Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday AIDS Blogging

By special request -


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Trip It Was Back Then

The Systems Guy has known me for over a decade. He appears at the doorway of my cubicle today to do some hour-long higher form of magic, during which my workday comes to a close. He has come to our office with two new assistants. He tells me his last assistant spent ten minutes talking with me and developed an embarrassing crush. I tell the Systems Guy I'm crush-proof, but I still have to leave and my stuff is on the other side of him.

Tata: I bicycled to work. See?
SG: That's a bicycle helmet?
Tata: Yup, and that's my basket.
SG: I just thought you were special.
Tata: Special or Special? Because I am special.
SG: Well, Special, obviously and specially padded.
Tata: Co-workers! Co-workers! Systems Guy thinks my job is so stressful I might get a concussion sitting at my desk.
Co-workers: We kind of have a betting pool. So: yeah.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Down the Road, A Factory's Choking

I could write you a lengthy exhortation to action or I could urge you forward in a few simple words, but I could not speak more urgently or eloquently than the formidable Digby, issuing this clarion call. The time has come for us to hold our presidential candidates accountable. It'd be great if we could hold our war criminals accountable, but you have to crawl before you can rendition an entire administration to the Hague.

Please read Digby:

Scott Horton has announced a new initiative that I think is hugely important as we move into the general election season. It may be the most important foreign policy agenda item of all and yet it's one that all the candidates are loath to talk about in any detail and which the press seems determined to let them elude.
In its self-declared war on terror, the Bush Administration overturned an American legacy that stretched back to General Washington’s orders at Trenton and Princeton in 1776. The administration repudiated the order that the first and greatest Republican president issued in the heat of the Civil War, in 1863, prohibiting torture and official cruelty. The consequences have been nothing less than disastrous ...

The moral issue hovering over the 2008 election is the Bush Administration’s embrace of torture as a tool of statecraft. This mistake must be thoroughly repudiated, and the nation must undertake a vow never to repeat it. And this issue should not be allowed to divide the nation as a premise of partisan rancor. There is hope in this election year to reverse one of the most fateful decisions in our nation’s history–the decision after 9/11 to disregard America’s historic values and to use torture in the “war on terror.”

All the remaining Presidential candidates–John McCain in the Republican Party, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party–have publicly stated their opposition to the use of torture. Now each of these presidential candidates must get their parties to adopt at their Conventions a party platform plank that returns America to its historic position of absolutely rejecting torture–anywhere, on anyone, for any reason.

The initiative is called No Torture, No Exceptions. As Digby explains, No Torture, No Exceptions means:
Reaffirming America’s commitment to existing federal laws and international treaties that ban torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under all circumstances.

Renouncing all legal interpretations and executive orders that redefine torture and permit such acts as sensory or sleep deprivation, stress positions, sexual humiliation, mock executions.

Enforcing full transparency of information about how America treats any and all detainees held by our personnel and those in our employ anywhere in the world.

Rejecting and abolishing the practice of rendering detainees abroad.

Establishing a single standard of interrogation procedures to apply to all persons held in U.S. custody or by those under U.S. control, whether C.I.A., military, or civilian.

Treating our detainees as we would have others treat detained Americans.

It's truly the least we can do.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

We Know You, They Know Me

I've been a little tense lately. Yesterday at the family store, I re-wrapped a wedding gift twice because I kept tearing the double-thick formal paper when I folded hospital corners with extreme prejudice. Though Pete manned the register at the toy store while I womanned the till in the gift shop and we love working together, it was a long day. After work, we bicycled to my house, drove to his, gently wedged a tree into my trunk and planted it in Mom's backyard two towns away. By the time we got home, leftover Chinese under one arm, we were exhausted, determined and scheming a scheme. As we'd bicycled to the stores in the morning, I was carrying so much weight in my messenger bag I could barely breathe, let alone pedal, and damn it, I was not doing that again.

You know that moment when you get over yourself in a big way? It's strange, really. You're marching down life's highway in fetching Ferragamos with your dogs barking for ages and finally - finally - you think 'Hey, maybe Adidas and sweat socks wouldn't cut out my still-beating heart and who the fuck invented pantyhose anyhow, the Marquis de Sade?' You reluctantly switch to flats and learn to live without podiatric agony. The sun comes out and angels sing. Even so, you look back and wonder what took you so long.

