29 April 2006


I'd really like to sit down and write another screed about the house across the street that is larger than the office building I work in and that the upper class twits who built it only deign to visit two weekends a year.

I'd start off by discussing the fact that their swat team of landscapers is out there again, exerting their will against nature like they were the goddamned corps of engineers against the mighty Mississippi, trying to make green, green grass grow on the fake sand fortress they built on top of razed wetlands.

I would probably go on to deride the chemicals the owners have them pour onto that lawn, the gasoline they use to mow, trim, and perm it, which would be more than likely to remind me of the eight bright lights they illuminate their yard with at night, removing from the neighborhood any trace of a starry night sky and irresistibly wrenching all eyes onto their atrocity of a vacation home.

I might discuss the palms they may or may not have greased to be allowed to tear down two perfectly nice little cottages by a river and build on what had previously been posted as protected land, the power they must wield to be able to override the will of the community as expressed by every person who drives, walks, or bikes past, shaking their heads in sorrow.

A full acre of woods -- woods I know were previously occupied by rabbits and squirrels, traversed by foxes and coyotes, and nested in by birds -- was tossed carelessly away so some middle-aged couple from our nation's capital could retire on (very) occasional weekends to their dream house by the sea, a house that is ten times the size of any other in the neighborhood, whose architecture is more redolent of New Jersey than Cape Cod, whose five bedrooms lie empty and still the better part of each year in a land beset by a housing crisis.

I would write all this but I am too busy, this morning, slanting my eyes just to the north of this unfortunate blight on the landscape to the river just beyond. The morning sun is shimmering on the water, sparkling in that way that it does, and the terns and chicadees are swooping through the remaining trees and underbrush, setting up shop for the season.

I have a slightly better view of the river because of the reprehensible behavior of my absent neighbors to the east. There is really nothing I can do but enjoy what remains.

26 April 2006

Flying solo

WHAT a glorious day.

This was one of those days when you feel like you have five bajillion things to do and there is no way in Whoville you are going to get any of it done and then POOF! it's the end of the day and you rule.

And now it is the end of the day and I am alone in my kingdom, because my spouse has forsaken me for another state. Some sob story about his grandmother's 80th birthday. Whatever. So I get to wander around the house for a few days unencumbered by the need to tidy up after anybody else's damn self. I'm sure that by Saturday I'll be desperate for attention and lonely as heck, but tonight I'm kind of revelling in the solitude and the promise of more solitude.

You will remember that I sort of like being alone.

However, I will entertain invitations to be sociable, should they arise. You know where to find me. I'll just be right here.

23 April 2006

Politics of distraction

The lovely Nita and the infinitely adorable Rio just paid me the honor of a visit. Because I was too busy getting my hair cut back to a more reasonable length by Nita I was unable to photographically document the historical encounters that were taking place between my boy-cat Satchel and Rio, who is the first person of extreme smallness he has ever met. It went very well in fact, with Rio correctly identifying him as "a meow" but inevitably he found the whole thing quite exhausting and found he needed to go back to sleep on a pile of dirty laundry.

Those cats. They really know how to live.

In the midst of all this, I had a guy come over to give me an estimate on painting the house, which I think is going to be way too high and I will probably just end up having a friend do it under the table.

And that was probably the single most boring sentence I have ever written in this blog. At least I hope it was.

Here, quick, look at this instead!

Less hair

Yesterday I went shopping on the outer Cape for gardeny things, which was mostly just an excuse to go joyriding on a beautiful Spring day. You would think that the high cost of gas would curtail my joyriding somewhat, but you would be wrong.

Despite the mild cardiac arrhythmia I experienced when I saw this:


So to soothe my jangled nerves I decided to spend even more money and get a car wash, because I am one of those funny people who think the appropriate reaction to feeling poor is to spend more money.

Car washes are fun!

Car wash!

I really love the car wash.

The drying cycle

And yes, in fact, here come the warm jets:

Here come the warm jets.

Then a quick stop for some high test coffee...

Coffee 2

Followed by a little experimental photography, which I shot blindly from the driver's seat:

Pleasant bay

I should totally have a show of my new photographic works. I know just what to call it, too.

A bit further down the road I stopped into a bird feeder store, thinking I might get a new bird feeder this year since the squirrels TRASHED the one I had last year. Vicious little thugs. I did not buy a feeder, but I did see this barrel of peanuts for sale, helpfully labelled as seen here:


It should be noted that the people at this bird feeder store have finely honed senses of humor.

I did end up, finally, at my garden shop in Truro, where I did, eventually, buy some planty things to optimistically shove into the ground.

