Monday, December 28, 2009

X Mass



Christmas is over! We endured another year of too much family, too much drink, and too much food and lived to complain about it. But I'm not going to complain because all things being inequal, it wasn't that bad. MK and I made the kids happy, the dog marginally happy, and each other happy with the threat of more happiness for all.
If I could only stop smoking and thereby sink myself into an eternal morass of withdrawl, then I might have a complaint worth relating.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Water Damage


Sixth Street

I dropped a disposable camera, on purpose, into a pan of salt water. Interesting, but I don't think that I'll be doing that again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Charge


I Get a Charge Out of You, Thanksgiving, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Issues of, or With, My Womb


Reichter, MK, Cree Summer 2007

My one kid has a few jealousy issued with MK. Namely, he's jealous of the time I spend with her. We've thwarted him, successfully, to an extent, by including him on our weekends together. Thankfully he was bored because let's face it, we're middle-aged women who are either making wine, shopping for wine, or drinking wine. It's what we do. I haven't lived an interesting life since 1998. Don't ask me what made that year interesting because I sold that journal on ebay and have signed a gag order on those stories. Suffice it to say that I drooled for three months, but then my saliva glands adjusted.

OBX



A few years ago I took the kids and my mom to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for vacation. Here they are standing on one of the dunes in Kitty Hawk, very near where the Wright brothers first went aloft.
Everyone in this picture has experienced a height change since this was taken. Two have gotten taller and one has shrunk. Still, this is the pic that I have on the front of my personal recipe book. I don't know why, exactly, it's not like I cooked the whole time were gone. It just makes me feel good, I suppose.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On Break

I'm going to have to take a break from blogging because my Dad's cancer is pretty bad right now and I have to be available for both him and Mom.
I probably won't be totally absent, but more sporadic.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Best Food City


Montreal #1

My favorite Canadian city is easily Montreal. It's like a wee bit of Europe wed itself to the New World and didn't somehow totally fuck it up. Also, the best food I've eaten anywhere in the world (I'm looking at you Paris and New York) was in Montreal. Just amazing. Amazing! At one restuarant, some side walk bistro, I ordered the ravioli stuffed with rabbit and drizzled with a feta cheese sauce, and I about died when the taste registered. Probably the best single dish I've ever had in my life. The accompanying house wine was atrocious, but I tipped it back anyway.
MK and I have got to go to Montreal one of these days. I haven't been there for a decade and I'd like to refresh the experience in my mind and on my palate again.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rock City



Rock City, Olean, NY

This tourist trap is one of my favorite places. Located between Jamestown, NY and nowhere, it's a massive sandstone formation rising starkly from the farm fields and meadows that surround it. Loverly!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Family Affair And Vodka

This morning Junior called bright and early to make sure that she got in on the ground floor of my services. Namely, helping her with her grandchildren. The conversation went like this:
Junior: What are you doing today? I mean, hello.
Me: I have a bunch of shit I have ship out and I have to call Debbie (MK's sister, the one I don't hate).
Junior: Good, then you can come down here and run interference for me with Tristan (her two year old grandson who tries to climb in bed with the baby when she's sleeping).
Me: OK
Junior: Don't come too early, though. The liquor store doesn't open until 11.
Me: Am I sensing that you want me to pick something up for you?
Junior: Vodka, please.
Me: Ah yes, the opiate of the housewife.
Junior: Hey! I work full-time and these kids aren't mine.
Me: Regardless, my observation stands.

So, I called Debbie, went to the liquor store, the post office, and the Valero station to get cigarettes, then I drove down 588 to Junior's house. It sounds more interesting than it was, but anyway, Debbie had given me a juicy earful of what is going on in her neck of the woods, and I was anxious to discuss all of the revelations with Junior. An endeavor, as it turns out, that was a complete systems failure because, apparently, if a topic is not directly related to Junior, then she has almost no interest in it. I would say that I got a bit peeved, but she makes really good coffee and she was baking double chocolate cookies and whipping up that delicious cream icing that she puts on top of them. AND making meatballs! All with a baby on her hip! I got to have a meatball hoagie for lunch and some cookies for dessert, so I was completely unthwarted on one level while thwarted on another, seemingly lesser level.
After awhile I came home. And that brings us to a proper closure.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Inclined To Say



Despite living around Pittsburgh nearly my whole life, I've never taken the incline. This weekend MK and I rode up the Duquesne Incline and looked down upon the city. It was a beautiful day, well beyond Indian Summer. But I must say, that if are freaked out by heights, keep your eyes closed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Coffee On The Outside



Really cool mural on the side of the Bee Hive, the only decent coffee house on the south side of Pittsburgh. Right across the street from Starbucks. I used to go to the Bee Hive pretty much every Saturday and Sunday morning. MK would be working on lesson plans or trotting off to church, and I'd hole up with the newspaper and a big cup o' joe at the Bee Hive. But then, in a fit of fiscal responsibility, I gave up coffee on the outside. Now I drink instant, at home.

