Saturday, January 29, 2005

Shopping Therapy

The Husband and I went bookshopping today. Rather, we went manga shopping to pick up whatever I could find on this series -- Tokyo Babylon -- that I'm reading. The last two books aren't out yet, but I picked up #5, and then got tempted by Legal Drug (which has three others in the series so far, two of which are translated but not available via Amazon...oh lords of light, what have I gotten into?) and another series, Angel Sanctuary, that was my first venture into manga. I picked up the art book a few years ago -- it was really stunning -- but the OVA (I don't know what that means, actually, except it's a video, usually episodic, based on the Manga, which may or may not have anything to do with the Manga's storyline itself) was truly awful and I couldn't finish watching it.

Complicated, isn't it?

Well, I picked up a few other things, too. A book on Klimt that was on sale, another Heyer novel, the new Alison Krause CD, and two boxes of Tarot cards for my collection. I'm not really a big Tarot Card person, I just like the artwork on some of them. It rather pleases me to get such a lot of artwork like that, all in a particular style. I store them in photo albums so I can look at them. Sometimes they are good for inspiring ideas. Many times an artist will reinterpret the Tarot, which is also interesting.

I'd be listening to the Alison Krause right now -- I heard it while it was playing in Barnes & Noble, and knew her voice -- but I was listening to A Prairie Home Companion and now Echoes, and so haven't really had a listening lull.

Right now I am contemplating some writing. Husband was on an outcall and is still an hour out of the house. The dog is content to lay on the floor behind me, and every cat I've seen is sacked out. This might be the moment.

Ephemera

Last night was "Scottish Night" at our local bookstore/bistro. One of our area liminaries is a bagpiper and a nice guy. Mt. Dora is "sister cities" with Forres, Scotland, and it's a pretty serious thing, with a student exchange program and a "Robby Burns Dinner" and all.

In any case, Husband was eager for a change to wear his Utilikilt yet again, so I pulled on some clothes (including a nice "plaid-esque" shawl a friend bought me in Ireland some years back, over one shoulder in proper style) and we went. We ate dinner, talked to friends -- it was a fine time. I added more books to my "lay away"s tack -- I wander around and pile up books that go on a shelf and I buy them a few at a time. Bagpipes (Both Highland and smaller "Chamber" pipes) were played, many a creaky Scottish joke was told, some songs were sung, and some poetry read. It's one of those odd events, so common in Mt. Dora, where most of the people there are either over 50 or under 30, with a scattering of folks in the middle.

Technically we don't live in Mt. Dora. Technically, we live across the highway in Eustis. However, Eustis, despite much effort, has a dead downtown area that is actually a further drive away. One day, we aspire to move across the highway and actually BE in Mt. Dora. Such lofty dreams...

My life is settling into its usual quiet groove, nothing much going on, nothing of great importance to consider. My current indulgence is reading a particular Manga series, Tokyo Babylon. I'm up to book 4, and I will probably go hunting books 5 and 6 this weekend because I Just Gotta Know. I am sometimes puzzled by the things I find interesting

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Cruise in Review

Ok, I really haven't talked about the cruise I took, have I? Well, the headcold is down now to a few sniffles, so I can think a little bit (as much as I ever could, I guess).

Most of the cruise wasn't really memorable. It just isn't worth discussing, really.

St. Maarten is a giant tourist trap. In Phillipsburg, where our boat anchored, it was wall-to-wall jewelry stores, women lined up wanting to braid your hair, men lined up wanting to rent things to you. We went on an "excursion" -- I have come to hate that word -- to the Butterfly Farm. It was a 4 hour tour and there were 6 of us on it. First, it was a clown's fire drill trying to get organized to get on the bus (well, really a van) in the hot sun, amongst the crowds, and this was generally unpleasant. Then there was the trek to the vans and busses through all the thronging people. Then there was crowding into a van fitted with three bench seats -- wedged is a better word, I think.

Then there was our driver.

Our driver was a nice man. He was a good driver. He was doing his best. However, as a tour guide, he was pure torture. Imagine an island accent over all this so I don't have to type dialect.

