Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Yellowing

I'm completely consumed by the kitchen repainting project. Yeah, you think, sure, all you need to do is slap a coat of yellow up there and you're done, right? Ha ha! That is also what I thought, innocent fellow! No, what you have to do is first get sucked into a Lowes display of faux painting techniques and then start in and then think, hey, I'm kind of doing this whole thing as an homage to my mother, who believed in yellow kitchens and also because I have a half gallon of yellow paint in the garage that was the paint my mother used in her last yellow kitchen. Then you need to start using that yellow for the insides of the cabinet doors and thus find out that your Mom's yellow and the yellow you have chosen are, like, almost exactly the same. Then you're launched and suddenly you're noticing moldings where you never did before.

And then, if you're lucky, your friend A who is a painter and a contractor will stop by and say, "Whoa, what are you doing? Painting the kitchen?" And then he might, if you are very lucky, say, "I'm bored, do you want some help? I have a ton of extra paint at home, I'll bring it over tomorrow."

Even before that I'd gone and bought some serious orange for the details and trim and then A brought cranberry red and utterly invaluable help and advice, like, you need a brush like this and you need to pull it this way and wait, wait, try it this way and you might not get paint all over the ceiling. So the painting is proceeding apace, if not quite as quickly as my mad mind had thought it might, like, hey! I can knock this out in one day! Okay, two days! Okay, maybe, alright, three. Possibly four.

The history of the kitchen in my house is that it was all white with this terrible wallpaper border of strawberries and blueberries up towards the top. Not quite at the top, because the lady who lived here before and I are of like minds when it comes to perfectionism: Fuck that! Just do it! So the border, in addition to being yellow and full of well, strawberries, wavered madly.

The strawberries, two rows of them, were sitting on a yellow background and above them was a row of blueberries, bounded also in blue. Okay. This would have all been all right, except that below the strawberries was a row of furbelows. Yes, furbelows - little sort of ruffley, drapey things like the edges of curtains, in yellow and with blue trim and shadows, descending onto my walls. The first time I looked at this house I turned to D, my real estate agent and said, "Well, those have to go."
"What?" she said, "You don't like strawberries?" Now this was ironic and, oddly enough, it turned out that all my friends said pretty much exactly the same thing. I kept saying, completely unironically "The strawberries must go. Go, and soon. I hate them." and my friends would say, "What? You don't like strawberries?"

Then A came over one day with his wife, my dear friend D, and after he'd heard me bitch about the goddamn strawberries while D and I were drinking wine on the porch, he decided to draw skull faces on the bottom row of strawberries. The strawberries looked much, much better. He came over again to a recent party and while, again, D and I were drinking wine, he started drawing eyeballs on the top row. A is a good artist and I like his work and also the strawberries now started cracking me up, so I kept them. I painted over edges and edges but I left the skull strawberries. And they're still cracking me up.

So anyway I've done nothing but paint for two days solid. The trim is orange and red and the walls are old plaster yellow and it's very bright in my kitchen and I'm completely insane and thinking of moving into stencils once and/or if I ever finish all the trim and psychedelizing the door geometrically and stuff. This is brilliantly good for me, actually, and it's all making me tired and happy, even though I am suddenly for the first time in my life battling weird insomnia.

However, meanwhile S got back from the Yukon or north something Iowa, where it was very cold and she came by for beers and Z & H came by for beers and so we all drank in my discombobulated kitchen and admired the wet paint (the dogs and Pebble have large yellow patches. Why just paint the kitchen when you can paint the animals too!?) and so, here I am, about to walk back into the kitchen and be knocked back by, wow, yellow and orange! I love it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


I am off work all this week and having one of those despised new things, a staycation. Which used to just be called being home for the week but now is apparently worthy of its own creepy name. I am cool with that, though, because I have a project: I'm going to paint the kitchen. Not only am I going to paint the kitchen, I'm going to fancily faux finish the kitchen in Tuscan something or other, which I got completely sucked into by Lowes. I'm also going to paint the little room, but that's boring and going to just be white rather than the terrible terrible blue it is now. The Tuscan thingie is going to be completely awesome, or, well, one hopes it will be completely awesome and not an unmitigated disaster. I'm also putting stickery vinyl dots all over the bathroom, which sounds ghastly but believe me, is better than the stripes and scary floral border that's there now.

It's good to have a project. I have several going and I ordered some stuff from Etsy to complete project number two, which is drawer pulls. After I finish painting the kitchen all faux Tuscan goldish yellow, I will need to paint the cabinets some other alarming color that I haven't decided on yet and then I will give them all amazingly fabulous handmade drawer pulls and lo, my kitchen will be a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Or a bilious nightmare. Whatever, at least I have something to do this week that isn't organizing and cleaning teenage wasteland and the garage, which would be no fun at all.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

We Survived

fliss in her window
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Christmas has come and gone for another year and actually it turned out to be a really nice one. Thank the gods. Santa came; there were presents under the tree and Pebble only partially unwrapped one of them. The kids got me a fabulous fancy kettle and jewelry and an iTunes gift card and I got them much wonderful stuff including bacon salt and, for M, a remote controlled tarantula. Pebble got a squeaking catnip mouse and both dogs got bones. For once, everyone really liked almost all their presents with the exception of the shiny shirt I got for A in a moment of K-Mart madness and the nice heavy shirt I got for M thinking that somehow, some way, he might wear a long sleeved shirt before his arms fall off from cold. And A got a red crockpot and a mirrored mobile and her brother gave her a beautiful pillow and a glass turtle, while M also got the coat he has been wanting which has built in speakers in the hood. We all took turns parading around the house wearing the coat and listening to the Pogues very loud, which was entertaining.

Then I made a big fancy dinner which would have been better if the risotto had actually been done at the same time as everything else - Cornish game hens, asparagus, green beans, chocolate cake - and the QOB and my brother B and D & A & R from Bat Cave came for dinner, as did Z & H.There was much merriment - enough merriment, actually, so I basically stayed in bed yesterday reading my way through my current terrible multi volume fantasy saga. Which was also nice and a good Christmas present - staying in bed all day has its perks although I'm thinking it might be getting to be time to replace my decade old futon.

This morning I took the dogs for a long hike at Bent Creek and now the week, this staycation week, looms ahead and perhaps I will finally get a whole lot of shit done. Or just stay in bed until I've finished these fucking terrible books and can take them to Downtown Books & News, which moment I am looking forward to with glee. They're awful - if I wanted to read a detailed and annoying saga of early Christianity and the fall of Charlemagne, I would do it without the thin veil of fantasy laid on top - but somehow I can't stop reading them. Oh well.

And yesterday I got a surprise present from an online friend and my metafilter secret Quonsar gift, all in one lovely swell foop from the postman who was too nice to raise his eyebrows at my Mighty Mouse pajamas. Yay Christmas and welcome, 2009, you cannot come soon enough.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Merry Y'all

Here it is Christmas Eve and I'm at work even though I don't work for Ebenezer Scrooge. Actually, being at work is just fine with me, since I'm the only person here and everyone who comes in seems to be friendly and cheerful and, biggest bonus of all, it's nice and quiet and tidy here and not one single person is going to stand in front of the refrigerator rubbing their stomach and saying "Moooooom. . . hungry, so hungry." I'm on vacation for a week, actually, beginning tomorrow and I foresee that there will be a lot of that going on, since I came to my financial senses and realized that I couldn't possibly afford to rent a house at the beach for a week. Alas. That's okay; I bought a lottery ticket at BJs yesterday and soon I will be a bazillionaire, which will totally solve all my problems. No, honestly, it will. I have to win, because I got confused about the rules again and ended up spending $8 on the ticket, which I believe gives me several chances, or maybe not. BJs has hauled in an older relative to help out and his English is about as good as my Hindustani, so we may never know. Also he glowers and I didn't want to try to wade through both the language and the glowering barrier for something as dumb as a lottery ticket. I only buy maybe two a year, so I'm never up on how to do it properly.

I tried to put on my Christmas sweater this morning (why yes, I do own a Christmas sweater, a frighteningly tasteful sort of homemade looking Christmas sweater that I didn't even realize was a Christmas sweater when my mother first gave it to me - until my brother said, "Is that a Christmas sweater? That's a Christmas sweater! You're wearing a Christmas sweater!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!) but it's actually even uglier than I remember it and I couldn't, at the end, wear the damn thing. So I'm wearing bling instead - shiny green bracelet, shiny necklace, shirt with sort of shiny stuff - and hoping it's seasonal enough to do. I'm not wearing a fucking Santa hat; the only people you see wearing those are construction workers, crackheads and terrifying suburban soccer moms. I am none of those things nor even a crack smoking suburban construction working Mom (although that has some promise); therefore, no Santa hat. I did, however, purchase a set of antlers which I've been trying to get the dogs to wear with no success. I will persevere, however, persevere like hell because I also purchased my annual bottle of Jamesons and some eggnog even though it has high fructose corn syrup in it. Sealtest, I'm looking at you. Is nothing sacred?

