Thursday, December 31, 2009

Forecast: Full On Surreality

okra playing cards
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
For a day that began at the Buncombe County courthouse, it's not going too badly. We got out of the courthouse around 11 and when we got home my friend Adam was already here, mudding the walls in the part of the basement that I was hoping, someday, to turn into a studio apartment but that in the meantime is going to turn into another living room so Audrey can live upstairs and still have all her stuff, which we must move into the house soon. Sometimes I think Adam is more like a force of nature than a human being and that would probably explain why while I was trying to have a lengthy and fairly serious conversation with my son on the phone there were hundreds of gallons of water sluicing off the roof while Audrey tried to put the ladder back in place in front of the front door. Adam didn't quite fall off, though, and it would have been quieter if didn't turn out that Perdita has a strong aversion to men on the roof. What with the barking and shouting and all it was kind of hard to explain my parental point of view.

Then my brother showed up with 700 feet of Christmas lights, since they were throwing them away at his work and while I was thinking about that Adam brought out the chainsaw, which makes it difficult to think anyway, I find.

Then Adam and my brother left and Audrey and I settled into playing some Yahtzee and having a bloody mary to make up for our morning. That was peaceful, or as peaceful as it ever gets around here, what with the dogs and Okra and all, or at least it would have been except that then they came back.

They did not come back alone either: they brought friends. Piscine friends: specifically, the fishtank I got Annie for Christmas. She's returning it. The fish wouldn't stand still, she said, and they made her nervous. It came in a train with my brother and Adam all carrying bits and pieces and a tin bowl of water with two fish in it, now resting on the kitchen table. There are bits of aquarium here and there and Audrey is taking down the Christmas tree so we can rearrange the living room to accommodate this fishtank.

We're not going to think about the fact that Annie had eight fish four days ago and now there are only the two - god, I really hope she was kidding about taking them into the bathtub with her. But one never knows and sometimes it's best that way. Merry New Year! Put on your helmets and prepare for good times ahead!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


woodpecker 3
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
My staycation is so incredibly fun that I can hardly wait to get back to work, where hopefully I can rest and get projects done and not be freaked out all the time. Ha ha! Life is funny like that!

I have, among moments of quietly freaking out, been trying to help my daughter get through a rough patch in her life and simultaneously help my son buy a car. None of this is going very smoothly, alas, but I did end up yesterday in one of Swannanoa's more, um, picturesque neighborhoods, test driving a gigantic yellow Cadillac through a trailer park. Meanwhile, an entire bunch of strange and slightly scary teenagers were frolicking around this rustic village with their pitbulls and crack pipes and we were a bit concerned that Audrey's car would no longer be with us when we returned. The lady who was selling the car came along for the test ride and she was very friendly and talkative. I learned from her that she planned to keep the knocked off rim of one Caddy wheel as a souvenir (well, yeah, it is the kind of thing I personally would totally keep on the mantelpiece of my trailer too) and that her teenagers were driving her nuts but that she had cried when they went to preschool. Also, one time she raced her sister in this very Cadillac and left said sister in her Buick in the dust. Whooo eeee! The Cadillac was approximately the size and shape of the QE2 and had roughly the same steering ability and all in all I think just perhaps it is not the ideal car for my hilly neighborhood of narrow streets and sharp turns.

In other news, I've been having strange bird encounters. I was over at my daughter's old house helping her pack up the kitchen when I noticed a tufted titmouse sitting on the side mirror of my parked car. All was fine and cute until he looked down to discover that there was another bird inside that mirror and, worse, that that bird was clearly a nefarious enemy spy. For the next five minutes he waged furious war while Audrey and I laughed helplessly from the kitchen window. That was sweet, as is the woodpecker in this picture, who has taken to visiting my feeder once or twice a day, which makes me strangely delighted.

Audrey has gotten me addicted to Yahtzee. We've been playing a lot of games, which has given us the idea of starting a board game review blog. It will be beautifully designed and each entry will have a fantastically perfect moodily lit photo of a board game and a text entry which will read "This game SUCKS!" So far we have reviewed Life, Outburst and Scrabble, which doesn't suck but, hey, you have to be consistent.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Today is the first day of my staycation! Isn't that loathsome? Such a horrible word for such a delightful event: an entire week where I don't actually have to get up in the morning and go to the office. I do, of course, still have to get up in the morning and feed the dogs and, one of these days, walk the dogs and all that kind of stuff, though, which seems to be a kind of design flaw in the whole staycation ideal but it matters not: I have spent this entire day cleaning up and puttering around and it has been awesome. Although if I did it every day I would probably go berserk round about day 12 or so, there is that. I am reading Charles Stross' book Glasshouse, which is, among other things, about how sane people go insane when forced to live by the norms of the early 21st century, particularly if they're trying to be housewives, and I can see it. I actually have been a housewife once or twice in my long and checkered career and I believe I was kind of insane. On the other hand I suppose you could say that of most of my life, so the housewifing thing might not be the cause. Oh well! Some kinds of craziness are way underrated.

