Saturday, December 30, 2006

Beware Strange Men.

As I was sitting idly on the sofa wondering what to blog about today, I chanced to glance out the window and spy a mustachioed stranger on the porch. No sooner did I notice him than he knocked on the window. I recognized him as the neighbor who had been fixing his car as I went to the post office this morning and tried to engage me in conversation about holiday fare. Looking back at the computer, I calmly informed jc that there was a man at the window. We had just this morning discovered that it is possible to communicate through the windows, owing to their thinness.

The man spoke: "Is that my cat?" He pointed to my lovely Ailleanach, nervously skittering away.

jc replied, "I don't think so."

A short conversation ensued about the various tabbies in the neighborhood before the intruder scuttled off. I repressed the urge to vomit and instructed Ailleanach to bare her fangs threateningly should the situation recur.

A note on our living situation: jc is currently engaged in a diligent perusal of all available real estate. Landlady's appraisal came back too low & the deal will probably fall through. We're still getting out of here as soon as possible.


A big thank you to all my loyal readers who offered their sympathies.


Thursday, December 28, 2006


I learned today of Granny's death after a long illness. She was 89 years old. In the past five years or so, because of bad osteoporosis, she broke her hip, collarbone, pelvis, and some vertebrae. All but the last time she returned home to the farm after a stay in rehab. This time she had to go to a nursing home. In the last weeks, she became progressively, drastically worse, so that at time she no longer recognized family members. In her last letter to me, just weeks ago, she sorrowed that she could no longer walk without help.

I have been anticipating this for some time, and am grateful that she has been loosed from the trouble that plagued her in the last years. I am pleased to know that she died in her sleep, with adequate pain control, and family by her side.

I remember her life.

Granny was born in a very small, rural town in 1917. In the 1930's she took the train some ten miles to go to high school, then continued on to college to earn a degree in higher mathematics. She went on to earn her master's degree in the 1960's. She taught upper math at the local high school, by this time, much closer to home, until retirement. Everyone in the school district remembers her as a tough math teacher and as a woman whose hair was snow white in her thirties. She used to sit in the living room and work calculus the way most people do the crossword puzzle.

As if a teaching career weren't enough, Grandma raised five children and worked on the farm. There were no TV dinners then, either. She shamed me throughout her life by her industry. I would bet that she was still mowing the grass in her eighties and only stopped then because the family made a pointed effort to mow it before she could get to it.

She made delicious candy at Christmastime and peanut butter eggs for Easter. There are many dishes that she is known for making best. Anytime we visited near mealtime, she insisted on cooking "a little something." I'm not sure if we ever had a meal there that didn't include dessert.

At times, I was afraid to open my mouth around her for fear of saying something stupid. She stayed informed of current events, and had a certain knack for knowing what things really meant.

By my best count, she is survived by her five children, twelve grandchildren, and ten or eleven great grandchildren.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

sad holiday for some

I am deeply saddened and appaled by this news story reporting the death of James Emerick Dean, 28 years old, at the hands of the police. The poor guy's crime was that he didn't want to go to Iraq, having already served 18 months in Afghanistan.

I know there are lots of angles to this: volunteer army, mental illness, taking pot shots at the police surrounding his house. Nonetheless, he is another casulaty of the war in Iraq. jc remembers a boy from his hometown who shot himself rather than going to Vietnam.

When will this end?


dump- dream journal

We were living in what looked like a dump. I felt that we really needed to get the place cleaned up, so we started picking everything flammable out of the rubbish and built a big bonfire. It turned out that Mother and Father were staying nearby and their place didn't look any better. Then I realized that jc had forgotten to put the trash out two weeks running. I scolded him for it and he got very upset. It was near midnight, and I was preparing a chicken to roast over the open fire.

Sronnoc Esor

(Upon waking, I ventured down to the garage to make sure the trash was out. Of course it was.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas is over

I actually removed all the decorations from the tree yesterday. I took the lights off today, drug it out the door on a sheet, and threw it out for the garbage man to pick up tomorrow. It was enjoyed by all, especially the kitties.

Here's the surprise gift-that-I-didn't-want of the year from my step-mother-in-law. It's a Lenox China Jewels Musicals Winter Wonderland music box. Think we can sell it on eBay?

And this is our gift to ourselves. It's a Kitchen Aid ice cream maker bowl. And we got it for a steal.

