Dixie Peach: August 2007

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Shuffle - Be Careful What You Wish For Edition

I often lament that I need something to shake me out of my routine. I complain that I get into a rut. So what did fate deliver for me this week? My brother's cancer surgery and my gallbladder making an ass of itself.

I need to start getting a little more specific with my wishes.

Other bits:
  • A couple days ago Poppy made a blog entry discussing an article she found on And while the theme of the article is stupid, the word itself that it discusses - frenemy - makes me want to claw out my eyes. In fact I'm simply up to my ass in pop culture speak. There's slang and then there's the emergence of faux words and phrases that seem to be there solely for the purpose of integrating themselves into pop culture. To make the speaker seem hip and cool but in essence don't do more than make the speaker look like a sheep following what seems to be the trend of the day.

    I don't think I'm going to be able to keep my sanity if I read one more blog where someone tells us that they "heart" something. Let me see if I have this right. Twenty, twenty-five years ago we started to use a symbol to replace a word - in a publicity campaign no less - and now we're using a word to replace the symbol that we used to replace a word. Convolution, anyone? Then we have the word "chillax". We began to use the word "chill" as slang for "relax" but now we've had to tack on the ending of "relax" because it seems that a whole generation of people saying "chill" just wasn't enough to get across the idea of relaxation.

    I could perhaps give someone a pass on this if that person were fourteen years old. However if you're old enough to have ever parented a fourteen year old I have to advise that one day you'll look back on your days of hearting something and chillaxing with the same chagrin as you have now when you remember the days you proclaimed something to be "far out" and called someone a "jive turkey". Dyn-O-Mite!

  • I'd been chatting with Darling Mollie online last night and the subject turned to Senator Larry Craig of Idaho and the the troubles he's in for allegedly trolling for love in a public restroom. We'd both listened to the audio of the police officer questioning Senator Craig and speculated that this guy simply isn't a very good liar and that him being a "fairly wide guy" wasn't going to explain why his foot was outside of the perimeters of the bathroom stall and just who picks up toilet paper from a public restroom floor anyway?

    About twenty minutes passed after Darling Mollie said goodbye to me so she could leave work and my phone rang. "I just wanted you to know that I went to the restroom and tested Larry Craig's explanation and it doesn't wash. The man would have to be a freakin' acrobat to sit with his "wide stance" and reach behind him to pick up a piece of toilet paper. I even put toilet paper on the ground to see if I could pick it up and it's nearly impossible to reach back in the manner he said he was reaching - and I'm still young and in good shape! I'm not buying his story. He's trying to sell us a shit milkshake and I'm not buying it!"

    That's how you know your friends love you. When they know you don't have frequent need of being in a public restroom in which you can test out theories and voluntarily do it for you and then on top of that make a trans-Atlantic call to you to report the findings.

  • I've simply got to find a way to turn off my voice mailbox. I seldom have a need for it and the times when its inconvenience often outweighs the times it makes life easier. Example: Last night while talking with Darling Mollie on the phone the call got cut off. I was blathering on about something when the call cut out so I didn't realize at first what had happened. In the meantime Darling Mollie had called back and the call went straight to voice mail which sort of freaked her out since the message is in German only and Mollie knows just enough German to stand on the Ku'damm in Berlin and ask where the Chanel store is. She called back once again, our conversation was completed and that was that. Until this morning.

    As soon as 8:00am rolled around the voice mailbox called to inform me that I had a message. Let me just say that I recognize 8:00am for three reasons only - to get to a medical appointment, to catch a plane and to attend church. If it's for something else, leave me the hell alone. I was as pissed as when someone unexpectedly rings my doorbell and they're not holding a box from in their hands.

  • Even after being rudely awakened by my nagging voice mailbox my day has still been wonderful. I had to go to the American foods section of the grocery store that's in the basement of Karstadt and what was there? Hellmann's mayonnaise. Tiny, overpriced squeeze bottles of yummy mayonnaise love. They haven't had Hellmann's there in years. Thank you, Karstadt for taking pity on a Hellmann's freak.

Bixente the iPod, a pop icon himself, may be occasionally carried by the whims of popular culture but there's nary a whiff of scandal around him. And he's as well loved as Hellmann's. Time to shuffle.
  1. Shades of Blue - Karl Shuman Band
  2. Sea Of No Cares - Great Big Sea
  3. Call It Love - Poco
  4. Paradise - Meat Puppets
  5. I've Been To Memphis - Lyle Lovett
  6. Radio Free Europe - REM
  7. Friday I'm In Love - The Cure
  8. Love On A Farmboy's Wages - XTC
  9. You Belong To Me - Dean Martin
  10. Los Rancheros - Adam Ant
Have a good weekend. And keep your wide stance out of trouble.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Brother and Sisters

I'd like to express my gratitude to all of you for your kind good wishes and prayers for my brother. I called my mother yesterday evening to see if she'd received any word from him but at that time she'd not heard from him. My sister happened to be there with my mom and when I spoke with her she said she'd left voice mail at his home and on his cell phone and on my oldest nephew's cell but as of then hadn't heard back from them.

I took it that no news was good news. At least he'd made it through surgery safely.

Today I received email from my sister say that she'd spoke with our brother. He was back home and one of his buddies was with him. My brother is divorced and three of his kids live in Ohio and the other, my oldest nephew, is in the Navy and is currently stationed in Twentynine Palms, CA getting ready to ship off to Iraq in a few weeks. We were hoping he could get a few days away to go back up to Los Angeles and spend some time with his dad. Sister didn't tell me if that request had been granted.

Anyway, the surgery was successful but unfortunately it was more than had been initially expected. The tumor was in the left testicle and that was removed but the ultrasound showed some areas of concern in the right. It turns out it was cancer as well so unfortunately both testicles had to be removed. Any further treatment hasn't yet been determined until they do the histology. And now is when I'm beginning to get scared. I worry that the cancer was in both testicles and it means that it has spread to the lymph nodes.

But whatever it is already is so worrying is pointless. Instead of wishing that it's not what it already may be I need to focus on being supportive of my brother and praying that any further treatment he may need be successful. I want him to defeat cancer.

I suppose it's a sign that I've been in Germany a long time but I was absolutely shocked to hear that my brother was back home the day after surgery to remove both of his testicles due to cancer. I had my ovaries removed four years ago due to large benign tumors and I was hospitalized for two weeks. I understand removing my ovaries was a lot more invasive than the sort of surgery my brother had but damn! As he rolled through did they ask him if he wanted fries with that?

My sister said that Brother felt okay but was tired and was sleeping a lot. And he sounded good too so that was nice to hear. She offered to come out to Los Angeles to be with him but he declined and said everything was under control but I imagine if he needs her he'll ask for her.

