Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Dangerous Drinking Game

Just try not to get wasted if you watch Extreme Home Makeover and take a drink everytime someone says "OH MY GOD".

Not that I did this or anything....


Daily I marvel at my husband's clever patched-together engineering skills where it applies to catching the stray neighborhood pit bull.

We started with an official Humane Society cage which only managed to attract stray cats and raccoons.

But from there, things have gotten interesting.

For a week, he turned the vacant pony barn into an impressive trap. He secured the second door and then installed three automatic latches on the front door. To insure that the dog would be captured, he hung a net full of dog food from the ceiling beams attached to a long line that somehow ran through the door. The way it was supposed to work was that the dog would jump up to eat the hanging food and by pulling down the net bag, the line would be pulled and the door would close and latch.

Ok so that was awesome, but it didn't work. We woke up a few days with a shut door, but it must've been raccoons or cats, because they made it out through small holes under the walls.

Ok, so trap number two is in place now. My husband has created a "pen" at the end of our fenced in yard. He took a dog food bowl, rigged it up so that it's held by a metal hook to the door of the fence, which is attached to a taut bungee cord.
Supposedly when the dog eats, the bowl will be pushed down, the hook disengages and releases the fence that will slam shut with the bungee cord pulling it.

It's all very cool. Ultimately ineffectual, but cool. Kind of Moby Dick/ Wile E. Coyote situation we have going here.

My husband likes to say that this isn't his new hobby, but I'm not so sure.

Friday, September 28, 2007

I'm onto them

Ever meet someone who you wouldn't be a bit surprised to learn was an alien?

We've got this couple that's been visiting our store for a few years now. I forget where they are from, but it's another state. Maybe north originally. Maybe Florida now.
They are both probably in their mid-sixties.

The woman is small and thin, has a complexion like a wad of clay sprayed down with olive oil. She always wears this hat that reminds me of an Edwardian newsboy. It's dark blue or charcoal with a longer brim.
She is loud and exuberant and exclaims over everything.

The man is tall with thin legs and arms, but a nice large protruding gut. He always wears a silky shiny football jersey with three quarter length sleeves and shorts. His hair is gray and cut into a weird Prince Valiant style, but longer.
He is a chronic mutterer; always having his own private hilarious eurekas.

They tell me that they have a singing act that they do in retirement homes. One of them plays piano and they both sing old-fashioned popular tunes.
They're always telling me retirement home anecdotes. I used to encourage it, but I try to hurry them up nowadays.

They are so oddly "off". Always benign and upbeat. Always in character. Very much "Third Rock From the Sun".

I think if we did have aliens among us; they would mainly be like these folks, although I would hope that a few genius peacemakers would choose to make the trip as well.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


So last week one of my regular customers came into the store with her kids. I like this girl; she reminds me of the first Sharona from the show Monk.
She was having a particularly hard time that day with the various helpless men in her life, who kept calling her on her cellphone and handing off assorted problems and tasks.
Her day was quickly turning into one big sigh and eye-roll.

In an attempt to give her a little bright spot, I slipped a kid's book that she liked into her bag.

Anyway, she came back a few days ago and handed me a little rose pin that she had made. But get was needle-felted! Just the night before, I had sat down to read the first chapter of my new needle-felting book.

As it turns out, this woman, "Sharona", makes all kinds of stuff and also teaches. Plus she spins yarn and belongs to a wool guild that she invited me to sit in on. How weird is all that?

She's challenged me to have something made by her next visit. I haven't even picked up a needle yet. Yikes.

Some stuff from the morning

First conscious moments of age 40:

Waking from a dream in which there was a new kind of weather. The sky was filled with three-dimensional clouds that took their shape and design from the frost patterns you see on window panes. It was somewhat Tim Burtonesque. Very beautiful.

Then I woke up and spanked (just one quick butt smack) my Eddie Haskell of a cat for being obnoxious.
If he thinks you're sleeping too long, he will find something that really really annoys you and just keep doing it until you get up.
For a while it was systematically pushing things off my dresser with his paw. One earring..scooot...drop...roll. Another earring...scoot...drop...roll. Coins, pencils, a book. Jerk.

Then he decided that rabbit-kicking whatever cat was sleeping beside me was good sport.If that didn't work, he'd pull on the window shades or slowly scratch the wallpaper.

