Friday, August 31, 2007
Since then, three more miners have died scrambling to dig out their fellow workers when the earth moved again, while working in teams going in 24 hour shifts, 7 days a week in the 27 days since the disaster.
They drill down holes, seven in all now, to where the tunnels are, trying to find signs of life. The minor earthquake, thought to have caused the tunnel roof to stay firm, but, blew out the sides. Coal flew out like missiles It was hoped the miners sought refuge in an eating area, although the hole drilled there showed nothing but rubble when the microphone and then the robotic camera was lowered in. I have to wonder why, in this day and age, miners are still working in fairly un-electronic conditions. Why not have some form of location chip, or small GPS?
They stopped doing horizontal drilling since the collapse of the tunnel that killed the other three miners.
I don't know how much coverage this is getting outside of Utah. It covers our front pages, and is the opening story every night on our news.
Today, they announced this bore hole is the last one. If there is no sound, no signs, they are stopping the rescue effort. No one says it, but, it actually became a search for bodies a bit ago. The miners families gather every day, and wait. You do that in mining towns, when you hear there is a collapse, an explosion.... you gather, and you wait.
Sometimes, you get lucky, and they find everyone, and church bells ring and they come out alive...all of them, some of them, but, life leaves the mine. Sometimes, they die down there in the complete blackness. I simply can't fathom that life or death.
I cannot fathom a miners life. Neither as a miner nor as being a miner's wife or child. To enter that cold, wet, absence of light deep under the weight of a mountain is so foreign to me, my mind moves away from the thought. There is a tunnel in Colorado that takes you under the Continental Divide, the Eisenhower Tunnel. I knew people who worked digging through the mountain, when it was called the Straight Creek Tunnel project. Even in the summer, they came out cold..not just cold, but, cold to the bone. A friend said there was a mind set you had to have, to not think about what was above you.
When I drive through that tunnel, on my way to or from Denver, I close my thoughts to the 14,000 ft of solid rock above me, and I go a wee bit faster than the 45mph limit. When I read The Stand, I remember that being one of the most horrifying parts for me, the travel made walking through that section of I-70, over cars, dead black, mountain above you... I'm not sure I'd have come out sane.
These communities are close knit, hard working, and go down into those shafts every day. And, you can be sure, while doing their work, raising their kids, a little part of the families above ground listens for the mine whistle.
Kerry Allred, Don Erickson, Luis Hernandez, Carlos Payan, Brandon Phillips and Manuel Sanchez.
If you pray, remember them and their families. All miners... who would tell of a life in words we've never seen.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Not that I give a rats patoot, I'll stay a street cart person....but, a friend, Miss Bee, broke a good part of who is and isn't involved for Fishbowl, and the Almighty New York Magazine picked up the piece, using it as a good part of their source for outing the mystery writer.
I have assurances she'll pronounce my name properly when she receives her Pulitzer.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Mine weren't huge. In my neighborhood, we spent one August trying to make our skin flick in the same manner a horse's skin does, in order to dislodge a fly. I was patient, I studied the way they'd isolate a muscle...then, flick.
I never managed this feat. None of us did, in spite of hours sitting quietly as some yogi in India, trying to reach a transcendental state. Our parents were thrilled that year. No screaming hordes of "WE'RE BORRRRRRRRRRRED!!!" Danny B came close, but, then, he could turn his eyelids inside out, so, none of us were surprised that he almost accomplished the skin flick thing.
I wanted to operate the elevator at Maison Blanche on Canal Street. The little uniform, the cap, the stool in the corner by the buttons. The polite voice, "Second Floor, Ladies Wear, Dresses. Third Floor, Men's Suits. Fourth Floor, Housewares". She was the Miss Sof of Maison Blanche. To this day, when I push a button on an elevator, I do the voice in my head.
At one point, I wanted to name streets in a subdivision. To have the power of deciding where people would live...where their mail would be delivered. What they would tell their friends and relatives. "Why, yes, we just bought a home over on Risarium Road." "I live down at the end of Lonely Street".
I wanted to be a world class ice skater. We lived in New Orleans. 'Nuff said.
I wanted to be an astronomer, an archaeologist, a secretary...so I could wear white gloves to work and learn shorthand, a librarian, a book store owner, a pet store owner (until the demise of Blackie) a writer, a nurse..except for the whole shot thing...a teacher, anything but a mom. I knew I'd suck at that one.
Everyone else had baby dolls. Mine never left their cases. Except for Tiny Tears... and that was because you could feed her water, squeeze her and she'd pee and cry tears. There was another version you fed and she'd poo....they recalled it after it was found eventually nasty bacteria formed in the bowels of the doll. Shame, usually you had to pretty much jump on the doll to get anything to come out, teaching us to be prime A mothers of the year in the future.
I wanted to be left alone for the most part. Forced to go to birthday parties, I discovered I could drop off the gift, grab an ice cream cup and a book and hide in either a back bedroom or jump the fence (no mean feat in a dress with a petticoat) and be content there until I heard the parents gathering.
I wanted to know why clouds built up the way they did and why some people recovered from heart attacks and others didn't and why was Donna a grownup but acted like a baby. Why could we play with some kids and not with others? I wanted to run behind the DDT trucks to keep the mosquitoes off. (yeah, the sense of that decision I really question these days)
I wanted to know why did my MawMaw stop us from cutting the bubblegum that was holding those two dogs that were stuck together back to back? They were uncomfortable....we could tell when we tried to pull them apart and they howled, and we could SEE the bubblegum holding their butts together, so, I got the knife to cut it out. She shoo'd us off and turned the hose on them, and it must have loosened the bubblegum because they ran off.
I wanted to wake up and have every day a new adventure. That much I did get. I still do.
Still, my greatest failure was never learning the muscle twitch trick. Ah, well, they can't type on a laptop, so, I guess that evens us out in the end.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
And I've another day to go, with enough made so far to pretty much furnish the new place with a new sofa, dishes, the basics....
Booya garage sales.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
It is beyond amazing the amount of things we have in place, with little price tags on them, awaiting a public that will take a look at a mandolin and announce, "I have no idea what that is, Margaret, but, I simply must have it, damn the cost!"
