Monday, July 28, 2008

Listen to the drums beat

Smoky hot refrigerator pickle cucumbers

Just as, in winter, I would cheerfully eat nothing but Indian pickles, plain yogurt, and rice; from July 4th through September I would, if I could, live on tomato sandwiches. It has been thus as long as I can remember.

And by "tomato sandwich" I mean: white bread, a little bit toasted; Miracle Whip, sliced tomatoes from the garden, salt. This is one of the things, like mayonnaise on baked beans, and unlike incipient osteoporosis, that I have gratefully inherited from my mother.

Have I experimented with the formula over the years?
Have I tried a sprinkle of Old Bay instead of salt? I have not.
Have I substituted regular mayonnaise for Miracle Whip? Only when I have had to.
Have I flirted with rye bread? or wheat? sourdough? Please. Fuck you. This is what I do, man. Do I make absurd suggestions about how you cocktail your drugs? I didn't think so.

However. This summer, I happen to have stopped using reg'lar old Morton's salt almost altogether. I use the big thinger of sea salt when I'm cooking, because it's easier to grab, and we use this fancy Île de Ré grey sea salt our friends brought us back from France on the table. So when I went to make my first tomato sandwich of the summer, I grabbed the salt guncha-guncher and ground the grey salt onto the tomatoes. AND DAMN.

I think that that's what opened the door. Reckless experimentation. Forty-two years old and this is the first time I've put anything on a tomato sandwich other than my teeth.

I have been making these spicy cucumber refrigerator pickles this summer, because Bob's brother Joe has been bringing us more cucumbers from his garden than even Zhou can eat, and because I've been trying to duplicate the brine formula in Smokra, the pickled okra you can buy at Whole Foods for like ten bucks a jar. Ten bucks! That's like 50 cents an okra, and I eat that stuff like if I stopped someone would swoop down on the kitchen and beat me.

You put a couple slices of those cucumbers on my tomato sandwich and stand me in front of the sink to eat it, and just don't count on me paying any attention to anything else until I'm done.

Friday, July 25, 2008

R.I.P. St. John Bosco

St. John Bosco. Brooklyn, NY, 2001.

Actually, that's a little premature. The cat's not dead yet. But I thought I should write this now, while I feel sorry for her, rather than any time after ten minutes from now, which is when I plan to start scrubbing out the LEGO bin that she seems to have been using for a litter box ever since her kidneys started failing.

These are the things I have said to my kids this morning:

"No, I don't think she peed in the lego bin. I'm sure she just peed on the floor and some of the lego got in the puddle."

"What?! Let me see."

"Well, St. John Bosco is sick, you know. She was probably too tired and weak to get downstairs to the litter box and this was the most similar thing."

"No, yeah, she's not going to live much longer. Daddy took her to the vet and it turns out her kidneys aren't working right. Didn't Daddy tell you?"

"Yeah I know it smells. But it's just a little pee. I'm going to pour all the lego into this net bag and I'll put the bag into the dishwasher and - AAAA!"

"This is carpet cleaner. Yeah I know I put a lot on. Just let it dry, ok?"

We got St. John Bosco and her sister, Buzz Aldrin, from the pound in Brooklyn as kittens in 1997. They played with string for a while and then settled in to their jobs turning money into feces and hair. Cat-shaped lumps who only got up to binge on Hill's Science Diet, yakk some of it back up for us, and find a more comfortable position on the couch. As soon as we brought a baby home to watch Buffy with us, I have to say I sort of lost track of them. Bob fed them and changed the litter. I trimmed their claws. They hid. In a display of
uncharacteristic savvy and cooperation, they ran under the bed when the baby came home in 2001 and have since then only emerged after the children are asleep or when Bob is making a bologna sandwich.

The Best Sitter in the World, Marci, had been babysitting my kids twice a week for eighteen months when we came home one evening and she said, "You know, I think a cat got in your house. I think it's upstairs." She'd never seen either St. John Bosco or her sister Buzz Aldrin. They nicest thing we ever did for them was move to a house with a basement.

I'd like to say that St. John Bosco was a good kitty. She wasn't, really. Not very affectionate. Not very clean. Fought with her sister. Peed on beds, kind of a lot. Sharpened her claws on my Double-H short biker boots (now discontinued and thus irreplaceable) and my red Dansko clogs, ruining both pairs of shoes. Power barfer.

