Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The House of Effluvia

I think my sister Tina's boyfriend, Fred, was granted cosmic payback for not attending as many of our family functions as we require of him by merit of association. You see, when you become a member of our family, even it's not a legal membership, you are absolutely beholden to attend every single family function within a 300 mile radius, cook a dish for each function and change at least one diaper per child per function.

Fred kindly but foolishly hosted a barbecue at his house this weekend (I think he was trying to discharge all of his familial obligations at once) and Tina, my brother Mark, his wife Shannon and the little vegetables, Jayden and Kyan, came over to eat and swim in the nifty lap pool, the human hamster wheel of fun and frolic.

From Tina's email about the weekend:

"...it was fun having the nephews over. Kyan was really good, smiled a lot, but also spit up a lot, and Jayden peed in Fred's house. It was funny - the wooden stairs had a little puddle on each one. He was peeing as he walked up the stairs. I was crying I was laughing so hard, then Kyan spit up all over. It was like, Hello fred's house! Pee, puke, whatever! Bring it on!"

And now Fred will never, ever come to any function again.

But I don't want to break both my legs be taller

I'm obsessed with canned air. I've emptied an entire bottle in one extended spree of dusting ecstasy. Watching the gungy bits fly out from under my keyboard and the difficult-to-reach corners of my phone gives me a kind of pleasure usually felt only while vacuuming the cracks of the couch, sucking up large pockets of things better left undefined that rattle in the vacuum hose.

The popularity of canned air makes me wonder what else I could market simply by packing it into a can with a propellant. What about canned biscuits? I love biscuits, and oh the convenience! No refrigeration, and just squeeze a dollop onto a sheet and bake for five minutes. I suppose the paper cartons "from my grocer's case" are probably cornering the market, but I hate using those as the exploding can is dangerous and scary. What if a biscuit piece flew into my eye?

I borrowed an can of air from a co-worker today. I tipped my keyboard upside down and used the lent air in exactly the way you're not supposed to as warned by the instructions on the back because tilting it makes your fingers freeze and stick to the metal, but I can't get the good, really gross bits out if I keep the can upright. I have to tilt the can and squeeze the little red tube underneath the keys to get enough thrust. It's a primordial microcosm of scone crumbs, Sugar in the Raw crystals, spilled tea and dead skin in there. I think the can is a bit old, though, as the blast seemed a bit ineffectual and only the loosest, freshest stuff was blown out. The fine coating of lunches and snacks still lining the bottom of the tray is bonded to the plastic. However, as the filmy layer can only be seen when you look at the keyboard from the top, I can deceive myself into thinking that it only needs a light dusting to avoid contracting a prolonged skin infection.

There was a particularly disturbing article about the number and variety of hardy organisms, particularly staph, living in the average person's keyboard. I long to dip my keyboard in boiling water from the Insta-Hot tap in the lunchroom, soak it in bleach and hang it out to dry by the cord. What I really want is one of the little keyboard vacuums Ethan Hawke used in Gattaca to make sure that no one could find traces of his DNA. Maybe Sharper Image sells one.

Monday, August 29, 2005

It has nothing to do with my sparkling personality.

The only reason Christian married me: Boobs

I had to order a very low cut bra today (and let me tell you, not an easy task for those of us with large racks) to wear with a slutty dress (that only looks slutty on me, and no one else who wears it, due to the excess of boobage) for this weekend and he's overly excited:

"Three cheers for cleavage!
Hip Hip...Hooray!
Hip Hip...Hooray!
Hip Hip...Hooray!
(And don't you dare post this on your blog)"

I'm glad someone likes it, because I'd have it all sucked out in an instant if I could.

I want to become an structural engineer and manufacture bras for really large busted women that are pink and fluffy and very low in front without the enormous strip of reinforced fabric holding the cups together that shows under even the most modest decolletage.

I also want to teach every person who works in the lingerie section of every store on the planet that 36G does NOT equal 38DDD. It just doesn't. I'm going to have to do some sewin'.

Be ye forewarned.