Otherwise, we had a beautiful, peaceful Christmas; as I hope everyone else did.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

The 39 steps- movie review

Here's a classic framed-for-murder-noone-believes-me yarn from Hitchcock. The hero is unwittingly drawn into international intrigue and politics, but in the end he cleverly solves the puzzle and, in the process, wins the girl. I enjoyed the points of clever cinematography like overlapping the train whistle with the charwoman's grisly scream. Thanks to jc for renting this one and furthering my cinematographic education.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Whitman's sampler

Dahlia Man scored big with me by giving a Whitman's chocolate sampler that includes exactly zero creams. I despise creams. Before I discovered this fact, I offered jc the creams. Since there are none I reneged on my offer, telling jc to leave my chocolates alone. Yes, this year I plan to be a little piggie and eat the whole box myself. (Since I ovulated today, booze are out as a way of celebrating.) I'll worry about those five extra pounds around my hips later.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

early Christmas photo blog

The dying Douglas fir tree.

Shadow, who is trying to pull it down.
(here seen sniffing people food)

Peanut brittle that I made as gifts for friends.

Korean art coasters: a gift from Ki'il and the Scholar.

Hearts's Desire paperweight: a gift from a coworker.
(She says to write what you want on a piece of paper, put it under the weight as a kind of charm. I'm giving up hope that I will ever get what I really want, but it was a nice thought.)

Bath stuff from Robin. Thanks bunches. Sorry I opened it early.


The Princess and the Warrior- movie review


(originally Der Krieger und die Kaiserin)

The beautiful and detailed filming of this movie immediately captured my attention. The visuals were a pleasure to watch.

The film weaves a tangled story that could result in a lovely weaving or a tangled mess. The lives of the main characters seem so inextricably intertwined that the story couldn't come out any other way. There is nothing transcendent here; on the contrary, any hope that the story offers is purely and deeply human. It leaves me asking,

Do we make our own destiny, or has it already been chosen for us?


Monday, December 18, 2006

Lucky # Slevin- movie review


Although it is a bit more violent than I normally prefer, I thorougly enjoyed this one. There is definitely something to figure out & kudos to you if you do. Each subsequent plot twist was a new "aha" moment. If there were gaps or contradictions, I didn't notice them. With an all star cast including favorites Ben Kingsley and Morgan Freeman, the movie was worth watching just for the nice acting in it.

The sets were unreal. Quirky wallpaper and matching clothing just added immense visual appeal to the film. The wrap up at the end, where you find out what really happened, is done cleverly.

I don't want to ruin anything for you; if you don't mind a few killings, go out and get this one.


Another View- book review

My most recent read for book club was Another View by Rosamunde Pilcher, New York Times bestselling novelist. Those who recommended the author said it was light reading, and indeed it was. Unfortunately, I was unable to invest myself in the story or the characters. The story was harmless enough, but a week female main character seemed to need men to make her decisions for her, and none of the characters really took human shape for me. I cannot recommend the novel and will be happy to move on to another author.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas baking

I've been talking about it for days and now I finally did it. I started. Little green Christmas tree sugar cookies are now happily waiting in the freezer. Gingerbread cookie dough is chilling in the frig, waiting to turn into little G-bread boys tomorrow.

Landlady came for the appraisal today. Actually landlady, her husband, and the appraiser all came. I was fortunately on the telephone with Robin at the time, so had a good enough excuse to ignore the intrusion nearly completely.

We watched two movies which I won't even bother giving separate space for reviews.

Garden State was an okay movie with a decent ending, but I feel that it lacked depth.

The Libertine was about a guy that was just way too fixated on sex. The portrayal of women in general was abyssmal. One character, the actress Elizabeth Barry, was worth noting because she stood up for her right to live her life her own way no matter what anyone thought. However, I couldn't even watch the thing straight through. I'm sure I missed some stuff as I was doing other things at the same time.

Now I'm off to put clean sheets on the bed: a wonderful everyday luxury.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

syncretic- word of the day

syncretic \sin-KRET-ik; sing-\, adjective:Uniting and blending together different systems, as of philosophy, morals, or religion.

Trinidad Carnival is a syncretic popular form, drawing on
Christian tradition and pagan ritual, fused in the vortex of plantation
society.-- Stuart Hall, "Calypso kings", The Guardian, June 28,

In Cuba, the dominant religion is Santeria, a syncretic
mix of Roman Catholicism and Yoruba deities.-- Steve Fainaru and Ray Sanchez,
"Free agent", Boston Globe
, July 15, 2003

Compared to the syncretic, polytheistic empires of the
past, the 'doctrinal rigidity' of Judaic monotheism could be a source of both
solidarity and division.-- Dominic Lieven, Empire:
The Russian Empire and Its Rivals

In the hands of the gay right, the same individualism can produce a syncretic politics that draws from across the political
spectrum.-- Richard Goldstein, "Queering the pitch", The Guardian, May 15,

Indonesia is known for its moderate, syncretic, inclusive
brand of Islam. People see no difficulty in worshipping Allah and sea spirits.--
Jason Burke, "Paradise lost", The
, December 22, 2002

Syncretic is the adjective form of syncretism, from Greek synkretismos, "federation of Cretan cities," from sunkretizein, "to unite against a common enemy, in the manner of the Cretan cities," from syn-, "with, together" + Kres, Kret-, "Cretan."

