Archive for August, 2006

Aug 31 2006

Dream Girl

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Move over, Kirstie Alley! I am now my own dream girl!

Last night, I dreamed I was a stripper who used Daisy as a club name (not to be confused with the original Daisy). I had a short, fluffy pink wig, pink feather boa, and very high-heeled pink shoes, along with the usual sundries, also pink. I was having a great time. In the dream, I kept thinking, “These shoes are really comfortable! Who would have thought?”

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Aug 30 2006

Q & A

Published by under Dogs,Rita,Uncategorized

Not as fun as T & A, but here goes:

Q: Are you a comment tease?

A: No, I’m lacking in techpertise (or techpertease, if you prefer). I thought I had turned on the comments, but I was wrong. You know how that can happen. Turning on does not seem to be my forte. At least I can make hollandaise sauce. And a great big noisy fuss.

Q: Why is Rita like a box of cigars?

A: They cost the same. I bought a box of good cigars for our biggest client (it wasn’t for them, I’d be living in a cardboard box under the freeway) and it was a surprising $250. Yikes. I’m theoretically going to be reimbursed for them, but considering the theoreticalness of getting paid, breath-holding is not in order.

Turns out the Actual Owner has not taken Rita to the vet for 4 YEARS. That’s 29 years in dog years, and considering that Rita is now a venerable 11 ?, I thought it was inexcusable. So we went to the vet, where her records had to be unearthed from the basement, and had a thorough check-up, blood testing, the works. Rita enjoyed it about as much as I enjoy the annual ritual of mammogram and Pap test, but endured it with much less complaint.

She’s in good shape for a vintage girl, but she’s the Nicole Richie of dogs, weighing in at a mere 44 pounds. The vet said to feed her twice a day instead of once. She also had an ear infection, so I’ve been putting drops in her ears twice a day. My popularity with my almost dog is probably at an all-time low, but I’ll be finished with the drops in a couple of days. The cost of the whole thing was $250, just like the cigars*, but worth it. I’m so glad she’s OK.

I’m so annoyed that Actual Owner didn’t get her shots and check-ups done for so long. John and I used to use our tax return to get all the cats checked out every year, and if they needed something extra, like dental work, we just did without to pay for it. When you adopt a dog or cat, you get all the responsibility as well as all the cuteness, and it’s for the rest of their lives.

Good thing I haven’t run into AO. If he has the nerve to ask for her back, I’ll tell him he has to pay me back for the vet, the grooming, the dog food, and the cost of boarding her Chez Moi for the past three months. Say $30 a day for 90 days – $2,700. Also nice in theory.

Q: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

A: I haven’t the slightest idea.

*Apparently nearly everything costs $250. I just refilled my prescription for the Evil Effexor and it cost, you guessed it, $250. I hope it’s the last time I have to buy it – talk about an expensive drug habit!

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Aug 29 2006

Back by Popular Demand

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People have been telling me that they miss being able to comment, so I decided to turn the comments back on. I’ll just have to deal with the spam. As the Iron Duke of Wellington said, “Publish and be damned!”

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Further proof that August is the Official Month of Death: the world’s oldest person, Maria Capovilla, died on August 24 at the age of 116. The previous title holder, Jeanne Calment, died on August 4, 1997* at the astonishing age of 122. Elizabeth Bolden, the world’s current Official Old Lady, is bucking the trend by actually being born in August (1890!) and still being alive. She must be relieved that there are only 3 days left in the Death Days of August.

*Jeanne had the last laugh. In 1965, aged 90, with no living heirs, Jeanne Calment signed a deal, common in France, to sell her condominium apartment “en viager” to lawyer Fran?ois Raffray. Raffray, then aged 47, agreed to pay a monthly sum until she died, an agreement sometimes called a “reverse mortgage”. At the time of the deal the value of the apartment was equal to ten years of payments. Unfortunately for Raffray, not only did she survive more than thirty years, but he died first, in December 1995, of cancer, at the age of 77. His widow had to continue the payments.