I'm done to one small storage shed, that holds my bed, the amazing mattress that fits on said bed, my china, a few family antiques, my grandmother's bed, and a couple of other odds and ends.
Not too bad for a weeks worth of dragging things about, dusting, polishing and putting on price tags.
Now, all it takes is the crowds to rush to our Garage Sale to end all Garage Sales.
And for me to find my reading glasses which are somewhere among the hot items piled in baskets.
While you are waiting to hear the results, feel free to have a gander at my latest, and last, contribution to Six Sentences that will run tomorow*. Feel free to leave a comment there, if you'd like. I'd appreciate the feedback.
I'm off to bed.... 5AM comes very early and there are all those balloons to hang.
*it helps if I look at the calendar once in awhile before I post when it's going to run. There's a six sentence today, it's just not mine.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
And the big event occurred on TheSlumlord's birthday....August 18th.
I'm slipping in my duties.
TheSlumlord is the eldest of the brood....he turned 31 this year, physically. He's my stalwart leader of the clan. Steady, looking out for his siblings, making sure everyone is where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there.
His sense of humour is legendary....why? Because it's , well, not the greatest in the world. He tries, lord love him, but, he just can't tell a joke. He's the classic nerd, only he's handsome and sweet and kind and he simply can't tell a joke.
We love him anyway.
His main desire in life is to settle down and have a family. Until then, he makes sure Miss H has a home to live in, that TheInvestment had a flight to his job interview, that I'm not left stranded in Newark, that TheJarhead gets regular letters, and that HRH remains his own sweet sister.
When she was two, a neighbor heard him singing as he pushed her in the swing outside....a song about how much he loved her and that she was the light of his life.
He was 14.
That says quite a bit.
His stepfather treated him like shit... and the neatest thing he did was die on TheSlumlord's birthday three years ago.
The neatest thing he's done for me was when he started to call me mom when he was 12, on his own, just out of the blue. He can't walk by me without hugging me or giving me a kiss. He stepped up and took on the role of being responsible for what needed to be done for people.
He's a gem.
He introduced me to the film Pi, he gives me great books to read, he worked at a hospice when he was in high school, he has a huge heart and a warm smile and he's, well, he's our Z. Yes, he was a putz at times, but, he always learns from his mistakes, and best of all, he adores his siblings and his new niece. He worries and works hard and loves his stupid cats. He drives too fast and still has bad taste in dressing. He's a loyal friend and has a black belt and loves to visit China.
I know he won't let them put me on the city tour bus when I'm old... or if they do, he'll make sure I'm in the seat inside.
It's a belated post, Z, but, you had me singing to you on your day. You're my son born in my heart, a better gift has never been given to me.
I love you.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
This is for you, Anonymous Poster... most journals online have one that attaches themselves to said journal, thinking themselves to be....clever. Some actually are, and their comments are welcome.
This is for you, Anonymous Poster...who has nothing else to do but disrupt other people's enjoyment of a journal or the comments posted to said journal.
Let me make it clear, I don't have nearly as much of a problem with Circumcellions as I do with Circumcellions who don't have enough courage of their convictions to lay claim to their opinions.
Since you are taking this down a very personal road, and since I don't think anyone should be subjected to your text vomit, I'm going to have to do something I really don't want to do... approve comments before they are posted.
It's a shame your momma didn't teach you better manners.
I apologise to all who do comment here, and now have to deal with the delay in seeing said comments... I'm pretty on top of my emails, so, will have them up as they show.
I also apologise that someone has this big of a crush on me. It's kind of flattering in a creepy way.
Friday, August 17, 2007
"Hey, Quin, what do you have in those storage sheds?"
Realising he would continue the question until I caved in, I responded. "Ummm, which one?"
"Which one? You have more than one?" He's not looked this surprised since he found out one of his shows was going to be built on platforms two feet off the ground.
"Well, there's the storage shed at the house, and then all the stuff in the garage I couldn't fit into the storage shed I rented...and I also have the one with Dad's stuff in it that I've never made myself go through."
"You. Have. Four. Storage. Sheds?"
"No, I have three. And the garage. Are we going out for lunch? I thought Sisterwife mentioned food."
This became Mr. Neebes goal, to move me out of my little Utah home and back to New York. He's arranged for a realtor, a landscaper is showing up on Monday and.....
.....he opened the storage sheds.
It was kinda cute the way his face went all white so that his freckles stood out like that.
You see, my name is Quin, and I am a bona fide pack rat. Yes, even though I organise people's lives, even though my closet is arranged in colour order, even though I have OCD, I can't seem to get rid of things.
He can't figure out why I need three rocking chairs. I tried to explain, one was my great-grandmother's, one I rocked all my children in, and one... well, um... well... it's so beautifully made, it rocks by itself when you push it...so, I need to keep it, don't I?
We won't discuss the 'discussions' we had over lamps. And the fact I think I need three large mirrors. After all, one came from a whore house in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Not that I knew any of the whores, but, I love the history of the thing.
He's ripped things out of my hands, ruthlessly throwing them into the truck. My cherry bedroom set... gone. My sweet curio cabinet....gone. (He doesn't know I hit the shi..stuff that went in it) The sofa, my Morgan-Stuart sofa.. gone. "You simply don't need this stuff. Why pay to ship everyday china when you can buy it cheaper than the shipping rate?"
I hate when he's right.
I'm losing antiques I've lugged through four homes and three states, things that have never seen the light of day. BUT, one day... I may need them.
Of course, it's not as bad as my father, who taught me everything I know about packratting. We moved three large dish barrels over the course of 20 years, barrels marked 'FRAGILE-DISHES'. Carefully they were put onto trucks, carefully put into storage. New Orleans to Denver to Golden to New Orleans to Durango. It was there I finally asked, "What is in these things?"
He wasn't sure anymore, it had been so long since they'd been packed. We pried open the tops...and found they were empty.
Twenty years of moving three empty barrels. Imagine.
I currently have them in my garage. You can never tell when you might need a good dish barrel.
