Sunday, November 27, 2005

just friends

Had the urge to roast some walnuts this afternoon. I love the fragrance of warming nut oils. Thought for a moment, "Hey, I'm enjoying a little culinary moment here! Maybe I haven't broken up completely with the Holidays. Perhaps we could meet for coffee and just be friends."

But I'm not sleeping with them again, goddammit.

on death and decorating

I was sitting in the reading room (use your imagination, we own a 1920 Victorian bungalow that doesn't have a music room, butler pantry or servants' quarters either) and noticed that, at some point, someone had closed the door on a baby gecko. There in the bottom few inches of the door jam was splayed the cartoon-flat, brown reptilian remains. Not a lizard-shaped paint chip as I had assumed in an earlier, nearsighted observation.

We're not going to go all CSI here and determine the culprit or cause of death, though one would have to be full-out moron not to have a pretty good idea how Mr. Lizard crossed-over. After the initial (brief) "poor critter," I quickly segued into "damn, that's cool." (It's abundantly clear why I am never going to be a crazy pet lady.) Anyway, I was thinking how fabulous it would be to have "fossil" remains scattered throughout the drywall of our house. Little bits of evidence of history. An architectural-archeological blend, if you will.

I'm in house-remodeling mode. I love this part. Where there is no idea too off-center, expensive or impractical to be mused upon. I also love secret compartments and ways to display my tools that combine storage and decoration.

We went for a walk this morning. No shit. I actually left the house and allowed the sun to shine upon my happy hermit head. Stopped by a new store in our neighborhood called Tansu. I hate window shopping and I'm not crazy about the trendy, antique-stuffed, overpriced shops that have sprung up all over our part of the Heights. But some of the products they advertised in their postcard mailer looked interesting. Besides, we were out walking and it distracted me from the notion that I might be exercising.

I wandered upstairs, took one look at a bedroom set they had on display and
fell hopelessly in love. As I have confessed before, I make no decision quickly. I have been "researching" (not "window shopping," dammit) headboards and dressers for...well, forever. I rarely find something that makes me look twice and there it was. Oh, hell, here's what I'm talking about (ignore the basket with the greenery—I'm never going to be the crazy plant lady either):

A blend of Arts & Crafts and Japanese furniture styles. Now, I've never been drawn to Asian design as strongly as I have to Arts & Crafts and more modern forms but these pieces have won me over. Solid cherry and black walnut crafted in Vermont at a place called Copeland Furniture. Never mind that it costs a pretty penny, look at the colors and clean lines. Covet the subtle curves and beautiful drawer pulls. Drool over the joinery and solid craftsmanship.

And I think the fossil and tool motif will work beautifully with it.

video games or alarm clocks?

milan in the morning

    "...people don't respect the morning. An alarm clock violently wakes them up, shatters their sleep like the blow of an ax, and they immediately surrender themselves to deadly haste. Can you tell me what kind of day can follow a beginning of such violence? What happens to people whose alarm clock daily gives them a small electric shock? Each day they become more used to violence and less used to pleasure."

    Milan Kundera, Farewell Waltz
And this written in 1973, just slightly after Atari appeared on the market but well before video games became a part of the cultural consciousness. And well before video games began to replace other outdoor kid activities like playing that oh-so-wholesome (if-you've-been-living-in-a- cultural-blackhole) game of "Cowboys and Indians." Before our society's violence became intrinsically linked to increasingly graphic TV shows and video games.

As I drifted awake this morning (for the third time, saintsbepraised), I wondered about alarm clocks and their contribution to world violence. Oh, certainly there was violence before snooze buttons and Pong, but how much have these devices really contributed? Or do they just feed the destructive need inherent in human beings?

I don't know. It's early and I haven't had my second cup of coffee. All I know is that my state of mind sans alarm clock is much more attuned to pleasure than violence. So I'm going to have my coffee and read the Sunday comics rather than rant about the roots of violence in our culture. Ahh.