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Aug 28 2006

Striking

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This time, it’s not the plumbing ganging up on me, it’s the appliances.

Apparently, they got together while I was in Detroit and decided to protest my absence by annoying me and/or going on a sudden, French-style strike.

The coffeemaker, previously my friend, now pees all over the counter every time I use it. I can’t find any particular reason for the incontinence, so I get to look forward to it every morning, when I am at my least tolerant (not that the level increases much throughout the day, but still). It’s as fun as listening to the mice squealing in horror and skittering away when I turn on the bathroom light. I hate the mice. I wish they’d move out and leave me alone, or become interesting prey for Rita. She never chases anything smaller than a pigeon or squirrel, but she does follow me around like I’m a giant cheeseburger when I’m trying to make dinner. Rita: she’s everywhere you want to be!

When I threw my Motown-soiled clothes into the washer, it worked fine. But when I attempted to use the dryer, it made a weird noise and then told me in no uncertain terms that it was never going to dry another damn thing, thank you very much. Now I have a dead dryer in the bathroom and damp clothes draped all over the place. I really am not good at laundry. I found a used one on Craigslist that looks good. The guy is supposed to bring it over and install it on Wednesday evening. I hope he’s not an axe murderer or anything. Maybe I should call Dial-A-Boy so I’m not alone when he gets here.

I’m not sure if the people upstairs are away, but their alarm clock isn’t. It’s been ringing for days and is pushing me closer and closer to the brink of insanity.

Oh, no! I just fell over it!

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Aug 27 2006

And Into the Future

Published by under Detroit

After a nap to recover from the wonders of the Village giving my sluggish mind (and feet) an unaccustomed workout, Kathleen picked me up at my not-sleazy (sadly) motel and took me out for a fabulous dinner at her fave restaurant. She has also taken my boss there. There are no degrees of separation between us (sorry, Kevin Bacon), because we all used to work at the same Hell Office and all escaped with our sanity more or less intact (though not our bank accounts). In our case, the world isn’t just small, it’s petite.

Anyway, we were greeted at the appropriately named Traffic Jam & Snug by its petite owner, a friend of Kathleen’s, like most of the Detroit population. She showed absolutely no sign of having had four children, one in the past year, and immediately made me feel like a particularly ungainly and unattractive Heffalump.

TJ’s, as it is known to its fortunate habitu?s, is a charming, rambling old brick building with a warren of rooms that manage to be both cozy and spacious at the same time. I think it might have been a warehouse or similar in its original state. Now it produces excellent food, including bread and cheese made on the premises. I started with a Sinatra-strength Cosmopolitan that was the size of a young swimming pool. It would have knocked Sarah Jessica Parker on her size 2 ass, but this SJP is made of sterner stuff. I was even able to have half a bottle of excellent California chardonnay with my dinner of superb crab cakes. It was so good to be with such a dear friend in such a great place.

Talk about a perfect day!

The next day, my last in Motown, wasn’t so shabby, either. I took a tour of Ford’s historic (since 1917!) Rouge Factory, where the F-150 trucks are made. It was an amazing experience, and the factory must be one of the only ones in the world with a “living roof” and an on-site wildlife refuge. The Ford reputation for innovation is certainly being carried on. Mr. Ford would be proud.

The tour starts with fascinating historic footage, shown on three huge screens. It was mesmerizing and inspiring. This was followed by what I considered to be a cheesy virtual reality experience of a truck being built, complete with being sprinkled with water and enduring crashing noises and flashing, seizure-inducing lights. I’m pretty sure this was some guy’s little brainchild. Most people loved it, though.

Finally, you actually get to walk around a specially-designed catwalk and watch these skilled workers creating the trucks. It’s like an industrial ballet down there, the people and machines working in rhythm, accompanied by the dissonant soundtrack of machinery. At the end, you get to see the trucks being tested for safety on rough roads, in downpours, etc. If you’re in Detroit, you should go. One caveat: you will get tired of the endless repetition of the theme symphony playing on the bus that takes you there and back. Bring your iPod.

