Thursday, November 27, 2008


So here it is Thanksgiving Morn. I got home an hour ago -- at 6:30 in the morning! -- from tending to the livestock. Ebby's still nowhere to be found, but since she's a cat, I have faith in her survival. Back on the homestead, Mittens and Pook engaged in some hissing, which at least means that Pook came out of the bedroom. She ate a crispy leaf from last week's lily which the cleaning lady must have missed. I trust it was nutritious and not poisonous.

But Thanksgiving ... The trouble with gratitude, for me, is that I have to think about to whom or what I'm grateful, and then I get into a whole big icky thing about my Christian upbringing. I have to wonder if there is a god. If I make the mistake of going to a 12-step meeting, I'll have to hear All I have to know about God is that there is one and I'm not Him. Or, worse: Gratitude's an action word. No. It's a noun. Shut up.

Okay. So I am grateful that I won't be a meeting today having to listen to cliches I can't agree with. And I am grateful that my turkey's coming from a private home, not a 12-step group, although I am grateful that such a thing exists. I've eaten plenty of turkey in that setting and, for years and years, it was just fine.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, on its Heavenly album -- a gospel album they're sharing with artists as diverse as Dolly Parton and Lou Rawls -- has a song that's in Zulu, but with one of the Shambalala men smiling and saying, "Ooh! Thank You for my mind! Thank You for my soul!" I'd go along with that. There are parts of myself that simply delight me. I love that there are smells that'll stop me in my tracks, sniffing around, trying to find the source. (Since this is Thanksgiving, I'm not going to talk about the other smells that also stop me cold, like those evil Glade air "fresheners" and many perfumes; plastic, vinyl, carpet, grocery stores when you first walk in, one particular flavor of Certs that's nasty ...)

I love it that I'll see something up ahead and toy with it in my mind until I finally am able to see what it really is and then I laugh because it's sure not what I thought it was. There's a newspaper box near my laundromat that, at night, looks like a person every time I drive by.

I'm so glad that I'm able to read with huge enjoyment. I'm glad I like to dance.

I know I should talk about family, but there they are up there and here I am down here. That was a choice I made that I'm usually fine with. But next week is an open house for a niece who's down in New York from her Fairbanks home. Do I have to say "Fairbanks, Alaska"? Possibly. Fairbanks sounds like a southern city, doesn't it? I'm sorry I can't just jump in the car and be there in an hour. Well, I left my girlhood home at eighteen and never really went back. I was simply never close with my family. A lot of that was a function of drugs and alcohol and now it's too late, I think. It's never too late to be maudlin, though!

There I was, just maudlin' down the street, when up come this dog I never seen before, all crackle-eyed and bent, but smilin' just the same.

Well, and that's something else I'm grateful for: The desire to play with language!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's Raining Cats and Dogs!

When Vicki asked if I would take care of her pets while she's gone, of course I said yes. For one thing, her critters are lovable: There's no work involved. There's Boomer who's a black-and-white dog of some sort, and Sophie who's a white-and-gold dog of some other sort. The cats are Ebby and Leo of the feline sort.

Mike and I have discussed this and we agree that Leo shouldn't be named Leo. He's not golden like a lion. He's grey. We'll have to query Vicki about this upon her return. Perhaps Leo was born between July 23 and August 22. Perhaps Leo roars. Perhaps he wears a tiara.

Ebby, on the other hand, is short for Ebony, and s/he is.

These creatures are used to being fed between 5:30 and 6:30 in the morning. I say no more.

Last night, Melanie delivered Miss Pook to me. She's a gorgeous grey cat with great markings. She's also a hisser. She's dangerous in that way. She's like the Boy Who Cried Wolf or the railroad crossing I used to deal with daily. It only had the red lights, not the bars, but the lights were almost always on and a train never came. Never. But a train could come. There were the tracks, after all. So I'd have to stop and look anyhow. It used to infuriate me that I was being trained, basically, to ignore train warnings.

Pook's that way. I now view her hissings as any other cat's purrs. But someday -- hopefully not on my watch -- her hiss just might be meaningful.

Now, I don't know if Miss Pook is her whole name or if Melanie's just being respectful. Sometimes Melanie calls me Miss Barbara, which seems Southern and sweet and yet somehow appalling. I fear it's an age-related title, but I can't be sure.

Mike, because he's basically perverse, insists on calling my guest Mister Pook. Lee, ever the gentleman, refuses to pick sides. He refers to her as the Hon. Pook.