Friday, November 25, 2005

junk food vs. fast food

What with mad cow disease, avian flu and the historic swine flu, the non-meat-eaters in our country must be delirious with vegetarian vindication. The vegans have probably gloated themselves into spontaneous combustion (oh, I meant bloated...all those raw vegetables make you so gassy). So what are we, the shameless carnivores, supposed to do? Begin sheepishly sifting through the organic tofu (that's right, though it seems redundant) and bulgur wheat patties at our local Whole Foods store?

Probably. But for those of us who hear the words: T-Bone, Ribeye, and even New York Strip Steak accompanied by a faint but persistent angelic choir in our heads, there must be another option. If we, as a culture, can master the chemical prestidigitation involved in making a Hostess Twinkie, than we can figure out how to raise, butcher and prepare an animal without turning the fucker into a petrie dish of deadly disease.

And speaking of Twinkies, it is amazing how much shit is written about them little snack cakes. On first googling, I found more upbeat, urban myth-destroying links with a pro-Hostess-spin than anything about the nutritional abomination that they are. Of course, it goes without saying that I love them. There is no verifiable reason, except for connecting their sweet, chemical sponginess with all things a warm bottle, a dry bottom and a well-worn blankie.

There are even Twinkie Recipes (from Hostess, of course) complete with a stunning cross-cultural, cross-genre recipe for Twinkie Sushi...don't think about it, just do it. The other recipe photos look way too much like regurgitation for me to recommend them.

Then, there's the Twinkie Project. Purportedly executed right here in Houston at Rice University. The harsh tests of Twinkie endurance were spellbinding but the haiku was disappointing. Still, you've got to love two young men, attending one of the most prestigious universities in the south, spending that much time concocting, conducting and documenting their experiments on the cellophane-wrapped nutritional equivalent of etymology's bastard child, "crapulence."

What I want to know is why can't you order Twinkies in the drive-through at fast food places? Wouldn't that be perfect? Slick up your digestive tract with more foods that use the word "extruded" somewhere in their formulae. Until this moment, I never fully comprehended the difference between junk food and fast food and now I get it. However, the day a Twinkie shows up on Mickey D's backlit microphoned menu will be the day that the two will, once again, become one.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Well, my firstborn left yesterday for his next adventure. I will miss him greatly...but it makes me smile to know that he is happily roadtripping across the country. Once again Barbara worked her magic and managed to get all of David's possessions into his vehicle. It's like watching all those clowns climb back into the Volkswagen Beetle. You're positive that all that stuff won't all fit, but she jigsaw-puzzles it together with room to spare.

He got to Phoenix early this afternoon, arriving two days before Thanksgiving for his little brother. Wednesday is "Special Person" day at 8-year old Gavin's school and he wanted his big brother David to come with him and be his "special person." It is so sweet I can't stand it.

I'm feeling a little sheepish about Thanksgiving. After all, it has been a 20+ year tradition for us to put out a huge spread and have family and friends join us. But I'm completely uninterested in doing any of it. After all these years, all I want to do is sleep late and have a turkey sandwich. The sheepish part is getting use to the 180° reversal of attitude. How could something be eagerly anticipated year after year and then, suddenly, be of no interest at all? It's like I've broken up with the Holidays.

Monday, November 14, 2005

feeling better, sort of

After making many of straight friends, family and acquaintances feel uncomfortable last week over my reaction to the whole Proposition 2 debacle, I am somewhat happy to report that my outrage and heartbreak have begun to heal over. Other people's glossed-over, laissez-faire response to our "predicament" doesn't make me want to light into them with the grocery list of ways these kind of laws and documents can fuck up our lives. I am just conscious of how much that kind of anger can debilitate me after the initial rush.

Anyway, onward and upward. Or something.

I was walking around downtown during lunch late last week. The weather is finally beautiful in this overheated city. Yet we are still a decidely indoor people. As I walked past MirĂ³ sculpture in front of the Chase building, I saw a group of smokers clustered together on their little concrete island of exile. It ocurred to me that the need to smoke every 2 or 3 hours forces them to go outside more than the rest of us. The smokers probably get more fresh air than the non-smokers.

The holidays are coming and I'm feeling unusually bland about them. For an atheist, I sure do love those Christian-glazed holidays. But this year, I find myself relieved that our kids will be visiting their stepmother and we won't have to dredge up the energy to celebrate until Christmastime.

