Tuesday, May 30, 2006
After lunch Sunday, I dragged Mom around clothes shopping. I HATE clothes shopping, and I wear what I do own into the ground. I've tossed and donated to the point that mornings have become frantic for me, trying to put together an outfit.
So, I grabbed a mountain of clothes at Kohl's the other day, and hit the dressing room, while Mom sat by and critiqued, and I took it all with a grain of salt. She's my Mom. She thinks I look great in anything.
There was one item of clothing, denim capris pants with a little silk scarf for a belt, that she thought was particularly nice on me. "Oh! You look so cute!" she said, making me feel great, until she gleefully finished, "...just like a little hillbilly!"
Not the look I was after.
But she was right, they WERE cute, and I bought those suckers.
I'm wearing them today, and this keeps going through my head:
"SOOOOOoooo-EEEeeeeeeeeeey! Pig! Pig! Pig!''
Monday, May 29, 2006
This was at a gas station between Champaign and Chicago. A godforsaken bathroom, as I remember, and I wonder what made the owners decide to install this particular machine, over one that say, sells aspirin and tampons. How many women get in there, and think, "I stink. Loan me a quarter." I wonder if you get a squirt or a cloud, but someone had penned "out of order" across the top, so maybe I'll never know.
In Chicago, Clark Street. An interesting combination of wares. I'd wager you won't find a gravy boat in your particular pattern here, but maybe you can still register.
This clearance sign appeared on an viaduct. I'm completely perplexed.
For some reason this sign amuses me every time I see it. It seems so awkward, on first viewing.
Revised P.S.: Browse through Barry's Baghdad Blog for more interesting signs. And then some.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
It is true. She has always been shy and quiet, and, as she ages, more and more fearful of just about everything. My parents' personalities complimented one another, as my father was boisterous and outgoing.
And demanding. He was King of His Castle, and we waited on him, and feared him, and obeyed him, and adored him. He was an old-fashioned guy where his family was concerned, too strict, with both wife and daughters. Married in 1960, theirs was a traditional, "obey your husband" marriage. My mother stayed at home, and waited on him hand and foot, as did my sister and I, when we were kids. "Bring me some tea!" "Change the channel!" (pre-remote)
But he was also smart enough to see the writing on the wall: My sister and I would not follow in our mother's footsteps. He knew this. He knew that we would grow up to work side by side with men, and we'd be harrassed and we'd be discriminated, and by God, he'd better toughen us up to get ready for it. Because we were HIS daughters. And we were just as good as they.
And toughen us up he did. Stop crying! Stop giggling! Don't act like this, don't act like that, you only get the respect you demand. Demand respect! Again, you only get the respect you demand!!!
He taught me well. What he hadn't anticipated, though, was that one day I would order him to "step off" and demand HIS respect. Or else.
Did he ever realize I turned out exactly as he'd honed me to? I don't know. He was incensed, most of the time, as was I...as we both, at the same time, unconsciously yearned for one another's acknowledgement: "you are an am amazing person."
We never did get around to telling each other that, and honestly, I can't imagine that either one of us would have given in by now, if he were still alive.
The boys behind immediately calmed down and apologized. "Sorry, sir, sorry."
WHAT? Dad! What happened? What's going on?!
Apparently the "F-WORD" was being bandied about behind us, along with other words more terrible than "crap" and "fart," which also were not allowed in The Stewart Household.
I remember blushing to my ears, as I turned and made eye contact with the boy, probably 3 years my senior. He seemed more embarrassed than I, as I turned back around and kept my eyes front and center. We suddenly had nothing to do but wait for the derby to start.
"Lori, do you notice I never use the Lord's name in vain?"
"...can't say I've made a mental note of it. [long silence ensued]. Why? Do I?"
"All the time you do."
Those were his exact words, and I will NEVER forget them. I DO? ALL THE TIME I DO?!! Well, ALL the time I don't, but I guess I'd felt comfortable enough with him, a wild friend from high school (hi, tbr) that I'd had no idea he was bristling.