"There are two streets in Phillipsburg. The first street is Front Street. The other street is Back Street. We are on Back Street. The other street is Front Street. We are on Back Street. The other street is called Front Street." I kid you not. By the time we circled the island and came back to Phillipsburg, the six of us were saying the spiel along with him.

"This is the Texaco Station." There it was, large as life, a Texaco gas station, on an island in the East Indies. On the Dutch side, I should specify. Glory be.

He pointed out goats. He pointed out chickens. He pointed out trees, including a tree that isn't there anymore. He pointed out where the Europeans lived. He pointed out where Robby's Lotto shops were (and they were everywhere). He pointed out where the illegal cock fights were held. He pointed out schools. He pointed them out over, and over, and over again.

We had 45 minutes at the butterfly farm. Forty Five Minutes. Out of a 4 hour excursion. It's just NOT That Big an island. Our other stop was for 35 minutes in Marigot (on the French Side) where we had just enough time to taste Sugar cane juice (eh) and Coconut milk (eh) and eat the meat from the coconut (yum). Then back on the van -- to wait 30 minutes for a missing person. We finally decided to vote her off the bus.

Then we drive back. "This is the Shell Station. That is the McDonalds." My eyes were rolling back in my head. "This is the Medical Center. We call it....the Hospital."

I'm not making that up. That's a quote. In fact, we were quoting it to each other for the rest of the cruise.

Then we are dodging evening traffic in Phillipsburg again, and the driver is saying, "This is Front Street. The other street we were on this morning was Back Street. We will be ending the tour on Back Street. This is Front Street."

We are all saying it, in chorus, in the back of the bus. We've been bouncing around in this bus for 2 hours and 15 minutes, not including the 30 minutes spent sitting in the bus in Marigot. We were sick of the bus.

Then there was the ride back to the ship.

There were so many cruise ships at Phillipsburg the morning we arrived that several of them had to anchor in the bay, and use tenders (all the way to the bottom section, 3rd definition, and no, I have no idea how this one word got so many very different meanings) to make the 5 minute trip to the dock and back. The tenders are really just the larger life boats on the ship. They aren't built for comfort, really, but they get you around. The tide is coming in as we head back to the ship. The bay is choppy. They are having difficulty unloading the tenders already at the gangway. So, we are in the tender holding pattern.

It's rough. For 10 minutes, it isn't bad. At 15 minutes, it's getting annoying -- up and down, bounce-bounce-bounce, the pilot of the little boat trying not to run into the other tenders. At 35 minutes, it's getting serious. People are vomiting into their shopping bags. One woman threw up in her purse. At 40 minutes, one of our friends, C, is threatening to jump off the tender and swim to the ship, pulling the tender in with a rope held in her teeth. At 45 minutes, I believe she's serious.

We want off this damn little boat. We've been bouncing on hard bench seats for hours already. We want OFF.

Finally we moor on the gangway, but it's not going well. One of the mooring lines is fraying, and there's about 4 feet of rise/fall between the ship and the tender. There are four sailors lined up -- two on the tender, two on the gangway -- to toss and haul passengers on board. We watch the first group line up to make the leap. I am comforted by the fact that this is a cruise ship and it is not worth the trouble for those seamen to let any of us pampered passengers even get damp. One woman starts yelling that she can't do it, she's too scared. C is ready to toss her bodily onto the gangway. The sailors practically do that, but at least she's on board. Then it's my turn. I eye it, time it, and step off without a hitch. I turn to watch C.

She's crouched in a runner's stance. The tender is really tossing. The sailor -- a South Asian man, C outweighs him by probably 30 pounds, and not because she's particularly fat -- has his arm and leg braced across the opening, determined she will NOT move until he can be certain she will make it. Then she launches, and with sublime grace, is on relatively stable ground.

That, my friends, was the most exciting part of the cruise.

The only other highlight was Half Moon Cay, which I already showed you.

Cheesepuff Philosophy

In the car last night:

Him: "All Natural Cheese Puffs". What makes them so natural?

Me: MmmPppphh?

