Feb 28, 2005

The eye is the window to the spare bedroom

That is, I'm a visual guy--here's the next pic. Amazing what a slap of paint and turning the bed around will do for a room.

Green Vibe, Valspar, satin finish, available at your local Lowe's store, if you're interested. *grin*

Achieved!

And sometimes you and the bear just sort of gnaw on each other until one of you gives up in disgust.

I did things today! *lol*

Remember the list? Well, I managed to:


  • Buy a pair of beard trimming scissors to replace the lost pair, but have not trimmed the facial hair yet, even tho it's been a month now, and I usually trim once a week
  • Clothes are still on the couch, but hanging should occur tonite
  • And no, no washing either, but that should commence shortly
  • Bought the paint, gonna start as soon as I stop blogging
  • Made some GORGEOUS trim pieces for the bookcase*
  • Planer was VERY expensive, even with coupon, so I settled on an air compressor
  • Didn't have time to wash the truck, but it rained yesterday.
  • Same with the bike
  • No Swiffering nor sweeping, but I did kick the dust around some
  • Still haven't invented a better written sound for a whip
  • Nope, office still yucky
  • No limbs picked up, but I did SEE the yard a few times
  • YES! Dining room is SPOTLESS! And managed to move two troublesome bits of furniture into there
  • Okay, so I felt pity for the rats. Okay, so I had no TIME to bring peanut butter to the rats
  • Worked on the Dada Tea Service a bit, changed the cups a mite
  • Need to email Justynn about Cornucopia still. Also need a vision
  • Didn't get to ship the brain, but I've got a few likely candidates
  • Didn't sweep the garage because the wind was blowing so hard it was tossing pine cones around
  • Can't afford to get the bike in the shop
  • And can't afford to get the truck in the shop either


Damn, it seems like I did very little. Sheesh.

I did also manage to buy some books, which was not on the list per se, but is a constant in my life. And I tackled cutting my own fluted columns today, successfully, which for me is a wonderful feeling. See the pics for proof, and see my almost finished bookcase which is, strangely enough, already gathering books and videos. So stop holding me up already, I need to start a load of laundry, hang some clothes up, and make the house stink of latex paint for yet another evening of headachey fun!

--------------
*Da pics!

Sized just right for paperbacks, and it matches the room's colours nicely, just like the walnut didn't.

Check out that fluting! Granted, paint still needs to go on, as does the roundover on the front of the shelves and the crown moulding, but that comes when I have cash again.

Get an eyefull of that fluting: sweet! And all cut by moi out of a pair of 6' long pieces of white pine stock. Thin enough to blend with the base, thick enough to be seen easily, and the routing is allmost all straight, too! Damn, whatta guy.

Sometimes the bear bites you

Sometimes you bite the bear.

Or so I'm told. I've never been bitten by a bear, nor have I ever had my mouth anywhere near a bear, tho I did mistakenly marry a Goat once. I'm having one of those days. You know the kind, the sort of day where you just can't quite get pointed in the right direction, when the tasks (numerous) of the day (short) seem to all be jostling for position but noone seems willing to step up and be first in line so all you have is a jumble of things needing to be done.

Lessee--thus far I have the following:


  • Buy a pair of beard trimming scissors to replace the lost pair
  • Finish hanging up the clothes
  • Finish washing the clothes from last night
  • Buy a pint of paint to finish the bookcase, then fill
  • Make some trim pieces for the bookcase so it ain't ugly no mo
  • Price a planer because I have some money saved and a coupon
  • Wash the truck
  • Wash the bike
  • Sweep the house, and Swiffer it good *whoosh-POP*
  • Invent a better written sound for a whip
  • Clean the office, and dust
  • Pick up all the limbs and sticks out of the yard
  • Clean out the dining room from the move--boxes still remain
  • Set more traps for the shop rats
  • Work on (if not complete) the Dada Tea Service
  • Get with Justynn on "Cornucopia" and my vision for it's new direction
  • Ship a human brain
  • Sweep the garage
  • Get the bike in the shop to see why it's burning oil
  • Get the truck in the shop to get it's carb readjusted


The problem being, I could sit here all day and keep adding things to the list, but it wouldn't help get the above list worked on, so let's secure that line of inquiry.

So you see my dilemna. I think at this point I'm going to sit here and be cold more. No, since it's still down around Brutal degrees outside I think I might tackle a few of the inside things, then work my way slowly outside--sweep the garage first as a sort of warm up (literally) so that I can go from there to the shop, where it stays about ten degrees colder than everywhere else in winter, and only a few degrees colder in the summer.

In case you were wondering how to ship a human brain, here's how.

Feb 27, 2005

Ya great numpty

I think I may have mentioned this before, but I read only a few blogs in addition to my own. *grin* I find most people's meanderings rather unattractive, and politics holds no interest for me. I know this is a hard thing for me to be saying, as I have my own tail hanging out in the wind for people to view and comment on, but hey--I do this because I have to, not because I am seeking approval or pay.

What got me wound up is this--one of the few blogs I was reading has wandered off it's usual 'course,' and while I rarely if ever read the comments sections on other folk's blogs I happened to notice a surprising number of comments on a 'new' post, so I followed up on them, and was astounded to see at least half of the comments were telling the authoress that the last two posts were boring, worthless, and otherwise lacking in worth.

Uhm...people, are you PAYING her to write? Did you go to paypal, type her email in and send money to support her efforts? Did you commission her to write something for you? No.

Here's a news flash--no one owes you anything. Life does not owe you an easy time, and just because you read someone's blog who tends to write about sex from a professional's standpoint does NOT mean that she has to post about that every time, she does NOT have to titillate you, forgive the pun, and she does NOT have to perform for you. She writes well, she writes intelligently, which is more than I can say for 95% of the blogs I have browsed since I took up this little hobby of mine, and damn, she's just as much a person as you or I. She has moods, she has her own Muse that she follows, and just because she does not want to write about her latest John does not give you a right to bark.

*pant pant*

I get carried away. I do. I dislike freeloaders, and dislike people who feel that they've been let down by life because life didn't give them what they wanted when they wanted it. My stars and garters, get a life, people. This is not Burger King, you will not get it your way when you ask.

So! Enough ranting.

I have been painting today. I would prefer to tell you that I have been painting on a canvas, either a new creation or an old one being finished, but it's not to be. I have been painting a bookcase.

Actually I started painting a wall, a tremendous wall, a wall that reached up to...well, the ceiling, but the ceiling was a good 25' away. My current job suckered me this morning. We had a store meeting at 6 am, and yes, on a Sunday morning, which did not sit well with me, but for now I'm a good old Irrelephant and follow the rules, but what irked me was that those of us who were loyal to the job showed up for a ten minute meeting and then were sent to the front to clean, clean, clean.

Poorly played, management. Very poor form indeed. Punishing the faithful is not the way to win employee loyalty.

And so Irrelephant, being loyal and not particularly bright just took the bit in his trunk and started what I do best--paint. I painted from 6:20 am until almost noon, two coats of generic white, dispensed from a great big 5 gallon industrial can, rolled and rolled and rolled this gunk across the entire 40' length and 25' height, then back again. I stood on the ground, stood on a ladder, and finally had to stand on a ladder with an extension pole attached to the roller frame to get the highest point, but I finished it.

So what did I do after?

Came home and started painting again.

Yeah, I'm quite the numpty too, aren't I.

See, I like books. A lot. And I've got a few paperbacks. Okay, a lot. Big teetering stacks of them. Dangerous stacks of them. Silverfish have wet dreams over these heaped stacks of paperbacks. And at the old house I had a bookcase I build specifically for paperbacks--shallow depth, short shelves, and a lot of them. I brought this bookshelf to the new house, but never really used it because while a dark mahogany finish fit fine at the old room (oak paneling) it does not fit the new house (mostly light to medium basic colours.) So, the stain being oil-based, the only answer was to Kilz it, then paint it to match the room it's in now.

The Kilz went on two evenings before, and the house stank of paint. I started in this afternoon on it again, got about half-way through before my arm threatened to fall off, and the house stinks of paint.

Why not paint it outside, I hear you shout. This is Louisiana, people. When it rains, it's humid. When it doesn't rain, it's humid. When it's the middle of summer and dogs are hiding under every porch and truck, it's humid. Latex paint takes about a day to dry outside, oil-based stains and paints take about a week. Most paint can grow mold here before it dries, if it's outside. I have seen painted surfaces on houses here turn from "Seafoam Green Exterior" to "Mold" overnight. I have seen people fall asleep in public places and awaken the next morning to find themselves suddenly fuzzy dark green all over with mildew. I have seen whole buildings abandoned to the insistent attack of mushrooms.

People, it's damp here.

So I paint inside.

Mind you, I'm not complaining. I'm just tired. My arms hurt. My back hurts, my feet hurt, I hurt. So what do I do? Sit down, and type. My fingers hurt now.

BUT I DO IT ALL FOR YOU!!

