March 31, 2005

Falling Hard

If a tree falls in the suburbs, does it make a sound?

The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Say it with me, “Oh yes yes yes! The falling suburban tree makes a mighty, mighty sound!”

The first to be heard was a tall cherry tree whose gentle lean seemed innocuous at first glance but which became more ominous upon closer inspection. Those Who Know About Such Things said the split in the trunk was due to wind. Wind that caused its massive trunk to twist and split from the pressure. I honestly didn't really believe the first Tree Man who suggested that. How could it be wind damage? After two others opined the same, however, I opened my mind to the possibility. They also all seemed to know it was a cherry tree. News to me. To me, cherry trees all look like those planted around the Tidal Basin. You know, the ones that are about to bloom into a riot of pink delicate beauty in our Nation's Capitol. This cherry tree, however, wasn't like those at all.

But back to that split. Geez. It would take the seriously windiest of the windy-ass winds to torque a tree that size. Mother Nature is amazing.

I could slip my fingers into the long crack. It was almost soft inside, crumbly. Trees aren’t supposed to feel like that. Before another random force came along and caused it to give up the tenuous hold on its vertical position and crush not only our pretty fence but also our neighbor’s house, we called in someone to bring it down more gently.

Tree people are interesting folks. There are more than a few consistencies among them, such as they all drive trucks. While I am usually loathe to stereotype, I nevertheless feel confident making such a sweeping statement. Oh wait. They all wear caps too. And need a shave. At least here in northern Virginia they do. And the obvious commonality: they all are fucking crazy. Why else would they dangle themselves so far off the ground hanging by strings tied with dubious knots way the hell up in trees? Sane people don't do that. They just don't.

In addition to the injured cherry tree, we had another issue: The Mighty Pine. A stately tree, towering 80 feet in the air, growing about a yard from the foundation of our porch. It hovered over the house, dropping incredible quantities of debris which regularly had to be cleared from the roof. Not to mention the potential danger from falling branches. If one of those massive branches happened to fall on the roof, there is no telling what size hole it would leave behind. While such a hole could make interesting conversation, our roof prefers to remain intact. Really. It told us so. The roof did. Roofs rarely lie.

I had never seen a tree taken down, at least not any tree of enormity. It was a fascinating process to watch. The Tree Man strapped on spikes and a harness, his chain saw dangled from his belt. He scrambled up the tree with the greatest of ease, ropes and pulleys trailing as he ascended the trunk. Can you spot him in the picture?

The process required much coordinated rope tying and cutting. He zipped off whole branches and lowered them gently to the ground. His men would swarm the fallen limb with their chain saws and feed the detritus into the chipper.

Cutting down trees is loud work. The kind of loud that can't be escaped without getting in the car and driving away. Far, far away. Chain saws. Chippers. Stump grinders. It was a veritable cacophony. I stood around with my fingers in my ears.

The crown and trunk of the tree were handled a bit differently than the branches. A rope was tied around it high up and the crew on the ground put steady pressure to influence the direction of the fall. The cut segment would plummet in a semi-controlled manner to the ground far below. Once the trunk was of a certain height, a rope at the top and a cut at the bottom brought the rest of it down as one piece.

And that’s when I heard it. The Whomp Heard 'Round the Suburbs. As I stood gaping, the main trunk crashed down, shaking the ground with an amazingly loud whomp. Whomp describes but one dimension of the sound. It was deep. It was resounding. It was jarring. Yet soft. It could be felt it inside and out. Body and house. The soles of my feet were left tingling.

Not surprisingly, the trunk of the tree left a trunk-shaped depression in the ground. So did the ground make the sound or was it the tree? I don’t know. It was fleeting and left only a resonant memory. This cherry tree, however, left a ton of what will become firewood. The cross-section of the trunk revealed how far the decay had progressed. Poor tree.

I thought the cherry tree coming down was impressive. But that was before they started on The Mighty Pine.

One approach to our house is driving downhill on a fairly quiet suburban street. The Mighty Pine could be seen towering over the roof. Before the other non-pine trees bloomed for the season, the greenness of The Mighty Pine offered a splash of bright color against the brown nakedness of the other treetops. That view had been there, in some form, for 76 years, give or take a few. (Yes the tree was at least that old. I counted the rings. The cross-section fascinates me. I know, I know, I make it sound like so much faux drama. But seriously. 76 years is a lifetime's worth of years.)

So the Tree Man was way the hell up in that pine tree, roping and cutting and lowering down massive branches one by one. Amazingly, nothing even came close to hitting the roof despite the proximity. As the limbs hit the ground, his crew swarmed and cleared them. Then it came time to take down the crown of the tree.

My neighbor and I were standing in the far back of the yard, staying out of the way, watching the men work. As the massive crown of this tree was brought down, I think I screamed something along the lines of “HOLY SHIT!” as it crashed to the earth. I could not hear myself yelling. The noise as it crashed through the upper reaches of our other trees and the whooshing sound it made as it fell covered up my pathetic fearful mewling. It was more entertaining than many movies I’ve seen.