Then I took a bunch of pictures of the wee little planties that I have poking up in various places in my yard, because I am a very wee little new gardener and I haven't got the slightest idea what I am doing (click on the photo for more):

wild forsythia

And that's how I spent my weekend.

Plus some knitting.

You may bow down to my lameness now.

21 April 2006


You know, it occurs to me that perhaps I should be shopping right now. I exercised extreme control over the last two weeks, wrote down all my stupid little expenses, and ended up still with money in the bank when my next paycheck came around. This means I need to spend spend spend, right?

Shut up. I can sense that whatever you just said, or thought, it was THE WRONG ANSWER.

So LALALA I am sticking my fingers in my ears and going over to another website to buy those new sheets I have been yearning for (you know anyone else who yearns for such pedestrian items? me neither. the very dorkiness of my wants and desires should absolve me!) and thence to another website to buy some perennials for that patch of garden I double dug last fall like I goddamn knew what I was doing ( I do not) and thence perhaps to buy a t-shirt or two.

ANOTHER reason (like I need one!) to reward myself is that I had my first performance review today and I RULE. That's all I have to say about that.

I think I deserve a twenty minute make out with the individual of my choosing for THAT ALONE.

You know where else I have not been in like MONTHS? The beach. people, I live on Cape Cod. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME.

I am clearly a little high strung and loose-cannonnish right now, judging from my fondness for the CAPS LOCK KEY so perhaps I will engage in some therapeutic house cleaning. Or go run around the block. Or down the beach.



16 April 2006

Hawaiian shirts for everyone

I went out to see a band at a bar last night and that never happens! Live music! Sweaty young people! Psycho-surf madness! I mean, sure, some parts could have been better. After all, I used to do this whole "live-music-in-a-bar" thing for a living, right? Or did I dream that? I'm beginning to think I dreamed that. In any case, let's engage in a little constructive criticism, because I am now an old and cranky person who shakes her fist at young hooligans who ought to stay off my lawn:

1. Opening bands, even entirely fun and enjoyable ones with hot go-go dancers in white minidresses and long white gloves, should keep their sets to under an hour. You were good, we liked you, now surrender the stage peacefully. This has absolutely nothing to do with how early I like to go to bed these days.

2. There was this lady in front of me the whole night who clearly did not get the memo regarding personal space in a crowd. She kept bumping up against me, while maintaining far too much open space between herself and the guy she was behind. I kept wanting to nonchalantly shove her into that space, you know, just to help her out.

3. Everybody else in the world needs to stop looking so damn young and unbroken. Honestly. Cut us some slack here. Maybe wear a fake scar or something? An eyepatch? Thanks.

Age-induced paranoia aside, I had forgotten what that particular type of carnival smells like anymore. I've always deeply relished the faint (and yes, sometimes overpowering) smell of humans dancing and rocking out together in a tight space. I seem to have grown slightly more sensitive to the top notes of beer and cigarettes, however. Probably because I stopped wearing those perfumes myself some time ago. See above reference to old and cranky persons.

But I stuck to my age-old habits of sticking close to the stage and making eyes at the guitarist while my husband made eyes at the go-go dancers (it's nice how we have these things arranged). They were filming the show for god knows what, and I know I made it onto the camera more than a few times, no doubt to get my desserts on the cutting room floor (in the sky, this being the digital age).

When the claustrophobia and aroma got to be too much we made our way out to the smoking porch, where I ran into friends. "Running into friends" is still such a new phenomenon for me here that I have to take special note of it whenever it happens. I've lived here for almost five years now and am only just starting to feel like I have a loose circle of friends.

This might possibly have something to do with the two full years I spent never leaving the house, the blinds drawn, with no car and no money. I dunno. Maybe not. I prefer to blame society.

So no, I really ran into actual friends and associates (I have those now, too!), one of whom had dyed his hair bright pink, which instantly endeared him even further to me. I was already fond of him, not least because he is a Young Person Aware of Good New Music who informs me of which obscure new CDs I might like. He hasn't been wrong yet, and it is a service I am grateful for.

His stated reasons for dying his hair pink included: 1) he is desperate for attention; 2) it is a cry for help; and 3) it's pink? I really have to get some of that purple hair mascara Nita was telling me about.

I had to leave earlier than I wanted to because I am old and lame, and I woke up this morning sore and achy, but with a new CD of original psycho-surf music by some local kids whose careers would really take off if they started wearing eye patches.

12 April 2006

Gift horse

Freaking somebody gave me Photoshop and I have had a headache ever since.