My idea was to pour the lego into a net lingerie bag and then run it through the dishwasher, and scrub out the bin using the hose outside. But when I emptied the lego into the bag, rather a lot of dark, terrible cat pee poured out of the bin and onto the carpet. I dumped the net bag back in the bin and whisked the whole thing into the kitchen sink. I poured Dawn over the whole mess and turned on the hot water. That's when the spray bounced off the lego and hit my face, a yummy cocktail of sick cat pee, hot water, and detergent, and that's when I turned around and called the kids into the kitchen:

"Boys? You know sometimes you irritate the heck out of me?"
"Sometimes I get upset with you if you're mean to each other?"
"Sometimes it's really frustrating when you don't do what I say?"
"Uh huh..."
"Well, right now I just want to tell you how proud I am of you - every day. And I want to thank you for never ever - ever - peeing in the lego box. You guys are the best."

Monday, July 21, 2008

I repeat myself when under stress

You might have noticed that I title blog posts with song lyrics. Why do I do this? Because I get songs stuck in my head and I am compelled to acknowledge them. And because I am not very original and I hate naming things.

Wait, that's not really true. I loved naming my kids. I'd do it every year if I didn't think it would damage them in some way. I love giving people Internet-o-nyms, just ask my friends Token Boy and Dances With Chickens. There's no reason, as adults, that they should be anonymous, or even pseudonymous, but I just liked giving them names.

So, I don't really know why I use song lyrics. And, um, who cares?

But since I don't have much else to write about right now, having spent the last three days watching movies and drinking Bloody Marys (Dark Knight and Hancock, yay; Wanted, extreme suckage), I thought I'd have a skip down memory lane and list off the music references in my blog titles. Yes I know I've done it before, that's why the I used this line (King Crimson, Indiscipline) to title this post.

Don't you cry for me - Oh, Susannah! Traditional.

What's that on your head - Wig!, which is actually a book by the B-52s, but it reads like a song, so maybe it's a song too. Anyway, my kids loved that book.

When I grow up I wanna be an old woman. My kids love this song by Michelle Shocked

There's a new grill in town. Theme from Alice. Karaoke version on YouTube if you're really brave.

Big Chief standin on Magnolia Bridge. Wild Tchoupitoulas. I couldn't find the lyrics to this song anywhere on the Internet and I was beginning to think I'd imagined it. Turns out it was the recorded debut of the Neville brothers, who were not yet The Neville Brothers.

Eat it!. Yes, I quoted Weird Al Yankovic.

Hit the ground running. Anybody who doesn't like ANY Van Halen is unfun.

Just because we use cheats doesn't mean we're not smart. Moldy Peaches. A kid at Mao's school was playing this song on the guitar, and when I sang a line or two, she was AMAZED that someone as old as I am had heard of them. I would be laughing, except I heard them on NPR.

You can beat my brains, beat my brains, beat my brains but don't kiss me again - from Books on the Bonfire by The Bolshoi. Har har. I loved The Bolshoi in 1987. I think they are now completely lost to the sands of New Wave goth hair pop, but they were kind of creepy and clever at the time. I was thinking of a different song of theirs when I was writing this particular post, about a mean author.

Kingdom of rain. Yes, I know I go on and on about The The, but just ask my friend Constance. Whenever a The The song comes on my iPod, she stops what she's doing and sighs. Too.

Breaking the law, breaking the law. All I have to say is: that's not a wig.

Jose Jones told me alone his story. I must have been listening to this song at the time, because there's no other reason why this post should have this title.

They're kicking out in Dohini too. Look at that, I named a blog post about a photo safari after the Beach Boys' Surfin Safari. Maybe my mind works after all.

Can you not dig it?. Yeah, also I was the only person to ever admit to buying Pop Will Eat Itself records. I still think they're funny.

Give me an issue, I'll give you a tissue Lou Reed said that. "No, it's not a new way to do anal!" Did I say that?

The weekend at the college didn't turn out like you planned. Steely Dan, Reelin' in the Years.

Truckin', Grateful Dead.

Je suis une rock star. One of my all-time favorite songs: the Franglish, Bill Wyman's terrible, unassuming voice, his resemblance to George Harrison, and, god, that accent!

You're the right kind of sinner to release my inner fantasy. Pat Benatar, Heartbreaker. My caption for a novelty nutcracker in the shape of Hillary Clinton.