And I've tried to cut that out ever since. Because it's offensive to more people than you know, and not everyone has the courage to tell you to "zip it, honey." I'm even fearful now that I'll be inundated with emails and comments mocking my attempt. Might I have no idea?!
So...I try to watch it, but HEY...ya get together with the girlFRANDS, or someone cuts you off in traffic, or you forget to save before the power goes out, and sometimes...THANGS slip out.
I admit it. I'm sorry. I feel just awful.
A few weeks ago, when Mike was out of town, I dragged Marcy along to "Sunday Lunch with Mama." Ilaiy joined us also. Our same old mexican restaraunt, where the waiters say "HI MAMA!" and offer her shots of tequila while she giggles.
We were yakking and having a grand time, and Ilaiy slipped in A Federal Offense, in the eyes of God...and my mother. He has a bit of an Indian accent, so it comes out quickly, and pronounced sort of like "goat-dom." The first time I hear it, I tense, and hope it goes over my mother's head. But again with the goat-dom, ever so casually, and again...until I nearly had a heart attack, jumped across the table. Yes, I practically hissed at one of my best friends, "You MUST stop saying that in front of my mother!"
Wide-eyed he was, as I was when my father jumped the boyz behind me. He said, "I can't, Lori, it just comes out."
"You can and you will." And he did.
I'd forgotten about that day in the grandstands, but hit me like a ton of bricks before I even sat back down. My father was right behind me at that moment. I FELT him standing there.
He said, "OK. I give."
And I replied, "me too."
And we're ok now.
Monday, May 22, 2006
HA! hahahahaaa, funny every time.
But seriously folks. My next-door neighbor has just put in her flower bed. We live in condo-esque neighborhood, so her home and garden sits about 15 feet away from mine. She has also, apparently, sprinkled mothballs everywhere, to keep squirrels and rabbits from gobbling up her blooming beauties.
I'm not sure how many mothballs it takes to permeate the entire neighborhood with their scent, but that's exactly how many she used.
The odor is so strong that my garage reeks when I step into it from the house; I wonder if she hasn't made a neighborly gesture to save my climbing roses. I TASTE them, as I plug my own impatiens and petunias into the ground, wondering, as I work, if I'll ever smell their sweet scent.
I did a little search on the US Environmental Protection Agency website and came up with THIS mothball tidbit:
Acute (short-term) exposure of humans to naphthalene by inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact is associated with hemolytic anemia, damage to the liver, and neurological damage.Great. Just great. I can almost feel the jaundice coming on. Look at my eyes. Are they ok? Are the whites yellowing?
How 'bout now?
Anybody out there have any idea if these moth things just dissolve and go away? Or am I going to have to surreptitiously slip my EPA findings into my sweet neighbor's mailbox?
I can never tell her, the poor thing. I'm spineless, and would suffer cataracts (also a listed side effect) before I told her that her precious flower bed is killing me.
I need to get some (moth) cajones.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
"One of those days" usually refers to a hectic day in which everything goes haywire, doesn't it? But Saturday was one of those days in which everything was very nice. One of THOSE days. Satisfying and wonderful.
Not a leisurely day. I'm remodeling, and painting, and yardwork doesn't wait, so I had to squeeze that in also.
Nicety #1. The Farmer's Market.
Nicety #2: I picked up this planter at a garage sale for $2. I will fill it with blooming somethings and put it on a tabletop.
Nicety #3: As I was contemplating how to take down an awning I'd put up for last weekend's Mother's Day cookout, I had drop-in guests: the Gods delivered 2 strapping young men to my house for a hello, and I put them to work!
Nicety #4: I talked to my Grandmother on the phone.
Nicety # 5: I talked to my son on the phone, for a good long time.
Nicety #6: I was wrapping up the painting when MORE friends dropped by. Atef, and Dana, bearing these cool retro glasses that they had picked up at a sale, just for me:
Now I must to learn to make a mixed drink! Something straight up, on the rocks, over easy, sunny side up! I have to serve something cool in these glasses!
