It's been a busy few days here at the Casita de Zapatos. The RLA put up a ceiling fan/light fixture in my studio, and for the first time in 12 years I can work after dark or work during the day without fainting from the heat.
I have accepted a new job, working as the personal assistant to a man I've worked for twice before in the past 15 years. This means no more mall stories (thank the gods) but it also means a return to public transit, a mixed blessing at best. On the one hand, there will be plenty of "overheard on the train" stories. On the other hand, there will be more photos of women putting on makeup and doing other things best done in private.
An aside: I think that "on the one hand, on the other hand" has to be the phrase I speak most often... well, that and "what the fuck are you looking at?" I always considered putting the latter on my tombstone, but maybe something could be done with the former, as in "On the one hand, I'm dead. On the other hand, I don't have to listen to politicians anymore."
Anyway. I also finished all three thousand pages of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. What a great read. A hard read, and a dense one, but also brilliantly written and wonderfully funny. I've now moved on to a Harry Flashman knock-off series about a cad in the US military during the turn of the last century. It isn't nearly as well written as either Fraser or Stephenson, but it's a breeze to read, and keeps me busy until I can find the next ten-pounder to slog through.
The RLA reads constantly, but mostly sci-fi, not that there's anything wrong with that. I have read about a bajillion sci-fi books my own self, it's just that I'm on an historical novel kick that seems to have started several years ago with my finally making it through Marcel Proust's Rememberance of Things Past (all million plus words of it.)
There is just something magical about being able to be transported to another time and place through the power of imagination.
Yesterday, Miss Jojo learned to swim. She is a veritable merdog. She'd been watching the Noble Dog Nails as he did laps and chased the tennis ball around the pool, but was loathe to actually get more than a paw in the water. All of a sudden yesterday, she put first one front paw, and then the other on the top step of the pool. Then her whole head went under water and she snapped away at the wet. Then, without warning, she launched herself off the steps and proceeded to do doggie laps. She can do the side stroke, the dog paddle and something that could be a backstroke. We had to bribe her with cookies to get her out of the pool. We've got a monster on our hands.
Finally, to George in Tennessee, the rumblings on my horizon which you found ominous, were merely the sounds of the job coming to fruition and my increased hours at the gym with the Marquis de Steve.
I had a dream last night that I refused to wear something because if I did, I just knew
that I'd end up on Go Fug Yourself
as a bad example.
Do you think I'm spending too much time on my computer?
This is for my sistergirlfriendgirl and her good dog Oliver. This is Levi, a blue marl Pembroke Welsh Corgi that I saw at the dog show. He has baby blue eyes and he is just beautiful.
A fact that everybody in the known universe seemed to know except me and the people who printed my calendar, where today has printed on it "Superbowl Sunday." This calendar has all kinds of holidays printed on it, and I am now wondering if any others of them are wrong.
So here I am planning a party and making menus and pestering the RLA to let me buy a widescreen, big screen, HDTV to watch the big game... a game where I am forced to admit I haven't a clue who's playing, but you need all that for the commercials.
It's next week. Next week. February. Since when does football season run all the way up to spring training?
Oh well, it just gives me that much more time to work on my menus.
I'm planning on making orange marmalade sometime this week, since the sour orange tree in the front yard has outdone itself with fruit this year, and I can only marinade so much chicken, and even my housekeeper is giving me the fish eye when I ask if she'd like any more sour oranges.
Either the meds are working, the weather is conducive to creativity, I've turned a corner on my depression, or my naturally ebulient personality has finally quit hibernating.
For whatever reason, this week I have been bursting with energy and creativity.
Yes! It's true. I've been cooking up a storm, and just for the RLA and myself. It started with chocolate chip cookies to take to the (spit, spit) art show, continued on to yellow pepper soup (from the Silver Palate Cookbook, the one book that all cooks should have in the kitchen, in my not so humble opinion) accompanied by two loaves of Irish Soda Bread, and on to a delicious concoction of marinated chicken breasts last night.
The chicken dish is one of my own inventions, and I never make it the same way twice. Yesterday I marinated the chicken for a couple of hours in a mixture of fresh sour orange juice, chopped garlic, some of the mystery spice from Israel, olive oil and thyme.
