Friday, June 30, 2006

He vs. She

At last week's party, we amused ourselves with this comparison:


Monday: Make menu, grocery list, clean house.

Tuesday: Mow and trim yard, buy pretty flower baskets, clean the house.

Wednesday: Clean the house.

Thursday: Take the afternoon off. Shop for ingredients. Clean the house. Start the chopping and cooking.

Friday: Leave work 2 hours early, get home, beautify myself, clean the house, start more cooking, make friends come early to set up awnings and tables.

Everyone has a great time.


Friday: Work until 5, go out to the coffee shop and socialize til 6:30.

7:00 guests arrive.

8:00 Open freezer door and think about what to cook tonight.

10:30 Dinner to die for is ready.

Everyone has a great time.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

He's Leavin...

...on a jet...Harleyyyy

Well, we did it, we put that boy Ilaiy on a plane tonight, for San Jose, CA. He's been so much a part of my life, and of our lives, that I just can't not acknowledge it.

My kneejerk reaction is to hurry and tell you about this wonderful friendship, and how we met (I offered him a seat at my dry cafe table (under an awning) during a thunderstorm (we said "h'lo" for months before saying more); and who he introduced me to (Marcy and Mike and Atef and about 100 more that are drawn to him).

And for some reason I think you should know how special this guy is. He was sounding board when my son and I fought. The weekend that I found out that my mother had Alzheimer's, he checked in when I was paralyzed with grief, and, when I was bouncing off the walls, talked with me at an outdoor cafe until 3 a.m., until I knew I could only go home and sleep.

We had a few childish arguments, one while he was dropping me off at my car, in a parking lot. I slammed his car door and stormed off in a huff. He, in turn, parked his car behind mine, blocking me in. I rolled my window down just enough to put my lips out and threaten to open a can of Monster Truck Whoop-ass on his car. He knew I was bluffing, and stood there calmly rapping his knuckles on the roof of my car, driving me nuts and refusing to let me go, until we'd talked it out.

We have otherwise laughed. And laughed. And laughed some more.

And I wanted to tell you all of these things, but then I thought, "Oh, for chrissakes, Lori, he's MOVING, he's not DEAD!"

And all that other stuff sounded too much like a memorial, so I decided that maybe I should just zip it...

...and instead...

...choose to dance.

Because I have a lifelong friend. He's going to thrive in his dream job. Because he will visit us, and we him. Because I love his family, and they me, and us.

And we will continue to


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Photo of the kid

Some of you have already seen this picture in the mass e-mailing I did about 2 seconds after I had it in my grubby little hands. Sorry for the duplication, I'll throw in some new and improved notes along with what you already know.

There's my kid! My first Brian-siting since this was taken! There he is (on the right), yayyyy!

Coincidentally, his father (J) teaches a few courses at Fort Leonard Wood now and again. He had to go down there this weekend, and he and Bri's stepmom (M) got to spend about 45 minutes with Brian on Saturday afternoon.

I was helping Ilaiy shop (for t-shirts, what else?) when J&M called to give me the report on Brian. He looked so great, he's doing very well, and seems happy there. They would meet him again for church the next morning.

I have a confession to make.

I am rarely jealous. In fact, I can't really think of a time when I've envied another person, let alone harbor ill will against them for something they have and I don't. But while I smiled through hearing how great my kid is doing, it took all I had not to smash my cel phone on the floor, and follow this little kid's lead:

I admit it. For a split second there, I wanted to throw myself on the ground and kick and scream, "how come YOU get to see him? You get all the good stuff! Everything happens to me! No FAIR!"

But I didn't. I teared up, but knocked it off soon enough to beg for copies of photos.

And when J stopped by my workplace yesterday, I hadn't a shred of jealousy left, but mere gratitude for his kindness, for thinking of me, and knowing how bad I wanted to see those pictures. I wanted to pick him up and swing him around in a big hug, while he gleefully told me all he got to talk about with Brian. I want to hear everything, as usual.

He is going to Fort Benning, GA next. It is his station for 4 years, but there is, of course, no guarantee that he'll stay there.