But the best was yet to come. The most impressive event of the day was the felling of the trunk of The Mighty Pine. Oh sure, taking off the crown had been exciting. But much of the tree's height, albeit naked height, still remained. We spectators waited patiently for the brush to be cleared, the ropes to be set and the cuts to be made.

At this point we had a little flock of spectators. Our neighbor and me, the neighbors behind and the family of five from two doors down were all watching intently from a safe distance as the work progressed. Well. In reality, the little baby in the mother's arms probably wasn't really watching. But his sister and brother appeared riveted.

Before descending the tree, the Tree Man had attached a rope high on the trunk. Five guys held the other end. They were poised to play a game of tug-o-war, it seemed. The Tree Man made a few cuts at the base of the tree and signaled to the others to start pulling. I was bouncing back and forth on the balls of my feet in anticipation as discreetly as I could manage. (I'm sure I looked like a complete idiot. I was out there bouncing and snapping pictures like a tourist in my own backyard. Eh, who cares? No one was paying attention to me anyway.)

Zip zip zip. Sharp cracking sound. Gentle tug-tug-tugging. Whistling whooosh. Loud whomp and it was over. A rousing cheer arose from the spectators. I cheered with them but as that trunk hit the ground, a little balloon of guilt burst in my chest. We had just butchered a perfectly good tree. A perfectly good tree that had been growing long before any of us came along. A perfectly good tree who merely had the misfortune of growing too close to our house. An unfortunate Mighty Pine.

I thought back to just a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago when the weather was sunny and bright, a break in the brisk cold of a typical winter day. That sunny bright weather combined with a free Saturday afternoon had me hankering to do something outdoors. First I scooped poop, a neverending outdoor chore. As I made my poop-scooping rounds through the backyard, the thick layer of pine needles covering the roof of the porch caught my eye and niggled at my conscience.

There was a chore that really needed doing! But I'd have to get up on the roof to do it. Heights and me do not get along. Never have, never will. But a wild hair hit. Before I knew it, I had the ladder out, the rake and broom tossed up on the roof. Then I hauled my fat ass up there.

It was about then when Wendy came out of the house and said, "What are you doing up there!?"

You see, roof climbing is Wendy's domain. Because I prefer my feet on the ground and such. But remember that wild hair. I had a mission. She sighed, grabbed the other broom, and climbed up to join me.

We cleared the roof of a thick layer of tree debris. Wendy climbed over to the front of the house and cleaned the gutters while she was up there. I stayed on the relatively flat porch roof and swept and raked. It's an odd thing to rake a roof, yes it is.

So for now I just need to remind myself of the amount of work it was to clean up after that tree. Mountains of pine needles. I should think of Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth, moving a hill of sand one grain at a time with a pair of tweezers. That's what cleaning up after that tree felt like. Never-ending mountains of pine needles. Maybe then I won't feel so bad about having had it cut it down. Maybe.

I think I'll make up for both of those trees by planting two others. It seems only right.


March 30, 2005


After more than a few email comments (thanks for caring, y'all!), I realize I may not have been clear when I posted that The Boy would not be HOME again until October.

That does NOT mean we will not SEE him until October. In actuality, we will see him three times before the school year is over and again this summer.

Wendy and I are mobile, after all. There is, however, a difference between a traveling visit and actually having him home.

So yeah. I know. I should just quit whining.
Done and done.


March 29, 2005

More Than One?

I was out doing a few errands today, the last of which was to stop for a twelve-pack of cheap beer. Heaven forbid we run out. Convenience took me to the 7-11 where we used to shop frequently. It is the 7-11 where I cultivated the employees by always giving a smile and a warm greeting. It didn't take long before they reciprocated, although some were more challenging than others. I kept at it until I beat them into submission won them over. They could not resist my charm. I so much prefer shopping where I'm actually treated like a welcome customer.

It was the middle of the afternoon and I was the only customer in the store. The fellow behind the counter said, "Hey, where've you been? I haven't seen you lately."

I smiled, "Well since I quit smoking I don't stop in that often anymore."

He nodded and said, "Good for you."

I said, "I see you have new neighbors across the street" as I pointed at the McMansions squatting on their mudlots.

He squinched up his face and chuckled. "Oh those places! Those places are haunted! At night they will find all four ghosts coming to visit, oh yes they will." He looked practically gleeful.

(As an aside, I found it impossible to accurately convey his speech pattern tactfully. English is not his first language and his accent is very strong. I gave up trying and consequently he sounds just like me.)

I crinkled up my face in return, thinking back to the one unfortunate person I knew had died on that property. "There are four ghosts over there? I thought there was only one."

The fellow replied, "Oh I think there are four." He held his hands together like he was choking something. "But even if there is just one, that ghost will come up at night and get those folks like this!"

He laughed heartily and I joined in.
But it was just a tiny bit ooogie.
Yet still amusing.

