My House is Filling with Chicken Grease Smoke and Looks Like Hoarders

April 20th, 2014

FRIENDS. Once again we dye the chicken abortions bright colors, and struggle for the next two weeks through a lot of egg salad. First, be warned, my house is totally cattywampus today. I don’t even think the table will be cleared off by the time this chicken comes out of the oven, though that will be good motivation to clear it. I’ll get to the why in a minute.

No tabletop in sight.

Strudel is doing very well; her knee bruises are fading.

I was partly prepared for egg dyeing today. I only had half a box of regular food coloring, and a little more than that in the neon variety.

Like every year, P. suggested we get out the intense dye–the kind you get at the cake decorating store that can legit make frosting black. (Trust me, there are three October birthdays in this house. I know from black frosting.)

I knew there was a reason we shouldn’t use it, but I couldn’t remember why. Since I had no rebuttal, the Jewess and her paterfamilias won and talked me into busting out the fancy colors. I quickly remembered that the reason we don’t use them for this is because they don’t mix with water and vinegar like regular food dye.

We call this egg “Womynist Mooncycle Expressions.” It was supposed to be purple.

Here is a little round up of a couple of things I did during my drug-induced mania.

I’ve been having a love affair with monstera deliciosa, as you do. I got one for the basement bathroom, because it is a low-light tolerant plant, and then I got one for upstairs, so they can race.

Speaking of the basement bathroom, I hear you asking, how did the re-inspection go? WHY, IT FAILED AGAIN. Jackass Plumber put the wrong valve on the hot water heater, in spite of the inspector telling us exactly what was needed.

“The next time I come back, I’m going to have to charge a re-inspection fee,” he said.

Of course my contractor chased up on the plumber very quickly to get him to come out and fix it. Jackass Plumber decided to ignore that email. So my contractor sent the plumber a FUCK YES CAPLOCKS email today, on Easter Sunday.

Because I am A. uncharitable and B. want to use my tub someday, I confess I loled. I have zero confidence in this guy at this point. We just want him to finish.

So here’s new monstera:

It’s terrible on this pillar, though, and I will be getting something so it can be lower. Also, if anyone is actually reading this (this is not a test) have you ever cut back a very leggy rubber plant successfully? I think we need to start over on that guy. [Not pictured.]

Moving the monstera to the pillar meant that I had to move the rain lamp, which I did not like in the dining room, because bronze on bronze weirdness.

I like it in the living room better. Look, it’s like a page out of Dwell magazine, if the room was decorated by a drunk okapi.

Y U SO PRETTY, LADY??? And you smell of melted crayons. It’s like my dream woman, really.

To finish Snake Plant Madness, I got plant stands of differing heights to “add visual interest.” I was talking to a friend yesterday about much I love the word “interest” used in that way, and how you only use it in two contexts: decorating and gardening. And gardening is just decorating outside, so there you go. And then I took that wood thing outside, and rubbed it all over with Murphy’s Oil Soap, and then rubbed teak oil into it. MAN it looks great now. It really does. I am so impressed.

WHO WAS THAT PERSON? WHAT THE FUCK AM I GOING TO DO WITH A FRINGE JACKET AND A GALLON OF TEAK OIL? Christ, what an asshole. I kind of want her back though, as long as the inside of my head is not going “EEEEEE/KILL ALL HUMANS.”

And look, there are some cords, and there is the ladder, leading up to the attic….

I started a carnivorous garden in a “comically” oversized brandy snifter, because I bought it and it was too big for my marimo to go in. Maybe someday the marimo will graduate into it, like when I am 90.

A carnivorous garden is something I wanted in the back of my head, like when I would be falling asleep at night. I’d say, “And it would be cool to, like, have a bunch of carnivorous plants in a jar and we can reenact scenes from Suddenly, Last Summer in the living room.” And then I would say to myself, “Self, pull the other one, it has bells on,” AND THEN I felt like I had hoovered up Cocaine Mountain 24 hours a day, so boy howdy was I ever doing seven projects an afternoon.

“We will eat all of the fruit flies that will bother you in August.” No you will not you fucking LIARS, there are TOO MANY.

I have a little twinge when I look at it, like it’s a gift from another personality or something, or something you did when you were blackout drunk. I actually did things like this when I was very drunk in college. I was like a very drunk retiree when I was on school holidays. “Mmm, drank two martinis, time to do some gardening.” SIGH, past SJ. You were pathetic. But STI free. EH.

ANYWAY. Am I the type of person who can actually maintain a fussy little window garden? We’ll see, I guess.

Now it’s shameful secret overshare time (a day ending in “Y.”). My poor mocha bathroom, the one with the insano teal walls, has been hideously abused. The guests only see the pink poodle bathroom, but today you get unfettered access.

I asked P. to switch out the exhaust fan because it was ancient and really not cutting the mustard, especially with four people using this bathroom. I’m kind of glad to have a delay on working on the basement, because this bathroom is turning into a 911.

Look at this mildew. There was a little patch when we moved in, and all this has spread this winter. The new fan has a “humidity sensor” and will run as long as it goddam needs to. And will be quieter!


So I got some of that Kilz stuff to coat the ceiling in, and I’m going to repaint as soon as he’s done putting the fan in. I figure there’s no point in repainting until there’s so more powerful sucking in this room. I know, why don’t I just stand in the bathroom? HA HA, you’re hilarious.

