Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rainy Weekend

Sick again yesterday. What a shock and surprise - although at least, to vary it a little, this was the stomach variety bug on top of the usual sinus cold variety. I've given up: apparently I'm just going to be an invalid forever. On the bright side, that means that nobody can expect me to wear anything but plaid flannel ever again, so, you know, things are not all bad.

On Thursday evening daughter A and I went to Lowes and Target. We went to Lowes because I need a new hot water heater. Isn't that nifty? Isn't that just faboo? Mine is leaking and, once I had wedged myself and a flashlight into the strange plywood closet where the water heater lurks and heats in darkness, I discovered that it has probably been leaking for some time, given that the mold on the bottom of the closet walls has progressed to the priest/king stage of civilization and is building ziggurats. So, off to Lowes where in my naivete I thought I could just buy a new one. This did not happen. Hot water heaters, it turns out, are expensive, holy fuck, far more expensive than I had thought and also, A (not A my daughter, A my friend who fixes everything in my house) is out of town and getting Lowes to install a hot water heater doubles the damn price of the thing. So I've packed the closet with towels, told the heater to keep on trying its best and asked the mold to perform a sacrifice for drought. When A gets back from Baltimore maybe he can make me a new hot water heater out of old gingerale cans and glue.

I spent a long time at Lowes looking at carpet samples since I've decided I need to carpet the basement. I'm not sure if you can just plunk carpet down on blue painted concrete, though, and again, we have that small problem called limited budget: I don't really want to pay for this carpet or anything. Since I don't particularly care what it looks like and in fact do not care if I end up with about 30 different bits of carpet all next to each other down there, I feel that my carpet should be either free or very cheap indeed. That doesn't seem to be how it works. I've never done carpet before - I'm a hippie; we tear carpet out and spend months pulling staples and then strapping waxy rags onto our children's feet to make the wood floors look better (I have actually done this; ask my kids) - and I'm just not up on all this carpet stuff, besides feeling vaguely that I am betraying my principles. Oh well. I ended up not buying much at all at Lowes; I was going to get some blind liners, since the attractive bamboo Roman shades I hung in the bedroom a couple weeks ago are basically only very slightly less transparent than glass, but as A pointed out, they were expensive; they didn't have exactly the right size; and by the time I was done fucking them up completely by trying to alter them I would have to buy more anyway. I have saved money, yes, but alas, there's still a puddle under the hot water heater; you can still see me walking around the bedroom looking confused and the basement floor is still bright blue concrete.

In other news, I totally saw coyotes on Thursday morning and I would like to stress that. Coyotes! In Asheville! Nobody else seems to understand how totally cool yet kind of scary that is but I swear to you, it is totally cool yet kind of scary. And, sort of vaguely as a result of this, it looks like Pebble's sister Okra might come to live with me. As you may or may not know, Pebble is the daughter of A's cat Izzy. Izzy managed to get herself knocked up in her first heat in a trailer park in Woodfin and yet produced perfectly Siamese looking kittens: go figure. Then, tragically, Izzy disappeared about two or three months ago. Given that A lives right up the street from where I suspect the coyotes live (in that wilderness power company no mans land beyond the dog park along the river) it is possible that Izzy was eaten. At any rate, A then decided that Okra would not be allowed to ever go outside again, which would all be well and good except that A's roommates do not much like cats; A is rarely home and Okra is bored being an only cat. So is Pebble and thus the plan is to move Okra in with me. I can hear young M laughing now: "A got you to take another of her animals!" and yes, it is true that A is very good at finding pets for other people and I'm not entirely sure how it is that I managed to agree to or possibly even suggest this solution to Okra & Pebbles' boredom problems but there you have it: soon I will have two cats and two dogs and even less sanity than I do now.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vertigo and Wildness

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I'm kind of better. I'm kind of not better, too and I'm living in fear that betterness is just an illusion as it proved to be last time and at any minute I could keel over again. Meanwhile, I have a splitting headache that won't go away; I have to blow my nose entirely too often and I'm tired. The newspaper reports that local schools have tons of kids out and yadda yadda: February. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the comments thread on that story managed not to blame the Democrats, which I was expecting, since the "people" who comment in the Citizen-Times forums usually manage to blame pretty much everything that they don't like - which is to say everything; they don't like much - on the Democrats. They use more unkind terms than Democrat, too, as you can probably imagine and all in all a visit to the comments page generally makes me want to either jump off the planet or boil myself in bleach but then I take solace in remembering that those are not real people commenting. No, those forums provide the preferred online community for that subterranean race of troglodytic reptile people who spend their time jumping over lava rivers, fighting off pterodactyls and performing human sacrifice in bad movies. Once that became clear I found I could read their completely batshit insane comments calmly and anthropologically, which is better than the boiling bleach option and besides, obviously this is the only logical explanation for the cesspits that are the Topix forums.

