Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mem'ries ... light the corners of my mind ... (OR NOT)

I was talking to a woman the other day with whom I went to high school, and while there was no love lost between us back then, we have become friend-ish lately, and it's funny how that happens, isn't it?

ANYway, she was talking about some trip the select choir took to Canada, back in high school, and I'm just, like, sorta listening, and then she's, like, "Don't you remember?  You went, too!"

And I'm, like, "---"

"You were totally there!," she said.  "I remember you being on that trip!"

I remember being in the select choir.  (It wasn't THAT select, obviously, if I was in it.)  I do not remember this particular woman being in that choir, and I have no memory of that trip whatsoever.

And honestly?  A LOT of my high school existence has faded out of memory.

Oh, sure, I remember some of it, and I remember going to Florida with the marching band, and I remember some of the boys I dated, and I remember my first after-school part-time job, but most of it?

Nope.  Gone.

It just ... wasn't that important, in the grand scheme of things.  I mean, sure, it was important at the TIME, but over thirty years have passed, for Pete's sake.  I can't remember EVERYthing.

Except I'm pretty sure that some people can.  Remember, that is.  Facebook has a great (or evil) way of reconnecting you with high school classmates, and some of the kids I went to school with (now grown adults, of course), can go on and on and ON about this dance and that teacher and this field trip and I'm just, like ...

okay?  If you say so?  Was it fun?

I mean, I'm sure that some of it is due to the fact that I went to a big high school.  There were six hundred kids in my graduating class, so obviously I'm not going to have the same memories as all of my classmates.  But to un-remember an entire field trip to Canada with the choir?  Seems kind of ... odd.

Was it the drugs I took?  I mean, I didn't do a LOT of drugs in high school, I was a good kid, but I certainly kept pace.  Lots of alcohol, some weed, some coke but not too much because nobody knew anybody who had it on a regular basis - just the same stuff all of my peers were doing.  (It was the seventies, after all.  Nobody'd even HEARD of Just Say No back then - it hadn't been invented yet.)

So now I'm curious.  How well do you remember your high school experience?   All of it?  Some of it?  Every detail?  None of it? 

Enquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014


Me, at bank, to teller:  "Hi, I was here on Friday afternoon, and I think I left a pair of sunglasses in here.  Do you have a lost-and-found box?"

Teller:  "Blue sunglasses?"

Me, excitedly:  "Yes!  Exactly.  Sunglasses with blue frames."

Teller, rummaging around behind counter:  "Hmmm, they're not here ... Hey, Matt, did you lock up a pair of sunglasses?"

Matt, aka Teller #2:  "Sunglasses?  Let me check out back."

Matt comes back.  "Nope, no sunglasses.  Sorry."

Me:   -----

Me:  "So ... you don't have a pair of sunglasses?"

Matt:  "No.  Sorry."

Me:  "Ummmmmm ... okaaaaaaaay ... thanks?"

WTF?  The first teller knew my sunglasses.  He remembered them.  But then Teller #2 said nope.  No sunglasses at all. 

I know I left those sunglasses at the bank.  I walked in with them; I realized five minutes down the road that I no longer had them.  And  I mean, they were dollar store sunglasses, which is why I didn't go back right away, but still.  They were pretty dollar store sunglasses, which is why I went back at all.  And sure, it could happened that the next person in line behind me saw the sunglasses sitting on the ledge and scarfed them, but Teller #1 remembered the sunglasses, and yet did not contradict Teller #2 who said no sunglasses.

I guess ... enjoy your new sunglasses, Teller #2?  Although I do think they'll look kind of silly on you, having blue frames and all.

Recently Read

As usual, skip it if you wanna.

1.  Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast.  Ms. Chazt is a noted cartoonist, so I'm not sure why I was surprised that her memoir, about her aged parents' decline and death, was in cartoon form, but I was.  Anyway, it's really good, and a really quick read, and her Dad had dementia, so I could relate to it in a billion different ways.  Plus, she's flat-out funny.  Favorite line:  "Where, in the Five Stages of Death, is EAT TUNA SANDWICH!?!?"  (Her mom, er, lived a little longer than the doctors expected.)

