarks in my vicinity are named after the guy during this rush of misplaced adulation.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Strike that

No auger tomorrow. The s.o. asked me to cancel the reservation, which I did gladly. Now there's no stress! We'll do it when I get back from Ohio. In the meantime the netting just gets slung over the plants.

Now we can enjoy a slacker evening together. Two new Netflix...and lots of tasty Greek food. Mmmmmm...

More shoveling of dirt

We have reserved a hole auger from the rental place for tomorrow. We're going to drill holes for the anti-deer fence posts. We're also going to pre-drill holes for the fruit trees we'll be planting this fall (clever, huh? I mean, why rent the thing twice?).

In the meantime, I'm trying to get as much done as possible, garden-wise. I've moved all the compost into three big piles--two of which will be inside the fence, and one that's in a big bin closer to the house where we throw kitchen scraps. I've also cleared out the horrific weedy mess that used to be the pea and spinach bed, and now it's home to a second planting of carrots.

It's June and time's a-wasting. So having planted melons yesterday, I planted pumpkins today. All that's left are the ornamental gourds and the second planting of bush beans.

I went through the tomatoes and tomatilloes and re-staked what needed to be re-staked. I weeded the whole bed and took a look at the progress therein. We have a few Lemon Boy tomatoes that are getting really big! And the Rutgers tomatoes aren't far behind.

A moment of pure joy: This year, I'm trying to pick off all the flowers that crop up on my strawberry plants, because I want the plants to concentrate their energies on vegetative growth. But apparently I missed one a while back, and today I discovered a giant red strawberry. I ate it and it was spectacular. Worlds better than those so-called strawberries I've been getting at the supermarket. I suspect they want us to forget what real strawberries are supposed to taste like so we won't be dissatisfied with the crap we're buying.

I hope all of this isn't too boring, but currently it's what occupies almost all my time and mental capacity when I'm not doing interviews or writing articles. I like to intersperse physical labor with desk work because it keeps me saner and less fidgety. Working in an office has so many benefits--steady income, potential for paid travel, social interaction, etc. But I think I am compensated amply for what I miss out on. I was never any good at sitting in the same place for eight hours a day, and I suspect I wasted a lot of my employers' money by being unproductive. Now it's my time to waste or to work in. And I do a lot of both.

It looks as though my productivity has kicked in again--at least for now! I guess I did need to lie fallow for a little while. I just start to feel so guilty sometimes. I think it's because the s.o.'s fallow times rarely coincide with my own. Just when I've hit an all-time low and I've been lying in the papasan and watching bad TV for 72 hours straight, the s.o. kicks into high gear and starts mopping all the floors or building something incredible. I hear the power tools whirring and I feel like a worthless slug. But I suppose it all evens out in the end. And who's keeping score, anyway?

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Gardening at night

Late evening has its pros and cons. The bugs come out, which is a con if there ever was one. But on the other hand, the temperature becomes mild and pleasant, and there's a precious hour or so to garden before darkness falls.

Today had been mostly rotten. I deposited a paycheck and then checked my balance only to find that I'd accidentally overdrawn AGAIN. The new deposit wouldn't go through until at least tomorrow, probably tomorrow night. So in the meantime I had absolutely squat. Less than squat.

That would have been kind of okay except I was in town to pick up flea preventative for Cairo and to get my hair done. There was no hope at the vet's office; I tried a credit card that I knew perfectly well was maxed out, and indeed it was declined. So I told them I'd pick up the medicine on Saturday and left.

I drove to my hairstylist's and immediately told her I'd have to cancel. I explained my money predicament. She shushed me and sat me down. "Mail me a check later," she said. So now I might be broke, but I have a crisp new haircut and gorgeous dark-blonde highlights that the s.o. says look as though I got some sun at the beach. Rock on.

As I was driving home I clapped my favorite pair of sunglasses on my head and felt them snap in half. Shit. And then I felt my monthly cramps set in. Also not a stellar moment.

It was just odds and ends for dinner. I had no energy for anything else. But somehow guilt or industriousness or something compelled me to slip on my gardening clogs and step outside in that one hour before night fell. And in that one short hour, I helped the s.o. remove the pea trellis (that season is over), then built two more hills in the squash section of the garden. One is now planted with watermelons, and the other with canteloupes.

Oh! And there's one more thing. The deer fencing came today, and in the box the Seeds of Change people included a free packet of seeds. They're Roc d'Or yellow wax bush beans. Amazingly, that's the perfect freebie for us. I had planted green bush beans where the potatoes were, and there's still a big bed waiting for more beans. But I hadn't wanted that many of the same kind! So wax beans it is.