When I couldn't breathe - and thus could hardly utter topical dirty words - suddenly I was completely, totally over my reluctance to put a basket on my bicycle.

A Boy And His Cat

This morning, we ran errands. While Pete picked up bagels, I stood on a one-way street and epoxied a finger puppet to my car's antenna. Pete was and remains skeptical, but I have every confidence that in the seas of look-alike white cars and gray cars through which I sail to purchase my elitist arugula, which until recently was a peasant lettuce, I will easily navigate to my own white car now that I've glued a five-inch irridescent grasshopper to the antenna. It might've been more fun to affix gold-painted macaroni to the roof but imagine the glare. By the same token, I dare you to NOT imagine me pedaling around town with a megaphone, instructing people to surrender Dorothy. As you can see here, Drusy was very helpful as Pete assembled the basket.

Lovely Topaz basked in the sun during all the commotion, which I understood because I made the mistake of putting down the camera and nodding off for two hours. The day was gorgeous. We'd gone walking around Lake Carnegie and sat on a lock in lazy afternoon sunlight. We drank our Joint Juices and read all the plaques. We stopped at a farmer's market wedged into a tiny house on Princeton's Nassau Street and picked brussell sprouts and lemons for grilling. By the time we got home, I could barely hold the camera.

Then we took lazy catnaps in golden afternoon light.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

All My Secrets But I Lie

The leaves now obscure view of the city across the river, which is just as well because leaves also damp noise. The construction on Route 18, now in its eight hundredth year, encroaches closer and closer upon the domain of the river people. Any day now, busboys will be driving bulldozers, if for no other reason than that if I wake up in a drainage pipe domecile and find a gassed-up Caterpillar plus keys, obviously that's a gift from God.

Pete and I are about to start work on the bathroom at his house. This means we're going to pull down tile and walls, replace all kinds of mossy, moldy things, retile, repaint. In between, unaffected fixtures will be plastic-coated to vapor-barrier perfection, and my homework is eye-popping exposure to Holmes On Homes. My new mantra is does it meet code? and I worship at the feet of Norm Abram, High Priest of the New Yankee Workshop. It's also possible the bathroom's too small a space in which to unleash our combined demo fury, and I'll spackle the kitchen because, dude, I totally rock the 100 grit sandpaper without chipping my high-gloss sea-green manicure.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Where Goddesses Are Sleeping

This morning, I opened my eyes and immediately started hacking and sneezing. Pete said, "What is wrong with you?" I coughed and snurked. "Ah! My extreme beauty! It's not for everyone."

This tree by the economics building was pink two weeks ago and today is is luxuriously green. Graduations are finally over. The little dickenses have departed for parts unknown, which is good for me. For the next week, those of us who actually live here can park our cars without a fist fight. After that, the town will be overrun by summer students who flunked geometry the first time, and these paying sweathogs park, sometimes on a z-axis. In June, New Brunswick looks like a festival of emergency orange traffic cones so in September garages are still standing.

I can't explain that.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

All the Time They Want To Take

Wendy's dog Zaidie is six brilliant months old. You remember Zaidie -

Good boy!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Use Talking At All

If you have recently arrived at Poor Impulse Control, welcome. The first thing to know is my relationship with Blogger is tenuous at best and hostile on a normal day; the second thing is that I have all the patience of a charging rhino. Last night, Blogger whacked me a few times and I lost interest in fighting. Coincidentally, Pete arrived at home and I developed a great interest in asking how his day went. Yesterday's post is draft writing, a sketch. I'm going to leave it up as a warning to the other posts: See what happens when Blogger fucks with me? Underdeveloped comedy! Now bring me something stationary and herbaceous.

Speaking of cleaning, I am. My bathroom is now relatively, temporarily pawprint-free and I've lectured the cats on their filthy habits. Sheets and towels tumble n the dryer. The vacuum beckons, but between tasks, I notice that people on television are speaking someone's language, but it might not be mine. Here's an example:

What the hell's that about? What did that finger action mean? Am I stupefied by bleach fumes?