I am trying to keep illness at bay by, gasp, being healthy. Thus I have managed to walk the dogs twice this week already which is a new pathetic record. This morning I went down to the old park, the French Broad River Park but just as I wait, not me, someone I don't know who is not me, heh - was about to illegally slip the dogs off their leashes so they could get a good run in, they went nuts, barking and generally freaking out. I looked in the direction in which they were barking and saw animals. There were two of them, halfway across the park and you could tell simply from their body language that they were not domesticated, oh no, far from it. Tiny, weirdly shaped deer? I thought wildly, feral dogs? Then I thought, wait, shit, I think those are coyotes! Then I edged up a little closer and one of them crossed the park and I think, I am not positive, but I am close to sure, that they were foxes or, and this is weird, one of them was definitely a fox but the other may have been a dog? No, okay, that's impossible. Looking at the blurry pictures - at the bottom of the post - I'm back at the coyote hypothesis.

Here's why I don't think they were dogs. I grant you that feral dogs or even perfectly non feral family dogs who have taken themselves for a fun jaunt are the most likely scenario at the heavily used river park in Asheville (we are not talking wilderness here, let's face it) but I really don't think these were dogs. They had that impression of wild animal that's hard to define but the minute I glimpsed them I thought wild animal, completely wild animal, unfamiliar wild animal. I put faith in that kind of instinctive reaction; I think our primitive brains add up clues more quickly than our reason.

And then feral dogs in this day and age almost always look more like pit bulls than anything else. Every feral or loose dog I've seen around here - and I've seen my fair share - has had either that tell tale pit look or a whole lot of hound. Even here in WNC where there's a strong ancestral collie strain, the pit bull genes have been hard at work. These animals did not look like pits nor did they look like collies: I have a collie. He does not have a profile or a tail like that.

Whatever species they were, Yoda says: frightened by us they were not. One ran back across the park and the other stood there and looked calmly at us for a while and I thought, you know what? I am going to go in completely the other direction today and leave the dogs on their leashes for a while. And so I did and when I came back they were gone.

It was a nice brush with mystery though and wildness and even a little fear; you can't help but think about rabies in those situations - well, I can't but then I'm neurotic, okay - and how much vets cost and so on. At the same time as the fear, though, there is something in this overly analytical overly populated semi urban 21st century existence of mine that responds with real awe to this kind of brush with wildness, this kind of quick glimpse into the hidden world that lives right up next to the one we see every day. It's a sort of vertigo, realizing that the surface we see is just part of the story and far, far from all. There are wild things, Horatio, right outside your window and we will never know where they came from or where they go.

Oh and yes, I know, these pictures are hopeless. That could be a yeti there or Bigfoot or a tyrannosaurus rex - they are the quintessential UFO photos, these photos and I apologize, but it was early and dark and the animals were far away and, okay, a National Geographic wildlife photographer I am not.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More News from the Sickroom

I got sick again, with bells on. I think I'm being punished for some vague sins I committed in 1987 - if I recall correctly, 1987 was kind of a banner year for Felicity sinfulness - so I'm sure I did something dreadful enough for this retribution. Actually, I don't know what the hell is going on; I just know that while I said I was sicker than I'd ever been before in my life in January, that record wouldn't hold long. The past four days I've been sicker than I was in January. This has been no fun at all and I still feel like warmed over . . . something. Something horrible. Not only have I not left my house until today, I have barely even left my bedroom. I was too sick to check my email. Too sick to tweet, even! That is extremely ill, by god, that is your post modern typhoid yellow fever bubonic plague kinda illness right there.

I went to the doctor - a cute doctor, with eyelashes to die for, a doc in the box over on Patton Avenue, with a surly CNA and a dirty floor - on Friday and he gave me antibiotics which have done nothing and which I now suspect of being a placebo. When the fever was spiking on Saturday afternoon at 102 and wouldn't go down and I was contemplating asking somebody to take me to the hospital in between bouts of flying around the desert, I called and begged the doc in the box office for help. They told me to take tylenol and call them tomorrow. I knew that they were closed on Sundays so I hung up embittered, contemplated the conspiracy against me and prepared to die, which I somehow didn't quite manage. Instead I was just miserably, horribly, eternally ill and unable to breathe through my nose or sleep more than three hours at a time and I kept sweating through my pajamas and my sheets.

Now I am at work, dizzy and my ears are ringing but I'm dressed in something other than Mighty Mouse pajama bottoms and I even put on earrings. I don't know why I keep on getting sick like this. I don't know why I got sick just as this blog had a small brush with fame - thank you, Jonathan Carroll and Shakespeare's Sister and everyone for the kind words and suddenly improved page hits, I meant to write something thoughtful and thankful and cogent and possibly even humorous, maybe even wry, god help us all, but instead I decided to become way too involved with a box of Puff's Plus with Aloe and Vicks and damn, opportunity has no doubt fled.

