Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tuna Saved Dolphin

I really like the actor Brendon Fraser. There is just something about him. For a tall white guy he is really stunning. Since I like his movies, I decided to buy one of those 5 dollar DVD's from the bin at Walmart a few years ago, because it starred Brendan Fraser. I figured it would be worth it just to try something new. The movie was Bedazzled and I've probably watched it 50 times since I bought it!

It's about a nerdy guy who runs into the Devil played by Elizabeth Hurley, and gets some wishes to change his life so this woman will fall in love with him. It is quite funny and thought provoking: not your usual shallow plot.

It has so many 'favorite parts' that I may as well say that the entire move is my favorite part, but I especially like the ending song...with the lyrics "If you want to change your life, change your mind!"

Hey, Hey
Did you ever think There might be another way
To just feel better,

Just feel better about today
Oh no If you never want to have
To turn and go away
You might feel better,
Might feel better if you stay

Yeah yeah I bet you haven't heard A word I've said
Yeah yeah If you've had enough
Of all your tryin'
Just give up The
state of mind you're in…

If you want to be somebody else,
If you're tired of fighting battles with yourself
If you want to be somebody else
Change your mind...

Hey hey

Have you ever
danced in the rain
Or thanked the sun Just for shining- just for shining
Or the sea? Oh no- take it all in
The world's a show
And yeah, you look much better,
Look much better when you glow

And the other song I like is the Dolphin Safe Tuna song. It contains the lyrics

"Eeeee-eeeee-eeeeeh-eeeh-eeeh" etc; Sung in fluent Dolphin.

Sometimes just for kicks I roam around the house singing the Dolphin Song. I was being pestered by Jeff yesterday and I started singing the Dolphin Song. I told him that the Dolphins were going to hear it and come along and save me. He said, Yeah, because they are flying around outside your apartment right now, Flying Life Saver Dolphins.

But I told him, that's what Dolphins do. Haven't you ever heard of Dolphin Saved Tuna?

Eeeeeee! Eeeee-eeee-eeee-eeee Eeeee!

Saturday, September 29, 2007


One of the amazing things about California is that jade plants grow on trees! Or rather, they grow into gigantic proportions and are used as SHRUBBERY! Back where I come from, jade plants are painstakingly grown in pots and must be protected from all kinds of weather. They seem to take years and years just to grow an inch and although I love them, who has time for that? It's too much of a commitment; like raising a child! It could take decades and you never know how it's going to turn out. Instead of becoming a surgeon, he/she could become a derelict hobo and never move out of your garage.

Normally, I am opposed to plants in pots inside the house. No matter how pretty the plant, it just seems like a pot of dirt in your home! I already have a dusty, dirty litter box, why would I sign up for more pots of dirt? Especially since I kill plants. I murder them. I rot their little feet and I never give them nourishment. Again...sooo happy I never had children!

But last year my neighbor Gerry the Gay Gardener pruned his giant 4 foot jade plant and I got one of the cuttings. Either that or I surreptitiously snapped off a limb as I walked by in the dark when nobody was looking, secreting it into my capacious handbag of more than ordinary size and volume.

I stuck it into some dirt and left it alone, and Viola! it grew and grew and thrived. I completely NEVER watered it and it remained happy and content.

Then, I have this little habit of snapping off a bit of rosemary every time I walk by some. Out here in California, rosemary grows on trees! It's HUGE! It has little blueberry looking flowers on it and in certain light it looks like the same grey/silver color as a Russian Blue cat. I love the stuff, and you can use it in Rosemary bread. For that, I can countenance having it grow in a pot of dirt inside my house.

Propagating rosemary has turned out to be an entirely different thing than propagating a jade plant, however. I've had the rosemary in water for weeks and weeks and no little roots have shooted out of the bottom. Roots should shoot, right? A quick search of the Internet showed me that rosemary needs something called Hormone Root Growth and vermiculite and strangulation or distressing or something like that. I see that as the equivalent of having to buy diapers and baby food and bibs and things and that's just not me.

I decided to just stick it into some dirt and leave it alone, and since the jade plant had gotten bigger than the pot it was in and was becoming root bound and top heavy, I formulated my plan.

Outside, at the end of the building where Gerry the Gay Gardener used to live, there was a clay pot and drain dish that had originally been mine the last time I tried to grow a plant indoors. When it died, I left it for Gerry and he had used it and then left it behind when he moved. It has spent the last years living a dirtbag life as an ashtray so yesterday I politely asked the neighbors if they would mind if I used it for it's intended purpose. Or, maybe I just snuck down there after they had gone to work, dumped out the cigarette butts and brought it home surreptitiously in my capacious handbag. You may see it as depriving the smoking community of a vessel for their butts; I see it as a rescue mission.

So I repotted the jade plant into the bigger pot, thus freeing up the original one for my rosemary propagation project. It looks really good, too! Now, if I can just remember completely never to water it!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Restaurant Memories

I am sitting here drinking a good, strong cup of Irish Breakfast Assam tea--truly a morning blend of strength, energy and bold flavor if ever there was one--and pondering the whole idea of bad restaurants.