The other guy in the pic is one of his best friends, "Hall." I talked to Brian last night, and he told me some about the young man he's pictured with. He said "our faces and hands are tan, but the rest of us shiny white."

They wear this garb all day long, sleeves and all, in near-100-deg. heat, doing push-ups in the sun, at 1:00 in the afternoon. He has 4 sets of this uniform, laundry goes out Tues and Thursday.

His friend Hall is leaving the day of graduation, going to desert training, and, after a brief stay with his family, is stationed in Iraq. Knowing this, that photo becomes even more bittersweet. I am nauseous, and scared for his family, and guilty about my own dumb luck. I pray for a big happy reunion 4 years from now, with his family and ours. I pray for comfort for his mother and father, and safety in his own life.

And for an end to this war, ohhh, for an end to it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Taste Too

My previous post sure was grumbly, wasn't it? I meant every word of it, this is true.

But I actually left the festival smiling. While we sat on the grass with our water and cold chicken, I observed this woman nearby:

And I realized:

SHE is at the same festival that I am at, at the very same time. She has trudged through the same crowd, the same chaos. I see that she has a meal with her, and is probably also waiting for friends. Hence, she waited in the same lines.

And SHE is dancing, while I grumble.

And we make choices about our perceptions and our reactions.

And hers is SO much better than mine was.

I will remind myself: Lori, choose to dance.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Taste of Champaign

We met at the coffee shop Saturday night, and decided to mosey on over to the Taste of Champaign. I somehow remember this festival being better in years past.

The crowds were dizzying, and the lines very long. That's fine; it's a festival! However, I go to a lot of festivals that support large crowds and I rarely to see this kind of chaos. The food booths are so close together that the line from one often ran into another. Meanwhile, the corners of the park were all lawn, empty of vendors, tents, or picnic tables. Can't they better utilize the space in the park to give the vendors and spectators a little breathing space?

There were 25 food vendors. Hasn't there been nearly twice that in years past, or am I remembering childhood Christmases? So many of my favorites were missing—where was Seaboat?! There seemed to be little of substance: Lots of pizza, sno-cones, and ice cream bars, and even the prices on these were exorbitant.

Several of the vendors were out of inventory. Why do so many come unprepared for the main meal (It's Saturday Night!) of the festival? Marcy ended up settling for pizza, paying $3 for a sample slice at Garcia's (NOT a true Garcia's slice!), and finding only breakfast (egg and bacon) pizza left over at One World. Yuk.

Everything we intended to try was unavailable. We split up then, two of us for gyros, one for pizza, and one for thai samplings.

Mike ordered chicken satay at Siam Terrace, and sat down to bite into icy, raw chicken:

Ugh; we had tickets left, but by then, no appetite.

While I'm at it, who in the heck can afford to take their kids to this festival?!! There's a kiddy-land in one corner, with those inflatable slides and jumpy things. 1 ticket for one ride. That's ONE DOLLAR to slide down a pillow. Pony rides were $4 each, and they were charging $2 a pop to pet a goat and a rabbit in the "petting zoo."

I know all of the proceeds for this event went to charity; is that why the prices were outrageous?

Still, it is touted as a festival, not a fundraiser. People don't show up to Taste of Champaign with a cause in mind. I'd venture the majority aren't even aware that there is a cause. People come out for good food, good music, and a good time—for a reasonable price. A couple feeding 2 kids couldn't have gotten out of there for less than $100, if everyone was to go home satiated and entertained.

Seriously, who wants to pay more to get a taste of something than it would cost to sit down in the restaurant? Marcy spent $5 on a slice and a bottle of water. For $2 more, she could have walked to The Esquire and had a great pizza. And a glass of water.

The restauranteurs may be "donating" all of the proceeds, but it still seems like they would also only stand to profit if the prices were lower. More people would be able to afford to taste their snacks, and stop in for a full meal at a later date.

We spent $30 on pizza, raw chicken, a few miscellaneous bites and bottled water (to use up our non-refundable tickets). We were grouchy and hungry, and ended up going to Merry Ann's Diner around midnight for a cheeseburger.