Friday, December 08, 2006

Crash- movie review


This movie is completely full of such multi-layered prejudice. It takes the "right" away from any race and muddies the water completely. Does anything happen because of race? It makes me wonder if there really are good people and bad people, or if everything is just some strange happenstance.

It is also completely unexpected and, in places, gut-wrenchingly moving. I think, whether correct in its depictions or not, this is one movie that will keep me thinking for a while.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

eWater House- .dream journal

jc and I were taking Dahlia Man's dogs for a walk. We had borrowed a truck from someone. We saw a beautiful house on the hill overlooking a waterfall and a pool of water and we went over there to look inside. It was still under construction and it turned out Landlady was building it. After we had explored for a while, Landlady came in. She was having people over for dinner. I started to ask her what she was doing there when I realized it was her house. I started to leave. jc was waiting outside on a raft in the truck. When he started to pull out the truck turned over on its side. One of the dogs was already in the truck and jc went to get the other one. The truck had somehow righted itself. I went back in the house because I had forgotten my shoes. I spilled chocolate milk on landlady's carpet. When I went back outside, we were parked in the garage and two trucks had us parked in.

Sronnoc Esor

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Not a Fairy Tale Ending

I'm terribly sad that James Kim's body was found today.

I can't image what Kati is experiencing now. My thoughts are with her and the girls.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lost- a true story

Kati Kim and daughters found

I'm strangely touched by the story of this San Francisco family. They were traveling in Oregon over a week ago when they got stuck in snow on a back road. Maybe it's because it sounds so much like something I would do. Matter of fact, it's very like something I did once. I got the car stuck in sand in the middle of the Utah desert, only noone knew where I had gone. I hiked to the nearest town for help, eventually leaving the narrow dirt road when I didn't like the direction it was going. It worked out for me. I caught a ride to my friend's house and they went and pulled my car out. That was the time I learned that putting a pebble in your mouth really does help you not to feel so thirsty.

These people were basically trying to go somewhere that there just wasn't a road. I get a little nervous in mid-summer if I'm on those roads after dark. The stretch of I-5 they had to drive on recommends tire chains if there's a chance of snow. Leaving that for BLM roads sounds a little foolhardy to me. I wonder about the human interaction in this story. Was it a joint decision to take this route, or did Mrs. Kim get understandably upset when they got stuck on a road she never wanted to take in the first place? If it had been us, it would have been jc getting upset because I got stuck.

I love it that Mom and the girls were found. I hate it that Dad went looking for help and...? His footprints indicate that he left the road. I can't figure out why he would do that, but I hope that he is found, however unlikely that may seem. My thoughts go out to the Kims.


Boss Lady- dream journal

Boss Lady was reaming me out at work for a variety of things, and I didn't take any guff from her. I had an answer for everything. Then we didn't have the right forms. Everyone was using other forms, writing in pencil, and erasing, a big no-no for medical records. All the erasing was shaking the table and I couldn't write clearly.

Then I was in some kind of surreal ceremony, probably church. At the end of the service, some lady claimed I was an angel and wanted me to come up on stage while the reverend went on about angels. I kept slipping off the stage, so I just sat in a chair in the front. Then the reverend starting asking me about oysters. I told him I ate a lot of oysters and he wanted to know how I prepared them.

At some point in the sequence, the congregation turned around and started attacking me. I helped a little girl escape by putting on a disguise and swimming away.

Sronnoc Esor

Monday, December 04, 2006

Roomies- dream journal

I was back in college, living in the dorms at BJU, and XBFRN was my roommate. I was jealous because he was inviting some girl from down the hall over to cook dinner for her. Then there was some kind of huge mess with M&M's all over the floor and I was worried that the hall monitor would find out a boy was living in the girl's dorms and we would all be in big trouble.

Sronnoc Esor

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Ode to Elusive Peace and Quiet

We got the letter from our old landlord yesterday. He won't return our deposit and wants additional money. Apparently we wrecked the place so badly that he had to replace all the flooring. Cheap linoleum tile (over flakeboard over a damp crawl space) that kept coming up and crumbling. Carpets god knows how old that never got clean no matter how much I vaccuumed. On top of that he wants us to pay for repairs to the twenty year old dryer. jc wants to take him to small claims court to get our money back. I just want a place to live where no one can bother me.

We still don't know whether we can break a lease and therefore buy a house. First the landlady was offering us money to get out ASAP. Now, I wonder if her sale has gone through, since she's back to telling us we can stay out the lease. It makes me wonder if her sale has gone through. As someone at work wisely pointed out, the potential buyer hasn't been through the house again. Who would buy a home without seeing it at least twice? I just want a place to live where no one can bother me.