Dear Dear Diary
I have flannel. With little rubber ducks and bubbles, and some purple, and some kitties in pajamas. My regular sewing machine is misbehaving, and I'm going to send the Bernette back to the shop for a tune up. That leaves me with the Iron Monster that Gram gave me, or if I can wait another two days, the new machine that I sprang for with Gram's money. I don't remember if Gram got the Iron Monster in a sale or if it was Meme's machine. I beleive it's the latter. Meme is my other grandmother, who died about 6 years ago. Gram has an Iron Monster too- same year and model- 1949 Wards. Mine ate my thumb a few years ago, and I'm leery of it now. But I know I'll make sure it's working and usable. It's great for serious stitching in bulk.
This means of course that I have a flannel quilt to make. I've been "borrowing" the baby quilt I made for the newest neice, but since she hasn't been born yet, she won't mind if the cats and I test it out. But I need to make my own. I think it's time.
And I need to get more batting. I found some other fabric to use, and I can make some smaller things. They won't take much, but I'll feel better for doing it. I'll be able to embroider labels, and that's a neat and useful feature.
"I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers."
I always hated that Tennessee Williams quote. That character when it was written was a terrible stereotype, and it hasn't gotten better with time. (Streetcar Named Desire, for the curious, but I assume y'all's been educated).
Yesterday, I drove off to the wilds of Rochester through ice and snow and heavy wind... and exploded a tire in the first hour of the trip. I got out the manual and proceded to do what I could, and quickly got stumped by a diagram, which frustrates me to no end as I used to write technical manuals for a living and do better at reading diagrams than a lot of people. I swore then and there that the next time I'm buying a damn vehicle, I'm making that dealer show me every jacking point on the vehicle, and not just "where the jack is" and if he assures me I'll never need to know where the damn jack is again, I'm taking his ass to court. I did not buy a vehicle from the ass who would not let me put the tailgate up myself, "because it would be too heavy for me to do." I did ask him who the heck did he think was going to be doing it on a daily basis?
I did, before getting out of the car, attempt to call AAA. There's a reason why I have AAA, and this is a huge part of it. But you can't dial a number if the battery in the cell phone is dead, and for that reason alone I was very angry with myself. I am now going to keep the charger for the phone in my purse, but that's not going to be helpful still in this sort of situation.
I had backed up about 500 yards on the bare rim so that I would be on a convenient exit ramp for a closed rest area. This gave me a little bit of safety room so I didn't have to worry so much about getting hit by a semi going 65+.
I did watch in joy when a semi did come to a stop in front of me and also back up the ramp to get closer to me. Well, okay, it wasn't complete joy. I thought of Earl, one of our oldest friends of Jazz and myself back from our dating days. He probably did drive a truck for a while, always had a CB radio, and knew more about cars than my da, and my da can probably fix about anything with ductape. I thought about too many New Detectives TV shows where the bad guy was a trucker who got girls into their trailer and then did terrible things before killing them. I thought about how wide open the field was to my right and how long of a walk to the nearest exit and/or house, even though staying with the car is 95% of the time the best option. I thought about the quilting show where the lady quilts in the back of the cab while her husband drives and all of the truckers with dogs on shows I've seen. Overall, the impression of what ought to step out of the cab was pretty hopeful. Although, it was a petroleum truck, so part of me cringed about *that* load of baggage.
I got Claude. He was very reminiscent of Earl. SCraggly beard, weatherbeaten face, and a real smile that reached his eyes. I had impressed him by grabbing the manual and showing him where I was trying to put the jack, and he said to me, "You aren't one of them independent women, are you?" And I smiled, as he intended, and I said, "Yes, sir, yes I am." And we did together work on changing the tire. I hated the fact that I probably would not have been able to tighten the lug nuts so well, or have the strength to lever them off. And we talked for a bit about his dad who is the town historian for a place not too far away, and my interest in medieval history. I thanked him sincerely, and we parted ways.
Overall, I felt very lucky for being so stupid. The rest of the day went pretty well, and I'm glad of that. Coming home was no trouble, despite the horrible blowing snow. But it's good to be home... and now I need to remember to go get a new spare.
Thanks, Claude, wherever you are.
The Sword of State is in my living room.
This is a very nice broadsword in a carved wooden scabbard that belongs to the kingdom of Æthelmearc, part of the SCA, a historical recreation society. To anyone outside of the society, it's just a really nice broadsword, a decoration yet with a useable age and weight (if your built stronger than me- my own sword is closer to my weight-handling ability). Airport security would freak if I tried to sneak this onto a plane. And if I tried to carry it as a concealed weapon and was caught, I'd still be doing time. Yes, if someone broke in tonight and I defended myself and my home with it, there'd be a lot of weird questions to answer. And yes, it's very servicible to the task.
