Memento Mori Monday - Holiday Edition
Ah, even then: a penchant for leopardskin print. I was a few months shy of 5 and we were living in Las Vegas, in one of our long line of crappy trailers.
I've been playing holiday movies lately at home. Below is a run down:
The Three Lives of Thomasina (1964)
First off, you Disney decriers - back off. As a kid, I was always a sucker for movies with animals - and that really hasn't changed, except I find I have a less than zero capacity for any harming of or otherwise distressing of said animals, so more often than not, I just give them a miss these days. And there's something about pivotal scenes involving cats and rain (see: Breakfast at Tiffany's) that lays me to waste. Did then, still does. The film stars Patrick McGoohan and I wouldn't say it's his finest hour, acting wise - during the aforementioned pivotal scene, he imbues the character with a lip-twitching itchy bugginess that is really distracting. But love prevails and the common thread is Thomasina, a big Ginger cat, and her three lives. Not technically a holiday movie, but still perfect. 3 out of 5 stars
Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)
This still holds up remarkably well. This was a tradition in my house until I left it in 1970. The conceit: Magoo is starring in a version of The Christmas Carol, on Broadway, and begins with 'It's Great to be Back - Back - Back - on Broadway!' The animation, especially in the opening sequence with all of the flashing signage, is great. And all of the songs are strong. My penultimate moment is the number sung by the riffraff that are robbing his corpse. La! 4 stars
The President's Analyst (1967)
While the last scene is at Christmas, this is technically not a holiday movie, but just one that I recently ordered. It is not without it's flaws: there is a surplus of flower child fluffery that just seems stupid at this end of the lens of time, but James Coburn is a joy, as always, with his storky carriage and 3,000 teeth. The plot involves Coburn being tapped to assume the titular position and his descent into - justifiable - paranoia. 2 stars
Bell, Book & Candle (1958)
Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak's second pairing - after Vertigo. She plays a witch in New York who sets her sights on Stewart's rather straight-laced publisher character after finding out he's due to wed an odious woman who was her nemesis in college. The casting is marvelous: Jack Lemmon as her brother, Elsa Lanchester as her aunt, Hermoine Gingold as the witch who makes him drink a horrible and chunky brew to break the spell and even Ernie Kovaks. My favorite holiday movie, and just one of my favorites, period. 5 jumbo stars
I zzzzzzzztttt the body electriczzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzztt. We're on about day 6 of dry and cold and electric. My garden looks like The Day After and the chickens are not thrilled with the ground being frozen solid. I have to go out in the morning and evening and bring their waterer in and unfreeze it, and schlep it out again - Urban Farmer that I am.
Yesterday the mobile pussy shaving unit rolled up, Dinsdale was carted out and emerged 45 minutes later a new man. I wish there was a van I could step into and come out in less than an hour and be the equivalent of 20 pounds lighter. I will post pictures on Monday. It's always like getting a new cat. He slept with me all night, which he never does when he's hairy. And Sammy didn't even hiss when Dinsdale came back in, with the requisite bow on his head that the groomer always insists on further insulting him with.
Life has settled down to being able to walk on both legs for the most part. It's the little things, and it's enough. I have had extra energy, courtesy of the steroids - the novelty of coming home after a day at the office and actually having additional bandwidth for my own bloody life - well, it doesn't happen often and I'm grateful. When you temporarily lose a standard function, you will eventually become cavalier after you regain it, but there is that grace period where such simple things are seen as the gifts they are.
Reprieve from affliction: OVER!

Ow. On Sunday I finished my steroid regime for the gout (or 'gouty arthrtis', as the prescription's accompanying literature called it: I can have happy days, jaunty days, pouty days and now, gouty days) and Monday morning it began to creep back until by mid-afternoon, I was barely ambulatory and only had to make it to the doctor's office, then to the the pharmacist, then the grocery store, driving all the while on the FOOT FROM HELL. I should probably go back to the pharmacists and say, you know, the other day, well, I'm sorry - but hell, if they're filling out an aggressive script for high levels of Prednisone and pain killers - I'll leave it up to them to put 2 and 2 together and throw me some slack. Home, I ripped open the bottles and glugged the requisite pills, evoking some Valley of the Dolls shit. At one point, I even tried breathing like apparently they teach you in child birth classes, thinking that may help and hoping I didn't inadvertently produce something from my labors, ha ha. All I got was a bemused look from the dog. But I have to say (and not for the first time): yaye for drugs! I woke up at 5, seemingly fully rested, foot completely back to normal. Of course, by the time I finish with this batch, I'll probably have a bad case of Jerry Lewis head (just Google: Jerry Lewis big head and you'll get a hit and see what I mean), but pain has no vanity. At least mine doesn't.

Reprieve from Affliction.*
This weekend I was imbued with alacrity, having almost no pain in my foot and being able to walk somewhat normally. I was able to lose the cane towards the end of the week, but I had developed a sort of swing/kick walk, very reminiscent of Ratzo Rizzo. I spent Saturday putting my dwelling in various levels of order. I schlepped to the hardware store and bought a couple of bags of top soil and created a little sheltered area for the girls to have their dirt bath. Last winter, I put a container full of soil in their coop for this purpose and in no time, everything had a layer of dirt on it, up to the ceiling, so I'm hoping we have luck with this outdoor option. The ground was frozen solid on Saturday, so the girls didn't have much to do but stand at the top of the steps and stare in at the back porch wistfully.
I worked on a piece that, like most of my paintings, has gone on for too fucking long. And, like most of my paintings, it's: paint, paint, paint, fuck up, correct, paint, paint, flow, fuck up, correct, fuck up, correct, hey, this is going to turn out really well, DAMMIT, fuck up, correct - you get the picture.

