Archive for the ‘Leisure Time’ Category

Dumber and Dumbest

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Edith has now lived through her first fireworks extravaganza. In fact, she was not alive a year ago on the fourth. New Year’s came when she was six months old, and was pretty quiet up here in the northlands of Seattle, with only a few scattered bottle rockets and bangs, but the fourth pretty much goes on all week. I think it was a little calmer leading up to it because everyone knew it was on a Friday this year, kicking off a longer weekend.


Hot doggy

I keep prescription dog drugs in the house for fireworks. We call it Sleepy Cheese and it is a joyous event to receive druggy dog Communion in the form of half a pill in a cheddar packet.

I doped them up well before sundown, but with Edith, I’m not sure I needed to bother. She’s just so unflappable about things that seem like they’d be a big deal in Dog Land. Mysterious, unseen booms send Horace skittering under a chair, or better yet up on the bathroom counter, or, ideally, up on a person. Edith, outdoors, raised her head slightly at a sound that could be downtown being attacked by bomber jets, blinked slowly, and squatted to pee, her complete lack of fucks evident.

Horace is also terrified of most other dogs, even ones he knows well, except Edith, of course. I took him to a dog beach recently, and he spent most of the time skittering at my legs with sandy paws, or on my lap, crying like a toddler past his naptime, howling in terror when another dog approached to say butt-hello. A dog belonging to a person I know from work approached us and Horace turned away, facing in to my chest. “SAVE ME FROM THIS,” his eyes pleaded. So I did.

Edith stood on the edge of the lake as the water lapped in, her perpetually wagging tail greeting all passersby. She didn’t much care where we were or what was happening, and was just as excited that we were leaving, since that would mean ONWARD OMG.

“Aw, look at the cute little Cavalier,” dog owners said as Edith smiled at them as we left.

“What was that? Was that dog having a seizure?” others said, as they saw Horace squirming in my arms, eyes rolling around in his head to expose the whites as we quickly made for the exit gate.

They do work as a team, though. For a while I thought Edith was about as smart as a bag of hair, and then I realized that Horace is simply her guide dog. She does not have to think or look at me, she can just follow exactly what he’s doing. She is nearly silent, but her bark is slightly different than Horace’s, and she never barks on cue. There is something about her bark, no kidding, that sounds like Judy Garland’s singing voice (pre-1960s comback concerts). It’s nice.

“Speak!” I say to Edith, and she sneezes at me. Noting that cookies are being issued, Horace runs up and begins skittering around, doing his pre-bark behavior, which is sneezing and quiet woofling. Finally, he barks and I give him a cookie, as if to say, “See, lady, this is how you do it.”

“Speak,” I say again, to Edith, giving her the hand signal at the same time. Every time she looks at Horace, and he speaks for her. If he dares to remain silent, she kicks him and bites his ear.

Horace looks at me as I give commands throughout the day. Inside, outside, up, down, sit. Edith watches him every time. If I speak directly to Edith she runs to Horace and begins kicking him frantically. “This is the guy you want, see? I was nowhere near the park at the time the mugging took place.” He succeeds in her stead and she literally steals the cookie out of his mouth. He opens the food puzzles at work, and she follows in his wake, gobbling up his spoils like Ms. Pac Man on dots.

Recently at work Edith ran over to someone in my area who was giving their dog a treat. “I don’t have any for you, sorry.” Edith saw the hand signal that I use for “No more,” which can apply to food or the end of one of our futile training sessions. Edith took this in and immediately turned and came back to me.

“So you do know things, you devil!” I said to her, louder than I meant to.

Edith looked away from me and promptly kicked Horace like a recalcitrant jukebox. “Translate,” she said to him.

Edith is a family dog, no one’s dog. She seems to love everyone pretty much equally, especially if they are holding food. She’s happy as long as we’re somewhat nearby, and will lean on someone’s leg or sit in a lap if it’s convenient and not too hot. She doesn’t make demands, really, just shows up and is confident someone will pet her or say hello.

