Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tell Me Something I Don't Know

After responding to Wendy's shout out, it appears that I might be included in a blurb in Cookies Magazine. Honestly, I'd never heard of it. It's a parenting magazine. They recently asked for suggestions on how to get your child to talk more, about what's going on in his life.

Having raised all of one entire child, I sent in my tip. Brian and I concocted a game "Tell Me Something I Don't Know." It was a volley-ing game, sometimes rapid-fire until one of had to profess "that's it, I got nothing, you know everything." Some days I'd learn his history teacher's first name. And other days I'd hear something big, a conflict or frustration. And of course, he heard the same from me.

Let's play.

I'll go first.

There are actually one or two of you that know this about me, but most of you have no idea. And in light of the subject being brought up several times at my recent 25th High School class reunion, I've decided to go ahead and tell it.

I grew up a member of the pit crew of a drag racing team. My father's car, my father's "team." A 1937 Fiat with a 427 big block Chevy engine. I was just a rug-rat underfoot at the track every Saturday, trying to keep myself occupied. When I was about 10 years old, I began asking if I could help.

Sure, Dad said. I could be in charge of tire pressure. Filling the tires with air, and more importantly, letting the air OUT of the tires...just so. A drag tire needs a bit of room, it heats up and expands during the pre-race burn-out. And you don't want it hard as a rock; it has to be nice and soft so it can grip the track.

My sister joined in, and Mom took over the truck, and by the time we were 14 & 15 years old, we had ousted all of the men from the crew. I can still recite the firing order of an 8-cylinder chevy engine, with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back.

When I turned 16, my father promptly borrowed a helmet and firejacket, and strapped me in. 5 seatbelts—one over each shoulder, one up each hip, and one between the legs—harnessed in to a circular contraption in the middle of my stomach. It had a quick-release; you just punched it and all the belts fell free. Good for scrambling out of a fire. Aww, I never scrambled out of a fire. And though I warmed the car up on the weekends, I never raced it.

As you may be able to tell, this racing stuff played a major part of defining who I am now:

I don't work on my own car, but I have a clear idea of what all the parts are, what they do, how they go together, and how they should sound.

I have an easy, mechanical understanding of most other things also, and I never, EVER have to recite "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey" before tackling a lightbulb, bolt, or faucet.

Scrutinizing and observing and double-checking water valves and lug nuts and gas lines did, I believe, roll over into making me a somewhat observant person, noticing details in both material objects and people. I take note, easily, and rarely lack things to think about, draw, or write about.

I'm a hardworking, responsible chick, always have been, always will be. When Dad agreed to let us take over, it was with stipulations: We had to be reliable. Girlz don't go out on Friday night if the car isn't ready to hit the track on Saturday morning. No car, no dates! !!!

There were a few crazy Glory Moments, and I'll share one that always made Dad proud to recall.

We once had a string of problems with the transmission, and had to just roll the car back on the trailer for the day. Two weekends in a row, we assisted with the removal of the transmission, only to find, on a third Saturday, something was still wrong.

We pulled back into the pits, and Dad ordered, "Drop it." The announcer got word, and encouraged the spectators to join our area, watch the fun. My sister and I pulled pins, dropped the floor out of the car, lifted the body up and over, and put the chassis up on jacks. We were familiar, by then, with the location of every bolt and the size of the wrenches we needed, and as crowd gathered, Dad sat back and watched us drop the transmission, in a matter of minutes. Not bad for a couple girly girls with ratchets, eh?

Yeah, we knew what we were doing, and received a trophy or two for it. Some semblance of this shot ended up in a magazine somewhere, a pitcrew award at a national meet in Indianapolis.

And when the season was over, we began immediately to tear the car to bits, readying for show-season. A show-car cleaning can take months. Besides removing dirt, and polishing chrome to a mirror shine, every bolt is removed, soaked in solvent, and cleaned out with toothpicks and Q-tips. I am not making that up. The garage was heated, but a concrete floor can chill you to your tailbone when you're sitting or lying on it, polishing the underside of the chassis.

One year we had little time to get the job done right on our own, so I put a shout out to the boys in my high school shop class: Come over. Every night this week. We need help. (Yes. I did get the top score in my shop class.)

The garage was full every night, and with their help, the car was ready to be suspended over a floor of mirrors in 4 days time. Here's a scan from a ratty old pic. Note Teri (my sister), Mom and Dad sitting in the background, probably dying from boredom.

