Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging: Still My Light's On Edition

Topaz, lovely Topaz, my dear little bear, has a pet peeve: things should not be on top of other things. Still, madame is not unreasonable and has come around to the possible necessity of the cookbooks remaining atop the buffet. The objet to which she objects is a screw from I know not where, which makes me nervous. I keep finding them but that's not really true, is it? Topaz plainly finds them first. So I am the Christopher Columbus of pre-found screws, and do turkeys get seasick?

In recent weeks, the kittens have become more definitely teenage. The evidence for this is that they seem to be flying past my head quite often and since kittens as a group seldom develop wings I accept that they are leaping prodigiously. While Drusy is no slouch, Topaz's favorite living room perch is atop my bicycle seat, staring at me - unless Pete's taller bike is parked next to mine. In that case, my seat is no longer gloriously elevated above all perch-worthy surfaces and will not do! Last night, Pete and I were talking and there was a sudden WHOOSH! Out of the corners of our eyes, we saw the tiny kitten leap panther-like. In a blink, the sweet little nutcase magically transformed into the giant jungle cat. The bicycle wiggled for a moment, then became still. The expression on Topaz's delicate furry face reminded us we were made of meat.

Topaz: Mrrrrow.
Us: Yes, ma'am!

For her part, Drusy is an enthusiastic cheerleader. The kittens follow me everywhere, as kittens will. When I stand in the kitchen, I hear a small whoosh! as Drusy leaps to the windowsill, crosses the radiator and bounds to the top of the washing machine in an instant. I turn around and we are face to face. Miss likes to kiss, so we do. When I turn back to the sink, ingenious Topaz will be standing on the counter, hoping for yummy fish, on her way to sitting on top of the coffee machine, the highest point in the kitchen on which a cat might perch and issue demands, so she does. Drusy, on the other hand, is very easy to love.

Check out the Friday Ark at The Modulator.

In other news: Bob the actual Corgi nibbles no more. Please show Suzette some love.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

My Back Against the Record Machine

I haven't checked my phone messages in over a week but I can feel my popularity pulsing at the internet phone message center like concentrated evil. Well, maybe not so concentrated. I doubt my popularity has much of an attention span, since Dom's birthday present languishes in Siobhan's living room and I haven't seen Sharkey in over a month. Fortunately, Trout and I are spending some quality time together on Wednesday afternoons. We're taking a three-week course of private yoga classes with a teacher who almost certainly served in the Israeli Army. I enjoy meditating while trying not to imagine all the ways she could kill me armed only with her bare hands and a stick of gum.

In his own way, Pete is just as much an obsessive fussbudget as I am. He is always mulling things over and thinking up another way or another project, which drives me mad. The words, "You know what we could do?" are my cue to plug my ears and yodel, "I'm not liiiiiistening!" Of course, I am listening. I'm also keenly aware that we both work two jobs and our time together is very limited. One foot in front of the other is the only way we're embarking on our Iron March to Global Domination, so tap dancing is right out!

It's Thursday, the day every week when I consider giving up the struggle but don't. Which struggle? Pick one, I think of it. First thing this morning, I had a talk with me about the litter boxes and admitted I'd been doing a - forgive me! - crappy job of keeping them tidy. Madame Topaz and Mam'selle Drusy have been exceedingly patient with my lapses. Days ago, I walked into the bathroom and realized I was standing in goo and darkness, which I partially fixed by flipping the light switch. Aha! One of the pussycats had barfed up breakfast just inside the threshold. I stuck my foot under the tub faucet and turned on the water full blast. I did not at all hop up and down muttering, "Ew ew ew ew ew" because that would be childish. Then I cleaned it up. Now that I have kittens who knock glass objects off elevated surfaces and yak on my bathroom floor, Swiffer Wet is my best friend.

Sorry, Siobhan!


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

To Me In Darkness Not In Light

Image: Suspect Device

Scout Prime at First Draft:
The last count of those missing in Louisiana is 135. The number who lost their lives due to the immediate direct result of Katrina is 1723. However a new study looked at the number of people who have died over the course of time yet related to "Katrina" and this would place the toll at 4081 people as of March 2007. More info on this and above figures is available at Robert Lindsay 's blog.

You'll find remembrances all over the blogosphere today, but nobody ties it together like Jill. President Bush visits New Orleans today. I don't want to sully my karma with futile wishes for poetic justice, but let's say I wouldn't be unhappy to see news footage tonight involving a voodoo doll and a backed-up Superdome toilet.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Is There A House Of Hope For Me And You?

The current soap opera on Italian TV - Un medico in famiglia - opened recently with a picture of our sometimes comical patriarch holding a sign: Nonno Libero. Of course, my Italian is for crap so I was left with a problem of interpretation. Did that mean "Free Grandpa!" like, "Attica! Attica!" or, "Grandpa, free to a good home"? In this dark and economically uncertain time, when we're inexplicably using parent as a verb, we may soon face packs of oldsters on streetcorners bearing signs: Will Grandparent For Food. It's funny. But it's not.

A few weeks ago, Daria, shouting at the tops of her lungs so Grandpa could hear her, asked about his new arrangement with Meals On Wheels. This was news to me.

Grandpa: Fine, fine.
Grandpa: A hot meal, three times a week. Those aren't my favorite nights.

I stiffened. I've never heard Grandpa say a bad word about anything, let alone people who take care of him so I was confused. This morning, Daria had answers.