I have two mirrors from a barber shop that date from 1860. I have antique dressers and nightstands and butler tables and lamps and hand carved bed frames and a librarian's desk and a lectern from an old school house and oil lamps and china brass beds and iron beds and curios and their cabinets and this great old phonograph case and books and dvds and photos of people that I have no idea who they are and I have prints of Blue Boy and Pink Lady that are 120 years old. I have quilts from my grandmother and blankets from my children and on and on and on. I have five tea sets. Five. I have no idea why. I was made the collector of all things family. I've washstands and paintings and hope chests and a beautiful copper lamp with a cranberry glass shade.
It's going to be one hell of a garage sale. He thinks it's all going... all I know is, my little flat in Staten Island is going to be...cozy.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
All day, huge clouds have built up, piling higher and higher....they always reminded me of scooped mashed potatoes on a plate. They drifted slowly in from all sides, eastward from the range close to town, lower, smoother clouds came in slowly across the valley from the west... meandering their way into town, looking harmless, their only purpose to block any view of the last of the meteor showers tonight.
The first sign was a huge bolt of lightening that struck the field just outside from where I am, the clap of thunder shook the walls.
A smart person would unplug everything, cower under the covers and wait for it all to pass.
I keep looking out the window at the lightening play across the sky.
Huge drops of rain started slowly, and are now pouring down, slapping against the windows and walls of the barn. I can look out the window and see a sheet of rain moving across the far end of the valley, a good 30 miles away. This is the West, we need the water, and will take it any way we can get it into our earth.
The truck garden just outside my door won't need watering tomorrow...the irrigation grooves cut into it carry the already heavy downpour back to all of the plants there. Someone came today and picked squash and tomatoes and left me a huge zucchini.
I don't like large zucchini, they scare me.
I've helped myself to the tomatoes growing, fresh, sun ripened tomatoes for lunch and supper have made me a happy person... nothing in the stores or even the vegetable sellers on the streets can top the taste of a tomato you walk out and pick off the vine.
I do love watching the storm as it moves across the fields... the way it flattens out the wheat and hay, covering field by field then going on to the next farm. The corn bends under the onslaught of water, the earth soaks it up to store it deep where it's needed. Trees seem to lift branches up to catch the moisture. The animals stand with their backs to the wind and rain, solidly waiting for it to be over. Only the sheep are confused, turning in circles.
The sound of the water on the tin roof is picking up, the lightening is closer, and it's time I shut this little pc down. It's pouring now, sluicing off the roofs, out of the gutters, hitting so hard it bounces back up again off the hard packed earth.
My only regret is I'm not in bed, drifting off to sleep...
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
- 6-8 medium pre-cooked potatoes (or a 2-lb pkg of frozen hash browns)
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 1 can (10 ¾ oz.) cream of chicken soup (or cream of celery)
- 1/2 soup can milk
- 1 cup sour cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup crumbs*
- 3** tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
They are Manhattan shoes, Bronx shoes, Brooklyn shoes...New York City shoes. Flats that I slip on and cruise out the door with, easy to walk in, easy to walk on, easy on my feet, soft leather, no socks or stockings or tights or anything needed...just my shoes on nicely pedicured feet.
Suddenly, I'm back to wearing my cowboy boots more and more. Sturdy, comfortable, well worn, scuffed heels, needing new soles, tan leather boots. I'm not in the all the time wearing them state yet, but, it's headed that way.
The boots I wore to L.A. last year, walking around West Hollywood, the ones on my feet when I sat parked in Norma, on a 90 minute call, leaning back on the seat, my legs in said boots dangling out of the window... it's tough getting comfortable in a small car when you are talking on the phone.
I did get more than a few looks.
Manhattan shoes don't cut it here. I walk the terrier out to do her duty, and I'm stepping over piles of hay, around piles of shi..manure, walking on rocks and gravel and it's just not working. In my cowboy boots, I stride easily over all of these obstacles, knowing when my walk is done, I can scrape them on the boot scraper outside my door, and if worse comes to worse, I can swish the soles off in a puddle of water until they are clean again.
They fit my feet perfectly....I sit and pull them on with a satisfying 'plunk' when my heel goes past the shank at the back. I wiggle my toes in their cotton socks, stand up, stomp my foot to settle my jeans (that once dropped nicely around my cute flats) and I'm off.
There is something to be said for cowboy boots... you walk with a freedom not found in heels or flats. The pitch gives you comfort after long hours on your feet. You feel a looseness in your walk, a strength in your glide, and your hips automatically swing.
I wear my boots in the winter in New York. They were put away in April, when we thought it might/maybe/perhaps become spring.
They are back out, happy to be of use again, and I'd forgotten the nice sound they make when you walk. You know you are going somewhere when you have on cowboy boots. The click of the heels on concrete or flooring tells you so.
The flats remain for nice places to go, but, the boots are slowly moving back in place for everyday where.
I guess I really am settling in for the month... next thing you know, I'll be wanting to eat Funeral Potatoes and green Jello salad, and, yes, I'm saying "Oh, my heck!" all the time.
It doesn't take long to switch shoes, attitudes or a way of life.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Plain and simple...flies.
I am not one to smush bugs, it's the whole squish factor that gives me the shudders...the bits of guts and stuff lying there, waiting to be picked up by a piece of paper. The crunch of a body as you hit it with the newspaper (usually forgetting you've not read that section, therefore ruining any chance of reading it later).
Here, I dash in and out of the little red sub-let, trying to beat the hordes of flies that seem to think their place is inside, with the terrier and I. There is nothing for them to even consider eating... looking around, all you can see are papers and my heels from the wedding. You think they'd rather join their 47 gajillion buddies out there crawling on cows and sheep and horses and their leavings.
In various places, they've hung jar like contraptions.... full of some liquid that lures the flies to come and taste. Once inside, they fall into said liquid and drown. The plus side is, it kills a shitload of flies. The downside is...they are transparent, so, you get to see this gallon jar full of dead fly bodies.
There's a job I wouldn't want.
There are a number of jobs I wouldn't want... shoveling manure (done that), cleaning a septic tank, being a dental hygienist, having to tell a director his film is over budget.
And emptying the jar o'flies.
