Saturday, January 31, 2009

And The Cold Does Not Falter

Here I am after 9 fucking days of this worst cold in the history of my personal universe. I swear, this is exactly what I feel and look like now and you don't even want to know what I sound like as I trundle wearily around the house trying to summon up the energy to get into the shower and get myself over to Lowes where I am going to by god buy a brand new washer and dryer so that I can bid farewell to the laundromat forever. Somehow, though, I can't seem to get out the door, probably because I have to cough up - redacted; you don't want to know what I'm coughing up and neither do I - and then make horrible glorp florp eeegghrr hrungh noises and glare at myself in the mirror and possibly, just possibly, pick a bit at the peeling chapped skin all around my nose, or what's left of my nose. It is just fun fun fun around here where we are busily reenacting Asheville's past as a grim 19th century tuberculosis sanitarium and at any minute I fully intend to put on some kind of scary 19th century outfit and fling myself across a chaise a la La Boheme, except that I can't get my Victorian clothes on over my giant tentacular self. Hrumph glorbe eeecklhrgjum.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I Own My House

i own my house
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Well, I'm still sick - in fact, celebrating the other night made me far, far sicker and I'm deeply ashamed of myself to boot, but more on that later. For right now, I'd just like to say: I OWN MY HOUSE! IT IS ALL MINE AND NOBODY CAN TAKE IT AWAY FROM ME UNLESS I DO SOMETHING REALLY MONUMENTALLY STUPID - EVEN MORE STUPID THAN USUAL LIKE NOT PAY MY TAXES OR FILL IT UP WITH DRUGS I MEAN MORE THAN USUAL OR, ACTUALLY, I GUESS THAT'S IT! So now I can do whatever the hell I want and since I think I want murals, hee, watch out neighbors. Yes. Murals and more gardens and yay, hurray, my god, what a long impossible insane thing this has been.

It only - only! hah! - took six months from initial offer to final settlement. I haven't been blogging much about it because I was afraid I would either jinx something or get sued - my temper ran rather high there a few times - and so only a very few people know the whole story. I was also afraid because one psychic told me that I would never live here and another psychic told me that if I lived here it would be nothing but terrible horrible endless lawsuits forever, so all I have done has been flying in the face of psychic advice and even the I Ching was not completely helpful.

It is a long story and I don't really feel like telling the whole thing, but in synopsis form, I offered to buy this house in July, the offer was accepted, the deal fell through the day before the closing in September due to several unpaid mortgages that the seller had sort of forgotten to mention. Well. Then there was much flurrying about by everyone while the agents attempted to mastermind something called a short sale, which is when you get the banks to accept a bit less money than they are actually owed in the interests of the damn deal being closed. In the middle of this, as you no doubt recall, the economy collapsed. You would think that this would make the banks more anxious to close deals but alas, you would be wrong. It just threw everything into even more confusion. The banks were slow and horrible and every day the numbers changed.

In October, I talked at great length with a lawyer and then I went ahead and moved into my house with an odd lease which put all my "rent" money into an escrow account so it could be used against the purchase of the house. And I got ready to buy the house on the courthouse steps in that delightfully medieval ceremony called a foreclosure auction. For the next several months there were occasional sudden bursts of activity on the part of the banks but nothing ever amounted to anything and frankly, I had given up hope. In the middle of all this I got several sets of foreclosure papers which scared me since it was always possible that I could suddenly get evicted and, in fact, if I went to the auction and got outbid, I'd be summarily kicked out. I am not a gambler by nature - no, I have every other damn vice in the world, but not that one so much.

However, this did not come to pass, because 48 hours before the foreclosure auction was scheduled to take place, both the involved banks suddenly announced that yeah, okay, they would take the short sale, but it had to happen by the end of the day or their offer would no longer stand. Yes, that is ridiculous but there you have it and everyone ran around like a maniac, including me, newly risen from my sickbed and heavily medicated. I went off downtown to the banks and to the lawyer's office clutching my kleenex and there I found my friend and real estate agent D who gave me a big package with nifty glasses and a bottle of vodka in it and the seller's agent who gave me a bottle of wine and the paralegal, who gave me a cup of coffee and a lot of papers to sign. And they took all my money away and wired it to these banks and ta da, ta da, that was it and the house actually finally totally and truly belongs to me.