And then we have to address this poor sad bathtub. Horrifying, innit?

This poor house has experienced A LOT of benign neglect. I guess we’re the ones to turn that around. Anyway, hope your weekend is going swimmingly. Monkeychow out!

It’s Poofy, Bitch

April 16th, 2014

Hey, it’s my last steroid pill. Bye, jerk.

I am told it will take about a week for the Prednisone to leave my system completely. Once I realized I was going through withdrawal during the two week tapering process, which was causing joint pain and muscle soreness (ha ha the thing it was suppose to relieve) I felt better. Every three days I tapered down by half a pill and on that day it felt like someone came up behind me and gave me a good hard shove in the middle of the back off a curb. Brain fog, achiness, irritability.

So I want to say, as if this is my award speech, thank you to everyone who called, visited, emailed, texted, commented. It means a lot to me and it really did make me feel better. If you know someone else who is sick, do exactly what you did again for them.

My prize is a lifetime supply of Rice-a-Roni and ten pounds. I am distinctly more vibealicious than I enjoy being. However, if this is what I get over death or a chronic condition, I’ll take it. It’s a small setback in my four-year plan to become a furce cougar by forty with the ropy neck tendons and Courtney Cox weave and spray tan. At least all my clothes fit. Okay, most of them.

And this is much better than last week when I was so poofy due to the Prenisone bloat I looked like a 7 months pregnant Chipette giving a blowie. I discovered activated charcoal. I don’t care if it’s monkeyscience, it seemed to be depoofing my poor guts. I’m trying to do things like put in probiotics and take vitamin B.

Another upside of this is that I have barely noticed my last two periods. I think the steroids were having a good effect there on cramps, maybe? No cramps + menstrual cup= me forgetting I was on my period. Oops. I would wander off and not put it back in. The Gift of the Menstrual Cup. There, I have just named your bestselling self-help memoir. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I will be interested to see what life without a hammering heart is like again. I’ve been off coffee (drinking herbal tea or less caffeinated tea) but I bet that won’t last long. I’ve been having fewer frightening crashes as I’ve been tapering down, but I was in bed at 8:30 last night, which seemed like a “mini” crash. I predict a couple of days of a LOT of sleep. Yay.

In Other News: Edith at the Hotel

I anti-socialed out and hid at the hotel with the dogs, which was the best thing for everyone. I could not really carry on a conversation, I was so tired.

Edith was amazed by baths. I think she thought only she goes in there.

“What are you doing?”

“Horace, are you seeing this?”

“Seriously, what the fuck are you doing?”

Eventually she got close enough so I could grab her with my bucket. I washed her with the fancy shower gel and then looked down. My bathwater was brown. I am stupid. The dog was clean, though. Then I took a shower and put the lotion on my skin.

“Is that yuzu lemongrass I smell?”

For a human animal to call for help/on another animal

April 12th, 2014

FUCKING SHIT. Strudel got clipped by a car in a parking lot of a BurgerVille in Vancouver, WA. I heard a BANG which I thought was a fender bender, but it turns out someone was bending their fender on my kid. She went flying some and scraped her knees. Her shoe went blasting off into the bushes far off. I didn’t see it, because she was throwing out a wrapper and I was waiting for her in the Honda with my back to her.

I ran when I saw her sitting on the road in front of the lady’s car. Strudel was weeping and I ran to pick her up (bad idea, I know, but I felt physically incapable of not picking her up). She was feather-light from the adrenaline, of course. I started saying the license plate out loud as I moved her to the sidewalk–it just happened.

“She didn’t even look!” the lady said. I decided that was when I was done talking to her. I looked at her: limp blonde hair, teal scrubs, but not a doctor, 40s. Small. Scarred face. Eyes that kept sliding over us and then off us.

There was a witness nearby who actually saw it. She had kids in her minivan. “She was driving really fast,” she said. “You should call 911 and then file a report. Your kid might be in shock.” She gave me her phone number as a witness.

“Thank you, I’m in shock, too.”

So I called them. I took a picture of the front of the car that hit her while her dad comforted her.

“It always looks like that,” the owner said as I snapped it. Every time I looked at her, her eyes darted away. Her face was a mask, impassive. In a weird way I admired how calm she was.

An ambulance came, but Strudel was pretty okay, thank goodness. Her head was not involved at all. They looked her over and gave us ice for her knees.

We ended up filing a police report, which is a good thing to have. I got a piece of paper that was called an “Exchange of Information” with Strudel as the pedestrian and the name of the driver. I was thinking about how I would feel if someone handed me a piece of paper saying that I had hit a kid.

Strudel has swollen knees now with bandages on him. The officer who took the report gave her a firm, but kind, dressing down about looking both ways.

“It doesn’t matter whose fault it is,” he said. “Little girls never win against cars. You were very, very lucky today.” She nodded.

I know we’re in a litigious culture but I don’t think I could prevent myself from apologizing if I had hit someone’s kid with my car. I don’t think the lady’s evil or anything. Or maybe she is, who knows? But I don’t think I could have stopped myself from apologizing, and I’m sure I would have been bawling while I was doing it. But that’s me.

Okay, I’m going to sit in the hotel bathtub and cry silently for a little while before dinner. I will take all of these near misses from the universe. ALL OF THEM!