Horace, the Edward Cullen of Cavaliers, is MY DOG and wants everyone to know it. When he sits on a foreign lap he stares intently at me constantly as if to say, “I know if looks like I’m visiting someone else, but I’m thinking of you the WHOLE TIME.” He likes to be glued to me. I think if he could be, he would meld his furry body into mine, or climb into my mouth.

This morning I let the dogs out and left the back door open, so they could let themselves in through my curtain style screens. I went back to bed, which is a luxury of summer Sundays when I don’t have to wait by the door or outside in the drizzle to let them back in. After a couple of minutes I heard jolly trotting in the hall and SPROING! Edith popped up and flopped down next to me in the crook of my elbow. Horace’s spot.

Horace followed about a minute later: SPROING! He thought he would scootch in to his customary place but there was a hateful red dog there, Precious. I could see his tiny brain working and his eyebrows crinkling as he decided what to do. It was simple–he would climb over the other dog and lay on her head. I stopped him, my hand out like a traffic cops’s, at the edge of where she was resting comfortably. He gave me a hurt look of confusion and spent several minutes stewing at the end of the bed, staring at me, glaring at Edith, making impatient little huf huf noises and sneezing. I ignored him and continued reading.

After a couple more minutes, Edith got too warm as she always did, and moved to her preferred space nearer to my feet. Horace whooshed in to be spooned, making a satisfied grunt as he settled in, gazing into my eyes creepily.


Moodily waiting for me to get this blasted laptop off my lap.

What is comes down to, ultimately, is that Horace is very concerned with what we are doing and what is happening, and Edith just isn’t. Edith is not smart enough to be scared of sensible things, and Horace is smart enough to do a bundle of tricks but not smart enough to know what will and won’t hurt him. Edith’s got a strong interest in dog work, like running and rolling in disgusting crap and hoovering the floor after I cook. Horace is afraid of my feisty cat, Nightmere, smoke alarms, chickens, fans, Ceiling Dog (there is a mirror on the ceiling of the elevator at work), and of being ignored by me.

However, I walked the dogs to Strudel’s camp the other day, and saw a different side of Edith the Glib, Edith the Feckless, Edith the Casualier. As we crossed the parking lot, Edith lost her mind. If she hadn’t been leashed, she’d probably be halfway to the border by now. I looked for a squirrel, a cat, another dog–nothing. A perfectly ordinary orange cone was tipped on its side in the parking lot and was apparently giving Edith the hairy eyeball.

“THE FUCK IS THAT THING?” Edith barked, yoyoing around to the limits of her leash and back. “THE FUCK IS IT DOING?”

Horace looked similarly puzzled; though, to be fair, puzzlement is not an uncommon look for him. I subtly cheated our route towards the sinister cone so we could all investigate further. Edith dropped to her belly and crept towards it like it was a giant hissing cobra. Horace walked to it nonchalantly, barely sniffing it, since it was so uninteresting.

“What is that, Edith?” I said. She continued to squirm on the ground, trying to be brave with every fiber of her doofy being.

Horace gave it a little kick and Edith’s face went WOOOOOW and set off another round of barking. He gave me a look, which, if he were human, would have involved him jerking his thumb at her and saying, “Can you even believe this lady?”

IN OTHER NEWS, I’M THE WORST

I spent some time in the backyard today, hogging all the vitamin D to myself while P. did more demo work in the basement. I came downstairs after to take a shower and change. I was freshly out of the shower and in the midst of switching laundry when he called to me through one of the open studs.

“Are you naked over there?” he asked. Wishful, bored thinking.

“No, but I am wearing a very unflattering robe,” I said.

“Flattering?”

“No, I said ‘unflattering.’ Also my cellulite is especially prominent today.”

“Wow are you doing this wrong,” he said.

#bonerkiller

IN OTHER, OTHER NEWS

Strudel had a bunch of reward tickets stolen from her on one of the last days of school in June. The tickets were awarded for good behavior, extra effort, and various jobs throughout the year, and were meant to be spent on the last day of school in a classroom prize “auction.” It was especially a bummer because she had earned the most tickets in the class, and her name was written on all of them, so whomever stole them could not even spend them.