The mystery spice from Israel is just that. I have no idea what is in it, exactly. One of my friends who was living in Jerusalem used to bring it to me when she visited the states. She'd buy it in a street market, and had no idea what it was, either. I've since found it in a Middle Eastern market locally, but they can't tell me the ingredients, either, and I found it by look and smell.
I'm pretty sure it includes cardomom. Maybe a little cinnamon and dried ginger. Maybe not. It's savory, and goes well in anything, especially brewed with coffee. I get this little frission like I'm drinking spice coffee from Dune. But that's just me.
Anyway, back to the chicken. I sauted onions and garlic in olive oil and butter. Added the chicken breasts and browned them. Added the marinade (I know, bad cook) and water to cover. Then added a little saffron and a little chicken stock granules. Covered and simmered until tender. Halfway through I added a handful of green olives. Served it up over a big heap of brown rice.
In addition to the cooking, I have finished a quilt for the RLA, and am finishing up another that's been in process for half a year.
I have two commissions in the pipeline for tallitsim.
I think, and it couldn't have happened any sooner, that I'm over the hump and into a new cycle of creativity.
I was out and about today, and everywhere I went people were asking me to contribute to charity. Which is all fine and dandy, and I do give, but on my own time, and with my own dime. With my own dime being the operative word here, because most of the people asking for my help today weren't people at all, but corporations.
The clerk at Marshall's asked if I'd like to contribute to tsunami relief, because I could just charge that extra amount along with my purchase of towels and gym clothes. Of course, I couldn't take it as a charitable deduction on my taxes, because the bill would just say Marshall's. Marshall's, by contrast, could then use my contribution as part of their overall expenditure and claim that they, Marshall's, had given x millions of dollars to the relief effort. They could, and they would, and they would never mention that the money came from their customers' pockets and not the corporate bottom line.
You want to donate to tsunami relief? Send clothing and linens and cold, hard cash from the corporate coffers. Use your own net worth to do good, not mine.
The same goes for the grocery store. I'm buying food for my own table, and they are asking me to chip in a few extra bucks for their corporate charity. No. No, I won't. Let your corporate VIPS unlock their own wallets and do the deed.
When I was at the hospital, we were big on the United Way. Every body had to cough up for the public good. Except, I worked on the campaign and I could see who gave what, and let me tell you, those VPs who are still there, collecting their big old paychecks, while I'm out on the street looking for my next job? They didn't give a third of what I did, and they made twice as much. Some of them didn't give at all, or gave a check for a Franklin. But down the line, they were giving orders that the rank and file under them should be giving it up for the poor.
Now that I'm one of the poor, or at least one of the unemployed (and just for the record, I work in one of those fields that the Shrub suggested unemployed people learn how to do at their local community college when they lose their factory jobs) it really rankles me that I'm being asked to foot the bill for corporate America's purely cosmetic acts of charity.
When the sistergirlfriendgirl and I were little 'uns, we used to play make believe in the ferns beside the house. We played Greek Goddess Warrior Princess Barbies (many decades before Xena Princess Warrior) and made houses in the ferns and moss.
It wasn't much of a stretch for us to imagine living in those mossy caves, and we spent hours and hours doing just that.
The garden I'm building around my koi pond is my homage to those fairy caves and moss gardens, and I'm doing my best to create a life size recreation of what we imagined.
Yesterday I was laying the jigsaw puzzle of Miami Oolite that I'm paving the sitting area with, and I misjudged the weight of the hoe I was swinging. In my own defense, the hoe in question had had its wooden handle replaced by a length (a long length) of steel pipe.
Said steel pipe took a nasty bounce back and this is the result: what looks like a swollen blood sausage where my left thumb used to be.
Let me tell you that the scan doesn't to justice to the color of my thumb, a sort of half-ripe aubergine.
The dogs were helping me dig.
I spent the day with the RLA yesterday, and most of it went along these lines: I'd watch him doing something and think, hmmm, that would make a great entry for my blog... if I wanted a divorce.
No, really. I mean, we're walking the dogs in the dead of night, and first one dog pees, then the other dog pees, and then the RLA takes a piss in the trees.
Just marking his territory, he says. But. We live in the suburbs, for chrissakes. With lights and stuff. And people driving by. Granted, not at eleven at night, and we were in a particularly dark part of the street, but just the same, I have to ask you: Does your man piss on trees to mark his territory?
