Friday, June 13, 2008


One of the problems with not feeling well is that it is just plain fucking boring. Not that there hasn't been a certain amount of excitement over the past couple of days, but really not the type of excitement one is looking for.

On the up side. I have lost 3 lbs! On the downside, I know it is all water and will be back as soon as I start eating again. Which is another upside, come to think of it. Food has held no temptation for me. You could offer me homemade chocolate chip cookies and I'd take a pass. (And yes, Doralong, I am drinking lots of water. Thanks for the call last night, I'm all the better for it.)

But getting back to boring. Around 2 o'clock I decided if I spent another minute in the Ganome cave I would go stark raving mad. It's beautiful out, but I have been hard pressed to be tempted outside, since I didn't want to have to tell anyone why I was carrying a bucket around with me. I am not feeling 100%, but on the other hand, I am growing blessedly less familiar with every aspect of my bathroom, so I decided to take a little field trip to my new bank.

Like most people in the good old US of A, I have been the victim of a big commercial bank for the past few years. At one point, I had my money in a small bank. I really liked the bank and the people who worked there. I knew all of the tellers, the manager and the assistant manager and we were on a first name basis. On the rare occasions I had any problems or questions I could actually sit down with the folks there and figure out whether it was an error on my part or banking error. We came out about 50 50 on that, but the thing was I knew when it was an error on my part, it really was my mistake and there was no, "too bad about you, bank policy is that the bank does not make mistakes." Unfortunately, small bank got gobbled up by big bank the people at my branch were either let go, or transfered to other branches and that conveniently located branch was shut down.

I have been having some problems with big bank and the last straw was when they without ceremony changed my savings account from a minuscule amount of interest to a no interest account. I am not a company that needs a holding account, thanks.

After asking a couple of friends I decided to move my business to the same bank that La Simpatica and C. use.

It's a nice bank and I think it should work out. I am still in the process of setting up all of my automatic payments and it was to that end that I took my field trip.

When my account was set up, for some reason they had not set up my internet banking so that I could pay bills online. One of my favorite innovations of the past few years. So, feeling like I could make it back and forth without disgracing myself I set off for small bank. On my way, I even tried to do a good deed. 3 straight guys, who were obviously lost were poring over a street map and I stopped to ask if they needed any help. Being straight men, they of course let me know they were perfectly capable of getting hopelessly lost and did not need any help. We're men, we can read maps! (not)

I shrugged it off and went into my bank branch, where my future ex-husband is working.

The assistant branch manager, who I will call Mr.Dreamboat, set my account up for me. I call him Mr. Dreamboat because, well, he's a dreamboat. Bald, shaved head, big blue eyes with those thick black lashes that are like sable brushes, full sensuous mouth an aquiline nose that is a bit on the large size and ears that stick out slightly. He even has nice hands. Did I also mention the eyebrows. Nice eyebrows. Even my fellow eyebrow connoisseur, Mike would approve.

When he was setting up the account I had to keep picking the carpet lint off my tongue and try not to giggle or bat my eyes. And here he was now, ready to help me navigate my first hurdle with my new bank. He even remembered me.

Not that that was probably all that hard. How many middle aged, heavily tattooed midgets come into his branch. None the less, I had to suppress a girlish giggle.

Mr. Dreamboat it turns out is Mr. Helpful too. We got my issue with my internet access to my account straightened out and I was on my way in short order.

Okay. So it was a cheap thrill. But when you've spent 36 hours confined to the house and most of that time in the bathroom and you feel like something the cat dragged in, having a handsome man give you a little cheerful attention can really brighten your day.

And for the record, I ran into some other poor lost soul and offered to give him directions. He might have been straight but at least he wasn't brain dead. He cheerfully accepted my help and went merrily on his way with a thank you, secure in the knowledge that he was only 2 blocks away from his destination.

Maybe that's why Mr. Dreamboat is so nice. Sometimes being Mr. Helpful really makes you feel better.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Was it the fish?

Maybe it was the fish.

