Saturday, July 31, 2004

General improvements

The s.o. and I went to Home Depot tonight. We bought a Ryobi string trimmer and we're very excited about it.*

I also found a nice color to paint the dining room walls. The trim, as you've seen, is a sort of warm khaki color (I believe the pretentious Ralph Lauren paint color is called Raffia). We chose a mushroomy pale brown (inexplicably called Crab Apple) for the walls, which should make things nice and Southern Living-esque.**


* It's not so much the purchase of the string trimmer that has us excited, although we do love our Ryobi power tools. It's the prospect of sending our neighbor completely over the edge that has us champing at the bit. You see, our neighbor Ed is a nutcase. He has a yard-care obsession. He uses some kind of yard machinery, be it his mower, his tiller, or his string trimmer, every single day without fail. This is not an exaggeration; it's absolutely true. And he does bizarre, inexplicable things, too. Once we saw him riding his riding mower while pulling his push-mower behind him. Another time we saw him weed-whacking in his sweet corn patch.

Ed and his wife aren't nice people. They used to let their untrained, hostile dogs run loose on our property, and inevitably one of them came after Silver when I was walking her on leash. I tried to back her out of the situation, and the dog bit me. Ed tried to blame it on me, then lied to my face when I asked whether the dogs were vaccinated against rabies.

For a while, we had trouble with Ed burning brushpiles on our property. His excuse was that we had left piles of brush and someone had to take care of them.

Anyhow, the point is that even if Ed has just mowed his yard to a golf-course-like level of perfection, he feels compelled to mow again immediately if we mow our yard. We toy with him, timing our mows so they fall about three hours after he finishes cutting the last blade of grass. We can't even begin to imagine what mischief we can wreak by strategically deploying our string trimmer. I picture him walking around his yard babbling incoherently, whacking his wife's flowers down to a uniform two-inch height. It'll be fun, I think.

** As a birthday gift, the s.o. gave me a subscription to Southern Living. I just got the new "Idea Houses" issue and was gratified to see pages and pages of ruby-red, yellowy-cream, and light-brown rooms. I thought I had odd tastes (or, even worse, might potentially be horribly design-impaired), but it turns out I'm ahead of the curve. Or not, I dunno. I mean, Southern Living is provincial by definition, right?

Friday, July 30, 2004

Wonderful surprise

Last night as we were watching the official John Kerry campaign video, "A Remarkable Promise," we saw familiar faces. Near the very end of the video, as the narrator is saying "...John Kerry has spent a lifetime helping others achieve this incomparable American dream," there's a woman with a baby onscreen. It's my ex's wife K and their daughter!

You can see the video here.

I wasn't the right person for my ex, but K is. She was a close friend of ours for years and I am glad they ended up together. They're good people. And that's why the s.o. and I were both so happy to see them on that TV screen. (I literally started crying from happiness.) The ex and K are active, devoted Democrats and it must absolutely mean the world to them. I think the reason they used the footage of K and the baby is that you can literally see the hope shining in K's eyes.


Thursday, July 29, 2004

More photos

The strawberry patch. This is its first year, so technically I shouldn't even be letting the plants go to flower. But I can't resist letting a few berries get ripe, because they're sooooo good. Every day I walk out there and eat one or two.

Today's weather was patchy sun and rain. I looked across the street and saw this rainbow, which hopefully comes through in the photo.

A back view of the house, with my tire swing (very important!).

Still life with laundry. We keep these Christmas lights up on the back porch year-round, just because we like the way they look.

The dining-room-in-progress, currently the bane of my existence. But it's happening, albeit ever so slowly. I've been working on it every single night.

Tired, tired, tired. Must sleep.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


I couldn't sleep most of the night. Then, when I finally fell asleep, I had an unsettling dream in which I ran into the old guy from the Six Flags commercials at a convenience store. He bought me a Coke as a gesture of general Six Flags-type goodwill. He also told me his real name--it was Artie something.

Sometimes I wish I could just turn off my brain at night and let the system run on autopilot.

Monday, July 26, 2004

By request...

Chez 10Signs, after last night's rain. It's a jungle out there.

The front shade garden.

The view across the street.

Our downtown. Yes, that's all of it.

Presenting, from left to right...Silver and Cairo!

Taxi makes mischief.