Overall, it was a fantastic way to grow up. It was a lot of hardwork, and pounding sun in hot black uniforms, yes. But it was a fun, family endeavor that allowed us to meet wonderful people, make great friends. We laughed a lot, and in the interim, walked away with a lot of knowledge, lifeskills, experiences and memories.


Your turn.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Vested Interest in Amateur Photography

I have a bit of a dilemma.

I drive and park, anywhere, to head out and play photographer. Assuming I leave my purse at home, I'd still need my keys. An I.D. A few bucks. My cel phone. The second lens. Some caps and covers and filters and memory sticks and card readers. And the manual, of course, to figure out what in the hell I'm doing wrong.

The problem is that I don't want a huge, cumbersome bag bouncing on my hip, and sliding across my buh-zoooms; in my way in general. I want to have my hands free, and to be able to climb here, or crawl there, and not worry about keeping an eye on a bag if I meander around a bit.

A vest! One of those photographer's vests with all of the little pockets!

Aw, c'mon. I'm an amateur photographer. This is a hobby, not a profession.

I'd feel no less ridiculous walking around with a colander and tinfoil antennae on my head.

Still, I checked them out on the 'net. Maybe I could find a pretty little, feminine, inconspicuous vest. Something that says "I'm not really a professional, and I know you know, so shut up." Only with flare.

Unfortunately, most I find there can only be described as "Fugly." Here's the Humvee vest, for him and her:

Gag me. It's simply not going to fly with capris pants and stiletto sandals. I read up some more, and found that some photographers use fishing jackets, or safari jackets.

Safari jackets?! I won't be in the vicinity of a lion taking down a gazelle any time soon, but a safari jacket might be ok for the occasional chattering squirrel. I looked for a more feminine style. Here's one I found on (SHE-FARI; give me a break!)

Uh huh. She looks like she's going to be doing about as much safari'ing as I am. Makeup and hair must be pristine when watching a wildebeest migration across the Serengetti. You GO, girl, and cinch up that flattering drawstring while you're at it, to enhance your hips.

Any jacket that makes a Size 2 model look like a midwestern heiffer, I'm thinkin, is not the garment for me.

There's always this number. Again. I'm not finding it all that flattering. I mean, I tried it on, and look how it looks on me:

Seriously, I look like a little old man in that thing. I know you don't want to mention it, but the handwriting's on the wall. I'm passing on this one; can't you feel the camera lens pounding on your thighs in this one?

Here's one from yet another distributor:

I can save $289 and just bring out my son's former newspaper apron. Here's a shot from the back:

Again. Entirely too pretentious for me. I'd just as well buy this thing, and muck around with a 10-pak of disposable camera's, normally used to set on tables at wedding receptions. It's entirely too much vest for what I'm after.

THIS one, kind of...sexxxxxxxxxxxxxy...Well, for an outdoorsy vesty kind of garment. A leopard-print lining. Whoo-hoo! I'm thinking I might be able to work with this: Wear it inside out, with a denim skirt and some black tights....

Say Cheeeeeeeeeeeeeese, baby.

And No. I haven't bought it yet. I'm still dreamin'.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Market Report & Guest Photographer

My friend Kaye sent me this photo that she took at the farmer's market in Evanston, Illinois last weekend. It wasn't the photo she thought she'd lined up; this guy just popped into it to surprise her. I think he really enhances the eggplants, though, and that she should consider framing this one.

I did go to the market yesterday, but not so much for the vegetables as an opportunity to play with the new camera. I took hundred of shots, and came home with this knowledge clear in my mind: I really DO need to read the manual. I need to read up on how to preset and fine-tune my white balance. Whatever that is.

I was still struck by the vast abundance of the harvest this week. For some reason, I keep expecting the supply of vegetables that were blooming weeks earlier to wane, but it seems like they're only growing like wildfire. There was no displaying these peppers in bushel baskets, for instance:

Every booth seemed be thriving, and in no hopes of selling out yesterday morning.

I toyed around for an hour or so, grabbed up a few bunches of basil, and moved on to playing with the camera elsewhere. I took a walk through Urbana's Old Town again, taking note, mostly of the porches.