Tonight, however, I'll be lying out on the lawn, viewing the light show... thankful the flies go to sleep at some point. Until then, I'll make a half hearted attempt to swat them, not sure if I'm happy or not when I miss.
Okay, I'll be honest... I'm glad when I miss.
It's the squish factor. ew
Sunday, August 12, 2007
When you've relationships built on the delicacy of butterfly breath, of walking softly, of text that I despise, when getting a response is almost impossible, in dealing with a friendship that is important, how do you know?
How do you know when things are okay again? If the forgiveness is real, if that person has moved on and the breach is healed? With no voice to communicate, how do you know?
It's difficult enough when you say something or do something inadvertent to a friend or loved one and you are there... you can assess the damage, realise the immediacy of the depth to which you've put your foot into your mouth, make amends, using facial responses, tone of voice, body language to guide you in this all important task.
How do you do this when you communicate by text, by email? We all know you send an email with one voice in your head, and the reader absorbs the words with their version. It's one of the great things in the Harry Potter series, the screaming letters. You knew where you stood there.
I'm at a loss here. Something that should not have been put forth was, and I'm not able to do anything about it..and, no, the dog didn't send it this time.
I can only wait and see, I suppose. It's all you can ever really do, isn't it?
Saturday, August 11, 2007
It was her wedding day.
The prior week was spent in finding tables and making tablecloths and who was in charge of the flowergirl basket and had anyone made arrangements to pick up TheInvestment?
She was serene the entire time.
I have been torn on this matter, wishing she'd wait, wishing she'd finish school before she married... wishing she'd realise how much she has in life ahead of her.
She is serene in her choice in life.
She never broke into a sweat or the nerves or came anywhere near a Bridezilla attack. She had her lists and her close circle of friends, two who drove out from Colorado to be part of this day. Her siblings, save the Jarhead, showed up and pitched in. Her dad and I watched in amazement at our baby, who was in complete eagerness to become a wife. She was glad to see all of us, was her usual dry witted self, but, her focus was elsewhere... you could sense this feeling she wasn't complete until he was in sight.
I have had my issues with this marriage, for a number of reasons. I have to put them to rest, because my child, my HRH, adores this man. Not blind adoration, she is aware of faults and deals with them accordingly. She simply needs and wants and desires him in her life. They trust and believe in each other.
We gathered in the area to lace her into her dress... purchased on eBay, for a pittance. It was classic in design, perfectly fitted...she floated. She'd chosen sterling silver roses among the white... knowing those were the ones her dad gave to me the day she was born. Sweetpeas, her dad's nickname for her, were also contained in the bouquet she held. Her something old was the pearl bracelet I'd been given, and a ring from my jewelry box. Aside from that and the pearls on her neck, her only accessories was her obvious happiness.
The wedding was beautiful, with the bridesmaids in different variations of a dress, all in a shade of lilac. A version of the wedding march started, we all swiveled in our seats... and there she was, at the top of the stairs in this bowl of a green pasture, surrounded by trees. She simply stepped out, paused, and started down...and you were riveted by her composure, her smile, the anticipation that radiated from her.
Her dad met her, and you could see them talking... her eyes flickered between him and her husband to be, waiting for her... he couldn't take his eyes off of her.. no one could. Her dad later told me he avoided looking at me, he knew he'd cry then, seeing me cry.
They walked up the aisle, and paused for me to join them. J and I had our hands over each other around her waist in the back. We stopped, I lifted her veil, and whispered, "I love you, a bushel and a peck.." and she smiled... "I love you, Mom". Her dad choked out the words, "I love you." We both answered, "We do" when asked who gave her in marriage... and, then, it was done. She was no longer our little girl.
The look of joy on her face... every bride should wear that.
The reception was a good time. My friends were there, the Sisterwife was her usual hoot of a self. There was a dance floor, wonderful food, a cake that stunned me. We watched her dance with her brother, the one people used to ask me if they were twins... as you can see, now, even with her heels on, the height difference was amusing to watch.
- Her with her dress in her hands, bridesmaids surrounding her, laughing in delight as she stomped away to Cotton Eyed Joe.
- I spent 30 minutes just talking to my ex. Something we've needed to do, closure of some old wounds, opening of new doors, perhaps.
- The sense all will be okay.
I had three days of playing grandma or whatever I am supposed to be called... I held my children close..... there are things that happened I have to deal with next week, that may change what I do in regards to returning...
But, for now... my little one is a married lady, and a very happy one at that. This is a good thing.
Everyone is gone but TheInvestment. I've got to find a way to get him to Las Vegas on Monday... for now, he's visiting folk and I'm resting and accepting another part of my life has changed.
Life is funny like that.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
When I park, I look for a close spot...no more walking for this woman... it's the, "Who is in my parking spot?" routine once again.
The idea of trudging the length of two city blocks causes me to slump over the wheel and moan in irritation. A week ago, I briskly walked six blocks each way to and from the train from my Little Apartment in the Projects. Now, I don't want to go more than six parking spaces into WalMart (ohhrah!).
I run all my errands in one fell swoop. If I forget something, it waits until the next day... once home, I'm home for the day. I simply can't be bothered to go back out from my barn sub-let.
I had to go up a flight of stairs today, to see my insurance agent. I heaved a sigh. A week ago, I briskly walked up five flights at least twice a day.
I can breathe fresh air, the water isn't yellow... I was afraid to drink it at first, to be honest. I mean, who drinks clear water? At night, it's eerily quiet. If I shut off the swamp cooler, there isn't a sound... once in awhile, the cows moo or a horse nickers.. otherwise... black night and dead noise.
I can't sleep.
Sure, I'm loving the $5 movies and the cheap plays and the friends I've not seen and the time with my daughter and my hours in WalMart, where they switched everything around, so, I've been entertained seeking out my old areas, looking for DVD's, books... re-mapping the place in my head.
I love the fact the big meteor shower next week will be crisp and clear for me, no lights to hinder the over 100 hits an hour expected to be seen. We have no city lights out here, just a few homes that send out soft light a few hundred feet around them. It will be a simple feat to sit outside on the patio and watch a great show put on by the Universe.