It turns out that the dogs, when left to their own devices all day with an obliging human to open the back door whenever necessary, have a nice sane schedule. About once an hour they are seized by the need to run frantically out the door and around the yard on a squirrel patrol. Then they come back in, bounce for a couple minutes and settle into comfortable naps for an hour before the possibility of a treacherous squirrel perimeter break or, heaven forbid, someone walking a dog down the street (an insult not to be borne) sends them back outside to bark and go berserk for half an hour. This goes on all day - it's actually not at all unlike the average American workplace.

In other news, I got Annie an aquarium for Christmas. I was planning to set the whole thing up at my house and carry it over to her house, ready to go, but that turned out to be a completely insane idea. Aquariums are sort of fixed points in the domestic universe: they do not move easy. So we took it over there on Christmas day and filled it up and left it for 24 hours without fish, which we were worried would be difficult for her to grasp, but she got it fine. She said that once she had the fish she would take them into the bathtub with her, too, but we're all going to overlook that part. It's logistically unlikely, after all, even if the comment did almost make lasagne come out Audrey's nose. I called her on Saturday and she was ready for her fish, so off we went to the Asheville Aquarium, which is a strange and wonderful place that not only has the fish and stuff in tanks you would expect, but also couches and a coffee bar. Annie was thrilled. I foresee many more visits and, thanks to a really nice, really knowledgeable guy, there are now some neon tetras and orange fish whose name I forget swimming happily about in a tank with a plant, a light and all those good fishy things.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Belated Christmas Post!

snow tree fixed
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Thanks to Jay, we haz internets again. Whooo! So here is the blog post I wrote on Christmas, only two days late.

We've had our fair share plus some of holiday trauma and drama here at Hangover Headquarters this past week. I'm not going to go into it for the most part, because it is not really mine to share. Suffice it to say that if you are looking for surreality in the everyday, going to the Buncombe County Courthouse two days before Christmas should definitely be on your lifetime agenda. There's nothing like trying to get to the clerk of court's office to do some important paperwork while the entire courthouse is having a Christmas party. Yep, there were tables of food and coolers of drinks (did you know that the registrar of deeds department boasts not one but two coolers, both labeled in giant letters as their property?) and karaoke carolers and children running amok in festive Christmas clothing. The clerk of court who gave us our paperwork was eating deviled eggs while in the background, amplified by two stories of marble echoes, a tribe of county employees mangled We Three Kings.

But! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all that good cheer! We are all good here. Audrey & her cat Okra have moved in at least for the nonce and so it is all magic Santa cheer, since Okra is not used to dogs and the dogs are not as enthusiastic as one would think about welcoming their old pal Pebble's sister into the house, so we have caroling animals and crashes as our background music this fine Yule morning. Theo is eating wrapping paper; Django is running in circles with his Christmas squeaky and Perdita and Okra are locked into a battle of wills on the stairs. Audrey got a laptop from Santa, who also kindly provided a router, but of course the whole thing crashed this morning, so I've already been on the phone with Charter tech support for an hour. Yay tech support from Mumbai! We didn't even have to have that awkward Merry Christmas conversation!

Santa brought us all new pajama pants and socks and underwear - young Miles comments that perhaps he has, finally, reached full sock saturation point and maybe he doesn't have to get socks and underwear every single Christmas? Ha ha! Ah, the naivete of youth! As it was then, is now and ever shall be, my children: Christmas is about socks, underwear and pajamas. Also, calendars. Audrey gave me a great one that she has helpfully filled out with housekeeping tasks, a brilliant idea. No, really, I like it. And Miles gave me a wonderful piece of local art: a print with flying saucers attacking City Hall, which goes beautifully with a print my friends Tom & Linda sent me from Tucson: a woman saying Fuck Off, I'm Smoking in large cartoon letters. Hurray for art for Christmas! And candy. It's amazing how the kids' stockings were stuffed with my very favorite candies in the world - to wit, chocolate covered espresso beans, candied grapefruit slices and Swedish fish, but Santa is wise that way. Santa also is eating his way through the Pepperidge farm entertaining assortment of really good cookies that I bought for him yesterday in a moment of sugar deprived weakness.