For whatever it's worth, the dogs in the neighborhood seem to respect it, because the really big dogs do not poop on our lawn over by that particular tree, so maybe he has a point. But. It's the twenty-first century. We are (allegedly) civilized people. Pissing in the bushes?
On another note, living with two dogs of such disparate breeds is like having my own private Westminster Show on a daily basis. There is the noble dog Nails, a Jack Russell Terrier, not AKC, but Jack Russell Terrier Club of America registered, which means he's from before the AKC accepted and standardized the breed. He is a dog's dog. He barks at squirrels. He chases things. He is (for a Jack) Very Well Behaved. He goes for a swim in the pool after every walk. (His choice, by the way. He does doggies laps, too. He jumps off the steps and swims in 4-foot circles, then goes back to the steps and sits down, like a little old man at the hotel pool.) He plays with gravity by pushing balls off the couch, or into the pool so he can chase them. He will watch the ball floating in the pool and wait until it gets close to the edge, then paw it in to within mouth distance. You can watch him calculate the time it will take to float to him. If he doesn't like the distance, he will bark at me or the RLA to push the ball closer to him. For a dog, the animal is a genius.
And now we have Miss JoJo. She's a flopsy puppy. She never barks, except when Nails is barking at another dog, and then she'll add her two cents, and stop. Nails will bark until the other dog has passed beyond his sight.
JoJo is a digger. I have gopher holes all over the yard, now. She chews on all the toys that Nails disdained. She loves her Frisbee, where Nails is afraid of them. She digs. All. The. Time. She never makes any noise. If she needs to go out, she pokes me with her nose.
Watching them play together yesterday was a hoot. Nails is clever, stealthy and plots ahead. JoJo is a gonif, and will wait until Nails is distracted, and then steal his toys. Nails, knowing that JoJo doesn't go in the pool, kept dropping his ball in the pool to keep it away from her. Then he'd pull it out, and tease her with it.
There should be a groove in the pool deck by now, from the number of laps they ran around it. Fist JoJo in the lead with Nails' toy, and then Nails playing keep away with her.
This is why I got a puppy. I laughed until my cheeks hurt.
I have come to the realization that if I'm not bitching about the idiots I work(ed) with, or the stupidity of mankind in general, or yapping about food, that I have nothing to say on this blog.
Which is absurd, of course. Ask anyone who knows me personally, and they will tell you that I am never, ever at a loss for words. Maybe for true content, but not words.
In any event, I only have three paychecks left before my severence package runs out, which means that I really should be thinking about a new job.
Or a new career. The problem as I see it is this: I have absolutely no desire to go back into the work place. In fact, I can't wait for the RLA to end his winter break and go back to work. The idea of being home alone (well, not counting the four-footed inhabitants of the Briarpatch) is enough to make me swoon.
My studio is calling me. I want to make quilts. A lot of quilts. ALl the fabric I've collected over the years, all the patterns that I've marked in all the books....
Well, now is the time to sew.
And I promise you all, I'll have plenty to say when I start that project. I also have promised myself to completely redesign Girlyshoes... you know, the rest of the stuff that makes up this site.
Gotta go. The gym is also a jealous mistress and it too, is calling me this morning.
It's occured to me, as I sift through the detritus of my home studio, that I really don't have to go back to work as a corporate art hack. I could change careers. No, really, I could.
The question, of course, is what should I be now that I have ostensibly grown up.
On the one hand, I'd like to be paid to be a smart ass. That means either doing stand up, or comedy writing, or taking over as the new, female, emergency back up Dave Barry. (Which I fully feel capable of doing.) I could sell my manuscript (finally). I could try to parlay this blog into a money making enterprise.
On the other hand, I would just adore going back to school to become a chef. I would not adore the long hours and back breaking work involved to become the oldest sous-chef in the worst diner in Miami.
On still another hand, I really would love to lock myself away in my studio and just sew and bead and make things. I don't even mind selling the things I make. Unlike the RLA, by the time I finish a piece of artwork, I don't want to live with it, I want it out of the house, preferably forever.
On yet another hand, maybe I should just get a part-time job at a Starbucks or Borders... you know, something where I could go to work and never have to engage my brain at all. The only down side I can see to one of those jobs is dealing with the public, and I hate the public. I'm not even too keen on people.
