Monday, August 31, 2009

All he wants for his birthday is a plate full of hot dogs.

A few weeks ago, Toivo the Wonder Cat turned eight.

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Toivo.

It's hard to believe that our twenty-five pounds of love started out like this:

Toivo when he was about three months old.

Aw. So sweet. So innocent. And weighing in at about 1/25th of his current body mass.

We aren't exactly sure when he came yowling into the world, since he was a shelter kitten, but August of '01 sounds about right. I didn't meet Toivo until I came home for Christmas that December, but he'd already made himself quite comfortable around the house...

Get down from there!

He's not as agile as he used to be, but he can still put on a pretty good show. He plays fetch (really!), he fits snugly into medium-sized dog costumes, and he can still come up with new and innovative ways of getting us to feed him.

So Happy Birthday, Toivo. Sweet dreams.

Raise the roof.

It begins!

Up on the roof.

On Sunday, the rain went away, and lo, it was Rip-Shingles-Off-the-Garage Day. The first half is done--the side facing the ravine was stripped bare and readied for the new tin stuff (which started going on today). I had it easier than my brothers--they were up on the roof, scraping 20-something-year-old shingles off, while I was on the ground, picking up the debris and wheelbarrowing it into the dumpster. Not that wheeling that crap around was a walk in the park, especially given all the holes, rocks & stumps there are behind the garage, but since I'm the one without health insurance it seemed prudent to keep me close to the ground.

Working on the back side of the roof.
(My dad's buddy A.J., The Dennis, Dewey and Nick.)

Tomorrow, the scaffolding will shift to the front of the garage, and the cycle will continue...we're taking a very literal approach to Labor Day this year.

I talked to a guy who sounded just like this today.

(Except he wasn't talking about "naked chicks." Thank god.)

Police blotter.

Wednesday, 3:39 A.M.:
Officer came across tractor/trailer with a load of cars; driver had pulled too far off onto the shoulder and is about ready to tip over.

Wednesday, 10:17 A.M.: Caller from Iron River reports that his son isn't listening to him.

Wednesday, 12:26 P.M.: Caller would like to speak with an officer about an old man "flipping him off" twice.

Thursday, 7:42 P.M.: Caller would like an officer to respond because individual called her a "greasy fat pig" and threw her keys.

Friday, 5:58 P.M.: Report of kids mooning cars.

Saturday, 10:17 P.M.: Report of kids screaming all day long.

Tuesday, 11:22 P.M.: Caller wants to speak with an officer as her husband is being obnoxious and won't let her go to sleep.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rainy Saturday round-up.

We were supposed to start ripping shingles off the garage roof today, but alas, it rained. Quite a bit. So we're locked in a holding pattern until tomorrow...

Anyway, here's what I've kept busy with instead of manual labor:

1. These mesmerizingly weird Spam commercials.

2. Sh*t My Dad Says :
"Don't touch the bacon, it's not done yet. You let me handle the bacon, and I'll let you handle...what ever it is you do. I guess nothing."

3. I find this comforting: We Are All Hindus Now

4. My brother quotes this commercial all the time. And this remix may be even more mesmerizing than the Spam.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The stars at night are big & bright...

As of last week, I've officially been back in Wisconsin for four years. I'm having a very hard time wrapping my head around that, for some reason. It doesn't feel that long at my internal clock just off? Is my sense of time all bendy-wendy, or as you get older, do things just keep speeding up faster & faster like a merry-go-round gone berserk?

One random thing about Helena that I miss: the sky at night. Even though I lived right in the middle of town, the sky there got really dark at night. Not that there's much light pollution around here or anything like that (we are in the boondocks, after all), but being in a more humid climate (relatively-speaking) means more clouds. More haziness. Even on a clear night in the summer around here, there's usually a layer of fluff floating not too far off on the horizon. In Helena, most nights were clear nights.

When I was living in my first apartment (in my landlady's basement), when she & her kids would go out of town, sometimes I'd go out into the backyard at night, lie down on their trampoline and stare up at the sky for a while. I don't know if it was due to the elevation increase (Ashland: 671 feet; Helena: 4,058 feet), or just the town's position on the globe or something like that, but holy crap, could you see a lot of satellites whizzing around up there. The first time I did that--laid outside and really concentrated on the sky--I thought maybe my glasses were dirty and that's why I was seeing all kinds of specks floating around. But it wasn't my glasses--the specks moved in straight lines, and they blinked.

I miss seeing those.

In other Montana-related nostalgia news, this news item caught my eye the other day and it reminded me of this. Which made me a little bit less nostalgic for back when I lived in my landlady's basement...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This reminds me of something...

Let's just say I'm surrounded by grasshoppers right now, and maybe I need to ramp up my efforts to find a new anthill.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Police blotter.

Friday, 6:36 P.M.:
Caller states someone left a condom on his doorstep again.

Friday, 6:59 P.M.: Caller would like to speak with an officer about a "punk" who stole his cigarettes at the skate park.