She borrowed a ticket from a friend and left it out on her chair, while she went to another part of the classroom, and watched her desk. Sure enough, a kid came along and looked in her desk and ganked the ticket. This led to a full search of his desk, which turned up all 300-plus tickets with her name written on them.

She excitedly told me the story, which was great to hear after the previous day when she had returned home defeated and glum about the theft. P. and I discussed buying her some prize to make up for it, since it really wasn’t her fault.

“You’re like Sherlock,” I said, high-fiving her. “You solved the crime and now you can go play your violin.”

“I went into my mind palace for ideas,” she said.

Keep practicing, kid.

It’s Poofy, Bitch

Wednesday, 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?”

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

Saturday, 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:

DEATH TO BOOB LIGHTS.

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.

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

Tuesday, 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.

“What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.”

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

1.

It’s good that I’m writing so much this week, even though the reasons are crappy. I don’t think I mentioned I was supposed to be at FogCon again last weekend, and I’m super bummed I had to cancel due to not being able to walk or stand. SMALL DETAILS. I did a metric asston of writing after I got back last year and I didn’t even care that I had just started a new role at work and that it was super stressful. Then I think work kind of ate me for a while and I did no writing except around xmas. I tried to substitute running for writing last fall, but it was boring and then I got sick for a month in October. Writing begets writing, too. When I am writing offline, I am blogging more.

Can I say as an aside I feel like I almost never run into anyone who has, like, a three-day or even a week-long cold anymore? It seems like it’s always this epic that lasts for a six weeks wherein three different things are contracted? I know that happens to me and all of my friends.

Maybe the point is this is like one of those time travel tropes where you can go back and give the girl the tampon/ray gun/std in time, but the writing will still happen somehow. You cannot stop it. That sounds good. All I am doing right now is sleeping (exhausted) and peeing, like a baby.

2.

I think of my dogs as coworkers, perhaps in part because I do actually take them to work most days. There are always there, reliable, acting sane (for dogs). They would lay down in front of an avalanche of waffles for me and their little jaws would not stop moving until they went into a carb coma. Edith would probably poot herself to death since she doesn’t seem to handle wheat well.

And yet I think there is this part of me who still likes cats better. They speak to me more with their fickleness and irrational hatreds. I know that dogs have become our mirrors, and I hear a lot of people say that they are more like people, but I think cats are more human. Tiny walnut brains. Confusion. Taking out against something for obscure reasons. Loving other people, things, or cats for even more obscure reasons. Dogs, at least ones who aren’t severely damaged or bred to only love people who are 5’3″ falconry buffs who smell of sage, have public hearts. Cats have secret, unpredictable hearts.

Goethe’s heart feels she should make sweet love to every device I try to interact with.

This is my take on cats: some cats like no one. That’s unfortunate. Some cats like everyone okay, or even a lot, but don’t seem to have a special person. Some cats are lucky, and they love multiple people, which is good, because sometimes people go away or are separated. I have acquired used cats and they have taken a liking to me. I hope they are not pining too hard over lost loves.

Goethe likes me best. I am her person. I realized recently that everyone else I live with finds her slightly hateful, because she is, to them. She is pretty much always nice to me. When I bailed her out of the pound in November the volunteers in the back cheerfully went back to retrieve her and then one returned a few minutes later, empty-handed and frowning, sporting some new claw marks on her forearm.

“Could you…come back and get her?”

“WOW!” Gertie said, when she saw me. She always yells at me with this little pinhead squeak. She swirled around her cell and came forward when I reached for her. “MEW! MEW! MEW!” She sank her claws into my shoulder as she hugged me and banged her head on my face. “Where have you been?” she asked, drooling and purring.

“Oh, good,” the volunteer said, relieved.

“Has she been a jerk?” I asked.

“Well…I’m just surprised to see you holding her. No one else has been able to touch her.”

“I’m her person,” I explained, which was the first time I realized it was true. “And I’m sorry about your arms.”

Sometimes I pet her and sometimes she pets herself on my finger or knuckle. And sometimes we have a lazy standoff where I press my finger to her face and she does nothing. She is no Nietzsche but she’ll do.

