Friday, September 22, 2006

More Fun With Latin!

Alert Reader JoMama has studied some Latin, and passes on the following information:

The proper way to render "I love Emo" into Latin would be "Ego amo Emo."

That is just so darn fun to say! Try it at home!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What Dreams May Come

Sometimes, I get to have the greatest dreams. It's a sign to me that I'm actually finishing the job of rest if I get to have really elaborate and interesting dreams. Recently, I've been staying up late and getting up early, and cutting out my REM sleep. So, today, I took a really good nap, and had the greatest dream in ages.

I was driving around a version of my neighborhood on a night much like the ones we've been having recently--wet and rainy. I live in an old area that is just stuffed full of old Victorian behemoth houses, built for families with 10 children and 20 live in servants. For many years, most of these houses were no longer fashionable, and were donated to charitable organizations or were carved up into rooming houses and tiny apartments. Over the last 20-30 years, however, many many of them have been reclaimed into single family homes (more or less--how do you classify live-in nanny quarters?)

In my dream, many of them were even bigger than in real life, and were being equipped with showy awnings and extremely dramatic lighting. And three of these dream houses were open as historic re-enactment sites, and I was touring them as they presented "Victorian New Year's Day Open Houses."

So, I walked in the front doorway and marvelled over the beautifully carved oak panelling and trim. To the right were the family's rooms, decorated with carved furniture, velvet upholstery, fine china table settings, elegant stained glass windows, the whole Victorian mise-en-scene. (Yes, I looked at each one of these things in my dream--these are very detailed dreams I have.)

To the left were the "working rooms," the butler's office, the kitchens, the servant's quarters, etc., all of which had much more plain furnishings and architectural detail. Since this was the site of re-enactment, there were also actual modern restrooms, as well as dressing rooms for the actors playing "The Family" and "The Servants." Some of the actors were changing shifts as I toured the house, so I found myself keeping track of where I had seen some of the people before--wasn't that the Cook from the kitchen that I was seeing up on the third floor?

Interestingly enough, not only was I dreaming about sights and sounds and actors and furnishing and all the other tourists going through the house with me, but I also was dreaming in textures. Up in the women servant's dormitory, there were a couple of single beds, and one large mattress on the floor for the youngest servants. When I lay down on it, I discovered that it was filled with dried corn kernels. I even picked up the corner of the mattress to feel the individual kernels, and I even could smell the slight popcorn scent of the kernels that had been warmed for the night.

Where did this all come from? There was an actor playing the "Father" who interacted with me as if I was one of his daughter's friends, and we talked about a party she and I were going to be attending later. There was a invalid "Grandmother" who had an enormous four-poster bed with a velvet quilt on it. I looked out one of the windows, to see another large house which had a long line of people in the front waiting to get in for the "open house." The houses backed up on something vaguely "municipal"--a large chain link fence and really bright lights, as if it were a water treatment facility or city pool or something that would never have been there when the area was fashionable, but could well have been placed their when the houses were run down and the property values had tanked.

There is just so damn much detail, and I don't know why I dream so extravagantly. On line dream analysis doesn't help much--some things represent "intellect" or "how you present yourself"--but when there is just so much stuff in my dreams, it's really hard to work out anything about what going on inside my head.

The one thing I am certain of--dreams about being in a bathroom usually mean I have to wake up and go pee. I have yet to find a "dream analysis" work that gets that literal.

Separated At Birth--the Johnny Depp Version

So, I've finally watched "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," and it's far better than I expected. I've never liked "The Candy Man" song from the Gene Wilder version, that movie was just sort of like saccarine Tab--sort of artificially sweet with a bad after-taste, and an inescapable '70s sort of cheesiness. I didn't really see the need for a new one, as the old one was still available for those who wanted it. Not that I thought anyone really did want it.