Let me apologize in advance-my posts are probably going to be reeeeeeally cranky for a while as I'm starting Weight Watchers again today. I lost 15 pounds earlier this year and need to get back on the wagon as seeing recent photos of myself almost caused me to go blind from the horror. I'm SO TIRED of how enormous my hips and boobs have become. My God, they're titanic. They've taken over the house and nowhere is safe. Hide all breakables and turn pot handles inwards, 'cause I'll take 'em down with my massiveness. I know I've gained too much weight when I can't safely navigate around household objects without bruising myself on table corners or ripping laminate off the countertops. I saw photos of myself from behind (save the children!) taken at the workshop two weeks ago, and it looks as though I have Visible Panty Lines (VPL) even when I don't, as the scar that traverses my ass gets more pronounced the fatter my butt gets. No fashion shame is greater than looking like you don't know to wear appropriate undergarments with lightweight fabric. I long for fall and heavier clothing.

As of today, I changed my work hours to 9-5:30 so I can have a reasonable wake-up time during production runs. This will allow me, during slower periods, to work out first thing in the morning before I shower. The ONLY way I can make myself work out regularly is if it doesn't interfere with my evening schedule. I need my time off once I get home now as it gets rarer during the opera season. That and I despise working out at night. Coming home ravenous only to have to change in to a sports bra and bounce to indeterminate techno with muscular Barbies with plasticine hair-oh the trials I face! Also, taking two showers a day is a huge waste of our precious natural resources. Yeah, damn it, I'm saving water!

I have to find some good recipes for the crock pot. If I'm going to lose weight, I can't eat out. It's just too tempting to eat utter crap and I have the willpower of a housecat, so restraining myself is just a ridiculous suggestion. Don't make it.

I volunteered to be a test subject for a new company in Bothell who is developing a GROUNDBREAKING NEW LIPOSUCTION TECHNIQUE!!! Supposedly it's ultrasonographic, so it breaks up the fat and the body reabsorbs it and it passes out through the digestive system. COOL!!! They aren't trying it out on test subjects here yet (only in third world countries with no human subjects restrictions and a willing population), so I'll have to lose weight the old fashioned way.

God damn old fashioned way.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Picky, picky

I seriously think I have the most disgusting nervous habit of anyone ON EARTH. When I'm not doing something with my hands like knitting or typing or doodling in the margins of my music when I'm supposed to be practicing, I'm invariably scratching at the skin either on my scalp or heels, hoping to find some I can pick off. After I've found some and picked (or peeled, if it's a big piece from my heel), I examine (if it's from my scalp) and flick the pickage to the floor. Pick, flick. Pick, flick. I have eczema, so there's never a shortage of little patches of flakiness on my scalp or cracks on my heels to occupy a spare minute after editing a letter or during commercials while I'm waiting for Tivo to have enough recorded time to fast forward. I've spent many a day on which I've worn slip ons to work with one bare foot propped on the knee of the opposite leg peeling my heels where I could find a crack large enough to insert my thumbnail. It's like mountain climbing that way. I've even done this through nylons. I'm pretty determined.

My roommate in my freshman and sophomore years of college would get furious at me as she couldn't walk across the floor without bits of my heels sticking to the soles of her feet. There was actually another girl in my hall freshman year who had the same repellent pasttime, and her roommate would commiserate with mine about the crunchiness of our respective doom rooms' carpet. Thank God we didn't get assigned to each other as we would have been buried under piles of discarded heel cracks.

I love getting sunburned as it gives me hours of legitimate pickage. Right after I dye my hair, the flaky bits from my scalp are red and extra dry from the peroxide, which adds a whole other layer of complexity.

At all times, I have to be very careful when wearing black, as I don't even realize I'm picking and I end up looking like Bunter in "The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club" when he uses dessicated coconut as dandruff to seem a proper slovenly journalist. When I'm on the couch watching TV and am not knitting, I end up surrounded by a semicircle of slough. I vacuum the couch every week for this reason, and it's almost as satisfying as the pickage itself.

I am a dust mite smorgasbord. I've had to block my mind from thinking about dust mites, as I'm sure they invited their friends and relations to my bedroom after realizing that they found the wellspring from which all dead skin flows. I desperately need to get new pillows and a allergy-proof mattress cover to minimize the problems arising from the mite condo my bed certainly has become. Can't think about mites-teeny, tiny little arachnids....can't think about mites...