My coworker. Note the sliver of my sad red feverish face in the background. SMEXY.

3.

As a small catty P.S., I will say that something interesting happened when I was out of town last month. I boarded the cats, even though my sister was house sitting, because between her coming and going and the contractors, I did not want a cat to disappear and have that be my sister’s problem.

Last time I boarded Mere and Goethe together in their “large” room, which was a nice cube not quite wide enough to hold a bed…maybe like a large closet. It has a window and many levels. This was not available for our recent trip, so I went with two separate cages in a room with a few other cats. There was the option of Mere and Goethe being let out a couple of times a day together to look out the windows and stretch their legs.

Something that always made me sad about their mother-daughter dynamic is that Mere would always beat Goethe’s ass, and Matilida’s, before we lost her. When we got them back from boarding I expected a huge explosion of fighting as they settled down again, but it didn’t come. A day after we got home, I discovered that Mere was grooming Goethe, which was a thing she had not done since Goethe was a tiny kitten.

I thought of this just now when Goethe came to visit me in bed this morning and bang her face on my Kindle, and I discovered the back of her neck was all wet. Thanks, Mom.

Two Bellinis and the Hinge

Monday, October 21st, 2013

On Sunday I went to tea for my birthday. It was really nice and I got much more atrociously stuffed than I did in San Francisco recently.

My family isn’t particularly long-lived, but a lot of this could have to do with things like fried food, trailer parks, and basically any kind of shit that you could imagine from Raising Arizona that happened to end up on the cutting room floor. I’ve tipped over the other side of 35 and so it feels like I am on the hinge of my life. I am certainly having my midlife crisis now. It’s going really well. I promise I will write about it when statutes of limitations expire.

I will tell you that I’ve been smoking for the past few months, like a moron. I always had a “reason” before, no matter how specious, but I can’t really justify it lately. It was always court stress, or moving, or general homicidal notions. Now, nothing is really wrong and I am still smoking. I smoked like a chimney in California and I tried to pull my favorite smoking buddy there out into the street with me and she declined.

“I switched to an e-cigarette,” she said.

“Ah.” This was disappointing and also kind of a relief. It’s hard not to be happy that someone you like quit smoking, right?

“I had gum surgery,” she said.

“Oh no.”

“Yes. And my husband said, ‘After you have surgery, why don’t you just quit smoking?’ So I have this e-cigarette but I never really want it because I know it’s there.”

I thought about this for a long time like I always do. It takes me a million years to think about anything. Sometimes it takes me a whole week to get mad about something. It’s just how it is. I know how it is to have something in your hip pocket that feels better for just knowing that it’s there.

I heard what she said, like it rang a bell then, that kept ringing. I knew my birthday was coming up. What if I had my birthday, and it was the second half of my life, and I never smoked again? I can’t break the chain.

Lately I have been thinking about mothers, also. If you’re lucky sometimes you have a second mother, like a friend’s mother, who is really nice to you. Who knows how they feel about you, really. Maybe you’re not really special, just another ratty kid coming around to hoover up peanut butter.

I’ve been thinking about my best friend’s mother, Pat, who was around the age I am now when I really started to notice her as a person. She had four daughters and she was always moving, always working. She seemed beaten down, but so did most of the mothers I knew. I was distrustful of peppy mothers; I thought they must be hiding their real feelings about life and their children.

Pat was older than my mother, but everyone’s mother was older than my mother, the child bride. Pat had married quite young, or so we thought. Later we learned that my friend’s oldest sister belonged to another man, one who had left Pat. Her husband, my friend’s father, was a gruff dick, like all the other fathers we knew. He ran the house in an authoritarian manner, with “Yes, sir” and “No, sir,” and church for me on Sunday if I spent the night on Saturday.

We were scandalized to find a snapshot of Pat with her dark hair fried into a shocking blonde. We stared at it, this tiny window into Pat’s past, before she had kids. We knew that her husband would never allow anything as frivolous as blonde hair now. Pat took the photo from us, wordlessly, and stuck it in a book and slid the book into a high shelf, out of our reach. We knew better than to ask her about it.