I am seriously thinking of calling in sick to work this morning. It would seem that while I was asleep last night, a drunken weasel crawled down my throat and decided to pass out in my lower tract. This morning it is making a spirited attempt to claw it's way out. I think it brought some rusty garden tools with it.

I am currently lying here in bed with my laptop trying to figure out what I ate yesterday. I keep coming back to the fish.

It is the time of year when the school starts shoveling free food into the support staff as a way of saying thank you for not actually killing any of the faculty or student body, in spite of all of the justifiable provocations.

Yesterday the head of our department took us out to a restaurant. I will refrain from naming it, in case they are not the culprit. It actually was a very nice meal. We had 3 choices and since I am trying to lose some of the excess ganome, I actually showed considerable restraint. I did not eat any bread, or mashed potatoes or any carbs at all to be honest. I had green vegetables, unsweetened iced tea and I ordered fish. The fish didn't taste funny. If anything is was disappointingly bland. The only thing I really noticed after the meal was that I probably ate too much since I was in one of those post big meal stupors for the rest of the afternoon.

I always suspect that it was fish whenever I get some sort of stomach upset that involves cramps. Even when no marine life has been a part of my diet. I think it goes back to a particularly memorable occasion when I was working in a rather fancy restaurant.

We had a new sous chef. The head chef had told him to throw out a container of bluefish that was seeming a bit vintage and to use another container to make the employee meal. Needless to say, he got the containers mixed up, with as they say, hilarious results.

There is no sight more frantic and amusing than an entire wait staff that is in the throws of food poisoning trying to wait on customers and make it to the restrooms in time to get rid of the offending meal. I think it could also adversely affect business when there is a concert of hurling coming from said rest rooms during the dinner service.

I might be making this up, but I do seem to remember at one point sitting in a stall with the burning squirts while my head was in a bucket. Proving you can have it all.

That might be the problem with this morning. I am not getting a lot of action, which usually relieves the problem. If I were too busy at this moment with my ass hovering over the commode while I was leaning over the sink to be writing this, I would know that I was at least getting it out of my system in all the senses of that expression.

Instead I am propped up in bed, trying not to move too much and feeling like I am reenacting the dinner scene out of "Alien".

I would like to go back to sleep, however that is out of the question, sleep involves breathing, which seems to be its own little comfort challenge and I have figured out after a couple of exploratory expeditions to the john that this isn't something I am going to be able to walk off.

I guess my only hopes are either a swift and merciful death, or reliance on the old adage, "This too shall pass."

I'll let you know how it all comes out in the end.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

You're not kitty!

It is a hot muggy night here in Boston. It is reminding me of high summer up in the Green Mountains when I was a kid.

People wonder at the wildlife that has found it's way into urban areas. Raccoons, skunks, wild turkeys, coyotes, I have even seen a fisher cat here in the Fenway!

Skunks however are the animal I remember most. While we would occasionally see a raccoon or fox, skunks were the pest of pests. Every dog we ever owned had at least one run in with a skunk and on a couple of memorable occasions, so did members of my family.

When I was about 12 we got a cat, who my father insisted on naming Boots. Boots was a black and white cat, mostly black but with as you may have guessed, white boots and a white chest. Even as big tomcats go, he was something of a monster. When he was fully grown he weighed about 20 lbs. He was not one of those enormously fat housecats either. Boots was the master of his territory around our house and spent much of his time outdoors, slaughtering the local wildlife. He was big and cantankerous and would attack any of the neighbors dogs that came into our yard.

He did not like being held, though if someone who didn't like cats came into the house he would immediately jump up into their lap, curl up and start purring like a diesel truck.

The old man, in those days was really a dog man and did not particularly like cats but he and Boots bonded. Dad would be in his recliner and Boots would jump up and settle in next to him and they would watch TV together.

Even Doris, who has no patience with pets or children unless they are clean and well behaved had her own special relationship with the beast.

