Monday, February 21, 2005

Call the rescue squad, part 2

After conceding a point to the yard, yesterday, I turned indoors to tackle a few minor cleaning tasks; I don't want the cat-sitter to see the conditions I actually live in while I'm on vacation.

My little house originally had central oil heat, since replaced by electric baseboards or forced-air units in each room. The hardwood floors have been lovingly restored, but the metal grate for the old furnace still remains in the geographical center of the house, between living room and hallway. Beneath the grate is a flat black surface; I figured it was boarded over once it had outlived its usefulness. Meanwhile, crumbs and pine needles and pennies and cat fur drop through the grate and collect on the surface, the holes in the grate just small enough to thwart my fingers or the skinniest vacuum attachment.

So I decided to pry up the grate--it lifts up easily, not bolted down--and do some serious vacuuming yesterday. Turns out that that black-painted surface isn't a solid board, but an extremely thin sheet of metal. This, I discovered when, while wrestling with the kinked-up vacuum hose...I accidentally stepped on the panel. And dropped straight through, up to my thigh in...well, the FLOOR.

(I don't know what my other leg was doing, frankly; it stayed up on the main level and I ended up sort of sitting on the edge of the furnace hole with the roaring vacuum in my half-lap. Let's just say I was grateful for having recently resumed yoga practice.)

So, hey...hi there, old furnace, as I straddle you. I dropped the grate, fought off the Hoover, and managed to wrestle my leg back out; this was harder than expected because the metal sheet had bent down, as I went past, and sort of pinned me; I had to bend it back in the OTHER wrong direction to pull free. It made a noise like when stagehands whap a metal sheet backstage to simulate rolling thunder. I am not sure the cats will ever recover from me, rolling around on the floor and bashing metal objects around, WHILE still running the Vacuum Monster of Terror.

Incredibly, I did not tear my pants into one-legged Daisy Dukes. I have an impressive wraparound welt of scrape and bruise, looks sort of like I'm wearing a festive purple garter.

This is yet another rationalization of my deeply indifferent housekeeping; obviously such tasks are FRAUGHT WITH PERIL. People with spotless houses are taking their lives in their hands every day, tragedy in the making. Let this be a lesson to you all.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Bramble rambling

If you've got a gorgeous winter afternoon to spend, allow me to NOT recommend deciding to cut back the blackberry vines by the garage while wearing a simple knit sweater--not one of the best ideas I've ever had. I have an Arthur Rackham-illustrated edition of Sleeping Beauty that shows the rag-clad, skeletal corpses of failed suitors snarled in the thorny hedges around the slumbering castle (for kids! nice!); I did have my moments of panic, but luckily did not need to be cut free by the fire department.

I'm gaining an ever-greater appreciation for my late grandmother's yard of ornamental gravel.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Biscuits and gravy and sympathy

Wow. Didja read Dave's post about the jilted Vegas bride he attempted to console at the airport?Go ahead, I'll wait here.

It's like him, really, to walk right into a Richard Russo story somewhere, while my fiction skills atrophy behind a corporate desk. But what really struck me about it is how much it speaks to an absolute core element of Dave, one that I really admire: his ability to trust people. He really has an innate faith in human nature, believes effortlessly that most folks want to do the right thing, and he tries to live that way himself. Occasionally, this philosophy has bitten him in the ass...but for the most part, it's allowed him to travel around the world as he does, making friends on practically every continent, confident that in a crisis, the universe will provide--be it a couch to crash on, or a malaria ward in a Pakistan hospital, or a three-dollar diner breakfast. Whatever it is, you know he'd do the same for you, if he could.

I don't know if Dave would call it karma, or call it anything, this cycle of goodwill he operates in. It's the thing I respect most about him, though. I'm nowhere near as trusting, and it's something I really must work at: to be less timid, to look up from my book on the bus or at the coffee house, to talk to strangers once in a while. I'm glad he reminded me.

Thursday, February 17, 2005


I've been kind of in a mood lately, down in the dumps. (What's the origin of that phrase, I wonder and am too lazy to look up? It sounds like a vicious cycle; not only are you feeling sad, but you're moping around amongst the municipal trash heaps, and THAT'S not going to improve your outlook.) Some of it is work stress, as we're wildly busy right now; some is surely post-holiday letdown--it's gray, it's cold, there are no presents to look forward to, but all the seasonal indulgences are straining your elastics. And there's been a little holdover for me from the Valentine's Day business.