Why? Because last night I watched the premiere of Kitchen Nightmares the new Chef Gordon Ramsey show. I adore me some Chef Ramsey! Yes, he cusses like a motherf***er and rants and raves like he's straight from Bedlam, but how can you resist that British Boy Charm and the fact that he really CARES about the food he serves?

Chefs throughout history have been known for their delicate sensibilities and artistic temperaments, and he is the Chef of Chefs! I was already a fan of Hell's Kitchen and now I am a fan of Kitchen Nightmares. It was just so much FUN to watch that greasy, poisonous dive be turned into a first-class fabulous establishment!

I just cannot believe that restaurants exist with rats, cockroaches, green rotting hamburger meat and really greasy-greasy kitchen equipment. Actually, I do believe it because now that I think about it, I've never worked in a clean restaurant kitchen. My first official job was a cook in an old style roadside truck stop; one of those "We Never Close" eateries from before there was such a thing as frozen shoestring hash browns. This place boiled and peeled about a bazillion real potatoes every night for the next day's shift, and made all it's pies and cakes from scratch right there in the kitchen.

But it was known to serve ham so old it had gotten that gasoline-slick rainbow sheen on it's surface and the owner made us rescue the uneaten yeast rolls from the diner's plates and reuse them!

And my first local-dining experience in Las Vegas led me to the firm belief that 'off the beaten path' was NOT a good idea in Nevada. Best to stick with the casino food and those fresh and plentiful buffets. I had gone with friends to a barbecue joint, and had gotten some chicken that had turned. You know, where it starts to taste dusty and entirely too chicken-y! I told the waitress that I thought the chicken was bad and I'd like to send it back and order something else, and she told me, "You can't send it back! You've bitten into it and so now we can't reuse it!"

I kid you not! And even here in the mecca of Fresh Foods in the Land of California Cuisine, I've had some iffy experiences. I will never again order Chinese from the kiosk deli's at local grocery stores. I ordered garlic chicken once, and upon biting into it discovered that it had a previous life as Generals Chicken (with red sauce) and was just re-coated and used over, one assumes, in an effort to cut costs and not let anything go to waste. But there is no mistaking weeks old, dried, gamy chicken. Yuck!

Still, even after a host of bad dining experiences, I really love to eat out! If I had unlimited funds and all the time in the world, I'd work my way through every restaurant in Sacramento. I am forever seeing a little, interesting place tucked into a side street or on the first floor of an old Victorian. Thai, Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants alone could keep me busy for a year!

And I feel like it's a real shame that some of these places will come and go before I ever get the chance to eat there. It seems like the privately owned, unique restaurants are closing to make way for yet another upscale, trendy, brand-name joint. And yes, I mean YOU, Starbucks, who have now populated every single street in midtown, spreading like a yeast infection and killing off all the healthy alternatives. Starbucks, where they BURN THEIR BEANS, and call it Dark Roast.

Oops, I digressed. What I started to say is that on last night's news I saw the shocking story that Carrows on J Street has closed it's doors forever. I've eaten dozens of breakfasts there, hunched over a bottomless cup of coffee with my friend the author, Peter S. Beagle. It was the place we met on the morning of 9/11. The management opened the banquet room and turned on a television so we could all watch the coverage together. I was just devastated to hear that it is being torn down to make way for downtown parking.

Downtown parking. Another parking garage that nobody can ever afford to use. And goodbye to the old standard family restaurant. It just makes me wonder...where will all the cockroaches live now?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I'm kind of in tomato hell right now, but when life gives you tomatoes...make Tomato-ade! That's Right! I looked in my fridge and found it empty. I looked in the cupboard and it was bare, except for 3 cans of diced peeled tomatoes. So I was off to the food bank to restock the shelves, the poverty shelves of woe!

And I came home with one giant can of tomatoes, one regular can of tomato sauce, and a HUGE tub of diced, peeled tomatoes, hermetically sealed, probably used in restaurant buffets for sandwich making.

Since there is no way in heck that I can possibly have use for that many tomatoes, I decided it was time to make some spagetti sauce.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

The other thing I got was a half gallon of milk, a half gallon of buttermilk, and one of those industrial sized tubs of plain yogurt. When life gives you entirely too many lactose-containing substances and you are lactose intolerant...make cheese!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Autumn Reverie

Unlike families who took summer vacations and headed for the beaches and lake cottages, my family always seemed to head out in the fall. We'd load up the Trail 90's and the camping gear and head for the Ghoul Haunted Woodlands of Weir. Up along the Maumee or the Elkhart rivers, we'd camp where Dad had tromped when he was a lad. He'd take us to the Nazbee Dam, the Mongo General Store (where we'd buy interesting dried things like mushrooms in jars and penny candy) and to the depths of the woods where there were natural springs coming out of the ground for us to drink the cold, clear water.

We'd camp in the rain and the mist, get soaking wet, have damp feet and freeze to death in the wee hours of the morning, waiting for the fire to take hold and warm us.

