Friday, December 28, 2007

Ciao Again, Y'all

I'm out of town again - yes, I know, this is playing havoc with my blogging. Sorry about that. No, not really. I'm having fun, so, well, uh, tough. Y'all will just have to deal. Anyway, this afternoon I'm dashing off to Charleston and thence to Baltimore and I probably, gods willing and the creek don't rise, won't be back to Asheville and my computer until like next weekend. In the meantime, here are a few Asheville downtown notes from this morning's copious intake of coffee to keep you occupied.

Boob Cam at Asheville Savings Bank! Okay, I noticed this months ago and have never been sure exactly what to do about it - gently notify the bank or just revel in the schadenfreude? Let's go with revelling: the drive through at the downtown branch of Asheville Savings (yeah, there is one; it's in the parking lot behind the bank off the alley; it took me 7 years to find the damn thing but I swear it exists) has this nifty device whereby, since there is no window, you actually speak with a real time video image of your teller as you do your banking. This is pretty cool. What is even cooller, or possibly extremely uncool, depending on how you want to look at it, is that the camera is pointed straight at your teller's chest except when she bends down to speak directly to you. The tellers are, of course, 90% female. I can't believe they've never noticed it and I've always wondered if it was some goofy camera installer's idea of a joke but there it is: Boob Cam at the bank!

Scary Mannequin Has New Scary Clothes! There's a mannequin at Bellagio Everyday on Biltmore Avenue who scares the bejesus out of me. She is white - well, they're all white, like chalky postmodern titanium ghost white - and her feet have built in heels, which is just creepy, and her face is evil in that sneery mannequin way and, the worst part, her hands are held up in a kind of claw like gesture so that it is all too easy to imagine her stepping out of that window one fine night and eviscerating a passer by with her long white fingernails. I fear her. She's the one who was holding up the Christmas lights, which made her no less frightening, since it looked like she was about to happily strangle you with them, but now she has put down her lights and put on a pair of totally psycho black parachute pants like a crazed jewel thief from a bad 80s movie. It was awful enough when she was dressed in the gorgeous albeit unaffordable clothes that Bellagio usually features because at least you were going to be supernaturally killed by a beautifully dressed creature of evil but in those pants? Aaaaiiiiiiiieeeeeee!!!

And that's it for today. Enjoy your New Years Eve, y'all, and remember it is Amateur Night par extraordinaire, therefore, behave accordingly. Happy End of the Fucking Holidays At Last! See You Next Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

sunset from the car

sunset from the car
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I'm ready for the holidays to be over, I think. Tomorrow after work I'm hopping in the car and heading to Charleston, and then on Saturday M & I are getting into his car, which is newer and has a real CD player as opposed to one that plugs into the tape deck and has to be held carefully on the passenger's lap lest it begin to skip, and driving up to Baltimore, hon. For like four or five days. Young M is staying behind with his sister and the dogs and I'm all a bit kerfuffled with trying to get ready and the house being a total mess and, you know, the whole thing. I recognize that it is stupid to clean up before carloads of teenagers arrive to lie around watching TV for a week, but I can't help it.

My friend K brought me a truckload of wood this morning, though! Yay! This was very, very kind of her and now that I have sort of recovered from the initial shock of how fast that antique oil furnace burns oil, I'm determined to mostly heat with wood for the rest of the winter. The house has a "fireplace insert", which is a sort of 80s invention that combines the worst elements of an open fire - it doesn't heat much - with those of a woodstove - you can't see the fire. Actually, though, it does pretty much work as long as you do it properly, which means keeping the incredibly noisy fan plugged in and working and the metal doors shut. I haven't been using it properly - let's face it, I've been using it as a large and gloriously crackling ashtray, actually - but that is all going to change. And I'm going to put plastic up over all the windows and blankets as well for that full cave look. You do what you gotta do, and I'm damned if I'm buying more oil.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

project 365 #356: decorations

Well, thank the gods the holiday season is winding to a close. It was a nice Christmas and we all had a lovely time, but going back to work today was tough. And then there's the obligatory Christmas season week long hangover, the mess at home, the exhaustion, and the horrible realization at 8:00 this morning that you have no heat and that means that you will have to give ALL your Christmas money, which you've been waiting for all month, planning to buy yourself some new contact lenses or, hell, I don't know, a loaf of bread or something similarly selfish, to the oil company. Furthermore, you also realize that this means that this new house & furnace are in fact WORSE at conserving energy than your old house & furnace, something you would have previously thought impossible. And that in turn means that it's going to be a long, cold winter. Really cold. I can't afford to buy more oil for several months, so, well, I guess the thermostat goes to 50 and stays there. Bah humbug, Santa, why didn't you bring me oil?

Actually it was a lovely day; young M gave me beautiful Ganesh earrings and A gave me a collaged box & tiles, all very very cool and that she made, M gave me a swarovski crystal necklace, my mother gave me a black twin set which is oh so Jackie Kennedy, yeah, and my brother gave me a gift certificate to Karmasonics, while my other brother gave me a pack of Carl Buddig turkey coldcuts. We had roast beef & yorkshire pudding for dinner at my mothers, followed by my traditional 92 proof trifle and then A & I came along home and sat around the fire for half the night. M had to go back to Charleston, which is sad, but I'll be seeing him again in 3 days, hurrah.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Gettin' Our Christmas On

The tree is about half trimmed; the kids are out shopping; M & I are drinking bloody marys and getting ready for people to come over and it just feels all Holiday like. My brother N is in town and we all went out to dinner last night at Mela, which was amazing. And, the best part, I just downloaded a shitload of awesome christmas music from here and you can too. This is the real stuff, too, y'all, none of that annoying Christmas music like if you hear Santa Baby one more time you're going to shoot somebody.

The shopping is basically done - it has to be, for my bank account is now basically empty. Yesterday we went on up to Bat Cave to see D & A & R; D has an amazingly strange and beautiful Christmas tree up and A has made a giant terrifying rope swing. He gave us a chainsaw bear! I am so thrilled! I have been wanting a chainsaw bear for the longest time and now I have one in my front yard even if young M, who longs for normalcy, says that it's haggard. It is fabulous and A is going to come over sometime soon with a torch and finish it so it's all appropriately blackened.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all that stuff - things are awesome here and I hope they are with you as well!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

red star light

red star light
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
No internet at work ALL DAY today - it's shocking how much I got done. I am having a little party on Sunday, y'all; the whole family is in town and so they will be there and I have gone ahead and invited a whole bunch of people as well. If you did not get an invitation and you want to come, leave a comment or email me!

S is back from her trip to Australia and we are all waiting with bated breath to find out all the details and how it went and so on. To that end I am very shortly heading over to her house and then we're all - that whole old gang o' mine, to resurrect antique slang such as you might hear in a black and white Christmas movie where at any minute the guy and the broad are about to gather around the piano in the ski lodge and begin to sing carols - going out to dinner at the new restaurant in West Asheville, the Admiral. Although why, in Asheville, which is far from the madding sea, or at least it is right now although give global warming a little more time and Tryon will have beachfront property, you would call a restaurant the Admiral and not the General or the Colonel Major or something, I do not know. But I hear it is good and so thence am I shortly bound. Speaking of new restaurants, the food at Tolliver's Crossing is actually really good. I did not expect it to be but it was awesome AND they let you smoke in there after 9 pm which makes me oh so very, very happy. I'm tired of freezing to death while I'm doing my level best to get cancer.

Wahoo! The holidays begin, now!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One of Those Days

I am not having a good day. Young M missed the schoolbus for the second day in a row and I did not take it well. When young M misses the bus, one of us is going to be 45 minutes late and we take it in turns. Today was his day to be on time, since yesterday was mine. No, there is nothing that can be done about this equation unless somebody wants to buy us a helicopter, which would come in handy for a whole bunch of stuff, actually, so yeah, go ahead and add the helicopter to the Amazon wishlist. Then at work I had scanner troubles and then, when I got home, I discovered that Django, who is in his second day (he got back into the palm tree yesterday) of another outburst of total destruction had pretty much finished off the couch. He completely destroyed one of the cushions. I just got finished gathering up all the bits of foam and stuffing, stuffing it all into a roughly cushion shaped pile, digging out some fabric I had stashed away, wrapping it around the pile of foam like a fucking Christmas present from a demented crackhead North Pole elf and then duct taping the whole shebang into something that, apologies to Douglas Adams, is almost but not quite entirely unlike a couch cushion.