I duly went out and celebrated with friends and of course I hadn't eaten all day or really for a couple of days and so drinking very heavily was very dumb and I hereby apologize for my total drunkenness and general revelry and oh god, oh god, I paid for it yesterday, oh yes I did and it wasn't until about 4:00 that I was well enough to walk the dogs down the hill to the Admiral and get my car. Huge thanks to J who carried me home and to my long suffering friends for being there and yes, yes I have, I swear, learned my lesson. And as soon as the weather warms up, I'm painting big murals, hurrah.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Not Better Yet

They might as well bring around the dead cart: I'm apparently not going to get better. I've tried everything - emergen-C, homeopathic ColdCalm, Zicam, echinacea tea, gypsy cold care tea, lots of water, lots of juice, sudafed, ibuprofen, tussin cough syrup, robitussin night time cough and cold, nyquil, breathing in boiling steam laced with Vicks, squirting saline through my sinuses - and nothing works. I can't sleep and I can't breathe and this is completely horrible and, what's worse, I might run out of kleenex soon, which would be completely disastrous. That's four boxes gone through since Friday. Four. I have watched Jurassic Park 2 and the first four episodes of Day of the Triffids and I have finished a really terribly hideous hat and I have reread the first two volumes of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin books (which reminded me that I was then, am now and ever shall be in love with Stephen Maturin) and I have watched the clock slowly, slowly tick over from 3 am to 4 to 5 and then do it again 12 hours later. And I still feel like death on a stick. I would like to lodge a protest with whoever invented colds, the flu or whatever fucking terrible germ thing I have right now: this is too much and unfair.

N.B. In keeping with my my naval reading habits (I'm onto the third book now) and general early 19th century malaise - I believe I feel a touch of pleurisy coming on, galloping, galloping, oh my word - I'm treating myself with rum, since I'm unclear on what, exactly, grog is. The rum is helping. The kleenex situation may be becoming dire. And I gave the dogs each a bone and the cat some plastic balls with bells in them to reward them for being good while I've been on my deathbed - or, which is more to the point, bribe them to please, for the love of god, stay good while I'm on the deathbed. They haven't been entirely good, because the cat is often bored and when she is bored she likes to stand on my stomach and wail and when I throw her off the bed she simply takes up position on the dresser (tactically situated out of range of flying wadded kleenex and bad unfinished fantasy novels) and wails some more. She doesn't much like the plastic balls with bells in, either. She wants a bone, because the dogs have one, even though it wouldn't keep her interest long. The dogs are opposed to her having a bone and actually, they'd like to have those balls, just on the off chance that the cat was getting something worthwhile. Poor dogs. I am a bad dog mom. If they were kids I could just let them explode their brains with bad TV, but it's harder with dogs. Django watched me squirt salt water into my nose over the sink with fascination and barked at me for doing it, which was interesting. Maybe someday I'll walk them again.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Still Really Sick

Well, that's a weekend blown into kleenex. I'm still really sick. Sicker than I've been in months. Sick enough to lie in bed miserably clutching my kleenex and whimper. Bah. I've been having weird fever dreams and strange thoughts too, of course, and here they are. I think I made them up. I'm not entirely sure, but I think they came straight out of my subconscious. Or hell, or something.

1. A long conversation with my friend G in which he told me that he'd never known the name of the NC state senator. "He's been senator forever," said G dismissively, "Why would I bother? That's like homework. I never know any of that stuff."

2. A long essay I wrote about the horrific sexism and dearth of female role models in science fiction and fantasy throughout the sixties, seventies and the first half of the eighties. Partly in response to a metafilter thread about Dave Sim and Cerebus, who for some reason I feel compelled to defend and partly to point out again to a whole new bunch of indignant nerds that there is only one woman in the first three Star Wars movies, yes, fuck you, one and doesn't that seem a little unjust?

3. Summerproofing my house: it can be done with space age materials.

4. If I burn all the blankets and furniture, perhaps all the germs will die. But is that too drastic?

5. Is my cat the most annoying cat in the universe or only the second most annoying? Should I get another cat to keep her occupied? Should I saw a hole in my bedroom door? Why is the cat tormenting me so? Why does the dog keep farting under the bed and waking me up? Why am I out of dog kibble and what can I do about that? Can I make it to Ingles? No. No, I cannot.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It Finally Got Me

You know how I said this cold just wasn't getting any better but it wasn't getting any worse? Well, it didn't get any better, this is true. But now I'm really sick and it's Saturday and my Netflix movies - I am awaiting Jurassic Park 2 and Day of the Triffids, because that's just the sort of overly intellectual cinephile I truly am - aren't here yet and I just spent over $100 on sickroom supplies which is completely unfair. Then I had to get the computer up so I could check to see if Lexapro was an MAOI inhibitor or not (it's not, I think) to see if I could even take any of those sickroom supplies, to wit, cough syrup and sudafed. And, from earthfare, lemon ginger echinacea stuff and homeopathic cold calm and more emergen-C and some sushi and oatmeal raisin cookies because nothing else in the world seems edible, somehow. Also, and this is so embarrassing, I just realized I'm almost out of cigarettes and since, obviously, I am way too sick to be smoking, I can't bring myself to beg somebody to bring me some and yet I don't think I can get myself out of the house again either. Ick.

