Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I've been getting migraine auras without the headaches for as long as I can remember. I am grateful that I don't suffer much pain, but the temporary partial blindness thing really does take a chunk out of the day. I'm having one right now. It's not even distressing anymore, but I can't concentrat on work, I can't amuse myself by reading or Net surfing, and I certainly can't drive, so I can't go home early.

Soon, the audio portion will set in and I won't be able to tolerate sounds because they will all seem to be abnormally close to my ear. It's like being on drugs and not even being able to enjoy the hallucinations. Sheesh, what a waste.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Creeeeepy (the evidence)

There she is - my evening visitor from last night, moments before I blasted her with bug spray.

The baseboard she's on is 2.5 inches wide. And what's that glinting in the flash - fangs?

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Food that's hard to mess up

I just made this up. Dead easy and can be high fat, low fat, no fat, or vegan, depending on your needs or desires. It's kind of like a pie. Kind of like a casserole. I guess I could call it Tortilla Layers.

1. Line a baking dish with tortillas. Corn or flour - your pick. Let them come up the sides of the dish to form a "crust."

2. Spread over this some beans, either whole or refried (I use a bean paste concoction of my own making which is drained canned black beans and pink beans whirled together in the food processor with some salsa, cilantro, cumin and Louisiana sauce. Makes a great dip on its own, too).

3. Over this, some cooked rice of your choosing (I used plain brown rice, but you could do yellow rice or white rice or what have you).

4. Over this, some salsa or taco sauce for flavor.

5.Over this, if you desire, ground taco meat (I used turkey; go ahead and use pork or beef or vegan taco crumbles).

6. Next, cheese (I used sharp cheddar; could be jack or colby too).

7.Next, jalapeno slices (or the pepper of your choice).

8.Black olives if you like them.

9.Top with a covering layer of tortillas and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until the tortillas on top get nicely browned.

10. Serve with chopped onions, more peppers, and sour cream if you like it (I will probably use plain yogurt, since that's what's in the fridge)

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I kicked the screen off the track of the patio door a week ago. I wasn't even drunk.

It's been hot out and while I wait for maintenance to re-install the door, I've been opening the door without a screen and tolerating the occasional flying thing coming in.

What I did not anticipate, with all my moving of things from closets and under beds, was finding a spider the size of my fist crouching behind a picture I'd leaned against the wall in my bedroom. How did she get past me? I have no idea. I am still giving myself chills just thinking about her.

No doubt she was a harmless, ordinary garden spider, but damn was she big. Brown, with jointed legs and a pointy fat body. She had to have a legspan of about 3 inches. Hell, I've seen tarantulas who were smaller.

She never moved from her resting spot until I blasted her with the first spray of bug killer. She made a break for it and I kept spraying from the relative safety of my bed as she legged it for the dark place under the chair in the corner. I kept spraying towards her, my whole body tingling with chills, as she twitched and moved ever slower toward what must have seemed like freedom. A puddle formed on the floor. She would stop moving and I would spray to see if she moved, and she did, resisting the chemicals assaulting her central nervous system. Finally, convinced she would not move for a few seconds, I ran and grabbed paper towels to sop up the pesticide on my floor and stepped on them to ensure her demise. I scooped up the mess with a publisher's catalogue and threw it in the trash, the mopped up the bedroom floor.

Dear Simon Spotlight: I regret that I was unable to review your Fall 06 offerings. Please send a new copy of your catalog at your earliest convenience.

In the Company of Men

My two most recent border skirmishes with members of the opposite sex have been found wanting.

1. I expressed interest in a friend of a friend who was at the same get-together I was. I thought he was interesting and fun. My friend offered to reconnoiter a little for me and see what was up. The fellow, who is actually single and could be considered to be looking for, if not in need of, a girlfriend, declined to comment on my interest. I am told that this young man does go through bouts of withdrawal in which he refuses to see anyone. I am grateful that he is at least able to pull it together enough to go to barbecues with friends, but feel that this may have been a gift - imagine dating someone who periodically becomes a hermit and cannot be coaxed out. The potential for guilt and for wasted time trying to change his mind are immense.

2. A fellow book groupie (we call ourselves "borks" = book + dork) has been trying for some time to get her single former coworker to try dating. She initiated a "drive-by" at his workplace (he is a manager of a retail establishment) whereby she would introduce us on Friday. We met, and he seemed cordial, but aloof, and preoccupied with work, since he would chat briefly, but was busily scanning inventory. Now, on reflection, the workplace is not necessarily a good place for introductions, especially if the would-be suitor is a workaholic, which I am told is one of the reasons he hasn't been dating. But he seemed humorous, and kind, and I agreed with my bork friend that we should try to get him to come out onto neutral turf sometime. I think an
apres-work foursome for a spot of miniature golf, then drinks, would be just the thing.