I read once that the reason dry skin itches is that skin is like tectonic plates on the crust of the earth. When the plates get too dry, they crack apart and the edge of one can "slice" into the more vulnerable flesh underneath another. I'm still completely unnerved by this description. It's the word "slice." It's just so...so...edge-of-a-kitchen-knife-sounding. I want to pick off the plates before they can slice. Glah.

I used to be similarly obsessed with split ends. I could sit for hours with tiny nail scissors and trim each split end as I found it, or I would peel it in two, the outer cuticle of the hair shucked away like corn silk. There is no area on my head free from abuse. I squeeze my pores, pluck my brows and chew on my lips. I'm a great, huge bundle of picky little habits.

I think on some level I'm convinced that, if I can just peel away the heel cracks or pick all of the patches off my scalp or sqeeze all the goo out of my pores that I'll find immaculate, perfect, baby-like, unblemished skin underneath. What I usually find, however, is a little oozier and redder than I'd hoped.

It's a completely vile habit. I really need to stop.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Do they know that Arsace was engaged to his own mother?

I could do this all day. Props to Dooce for bringing this treasure to a broader audience:


Monday, August 22, 2005

Who am I to mock? I don't have an album.

You feel guilty for laughing, and yet you can't stop:



Oh for the love of God, just don't look back!

I was going to be one of those amazing people who document exciting events in their lives in exacting and thrilling detail, leaving readers to gasp and wonder how they could make their lives as near fictitious in scope as mine, but I suck and am pathetically lazy. So, below, I summarize.

I spent last week, Monday through Saturday, at a Baroque opera workshop given by one of the foremost directors/interpreters/insert appropriate superlative here of BO (har) in the world. The workshop has always been held in Germany as that's where the director and his amazing wife live. However, due to his excellent relationship with the Seattle Early Music Guild and his desire to move back to Seattle where he grew up, it was decided to bring the workshop here. When I got the announcement and application information in the mail, I could actually feel little veins in my head hemorrhaging from the excitement I couldn't show as everyone thinks I'm enough of a spaz without proving it so definitively. I mean, the one thing I want to do more than anything in the world is sing Baroque opera, and here was a class literally ON MY DOORSTEP, and all I had to do was send in an audition CD. As soon as I read that bit, the hemorrhaging stopped and my stomach ate itself. I hate making CDs. Listening to myself is the worst form of non-lethal torture I could possibly imagine. My voice doesn't record well. Now, that doesn't mean I suck, 'cause I don't, but I have kind of a largeish voice which always sounds echoey on recordings. Also, I had to find really early opera arias to sing and a harpsichordist to play for us. To make a really, really long story short, I found both. I, of course, got sick the week of the recording, so it wasn't my most spectacular outing, but it wasn't terrible. So, when I got in, I was thrilled. When I got my scene selections (the program was mostly on the Orpheus myth, as that story was terribly important to 17th century composers), I was less thrilled. Three tiny little four bar recits and a trio. I asked friends who were in the workshop with me what kind of scenes they were given. All of them had at least one aria. Hmmmm...I thought, maybe it's because I'm a mezzo, and most mezzo stuff from that period can be sung by countertenor. I told myself to stop being so selfish and to wait and see. Hard for me as I always want to be the one who gets the good shit everyone else is jealous of.

When the day of the workshop finally came I was very excited, and felt a little queasy from nerves. Or what I thought was nerves. I had worked very hard on learning my music. We did a sing through of all of the scenes and my worst fears were confirmed-another mezzo had a huge, gorgeous scene with an aria and an assload of recit. I was pretty cheesed. Not the most auspicious beginning to what I hoped would be a turning point in my career. I had pinned ridiculously high hopes on this workshop to introduce me to key individuals in Seattle and in the national and international Baroque communities. So, when I didn't have much solo stuff to sing, I was sure they wouldn't get to hear me enough to have any desire to further my career. I was cast as a nurse, a wind and a gender-indeterminate Pastoral. Sigh. I just wanted a fucking aria. Why is that so much to ask for????