Tata: Promise me no one's bringing Grandpa baloney sandwiches on white bread.
Daria: No, it's nothing like that!
Tata: No baloney? No matter how it's spelled?
Daria: They bring him a hot meal three nights a week. It's good food. It's just not his favorite.
Tata: What?
Daria: He says the meatloaf is good, but it's not his friend Hoagy's meatloaf.
Tata: You're saying they don't specialize in Thai, Italian and Moroccan dishes?
Daria: Yeah. It's different when we're there but we can't always be there.
Tata: This is a veritable bouquet of good news/bad news pairings. It's good news that someone feeds Grandpa but bad news that he's not wild about the food. It's good news that he goes out to the Vets every day but bad news that he goes home alone. It's good news that he takes care of himself but bad news that we can't anyway from hundreds of miles away. Christ, I'm depressing myself with this happy news.
Daria: That's your special charm.

I'm grateful. Somehow gratitude is not enough.


Monday, August 27, 2007

At Midnight, It's Never Too Soon

He's patient, but yesterday, he smoked what he says was his last cigarette. He smoked this last cigarette after he bought a pack of gum he planned to chew with extreme prejudice. I tell him, "Dahhhhhhlink, it will be your last cigarette if it is, but if it isn't you'll quit when you're ready." He's sure. He's ready. He won't hear of it any other way!

Well, okay. While I enjoy the company of a minty-fresh man as much as the next perfumed dame, I'm not applying pressure. He'll quit when cigarettes taste nasty, feel like an obligation and become a stupid expense - or he'll buy another pack. In my opinion, he's not addicted to cigarettes in the first place. Nope. He might smoke three or four a day, and not on any schedule. It's not a habit. This event's more like the day an office-holding moron breaks out the dictionary and discovers the pronunciation key. "You mean it's noo klee r? I hope nobody heard me," sez our prize-winning twit. For a little while after this satori, the speaker will stumble over the practiced noo ku ler until noo klee r feels natural. And so it can be with quitting for people who are not really addicted. One day, as I did, the not-actually-addicted smoker might simply not light another one. Siobhan, for instance, only smokes when she's wearing her blue suede shoes to taunt Elvis impersonators. A girl's got to have her standards.

For actual nicotine addicts, I have no advice. Even I know that a two-pack-a-day habit represents a personal boogie man, boogie man, and I should zip it.

He's patient with my tantrums, exhaustion, my dumb soap operas and echolalia. He's pleasant first thing in the morning and pleasant last thing at night. In between, this week, I might try this Be Nice thing people talk so much about.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

It's Too Hot, Too Hot, Babe

Wednesday evening, RAI International News showed images of wildfires in Sicily, where the situation looked bad to me. I don't understand Italian, but when hillside villages are going up in vivid flames, I can follow the story. So when the report went to the national map and a generous handful of flashing symbols lent the impression that half of Italy and Sicily were en flambe, I was horrified. Still, I am wary of getting emotionally involved in situations where my hovercraft may be full of eels, so I hoped everything would be okay and forgot about it.

This is another story. From the New York Times, in English:
Greece declared a national state of emergency on Saturday as scores of forest fires that have killed at least 46 people continued to burn out of control, leaving some villages trapped within walls of flames, cut off from firefighters and, in some cases, from firefighting aircraft grounded because of high winds.

Desperate people called television and radio stations pleading for help that they feared would not arrive in time.

“I can hear the flames outside my door,” one caller from the village of Andritsena told a Greek television station, according to Reuters news service. “There is no water anywhere. There is no help. We are alone.”

Hear the flames? Oh. My. God.
Firefighters expect the death toll to rise, because they have not yet been able to search some areas that had been overrun by flames. Hardest hit by the fires were a dozen hamlets tucked into the rural highlands around the town of Zaharo in the western peninsula, where at least 12 people, including some who may have been trying to flee by car, were killed. Charred bodies were found in cars, houses and fields in areas around Zaharo, firefighters said.

At least some of the people there were believed to have been killed or trapped after a collision between a fire truck and a convoy of cars apparently trying to flee the flames. Scores of other residents, including elderly and disabled people, remained trapped in their homes, phoning in to local television and radio stations, crying for help.

“Help! Help! Help!” wailed one resident as he spoke with Mega television from the town of Artemida. “Get some one here fast. We’re losing everything.” Minutes later, another caller pleaded for authorities to help save her two children, one of whom she feared was in shock after having seen their home go up in flames.

South of Zaharo, rescue teams confirmed at least six deaths in the seaside town of Areopolis, in the Mani region, a popular tourist destination known for its rugged cliffs and ravines. Among the victims in the area were a pair of French hikers who were trapped in a flaming ravine. Their charred bodies were found locked in an embrace, the authorities said.

I'm fucking speechless. Not this guy.
Late Saturday, Mr. Karamanlis appeared on national television and declared that he was mobilizing all of the country’s resources to tackle the blazes to “prevail in a battle that must be won.” Mr. Karamanlis also suggested that the recent fires might have been purposely set. “So many fires sparked simultaneously in so many regions is no coincidence,” he said, wearing a black tie and suit in a show of mourning. “We will get to the bottom of this and punish those responsible.”

But political opponents accused the prime minister of shunning responsibility for what the authorities have called a “national tragedy.”

“Rather than deflect attention and lay blame on some anonymous arsonist, the prime minister should take blame for the government’s failure to effectively handle this crisis,” said Nikos Bistis, a opposition socialist lawmaker, on local television.

I don't give a good goddamn about the politics, but I care a whole lot about the suffering that is and will be for a long time to come, and there's almost nothing I can do about it. Well, I guess there's this.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

You More Than Anyone, Darling

Here at Casa Con Queso, this is a common sight: a pussycat body partially concealed by fabric, often accompanied the telepathic message, "You can't see me! I am invisibuls!"

While I fear the organza curtains may not be long for this world, they were cheaper than half a prom dress so I'm lucky they don't tear along the bias in one grand demonstration of kitteny joie de vivre. They're not my grandmother's drapes, after all. No, we'll burn that bridge when we come to it.

