October 24, 2006

Like a Tree

It's that time of year again, time for the fall musical at The Boy's college. This year it's Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel, classic music theatre fare.

Until The Boy went off to college, we never missed an opening night, most often seeing every performance in a run. We're weird that way. Parents can get away with a certain amount of stalkerish behavior.

We haven't attended even one opening night since college began. Timing, distance. You know the drill. But I'll be there Thursday for this one. I only wish my girl could be there with me. Due to the very unfortunate timing of an accreditation review at Wendy's office, she is chained to her desk and unable to join me until the weekend.

Thinking on it, I'm pretty sure it'll be a first. A first for me being at one of his shows without her in the seat next to me. It's going to be odd. I feel selfish leaving her at home. Sure, she'll be joining me Saturday, but meanwhile I'll sit in the theatre with a stranger in the seat next to me, wishing it was Wendy instead.

The title of the post is from a song The Boy will perform, "Soliloquy". His character, Billy Bigelow, has just found out he is to be a father and is contemplating what he envisions for his child: "Like a tree he'll grow / with his head held high / and his feet planted firm on the ground... "

Just like our boy.
And almost as sappy as me.

After singing such a sweet emotional song of future hope and determination, Billy, in despair after botching a robbery attempt, plants a knife in his own belly.

Trees rarely behave that way.
Billy is obviously more like a weed.


October 22, 2006

Were I an Efficient Woman

Were I an efficient woman, there wouldn't be yet another pink card from our postal carrier announcing yet another non-delivery of yet another package.

Getting packages is cool. Getting a pink card from our postal carrier announcing he has a package for us but did not deliver it because no one was home is uncool. Completely uncool.

Do you get packages? Now and again? We do. Aren't packages fun? They are not always expected. They do not always fit in our mailbox. The ones that don't fit used to get delivered safe, warm, and dry in the carport. By the door. Where we'd find them when we returned home.

Our letter carrier, somewhat new to the route, a retired marine who "always adheres to the letter of the law" as directly quoted third-hand from a neighbor, states there is a new regulation requiring a homeowner to either be present to accept a package or have on file with the local Post Office a note stating it's okie-dokie to leave packages without a human presence to accept them.

This seems to be the height of postal inefficiency. Don't people pay extra to get "signature required" delivery? But he doesn't want a signature. He just wants us to be there to transfer the package from his hands to ours. He won't even leave it with our neighbor.

Oh sure, we can sign the little pink card and he'll bring the package in a few days. Or we can go to the Post Office and pick it up. Or we can write a note for him to keep on file saying it's okay for him to leave packages and he'll leave them like they always used to get left.

Were I an efficient woman, I'd have written the note weeks ago.

We got another pink card on Saturday.
I wonder what's in the package?

Were I an efficient woman, we'd already know!


October 18, 2006

Signs of the Times

Here in Virginia, we have a hotly contested Senate race underway between incumbent George Allen and challenger Jim Webb. Emotions run high, as evidenced by this enormous sign displayed down the street and around the corner from our home.

Someone has too much time on their hands.


October 17, 2006

Comfort Food

Sometimes one must perform icky tasks in pursuit of culinary delight. The results are usually worth the effort. My labor Friday paid off all weekend.

Picking chicken off the bone is not my favorite cooking chore. I try hard not to envision the chicken clucking happily around the barnyard or, worse, stifled in a chicken factory. You know what I mean. Yet the chicken must be off the bone when one is crafting chicken stew. I put some happy tunes on the CD player and sang along as I separated the meat from the carcass. The bare bones joined their vegetable counterparts in the stockpot where they simmered with spices for a few hours, melding into my version of homemade stock as it filled the house with a luscious scent. The shredded meat waited patiently in the refrigerator for the next step.

That's another joy of making chicken stew: no part of the chicken gets wasted. It greatly appeals to my sense of efficiency.

I make chicken soup and call it stew because it's thick and chunky. It's also an excuse to cook with farfalle, or bowtie pasta as it is commonly known. Bowties are a favored shape running neck and neck with acini di pepe as my all time favorite pastas. It's rugged and holds up well in soup. I also get weak for rigatoni, but that's a tale for another day.

This weekend was filled with outdoor labor enjoying glorious blue skies and crisp fall air. During the day, Wendy and I channeled weese as we busted ass to get our yard in a semblance of order for the impending winter season. Evenings found our appetites sated with hot chicken stew and cuddles in front of a roaring blaze in the fireplace. Does it get any better than that? Not often methinks, but then we are simple folk.

