Monday, October 31, 2005

A Typical Sunday

Jackson has discovered the fireplace, and either he finds it very good or very not good: it's hard to tell. He spends all day digging all the ashes out, which spreads them all over, and I do mean all over, the living room, and trying to wedge himself into the fireplace. Then he bays up the chimney. I guess he likes the echo. He bays every 2 - 8 seconds. I know, because I timed him this afternoon, when I was trying in vain to take a nap. It is possible to distract him from the fireplace with food, or treats, or the promise of a walk, but then he goes right back to the damn fireplace. It's a bit wearing.

So this afternoon after making waffles I walked out the back door to read. I nimbly avoided the three new dead voles and the remnants of the older dead voles and hung out in the sunshine, reading Terry Pratchett. M came out to join me and we ended up playing a gloriously destructive variant of baseball with gourds and a 3 foot piece of 2 x 2. If you hit a green gourd hard enough with a 2 x 2, it explodes in a beautiful shower of gourd rind and flesh and seeds and juice. It's great, and you can do it several times, because gourds are big, and each piece has explosion potential. However, a badminton racquet will not work well, although the breaking of the racquet has its own intrinsic wonderfulness. Then you can hit cherry tomatos with pieces of gourd neck, or with the 2x2 (they go right through the badminton racquet.) Half rotten cherry tomatoes splatter beautifully.

We left the house and the baying dog and went to see the Wallace and Gromit movie, which was totally wonderful, and to eat sandwiches at the brew & view, and came home some six hours later to Jackson, who was still baying every few seconds up the chimney. I don't understand why my neighbors haven't firebombed my house yet; I guess it's just a matter of time. So we built a fire, which tends to distract Jackson a bit, although not enough, and watched Salem's Lot, which was really scary, and not just for the vampires: the clothing, particularly David Soul's extremely tight jeans, was completely terrifying all by itself. A decided to mend her feather comforter (guess who chewed a hole in it?) and brought it out to the living room so she could share the incredible snow globe like cascade of feathers with all of us, thus mixing them nicely with the thin coating of ash that Jackson put all over the living room. It kind of looks like a chicken house on Mt. St. Helens in there now, and we all, including the dogs, look like we were sitting in that chicken house when the volcano went off. Somewhere in the middle of all this Mr. Bill, the more neurotic cat, did his usual loud meowing freak out in the kitchen, and now I'm going to bed. Because even I can't quite believe I live like this. But I suppose I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Dr. Phibes Rises Again and other Halloween Stuff

Ah the joys of managing to ignore the siren call of getting all costumed up and hitting the bars to celebrate Halloween. Don't get me wrong - I'm all about the Halloween; it's like my sacred holiday, like Easter for Christians, like Christmas for Capitalists, like, well, like Memorial Day for those who have been longing to liberate their closets full of white shoes. Or something. I venerate and adore Halloween, but I'm a stickler for tradition, and it's on a Monday this year. So people are trying to celebrate it tonight, or, okay, looking at the clock, last night. It won't do. I just can't get worked up about getting dressed up on the 29th of October, sorry. No. It must be the 31st, and even my unemployed dissolute self is not wastrel enough to go forth becostumed and drunken into a Monday night. Monday night is sacred for doomed resolutions, hangover cures, and closet cleaning. Or possibly Quizzo.

So on this Saturday night I stayed home. My friend D came over and between us we killed a 12 pack of PBR and watched, with M, Uzumaki, a very, very weird Japanese B-rated horror film, in which a medium sized town is terrorized by, (wait for it) spirals! yes, spirals, ooooooh; and then one of my eternal favorites, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, which I recorded, complete with commercials, off Baltimore's Channel 54 at some point in the last 15 years. Some point at which women's hair was still rather big, but commercials were still recognizable. I might be deeply sick, and in fact I probably am, but I think there is nothing in cinematic history to compare to Vulnavia gliding in gauze from one carefully realized 1970s dream of an Egypt inspired Art Deco nightmare to another, complete with insanely complex ways of murdering people, clockwork musicians and Vincent Price's voiceover. Too brilliant. And Uzumaki, in which I'm never quite sure what is weird and spooky and what is, well, just Japanese, is great too.

It was lovely. We made a fire, which discouraged Jackson, who had spent the entire day digging out the fireplace and baying up the chimney, and ate chicken burritos, and watched bizarre semi horror flicks. A sulked for a while and then got a phone call which magically transmogrified her in about 15 minutes from sullen 22 year old hungover waitress to Glamourous Gangster Moll and sashayed out the door. Good for her. Thank god I got to stay home.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Dead Things

A brief but seasonally appropriate post (my son M is home from school and getting months worth of computer time in 48 hours) anyway, there are a lot of Dead Things around my house. Last weekend there was a Dead Squirrel in the living room, and even as I type there are two Dead Voles right outside the back steps. As we know from a quick reread of the archives, there have been lots n' lots of Dead Things all summer.

Let us just suppose that these Dead Things, inspired perhaps by the season, by the halloween decorations, or by the Cancer Tent of plastic on the back porch (I hung plastic all around my back porch. It's kind of scary. A began singing "In a white room, with dark curtains. . ." and one cigarette takes on the strength of ten), become reanimate. Then we will be fighting an army of zombie voles, baby rabbits, and squirrels. I just asked M what we should use to fight this army. He said, "I think we're going to have to go with loud obnoxious music by Korn." So we're getting ready. We have CDs.

Likely to happen any minute now.

Also, I went to the Asheville Bloggers Halloween get together, and it was fabulous. And also, Viking Kittens!

Good Parties Cheer You Up

I threw a really great dinner party last night and I am all, like, proud of myself and shit. I have been down as hell this week, thinking nobody loved me and I needed a whole new set of friends and I was a gawky social disaster who probably should retire to that book lined cave in Tibet I'm always whinging on about (wait, haven't I brought that up here yet?) but then, after various soup related disasters, I succeeded in having a really nice party with people I adore and it all went swimmingly. Except for the part where Jackson tried to kill my friend D's dog Earl just at the moment when everyone, especially the token baby, was arriving. That part was not so great. But everything else, including, if I do say so myself, the way spectacular food (squash soup, big salad, baguettes, selection of cheeses) was.

Who attended this shindig?
D the kayaker who is the most wonderful person to go camping with in the world, since he camps in style and makes fabulous food.
D my Michigan friend who has finally quit his horrible job where I used to work and gotten a really excellent job doing what he loves, yay.
J my best friend who allowed me to roast squash in her oven all day, thank you.
J my other best friend who washed all the dishes and is a saint among women, now she needs a new job too.
A, of course, who bought a fancy bottle of wine and was sad when she couldn't press it on this crowd of unregenerate beer drinkers, so she polished it off herself.
F & M & their sweet baby M, Asheville bloggers, very cool, and he is the easiest kid at a dinner party I've ever seen, by far better than mine ever were.
K my old college roommate, looking unbelievably chic and glamourous as always.
C the evil and unrelentingly hilarious mastermind of the restaurant equipment galaxy.
And me, your humble hostess. And somehow we all squeezed in around my dining room table. And the two damn dogs, who weren't all that bad.

I must do a shout out and mad props, hee hee. Thank all the deities for the glory that is Pabst Blue Ribbon. It is the only alcoholic beverage in the world which if I drink it, and only it, over the course of an evening, I will awaken totally fine and hangover free even though I was cheerfully buzzed the night before. Rock on, I say, oh PBR, god among beers, rock on.

apple pie halloween

apple pie halloween
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
The delightful apple pie I made for my party last night. Yes, in a fit of MarthaStewartesqueness, those are indeed little pumpkins and bats made of pie crust adorning the top of the pie. It was a good pie, although perhaps a little dry, since when I was driving it home from my mom's, where I baked it, most of the juices spilled out onto the front seat of the car, which will now be sticky forevermore. Still it was yum. And it disappeared quickly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

God Damn

I spent the entire day at my mothers', making this fantastic roasted squash soup for my party tomorrow. It's a wonderful soup. It takes 4 - 5 hours to make. It was great. It smelled so great, and it tasted great, and it was a little thick, so I asked her if she had any chicken broth. Yes, she said, and took some out of the freezer.

