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.