Mittens, my own inordinately beloved cat, is not a fan of Pook no matter what title is used. Mittens would rather see Pook to go sea in a beautiful pea-green coffin. This morning, Pook was in the bedroom doorway hissing at Mittens, and I'm quite sure it was a valid hiss. Mittens was ten feet away, matching hiss for hiss. She was willing to be interrupted for fish, though, so I think everything will be okay.

Benji and Sunny, Mike's dogs who come over every day, don't care one way or the other about Msrh. Pook.

* * *

Saturday I'm going to be a vendor at Sacred Lands ( I'm told that the path through those beautiful woods is a tear-shaped loop and I'll be in the pointy part. I'm also told that it's the BAD place to be because it's farthest from the music. Excellent. I love music (who doesn't?) but I'd rather focus on it instead of have it as background.

Please come out and spend your Christmas money there instead of at Target, okay? It'll be all one-of-a-kind stuff, plus there's the aforementioned music, and food, although I don't know what kind. It's not only a great alternative to the Black Friday madness (especially since it's on SATURDAY), but it's a way to support Sacred Lands, too. If being an outdoor vendor could ever be relaxing, this would be the place for it. Peacocks and hens are strolling around, including a pair of white ones. The noise from Park Street, the brick part, doesn't penetrate. It's beautiful. Show up. 1700 Park Street North. Nine to six.

Among other things, I'll be selling Shonda's African-American lesbian coming-of-age, coming-out-of-the-closet novel.

Since there's an Indian mound at Sacred Lands that's being excavated, there will be Indian things, too. And Native American things. And First American things. Yep. Michele said she's heard that title, too.

Let me tell you about some flute music I bought at SPIFFS (St. Petersburg International Folk Fair S-- ... Society? Shindig? Shenanigans?). The CD said "Native American Flute Music," so I bought it. Hah! It was "Native South American Flute Music." So I wonder if it should be First North Americans?

Speaking of labels, there's an opportunity to add labels for this post, but I don't know why I should. Do you?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shoot Me Now

Go to that link to see a little interview with Diane Hammond, who wrote Hannah's Dream. I watched the interview and am eager to spread the word about that book. So I hit COMMENT. But I can't leave a comment without being a member of MySpace.

I remember a former co-worker (and you know who you are) forcing me to join MySpace just so I could go look at HisSpace which, no offense, wasn't that interesting. That was several years ago. I received way too many emails from "Tom." I'd get so excited because I thought it was my brother Tom in Austin, from whom I hear almost nothing. But it was from some bogus cyber personality who isn't even a real person. "Tom" is the Customer Service Department at MySpace, and they're getting no prizes from me.

But fine. I want to support Hannah's Dream and her creator, so, god help me, I signed up again at MySpace because you didn't think I'd remember my password from all those years ago, did you? And I was happy (not) to go along with the whole thing. You want my school, even though that was forty years ago? Fine. I'll give you my school. But first I must pick my "city" in New York.

It's not listed.

Come on. It's got its own ZIP code (14550). It's true that the only traffic light is always blinking yellow on the drive-through side and always blinking red on the village side, but hey! it's got a library!

But that's part of the trouble, too. Even if Silver Springs (pop. 726) were listened in the drop-down menu, there would be no school. It's a centralized school, serving five villages and all the farms in between, and it's in Gainesville (pop. 300), not Silver Springs. Well, okay. It's in the middle of a potato field outside of Gainesville, but still ...

Okay. So I continued without my school. I even uploaded the grossly inaccurate but lovely photo that I use here on my blog. I worked my way back to the site of the Hammond interview. I prepared to comment.

Alas. I'm not the friend of whoever posted that interview. And I don't know how to become her friend. Oh boo hoo.

You can't holler down our rain barrel. You can't climb our cherry tree. You can't do something else but I can't remember what it is unless it's got something to do with sliding down our cellar door but that doesn't rhyme. If you won't be good to me.

Do you remember that song? Me neither (clearly). But that's how MySpace makes me feel. I picture a chubby little girl -- no more than six -- in a stiff, fifties dress, hands on hips, pouting and telling me I can't be her friend.

A pox on YourSpace!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saffron Bread! Mmmm?