I think it was because the cat had a sense of humor. Kind of a nasty sense of humor, inclined to practical jokes in fact. I still think back on the day when he carried a live snake into the house. I am not much of a fan of snakes, but it was worth it just to hear the screams that came out of Doris. There was the cat, gripping the snake by its middle in his mouth, with both ends wriggling wildly and Doris screaming at me and my brothers to get that damned cat and its snake out of the house. The 3 of us are still laughing about that one. Yet in spite of all this, Doris had a soft spot for Boots and probably liked him more than any cat the family owned before or since.

One summer we were having a skunk problem. Skunks for those of you who have never lived out in the country might look sort of sweet and cute, but they can be pretty nasty and with very sharp claws for digging up grubs and some equally nasty teeth, they are not an animal you would want to get into a fight with. Their first defense is their spray however and it is quite effective as a defense, consequently very few animals will attack a skunk. One of the few animals I know of that prey on them are great horned owls, and I gather that is only because they have no sense of smell.

My mother however, worried that Boots would get into a confrontation with one of the skunks and might not simply get sprayed, so she dictated that the cat was to be in the house every night.

I think what she was most concerned about however was that the cat might surprise a skunk close to the house and we would have to close the windows until the smell of skunk died down.

Back in the 60's, at least out in the middle of nowhere, air conditioning was still considered a luxury and people relied on fans and open windows for cross ventilation to keep the house at a livable temperature. Having to close the windows in an old house in the middle of July was like turning your living room into a Turkish bath. All the windows were kept open as well as the doors. Those were the days when screen doors actually served a purpose.

One evening, it was my younger brothers turn to take the trash out to the incinerator in the back yard. People still burned their garbage in those days. Out near the back of the barn my old man had put a 40 gallon oil drum up on bricks and punched some drainage holes in the bottom. In some attempt to beautify this piece of rural domestic furniture, he had planted rhubarb for reasons known only to my father. It wasn't until we were able to reflect on this at our leisure afterwards that we thought that having a tipping area which attracts skunks, since there is always some sort of household waste treat just waiting to be eaten, and a large leafy plant, perfect for seeking cover under might not be such a great combination.

My mother's parting words to Mike as he headed out the door were, "and if you see that damned cat, bring him in! Those skunks are still hanging around."

Mike headed across the yard and the family settled in around the TV, the windows open letting what breeze there was waft through the living room. We heard Mike dump the trash in the barrel and then we heard him say, "C'mon Bootsie. You gotta come in the house."

Then there was an explosion of skunk.

Mike started cursing as only someone who has just been sprayed by a skunk can curse. Even at the tender age of 11, Mike could make a sailor blush and this was beyond the beyond, this would have blistered paint. I can't blame him. I would have given my vocabulary a good work out too, had it been me.

The living room was alive with the smell of startled skunk and everyone frantically began closing windows. Doris, every quick on her feet, closed an locked the door.

"Anthony, go upstairs and get your brother some clothes!", I was ordered.

By the time I got downstairs, Mike was furiously demanding to be let in the house. My mother had thrown open one window and was informing him he was not going to be allowed back in the house until he had, a.) buried his clothes and b.) hosed off. He would then be c.) marched directly to the bathroom where there would be tomato juice waiting for him.

I was then told to go down cellar, where we stored all of the canned goods to bring up some cans of tomato juice. Clean clothes were tossed out the window and Mike went off to bury his current fragrant apparel behind the barn. He was then escorted to the bathroom where there was tomato juice waiting for him and instructed to scrub.

If I remember correctly, the tomato juice didn't do much other than make everyone feel like everything that could be done, had been done.

I should also mention that the author of this mishap came lounging up the stairs from the cellar where he had been beating the heat, as only a cat can, by lying on the slate flags that our cellar was floored with.