In another fun, fun turn, what I thought was nerves turned out to be a 24-hour stomach flu that arrived Tuesday morning with, um, lower distress and a fever. We had our first staging rehearsals and music coachings on Tuesday, but I got through, just feeling really queasy and sweaty, in that icky, clammy, sickly way. God, I was feeling so sorry for myself I'm surprised Christian didn't pour my Spaghetti-Ohs over my head.

Even though I was being a giant, selfish prat about the whole scene assignment thing, I pretty much made myself get over it by Wednesday morning, as it would be unbelievably stupid to not take advantage of coaching with the program director, even on the small scenes, as he's THE MAN when it comes to Baroque performance practice. He made an awesome comment on the first day on how this genre needs ALL TYPE of voices, and not just the wispy ones that have been in fashion as of late. Baroque opera is so very different than all other opera and I want to do it as best and as accurately as possible. The duration of the note has very little to do with what's written and almost everything to do with stressed and unstressed syllables. That took a lot of work as, in my head, you hold a whole note in 4/4 for four beats, dammit. This crazy idea of letting go of the unstressed syllable, even if it's the last note of a phrase and is written AS A WHOLE NOTE was very hard.

I also did get to work twice with the amazing Roger, the stage director THAT EVERYONE WANTED. Anyone who tells reeeeeally stiff, hetero men to hug and "not be afraid to let their dicks touch" is my uncontested hero. Also hard, but likewise extremely enlightening, was the his take on the whole "back facing the audience" thing. Now, as singers, we're taught to never, ever upstage ourselves by turning our backs. My ass was to the audience a good third of my scenes, and I hate my ass, so I felt really self conscious. He believes, and I'm with him, that the back is very powerful. It creates an intimacy between the audience and the performers-you're seeing the action from their perspective.

In my scene as a wind, I had to dance around in an interpretive kind of way, and I was reminded how violently out of shape I am. Then I had to sing really fast. As a bird. It was damn funny.

I'm always frustrated with myself, though, when I'm being directed as I feel that I can't actualize the director's vision, even if I understand it. What's even worse is being an attention whore like myself and watching other, younger, prettier people get the praise I so desperately crave from the program director and scene director for doing things I could do if given the material they were given. I know that "there are no small parts, only small actors" but I'm tired of being given opera parts inversely proportional to my own parts.

After writing the last few sentences, I'm really tempted to delete them as they sound so God-awful petty, but I don't want to lie and pretend that I don't mind. I mind very much.

Anyway, I did get to sing at the free-for-all on Wednesday night, where everyone could sing one piece of whatever they wanted, so I sang Carmen and received many compliments, even though I sang still feeling pukey, 'cause I got to get my props in whatever pandering, manufactured way I can.

I don't want to be as bitter as this post sounds. I truly had an unspeakably marvelous time, and the faculty and other performers were utterly stupendous people. I think it was a very valuable lesson about the expectations I place on events that make it impossible to enjoy them. I do the same thing with vacations and holidays. I expect these type of events to be utterly transporting, but only moments of them will be, and that only if you're lucky. I am so glad I did it and oh my God, was it hard to come back to work.

I also wanted to kick the three Orpheus' singers and scream, just don't look back, you tard! It's like watching Titanic and thinking that maybe the boat won't sink this time.

Friday, August 19, 2005

But I luuuuurve him....

Oh, what a glorious surprise the New York Times held for me this morning! Helen Fielding, after a slightly disastrous turn as a spy thriller/comedy novelist (a vapid journalist becomes involved with and is whisked from exotic locale to exotic locale by a man she suspects to be Osama bin Laden? Sweet Jesus Mary and Joseph) has returned with her heroine who redefined what it is to be a middle class thirtyish woman in search of romantic and physical perfection. I remember when Bridget Jones's Diary was first published and I was prepared to be rightously indignant over the portrayal of unmarried women as diet-obsessed, druken neurotics who want nothing more than a man to define them. If the novelist and heroine were American, I'm sure my rancor couldn't have found a better home, but they were both English, and consequently full of a seemingly contradictory mixture of self-loathing and unflappable self confidence. I love Bridget, and she's back, but only in the Independent (my favorite British paper), conveniently available for purchase at a pound an entry (woo hoo!), published in diary form, as was the original novel, every Thursday.