That was the point where I should have said, knowing, as I do, that her cooking is a little wobbly these days and some stuff in her freezer is antique, and that it's chancy at best, "Thanks, but no, I'd rather use canned." If I had said that, everything would now be fine and I would be all happy and my day would not have been completely wasted.

But instead I said, "Oh, thanks" and defrosted the chicken broth and stupidly, stupidly dumped it into my soup without tasting or even smelling it. Where it promptly turned my huge stock pot full of wonderful soup into swill. Swill that I had to throw away because I was too proud and also a little afraid to serve it, in case it killed my guests, and also it was beyond fixing. So now I have to do the. entire. fucking. thing. again. tomorrow. At a friend's house if I can find one who will entrust me with their front door key. Because I have no oven, and I haven't had an oven in months, and I may never have an oven again, and this soup requires an oven.

So tomorrow, instead of being all organized and ready, I will have to go back to the grocery store and buy all the ingredients, which aren't cheap, again, and get it all ready to be roasted, and go to a friends' house and put it in her oven for 2 1/2 hours and go home and clean frantically and go to the fancy grocery store and get good bread and cheese and etc. Instead of only having to clean up and change the batteries on the halloween decorations.

I swear I'm cursed. I am cursed. There is a black cloud over my head and it's never going away. Oh, and I shouldn't drink whisky, and if you saw the rant I posted last night, which no longer exists thank god, than you agree with me.

Monday, October 24, 2005

A Boring Cranky Post

I'm all cranky and cold. It's cold, and I can't afford to turn the heat on, and my fingers are getting numb at the keyboard. Saturday I was deathly, and I do mean deathly, hungover all day - as you may have been able to guess by reading those two posts below - and yesterday I was cranky and so I cleaned my whole house. Now my house is trashed again because about 8 hours after I swept up all the camping foam that Jackson had shredded, he went and found a couple of stuffed animals and disemboweled them all over the living room. The dog is just not happy unless he is surrounded by tiny fragments. A is thinking maybe we could donate him to a junkyard or somewhere that they need to shred things, so I'm looking into it. He'd be a great organic mobile paper shredder for politicians' offices, but what he really excels in is upholstery.

The wind is howling and I have to wrap my house in plastic. Yuck. What a drag. The landlord hasn't told me yet whether my chimney is safe for fires and I'm more than a little curious, since I really want to build a fire, if not right now, then definitely Thursday night. Thursday night I'm having a dinner party. Because I still have no oven, I'm going to my mother's all day on Wednesday to do all the roasting preparations - make bread and a pie and roast the veggies for a nice fall roasted veggie/squash soup.

And, as I mentioned, I'm cranky. I'm lonely and I'm bored and I want someone to hang out with, and I'm tired of the fact that every time I bestir myself to even start to like a guy, he immediately freaks out and disappears, or cuts my heart out with a knife, or just gets pale and backs away babbling, "Uh, I'm sorry, never in a thousand years, get back you freak!" I swear I haven't turned into a cephalopod for, like, 1000 years, and I don't know what is so freaking wrong with me, but I'm starting to feel like I have tentacles growing out of unsightly places. Other people seem to have no trouble whatsoever moving from lover to lover but me? It's like I used up my lifetime quota of boyfriends, my relationship karma is shot, and, to paraphrase Richard Brautigan, if I'd been dead for 10 days I still couldn't attract a male fly. It really feels hopeless and, yes, thanks, I'd like to wallow in self pity now.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Ghost of Boyfriends Past

So I went out drinkin' with my friend J tonight, and high time too. She's been sad over a boyfriend but she's coming back and jesus, I'm so glad. Because I am a selfish bitch and she's my main chick and drinking partner and it's been boring as hell without her. Also, okay, because I'm glad she's starting to feel better. I've tried to be helpful, saying helpful things like, "Christ, he's only a guy. Who cares?" and "Have you tried several bottles of Jack Daniels?" and "Do you want to go toilet paper his house? Because I'll help." but oddly, that stuff hasn't done much. Time is the only thing that does much, as we all, women of a certain age (that would be over 13) know. At any rate, she's snapping back to my wonderful artist friend J and as we walked away from the Frog Bar we met the recently minted Asheville Ghost Tour.

"Great." said J. "I could give them the Ghost of Boyfriends Past Tour." Yes. This is a brilliant and possibly even a lucrative idea. I envision my own Ghost of Boyfriends Past Tour, for some reason, in the form of classical Greek Drama. As written by Euripides on an off night. Or not Euripides maybe, perhaps someone more depressing. Who wrote the Oedipus cycle? Besides Robert Graves and Robert DeNiro? I want him. And, as an aside, hey, people of the future? When you find the fragments of my world renowned works, well, it's absolutely imperative that they be performed out loud, while walking, smoking tobacco cigarettes, drinking beer and wearing black lace bustiers, embroidered jeans, high heeled sandals with ankle straps and pink feather boas. Great, great, that looks really good. Thanks. (maniacal laughter from beyond the grave)

Narrator (dressed in, what the hell else, a suit. Maybe a black suit? Or pinstripes?) Very white. So white he couldn't really, without clorox, be much whiter.) Okay, it's time for the Ghost of Boyfriends Past! We're starting out on Patton Avenue, where we will find Jack of the Wood. Let's pause for a moment to recapitulate how Felicity met J.
Chorus: (White togas, honey.) Waaaaaaoooooooohhhhhhhhhhh!!!
Narrator: Felicity spent a lot of time here on the Group W bench with J.
Chorus: AAAAAAAAAAasaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuugggggghhhhhhhhhhhh!!
Narrator 2: (This is Zsa Zsa Gabor, or the closest approximation you can find.) Dahlink! Ignore this J boy, he was unimportant dahlink! Let us move on to Hannah Flanagans, where Felicity often met. . .(drum roll, sinister electronic noises) B!
Chorus (writhing): AAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaoooooooooouuuuugggggggggggggghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!
Narrator 1: Or here, this is the Bier Garten, where B sat with Felicity on their very first date and then again, later, when things . . . weren't going so well.
Chorus: She's Datin' Satan! It was doomed from the start! AAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaoooooooooohhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can I Get A Witness?!?!?!?!?
Narrator 2: But Dahlink, let's go to Barleys! Felicity often met here for lunch with B, incognito!
Chorus: It's not a good idea to date people who are pretending you're just frieeeeeeeennnnnnnnnddddddddsssss!!!!!!!!!! Ooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhh!!!!!!!

And so on. There is a certain relief involved in not dating anyone at all, I must say.

Theo, Sidekick Forever

Just watching Theo now, I'm realizing how horribly he has been shortchanged in the karmic sweepstakes. As have we all, yes, but Theo does have it rough. He's eternally matched with dogs with stronger personalities. Now, I have for a long time believed that Theo was Jim Morrison reincarnated, based mostly on his long hair and fondness for panties, but if that's true it sheds a new and unsettling light on Morrison's personality, the kind of light that biographers must look at quite harshly.

tobyTheo is a sidekick. He can't help it. He came along as Toby was getting older, and Toby was the coolest dog ever, in the history of the world. Yeah, you may think you know a cool dog - Toby was cooler. Sorry. Among other things, whenever people started playing music in the house, Toby would sit behind the lead guitar and twitch his ears in time. No lie. I miss Toby horribly. Toby - well, shit. Toby. Toby was John Lennon.

Toby died, and I miss him every day. Then along came Jackson. Jackson is certifiable, there's no doubt about that. He's completely fucking insane and a royal pain in the ass. But, he's larger than life. He's like Kurt Cobain. He's a force of nature.

So, you know, Jim Morrison always has to take second string to John Lennon and Kurt Cobain. It's painful, but it's true.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Hormones, Dogs and The Truth About Men

I took a long walk with the dogs this morning, down to the river, which was misty and utterly beautiful. Yes, Jackson is still among the living - even living at my house. As I walked I realized something: okay, I was in the major, major throes of PMS the other day when I decided he had to die. My friend J gently mentioned this to me last night on the phone and I was forced to agree. You see, when I have PMS, shooting the dog seems like a logical and in fact utterly natural conclusion that has to be done right now because it is obviously the only answer, dammit! There is no other solution! It might be a good thing that I don't own a gun, come to think of it. Now that I'm coming down from the PMS, perhaps I will let him live. If he doesn't pee on my bed again, because if he does that, all bets are off and I'll probably just strangle him with my bare hands.