Okay, I'm starting to depress myself here, so I'm going to bed. Like my mother always said, if you can't think of anything nice to blog about...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

only halfway home, it seems

It occurred to me the this past week that I've lived in Houston for exactly half of my life: 23-1/2 years. That's amazing since I came here from New York under protest. But I never expected to fall in love with Texas nor with a Texas woman. But I did. Raised my family here, went to college here, enjoyed a career here and bought a wonderful old, needy house here.

I'm not sure why some people are content to move from place to place while others are inclined to settle down immediately. Oh, there are theories but sometimes it feels like it's coded on your's such a primal pull to nest or wander. I'm not quick to make major decisions—particularly about where I hang my hat. I circle, I sniff, I investigate, I weigh options. It's maddening to the people around me, I'm sure. But once I've decided, I'm pretty much immoveable.

So I applied for adoption. Gave up my New York residency literally and figuratively and became a Texan. I love this place in all it's contradictory, arrogant splendor. My roots have grown deep and this is home.

Last night, for the first time in over 20 years, I began to think of leaving. Leaving my big city and my beloved house. Leaving the tang and twang of a culture that taught me to wear cowboy boots and eat spicy food. Leaving a city of full of fascinating people and dear friends. Proposition 2 passed yesterday by a heartbreaking 76%:

    Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. [already a law]
    This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage. [my italics]
Oh, shit, people. Fear and Bigotry. It's not political anymore, it's personal. You have said in one loud ignorant voice that my relationship of 19 years deserves no respect and no protection. That all feeble protections I've eked out of the system (domestic partner coverage, hospital privileges, last wills, etc.) over the last few years are up for grabs. Back into that legal limbo freefall without a landing pad.

Where will we go? Will anyplace ever feel this much like home again?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

homonyms of the week

I am a whore for homonyms (almost as apeshit about alliteration):

  • rheumy/roomy
  • neigh/nay
  • whirred/word

namely this

Nomenclature. What you call it. It's a weighty responsibility (and opportunity) that, frankly, most people do not value enough
What knucklebrain missed this one? Here's the deal. You don't dismiss a product name solely because of a possible adolescent interpretation. Adolescents can mutate any name into something disgusting, sexual or negative. It's their job and, by god, they are good at it. However, you don't have to be intuned to your Beavis or Butthead persona to understand why "HoMedics" is a bad idea.
They took two fairly benign concepts: Home and Medic. They noticed, cleverly, that the last two letters of one were the first two letters of the other. And they never looked back. Then, they put a little symbol under the "o" and superscripted it, just in case anyone out there missed the point. Anyway you slice it, Ho Medics sounds like sex worker EMTs. If you emphasize the home part instead, you get Home Dic(k)s. Which conjures up no healthier an image.

Speaking of whoring dicks, this just in from our favorite almost-hip, not-quite-cool, musically-challenged Captain Kirk...
William Shatner has been pimping a local law firm aptly named "Smith & Hassler" How, how, how, does he deliver this shit without a hint of irony? He's not that good of an actor. I desperately want to add another partner or two. Smith, Hassler & Irritant. Or Smith, Hassler & Sold-My-Soul-to-Satan, Ltd. (Not board certified in anything but lucrative misdirection.)
Nice Republican Apellation
My friends have a new nephew named Cannon. I didn't know if I should publicize this...but it is too good to pass up (I'll leave out the last names, okay?). The baby's older brother and sister are named Hunter and Savannah. Hunter, Savannah, and Cannon. And Savannah was almost named Remington. How can you top that? Send them to Big Game Nursery School?
In my Father's House, I mean, Neighborhood
While perusing new home ads (because I love what builders come up with for new streets and developments) I came across this beauty: "Kingdom Come Manor." Kingdom Come—no shit. What do you think? Think we're looking at a big welcome sign for non-Christians? Clearly, Apu this is not the place for you. Mohammed get thee to Allah Estates. Esther, we're building a nice, very nice development across town called Hebrew Homes. I don't know. Kingdom Come. Just sounds like it's asking for it. I would give up my left tit to name the streets on the wrong side of the tracks. And there will be a 7 Deadly Sins Avenue. And a 666 Beelzebub Blvd.