*Memento Mori Monday will return next week in it's regularly scheduled slot.
Back in the saddle again.Thanksgiving came and went, I went lame, I never did discover the source of my Amityville horror flies but now I'm back.
I went to a Thanksgiving dinner with a house full of strangers and children - neither ranks high on the comfort zone - add a whopping dollop of stone sobriety - and you have me, weird and wooden. But everyone was very nice and I even found the children charming, surprising myself, but I don't think they were your garden variety. One appears to be an inventive genius at his ripe age of 8-ish, another regaled us with violin playing after the meal. I made my grandmother's sweet potato pudding, which I over-sold and, of course, it didn't come out properly. There's probably a lesson in the sin of vanity or something in there.
The day after I woke up with a sore foot, which progressed that evening to wild hot unrelenting and unrelievable pain. Funny in the retrospect, as I was sort of sleeping and waking throughout the ordeal, so it was agggggghhhhhhhh, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, aaaaahhhhhhhHHHHHHH, zzzzzzzzzzz (drool), and so on. My friend Mary helped with getting me a prescription for meds and procuring me a cane from Goodwill. I improve incrementally every day. Yesterday was a big fat red letter day, as I was finally able to ease my foot into a shoe without whimpering. And, so what's your malfunction, you ask? Ah, more ignobilities.......It's probably gout. I KNOW!!! All perusing of the interwebs produce pictures of fat nobility in powdered wigs. I must say, though, that I kind of enjoy the cane. As a friend said: use it to walk, and - whack! - to make a point.
Memento mori Monday.
The year was 1999. I had moved to the sub-sub-basement of a historical Queen Anne apartment building. A friend, making the long, long descent for the first time remarked: This is somehow apt. And it was: a dark subterranean apartment was simply a mirror of my personal interior. I had been without any animals in my life for several years and four since I'd had a cat. I had a very clear thought one night: If I don't get an animal, I will cease to be (and if you had a sudden flash of the Monty Python dead parrot sketch, well, stop it). So, that weekend I contacted a woman who rescued and fostered cats and she thought she had just the right one for me. It turned out to be a giant one eyed Persian who, that day, was being returned from the home where he hadn't quite worked out. He was traumatized and I met him, and he simply wasn't my cat. I made my escape and sat in my car and cried, feeling like a piece of shit for leaving him behind. I drove around for awhile, getting lost, until I finally found the Eastside animal shelter. In the back, one little room bled into another little room and then another, all full of cats, not mine, until I came to the last room and looked around the corner and down and said, There you are. And there he was: sitting Spinx-like, black and sleek. I sat down on the ground and he got up, stretched, then came and sat in my lap. I took him home.
Bif Loman was his name. The shelter named him Othello, which I changed to Sambo, but he didn't like it, nor did the black receptionist at the vet when I called to make an appointment (to which I say: read the goddamned story, for Christsake: it's the tale of a smart little Indian boy who outsmarted lions - no racism there, folks). I had him for about a week when I was watching a remake of Death of a Salesman on tv and he was asleep in my lap and I said, softly, 'Bif?' and he woke right up and looked at me. So, Bif it was. Other names he had over the years: Monkilly Man, Noodle Rancher, Not a Medical Doctor, BifLomanClature and Bifwack. I taught him to come to 'Cheese!', whereby I would reward him with said substance and after a while, I could spell it out and he would still come.
It was just him and me for 5 years and I figured out early on that he thought of me in that way. He would perch on the back of the couch and knead my shoulders and then take the back of my neck between his teeth and just hold it. He was also Kato to my Clouseau. He would attack with no provocation, the target usually being my face. It kept me on my toes. We had arguments. One time I had to get in my car and drive around to cool down until the absurdity of it finally kicked in. Like most important cats, I knew him to be much more than what he was. I finally figured out he had Single Cat Syndrome, which results in your cat treating you like another cat, so I added Dinsdale to our family, much to Bif's initial disgust, but they became pals. He would still continue to come up to my lap and knead intensely, which I would endure until he would start a little hip shake thing and then it was, ew, down you go. He slept with me every night, on my right side. He would always come nap with me and I haven't really dreamed the same since he's been gone.
The day before I was to have my final chemo session, his breath became labored and two days later, his heart was failing fast and I had him put to sleep. Chicken Vickie held me together: coming with me to the vet and later, digging a grave for him while I washed his feet and wrapped him in velvet and said my goodbyes. I had no reserves for this: I was on empty and I was devastated. I mourned and wailed for a solid fortnight.
That was exactly a year ago. I still miss him, but time truly is a salve that eases up on that killing, immediate grief that, if sustained, would finish us.
Thank you, Bif, for saving my life. I sure wish I could've saved yours.
C'mon!!!! Seriously. Another Night of the Flies. I killed 5. Either they are slow and ready to die, or I kick ass in the fly killing department. The theory I have is it's something in the basement - does this sound like the synopsis for a horror movie or what - and the flies are coming up through the central heating. I had a similar - no less horrifying - situation this summer when Dinsdale was peeing in the basement and the forced air was bringing it up to the house. But first thing tomorrow I'm down there, with flashlight - Nancy Drew, The Later Years - to see what I can see. Aside from the swatting activity (various methods: broom, rolled up New Yorker, hand), a quiet evening. I spent some time on a paper and thread project and then watched an installment in J.J. Abrams shit-o-riffic new series, Fringe. Memo to JJ: stop trying to build a fucking empire and focus on just not Twin-Peaking your Lost storyline. TV and movies having to do with horror - NOT splatter - are hold overs from my days weaned on Thriller, The Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock and continue to be a guilty pleasure. I even watch Medium, talk about your walking and talking crap. So I rent all this crap that comes down the pike and most of it is just that, with some exceptions.
