Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sad Things

Yesterday I went over to the Cathedral of All Souls who are hosting, this weekend, the North Carolina incarnation of Eyes Wide Open, the exhibition put together by the AFSC on the terrible costs of the Iraq war. I volunteered for two hours: I sat there and talked to a few people, sold a couple of T-shirts and shivered a bit, since the weather has gone from unseasonably hot to unseasonably cold. The exhibition is heartwrenchingly sad and people's reactions to it were interesting, from the man who told us that the next war would be about oil (like, what exactly is this one about?) and that oil was worth fighting for, since without it the American way of life would end. I have about 10 million problems with this attitude, starting with 1) it's not our oil to fight over and going on to 2) war is never worth it and if we don't come up with a better way to resolve our differences than war than we are all doomed, which leads me to 3) the problem with the end of the American way of life would be what, exactly? We create something infinitely more sustainable, more community oriented, more peaceful, less gluttonous, less competitive, less driven?

But that conversation, which I've after all had before, and will have again, wasn't what really hit me. During the two hours I sat there two bus tours full of mostly older tourists pulled up to go through the cathedral. I find bus tours totally baffling as a phenomenon; I can't imagine any circumstances in the world that would end up with me willingly getting onto a bus full of polyester wearing camera toting strangers to sit for hours and then get out with these same strangers to look dutifully at a "sight" for 15 minutes and then get back on the bus. But I am in the minority, clearly: I am from Mars and these people are from Earth and Asheville is clogged with them all spring and summer and fall, so whatever. They got out and went into and around the Cathedral, keeping, for the most part, a wide berth around the attached chapter house with its Eyes Wide Open banner and people in War is Costly t-shirts. Two ladies did come over; they stopped below the two steps up onto the porch and asked us what was going on. S, one of the local AFSC people, told them what it was and they recoiled. "Oh," said one of them, "It sounds sad." "Well," said S, "War is sad." "Oh, I don't want to see anything sad." said the lady, and they beat a hasty retreat.

No, she didn't want to see anything sad, and you know, that's perfectly natural. I don't want to see anything sad either; nobody does. Sad things are awful; they're sad, they hurt, they lead you down into sad places in your own soul. But I sat there and thought about it and it occurs to me that the next rational step, after recognizing that nobody wants to see sad things, is to do what one can to make sure that there aren't any sad things for people to see. In other words, if we don't want to see sad, then we must work to ensure that there isn't any sad to see. War is sad; you don't want to see it. So working to get rid of war is what we must do, for ourselves and for the ladies who don't want to see war.

Granted my own work along these lines is pretty lame; consisting as it does mostly of drinking too much every Thursday and then sitting, mildly hungover, at a table on a cold day in front of an exhibition of heart breakingly sad things. It's small, but it's something, maybe, even if it's only something in my own soul and my own small life. It's acknowledgement, perhaps, recognizing the existence of this sadness, standing witness to it and trying, in the very act of not looking away, to make the source of sorrow end.

Friday, April 28, 2006


I am having a party tonight, which I kind of refused to grasp until this morning, but now I am in a whirlwind of activity and my house is immaculately clean. I think I'll forbid people from entering. I have to go out now and mow the lawn & set up the yard for party proceedings, woo woo. I hope it's a fun party and not a complete drag; it's a blogger get together. If you are reading this, can tolerate the company of geeks & are within driving range, stop on by. 6:30.

Meanwhile, I will leave you with the only wisdom I have so far garnered from my advanced age: when you get old enough, drinking a Coke feels equally, if not more, as sinful and guilt inducing as a couple of shots of whiskey. Such are the joys of age and avoirdupois.

Oh, and yeah, I'm still freaking out, but I'm subsuming all my depressed anxiety by being too busy preparing for this party to get all anxious and depressed. Remember the fight or flight reflex? I'm doing both right now and so my primitive stem brain is pleased with me. Also, my stomach finally stopped hurting, and that does tend to improve one's mood.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Things Are Kind of Sucking Again

I'm starting to think that the Asheville vortex has dedicated it's otherworldly intelligence to kicking me the hell out of this town. Since Monday I have:
1. Lost primarly money making job #1.
2. Realized that I am hovering on the verge of losing job #2.
3. Found out from my landlord that he's raising my rent by $50, effective July 1 AND he wants to clean out the basement and the shed, which makes me suspect he's actually planning to sell the place, since he's never considered doing this before. The place needs some major work now; he told me he's in a cash bind; I bet he puts it on the market and then, then oh my readers, I am so fucking screwed it is not funny, not funny at all. You try finding a rental with a dog, a cat, an adolescent boy, no job and an utterly abysmal credit rating.

I've been having weird unearthly intuitive intimations for a couple of months that I may not be living here by next fall and they would appear to have been based in reality. I'm terrified and freaking out although I know it's too early to freak out, but if he does sell this place I am in so much trouble. And, I have to decide, even if he doesn't sell, if I can afford an extra $50 a month (no, of course not, but can I find anything else for less?) and not only that, can I afford another winter like last winter, where I nearly froze to death and it still cost me around $500 to keep the house just warm enough to stop the pipes from freezing? Or should I try to find somewhere smaller, cheaper, better insulated? Now? After I've been putting in hours and hours on the garden and it's just starting to look good? Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck.

Also, I have to find another job, pronto, something I'm obviously not very good at. Meanwhile, my mother has diverticulitis, which is better than what we thought and she has forgiven me for going over her head and forcing her to go to the doctor. I went out drinking with my brother and he was really mean to me, which, combined with job loss, sent me into a depression tailspin that I'm still in. And I started therapy. I like my therapist and he wants me to take fish oil, which I'm doing, because I have anxiety (which I knew) and am depressed (which I suspected) and have to completely redefine myself and my space (which is the kind of thing Asheville therapists say and I hope to god he has more of a clue on what exactly that means and how to do it than I do.)

Monday, April 24, 2006

On My Dining Room Table Right Now

1 finished gourd bowl
1 almost finished gourd bowl, awaiting only a final coat of shellac
1 plastic box full of cheap acrylic paint and glitter
1 metal box containing sandpaper, notecards, wood markers, a misplaced sharpie and 2 paper packets of seeds, sunflower and pumpkin
1 round portable CD player
1 empty plastic container for a wrist brace
1 broken toilet flush lever
1 working toilet flush lever that nonetheless does not fit in the toilet
1 dishtowel
1 lipstick, missing top
1 small ceramic vase
1 empty shoebox
1 large 3 ring binder full of collected recipes
1 page from a photo album, depicting the owner of the table between 1977 and 1981
1 pamphlet from a local PR agency
1 plastic envelope of savings account documents
1 sheet of paper with World of Warcraft hints on it, scrawled in blue ink
1 pencil
1 empty CD case
1 cel phone charger
1 section of newspaper from 2 Sundays ago
2 jigsaw puzzles, in boxes
2 halves of 1 broken dowel
2 boxes of oil pastels
2 half empty bags of plastic army men accoutrements: tanks, helicopters, fences
2 sketchbooks
2 notebooks: 1 spiral, 1 marble
3 cassette tapes
3 books: T. Coraghessan Boyle, World's End; Alices Restaurant Cookbook; North American Birds
4 candles on 1 red glass plate
5 copies of Cooking Light
5 ceramic tiles
6 sheets of tax instructions
7 cleaned gourds, more or less in progress

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Upside Down

I planted a cherry tomato upside down today. It looks delightfully bizarre and I am pleased with it and considering planting more things upside down. I would never have thought of this on my own; no, my friend T told me last summer about this woman who had upside down cherry tomato bushes hanging all over her porch. The theory is that you get one of those hanging baskets with the coconut matting, slit a hole in the matting, plant the tomato upside down and then as it grows it comes up around the outside of the hanging basket and you have this funky psychedelic surreal mindblowing upside down cherry tomato bush. T's friend had them on her porch, which I would love, but unfortunately that would demand a porch with sun, unlike mine, which has not felt a ray of direct sunlight since it was built 80 years ago and so instead it's hanging from a metal stake with a glass sun in the middle of it out by the vegetable garden. The stake is a cool thing but I gave up on hanging baskets out there a while back because they're too much work: you have to water them every day, which is beyond me. But I'm going to manage it this year. I really am. Mmm hmm. Monday morning update: Check out the picture I just took! It would appear to already be working; overnight, the tomato has started to wrap itself up and around. Last night it was just hanging there looking pitiful.