Smoking



This is my mother smoking her last cigarette, spring 1989. She never was much of a smoker, having one every morning with her coffee and that was it. I could never be that kind of smoker. I'd smoke in my sleep if I wouldn't burn the house down. Sleep smoking, I'm half surprised it's not one of the side effects of taking Ambien, not that I take Ambien. But still surprised.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Such Is Life



Some headstones are just creepier than others. Visually, I mean. Of course they can also have a creep factor by what's written on them. My mother one time came home from a visit to Aunt Clyta in Clarksburg, West Virginia with a rant that she'd copied down from a headstone in a cemetery there. I've long since lost the rant, but if memory serves it started off with a laundry list of ills done to this woman by her family, her church, and the community as a whole. The level of bile and bitterness was nothing short of astounding. She didn't want to let go of it, even in death. Such is life, I guess.

Pitt Football



I've said it before and I'll say it again: The only thing better than cheap is free! MK just called and said that a co-worker offered her four free tickets to the Pitt-Syracuse game this Saturday, and should she take them? I was like, hell yeah! Junior's boyfriend, D-Man, graduated from Pitt (something of a miracle in itself), so we can give the extra two tickets to them. I can see it now; kick-off is at noon so that means the tailgating will commence at 9am. I think I'll skip that part of the festivities though because it'll just make focusing the camera that much harder. A woman has got to know her limitations.
The weather forecast for Saturday so far looks sunny and 53F, perfect football weather. This should be great! I wonder how it will all go terribly wrong...

Urgent Update!
It didn't take long to find out what could go terribly wrong. While MK took the time to call and ask me if I wanted to go to the game, someone else scarfed up the tickets, which, btw, apparently were not free, just cheap. The cheap part took the shine off the free part and now I'm back to being ambivalent toward Pitt football.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Death and the Engineer



MK and I took the dog and walked through Union Dale Cemetery on Sunday. It was a gorgeous fall day. The sky an infinite blue and the air as crisp as a freshly laundered sheet. The cemetery sits atop a hill overlooking the northwestern part of the city and is spread out on both sides of Brighton Road on 96 acres. Not long after we arrived, as we aimlessly wandered around, we kicked up two deer, which led to Bela bawling like the good beagle that she is. She cast a look back at us that said, 'Shoot it! Shoot it!' But neither of us could get our cameras up in time. I really hate to disappoint the dog, but if not me, then who will teach her the harsh lesson that people often fail you.
Anyway, there's a natural poignancy to a cemetery. Whether it's the graves of young children, or like poor Hugh here, those working dangerous jobs and killed by same. He left behind a wife, who survived him by decades and never remarried. We came across quite a few of those sorts of graves; the men dying young the women outlasting them even into the next century and not remarrying. I wonder why, though I suspect that the reasons are different in every instance.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Away I Go!


Ghost Town Parlor Tricks

The above is one of the pics on a sample CD rom of my work submitted in a fellowship application. And now I am off to hand deliver everything.
I'm nervous, but hopeful.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reasons To Carry a Camera


There are any number of reasons to carry a camera along with you on seemingly innocuous little jaunts out into the world. Last Saturday MK and were out walking the beagle on the River Walk, like we do just about everyday. I got a simple little snap shot of the two of them with an abundance of bright yellow rioting all around. O Glory The Day!
But further up the path there was this:



That's right, the pelt of a raccoon that someone, for whatever reason, had skinned and left spread out on a rock. I've seen raw pelts before, just not in the city. Of course MK and I started wildly speculating on why someone would do this. The most obvious answer is food, but raccoon tastes similar to bear, which is more than just 'gamey'. Unless you were half starved you wouldn't choose to eat raccoon. Unless you were half starved and not in your right mind, then a raccoon might seem like the way to go.
Whatever the truth is, whoever did this was pretty adept with a knife (which makes the hungry and crazy scenario all the more frightening). Skinning an animal isn't rocket science, but it's not slicing through warm butter either. I just wonder if there was ghoulish intent here to mortify people, or abuse that animal in some way, especially with Halloween coming up.
I dunno. It was weird, and of course, I got pictures.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Side of Pickle

With fifty fast approaching, I sometimes think about what it means to get older. Fortunately I've got something of an arrested development, so in my head I'm still 17 or something somewhere thereabouts. Carefree, running through fields of daisies...
Yet back on planet Earth, invariably these things crop up where I can't do what I was once able to do without thinking or batting an eye. Case in point; opening jars. This morning I was making breakfast and I wanted a pickle to go a long with my chipped ham sandwich and lentil soup. Do you think I could get the damn lid off that jar? I was banging the side of the lid with the can opener and then twisting at that thing until I was prostrate on the floor with grief. Finally I had to wake one of the kids up to open it for me. All for a pickle! But, the pickle makes the sandwich!!! Without a pickle I may as well eat oatmeal.
Which now has me wondering, what's going to go next? I won't be able bend over and clip my own toe nails? That actually is a fear of mine, which is a subset of podophobia. I don't have a specific foot phobia, but long toe nails make me cringe. Just thinking about it now has me grimacing. I can't even look at Junior's boyfriend's feet when he's in flip flops because I know that his toe nails are like talons, extending far beyond the tip of the nail bed like Freddie Krueger's razor glove.
Ah well. Aging is better than the alternative, and if it comes to it, maybe I'll be able to somehow trick MK into trimming my nails for me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gift One