The kidlets were also soured on it--the Bunny loved the older version, and was staunchly against any tampering with it. (So, she's not got infallible taste--we still love her.) Pony had been punished with the "Willie Wonka Welcome Song" earworm--friends and acquaintances sang it, repeatedly, and it was soon inescapable. No one at Chez Evil wanted to see it.

But the times, they are a-changing. Pony is now in 7th grade orchestra, and they are playing selections from the soundtrack and was watching the movie in school. Bunny has mostly forgotten the Gene Wilder movie and has been playing the PS2 game version. I have seen several Johnny Depp films and find him an extremely interesting actor to watch. (Yeah, sure, he's also often veritably dreamy, which never hurts, but as Willie Wonka...not so much). So, I rented the DVD.

It was better than I expected, and much less "off" than I remembered the older one. Depp was about as far from Captain Jack Sparrow as he could be, I loved Deep Roy as the ubiquitous Oompa-Loompas, and the fantastic sets were so purely executed with joy and verve that I immediately understood why Tim Burton was drawn to the story--it was the kind of world by which Tim Burton movies often seem inspired.

So, being the geek that I am, I went to IMDB and read trivia and connections and comments and reviews---and came across Roger Ebert's review in which he compares Depp's Wonka to Michael Jackson. Which, I remembered, I had read when the movie first came out, and which added to my impression of creepiness and my desire to stay away in droves from the film.

But, actually watching the movie, it seems to me that Ebert missed the boat. Johnny Depp might have some superficial resemblance to Michael Jackson, but not so much that when I watched the movie I thought of the "King of Pop." Depp's Wonka has no interest in children, and would avoid them entirely if he could. He does not keep pets--unlike Michael Jackson's pet rat and monkey and other zoo animal pets, Wonka keeps squirrels only because they can remove walnuts whole from the shells. Wonka's animals have jobs and responsibilities and probably even hourly quotas and union breaks.

It's the voice, though, that I really couldn't place. Michael Jackson has a distinctive breathy voice, best captured in the line from the "Thriller" video: "I'm not like other guys." (No shit, Sherlock!) There is just such a little-boy-lost/Marilyn Monroe quality to his voice that is so inseparable from the creepiness that is Michael Jackson that to remove the voice is to remove the likeness.

And Johnny Depp does not speak in a breathless voice in "Wonka." He has a fairly flat affect, actually, and a little chirpiness, accentuated by the slightly higher pitch he adopts. It's got the immaturity of a boy's voice before it changes, which suggests the perpetual pre-adolescence Willy Wonka has built for himself.

But there was something else that I just couldn't place. Something about the cadence of his line reading, the way he refused to speak any of the children's names. He called them "little boy" and "little girl" as if those were, in fact, the children's names. He spoke in the royal third person with that odd nearly cheerful inflection that recalled....recalled...

Church Lady.

I would have gotten it much faster if one of the winners of the Golden Ticket had been ...


Good News, Bad News

Well, we got the survey results on our boat, and the insurance response.

The good news is that the insurance company will cover us--which is not a small thing, given the large number of insurance companies that will not cover a boat as old as ours, or first time boat owners.

The bad news is that there are a number of things that have to be addressed before we can go boating, and it's just hard to wait until next spring! Sure, a lot of them are easy, like replace the 20 year old flares, and put stickers that say "Fuel" and "Oil" on the proper fillers and tanks.

Some of them are bigger deals, and a few are very big deals and not to be done except by professionals. On the other hand, I do have some questions. One of the directives is that we are to "service stiff seacocks."

Can you hire a professional to do that, and is it even legal?

The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name

So, the dog remains a really good dog--he's really a nice little boy. But, he remains a boy.

I've only had one other male dog in my lifetime, and he never had this--once he was neutered, he was neutered, if you know what I mean. The old boy never had an erection in his entire life. Not so for Bermondsey.