Here is hoping that your holidays are just as full of sugar and love as ours.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Not Eaten by Abominable Snowman Despite Evidence to the Contrary

Christmas is over! Awesome! It's been a little grueling around Hangover Headquarters this holiday season, y'all, and the gruelingness of it all includes trouble with the internet, so if you have been attempting to reach me through the tubes, well, you have not been able to and you are still not able to, although perhaps that will change this evening when my talented and brilliant friend Jay comes over and sees if he can force the small blinking box that contains the internet to play nice.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snowpocalypse Continuing

pack square walker
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Driven by the desperate need to get Christmas presents - also, the desperate need to get the hell out of my house, ye gods - I shoveled out my car and went shopping yesterday. I also took Audrey up to the Long Shoals Road Waffle House where her car had been languishing since Friday morning. The roads were not wonderful, but they were not terrible either, although there were a ton of assholes in SUVs zipping around being all, Hey, look at me! I have never used this car in 4 wheel drive mode before! Now I can cut you off and lurch unevenly onto the plowed highway without looking just as effectively than I did last summer! Even the strip mall parking lots were pretty clear, which was handy, because it turns out that my nifty short fuzzy suede boots are completely useless in the snow, unless, that is, you enjoy wet feet. In which case, you are a duck and my brother wants to have you for Christmas dinner.

Thus I was surprised when I came to work this morning only to discover that a) I live on the high priority side of Riverview as far as plowing goes and the low priority bit, which is how I get to Clingman and thence to work, is, um, low priority and mostly a skating rink and b) most of downtown is apparently also low priority. It was less plowed than West Asheville, which I found surprising, but there you have it: Asheville isn't really used to big snow and given that it only happens every 16 years or so, that is fairly understandable. Baltimore, on the other hand, where it snows every single year and yet the entire city reacts each time as if it had never seen snow before, used to drive me nuts.

But fuck the snow! Let's return to the Christmas dinner controversy! I offered my entire family a choice of 3 possible entrees: standing rib roast of beef along with Yorkshire pudding, which is what my mother used to make and thus hallowed; crown roast of pork, which I have never made but which I thought my son might like, also, my mother made it occasionally, so, you know, hallowed or lasagne, which is what we used to make every Christmas when we were hippies and is thus not hallowed but, let me tell you, is a shit ton cheaper and easier than the above options.

Nobody wanted roast beef. That's okay; it is sort of, well, beefy. Nobody wanted lasagne, which wasn't surprising: nobody ever wants lasagne. Nobody wanted pork roast, which was surprising: I thought the novelty and the pork-ness of it all would make it the winner. So much for my suggestions: what they do want, it turns out, is duck. Perhaps a l'orange, or Peking, or curried. Annie says she used to make duck all the time in New York when she was young and it was easy and delicious. My brother waxed enthusiastic over Peking duck form Chinatown. My son remarked as how Thai duck curry, which he had for his birthday, was about the best thing ever. This was helpful and it caused me to think to myself, where the hell do I get a duck? Just sneak on over to the park and strangle one? Are they hibernating? Do ducks hibernate? I haven't seen a duck in a couple of years, come to think of it, but there are a lot of geese. Do they taste the same? Can I train the dogs to catch me a goose in four short days? Do I even want a duck or a goose or a platypus for that matter, if we're going semi aquatic? I have never yet tasted duck that I liked - and besides, even if I can get one, duck probably costs something like $24.99 a pound.

That is why, fuck it, I'm making lasagne.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I started writing more about the SNOWPOCALYPS #AVLSNOMG etc. etc. last night but then the power flickered and went out briefly and so I gave up and went to bed with a book and a flashlight. We never really did lose power, although my brother did and then my aunt. I know this because my brother called me at around quarter to one in the morning to tell me that they had no power and in my sleepfuddled haze, I thought he said they were coming over to my house. I got out of bed (realizing as I did that that yes, I have in fact caught Miles' sore throat and cold) and made up the bed in the computer room and the one in the guest room downstairs and dragged a space heater downstairs and then I went back to bed to commence worrying that my brother and aunt were stuck in a ditch. Finally I figured out that if they were dumb enough to leave Annie's house in the middle of a blizzardy night then it was not my fault if they went into a ditch and what would I do about it anyway besides walk down there and say, hmm, yes, you are indeed in a ditch? Still, I woke up every couple of hours to see if they had showed up, which they finally did around 9:30 this morning, having sensibly stayed put last night.