Hopefully everybody will like their presents because I am done shopping and I am going to go home and wrap things. It's tougher as the kids get older - they still want presents but they also want cash and everything they want costs like a month's salary anyway. As my friend N used to say, when they're babies you can spend $100 and get almost 100 big presents under the tree; when they're teenagers you can spend $100 and get one teeny box. Which they will bitch about anyway. Ah well. Yesterday I saw a guy on a scooter wearing a full face skull mask and a mirrored helmet. If he'd been wearing a Santa suit my holiday would have been complete. Merry merry, y'all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Eight Degrees of What

It was eight degrees fahrenheit this morning when I woke up after a long and troubled night that involved me tossing around worrying about the QOB in the windstorm which was followed by an unpleasant altercation with He Who Shall Not Be Blogged About at 3 in the morning which is not what I consider a great time for visitors but which to he and his friends, who are all, apparently, vampires, is like happy hour. That led to me clawing through my bedroom drawers for a klonopin, since I couldn't remember where I'd hidden them the last time I cleverly hid them and really, there's nothing that makes you feel more like the starring character in Mother's Little Helper than desperately searching for drugs at 3 am when you're over 40. Still, drugs are good: I took half a klonopin in the wee hours and made it to the vet this morning so Pebble could get her stitches out, went by and saw the QOB, who weathered the winds just fine and was cranky anyways and got my sorry ass to work, so, well, all good. I'm still all depressed though, although it's nice to be home with an eggnog and the dogs and Pebble and, I think, HWSNBBA, although all I've gotten so far is an acknowledging grunt from the depths of Teenage Wasteland in the basement. He needs to go shopping, too. Shopping will be so fun two days before Christmas in the single digit cold!

And really, what is up with this eight degrees shit? When did we move to the Yukon? This is not helping my mood one iota although it did give me an excuse to wear the purple argyle tights I found at some nameless big box store during one of these horrible seasonal shopping expeditions. Sure, they were made by politically imprisoned starving orphaned eight year olds, but they're purple, and argyle and much too young for me and, which is more to the point, warm. Also they make me smile, slightly.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


cloud and electricity
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
The QOB seems to be very happy to be in her house. All the shades are down and it's about 80 degrees in there, which would send me right round the bend in short order, but oh well. Meanwhile, M and I have successfully moved the computer into what was her room and what will now be the study / crafts / studio / guest room, which is kind of asking a lot of an approximately 10' x 10' room that's painted an unfortunate shade of blue. I want to put a table in here but I may be insane. Also, it's directly across from my bedroom, which is going to make me unhappy on those nights when M, at 3 am, feels compelled to yell "Fucking MOVE" at the other people playing Zombie Counterstrike. However, it's no longer in front of the window that got blazing morning sun, which was a good idea in theory and not so much in practice.

Anyway, I'm currently torn by various doubts. My brother stopped by and of course, both of us at various times last night woke up terrified and thinking we should rush over to the QOB's to make sure she was okay. But we didn't and she is okay, so I'm trying to just step back from that particular doubt and let what happens, happen. It's the other two doubts that are getting me, therefore, I shall share them with you, semi anonymous internet and see what you think.

1. Should I go get a big fishtank for the QOB for Christmas? I went and talked with the nice people at the fancy fish store today and sheesh, this is more complicated than filling up a bowl with water and dumping a couple fish in. It's also a LOT of money and then what if she doesn't like it? You never know what she will like and not like. She likes to paint fish and she likes to sit and watch things move about slowly, so you'd think it would be win/win but on the other hand she is, as I eventually figured out, squicked out by lizards and bugs and always liable to take completely against things. Then I'd be out like $200 bucks and have to have a fishtank myself, which would not be tragic, exactly, but would be a big old pain. Also, I have to work on Christmas Eve, which will make getting her out of her house and setting up a fishtank secretly a bit problematic. Hmmm. But, if I don't do the fish, WTF do I do?

2. I'm thinking about renting a house on Folly Beach for the week after Christmas and just going down to walk along the sand and look at porpoises and let the dogs run in and out of the tide. The dogs have never ever been to the beach. I need salt water and salt air but at the same time, argh, money and can I even find a house and who will take care of Pebble and keep an eye on the QOB and it's not like there aren't 10000 things here in Asheville that could benefit from my attention. So I am torn there as well. And also, sheesh, can't I find anywhere else to go than Charleston? Yes it would be fun to see some of my friends who are there but at the same time, perhaps I should think about going somewhere new and different for a change? Hmmmm.

And those are my dilemmas, along with the burning question of whether that table will fit in here or not and whether I should try to have Christmas dinner in the living room on a borrowed table or what. At least the menu is settled: Cornish game hens, risotto, asparagus. That will work.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

resting on air

resting on air
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Here are the stilt houses, seen from beneath. Freaky, no? I drive by these things every day and they never fail to wig me out. Just last night, though, I realized one of the central issues I have with them (besides the way they would kick my acrophobia into high gear, they way they must rattle and shake when a train goes by underneath, the fact that they have no yards and float in the air unsteadily and the way that a single lunatic with a serious hack saw, not to mention Mother Nature's little cousin Mud Slide, could bring them down) is that there are no pipes underneath them. No pipes = no drains. Where are the drains? Are the stilt house dwellers such rarefied and airy creatures that they do not shit? Don't do dishes? Don't brush their teeth as their cats leap to the sink to watch the water going down? Or what? Where do the drains go? The only solution I can come up with is that they run horizontally through the concrete slabs that form the airborne driveways. That's going to be super fun if when they get clogged up. Yeah. Super fun.

The QOB is dying to get into one of these houses and look around and so, frankly, am I. This will be slightly more difficult, logistically, because, and hold onto your hats, boys and girls, the QOB has moved out. She is living in her very own house, alone (eep) about five blocks away from me. Yeah, I know - it scares the hell out of me too but she would not give up, would not admit that she might need help, angrily refused help and in the way of water wearing away stone and all that stuff I finally gave in and said, okay, go and live alone then.

She's not all that alone - C is with her five days a week for four hours a day, I'm over there at least once a day, my brother's over there once a day and I'm hoping to have workmen and my friend A and so on in and out of there regularly as well, not to mention the physical therapists and speech therapists and occupational therapists and social workers that will be buzzing around as well. Hopefully that will be enough. L the really nice social worker said, look, she is legally an adult, even if you do hold power of attorney and etc., and yes, she is the single stubbornest person any of us have ever met and yes, she does need a lot of help and is refusing it and, well, sometimes all you can do is your best and then back away a bit. So I am doing that with my fingers crossed and the guilty but somehow relieved knowledge that I can start cooking things that you have to chew again now and keep the bathroom light off at night.

A and I moved the last of her stuff over to her house this afternoon and set everything up. C had gotten the phone connected and the cable going and then my brother B went over and programmed the phone so all she has to do is hit one number to reach me or my brother or A and I'm going to glue our pictures on the phone so she won't even have to read, which can be hard for her sometimes. She's been doing a bit better lately, although as always she kind of comes and goes, and I have hopes. I'm also planning (shhh) to buy her a big fishtank for Christmas. Does she want this? I have no idea but based on her fondness for the Relaxation Station when she was in the hospital, well, she's getting the organic version. I'm looking forward, actually, to hearing her complain about it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Money For Nothin'

cloudy sunrise
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
and the chicks for free. Defective yeti scores again.

In other economic news, I'm thinking we can't afford to eat meat anymore. Every time I go to the grocery store I get all freaked out at spending like $8 on a package of chicken breasts - and these aren't even the free range organically fed happy chickens, either, these are the fowl equivalents of child slaves chained to looms making rugs in Pakistan. The only problem with not eating meat anymore (besides the horror and woe that will cross the face of He Who Shall Not Be Blogged About) is that vegetables are about as expensive now. Lemons are almost a dollar each. A dollar per lemon. That's going to cut seriously into the summer lemonade stand trade, not to mention a vast variety of drinks.

It is a little scary, heading into a depression. Okay, it's a lot scary. Previous recessions have never bothered me much but then I never before had anything to lose. Now, as I deal with this whole insane and apparently endless house saga (you don't want to know. No, I don't actually really own the damn thing yet. Yes, I still want to. Yes, because of the speed or lack thereof of this process, I may end up taking a really huge and horrible tax hit. Argh!) I'm realizing that I might eventually end up owning something. That I could lose. This is highly worrisome, although I do feel that at least my house is fairly defensible in case of zombies or marauding hordes looking for gasoline and water or whatever else gets scarce during the end of the world as we know it. This theory may even have already been tested: the other day I went out on the back porch and there was a pair of binoculars and a Japanese sword sitting on the bench. I didn't want to ask.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And More Holiday News

django swimming
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I totally forgot to blog about the various Dirty Santa parties I have been attending. No, not Dirty Santa like that - these parties were nice and all but they weren't that exciting. Thank god. I did go out on a couple of internet dates one time with a guy who kind of looked like a young Santa Claus and while he was nice and all, I couldn't get past the picture in my head of the red suit. There are some people you just don't want to see naked. Hell, there are some people you're tempted to pay good money to in order to ensure that you will never have to see them naked and alas, when that subset intersects with the dating subset, as it inevitably will in this era of virtual everything, it's pretty much depressing for everyone involved.