However, what I realized is far more important and wide reaching than the life of one dog: men feel like that all the time. Shooting something always seems like a logical and natural conclusion to them and they never come down. This explains a lot. All has been made clear, from the geo-political realities of our time to why I don't date: males are in a permanent state of PMS. Bummer.

There's another reason why I might be able to keep this dog, and it has to do with my ongoing love affair with the internet. Thanks to Google, I found the Scat Mat last night and I think it might just save my sanity, my house, and my dog's life. I'm ordering one. Possibly two. Sure, I can't afford it, but hell, I can't not afford it. I had been thinking of going to Tractor Supply and buying some electric fence and stringing it around the living room, which sounds kind of chancy and also rather a bold decorating move (hell, why stop with electric fence? Barbed wire makes such a great statement!) but then I found this thing. The scat mat will shock the little fucker and keep him off my couch and maybe we can all coexist after all. PMS or no PMS.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Revenge Squirrel

Yesterday there was a dead squirrel in the living room. I suspect Barbieri, who I caught stalking a squirrel in the front yard the other day, although I warned him to stop, since while he's a deadly and effective hunter, he's a small cat, and the squirrels in my yard are big fat healthy monster squirrels. However, one of them, obviously, died. Could have been a heart attack, for all I know, or maybe some kind of demented Mafia chieftain left it in my living room as a message. I dealt with the dead squirrel - which was unpleasant - and put it out of my mind. For about 5 minutes, because after five minutes these incredible noises began from the vicinity of the back door.

I went outside. There was a furious squirrel in the hedge, screaming at Barbieri and Theo. When it saw me it stepped up its complaints, rocking back and forth and saying all kinds of nasty things in squirrel language. I mean this squirrel was worked up. This squirrel was mad. This squirrel was taking no prisoners. Frankly, this squirrel made me a little nervous. I got much more nervous when the damn thing made like it was going to leap at me. In fact I got so nervous that A, who I had summoned outside to see the furious squirrel, and I jumped back into the house screaming and slammed the door. Then we tried to get Jackson to go out and bay at it, but his obsessive/compulsive heart has been won by the piece of army surplus camping foam that he's currently shredding into a million tiny bits all over the house, and he wouldn't abandon it for a squirrel.

The squirrel, screaming insults and fury, ran to the neighbors roof and from there to the front of the house. Okay, fine, squirrel gone, right? Wrong. Squirrel ran around the house to come back and yell and threaten us some more with the righteous vengeance of the squirrel. It must have been the deceased's boyfriend or girlfriend, and it must have seen the cats and/or the dogs kill its lover. So I feel bad for the squirrel, I accept that I have some guilt here by association, but I'm also slightly afraid of squirrels. I kept the door closed.

This morning it was on the front porch, clinging to the bricks, and ready to yell at us. It's only a matter of time before it finds a tiny submachine gun or recruits an army of other squirrels (motto: We're fed up with being killed by dogs and cars and we're reading Machiavelli! Also, we have tiny incendiary devices!) and then, I guess, it'll be history for us. So if you don't hear from me for a while, well, I've probably been fed to the squirrels.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Too Much

Too much reading and too much sleeping and too much of this damn dog. Yesterday, my mother went in for her second surgery, which went really well. Now we know the truth: if you have to have surgery, insist that it happen during regular business hours, or early in the morning. Not at night. That late night surgery stuff is for the birds - the birds who want to be shoved out of the hospital way too fast with no instructions and handed over to the custody of their totally nervous daughters while they're still all fucked up on giant cocktails of drugs. If I was a lawyer, I'd sue - the whole experience yesterday was so different than three weeks ago, and so much more the way it's supposed to be, with solicitous nurses and a long time in two different recovery rooms. In fact, it was the first lengthy and completely coherent conversation I've had with my mother in 3 weeks. I feel better. Which is good, since I have to spend tomorrow moving her back into her house, and that's making me nervous as hell.

The upside of the whole hospital waiting room thing is reading. Yesterday, I read The Time Travellers' Wife by Audrey Niffennegger, which was brilliant and I loved it. Sad and beautiful and mentioned punk rock and real drugs in a perfectly normal everyday tone of voice, which always makes me feel oddly validated as a person, like my life experiences have not been that bizarre and outre, or from another dimension or something. Granted, these mentions were in the context of a book which also includes time travel as a given, but, you know, we fringe characters take what we can get. Three weeks ago at the hospital, fwiw, I read Nadya by Pat Murphy, also brilliant - a story of a werewolf in the American West. All this is good. Then I had to come home last night and today and read Tom Robbins' Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates which I loathed. I think I have outgrown Tom Robbins. Either that, or his new books suck, which is quite possible, or, which is very possible and scary, his books always sucked. I'm afraid now to go back and reread them in case I find out that they are all drivel and always were. He gives me the utter creeps now, and when I was in my teens and twenties I thought he was as a god. But at any rate, I've pretty much been reading steadily for two days, which isn't really all that good for me.

I slept too much too, last night, although it was in chunks due to the antics of that dog, who has decided to destroy the couch, and also seems to be developing what looks a whole lot like obsessive/compulsive disorder. Once he starts destroying something, he just won't stop. Last night was the second night in a row of him pacing and digging into the floor and trying to shred the couch and yesterday and again today I've come to a serious and depressing conclusion (yeah, again) he has to go. This is too much. I can't just keep this fucking animal around to provide me with amusing anecdotes which actually illustrate the underlying desperation of my life: to wit, I can not afford to keep buying new furniture and new blankets and so on and so on. And I need my sleep. And I don't want to get kicked out of my house because my dog has taken to chewing holes in the floor. Nothing I do gets through to this animal and he just needs more help than I, or anyone, can give him. I feel like the kindest thing to do would be just to shoot him and bury him and I wish I was tough enough to do that, but I'm not, so I sent off a desperate email to the animal compassion network, and if they can't or won't help me, I'm afraid it's off to the Humane Society he goes, where he'll be miserable and freaked out for the week before they gas him. I feel like the most evil person in the entire world, but really: he's a dog, not a human, I've tried for 6 months, and he's literally destroying my house. It's horrible and insane and true: I'm doing what I always swore I'd never do and valuing material things over living ones, but Jesus, this is the second couch in 6 months, he just chewed a hole in my rug, he pisses on my bed on a regular basis, and I no longer have any comforters or throw pillows because he's eaten them all. It's all funny on the blog, but you know what? It's really stopped being funny at home.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Hot Pepper Jelly: An Instructional Post

Okay, I made hot pepper jelly today. I documented every step photographically, because that's just the kind of bored, nerdy, obsessed chick I am. Now, with the magic of technology, I am going to teach you to make hot pepper jelly. Be thrilled. Be excited. Go buy some canning jars. You will also need: 6 cups of sugar, 2 pouches of Certo (liquid fruit pectin), a teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 cups of cider vinegar. And peppers.

First, you will need the raw materials. This is today's haul of peppers from my garden. There were more in the fridge from last week. You're going to need a total of 2 1/2 cups of chopped up peppers, which is quite a lot of peppers. Some people and the real recipe will tell you to use 2 cups of bell peppers and 1/2 cup of hot peppers. Those people are wimps. Use almost all hot peppers.

Now, you have to sterilize the jars. Read the package descriptions. It will confuse you. Basically, you have to wash the jars and lids and then boil them, except don't boil the lids, just almost boil them. I boil the hell out of the jars - handy hint: put a dishtowel in the pot you're boiling them in so they don't crack - and then keep them hot until they're ready to use.

Start by seeding - a vegetable peeler works well for this - and coarsely chopping (that means, big ole chunks) the peppers.

Put the pepper chunks in the food processor. You can use a little of the vinegar if you need it for liquid, like in a blender that freaks out if it doesn't have enough liquid. If you use a food processor like a normal person, you won't need it. I didn't. Dump the pureed peppers, the salt and the vinegar into a saucepan.

This is the part that would be very amusing if I had remembered the camera. This is the part where I realized that I didn't have enough vinegar or sugar, or, for that matter, dry cat food, so I got into my car and went to Ingles and bought those things and returned. Since I didn't photograph this adventure, it's not very interesting. Ah well.