Everyone's got a role to play and a job to do. Topaz, seen here takin' it to Drusy, not at all invisibuls except to the camera. At this point, I'd like to take a moment to excoriate Rodgers and Hart for placing unphotographable in my head while I was a young and impressionable word nerd. They were obviously retcherous human beings, what with their corrupting the language like that.

I took out the camera when Topaz began chirping. This was so unusual a sound I figured whatever came next was bound to be exciting, and it was. The eagle eyes of the six-pound pussycat had spotted a spider, the size of the O on your keyboard, crawling along the crown molding. What followed was a festival of uproarious feline frustration, complete with leaping, flying, chirping and the spider looking unimpressed from her strategic position far from razor-sharp teeth. Audrey will recognize the framed photograph next to said feline. Please know, lovey, I grabbed it before it hit the floor.

Drusy, resting her head on Pete's feet. They're nice feet. Drusy taste tests them all the time. I hope it's a phase. I was on the phone earlier with Mr. Blogenfreude and dancing like Michael Flatley because my toes are evidently delicious and Drusy must eat them! Pictured here, Drusy is not eating toes but guarding them, possibly from the other Kitteny Menace. Either that or she's sighing and declaring Pete dreeeeeeeeeeamy. She does, you know.

I shamelessly swiped this infodata from Barry at Enrevanche. He is well-informed, you know. This Sunday, the Carnival of the Cats will be hosted by The Scratching Post, and don't overlook The Modulator's Friday Ark. Thank you, Barry. Hello, Mr. Gato!


Thursday, August 23, 2007

From A Tuesday Point Of View

On Thursdays, I'm full of the festive exhaustion. It's nothing and I'm not complaining; certainly, I may be the luckiest girl in Puppetland to be able to eke out a decent living while avoiding a colorful stint in the Booby Hatch. Yes, I am among the most fortunate human beings on the planet: almost nobody is attacking me with fresh fruit. Few people bother arguing with me anymore and those that do bring me plastic dinosaurs of apology. Yesterday's yoga class turned into a two-hour extravaganza, which means tomorrow I'll hop around, yelping. These apparent contradictions amuse me. Please accept this token of my esteem while I attempt the fandango of the financially solvent, merry in the sunny meadow of overemployment: the Rakes' catchy little tune about attractive disaster called The World Was a Mess But His Hair Was Perfect.

Someday soon I'm gonna need new shoes, and at least two of them will be red.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Most Peculiar Way And the Stars

It's late August, when my job gets more serious and making a living requires focus, which would be great if I were serious or focused. Yesterday, my department head introduced me to the new Library Poobah as "our comic relief." The new Poobah was young and smiling. I offered to tell her knock-knock jokes. Later, though, I'll want tribute from her. I'm having a problem with a co-worker who - mysteriously - refuses to consider my happiness. I'll break out the elephant jokes and ask the new Poobah to deliver a righteous smackdown. I'm focused on that, I guess.

Q: What's the difference between elephants and plums?
A: Plums are purple.

You and I, we don't ask much of one another. You want nothing less than the hot, syrupy distillate of my hilarious life in and out of yoga pants, served up in a gleaming vessel you can't wait to hurl at something. I want you to get to the hurling, because of course it's all about me. For instance, my co-worker asked me why she eats yogurt, and she is not the first one to ask. Let's pause a moment while that sinks in.

Q: What does Tarzan say when elephants run through the jungle?
A: "Here come the plums."
(Tarzan is colorblind.)

I just read a yogurt label to one of my co-workers to explain what she should look for on the next one. We were talking about the sugar content of yogurt, which is just silliness. Yogurt doesn't need sugar and you're sweet enough as you are, Sweetie. So there I was, pointing out the little logo that means her yogurt has active cultures and, yes, would help with that women's problem, and how on earth did I become the person who answers questions when I ask questions all day every day? We can't know for sure, but it might have something to do with that big box on my desk, and sculpted eyebrows that make me look curious.

Q: What does Jane say when elephants run through the jungle?
A: "Here come the elephants."

In all humility, I'm only thinking of others when I say my happiness is all that matters. It's in everyone's best interest that I get what I want, whatever that is, don't you agree? Of course you do. I'll entertain the new Poobah. I'm a giver - practically selfless, even. Now, isn't there a comment you'd like to fling? In other news: this shining vision may not be safe for work, but it's some view.

Monday, August 20, 2007

You're Every Move You Make

As I approached the Flemington roundabouts Friday afternoon, most of the sky turned an ominous charcoal gray - except for one patch blue as teacups. Rain drenched my path but it didn't matter. The passenger side window was open and the air fresh; it was a pleasure to drive the last few miles to Daria's and Tyler's house. Just before I parked in the driveway, the sky opened. Tyler, the house's sole occupant after everyone else left for Cape Cod days before, loaded dishes into the dishwasher as I stood in the kitchen and shook myself like a sheepdog. About a minute later, a sound like dozens of carpenters attacking the roof with icepicks drove us to the windows, where we saw hailstones the size of marbles knocking over lawn furniture up and down the block. We elected to stay indoors and avoid brain damage. After ten minutes, the hail passed but rain fell in sheets. Getting our two persons and Tyler's two bags into my Grand Am ended with both of us completely soaked. I could only laugh until we drove through the neighborhoods between us and the highway and surveyed the storm damage.