Rape of the Sabine Women

This is the print that my sister asked for in 11x16, matted and framed, for Christmas. Hopefully she likes it that big and hanging in her livingroom. At least the gold tones will blend well with her Steelers decor.
If you too would like a print of this print, just give me a heads up and some petty cash, and I'll work up something suitable! A lone print in 8x10 format including shipping could be yours for only 24.95!
Suddenly I feel a little dirty, but also cheap, which isn't the same thing ;)

Big Wheel-A-Keep On Turnin'

Christmas is less than two months off so I've been fishing in my brain for gift ideas, ferreting out the gems from the craptastic. So far I've got my sister taken care of and one of MK's sisters, the one I like. Every year, believe it or not, my parents just want a large gift card to Pizza Hut. Not over sized, just worth a lot. Basically worth twice whatever they're going to spend on you. In this case the 'you' being me. Just be glad that the 'you' isn't you. It could be, you know. Pre-gestation our ethereal little selves spin a roulette wheel and whatever uterus the little ball lands in, that's where we set up camp and get puny brains that forget everything noncorporeal about existence and the grand scheme of things. It's why the philosophical ramblings centered around, 'Who are we? What does it all mean?' are really just people having a lapse when they need a relapse.
Anyway, this year MK and I have decided that instead of spending oodles of coin on each other on gifts, we're going to keep it to just a couple of neccessities and then save up money for when we move. Yes, the house hunting has gotten serious. MK's condo is ready to go on the market, freshly painted and new flooring throughout. We went to an open house yesterday in North Hills Heights, or wherever it was in the North Hills, and as we drove down the winding streets I said, We can't afford to live in this neighborhood! The houses were old, well kept, gorgeously landscaped...and then we came up the house we were there to tour. The ugliest house in the neighborhood, by FAR, and can someone tell me why anyone would paint brick? The original red brick was painted industrial gray. I had low hopes at this point and was not disappointed in my disappointment. The interior had 'old lady' stamped all over it, from the wallpaper AND borders, to the dusty rose plush carpeting covering the hard wood floors over the entire first floor. The deep earth tone loving ghoul living inside of me died a little extry that day. When I asked the realtor why the old widow had moved out I'd expected her to say that her mummified corpse had been found by a meter reader hanging in the basement utility room. But no, just down sizing, which I don't believe, at all. This place had the stink of 'quick sale by the estate' , it wasn't even particularly clean! The first thing I noticed in the master bath was a black ring in the toilet bowl which prompted the observation thought; this place has been empty awhile.
Well, the search continues! Only now we're seriously searching, and if I repeat it enough times, then it'll sink in, I guess.
I still have no idea what to get the kids for Christmas. I think Cree wants a didgeridoo or a theremin...with Reichter, who knows? Probably cash.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Altoona Sandwich


Pirates in Red Shirt Uniforms

Baseball season is finally winding down completely, and I've been following the Phillies because let's face the harsh truth that the Pirates are terrible. Worse even than terrible. 17 years of losing seasons, MK and I only go to a game when we get free tickets, and sometimes not even then. This last season we traded away our entire team for a cadre of prospects, except for our catcher, Donut, and that's only because he was on the DL during the purge and they couldn't get rid of him. I kind of like Donut, so I'm glad that we still have him, while at the same time wonder how long the Pirates will keep him.
Someday in the far off distant future, in a year or two, people who give a damn will be able to pin point the exact instant when the Pirates front office dismantled a perfectly submediocre team and replaced it with a roster that wouldn't pass muster as a Double A farm club in Altoona.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Precious Awkward Moments

One evening over this past summer MK, for reasons known only to her, mentioned to her oldest sister that we had broken the bed, and that I had repaired it.
Anyone who has ever broken a bed knows how this usually happens; during sexy times. The last thing MK or anyone in her family ever, EVER talks about are sexy times.
There was an uncomfortable silence, an all consuming void of sound in which the intimate congress gaffe finally hit home with MK and she attempted to recover by saying that we were innocently sitting on the bed when it happened. I was blushing furiously because my face seems to think that this is an effective defense mechanism. Stupid face.
More uncomfortable silence followed, because really, what is there to say? MK's sister is something of, I don't know...what is the word? Uncarnel. There.
My mind was whirring, drastically trying to glom onto something that I could say to clarify things and wrap them up all at the same time. Of course, if you're going to offer up another lie, and not even a good one at that, you may as well let the original one continue to simmer in the vacuum outside space. But I forged on, saying that the bed broke when I reached across to get a pen off the nightstand on MK's side to do the crossword puzzle. By now my face was the brilliant shade of red that a baboon's nether regions attains when in estrus.
The part of my brain that mercifully misremembers embarassing moments is now telling me that we moved on from this awkwardness and everyone had a jolly time, never to mention the broken bed again. For all I know the episode has been scoured from all of our memories, wiped clean, and quite possibly never even happened in the first place!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Trains



Reminds one and me of Petticoat Junction, what with the water tower and all. I saw every episode of that show and I never warmed to Uncle Joe. There's was something disturbing about him to my child's mind. Like the sort of man that your mother warns you against.

My Kind of Diner


I just love, love, LOVE little plastic towns with fake people who are real about being faux. I would so eat at Frank's Diner if I could just shrink and plastify myself.

