Showing posts from February, 2010

Ready or not, here comes the week

Aries (3/21 – 4/19):  Do you ever have that thing where there’s a bad smell, kind of vague, wafting around your house and you can’t quite pinpoint the source, and it’s possible that a mouse died under the refrigerator or inside a wall, but then again, maybe it’s nothing, and you could either wait it out or spend a ton of energy locating it? Your week will offer similar choices (metaphorically), and I’d recommend just waiting it out. 

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20)
:  You know that thing when you start writing the horoscopes, totally from scratch, and then decide to snoop around the internet and you begin to learn what it actually means that Mars is in Retrograde?  Yes, you do?  But then they start going off and saying stuff like, “in many ways, Mars in Retrograde can be likened to Mars transiting through the twelfth house,” so you feel like you maybe missed too many classes and there will be no catching up?  Oh, I know that feeling too.  You aren’t alone.  That retrograde thing is still going o…

The Missing Link

When I was in college, a friend and I rented the downstairs of a house that was owned by an 80 year old man who lived upstairs, who, as he told us when we met, “liked women to eat with, not to sleep with.”  His days were predictable in a way that floored me at the time.  About once a week, he took me to the Royal Fork for lunch, which was a few blocks away from where we lived, and had the most horrible buffet imaginable, laden with jello and gravy-doused stuff.  He had his schedule down to the point where he knew that if he walked out of his house at 11:12, he wouldn’t have to wait for the light to cross the street, and he’d be in line for the buffet before the crowd arrived at 11:30.

But life is sort of this way.  You make decisions at some point, like figuring out that a certain restaurant is terrible, or a certain path to work puts you in more traffic, or you feel better if you eat a certain thing for breakfast, and before you know it, your life is rather predictable, because you …


I have a large rant about croquet on my mind, so bear with me.

Today, a man sporting the Rolex watch look came in and asked about buying a piece of property on the Big Fancy Lake, the one that Bill Gates lives on, not the tiny one that I live near.  (By the way, the water temperature in my little lake is 45 degrees F today, which I know you've all been wondering about.)  The assessed value of this waterfront lot and house is $1.5 million, and his questions pertained to his goal of purchasing it, tearing down the house, and building a new, much larger house.  This is the kind of customer who I sense would be more comfortable if a man wearing a suit and tie were answering his questions, rather than a woman wearing jeans and a pony tail.

We went over the rules, and I explained that he would be able to build a larger house, but mitigation would be required in the form of planting along the shoreline, which is currently lawn.  He got irritated, and, I must say, I am sooo bored by this …


I started reading Summer by J.M. Coetzee, which came recommended.  But then I do what I always do, with my microscopic attention span:  I read a few pages and thought, hmm, I'm not too excited about this book, let's turn to the internet, shall we?  I know.  My co-workers used to play a game that involved seeing how long they could talk to me without me needing to look something up on the internet, but it got too easy; as far as I know, it's not still a sport.

But I looked up Coetzee, and Wikipedia says this:
"Coetzee is a man of almost monkish self-discipline and dedication. He does not drink, smoke or eat meat. He cycles vast distances to keep fit and spends at least an hour at his writing-desk each morning, seven days a week. A colleague who has worked with him for more than a decade claims to have seen him laugh just once. An acquaintance has attended several dinner parties where Coetzee has uttered not a single word." - Jason CrowleyHe doesn't really soun…

Pie Contest (again)

(Apologies to those who have already read this.)

Two summers ago, at a farmer’s market near my small town, someone asked if I wanted to buy a chance to judge the pie contest for a dollar.  Sure, I said, chances for two friends and me, please; strangely, we all got selected. 

On the morning of the contest, I put my kids on a plane to NY to visit my family.  My sister was to pick them up in Albany and take them to the Adirondacks for a week.  Normally, you need to pay a big extra fee for unaccompanied minors; it would almost be cheaper to just hire someone to go along and pay for their whole trip.  When you get to the airport, there’s a whole ‘nother charge, maybe fifty dollars per child, that I’ve never fully understood, but I’ve always paid it.  Paying this fee obligates the parent to go through security, out to the gate, and then wait until the plane takes off.