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Monday, May 19, 2008

The Sky Come Following Me

Pete, who forgets to be scared at the right moments, has taken a shift or two at the family toy store. For my sisters, this works out great because if they get mad at him they've got me as the off-premises enforcer and on-premises comic relief. On Sunday, the town turned out for a street fair. Pete and I brought crunchy snacks because things will go right and things will go wrong and my family members will - you're not going to believe this - forget to eat. Anyway, we worked like a team of huskies inside and outside the stores. I overheard stuff.

Woman: I have to say it. I don't like pizza.
Man: Well -

I ran out to the tent, where Pete and my niece Lois were describing gardening hats to young mommies pushing strollers. "He said, 'Well, it's not like you're a COMMUNIST.'" Later, clouds gathered and a monsoon drowned the street fair. We had a great time noshing on grapes and arguing with carrot sticks and making plans huddled around the salsa. When the sun came out, Pete and I walked home and took a nap.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sometimes I Act Like A Monkey

As I run around the family store during a town-wide street fair, Johnny, our Southwest Bureau Chief, sends this report, disguised as a plea for assistance:

I don't know much about history. I don't know much trigonometry, starting with for example what it even is. And I'll tell you another thing I don't know. I do not know nor can I begin to understand why in this day and age you can open up an art magazine and see that an art critic, like my brother, has written about a painter, like my other brother, who has made a painting of some pieces of fruit. I understand that in past centuries it was a mark of class, a status symbol, to own paintings, and an equal if not superior mark of sophistication to be able to afford art lessons for your kids and to display their paintings of pieces of fruit on the wall the same way we stick them with magnets onto the refrigerator today. But it's two thousand eight. Two thousand and eight years since those guys killed that other guy. Who, I ask you, in this day and age, goes to art school, graduates, moves out of their dorm and gets an apartment, buys a bed, sleeps in it, then wakes up in the morning, brushes their teeth, possibly even with Rembrandt, the famous Dutch toothpaste, goes to the art store, buys a canvas and some paints and a brush, goes home and opens up the fridge and takes out some pieces of fruit and arranges them on the table and says yeah. There are many beautiful landscapes and cityscapes out there. There are many beautiful people and some lovely animals too. There's a world full of things I can choose to paint that will allow me to reach out and try to capture in my own small way the beauty and the grandeur of creation, the humming current of life, of love, of holiness that surges through the natural world. Furthermore, it being two thousand eight and our having abstract art now, I'm not even confined to expressing that beauty by painting images of things that actually exist. But what I'm going to choose, what I'm going to decide is going to be a really meaningful and significant experience for me to paint and for other people to subsequently look at, is this small pile of pieces of fucking fruit. Someone explain to me, please, who are these people? Somebody help me understand!

P.S. By the same token, some people look at a dog and see not a worthy subject for a portrait but an as yet uncooked entree.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging: Love Is In the Air Edition

Surely a sign of the End Times. Princess Drusy leeeks Mrs. Topaz and Mrs. Topaz permits this leeeking. Check for buggy Horsemen!

For the first time in more than a week, the Blogging Gods have permitted the uploading of a new image from my camera at my house. I can't explain that. "Computers are trying to kill us," says Siobhan. While I can't put forth a cogent argument, I suspect computers may be peevishly trying to at least inconvenience. It's raining outside. Since our satellites are spying on us, couldn't they email and tell me where I left my damn umbrella?

Even so, no rain over New Jersey dampens my mood. Love is in the air!

I have no words for the joy this brings me, so I've spent the day squealing gleefully. In comments, Jill asked a question I can't answer, though my curiosity is piqued.
After having to deal with mousies in my basement celotex ceiling (and having no assurance that some aren't still there, I'm concerned about anything that's going to attract vermin...that's the one reason I haven't bought a composter. I think about it, though, every time I cut the stems out of the swiss chard. Of course I could just toss it in the bushes in the backyard for the bunnies, but would they find them? And will they care about the sand?

Since we've already determined my friends know all, what do you think, happy friends? Bunnies?

