Thursday, July 31, 2008

contractors - one line

What is it about contractors that makes them so confident that it's the plans that are all wrong, and not the fact that they didn't follow the plans?

[Having built the stove hood/fan according to his own devices - in blissful disregard of the plans provided - our builder now wants me to revise the custom kitchen to fit the stove hood. 'Nuff said.]

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

please, Mr. Toucan


Mir over at Woulda Coulda Shoulda recently wrote about razors with citrus-scented handles and I thought to myself "Well, citrus isn't SO bad. . . ."

I'm getting concerned now, though. I think that a bunch of tropical fruit parasites have taken over the women's hair-removal industry. Maybe a Toucan. What is it with the scents they're using in women's shaving gels these days?!

These were my choices yesterday, at the Giant:

Raspberry
Tropical Splash
Melon Splash
Wild Berry
Alluring Advocado [Wha. . .?]
Raspberry Rain
Melon Burst
Flirty Mango
Baby Soft
Soothing Lavender

I finally settled for what seemed the least offensive, an aloe/vitamin E formula for "sensitive skin". (I've tried the lavender and it is far from "soothing". "Cloying" is a better descriptive. And I do not enjoy smelling like a baby.)

Who is it that figured out that all women shaving their legs want to smell like a tropical fruit punch or fruit melee?!

Gimme a little citrus any day. Lemon verbena is always nice. Or mint, maybe. Something a bit more herbal - maybe even a little floral, if you promise not to go overboard on me.

Just cut it out with all the tropical passion fruits!

Friday, July 25, 2008

MDs and DVMs

Yep, I've been seeing both kinds of doctors - or, rather, the males in the family have been - which accounts for my silence for a bit.

Luther had some sort of gastro-event, and is on antibiotics and a "bland diet" [read: I make him brown rice and poached chicken breast].

The king might have diverticulitis.

Which was a bit of a relief to him, I think, because he thought it was either appendicitis or kidney stones. He's on antibiotics and a "bland diet - no seeds" [read: I'm still cookin' and a little sad that I might have to throw out my sesame seeds, celery seeds, caraway, cumin, mustard and fennel seeds! I like to use seeds. . . . and - oh no! - does Tellicherry peppercorns count as a seed?! Please, God, no! I can not cook without fresh, ground, pepper].

In my spare time, I make major decisions like what tile to put in the master bath [that costs how much a square foot?!], decide on the color of the stain for the book shelves, the wood floor, the timbering. . . . I'm still trying to decide on what light to put over the sink in the guest bath. . . . All those "vanity" lights are so depressingly uniform and kitshey looking

How do you spell kitschey. . . .? Kitsch/kitsh/what?

And the heat won't break.

Well, yesterday I committed to "doing the walk" - I'll be returning to Europe to have my doctorate conferred on me. . . . Officially. December.

Meanwhile, we're supposedly moving in just a couple weeks.

I gotta go pack.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

in which it seems all our cars have to be replaced at once


Granted, my old convertible from my lawyer "golden days" has seen better days, and we had made the decision to replace it - eventually - with a nice sedan of some sort rather than spend the money needed to restore it. An '87 B-mer convertible is a great little classic car - but hey! - it's an '87 with hundreds of thousands of miles on it.

The king's jeep, on the other hand, we thought we'd be able to keep for a good long time. It's the bigger jeep - very comfy and very handsome - and Luther rides comfortably, so that was going to be my vehicle.

You will note the past tense.

When the 1987 raggedy-ass B-mer rag-top without air conditioning becomes the "reliable" car of the enterprise, the king steps in. The jeep is in for its last fix and then it's history. He had it a good 7 years, but enough is apparently enough.

To replace it? Probably another jeep. But a smaller 6 cylinder, this time. Or maybe a smaller Land Rover? But I've heard horror stories of the cost of repairs. I just think they look cool. Then again, I think the little Scion x-box guys are the cutest things going! Apparently, though, they neither get great gas mileage nor does their 4-cylinder engine give adequate power.

Bummer.

Well - we're on a mission. Input welcomed. Vital: cargo room for the beast.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

turn around's fair play


ok . . . . so if Luther persists in seeing me as a chewable treat - how's this for a new way of seeing him?