I hate being so far away and feeling helpless. I hate that there are still so many unknowns in the situation and that unwanted answers can be very dire indeed. But it costs just as much to be positive as to be negative so I'm putting on a brave face and I'm spending my time educating myself to the possibilities and what courses of action are offered. If there's anything worse than being worried it's being ignorant and worried.

Again, thank you for your kind words and support. They're very helpful at a time like this. Knowing that I'm not alone as this situation unfolds means a lot.

And Mr. Gallbladder Attack seems to have hit the road for a while. If he can just leave me be until I can get back from my trip I'll see about having my gallbladder removed. And I guarantee you I'll spend more time in the hospital having a simple gallbladder removal than my brother did to have his jewels snatched.

It just doesn't seem right.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Such a Talent for Picking the Most Appropriate Time

You know I'm not one for long range plans but this week I had it all set up to start fall house cleaning. I have the time and I definitely have the need. Hell, I was even sorta looking forward to it.

Instead I'm spending far too much time in the bathroom purging myself of whatever I've just eaten. Mr. Gallbladder Attack seems to be back in town and he evidently wants my undivided attention.

And I can't even get the SOB to pitch in an help me clean the balcony.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Don't Look My Way

My fifty-one-year-old brother found out late last week that he has cancer. Testicular cancer.

This was not the news I was expecting to receive when my brother called me last night. I'd been out picking up my MIL at a friend's house and missed his call. He sounded perfectly normal on the voice mail message he left and I assumed he just called to check in and see what was new with us. I'd spoken to my mother on Friday and she'd mentioned that he had told her that he wanted to come with my niece to visit us next summer. I told my mom that I was thrilled with the idea of him coming to visit and I assumed she'd relayed that message and it had inspired him to give me a call.

If I had to predict the topics of conversation in which we'd engage when I called him back, him telling me that he's going for surgery on Tuesday to have his testicle removed would not have made the top ten. It wouldn't have made the top ten thousand.

Brother gave me the news and I didn't know what to do with it. Of course I'm concerned but even though a day has passed since he told me I still am not quite sure what to do with the information. Being worried and scared seems pointless and unhelpful. I asked him questions but he doesn't know what's going to happen past surgery because that's when they'll be able to determine whether the cancer has spread. He doesn't feel sick - all he can say is that he can feel the tumor and he likens it to having a stone in your shoe. It's irritating but not terribly painful. I asked him questions and told him I'm praying for an excellent outcome to his surgery and that I love him. I said I'd keep in touch with our mother to find out the latest. And then we talked about him and my niece coming to visit. Hard news delivered, looked at and put aside. Now we'll talk about normal things because moving forward is what we do best.

My brother is not the first person I know who has had cancer. I've had friends who have been diagnosed with cancer and some of them have since passed away from it. A cousin died from breast cancer. Both of my maternal grandparents died from cancer. And still I felt a detachment from the disease. Cancer was something that I could liken to a distant acquaintance - maybe my face seemed familiar but it didn't know my name. It feels a little different now.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Shuffle - Won't Get Fooled Again Edition

Darling Mollie sent me this story today about my nightmare come to life - a Big Mac museum. There's a museum devoted to one of the nastiest things man has ever created for a fellow human to eat.

But I try to like them.

Big Macs, when prepared properly, look good. I love hamburgers and Big Macs just seem like the ultimate. And so once every...oh...eight or ten years I attempt to eat one.

I seldom go to McDonald's and when I do my menu choices are pretty well limited to cheeseburgers and fries. The little cheeseburgers with those teeny reconstituted onions. Once in a while I will get a craving for two of them with a small order of fries and that does me fine for six or so months. Then it happens that I'll see someone getting a Big Mac and somehow I think I want one. Really, they're just pretty, pretty hamburgers. When they're all stacked up neatly and not all smashed and looking like they were used for wheel chocks they look tasty. I get swayed by the pretty and order one.

And you know it's always a mistake. I get my Big Mac - and let me pause here to say that every McDonald's I've ever been to in Germany makes their food look better than McDonald's in America. Much tidier and appetizing. Must be that German penchant for neatness. Anyway, I'm heed the siren's song of the tidy, tasty looking Big Mac, order it, open the little paper box and that's when the nightmare begins. I take my first bite and I realize my mistake - my mistake in thinking that this time it'll somehow taste like something I'd want to eat.

There are foods that fool me every time. Big Macs. Cottage cheese. Oh cottage cheese looks all creamy and lovely and when I think that this time it won't taste like wet rubber pellets I'm proven wrong. Asparagus. Now I really try to like asparagus. I make a yearly effort to like it. Springtime in Germany is asparagus time when the whole country goes ape over the luscious, delicious white stems. It never works for me. I could drown it in hollandaise and it still tastes like a pre-chewed tree branch.

The biggest food trickster are Manwiches - you know that sloppy joe sauce you buy in a can. Every time I've ever eaten a Manwich I've thrown up an hour later. Every time. And yet when I lived in America I would think "I can't come up with a thing to make for dinner. Hmmm...I've got some ground beef. Maybe I'll try that Manwich stuff again. Surely it won't make me throw up again." and before I could get the supper dishes washed I'd be in the bathroom purging myself of Manwich.

And it's the same with Big Macs. While they don't make me throw up - I don't usually get down enough to throw back up - I think that this time will be different. I'm seduced by their pretty looks and think "Maybe my tastes have changed. I used to hate broccoli. I used to hate oysters. My tastes for them changed. Perhaps I have, in the past ten years, developed a Big Mac palate.". And the bitch fools me every time.

So the Big Mac museum will not be on my schedule of things to do on my visit home. Leaves more time for me to hit every yarn shop I can find.

Let's shuffle.
  1. You Never Even Called Me By My Name - David Allen Coe
  2. Black Night - Deep Purple
  3. I Hear A Symphony - The Supremes
  4. Love On The Wrong Side Of Town - Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes
  5. Cigarette Dangles - Pursuit of Happiness
  6. Southern Girl - Better Than Ezra
  7. Today - Raul Malo (the tasty, tasty Raul Malo)
  8. Jessica - The Allman Brothers Band
  9. My Little Town - Paul Simon with Art Garfunkel
  10. In The Heartland - Michael Stanley Band


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Turn the Page

When I was in college I had a boyfriend who loved the song Turn the Page by Bob Seger. He'd sing along and even do the "Turn the paaaaaaa-juuuhh!" along with Bob.

Anyway, here's a book meme. You know me loves the book memes. Makes me look all literate and emphasizes the irony of me saying things like "me loves". Sorta. And I'll do it because I loves me some Hilda and Katya. Me loves a lot of stuff, eh? Too bad proper grammar isn't always one of those things.

What are you reading now?
I'm currently re-reading Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote. I'd recently watched Capote and from seeing Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee together I got the urge for this re-reading. Harper Lee is his Idabel and Truman Capote is her Dill. And since I like a bit of fluff to read I've just started Needled to Death by Maggie Sefton. It combines three of my favorite things - fluff mystery novel, books in a series and knitting! With free blueberry pie recipe and two knitting patterns included! How could I say no to that?