Visiting German


MK and The German in front of Phipps Consrvatory & Botanical Gardens, October 16, 2009

Last week MK hosted a visiting German High School teacher, Elke. We had a wonderful time and I will say no more lest I cause an international incident.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Babysitting

Junior called me last night for several reasons, not the least of which was to ask me what's wrong with the Steelers so far this year. She and D-Man have season tickets. They're totally obsessed. Their livingroom has a black and gold color scheme that she somehow makes work. Maybe it's the medieval weaponry peppered around the STEELER COUNTRY banner. I dunno. I'm not into interior decorating.
Seamless segue, she wanted me to stop by this morning to drop off some recipes I'd printed up off the computer for her (all Serbian dishes that seem to be based on butter, sausage, and heavy cream), along with what was leftover of the pot of sauerkraut and navy bean soup that I'd made the other day. I said sure because, why not? I wouldn't dare go near that soup, even though the kids ate it and survived. I just think that my ass would become a noxious area and I would like to think that I might have sex at some point this week. Not ass sex, regular sex, but my ass is nearby, and you probably get the too graphic picture by now, so I'll cease and desist.
Well, Junior had all three of her grandchildren today, babysitting on her day off, and of course I got roped in to help. Three hours of playing Nerf golf with a two year old who walked around in his underpants just in case we had to get him on the pot in a hurry. I love how he says my name, which made up for the mind numbing boredom: jenn-uh-FUR. Tacking the 'aunt' on the front of it is too much bother for him. He's a little dude of action, not words or titles. I can respect that, and technically I'm Great-Aunt jennuhFUR, so what the hell.
One cool thing: I got him to stick his finger up his nose while I was taking his picture. The biggest grin with his right index finger up there to the main knuckle! Can't wait to get the film developed.
I was glad to make my escape, though. I don't know how Junior watches all three of those kids at once. At least the baby is a sleeper, so that's one shred of mercy. But the other two just go nonstop. I think that this is why stay at home moms drink in the afternoon. It certainly would explain a lot.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sameness Not Being The Same

I'm reading "Driving With Dead People" by Monica Holloway. Actually, I pick it up in fits of girded loins to read because her childhood is just a wee bit like my own: Terrible father, absent mother, left to your own devices as a teen. I read this woman's account of her childhood and instead of completely embracing it, I find myself finding her not telling the story right. As if I want her to tell my story in some respect that I myself have not had the guts, or talent, to tell on my own. So, instead of precisely reading her story, I'm looking for my own relatable touchstones that then I can hurl at her.
But, and I've been thinking about this all afternoon while watching football, the one thing that she does get spot-on right is that everything isn't horrible without reprieve. There are moments, in even the worst childhood, of startling beauty, familial connection, warmth and caring from friends that in memory stand in such stark contrast to the horror and strife that you daily not so much endure, as try to avoid. Junior and I always referred to it as 'flying under the radar'.
While I wend my way through the final chapters of the book, I think that I've finally started to appreciate how the same paths don't necessarily run parallel so much as become entirely divergent, while maintaining a commonality. How could it be otherwise?
What I want from this book it can never give, but at least it's made me think, and for that I think that it deserves an audience to consider all of the balefulness that lies within.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Former Soviet Union

Last week the mother of a friend died and I went to the early viewing at the funeral home with one of my sisters-in-law and Reichter. I doubt that when I die I'll draw such a large crowd. Maybe I should start working on that. Making friends to mourn me someday, weep over my corpse and say what a saint I was.
Anyway, my mom and other sister-in-law went to the evening viewing and swung by my place afterward to pick up Reichter (he had some yard work to do for my brother). They parked across the street and Reichter dashed over and got in the car. My mother leaned over from the passenger side and said out the driver's window, "Angel! Your hair looks wonderful! Of course now you'll go and ruin it, but today it looks great!"
And then the lot of them drove off. Yes, there is no compliment that is not accompanied by an insult. At least as issued from mom. She's exactly like Russia that way, an enigma wrapped in a riddle basted in a mystery. Junior first pinpointed this tendency several years ago and since then we've kept a keen ear trained for it. My insults almost always revolve around either my hair or the way I dress (What a darling sweater. Is it used?). Junior's insults usually involve her make up choices (You look pretty today, but I would never dare wear that much foundation), but can also include clothes and hair color choices.
Mom is this boundless source of amusement for us, and we try not to mock her too openly because then she clams up, and nobody wants that.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dead Bat Encounter


Deceased Myotis lucifugus

An untimely end for one of the healthy bats not suffering from White Nose Syndrome.