Icing knees before dinner.

I Shaved My Dog Now I’m Not Sad; Or, Where’d You Go, Asshole?

April 12th, 2014

There is a lot of music that reminds me of other people, but the other people don’t know I was ever thinking about them, nor have they heard the music themselves. I realized this this morning when I was listening to Felicia Carter, who I haven’t listened to since last summer really. It’s like someone else wrote the secret poems for you.

Yep, we’re calling it spring. I even went outside in the 6 a.m.s and could see things. The birds are going crazy, but my chickens, who do get the pellet, not the worm, are sleeping in.

I think the plum tree is going to have a good year. I made like Obama with the turkey and gave it a pardon after its extremely lackluster performance last year. I figure if it wasn’t actively diseased or foaming at the trunk or anything it could stay.

“We could just plant a new one,” P. said.

“Let’s give it one more year,” I said. “It’s old. Maybe it’s just tired.” If plum trees ever sit in judgment of my root system I hope they will come to the same conclusion about me. Next year. One more year.

He sprayed it with salad oil. I don’t question these things, really. I mean, maybe he knows something, or maybe he is just crazy. (Cue the sound of “HEY” many hours later when he discovers this.) Something seems to have worked.

I am considering spraying salad oil all over my own face at the moment. I’ve got the Prednisone poof. I’m not full-on Om Nom Hamster but it’s not great, either. There’s this rise where the chipmunk action starts and then it stops and I can actually see normal face and cheekbone behind, so it’s not like when my face has just been fat. I woke up the other morning and my nose was swollen–I actually noticed it in my peripheral vision. I am down to one pill and I feel pretty normal and sleep isn’t too bad anymore. By Monday I will be on half a pill, and then done by Thursday. I hear it can take a couple of weeks for the swelling to go down. In the meantime I feel like I have grit in my eyes so I wear my sunglasses everywhere, but am considering a bag for my head. I think I have had more veins burst in my cheeks but it’s hard to tell at this point. When no one is looking I kind of fondle my fat cheek parts and they sort of feel like dumplings or like mochi or something. My anpan filling is: bile.

[As a fun aside, P. came by while I was editing this, marveling over how my face is totally back to normal now. He is insane and can somehow sense when I am feeling bad about myself and will take that moment to say the most untrue thing.]

Franny left on Friday morning and I happened to be here since I had a vet appointment for the spaniels, who had ear infections and ear mites. I kind of understood their ears were off when I was really sick and I was trying to keep them clean, but I hadn’t realized how bad it had gotten until Horace yelped twice at work when people were petting him. They got shots and I have ear cream and I am getting drugs for them, all is well. I am ace at cats but still kind of a dog novice, sigh.

This is one of those things that is so easy to deal with when everything is normal. But getting sick, followed by lice, and now dogs. Whoosh. I think everything is under control now. (HA HA, did I really just type that.) After work I washed my car and made dinner and just that was exhausting, but not in a bad way. It’s weird to go from being able to do 12,000 things in a day to having to pick three things and then being forced to stop.

But this is all an aside to say that we decided to have a fight on the way out the door. I, Official Monitor of Toothbrushes, happened to notice that hers had been untouched for a couple of days, since I had put a replacement head in the bathroom for her. I should have left it alone. Am I actually capable of not answering the siren song of neglected oral hygiene? I am not.

“Hey, you went to bed early last night,” I said.

“Yeah, I was tired,” she said.

“You ate a bunch of candy and then I know you didn’t brush your teeth and then you went to bed.” Wait for it, it gets worse: “That is a recipe for cavities, friend.”

“I’m not going to GET cavities,” she said.


“I don’t get them,” she rephrased.

“Well, if you keep up on your teeth you are less likely to get cavities. Magical thinking like that is not going to protect you from anything.”

“I need to be POSITIVE, MOM. I can’t tell myself I’m going to get cavities.”

“No one thinks they’re going to get them, honey,” I said. “But there’s steps you can take…”

“ARGH. It is so hard having divorced parents,” she said.

I think this bout of drama is coming from a friend at school whose parents are fighting unceasingly, causing the girl to worry her parents are splitting. It is also causing Franny to be in the ladies’ bathroom with her during 4th and 5th period while the girl cries, which I don’t love. Franny is the resident expert on divorce.

“I told her what it is like to go through a divorce,” she said, on Thursday evening.

“Do you remember?” I asked, innocently. “You were only three.”

“YESSSSSS,” she sighed at me.

But back to oral hygiene.

“So what is so hard about having divorced parents?” I asked.

“You’re so STRICT, Mom! If I forgot to brush my teeth, my dad would just say, ‘Oh well, do it tomorrow.”

This is where I interject in my head only: There’s an epitaph for you.

“Your dad and I are different people,” I said. “You know that.”

There was a little more scrabbling and then she stomped off to her room declaring she “didn’t want to talk about it anymore.” This is her tack lately–get very defensive about something, then declare the conversation over.

Strudel was sitting across from me at the table.

“Do you want to live somewhere else?” I asked her sotto voce.

“Where would I go? I belong here.”

“The train station?” I offered.

“There is no one who loves me at the train station.”

Later Franny came out to pack her backpack for school.

