Monday, August 30, 2004

National pastime


We drive to Atlanta through a blinding thunderstorm. Miraculously, the clouds part as we cross the Fulton County line. When we arrive at the ballpark, the weather is room-temperature, breezy, and clear, and it stays that way for the rest of the evening. Absolutely idyllic.

Turner Field is the most beautiful ballpark I've ever seen. Brick plazas, ample comforts, gorgeous sightlines. There is a romantic mist hovering around the upper edges of the grandstand.

1st inning

We find our eBay-purchased seats and troop dutifully toward them, laden with $6.50 hotdogs and $7 Bud Lites. Soon we realize we are in the Amusing Drunken Fratboy section. Behind us we hear voices.

"Naw, man, there ain't two colors of grass out there. They just MOW it differ'nt."

"Shee-it, listen to 'im."

"Two colors of grass!"

"Hey, man, I think we might as well've stayed at the bar and watched the game on TV."

"Naw, man, you can SAY your lawn looks that good. But you know it don't."

2nd inning

The s.o. is on the cell phone with his dad. "Hey, Dad! Yeah, we're at Turner Field, spending some of that birthday money you sent me! OK, you should turn on your TV, because it's the ESPN Sunday night game. Look for us. We're six rows from the front in right center field."

"Naw, man, see the difference is that they mow this shit alla time, where you only mow it when you think of it. WHOOOOOO GO BRAVES!"

"Sorry, Dad, it's kind of loud here. Talk to you later..."

A benighted Giants right-fielder misses an easy catch, and the fratboys lay into him. "MOHR! YOU SUCK!"

3rd inning

Barry Bonds is at bat. There is much consternation in the Amusing Drunken Fratboy section.



A pitch. A swing and a monstrous crack, and Bonds slams a home run into the section directly to the right of us. It's easily a 450-footer.


4th inning

The razzing continues. "MOHR! YOU SUCK! MOHR, YOU SUCK!"

"Hey, Mohr, does your husband play the same position?"

"Hit it into right field! There's a hole out there!"

Mohr is beginning to look irritated. I'm waiting for him to vault over the backstop and pummel the guys. That'd be worth the price of a ticket right there.

5th inning

Barry Bonds again.


A pitch. A swing and another crack, and Bonds sends the ball into the same section as before. It's virtually identical to the last homer he hit. No hope of us catching a ball, I guess.


6th inning

I sneak off for a plate of nachos and more beer. The Mexican-food purveyor bobbles the plate as he hands it toward me, and a giant glob of sour cream slides down my leg. I'm left scrubbing at my jeans with a soaked-down bar towel. Grr.

7th inning

After returning from the 7th inning beer break stretch, the s.o. strikes up a conversation with the fratboys about SEC football. I follow it at first and then lose interest. No matter, because they shut up pronto when Bonds returns to bat.


"WALK 'IM! WALK 'IM! No, wait, every time I say to walk him, he hits a goddamn home run. PITCH TO 'IM! PITCH TO 'IM!"

Bonds strikes out.

8th inning

One of the pleasant black men sitting next to us has crept to a neighboring section, armed with a catcher's mitt. He lucks out and catches a ball tossed into the crowd by the Giants' center-fielder. Immediately, a skinny white girl in a hot-pink tank top starts begging him for the ball. Then she gets desperate and offers to flash him if he'll give it to her. "Shake on it! C'mon!" she badgers.

Shrugging, he reaches across the rows and shakes her hand. I elbow the s.o. hard and he looks over just in time to see her lift her tank top over her head and expose her breasts.

Then the black man pockets the baseball, shaking his head and smiling. Several redneck types spring to their feet at this breach of contract, and one of them calls the guy a "punk." A knot of combatants forms. Reluctantly, one of the other black men rises to his feet and cracks his knuckles once or twice. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot several security people hustling toward us. They escort the girl out of the ballpark and break up the fight just as the shoving begins.

"Shee-it," says a fratboy. "A fight and titties. I sure got my money's worth tonight."

9th inning

The Braves lose. We sit in the stands until everyone has left, since there's no point rushing out only to sit in traffic for a half hour. Eventually the usher shoos us out.

"You see that girl?"

"We sure did," the s.o. smiles.

The usher shakes his head, raising his eyes heavenward. "For a three-dollar baseball," he says.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

My eyes! My eyes!