I'm reading some dreary detective novel starring Ambrose Bierce and laced with turn of the last century Hawiian history. This is only interesting because I just finished another, better book - The Bones of Time - that is also focused on Hawaii. Very random and synchronous and a bit odd when you consider that previous to this almost my total knowledge and background on Hawaii was the Brady Bunch episode where they go there. Possibly about 15 minutes of Don Ho one time when I was really stoned and 15 years old. So Hawaii. Well. Whatever.

I'm going back to bed. I hate being sick on Saturdays when the rest of the world, or the part of it that isn't at Earthfare clogging up the aisles, is walking by the house with their dogs enjoying the nice weather.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yeah We Did

Well, in case you've just come out of your cave high in the Himalayas, we have a new president and I, for one, am completely thrilled. Yesterday, I did not have to go to work because Obama, with his mighty powers, ensured that it would snow and get icy and really cold in Asheville and thus I got a snow day, weather be praised. Therefore I was able to sit in the newly habitable downstairs TV room and watch about an hour and a half of the inauguration which made me feel very citizenish and virtuous and also teared me up a bit. I also got worried about everyone in the cold without hats - 80% of your body heat, people. 80%! - and wondered if I mailed the hat I was knitting to the White House whether somebody would ever wear it but I decided that the symbolism was a little heavy handed - it's a black and white striped hat - and I'm totally sick of all the symbolism/race/etc stuff. Yes, it is a historic occasion and now if we could all just move on and stop pointing it out I would be thrilled.

Well, they seem to have survived the whole inauguration without hats at any rate. My GOD it is nice to have people you like and respect in the White House and also my god, was there ever a first lady who disappeared into the woodwork like Laura Bush and what the hell is the backstory there, she really is a Stepford wife or what? and also also my god, I really hope I never have to see the Avatar of Evil, aka Dick Cheney ever again; how is it that being in a wheelchair, which would elicit sympathy for any human person, only makes him even creepier?

Then in the afternoon I went over the laundromat with the five giant bags and baskets of laundry I had accumulated by cleaning the downstairs. The laundromat was packed and, what is worse, it was packed with coughing, sniffling children. So I got the washers going and beat a hasty retreat across the street to the bar where they were showing the inaugural parade and yet again I managed to get teary eyed and just a little indignant about their lack of hats. I mean, my children have had this hat thing dinned into them for years. Was it all for naught? Am I wrong here? Whatever, the Obamas both looked so wonderful walking together. You know, I've never watched an inauguration before or paid any attention to it whatsoever but there you have it: there's never been a president and first lady I felt this way about before either. Oh and my entire house is sparkling clean and all my laundry is done and, hey, I am ready for the new administration.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cleaning Teenage Wasteland

The weekend has somehow come and gone and every time I look out the window to admire the snow and subtly encourage it to keep on coming and snow the city in tomorrow it stops falling, so I have closed the blinds. I feel like I've achieved a lot this weekend, which is completely not true: all I've really gotten done is the cleaning of Teenage Wasteland in the basement which was, admittedly, a Herculean task and full of socks. There were socks everywhere. Every stroke of the broom brought out more socks. At any rate it's done now and young M, when he comes back from Baltimore (where he is apparently doing well, although it's hard to tell from his monosyllabic phone calls) will be shocked. There's a real living room and a real bedroom down there. With posters on the wall and organized furniture and made beds and a dresser full of his clothes and everything.

Not just posters, either, but also a strange and slightly disturbing fabric applique piece from Haiti that the QOB found at the thrift shop for 98 cents and gave me this morning. It says on the back in sharpie cursive on a piece of cotton that it is La Femme de Damballah par Hector Hippolyte, realize par someone whose name I have forgotten at the Centre d'Art et Couture in Haiti. It's a snake. With a face and wings and, after googling Damballah, I'm thinking perhaps I should put a small cup of rum and an egg down there for it so Damballah doesn't get mad at me. I'm also a little worried that all the teenagers hanging out down there will get pregnant - Damballah is a life force god and snakes are an old, old fertility symbol, of course, thanks Sigmund - which will be way entertaining because they are pretty much all boys. Perhaps I should leave a bowl of condoms on the coffee table - now that it's clean down there, they might actually be able to get some girls to visit. I also dug out all my old masks (the ones I've painted) and hung them on the wall in the other room, which should discourage girls - and houseguests and, well, pretty much everyone - rather effectively since en masse they're a bit scary.

