Monday, October 31, 2011

Oh, I can't let this day pass ...

... without bringing you my Halloween story.

Click here. For the true story of growing up in a haunted house.

Happy Halloween!

An early snow

Saturday afternoon, the snow started to fall. By Sunday morning, all was white:

I woke up with Little Girl sleeping on her back (TOO cute) beside me, and I looked out the window and saw that the trees were all covered with snow. I grabbed my camera, threw a coat on over my PJs, headed outdoors and started taking pictures.

By March I'll be cursing this stuff, but right now it's beautiful.

Oh, and Happy Halloween from a snow-covered vampire bat.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Because I am twelve, that's why

Parsons Mobile Homes. Parsons Tour-ette. Tour-ette? Tourette? I'm picturing a road trip with lots of swearing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about

I actually had a good experience with customer service yesterday.



Backstory: Ever since I bought my place, over two years ago, I've had a problem with the lights flickering. It only happened sporadically, and usually when the wind was blowing, so I figured that the problem was with the electrical wiring passing through the tree branches out front. Every once in a while it would get bad for a few days, and I'd get ready to call NYSEG (the utility company) but then the problem would stop and I'd forget about it again. Besides, who wants to have to call customer service, and get the runaround, and take time off work to wait for the crew to get there?

Except ... I got to wondering. What, I wondered, if the problem ISN'T with the lines outside? What if there's some kind of SHORT in the HOUSE wiring and ohmyGod I'm going to burn to a crisp ...

I called NYSEG yesterday morning and left a message. And - get ready to faint - somebody CALLED ME BACK. Who SPOKE ENGLISH. And last night? A very nice NYSEG man came to my house, and got up in his cherry picker in the dark and the rain (bless his heart) and FIXED MY PROBLEM.

And the angels sang.

Oh NYSEG, I love you. You may charge the highest utility rates in the country, but right now I am ready to forget all that because when I called, you came.

As opposed to Verizon. When our offices flooded, it took goddamn Verizon a MONTH AND A HALF to get our phones back up. They'd miss appointments, show up when no one was at the office, and generally dicked around for SIX WEEKS. F*ck you, Verizon.

NYSEG, on the other hand? I want to marry NYSEG. Right now. Let's get a ring and a date!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Squirrel Car

A couple of weeks ago, I was at Salt Springs, and came upon this:

There are lots of old cars out in the woods. Evidently, back in the day, when people got done with a car, sometimes they'd just drive it out into the forest and leave it.

Let's go for a ride!

Hmmm ...

I'm guessing it's a Chevelle.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sunday in the Park

Once Labor Day weekend is over, the local parks empty out. Here's the parking lot at Greenwood on Sunday:

Helloooooo! Anybody home?

I've gotta tell ya, everybody who begins hibernating in early September is starting way too early. There's still plenty of passable weather left before winter settles in. It's not too hot, so you don't get all sweaty hiking, and the gnats and horseflies and mosquitoes are gone. The deer are moving through the woods; I saw a HUGE buck on Sunday.

The trees may be past peak, but they're still pretty.

And the forest just glows this time of year.

Once the people leave, the geese settle in.

I never really understood the phrase "as slick as goose poop" until I started hiking at Greenwood. Man, that shit is slippery. The trick is to avoid the geese-ful areas.

They are calling for snow here on Thursday *shudder*, but I'm sure there will still be good days left. And the woods are calling. I can't turn 'em down.

Monday, October 24, 2011


A month and a half after the flood, entire neighborhoods not far from my house still look like this:

House after house, with the contents out at the curb.

And I remain so, so grateful that my house stayed dry. I cannot even imagine sitting here at the end of October with a gutted house.

If your house is gutted and empty and waiting for the FEMA money to start rebuilding? I'm very, very sorry. I can't even imagine.

If your house is warm and dry today? You might want to give a little thanks.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hidden *urp* talents

First off, you've got to scroll down to the earlier post, where I'm still waiting to hear what everybody's favorite books are.