Last night, just before the bar closed, I made a trip to the ladies' room. I opened the door and saw, directly in front of the sinks, a man's back with knees on either side of it. Loud female laughter echoed through the room. My brain refused to process the scene as I hurried into a stall.

As soon as I closed the stall door, it exploded into my consciousness: THERE ARE PEOPLE HAVING SEX IN THE RESTROOM! Jesus Christ. And in that moment I recognized the man as the singer of the headlining band.

I can't even begin to tell you how awkward it is to pee while you're hearing dialogue that sounds like "Just zip up your pants and let's get out of here."

My only comfort--as I tried to block out the visual images from my brain--was that it was a local band, and I quite naturally told every bartender, soundguy, and doorperson in the room what had transpired. I couldn't help myself; maybe it was therapeutic. And as we used to say when the s.o. was a member of a touring band: It all adds to the legend.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Spoiled stars

I'm really pissed off at the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team. They won the bronze medal and they stood there sulking like babies, acting as if it was the worst disgrace in the world.

I think it's embarrassing, for them and for the country. Didn't anyone ever teach them any manners? We were not entitled to the gold medal. Nobody ever promised to give it to us just because we're the most basketball-centric country. There was no guarantee that we would be allowed to kick the asses of all the well-rehearsed, well-coordinated teams in the world with our motley, defense-poor, under-rehearsed assemblage of second-tier NBA stars.

I'm not embarrassed that they got third place. I'm embarrassed at how they acted at the medal ceremony. A hangdog, grudging look is not appropriate. It's an honor just to play at the Olympics (which someone should mention to all the NBA players who declined to represent us!). It's an honor to win any medal. And considering who we sent--and how they played--the United States should be grateful to have won any men's basketball medal at all.

End of rant. I'm sorry, I just had to get it off my chest because I thought their behavior was so rude.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Sports question

Why is it that when a dog runs an agility course, the dog gets a prize, but when a horse runs a show-jumping course, the rider gets a prize? The dog has a trainer on the course telling it where to go; the horse has a person on its back telling it where to go. I don't see the difference, except that the horse has to do more heavy lifting.

Olympic rodeo would make more sense. There the person is clearly doing athletic work, not animal training.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Olympic notes, part 5

Hossein Reza Zadeh and Gal Fridman are the heroes of the day.

Lots of smiles. What a feel-good night.

Fractional progress

I've finished the dining room! It took forever because I kept getting interrupted. And sometimes I couldn't bear to look at it, so I worked a little bit on other rooms. But it's done, and it looks really nice.

Tonight I talked with my mother on the phone for about an hour, and after I got off the phone I was all fired up to work (she has that effect on me...she makes me more efficient in some pleasant subconscious way, I think). I went upstairs and put a last touch-up coat of drywall mud on the walls of the half-bath, and then I caulked everything within an inch of its life. Tomorrow I can sand it and paint it.

"It'll be another whole room--done!" I enthused to the s.o. after telling him of my plans.

"Well, a 'whole room' is kind of pushing it," he said.

He has a point. It's a half-bath, legally speaking (meaning that there's a toilet and a sink, but no tub or shower), but we've always jokingly called it the quarter-bath or the eighth-bath. It's in a corner of the upstairs where the angle of the roof cuts in rather steeply from both sides. It's a little hazardous for anyone who's taller than we are (5'7"). We've thought about putting a "DUCK" sign on the doorjamb.

But what a beautiful experience it will be, painting a room whose ceiling I can reach without a ladder! I hate ladders. This'll be an easy one, even if it only counts as an eighth.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

I love the way his mind works

The s.o. to me, this evening:

"Do they have a 'Hybrid' Unkymood? That's what you need today. You had a pluot for breakfast and then you saw a Labradoodle."

Monday, August 23, 2004


I have a headache. I thought it was a caffeine deficiency, but a latte hasn't helped it.

I'm watching the Olympics and marveling at all the accomplishments the athletes have made (Track and Field especially--woo hoo--American sweep of the men's 400m! Alison Felix in the 200!) while railing at the shitty judging in the gymnastics (see comments on the previous blog entry).

I spent 45 minutes unsnarling a skein of knitting yarn that the dogs got into. Not super impressed by my canines at this particular minute, although they seem contrite and I must admit the yarn probably had a lovely mouthfeel.