Stairway of the Damned


Condemned Stairway

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Like Lemmings Off A Cliff


Coast Guard on the Ohio River, Pittsburgh

That dread time is nigh upon us, the G-20 and thousands of law enforcement officers have descended upon the city. Reportedly the reason that Pittsburgh was selected to host the summit is because 17 other cities turned down the honor. Which means we were picked because we're easy and said 'yes'. It's going to be nearly impossible to get into downtown starting, I don't know, yesterday. The rivers are even closed off to boat and barge traffic.
MK is coming to my house this weekend because I promised to give her candy and a foot rub. I probably could have skipped the candy dangling, foot rubs seem to be a big motivator for her.
Anyway, that is it. Pittsburgh is a ghost town patrolled by the legions that chased us out and shut us down. It'll be interesting to see what sort of protests take place. I should grab my camera and venture forth to capture this historic event, but I have a fear of being tazered by a rattled cop in riot gear.
At least on Saturday we're taking advantage of being in parts north of the city and going a hike with the Pittsburgh Wilderness Women. Great name for a club. Makes me wish I still had that coonskin cap from childhood.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fringe 2.1




Fringe 2.1, "A New Day In The Old Town"

First, Agent Dunham returns to her world proper, in smashing fashion, crashing through the tinted windshield of an SUV.
Second, we've got an interloping assassin, a soldier shape shifter, possibly from the alternate universe, on a mission to interrogate and then neutralize Dunham. Orders given by a self typing typewriter. This post would certainly be more arbitrary, if not more interesting, if I had one of those.
For her part, after the smash and crash, Dunham is reportedly brain dead, lying in a persistent vegetative state in the hospital, until, that is, she comes to her senses in a fit of Greek. Believe me, in the context of this show, it all makes perfect sense.
The would be killer takes on the guise of Dunham's attending nurse and soon discovers that Dunham can't recall anything yet from her visit to the other side. She's still a bit brain dead, not all brain dead, just a smidgen. The nurse/soldier attempts to strangle the bed-ridden Dunham, only to be shot by new-on-the-Fringe- scene Agent Jessup, who is accompanied by Peter and Agent Charlie Acevido. The nurse/soldier, shot twice in the back, jumps out a window and flees to through the cargo bay into the hospital's basement, or, as realtors like to say, Lower Level. Charlie encounters the nurse/soldier first, near the incinerator, and squeezes off two quick shots before the scene cuts to Peter and Jessup. When they arrive the nurse/soldier is dead and there's a device used to facilitate the shape shifting lying on the cement floor.
End of story? Not so fast. Charlie, Agent Acevido is later dumped into the incinerator by none other than the nurse/soldier, now FBI agent/soldier, what killed him.
A few thoughts:
Who is going to do the autopsy on the nurse's body? Two things will present themselves to them at this time: She was shot only once, not four times, and the wound was post mortem. Oh, a third thing, she died of a broken neck.
Nina Sharp and Deputy Director Broyles kissed!!! To say that I did not see that coming does not do my myopic vision justice. Completely blind-sided.
The Greek phrase that Dunham uttered upon her miraculous recovery was something that Peter's mother used to say to him every night at bedtime. "Be a better man than your father."
Jessup seemingly has found a possible link between the Fringe Files and the book of Revelations.
An episode of The X-Files was playing in the background when the first guy was murdered.

Finally, best Walter lines:
"He invented the Ho Ho!"
"That is correct, Astericks."
I wonder at what point he'll just start saying 'Astrid'.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Note/Book

I pick up a lot of books second hand. You never know what you're going to find at a yard sale, a thrift store, the library. Sometimes I stumble across a true treasure (like the first edition of Tales of Sherlock Holmes), and sometimes I come across things people have left in books (cards, letters, bills, photographs). The latter fell in my lap today, a card and several cat pics. The card was from a mother to her son, written March 9, 1999, while he was in rehab to deal with alcoholism. It seemed invasive to read the card, so I set it down, but then I picked it back up and finished reading it. In a hand that was not easy to decipher she wrote lovingly of how she much she cared for him, but how he has to get this help so that he can manage the disease and move forward with his life, and how she and Newton (the cat) are always there for him.
Of course then I wondered what's happened to this man, his mother, and the cat in the last 10 years. Did he get sober? Did it stick? Is the cat still alive? Are any of them still alive? Will I write a letter to Reichter while he's off at basic training and he'll use it as a bookmarker and then someday someone else will come across what I said to him? Imagine how the tendrils of our lives get flung so far afield, falling into random hands.
Maybe we should all leave a note in a book.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Precious Beagle Moments


Junior and baby Bela

I keep this pic up on the 'fridge to remind me exactly what Bela does with her ears right before she's about to do evil. They flare out at the sides instead of lying flat, and then she nips at you, eats a magic marker and poops purple for days.
In this instance, when I took this photo, Bela twisted free and bit a hole in Junior's sweater. After that she ran around like a maniac while I chased her with a fly swatter and shaking a can of pennies. Eventually we all calmed down and watched 'The Bold and the Beautiful'.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Scibbles Up In Smoke


Creation in Crayon, a Study

This was lying around and I was finally straightening up, so before I pitched it, I scanned it and saved it for all eternity. Then it went in the burn barrel and sent a tiny prayer up in smoke.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Orchids


Orchids Phipps Conservatory

My Day

I spent this morning and part of the afternoon with my sister, Junior, and her three grandchildren. The grandchildren are all perfectly charming, enchanting little cherubs, a true blessing on humanity. No, really! We played some games, blew some bubbles, somebody walked around pantless after a successful trip to the potty. All in all more pleasant than usual around a 4 yo, 2 yo and infant. Infants are over-rated anyway. Sure, it's cool to have this tiny person, but let's face it; until you can support your own head, you have little to offer.
I did particularly enjoy my opportunity to boss the toddlers around. Pumice my feet! Light my cigarette! Eat that spider! It was better than making my mom cry over Scrabble.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lamb's Quarters


Lamb's Quarters

This is just about my favorite edible weed! Click here to read more about it, if you feel so inclined.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oh Figs!