I may stroll through next year, to see if they have cleaned up their act. But I won't expect much, and I'll make alternate dinner plans up front. I think I've eaten my last Taste of C-U meal.

Saturday's Market Report

The market report is: I didn't go to the market this week. I was, instead, trying to wake up and tackle this mess:

Don't you love it? We had a going-away party for Ilaiy Friday night. He's a pretty laidback guy with an extensive (300+) t-shirt collection, so we all wore wacky t-shirts, if we had 'em, in his honor:

Looking at someone else's party pix may bore you to death, but we had such a good time, I have to share. And our friends might be peeking in for photos also.

We had a Mexican-style cookout with gobs and gobs of food (pork in tomatillo sauce, chorizo, chicken, and hot sausages) and margaritas (fresh peaches, strawberries, and melon), and great friends. Food and friends: Always a winning combination.

Mark, Chetan, Kaye, Kristie, Nancy, Atef, Mike

Allen, Nancy, Chetan
We laughed. A lot!

To complete our fiesta, Dana and Atef brought a giant pinata. Atef found a nail over the french doors, he decided it was the perfect place for it. Yes, I let him hang a piñata between GLASS doors, and thought it was a good idea when they found my mag light to use as a piñata beater-upper. I see now why they refilled my wine glass for me so often earlier in the evening. Ilaiy went first:

Then Mike:

Atef went next, and finished off the game. Here's live footage of Atef The Pinata Killer that Marcy-Momo posted on YouTube:

Shocking, isn't it? Here's one of me wearing a piece of the leftover carnage:

And, after stuffing ourselves with candy, those that were left retired to the sunroom and talked until the wee hours of the morning. Well, some of us talked, while others just...listened.

We had a great time, but, as I told Momo later, it would have been impossible to throw a lousy party with such good company. We'll miss that Ilaiy boy, but he promises to fly back and visit us frequently.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Ah, the midwest. Corn, corn, corn, corn, beans, corn, corn, corn. Some find it terribly tiresome. Dull. Still, there are days, like today, when the view is quite scenic.

Friday, June 23, 2006

DaBomb: The Final Answer

My friend and near-constant companion, Ilaiy, is moving to California. Rats. We've been steadfast buddies for a couple of years now (you met his mother, Rani, in an earlier post), and he lives down the street from me. We have gravitated towards dining together most nights; no sense in cooking for one in both houses.

Everyone in our lil' circle can verify that Ilaiy likes his food spicy. I mean HOT. He cooks nothing that doesn't have green chilies, thai chilis, dried red pepper, and red pepper powder in it. Not 1 of the 4—ALL FOUR. I've had to stand in the hallway of his apartment to catch my breath on more than one occasion. I'm pretty sure I've developed an immunity to pepper spray as a result of knowing him—hey! Let's find out!

When we eat out, "make it HOT" is a standard request, and more often than not, I cringe when he calls the poor waiter back, and politely tells them, "this isn't hot." They commence to finding pepper and oils and anything with lava in it, while he declares, "still not hot" until I get fed up and tell him to knock it off. "They've adjusted their cuisine for the midwestern palate, dahlink. Give 'em a break, it's as hot as they got."

A couple weeks ago, we trekked up to Chicago for some last minute shopping. After walking all day, I dragged him into Heaven on Seven for a bloody mary. He ordered coffee, we sat at the bar and split a bowl of gumbo.

Here's a pic of the owner of Heaven on Seven, Jimmy Bannos (that I nabbed from their website). Please note the number of bottles in the background. Those are hot sauces.

Our gumbo was served with a six-pack of sauces on the side. At Ilaiy's request, the bartender pointed out the hottest of the lot. Par for the course, Ilaiy called him back, "this isn't hot." "Great," I was thinking, "one billion bottles of sauce in this place, and Ilaiy is going to declare each and every one of them wussy-hot."

But no. The bartender, obviously thinking, "I'm going to shut thus mo-fo up" pulled a secret weapon from wizard-y, apothecary-esque case. A little black bottle. When he removed the lid it POOF'ed, and a red cloud flew over our heads. "THIS is hot," he told Ilaiy. I like hot sauce myself, but even I knew to pass on this one. Be afraid, be very afraid.