Him: What's natural about puffing up cheese? Taking poor little cheeses and blowing them up like that.

Me: I think they are really just corn starch with cheesey powder on them.

Him: Ok, so what's natural about puffed up corn starch with cheesy powder? I mean, is that natural?

Me: Well, the term "all natural" is really meaningless. What is "natural?" Does it mean all things not man made? Yet isn't mankind itself a product of nature? Does it mean things that are grown, not made? But animals will use tools, and they build nests or dig holes and burrows. Ants even farm, to grow food they like. Is that considered natural? Are then things made by man equally as natural?

Him: You are ruining my cheese puff rant with logic.

Me: Watch the road.


Saturday, January 22, 2005

Additions

I'm slowly rebuilding things I used to have here. Over to the left, in my lovely sidebar, there are two links in larger type -- My Writing Journal (guess what that is!) and Lists of Books (and my husband accuses me of being overly subtle. Ha!).

Lists of Books is pretty much what it sounds like -- lists of books I've read in the last few years, plus some lists of favorites and the occasional review. I keep thinking I'll write more reviews, but they come slowly, if at all. Really, they are just opinions, not so much reviews. Anyway... there it is, if you are curious.


You don't wanna know

Well, in a cycle I've become accustomed to, my sinuses are bleeding. Ergh. I managed to skip all this last year, but for the last few years it's become a regular January event -- I get a head cold, my sinuses go nuts, I become the Mucus Queen, and inevitably they get raw and start bleeding. It's a real treat, I tell you. Lasts for weeks. sometimes into March. Bah. I'm about to open my third box of Kleenex this week.

Now that you are completely nauseated, the good news. I seem to be getting better. Slowly, steadily. Still feel like spending most of my day in the bed, but I don't keep falling asleep (or keep trying to fall asleep only to wake up coughing or unable to breathe). That's good. My vocal chords are still unhappy, so I remain too froggy for words, but I think I'll make it to rehearsal, even if I can't actually sing.

Might try to read a book or something. I've been playing Sims 2 day and night now. I've just gotten my second generation of Sims married and starting their own families. I still don't know why I like doing this. I keep seeing things happen that susprise me -- a parent spontaneously going to tuck a child into bed, an option appearing for "Stuff face" at the fridge, or "Sneak Out" for a teenager...they did a damn good job on this version. I want the expansion pack.

My head feels like it's been beaten with an aluminum baseball bat. Not a wooden one -- no splinters. I tried using the evil Neti pot again, but this time something went wrong, and the water went into my eustachian tubes and just....stayed there....argh! Ack! Even Auyurvedic has turned against me! It's been hours and the pressure is gone, but the water...it's still in there. I can FEEL it. With the failure of alternative methods, I'm now considering the tried and true decongestents. I hate 'em -- they have their own set of nasty side effects, among which are feeling like my sinuses have been sandpapered with 120 grit. But I don't need a secondary infection getting in because of the rawness (which is what will happen) so that I stay miserable until March. Damn, there's no MIL in my house this year! I can leave the bedroom -- at least, as soon as I can walk a straight line.

Bitch, moan, complain. Why is it complaining seems to be such a diverting activity?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Road to Recovery

I'm coming to the end of this headcold nightmare. My voice is now "froggy", I can go a hour without a Kleenex, I only wake up coughing once or twice a night, and I can stand up and walk around for about 30 minutes before I feel woozy.



That's where I was last Saturday -- Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. I was sitting on the beach, it was warm and sunny, fairly peaceful, and just about perfect. I suppose experiencing such perfection is why I'm paying in snot and pain now. *sigh*

Sunday, January 16, 2005

And Home Again

I am returned home. Clever me, I waited until this moment to develop fully the virus that was striking down others during the cruise. I am dizzy, achy, and very, very pitiful. My throat hurts, my nose drips, and this is definately a fever.

So while I am suffering and recovering, I will compose delightful tales of my travels to be unfolded here, for your entertainment and elucidation.

Or I'll just post pictures.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

D-Day

Ok, we leave here in about an hour . Like before any trip, I'm beginning to think I don't want to go. I don't want to leave my house, my stuff, my cats, etc. This passes, but it always happens. I really am a home-body.