Feb 25, 2005

Man Ray he ain't

Having been a celluloid and f-stop sort of photographer for years, I find it interesting and repulsive that I own a digital camera.

See, it's like this--my eldest daughter had an interest in photography while she was getting thru the landmines and grief of college, and while I had always snapped pictures as a child on up, I never got seriously into photography. At the time I could have had the money to invest in a good camera and go that route I was learning to paint, and the camera never took off for me until years and years later, watching the daughter fiddle around with hers, and going with her on what we called "photo safaris." We never found any big game, rhinos and such being rare in the Mississippi Delta, but we did take pictures of old buildings, abandoned machinery, bridges, you name it. And that planted the seed.

I bought a brand new Ricoh manual from my local camera shop, fully manual, because that was what I could afford at the time, and for what puttering around I do it's plenty good. A few filters, an ugly strap, and I was in business. Hundreds of rolls of film later I count myself as a neophyte still, but I really genuinely enjoy a good sunny day and a stroll around with the camera.

Along came the digital revolution, and me being the sort of atavistic knee-jerk reactionary that I am, I declared all digital cameras as complete bunk, decried them for having poor resolution and inadequate prints, and so forth and so on. Having fulfilled my instincts to downgrade anything new, I returned to my manual camera and my fedora. Well, nothing is perfect. Loki stepped in, and chance happened along, and I bought a little Nikkon 2.something megapixel digital from work for about $25.

And I like it.

The thing that has sucked me in is it's sheer disposability factor, which is good and bad. I can snap hundreds of pictures on it and never use a single square inch of film, and if I wish I can delete them all off just as easily. I can snap without guilt, because as a struggling middle-class artist I cannot afford to go through paints and canvases like a fool, nor can I afford to buy dozens and dozens of rolls of film to simply snap away. With my manual camera I have always been acutely aware of the need to 'get it right the first time, every time,' and I think that reflects in my photographs. You can tell that I have put thought into the f-stop, the film speed, lighting, framing, interplay of the design elements, the whole thing. I want a fully-produced well-designed photograph when I push that button, because I know I can't go into the computer and edit it.

My digital pics however show that sort of neophyte abandon that characterises so many people's holiday snaps and etc. I take pictures of fog, the cats, the fish, my truck, the kitchen before, during, and after a floor recovering, whatever and whenever the need to record a moment strikes me. And they reflect that instant gratification--most often poorly framed, blurred, ill-lit, you name it, they suffer from it. And they've been edited, too. Cropped, cut, adjusted, rotated, colourised, whatever I can do to it has likely been done, so it's not at all the picture I first took. It's cheating.

So I accept that there is good and bad in the digital revolution. I love the point-and-shoot ease and speed of my little cheapie Nikkon digital, and I like the fact that I can take dozens of pictures of my cats standing around in the office window talking to Dannon outside, but I understand the fact that the rest of me knows that I'm not taking 'real' pictures. And I would never dream of taking important pictures with it, both because of the poor resolution and the fact that the prints will not be as good nor as long lasting as the for-real-deal on Fuji paper from the developers. I know equally that if i wanted to I could go out with a credit card and purchase an 8 or 9mp Nikkon that would be top end professional grade, would cost me about 2 grand, and take pictures probably better than my Ricoh, but that impact would still be there--point and shoot and point and shoot and shoot, shoot, shoot, then throw away the images.

Pfui.

What scares me the most is that one of my major excuses for not using digital was that you could not do black and white with a digital, but now you can. What excites me most is that digital black and white still SUX. *lol* Manual rules! Long live manual!

So. Having said all that, I'm going to go write something with my fountain pen now, maybe wear my fedora while I do so, smoke a pipe the whole time, then take the whole shebang on the road in my antique truck.

Feb 24, 2005

One for me, one for thee, and one for the pot.

Honest, I was going to blog this morning about religion and hypocrisy, just as I was going to do for the past few mornings, but I'm going to put that one off one more day.

This morning's subject? Tea.

I've never been there, but I have it from pretty reliable folks that England is, in fact, a real place, and that these people who call themselves "Brittons" or "the British" enjoy a cup of hot tea. A lot.

I'm told that for most people in "Brittain" the very act of making tea, what they call "brewing up" has an immensely calming effect.

"Lost the entire farm, luv? Put on the tea."

"Wot, the Mongols are burning and pillaging the streets of Lancaster atop Shetland Ponies? Brew up."

"'Ows that then, Timmy fell down a well? Down at Old Farmer Maggot's field? Lassie! There's a good girl--Put the kettle on."

"Admiral, we're sinking fast and you're leg's been shot off!"
"Is the tea on?"

I can see the attraction of ritual in tea making. Heck, Stevie Wonder could see that. One of my favourite things in the house is a 6 cup Brown Betty teapot, which I picked up years ago while I was not in England. For years now, and granted less often than I used to, but for years now I have carefully filled the kettle with cool water, brought it to boiling, warmed the pot, carefully sifted in loose tea leaves or used the *gasp choke* far less cool tea bags, and poured hot water on. Waited a few minutes, and had heaven in a cuppa.

The thing that makes it ritual is this--it's always the same process. Rather like smoking a pipe, my other favourite pasttime, you always do the same steps in the same order, and it always rewards you. Any deviation and you've shot the entire thing to hell. Simplicity, continuity, reward. Heating water in the kettle, filling the pot with hot water to help it keep the boiling water hotter longer, sifting in the tea ("one for me, one for thee, and one for the pot,") waiting at least three but no more than 5 minutes while it steeps, it's all simple steps to a reward.

I have watched my wife make tea in the mornings; bleary-eyed and slow, she's not a morning person, but she always brews with that particular brand of careful attention and consideration that marks important ritual.

I have watched my mother-in-law make my favourite Chai tea for me, seen her moving around with the casual indifference that marks someone at home in their kitchen, but still she is performing each step with care and love.

I have even watched my syster make tea in a house filled with screaming children, barking dogs, football commentators yelling in the background, husband playing computer games at full volume in the next room, and somehow there seems to be a quiet area around her, the Tea Maker, a place where the water is less turbulent, where the noise is suppressed, and the simple steps of making a pot of tea, steps as old as civilisation's, carry us quietly onwards.

Thank your lucky stars for it, and brew up today. Think of me while you do.

Feb 23, 2005

Lost in translation

Wow...*lol* Someone who shall remain nameless (but who is not French!) wrote me a comment in French concerning the cats, Pouch, and the lack of me feeding them Pouch forever plus a few days.

I stuck the French phrase into the Google translator, my Babelfish being broken, and it came up with this enticing bit of frippery:

"You cannot neglect us forever, a day you will give the Pocket to all good pussies! The revolution of Pocket will make it if! Long Life the Pocket!"

I leave it to you the students to determine what exactly the francophile was trying to tell me, as an exercise in surrealism.

Through a chocolate darkly

The problem with having relationships is that they find out your weaknesses rather pathetically easy. That is, if you're me.

See, I like dark chocolate. A lot. And, foolishly, I outed myself last night with my post about Godiva's treat. No worries, my syster and wife already knew this from about three dozen years ago, so it wasn't news to them in any way. They both know that the easiest way to make me do something utterly foolish (like have another birthday, or clean the house) is to dangle a Hershey's Special Dark bar in front of my face and I turn into a gibbering idiot, much like most other men do when presented with a bare breast.

So a few nights ago, my Significant Other decided to make a different desert. When she cooks she COOKS, and always finishes the meal off with a desert. Sometimes lemon bars, sometimes a cake or brownies, but always something tasty and sweet. This time she went too far--she found my other secret vice.

Rice Krispie Treats.

Yes, those ubiquitous crunchy sticky squares. Those pale little lightweights. I am utterly enthralled by them. Show me a beautiful pair of legs and a pile of Rice Krispie Treats and you're gonna get to watch my head explode, because I'm gonna have an awfully difficult time knowing where to look. Offer me a pan of warm RKT's and hand me the keys to a Yugo, and I'll be puttering to work inside a pregnant skateboard. Point out a huge fat man on top of a haybale in a field, show me the dangerously aggressive bull in the field with him, then show me the Treats and I'm gonna be carrying that fat barstard back to his New York brownstone on my back.

It's sad, to have an addiction this bad. But it's genetic--I got it from my grandfather, whom I never called "Old Gaffer." My PawPaw over in Mississippi was a fiend for RKTs, and being not only an Old Southern Man, a country boy heart-and-soul AND a pastor of a tiny Primitive Baptist Church, he had a certain reserve, a deep respectability that he wore like a comfortable old suit, but RKTs...good lawd. He'd walk a thousand miles to eat one. And I'd have been right there behind him, slavering.

So, I'm not to blame.

Feb 22, 2005

My jittery stars and garters--

I just had a 20 oz tumbler of my patent-pending 24-hour brewed, high sugar content iced tea, and then foolishly followed it with a chunk of Godiva (72% pure cocoa) dark chocolate.