Bring this mixture to a boil over medium heat, lower the heat and simmer it, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Take it off the heat and - this is a big PITA - measure it. You need to have 3 cups. If you have less than 3 cups, add a little water. If you have more, throw some out. 3 cups, exactly - this is your gold standard, your goal, your destination. Put it back in the pan and add the sugar.

Bring the sugared mixture to a full rolling boil where you can't stir it down (boil it over a little, too. I always do) and boil it for one minute, stirring constantly. Take it off the heat and add the pectin, mixing well. Let it cool for 3 minutes.

Ladle it into the hot jars and seal them. If you have more jelly than you have jars, put some in a regular jar and refrigerate it. Plan on eating it soon. Meanwhile, put the jars back into the pots you boiled them in before - what, you poured the water out already? Sucks to be you. Refill the pots so that the sealed jars are fully submerged and then bring to a boil and let them boil for 10 minutes.

Take them out of the boiling water with tongs and put them on a nice pink towel. Voila! You have hot pepper jelly to give away for Christmas and eat with cream cheese and crackers or on bagels or however. Wahoooo!!!

My High School Career

This is where I spent my senior year of high school. Well, until March when I dropped out about 6 hours before being expelled. This is where I spent my junior year, or, okay, the part of it I didn't spend stoned out of my gourd, climbing trees in the Ashley River marshes outside Anne's house or sneaking into Myskyns. Which would lead to my quiet expulsion for skipping school. And this is where I spent 9th and 10th grade, until I got kicked out on suspicion of smoking pot. Suspicion, damn them, they never actually caught me.


I have the Halloween decorations up y'all, and they are awesome. The rest of the pictures are here. I am all happy and shit, because there is just something about decorating in a madly over the top tacky fashion for Halloween (and Christmas) that thrills me to the core. It's a sad Oedipal (Electral, actually, I guess) drama, really: it's what happens when a kid like me is raised by my mother who has perfect and infallible taste. That and it's the culmination of years of work - I've been slowly buying up clearance Halloween and Christmas stuff for years. Finally I have enough where my house is to the point where people slow down as they pass and say, "Well, whoa. Damn. Can you imagine what kind of freak goes to all that trouble?"

A is embarrassed; M will be embarrassed when he comes home. Bwah ha ha ha ha! Parenthood is such joy! They both used to be my cohorts in this, my decorating companions, my shopping buddies - and now they're all cool and horrified by the fact that god mom people are looking at our house why can't you just be normal? Eventually they will have houses of their own, which will be minimally and tastefully decorated, and then they will have children with a strange atavistic longing for the flashy, the tacky, the cheap, the OMG yes! It moves and blinks and lights up purple!

The only problem with my wonderful Halloween decorations is that every single damn thing makes noise, and every noise sets Jackson off into baying. Also, okay, I sympathize with my friend J, who hates my Frankenstein door knocker - that plays Men at Work Who Can It Be Now and then it yells Go Away! Isn't it great?! - with such a passion that she basically refuses to come to my house during the month of October. I called her up and said, "I unpacked your favorite Halloween decoration today!" and she said, "Oh my god. That horrible thing. I can't stand it." and I laughed evilly at some length. But even I must admit that Frankenstein singing, the traveling ghost moaning and the laughing pumpkin, my oldest decoration and the magical possessor of the AA batteries that lasted ten years , gets a bit cacophonous at times and so I have to turn it all off. Which is a pity. But the giant spider still crawls, the skull still glows, and I'm totally cheerful.

Also, I scared the pants off A when she came home from work. I was sitting on the porch and I knew she couldn't see me, so as she came up towards the door I stood up and did my best Dracula, arm to the chin and all, "Gooooood Eeeeeevening!" She screamed, even though I'm wearing a Hawaii T-shirt, combat pants and a plaid flannel. Ha!

Friday, October 14, 2005

On Not Quite Growing Up

I got a surprise phone call last night from my oldest best friend in the entire world, L, who I had lost for about 10 years and just recently rediscovered, thanks to the efforts of another mutual friend, K, who moved here and found me in the Mountain Xpress article on bloggers. She was in town for one night en route to Tennessee with her sister, staying with K and so we all went out to dinner at Salsa's and then back to K's unbelievably beautiful home to drink a couple beers and talk. And talk. And talk.

It was hilarious, great, wonderful and extremely sexually graphic, which was a hoot, because I am not used to being the prude among my friends. These women were getting down with the descriptions, hon, I mean they were not leaving anything to the imagination. I had no idea that's where my G-spot was, but you know, live and learn. I think I had kids too long or something, because when the conversation gets like this I have to fight a nervous urge to hush everyone and check to make sure the kids are really asleep and not listening to vivid descriptions of the difference between clitoral and vaginal orgasms. Even though there were no kids within, probably, a 2 block radius. This attitude ensures that my kids will have to (or already have, god I don't want to know) figure out orgasms all on their own, as nature and the Judeo-Christian god decrees, and I'm okay with that. Really. They can learn from their friends - I certainly do!

My friends have all done really well in their lives and can afford nice stuff and they're happy in their careers, and also they don't have dogs, so their floors stay all clean and shiny, so when I got home last night I confess I was prey to the envy monster. I thought, oh fuck, why have I wasted my life, why didn't I get around to growing up and getting a real job instead of just still being this wild child who goes out to bars and barely makes ends meet and hasn't got anything remotely resembling a career? Why is my house so messy and cluttered and crazy (although actually I cleaned all day yesterday and it looks pretty damn nice, I think.) So I went to bed and, then, of course, had to wonder why is it that at 8:15 in the morning I have two dogs and two cats on my bed telling me it's time to get up and feed the zoo now?

So I took the dogs for a long walk out into the beautiful morning. Jackson throws his head back and bays every time he hears another dog, which is about every 10 feet or so, and people look out their windows and stop what they're doing and say things like "Coon dog! Girl you got your hands FULL now!" and "You walking them or are they walkin' YOU?" Jackson hauls me down the street and Theo holds his leash in his mouth and prances daintily like the poofter he is until he sees another dog at which point he becomes Demon Theo Attack Collie so all in all, walking them is entertaining to say the least.

But as I walked I thought about my misspent life and lack of fundage and all that, and realized, well hell, I have two kids and two dogs and two cats, and my friends don't. I chose to raise kids by myself and spend my thirties with children and somehow I didn't quite make it up or even really on to the career ladder, but these kids are growing into great, funny, interesting people. And yes, my house is cluttered and crazy, but it's full of books and records and art, the clay dinosaurs the kids made in kindergarten, plants and memories and my great grandmothers' Irish lace tablecloth. I'll never have a big gorgeous spacious beautifully empty house like K, because it's just not who I am, and that's okay. K'll never have a small cluttered bouncing house like mine, and that's good too. I love her, love all of them, and I'm so glad they're doing well and anyway, they still seem to like me. So all good.

Also, K had this idea for a job I could possibly do and maybe I won't have to go be a legal secretary after all.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Halloween Decor

I bravely went down to the scary basement and rescued the big tub of Halloween decorations, including, much to my delight, the Giant Lighted and Animated Spider Actually Crawls on Web that I had basically forgotten I bought at the Sam's Club clearance sale for like $7 late last fall. Now let us hope it works. The only drawback to this fun annual ritual of making the house all spooooooooky (besides the question which we won't ask: what, exactly, is the point, Felicity, now that your kids are practically grown up and also hardly any kids ever make it up the hill to your house anyway?) is that the weather is unseasonable gorgeously warm here. I just put this vinyl window stick thing of a castle with a witch flying over it which I have treasured beyond all sense for about 11 years now on the same window where I always put it. This is the first year I've ever had to close the window to do it, because usually the windows are closed by now. But it's 80 every day and all the windows in the house are as open as they've been since May. The porch plants are still out on the porch and still flowering happily away; it feels like June or July.