I dunno. I know that the Marketing Forces Of Evil have pretty much commandeered Valentine's Day, and that if you're not out there contributing to the global economy by plying your sweetheart with candies and flowers and designer fragrances and whimsical underpants, it's probably just because you are a REPULSIVE HIDEOUS SINGLE FREAK! GET BACK IN THE BASEMENT! Oho, I am on to their commercial scheme. I'm not intimidated by dining out or traveling alone; I can buy my own florid boxes of truffles, and I do. (Though I might prefer to consume them avidly, while lolling about in front of Project Runway, unobserved.)

But...circumstantially, it has been...a long time since I've had a valentine for the occasion. A looooong time. Measured in years, there. And...I miss it. When even the weekly Safeway flier is advertising lobster tails and long-stemmed red roses, well...there's some pressure.

I think I'm a pretty easy valentine. I don't even like roses. I don't want a moonlit carriage ride, or a champagne flute with a big honkin' diamond ring at the bottom of it. Hell, carriage rides just make me think of the Beefareeno episode of Seinfeld anyway. I'm just saying, a double order of potstickers from Snappy Dragon and a stack of DVDs would be groovy to share. With someone. Who am I even writing this to?

Maybe I should link a personal-ad profile over there in the sidebar, like people do with their Amazon wish lists. Date Me! Buy Me Presents!


Okay. I will comfort myself by remembering the crappiest Valentine's Day I ever had as an attached lady. I was dating this guy in college who'd taken a semester off to find himself, so he was home in Virginia while I was in New York. He mailed me my Valentine present...which was the knock-off, grocery-store-brand, heart-shaped box of chocolates. Which he placed in a plain manila envelope. Which went through all the automatic stamping and sorting machines of the U.S. Postal Service. So, what I got was this flattened...wad...of chocolates, with different-flavored...areas, therein...and the occasional ruffled paper thingie, sticking through.

Then he realized he was gay. Overall, I'd rate that relationship...disappointing.

What was my best Valentine's Day? Telling the preceding story made me think about it; I have to say it was probably 1978. My dad had a custody weekend, and took us to see Star Wars at the long-demolished Cinema 150, downtown. (Yes, it came out the preceding summer; we were somehow behind the curve.) It predictably blew our little minds...and THEN, depositing us at home, my father whipped out a pair of identical Russell Stover candy boxes, hearts wrapped in red cellophane, that he'd somehow hidden in the truck all day. Star Wars AND candy! It was a rare shining moment for the Old Man, that.

Would still make a pretty decent Valentine's Day, actually.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Your worst friend ever

I have been so very neglectful of my InterWeb friends. I suck a little bit. Linkery, commence!

Many moons ago, Omega referred to me as "fucking awesomely funny," which still causes a little glowing coal of pride to perk up in my heart. You should visit her diner.

Alyssa's Big Red Blog is already over there in the link list thingy, but last week Mike pointed her out to me like he'd discovered her himself, or something. So, click again!

I knew Erin from college; she was one of the funniest people I've ever met, and I was sad when post-graduate drift made me lose track of her. (Cue calendar pages flipping, a decade whizzing past here.) I figure I laughed at the Fitziechicks' analyses of For Better Or For Worse for probably a month before I recognized her sister's name and cleverly, if not quickly, deduced her identity.

I don't actually know Gael of Pop Culture Junk Mail, but she's how I found the Fitziechicks, so I owe her. Also, I think we are fellow Ballardinavians.

If you're likewise consumed by the jive-talkin' wonder that is FBOFW, I am sure you will enjoy the recently rebranded Comics Curmudgeon, the latest random discovery that nearly got me fired for guffawing inappropriately at my desk. Josh mentions his fiancee frequently, lest I dispatch myself to his home in a bubble envelope.

For more pants-wetting hilarity, of course you can't go wrong with those Fug Girls.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Jesus would HONK, that's what

How I do love the press-on letter readerboards you see outside of schools and businesses and, in this case, a church in my neighborhood:


Yes, yes...and actually, He'd appreciate it if you would MOVE IT ALONG, there, or at least keep to the right; He's got places to be.