Do you have any idea what you'll read when you're done with that?
I've got a lot on my plate between now and the time I leave town in October so my reading time will be limited. I just don't have time for any proper reading so I probably won't read much more than the book that comes after Needled to Death, A Deadly Yarn. This one has a recipe for chili rellenos!

What's the worst thing you were ever forced to read?
Forced? Like for school? That's the only time I can think of where I'd be forced to read anything. My top pick would be The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Get up, pee, get in boat, row, row, row, fish, fish, fish, row, row, row, fish gets eaten, row home, pee, go to bed. If we're talking about crap I read willingly, if misguidedly, my choice would be The Bridges of Madison County. Such pretentious, pretentious crap. This piece of shit makes any drivel that Nicholas Sparks ever even thought about writing look like Shakespeare.

What's one book you always recommend to just about anyone?
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. Irreverent, to be sure but I love the humanity of Jesus in this book.

Admit it, sadly the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don't they?
No, but does.

Is there a book you absolutely love, but for some reason, people never think it sounds interesting, or maybe they read it and don't like it at all?
Stone from the River by Ursula Hegi can be a hard sell to others. "Okay, it's a book that takes place in Nazi Germany in a little village along the Rhine and the main character is a dwarf woman who loves to trade gossip..." I love it though. One of my favorites.

Do you read books while you eat?
Not meals but I think a bowl of popcorn and an icy cold Coke go quite well with fluffy mystery series novels and semi-autobiographical first novels by flamboyant Southern-born gay authors both.

While you bathe?
Oh hell, me being in a bathtub alone is dangerous enough without me mixing in reading.

While you watch movies or TV?
Occasionally. Depends on how boring the TV program is and how fluffy the novel I'm reading is.

While you listen to music?
I can do anything to music. Anyone can do anything to music. If a surgeon can remove someone's big ass brain tumor while listening to Miles Davis wail then I can read Needled to Death while listening to The Fratellis.

While you're on the computer?
I can't even fathom why I'd ever want to. There's multi-tasking and then there's being completely ridiculous.

When you were little did other children tease you about your reading habits?
No, but I believe I'm of the age where during my childhood kids didn't get teased about stuff like enjoying reading. Now if you had a weirdly shaped head or goofy glasses or dressed like your granny that was a different matter.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. Staying up until nearly 4:00 AM to finish it reminded me of when I would drive from Virginia to Mississippi. It's a very long trip to make in one day but if you stop at the halfway point you'd be stopped around 1:oo PM so why stop? If you stop when you're really, really tired then you're stopping about 60 miles from your destination so you just keep on going because you can't wait to finish.

No tagging - steal if you love books. Or if you're desperate for something to write about.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Like the Love Child of Hazel and Alice

While chatting with Darling Mollie last night I mentioned that it's time for me to get going with fall cleaning. I need plenty of time to get it done and completely out of my hair by the time I leave for the US because nothing makes me crazier than the idea of my MIL cleaning my apartment with me not here. That would literally leave me sleepless. I've mentioned recently that I'm territorial and my MIL cleaning things and putting stuff away in places where I'll never find them again gives me a twitch. But my MIL, a lady who loves to keep busy, will need a distraction while she's here with B so I'll leave her the windows and curtains to wash. 'Cause I'm nice like that.

I'm not good with housework. I don't do badly at it - mostly because my apartment isn't all that big - but I'd rather do other things than housework. And I sort of feel bad when I'm off in the kitchen or one of the bedrooms cleaning stuff. B's all alone in the living room and he gets a little lonesome when I'm not there and I'd simply rather be with him. If given the choice of scrubbing the kitchen sink when it's not in dire need of cleaning or grooving with my husband for a few hours, the choice is clear. This could be why my living room is always pretty clean and my back bedroom looks like a junk heap. But the clutter is beginning to overtake rooms and there's dusty film building up overall and despite my being able to lay my hands on the bill from 18 months ago when the kitchen heater was removed, I've misplaced a good 15 skeins of yarn - yarn I can't seem to find anywhere. Cardboard boxes from catalog orders build up to extreme proportions. I'm convinced that cardboard boxes come to my apartment to die. Once a box finds its way inside my apartment it's going to stay and breed and make more little boxes and it continues until I finally have enough, whip out the box cutter and send their chopped up souls to the recycler. Compressed and reinforced paper reincarnation.

It's generally at this point where I look at everything I need to do and begin to feel overwhelmed and feelings of being overwhelmed are just one step away from feelings of futility and feelings of futility lead to becoming one of those people who are found dead under stacks of newspapers with 47 cats milling about.

So I told Mollie that instead of trying to clean my whole apartment in two or three days of doing nothing but cleaning I'll do it over seven or ten days, a day for some rooms, two or three days for others. Make a list of everything that needs to be taken care of in each room and work on that room alone on its assigned day. Don't even try to put misplaced items belonging in other rooms back where they belong. Instead I'll throw them into a couple plastic bins I have and when everything is clean I'll put back the things in the rooms where they belong. Maybe that'll get rid of the virtual library of books that is beginning to form on my washing machine.

I'd considered making this a blogging project and taking some before and after shots but that may prove to be too humiliating. Taking pictures of the now grimy corners of my bathroom floor or the dusty kitchen shelves may be rather like me taking a picture of my ass. There's a 50% chance that yours is just as pale, dimpled and flabby as mine but it doesn't lessen the cringing thought that you'll know exactly how pale, dimpled and flabby it is. Maybe I'll take some less embarrassing pictures - pictures that would be the equivalent of a photo of my pale, flabby upper arm.

I figure some areas will just take one day. My bathroom shouldn't take more than two or three hours, including throwing away cosmetics I hate or no longer use. My kitchen may take two days. The refrigerator needs to be washed out and mystery items need to be purged from the freezer. And the jar of marshmallow fluff that I bought for an outrageous price and made only one sandwich from before thinking "Eh. It's not quite as tasty as I remember it being back when I was ten years old." needs to be unearthed from the back of the pantry cabinet and tossed. The living room will be a quicker clean but there are cabinets that need to be re-organized and those "semi-important papers" in the Ziploc bag that I spoke of last Friday should really be put in a place a bit safer than a drawer. I imagine most of them could actually just go through the shredder and then into the recycler. Letter size office paper reincarnation.

I'm planning this frenzy of cleaning for when my MIL and Gerd will be gone on a trip for three days. I'm hoping to do most of the cleaning in the mornings but some will have to be done in the afternoons and few things irk me more than to be hip deep in Swiffer cloths and disinfectant spray and have visitors drop over. If I can have some peace from them while I get to the tough stuff then so much the better. Cleaning! Organizing! Making lists and crossing things out! I don't have time to entertain!