It's worth noting that no two people in my family may be as different as Tyler and I are. He was a Marine. I am a tree-hugging pinko. He believes in traditional family roles. I avoid traditional families until after happy hour. He works in insurance. I work for insurance. He is an Ann Coulter fan. My politics are to the left of Gandhi's. By the time we crossed the Bourne Bridge onto Cape Cod, he was lecturing about how the unions destroyed American car manufacturing and I was saying the words bullshit and overcompensated management fuckpigs with fervor and frequency. For now, that's hours into the future and hundreds of miles away. As we drove up Routes 206, then 287, then 87, then 287 again, the rain and trucks blinded us, and somewhere along the way, we missed seeing the entire Tappan Zee Bridge.

I don't know if you've seen the Tappan Zee Bridge but it's on the biggish side. If someone had misplaced it or left it in his other pants, we were pretty sure we would have heard but neither of us had. Thus, as we were lost in New York State past the section of highway pictured in the MapQuest directions to someplace I've been going my entire life, we both thought back to that place near Mahwah, New Jersey where suddenly the road divided and because the weather reduced visibility to a few dozen feet, we'd had no idea why. By then it was too late, and New York State, with its exits more than ten miles apart, was holding us hostage.

The rain cleared slowly as we continued northward and we took the next exit, where we found ourselves in Outlet Mall Hell. Tyler followed signs for an information booth we never saw. We both looked at the printed directions and came to the same conclusion: we had no idea where we were.

Tata: Scout's honor: I will never again leave for a long trip again with the blessing of Rand McNally. You know, when Paulie Gonzalez was a repo man they had laptops that had detailed satellite maps.
Tyler: I have that and left it on my desk.
Tata: I guess your car has GPS, yes?
Tyler: No. I didn't think I'd need it.
Tata: Look, you couldn't have known we'd see hailstones the size of marbles and houses dropping on my sisters. This isn't your fault.
Tyler: We're stopping at the New York State Welcome Center and reading their maps.
Tata: Well, okay, but then we have to stop somewhere for coffee. This might take awhile.

Proof that my manicure survived this terrible ordeal.

Staring at the wall map, we chose a route. Actually, I chose a route back to 95 and Tyler said, "Okay, but I still think we should take 84 to Boston and head south." I don't know why he let me have my way. We turned right at Danbury and headed southeast for the coastal cities. I was never so pleased to see New Haven in my life. Actually, I'd never been pleased to see New Haven. An hour and a half later than we should have seen it there it was, and it was pleasing indeed. In the meantime, we learned something about New York State: signs on highways that tell you Dunkin' Donuts are in every inbred, backwoods town are lying.

We stopped where the town consisted of a strip - maybe ten crumbling businesses and some equally ramshackle houses, then - nothing. We looked at each other and tried not to hear the mental banjo music. Tyler turned the car around and we got back on the highway, a little nervous. After that, every exit had a Dunkin' Donuts sign. It was like each town thereafter was poking us in the eye with a caffeinated stick. Once we crossed the border into Connecticut, we were driving out in the middle of nowhere and nothing and there it was: a gleaming Dunkin' Donuts along the roadside.

Tata: Jesus Christ, it's Dunkin' Donuts!
Tyler: Are we stopping?
Tata: Damn right, we're stopping.

Tyler beached the car. We unbuckled our seat belts wearily. "Let us console ourselves with melted cheese," I said. Until this point, our road provisions consisted of Vitamin Water and snap peas. Next thing you know we're scarfing down Denver omelet croissants with sausage and bacon, and if we could have wedged another artery-clogging dietary disaster onto the bread we would have.

These are steamers we did not dig ourselves. Usually, someone in the family goes clamming and everyone eats. There wasn't time Saturday morning. Mom picked these up at a local guy's shop. Grandpa wanted to know who did the clamming and where but Mom didn't know.

Mom steams the clams with broth, pours broth into individual cups and melts butter in custard cups. You eat the steamers by prying open the shells, peeling off the sock as you peel the clam from the shell, dunk the clam into broth to swish free the sand, then dip it in butter. You're supposed to drink the broth, too. Then you are very happy and it is worth a seven-hour car ride during which you say to your sometimes unforgiving brother-in-law, "If I told you this story you wouldn't believe it, would you?" and he says, "No."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging: Spiders And Snakes Edition

This afternoon, when I was traveling between jobs and pressed for time,Miss Topaz demonstrated her displeasure with the service around Casa Complaisancy while informing me that she had a tummy ache. In other words, she looked me in the eye and pooped on the bathroom floor. I said, "I'm sorry, sweetheart. This is my fault for overstuffing you with delicious tuna fish." Yesterday, I foolishly opened a can among many left over from the apartment's previous feline occupant, divided the can's contents into approximate halves and presented them at great risk to myself to the kitten riot at my feet. I'm lucky to be alive; Topaz nibbled and kept nibbling. Then nibbled some more. Later, there was nibbling. I'm surprised she didn't hork. She's got style, that femme!

This afternoon, I'm packing up and driving. Grandpa turned 95 last weekend so much of the family is converging on Cape Cod for the annual Weekend of Happy Shouting. It's sweetly unnerving to sit next to Grandpa and yelp about my job at the unnamed university, and asking him questions only frustrates him. It frustrates me that he asks my mother what I'm talking about and she says, "DOMENICA'S FUNNY, DAD. SHE'S MAKING A JOKE." Then Grandpa pauses a moment and laughs, because he loves me.

Pete will stay with the kittens. They adore him and will nibble his toes. I cannot wait to come home and scritch three bellies.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Friday Music Blogging: Slippery People Edition

Observe the growing catalogue of histories being rewritten before your very eyes.

Hat tip: mr. blogenfreude.

Crossposted at Blanton's & Ashton's.

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Voices, I Hear Voices

Wait for it...wait for it...

Crossposted at Brilliant@Breakfast.