But this time, we went through the line, got boarding passes, and the guy didn’t mention anything about the extra fee, or m…

Amy Amy Amy

I’ve been reading about Amy Bishop, the biology professor who murdered three colleagues last week after not getting tenure. The story is creepy-sad, and I’m drawn to it the way I was to the Lisa Nowak story. Lisa was the astronaut who was charged with the attempted kidnapping of her lover’s new girlfriend, who supposedly wore diapers on her long stalker drive. I remember the comments on how she looked compared to the new gf. I thought she had a kind of raw, sketchy beauty, but the media thought the guy did better with the new gf, not for the obvious reasons that Lisa was an angry, unstable, diaper-wearing, jealous stalker, but because she had “let herself go”. Seriously.

Maybe because women are less prone to commit violent crimes (duh), or maybe just the sheer weirdness of the whole situation draws me to it. Maybe because she’s roughly my age and had kids, it feels like I should be able to get inside her head a little bit. I don’t really expect to understand the motivations of …

The kids are doing okay

I just finished reading The Kids Are All Right, which was a surprisingly fun memoir if you don't get too bogged down in the fact that both parents die and the four orphans are parsed out into various abusive situations.

Angle on deposed

It is a pity that I can’t write about being deposed, because there would be a ton of material.  But, if I were to write a little allegory, it would be about a weird little pseudo-crime, and a few bumbling yet hostile attorneys. 

Let’s pretend Person A bought coffee from a drive-through, and it ended up on their lap.  Person A is suing person B, who manufactured the cup.  Let’s imagine I was the person in the drive-through window who saw the whole thing go down, and have been subpoenaed to tell what I saw. 

Person B could defend himself by asking me questions, like, was Person A eating a burger, driving a manual transmission, and talking on the phone when the coffee spilled? Could it have been operator error? 

But instead, Person A zeroes in on what kind of oil we use for French fries, and where I learned to cook them, and if I’ve ever been cut with a knife, and what the procedure would be if that were to happen.  We spend hours on these random lines of questioning, until eventually…


There’s a new word, “solastalgia” that describes the kind of grief people have when their natural environment is changing more rapidly than they can keep up with it.  I’ve been thinking about the word because the landscape here has changed more rapidly in the last 50 years than anywhere else on the planet at any other 50-year period in history.  Okay, I totally made that up, but it seemed plausible for a second, didn’t it?

I copied that from Ira Glass, whom I had the privilege of seeing when he was here a few weeks ago, and at one point he said, “Radio is the most visual medium.”  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just me, everyone was nodding along.  And then he corrected it, saying, well, except for t.v. and things that require you to actually use your eyes. 

But look at these photos, and you’ll see what I mean.  I’m pretty sure the word “solastalgia” isn’t about to catch on in a big way (can you even say it?), but I think it’s happening, and I’m wondering about it a lot lately.  Because …

The Smell Part 2*

(Part 1 can be found here.)

My boss laughed but got all deflect-y again, like, “Yes, did you research the use of cat urine on leather?” As if he couldn’t do anything at all about the foul smell until he had that bit of information. But then he started asking me about how my car negotiations were going with R., which caused me to be a little deflect-y myself, because it went how it always goes, like this:

R. calls me as I leave work: “What’s for dinner?”

“I dunno. Oh wait, I have an idea, maybe you could make dinner since you’re home and hungry, and I’ve been working all day and have a long drive ahead. Burritos?”

“Um, right, gotta go.”

I arrive home to find R. sitting on the couch in the pitch dark, watching old episodes of Lost on the internet.

“Wow, it’s dark in here.”

“Yeah, don’t know if I told you, but my parents are Amish.  They frown on the use of electricity”

“R, did you make dinner?”

“Um, yeah, its in the kitchen.”

“Uh, I don’t see anything?”

“Yeah, there wasn't much I c…

Smell no evil

The other day I was called over to help some people in the permit center. The two men were talking with the lovely zoning person, who went off to research something for them while I answered their wetland questions.