I woke up late today and had to fight for every moment of productivity. I have PMS so acutely that I cried while watching "Clean Sweep."

This day really had "Monday" written all over it.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

How I work

I've always liked to write in coffee shops. There's some background noise--sometimes enough to be mildly distracting. But ideally, the chatter and music and espresso-making sounds all blend together into a pleasing white noise. Also, I'm a captive audience. I can't wander off and do something else. I have my coffee and I'm set up at my table. I'm there to work, and so I do.

Libraries are my second choice. They're a little quieter, which is nice, and they have a similar "captive audience" effect because everyone there is working on something. There is an air of industry. The only drawbacks are that (a) there is no coffee, and (b) occasionally I find myself wandering through the stacks, looking for interesting books.

Now that I live out in the country, it's not practical for me to go anywhere else to work. I'm in my own home, with all its distractions. There's usually a dog asking to go out or to play. Sometimes the s.o. is watching a baseball game (or heaven forbid, something more compelling) on the TV just a few feet away from me. If I'm desperate enough to procrastinate, I'll start doing laundry, dishes, or even home improvement. There's probably no more background noise here than there is at a coffee shop, but what's happening here applies directly to me; it's stuff I can act on. And that scuttles my attempts to write.

So lately I've been working with really nice studio headphones on. I put on a CD of Handel's Water Music and Fireworks Music just loud enough to drown out a baseball announcer. Some people can work to music that has words, but I can't because I start paying attention to the singer's words instead of to my own. Handel is perfect because it's forward-moving and powerful without being bombastic or in any way startling. The CD is more than an hour long, so there's no excuse to get up and change it. And the headphones have a psychological effect of attaching me to my desk. I feel as though I'm writing really well to Handel.

I'd be interested to hear how other people concentrate when they work. Do I just have a butterfly mind? Or does everyone have to take heroic measures to concentrate?

Friday, August 20, 2004

Olympic notes, part 4

• Markus Rogan, Austrian backstroke silver medalist, is a babe. He is also a decent fellow, it seems. When Aaron Piersol's first-place finish was temporarily disqualified, he leaned close to Piersol and said, "Dude, you've got to protest that." He did this even though he stood to become the gold medalist if Piersol was out of the way.

• New discovery: trampoline! Another Olympic sport I had no idea existed.

• Chilean Nicolas Massu defeated the slightly inbred-looking American Taylor Dent in the men's tennis semifinal through a combination of beautiful shot placement and hilarious gamesmanship. Every point Massu served, he started with four balls and weeded them down to one. He stopped in midgame for drinks of water. He stalled and loitered and dawdled in order to pace the match to his liking, and the ref never even blinked. I think it was driving Dent nuts.

• I think the U.S. women gymnasts have been plucking each other's eyebrows. Overplucking them, actually. Carly Patterson's eyebrows in particular look very oddly shaped and a little diabolical. I know it seems obsessive to notice something like that, but NBC keeps doing EXTREME close-ups and it's hard not to see it.

• I have been enjoying the VW Touareg commercials the network is playing during the Olympics, because they feature Richard Buckner's song "Ariel Ramirez," which is gorgeous. I don't have the album it's from (which is called Since and is the follow-up to Devotion and Doubt, which I do own), but I think I might buy it now. The CD, not the Touareg.

Apropos of none of the above:
There's a storm rolling in. It's supposed to thunderstorm for several days, then rain for several more. Good thing I mowed the lawn yesterday. (And yes, Ed was out there one-upping me today! We avoid eye contact, but we definitely communicate.) The s.o. and I were going to go sell some things at the local flea market tomorrow morning, but obviously that's not happening in this weather. Guess I'll keep doing the only things I've been doing lately--painting the house, working, and watching sports.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Olympic notes, part 3, and a bit of local news

The s.o. is a little disgusted with his dad. When he called us the other day, the s.o. asked him, "Are you watching the Olympics?"

"Nah," his dad replied dismissively. "The men's basketball team sucks. I'd rather watch the women if they're gonna play like that."

"So you're watching the women?"

"Uh, no."

This is the most interesting and thrilling Olympics we're ever likely to see. Fergodsakes, they're running the marathon on the actual original route from Marathon to Athens. They're shot-putting in the stadium at Olympia!