I miss New York. I have some major issues to deal with here... my house, putting it on the market, reshifting things in storage, the wedding on Friday... selling Norma.
With luck, I'll be off hiatus beginning of September... without luck, mid September.
I just hope I don't forget how to sleep with noise and lights in my face and I hope I don't get too used to having the stars right outside my window again.
That really is always the hardest thing to leave behind when I go.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
The Saturday after my birthday, my Mother took me to get my birthday present... my very own puppy.
I'd wanted a dog for some time, had been hinting, cutting out pictures of dogs from the Ladies Home Journal and Redbook... I'd give the dogs names, and pet them.
It was rather pathetic, if you really think about it.
We weren't poor, but, we were far from being well off. Hell, we were far from being middle class.
Both of my parents worked, an anomaly in not only my generation, but, our area of the country. Mother was to stay at home, and bake cookies and bandage knees.
Mine answered the switchboard at a local industrial corporation, where she was one of the first employees they hired. This gave her special privileges, she parked near the front door and she was allowed to take an extra 14 minutes at lunch, making up the time by coming in seven minutes early and leaving seven minutes late. Why the extra 14 minutes, you ask?
This allowed her to dash out of the office at 11.53A, run to her car in her heels and tight skirt, throw herself in the seat of the Buick with the wooden drivers window, peel out of the parking lot, take the back roads, and arrive in the driveway of our home, slamming on the brakes, shutting off the car and once again running in those heels.
She'd careen into the house in time for my MawMaw to put her lunch on a tray in front of the sofa in the den (created from the old carport) to allow the two of them to watch As the World Turns and Love is a Many Splendored Thing.
With the last commercial, the route was reversed, and Mother slid back into her chair at 1.07P, to answer her first after lunch phone call.
She was never late.
As I said, my Mother worked, and even with that, we weren't able to splurge on things.
Her bright idea to buy a dog for me rather than take one of the pups from the litter down the street wasn't one of her, well, brighter, ideas. I was content with the idea of a pup from that group. I played with them daily, yanking them off the mother as they nursed... we all did. I even had mine picked out and named.
Mother wanted a pure bred dog, and took money out of savings to get me one. We drove in a pouring down New Orleans rainstorm to some pet store downtown to buy me a puppy. A $75 puppy. In today's money, that would be... ohhh... $300?
I picked out the sickest puppy in that puppy mill shop. The one that was breathing it's last. I can still remember her holding out a beagle puppy, who had a glossy coat and a sparkle in it's eyes, his little tail wagging, looking just like the Pokey Little Puppy.
No, I wanted the dachshund, who had mats in his hair, mats in his eyes, his tongue was out... he was on his way to the doghouse in the sky. He needed me. He licked my hand, and I was his. Blackie.
Originality wasn't my forte.
I clung to him, crying. I refused to be parted. She pinched me. No, he was mine. The store keeper wasn't stupid. If I'd have backed off even a bit, he'd have lowered the price. As it was, he took the full price, and we walked out, into the rain, my Mother, my dying dog, and me.
To a ticket on her car.
To this day, that's the thing she remembers, that she, "... got a ticket getting that damn dog."
We drove home in the torrential rain, the wooden window up, Mother making blind left hand turns, cursing and smoking. The dog threw up on the floor... and she saw worms.
I was to leave it alone at that point. DO NOT. TOUCH. THE. DOG.
The vet couldn't see it until Monday, and suggested the dog be isolated, fed bread and milk, and not handled very much.
My dad was finishing up the back part of the carport, putting in a room for my MawMaw, who had been sharing a room with me.
Sleeping with my MawMaw had it's advantages. She had the softest skin in the world, and she would let you snuggle up against her if you were good. She smelled divine. However, if you wiggled at night, she pinched you. She was a world class pincher, and could get that little bit of flesh between your butt cheek and your leg, making you wish you'd never moved. She told me that if I thrashed about, and let my arms or legs hang out of the sheets, the things under the bed would get me.
It has only been in the last year I've allowed my feet and hands to hang out from under the sheets.
This woman was good. The CIA should have recruited her.
They put the dog, after a huge fight over the cost and the dogs condition, in the almost completed room, placing a large dark brown piece of heavy plywood that hit us above our waist in the doorway to keep it in, and the GC and I out.
"Don't go near the dog."
The dog whimpers. We edge closer to the plywood.
"Don't go near the DOG!"
The dog scratches on the plywood. We scoot in.
"Don't GO NEAR THE DAMN DOG!!"
We dash back to the safety of the kitchen. Quiet fills the air. Our heads peek out. A soft snuffle. A moan. A...whine.
We check, the coast was clear. Mother is in the back, Dad is outside. We made a break for the darkened bedroom, reaching the plywood, leaning down to pet the dog and...
.... we went over with the wood, knocking it onto the dog, killing it.
It yelped, and... died.
Yelped really loud.
Everyone came running. The GC, with his usual ability to save himself, was gone like a ninja before I could say "Wha?"
I was hauled up, paddled by my Mother who kept saying, "I even got a ticket for that damn dog!" then Dad spanked me.
Looking back, I did the dog a favour. It was not in good shape, and was having seizures. Us falling on it put it out of it's misery, I suppose.
I ended up getting a dog down the street, and we named her Greta. She was great, a mixed breed who lived for some time.
Mother never forgave me for killing the pure bred, though. Wasn't the first thing, wasn't the last. Lesson learned? Don't buy a dog at a pet store. And never expect the GC to have your back.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
No longer can I stop on the way to or from the train and pick up street food. I may actually have to....cook. The 'to go' food here is just horrid. I'm currently making a face as I try and remove the memory of the bits of some part or another of a chicken from my taste buds.
I'm living in a barn right now, well, an apartment in a barn, but, a barn nonetheless... complete with farm animals to the right and rear of my little red sub-let in the Land of Utes.
The terrier is fascinated with the chickens... its only a matter of time before the rooster takes her on. At that point, I'd best make sure I have the vet's number on speed dial...spurs do rake deep. She went after the cows with a great deal of bravado, until they looked down and had a sniff... she then turned tail and hid behind me for protection. Personally, I'm fond of the 47 gazillion flies that hover over the cowpen and the two sheep that greet me when I walk out every day.