Let's see, what else happened this weekend? J & S & I went to Broadways Friday evening; then S came over here; A was depressed but cheered up; my brother & C & I all met to discuss the QOB and talked about how thrilled we are by her recent progress and I went to a lovely dinner party at J & K's. Oh, and I got two fabulous new to me chairs and I am all patting myself on the back for having a great eye for mid century design and stuff because it turns out that they are these chairs. They have Knoll labels that say 1979 on them and I'm pretty sure that that's the original upholstery as well. Now my living rooms are both elegant in their own ways and I even dragged my mother's cast iron lounge chair out of the yard and into the solarium and then I lay on it and listened to Jethro Tull and watched the snow fall and cracked up at how very 70s everything is becoming around me in this house.

Friday, January 16, 2009


It is ridiculously cold here. Twelve, in fact. Zero this morning. You already know that, but I feel compelled to add my voice to the frozen chorus of stunned Ashevilleins. Yesterday since young M has gone off to Baltimore to seek his fortune or something (and I miss him horribly, already) I was faced with the quandary of what to do with the dogs in the sub 20s (look, we're nominally in the South. Sub 20s is to us as sub zero is to more winter hardened Yankee types) weather. I opted to leave them outside and fret about them all day, even though they have a covered porch, an even more sheltered spot on that porch under a big table, the remnants of an old sleeping bag and my mother's ugly summer bedspread to curl up on. I felt horribly guilty even so and when I got home I was all freaking out and afraid that they would either be small frozen dog mummies like the Iceman or at the very least have frostbite. They were fine, if exhausted, and Theo was acting all tragic, which effect he achieves by holding his treat getting paw up pathetically, but they were fine. I couldn't live through the angst again, though, so today they're in the house while I'm at the office for the afternoon and I'm just hoping that I won't go home to shredded mayhem. Oh please, oh please, but I couldn't leave them outside when the thermometer was sitting there at zero.

Because it is so cold, I'm having something of a fashion conundrum that is compounded by the fact that I haven't done laundry in a little too long. There were some vague rumblings that sounded like I might finally actually own my house (one of these days I will explain this whole mess, but not today) and since I have sworn that the first thing I'm going to do when that happens is get my own washer and dryer, I delayed on the weekly laundromat trip. Also I'm lazy. And cold. At any rate, I solved this clothing problem by staying in my pajamas on Wednesday and on Thursday, wearing my purple woolly argyle tights under an ankle length black skirt with several layers over it. I have come to the conclusion, by the way, that I am just too old to wear purple argyle woolly tights out in the open where they are visible. It's a sad but true fact of life. They're incredibly comfortable and warm though, so under the skirt they go. Today, I was a bit stymied but finally layered myself satisfactorily in heavy tights and heavy thigh high woolly socks over those and a heavy dress and a sweater and Aunt Claire's coral beads and so on. Then I bethought myself of my ankle length black coat. Did you know I had an ankle length black coat? No? I tend to forget it myself. It is soft and fleece and sort of shapeless and very warm and, as noted, ankle length and black except for all the cat & dog hair. I put it on and looked in the mirror. Apparently I've never looked at myself in the mirror while wearing this coat before. I looked like the Angel of Death and/or an escapee from an extremely Goth sanitarium in a very cold country, possibly Mars. So it is still in the closet collecting a new coat of fur because, honestly, downtown Asheville is weird enough without the Angel of Death - a soft, fuzzy, shapeless Angel of Death but still - striding around in it.