History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of man Blue Oyster Cult, Godzilla. Was it always in that key? Neighborhood children stomping my veg garden.

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

All my tubes and wires and careful notes. Thomas Dolby. She blinded me with science.

I feel so good I'm gonna break somebody's heart tonight, Richard Thompson.

Couldn't escape if I wanted to. My brother used this song at his wedding. Isn't that a little... wrong?

Stop snivelin'!. Heh heh. This is a post about the Sharpie tattoos that I give all the kids, and I named it after Tattooed love boys by The Pretenders.

Abkadeffgee jekyll mnopquerstu wycksizz. I remember this. I was complaining about library patrons who don't know the alphabet and Big Bird's alphabet song from Sesame Street kept pounding in my mind.

I did it like this, I did it like that, I did it with a wiffle ball bat - Beastie Boys. Some dorkwad who keeps challenging the propriety of The Joy of Sex in the public library. Now, if you capitalized that differently, I would concede his point. Update. The guy just doesn't quit.

I'm already standin' on the ground. My brother racing to Alaska. I was sure that he had a Peaceful, Easy Feelin'. Eagles. Ugh.

Blowing through the jasmine of my mind. Seals. And. Crofts. And I thought The Eagles was embarrassing.

I want a girl with a short skirt and a long jacket. Token Boy informs me this is by Cake. It was on the soundtrack to Waitress, which I liked.

A nation turns its lonely eyes to you - Mrs. Robinson, Simon & Garfunkel. Politics.

We never do anything nice and easy. Proud Mary, Tina Turner. For Anger Hangover's birthday.

All you fascists are bound to lose. Billy Bragg singing Woody Guthrie.

You put the jitterbug into my brain. Hee hee hee, Wham! News of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, a phrase I cannot type without shaking my head.

Attention all planets of the Solar Federation. Rush. I saw a dermatologist yesterday, an affluent middle-aged Jewish doctor with very good eyeglass frames, and he asked about my hair. He had gone to a Rush concert the previous weekend, and his sons had almost convinced him to dye his hair purple for it. He didn't do it because he didn't think it would go over well Monday morning at the Johns Hopkins Cosmetic Dermatology Center. Sadly, I had to agree with him. But Rush, man, you just never know who's going to show up a Rush fan.

It ain't easy to be bold in an unknown city. The The, again. Un-Classic signs of depression.

We could be heroes. Embarrassingly, I was probably thinking of Ewan MacGregor instead of David Bowie.

We're on the road to paradise... here we go, here we go. Talking Heads. About getting my driver's license suspended in North Carolina 15 years ago.

I know a girl who reminds me of Cher. Every time I color my hair this song gets stuck in my head. So, like, that's a lot.

Bow down before the one you serve . The queen of filth! The queen of boo-trescence! No, no, it's Nine Inch Nails of course.

I was alone I took a ride I didn't know what I would find there - Beatles. Christmas.

You're the cream in my cat poo

Have you seen Junior's grades? - Van Halen

Blossom of snow, may you bloom and grow. Edelweiss, from The Sound of Music. A tribute to our neighborhood baker, R.I.P.

Call me Deacon Blue Steely Dan again. Oh I loved writing this one. About those assholes trying to make money offa my PERIOD.

What else do the simple folk do? From Camelot. Rich people.

It starts with an earthquake. R.E.M. Plot points for your next sci-fi novel.

Shot right through with a bolt of blue Baseball, oddly enough. Not very bizarre.

I got the spatula just do as you're told - Lunch Lady Land by Adam Sandler. The Virtual Lunch Lady.

You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer - Helter Skelter - Beatles. My Second Life moment.

Men who torture, murder and rob - Jazz Butcher vs. The Prime Minister (Thatcher). Jazz Butcher.

But I tell you in earnest I'm a dangerous man - Richard Thompson

BONUS for sticking it out this long! Three Buffy quotes used as blog post titles:

Hands! - Willow, also Xander

A vague disclaimer is nobody's friend - Willow

I call that a radical interpretation of the text - Oz

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Don't you cry for me

My boys are off for a long weekend of adventure and affection in the Blue Ridge Mountains. FIVE aunties and uncles, plus Cousin Stretch, are along for the ride.

Although Bob and I are looking forward to going to lots of movies, drinking Bloody Marys, etc., I am almost jealous.