I can't hold my hands still anymore. My eyes are vibrating in their sockets (G sharp.) I feel like I'm doing about 70 mph just sitting here.

Sweet!

Through an office supply store darkly

There comes a certain quality of life change when you realise that you do not, cannot, will not care anymore.

My employer, like many others, has a "zero tolerance" policy toward sexual harassment, discrimination, and unethical behaviour. Unfortunately for Corporate Office, the district manager here is running a Good Ole Boy Club. One of our assistant managers was caught, literally walked up on while he was in the store manager's office, surfing pornography on the internet. Earlier that week he had been caught printing out material gleaned from the internet, describing "How To Please Your Woman." He had forgotten it on the colour laser printer that we print store signs on.

I personally witnessed him harassing the other assistant manger, a woman, telling her she was too old to work in retail and that this was not a place for a woman. All this was reported to the district manager, from multiple sources, both in interviews and by written statements. The district manager did nothing. Wait, scratch that--he gave BOTH of them a write-up, because they fight all the time.

Today, quite by accident, I found out that the assistant manager in question has been personally altering his timecard 'punches' to make his late entries into work dissapear, and to make his shifts seem longer.

Did I tell anyone?

Yes.

Do I think anything is going to be done about it?

No.

Zero tolerance my ass. Corporate America needs to get off it's suited ass and take a look at what happens down around it's feet, or is it too tall to see that far anymore?


Oh, and I hear through the rumour mill that a certain reader of this blog (yes, YOU) likes it a lot when I talk about Pouch. I can't help it, that's how I've been conditioned to think of it. Pouch. Not "the pouch," not "catfood in a pouch," not even "that damnably wasteful seriously expensive pouch food that they don't need because that freaking dry food is plenty good and expensive enough." Just Pouch. Pouch: It's the real thing. Have Pouch and a smile. Pouch--can't stop the feeling.

Same as the cats, I've been conditioned (does the name "Pavlov" ring a bell?,) except that I don't eat it, I just ignore the fact that it transpires in my house every morning upon the wife's awakening. It's not my fault that the cats either don't bother to tell us apart or think that one day, One Magical Day, Daddy is going to reach up in the Magic Cupboard and produce (perhaps with a flourish) Pouch for all the good kitties.

Not gonna happen.

Nope, not gonna Pouch the cats. No Pouch for kitties from Daddy. Nopey no. Unh-uh. Nada. Zilch. Nil Pouch. Pouch over.

Feb 21, 2005

In the interest

of offending a lot of people at one go (one more reason I blog) and to celebrate my syster's birthday by annoying her with blonde jokes, which I almost guarantee will result in painful retailation when I least expect it, I give you:

Some blonde jokes.

Q: Why did the blonde have tire tread marks on her back?
A: From crawling across the street when the sign said "DON'T WALK".

Q: How do you make a blonde's eyes twinkle?
A: Shine a flashlight in their ear.

Q: Did you hear about the blonde coyote?
A: Got stuck in a trap, chewed off three legs and was still stuck.

Q: Why did the blonde freeze to death in her car?
A: She went to the drive-in theater to see "Closed For The Winter."

Raison d'blogging

One day I will learn to copy everything I write to my blog before I lose it by a fumble-fingered keystroke.

One day I will learn to copy everything I write to my blog before I lose it by a fumble-fingered keystroke.

One day I will learn to copy everything I write to my blog before I lose it by a fumble-fingered keystroke.

One day I will learn to copy everything I write to my blog before I lose it by a fumble-fingered keystroke.

I just spent half an hour writing a nice big phat post for you guys, because I know tomorrow morning I will be up at 4:30 (that's the am, mind you) to be at work for Oh my god it's early, and so blogging will be rather low on Irrelephant's Big And Often Ignored List Of Things To Do, right above Get Hit By A Beer Truck and Have My Head Rammed Up My Arse By A Masochist.

Fortunately for me these lists never get done much past the top three or so.

So I had sat here for half an hour, listening to my wife putter in the kitchen, the sound of Bram Stoker's Dracula wafting in through the open door, and poured my irrelephantly little heart out, expounding five reason (okay, only three) why people (meaning I) blog. I had even started out with a clever little intro saying that I was no more French than French Fries (or was it shoestring potatoes?) and the whole mass of it was lost when I hit the ctrl key and something, some hot key or other that I knew nothing about, desired not, and most definitely did not want to be catapulted forward on the web to somewhere else, thereby snuffing out that whole post.

So I either start over, or go off in another direction.

I'm also for damned sure going to get myself in the habit of often Ctrl C'ing everything every few minutes, because as temporary and ephemeral blogging is, hitting a strange key makes it even more tenuous.

Yup, it's definitely gone. I checked in another window, hoping that somehow miraculously the hotkey I pressed had somehow saved and uploaded the post rather than just rearranging some phosphor dots and such, but it was not to be.

Ah well. 'Tis not to be. I'm not gonna sit here and rehash it all, I'm just gonna let it stew a little while longer. It stooed all day, one more day ain't gonna hurt none. Sorry about that.

And before I forget--I don't believe in the afterlife, think Gawd is a crashing bore, and I was never a big fan, but the wife was, and so I wish Hunter S. Thompson a swift and sure journey to wherever he has taken himself.

And because I was a complete dolt and forgot it on the day I most needed NOT to forget it, a huge humongous Happy Birthday to MY SYSTER!, who is still on the bloody island, and apparently swallowed a bug today. She didn't tell me if it was a good bug or a bad bug, or if it tickled on the way down, or if she's gonna swallow a spider to catch the bug, and a bird to catch the spider, and a cat to catch the bird and a dog to catch the cat and a redneck hunter to shoot the dog thinking it was a deer with very small and droopy antlers and a strangely long tail but there you are, she swallowed a bug.

So I'm told.

Feb 20, 2005

Off my nut

I spent the day cleaning like a huge rogue bull Irrelephant.

Spurned on by the encroaching years, I have become more and more anal retentive. Where I used to be able to live in a veritable pile of my own filth, old clothing, discarded food wrappers and peanut shells I now find myself unable to function if my tools are out of order in my shop. The sight of a missing 9mm socket wrench from the carefully ordered (ascending by size, metric first then SAE) rows of wrenches is enough to make me race off to Sears to buy a replacement wrench. And it's a good excuse to put a downpayment on that air compressor I've been wanting.

So today, almost a year into my moving into my ancestral home, I tackled Cleaning The Garage.

The Garage is a nice, roomy two-bay sort, no doors, which I have alluded to earlier with my constant sweeping-out, and has a very spacious upper bit, which is reached currently by standing in the bed of my truck and reaching up through the open rafters. It also had about 35 years worth of accumulated leaves, spiders, tools, bits and pieces of unknowable things, and cat urine. I realised it was time for me to clean it out when I backed into my parking space night before last and hit a paint tray full of painting tools that I hadn't put away, and almost backed into an as of yet uncompleted painting that has been following me around for the past 12 years now.

So, emboldened by...well, I don't know what, but emboldened, I started into it yesterday evening. I decided that if I started late in the evening then I certainly couldn't blame myself if I had to stop because it got dark. Armed with my new excuse, I started on the farthest right edge of the wall, right by the driveway, on the side I park and get out on. I cleaned for about ten minutes, moved some old truck bits over to another side and told myself sternly that I had to put these things in the shop in a clear placed delineated as "Truck Parts Place," and stopped.

I had nightmares all night, ala "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," in which giant mounds of leaves and mould with spiders riding on top marched in and out of my garage, so this morning I went in there, rolled my sleeves up, changed into shorts (yes, it's already shorts weather here in balmy LA) and launched into it.

Would you believe I was done in just under 6 hours? Completely. Utterly. Bare walls (except for the inexplicable mass of Japanese ladybugs high on the wall) and bare, leaf-free swept floors and big sheets of old sheetrock under my dear Rita so her oil leaks won't fall on the concrete, and I even managed to find places for all the once-yearly things like my mother's plastic Xmas tree in it's four giant Rubbermaid storage bins and the camping equipment up in those rafters, carefully set on thick sheets of plywood so not only would they not fall but set near enough the edges that a glance upwards will tell me where everything is stowed.

One of the pitfalls of home ownership for me now is that once I've started something, I want to see it to completion, and completion for me and that garage is now plywood on top of the rafters covering most all of the garage, so I can store heat-resistant things up there, ala an attic (we have one, but it's too dark, hot, and cramped) and then very thin plywood on the bottom of the rafters to give it a nice finished look, then double garage doors to keep the leaves and birds out, and then of course you have to have huge banks of 8' flourescent lights to make the place lovely and well lit...

I have to go lie down now.

Feb 19, 2005

Ole Blue Revisited

Well, after a close inspection and using a less than gentle method to haul Ole Blue off her trailer the brother and I have managed to get her to her temporary home.