Double Time With the Seduction Line

Pete's full of surprises. For instance, I don't know about you but I get confused when a pastry chef says, "I don't eat white flour." It turns out Pete had a life-altering illness about the same time I did, lo when Gingrich roamed the earth, and now dietary elements I take for granted suddenly aren't. I eat everything. He does not. This is not a problem. It's a puzzle, and my brain rejoices.

When Dad was sick, I wracked my brains for simple and complicated ways to get a few calories past the bad taste cancer literally left in his mouth. On good days, when I thought of a way to trick the cancer palate, I felt like a million bucks. By comparison, lactose and white flour intolerance combined with an inability to digest seeds and nuts is a walk in the damn park.

I admit the lactose intolerance made my head spin a bit. A zillion years ago, I did a brief, embarrassing stint as a backup singer for this woman who played the women's music circuit. Yes, there is one. Getting to sing was great fun but rehearsals kicked my ass. She was vegan and fed me gallons of coffee and soy milk, bagels and ...something spread-y, I don't recall what. Her heart was in the right place, but I spent whole afternoons in the bathroom. Thus, when Pete said, "I drink soy milk" I bit my lip and bought a box. I mean, what the hell. It's not radioactive, right? It can't hurt me from the inside of a cardboard box. One morning when I didn't have to leave the house all afternoon, I poured a glooooop! of soy milk into my coffee and waited for digestive disaster.

None ensued. Emboldened by this minor triumph, I began pouring glooooops! of soy milk into my coffee every morning. Then Pete introduced into the diet soy spread, which turned out to be tasty and perfectly okay for frying. I was pleasantly surprised that we weren't fighting lactose intolerance with saturated fat. A month ago, I would have rejected these products out of hand; now, I am perfectly okay with them. It is slow going to dismantle my assumptions about what is available and edible, but the thinking - all the thinking - excites me.

We agree to disagree: Pete says no one needs cheese. I say you can have my cheese when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. Other than that, planning meals is a blast.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My Feet Know Where They Want Me To Go

It's hot and I'm sweating - which is a step in the right direction. I've been limping around town on creaky joints since last summer. Then, last week, when I wrenched my left hip, I finally had what Dad described as a goddammit talk with myself.

Tata: I've had it with you!
Tata: What? Ow! What?
Tata: This is pathetic. You've waited more than a year to do something about this. A freaking year!
Tata: Ow! What's your point?
Tata: I am totally done with your excuses and lollygagging. We're taking private yoga classes now, and you're paying for it.
Tata: Ow! I can't afford that!
Tata: Really? Can you afford to put on another ten pounds and wait another year?
Tata: No...
Tata: Bust out that credit card, princess, we're rehabbing those hips.

At the new yoga studio in town, I signed up for three private classes at a price that made me gulp and I stretched for all I was worth. Then, again on Monday, when the teacher pushed me hard. The day after a tough workout, you walk around whistling. The second day, you wish you could lie down on a runway at JFK and let Lufthansa run you over very well. This afternoon, I went back to the studio and pushed myself as hard as I could. Tonight, I drew a hot bath, perfumed it with oils and tinctures, poured a glass of chardonnay and lay down in the tub for as long as I could hold still, possibly even whole minutes.

My hip joints ache but the muscles promise a less painful Friday than they might. I let this go too far and fooled myself into thinking the pain and stiffness weren't important, and that it's never too late to address them. That's idiotic. And my next class is Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It's Okay, It Goes This Way

Oh Blogosphere, my love for you is pure. It pains me to leave you even for an hour. Still, a wild woman's gotta pay the bills, and baby, you know I always do. I'll be working, but I'll be thinking of no one but you. Well, maybe Peter Murphy, but don't you worry your pretty little head about it. He means nothing to me, baby, nothing.

Don't wait up.


Monday, August 13, 2007

You Stepped Out Of A Stranger

People ask me questions all the time, everything from Who told you you were funny? to Why are you sleeping on my lawn? This morning, my student worker asked if I planned to dance all the way across the building. I told him it was a long way to hula. So that was an easy one. The trickier questions involve my family and the one I hear most frequently: does that wacky Daria exist?

Yep. Our cousin Monday snuck up on us and snapped this moment for gobsmacked posterity.

Here you see me in a charming ensemble dragged from the back of Daria's closet describing to Daria how I'd dried my hair upside down for our sister Dara's eighties-themed sweet sixteen party. Yes, that is my butt. No, you can't have it. What would I sit on and complain? Sheesh. Daria had just finished explaining that her hair is naturally a giant cloud of Jersey Chick curly hair but that wasn't retro enough, so she went with a hairband with a streaked coif attached. It's a nice touch.

Further, that purple balloon behind me was altogether familiar. I slapped it and yelled, "Masher!" which caused Daria to spit her adult beverage.

We don't finish a lot of drinks.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Your Honesty Shine, Shine, Shine

Tata: Do you think I can leave? It would be conspicuous.
Auntie InExcelsisDeo: It sure did matter that you arrived!
Sandy: Mom! Did you hear what Karen said?
Auntie: No. What?
Sandy: I was standing right behind Domenica when she said hello to Karen. Karen said to these other people, "This is my new husband's ex-wife!" The people behind me were all like, "That is so cute! The groom's ex-wife is here!"
Tata: Try as I might, I can't avoid the paparazzi.

