Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas, 2008

Christmas Dinner 2008

All sorts of good things washed down with a good Bordeaux. Celebrity cameos by Obama and Narcissus.

Un joyeaux noel à tous.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Birds fed. Thermostat turned down. Passport and ticket receipt in bag.

Onward to the post office to send off the last of the gifts, then to the airport which I can only imagine will be nuts, as we've got like a two day window between storms.

God(s) willing, I'll be off for a few weeks. Back again before mid January. Folks who need to get a hold of me know how to.

Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah, Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ahh,

For better or for worse, for the moment, it's still my home.
Tony's Bird Log.

Rapt Kitty II

The reason why the bird feeders went up.

+30 common sparrows
+20 chickadees
12 starlings
1 blue jay
2 cardinals (one male, one female)

6 squirrels.

***

Normally, we have tufted titmice and another blue jay hanging around. Once we saw a goldfinch, but that was early in the Fall.
Pablo's first worry was making sure that the birds had something to eat. Last night was a rough night between the wind and the extra snow. In our comfort, we kept wondering what the birds and (yes) the squirrels were doing.

So, this morning, after I shoveled the back patio and steps, Pablo dove into the yew tree, which was seriously bowed down by the snow, to hunt out the suet feeders.

Winter Paul

Poor guy - I made him pose for way too long to get this picture. Look at the snow in the beard. Look at the jaunty angle of the hat.

He found one of the feeders - happily, the double one - but the other just vanished. Will have to replace that one, as folks outside are kind of stressed out from the cold and lack of other food options.
Morning.

Normally my first move is to put on a pot of coffee to be gulped down during the race to get out the door. Today was nice. For the first time in ages, aside from the impending snow cleanup, there was nothing for me to rush off to. School's done; they're shut down at least till Sunday. Nothing I can do about that. All my work's submitted; it's out of my hands now.

I have a party tonight and a christening tomorrow; we'll see if I end up at either. Though it would be nice to see people, going out in the bad weather is nothing I really feel like doing. It feels like I'm burnt out. Just want to watch movies, knit, read either the Patrick O'Brien novel I picked up at a library sale or maybe the book the Frenchie gave me on Zola's collected materials for character sketches. I'm thinking about baking some pumpkin bread or a couple fruitcakes so I have *something* to give people, but, honestly, don't know that I have the energy to do even that.

Wonder if there's a movie on PBS tonight. If so, that settles it. (Hmm, West Side Story and In the Heat of the Night on 44. That's a toughie. Have seen both several times, but they're good. Will think about it.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kind of like that dream where I get sick and miss all my finals.

So, got to school (it's on the way to work) and found the place dark, the doors locked.

On the doors, someone had hastily taped up signs stating that the college was closed due to inclement weather.

Got to work (another local university that DIDN'T take the copout because it's the end of the semester, meaning exams need to be taken, grades need to be posted. Heck, this morning, someone even defended their doctoral thesis here.) and saw this posted on my school's website:

Friday December 19, 2008

Due to inclement weather conditions, Bunker Hill Community College's Charlestown, Chelsea and satellite campuses are closed today, Friday, December 19th.

Friday exams are canceled. Final grades will be computed by your instructor based on work completed thus far. Check this site again tomorrow for Saturday, December 20th news. Also, please tune to your local television or radio stations for further advisories.

So, I emailed my paper in. Also cc:d the professor, for what it's worth. Thought of using my open for business school email address, but decided against.

Boy, am I tired.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the Wire.

So, will she get the writing done that she needs to, or not?

She has to reconcile FDR as a Politician with his ability as a Public Policy maker.



We'll see.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So, this afternoon, was making my way into Sullivan when was accosted by a TV reporter. Apparently, some female got mugged and stabbed nearby. Didn't think that I'd make any final cut, as I wasn't all like horrified about the incident - after all, Somerville ain't Utopia or anything, particularly the area that borders Charlestown. Turns out that they did use me at least for the web video.

Anyway, interviewer was so funny because he picked ME up and used all these leading questions (Are you CONCERNED about this incident?! Are you going to CHANGE your LIFESTYLE?!?!) I was all like, Yeah - marginally and No. It's the city, sh#t happens. Note that I'm not wearing an iPod here. He laughed at that all and just said that I was OK. Whatever. Seeing the video, I'm not too disappointed at the editing.

I honestly hope the woman he stabbed is okay. She was just defending herself, for crying out loud. Of course, I hope they get the guy. Eventually, I think they will. Still, this sort of stuff is annoying, and a large part of the reason why I don't go out much after dark (unlike when I lived in Eastie).
Put up a thistle sack this weekend. The finches seem to really like it.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Turnip.

I go through a lot of these in the Winter; just love them. However, couldn't bear to cut into this one when I saw that it started sprouting a few weeks ago:

Turnip Centerpiece

A slightly unusual centerpiece

Turnip Greens

Outside catching the few rays there are to be had this time of year.

Turnip with Bouquet

Back indoors, stealing the bouquet's fire.

Pavel wanted to eat the greens right away, but I am enjoying watching the thing grow. Maybe later on this week I'll cut the top off and plant it. Would be nice to keep something growing throughout the Winter. Would also be nice to have fresh greens in the Spring.
First Snow of the Season.

The guy at the corner store yesterday said that we were going to have snow today, though not much more than a light dusting:

First Snow

Kind of pleasant, though it's really doing nothing for my seasonal spirit.



I might feel differently when it covers up the junk in the yard. Oh, and when the schoolwork is done. And when I'm safely landed and on my way to what's sort of becoming the default home for the holidays. (Don't like flying at this time of year. There's nearly always weather trouble at some point in the trip.)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Very little talk till the end of the month. I have too much outside work to do.
Tried to call the housemate, but the fingers punched the number of the Ex for some reason. How strange to hear his voice after maybe a year of not talking.
Mumbai? Whatever.

The French are still calling it Bombay, so why should I change to some new but still incorrect pronunciation.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Last night was my turn to pick a fight with the Frenchie. I do feel bad about that. I do feel threatened by him sometimes, though, and wonder if that ish't natural. Guess that's why we pay shrinks.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wouldn't it be great if someone I knew were to hop on the bus and pay a visit just like back in the day?



Snort. At least I think it'd be great, anyway.
OMG.

Three weeks till school's out. Wish me luck. I need it.
Important stuff to keep in mind.

Got into a conversation with a friend yesterday who said that we westerners were in the worst of times because of "rabid, radical feminism." It kind of blew my mind to think that she could have that mindset (not that I'm a rabid feminist or anything. Really.) when even nowadays (though not so much in the in the west after maybe fifty years ago) a woman could be put to death as a witch, gang raped, forced into prostitution, etc if she was a non-breeding woman without a husband.

I don't like a lot of what's going on in the world we're currently in, and I certainly don't like a lot of the western male's misogynistic backlash against the feminist pendulum overcompensating, but I also understand who the good guys are or, ultimately, which side my bread's buttered on.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Top Minds are at work trying to gain access to the seed dispenser. Have witnessed some amazing acrobatics from the balcony, the tallest yew branches that will support a squirrel's weight, the feeder itself.

Clearly, we're going to have to rethink the position and style of said feeder. It's not going to last long where it's hanging.
Managed to get the skeleton together for the paper on Progressivism: reasons for its popularity among Democrats and Republicans, reforms associated with the movement and its shortcomings/short sightedness.