This year, yet again, despite my terrible track record, I am determined to take extraordinary care of the garden and be rewarded with something that will look like it came out of the beatnik version of Southern Living, Southern Freak Living. I need more groovy and bizarre yard art to really make it into Southern Freak Living - the car bumper and bed headboard that make up part of the vegetable garden fence, the mysterious gun sight straightening metal thingie and the bathtub are not really enough. They kind of lean towards Southern Trash Living, if the truth be told. I have to create something much more stylish, but unfortunately my artistic skills lean heavily in the trash direction; c'est la vie. It's okay, because I have also decided I'm going to take a picture of the garden every single day from the same place and then in the fall I'm going to make a time lapse flash slide presentation which will cause people to weep with joy for the sheer beauty of it all. At least that's the plan.

You see, I am planning a big party for a bunch of my net friends in the beginning of August and I'm already worrying about the house & yard, which are never at their best in August, historically known as the month that Fliss says Fuck It and walks away from gardening. Last year August was actually the month after the month that Fliss said Fuck It and walked away from the garden, so by last August the garden was, essentially, just one huge gourd vine. I can't let that happen this year; people are going to see it. Also, it's easier to worry and do something about the house and garden than it is to worry and do something about my giant fatness, although my giant fatness is very discouraging and I need to stop eating, start exercising and otherwise make myself miserable until I fit into my jeans again, which will take months. I can't stand it, but I'm going to have to, because I can't afford new clothes and also my mother is starting to make catty remarks, which is easy for anyone who has never gained a pound in her life. Genetics are so brutally unfair sometimes.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Be Careful What You Wish For

It is raining. It rained all day yesterday too, and all last night. We desperately need this rain, but, you know, on the weekend? Not that weekends, per se, mean anything to me, who sits here in her pajamas in front of a screen all day every day, until the days blur together and time has no meaning. Still, I was going to plant roses for my mother today and now that plan is foiled. Curses.

It's good to know that if I am suddenly rendered deaf, dumb and blind I will still know that it's raining. I figured this out last night when I went to bed, because when I lay down to sleep a pungent and familiar aroma came drifting towards my nose from the comforter: wet Theo. I'm sure that Theo, being so well trained and all, would never get on my bed. He swears up and down that he never, ever gets up there. Although I have noticed that when I'm gone for a while, as I was yesterday, that if, when I get home, Theo is not in his accustomed position (flat on his back with legs up in the air on the couch) then there are usually somewhat suspicious thump crash and scurry noises coming from my bedroom. Theo then comes to the door gleaming with innocence, despite the fact that my bed is disarranged and covered with long golden collie hair.

Dog trainers all say that you can never punish a dog unless you actually catch them in the middle of the act, because they have no memory and are purely zen creatures of the moment: embodiments of buddha nature, except of course for that pesky worldly desire for food, the grosser the better. I say to this, bullshit. If dogs have no memory, than why am I expected to hand over a milk bone every single night after the last foray outside? If he's living purely in the moment, how does he know what shoes I wear for walking him and why does he get wildly excited whenever I put them on? Ha. I am more logical than dog trainers, but on the other hand I am also far too soft hearted and pretty much never punish my dogs for anything, relying instead on positive reinforcement and the kind of long tedious monologues on the nature of karma, the unfairness of life in the world and the necessity of everyone in this house cooperating lovingly with one another that have worked such wonders with my children, who will do more or less anything up to and including washing the dishes to avoid one.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Back to School With Wal Mart

Tomorrow I'm going to spend the entire day at AB Tech learning Flash. Yes! That's right! Soon, I too will join the rest of the internet in creating annoying pop up flash animations! Perhaps I will do line drawings with extremely funny soundtracks! (p.s. the official weebl & bob page is here but it's down at the moment and so I can't link to it in good conscience. But it will be back up and you will laugh.) Or perhaps I will gape in horror at all the terribly technological information and absorb nothing. But probably not. Hopefully I will learn, and then I will create, like, the worlds' greatest website right before both my hands finally fall off with the carpal tunnel.

The carpal tunnel has been bad lately, which is one of the reasons why this blog isn't being updated quite as obsessively as it used to be. I went to Wal Mart (forgive me, mea culpa) and bought some wrist braces, which I wear when I'm doing this data entry job. It's funny, god knows I spent all my unemployment time mindlessly surfing the web with my mouth and brain gaping open like a clam, but the minute I actually start doing real work that makes money on this very same computer, my wrists, both of them, lock up and hurt like hell. I look stylin', let me tell you, in my martini slippers, sweat pants, giant purple T-shirt and one of my dad's antique flannels that is big enough to wrap around me twice and falls to my knees AND my black wrist guards, which are about four inches wide, attach with velcro and apparently are keeping my hands attached. I am the queen of slacker chic; it's really terrible. Today I was eating cottage cheese for lunch as I typed in country allocations for major financial databases (Singapore, in all it's totalitarian glory, is an investment favorite) and I spilled it on my giant T-shirt; I didn't really notice until the dog got much friendlier than is his usual wont.

But I will be more fashionable soon, because they put amenable-to-buying-crap drugs in the air handlers at Wal Mart. I only went in there to buy shellac (which they didn't have), a wrist brace (I got three) and army men (long story), but I walked out with a jigsaw puzzle that is actually a 3 D picture of "space" (the kind of cool futuristic space where there are lots of colorful planets crowded around, also rocketships and attacking asteroids and, dude, comets) and, the piece de resistance, a pale green shiny faux satin lingerie looking top. It's not at all the kind of thing I usually wear but for some reason I fell for it. Which would all be fine and good, it cost $10, which is right in my budget, but as I was leaving I walked by the in-mart McDonalds. I was thinking about getting an Egg McMuffin, for I am fond of the occasional McMuffin, but standing in front of the McDonalds counter were two hugely obese teenage girls and I decided that that was a message from God and I would go home and have some diet cornflakes instead. One of the girls turned around then and I realized, with a jolt of horror, that she was wearing my shirt, and, lord, it did not become her well. The same shirt I had just purchased at that very Wal Mart, there on the rather, uh, overly large body of a girl probably 20 years my junior, and it was not good, no, no, not good at all. This is just not what you want to see when you have just bought something strange that you think might be sexy, albeit in a terrible Wal Mart kind of way.

Not knowing what else to do and reluctant to step back into the bowels of Wal Mart to try to return the thing, I brought it home anyway. A tried it on, and I tried it on, and we decided that shiny faux satin is really not the fashion statement that we (or anyone who is still sporting that attractive accessory, a brain) ever want to make, because honestly it looks like a) you forgot your shirt and b) you have terrible taste in lingerie, which is not a winning combination. And also, that pale satiny green, when combined with winter Irish skin, which is, essentially, also pale green in a kind of fascinating day glow way, creates a really unhealthy color mix: kind of the thing you might see in illustrated medical journals. So the shirt is now hanging in my closet; I'm just masochistic enough where I feel I should get my $10 worth and wear it to one of the several parties I have coming up, because, you know, it's awful and why the hell not? It's sexy in that Wal Mart, deathly pallor, post apocalyptic fungus glowing algae kind of way, and what man could resist that?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Rich Get Richer

Over the last ten days my life has gotten increasingly focused around the placing of small pieces of numerical data in various odd places around these here internets. People are paying me money for this peculiar activity; I am now an Independent Contractor doing Data Entry. It's kind of fun in a really strange way and I get to sit here all day, just like I did when I was unemployed, wearing pajamas or their equivalent, with Theo under my feet getting in the way.