(Nicety # 7) A kickass dinner from with my farmer's market purchases: A piece of a baguette with homemade goat cheese, tomatoes, and basil broiled on top, and a salad on the side.
(Nicety #8) That little guy pictured at the top was hopping and screaming his little froggy head off as I came a bit too close to him with the lawnmower this morning. I captured him in gloved hands (no warts for me!) and carried him to the so-called pond (aka muckhole eyesore) across the street. I gave him a lecture about lawnmowers before I released him.
It was a busy day, full of hard work and a few accomplishments, yet laced with so many niceties, that I could not help setting down at days' end with a great sense of contentment. A lucky one, I am.
Ohhhhhhhh, boy, my favorite time of the summer weeks: Saturday mornings at the Farmer's Market. Every Saturday, religiously.
Fresh fruit and vegetables. FRESH! Picked from a hot sunny field YESTERDAY...not picked, still green, in Florida 3 weeks ago, ethylene-ripened during transport.
Sometimes I wear a dress, and mosey around with a basket of flowers in my arms, walk down every row a couple of times, chatting with vendors and familiar faces. Sometimes I muck over in a rush, in pajama bottoms and a t-shirt, get in, get what I need, and get out.
No matter my schedule, I always feel a bond with my fellow shoppers. We appreciate what we're buying there. We like to eat. We like to cook. We like festivals and markets and artisans and farmers. We like each other, usually, it is a morning full of "hello's" and "oh, excuse me's" and commenting on what we'll do with OUR basil. Mine's usually reserved for pesto, drying, or thai basil-fried rice.
It's early in the year, so the wares are relatively scarce, compared to what they'll be in 6 weeks or so, but here are a few images of this morning's trip.
There's breakfast for a buck (I had turkey):
There's bread and honey:
There are artisans and jewelers:
And cute little doogies:
And best of all, entertainment. This cool guy is here every week, he literally has bells on his toes. He has instruments strapped to elbows, feet, head, and he sings and plays. Little kids are simply MESMERIZED by him.
And this young man was doing a nice job this morning, so I gave him a buck for letting me take his picture.
I'll try to grab a pic or two each week for the blog; I LOVE starting my weekend here, so will drag you along for this summer's ride.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Sunday, May 14, 2006
I know it's sappy, but hey, I started this entry months ago, actually during Hurricane Katrina, and I tucked it away for Mother's Day. If I don't post it now, I'll have to wait another year.
Have you ever imagined, which material items you'd most want to rescue from your house, in case of total destruction? I grew up and currently live in the midwest. What could take my home? A tornado. Fire. What would I want to rush back in for, given, of course, that we are all safe? I wonder every time I see or hear a story of people's loss on television. My answer, to myself, is always unwaivering and immediate: The Coin Purse.
My son found that coin purse in a parking lot when he was 5 years old. No I.D., no cash, just a wet little coin purse in the middle of the Osco parking lot. What a cute little weathered thing it was; "Can I have it?" I asked him.
No. He liked it, he found it, it was his. He found a place for it in his bedroom, and there it stayed, for months.
Mother's Day rolled around, our first "alone" after his father and I split. We did the usual Mother's Day things, took flowers to Grandma, and had lunch with her and Grandpa, then came home and made cookies, a nice little day together. Dinner, and bath and bedtime, and Brian came padding out in his little pajamas. His dad was out of town, he said, and could not take him shopping for a gift for me (it was true). Since he had nothing to give, he wanted me to have the coin purse, because he remembered I like it.
For all of my footstomping and declarations that I hate "sap," the coin purse crumbled me then, and still does. It sits now in my curio cabinet, and still represents to me everything I ever tried to instill in my child—love, friendship, laughter, thoughtfulness, the golden rule, heart, independence, strength, dignity, honesty...to name but a few.
This year, I'm celebrating with a goofy sketch of a vase of flowers, and a note to tell Grandma Happy Mother's Day too, both stuck to the frig with magnets.
Just as good.
