October 16, 2009

Harvest Party

Last year we had a Harvest Party and went out to Sauvie Island on a friday and wandered around this massive pumpkin patch with a wagon with nubby tires and picked out all these pumpkins and fresh vegetables and then went back to Alexa’s house (when she lived with that crazy guy alcoholic who liked to tie knots) and cooked it all up. It was a really nice afternoon. Jocelyn made her famous mac n’ cheese and we had beets and salad and apple galette and whiskey and wine and lots of nice conversation about frivolous things.
And before dinner I was sitting on the stoop listening to Gallagher and Alex go through their inventory of accents, and this woman from Sweden came up and asked about the cat lurking around. You know how there’s always that manic cat in the neighborhood that doesn’t care about where its home is and wanders around rubbing itself on everyone’s legs and meowing and sitting on strange porches and getting stuck on roofs? It was one of those and she was concerned, this lady. So we reassured her that the cat was okay and she mentioned that she had considered kidnapping (cat-napping? completely different meaning unfortunately) the cat and taking it to the vet and neutering it. Which I thought was very extreme but maybe very swedish? I know very few swedes so I don’t know how they feel, as a country, about the sneak-attack neutering of neighborhood cats.
After dinner we sat around and drew goats in Alex’s notebook and Jocelyn’s boyfriend at the time was a borderline narcoleptic and he fell asleep before the apple galette but we woke him up and made him eat some anyway. And we all constructed mustaches because there was a tits and ‘stache party to attend, and for myself, a mustache was a much better option, and then we walked down in that general direction and it turned out the party was next weekend and then I went home.
It was a good Harvest Party and Charissa and I are picking up the slack in the line left by the absence of both Jocelyn and Alexa and Liz for that matter, and we are having a harvest party on saturday. But the list of guests keeps growing (which is my fault) and I’m worried there won’t be enough food and I am notorious for inviting people over for dinner and then not having anything ready and making them watch me cook and drop things and swear.
So we’ll see.

October 15, 2009

Romulus and Remus

So, I was looking at Mark Ryden‘s work, which I kind of like. I like the precision, the painterly portrait aspect, the clean figures doing twisted things with blank faces but the the faces with the too-big doll eyes? It’s a little too manga for me, or something. I’m obviously not an art critic. I was one of those people in class that says, “Um. I like it!”
But I’ve been working on some paintings with fairy-tale themes, so it’s nice to see what’s out there. Which brings me to this painting, which made me laugh when I read the title (The Ox Suckling Romulus and Remus) because I remembered this story:

I was in Rome and I was walking around with Fede and Lisette and we had passed the Colesseo and all the multi-lingual party hustlers with their flyers, and the fat men in gladiator costumes saying dirty things and winking, and the Chinese men selling fans and hats and the overdressed tourists with their flimsy shoes and tanlines and we had sat at the cafe at the top of that big building with the horse statue out front (Monte Capitolino) that looks over the ruins all sunken and rounding and all those Italian stone pines arching over everything, and we ate fruit and salad in front of a huge fan with a mister.
We were walking down the stairs after paying to use the bathroom and Fede asked me if I could find the famous Romulus and Remus statue. You know the story. A she-wolf suckles Romulus and Remus and then they found Rome. You know. She said, “It’s huge.” And I stood there on the steps and looked around and I couldn’t find it. I saw tourists and marble and all that hot sky but I did not see this statue. And I was looking all around me and still wasn’t seeing it anywhere and feeling really bewildered and Fede was laughing and finally she pointed it out to me. And it was tiny. It was this tiny bronze on a pedestal with the wolf and her teats and then there is Romulus and Remus awkwardly standing under her with their mouths up and open and their hands waving around. It’s ridiculous. And it was a replica because apparently the real one is inside in the Capitoline Museum.
And it’s like that sometimes, when you are looking for very big things, what you are actually looking for is very small.
And we had a good laugh about it and then we went and wandered through all these narrow brick alley ways and you turn a corner and there’s another beautiful fountain with vines growing over the walls and children kicking a can around and all the women were tan and wearing very high heels and picking their way over the cobblestones like birds. And later, at dinner, we drank wine and it turned out that Lisette could speak English and she and I had halting conversations and she would blush as she answered my questions.