Granted, it's not of Luther. . . . but this just makes me smile. Thanks to Cleaner Plate Club, who pointed out this very fun art exhibit with food. It's the work of Saxton Freymann, and a slide show of some of his work can be found here.

I love one "Play with your Food" book of his, which features an orange as a crying baby on the cover. Then there's Dog Food and Fast Food.

Very whimsical.

Now. If only I can get Luther to play with his food, instead of seeing me as potential chow. . . .

Friday, July 11, 2008

another useful word

callipygian

adjective: Having well-shaped buttocks
pronounced as: (kal-uh-PIJ-ee-uhn)
from the Greek calli- (beautiful) + pyge (buttocks).

USAGE example:
"And it hasn't been lost on modern film directors that a nice set of tights can showcase the callipygian assets of a well-formed leading man."


Heroes in Hosiery; South China Morning Post (Hong Kong); Jul 20, 2006.

Thank you Anu Garg at A.Word.A.Day!


I think I will have the opportunity to use this word. . . .

Thursday, July 10, 2008

ethics and music

On an interview at Measure for Measure, Michael McDonald [of Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers fame]is quoted as follows:
MICHAEL: I was never an ambitious piano player or singer. If I ever rolled up my sleeves and put my energy into anything, however good I may ever be at it, I hope it would be songwriting. In my family — an Irish Catholic family — the two best things you could become was a priest or a songwriter.

I always admired these guys like Don Henley and Neil Young who could take the events that are going on around them and so poetically put them forth and make us all think about the world around us — events and politics. To lasso your own view of the political climate into something poetic and clever and musical. But for me I don’t really think it was the level where I write the best.

If I was going to write a song like that, the first line would go:

When did Halliburton’s advancement of its own enterprise
become the sole focus of the foreign policy of the United States?


You know, you’d lose people. The song would be over by then.
So. How do you say something - in art - about the role private corporations and contract military organizations play in the conduct - and conflict - of our nation?

I've written before about the apparent dearth of protest songs. It would appear to be an area of growth opportunity.

Meanwhile - man I wish my hair would turn that colour of white!

levity, anyone? (Gen. Salami & Veggie Tales)


Hossein Salami is a name that makes me laugh. I don't know why, but General Salami just strikes me as funny.

Something out of Veggie Tales.

Unfortunately, the more I hear about this guy - a top guy in Iran's "Republican Guard" - the more I think he's on a mission to live down his name. Two missile "tests" in two days - to show Iran's 'toughness and resolve', apparently - and a personal background in so-called martyr-recruitment: the finding and training of people willing to blow themselves up so that America will be afraid, very afraid.

I wonder how he gets past what I imagine would be the potential recruit's primary objection, namely that the recruit himself will be dead, very dead?

Anyway, Salami's not written about too much that I've found with a cursory search, but this lady wrote about him, past missile tests (2006), and Condaleeza Rice's comment about Iran's "Salami tactics" - which I now understand has nothing at all to do with General Salami, the name notwithstanding.

OK. Time for a verse of the "Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" - Salami's intentions apparently to the contrary.

sullen musings

How is it, that in an economy suffering under a housing bust, our latest proposed property tax assessment went UP 30%?

Oh, and the "homestead" exemption (which would limit the new assessment to no more than 10%, I think it is) doesn't apply to us, because we don't actually live there yet - BECAUSE THE STUPID COUNTY GOVERNMENT TOOK SO LONG TO GIVE US A BUILDING PERMIT for which we paid handsomely. Oh - and did I mention the IMPACT TAX - you know, for all schools and stuff my non-existent children won't be attending? Even if we did live there now - which we don't. But when we DO live there, they will tax us even MORE because there'll be a HOUSE THERE - don'tcha know. With people living in it.

So they get a triple bonus - first an extra increase of property tax because we don't live there, "impact" tax even though we don't live there, and then the house tax add-on when we do live there.

There are times when I really hate our "government" - at least the part of it that takes so much money out of our pockets and then - like magic! - POOF!!! it's gone.

Where to? Wellllll. . . . . . that's another story.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

another day - on which my father turns 65

no, he doesn't read this blog, not that I know of, anyway. Neither he, nor my biological father, who is older than him.