I just had a "fuck me" moment. Not one of the good kind of "fuck me" moments either. More of a "holy shit did I just do that?" kind of "fuck me" moment.

Ever have one of those?
If not and you'd like to try, I've got a few to share.
You're welcome to have one of mine.


March 28, 2005

Monday Morning

Wendy is at work. But for me, today is a holiday. A paid holiday. Which explains why I am still in bed. I should really say, back in bed.

I’m listening. I hear Cosine click-click-clicking around downstairs. One level down, not two. Soon she’ll find her way back up here to the bedroom. I’ll stop what I am doing and give her a lift up. I’ll scratch her head and rub her hips. She’ll make those endearing groaning noises I already know I’m going to miss one day. For now, I pet her the way I know she loves.

Our neighbor across the street, Mr. Eveningmoon (his name has been changed to protect the innocent), is someone I depend on, despite the fact we have never spoken, merely waved at each other from afar. He always puts his trash can out the night before the trash men cometh, a visual reminder for us. He places a large rock on the lid. When the trash men empty it, they move the rock to the curb. Voila! Sign language answering the question "is it too late for us to wheel our can to the curb?"

Recycling is a different matter. We have to put the recycling out the night before. The recycling truck comes by butt crack early.

I’m still listening. I hear the heat running. It’s quite cold today despite spring supposedly having sprung. I hear rain. It’s supposed to rain all day. Heavily.

(I wish my coffee cup would spontaneously refill itself.)

I don’t hear The Boy. He’s still asleep. His ride back to school will arrive around ten this morning. He’ll walk out the door of our home, not to return until October. Oc-freaking-tober.

It’s silly to be looking forward to Fall when Spring has just begun.


March 24, 2005

"Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick"

Jennifer from Inside My Head conked me over the head with this big stick. Because my head is so hard, I barely felt it. In retaliation, I wrestled her to the ground and took possession of this meme. That's how I remember it, anyway. Her version of the story may be drastically different.
  • You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

  • I, much like Jennifer, do not quite understand how to answer this question. My first thought was "Stuck inside Fahrenheit 451? No book deserves that fate!" Then for some reason, Southern Cross by Patricia Cornwell popped into my head. Now if that book went up in flames, would anyone even miss it?

  • Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

  • Why yes, yes I have! I know, I know. Hard to believe. However it is not unusual at all for me to become enamoured with characters crafted in other people's minds. Two (relatively) recent ones I remember fondly:

    • Kinsey Millhone, the detective from Sue Grafton's Alphabet Series. The crush intensified while listening to a few books from the series on audiocassettes read by Judy Kaye (that woman so brings characters to life!)

    • Ophelia, from Robin Hobbs' Liveship Traders trilogy. Ophelia is a liveship. I'd like to go sailing on her.

  • Longest lasting crush?

  • It is also the earliest I can recall: Harriet the Spy from the book of the same name. (Ummm... have I mentioned I'm a lesbian?)

  • The last book you bought is:

  • Ghost of a Chance by Linda Crawford

  • The last book you read finished:

  • Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn

  • What are you currently reading?

  • I'm one of those who typically has several books going at once.
    Night Fall by Nelson DeMille
    The Florida Review (Volume 29.2)
    The Liars' Club by Mary Karr

  • Five books you would take to a deserted island:

  • I'll assume I'm stranded indefinitely on the island. The list would be quite different if I was just visiting.

    Being a dedicated suburbanite, I would definitely benefit from having this book along: Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival Skills: Naked into the Wilderness

    For memories of my pre-desert island life, I'd want these two books. One was written by my father, Modern Marine Salvage, and the other, Advanced Bluewater Cruising, by my step-father. This may sound completely off the wall to a non-book-lover, but I could hug those books to my chest and my mind would flood with family memories and all the comfort held therein. Better than food. I'd be much less lonely. Plus my dad's book would make a good pillow in a pinch.

    I also think matches would come in handy, so I'll bring two books of those. Heh.

    Yes, I have a practical streak three miles wide.

  • Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

  • Dara. Because I owe her one.
    Sam. Because she's evidently feeling uninspired of late.
    Gina. Because I'm curious. (Yes I know. Curiosity killed the cat. But I'm not a cat so I'm not afraid.)


Highlights of Yesterday Morning

  • Flailed blindly at the alarm clock blaring in my ear.
  • Knocked over the cup of coffee Wendy so kindly left waiting in the same place she always leaves it.
  • Groaned in disbelief.
  • Reached out and put my hand in the coffee puddle, confirming the reality of my clumsiness.
  • Jumped up, grabbed a towel and cleaned up the mess.
  • Decided, inexplicably, to leave the dogs sleeping and do my morning routine backward.
  • Blearily hopped into the shower.
  • Raced to let the now-wide-awake dogs outside after my shower, dripping water and wearing only a towel.
  • Coaxed Cosine out into the pouring rain despite her obvious reluctance.
  • Reminded myself my morning routine was best approached routinely.
  • Spent far too long figuring out what to wear.
  • Departed for work 10 minutes late.
  • Observed the long lines of drenched tourists waiting in line to tour Mount Vernon, a sure sign of spring's imminent arrival.
This morning, however, is so far off to a much better beginning.