I was allowed into places in their house that other kids were not, since I was there so much. Once my friend had to ask Pat permission for something, and I saw her in a rare moment of rest, laying on her bed in dim light.

“Yes,” she said to my friend, in the same tone of voice that I use on my girls now when I want Just One Goddam Moment of Peace for God’s Sake but Hello Yes Daughter What Is It? Terse but resigned.

I crept in behind my friend, taking in the sight of Pat in repose, seeing the jewelry on her dresser, and smelling her perfume, which I only ever recall smelling in her bedroom. Also unlike my mother, who left a wake of Obsession behind her and a myriad of other terrible 80s perfumes that slapped you in the face as she arrived.

Pat was wearing a tank top with no bra and sweatpants. I remember being fascinated by the sight of her breasts, which had slipped with time and four daughters. Gravity was pulling them down into her armpits. I had never seen that much of a body of a woman in her 30s, who had children, and was not bone thin. I think of her now when I look at my own body, which is changing, and yet I dislike less than I used to, when it was more perfect.

“I’ll never be that old,” I thought.

I took an old silk shirt out of my closet yesterday that I probably haven’t worn for three or four years. I slipped it over my head and I saw…something…a spider? Too late. It was over my head. I jumped around and shook my shirt until it fell out. A spider corpse, who knows how old. Somehow it seemed fitting.

Peaking In, Or, What Happens in North Bend Stays in North Bend

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

HELLO. I’m SJ Alexander. You may remember me from such blogs as “Musing on Poetic Hermaphroditism,” “New Notions In Angry Cuntism,” and “Let’s See If This Fits In Sideways.” Anyway, on Sunday evening I got back from the North Bend/Snoqualmie area of Washyourhandsington, and let me tell you I had a fine time there with my sister.

As I mentioned, I went for the Twin Peaks Festival. I didn’t expect it to change my fucking life or anything, which it didn’t, thank god, because I’m too old for that shit. But I had a really nice time and met some new people. Mostly first timers, because the repeat offenders were catching up with each other, which I completely understood. The festival is aptly named, I think. I’m used to gatherings that have some kind of academic or analytic fa├žade with panels and shit, but this is really just a time for fans to gather and have fun together and geek out. There was a banquet with a costume contest, and a picnic, and a bus tour.

Morgan and I met a young lady there who had talked her father into taking her as a fifteenth birthday present. Let me tell you, I cannot even remember my fifteenth birthday. I said so. My sister said, “I can, Mom made me make my own cake that year.” HA! And aww. I probably blocked mine out. My best family birthday was maybe sixteen when I asked for a bucket of coleslaw and got it. My bar was so low at that point I was like, she cannot fuck up KFC.

The funny thing was that the young lady happened to be dressing up as prom queen Laura Palmer. And my sister grabbed some plastic wrap on the way out of town. So really, our happy weekend friendship was meant to be. She wants to be a filmmaker, and runs a horror fan/review site.

As a bonus surprise, our new friend’s father dressed up as Bob. HA. I’ve made a little album over on the Flickr if you want to see everything.

The highlight of the bus tour was probably the Bookhouse. The tour guide told us it’s now a methlab. We came up behind the fence to take a picture of it. A shirtless tweaker came out to scream at us. “Get the fuck out of here! This is private property (incorrect, we were on separate property). I’m gonna call the fucking cops!” Like hell you were, Mister.

Since we were staying in Snoqualamie and driving back and forth to North Bend, we happened to notice the local shops. I started to get a bang out of how unassuming and modest the names were.

“Where’d you get your hair done?”

“Oh, you know. Another Hair Place.”

“Looks ok.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“For our wedding, we want something tropical.”

“That sounds expensive. We have tulips for you. They’re in season.”

“Um, ok, I guess.”

Nothing to Wear. I looked in and there was half a shirt and a sock on the floor.

Now I have tomatoes setting. How was your weekend???