I just read a recipe for Saffron Bread. Now, my mom was a fairly mediocre cook, although she did manage to get supper on the table for seven people every single night, which I can't even do for one person one night every seven months. She was a good baker, though, and one time, in about 1966, I think, she made Saffron Bread for my French class because we had learned that France exports that spice. The bread was just white bread with lovely saffron in it. Oh, it was delicious!

Well, the recipe I read was on Studio @ 620's website, They're having a Sankta Lucia celebration, a Swedish celebration. I can't really picture St. Pete as having any particular ethnic group in abundance, unless people from Ohio are considered a tribe, but if I could, Swedes wouldn't have sprung to mind. I mean, do you even know a Swede? a Norwegian? a Finn? Of course you don't! That's why Garrison Keillor's so funny on A Prairie Home Companion! He can make fun of all those Scandinavians because no one even knows one. You don't have to worry about offending anyone at work if you repeat a joke from the show because no one's Swedish anyhow.

Okay. I admit I married a full-blooded Swede and we did, in fact, live in Minnesota where they really do talk like the people in Fargo. I think the worst thing about those four years was that no one knew Italians enough to even insult us. Wop meant nothing to them. Guinea was half a rodent. When the in-laws came to dinner, I'd make Italian meatballs the size of your head, just to rub it in about their teeny-weenie little bitty Swedish meatballs. Really. Why bother with a meatball the size of a Milk Dud?

This recipe tells us to divide the dough into THIRTY pieces. Are they kidding? Then we're to roll those thirty bits into "traditional shapes." Hmm. Whose tradition? The Swedes'? What would that be? Lutheran Churches? Lingonberries? Cheese? Well, raisins follow, in any event, on top of those shapes.

And then -- and this part really wobbles the mind -- we're to bake these things for FIVE MINUTES. Okay. If you're not a reader, you've hated the last couple of blogs. And if you're not a baker, you're already hating this one. But really. What bakes for FIVE MINUTES? Nothing. Nothing bakes for five minutes. Banana bread is an HOUR. Even chocolate chip cookies are eight minutes. But FIVE minutes for a yeast-bread?

Do you think this is a Swedish joke I'm just not getting?

Okay. One (1) time I baked one (1) thing for five (5) minutes.

I quit smoking on July 5, 1992, and I was determined to not gain any weight because of that. I signed up for aerobics classes at the old YMCA downtown. I bought a pretty white leotard but no one ever saw it. I wore it under baggy tee shirts. Well, one day when I was headed for the Y again, I saw that the leotard had not quite dried from the day before. No problem. I tossed it in a Teflon-covered cake pan and put it in the oven at 250, just about the lowest you can go. It was sort of a stationary dryer. It was a good idea. Except that it wasn't. It started melting at about five minutes as you see from the photographic evidence presented here.

I'll let you know if I bake that bread. I know that saffron is about a thousand dollars just to look at. In fact, the recipe calls for a gram of it. Who cooks in grams?

Those freakin' Swedes ...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

That Funny Sentence

I'm sorry! Until FlaHoos mentioned it in person this morning, I didn't even realize that my Devoted Readers may have been living in eager suspense, waiting, as author Diane Hammond did, to hear that funny sentence from Hannah's Dream. I fear that you had to be there, or that the preceding pages are required for context. Therefore, I'll copy that sentence and the one that follows it to end the paragraph, and you'll just have to chuckle or not.

Well, the setup is that Truman, a single father, is home with a cold, and a fellow zoo employee has offered to bring him some soup. The Oat Maiden was a cafe several blocks from the zoo and, from what Truman could deduce, it specialized in dishes made with obscure grains, husks, stems, hulls, rinds, and pith. He was too sick to care.

This afternoon I finished another book I absolutely recommend: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a collaboration between aunt and niece, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It's a slice of World War II and a slice of love and much, much more. Just read it.

The story does tell of many of the atrocities of war. It's another book that made me laugh and cry. But, really, why do we keep having wars if we all know that War is hell, that War is not the answer? Why do wars continue? I've never read a book about a soldier who couldn't wait for another war to attend. Certainly young men have often been eager to go to war, but that's before they've actually gone. Once they've gone, they seem to cool down about it.

The book talked about slaves during WWII -- young boys from Poland, forced to work, unfed, until they died from exhaustion, but no matter: there's more where that came from. In fact, death by exhaustion was part of the plan. As a Good American, I tend to think of slaves only in terms of Negro Slaves in the colonies and later in the states. I have to feel guilty, even though neither Nicolazzos nor Huckabones were here in time to own slaves and probably wouldn't have had enough money anyhow. I'd like to think we wouldn't have had the heart for it, either.