I'd probably perish of ague and misery if I did that now, but I still can smell the air and the campfire and the woods and the damp earth, when it turns autumn and I remember Indiana.

Monday, September 24, 2007

One Dollah! One Dollah!

There is something about those Dollar Stores that are impossible to pass up! Have you noticed this? I think it stems from old, old carnival memories where you would spend quarter after quarter on the Pick Up the Ducks game just so you could get yourself one of those Chinese Handcuffs that probably only cost a penny to begin with.

There may be many more reasons, and there must be, because those Dollar Tree, 98 Cent Store, Dollar Generals, etc; are cropping up everywhere. There is a new one in my neighborhood, and I have to pass by it on my way to almost anywhere. Pass it by is just a figure of speech, you understand. There is rarely a 'pass by' with these stores. There is just too much in there of vital interest.

My belief is, there is a REASON that each and every item is in the 98 cent store rather than gracing the shelves of the more upscale, pricey retail venues. And it’s usually because it’s lead based candy, tainted tin dishware or WARNING: Heavy Cobalt china. Or some other malfunction, like the incredible upscale RED pizza cutter I got for a mere 98 cents, only to discover that the handle is kind of hollow and it traps water so when you pick it up, a rain of old stale water drizzles out of it onto the floor, or the tops of my feet or all over the pizza.

But that’s how they get you! Only a buck! And before you know it, you've got a cartload of items you just cannot live without. Go ahead, try and put some of them back some time. You just can’t! Well, I was able to forgo the new frying pan because upon inspecting the non-stick surface, I could see that it was just black paint and not Teflon like I thought. Who creates a faux non-stick surface frying pan? It boggles the mind!

I put the pan back but then I spotted the 8 sided nail buffer file in multi-colors and I was just smitten so I didn't end up saving a dollar after all.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Too Many Downs

I have been soooo tired lately that there has been not lone iota of energy left over for a blog post.

Friday night was almost devoid of sleep entirely because the Happy Homeless next door decided to get into a fist-fight. I heard a brawl and ignored it, but when I heard a woman's screams I thought I'd better get up, head for the window and call 911 at the same time.

Sure enough, I could see the male beating the female's face with all his might, like she was a punching bag instead of a human being.

Needless to say the entire neighborhood came out for this one, and most of us stood around and vented with each other for the next several hours. As well has having to give statements to the police and everything.

But of course the upshot will be that the female won't press charges: she only has him for protection on the mean streets, if you can call a busted cheekbone a gesture of protection, and her last words that I heard as he was tearing off down the alley with all their worldly goods on a shopping cart in order to avoid capture by the police were, "Do you mean you are leaving me?"

Well, that's how I feel about the world anyway, sometimes. A certain amount of face beating is an acceptable trade-off for the part where things go right and I feel safe and protected.

There are a lot of downs in this life. I don't really like to call a spade a daisy. But the other day I ran into one of those 'positive viber' people at the physical therapists. There was a mishap with her paperwork, there was no sign of her account much less that she had pre-paid and could have her appointment on time, and on top of it, when the nurse called over to the doctor's to have a copy of her file sent down, they had lost it on their end.

"Oh no," I commiserated, "Now they've lost your file, too? Isn't that just typical of the medical field?"

"I try to think positively!" she quipped in a snippy, lofty yet repressive tone.

Hmmph. I told her, "It's a little too late for that, isn't it?"

Because really, sometimes it's just too late to be positive!

And then there is football. Talk about a lot of downs! Do they really need so many downs in the game? Couldn't they have some UPS and some Downs? And as if it isn't bad enough that they are constantly having downs, they always have to call them FIRST downs.

Now, I don't know what part of outer Slovaniakia you are from, but here in America, something labeled FIRST usually means it's the first of Many, but there is only one thing called FIRST. After that , it becomes second, third, fourth, and Another. But in Football, it's just one First Down after another. Once in a while they will have a second down and a third but after the 4th down they start right back over with First Down again.

Me, I just want One Down and then no more downs for a while. I'm going to think positive and figure that witnessing the woman-beating will count as my Down and there will be some UPS now.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Housebreaking the Homeless

There has been a bit of hoopla around here lately with the church next door. They've decided to allow a small group of homeless people to sleep on the porch at the side of the church, where there is a nice overhang and they can be protected from the wind and weather.

They did not provide them, however, with food, rules about being quiet after dark, or a bathroom facility. Consequently, they've had the police called on them already for drunken and lewd behavior (how many times in the wee hours do you want to hear the words "NIGGER! and "MOTHERF**KER" yelled to the accompanying sounds of breaking beer bottles?)

But the bathroom issue is the worst. Because, being grateful for the wee bit of shelter, they are polite enough not to want to do their business on the church they wander over to mine! They've been using the little dirt patch between the end of my building and the dumpster for their toilet. They even put a little bag of toilet paper out there on the ledge of the fence, so they could have it handy.