I am not a country girl, thank God. I do like the bucolic green areas of the countryside, nothing makes me happier than a good solid bank of trees around a nice house, and I loves me my flower gardens... but, I am not one to go shovel manure or slaughter my dinner nor grow it, neither. This is why the Good Lord gave us grocery stores with meat and produce departments.... so we don't have to do that anymore.
I don't want to get close to some animal and then have it's leg for dinner on Sunday.
My MawMaw would go back to Mississippi on occasion, to check up on her property there, visit relatives, rest from living with us, I suppose. We'd drive up on a Friday to spend the weekend at my Aunt Id's house, spend the weekend, clean off my PaPaw's grave, and drive home to New Orleans on Sunday evening. The only plus on this car trip was my MawMaw sat between the GC and I, and he didn't dare do a thing.. she'd pinch the bejeebers out of him.
It was a tiny town in Mississippi, down on the Bogue Chitto River. Before the tornado hit, it had a few thriving stores. Afterwards, well, there was only the Post Office, and my Aunt Id (who was actually my second cousin) ran it. Our big thrill was to go hang the postal bag off the rail hook for the train to scoop it off when it flew past.
Dad would walk us up through the deep shoulder high weeds, swishing ahead for snakes, and we'd climb up the platform, creosote filling the air from the hot sun baking the trestles.
He'd help us hold the hook that put the bag that held only a few letters out, and we'd wait far back on the platform for the Illinois Central train to come through. You could hear the whistle start to blow, there was a road just ahead, and years before, another cousin had been the engineer, and hit a car there, killing the occupants. He later committed suicide, one of those hushed stories I'd sit outside the screen door and listen to on hot days when the aunts and cousins started to gossip.
The train would fly by, so fast, you couldn't see the writing on the boxcars. From out of nowhere, there would be an open car, another hook and as one man grabbed the canvas bag, another threw one out... and it was gone. I think one of the reasons I love the feel of the trains coming into the station now is that long ago memory of the freight train rushing past, swirling up bits of dust and grass, moving the hot, heavy air.
We'd hop down, and start dashing about, trying to find the canvas sack that was marked, U.S. Mail. Dragging it behind us, we left for Aunt Id's house, where the post office was located in her front parlour.
We were never allowed behind the counter...ohhhhhh no, Uncle Sam would come and take us away, she told us. We'd take the nickel she gave us, buy a Coke and poke a hole in the cap with an ice pick, sucking it out as we sat on the stone wall, nodding to neighbors and relatives who came in to pick up their mail.
We were identified by our lineage.
"You know those two, Quin and GC. P's babies. P... Mac's youngest. Mac, he's Selma and Charles' fourth one, the short one. Yes, that's them" Then, the speaker would turn to me and say, "Sugar, I'm your Cousin Rose...your third cousin once removed on your grandaddy's side"
This was repeated at the family reunion every Labour Day, when we filled the family picnic grounds in this little hamlet.
I never got them straight, I just let them pinch my cheek, slip me a dime, and they'd walk off, saying, "It's a shame the boy's the one with the looks. "
On Sunday, after Mass (Aunt Id went to the Baptist Church, in the hopes we'd one day convert, allowing us to all worship the same God), we started Sunday Dinner.
There is nothing quite like a Deep South Sunday Dinner. You have to approach it in a scientific manner, preparing not only the meal, but, in how you will eat it, and, your behaviour afterwards.
First, you make your sweet tea. Now, please understand, I am giving my family's way of doing things... I'm sure you have your own.. feel free to offer up your versions. Sweet tea is made by putting six tea bags in a pan holding a cup of boiling water. Let it sit a spell, until the water is warm, not hot, then remove the tea bags, squeezing them hard to get all that nice tea flavour out. Pour this mixture into a large, glass pitcher slowly stirring in a heaping cup of sugar. Taste. Add more sugar if needed. Fill the pitcher to the top with ice cold water, then shove the whole thing into the ice box to chill. It's best if you do this before you go to Mass, so it's nice and cold before it's time to eat.
Everyone comes home, and it's into the kitchen. The chicken was killed the day before by my MawMaw and Aunt Id.
This was never a fun process. Neither of them had the will to chop off a head, my father refused to have anything to do with the slaughter, although he was willing to eat the results, and they were far too weak to wring a neck. Mother was no where to be found.
It was left up to my 4'11" grandmother and Aunt Id who was short, stout and had diabetes to kill two chickens.
How did they do it?
Yes, it was the People's Slaughter Machine.
My MawMaw held the chicken down, kneeling carefully in the dirt on her apron, with the head on a large rock in the dirt driveway. Aunt Id would back up, to the rock, MawMaw would slide the chicken's head under the whell, then, Aunt Id would slowly roll over it's head with the car.
Yep. That's how we knew what Sunday Dinner was going to be. If Aunt Id was asking where the car keys were, we knew it was fried chicken.
The night before, the plucked and gutted bird was cut into pieces, dipped into a buttermilk and egg bath, and left to sit in the icebox. The next day, the women, still dressed in their church clothes, started the meal. Blackeyed peas and butterbeans went into pots with salt pork and onions. Sweet cornbread batter is made, poured into heavy black skillets. Fans whirred--with the ovens on, the heat was unbearable. Beets were mixed with vinegar and oil and fresh white onions...into the icebox along with jello salad and a relish dish with homemade pickles of all variety, including watermelon pickles. Potatoes are peeled, cut up and boiled. Heavy cream and butter sit in a pan on the back of the stove, warmed by the oven, ready to go into the potatoes when they are mashed.
One thing I learned, never put cold butter and milk into hot potatoes.
The chicken is taken out of the icebox, out of it's buttermilk bath, then floured and deep fried golden and crisp. Biscuits, cornbread, gravy, peas, snapbeans, relishes, potatoes, and a platter of chicken. Out comes the pitcher of sweet tea... my Dad takes his place at the head of the table, we say Grace, and eat.