I toured Greece with a group of fellow students during the month of January, 1991 (which, if you're keeping track, means we got sent home a few days early when our country saw fit to invade Iraq the first time). I've stood in most of the places I'm seeing on TV. I've even run a little footrace in that stadium in Olympia (everyone who goes there does it--it's impossible to resist). I can't tell you what a thrill it is for me to see those sweeping vistas at Delphi on my television. And even if you don't get the tingle I'm getting, there's so much cool educational stuff interspersed with the sporting events. Yesterday we learned about the founder of the modern Olympics (an idealistic French guy who had his heart interred 1/4 mile from the Olympia stadium when he died) and the first person to win a track and field gold medal there (a very hung-over American, it turns out). These are things we would probably never have the opportunity to hear about otherwise.

The events have been full of drama, too. My respect for Paul Hamm has zillion-tupled after seeing him claw his way back to a gold after stumbling so badly on a vault that he practically ended up in a judge's lap. The s.o. was shouting "Rigged!" when he saw the final result. But I don't see how. The vault score may have been a little too gentle, but Hamm earned his scores in the last two events. He performed nearly perfectly, through sheer force of will. And nobody could have predicted that the other gymnasts would stumble, opening the door for him to sneak in.

In that same meet, our second-tier men's gymnast, Brett McClure, exceeded everyone's expectations. So did the South Korean gymnasts, showing that once South Korea puts together a slightly deeper roster, they're going to be very tough to beat in the team competition.

Meanwhile, our swimmers have proven that if there's anything more powerful and full of Olympic spirit than an individual athlete, it's a group of individual athletes working as a team.

And even the most jaded person can marvel at the sculpted, dolphin-like beauty that is Ian Thorpe. (I know I do!) There is something for everyone.


Yesterday the s.o. and I went to the town five miles south of us to check out an auction. Several months ago, the mayor of the town had called the sheriff on the phone and, sobbing, had shot himself in the head while the sheriff listened. The sheriff sent the ambulance, but the mayor was already dead when it arrived. It turned out the mayor's finance company had been bilking elderly people from here to Atlanta, and that the mayor owed millions of dollars to a great variety of people and was about to face a fraud inquiry the next morning.

Anyhow, the mayor owned buildings all over town, not to mention tons of farm equipment, pickup trucks, sports memorabilia, and a speedboat. All these things are being auctioned so that the people who were owed money have a chance at recouping some of it. Yesterday was the viewing of the items, and today they'll actually be auctioned off.

We looked at the stuff, but there were only a couple of things we wanted--some beautiful late-1800s buildings and the speedboat--and of course these were things we couldn't afford. Most of the rest was crap. All the man's Oriental rugs were cheesy reproductions. All his sports memorabilia were pointless. The art was ugly and mostly just prints. And the home and office furniture, needless to say, was hideous.

The strangest item was $32 in one-dollar bills, arranged in a grid and framed. Why would anyone hang that on a wall?

I guess it's true that money--especially ill-gained money--doesn't buy happiness. This guy cheated and stole...for what? Reproduction NFL lockers? Guns? Clown paintings?

It's a funny thing...when I look at the remnants of a life like that, I start thinking that the s.o. and I are somehow way richer than our paychecks would imply.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Artist's renditions

Just calling 'em like I see 'em:

Michael Phelps is an amazing swimmer and I'm proud to have him represent our country. However, he needs to PULL UP HIS SPEEDOS before there is an unfortunate flashing incident!

Someone needs to get Svetlana Khorkina a sandwich. Now.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Olympic notes, part 2

Can you tell I'm a fanatical Olympics geek?

Last night the s.o. and I stayed up super-late, which is the only way to see Olympic coverage that's not completely U.S.-centric. As a result, we got to watch Argentina pull out an incredible men's basketball win over Serbia & Montenegro. Really enjoyed that.

Today it is my duty to report that one of our men's beach volleyball teams has had its clock cleaned by a pair of Canadians. Hundreds of miles of California coastline, and this is the best we can do! Ouch. But to give credit where it's due, the Canadians were fantastic blockers and apparently have a great new coach.