Oh well. I will trade fame, right now, for not getting sick like this every two or three weeks. Because this getting sick every two or three weeks is the fucking pits and it has to stop. I'm about ready to start sacrificing roosters and dancing widdershins around the garage - more, I mean, than usual - or whatever it takes to boost my apparently defunct immune system. Got any weird folk cures? Bring them on. I will try them.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

An Open Letter to the Self Appointed Library Censor

Today was a long, long day at work and everybody is either sick or getting sick or getting over being sick or commenting on how they just can't quite get over this sickness. Me, I am no exception: my throat is sore again and I'm still coughing. I finished all my Patrick O'Brian books, including The Golden Ocean and so after work I headed to the library with visions of tea and literature dancing around in my head. For once I even had my list of various recommendations with me and I ended up with a big fat stack of books to take home. I plopped them on the kitchen counter and put the kettle on to boil and decided to start with a cigarette and Jonathan Carroll: The Wooden Sea.

Well. Some charming soul who also frequents the Pack Library decided that Jonathan Carroll was just too disgustingly fucking profane for his or her ugly ass and took it upon themselves to neatly black out each and every single goddamn fucking swear word with a black ballpoint. Not only that, but they wrote their own suggested alternatives above the black rectangles: poor slobs as opposed to poor fucks and rectal exam as opposed to asshole exam. I am furious. I want to read this book but the vandalism is jarring and throws me off and, as if it could be worse, Carroll, who I have never read before, would appear to be smart and inventive and playful and thus the word, the actual word, the chosen word of the author, is not always immediately apparent and I have to peer through the thicket of black ink to decipher which word he meant to use. Which fine meaningful word full of punch, which Anglo-Saxon epithet, which word that ought to be familiar to anyone over the age of eight in this goddamn culture anyway in which one would hope and believe that for Christ's sake we are over being terrified by the power of, oooh, a word. It's not like he said Voldemort or anything, sheesh.

I'm so outraged that I had to turn on the computer and share this. I suppose I should take the book back over to the library tomorrow and turn it in and tell the librarian and then I guess that, in this era of budget cuts, the library will almost certainly have to live without this particular book, which would be a crying fucking shame. So fuck you, self appointed censor. Fuck you, crazy malignant busybody asshole from hell. Fuck you and the self righteous horse you rode in on, you shithead weevil, inelegant reptile, worthless nattering cretin that you are. Who the FUCK do you think you are to appoint yourself the moralist of the public library? You're insane and ridiculous, is who you are, and I would pity you if I wasn't so filled with scorn.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

There's a Hole in the Wall

A came over, as noted, the day before yesterday and created the most totally wonderful window between the living room and the kitchen. I cannot get over how much better it looks; I keep wandering around going "Wow." This morning when I woke up it was pouring rain, sheets and sheets of rain and, since I went to bed at 8 last night, I was wide awake at 6:45 this morning. Another, less dedicated, woman might have used this time to walk her dogs in the pouring rain or to go to the gym where she hasn't even been yet despite pouring money out of her bank account into the YMCA's coffers, but no, I spent it dusting (cutting holes in drywall = much dust, as does the presence of two dirty dogs) and puttering and realigning tchotchkes into new, better, more House Beautiful positions. Then I just sort of ogled my living room and kitchen while I drank my coffee and walked around and took pictures and thought to myself that I was truly an undiscovered interior design genius and wasn't it nice to be in love with a house again? And I am, I am in love with my house and that is really great.

It feels kind of weird to look around and think, this belongs to me. That is my, my very own, broken gutter that is cascading 4" of rain into the walkway between the garage and the house and that is my very own possibly dead tree that might come down on my roof and that is my unfinished wood floor that will just have to stay unfinished until such time as I am both feeling rich and prepared to pack up the whole upstairs and move to the basement or the West Indies or something for a week to ten days. And it is my very own awesome orange kitchen and my very own stairs and I will probably live here forever. That is a completely weird feeling: I have never thought about living somewhere forever before.

The longest I have ever lived in any one house in my entire life was the six years I spent on Pennsylvania Avenue and when I moved there I had no clue that I'd stay so long. It just sort of happened which, actually, could be said of my life as a whole: no planning, just happening. Here I am doing both - the house happened and now I'm planning to stay. I suppose that means that I had better clean up the dogshit in the backyard (I know, there's a business in town that does just that but I can't quite justify the fees, even though they are not high, but still. I have this gym membership I don't use, you know.) and put in some metal screens. I'm fine with all of it - I love coming home and knowing that I can cut a hole in the wall or write on the windows any time I feel like it, even if I don't. It is awesome.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Win Lose

I found a scratch off ticket in my coat pocket and scratched it off: lo, I did not win anything. I am baffled - baffled, I say - by my persistent failure to win the lottery. The only lottery I ever win is some foreign lottery in either Nigeria or the UK and, doubtful soul that I am, I kind of don't think I ever entered those lotteries anyway, despite those oh so official misspelled emails that come in to my alterego Info. Info is apparently lucky as hell; Felicity, not so much.

Poor S has the cold from hell as does my coworker J. I feel like Typhoid Mary, guilt, guilt. It figures that the only early adapter fashionable thing I can do is colds: I had it first and now everybody is copying me! Sorry about that, y'all. Next time go for the 10 year old leggings look.