Dad was always offered the first and best parts of the chicken... they'd wait, mouths slightly agape, until he took a bite and pronounced it marvelous, then, the silverware would move and click on the china, glasses would be filled and re-filled, soft Mississippi voices filled the air, information gathered at the different Churches passed on. No TV, no phone would ring... and if it did, you didn't answer it.. manners were expected and delivered. It was a tradition, something the South takes great pride in.
When you reach the part where you can't eat anymore... dessert is served. Coffee is made, and you have pie with ice cream or shortcake or the best of all... homemade ice cream. We would all clear off the table, do the dishes and put away the food...except Dad, and then... you loosen your belts, the ladies took off their girdles and everyone naps.
Even I stayed inside, in the front parlour, where I was trusted to not touch anything. It was cool there, with a cross current breeze. I'd read, then fall asleep, in one of those food stupor sleeps, where you have strange dreams, and your stomach makes noises and you sleep hard and short and wake up abruptly.
Before we left, we'd race through Aunt Id's house one last time.
Her house was a rest home for termites. They would leave each Spring when they swarmed, and return with new friends and relatives. The house sagged and swayed, and some of the floors actually looked like a small roller coaster. We were allowed one run through if we were good, yelling and zipping up and down these up to four inch high hills of floor... her house always smelled of pine and oak.
It's gone now. Finally collapsed a few years after her death, just... collapsed in the middle of the day. *poof*
We'd drive home, Dad belching, Mother waving her hand at his non belch releases of gas. GC would drift off, MawMaw and Mother would gossip and I'd pretend to sleep, so they'd go to the good stuff, the dark family secrets, the ones I really wanted to know.
Problem is, half way though those, that heavy food sank further, and I did fall asleep... so, I never did find out why we weren't suppose to dig in the northwest corner of Great-Granddad's property. Something about a hobo and a second cousin and....
Some of it isn't bad, some is, well....
What isn't realised is, it's fiction. I take something I've heard or some small event and I fictionalise it.
Some comments on my work lead me to believe people think it's my life there, being played out.
No, no, no... not at all. Not in any way, shape or form. Just.. words built around something.
With that said, after talking to a friend where I said it's odd when people go after a writer (based on comments posted after a 6S) for their work... I'm now looking at it from a different angle, and think, it's actually a bit of a compliment, to move a reader to the point they associate your fictional character(s) with the writer.
Friday, August 3, 2007
I've said before in my playground here, that cars are the bane of my existence. My parents used them as a private battleground, and at least a third of my beatings occurred in cars. Of course, most children of my generation were slapped in cars, it's what you did as a parent.
When I became a parent, I drove vans. The ex had a SAAB 900 turbo, and a cool Buick with nice upholstery and something else I've managed to forget. Granted, he drove 100 miles round trip to work, but, hey! I drove 65 and handled all the kids. Thus, the van.
Not your cute mom van you see today, with the Eddie Bauer stuff on them...no, I had a bigass van. A Dodge Ram Van. A Dodge Ram Van 250.
With air. Or I wouldn't have driven it. He went for the engine to pull the boat (that's another story) and all the seats and blah blah blah.
That sucker could have had a Coke bottle for a stick shift as long as it had air conditioning. Oh, and a decent sound system.
My rules were simple in the van. Whomever was in the passenger seat was 'Mother'. 'Mother' passed out the drinks, listened intently to the questions, tattled without reprimands.. I didn't approve of tattling unless there was blood or broken bones involved or if you were 'Mother' in the van...and 'Mother' served the driver food or drink, the driver being; me.
The other rule was, the driver set the music.
Therefore, my children grew up knowing all the lyrics to Paul Simon, John Prine (ask them to sing Big Fat Love), and whomever else I was addicted to at the time. They still listen to quite a bit of the same stuff, and will spontaneously break into a chorus of Homeless on occasion.
Yes, we were great fun.
I also made them wear the same colour when we went to Disneyland so I could find them in the crowd. After all, I don't remember their faces.. I needed something to help me in this parental duty.
I downsized to a Ford Aerostar, with leather seats, later on. In between was an Altima, but, it wasn't my choice of car. Later, the Jarhead bought it from me, TheInvestment bought it from him, and currently, it's being sold.
The Aerostar was great...served it's purpose, still, it was a van.
My dad always told me when he died, to use his itty bitty insurance policy to buy something fun.
I bought my little car on eBay. I did the research first, it wasn't a completely blind buy, although I did bid on the first one drunk on tequila. I wanted..no, the kids wanted me to have something that would let me walk away after I hit a tree.
My other problem with cars is... I tend to have horrific car accidents while riding in them. So far, I've had five, resulting in a fused neck and the removal of part of my ribs. Three cars were declared totaled... and one of them only had 50 miles on it.. so, you know it was in bad shape.
None of these have ever been my fault, I'm just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Therefore, a heavy car. One with lots of airbags and German engineers and road tests and stuff.
I ended up buying this little number, that was christened 'Norma' by Mr. Nebes.
For Norma Desmond. It's his nickname for me, too.
He's so amusing at times.
I never thought I'd like a car. The only other cars I've owned outright were also sports cars... a little vintage Karmin Ghia, that was modified with a Porsche engine. It was totaled when I was making a left hand turn, and the woman behind me, in a big ol' Dodge, decided not to wait, and tried to pass me doing 70MPH.
I flipped in the air, came down, rolled twice and ended upside down in a drainage ditch. No seatbelt was worn.
I walked away without a scratch.... the driver's door was pushed up against the steering wheel. Good times.
My next car was a vintage MG. Yum. I drove this until it came time to have it tuned and have the wheels tuned... those wonderful wire wheels.
It was cheaper to get a new car.
So, I traded it in on the first production year of the RX7. After four speeding tickets in two years, and getting married, I sold it and bought a van.
Norma and I are happy together. I drive her at a decent speed though town. We've gone to California twice now... we zip along, doing 90, keeping up with traffic. Here in my town, she's the only one of her kind, and stands out. In LA, she stands out because she's the only dirty Benz.
I never push her to show off, we're not flashy, Norma and I. Except once... some kid cut me off in his... Honda. He cut in front of me, causing me to slam on my breaks.. and he flipped me off. I didn't have time to avert my eyes.. it COUNTED. To add to this insult, I had to drop back to one lane, added to my travel time, and I hate that. I really, really hate adding to my travel time in a car.
