Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween.

It's supposedly bad luck to have a black cat cross your path. But it might be even more unlucky to cross the path of a disgruntled cat shoehorned into a Halloween costume. BEWARE!

Cock o' the walk.
(That's a medium-sized [little] dog costume from Target, which barely fits around his body, plus a headpiece from the rack of cat costumes that bulges off his fat kitty head. Why does no one offer a range of alternatives for the ample gentleman???)

("I don't want to look like a weirdo. I'll just go with the muumuu.")


Make it stop.

Dejected after finding his food bowl empty.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Old Lady With Dementia (And Chinese Take-Out).

Apparently the Fates decided it'd been too long since I'd been verbally assaulted by an insane person, so today they served up a heaping helping of Old Lady With Dementia (and Chinese Take-Out):

"Thank god I got something to eat. My blood sugar was low. My children are trying to kill me."

"All of my telephone books have been removed. At this stage in life, you don’t want to have to go through all that rigmarole just to get a telephone number."

"The worst thing in the world is to not have enough to do. DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH TO DO?"

"Some sort of skullduggery is at play."

"What’s his name? (Scott.) Swat? (Scott. S-C-O-T-T.) Scat?"

"That little Oriental lady forgot to put a fork in my lunch. Is she trying to kill me???"

"Didn’t you read any Agatha Christie in school? A fat lot of good that education did you."

"Is he the most important lawyer in town?"

"This decor reminds me of my house, just outside of New York City. But we had a cuckoo clock."

"Does he take a nap after he eats lunch? Why not?"

"The Von Trapps, they came over from Austria. Wonderful voices."

"I forgot what I was going to fuss about. I had to do some sleuthing -- have you ever heard that word?"

"Don’t you have a buzzer system under your desk? Can’t you jolt him in there and tell him I’m here?"

"Somebody took all of my phone books away. All my private material is gone. It takes a clever mind to think of all the details like that."

"People want it better yesterday than they did today."

"Maybe he wants to go home and take his afternoon nap."

(To my coworker, who made the mistake of walking through the reception area) "You have a beautiful figure. You look like a friend of mine who used to go riding with me and John D. Rockefeller. DO YOU KNOW THE ROCKEFELLERS?"

"I suspect that this is the right time. I just need to compile the evidence."

"When I was growing up north of NYC in our five-story estate, the maid didn’t come and sit around and wait for you to need her, you pushed a buzzer for her. Why don’t you have a buzzer?"

"I’ll give him five more minutes, and if he’s not out, I’m leaving and I’ll come back another day. If I LIVE another day. I’M NOT KIDDING."

"When all your private papers and phone books disappear, all your ammunition is gone. It’s like Annie Get Your Gun, there’s no more bullets in the belt."

"Are you sure he’s not taking a nap?"

"My brother married a cousin, and one of her cousins was Oliver Cromwell. Y’know, from England. You know what they say about marrying your cousin."

"My daughter-in-law had me go to the psychiatrist and they took all kinds of pictures of my brain and there was NOTHING WRONG WITH IT. That was one way out from under the noose."

"He didn’t sneak out the back door, did he?"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Diminishing returns, pt. 3.

Yet ANOTHER bunny costume.

(Readying for trick-or-treating, 1989.)

Jenni, my BFF: Homemade floofy pink bunny costume. With OPPOSABLE EARS.

Me: "Jungle girl" costume made of fabric scraps and an old dress of my Grandma Vera's that I hacked up with a pair of scissors. Oh, and Mardi Gras beads. But they go with anything.

Nick: Skeleton pajamas.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Police blotter.

Tuesday, 12:22 P.M.:
Caller would like to speak with an officer in regard to trapping cats on the school grounds.

Wednesday, 11:40 A.M.: Caller states a known individual stole a 30-pack of Busch, a 12-pack of Budweiser and a bottle of vodka.

Wednesday, 8:49 P.M.: Caller states that her daughter is outside burning her clothes.

Thursday, 1:06 P.M.: Caller reports that her husband had been kicked out of the bar and he is still trying to get back in.

Thursday, 3:57 P.M.: Caller states someone just urinated by a church window.

Friday, 6:47 A.M.: Caller reports an old Ford truck that is "delaying the mail."

Friday, 3:31 P.M.: Caller states someone threw spoiled meat into the fenced-in yard. Update: Sunday, 5:50 P.M.: Caller states neighbor has again thrown rotten meat on his fence; caller is concerned about dog's health.