“You know, honey,” I tried again. “Your dad and I are so different, that even if we were still together, we would have drastically different ideas about how you should be raised and treated. We did when we were together and trying to raise you. This isn’t just a divorced parent thing. This is a different people thing.”

She said nothing. I went on, because when things are going down the crapper I like to enhance the situation by sticking my head in tiger mouths I guess.

“P. and I don’t always agree on you guys, but we find compromises. That’s the key.” Silence. “Um. So. We’re not going to see each other for a week. Are you sure you want to leave things like this?”

She walked out.

“Bye, Mom!” Strudel said, following her.

Franny was like this last summer as well. Really, really shitty before long breaks or vacations. This was bound to happen if I’d brought up the tooth brushing or not. I have heard all the theories and I’m not going to spend the week fretting. I assume we will have a talk at some point. I hope someday we can have more of a “Bye, have a nice trip, see you in a week,” interaction.

Later, after school, Strudel surmised that Franny was jealous we are taking a trip to Portland without her. Maybe so…maybe not. I know Franny is going to Walla Walla for spring break.

In other “stupid things I have done lately” news I decided to “loan” my sister my ye olde butcher block table.

VANISHED! Now all the plants have moved and are in a terrible jumble.

It’s actually really good because their apartment needed an additional countertop. Their space is like ours–50′s apartment, instead of house, with a galley kitchen and an open nook and no counterspace. So the butcher block will be a counter and a workspace in the nook. You can make bread on it and chop things, which is what it was used for when SeaFed’s mother had it in her kitchen. Since I’ve had it, it’s been off to the side somewhere, holding plants, not actually being used. It was acting as a plant stand in this house, which is a shame. I just gave her the whole “If you move and you think you want to get rid of it, let me know first,” but really we will be here a while, and this kitchen will never magically expand to hold it as an island, and my ass needs drawers and shit. I did give her the “This is an Alexander heirloom” lecture since we West Coast meanderers have such few possessions that actually mean anything. I did have a sigh when I tucked it away into a corner in another house yet again.

So P. is like, “Yo, what is your plan for this corner now that you have given away a thing we had that was working.” This is a very legitimate question. Sadly, I do not have an answer. Yet. I think I need a Countertop Solution. I really like what’s going on at this house. I’m imagining sealing the “permanent” counters that are by the sink and stove, and leaving my standalone guy sealed with food-grade oils so P. can continue making bread there as he likes. But maybe something in the corner too. Well, I have done it now. Godspeed, little butcher block table. You made my mother-in-law’s 80′s kitchen look fabulous, and I’m glad I inherited you when she remodeled in the aughties.

I’ve signed up for fruit and veg delivery, which was kind of a little epiphany I had when I was sick and getting stacks of frozen Trader Joe’s food in. It’s not a proper CSA in that they use multiple sources, but it’s nice. I’ve been meaning to do it for years but the time was never quite right. It’s making me really creative, because I take it as a challenge to use everything up before the next delivery. I’m thinking about going back to Amazon Fresh too. I may never leave my house again, except for work. (I am working on a secret mole tunnel; it’s only four miles).

Anyway, I forced myself to quick pickle this asparagus before I left town so it wouldn’t go bad.


“I have to get up at five o’clock in the morning and SPARKLE, Neely, SPARKLE!”

April 5th, 2014

I wanted to show you my bathroom today, since it was supposed to be finished, but the plumbing inspection failed on Thursday. My least favorite plumber, aka Jackass Plumber, forgot to install a mixing valve on top of the hot water heater. Or perhaps he was not aware he needed to. It’s unclear.

The same inspector who approved the rough plumbing returned.

“Oh I see you went for the FANCY toilet,” he editorialized. There are way too many men in my house lately.

“Mmm hmm,” I said.

“Looks like this shower isn’t done.”

“It’s an open shower.”

“No door?” he asked.

“No door.”

He ran it.

“I guess the water’s staying in…”

And then a tick next to the word “failed.”

We get to try again next week. Also my vanity legs should be here by then. I bought vanity legs via my cabinet company. The legs–really more an idea of legs–were a very small black-and-white picture in the catalog that promised to be good metal companions to go with my retconned faux-nostalgic midcentury vanity that looks like something James Bond could have thrown up into, had vanities like this existed in the 1950′s. They did not. I’m enjoying this trend of thinking about what a credenza looks like and putting plumbing in.

But this isn’t Sears and Roebuck times. It is really bullshit to show me small black and white pictures at all. Sure enough, they arrived, and they are hideous. I didn’t really know what I was getting, which is not a defense. I asked for a picture or an internet link or a sample, but it didn’t really come to pass. First they sent two separate sets of black plastic legs, which was not what I ordered at all–so there was that delay.

Then what I did order showed up.

For size comparison, it cavorts among sauv blanc, water, and someone’s jank ass phone what needs a new case like whoa.

They were also kind of scratched or at least unevenly painted, and didn’t work at all with the actual vanity.

“Sooo the legs finally came,” I said, proffering them to my contractor. “Yay.” I was making bargains with myself at this point, just wanting to finish. I can do something else with the legs at some point, I told myself. He pulled one out.

“Do you like these legs?” he asked me, giving me a hard look.

“Well. Um. Maybe I can paint them, though?” He waited. “No. I don’t like them. And they’re kind of scratched up. I’ll go find some legs I actually like and have them sent immediately.” He nodded.