Anyway, Dirty Santa is a game; in fact, it is one of those games that pretty much everyone else in the world has long since heard of and participated in as you too can discover by googling the term. What you get when you google is actually a long list of websites offering directions in varying degrees of total confusingness, so that after the first time I googled it and looked at a couple of sites I was completely unable to make heads or tails of any of the rules and decided that somebody else would simply have to tell me what to do. I did manage to figure out that you had to bring a wrapped gift that was worth up to or roughly around a certain amount of money. That was all I got, but I was not worried, figuring I would rely on A, who had of course played it, because A knows everything there is to know about group games and holiday rituals and, well, everything. And, as it turned out, it all worked fine - thanks, A!

What happens is that you bring your wrapped gift - and if you're me you get all freaked out about the purchase of said gift, because it has to be a gift that anyone attending might want yet it can't be cash or a gift card or something desirable like that because that would be cheating. Therefore you end up wandering around downtown in the rain trying to buy something that's beautiful and local and amazing and cheap and will make people go WOW and yet isn't something you could make yourself if you had infinite time and a workshop and more talent and all and then, utterly depressed, you end up buying some kind of hippie Indian shit from the head shop on the theory that, fuck it, it's Asheville. Then, again if you're me, you will also wrap up a white elephant out of the garage in a fit of last minute nerves.

ANYWAY, you wrap your crummy gift exquisitely and take that gift to the party and then everyone draws numbers and the first person gets to select a gift and open it and then the next person can either open a wrapped gift or steal the unwrapped one and so on down the line. It's actually much less confusing and much more fun than it sounds, particularly if you have enough presents for Round Two of sort of lesser but still great presents later on when everyone is kind of liquored up and less inhibited. That's how I got the Tom Jones album with the picture of him with his shirt open that looks pretty much like he has iron filings stuck all over his chest.

The first DS party was held at S' house and attended by the usual suspects, which is to say, J & K, H & Z, me, S, A, J and C. The hands down winner present, contributed by S, was a toy guitar that came complete with a baffling purple wiglet (it sort of makes the wearer look like a really psychedelic Hasidic Jew) and which got stolen no less than three times. I ended up with a bamboo cutting board and a mousepad which I desperately needed and, oddly enough, by the time we were all done, everybody had pretty much exactly what they wanted and it was totally fun. We did the same thing for work, only with less people and at Mela for lunch and it was also fun, although quieter.

So I thoroughly approve of this Dirty Santa business even if I didn't get to do the horizontal macarena with a bearded guy in a red suit. I even approve of it although - or because - I didn't, thus, end up spending way too much time and/or money frantically trying to make and/or buy amazing presents for all my amazing friends. Therefore, I heartily recommend the whole thing and if you want to know how to play, you can just google it. Or ask A.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

And So On

Pebble thinks that the Christmas tree is the best cat toy ever. That would be why there are ornaments scattered all over the floor under it and in unlikely places, like the bottom of the stairs. Fortunately or unfortunately, I'm giving up on breakable ornaments: a decision that was mostly made for me anyway by the last two moves. Now Pebble is helping out. She's surprisingly adept at getting ornaments off the tree, I must say. Maybe she does have thumbs. There goes a tiny wooden Ukrainian egg, right now. Thump thump! It turns out that the gentle tinkle of a treasured glass ball breaking is almost the same sound as the gentle tinkle of approximately $30 worth of propane heating up the hot water in the walls and hitting the baseboard registers, too, so you don't actually know what's happening unless you're dumb enough to walk through the house barefoot. Ah seasonal joy.

But the tree is not alone in losing its glory. This house apparently has a big population of Borrowers or minor demons living in it. Stuff gets moved around and disappears at an uncanny rate. Part of this is the QOB, who has a tendency to wander around picking things up and putting them in places she finds more aesthetically pleasing or something. She also gets worried; she was concerned about the couple of stray pieces of real silver that had found their way into my eclectic collection of stainless forks and spoons harvested from the Goodwills of several states. "Silver disappears," she said darkly, "Even though you think it won't."
"Okay," I said, not worrying about it particularly because I sort of feel that if one of my visitors needs the approximate $1.27 that s/he'd get for a teaspoon that badly, well.
So she hid it for me. I know this because I discovered my spoons and an ornately ugly Victorian butter knife under a plant. Now if I could just find my good Sabatier knife, two pairs of scissors, the blue hammer and the ten or so glasses that have completely vanished, I'd be happy.

Django has his own opinions on decorating too and is bound and determined to create the perfect dog environment in the back yard. He's doing this by redistributing the recycling around in the dirt, burying dog toys, digging holes and creating muddy paths from one end of the yard to the other. It's quite beautiful out there to his way of thinking and I'm sure the neighbors love me even more now. Good thing they can't see the porch, which the dogs have lovingly decorated by shredding the old sleeping bag that was supposed to be keeping them warm and my environmentally conscious green bamboo rug, or the tar and feathers would be on their way.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Somehow or other, I got myself roped into not one, not two, but three semi anonymous gift exchange dealies: one at work, one on the internet and one with my friends. So bless me, oh saints, for I have been lo to Target and to the Brevard Rd. K-Mart and the one thing I thought I would get for the friendly exchange, the one thing that was in my mind that would cost around 20 bucks and everyone would want, is not to be found. So now I need to come up with a whole new concept and fast, since this damn thing has to be purchased and wrapped by like 6ish tomorrow and I have to work all day tomorrow. Eeesh. Plus, every time I go to K-Mart I end up buying stuff I shouldn't really need, but do, like socks. I wouldn't need socks if someone who I'm not supposed to blog about didn't seem to think of them as disposable, grumble, grumble, and then the dogs eat them too.

And then I get driven to buy weird stuff for the kids for Christmas despite the fact that all they want is money and every pointless object I purchase for them takes away from the money I could be giving them. But while they say that all they want is money, they, or, well, A, come over all sad when I point out that frankly, they're too old for stockings. I mean, come on, the child is in her mid twenties and the other child is 17 as of Monday. That is too old for a stocking and I need to take a stand on that, which probably would include not having just bought a bunch of stocking stuffer type stuff because I simply can't resist it. I'm right there on that willpower thing, as usual.

Oh and if anyone wants to get me anything? Target has a light up pink flamingo (that was rather an amusing typo: it originally said a flaming lawn ornament, not flamingo. Flaming would be very good indeed.) holiday lawn ornament and, even better, K-Mart has a light up green frog holiday lawn ornament. Yes! A frog with a disgruntled face and a Santa hat! It's totally non-linear and makes no sense and I covet it.

In other news, the QOB's giant desk arrived today from New York and with it came a whole bunch of her paintings, including some really old ones that she had completely forgotten and they are all awesome. I think we need to hire some art students to make a bunch of stretchers and have a show. In art news, y'all, get this: in my mailbox today was a gift certificate from True Blue Art Supplies. A big one and I am all overcome and stuff. They sent me this because they like this blog and, well, wow. They are AWESOME PEOPLE and y'all need to go buy all your Solstice gifts (I actually overheard a mother saying to her son today "Well, is is something you might want for Solstice?" and yet again I remembered that I love Asheville) there, pronto. TRUE BLUE ART SUPPLIES ARE THE BEST ART SUPPLIES SOUTH OF PEARL PAINT ON CANAL STREET AND THAT IS THE TOTAL AND ABSOLUTE TRUTH.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Stop the Presses: I Don't Have Cancer

tangle and sky
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
As we recall, a week or so ago, our intrepid heroine had her annual mammogram. The part that nobody told you was that a couple of days later, the imaging place called and said, hey, you need to come back on Tuesday at 2:30 for more tests: there's something suspicious on your right breast.


Statistically, this happens to almost everybody and also statistically it's 85% likely to be nothing and yadda, yadda, yadda - five days of intensive googling will tell you all this and yet I was still scared shitless. I also didn't want to tell anybody because, jesus, after the year I've had, I figured that if my luck was holding, I almost certainly had breast cancer, or, hey, given my luck, alien babies spawning in my chest or something. Therefore, talking about it would just cause too much trauma to my friends and readers, like, oh god, here comes that woman with the dark raining cloud over her head again, quick, cross the street before she sees us, she's just a walking avatar of darkness, misery and all the ills that flesh is heir to. I mean it's like the ambulance arriving two weeks after we moved in: straight and immediate highway to the side of the Doomed, Desperate and Depressing. Plus, I didn't want to jinx anything. So I held my tongue.

But I thought about it, oh yes I did. It kept cropping up in the middle of the night, funnily enough. And finally I told my friend D, who is a breast cancer survivor and my daughter because I thought to myself that if my mother hadn't told me something like that I would have been furious and my brother in case I found out I was about to die in which case he would have to take over the QOB. They were all reassuring, particularly D, who asked a lot of intelligent questions and then told me I would probably be fine and also told me what the next steps would be and stuff like that.