I’ll see you again in 25 years

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

This morning I’m leaving with my sister to go up to North Bend, where Twin Peaks was set, for the annual meetup there. It’s kind of sad, actually, that we haven’t taken a trip together in ten years, but you know. Time money babies school divorce. Life. We went camping for her sixteenth birthday. This post is a fun, cringe-inducing blast from the past. The good news is I don’t sound like a 100% moron like I do in some posts (including some from last month) but I see typos, grammar problems, and a declaration that I was done reproducing in 2003. HA! Guess what 2003 SJ? 2004 SJ is coming and her ass is going to SNAP. There followith a Strudel in 2005.

Anyway, I am excited. Twin Peaks first aired when I was in high school, and I didn’t really get the appeal of it. Other than Knots Landing, which I believe I was into solely [ahem] because it afforded the chance to stay up an hour past my bedtime on Thursdays, I didn’t get into a lot of TV when I was a kid. At least, not with my mother.

Plus I thought Nicolette Sheridan was probably the most beautiful woman anywhere, on TV or in a movie. The way her bangs would jump around, since they were so long they kind of rested on top of her eyelashes…well, that was kind of weird, actually. You don’t really see distracting hair like on TV anymore, unless it’s supposed to be distracting. I’m pretty sure I wandered off after the season when the scammy Greek guy showed up, so I didn’t see crazy Alec Baldwin on it. I still have a terrible tendency to wander off from a show during its summer break and not come back. “I’m full,” I say. There’s exceptions.

When I was a kid I thought of TV as something you did by yourself, when you were too lazy to read or move. I usually did something while I watched TV, like draw pictures of totally sweet unicorns or do the puzzle in the TV Guide. So I watched the first couple of episodes of Twin Peaks with my mother, before shit gets really weird, and I thought it just looked like a soap opera, which it was, in its way, or at least a parody of one. They did not hold my interest then because I was in the phase of my life where I was trying to make my own personal soap opera, and do actual drugs, and have actual sex with people/objects instead of just sitting in the safety of my house behind my pulled shades shouting “OH GIRL DO NOT RETURN HIS CALL” at the screen like I do now.

I worked at Tower Records and Video in college, mostly on the video side, and it was free rentals ahoy there. Every shift I would bring home my allotted two movies whether or not I would watch them. I saw White Men Can’t Hump [main actress had alarming leg bruise; when she was on her back her implants floated like biscuits, giving her chest this terraced effect], Jurranal Park [no comment], Edward Penishands [I'm guessing he never got into smartphones later], and a bunch of movies with plots and clothing and TV. The VHS porn section was prodigious, though, and I took to wearing medical gloves since you never knew how slimy a video you would fish out of the return slot bin would be.

So that was when I saw Twin Peaks on VHS, coming home to my unemployed husband counting out stacks and stacks of cash that must never be deposited. Okay, he was not constantly counting fat stacks of Benjamins, this is just how I like to frame him in my memory at that time. My life had become a soap opera I wasn’t enjoying (teen runaway becomes child bride to extremely small-time drug distributor) so I think I was happy to retreat into the cool pines of Twin Peaks then.

Franny’s gone again–I took her to the ferry terminal yesterday. She was very unhappy about leaving again after spending a month over there at the beginning of the summer. She tells me she sneaks out of her room and lurks on the roof when she gets sent there as punishment. She also told me she got into a fight with her father and threw Cheerios at him. I feel like I don’t know who she is when she’s there, but I love sweet Franny and the angry one. I know we can have many faces and behaviors for different situations, but there are some faces I don’t really see. She and I saw the first episode of Orange is the New Black so I sent the book to her after I dropped her off. The cover is subtitled “my year in a women’s prison” so I included a note that read “This seems appropriate. Love Mom.” I hope she reads it.

Everyone was on edge on the way to the terminal (such an appropriate drop off place, really. A terminal. This situation is terminal. Everything’s terminal, though. So.). This meant that Strudel was saying whatever popped into her damn head.

“I think instead of waving at your other sisters, I’m going to just flip everyone off,” Strudel said. She’s 91% nature, I’m convinced, and should thank her lucky fucking stars we haven’t died before now, because the Nice Christian Family who got their mitts on my healthy white baby would have attempted about 28 exorcisms on her by now.