I have to say, I'm terribly depressed that she and Mark Darcy are, alas, no longer in shag heaven. I had such high hopes for the de-sterilization of the detached wedding cake style house with the deranged housekeeper's son. Hmmm...that sentence sounded better in my head.

I've saved the first three to PDF (ha!), so I'm happy to share. I can't republish them as THAT WOULD BE ILLEGAL SO DON'T ASK ME, but email me, girls, and I'll be happy to pass along each installment as I get them. Yay!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Fort Knox Part Deux

It's almost finished....

It looks so much smaller in the picture....click for a full size photo. You see that pile of dirt? I did that! Well, Christian and I did that.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

That Norm

Speaking of post hole diggers, my Grandpa Joe (my Mom's dad) was terribly hard of hearing (not a non sequitur, I promise). My father called him to ask to borrow a fishing pole, as he was going to have a manly weekend of fishing and drinking beer and eating jerky. Grandpa answered the phone and this was the conversation:

Grandpa: "Hullo?"
Dad: "Hi Joe. Your sons and I are going fishing. Do you have a fishing pole I could borrow?"
Grandpa: "A what?"
Dad: "Fishing pole, Joe."
Grandpa: "Post hole?"
Dad: "No, Joe, a fishing pole!"
Grandpa: "A post hole digger?"
Dad (very loudly): "FISHING POLE!"
Grandpa: "No, I don't have a post hole digger, but Norm might."

Norm was Grandpa and Grandma's neighbor.

I miss Grandpa so much.

Fort Knox

This last weekend was the perfect example of my naivete regarding home projects and building things, which makes me terribly frightened of remodeling our kitchen. I know that everyone says to budget twice as much money and three times as much time for projects than you think you'll need, but I inevitably think I'm smarter than everyone. It's Tuesday and we're still not finished. I never calculate the amount of time needed for these types of scenarios:

Scene: Suzy is preparing to bolt the corner post to the paneling.

Suzy: "Where's the thingy that tightens the front part of the drill where the bit goes in?"
Christian: "The what?"
Suzy: "You know, the little l-shaped thingy-thing you're always telling me not to lose. Well, it's not in its little holder on the top of the drill and I know that I put it there the last time I used it."
Christian: ""Do you mean the chuck? You lost the chuck??? How many times have I told you to put it back when you've finished with it?"
Suzy: "I did put it back. I snapped it in place on top of the drill, but it's gone now."
Christian: "Well, shit! Now I'll have to go to Lowe's to buy a new one."
Suzy: "Hell no, we're finishing this damn project now. It's 900 degrees out and I have no feeling left in my knees. Go borrow Chris' drill."

And so on.

We started building the project, an outdoor habitat for our box turtle, from plans of my very own (liberally lifted from about 15 different websites), on Saturday morning. The plan was to get up at around 8 am (ha) and get it done by early afternoon. I mean, all we had to do was buy the lumber for a 6x4x3' pen, excavate the area in the backyard where we'd place the pen (accounting for optimal morning sun and afternoon shade, of course), dig out a foot of turf, sink the corner posts using a post hole digger and mallet, lay pavers on the bottom of the pen to make sure the turtle couldn't dig out (how dare she even consider it, ungrateful little turd), frame the pen, wall it, build a hinged lid of lumber and chicken wire, fill it with six inches of non-toxic potting soil and peat moss, plant it, arrange all of the items for the turtle such as a water dish, place to hide, etc. and get all of this done before Saturday night. Then, I imagined, we'd have a leisurely dinner and maybe go to a movie.

Here's how it really went:

Christian woke up early as he always does, as he's, um, amorous in the morning, but he knows that if he gets within a six inch radius of me before I've woken up of my own volition, I'll stab him repeatedly with the pencil from my bedside table. So, he went to Lowe's and spent two hours shopping for lumber (my own personal nightmare). I woke up at 10 and had some breakfast and played with the bird (I have to socialize her, after all). Christian came home, told me that Lowe's doesn't rent post hole diggers so could I please go rent one from Aurora Rents. He said to get a rotary post hole digger and not a clamshell. So, I went to the rental shop and asked the woman at the counter for a rotary post hole digger. The conversation was something like this:

Woman with bad hair: "One person or two person?"
Suzy: "Um...one person"
WWBH: "12 inch, 9 inch or 6 inch auger"
Suzy: "Hmmmm...six inch." I was picturing augers in my head and thinking that the smallest auger would probably be plenty for our needs, like I knew an auger from a garden hose.
WWBH: "Pull around back and they'll load it into your car."