Friday, May 12, 2006
130 miles since April 9. And this is what your shoes look like after you walk 5(.6) miles in the rain, all the while oblivous that a teensy sliver of a toenail is hacking into the side of your next toe.
Well, I guess that's how it happened. I'm not altogether sure. Maybe that we were yakking our hearts out (that's a given), or perhaps being soaked to the undies distracted me. All I know is that I was shuh-OCKED to pull off my shoe and find a bloody red sock after Wednesday night's walk.
I got right about finding what must have been a heinous wound, and found: Nothing. Zilch. Zip. I sat down, and took off my glasses, and inspected every toe very closely. I unscrewed my foot from my leg and put it under a microscope. Not even a pinprick of blood! I spent a goodly amount of time searching before I called Dana to scream about it. Poor dear, having made it home and just getting out of a warm shower, she had to deal with me yelping "my sock is all bloody, but there's no wound!!"
What did I expect her to do? She was kind enough to humor me, suggesting places I might look. As if I'd lost my keys. "Look between your toes." "Is there still a sticker in your shoe?" (I'd bogged down the walk after yardwork last week, with sticker-bush stickers in my shoes.) Nope, that's not it.
Again, it occured to me, I'm making the girl stand around in a towel (don't you go picturing it!) and WHAT do I want her to do about it? I let her off the phone.
And, since I couldn't find a wound anywhere, and there was no particular toe that seemed irritated, every single one of my toes was in excruciating, psychosomatic pain the next day. OH, my poor toesies, they didn't know what was wrong with them, they only knew that they MUST be hurting, and they screamed bloody murder. 2nd day after, though, I discovered 3 visible boo-boo's, any one of which could have been the offending bleeder. Where did they come from? I have no ideer.
What did I do about it?
I went WALKING!! Oh yeah baby! Bring it on!
We are walk-jocks.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I was in Walmart with my mother when his call came through. Have you taken a phone call in any Walmart, ever? No reception! Here's me* trying to get outside before I lost his call:
Yup, that's me all right, though somewhat falsely represented: I wasn't jumping hurdles. I was clearing shopping karts and toddlers effortlessly though, all the while telling Brian, "keep talking, don't waste our minutes!"
If I'd have known I had more than 4 minutes, I might not have acted such the spaz.
It was great to have a real conversation with him. Yeah, yeah, he knows all about my life, so I quizzed him about his. He opened up once I began interrogating, and I managed to learn a lot about his new life, in a short time. It may all be so inconsequential, but it's all I got!
Sunday was his first pass. He was in heaven, drinking a Mountain Dew. He otherwise drinks only water there.
At 4:30 in the morning, they are awakened by drill sargeants screaming "TOES ON THE LINE!!" and they have mere seconds to get up and their toes on the line. How rude.
He has physical training immediately after. He wears shorts and a t-shirt. Good, he won't get overheated.
After PT, he has 15 minutes to shower, shave, dress, and make his bed dime-bouncing tight. Brian makes his bed? I can hardly wrap my mind around it.
I only choked up once:
"Sundays." He said it like a complete sentence, before he went on.
"I'm living with 170 pissed-off guys. Everyone wants to be better than everyone else, everyone's a prick. Nothing but testosterone, 6 days a week," he said.
"Sundays is phone day. Mom, on Sundays, it's 170 guys crying."
My breath catches in my throat as I hear this, but I am determined to move on. We talk about it. Yes. They cry, we cry, but it's so much better after talking, hearing one another's voices. Some of those men have wives and children, don't they?
Yes. And some of these "men" are still babies. One of his roommates is 17 years old. "I'm just a kid, but this kid is REALLY a kid," he tells me and says, "I can't imagine being here at 17." We talk about that for a few minutes. 17 vs. 20.
"Am I writing too much?" I asked him. A resounding NO, I do not write too much. There can not be enough mail, they LOVE the mail. Their drill sargents randomly withheld their mail for 3 days last week, and they all found it devastating. Mail, mail, send mail, love the mail, is the message I get.