Despite these topics, the book was funny and charming and hopeful. I already drink my coffee from pretty blue-and-white cups and saucers -- quite like a lady, thank you -- but this book made me want to drink tea from same. Well, it does take place in the mid-forties in England. I wanted a blouse with ruffles and maybe a shawl.

Probably the best book on WWII I've read was by Marge Piercy, Gone to Soldiers. That'll make you a peacenik. Hopefully.

But whether to war or not is hardly nattering, is it?

I had a little insight this morning that just makes me feel stupid, but there it is. I was at Hank's funeral. I'd like to say, "We buried Hank this morning" because that sounds so ... romantic? It also somehow sounds real, if the two can be mixed. I wish we had buried Hank this morning. I wish we'd been out in the cold sun, wind thrashing our clothes while the pastor's words were whipped from his mouth and the casket was lowered. That's how you know someone has really died. But that's not what we do anymore, so, okay: I was at Hank's memorial service today. Everyone who met him liked him; many loved him. He was bright and funny and kind. Well, a stroke knocked him out and so he retired. He was plenty old enough to retire -- he just hadn't gotten around to it.

Much as I enjoyed his company at work, I never visited him or called him after he retired. When I myself, ah, became unemployed, I had plenty of time and no excuses, but I simply didn't visit him. He was close by, too. I just didn't do it.

So when I heard of his death, of course I felt bad. What a selfish creature I'd been! I could have brightened up some of his last remaining days but no! I was too busy overeating and reading and blogging and stuff. No time for old friends!

"Well," I told people, "at least it wasn't my own father I'd ignored. It was someone else's father." Heh. Aren't I clever?

But the insight was this: I had missed having my days brightened by not going to visit Hank. I had fallen into the pit of erroneous thought. I had thought that, what? retired people are suddenly no longer interesting? People who've had strokes are somehow, um, invalid? I was a Little Red Riding Hood, strolling off through the forest to bring succor to someone who, I realized this morning, could have brought me some muffins, too.

Have I muddled the metaphors enough?

I thought so.

I'm going to try to limit my book talk to simply mentioning what I just read, who wrote it, and whether I like it. Okay? That way, you non-readers out there (and you know who you are) won't be yawning so much.

In half an hour, I'll head over to Mike's so I can greet Sunny and Benji and Rico, Rudy, Telshe, Mo, and Benny, and pick the human up to take to John and Janet's, where we will gorge ourselves on a fabulous home-cooked meal (something I often long for) and then pull our over-stuffed selves into the TV room for a movie. Halfway through that, there will be a break for some indulgent dessert surely accompanied by huge mounds of ice cream. Will the previous overeating cause even the smallest refusal from any of us? Will just one of us protest wethinks we doth devour too much? Will there be a whimper of unwillingness?


Friday, November 21, 2008

Picture Blog

I just realized this afternoon that I have SIX mailboxes on posts here in Gulfport -- that is, six working mailboxes. This is in addition to the one on St. Pete Beach that I showed here on October 23, and the three that people bought in Kentucky. Anyway, it suddenly seemed so amazing to me that I got Benji and my camera and drove around town to take pictures of all of them. I really appreciate the people who appreciate my boxes. I'm glad they don't need dolphins or palm trees or other touristy items ... not that there's anything wrong with dolphins, palm trees, or tourists. I was once one myself (palm tree, not dolphin).

Here's another amazing thing. Liz Armstrong placed her book, The Little Bastard Won't Bite ... and everything else your pet sitter needs to know in Haslam's Bookstore. Yes! That's really something. Usually they won't accept self-published books but that's because they don't usually see The Little Bastard ... So run right down there and get a copy or two. Or go to and order online. Yours truly designed it inside and out, and typeset it, too, but that's completely incidental to the entertaining writing by Liz that makes the book. Since this is the Picture Blog, let's have a picture of the star, shall we?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Barbara's Book Nook

I recently read Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez. A Michigander (I think), Deborah goes to Afghanistan and starts a beauty school there. The cover's great and there's a long poem by Farida Alimi at the beginning, which makes the memoir look like a piece of fine literature, but in the end, Debby's a gum-chewin' hair-cuttin' partyin' kind of gal. I didn't like the writing much, despite the fact that it was written "with" Kristin Ohlson. I did, however, like the vision of Kabul. I liked seeing the lives of some women. I liked seeing the streets. So I recommend it.