Today I went in and they gave me a second mammogram. Now, for those of you who've never had a mammogram, this is what happens. You go in and take off all your clothes from the waist up and put on a rather attractive fuchsia wrap top half gown kind of thing and then, clutching all your clothes and your coat and purse and whatever, you sit in a waiting room with a lot of other ladies in matching fuchsia tops. They call you in to a small room where there is a large machine with a flat metal plate sticking out from it and then you take off your top and the nice attendant gets you to step right up to the plate and she adjusts it so it's right under your boob (they do one at a time.) I make their lives difficult because I'm so tall and they have to crank the plate up extra high and then they have to reach to grab my boob and scrunch it around until it's in the right place. Then they lower a plexiglass plate (the whole thing is kind of like a dried flower press) onto your boob until it is, basically, flat, or as flat as it can be. Then they take an X-ray type picture and then you step back and they turn the metal plate 90 degrees and do the same thing, only this time your boob gets smooshed sideways instead of flat, which makes it look really interesting and, if you are me, you will be surprised at how much boob you actually have since you have never thought of yourself as having much at all in the way of breastage.

When they called me they said I'd have to have a sonogram kind of thing but instead they gave me a second mammogram which was exactly like the first one except with a much more reassuring lady who kept telling me how common it was to be called back and not to worry and stuff. That was nice but pointless because by the time 2:30 rolled around this afternoon I had basically resigned myself to death and/or paying off giant medical bills for the rest of my life, whichever is worse. I had moved on to wondering how the kids would divide up my meager estate but as it turned out, there is nothing wrong with my breasts. Hear that, potential and past suitors? Nothing wrong. Apparently it's just one of those aging things, whereby the dense tissue in your tits turns over the years to fatty tissue. I have seen this process at work all over my body, god knows, so it's hardly surprising that it's happening in my cleavage as well.

And I am so relieved, so unbelievably relieved that I feel actually physically a bit lighter. I guess I'm not quite ready to shuffle off this mortal coil after all.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Holiday Spirit

You'd think I had some holiday spirit after all - my tree is up and there are even lights outdoors and Frosty, bless his ancient plastic heart, is shining away out in the yard, although somehow over the past year he's gone emo and there's a freaky black tear trailing from his left eye. Well, I know how he feels, so that's all appropriate and everything.

Getting the tree was awesomely easy. Yesterday, A and I went over to the East West Asheville art walk to see our friend J who is a potter and had some stuff on sale at another ceramicists studio. We ran into everybody there and A bought a couple of Christmas gifts and I nobly stopped myself from buying myself a metal owl and then I stopped myself from buying myself fantastic coffee cups and then we went outside and LO, there were about 30 Santas milling around. Not only that, which was awesome in and of itself - I love my neighborhood - but this large brown bus, which lives up the road from me and about which I have been intensely curious (M said darkly that it was a stripper bus and they drove around with strippers on it, which I also found totally fascinating and wanted to see really badly - I have a warped mind and I immediately wanted to know how the strippers stayed upright as the bus was driving and also, that would have to be illegal, so what if the cops started chasing them and then the bus driver was like, "You'll never catch me, John Law!" and started hauling ass and careening around the corners while the strippers clung on to their poles for dear life and there was lots of screaming and, yes, clearly there's tremendous potential here) was parked across the street with the rubber chicken throwing art machine mounted on it. I know the rubber chicken throwing machine of old and now I have discovered that the rubber chicken people live in my new neighborhood. Therefore I rushed over to them and babbled and took pictures and came way too close to saying something like "Will you be my new friends?"

They said that the machine had been modified to throw fruitcakes for Christmas and that they were all part of SantaCon and then we went over to the Admiral parking lot and took more pictures and met A's neighbor H, who was also wearing a Santa costume, like everyone. I felt underdressed big time. H was handing out goodies, peppermint patties for the nice and condoms for the naughty and alas, I just got a peppermint patty. Figures. Sigh. However, next year, by hook or by crook or by Rudolf's red nose, I am totally joining SantaCon. That looked like way too much fun and I could wear my Christmas Witch hat for some purpose at last.

So that got me fired up for the holidays a bit and also I noticed that the place next to the Admiral, which has been, over the years, sequentially and also at the same time, depending, a car repair shop, a video arcade, a fruit & veg market, a barbecue stand and a really freaky sort of funky church with giant black velvet elvis jesus paintings and tiki torches is currently being a Christmas tree stand and garage. A and I went over there today and bought a wonderful tree in about five minutes flat. Really, it was the most painless tree shopping experience ever.

"Where do you think these trees came from, though?" asked A. I mean they were really nice trees, not those kind of dried up attack trees that you usually find in sort of sketchy roadside stands.
"Jamaica," I said, "Judging by his accent."
"No," she said, "seriously, do you think maybe they're stolen? Or they just went out to Pisgah Forest and cut them?"
"I don't know," I said, "and furthermore, I don't care. They're always telling you to buy local and you just don't get much more local than this; we could practically walk this thing home. So if it's local and stolen, well hell, whatever."
A laughed. "Yeah," she said, "We reduced our carbon footprint all right!"

And now my house smells like pine and chocolate, because I'm making double chocolate cream cheese brownies for M's birthday, which is tomorrow. Maybe there is a point to December after all.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Fridays and counting

Here it is December already and I should be thinking about Christmas but alas, all I can do is yell at the radio in the car when it plays some horrific jazzed up big band version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I hate that song anyway because it makes Santa sound like a creepy stalker guy with possible serial killer tendencies: he knows when you are sleeping, the better to leave dead crows on the foot of your bed and he knows when you're awake, so he can tap on the window a lot and cut the phone lines. Adding a bunch of trumpets is not making it better. That's part of my Christmas spirit: mine the perimeter for possible reindeer incursions. Well, that and drool over the Sephora catalog (I don't wear makeup, but I like to buy it. Go figure.) and brood about what a pain in the ass it's going to be to put up Christmas lights. I have no holiday spirit. All I have is cookie spirit.

I've done one of my usual contrary things and to celebrate this festive season I've decided to quit drinking for a while. So far it's been 8 days and surprisingly easy: yes, the evenings take longer to go by but no, I don't miss waking up bleary and besides, it seems to have cut down on the hot flashes some. There are a variety of reasons I'm doing this but high among them is the desire to lose weight. I lost weight during my fall trauma but apparently it was only mislaid, not actually lost and it's sneaking its way right back onto my middle now that I'm not starving myself and constantly pacing in circles moaning.This will not do. I just got a pair of kick ass black velvet pants and they look amazing right now. Add a couple of pounds and they will only look sad. Sad is not what I am aiming for during the few hours of the day that I can actually be bothered to wear something besides sweats and fuzzy leopard print slippers, so these pounds must be stopped. Granted, my dressed time is generally spent in my bunker office or the car, so I might as well keep the sweats on, but let's all pretend that I have something resembling a glamorous execu-chick life.

According to this nifty little calculator, the amount I usually drink is equal to a scary amount of junk food and jaffa cakes, whatever they are. Since I clearly then had a choice to stop either eating or drinking, I cut out the alcohol entirely - yeah, I know, that's not like me but these things happen. I have a sneaking feeling that it would work better if I didn't then have a tendency to think to myself, "Hey, I am not drinking! Therefore, I am completely entitled to make and eat a huge loaf of banana apricot chocolate chip bread plus giant cookies at work and I will lose weight anyway!" I suspect this is not going to work out all that well but at any rate I won't be able to blame all my stupid decisions and mind bogglingly dumb comments on beer anymore, so there's something to be said for that. I guess.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sentience and Other Disconnected Stuff

To start off sort of semi serious, I've been looking for blogs on eldercare and dealing with people with dementia and I'm not finding any. If you know of any, please email me them, or, well, a grammatical version of that. It seems like there's this huge mommyblog community and a huge community of adoption blogs and pretty much a community for everything under the sun out there on these wild and woolly (that community is one I don't want to join) internets but I'm not finding much in the way of communities of people caring for their older relatives. And I could use one. It strikes me that I should probably therefore start an eldercare themed blog of my own but unfortunately I a) already have a blog and experience has shown me that one is enough and b) while it doesn't bother me much to blog about the foibles of my children, despite their loud and horrified protests, I'm weirdly more uncomfortable doing it about my older relative. Plus my brothers would kill me. Anyway. That is a plea, of sorts, so make of it what you will.

In other, less serious, news I've now had an iPod for like three months and I am here to tell you that at least on my iPod, random shuffle is NOT random at all. My iPod is completely sentient or at least as sentient as Pebble and it knows what it likes and doesn't like. It loves the Ramones and Nancy Griffith and it hates Modest Mouse, although it will play them apologetically every time I threaten to shoot it for playing too much Ramones. Before I had an iPod, by the way, I didn't know there was such a thing as too much Ramones but alas, I think there is. It also likes Bonnie Raitt a lot and I'm sorry to report that there is also definitely such a thing as too much Bonnie Raitt. Do not come talking to me of mathematical formulae and how things really are random and this is all in the realm of coincidence, either, oh you my skeptical scientific friends, because this is way outside the probability matrix, as in it's like if I was throwing a quarter up in the air until my thumbs fell off and it came down 83% tails. 83% Ramones, I swear it, and no, they do not make up 83% of my collection. There's just as much Modest Mouse on there and it only ever plays when I threaten violence or get all depressed and beg.