Though this is a wonderfully interesting time period, it's going to very soon end in heartbreak with America's involvement in the first world war.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Yes, and the squirrels had their Thanksgiving as well:



Rest assured that, as soon as Pavel saw what was happening, he moved the feeder. Tomorrow, I'll trim the yews back some more.

Hopefully your Thanksgiving was at least as good as theirs. (Mine turned out pretty well after all.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Seven Courses?

Crudites / relish tray

Welsh Rarebit

Mushrooms with sausage stuffing

Pumpkin Soup with Molasses cream

Squash with fruit stuffing (dates, walnuts, figs, raisins, apples, cranberries)



Chuck pretending to be a Warner Brothers Cartoon Headhunter with a leftover stuffed squash.

Turkey and Ham with Fixings: green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, yams with brown sugar, oyster stuffing, orange pineapple jello mold, Watergate Salad (complete with copy of Alice's Restaurant), potato rolls, biscuits...

Dessert: Pies, pies and more pies. I had a bit of cherry cheesecake that someone had brought along.

Washed it all down with some of this. It's not really good wine, and one seldom is able to manage more than a few sips, but am such a sucker for the posters announcing its arrival every year.

Il est arrive!

The label's particularly pretty this year.

There were plenty of breaks for naps, conversation and keeping up dishes (a necessity, as Shanna's kitchen is pretty small). Chuck and I also got into running around the house in between courses. Don't know that any amount of exercise or pacing would have saved us from feeling like just-fed boas afterwards, though.
Well, I'd intended to spend the day alone doing work. Didn't quite work out that way.

Essentially, got an unexpected visit from friends who'd originally invited me to their place and was all but shanghaied. As Chuck put it, "everybody should have dinner today, even if it means dragging them out of their house in their pajamas."

He was right, I had a very good time (though am overstuffed - it was a seven course meal). Sometimes your friends know better than you what's best for you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Speaking of Historical Perspectives -

Off to school now to be regaled with tales of the Hundred Years War and the Papal Schism. Good times, good times.
Keeping Things in Perspective.

It's what's keeping me on a fairly even keel during this period of flashy rhetoric from Congress and gloom and dooming from the media.*

As I mentioned earlier, have been slogging my way through the Progressive Era when things were much worse for the wage workers than today** and was noting that the leadup what's happening nowadays is strikingly similar to before the depressions of 1894 and 1929. Even then, especially with the birth of the Progressive and Socialist parties, there were calls to nationalize industries. Teddy Roosevelt, Taft to a lesser extent and even Wilson were more in favor of regulation, however. Of course, as we've seen lately, too much regulation as well as bad regulation can cause problems, too.

Anyway, the calls for revolution we hear from the left, the far right, whoever else, aren't anything new, nor are they really likely to lead to any cataclysmic changes (as some against their better judgements would hope)***. Even the progressives back in the time of Square Deal Teddy knew this.

Finley Peter Dunne, a humorist during that era best known for his Mr. Dooley**** anecdotes, very nicely summed up the progression of American government and reform by likening it to housecleaning:

"The noise you hear is not the first gun of a revolution. It's only the people of the United States beating a carpet."


Would that more people would keep this in mind nowadays. It'd save us from a lot of grief later on.

---


* Their perspective's been a gloomy one for a while, as, well, they're all going out of business. Wonder when the Times, for example, is going to ask for a bailout.

** Again, perspective: between 1895-1896 something like 1000 banks failed and there was NO deposit insurance back then, either. There was no worker's compensation, no unemployment, very few pay raises, next to no job security, either. Not like we have nowadays, anyway. Also, the government used to send the National Guard out to shoot people who struck.

*** At least, I hope, in this Brave New technological world, that there won't be any major cataclysms. After all, a Czogolsz today has access to things far more lethal than a pistol.

**** Amazon's got a deal on two of Dunne's Mr. Dooley books, I see. Even one would be nice, though. *hint.*
Funny thing, all this worry about a bad holiday buying season. I'm noting that things are much less expensive than last year, and am taking that into account (am living on a fixed income right now, after all). For example, in this morning's email, got a note from Land's End letting me know that the sweater I bought for myself last year on sale for $90 is now selling for a little short of half that. Also got a voucher for free shipping. Heck, might actually buy myself another (or even two, though that'd be a bit extreme).
This morning, Pablo, Tony and I sat in thrall watching the scene out the kitchen window. The squirrels discovered the seed dispenser and were trying different ways to get to it from the yew branches.



The window's a bit dirty on the outside, so couldn't actually get any good pictures. This is a pretty good representation, though (from a sadly not very good movie.)

Resolved: this weekend, I raise the feeder, trim the yew branches back even further, wash the kitchen window on both sides.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pavel helped make dinner today. Actually, he did most of the work, and pretty well, too.

For a starter we had cucumbers with some saucisson sec I picked up at the cheese market and a bit of feta.

The main dish was sweet sausage sauteed with onions, peppers and mushrooms.

Dessert, a bit of yogurt with dried fruit.

He's getting there.
Learned a fun expression in French today:

Mettre la charrue avant le boeuf.

Idiomatically, it means to put the cart before the horse.

This came in response to the Frenchie's proposal to maybe go to Copenhagen or Venice for the holiday. I was all like, okay, but first I have to get a flight to where you are and before that, I have to finish school. Let's not put the plow before the ox, d'accord?
Also: I want a quiet several days to just concentrate on reading and writing. Mainly writing.

Oh, and the stomach's really bothering me right now. Just thinking about traditional fare is making me cringe. (shiver)
Spent a good deal of time going over with the therapist today why I didn't want to spend Thanksgiving with anyone but me. I just don't feel like going out, being with a group of people, having to be social. I'm tired. On the best days, I have to psyche myself up to plunge into group dynamics. When I'm tired like this folks, no matter how my relationship with them, suck even more life out of me.

I don't know if she believed me; had the weird look on the face that tells me that I described something wacky. Finished up the session by assuring her that I'd probably end up going where I'd been invited. We'll see about that.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tea Stains.

Since oaks and, to a lesser extent, maples contain tannins, I'm going to guess that that is what stained the newish, probably not sealed concrete in front of the nursing home on Summer Street:

Tea Stains II

Oak, maple impressions. The brown leaf looks like it's from a tulip tree. The yellow bit, probably the same thing.

It's amazing what one will find (aside from spare change. Found $.36 this afternoon.) when one remembers to look down.
Home From School.

I'm not usually too keen on my walks into school. Am normally running late, so will end up taking the quickest route through some rather pedestrian-hostile and not-very-picturesque territory.

The walk home is usually more leisurely. Often, I'll take the train from Bunker Hill to Sullivan, then make my way over to Union Square. This isn't as interesting as the old walks through the junkyards, but it's still pretty okay.

Where things get really nice is between Union and home. Prospect to Spring Hill is so much less crowded? Expansive? than Winter Hill is. Sometimes I even forget that I'm in one of the most densely-packed urban areas in the country when I'm wandering through here:

Canopy

Sugar maple canopy near the nursing home.

--

Rectory

Rectory for St. Catherine of Genoa Church. From this angle, looks more like a manor house.

--

Squirrel's Nest

Squirrel's nest.

--

Pretty Blue Flower

Last bloom of the season. Have no idea what this is - thought it was bachelor's buttons, only it's growing on a shrub.