As for the weekend, the weather is supposed to be shitty and after chores are done, I have nothing to do but paint, so that qualifies as a lovely time in my book.
I am suffering from chicken withdrawal.
I only see the girls for about 30 minutes in the morning, and they're already alseep when I come home. I have a timer, which always seems to work on the weekends, when I'm there to observe it, but not on weekdays, when I'm not. And once they're bedded, it's probably a bad idea to wake them up with a few more hours of light (although I'm sure they'd be amenable if food was involved). I have to just content myself with painting them: I'm currently working on a large, reproachful painting of Beulah. Additionally, I'm toying with the concept of comb adornments, for special chicken occasions (in the paintings, silly, not actually).
And: GET OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have a fly problem in my house. Aside from the creepiness of flies, in winter, in my house, they drive the cats crazy and they're constantly knocking shit over in their ineffectual attempts to catch them. I killed four last night - with my bare hand, ick, but effective, and three the night before. Since my basement is dark, low-ceilinged, wet and rife with spider webs, I'm going to wait for the weekend to see if there's a rotting corpse I forgot about down there.
In my recent sobriety, I appear to have replaced hooch with chocolate chip cookies, which I can't seem to stop making. Chocolate chip cookies have never been my favorite - I'm not a freak about chocolate and they were always too cloyingly sweet. However, I have modified the recipe and it has resulted in something like crack. And I will share it with you:
Modify any chocolate chip recipe with GOOD chocolate: 70% or above cacao content and - important - bittersweet. I use Scharffen Berger or Guittard. Whether you're using chips or block chocolate, mince it up. Add 1 cup chopped walnuts and after you drop the cookies on a sheet, press each with a wet spoon and sprinkle with gray sea salt (about 1/4 teaspoon per cookie). Bake and become your own special Amy Winehouse.
Memento mori Monday!
This is my sister, who is not dead, but living her Fox-News-Watching-life in Sparks, Nevada. We exist now to push phantom buttons and disappoint each other by expectations we've never even voiced aloud. She is my senior by seven years, and growing up, we were close and still managed to torment each other, in equal measures, although I was running rings around her by the time I was five. Being a devil-spawn, I kept a little rainbow pad full of dirt on her, and would use it for occasional blackmail. She was also very easy to play tricks on. One of my personal faves: they used to packet Kool-Aid without sweetener - you would add your own sugar - and the stuff was like Drano. I would make a big show of pretending to take a big snort of it and then with kind of a puzzled look I'd go, hm, smell this, and she would obligingly take a big whiff and hilarity, on my part, would ensue. And I only had to wait a couple of weeks before I could do it again. She fell for it everytime. For her part, she introduced me to sex and drugs by an early age, which I always considered a favor, but not everyone would agree.

On Friday I schlepped to Home Despot and bought my early Christmas present: a phoney fireplace. It's basically a motion lamp, which I've always loved. I own several clocks with a similar principle, one depicting a waterfall, the other a miniature fireplace. Obviously, it's not the real thing, but it is incredibly satisfying - primal even. Even though there is no heat coming from it (there is a feature, but electric heat: ugh), all the animals seemed to gravitate towards it. In so many ways, I love winter.

Buttery Butters in the buttery morning sun.
She's such a pretty girl. I hope one day I get lucky and snap her in mid-squat, the position she generally assumes when I first greet her. I believe she's waiting for me to fertilize her. God, I love chickens: instinct, pure and undiluted. Little machines of nature.
Pretty lazy days in my household. It's hard to get energized when it's dark a little after 4 in the Godforsaken afternoon. At night, it's reading and/or DVDs (I'm reading The Satanic Verses - yeah, shut up - so it only took me 20 years to get around to it - and working through the box set of Angel). My place is very cozy, it just needs a fireplace and I've been eyeing these phony jobs they have at Home Despot. My friend Jimmy used to have one of the old motion lamp/fake logs on fire, set beneath a faux mantlepiece, and you would always head over to it, first thing, to warm your hands on it. Except there was no warmth. Psyche!
Memento mori Monday!
On Tuesday! Some early cheesecake. While not particularly evidenced by these photos, my father was a professional photographer when I was little. I think he shitcanned it around the time of my birth - my sister got the full onslaught of his shutterbugginess in her childhood, but also, she was Gerber-baby pretty, with perfect Chicklette teeth. He gave his reasons, when asked, for closing down his studio as his weariness of 'drippy babies', which was never hard to swallow, since my father loathed children for the most part. As with most of the photos from this time, I covet most of the furniture. This would be 1954 and the Oriental mid-century motiff was in full swing. Ah, political incorrectness.....
I don't know about you and yours, but my cats double as The Help.
Here they are assisting me in setting the table for company. But I draw the line at letting them dust off the crystal.
Today feels better. It's a lovely Fall day and I'm happy not to be mad. I was reading an interview with Mary Karr, who wrote one of the few memoirs I found to be truly dazzling (The Liar's Club), and she was talking about her conversion to Catholicism. To paraphrase: 'It's about not wanting to kill the people on the subway, or want to kill myself for wanting to kill them'. I can relate to that sentiment, and believe me, I'm open to suggestions on how not to be a full time Tazmanian Devil, but I stop with a screech when it comes to organized religion. But the I Ching refers to our intellect as the 'great pretender', and I think I understand that whole non-thinking thing (I think y'all call it faith). Which comes back to one of the reasons I don't think I could ever embrace religion, at least in the conventional sense: I think religion encourages people NOT to think (with the exception of Buddism). And God knows (and weeps about it daily, I'm sure) we are overrun with the non-thinking variety, everywhere.