And I just finished Hannah's Dream by Diane Hammond. This I recommend highly for its humor, story, and characters. It doesn't really matter what the story is about. That I recommend it ought to be enough for you, don't you think? I laughed out loud (LOL for you youngsters) in several places and cried in another. I also wrote a postcard to a friend, copying down one of the funniest sentences I've ever read. Not only was my computer in the shop that day (those days) but my friend doesn't have a computer herself anyway.

What I did find interesting is that we had a set of lesbians whose lesbianism lent absolutely nothing to the story. They were treated with respect. There was no elbow-poking. But they could just as easily have been a straight couple. There were some black people, too, who didn't have to be black to move the story along. Their race was incidental. They were like, um, that deaf actress in What the Bleep Do We Know? There was no reason for her to be deaf. A hearing person would have filled the role just as nicely. But how cool that a deaf woman was used and no mention was made of it.

The next time I'm in a bookstore, I'll be looking for more of Diane Hammond.

Do you remember doing book reports in school? I don't. I mean, I remember they were assigned, and I have no doubt that I completed all my assignments. I just don't remember them. I know I don't like doing them. I want to say to a reading friend, "Oh! you've got to read this book!" and I want her to say, "Okay!" or even "Yes, Boss," as Sonny Fenwick says ( If you say, "What's it about?" all you're going to get from me is, "Read it and find out!"

In the end, you see, it doesn't matter to me what the book's "about," even if I could figure it out. Look at Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer. Was that about predators? Was it about being a Jew among Christians, a northerner among southerners? Was it about widowhood? Moths? Sex? Who cares? Read it and find out!

No. I care about how it's written. If the answer is well, then I'll read it. That's why I've stuck with Stephen King all these years -- first because he was so fine and then because he was so fine. I still have hope for him. Dumas Key may have signaled his return.

I can read poorly written books, of course, but I prefer not to. I was in my late thirties before I realized that I didn't have to finish a book just because I'd started it. Oh freedom! Now I tell myself -- and you -- that I'll give a writer sixty pages, but the truth is that that depends on other factors, too. For instance, do I have another, better book in the wings? Did someone I love recommend it? Am I talking to it? That's a real clue there. If I'm quivering with righteous indignation at least once per chapter, I'm going to finish it just so I can whine and bristle later, shaking my head, stomping my foot at the idiocy of that misbegotten son or daughter of an illiterate anti-semantic.

I recently read a book by Nicholas Sparks. My only other choices at that time were Ken Follet's World Without End, which was too big for my mood (although I know I'll love it when I get to it), and Native Son by Richard Wright, which I assumed would be too gruesome and possibly boring. I often find classics boring. So I was stuck with this Sparks book. Between my Jordanian neighbor's too-loud music and Sparks's vapid writing, I couldn't concentrate. So I started reading out loud (ROL) with an accent, and I found I could get through it. The accent is just a mash of dialects I've heard or wished I'd heard, but it entertained me enough to get into the story a bit. The writing later got really bad, but I finished it, talking to it the whole time. I felt guilty putting the book into the charity pile, but many people obviously like this guy.

It's like Danielle Steele. She's wildly popular. I can't imagine why. I read one of her books, oh, maybe seventeen years ago. It occurred to me that I'd been trashing her -- at least in my own head -- for a long time but I'd never actually read anything of hers. And as some of my Devoted Readers know, the principle most calculated to keep a person in everlasting ignorance is the principle of contempt prior to investigation. Investigate I did. In fact, come to think of it, that's how I arrived at my sixty-page limit for idiot writers. I ploughed my way through those sixty pages. I labored. Ah. It's all coming back to me. My god! I owe a debt to Mrs. Steele! She's the one who taught me that I don't have to waste my time with a bad book!

Anyway, at page sixty, she had a man doing something that was unbelievable. I don't remember what it was. I just remember that I couldn't believe it. I said out loud (SOL), "There's no way he'd act like that!" and I threw the book down.

I believe that in my heart, I'd always wanted to "throw a book down," just like, really, I'd like to spit on someone. I wouldn't want it to be a big production. No hawking, just disdain, just a snide, nasty little spit. To prove a point.

I stayed away from Joyce Carol Oates for years and years because I thought she was a romance writer. Why? Because she's so prolific and she has so many names! Sometimes I'm such an idiot.