Now he's discovered the living room closet doors. They're the sliding kind; two panels; unattached at the floor. So he hooks a paw underneath and pulls them out and lets them drop back which makes a deep thumping sound.

I thank God I am not parent to his human equivalent. He is completely irresistable and completely full of it. I would probably have to let him join a band.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Having a beer gut is so much easier

I've had a gym membership for about 4 or 5 years now. At first I amazed myself by how often I went. I mentally did the math every day on my way home and figured I'd have it all down to pennies a visit in no time.


Rather, in no time, I have ceased visiting at all.
I did get up my momentum a few months ago and started going a few days a week and it felt good. But then some twit of a desk dude decided to make me his personal greeting project.

It went something like this:

Me: Walking in, 6:30am, still sleepy.
Him: HEY there! How are you this morning?
Me: Mumble mumble good fine.
Him: Don't like to talk much do you? Gotta a big workout planned? Well, ok then, enjoy your work-out!

Me: Leaving, 7:20am, trying to avoid the notice of desk dude on my way out the door.
Him: Not gonna say bye? Did you have a good work-out? What did you do? Cardio? Weights? You're shy aren't you? Heading home? Oh, work? Where do you work? You like to read? So you're a bookworm huh? Little grumpy this morning, are ya?

So I encountered the dude about three or four times and just didn't want to go back.
Stupid I know. But come on; I just want to walk in the door, wave my barcode tag and go have a quiet workout.
I don't need to be "drawn out" or coddled.
He really bugged the crap out of me.

So, I've decided to cancel my membership, seeing as how I'm really not using it and also seeing as how something so petty can throw me off my workout course.
I've decided instead to travel down another well-worn "throw your money away" path; that being a home workout machine.
In this case, just a cross-trainer thingy with a digital readout.
I'm gonna put it in the basement and get my husband to hook up a tv down there so that working out won't be so boring.

You can already see the dust gathering on the machine in your mind, can't you?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What's for dinner?

I'm a big believer in systems. I like organization. I don't always take the time to implement good systems, but I still like to try.
My latest fantasy is to compile a family cookbook specific to mine and my husband's tastes and budget.

I have a calendar with pockets and every month I print out new recipes to try. If we both give the recipe a thumbs up, then at the end of the year, it gets hole-punched and put into a ring-binder.

I want to get this down to a science though. The whole nine yards.
What ingredients to keep on hand, when to buy them based on how perishable they are and when they will be used. What I'm going to make every day of the week.
Factor in leftovers potential so that I can save money on work lunches.
Work more vegetables and salads into the mix. Keep the weekly fat factor down as much as possible.
Lots to think about.

Meats are no problem. My husband would happily skip between hot dogs, hamburgers and steak all day long. It's coming up with healthy side dishes that are problematic.
He doesn't like cooked broccoli or cauliflower. He thinks corn is pretty useless. Red and green peppers are a no go. He's lukewarm about sauteed cabbage. We both like sauteed zucchini and squash, but you can only do that so many days a week.
Salads are good; I need to make that happen more often.

I just know that I spend far too much on groceries. I am a stocking-up addict. I think having a good system in place would help us eat better and save bunches of money.

Okeley dokeley

Why do so many Southern Baptist men emasculate their voices, so that it seems as if they are channeling Mr. Rogers?
"Shucks. I am a simple plump bumblebear with pocketsfull of pastel yarn." Soft chuckle chuckle.
The women do their own version of it. Everything they say might as well be:
"I am queen of the fairy kittens and I only eat marshmallows with pink candy sprinkles."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My secret shame

I am steeping my brain in the luxury that is fall t.v. premieres this week.
I bought my fall preview TV guide the other day and have already programmed my tv to record stuff I might miss.
I am so hooked on my "stories".
Tonight: Biggest Loser (Gillian's secret black team kicked butt).
Tim Gunn's Guide to Style.

I recorded Beauty and the Geek to watch later. I love that show. It's really sweet, no kidding. I think it's one of the few good competitive reality shows out there. And they have one of the highest hook-up rates to boot, despite not being a dating show. I think it's because some of the smarter ladies learn the value of hooking up with a geek.
I know I did.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Power of the Press

I was sorting through my photos and came across this one.