MK's neighbor, Carl, is moving and he gave us his much coveted, by me at least, fig tree! I ate a fig off it last night and it was delicious. Sweet and almost juicy, more pulpy than actually juicy, I suppose. Still stellar in my estimation!
Tomorrow I finally head off for jury selection. If I'm not selected than i just get sent home, and if I am selected I have to sit in on trial at the end of the month. Here's hoping I get the boot!

Crow Skull in Contrast



Remembered that crow skull I boiled up a couple of months ago? Yeah, me too. I'm tinkering with it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Tears of an Existentialist Clown


Bliss in Orange

Until this weekend I had no idea that the Lingerie Football League (I wouldn't click on that link if I were you) existed. While out walking Bela I picked up a free copy of the afternoon Tribune-Review and buried somewhere between the sports section and the entertainment section was a piece about the Miami Caliente of the LFL. Scantily clad women playing full contact football available only on pay-per-view (a season pass is only $125 for all 20 games!), begs the question: What frat boy cooked up this scheme?
First, a little history about the LFL: The first LFL game took place during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime as a pay-per-view alternative to the actual halftime activities. Team Dream (now the Los Angeles Temptation) defeated Team Euphoria (now the New York Euphoria) 6-0. Since then 10 teams have been added to the league and 2009 marks the first full schedule for the league.
The season kicked off this past weekend with a match between the hosting Chicago Bliss and the Miami Caliente. Bliss won 29-19, but who cares about the score? The stands were packed with cheering men who got to drink buckets of beer and watch some form of football being played by women in their underwear and hockey helmets. What's the deal with the hockey helmets? I should be asking what's the deal with the uniforms, but that's a given, and I don't want to appear to be too obvious in my observations. I'll lose my credibility.
Oh, speaking of credibility, here's what Caliente wide reciever Kaley Tuning had to say about the LFL: "I've seen people say it is a joke and it is degrading and it makes me mad. We are real athletes."
Do I find the league degrading and objectifying? Of course! It's utterly ridiculous, worse even than donkey basketball. It's just too ridiculous to even fully comprehend the level of its ridiculousness, which of course means that it's raking in the bucks and probably isn't going to go away anytime soon.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Go Figure



It appears to be an inevitable outcome that my youngest son, my baby, is hellbent on joining the Air Force Reserves. He, along with his father (I resisted using the adjective 'hapless' because I'm trying to be nicer, dammit), visited the recruiting office this morning. Riechter was all excited, nervous, a little too thrilled at all of the prospects. As long as he passes his physical, drug test, and aptitude test, then he can be sworn in by his father because he, at onetime long, long ago, was an officer in the Air Force. He should sail through his physical without issue, and I asked him if he's ever around Junior and D-Man when they're smoking pot, and he said no, which makes the drug test look good, so as long as he doesn't panic during his written exam, he should be good to go...
My baby! Yes, I'm going to be That Woman, wailing over her man-child shipping off to some hell hole in Texas (it's my understanding that all of Texas, to some degree, is hell. They're very Dante-ian down there) for basic training and god knows what else.
I do not come from military people. The men in my family are all too contrary to take orders, and probably too cowardly to risk their necks for anyone other than themselves. I'm probably being overly pat and harsh, but I've never felt inclined to delve deeper into why there's not one traceable ancestor who has served in the military. But, on Riechter's father's side of the family, all of the men at some point go into the military, where they get scarred for life, and thereby become men. It's a tradition.
Honestly, I can't say that I understand why he has to do this, but he feels that he does, and he really, really wants to, or MK and I would've talked him out of it by now. Part of me is also proud, but that proud part has to stand in the long shadow of my fear...so we shall see how this turns out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Drama, That Didn't Have To Be So Dramatic

My sister's daughter, which would make her my niece, has two kids and was scheduled to unleash the third this morning after the OB induced labor. Instead, the baby went into distress and an emergency c-section was performed. Of course I got an hysterical phone call from my mother beginning with:
Mom - "Did your sister call you?"
Me - "Yesterday, but not today. Why?"
Mom - "TS has to have an emergency c-section. Something's wrong with the baby. I'm on my way to the hospital right now. Bye."
Click.
Ok. So, I'm worried about the baby, worried about TS, and pissed at my mother for dumping all of this on me and then hanging up! In the handbook of how not to handle a family crisis, the first chapter deals solely with dumping stressful news on someone and then cutting them off while you dash off to either spread the news further, or get your hair done and chat/shout it over with the other girls under the dryer.
Christ mom! I had all of these questions and all I got was a quick 'click'.
Anyway, I called my sister, and TS by that time had the baby (girl, 7lbs 2 oz, 19 inches long, thick shock of black hair, like my mom, that purveyor of doom), and everyone was fine. Junior had seen the baby, and TS was still in recovery. Then I told her what mom had done to me, basically scared the bejesus out of me and then hung up. Junior just sighed and whispered into her cellphone, 'I've got her helicopering around me right now. Makes me wonder why I never tried heroin.'
What a day. To combat my anxiety I made the ultimate comfort food, a pot of chicken soup! I also baked a loaf of bread to go along with. The carrots and onions in the soup came straight from my garden and when I diced the carrots juice was dripping from them! Juiciest and sweetest carrots I've ever grown, just glorious. I may have added too much acini de pepe, but I don't care. The more starch the better.
Finally, welcome to the clan, little Olivia! You and I share the same mitochondrial DNA passed down to us from the ever alarmist, Goo Goo (mom's grandma moniker).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fringe Comic Round-Up, Sort of...


