Saturday, March 04, 2006

Speaking of hiking, my site of the day is Abandoned New Jersey, a beautifully photographed site featuring mostly North Jersey locations. Fantastic decay. I'm really starting to hunger for an adventure. It's been so long since I went on one.

There are groups of people who break into abandoned buildings and other man-made structures. They call themselves "urban explorers." I don't always agree with their philosophy, which sometimes leans kind of hard toward the side of thrill-seeking and getting away with trespassing, which seems to appeal to a youthful male component that is into EXTREME LIVING, dude! Some of the websites I've seen feature chronicles of the groups' exploits and seem to be operating under the conceit that what they do makes them an uber-cool elite. It's about sneaking around and being stealthy and knowing something other people don't. Some of them even go so far as to adopt aliases and refuse to disclose the exact locations they explore.

I guess my interest is that I'm a huge fan of abandoned architecture. I like the back-in-time feeling I get from seeing a piece of something that was in and out of use long before I came on the scene. I have no interest in leaving my mark on anyplace I visit, I don't want to use the places for my own purposes, and I certainly as hell have no intention of doing anything destructive. I just enjoy the decay, which I find beautiful in a way I can't adequately explain. Something about nature reclaiming something man-made makes you remember that such things are possible. It's worth remembering, too, considering how much of the landscape is being consumed by sprawl. Besides, every kid should have at least one "ghost house" to explore growing up.

My fascination with abandoned buildings is even specialized. For some reason I can't quite get a handle on, I am most intrigued by old unused mental hospitals. There are a lot of them around, and some great websites have captured them well. I guess I'm interested in the idealized version of health that was prevalent in the late 1800s and into the 20th century. It can't be any mistake that prisons were planned with similar lofty aims. At any rate, the pictures I've seen are both chilling when you realize that these magnificently laid-out complexes were meant to contain human suffering, and absorbing when you think about the early scientific attempts to control what was clearly not understood.


Why is it that washing your car can actually raise your outlook a little?

I took the Kia for a bath and rinsed off all the salt and filth from her paint and she seemed to sit up a little straighter. Okay, I'm making that up, but all the same it feels better to look at her. Despite how cold it is I am convinced the quality of the sunlight nowadays is definitely more spring than winter. That's my story and I'm sticking to it, so hopefully this is the last salt-rinsing the car will need.

This puts me in mind of seasonal memory, a favorite theme of mine. When you're shivering at a bus stop in January, it seems like a summer day would be a welcome thing, and you bask in the thought. Interestingly, I have tried to implant memories of good moments for just such occasions. One successful memory was of standing at the water line on Point Pleasant one late summer night when the moon was full and letting the waves lap at my bare feet. That's come in handy a few times, I can assure you.

Of course, when you take your mini-vacation in your head, you're concentrating on the good stuff. You're probably forgetting the persistent stickiness that is August, or sunburn on your shoulders. You can't wait to wear flip flops, but you won't remember the weirdness of having a thong between your toes for the first time (I usually get a blister there the first few times I wear them). The mind plays tricks on us. Not that that's a bad thing.

I'm going to crank the heat here in Stacey's Fortress of Solitude (SFOS) and go try on some flip flops RIGHT NOW to make sure I don't forget how.

At any rate here's a pic of a park near SFOS where I hike sometimes. I know for a fact that the day this was taken it was in the high 80s and I was glad to get my boots off and lie down in the grass for a while.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

It had to happen. You've heard of Friendster for people, now there's Friendster for your cat. Meet Harry and LittleGirl in their online debut! I am such a dork.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

those damn online games
yeah, okay, we've all played them. What's so wrong about forwarding a harmless 60- question quiz about trivial crap to your friends?apparently nothing, until they get so long no one wants to fill them out. My own answers follow. My book group rebelled and refused to answer, except to tell me that if I really wanted to know the answers, I would have to ask the questions one at a time. Is this cruel penance???