March 23, 2005


The Boy and I were out running errands yesterday (did I mention he's home for spring break?). After shopping we decided to stop by my friend Tina's house to say hello. Tina is also on spring break. Yes, she's one of those.

There was an extra car or two in front of their house. The front door was open. Before we could even ring the bell, the screen door flew open. Someone rushed out and leapt into The Boy's arms.

It was a friend he hadn't seen since leaving for college eighteen months ago. Evidently she was pleased to see him. And he, she.

Tina's house was full of children. Not children children, but teenage children. I swallowed a pang of envy and poked my head into the den to say hello to the crowd. I didn't recognize half of them but got hugs from the ones I did know.

Eighteen months is a long time in high school time.
Yet really not so much in the real world.


Interview Questions: Third and Final Round

Okay. Here are the questions for the remaining folks who wanted to play The Interview Game. Please post the answers on your own blog and let me know when they are up. Have fun! If you see a question on someone else's list you'd like to answer, feel free to do so, but only after you answer the ones assigned to you!

Udge had asked if the game was limited to women only. Truth is, he's the first man who wanted to play. I like men. I just don't like to sleep with them!
  1. Do you come from a large family? Do any relatives live nearby?
  2. Have you ever broken a bone? If so, share the story.
  3. What do you keep under your bed?
  4. What type of structure do you inhabit (i.e. single family home, apartment, cardboard box...) and how long have you lived there?
  5. Boxers or briefs?

  1. Do you ever take for granted the geographic beauty of the area where you live?
  2. Do you have any brothers and/or sisters?
  3. What was the last movie you saw and who did you see it with?
  4. How many pairs of socks do you own?
  5. Do you think we will see world peace in our lifetime?

  1. How many pairs of shoes do you own? Of those, how many do you actually wear on a regular basis?
  2. Describe the most passionate kiss you have ever experienced. Did you instigate said kiss?
  3. Have you ever been on a diet?
  4. Wool blankets: adore, tolerate, or abhor?
  5. From what source does the majority of your news come? Do you keep up-to-date on current events?

  1. What do the contents of your bathroom medicine cabinet reveal about you?
  2. When doing laundry, do you consider the job incomplete until everything is folded and put away?
  3. Describe what you see looking out your bedroom window.
  4. How important is religion in your life?
  5. What is your favorite television show?

  1. Have you ever had braces on your teeth?
  2. How do you best enjoy fresh asparagus prepared?
  3. If you own an automobile, when was the last time you washed it? If you don't own one, what is your usual method of transportation?
  4. Would you ever want to be a contestant on a reality show? If so, would you choose to be on Survivor or Fear Factor?
  5. What do you love about your job?

  1. Do you keep a scale in your bathroom? If so, how often do you step on it?
  2. How often do you wear pantyhose?
  3. When was the last time you lost your temper and what was it over?
  4. Which do you feel better equipped to parent, a boy or a girl?
  5. Is there anything hanging from your rear view mirror? If yes, what is it?

  1. Have you ever paddled a paddle boat in the Tidal Basin? If so, tell us about it. If no, is it something you would enjoy doing?
  2. What is your favorite Chinese food?
  3. When you get angry, how does it manifest? Yelling? Tears? Something else?
  4. Do you rent or own your home? Do you live alone?
  5. Do you believe sociopathic behavior is due more to nature or nurture?

Alrighty then. I look forward to reading your answers.
Thanks for playing!


March 21, 2005

Interview Questions Part Deux!

The Interview Game continues for those who arrived fashionably late. Again, please post the answers on your own blog and let me know when they are up. Have fun! If you see a question on someone else's list you'd like to answer, feel free to do so, but only after you answer the ones assigned to you!

  1. Terri Schiavo: Do you agree with what our government is doing?
  2. What inspires your passion for educating people about underage and binge drinking?
  3. If there was one point in your life to which you could return to experience again, not change, what would it be and why?
  4. How were you introduced to the world of horses?
  5. Do you routinely color your hair?

Wash Lady
  1. How did you used to spend the time you now spend blogging?
  2. Do you enjoy Cadbury Creme Eggs?
  3. When your daughter departs for college next fall, what one thing about her will you miss the most?
  4. Showers or baths?
  5. You are home alone for several hours. How would you use the time?

trisha (I'm so glad you pulled your head out of your ass, I'm giving you SIX questions!)
  1. What was it you wrote that caused your mother to cease reading your blog? If you had it to do over again, would you handle it the same?
  2. Do you know your immediate neighbors by name? Are you friendly with them?
  3. It's Sunday evening at 7:30. Where would you typically be and what would you typically be doing?
  4. Rate your personal silliness factor on a scale of one to ten.
  5. Death penalty: for or against?
  6. Hot chocolate, with or without marshmallows?