I know, I should either get rid of the fucking dog or stop whining about him, one or the other - but jesus. And meanwhile, the Christmas tree would look a whole lot better if it wasn't being displayed in a partially disassembled lawnmower box, which I have rigged so that it can be reassembled into a tall and, one hopes, daunting tree obstacle. I mean it's attractive, you know, and it will only get better when I go berserk and wrap the box in Christmas paper which will take Django about 30 seconds to demolish.

Not only that, but the damn duct tape was soaked with cough syrup. I discovered that the other day when I was fortunately in a much better mood than I am right now and it made me laugh helplessly. When we were all sick I put all the sick supplies - three or four kinds of cough syrup, ibuprofen, sudafed, lozenges, kleenex, vicks - onto a plastic tray on top of the refrigerator. Naturally the duct tape went there too. Anyway, what I failed to notice is that one of the cough syrup bottles' lid was loose and then, of course, the inevitable had happened. No one had noticed it until I tried to pick up the duct tape and it came away from the tray slowly, trailing streamers of half solidified and highly medicinal smelling red goo. M was on the phone with me at the time and he tried to reassure me that that kind of thing would soon no longer be a part of my life. I felt bad but I had to be honest. "That's sweet," I said, "But I'm afraid there's nothing you can do. My life went to entropy long ago and there will always, always be cough syrup on the duct tape. I am the chosen avatar of chaos in West Asheville." There was a moment of silence and I thought, drat, that will scare him off. But M, thank the gods, is made of sterner stuff and he doesn't frighten easily. "Well," he said, "We'll deal with it then." Thank the gods that I have finally found a man who says cheerfully, "We just won't buy any furniture until the dogs are grown up!" It is a miracle.

And so we will deal with it, because I have come up with this plan where all we need to do is construct large plywood and/or plexiglass boxes to fit every single thing in the house. They will hang from the ceiling when we're home and when we leave we will flick a switch and and they will descend (creating a very interesting design statement) and everything in the house will be crated, safe from the dog of doom until we get back. M thinks that maybe we can get grant money for this and he swears that Django will be better when he's 2 and a half, which is about a year or a little more away. And I think he's right, although as S points out, Django is the only thing on this earth that I feel optimistic about, right in the pointed teeth of the evidence. Except now I feel optimistic about M too and that's excellent.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

dogs dont care about xmas

dogs dont care about xmas
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
In the spirit of wild holiday energy, I went to the river this morning with two dogs, two Santa hats, two leashes, a pocket full of milkbones and a partridge in a pear tree. I had this brilliant idea where the dogs would either wear the Santa hats or they would hold them in their mouths and do cute things with the lovely frosty icy river morning in the background and then I would make incredibly adorable holiday cards with the resulting works of photographic genius.

Yes. Well, best laid plans of mice and men and all that. I should have either soaked the hats in bacon grease or sewn elastic bands on them or maybe just cut out the middle thread and sewn them directly to the dogs. Django obligingly grabbed the hats and ran but he kept dropping them in icy puddles before I got a decent shot and Theo, clearly feeling that that the whole Santa hat thing was below his dignity, ignored them completely no matter how much I cajoled. "You won't be in the holiday cards if you don't hold the hat!" I said threateningly but it turned out he was okay with that.

And then they flushed a deer - a buck, a big buck with antlers and everything - out of the woods. That was beautiful and terrifying, because at first I thought that the deer and the dogs were all going to charge up onto I-40 which would, you know, sort of wreck the holidays for everyone, particularly the deer, but instead the deer broke out onto the field with the dogs in hot, if somewhat confused (they've never, to my knowledge, actually encountered a deer before) pursuit. The deer booked across the little road and into the woods across Hominy Creek, where Theo stopped, because it was after all 24 degrees or something and Theo is not without a modicum of sense. Django charged on through the water and came back frozen again, but being covered with ice doesn't seem to faze him one iota. He just shakes the worst of the hoarfrost off now and then with a small clatter of icicles and keeps on running.
nativity scene
In other holiday news, though, I got my nativity scene out and set up on the good red Christmas tablecloth and it looks all pretty and makes me feel super Christmasy. Tonight I'm going to go get a tree and I have a whole ham, courtesy of my mother and the Meals on Wheels people, sitting in the back of my car. Along with the holiday cards, featuring mostly Django in motion, which actually turned out really well for the most part and, by the way, I love Kinkos forever. Even though, yeah, I have turned into one of those middle aged women who has pictures of her dogs on her holiday cards, which is kind of terrifying, but then we all knew it was coming and, let's face it, young M would rather face a firing squad than the prospect of a family Christmas photo. Sort of like Theo.

Monday, December 17, 2007

felicity and the folly lighthouse

I'm back. It was another incredible, amazing weekend. Do y'all want to hear me get all soppy and talk about love and happiness and joy and all that kinda stuff? No, I thought not. I could, though! I really could! Y'all, he brought me roses on Sunday morning! We went for an early morning walk on the beach! Everything was totally fantastic! He even liked the dinosaur poster I gave him! And I'm all in love and shit! Okay, I'm stopping now. I promise.

To return to our regularly scheduled blog of darkness and dog stories, I must report that it's a little shattering to go walking on Folly Beach on Sunday morning in just a light jacket and then drive up to Asheville on Sunday afternoon. Right around Spartanburg I had to change from my Charleston jacket to my Asheville coat and then by the time I got home, it was snowing. It was twenty fucking three degrees this morning when I took the dogs to the river and the water started freezing on Django's back when he came out of the creek. That was really weird - if you've never seen a springer spaniel with icicles forming on his fur, you've - well, never seen it, I guess. Pretty strange and it didn't bother Django a bit. Sometimes I think I must be mad trying to get M to move here, where it is cold, when we could live in Charleston, where it is not. Then I remember that this argument could be oh so easily reversed in June.

In other news, I think I'm going to go get a Christmas tree this evening. I was going to wait for M to get here on Friday night so we could go pick one out together on Saturday and decorate it together and stuff (cue goopy romantic music here, yeah, I know, I can't help it) but then I panicked about not having a tree yet. My cold is mostly gone and I'm getting serious about the holidays. I wish there was some kind of list somewhere, oh, like the paper maybe, (ha ha! What a laff riot! Like the local paper would do something so staggeringly useful!) of Christmas tree lots and who's selling them for charity and where. In Baltimore I used to buy trees that benefited the eye bank, which was actually kind of creepy, because I could never help wondering if maybe someone's eye had been poked out by their tree and that's why they hit on that as a fundraiser. Of course, I also thought it would be totally cool if they decorated a whole tree with eyeballs as a sign, but whatever. Here, though, I've never found any tree stands for charity, except for a couple of blatantly Christian ones and as we know, since Jesus and I have a strict non-interference policy, I'm contractually obliged to avoid the real serious born again types. Not that I feel strongly about that (yeah I do, but I'm not going there and I just deleted some extraneous cussing, even) and actually, I do buy pumpkins from the Methodists, but then the Methodists seem a bit, well, saner than some. However, I guess if I'm buying a tree from anyone at all I'm sort of supporting a small tree farmer, which is charitable and oh well, what the hell. I'll probably go get one from that lady in my neighborhood who gets them from her cousin in Madison County.

Friday, December 14, 2007

french broad river morning

french broad river morning
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Ciao, y'all. I'm off to Charleston after a completely insane Friday morning that involved speaking with way too many Sprint representatives and the final end purchase of a throw away GO phone for young M so he won't be home alone without phone. Life was simpler in the early days. When I was 16, in addition to walking to school 5 miles uphill in the snow, I lived by myself in Spain with no telephone of any kind. I really did. And nobody worried about me (my parents were, I think, delighted to have me far, far away) and I didn't even worry about myself except for the nights when I lay there awake thinking that there were serial killers disguised as sheep (I lived, basically, in the middle of a sheep pasture) sneaking around my windows until finally the panic would wind down and I would realize that serial killers never go to the trouble of dressing up like sheep, scuffling and baaaing their way around your windows for 2 hours before they climb through the window with the axe. They just come in and kill you straight off without the whole bovine charade. Then I would feel better and go back to sleep and in the morning continue with my highly unsuitable life for a teenager which involved, mostly, cafes, discos and babysitting, not in that order, and I was pretty much completely happy. So I think young M can get through one Saturday night on his own.