There's supposed to be internet access on the ship, and the laptop is going with me, but who knows? It might cost a bloody fortune. We will see.

Everyone else take care. I will drink something fruity with an umbrella in it while thinking of you shivering in assorted cold, wet places. Of course, it rains in the Caribbean, too.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Oatmeal

Here we are, 5 days into the new year (D minus 4, if you are counting like I am) and I haven't cracked open a book, or tried to do any writing. What's wrong with me? In fact, the only really positive thing I've done resolutions-wise is remember how to cook oatmeal. And then eat it.

That's important. Lots of folks know how to cook oatmeal, but can't face the eating of it. Oatmeal promises to clean out all my bad cholesterol, make me heart-healthy, give me soft skin and shiny hair, and guarantee I won't become a crazed axe-murderer**. Axe-murderers, as a rule, will not eat oatmeal.

I'm watching something on the Discovery channel that involves killing hundreds of mosquitos so some guy can line their little corpses up under a microscope. I'm pretty sure this freaks me out, as I hate mosquitos and I hate mosqiuitos close up even more, but I'm not sure yet, so I'm going to watch a little while longer while I wait for my hair to de-grey.

Yes, there is dye on my hair at this very moment, dropping years from my apparent age, giving my hair vibrancy, life, and body and increasing my overall sex-appeal. It's almost as good as oatmeal. Hair dye is no protection from axe-murderers, though.

Aigh. Close-up mosquitos on television don't really freak me out, but I'm glad they aren't on screen for very long. A giant mosquito would be freaky. I shudder to think of it. Even more ook -- they didn't actually kill those mosquitos. They trapped them, anesthetised them, marked them, and set them free again as part of a mosquito study. AIGH! Once you get those suckers, kill 'em! Kill 'em!

I do not use an axe to kill mosquitos. In fact, I'm not even sure where the idea of an axe-murderer came from. Lizzy Bordon, perhaps? I watched one of those historic forensics shows on her over the weekend and they decided she did it. I bet she didn't eat oatmeal. And technically, childhood rhymes notwithstanding, it was a hatchet.

**A check on Yahoo for "ax-murderer" turned up the usual suspects and a question: "Do you mean axe-murderer?" And so I got paranoid and changed my spelling. Now I'm wondering why you'd stick that "e" on the end anyway. The "a" isn't the long sound like in "hay", it's the short sound like in "hat". Usually that little schwa (that's one of those words I learned in school and never forgot -- the silent e on the end of a word has its own nifty name!) turns the vowel to its long sound. But it doesn't do it here, and I've seen the word both ways, so why the extra letter? Ah, English.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

D Minus 5

I'm packing and ironing and sorting and packing and making lists and checking them twice and packing. We leave on Sunday, after all, and Saturday is booked solid. Everything that can be together must be together on Friday. Surprisingly enough, that means most everything should be packed up by Thursday so we have a whole two days for last minute stuff and "Oh, I almost forgot."

A nice guy from Sears came out today, and for a measley $226 dollars, repaired my dryer. There are slightly damp jeans tumbling right now. Apparently the lint pipe (don't ask, I don't know) is stocked full of enough lint to cover the Third World's lint needs for a month solid. This is Bad (I used to read a weblog that was famed for an article on dryer lint...I wonder where that one went?). So we are paying someone else about $100 to come on Friday, attach a giant vacuum hose to that lint pipe, and suck it all out. For safety, I will have the cats locked in the back room. The dog is big enough to fend for herself.

Since these combined charges about equal what we paid for the dryer in the first place, Husband and I have decided next time we will just get a new dryer. As for this lint pipe thing, it's just one more stupid design flaw in this house. There are several. Most are just dumb, and considering this house is about 12 years old, there isn't much excuse for them. As Husband often reminds me, he was only supposed to be in this house about 5 years, at which time he was going to get a different job and sell it, to move on up in the world. I ruined all that by marrying him and causing him to stay in the same place.

