Archive for July, 2005

Jul 30 2005

Nana’s birthday

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It’s my grandmother’s birthday today. My American grandmother, I always say (my other grandmother was English). But we called her Nana. Everyone in town called her The Lady. She never left the house without her shoes and handbag matching. When she died, we found a box, carefully tied with a ribbon, holding the clothing she wanted to be buried in, from the dress right down to the underwear (including a girdle!) and stockings and shoes.

That’s the kind of woman she was.

She was born 104 years ago on a farm in New York State. Her father didn’t want her to go to high school; he said it was as much use to educate a girl as a female cat. Nana didn’t listen to him. She ran away to her Aunt Louella’s house in town – Aunt Louella had shocked the town some years before by getting married in a fuchsia wedding dress – and got a job in a candy store. The store owner wisely allowed the help to eat as much candy as they wanted, since they got good and sick of it quickly and never depleted the stock.

Nana bobbed her hair, as scandalous at the time as Aunt Louella’s wedding dress had been. She not only went to high school, she went to teacher’s college. Her marks were all in the 80’s and 90’s, and she was so proud of her final exam results that she kept them and showed them to me, when she was an old lady and I was a young girl.

She became a teacher and taught in the town high school. She married my grandfather, who became the high school principal. They were devoted to each other for more than half a century. When my grandmother died, my grandfather followed her within a few months. Pneumonia, they said. But it was a broken heart.

3 responses so far

Jul 28 2005

Live! Rude! Germs!

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I made one of Dad’s recipes for dinner last night. It was Egyptian fish. I love how his recipes always say things like “garnish with coriander” – as if I ever would! The thing is, he *would* (and did) – even if he were dining alone.

Apparently, I need to start eating yogurt. My trainer claims it speeds up your metabolism (mine may well be dead, or at least moribund), boosts your immune system, and basically performs miracles, other than granting wishes (my first wish would be not to have to eat yogurt). But it’s milk. Spoiled milk. And she says you have to get it with… ~shudder~ …”live bacterial cultures”, so it’s germy spoiled milk. Live! Rude! Germs! I’m going to have to come up with some way of disguising it enough that I can fool myself into eating it. Good luck with that.

The other thing that’s supposed to be so wonderful for you is tofu. That right there is desperation food*, I tell you what. I can never *believe* all those people who are like, “Well, if you take tofu and marinate it and grill it and…it’s actually OK”. Basically, what they mean is, “If you remove every tofu-like quality, you might be able to choke it down.” On the other hand, it’s supposed to be good for your heart, and with all the strokes in the family, that can’t be bad.

Honestly, sometimes I just want to say screw it and eat and drink whatever I want and weigh 200 pounds and the hell with it. Problem is, am too vain and want to look good in clothes again before it’s too late.

*Something you eat when there’s nothing else to eat, or cannibalism is your only other option. Especially if potential victim of potential cannibalism is particularly unattractive.

6 responses so far

Jul 20 2005


Published by under Dogs,Family,Rita,Uncategorized

Well, the good will toward the Howler has left the building as suddenly as it came. She escaped through the window again, only this time, she attacked Rita the Wonder Dog, who was on her way home with her owner after spending the weekend with me. It was a brief, yet terrifying encounter. No-one was hurt, and I hope Upstairs Guy is suitably embarrassed. They have caused an astonishing amount of trouble in the short time they have lived here. Talk about getting off on the wrong foot (or paw)!

My sister had an unpleasant experience of her own this weekend. While swimming at the river, someone stole her wallet out of the trunk of her car. No-one locks their car doors there in the depths of the country, but she figured, why tempt people more than necessary, so she put the wallet in the trunk. One of the other swimmers left, and then came back to tell my sister and the other swimmers that her car had had its windshield smashed.

I would have gone up right away to see if my car had been interfered with, but Megan figured, it is what it is, and finished her swim before returning to the parking lot. There was a whopping six dollars in the wallet, and now she has to replace her ambulance driver’s license along with her regular one, and all the other stuff. The worst thing was she carried around a little something I sent with her for encouragement as she nursed Dad through his last illness, and now it’s gone forever.

On the other hand, she’s getting this adorable replacement wallet. Nothing like shopping to cheer a girl up.

And just when I’d pretty much lost all faith in both human- and dog-nature, my friend Charlie returned from a trip to Venice with an adorable handbag for my collection and two shotglasses (Venetian glass!). He knows me too well. Cheered me right up, shallow Suzy that I am.