Anyway, despite the fact that apparently I need to sign up for a course called Garter Belts 101, since I'm having near tragic lingerie failures every 20 minutes today, everything is groovy and I'm off down 26. See you Sunday or Monday.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I had to add to my drug collection this morning. I carry around a battered Altoids tin full of drugs at all times: aspirin, ibuprofen, sudafed, some green pill in foil that I think is an antacid or something and one lone Clonopin that I probably will never take, but its presence alone relieves my panic attacks. For years I had two Xanax in there serving the same purpose but I finally had to give them away; fortunately, before I got busted for possession of Xanax that I was afraid to actually take. Altoids tins are not hermetically sealed and are no match for the tobacco flakes and fuzz that live in the bottom of my purse, so eventually, all the pills in there begin to look the same and take on the same dusty, faintly menacing air. This morning, I was out of ibuprofen and down to a few aspirin tablets that started out life pearly white and now are a sort of unsettling gray. If your headache is bad enough, though, you don't care about the crumbling black aspirin. Hell, a bad enough headache can make you snort a Goody's powder, although I personally have not done this since high school and, while I lived through it, I don't recommend the experience. Which, come to think of it, applies to a whole hell of a lot of my high school experiences. It's probably for the best that I don't ask young M for too many details.

I have a big jar of ibuprofen in my bathroom, thanks to my mother's neighbor who, alas, seems to be succumbing to the same evil, horrible disease that's going to take Terry Pratchett away from us. She came out one day when I was over at my mom's and solemnly handed me a brown paper shopping bag full of half empty toiletries & medicine bottles. "Um, thanks?" I said, since I'm never sure what to say when elderly people you don't know all that well are handing you extremely strange gifts. "They keep leaving them around my house," she solemnly confided, "I'm sure they mean well, but I don't need these things! I thought you should have them!" Yeah. Totally. That would follow.

Turns out that I got half a big bottle of generic ibuprofen, some toothpaste and a mega jar of Ponds cold cream, slightly scooped. There may have been some other things in there but I've fortunately managed to burn that specific memory linked brain cell with an aspirin overdose or something. I haven't touched the cold cream yet and the ibuprofen, I found out this morning, is blue. Yes, blue. All other ibuprofen in the world is brick red and round, but this ibuprofen is blue and translucent and I don't believe in it. Maybe they really did leave it in her house and I mean that in the worst sense of the word they that there is, as in, you know, them.

In other news, young M tried to use the microwave at the same time as the dishwasher last night, which inevitably sends the house into hysterics that it demonstrates by promptly turning off half - and a fairly random half at that - of the electricity. We got it working again, after two candle lit (the dog ate all the flashlights, of course. Why do you even ask?) trips to the scary cellar. I got a bit upset by the whole process, including the rediscovery of the sad fate of the flashlights and after it was over, young M said to me, "That wasn't that bad. God, Mom, I bet you've done way worse things than that in your life. The way you were acting, you'd think going to the basement was a trip to Mordor or something. Geeze." Yeah, okay, kid has a point. But the basement has a lot in common with Mordor, I swear.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dog Story

theo swimming
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
This morning, like every morning (what are we going to do tonight, Brain? Same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!) I took the dogs to the park-whose-name-I-won't-disclose by the river so they could run happily leash free and I could wander along in a sleepy, sinusitis daze and occasionally take mediocre photographs. One morning, not long ago, there were geese in the river and occasionally, there are ducks. These are mornings of Great Importance to the dogs, particularly Theo, who is smart enough to notice and frantically bark at waterfowl. Django pretty much thinks everything is his friend if he even notices it at all, but mostly, he's oblivious, or, if we want to put the zen spin on it, all things, from geese to grassblades, are as one thing to him. He doesn't prioritize. Come to think of it, Django and I are not unalike; there are mornings when a squad of polar bears in full body armor flanked by herons with trumpets could pass me in the park and I wouldn't even see them.

Anyway, this morning was duck free, but there was a roughly duck sized chunk of white foam floating down the river. Chunk may be the wrong word here but you know what I mean - those lumps of foam that happen on rivers and at the beach. I don't know if they're some kind of evil scary industrial detergent pollution or the gentle to be reverenced effluvia of Mother Nature but Theo has evidently decided that they are Dangerous and Must Be Stopped, or maybe that they are ducks.

So he started barking like a complete lunatic and chasing the foam, which was moving at a pretty good clip, down the riverbank. This cracked me up. I tried to explain that the foam was not a duck, employing the same conversational English I usually use with the dogs, to wit: "Dude! Theo, man, that is SO not a duck. It's, like, foam." (I don't know why I assume my dogs are stoners and thus use the requisite language but, well, there you have it. ) Theo ignored me so I started throwing stones at the foam to break it up. It turns out my aim with a stone has deteriorated in the last 30 years or so, or, possibly, I was never all that good. I winged it once (Wung it?) but it had no effect on the foam or on Theo who at this point was in the grip of an epic obsessive madness.

Theo has never liked water. When we're out hiking he usually tries to keep his delicate collie paws dry and he complains if we even have to cross a stream. He'll wade occasionally but generally, Theo is not a big river fan. Now, Django's total obliviousness extends to water - if he notices it, he likes it and he goes dashing in. Usually, you can see Theo making faces of disdain while Django's happily splashing away. So this morning's performance was unprecedented: I've never seen Theo ever get that close to the river before and he was going nuts scrambling up and down the banks and along the shore, barking all the time.

The current swung the foam in closer to the bank and Theo, at that point hysterically barking on a log, dove in. HE SWAM. He's never swum before! He swam out to that foam and by god he BIT IT really hard and I mean with confidence and vigor, like, CLONK. The foam broke into pieces and Theo, looking slightly confused but with a general mission accomplished air, swam back. Django, who has never actually swum either, was meanwhile freaking out all over the place, unable to decide whether he should bark, run in circles, jump on Theo, jump on me, just jump or what. He settled on doing all of that simultaneously while Theo shook off and got in a last few barks in case there was more foam where that came from. It was brilliant and completely hilarious. It was slightly less brilliant 20 minutes later when I was loading two totally soaked (Django always gets totally soaked. He doesn't even have to swim. It's just one of those mysteries.) dogs into the car but the whole adventure was so awesome, I didn't even care. Theo can swim! Who knew!?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

puffball emerging

puffball emerging
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Early this morning when I was walking the dogs (and adding to this Flickr set of fog pictures - I do love me some fog) I saw some mushrooms being born. This puffball and three or four of his siblings were just coming out of the earth. It was kind of awesome; I could tell that they hadn't been there moments before and then, prompted by the fog or the morning or some mysterious mushroom signals from deep in the dirt, they were making their way up. None of them were much bigger than my thumb. The dogs squashed one, of course, but that's nature for you - drooling in tooth and squashed by paws.

I'm wearing a broken mood ring today. I guess that means I'm confused but actually I like mood rings when they break - they turn a sort of metallic green/brown color that I think is actually prettier than the more strident tones that announce to the world Hey! I'm passionate! or, more accurately, Hey! My hands are warm! Mood rings are wonderful, though and I am the proud owner, due to years of working in museums with gift shops, of many. They all turn my finger green if I wear them too long; this is the nature of mood rings. It has to be that way - they're only for training purposes. You must learn how to tell your moods apart without the ring, grasshopper, or your finger will turn green.

In other news, my head is still totally congested and I think perhaps it is time to turn to the hippies. Speak to me of this thing called a Neti Pot, oh hippies. What the hell is it, where do I get one, how much will it cost me and, please, will it work? I'm tired of the buzzing in my ears, the constant headache and we won't even go into the sad state of my nose. Sudafed isn't working anymore and even if it was, I can't buy any more for another month or something. My cold has become suspect; young M and I have done enough sudafed over the last two months to make us meth lab suspects. Although if anyone starting up a meth lab is also going to the trouble of buying cough syrup and nyquil and box upon box of kleenex, I say give them an Oscar and let them cook speed. Unfortunately, this is not how the ladies in the drugstore, to whom sudafed is second only to crack in the suspect substances department, seem to view it. I'm tired of having my driver's license scrutinized. And even more tired of having my sinuses stopped up.

Monday, December 10, 2007

project 365 #342: happy fog dogs

I've really been letting Project 365 go down the tubes and it's time for me to speak firmly to myself about it. I mean, for chrissakes, there's only 21 days left in the year: how hard can it be for me to finish it out? Apparently pretty hard - I'm even resorting to cheating, whereby this terrible picture of my so far very lame start at decorating for the holidays was actually taken Saturday night, not Sunday, but I'm counting it as Sunday's picture. Otherwise, I'd have to admit that I spent Sunday in bed with the worst hangover I've had in ages and ages.