I came out of the laundry room tonight to see the dog standing guiltily in the hallway outside the Bunny's room. His head was hanging down and he was looking at me from under his bangs in a way that said "okay, so I pottied where I wasn't supposed to, and I'm really sorry, but I'm just a dog and so, if I'm really cute will you not be angry at me?" At least, that's what I thought, but there was no telltale puddle on the floor, or pile anywhere.

And on second glance, he was standing with his back hunched over, so I thought maybe he tried to poop and it got caught in the long hair on his backside. His tail was hanging down, not jauntily curled over his back as usual. But that wasn't it either.

But, oh my god, he had an erection nearly the length of his entire body! And he looked really embarassed about it!

Now, we've long suspected he was having intimate relationships with various stuffed animals that belong to the girlies. Barney is often discovered lying abandoned in the dining room, a fair distance from the upstairs bedrooms. And Mr. Bun-bun has tan fur very similar to Bermondsey's, and is roughly the same size. I have frequently mistaken him for the dog, especially as he is frequently found under the parlor chairs.

Tonight, these "companions" were still downstairs. There was, however, a suspicious wet patch on the quilt on one of the beds.

It's like the coda to the Gene Wilder sequence in "Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex*"--after ruining his life and career after being found having unnatural relations with sheep, Gene Wilder ends the movie lying on streetcorners, swilling Woolite.

Bermondsey spend part of the rest of the evening hiding in the closet. Who knew dogs were capable of Freudian acts?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Now With More Pirate-y Goodness!

Yesterday was International Talk Like A Pirate Day, and in it's honor, as well as in honor of our new status as boater, we have a nearly full compliment of piratical names.

First Mate Keel-Haul Kate Bonny--that's me.

Second Mate Half-Tooth McBeady--that's the Pony

Boatswain Monkey Smythe--the Bunny

Cabin Boy Brody Swiftknife--that's the dog

Only Mr. Sweetie has not yet had a sufficiently terror-inspiring name bestowed upon him. Suggestions are welcome.

No, "Michael Eisner" will not be accepted. Even if he is still very scary.

Fun With Latin!

Another in our occasional series of "Fun With..."

I tried to take Latin in high school (yes, and I am STILL a geek), but not enough students signed up so it got cancelled. Thus, my only Latin is the Stuff One Picks Up. A legal education is probably a small help in that, but even so, my law school diploma is written in Latin, and I can't read it.


We've all heard "Veni, Vidi, Visa:" the riff on Caesar's declaration "veni, vidi, vici." "I came, I saw, I conquered" becomes "I came, I saw, I shopped."

The Pony came home the other day with "Veni, Vidi, Velcro:" "I came, I saw, I stuck around."

Incidentally, a friend of mine took some elementary Latin, and discovered to her horror that the "v" sound in Latin is pronounced as "w." She insisted, and I agree, that a macho dude like Julius Caesar would never have said "weenie, weedy." Just not good form, eh what? Not at all swank OR topping good form.

So, The Bunny's nickname at school is "Emo", pronounced like the police abbreviation "M.O." which has it's own irony. ANYWAY. Something about the Bunny encourages playing with her name, so occasionally we call her "Emo, Emat, Emas" which if I recall my crossword puzzle Latin accurately, would loosely translate as "I love Emo, you love Emo, s/he loves Emo."


Monday, September 18, 2006

More Bumper Sticker Favorites

From actual bumpers!

You can't have my rights.
I'm still using them.

George W. Bush: You give him an inch
and he thinks he's a ruler.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Why We Wait

So, you are asking (I know you are! You're thoughtful like that!)--why wait for insurance? Why not just put her in the water, maybe take her for a little spin?

I know, you say, that there was all that legal training you had for all those years, litigating for insurance companies--don't you think maybe that view of the world is a little skewed? After all, you saw what went wrong, but how often did you see what went right?

See--you are nice like that. You want us to enjoy our new toy right away, don't you? I bet you always buy fresh batteries for Christmas Day, so no one has to wait to play with those cool toys that always come "Batteries Not Included."