Observation: Indoor volleyball is a noisy sport. Lots of screaming and shouting and buffetting of bodies, like basketball. It reminds me that back when I taught geology classes at the University of Iowa, I had a student named Themba Aikens who was on the volleyball team. She was about 6'2" and had some of the most incredibly styled hair extensions I've ever seen in my life. She was not one of the top students because I think her athletic schedule demanded a lot of her, but she was really involved and active in the class. I liked her a ton. For years I've hoped to see her on TV or hear her name out there, but she's probably, what, 29 or 30 by now, which is oldish for an athlete. Best of luck to you, Themba, wherever you are.

And...BREAKING NEWS FROM THE POOL...the Greeks have just won a well-deserved gold medal in men's synchronized diving!!! I can't remember the last time I saw anyone so happy. One of the guys was so excited that he broke the eternal rule about running by the pool and nearly fell down. Kudos to them!

Olympic notes, part 1

• The U.S. is dominant so far in beach volleyball, one of my favorite sports to watch (and to play, for that matter, although I I'm no great asset to any team, and I generally play it with about eight people per side). Our volleyball players are also dominant in dermal sun damage.

• I had no idea there was such a thing as synchronized diving. Every Olympics there is some sport that takes me by surprise by its very existence. Turns out this one is very cool to watch. I especially liked the British duo who were exact opposites in body type (one tall and lanky, the other short and stout) but who managed to be identical enough to pull out a 4th place anyway.

• Our basketball team sucks so badly that we got trounced by our own tiny island protectorate.

• Australians can really swim. (Duh.)

• Water polo is the most spectator-hostile of all Olympic sports. It's 28 minutes (on the clock; more in practice) of people in silly little bonnets swimming back and forth along the length of a pool, punctuated by inexplicable whistles. Goals are made, but so what?

• I'm rooting for Mohini Bhardwaj because it is so rare for an actual grown-up woman who has competed at the college level to be an Olympic gymnast. The extra experience has given her an added degree of maturity as a competitor--she just looks nicer and more artistic out there. I gather some of the little girls on the team are capable of greater feats and are the ones expected to medal, but a lot of them have been stepping out of bounds and stumbling so far. This has resulted in lots of shouting at the TV: "What the hell's wrong with you people?! Kerri Strug could stick that landing on one foot!"
I suspect the Romanians are going to end the competition by telling us, "You got served."

Saturday, August 14, 2004

I can't resist a good meme

I utterly failed Ian's quiz and then decided to make one of my own.

I made a Quiz for you! Take my Quiz! and then Check out the Scoreboard!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Unnervingly accurate horoscope

Courtesy of Vanity Fair's Michael Lutin:

Mercury's retrograde again, damn it. Actually, it's no big deal this time, though it may alert you to the disquieting fact that your place is in total chaos now. What else can you expect when you're in the midst of a home-improvement project of this magnitude? Planets clustering in your solar 4th house always cause some turmoil, emotional or otherwise, and your family constellation is in a state of change. At least you're getting a five-minute breather from the usual anxiety over money. That's good news, isn't it?

Of course, I'll be finishing my taxes in the next couple of days (I've postponed till August 15 again), so the "breather" won't last...

No sleep

The s.o. and I have both been stuffed up lately, for two different reasons. For him, it's the fact that he ate a bowl of Turtle Tracks ice cream and then realized he's just as lactose-intolerant as he's always been. He has spent the last couple of days sneezing and blowing snot into a giant pile of tissues next to his computer.

For me, it's the fact that I finally sanded the dining room walls. *applause*
I wear a mask when I sand, of course, but the dust gets everywhere. I've been hacking up white goo ever since.

So last night we were already getting a great start on a night of congested not-sleeping when the storm rolled in. It came fast. One minute I thought I heard a couple of spatters of rain; the next there was a loud CRACK! and both the s.o. and I jumped three feet out of bed. Lightning kept striking close and hard. By the time it was past, we both felt caffeinated. We lay in bed twitching for hours.

I think I had just dropped off to sleep when a work-related call came in this morning. I woke up instantly and tried to bolt out of bed and take the call in my office, but I was pinned in place by the cat. I took the call in bed, which of course woke the s.o.

So I'm up now. It's still raining. I missed the trash pickup (dammit!) and I'm wet because I had to stand out under an ineffective umbrella while the dogs sniffed around. What a great start.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

What's in a name?

Why do we even bother giving our pets names when we know we're going to call them something else anyway? Taxi is almost never "Taxi." She's "Kitty," like all the other cats in the known universe.