Sunday, 8:33 P.M.: Report of grill in middle of highway.

Diminishing returns, pt. 2

A surly fox, an oblivious bunny, and Cobra Commander.
(Halloween, 1986.)

Dewey: Homemade Cobra Commander costume, complete with awesome metallic mask.

Mary: Homemade costume that was supposed to be a reindeer but wound up as some kind of fox/varmit hybrid (much to my dismay).

Nick: Hand-me-down rabbit suit from Aunt Judy.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Diminishing returns, pt 1.

I must've really liked that Gremlins costume a lot.
(Halloween, 1985.)

Dewey: Homemade bat costume.

Me: Store-bought Gremlins costume (recycled).

Godzilla: Sweatshirt and eyewear by Cabbage Patch, socks by Pile of Dirty Laundry.

Nick: Pillowcase with "Boo!" written on it.

I am a patron of the arts.

First there was this, down in Minneapolis on Saturday night, where I laughed so hard my face hurt.

And next Saturday in Duluth, there will be this. Pins & needles, people--pins & needles.

(It's good to see that even though his patron newspaper's print version is defunct, the world can still get updates about what Bat Boy is up to.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Law & Order: Carbonated Beverage Investigation Unit.

Friday, 2:37 P.M.:
Caller would like to file a criminal complaint about someone "peeing in his pop," and would also like the "pee" tested to find out who did it.

(I'm no CSI, but I think the suspect may be of Chinese descent, and may have been playing a joke.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

I assure you, in person, it did not look like I was sporting a Jheri curl.


Not that it looked good, mind you.

The acid-washed jeans, however, were obviously
so hot that they negated the need for shoes on an October afternoon. SIZZLE!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mullet of Mass Destruction.

The war of wigs will continue to escalate until he stops yowling in my ear.

The war of the wigs continues to escalate.

She's in the jailhouse now.

Last week there was a notice in the paper about a former classmate of mine who's being sent to the pokey for, amongst other things, battery charges and her
fourth OWI.

The reason my mom pointed it out to me? When we were in kindergarten, one day for no particular reason the six year-old version of the batterer slammed my five year-old head into the gymnasium wall.

Goose egg.
(Me and the big ol' goose egg on my forehead, 1984.)

No one knew why--not the teacher, not the other kids, certainly not me. I mean, it wasn't an accident or part of a game--she ran up and pushed my head right into the wall. It was October and we'd only been in school for a month, so it wasn't like we'd had time to make mortal enemies, I wasn't exactly the most confrontational kid in the world, so it seems unlikely that I would've said something to provoke her wrath. Since I was a wussy and one of the smallest kids in the class (and she was one of the biggest), I guess the authority figures in our world chalked it up to some early-onset bullying, and moved on.

Well, until a couple of years later, anyway, when the eight year-old version of the batterer grabbed me from behind on the playground one day and colored all over my face with magic markers.

I can remember that more clearly than the incident in kindergarten. (From that, all I remember is my head hitting the wall and the look on my mom's face when I got home from school when she got an eyeful of that bump on my noggin.) I remember I was standing on the playground not too far from Beaser Avenue, playing with my best friend Jenni, when all of a sudden these arms had me around the neck and I saw markers coming at my face. It probably only lasted a couple of seconds, but I froze to the spot and didn't fight back because, well, I don't think I had any idea what was going on. I had a big brother at home and was used to roughhousing with him & the boys on our road, but they'd never done anything like that to me. When it was over and she ran away, I remember standing frozen on the spot, not crying or anything, but just in a state of shock, I guess. Jenni led me back into the school and found our teacher, and I remember standing over a sink in the bathroom for a long time while she washed the marker off my face.

In the grand scheme of things, these weren't a big deal in my life. Yeah, they sucked and scared me at the time, but it seems like nearly every kid goes through bullying in one form or another in school and I was lucky to have good teachers & friends watching my back. Also, I was lucky that most second graders didn't have access to permanent markers in the mid-1980s.

With Michael Jackson, Morris, Dewey and my shrinking head welt.
(On the same day as my headbanging with my brother, his cat Morris,
and my cat, Michael Jackson [which was not ironic since at the time,
Michael Jackson was still black].)