Oh yes...things are fixing to get a lot more interesting around here, now that I have Photodump. Heh heh.

Sunday, July 25, 2004


• My mother sent me a postcard of Edith Wharton in a really spiffy suit, posed with her two dogs (Papillons, maybe?) on her shoulders. Mom stopped at Wharton's estate in the Berkshires recently when she was traveling. Apparently Wharton was a dog lover and an amazing interior decorator, and is even credited with "inventing" interior design as a discipline.

• One of my friends got married yesterday. There was a wonderful reception at her parents' grand old restored home. The house gave me a little bit of an inferiority complex--it's the kind of thing I would aspire to if I actually had money--but was absolutely the perfect place for a big "do" like that. The buffet and cakes were indoors, and the seating was outside. It was hotter than hell, but they had lots of shade tents on the big catwalk-style balcony, and the lower level was cooled by giant industrial fans. Lots of big anodized washtubs full of ice and drinks, too. And the food was spectacular.

• The s.o. invited a friend over and barbecued a pork roast yesterday while I was out. He's getting scarily good at barbecuing. Pork sandwich for lunch today!

Friday, July 23, 2004


Cairo is walking around with a stripe of white paint on his back. I wish I knew what he leaned on so I could go sand the orange dog hairs off of it.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

House Beautiful

It's finally happened. I've started working on the house again, in earnest. I've spent the last two nights sanding and priming the trim in the dining room. I should be able to paint it within the next several days (generous time allotted because there is an eleven-foot-high beadboard ceiling involved)! And then I can sand and paint the walls. Imagine having another room finished. Ahhh.

We have been so burned out for months. When you work every day for a year on a house--especially one that starts out filthy, broken, without modern services, and full of wild animals--it grinds you down so that you can't even look at it anymore. So basically, once we finished the basics and the bank gave the OK, we just stopped. We've been living in about 3/5 of our house ever since.

I'm finally able to face it again. Although I must admit that the work is still just as grim as I remembered it. My neck hurts!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Civic duty

I woke up at 11 a.m. today. So much for an early start! I pulled on some clothes, brushed my hair, and walked down to the corner to vote. My vote is like a cry in the wilderness here, but what the heck--gotta do it.

What I love best about voting in this town hall is its echoey acoustic qualities. To find out which ballot to give you, they have to ask if you prefer Republican or Democrat. And I get to answer "DEMOCRAT -CRAT -CRAT -CRAT."

It's a small thing, but it puts a smile on my face.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Best Little Rental House in Georgia

Yesterday evening's Braves game was just winding down when the phone rang. It was my friend J., wanting to know if I would come and keep her company while she moved some boxes and did some cleaning in her new house. There would be Gosling's Black Seal Rum, she hinted. And Pimm's. I hopped in the car.

There's some backstory to this. A few months before my Platonic Flirt Buddy left town, a friend of his had invited him to fill a vacancy in what surely must be the best and cheapest rental house in the entire state. But then both of them left town around the same time, and the PFB had the presence of mind to offer the house to J. and her fiance'.

I can't express to you how amazing this place is. First of all, there's the price. J. and her fiance' have been living in a similar-sized house--a small two-bedroom--and have been paying $275 more per month than this house costs. And their old place wasn't a bad value.

But beyond that, things get really surreal. This little house happens to be on the grounds of a local country club, and as such, a groundskeeper comes and mows the lawn every so often. There is armed security on call. But the house doesn't match its somewhat obnoxious surroundings because it was there before the country club was. It's a little shingled vacation cottage, tucked a little ways back from the road, that backs up to a large pond.

Both the living room and one of the upstairs bedrooms open up onto wooden decks via French doors. On the lower deck, there's a hot tub that needs a minor pipe repair before it'll be ready to use. (J. already has one of our handy male friends on task to fix it.) There are also a bunch of fishing poles, because the water is directly below. The house is owned by a fishing-bait magnate who stocks the pond with trout.

There's a working fireplace in the living room. There are 22 acres of woods on the part of the property that's not covered with water. Pine trees near the house provide privacy.

Not everything is perfect. First of all, the PFB and his roommate left the place in a big hurry, so it was a shambles. J. has been sweeping, gathering trash, and bleaching and scrubbing everything in sight. She had to have all the carpets steam-cleaned, and she found all kinds of mildewy untouchable things underneath the sinks. Also, in true rental-house fashion, a lot of the appliances and woodwork were installed and built in a rather ad hoc fashion. So she's had to buy some caulk and paint, too.

