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.