See, B. had about a thousand extra Mustang wheels and tires lying around the place, as well as the ones that "Doug" made us take, so we found a pair that would hold air and a pair of lugnuts each and stuck them on the back wheels, which in retrospect made no sense, as the rear gears were locked up. For that matter, she had been resting on her drums (rear) and rotors (front) directly on the ground, so it was less than beautiful, and rusted a bit, but we managed to get the rims secured, with enough WD-40 to float a PT boat and a few strained arm muscles.

And yes, the rear end gears were locked up. For a while. *guilty grin* You see, pulling her backwards with the wheels trying to get a grip on those ramps seems to have finally freed up that last remaining bit of rust. Either that or the gears are now powdered, which I don't think is the case, because I didn't hear any grindings or crashings from back there.

Well, the tractor made short work of dragging Ole' Blue off the trailer, uhm, rather violently, because the ramps slipped at the last second and it removed a fair bit of the already destroyed floor pans, but she did made it to the ground, and then we made a very slow, painstaking trip across the yard, hoping like the deevil that Ole Blue wouldn't take a nosedive, which fortunately she didn't.

We dragged her to the back and put her out to pasture, after removing her second door and setting her up on some concrete blocks. I have never felt so redneck in my LIFE. The thing that most helped me get over this feeling is the sure and certain knowledge that we will take off all the bits we need, eBay all the bits and pieces that we can possibly make a buck on, and then the remainders will be RE-loaded onto the trailer and sold for scrap metal. And then there's another one to bring home, the one stuck over at the body shop being cut to bits for cowling pieces, that one is gonna have to be cherry-picked, but Ole Blue 2, she's gonna be restored, we've decided. There's enough good metal on her to make it well worthwhile, and so it's a done deal--Mustang Restoration #3, this one yours truly is going to be fairly deeply involved.

The one drawback with this one? The engine is a little tired.

Feb 17, 2005

Pony Aide

For years now, my brother has been big into Mustang Rescue. He goes out across the state, watching carefully in fields, barns, or wherever he might find an old, unloved or abused Mustang, and he does his level best to find the owner, with the intention of convincing the neglectful or abusive owner that he (my brother) can take better care of the Mustang than the owner can, and that they either need to give over or sell the target of abuse or neglect. This often works, and he has in the past rescued several of these beautiful creatures and rehabilitated them back to condition.

Yesterday evening my brother asked me if I would go with him to Oakdale, about an hour's drive from here, so that I could help him rescue another Mustang, and that he really needed the help. I agreed, helped him hook up the trailer, and we headed out. We met an intermediary at a local gas station, who had offered to take us to the location. He called himself "Doug," tho I doubt that is his real name, and he DID lead us on quite a chase through the local countryside, but burdened as we were with the trailer we finally caught up with him at a cattle gap leading into the woods. We followed him from there down a very rutted and muddy path into a pasture, inhabited by a pair of old abandoned boats, a burned-out mobile home, and this poor, starved for attention, wretched creature.

Be warned, the pictures are a bit graphic, and if you are faint of heart or of gentle disposition I warn you now that you might be shocked by what you see.

This is how I first saw the poor thing, deep in some thorn brush on it's belly, it's blind eyes turned toward us. So poor was her condition that she didn't even have feet to stand on; what you see here is prosthetics that we were forced to fit her with to help her onto the trailer, and it was simply easier and more humane to leave them on for the duration of her stay.

My brother backed the trailer in, and with the help of "Doug," an electric winch, some clever work with a jack, some lengths of wood and a clever set of prosthetics assembled out of a pair of 7' long, 2" thick steel poles we managed to lever her front onto the trailer.

The difficult part was, naturally, getting her lame back end up onto the trailer, as the makeshift prostheses, no matter how clever, kept slipping. We ended up contriving a pair of skids out of 4" x 4" boards and sort of dragged her up by sheer force, with a bit of pushing and shoving to make sure she went onto the trailer straight.

I had a bad moment when I realised that her hide was scarred with bullet holes from 'sportsmen' and bored big game hunters out for a good time, with no consideration for the feelings of others, but then I saw that they were, if nothing else, fairly old, and were nothing more now than faded scars.

While we were preparing to carry her back to her new home I, being an old hand at losing things off trailers on the road, took a detailed safety walk around the trailer and it's precious cargo as best I could in the middle of the night with a bitter north wind blowing through my flesh. I was going to secure her side (her flank on the other side already being missing) when I brushed up against her and to my horror it fell off. I was deeply chagrined, but my brother simply patted me on the shoulder and suggested I place it inside her otherwise hollowed-out body cavity. Apparently he's seen this sort of thing before, and I was just not hardened enough for it.

After a good look-over this morning in the bright sunshine, my brother decided that this poor sweet creature was too far gone, and would instead become a donor to another rescue pony of his, one in better condition and better able to make use of the life-giving donor pieces that the Mustang we had taken to calling "Old Blue" could give.

Here we see my brother checking carefully to make sure that the recipient is ready to accept important bits and pieces, such as vent windows and a cowling from Old Blue.

Please, I beg of you--after seeing these pictures don't harden your heart. Do what you can, support anyone you know in the Rescue and Restoration field, no matter if they're working with Thunderbirds, Mustangs, Barracudas, Pintos, Cougars or Broncos. No matter the field, no matter the model, and no matter the extent of the neglect, please give generously of your time and your understanding.

Thank you

Feb 16, 2005

Nevermind,

it seems that my lost post seems to have returned from the inky farthest reaches of cyberspace.

Hmmm. Go figure.

Cox still sux.

Blarst!

There are times when I want to toss this thing through the window.

My computer, that is. Or perhaps I should be tempted to toss my ISP, Cox Communications through the window, which should be quite a bit of doing, but well worth it for the noise and the expressions on the employee's faces. Especially the ones in the breakroom and restrooms.

I had run up a nice big post for today, discussing Westminster's winner last night, amazingly enough NOT a tiny fluff faux-dog but an honest-to-Dog hun'nen dawg, as the neighbors are wont to say around here. The German Short-Haired Pointer won Best In Show last night, perhaps toppling forever the reign of small purse dogs forever! (Last year the winner was a huge, beautiful Newfoundland.)

Anyhoo.

I had done up a big ole post talking about MY German Short-Haired Pointer, Scooter, from when I was about 10 or so, about what a wonderful piece of work he was, and how hardy and intelligent and etc., and then Blogger and their Pyramid scheme crashed around my ears and lost my post.

Barstards!

So now I'm going to go up on the roof and...well, sweep pine straw off, actually. And maybe post later.

It's a good thing

that a real dog won Westminster last night. I was about ready to write a very stern letter to those people, telling them that little piles of fluff are not, in fact, real dogs. Big dogs, with long legs and tails and a distinct lack of fourty inches of silk hair that has to be shampooed twice a day and brushed with a velvet cloth is NOT a dog. It's a charm pulled off a bracelet and hung on a leash. It's something a lady finds in her purse while rooting for a hankie. Dogs are meant to crash around in the woods and slobber on the front seat of your truck and jump on your good clothes while they're all covered in mud.

Carlee, a German Short-haired Pointer won Best In Show last night, and be damned it's about time a for-real dog won top honors. Granted, last year a Newfoundland, "Josh" I think was his name-o, won, which was cool, too. Great big ole' black dog, all covered in slobber, thick tail designed to knock over lamps and precious dishes, the whole nine yards. Year before that it was a powderpuff dog, some kind of a silly terrier, and the year beore it was a powderpuff, and the year before, etc.

And damnit, a dog from the Hound group hasn't won in something like forty years--what gives?

When I was a weerelephant, my brother and I had a German Short-haired Pointer, named Scooter. Don't ask me, it seemed to make sense at the time. I swear to you, and I know you've never heard this from a dog owner before, but that dude was SMART. And patient, because I cannot count the number of times we tried to harness him to pull a wagon, or ride on his back, or move him by his tail and ears, or wash him in a #20 galvanised washtub, or do the thousand-and-one things that little boys do to their dogs, and he never bit, never barked a mean thing at us, and never ran off.

He seemed to be able to take an amasing amount of physical damage without ill effect, too--my uncle was clearing a ravine one afternoon, oh, probably 30 years or so ago, preparing a lot for his new house, and Scooter had been hanging out with him all afternoon, watching for squirrels and rabbits to chase. My dear old pup got too close to a backswing and had the blunt side of an axe planted directly on his skull, at speed. A palm-sized chunk of his brainpan was broken loose from the rest of his skull (in one piece, no less) and sunk down about a quarter of an inch to rest, we assume, on that thin membrane that keeps one's brain nice and moist and free of dust and debris. Debris like pieces of skull. The vet said there was nothing they could do about it, and since he seemed to be suffering no ill effects from it (he was perfectly happy, if a bit lopsided looking in the head department) that he should go on home.