I have a friend, a writer, who actually never finishes a book. I don't understand this at all. If I ever interviewed him on his own blog, that would be my first question.

Me: So tell me, Bob, why don't you ever finish reading a book?

Here's what I'd like you all to do, to sort of gear up for the holidays, with a cheerful nod toward togetherness. Name one or two of your Desert-Island Books. Just leave a comment with a couple of your favorite re-readable books, okay?
  • Lamb by Christopher Moore
  • The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker
  • The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Hey! I said one or two, okay? Jeeze!

  • Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

Stop it!

  • All of the Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith

I mean it! God.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


My computer returned! It was gone a mere SIXTEEN DAYS. The power supply blew up or broke down or scrabbled at its throat and fell over or whatever it is that power supplies do when they die. It took the motherboard with it. It would have been an easy fix had I been willing to lose my programs. Alas, since I was a pirate in my other life, I couldn't let that happen. So a new motherboard of a specific kind was ordered. It arrived but it was flawed, if Metria was correct, or it was the wrong one, if Jeannie is correct. There was no rush put on the delivery of the second motherboard because it would have cost another hundred dollars.

What? Do you believe that? Neither do I.

The delay in delivery was attributed in part to Veterans' Day and the closing of the post office. But the part was delivered by UPS.

Are you starting to feel my pain?

But why dwell on it? I did get my computer back on Saturday. However, it took three trips to the shop to get everything right, because apparently that dramatic power supply up there in the first paragraph also grabbed the keyboard and mouse on its way out. Or down. Or up.

I bought the one keyboard they had at Gulfport Technology Center, a twenty-dollar thing whose sound I didn't like. I could have come to live with that, to even like it perhaps, but it was stingy with the U and sometimes Y. I had to go back and add those characters, or stay there and smack the key a couple of times. It was unbearable, so I bore it not. I went on errands with Mike and Benji on Sunday, and we bought a Wireless, Optical Desktop Set.

So far, I'm not reaping the benefits of wireless. Or maybe the plusses so subtle that, like, say, a vitamin, I'm benefiting without knowing why. What I see is that I've lost one wire and gained a thing. I'm not impressed. But that seems to be the way of the world, so here I am with my Wireless, Optical Desktop Set.

The lefthanded shift sticks. I have to keep going back and capitalizing things. If this keeps up, perhaps I'll learn to start sentences only with words that start with letters on the lefthand side of the keyboard.

The question is: Shall I return this whole mess because of a sticky shift key? Well, I've already had to go back and fix two things in the first sentence, so the answer is yes. I'd like to call and get smiling permission to merely bring in the offending keyboard, not its mouse and receiver. I also want to keep my batteries, which took more than TWELVE HOURS to charge ... unless the little it's-still-charging light is a liar.

But let's go back to Metria. When I first saw her, I felt like I was in the presence of a marvelous mythical creature. She is so clearly a man. She walks like a man, talks like a man. She's got man hands. But she's so clearly a woman. She has, if not breasts, at least a bustline. She has girly blond hair. Her eyes -- Mediterranean blue -- seem feminine.

If she's a transvestite, Patrick Swayze would be rolling over in his grave if he were dead, which he isn't. No. I'm pretty sure Metria's a transsexual and is simply lacking funds to make the transition.

It's hard to speak of her as a she, though, especially when most of our contact has been on the phone. She's entirely manly there. And when I went to pick up my computer, she offered to carry it to the car for me. I hesitated. If she were a woman, I'd carry it myself. But if she's a man, hell, let him carry it.

And what about his partner Jeannie? Is she is life partner or his business partner? If life, then Metria really is a lesbian trapped in a man's body.

It's very confusing to me. I wonder if it's confusing to Metria. I'll bet not. I'll bet if she listens to herself, and not to her culture, she's knows exactly who she is. And, oddly, none of that is my business. It's of interest because I tend to be curious, but that's all.

I want to recommend them as a place to do business, but I just can't.

I'll be at the Wednesday Midday Market at Williams Park tomorrow from 11 to 2. You heard me: three whole hours. I've already decided against bringing ANY papier-mache, and I'll only display tee shirts on hangers swinging from the canopy; I won't bother with the garment rack. I won't bring all the tees, either. That's just too short a time.