It turns out that if you've been sick with a terrible cold for 5 days and then you get lonely and miserable and bored and fed up and decide to get your friend J to come over and drink a bunch of vodka mixed with spicy V8 juice on the theory that spicy V8 juice is good for colds and vodka is good for your (Russian, angst-filled) soul and you simultaneously, while coming up with this feat of reasoning, manage to forget that due to the cold you basically haven't eaten anything except half a peanut butter sandwich for like 48 hours, well, you will pay, my friend. Pay. Big time. Turns out that a bad enough hangover can make you forget your cold for a while, though - but I do not recommend this method of cold forgetting. Anyway, the day after the hangover the cold is right back here with me. It's just one of those lose/lose situations that you would think I would have figured out by now.

So I'm hopelessly behind on all my holiday shopping and decorating and knitting and projects and cards and, yeah, pretty much all things holiday, not to mention those nagging day to day details like cleaning the house and paying the bills. Yet somehow, I have finally achieved pure zen detachment and I don't give a flying fuck. I'm going to Charleston next weekend, y'all, and that's enough to make me happy and you know what? We'll all muddle through Christmas somehow or other even if we never even get around to putting up a tree. Christmas, like shit, happens, and I think it's all okay.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

happy birthday young M!

happy birthday miles
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
It's been 16 years since that Sunday I woke up at 6:00 am from a dream of three of my strong women friends - D and C and S - and told my then husband that the baby was coming. "What, again?" he replied tiredly and rolled over and went back to sleep. Okay, I did have kind of a lot of false labor.

Later that day, though, after the fizzy pink wine prescribed by the midwife, I did actually have a 10 pound baby boy. Now he's over 6 feet tall, skinny and handsome and, when he bothers, totally wonderful to be around. He shall not be blogged about, I know. But today is his birthday - 11 years to the day after John Lennon died! How about that, Dalai Lama?! - and so I got him some suitable gifts, as pictured here. And some money, which is all he wanted and which, combined with gifts from doting grandmothers, has created a teenager who's richer than I am. Perfect Christmas timing - I, the mother, am dropping heavy hints about a certain jet bead necklace in the window of the cool little store on Biltmore Avenue. (Actually, I would like to drop that hint in everyone's mind. 3 strands of jet beads on black chain. Should be mine. Really, it should.)

In other news, I'm still groggy from the cold and the cold medicine and I'm really getting tired of being tired. Not to gross you out or anything (severe grossness warning!) but I can't believe that any one human being could possibly produce this much mucus. I mean, jesus, what have I, cornered the world market or something? Isn't there a medium sized country out there that is finding itself suddenly mucus free? Stupid cold.

Also, I just read a Spider Robinson book, Callahan's Key and while it's frankly awful, as are all Spider Robinson books, it still made me weirdly happy. It's good to read things that are upbeat and not very taxing on the brain while you're sick. In this book, the gang from Callahan's Place (if you have read these books, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, don't bother, really, unless you like bad puns, bad writing and, oh hell, I don't know, a certain charming joie de vivre that I somehow can't resist even while I sit there thinking "Why am I reading this total dreck?") migrates to Key West. They wax enthusiastic about Key West which means, probably, that the next Callahan book will be set in Asheville. It's the inevitable progression - everyone who used to like Key West is here now, and of course, they were followed by the sharks who drove them out of there and are now doing their level best to drive us out of here. Sigh.

But today is not a day for sadness or class warfare (except inasmuch as every day is a day for class warfare, rise up, eat the rich!) no, today is the day when we pause briefly and think, holy SHIT. Fliss has a 16 year old son! She's OLD! And, oh my god, the next few years are going to be hair raising - too hair raising for such an old person. That cave in Tibet sounds better all the time.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sort of Back

I went back to work today. I feel better than I did yesterday, but that's not really saying very much. I'm still coughing and sniffling and sneezing and blowing my nose way more than any one human ever should in an average lifetime, let alone an hour. However, I went to the liquor store, spent too much money and I just finished a giant hot toddy made with Jamesons, hot water, honey and lime juice. It is giant because I made it in the Folly Beach souvenir pirate mug that until recently held pencils in young M's room - using it for drinks turns out to be the silver lining to this damn cold, since young M decided to rescue and wash it rather than go through 3 normal sized mugs of echinacea tea every two hours or so. Not, forgive me Asheville hippies, that the tea is doing shit. Although there's something to be said for just holding a warm mug, there is that.

The liquor store didn't have any of the holiday boxes of Jamesons. I buy a bottle once a year, in December, and every year I enjoy my free holiday gift of completely useless and inscrutable Jamesons brand bar utensils. Or coasters. One year they gave me coasters, in a nifty somewhat Jetsons-esque rack. This year, the liquor store man (the Asheville liquor store people are the nicest retail employees in North Carolina. Maybe they get paid very well. Or maybe they're toasted, who knows? Anyway, I love them all - they're even nice when you're frazzled, moving and just getting boxes.) said they hadn't come in yet. I thought about therefore not buying my yearly bottle yet, but caved to the cold, which was screaming for hot whiskey. Also, there was a freebie mini bottle of something that looked quite disgusting attached to the neck of the Jamesons, so hey, why not? It turns out to be, of all godawful things, some kind of honey bourbon liqueur - eww. But it was free and mini bottles are fast becoming a novelty, what with South Carolina giving them up and all. I used to always imagine a tiny gnome passed out in the gutter, hand wrapped around a half empty mini bottle, pointed hat askew, but soon that fantasy must be laid to rest. God speed, mini bottles! So I put it in my purse for emergencies, which made me feel badass. I'm not super clear on which emergencies are going to require a mini bottle of honey bourbon liqueur, but I'm confident that I'll know them when they appear.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

project 365 #338: ducks

project 365 #338: ducks
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Well, I'm really sick this time. Sick as in there's a small mountain of kleenex next to my bed; I'm sitting here at home wearing my bathrobe and momentarily I'm going to retreat to my kleenex and my bed. Sick as in I can't stop coughing or sneezing or blowing my nose and sleep is hard since my nose keeps running and I keep on having bizarre dreams that wake me up. Yesterday, I managed to walk the dogs between sneezes, which is where we saw these ducks, but then I came home and didn't make it to work or anywhere else. Today, I feel worse than yesterday. And GOD DAMN IT I was going to go to Charleston this weekend to help M move from one apartment to another and now the chances of that have become vanishingly slim. The only good thing about that is that since I haven't seen him since Thanksgiving weekend, he probably didn't catch this plague.

Sometimes I think that if you feel like you're getting sick, as I did all last week, you shouldn't even bother with the vitamins and the echinacea and stuff, because all it does is put off the inevitable bad cold. And this is the worst cold I've had in a long time. Argh. To top it off, I have nothing to read. I'm going to have to venture out; there's no other way. However. If you would like to find out what your daemon is, you can do that here: just go over to the daemons link after it loads. Mine is Clitus the Ocelot (yeah, Cletus, the slack jawed ocelot, no doubt) and it said it would send me pretty code to give you a pretty picture, but I have not gotten it, so oh well. What the hell. I wouldn't mind an ocelot daemon at all. He could go get me more kleenex.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sticky Money

My cold has gotten worse again and this has gotten horribly old. I am attempting, with limited success, to ignore it. In the interests of this ignorance, I stopped by the Westville last night to have a couple of drinks with my friend S since she is leaving for Australia today (Yowza! Good luck S! It's all very exciting!) and in the interests of my cold I decided to forgo the PBR and have, instead, a hot toddy. The bar was packed and I was standing by someone's temporarily abandoned stool to order my toddy, which came in short order: a coffee mug full to the brim of hot water, whiskey, a spoon and a large lemon slice. The giant jug of honey came next so that I could add my own. Then I got my change back and at the same time the person whose barstool I was usurping also returned and glowered at me a bit.

I am a polite soul so I hastened to take my toddy and honey and spoon and money and purse and coat and hat and scarf and whatever the fuck else I was carrying since I never seem to have my hands free no matter what down the bar or to another table altogether. Somehow or other, because I am me, during the course of all this motion I managed to get honey on pretty much everything. And everywhere. And by everything and everywhere, yes, I mean my hair and my scarf and the bar and the handle of my spoon and, worst of all, my money. My $4 change suddenly got coated with honey and even as I stuffed the sticky bills into my wallet, thereby smearing my wallet with honey and stuffed my honeyed wallet into my purse, with predictable results, I thought, oh god, I'm never going to be able to spend that $4, am I? And then S came in and laughed at my honey smeared helpless self and I decided just to leave my wallet sticky and hope that ant eaters or magic bees or something would take care of it overnight.