Yesterday I opened a savings account, because I can't be trusted not to spend all of last years tax refund money that's in my checking account and I need to save money for a) Christmas, b) heating oil and c) taxes. I have been warned by many people to put away about 1/3 of my income for taxes, which is depressing, since between my two "jobs" I am now making before taxes about what I made at the museum - after taxes. People say encouragingly, "Hey, that's great money for Asheville!" and they're right. It is good money for Asheville - nowhere near enough to live on in Asheville, but why quibble? I'm quibbling, a bit, because I'm funny like that and I'd like to be able to work full time and make enough money to live on with a little left over, even, for Christmas and heating oil. But you know, that just seems, more and more, to be asking too much and yet, it's one of those conversations that never makes it into the national media, where everyone is rich. There are lots and lots of rich people. I see them all the time and I'm astonished; I don't understand how they got rich, how they stay that way, what they do, here in Asheville, where anything over $8 an hour is considered really good money and the housing is the most expensive in the state.

I am working hard; putting this data here and there isn't easy and because I'm not in an office I'm actually working much harder & more consistently than I used to. There's nobody coming in and out to chat, no phone ringing, no decisions to make, no politics and noone to have lunch with, so I just work, solidly. As a general rule in America, the less money you make the harder you work. People who make lots and lots of money are not usually paid by the hour, so they aren't tempted to work lots and lots of extra hours; they don't do manual labor, so they're not out in the sun and the cold and the rain digging up other people's gardens and risking their lives making houses; and, something I thought about yesterday, they don't have people hovering over them making sure that they are actually working, god damn it, I'm not paying you to go to the bathroom. The further down the income scale you go, the more ridiculous the restrictions on you get, like the call center job I turned down a few months ago, where I was told that my personal belongings had to be left in a locker, I was allowed 2 bathroom breaks per 8 hour shift and 1 lunch break, I had to be on the phone at all times and so on and so on, ad nauseum. Nobody told me shit like that when I was a middle manager - it was assumed that I was an adult capable of managing my own time and my own deadlines, and I did.

So I went to the bank and I opened a savings account and I thought about buying a CD but I'm afraid that I might need that money before a CD would be up. The savings account rate of interest is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2% and the CD was 4.14%, which was tempting, until I realized that that meant I would be making approximately $18 for not touching my money for 6 months, and even I can probably sell a birdhouse or two to make $18. Then I came home and started entering data and suddenly the data kind of clicked and I realized that what I was looking at was, essentially, interest. Rates of return. Now, if you have half a million or more to invest, let me tell you, you can do considerably better than 4.14% and I bet you can get your money out anytime you want, but if you're not so rich, than your investment opportunities are, essentially, nil. I wouldn't even begin to know how to invest money, and I have a sneaking suspicion that my carefully garnered and saved $500 isn't enough to take to an investment firm. My mother told me the other day about a local investment firm who won't take you as a client unless you have at least $5 million. Once you have your $5 million, even 4.14% looks a lot more appetizing, and if you do it right, your rates are going to be closer to 11%. If I could get 11% interest I'd happily bid farewell to my money for 6 months. So the rich get richer, and the poor hope they have enough money for heat next winter. And this is okay, this is the natural order of things and here in the United States I always feel like it's a dirty little secret, that we just won't mention the fact that, you know, as James McMurtry has so memorably said and I keep telling you about, We Can't Make It Here Anymore.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Out of Shellac, Damn It

Because the TV is still not fixed (A came home briefly, pressed the channel up button on the remote an additional 400 times and pronounced it broken, then left) and because my carpal tunnel is kind of dire at the moment (I need to stay the hell away from the computer when I am not actually working, particularly away from games that require repeated use of the mouse) I worked on some gourds tonight, and I am pleased. I am also, clearly, clinically insane, because I just spent an hour and a half or so drawing a happy family of cartoon bluebirds, including a lovely flustered mother, two children and a jovial Papa bird (he's on the left,) on a gourd. That is going to be, wait for it, a birdhouse. That hangs outside in a tree. Because I judged the spacing wrong, there's even a white framed window with a pretty much invisible pot of geraniums on it. These pictures are terrible, by the way, and the colors are very off - there is barely any light in the dining room.

I also painted a gourd bowl; one side of it is a Japanese flowering cherry (not a very convincing or good Japanese flowering cherry, but there you have it) and the rest of it is a vaguely Native American looking abstract/landscape design. Funny, the combination doesn't really work so well. I didn't plan for the landscape to look Native American but you know, it's hard to paint anything on a gourd that doesn't end up looking vaguely Native American.

That is why I need the shellac: so I can coat these lovelys with a nice layer of glossy finish, which will have the wonderful dual effect of making them look all shiny and sort of finished, and rendering them if not impervious than certainly much less pervious to the environment. Which is helpful if you're planning to hang them in a tree. Actually, the birdhouse one, unpainted, looked very much like a penis. I thought about painting it as a penis, but then I thought that while it would be hilarious and a great conversation starter (with who exactly did you think? I ask myself? The Marquis de Sade?) to have a penis birdhouse hanging in the tree, the placement of the hole for the birds to go in and out right there on the tender underside of the balls and the necessity of drilling a hole near the top of the penis to hang it might unnerve people and even, god forbid, render my chances of an actual male coming over even slimmer. So, because I am so weird, I painted a happy family of anthropomorphic bluebirds on it instead.

I turned the house upside down looking for the damn shellac but it is gone. I used it last around midnight the night before I left for Charleston, when I was making gourd birdhouses to give to my gracious South Carolina hosts. I know, I know, most people bring a bottle of wine, but most people don't have twenty odd gourds hanging around their dining room either. I, of course, do. They've only been there most of a year; maybe now I will actually start to turn them into "art."

Sunday, April 16, 2006


I actually got up and went to Meeting this morning. It's only been about 9 years since I was a fairly regular attender at Homewood Friends Meeting in Baltimore - and it was nice to be back at Meeting. And I was filled with the spirit and was going to write this great post about theology and Buddhism and the seasons and all kinda good crap like that which would probably have bored you to tears, not to mention cutting into my party girl image rather severely, but fuck that, because when I came home my front porch was under siege by squirrels, and for the last two hours or so I think I've been in a National Geographic special.

It all started because I had this idea that I would sit on the newly cleaned front porch and drink coffee, smoke a cigarette and read the paper. As I think I have mentioned before, a family of squirrels took up residence in one of my porch columns (columns is a rather grandiloquent term; it sounds like I live in Tara or something. Pillars? Square brick porch supports? Trust me, I don't live in Tara, but let's just keep on calling them columns anyway.) at some point this winter. Well, so far we had managed to successfully more or less ignore each other, but this morning they were having none of me being out there. There were three of them climbing up and down the column and they made menacing noises at me when I went out. I am, it is widely known, uncomfortable in the presence of rodents. Squirrels are rodents, but it's my porch. I said as much. They kind of snarled at me and made threatening twitching moments as if to say, "At any moment I could spring and rip off your face, human." I tried more calming reasonable conversation while backing towards the door. I even offered to build them a new house, but they met my kind offer with scorn. So I retreated to the living room and started watching them.