We lived with a caved-in-skull-dog for about six months, and slowly, strangely, the piece of skull began lifting back into place, until it had settled right back where it belonged, and the saga of the lop-headed dog ended, with absolutely no effect on his personality, his lovableness, or his ability to catch and eat slow squirrels, or play with us in the front yard in big piles of pine straw. All I can figure is that the muscles under his scalp finally dragged the errant bit of bone back into place, and it fused right back where it should have been the entire time.

He lived for almost 14 years, and finally one day he decided he was done running, lay down under an old outbuilding of ours where he was wont to sleep in the shade and cool sand in the hot afternoons, and passed away quietly. Since then I've had almost no desire to own a dog. Oh, it's still there, that need for a dog's uncompromising love, but somehow I know that any dog I own now will be lacking, just a little bit.

Feb 15, 2005

What's WRONG with you people!?

Blogging is sort of a contract, see, between you, the blogger, and us, the...uhm...blogee. You have agreed to let us into your life, and we have agreed to read it and not make too much fun of you. The bit I'm having difficulty with is that you haven't updated! Any of you!

See, I read three or four blogs in the am, bits and pieces that interest me for different reasons. One from a favourite author, one from across the Pond for that foreign flair and so I can pick up some British slang, one from my surrogate daughter because it's difficult to keep up with her what with work and fiancee woes and etc., and one from my syster, who blogs about once a year, and my wife's, who blogs about three times a year, so it's no surprise there when I find those two blank, but STILL. Oh, and that SciFi one that posts about seven times a DAY, I read that one, if nothing else to get my blood boiling.

And this morning? Nothing. From anyone. What gives? I offer up my little bite of time each morning while the NASCATS* tear around the house thinking I'm about to feed them Pouch (Pouch is solely the responsibility of the wife, since she started that habit, and enables it.) I mean, I could be using this ten minutes to, oh, do pushups. Or solve differential equations in my head. Or wash clothes. Or folding clothes. But NO, I spend it here, slaving over a hot keyboard, wrecking my vision staring at this blindingly white Phillips 19" monitor, wracking my brains for some little informative or humourous tidbit to offer you, a humble penitent at the alter, hoping not to be crushed by your indifference.

Wow, I've got troubles, don't I?


-------------------
* The wife has already given them their racing names, and is going to sew up some number vests, and is helping them contact their potential sponsors. I just hope their sponsorship stickers are fairly small.

Feb 14, 2005

Top 10'ish books

The only email group I belong to, the only intelligent one in my opinion, prompted me with the following question--what is your top 10 list of books.

Now, it's not a gentleman's place to recommend books, don't think of this as a list you have to go out and fill, it's simply my take on it. And you'll note that it's not ten books, it's more like twenty or so, and the genres move about a lot, and so you see now why I have such a hard time making up my mind about things involving books, and why I cannot throw them away, EVER.

And why all book burners should be put to their own torch.

Kay, and this is in no particular order because I've been thinking about this for three freaking days now and still am not 100% certain:

1.) Dune, Frank Herbert, because it launched a whole new way of writing science fiction, but read back a little into his lesser-known works, like The Jesus Incident and Hellstrom's Hive and you'll find more of the incisive, thoughtful writing that makes Dune such a stunner.

2.) The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett--first of the Discworld books, which are all utterly so funny they make Douglas Adams look like a Math 1001 professor. Again, insights into real people, but dressed with such outlandish comedy that I can read them over and over literally dozens of times and never get tired of them.

3.) The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler--for 30's era pulp crime drama the entire Phillip Marlowe corpus is utterly astounding. Chandler was a singluarly intelligent and well-spoken man. Having read his complete works, as well as selections of the letters he wrote, I stand in utter awe of his style, his panache, and his willingness to take on any obstacle.

4.) The Man Who Sold The Moon, Robert Heinlein--because I cannot name Heinlein's body of work as one, tho I'd like to. Stranger In A Strange Land is earthshatteringly good, Time Enough For Love will break your heart, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is pure sci-fi throughout.

5.) Soldier In The Mist, Gene Wolfe--the man cannot write anything bad. Simple as that. Horror, sci-fi, historical fiction, he can DO IT.

6.) Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, Paul Repps--I used to give this book as a gift for any and all occasions. It's zen koans, the lesson of The Gateless Gate, and much more, presented in a very readable, clear format. My introduction to the life lived Zen, and I don't mean the storebought stuff.

7.) I, Robot, Dr. Isaac Asimov--I could read this book over every day and never get tired of it. CLASSIC Golden Age SciFi. Asimov wrote literally hundreds of books, both pure science, science fiction, education, you name it, he put his mark on it. Such a pure voice, and coming from the Golden Age of Sci Fi, Asmiov's older books have such a ernest longing for things beyond us.

8.) Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury--again, a Master storyteller, anything he lays his hand to is going to be good. I'd read his laundry list. I had read 451 about six years before I had it in high school English lit. This is the most important book of all times, and would be first on any numeric list of importance.

9.) Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle--yeah, the entire Canon. Single story? Gah..."The Final Solution," where Doyle tries to end the Holmes career by letting him plunge to his 'death' with Moriarty over Richenbach Falls, and then is browbeaten by his public into a ressurection. You don't see people making a fuss over Jet Li, now do you.

10.) Mr. Punch, Neil Gaiman--an utterly moving graphic novel. I want to wear the badger head and utter vast truths that I cannot otherwise give voice to. Gaiman's body of work, including his Sandman books and his children's books have such a marvelously scary/impressive vein running through them.

When I wrote this, it was so much harder than I thought. I read authors more so than books, and many of my choices are whole blocks of books. I didn't even have room to mention David Brin, who alternately sucks and is astounding--skip Sundiver, read Slant and Kiln People. VERY hard sci-fi. And I had to leave out Phillip K. Dick, whose entire body of work is so unusual, so out of the ordinary bounds of fiction that they're indescribable. And Kurt Vonnegut, who can make your skin crawl one second and then have you laughing out loud the next. And Madame L'Engle, whose A Wrinkle In Time started me and many thousands on the road. And K. W. Jeter and William Gibson, who are two of the most powerful voices of cyberpunk. And Tolkien. And Kipling, and Poe, and Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, Orwell's 1984, Huxley's Brave New World, Rex Stout's obese gourmand Nero Wolfe, and and and...*lol*

No! Say it ain't so!

Valentine's Day (that'd be today, and yes, it's too late to try and order roses you loser) was originally the Roman feast of Lupercalia, a celebration of fertility. Around the year 270 AD the holiday was Christianized (for whiter whites try Christianity!) and the date changed from February 15 to 14 to commemorate the martyred Saint Valentine. By the late Middle Ages, the modern tradition of exchanging paper love declarations evolved.

So, what they're saying is that the Christian Church went and took yet ANOTHER pagan feast day and made it their own by a little smoke, some mirrors, and a fast sleight of hand. And I thought the Romans were bad.

Feb 12, 2005

Boy am I a loser

I sent a massive bulk email (the thing I hate most in the entire email universe) to everyone I have ever met in my life, telling them that they need to get off their bums and read my blog and then tell everyone else THEY know about my blog so I can get some serious traffic rolling here, and I was bragging something fierce that I was all about posting EVERY SINGLE DAY, WITHOUT FAIL, SOMETIMES TWICE, and so what do I do this morning?

Everything but blog.

Sheesh, you guys just need to form a double line--one for kicking me in the head, one for kicking me in the arse. *lol*

Part of the problem was having to close one night and open the next morning, which is never a nice thing to do to a guy, but our bum ass. manager decided that since I ratted him out about his at-work porn problem he would start making my schedule even worse than it already is, so Friday night I was the only salesman in the building, and everyone seemed to forget that a salesman has to have SOMEONE TO SELL TO!!! and of course a business supplies store does not exactly have a lot of foot traffic in the middle of the night on a Friday.

Rant almost over.

Finished up the night tired, knee blown out, back aching, got home around 10 pm, checked the email (barely, but hey there ARE some things in life that take precedence) and got a swig of iced tea to take the bitter taste out of my mouth (the taste of NOT having a pipe before bed) and then finally crawled into bed around 10:30 to listen to the cats holding what sounded just like a Formula One race around the house.

This morning came way too early, and knowing that it would be cold and no matter what vehicle I took it would take time (Rita takes ten minutes to get that little straight 6 cylinder up to operating temp, and I take ten minutes to get fully suited up for cold weather motorcycle riding,) so I ended up getting up at the absolute LAST second I could manage, had time for a bowl of Foul Flakes and a glance at some iced tea before I headed out to work. And naturally work was on fire this morning, every time I turned around there was an incident that only I could take care of (I thought specialisation was for insects) and so on and so forth until 5 pm. Off, home free, and trying to catch up on the thousand and one things that I need to get caught up with, such as

a) demonstrating basic competence at being a parent
b) washing clothes (this is the Eternal Duty in this house)
c) completing my Nobel Peace Prize Winning recipe for brownies a'la mode
d) changing the litterbox litter

and so forth. See? Important things.