I can't quite get into the pumpkin scarecrow ghost fall mood, and as much as I appreciate being able to put off that thorny question of how I'm going to pay for heat this winter, I'm sick of wearing tank tops and capris and cotton skirts. I want to wear a sweater, damn it. It's October 13 and I'm entitled to wear a nice fatness concealing sweater and my kick ass boots and thick black tights to make my legs look fantastic. But no. It's too damn hot. And I have to thread my scarecrows and spider webs around fuchsias and begonias in full bloom - this just isn't working somehow. I'm baking winter squash, but really all I want is some gazpacho and a salad.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Halloween at the Nursing Home

I had to run around madly this morning to take care of some business stuff for me mum, and so I was at Skilled Nursing around 11:30, where I found that overnight the Halloween Elves had been busy and decorated that place up with all kinds of lovely cut out cardboard dancing skeletons and pumpkins and ghosts hanging from the ceiling and even some unsettling child sized figures with apparently stuffed orange trash bag heads. The usual coterie of elderly ladies in wheelchairs were sitting there motionlessly and it occurred to me that decorating a nursing home with skeletons and ghosts is a little macabre, to say the least. I mean, why not just string a few purple and orange lights on some of the residents? Okay, I'm going to hell for that sentence, and I know it too. Yesterday when I was visiting Mom the pastor came in. He was all nice and sincere and he said something about the Road to Hell, which, as we all know, is paved with what else but Good Intentions? So it was all I could do not to ask him if he thought good intentions were slippery, since when my bucket hits them I would like a nice quick ride on down. But I didn't say this, any more than I replied to the person who said he would pray for me & my mom the other day that I would be happy to dedicate a goat sacrifice to him at the next full moon, thanks. My brain is evil, there's no help for it.

This morning as I was dashing out the door my landlord appeared. I hardly ever see him and he never, ever calls to tell me he's coming over, which he legally is supposed to do. Of course the house is disgustingly trashed, and honey, when I say disgustingly trashed I am not talking about a few disarranged magazines on the coffee table. No, I am talking about the dog bed in the living room that Jackson decided to disembowel a few days ago so the front of the house is kind of ankle deep in stuffing and Theo is shedding so the drifts of collie fur have gotten all mixed in with the stuffing (which is a weird and unearthly blue color) and so the ambiance, what with the distinctive aroma of damp hound, is quite, um, striking. Early Kennel, I think, is the style. The dishes aren't done and there are ancient cigarette butts in the fireplace which is against my lease - my lease which says I can have one dog and one cat and not two of each. Also, the living room rug is out in the front yard propped up on coolers and chairs since I'm attempting to air it and now dry it since it got rained on the other day and the grass hasn't been mowed in about 10 days and there's camping foam and extension cords, a full ashtray and a hammer lying around on the front porch. So now I'm worrying about being evicted although I don't think you can get evicted for being a slob, and the two inches of water in the basement is just not my fault, although the rotting cardboard boxes are, okay, I grant you that.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Mysteries of Science

Science, boys and girls, is a mysterious and wonderful thing. Science allows us to look at how things work, like, for example, dog saliva. Dog saliva is a peculiar substance. It has quite different effects when applied to certain surfaces, say, glass, or, more particularly, a 6 oz. jelly glass with a picture of Rocky and Bullwinkle on it. Imagine that this glass might somehow have found it's way off the counter because it was left there with a thin coating of milk inside it, and then imagine that it was taken to the living room and licked inside and out - coated liberally with dog saliva - and then imagine that this glass was used in a couple spirited games of chase the rolling thing around the living room and yet it was not picked up, as the human owner of this glass was too overcome with ennui to deal with it right now. When the glass is finally picked up, it will prove to be covered with an invisible yet quite tangible - oh very tangible, boys and girls, yes, it can be felt and how - layer of slime. That doesn't even want to soak away. In fact it will take about 4 dedicated soapy washings to remove the slime.

Now, let us imagine that a bread knife and a cheese grater might also have found their way off the counter. Imagine further that the dogs are able, somehow, to apply their saliva to these objects without cutting their tongues into ribbons, although the human might evilly wish that just for once the bastards would get theirs, but not really, because that would be wrong, not to mention expensive if they had to go to the vet to get their god damn tongues sewed up. Let us imagine further, a household so terrible that a cheese grater could be taken under the bed and left there for an unspecified period of time. The cheese grater is made of metal covered with some vaguely suspect substance, possibly enamel, possibly lead paint. This is not the preferred household cheese grater but cheese grater #2, the back up grater that came from the Goodwill on a whim because who knows when you might need another cheese grater and anyway we can use it for camping. The bread knife, which was a nice knife until the wooden handle got all chewed up, jesus christ, what is wrong with these goddamn dogs, is stainless steel. The cheese grater was slightly coated with slime but not to the extent of the glass, and the knife was quite clean, both handle and blade.

So the scientist must therefore conclude that dog saliva has differing effects on differing materials and stainless steel is probably the best material for dog toys. All this points us of course to the notion of intelligent design, because clearly this kind of thing could not have come about just by chance. No, there must be a Designer, and that designer obviously has a dog's head, or such careful attention would not have been paid to dog saliva, and probably carries a set of scales around with him to weigh the souls of the dead. Anubis, all hail. Your existence has just been proven.

Side note: Hound dog saliva when coming out of the side of the mouth of a hound dog in the back yard has considerable tensile strength; to wit, leaves and small insects can get caught up with it and carried about, dangling, for a long time. Long enough to slam the door closed and say go wipe your nasty mouth you disgusting beast anyway.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Angst and Family

The phone rang at 9 this morning; I figured it was Mom with the day's list, but it was M, deep in the throes of early adolescent angst. Poor kid. He's mad because we're not rich. Hell, I'm mad because we're not rich. I'm furious with myself for not growing up and getting this career thing organized and making a whole bunch of money and having power nannies or power lunches or power anything, really. I do have a couple of power tools, but it's just not the same. And they're not even the big manly macho kind, either. Then the phone rang again and it was Mom with the day's list, which required running hither and yon. So I got up and took a shower, and then A called because she had forgotten her server book when she went to work and please, Mom, can you drive it over, like now? So I got all cranky as hell. She called back and said it was okay, somebody loaned her one, but I'm damned if I'm going to miss a good funk, so I stayed mad and cranky and blue. Therefore I got in the car and drove down the highway. I wanted some dumb rock n' roll to listen to loud while I drove too fast and smoked cigarettes, as is the way of the 42 year old perpetually adolescent, but there was nothing on the radio and I had to make do with the Smiths. The Smiths are the prescription for a different kind of angst altogether, so I summoned that one up to add to my cheery list.

But then I got there and was pleasantly surprised to run into my cousin F, who has been visiting his parents in Jackson County and was back enroute to home in Baltimore. He's A's godfather and a sweet guy and I don't get together with my cousins often enough, which is sad because I like them all and they always make me feel like a little kid (five brothers, all older than me) which is not to be overlooked as a general good feeling emotion. So that was good. And then they played Cheap Trick on the radio, which was also good, and then I took a nap, plus 10 good, and now my friend J in New York is sending me loud power rock with the magic of the internets and this is ultra good, better, best. Perhaps I will hold off on the Lexapro a little longer.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bit Stressed But a New Couch

My mom's still in the nursing home and I'm way broke thanks to the draconian uncollected funds policy of Asheville Savings Bank but other than that things are okay, I guess. The money thing is not so good. Public Service Announcement: Do not ever, ever, ever deposit money to your checking account via the ATM over the weekend. Because they will not acknowledge that it is there for at least 24 hours and possibly longer. If it's the beginning of the month and you have automatic withdrawals you have kind of forgotten about, your financial status, never healthy, is about to fall shatteringly in ruins. They took $29 out for each transaction. There were 7 transactions. I am in the deep doo doo now. I went over there and begged and pleaded and was told that they would call me today, which they haven't done yet, to let me know if they will take any of those fees off. The lady said, "I see there was some problem back in November." Yes. Yes there was. Does the term working poor mean anything to you, bank lady? Does the cost of living in our fair city, where housing is the highest in the state and salaries are the lowest, mean anything to you? I am bitter. I am broke and bitter and stressed.