It was a strange shift from moving past feeling my family to be fractured to seeing my family as multiplied. I don't recommend the process, but I appreciated the feeling of blessing I ended up in.

For today, I plan a slow one. I've been beat up the last several days - emotionally and, by the dog, physically - and it's going to storm out, I think, so I will stay inside [as soon as the housekeepers leave] and do some ironing. And if the dog won't leave me alone, I will crate his ass. You can tell he's already been at me by my use of "language". I have at least three new bruises cooking and one tooth gash. . . . No, he's not vicious - he's just huge and awkward and a whole lot stronger than he knows. He gets 'outside himself' and can't settle himself down and just goes dashing, just as fast and furious as he can

God help anything in his path.

Generally, me.

sigh.

Meanwhile, the house is progressing and we're still on track for a mid August move. They've painted inside (a review of every shade of white in the world led to the choice of Moonrise. . . .) and they're applying the stucco outside. The colour decision there was between the "safe" (but boring) beige, or a yellow that can only be called apricot. Which might end up looking garish-carnival.

The really scarey bit is that you have to apply the colour a whole lot deeper and darker than what you hope to end up with, in order to get the colour you hope for. . . . So - ideally - this colour will dry back a bit, and leave us with a warm tuscan yellow.

Truth told? I don't mind this colour even as it is! Which is rather amazing. I've never been much for yellow. But it really will mellow back.

Well, Luther has settled down a bit, and we should be ready to head inside so the housekeepers can reform the mess we manage to make in just minutes here, outside. Shredded cardboard, bark off branches, water puddles from his water bowl, and plant detritus - not to mention the proliferation of toys.

I swore I'd never be like that with either children or pets: tolerating piles of toys and other junk. It just goes to show how little we (I, anyway!) are in control. The king remarked wistfully this morning that he wanted his life back. . . .

So do I.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

music clearly necessary

The problem will be deciding on just what music would do the trick.

sigh.

Yesterday doesn't bear commenting on. You can't imagine the day. One thing after another. And then yet one more. Each time I thought we might be done and ready for "happy" hour. No happy arrived.

No music comes to mind. Not really. I was hoping for some kind of rock pick-up. Ah well, the little ditty from Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes" might be cheering. I think I've posted this before.

thought: values for sale


You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements.

Norman Douglas, novelist (1868-1952)

What national "ideals" are we pursuing these days, I wonder? Freedom of travel, back to the garden of eden, search for the fountain of youth - yes - but also the triumph of myself over all [i.e., self as tyrant], endless pleasure, endless wealth, endless power, because I deserve a break today, I'm worth it, I'm just going to do it, because I'm set to be all that I can be.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

the value of silence

I have an elderly relative visiting.

Like the king's mother, once she gets the opportunity to talk, she doesn't stop.

I'm at my wits end. I have the habit, you see, of actually listening to people when they talk. But I can't take that many words in, all day - every day - for days on end. Opinionated snippets of conclusions reached years earlier; the favored story selections about times gone by; unsolicited statements of what I [or others she knows] should do, wear, think, or read.

Yesterday, I finally took Luther upstairs on the pretext of having to get him quieted down before the fireworks started. I left a porchful of people and said goodnight. They did not take the hint - but stayed on for another hour.

This morning, the king took himself off to golf, leaving me here with Luther - quiet again - and the aforesaid talkative relative. I armed myself with some knitting. It's almost as good as a martini at taking that 'edge' off. . . . I find I can hear the same story - the 3rd time now in a 24 hour span - and just smile and nod.

Smile and nod.

At noon, I may allow myself a martini.

Just kidding! [I'll certainly wait until 1500 - grin - maybe. Maybe not.] Let's see. . . . it's almost 11. . . . .

Friday, July 4, 2008

. . . and to the Republic, for which it stands


It was our own moral failure and not any accident of chance, that while preserving the appearance of the Republic we lost its reality.
Marcus Tullius Cicero, statesman, orator, writer (106-43 BCE)

sigh. . . . on this 4th of July, as we think about the birth of our Nation.