5 responses so far

Jul 19 2005

Published by under Uncategorized

Hmmm, the last entry has vanished without a trace. I think it must have run away from home, since it’s been 24 hours and I haven’t received a ransom demand from the blognappers. If so, it didn’t leave a note – a tribute to my terrible parenting skills, no doubt.

Following is a recreation of the missing entry. If you see the original anywhere, tell it to come home, or at least send me an email.


Yesterday was one of those days when it seemed the phone would never stop ringing and people kept knocking on my door.

The first visitor was looking for someone else. This happens a lot. My apartment is the only one on the ground floor in the courtyard of the building, so they just stop in and ask. The surprising thing is that they rarely, if ever, know the apartment number, whether they’re a delivery person or just a person. I find this mysterious. Why wouldn’t you get the apartment number before you go? So they usually have to call from Chez Me, so it’s a little like living in a very big phone booth.

The second one was much more exciting. It was a guy from HBO who wanted to film in the courtyard for an upcoming show called “BAD” (“Boxing After Dark”). They wanted to film the boxer running through the passageway and into the courtyard. I found this ridiculously exciting, as if I myself were going to be on TV. This is also mysterious, because there are movies and TV shows being filmed constantly around here, so you’d think I’d be blas&eacute(e), but no. So I introduced him to the building manager so he could get official permission. Maybe I can get a walk-on part, seeing as I was so helpful and all. Wouldn’t that be cool?!

The third one was a guy who was working on the building behind me. He and his fellow workers had witnessed the Howling Dog of the Baskervilles jump out of the window upstairs and then jump over the fence to where they were working. Fortunately, she was unhurt and they lured her with sandwiches to where they could check her collar. She was collarless, but since they had seen her desperate escape and heard her habitual howling (yes, over the construction noise), they knew she lived in my building. They sent one guy to try and find her owners while the others kept the dog from running into the street or otherwise getting into even more trouble. Of course, he tried my door first, and you bet I knew to whom she belonged! I went with him to get her and I have to say, it’s quite a challenge to get a very large dog whose name is unknown to you and who has the spirit (and possibly craziness) to jump out a second storey window to follow you home (especially with no convenient carrying handle). Note to dog owners: even if you don’t let your dog out unattended, get a collar with the dog’s name and your phone number on it. You just never know.

So the Howler and I spent a happy afternoon together. She is a beautiful Malamute and always seemed to be smiling and wagging her tail. She drank lots of water and sat with me companionably as if she’d known me her whole life. She didn’t howl once – it must be boredom that led her to howl and make her dramatic escape – and the thing is, I really got fond of her in the short time I spent with her. I even felt guilty for all the bad things I said and thought about her. I now firmly blame her bad parenting, like a psychiatrist. However, we’ll see if this warm, fuzzy feeling persists during the next howling binge.

3 responses so far

Jul 12 2005

Random Wit

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Random Wit:

A guy wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “Rehab is for Quitters” – outside a rehab center.

A construction site with the usual warning of “Post No Bills” on the surrounding walls, with, unusually, the stencilled faces of Bill Clinton, Bill Murray, and Bill Cosby beneath the warning.

One response so far

Jul 11 2005

Published by under Uncategorized

Mom is still in the hospital, but it seems that the current crisis is past. My teeny, tiny reserves of niceness had long been exhausted, and my pitiful pleas for a niceness transplant were unsuccessful, so I decided I had done all I could do up there (mostly all I did was the least possible, and then complained about it so much that it seemed like I was doing a lot. This technique works quite well in most office settings, too.).

The relief of getting home didn’t last long. I made the unwelcome discovery that in my absence, a guy moved in upstairs who plays bad electric guitar very loudly for hours at a time, and moves furniture very incompetently, testing the laws of gravity to their limits at 2 am. All that’s missing is a colicky baby. I miss the pot-growing jazz bassist who used to live upstairs. True, his grow room did leak into the living room occasionally, and he sometimes wandered around in the courtyard late at night talking to himself with great animation, but never kept me up at night or inconvenienced me in any way, which is really all I require of neighbors.

I tend to be pro-dog, but the ones that belong to Upstairs Guy are, not surprisingly, as unlikeable as he is. They bark at all hours, and one of them howls at the top of his voice like a wolf baying at the moon. Creepy and annoying and apparently there’s an endless supply of howling and barking. I’m beginning to think that Jed, my brother’s Wonder Dog, my friend Phil’s dog Rita, the sassy Kelly’s charming Jazz & Ocho (bonus: they’re a barkless breed!), and the fabulous Candi’s outrageously charismatic Cheeto are the only non-annoying dogs on the planet.