So I ordered legs from a site that does…midcentury legs. I figure they have ONE JOB, and they can do it well. RIGHT? Knock on knock-off legs.

It turns out the legs that we waited so long for and that I hated don’t even fit properly. So it was all moot.

We were hoping to start demoing the other half of the basement today, but it really needs to wait until the inspectors are done. One project at a time, please. So I have been futzing around the house today doing little odds and ends like painting a pillar on my porch that was getting very weather-ravaged, and test driving the DJ Roomba I bought with my tax refund. (R.I.P. Neato.)

Also I have been thinking about my kitchen today. There’s a couple of issues with it. It’s on the north side of the house, and gets a wee bit of sunlight in morning. It’s a candidate around here for a couple of those tubular skylights.

So this is what it looks like around 2 p.m. on an average April day. Dimmer than this picture makes it seem.

I decided to play up the primary colors feel between the yellow tile with the burgundy sizzle stripe and the teal-ish cabinets by adding a lot of primary red. The peace lily and the chevron bag is my sister’s for the little housewarming visit I made to her today. I had a squee. Among other things, I made her bacon peanut brittle and pickled eggs. I moved into that exact neighborhood when I was exactly her age, except her life is way less fucked up than mine was at 26. Yeh.

Also it’s L-shaped. Not much to be done about that. I like that it’s a one- or two-person kitchen and it’s pretty easy to convince people to beat it during parties so I can do my thing and get out.

Here it is with the lights on:


So here’s the tentative plan, but not for a while. Get ready for 50′s house heresy: I am taking out the countertops. I just cannot with the tiles any longer. Crud gets stuck in them constantly, liquid pools, and they always look dirty. I am thinking about doing wood but am not sure. I am keeping all the yellow backsplash, though. The cabinets are getting a new color scheme, and we have to redo the floors. The dishwasher leaked in January and it fucked up some of the underlayment. I feel lumps when I walk now. And the vinyl is going, of course. I am leaving the OG lights alone and the configuration, basically. It’s a nice cubey kitchen that is very 50′s sensible–no need to rip out the cabinets or anything. And it’s almost impossible to reconfigure an l-shaped kitchen so I am calling it good.

So now the question is how to work with yellow with a burgundy sizzle. I am thinking about doing something Frenchy Provencally after stumbling on a bathroom that is just like my kitchen, really (thank you, comments section).

Grey? Blue? Both? Cannot decide.

I am in the germinating phase now, since it’s far off.

This week was my last week of working part time. I’ve tapered down on Prednisone again today and it was a zap on my brain again. I dropped a bottle of rice vinegar on the back porch today–it was like it just left my hand somehow and shattered. I think I may actually sleep well tonight instead of my heart hammering at 2 a.m though. I’ve been sleeping 2-4 hours a night for several nights in a row and then I have a massive crash and sleep 12-14 hours and have a “good” day.

“How are you doing?” my contractor asked. It was before the plumbing inspector came, and we both thought we would pass with flying colors, and I would not see him again until maybe I asked him back to put in a gas insert in the basement fireplace.

“I’m okay,” I said. “The steroids are worse than the disease at this point.”

“Ah, I hear that,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with steroids for the last 25 years or so. I’m on my third heart.”

“Wow,” I said.

“And I’m a cancer survivor.”

“Holy cats, I’m glad you’re here.” We always say dumb things in the face of surprising information like this, right? Maybe just me, though.

“Me, too.” He said he owed it all to qigong and energy practice. I was not going to argue with that. I pretty much owe everything to obsessive attention to masturbation and the idea that tea tree oil can cure anything, including late-stage capitalism and jungle rot.

However. Cooking doesn’t require much thought at this point, which is pretty comforting. I can kind of just feel my way around. How many thousands of times have I sweated an onion? It sounds stupid but it really is so grounding to me. I had a little moment when I wasn’t able to walk or stand much where I was asking myself why I ever cooked, as we were hauling giant piles of frozen Trader Joe’s loot into the house that cost less than food that required marketing, planning, and chopping.

But now I’ve been doing a lot of cooking after work. On Thursday I made an asparagus and gruyere tart and then made Moroccan lamb shanks because why not? I’ve been cooking for so many years now that I think it’s keeping me from coming unhinged a little. Here is a normal thing. I was so anxious on Thursday afternoon I felt like I was going to have a panic attack, could not answer the phone, so I just focused on cooking. I had an alarm guy coming over and I felt like I was going to throw up, and made myself take an Atavan. It kind of freaks me out how I went from fish oil and an occasional Tylenol eight weeks ago to Valley of the Dolls so quickly. I hate this. I know it’s temporary, but I feel so trapped inside pointless, needless side-effectsy anxiety. I just kept rolling puff pastry dough and chopping garlic while he chit chatted at me about losing a cat from a hotel room during a cross country move.

I decided to see if I could bang together a Moroccan dish that tasted like Moroccan food with what I had in the cupboard and from memory. It was okay, really. I’d write it down, but I didn’t take a picture, so that would be kind of boring. It turned out. But here’s the tart:

Alien wiener tart.

I have been junking/thrift scoring plant stands for the house and bathroom. I liked my new snake plants but I thought they needed some levels to be finished. Behold my whirlwind life.

Now I’m happy with it.

Any thoughts about my kitchen are A. optional and B. would be welcomed.