There were weird people out walking around late last night. There was a kid with a snowboard around 2 am; a snowboard and a friend who had sat down in the snow and was burying his legs across the street. I am the kind of person who gets all fond and sentimental over stuff like that - oooh, sweet, look, they're on drugs! - but it was 2 in the morning and I went back to bed. My brother says that when he went by the Admiral last night late, after his power went off and before Annie's died, it was packed. I bet it was. I bet it was fun, too, but I am old and have a cold and on my leg my tooth is gold, or something like that.

I'm surprised we didn't see more cars in ditches or kids on drugs yesterday from Audrey's porch. I walked down there in the wild snow and hung out for a couple of hours, happily measuring the snow by her back door every hour on the hour. There was very little traffic, which is not surprising - Audrey's car is at the Waffle House on Long Shoals Road, actually, because that's as far as she could get from work yesterday morning - and mine is in front of the house, indistinguishable from a snowdrift and likely to remain that way. There were several dogs investigating the snow and stopping by, but hardly any people.

My dogs have been having a great time. Perdita clearly didn't remember ever seeing snow before - she is very young, still - and first thing yesterday morning she was horrified. Django and Theo went dashing down into it while she stayed on the porch and barked, "You're in terrible danger! Come away from the white stuff!" but a few hours later she was bouncing around like she was training for the dog fun Iditarod, in which people pull dogs and the dogs get to leap off and chase snowballs now and then. Ah the dog fun Iditarod!

Anyway, I'm home and probably staying right here. I think I will make soup and keep on hoping that the power keeps on keeping on.

Friday, December 18, 2009


snow and branch
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Snow days are the fucking bomb. I'm sorry to be so vernacular, but there is just no choice when you are faced with a snow day, which, let me reiterate, is the fucking bomb, y'all. It's merrily snowing away outside and warm inside (yeah, it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye the electric bill comes, at which point there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth) and I am still in my pajamas. And home, relaxing into a three day weekend and beginning to seriously contemplate slipping some Irish whiskey into a cup of coffee and taking the dogs and camera for a walk down the street. Or not - it is, as I mentioned, cold out there and warm in here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Air Freshener

speed limit 5
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I have a new air freshener in my car. I bought it at some checkout or other in one of those consumerist fogs that are no doubt brought on by the buy buy buy drugs they pump into the air handlers. Yes, those drugs, the ones originally invented by the CIA and rapidly coopted by various Marts - you know those drugs. They're the reason you end up coming home from the superstore with seven plastic boxes in various colors, three sets of nail trimmers and a bead curtain you will never hang up.

Ordinarily I scorn air fresheners - they give me headaches. This one, though, is shaped like a little flower and made of translucent orange flexible plasticy stuff; it said on the packaging that it sparkled in the sunlight so I was all, ooooh, yes, I need a sparkly orange flower that emits sweet aromas in my car, right now. Well. When the sunlight hits it it - looks like translucent flexible orange plastic in sunlight. Could you call that sparkling? Not really, but I would forgive the lack of glitter if it smelled okay. Unfortunately, what it smells like is a tangerine. And not just any tangerine but a tangerine that some child has partially peeled and hurled deep underneath the car seat, where it has been lurking for several weeks. Every time I get into the car I want to dive under the seats with rubber gloves and extract that goodie because believe me, whether you call it a rotting tangerine or a rotting clementine (let's all face it: clementines are tangerines in fancy boxes, okay?) I know that smell. I did not drive a mini van decorated with plastic dinosaurs, peanut butter and jelly sandwich crusts and eternal jelly beans throughout the nineties for nothing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Weekend Survived

perdita sleeping
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Here is a picture of Perdita sleeping by the Christmas tree. Yes, the tree is up and thanks to my wonderful friends, it is even decorated. (Helpful hint! Put up the tree and the lights, then leave the box of ornaments right by the tree and throw a party. During the party say lugubriously several times that you just don't have time to decorate the tree, oh, how much you wish somebody would decorate it for you. Leave the room. Tree will get done! Yay!)