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Women Stand Around

Sometimes, I forget to shut up. My office is populated by people of all stripes over the voting age. One is very young and gives off the factory scent of New Co-Worker.

Tata: Whatcha doin'?
Kim: Poking holes in a plastic lid with a bendy plastic fork.
Tata: Wouldn't you enjoy using scissors?
Kim: I'd have to clean the scissors.
Tata: That's vandalizing ancient state property! You'll use those scissors rust and all, young lady.
Kim: What's for lunch?
Tata: Soup, though today I crave grilled cheese.
Kim: They make grilled cheese at the student center.
Tata: I avoid going over there. I meet people I'd prefer not to. Dated the whole town, you know.
Kim: You could make grilled cheese in the microwave.
Kim: But if you went across the street you could get one of those delicious cookies at Au Bon Pain.
Tata: I bake my own at home and so could you.
Kim: Our oven died kind of a slow death and we never replaced it. It was from the sixties.
Tata: So am I. Do you have a toaster oven?
Kim: No.
Tata: What?
Kim: Sometimes I boil something on the stove.
Tata: How does your family cook?
Kim: We don't.
Tata: (Nervous now) I'm sorry, what do you eat?
Kim: Microwaveable stuff and takeout.
Tata: That's a very expensive way to live.

Was that MY mouth? Is it finally SHUT?

Kim: Sometimes my dad makes salads. I guess.
Tata: Salads are delicious. You can use all kinds of vegetables.
Kim: I don't really like vegetables.

Damn it, I'm about to talk again. I can tell!

Tata: They're so easy to prepare!
Kim: Like, what? Broccoli or asparagus? I had them once. I wouldn't recommend them.

The hits just keep on coming!

Tata: You had broccoli once?
Kim: I hope my dad's home tonight so he can help me make a salad for tomorrow's picnic.

I snap. Not only do I snap, I really snap. I forget this is my co-worker I see every day and I draw breath to ask why in glamorous tarnation a college graduate needs assistance tearing lettuce when suddenly the microwave beeps and my soup within steams. The spell is broken and I exhale. She is uncrushed. Turning, I retrieve my soup and promise myself I will never again mention food to this person.

Then I eat soup filled with delicious carrots, celery, broccoli, tomatoes, fennel and onions. Whew! That was close.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Receiver I'll Make You

Sometimes, I feel like I've lost my mind. CNN:
Catcalling - creepy or a compliment?

Catcalling a compliment? I'm fucking speechless.
"I call it street abuse," says New York City filmmaker Maggie Hadleigh-West, 49. "It's unwanted attention and invasion of space."

In her 1998 documentary "War Zone," Hadleigh-West confronted catcallers and filmed their responses. Many of the men literally ran away to avoid talking to her about why they whistled or made a provocative comment. The Department of Defense has used the film since 2002 to train branches of the military about issues surrounding sexual harassment and sexism in general, she says.

"Being in a public space with a strange man who is being sexually aggressive is potentially dangerous," Hadleigh-West adds.

On the other hand, some women appreciate the attention in certain cases, like Jessica, a 31-year-old health-care educator in Los Angeles, who declined to use her last name to protect her privacy. "Yeah, it's objectifying and all, but you know, if I walked down the street and didn't have men looking me up and down and catcalling, I'd think, 'Boy I must really be getting old and dumpy,'" she says.

Oh fuck you, just fuck you, collaborator. And while we're at it, just fuck you for making it a little harder for everyone else. Besides that, fuck you. Guess I'm not totally speechless.
According to existing studies and her own findings, [researcher Holly] Kearl says, some men are simply ignorant about how their behavior is perceived. Kearl, who completed her thesis, "Direct Action, Education, Consciousness-Raising, Activism and the Internet: Methods for Combating Street Harassment," last year, thinks posting on Web sites like HollaBackNYC is preferable to resorting to anger and violence.

"A lot of men have no idea that women don't like being talked to in this way," she says. "It never crosses their mind, and yelling doesn't educate them. If you yell, they often don't understand why you are upset and so they take it personally."

Often, Kearl says, an assertive, clear response can illicit a kinder reaction than one expects.

"A lot of the time, I find guys will just say, 'Oh, okay, I didn't realize it made you feel that way. Thanks.'"