And I'm tired of getting dressed in acceptable-to-mom clothes every day and going over to Deerfield and running errands. She goes up and down: one day she'll sound good and then the next she won't remember our conversation from the day before and she'll be cranky and peevish. I know this isn't a big deal in the scale of aging parents and actually I'm very lucky and I need to stop bitching but somehow it's very hard. I don't know whether it's because she has always been so independent that this sudden change has made it difficult or whether I am just a wimp, or a little of both, but somehow going back and forth over there every day and worrying about her and etc. has sent me into kind of a tailspin. A lot of it is anticipation: I keep thinking, well, this is the beginning. Things are going to get better for her than they are now, but she's never going to go back to where she was before. It's just going to get harder, day in, day out, for the next few years. That scares me. It's why I'm here and all, why I moved here, and a lot of why I stay here, but on the other hand if I had any aptitude at all for health care I'd have a lucrative career by now. Unfortunately I am squeamish and panic easily at the sight of blood and would much, much rather not discuss or even acknowledge the presence of other bodily fluids. So all this does not bode well for the future.

On the cheery front, however, I got a new couch, thanks to my friend D who moved and gave me his couch, and it's very wonderful. It's like real furniture and it's comfortable and deep green plaid. It's all fancy like and the living room has been reinvigorated by the removal of the ancient dog chewed futon couch from a long defunct Timonium Maryland Caldor. It would be more wonderful yet if we could keep Jackson off it, but Jackson feels that he cannot sleep on the floor: he must get up on a bed or on the couch to sleep. When he is tired and the beds and couches are blocked to him, he howls. Continuously. I went to Toys R Us and bought a motion activated recordable alarm for $8. Yay for toy stores. They don't have staggeringly useful things like that for adults. I recorded myself snarling "Get off the couch, god damn it!" into it and put it on the couch. It works. It works so well that it makes Jackson and Theo howl continuously as soon as it goes off. My head hurts.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

From the files of A

The following was written by my daughter A, about me. It's all true, dag. And thank you. Love you honey.

Okay, so this is A to write a few bits about my mother. I feel that she can write about herself all she wants, but you(the reader)may never understand who she is. So here it is. My mother is... well damn how do you explain her? She doesn't give herself enough credit. She has raised two children who are turning out to be alright. But let's get to some stories that are rather funny. First there is the one of how she ran over my brother's foot, that's a classic(she's going to kill me by the way when she reads this). Well here we were at a gas station after visiting the grandparents, she had also taken this week to quit smoking. This was a bad idea, because hello the pair, yeah right as if anyone could deal. So M did something, who knows and who cares, and she was making us leave. Well M's door wasn't shut so I yelled at her to stop and she did. Then we drove along in silence for a while until M spoke up and said "you know Mom, it didn't hurt a bit when you ran over my foot." That was the end of no smoking as you can imagine.

She also managed to kill a pet of mine and thought possibly the second but not really. I had a bunny when I was four who bit her, so she put him in a crate outside. She somehow had forgotten that we lived on a farm. We had something along the lines of 13 dogs and 13 cats. Needless to say I found my bunny strewn across the front yard. Well fast foward to me about 16. My mother left out an egg nog, which my cat Andy managed to drink. Andy was about 12 at the time. He did not climb out from under her bed for three days after he fell off the counter and any other high piece of furniture that he could reach.

Okay that's enough for the horrible stories regarding my mother, even though they are quite funny to us at this point in time. She really is an incredible woman who does not give herself enough credit for being witty and beautiful. She has this incredible sense of music that I tried to ignore for years, but alas have given into. She also is one of a kind. The type of person who I belive might run in our family. Yet we are still always the only kinds of our people. She is a mix between the Addams family meets the Kennedys with a small twist of Osbourne. I am still the only four year old to have ever entered CBGB's and damn proud of it. So if nothing else besides this, just take it that she is unique and this family one of a kind. Until the next time that she forgets this whole message and lets me write yet another post...cheers, always with a PBR!!

Pictures to Light the Darkness a Little

It's not all bleak, you know. This is the sky coming back from Celo on Sunday afternoon. I took it while driving, along with about a billion nearly identical others - probably contraindicted for safe driving, but good.

And this is where I took the small chainsaw-y pruner thing and hacked the living hell out of the bush in the front yard, which now looks like barbarians bent on sacking Rome who didn't have a real clear idea of the difference between Romans and weed infested front yard bushes came through. I really fucked it up but damn, it was kind of fun. Cut first, look later, cut more, still looks like shit, pull the cap down and cut some more. I can see the appeal.

Nothing Much to Say

I haven't got much to say. It turns out that running to skilled nursing once or twice a day and in between running errands for your mother doesn't make for much to say. I'm tired. I think my cold might be coming back. I'm worried. I feel like this whole thing is some kind of terrible grisly rehearsal for the inevitable. I walk around my mothers house like a ghost, picking up stuff she wants. Her house makes me nervous. I'm kind of generally nervous. I'm lonely. I want someone to say, "My god! You are saintly! I'm so impressed with what you're doing for your mother." But alas. Nobody will say that, because it isn't saintly or even very important or interesting. It's just life. And life sucks a lot of the time.

I had some horrific thoughts last night on the nature of this god in whom I don't much believe. See, we go around thinking that God is benevolent, and we're all locked in this Manichean Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer heresy whereby we're all together in the light, fighting evil whether it comes in the form of a bloodthirsty zombie or Karl Rove (not a huge difference, okay.) Suppose that that idea is totally outdated. Suppose evil won a long time ago. Suppose God is actually malevolent and Satan rules in heaven, and all this evil shit that happens to us, day by day, is just the way it is. Not god giving us not quite more than we can handle (even not believing in the old white bearded fart on the cloud, I still draw comfort from my mother telling me that the good lord doesn't give us more than we can handle) but instead enjoying piling the shit right on, watching and rejoicing in the inevitable break. All darkness, all the way. Flips it a bit, doesn't it?

Think I should dig what's left of the Lexapro out of my underwear drawer yet? The dog ate one a few months ago with no notable effects - but there's some left. This whole thing is taking a hell of a lot out of me and I'm not here right now for various things I should be. Things as banal as bills and as important as my best friend, who's having a crisis, and I feel like shit, but I can't quite be there for her. I love you J, and it will be okay, and I'll be back, eventually. I'm really sorry. I'm not answering emails and I'm sorry about that too, kids. This isn't that big a deal, I know. Hopefully I'll get my shit back together soon, or as together as it ever is, which is to say, not much.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Daughterly Duties

So I'm running all over Asheville for my poor bedridden Mama, who has recovered sufficiently to make detailed lists and acerbic comments about how pleasantly surprised she has been to discover that I am in fact relatively organized and reliable. Oh joy. She's in the skilled nursing wing at Deerfield - she left the hospital yesterday. The skilled nursing section of Deerfield is a little freaky. I have never been to what is popularly referred to as an "old folks' home" before, and it's wigging me out a little. There are old people sitting in wheelchairs, staring into space; there are old people with walkers, brows furrowed in concentration, moving gently down the hallway; there are old people wandering randomly about. There are harried looking minimum wage workers and a couple of actual nurses or nurse simulacrums. There is a lot of weird equipment in the halls and beeping noises which never stop. The air smells a bit - I do not wish to analyze the fragrance. There is a lady dressed all in purple who wandered into my mom's room and stood there looking out the window and waxing effusive about the view, which showcases a storage shed, some scrubby edge woods and a few weeds. At least she was cheerful.

Of course, when I get old, I will never be able to afford anything like Deerfield. Yesterday I had my usual revelation: this scary place is what happens to the very fortunate old in our society. So, as usual, when I left Deerfield I lit up a cigarette and thought, Keep smoking, girl, keep smoking. Don't live too long and end up in the low rent version of here. I don't even want to think about what happens to feckless Americans like me who outlive their welcome, although I know what I want: would a perpetual nightclub blasting the Dead Milkmen be too much to ask, you think? Maybe with large abstract collage paintings covered with broken glass and the occasional poetry slam? Draft PBR, blacklights in the bathroom and a nice thick haze of smoke, just to make me feel at home. Probably this will not be provided, and my kids will attempt to dump me into whatever hell cursed trailer park old folks' home they can find. I will have to return to my original retirement plan of a shopping cart full of cats, a healthy heroin habit and the dumpster behind Krispy Kreme, where I will eat well, I know, since M managed to liberate about 300 doughnuts there on Saturday.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

M's Awesome if Lengthy 2003 Autobiography

This is the autobiography that M (okay, and me) wrote in fall of 2003 for a very difficult PITA school assignment. This is before he went to the lovely hippie school where he's learning useful things like growing shiitake mushrooms and retiling the art room. At any rate, we rediscovered it tonight and it is just so great, we're sharing. If you think it's long now, you should have read it before I edited it down a bit.