Memento mori Monday!
And what better way to be reminded of our impending death than pictures of the past? Better still: pictures of your dead parents. The photo above shows Mom and Dad on their wedding night in 1945. I learned later that he conned her into a fake wedding (while his divorce was proceeding) so she'd put out, and they later made it legal. He does seem pretty pleased to have pulled it off, doesn't he? Mom is too busy trying to keep that fruit salad on her head to worry about anything else.
This will be a regular 'feature' here at EF. And this weekend evoked DEATH, on numerous levels. But then most of my weekends do, that's just the special kind of life I lead. First, there was scarrrry Halloween: usually a favorite holiday, but I just wasn't feeling it this year. A lot of it has to do with employment worries, but I got a good word today on that front, so I can cross out one thing at least to be spooked about. I had dear, dear friends over for dinner on Saturday and it was a complete debacle and instead of just being a good little hostess and let it go unremarked - which I did, the evening of, more or less (and that's saying something, when a guest is so pissed they repeatedly piss all over your bathroom floor), felt the need to tell the parties what I REALLY thought on Monday. DEATH. I am the personification of esprit d'escalier, only with me, it is the retort on the staircase. Days go by and some stupid something that someone said and I responded to in a entirely benign fashion will bob back at me, like that turd that won't flush, DAYS later and then I will see their stupid remark in a new light, or just see it illuminated as the stupid remark it was or perceive it in the opposite way it was intended and I'm off, with this mad, internal jibber-jabbing. And now that I've quit drinking, it seems to be getting worse rather than better. Oh, peace, where can I find you? Yeah, yeah, I know: DEATH!
Black like me.
Recently, a lovely woman I work with made the comment, in regards to my youthful countenance, 'you have black folk in your family somewhere!' As she herself is black folk, she has some authority on the matter. And it's funny, because I've always felt I had both black and Jewish lineage in me somewhere. When I was a kid, it took me a while to catch up with my mouth, which earned me the nickname 'n___lips' and the taunt that 'you didn't get lips like that from sucking on doorknobs' (which still doesn't make sense to me - but this is 2-3rd grade witticisms were talking about). The genealogy is murky on either parent's side, but my father (who was a deplorable bigot his entire lonnnng lonnnnng life) had black curly hair and used to tan very deeply. When he enlisted in the army, in a beautiful stroke of irony, they listed his status as 'Negro'. Much to my dismay growing up, I inherited the curly/frizzy hair (the standard of beauty all around me growing up was straight straight hair). I used to spend the better part of every Sunday with my hair in ginormous rollers under a hot hair dryer to no one would suspect my terrible frizzy secret (a secret that my parents encouraged me to keep, interestingly). Every night I had to tape my bangs to my forehead (I was going for Agent 99 hair). When I finally left home and was able to just let my hair do what it wanted, I rocked an awesome Afro for several years, until hand held blow dryers came along and I was able to tame my head thusly. Alas, today I only have a wave left, which often gives me hair that looks like this:
It should be noted that the photo at top, taken while I was camping with my cousin and her family in California when I was ten, was not an attempt at black face. We were having a mud spa treatment. The brat at the bottom is my cousin Sara, who screamed until she was included in the shot.
It's Tuesday, but it's not Belgium, but I would gladly pay you for a hamburger today.
And thus exhausts my Tuesday references.
A friend was so very kind and thoughtful as to forward me an animated version of what the Alaska Way Viaduct and surrounding areas would look like if we had a substantial earthquake. I work by and commute via said Viaduct. It was damaged in the 2001 earthquake and since this is Seattle, and every decision has to be committee'd to death, we still are not 100% certain of it's replacement or overhaul. But it was thrilling to see large chunks of it crumble and fall. Even more fun, imaging me and my car crumbling and falling with it!! As it is, there is a stretch through downtown going West that runs under the East bound lanes that I generally try to locate a happy place for the duration of the time I have to be there. Perhaps because I have quit drinking, my friend thought he'd throw me a challenge?
And as I recall, I had quit drinking the year of our last earthquake - I think I was in my second month of sobriety. I was working on the East side and when the tremors began impressed myself with the alacrity with which I dispatched myself under my desk. Later, when I went home to the little cottage on Alki Beach I was living in, it looked like my house had been put through a paint mixer. I found things at the back of the house which normally dwelled in the front. I couldn't find my cat, Bif, and feared he was under a big dresser which had fallen over on its face. I later found him wedged under a space about 4 inches high under the couch. Poor guy. It took me all evening to clean up and I had only two broken items, amazingly.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this post, aside from pointing out certain obtuse behavior. Perhaps I'm just hoping that the gods, hearing of my new round of sobriety, don't decide to throw another earthquake our way. Or, 7 months down the line, fly some airplanes into tall buildings. Because, you know, it's all about me.
Margaret 1 (detail)
I'm sure there's a German word for my weekend.