“Strudel, you CAN. NOT. flip my sisters off!!” Franny’s voice rose in pitch and I could see how tense she was, clutching onto the dog in the passenger seat.

“Your sister is not going to flip anyone off,” I said, almost believing it.

“Mom! She’s not allowed, right? My sisters don’t even know what that MEANS.”

“No, she’s not allowed.”

“Mom, what will you do if I do it?” Strudel asked.

“Well. Laugh,” I answered honestly.

“MOM!” Franny was reaching middle-school girl glass-cracking levels with her pitch.

“Strudel will not flip off your other family because she is a NICE PERSON who wants to KEEP THE RESPECT OF HER BIG SISTER. Yes?” I glanced in the rear view.

“Look, it’s the motherfucking po-po,” Strudel said, changing the subject as we passed a cop car that had pulled someone over. It’s never “a cop” or “the police” with this one. Always “the motherfucking po-po.”

And she was fine at the terminal.

Strudel is spending the weekend with her dad as well. Unlike Franny, she throws Cheerios at the ones she loves the most, so probably the same scenes will be enacted by both of my daughters in their respective house, but for very different reasons. It should be a good weekend. I am happy to spend time with my sister, but I will miss my jerks.

Dear MF Diary again

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Hello!!! Today’s headline from the weekend is as follows: GOETHE RETURNS.

I know, I know, I didn’t say she was gone. I was feeling super sad about the whole thing and was mourning her quietly and giving extra love to Mere and Matilda. She disappeared a couple of days after the Fourth. Incredibly and much to my relief, the cats don’t mind the fireworks AT ALL, it seems. This is their third year with them. Horace, however, was another story. He spent a few days before, when the extra amateur booms started, hiding under a chair in the corner and scooching under the bed at night on his belly instead of being the little spoon. I called the vet and got a tranquilizer and doped him up every night for three days. He was stumbling around like Courtney Love on a Tuesday until he would pass out. He seems to have forgotten about it now.

ANYWAY. Goethe was gone and gone and I called the pound every day, and was hoping she’d turn up since she’s a menace, chipped, and licensed. P. and I decided to tell ourselves that some old lady had kidnapped her and was smothering her with love and tuna. Even though she is an asshole and hates strangers outside the house and will claw them. Anyway, I knew what the reality probably was and it was a bummer.

Then on Saturday night I was laying in bed and I heard a distinct and annoying yowling! GOETHE RETURNS! She was skinny and demanded pettles for fifteen minutes, and then I gave her some turkey. She didn’t seem to be dehydrated, though, so that’s good. If only you could talk, Gertie. You would say: “Fuck you, gimmie some more turkey or I walk again!”

I also took Feral Dwarf to Dragon Fest, and she had a nice time. She likes eating rando dim sum samplers for $2 each. She also had a fish-shaped waffle with adzuki filling. She also became a dragon.

The yard berries are popping off. I made a blueberry buckle on Sunday but not out of my blueberries. I don’t have enough yet. Maybe in a couple of years.

But for now there is enough for a snack each day. Today Franny came back on the ferry. She had some interesting stories about her month over there, and I’m sure more will come out in the next couple of weeks while she’s here. Then she’s gone for two more weeks, and then back until school starts.

I am also up to my ass in bathroom fixture and tile ideas. It’s time to dig into the utility room. I’ll have some hideous “before” pictures soon, which will be followed by hideous “during” and “after” pictures, because you know my taste. I’m trying to keep it in the flavor of the house, so square tiles and chrome. What I do not want is a tiled countertop like all the surfaces upstairs. Too much work!

“May you burst like a toad”

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Summer’s in full swing here now, a little earlier than some years. Some people say summer doesn’t start until July 5th. The yard is looking really beautiful, in spite of a medium amount of benign neglect. Not Grey Gardens level, just a little, though. The only real eyesore is the hedge. It’s been cut back about 6 feet at this point and the top is all level. I know 15 minutes from now it’s going to be UNIFORM WALL OF LAUREL but for now it’s…well. You can see for yourself. It’s providing lots of firewood, which we were using until about two weeks ago, ha.