--

Blue Barn

A barn! Someone actually lives here, too! I thought it was just a garage; certainly is not like the normal Somerville Victorian. Love the crabapple tree, too. (Okay, I admit. It's a dream house.)

--

Last Leaf

The very last leaf on the neighbor's Japanese maple.
The good in today?

Excellent walking weather, learning how to use the school's computer center (it's a very nice one, too), cheese from Capone's (Old Amsterdam, a 'sweet' gorgonzola and a chevre that's hopefully as good as the one in yesterday's salad) a pot of gorgeous-smelling beef soup on the stove and some Russian choral music on the radio.
Yes, and today's history lecture was on the dawn of the 14th century. Namely, the Black Death.

Wednesday is going to prove to be just as cheery, as the focus will be on the Hundred Years War.

(American History: I'm between two depressions. Love Teddy Roosevelt, though I can tell that Hofstadter couldn't stand him and really tried to push the notion that he suffered from Little Wiener syndrome. Not too nuts about FDR.)
Got some more bad news from the Heimats-front last night. Joked with my dad that, next time he calls me on a Sunday evening, I'm just not going to answer. Sunday nights are bad enough already. In any event, if someone's dead, they shouldn't mind if I don't hear until Monday morning.

All humor aside, I think we're all kind of bugged out with this as, though Sandy was sick and there were a fair number of trials family-wise, no one imagined that she'd end up ending things herself.

Hell, don't think we'd have imagined the same of my brother or sister-in-law, either, for that matter. Shows how much we all know.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tonight's movie on PBS was a favorite when I was a kid:



So much for Cinemascope.

Such a silly story. Worth it for the scenes of Venice, though. Rossano Brazzi, too.
Now, this is sweet.
Was walking down Elm Street tonight after a late lunch at Christopher's (squash soup and a salad of greens, sun-dried tomatoes and a dreamy creamy goat cheese. Gosh, I'm still daydreaming about that cheese.) when I chanced to look west for the last bit of daylight. Saw suspended in the sky above the Porter Exchange two planets: Venus (for sure) and, further out, possibly Jupiter.

Made me smile to think how they looked like a slowed-down to stop version of planes waiting for landing clearance at Logan.
Two new feeders went up today: another suet cake cage and a plastic seed-dispenser I picked up while grocery shopping. Hung one from the second floor landing so that I could see it from the back kitchen window; hung the other from a branch in the yew tree. Am looking forward to see who comes visiting, provided the seed dispenser survives a squirrel onslaught, of course.

Pablo tells me he thinks that this might be a good antidepressant. We'll see.
Started taking something else for the moods lately; seems to be working okay except that I've had to completely lay off alcohol. Not even a single glass of wine or a beer, as both have affected me really weirdly lately.

Though I'm still a bit edgy, have been sleeping better. That's the best thing. Before, if I could get to sleep at all, it'd only be a troubled one for a couple hours at a time.

Concentration's getting better, too. Also, again, though I've had some sorely upsetting times, am finding that I can lay stuff aside somewhat in order to get done what I need to. Very important right now.
Made a couple drastic changes to the look. First, chopped the hair off to just above chin-length. Have had three haircuts over the last six months; wasn't happy with any of them. Don't know why, but no one wanted to do what I wanted done. Finally, ended up taking matters in my own hands and saving about $40 in the process. I'm assured that the ends are even and that I'd even done a good job shaving my neck (borrowed Pablo's beard trimmer). Uneven ends are never really a big concern of mine, as the curls hide mistakes well.

Since the hair was altogether too blonde for this time of year, hennaed it as well. Went two shades darker instead of the normal one. The contrast is greater than usual, yes, but the color suits me.

I look like a flapper now, especially when I wear a beret. Makes me smile when I catch a reflection. Haven't taken pleasure in my reflection in a while.
Althouse linked today to an article on the decline of the cafe in France.

It's interesting in a couple senses, as firstly, this is exactly the sort of anti-anti smoking puff piece one found in all the French papers around the first of January last year (when the ban took effect)*. Also, there is no mention of just how high prices are in a lot of cafes and just what one's getting when one decides to patronize one.

Way before the current financial crisis, prices were rising like crazy all over Europe, the first big jump being when currencies switched to the Euro (In Paris, for example, one would see things happen like a coffee going from, say, four francs to now two-two and a half euro - keep in mind that the fixed rate of exchange is +-6.2 francs/euro.).

While this was going on, many cafe and brasserie owners started serious corner-cutting on what they were serving. A lot of this occurred in the area of service and what one was being served. It was considered, for example, a better money-maker to serve bottled juice rather than fresh-squeezed at the same price. Meals, also, tended to be ordered pre-made from central (industrial, as the French call them) kitchens. Teas or tisanes? Often whatever came in the bulk order from the fournisseur one normally used (not very good. In fact, store brand from France's Target - Monoprix is of much better quality, and one can buy a box of 20 bags for about the same price as one cup of the bad cafe stuff). In the end, cafe or brasserie-going had become analogous to paying chop house prices for TGIF fare.

Now, this isn't always the case. One can still find the old-styled cafe bars/brasseries if one asks around. There are also many newer cafe-brasserie owners who are reviving the old business model of actually working harder for their money. Complain as some might about being the victims of 'nanny state*' legislation and a bad economy, there is also a fair bit of market correction going on as well.

***

* Would be interesting to see some data on the economic impact of this ban on cafes and bars. My impression, for what it's worth, is that many places are doing just fine, if not better, as many have expanded their terrain to the sidewalks. Technically the smoking areas are outside, as they're not in the building itself. However, I've seen some rather lavish tent-setups. The norm is a few tables under an awning with heat lamps being optional.

** Conventional wisdom dictates that the French are more sophisticated (whatever that means) than Americans regarding alcohol consumption, however, drunk driving has always been a serious problem. Hard drinking by younger people has also become a big issue - perhaps due exposure to much heavier drinkers across the Channel? I'm not really sure, though I have heard of informal bans and bar closings during soccer matches when British teams are playing on French soil. Would be interesting to see some more information regarding this.
I guess this is what we get instead of casinos.
Interesting look at how expansive piracy is in the world today. Not a good thing when you take into account the fact that Johnny Depp has nothing to do with any of this.
Found this quiz on what should be some pretty fundamental knowledge, but I guess isn't. Didn't get a perfect score, but certainly did better than most. Why not give it a try and see how you do?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Okay, back to work.

Also, for the life of me, I can't get the banner in my blog header trimmed properly. That's bugging me.
What's this all about? Well, after clearing out my spam folder and finding the latest coups in the current jeu de pouvoir, decided to read something not-school-related.

Boy, do I wish I could unread this.
This year's particularly bad holiday-wise. I miss my brother and want him to be okay. I can't bear speaking to my mother who's gone off the deep end. Dealing with her is just plain painful, as all I ever get is a semi-coherent litany of all the things wrong with me (nearly all of which being imaginary). Spam filters, meditation and rereading Pizzey only get you so far.

Friends keep telling me that it's not me, that it's her own self-loathing. I understand that. Still, I'm the object. I'm the one under siege as she attempts to make herself feel better. This is exhausting.
Absolutely had to get away from the current reading: Teddy Roosevelt, War against Spain, Progressivism vs Populism, etc. Don't get me wrong, it's fascinating stuff. However, I'm starting to feel as though, for each new item I try to stuff into my little brain, something's going to have to come out.