But my grungy oven? I'm going to leave that for my MIL as a surprise for her to clean while I'm gone. Just so she knows I love her.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Thing to Count On and the Unexpected

When I fly, there are things I can be fairly certain will happen. I always ask for an aisle seat so I can count on my arm being banged by the drink cart. I know I will order tomato juice to drink.

Not to digress, but I heard that tomato juice is extremely popular with people in airplanes. Evidently it's something people don't often drink at home and when they see it offered on the plane they think "Hmmm! Tomato juice! I haven't had that in a while. Give me a tomato juice!". They then will associate tomato juice with airplane travel and order it every time because it then becomes a travel ritual for them.

Anyway, I know I will wear my Birkenstock clogs on the plane. I know I will forget that I'm in a pressurized cabin and will open my little cup of yogurt with it facing me so that it spritzes on my top. And I know that I will look forward to watching the in-flight movie but I will end up hating the movie.

It happens every time. It could be that it's merely coincidence that the feature film is of something not my taste. Past films shown to me as I cross the Atlantic Ocean have included The Parent Trap - the Lindsay Lohan one - The Avengers, Unbreakable, The Mask of Zorro, The Evening Star, The Manchurian Candidate - the remake with Denzel Washington. All of them - boring, annoying crap. Maybe it's the idea that I'm watching them while on a plane that makes them so terrible. If I were seeing them in the theater or in the comfort of my living room perhaps they'd be more to my liking. Or maybe not. The Avengers was such complete shit that not even watching it while in my jammies in my living room while eating Kettle Corn and drinking Coke could save it.

When I flew to the US in early 2001 I remember being somewhat pleased to see that Pay It Forward would be one of the films shown. I like Haley Joel Osment. I love Kevin Spacey. I generally can't stand Helen Hunt but maybe I'd get lucky and she would be the Helen Hunt of As Good as it Gets and not the Helen Hunt of Twister. Unfortunately Pay It Forward suffered the in-flight-film curse. I hated it. Really hated it. It was sappy, maudlin and Kevin Spacey was about as interesting as wet cardboard. I was so disappointed. I hated it enough that when it came on TV months later I couldn't give it another chance.

And yet the underlying message of the movie is one that resonates with me. The whole idea of someone being generous to you and in turn to "repay" that generosity you are generous to three others and so on. It's an idea that really can do a lot of good when it's put into effect and even the smallest acts of kindness are important. It doesn't matter if you do something as small as send a card to a friend or you make a generous donation to a charity - every act of kindness that gets passed on can make a difference in how people feel about themselves and the world around them.

A friend of Poppy's was the recipient of some acts of kindness by another friend and she's taken on the challenge to pay it forward. Poppy took on the challenge as well and now I'm doing the same. Here's how it works:

I will send a handmade gift to 3 random people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this Pay It Forward exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do if you like, is in return pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

That's it. If you'd like to participate in this challenge, leave a comment here saying you'd like to participate. I'll pick three people at random and they'll be getting a handmade gift from me. And if you'd like to continue to pay it forward, post this challenge on your blog as well and give three handmade gifts to those who leave you a comment. It doesn't have to be anything expensive or extravagant - just heartfelt and something that will make the recipient feel special. And if you don't have a blog, that's okay as well. Just pick three folks you know and give them an unexpected gift or card - anything to brighten their day.

Over the years I've lived in Germany I've been the recipient of very kind acts of generosity. Friend and family - even folks I didn't know all that well - have sent me cards and gifts when I didn't expect them. Those tokens of kindness made me feel less alone and less homesick and very well loved. In turn I've tried to think of others and repay them with acts of generosity and I hope it's resulted in them, in a small way, feeling better about themselves and their lives.

Pay It Forward is a great idea. Just don't make me watch that movie again.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Shuffle - Oh-No-You-Don't Edition

Remember back a month ago when a contractor hired by my rental company came to my door an unexpectedly caught me with my hair up in curlers? Today I got a rather curt letter from my rental company regarding that situation.

I'd like to first say that when I'm just coming home from the supermarket is not a time for me to be reading curt letters from anyone. They tend to hack me off and everything I've bought begins to melt as I gnash my teeth over the letter's curtness.

The letter said that the contractor who was here to change the meter on the heater in the kitchen reported to my rental company that I had refused him access to my kitchen. Now that's just a pile of crap. I didn't refuse him access - I told him I didn't have a heater in there and so he had no need to go in there. Now if he'd said "Can I come in and see that you have no heater in your kitchen?" I'd have let him stroll right on in but he didn't say that. And I'm so sorry that I didn't suggest that he stroll on into my kitchen but what I was wearing and not wearing at the moment was affecting my decision making - I was wearing curling but not wearing a bra at the time. I also don't tend to negotiate well when I'm trying to conduct a conversation while trying to hide the bulk of my body behind the door.

The curt letter went on to say that the contractor did say that I'd told him that I didn't have a heater in the kitchen (which makes me want to know why he did the whole thing about me refusing him access) but now the rental company is very concerned over that. Their records indicate that I should have a heater in the kitchen and that it should have merely been relocated.

And that's when I really started getting pissed. Screw those frozen vegetables waiting on me - I was too mad to worry about them at this point.

I specifically asked the rental manager when I first took this apartment if I could have the heater removed until I moved out at which time I'd have it put back. I had to have the heater removed so I could get my kitchen installed. I asked that it be in writing so that I wouldn't later be given a ration of shit about it. I even used their suggested heating and plumbing company and paid for it to be done so I'd be all compliant with their wishes instead of me using a heating and plumbing guy I know who would have done it for free. If I'd gotten their permission to remove the heater and I'd gotten it in writing and I'd done it in the manner requested then why did I receive a letter that was the written equivalent of a 14 year old girl who's had her cell phone taken away for a week?

The letter went on to say that I needed to either let them see the bill from where I had the heater removed or let them change the meter or they'd just end up billing me for heating my kitchen an average of other kitchen meters in my building. Now maybe I'm wrong but the entire thing sounds like I'm being blamed for me not having a heater in my kitchen and I'm somehow being penalized for it. At the very least being chided. The whole tone of the letter rubbed me the wrong way and I know at least some of it stemmed from my memory of the contractor acting like a pissant because I told him I never received a letter saying they were coming to change the meters in the kitchen. I understand the man couldn't actually possibly know this but at least weekly I get mail for a neighbor shoved into my mail slot. My letter being delivered to the wrong slot and not making itself back to me is not out of the realm of possibility.

I will freely admit that I am not the most organized person but I did know where the letter was that said I had permission to remove the heater and the bill for its removal should be there as well. I went to the folder where I have my rental contract. Let's see - rental contract, permission to own a dog, bill for the new curtains...aha! Letter giving permission to remove the kitchen heater. And no bill for its removal.