But to the society, and in particular our imaginary kingdom, this is the thing held only by Kings. It is on par with Excaliber. This is the sword used for the making of knights, and the swearing of oaths of fealty- the very symbol of honor for which our society stands. It is very heavy indeed in the metaphorical sense. I too have knelt before it and my king and queen, held them all in sweaty palms and made my promises. It cuts to the very quick of what we are supposed to be about. It makes me think of Duty, both imagined and real. I know full well that Real comes before Play, as is proper, but I relish the duality of my gaze upon this sword.
And it makes me wish there was a very real sword of state in the White House. For all I know, we have several lying about. But none have the meaning and weight of a sword such as this. What reminds Bush of his duty? Of his honor? Of his oaths? I cannot feel it's his bible, which every president has sworn upon (because of course, they haven't used the same one). What he does is not Christian in my view. And perhaps it is not Christian of me to judge him either. But I would certainly sleep better tonight, with the Sword of State in my living room, if Mr. Bush slept nearer to his.
Eating the whole tube of cookie dough makes me feel like a fat slob.
Cooking the whole tube of cookie dough and eating all of the cookies makes me feel like I've accomplished something.
See? Cooking is worth while.
The conversations I have in my head are always funnier than the ones I have with other people present.
Just a couple of days ago, I was running out to buy packing tape. When conveying this to my sweetie, I wanted to add the line AND A GUN! but somehow, I worried that he might think I'm serious. There's just something about buying a lot of packing tape that makes me think bullets were some how required in the need for that much packing tape, not that I would actually shoot a living being or know anyone I would mail a carcus to. But it's funny. And I feel better for saying that.
Have a cookie. :)
and I dreamed...
My family was visiting a resort. I was a teenaged girl. My brother was back to being my little brother. He kept going on and on about his imaginary friend Eleanor. I went along with it- never seeing her, but she apparently helped me find stuff, I'd ask out loud where X is, and it would be there when I looked down.
Then the other teenaged girls at the mall started to die. This mall used to be a factory, converted to shops. Eleanor started telling us who was next so we could try to stop it. But then my name was carved into the skin of my arm- Joan- and I knew I was next.
I gathered all of the rest of the girls in the same room-the room Eleanor directed us to. We nervously played cards and waited and discussed how we refused to die any more and wanted to know what was going on. Then one of the girls suggested a seance. As soon as we started to get ready, a man broke into the room. He confessed all to us... and we saw what happened. A woman was on the table- only more of teen girl like me. She was trying to give birth and having a difficult time. The man stepped into the scene overlapping in time. He tried to save her, tried to save the baby, and failed.
The man broke down before us. "It's undone. Take your friends and leave."
My friends left, one by one, looks of horror on their faces. I waited.
The dead girls materialized and came back to life, and also walked away. I waited.
"Where's Eleanor?" I demanded.
"Don't you get it?" he cried out. "Eleanor was on the table. She is the only one you can't save. And you can't save me either."
As I walked out, one of the candles fell over, and I knew the place would burn and purify, and it would be over. I would miss Eleanor.
Instead of ranting about how horrifically busy I've been this week, I'm going to just quietly hope this week will be better. And pass this horrible joke on to you:
HEALTH QUESTION & ANSWER SESSION
Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.
Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.
Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!
Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.
Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain...Good!
Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!!... Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?
Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.
Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: Are you crazy? HELLO . Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!
Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.
Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!
Honestly, I think the worse day of the year is Not Valentine's Day when you have nobody special. Sometimes I don't think it's Kissmoose when you have no home to go home to (I mean in the metaphorical sense- a place you call your own, and family around you who love you no matter what sort of a shithead they really think you are), although, that's a pretty shitty day.
I think it's more often the day after Valentine's Day, when reality sets in and you are left staring over the brim of your coffee cup wondering what the hell to do now.
Not that my V-Day or day after were all that bad. But I've been on the receiving end of listening to so-and-so complain about their day and how awful last night was. I watched a fight last night that almost resulted in bloodshed, and listened politely how another friend is threatening divorce.
I think in part it's because of the high expectations invested into this artificial holiday. We are being programmed to Expect Roses and Chocolates and Dinner and FANTASTIC Sex. Because That Is What Love Is All About. And that is bullshit. There is more in love in a companionable silence than "Honey, we have to talk." I get a lot more out of a shared joke and good conversation than I ever have with a box of chocolates that I know I'll feel like a pig for eating all of. And let's not talk about my own personal issues with Fat and how that makes me feel. I just don't want a holiday that reminds me of my own private hell. I think I enjoyed more laughing about the duct tape than I had been laughing for quite a while, and that was wonderful and romantic. And it was free.