So maybe I should go to work as a vetrinary assistant, and make minimum wage, and swab dog poop for a living. Or not.
I dunno. Maybe I'll just float along in an undecided fugue state until something falls in my lap.
I'm officially old today.
My mother, who is eighty-six, insists, when asked, that she is maybe twenty-one. This gives creedence to the quote by the immortal Satchel Paige, who once said "How old would you be, if you didn't know how old you was?"
Tonight, somewhere around 8:32EST, the earth and I on it, will hit the point where fifty years ago, I made my entrance.
The RLA, the noble dog Nails, Ming the Merciless Siamese, and even the koi, have been doting on me all day. So far I've raked in some heavy-duty love and no small piles of gifts.
I am not one of those folks who, when presented with an opportunity for gifts, demures and says I need nothing, I want nothing. Not this bitch. No sir. When there are presents to be had, I, like the Shrub his ownself, says "Bring it on."
They are indeed being brung. I have new fuzzy bunny slippers. I have a pair of truly lovely pink yard flamingos. I am wearing an amazing new necklace featuring a carved bone mermaid and turquoise.
My girl cousin who sends me so many jokes and political satire, sent a set of Kate Spade martini glasses. (Said girl cousin does know your author, does she not?) My sisterfriendgirl made me the most beeyooteeful quilt in pinks and greens and blacks and I've already taken a nap under it, so there.
Nope. As much as I may joke and complain about turning fifty, it beats the fucking alternative, and I can give you a list without even having to think hard, of all my friends who never made it this far. Cancer and AIDS, primarily. Leapin' made it to 52, and then went down in chopper over the Gulf of Bahrain. Gary finally got a job with insurance, and so went to see about that bothersome hemorhoid, only to be told it was colon cancer, and he was gone six months later.
Me? I'm older than I ever expected to be, and still not quite grown up. The cocktail party the RLA is throwing for me has a mermaid theme. I'm off to string up crepe paper garlands, and rearrange the shells and fishnets. Don't wait up, but maybe there will be photos tomorrow.
I received another check from the hospital yesterday. It seems that despite the conditions of the letter of separation, the hospital has cut the checks for my sick leave and vacation payouts already.
They were supposed to be cut after the last regular severance check, which would have put them into next year. Better for me to get that lump sum next year, when my employment status, and tax status is so tentative.
Better for the institution to pay the debt in this tax year.
So it's a win-win. They can screw my tax status by paying me, thereby inflicting yet another insult or injury, and at the same time, benefit their own bottom line.
Oh, please. I know it isn't personal. It is a global disdain for workers' well being.
On another note, I am stalling as hard as I can, because today is the day I go get my mother and install her in her new Alzheimer's home.
I've been having nightmares all week. I know this is the best, if not the only possible course of action, but that doesn't make it any easier.
Last night I dreamt that I had these red, crusty, ring-worm type sores on my ear lobe, and my shoulder. Only they weren't whole rings, they were horseshoe-shaped, and the center was black and sort of leathery. Truly disgusting.
I'm not suffering from suppressed guilt, am I?
I don't need to read self-help books about tapping into my creativity by getting in touch with my inner child. I am so in touch with my inner child that I have to give her time-outs to go sit in the corner and just shut up.
What this period of unemployment is doing for me most, it would seem, is putting me in touch with my inner sloth.
Who knew? I mean,I have been imbued with the good old protestant work ethic since I was old enough to work. In my family, that meant being able to handle a pair of blunt-nosed scissors well enough to curl ribbon for the Christmas package wrappers. Or, failing that, being able to fold corners on cardboard shirt boxes.
By the end of summer, we were already stacking pre-made shirt boxes under the display tables. By Thanksgiving, my cousin and I were living in the back of the store, curling ribbon and making alternating patterns of green and red curls, neatly tucked into some of those same shirt boxes.
By the time we were old enough to see over the wrapping table, we were the package wrappers. Even today, nobody wants to wrap packages with either of us. Three pieces of tape and less than three minutes and we're done. With sharp folds on the paper, too.
Anyway, I seem to have digressed. I am getting in touch with my inner sloth these days, by not working. I am not working in so many different ways. I am taking afternoon naps. I am lounging around on the sofa reading historical novels. I am going to the gym during the day. I'm taking long baths.