The touch of green is fresh spinach from a bag, the first I've purchased since the e. coli debacle. Living on the edge, oh yeah baby. That's how we do it here in the 'burbs.


October 14, 2006

Up In Arms

Do you like the look of your arms? I haven't been enamoured of my own in years.

My arms used to be something truly special. I clearly recall my stepmother telling me admiringly on more than one occasion, "Suzanne, you have perfect arms!" Of course it was in jest, but not total jest. I did have good arms in my youth, near perfect to my legendary memory.

Years passed as years tend to do and my arms aged along with the rest of me. From the elbow down, they still look good. I say this with no exaggeration: my forearms are fab.

From the elbow up, well that's where it gets scary. Tone and shape have disintegrated into classic middle age upper arm flab. The pudgy flesh sways gently back and forth like a hammock swinging betwixt two trees. Or is it more like the jiggle of a bowl of jello? Either or and both. I haven't worn a sleeveless anything in more years than I can count on both hands. A little self-conscious, you say? Indeed. I used to have perfect arms after all.

When my stepfather died, we were the beneficiary of first choice of his yard tools. One of those little gems may be the upper arm savior I so desperately need.

Behold The Pogo! This device splits logs like a knife through butter. It works with a pump action by lifting then driving the handle downward which propels the wedge into the log. It's like a sliding hammer. Guess which muscles get used? That's right, those flabby ones that run down the back of my upper arms!

It's so much more pleasant than splitting wood using wedges and a sledge hammer. No missed targets, no flying or stuck wedges. No bending over to retrieve and reseat the wedge or log. No harsh jarring of my aging joints. No danger should the dogs want to hang around to help. It's efficient, smooth, and damned effective.

Nothing gets me quite as excited as productive exercise and accomplishing more than one thing simultaneously. There may be hope for my arms after all.


October 10, 2006

People Who Call Me Susan

There are three who get away with it.
Three people I know.

All others get corrected. Politely of course. No venom in my voice, no evil glare exposing the truly heinous nature of their offense.

Still. It's best to remember.
I prefer you remember.

My name is Suzanne.
Not Susan.

Richard is one. I've worked for and with him for nineteen years. He has called me Susan from day one. His business partner and employees get it right, but not Richard. Not verbally, not in writing. Susan it is and for some reason I don't mind.

Katie is another. She has cut my hair for... well... for a long time. I like that she always asks about The Boy and consistently gives a good haircut. I don't see her often these days, what with adopting the wild and crazy long grey curls I've been working on since last November. But when I stopped in last month, I smiled at her greeting: "Hello Susan! It's been awhile!" I don't even grit my teeth when Katie calls me Susan.

Anthony is the third. He's Bonnie's dad. They live directly behind us. We met them before we put up the privacy fence, otherwise he might still be a stranger. I don't have the foggiest idea why he thinks my name is Susan or if I've ever corrected him. Seems like more trouble than it's worth to do so. I just roll with it.

As for the rest of you, well, don't be stealing my "z".
Such deprivation should not be the norm in polite society.


October 8, 2006

Sunrise, Sunset

The house we lived in prior to this one had three levels. Our bedroom was on the top floor. The master bathroom was small, yet perfect in function. Its best feature was the window overlooking the backyard. We used to hang out that window and smoke cigarettes.

I leaned comfortably on my elbows, my forehead on the sash, usually a book or magazine resting on the sill, the smoke from my cigarette drifting away discreetly. I miss that window.

I smoked off and on during the five years we lived in that house, but mostly on. Evidently I'm addicted. I used to spy on the neighbors behind us. Couldn't be helped, really. Sometimes I liked to look around while hanging out the window smoking cigarettes.

I often watched the man behind us do chores in his yard. He was a fairly young man, clean cut, father of three. Once I observed him deconstructing tree branches that had fallen during a particularly nasty storm. The man always moved like he was encased in a bubble of molasses. Each move was painfully deliberate and slow in motion. Efficient, I suppose, in his own way, as he eventually got the job done. But geez. From my comfortable smoking perch on the third floor, my imagination conjured up a leather whip to crack over his head while shouting, "Get moving, man! You haven't got all day!"

But maybe he did have all day. Who was I to say? I dropped my cigarette butt into the toilet, flushed, then re-entered my own world.

I thought about him today as I worked in the yard. 'Tis the season to turn the summer pile of tree debris into a neat stack of kindling for the fireplace. I had all day to do it. I moved slowly, deliberately, without great sense of purpose and zero urgency. Much like our old neighbor.