But why does it seem that all the young men who are single that I have met are not into getting UN-single? I don't view the grumpiness of the first or the aloofness of the second as rejection of me, but as stubbornness that is a coping machanism born of being shy. I refuse to (fully) believe that someone who is my age and never married is single because they are defective. If I believed this, then I would be saying the same of myself, and I know this isn't true. I'm just an old sock who hasn't found the right old shoe.

But wait! There's more

In my cleaning frenzy I forgot to look under the bed, which since I raised it has an additional 6 inches of vertical space in which to stack things. All of which should be carefully examined. The zippered under-the-bed bags I began cheerfully cramming with crap last fall and the contents of my gigantic suitcase which now serves as a storage unit will presently be under siege.

One or two things worry me, however. There are some things which I cannot use but which I cannot discard, known as family heirlooms. I have piles of little canvases painted by my grandfather, who was very enthusiastic but just not very good as a painter. I'm not going to hang them up, and they're not worth selling. So they live under my bed.
In the darkest recesses of my kitchen cabinets, I have about 12 or so beer glasses acquired (stolen, knowing his mischievous tendencies) by my father in Germany as souvenirs. Some of them are from little regional or town breweries which probably don't exist anymore, so they could have value to a beer collector. But how would I find out?

What makes an heirloom, anyway?

I am pretty sure that the clock that belonged to my dad's grandparents, which is over 150 years old and still works, is. It traveled a lot of miles to the frontier of Missouri and survived with its little glass door intact.

I am positive that the yards and yards of richly embroidered silk that were given to my grandmother when she left India are. From what I can tell, it's the pattern of a wedding sari, so it was a gift for a girl who was becoming a young woman.

The silver teapot on its stand is. The pictures of all the people I never knew are.
What the heck do I decide to keep of the nearer generations to make sure they get remembered too?

Maternal Loveliness

I'm re-reading The Grapes of Wrath, and it really ought to be just named the Great American Novel and get it over with. Listen to this description of Ma Joad:

She nodded pleasantly. "Come in," she said. "Jus' lucky I made plenty bread this morning."

Tom stood looking in. Ma was heavy, but not fat; thick with child-bearing and work. She wore a loose Mother Hubbard of gray cloth in which there had once been colored flowers, but the color was washed out now, so that the small flowered pattern was only a little lighter gray than the background. The dress came down to her ankles, and her strong, broad, bare feet moved quickly and deftly over the floor. Her thin, steel-gray hair was gathered in a sparse wispy knot at the back of her head. Strong, freckled arms were bare to the elbow, and her hands were chubby and delicate, like those of a little girl. She looked out into the sunshine. Her full face was not soft; it was controlled, kindly. Her hazel eyes seemed to have experienced all possible tragedy and to have mounted pain and suffering like steps into a high calm and superhuman understanding. She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken. And since old Tom and the children could not know hurt or fear unless she acknowledged hurt and fear, she had practiced denying them in herself. And since, when a joyful thing happened, they looked to her to see whether joy was on her, it was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials. But better than joy was calm. Imperturbability could be depended upon. And from her great and humble position in the family she had taken dignity and a clean calm beauty. From her position as healer, her hands had grown sure and cool and quiet; from her position as arbiter she had become as resolute and faultless in judgment as a goddess. She seemed to know that if she swayed the family shook, and if she ever really deeply wavered or despaired the family would fall, the family will to function would be gone.

I mean, this is characterization that knocks your socks off.

In the house, dog

Next door neighbors have acquired a dog, which I am sure I made mention of already. The other day I saw it off the leash in front of neighbor's apartment. It is a young pit bull.

This morning I was awakened by the sound of the neighbors' 2 year old on the balcony with the puppy. The child was yelling commands at the pup which it clearly did not understand.

Is anyone else as annoyed by this as I am?

The dog is clearly being raised without discipline and being allowed to develop bad habits for which as the puppy gets older and is no longer so goshdarn cute (and it is DAMN cute), the owner will attempt to punish the dog for, which may or may not involve physical punishment, which will probably lead to aggressive behavior in the dog, a breed known for aggression. This is ghetto fabulous.

I just finished reading an article in last week's New Yorker (yeah, I'm a little behind in my reading) about Cesar Millan, the "dog whisperer," and was struck by how little these people next door have thought about what dog ownership means. You can't just offer a dog affection and food. Discipline is actually something a dog needs to have from the get-go if you want him to respect you. At any rate, the stories of mis-managed dogs in the article were pretty incredible. I feel like I am probably living next door to one.

So I need to decide what to do. Clearly I need to notify the management of our complex that the dog is there at all, because dogs are seriously NOT allowed. What they will do about it, I have no idea. I wish I was able to confront these idiots about how wrong what they are doing is, but I'm a wuss. Although it is universally known among residents here that the management turns a blind eye on cats, strictly speaking the policy is "No Pets" and I could be challenged by my neighbor. I love my fur children, but I love having a roof over my head more. I do think, however, that the management will not enjoy hearing about the dog turds that will be turning up on the landscaping soon, since the neighbor doesn't understand the purpose of a poop scoop.

Have a lovely Sunday.