Comics, while a glorious diversion in and of themselves, can also be an informative and fun tie-in to a TV show or movie franchise, providing back story, or just more story. Done right you can have something as stellar as the Buffy Season 8 comic book, and then when done not so right you can wind up with the new X-Files comic dud.
Really, truly, I don't want to come off sounding like some dweeb fangirl gushing over all things 'Fringe', but just as the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, so too have I climbed willingly into this handcart to careen wildly on my eternal descent. Resignation to one's fate can be a virtue, if one wears sensible shoes.
Like nearly everything in my life, I discovered the 6 issue 'Fringe' comic by accident one day at New Dimension Comics. The counter girl was yelling at me, saying that I was too early to pick up the latest in the Buffyverse, so I was feigning shopping to kill time. As often happens while faux browsing, I found something I wanted, needed, had to have. That something was issue #2 of the 'Fringe' comic, issue #1 having sold out ( I later found a copy of it at Phantom of the Attic in Pittsburgh).
Now that the special 6 issue edition of the comic has wrapped up, and the second season of the broadcast version of 'Fringe' is set to resume on September 17 at 9pm, I have an appreciation for the wealth of backstory provided in the comics for both Walter Bishop and William Bell. Two young, brilliant, if somewhat undisciplined, scientists. The comic definitely augments those two characters, and given how 'Fringe' ended it's first season, any information on Bell is more than welcomed! Thankfully it's not just information for information's sake, but framed in tales of time travel, floating heads preserved in jars, clones with heterochromatic eyes, among other freaky goodnesses.
With some luck the comic will return during the show's hiatus again next summer and give fans something to tide us over once more. Until then, I have only the Batwoman comic and the Buffy stuff to divert attention.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Judi, Judi, Judi



When I read the headline: Oscar Winner enters Dollhouse! The voice in my head was pleading, please let it be Dame Judi Dench (here seen mostly topless decades ago), but no. It's Keith Carradine. I didn't even know that he'd won an Academy Award (he won for best original song, according to imdb).
Is it just me, it is probably just me, but doesn't that show need more women on it? Especially a couple of older women? If it's semi-nudity that they're looking for, Dame Judi has shown that she's willing to go there. Just imagine the fun with the teaser the marketing crew could have with a somewhat disrobed OBE recipient on a failing US show. It almost writes itself! "Next week on an exciting all-new Dollhouse, Dame Judith Dench is reanimated as the first 'doll', 'Honey Potts', and has to go undercover as a stripper to discover the identity of the killer dealing in counterfeit Hello Kitty merchandise!
I don't want to see Keith Carradine at all, much less sans attire, and unless he's doing a sequel to "Andre", which is impossible because SPOILER: Andre dies at the end; then I don't care what he's up to. Or down to.
I'm a huge Joss Whedon fan, but I don't know if this show can be fixed. I want it to be fixed because I also love Eliza Dushku, but my whole relationship with this show is a lot like how you feel about somebody iffy that you're dating. How involved do you want to get with this person? One day they're there on your couch eating the last of the Doritos, and the next thing you know they've stolen your dog, car, wallet and headed west to 'find themselves'.
Sigh...I have to say that I much more looking forward to the return of Fringe than I am of Dollhouse.

Fallingwater




All Photos By MK and her digital camera of doom




On Saturday MK and I visited Fallingwater, the house that Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned by the Edgar Kaufmann Sr. family to build for $40,000, but ran over $150,000 when it was finally completed in 1937. The design is bold, to be sure, but the whole thing would've fallen in Bear Run (the creek-like water flow it straddles) had massive reinforcements not been added.
Then there's the issue of mold and mildew (Edgar Sr. nicknamed the place 'Rising Mildew'), what with the house built as it is over water. I've been to FW before, and I didn't recall it stinking as much as it did on this visit, but then I was there in dry November instead of humid August. Now the place reeks of various forms of fungi, which I am sure have so thoroughly infiltrated the cushions of the original furniture, which is still in the house, that nothing can be done except to pretend like the joint don't stink. Of course we're constantly warned to not touch anything, and certainly DO NOT SIT on the furniture. Lady, tour guide lady, you couldn't pay me to park my keister on that hot bed of microorganisms. No way no how.
MK got four free passes to FW by donating to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which oversees the management of FW as dictated from the grave by Edgar Jr. Seriously, Edgar Jr. included so many stipulations in bequeathing FW to the WPaC that during the tour no fewer than 987 times were Edgar Jr's wishes brought up on how FW be managed and maintained for a thousand years to come. It's why the original furniture sits there rotting, why the Kaufmann family's books are disintergrating on the shelves, and why some original artworks by Deigo Rivera and Picasso are in danger of degrading in this damp environment. Don't even suggest running dehumidifiers or installing climate control units because Edgar Jr. specifically stated in his bequest that the house be left as it was and nothing be added or changed in regards to the furnace or lack of AC.
It's not like I had a terrible time there. MK and I enjoyed the company of D and A, D's husband. Before we went D made us the most delicious lunch of homemade pizza with fresh garden sauce and mozzarella. Best pizza I've had in ages! A had been to FW before too, D and MK were newbies, and probably dazzled by the precariousness of the house perched on a hillside over a stream, but A, like me, on this second visit noticed everything that I noticed with the smell of mildew and rot abounding.
Ah well. At least the company and the pizza was great! And FW is impressive, in a way. The guest house is actually a better living space than the main house, with higher ceilings and a bedroom that isn't the size of a walk-in closet.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Things To Come