Do not get me wrong. I am totally in love with the damn thing. But I fear that during the seventy-eleven hours I have spent obsessively learning how to use it, I have sprained the muscles used in brow-furrowing. I am an inveterate brow furrower, and nothing brings out that unfortunate trait quite like learning new software. I have been furrowing so furiously that I have a mild cramp between my eyebrows, like somebody punched me right in my third eye.

I mean, what a monkey's paw of a gift! Having this program in my arsenal has instantly relieved a whole mess of frustrations, only to replace them with a cornucopia of ripe, juicy frustrations I had never before even considered.

This is not to say that I am not grateful. I am thrilled. This means that I can now let my inner graphic designer loose, for whatever it's worth. But it also means that the last two days have been a blur, and that my forehead has been increasingly tilted toward the computer screen, as if by mere proximity I could convince Photoshop to do my bidding. Through telekenesis.

Watch. They will now release Photoshop TK!!! Harnessing astounding new technology to allow you to use your awesome brain power to manipulate images on the screen!!! And I will be disqulaified from use, as I sit here with a steak on my face a la Bugs Bunny, and nurse my permanently bruised cranial chakra.

08 April 2006


Oh man, am I ever a sucker for a nice, rainy Saturday. Especially in April. Rainy Saturdays in November are full of stark reminders of the winter to come, that-which-must-be-endured. Our eyes are still getting used to the lack of leaves on those blackened overgrown sticks we thought all summer were trees, and we wonder if we should get the chimney swept this year, buy batteries and water for storms, dry clean our sweaters.

But in April the buds are just staring to poke out through the knotty black skin of the beach roses, if you're as lucky as I am you have crocuses and daffodils wandering aimlessly across the yard, and the birds and squirrels are doing little rumbas of joy in the driveway.

These last couple of weeks have been frenzied in their springiness -- there have been bright and warm jacket-free days and there have been freakish snow squalls. I have had to start thinking gardeny thoughts again, and once more turn my attention toward finding some reliable soul to paint the trim on my house. It's all been a little overwhelming, and I am taking today's soft grey overcoat as a sign of truce.

I know I need a day to just chill, just relax and keep myself to myself. Of course I have some things that need doing for work today, but they are fun things that do not bother me or make me feel the least bit persecuted. I can carry my mental rainy day quilt around on my shoulders all day long until it is time to return home and wrap a real quilt around my lap, fold the edges underneath me like an invalid, and hum wordless tunes of private melody to myself.


Yesterday I went to pay Dad for my continued residence in this house. He doesn't like to call it rent, because he doesn't like to think of himself as a landlord. He has also, I suspect, begun to think of this house as my house, with the minor technicality of putting it in my name a mere bagatelle to be resolved at some future date convenient to us all. Not that I am in any rush to have to worry about things like property taxes and homeowners insurance. No, no, not that at all.

But I told him that I was looking for someone to paint the trim, since I had asked him to do so for the last two years, and so far the trim has remained virginally untouched, pure in its raveled decrepitude, and now the wood is laid most immodestly bare in some places. I think Dad had asked a couple of old guys he knows who used to paint houses to "come over and take a look," in that adorably low-key, non-committal way of his. What he seems to have failed to realize is that all those guys he knows who used to paint houses are just as old as he is, and they no longer do much of anything but rumble around their houses making vague bodily noises. Just like Dad.

Sometimes Dad's adorableness is just plain ineffectuality, so I am taking the matter in my own hands, and I told him so. He raised his shoulders eloquently at me with a half smile and turned back to making us some tea. After a few moments he reminisced about the time his father needed to paint this house, but by that time Grandpa was a bit too enthusiastically overweight and drunk to undertake such a project himself. So, dad tells me fondly, he hired a bunch of good looking college girls to do the job, set up his la-z-boy chair in the front yard, and sat there, drinking and watching them contentedly.

I seem to recall being similarly lecherous about the fine young things who put our new roof on a couple of years ago, slender, shirtless, and spry as they ascended and descended the ladders outside my windows all day. But at least I had the modesty to stay inside.

Oh, creepy old Grandpa, I will be thinking of you as I seek out house painters in my turn, although I will use different criteria than you did, and I will not choose the depressing kelley green that you did, a shade that any honest man knows should only be seen on boat hulls, and beneath the water line, at that. Only the door from the porch to the kitchen retains this charming shade. I will ask the painters to use a more muted, less industrial shade of pale, pale green. And I will hire them based on reliability and price and estimated time of completion.

And if they should be handsome, and spry, and prone to the occasional bout of shirtlessness, who am I to judge?