There is a tent.
There is a swing.
There is a stump fort.
There is a swimming hole.
There is a puppetry studio.
There have been UFO sightings.
There is tons of home-grown food from a giant garden.
There are silly aunties and uncles who love the crap out of them.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

What's that on your head?

Mao demonstrating "the jerkiest dinosaur"
Mao demonstrating "the jerkiest dinosaur"

What the hell is wrong with people?

Ok, how many blog posts have you read that start with that question. Yes. That's why most people have blogs. But this is my first time, so I will ask again: What the hell is wrong with people?
Some old(ish) guy for whom I have just traipsed all over the branch to find his stupid bestseller: I'm dying to ask you a personal question.
Me: [private sigh, public smile] If it's about the hair, go right ahead.
Him: No, nope, won't do it.
Leaving me to scamper to my colleague The Admiral's Daughter: "Robin! Is my skirt tucked into my underwear?" "Do I have a boob hanging out?" "Did I hang my earrings on my glasses instead of my earlobes or something?"

This is arguably not as bad as the ganky guy hanging out in front of the 7-11, who thinks it's ok to say, "Hoo-wee! That is some hair!" which - I don't even know, do I say thank you? Do I agree? "Yes. Yes it is some hair. You also have some hair, but not as much, and it is of a less attractive color and appears not have been washed recently. Also, what is that on the side of your nose?"

And it is certainly not as bad as a certain friend of my mom's. I stopped in during mom's sewing group a couple weeks ago. It was kind of fun for me: most of those ladies are the moms of kids I knew in high school. I showed off my kids, talked about our vacation. I couldn't help calling them all "Mrs. X" and "Mrs. Y", despite the fact that I am now 42.

After I left, the one lady asked my mother, "That's not a real tattoo on her leg, is it?" I don't know how she saw that tattoo, which is quite high up on my thigh - a kind of unseemly place for a polite person to be looking in the first place - and I don't know why it wouldn't be a real tattoo: the large band around my right forearm is unmistakably real - and hard to miss.

Mom verified the tattoo, and then this lady, Miss Manners 1953, pronounced, "Last I saw her she looked so pale. Now she looks better, except for that mark on her leg, of course."

What the motherfucking fuck. If I had spent a while in the hospital sometime recently, verbally scrutinizing my appearance might be acceptable. However, I am in perfect health and have been so, oh, all my life. Also, there is that large forearm tattoo. Do I conclude that the Bronze Age motif on my arm is more palatable than the abbreviated petroglyphs on my leg? Should I be relieved that she didn't see the exploded rose window on my back?

I can't wait til I run into her sons - who, if memory serves, are no prizes in the looks department - so that I can assess their personal appearance and pass it along. "The hair plugs seem to have taken - whew, I bet that was a relief!"

So for all you ganky guys, clueless library patrons, and genteel matrons who ought to know better, I'm going to make it easy, by laying down some rules. With examples.

RULE #1: Unsolicited comments on another's appearance. Compliments Only. I myself tend to keep any comments of this nature confined to apparel and accessories.

"Cute shoes!" is something that you may say to anyone: family, stranger, adult, child.

"What an even tan you have!" is crossing the line. ("Do you have freckles everywhere?" is WAAY over the line, take it from my friend Molly.)

"That shirt makes your boobs look squished" is acceptable only between close friends, and only when the person wearing the shirt asks, and perhaps should only be heard in fitting rooms.

RULE #2: Hair. This goes for haircuts as well as dye jobs. First of all, See RULE #1.

"New haircut? Nice!" is always ok between friends and co-workers.

"I like the haircut. Much better than all that long hair hanging all down your back." is NOT ok. I had a (male, which definitely makes it worse) boss who hit me with that one once. I was like, "You asshole, I had beautiful hair."

Although "Why did you cut off all your beautiful hair?" is also never ok.

The little girls who shyly tell me, "I like your hair..." get a pass from me because it gives me a chance to recommend books to them.

And in my case, friends may offer opinion as to today's hue or saturation (it varies).

Anyone else, if you are not asking for practical instruction, i.e. "Where did you have that done?" "What dye do you use?" stick to RULE #1.

RULE #3: Comments about another person's child's appearance: See RULE #1.

"What a beautiful baby!" Always acceptable.
"What's that on his head?" Not ok.
"Are his eyes going to stay like that?" REALLY not ok.
"So... has that been diagnosed yet?" Grounds for expulsion from the mommy group.

RULE #4: Tattoos. First of all, See RULE #1. Secondly, there is an unspoken fraternity among the tattooed.