Most of the houses have them, and amazingly enough, the majority of them were occupied. Folks sat leisurely in their shady spaces, sipping coffee and reading the paper. The neighborhood is so peaceful and enveloping, compared to the more industrial and sterile section of town that I live in. I fantasize about selling my house and moving into my own cozy, shady, bungalow in Urbana. Alas, nary a "for sale" sign within blocks.

I won't bore you with hundreds of photos, but here are 2 that I liked, at morning's end.

Peace out, friends. Don't forget to eat your vegetables.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Girls Night Out: New Blog

Every couple of weeks or so, one of The Girls sends out an APB: We need to go out after work. Just one! We have a lot to do tonight, but let's catch up over A beverage. One little beverage. Maybe a pizza.

The first 20 minutes of the meeting is reserved for spewing. Purging all of the stress of employers, kids, ex husbands, in-laws, pets, and ovaries. Sometimes we have to take a few extra minutes, but the bitchin's usually over early, and we get down to deep, philosophical, educational conversation:

  • Our bra sizes. They vary.
  • Hair removal. Nair smells like a perm.
  • Who is the most high maintenance among us: Melissa. She's stopped ironing her underwear and sheets though. That's progress.
  • Who has OCD and the worst germ-o-phobia: Marcy.
  • Least maintenance: Georgianna and I both fessed up to drying our hair by holding our heads out the car window on the way to work.
We squawk like a bunch o 'hens about everything under the sun: boys, cooking, handbags & shoes, kids, relationships, in-laws, stress incontinence, vacations, dogs, cats, planes, trains, and automobiles.

We don't just talk either. We had false-eyelash night early this spring. I got glue in my eye and couldn't wear my contacts for 2 weeks, but it was worth it.

We sing (see pic above).

We have compared the scent of one another's deodorant. No, we didn't bring it with us. We did pure scientific olfactory experiments. Mike won Best Smelling Pits of the Year.

Mostly we laugh a lot, take a lot of pictures, make a few movies. All over "just one" beer, can you believe it? (By the way, I've got some ocean front property...)

Alas, all of the fun photos and videos have been going to waste, hanging out unseen on my laptop. We have, hence, begun a blog dedicated to our Girls Night's Out. Check it out if you'd like.

And note, ladies, that we encourage you to join us with photos or stories, or any other hilarity from your own Girls Night's out. Our email addresses are listed on the side.

We really hope to hear from you!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Bean There, Done That

Heyyyy...Who said Illinois landscape is boring? In the right places, you can drive for miles and see nothing but the scene above, interrupted by the occasional farm house. It drives tourists—that is, anyone not from the midwest—absolutely nuts. It even drives the locals a bit batty. People hate it.

Ya'll just need an attitude adjustment!

Look, here's what you have to do, to properly appreciate the local corn 'n bean scene:

Wait until the cicada's are singing. Until they deafen you. Oh, and until the grasshoppers are flying.

Wait until dusk falls, and the air begins to cool, after a hot day.

Let down your hair; no pony tails or ball caps.

Turn off the A/C, and roll down all the windows in the car.

Head ye out into the country. It's not difficult to find.

Floor it.

Whip up the wind.

Smell sun-hot corn cooling on the stalk.

Listen to the cicadas, crickets, grasshoppers, and tree frogs.

Now sing.

Sing louder! Belt it out! Scream! Sing it alone, or sing it with your friends, or sing it with your kids! Make up the words!

Sing til you're done.

I'm telling you: When word of this gets out, bean field tourism is going to go straight thru the roof.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Nikons 'n such

Ohhh boy...New toy! I raced home, then back out, for 2 hours playing with the camera in a point-n-shoot, never-read-the-manual sort of way. Here's the best of what I came home with.

Time to go read...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Julia Birthday Project

For my part in the Julia Child Project initiated by Lisa at Champaign-Taste, I fixed Turkey Orloff, from the cookbook, Julia Child & Company.

That's Julia's on the left, and mine on the right. I think I came pretty close to getting it right. I chose this particular recipe for these reasons: (1) I already had most of the ingredients at home, and (2) it wasn't as work-intensive as many of her dishes. I didn't have to slaughter a lamb, fillet a whale, or roll out a crust.

The recipe in it's entirety can be found on my cooking Blog. It's long and windy there, but I can summarize it for you quickly: It's a casserole with onions, rice, turkey, mushrooms and cheese.