My Autobiography
August 28, 2003


I am a mutt. I am an American with Irish, German, English, Dutch, Scottish and French blood. I’m about ½ Irish and the rest is all mixed up. I personally am a Pict. They paint themselves blue and scream at their enemies and make them run away. The first time the Romans saw them they ran away in terror. I would like to believe that my ancestors were Picts. My ancestors were definitely Celts. They might have been Gauls like Asterix and Obelix. They almost certainly fought the Romans, but they lost. Caesar and the Romans tried to conquer the world and almost did. They didn’t conquer Ireland though. There were Vikings in Ireland about 800 years after the Romans. There might be Viking ancestors in my family.

Birth – 5 years old

I was born at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore city, Maryland on December 8, 1991. It was a Sunday and I was born at 9:30 at night.

When I was very little, until I was 5½ we lived in Highlandtown in East Baltimore. I don’t remember much about it but I do remember this kid Colin who was my best friend when I lived in Highlandtown. I also remember when I got really mad at my Mom because I was screaming at the top of my lungs because the ice cream truck was coming but she didn’t hear me and then I went upstairs and I wouldn’t talk to her because I was mad so she told me to come and watch this cool thing on TV about war and I said, I don’t like war, so then she said, well, there’s a cool thing on about tigers, so I went and watched the thing about tigers with her and then I wasn’t mad anymore.

We used to go to a lot of different places. We had a mini van and there were drawings all over the ceiling and everywhere. All the children made the drawings. There were plastic dinosaurs glued all over the dashboard.

We went to the Hopkins Spring Fair every year. I remember riding on the small train in the Hopkins fair. There was a hollowed out tree in the part where you could get food where Valentino and I went when it was raining to eat our hotdogs. Noone else knew about it.

We went to the beach in the summer time. One time me and my sister had a beach ball and we lost it in the sea at Ocean City.

We also used to go to Rock Hall Maryland where our friend had a house. I remember Rock Hall; there was a rope swing and a boat. It was a sail boat and I went sailing in the boat. Sometimes I went sailing with my dad. Sometimes I went sailing with my mom or Max or our friend Billy. One time I saw a string ray; it wasn’t scary because I was on the boat and it was in the water. Toby, our dog, was young then and he would swim and swim and swim. He swam from boat to boat and he climbed up on our boat. When I was very little, I got a concussion in Rock Hall when I fell on the heater thing in the floor. I had to go to the hospital but I don’t remember that part.

I went to Bolton Hill Nursery School in Baltimore. One time I went over to my friend’s house and he gave me Sunny Delite for the first time. I couldn’t make up my mind whether to go to his house or to stay in my mom’s car and eat my doughnuts. I remember we used to play tag in Bolton Hill Nursery School and I would sing the song from the Hobbit movie. I loved to build with blocks and I did that every day with this other kid. My other friend’s name was Tarver; she came to my birthday party and gave me a big stuffed lobster. I still have it.

Elementary School Years

When I started school we moved out to the country, to Hereford Maryland. We lived right by the woods and there were lots of deer everywhere. Our neighbor was awesome. He was the best neighbor ever. He bought me candy bars and he talked in a funny voice. His name was Mr. Smitty and when he was younger he drove the school bus. He was so cool. He liked to go the track and bet on the ponies. He told stories about snakes and he called them Mr. No Shoulders.

There was a very old shot up gangster car out in the woods behind our house next to a burned down house. I think I know what happened. I think that the gangsters were going to get some money from some other gangsters but the other gangsters were bad so they got into a whole gunfight and the gangster who were trying to get their money hid behind the car and got shot at. The money was in the case in the trunk of the car. So then the gangsters died and the other ones lit the house on fire and couldn’t get the money because the cops were coming. But we couldn’t get into the trunk of the car because it was a tree had grown up behind the car and blocked the trunk. The hinges still worked though. That was a good thing.

Before kindergarten even started I busted my lip playing on the monkey bars at after school. I remember exactly what happened. She had warned me not to get on the monkey bars, but I did anyway. And then, I think it was like the fifth bar, the whole thing like shifted and I was falling. My front two teeth went right through my lower lip. I was then rushed to the emergency room where I waited for a while with painkillers in my mouth. When my mother tried to comfort me and handed me a cup of water I tried to drink it but the water fell through the hole in my bottom lip like a waterfall. My mom laughed and then she started to cry. When I was waiting there a boy was rushed in the doors on a stretcher with 12 doctors standing around him. Then they put me to sleep and stitched me up. When I was done I came out and the doctor gave me some stickers. For the next week I could only eat snowcones and icecream – soft things.

I started kindergarten at 7th District Elementary School in Parkton Maryland. My kindergarten teacher was evil. She got mad at me because I didn’t want to sing and I didn’t want to go on stage for the kindergarten show. Alex was my best friend. He had glasses. Pokemon came out and I was really into Pokemon. My teacher also complained about me having ladybugs in my hair and ladybugs everywhere. Our house was full of ladybugs.

I was in second grade when we got Fred. I was in the basement getting a ball I had just thrown down when a cat just came up and jumped into my arms and I picked him up and brought him upstairs. He had been down in the basement for three days but my mom was trying to ignore him. My sister and her friends were feeding him though. He was all skinny and his tooth was broken but he still loved me. We took him to the vet and the vet said he had asthma and broken bones and he thought he was going to die. He’s okay now. In fact he’s big and fat. I named him; I just looked at him and guessed his name was Fred. He looks like a Fred.

School wasn’t much fun and we didn’t have much freedom. The best part of school was recess and lunch: the only time you really got to talk to your friends. One time on the last day of school in fifth grade I tried to start a food fight. I was about to throw a biscuit when Mr. Jessup grabbed my arm and said, “If you throw that biscuit, I’m gonna break your arm.” And I said, “Too late, it’s already been broken.”

When I was six I went to my first year in Vermont where my friends have a log cabin made out of logs. We went every summer until we moved to North Carolina. In Vermont there was my favorite festival/carnival kind of thing called Bread and Puppet. It was really fun because they gave out free garlic bread and there were giant people on stilts wearing masks and you couldn’t even tell they were people. The whole thing was outdoors. Me and my friends and my family always sat in the front and me and Valentino would go off and try to catch grasshoppers that were everywhere. There were a whole bunch of grasshoppers. The people dressed up and the giant puppets tell stories. One of my favorite stories was when this guy got shot in the parking lot and he died. There were two people dressed up as cows too who ran around in the field and pretended they were cows. At the end of every Bread and Puppet there is a pageant. You can be in it. I was in it one year. I was a chair. In the pageant the bad guys set fire to the good guy but then the good guy is reborn at the end. The bad guys run away.


My parents got divorced when I was 2½. I live with my mom but I spend parts of the summer with my dad. My dad lives in West Virginia in the middle of nowhere in a log cabin. My dad was born in Baltimore city like me. My dad makes stained glass. He likes the Civil War. He has a big gun called a muzzle loader. It shoots a big round ball made out of iron. He has two dogs named Doorstop and Shiloh. Both dogs are black and Doorstop has white spots.

I also have a brother named Max. He lives in New York. He is 18. He likes skateboarding. We have the same dad but not the same mom.

My mom makes me write paragraphs and won’t let me watch my show, which I think is not very nice and I’m getting aggravated because this is hard even though my Mom is doing almost all the typing. We live in West Asheville North Carolina. We have two dogs named Theo and Toby and a cat named Fred and a goldfish named Alfred. My mom takes me camping a lot. She likes to go hiking; I don’t like it because it’s boring.

When we got Theo we were at Earthfare when there was puppies outside, and we got one. We named him Theo and he was so cute. He looks like a full bred collie and partly a german shepherd. Theo is a year old now. My other dog Toby is 12 years old and Toby is very cute, just like Theo. Toby looks like a german shepherd. He is old and his bones hurt but he is still very cute.

I have a sister. She goes to college in New Paltz New York but she lives here in the summers. She is a girl who lives in her car and knows a lot of bums. That’s not true, says my mom. She has a lot of weird friends. We fight a lot because she’s mean and she hits me so I hit her back and then she starts to cry because nobody likes her and she’s a poor sobbing meanie who can’t afford to buy her poor brother an enchilada nirvana from Taco Bell. She works at the movie theatre which is good because I can watch movies for free and eat popcorn and soda for free.