However and meanwhile, A is back in town and he has cut a huge hole in the wall between the kitchen and the living room and it looks AWESOME. So that is a win as, I hope, is the duct taped pack of Camels in my purse, since it is the Quit Smoking Plan Day One, whereby I only get 10 cigarettes a day in my special duct taped box for this week and then 9 a day next week and so on until I have quit painlessly and without barely noticing it. Sort of like the idea that you can boil a frog slowly without him noticing - probably just as painless. Yeah. Or the Milo of Crotona thing with the bull - start with the calf, lift it every day, as it grows so will your strength until you are lifting a 700 pound beef on the hoof (who hopefully is still fond of you despite your strange habits) - which I believe does not work either although I have never had occasion to try it. This had better work. I am tired of sore throats and coughing and gasping my way up hills. Goodbye, oh so cool crutch! Goodbye nihilistic punk rock 1940s glamor! Enough of you. We had fun and now, or, well, in 10 weeks, it will all be over.

In other news I had no internet all day at work, which ATT&T swears is our fault and our IT people swear is their fault; eventually, we just gave up and went home. I have no phone at home because Sprint hates me, so there's a sort of almost complete communications breakdown going on here. Oh well. Send a smoke signal or something if you absolutely must contact me; I'll be home for another hour or thereabouts and then going to H's birthday dinner! HAPPY BIRTHDAY H!!! I GOT YOU A VERY AWESOME PRESENT SO YOU HAD BETTER SHOW UP AT YOUR BIRTHDAY DINNER!! And that, I believe, is the news from Riverview.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Another Weekend Survived

Finally it is Sunday night and I regret exceedingly to report that I am almost done with the very last Aubrey/Maturin book: Blue at the Mizzen. I hate hate hate coming to the end of books I love and coming to the end of a whole series of books I adore is just that much worse: now what will I do? What will I do with myself now that I'm not hoisting aloft and belaying a line and beholding a snowy petrel on a great ice mountain as I round the horn? Maybe fix the vacuum cleaner. Also, Netflix, on whom I was relying to fill some gaps by sending me The Tudors, sent me discs 3 and 4 instead of 1 and 2. Not cool, Netflix. I am wroth.

Anyway, it was a pleasant weekend. Yesterday I woke up fairly early and cleaned up the house and then took the QOB, finally recovered from her cold, to the Frugal Framer where they are going to stretch six of her canvases. She actually liked the Frugal Framer and even though she began to balk at the price she told me later that she actually thought it was going to be more. Then we went over to True Blue Art Supplies, best place EVER, and bought some art supplies. It was a pleasant outing and after I took her home I fiddled around and created this drawing, which obviously still has a ways to go but I am kind of fond already of these two beings. I'm planning a big monster mural for the side of the garage and the house and to that end I am going to be drawing a bunch of creatures until I find the ones I want to make huge and big. Look out, neighbors! I also made a whole bunch of little glass tile magnets and then gave some away last night, being as how it was Forcibly Be Reminded of Your Pathetic Single Status Day.

I hate Be Made To Feel Inferior and Inadequate for Being Single Day with the heat of a thousand suns but every year it rolls around like a particularly unpleasant piece of clockwork and this year was no exception. H and my daughter A both brought me chocolate covered strawberries, which sort of softened the blow, but still. So then S & J & I, the leprous singles, and also K & J who kindly went slumming with our leprous single selves, went to Tollivers. We wanted to go to the Admiral, but fuck the Admiral, they had a special Valentines Dinner night and they wouldn't even let us sit at the bar. And there was some kind of benefit going on at the Westville, so creepy Tollivers it was. And Tollivers was duly creepy, particularly when the music started and the bar cleared out like lightning. Then we went on back to S house and today poor S has got a horrible cold. I know this because I left my car at S' last night and walked home at 1:30 in the morning and then went to fetch it this afternoon. I hadn't been for a walk at that hour in a long time and everything was dark and silent and beautiful; it was fun.

Today I have done pretty much nothing. A is in town and he came by and we discussed further plans for the house - the wall comes out this week, yowza yowza, and he got the washing machine working, which I am highly embarrassed to report was a simple matter of turning a valve. Yes, I suck at plumbing. He also gave me a full report on young M, who is pretty much his apprentice and seems to be doing well at it. Young M will soon be Grown Up M, which is sort of terrifying but there you have it: time marches on. So does my waistline and that combined with the fact that I got all winded walking home last night has convinced me: I have to quit smoking and start exercising with a vengeance. So I'm going to quit cigarettes very, very slowly, planning to be all done by early May and I'm totally going to start dieting and really exercising and going to the gym and everything. Tomorrow. Or possibly the day after.