Brian's friend, John, is "renting" Brian's room for a few weeks until his apartment opened up. I've struck a deal with him: Skip the rent and be my slave: Help me shampoo carpets. AND drop back in and be my Julia guinea pig. Here's John's review:

Aw, he was just being polite. Honestly, neither one of us flipped over this dish. It was a little bland—no garlic! No pepper! Barely a spice! In addition, it was nauseatingly oily. Every layer but the cheese was cooked in butter, and it was more than I could handle, mentally. I do think I could take the base recipe, spice it up a bit, and create an "Orloff Lite" that would be more to my liking.

One observation I had while following this recipe is that Julia's instructions are VERY thorough. I'm not sure if that makes the dish easier or more cumbersome and intimidating. The onion chopping instructions alone consist of about 50 words.

Mine would have read: "Chop the onions." Maybe I'd throw an extra word, like "finely." Julia, however, gives standard and metric measurements for the size of the chopped onion...AND she even instructs the reader to peel the onion.

I had a blast playing along, and I DID learn some things:

I didn't know there was juice in a mushroom, but if you scoop up a handful of diced/chopped mushrooms and squeeze, it pours out, red. Mushroom blood! I will definitely incorporate that little trick in the next spinach & mushroom lasagna I make, to keep it from becoming watery.

And I'm less intimidated of roux now; flour and butter dishes (aka, gravy) have never been my strong point; gravy is assigned to my sister each Thanksgiving. I'm sure she'll print this out next November, highlight the line where I admit I really can do it, and hand me a spoon.

So, Happy Heavenly Birthday, and thanks to you, Lisa, for the challenge.
What's next?!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Market Report & Silver Linings Part Deux

Ok, I didn't really go to the market this week. I was out reunion-izing and pub crawling until 2:30 the night before. Quite honestly, I couldn't think of a single vegetable I just *had* to have when I woke up Saturday morning.

Clearly, the reunion was fun, and I didn't just go home. It was nice to catch up with familiar and unfamiliar faces. Photos will be posted on a website later, and I'll give you the secret password when they come in. Heh heh hehhhhhh.

Last night's event was also pleasant, but a bit more low key, despite a DJ blasting rap music at decibles making conversation almost impossible. I cut out early, and went downtown for a cup of coffee.

That's what today's report is actually about.

Back to Silver Linings

First of all, the pic above. I found these gerber daisies on a windowsill in an alley, brightening up all of the junk set outside for pick up. It's in a rather populated thoroughfare connecting one block of bars to another, and I loved that no one bothered them.

And more importantly, I ran downtown to check on our friend, mentioned in last Sunday's dark little post.

Yay, yay, he was there, having tea. I joined his table, and told him I was glad he'd returned. That we'd worried about him. That *everyone* was upset at his departure last week.

He already knew.

I wasn't the first to approach him. He told me that he'd spoken with the owner, and apologized for his own outburst. The clerks inside had apologized to him for any misunderstandings, and others that had witnessed or heard of the event stopped him to give him their support, and their horror at the behavior of the people that treated him so poorly.

When I got up to leave last night, our friend got up and hugged the stuffing out of me. He thanked me for supporting him.

Last Sunday morning I awoke feeling like I had a weight on my chest. This morning I awake feeling re-newed. People rallied. People bothered. As Wendy's mentioned to me before, "Goodness reigns."

And, I'd like to leave a message to the guy with the laptop:
Thank you. Without your deplorable behavior, our friend might not know how many people actually care about him. Maybe evil was a blessing in disguise here. So, thanks.

Oh. Also, before I forget: Go screw yourself.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A minute to Catch Up...

Once again, life is moving past me faster than Blogspeed. You wouldn't believe the half-finished entries I've marked "Save as Draft." Time to purge, and in the meantime, give you a few highlights. Catch you up.

Tonight and tomorrow night is my 25th High School Reunion. 400-ish people in my graduating class, and they're having a pub-crawl in Urbana tonight. Of course, so many won't show up, but I still found the revolving reunion idea an odd one. It's not like we're trying to keep 10 or 12 people together. I predict people lingering, getting into town late, trying to figure out where the party is, and missing one another entirely. Kind of defeats the purpose.

When I voiced that to my friend, (Class of 82) Tim, he said, "why didn't you get on the committee, then?" Because. I don't want to BE on the committee, I just want to CRITICIZE the committee, OK?