Now, on with the show. Okay, so there's this very nice blogger who put up a post about five things she's good at, and asked her readers to do the same in the comments. And they're all being very courteous and self-affirming and it's all very, very earnest. I really didn't want to crash the party over there, so without further ado, here are five hidden talents of my own.

1. I can drink a f*ckton of beer and not get drunk. Seriously, I can drink ANYBODY under the table, as long as we stick to the beer. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, my friends.

2. I can lie my ass off when necessary. I endeavor very hard to never HAVE to lie, because then you have to KEEP lying, and that's a pain (see also the whole "not very moral" thing), but when the chips are down and I've gotta pull off a good excuse, pronto? I'm golden. Well, except for the pizza incident. One of these days I'm gonna come clean about that one.

3. I'm very good at ignoring people's opinions of me. You think I'm priss, a weirdo, I laugh too loud? F*ck off - I don't give a shit.

4. I can watch an amazing amount of reality TV, and forget what happened five minutes later. I know that SOMEBODY got kicked off Survivor Wednesday night, but I have no idea who. This comes in handy, as the next wave of reality TV is heading for the shore and I need a clean slate.

5. I can eat an astounding amount of junk food in one sitting. Put a heaping plate of nachos in front of me and I can scarf that bad boy down. And not feel any guilt about it whatsoever, which is the REAL talent.

That's it! Five hidden talents of my very own. I'm so damn proud of myself. *urp*

Okay, since we're getting all book-ish up in here ...

... what's your favorite book?

I've got a whole bunch. Here's a few:

The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

And I know I'm gonna get laughed at for this one, but for sheer enjoyability, I've got to give a big thumbs-up to The Stand by Stephen King.

Okay! Your turn!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hey! Let's depress the shit out of some little kids!

While we're talking about books ...

One of my favorite books is "Hard Living on Clay Street" by Joseph Howell. It's about two families living in poverty, and I just found it really, really interesting. I've re-read it a few times over the years.

I was noodling around on line the other day, and I decided to try and find some books similar to "Hard Living". I googled "books about poverty", and you know what I found? A bunch of kids' books!

Here's the description from Amazon:

"Kindergarten-Grade 3-After her father died, eight-year-old Zettie and her mother left Jamaica in search of education and a better life in America. They now live in an old car. Zettie's daily routine includes waking up to blaring sirens and flashing lights, washing in cold water in a park rest room, being bullied by boys at school, and feeling hungry and resentful. Spending time with a friend who is also homeless, and a reassuring encounter with a concerned policeman bring comfort at crucial moments, but the girl's life is not an easy one. Not since Maurice Sendak's We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy (HarperCollins, 1993) has a picture book dealing with homelessness maintained such emotional intensity. The illustrations call to mind images by Georges Rouault. Pedlar's figures are defined with thick black lines; exaggerated features and the expressionistic use of color accentuate the family's suffering. In the end, Mama's successful day helping at a Health Fair and the promise of a job lead to a bed and shower in a motel-and hope. Children will be moved by Zettie's plight and relieved that there are options. "

Wow. Just ... look. If you are in KINDERGARTEN, you need to be singing songs and playing with blocks and learning your one-two-threes. You do not need to learn right away that there are people so poor they live in their f*cking CARS, for Pete's sake. And parents, if little Amy comes to you with a question about the boy in her class who wears dirty clothes, all you have to do is tell her that the little boy is not as fortunate as she, and that she should treat him kindly. You do not have to give her a dissertation about the finer points of poverty, complete with a picture book to SHOW her what living in a car is like. Christ.

exaggerated features and the expressionistic use of color accentuate the family's suffering. Whoopee!

But wait! There's more:

"A Kids' Guide to Hunger and Homelessness"

"Tight Times"

"Uncle Willy and the Soup Kitchen"

and my personal favorite:

"The Lady in the Box"

You can't make this shit up. You just can't.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Recently Read

Skip it if you wanna.