On to the realm of bad movies! A and I watched a corker last night, to wit: The Seeker: The Dark is Rising. Now, I've read every single one of the Susan Cooper books on which that movie is based but hey, I'm not one of those people. Yes, I did give a brief parking lot dissertation on the unfortunate characterization of Saruman, the missing bits of the Ents and so on but really, I'm okay with good movie adaptations of books I love. I actually like the Lord of the Rings a lot and I love The Witches of Eastwick despite the fact that it has nothing in common with the book (which I also love) except the title. But this movie is so bad, so horrific, that the title should be removed. It's that atrocious. It's so bad that it's actually kind of good. I have made a list of some salient points, naturally, there are spoilers, if you care, and you shouldn't really, because it's that bad.

1. Why would you take a book that's completely set in England with all English people in some amorphous middle part of the century like the 60s and suddenly make it 2007 complete with cell phones that play no part in the plot and populate it with an unlikely American family (richest damn physics professor I ever saw) featuring a kid who cannot act and looks nothing like the people who are purported to be his family? Also, the flickering accents gave me a headache. Make up your minds, people. One or the other. You can't be both.

2. Please, oh god, discover the tripod. Steadicam! That's probably what the kid was yelling in the snake scene. Either that or LIGHTS! Just turning off the lights and shooting everything in the dark with a wildly wobbling camera does not make it scary, art or disguise a really small special effects budget. We know you only had three snakes.

3. Missing twin trope! Missing twin nobody ever told him about in a family of 6 kids who you might think would have noticed the missing twin! Heeee!

4. Ice attack! Water attack! Disgruntled crow attack! Photoshopped black fog attack! What's next, Pikachu?

5. It would take 15 seconds for any five year old to figure out that chick is an Evil Witch. Seriously. Maybe 10 seconds. Making like nobody gets it is insulting.

6. It's the mom from 6 Feet Under with a fake British accent and John Lennon shades! Eeeeeeargh! Just as neurotic and not as well dressed!

7. You've really grown as a person and I'm proud of you. Bwahahaha! Afterschool special dialogue! Particularly unconvincing when uttered by someone who can actually act, just isn't bothering.

8. A kid who's been raised by snowglobes is unlikely to end up particularly well adjusted. But if they put that in the sequel I will go see it.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Belated Leftovers

A's roommates didn't eat all the Thanksgiving leftovers after all. I went over there on Sunday and picked up quite a lot of turkey and other trimmings and we've been eating turkey sandwiches, which are, as we all know, the point of Thanksgiving anyway, ever since. We might be eating turkey tetrazzini tonight, too, if by some slim chance when I get home there is still turkey. Which there probably won't be, given that everyone in the house is fond of turkey.

Pebble seems to be out of heat - she's resumed just her normal annoying behavior, not her supercharged ultra annoying behavior - and she's going to the vet on Thursday morning for an operation. Yay. She's already small and a little plump; no doubt after the spaying she'll still be small and way plumper, like a tiny little Siamese themed throw pillow with legs.

Anyway, I have no other news. I'm in something of a post Thanksgiving funk, I think, and I've gone on a full social retreat in which I see no one but my family and, with any luck, I manage to hardly see even them. I am holed up in my room or the horrible laundromat with ginormously thick and not all that good fantasy novels and I'm perfectly happy that way.

I've been thinking that what I really want to do is go on a real retreat - you know, the kind where you go to a monastery or something and stay in a cell and there's total silence and you get to work in the vineyard and have these amazing meals and then a brief spiritual experience and then you go home and write it up for Conde Nast Traveler. Unfortunately I doubt I can afford that - I wonder if there are any cheap silent retreat places in Candler, like behind somebody's garden shed?

Oh and I had a mammogram yesterday, big exciting afternoon, and the mammogram lady kept calling me Sister while she was mushing my boobs all around on the plexiglass plate. It struck me, as it does every year or so when I give in to my gyno's suggestion that I have one of the damn things, that being a professional boob squasher is right up there in the list of the world's weirdest jobs. I mean, really, that's what she does all day long - and she's very good at it too, and they're super efficient and nice over there - she grabs peoples boobs and, well, manhandles - womanhandles? - them into position. It's a strange world.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lovecraftian Horror

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and A's roommates got all the leftovers because I'm too lame to get myself 1/8 of a mile down the road to her house to reclaim my creamed onions. This is not surprising and anyway, it makes for a fine excuse for the Chinese takeout we had for dinner last night while we watched Spirited Away, which is one of my favorite movies of all time and which the QOB adored as well. I always feel like I've won some kind of weird contest when I find a movie the QOB and I both really like.

That's all fine. What isn't fine, alas, is Pebble. Pebble, and I say this in a hushed voice, looking around nervously for members of the other gender, is in heat. It's all my fault. I kept thinking she was going to grow more - she's about the tiniest cat I've ever had, half the size of a normal cat - and thus she wasn't really growing up so I had plenty of time to get her fixed. Ha ha ha. She's growing up all right, or, I guess, she's grown up and for the last four days she's been making our house a living hell.

I knew it was bad a couple of days ago when I found myself in the bathroom at 5 am, flushing the toilet over and over to distract her. Pebble adores the toilet, you see, and she would not shut up and, well, there I was. I'm not alone, actually; the QOB confessed to doing exactly the same thing. Yes, we all stand in the bathroom late at night and flush the toilet repeatedly to amuse the cat. This is pathetic. Pathetic, I say, but if I stepped away from the handle she would start in with the piteous, hideous wailing. I haven't gotten a full night's sleep for days. She's been wailing since Tuesday and then, today, she went full blown into the whole wiggling thing. We are actually, despite our reputations, a staid and Victorian household for the most part, and Pebble's lascivious misery is just, well, too much for us. "Haggard," said young M in tones of deep disquiet, and, yes, haggard it is.

So I have locked poor Pebble downstairs in the guest room with a clean litterbox and food and water and a big cozy bed covered with blankets and some cat toys and this clear act of animal cruelty of course makes me feel like some kind of evil 19th century chatelaine of a home for immoral young women or something. Then I come upstairs and feel like I'm at the very end of a Lovecraft story reading "And still, she could hear the unearthly eldritch screams as they echoed up from the very bowels of the earth." Which they are, since the guest room is pretty much totally in the bowels of the earth. Either way, from grim specter of enforced morality to unwitting looser of one of the Elder gods, I feel guilty. And fucked, like I will never sleep again. I really want to have a dream that doesn't end with some kind of narrative revolving around screaming. Really.

At least this neighborhood seems to be free of intact male cats or maybe they've also been fooled by the tininess of Pebble. So far, there's no chorus outside and I'm devoutly hoping one doesn't appear, because that would be true eldritch horror. It would set the dogs off and thus really end any hope I ever had of making friends with my neighbors: I'd have to resign myself to the torches and the pitchforks and the cauldrons of oil again, damn. I only hope this ends soon and I can zip her immediately off to the vet. I've never had a girl cat before and now I remember why - yeah, okay, actually it was my father's sexist and definite claim that male animals are just more fun. Look what happens when you try to be all equal, sheesh. It's not that I don't sympathize - I truly do; there aren't any tomcats wandering around my windows either - but she's miserable and so are we all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Movie and More

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I can't quite wrap my head around it somehow and my body, which is rapidly developing full on cold symptoms (don't tell my daughter; she'll get hysterical and maybe I can echinacea delay the full onset somehow) seems to agree. I kind of wish I'd suggested just doing Chinese this year and watching every James Bond movie ever made or something. Unfortunately, watching TV or movies entails going downstairs into the Lair of Young M, which I'm still determined is actually the family room but which actually seems to be more, well, the Lair of Young M, even though I hung up a bunch of Indian bedspreads to emphasize the separation between bedroom and family room. Somehow, though, and go figure, Indian bedspreads + lava lamp + bubbling lamp + papasan chair + lots of blankets all over the place + soda cans + Django, who has decided he also is a teenager, seem to say Frat House more than they do Family Room. Go figure. It's actually pretty comfy down there, though, you just have to make sure you have a native guide, which is to say, Young M.

We went down there last night and watched Wall E, which none of us had seen before. As usual when I get all fired up about a movie and convinced that I'm going to love it beforehand I found it underwhelming. It was cute, but, well, yeah, cute. Just cute. The QOB was not impressed which I guess I should have expected since she's just not of the generation that grew up with robots and thus I think there's sort of an empathy thing missing there. My generation, on the other hand, is totally used to finding robots the most sympathetic and kindly beings out there in an uncaring universe - hell, some of us formed sad attachments to toasters and the like, not that I, despite cherishing my panini press, talking to the coffee machine and getting all verklampt at the thought of trading in my ancient and rattling Saturn, am like that, no, not at all. Still, though, the Wall E and Eve romance left me a bit cold as well. It's nice that they can hold hands and all but, you know, where does it go from there? I'm not sure their parts are all that interchangeable if you know what I mean.