It was definitely a mother squirrel and two semi adolescent kid squirrels. You can see the two kids in this picture - you can click on it, by the way, and make it larger and really see their blurry squirrely faces. It took me a while to realize what I had was a family group, but there was one large squirrel and two 3/4 sized ones, who were, even though I don't like squirrels: cute, okay, yes, they were definitely cute. The largest squirrel kept on biting the smaller ones around the haunch, and they didn't seem to object much at all; in fact, they kind of went limp and allowed themselves to be herded back up the column. That rang a bell. As a mother of two myself, I'm completely familiar with that particular form of limpness - it's the "gravity has suddenly become much much stronger around my body and you will have to carry me Mom if you expect me to move at all" attitude. All this was fascinating, but it wasn't solving my immediate problem, which was access to my front porch. I wondered why they hadn't bothered me yesterday when I was cleaning said porch and thought, aha, music. Yesterday I had music blaring out of the open window, and they must not share my taste. It worked for General Noriega and the bats in my house in Maryland, perhaps rock n' roll will yet again save me.

So I turned on XTC, who I adore but squirrels apparently do not, and Mom Squirrel, a mother of the old school, decided that her children should absolutely not be exposed to this kind of evil music. I realized what she was doing, summoned up my bravery and ran through the front door with my camera. The pictures are horribly blurry because I was afraid to get too close - Mom Squirrel made it quite clear what might happen if I did that - but here's the whole set if you're interested.

She carried first the one child and then the other across the street. She carried them by one haunch, which looked ridiculous, but I guess squirrels, having those tails and all, counterbalance badly if you (and by you I mean a busily parenting squirrel) try to carry them by the more traditional mammal method: the nape of the neck that works so admirably on kittens and small boys. She took the one squirrel child over to one of the big oaks across the street. I don't know why she bothered crossing the street, since there's a perfectly wonderful big oak right there in my front yard, but she was clear on her destination. She shooed the first youngun part way up the tree and came back for the second, who had been sitting on the top of the column the whole time watching nervously. He didn't want to leave. She got him down twice and twice he broke free and hauled ass back up to the hole at the top of the column. Mom Squirrel was ticked off by this and on the third try she had him in a seriously secure hold, as you can kind of see in this picture, which is blurry because they came down rather quickly and kind of fell a little and, since I am a coward, I thought they were coming for me and I had to make a kind of squirrel like leap myself in through the safety of the front door. She carried him all the way across the street and to the tree; she'd let the first kid walk himself on the last bit but she carried the second one right up to the tree and put him on it. Then mother and children scampered up to the top.

I, on the other hand, ran to the basement, got some steel wool and another brick, and tried to block up the hole. I feel kind of guilty about this, but not, you know, too guilty. It is, after all, my house, and squirrels barricading my front porch poses kind of a severe threat to my peace of mind, since that's the only sensible way in and out of the house. My mother says to throw mothballs down there, or pour ammonia, and I guess I will do that as well. I yelled down the hole and made clonking noises, because I was worried that there might be younger siblings still at home, but I don't think there are. I think that family of three was it and I hope they find a nice new house.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Personal DNA and More

Dig, I'm a Considerate Artist and you can find out more about ME here. Also, you can take your own test. It takes about 20 minutes but the graphics are all very nifty, with fun little sliders and graphs, so what the hell. You might, just conceivably, be as bored as I am tonight, although I doubt it.

I was all settled in to watch The Lost World and knit when the remote died. The original remote, you may recall, was apparently swallowed whole last summer by the Hell Hound, and, since the DVD player does not work at all without a remote, we replaced it with El Cheapo "Universal" Remote which randomly breaks for no apparent reason. When this happens, the kids fix it. Until tonight, when the kids aren't here. I called A and got instructions for how to make it work. "Push the select code button," she said, "and then push channel up until the channel changes. Then push menu. It takes a long time; you have to push channel up like 250 times." Yeah. Well. I pushed channel up 400 frickin times. I counted. Actually, it was probably more like 600 times, since about a little less than halfway through this process I replaced the batteries and started over. The second time I counted. Nothing happened. Nothing happened except that I looked at the white noise on the TV set and looked at the little light that lit up red when I pushed the channel up button and then looked hurriedly back at the TV in case I had missed the blessed event of the channel changing, and every fifty or so pushes I switched hands, since my carpal tunnel is in high horrible gear lately. Nothing, other than that, ever happened; the channel never changed and so I gave up on my plans to watch TV & knit, which was exactly what I wanted to do tonight and instead, here I am with my carpal tunnel, stumping Pandora by asking them to play music like XTC, which is, I admit, difficult, and playing Bookworm & taking dumb internet personality quizzes. Best laid plans of mice & men and all that shit. Grrrrrrrr.

Oh, and here's a picture of a tulip, because I can. Although it's a good thing that the tulips are beginning to fade and soon I will be forced to stop taking pictures of them, because it's getting a little creepy and I think I'm turning into one of those flower fixated old ladies who goes around cooing at plants, except it's even worse, since I take pictures of them. All hope will be lost if I start doing, you know, paintings of the photos.

More On Talking To Animals

This is going to be one of those confusing posts where I think it's Friday night and y'all - and Blogger - think it's Saturday. Just so you know.

I had a lovely evening tonight: I met one of my many friends named J (this one has a blog) at the Westville and we drank beer & ate good pub food and meanwhile, queen of multitasking that I am, my clothes washed themselves across the street at the laundromat. Then we discovered that it was Walk In Theatre night, which is one of those Friday evenings through the summer when the cars get shooed out of the back parking lot, dedicated people erect a large "screen" that looks uncannily like a sail made of unbleached organic linen (this is Asheville, after all) many people, often with small dirty hippie children, filter in with chairs and blankets and a movie begins as it gets dark. Tonight was Time Bandits, which just so happens to be one of my favorites of all time, so we pulled the blanket out of my car - things like this are why I always, but always, have a blanket in my car - and settled in to watch. It was brilliant. I love that movie so, and watching any movie at all outside on a screen that ripples and sways a bit, surrounded by happy people drinking beer, is far and away the best way to see pretty much any movie.

Then I came home, and while I was having a small fit about where the hell I'd left my cigarettes and thus searching my car with the tiny useless flashlight on my keys, the front yard erupted into cat fight. Usually I ignore these things but tonight, fueled by beer and Time Bandits, I marched directly at it. "What the hell?" I asked the cats, "Do you think you're doing?" The cat next door, a sweet tortoiseshell, ran off. "You aren't even near your house." I said sternly, "and who are you fighting?" Of course, it was Orange Cat, and he was unashamed. He headed for home and I followed him along, lecturing him aloud like any mom in the neighborhood. "You need to stop causing trouble," I said, "You are always starting fights, and that's not cool. You go on home and you think about why you don't want the other cats to like you." He looked up at me and said Meow and I realized that I was, at 11:15 pm, chasing after an orange tom cat and scolding him aloud like a 2nd grade teacher.

It is just vaguely possible that I am spending too much time alone.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Loss: Michael McGauhey

I just came back from the memorial service for Michael McGauhey, who was the building manager for Pack Place and by way of being a good friend of mine the almost five years I worked there. It was a nice service: packed, since Michael had the great gift of making friends among everyone. People stood up and spoke about him; somebody played an Emmylou Harris song (Michael loved him some Emmylou) and all his many, many biking buddies showed up in full lycra regalia and, at the end, rode off all together to make a loop around downtown with a police escort. It was lovely. Except that I wish it hadn't happened. That's the problem with memorials: you see a lot of old friends, it's nice, but given the choice you'd definitely prefer the event never to have happened.