My Bark is Worse Than My Barf

April 3rd, 2014

Oh a twist–Monkey #10, who successfully traded hats on stage with eleven monkeys for two matinees and an evening performance last week, not to mention all the practicing, has suddenly come down with lice. What a crazy random happenstance. I dropped a dime on her with the school, because I am also hearing that there is a full-on outbreak and girls are “hiding” lice so they won’t need haircuts.

Things kind of festered because Strudel has not really been having me braid her hair at night for the past week or so, and I was just suggesting a Nice Bob to resolve her tangling and pain issues.

“NO!” she said last night, as her dad picked her nits.

Franny, meanwhile, has not had a haircut since September, and her ends and layers were getting a little tired. She asked me to give it a blunt trim across her shoulders, which was easy to do once I had gotten laundry load #4000 in and dishes were done.

“Oh that looks nice, Mom.” She thought for a minute. “Should I have…BANGS?” She started pushing little wispy bits down to preview what it might look like.

“I think you should, but I’m going to tell you what my hair stylist tells me: commit fully. No wimpy little bangs that you will have to style endlessly and they will still kind of look crooked and weird and not behave. You should make it a hairstyle.” I pulled a chunk of her hair forward to show her how it would look full and frame her face.

She went for it.

I like it. It’s very hipster anime Cleopatra. I showed her about a little heat, and a little style product, and BANG (no pun intended, but there you go).

THEN, not to be left out, Strudel clamored for a bob. I JUMPED! This is probably the quickest haircut I have ever given and she said the same thing she ALWAYS says every single time.

“I HATE THIS. Wait. This is actually okay. This is pretty good.” Sigh. “I think I like this. Thanks, Mom!”

And then after I was done, P. swooped and picked even more nits. This was after a round of smothering with tea tree oil and almond oil, too, of course, since I was out of Listerine (note to self). It will probably need a wee bit of clean up when she wakes up.

I tried to take a picture, but she turns into a blur. I get that she doesn’t love the camera, or holding still, and a lot of times I just leave her be and “miss” stuff. It’s okay, some of it stays in my head. I really wanted to snap the bob though and I was a little disappointed in myself for pressing it.

“Can you just…hold still?” I asked.

“Not really!”

“I want to see your hair in this, can you just, like…act normal?”

“I AM ACTING NORMAL!!” Hmm. Touche, there, Calvin.

Lady Lice-a-lot is coming to the rheumatologist with me this morning. Guess what? I “have something” now, I think. Parvovirus B19 came back positive, finally. I will let you know more when I know what the heck this means, overall.

Also I am burning with desire to show you my bathroom, but I am missing VANITY LEGS. OH GOOD GOD. SJ problems. I am going to shoot it later anyway, because there is an inspection today and tomorrow and then it is DONE, vanity legs or not (legs are backordered til next week).

ETA: Okay, it’s NOT parvo. It was just showing that I have had it. Dammit. Still, I’m getting better.

There’s so many people who can talk and talk and talk/And just say nothing or nearly nothing

March 31st, 2014

Here is what happened today: I left work around noon after doing approximately two things that required a moderate amount of brain power. I suspect these tasks took me about twice as long as usual. I had to check, and double check, and ask stupid questions via IM, and reassign tickets to people who would receive them with annoyance. We’ve established that I am not so smart right now.

A compounding factor was that I could not get to sleep until 2 a.m. last night. My heart was pounding and I was feeling bad about every single thing I had ever done and said, so it was a lot like when I started this blog in the first place, as my past-tense evil confessional. Atavan was not making a fucking dent. I knew I couldn’t write and I was reading random internet articles that were titled with statements like “Ten years ago,” and I would determine that was moving TOO SLOWLY. I don’t need any stinking context, people. BUZZFEED was too in-depth for me. Alas. And then up at six, go to work again.

Side effects. So with the sleep dep and the brain fog I am literally running into walls at work, which is amusing in some ways, except bruises. I left work after noon, having put the biggest dent in my highest priority things that I could. I drove the El Camino to work because in some ways it feels safer and more comfortable to be cruising through town around in a boat. However, a 1981 car is not foolproof the way my newer Honda is.

I had parked across from a plant shop, and I wanted to pop in and get some soil, quickly, for some snake plants I had purchased last weekend. The temperature of the car was very mild and I think it was supposed to be 60 degrees outside. I knew the spaniels would be okay for ten minutes with the sun roof popped and the windows cracked. I set them up and said goodbye to them, and then realized I had locked them in with the keys in the ignition. The engine wasn’t turned over, but the battery was on. I sighed and tried to snake my arms into the sunroof and the window cracks.

People walked by on the walking trail next to me car, indifferent. I didn’t expect a lick of help, honestly. Years ago I had fallen over with Strudel on my back in a baby backpack on an icy patch and no one around me batted an eye. I just don’t expect help, really. Everything I had, like a phone or other tools, were locked in with the dogs. I had my work badge and six dollars in my skirt pocket.

Much to my surprise, two ladies who were probably about ten years older than me stopped on the path.

“Do you need help? OH NO PUPPIES.” I should have gotten dogs years ago.

“I do, but I’m not sure what you can do. The locks are tricky and I can’t reach my arms in.”

“Oh! She’s got skinny arms,” the grey-haired lady said about her friend.