. What time did you get up this morning? 7:00
2. Diamonds or pearls? birthstone
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Capote
4. What's your favorite TV show? the Colbert Report on Comedy Central
5. What did you have for breakfast this morning? tea and a granny smith apple
6. What's your favorite cuisine? Thai. No, Vietnamese. No, sushi. Okay, I like a lot of 'em.
7. What foods do you dislike? Organ meat
8. What is your favorite chip flavor? Salt 'n' vinegar
9. What's your favorite CD at the moment? anything by The Hives
10. What kind of car do you drive? Kia Rio
11. Favorite sandwich? Grilled (cheddar) cheese with tomato
12. What characteristics do you despise? arrogance and willful ignorance
13. What is your favorite type of clothing? clean and comfy, but flattering (no low-riders in sight)
14. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? a lake in the mountains
15. What color is your bathroom? white/grey/cream
16. Favorite brand of clothing? I confess. Old Navy is what I can afford. But I love J. Jill, Eileen Fisher and Anthropolgie.
17. Where would you retire to? Seattle.
18. Favorite time of the day? afternoon
19. What was your most memorable birthday? when I turned 7 and mom and dad took me and my friends to the Buffalo Zoo.
20. Where were you born? Buffalo, NY
21. Favorite sport to watch? They're all dull.
22. Who do you least expect to send this back to you? not sure...surprise me.
23. Person you expect to send it back first? Norma. She's very prompt!
24. What laundry detergent do you use? Gain. Some kinda tropical scent.
25. Were you named after anyone? My middle name (Katherine) is for my grandma Askew, a lady to the core. If she could see me now.
26. Do you wish on stars? If I remember.
27. When did you last cry? Saturday morning. The story about the character in Doonesbury recovering from being wounded in Iraq really pushed my buttons.
28. Do you like your handwriting? It gets the job done.
29. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you? I would consider it.
30. Are you a daredevil? When the mood takes me.
31. Do looks matter? Yes and no.
32. How do you release anger? Driving. Exercise. Pouting.
33. Where is your second home? in my head.
34. What were your favorite toys as a child? many, many stuffed animals. They all had names and life stories.
35. What class in high school was totally useless? algebra. Has to be - why else did it not sink in after taking it twice?
37. Favorite movies? Too general. Lost in Translation, Rushmore, Desk Set, the Big Lebowski, The Triplets of Belleville....
38. What are your nicknames? Piglet. That's an old one from childhood. I am un-nickname-able.
39. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? No.
40. Do you think that you are strong? Emotionally, yes. Physically, need work.
41. What's your favorite ice cream flavor? fresh strawberry. Butter pecan. Swiss almond.
42. What are your favorite colors? teal blue. soft gray. periwinkle.
43. What is your least favorite thing about yourself? Insecurity.
44. Who do you miss the most? My old man. He was a funny, wise old fart when he wanted to be.
45. Do you want everyone you sent this to send it back? but of course.
46. What color pants are you wearing? cut off "capri" gray sweats.
47. What are you listening to right now? the hum of air in the vents and keyboard keys clicking.
48. Last thing you ate? a tater tot.
49. If you were a CRAYON what color would you be? rose
50. Last person you talked to on the phone? my neighbor Theresa, figuring out when we would go walking.
52. Favorite Drink? very hot tea with milk and a little sugar. Very cold Aquafina. Very cold skim milk. Diet Pepsi on ice with lemon.
53. Do you wear contacts? Not anymore.
54. Favorite Day of the Year? June 13th.
55. Scary Movies or Happy Endings??? Yeah, OK, happy endings. The sappier the better.
56. Summer or winter? Summer. Except for the bugs. And having to work through all the great weather.
57. Hugs OR Kisses??? Hugs.
58. What is Your Favorite Dessert? Ice cream and warm brownies. Or PIE.
59. What Book(s) are you reading? Julie and Julia. A young New Yorker writes about her weird bond with Julia Child as she cooks her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
60. What is on your mouse pad? no mouse pad
61. What Did You Watch Last night on TV? the finale of Bleak House
62. Favorite Smells? fresh-cut grass, warm sleeping cat, summer rain on asphalt
63. Rolling Stones or Beatles? Um, do I have to pick one of them? Beatles. I guess. They knew when to stop.
64. What's the furthest you've been from home? I think York, England is technically the farthest.
I am crippled.

I cannot blog from work!

And now, in the evenings, sapped by work, I must try to remember what I meant to say.

I am hampered by television, or at least my new-found loves, TV on DVD. The culprits, none of them new to you all, reruns of Taxi, the Adult Swim cartoon Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, and Carnivale, an HBO production. It is enough, but the mix of comforting old sitcom, reworked Hana-Barbera cartoons, and bizarre carny drama is heady to me. I am among my people when I turn on the old TV. Please excuse me.