I was thinking that myself--can you believe it! I was actually thinking--well, what could happen?

Then I drove into the marina to meet the truck. This is what greeted me by the entrance.

This is not so good, is it? I think we'll wait.

Here She Is!

Well, contrary to all expectations, the Lady Cliff arrived on Friday.

I know! I don't believe it either! But it's true.

It was actually surreal--she arrived on the truck, looking just exactly as I remembered her.

Apparently, customs was no trouble at all--all my worrying was unnecessary. Our hauler, David, had a couple of worrisome moments, neither of which was customs. We'll hear those stories later.

Anyway, so Lady Cliff was sitting on the truck, and there were papers inside that I wanted to get--some records of restoration work for the survey that should happen on Monday, so I asked. Can I get those papers now or would it be better to wait until she's up on blocks.

Bless his heart, David didn't exactly laugh at me. Exactly. He did sort of smother a smirk and gave a little kind of snort. Yes, she just traveled a thousand miles on a truck, OF COURSE it's safe to get up on her. It's not like she's going to tip or anything.

So, with the aid of a ladder, I climbed up into her. Wow. We had a boat.

The travel lift wasn't available right away, so it wasn't until about 2:30 that she came off the truck. David moved the truck and the travel lift came over. Straps were run under her hull, and with a gentle lift, she came off the truck.

Hey Mom ! Look--no truck!

So, now she's up on blocks, waiting for a survey and then insurance coverage before we put her in the water. It's kind of hard to wait, but we did get to all go have dinner on her last night. It was wonderful. Mr. Sweetie found Frank Sinatra on the radio, and with the warm lights in the saloon, we had sandwiches and drinks and chips and...a lovely time was had by all.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Das Boot

The boat was successfully loaded onto a trailer in Toronto on Tuesday, and the driver pulled out on Wednesday. His goal was to hit Sault Ste. Marie last night, which means he'd have crossed the border into the US by now.

I am, of course, worried that the Customs documents I did were not up to snuff, and everybody is locked up in a Customs detention cell in upper Michigan.

Assuming everything is all right, however, the boat is scheduled to get here Friday around noon. At which point it is going up onto blocks so it can be surveyed for insurance. Maybe MAYBE we can get that done by next Monday and get coverage locked in by the weekend.

Let's take another look at this bonny lady, so we can remember why we're putting ourselves through all this?

Time for a little redecoration

Don't you just love the smell of fresh paint? Freshly sawn wood? Take a deep breath--can you smell it around here? How about up there, to the right? New photo! Aren't I gorgeous?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Fashion Forward

Went with the kidlets to the Science Museum yesterday, and got to do some people watching.

Do you know what is truly delightful? Little girls, allowed to wear whatever they want. There was one girl, probably about nine or ten, wearing jeans and a shirt--pretty non-descript. But she had all her pretty long blonde hair piled up on the back of her head, with a pair of decorative chopsticks perched on top. She also had someone's (probably her mother's) pale green pashmina shawl which she wrapped around herself like a cocoon, and then opened wide like wings.

Another littler girl, probably about six, walked by wearing a red velvet dress, with red tights and black velvet shoes. The shoes had flowers appliqued on them. She looked like she'd just come from Christmas church service--not at all like she had come to do science.

Then I saw her sister. Another probably ten year old. She was tall and thin, and the first thing I noticed were her shoes. They were strappy sandals--silver. Sparkling silver too. Which she wore with black and silver sparkling tights, and a leopard-skin sheath.

What was especially endearing is that the family members these girls were with didn't seem to have come from any special event at all. Mom and Dad had on non-descript blue jean-type parent clothes. It looked like these girls had been allowed to pick out what they most wanted to wear, which was (obviously!) the prettiest and fanciest things in their closet.

And why not? The way kids that age grow, there is every likelihood that the red velvet dress won't even fit by Christmas. If they don't wear them now, they might never be able to.