This morning at the post office, I fortunately got one of my favorite clerks, who recites all your options and questions in a fast monotone like this "anything-in-this-package-hazardous-inflammable-explosive-chemical-illegal , do-you-want-insurance-confirmation-registration-extra-postage-fuzzy wuzzy?" And you say, "What?" and he says, with a sly smile, "Fuzzy wuzzy?" while pointing to one of those stuffed toys the post office sells since they stopped being, you know, a federal agency and became a gifte shoppe. This is the same clerk who invited me to join him and his buddies for poker one time last summer and I love him to death since he doesn't take the post office too seriously, thank the gods. So I handed him my sticky money, without saying a thing. He started trying to count it and then looked at me sort of horrified. "Um, " I said, "It's just honey. Don't ask." and then he cracked up and I cracked up and I left and so, if you get sticky money at the Asheville Post Office as your change, that would be why.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Here it is Monday again and not only did I not even write a blog post all weekend, I totally forgot to take a picture of the day yesterday. That's the second time in three weeks I've spaced it out, which is ironic (in the purest Alanis Morrisette sense only, I know) given that the damn year is nearly over and I got this far forgetting only once before but now I cannot seem to remember to whip out the camera and take some banal picture each day. Love is bad for me - well. No, actually, love is awesome for me but it does tend to wonderfully focus my mind elsewhere than on blog and picture projects. Nowadays, I just tell M all the stuff that I used to tell my blog. Pity him. The man gets like 7 stream of consciousness emails a day.

Also, I worked all day Saturday and then went out Saturday night. This is a drag, because it means that my house is a mess and I have no holiday decorations up at all. One day weekends are tough: it's hard to fit all one's weekend lying about doing nothing needs with errands and chores so, naturally, the lying about stuff gets precedence. And the cold that never ends has come up with a new iteration: the sore throat is back, scratchier than ever and accompanied by the sniffles. This cold is getting ridiculous: we all have it and it just never, ever goes away. It never gets unbearably hideously bad, either, except for poor young M, but it never leaves. Maybe it's some kind of perpetual, endless, postmodern global warming cold and we will all feel like this forever. In that case, I demand more and stronger drugs.

I went shopping yesterday and am dismayed to report that I have spent almost half my laboriously saved Christmas money on, basically, nothing. Except yarn. I bought a bunch of yarn in the happy expectation of pretty much knitting everything anyone wants - here's your knitted ipod, kids! Knitted Wii! - without quite calculating in the time that this is going to take. Essentially, I think I need to knit 24/7 from now to Christmas and I can see that might sort of irritate my boss. Hmm. It is a conundrum.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Slow Cookers

Yesterday, I decided to use my new slow cooker yet again and not, much to young M's dismay, to make barbecue. When I had my old slow cooker, barbecue (by barbecue I mean pulled pork, in case you aren't from around here) was about all I ever made in it and it's been pretty much all I've made in the new one too. Young M loves it. Young M and his friends love it so much, in fact, that they earnestly proposed a business plan to me the other night whereby I will cook it and they will sell it by the sandwich at Asheville High School for $3 each. I'm slightly curious as to what the school would do if two sophomores showed up with a cooler and started selling sandwiches at lunch but not curious enough to give it a go; besides, school authorities can be so stuffy about that kind of thing.

Yesterday, I decided to make a kind of gumbo/red beans and rice thing because I was in the mood for some Tony Chacheres high salt seasoning and Italian sausage. I started chopping and sauteeing at 8:00 in the morning and it occurred to me that using the damn crock pot is not really different than cooking dinner any other time, except that you don't usually have to make dinner before you go to work and I'm not sure how doing it early makes it labor saving. Unless you're my mother, who wakes up at 4:00 am anyway and feels that the rest of world is all on the wrong schedule. But for me, the chronically late, this making dinner before breakfast just means that I have no time to wash my hair or put the living room cushions in the dogproof closet, uh oh.

So I dumped 4 chopped up Italian sausages and chopped up and sauteed onions and garlic and green peppers and hot peppers and carrots and celery into the crockpot, along with 4 chicken thighs that I had floured and browned and a big can of tomatoes and a couple of cans of chicken broth and a can of kidney beans and a heaping spoonful or so of Chacheres and a cup of basmati rice, set the pot to cook for 10 hours and went off (okay, yeah, late-ish) to work. When I came home it smelled divine and I was happy right up to the point where I discovered that you can't make rice in the slow cooker because it stops being rice and starts being - I'm not sure what. I don't know what the hell it is now, but it's like. . . like oatmeal, sort of. Overcooked oatmeal. Mush. Slop. Gloop with a nice coating of sausage grease. The flavor, which consists mostly of spiciness - it's damn hot, actually - is okay but the texture is offputting, to put it mildly. It's edible, barely. Like, if you were in Siberia it would be an awesome way to keep off the cold and the jailers and the wolves, but if you're not in the gulag, it's a bit depressing. I ate it anyway and told young M that I'd sunk a lot of money into it so we were going to eat it for a couple of days regardless, which prompted a stricken look and a futile appeal to my kind heart and better nature. Ha ha! Eat your glop, zek! Haven't you read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch yet?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas Cactus

Like many Americans, I own a Christmas cactus. Christmas cacti, as you may or may not know, are called that because they are supposed to bloom at Christmas. They're kind of droopy things with lots of arms and mine was happiest when it was sitting in water all the time, which I discovered by accident, but whatever. Anyway, my cactus, defiant of social norms and the tyranny imposed by its name, blooms more or less randomly all year round, or, that is, it did. Until Django ate it. Well, of course. Django has a thing for cacti. Last spring he ate all these wonderful funky cacti (do you know, while writing that I actually almost just spelled funky funki? Yeah. I did. ) that my friend C gave me for New Years about 5 years ago. They were just leaves in a manila envelope with a note on them that said, stick them in the dirt and water them occasionally and prepare to be surprised and I was, since they grew like crazy and even, in the old house, grew into, through and around the lace curtains like something out of a very slow horror movie. Django dug them up and scattered them around the yard last spring and I rescued them and stuck them back in the dirt and they thrived all summer, shooting out improbable leaves until I finally killed them stone dead by totally forgetting their existence through three days of hard freeze in October. For which I feel terrible guilt but this post is not about those cacti. This post is about the Christmas cacti.

I moved the Christmas cacti indoors in time since it lives with the 7' palm tree, which, by virtue of its being in the front of the house instead of the back, I did not forget in October. The palm tree began life with me as a 7" tall version in a group of plants given to me as a housewarming present when I first moved to Asheville and now, 7 1/2 years later, it's huge and has children. I lug it in and out of the house every winter. It's a bit stalky at the bottom, so I added the Christmas cactus, in its glass bowl of water, to the pot and this arrangement seemed to suit them both until, that is, I brought it into the house and created temptation. Django, you see, likes to dig. He feels that the only reason I could possibly have a giant pot full of dirt in the den is to allow him to dig in the comfort and warmth of the den and allow him, thus, easy access to his other favorite hobby, shredding the couch. Django is, by and large, pleased with his life. So he dug up the Christmas cactus, which was, in its inimitable, schedule free way, just getting ready to bloom like crazy. It blooms in hot pink, too and I love it when it's in flower. So I was sad. I was furious.

I yelled at the dog and took a few not totally maimed arms of cactus and stuck them in a blue champagne flute full of water and stuck that in the kitchen window next to the cutting from the plant that my zen guru therapist gave me to help me learn what right and good feels like (and that worked, too, man, I am telling you, it worked and you do know in your very bones and gut and skin and other somewhat eeky stuff when things are right and good, go figure) and pulled the curtain over the both of them (literally. Not metaphorically.) and forgot about them until last night, when I peeked.

To find the Christmas cactus fragments wildly, improbably, insanely in full bloom. Something about this story makes me happy and I hope it does you too. Because apparently you can be dug up by dogs and ignored and scuffed around on the carpet and even chewed, but, hey, given the right kind of water, you can still bloom.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

project 365 #330: morning sky

Naturally, I have caught young M's virus. This has made me miserable, since it's another of those stupid mystery viruses (virii?) where you don't have a whole lot of definable symptoms but you still feel like shit and your throat hurts and you sleep on and off all day or read bad novels about vampire killers. Not only do I feel like shit, I'm gobbling, since I have at this point in a desperate attempt to be good, eaten about 5 metric tons of leftover turkey. Apparently there was some kind of hideous family drama that I was completely oblivious to (after cooking and cleaning for 2 days, I'm sorry, but my reward, nay, my clear duty, is to get drunk and make goo-goo eyes at M and any conversations after about 6:30 pm passed me right by) about the leftovers at my house. I wish they had all gone away now: I really, really do. I don't want to eat turkey or stuffing ever again and tomorrow the dogs are getting their thanksgiving feast, thank the gods. Hopefully it won't all return on the living room carpet. Eeerp.