Hmmm...I thought. It's just a post hole digger. Why can't I just carry it out myself?

I pulled around back and waited at the loading dock. I watched in horror as the two twelve year old employees rolled a motor the size of a Little Tykes car (complete with rollbars!) and five foot auger over to my car. I just blinked sweatily at them for a while, completely uncertain of what they expected me to do with a piece of equipment actually called a Little Beaver, when they asked if I knew how to use it. I told them that my husband did, as I didn't want to let them know how utterly unprepared I was to have this thing in my possession. They heaved (actually heaved as this thing weighed a million pounds) the Little Beaver into my trunk and I took it home. When I got home, Christian was irritated:

Christian: "I told you not to get a power auger,"
Suzy: "No, you said to get a rotary auger. I asked for a rotary auger and this is what they gave me. If you didn't want a power auger, you shouldn't have told me to get a rotary auger! This is a rotary auger! I'm a girl, dude! I'm wallowing in gender roles, here. I don't know anything about post hole diggers."
Christian: "Fine, fine, it's OK. It's overkill, but it's OK."

Poor Christian, he always has to make up for things he didn't do wrong.

We had to decide, at this point, where to build the pen. I wanted to build it next to the garage as it's very close to the back door and would be more accessible at night (and I'm really, really lazy). Christian wanted to build it in the far back corner of the yard by the cinderblock wall as it would be safer, as my chosen location was possibly (just possibly, mind you) right on top of our oil tank. I suggested that we do a test auger to see if the oil tank was indeed next to the garage, but Christian said that augering isn't exactly a delicate art and that the drill would very likely go right through the oil tank. Now, I was irritated by this time because I imagined having the pen close enough to the back door to be lit by the porch light, and the back corner of the yard is a long way to go in the rain. It was only after Christian finally agreed to have a go with the auger and oil tank be damned and I could tell he was really cheesed that I agreed to build the pen in the back corner.

We planned out our dig site with a lot of arguing as it was really, really hot in the sun and we didn't have any music, and I have realized, after a lot of really cranky outdoor activities, that, if I don't have something playing to distract me, I dwell on how much I hate having to do manual labor on the weekends. I have to say that I don't know how I lived without my iPod and now I don't know how I lived without the portable iPod speakers. Anyway, we started to dig out the turf, which is the worst job IN THE UNIVERSE. Our grass is that horrible Kentucky bluegrass or whatever the hell it's called and its roots go to the center of the earth. It took us a good hour and a half to dig out our pit, and there was much swearing. We had done a preliminary auger to mark where our corner posts would be before we started digging, and while the drill was so absurdly overly powerful for our pathetic little job that we may as well have been digging a new tunnel to China, it did work very quickly. We had to auger again after we had excavated our pit as a lot of dirt had fallen in, and the first three holes went fine. On the fourth, Christian was augering away and the auger was suddenly sucked into the earth. We couldn't get it out. The giant who lives under our lawn must have been really pissed. It turns out that the huge ass cherry tree next door had been leeching the water out of our lawn for years and had laid down enormous roots, the greedy bastard. Christian had to saw through the roots with his keyhole saw. We then collapsed on the lawn underneath the shade of our potting shanty.

To make the corner posts, we had to cut 2x4s and bolt them together, so Christian finally got to use the dual-slide compound miter saw I got him for Christmas. We don't have any outdoor outlets, even on the porch light fixtures (it's an old house), so to use power equipment outside we have to run huge extension cords in through the front or back door or through the closet window. We're real high class. When Christian plugged the saw into the outlet beneath the snake cage, the outlet we had installed specially for the heaters and such on the snake cage, the outlet that has its own dedicated circuit and everything, the saw gave a little whine and then was silent. I heard Christian muttering on the front porch so I went out to check on him and he was mumbling to himself that the stupid saw didn't work, and that nothing is fair and life sucks and his whole life is suffering. However, I distinctly remembered that he tried the saw right after he got it and it worked fine. It was only after about fifteen minutes of blessed sitting down time that I realized that he had tripped the circuit. He tripped it three more times before I told him to plug the saw in another outlet. That's one preeeeeeetty saw. So quiet, so tidy, so good at its job. I got to drill, tee hee, and I even used the whirring blade of flanginess to make the bolts and washers flush with the wood. I was so very, very proud. I made perfect little corner posts.