But it's still the greatest rental value I've ever seen. J. says she's glad it was recommended to her by people she knew, or she'd fear it was too good to be true. "I'd be worried it was infested with something really horrible," she said. "Like, I don't know, zombies."

The s.o. and I now have an open invitation to come and sit in the hot tub, fish, and hang around. J. says we might be having some work-related parties there now, too.

But enough of the backstory. J. and I had a great night last night. She wouldn't let me do much work; she just wanted me to chat with her, drink some drinks, change the CDs in the player, etc. We talked and talked. And when we finally looked at a clock, it was 4 a.m.!

On an unrelated note, I gave J. and her fiance' a big bag of fresh basil, sage, and yellow crookneck squash.

Friday, July 16, 2004

It's a thinker

Our humorous little conversation tonight as we played Mille Bornes and watched the Braves on TV:

Me: Do you think the patriotism of watching a baseball game cancels out the unpatriotism of playing a French card game?

The s.o.: Hmm. Well, we need to take into account the fact that the Braves are playing Montreal.

Me: So what you're saying is...

The s.o.: Only if the Braves win.


Via The Urban Badger. If I had designed this, I'd have made a provision for removing three titles as well! Oh, well. What it tells me is that I have read a lot of "young readers" literature, plus a lot of typical English-major things and some geekery. No surprises there, I guess!

The rules are that you copy it, bold those you’ve actually read and add three of your own to the bottom.