In other news, young M is in Baltimore, A is recovering from her kidney infection just fine, I am all better from my cold although I had a really hard time waking up this morning which was weird but may have had something to do with the very, uh, interesting dream I was having about somebody named Bernie, and I don't even know anyone named Bernie. I think I'm turning into that Charles deLint character whose dream life is more real and more interesting than her waking life. Scratch that. I think I've been her for a while now. O has returned safely to California, my brother N is moving to Albuquerque, the QOB's heat has been fixed and Pebble is completely fascinated by the printer. Oh and I still hate Facebook but there it is, inescapable.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

snowy morning through the bathroom skylight

It's A's birthday again and it would be a wonderful day except for the fact that she has a bad kidney infection and I have some kind of horrible cold virus type thing. So it's the infirmary around here and even the fact that it was a snow day didn't really lift our spirits. I managed to stagger as far as the bathroom skylight to take this groundbreaking photograph and I even took a couple out the living room window before I went back to bed. I've been fighting this cold for days and today I lost - it sucked, because before today I'd been naively thinking how great it would be to be sick and stay home without guilt. I forgot about how the being sick part is just not fun by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm better off than poor A, who spent half the night in the emergency room last night and is now on massive scary drugs which have us both all worried because we made the inevitable and tragic mistake of reading the side effects on the package from the drug store. The terrifying side effects - oh, excuse me a second -

"Are you having any suicidal thoughts yet?"
"Yeah, a few."

Good, she's normal. Everyone has suicidal thoughts on their birthday even if they aren't on suicidal thought inducing drugs like this one. Anyway, the terrifying side effects package also mentions that this is a good drug for anthrax, which is handy to know and, which is unsettling, that it shouldn't be taken by kidney patients. We are unsure then, if it should have been given to A who has, after all, a serious kidney infection. Naturally, by the time we figured this out - I had to get out of my pajamas at last and take A to the drugstore to fill her prescription and then we had to stop at the used furniture/slot car race track place on Haywood to check out this red velvet chair I'd had my eye on (and by the way, that place is excellent and has great stuff and I recommend it highly) it was too late to call and ask the doctor WTF she was thinking. A is going to see her tomorrow, though, so with a little luck all will be put right and she won't commit suicide or start bleeding from various orifices or have her tendons dissolve. We hope.

To cheer her up, I'm taking her and her boyfriend out to that creepy Frank Sinatra themed restaurant in South Asheville. I wanted something dark so nobody could see me with my flu-ish pallor and knotted hair from crawling in and out of bed and A, who is staying in her pajamas, didn't want to run into anyone she knew either. It is tough to celebrate birthdays when one is ill but we are going to do it, by god. I didn't go through 24 hours of labor 26 years ago to just sit idly by with my suicidal thoughts, sniffly nose, sore throat and general malaise. By god, no. We'll eat out if it kills us. Just not somewhere anyone might see us.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday and So

I was going to go to bed, but young M is leaving for Baltimore in the middle of the night and we have ascertained that there is apparently no way to keep the music that's already on his used iPod there and also add new music to it. By no way I mean that I tried my utmost for about 40 minutes and gave up frustrated. I suppose it is possible. Barely. But considering that he was asking me this yesterday while I was making food for the big Capricorn birthday party at the QOBs and simultaneously scrubbing the bathroom, it didn't happen. That is why I am now sitting here importing all his CDs into his very own iTunes. I am not a big iTunes or iPod fan, actually, at the moment for while I love my iPod, I have also noticed that it flat refuses to play all my old MP3s and I am angry. That is a whole nother story.

Meanwhile, my stepcousin O is here. She is extremely awesome and, just as I had feared, far more glamorous than me. That is okay. It is not, after all, much of a stretch to be more glamorous than me and she manages it with total aplomb and also she is completely cool and very fun and even smokes cigarettes and wickedly disapproves of the American edicts against smoking inside. In short: I like her enormously. So we have had big fun and even took the QOB to Earthfare where we discovered this great natural makeup that O likes which led to all of us giving ourselves fabulous tester makeovers in the Earthfare cosmetics and vitamin aisle. This is good times.

The party was a hit and everyone had a wonderful time. The Greek potroast was even better than usual - it's a recipe I've had forever. No, we're not even remotely Greek (I got it out of some random cookbook Mom gave me years ago) but I will put the recipe at the end of this post because it really is good - and my attempt at my mom's potatoes was less of a failure (she used a whole stick of butter for each batch. I can't, somehow, bring myself to that so I used a half stick. It was not, of course, as good. But jesus.) than usual. So the food was good, the company was great and O showed a film she edited together of a bunch of Deia old super-8 movies. That was beautiful and thoroughly amazing and I'll put it up on Youtube just as soon as I possibly can.