If you have visible tattoos, "That is nice work. Where did you get it?" is ok.

"Did the tattoo artist design that?" is ok too. That way, the person with the tattoo can say, "No, I designed it myself." and leave it at that, or go into more detail. "My sister drew it for me: it's the Chinese symbols for 'little sister' and cherry blossoms because I was born in May." (Hey, Stef!)

If you don't have any tattoos, "That's a really nice tattoo," is pretty much as far as I recommend you go. The number of times I have had to try to explain the derivation of this stuff on my forearm is only equalled by the number of times I have sat with a book in a bar and had to hear, "Whatcha reading?"

Otherwise, you run the risk of getting the answer, "Tattoo? No, this is a birthmark. It has caused me great psychic pain and embarrassment all my life. Thanks for pointing it out. Again."

Of course, even I can be surprised. One night this spring, my parents took the kids and gave us a gift certificate for a night in a lovely hotel down on the Harbor. In the morning, as we were blissfully browsing the Continental breakfast bar, a woman approached me and asked, "May I ask you a question?"

I smiled patiently and said, "Of course," thinking she wanted to ask me about my stupid damn hair and thinking seriously about a sticky bun.

And then she said, "Do you know that Jesus loves you? He really does, you know."

Taken aback, I just raised my eyebrows, took a yogurt, and walked away. All I can figure is that she thought I was a prostitute.

But that's a rant for another day.

Friday, July 11, 2008

When I grow up I want to be an old woman

I'm hot. The garden is full of morning glory vines and spiders. The windshield has a crack in it. I haven't cooked a bona fide meal since June 24th. I can't get the water balloons to fill. We're out of olive oil. I can't find disc 5 of season 2 of The Wire anywhere. I just delivered a large blue adult tricycle with a great big basket to my friend Molly.

And this is my scarecrow - a plastic bear that got caught under the mower.

Is it Friday? I think it's Friday.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

There's a new grill in town

There's a new girl in town and she's looking good.
There's a fresh freckled face in the neighborhoood.
There's a new girl in town, with a brand new style.
She was just passing through,
but if things work out she's gonna staaay... awhiiile.

That's the theme from Alice in case you're too young or at least fortunate enough not to have it burned into your memory. Jeez TV back then was terrible. That show ran for NINE YEARS.

So anyway, here we are back from two weeks of Southern-fried vacation. We've all got suntans and our pants don't fit. I think that was the goal, so we're good.

While we were gone, our cats apparently sat and strained and attempted to eject every hair on their bodies. The entire house was slimed with cathair. The first morning we were home we spent spitting hairs out of our mouths, so all the subsequent days have been filled with vacuuming and laundry.

Except for yesterday. Yesterday our new free grill came and I spent the evening putting it together. Took me the better part of five hours and cut me twice. That's it up there. It's a beauty, huh? That's an $800 grill, according to Amazon.

But did I mention free? Our credit card has some kind of points system, something that I always ignored because I figured it was some gimmick to get you to pay inflated shipping fees and stuff. But one day I took a look at our accrued points - I think I was hoping they'd offer like a $20 Target gift card for a hundred thousand points or something, and I'd only have to pay $6.95 shipping on it. I have a very low opinion of credit card companies.

Turned out, though, that we had enough points for this Weber grill, which they offered with free shipping and a cover included. What? Your credit card doesn't send you big crazy stainless steel gifts like this every 8 years or so? Hm. Maybe you don't pay finance charges like we do.

So tonight it's good-bye to soot-stained Bob spending an hour and a half peering at recalcitrant chicken legs through the smoke of our old kettle grill that, truthfully, we never really got the hang of, and hello to... you know, actually let's not describe that image. The tongs, the mitt, the apron... let's face it, our new grill is another great big tumble down the slippery slope that leads to a brand-new vinyl-sided house in a gated community with a giant TV in the family room and a golf course out the back window. We already have the minivan, and lately I've taken to wearing a skort.

Wow. I gotta go. I'm going to dial up Foetus on the iPod and make an appointment for a new tattoo. Maybe do some swearing.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Sur le plage

We made it to the beach. We have seen wildlife. We are watching TV and playing with LEGO and splashing. Bob is shooting hoops with Cousin Bird and soaking through one t-shirt after another. I am going to eat lunch now and possibly read another magazine.

New pictures are up.

See you later!