There were sheets of paper for people to write memories on but I couldn't do it there, so I'll do it here. I keep thinking about an article I read not long ago on the Tzaddikim, the thirty six righteous men (actually, let's hope they're men AND women, for god's sake) who, unknown even to themselves, keep the world from ending simply by being, well, good. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find out that Michael was one of them. He was one of the few truly good people I think I've ever known, and I'll include his often satirical, biting and hilarious wit in his many good qualities. I've seen Michael roll his eyes; I've heard him say mean and funny things - but I never knew him, ever, to be truly mean or judgmental or cruel, in any way. Even about politics.

We made up a religion, once, Michael and Angie and I, bored and standing outside Pack Place one afternoon. The religion focused around Babe, the Giant Ox at the Mountain State Fair, who I said encapsulated all the mystical qualities of the Buddha. Michael liked the idea of having a freakishly large farm animal as a deity and we ran with it, cracking jokes that I don't remember and discussing the necessary qualities of gods, in which standing still for long periods of time was key.

We made dark jokes about events and event planners; we would go back in his office and quietly curse the follies of fools and I knew I could rely on him in any circumstance. He gave me mild, gentle shit about smoking and drinking; we agreed that Republicans were demons. On one First Night when I, cranky & fed up, was drinking pungent whiskey out of a coffee cup behind the desk of the art museum, he came by to laugh at me and tell me he could smell my coffee across Pack Place. Oh hell. It never occurred to me that he wouldn't beat the cancer that finally got him. I told him of course he'd be fine, and he thought so too. When I got to the service today I thought immediately, "It's too crowded; Michael's going to pitch a fit," and then I thought, "It's too crowded; I think I'll sneak in back and hang out with Michael in his office." I can't imagine that he isn't there. I asked myself, as I was leaving the service, why the assholes seem to stay with us, while the angels go away, and then I thought, "You know, that's the kind of conversation I should have with Michael, he likes conversations like that." And so do I, and I mourn the loss of the friend I used to have them with.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Witch and Good Food

I seem to have achieved one of my life goals without even realizing it; without, in fact, even realizing that I had any life goals. No, life goals have just never been the kind of thing that I have. I tend to have things more like life drifts, or life just happens, or holy shit, what the fuck have I done now life altering decisions. But not goals, per se. However. I was out messing around in the garden this morning, watering the flowers, when I realized that there was a squirrel living in the porch. Yes, in, not on; a brick has fallen out of one of the porch columns and the squirrel, and probably his/her entire family plus some extra friends and maybe a couple of servants, have moved in. The squirrel was angry at me for trying to tidy up the porch a bit and for watering the hostas that have just begun to sprout, which probably means that there are baby squirrels down in the column. "Shut up," I told the squirrel, "I lived here first. And I could block that hole up." The squirrel glared at me from his hole and I thought, oh god, I have turned into one of those women I used to admire in children's books, the eccentric, possibly magical woman who lives in a kind of falling down house who says peculiar off center things to herself that might just mean something to a passing 11 year old. Mmmm hmm.

I always wanted to be that woman and live in a tumbledown cottage in the woods, and I seem to have managed it. I guess a somewhat tumbledown brick bungalow in semi urbia is the best 21st century American equivalent, that I can stand anyway, since I have to be within 5 miles of several drinking establishments or my soul will wither and die. The squirrel on the porch, the collie dog, the crazy fearful cat - it's all pointing to honorary Witchdom. I went out to the back garden where the newly resurrected Fish did a back flip out of the water at my approach (god knows why; it's not like he associates me with food or anything) and I looked at the oregano growing in the pond. Yes, it's true: I have aquatic oregano. It's very happy underwater, too, and when I went to look at it a little closer I realized that there are now big old frog eggs floating about on the surface of the pond as well.

I told the bees about it. The bees have been extremely busy with the redbud tree and I've been trying to help them by thinning out the demon honeysuckle (honeysuckle is Satan incarnate of the vegetable kingdom.) The bees don't like this much because it shakes the redbud, so I stop every so often and explain to them in a kind and reasonable voice that what I am doing will ensure more flowers for them in the future. So far they haven't stung me and what strikes me most about this is that until I decided to write about it, talking calmly to the bees in full English sentences didn't seem at all weird to me. Although, okay, yeah, it is. And there you have it: squirrel, fish, frog spawn, bees, and me, who talks to all of them.

In other news I fired up the little grill, the cheap anthropomorphic Asian grill I fell in love with at CVS a couple summers ago and bought when it went on sale. I grilled two chicken breasts (marinated in tamari, lime juice, fresh grated ginger & fresh smushed up garlic) a bunch of asparagus (cut the tough end off. Put the asparagus on a big piece of tin foil. Put about half a stick of butter, in pats on the asparagus. Liberally salt & pepper & squeeze a half a lemon over it, wrap up securely in foil, grill.) and a hamburger. I only ate the hamburger and half of the asparagus (well, okay, and a quarter of a chicken breast) because I wanted the leftover chicken to eat tomorrow or whenever, but oh god, it was all so incredibly good. I always feel like I'm wasting the fire if I don't grill pretty much everything in the kitchen when I actually go to the trouble of lighting a fire and all, so I put some potatos wrapped in foil (with olive oil, salt, pepper and a big sprig of fresh rosemary) on to it to cook overnight for yummy potatos for breakfast. Ahhh summer.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Nothing Is Working Right Today

I would really have been better off staying in bed this morning. Pretty much nothing has gone smoothly today; I'm having my own personal little Mercury in retrograde experience. I was supposed to start an actual paying gig whereby I will be doing remote data entry for a NY financial services company. This would have been fine, if I already had MS Excel, but I don't, and my contact in the company couldn't just give it to me, because MS Excel needs a disc to install it and she is, you see, in NY and I am in NC. It took us a long time to figure this out. So I thought I would get around that by doing the 60 day trial of Office. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough disc space, so I thought I'd save some space by putting all the pictures that are cluttering up my hard drive onto CDs. That is how I found out that my CD burner no longer works at all. That was when I started shouting FUCK FUCK FUCK at the computer and had to go outside and work in the garden for a little while. That went well. I hope. I may yet wake up tomorrow to find that I killed all the flowers.

So I finally freed up just enough hard drive space to install Excel, explaining to Office that I only wanted Excel, because I already had Word. I had a bad feeling about this to begin with - which was justified, because when I tried to open Word a couple minutes ago I discovered that downloading a trial version of Office has done away with it altogether. That means I have to find the original, antique disk ~ and I have a legal copy of Word, god damn it. A perfectly fucking goddamn legal copy, Mr. Gates; I don't appreciate your softwared destroying it. Fuck you very much.

Then I went shopping, where I bought a flash drive thinking I would put the graphics for the website I work on onto it but I realized tonight that, duh, that wouldn't work, because they all have to be in the same place or dreamweaver doesn't know how to fetch & upload them. So that was a waste of money I should have used to get a new CD burner, which I almost did. Argh. I moved on to the health food store, planning to at least buy some of my favorite perfume in all the world. . . they were out. No telling when they'll get more in. They don't stock lemon/cucumber water anymore, either.

On top of this, I started class tonight, only to discover that I had underestimated my own skills and the class I signed up for would be a complete waste of my time, since I already know HTML (to some extent, anyway.) Thus, I need to transfer to the advanced class. Which is full. But there may be some hope there; the teacher said he would talk to the people in Continuing Ed and try to get me in. Okay. It was an hour and a half where I made myself shut up because I knew all the answers and I had two coughing fits, which is a stress thing that happens to me sometimes in situations like meetings and classrooms. I think that now I will go to bed, hope the bed doesn't collapse underneath me, and try it all over again in the morning.

Some days are like this; it's just one of those miserable soul grinding facts of life, I know. And, as people have told me, if I had a good aura, was more relaxed and stuff, I could laugh as I flitted gracefully from flower to flower, accentuating the positive (my car didn't break down; I'm healthy) and ignoring the small frustrations of life. If only I had met someone today who could have told me that in Asheville-ease. . . then I could have killed her, and standing over her broken bloody body in the Greenlife parking lot would have helped SO much.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Who Should Paint Me?