How do we celebrate? With furniture and car sales, and Home Depot specials. With fireworks, far removed from any memory of exploding shells and shrapnel. With parades and firetrucks - again, no memory of the ancient nation birth fires that undoubtedly were the first occasion for the practice.

We do wave the flag. . . . where we haven't waived it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

deep Google thoughts


Google and Deep Thoughts?

I know Jack Handey [yes, he's a real, live, person] and I have a little bit of an idea just how much time, effort, and thought goes into one of his little "Deep Thoughts", so popular from the old Saturday Night Live days. And no - sorry - I'm not going to give you all the little links to go check it out. If you're interested, at some point I'm sure you'll 'google' it. . . .

Even now, I'm listening to a crow cawing outside and giggling over today's "Deep Thought" on Jack's website:
"The crow seemed to be calling his name, thought Caw."
(these 'thoughts' sometimes creep up on you - that one took me just a moment. . . . grin!)

Today, I came across a really interesting article that asks the question Is Google Making Us Stupid? by Nicholas Carr.

Read the article. See if - like Carr; like ME, embarrassed as I am to admit it - you aren't also experiencing a growing difficulty reading longer articles. Carr's is only 4000 words, but I noticed - because I was thinking about it - how often I started casting about looking at something else, considering scanning to the end, clicking another link, or checking email real quick in between. The article is well-written - that's not the problem - and there's plenty of interesting thoughts, facts, and other information that is presented, all the way to very end. Perhaps particularly towards the very end, as Carr investigates whether Google is perhaps teaching us to think differently.

Although he doesn't mention the book, Carr would find a similar thesis in Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, which tracks a similar shortening of attention span. It was first published in 1985, and related to the shift from the written word (or even the heard word in the sense of the radio or lecture) to the television. Carr's observations take Postman's earlier work the necessary step further, with a more chilling prognosis.

What particularly hit me is an observable lack of sustained thought, let alone sustained discussion and discourse. And deep? Fuggetaboutit. . . .

One couple I particularly admire has afternoon "study halls" at their house. Friends are welcome to come and sit and read or write - and ask the occasional question or read the quick, amusing, quote - from, say 3 to 6, and then they mix a cocktail and sit and talk together about what they studied or thought about, or wrote all afternoon. They are a rarity and they are not often joined by others.

That, however, is how I aspire to live.

Unfortunately, checking email and googling how to make whatever I want to make for dinner tonight so often gets in the way.

As does a 4-month old puppy. . . .

Maybe I should google what Cesar Milan would say about that.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

many moons ago. . .

Many moons ago - like over twenty years' worth - I came across a woman singer named Marti Jones. As I recall, I was more interested in her musician husband, Don Dixon, whose voice I liked. I have no recollection of any of Dixon's songs anymore, but I still have a cassette of Marti's album "Match Game" - which doesn't seem to be in release anymore.

I popped it into my car cassette player to see if the sun hadn't baked the songs out of it and heard Marti's cover of David Bowie's song Soul Love [from the Ziggy Stardust/Spiders from Mars album]. Amazing! Mega years in the glove compartment of my little-used car and it still plays.

I haven't been able to get the song out of my mind, since! Count yourselves lucky I can't find an online recording of it. You, too, could be hearing the start of the guitar and the rather strange lyrics:
Stone love, she kneels before the grave
a brave son who gave his life to save the slogan
that hovers 'tween the headstone and her eyes
for they penetrate her grieving.

New love, a boy and girl are talking
new words, that only they can share in
new words, a love so strong it tears their hearts
to sleep, through the fleeting hours of morning.

Love is careless in its choosing, sweeping over cross a baby
love descends on those defenseless
Idiot love will spark the fusion
Inspirations have I none, just to touch the flaming dove
All I have is my love of love - and love is not loving.

Soul love, the priest that tastes the word and
told of love, and how my God on high is
all love, though reaching up my loneliness evolves
by the blindness that surrounds him.

Love is careless in its choosing, sweeping over cross a baby
love descends on those defenseless
Idiot love will spark the fusion
Inspirations have I none, just to touch the flaming dove
All I have is my love of love - and love is not loving.

I wonder what it all means?

Marti Jones does a great job with it. Better than Bowie. I think. . . .
Heresy. [but all I can find on You-Tube is the Bowie version. Sorry!]