Friday, February 13, 2009

It's Friday and I'm Tired

Well, the week of beer is just about over and my horoscope today told me to diet. That is fairly rude in a horoscope, really - it's supposed to say nice vague things about my nonexistent lovelife, not get all personal with the Lose Some Weight Now Chubbette stuff. Oh well; I'm ignoring it by eating chips from Greenlife and giant cookies leftover from the board meeting last night. That will show you, horoscope! Ha ha!

Yesterday night after the board meeting I went on over to the Asheville Twestival which was a sort of twitter meetup slash charity fundraiser slash networking event slash cheap beer drinking party with silent auction. I have this evil desire to tweet away about how much it sucked just to see how much righteous anger I could stir up among the Asheville twitterers but that would be wrong and anyway, it didn't suck. Well it kind of sucked at first, as many parties do, but we are experienced partygoers, my friends and I, and we stuck it out until the cheap beer kicked in and it got to be quite fun. I actually talked to a few people I didn't know well, which is something of a small triumph for me and a very nice girl gave me a tampon in the ladies room: thank you, generous fellow sufferer in the menstrual wars! They had a machine in there but of course it didn't work - they never do, never - and the coin slots were really skinny, as if it was made for some other form of money that we don't actually have. Anyway, besides the tampax talk, the party was nice. The food was great and there was plenty of it; the beer was, as mentioned twice already (I have my priorities straight) cheap; the music was good and I won a T-shirt & bottle of hot sauce from some BBQ place called Smokin' Js at the silent auction. And then we all went on over to S' house and drank more beer and played "music" which was totally fun but I am, again, tired today.

Oh and I have breaking political news: my friend G is running for city council and I actually gave him some money, my first ever political contribution, so y'all had better vote for him. I don't care if you live here or not; mail it in or something. He will be awesome on city council and he lives in my neighborhood and we can bug him to put in a light at that ridiculous corner where Haywood does its 90 degree turn thing and I fear for my life every day. Also, speed bumps on Riverview, abolishment of annoying people, open source hemp fields on Patton Avenue and some other great things I can't think of right now since I'm too damn tired.

I was tired yesterday too because the meeting with beer I had at the Westville rapidly turned into more of a beer with meeting if you know what I mean. Well, some weeks are like this and actually it beats the pants off staying home with the flu and being miserable. It's even better than staying home and being psychologically tormented by my cat and that's saying something. But now I am tired as hell and I have a sad feeling that all the lime flavored expensive hippie potato chips in the world are not going to wake me up. Ah well. My friend J just called to say that she's not up for our usual Friday Broadways beer drinking ladies night, thank Dionysus, and I will cling to the vain hope that the animals will let me sleep past 8:00 tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Paranoia the Destroyah

It is one of those weeks when I have to drink beer every night. Such things happen once in a while and when they do there is nothing for it but to plunge straight ahead and remind yourself that you really don't need a waistline anymore anyway and isn't that a relief? Thus it is that on Sunday night S & I walked from her house to the Admiral for a couple beers (the walking burned off the calories) and then on Monday I had work to do at home which necessitated the drinking of a couple of beers while I stuffed and stapled (you can't stuff and staple alcohol free, for pity's sake) and last night, which was purely going to be a virtuous night, A came over to eat dinner, chat, check her email and make crafts. Tonight, or, actually in like an hour, I must be at the Westville for a meeting (yeah, yeah, it is a meeting, a meeting with beer!) and then tomorrow night is the hideously named Twestival that I am determined to go to in case I get to meet some new friendly geeks as well as the geeks I already know who are going to be there. Plus it's for a good cause. You should go too. I'm still trying to figure out what to wear.

However, that is just a week of beer and not what I was going to blog about at all, which was paranoia. Every time A comes over we seem to manage to work ourselves into a small yet vaguely justified paranoid frenzy. Last week we heard some mysterious thumps right outside and then Theo barked like crazy, so we were convinced there was a burglar out there. He kept on making random thump noises for a while and finally I pointed out that if somebody really was coming in to stalk or burgle or cut you up into little bits, they wouldn't fuck around with making thump noises for an hour or two first. No self respecting psychopath bothers with a whole hour of thumping unless there are a fair amount of teenagers to be gone through first and my house is currently rather delightfully teenager free (although I am missing young M something fierce lately and am ready for him to come home; I wouldn't even mind his friends, no, seriously.)

Last night my worries centered first around the furnace and then around the cat. It got really hot in the house for some reason so I started fretting that the washing machine (R2 as we affectionately call it for its plaintive beeps) had been somehow hooked up not to the hot water pipes that run hot water to the sinks and tub and dishwasher but to the hot water pipes that heat the house. This, I think, would be very bad. I also think it might be impossible or at least supposed to be impossible but at my house, which has a creepy control room so you can watch whatever is going on in the glass room (just in case it's too inconvenient to stand outside any one of its walls which are, you know, made of GLASS) anything is possible. Anyway, the furnace, which goes through propane at a ridiculous rate anyway and has been mysteriously a lot louder lately, has been on my mind a lot, as in, I hope it doesn't either blow up or give me carbon monoxide poisoning or just die: I do not trust my furnace. Therefore, last night when there was a sudden extremely strong smell of propane - well, propane or fuel oil or kerosene, something like that anyway - I went into full paranoia mode and so did A. We went all over inside and outside the house sniffing like beagles but the strange smell vanished as quickly as it had arrived, so who knows? My nose was starting to hurt with all the sniffing and I just gave up and concentrated on the brain cell destroying odor of the A 600 glue we were using for our crafts.