Understandably, the landlord is incensed. He feels that that if you are going to take responsibility for SLEEPING quarters, you need to make provisions for that other basic Human Need, as well. I am in agreement. It only took 3 days of 3 people's bowel movements to render the back of the building unsanitary and probably hazardous with disease.

The rains have come at last. My favorite time of the year around here. I awoke in the night to the pitter-patter, ping, ping, ping of raindrops on the tin heater vents in the roof. When I looked out into the churchyard next door I could see the huddled mass of those poor souls through the rain and mist.

Even though I'm not fond of this group: too drunk, too foul-mouthed and too interested in partying hard every night, I still felt they should have something hot and energizing first thing in the morning. I made a kettle of tea with cream and sugar and took it over to them and passed it all around. I guess I wanted them to start their day with a diuretic.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


The other day, while sitting in the lounge at the physical therapy where Miss Kitty was riding the stationary bicycle, I happened to overhear a conversation which I Swan I did NOT make up. I know I'm creative (although I never compliment myself, my friends think I am very creative indeed) but I couldn't have thought of this on my own!

Two men dressed in painters pants and caps and t-shirts covered in various layers and hues of paint came into the receptionists desk to ask a question or two. I heard the receptionist say, "The info you need is over there on that pink roster taped to the wall."

The one painter dude said, "I don't know which one that is, Ma'am. I'm color blind."

A color blind painter. It just boggles the mind!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I Love My Self

In a recent conversation with Cousin Owbow (yes, that's her name! Rhymes with Bow-Wow), I started thinking about the idea of boredom. Cousin Owbow does not like to be alone. She gets bored. And she can get downright freaked out if she has to be alone with nothing to do or nothing planned for the immediate future to keep her mind occupied. She is not naturally an introspective person (would you be with a name like that?) and I have always noticed that sitting still and thinking causes her to make a panicked dive for the Xanax bottle, as if her head might explode if she doesn't sedate her self quickly!

I, on the other hand am only bored in company , and I'm never miserable to be alone. I do not get lonely from being alone! I think this is because with others, there is always the fine tension wire of interaction to worry about. There is a need for finding accord with them, or at the very least, a mutual understanding of differences. It can get tedious. It can get boring.

When alone by myself, I am in perfect harmony with my own thoughts! It's delightful! It's restful! Think about it. Who else can you find who is in such total agreement with everything you think and feel?

Just driving down the road the other day, sputtering mentally about something, I realized I was getting a total kick out of telling myself I was justified to be that indignant! I agree with me! I like my own thoughts! I'm infatuated with my sense of humor! No matter how long, winding, meandering and tangential my discourses, I hang up on my every word and never tire of listening!

It's like those phone conversations where you can't wait to hang up and get back to what you were doing. I NEVER hang up on myself! If I want a snack, I want one too! If I really feel like laying on the sofa, I agree that laying down for a bit is the perfect choice for me at that moment.

Even on the days when I am not witty, charming, delightful and precious, I am a great companion. I can be a comatose zombie and that's all right by me.

So what is there to be bored about? I can get a little twitchy when I hear others tell me the SAME story for the 20th time about how they flew to Hawaii that time instead of Mexico because they got on the wrong darn airplane, but I still enjoy running through the mental slide show of my Mexican journeys, even after thousands and thousands of repeats.

So all I'm saying is, think about it the next time you are bored and lonely. You've got a built-in best friend in total accord with your every thought, whim, feeling, need and emotion! Start enjoying yourself!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Boys and Girls are Different!

I haven't posted in a few days because I've had a house guest, and I had forgotten just how much time is involved in picking up after someone! I LIKE living alone! Just this morning, AFTER having done the breakfast dishes, I found 4 drinking glasses in 4 different locations because my guest is a bit of a messy ditherer. There was a glass by her bedside, by the computer, on the windowsill and over by the phone. All I can think is that she gets thirsty, has a sip of water, sets the glass down and forgets it exists, instantly. Then, a bit later gets thirsty again and gets a glass of water. Rinse and Repeat.

When she first arrived a few days ago we went to Target for some sundry items and saw these cute hot pink undies that were too expensive to purchase. Later, when she was out visiting elsewhere, I ran to the WalMart and saw the Exact Panties for 2 bucks each on sale, so I just HAD to pick up a pair and I got a pair for her also. Because they were too cute to pass up at that price!

Yesterday, while hanging with my hoodlum friend in prison, I told him how I'd found these bargain prices on the same exact undies and had to get both Pearl and myself a pair.

There was a stunned silence. "You bought Pearl some cute undies?" he asked incredulously.

"Yes," I was puzzled, "What's wrong with that?"

He said, "It's just that I cannot imagine any situation EVER in which any one of my guy friends would be out shopping and think, "I've just GOT to buy my buddy one of these jock straps."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I Never Compliment Myself

I have stolen this blog idea from reading Bitchypoo's (link on the right) comments from yesterday's post. She talks about the way she and her husband have cute sayings that catch on between them, and then she opens up her comments to find out what are other's little pet sayings. I laughed so hard that I went back later and reread all of them so I could laugh that hard again.