So tomorrow morning I am a painter again at work. I wish I could report that I was working on a huge back-wall spanning mural depicting the Several Greats of the Dada and Surrealist Movements, but it's hard to work on a mural when all you have is ten gallons of Glidden Ceiling Bright White Interior Latex, and the cheap stuff, at that. Damn, it's hard to be creative when all you have is Bright White Interior Latex and an 18" roller brush.

And a blog that you can't seem to get back to.

Feb 11, 2005

River of words

gonna sweep me away...

I just feel spiritual. *lol* Actually, no, I wasn't. I was sitting here thinking about a picture I have of my father being baptised as a very young man, and thinking of the creek that we used to swim in as kids back in Mississippi, and thinking of what I was going to write. That got me to thinking about the PROCESS of writing, at least for me. I was going to use a current (*giggle* damn I love puns,) or maybe I should say "pop culture" reference to Lord of The Rings, and was going to mention Bilbo saying that 'you have to be careful when you leave your front door, because if you don't keep your feet there's no telling where the road will bring you.'

But that's not right, at least in reference to my personal experience of writing. My writing is more like walking beside a river. I spend all day walking beside that cool, dark river, and it's a very dynamic body of water indeed. Sometimes the river is fast, sometimes slow, sometimes it's barely a trickle and all the banks are showing dry and cracked, and the water seems like it's going to be gone forever, and then there are times when it's racing so hard and high that it's dangerous to even be beside it because the banks are threatening to erode and spill river everywhere unchecked.

My difficulty always arises in where I want to get into the river, and where and when to get out of it again.

I have to watch the river carefully, keep an eye open for a small eddy or a little current or just wait for the spirit to move me, then I leap in, more often than not. It's not as much fun to lead gently into it, to wiggle toes in the edge by the rushes and the irises. It's much more fun to take a big running jump at it, hit it full force and start paddling full force.

Pretty good for a guy who can't swim and got over his fear of water in the past few years.

So there I am, leapt into the river, and I start writing. Flow of words like flow of water, I just sort of let out onto the screen what's in that part of the river. Like paddling along in a current, I tend to stay in somewhat the same place, even though the water around me is...how to put it...it's all river, but the river is different bits of water, and the bits keep changing, but it's still all river. It keeps it's essential riverness.

So there I am, swimming along in the river, tossing off inadequate zen koan references, trying to find the bits of river I want to use, and trying to leave behind all the bits that aren't really necessary or desirable. You know those bits; the leaves and branches, the muddy parts, the really dark bit over there that's really still but deceptively deep and gawd only knows what's lurking in the very bottom of it, and damn it's cold over there, so that bit never gets shared but certainly sometime it gets loose of it's pool and into the rest of the river.

You see my difficulty.

So here I am, swimming gamely along, tossing out bits of river to you, trying to make sure that I get just enough river that you don't get tired of drinking it, but wanting to share enough with you that you slake your thirst, at least for a little while. And all the time I'm tossing river out I'm trying to make sure that it's GOOD river. Just like anything else in life there's good river, bad river, and river that's, well, just water. And there's a lot of "just water." Hella lots of "just water." It's neither good nor bad, it's just there, sort of like all those bits of people that don't seem to do much of anything, they're just space filler between organs. So I try to find the bits of river that taste better, or taste bitter and need to be tasted, or taste so sweet that it's best if I only toss out a few sips and move on to something else, because I'm afraid I'll ruin your taste for river water entirely, and you'll move on to a creek, or a ditch, or a diversionary canal or another river, and frankly, I LIKE it when you drink from this river. It makes me feel like I've got something worthwhile, something worth bottling and putting on the market, something that might never blow off the shelves in case packs, but sells slowly and steadily, the flavor that's not the biggest nor the strongest but one which seems to have a little something that makes you want to keep drinking it for the rest of your life.

Okay, I'm climbing out now, need to dry myself off and get to work.

Damn, the bank is slippery.

Feb 10, 2005

I cannot believe

I am alive this early in the morning.

My strange encounter for the day: Yesterday the wife and I had an early dinner/late lunch with a very good friend of mine from the far-away make-believe land of Texas, and we unanimously voted on Chinese food. Now, we have a secret place out here that serves the BEST Chinese food, EVER, and the wait-staff is familiar to us as our own families, so expecting no strangeness, we went to eat.

I could go into excruciating detail, but let's pare this down a bit--our waitress was not only new, she was white. White waitress, Chinese restraunt. Something not adding up. But it gets worse! She's of small size, blonde hair, and very sharp features, and her accent is not from around here, ya'll. We're pondering, while waiting for water and tea, where exactly she blew in from. My vote was way off, (I said Philly) but our Texas companion was right on the money, give or take a few Soviet Socialist countries. We had a Russian mail-order bride (recently divorced) from Saint Petersburg serving us Chinese food in the Deep South.

People, it gets no weirder than that. Pravda, gospodin.

Feb 9, 2005

Tree rat noir

So yesterday I get home from another mind-numbing day at work, and driving into the garage I glance into the back yard to see something I haven't seen out here in a very long time--a black squirrel.

It's not like they're a limited production model or anything, they're not that uncommon, just not out here. We've had squirrels out here ever since there have been trees, and let me tell you that there's been trees out here for the better part of 200 years, so the squirrels likely have more claim on this property than I do. It's just that usually out here we have cat squirrels, the little reddish grey ones, medium size, like to bark at birds, those squirrels. Regular kind. So suddenly out of the blue comes this black behemoth, a good size or so larger than the regular run-of-the-tree rodent, and black as homemade sin. Okay, so he wasn't, there seemed to be a patch of red barely visible to me, at least, on his back right flank, and he wasn't THAT much larger than the other squirrel he was pestering, but it makes for good storytelling if he was gigantic and jet black, inky black, noir in all ways shapes and forms.

It's also good storytelling if he could turn into a cloud of fog, or could speak in riddles that would fortell the fall of empires and the rise of kings, but it was raining, had been raining all day actually so the back yard was full of treacherous mud and big water puddles, and I didn't want to go trekking out there just to find out that I was due to murder my brother, lead the kingdom to victory and then be killed by an asp biting me on the soft bits, so I went inside and had a nice cup of hot tea instead.

Feb 8, 2005

If you want someone

to blame for my sudden lack of long or interesting posts, blame my subconscious. For some reason here of late (and last night in specific) my brain has decided to take a rather direct route to making me insane. Sleep last night was impossible to find, and the nightmares were of a very rare and specialised genre indeed, so I woke up this morning at 5:30 with every intention of writing something in here about my being accepted to the Dada Yow! group online, and to tell you guys that I will be having some of my more nihilistic art in online galleries and in a small printed 'zine, but I'm not going to, because my mood right now is black, foul, and in all ways not conducive to me being very fun to be around.

GAH. There are times I would trade my good imagination in for a nice used bicycle.

Feb 7, 2005

Holy horrible posts, Blogman!

Yeah, I'm rushed for time, but can't leave you guys with nothing to chew on this morning, even tho some of you likely have already chewed and left.

I'm not often crazy about these, but with the recent Mardi Gras celebrations, and the fact that I signed up for the Louisiana Blogs ring, and the fact that I have NO time to sit and write because I was lazy this morning and am not just about to run late and miss my Corn Flakes, you guys get--


You Know You're From Louisiana When...

The crawdad mounds in your front yard have over taken the grass.

Every so often, you have waterfront property.

When giving directions you use words like "uptown," "downtown," "backatown," "riverside," "lakeside," "other side of the bayou" or "other side of the levee."

When you refer to a geographical location "way up North," you are referring to places like Shreveport, Little Rock or Memphis, "where it gets real cold."

You've ever had Community Coffee.

You can pronounce Tchoupitoulas but can't spell it.

You don't worry when you see ships riding higher in the river than the top of your house.

You judge a po-boy by the number of napkins used.

The waitress at your local sandwich shop tells you a fried oyster po-boy "dressed" is healthier than a Caesar salad.

You can eat Popeye's, Haydel's and Zapp's for lunch and wash it down with Barq's and several Abitas, without losing it all on your stoop.

The four seasons in your year are: crawfish, shrimp, crab, and King Cake.

You "wrench" your hands in the sink with an onion bar to get the crawfish smell off.

You don't learn until high school that Mardi Gras is not a national holiday.

You believe that purple, green and gold look good together.

Your last name isn't pronounced the way it's spelled.

You know what a nutria rat is but you still pick it to represent your baseball team.

You have spent a summer afternoon on the Lake Pontchartrain seawall catching blue crabs.

You describe a color as "K & B Purple."

You like your rice and politics dirty.

You pronounce the largest city in the state as "Nawlins."

You know those big roaches can fly, but you're able to sleep at night anyway.

You assume everyone has mosquito swarms in their backyard.

You realize the rainforest is less humid than Louisiana.

You discover that you can get a sunburn through your car window.

When out of town, you stop and ask someone where there is a drive-through Daiquiri place, and they look at you like you have three heads.

You have flood insurance.