But man alive, what sort of messed-up home life makes a kid come to school and inflict that kind of stuff on other kids? And worse, is this cycle just repeating itself now, with her kids? Are they showing up at school and tackling the wussies, too? Who's going to look after them while she's in prison? Is she going to ever learn anything from this, or just keep going on punching her way through the world?

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's been nearly a week...

...and I still don't understand this sign.

I honestly have no clue what this means.

Am I the only one?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Will walk for donuts.

I am not an athletic person.

Happiness Hotel, indeed.
(Billings, 2003.)

I have never been an athletic person. I'm uncoordinated and timid and if someone wants the ball more than me, they can have it. When I was in the second grade, my gym teacher told my mom I was a "wuss" and that she should tether a ball to a tree and make me go outside and hit it every night to get used to balls flying at my face. Fortunately, Mom was from a long line of wusses, too, and understood that my primal need to protect my head outweighed any temporary advantages I might obtain from getting comfortable having balls crash into it.

Since then, my most notable athletic achievements have included:

  1. An 8th grade class trip to Mt. Ashwabay on which, during the thirty seconds I was upright on my skis that day, I managed to slide down the bunny hill straight into a barbed wire fence.

  2. The time we were playing softball in the high school gym and I hit the ball and the catcher in the same swing.

  3. Walking back to my apartment in college after miraculously surviving an intramural broomball game only to literally fall off the curb into the street mid-stride and skin my knees.

  4. Having a horse that I was riding near Red Lodge, Montana suddenly decide to lay down. While I was still on it. Fortunately, that time some long-dormant catlike reflexes kicked in, and I leapt off and only lost a shoe in the ordeal. (And to be fair, I wouldn't have wanted to be carrying me around, either.)
Which is probably why my friends were a little confused when I suggested we sign up for a fun run last weekend.

Fatigue sets in.

What motivated me to sign up for a fun run (er, fun walk)?

  1. It was a fundraiser for the library, and wussies like me spend a lot of time at the library.

  2. I was told there'd be donuts at the finish line.
And that's how I found myself walking the old railway corridor into Ashland bright & early on Saturday morning with my friends Shannon and Elizabeth.

Bus stop.

It was a beautiful morning--cold and crisp, with the leaves at their autumnal peak. We'd successfully carbo-loaded the night before for our epic 5k walk from my house (more or less--I could practically see it from the starting line) to the Civic Center in town, and Liz had brought along further provisions for the trip. THANK GOD.


Now, we were under the impression that this was an ordinary fun run. The runners would be all fast & competitive, and the walkers would, for the most part, wander along enjoying the scenery. Perhaps I should have paid more heed to the following item that ran in last month's library newsletter, however:
"The walking event has had issues in the past where some walkers also ran and won their age class. We work on the honor system for the walkers. If there are issues again this year, 2008 will be the last year for awards in the walking division. 'We like to see the competitiveness in the walking race,' says race co-chair David Wherritt. 'However, we can't have the turmoil over the results that we have had in the last several years.'"
See what happens when you bring jocks into the library? Suddenly, there's turmoil. Normally the biggest turmoil is over who's overstaying their turn on the computers or who's hogging the Anne of Green Gables DVD, but as soon as these non-wussies show up, it's all shot to hell!

And that's just how it went down on the course, too--more than a handful of "walkers" came across the finish line in the midst of the pack of runners, to which I cry shenanigans. NO ONE WALKS 10 MPH. IT DEFIES THE VERY DEFINITION OF WALKING.

Really, though, this all had little effect on us. We walked along at a respectable pace and enjoyed the scenery, just as we'd planned.

Pretty much sums up my philosophy.
Crossing over Vaughn Avenue...

By the time we neared the finish line, some of the runners from the 10k race that started behind us were passing us by. As we approached a corner near the end, a surly old woman volunteering started screaming at us, "STAY TO THE RIGHT!!! STAY TO THE RIGHT!!!" Which might have made sense, if (A.) any other race volunteer along the entire course had told us to do so earlier on, or (B.) if we weren't already walking single-file way off on the left, far out of the path of any oncoming runners. If we'd moved when she started yelling, we would've crossed right in front of some runners and tripped them up. Our hesitation seemed only to infuriate her further as her screeching escalated tenfold--"MOVE TO THE RIGHT!!!" We waited for the runners to pass and then made a big show of leaping to the right side of the about one bad apple spoiling the bunch. In the immortal words of Jar-Jar Binks, "How wude."

And at last, it was over.

Finish line.
Finish line!