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Aug 25 2006

Out of the Past

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I’ve been gone so long, I need a maid to dust around here! I know you’ve been patiently waiting to hear about Suzy’s Motown Adventure, so here goes:

Arrived at the game so fashionably late that it was almost unfashionable. Plagued by traffic jams (2 out of 3 were construction; the third was an accident involving one of those huge trucks carrying cars, plus five other cars who all hit into each other) so bad that I just turned the engine off until it was possible to move again, my outstanding ability to get lost despite the simplicity of the directions, and the lack of parking spaces by the time I finally turned up at the stadium, I almost didn’t make it for the third straight year in a row. There was an inning and a half left by the time I found my dear Kathleen, whose hug forgave all.

To punish me, the Tigers lost the game, even though it was Kathleen’s birthday. But they gave her a lovely parting gift: a fireworks display!

To add insult to injury, my rental car was a Chevy Malibu. Not a cool Repo Man one, a bright blue hatchback which was hard to see out of the back of, which practically screamed “I’m not driving a Ford car in a Ford town! Haha!

The next day, Kathleen picked me up in her car (thankfully, a Ford), which turned out to be a time machine. We stepped out of her car and into the past.

Once through the gates of Greenfield Village, a man in period dress rides by on a penny-farthing cycle. Farm workers in the field use tools that are more than a century old. We ask directions of a lady in a sunbonnet with a basket over her arm. We see wool, clipped from sheep we saw on the farm, carded and made into yarn. We see glass being blown, prints being made, tin ornaments being made, all with traditional materials and tools. We get to ride in a real 1926 Model T, driven around the village like princesses for the princely sum of $4. I am enchanted.

The Village is one of Henry Ford’s (“Mr. Ford”, as he is always referred to) many brilliant ideas. He collected actual historic buildings, such as the Wright Brothers’ homestead, and transported them to an idyllic setting. He even moved Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park (the Joisey one, not the Sharks adjacent one) laboratory in its entirety. There’s a man who truly understood transportation. While in the laboratory, we heard Edison’s very first recording and saw the chair he had sat in when he recorded it. Mr. Ford had kept the chair in the exact place, at the exact angle, nailed into place on the original floorboards. No-one was ever allowed to sit in the chair again. Kathleen and I were both moved to tears by this tribute to a dear friend and fellow genius.

To be continued…

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Aug 17 2006

Blank

Published by under Detroit,Dogs,Rita,Uncategorized

I don’t know if it’s the dog days or the death days, but my creativity seems to have withered like the pansies in my windowbox during the heatwave. The heatwave is mercifully over, but inside my head looks like one of those bleak landscapes by Salvador Dali (of course, the watches have melted from the heatwave, and my landscape would be littered with martini glasses, lipstick, and a scattering of diamonds, but you get the picture). No movie nights, no reminiscences, no nothing.

However, all this should change this weekend, when I am finally able to attend my dear Kathleen’s Birthday Baseball Extravaganza. For the past two years, Mom was either dying or dead, so I had to send my truly regretful regrets, but this year, I can join a couple dozen of Kathleen’s closest friends and admirers at the Detroit Tigers game on Saturday! I’m also planning to take the Ford Factory Tour, only fitting for a girl whose only car was a Ford.

In construction site news, yesterday the big crane managed to hit an electrical wire, causing a power outage chez moi, and, less importantly, the entire block. Fortunately, I was out for several hours going to the gym and primping (I had my eyebrows threaded for the first time and the results are fab) for the Birthday Baseball Extravaganza. When I got home, the power was back on, and Rita thought I looked mahvelous. She should know.