1. Highway 50 by Jim Lilliefors - Memoir of a road trip. It was interesting, although I got the feeling that the author didn't think very much of the people he met along the way, which was a little off-putting.

2. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King - short stories. This reminded me of that apocryphal story about Picasso, where a family with a young child is traveling abroad and stops for lunch at a little cafe. They strike up a conversation with the man at the next table, and as they are getting ready to leave, the man scribbles a doodle on a cocktail napkin, hands it to them, and says, "I'm Pablo Picasso, and this just paid for your child's college education." Anything Stephen King writes is better than most of the stuff out there, but sometimes I feel like he's publishing stuff just because he can, not because he necessarily thinks it's very good. Although maybe I'm just jealous.

3. At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon - Novel about a minister in a small town. Too predictable - I didn't finish it.

4. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen - Novel about a family of women with unusual gifts - a little bit on the magical realism side - interesting.

5. Flophouse by David Isay - Documentary/photo book about the men living in NYC's Bowery district - good.

6. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt - Novel about a 12-year-old girl trying to find out who murdered her brother. Starts out slow, but I guess you kind of have to when you're swinging for 500 pages. The ending is a rip-snorter, although it won't satisfy everybody.

Movie Review! "American Teen". This is a doc about high school, and the moral of the story is, high school is just as clique-centered and disorienting as it was when I attended, 30 years ago. Oh, but there is one modern update: Do not ever, ever email a pic of your boobs to someone, unless you want the whole world to see it.

7. Kings of the Earth by Jon Clinch - Novel about three hermit-like brothers, and what happens when one passes away under (possibly) criminal circumstances. Told through several different viewpoints and time frames, which would normally have driven me crazy, although this author nailed it. Based on real-life events in a town not far from mine. Good.

Another movie review! "I Like Killing Flies". Doc about a Greenwich Village diner owner. Quirky and really good.

8. The Bride's House by Sandra Dallas. Novel about life in a western mining town in the early 1900s. I like all of Sandra Dallas' books, because they're comforting and easy to read. "The Persian Pickle Club" is probably my favorite of hers.

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


My mom (87; Alzheimer's) is convinced that there is a family living in my sister's poolhouse. (Trust me; there isn't.) She was chatting away on Sunday about how they just had a new baby boy. It's kind of spooky.

I cleaned and refilled the hummingbird feeder for the last time on Saturday. I haven't seen any hummingbirds since the end of September, but I'll leave it up for another week just in case. Cleaning that thing out once or twice a week is a pain in the ass, but taking it down in the fall means that winter's coming. I'd keep cleaning it out year-round if it would just stave off winter.

I've been saying/thinking "knock-knock, motherf*cker" an awful lot lately. I think I've been reading too much of The Bloggess.

I started to put up Halloween stuff on Saturday but I didn't finish it; I just didn't have the heart for it, remembering how last year The Runt helped me out:

My God I miss that cat.

I saw a thing on 60 Minutes about Vincent Van Gogh. It turns out he completed most of his paintings in a day; sometimes only a few hours. So, is "The Starry Night" still a masterpiece if he knocked it off in an afternoon? It's really funny; I always thought that the great painters took weeks and months to complete an important piece, but turns out old Vincent there was cranking 'em out in the time it takes me to eat a bag of chips. Who knew?

I just bought the most fantastically awful soapdish EVER. I really should save this for a future Freaky Friday, but it's too good not to share:

It's a boy. On a dolphin. Painted gold. Holding a soapdish. For some reason, I'm picturing this in a Kardashian bathroom. What can I say? It was three bucks. I couldn't resist.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Big Nothin'

You guys! I had this big post all ready to go about how Delilah! got! adopted! on Saturday.

Except she didn't. Well, she KIND of did ... let me explain.

The foster coordinator called me on Thursday. A woman had seen Delilah on line and wanted to adopt her! She had filled out all the paperwork, passed the home inspection (!), and wanted to adopt. So on Saturday, the foster peeps came and got Delilah. Bye-bye, Deli-Belly! Enjoy your new home!