I've been knitting a scarf for M. He said he needed a scarf so I promptly set out to make him one, filled with that new girlfriend zeal. It turns out that young M (yeah, this nomenclature is unwieldy, to say the least, but we'll all just have to get used to it) has strong opinions on scarves and their suitability to the two genders. In other words, manly men can only wear manly scarves and the fuzzy chenille thing I'm making (I didn't have enough new girlfriend zeal to actually make it to the yarn store) doesn't cut it. "Like I should knit this out of barbed wire?" I said, "Rebar and concrete blocks?" "Plaid," said young M, "is okay. But that's it."

I asked for clarification on the male scarf versus female scarf at a small dinner party in honor of Z's birthday last night. Turns out this is a subject on which many men have opinions. Here I was hoping that M, being older than 16, wouldn't feel quite as threatened by fuzziness but I may have been wrong about that. "Square," said Z helpfully, and he shaped a vague rectangle with his hands, "You know, straight edges." Hmm. I've never been good at straight edges (of any kind) and my scarves are notoriously fickle in the width department. Also, this one is sort of striped. And definitely fuzzy. Maybe I'd better go to the yarn store and ask for the manliest yarn they have.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Post Holiday Slump

So, do you think it's bad that this morning I was still washing wine glasses from last Thursday? Thanksgiving takes enormous time, I must say. Last night I finally got the dining room more or less back to what passes for normal in my house and then I was exhausted from that and my strenuous day of lying around in bed reading YA fantasy novels and eating leftovers, so I had to reheat yet more turkey and watch all five hours of The Hogfather. Which was not as awesome as I was expecting but at least I finished a small, simple black cap and started another knitting project and what the hell, the sets and costumes were cool and the acting was British, meaning that it was good and not every single person on the screen was a paradigm of youthful fitness and beauty, which wears on me in American TV.

It was raining when I woke up today and poor young M is home sick with a terrible cough and cold. You know your teenager is not faking sick when he actually wakes you up in the night coughing and then in the morning you find cough syrup and sudafed and nyquil scattered sadly around the bathroom. Rain and colds are, however awful, appropriate for late November and here we are, another month slipped away. M went back to Charleston on Sunday morning and given both our work schedules, it may be a couple of weeks before I see him again. Rain and colds and loneliness and washing up the last wine glasses and the turkey platter at 7:30 in the morning: yes, it is November.

Friday, November 23, 2007

thanksgiving 07 b

thanksgiving 07 b
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Best Thanksgiving ever. Everything turned out great - even though the gravy was salty - and everybody had fun. And I'm not even all that hungover, which is a small miracle and a testament to the quality of the wine that A picked out.

So, I made turkey and stuffing and creamed onions, about which we said, as every year, "these are so good! We should make them more than once a year." and carrots with ginger/soy/lime/honey and broccoli with a lemon/mustard/tarragon butter and cranberry sauce and, the night before, a giant weighty loaf of potato bread and two really good pumpkin pies. M made mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and cream cheese which were amazing and eventually, as noted above and despite my older brother's cracks "Are you going to cry about the gravy again this year? That's the best part of Thanksgiving." I even made the gravy. My mother brought a wild rice casserole and a rutabaga souffle and a key lime pie that was a bit liquidy but nonetheless delicious; A brought green bean casserole and a chocolate bourbon pecan pie that is basically candy and she says nearly set her house on fire and K & J brought a winter squash chowder and a bunch of bowls to serve it in. Now the house is full of leftovers, yum, and I've been steadily munching all day.

Earlier in the day my neighbor J had come by with a desperate look on her face to borrow plates - this worked out well, since I also needed plates later, I gave her mine and then she came back over with extras for my dinner. Turned out I could have done without them, one would think, since A & D & N didn't post and they are idiots, but then it's a long drive from Bat Cave, so they're forgiven. More or less. Yet somehow, every dish in the house got dirty anyway, but M and I have been slowly working our way through it, or we were until we discovered the James Bond marathon on channel 65, a Thanksgiving tradition of which I am very, very fond.

Yes. It was awesome. Long live Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Giblets

I went to Ingles today and I went to Earthfare and I went also, all ye gods of heaven and earth help me, to the laundromat and the bulk mail processing unit and in the middle of all this fun I even cleaned my car out. A bit. At Ingles I loaded two carts with more food than the average small country consumes in a month and at Earthfare I bought a 19 pound turkey, which, I was happy to see, was available in the case by the butcher so I didn't even have to talk to anyone. Except my friend T who I ran into and who agrees with me that Earthfare, horrid as it often is, still is vastly superior to Greenlife, which always sends us both into fits of psychotic rage. Except that at Greenlife they apparently have these magic pills called Hangover Vitamins which my friend J swears by and which I am very anxious to try. I asked the hippie chicks in the herbal department at Earthfare about them and they looked at me pityingly and with a certain amount of trepidation, like I was about to whip out a paper wrapped bottle of cheap brandy or something and take a long swig. "No," they said, "We don't carry anything like that." They don't carry juniper berries, either, which means that my turkey brine is going to be juniper berry free. Somehow I suspect that this won't make even one tiny iota of difference, because I have a feeling that the whole idiotic foodie turkey brining/roasting/frying/smoking controversy is really only superstition and if you propitiate the gobbling gods, your turkey will be fine, or at least indistinguishable from every other damn turkey you've ever cooked anyway.

Only this one may not be, because this one is giblet free! I don't know why the damn thing has no giblets - maybe it lost them? - but I've never heard of such a thing. Okay, it was written on the wrapping, but of course I didn't actually read the stupid wrapping until I was lowering the turkey into the mop bucket (lined with two trash bags in the hope that the turkey will thus not taste alarmingly of Pine Sol) and pouring the juniper berry less brine over the whole thing. Usually, I take the giblets and I put them in a saucepan with some water and butter and garlic and olive oil and I keep that pot at a low simmer all day and use it to baste the turkey and then at the end I chop the giblets and put the whole pan in the roasting pan and make the gravy. I don't really know why I do this, okay, but it's what my mother always did and so I do it too. Faced with the lack of giblets, I panicked, and, naturally, called my mother.

"Oh you don't need giblets," said my mother. "Don't worry about it." Phew. I wasn't looking forward to going back to Earthfare and demanding turkey giblets from the harassed hippie butchers; I just know, on a deep level, that that would not go well. Hopefully, though, the turkey and the gravy will, and M will get here soon (even though he'll probably turn tail and run when he sees the damn mess in this house, which spent the last week being abandoned to a teenager, a 20 something, 2 crazy large dogs and a lovesick woman who's not very good at tidying up even when she's not on the phone every night for three hours) and young M will stop hovering over my shoulder asking what's for dinner or if I'll take him to Burger King. Ah the holidays. I should have bought vodka.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

project 365 #323: foggy morning trees

There were wild turkeys at the river this morning! I was so excited but alas, by the time I got out of the car they were gone, which may have been for the best, because although my evil twin really, really wanted to watch the dogs chase the turkeys, or vice versa, the saner part of me knew that that was probably a horrible idea. The dogs didn't notice them at all anyway; the dogs are not the sharpest tools in the proverbial shed.

Last night my daughter and my mother and I had a Thanksgiving summit meeting. My mother, who as we know exposes Martha Stewart for the lazy layabout trash that she is, is also the most supremely organized being in the universe. Therefore, when A & I got to her house, there were already notepads and freshly sharpened pencils at the kitchen table awaiting us. A & I made ourselves vodka tonics (my mother had her favorite tipple: Ensure and Scotch) and sat down and straightened our backs. We picked up our pencils and each of us wrote Thanksgiving on the the center of the top line of our memo pads and underlined it. Then we nearly fell over giggling while my mother, completely missing any humor in this proper situation, looked at our neat memo pads fondly.

We are organized now and ready for Thanksgiving, or, well, we will be when I actually do the stuff on my list, which I'm going to do tomorrow. It includes buying a turkey and I'm a little afraid that I won't be able to get one. I'll probably have to go be interviewed again at Earthfare; I hope I pass the test this year. Hooo boy. Thanksgiving again. Yowza. This year, the creamed onions will not explode in a shower of glass shrapnel all over the kitchen, though. And I'll remember to make the gravy and I won't pitch a big old fit in the kitchen and shout. I swear.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

folly beach and sandpipers 2

Hi. I'm back. It was the best weekend ever, except for the weekend before, which was also the best weekend ever, shortly to be followed by next weekend, which is going to be, yeah, the best weekend ever. And I'm in love. Yes, there is a new and fundamental and important and really fucking great change here at Hangover Headquarters: I have a boyfriend. For the first time in well over 7 years, y'all, I am seriously dating someone and, well, it's amazing. And he loves me back. Yeah. I know. I can't believe it either. I have turned into a puddle of rainbow colored goo. I am so happy. It feels extraordinarily right. This happiness thing is absolutely fantastic. I mean, wow.