Am feeling a little sore because the Frenchie wanted to argue and I didn't (was developing a tension headache - maybe from the conversation), so ended up being hung up on. With all the stress going on around me, I'd like to not have to deal with stuff like this. Really.

It doesn't help matters that the cold blows in through the windows here (classic Somerville, yeah) like there aren't any windows and next week is the start of the holiday season. Usually I can try to psych myself into not being miserable this time of year. Am not doing so well right now, though.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nose to the Grindstone Time.

One more paper done. Have two more that I want to finish before Thanksgiving and two more that I want done by the following weekend. Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm sure the pirates are so concerned.

Funny to think that maybe India's the new America in this regard, in spite of BBC praise.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Made beef carbonnade for dinner last night. Wasn't too crazy about it. I think I like a stew with more vegetables and a soupier broth than this had.
Had to put out two more cakes of suet this morning. Funny how one suddenly can end up with three dozen mouths to feed.

Anyway, in addition to the squirrels, have seen sparrows (of course), a starling or two, a couple blue jays and a cardinal. Pretty typical city dwellers. Am wondering what to put out in order to attract some of the less common Somerville inhabitants, like goldfinches, for example or even maybe a woodpecker.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Well, yeah.



He'd have been called pendejo, that's why.
***

What an amazing design feat this is, by the way. Brings to mind a favorite movie that's somewhat related:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Who's been stealing the suet?

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Court, I rest my case.
Given that I'd worked across the street from an abattoir for not quite a decade, I really don't have much problem with chicken slaying, ritual or otherwise. Am seriously thinking of wearing my Christmas tee shirt to class in response.
Wednesday Night is Shakespeare Night.

Only, since the group's read through all the plays, they were reading other things last night. Chuck read from The Hobbit and a text he had on the magic associated with metallurgy in West African societies*. Pavel read from Judges, Lovecraft and Mark Twain. I read from the opening paragraphs from my current Hofstadter essay on the Spoilsmen:

"When Collis P. Huntington wrote to a political agent concerning some of his bribery for the Southern Pacific:

If you have to pay money to have the right thing done, it is only just and fair to do it...If a man has the power to do great evil and won't do right unless he is bribed to do it, I think the time spent will be gained when it is a man's duty to go up and bribe the judge. A man that will cry out against them himself will also do these things himself. If there was none for it, I would not hesitate--

he was not being a sanctimonious hypocrite; he was merely expressing his passionate American conviction that he had every honest right to come into his own, and it is doubtful that many tycoons of his time would have difered in principle. To imagine that such men did not sleep the sleep of the just would be romantic sentimentalism. In the Gilded Age even the angels sang for them..."**

Chuck almost fell out of his chair laughing. How little things have changed over time! The only difference between then and now, however, is the lack of a populist sort of movement. I mean: the Democrats aren't for The People, as aren't the Republicans. The Populist Party is long gone. Unions? Bah. Unions are only in the business of self-perpetuation nowadays, workers be d@mned. I can't see the Libertarian 'movin' on up' from its ghetto - especially not with their last presidential pick, either.

What other options are we not thinking of (reform for any of the above movements aside? Don't see much of that in the horizon.) here?

***

* Chuck's a blacksmith with a serious background in art history. He's my lifeline for all things academic in that realm. The reading on African metallurgy was in response to a rather weird comment I got on one of my shorter papers for Western Civilization. I'd analyzed an excerpt of a letter from Pope Gregory to one of his missionaries in the Anglo Saxon territories regarding his very pragmatic change of heart about the destruction of pagan temples. At the end, I'd put a footnote in about interesting pockets of celtic culture that exist today, such as the burning of John Barleycorn in the UK, la 'parade des geants' in Germanic northern France, and mumming in the Baltics. The response was, "but where does it stop (or should it)? Is killing chickens ritually by African Christians OK because that is what they did before conversion?"

**The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It. Richard Hofstadter; pp. 214-215. For what it's worth, I cannot recommend this book enough. In fact: if you'd like a copy, I have an extra. Will send it to you. Seriously.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008



Raked the lawn yesterday afternoon. Guess I missed a spot.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New England.



This one goes out to The Frenchie. If they start giving out Keys to the Region, he should be a charter recipient. Jonathan Richman should get one as well. But first The Frenchie.
The fact that I've been dealing with it since birth still doesn't lessen the shock of darkness before five in the evening.

Front Hall Light II

Front Hall Light in the new Spring Hill Fortress of Solitude.
Am still trying to decide whether I have a cold or allergies. Maybe it was a cold, after all. The glands on my neck are swollen, I'm tired all the time as well. Concentration's tough; it feels as though my head's stuffed with packing peanuts.

Am almost finished with my Gilded Age paper; talked my way through it with my Dad. Dad's a pretty major history buff and helped clarify things, point out stuff I left out, etc.

It's not writer's block that is getting to me. Rather, the fact that I always end up with twice what I need information and word-wise to complete the assignment. Cutting always feels bad, but what else can one do?

Gosh, I enjoy this.
The truth is coming out and she's scared. Da hab'ich vernommen. There's been some furtive rooting around, some grasping enrobed in sugary words for something of use - either to discredit or to threaten with.

That's what it's always been about. Never our well being.

I'm just sorry that it took such a violent shock to knock the lid off it all.


This is my dad some forty-odd years ago. It was taken in Texas, where he was stationed before being shipped off to Vietnam. He was in signal corps.

To him and all the others who've Fought the Good Fight, from Flanders Fields to Fallujah, thank you.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

After much prodding (and more than a little unpleasantness on my part. Sometimes you have to trade the honey for vinegar, unfortunately. Especially when housing codes and personal safety are at issue), Pablo finally got the new CO and smoke alarms up. Now I can call the fire inspector and get stuff signed off on.

For dinner, had some left over hot basil rice that I added some pasta, frozen green beans and eggs to in order to stretch it out. Not bad.

Made some tea and broke out a box of French digestive biscuits to go with. I consider them oddly comforting in an old-lady way, kind of like prune juice. Pablo couldn't help bringing up Colon Blow:



Yeah, that's about right, too.
Yesterday: had a tickle in my throat.

Today: feels like I'm on the road to a full-blown cold.

Not what I need right now. Very difficult to focus, to even keep energy up for the basic things.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Have been a bit under the weather lately - twisted my back. Will get better when the weather dries up. Also, a couple very interesting assignment topics:

American History - on the notion of Social Darwinism and how industrialists subscribed to that. Also, how it helped in molding what we consider the "American Dream" for immigrants, Americans in the lower classes.

Western Civilization - a 'special assignment.' We had to either do a book report, do a critique of a couple assigned films, go to a classical music concert and describe that, or go to an art museum and describe a few works we saw there. I chose the last option, and not just because I was at the Louvre last week, either. Had for a while been tossing around the idea for a little presentation outlining Hellenistic influence on art in Persia



Three Persian goddesses (Inanna?), ca. 300 bce - 300 ce. Click to see everyone in the picture; Blogger's cutting things off again.

as well as in more modern (Renaissance and beyond) works.



Three Graces, Jean-Jacques Pradier, 1831

This could easily have been done based on both Harvard's and the MFA's holdings, but, well, since I had some good pictures from France, I figured what the heck.

Had another assignment due on Tuesday for Western Civilization - got it handed in, but wasn't very pleased about it (and said so). This was regarding elements of Roman Civilization that disappeared and were preserved in the Germanic kingdoms that filled the power vacuum after the collapse of the Western sector of the old empire. Not too difficult, but my brain kind of froze up with the family stupidity going on and I began fixating on the similarities/differences between Burgundian Law and Hammurabi's Code (namely social stratification and the idea of fixing a monetary value on people).