A pointed out that I should get a new furnace, because I worry about mine too much. "Yes," I said, "But remember, I am neurotic."
"Oh right" she said, and we left it at that, which is good because then Pebble got out by wiggling through the screen and she didn't come back until 3:30 this morning, which time I mostly filled by lying in bed thinking about how sad I was going to be when I found her small cat corpse and wondering if the thumping psycho from the other night was still around and would notice the door being open so Pebble could get back in and then wondering why it was that I have dogs who, while they would totally notice another dog trying to break in, would probably not even worry about a person unless they made the mistake of knocking loudly on the door and yelling "Anybody home?" really loud. Ah well.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Car Washes and Dark City

Yesterday, I washed my car. Not only did I wash my car (here's the thing: I can't actually remember the last time I washed my car. And by can't actually remember, I mean that as far as I can tell, it's been more than two years. Possibly quite a lot more than two years.) but I went to one of those vacuum machine things and cleaned the whole damn thing out and vacuumed it. I can't get over it, which I grant you has a certain pathetic quality to it but here I am, driving around in my car (not at this exact moment in time; friends don't let friend drive while blogging) and it's clean and I can see out of all the windows. It's comparatively clean even though I did take the dogs to the river this morning and then drove their soaking muddy selves back home, sigh. And, as you can tell from the masterpiece on the right, there, I took pictures in the carwash. That has to reach some hitherto unrealized level of dorkdom in my life, right there.

Last night I watched the movie Dark City. It was really pretty good and nicely creepy and I liked it, so that was fun and Pebble & Theo & I sat there and enjoyed it while I worked on yet another hideous knitted hat that nobody will ever want. If you don't know this movie, it's a sort of sci fi type dark dark movie where it turns out that basically everyone is living in a horrific alien experiment - sort of like the Matrix except without Keanu Reeves and martial arts. There are still long leather coats, though, so all good, and also William Hurt, with whom I am somewhat in love, even more, frankly, than I am in love with Keanu, who I have not loved wholeheartedly since Bill & Ted. Then I came upstairs to go to sleep and as I sat on my bed I looked over at the poster of the Buddha which has been on my bedroom wall since time immemorial and freaked way the hell out because there was no Buddha there. The frame was there and it said Cheap Poster Frames something something in big letters and I thought, oh holy shit, my memories have been replaced and/or somebody crept in and stole my Buddha poster right out of its cheap poster frame which is pretty fucking weird no matter how you cut it and oh my god I guess this means I'm living in some kind of creepy noir sci fi film now: I always suspected as much.

After I had calmed down, however, I remembered that I live in a house inhabited by strange beings, in particular a strange being named Pebble who has recently become unduly fascinated by framed posters on the wall. I know this because she's been trying hard to get my other framed poster (which is one I got from Qoop, of this image and which looks, btw, amazing, so amazing that actually it's almost tacky because you can't tell that I made it and it looks kind of like I went to Ikea and bought a poster) off the wall. So what she apparently did was work hard all day to get the bottom part of the frame off - these are those super cheap poster frames that just have plastic strips all around holding them together - and then the poster, which was just on top of the old label in the cheap frame, slid gently down and behind the bookshelf which is, in fact, exactly where it was. Well. Either that or my memories have been replaced by aliens in long black coats.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Oh Cheese, Thy Name is the Sci Fi Channel

I have had a very lovely peaceful weekend, slightly upset by a phone call Friday night from M. He is okay. Everyone is okay, however, it was a bit traumatic for me: the boy is growing up and there would appear to be little or nothing I can do about it. I would vastly prefer that he was swaddled in cotton wool and safely ensconced on some remote island inhabited only by saints, but unfortunately he's in East Baltimore living the tough life. It's good for him, I know it is, but oh, lord, do I worry. Then, because I'm still working my way through Patrick O'Brian, I remind myself that if this was 200 years ago he would have been at sea already for 9 years or so. I also remind myself that while I may drink too much, I totally do not drink as much as a British naval officer in 1809. Nowhere near. Why I find these reflections comforting, I couldn't tell you but there you are.

Last night I settled down in front of the TV to watch a movie. I have several Netflix movies waiting for me but I had some vague idea that there was something actually on TV that I wanted to watch and lo, I was not disappointed: there was a Sci Fi Channel original movie loosely based on Journey to the Center of the Earth only not Victorian and involving an entire small military group of young women in revealing, sweat soaked wife beaters. Actually, the whole production was apparently secretly funded by the wife beater lobby: that's all anyone was wearing. The wife beater lobby ran out of money about three quarters of the way through the movie, too, and they went quickly from tyrannosaurs and pterodactyls to really, really lame giant spiders. I'm always delighted to find out that there are open savannas and mountains and entire vistas that look a lot like southern California deep in the center of the earth and of course, they're always populated by dinosaurs who apparently fell down there at some point. After all, why not? This one was strangely devoid of freaky human tribes practicing human sacrifice, though, which was a sad oversight, and there was only one river of lava. Lame.