It was, at times, Wagnerian in its histrionics. It began with an encounter in the park. It's my second meet up with a woman who is the embodiment of cluelessness and her dog, who hates my dog, and vice versa. But twice now she has let her dog advance on mine, all the while assuring me, as she follows behind her dog (who is crouched down like a lion in the Serengeti, hackles raised, ready to pounce) in a leisurely fashion, that her dog just wants to say hello, or some stupid fuckery to that effect. The first time it ended in tears. This time, same scenario, with me shouting with greater and greater fury to 'get your dog', and variations thereof. 'Get your fucking dog or I will kill it and then I will kill you' being one of them. I also inquired as to whether or not she was retarded (the owner, not the dog). Well, second verse, same as the first. Her dog attacked, me (and I'm a singer: I have lungs) yelling all the while. When the episode was FINALLY over and she had run off to get her dog, which had run off, she yelled in a squeaky voice: You have anger issues! No shit, Sherlock. You have intelligence issues, I yelled back. Not my finest line, but neither was it my finest hour.
Part Deux.
I'm having a fence constructed to keep the chickens out of one of the perennial gardens. By a big sensitive butch (would seem an oxymoron, I know) who immediately picked up on my aggravated vibe and personalized it, so after she did some impromptu pruning of a butterfly bush in my driveway, we proceeded to miscommunicate to the point where she departed in a huff in her truck. She returned later, with a slightly better, less aggrieved manner. Jesus wept. As of this writing, the project is about 65% completed. I just want it to be over. So that was my Saturday. Oh, and I got to dig post holes (I know!), too, so by the end of the day I was almost crippled. I tended to the critters, took the dog for a drag (hoping I wouldn't run across the retarded woman) and then collapsed on the couch and watched a Ms. Marple mystery. Which, swinging 60s harpsichord music aside, was delightful. On Sunday, I worked on Ms. Rutherford, and am proclaiming it done, done and done. Next painting project: back to the chickens.
New worldly possession!
As I am quite house-poor, I have had to curtail my eBay addiction almost completely, but lately have been sort of sticking my toe back in the shallow end. And voila! Chicken alarm clock. The alarm apparently doesn't work, but that's fine: I would probably have a heart attack if I was jolted awake by something metal and loud. Since you asked: I wake up to moonbeams. Or rather, a Moonbeam clock, which is made of faux bakelite and flashes light for several minutes and that usually does the trick, as I'm a ridiculously light sleeper. If that fails, then it deploys the audio version, which is not so gentle. The head of the chicken (on the clock) bobs up and down to the second hand (I know!). I'm sure there is some profane application of the same technology out there somewhere. And last night as I was just laying on the couch, reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell (love it), I could hear the faint tick tick tick of the clock and it was actually very soothing. Like the beat beat beat of a heartbeat.

More Adventures in Poop! courtesy of Dinsdale. Yesterday, first thing in the morning, he left a dollop of it for me to step in and then walk around spreading. I ended up having to bathe him AND shampoo the carpets. Today I drove the stupidly long distance between me and my vet to drop off a sample of said poop, which came up negative for parasites, so now I have to put him on baby food. Sigh.
Yesterday I had a brief conversation in the comments column on Flickr with a local woman who had posted pictures of her visit with a capybara (above: giant rat, if you must: I prefer giant hamster) and I have to tell you, I am smitten. Like I don't have enough sturm und drang with my existing critter family. I fear I don't have the proper amount of space for them to cavort, and it sounds like they need a pool to swim in. I could wrangle a smallish pool but I don't think that would suffice. I dunno. They're pretty damned amazing, but I think I'll wait until Lulu sluffs off this mortal coil before seriously looking into acquiring a rodent who can get up to 150 pounds.
All the leaves on the trees are falling...
Which means I'll soon have a sizeable dump of them to rake up, but nevermind. It's bedding for the worm bin. Which reminds me, I need to check up on the worms. Everytime I open it up to put some food in, it's a scene from Hitchcock's The Chickens.
I had a nice, unremarkable weekend. I think the most noteworthy aspect of all weekends is the absence of news, which is pretty much just bad anymore, anyway. Granted, I'm not a talking head junkie who has to hear every breathless utterance: I don't have a tv, and only listen to NPR: but still. I get my This American Life fix, and a couple other shows and then click: off. I actually enjoy the sound of silence now. When I was younger I couldn't stand it: I had to have some kind of audio wallpaper going on at all times. The only downside to silence is you can hear other people's noise that much better. Don't make me come over there.....
Ode to cronedom.
I'm presently working on a painting of Margaret Rutherford. It's long been my desire to do a series based on character actors I grew up with and loved. To name a few: Edward Andrews, Reta Shaw, Henry Jones, Sterling Holloway, Hermoine Gingold, Henry Silva, Edward Everett Horton. And I haven't painted humans in a long time, so again - relearning. But what has been so much fun in working on MR's painting is her amount of sagging flesh and wrinkles. No big stretch, really, as I favor painting dogs with lots of flaps and folds. But I don't think I will limit my Rutherford gallery to just one. She was a grand old dame - in fact, she was a Dame. And she found her calling rather late in life. Hey, I find my inspiration where I can.
Big Beulah and Little Ester
Life as it should be.
All work weeks should be three days long. Today is my Monday. Neener neener. I got to be productive AND lazy. Finished a painting and started on two more. Pitched several fits and thought, not for the first (nor the last) time that it's good that I live alone and even though my pets are pretty pampered, I still feel for them having to occupy space with the crazy lady who appears periodically. And never so routinely as when I'm painting and the spectres of my dead parents are looking over my shoulder, saying, see, didn't we say you were worthless? To which I reply: and you're dead.
On Saturday I went to see the show of a work-friend. It was at ACT Theatre, which is the old Eagles Auditorium, where I spent a goodly portion of time attending rock shows in the early '70s. It houses several stories, linked by slanting floors and I recall shooting up or down those ramps many times. New Years Eve, 1971, I was peaking on acid as they sounded the New Year in and realized I was going to be sick, so I was flying down a ramp to the bathroom when I was accosted by my first gay crush, Rhina Stone, who grabbed me and stuck his tongue down my throat. I was pleased that I didn't throw up in his mouth.