06 April 2006

In dreams

My old ballet instructor had a poster on the wall of the studio that I can only assume was meant to inspire us. I'm sure it made her feel very groovy and inclusive whenever she turned her steely gaze away from our barre exercises long enough to do a visual check of the premises, the little rottweiler.

The poster was a close-up photograph of a ballerina's feet on tiptoe, in pink pointe shoes, with pink silk ribbons ferruling along the girl's ankles. The text laid over this image was the old standard:

"If you believe it, you can become it.
If you dream it, you can do it."

Which is an utter pile of pants, as we all know. True story: not all dreams can come true. But then, not all dreams should come true.

Especially not in ballet, of all places, where only one in several million will even have a chance at a career in the field, nevermind success. Hell, most of us never even got to wear those damn pointe shoes. And in retrospect, thank god.

There came a day in class when Madame Rottweiler announced who would be moving up from basic ballet to her advanced pointe class. Not surprisingly, the list was very short, and included only those girls she had been lavishing all her attention on for the last three years. I was not on the list, due to my woefully non-anorexic preteen form, and I was livid. God only knows where I had gotten the idea that if I only worked hard enough, applied myself to my goals, and dreamed big, that I could overcome any obstacles.

Well, I probably got some of those wacky ideas from my Mom, who was very supportive and who encouraged me to try anything I wanted to put my hand to, and then drove me around to countless practices as I carried out my various plans for prodigy-hood.

I wasn't ever really a prodigy, per se, but not for lack of trying. Which was probably where I got off on the wrong foot to begin with, you know? Aren't child prodigies supposed to just sort of happen, anyway? One day you magically sit down at the piano at the age of, say, two, and BAM your life is determined. You are gifted and talented, so off you go. That never happened to me. But then, the back of the wardobe in my grandfather's house never opened onto a snowy scene of winter in Narnia, either.

But ballet lessons did give me kickass posture, and an encyclopedic knowledge of the TV show FAME, which was on the air during my dancer phase. FAME also liked to push the notion that all you needed to succeed was hard work and determination. Inherent talent is such an elitist idea that we don't like to talk about it too much in our shining example of a democracy. Nor do we like to bring up such realities as accidents of birth, genetics, and sheer luck.

In retrospect, I'm glad I never got to take pointe. It is apparently horrible for your feet. Like, they BLEED. And I'm not so in favor of the bleeding process. And I walked out of those ballet classes -- which I stopped taking after the pointe-class incident -- with my excellent posture, right smack into middle school, which we all know to be the seventh level of hell. But at least I knew how to keep my head held high and my back straight as I faced the slings and arrows.

Sometimes you just don't realize what it is you have actually been wishing for.

02 April 2006

Hear that old piano

It might not be the wisest move, but I have opened the windows. The weather channel says that it is 50 degrees, the house needs airing out, and anyway my cats told me to do it.

When I woke up this morning there was a bright red cardinal nosing around the base of the birdfeeder. I have been slack-ass on the birdfeeding front this spring. But I had noticed a left over suet cake on the porch the other day, so I popped that in its little cage for the little bugger, and he has stopped giving me his glassy little stare of meanness.

The new weekend-warrior neighbors are rake-rake-raking away, I can hear them now through the open window next to my desk. scrape scrape scrape. What is it with some people and their primal urge to rake? It's the outdoor equivalent of scrubbing down the counters, I guess. I dunno, I figure, it's the outdoors, let the pine needles fall where they may.

When I was a kid, spending forced weekends here at this very house with my newly divorced Dad, I used to resent the fact that he didn't have a grassy lawn -- just a front yard filled with pine needles. He also didn't have a goddamn TV back then, the wackjob, he mostly just liked to sit out in the driveway in his Gran Torino, listening to A Prairie Home Companion before anyone else thought it was a groovy, ironic older hipster thing to do. Back then, it was just unbelievably dorky.

So, lacking a TV, or even a lawn, my brothers and I would play football in the street. Somewhere around here I have a picture of us, me, in a skirt, pigtails, and cowboy boots, hiking the ball to my brother Steve. That cute kid from next door was there, too. Jeremiah Beach.

He was one very redeeming factor about our weekends here. Cute as a button, and didn't go to our school, so we had this kind of clean slate with each other. I strongly suspect that he was a bit of an outcast himself, what with his whole I live with my weird grandfather who never leaves the house vibe. But he also had a bright red football helmet, and so did my brother Sean, so we were all good with each other.

How weird is it that now I live here, I am tight with my Dad, and I am pro-pine needle lawn. No Gran Torinos, though. That's just a plain old death trap.