A lot of you who read this blog may not know the history behind this. You see, my aunt, my mother's sister, the QOB is a brilliant painter who spent the majority of her life as an expatriate in a small artists' colony on the island of Mallorca called Deia. When I was in the middle of a bunch of utterly predictable teenage trouble - drugs and wildly unsuitable boyfriends, hee - my parents gave up on me and shipped me off to live with the QOB in Deia. I lived there from, pretty much, age 16 through age 18. Then I came home and sort of promptly got pregnant but that's yet another damn story. Anyway, Deia is an amazing place and many many brilliant people have lived there over the years making a lot of amazingly brilliant art and, to tie it to the real world, the one who more or less began it all was Robert Graves. Yeah, I Claudius Robert Graves. At any rate I lived there as a teenager and had massive adventures which I will at some point chronicle and etc., etc. There is a lot to chronicle. Through the QOB and O I am suddenly re-meeting and reconnecting with a whole bunch of people I knew as a teenager when, by the way, I had changed my name to Lisa. Okay, okay - but I was 16 and found Felicity not only unwieldy but hideously reminiscent of my parents who, of course man, did not at all exist because I was on my own in Spain.

O is a Deia child through and through and she has put together this wonderful film of all the Deia people at different times. And I am in it, which I didn't expect. Yeah, there I am, my face painted all up with glitter and a third eye, holding my friend Sylvie's baby, Shaman, and looking stoned and 17 entirely. Also, fuck, gorgeous. Yes, gorgeous and it stunned me a bit and made me step back. I mean, damn. Amazing what 30 years can do. It's been great having O here - the QOB has been so happy - and also we've had big fun. And then, too, it reminds you that your life isn't disparate episodes but one connected whole. Do you know, some of my old friends and boyfriends from those years are on, god help us, Facebook? Eeeep. Small world gets smaller. It's okay - hell, it's good like Greek potroast.

Greek Potroast
4-5 lbs beef roast (I used eye round last time but I've made it with whatever's on sale.)
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp olive oil
2 onions quartered
5 cloves garlic, smushed
3 stalks celery, chunked
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp allspice (actually I never have ground allspice so I just use the whole thing, about 8 of them or whatever)
4 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick broken in half
28 oz. can whole tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup water
Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper or, shit, use Montreal Steak. Tons of it. That's what I do. And then brown it in 2 tbsp of the butter in a big heavy pot. When it's brown pull it out and theoretically you're supposed to drain the fat but depending on the meat there may not be any or much. Anyway then put the rest of the butter and the olive oil in the pan and then saute all the veg and the spices. It will smell fantastic. When it starts to look sort of soft and all, put the meat back in, pour the tomatoes & the wine & the water over it, cover, bring to a boil, take down to a simmer and then let it go for about 2 - 3 hours. Depending on the size of your pot you may need to add more water or some tomato sauce or something.

When the meat is done, pull it out and put it on a platter. Take the sauce and veg that is left and put about half of it, heavy on the veg, through the food processor. Mind the cinnamon stick; it can fuck up your motor. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a cast iron pan and then add 2 tbsp flour and get a nice roux going. Add the pureed liquid bit by bit to make the sauce/gravy. If you use all the sauce increase the roux and so on.

This is very delicious. You can also toss in some feta cheese towards the end for even more yumzers factor.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Capricorns and So On

Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Yesterday was the QOB's birthday: she turned 80. It was a momentous occasion but she kept telling us that she didn't want a party or any celebration and in fact she said she had never, ever had a birthday party or wanted one. I doubt this highly but I know better than to argue with her, therefore, my brother B and daughter A and friend C and her boyfriend M and I all showed up at the QOB's bearing a dozen cupcakes from the Sisters McMullen and bottles of champagne and she was delighted. I also gave her the five disc set of Planet Earth - I really want this myself, so actually I'm hoping she gets bored with it very quickly and I can "borrow" it, heh heh - and she was excited. And she told us many hilarious stories and we all had enough of a good time that we're going to do it all over again on Saturday.

Saturday, you see, is my brother B's birthday and then next Wednesday it will be A's turn. I am surrounded by Capricorns and Sagittarians, go figure - it must be another piece of fallout from my previous life as the Grand Inquisitor or Hannibal Lector or something - and it means that December and January are always chock full o' birthday fun. Actually, the Sagittarians in my life are getting further and further away - my brother N is probably moving to Albuquerque to go to school and I am trying desperately to send my darling son far away or at least to Baltimore for a while so that I can stop pulling my hair out and banging my head on the wall. I've been attempting to work out a kid swap, actually, whereby A & D get young M and I get R, which I think would be brilliant since she is still not quite a teenager and far more tractable, but damn if they aren't balking. Would anyone else be interested? Will trade teenager for toddler or tween, no questions asked.