October 14, 2009

Romantic Night

There was a time when a nice evening with my friends involved playing drinking games with cards and forties of Old English HG 800 (.5 more for the same price). This evolved to downing a couple bottles of red wine and then going down to the open mic poetry night to do some heckling.
But oh, how the stakes have risen.
Last night my friend Tony invited 834, that is, Heidi, Charissa and I for dinner and entertainment at his home. We knocked and the door creaked open, much like the beginning of many films in which the protagonists end up bleeding on the floor with knives in their chests. We entered, tentatively, to see candles lit on the dining room table, the fire burning merrily, four empty wine goblets lined up on the coffee table, and some motown on the stereo.
Tony, our host, appeared from the kitchen wearing nice brown shoes and, while he wasn’t wearing an apron, I like to imagine that he was. The menu was seared tuna, cous-cous, and a green salad brought by us. Heidi made the salad while Tony seared the tuna, and Charissa and I leaned on the mosaic mantel, drank red wine and warmed ourselves in front of the fire. It was all pure romance. Yes, the fire alarm went off a few times, and the tuna was apparently purchased from a roving meat salesman, but this did not mar the evening.
After dinner we went for an aperitif at Langano Lounge. Apparently Langano Lounge always has a mystery shot, the bottle wrapped in white paper, and it sells for two dollars. It was very exciting but also very horrible, something with amaretto and Robitussin was the general consensus. Horribly exciting and an official recommendation. Langano Lounge. Mystery Shot. The adult equivalent of the mystery dum-dum.
We returned to the house, it was raining in a soft, mist on the moors kind of way, Tony turned the fire back on (yeah, it was gas with those fake logs) and then we had strawberries and ice cream and Charissa and I sat awkwardly close on the couch. We ended the night with the typical platitudes that follow on a first date in an increasingly amusing and callous manner and then ran off to my car parked under the chestnut tree. I like to think that Tony stood in the doorway and waved, long after our taillights had faded into the night. Romantic Night is now an official Tuesday night tradition.

October 12, 2009

Alien Encounter

I was in the bathroom, home, alone and I see this thing scuttling across the linoleum. With legs and all about two inches long. I was horrified. Like hand-wringing horrified.

I’m not usually anti-insect (with the exception of cockroaches) but I had never seen one of these and my first response was to squish it. Which didn’t work. It evaded my irresolute attack and then climbed up the side of the bathtub and slithered out from under my second attempt to smash it with a shampoo bottle. And then it slipped into the bathtub and met its demise. The sides were too slick and it couldn’t get out and that’s when I swooped in with the tile cleaner and sprayed it until it died. Which took ages and a lot of tile cleaner. I kept spraying and its legs kept moving fast, fast, fast and then slower, slower, slow until finally, thankfully, nothing. I scooped it up with a spatula and put it in a jar.

Here’s the deal (courtesy of New World Encyclopedia): The house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata) of Europe and North America is a fast-moving carnivore that is common in dwellings.

Most house centipedes live outside, primarily under large rocks, piles of wood, and especially in compost piles. They prefer cool, damp places. Within the home, these centipedes are found in almost any part of the house; most commonly, they are encountered in basements, bathrooms, and laundry rooms, where there is a lot more water, but they can also be found in dry places like offices, bedrooms, and dining rooms. The greatest likelihood of encountering them is in spring, when they come out because the weather gets warmer, and in fall, when the cooling weather forces them to find shelter in human habitats. Unlike its shorter-legged but much larger tropical cousins, the house centipede can live its entire life inside a building.

House centipedes feed on spiders, bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, and other household pests. They kill their prey by injecting venom through their fangs. The house centipede is capable of biting a human, but this seldom occurs.

Because they eat household pests, house centipedes are considered among the most beneficial creatures that inhabit human dwellings, but because of their alarming appearance, frightening speed, and painful bite, few homeowners are willing to share a home with them. They do not cause damage to food or furniture.

So there you go. If anyone would like to see my specimen, I still have it in an old jam jar with a tightly shut lid. We suspect the neighbor. We never had house centipedes before the neighbor showed up.

October 9, 2009

Dress-up Friday

I was at work, sitting in my ergonomic eighties chair and if I twisted my neck a bit I could look out over the roof of Starky’s and see that the leaves have changed. Dress-up Friday continues to be a tradition in our office (held only by me and my other female coworker); though its appeal lessens as the days grow colder and biking gets more brutal. I am now wearing gloves when I bike in the morning (though not in the afternoon) and I will soon be layering knee-high socks over my leggings.

Which brings me to my question. When did leggings become pants? I continue to see young and sometimes not so young ladies wearing a normal hit at the hips t-shirt and leggings out in public, not working out or walking the dog, but doing every day life stuff like eating a scone or going to work or drinking beer in a public establishment. Like leggings are jeans or something.

They’re not. Leggings are just footless tights. Only Edie Sedgewick got to pretend that tights were pants and she ended up being a total, utter burnout. Leggings are meant to be worn under things. They aren’t any thicker than tights, they don’t have any structure, unless you are a model or one of those circus people who wears leotards in public (I wash my hands of them; that seems to be political movement spurred by American Apparel and somehow related to the employment of illegal immigrants), you probably shouldn’t pretend that leggings are pants anymore.

Last night I was at Hecklewood’s anniversary party and I noticed a girl in the dreaded small t-shirt/leggings combo but the worst thing about it? These leggings had pockets. Which is quite possibly the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen yet. They were on the butt of the leggings, in jean style fashion, like anyone is ever going to put those pockets to use and risk increasing the overall size or shape of the rump region. And the more sinister connotation was that some designer somewhere said, you know, throw pockets on these things and they’re pants. No. Leggings will never be pants. Pockets don’t make a couple tubes of lycra into a pair of pants. I will fight this forever.