Your burial plot is six feet over rather than six feet under.

You consider a Bloody Mary a light breakfast.

You push little old ladies out of the way to catch Mardi Gras throws.

You leave a parade with footprints on the top of your hands.

You have a parade ladder in your shed.

Your first sentence was "Throw me something mistah" and your first drink was from a go-cup.

You worry about a deceased family member returning in spring floods.

You reply to anything and everything about life here with "Only in Nahlins".

You have a monogrammed go-cup.

You get on a bus marked "Cemeteries" and don’t think twice.

You shake out your shoes before putting them on.

Your glasses fog up when you step outside.

No matter where else you go in the world, you are always disappointed in the food.

You get up in the morning and start cooking a pot of rice before you give any thought to what you'll fix for dinner.

You ask, "How dey running?" and "Are dey fat?" when you're inquiring about seafood quality.

When it starts to rain, you cover your beer instead of your head.

You call tomato sauce "red gravy."

You eat sno-balls instead of throwing them.

Your house payment is less than your air conditioning bill.

Your grandparents are called "Maw Maw" and "Paw Paw."

You fall asleep to the soothing sounds of four box fans.

No one eats healthy. Fried Batter is actually a menu item in some restaurants.

Feb 5, 2005

More info about Mardi Gras

than you'd EVER want to know.

http://www.mardigrasdigest.com/html/mardi_gras_history__timeline.htm

Mardi Gras Alexandria Style

Which means it was small but good. I don't know the official count, but I'm thinking since we were 53rd in line, and a fast eye-count showed me another 15 or so in line behind us, so that means there were almost 70 entries this year. So, pics and commentary for the Kid's Parade follow.

Laisse le bon temps rouler!

What sort of parade is it without a
Guy On Stilts!

I had to include that because of the story--every year for both the Kid's Parade and the adult version Sunday the New Mexico Military Institute's Precision Rifle Team joins us. Why are these people driving to a little podunk town in the middle of Louisiana for a Mardi Gras parade? Because quite a long time ago they were passing through the town en route to a function elsewhere, and their vehicle broke down. They received such wonderful hospitality and assistance from the folks here that they decided to make Alexandria's Mardi Gras parades a regular stop from then on, and for the past 7 or 8 years that I can recall they have marched proudly (and skillfully--these guys and gals are GOOD) in the front ranks of the parade, with our uniformed police officers, our local ROTC units, and whichever high school band is best that year. And they've got a guy on stilts! How can you possibly go wrong!?

Okay, so here's the obligatory
Cute Pet Photo. I didn't get to see them this year, but the local humane society has a Walking Crew each year with adoptable animals from the local Humane Society as well as pets of people who just want to get out and dress their dog in strange coloured clothing.

A through-the-fence picture of the
Krewe of Boogaloo float, included here because these guys rock out loud. Literally. This was taken rather early in the morning, but during the parade there's about twenty folks up there, dressed in their trademark red and black, with the huge red and black Seuss tophats, all jamming to some really good music and about half of them are smoking cigars. How cool is that? Lemme go one cooler--their Krewe Rex wears a red tuxedo jacket over black slacks, a black vest with red tie and a red fedora, and the old-school Mardi Gras neckerchief masque, rather than the more modern domino or eyes-only masques. He marches out front of the truck pulling the float, and always has the best throws, as well as fancy dancing feet. I'll try to make it to the parade tomorrow to get you a good pic.

Boogaloo also has the BEST throws--red and black beads, cups, dubloons, you name it. Boogaloo rocks!

You knew it was coming--the pic of my

Daughter's 4-H Club Float!
Go Phoenix Magnet 4-H! That's the weerelephant there at the back, wearing her Mardi Gras gold sweatshirt, but it was so blinking cold under that overpass in the staging area that she stayed bundled up the whole time. Wellness over fashion, I say.

Here's a pic of the
Krewe of Phoenix 4-H 4th Graders ready to start throwing some beads, even tho the actual parade part for us was about an hour after this pic was taken. You gotta give 'em credit for excitement, tho--this was one ready bunch.

There's the
Weerelephant Again, masqued and ready with a handfull of throws. Boogaloo's float is in the background, as are a couple of freezing 'rents who were floatspotters, as was yours truly, trying to keep kids from falling under the wheels. Score: Spotters 3, Squished Children 0. Job well done, plus a spot on the live tele broadcast which me own mum saw, and recognised her son even under a tophat and a neckerchief masque.

The Weerelephant deserves a big pat on the back too, for Perfect Throw Management. Once she got her aim down she was firing throws off like a real Krewe veteran, and when the parade was finally ended she had used up every throw she had (that'd have been 22 dozen,) saved one string of purples for herself, and had enough odds and ends to toss a last few out to the stragglers at the last block. I'm so proud! One day she's gonna be the first female Rex, leading the Krewe of Irrelephants out there, I know she is. Watch for it.

Okay, so honestly I took this one because of the truck--it's very rare to see a restored late 60's GMC four-wheel drive truck around this town, and this one was pretty. Only slightly less important is the
Krewe of Hot-Flash Red Hats, and here you can see their Queen mounting her royal chariot to sit on the royal throne in the back of...some guys's truck. They had some very rare pink pearlescent beads, too. Cool.

And this is the view from the spotter's position. That bottleneck up there? That's where the parade route begins. That lasted for something like 10 city blocks, at 3 mph, with frequent stops for folks ahead of us lingering at the judge's stand for some extra flesh-pressing and favors exchanged for votes. Block after block of kids and adults and people of every description, all sreaming for beads and cups and little purple and gold and green stuffed animals. Crazy! And a hell of a lot of fun. It's interesting how worked up you can get a crowd of people by spinning a long gold string of plastic beads around your hand and NOT throwing it. *lol* I made four dozen strings (thanks to Munchkinn for the throws!) last the entire parade. What a power trip!

And so. I've got windburn in the second degree, leftover chillblains that have been lined up all morning to attack me because they never got the opportunity to get ahold of me under that overpass, and the beginnings of a whopper sinus headache. But, I've got memories now that I would not trade the world for. Making people scream with joy and smile and be happy for just a moment, all because I tossed them a sting of plastic beads. How can you beat it?

Scenes of the Surreal

There's no real way to preface this one, I'm just going to have to jump right in. If you're a real soft heart, or don't like the water you might want to gird yourself.

Woke up this morning all full of glee, because today is the day I get to play spotter for my daughter's 4-H float in the Kid's Mardi Gras parade downtown. I've got my purple green and gold clothes all laid out, my top hat dusted, and boxes and boxes of throws for both of us. Eager for the morning's festivities, I crawled out of bed, got the heat turned on, washed my face and brushed my teeth, and came in here to see what was happening in the world. Checked a few emails, did a little blog surfing, and my bowels stirred.

Got up, went to the master bath, and not wanting to disturb my still-sleeping wife and daughter across the hall, I closed the door.

Now ordinarily this is no big deal, but sometimes in the morning Egan, the baby cat of the family, wants to be in the room when the shower is going, so I was sort of ready for a yowling or feet at the door or something to that effect, since the door was closed and the bathroom was occupied.

I didn't get it, as such.

Sitting down, relaxing, enjoying the bite of the cold temp and the promise of heat coming soon, I hear a tiny noise at the door. It was the noise of a cat at play. Not unusual in a household of 5 felines. I heard some soft scuffles, a few quiet scrapes, the sussurus of fur across the door, just the usual noise a cat makes when playing with one of the innumerable toys in the house. I was ready for a bump when someone rolled over, or a tail to come thru the slot under the door, or even a yowl as someone got in the way of playing claws.

I was NOT ready to see a three-inch long dead house mouse shoot under the door sideways and come to rest on the bathmat.

Seeing this strange gray inert thing stumped me. What was I to do? I couldn't stop nature, the mouse definitely wasn't showing signs of life, and so I thought I'd just finish what I had started and then, somehow, deal with this little grey thanopic package. Little did I know that the cats had other plans.

Staring at this snuffed-out, fur-covered piece of necros resting comfortably (?) on my bathroom floor, a familiar tortoise-shell foot came furtively creeping under the crack of the door. At first rather hesitant, it soon gained confidence and began actively searching for it's missing dearly departed (in more ways than one) prize.

*pat pat grope claw pat grope pat*

I had an insane desire to shove the ex-rodent into her clutches, but honestly I was having too much ghoulish fun watching her search for it. After what seemed like ten minutes of groping and patting she encountered it with an almost comical double-take. Brushing it with one toe she continued on for a moment searching, then returned almost immediately to it, hooked it carefully, then began swatting and patting it back toward the egress. She got it close to the slot, and with both paws suddenly thrust under the door Babel seized it and whipped it away back into the bedroom and her waiting clutches. Only to shove it back under about a foot further along.

It was at this point that I was starting to feel a shade queasy.

She continued batting and moving it for another few minutes, then for some inexplicable reason, she left. Simply left. Prize forgotten, no other cat to come claim it, just abandoned. Abandoned like a...well, like a dead mouse in the bathroom.