Rita’s charm seems to be off the charts these days. Maybe it’s the grooming, maybe it’s just her native loveliness, but when I was walking her the other evening, an older gentleman came out of his house as we passed to pet her and fuss over her. When the construction workers convene in the morning, they fuss over her, too, and sometimes give her part of their lunches. She’s the Queen of the ‘Hood. Guess that makes me her Lady in Waiting*.

*Especially when she’s sniffing around in the bushes so long that I’m afraid she’s found a body.

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Aug 13 2006

That Darn Cat

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The ancient, creaking freight elevator in my ancient, creaking building is right across the courtyard from my front door. Since the weather has finally changed from blistering to balmy, I had the front door open (with a baby gate across it to keep Miss Sneaky from sneaking out for some illicit sniffing) this morning. A girl came to the door and asked for help – her cat was trapped in the bottom of the freight elevator.

I suggested she call the Fire Department – I know for a fact that firemen, even volunteer ones, rescue cats – but she was convinced that she could bring the elevator down just far enough to reach over the platform and catch the errant kitty. The elevator descended properly, but then stuck stubbornly. I ran up to the second and third floors to try and call the elevator up, but to no avail. It refused to go up or down. I have seldom met an elevator more adamantly opposed to working on the sabbath.

I paged the building manager, but he was not home or not answering, which is the usual result when you phone or page him. I lent the girl a flashlight, so she could see that the cat was OK (the cat was loudly informing us of our incompetency and her need for food), and a towel, which she hoped to hold over the edge, thinking the cat would climb on to it and be pulled up. She must be a neophyte cat keeper if she thinks cats will do what you want them to.

Finally, another of the building’s residents walked by, and he knew a way to override the stalled elevator. So the cat was rescued, and all is right in the world.

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Aug 09 2006

Total Upset

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Scene: 8:00 on a sunny summer morning in a big city. The street has a huge construction site and several Victorian houses, along with miscellaneous buildings of unclear purpose. In front of the houses are four trucks. The first in line has letters saying “City Waste Management” on the side and is growling loudly. The other three are dump trucks destined for the construction site and are silently napping until needed.

A woman wearing a pink bathrobe emerges from one of the houses. She’s clearly upset.

Woman: (Yelling at five construction workers half a block away) I’m trying to get some sleep! Turn off the truck!

Construction Guy: (Yelling back) It’s not our truck!

Woman: You shouldn’t be parked on the sidewalk! Get that truck out of here!

All Construction Workers: (In unison, with hands cupped around mouths) It’s not our truck!

Woman: (Increasingly exasperated) Well, can’t you do something about it?

Construction Workers: (Still in unison) Call the City!

Woman: Well, what about the other 20 trucks behind it?

Construction Workers: They’re turned off!

Final Score: Construction Workers: 3 Irate Woman: 0

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Aug 06 2006

Wicked

Published by under Dogs,Movies,Rita

In the stranglehold of the hideous heat wave, all I could do was whimper, like the Wicked Witch of the West, “I’m melting!”, only meaner and greener.

After I walked Rita, we’d both lie in front of the air conditioner panting and cursing global warming, or whatever had brought this hellish doom upon us. I don’t mind telling you that it made me one crabby little crab cake. I think it made Rita a little on the cantankerous side, too, since she:

  • Got into a fight with a total stranger, which of course was a show dog, so the owner freaked out over my lower class mutt arguing with her upper class whippet, even though Snotty Dog started it.
  • Decided to embarrass her lovely walking companion by leaving a modestly-sized, though not modestly-placed, calling card on the sidewalk. Right in front of an irate old gentleman, laden down with bags full of wine. I think he was red-faced before he started yelling at me, but I’m not sure. He had one of those career drinker faces. Unfortunately, I was temporarily without removal equipment, having foolishly thought that I had completely emptied Rita out at the park a mere two hours earlier. I apologized, and when he kept on ranting, I explained to him that the world was an ugly place and you had to expect these things if you left your own home. He was not appeased and exited stage right, muttering. Maybe I should have tried to convince him it was one of those alcoholic hallucinations, like pink elephants.
  • Started calling the Neighbor Dog names when we were outside his house. They have always hated each other, I know not why, and insult each other vociferously on sight. Neighbor Dog’s owner had carelessly left her gate open, so I had to drop my grocery bags and try to restrain my pugilistic pooch while shutting the gate before Neighbor Dog could get out and get really physical. Didn’t work. I managed to catch Neighbor Dog and shove him back in and close the gate before blood was shed, but barely. They kept yelling the canine version of “Yo’ mama” insults while I picked up groceries and hustled Miss Rita home.