October 7, 2009

But it's Popeye

Apparently, a live-action version of Popeye was released in 1980. That’s right. Everyone’s favorite cartoon sailor came to life. And who was there to step into this role? None other than Robin Williams. A young, blond Robin Williams with one squinty eye, elephantiasis of the forearms and that special way of croaking out the side of his mouth.
The film opens with a punt floating helplessly on the open sea in the midst of a storm with dramatic lightning and a few waves. Cut to morning in a sleepy fishing village with cartoonish sloping roofs and townspeople bursting from their houses into song. That’s right. It’s a musical. Popeye rolls in anticlimactically and begins to croak his way through town, ending up at the boarding house occupied by Olive Oyl. Miss Oyl is played by Shelley Duvall wearing a cartoon-accurate dress and these awkward boots that resemble Ugg prototypes.
It’s all weak slapstick with pictures falling off walls, guy trying to pick up his hat and kicking it away every time, breaking beds, well-timed ducking and lots of shots of Popeye’s bandy sailor legs jitterbugging around on the cobble stones. And he’s always muttering mildly humorous asides in his croaking little voice which reminded me of Mr. Magoo, another horrible example of cartoon come to life.

My father will always receive ridicule for the day that he returned from the video store, in complete despair, with Mr. Magoo in hand. Always.

Back to Popeye, day two breaks about ten minutes in, and the townspeople begin a dolorous song about food and I’ll admit it, I turned it off. I just couldn’t do it. Apologies. This isn’t a review so much as a warning. This is one of those childhood favorites that shouldn’t be shared with others.


September and the Neighbor

Okay. So the house next to ours was this abandoned grey-blue falling apart sort of house owned by a woman with cancer who had gone to live with a troupe of gypsies. Her son was a gypsy and that’s why she was living with them. So the house was basically abandoned which was actually really nice. It was like this for a year, the whole first year that we lived in our house.

And then one day a dumpster appeared in front and they began raking everything out of the house and there ended up being these boxes filled with books set out on the side of the road. Heidi and I went through them and I pulled out a Goosebumps young adult novel and an illustrated book about animals in Africa. But they smelled really bad, all those books, and one could only assume that the whole house smelled like that. And then a for sale sign went up.

And actually, one day I was gardening and the neighbors across the street came over and complimented my flowers and we were talking about the house and the woman said she had been inside and the floors were all rotting and there had been a horrible rodent problem and the woman who lived there had been a hoarder. It took two dumpsters to empty out all the stuff she said.

And then the for sale sign went down and this Miata started parking in front of the house all the time and then this contractor that always wore white and liked to listen to the radio, loudly, would come and work on the house at odd hours with power equipment and hammers and all that. Sometimes all night (that’s complaint number one). And of course there aren’t curtains (that’s complaint number two) and our kitchen window is right in front of the sink so when I’m washing dishes I am just looking right into this house because it has a window directly across from our window and it’s a pretty open floor plan so I can see straight through the house and it appears to be a double living room sort of house. And the new neighbor has never said hi to me or to any of us. He just moved in and stands around and talks to this contractor in white who has a booming voice, and they ignore us if we’re outside. So he’s not friendly (that’s complaint number three). And this neighbor had some guys do some weak landscaping and so now there are some little strips of turf out there and some bark dust and some freshly planted shrubs evenly spaced in the bark dust. And his guys pressure washed the sidewalk and pressure washed all the dirt right down the sidewalk to our house, they just stopped at the property line (and that’s actually complaint number four, it’s a little petty but it’s still a complaint).

And because the neighbor has no curtains we know all sorts of things about him. I’ve never seen him eat but he watches a lot of television. He drives that Miata and is from Colorado (license plates) and also has a crappy motorcycle. He has arranged his living room, the far one, so that the couch that faces the television also faces our window. So sometimes when I’m washing the dishes I’m watching him watch tv. And he plays guitar on the other couch, the one that is front of the window, so sometimes I’m watching the back of his head play guitar when I’m washing dishes. He doesn’t appear to have a job because he seems to be at home pretty much all the time. Playing guitar or watching tv or mournfully smoking cigarettes on the front porch. And then the kicker. Charissa was home alone and suddenly heard something that resembled disco music. Booming voice disco music. She goes to the window to see the contractor (probably in white, but I don’t know because I wasn’t there) standing up, snapping his fingers, kind of wiggling around, singing Earth, Wind & Fire’s September. In its entirety. And the neighbor was sitting on the couch, shyly smiling, with his hands folded over his stomach.

Which actually has spawned a game that we play sometimes. One person sits on the couch and doesn’t smile and folds their hands over their stomach. The other person dances and sings or lip-syncs or whatever with the purpose of making the person on the couch laugh. And you win once the person on the couch laughs. And it’s a pretty awesome game. So that’s something good about the neighbor.