Flushing it, I'll freely admit, was the ickiest part. Deciding that however nice it would be to the cats to let them keep it and disposing of it anyway was easy. Having to pick it up was no big deal. The thing that got me was this--somehow hydrodynamics decided that this spiritless, torpid rodentia vulgaris needed to move with the water as if it were swimming with the current. That is to say head-first and tail out behind like a thin banner, so it sort of breast stroked around and around at the top of the swirling water looking for all the world like a tiny extinct Jacques Costeau wearing a mouse-skin diving suit until there was no water left for it to paddle in, so it performed a lovely mortified half-gainer and went down the pipes.

I'm scarred for life.

Feb 4, 2005

Hey, asshole!

If you're going to dial the phone in the middle of the freaking night, make sure you dial the RIGHT number, you stoned, drooling, mealy-mouthed idiot. And be glad I can't find you, because last night when you woke me up if I could have found you I would have given you a damned good thumping, one that would have left a mark for you to remember me by.

Feb 3, 2005

Fat Tuesday

Yup, it's that time of year again--we're coming up on Mardi Gras. The parades here in our little town run Saturday and Sunday, but New Orleans won't really start seriously exploding until past the weekend. The Balls have been going steady for the past month, and it's suddenly not uncommon to see big one-ton dualie trucks headed down the main drag, hauling behind them huge contraptions of wood and paint, designed with space for dozens of masqued people to stand. Heck, last night my wife was sitting in front of the horror movie we were watching, twisting up purple, gold and green hair ribbons for the dogs she'll be grooming in the next few days. And there's a noticable migration southwards, as deep into French country as people can get. The populations of Lafayette and Eunice have no doubt swollen ten-fold.

I was sitting here thinking about what I ought to write, realising that my current readership, with the possible exception of one or two strays who happen to wander thru here by accident, are all locals who grew up knowing that there was a Mardi Gras holiday from school in early February when the rest of the world was still attending on those days. We all know the green-purple-gold colour scheme, and I daresay a few of us know the French names for some of the goings-on. We've all, I'm sure, been to a few parades in our times, and have screamed "Throw me something mister!" although being a guy I'm more prone to shout a sort of drawn out "Heyyyy pretty laaaaaady!" or "Throw it like you mean it!" That seems to get their attention.

I'm certain we all have a bag full of beads somewhere in our closets, and maybe a few colourful dubloons in a drawer somewhere, and are likely using a cup or two in the cabinet for the kids or for scooping cat food. I daresay more than a few of us have been to at least one or two parades in N. O. proper, where the Krewes don't have just one float in a parade but entire parades to themselves. Heck, my brother (who btw does not read this blog) once found his little skinny white arse deep in a Krewe of Zulu parade years ago in New Orleans, and not only managed to get away with his life but also has a small handful of Zulu dubloons to show for his risk. And I know of at least one of you who attends the Krewe of Twelth Night Ball through a parental link, and one day will don her own masque and pink wig, drink mimosas (champagne and orange juice for you Yanks,) and stand on a wooden platform on wheels and fling handfulls of beads at screaming strangers.

I would bet dollars to ducats that every one of my regular readers is pronouncing it "Nawlins."

Aaah, the South. I bitch and gripe and moan a lot about the low class education levels, the sheer volume of hicks and s**tkickers, the humidity and the preponderance of swamps, bayous, mud and mosquitoes, but there are times when I am genuinely proud to say that I'm a Southern Boy. If you didn't know me I doubt seriously you could tell I'm Southern by my accent (everyone tells me I don't have one, then looks at me kind of funny, like maybe I'm a Yankee or something equally horrid) and I don't wear meshback caps or anything with an agricultural company logo on it (no "Nothing runs like a Deere" or "Dekalb" for me, thanx) but it's in me. I spent my entire school life having the Mardi Gras holiday off, knowing the what and why of "Fat Tuesday," and then being in church bright and early Wednesday morning, prompt and polished, to be marked on the forehead with palm ash.

Some things have changed since then--you won't catch me dead in a church anymore, but I still like to get into the festivities a little bit. It's not unusual to find three strands of beads (purple gold and green, of course) on my rearview mirror, and I have gone from the parade to the grocery store with enough beads hanging around my neck to be a Carnivale Mr. T, and done so proudly, and met the smiles of fellow parade-goers with my own toothy grin and laugh, and come Wednesday I'll feel just the tiniest, vaguest stirring of that good-old inborn Catholic guilt for not being in church.

I'll fo' sho' be at the parades this weekend, tho, doin' my own brand of worship--

"Throw me something, mister!"

Feb 2, 2005

My computer is...

well, okay, it's a marvel of technology. But it's a confusing one sometime. I'm on a cable modem, and the box stays on all the time, so Windows can get into it and futz around, and so updates and things can be spearheaded right through, without me having to go every couple of days to the update site and find out which glaring holes in security Microsoft found today.

This morning my machine decides it needs to update the software drivers for my video card. No big deal, I let it go on and check my email and read the few blogs I check in the morning. The software finishes installing, and wants a restart. I sigh to myself, and restart the computer. Another install window pops up, I install, it asks for a restart. I do so. A THIRD install appears, I start getting aggravated because I specifically got up early this morning to have time to do things like blog, have breakfast, and maybe do a little paperwork that seems to be starting around me, not spend all morning restarting my computer. The most annoying part of this little cycle is not the restarts so much but that every time I restart an icon for ATI reappears on my desktop, telling me to register my video card, which I think I probably did about a year ago when I installed it, and concurrent with this icon and reminder is about three more windows that follow it, making sure I'm certain that I want to continue with this potentially life-threatening decision not to register a product that I no longer have a serial number for.

I stopped gritting my teeth a long time ago. I think I will start again this morning.

So finally the last (fourth) update this morning was some foolishness for Outlook and for Media Player. I watched the details on this one to make sure nothing was going to go haywire or stoopid or anything, and got to see one of the installs say
"...failed!" like it was cheerful or suprised about it.

GAH!

Technology is a wonderful thing. Without it I would likely lose track of more than several distant friends, would not get nearly the amount of news I do now, and I wouldn't be able to post the occasional piece of foolishness here, nor would I know what the weather is going to do without going outside and standing in it, but right now that option is starting to appeal to me.

A lot.

Right now I'm glad Bill Gates got pantsed and bookdumped and such as a kid. Dangit, I have to have payback somehow, I'm willing to accept it from thirty-odd years prior to the incident.

Feb 1, 2005

It's difficult to miss a trailer,

but there are times (yes, there are a few) when I do.

Last night I was walking in the rain to my Mom's house to fetch back my daughter, and it's just now turned Winter here, with temps staying in the low 40's and rain pretty much all the time, so it was nasty, raining just hard enough to be called rain, just enough to make it clammy outside, and I walked underneath Mom's little aluminum shed/garage, and I could hear the raindrops making wonderful music on the aluminum roof.

My trailer made that noise for the 13 years I lived in it, and it was one of the most wonderful things to fall asleep to. When it rained, just ordinary rain mind you, not hail or anything with winds over 100 knots, it would make a wonderful soft drumming on the roof that was such a good sound, such a natural sound. It's hard to describe, but my Mom knows it well--"The Old Home" as she calls it where she grew up, had a tin roof and when she was young and living there she liked to sleep beneath that sound, the soft metallic drumming of rain on tin, filtered down through the attic and into the rooms like distant thunder.

Mind you, there were down sides to it, too. Living in the trailer, that is. I mean, it wasn't all heavenly rains soothing my troubles away. Very heavy rain would make that little trailer turn into a snare drum, and strong wind had a knack of blowing down it's length, so that you could see the interior walls flex in and out a little bit as the pressure changed, and the outside walls and roof would flex a LOT, and make booming and warping noises which were not at all reassuring. And hail? Oh my sweet hairy toes, the few hailstorms I was unlucky enough to have to endure were nightmarish. Hail made it sound like there was an avalance about to come down on your head, and the first few tons of stones were just now arriving. But regular old rain? Wonderful.

One of the drawbacks of living in a house with an attic with thick wood rafters and sheathing and an asphalt shingle roof and big solid brick walls is that you can't hear the rain. Even when it's really storming outside you can barely hear it, just the occasional hoot of wind around a corner or the very heaviest rolls of thunder and lightning. None of that soft pattering that is so strangely soothing. No gentle showered lullaby.

I miss that song. It's one of the few strong ties I still hold to that little trailer.

Ever have one of those days

when everything goes RIGHT? When you line up for a venti Chai latte and the guy in front of you doesn't have enough money to pay for his, so you get it without having to wait? When all the lights seem to be green just before you get to them? When you're going to catch a ride with a friend, and just as you reach out your hand the car door handle is right there? When you feel like Elwood Blues and you can parallel park by simply doing a 180 in the street and slide the car into an open place?

Don't worry, I haven't either.