At this point my frozen groceries were fast on their way to becoming thawed mush so I stopped to put things away and that's when all of God's sweet angels took pity upon me and I remembered where the bill in question might be. The bill had been mailed to us at our old apartment and when I was packing I'd taken a whole pile of recently paid bills, stuffed them into Ziploc bags, marked them "semi-important papers" and when we unpacked I never did anything more with that bag than shove them into a drawer in the living room cabinet.

And there it was, just where I thought it would be. I'd even marked what day I'd paid the bill on the envelope. Not that the bill said all that much. The only thing on the bill was a charge for labor and a charge for transportation - it didn't say on the bill anything as to the nature of the work.

Now it was time to call the apartment manager and ask her just what bug had crawled up her ass and died that had prompted her to write me this curt little note. B claimed that would be an inappropriate question so he'd be the one to make the phone call. Kill joy.

I should say that the apartment manager we had when we moved in and who was the one to give me permission in regard to the heater isn't the one we have now. Maybe our current apartment manager just didn't have a full grasp on the situation since she wasn't initially involved. Or a bug had crawled up her ass and died.

B got the manager on the phone and she sounded rather listless until B made clear who he was and as to what situation he was calling. She perked up right away then - likely all happy to slash and claw us to pieces because we didn't have a heater in our kitchen. And because I'd had the audacity to answer the door braless and with curlers.

The manager had found in our file a copy of the letter that we had giving us permission in regards to the heater. The sticking point was one word - "change". We'd asked to remove the heater so our kitchen cabinets would fit. The old manager wrote in "change" but she knew fully well what we wanted to do considering I'd said the word "remove" to her about 50 times and she told me to put the heater in our basement storage area. The new manager interpreted "change" to mean "relocate", meaning the heater would be put in a different part of the room. We need to pause and consider something here. My kitchen is so tiny that you can't cuss a cat in it without getting a hair in your mouth. There was no other place to locate that heater other than where it was. The only alternative was removal.

Back and forth debate ensued regarding the real meaning of "change" in this circumstance until the apartment manager said "If we only had the work order from the heating and plumbing company." *sigh* Yes. If only.

Well what do you know. Attached to the bill was the work order I'd given and signed when I'd gone to that company requesting the work. And there it was in all it's glory. "Remove kitchen heater".

Heh. Dixie 1, Bug-Up-Butt, 0.

Time to shuffle.
  1. Intervention - Arcade Fire
  2. Operator (That's Not How It Feels) - Jim Croce
  3. Run Runaway - Slade
  4. Casino Royale - Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
  5. Apple Tree - Wolfmother
  6. At Seventeen - Janis Ian
  7. American Pie - Don McLean
  8. Ocean Front Property - George Strait
  9. Good Lovin' - The Rascals
  10. Cigarettes & Alcohol - Oasis
Have a great weekend. Don't let anyone get something over on you.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

His Descent Into Hell

Raise your hand if you hate going to the dentist!

I'm betting that if you didn't raise your hand, the person reading this just before or just after you did. As for me, while I don't relish a visit to the dentist, I don't really hate it either. I've had a lot of dental work done over the past 30 years and all the teeth I've had capped, crowned, root canaled, filled or just plain pulled out haven't made me fear the dentist.

My husband, on the other hand, is terrified of the dentist. His teeth aren't all that bad but if he'd not spent so many years actively avoiding the dentist they'd be much nicer. When I first moved to Germany - probably 4 or 5 months after arriving - B went to the dentist after I'd forced him into it. He had a tooth going bad and sure enough it had to be pulled. He had it done and never went back...and that was 9 years ago. I'd try to get him to go and usually he'd say "I will when the weather is warmer." and when it would be summer he'd put it off saying "I don't want to spend a day outside going to the dentist." When winter would roll around he'd claim it was too cold to go outside and he'd make an appointment when the weather got warmer.

This worked rather effectively until we moved. Now we live in the same building where three dentists are located. The apartments and the businesses, while being in the same building, have separate entrances so B does actually have to go outside to get to the office but since he would literally have to go about 6 feet unprotected from the elements his excuse to wait for perfect weather is gone. B knew it was only a matter of time before he would break down and make an appointment. Last week the appointment was made and he's been in a lather ever since. Constant worry and fright. "What if she wants to drill?" So she'll drill! "What if she won't give me a shot?" She'll give you a shot before drilling. "What if it still hurts?" Then tell her to stop drilling and give you another shot.

Honestly! This is the man who, after falling into a swimming pool in 1 meter of water, landing on his head and damaging his spinal cord at the C-5 level had doctors drilling screws directly into his skull with no anesthesia so they could rig up something to pull his spine straight. That he thinks wasn't so bad - except for the sound - but getting his teeth cleaned and checked was putting him on the verge of an anxiety attack.

But today was the fateful day. And I brought the camera. What? You didn't think I was going to miss recording for posterity this monumental event, did you? Who knows when it could happen again!

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B in the waiting room. This is the face he made when I told him to relax a little bit. He actually looked more panicked before I told him to relax but I thought if I took a picture of him in full blown shit hemorrhage panic y'all might call the authorities on me and report me for torture.

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Waiting for the dentist to arrive. Gerd and I got B out of his wheelchair and into the examination chair and I as I drove B's wheelchair back out into the hallway I impressed everyone with my mad wheelchair driving skillz.

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"Hmmmm....I wonder if I can fling myself from the window and land in that fountain that's just below the window. Maybe not. I've had some problems in the past from bad landings in water."

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The dentist gets to work.

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"Hmmm....Herr G, you seem to have enough tartar on your teeth to rebuild the Berlin Wall. I may need to use a sandblaster. Or dynamite."

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"Damn. I'm going to have to stand up to wrench this crap off his teeth!"

It was as this point that the sound of the instruments of torture tartar removing blaster thingy was beginning to wear on my nerves so I began reading the book I'd brought with me, lifting my eyes occasionally to check how B was doing. At first his eyes showed nothing but sheer terror but after a while he seemed to relax more and more.

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"All finished! Can I now get a prize from the Treasure Chest?"

All around B did very well. And unfortunately he needs to make a few more trips back. He's got 7 or 8 cavities that need to be filled - only a few at a time can be done because he's unable to sit in that exam chair for more than maybe 45 minutes - and he's going to need to have a broken molar pulled. The dentist assured him that she would always give him Novocaine before any drilling or tooth yanking and that made him feel better. She did, however, get all that tartar build up removed and his teeth look so much better now.

And you know he's just so proud of himself for having done it. I'm proud of him too.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fourth Times a Charm

I've been working on these Pink Ribbon Socks for a month now. Normally I should be finished with them and back to knitting for Darling Mollie working on another sock project but I have hit snag after snag. First the edge stitches of the pink ribbon panels looked sloppy so I ripped it and started over. Then the cables used for the pink ribbons themselves looked sloppy so I ripped it and started over. Then I had bad luck with the poorly written heel turn instructions so I ripped it and started over.