Well, at any rate I'm looking forward to it. Hey, if it sucks, I can always go home.

After conferring with Janet, I have created a Smug Mug mug. I don't guess I have anything to hide: If you're interested in checking out my photography, some of which I would categorize as actual photography, and others as mere "snapshots", then head to

At the moment, it's mostly Brian's graduation pix, but there will be more to come.

I have a temporary roommate. One of Brian's friends, John, is staying in Brian's room for few weeks until his apartment opens up. I'm adjusting well to his presence. The CAT, however, is NOT taking kindly to this boy. This boy that is not HER boy, living in HER house. She is determined to send him on his merry way, "voicing" it primarily by going on a litterbox strike.

Yes, she's peeing in Brian's room. On John's stuff. In the hallway. I am wit's end; she has never pulled anything like this before. I am always so proud when people come into my house and announce, "oh your house smells so good!" Yes, it smells of asian spice, and cooking stuff. NOT cat pee! Really. I am going crazy, with the buckets of hot soapy water, and vinegar, and sundry products from the petstore, every night after work.

I will not be entertaining guests until after John leaves.

I am buying a camera this weekend, one I've wanted for quite some time. It's a pricey little thing, and I'm half-nauseated at the prospect of dropping the dough. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure I won't want for another thing, ever, after I have it in my grubby little hands. [Stop laughing, Evelyn.]

I've been sketching again. It seems like that last year was one with deadlines, and something happening or something pending. Something, that is, that served as an excuse for me to sideline the artwork. As of now (besides cleaning carpets) I have nothing pending in my life. I come home at 4:00, and think "what to do til midnight?" I'm not one for sitting around, and can keep myself quite busy. I'm making time to create. I find that no matter how much I do in a day, I have no sense of accomplishment unless I put a bit of energy into a drawing, a photo, or a painting. I'm hoping to expand on this more, as promised...last January.


That's all I have for today. Have yourselves a merry little weekend!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Zip Code Look Up

I often use the USPS Zip Code Lookup tool online, and I always find this amusing.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


...of laughter.

I implore you to check out Momo's blog. Don't be too scared of her disclaimer's; if you make it to the end, your side will be splitting.

Your welcome.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Times' Up!

One Year of Blogging. Please hold your applause, I'll try to keep it short.

I quick-scrolled through the last year, when trying to decide if I was going to acknowledge the day or not. Just what in the heck all have I rambled on about in a year?

A lot, after all. I see I was a little shy at first, or maybe I just remember hitting "Publish Post" and cringing, waiting to find out what your response would be.

It's been warm, and you've been encouraging, and you've gained my trust.

Laced throughout random yammerings, you have, in the last year, walked with me through a few conflicts with my son, and held my hand when it was time for me to stand back and let go; let him make a decision that I wouldn't have made for him. You said goodbye to him, with me, held my hand while I waited for letters from him, and welcomed him back home just as warmly.

Many of you are reading, that don't comment. Some of you e-mail instead. Some stop me on the street and give me words of support. Some prefer to remain anonymous, and that's all right too. I appreciate you all.

There are those that wonder about these friendships we establish here. Let them laugh. I really can't mentally rewind the last year, and imagine it without this outlet, and without your support. I suppose that I might have survived without you. But I would have had to do it without literally HUNDREDS of your comments and emails. Some were even brave enough to send me phone numbers, and offered to take my call at any hour.

I haven't yet. I don't want to impose. But be forewarned: I still have them.

The last twelve months were nicer because you were in it. I look forward, of course, to dragging you through the next, and sharing yours.

Thank you.


I almost forgot.

These are for you.

Calling All Cooks

Cooking Games! I'm in!

Lisa over at Champaign Taste has thrown down the gauntlet: Next Tuesday is Julia Child's birthday. She's suggesting that we choose one of Julia's recipe's, cook it up, blog about it before Tuesday, give her a shout-out, and then she'll link the results to us.

Well, she wrote it better, head over there and check out the details.

This may not sound like that much fun to some of you, but I know there are a few cook-y lurkers. If you don't have a blog (:cough: Melissa) but want to play, she's made provisions for that too. Or you can send me your photos, and post vicariously through me.