It happened fast but I tell you what, there are times when fast is okay. For one thing, by the time you get to be my age, or M's age (his name is M. Well, I mean, not literally M like he only has an initial, but we'll call him M for now because, quite frankly, my brain is also a puddle of rainbow goo and any name I might come up with now is sort of guaranteed to embarrass both me and him later, hee) you pretty much know in the first ten minutes whether it's going to work or not. I think possibly that if you don't you may be fooling yourself, because we sure as hell knew right away or at least within the hour. And, then of course, it isn't really fast if you consider the 20 years since the last time we broke up (long story. Let's just say that the third time is a charm.) which we spent growing up and getting our shit together and our yayas out and having the world adjust itself so that we could be where we are now, which is fantastically, amazingly perfect.

This is possibly the first time in my whole life when anything has just felt so right on so many levels. There's nothing wrong with this picture: he's my age and he's employed and talented and brilliant and single and you know, so am I all of those things and, well, and. I know, I'm boring everyone, but y'all will just have to put up with some gushing for a while. Maybe forever.

the new, improved, happy felicity

Thursday, November 15, 2007

floating leaf morning

floating leaf morning
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
It's snowing outside. I'm not sure whether to do the dance of joy or the dance which expresses coldness & sorrow at the advent of winter yet joy that spring will yet come again, which is cool, since I hate that fucking dance.

I can't quite believe it's snowing, though, because I had sort of figured that snow was over now that we were all living in the future with iPhones and stuff. I was all set to be sitting around the desert sands, selling my kidneys for a metal can of water and telling my mutated grandchildren stories about how when I was a girl, water fell from the sky and sometimes even froze! Guess that's been put off another hour or two. That is the problem with global warming; it's never there when you want it to be.

In other news, I'm going to Charleston again tomorrow. Yes, and I happily anticipate a great many more trips to Charleston and also many visits to Asheville from a certain Charlestonian in the next few months. It is truly amazing, y'all, how much lives can change in a really short amount of time. Mind blowing, even. But good.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

project 365 #316: django by the river

Last night I went through a whole giant tin of old letters. It was kind of an eye opening experience, to say the least. People don't write letters anymore; they just call or sometimes they email. You can print emails out (and I have, gods help me, I have) but it's not the same as the 20 year old letters I have stored away, written in ballpoint on yellow legal pads, replete with collaged cartoons and little drawings and the word love in big, big letters. The contents of this tin made me, mostly, happy. Well. Most of it. I was kind of horrible when I was in my 20s, and to everyone who put up with me then, I apologize now. I didn't treat y'all very well on an all too frequent basis. But I swear I've changed! Mostly. Now get my coffee.

And in there, too, was a letter that I must share despite filial strictures on the mentioning of certain young men in this blog - I have corrected the spelling, but the text went as follows:

Dear Mom,
I have run away because I did bad in school and I do not want to face your wrath.
ps I took some food and let the dogs out.

Not every 9 year old in the world knows how to use the word wrath and it was nice to reread that right around now, as we're rapidly approaching that particular 9 year olds 16th birthday. He still mentions running away occasionally, although my wrath doesn't seem to faze him as much, alas. It's more my ridiculously strict rules, like "You cannot drop out of high school at age 15" that are an issue now. I am draconian; poor young M. But you know what? I can still trust him to let the dogs out.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I always vacillate between believing everything and believing nothing, depending, I guess, on the phase of the moon or the state of my pocketbook or something else more spectral and elusive that I don't even notice, like the precise amount of radon in my air at any given moment. Along with believing in everything and believing in nothing there's also that old clincher - what about fate? Do things happen for a reason, or not? Is it all just random collections of electrons and the occasional microbe or do the gods reach down from their impenetrable mountains and take an active hand in the proceedings? There are times when I believe that not only do the gods take an active hand in the world, they win money on it, as well as having nasty senses of humor and a fondness for practical jokes. I say gods, because I always sort of felt that if you were going to go to the trouble to believe in any deity at all you might as well hedge your bets and have more than one: the more the merrier. I like the idea of small, dedicated gods, like the one for small electric appliances - the Angry Toaster God, who must be propitiated.

And then, are we here for the first time? Or do we get do-overs? Usually, I believe in reincarnation, partly because everything else in the universe seems to be recycled, so why not souls and also because it cheers me to think of a thousand thousand supposed Marie Antoinettes meeting each other in the waiting room of the afterlife. And then it's such a handy excuse: you can just plan on getting things done in your next life - I, personally, have decided that I'll try the career person workaholic making money thing on next time and skip it this go round.

Sometimes, though, in all seriousness coincidences and timing and such can make you blink and step back a bit and think, holy shit, god damn, that is fucking weird, but wow. Weird, but right. Right like right is supposed to feel, even if you never knew how that was, but somehow when you feel it you know what it is. And then you think, you know, if this thing had not happened at that time I wouldn't be able to do this this time and I wouldn't get this on so many levels. Because the collection of small coincidences and synchronicities and universal oddities that make up your life can all of sudden sometimes come together and make sense, actual sense, and it's, well, amazing. And maybe a sign that somehow, somewhere, somewhen you did do something right and, well, maybe you're doing it again and still because suddenly, instead of that ongoing, seemingly endless disturbance in the Force, there's quite the opposite. And the Force moving along just right is something pretty gods damn amazing.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

project 365 #313: M at parkway overlook

My old friend M came up to spend the weekend with me. He lives in Charleston now - like me, or rather like me in the past, he seems to go back and forth between Baltimore and Charleston a lot. In fact, he's why I started going back and forth between Baltimore and Charleston back in the day (and that is a lengthy story, a story with many chapters, in fact a whole book, damn) until of course I gave up the I-95 corridor and came on up the mountain. We had a great time.

It had been about 10 years since we'd seen or even spoken with each other and 20 years since we spent any amount of significant time together and yet somehow it was great; those horrible awkward pauses where you're not sure what to talk about except possibly some more goofy memories of someone with whom you've both long since lost touch never, somehow, happened. We just talked - and talked and talked and had a great weekend. We ate, too, and drank beer and coffee and wandered around and played with the dogs and figured out how to open up the thingie that the oil goes into in my underground oil tank.

Having people up from out of town is always good for getting you to do the turista stuff you never ordinarily do: we drove way south on the parkway and hiked up to a fire tower I know and took 276 down past Cradle of Forestry and stopped at Looking Glass Falls and went to brunch at Sunny Point and at the Morning Glory in Black Mountain and had dinner at Burgermeister and did the Studio Stroll in the River District and, of course, had a couple of beers with my friend J at Broadways last night. It was a good weekend, all in all, I mean a really good weekend and I'm tired - but happy.

Friday, November 09, 2007

uninvited guest

uninvited guest
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
The Asheville Film Festival is happening this weekend and as usual, I am not going to have a damn thing to do with it. This is partly because I am a reverse snob and partly because I have to be dragged kicking and screaming to films, as opposed to movies, which I will happily attend all on my own, particularly if they feature large creatures with teeth and/or laser beams, swords and explosions. If they have all three, hell, I'll drag my kicking, screaming friends along with me. Films, alas, have a shortage of these vital movie elements and often just have people talking at great length while they stroll around. Eeeurgh. I can go for walks and talk entertainingly without paying $7 for a ticket - which cuts horribly into my weekend beer budget.

Also, I work where a lot of the Film Festival takes place and thus I am exposed to rather a lot of Film Festival People and over the years this has taken its toll. I started out college as a Theatre Major but it only took one semester before I realized that spending too much time with Theatre People was going to turn me rapidly into a Serial Killing Major, so I switched to art, where the people were just as entertainingly moody but took more and better drugs and were less dramatic about all of it.