Shamelessly stolen from Edgy Mama despite the fact that she no longer comes to Drinking Liberally. ;-)

Who Should Paint You: Salvador Dali

You're a complex, intense creature who displays many layers.
There's no way a traditional portrait could ever capture you!

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

There has been an Easter miracle in my very own home: a blessed resurrection in the backyard ~ Fish is alive again and swimming around just fine. I thought he was dead, in fact, the fishy equivalent of nailed to the perch, but he must have been resting. He really has gotten huge and beautiful; for some strange reason the water in the bathtub has cleared up a bit and I got to truly see him today. I'm wondering if I could sell him on Ebay as an exotic Koi and/or the Second Coming, but that would be mean and unfair to Fish, not to mention a logistical nightmare. I doubt those federal express mail pouches are all that water tight. In other good news, the bank got back to me and has placed a fraud alert on my account, although on calm reflection I have realized that a) there probably wasn't a checkbook in the glove compartment and b) the kind of people who dedicatedly search your entire car but end up taking only about 73 cents in filthy pennies and some hippie jewelry are probably not the same kind of people who go in for identity theft.

Also, I put in about 3 solid hours worth of work on the garden and yard and it's starting to look good. I have made a resolution to work in the garden one or two hours a day from now on; this will trim my waistline, which is woefully in need of some major slimming down action and make my garden look awesome, or at least like somebody at some point did something out there besides drink beer and smoke cigarettes while staring at the weeds and sighing. This is good, but in the bad category, it occurs to me that if I spend an hour a day, every day for the next five years, doing nothing but ripping out honeysuckle and wild blackberries, I may make a tiny dent in one corner of the yard which will probably immediately fill up with poison ivy or kudzu.

In the bad category, my organic gardening status is really falling down. Not only am I going to spray the roses for black spot again this year, because otherwise they inevitably get, what else, black spot and all the leaves fall off (yeah, thanks, I tried the cornmeal and the aloe and the dish detergent and walking widdershins around them naked chanting to the vegetable god - no dice) but at Lowes today I bought a giant industrial sized plastic jug of deadly plant poison and I proceeded to spray it on the aforementioned wild blackberries that are intent on taking over my yard. I know, I know, this is wrong and evil and bad in so many ways, but I'm tired of being ripped to shreds while trying to mow the lawn or plant anything, and every year they get bolder and more aggressive. I tried pulling them out by the roots, and maybe it's something that Baron Sacher von Masoch could have gotten into for kicks, but those thorns go all the goddamn way down into the ground and they can penetrate anything I'm wearing.

And the Ugly category: I'm pulling my personal ad off because in two or three weeks, despite the fact that everyone says that all women get at least a couple of emails from losers on all internet dating sites, I have not gotten anything but three winks, one of which came from somebody named KinkyMaster. I am a woman, so far as I know, and there's even a picture of me up there, wearing a skirt and a tight shirt; hell, I must be a woman, because not only have I borne & breast fed kids, I've been known to enjoy shopping for clothes, I crave chocolate once a month and, final proof, I've gone and paid someone money to wax my eyebrows, something men simply do not do. Except for metrosexuals, I guess, but I hardly ever meet any of those. But according to online dating, I guess I am not female, or, I am so creepy I can't even attract the creeps. Except KinkyMaster. I'm not quite desperate enough yet for KinkyMaster - besides, he lives in Raleigh. So fuck it: I can feel insecure, hideous and unlovable all by myself without the help and validation of the internets, and thus the profile shall vanish in a puff of metaphorical smoke.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Fucking Fuckity Fuckers, Man

My fucking car got fucking broken into last night by some fucking fucks outside Jack of the Wood. I don't even know how they got in, because I could swear I locked it when I left it in the First Citizens Bank lot on the corner of Patton & Skyland, but when I got back 4 hours later, the drivers side door was open and it had been thoroughly, thoroughly tossed. I am so fucking pissed off.

I didn't call the cops last night because I didn't feel like dealing with it, so I just got off the phone with them. I love the way cops make you feel like you are being a royal pain in the ass when actually you are doing your own fucking civic duty by fucking bothering to fucking inform them that there are people breaking into cars on the corner of Patton and Skyland and maybe, just maybe, if they are aware of this shit they could possibly, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, send a cop by to patrol once in a fucking while.

My car is too full of stuff; okay, I know that. I hadn't really finished unpacking from my trip yet. So the fuckers took all my change - fine. They took a little embroidered purse - not so fine - which contained a beaded necklace a friend made.I will be LOOKING for that necklace, assholes; it's one of a kind and I know what it looks like. They dumped the purse first and left my amber earrings, which are much more valuable, sitting there. They left at least most of my cassettes; they left an unopened container of AA batteries, but they took an unopened container of D batteries. I am worried that they may have found and taken a couple of deposit slips or, even worse, a checkbook, because I have been known to leave a checkbook in the glove compartment for emergencies and I have a tendency to just stuff deposit slips in between the car seats.

There may well have been a checkbook. God knows there was stuff in the glove compartment I had completely forgotten about - directions to a party in Vermont that I attended in 1999 and shit like that. Postcards of cows, never mailed. It was all pulled out of the glove compartment and thrown all over the seat. But I can't get ahold of a human being at the fucking bank, although I have been TRYING to inform them of this fact and put a fraud alert or something on my bank account since this morning.

They didn't take my tent, or my sleeping bag, or the cheap mexican blanket I use at the beach. They didn't take my laundry detergent, or the cans of bug spray, or my cowboy boots or my sneakers. I don't know if they took any cassette tapes or not - it's possible that they left with my priceless copy of Bananarama Cruel Summer but I can't imagine why. This kind of thing is just so goddamn annoying. I should have remembered that friends of mine have had their cars broken into at that lot; I should have found on street parking; I should, I shouldn't, whatever. God Damn It.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Lost World

I have discovered an unbelievably awful great new TV series! This kind of thing is routine for those of you who actually own a TV and get cable, I know, but I have to get my TV delivered on shiny disks by the nice mailman, so it's different for me. Lately, when confronted with my Blockbuster Online queue, I've been succumbing to that "I've watched everything I ever need or want to watch" feeling, so I've been kind of desperately typing in random letters to see if anything interesting pops up.

Well, The Lost World popped up and I have been glued to the screen, even though Blockbuster sent me the wrong disc (in a kind of weirdly ironic move, they sent me the first disc of Lost, which I have already seen, and which is one of the reasons I still have Blockbuster, since I'm not so patiently awaiting season 2) and, at any rate, I had to start Lost World on Disc 2. No matter! I picked up the basic idea quite quickly! The Lost World is so awful that it's great. Or so great that it's awful; I can't quite decide, but I definitely want to move to Canada or Australia (it's a co-production; go figure) and become a writer for the show. Writing for the Lost World would be GREAT, because there are no rules. It's sort of the TV corollary to my long held career dream of writing for the Weekly World News - no restrictions, anything goes, wink wink, nudge nudge. Yeah.