Hence the inability to plan any kind of movie fest this weekend, though I did catch a hilarious little gem called The Violent Years (1956) – “Untamed thrill-girls of the highway!” – in which bored teenage girls dress as boys to rob gas stations. When the fun of armed robbery palls, they attack a couple necking in their car, tying up the female half with surprisingly neat strips torn from her skirt and leaving her in the back seat of the car wearing nothing but a slip while they haul the male half into the woods to have their wicked way with him. Pretty racy stuff, but what else would you expect from a screenplay by Ed Wood? Turns out that the whole problem was caused by these misguided teens’ parents working and/or socializing too much and not spending time with them and explaining to them right (doing homework) from wrong (committing felonies). If you’re a parent, take note before it’s too late!

And if you see the Two Grumpy Old Ladies heading your way, flee. And your little dog, too!

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Aug 04 2006

Travels with Dad: March, 1991

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March 29, 1991

Drove to Leeds Castle through the sunny morning. I was delighted with the beauty of the countryside – the impossible green of the grass, rolling hills starred with daffodils and crocuses, trees misty with buds, tall hedges bordering narrow lanes, wood violets, hyacinths, the transparent green of weeping willows.

The approach to the castle was breathtaking – ducks, swans, geese and plovers in ornamental ponds, and one very ornamental and ornery peacock who refused to be photographed. The castle itself is beautiful, situated in a lake with stunning views over the countryside. However, the lovely interior was brought there by Lady Baillie, who owned the castle for 40-odd years from the 1920’s on.

She brought over entire staircases of oak, 16th century fireplaces, tapestries, etc. For example, the beautiful ebony floor in “Henry VIII’s Banqueting Hall” was put in by Lady Baillie in 1926, together with the centuries-old fireplace and Florentine table, so, in other words, Henry would not have recognized this room. Practically nothing belongs to any of the several previous owners before Lady B. It is a beautiful building, but basically the fantasy of a wealthy woman who could import and recreate anything she wished. There is no trace of the medieval or Tudor queens and kings.

I was impressed by the number of windows. There were several large windows, with window seats, which dated from the 13th century, a time more notable for its arrow slits than its windows. Possibly the owners of the castle felt safe because the castle is surrounded by a lake.

Had a wonderful farewell dinner at a Thai restaurant. Full moon and stars tonight.

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Aug 01 2006

The Death Days of August

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That’s what they should call it, instead of the dog days. I don’t know who started the trend of checking out in August, but it’s certainly popular:

5: Marilyn Monroe

6: The odd couple of Rick James and Harry Reasoner

7: Peter Jennings

8: Fay Wray

9: Sharon Tate & baby & unfortunate houseguests, Gregory Hines, Jerry Garcia

10: My mother

13: Julia Child

14: William Randolph Hearst

16: Two American icons: Elvis Presley and Babe Ruth

18: My father

25: Aaliyah

26. Lon Chaney and John Wilkes Booth

27: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gracie Allen, Confucius (also born August 27)

28: John Huston

29: Ingrid Bergman

30: Two Charleses, Coburn and Bronson. Also, Cleopatra.

31: Diana, Princess of Wales

So I’m not a big fan of August. It’s a bit much when both your parents die in the same month. I hope I buck the trend and die another month, and I’m going to try not to write another funereal line for the next 30 days. Can she do it?!

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