The second she leaves, one of the men says, “Do you have any cats?” I know. I wish I were making this up. It’s not like they read this blog, I am certain of that. I have my three readers, and I know who you are. (Hi Todd.) I got all awkward, and was, “um, no, I don’t have cats.”

The one guy says, “really, you don’t have cats?” acting surprised. “Well, anyway, you have to see this.” He makes his phone ring, and shows me the picture. It’s a cartoonish photo of a cat laughing, and the ring is a deep belly laugh, and the caption is, “What your cat is thinking when you take your clothes off.” The laughter is pretty robust and contagious, and the other guy is seriously unable to contain himself, he’s laughing so hard. I’m kind of laughing too, because, well, I jus…

parenting insurance

Dearest N'3lvra,

I have brought my young impressionable children on vacation to what I thought was a peaceful beach. Instead, I find the police are on the beach every day with a giant digger trying to locate the corpse of a missing woman. I'm wondering if my children, ages 3, 5, and 5, are too young to sign a contract stating that they will not sue me for psychological treatment later in life for scarring them with this at such a young age. If they are too young, is there any kind of "uh-oh, I think I might have psychologically damaged my children" insurance?

A forward-thinking mom*

My Dear Thinker,
I think they're the perfect age for signing that contract, but the insurance is a stroke of genius. Be sure to get broad coverage: If you hurry your child along because, well, you must, and they complain that their shoes hurt, and then you say, just put them on, we'll worry about that later, and then later you realize that there's actually broken glass in the…


My dear friend Barb has had her second book, Whistle Bright Magic, published, and it comes out today!

It's a fairy story in at least two ways -- the obvious way is that there are fairies in it, but it's also the story of a mother who stays at home with her kids, writes a book in her spare time, and it gets snapped up by Harper Collins. I'm sure she'd disagree with the term "snapped up", because there was a lot of hard work involved, but her friends like to see it as a modern day miracle in a good way, and it couldn't have happened to a more deserving author or person.

If you have young readers (8-12) in your life, check it out. It's a sweet story with a little magic, a lot of interesting characters, and a happy ending, which, when you think about it, is probably just like your life. I will confess that I got a little teary reading it because it was so well done and tender.

Available everywhere, starting today...

Note to self

(The writing prompt for this week was to write an apology to yourself.)

Dear Self,

I’m sorry that I dragged you out of bed today at 6 am to go to a grueling yoga class, because I know you were tired and would rather have slept in. And I’m sorry I wasted so much time sitting around a coffee shop writing stuff for the dumb blog, but I must point out that it’s you that’s obsessed with it, not me.

I’m sorry that I took a nap in the middle of the gorgeous afternoon when you could have been outside playing, but I was so tired from that weird sleep last night; that dream where someone left me with 10 tiger kittens or whatever they call the baby tigers left me confused after I woke up, and it took me a long time to figure out that the ten baby tigers weren’t a real problem I had. It wasn’t my concern anymore to figure out if I should tame them, or re-introduce them to the wild, especially because the wild was Duvall, not Africa or India. But once I figured out it wasn’t a real problem, I…

You can't live in the present forever...

Aries (3/21 – 4/19):  Last week when I was in the major recreational stuff store, browsing socks, an employee came up and said, “do you want some advice?”  And for a minute I felt like, jeez, do I look so stupid that I need help with buying socks?  But on the other hand, I was curious, so I said, “sure, what have you got?,”  which seemed to surprise him, because he was quiet for a minute, and then said, “really?  You want advice about socks?”  And I’m thinking, well, you started this, but what I said was, “yeah.  I need advice about socks.”  That, in a nutshell, is how your week is going to go.

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20): Hey, did you hear about those guys that saved that humpbacked whale? (Of course you did, it happened 3 years ago).  At any rate, I bring this up because the whale was all friendly after getting freed from the crab pot ropes and appeared to be thanking the divers.  What do you think?  Gratitude?  Or is that just personifying whales in a most insulting fashion, behaving as if…

The customer isn't always right

I think I’ll write a little bit about some of the customers I encounter, unless it gets too tedious. You’ll let me know if that happens, I hope.