Fall Colors

It has turned cloudy and cold these last few days, and it truly feels like autumn. The kids are back in school, the nights are cool. Last week was warm and sunny, but a couple of days of this weather, and I've gotten the velvet comforter back onto the bed. My closet is full of bright colors that look garish and inappropriate, and I am longing for good thick socks and warm sweatshirts.

Last night, I took a book into the parlor, and turned on lights and started up the fireplace. It was perfect.

Organizational Dynamics

I was standing at Kinko's the other day, waiting for the fax machine to spit out my invoice, and I passed the time perusing the books they had for sale. I wasn't conveniently close enough to the fiction, or this post might have been very different.

Instead, I was by the "self-help/business-help" rack. Did you know that Highly Efficient People now have eight habits? I guess they weren't efficient enough to include that one in the earlier book. You can learn how to work for a jerk, give one thousand great answers to tough interview questions, and find new clients. Up in the top corner, however, was a title I thought I'd look at: "One Thing at a Time: 100 Simple Ways to Live Clutter-Free Every Day." Not a clutter free title at all, but still. The fax machine was taking its time, so I looked at it.

You may be more disciplined, but I never look at the first pages of a book that I pick up. Not for me, reading instructions on how to apply the wisdom of the book! Why would I even want to find out if the author has any qualifications to write this book? No, I leap in, and open at random.

And I got "Go to bed half an hour earlier." Which is totally my thing, right! I am a True Believer in the Power of Sleep, so I read on. Basically, she says, most organizing books tell you to get up half an hour earlier and accomplish a bunch of stuff before the rest of the day crowds in. Which is fine, the author says, but you need your sleep! If you are going to get up half an hour earlier, then go to bed half an hour earlier too, or you'll just deplete your own resources.

Now, that I liked. Starting with self care, and then tackling the world! So, I bought it, with the intention of reading it, highlighter in hand, to get some ideas about how to live with four busy people in a tiny house.

And, I've started reading it, but as I got a few chapters in, I realized that my mother, JoMama, had given me a book called "Organizing for the Creative Person" which I still hadn't finished. Already, this wasn't going well--I was cluttering up my space with books on reducing clutter. So, Good Intention #2--reading BOTH organization books.

Because I have taken an interesting tack on clearing clutter in our lives. Basically, I have removed all storage from the house. This works in an interesting way. First, if you eliminate all your horizontal surfaces, there is no place to put stuff, thus less clutter. Sort of. Plus, with no shelves for tchotkes and trinkets, you eliminate items that collect dust. Not bad.

But--what happens to the stuff that used to be in the shelves and on the flat surfaces, you ask? Well you might inquire! It all ends up in the basement. All of it. Not organized at all. So, when you need something, you can go spelunking through your accumulated possessions, or you can just buy another one so you have it when you need it, which is NOW.

I'm thinking that this wasn't such a good strategy. So--I've got to rethink this organization thing. Good thing I've got some books to help me--if I can find them...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What Letter Comes After Q In The Alphabet?

Aaaarrrrr! Of course.

We are going nautical. Mr. Sweetie has realized a lifelong dream, and bought a boat. Not just any boat, but a 1948 wooden cabin cruiser. She is a beauty--even I've fallen in love and I've never had any form of boat lust whatsoever.

This was what the one day trip to Toronto was about, and it was VERY satisfactory. Now it's just about trying to get the thing into the country. Who knew it would be so tricky?

But, the important part here we need pirate names. At least, The Pony thinks so. So, because you can in fact find anything on the internet, I have found at least a half dozen Pirate Name Generators.

From now on, ye landlubbers, I be Keel-Haul Kate Bonny. That's FIRST MATE Keel-Haul Kate to you!

More Ways To While Away The Hours

God, I love the internet. You can truly find anything. Check out this official seal generator!

Mine rocks.