The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
1984, George Orwell
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Captain Corellis Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone, JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
Tess Of The DUrbervilles, Thomas Hardy
Middlemarch, George Eliot
A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Alices Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
Persuasion, Jane Austen
Dune, Frank Herbert
Emma, Jane Austen
Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
Watership Down, Richard Adams
The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
Animal Farm, George Orwell
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
The Stand, Stephen King
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
The BFG, Roald Dahl
Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
Mort, Terry Pratchett
The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
The Magus, John Fowles
Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
Perfume, Patrick Susskind
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
Matilda, Roald Dahl
Bridget Jones’ Diary, Helen Fielding T
The Secret History, Donna Tartt
The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
Ulysses, James Joyce
Bleak House, Charles Dickens
Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
The Twits, Roald Dahl
I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
Holes, Louis Sachar
Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
Magician, Raymond E Feist
On The Road, Jack Kerouac
The Godfather, Mario Puzo
The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Katherine, Anya Seton
Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
Midnights Children, Salman Rushdie
Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K Jerome
Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
The Beach, Alex Garland
Dracula, Bram Stoker
Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged, Sue Townsend
The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
Shogun, James Clavell
The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
House Of Leaves, Mark Z Danielewski
The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
Possession, A S Byatt
The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
The Handmaids Tale, Margaret Atwood
Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
Georges Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
It, Stephen King
James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
The Green Mile, Stephen King
Papillon, Henri Charriere
Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
Master And Commander, Patrick O'Brian
Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz
Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
Atonement, Ian McEwan
Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, Ken Kesey
Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
Kim, Rudyard Kipling
Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
Moby Dick, Herman Melville
River God, Wilbur Smith
Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
The World According To Garp, John Irving
Lorna Doone, R D Blackmore
Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
The Far Pavilions, M M Kaye
The Witches, Roald Dahl
Charlottes Web, E B White
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder
Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
Silas Marner, George Eliot
American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Gross-mith
Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
Goosebumps, R L Stine
Heidi, Johanna Spyri
Sons And Lovers, D H Lawrence
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
The Truth, Terry Pratchett
The War Of The Worlds, H G Wells
The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
The Once And Future King, T H White
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews
The Silmarillion, JRR Tolkien
The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan
The Great Hunt, Robert Jordan
The Dragon Reborn, Robert Jordan
Fires of Heaven, Robert Jordan
Lord of Chaos, Robert Jordan
Winters Heart, Robert Jordan
A Crown of Swords, Robert Jordan
Crossroads of Twilight, Robert Jordan
A Path of Daggers, Robert Jordan
As Nature Made Him, John Colapinto
Microserfs, Douglas Coupland
The Married Man, Edmund White
Winters Tale, Mark Helprin
The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault
Cry to Heaven, Anne Rice
Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, John Boswell
Equus, Peter Shaffer
The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten
Letters To A Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn
The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice
Anthem, Ayn Rand
The Bridge To Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
Tartuffe, Moliere
The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
The Crucible, Arthur Miller
The Trial, Franz Kafka
Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles
Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther
A Dolls House, Henrik Ibsen
Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen
Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
A Raisin In The Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
ALIVE!, Piers Paul Read
Grapefruit, Yoko Ono
Trickster Makes This World, Lewis Hyde
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, Unbeliever, Stephen Donaldson
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
Summerland, Michael Chabon
A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
Candide, Voltaire
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, Roald Dahl
Ringworld, Larry Niven
The King Must Die, Mary Renault
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline LEngle
The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
The House Of The Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson
Chocolate Fever, Robert Kimmel Smith
Xanth The Quest for Magic, Piers Anthony
The Lost Princess of Oz, L Frank Baum
Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon
Lost In A Good Book, Jasper Fforde
Well Of Lost Plots, Jasper Fforde
Life Of Pi, Yann Martel
The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
A Yellow Rraft In Blue Water, Michael Dorris
Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
Where The Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
Griffin & Sabine, Nick Bantock
Witch of Blackbird Pond, Joyce Friedland
Mrs Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH, Robert C OBrien
Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
The Cay, Theodore Taylor
From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, EL Konigsburg
The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
The Kitchen Gods Wife, Amy Tan
The Bone Setters Daughter, Amy Tan
Relic, Duglas Preston & Lincolon Child
Wicked, Gregory Maguire
American Gods, Neil Gaiman
Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry
The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum
Haunted, Judith St George
Singularity, William Sleator
A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
Different Seasons, Stephen King
Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
About a Boy, Nick Hornby
The Bookmans Wake, John Dunning
The Church of Dead Girls, Stephen Dobyns
Illusions, Richard Bach
Magics Pawn, Mercedes Lackey
Magics Promise, Mercedes Lackey
Magics Price, Mercedes Lackey
The Dancing Wu Li Masters, Gary Zukav
Spirits of Flux and Anchor, Jack L Chalker
Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, Brenda Love
Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
The Cider House Rules, John Irving
Enders Game, Orson Scott Card
Girlfriend in a Coma, Douglas Coupland
The Lions Game, Nelson Demille
The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars, Stephen Brust
Cyteen, C J Cherryh
Foucaults Pendulum, Umberto Eco
Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk
Camber of Culdi, Kathryn Kurtz
The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
War and Rememberance, Herman Wouk
The Art of War, Sun Tzu
The Giver, Lois Lowry
The Telling, Ursula Le Guin
Xenogenesis (or Liliths Brood), Octavia Butler
A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold
The Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold
The Aeneid, Publius Vergilius Maro (Vergil)
Hanta Yo, Ruth Beebe Hill
The Princess Bride, S Morganstern (or William Goldman)
Beowulf, Anonymous
The Sparrow, Maria Doria Russell
Deerskin, Robin McKinley
Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey
Passage, Connie Willis
Otherland, Tad Williams
Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay
Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Lamb The Gospel According to Biff, Christs Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore
The mysterious disappearance of Leon, I mean Noel, Ellen Raskin
Summer Sisters, Judy Blume
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo
The Island on Bird Street, Uri Orlev
Midnight in the Dollhouse, Marjorie Filley Stover
The Miracle Worker, William Gibson
The Genesis Code, John Case
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevensen
Paradise Lost, John Milton
Phantom, Susan Kay
The Mummy or Ramses the Damned, Anne Rice
Anno Dracula, Kim Newman
The Dresden Files Grave Peril, Jim Butcher
Tokyo Suckerpunch, Issac Adamson
The Winter of Magics Return, Pamela Service
The Oddkins, Dean R Koontz
My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok
The Last Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
At Swim, Two Boys, Jaime ONeill
Othello, by William Shakespeare
The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas
The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats
Sati, Christopher Pike
The Inferno, Dante
The Apology, Plato
The Small Rain, Madeline LEngle
The Man Who Tasted Shapes, Richard E Cytowick
Novels, Daniel Pinkwater
The Sevenwaters Trilogy, Juliet Marillier
Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
Our Town, Thorton Wilder
Green Grass Running Water, Thomas King
The Interpreter, Suzanne Glass
The Moors Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie
The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson
A Passage to India, EM Forster
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
Pages for You, Sylvia Brownrigg
The Changeover, Margaret Mahy
Howls Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
Angels and Demons, Dan Brown
Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo
Shosha, Isaac Bashevis Singer
Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck
The Diving-bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
The Lunatic at Large by J Storer Clouston
Time for Bed by David Baddiel
Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre
The Bloody Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Sewer, Gas, and Eletric by Matt Ruff
Jhereg by Steven Brust
So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane
Perdido Street Station, China Mieville
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
Road-side Dog, Czeslaw Milosz
The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
Neuromancer, William Gibson
The Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
A Canticle for Liebowitz, Walter M Miller, Jr
The Mask of Apollo, Mary Renault
The Gunslinger, Stephen King
Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
Childhoods End, Arthur C Clarke
A Season of Mists, Neil Gaiman
Ivanhoe, Walter Scott
The God Boy, Ian Cross
The Beekeepers Apprentice, Laurie R King
Finn Family Moomintroll, Tove Jansson
Misery, Stephen King
Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters
Hood, Emma Donoghue
The Land of Spices, Kate OBrien
The Diary of Anne Frank
Regeneration, Pat Barker
Tender is the Night, F Scott Fitzgerald
Dreaming in Cuban, Cristina Garcia
A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
The View from Saturday, EL Konigsburg
Dealing with Dragons, Patricia Wrede
Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss
A Severed Wasp – Madeleine LEngle
Here Be Dragons – Sharon Kay Penman
The Mabinogion (Ancient Welsh Tales) – translated by Lady Charlotte E Guest
The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown
Desire of the Everlasting Hills – Thomas Cahill
The Cloister Walk – Kathleen Norris
The Things We Carried, Tim OBrien
I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb
Choke, Chuck Palahniuk
Enders Shadow, Orson Scott Card
The Memory of Earth, Orson Scott Card
The Iron Tower, Dennis L McKiernen
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
A Ring of Endless Light, Madeline L’Engle
Lords of Discipline, Pat Conroy
Hyperion, Dan Simmons
If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, Jon McGregor
The Bridge, Iain Banks
Practical Demonkeeping, Christopher Moore
Promethea, Alan Moore
the curious incident of the dog in the night-time, Mark Haddon
archangel – robert harris
vernon god little – dbc pierre
ultimate spiderman – brian michael bendis
The Glamour, Christopher Priest
The Portrait of Mrs Charbuque, Jeffrey Ford
The Third Person, Steve Mosby
Psychoville, Christopher Fowler
The Street of Crocodiles, Bruno Schulz
The Constant Gardener, John Le Carre
The Priestess of Avalon, Marion Bradley
Einstein’s Dreams – Alan Lightman
The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread – Pat Robertson
Abarat – Clive Barker
The City of Beasts – Isabel Allende
The House of Spirits – Isabel Allende
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Coraline – Neil Gaiman
Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – JK Rowling
Artemis Fowl and the Eternity Code – Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl and the Arctic Incident – Eoin Colfer
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
The Invisible Man – Ralph Waldo Ellison
Ogre, Ogre – Piers Anthony
Franny and Zooey – JD Salinger
King Rat – James Clavell
Fools Die – Mario Puzo
Solitaire Mystery – Jostein Gaarder
A Walk To Remember – Nicholas Sparks
Falling Leaves – Adeline Yen Mah
Pnin – Vladimir Nabokov
Colors of the Mountain – Da Chen
Women of the Silk – Gail Tsukiyama
Trout Fishing in America – Richard Brautigan
Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About – Mil Millington
Black Tide – Peter Temple
The Palliser Novels - Anthony Trollope
Frenchman’s Creek- Daphne du Maurier
We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson
The Left Hand of Darkness, Usula leGuin
Roughing It, Mark Twain
Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris
The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
The Road from Coorain, Jill Ker Conway
Ake, Wole Soyinka
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson
Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarisa Pinkola Estes
To the North, Elizabeth Bowen
The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi, Jacqueline Park
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
The Greenwitch, Susan Cooper