I could see him ahead of me on the highway, when it opened up again. It was a long sloping road... you could see a good mile ahead.
I plotted my strategy with the skills of a chess player... move around the SUV, up behind the blue Toyota, zip behind the black Kia... I could take him.
I moved the terrier to her seat, and set off.
When you drive a Benz, you don't feel the acceleration... the car just...goes. Norma sensed my irritation, she moved and zipped and never lost her feel for the road, as I passed cars doing 95MPH.
Finally, I pulled alongside the kid who cut me off, and let off the accelerator. I paced him, motioning for him to roll down his window. His friend did, and I said, "DUMBASS, IT'S A BENZ!!!"
And blew him away when I punched it.
Boy, am I stupid or what?
Still, for a moment... it was... fun. Until I realised I was going 110, and freaked out.
Now that I'm back here, I'm adjusting to a driving society again... get up, get dressed, go to the car. I'm in a barn apartment, 2 miles from town. I have no choice. It took me a bit to get used to driving again, the feel of the car on the road, remembering to check my mirrors... and that the little streets are called 'sidewalks'.
I have one more if/maybe trip... then, Norma is being sold. I'll miss her, but, not enough to keep her. Someone should enjoy her, putting her top down into the trunk is a hoot, and you can actually talk while driving and hear the other person.
It's a great car, I'm leggy, so, I fit in it perfectly TheInvestment had to sit in it with his head bent over, and a friend of mine who is a big man, the roof came to his hips when he stood next to it, asked, "How many models do they make, anyway?" I think 147.
Norma was one of them...
On an aside, found my MOB dress. It's green.ish. Yeah. Well. That's done.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
After 27 hours, two airline companies, one lovely hotel and a miffed terrier, I’m back in the
Some people don’t get Customer Service. *coughDELTAcough*
Some, do. Continental, you rock.
FUBAR’d points, missed flights, finding a hotel from Newark…the WORST AIRPORT IN NEW YORK… booking off of my computer in the lobby of the hotel, having to wait in said lobby until midnight to check in, having a room I could keep at 62F, getting my points flight moved up by a great Continental employee, snagging an earlier shuttle to the town below me… it all added up to 27 hours from the time I left the no longer my Little Apartment in the Projects to arriving on the front step of my home in Utah.
I caught the shuttle up from Vegas. It runs every 90 minutes or so, and, I used to be a regular, so, he found me a seat. I’d been sitting in the back of the van, next to a young guy around the age of the Jarhead. The terrier was thrilled to be out of her case and had stretched out on the seat between us and was soon asleep. It was odd to be in a car for one, and once you leave Vegas, there is pretty much…nothing.
Traveling north on I-15, the stretch Stephen King made famous in The Stand, you see nothing but acres and miles and miles of acres of barrenness. The difficult part is knowing people live there. The Native American's were defeated, and the government said, as a friend of mine so beautifully put it, "Tell you what, we're going to take allllllllllllllllll of this, and in exchange, here's some whiskey and six million acres of kitty litter."
He wasn't far off in his description of the area.
You pass up through Nevada and into a small stretch of Arizona onto what is called the Million Dollar Highway.
It cuts into a canyon, black rock, steep sides, you are cut off from cell service, helicopter service should you have an accident.. and there are many of those... all you have are the rock walls that rise up hundreds of feet above you. The road twists and winds its way up from the desert floor, you can start to feel the pull on your car as you climb out of the flat desert into what we call high altitude desert.
It was called the Million Dollar Highway because back in the day, it cost a Million Dollars a mile to build; an unheard of amount. Solid granite was blasted out, hauled away, ripped away from the earth. Fourteen miles took years to create.
It takes us twenty minutes to zip through.
More driving, more chatting with my seat partner who had, by this time, moved the terrier onto his lap where she was very content.
He'd grown up in Las Vegas, then, his mother had married a local member of the church, and moved to the town near here, so, he became a resident of our area. When he turned 23, he decided to become a deep sea diver, you know, the kind with the helmets? He lives and works out of one of the shoretowns on the coast of Louisiana, taking the jack boats out to the rigs, working there for three months at a time, then on shore for one. He makes huge bundles of cash, as there are no living expenses at all in the job, and he banks everything he makes, with the hope of buying homes, selling them, and retiring in 10 years with a Master Diver certificate. He wants to live in the Keys, with a paid for business. He used to be a smoke jumper, a job you find in this area, but, it wasn't full time work around here, so, he switched.
His mom was as thrilled as I was when the Jarhead enlisted.
He hung around the parking lot with me, while I waited for Mrs S. His ride showed up just before she did, and he gave me this little hug. Nice kid.
We piled all the luggage into the car, with Mrs S and M exclaiming on how different the terrier and I looked. I don't notice the weight loss on either of us, I suppose. We stopped and ate and started the last leg of the trip.
Miles of nothing again, the difference being, I was in the mountains. Back to high altitudes. Back to clear air. Back to this sky filled with stars and a big fat moon and strips of clouds. Friends voices in a car... I'd forgotten what it was to talk on a normal voice level, to have a background reference for conversation.
M fell asleep in the backseat. Mrs S and I kept talking... I don't remember what about.
I get to the West, and I feel the void pulling. My heart aches. I was exhausted by the time we arrived at my sweet little house, that costs $50 more a month than my little apartment in New York. I scanned the front yard.. roses need pruning, I can smell my lavender garden. HRH opens the door, the lights are on, I'm back.
In the middle of the night, the terrier had to go out.... we walked onto the deck, down the stairs, into the grass. She snuffed it, worried it, walked about, searching for her missing companions.
I looked up, over to the west, and there was Orion.
It was worth 27 hours and a bunch of FUBAR's. Mrs. S, M, HRH, friends I'll see over the next week or so, figuring out how to drive my little car again... a town of 17 stoplights... and every night, Orion sits there.
I'll soak that in the most... it's the thing I miss, the thing I can't find in New York. These brilliant, deep stars... and the pure quiet that goes with watching them in the dark still of the night.