Men don't know what? That women don't like feeling afraid for their safety in public spaces? Of course, men know that. Men who catcall count on it. In two thousand-goddamn-eight, to say that men don't understand the power imbalance that permits them to behave this way is to infantilize and excuse abusers and rapists, so fuck you, too. Fuck CNN for running that fucking headline on that fucked-up article. Fuck that writer for presenting a "balanced" picture of misogyny. I mean, fuck that.

That's enough. I'm going to go drink something decaffeinated and try not to picture myself saying the same thing ten years from now, when douchebags still act surprised that women are human beings.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What You Touch You Don't Feel

Yippee! New Ladytron, now playing on Altrok Radio, which reminds me of this pretty and pretty silly video for a hypnotic Ladytron song. Plainly, the record company got its Bjork on without a plan for the morning after.

Because I will never forget the sight of corpses floating through the fetid streets of New Orleans and will never forgive the people who exacerbated that still-roiling disaster, because I have $37.84 in my checking account until Friday, because a junta will do what a junta will do, the last 10 days have ground me to a fine powder. I look as fabulous as I feel, so at least it's not my little secret. On the other hand, an employer may demonstrate a certain impatience when you call out under the weather due to a cyclone in Myanmar. What's a gal to do?

It's important to remember, at shitty moments like this, giving money is not always the answer and while few of us can help in earthquake rescue efforts on the other side of the earth we can bring Good Works into the world. My favorite place to find Good ideas is Karama Neal's So What Can I Do? I'm going to spend a little time there this morning rehabilitating my outlook, and I hope you'll join me. Later, I may write a fan letter to the Black Oven for combining metal mythology and baked desserts in a charming post-Goth fashion, and I needed a good laugh. Tonight, Pete and I will shop for a composter, so we can make our own mulch, grow better vegetables and contribute less trash to landfill. We can't buy the composter right now - $37.84 in checking - but we can plan.

Got Good plans? Let's hear 'em.


Monday, May 12, 2008

You Eyes Of Blue

Chuan's sisters, launching themselves briefly into unsuccessful orbit from this location on the Great Wall. No one was injured in this unfunded space program.

Astronauts of all kinds are heroes. It's never too late to hold a spontaneous parade.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Way To Walk That Says

All hail Princess Drusy of the jade green eyes, seen here counting sheep.

Friday morning, I got up with the alarm and padded to the bathroom, where I couldn't lift the toilet lid and didn't know why. When I opened my eyes, I could see a little black cat sitting on a black toilet lid cover, so I relocated said pussycat to the floor and used the commode. Then I did lots of things in my apartment that would have looked much like me holding still and sipping water for half an hour before my shower.

Siobhan: What is it you think I care about?
Tata: Hearing me make porpoise noises.
Siobhan: Two minutes. Go.
Tata: This morning, I found a dead snake and a happy cat in my bathroom.
Siobhan: Imelda, hold my calls.
Tata: Right, so I said, "For me? Oh sweetheart, you shouldn't have!" but it came out, "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"
Siobhan: Christ on a cracker! What did you do?
Tata: I squealed, "Pete, there's a dead garter snake in the bathroom." He said, "How big is it?" and I said, "About a foot." He said, "Well, what are you gonna do about that?"
Siobhan: He's got to know that according to the Boyfriend Rules, Section 6: Wildlife, paragraph 3: "The boyfriend removes non-pet reptiles and rodents from domestic precincts" and he's in violation.
Tata: Yeah yeah, I said, "Omma get some tongs and toss it out the window."
Siobhan: Was there much screaming?
Tata: I'm shocked you didn't hear me in the next town. So I ran to the kitchen for a set of tongs but then I stood in the bathroom, paralyzed with ridiculous fright. Drusy took this opportunity to jump off the toilet lid and roll around on the dead snake, all "Look, Mama, I keeeellt it!" I almost yakked on my adorable indoor predator.
Siobhan: I might throw up for you!
Tata: Delegate that to your intern. So I picked up the snake with the tongs and it was so small it slipped out of the grip. I grabbed it again and kept saying, "Good kitty. Good kitty," but that's not really enough, you know? So I was all, "Pete, at least get in here and play Point & Laugh."
Siobhan: It's like he's not your boyfriend!
Tata: It's like he's the boyfriend who knows I can take care of myself, but you're half-right. Later, I said, "Dude, we have to review our roles in this relationship." He got all, "Oh no! What am I doing wrong?" I said, "Next time I make sounds only bats hear because there's a dead snake on the bathroom floor you better vault out of bed and take video."