Yes, this afternoon, the Fabulous Ex-Husband(tm) and Karen finally got married. Years ago, I promised the man patient enough to marry and divorce me that I'd never write about him, but you should know that if I were to write about him, I would only have great things to say, like that when we met he was so painfully shy it was almost rude to stare into his poolwater-green eyes and say, "No, I can't go do what you told me, boss, I can't remember if I have feet." Yes, I fell in love with him at first sight and three months later, I stood on his desk and told him he liked me, too, which came as a surprise to him - until it wasn't. Anyway, we have a better divorce than we had a marriage, which was my fault, and he graciously forgave me. He never left the family holiday table; it took a bit of adjusting all around when he started bringing Karen, who was at first startled to receive Christmas presents from the family's lone Jew, but l'chaim! Fast-forward a few years: here we are in an Asian restaurant on Route 1 - surely you've heard of Route 1 - and the Fabulous Ex-Brothers-In-Law Louis and Ronny are positively beaming.

Louis: How are you?
Tata: I'm overjoyed! Yay! I kept telling him it was time to get married already because I wanted to be somebody's first wife.
Louis: You are his first wife.
Tata: No, sweetie, until he's got a second, I'm just the ex.
Louis: Well, you've got 38 minutes, then!
Tata: EEEEEE! New nomenclature!

Thirty-six minutes later, during the brief and effective ceremony, which in a moment of inspiration was placed in the buffet line, Louis frantically cut price tags off the wedding rings. At the 39-minute mark, the officiant had finally coaxed Karen to blurt "in failure and in triumph" without barking laughter and pronounced "husband and wife." Louis looked over at me and tapped his watch. I did the New Adjective Dance! but it was close because I almost shouted, "IT'S ABOUT TIME!"

Ronny's second wife Jan is his high school best friend. When I met her, she and Ronny were watching a p0rn film and couldn't figure out whose body parts were whose. She had a family emergency and missed today's festivities, but Ronny's two sons from his first marriage were running around with their cousins. Ronny's first wife and I hated each other, so now Ronny never fails to mention the obvious.

Ronny: Riva's sorry she missed you.
Tata: I can't bear to hear her name. It's almost as jarring as her voice.
Ronny: Make sure you rub up against your nephews. She's sure to smell you on them.

Oh, he's serious. Before I left, Ronny pointed to his older son:

Ronny: There he is.
Tata: Hold still, cute boy.

I rubbed my forearm all up and down his.

Tata: Share that with your brother! She's gonna scrub you with Drano.

Louis, three feet away, stopped breathing. Louis's wife, who has never approved of me, suddenly smiled. So, everyone triumphed.

It must be noted that Miss Sasha made the wedding cake and it was gorgeous. With any luck, we'll see photos pretty soon. In fact, Miss Sasha was the talk of the party. Everyone wanted to talk about the baby. Baby this. Baby that. Baby some other thing. I was more interested in other things.

Tata: So. Who are your new siblings?
Miss Sasha: That's my new brother. He is totally cute.
Tata: He is cute.
Miss Sasha: That one in the purple is my new sister. The girl in the cream halter top is her girlfriend.
Tata: Your new sister is a lesbian? I'm so jealous!
Miss Sasha: Ha ha!
Tata: Do the dogs and cats get along?
Miss Sasha: It's like a petting zoo with a kitchen island.

There was sushi, too.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Music Blogging: It Could Be You Edition

There are about a thousand fascinating things to talk about - later. This morning, a gentle rain is falling, the air off the river hits the wide college lawns and picks up the sweetness of recently cut grass. Nothing hurts much and I have yoga class after work. I am nibbling grapes at my desk. For this moment: a reminder from the Guillemots to savor the little joys. I forget this sometimes.

Okay, that's enough gravity. I can't fight it without a sports bra.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Never Gonna Fall For

The old laptop turned an antique two and began slowing waaaay, way down. The browser quit whenever I opened Haloscan. I was having a tough time being a belle of the Blog Ball, doing my own work and working on the family store's website. If it's possible, at this time two weeks ago I was even testier than usual. When I turned to trusty Siobhan for help wrangling a new laptop, things went side saddle.

Siobhan: I can't! I've got errands until ten every night until I leave Friday morning at 4 a.m.
Tata: Your selfishness is unbelievable! Think of the poor salesdude in the Apple store confronted with me, an overheating G3 with Miss Sasha's wedding video stuck in the disk drive, and a freshly minted credit card for this purpose alone. Imagine that psyche in terrible crisis!
Siobhan: Sob!

I promised her misery when she returns this Saturday but it made no difference. Siobhan's been on blood thinners since the pulmonary embolism in February. Perhaps you recall this golden moment in Poor Impulse Control.

(Dreamy woo woo music. Enter careening clown car.)

Tata: Wait, when should I panic?
Siobhan: When I stopped breathing in the ER and sliding toward the floor, twelve years of voice training and fright combined in a potent cocktail of pride and self-preservation. I screamed, "I CAN'T BREATHE!" annnnnd - curtain! That would have been the moment to panic. My doctor keeps saying, "You nearly bought the farm!" and laughing. I'm thinking of killing him.
Tata: Can I panic when we're the darlings of CourtTV?
Siobhan: Yes. It's natural to shiver in the presence of Nancy Grace.

(End dreamy woo woo music. Even clowns fear Nancy Grace.)

Drinking while on blood thinners makes you either a cheap date or a patient with ER frequent flyer miles, so Siobhan's been sober since before the last snowfall. Liquor manufacturers begged her to reconsider but rejoiced when she declared that for the first three days of her summer vacation everyone would have to raise their own hell, she was diving into a martini and swimming the channel. And while I am aware that she's probably just sobered up today and started issuing apologies, that didn't help me last week. So: fine! If she couldn't go shopping with me, the least she could do was write flashcards for when I tried talking to the other humans in my funny Moonman language, which she did. It took all afternoon. Finally, I was prepared and growling; I went. The experience was in retrospect disappointing. The stuck disk remains stuck. The recalled and overheating battery remains in place. I bought a firewire cable and moved my own data, and for the first time in my computer-owning history, Apple can fucking bite me. But I have this ginchy new laptop that actually does what I need it to do. My brother-in-law Dan, recipient of the erstwhile fantabulous thermoMac if he ever returns my calls, can prise that disk from the bitey drive with a monkey wrench if he chooses. We fear no warrantee!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Your Mind Is So Full Of Red

Biography Channel
A&E Televison Networks

To Whom It Concerns:

Whenever I mention my current favorite show in cnversation it is immediately canceled. It took awhile to catch on. It started with Soap, which everyone says was canceled when Jerry Falwell flipped his wig over Billy Crystal's gay character but I know it was me. I mentioned it in sixth period Chemistry and whoosh! No more Soap. Even so, it wasn't until my friends and I refused to go out on Saturday nights until after - shhhh! - Xena that I knew I could have favorite shows but their names could never cross my lips.