Were this a regular sock project I'd have set it aside and started knitting something else just to give myself a break. Even the sweet lady who will be receiving this sock because she made a very generous contribution to Boob-Ha-Ha told me to take a break. I thought about it even though I'd already cast on for the fourth time and was about a 1/2 inch into the cuff but I decided against it because by then this sock had taken on a life of its own. Developed its own meaning.

I'd been so wound up in getting to the end of the project that I wasn't thinking about the process itself. I wanted to do a good job because the reason why I was knitting the sock in the first place is special but all I could think about was finishing. And while knitting the cuff this time around - and I'll say right now that I hate knitting the cuff...I liken cuff knitting to taxiing on a runway before taking off - you're moving but you're not getting on with the trip yet - I started to really think about the meaning behind this sock.

It's a Pink Ribbon Sock and so it represents breast cancer and the efforts to raise awareness and find a cure for it. The sock is being knit for fund raising purposes - Wendy's doing the Breast Cancer 3-Day for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Is Wendy going to wimp out on her walk when it gets tough and irritating? No. And what about the people who have breast cancer - or any cancer for that matter? Don't they pursue their treatments and put up with some very frustrating moments while trying to rid themselves of cancer? They don't just quit because they're having a hard time. They want to reach the end but they also know they need to concentrate and remember the meaning of their efforts to get to the end.

So this sock has taken on a new focus for me. It's not just about getting to the end but it's about the process too. And even when things get tricky or I break into a sweat because one of these tiny woolen loops has broken free of its needle while I'm trying to purl off the cable needle, I'm going to remember Wendy getting tired on her walk and still continuing and I'm going to remember every person I know with cancer or who ever had cancer and kept going even when their treatments were so hard on them. I've changed my attitude and it's made all the difference in the world.

Here's the sock as of this evening. I haven't had time to knit so far today so I've completed only one pink ribbon pattern repeat and about 1/3 of the second.

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It's so much better than my previous three attempts. The cables are just right and the stitches at the needle changes look great. I'm enjoying this so much more than I have been and I'm getting better results.

Years ago Poppy sent me a hilarious card of a dumpy woman from the 50s holding a cigarette and who had a priceless look on her face. One of those "I am absolutely going to stomp a mud hole in you." looks. She looked amazingly like my Uncle Milton's wife - the drunk one that creeped me out a lot. Anyway the caption on the card read "Aunt Bunny says 'Adjust your attitude or I'll fix your ass!'".

All I needed was an Aunt Bunny moment.


Ahh Luuuv Yew!

You folks have been some commenting mutha scratchers these days! Y'all sweet on me or something?

Gonna go take me a nap now. Dream of y'all and how good you are to me.


Sunday, August 12, 2007


Sundays are our days to be lazy. We don't generally entertain visitors on Sundays and instead spend the afternoon watching movies and avoiding anything that might cause me to make movements greater than reaching for the remote control. So when B's mom called us at noontime and asked me to drive her to the cemetery so she could visit the grave of B's dad a monkey wrench was thrown into our plans to have no plans.

"And while we're gone, Gerd (her gentleman friend) can stay with B."

Hmmm. I don't like that. I am not fond of leaving B alone with someone other than his mom while I'm gone. I'm territorial. If I were a dog I would have peed in every corner of my apartment to mark my area.

Still I couldn't say no. It's the anniversary of the death of B's dad - hence my MIL wanting to go to the cemetery - and it seemed to be uncomfortable for Gerd to drive her there. She could get there with a streetcar but the area where B's dad is buried is waaay in the back of this huge cemetery - like a mile back - and she wasn't up for the walk.

B wasn't crazy about this plan either. He didn't want to stay alone with Gerd - we're just ridiculous like that - and it just seemed silly for Gerd to come over while my MIL and I were cemetery bound. If he didn't want to drive my MIL himself, why not just stay in her apartment with the dogs?

It's a mark of the closeness B and I share that we had the idea at the same time that the reason for Gerd to be here was that he wanted a chance to talk with B alone. About what? They're going to move in together! That must be it! Gerd wanted to have a man-to-man talk with B about it! Or they're talking about getting married! Living together is one thing, but getting married? No. Nuh uh. They don't need to get married. Living together can be seen as a practical step seeing as they're together all the time anyway but married? With this guy suddenly being able to get access to her money and make decisions in her absence? Nope. Noooo. Nonononono. And with the laws in Germany, he'd get half of her stuff at her death - half of her stuff? Not gonna happen on my watch. Plus they'd both lose their widow/widower pensions.

So we spent the 3 hours before they showed up in an absolute froth. Sunday afternoon bollocksed up and half of my MIL's stuff going to a guy who would end up passing that same stuff on to his kids - kids we don't know and who aren't very nice to Gerd in the first place. Let the grumbling and grousing begin.

In the meantime the Pink Ribbon sock I'm knitting? More fucked up than a soup sandwich. I, like an idiot, merely read the instructions in the pattern - I didn't read and think about them as well. If I'd read and thought about them I would have realized that the instructions for the heel turn on the size sock I was knitting makes a sock that would be great if someone's heel was 2 centimeters to the left of center. So now I have a lopsided heel and I proceeded to rip the heel back to before the turn. Couldn't get the needle back in. Ripped it back to halfway through the heel flap. Couldn't get the needle back in. Ripped it back to the start of the heel flap. Couldn't get the needle back in. Swore entirely too loud for it being a serene Sunday afternoon and ripped the entire sock apart. And then I took a deep breath, prayed for a moment of serenity and cast on for the fourth time. I think trying to knit the same sock four times is somehow a test. It's testing my patience or ability to follow through or my masochistic streak but it's a test all the same.

The lovebirds showed up and I settled Gerd in with a glass of mineral water, gave B a "Be strong!" look and left with my MIL. And when my MIL tried to find the back entrance to the cemetery - the end where the grave is - we got lost. Well, lost isn't right. I mean we knew what neighborhood we were in but couldn't find the right street. After a few U-turns and false starts down narrow streets we found the cemetery's back entrance and I sat in the car while my MIL made her visit. All the while as I waited in the car I could imagine the conversation going on back at my apartment.

"B, I adore your mother and I'd like to marry her. I'd like to have your blessing."

"Gerd, you're a nice man but I'm a practical man. Live in sin. You're not getting half of her stuff."

Upon our arrival back home I flew into the living room where I gave B the look that says "And?" and he gave me the look that says "And nothing. False alarm.". And it really was nothing. Our imaginations had run wild and there was no hidden agenda to this afternoon's events. My MIL really did simply want me to drive her to the cemetery and Gerd really did just want to have some buddy time with B.