The Name Game.
So, as I've said before, Wednesdays are my least favorite, as that is when the Farmer's Market happens about 50 feet from where I live. The streets are clogged with cars and the sidewalks with slow moving people (most of them pushing prams of yuppie spawn and eating something). As I was heading out of my house for Lulu's nightly drag, some old bat was getting out of her car and fell into step with me (or tried to: Lulu, seeing a HUMAN BEING, doubled back and made a beeline for her, and nearly tripped her and me). Are you Jackie and Serena's tenant, she asked. I said yes, and nearly added, yeah, me and Roman Polanski. She introduced herself as Cat and asked me my name. I told her. Sha, she said, considering the name. Ch - I said - Cha, like Cha Cha, not the Sha of Iran. She continued with small talk, which I mumbled answers to until I could shake her. When she said Cat, I should have said Dog? I have the easiest fucking name in the world, and you'd be amazed at how many variations people can pull out of their asses. See. This is how cranky I get on Wednesdays.
And speaking of The Tenant - when I lived in London, I saw it at a theatre that was a converted monkey house. There was even a pit, with big rocks, in front of the stage, where presumably the monkeys had cavorted. And it smelled a little - off. It was a double bill with The Tin Drum. Which made for one long ass evening of movies, but was a terrific pairing. I think it's Polanksi's funniest movie (one doesn't tend to think of Polanski = Comedy, and to be sure, the humor was very black). I see now that it's out of print, but available from a bunch of sellers on Amazon. I think I will pick up a copy, along with Chinatown and Rosemary's Baby. Some great films. And a great example of love the art, not the artist.
In thrall to the chill of Fall.
Seriously. But no where more than in my bedroom. After a long summer of sometimes not even being able to bear the weight of a sheet, I now have two quilts and three more pillows and in the morning, after being tucked securely in all night, the bed is barely unmade. I sleep so much better. And sleep is of paramount importance in my leetle world.I think all the critters are happy with cooler climes.Every day I open up the coop door when I get home from work and it looks like the girls had a pillow fight - with Beulah's feathers. Her butt is completely bare now, but she frowns upon any efforts on my part to get a good look. Do. You. MIND? I think she's having a more normal molt than Ester had - that is, I hope so. She has feathers coming in, so I'm hoping she's all feathered and fortified by the time the cold weather comes. She hasn't laid any thing for over a month now. In some respects, I wish she would just stop: she's always had some difficulty in passing eggs. There is no question that she would continue to dwell in the house of OH CHICKEN MY CHICKEN for the duration of her days: even if I weren't a vegetarian, I couldn't imagine killing and eating a chicken because they'd stopped laying. These are my girls.I've come close to finishing the painting I'm working on and last night it took a weird detour: I hope I didn't ruin it. Not surprisingly, after not having painted all summer, I'm rusty as hell, but am beginning to feel my groove return. In many ways, as a matter of fact.
And then it was Monday. Already. Again.
The weekend shot by like a lubed gerbil. But boy howdy, was I industrious. Chores galore, and I did most of them. Beginning with, first thing, even pre-coffee: cleaning up a pile of butterscotch pudding left on the kitchen floor by our favorite leaver-of-piss-and-poo, Dinsdale, followed by a bath for same. Most certainly a two-person job, but I took advantage of his stunned disbelief at what was happening to him to move quickly and wash the offending matter off. Sunday, the sun shone all day and if I listened hard enough, I could hear the siren song of 'yard work, wooooOOOOOoooooo!, but despite the fact that there are more bushels of fucking plums to be mucked up, I stayed indoors and was able to paint. And after dinner, returned to the studio and painted some more. I am definitely feeling an uptick in both energy and creativity. I took some lovely photographs - more grist for the painting mill - but couldn't bring them in today because I forgot my flash drive. More tomorrow.
Show me the way to the next whiskey bar or I tell you I must die.
Or not. This is Day 11 of no hooch and it's just ridiculous the false barriers we impose upon ourselves. I've agonized over this decision for the duration of the summer. At the end of the day, it ain't nothing but a thang. And no big thang, at that.
Last night, the critters and I retired to my studio while I played around with some possible new project and I put Thriller in the crappy DVD player in my studio (the only one that's working). For the uninitiated, Thriller was a television show in the 60s, hosted by Boris Karloff. It began as mostly a suspense anthology, but by the end of the first season began dealing with the supernatural. It had the best haunted houses: they used the Psycho house in several episodes. Anyway, I was sort of weaned on this stuff. And speaking of Psycho, my mother took me to see it in the theater: I was 6 (and am still vaguely uneasy in showers), but I grew to love the shit.
Recently, I was able to buy the entire Thriller catalog. Some enterprising guys taped them off some late night show called Scream. I guess they're in the public domain now, and are unavailable anywhere else. One of the pleasures of the series was the steady stream of wonderful character actors that I grew up with. The episode last night featured a young, and even then terrifically weird, William Shatner and the guy who played the professor on Gilligan's Island. And it was genuinely creepy, but it struck me that it was ready for a remake. I wonder how straight up haunted house stories would play these days, without the mandatory gallons of blood and gore. Maybe we'll come back to that. I hope so.
Super enigmatics, or when modern conveniences inconveniently expire.