Was more than a little dazzled by this. Given its significance, (Hammurabi's Code being one of the bases of Western Law and all), was surprised to see the hall where it's displayed nearly empty.

I hate it when my brain goes AWOL on me like that.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I don't think that the problem here is so much being American as being an idiot. Idiocy generally isn't cool anywhere, even in Europe.
As for the election results, well, I'm not thrilled, but I'm not going to be an a$$hole about things either like most Democrats around here have been for the past eight years or would have been if he'd not have been elected.* Am just going to go on with life (and believe me, stuff's tough right now) and pray that the new president doesn't screw anything up too terribly.

What else can one do?

---
* Was a little disturbed to hear my history prof today make the claim that, if Obama had not won, riots would have been justified/understandable.
Contradictions.



"Your race! If you are antiamerican, you're racist now!"

Funny how these things work out. I'll give the "goodwill" a week, tops.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Didn't have the greatest start to the day, as at about 4:00 this morning, got a recorded phone call from Somerville telling me that there was a multiple-alarm fire in the neighborhood and that I needed to call them to confirm receipt (something like that). Called the number cited and just barely made out from the guy who answered that the fire was on Walnut Street and that the call was a mistake. He then asked me if I lived with Paul (huh?).

Had a really difficult time falling back to sleep I was so creeped out. Turns out, Pavel heard the call from downstairs and was kind of weirded out as well.

Since we were still up at around six, decided to get ready and go to the polling station first thing in order to avoid the lines. (snort) As it turned out, when we got there at 6:55 am, there was already a long line twisting through the parking lot of the Dante Club and starting its way up Craigie Street.

I'd say that it took probably about an hour to get through the line. Voting took maybe two minutes. (Pays to do your research beforehand). Though we both voted similarly on the candidate portion, on the ballot questions, we sort of cancelled each other out:

1: He voted yes, I voted no. I understand his point of view, as, having worked for a horrendously wasteful government-funded organization for years, I'd love to see them starved of funds. However, this isn't how stuff works out. Most likely what would happen is that, as a punitive measure, schools, fire, police, etc - really necessary, public face stuff would be cut out.

2: He voted yes, I voted no. His maintenance is that, if marijuana is decriminalized, that would mean that college students would stay home stoned rather than vote, and we need to keep dumb kids out of the polls (he also thinks we should raise the voting age to 40 and only allow property owners the vote, as well.) My thoughts on the subject are that it's a slippery slope (How's that decriminalization of cocaine and statutory rape working out, London?).

3: He voted no, I voted yes. It's not that I hate dogs, far from it. It's the wording of the question that bothered me. Seemed more like MA trying to regulate betting and couching it in animal rights more than anything else.

Questions 4 and 5 (only valid in our part of Somerville): We both voted no, as, as I'd mentioned before, they are supported by a very noxious pressure group that will not take no for an answer.

***

Afterwards, went over to Starbucks to get coffee, but couldn't stand another line. Wasn't worth it, even for free good stuff.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Should I upgrade to Firefox 3x? I heard that it's bad. However, the version I have seems to have image formatting weirdness with Blogger.
Do As I Say...



Frame one: (Frenchie) Obama, Obama! I'm all for Obama!
Frame two: (Radio Announcer) So, you're all for a black president? (Frenchie) Yes, yes, yes...
Frame three:...in America!


Sarkozy got where he is by out LePenning LePen. They're also not looking out for the US's best interest, either, for that matter. (Something to keep in mind if you're one of those folks who feels the need to look to Europe for counsel on how to cast your vote.)
As the Obama campaign's been behaving similarly to Sarkozy's in France last year, figured it might not be a bad thing to revisit this bit I translated on psyching out the electorate with polls.
Yeah, right. Godwin's Law. Whatever.
Good think I looked up my ballot information on the web. My part of Somerville's got two other non binding ballot questions from those same Nazi whack jobs* who keep trying to get the city to divest its pension fund of Israeli companies.

***

* Sorry, but won't link to them. If you feel the need to do so, go to effing d*i*v*e*s*t*m*e*n*t p*r*o*j*e*c*t dot org.
Vin Chaud.

After a long walk through the park in a cold, driving rain, our first thought was of finding something to warm our insides up a bit. Versailles being what it is, at one of the back gates, we managed to find a couple of brasseries (old style cafe-bars that used to specialize in beer) that weren't devoted solely to the tourist trade.



Small, spotless, and very welcoming looking, this sort of outfit is becoming rarer and rarer in the Parisian area due to rising costs and the new politic of buying premade 'meals to go' that the cooks just reheat. I was particularly charmed by the old sandwich menu which was exactly the same as the one the cafe/bar in the mountainside village I lived in as a student. Even had the same sandwiches: jambon beurre (ham and butter), pate au canard (duck pate), croque monsieur (kind of like a monte cristo, but without the jam). The special of the day was a choucroute garnie - sauerkraut with all sorts of goodies within. The next day was pot-au-feu. Was sorry to not have been there for dinner. Maybe next time.

Teas and hot cocoa aren't always the best bet in these places, as the cocoa tends to be the powdered stuff like it is here and the tea's often the cheapest available. My default is usually vin chaud: a lovely drink of diluted, sweetened red wine heated up by the cappucino machine's milk frother, served with a slice of lemon and the house bottle of cinnamon.



Warms up the hands, calms a scratchy throat, takes the edge off a chilly night, soothes the soul.

Though it tastes better sitting in a cafe watching the folks running between the raindrops outdoors and having your conversation partner making fun of your Buffalo accent (not thick, but noticeable), vin chaud isn't at all bad at home in front of a roaring fire, or in the kitchen with a few friends as a sort of pre-aperitif warmer. Here's my version for two:

1 1/2 c. red table wine
1/2 c. water
sugar to taste (I don't like stuff too sweet, so 1 tsp for two people's enough for me)
two slices of lemon (or orange)
cinnamon to taste

Heat the water, wine and sugar in a small, heavy-bodied saucepan. When steaming, but not boiling, pour into two heavy glasses or mugs. Float a fruit slice on each serving and sprinkle as much cinnamon as you'd like on top. Enjoy.



The Frenchie being French.
Under the Pyramid.



Who'd have thought that Pei's design was not more than a great glass anthill in the heart of the Louvre?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Airplane Knitting.



Another simple scarf, as I often am too tired to work on anything more complicated. Just need to keep my hands moving. I love the softness of this yarn, a pre-felted wool dyed the color of birch leaves. Love to watch the progression of the pools of color as knit along. Am very happy with my simple stitch pattern, as well. It's a broken rib:

row 1: k1 p1 to end.
row 2: p1 k1 to end.
row 3: k to end.

Repeat until desired length or you run out of yarn.
Last night, my body woke me up at three am, thinking that it was eleven in the morning. My brain, half asleep, started letting in the awful thoughts that have been plaguing me for the past couple weeks. I just couldn't stop them. Called the Frenchie who calmed me as best as he could, then tried to read some. The words ran together so much that it caused a pain just underneath the forehead right between my eyes. Turned the light off and tossed around a bit. Finally settled down on my stomach. After a few minutes, the power symbol came to mind. I mentally drew it in different positions around me as well as around the house for protection. Fell right to sleep after that.
My brother is in a lot of weird badness. I don't really want to talk too much about it here; too upsetting. There's absolutely nothing I can do for him.