A brief glimpse of happiness:
The parking lot at the Giant slopes something awful if it's icy at all because the wind blows through something fierce, and I hate needing a cane for that lot. I feel badly for the older women bent over and wearing their plastic-wrap bonnet covers.
Today, there was no ice, even though it was salty and windy. I had parked in the central row for a change, and there was no traffic moving that I could see. I gave a good kick and balanced on the cart... I went flying, perfectly straight, exuberance.
The old men who followed me out the door yelled raucous comments like teenagers, "Hey I wish I could do that!" And I smiled at their teasing.
For a moment, I wasn't cold. My hips didn't hurt. And I could fly.
Because everyone needs a hamster for a conscience. And the wings even come off.
I know, I know. But I'm not too old for this stuff, really.
And it's time for the sardine eating contest at our house! CArefuly, the three cats who will dine on such are gathered in the kitchen. Tom, being alert, stops snoring and rumbles there on his own. Sassy was already there, mowing the diet food, but could this be a liability in the contest? Spider was woken from a serious nap and had to be carried, but she certainly woke up as the sound of the can opener hit her ears. The sardines were evenly split among the three plates, in two mounds per plate, because we have observed some cats horning in on another's plate. A plate was put in front of each contestant.... and they're off! Tom is making serious inroads and wasting no time tucking into the dish. Sassy looks just as determined and has stuck her nose deep into the nearest pile. Spider is as delicate as ever, making sure she licks up every bit of juice. Tom is glancing over his shoulder... he's making sure no one has left their plates. Spider glances back, and goes back to nibbling. But wait, what's this? Sassy has started to wash her paw! The fat cat is giving up! She has abandoned her dish, even before finishing one whole pile! Tom has finished one pile and is on to the next. Spider is eyeing him nervously, but she is still eating. Tom polishes off his plate as fast as he can. He does not lick it clean, but once all of the chunks are gone, he's off to Sassy's plate. Spider is getting full. She's pushing off the larger chunks to get at the juice. Tom has finished off the first pile, and is eyeing Spider's plate. What a greedy pig! Spider is still scouring the ceramic finish to make sure she gets all of the juice. And Tom has finished Sassy's plate and it's back to his first plate to lick up the juice. Spider stops to wash her paws. Tom is still eating! So it's Tom as the winner at one and a half plates, to Spider's almost cleaned plate. And here comes Dog to chase off the cats and clean everything up. It's been a lovely time in the kitchen, and I thank all of our lovely contestants for playing. Thank you, and good night.
(One off story)
She looked out the broken window through the rain. She was glad it was easy for her to climb the brick walls of this abandoned factory and reach one of the many windows and slip between the shards of glass without being slashed. It made it easy to hide her stash of few possessions, and meant fewer worries about someone helping themselves to her things. It wasn't much, but the colder it got, the more she was glad of her blankets and her own fur coat. But then, that's why she was homeless in the first place. No one really wanted a human in a permanent cat suit unless they were already unstable or interested in scientific expiraments. She stretched out her claws absently.
She thought about the new kid, determined to be independent, but too stupid to have the needed protective instincts. He trusted his suitcase would stay in one place all day. He believed his money would always buy him food or roof. And he left some in his suitcase. She felt bad taking it, but she could give it back. If she wanted to. If Waldo had taken it, he'd be drinking tonight. He'd be drinking anyway, but with money he could afford nicer things like his own bottle and not the recycling bins of the local bars. Waldo knew the recycling schedule better than anyone. If Tammy had found it, she'd shoot up. And others, if they knew his suitcase had money, they'd be after him personally. As it was, not more than 15 minutes after she walked away from it, that suitcase was empty and knifed. Contents were stollen or tossed. His pictures that he saved- Pictures! No one brings pictures that don't fit in a wallet! -those pictures were spread through the mud.
She had saved one. The kid with a younger sister, it looked like, and happy smiling parents. What she really wanted to do was take the luggage tag and the picture and hand them over to a cop she knew. That would take care of the kid. It probably ought to be the right thing to do. But the cop inevitably asked questions about *her*, and that would never do. She was too old for the orphanages they had tried her in before, and the science lab was still asking too many questions. The kid would not have learned his lessons about life on the street. He would never know if he could make it- be truly independent. If he really hated it that much, he'd be back in a cage again with stricter rules, and she knew cages.
She sighed. She would hate herself for being soft. She put her coat and hat back on, and headed out in the rain. Somewhere, he was just learning the real meaning of cold, wet and miserable. She would watch him a little, and maybe, just maybe try to keep him from getting himself killed.