Silver has a dignified and beautiful name, but we can't leave it alone. Occasionally she's "Silverado," which makes her sound like a pickup truck. But in everyday parlance, she's our little "Pookie." She must hate us sometimes.

Cairo is the youngest and the newest to the family, but he's already got more names than the other two combined. The most common is "Shady" or "Slim Shady," because he's in the habit of lying underneath large, sheltering objects. (We think this was how he survived when he was out in the world, starving and trying to heal from having his legs broken.) And, well, he's thin. Eats twice as much as Silver does and burns it right off.

Once in a while we call him "Pogo" for the way he walks.

As you may recall, Cairo was named after Mr. Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon. So formally he's "Mr. Cairo," "Mr. C.," or "MC" for short. That has led to his newest name, "MC Tripod." We keep coming back to hip-hop names, dunno why.


Last year, the s.o. got it in his head that he was going to teach Silver to talk. She's a very smart creature, and she already made those "Ooooowwww" kind of yawning noises dogs make, so it was a fairly simple matter to teach her to say "Out" when she wanted to go outside. Once we were at a friend's house and she walked up to us and said "Out" so clearly that all the color drained from our friend's face. It quite honestly spooked him.

Since then, the s.o. has made an effort to teach Silver to say "Food" and also to speak his name (which is monosyllabic and not heavy on consonants, so it's not impossible). She has tried with great enthusiasm, but really all the words end up sounding a lot like "Out."

Talking is one of the coolest tricks around, but there's a downside. Silver used to be an unusually silent dog, but now she sounds like Chewbacca. It's funny if you're in the mood for it.

Cairo doesn't talk. He barks at interlopers every once in a while, but he doesn't make that yawning noise that so easily lends itself to speech. But that doesn't mean he can't communicate. He has learned that if he wants to go out, he can tell me by stabbing me repeatedly in the arm with his nose. We call this "snouting." It's hard to type when there's a dog snouting your arm.

And that's why I must go now...

Monday, August 09, 2004


We've congregated at A's house. A is a soundman and one of the all-time nicest, coolest guys around. He's a natural good cook--the kind of person who's comfortable enough in the kitchen to experiment wildly and get away with it.

"Damn, these are good ribs! What's in this sauce?" the s.o. is asking him.

"There's two cans of pureed fruit cocktail..."


J's fiance' F walks in with a plate of nicely charred sweet corn in the husk, and I am momentarily distracted from A's recipe. Someone's looking for butter and salt. F favors a squeeze of lime on his corn instead. I tune back in to A's recipe and I know I've lost the gist of it.

"...And it still needed that certain something. Then I saw this jar of grape jelly in the fridge, so I threw in some of that, too."

There's mashed potatoes, green beans tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, hummus with Red Hot Blue chips, cherry pie. Eventually we are all too stuffed to move. Some are sitting in lawn chairs around the bonfire, hitching to one side or the other every time the wind shifts the smoke toward them.

There are ants on the ground that keep climbing up our pantlegs. To thwart them, J and I have suspended ourselves in midair on a hammock. It's hard to get situated because the hammock keeps dumping us both toward the middle and we find ourselves elbowing each other or clunking heads. Eventually we end up sitting yoga-style, facing each other. We're talking about the college courses that almost did us in. Her nemesis was "Geology of the National Parks," which could have been fascinating but turned out to be a weed-out course full of pointless memorization.

"Kaibab Limestone," she says. "I remember that to this day."

"Vishnu Schist," I pipe up. She smiles broadly.

"Are you ready to get up?" J inquires.

"Think so," I say, stretching. We bobble slightly and regain our balance.

"On the count of three, we put our right feet down," she says.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

One step forward, one step in a cowpattie

I finally finished painting the m*therf*cking dining room ceiling.

Only two more rooms with beadboard ceilings left.

*teeth grinding*

Aw, hell, it's happening. And I'm glad. In the meantime, to quote an acquaintance of mine from college, "Pour some more wine on me."

It's a nice grenache-shiraz mix, actually, and I'm really enjoying it.

(In a Yahoo group I'm a member of, we call this a PUI, or "posting under the influence." Be advised.)