But I still say the Pink Ribbon sock is testing me.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Shuffle - Anticipation Edition

In exactly two months from this very moment the airplane in which I'll be flying will be preparing to land in Memphis. While I can't predict the future I can predict that I will be on the verge of delirious happiness because at that point my ass will be numb, my elbow bruised from being smacked repeatedly by the drink cart and I will be willing to pay a large sum of money to be able to wash my face in a sink larger than a postage stamp.

I have such plans for my time in the US. Buy shoes that don't look as though they were designed by crazed baboons. Ride in a car larger than a can of tuna. Brush only my teeth. Have someone else polish my toenails. Go out to lunch and not have to pay for every single refill of iced tea. Actually being able to go out to lunch and have iced tea. Have a conversation and not having to stop suddenly in the middle because I don't know the German word for...oh...I dunno...embalming fluid or cattle prod or shoe tree.

I need this break because I'm starting to get very excited about things that shouldn't, under normal circumstances, be even a faint blip on my consciousness radar. I had a fifteen minute conversation with B today over the new toilet bowl cleaning solution I'd used that was able to get the lime scale crap from under the waterline to dissolve without me having to snap on a rubber glove and brandish a scrub brush. Seedless grapes were on sale today and I nearly became giddy. I got my new TV guide and began to plan which movies I'd record over the course of that viewing period. A new store opened up below my apartment and I got a little swoony over the idea of being able to buy a new coffee service and having to walk not more than fifty steps to do it.

One break that I won't really care for having is my break with Bixente the iPod. He won't me making the trip with me as I tend to pack only the bare minimum and I'll likely be too busy to mess with him much anyway. But until then he'll be shuffling for me faithfully each Friday.

Hit it, fella.
  1. High - Lighthouse Family
  2. Chelsea Dagger - The Fratellis
  3. I Gotcha - Joe Tex
  4. Sgt. Rock (Is Going To Help Me) - XTC
  5. Papa Was A Rolling Stone - The Temptations
  6. Till Victory - Patti Smith
  7. The Outdoor Type - The Lemonheads
  8. In A Big Country - Big Country
  9. The Six Teens - Sweet
  10. Hang Fire - Rolling Stones
Anticipate a great weekend, y'all.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

It Can't Be!

You mean to tell me that there was life on this planet before the combination of peanut butter, KitKat Chunky bars and icy cold glasses of milk? How did humans face awakening and going through their lives each and every day before that grand trio was in existence?

Just one of the varied thoughts that flitted through my brain as I knitted today. I'm on a serious groove now with this Pink Ribbon Sock. I haven't had to fight the urge to rip it back and begin it again in days. I'd been considering another attempt in an effort to perfect my execution of this pattern but Darling Mollie set me straight with her sage advice - "Knit the fuckin' sock.". Don't interrupt me now - I may lose my rhythm.

Unless you've got a jar of Jif, a KitKat Chunky and frosty milk with which to tempt me.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

My Intentions Were Good

I was all set to write a little something for y'all - a nice little summertime tale. And then I ended up talking to my mother on the phone for forty-five minutes - a total of twenty of those minutes were spent listening to her talk to anyone who happened to be passing by her room at The Plantation - staff, other residents, visitors.

It would be tempting to say "Well, she's got Alzheimer's. She doesn't get it. She simply doesn't get that she probably shouldn't be yapping with others while her daughter is on a trans-Atlantic call with her.". Nope - she's always been this way. When I first moved to Germany and she lived with my sister and phone calls to her were much more expensive to make than they are now she'd be talking to me and then start in on a conversation with whomever happened to enter the room with her. Example:

Me on the phone: And so yesterday I...

(Brother walks into room with my mother)

Mother: How was work today? You staying for dinner?

Me: Mama?

Brother: I have band practice. I just stopped by to get something out of the garage.

Me: Mama?

Mother: Well I've fixed some fried chicken. You wanna take some with you?

Me: Mama! Mama! MAMA!!

Brother: Who's on the phone?

Mother: Your little sister.

Brother: Well talk to her!

Mother: You wanna take some chicken with you?

(Sound of me beating my head on wall.)

No, I'm afraid I don't have it in me right now to write for you a regularly schedule blog entry. My mother has sucked whatever ability I had to do that today right out of me. I'm going to need a Fudgesicle and a vodka martini to get over this.


Monday, August 06, 2007

It Gets Better

I dread getting B outside. Absolutely dread it. Dread it to the point of hating it.

Every para and quadriplegic is different in terms of their injuries and how it effects their physiology. Some paras and quads are such that they can't sit up for long periods of time, some have circulatory systems that aren't as affected by the weather, some have more mobility than others. B's physiology is such that he has very low tolerance for cold weather and that means we very, very rarely venture outdoors with him once the weather is below 6o°F. His physiology is also such that if it's too hot we can't go outdoors because he can't sweat and therefore his body can't cool itself like a normally healthy person can. This all means that when it's warm and sunny and pleasant we try to get him outside. Our windows of opportunity are small and every one we don't take advantage of is lost forever.

And yet I dread it. Bathing him alone takes me well over an hour of non-stop effort and afterwards there's no break because I've got to get him prepared to get outside. Dressing him is guaranteed to leave me a sweaty, annoyed mess. Pulling on his tight fitting anti-thrombosis stockings is the easy part - it's wrestling on his underpants and his trousers that I despise. All the tugging, yanking and rolling just to get him into pants is enough to make me cancel the whole trip. Once he's dressed and I have his shoes on I need to then move furniture to get his electric wheelchair into the living room. Once things have been rolled and dragged out of the way and I have the wheelchair next to his bed it's time for me and another person to lift his 1.90 meter, 75 kilos of passive weight body into the chair without hurting him, his bones - which after 24 years of paralysis are as brittle as kindling wood, or me.

Once it's accomplished I'm done in. My hair is generally drenched in sweat, any trace of makeup is long gone and all I want to do is pin a note to him saying "Dear Bartender, Please give him a beer and a straw. Money is in his shirt pocket. Send him home in one hour.". I have no interest any longer in going out and only wish to loll in front of the fan and have a nap.

But I don't. I screw a smile on my face and don't let on that I don't want to go out. It's his opportunity to get some fresh air and a change of scenery and a sense of freedom and independence and I can't stand in the way of that.

B gets out of the apartment, down the elevator and outside the front door and it's as if none of the rest of it even happened. The frustration and irritation and endless sweating is forgotten and we start down the street to see what we can see and generally end up parked outside of our favorite cafe with the owner coming out to greet us like we were celebrities.

Yesterday was such a day. By the time I got B in his chair I felt like death on a soda cracker and looked like 40 miles of bad road but I screwed on that smile and by the time we got down to the market square all the effort it took to get us that far was forgotten.