Come 'n get it!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sunday with Mama: Picking up the Tab

Ok, fine. Some nice things DID happen yesterday, I can't deny it. I'll stop pouting and share them. Thanks for cheering me up, youse guys.

As every Sunday, I took Mom to the her favorite Mexican restaurant. I've taken to teasing her by telling people that we go there because she loves the Tequila. They always know better and chide me for saying it. Still, it's funny every time.

While we were gobbling down chips and salsa, I noticed that one of my father's best friends, Charlie, and his wife, Marcia had just been seated. We ran over and gave them big hugs, and caught up for about 10 minutes. During the catching up, Charlie regaled us with a story about my Dad, that had us laughing our heads off.

My father was a mechanic, keeping a fleet of UPS trucks in order for 26 years. Charlie was also a mechanic, working for others, and then later, for himself in his own shop. Our story takes place in 1971.

Charlie was driving a tow truck for a place called Twin City Radiator. It was sort of a city garage + Ambulance dispatch.
There had been an accident at University and Wright (for you townies) and Charlie drove the one block down the street to clean up the wreckage. One of his coworkers, Steve, NOT on duty, and apparently drunk as a skunk, sidled up and, generally, got in everyone's way. Charlie finally growled at him to go on down to the station and sober up before he got himself arrested.

Steve, unhappy to be talked to in such a manner, skulked off, and down to Twin City Radiator, where my Father happened to be waiting for a part. Steve marched in, still belligerent and yelled at my dad: "When Charlie gets down here, I'm going to kick his ass! And you'd better stay out of it, Fat Ass!"

A few minute later Charlie walked in, and Steve, true to his promise, went to kick Charlie's ass. He swung and missed, and it took a sober Charlie just a few seconds to put him down on the floor. As Charlie tells it, he was sitting on top of a face-down Steve, who had by then covered his head with his arms, and was screaming to my dad, "Lee! Lee, help me!! Lee!" My father walked over, got down on the floor, looked between Steve's arms into his eyes, and said:

"Hi. My name is Fat Ass, and I'm supposed to stay out of this."

Well, we howled over Charlie's story, then went back to our table for lunch.

My mother misses them. She misses my father. She loved hearing warm stories and laughing at her husband, again. While we were eating, she told me, "I want to buy their dinner."

Who am I to deny my Mother this fun? We called Ruben-the-waiter over, nabbed Charlie and Marcia's tab from him, and hurriedly packed up our leftovers. We told them we loved them on the way out, giggling and feeling like sneaky little thieves, trying to leave before they should ask for their check, please.

Once freed we ran to our car, giddy and laughing, and wishing we could at least see their faces when they found out they got free lunch.

Being in cahoots with my Mother.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

On Silver Linings...

The market report is postponed cuz something's in my craw, and Craw gets First Blog Priority.

I can usually find a silver lining in any cloud, but yesterday presented a few situations in which I had to toss up my hands.

First, I have an update on Ilaiy's fish. Ilaiy used my home as the return address when he left, since he was no longer at his return address. I received, in the mail yesterday, a letter stating
"an empty wrapper with your address was found in the mail and is believed to have been separated from your parcel..."
Separated from the parcel?!!! It was still attached to the paper it was originally glued to! It was still attached to the duct tape that had secured the paper to the package. It was not "separated from the parcel", it was CUT OFF THE PARCEL WITH A RAZOR!

The implications of this made me sick. I have so much to spew that I don't dare begin. Momo and Mike and I are helping Ilaiy with proper correspondence.



Momo and Mike and I cooked up an easy meal at my house last night, before we hit The Coffee Shop.

There are a number of "regulars" at the coffee shop, and we've come to know, at least, the weekend faces. Some we still do not know their names, but we will. These things take time. I'll remind you that this is an outdoor cafe, in the midst of an interesting downtown, where we can talk, people watch, and place faux $5 wagers on whether the parallel parkers are going to hit the car behind them or not.

One of "ours" came across a bit of conflict last night, leaving me feeling numb. I try to protect his identity, and his situation, so for the sake of the story, I'll tell you only that he is deaf. It has taken me, literally, YEARS of saying hello to get to know him.

I think it takes a certain amount of trust building and baby-steps to build a friendship, when you're vulnerable to lip reading and a hearing aid. He's a cautious one, I've figured out. And over the years, I've witnessed his reasons. He is walked over a bit. And he has to stand up for himself, and in the interim, decide which battles to fight. I did, before I met him officially, watch him stand his ground a few times, and thought "good for you!"