I got the tree again this year from Enron, who is this guy at the Gas Up. Should you also wish to purchase a very West Asheville tree, stop at the place next to the Admiral on Haywood. The sign on the gate says, If Nobody Here Go to Gas Up and so you must do that. Then the Gas Up lady will call out for Enron and he will disappear into a back room and the other lady will say, "Go on back over to the lot, sweetie. He'll be right over there." Do that and voila, there he will be, perhaps along with an English guy who is also buying a tree and there will be a cute moment there where Enron will think you are together and you will both chuckle and say no, no, separate and you, at least, will think that if this was a movie or a pop song, the consequences of this chance meeting would be clear. However, since it's real life, you will never see this guy again. Oh well, pick a tree, give Enron $35 and the tree is on the roof of your car. Most excellent.

The party was lovely - we did Dirty Santa! Everyone wanted the remote control helicopter and the turtle slippers! I got a large croaking toad plus everything everyone left in my house, ha! - but I'm still recovering from the hangover. As my age advances my hangovers seem to be getting exponentially worse, which is why I rarely drink too much anymore, sigh. No, seriously, it has gotten pretty rare. Or comparatively rare, I guess. Compared to, like, Brendan Behan or someone. Whatever, but old Brendan would have enjoyed himself on Saturday night, which is why I spent Sunday in bed. Without Brendan Behan or a chance met British guy of any kind, which is kind of unfair, but there you have it and at least I had Juliet Marilier to keep me company and very good company she is.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holidays Ahoy!

stilt houses
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Did you realize that there are only something like nine or eleven shopping days until Christmas? Yes, isn't that depressing? I don't know what it is about this year but my internal calendar is no longer working. Instead of being all "Holidays, ah yes, make cards," I'm more like "Holy shit how can it be December already?" which is following nicely right up on my panic of last month, "Holy shit, how can it be November already?" Apparently, in my mind it's July. Or possibly last March.

So I am not ready for Christmas and since I'm hosting a holiday party tomorrow night, that's a problem. I have not made a single holiday craft and I have not even considered doing Christmas cards. The nativity scene is languishing away in the garage with all the holiday ornaments (the outdoor lights are up but I haven't gotten around to running an extension cord to Frosty yet - that would be because I suck) and the dogs have not even eaten a single cheap Santa hat yet this year. Up until last night I had bought exactly two presents and one of those only became a Christmas present because I found something far more awesome for my son for his birthday.

Ah yes, the birthdays. Why are all my friends and relatives either Sagittarians or Capricorns? As I do every year, I will hereby advise all parents to be that having both your children born within three weeks of December 25 sucks donkey balls in hell. Don't do what I did! Double wrap that sucker in the early spring! Otherwise, you will suffer financially in no uncertain way every winter solstice for the rest of your life, not to mention the general calendar induced frenzies.

Due to birthdays, procrastination, work and other perils of modern life, I have managed to thoroughly doom myself. Tomorrow, I have to go buy a tree, set it up, at least light it and haul the baby jesus out of hibernation for his starring role on the coffee table along with the various Buddhas and pagan deities I like to include in my nativity scene. Then I need to get a present for the Dirty Santa party I'm having that evening (get your mind out of the gutter. Alas, it is not a dirty Santa party in, you know, that way. Pity. I think I'm getting old enough where I find Santa attractive, which is kind of alarming.) and a present for my metafilter secret quonsar person and, and, and - eeep. I have to go shopping. Oh god. I probably ought to bring baby jesus along for the ride.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Photos of the Oven

Of course I took pictures of my mangled and melted oven element. You know I did. Here they are, for your edification. I actually kept a couple of parts of it: it's kind of freakily beautiful in its own peculiar way. Look how it broke and that weird core. I might make jewelry out of it, although I'm way more likely to just put it aside to make jewelry and then do nothing. As has often been pointed out, I mean well, but I'm essentially lame when it comes to getting things done.

As a side note, the only tool I needed to fix the oven was a pair of pliers. Naturally, I left them right on the counter by the oven, where I made those death by chocolate brownies and equally naturally my pliers got partially covered with melted chocolate, which meant that I ended up running them through the dishwasher. For some reason, this struck me as hilarious.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

red light at morning

red light at morning
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
My youngest child turned 18 today - well, if we want to get all specific, he'll turn 18 around 9:00 tonight - and I feel a little bereft and stunned. That's it, really: the kids are grown. I always thought I'd join the Peace Corps when that happened but somehow it no longer sounds all that appealing - if I want to dig a well or something, I can do it in my backyard, which boasts that authentic third world ambiance. Besides, the dogs at least need me. And the grown kids do too, I think - without me, who would buy them Thai food on their birthdays? Or spend hours making insanely complex cheesecake layered marbleized brownies that use 16 eggs and a pound and a half of butter?