All I can do is hope he'll be alright, that somehow he'll get out of everything with his sanity and his soul intact. I pray, too, that my mother doesn't make matters worse.
The best thing about the trip away was having someone there to take care of me: feed me, take me for walks, hold my hand, let me cry. I don't have a lot of nurturing, short of what I give myself (and that's very little) here.
Home Again.



Suresnes to Paris on foot takes about as long as it does to get from Somerville to Boston. I'm thinking that it's prettier to Paris, though I'm not so sure that I'd want to go it alone through the Bois de Boulogne.

Couldn't have picked a better time to get a few timezones between myself and the East Coast. Of course, this comes with a price - this time, not only the standard six hour difference, but two reversions to Standard time. Am not feeling my best, but will hopefully bounce back soon.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Plus ça change.

Was reading about the Hayes/Tilden race in 1876 earlier today. Funny how history tends to repeat itself.
Nostalgia for the Sixties.



Rove to Bush: "Obama's going to be elected, Mr. President."

Ahh, France. Not quite our enemy, but not really our friend, either. It's really funny, but there appears to be just as much coverage of the US elections as back in the States, mainly in the form of pro Obama propaganda. A fair amount of paper/ink has been devoted to analyses of the American electorate with similar conclusions as what one sees in the US: namely that if Obama isn't voted in, it proves that we are all racist.

Today, wandering around the Porte d'Auteil, saw someone with an Obama sticker on their motorcycle. Showed it to the Frenchie and mentioned that not only did the guy probably contribute to the campaign (he was French; heard him say something), but he was probably registered to vote in Ohio or some other swing state.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's amazing how lives can change, how people can be reborn or lost in a matter of seconds. My brain still hasn't caught up with the events of the past few days.

On Sunday, I got the word from my dad that me (ex) sister-in-law had killed herself and that my brother had disappeared. According to the police, a note she left stated that my brother and she had some sort of suicide pact. It didn't feel as though my little brother'd killed himself (believe me, you can feel these things) to anyone, so we held out hope.

Today, got the call from my mother that the police did indeed find my brother. However, a car chase ensued, my brother went over a guard rail, and apparently, (according to the police), he's currently in the hospital with head trauma. The severity and scope of his injuries are unknown to us, as the hospital won't divulge this information, even to next of kin.

At least my mother, perhaps my mother and father both will be heading out to Denver over the next couple days to see what's what.

I'm praying for a soul to finally be at peace, and for the best possible outcome in the other's situation. If you're up for that sort of thing, I'm sure that Kauri and Patrick could use your good thoughts as well.
Leaving for France today. I really need to get away, de changer mes idees un peu. It's been a horrible few days.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Life IS an eternal, infernal spinning wheel.

Why do we keep making the same mistakes over and over again? I'm trying, trying my damndest to stop letting the past dictate my present so. To break the cycle of bad decisions that I make based on habit and a perceived comfort zone. It's hard, but I will do it. In spite of all the obstacles the world and I may put up.

I think that my little brother is as strong as me in some ways. We're different in a lot of ways, but are still made from the same material. He's in a very bad way now, and I can only hope that his Stern will schein like mine did when I needed it.

Good Lord, he deserves better than what he's allowed himself. I hope that he'll come to understand this, that he'll not do something stupid, that he'll just call, send a message, something.

God, I hope he's alright.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

My therapist tells me that I need a vacation.

Have been invited to France, but am feeling too stressed out to deal with details. This isn't good, as going there will only do me good.
Things Fall Apart.

Saturday night, ended up being doused in cat pee after a freak accident. As I don't have much in terms of a wardrobe right now and the wash machine is busted, this has posed somewhat of a difficulty.

Late Sunday night, remembered that I had a paper due for Monday that I hadn't started yet. For some reason, thought I needed it for Wednesday. Managed to throw something together, but wasn't too happy with it.

Monday, broke my coffee pot. Dropped it on the floor. As it was falling, just thought, oh geez. Something else I have to buy. (Was a French press).

Yesterday, The Curse came a week early, bringing with it a hazy brain and horrible stomach problems that woke me up several times last night.

Today, set off the house alarm by accident. Luckily the police didn't come. Decided to forego the second cup of coffee, though, as my nerves were (and are) so badly jangled.

Am fighting some serious writer's block for my American History class with a little (but not enough) success.

Guess I'm not feeling so great. Will try to get out the door early today to walk to school, as the sunshine and cool air will probably do me some good.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Yes, I did find my camera this morning. It was at the bottom of a box of sweaters.

Am very happy though a bit overwhelmed, as there's something like 500 images that need to be gone gone through/worked over.
Le Voyeur.





This is Trouble. He's a bit obsessed by Ampersand. He is always at the door and it really upsets her. Heck, it unnerves me, too. Am going to probably have to either put a curtain on the door or cover the bottom row (or two) of windows with paper.
A treat for me for after the next batch of writing I need to complete.

Would be interesting to see/hear what Wolfe has to say about these essays nearly forty years after having written them.
Joe Six Pack.

Funny that there's no mention of all members of the Nervous Nellie bloc who, every four years, are reduced to hysteria (not to mention self-caricature) over the notion that the Evil Republicans plan on taking over their wombs.

Guess I just find it ironic that an AP writer (professional pigeonholer in these cases) is taking Palin to task for doing what the Democrats/the left have done with women, minorities, lower economic classes forever.

Friday, October 03, 2008

A bumper sticker we saw tonight:

"Vote Counting Should Be A Hand Job."
Since we were in Porter for dinner tonight, decided to take a walk around North Cambridge before hitting Stah for some staples and packing it in for the night. Passed by a little boutique whose pretty paper lamps perched on graceful stems beckoned to us. (Will have to investigate further, as it appears they give lessons on this apparently traditional Korean art form.)
Last night after the debate, wanted to take a walk. On the way back home, heard a bit of a conversation between some pretty young Somerville things about McCain's VP pick:

"Like, I hate Sarah Palin anyway, but, like, tonight I hate her even more because, like, everybody was watching the stupid debate because of her and, like nobody came in and I lost something like $100 in tips."

Pablo was furious. "Yeah, Palin planned it that way to keep women down. Should've just scheduled Biden to pontificate for an hour and a half all by himself, because then nobody'd watch and she wouldn't have lost her #$%& tip money. Of course it couldn't be that she didn't make any money because she's bad at her job, now, could it?"

Started throwing out ideas on how to limit the electorate to 'worthwhile' people like the Founding Fathers did: suggested that only property owners vote. I mentioned that that would bar me from voting, for example. Decided that literacy/intelligence tests wouldn't work, as around here, there are plenty of people who can read and who are educated, but who are dumb as a post anyway.

Just told him to be happy that it was Palin who was the VP pick and the Valley Girl transplant who was the waitress and not the other way around.
It's weird not being in the old place anymore. Even if I was unhappy there (really unhappy), am feeling odd due to the change in environment. I know that Ampersand's having a harder time than I am, as she's a bit terrified of the other cats.

It seems as though everything is falling apart here, as well. Have spent more time this week dealing with repair technicians than I normally did in a year at the old place. Kind of frustrating.