Friday, May 09, 2008

But the Earth Is All We Know

Despair, Inc.

Email can save your sanity.

Tata: Got any gum?
Darla: Nah, I'm trying to quit. Smoking cigarettes seems to help.

I haven't lit a Lucky in three years but I might need a carton and an intervention after this.
The United Nations suspended relief supplies to Myanmar on Friday after the military government seized the food and equipment it [sic] had already sent into the country.

Earlier, in a statement, Myanmar’s military junta said it was willing to receive disaster relief from the outside world but would not welcome outside relief workers. Nearly one week after a devastating cyclone, supplies into the country were still being delayed and aid experts were being turned back as they arrived at the airport.

In the statement, the government said it would distribute international relief supplies itself.

Yes, and I am the Doublemint Twins, which makes it easier to turn the other cheek several times.
The U.N. World Food Program said on Friday it would resume aid flights to cyclone-struck Myanmar, despite the military government's seizure of deliveries at Yangon airport.

"The World Food Program has decided to send in two relief flights as planned tomorrow, while discussions continue with the Government of Myanmar on the distribution of the food that was flown in today, and not released to WFP," Nancy E. Roman, WFP's communications director, said in a statement.

The U.N. food agency had previously said it would suspend aid flights over the seizure.

In other news, my appointment to get my long luxurious tresses re-blonded couldn't be better timed. This evening, Carmelo and I will discuss great gobs of hilarious nothingness, which will prove theraputic and result in a certain shallow happiness for me. Otherwise, I might stay home and desperately quilt nicotene patches.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

But You Don't Wear No Perfume

Blogger has been giving me trouble again. I'll figure it out. In the meantime, what is it about this painting of Johnny's that I find utterly arresting? Got me! I can't stop looking at it.

This morning, I wish I could post the scent on the breeze coming off the river and through the trees. Wait, hold your nose up really close to the monitor. No, closer! Closer! Smell it?

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I And Bragger And Junior Lee

The other day, I was walking across campus at the unnamed university and passed two students climbing a tree. They were talking about climbing the tree. I thought, 'If you were cats, I'd open a can of tuna.'


Monday, May 05, 2008

You're So Unbelievable

George Vomvolakis, lawyer for accused stalker Jack Jordan, said,
"To me, her fear seems a little exaggerated."

Clearly, women armed with kitana swords have nothing to fear from note-wielding schizophrenics besides paper cuts and copier jams but that's beside the point. We live in a society where movie stars have the right to tantalize us with their super yumminess, far exceeding whatever yumminess non-movie stars can muster in these yumminess-deprived times - and yet we have no recourse to threaten suicide if they choose not to let us, individually, grab a spoon and slurp. I for one am outraged, but not as publicly outraged as the note-wielding schizophrenic's lawyer, Mr. Vomvolakis, who over the weekend actually said into microphones - and here I must cut to the bone - har har! - until I can find supporting video - that while he supposed Miss Thurman might see his client's behavior as threatening "no normal woman would."

His mother must be so proud.

Correction: Video here. At :46 to the end, Mr. Vomvolakis says, "She may very well be a very sensitive person and thus was reacting the way she was. I don't think that - that most people would have been - most women in that situation would have been reacting the way - the way she did." Nice.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Words Get Stuck On the Tip Of Your Tongue

The blurry view from Pete's kitchen door on 3 March. Note the living room's irritating green trim and the infected snot yellow walls.

We'd painted the dining room a rich red and the trim a bright white. While the living room was that odd yellow and green, the dining room looked like it'd beamed itself inside the house from Planet Awesome and nested resentfully.