So I thought I'd talk about a lifetime's worth of fun, pet sayings! My Dad was a great one for quoting songs, Burma-Shave jingles and who knows what else. Shakespeare even came into play a time or two. He'd always tell us up on leaving the house, "Watch it on the corners!" which still guides me to this day. And no matter what time of year, if we reached a rough spot, he would say, "Put your head down low and take a run in the snow....and never give up, never give up, never give up."

On a blood-chilling note, he always said these scary words when we passed a certain stretch of highway on old Route#3 that wound through the countryside and farmlands of Northern Indiana...."This is the Forest Primeval. The Ghoul Haunted Woodlands of Weir!" Ooooh! It still pops into my mind anytime I get near a stand of trees that look dark and too ominous to explore without serious firepower and extra flashlight batteries.

But on a sillier note, the family went around for years saying, "I ain't et for 50 yars and I'm HONGRY!"

And it is obligatory that for weeks after Thanksgiving, at any mention of leftovers, someone has to say, in a Chinese accent "Turkey for breakfast, turkey for dinner, turkey for midnight snack! SO SICK OF TURKEY!" (No clay pot for YOU!)

If someone is acting up we say, "Step away from the Cage! Don't try to feed her anything!"

All on my own, I have a plethora of fun repetitive sayings that I never grow tired of! Others may tire of them, but I do not! For instance I am awfully fond of saying, "Powers...waining...must....drink....TEA!" in a strangled and weary tone.

But my all time favorite has to be the quote from the movie version of Jane Austin's Emma, where the conceited and self-centered newlywed Mrs. Elton spouts these wonderful words, "I never compliment myself...but my friends say I certainly know how to make a sandwich!"
Never complimenting myself has become my own particular catch-phrase! And I never compliment myself quite often!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Soothing Soup Season

I love a good soup when the weather gets colder. It's so hearty and filling and warm. There is nothing as soothing as chicken soup when you have a cold or the flu, and a butternut cream soup is just unbelievably refreshing. And of course there is the Lobster Bisque, the Crab bisque, the Lobster and Crab Bisque...

So when Miss Kitty wanted to get some soups for her sour tummy, I was all for it. Nudging her to try different things is one of my job tasks so I thought this would be a good opportunity to implement that. Let me explain that Miss Kitty is only 63 years old, but 22 years ago she had a massive stroke that left her paralyzed on her right side and somewhat dinghy in the head. But I love her and she's a lot of fun to take care of.

She can be a little balky at times, and of course she's been spoiled rotten because of her disability. That is something I don't agree with. Yes, someone should be treated special and carefully, but they should not be encouraged to be lax, lazy and dependant. It hurts them in the long run and once indulged, it's hard to go back.

She can also make up the most outrageous lies when she doesn't want to do something. For instance, her neighbor asked her to come over sometimes, and she became insulted. She felt that the neighbor was not giving enough attention to the fact that she has a leg brace and must walk with a cane. She decided that crossing the street to her neighbor's house would endanger her. She might get kidnapped. Honest to Gosh! She has it all figured out that if she walks across the street to her neighbors she will get snatched.

I want to tell her, "Nobody would WANT you!" which would give her a laugh but I refrain.

So off we go to the grocery and I show her the Safeway Homestyle soups that come in a big quart sized plastic container, all ready to be reheated and they are delicious. She decided that the chicken and wild rice would be the one for her.

Does anybody remember the story about the Bug Lights?

The next week when we went to get groceries, Miss Kitty announced she loved the soup and was ready for more. So we went to the soup aisle and she looked carefully through each can of soup until she found the Progresso Chicken and Wild Rice in the zip-top can. (This was a big win a while ago when I convinced her that food came in pop-tops now, just like the soda she guzzles, and therefore she COULD open a can of mandarins, for instance.) She picked out 4 cans of Progresso Chicken and Wild Rice soup. Then she scooted a foot down the aisle to the Campbell Soups. And selected 4 cans of Campbell's Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. I could see this danger approaching but was powerless to stop it.

She then went to the instant soups and selected 4 cartons of... Chicken and Wild Rice soup.

I tried my best. I said, "Miss Kitty! This is a delicious soup but along about day 3 of eating it, you are going to wish you had some plain old Tomato Soup. Don't you want to get a few other flavors of soup?"

"No, because I can't get those kinds open. They are too hard."

So I let it go, because you have to pick your battles and it won't make any difference in the long run if those hundreds of cans of Chicken and Wild Rice soup sit in her pantry gathering dust, waiting for the Apocalypse. Right next to the bug lights.

As we headed for checkout with the 500 lb. shopping cart I was now pushing due to all the canned soups, she spotted the kiosk with the Safeway Homestyle soups. With Glee she raced over there (and I do mean raced! She uses a wheelchair for outings and she can go FAST.) and pointed to the Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. "That's the Kind!" she squealed, "That's the Kind I want!" Into the cart goes TWO big quart containers of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup.