So it's totally my fault that your fellow A&E stooges canceled Nero Wolfe. At the time, I wrote A&E a letter filled with naughty, unprintable words, though I didn't hesitate to print them. It's effortless with that SEND button, isn't it? I apologize to your programming executives since I plainly forced their hands by inviting friends over and throwing weekly Nero Wolfe parties. I even got The Nero Wolfe Cokbook for Christmas one year. Obviously, the cancelation was my own fault.

You will be pleased to know I subsequently learned to tell people my favorite show was one I wanted canceled immediately. Most of the time, this strategy was successful. A number of unpleasant sexist and even racist offerings went the way of the electronic dodo, so I've thought of it as Using My Powers for Good. The name of my real favorite shows were my secret for the better part of a decade. Then I slipped.

Yes, it's true. In March, my father became ill and I met his Canadian in-laws. They look just like us, you know. Anyway, with these cultured, intelligent people, I discussed British comedies we all loved. We had as marvelous a time quoting Monty Python as you can have while your beloved relative is dying. My guard was down, and I mentioned my favorite show was Midsomer Murders. The televsion was in Dad's sick room, so I didn't see any TV during his month-long decline. Naturally, when I came home, you'd canceled Midsomer Murders along with Poirot and Sherlock Holmes, leaving me with no British detectives all day Sunday. Fortunately, you replaced it with things called The Unexplained, Psychic Investigators, and Haunted History. Please know I am almost prepared to tell everyone I've ever known these are my favorite shows.

It's tough, though. I hate you a lot for taking away shows that didn't consdescend to me. But - for the moment - I still hate Cops more.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

By A Bamboo Fence On A Rural Route

Yesterday at work, I wrenched the muscles and so forth attached my left hip, which was so exciting I forgot my right hip has been giving me trouble. Every time I moved yesterday it was like lightning striking inside my brain, and driving home was almost impossible, what with each pothole sending vibrations through my hip to my brain like small explosions. Walking from my car to my front door was an act of supreme determination, and once inside the apartment, I couldn't sit, stand or lie down without suppressing the urge to scream. All this was terribly entertaining but even more so was this exchange the night before.

Pete: What's wrong with your left leg?
Tata: Nothing. It's the right one bugging me.
Pete: The left one doesn't hurt?
Tata: Dude, I have an almost magical ability to recognize pain. The left doesn't hurt.

Twelve hours later -

Tata: So. My left leg couldn't hurt more if it were in flames.
Pete: Is it? Check!
Tata: It gives every appearance of not being on fire. No smoke. Few embers.
Pete: Do you want me to give you a massage?
Tata: More than life itself.

That I can stand today without passing out is exciting beyond belief and a tribute to Pete's skill as a masseur. To celebrate my good fortune, let's check in with Karama Neal at So What Can I Do? Why? Here at Poor Impulse Control, one person's problems are hilarious but we take the common good seriously.

You're going to shop. Buying gifts online and having them shipped to people you adore but don't actually want to see is a fantastic use of modern technology isn't it? It is! I'm about to buy Siobhan a present, and as Karama suggests, I'll buy it at an online charity mall. Not only am I the bestest BFF of all time - especially if really nice people don't count - I'm contributing to the happiness of people who won't embarrass me with thank you notes.

I can't give blood because I dated everyone and possess the blood iron count of a palid Mediterranean princess. Not kidding. We used to get tested, donate or try very often when Grandma Edith was a dialysis patient. The techs used to ask me why I was still conscious with an iron count that low so now I worry in rooms with sharp corners between my noggin and the floor. Anyhoo, Karama reminds us that blood banks are always short but especially short on supplies in the summer.

On a personal note: I apologize, I should have mentioned this months ago. When Dad was dying, we were utterly helpless for a while, bumbling about trying to find our way. One person who helped us and asked for nothing in return was Bud Royer of Royer's Round Top Cafe. He shipped us pies - incredible pies - and puddings and delectible stuffed quails. His generosity bowled us over time and time again, and we can never repay him for his support for us while his friend, our Dad, was dying. I will never forget that Darla couldn't be persuaded to eat a bite but tucked into a custard pie with a spoon and the closest thing to contentment was saw those dark days. Of course, she growled if anyone made for the flatware. Darla's no pushover and we're talking about pie, folks. Anyway, if you have occasion to ship pies, you will not regret ordering from Royer's. I'm going to do that myself this week. I thank you for reading this far.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I've Loved All I've Needed Love

This morning, Pete said, "I've been having weird dreams."

No kidding. I keep waking from dreams in which Morgan, beautifully dressed, smiles at me in my mother's house, descends a flight of stairs, walks out the door and meets his future. It does not occur to me to try to stop him. I wonder again if I will survive knowing he's marrying someone else. When I wake up, I don't think about Morgan because my own life is so full now, but when I dream, he leaves again. And again.