Must go. Many, many episodes of Law & Order to watch, and gummi bears to eat.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

A music quiz

I came across this quiz on a blog I perused today and thought it was interesting. I used to be a complete music nerd, but those days are gone. I hardly listen to music nowadays unless the s.o. puts it on. It's not that I don't like it, it's just that it doesn't occur to me. But anyhow, here goes:

1. Your favorite song with the name of a city in the title or text.

"Pineola” by Lucinda Williams

2. A song you've listened to repeatedly when you were depressed at some point in your life.

"Loose Diamonds” by Jo Carol Pierce, performed by Katy Moffatt

3. Ever bought an entire album just for one song and wound up disliking everything but that song? Gimme that song.

“Jumpin’, Jumpin’” by Destiny’s Child. I sold that record the very next day. It’s total crap.

4. A great song in a language other than English.

“Agua de Beber” by Astrud Gilberto

5. Your least favorite song on one of your favorite albums of all time.

“Ten Little Kids” from the Jayhawks’ Tomorrow the Green Grass

6. A song you like by someone you find physically unattractive or otherwise repellent.

“Houses on the Hill” by Whiskeytown (Ryan Adams' old band)

7. Your favorite song that has expletives in it that's not by Liz Phair.

“Tales Facing Up” by the Drive-By Truckers

8. A song that sounds as if it's by someone British but isn't.

Anything by Guided By Voices

9. A song you like (possibly from your past) that took you forever to finally locate a copy of.

“Twice the Lovin’ (in Half the Time)” by Jean Shepard

10. A song that reminds you of summer but doesn't mention summer at all.

“Celebration” by Kool & The Gang

11. A song that sounds to you like being happy feels.

“Summer Breeze” by Seals & Crofts

12. Your favorite song from a non-soundtrack compilation album.

“Grey & Blue” from Camp Black Dog Presents: Rock & Roll Summer Camp ‘98

13. A song that reminds you of high school.

“So. Central Rain” by R.E.M.

14. A song that reminds you of college.

“Friend of the Devil” by the Grateful Dead

15. A song you actually like by an artist you otherwise dislike.

“Santa Monica” by Everclear

16. A song by a band that features three or more female members.

"No Sign of Water” by the Damnations

17. One of the earliest songs that you can remember listening to.

"Silly Love Songs" by Wings

18. A song you've been mocked by friends for liking.

"Last Night” by Justin Timberlake

19. A really good cover version you think no one else has heard.

Slobberbone’s cover of Neil Young’s “Powderfinger”

20. A song that has helped cheer you up (or empowered you somehow) after a breakup or otherwise difficult situation.

“Lunette” by Jim Roll

Energy crisis

Lately I feel so tired and lazy. I mean, I always procrastinate--it's a way of life--but this is worse. I can't even seem to invoice my clients for the articles I write. It's ridiculous!

There are still three unfinished rooms in the house, and I can't seem to work on them. (The wallpaper guy probably wonders if we are ever going to call him back.) There are a few more plants that need to go into the garden, but I can't seem to get out there and plant them. Let's not even talk about how much weeding needs to be done. It's really getting out of hand.

I should exercise, but the yoga videos continue to collect dust. I did buy a beautiful new pair of running shoes, but running is not really an option because all the stray dogs in the neighborhood follow me in a pack when I try to do it.

I'm trying to work on a business plan to open up my own bakery in a couple years, but I can't even be bothered to do that except for a few minutes sometimes, late at night. And it's my whole future! Instead of all the work I should be doing, I'm sitting around and picking at the caramel Hershey's kisses in the candy jar.


The one step forward I have made is in my dishwashing habits. I swore, as of my 34th birthday, that I would no longer be the sort of person who let dishes stack up. And so far, I've been really good about it. I've even scrubbed the stovetop and wiped the countertops on a daily basis. Ask my old roommates how much of an improvement that is. But it's a poor substitute for actually making any kind of progress in my life.

I honestly don't know what to do to get myself back on track. Have I ever even been on track in the first place?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Beneficial and not-so-beneficial

Green anoles on the front porch, and these on the back porch. The back is sunnier, and the skinks like to burrow in the red clay inside the concrete steps.

Deer have decimated our garden and fruit plantings, and I have had it up to HERE with them. Luckily, Seeds of Change sells deer fencing for the incredibly low price of $18 per hundred feet. I paid extra for quick shipping. In the meantime, we're resorting to the usual folk remedies: Chicken wire on the ground (supposedly they hate to walk on it), polypropylene netting over the cherry trees (I'm sure they could rip it off if they really wanted to), a nasty spray solution on the gladiolas (I don't even know what's in it, but the s.o. whipped it up and it looks disgusting in the fridge), blood meal everywhere (the dogs are attracted to it, unfortunately), and territorial markings (meaning that the s.o. went out and peed at the four corners of the garden at dusk). It was a little ridiculous, but then again there was no new damage last night.

Why don't deer eat kudzu?!