Anyway, the Film Festival People, have, with the expected amount of High Drama, set up a Gala in the courtyard where I work and they're milling around like bees. I wandered out into the Gala wonderland to smoke a cigarette and spotted a small film star sunning himself in a centerpiece, so I took his picture. I guess even jaded me has some paparazzi in her - but man, what a great candid. I wonder if the National Enquirer would be interested?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

project 365 #310: tree reflection

Catalogue season has started and my mailbox floweth over, despite the fact that I haven't ordered anything from a catalogue in about 10 years. I even got another copy of Fingerhut, even though they've been saying that this was going to be my last issue since about, oh, 1988 or so and I've never ordered anything at all, ever, from Fingerhut. Not that I haven't wanted to, because the prospect of paying $7.99 a month for the rest of my life (and well beyond the life of the cheap electronic shit I might buy from them) fills me with glee, but I just haven't gotten around to it. That might change, though, because the current Fingerhut catalogue is peddling these totally insane all bathroom ensembles that I covet. They're so, um, fabulously weird. I mean, I can't imagine much worse - or cooler, maybe, in a very, very strange way - than coating my entire bathroom in tigers, and when they say entire bathroom, boy howdy, they mean entire bathroom. My bathroom isn't very big and what with the tiger shower curtain and the tiger trash can and the tiger toilet seat cover and the 5 piece assorted mysteriously shaped fluffy tiger bathroom rug bits set and the tiger toilet paper cozy and the tiger toilet brush and god only knows what else that goes in a bathroom and can physically have a tiger stamped on its ass, well, it would be quite something. Something that would get major, major bonus points if I could do it while M was at school, so I could hear the outraged shrieks of horror when he came home.

But the tiger thing is too expensive, so I turned to the Oriental Trading Company for kitsch I could afford, half planning to surprise my entire family with Happy Birthday Jesus pencils for Christmas (I can afford them, they're $5 for 12. You might even get one if you're lucky.) and stumbled across the fact that even the Oriental Trading Company has gotten in on the Whole Room ethos currently apparently seizing American discount outlets with horrific things they call Scene Setters which are really sort of bizarr-o world wrapping paper for rooms. Like, if you happen to have a completely empty room in your house, you can now wrap it with one of these lovely things and voila! You are decorated - horrifically. Gee, kids, I know we're too poor for a tree or even, well, furniture or piles of old rags or anything, but hey! We can have a whole room full of cold, cold faux cheer!

I bet I could go stark staring batshitinsane really quickly with a couple of Scene Setters and a bathroom full of tigers. The prospect is actually quite compelling - I love catalogues. And I am going to get the Happy Birthday Jesus pencils anyway, and quite possibly also the Nativity Scene as reenacted by holy rubber duckies. No, I'm not kidding, but I'm not going to link it either. You are going to have to look that travesty up yourself.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

project 365 #308: sunset through grubby car window

Winter is here. In honor of the sudden appearance of winter, I finally got around to that fun biannual task known as the Switching of the Closet: I took my winter clothes out of a large plastic box and hung them in my closet while putting my summer clothes into the self same large plastic box with the broken purple top and the duct tape residue around it. I was really, really hoping that I would open the box of winter clothes and discover a whole bunch of totally wonderful new clothes that I had completely forgotten (seriously, I have managed this feat some years; you have to go shopping at the clearance sales in the spring and put the winter stuff away without ever wearing it) but alas, there were my same old winter clothes, most of which, like my summer clothes, I've been wearing since approximately the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Or at least the Depression.

That would be why I had the following lengthy conversation with my closet. "Oh, hello, fashion statement from 1993. . . oh look, these pants haven't fit me since 2002. But one day I'll lose enough weight and they'll fit again! Just like these two skirts that only ever fit me on that one miraculous thin day that I bought them but I've been hoping ever since - yeah. You're going on this end of the closet. This is the thin clothes end; the end we call the Vale of Hope and Despair. Here's a dress I bought before M was born and here are the two almost completely identical long black velvet skirts that I need because. . because my lifestyle demands a constant round of ankle length black velvet? Not. Hang them up, don't ask questions. Maybe A will take one (later that day - no, no she wouldn't) and here's that fuzzy pink sweater that makes you look like a Teletubby, can't get rid of that, and meanwhile, let's put away the summer khaki skirt that you haven't worn since 2004 since you don't really like it but every year you take it out and put it away dutifully."

Yeah, it was big fun. Fortunately, I didn't have to cook because, you see, I got a completely unexpected check and, while I am theoretically saving it all for Christmas and birthdays (cue the annual lament about how having two kids whose birthdays are, respectively, two weeks before and two weeks after Christmas was a sign of horrifically bad financial planning on my end) I did go to Target and buy, among other useful things, a crockpot. To celebrate, I made pulled pork barbecue in my new crockpot. This made young M almost giddily happy and high with glee. All weekend there were teenage boys in my house, smiling around barbecue sandwiches and playing air hockey in the garage. It's completely astonishing and maybe a little scary how much barbecue teenage boys can eat. "Mom," said M earnestly, "You have to make this all the time. All the time, Mom." And I might, except I think the novelty of finding M's friends in the kitchen unexpectedly after midnight might wear off, to say nothing of the investment in buns, coleslaw and barbecue sauce.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

project 365 #305: happy dog

Alas, this is the last day of my vacation and tomorrow it's back to the mines for me. You know, when Europeans say they've been on vacation, they usually mean they've just spent a month on the coast of France, all the while steadily receiving their salaries. When, I, an American, say it, I mean I had two extra days off to do the laundry - whoot! Oh well. There are so many things to get all het up about - health care, anyone? - when it comes to the general better standard of living of your basic lucky ass European that I won't focus on vacation time (they get three TIMES what we do! It's not fair!) but instead, I will tell you what I did with mine.

When I started in on this mini vacation, I actually wrote down some goals - jesus, I'm getting more American all the time. Clean the house, was one, and take out the winter clothes and, on a more cheerful note, go hiking and make some art. And I've done more or less all of those things if you are, as I am, somewhat flexible about precise definitions. For example, I did take out my winter clothes and right now they are strewn all over my bedroom. And I made art. . well. Okay. I confess: I went to Michaels crafts (oh yeah, there was a secret go shopping goal in there as well and I'm happy to report that I totally got that one down) and bought - wait for it - a latch hook rug kit! With sunflowers on it! Yeah! Thank god I went to art school so I know I'm actually approaching it ironically because otherwise my own perilously close resemblance to a gaga gramma as I sit in my tacky rocking chair and laboriously hook bits of acrylic yarn might send me round the bend. Fuck it though, it's kind of fun, and I like trying to follow the graph, not to mention that it's going to make a fine Christmas present for my mother (poor woman. One might think she had reached the age where her children were not still handing her some uncouth hand crafted nightmare with an air of humble expectancy but, well, sucks to be her, I still am.) I already screwed the pattern up a little but I have hopes or recovering it somehow. Ha. And, I started knitting myself a simple black hat, which gave me an idea for a more complex hat which I'm going to make for pretty much everyone else I know.

The great thing about crafts as opposed to art and it may be the only real difference, is that you can do crafts, or parts of crafts, or the kind of crafts I do, while watching TV. That is why - purely for my crafts, you understand - yesterday I watched most of Beetlejuice, the second half of Jurassic Park III, Mission Impossible and Ladder 49. Of the four I think the second half of Jurassic Park III wins, mostly because Beetlejuice is already well ensconced as a classic and I can recite it anyway, Mission Impossible should really have been titled Mission Incomprehensible, because it was, and Ladder 49, which I'm glad I finally got around to seeing since it's set in Baltimore and my friend C is, I think, on the DVD version of it talking about being a Baltimore City firefighter, (she wasn't on the TV last night though) was sad at the end and awfully damn earnest the rest of the time. Jurassic Park III has no pretensions; it just has people fleeing dinosaurs and, I don't know about you, (maybe I don't know art, but I know what I like) but honey, people fleeing bloodthirsty dinosaurs is JUST what the movies was invented for.

And I did go hiking, too. On my vacation.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

old asheville mica factory window and comb thing

I got to go clamber around the old Asheville mica factory today, get mica dust all over me, see nifty old bits of abandoned machinery in suitably cavernous empty dark warehouse spaces, collect a bunch of chunks of mica and take a ton of photos. I love my job - it occasionally gives me opportunities like this one.

Meanwhile, in other, quick, news since I'm going out the door in a minute, the party at the Wedge last night was super cool with many amazing, amazing costumes. C & S & J & D and I went there and to C's warehouse and finally to the Westville, where there were also some great costumes. Big fun Halloween, yay!

And, this morning there was a cryptic note on my front door courtesy of the city of Asheville, who, in their infinite wisdom, has begun resurfacing my street by excavating all the manholes and raising them about 6" above the roadbed, just exactly at the height where they can cause maximum damage to any car. They then put cones over them and left and according to this note, we can't use the street on November 5 or 6 and I'm wondering exactly what the hell they expect me to do instead - park in another neighborhood and walk (not on the street, of course, and there are no sidewalks) back and forth? It's annoying and I wish they'd been a little more specific on the note.

Must run. This whole entry may be severely edited later since it's scary dull.