Jerusalem--With All Due Respect

Being trendy and hip urbanites, Mr. Sweetie and I live inside the city. Actually within the city limits of Our Capital City. Because we are sooooo hip.

Actually, because this is Saint Paul, where nothing changes, we live in the suburbs of 1895--still well within current city limits, but having all the gritty urban vibe of your basic two story brick elementary school, with the swing sets and yellow school buses of your youth--which also happens to be right out our back yard.

Being urbanites, and thus the type of people who park in the street--we have parked in the street for the fifteen years* we have owned this place. And also because we haven't had a decent garage to park in. Sure, the house came with a two car garage, but we took care of that, and promptly filled it with re-useable renovation debris. "Re-useable" as in "I'll bet I could do something with that someday, if I ever got [insert unrealistic estimate of time, interest and equipment here]."

*Clearly, this must be an error. Fifteen years! I'm not old enough to have done ANYTHING for fifteen years, am I?

Then, the Nice People From The City noticed our garage. It really wasn't so bad--not much to look at, but we were just waiting for a huge branch from the towering maple trees beside it to crush it to the ground. Sadly, as attractive of a reconstruction plan as that was, it failed to execute on a timely basis. Then, the Nice Guys down the block who had a worse looking garage replaced theirs. And ours got scheduled for demolition.

Mr. Sweetie, Our Super Nice Next Door Neighbor, and I spent a weekend with crowbars, sledge hammers and intermittent assistance from the kidlets, and at the end of it all we had an impressive collection of debris packed scientifically into a dumpster and a naked view into the street behind us.

Thus, all last winter, as I scraped with snow, the sleet, the frost, the frozen rain off my car, I kept thinking "I won't have to do this next Jerusalem."

Really, I am sorry my brain works like this. I can't help it. Every time I thought about next year, the words "in Jerusalem" would float unbidden into my brain. Of course, I think it's a respectful homage to my friends who liked to teach me Hebrew words, and then laughed their asses off at hearing a blonde shiksa trying to pronounce words like "L'chaim." But, just in case they feel differently, I offer a blanket apology, and swear that I mean it with all due respect.

ANYWAY--so now, we have a garage!

Most of a garage anyway. I got up one morning, and suddenly there were about a dozen men in my back yard with a cement truck, and at the end of a hour and a half, they were gone, leaving behind a beautiful cement pad and one last guy to lay the stone edging for the framing to rest on. It was amazing! They came, they poured, they levelled and then left! I have watched Mr. Sweetie do cement work around our house, and when you don't have a big mixer truck, it takes a LOT of WORK. Maybe we should get one for Mr. Sweetie's next birthday.

Then, I got a call from the garage guys, who said "We'll deliver some lumber to your house on Monday, and we will probably even get a carpenter out there sometime on Monday as well." I saw the first load of lumber--pre-built triangles for the roof. About two hours later, there were three walls standing, all framed in. Before the end of the week, we had the garage built, sheathed in plywood, the acess door and windows all installed--and all evidence of construction materials cleared away.

Then the roofers came. I have no idea how many of them there were, but they were like ants--climbing up onto the roof, roped together: one man on each end of a rope, which was laid across the peak of the roof. Men were carrying shingles in from a truck, men were hoisting shingles to the roof, men were laying shingles, and still other men were running across the shingles power hammering nails into place. Then, they were gone.

So now, we have a ginormous garage in our back yard. The garage itself isn't so big, really, but given the size of our Hip Urban Lot, it looks like a second house backed up to ours. We are still awaiting siding, wiring, and the overhead door, which will doubtless arrive and all be installed while I'm not looking. It's got several windows, so the side that faces the house looks more charming than its predecessor, storage above the parking space, and extra storage next to the cars. The neighbors already want to move in.

It's A Coincidence I Tell You!

It is only a coincidence that--not having blogged for nearly a month now, there is a tiny spider building a swing bridge across my monitor screen at this EXACT moment!