I'll be someplace on Black Saturday -- Sacred Lands or downtown Gulfport. December 6 is a sale at St. Vincent's on Ninth Street. I think it's an Episcopal church. I hope so, because that gives me the opportunity to remind you that when you rearrange the letters in "Episcopal," you get "Pepsi Cola." The makers of that fine beverage would insist on the hyphen (or is that just me?) but they're not going to get it. I'll be in Tampa on December 13 at WMNF's fund-raising holiday bazaar.

Last Saturday was another beautiful drumming session with Buddy Helm ( I wish I could describe what goes on, but I can't. I know I sway from trance to grin. I know I can look up and laugh and someone else is laughing, too. I know I feel joy there. I don't know where else I have felt that. Ever.

He'll be back at The Longhouse in January, but he may be at other local venues before then.

On Thursday, Jill and Marty and their daughter Riva are returning to perhaps finish painting their van. Jill has given me permission to blog about it, but I won't. It's been too traumatic. People in my house! People in my space! Everywhere people! But I will include a picture.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Look Out! Look Out! Look OUT!

I've never liked it when someone tells me to Be Careful or Have A Safe Trip. I don't like the implied danger. I think you're calling down the unwanted attention of the Gods of Mishap when you warn someone. When I'd leave my girlhood home -- for an evening or a year -- my parents would say, "Goodbye, good luck, and God bless you." I like that. I don't like, "Drive carefully."

I remember having a dream in '85, the year I moved to Florida. Someone in the dream told me not to be careful, to just go out and live. It made me feel so free and happy.

Advice given in dreams, of course, is forty times more profound than that given in Real Life.

So look at this little wooden stool I bought (and if I had my own computer back, I would show you a picture, but since I don't, I won't, but I swear I'm not actually mentioning my lack of computer yet another time). I drove over my other one after I painted Mark's car. The word smithereens actually sprang to mind as I viewed the splintered wreck. Now we're painting Jill's van and I'm so happy to have found this new stool. It's perfect. It's a sturdy little thing with a big slot in the middle for easy pick-up. There are two big screws on each of four sides. That's a hardy little fellow, isn't it?

But look at the label on the underside:
  • Use this product only for seating one person at a time.
  • Do not use this chair unless all bolts and screws are firmly secured.
  • At least every 4 months, check all bolts and screws to be sure they are tight.
  • Chair is not recommended for outdoor use.
  • Failure to follow these warnings could result in serious injury.

Of course, what they really mean is, "Failure to follow these warnings could result in a lawsuit against us; hence the wordy warning on a freeping stool fer crissake!"

That they refer to a stool as a chair is painful to me. That they think -- even as a joke -- that I'd check all bolts and screws is boggling. There's even a further warning down at the bottom of the label, a reiteration of the bolt-and-screw thing, but this time, just to really capture my attention, they've switched the order of the hardware.


I'm not sure how to use a stool -- let alone a chair -- as step ladder, but if I were, Jill wouldn't have to bring over her step-stool tomorrow so we can reach the top of her van.

Well, at least the stool and/or chair was made in Malaysia, not China ...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pray for Me in My Time of Need

I'm still without a computer. This is really starting to interfere with my life. I thought I'd make some Indian papier-mache things -- because I might go to the Sacred Lands show on Black Friday and because I simply won't call Indians Native Americans -- but I realized I'd need the internet to search out some designs and meanings I like.

I see that I've missed all the happy faces at Obama's election, and thought that, despite owning no television, I could check 'em out online. Oh. Right. No computer.

I wonder if XX got the check for the building of my website. I can just log on to my Regions account and -- oh. Right.

When I bought my first crock pot, I was living in Western New York, in the winter, when power outages are not uncommon. I was also boiling water for coffee (an essential nutrient) and pouring it into the Melitta cone-filter-drip setup. So I got to thinking that, with my new crock pot, I was all set for outages -- I could heat up the water in the crock pot instead of on the stove top.

Well, that's how it is without a computer. I'm so used to the thing that I keep heading for my desk, forgetting that it's unavailable. Can't use the computer? That's okay -- I'll watch a movie!

Oh. Right.

So it's sad times here in Gulfport. The motherboard arrived, but it's flawed. They're sending another one but apparently they haven't heard of overnight express, because I'll get my computer Monday. Or Tuesday. But Tuesday, it turns out, is a holiday. Yep. Veterans' Day. That's hard to remember. We went right from Halloween to Christmas, if the decor at Walgreens is any indication, yet Veteran's Day is in there somewhere (not to mention Thanksgiving), shutting down the post office for a day -- the day my motherboard would have arrived.