I took it about 5 years ago on Magnolia.
Because it was funny.
But as soon as I started clicking, a woman rushed out of the building and confronted me. She was so nervous. She wanted to know what paper I worked for and demanded that I leave the property.
When I drove by an hour later, the whole mess was cleaned up.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Twisted critters

After a nice tropical month of lizard weather, I finally brought my iguana, Lois, back inside to her inside cage. She has been crazy with energy, so tonight I opened the door and let her roam the house.
Now Lois is resting on top of a row of books in my bedroom.
And two of the cats have taken over her cage.

All my guys crack me up.

In which my reading skills are validated

I found out yesterday that the novel that I selected to be considered for the Peter Taylor Prize actually won!
I feel proud like it was my kid or something that won.
I can't wait to meet the author.

It's a really good book btw. Once the news is public, I'll share more info.

A month ago I wrangled a snake in science fiction

10:20: Arrive at work.
10:21: Approach front door and notice something on the walkway.Realize it is a hornet nest covered in hornets.
10:22: Walk around to the other side of the ramp and let myself in the store. Put stuff down on counter. Monitor walkway and think about solutions. "What would the croc hunter do?"
10:24: Run and get a large thick plastic cup. Squat near nest and gauge hornets reactions when I move the cup near their heads.
10:25: Decide that I am chickenshit.
10:26 Phone rings and I have to go inside to answer it.
10:27 Co-worker arrives. I frantically wrap up phone conversation and manage to stop co-worker just in time from stepping on nest with flip flops.
10:28 Mailman offers to stomp nest. I decline offer.
10:29 Co-worker runs to business next door in search of poison.
10:30 I fashion a rope handle at the bottom of the plastic cup, hook it at the end of a long broom handle and slowly lower cup down over nest. Success!
10:31 Examine new situation. Realize it's still scary. Hornets are completely pissed at cup.
10:32 Slide cardboard under cup. Tape cup to cardboard to prevent transportation accidents. Walk cup through store to back door.
Open door. Tear off some tape. Fling whole package hard and fast. Close door.
10:32 Turn around and notice mouse carcass on floor behind me. Sigh.

Number One Fan

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nature Quiz

Anyone know what these flowers are called? They are all over my yard.

We call him Root

Did I mention that we have been trying to catch a newly strayed Pit Bull for about two weeks?

He first appeared wearing a collar with about three feet of line hanging from it, so I figured he escaped from his yard.

After a few days, the collar disappeared, but before it did, the neighbor kid got a number off of it.
He called the owners and turns out they live in South Knoxville (we live in East Knox; how the heck he got from there to here is a mystery). They said he had been gone for two weeks and that they'd be over later that afternoon.

That was about a week ago. As far as I know, they never showed (and no one wrote the number down so we can't call back).

My husband got a trapping cage from the humane society and has been baiting it every night. And every morning I go out and release well-fed raccoons and stray cats.

This dog is gorgeous. He's brown and white and his brown parts are brindled. He's got a great form and seems to have a really fine temperment.
I think of him as Ferdinand the Bull. He sits in our backyard and sniffs the air and the grass with a big smile on his face.

But the fact is, he's a Pit Bull and it's doing no good to have him running loose. I don't think he's been neutered so there's the chance that breeders/fighters will pick him up and mess his life up.
And someone might just get out a gun and shoot him if he comes onto their property where there are kids or animals.

I wish he weren't so danged smart. He will not get in that cage.

As my hunting friend said, "He's gone to school on us".

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Patriotic Day My Ass...(Bush's America)

So on the way to work this morning, I passed the TVA Fair marquee and of course they have co-opted Tuesday September 11, 2007 as "Patriotic Day".
Which sounds stupid to me. Why not "National Pride Day", "Civic Responsibility Day"?, but I digress...

So here's what's happening on my street on "Patriotic Day".

My neighbor is a 30-something year old single mother of two teenaged sons. She's doing her best with a part-time job substitute teaching at $45-$65 a day.

One son has been accepted to chef school, but tuition is $10,000 per year plus a laptop and supplies. She is so proud, but has no idea how she's going to pay the bills.

The other son wants to join the army. I really want to talk him out of that. He is such a great kid. Screw him dying before he's 20 because of misguided bullshit.

Yesterday, their power was shut off by the utility company and tonight we have an extension cord running from our house to theirs to supply the power needed to keep this week's groceries from spoiling and keep their lights on.

It just pisses me off. All of it.