When we got home there was quite a dither about putting all these canned goods away, but we managed. We had just sat down on the sofa's for a little down time when the doorbell rang. It was the lovely Mrs. Patty from next door. In her hand was a covered saucepan.

"How are you Mrs. Patty? And what's in the saucepan?"

"Why I'm just fine, thank you! I've brought Miss Kitty some soup, because she told me she had a taste for some!"

She opened the lid so we could see and smell the wonderful aroma of homemade Chicken and Wild Rice soup.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Moron of the Sea

As I stated earlier this week, I am helping good old Patrick to sell this boat by posting an ad on Craigslist. It's how I sold all my furniture, china and worldly goods, so I'm experienced. Although I never compliment myself, I know all my friends say I know my way around a witty post.

In this particular case, I am totally unable to answer any questions about this boat and so the ad clearly states "Do not reply to this posting by email, Please use the phone number listed below in LARGE PRINT." And at the bottom of the ad it says, "Please don't email me any questions about this boat for sale. Call Patrick, as he is the Boating Answer Man, and the one who is selling this boat."

So, you know where this is going, right? I received the following email:

Does this come with the slip? Fee’s
How close is the parking?
When was the last marine survey of the hull?
Last time out the water for painting?
Has it been used for both fresh and salt water?

Now, never mind about the oddly worded "slip? Fee's" because I often? question what I'm saying before I finish my? Sentence's. But the kinds of questions this person asks reminds me of the old saying " A little knowledge is a dangerous? Thing."

So I had to write this fella back and try my best to answer the questions he had asked of me: The Nautically Impaired Advice Chick.

First of all, for those of you not 'in the boating know', the size of boat in question here is 39' long. It is an actual Ocean Going Wessel, so it's not one of those you can load on your little boat trailer and take home each weekend to park in your driveway to annoy your neighbors because all your cars then have to go on the street since there's no room for them. No, this kind of boat needs to be docked in the water and that involves paying rent on a parking space, or as we sea-lubber's like to call it, a slip.

Most people buying a car, for instance, do not inquire of the used dealer if the price of the car includes a paid parking space somewhere. Usually, a person is on their own when it comes to parking garages, meters, and paid lots. It's just never included in the price of the car.

So my answer to the slip? Fee's question would have to be a NO! Boats and Cars are not normally sold with free parking included.

Second Question: How Close is the parking?

Well, you moron. That would depend. If you've just cruised on over to the Bahamas, you are not going to be that close to the pier where you left your car. If you are docked in the middle of the Sacramento River, you could perhaps drive right down to the shore and then take a dinghy across to your boat. But that's up to YOU. We cannot sell this boat with a guarantee of 'close parking'.

The third and fourth questions are actually sensible ones, but of course as I had said in the ad, he'd have to Ask Patrick.

Final Question: Has it been used for both fresh and salt water? Okay, please tell me you are laughing by? now. Because this is soooo silly! It's a MARINE TRAWLER. Big enough to go A-seaing! It actually requires a Captain and a CREW to run it smoothly. It hasn't been kept in your backyard swimming pool for it's entire life. There is a good chance that it has been in SALT WATER at some point since it's maiden launch back in 1977. And since it's currently docked in the Sacramento River, that means it has been in Fresh Water, too! But this is like asking, "That used BMW you are selling...Has it been on freeways and city streets?" Like isn't this kind of a no-brainer?

I don't know. I've never bought a boat, nor am I likely too. All Things Nautical are a Mystery to me, and a damp, musty smelling one at that. But I know for sure that if I was contemplating a boat purchase, I would be asking how many miles were on the engine; if there was clear title to the deed of ownership; will you take payments or help me finance somehow; some indication as to the maintenance history, etc; And I'd be asking if I could take it for a test drive.

Actually, to be honest, I'd probably ask if the galley came stocked with cool anchor-imprinted china and a silver Captain's Tea Set.

Does the boat come with a Salty Dog?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Crossing Kansas

On a recent visit to the local hoosegow, I happened to stand in line with a lady who had the most amazing story. This was her first time visiting her pen pal in prison. She was a nervous wreck. I remembered the first time I ever entered a prison as a guest (NOT an inmate, thank you very much! I've never even had an overdue library book much less a few felony arrests!) and how kind all the ladies were to me who were 'regular's' going to visit their sons, boyfriends, brothers or husbands.

This ladies' name was Minna and she had flown all the way from England! She had never been in the states before. I thought this was so brave of her. She said, Not that brave because she made her ex-husband come along and do all the driving! I had to laugh because, well, if I had an ex-husband (still living) I'd make him drive me in England if I ever went there! They drive on the wrong side of the road, over there! Scary!

Minna told me the reason she had decided to come was because she is going blind, and may never get the chance to actually SEE her friend if she didn't make the trip now while she still could. We chatted for the entire time we stood outside, and it was so fun and interesting, it made the time pass quickly. There is always an obligatory 30 minute waiting period before the visitation center opens each morning. They can't help themselves, restrictions and frustrations are their job.