“It’s true, I do.” I was impressed at how quickly she jumped into the back of the Elco and snaked her arms into the sunroof. She was only about two inches from the lock, which was the old manual silver type. There was some fiddling, and some jiggering, and not many suggestions from me since I was feeling stupid and exhausted but was making grateful and encouraging noises. Finally the solution was to send a skinny arm into the sunroof to guide a purse strap that went through the window and acted like a noose to pull the lock.

“YAY!” declared the sliver haired lady. “I have little dogs, too.”

“This is not me, usually,” I bumbled. “I’ve been going through this auto-imnnune brain fog thing. I have never locked a dog or a child into a car. But I’m getting better.” I felt super pathetic but I didn’t know what else to say.

“Well, that’s the worst. I’m sorry,” she said, and hugged me.

“I wish I had something to give you,” I said.

“It’s okay, this was fun!”

“I will do something nice for someone else, don’t worry,” I said.

And I will.

In Other News.

Once I finally got some soil I napped and then noodled around the house some. While I was buying the soil I was crashing into walls and pillars with my cart.

I bought a few snake plants a couple of weeks ago because this image from Mad Men never left me. Mmm snake plant entryway. I had snake plants in college and they worked pretty well in my 50s rental rambler.

I bought a few blowout pots from the bargain section and hit them up with teal and my bff, Rosemary Rustoleum to unite them.

And then when I came in from outside I realized that something delightful had happened. Orange and teal. Haters to the petards.


After I lost my mind on Saturday and showed you my fringed jacket things got much worse and I started losing it and MEGA CLEANING. I would lay down to rest because I was exhausted and then I would be mad for no reason and get up again and scrub things.

This brain fog is reminding me of why I drank so much when I had the IUD in. Not only did a crave alcohol, but I was already stupid, so fuck it, I guess? It was easier. I drink much less now, but brain fog makes me want to, because it makes me not care that I am deeply stupid.

Look what I did to my fridge, angrily:


And then this happened. Labeling due to my BFF dry erase Crayons. I am not kidding, these things have changed my life. I use them on everything in the fridge. Expiry dates SOLVED. Loaned containers SOLVED. Sometimes I make eyelashes on the giant google eyes on the fridge. I write H on hard boiled eggs. You get it.

The downshot (is that the opposite of the upshot?) of this is that I could not go to a volunteer gig I had lined up for the Japan trip, since I felt like my chest was collapsing and I could not be around people. That was pretty hard. I am not usually an anxious person unless someone is actually suing me or something. It has to be pretty extreme. I puttered around the kitchen muttering incoherently about “tech burritos”, which was possibly the best idea I’d ever had. I’d like to take this moment to publicly apologize to the Bloggess for scoffing disdainfully about her crawling around on a bathroom floor at Blogher 07 or whatever. I give up, I am humbled by my condition and medications.

The next day I had a “breakthrough” and “tech burritos” morphed into an actual novel idea, so I am outlining that now (hint: it has nothing to do with tech burritos) and I figure if I have burned off all my paid time off and sick leave, when my medication is done two weeks from now I should start writing this novel, because I think it’s good. i wrote a novel last year around this time. What did I do with it? Nothing. No one cares. Okay, I am off to make a meatloaf. I love you, and yes, that is good fortune and strawberry blonde beer talking.

I planted a peony under the bow, and stargazers are under the “plain” ones. I have a lot of ribbon right now because I had a little beauty subscription box issue around Xmas and I am just hoarding ribbon now. I like it.

Monkeychow Girl

Butterscotch Stallion Rides Again

March 29th, 2014

Well HEY HO there was a package on my porch last night!

This is called shopping clearance at 3 a.m. on Vicodin and Atavan. And some other stuff, because YOLO. Unlike 98% of the unflattering, bizarre shit I own, this is a New Thing and it’s stiff and looks weird (in a new thing way, ok, I recognize the irony of this statement). I don’t think I’m going to be allowed to sleep in it until it stains with my body oils and softens, so I had better find a rock pile to roll on. This coat actually looks GREAT on Strudel’s dad but he refuses to wear it. I DON’T GET HIM, I REALLY DON’T. He is in the new shower right now, being commanded to test it out (not pictured).

I would have taken a better picture, but a. this is what my face looks like (HA HA, hashtage “awkward”) also b. the carbon monoxide detector started going off because I didn’t charge the batteries enough. Also I woke up at 4 a.m. I am pretty okay mostly but still feeling a little weird. This is a record of that weirdness for later, since I can’t remember anything.

This is currently what it’s doing outside (raining):

Inside the forecast is, “Every picture is going to be blocked by a Cavalier because then you are looking at and thinking about a Cavalier and perhaps some cheese would really work a treat right now.”

Great weather for suede coats. Looking for backalley B-12 shot today, but will settle for Dick’s cheeseburger.

And Introducing Monkey #10

March 28th, 2014

Last night, Monkey Number 10 took the stage in some kind of weird mashup of Caps for Sale, The Musicians of Bremen, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, and something about a magic fish. It was all lumped into this amalgamated play called “Stories from Under the Big Top.” There was some sarcastic dialog written to hold it together, and some moralizing thrown in throughout, and BAM, that is how you get something like 35 grade schoolers onto one stage in thirty minutes. Drama club! What a racket. Strudel had a blast.