Have to be very careful not to fall into another funk and thus ruin everything that I'm trying to accomplish right now. Can sort of feel the funk coming on, too.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

"Prayer was my practice, sacrificing my law,
The day of worship of the gods the joy of my heart,
The day of devotion to the goddess more to me than riches;
What, however, seems good to oneself, to a god is displeasing,
What is spurned by oneself finds favor with a god;
Who is there that can grasp the will of the gods in heaven?
The plan of a god is full of mystery - who can understand it?
How can mortals learn the way of a god?"

An excerpt from a psalm that I need to make a few guesses about for my first Western Civilization class paper. (Where is the quote from?, What time period?, History of that culture, Most important contribution of said culture.)

All of this must be based on what we've read in class so far. No outside sources.

Interesting bit of forensic work, no? I'm really enjoying the class.

(By the way, you can google it if you want, but don't send any links back to me. I want to keep the magic of the mystery, work things out myself, enjoy the challenge.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Obama's teleprompter lays down the law.
Dad's got a camera.

He took it out for a walk along the Mighty Niagara the other day. Check out the Ferry Street bridge. My grandpa's last job before retiring was operating that bridge. I remember very distinctly visiting him and getting to hit the red button that made the thing open up. What a racket the sirens would make!

Also remember being a little bit scared climbing up the (to me) rickety metal circular staircase.
Am so sad! I cannot find my camera! I hope it turns up soon; had a lot of nice pictures from Maine last week.
Didn't get much sleep last night, as my political junkie housemate was kind of in an uproar about the whole bailout shenanigans. He'll do fine; it's just a means for him to let off steam, I think. (Myself, I raged a bit because I'd spent the afternoon doing a lot of heavy lifting and cleaning; was a bit overtired.)

Anyway - didn't get to bed until nearly one, then got up at four to take some friends to the airport. I think that a nap might be in order.
I shouldn't go to bed angry, really I shouldn't. I knew I couldn't afford to buy a house (or even a one bedroom anywhere within 20 miles of Boston, even though I qualified for "affordable*" housing and as a first-time homebuyer.), so I didn't. Now I, along with all the other folks who acted responsably, am somehow going to be responsible for bailing this mess out.

It could be worse, I guess. I could have ended up foreclosed upon.

Okay, bedtime.

***

* "Affordable" five years ago for a one-bedroom apartment in scenic junkyard land was about the same as what the old Greek Revival in Eastie was listed at nine years ago.



Yeah, good luck with that. This isn't the "affordable" housing I'm talking about. It's right next door, though, on the Cambridge/Somerville border. It'd be one thing if this were Davis Square or "Harvard Community" Cambridge. However, it isn't. It's in an area that recently had its zoning changed from industrial to residential. Sits just across the street from a couple junkyards, several chop shops and a bottle redemption center. Guess that's why there's such a high fence around it.
If it seems too good to be true -

You know, it's funny. I remember a while a back the ex's aunt telling me that I should get a job with Fannie Mae because they 'did good work' and 'supported good causes.' So much for that.



Enjoy the video while it lasts (Time Warner's already tried to pull it), and do watch it all the way through (it's long).
Got the move finished this weekend, am now just moving boxes around the house. Also am getting a couple papers written (yes, I'm writing a lot, I know). More soon, I promise!
A Happy New Year to all of my friends out there who are observing Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Remembrance.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Au Boulot.

Today: a little bit of writing on something by a dead Greek guy. Class. Moving some more stuff (not a lot). Back to Maine. Onward.
Had lunch with an old friend with whom contact's been sporadic for some time due to the vicissitudes of his life. (Gosh, what have I been missing while in my own little hole? How have I not been there for others when they could have used a hand? ech.)

Talked about the gardens, about the work, mainly about food. Also about history, as, well, that's his thing (not mine, though I'm working at remedying that).

It's amazing how just a little bit of time catching up with a friend can make the feet lighter and the shoulders straighter.

Lunch wasn't bad, either. Had the buffet at Martsa. It's really whetted my apetite for curry. So much so that I considered sprinkling some berbere on my english muffin this morning.
The Frenchie sounded well yesterday. I think that the year might actually be shaping up to be a good one for him. I certainly hope so. He deserves it.
Blonde Attitude.



Anne Roumanoff. Was reminded of her the other night by another friend. This one hits a bit close to home, but love it anyway.

Talking with my neighbor last night brought to mind rule #3 in Anne's treatise on Blonde Attitude (1:28-1:50ish):

"L'admiration dans la regarde. Ainsi, quand homme explique quelque chose, meme si c'est le menu d'un restaurant, je fais:

Ouais, ouais, je comprends...c'est fort...tout est tellement clair avec toi.

Pour vous entrainer a reussir dans la Blonde Attitude, repetez apres moi:
Je t'ecouterais parler pendant des heures..."

That is:

"When a man starts explaining something to you, even a restaurant menu, I say: yes, yes. I understand. Wow. Everything becomes so clear when I'm with you.

...

To get a bit of practice, repeat after me: "I could listen to you for hours..."
No, I did not forget about Roberta. Stopped by after cleaning up a bit and locking the house. Wanted to give me a gift she'd made for me: a huge crocheted doily. (No pictures yet, as the memory card reader's packed.) Took it home and dampened it a bit. It's currently blocking (somewhat) on my radiator. Can't decide whether it'll end up on the piano or as a dresser scarf. It's really lovely.

I like her. She's a bit of a busybody, but it's nice to have people keeping tabs on you when you're alone in the city. Kind of makes you feel not so alone. Truther Dude, who keeps odd hours and who apparently chats with her a fair bit as well, asked me (in a joking tone, but still kind of seriously) who she worked for.
And the house continues to empty out.

I finally got rid of the bedframe that has been the bane of my existence for all my time here. Years ago, bought a futon frame when I lived behind the Wine and Cheese Cask. One of my roommates, a little raver boy who was taking some time off from college to read philosophy, swing dance and perfect his pot brownie recipe spent the evening helping me to put the thing together. It took us time, but as I'm a plodder and he (is now) an engineer, we got it done and well. Loved that bed. (Loved him, too, dear thing.)

Loved it until I moved here. Penciled in an evening to reassemble the frame myself, but was brushed aside by the menfolk who insisted that they could do a better job, quicker. What did I take away (hate that term, by the way. Just seems kind of a propos right now) from this experience, aside from a bad back and many sleepless nights? Well, first off, never trust your nuts and bolts to someone else, even if you can claim biblical knowledge of them. 1/2 the hardware took flight somewhere between my old den and here. Also: it's a good idea to have concrete proof of credentials (in my case, the two railroaders claimed a carpentry and an engineering background).

Hated that bed in the new place. Every time I'd turn over in it, the squeak would echo throughout the house. Since I'm a light and very troubled sleeper, I'm sure that it sounded like I was constantly hosting an orgy.

Why didn't I get rid of it before? Frugality, maybe? Also, couldn't decide on a new bed. My judgement's been pretty clouded for a while. Anyway, last night I slept on my mattress on the floor. Was the best night's sleep I had in a very long time.

***

Pablo was supposed to help me get stuff out of the house, but was sick, so somehow I managed to get the unholy bedframe out on my own. Roberta across the street had called me over while I was stuck in my doorway, so asked her to wait a minute. The minute turned into 20 or so, as when I finally got the thing out curbside, Truther Dude came out with his trash. As we'd not seen each other in a while (and I've totally forgotten his name again), got caught up on stuff. He wasn't overjoyed to find that I was moving, but he did understand (lives in the basement apartment next door, can hear the landlord's kids screaming like banshees from there). As he was eyeing the frame I'd just put out, I asked him if he'd like it. As he thought he could put it in his studio, I helped him put it in their yard for the time being.