Well, happy thanksgiving and all that. Perhaps I will pop by tomorrow with a no doubt too much wine taken update on the glories of our dinner. Huzzah. Yeah.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Snow and Holidays and Stuff

This is a picture of Jane, my friend C & S's dog. She began life as a small scruffy Baltimore puppy but when they took her to the high altitude and clear air of the Rockies, she became this huge, fluffy, wonderful mountain dog, thus proving that environment is all, or something. Anyway she came to visit us along with her people for three fun filled days and now that she has gone Django is sad. They bounced without ceasing.

So I've been busy. Old friends visiting and my younger brother is staying with me as well, although he took off to Atlanta for a few days before reappearing with a CD of his friends' band and a frighteningly unabated yen for Jethro Tull. And then apparently Thanksgiving is the day after tomorrow, good god. We're going to do it at my daughter's house this year and as always it will be open to waifs, orphans and strays so if you fit into one of those categories and/or just want to eat a metric shit tonne of fantastic traditional Thanksgiving food, shoot me an email and I'll give you directions. Dinner is, I believe, at fiveish or sixish. I can't remember. Without my mother, we haven't had the traditional Thanksgiving Summit Meeting and it's all a bit kerbobbled. I think we can do it without a summit meeting - particularly since it's going to be at A's house, which means I get to leave after dinner and she gets left with all the dishes, bwah ha ha ha - but I might be wrong and forgetting something crucial. Let's hope not. I went to Sam's Club last night in the rain and bought a giant bag of cranberries and some feta cheese, which isn't featured in Thanksgiving but which is always good to stock up on anyway.

It snowed on Friday as you obviously know if you live here and of course everyone panicked at the veritable blizzard - I think we got like half an inch in Asheville, whoa - and all the schools shut down. This caused C & S to emit smirking noises of disdain since they live in a place where schools don't close unless there's like seven feet of snow, but I thought it was quite awesome. I got to stay home and run around and get things done and then have everyone over for curry and roasted vegetables, which was fun. It was supposed to snow again today but alas, it did no such thing. Oh well. A snow day in November is a promising start to the winter.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Re Connections

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Some of my oldest friends - C & S and their son V, I have known C for 22 years, holy shit - are visiting us. They got in last night around 10 after driving apparently faster than the proverbial bats out of hell, all the way from Colorado in around 26 hours. Good god. I couldn't do it. They'll be staying a couple of days, not long enough, and I have to work these two days, of course, so the moments are precious and I stayed up way too late with them. They also brought their gorgeous dog Jane, who somehow has morphed over the years from a tiny abandoned Baltimore puppy to a giant furry totally Colorado huskie/wolf looking creature. She is sweet and full of energy and Django is either terrified or in love; it's hard to tell. Theo thinks she is Too Young and Should Calm Down and all this Young Dog Stuff is Overrated. Yes, he does think like that.

Anyway, seeing them is fantastic and it's exciting to be showing off my new house. And then on the computer, I actually got a message from an old friend, E, who used to live in NY and with whom I worked long long ago in a galaxy far far away (yeah, Baltimore, it's extraplanetary) and discovered that she has a blog! It's an awesome blog, too, and I've been reading it in bits and pieces and wow, you know, it is wonderful to find and reconnect with people you love and haven't seen for all these long ass years. Even if it does make me feel kind of old. Or maybe that's just all the beer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Joys of Laundry

I still don't own a washer and/or dryer. Every so often I want to ask Metafilter if there is some possible ecological justification for this, so I could at least feel smug about it, but somehow I never bother. It has to be better for the environment to concentrate laundry in one building, right? Right? Well. Eventually I'm going to get a washer and dryer of my very own, but not right this minute and so, last night, because you know, I like to live large, I went to a different laundromat.

Next week I'm going to have to go back to the old laundromat.

The Citgo on Amboy Road is my new kwikee mart convenience store - this is contemporary America: the Brits get local pubs, we get local kwikee marts in yet another glaring example of just how much cooler it is in Europe but oh well, you can't buy vitamin water, giant sized bags of ranch flavored Doritos and novelty Nascar lighters at traditional British pubs, now can you? - and it's weird. I mean, it's always been weird - I've always gone there, on and off, since back in the day when they didn't take credit cards, before they got flooded and I took a picture of a family of ducks swimming by the gas pumps - but it's gotten kind of weirder. They always have at least two clerks there and those two clerks always seem to be embroiled in some kind of crazy family drama or maybe they're actually on a sitcom. And then they have weird biscuits in the morning. I mean, sausage and egg, sure, their bacon or sausage and egg biscuits have long been a staple of my hangover breakfasts, but bologna and egg? WTF?) I could chalk all this up to just the usual hijinks o'fun that you have to expect when you're buying beer and cigarettes in a hurry, but their laundromat, however, Will Not Do. Not only is it more expensive than my longtime laundromat at the Amoco on Haywood, It's kind of horrible in a very post modern post industrial way: clean, deserted, shiny and filled with the most terrible music imaginable.

My brother has turned me on to this internet video show known as Yacht Rock. Yes, as usual I'm roughly a century behind on my internet memes - any minute now I fully intend to have a look at this dancing baby phenomena - and at first, frankly, I was unimpressed by Yacht Rock. Then, probably due to some kind of mind control waves, it got me and I started finding it funny. Turns out that someone, somewhere (either California or Pluto, who knows?) is still making Yacht Rock (the music, not the show) and they're playing it nonstop at the Citgo laundromat on Amboy Road. Loud. Really loud so you can't escape from the endless wailing of either women vowing to stay, stay forever, never leave your side, even if you want them to, even if you need to go to the bathroom, no, honey, I will always be there or men complaining about how they tried so hard but she just wasn't giving back, no, uh uh, she didn't love him like he loved her and it was all really freaking sad. And it was sad but not as sad as the guy who sang about the sunrise and how great that was. I mean the actual songs from the seventies, when they came on, were a relief.

But it's okay, because I am absolutely sure that for some unspecified environmental reason, I totally can feel superior for going to the laundromat and thus my evening will not have been a total drag. Right? Right?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Home Again Etc.

The QoBoho (people are getting confused by the term QOB. It means QUEEN OF BOHEMIA, not whatever other terrible thing y'all think it does and refers to my auntie and perhaps I will change it, thus, to QoBoho just so everyone can get even more confused. I mean, sheesh.) Anyway, she's home. She came home on Friday and seems to be pretty much fully recovered, if a bit lonely for the Relaxation Station. Her spleen is healing right up all by itself and she's feeling chipper. She's moved upstairs and seems to prefer it and eventually, when I get up the nerve, I'm going to drill a hole in the floor and pull the cable upstairs so she can have TV too. I mean, drilling a hole in the floor - what could possibly go wrong? Be afraid. I am.

My younger brother also arrived on Thursday evening, at which point we went out to dinner at Cocina Latina, which, I am sorry to report, was not as good as I had been talking it up to be. Sigh. So it's been kind of a full weekend what with one thing and another and thus I have not blogged although, actually, I haven't gotten all that much accomplished, alas. I hung up a towel rack, which was harder than you might think, and fixed a drawer, which was easier, and raked a bunch of leaves, which was unremarkable except for the part where I realized I was also raking up a lot of dogshit, ew. I also went to the library and the used book store and now I don't want to do anything but read anyway, but of course there are the usual bazillion things to do.

My brother asked me if I remembered the dance routine I did in 10th grade to a Jethro Tull song. I do, actually - well, I don't remember the dance itself, but I do remember looking for the song, because my roommate and I had to choreograph and perform something at the recital or fail Modern Dance. That's how dedicated a student I was in 10th grade: I nearly flunked Modern Dance. My friend and I saved ourselves at the last minute, though, by finding the single shortest song we could on our pooled records, which leaned heavily, in my case, towards Jethro Tull. Yes, I was one of those geeky teens who thought that she had found the secret of the universe in Songs from the Wood. Eeep. Anyway, my brother, who apparently has these vivid, more vivid than mine, memories of the whole thing, thinks it was this song and I believe he may be right. All I know is that it was as short as we thought we could get away with, we didn't fall down on stage and we got a grudging C or something from the evil and loathed Miss Hart.

Apparently they don't have Modern Dance in high schools anymore, which means that there are no longer flocks of teenage girls in black leotards rushing through the hallways with their arms behind them, for which, I suppose, we should all be grateful. But when I was a teenager, I had to take sports and one of the sports available for girls was Modern Dance, which was infinitely better than any of the other sports which all involved, shudder, actual sports activity. I thought I could rush around elegantly in a black leotard with the best of them but unfortunately I was, at age 15, as tall as I am now, which is to say 5'10" and fifty or more pounds thinner, which meant, basically, that beanpole was a compliment. I disappeared if I stood sideways or, that is, I would have if I hadn't been wearing, pretty much always, a giant checked lumberjack wool shirt over a torn Grateful Dead t-shirt, handmade denim skirt and Chinese black cotton shoes held together with safety pins. And, let us not forget, bottle bottom tortoise shell glasses. This amazingly elegant personal style statement, my complete and utter lack of coordination and my newly discovered fondness for illicit herbal substances meant that I was pretty much always falling down: my feet would get numb in those damn shoes and plus I couldn't see anything anyway, since I was always losing my glasses. So I was not exactly a star at Modern Dance but, hell, I did my part for the late seventies and danced at school - briefly, very briefly - to Jethro Tull. Thank god they didn't have video cameras yet.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And So On

Well, the QOB has a lacerated spleen. It must have happened on Friday when she fell at the CVS and it would explain why she was getting slowly weaker and more out of it for the next couple of days. The doctor (one of the doctors. If you've ever had a relative in the hospital you know just as well as I do that saying The Doctor is just shorthand for any one of a million possibly doctors or maybe they're something else who come wandering through every once in a while and may or may not make the effort to call you no matter how many frantic notes you've left to that effect.) seems to think she has a very good chance of recovering completely given total bed rest and for the next few days anyway, careful monitoring in the hospital. It's good news in that it's not cancer or any other kind of disease but it's bad news in that the spleen, contrary to what you may think, is not really one of those disposable organs. I've been reading up on spleens even though any reading about internal organs or, god forbid, looking at pictures of same, makes me get all weird and squoogly inside and then I have to stand up and walk around taking deep breaths for a bit.