I got comfortable enough to watch the first half of the next movie, too: it was all about some future corporation trying to colonize a remote planet for nefarious motives. The planet was named Oxygen, which I guess will happen in a few years when the names ABC, CNN and Lifetime are already used up. It also looked a whole lot like southern California except that the monsters were all just giant bears. Giant bears suck as monsters, I must say. I find it difficult to really get into blowing bears away and, while I too have a sensible fear of bears, they are still cute, no matter what you do. Anyway, since they never showed the humans and the bears in the same shot, I couldn't quite grasp the giantness of them no matter how many badly written lines emphasized their enormous size and scariness. It might almost make you believe that the whole reason for the movie was that someone had lucked into a whole lot of free bear footage and thus decided to fulfill a lifelong dream: a movie that cut from bear growling to head flying off and rolling down a slope (that was pretty cool and so was the part where the bear swiped the guy's whole midsection out and he just stood there like a Cylon for a few minutes with a photoshopped hole where his side used to be.)

I don't know why I like these movies so much - they're abysmal and even to my non scientific ear, I can tell that they make no sense. "The laser is set to alternate cold and hot which builds up an incredible oscillation which eats it's way through solid rock and lava with no problem!" Huh? What? No. No, sorry, not even an art major will agree with that one. "This entire planet/cavern beneath the earth that looks just like the Hollywood Hills is inhabited by predators only with absolutely no prey species apparent!" Yeah, I don't think so. That many big predators argue that you'd see at least a squirrel or something. "Giant cave bears hunted in packs and their only predator was prehistoric man!" Nope, no, they didn't. "This bear is a cub!" No it isn't. No, it's a sad old bear skin you got from the props closet and the whole muzzle is full of white hair, you idiots. And there you go, I think I just summed up why I like bad movies so very, very much.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Me and Mr. Clean

Last night I cleaned the kitchen and bathroom. Yeah, okay, this is not an earth shattering experience and not all THAT rare, even - although back in the day if I started cleaning up my son would excitedly ask me who was coming over - but I would just like to take this opportunity to shamelessly shill for Mr. Clean. Mr. Clean is The Man, y'all, he is The Shit, he is as a god with his cute little twinkly earring and all. Mr. Clean works. He gets the floor actually clean, which is way more than can be said for the hippy green cleaner I used last time, and his magic erasers actually erase stuff off the stove and all in all my kitchen is so clean that I probably shouldn't ever go into it again. Ditto the bathroom. The rest of the house, not so much, but perhaps this weekend I will find the strength to fix the fucking vacuum cleaner AGAIN and get everything all sparkly nice.

In other news I'm still coughing and blowing my nose and so is the QOB. I went over there yesterday morning to see how she was faring in our 2" of snow blizzard and while she is better, she is also still coughing and blowing her nose. I gave her some turkey casserole and a couple of chocolate banana cookies and she was happy. One of these days I am fairly confident that this sickness will all just be an unpleasant memory (she said while knocking nervously on wood.) This is a good thing when you consider that last week, while I was confident of living in my house for the rest of my life, it seemed eminently possible that the rest of my life would be, like, 36 hours long. Barring the unforeseen proverbial runaway bus type thing, I think now it might be more like 36 years. Well, maximum anyway.

Oh and the washer and dryer are working, almost! The dryer is perfect. The washer is unhappy because there is no cold water going into it. Why is there no cold water going into it? I do not know; it's just another one of those plumbing mysteries. It's a fairly important and annoying plumbing mystery, because I tend to dress in persnickety black cotton clothes that respond to hot water by becoming 1/2 their original size, which is really bad for somebody who has been making way too many cookies lately but I think it is a solvable and please please not too expensive problem. However, my amateur opinion is that it probably will involve cutting more holes in the drywall where we cut holes before. Perhaps I should just give up on having drywall at all and call that whole area a plumbing art installation.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Another Snow Day!

pebbles first snow 2
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I love this winter. Well, okay, I don't love the fact that it's been less than 20 degrees way too much but I do love all the fabulous snow days we're getting and how they remind me of what winter used to be like in these here mountains back before Al Gore invented the intertubes and global warming or something. I may have my facts a bit muddled on that. I might love winter a bit more too now that I live in a house with this modern thing called insulation, of which I had previously been completely ignorant. Insulation: it's not just for suckers after all! Who knew?