The new job goes well. I am far too busy, but that's all to the good. Busy means bigger paycheck and sooner on to debt-free living. It's much more interesting and less frustrating than the coroporate nemisis, and I have the joy of working for a smaller company that doesn't send work offshore, which will likely be the death of my profession. I'm not as worried about voice recognition software, because there's still a lot of editing to do on *that*, and for goodness sakes, I can type faster than I talk. As long as there are lazy docs who don't want to type out their own notes, I'll have a job.
I have glasses now. Glasses are not compatible with my headphones. I'm growing dents on my nose. My eyelashes bump the glass. When I take them off, I see the rims of where they indent my vision. I can see a difference, but I don't know if it's truly better long term. I don't know how long it takes to get used to this. We shall see.
And I got rid of comments. I apologize, but I was getting little but spam, so I refuse to feel guilty about it. My email addy is in the right upper corner. Feel free to use it. I won't bite unless you ask me to.
I'm off again to see Mum about Gram's things. As far as I can remember, Gram and Walt bought old furniture, refurnished it, and sold it. My college graduation gift from her was a folding bookcase. She said to me, "Now you take care of that now- I could have gotten $50 for it." She let me refinish it too. It now holds our bar glass.
Mom hass offered me a Chair. At this moment, I don't know if it's one of her caned chairs. Caning is a form of basket weaving, done in chair seats. It's great in places where wood is limited, because it used to be common enough to replace the weaving. I've seen my mother do it once. Otherwise, Gram is the only person I've known who has done this art. Even now, I don't know if I could, between the stuff used to treat the rushes and the finishing. Gram had a few chairs she had worked on, and saved them. Mum isn't letting them go to just anyone- she wants to make sure that they go to someone who will treat the chair gently with respect, so it'll last. So I'm honored.
And I'm getting her sewing machine, which is twin to my iron monster. That'll be good. I can sit in her chair at her sewing machine and enjoy it.
I worry though sometimes that my connections to the future will be lost. Who will I pass these things on to? Will they love them because I loved them? I won't know.
Life is full of opportunities.
Today, a young man in his mid 20s, tall, and full of energy, tried to hand me a paper at the mall. He was obviously trying to encourage subscriptions to the local paper, and I know I want none of that. I smiled politely in that cynical way that doesn't reach your eyes and yet manages to somehow look sincere, and said, "No, thank you."
He waved a paper at me. "No?" he managed to make incredulous. "But it's free!"
As if Free was the ultimate answer to why I would want the paper. Doesn't everyone want Free? Look, lady, he wanted to say, I'm giving this to you. No strings. No obligations. You don't have to be polite to me. I'm being paid to pass these out! Take one! I can't believe anyone can turn down Free!
I just shook my head and walked on.
It was the politest I could manage.
I did not want to attack him in any way. It's not his fault that I was bra-shopping, something that tends to make me want to strangle kittens. Nothing fits, nothing doesn't itch, nothing doesn't poke or is possible to close or even look remotely flattering, and only 4 styles come in my size and only comes without a wire which I refuse to wear. After going to three stores and trying on several varieties that almost fit, almost don't itch, almost don't hurt
I'm willing to purchase anything that comes close just so I can get the hell out of the lengerie department. If I *ever* find a bra pattern or learn to draft a bra pattern that I can consistently use that fits properly without pain, I'll never shop for bras again. Ever. My mother could come up to me while I am bra shopping and tell me how beautiful she's always thought I was, and I'd still want to shove a bra hanger where the sun don't shine. I am just not in the mood to be polite to anyone in such a state.
That paper is not free. It cost trees for the paper, and heaven only knows what chemicals for the ink. Manpower, electricity and more to collect and write stories and ads. Sure, it won't cost me personally, but it will be paid for. There is a good quote- "Pay now or pay later, with your own substance or with someone else's, but you will pay. And you may not be able to afford the price." Nothing, but nothing comes for free, even my ability to post here, or yours to read it.
I also was not going to get into it with the young man that the editor of that paper is the same jerk that fired me several years ago at a different paper because I could no longer breathe in the building and therefore could not work, and I didn't read the paper much before, during or after working for that paper, so why on earth would I bother with it now?
I have two good memory associations with reading the paper. One is as a child, spreading the entire paper on the floor and reading the funnies laying down in the middle of it. I can't remember *not* reading the comics every day up until I left for college. Then I could not get a paper, and I didn't care any more.
The other good memory is Sunday mornings, going out for breakfast with my sweetie and sharing the paper between us as we eat. That's a good memory and I like doing that still.
Taking a paper from the young man now, right around lunchtime, it is conceivable that I would sit down and read it with a coffee or meal. But there would be no one to share it with, and that kind of takes the joy out of it.
But I was out there on a mission, and I had to make sure nobody got hurt. I'm sorry young man, but I would not take that thing if you dipped it in chocolate.