And it's only been in the last year that we've opened up to one another, and I know also, that he lets it slide more than he stands his ground.

That said, I still do not know his last name. It is a "downtown" friendship. Still in the works.

Saturday night, he suddenly fled from his table, extremely distraught, to talk to me.

The guy at the next table, had, to amuse still the next table over, typed up a horrible insult in large letters on his laptop, and handed it over for "ours" to read.

My friend, asked me, "is this true? of me?"

I was shocked. No. NO.

He said only, "they cannot make me leave," and he went inside for tea, only to encounter one of the woman at the next table whooping it up over him.

And he can read lips.

And we watched, with sinking stomachs, his encounter with her, and her running out and packing up and taking off.

And laughing.

I'm still sickened. While Momo moved his belongings from his table to ours (and, thus away from the guy with the laptop) I caught him a few minutes later, and told him "Rise above them. They're despicable."

He told me "I'm never coming back here," and he left.

And I can still feel the bile rising in my throat.

Silver Lining? There IS no silver lining here. Silver Linings, I can still usually find even in bad behavior. I can step outside, and recognize bad days and chaotic relationships, and that bad behavior is a reflection of what's going on with the behavioree. I can forgive bad behavior. Even when it exhausts me, I can forgive it.

But mean-spirit.

A mean spirit found me waking up this morning feeling like I'd been punched in the stomach. I carry it with me for a day. I wear it with me. I cannot think of writing a cheerful market report when this is hanging over my morning.

And it's not even about me. It didn't even happen to me. If I feel this awful, how must "ours" feel, waking up this morning?

And, a rare event occurs: I'm not going to look for a silver lining.

To do so would be insulting.

Photo credit: Dept. Atmospheric Sciences, UIUC

Friday, August 04, 2006

A Few Highlights

I'm mortified to realize how long it's been since I've updated my favorite bloggers list on the side. I'm reading a lot more than have been listed. I took time this morning to update my template and I'm going to highlight them here.

Afraid to Blink. Dick's dishing up some phenomenal photography, every day I gasp. I do. I say "Oh!" Get you over there to "ooo" and "ahhhh" your ownself.

Barry's Baghdad Blog. Barry's fun, and he's doing something amazing right now: training Iraqi police officers. Read! You won't be disappointed.

I'm About to Be Brilliant: Jag, in Tennessee. It's good in her 'hood, she says. Always something interesting, and often touching. Love this one.

BlogPourri: The adventures of Nancy, the SAHM. 4-year-old twins she has; the stories are hilarious, and the photos even better. Scroll down and check out blue hands.

Crock Head Abroad: A local blog (if you live here, that is). A former Amish boy, who posts now and again. The "Ask Aunt Tillie" pieces are worth waiting for. The last question asked was "Do Amish Cuss?" Here's an excerpt from Aunt Tillie's answer:
Even the Son of God would have said "Son of a $%#&! if his hammer had hit his thumb instead of the nail.
Go there. Bug him to write more. He loves pressure.

Hello? Is This Thing On?
Tai can balance a sword on her head, and there are skunks, and laryngitis, and stalkers in this blog. She has something for everyone!

Little Blog on the Prairie: Another local blog, and my source for News I Can Use: What's going on in this town. Jupiter and Papa Dels are coming Village Crossing. I can hardly wait!

Mary Poppins Has Left the Building: Mary's a hip Puerto Rican chica, with hilarious and touching stories about her daughter, her parents, her friends. Mary keeps it real, doesn't pull any punches, and her dad is going to crack you up!

: Can't believe I didn't have Dogbait listed; I've been reading and occasionally corresponding with this funny Australian meter reader for quite some time. Always some good pictures, of scenery, and nice dogs and bad dogs, and sometimes, peacocks. The commentary's pretty amusing too.

Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?
Laurie is one fun blogger, writing about food, and spilling other miscellanea from her brain as she see's fit. She does a series called Hallsnark cards. Here's one:
Happy Anniversary to my Soon-to-Be-Ex-Husband and his Gold Digger Mistress
Bank Austria Cayman Islands
Account Number 17*32****89***7
Now, who’s the stupid bitch?
Go visit her for more.