Tata: I keep dreaming about people who didn't love me. Or love me enough. My subconscious is holding a going away party.
Pete: (Thunderstuck) Exactly!
Tata: A Go In Peace - But Please Keep Going Fete. Hey, did these people treat you badly?
Pete: Now that you mention it: they could have been nicer.
Tata: Huh. There should be a clue around here someplace...

We drank coffee and ate fresh bagels on his front porch. Perhaps you recall that I sometimes forget to inhale, which my co-workers find hilarious after I draw that first panic-stricken breath and cough like a giant walrus. I have them trained - I think.

Co-worker: Forget to breathe?
Tata: (wheeze wheeze wheeze) ...yes...
Co-worker: AH! I knew it! Forgot to breathe again. Mathilde, you owe me five bucks.
Mathilde: Merde! Couldn't you have tuberculosis instead?

Anyway, this morning, I remembered to breathe in the middle of a good swig of coffee, which meant the barking had a certain spray quality. I clamped a hand over my mouth and ran for the edge of the porch, where I sprewed recycled coffee into the shrubbery. You went to college. You know exactly what I'm talking about. Pete, who is somewhat used to me now, said, "Breathing again?"

Tata: At last!

Later, I stood on Pete's back porch as he worked on his car. A song has been playing in my head for days, and I hadn't detected the message from me to me. As I stood there in the sunlight drinking coffee Pete made for me, I let the song in my head play, and suddenly, I heard the message:

"I'm happy. Hope you're happy, too."

I burst into tears because I was. Pete turned the garage corner as I was still wiping my eyes.

Pete: Didja choke again?
Tata: No. Not this time.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging: I May Disappear Edition

Friday it is, and I'm so exhausted you can be Edgar Bergen and I'll play Charlie McCarthy.

I tossed a sheet on the floor because tossing a sheet on the floor was funny. Drusy claimed it. In fact, she promptly fell asleep and stayed there after she woke up. I wondered if she might need to see the vet, but she perked right up with a little air conditioning. Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, was largely unaffected by heat. These kittens may not be as scrappy as our departed hero, who was a rock star, you know. Here, Topaz gives Drusy an affection sneeeef! sneeeef! sneeeeef! My heart just about stopped when that terrible picture appeared in the view finder screen contraption.

Topaz, our intrepid climber, claimed this box full of Dad's spices as if she were a giant cat and the box a low-hanging tree limb, and from here stalked the nonchalant Drusy. Topaz has developed a gooey crush on Pete. Two nights ago, Pete walked through my door and before I'd even closed it behind him, Topaz was standing on his toes, exclaiming, "Ohhh, Pete! You're dreeeeeeeamy." Drusy's not taking that lying down, except that she now lies down next to Pete, rests her tiny head on his lap and looks up at him with those peculiar green eyes.

I am getting very sleepy... so sleepy... I will open a can of tuna... and another... and another... I will cluck like a chicken... I won't remember we had this little chat...

What am I doing with this can opener?

I couldn't love the kittens more. My heart would asplode. I tell them so and rub their adorable bellies. Still, I can't help thinking the recycling bin contains a few surprises.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Than I've Ever Been

This song has been on my mind, thanks to Altrok Radio.

Now it's on yours.

In other news, Lupe loaned me the new Tori. I have not learned to love it yet. Tori finally made a Kate Bush album, which is okay with me. I like Kate Bush.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Little Bit Of Your Love To Me

I don't owe you an explanation, but here is one: art is life. Here is another: in life as in dreams, things may be what they represent, not what they are. Drusy is playing with a jar of cardamom seeds.

The boxes opened, the pans, jars and boxes neatly set up in rows resembled nothing so much as crooked houses on crooked streets leading to a villa. I rearranged a few things until I could see children ducking down alleys and a church parking lot, a pool and tenements. Maybe you see it; maybe not. We know I'm a crappy photographer and it wasn't a permanent installation. I've put away the pans. I have no idea what to do with a gallon of frijoles negros except it could take me all winter to eat that much rice & beans for breakfast.

When your father, a chef and food writer, dies and you get one-quarter of his spice cabinet, I recommend you too try miniature urban planning.

Some items pictured won't look familiar to the home cook. The reason for this is when Dad heard about interesting new products or additives, he wrote to their manufacturers for samples. I'm not kidding when I say he had a big bucket of Splenda left after a few years of road testing it all sorts of ways. So. I don't know what to do with agar-agar or xanthan gum, but I will find out. Let's hope they're not explosive.

Over the weekend, a conversation about peppermint stick ice cream at Harp & Sword went a little pear-shaped. It was not my intention to criticize, or imply I had credentials other than taste buds and - you know - experience with eating dessert - I adore Minstrel Boy, and my suggestions were offered with respect and affection. I don't claim to have Dad's encyclopedic knowledge of food or contribute as he did to one. Nope. My point, which I failed to articulate, was that if dinner was a big hit you only need a small sweet, just to finish the meal gently. Dessert is an embellishment. So. If Grandma's supernaturally fantastic peppermint stick ice cream is enough to send guests into paroxysms of joy, don't weigh them down with a catastrophically rich brownie unless it's a microscopic portion. It's all too much! In other words: you can be so generous with dinner guests that they puke. Sure, that'd be funny - yakking always is if you're not mopping it up - but is that the goal?

Oddjob, dear Oddjob dislikes almonds. In the boxes Daria packed, I found sliced almonds, marzipan and something called almond bark. I despise marzipan but recognize it as a better decorative medium than caulk, so I'll use it. Somehow. This almond bark thing, though, I don't know. It's greasy to the touch and tastes like white chocolate. The first ingredient on the list is palm oil, a big no-no for friends with heart and cholesterol problems. Unless you don't like your friends and want to duke it out chemically with your old nemesis Lipitor.

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