In other news, the QOB's stepdaughter O, who is also, clearly, my stepcousin, is arriving tomorrow from California. I have never met her and I am nervous and excited, because when I was a teenager and heard about her everything she did sounded incredibly glamorous and cool and I felt glumly that I could never possibly catch up. This is almost certainly still the case, sigh, but hopefully she will like Asheville, which isn't difficult and maybe even my kitchen, which is apparently tougher, since the rest of my family have made various uncomplimentary remarks ranging from "Haggard." to "Oh my god, when did you move to Santa Fe?" to "The last time I saw something like this was in the slums of Nassau." to "I would go crazy if I tried to cook in here." They are all philistines with no appreciation for cutting edge kitchen paint jobs. I must be doing something right.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Yay Car

I got my car back. I was a bit distressed to find out, though, that they didn't inspect it. "It would totally not have passed," said the valley girl, I mean clerk, at the dealership. Actually she was very nice and she said my car was awesome, as in, "See, like you have this cracked headlight? And it would cost a whole lot for us to get a new one so it will pass? But, like, you could get one from a junkyard and it would totally be cheaper? And, your car is awesome! But, you know, it's, like, kind of old. So maybe you want to do the cheaper thing? Also, you strike me as the kind of woman who can change her own headlights."

Yeah. I am flattered but alas, I am not that kind of woman at all. I am a weakling girly girl who has no idea where a junkyard even is now that they relocated the one in the park and completely has no idea what she would do if she ever even found said junkyard. Like, what if I break a nail trying to get that headlight out? Can I knit a new headlight? Because this is all, like, totally gnarly. And, like, ew. And, like, I don't do car repairs. Cars are for boooooys. I don't know anything about caaaars. This is sad, granted, but I somehow don't think it will change. I just want my car to work without me having to do much of anything besides leave out the occasional saucer of milk for the magic elves who run around the treadmill making it go. You know?

They also didn't clean my car at the dealership. I don't blame them one bit - cleaning my car is pretty much a labor reserved for Hercules at this point and I don't think he's looking for work - but it still made me kind of sad. When I used to go to the dealership they would completely clean and vacuum the car and leave some of those horrible little red and white hard mints on the dashboard. It was just like Leona Helmsley only without the little yapping dogs and the evil! But apparently they no longer provide the mint service. This economy has hurt us all, I guess.

However, my car is running fine - granted, my car was running fucking fine last week before I brought it in, too - but I'm operating on the belief system that it was indeed sick and now is indeed better. Actually, I'm operating on the belief system that my car chose to die at the mechanics because it loves me and doesn't want to break down on the street and make me sad but of course my belief system is the kind of thing that should be approached with extreme caution and possibly fireproof tongs. As of this afternoon, too, thanks to my good friend A, my car is essentially legal as well. My friend A took it over to a cheaper, more relaxed mechanic who passed it without replacing the theoretical cracked headlight. This makes me happy. Like, totally.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Enery The Eighth I Am I Am

I've become obsessed by the Tudors. This is not a new obsession - when I was a tween, or whatever hateful new word you use for being a kid over the age of 9 and under the age of 14 or whenever it was that boys become more interesting than Ann Boleyn, I was a dedicated Tudorphile. I was all about Elizabeth I who I thought was the bomb, or, well, obviously I didn't use the word bomb, which hadn't been invented yet in the good sense, but probably used some lameass seventies word like cool. Oh wait. Cool is still cool, right? Never mind. Anyway, I was into the Tudors then and I am again into the Tudors now with my recent decision to plunge madly into that swirl of heavily breathing farthingale laced, stiff lace collar tossing sixteenth century sexual shenanigans that is the oeuvre of Philippa Gregory. Last night I stayed up way too late googling Henry VIII's possible medical complaints because, you know, they're of such pressing importance. I can't help it; I've gotten this bee in my bonnet about him and some kind of crazed genetic disease that I'm sure, with my vast medical training acquired at art school, he had. So far, I'm not finding much and even the hivemind is not convinced. Fine. I'll just set up my own crazy website and start deciphering Holbein with a magnifying glass. Like this guy did. I mean, come on, it's wordy, it must be true!

I also want to know whatever happened to the Howard family, but I haven't gotten around to googling them yet. Are they still around? And, if so, are they still as sexy as they are in these books? Because then I want to meet one or two. Even if by Tudor standards I'm a little, uh, past my prime.