He gave Ilaiy a coffee stirrer and a few saltine crackers, warning him not to screw up our gumbo until he tasted it. Ilaiy laughed: HA! He used the stick to spread the black—yes! black!—tarlike sauce across a cracker and moved to pop it in his mouth. The bartender caught his wrist, "No." He opened another cracker, touched the tip of it onto the cracker Ilaiy had prepared. "Now."

Ilaiy ate the second cracker.

He shrugged.

"Not hot." he said. Proudly, I think.

The bartender smiled.

We waited.

Ilaiy's next question was "Can I get a glass of water?"

And then, "this IS hot, oh, it is!" Glug, glug, glug, glasses of water were being down one after another. He was out of his freakin mind trying to dissipate the heat. He poured every packet of sugar down his throat. He pulled off his glasses and wiped his eyes. Sweat poured down his face, and he proclaimed his tongue completely numb, and a hole burned through his cheek where he'd accidentally touched the hot sauce to his face.

I present to you: The Hot Sauce That Put Ilaiy Under The Table:

I did some research on The Final Answer.

First of all, the heat in a pepper is measured by "Scoville Units," a scale developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912. According to,

The original Scoville test asked a panel of tasters to state when an increasingly dilute solution of the pepper no longer burned the mouth. Roughly one part per million of chilli 'heat' rates as 1.5 Scoville units.
Whatever. Here's a more comprehensive comparison:

A jalapeño pepper has 5000 scoville units.

A habañero, the hottest available pepper, has 300,000 scoville units.

DaBomb: The Final Answer has 1,500,000 scoville unites.

The recipes advise using one drop off of a toothpick to flaver an entire meal. 2 ounces of the stuff will run you about $40. I calculated that to be $2560.00/gallon.

That's a lot of money for a food product in which "Danger" and "Warning" are words used in the advertisement. No wonder they named the stuff after "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" They will be, after selling 400 gallons.

In the end, we didn't buy it. We left the restaurant with Ilaiy still sweating buckets, and exclaiming "That was great!" as if he'd just gone bungee-jumping.

He won't admit it, but I suspect the real Final Answer hit him the next morning.

Bedside Manner?

I took my mother to the doctor yesterday. I have mentioned before that she's in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. She functions well with most things, but struggles with anything requiring a number. As she doesn't drive anymore, my sister and I make sure she's happy and gets where she needs to go.

She has a couple of suspicious spots on her face, and one on her hand. Her regular doctor, whom we love, is on medical leave, so we had to make an appointment with a new doctor.

The new doctor walked into the examination room 90 minutes after the appointment was scheduled. I had actually tired of waiting that long, and opened the door to find her standing in it. I said, "Oh, you're right here!" and she said "uh huh" and stood there continuing to read, not saying hello, introducing herself, or otherwise acknowledging us.

She then walked in and suggested that Mom's blood pressure was a bit on the high side, saying that we might need more medicines.

Never having met her, not knowing what information she had in her hands, I asked her if she had it down that that Mom is already taking blood pressure meds. "I KNOW," she said, "that's why I said MORE instead of SOME."

Her tone was unmistakeable: she all but added, "you dumb bitch" to the end of her sentence.

My intentions were to make sure that all communication with concern with Mom's meds and health care were clear, and she was cold and rude about it. Does she forget that I pay HER?

I'm not paying her to talk to me or my mother like that, that's for sure. She offered to either send Mom to a dermatologist for a biopsy, or she said she could do it herself.

I took what was behind Door #1: The dermatologist. I want someone a bit nicer, with a better bedside manner to handle my mother, especially if they're going to be cutting on her while she's awake.

What if she really is a good doctor? What if she's top of her class, and we were lucky to have gotten in to see her? How much does bedside manner account for when you're talking about potentially serious health issues? Would I rather have an asshole that knows what he's doing, or a kind idiot?

Well. The asshole of course. But those really aren't my only 2 choices. She's a family practice doctor, and there are dozens of them to choose from. They're all going to give me basically the same options. I'll just step over here and deal with the doctor that treats us with a little dignity. And that doctor can "Sit On It, Potsy."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

We are amongst greatness!