It turns out that spleens get banged up all the time, particularly if you're a hockey player (maybe we should pull the QOB out of that over 80 league, huh) but also in car accidents and for various other reasons - such as falling down completely, boom - and they're usually pretty good at repairing themselves, although if you don't lie completely still while they're doing it, you can die from an undiagnosed spleen injury. Yeah, I know, that made me want to have my spleen examined immediately too, but I'm going to go on the assumption that it's working away just fine, since I haven't fallen down or had anything much physically traumatic happen except being clonked on the head by a tourist at work the other day (she answered her cell phone, thus dropping the handle of the geode cracker, which promptly obeyed gravity and bonked me hard on the side of my forehead, where I now have a nice bump which is fortunately invisible to everyone but me. I hope.)

At any rate, the QOB has been loving the hospital, which made us all a bit cranky, since you're not supposed to be happy in the hospital for gods' sake. But she likes it: the nice nurses bring her food three times a day and all she has to do is lie there and watch the Relaxation Station: a constantly running loop of soothing pictures of flowers and waterfalls and scenic pictures accompanied by the kind of cloying New Age music that makes me want to tear the TV from the wall and toss it down into the parking deck but, hey, I am not 79 years old and she thinks the Relaxation Station is the best thing since sliced bread. I'm threatening to get her one of those DVDs for cats, you know, the ones that show aquariums and mice and stuff, although young M thinks we should just get her a real aquarium and maybe we should. Might be too exciting, though.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tired and Down

I spent most of last night at that fun filled place, the Mission ER. It's just joyous over there, let me tell you, what with the vomiting toddlers and wailing babies and terrified old people and, yeah, I'm deeply impressed by the people who work there, because I estimate that I could take it for about 12 minutes before I freaked out, quit and needed years of therapy to recover.

Anyway, the QOB fell again; this time downstairs in my house where, with remarkable luck, we all were, meaning me, my daughter A (without whose extensive first aid training we'd be in way worse shape) and young M, who actually heard her fall and was right there. She didn't break anything - unlike my mother, her sister, the QOB doesn't seem to have any osteoporosis and I think it was years of a good hippie health food/Mediterranean diet as opposed to Mom & Dad's staunch American diet of three large servings of meat a day. Unfortunately, though, her blood pressure keeps crashing low whenever she stands up and that means that they kept her at the hospital overnight, where she still is and where I'm going as soon as I can, which is to say, in an hour or so when I can get out of work where I'm sitting with a giant industrial sized cup of coffee trying to wake up.

She was fine all weekend after her fall on Friday, if a little quieter than usual, but then last night she said she was feeling very weak and tired. So I brought her dinner downstairs and then, about half an hour later, she got up, tried to walk to the bathroom and fell. There ensued about forty bad minutes with A and I lifting her and getting her into the bathroom and then trying to get her out and then her sort of fainting and then us calling 911 who sent a fire engine and then an ambulance and about six very nice people who got her onto a stretcher and into the ambulance and off for her second ambulance ride in four days and what my new neighbors think of me now, god only knows, because there's part of my mother in me after all and I'm kind of thinking, ewwww, people who have a fire engine and ambulance at their houses within three weeks of moving in are kind of, like, "Jerry Springer called; he wants his star guests back." I recognize this is ridiculous but there you have it: I was properly raised and it scarred me for life. Then A & I followed the ambulance which drove sedately to the ER (I really wish I wasn't so familiar with the hospitals in Asheville and all the various routes to and from them and, god, I'm tired of hospitals, I mean really tired in a bone deep way) where my brother B met us and then we sat there, taking turns to go back to the QOB's ER cubicle, until about 1:30 in the morning when the doctor told me that they wanted to keep her overnight, since she still couldn't walk and wouldn't be safe at home. I nearly kissed him, actually, because I was dreading trying to bring her home and then trying to figure out bathroom access and worrying all night and so on. And then I fled to catch a few hours of sleep.

As of this morning, they're running tests and I put in a frantic phone call to my rehabbing angel A who is coming to, with young M and his friends, move everything that was in the spare room upstairs downstairs to what was the QOB's apartment and move everything that was in her apartment upstairs to what was going to be my little office/studio/craft room. Heavy sigh. I was really looking forward to having that room for my own, kind of like Virginia Woolf and, yeah, whatever. But this way if she falls again she'll fall on carpet or wood instead of on the concrete of downstairs and she'll never have to face stairs again period so there you have it.

I'm exhausted and feeling a bit dispirited by all this, I must say. I know I sound callous and awful and yes, I am worried about the QOB, but I don't think there's anything much genuinely wrong with her, or, worse really, whatever it is that's wrong with her goes by the name Old Age and there's nothing to be done. I love her and want her to be happy but, you know, I've spent a lot of time in hospitals these past four months and I'm tired.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


I'm feeling very peaceful right now, because I actually did spend the weekend doing what I said I was going to do, which is unpack boxes, stare at the contents, walk around in circles, put the contents of the box into a drawer, figure I'll sort it all out later and then break down the empty box with a feeling of achievement. Apparently, as I said to my friend C who called to ask me to go hiking, which I declined due to the guilt I would have then felt, I'll be doing this every day for the rest of my life. That's okay. I found a bunch of pictures I'd forgotten about and even though the spare room looks worse, it's actually better. I swear. I didn't get to the QOB's kitchenette yet, though, and that was supposed to happen this weekend. Oh well. There's stew simmering on the stove and I'm drinking a little bourbon and curling up in one of my Mom's big huge comfy chairs and rereading China Mieville, looking up occasionally to make comments to the dogs.

"No. There is no way I'm letting you outside with that bone. You're just going to lose it in the yard. You know you are."
And he does know it, but Django has some kind of genetic imperative going on that compels him to take all his toys out to the yard and lose them. He doesn't bury them - he's not organized enough for that - he just loses them. Then eventually when he finds them again it's like a new toy all over again. I know how he feels - I opened a box today that had been sitting unopened in my former garage for over a year and hey, you know, there's a remote chance that someday I will need those weird sized manila envelopes or possibly Polaroid will come back from the grave and begin again to manufacture film for the several funky, failed Polaroid cameras of the nineties that were lurking about in the bottom. Or I'll get around to developing the film in the PlaySkool camera that I think was young M's in about 1997 or so. Every couple years it resurfaces and every couple years I plan to do just that and then it goes back underground, and, you know, that's that.

Meanwhile, Pebble has been forbidden to go outdoors. I had a conversation with my very cool new neighbor A who gave me some sobering statistics on cat fatality rates on our road and that was all I needed to inform Pebble that she was now an indoor cat for her own good. Pebble scoffs at safety, though, and thinks that she's been condemned to life in hell and so she's been sitting by the various doors for two days screaming her head off. This has condemned us to life in hell, where cats wailing by unopened doors is a known trope. But there's nothing to be done and anyway, she relieves the tedium of the wailing by chasing Theo's tail in the best Kitten Kung Fu style, which always makes me say, "His tail is no match for the power of your Kitten Kung Fu!" in my best bad Kung Fu movie accent. I like Kung Fu movies and I have seen many, many, many of them, beginning with the distant days when I and my late teen/early 20something cohorts would spend Saturday afternoons smoking ridiculous amounts of pot that tasted faintly of shrimp (all the pot in 1980s Charleston tasted like shrimpboats, go figure) and watching Kung Fu Theatre on some UHF channel I no longer remember.

My fondness for Kung Fu ended up being a fondness for Jackie Chan, which is what led to a conversation I had with young M some 11 or so years ago. (I tell this story a lot. If I've told it here before, oh well. It's still fucking incredibly cute!)
"Mom," he said solemnly, "It would be okay with me if Jackie Chan was my stepfather."
"Really?" I said, "Oh."
"Yes," he said, "I think you should marry Jackie Chan. I think that would be good."

Unfortunately, I couldn't, somehow, work out the logistics but you know, he was right. I should totally have married Jackie Chan. I'm still available, by the way, Jackie, if you're reading this, although, hey, for the sake of the happiness of our marriage, I will not mention The Forbidden Kingdom and just say, look, if you're going to reprise Drunken Master again, do it cleanly. It was terrible. But that's sort of the point, I know, so, whatever. Still, the importing of bad American actors into Kung Fu movies bothers me on some level. I don't need to see some pimply white American teenager in a Kung Fu movie to love it; actually, it detracts, because it's like, WTF is he doing here? Take him away and let me watch Asians in improbable hats fly past limestone karsts, please.