The 2nd annual Living Dead Festival (as in Night of The Living Dead) is slated for October 30 & 31 in Evans City, PA. I saw the flyer for it this morning while we had breakfast at our favorite greasy spoon, Kountry Kitchen, or more simply, KK.
Evans City's link to the movie classic is based on the early scene at the graveyard and the line, "They're coming to get you, Barbara." Yes, yes, they are.
I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but my mother's side of the family is/are (why do I always mess up that form?) all buried at Evans City Cemetery, and sometimes MK and I take the dog there for a walk. It's a pleasant walk about, especially if we visit all of my ancestors graves because the Germans and the Italians are on opposites sides of the grounds from each other. Typical. The Italians have a better view, as it were, perched as they are atop a hill over looking the Connoquenessing Valley. The Germans are all by the maintenance building, so they get mowed first. Even in death, we all have our priorities.
I doubt that we'll attend the festival, I shun heavy make-up gatherings (my pores clog easily, even from foundation 'drift'), but we might drive by, just to say that we were there.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pastoral Idiocy And Meaning



I'm feeling all pastoral. I went out to my brother's house and these bales of hay were strewn in the sloping field below where the chokecherries grow. I was out picking chokecherries to flavor the cough syrup I'll be making in the fall. I made juice from them and now that's in the freezer so that it'll keep before I add the bark, whiskey, and honey.
Hopefully I keep my streak of not poisoning anyone with my herbal concoctions going for at least one more year.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fayum Mummy Portraits


When I found out about the Fayum Mummy Portraits I was a bit fascinated by them. Many of them are in pristine condition, unlike this example. They came into Egyptian vogue during the Roman-era, about 2,000+ years ago.
I'm partial to panel paintings, don't know why. But I do know that when the encaustic (heated bees wax and pigment) technique is employed on them, the effect is rich and vivid. Not all of the Mummy Portraits use this method, some are rendered in tempura paints, which lend themselves perfectly to realistic representation.
Either way, it's a seldom seen glimpse into ancient art.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bermuda

My sister, Junior, dropped by after work yesterday. MK and I were out back burning some of the debris leftover after the tree that fell down got chain sawed up. Junior is somewhat extremely vain about her looks. I treasure her as a sister, but it's a fatal character flaw, not to mention exhausting. We all have fatal character flaws, those little and big things about us that when we die somehow get spotlighted during the eulogy. Thank God I won't have to endure what gets said about me after I croak.
So, Junior and the rest of us were all sitting out on the porch, when she started regaling us with a tale of D-Man, her boyfriend (who she refuses o marry, but that's another story). D-Man is terrified of bees. He's not allergic, just terrified. His fear of bees extends to flies, in case it might be a bee. I've seen this phobia in action, D-Man bolting and fleeing if a flying insect gets too close to him. It's funny, absurd even. MK and I saw him tear at his shirt, afraid a bee had flown down the collar (nothing had, once Junior was called in to inspect him). Sometimes Junior gets frustrated with him; how he doesn't believe in history, how he confuses coyotes with werewolves, how he got them banned for life from their favorite bar. My advice to her is that they've been together now for eight years, nothing he does is really 'new', just an extention of his own preposterousness, and that no matter what, she finds him amusing. Hell, we all find his antics amusing. Like how he calls my former girlfriend 'Bermuda'. He's not hinting at some deeper meaning here, he's always called her that.
"Whatever happened to Bermuda?" he asked Junior the other day.
"What? The island?"
"No, the other one."
"You mean XXXXX?"
"Yeah, her."
"I don't know, and quit calling her Bermuda."
As for me, I think that Bermuda suits her.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Verbage

I've been indulging my paranoia by reading up on what would happen if (when) the poles magnetically reverse. Lots of theories, many of them outlandishly cranky ( the reptilean aliens will invade Earth...no seriously), but some of them much more thoughtful and posited by geophysicists. Anyway, one guy suggested that the coastal regions of the Earth could be 'attacked' by tsunamis. Is it just me, or do tsunamis not technically attack? It would be like saying that an earthquake attacked San Francisco, or that a blizzard attacked Buffalo.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The sign post up ahead...


Once a sign becomes illegible, can you do whatever you want? Clearly I trespassed. Consequences be damned. I'm a rebel.