  1. What is your favorite meal to prepare for company?
  2. How do you stand living so far from the ocean?
  3. What size bed do you prefer and do you have a bed that size now?
  4. Where are you most comfortable: city, suburbs or country? Why?
  5. Do you consider yourself spiritual and if so, how does it manifest?

That Girl
  1. Do you prefer peppermint, spearmint or wintergreen?
  2. What do you do to earn a living and do you find it personally satisfying?
  3. What is your favorite vegetable and how do you best like it prepared?
  4. How often do you have a manicure?
  5. You are offered the chance to choose between an all expenses paid vacation to the Caribbean or one to Alaska. Which do you choose and why?

  1. How do you feel about flannel sheets?
  2. How do you react when a street person asks you for money?
  3. You appear to be a new blogger. What prompted you to begin such a journal and when are you going to post again?
  4. Describe your ideal Saturday evening.
  5. Your toilet is overflowing. How do you handle the situation?

Again, thanks for playing!


March 20, 2005

Evidently We're Still Teenagers

I saw it first out of the corner of my eye. Blurred eyes not quite all the way open after a hazy late night. There it was in the mirror. I was the only one in the bathroom so I knew I was looking at myself. Granted, it's small yet still it jumped right out at me.

I remember lecturing The Boy's First Serious Girlfriend about such things. Lectured is really not the right word. Whined is more like it. Got all motherly and gave the "unacceptable never want to see it again aw come on give a mom a break if you freaking have to at least put it where I can't see it dammit" speech.

And now this. On me. There it is as plain as day. Maturity, come to find out, is intermittent. Even for quote unquote old folks.

I'm certain in this instance it was accidental. Perhaps incidental? Evidently these things can happen without intent. Indeed this experience exhibits just that. In the heat of the moment, a slip of a lip can become a visual reminder of a moment not really in need of a visual reminder to be remembered.

Yet there it is. Until it fades and only the memory remains.

And the damned thing better fade. Before The Boy arrives home tomorrow for spring break.

The memory, however, I'll hold on to.


March 19, 2005

Interview Questions

Okay folks, following are the interview questions I've compiled for those of you who asked. Please post the answers on your own blog and let me know when they are up. Have fun! If you see a question on someone else's list you'd rather answer, feel free to do so, but only after you answer the ones assigned to you!

  1. How did you decide you wanted to become a librarian?
  2. When did you realize you were a lesbian?
  3. If there was one thing you could guarantee in life for your daughter, what would it be and why?
  4. Ever been skinny dipping?
  5. How big a role does music play in your life?

  1. Which team is your pick to win the NCAA Basketball Tournament?
  2. What is your favorite PMS snack?
  3. Have you ever visited a nude beach?
  4. Where do you see your life in 10 years?
  5. Do you prefer your men to wear boxers or briefs?

  1. Share a favorite memory of your mother.
  2. Have you ever travelled outside of the USA? If so, where? If no, why not?
  3. What is your favorite outdoor activity?
  4. How long have you been "out" as a lesbian?
  5. If you could re-do one thing you've done in life, what would it be and why?

Late Edition
  1. What is the last book you read?
  2. Describe the person you've known the longest and the role they've played in your life.
  3. Morning person or night owl?
  4. What life accomplishment are you most proud of?
  5. What is your favorite fruit and how often do you eat it?

  1. What's more important to you: money or love?
  2. What initially attracted you to the man you married?
  3. If there was one thing you could guarantee in life for your son, what would it be and why?
  4. Miracle Whip or mayonnaise?
  5. Fiscally conservative by choice, necessity or neither?

Jane Doe
  1. When a stranger passes you on the street, what about you catches their eye?
  2. What is the most outrageous thing you've ever done?
  3. Romance. Rate its importance in your life on a scale of one to ten.
  4. Is chili really chili if it contains beans?
  5. What concerns you the most about the future of earth's environment?

Thanks for playing!


March 18, 2005

The Interview Game

I was perusing Marykay's Much Ado about Nothing one day. She was playing The Interview Game and I thought it would be fun to participate.

That was weeks ago.
Where does the time go?

Without further delay, here are the questions she asked and my answers. The rules of the game follow.
  1. Do you have a favorite word?
  2. No. And by that I don't mean that "no" is my favorite word.

  3. If you could tackle any social or environmental issue what would it be?
  4. Quality education for the youth of America. I'll leave it at that, lest I start ranting.

  5. Sweet or salty?
  6. Nine times out of ten, sweet.

  7. What's your favorite Johnny Cash song?
  8. I've been a Johnny Cash fan since I was a little girl. I'm torn between Ring of Fire and I Walk the Line. But then I think about A Boy Named Sue and Folsom Prison Blues and I've Been Everywhere and memories of good times of being a little kid in the car with my parents with Johnny Cash on the radio and I wonder why Marykay thought I'd even know any Johnny Cash songs at all, let alone have a favorite.