Hey everybody! Our friend and fellow blogger, Wendy, ( is famous! She made the front page of

I'm cartwheels-excited, and not taking any chances that she might be too humble to tell you her ownself. Go read, and congratulate her!


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Risky Bid-ness

Remember that cool house we visited while we were garage-saling? Our new friend there gave us information and invited us to an auction on Saturday.

Our first Country Auction! Friday night, we sought out advice from our sage auction-master, Don England. He gave us this advice:
"First: Go early, pick out what you like, and set a price in your mind what you'll pay. Don't go over it."

Second: Auction starts at 10:00. Don't show up at 11:00.

Second: Don't jump around and get all gleeful when your item is up. Keep a poker face about you.

Second: If you win something, make a note of it on the back of your card; keep track of what you've spent, it's easy to get caught up.

Second: The hamburgers are good. Have one."
"Don, why are there so many seconds?"

"Because they're all second to Number 1."


After the farmer's market we tooled on to Jim Clingan's Auction Center in St. Joseph, IL, still not knowing what to expect. It was 91 degrees, and I was relieved to find that the auction was held in a shelter. With fans. And clean restrooms. And concessions.

We arrived 1/2 hour early and took stock. Furniture on one side of the room. Mm-hmmm. "Stuff" on the other. Amazing stuff: beautiful quilts, sets of silver. And odd stuff. This is a "lot." A "Lot" = "A box full of loot."

Yes. That IS spools of thread and used hearing aids. The tricky thing about lots is that you usually want ONE thing in the box, and have to buy the entire lot.

We followed Don's instructions: We picked out what we liked. We quizzed one another: "What's your top dollar, Dana? What's your limit, Marcy?" We were shifty-eyed, careful not to reveal what we'd be bidding on. We were snaky and ready, when the auctioneer took the stand.


Have you ever been stunned, in a dark room, by a strobe light? White flashing lights, making everything appear in slow motion, rendering you totally, temporarily, disoriented from the sensory assault?

That was us yesterday; the three of us fell into a weird trance when the auctioneer began calling. You could have walked up and tapped our foreheads, and we would have fallen right over, like cows.

Bimbo Tipping. [CitySlickers: E-mail me if you don't get that joke.]

Watch this clip from Saturday morning, and you'll understand why we were taken off-guard:

This we had to learn to follow, and learn it fast, before our items came up. We had a couple of false starts. We discovered there's no discussing amongst yourselves what you should do, DURING the bidding of your item. There is no freeze-frame.

We learned from our mistakes, and had our shit together by the time our real heart's desires rolled around. We didn't smile. We were focused and shrewd. We didn't wave our arms to bid, but just lifted our chin to the auctioneer's eyes, to indicate that yes, we'd go another dollar. We were cold-blooded shysters, intent on taking home our books and umbrella stands come hell or high water.

All right, in all honesty, Marcy and I DID both bid against ourselves. Not against each other, mind you. Against OURSELVES. Marcy's books got up to $27.50, and when the $30.00 bid came 'round, she bid on that too. By God, if anyone was going to pay $30, it would be her! I did the same damned thing with my table. The auctioneer recognized us for the rookies we were, and kindly pretended not to notice. We won our books and tables and umbrella stands.

The three of us broke all auction etiquette by cheering and clapping for one another. Dana didn't buy anything, but that didn't keep her from high-fiving us for kicking some auction ass. I swear, if we'd had footballs, we would have spiked them and done the chicken dance.

It was a long, hot day. Mike and Ilaiy showed up to pack the loot:

They were efficient packers, leaving no cranny unpacked:

I came home with one table, and 4 chairs I wasn't sure I wanted (part of the lot) but might make due with. Also a brass umbrella stand filled with long-handled umbrellas, an old-timey coffee grinder (for Ilaiy), 10 copper coffee mugs engraved with someone else's monogram and an old milk jar (part of the lot). All for $50.

We were hot, dirty, and exhausted by the time we arrived home. We unloaded and followed this little sweetie's lead:

Next Auction: July 8.