I am not making quilts, or jewelry or any of the other things I promised myself I would devote my free time to. I am utterly, and deliciously unproductive. This has gone on for a month, now and I'm starting to make myself nervous. I may have to start making things, or get a seasonal job wrapping packages.
But for now, I'm going to the gym.
And gentle readers, keep an eye open for massive changes coming to Girlyshoes, as I work my way through the stack of computer books on my desk.
I give you me, in all my fabulousness.
During my daytime stint as mermaid, at the Raleigh Pool Party, I was without my glasses. Because, really, who ever heard of a mermaid in glasses?
Nevertheless, I was able to see well enough to notice that I was surrounded by stunning, gorgeous men. I will digress momentarily to tell a story about my mother.
Mummy did her part for the war effort (WWII) by dancing with the sailors and the soldiers at the local USO. She would go with her friend Millie, who was from Tennessee, or Georgia, or some other deep south state. When Mummy and her dance partner of the evening decided to head on off to another road house, Mummy would tell Millie to pick one and let's go. But Millie couldn't choose, and she would, without fail, say to my mother, "But Florence, I cain't choose. It's just like picking flowers. Each one is prettier than the next."
At these White Party week events, I always think of Millie because, just as she said back in the day, each one is prettier than the next. And since they are all gay, the allusion is even stronger. All I can do is smell them, and not even pick a little bittie bud.
Anyway, so there I am, sitting on the edge of the stage, flapping my tail and waving prettily at the pretty boys. Many of them asked to take their photos with me, and I was only too happy to oblige.
But there was one man who didn't ask. I watched him all afternoon, and kept thinking that there was one major hottie. "If he weren't gay," I kept saying to myself, "I would eat him with a spoon. Yum, yum fucking yum."
He was dark. Black hair in white-boy dreads, little twisty ones. Black five-o'clock shadow and it was barely past noon. Built just so. I'm telling you, he was just edible.
So when I was getting ready to pack it in, I asked one of the roving photographers if he would take a shot of me and this gorgeous thing. In fact, I was quite specific: That one, the guy that I just want to lick all over because he is just so gorgeous.
I'm sorry if I can't come up with another word other than gorgeous, but that's what he was.
The photographer went over and, I assume, passed along my assessment of his looks and request for pictures. He trotted right over and sat down on the edge of the stage with me. I flapped my tail, and blushed prettily, and batted my eyelashes, and twiddled my finger in his chest hair and we started to talk as the photographer snapped.
I learned that his name is George and he is the manager for several of our DJs. I also suspect that he is not at all gay. This made things very uncomfortable for me, since I'm married and by no means available. I couldn't ask right out. I couldn't do anything except maybe pull my fingers out of his chest hair and stop flapping and batting, and so I did.
Anyway, I felt and feel like an idiot, but in my own defense, you have never seen anything as hot as George.
This year has sucked in ways that things have never sucked before.
I have suffered through death, hurricanes, more death, job uncertainty and more stress than I ever thought I could handle.
But yesterday, it was all made better by the receipt of a single e-mail from the forces behind White Party
. I am going to get to live my most precious childhood dream and desire, and do so in the company of the most fabulous men on the planet, at one of the most fabulous parties on the circuit.
What am I going to do?
I get to be a mermaid at White Party. Tail, pearl tiara and all.
When I was a little girl, I used to spend my summers on the bottom of the pool, pretending to be a mermaid. My career ambition was to be the head mermaid (the one who got to wear the glittery tail) at Weeki-Wachee Springs
I turn 50 in December, just a couple of weeks after this event. If that isn't kicking 50 in the ass and telling it to go home, I don't know what is.
When I turned 40, a friend built a big 4-0 out of straw and I took an acetelyne torch to it. We pulled bits and pieces of ash and melted beads out of the pool filter for two years. The screen had a scorch mark in it until the screens were replaced a couple of years ago.
It's not that I have a fear of growing older, as Jimmy Buffett would say "I'm growing older, but not up." Or maybe the late, great Satchel Paige is a better quote, "How old would you be, if you didn't know how old you was?"
Somewhere in my twenties. Old enough to be responsible, young enough to let responsibility slide once in a while.
I get to be a fucking mermaid. How cool is that?
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