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Despite earlier reports, change is good

Via Snowball:

The Death Card

You are the Death card. Death is a stage in the
cycle of life. Without death, there would be no
room for new things to grow. When you receive
the Death card in a tarot reading, fear not;
Death is only an indication that transformation
is about to occur. Death allows us all to
evolve by removing that which is no longer
needed. The end of one cycle makes way for a
new one. Old behaviours and patterns which have
tied us down are released. Death cleans house
so that we don't have needless drains on our
energy. In Death's ruthless destruction there
lies compassion. Image from: Danielle Sylvie

Which Tarot Card Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I'd be mortified (no pun intended) by this if I weren't a little acquainted with Tarot cards! But the Death card isn't a bad pick for me. I've gone through a lot of changes in my life and come out better because of them.

Here's my take on the Tarot. I'm not a believer in magic, the occult, etc., but I do believe that a set of cards printed with archetypal images can be a useful tool when you're trying to flush a few answers out of your unconscious mind. At key times in my life--when I was looking for a job, when I was getting divorced, etc.--I've done little amateur readings for myself, and each time they helped me understand what was going on in my thoughts and emotions, simply because they gave me the proper tools to contemplate my situation.

What I'm trying to say is that there's probably nothing too spooky about the cards and what order they turn up in. They just jog your mind to think about certain things. A good self-help book might do the same thing.

I do believe it's important to use cards that have all the critical archetypal images in place, so that they can do their brain-jogging job. I'm not a fan of new-agey or revisionist decks, which tend to be crowded with political agendas or useless cutesy details to the exclusion of all the important stuff. I like the classic Rider-Waite deck (here's their version of Death), or Thoth if that's not available.

All that aside, my very favorite thing about Tarot cards is the memory of my college graduation ceremony. Every year the school had a contest: Whichever graduating student wrote the best commencement speech got to deliver it in front of the crowd. My classmates were either too busy or too apathetic to participate, though, so the administration received only one speech. They had to go with it.

On the appointed day, a petite crew-cutted girl mounted the stage and adjusted the microphone down to her height. Over the course of the next 25 minutes, she gave a thorough examination of how Tarot divination had helped her get through years of turmoil, the death of her mother, and the discovery of her lesbianism. She went into the details of a ten-card spread she'd done her freshman year, and linked the cards to events and people in her life--including her partner, who rose and stood next to her as "Exhibit A."

This didn't faze the students. My college put the "liberal" in the phrase "liberal arts school," so it took something a whole lot more unusual than this to get our attention. The vast majority of us were distractedly adjusting our mortarboards, passing around airplane liquor bottles, and kicking each other in the shins. But I happened to glance over at the college president and noticed that the veins on his forehead were bulging visibly and he was tugging at the collar of his robe. And you could see scores of grandparents fiddling with their hearing aids. "Can't make head or tail of this!" they were muttering.

I've never seen or heard another commencement speech quite like it. And we have the Tarot to thank for it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


Lately, every morning when I go out into the garden, the okra patch is full of gorgeous yellowy-cream flowers with maroon centers. I've been thinking that they look a lot like hibiscus, or maybe mallow, and wondering why people don't plant them as ornamentals.

It turns out my instincts are good on all counts! And I think the photo on that page captures them nicely.

For the record, the eggplants are very beautiful, too, with their little purple blooms.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


Today's take:

• 5 tomatoes

• 25 tomatilloes

• 2 yellow crookneck squash

• 14 stalks of young Florence fennel (too young for anything but the leaves to be any good; they were thinned out for the good of the others)

• 2 big stalks of basil


• Startling number of young eggplants becoming imminent

• First tiny green pumpkin discovered!

Tasks completed:

• Weeding of tomato bed

Secret fears:

• Having already made ratatouille, steamed squash, squash muffins, and squash casserole, will very soon run out of ideas for using yellow crookneck squash

• Am goofing around in garden to avoid doing real, urgent work indoors

Cotton pickin' time

Cairo is blowing coat.

Our house is normally a little furry, don't get me wrong. But this past week has been unbelievable. The intake of our A/C system is caked with fluff. There are balls of dog hair drifting around. I pick them up about three times a day, and I can't get them all.

If you run your fingers through the hair on Cairo's sides, you can pull off cotton-ball-sized tufts of undercoat. Neither of us has had a puffy-haired dog before, so we were concerned enough to ask the vet what was going on. It turns out several dog breeds (including chows and their kin) do this coat-blowing thing twice a year, where they slough off their fuzzy undercoat dramatically and quickly. We're supposed to help the process along by brushing him against the grain at least once a day.