It doesn't matter, though, because, fickle creature that I am, I've at least temporarily transferred my love for Jackie Chan to Genghis Khan, who I never knew was such an amazingly enlightened being. I mean, really, he just turns around after his wife (and that's the method of marriage that I think works; y'all just pick each other out in a yurt when you're ten, which means, hey, John Tower? We need to get married now, because I totally wanted to marry you when I was ten, despite the terrible lack of yurt) presents him with a kid of uncertain fathering due to either her being snatched away by guys in masks or being forced to become a prostitute to free him from a cage which was making his skin look sort of like the permafrost in crisis and says, "I am your father now." to the kid in question. Awesome. Also, the scenery rocks. Mongol is an awesome movie and everyone should go watch it right now. Okay? Okay.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


I've spent the day unpacking boxes yet again. We've gone beyond the boxes we need for basic survival and moved into the murky world of boxes labeled Papers and Photos and Art Supplies and the dreaded Misc. The contents of these boxes keep throwing me back and making me walk around and take deep breaths, because I keep finding things again, like the envelope of pictures of my children that I had long ago sent to my parents and which my mother had kept, organized as always, in an envelope labeled A & M. My mother's handwriting makes me cry right now, even, or particularly, the capitalized in sharpie handwriting she always used to label boxes. Keep in mind that we moved every 18 months or so my whole life. Boxes labeled in sharpie are to me as great grandma's meatloaf to others.

Meanwhile, the QOB is recovering from her fall by staying quiet and downstairs. C came by this morning and dressed her wound and reported that she swore she was in no pain. I was figuring that she'd be pretty achey today, given the fall and then the resultant stitches and, of course, champagne, but she said she was fine - just didn't feel like going out. She also didn't feel like wearing a bandage over the stitches on her upper lip and I'm going with the belief that this is okay. Young M had a similar injury and he didn't have to wear a bandage, as far as I recall, which is pretty clearly, because I vividly remember when he, at age five or thereabouts, fell off the monkey bars and put his front teeth right through his lower lip. I also remember in excruciating detail how, although I had quit smoking for six months at that point, watching him try to drink a glass of water in the hospital emergency waiting room (they take care of you faster when you're eighty than when you're five)and watching that water fall right out through the hole in his lower lip, slightly blood tinged but otherwise not much the worse for wear, made me start up smoking again immediately.

Anyway, I spent the whole day unpacking boxes and tidying and cleaning and all that good shit and then eventually making dinner (peanut butter noodles, fried tofu and carrots with honey butter) for young M and the QOB and myself and then young M found the chocolate ice cream in the freezer and the milk that was miraculously not sour in the back of the fridge and proceeded to make milkshakes for himself and the QOB. She came upstairs a while later with an intent look on her face and said, "Your son brought me this wonderful drink! Where is more of it?"
"Yes" I said, "He made you a milkshake but now we're out of ice cream and milk. No worries, though, I'm going to the store tomorrow."
She looked around for a bit, doubting me (I have this evil tendency to take sweets away from her when I think she's had enough and then I make her eat real food before she gets dessert and stuff, so, you know, I sort of function as the enemy sometimes) then gave up and handed me $20.
"A," I said, "What is this? You don't owe me any money."
"I want to make sure," she said, "That you get everything he needs to make that wonderful drink."
So I told her some funny stories about young M and his fondness for milkshakes and she laughed a lot and went back to bed.

And I thought, you know, strokes are terrible and all of this is fucking tough and a lot of the time my heart breaks and I get sad and shit but, hey, when every milkshake is your very first one, well, you know, there's something to be said for that. Because milkshakes are awesome when you're discovering them for the very, very first time.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Settled, Uh Huh

Most people get these crisis type things like, once every now and then or a couple of times in a lifetime: you know, spaced out nicely throughout their lives so that they get time to look back and say, hey, I really grew from that and then, comfortable in the knowledge of their unparalleled spiritual growth and fortitude in the face of adversity and all, donate money either to some ashram in Portland or the Republican party, their pick. Me, I like to have my crises all at once in a big huge giant ball of crisis and give my money to the kwikee mart for cigs and beer.

That would be why I got a phone call from A that C, who is A's friend who has become the QOB's careworker, had just called her hysterical because the QOB had just fallen at the CVS parking lot on Hendersonville Rd. and they were even now en route to the emergency room.
"Which hospital?" I asked, super calmly.
"Mission," said my daughter, which, alas, in Asheville is no help at all, since there used to be two hospitals, Mission & St. Joes, but now there is one hospital, Mission, which has two uneasily combined parts, Memorial and St. Joes, and there are two emergency rooms, both called Mission, and, like everything geographical in Asheville, you can see how it gets confusing even to those of us who have lived here a long damn time.

So I called my brother and sent him off to the St. Joe's emergency room and I hied myself to the Memorial emergency room where I found that the QOB had just been admitted. Therefore I called my brother and got him on over and my daughter A showed up and C, who was all freaked out but okay and then we all went in in turns to see the QOB who, fortunately, had nothing much wrong with her, being as how she had landed on her face when she fell and she only has the two teeth to go through her lip and only one of them did. Therefore she needed stitches and she got them, eventually, after we had explained that she had no photo ID because, hey, she is the Queen of Bohemia and they should bow down and shit and then we all came home and drank champagne.

Well. In the middle of all this I got a frantic hysterical call from Young M who was being held prisoner, yet again, in the main office of the high school because they would not give him back his cell phone. Nobody adult at the school would talk to me so I had to leave the QOB in the ER all alone, which is to say, with her bazillion concerned relatives and friends (we freaked out the security guard, who had these orders that patients are only supposed to have one person back in the ER with them but let us have two and then we kept changing those people until finally he just gave up and buzzed all of us through whenever we started in on explaining) and drive at batspeed over to the high school and stare down the principal. Fortunately I was in the mood to do some staring so that didn't actually take very long and right then, I frankly did not care who was in the wrong or the right, so I got young M and his cell phone released into my custody in record speed and we got back on over to the ER where we had a lovely time spending all my spare change on the snack machines while they sewed up the QOB's lip and determined that there was nothing else at all wrong with her.

All good and we came back home to drink heavily (okay, I acknowledge that there is in fact out there a better and healthier stress response than dreaming of a beer, but there you have it) except that when we got home young M called to me in a voice of alarm that I had to come see this. This was a huge pool of "water" on the floor (don't ask. It was mostly yellow.) in the downstairs living room which set off a new round of phone calls and I had to get poor A, my rehabbing friend who is fixing my new house, to drive back in to town from Bat Cave and saw a whole bunch of new holes in the wall and the ceiling to find this new leak since it was, apparently, his fixing of the old leak that prompted the new leak to spring forth in all its glory.

Which he did and somewhere in there A went on a heroic quest for straws so the QOB could drink champagne unhamperd by her giant Hitler bandage. And here we are and I'm frankly utterly relieved that there were three crises today because, jesus, three is enough and three generally means, according to my mother, anyway, that all the shoes planning on dropping have totally dropped. Or god, seven. But let's hope that this time it was three.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

misty morning sunrise in west asheville

I'm still pretty much psyched, politically, although I wish we didn't have to wait for January 20 and could just go about installing the Obamas and their puppy in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue right NOW, but on the other hand, however much I'd like to see W riding out of town today on a proverbial rail (this has always puzzled me, because in my head I picture it as sort of a railroad rail, long and heavy and metal, that would mysteriously be installed in the town in question with one end going unequivocally out of town, and then the rail rider sort of slides from one end to the other, which always seemed like, well, a lot of work just to throw the bums out) with a nice coating of tar and feathers, I hope the Obamas are all resting and taking some time off and all that good shit.

On the nonpolitical front, however, I'm somewhat less happy, as it has come to my attention that just moving from one house to another is not enough: you then have to start cleaning the new house. This seems unfair, somehow, like you should get a month off from dust and dishes but, alas, such is not the case and my house is starting to look dingy even though all the boxes are far from unpacked. Bah. So I need to spend the weekend organizing and cleaning and all that kind of stuff when all I really want to do is build this peculiar jewelry holder that I have in my head.

I need somewhere to hang up necklaces and my stunning collection of extremely cheap mostly plastic bracelets and I've figured out a way to do that using wood and dowels and my remarkable carpentry skillz. The QOB said that what I needed was a giant hand, which is, she said, the traditional method of jewelry keeping and display. "It is?" I said, "I've never seen it." and she laughed. No, a giant hand isn't going to cut it. I want to build something. I need a Project, because, apparently, my real projects including organizing and fixing up the kitchenette area downstairs and fixing up young M's area so that I can use it again and turning the spare room into something other than a repository for boxes containing stuff I can't even bear to look at yet.

But oh well, cleaning and projects and even walking the dogs in the morning: you might think I was getting settled or something. Whoot.