This is depressing to me. The only thing I can do is eat ice cream and send you to my website, on the off chance you haven't been there yet. In the meantime, if any of you Catholics out there (and you know who you are) have invented a saint for electronics, please tell me about him. And you know it's a him.

Back to the Indians ... Long ago, I was reading an article about something in some magazine (just to be specific). The term indie was used and I didn't immediately know what it meant. Ah. I finally figured out that it meant independent, but goddess forbid we should use a whole big word. That would be like spelling out WTF, and we'll have none of that. Those were the days before everyone had a computer but as you see, the language was already being truncated, preparing itself for emails and text messaging.

Anyway, I decided then and there that I simply wasn't interested in being cool anymore. Don't get me wrong. I'd never actually been cool. It had been a consideration, though, something I aimed at or at least hoped for. Well, I realized at indie that I simply didn't care anymore. It was too much hassle to keep up. It's not important.

So when it became clear that "Native American" was the phrase to use, I knew I didn't want to. Let the generation after me call them that. I'm too tired to be bothered with new words for old things for no apparent reason.

Ditto "African-American," unless you're like Obama, an actual African-American. "Black" is good enough. "Afro-American" will even do. But "African-American"? Can't make me. No one's calling me an Italian-American, let alone an Italian-Irish-Swedish-German-American.

So now maybe I'm understanding the middle-aged people in the sixties who didn't want to switch from "colored" to "Afro-American" or "black." They weren't being racist. They were just being middle-aged. They were starting to get tired.

I can't bear "people of color" replacing "colored people." I just don't get the difference. How can one be an insult and the other not? I admit that "people of color" sure sounds romantic. And it could include me, too, couldn't it?

No. I've already gone from colored to Afro-American. I'm not also going to African-American, and I'm not changing to Native American. I'm just not.

This won't, I assure you, make me stop referring to grown human females as "women." It won't keep me from harping at you to refer to us as such. I won't come to think "girl" and "woman" are the same.

I'm not that tired.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Kibbles and Bits

Well, let's start off with some sad reality, shall we? My computer is in the hospital. Metria down at the Gulfport Technology Center is taking care of it, hoping for a complete recovery by Wednesday. But this, you see, is only Monday. I'm at my buddy Mike's shack down at the Boca Ciega Resorts, which sounds a lot more ... resortic than it is, also more plural. But that's another blog.

Judging from the lawn signs in my neighborhood, it looks like a landslide for Century 21 ...

My friend Wayne Clark died last Saturday. He was too young, of course. Lung cancer. Harlan County, Kentucky. He was a huge smoker of most smokable products, but he'd also worked in the mines. Mainly, though, he was a big romantic figure from my girlhood and I've decided he shall remain there. Whenever I hear I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, I'll grin and think of Wayne when he was thirteen, balanced on a ladder, strumming his guitar, taking a break from our silly badminton games, which we played all summer long. Well, it was only "all two weeks long," but that fortnight in Kentucky was the high point of my childhood and it seemed like it lasted a year. Wayne was a huge part of it. I'm never really sure what "sardonic" means, but I have no doubt that that describes his smile. Described. Described his smile.

It's hard, at first, to talk about dead people. I remember wondering if I could still love my dad, even though he was dead. It seemed impossible to do that. I felt I had to say it in the past tense, since he was past.

Well, I heard from another classmate I haven't seen since 1968 who couldn't make it to the reunion. He lives in Florida. There's talk of the six or seven of us Floridians getting together.

Wow. I was getting ready to be way too sad for blogging when Rico jumped up on the desk. No. Rico's not some Latino from my sordid past. He's one of Mike's cats, or at least a cat Mike thinks might be his. Rico's a sharp, clean, black-and-white short-hair with a voice you can hear three houses away. Hence his name -- for Enrico Caruso. We called him The Opera Cat until Mike acquired his contract.

As I type, his tail -- Rico's, not Mike's -- is flopping onto the keyboard, then off. On. Off. On. Off.

I'm taking that as a sign to go home and paint something.

Here's a modern Murphy's Law. Ideas for fun blogs come as fast as rain in July in Gulfport, as long as one's computer is out of commission. We all know that typing on someone else's computer is, well, sufficient, but only barely. Hah! but wait till Thursday. THEN there'll be some bloggin' goin' on!

Except for a modern Murphy's Law which states that fun ideas for blogs only come when one's computer is down ...