While I was talking to the vet, I asked her about another issue. We've noticed that in the areas where Cairo was shaved for his operation, the skin has pigmented black. She said it's pretty common; when you shave an animal, the skin can change color, and sometimes the hair even grows back a different color--for example, a black belly on a white cat after a spaying. Nobody's really sure why. Some people suspect it's a light-related melanin thing.

How odd. Just when you think you understand your fellow mammals, it turns out some of them are a little more closely connected with their hair than we humans would ever think possible.

My inner Science Geek is fascinated by this.

Friday, July 09, 2004


Got this from him, who got it from him, who got it from his students.

CLUB U WENT 2: The one I work at
PERSON U SPOKE 2: The s.o.
MOVIE U WATCHED: Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator
THEATRE PRODUCTION U SAW: It’s been forever.
BOOK U RED: Have started Salman Rushdie’s Fury, but it’s nowhere near as great as Midnight’s Children, and I can’t seem to get into it.
TYME U CRIED: Thursday night

EYE COLOR: It depends on the person
FOOD: Can’t possibly choose. How about “most”?
SPORT: To watch--jai alai. To play--beach volleyball.
WEATHER: Sunny, breezy, and 80.
MOVIE: Can’t possibly choose
CLOTHES: Jeans and a tank top. Open-toed shoes.
CAREER: I really liked teaching college, but I wasn’t much use at research, so I couldn’t be an academic in the long run. I like being a freelance writer pretty well.
BAND: Neil Young, The Band, Slobberbone, many others
PERSON: The s.o.
TATTOO: I have a dolphin on my hip, which sounds cheesy but I like it pretty well. It commemorates the summer I spent working at the Center for Coastal Studies.

WEIGHT: 135 lbs.
HEIGHT: 5’7”
WEARING: Dark-green cargo shorts, black tank top
LISTENIN TO: Silver the dog, chasing squirrels in her sleep

UR BEDTIME: Midnight, one-ish.
UR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Starting to feel good about myself after all these years. Also managing to run my own business.

BOXERS OR BRIEFS: Sexist meme! Thong or boy-shorts depending on the outfit.

DRANK? Too many cafe au laits
EATEN? Breakfast was a bowl of Quaker Oat Squares with milk and a chopped-up nectarine. Last night we had fried oyster po-boy sandwiches.
STOLEN ANYTHING? What, in the last 24 hours? No.
FLASHED N E 1? Not exactly sure what this means, but I think the answer is no.
LAUGHED? Like a fool, especially during The Daily Show and The Graham Norton Effect.
DONE DRUGS? See answer to “Stolen Anything?”.

"Spotted" this evening

A leopard slug, about four inches long, sliming its way along on the porch screen. Didn't have the heart to kill it, although I probably should have since it's an introduced species.

Also, late last night I saw one of these teeny little guys on the front porch. They may be small, but they can really jump high! I glimpsed this one in transit as it sprang through the air right in front of my face.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

How do they do it?

Vegetables in the squash family never cease to amaze me. Like babies, they grow measurably overnight. But I've never seen a baby quadruple its size in eight hours! (And I don't want to, thanks.)

Thus it is that I am faced with several quite large pickling cucumbers this morning. Not enough for actual pickling, to be sure, but enough for a little test run of the non-canned variety.

At the same time, I suddenly have a basket full of about 20 or 25 tomatilloes, which are bordering on too-ripe and need to be made into salsa as soon as I can get to the store to grab a couple of supplies (cilantro, tortilla chips, etc.). Tomatilloes may not be squashes, but they are impressive in their own right.

We have received a missive from the mayor of our little town, reminding us townsfolk of the permanent watering ban in Georgia. I approve heartily of this measure. Despite our recent heavy rains, Georgia has had a severe drought for years now, and the ever-spreading suburbs in the Atlanta metro area (and elsewhere) have sucked our aquifers nearly dry. The letter mentioned that our town's water comes from two deep wells, which I didn't know.

The ban does make an exception for personal food gardens, which is why I was able to open the valve on our irrigation system for a brief period this morning and save our slightly limp pumpkin vines and tender new bean plants from extinction. I have been letting everything dry out for several days now, but as of today things were getting pretty arid. Drought...storms...drought...more drought...storms...drought... Count me in as a believer in global warming.