I then thanked him for the videos he gave me (but I haven't watched yet. Passed them around the office for laughs). He asked my opinion of a lot of the stuff, and I did manage to string some buzzwords together (the Tri Lateral Commission being behind the New World Order and all). Listened to an earful from him. Got a few responses in as well: No, I don't believe that 9/11 was planned by the government. Yes, politics is messed up right now. Are you still voting for Ron Paul? Me? Well, I'm going to write in my ex-boss in Texas. She'd make a good leader.

Since I had other stuff to put out (a plaster column, some old computer equipment. All of which disappeared within 10 minutes of my getting them on the curb), I excused myself and wished him well with the music, the business, etc. Told him I'd be around some to harass Raphaella, so he should stop by her place to say hello sometime.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My house echos. Don't feel comfortable here anymore. Hopefully will be out by early next week. As I've no more left to pack, am just waiting for the piano movers to come next Saturday, maybe should go away for the weekend. Am kind of jonesing for the ocean. Haven't been away from Boston in a long while. Really need to get out. To get out. Get out. Out.

Folks: could you do me a favor? Please think some good thoughts for the Frenchie. I get the feeling that he's going through something just awful right now.
Cool, clear, crisp. Just as the start of Fall should be.

Am sitting here waiting for the Boomerangs truck to come along to pick up an armoire and a mini trampoline.

Wish I could say that I felt okay, but I don't. Am completely on edge. Wish I could take a good, long run to work off some of the nervous energy I feel crackling down my arms and back.

Raphaella says that she feels like screaming.

Is it the phase of the moon, maybe? The change in seasons? Whatever it is, I don't like it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Upheaval.

Sorry no posts lately. Am currently packing boxes and hauling stuff around. I'm hoping to get the major part of the move over with by the end of next week.

For that matter: if anyone would like a nearly brand new sleeper sofa (white), please get in touch. I can't seem to give this thing away to any charity. Have never slept on it; it's always been covered. Would break my heart to have to put the thing curbside and not the least because the person who gave it to me would see it there (you guessed it - Raphaella. She's the one who unloaded it on me).

Saturday, September 06, 2008

In other news:

Karen's house closed! She called to tell me that she was going out to buy a bed and a chair to go with her new TV. I asked her if, as a now somewhat permanent resident, she was required to do this:

Sorry to kvetch, but this knee is killing me. My health insurance should kick in on October 1st (barring any unforeseen circumstances. I don't have much faith in state bureaucracies). After that, it's down to business.
Aside from all the light and air coming in thanks to the skylights, the new room boasts a French blue floor. This was the result of some rather intense negotiations with the contractor.

Chuck is awesome. He's doing an amazing job with Pavel's place. (That's one of the joys of having an art historian with extraordinary work ethic as a building contractor). However, he wanted to paint the attic floor red. Red apparently is a good, historically accurate color for American house floors.

Okay, I could see that - maybe in a kitchen, a foyer, or even a bedroom. Not, though, in this space. It'd suck out all the light that the holes in the roof now were brining in. The Frenchie agreed wholeheartedly. Suggested the Scandinavian choices of either white or gray.

Kind of wistfully, I brought up the beautiful blue floor I had in my kitchen in Eastie. My old landlord Jim did a bit of an archaeological survey of the mother-in-law apartment and found pine underneath like five layers of linoleum. Decided that, albeit soft, the wood was much nicer than 70s retro, so painted it. Pavel remembered that and mentioned it as a good alternative to red.

Don't think that Chuck was too thrilled by the idea, as he kind of drily mentioned it one afternoon when I came to visit. In order to butter him up a bit, I offered up the idea of a red foyer/stairway and some homemade pickles. In the end, the blue floor won out. To everyone's amusement, he even admitted that, not only did the blue work, but it had grown on him considerably.

Will take some pictures when we get things cleaned up tomorrow. It's gorgeous. Love it.
Was helping Paul with paint as, next week, I'm going to paint the room where I'll be staying over the next few months. It's the least I can do, as he went through so much to turn a formerly unfinished, uninsulated and uninhabitable attic into a gorgeous, light-filled studio.

Also got some chrysanthemums to line his sidewalk with. It's a beautiful house; just needs a lot of love. Am glad to see that he's finally putting some effort in in that area.
Got over my lethargy brought on by the heat and humidity. Managed to get myself out to Home Depot to get packing supplies. Also helped Pablo pick out paint brushes, primer, etc for the attic.

Got home just before the sky dropped. It's been lovely listening to Hannah (with a bit of Ike chiming in?). Even better than that, though, has been the rare smell of the ocean making its way over Winter Hill.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I'm an independent, by the way. Can't understand why anyone would want such a simplistic label attached to them as a political designation.

That said: it's too bad that the modern Libertarian party appears so wacky and keeps choosing fairly unelectable people to run on a national level. It seems that that movement's ideals were once pretty closely aligned with those of the Founding Fathers*. And those of European Anarchists, as well. That's more of a cooperative movement; its members bear absolutely no resemblance to those jerks who go around damaging property here.

* drugs and prostitution aside. It seems that an awful lot of folks who espouse the whole legal drugs are good...prostitution is a 'victimless' crime haven't really ever had to deal with the negatives from either activity and, as a result, haven't gotten beyond 'pot is good' and 'a romp with a hooker is kind of sexy.'
Yes, I did watch a good part of the convention last night. Yes, I agreed with a fair bit of stuff the speakers had to say. Particularly enjoyed Giuliani's speech (was so refreshing to hear him say bring up the Republicans' role in the ending of slavery in this country; it's something that your average Democrat does not want brought up. That, or how many members of Congress used to be in the KKK, for that matter.) and, of course, Palin's speech. I do really like her.

Also enjoyed the roll call of the states, how many votes they were casting, etc. The Maine delegates tickled me particularly when they highlighted their habit of hiring strong women as senators who just happened to be Republicans, as well. Also was fairly amused at how many bitter-enders cast their votes for Ron Paul.

Anyway, it's going to be an interesting race this year. I'm kind of looking forward to it, too.
Got a bit musical last night, sorry. When things get a bit hairy or surreal, I tend to add a soundtrack, step away and attempt to be entertained.
Samba do Somerville.



Came home to the party lights tonight. Don't speak enough Portuguese to do the situation justice, but: a squatter/sublettor was smoking pot. The landlord/leaseholder wasn't happy with that. After that, non linguistic communication in the form of a bat across the head ensued.

Just said to the neighbors that we needed the excitement to liven up our dull-to-tears lives. (sigh).
Oh Dad, I knew you'd love this:



and it ain't all about the convention.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

GOP Primary:

Good on the Singer for not having sung in a sick vibrato.
I'm stunned at the amount of work I actually got done yesterday. Paid bills, got health insurance (the doctor thing is a whole 'nother matter. From what I can gather, not a lot of folks take the Commonwealth Link insurance. Which is funny, as it isn't cheap.) Duked it out with the DET phone tree (1/2 hour on the phone just to have a person tell me to call another day). Homework! Work work! Wow.

Today's my first day of classes. Am very nervous, as I haven't actually sat in a classroom in over 10 years.

Wish me luck, both with that and the DET silliness.

Okay, onward.