The Lost World is the story of the adventures of a plucky band of heroes who have somehow landed in the Lost World, which apparently is part of New Zealand, but, like the Hotel California, cannot be escaped. The cast includes The Old Scientific Smart Doctor Guy, The Older Leader Guy, The Macho Adventurer Guy, The Sensitive Young Writer Guy, The Bitchy Babe with The Heart of Gold and The Ingenue Who Also Happens To Be Quite Handy With Edged Weapons. The ingenue, by the way, wears a pleather bikini type garment that has to be seen to be believed and was apparently raised wild in the jungle, which is why, when she swings across the river on a vine in the opening credits, the narrator breathlessly refers to her as An Untamed Beauty. Yes. How can you not love a show that actually uses the words Untamed Beauty unironically? Even more to the point, how can you not love a show that, in the four or five episodes I have now watched, has included the following elements:
1. Evil blonde queen of dusky face painted savages
2. Hallucinogenic fungus
3. Aztec types in bad wigs, pleather T-shirts & skorts performing human sacrifice
4. Vampires who have come to the jungle complete with their neo gothic castle surrounded by creepy mists
5. Wife buying savages
6. Missing links
7. Ape Men who like to eat human flesh
8. Druids.
Yes, I did say druids. Naturally there are druids! Why wouldn't there be druids? But I have left out the best, the most awesome part of all: in every episode they fight dinosaurs. Every single episode includes dinosaur death; there are tyrannosaurus rexes, velociraptors, scary things with long pointy mouths that look kind of like chainsaws, and dozens more. The Lost World is absolutely crawling with dinosaurs, and most of them want your blood. Every so often the adventurers take to the air in their balloon (no, no they can't leave the Lost World via balloon, silly. Don't ask why. They just can't.) providing us with great, if sort of poor man's Jurassic Park-esque, views of brontosauruses and stegosauruses and distant pterodactyls. It's awesome. I have long felt that all TV shows should be required to include at least one scene of dinosaur battle (it would improve the HELL out of the McNeil/Lehrer report, you know it would) and at last, I have found a show that agrees with me. I am happy now. I am content. I'll be in the living room, watching Untamed Beauty fight off Velociraptor.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Or, in English, Oh. My. God. Oriental. Trading. Company. The stress of selling incredibly cheap bizarre crap in job lots for incredibly low prices has finally gotten to you and you've gone insane. Also, born again. The Oriental Trading Company, for no doubt inscrutable Oriental reasons, has gone Jumpy For Jesus. You see, I got five copies of the OTC catalog in my mailbox this week. That's kind of overkill, but not unheard of - except this is the Vacation Bible School edition and I just made the unholy mistake of thumbing through it. Jesus wept. Yes, yes he did. Profusely. I almost wept too, with laughter.

I was looking for troll dolls. There aren't any. I guess Jesus doesn't love troll dolls - pity, because troll dolls are just so damn lovable: Jesus, what's wrong with you? Hatin' on the troll dolls - jeez. Instead of troll dolls, or other cute things, Jesus is apparently into frogs, because there is a whole page of, and I quote: Faith Filled Frog Gifts! Now we know what to get Jesus for Christmas. Thank god, because it was tough. These gifts include the Cotton "Stick to Your Faith" bucket hats with little pictures of presumably holy frogs saying Stick with Jesus. Why the frogs are sticky, and why, given their stickiness, it's Jesus that they're choosing to stick with, as opposed to, say, Glrmphribbit, Giant God of Frogs, I cannot say. I will, however, note that I have never encountered a sticky frog. They tend to be slippery as, well, hell.

Then there are the Inspirational Plush Puppets which are at least explicable. They're on the same page with the 500 Fabulous Foam Inspirational Beads because tiny green hands apparently carry some sort of sacred Christian message that they didn't tell us Catholics about. They make me think of aliens and those Indian villages where the mud brick houses are decorated with hand prints, but hey, what do I know? I've watched too many bad horror movies and National Geographic specials, clearly, and my mind has been turned away from Jesus.

I kind of like the God Rocks although I'm less enthusiastic about the same slogan applied to "hip" bandannas and, god help us, inflatable electric guitars. But it's the million, million ways to decorate crosses, or vaguely cross shaped things, that worry me the most. I don't like the sequin & cardboard cross box craft kit, which looks like something a young Buffy the Vampire Slayer might have enjoyed and, both as a mother and a neo pagan, I heartily object to the plastic cross sand art frames: "Mooom!!! Jimmy spilled my cross all over the living room rug!" I kind of generally have problems with using instruments of torture as decorative devices, although I guess St. Ignatius Loyola would have been all over it. Definitely a meditation aid, I suppose: gluing plastic jewels on plywood crosses, or using neon string to decorate plastic crosses, or scratching into black paper crosses to reveal the beautiful colors underneath - and, thus, contemplating the agonizing death of our Lord. What are they doing here, raising Jesuits? The Inquisition? I kept on looking, and while I originally thought the creepiest picture in the whole catalog was the multi ethnic family with fixed, forced smiles holding up their magic color scratch art cross ornaments, then, then, Oh Lord, I got to the Race for Faith pages, which combine Nascar and Jesus in one impeccable heap of horrifying tacky goodness. Win With Jesus stick on tattoos. That about says it all, doesn't it? Just says it all.

A Lovely Mysterious Gift

tku notebook009
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry.
That came in the mail - a perfect teeny Moleskine notebook that fits in my pocket or purse and has groovy, groovy graph paper in it. Thank you, whoever you are, I love it, as you can see, and I'll be using it, oh, not much, twelve or fifteen times a day is all.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Belief O' Matic Says: I'm a Hippie

I just took the Belief O Matic test(again) and I'm glad to find that my religious views haven't changed: hey, I'm a hippie freak and I belong in Asheville! I know this will come as a terrible shock to everyone, but what can I say? I'll work it out in the next life, when I come back as an investment banker.

Your Results:

The top score on the list below represents the faith that Belief-O-Matic, in its less than infinite wisdom, thinks most closely matches your beliefs. However, even a score of 100% does not mean that your views are all shared by this faith, or vice versa.

Belief-O-Matic then lists another 26 faiths in order of how much they have in common with your professed beliefs. The higher a faith appears on this list, the more closely it aligns with your thinking.

1. Neo-Pagan (100%)
2. Mahayana Buddhism (98%)
3. New Age (87%)
4. Theravada Buddhism (87%)
5. Unitarian Universalism (87%)
6. Hinduism (80%)
7. Liberal Quakers (79%)
8. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (72%)
9. Taoism (72%)
10. Jainism (67%)
11. New Thought (67%)
12. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (59%)
13. Sikhism (59%)
14. Scientology (58%)
15. Secular Humanism (57%)
16. Orthodox Quaker (50%)
17. Bah�'� Faith (48%)
18. Reform Judaism (48%)
19. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (37%)
20. Nontheist (29%)
21. Jehovah's Witness (27%)
22. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (26%)
23. Seventh Day Adventist (25%)
24. Orthodox Judaism (24%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (14%)
26. Islam (14%)
27. Roman Catholic (14%)

That Time of Year

I mowed the yard. It was a royal fucking pain in the ass and the unpleasant portent of things to come. Did you know that in a fight between a lawnmower and a green plastic dust broom, the dust broom loses? However, if you pit the lawnmower against a large, soggy rawhide bone, the bone emerges the victor. It's a good thing I took a shower before I mowed because otherwise it would be dirty skin that's covered with tiny shreds of grass as opposed to my clean, yet green, self. There's something in my eye and using the lawnmower to fight back the invading thornbushes doesn't really work very well.

It turns out that the tiny bugs that were attacking me in McClellanville were more serious about feasting than I thought. I had this idea that they were only vaguely annoying: little midgey gnats that buzz around but do no harm. I was wrong. Boy, was I ever wrong. I am covered with fiendishly itching tiny bites. It's awful. I have rings of bites around my wrists, my ankles and my middle and sweet weeping jesus, they ITCH. Naturally, I tell myself that the more I scratch, the more they will itch, but honestly I'm finding that they itch demonically no matter what.