I can't understand people who water their lawns. If you need to water your grass constantly, it is a sure sign that either (a) you have the wrong kind of grass, or (b) you are a little too invested in the greenness of your lawn. Probably both. Don't people know that grass is supposed to brown out by the end of the summer? Hasn't it occurred to people that the water might be better used elsewhere? Talk about Hank Hill Syndrome.

For my money, I'd rather have squashes and cucumbers.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Thank goodness

Whew! Kerry has picked my first choice--John Edwards--as his running mate. I was so afraid he'd do something stupid, like pick the ultimate toolbag/loser/party flack, Dick Gephardt.

Now we have at least a whisper of hope.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Here they come

Now that there is a break in the constant rain, and now that the sun is shining down on the saturated world...

I just harvested our first four yellow crookneck squashes. There are a whole lot more little ones on the vine.

One eggplant is just about ready. There are two more coming, and lots of blossoms.

Several tomatoes are "on the verge." Scores more of them are green.

And the okra plants are harboring a lot of things that look suspiciously like tiny little pods!


I appear to have missed a spot in my earlier inventory. I was just walking one of the dogs, stopped by the garden, and discovered eight (or more) heartbreakingly adorable baby pickling cucumbers. Everybody say "Awwwwwww"...

Friday, July 02, 2004

Now see here...

Having survived the Harrison Bergeron-like rigors (not that I was superhuman to start with!) of my work-related anxiety dream, I was subjected to yet another freakish dream last night.*

I'm sure I dream wacked-out stuff all the time, but usually I don't wake up to an alarm, so I forget everything. But when I'm jarred out of sleep unexpectedly, everything's still vivid.

This morning I was jolted awake by the small travel alarm that's currently standing in for my deceased Hello Kitty alarm clock. I had a morning appointment with my optometrist. The goal was for me to try on a new set of contact lenses, sit there for a while while they settled onto my eyeballs, and then have the doc measure how well they were working. I turned out to have corrected vision of about 20-15, which the doctor exclaimed was "really a miracle" for someone with my vision.

"I wouldn't touch that prescription with a ten-foot Pole or a six-inch Italian," he remarked. (It took me a couple of minutes to work that one out.)

Just in case anyone can read eye prescriptions, here's why it's a miracle that my vision is correctable:

Sphere -675
Cylinder -300
Axis 15

Sphere -500
Cylinder -375
Axis 165

In English, that means I have mindblowing nearsightedness capped with ridiculous astigmatism. During my previous visit to the eye doctor, he remarked that he was surprised I hadn't asked him about Lasix.

Well, unless my vision becomes uncorrectable in some way, I never will inquire about Lasix. I have a friend who swears by it; it has changed his life immensely for the better. But not everybody has the same luck. We're talking about unnecessary surgery here! And anyway, maybe it's a rationalization, but I like the way I am now: I can see two different ways.

When I'm wearing glasses or contacts, I look up at the night sky and see a multitude of stars--as Marah would say, "like they were spinnin' in a bowl, baby." I look up in the daytime and see the edges of intensely green pine trees marked out crisply against a sky full of puffy clouds. It would sound kind of stoner-ish if I were to say it out loud, but I love to watch the edges of things interact with each other.

Without glasses or contacts, I look up at the night sky and see a diffuse glow, like a wondrous, all-encompassing aurora borealis. Strings of Christmas lights (a favorite decoration of mine) become orbs of glowing color. It's different, and I'm loath to say it's inferior. Sure, it's useless when it comes to actually getting things done, but haven't painters throughout the ages been inspired by the supposed defects in their vision?

Who wouldn't want to have both options?

*I'm walking around a city, holding onto a swing. It's an industrial-strength swing like you see on a public playground--two long lengths of chain with a black rubber seat between them. The swing is attached to an electrified cable system as if it were a trolley car. I don't know why I need to hang onto it, since I'm walking, but I do.

The city starts out as St. Paul, Minnesota (as cities in my dreams often do), but morphs into London. There's a giant glassed-in arboretum I'm dying to see, but I can't seem to get there. Eventually I have to let go of my swing to trace my way through some alleys and archways, and I find myself obsessively memorizing every move I make so I'll be able to find my way back to the swing. I manage to get into a huge coliseum where there are gymnastic events and 4-H competitions, but I never get to the arboretum. Eventually I give up and go back to my swing. I'm tired, so I just sit there and swing on it.