BUT WHERE WERE THE DONUTS??? We walked around the finishing area, and all of the tables of water and food were labeled "for Whistlestop participants only" which left us out in the cold. My donut-less anxiety levels maxing out, we headed into the Civic Center as a last-ditch effort to find the snacks...and thank god, we hit pay dirt. I'm pretty sure I would've gone into a berserker rage if we hadn't.


Those fast chumps can have their trophies--a bowl full of donut holes is the only trophy I'll ever need.

The end.

Monday, October 13, 2008

He was warned.

Absolutely fabulous.

I told him there'd be consequences if he didn't stop yowling and stealing my yarn, but he didn't listen.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Round 2.

In which the political signage arms race escalates*.

Round Two.

Tough round to call--on the one hand, we've now got three signs to our neighbors' one. But on the other hand, now they've got a fence to deflect our salvo. (Yes, that really wasn't there a week ago.)

I think this wins it for us, though, on a technicality. A delightfully random technicality.

I can't wait to see what happens in Round 3!

*Again, this is just a joke--we are in no way feuding with our neighbors. Really. And the spontaneous fence thing is funny.
A little weird, but funny.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I refuse to wait more than five minutes for food served out of a tent on the street.

Every year, it's a little harder to talk myself into going to Apple Fest.

View down Rittenhouse.

I mean, it's kinda fun once I get there, and I do love apple bratwursts something fierce, but the older I get the more irritated I am by the whole endeavor. It's hard to enjoy Bayfield when it's literally swarming with people--you can't walk down the streets, you have to shuffle from foot to foot while being pushed along in the current of bodies, hoping you aren't about to get rammed by a stroller from behind or trip over a dog leash in front of you. I've never been crushed in a religious stampede in India, but sometimes I wonder if the crowds at Apple Fest aren't just a tiptoe or two away from that same kind of mayhem.

Nonetheless: we survived another year. I didn't get my apple bratwurst--the line looked about forty-five minutes long and no food item that comes out of a street booth is worth a forty-five minute wait--but eh, when you live less than thirty minutes away, you can take comfort in knowing you can drive up there and try again after the tourists head south.

Ferry getting ready to roll out to Madeline Island.
Go go power (park) rangers...
Down by the lake.
"Free Samples."

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Round 1.

Round 1.

This week, our neighbors across the road got a McCain sign and rather than sticking it perpendicular to the road like most election signs, they aimed it straight at our driveway. Like maybe they're trying to make a point or something.

Round 1.

I can't describe how much amusement this has brought our entire family. Rest assured that the wheels of retaliation* have already begun turning...

Don't stop believin'.

*We like our neighbors and it's all in good fun. I promise.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Picture pages.

I've been a member of Flickr for a few years now, and I think the thing I like the most about it is seeing little vignettes from other people's lives all around the world, and realizing that despite our differences, we really aren't all that different at the core. Everybody's got a story to tell, and while we might all see things our own way, we're all trying our best to explain ourselves.

Here's a few of my favorite Flickr photostreams from people that I don't know (or, whom I've never met in person, at least) that open my eyes a little bit wider to the world each time I tiptoe in...

John McNab: A guy who lives in Minneapolis who draws great doodles, and who apparently spends a lot of time scouring online archives for inspiration. Funny and all-over-the-place.

: An acquaintance of mine (from an internet messageboard) who travels the world and takes fantastic pictures of things big & small on his way.

The Library of Congress: Old photographs from newswire photographers dating back...well, a long ways. It's a little East Coast-centric in spurts, but there's some great stuff from the 30s and 40s in color that spans a bit more geographic (and historical) territory.

Art Gardenfunckle: An irreverent guy with a beard takes funny pictures around Oklahoma City, and some pretty neat shots of bugs in his garden, too.

Rainbow Mermaid: This makes me want to dig out my old toys and bring them back to life. Oh--and my bottle of decoupage goop.

somewhat_maria: Another internet acquaintance of mine whose pictures make me want to hop a plane to Germany. RIGHT NOW. (I can't wait for the next snail season!)

GROGG: A guy in Ireland who captures the most amazing expressions on people's faces...maybe on my way to Germany to see the snails, I should make a pit stop.

Jayson Brinkler: Speaking of capturing great expressions: wow.

: Last but certainly not least--this is like cotton candy for your eyes, it's so sweet. Clever and eye-popping kitsch, and beautifully executed, too.