A couple of hours later, I got a phone call. The woman's four-year-old boy was scared of Delilah. She would have to go.

Now, I am not going to comment on someone only giving a healthy, friendly cat two hours before returning it. If she felt that strongly about it, it's best that the cat come back. And I don't know, maybe her kid has special needs or something. But I WILL say that two hours may set some kind of record for shortest. adoption. ever.

Besides, her buddies missed her terribly while she was gone and were very happy to have her back.

Prepare to gaze upon the countenance that scared a four-year-old:


Don't worry, Miss Deli. Your family will find you.

Friday, October 14, 2011

How teeny is Dumplin?

This teeny:

THIS teeny:


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Who DOES that?!

Okay, so, on my lunch break today I had to run up to the Dollar General (ew) to pick up a couple of things, and the lady ahead of me in line (they're always ahead of ME, dontcha know) was having a FIT because they wouldn't let her use multiple manufacturer's coupons for the same purchase.

Bottom line: She had three manufacturer's coupons for buy-two-Tide-products-and-one-Febreze-product-and-get-a-dollar-off. So she bought two Tides and one Febreze and was HIGHLY OFFENDED that they wouldn't let her use all three coupons.

"Ma'am", the store manager said, "You can't stack manufacturer's coupons. It's against Dollar General policy. You could combine one manufacturer's coupon and one Dollar General coupon, but you can't use more than one manufacturer's coupon per purchase."

"WELL!", she said. "The OTHER places I shop let me do it!"

Oh no they don't, I'm thinking. Not unless your cousin's the cashier, they don't.

Look. If they let people do that, people would collect, like, thirty coupons for a tube of toothpaste, buy one tube, and make a bunch of money off the deal.


So in the end she abandoned her cart and huffed out of the store and I was glad. Because people like that drive me CRAZY.

How about you guys? Any crazy shopping people to report? A friend of my niece's got punched in the nose one time in the Walmart parking lot ...

TV alert! TV alert!

The second season of Work of Art started on Bravo last night. Oh, how I love this show. They take a bunch of artists working in different styles and media and give them challenges each week.

On last night's show, the artists had to take flea-market type art (bad paintings, etc.) and put their own twist on it. And they have a limited amount of time to do it, so they can't dick around endlessly dithering about what they're going to do. And that's the most interesting part to me, watching how the artists actually decide on what they're going to do and then create their work.

And of course, they're "artists", so most of them are whack jobs. There's this one gal named Jazz-Minh (oh PLEASE), and a dude who calls himself "Sucklord", which is pretty hysterical when the judges are critiquing his work. "So tell me, Sucklord, why did you choose that particular color?" hahahahaha

Last year, if I remember correctly, they had a gal on who like to photograph herself nude, so who knows what'll happen this season? And one of the final three was a guy who was so mentally fragile that I STILL worry about him and hope he's okay. Also last season, the person who won SHOULD NOT HAVE WON, in my humble opinion, so we'll see what happens this time.

Work of Art! Wednesdays on Bravo! It's artistic.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Last night, I ... I ...

I bought some air. In a can.

I KNOW. I am old enough to remember when bottled water first became popular, and I would laugh at the idea that people would PAY for WATER. What's next, buying AIR?

Yeah. Last night I bought some air.

I can explain!

You see, the kittens are being kept in the spare bedroom. I put a screen door on the frame so that I could check in on them, and I put a latch on the door so they could not get out. But it got so every time I came to the door, they would charge it, and when I OPENED the door, they'd all go flying out into the rest of the house, which is really not good since they are supposed to be in quarantine until all their leukemia tests come back negative.

So! I'd have three manic kittens tearing around the house, and I'd pick up one and plop it back in the room, then pick up ANOTHER and open the door to put IT back in the room and Kitten #1 would go flying out again, and ... yeah. A regular three-kitten circus.