    Okay. It's I Walk the Line. I'm not afraid of commitment.

  9. Who left first, Lyle or Julia?
  10. It was Julia. Because she's flaky that way. Or maybe she listened when he sang "Ooh give back my heart chipkicker-redneck woman. Take your boots and walk out of my life."

The Official Interview Game Rules
  1. If you want to participate, leave a comment below saying "interview me."
  2. I will respond by asking you five questions - each person's will be different.
  3. You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.
  4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
  5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Thank you, Marykay!


March 17, 2005

Ah Alex, We Were Just Getting to Know You

It was just wrong, wrong in so many ways, wrong wrong wrong to turn this delightful young lady into an angry aggressive beer-can-tossing shrewish drunken lesbian.

I may never forgive them.

Photo borrowed from here who borrowed it from Fox
Smiling Clover

Green beer is a crime against nature.
That's only my humble opinion, of course.

My sister, way way back in the day, once turned the milk we always had with dinner green. Actually, she turned mine green and hers blue. Completely spoiled my appetite and I could not drink it. I can't remember if she drank hers or not.

I stick to plain beer of a natural color and leave the green stuff to the Irish and faux-Irish.

Works for me.


March 16, 2005

Sunday Revelation

Wendy and I were snuggled on the couch, fire roaring, TV tuned to Showtime awaiting an episode of The L-Word .

Shocking I know. Lesbians enjoying watching a television show about lesbians. How bizarre. But not really. Even if those lesbians are not exactly like us, there is some commonality (and it's not bad hair!).

Wendy asked me whether I think Jennifer Beals makes a convincing lesbian. I paused briefly to reflect and said "Yes, I think she does." Wendy nodded her agreement.

Then came one of the final scenes of the episode. Bette in NYC picks up a stranger in a bar and takes her back to her hotel room to... uh... get to know her better.

It was during the scene in the hotel room I definitively decided yes, Jennifer Beals plays a very convincing lesbian.


For what it's worth, I also must admit something else I said. I also said "There is no way in hell I could ever do what she has just done."

But just what did I mean by that?
Wendy knew.
And that's all that matters.


March 15, 2005

I like to take my time.
To prepare.
To be ready.
To not rush.

When I rush, I forget things.
Things better remembered.
Things like exchanging my slippers for my shoes before leaving the house.

It's better to remember things like that.

I ought to know.


Montana Makes Me Think of Dental Floss

More specifically, Montana makes me think of Frank Zappa.

So we've been waiting to hear where The Boy will be working this summer. Last Thursday he called to catch us up. What he had turned down already. What he still had on the table. What he really wanted to have on the table but what was not yet even officially on the menu. The question with which he wrestled: should he turn down an invitation to a particular dinner party, thereby risking having to spend the whole summer at home (that would be interesting!) working god-knows-what-kind-of-job to hold out for the possibility the fillet mignon he really craved was about to be served?

I listened to him discuss pros and cons. One part of me was like "You already turned down a principal role? And now you want to turn down something else? You want to risk getting stuck waiting tables all summer? Have you lost your mind?"

The larger part of me was like "What are you worried about? You'll get the offer you want, among others. It's early. Relax, be patient, be confident."

Maybe I said all of that. Or maybe I didn't say any of that. Because WTF do I know? Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Not a damned thing. It's a very frustrating position for a parent. A parent like me, anyway.

Friday night he called again. He got the offer he'd been hoping for: the fillet mignon. Medium rare, just the way he likes it. The Boy's going to spend the summer in Bigfork... Bigfork, Montana.

Proving once again that children expand one's horizons.
We've never seen that part of the country.
Come this fall, we won't be able to say that any more.

I wonder if there are many lesbians in Montana?
I wonder why I wonder.


March 14, 2005

Food Chain

I was chatting with my mother on the phone last Friday evening. The call waiting beeped in. I glanced at the caller ID. It was The Boy. I said, "Mom, it's The Boy. I'll call you right back."


March 13, 2005

Old Lady Driver?

I've been driving grocery carts since I was tall enough to reach the handle. They haven't changed much through the years, those carts. Easy to operate, no instructions needed. More things in life should be so simple.

While growing up, grocery shopping was a real family affair. My mother, who is a good planner, would load several coolers into the trunk (gotta keep those frozen goods frozen!) while prodding my sister and me into the car. Off we would drive to the commissary. Yes, the commissary. I never set foot in a non-military grocery store until I was grown.

We would shop for a month at a time. That's right. A whole month's worth of groceries were purchased in one trip. My sister, my mother and I each would push a cart. (Did you know you need to shake milk that has been frozen before using it? People who don't buy a month's worth of milk in one shopping trip and then freeze it until they need it may not be aware of this fact. If you don't shake it before using it you get lots of little floating white flakes in your milk. I don't like lots of little floating white flakes in my milk.)