Morgan came and we had dinner first and then some cake at home. Why not make a little celebration of it?

A grocery store cake with the world’s most slapdash Thursday night icing.

Tonight Strudel is having her first violin lesson, at her behest. Kid wants to take music lessons? OKAY, CAN I SIGN HER UP NOW?? I did not want to take music lessons. My mother got a wild hair and bought a piano. “Doesn’t this sound fun?” My answer was always, “I’d rather have art lessons.” I’m a big fan of kid-led interests as long as they are a. not too expensive and b. something they commit to for a while. I can provide some nagging, it’s okay.

A month ago when I knew this play was coming up, I was afraid I was not going to be able to get out of bed and get there. Now I am around walking and talking like an asshole, though I will tell you that I am SO TIRED. I am working part time briefly, which is so right for now. I get to hour 3.5 at work and I am nodding off in meetings.

So this begs the questions, how I am doing and what the hell happened? Well, it’s kind of a mystery. I tested negative for errrthing they could think of to test me for. I bounced to Infectious Diseases and to to a rheumatologist this week. The rheumatologist said, “I don’t want to diagnose you with anything just yet, because I don’t think you have anything diagnosable, per se.”

These experts put their heads together about the test results and the history and said, ok, food poisoning. Probably turned into a viral/bacterial gut infection. This is a thing that can cause your body to hit the e-brake and go all autoimmune and attack everything, including yourself. This is where the myalgia/fevers/not being able to walk was coming from. I am told an overboard autoimmune response is more common in women. What I am very very lucky about is that it doesn’t seem to have a permanent result. It didn’t destroy my joints, or perforate my guts.

I am on my second taper down with Prednisone, and the rheumatologist is taking me off very, very slowly so my body can kind of figure out what is normal again and ack right. It seems the infection is gone (fingers crossed) and I haven’t had a fever in a couple of days. So what kind of good news is that six weeks later?

My only complaint now is that my brain is dum, like dummer than usual. I am grasping for the right word always. I said “status” instead of “stasis” this morning. I know this happens to all of us, but it’s like I cannot even access the correct word. I think as the tiredness lifts I will be able to let the bon mots fly again. In the meantime, I am going lente, lente.

Here is a fucked up thing that is not a complaint: this is SUCH a cliche, to the point where I hate to even waste finger motions on them, BUT. I am kind of grateful to have a little perspective reset. Did I want my vacation “ruined”? NO. Did I want pain pain pain and fear for six weeks. Um, no. But I feel like I’ve broken out of some little ruts and it’s changing my view. Okay, this is a super stupid one: I had oatmeal for breakfast this morning. I LOVE oatmeal. I never have it. Mostly because I know I am a protein machine and I will be hungry again in an hour. Just carbs, generally, make me crashy and puffy, both temporarily and in the “oh dear these pants seem to have shrunk” sort of way. I am ruthless about looking for the most efficient nutrient bang for my buck.

This morning I said, YOU KNOW WHAT? BIG FUCKING DEAL. I AM GOING TO EAT THE CRAP OUT OF THIS OATMEAL. It was delicious. This is not a barrel of zen wisdom, I am sorry. Just monkeys.

In Other News
Yesterday I accidentally discovered via my bank account that I am getting royalties for some porn I published for Kindle last summer. I thought, wouldn’t it be funny if I had died a month ago and that was my legacy for P. to find? Sorry your babymother died, here is your $12 autopayment for March. HA HA.

My piece said, “rats.” Proper.

Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had A Deal

March 25th, 2014

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned that my sister is a DJ for a local radio station. I think she’s been official for about a year now, but she’s been with the station for much longer. It’s been a cool thing to see unfold, since she worked at the University of Washington station and interned at KEXP for a long time. I know people pick and choose which radio personalities and hosts they like, and some people don’t like certain voices or styles, but I think she’s good at her job. Friends and people I don’t know tell me they like her on-air too. I think she’ll be there for a while.

I mention this not only because I think it’s a cool thing, but also to say that Franny is getting interested in being a DJ now. We’ve been watching Veronica Mars together, and in the third season a college radio station is prominently featured.

“Being a DJ would be so cool,” Franny said one night after we were done with an ep.

“You know, your aunt…is a DJ,” I said.

“Oh yeah!”

“She knew she wanted to do music in high school and she did a job shadow in Olympia with Calvin Johnson. Maybe you could ask if you could watch what she does at the radio station?”

And she did. I have been trying to talk her into signing up for an email address, because I know she’ll need one for high school next year. This was my chance–I asked her to email her aunt about this. Morgan was wildly enthusiastic and she managed to get Franny in for a pretty typical (but exciting) day on her show where a band comes into the studio and plays live and there is a little Q&A. Franny was even able to introduce a Depeche Mode song. I believe she is being recruited.

I let Franny borrow my camera and she took a ton of pictures. There’s just a couple here (I will throw the rest onto Flickr for posterity) but I uploaded the ones she came home with and turned them into a little printed album for a keepsake.

Franny with The Thumpers

My sister has just moved within a couple of neighborhoods of me for the first time in…ever? I am excited to be seeing her more, but I’m also glad that Franny can make more of a connection with her. Morgan’s kind of a bridge (nine years younger than me, thirteen older than Franny) and knows about things I don’t and can give her advice that I can’t. Yay for family.