3 responses so far

Jul 06 2005

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In Which Suzy Learns Why a Hospital is Not Like a Spa:

  • People go to spas voluntarily. No-one really wants to go to the hospital (reasons to follow).

  • Spas smell like herbs and soothing aromatherapy products. Hospitals smell like hospital food.

  • Hospital food tastes (and looks) as good as it smells. Filling, but not delicious. Spa food is generally cunningly arranged greens with a fat free, yet fancy dressing. Delicious, but not filling. Common ground: nearly impossible to convince staff to give you booze with or without food. And in the hospital, it could only help.

  • Hospitals make you wear that very unattractive clothing item, apparently made of inferior quality sheets, which reveals the derri&egravere, no matter how attractive or unattractive. It remains a mystery to me why they feel this side of you is the good side – or at least, the side to be on display. Spas give you fluffy robes which pretty much conceal all. Common ground: when staff is doing things to you, whether in the spa or &agrave l’h&ocircpital, modesty is thrown to the winds.

  • Spas make you slimmer. Hospitals are svelte-defying when you drive there and then sit there all day, watching your mother sleep, making awkward conversation, or watching tv. The most cardio I get is looking for a nurse or feeding Mom about a million of those high school cafeteria sized tubs of vanilla ice cream. Needless to say, spas are big on cardio, but not on ice cream. Also, diving into comfort food and comfort wine after escaping the Big House for the day doesn’t downsize a girl, however down she may be.

  • Spas are tv-free, though not otherwise free. Hospitals, at least when you’re on Medicaid and Medi-Cal, are.

  • They call you a patient when you’re in the hospital because you have to be. You’re always awaiting some kind of ministration. Your spa visit is on your schedule.

  • You can easily get your nails done at a spa. At Mom’s hospital, they claimed to have a visiting manicurist on Tuesdays, but when we tried to actually get her to visit, no-one knew her name or phone number, rendering our efforts null and void.

  • Spas tend to make your skin look better. I now sport a collection of stress-related(read: hospital visitation-induced) zits that would be the despair of any high school student. Big, honking, painful ones, too. They undeniably give me that youthful air, though.

6 responses so far

Jul 02 2005

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When you call 911 in or near my sister’s little town, you’ll get her (and sometimes my brother) if she’s on duty. She, on the other hand, has no idea what she’s going to get. A couple of recent examples:

  1. Arrive at scene to find a man wildly attacking his couch with a machete. Back away slowly, call Sheriff’s Office, and make a run for it. Discuss how call could have been made. Find out later that Machete Man’s friend saw the beginning stages of furniture murder and called 911, then had the wisdom to beat it (though he definitely seems to have bad taste in friends).

  2. Arrive at tiny hillbilly shack (cue “Deliverance” theme here) after long and gruelling drive in the pitch dark, with trees and shrubbery scraping the sides of the ambulance as you drive slowly down a dirt track. Wonder if there really is a shack anywhere in the vicinity. See light shining out of open door of shack. Go in, calling out, “Hello? Ambulance! Hellloooo!” No response. Start looking through shack, reasoning that if the lights are on and the door is open and someone has called 911, there should be someone on the premises.

    There is, but it’s an old dead guy, clad only in diapers with his dentures beside him.

    Now, dead men not only don’t tell tales, they don’t make phone calls, either. The mystery of who called is solved by the arrival of the deceased’s extremely drunk niece, whose breath is so horrifyingly flammable that EMT’s and paramedics alike immediately move to the other side of the room in self defense. (A little-known skill of emergency personnel is knowing exactly what form of booze is causing the bad breath in question. My sis tells me she always knows if it’s beer, wine, whiskey, etc.) Call the morgue (ambulances don’t pick up those who are already dead) and get away as fast as possible.

Even when they’re off-duty, they’re on duty. A couple of my sister’s co-workers spotted a couple of overly optimistic tourists getting ready to set out on the Pacific in an inflatable raft. They pointed out to these hopeful folks that the wind and waves were so high that the commercial fishermen wouldn’t venture out. But they went out anyway, resulting in a cliff rescue, courtesy of my brother and his fellow volunteer firemen. Incredibly, they went out again the next day, and even more incredibly, nothing happened. And I was going to bet on them for the Darwin Award this year.

4 responses so far