2.  Heartbreak Cafe by Penelope Stokes - Novel about a recently widowed woman who opens a restaurant. Think Fannie Flagg lite.

3.  Cruddy by Lynda Barry - Novel about a young girl with a hard childhood.  I was having a hard time getting into this one, but I knew I had read one of Ms. Barry's novels before and really liked it, so I did a blog post search and ...  it was this book!  I read it back in 2008 and, according to my review, really liked it!  This time around, I didn't like it, couldn't even get very far into it,  so it just goes to proves that your own life situation at any given time has a lot to do with whether or not you'll enjoy any particular book, I guess.

4.  Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  I wanted to read it before the movie came out.  It's a memoir from a woman who hiked portions of the Pacific Coast Trail.  Good.

5.  The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro.  Humorous essays.

6.  Untamed:  The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island by Will Harlan.  Biography of  naturalist Carol Ruckdeschel.  Really, really good.  Along with a fascinating portrait of a woman who truly loves wild things, this book also explains, in an entertaining way,  lots of subjects that might ordinarily be considered dry, like the Social Darwinism concept, and why Jimmy Carter is interested in monitoring elections,Very, very good and highly recommended.

7.  Whistling in the Dark by Leslie Kagan.  Novel about a child murderer on the loose in a small town in the fifties told from the viewpoint of a young girl.  Okay.

8.  Let Us Build Us a City by Donald Harington - Nonfiction about several small Arkansas towns and their inhabitants.  I loved, loved his novel When Angels Rest and I enjoy reading about small-town life, so I thought I would like this book as well.  Nope.  It just wanders all over the place, and not in a good way.  Didn't even get past the first town.

9.  O Pioneers by Willa Cather.  No, I'd never read it before.  Novel about Nebraska farmers in the late 1800s, written in the early 1900s.  Interesting, because unlike a lot of books of that era that come off as really dated, I felt like this one could have been written today.  Good.

10.  Found by Davy Rothbart.  Series of essays, mainly written by hipsters and people in bands nobody's ever heard of, about found things.  Meh. 

So!  That's what I've been reading lately.  How about you?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Stones of Jones

So, Sunday I ended up playing hooky from my responsibilities and I headed to Jones Park.  If you can do boring household chores on a gorgeous fall afternoon, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

I was happy to see that the stone arrangers have been out in full force.

Their works range from the fairly simple:

(I love the little pebble on the top - it's like a cherry on top of a sundae.)

To large-scale fortresses:

To the spectacular.

That last assemblage reminds me of the scene in Poltergeist when the mom walks into the kitchen and all of the chairs are balanced on top of each other.

Who builds them?  I do not know.  The Stones of Jones are a mystery.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Yet another jam-packed weekend in RockyCatlandia

So!  Saturday was carpet-ripping day.  But I did lots of other stuff this past weekend as well:

I bought some corned beef hash because I'd never had it, and I thought it would be ... like hash browns?  Yeah, THAT was a nasty surprise when I opened up the can.  Do people actually eat that stuff?  Because I wouldn't even give it to the cats.  Straight in the trash can.  That sh*t ain't right.

I got home from work on Friday to discover that SOMETHING had chewed most of the bark off the bottom two feet of one of my brand-new baby willow trees.  Son of a B*TCH!  Can the tree be saved?  I do not know.  Whatever went to town on it (deer, I'm looking at YOU) did not manage to totally gird it, so I'm hoping like heck that it might recover.  In the meantime, I stapled aluminum window screening (sometimes it helps to never, ever throw anything away) around the trunks of all three of the new trees.  Chew through THAT, a**hole deer.  Gah. 

I was driving out in the sticks when I saw a calf in someone's driveway.  Why on earth would somebody have a calf in their driveway, I pondered as I slowed down to get a better look.  Turns out it wasn't a cow; it was a dog!  Dogzilla!  It was the biggest damn dog I've ever seen in my life - thing was HUGE.  Judging by the look, it was part Rottie, part Shepherd, and part Incredible Hulk.  Thankfully I was driving by the house and not walking - I think I would have had a heart attack.

I was supposed to do all kinds of chores on Sunday.  But by the time I got home from the grocery store early in the afternoon, it was gorgeous.  Sunny and in the 50s.  So I looked at my to-do list.