We can hardly wait.

Harvest & Hugs

The Farmer's Market is really beginning to blossom. It's been fun to watch the weekly progression, from early in the year when there were more crafts than fruits and vegetables. A few more treats pop up every week, and that which sold out early a month ago is available in abundance now.

Yesterday's green-bean harvest was shocking; this booth wasn't even at the market last weekend:

Berries were popular yesterday too; the line for these yummies was verrrry long.

A weekly bouquet is in order. The proprietors of this booth are about an hour or so North of Champaign. I hope to make time to drive up and photograph their fields sometime soon; it's a trek I plan every year, and never get around to. I WILL do it this year!

The hanging baskets are breathtaking. Mine always look a bit more limp than these, no matter how much attention I give them. I'm doing something wrong, maybe these folks can give me a few tips.

This focaccia bread looked amazing, but I opted for a delicious cookie bar called "Kermit's Hermit." The older couple at this table have a van-full of pastries, cakes, and home-made breads. The label on their baked goods gives a home address, and I wonder about their at-home assembly line. Are they just baking and baking and baking in their own home for 2 days before the market? Shouldn't I just have asked them this before I wrote about them? I'll get the scoop next week.

And look, we ran into one of my best friends, Diane! Di is one of those best friends that "best friends" doesn't sum up the friendship appropriately enough. We met 25 years ago, working in a printing factory, and didn't like one another at ALL. Despite the fact that she didn't much care for me, one day she stepped up and rescued me from a tyrant, and we've been tight ever since. We're both putting our new homes in order, she works nights and weekends, and we don't see each other as much as we'd like to.

We ran into her yesterday, and she immediately had us in stitches regaling a tale from the night before, of her crawling into bed with a good book and a bag of goldfish crackers. She was reading and nibbling away only to find herself and her bedsheets covered with nearly-microscopic sized bugs...that were pouring out of her cracker bag. She was still a bit traumatized, so we comforted her by...laughing and laughing.

Di showed us a necklace she picked up at the market, and we insisted she wear it. Here's Marcy fastening it for her:

I also ran into my best-friend-in-high-school's mother, and gave and received a few hugs from her before we parted.

Good food, beautiful harvest, great friends. Who wouldn't crawl out of bed on a Saturday morning for all that?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

$4 t-shirt and a story that has nothing to do with it

Now that I have your attention, I must think up a story. I have to. I received an e-mail, asking for a blogstory. What's girl to do? Come, sit in my lap.

Once Upon a Time, when I was less than kindergarten age, when my morning, afternoon, and evening schedules were all penciled in with the word "play," I found myself being fitted for a shiny new pair of yellow shorts, as my mother slaved away at a sewing machine. They were almost done; all she needed to do was thread some elastic through the waist band.

My mother wasn't really much of a seamstress; stitching one piece of fabric to another was do-able. Zippers and buttonholes were out of the question, however, so elastic it was.

Alas. There was no elastic to be found in the sewing box.

No sense in dragging all the kids along, she just ran next door to ask Mardell (that's Mrs. McKenna to you and me) to keep an eye on us while she ran up to the Scott's dime store for a sec. Mardell was only too happy to oblige, as taking care of a kid in our neighborhood in the mid 60s consisted primarily of waking us up, and sending us outside for a bit of fresh air until our Dad's got home from work around 5:30 in the evening.

So my mother parked me on Mardell's front step, still wearing the shorts-in-limbo. I distinctly remember banging on the screen door for permission to come in, but was denied. I sat down and waited with my chin in my hand. Bored.

Bored, that is, until little (though 2 years my senior) Joe McKenna sauntered up, toting 2 pairs of boxing gloves. "Wanna box?" he said? "Sure." Boxing? There was a time in my life when I'd actually say "Sure" to boxing? I was actually going to lace up and punch someone for fun? I was no Miss Priss when I was 4 years old. Like I am now.

I gloved up. These were the real McCoy, for kid's gloves; Joe actually had to lace me into them, and tie them into shoestring-like knots. I don't remember how he got into his own gloves. He did though, and said, "ready?"