I put up some pictures of the really amazing, mature rhododendrons that this house came with. That’s how they looked between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

This is going to sound ridiculous, but this yard came with almost every shrub and tree that I love. There is a mature pieris. I planted a pieris when I lived in that busted-ass unending renovation project in Crown Hill ten years ago. It was very wee and I left it.

There is a forsythia here. There was a wild forsythia in my backyard as a kid. I say wild, but who knows, really? I was told the woods my parents built their house on was an old farm about a hundred years before we came along so who knows if it just popped up or was planted. Did rural Illinois Victorian-era farmers plant forsythias? I don’t know. We found chucked glass medicine bottles and cow bones in our yard. Forsythias remind me of being little. It was next to a gooseberry bush, and surrounded by many fierce wild blackberries. I was the only one who ate them. Why on earth these were not turned into pies or frozen or canned is beyond me. That is exactly what you do with wild blackberries.

There is a golden chain tree. They make terrible suckers but I love them. Our Swedish grandma neighbor had some when we lived by the Zoo. There is an Italian prune tree. There is a lavender rose that was already established here. I’ve planted one at every house. I never thought much about fir trees, but I do a lot now, because they are my view as I lay in my hammock now. I have wanted a hammock for years but I never really had a yard I wanted to lie around in.

So I have discovered I have plant nostalgia.

Speaking of which, I made Chicago dogs the other night. I crave them in the summer and I feel like it’s my duty to foist them upon the girls occasionally. They are not 100% authentic, but pretty close. I’ve discovered I prefer shredded peperoncini because they’re easier to eat. When I was a kid I thought it was normal to roll into a mall and buy one. I dyed the relish.

I knew something was off and I remembered later that I forgot the raw onions. It was still good though. It’s like a salad on a eyeballs and butthole tube! Ok ok, I buy the beef ones. Seriously, though, do not do this without celery salt. I have celery salt for one reason. I even use my Old Bay more.

I will interrupt this ramble to say What One Dish Of Any Meal Will Taste Like at My House, aka Spices and Herbs I Abuse Most:

1. Paprika
2. Dill
3. Paprika AND dill
4. Thyme
5. Chipotle chili powder

Since I am doing spring mental-barf housekeeping very late, I’ll say that, obviously, beekeeping did not come to pass this year. I swear I was just bone tired a good six months after we moved in here, for lots of reasons. I did pick up a couple of pullets this spring, though. I decided to try the lower-fuss method of getting them feathered out and ready for the yard. The advantages are obvious: they are ready to go in your coop the day you bring them home, no brooder box needed. The drawback is that they are much more skittish since they’re not being held multiple times a day from day one. Strudel can get them to eat out of her hand but I cannot.

However, these old gals are hoors for table scraps.

Chicken n waffles! I made banana-cashew waffles for four. I am still trying to adjust portions to account for Franny’s temporary absence. She eats as much as an adult, and often more.

So here’s the new babies:

The black one is a Jersey giant. I tried to get one before with my last batch when I acquired the Todd Nebula (boo) but the chick cacked it a day in, and my Australorp ended up being named Snooki which suits her very well. The new giant’s name is Fruit Loop. The speckled one is named Fred Burkle. She’s an Orloff. The white one is some utility breed, I think? The interesting thing about her is that she has one blue eye and one greenish one. She didn’t have a name at first but Franny bigfooted it and now her name is Roger Sterling.

To which I say:

I’ve had them for about a month now. Man, I have been busy. I’m trying to balance blogging among the house and work and life and writing! It’s not easy. But I miss it. I think I am over my writing mania period, as I expected would happen. I’m editing now, which is hard, hard, much harder than writing. Every day I do something is a day I feel I haven’t just racked up, uselessly. It’s good to pay the bills but there has to be more, as well. If nothing else I think the discipline of waking up early has done me a lot of good.

In a more timely fashion, here is that hole-plugger I mentioned for the fence.

Ugly!!

Have a nice F.U. England day!!