I thought about squirting them with a water pistol when they charged the door, but the idea of cleaning up wet carpeting several times a day didn't really appeal to me. And I didn't want the kittens getting wet and possibly cold. And then I remember reading somewhere about somebody who used a can of compressed air - the stuff you use to clean computer keyboards - and spraying the kittens with air to discourage them.

So! After work I stopped and bought a can of air (sob), and went home, and went to the kitten room, and when they charged the door I gave 'em the old air. Psssssst! Psssssst!

Well. Samson and Delilah just stood there, stunned, for a second, and then flew under the bed. Dumplin, bless his heart, stood his ground, all, "aaahhhhh! A refreshing breeze!" So I psssst'd him again, and this time he scooted.

Success! But then I felt like an axe murderer, because when I went in the room, the kittens were all, "What WAS that? Why did you DO that to us? You SCARED us!"

So, I guess I'd have to call it a qualified victory. Yes, it gets them away from the door, but it also scares the shit out of them.

Plus? The air? Is, like, SEVEN BUCKS A CAN. For AIR.

Whoever thought of THAT is making a fortune.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Poetry in motion

You know how all those foster cat bloggers get tons of great action shots of their kitties? Ones that show every little whisker as the kittens leap into the air after toys? (Robyn, I'm looking at YOU.) Yeah, here's what happens when I try that:

Let's see, that would be black blur in the lower left, gray blur, and Delilah, looking blurrily away from the camera.

I've tried the action setting on my camera, which generally works great for motion shots, but I just ... can't ... get the pic.

Gray blur and Delilah, almost in focus:

Gray blur again ... oh, heck, you get the blurry picture. I'm starting to feel a little seasick, myself.

You know when's the ONE time that the cats stop moving for TWO SECONDS so I can get a non-blurry picture?

Yep. Dinnertime. Bon appetit, guys.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kitten Sittin'

So yeah, I decided to foster again. Because I am INSANE. And here is what the kitten truck delivered to my door:

That's Delilah. She is twelve weeks old or so. She and her brother were found by the side of Route 12, a busy road. She is a brat, a drama queen, and too damn cute. Look how the polka-dots on her side swirl into a circle! Too. Cute.

Here's her brother, Samson:

Sammy is everybody's buddy.

And here's little Dumplin:

Dumplin is only six weeks old.

(Oh! As an aside, I did not pick these names. They were named by the foster coordinator. If there are three names that I would be LEAST likely to name a cat, it would be these. Plus, every time I try to say "Dumplin", it comes out "Pumpkin" or "Bumpkin" or "Dumpin", so there's that. Cut me some slack.)

So! Dumplin is six weeks old. He weighs ... nothing. Okay, okay, maybe he weighs ... as much as a feather. Seriously, it's like picking up a handful of furry air.

And how is Little Girl dealing with this invasion, you ask? Little Girl has chosen to believe that there are NO KITTENS IN THE SPARE ROOM, oh no there are no kittens in there at all nononono. Kitten? What's a kitten?

She's doing okay. She gives the ol' stink eye to the spare room every time she goes near it, because she can SMELL and HEAR that there's something in there, but I put up a screen door in the spare room door frame and covered the bottom half with posterboard, so she can't actually SEE that there are k-words in there. And that's the way she prefers it.

And there you have it. Samson, Delilah and Dumplin. All available for adoption right here in Upstate New York, so come get your kittens! They're waiting for you!

(and you can change their names once you adopt. I PROMISE.)

Sneak Peek

Let the games begin!

Friday, October 07, 2011


Seen in my neighborhood cemetery:

Okay, so Wife Number 1 dies first, then Hubby, then Wife Number 2. Who decided on the pecking order on the gravestone? At first I assumed it was Hubby, but he was not the last to go; Wife Number 2 was. But I can't imagine Wife Number 2 being fine with Wife Number 1 being on there, so now I'm just confused. As always, you can click on the pic to enlarge it.