Now my son is too old to acknowledge. I never bring up my daughter's age, because I am vain and do not want anyone to realize that I have a daughter that old. Occasionally I try to pass her off as my sister, but this annoys her (for good reason, okay) and she usually glares and makes some kind of cutting comment, so I don't do it much. I used to not worry so much about my son: I was altogether a more socially acceptable age when he was born and it seemed normal to have a kid his age. Now, though, I have to admit that if it seemed normal then it means that I am in fact old enough to have an 18 year old kid. Yikes. I am old and he is going to get a motorcycle and register for the draft. On the bright side, however, I suppose I get to stop feeling guilty for everything my children do - clearly, it's their own fault now when they get into trouble. I suspect, however, that I will still feel vaguely that it is all probably because of something I did wrong. Well, that's parenting in a nutshell, right there.

In other, less brooding on mortality news, I fixed the oven. I went to Cashwells and bought an oven element and put it in all by myself and it works just fine - see brownies comment, above. Truly, I am mighty. Old and mighty.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Quiet Weekend

anson st church
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I was looking forward to my quiet weekend, in which I planned to clean the house (this cleaning the house thing never seems to stop. Something should be done about that.) and think about painting the blue room and think about putting up Christmas decorations and, also, use the oven a whole lot to keep the house nice and warm. This was an excellent plan and I stopped at BJs last night to get some beer to help me on that whole thinking about doing stuff project and then I came home and started to make a roasted winter squash soup. That is an excellent soup and I will give you the recipe at the end. However.

I put the soup ingredients in the oven and settled down in the big chair to read, firmly determined to ignore the shredded stuff on the carpet and the disastrous state of the kitchen and all was progressing nicely when I glanced over at the stove and noticed that the oven was illuminated like a Christmas tree. Holiday spirit! I must not be all Christmasy yet because instead of inspiring me, I found the light show alarming. I went over to the oven and lo, the heating element on the bottom was white hot in one place and emitting festive sparks and small, cheerful explosive noises, not to mention the three or four inch white flames that were shooting out of the element and lighting up my tin foil covered roasting dish most admirably.

Well. I turned the oven off and then I started to open the oven, which naturally encouraged the fire. I'm not completely devoid of sense, so I closed the oven quickly and then I grabbed my mother's fire extinguisher (I inherited many useful items, such as boxes full of antique batteries and peculiar light bulbs that fit no known fixture on this planet) and the baking soda out of the cupboard and then I stood there, baking soda in one hand, fire extinguisher in the other, glasses on the counter so I could put the extinguisher right up to my eyes and actually read the directions and freaked out. The fire extinguisher directions were daunting, involving as they did pulling a ring out like a grenade and I was reluctant to surrender my roasted vegetables to an oven full of foam, so I waited. I thought about running into the computer room and googling oven fires but then thought that it would probably be better if I stayed there and freaked out instead. There were more small explosion noises, like Jiffy Pop gone way out of hand, and more flames and then the whole thing died down and the element went from white to red to black and I felt it was safe to move away from the stove and call my daughter.

The timing was right, because the vegetables were all done, and so I had the soup made by the time Audrey came over to exclaim. That was nice and then everything was settling down and I was smoking a cigarette on the porch when Theo started barking. This isn't unusual - Theo pretty much barks 24/7, given half a chance, and one of these days the neighbors will be coming over with torches and pitchforks - except that he sounded as if he was at the bottom of a well. I don't have a well that I know of but it's completely not without the bounds of possibility that the former owners might have decided to dig one some merry day, just for shits and giggles, so we were a bit concerned. Theo, as it turned out, was under the garage and so, apparently, was some kind of monster. I don't know what it was; I never saw it and neither did anybody else, but Theo was bound and determined that it was in fact in there, hiding, and by god he was going to bark at it until the end of the world or it came out, whichever happened first.