I've Got a Few Things to Say
: Penny has been crackin my shit up with her daily wedding plans. She has everything down to a T...except for the man. You have to read her!

Spider Girl
. She's a belly dancer, boys, take a peek. She's also a gardener, a seamstress, and a very fun story teller. She and Tai are friends from childhood too, you'll read about them both on each other's blogs.

Paradise Driver
: Another one I can't believe I haven't linked to, shame on me! Wil's a retired cop, and now cab driver in Mau'i. You'll get great stories, fun pix of his customers, and always gorgeous pix of the Island. He doesn't know it yet, but if I ever go to Mau'i, I'm making him cook dinner. For me, I mean.

Twisted DNA: A very clever blogger, this one, and his plumbing techniques seem to mirror mine. His profile says he is both Indian and American, which gives him "license to mock either culture."

There they are. You are all going to kill me when you find out I've been keeping these good reads all to myself.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

HNT: The Devil Made Me Do It

(Subtitle: How to Remove a Drunk from Your Table)

Despite the heat, I mucked out Saturday night to meet my "buds" at our favorite coffee shop. 8 p.m., and it was sweltering, but they are worth it. We sat around sweating in plastic chairs, and then decided to cross the street to The Esquire, where we could sweat in plastic chairs AND grab a burger.

While we were bantering and waiting for our food, a man inside tapped on the window. He pointed to each of us, and cheered when we waved. We imagined a drunken monetary wager: "I'll bet I can get each of those people to wave at me" Wave, wave, hi, you're fun.

A few minutes later, a tick-ticking on the window alerted us to the fact that he was throwing peanuts at us. Automatons, we turned to find him mooning us. We're a fun crowd, we laughed heartily.

The manager of The Esquire strolled out a few minutes later, and we tattled: "we saw his butt." Not like it was a bad thing, but still. Tattly.

A few minutes later, we heard further window hub-bub, and looked up to see our drunken friend inside, covering the window with mustard. We also saw the manager standing directly behind him.

Ruh-Roh Raggy. Dat boyz' comin' out 'cheah 'nex.

He did. He and his party began to settle at the table next to ours. Our peaceful little table.
What to do? "What can one say," I thought, "to be rid of a drunk?"

Drunk boy sat near me, and Momo immediately motioned me over: "Lori, move over. Sit here. Get over here."

I did as Momo instructed.

Still. We needed to be rid of this guy. What would chase him away?

"What's your name, dude?" I asked him.

"Jim" I am told, by he and his friends.

"Jim."... I asked him, "Jim. I need to ask you something, Jim."

Jim was attentive.

"JIM," I said.


It would have been a perfect moment to slap him in the forehead, but I couldn't reach him, after Momo moved me.

Score! Jim The Drunk was completely taken aback, and sat speechless long enough for his friends and mine to fall into uproarious laughter.

Jim's friends all high-5'd me, and told me I was the funniest woman they'd ever met. What's not fun about THAT?

Well, here's what Jim had to say about it, as he moved on to his next station:


I'm sure the next establishment appreciated him more than we did.

Moral of the Story: To get rid of a Drunk, Witness to Him.

Thank 'yuh; thankyuhveramuch.

*Note to Amishlaw: I told you. I'm banking on His sense of humor.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

On Living Alone...

I worked a little late tonight. Picked up a few groceries on the way home. Unloaded them, and worked in the kitchen a bit, preparing veggies for future dishes. I put on headphones, folded some clothes, scrubbed two bathrooms down, including washing floors on hands and knees, with a scrub brush. I vacuumed the place, took the garbage to the dumpster down the street, and, around 8:00, decided to tend to dinner.

I have a beautiful, giant, hot pink tomato here, begifted from my friend Mark, out of his garden. Oh, and fresh basil. What to do....

I set linguine to boil, and threw a little garlic into olive oil, to saute. Added some shrimp. At the last minute, I tossed in the chopped tomato, the fresh basil, a little black pepper, and a handful of parmesan cheese. mmmmmm

Pasta ready, I used my handy-dandy pasta pan, with the lid with the strainer-drainer holes in it, and poured the hot water into the sink.

Lost my grip, and dumped all of the fettucine right into the sink and drain along with the water.

The sink. The sink that I'd earlier dumped my mop-water into...


I SWEAR, if I'd been cooking for YOU, I would tossed the linguine and started all over.