We paved the bottom of the pen with cement pavers, which were delivered by the last of the true good Samaritans. We were at Lowe's getting ready to have the pavers loaded into the trunk of the Camry when the man in the large contractor's truck next to us offered to deliver them to our house so we didn't ruin our upholstery. Now, I'm a suspicious bitch, but I was so tired that I would have flung myself on him weeping if it wouldn't have taken so much energy. He wouldn't even let us give him a glass of water for his trouble. My cynicism has been shaken and I DON'T LIKE IT.

The next step of the construction required that one of us get down on our hands and knees in the dirt and dig out the excess from the post holes so we could get the posts level and sink them sufficiently so they would be stable. As Christian, for some God-forsaken reason, just couldn't find his gloves, I spent the next hour digging, tamping, leveling, adjusting, digging some more, filling, etc. as I was bent over with all the bile rushing into my esophagus. I think it was revenge for making him do the project in the first place.

When we finally got all the posts in and level with each other and the bubble in the level that will forever dictate my life, we got to frame the top with NAILS AND HAMMERS. I have found that, like soldering, I find a great deal of satisfaction in nailing. I like how the pitch of the sound the hammer makes when striking the nail is different with each stroke, how you can tell when you're in both pieces of wood as the tone of the nail changes to a deeper, more gratifying thunk rather than a ping.

When we went to frame the pen, we realized that the chuck was missing from the drill (see conversation above), so we had to borrow Chris' (our neighbor) cordless drill, which I promptly killed on the first bolt. Crack out the ratchet, boys, 'cause we're Amish now.

By the time we finished the first row of siding, I was so exhausted that I could barely stand in the shower. I'm so out of shape that a brisk march around the kitchen leaves me gasping with a stitch in my side, so eight hours of digging and pounding in the heat just about gave me a stroke. Christian hadn't purchased enough siding anyway, so we gratefully put off finishing until the next day.

There was no way on earth I could make it out of bed the next morning to go to church, and I had to sing in a recital that afternoon, so I only could work for about two hours on the pen. Tee hee. I made Christian swear that it would be done by the time I got back as penance for getting out of attending the recital in 95 degree weather in an unairconditioned church.

I didn't realize quite how tired I was until I got about halfway through my aria and all I wanted to do was lie on the cool tile floor and take a nap. I was sneezing out brown dust, I was sunburned on my back, I was terribly dehydrated and I had a 11 minute long duet to do after my aria. During the duet, I forgot at least three measures of words and had to make them up out of bits of faux Italian that I was pulling out of my ass. I made it past my final A and ran out of voice. Fortunately, Christy had all the high stuff and I was just gravy anyway. It's always surprising to me how I can feel like I sing like the gum on your shoe and people seem to freaking love it anyway. I was surrounded by cute little elderly people patting my hand and praising me. Ah, if only they had large checkbooks and could write me a grant.

When I got home, everything was almost done. The chicken wire for the lid was seriously dangerous and kept wanting to curl back up, chewing on Christian's hand with its vicious little teeth in the process. Chris came over to help and then Lee, the woodworking marvel, came over with Tara and so she and I went into the house to play with the bird while the boys barked orders at each other and gave competing advice.

All we have left to do is put the hinges and latch on the lid (so the raccoons can't eat Gwendolyn) and set up all of her accoutrements. Lee told me that he didn't endear himself to Christian as the first thing he said was, "Well, if I had done this project..." He did say that it was built to withstand any natural disaster and that, if we don't remove it to build our garage (gasp), it will probably last longer than our house.

I fully expect to be beaten senseless with a 2x4 the next time I suggest a project. Please God, let Christian's aim be good-let me be knocked out on the first blow.