Fast forward many years. I've been an independent adult grocery shopper responsible for pushing carts safely around grocery stores for a long time. If pressed, I may even admit to being an expert despite the fact professing expertise in grocery cart pushing seems rather lame. So when what happened on my last trip to the grocery store actually happened, it was startling indeed.

I was over near the deli, seeking out a sack of the sesame bagel chips Wendy so adores. I negotiated a slight turn, pushing my cart in front of me as I have done a million and one times before. It was a simple manuever, not requiring great concentration or serious cart control. Evidently, however, I was not applying even the minimal amount of necessary attention to the task at hand.

The folly of my inattentiveness would soon be apparent to all. To me and many other shoppers and employees at the Safeway.

Somehow, and I'm still not exactly sure how, but somehow I managed to clip the edge of a stacked display of cases of plastic bottles of bright pink vitamin-fortified water. My cart impacted with enough force to topple the top three cases, sending sixteen ounce grenades of pink fluid flying through the air then bursting as they landed, spraying their colorful liquid contents on everything nearby.


A nearby employee gave me the hairy eyeball then called for a cleanup crew. I smiled my thanks and gave a little "so sorry I'm such a fucking klutz and you have to deal with the aftermath" grimace-shrug as I hightailed it away from the scene.

Truth be told, it wasn't the first time I've made a huge mess in a grocery store and it may not be the last. The first time was also a container of fluid bursting like a fountain all over the aisle. That time it was a gallon of milk. There was no cart involved. That time I was goofing around carrying the milk on my shoulder and it slipped off. Don't ask. I'm not telling any more.

At times, it's a good policy.


March 10, 2005


My morning routine is about as sweet a morning routine as my imagination can imagine a morning routine to be.

I hear other people talk about their mornings. I secretly smile inside my head where no one else can catch even the merest glimpse of me smiling. My outside may be smiling also, but it would be smiling a different kind of smile, not the incredulous oh-my-freaking-god-how'd-I-get-blessed-with-such-a-fabulous-morning-routine kind of smile I'd be smiling inside.

My morning begins by slapping the snooze bar for Wendy, usually once, sometimes twice. She gets up early. Comparatively. As she's leaving, she drops off a cup of coffee on my nightstand and kisses me goodbye.

Sounds pretty good so far, doesn't it? Ayup.

I don't get up until Cosine gets up. She's my Cue of Choice lately as she's not at all trustworthy first thing in the morning. However she doesn't stir until sometime between 7:30 and 8:00 am, enough time for me to have sipped my hot coffee, slapped the snooze bar for myself a few more times, and regained a modicum of consciousness.

Then it's up and about and the beginning of the day. Pets to tend. Showers to take. Clothes to put on. Phone calls to make. Commutes to drive. Jobs to do. You know, life.

But that first little bit of consciousness, that initial wakefulness. The aroma of the hot coffee, the warm sheets, the radio softly droning, the soft kiss on my cheek.

Such is life with the child grown.

Not all bad.
Not all bad after all.


March 9, 2005

On Being the Bug

I've had bad windshield karma for as long as I've owned cars. If there is a loose rock or other menacing road detritus it will find a way to become intimate with my windshield. Guaranteed. Generally those renegade marauders leave behind a nice chip or crack or some similar destructive memento of their visit.

I was overjoyed when windshield specialists began offering the option of on-site replacement. On-site meaning MY site. They'll come right my car, wherever it happens to be, and install a brand spanking new windshield. I've had windshields replaced by the side of the road. In our carport. In the parking garage at two different jobs. Another by the side of a different road. Yet another in our driveway. I kid you not. And those are only the ones I vaguely remember. Who knows how many I've forgotten? The chips and cracks I get in my windshields are never, repeat, never minor enough to be repaired instead of replaced. Evidently my karma forbids a minor ding.

Last week I was driving along a road I often drive along. It was a melty kind of day. Melty in that the sun was shining and the temperature was moderate. The kind of day that hints of spring but really doesn't mean it. Passing under the ancient-but-still-functional railroad bridge, I swerved gently to avoid a large chunk of ice in my lane. From whence that ice came, I do not really know. I assumed it had melted free from the bridge above. Turns out that chunk of ice was the least of my worries. What I should have been worried about was the Chicken Little Effect.

Y'all remember Chicken Little don't you? The fearful biddy of "the sky is falling" fame? If you don't know the story, you're not missing much. She was such an alarmist. But I could have used her warning that day.

You see, as I passed under the bridge something fell from the sky. Actually, "fell" doesn't quite describe it. Something plummeted from the sky. Yes, plummeted is more like it. That plummeting something hit my windshield with resounding force, scaring the living shit out of me and causing my last non-gray hair to join the others. I softly cursed under my breath as I took note of the multitude of brand new spidering cracks now criss-crossing my windshield.