My poor brother took an awful lot of teasing from my father and we boys for not being able to tell the difference between a skunk and a cat and my mother, who has a habit of taking every mishap in life as a personal affront that was somehow planned to make her life miserable rode poor Mike's ass for what seemed like weeks about how hot the house had become and how long it took to get the smell of skunk out of the house. What was the matter with him that he didn't know a skunk when he saw it and when he tried to defend himself by pointing out that it was dark out and that the cat was the same general size and color of a skunk, Doris informed him that she didn't care how dark it was, he should have been able to tell the difference between a skunk and a cat, with his head in a sack.

As the summer wore in both the heat and the skunk population began to dissipate. Though the evenings started to cool, we still kept the windows open, a welcome relief after the still hot days.

In spite of the growing absence of any members of the Mephitidae family, Doris had remained obsessed with making sure Boots was in the house once evening had fallen.

So is was that one evening Doris discovered for herself the difficulties in species identification in low light conditions.

"Has anyone called the cat?" she demanded.

There was a general murmuring that we thought he was in the house, he had probably snuck down cellar where it was cool and a demonstrated a pretty decided unwillingness to uproot ourselves from our spots in front of the TV.

Radiating self righteous indignation at the laziness of her male offspring, Doris marched to the back door in a spirited attempt to shame one of us into persuading Boots to come in, when he would in all likelyhood much prefer to stay outside and hunt down any small nocturnal creatures that were foolish enough to enter our yard.

We could hear Doris standing at the back door, calling kitty, kitty, kitty. Eventually we heard her say, "There you are! Come on, get in the house! There was a pause, and then we heard our mother say in very careful measured tones, "You're not kitty..." and simultaneously the back door slammed and the house filled with the odor of frightened skunk.

I have to say, for a woman that was not big on exercise, Doris could move like lightening if she needed to. Those reflexes served her well in that she managed to get the door between her and the skunk before he let loose.

This resulted in her progeny having a field day for some time pointing out the numerous ways in which one could distinguish a skunk from a cat, even in the dark, and saying "You're not kitty!"

The whole joke would have had much better legs, but Doris can unexpectedly have a sense of humor about her own mistakes and instead of trying to defend herself, joined in and thought her near miss was a riot and laughed louder than anyone about it.

I have a feeling she would have found it a lot less humorous and we boys would have found it even funnier if she'd been the one burying her cloths in back of the barn, but you can't have everything.

Too much of a good thing

After a week of chilly gloom, we had a hot, muggy weekend. The temperatures soared from the high 50's into the 90's. With a youthful enthusiasm that turned out to be slightly misplaced I went out into the garden on Saturday to try and manage the encroachments of weeds into my little patch. I managed a couple of hours and then sensibly went back to the house and found slightly cooler pursuits.

Sunday however was a different story. There is something compelling about weeds. They are the potato chips of gardening. You figure you'll pull up a couple and the next thing you know, you are making your 8th trip to the compost heap with a bucket of uprooted weeds.

I had gone out at around 10:00 figuring I would put in a hour and then go to the museum or find some other air conditioned activity to pursue. Bend over, yank up weed, rinse and repeat. All the while a slow hose running in the beds.

Finally as I was sitting in my arbor taking a brief rest when one of my neighbors came trundling by with a wheelbarrow. "Your garden is looking good!", he said, letting himself walking into the garden. "Budge over.", he said. "There has to be enough room on this seat for 2 asses."
Briefly surveying my little piece of Eden he commented on the view. "I've never seen your garden from this angle. No wonder you love this plot."

I had to agree. I love my garden. I get to look out over the gardens and the park and the skyline beyond.

However, I have been reminded that there is such a thing as too much love. After Iory left, I looked at my watch. It was 2:00.

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling like crap. Too much sun. Fortunately, I had had the foresight to slather on a lot of SPF 15 all weekend, so I didn't have a sunburn on top of what I am guessing was a case of heat exhaustion. I called in sick and spent the day pretty much on the sofa feeling like crap.

Today I dragged myself out of bed. Blew off the gym and made my way to the office through the fug of air pollution that is currently hanging over the city. Summer is here, someone turned the heat up and everything is moving at a much slower pace. That said, I will take it over winter, heat exhaustion and all. Besides, I've got a pretty good tan now.