Thursday, July 26, 2007


I want to go there and I want to eat rock lobsters in Perth and keep my eye out for Tim Winton who should be easy to spot because he has a really long ponytail and looks literate. I know I'm probably like most Americans who are, how do we say politely, geographically illiterate, but Australia is all about Sydney and kangaroos and a town like Alice to me. I mean I've heard of Perth, but just thought it must be in the Sydney neighborhood where all Australians are bunched up eating shrimp and getting stung by jelly fish on beautifully dangerous beaches. I just finished Dirt Music and was motivated enough to learn more so I could picture the territory the characters were covering and it turns out there is a whole western edge, with people, of Austalia, who knew? So it should be easy to find Mr. Winton, very little stalking involved, right?

Everytime I read a Winton book, it makes me want to book flights so I can go listen to real Australians speak English instead of the fake Australian accent I have playing in my head as I read his dialogue (while the Outback Steakhouse jingle runs persistently throughout). But regardless what this guy writes about, I feel like I'm there and when I'm done, I want to jump on the plane and really be there to see it like he sees it. Even though I read The Riders probably 10 years ago, I still can't get it out of my mind and on my book judging scale, that's some fine writing.

Althought I love to read, I still go through books like I was in fifth grade plowing through the elementary school library: for transport, not for more information or new skills or god forbid, intellectual challenge. So I love a good rich and dense text that is wonderfully chewy, but I'm a wee bit shallow and under-educated and I'm always aware of the fact that if any message or symbol is layered under the story, I'm probably missing it just like those magic focus prints that were all the rage 15 years ago in which I NEVER saw the damn magic picture even though I stared into the distance until my contacts dried up and popped off my eyeballs. I was listening to the Diane Rehm show (even though her voice, oh her voice, how it makes me cringe and I know she can't help it, but oh oh) on the way to work last week and her book reviewers were working over Like Water for Elephants, a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. One of her panelists said that maybe the book's popularity could be explained because it was so one-dimensional: just a good story that was all there right on the surface and there wasn't anything else to dig for, no deeper meaning. I thought, oh, hmm, really? hadn't occurred to me, I just thought I had missed the deeper meaning just like always.

So I dream about when I'm old(er) and gray(er) and looking even more like a shar pei because they let the senior set audit classes for free or a small fee at my dear old alma mater and I can get the education I missed the first time around. I'm going to sit on the front row of every art and literature appreciation course I can find and give all those kids the benefit of my widsom and experience (e.g. bore them senseless with my endless questions that are really just statements of the obvious). A gal's got to have plans for retirement. My plans are to finally understand all the books I read like I was eating Triscuits for my whole adult life.

But if you need a good read right now, dial up a Tim Winton novel, you will not be disappointed. Then write to let me know was I missed.

Monday, July 16, 2007

loose poop

So, say, for the sake of argument, and of course totally hypothetically speaking, that you had a guest in your home who barfed on your duvet and your deeply discounted, but still brand new, area rug in the kitchen, made your downstairs carpet into a multi-hued canvas in the style of Georges Seurat using the largely over-looked media of loose stool and urine in addition to possessing the ability to create lung threatening clouds of noxious gas wherever she came to rest? Would you let her stay, or unceremoniously ask her to get her skanky dog butt out of your house and hit the mean streets with that business? Or, as I have contemplated, would you secretly put her in a kennel for the remainder of the week and then play it all innocent like when her ride comes to take her back home next weekend?

Oh good hell, Stewart’s dog Gladys is the houseguest from hell. She stayed with us a few months ago and was a relatively good guest even though she was a most prodigious pooper. I had to take the blame for that because I unthinkingly left the baggie full of Milk Bones where she could get at it and talk about adding bulk to a dog’s diet, oh boy. I wasn’t thinking that Gladys would, you know, even get into the bag at all, such bad manners, and I was even more floored that she would eat them all up at one time exhibiting no doggie self-control. My tiny animule dog can make one mini Milk Bone last for days as she carries the increasingly smaller nub from room to room, leaving a trail of crumbs so she can find her way back. Gladys horks down anything in her path and doesn’t ever look back. And after conferring with friends, the horking and gobbling are more typical dog behaviors to which I say, who knew? All I have for comparison is my dainty 6-pound nibbler/bruiser and I just wasn’t prepared for Gladys' reaction to an unprotected stash of Milk Bones. She could have at least saved a few for the end of the week, don't you think? I have no explanation for the current tummy troubles, she hasn’t over eaten and it doesn’t appear that she found any illicit yummies but in a house full of kids, that can never be completely ruled out. She is chipper and Schnauzer-happy, doesn’t act at all ill, I have no explanation for my ruined carpet.

Oh well, I needed to have the carpet cleaners come and deal with the bad stains in the girls’ room, now I can get the three-room and a hallway special and feel like I’m getting a bargain. She sleeps in her crate tonight by damn and her flirty brown eyes won’t sway me. I know she only wants me for my clean duvet cover, skank.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

how to void a warranty

Failure to use product according to package directions may void warranty.

Hostable notes

The good good grandma gave us another medical scare this past ten days and it's probably better not to blog when I'm in a high drama dither. She rallied after another couple of ICU stints and is back to the regular ward and will hopefully be discharged tomorrow or Monday. The girls are so flexible. I drag them back and forth from the hostable (Mimi's version of hospital) and they don't complain or balk and I think that's remarkable considering that when they get to the hostable, they can't even go into her room and are trapped in the second floor waiting area with grandpa or Uncle Glenn while I stay in mom's room. When mom is in the ICU with limited visiting hours we walk all over every inch of the hostable on safari to see what we can see and truth be told, there just is not much to see in the average hostable. There are some nice fish in the radiology waiting area, but there are limits to how fascinating fish can be to the average six-year-old for any length of time. All the traipsing back and forth to the hostable, late hours and cafeteria food (which, truth be told, they love and so do I) brings my lack of reliable babysitters into sharp focus. Stew watched them for several hours last Sunday so I could be at the hostable longer and not have to worry about herding the little girls (Ellie is never a problem armed with books and her Nintendo) that was the best gift (not to mention the gratis lawn mowing he threw into the child care package) I've received in a long long time, I am so grateful for such a generous friend. I need to cultivate some teens who don't already have jobs and/or intense social lives and need the money badly enough to watch four kids and not let anyone drown in the ceement pond. When my other brothers arrive solo at the hostable because their spouses are at home in charge of their kids, I do feel more than a twinge of envy, but I get over it. I wouldn't want to married to any of their wives if that was the price for solo hostable visits.