My gramma lives here in Asheville too. Sometimes I stay at my Gramma’s house and look at my grandfather’s war stuff. He was in WWII.


My interests are video games, guns, swords, watching videos, playing outside, shooting my bb gun, making fires, spending money, camping, fishing and bike riding if I still had a bike. My favorite thing is fireworks. I love the way they shoot into the air and explode; the way they smell; the smoke, the loud noise and the angry neighbors who call the cops, so you run from them and hide.

Videos I love watching because there is stuff in the movies that you can’t do but they can. Like in the Matrix they do all kinds of weird moves that you can’t do, like going very slow. Watching videos is fun because you get to see what other peoples’ lives are like.

Videogames are fun because they make you feel like another person in another world. Video games also take a lot of skill. There’s lots of different kinds of video games. I have a PS 2 and a PC. I play games on both of them but actually since I’ve beaten all my PS 2 games I’ve kind of pawned them all and now I only play PC games. I like PC games better anyway because I can actually afford PC games more than I can afford PS 2 games. The graphics are the same and I like the controller better – I like the mouse and keyboard more than the joystick. Well actually there is a keyboard on the PS 2 controller but it’s not the same. On PC right now I’m playing Alice and Dungeon Keeper. I was playing Morrowind but I gave up because I can’t get through the door; they won’t let me, so I’m just done playing that game.

I don’t know why I like fire but I just do. Maybe it’s because it is capable of making such damage. I also like to look in the fire at night or on a camping trip. I like guns because I like the way they look the way they work, and capable of making such damage and the uses of them. Such as, if you were hungry and you had to go hunting and kill a deer so you could eat it for your survival.

I like playing outside with my friends. We usually play kickball and hide and go seek tag and dodgeball. Sometimes we have rock wars. Sometimes we go to the new park and play hide and go seek tag.

Fishing and camping are fun because there are lots of things to do in the woods. You get to make fires and go swimming and have splash wars with big rocks. You throw rocks right next to your friends until they splash you until eventually one falls on your toe and then you get mad. Then you have a rock war to settle the feud. You get to cook your own food over the fire on a stick. Fishing would be more fun if I ever caught anything but you never catch anything.


My favorite movies are Gladiator, Gangs of New York, The Patriot, Robocops I, II, & III, Lord of the Rings, the Matrix I & II, Triple X, Harry Potter. They are all action movies where a lot happens and things explode. In every single one of those movies something explodes or gets set on fire.

My favorite books are the Moomin books by Tove Janssen. They don’t talk down to you and they all have fun all the time. I also like the books by Bruce Coville especially The Alien Stole My Gym Shoes.

My favorite food is sushi. I also like hamburgers. I like those cheese things at Asiana because they’re really good. I like mashed potatoes because they’re nice and creamy and fluffy and they’re good with gravy. I like chocolate and chocolate ice cream and chocolate cookies and chocolate oranges. I like fried dough at the fair with chocolate and powdered sugar and applesauce on it. I also really like Cornish game hens. I like food. I can remember everything I ate on any trip. On our last camping trip, on the first night we had steak. Mmmmm, steak. With A-1 sauce.

My favorite animal is a panda. My favorite fake animal is a dragon. I have dragon posters all over my walls. I like to wear dragon shirts and I have some dragon statues from Chinatown and two knives with dragon heads on them.

My favorite colors are red, black, gold and blue.

My favorite number is 89764467008765446534433211235688886654440.

My favorite video game is grand theft auto vice city but I’m not allowed to play it.

My favorite restaurant is Asiana Grand Buffet. The place is the bomb. I like it because there’s lots of food there and you have lots of choices of what to eat.


I want to graduate from 6th grade and pass high school and then go to college. I want to go to college because it’ll open a better career choice for me and because my mom and sister say it’s fun.

I used to want to live in the middle of nowhere in the middle of China and have lots of pandas and tigers in separate cages. I don’t want to do that anymore because I’ve thought of a better hobby. My better hobby is I want to invent a deep sea machine that will go so deep and suck up all the water and the fishes and everything big (it’s going to be a huge machine) and spits it back out and any remains, like say Atlantis, will be in the open. Then I want to be the one who discovers that dragons are real. We’ll know that they’re real because their bones will be on the bottom of the ocean. Then after I have proven that dragons are real and got the remains of Atlantis back up I’ll have tons and tons of money and then I’ll give some to my dear old mom who’s helping making this story. Then I’ll make my own theme park, my first underwater theme park with all water rides underwater and I’ll live underwater with all my sea creatures and dragons.

Then, when I’m old, I’ll move up to the mountains and let my kids work at the underwater park and I’ll train pandas and dragons to be my friends and train the dragons to be vegetarians so they’ll eat grass and bamboo like the pandas. I’ll have genetically altered bamboo so they’ll never run out of bamboo and grass.

When I’m really old I’ll develop an anti aging potion to make me young again. I’ll drill to the center of the earth and find papier maché parrots and hippies being trapped by pig monsters like the movie Journey to the Earth’s Core. No not really.

I have some other goals too. I would like not to get expelled. I want Uncle Bill to come home and bring me a present from Angola.

This is what I want my job to be when I am grown up. When I grow up I want to be a Navy Seal. I want to be a Navy Seal because I like to swim in the water and sneak around in the dark and I also like guns. When I become a Navy Seal I want to help out my country in difficult situations.

The End

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Notebook Page from the Hospital

The view from the window of the Emergency Snack Room at Mission Hospital this morning. Nice mountains. Cool soda machine. An abandoned cup of "Caffe" from, one supposes, the caffe machine. Waiting sucks.

News From the Front

It has been an uncommonly rough couple of days. I kept a notebook, complete with drawings, or, well, one drawing, which I will hopefully get around to blogging more completely, but since M is home and hovering anxiously behind my chair, I'm just going to set the quick facts down here for the interested.

Thursday evening my mother had surgery on her nose. It took four hours, which I spent hanging around Mission Hospital. She came out of it okay, if whacked out of her skull on drugs, and so we (A & I) took her home and gave her some more drugs. At 1:30 Friday morning she decided to get out of bed to go to the bathroom and she fell. Hard.

A lot happened between 1:30 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. when the ambulance came, and I'll write about it all maybe sometime. One thing that didn't happen was Felicity going to sleep. At 7:30 a.m. Friday we were back at the same damn hospital and by 1:00 p.m. we had figured out, thanks to numerous tests, that she had fractured her pelvis in 3 places. By 5:00 p.m. she had a hospital room; M had kindly been brought home from Celo by school staff, and I had slept for an hour.

We don't know how long she'll stay in the hospital; probably not long. A fractured pelvis doesn't seem to be a huge issue, although horribly painful, although then this evening she said that a nurse had said that the CAT scan showed that her hip was broken too, but I don't know if that's true or not. She's kind of fading in and out of consensus reality a bit. So, when she leaves Mission, she'll go either to the skilled nursing wing of the retirement community where she lives or to Thoms Rehab. Somehow she'll also need to get the stitches out from the surgery yesterday and then on October 17 she needs to have the second installment of this surgery. Meanwhile I need to find someone to show me the damn CAT scan, find another doctor other than the one MAHEC assigned to her, who neither of us liked, and anyway that relationship got off to a rocky start when my mother, 110 pounds and stoned to the gills on morphine, picked a fight with him immediately and I backed her up.

I am kind of wiped out. A has been an incredible, wonderful, help & pillar of strength, but I tell you that dealing with a parent who has always been the picture of decorum and modesty and is kind of an Emily Post meets Martha Stewart clone who is suddenly on the physical level of an infant is hard, very goddamn hard. It has been maybe one of the roughest 36 hours or so of my life on several levels. And I feel selfish for even thinking of myself right now, because my mother, who on Tuesday morning had not a thing in the world wrong with her, is now looking at not being able to walk or even sit up alone for some weeks if not longer, and meanwhile, her head is held together by Frankensteinian stitches and her nose is not her own.

On the bright side all the adrenalin and stress seems to have chased my cold and bronchitis away. Hopefully forever.