Then Minna told me something that really astounded me. She said they did not fly into Sacramento as I had assumed, but rather they flew into LAX so she could drive through California and see a little bit of the country. When I asked her what she thought, she teared up and said, "It was so overwhelming! I never knew there were so many wide open spaces left in the world!" I thought of the miles and miles of lonely grassland prairie and ranchland between Sacramento and LA, and said, "Welcome to the Wild, Wild West."

And then I told her, "Good thing you didn't fly into Wichita!" It's my belief you can become mentally ill from driving across Kansas. The first time I took that long lonely route with nothing but endless stretches of wheatfields for as far as the eye could see, I got vertigo! I thought I might just fall off the face of the earth, as there didn't seem to be anything to hold onto! I want trees, rolling hills and comforting mountains on my horizons.

When the doors were opened and we had passed through the various security checkpoints, I walked with Minna across the stretch of 'no man's lawn' between the visitation building and the prison yards. She was a total wreck, but I told her it was okay to be nervous. When those metal bars go clanging behind you and you are in a cage for a moment before they open the inner door to let you out, it is very frightening. Then you wish you WERE in Kansas some more, Toto!

After seeing Minna safely past the Officer's Desk to the B Yard visiting room, I went on into A Yard where my fella is housed. I realized later that I felt very sorry that I was not going to get to hear the rest of the story! I would never know how her visit went and if it had a happy ending! But I was so glad to have met someone so intrepid and willing to go such a distance to meet a friend.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


I’ve been trying to understand football. You know, I just don’t GET it. Each year at the beginning of the season, I have a desultory desire to pay attention to the games so that I can at least have a passing clue as to what is going on. But it is as foreign to me as being plopped down on Mars in the midst of an alien race, speaking an alien language, living a plethora of alien concepts and having odd societal interactions.

For one thing, tell me how this is different than organized, legalized gang warfare? Everyone has their ‘colors’ and their secret signals and their need to defend and support their ‘team/gang’ at all costs. I’m just saying!

Right now there is a team in black jerseys and white Capri pants fighting over a ball with some guys in blue shirts and white Capri pants. They have their gang signs proudly painted on their helmets as an added way to tell them apart. They seem to be numbered, and yet there is no apparent pecking order or sequence of importance to the numbers. For instance, it seems to me that #9 would be higher in gang-status than, say, #37. And of course #1 is nowhere to be seen because that guy is the gang leader and doesn't have to get his Capri Pants dirty. I am assuming he is up high in the bleachers behind one of those glassed in boxes that each team has.

But I am all wrong about how I interpret the meanings of numbers in football, and no one seems to be able to enlighten me. It's some 'initiates only' secret, I presume.

I try my best to follow the plays and the various posturing, shoving, running, and piling up on each other and I almost start to understand it but those male announcers will not SHUT UP for long enough to grasp what just happened. They Are Too Noisy! I actually think football might be kind of fun if everyone would just shut up for a bit. Can't they at least use their indoor voices?

After the game, and at intervals throughout the game, the male announcers will jabber back and forth in excited tones, making references to last season and this season’s ‘picks’ and 'yards' and 'first downs' all the while name dropping amongst each other like anything. They seem to do a lot of self-congratulating and agreeing with each other over the finer points of game strategy. Rather like brandishing their shields and flags at each other and doing a hoppity Zulu Dance.

Five minutes after the game is over, I can no longer remember who played, who won, or anything that went on. All I know is that I'm always hearing, "It's time for the Big Game!" Or, "I can't do that, I have to watch the BIG GAME." But the problem is, it's ALWAYS the Big Game!

And that business about the Game being over and the End of the Season is just a lot of hooey, too, because there is always another Big Game and another New Season just around the corner. No one REALLY ever wins in football, which is another reason I am convinced it's nothing but legalized gang warfare. Thank Goodness they aren't allowed to carry weapons!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Flying Bridge

me, in a rare nautical moment. I used to know how to tie that special knot, too, for docking!

I was up at the crack of Dawn this morning with my camera in tow, down at Old Sac to take pictures of Patrick's boat for sale on Craigslist. I had told him I'd do this for him just to give him more selling options than a sign in the window and an ad in the Bee.

It's a 1977 Trawler and quite lovely, or at least it once was. It needs a lot of wood polish and polyurethane. But for those who hear the call of the wild blue sea, this would make a lovely dream come true.

That little head you see peeping out there is "Trawler" the yellow lab.

Patrick knew I was coming, he was ready and waiting to give me the boat tour. So why, oh why didn't he clean up the kitchen? He's such a guy.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

DNA Don't Lie

I grew up looking hotter than a firecracker so I always assumed I would end up looking like Emmylou Harris when I became old:

Why not? I mean, I had the bone structure. I was thin and I had the hair.

But instead, I wound up looking like My Great Grandmother on the maternal side.