My DVD player has gone on to that great scrap heap in the sky. I think I paid $50 for it about 7 years ago, so I'd say I got my money's worth. Still. This all seems on schedule, as staring blearily at the tv while I got my drink on was all part and parcel of the same thing, I think. Now that I finished that ridiculously poorly written (yet freakishly compelling) Sookie Stackhouse series, I see more quiet nights like this, only with a GOOD book.There is a fairly short but good article in this week's New Yorker by Susan Orleans about chickens. I knew her from The Orchid Thief, but have been made more aware of her from her Twitters (as reported on The Gawker). I don't Twitter, or rather, Twatter. It's another level of the solipsism that so embraced cell phones, so that to be seen talking on your cell was as important (if not more so) than the conversation you were actually having. Hey! Look at me! There are not enough hours in the day to cover my busy, important life! Gack. I think some technology (DVD players, for instance) are just grand. Others, like Twitter, just make us stupider. If I sound like an old Luddite, I'm not. If I sound like an old curmudgeonly misanthrope: bingo!
Getting my house in order.
That phrase boomeranged around my head a lot this last week as I gathered up drippy plums, raked leaves, scrubbed lots of shit (some of it truly shitty) and just generally got stuff done. After months and months of sun and lethargy, with just a sprinkling of ennui, I feel galvanized, full of alacrity. Adding to my new found energy was the subtraction of hooch. Again. I am an on-again-off-again-teetotaler and this is a good time to flick the switch to Off.On Saturday, girly-man and The Broadcaster next door were doing their loud ass yard work, which was endurable because I figured it'll be the last until Spring. Last year they installed a flagstone path around their house and now they feel my pain of having to pull out every damn thing that wants to grow in between. Their solution, which I kind of like, is to burn it off with this little propane hose unit. So, they were in the back and The Broadcaster later told me: we heard a sound, like rain. Which turned out to be one of the huge pampas plants in the front going up in flames. I have a propensity to move next door to fire. In my early 20s, I lived in a studio overlooking the freeway and the space between my building and the one next door was about eight feet. As I was languishing on my sofa one day I heard the sound of breaking glass and then could see the flames shoot out of the window right next to mine. Several years later, I lived in a nicer, converted house and my kitchen overlooked a wing of the modern apartment building next door and their pool. Spookily similar: glass breaking, flames shooting out. Both times I was none the worse for wear, other than a momentary freak out. Now that I live next to the Alzheimer's Hospice, there have been two fires there, not to mention numerous visits from the fire truck, but that's usually because someone fell down. Frankly, I think they were happy to arrive on my street to an actual fire and not some poor demented soul lying on the floor.
Ultimately, it was a selfish weekend, as I passed on volunteering for a phone bank and hauling up to Mt. Vernon to protest Glenn Beck getting the key to the city. But the bulk of my politics are personal at the moment, and I'm busy overthrowing the old regime.
And apropos of nothing, I love this.
Happy Autumnal Equinox!
Even if it is nearly 90 outside......
Today I spent 3 hours doing something that does not come naturally: being nice to the public. Although I was seriously backpeddling days before, I agreed to participate in an arts and crafts fair here at work. Fortunately, a friend who also works here, and is geniunely the nicest person on Planet Earth, facilitated a goodly portion of the sales for me while I sat at another table (probably hurting their sales....) and tried to keep my snarky mouth shut. I actually made some money, always good, and it also kind of got the noodle thinking about future product shilling endeavors. Later, I passed a female VP in the hall who had bought some cards and thanked her for her patronage and she made a sound like she was sick in her mouth. Yep. I haz the social skills. In spades.
The Summer that simply would not fuck off.
My house is over 100 years old. The windows, and their frames, are the same age. When opening, I have to hold the window, that wants to come down like a fucking guillotine, aloft so I can wedge one of those sliding screens in it. Closing is just another side of the fuckery. Several weeks ago when the temperature dropped and the rains looked like they were starting in, I closed said windows and lugged the fans down to the basement. Like a short sighted idiot. Now: it's going to be nearly 90 tomorrow, and high 80s until Thursday. C'mon!It was a nice weekend. Saturday rained most of the day, which was perfect, as I had a lot of schlepping to do, reworking the dining area, which I've decided was more decorative than functional and now have it set up so that's where I write. In between dragging around large unwieldy furntiure from the 30s and cleaning, I would throw myself periodically on the couch and read yet another Sookie Stackhouse book. I'm going to have to cut the empty calories of these novels with some fiber, after I've finished the last one. It might be a good time to finally hit Moby Dick.
Today's post is hosted by 18 pounds of hair.
This is our morning ritual. I take a bath, and then while the tub is still holding the heat of the water, I spread out a towel and Dinsdale hops inside and tantalizes me with his biga belleh. We are getting on a little better now that I appear to have stopped the pissing behavior which was just killing me, and on it's way to killing Dinsdale, by way of me. The solution: clean out the cat box every day. What, you weren't!!!???, you gasp in horror. To which I say, fuck no. Life on the urban farm can get a little overwhelming and the cat box is in the mud room, which is out of sight and tends to be where I just throw shit that I'm ambivalent about (not that I'm ambivalent about my cats). But. Dinsdale, through his gross and stinky actions, has shown me the error of my ways. Or has me running scared, depending on how you look at.
But last weekend, I cleaned out the mud room, steamed the floors and threw crap out. I looked around beforehand and thought, you know, this is a pretty good representation of my psyche at the moment, and after I cleaned it all out, it really did feel cleansing. Like a high colonic for the soul.My five plum trees are bombarding my yard and lying all around like some Easter egg hunt gone horribly awry. The nights are coming up much faster now, and the chicken sisters have acclimated, now turning in before 8:00. Butters now lays a perfect, miniature egg every day now. Apparently, it takes about 3 weeks for their eggs to reach normal size, which in the case of Buffs, is large. I don't know if it is because of her new egg-laying prowess, but she seems to be less ostracized than has been the norm. And now when Ester gives her grief, she still cows, but sort of talks back, as well. And fluffs herself up so she's twice her size. Crazy chickens.