Fish is dead. Sing requiem. His large unsightly orange body is floating in the pond. It seems sad that he made it all the way through the winter only to die in the spring, but there you have it. Nature is red in tooth and claw, and goldfish die. I think maybe this year I will pull that damn tub out of there and give up on my pond. I don't really take good enough care of it and it just gets nasty; I can't afford all the pumps and filters and shit it would take to keep it nice. Sigh. Fish, we hardly knew ye. Thanks for taking care of all the mosquito larvae.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Blow By Blow Account of the Weekend

I drove down on Friday afternoon - straight to Folly Beach, where I walked for about 2 miles down perfect sand, got my feet wet and took way too many pictures. Then I drove into Charleston to my friend L's beautiful house over by Hampton Park, took a shower, and sat there with her drinking wine and talking about the many evils of males and, of course, everything else under the sun. It was fabulous. We got dressed up all glamourous and went downtown, where we realized that a) it was the weekend of the Cooper River bridge run and downtown was crowded and b) our dear old friend H had disappointed us by not working Friday night, since we had had a plan to surprise him by eating at the restaurant where he works. How dare you take a night off, H? We went to ACs to see if perchance he might be there, but alas he was not, and while we have aged, and ACs has aged, the clientele of ACs has not for the most part aged, so they are all as young as we were when we used to hang out there. So we went across the street a bit and signed up for a table at a great Thai place and had drinks next door in a bar full of scarily good looking people while we waited. Then we went to a party in one of those fabulous old Charleston houses which L says nobody lives in anymore, which is sad to hear, but at least L's friends have managed it. Very cool people, very fun evening.

Saturday morning we drank great coffee in L's sumptous bedroom, then went downtown, where we had a nice & mellow breakfast near the College of Knowledge and met L's roommate the adorable P. Walked down King Street, had a brief moment of madness and tried on a whole bunch of truly, truly hideous clothes. I mean these clothes were beyond awful - we are talking sequinned black spaghetti strap tunics. Which I almost bought, because, clearly, we had been subliminally drugged in the dressing room or something. Fortunately the next things we tried on were so awful that the laughter reflex was triggered and we manged to escape. Onwards to Urban Outfitters (do you believe that there is an Urban Outfitters on King Street now? The world has changed in deep and intense ways.) where I bought a hoodie which would later prove to be a godsend, and then we had a bloody mary at the Rue de John with L's friends W & C. Big fun. I hated to leave but it was time, so I got into the car and went over the new Cooper River bridge, which, I am happy to report, is almost as scary as the old bridge, although for somewhat different reasons, like, you don't think it's about to fall down, but it is very, very high up and there are unholy numbers of tourists doing 90 all around you. Eeep.

Got to Mclellanville eventually despite atrocious creeping traffic (atrocious creeping traffic was a problem all weekend) and found any number of my old friends drinking beer & playing music, which is funnily enough exactly what they were doing the last time I saw them, and, I think, might be what they do all the time. Yeah. Some things do not and should not change. K in a top hat playing Friend of the Devil is one of those things. L & E were there with their kids who get bigger & cuter every year, ditto for M's kids. Pitched the tent, blew up the air mattress, swatted innumerable gnats, drank many beers my own self, marveled at M's many new inventions and creations (I hereby christen them bontraptions) cuddled a 14 week old Great Dane puppy who is already bigger than Theo and had a great, great time. I ate fantastic unbelievable food: M built a tandoori oven, and in this oven went two chickens and a whole bunch of I think pork wrapped up with venison bacon. There was tons of venison, two whole Boston butts that had been smoked/grilled for 24 hours and three bushels of oysters that E handily roasted, as well as of course slaw and potato salad and devilled egss (god, I love devilled eggs.) I did not do a blessed thing to help, except peel & grind some ginger & garlic; mostly, I watched everyone else work. Lovely, lovely - there's just nothing like watching other people run around. Much laughter, much fun.

It got damn cold on Saturday night and I had weird, weird vivid snake dreams as is related in an audio post below. I got up around 4 am and put on every piece of clothing I had with me; 5 hours later it was 85 and I was dying of heat. Sunday morning: amazing how the party cleared out. By the time I got up around 9:30 there was only me & M, L & E and T left. We cleaned up a bit and swatted more gnats, talked & laughed. Then, sigh, I hit the road for five hours of creeping noxious traffic back to Asheville, where the house was not as chaotic as I had feared but worse than I had hoped, and young M my son had to go back to school. That was my weekend, and a good one it was indeed.

R, I'm sorry I didn't make it into Mt. Pleasant to see you, man, it was another visit where it seemed like every single minute was scheduled and there just weren't enough hours in the days.

Oh the Flowers That Bloom in the Spring Tra La

I was only gone for two days but my absence apparently makes the weeds grow stronger. The grass in the backyard is shin high and the tulips are all blooming like mad things. It's gorgeous. However, it signals the start of the spring/summer gardening work season, so I just raked a huge bag of leaves out of the front flower bed. There's at least another bag still in there, not to mention the mint n' gnome garden, which is still all neglected looking, as is, in fact, my whole bloody house. Ah home.

I have decided that what I really need is troll dolls, lots and lots of them, but they don't seem to make them anymore. This is a pity. I don't want to pay a ton of money for individual collector's item troll dolls on Ebay; I want to go down to the dollar store and buy like 20 troll dolls for like $10. Then I want to arrange some on my dashboard, some inside the broken purple plastic reflecting globe in the aforementioned mint n' gnome garden in the front yard, and some I just want to have around me, with their little troll doll stares.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

54 Hours. . .

. . 600 miles, 1 1/2 tanks of gas, 43 cigarettes, 15 beers, 5 cokes, probably several gallons of water, 4 or 5 cups of coffee, 1 snackable, 1 bag of salt & vinegar potato chips, 1 bag of trail mix, many oysters, Pad thai & red curry, an egg & cheese bagel, a barbecue sandwich, potato salad, bread, cheese, a deviled egg, one bacon cheeseburger and an order of fries later. . . I'm home. And tired. And kind of cranky, if the truth be known. I think it was the bacon cheeseburger, or maybe it was the cold and not very restful night, but I just got invited out for a beer and turned my friend down very emphatically. I took a shower & put on pajamas & all I want is to be alone, dahlink. It is so nice & peaceful right now. Everything in Charleston is in bloom. It was like going forward in time, into spring, into summer.

I had a great time, but you know, I don't want to live in Charleston any more. This shouldn't really be much of a shock, since I haven't lived there for 20 years, and you'd think I would have gotten around to moving back home if I really wanted to be there, but usually when I go down and visit I get all overcome by nostalgia and love for my friends and I think, "Oh, if only I still lived here! I should just move back! What am I thinking, not to live here?!" But this time, for the first time, I thought instead, "Damn, I hate the weather here, and the traffic is insane, these frickin' gnats are eating me alive and I love living up in the mountains. The beach is beautiful, but I like it better in Asheville."

I do love my friends though. Last night I was overwhelmed with love for them; they were all creating the most unholy din with all the musical contraptions that my genius friend M (whose party it was) creates. The man made a musical sawhorse. Yes. And it plays, as does the giant bass type thing that is made from large PVC, part of a 10 gallon plastic water jug and wire, the Japanese bambooey thing that sounds like an acoustic theremin, the PVC pipe organ and many, many other wonders. He dragged all these, also the more standard musical instruments, outside to a tent and wired the entire thing so that it was all amped to the max, and then we all proceeded to make what might, in kindness, be called shrimp factory industrial noise. It was beautiful. I wish I'd gotten more pictures, like when E had his fiddle neck up underneath the strings of the guitar/dulcimer thing that M made out of a galvanized drum and a banjo neck and everyone's instrument was 1/2 inch from the amp for maximum feedback. . in the cool Carolina coast night, with stars overhead and a huge bonfire. It was great.

Drivng Home: My Weird Dream of Snakes

this is an audio post - click to play