Gwendolyn better appreciate this.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

*%#$! Ebay

I tell ya, just when you think you have it in the bag, some young punk with a faster finger (ooo...sounds dirty) outbids you in the last FOUR SECONDS of an auction. And who really wants Rossi's Orfeo? It has to be someone who's in the upcoming Accademia d'Amore, the Baroque opera workshop for which I have to actually learn music from this opera, with me. They're probably in my scene, so I'll get many chances to beat them up. I'll have to "accidentally" step on their foot REALLY HARD, as that's what opera singers do, if my experience with a certain member of the Seattle Opera chorus is any indication. Cow. She had really big feet, too.

If I am to learn this thing by August 15th, I need the damn CD! I am the world's worst pianist and I get so frustrated banging out notes (again, dirty) in incorrect tempo that I just want to hear smart and historically informed performers in the RIGHT KEY. My cheesy Casio keyboard cannot be tuned to A415, people! I'm obviously a terribly lazy musician, but I have to hear peices done right in tempo at least once if I'm to have a prayer in hell of not making an ass of myself at a very important event in my almost-but-not quite career.

Grr. Grrrrr. GRRRRR!!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Mixed Vegetables

I have to post this because these two little veggies are the light of my life:


Sweet Potato

Blink and Giggle

Just look at this picture.

Seeing that sweet little face, could you believe that this tiny creature is an implement of doom? DOOM, I TELL YOU!!! She is though, and I have the bruised and lacerated knuckle to prove it. Why is it that parrot books tell you everything about handling your bird except how to get her out of her cage without losing your finger? Technically, you should just be able to reach in and gently pick up the bird from behind, but that so doesn't work. It's very tempting to just leave her in the cage and have her be a pretty little display object, but I want a pet I can have a relationship with, dammit. All of my instincts to have children are being suppressed and I must have an outlet, and this little pooper is it. So far, we've mastered the vitally important "step-up" command, both from the floor and from finger to finger, but only when she's out of the cage. She utterly goes to pieces if I try to get her to step onto my finger while in her cage. I read in our "Guide to Companion Parrot Behavior" that if I make eye contact with her, she's less likely to bite me, but how can I make eye contact with her when, as soon as I get within six inches of her while she's either in or on her cage, she immediately starts madly flapping and crashing around and I'm afraid she's going to break either herself or her toys? Not that she doesn't have enough toys to replace one if it broke anyway, as I'm a total and complete sucker (as I've said before) and I have purchased her more toys than my two nephews together, but I don't want HER to get hurt. It's like a teeny tiny greased pig contest and I don't have my overalls.

I've been using a glove to get her to step up out of her cage as she can bite it and it doesn't hurt, but I've been told that using a glove is VERY BAD and I'm a horrible person for doing it. I've also wrapped my hand in her towel (more on that later) to pick her up, but again, I'm not really supposed to do that as then she'll have a negative imprint on the towel. What the frack am I supposed to do then? I called Pet Professionals in Redmond, and they told me to just open her door and let her come out. She hasn't fallen for that one yet. She knows it's a trick and I'm going to grab when she gets out, and she's wise to me. She just sits there staring at herself in her mirror and fluffing up to make herself more attractive to herself. She's quite the narcissist, this one.

So, the towel. According to the book mentioned above, which is supposedly the best parrot manual on the market, we are supposed to acclimate our bird to being handled in a towel, as vets use towels to hold birds for examinations. We are supposed to do so by playing a game called Peek-a-Bird, which is closely akin to the peek-a-boo game played with human children, except far more humiliating. To play the game, we have to buy a large bath towel in a color close to that of the bird's feathers, which I did. Next, we are to sit across the room from the cage below the bird's eye level, preferably on the floor, hide our heads with the towel, whip the towel away and say "peek-a-bird!" loudly and clearly and then blink rapidly and giggle. Blink and giggle. This, according to the book, will teach the bird that the towel is fun, because look how much fun the morons on the floor are having with the towel, blinking and giggling! Look! The towel is pretty and close to my color and I shall love the towel now that the idiots who keep trying to take me out of my cage despite my best efforts seem to think the towel is the COOLEST THING EVER, so therefore, I do, too.

If my bird is that stupid, I don't want her as a pet. I'll let you know how it goes.