Happy Tuesday.
I was too knackered yesterday to manage a post: up all night with a squirting dog the night before. She's fine now: we did get to go to the vet, bye-bye in the car-car, which she likes and doesn't get much of and she deposited about a quart of hair.
One of my favorite sites is Flickr, appropos of nothing. Snarkiness is practically non-existent, and artists are very supportive of one another. I've made friends, sold paintings, etc. Recently I stumbled upon a woman in Texas who cares for rescued baby raccoons - which was an interesting balm to the horrific scene on the West Seattle Freeway last week. Here's a video of a couple of kits and if this doesn't make you want to run out and get some, you are truly made of stone. Not only cute, but weird as hell. When they're playing, it's almost like a switchblade fight and all that handwashing. Enjoy.
Happy 9/11!
But I kid. But a great article on Gawker was like a nice tall glass of whatever refreshes.
It's been a nice short week - usually short weeks are, perversely, really looonnnng. But this one went by at a nice clip and we're already butt up against another summery weekend, in the 80s. I for one will not pull my shirt front out in two peaks and declare that I'm happy as a little girl! But it does give me good weather for 'chores', although for matters involving heavy lifting I will wait for more autumnal weather.
Last night I came out back and became aware that I was being followed around by two chickens, not three. I called Butters repeatedly, checked all the places I thought she might be and then began to panic. I thought maybe she'd flown up into one of the plum trees and gotten out, so I'm darting in and out of neighbors yards, hissing Butters! when all the while she was luxuriating in a dirt bath - actually, Butters prefers mud baths - in a deep hole back at the ranch. That's one of the aforementioned chores: to create a sheltered place where they can have a dirt bath when the rains come. Although, Butters will probably love all that mud.
Dinner at Mary's, everything from her garden, and the return of my Obama Boner.
Mary called me towards the end of the day and invited me over to dinner, so I was able to watch the speech last night, as my television was put out of it's misery when we went digital. She lives on a hill, with a great view and gusts of wind that would make her tv go blank, but it was still better than listening to it on the radio. For one, as if I needed further negative reinforcement, there was the spectacle of the fucking asshat Republicans refusing to get to their fat asshatty feet, and the Kennedy remembrance/opportunity was something to see. I thought the speech was masterful, nuanced, intelligent and had spine. I think, especially with Joe Wilson's shining moment (um, Joe, why don't you just resign and slink back to whatever toxic dump you crawled out of), that the GOP has clearly illustrated they are just, simply, a party of ugly loons (no offence to beautiful birds everywhere) to the degree that would give serious pause to even the most scared-stiff, Fox-news-getting idiot.
Or not.
I'm just so sick of these people. There is really something wrong with them, something missing, blocked, deformed - I don't know. The temptation to write them off as just one thing - ugly, greedy, fearful, and far too concerned with things that really are none of their fucking businesses - is strong (and okay, that was more than one thing). But maybe they love their families (when they're not participating in some homoerotic scandal) or they make birdhouses or read to the blind - there has to be some vestige of reason and - well, fucking humanity left in these otherwise empty vessels. Driving in to work today, I think I happened on the way to live with this kind of poison: realize that they are defective, and do your best to refrain from being caught up in their bile, and regard them with the compassion that you would another creature that had been born without something a lot of us just take for granted: a soul.
Lulu thinks back wistfully on a time when she was the only one who begged for food.
Yeah, they're all coming into the house now. Butters is still a little wary of the cats, especially Sammy, who likes to chase. With winter coming, I expect that will increase, since I has to have mah chicken time. Hey: I'm perfectly cognizant of the fact I have skipped over into Eccentric Old Lady Territory, with only a one-way Passport. It's just me here. I get to do whatever I want. So there.
Butters is laying an egg a day - they're about half the size of a normal egg and very pink. I will definitely know whose egg is whose. She seems to have a bit more chutzpah now that she's with egg. I'm glad: for a few weeks, if I didn't single her out and feed her separately, she probably would have gone hungry. Now she knows to get in there right away, grab a food bit, and run like hell!
I'm in a sour mood today. This morning I got up to more Dinsdale pee, so I have to go home and fumigate. It's getting old, and I terrorized him with a roll of paper towels for a few minutes, I was so pissed.
Last night driving to Barnes & Noble after work so I could get the latest installment of the Sookie Stackhouse books (crack), I came across a total of five dead raccoons on the West Seattle Freeway. Two adults and three young ones. It was an extended display of incredibly sad carnage. I still felt it when I got up today.
Ah, V.A.C.A.T.I.O.N. Alas, O.V.E.R.
But I do feel rested, perhaps even more beneficent towards my fellow creatures. Both will be short-lived, I've no doubt. I had two lovely end of summer days and then three of rain. Most would be all boo-hooey about the latter, but it was perfect for me. I spent three days painting, with the rain spitting at the windows, with a backdrop of old Thriller episodes on tv. A chicken daisy chain, after they'd discovered where their favorite plant stand (for it's delicious flaky white paint) had gone to. I had some creme fraiche left over, so added a few dollops to their dinner. Chicken crackMy writing muscle has already gone slack and flabby, after 5 days away. But my painting muscle rose to the occasion. Hopefully, I can keep two balls in the air.