Ready as I'd ever be. I stood up and assumed my best boxing stance.

And my elastic-less shorts fell right to my ankles.

I challenge any one of you to strap yourself into these things, and pull up your pants. Seriously, look at them:

It's impossible. While I struggled around with 2 giant thumbs on each hand, that blasted Joe McKenna lay helplessly in the grass, laughing his 6-year-old butt off. Chivalry was dead even then. I screamed thru the door for more help, but apparently Barnabus Collins had more to offer than the screechy neighbor kid.

There was nothing for me to do then, but sit my underpants right back down on the stoop, and wait, shorts around my ankles, for my Mom to arrive back home, and unlace me from my boxing-glove shackles.

That's the end of the story. I wonder what that Joe McKenna's up to these days, he moved shortly after that. Wonder if he ever remembers the stupid little fat girl next door, losing her drawers on his front step.

I wonder why sewing never appealed to me.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Evelyn's Homeowner Tips

I have a burly, rugged-but-handsome (meow!) biker, contractor/construction friend. I've dubbed him "Evelyn" just fits, don't you think? He's a great pal. He gives good advice, and when I don't want it, he just listens and listens and listens.

What was that? Were you listening?! Oh. Thank you.

So he listened to this yesterday, or rather he pretended to read this note, on my current home-owner fix-it up skills:
The stupid plate on my stupid bathroom vanity keeps stupid falling off even though I stupid glued back on 30 stupid times, so I stupid nailed it on, and now I have to stupid paint the stupid nail, which is stupid crooked anyway.
Or some such.

I woke up to find this in my e-mail:

I TOLD you he gives good advice. Ok, I know the butterknife trick; EVERYONE knows that, yeesh. But the high-heel hammer had never crossed my mind.

Thanks, Ev.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Guardian Angels?

I've been sending pictures to my son (and in the interim, have fallen even more in love with Walgreens; I can upload my photos from work home and pick them up whenever I please).

He's a car buff, as was his father, and mine, his grandfather. A few weeks ago, he asked me if I could grab a picture off the internet of an 1995-1998 S14 Nissan 240SX (or something like that) and send it. He and his buddies are talkin' cars, and he wants to show them what he hopes to build. I nabbed that picture up there, and ran to Walgreens to pick it up.

The young man working at Walgreens handed me the print, and mentioned, offhandedly, "I have a car just like that, only it's red."

Oh! I told him I was on a mission for my Army brat, and asked if I could take a photo of HIS car instead of using the "borrowed" one.

As luck would have it, he had a file on his cel phone. He pulled his memory card out, and printed a photo for me—one much nicer than the one I was going to send off.

How cool is that?! I left feeling giggly about the coincidence.

It was even better when I spoke to Brian yesterday: he told me that he got the photos. He couldn't believe it when he saw the photo; told me "that's one of my friends, and I was just telling my buddies about that guy, and his car. That's the VERY car I wanted a photo of, but figured I could only ask for a substitute!"

We aren't THAT small a community; with students thrown in, we are 150,000 here. Yes, we're smaller than a lot of you are, but we're not Mayberry. The odds that I'd run into one random young man, that owned the very car my son wanted to show his friends, AND having that young man offer up a photo of his car to send to a kid in basic training...

It does make me feel kind of wonderful.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Market Report

Cold, rainy, and windy this weekend, I can't believe it's mid June. Sunday morning now, and the temperature here is 57 degrees. Good for our power bills.

The market was sparse yesterday. Several vendors opted to sleep in over fighting the wind to keep wares on the table. Hardcore marketers, Marcy and Dana and I mucked out anyway. Here are a few of the morning's encounters:

This is Alexandra. She's 9 years old, and selling her handmade floral pens and hair bands ($2 and $1), and putting the proceeds into savings, for her college fund. She's very sweet and amazingly articulate.

Farmstead Goat Cheese: I have to stop here every weekend.

These are dog treats. Enough to make your dog salivate, but...well...bleah.

Fish Peppers? I'll admit I took this photo because I thought someone was joking with us. But no. Read on.