This was the oldest stone I found on this visit:

One thing that strikes you about old cemeteries is the amount of people who died really, really young back then:

I think there's as many kids buried in this cemetery as there are adults. Life was tough in the old days. Oh, and you might want to give these headstones some thought the next time some nutjob starts raving about the evils of vaccination.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The mushrooms shall inherit the earth

That thing's as big as my dang head. Yikes.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

I'm just waiting on a friend

On Saturday, three little kittens will be coming to visit with Little Girl and I.

Wait! Wait! I can explain!

If you've been reading here a while, you may recall how The Runt died suddenly in April. And then Little Girl was diagnosed with heart disease, the same thing that killed her brother.

And then Little Girl went on meds and improved tremendously, and I decided to try to find her a cat companion, as she missed her brother so.

Well. A couple of disastrous attempts at adoption followed, and I decided to give it a break.

And then I read about a new cat-rescue group starting up. And they were looking for foster homes for kittens. And I thought, that could be a possibility. If I fostered, Little Girl would get a chance to meet potential companions on a limited basis. If she didn't like them, they would go on to the adoption center. If she DID like one, I could adopt it as her new companion. Hmmm ...

I KNOW, right? Trying this again is like going back to an asshole ex-boyfriend. You know you shouldn't do it, and you're embarrassed to admit it to your friends, but you just can't help yourself.

I called the rescue group. I explained the situation with Little Girl and I. They were willing to meet my terms.

And so on Saturday morning, Samson and Delilah, two twelve-week-olds, will be coming to visit. Along with Dumplin*, a six week old boy, who evidently became attached to the other two when they were staying at the foster coordinator's home. They need a place to stay until the adoption center has room for them. They will be staying in my spare bedroom while Little Girl gets to know them. If she doesn't like them, if they scare her, if she starts to stress out, they will move on. If she DOES like them, well ... one may be staying. But I'm not counting on that at all. I'm not counting on anything right now.

And I can just SEE you guys out there, shaking your heads in disgust, wondering what in the hell is WRONG with me for trying again.

I don't know what's wrong with me. I just know that I have to try.

Another crackpot scheme, about to hatch.

*WHO picks out these NAMES? Gah.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The M Word

Okay, menfolk, we are going to talk about lady stuff this morning, so you've been warned. Go leaf through an issue of Popular Mechanics or something.

So! I had to go to the doctor today for my annual lady-parts exam, which had extra-added-fun-ness because they were working on the building's heating system and it was FREEZING in there.

And! The nice lady doctor oh-so-delicately broached the subject of


oh hell I'll say it



Wow. Just - I can't possibly be old enough for that shit yet, right? RIGHT?

Right. Probably not yet. But she ran some ... tests... and said that there are some indicators that that particular choo-choo is heading down the tracks.

Which - yay, right? I mean, I've been on depo all these years because the great, overriding blessing of depo is no menstruation. And with menopause, no more periods! yay!

But then again, that means I'm old, right? Too old to pop out any kids, that's for damn sure. Although I spent my entire adult life avoiding getting pregnant, so there's that.

I just seem too ... young, somehow.

And now you guys are all howling with laughter and getting "old geezer" t-shirts made up to send me, I know. Ha!

Shit. I don't mind getting old. I guess. It beats the damn alternative, that's for sure.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Well I tried to make it Sunday ...

... but I got so damn depressed, that I set my sights on Monday and I got myself undressed.*

Man, I'll tell you what, I just spent a weekend in the dumps.

I don't know why I was so blue ... Oh, I suspect the never-ending rain had something to do with it, but that can't be all of it. I just couldn't shake myself out of being down.

But! The alarm clock went off as scheduled this morning, and I swear, sometimes I think having a job to go to every morning is the only thing that keeps me from being a complete nutcase, so here I am, at my desk and feeling much better, thank you.

Maybe it's the time of year. I DO NOT LIKE getting up in the dark. Blech.

How's everybody else this morning? Feeling fine? I sure hope so.

*Sister Golden Hair by America. Like you didn't know that already.