While I've been working indoors this last week and a half, something has happened. A plague has descended on the garden. First there were the leggy, sticklike bugs that sucked the juice out of the tomatoes. Then there were weird shiny black bugs that devoured the leaves of the eggplants and chard. Rabbits ate the leaves off the okra (although, amusingly, not the pods...does any creature except a southern U.S. human actually like them?). Finally, a herd of deer broke into the garden and stampeded through the tomato patch, flattening all the plants and taking one bite from each fruit.

And the weeds kept growing, consuming all in their path.

I can't deal with it. There is only so much of me to go around. And so I've hell with it. I'll keep harvesting what's harvestable, and I won't stress over the rest. I have to work on the house--the house has waited long enough. And I have my real job to do, too! There will always be next year for gardening. And lots of stuff is still coming: cucumbers, squash, melons, pumpkins, eggplant. I'll find joy in what survives.

Refill, anyone? *clink*

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Today is... of those hazy, hot summer days when everything is paintbox-bright and vivid. I walked around the property and took these shots:

Our lantanas, roses, and sedum are positively dancing with little yellow butterflies. Incidentally, in the background that's a gi-normous clump of lemongrass. I never had any success with the stuff before, but now we're in Thai food heaven.

On the edge of the woods, the kudzu is blooming. As much as I hate kudzu for being invasive and evil, I have to admit that the grapey-smelling blossoms are a treat. The moth on the right-hand blossom thinks so, too.
By the way, apologies for the blurriness. The vine was swinging to and fro in the breeze and the camera just couldn't decide what to focus on!

These roses are right by the bedroom window and bloom several times a year. The bush is huge and indestructable. It's plagued by black-spot and mildew all the time, but it keeps blooming anyway.

The pears seem to be ripening early this year. Already the wind is knocking some of them down, and in the morning we find pear cores everywhere from the midnight snacking sessions of the neighborhood deer.

Work, work, work! By the way, the ever-handy s.o. made this compost bin out of leftover porch lumber and sticks from the woods.


There are some things animals aren't equipped to handle--modern inventions that several million years' evolution has not prepared them for. So last night, when Cairo got his head looped in the cable that connects the joystick to the Playstation, his immediate reaction was to tug and backpedal as much as a dog with only three legs can.

I sprang from my chair and tried to grab the cable, but I was too late.


"What the hell was that?" called the s.o. from the kitchen, where he was grabbing one of the insanely addictive peanut butter brownies I made the previous day.

"Cairo got his head caught in the Playstation," I called back.

Rarely have I seen the s.o. move so quickly. Cairo, already bewildered, started and skittered into a corner.

The s.o. picked up the unit and reconnected the plugs. Then he started shouting something that sounded like "Ox! Ox!" Luckily I knew he meant "Aux," which is the channel before 1 that auxiliary machines such as Playstations and DVD players use. I hit the channel button on the remote.

A peaceful Playstation setup screen greeted us. No tragedy in Vice City tonight.

"Whew," the s.o. panted. Then he affected an air of casual-ness. "They make those things tough so they can stand abuse from children," he reasoned.

"Can I go back to watching 'Law & Order'?" I asked.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Things I'm tired of

(1) Cee-lo's "My Braves" theme song, not to mention the blatantly racist chant and the little tomahawk-chop thing that Atlanta Braves fans are encouraged to do in the stands. I grew up with this same sort of thing, thanks to the Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo. It sucks. Here, baseball boys, let me fix this for you: You are now the Atlanta Planters, the Cleveland Longshoremen, and the Washington Lumberjacks. Playyyyyyyyy ball!

(2) Painting the beadboard ceilings in this house. Ow ow ow ow ow...

That about covers it for now.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Fun with TV

I haven't had much time lately to watch television. But I manage to sneak a little in.

I was watching "Realtime" the other night when this happened. It was just as hilarious as it looks in the photo. Maher and Moore were wringing their hands and repeating, "We're on our knees, Ralph!" Nice.

I also watched a couple of episodes of "Law & Order: SVU." It's my favorite L&O franchise. I try to catch it whenever it's on, and I'll watch several episodes in a row if given the opportunity. I finally owned up to the reason: Detective Elliot Stabler. And no, I don't mean Christopher Meloni, the actor who plays him. It's sweet, manly, funny Stabler I love. The real-life actor appears to be the kind of guy who would accept a tacky bit part in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. I haven't seen it, but I'm guessing it can't be good.