Saturday, October 30, 2004

The price of progress

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

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


Friday, October 29, 2004

So fresh and so clean, clean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


"What was the scent?"

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

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

What a relief!

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

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

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

In a fog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 25, 2004

Equal time

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

Sunday, October 24, 2004

We have recently noticed...

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

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

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

Time: Not on my side?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 21, 2004


No, our house isn't being broken into.

Nobody's knocking at the door.

No deer in the yard.

No stray dogs.

No sirens or rifle shots.

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Cigarette State*

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

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


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

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Oh hell, why not?

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

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

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

Monday, October 18, 2004


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

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

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

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The words she knows, the tune she hums

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

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

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

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Victories, pyrrhic victories, and all-out fuckups

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 14, 2004


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Eye-olus?" I attempted.

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


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

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


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

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


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

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

Monday, October 11, 2004

Spectacular in a country sort of way

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

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

Under cover of darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 09, 2004

A question for my British readers

What do you call an English muffin?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Local holiday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(4) Try on shoes.

(5) Cruise housewares, books, and blouses.

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

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

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

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

• 1 pair pointy tan mules

• 1 pair pink suede buckled flats

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

• 1 black suede shirt-jacket

• 1 very flattering sheerish black blouse

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

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

• 1 really good-looking pan-Asian cookbook

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

A success, I'd say.

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

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

House drudgery

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 02, 2004


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

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

And here's the proof

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

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

Friday, October 01, 2004

Itinerary, part deux

Saturday, Sept. 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, Sept. 26

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

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

And that's the weekend that was...