Just as the chimes in the city hall's clock tower chimed the tune it plays when five o' clock rolls around we got seated at our favorite cafe, our regular first round of drinks already on their way out to us. My MIL was there with her gentleman friend and B's dad's cousin was there with her husband and we all had the best time. The air was perfect - just the right temperature with little humidity - the food was delicious, the service fantastic. The market square was peaceful and even though we were in the middle of the city, it was quiet and calm.

After supper was finished and we were having our final drinks I leaned my head over on B's arm, perfectly content to be where I was. I had dreaded the whole thing but now that the hard part was over I was dreading to break up the wonderful feeling of being in a wonderful setting with my husband to head back home.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Friday Shuffle - Slightly Skeeved Out Edition

Some days it's one full body shudder after another.

~ After the terrible bridge collapse disaster in Minneapolis, have you found yourself getting nervous about the bridges you need to use? I'll admit that it's caused me to think about it a bit. Normally I love bridges - so much so that I could be one of those people who drives bridge-phobic folks across. Since Magdeburg is situated along the Elbe river we have bridges but most of the city is on the west side of the river and I only have to go on those bridges if I'm visiting friends on the other side or if I need to put gas in the car since the closest station to us is there. And I've been comforted in hearing that Germany, being as they're quite anal about such things, inspects their bridges on a frequent basis. Still there's one bridge that has always freaked me out slightly - a railway overpass that I go under to and from the supermarket. Every time I'm stopped at the light as a freight train passes over I tend to get a twitch. Today I was twitching like a junkie hunting for a fix as a train carrying tanks of something - something explosive, I'm sure - rumbled overhead and that light just would. not. turn. green.

~ As I went out my door to take out the trash this afternoon I was hit with the smell of my neighbor's armpits. It was only a small step up from the times when I go in the hallway and it smells like his rabbit's dirty cage. And then I entered the elevator and it smelled inside like fresh baked bread. It was like the scent fairies took pity on me.

~ I've got something wrong with my left leg - when I walk for more than five minutes it hurts like I've got shin splints or something. As I took my evening walk my leg started to hurt to the point where I had to sit down on one of the benches along the street. I was in front of the bakery just down from the country saloon just enjoying the evening and listening to them line dance to Alan Jackson reminiscing about being way down yonder on the Chattahoochee (stomp, stomp, stomp, clap!) when a teeny little mouse came out of the flowerbeds that line the sidewalk and ran around my feet a few times. I don't have a mouse phobia to the same degree that Darling Mollie has - she got a few mice in a home she loved and had been living in for years and ended up packing her stuff and moving out - but I was still very close to ringing the bell on the mice-freak-me-out scale. Shin splints and big white ass be damned - I jumped up from there and scurried home like I was being chased by the hounds of hell.

I need the sort of soothing that only music can provide. Bixente the iPod, do it for me baby.
  1. Use It - New Pornographers
  2. You Really Got Me - The Kinks
  3. Hooked On A Feeling - Blue Swede
  4. Suddenly Everything Has Changed - The Flaming Lips
  5. Desire - U2
  6. Well Thought Out Twinkles - Silversun Pickups
  7. Queen Of The Slipstream - Van Morrison
  8. Down To The River To Pray - Alison Krauss
  9. Tush - ZZ Top
  10. Pictures Of Lily - The Who
Have a soothing weekend.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thursday Haiku

Sorry to let you down but there will be no photo spread of me washing my windows. You'll have to put up with a bit of haiku instead - a bulleted list with culture.

Oh hush! If you whine about the poetry I really will make you look at window washing pictures.

Caught in a rainstorm
Umbrella was left at home
Got drenched to the skin.

It was a shame too
I had a perfect hair day
My curls were destroyed.

Bought new shower gel
It smells fresh like cucumbers
Soap and snack in one.

Pizza for supper
Good, but it leaves you thirsty
Could drink an ocean.

Oh online shopping
How did I live before you?
Mall comes to my door.

Books! CDs! Clothes! Shoes!
Gadgets and gizmos galore!
And no shopping bags!

Confess it to me
Do you count the syllables
To be sure I'm right?

No window washing nor photos to memorialize it nor even poetry for tomorrow we shuffle!


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Want to Make Spanish Rice?

The alternative title for this post could be "Nothing of any significance happened today and so you'll get to see me making supper and admit it, you were looking for something to do with that ground beef in your fridge anyway".

I like to have all of my ingredients ready to go before starting to cook because once you get going it's hard to stop to open a can or measure out spices.

To make Spanish rice with ground beef you'll need:

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A cup of uncooked long grain parboiled rice. A pound of ground beef. Two cans of chopped stewed tomatoes. A chopped bell pepper. Use whatever color bell pepper you wish. Green looks prettiest but tastes the worst to me. Red tastes best but doesn't show up as well. Pick your priorities. I used an orange bell pepper because the guys at the produce stand I frequent said they were the freshest they had. They sing along to Johnny Cash and the Clash while hawking vegetables - they wouldn't steer me wrong. You'll also need a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of chili powder and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Use more if you want. I'm married to a German (read: a man who can take only so much spice) so I get limited to how much cayenne I get to throw in. Not pictured is the small chopped onion you'll also need. For this dish I often will wimp out and use dehydrated chopped onion from a jar and I didn't want you to know that.

Ummmm....yeah. Okay. Moving along now.

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Heat three tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat - in this case I used olive oil - and add your rice. And stir. And stir. Keep stirring. It'll seem pointless and a waste of time at first but if you don't keep that rice moving it'll fling itself out of the pan once it gets hot.

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After six or seven minutes or so the rice will turn a nice golden brown and that's when you'll appreciate having all of your ingredients handy because those grains of rice will be getting very sassy and starting their escape from the pan.

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Add your ground beef keep stirring it to get it all broken up well.

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When the ground beef is about halfway browned add your bell pepper...

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...and your jarred dehydrated onion succulent and freshly chopped onion.

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When the beef is completely browned add the two cans of tomatoes and your spices and stir it up well. It'll be bubbling like a madman by now so cover the pan, turn the heat down to low and allow it all to cook for 25 minutes. Don't lift the lid and check on it - just let 'er go. Take that 25 minutes and do something else. Change the laundry. Watch the news. Knit. Read a couple chapters in that book you've been meaning to get back to reading. Or prepare the rest of what you'll be serving.

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After the 25 minutes, remove the skillet from the heat and let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes with the lid still on the pan.

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Mmmmm...supper's ready!

You can serve this as a main dish (it makes about 4 servings) or as a side if you're having something else like cheese enchiladas or bean burritos or quesadillas. Another alternative to this dish would be to prepare it as above but omit the bell pepper as use as the filling for stuffed peppers with your favorite sort of sauce.

Ahhhh...I'm full about you?

Hope something comes up tomorrow for me to write about or you'll be subjected to a pictorial guide to how I wash windows.