Today, the living room is a creamy pumpkin with bright white trim, which victory did not come easily. The green trim did not go quietly. No, it put up a squawky fuss for old paint. I spent a lot of time on a ladder with trays of white primer, a roller and a fine brush. Pete spent a lot of time refereeing the fight. Eventually, new paint - and by extention, I - won. Yay we! When I wasn't looking today, Pete cleaned and oiled the leather couch. I suspect television viewers will slide off the sofa with Must See TV glee.

Pete fought a war all his own with the fireplace. Originally, the house came with four walls of mirrors above the mantle. Pete pulled down the mirrors, pulled down the tar construction adhesive (that took a week), spackled and sanded the walls. Then he stripped the simple oak mantle, sanded, sanded, sanded some more, stained, stained, stained and polyurethaned. In this case, I can't assure you that what you see is what Pete sees - for one thing, because I'm too short to see this view without a ladder. What I can tell you is Pete positively beams when he looks at the mantle, which is about eight feet long. Don't forget that wall in front of you is actually the same creamy pumpkin of the last image. Your colorful mileage may vary.

Go back to the first image. In the lower righthand corner, observe the dining room radiator. It is faded, dirty and blah. This afternoon, I was vigorously priming a blushing linen closet when Pete said, "Hey, lemme show you something." I'd heard that line before but not outside a public park so I followed him to the dining room where the radiator was suddenly silver. I screamed! I cackled! I howled! Sweet fancy Vishnu, that radiator is exactly what I pictured when I proposed we paint the dining room red. The chair is a supple antique teak, as is the low china cabinet. These warm colors and textures together maybe shouldn't work but - they do! It's madness, but even more: directly behind a person examining this tableau is a door to the basement we took off its hinges and in the backyard I sanded into submission. Later, we stained it a few times and today Pete poly'd it. This room glows.

It's not for everyone but it breaks my heart.

Friday, May 02, 2008

We Are Shaking the Tree

Hey, Panky!

Happy Friday. Whatever it is, start without me - I feel like dog chow.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Reach Out And Touch Fate

Five years and hundreds of thousands of dead later:
Bush, in October 2003, disavowed any connection with the "Mission Accomplished" message. He said the White House had nothing to do with the banner; a spokesman later said the ship's crew asked for the sign and the White House staff had it made by a private vendor.

"President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific and said `mission accomplished' for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission," White House press secretary Dana Perino said Wednesday. "And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year."

She said what is important now is "how the president would describe the fight today. It's been a very tough month in Iraq, but we are taking the fight to the enemy."

At least 49 U.S. troops died in Iraq in April, making it the deadliest month since September when 65 U.S. troops died.

Now in its sixth year, the war in Iraq has claimed the lives of at least 4,061
members of the U.S. military. Only the Vietnam War (August 1964 to January 1973), the war in Afghanistan (October 2001 to present) and the Revolutionary War (July 1776 to April 1783) have engaged America longer.

Bush, in a speech earlier this month, said that "while this war is difficult, it is not endless."

Some things are not forgivable. In the eyes of the world, we are untrustworthy, craven and brutal, and we will pay for this belief for generations, even if we were to withdraw our troops tomorrow and empty our treasury for reparations. There was never a reason to invade Iraq and no reason to believe anything good can come of it now. Our leaders are war criminals. The best thing that could happen to us as a nation would be the arrest, prosecution and punishment of everyone who had a hand in this evil imperialist misadventure. Then maybe we could learn to trust ourselves again.

Instead, we seem ready to destroy ourselves.
The US defence secretary, Robert Gates, said yesterday the deployment of a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf could serve as a "reminder" to Iran of American resolve to defend its interests in the region.

Gates denied the arrival of a new carrier represented an escalation, pointing out that US naval strength in the Gulf rises and falls constantly with routine naval deployments, but it comes at a time of heightened rhetoric from Washington about Iran's role in the Iraqi insurgency.

In the next few days US officers in Baghdad are expected to mount a display of recently-made Iranian arms alleged to have been seized from insurgents.

CBS News reported the Pentagon has ordered commanders to explore new options for attacking Iran and that the state department was formulating an ultimatum calling on Iran to stop arms smuggling into Iraq. The reports were denied by US officials.

Happy anniversary, America.

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