We, or rather Joey, Audrey's boyfriend, got Theo to come inside and then they left and I settled back down while Theo barked and scratched at the door for the next three hours. Sigh. So that was fun and I went to bed and this morning I got up and took the element out of the stove. Get this: it broke off in chunks in two places when I touched it and was all melted with little bobbles of melted metal all over it. That was freaky, but taking it out made me feel macho and cool as using tools successfully always does and I went on over to the used appliance store on Haywood Road for another element. They did not have one and therefore I have no oven and that is why tomorrow I have to go over to Audrey's to make the complicated and delicious marble cheesecake brownies that Miles has requested for his birthday on Tuesday.

After I left the appliance place (which was cool and full of old appliances including one of those ancient washing machines that looks like a white enamel butter churn or possibly a funerary urn from a hitherto unsuspected civilization where they take their appliances seriously) I went to Lowes to get some keys made. Made the keys, went to Goodwill, scored some books, looked at some unhappy sweaters, went to Kerr Drugs, which I do not like so much since it has decided to reinvent itself as a combination pharmacy and bad health food store, and then went over to Annie's. It was hot at Annie's, because she is 80 and always cold, which explains why she had the damn stove on full tilt.
"Annie," I said, "You cannot use your stove as a space heater. This is a really bad idea."
"But it's cold in there," she said, and I looked at her in her coat and winter hat as I was gasping for air and throwing off garments so I could breathe in the tropical atmosphere.
"No it isn't," I said firmly, and then I gave her some soup and came on home to find out that none of the keys I had made at Lowes actually work and now I have to drive back over there to get them redone.

And there's still a night and a day left in the weekend.

1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
1 apple, largish
1 onion, I used Vidalia
1 1/2 cans chicken broth
1 stick butter
brown sugar, salt, pepper, thyme, sage

Wash the squash, then cut them in half, scrape out the seeds and put them in a big glass roasting dish thingie. Put butter in each open squash along with a little brown sugar. Peel and cut up the apple and the onion and put them in the roasting dish too. Put the rest of the butter in there, sprinkle with salt and pepper, pour a can of chicken broth over the whole thing and cover it tightly with tin foil. Roast at 400 degrees until done (about an hour) or your oven explodes, whichever comes first. Let cool a bit, then scoop the flesh out of the squash and put it through the food processor in batches, along with the apples and onion and broth from the roasting pan. Put it all into a saucepan as you go, add more broth until it is at your desired soup consistency, add some thyme and sage and reheat it, yum. It is done unless you are having someone over who you wish to propose to you, in which case, cook up some bacon, stir some heavy cream into the soup and top with cooked bacon.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
I have no heat. That is, I sort of have heat as long as it's sunny and/or I cook something in the oven for an hour or more, as I have been boasting ad nauseam for a while right here but, alas, as it has actually gotten cold outside, the sun and the oven are doing less and less and it would be nice to have some kind of baseline heat. Like, you know, a boiler, possibly the boiler that I contracted to pay MULTIPLE THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR last summer. I do have my old boiler, but it's broken again, or I used up the remaining 20% of the propane tank in three days in October when I absentmindedly turned it on. I think it's broken: last fall when it broke the first time the Russian repairman who came to fix it got all nostalgic and dreamy eyed when he saw it. "Reminds me of home!" he said Russianly. "Many boilers like this one!" I thought perhaps he would break out the vodka and smoked fish right there but instead he just sort of fixed the boiler (something else broke on it ten days later) and charged me $165. Still, having a boiler that reminds a former denizen of the Soviet Union of his childhood is not really a good sign.

Therefore I am supposedly getting a new boiler. To this end I hired Crazy Furnace Guy - and, because I am so deeply damaged, I hired him not despite his insanity but because of it! Yes! I thought he was charmingly wacky and I like to hire the charmingly wacky because they're just more entertaining than the efficient corporate types. Besides, the only other people who do boilers in Asheville are a chain and I have this thing about chains and, well, stupid endless summer me, I went with Crazy Furnace Guy. Big surprise: crazy furnace guy is crazy and it's way less entertaining in December than it was in August.

Today when I called his cell to inquire politely as to the status of my boiler, I got to hear a five minute monologue on the complete incompetence of every other driver on the road, which was actually quite enjoyable, since I was expecting the brake squeals and impact and screaming at any minute. This would not have upset me as much as it should have, because interspersed with the traffic commentary was the admission that my boiler will not even arrive in Asheville for another two weeks. And I know that by two weeks, he means four. Possibly six.

In other news, we're at that post Thanksgiving point where we ask the eternal question: how old do turkey leftovers have to be before they kill you? Wheeee!