I assumed it had been another chunk of ice falling from the bridge. When I got home and took a look at the damage from outside of the car, it became instantly apparent it had not been a chunk of ice at all. Oh no no no. Definitely not ice. It was a rock. I knew it was a rock because that rock was perched jauntily in the groove between the hood and the windshield. That rock was getting jiggy with the wiper blades. I turned away in horror.

Karma is some tricky shit. Three seconds one way or the other and that rock would have missed me entirely.

This lack of windshield karma can get expensive.


March 8, 2005

Good Advice

On my way out the door taking out the trash on this windy frigid evening I said: "If I'm not back in 30 seconds or so, come save me."

Wendy replied: "Just don't put your tongue on anything out there. You'll be fine."


What a Difference a Day Makes!

Yesterday: 67 °, bright sunshine, strolling in shirtsleeves down the streets of Old Town exchanging happy smiles with strangers who were also out tasting the hint of spring.

Today: 27 °, heavy blowing snow, covering us once again in a beautiful clean blanket of white. The screen on our screened porch is coated with delicate icy crystals from top to bottom. Interesting effect.


Communication Interrupted.

I don't know much about astrology or planets aligning or anything mystical and ethereal like that. I know just enough to feel confident blaming this past weekend on the pull of the unknown.

Has Saturn been overshadowing Mars? Did the Age of Aquarius get caught up in the tractor beam of Dead Planet Walking? Did the great bow wielded by Orion loose a sharp arrow in the direction of the Pleiades spanking the eldest sister sharply in the ass? Does my incoherent babble fall on deaf ears, or leave a sense of dismay and mild alarm?

This past weekend hosted cosmic events of a magnitude yet to be determined. The extent may never be fully known. Those I've spoken with, and others about which I've heard more than mere rumors, have fascinating stories from these days just passed. Stories of malcontent and disharmony exploding with acerbic vitriol. All radars down, no warnings given. Normal communication rendered inoperative. Words spewed having no meaning and making little sense.

Were you there too? Or was this purely an East Coast phenomenon? Duck! Beware the fallout!

Sometimes I wish Wendy and I lived in a remote cave. She could hunt wild boar and I could roast it on a spit over an open fire.

On second thought, that doesn't sound very suburban at all. Maybe the local butcher could deliver a loin of wild boar to our holiday hideaway in the ether.

I'd settle for normalcy.
Or something like it.

Meanwhile, until the dust settles, I'll be content with another beer.
Join me?


March 7, 2005

Here's a happy birthday wish for my friend Tina, who has, albeit just for a few months, caught up.



One day last month I got an email from my stepmother. Chatty and newsy with a small mention about how they were thinking about consolidating properties and maybe moving.

Last week I received another email. Both houses sold, a new one purchased, moving date imminent.

Old people should not move so quickly.
It alarms the children.


March 4, 2005

News Flush?

J at Cheese and Whine shared this fascinating news tidbit. After reading it, I defy you to sit on the john and not feel compelled to peek to confirm there are no uninvited guests in the bowl.


Random Friday Morning Drivel

Wendy and I have been crushing on Netflix. Yes yes, I know. Movies and The Sopranos on top of American Idol and The O.C. What can I say? We never get out to the movies and haven't for years. We have a lot of catching up to do.

Plus we love hanging out around the fireplace. It's winter. When spring rolls around, I know from experience our television watching will drop off radically. When spring rolls around, we will be toiling in the yard or on the house. Or maybe sitting on the porch reading a book.

Some friends want to go snow tubing not this weekend but the weekend following. Part of me wants to go, but the other part says "What the hell does one wear snow tubing?" I'm certain there is nothing in my wardrobe suitable for such activity. But still... maybe we can borrow appropriate outdoor attire from someone? Something tells me snow tubing is more physical than river tubing. River tubing is much easier to dress for, I do know that.

We should find out this month where The Boy will be working this summer. I'll toss in a little knock on a little wood because while I have no doubt he'll be working, I don't want to jinx him. Does it hurt to indulge minor superstitions? I think not.


March 2, 2005

Sonny & Cher: An Update

Not last month but the month before, I shared the story of our friends Sonny & Cher and the herd of mice they adopted for the winter.

Wendy and I attended a party Saturday night where we had the pleasure of mixing and mingling with them. A conversation with Sonny revealed they are now housing and feeding nine captured mice.

His plan for disposal come springtime seems a bit vague. No need to worry. Sonny's a resourceful fellow.

In related news, this site recently got a hit from someone googling "get rid of baby mice."


March 1, 2005

The Cardboard Roll

A relatively new phenomenon has developed into one of the great mysteries of our household. I suppose it is possible it is not a new phenomenom at all, rather Wendy and I just never previously noticed. Or if we noticed, we just didn't care. (I'll leave the deeper thinking about why we perhaps have both taken notice now for another time. I mean, surely this issue gives cause for deeper thinking? Rest assured, parents, when your nest is empty, you, too, will have time to contemplate such fascinating issues of vital interest and importance.)

I do not understand why this
more often results in this
rather than this.

I ask you.
Does this happen in your homes?
What is up with that?