This particular customer arrived, looking, if I may say so in a way that paints a picture, rather than suggesting prejudice, well, looking like a member of the republican party. Short hair, puffy face, thirty-something, polo shirt, blue tooth on the ear.

He asked about a particular piece of property, and prefaced his questions with, “I’m planning to build a 5,550 square feet, eight bedroom home here.” I think he thought this might impress me, but it really had the opposite affect. I try to check my prejudices, and do the research I can from the computer.

“Let’s see, we’ve done a study on the property next door. The stream that runs through this parcel is fish-bearing, so …”

He interrupts with a loud, bellowing, “HA HA HA. There are NO fish in the stream. I’m sure of that. I’ve been watching this property for three weeks now, and I’ve…

FB protocol

Dear Chortnee,
I saw you answer a question about FB, and I'm wondering if you'd be able to answer another one for me. I keep getting friend requests from people whom I'd consider a tiny bit random. By that, I don't mean that they are unpredictable in their motion or anything, but rather, I just don't really know them. Like, for example, my father's dentist. Or the secretary from a job I held ten years ago, and by the way, and I'm only saying this once, she was a bit annoying as a secretary, if you know what I mean. You know the sort who acts like helping you with a mass mailing, or printing a big report is kind of a hassle for them and they'll do it just this once as a special favor, when in fact, it's their job, and you really shouldn't have to grovel to get them to do it?

But I stray from my question, which is, must I accept these requests? I certainly don't want these people to feel un-liked, but then again, I am not really intereste…

The Girl At The Grocery Store (again...)

There are a few things I like about her, even though she’s kind of a ditz. One is that she used to have a gauged ear piercing the size of a nickel, but let it grow back, which it did; this gives me great hope for my son. The second thing is that she’s always sneaking out of the store to take pictures of the sunset from the parking lot with her cell phone. I don’t have a thing for sunsets myself, but I do have a thing for people who have a thing for sunsets.

Perhaps because my grandfather, who worked at Kodak long enough to get free film for life, took about 15 pictures of the sunset over the same beach in Florida every single day, and when we’d visit once a year, we’d see slides every evening, about 6,000 shots taken from the exact same spot. We’d get the stats for each picture: film speed, f-stop, which camera, date, time, air temperature. About eight shots while the sun was sinking towards the horizon, 3 or four right at the horizon, and maybe four or five just after it sunk, for…

Ridiculously beautiful here

I know, girl gets camera and the blog turns into cliched hack pictures of sunsets and so-on. But I couldn't help myself, it has been just so pretty around here lately.

A Beacon for the Mentally Ill

N'3lvra received a surprising e-mail the other day:

"You are receiving this email based on the value I feel your website and the services you offer from your website holds. As the Chief Editor for I continually strive to find the best resources I feel are relevant to what we offer (FREE information), and make sure these resources are available to my users as well." Blah Blah blah, but instead of the blah blah blah, they wrote (with poor sentence construction, I might add), stuff about how valuable their website is for those with mental health issues, and how great Courtney is at also providing services to the mentally ill, and could I please link to their website, and they will be happy to do the same. I know! And then there was the stuff about how this offer only went to a few top quality websites, and Quartnee was selected after careful screening.

Um, seriously? Khortnee? Out of curiosity, I wrote back and said thanks for all the kind words, and what…


In the middle of the night last night, I woke up, not exactly panicking, but a bit disturbed that I hadn’t updated this blog yesterday, and would have to either skip it again today, or come up with something to write about right then, and be prepared to just spit it out quickly in the morning, when it occurred to me that I could dig through my stuff and find something I’d written previously and post that. Something older, that hopefully you would either never have read, or would have forgotten by now.

I decided to post a story I wrote shortly after my divorce about the evening that my ex- came over to sign divorce papers and sell a car to a neighbor, and we ended up in this weird scene where the guy we were selling the car to tried to get us to bend rebar by placing an end on each of our necks, and then walking towards each other.

The rebar was 8 feet long, and my soon to be ex had done this with said neighbor a few days before, and had showed me the piece of steel, bent into a hor…