Raking leaves ... can wait.
Mowing ... can wait.
Washing the windows ... can wait.
Planting the daffodil bulbs?  Well, maybe I can get to that when I get back, because it's too nice of a day not to hit the woods.

There is a snake in this next picture.  Shhh, don't tell anybody ...

Tune in next time for Jones Park Part II: the Stones of Jones.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Demolition Day

Remember when I discovered that there was hardwood underneath the carpet in my house?

I was going to have the contractor come in and rip it up out of the foster bedroom, but he kept pushing back the schedule, and I was dying to get a look at all the pretty wood.  So on Saturday, I bribed a friend with the promise of a yummy! diner! lunch!, and we got our game on. 

Here is the room, before:  (You can see where I had already started pulling in the far corner):

I will tell you what, it was a lot of WORK yanking all that carpeting and padding up.  And then there were the tack strips, which looked like some kind of medieval torture device, which we ended up crowbarring up off the floor, but in the end we got it all done.  I still have nine kabillion staples to pop out of the floor, but that'll come.

Are you ready?

Are you ready for the awesome floor reveal?

Ready ...

Set ...


Dudes.  Duuuuuuuudes.  Granted, it only looks so shiny because I had just mopped it, and I'm still going to have to put some kind of finish on the floor (suggestions welcome), but can you believe it?  Can you believe somebody covered that UP?

I keep going to the doorway, just to gaze at the pretty wood.  Hot DAMN that's a good-looking floor.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Freaky Friday: Crazy Crafts!

Okay, I think we all could use a little respite from my racist boss (see yesterday's post if you missed it), so let's do a Freaky Friday.

I know you guys all think I'm nuts.  Truth is, I am.  But there is a method to my madness, and today I thought I'd give you a step-by-step look into my world.  Previous Freaky Fridays have given a glimpse into some of the weird sh*t around my house; today I'll show you how one such item came to be. 

 Start here, with a flat-back birdcage I picked up at Kohl's using one of the gift cards they keep sending me.  Original price thirty-nine bucks, marked down to fifteen, and I had a ten dollar card so it cost me five bucks.  But it's plain!  This can not stand!

Let's see, it needs some background.  Maybe some sky?

Nah, not quite right.  How about some lizards?

Oooooo, better.

I was gonna go with the lizard motif, and maybe put a little hanging plant in there, but ... eh.  It's been done before.  I needed something different ... something really different.

I wanted to have a cage of light.  Of brightness, for the winter months.  But I couldn't quite put my finger on the idea ...

And then, I went out walking the other weekend, and the trees and the asters all looked like fireworks going off, and I thought, "fireworks.  I want a birdcage full of fireworks."

Well.  I knew I had some wrapping paper or a gift box or something at home with a fireworks print.  I thought I'd head for the dollar store to see what else could remind me of fireworks.

I was looking for anything sparkly.  Metallic sparkly.  I picked up some cheerleading pompoms, one of those balloon-weight thingies, some shiny gold wire garland and some bead necklaces.  It was time to go to work.  First up was deconstructing the pompoms; I was pleased to discover that the strands were all attached to some plastic backing and not just running amok once they were removed from the handles.

(Yeah, I was working out in the backyard. It was a beautiful day.)

I started with the fireworks-printed gift box; I unfolded it and put it in the back of the birdcage.  There wasn't enough to cover the whole back, but I figured that wouldn't matter once I put the other stuff in there.

 The balloon-weight thingie went in the center as the main firework; I draped a dismantled pompom across the back of the birdcage, arranged the garland to look like streamers, and ran the bead necklaces down from the top.  In progress:

Close-up view:

Here it is inside:

Hmmm.  Looks a little dark, there in the corner.  Needs more light.  I took a nightlight, attached it to an extension cord, and stuck it in the back of the birdcage.  Let's LIGHT IT UP, BAYBEE.

Close ... close ... getting closer ...

The light needed to be ... more firework-y.  (Am I insane?  Don't answer that.)

I pulled out the nightlight, threw in a small string of Christmas lights, and tried again.


A birdcage full of fireworks.  Oooooo, pretty.