And some other stuff about clothes, food, friends, families; we covered a lot of territory, and we got in lots of I love you's. For some reason, I don't think he cried after he hung up.
Bye now; gotta go write a letter.
*I lied. That's not really me. It's Tiara, from www.beavertontrackclub.org. I have absolutely no permission to use this photo, and beg Tiara's forgiveness if she finds her photo here.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
I picked up sticks and mowed. I raked leaves and pine needles out of crannies. I pruned bushes. I spray painted my new mailbox, put shiny new numbers on it and installed it. (Ok, I had help with the installation, I was too weenie to unscrew the bolts from the old one.)
I put the lawn furniture out.
I hacked a path, with a hand saw, between 2 bushes, so that my new hose reel would have a place to rest:
I hoe'd up the patches in the grass, weaseled in the new grass seed, and had a stern talk with the birds, asking them not to eat it.
I seeded a wild flower bed. Ok, it's more of a wild-flower "strip," but I seeded it, and tried to put the peat-chip-moss stuff back where I found it.
And at days' end, with a garage full of yardwaste that has to be dealt with, my yard looks...fine.
That's it. Just...fine. I mean, it hardly looks any different than it did when I started! How can this be? Where is my floral oasis?!!!
This is nothing like those Makeover Home Shows at all! I am an AMERICAN! I want INSTANT GRATIFICATION!! I DEMAND
Basil! Little tiny baby basil that I planted 2 weeks ago! VWAH-hoo! Weet-weet! Houston, we have BASIL!!! Pesto, here we come! Oh boy o boy o boy!!!
I can hardly wait til next Saturday.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Aye, yii, yii, yiiii,
I am dee Frito Bandito.
I love Frito's Corn Chips,
I love dem I do.
I love Frito's Corn Chips,
I take dem from you.
How many of you remember having one of these on the end of your pencil in grade school? Who amongst you will be haunted by this jingle for the next 4 days?
This is the beautiful view out of my window at work. The Frito Lay Distributor. I've worked next to this place for 19 years, and never once have they been neighborly enough to bring us a Frito Care-Package. No holiday baskets. No "hey, just thought you could use a few bags of potato chips for the weekend picnic." Not one lousy chip.
They hoard their chips. Look carefully at the fence. Barbed wire! Is all that necessary?
Yesterday, while I was
e-mailing Wendy working hard at my desk, a panicky voice rang through my window: "ABORT! ABORT!" I stewed on that for a few minutes, thinking at first that it was women's voices I heard, just a few employees having fun in the parking lot on their way home. But the voices were so frantic that I decided I'd best survey the situation, see if there was any blood present, determine that an ambulance didn't need to be summoned.
I peeked out to find: It was raining chips! Bag after bag came flying over the brush, and a little kid on our side of the fence was catching them, gathering up what he could. A second child appeared on the other side of the fence, the chip pitcher.
I'm not sure why I found this so amusing; if it had been my own kid, I would have tanned his lily-white hide. Or at least, grounded him. But it wasn't my kid, so it was funny. I took alternate action: I ran to get my co-worker, Elena. "Psst, 2 lil' kids are robbing Frito Lay. Come see!"
We huddled in the window and witnessed the heist unfold, the kids continuing to yell military commands about aborting the mission and getting back to base.
Elena was just as concerned as I was. She watched for a few minutes then said, "too bad we're too old to do that."
Take a closer look:
They left behind some of their booty! Valuable pork rinds, I think it is!
I imagine myself crawling out the window (I really think I could fit), and grabbing those chips and racing back in. heh heh hehhhhh!
I also imagine helicopters appearing out of nowhere, with SWAT members repelling out of it, screaming at me with bullhorns: "Put the chips on the ground and back away! Back away from the chips!!" Elena, of course, would be inside, screaming "ABORT!" but it would be too late. I'd end up serving time, Frito-framed by two wily little boys.
I guess it's not worth all that.
...I did forget to bring lunch today...