My dog developed a peanut-sized tumor on her ass.
Poor girl is at the vet for surgery as I type.
She really didn't like the part where I handed her over to someone strange and walked out the door.
I really didn't like it either.
I can't imagine having a human child.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A wee bit of giddy

I think I may have finally found an artisitic medium that resonates with me. I say "may have" because I haven't actually tried my hand at it, but it really appeals to me.
I didn't know til' last night that it's called needle felting. You use special needles to sculpt wool into solid forms, like dolls, hats, bags, paintings, jewelry etc...
I'm drawn to the doll/figure making potential.
I suck at sewing. I'm not that skilled at painting. I don't have the patience or resources for sculpting from more traditional mediums such as metal or wood. Knitting is too technical and most knitted stuff looks dumb when you finish with it.
But I do have a pretty good sense for spatial relations and form and color, so I think I can pull this off.
And I LOVE felt. And tiny things. And things that don't break.
I now understand the connection between all the little things I've been compelled to own. I have a felted hat, a set of 1930's tiny russian peasant dolls with felted-like faces and bodies, several small handmade felted cats.
It's the one area of frivolous buying that I can't seem to reason myself out of.
So it makes sense that I should see if I have any aptitude for it.

I ordered a basic mess of supplies and a few books this morning. That's going to be my 40th birthday present to myself.
That, and a bottle of expensive single malt scotch (I've always wanted to try that too).
If this turns into an online business, I can always call myself The Drunken Felter.

Afterward we played skeeball

My husband and I drove to the mountains today ostensibly in search of new man pants, but somehow we never got around to that.
We did however, go bungee-jumping.
I've always wanted to give myself the opportunity to do that and wasn't sure how I would be on the actual diving board part.
I'm happy to say, I did just fine. I jumped on the second "one, two, three".

Ok, that was great and all, but what pissed me off were the employees.
I mean, statistically I could get hurt or die, right?
And what are they doing? Yawn, yawn...big party last night...must lay frat boy head down on wooden shelf and close frat boy eyes.
Not just one of them, but TWO were napping at their station.
These are the dudes who outfit and strap customers in.

I mean, come on, they could at least have some of those glasses with "wide-awake" eyes painted on them just to make me feel like I'm worth some effort.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Lordy, I'm almost _ _ _ _ _

I'm about to turn 40.
The number itself doesn't bother me; I'm ok with my age.
I think what's got me down a bit is trying to chart my progress as a human that's been around for 40 years.
I'm not sure I'm evolving.

Positive growth:

I rarely suffer from severe depression anymore.
I don't lose things much anymore.
I'm less dramatic.

No growth:

Still not creating art despite ideas and opportunity.

That just doesn't look good on the whole.
Is this the stuff of middle-age crisises?

I just want to know I'm making this all count for something.

Does not stimulate fish cravings

I like weathered gray Cape Cod style clapboard, but don't you think that the new Captain D's building design looks like an easter egg market or a baby shower gift shop?

They just went too far with the pastel theme.

If you can't really see what I'm talking about in this photo, just mentally remove the Captain D's logo on the gable and replace it with a big blue bow.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Hands Off

Avoiding Kids

When I was younger, my mom ran a daycare from our home. This was during the mid '70's through the early '80's. When we started keeping the kids, there was no common social paranoia about child molestation.

I can remember when things shifted somewhat though. I don't recall if it was a local or national story, but there was a daycare provider that became the center of a huge scandal in which many of the kids started reporting sexual abuse.
This was in the news for months as more and more children came forth and the couple who ran the daycare were vilified and torn apart by the press.
It turns out later that it's likely that nothing ever happened.

But the damage was done and even in our own daycare, we could sense a shift in public perception. We all became more guarded and careful about our interactions with the children. I was a kid myself, but even I started feeling afraid of being accused of something untoward.
And you know, I still carry a bit of that paranoia with me.

I hate that, like with everything else that was once good, a few bad apples take our society one more notch backward.

I find it really sad that most people are no longer comfortable giving children physical reassurance or helping a distressed or endangered child without fear of their help being seen as inappropriate.

Just a few weeks ago, here in town, a three year old boy was seen wandering down along a busy main road with a dog. And instead of feeling comfortable getting the boy off the road and riding him home, a concerned driver instead, had to put on her hazard lights and drive slowly alongside the boy until the police could get there.