Last night was perfect, too, because I actually really knew that it was going to be a snow day - it was hard not to, what with all the, you know, snow - and S came over and we drank some beers and I made cookies, the recipe for which will be at the bottom of this post. They are amazingly good cookies. It is an amazingly good snow day: I have just made an executive decision to stay in my pajamas. In theory I would like to take the dogs out for a walk and take lots of pictures but in reality, fuck that. It's cold out there and I am not taking off my fleecy bathrobe and leopard print slippers, no, not even for art or dogs.

Speaking of dogs, on Sunday A & I went shoe shopping (I bought some amazing boots I can't afford and I love them) and on the way back on Brevard Road we fell madly in love. The car next to us at the light was an old white car with a bumper sticker that said "My mastiff is smarter than your honor student" and the mastiff in question was just completely beautiful and grinning happily out the window at us with this huge giant happy mastiff grin. Even better, the owner of the car in question had a shaved head and the wrinkles on the back of his neck exactly matched the wrinkles on the back of the dog's head and A & I were just completely tickled by this guy and his lovely beat old car and his wonderful dog. Then, unfortunately, the light turned green and he proceeded to drive like an asshole. Damn, dude. You had two women ready to marry you for the sake of your dog and you had to speed off and weave in and out of traffic on Brevard Road of all places? Bah.

However, here it is another fabulous snow day; everything is white; I might just do something weird like grab an icicle and take close up pictures of it on a piece of black velvet, or possibly not. And here are the cookies, because it is cold outside and you need an extra layer of fat to combat it. Yes, yes, you do and besides these have fruit in them which automatically means they are in fact good for you.

These are adapted from an old book by Maida Heatter. She is a genius but extremely anal. I am not so anal; therefore, these cookies are way easier to make than hers.

6 oz semi sweet chocolate
2 cups + 2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 or 3 very ripe bananas
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs

She also adds white chocolate chunks and walnuts and the note from my friend in the margin of this ancient recipe says to add some chocolate chips as well. I did none of these things. The cookies were great.

* Oven: 375.
* Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil. Maida says to use 2 cookie sheets on top of each other but, yeah, right. I am not bothering with that.
* Combine the dry ingredients. You should probably sift them. I did not bother with that either, given that I made these on a beer drinking it's gonna be a snow day tomorrow night.
* Melt the chocolate. Note: wash the spoon & bowl afterwards if you nuke it. I woke up this morning to a perfectly impregnable chocolate covered spoon.
* Mix the softened butter, sugar, vanilla & bananas.
* Add the melted chocolate. Mix.
* Add the eggs. Mix.
* Add the dry ingredients. Mix just until it's all together.
* Add the chips & nuts & chunks if you're going there.
* Use an ice cream scoop to put the cookies on the cookie sheets. Yes, they are very huge. Make sure they're at least 2" apart.
* REFRIGERATE THEM FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES. Even I did not skip this step. You must not either or they will just sort of gooily melt and then what will you do?
* Bake for like 20 minutes. They're done when their tops sort of spring back when you touch them. Careful, here, because they have a short window between underdone and burnt bottom.

They are huge and amazingly delicious. Yum snow & cookies!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Snow and Laundry

I was hoping to have a gritty, urban, snowy type photo up here but unfortunately the gritty, urban, snowy photo I took yesterday at the loading dock where I smoke on Mondays just looked stupid and you couldn't see the snow. You couldn't see the snow all night, actually, probably because there wasn't any. I have higher hopes for the snow tonight, except that everybody is all hopeful about it and that usually means it won't happen. As long as it doesn't disrupt the delivery of my washer and dryer, I do not really care. Yes, I am shallow and consumerist and all those bad things, but fuck off, whatever, I am going to be doing laundry in my own home tonight! It's completely pathetic how excited I am about that but hey, you have to figure that it's going to cut way down on the time I spend sitting at the Westville drinking PBR while the laundry tumbles across the street and that has to be good. Right?

Meanwhile, I'm still sniffling and coughing but it's really not that bad anymore. I'm better, basically. Thank the gods. I was going insane - god help the world if I ever become a serious invalid; I don't take well to it - and also, staying bed all week made me finally notice that my house is right on the road and my bedroom is right at the front of my house and, hmmm, maybe it's time for some new blinds. So on Sunday I put up a bunch of pebbly plastic film on the window glass that's supposed to block the view and which sort of does. I cut it in a nice curvy mountainy shape at the top, too, which made me feel crafty and creative. It doesn't really block much, though, just enough so that I can't tell if there's snow on the ground in the mornings, which is a drag, and, I guess, it makes me look far more attractive. When you're as old as I am, a blurry amorphous shape is really all you want anyone ever to see. I should walk around with a whole pebbly glass shield at all times. I also put up new bamboo Roman shades (the Romans, apparently, were way into these things. No vinyl mini blinds for Cassius Caesar!) which are probably less curious eye blocking than the damn ugly vinyl mini blinds were, plus they took me several hours of cursing to put up. However, they look classy as hell. Classy is good. Classy is what we are aiming for, here at the new house with the pink flamingos and the troll dolls in their broken purple reflecting ball and all. Super classy.