In other news I think my car is done and I can't wait to have it back. I actually enjoyed not having one, since it gave me an infallible excuse to laze around at home and have other people bring me stuff, but still, I want to see my car again. I drove A's car around a bit and while, yeah, it's zippy and organized and much younger than my car, it's just not the same. I want my own sweet Saturn back with all its foibles and little quirks which hopefully, oh please gods, will not cost me any more money in the foreseeable future. And I'm not going to think about how I've spent just about as much money as my car's blue book value on repairs in the last six months. Nope, not going to think about that. Except way late at night.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

All Good Things Come to an End

My vacation - my staycation, if you must and I suppose you must - is over. This is just a Sunday like any other Sunday and I have to clean the entire house, make food for a week, do the laundry and all those fun Sunday chores that I've been neglecting. Bah. Pooh. Humbug. And so on. This sucks and I have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work and resume my day to day existence. Well, I suppose it's good for me. Builds moral fiber and all that shit. Meanwhile, my car is now at the Saturn dealership (who quoted me $300 less than the other mechanic who I will not name but I am not enthused about them to put it mildly) after much travail and multiple phone calls on Friday morning. It's all fucked up. It's a good thing I didn't go nuts and rent a house on the beach last week - every penny I would have spent is now going into my car. Great. Faboo. Heavy sigh. I'm doing my part for the economy, fuckers.

On Friday night S came over and we drank too much beer and hung way too many pictures up in the newly painted kitchen. Yesterday evening I took most of them down after realizing on sober reflection that there's no point to painting your kitchen yellow orange if you're then going to completely hide the walls with portraits of your ancestors. I have far too many ancestors anyway, so I left up only the truly weird looking ones and a couple of artsy shots - well, artsy, if artsy means taken at one of those tourist trap costume places in Cherokee - of the kids. Some of these old pictures are a bit unnerving, if truth be told: I want to believe that the whole 1880s family - from my Mom's side, I think, very bearded and long skirted and totally solemn - moved during the probably half hour exposure which is why their heads are so, um, elongated, but S merrily told me that no, it was just that I'm related to Eraserhead. Eeee. I've never noticed anyone alive in the family with a head like that and thank the gods that my children didn't take after them. And I also decided that having my parents hanging in the kitchen was not going to do one thing for their eternal rest, what with the spinning and all, or my own peace of mind since I'd have to be always apologizing. I love you, Mom & Dad, but you're going into some quiet corner somewhere. Sorry about that.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Years

kitchen 1
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Well, here it is 2009 and I have an orange kitchen and a stomachache. Not bad - the kitchen is awesome, I think, and the stomachache is from making a complete and total pig of myself all day. I went over to my friends J & F's beautiful house way out in Weaverville for a lovely New Years lunch thingie and ate beans and cornbread and greens and hoppin' john and so on until I was blue in the face. This was after eating chex mix all day because somehow or other I managed to inveigle the entire party that was at S' house last night to come on up to my house (I told them they could see the fireworks from my porch - hell, it's almost true; you can kind of glimpse them now and then) and bring the chex mix. And the champagne and the cake. Good cake, too, and so I've also been eating that. I've just sort of been eating through the day. Then I came home from J & F's after all that food and a couple of bloody marys and made some more collards so they'd be here for A & M and then ate more hoppin' john and more collards. And more cake. Burp.

Last year was, as we know, the worst year of my entire life. Last New Years Day, coincidentally, I didn't eat any hoppin' john or any collards. I know correlation doesn't equal causation and so on and also they don't seem to be noticeably less lucky up north where they've never heard of eating special food on New Years Day, but whatever, I'm not taking any chances ever again. This year I was totally determined, just in case, to eat as much hoppin' john and greens as possible. I keep thinking 2009 can't possibly turn out to be as awful as 2008 but then I think, argh, wait, don't take that as a challenge, oh you bored and vengeful gods or small spirits. I know perfectly well it could be worse next year. That's one of those wonderful side effects of aging: you know it can always be worse. Oh yes.

In the meantime, my car is all fucked up and I'm not happy. I took it to the Organic Mechanic to get a new inspection and the brakes looked at, since they're squeaking. No big deal, right? Ha ha. They called me yesterday and said "Why didn't you tell us the clutch was broken?"
"Uh," I said, "Because it WASN'T, yesterday, when I drove it in there."
"Well, we can't get it to shift at all and we had to push it from one lot to the other." said the woman on the phone. Then she proceeded to give me a whole list of other stuff that was wrong with my car. I am not happy and not sure what to do - I've never been to this mechanic before and now I kind of think I should just get my car towed way the hell away from there first thing tomorrow. Argh. Happy New Year.