Something similar also happened a few months back, when two extremely young kids were found playing on some train tracks. The driver who found them used his truck to block traffic until the police could arrive, but felt too paranoid to get out of his car and approach the kids.

So which way will public perception swing when a child ends up getting hurt because of "hands-off" approach?

One memory I have that means a lot to me to this day is that of my fourth grade teacher holding me on her lap while I sobbed about a problem I was having. At that moment I needed to be listened to and cared for by someone to which I looked up and respected. I'd hate to think that doesn't happen anymore.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Too Much NPR

Most mornings when I wake up, I say to myself what day of the week it is, so that I can get my head oriented.

On Thursdays however, it goes something like this:

"Today is Thursday; the day we read from your letters."

Too much Bravo TV

Ever get a word stuck in your head and you have no idea what it means?

I've had "mascarpone" floating around for a few days. I think it has something to do with food.

Ok..just is a very soft italian cheese.

Good to know.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fun October Release

This book looks like a load of fun.
We come across hilarious titles and odd cover art all the time at my job.
I've actually had the Scouts book before.
I'm surprised no one has put them together until now.

Amazon Link

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Saying a proper goodbye

A friend of mine just had his aged dog put down today. Very emotional. I can't even imagine how I'll get through that when the time comes for my dogs to go.

But the news reminded me of an issue over which I've been conflicted for like three or four years now.

I used to be close friends with a girl a few years back and during the course of our friendship, her dog grew ill and had to be put down.
I stood by her during the downhill slide and was with her and her dog on the fateful day.

My friend gave me a ziploc bagful of the dog's ashes to dispose of in my own personal way and at the time I pictured the ashes going in my garden or at the base of a tree or something.
I put it off, wanting just the perfect thing and during the time I put it off, my friend and I fell out.

So fast-forward to three years later and I still have this bag of beloved doggie ashes and I haven't spoken to said friend in the time that has passed.

What do I do?

I harbor absolutely no ill feelings for my ex-friend. I liked her.
I liked her dog too.
I feel honored that I have some ashes and that I was there physically and emotionally for the final moments.

But what do I do?

It's too late and too weird to send the ashes back to her. Plus I don't even know where I would mail them to.
I might move from this house in a year or so, so anything I do here would be, in my opinion, a sort of waste. Plus the dog never had any significant memories in my yard.

I'm thinking I might go over to to her old apartment complex and shake them out on the lawn.

That sounds ok.

I just want rid of this responsibility and these remains. I want to honor the dog and put this chapter to rest.

P.S. My husband is supremely unsympathetic and atheistic and says so what? He probably has a point.
I maintain that a bit of decorum is required.

Well Look at Me

After two years at this, I finally stumbled onto the page here where you can add links.
What a relief.

Looks like a few of them don't work, so I'll tinker some more later.

Monday, September 03, 2007

I think of a few of my favorite things.....

I think easily, hands down, my favorite smell is that of a camp-fire/bon-fire/wood fueled fire.

It instantly transports me to a feeling of "damn, ok, stop, drop and relax".

I love it when some of my customers approach the counter and their thick woolen overshirts smell of woodsmoke. I always comment to the positive.

I have been lucky enough to find an incense that does a good job of capturing that wonderful scent:

This incense is awesome.

Some of the local asian markets carry it, but I've had better luck ordering it online.


Good advice you can't buy

Hey guess what?

Among the other things that ants like to eat, apparently record albums/sleeves are also included.

I just had to extricate and fumigate a whole boxload of ant-compromised albums today.

With larvae.


That is all.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I really want to know

Ok, here's a question that's been at my brain for a long time now.
You know there are "dorks" right? I'm picturing the comic book/Star Trek/Star Wars variety, but then you also have the extremely smart/socially awkward/pocket-protector group.
And there's a shared "differentness" about these folks. Different things fire up their funny bone, influence their fashion sense, peak their interest.
So my question is basically, when did the "dork" appear in society?
Were there cave man dorks? Dorks in ancient Rome? Medieval dorks? And if so, what role did they play in society? What jobs were they attracted to? Did other cultures create a name for this subset of personality types? Did they wear their togas too short or have mismatched leggings?
How many pre-twentieth-century dorks were simply lumped under the category of eccentric?

Or is the dork a by-product of technology?