This house lacks square rooms, for one thing. There are angled walls all over the place, odd spaces jutting out or cutting off corners. There are three actually square rooms -- the teeny laundry room (which is actually a short hall connecting the kitchen to the garage where someone realised you could JUST fit two laundry machines, if you didn't want to open or close either door) and the bedroom we use for meditation and storage, and the porch we expanded and enclosed a couple of years ago.

Then there's that volume ceiling. Lots of space to heat and cool that you can't live in, lots of places for cobwebs to gather that you need a hydraulic lift to reach, and crummy attics.

Still, I love my house, with all its imperfections and annoyances, and I will continue to love it until the day we sell the damn thing and move into a house with normal ceilings, right angles, and closets.

Did I mention I'm leaving for a cruise in five days? I am. Caribbean and everything. And I'm packing and ironing and sorting and making lists and...I think the dryer is done.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Why I am a Bad Person

Here's a post about another book I feel no desire whatsoever to read. Chez Miscarriage: We Don't Need Another Reason To Hate Sylvia Ann Hewlett, But Here's One Anyway

But I'm thinking about this whole childless thing. Right now that is my life and my future -- no kids, just pets. One of the commentors brought up the "parent/not parent" conflict -- people without kids resenting those who do for bringing babies into the office, needing time off work for a sick child, children in restaurants, etc. Rob at Darn Tootin' has gone over this one, and termed them "child-free babyhaters" (check his archives).

I don't mind children in a restaurant being kids. I do mind when they are running between tables, throwing food, or screaming relentlessly while their parents ignore them to continue their conversation. To me, a child who screams for more than 5 minutes requires attention, and restaurants that are not Chuck E Cheese are not intended for running around, especially under other people's tables. I don't have particular resentments over babies in the office or taking a day for a sick child. I do resent parents who demand my admiration and congratulations, or insist I echo their justifications (mostly because of the "demand" part). I like babies fine, and I will come admire on my own. I understand about responsibility for the lives of others and will not fault you for living up to yours.

I also resent being put under the blanket assumption that, because I do not have children, I have endless free time unfairly loaded into my life. My free time does not come from some huge storehouse where free time is taken from parents and given to me. I made my choices and I live with them. If I've chosen or accepted free time in exchange for having a child, that's how it is. If you've chosen to have a child, giving up your free time is part of it.

I'm sensitive on this issue. I didn't realize I wanted a child until I got pregnant and lost 3 possibilities to have children. Now there are no more. If I want a child, I must adopt and as yet that idea is still scary. My own trepidation -- that I'm not heading with bulldozer determination toward adopting at any cost -- makes me wonder if I'm suited for motherhood.

I don't know. I do know that many people who become parents didn't know they wanted to be parents until they became parents, and even now torment themselves with their inadequacies and failings. It's a tough job. And I think the world is big enough to have childless people as well, and that it is even positive to have childless people, so they may do the things parents can't or should not do (because of those responsibilities).

I am not a bad, incomplete, or ineffective person because I do not have a child. I suspect that good parents were good people before kids, and bad parents had problems before kids. I don't think this is a "one size fits all" world.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Welcome, Arbitrary point of beginning

Parties were fun. Consumed much sugary goodness instead of alcohol. Had much conversation. Reflected on the fact tha Regis Philbin has done far too much Botox and was wearing enough pancake to add an inch to his features. It was frightening. There was speculation that Dick Clark couldn't die because he was still on contract, someone pissed on his magic portrait hidden in the attic, or that he was waiting for a specific day (That seems morbid and cruel this morning, but it was funny last night).

Drove home without mishap, witnessing only one almost-accident (we sat at a stop light as the left turn signal came on, and guy in the far right lane decided it must mean him and cruised on through, into the path of left turning car going the opposite way. Left turning person was smart. Red light runner was stupid. We stayed away until he turned off the road.) Got home and to bed around 3 ish. Slept until 10. Lovely.

Now it's time to get moving again. There's only a week until the cruise -- I had not properly calculated this. For some reason, January 9th felt like 2 weeks from the new year, but it's not. It's a week from tomorrow. Incredible. Must start packing.