Just like the Rhythm, sooner or later your DNA is gonna get ya.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dora! The Explorah!

snoozing at 10 years old

I should have just figured that it was too unlikely that the guy who gave me the GREAT haircut last time over at the Great Clips would still be there today, 4 months later, when I went in for a cut. He had given me a very stylish layered symmetrical Aline that I got more compliments on than any other haircut in the last decade. But time slips away from me and I waited too long. That is always happening to me. I will drop into a shop that has been there for decades and I could swear I was just there a couple of weeks ago when Blam! Poof! It's dissapeared. When I ask about where it went I will be told it's been gone for 6 months or more.

Today, I drove out to the Dollar Tree only to discover it had moved on down, moved on down the road. When I asked the salesgirl how long ago they had moved to their new location--fully expecting her to tell me that it was just LAST WEEK, by golly!--she told me it was 3 months ago at least.

The same thing at the hair salon! I was astonished to learn it had been 16 weeks since my last New Doo! And even though the really great stylist was long gone, the same, bad attention-deficit girl that has always been there was still hanging around dispensing bad haircuts. Just my luck!

Now when it comes to haircuts I'm just not that picky. I can rarely afford a really GOOD cut and when I can, I can NEVER afford to pay that price twice for the same good cut! So I take my chances and roll the dice to see what I'll get at Great Clips. All I ask is that they do not make me look like a dyke for one, and a bowl-cut Amish for the other. I just don't see how those two simple guidelines could be that hard to adhere to, but apparently they are.

I went in there badly in need of a freshening-up of my layered Aline and left looking exactly like Dora! The Explorah! Only more dykeish.

It's almost hat season anyway. And there's always a bandana. Or a burkha.

While digging through my photos for something else entirely, I came across this picture of little Mackie. I had gotten him just a week or two before this pic was taken. It was my birthday party so he was wearing a bowtie. The first and only time he ever consented to that kind of nonsense.

some things never change!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Silly Strident Sibilant Sounds, Shredded

In honor of Labor Day, I thought I would post a picture of me actually doing some!

I was making the stepping stone patio where I used to live. I had so much fun making those wonderful tile-insets. I don't have a picture of the totally complete projected but here it is halfway through.

This weekend in Sacramento is a big one. You've got the State Fair, the Gold Rush Days, the Sutter Fort History Days and the Greek Festival. You've also got the Gay Pride Rainbow Gathering in the streets of midtown, right near the convention center where the Greek Festival is held. For my friends who were visiting from out of town, this was a bit confusing. All these pairs of men dressed in matching outfits, holding hands and waiving rainbow flags made my friend Coral feel troubled. She just couldn't understand what any of that had to do with Greek Food.

Just because we were all lazy we opted to order delivery from my favorite abusive dining experience "NO CLAY POT FOR YOU CHINESE EATERY". When I called to place our order, I was told, "NO DELIVERY TODAY! DINE IN ONLY!!!" So we packed ourselves into the car and drove to the actual restaurant for dinner.

One of the items we ordered was Sizzling Shredded Steak, seasonal. As we sat there in our silliness, it became 'Salty Seasoned Savory Sizzling Shredded Steak, seasonal'. It took us forever to say it properly and finally the daughter of the family, Elsinue, said it smoothly without a slip.

I turned to her and asked, "Sweet and Sour Soup?"

"SURE!" she replied.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Avoiding Hellfire

This morning as I was stumbling about half blind and in need of a cup of tea, the doorbell rang. Not knowing who it could be I cautiously opened the door. It took but a moment to notice the gaunt peaked face of a proselytizer with his copy of Wake Up and Die Right in his hand. I believe I cried out "Oh Lord, Save me!" before slamming the door and attending to my teapot.

He was no doubt one of those poor downtrodden souls from the Church of Fred's Witnesses. This non-merry band of people believe that God has a name and His Name is Fred, and if you don't call Him by the Name of Fred, and join their Woe-Band of Freddies, you will die in a fiery hell of burning crimson flames and there will be none to save ye. Because you will be calling out the WRONG NAME, and Fred won't hear you! If you DO join the Freddies in order to Avoid Hellfire, you will then be informed that it's not enough just to Join the Church of Fred's Witnesses, and call God by the name of Fred, you must now make Damn Sure that there isn't a single soul on the face of this earth who does not at least HEAR THE NAME of Fred so that they, too can join the proper conduit for worshipping Him. And so you must suffer the doom of endlessly traipsing door to door in American towns, carrying your newsprint copy of Wake Up and Die Right magazine, and hoping to get the chance to wave it in someone's face and strike them with fear long enough to stun them into listening to the Truth from your lips.

I guess I just wonder. Is it the least little bit likely that in the United States of America there is anyone left who has NOT formed a system of belief and a covenant of faith with their own religion? Most of us embrace the church of our families. Some of us branch out into other faiths and explorations, but I would hazard a guess that by the time one is an adult property owner or a renter, he/she has Long Since decided by what Name he or she will call Him. And I'm not about to bargain away my faith out of a fear of hellfire. I guess I'll fritter and fry then, but I would much prefer the Freddies to head out to somewhere they can REALLY make a difference. Like Darfur or Sudan. Because my God doesn't have just One Name, and He'll listen even if I say nothing at all. I don't have to get His name right or die!