My kindling project today was just busy work. Brainless busy work. Minimal physical labor to get me moving, to keep me moving. Snapping little twigs and branches into appropriate fireplace lengths is satisfying. Every so often I'd get gouged or scratched by those branches and twigs, which aroused an idle curiosity when I almost appreciated the pain.

I told my friend Tina that I am in a mood. She didn't ask me to define it. It's just the mood I get in when things are happening around me over which I have no control.

There is no control. No task that can be done to fix or repair or resolve. No 'if I just apply myself, get off my lazy ass and do it' results to be had, no tangible 'if I just put my mind to it, the problem will be gone' solution. There's just hanging out. Waiting.

I thought about that while I snapped twigs and made piles.
The weather was beautiful.
I sure made an impressive mound of kindling.
And for today, that's gotta be enough.


October 6, 2006

It Gets Around

My blogroll is acting up.
I don't get the little visual indicators when someone has updated.
It displeases me.

We're having our trees trimmed this week.
I think they will be happier all neatened up.
It excites me.

I opened a door without really thinking.
It will expose something near and dear to my heart.
It scares me in a good way.

Things are settling down nicely at work.
I get to use my brain again and have found it still functions.
It gives me hope.

I woke up early and listened to the rain.
The weather is dark, cold and wet.
It relaxes me.

My mother has breast cancer.
She's being evasive and I still don't know if she's shared everything.
It makes me wanna puke.


October 5, 2006

Do Your Friends Treat You Like a Guest?

And if they do, is it a bad thing?


October 4, 2006

Reflection Unbecoming

I did something completely radical.
I shaved off my eyebrows.

No, of course I didn't. But I feel like it sometimes. In moments of fury. Fucking eyebrows need almost daily maintenance. Tweezers be damned! I never signed on for this.

And how about these damned age spots? The ones on my face? What the fuck is up with that? It's got me seriously contemplating wearing makeup. Lots of it. I yearn to slather my face with cosmetic concoctions thick and rich enough to offer at least a vague promise of fully concealing those demoralizing spots. Age spots. On my face! Oh the unmitigated horror.

Let's not even go near the topic of the wrinkles on my neck. Only Wendy can go near them. Because when she's near my neck I'm not thinking about how wrinkled it looks when I see it in a mirror.

She needs to stay there. Near my neck.
Aging gracefully evidently requires props.


October 2, 2006


During a casual conversation with long-distance friends, the topic of strip clubs came up. I declared, in a somewhat righteous manner, "There are no strip clubs in Virginia! We have laws against that sort of thing." Imagine my nose pointing in the air as I sniffed arrogantly. Why the pomposity? I was lost in the moment.

I was reminded of the conversation as we passed through Richmond on I-95 and saw billboards advertising Paper Moon: Richmond's Finest Gentlemen's Club.

"Huh," I mused. "Virginia does have strip clubs!" A google search provided a directory of 23 clubs located throughout the state, clustered primarily in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, with a handful in Richmond (doesn't every capital of a conservative state have titty bars?) and a couple here in Northern Virginia. Who knew?

I don't have any strong feelings for or against such places. I've even been to one. Once. Well. It wasn't a pure strip club, it was a Girl's Night stripper event at a now-defunct gay bar, Tracks, in the District. Gay bars don't flourish here in Virginia. There are even fewer of them than there are strip clubs. Shocking, I know. We Virginia homosexuals must venture across the river to mix with Our Own Kind in public.

So there we were on that mild summer night, a throng of lesbians of varying ages gawking at the skantily clad dancers gyrating on the stage. I felt awkward, quite awkward actually. I was around 25 years old, my life in a complete shambles transition. What was I doing there? Peer pressure. My friends thought I needed to get out of the house and have some fun. They were probably right.

Those friends badgered me into tipping the dancer I'd been oogling watching. To this day that memory is strongly ingrained: me shyly approaching, unexpectedly making eye contact and quickly looking away. But at what? What drew my eyes? Well her fabulous abs for one thing, which were even more spectacular up close. She smiled, but I don't know if it was a real smile or a plastic one. Didn't particularly matter. She shimmied provacatively as I tucked the dollar into the waistband of her panties while turning twelve shades of red. I ran casually strolled back to our table. My friends greeted me with whoops and hollers. I grabbed my beer, drank deeply and waited for my heart to stop beating so damned fast.

Have you ever driven down I-85 from Virginia to North Carolina? The... umm... facility pictured below can be seen from the highway just after crossing into North Carolina. Many times, I've seen a red neon sign flashing "OPEN" displayed in the window, otherwise I'd be certain it is abandoned. I've always assumed it is a strip club. Despite the sign announcing its status as an innovative health club. A health club with an all girl staff.

What do you think?