Sunday, 5:24 P.M.: Caller reports her house smells like smoke and she found a suspicious box in her closet she's never seen before.

Monday, 11:05 A.M.: Caller states he found some raw hamburger wrapped in foil inside his mailbox.

Monday, 1:28 P.M.: Caller reports seeing two canoes fly off a vehicle on the highway and the driver apparently didn't notice, kept going.

Monday, 5:58 P.M.: Caller says someone was in his house and stole his blanket.

Tuesday, 10:15 A.M.: Caller got change from Wal-Mart yesterday and was given a $1 bill that is not real and has a bunny on it.

Tuesday, 6:08 P.M.: Caller would like to press charges against a telemarketer who keeps calling and swearing at him; he shared most of the swear words with dispatch.

What I did on my summer vacation.

Short answer: not as much as I'd hoped. I didn't get over to the U.P. (that trip fell through), or to the Concrete Park in Phillips (foiled again!), or out to Montana (turns out plane tickets would've cost more than my organs could've fetched on the black market). And I haven't been to Split Rock or the races yet, either...but there's still time to squeeze those in, I guess.

It's like this every summer. In May, when I look out over the calendar's expanse, I'm like a kid at the Old Country Buffet--I've got a smorgasbord of options, and my eyes are way bigger than my stomach. Sure, I can fit more mashed potatoes on my plate! Put a trip to Montana on there, too! Ooh, they have a soft serve machine? Get me a bowl of that, and sprinkle some Minneapolis on top. Hmm, if I shuffle things around, I can definitely fit more fried chicken on this tray, and I can probably shove some cookies and Chicago and Milwaukee and a road trip through the U.P. on there if I eat fast. Wait, is that cheesecake?? Oh, I shouldn't...but...

And then I barely make it through half of what's on my plate before I feel like I'm gonna puke.

I think it's like that for most people--whether you've got big goals for the summer months or not, it always goes by faster than you think it will. Like your stomach at an all-you-can-eat buffet, maximizing your summer fun time requires planning and diligence...but you'll probably just fill up on bread right away and go take a nap.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009



The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
Okay, I'll admit it: I started this last October...and have kept restarting it every month or two since then. The thing is, once I get going, I like it--it's dense but as long as I have it in my hands, it holds my attention. But once I set it down, something else always catches my eye and sigh, the cycle continues. This time, I've made a commitment to see it through to the end, if only so I can finally put it back in an honorable place on my bookshelf. It's been riding in the car for waaaay too long.

Olive Garden is the Perfect Place to Act Out Your Oedipal Fantasies
This commercial's been ooking me out for a while, and I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Paint My Album
Album covers recreated with Microsoft Paint. Some are surprisingly good. Most are predictably bad.


G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Any movie based on a line of action figures that opens with a scene set in 1781* France is bound to be hilarious, and on that front, G.I. Joe certainly did not disappoint. From the migraine-inducing camera work, the light-as-a-feather-stiff-as-a-board acting of the leads, the Darth Vader-esque presentation of Cobra Commander (damn it, we were really hoping he'd still sound like this!), and the presence of a Victoria's Secret underwear model, this one's got something for just about everyone (to laugh at). If you want to watch stuff go boom (and if you can turn off the part of your brain that notices things like Grand Canyon-sized plot holes and Wayans brothers), this is your movie.

Grey Gardens (2009)
I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about this, since I'm a big fan of the documentary from the 1970s and I wondered what they could possibly do to improve on that...but I came away really liking it. It fleshed out the Edies' backstories in a satisfying way without oversensationalizing matters, and Drew Barrymore's performance as Little Edie blew me away. I didn't know she had it in her.

Last Chance Harvey
There's not much to this, but I was won over by Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson's performances. It's a quiet movie that serves more as a character study than something propelled by plot, and while it's slight, I thought it was well-done.

Mad Men, Season Two
I had a marathon yesterday and made it through three out of the four discs in the set...I'm hoping to wrap it up before the next season premieres on Sunday, since this will be the first time I've had the chance to watch it week-to-week on AMC. This show is perfect on so many levels--everyone talks about the period details it nails, and rightly so, but what really holds it all together is the quality of the storytelling and the complexities of its characters. Nothing is ever quite what it seems.

Flight of the Conchords, Season Two
Last week, when I first ran through the second season, I found myself not warming up to it like I had with the first season. Then I watched parts of it again over the weekend, when my brother was around, and laughed my ass off. Maybe it's just one of those shows that's best viewed with other people?


Regina Spektor - Far
Josh Ritter - The Animal Years
The Rolling Stones - Forty Licks
The Divine Comedy - A Secret History...The Best Of


Embroidered stuff. I'm still learning, but I like how free-form it feels compared to crocheting and cross stitch. I've got some patterns to try, but right now, I'm just practicing on a dish towel, learning stitches and experimenting. And with the current heat wave we've got floating over us, it sure beats having a big pile of yarn on my lap.

*I probably have that year wrong, but it really doesn't matter.