It is known that the Fish pepper was an African-American heirloom that began as a mutation of a common Serrano pepper.... Fish peppers were raised almost exclusively in the black community and used in oyster and crab dishes, and especially when cooking terrapin. By the early 1900’s, fruits from this hot pepper had found their way into the markets of Baltimore and Philadelphia, where they were discovered by chefs and used as a secret ingredient to spike seafood dishes.
Neat to learn something new. And speaking of learning, here's a shot that will mean something to only one or two that stop in here:

That's Mrs. Jones, our first-grade teacher. Is she still alive?!!! Yup, and that beehive hairdo is still going strong, god bless 'er.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Speaking of Garage Sales...

[Click to enlarge all photos]

I've referred in a few recent blogs to the fact that I've been doing some remodeling. Ahhh, the last room in the house is done. I'm sure all of you homeowners out there will tell me that, therefore, there will be no more expenses. I can just sit back now, and enjoy my house, yes? No more work, no more money...Right? Am I right?



I hadn't known where my sunroom was headed until a few weeks ago, when I got an e-mail from Dana. She mentioned, offhandedly, "there's a garage sale on your street that has a bunch of that 50-60s style furniture we both like; too bad I don't have any room for it."

Cha! Well I had room for it! I had AN ENTIRE room for it, and I raced out of work on my lunch (half) hour to check out the furniture. $100, the sign said. While I looked it over, the lady at the table said, "she said she'd take $80 for the lot."

Ga! Sold! Sold, sold, sold!

I was then faced with blue and brown furniture, an ugly yellow room, and drab, brown indoor-outdoor carpeting, in my final room. Time to take the bull by the horns. Some paint, some new carpeting, and everything's fallen into place. Here's my new and improved sunroom, with furniture that costs less than sushi for 3:

Don't you love it?!! Done, I'm done! No more painting, no more expen...oh. Well. Curtains. I want to replace the matchstick blinds with..mmm-hm...just a few curtains...for 11 windows.

THEN I'll be done.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Saturday Saling

I set out Saturday morning with Ilaiy and Dana for the farmer's market and a few garage sales. I have to tell you about one particular stop.

We were late. The proprietor was closing down, taking a few items back into the house. He invited us to continue to look around, and indicated that he had a few more things in the house; he asked what we were looking for. "How about a table and chairs?" I asked him.

Awww. No. Someone just took off with the table and chairs. Oh well. Early bird gets the worm.

But then he said, "oh, heck, just come on in, and see if there's anything that interests you."

I am trying now to remember just what I was expecting. Maybe a desk, or a chair with the price tag still on it? A few things boxed up in the doorway?

I do remember that we gasped in unison when we stepped into his home. It was filled! Floor-to -ceiling with beautiful art and antiques and furniture and clocks and books and lamps and radios and...history. It was as if we'd stepped through a portal into another time, another world. I was Robin Williams, in What Dreams May Come, standing inside a favorite painting.

Our host was most kind, showing us into every room, and giving us oral histories of several of the artifacts: Tattered books of political cartoons from the early 1900s. Gossip chairs. Stained glass. A billiards table built in the late 1800s.

He allowed me take a few photos, gave me permission to blog about it. The photos don't really do the place justice, but I hope you can get an idea. Upon entering:

(Click on any image to enlarge)

This organ really works. He played a few notes for us.

A matching cat in every room. I would hardly have been surprised if this cat had just come right out and introduced himself in plain English.

Clocks. Working clocks; the ticking enhanced the ambiance of the house even more. They were wonderful to look at and to listen to.

I fell in love with this little globe lamp, but it wasn't for sale. "It goes so well with this room," he told us. He was right. It fit his place better than it ever would mine; it is where it should be.

We were there for quite some time, poking around and admiring. We left out of sheer politeness, as we could have all fixed ourselves a sandwich and stayed all day.

We left his home feeling both astonished and...cozy. We'd staggered out of bed at the crack of 9:00 to hit a few sales, and—Lo!—smacked into an nice guy that led us into his house of treasures. It was an unexpected twist that left us feeling all warm and fuzzy. Amazing things are just waiting to happen to you, if you get out of your lazyboy and step outside.

Don't you love it?