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Hey, this night is bigger than New Year's Eve for me, so you get a report. It was a packed house. The pics above would have been impossible to take on Friday night, so I went back on Saturday to get a few snaps. These shots don't begin to do the place justice. There are 2 floors, a few rooms, and the old bank vault full of jewelry.
We dressed up. This is a fun little city but if you dress to the nines, you're bound to be overdressed no matter where you go. On Artists Against Aids Night, anything goes. No one blinks an eye at stripey tights or evening gowns.
Them dogs are barkin! Mel takes a break after 6 hours in stiletto's.
Ilaiy couldn't be there on opening night, but he showed up Saturday.
I TOLD you Atef swings you around when he sees you! Here's photographic proof.
In attendance also were close friends Diane, Kaye, Kristy, and Dana. And a little hole in my heart, I miss one of my best friends, Becky. It was with her that I first dressed up and painted the town red at this show, so many years ago. She and hubby up and moved to Tucson without my permission. Missed ya girl!
The party aspect of it's all well and good, but of course we were there for a cause. We did leave with art in hand, the purchase of which was win-win for everyone: GCAP made some money, an artist made some money, and we brought home something beauty-ous.
My purchase this year was glass. A clown fish. A vase. I contemplated that glass fish for awhile. I made note of it, checked out the rest of the show and came back to it. I asked Melissa, "yes, but...does it look at all like a bong?" She laughed and assured me it did not.
The staff carefully packed my fish up for me in bubblewrap and stuffed it into a Van's shoebox. Show over, we went hopping on over to Cafe Kopi...
...sauntering past a cafe table where THE John Malkovich happened to be dining. And sauntering back again. And, ever the goober, maybe-just-once-more, how often do we see a celebrity in our space, for heaven's sake?
We headed home somewhere around 1:30, walking past a tableful of good ol' boys from Tennessee, that wanted to know why I was carrying a shoebox. Ever jovial, I was happy to open the box and show off my beautiful purchase:
Our new gentlemen friends were very supportive and enthusiastic:
WHOO HOO! YOU BOUGHT A BONG!!! they yelled, and proceeded to pass my fish around and pretend to smoke out of it.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
This great poster was begifted to me a few years ago, by someone who turned around and did something a kinda mean to me. It's been in a cardboard tube since then, while I insolently refused to hang it....
...but it IS...
...a nice poster. Heavy stock. And I love the image.
So dang, I broke down and took the thing into Michael's Crafts on Sunday afternoon. I told the girl in the custom framing department that I wanted to go cheapest possible route to frame the thing. Just make in hang-able.
A mat? NO!
Glass, she asked me? Glass, or plexiglass, whatever's CHEAP.
I purposefully did not use the word "inexpensive" because "inexpensive" simply sounds more expensive than "cheap," and I wanted CHEAP. Look, I'm not making an investment to frame something an...
So, the clerk at Michael's tallied up the cheap frame and glass, and gives me a grand total: $178.99.
$179.00?!! I made some coughing-snorting-laughing sounds, as I removed their weights from the corners of my poster and rolled it up. Look, she's working for little more than minimum wage, and I KNOW she knows that almost $200 for a poster frame is outrageous. But if that's what they charge, it's what they charge. Thanks for your time.
She caught me. Wait!
"What kind of money were you thinking about?" she asked me.
Ok. I know full well that custom framing is not cheap, but I'll bite. "Fifty bucks."
She messed around with the computer calculator, and quoted me back: "$61.88."
I asked her, "for what?"
For the very same frame and glass that she'd just quoted me $179 on!!!
Get OUT!! I was incredulous, and it took every ounce of my being not to write a number on a piece of paper, slide it face down to the girl, and ask her to go show it to her manager for approval.
All I could think was, "what would have happened here if I'd sprung for the $179?" Would she have ever, in a million years recalculated the cheaper price?
I don't think so. And $61.88 was a hell of a price for a custom frame and glass...but Michael's doesn't get my money.
I'd rather pay more to a vendor that won't try to screw me over.
Like the guy that gave me the poster.