Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Obviously, we ditched the Bears widget. Just as I suspected, it was too much. Last night Lori stuck the Bushisms widget up, but I don't like it at the top of the page. And since I'm a special-needs baby, I'd like it altered to fit my special needs. I'll keep thinking about it. t least for a while, until I forget that I ever had widgets in the first place.

Jessie, thanks for noticing the "Terrorist Threat Alert" is gone, but I either need new colors, or a month to forget the old one.

So the blog toys are a work in progress lately. Add it to everything else around here.

And speaking of, Traci and her girlfriend are going to Chicago this weekend and invited us to go. We briefly considered it, and then decided we'd rather stay home and cut shit up with a chain saw. I've suspected that we're getting weirder and weirder, but I think this has confirmed it. We went to Memphis on my last weekend off, and this time I want to hang around the house and putter in the yard. I think I'm as excited by that prospect as I was by the idea of going away for the weekend.

Yep. Weird.

So the upshot is that I'm on my second cup of coffee, but I still don't have anything interesting to say today. My computer is funky and I'm on Lori's now, but it doesn't inspire me. I need to have my feet on my desk, basking in the glow of my neon beer light to release the barrage of useless crap I usually blog about.

In the meantime, though, until the computer gets better...I'm working on a widget.

Robin...thanks for the book list. I'd forgotten about Lonesome Dove. And yes, I think it might have been fun to live in that time too, as long as I could still be gay. I'm not much interested in living the girl part of the 19th century.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Special Guest Blogger: Robin's Book Meme Comes Calling

Okay - here goes:

Number of books - less than Ev and Kwach - I tend to let them travel to other homes, and they don't always come back. I'd say I have probably hundreds, with hundreds more wandering around somewhere, hopefully being read and enjoyed.

Top five books of all time: Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurty. I read it once a year - it's tradition. And I always wish I could have lived during that time period.

Gone to Soldiers, by Marge Piercy - WWII, but not told in the usual fashion - lots of peeks into the French Resistance, as well as women who flew planes, worked in the factories, etc. Wonderful book!

The Omnivore's Dilemma, A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan. Again, sort of an historical look at our world, except in a strange way - and I am able to bore my children and helpless shopkeepers with all the useless information contained in this book.

My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighhead George - boy runs off to the wilderness, tames a peregrin falcon, and lives in a tree - how cool is that!

Rowing to Latitude, Journey's Along the Arctic's Edge, by Jill Fredston - gives me hope that someday I may be able to do something like what they do - plus, they make the far north seem like a wonderful place to be.

Five books this year: Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen, circus post depression - cool book.

The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger - takes place in Chicago about the time I lived there - good references to music, concerts, very interesting concept.

This Cold Heaven, Seven Seasons in Greenland, by Gretel Ehrlich. She is a magical writer, who makes Greenland seem like a place I want to be for at least a year.

Arctic Dreams, Barry Lopez - incredible book about the Arctic

Field Notes from a Catastrophe, Man, Nature and Climate Change, by Elizabeth Kolbert - NOT a feel-good book, but very interesting and good.

I would have added books by Isabel Allende, but Ev did that already. I also would have added "The Risk Pool" by Richard Russo, or many things by John Irving, but I couldn't fit them into either catagory. I guess I'm throwing them out for whatever they're worth. Oh yeah, and "The Fifth Sacred Thing" would be book six.

Thanks for starting this thread - now maybe when I wander the aisles of bookstore and/or library, I'll have more in mind than "just something good!"


PS - hope you're feeling better.

What Next? Kangaroos?

We're us to a barely-manageable quantity of cats; four inside cats and one outside. Once you get to the point where you can't glance around the room without your eyes coming to rest on a cat or two, you know you're about full up. But that's okay, mostly. Our inside cats are pretty well-mannered, and our outside cat, Mrs. Underfoot, mostly sits on the porch and dozes.

But last night the dog started growling at the outside cat's eating spot on the porch. I went to the window and looked out and there was a possum standing in the dish, vacuuming up kibble as fast as his pointy little snout could zoom over it. Mrs. Underfoot sat about three feet away, apparently unconcerned. She knows there's always more.

I believe this officially qualifies us for Wild Fuckin' Kingdom status. Well, maybe add a couple of Ursula's parent's yard deer, but that for sure ought to cover it.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Da Bears

You know how it is with blogs? You tinker with them endlessly...put a widget on, take it off...

I added a Chicago Bears widget this morning. I'm not sure I'm going to like seems a little invasive. Sort of like a grand piano in your bathroom. It's nice to have, but it seems a little too much for the location. So for today the widget is there. Tomorrow? Who knows.

It makes me nostalgic. I used to be a huge Bears fan. Not so much anymore, but I'd like to be one again. I miss getting that whipped up about something that matters not one whit in my life. But part of the problem is that I'd have to allocate an entire Sunday afternoon to sitting in front of the TV, and that seems like an awfully big commitment.

Rob and I used to be rabid Bears fans when we were young. So much so, in fact, that when we miraculously found ourselves with tickets to the Bears-Giants playoff game during the Greatest Football Season of My Lifetime, we were willing to sacrifice pretty much anything to go.

During the Hallelujah 1985 Bears Championship season, we ate, drank, and slept Bears. 15-1 (fucking Dolphins!), Walter Payton, Refrigerator Perry...what's not to love?

Also during the 1985 season, I happened to be pregnant with my first child, who would eventually become Carrie. I believe the due date for said baby was around January 10. I admit to being a little concerned that the birth of the baby was going to interfere with watching the Bears playoff games, but I was still young enough to avoid saying it out loud, which was probably would have been a bad early indicator of what kind of parent I was going to be.

Right around the due date two things happened. One was that a pair of tickets for the NFC Championship game fell into our laps from heaven...or from Matthew, who probably just got the only reference ever linking him with divinity he'll ever see in his life.

The other thing is that Carrie's due date came and went, with nary a peep nor a contraction to indicate she was ready to egress the womb and face the world.

The closer we got to game day, the more we dithered about it. Should we go? Could we go? The forecast was for temperatures around 20 degrees that day, which in Soldier Field equals approximately -270 degrees, or absolute zero, the temperature at which molecules stop moving. Soldier Field is the coldest place on earth. Even when it's reasonably warm in the rest of the city, Soldier Field is like it's own little mini-Arctic, helping protect Chicago from global warming.

Finally, the day before the game, we had to decide. It was now one week past my due date. Was it worth the risk of going into labor in the stands of Soldier Field? How much would it be an inconvenience to lie down in the aisle, bare-ass naked, and deliver a baby during the Jesse White Tumblers part of the halftime show? Would we still be able to stay for the second half? Hadn't women been giving birth in the fields since the dawn of time? Would this be so different from that??

And as an added incentive, maybe if she was born in the stands the Bears would befriend the little tot and give her Bears Championship paraphernalia. And if we named her "Walter" or "Refrigerator" I'll bet the Bears loot would pour in. Probably a Bears throw rug and a Chicago Bears receiving blanket maybe, or a Chicago Bears pacifier. Or maybe Walter Payton would autograph her forehead or something.

The downside, of course, was that we ran the risk of having our firstborn delivered by half-naked drunks with torsos painted either blue or orange, wearing 4 foot wide inflatable Bears helmet and breathing their boozy breath into her impressionable little face.

That didn't seem like an auspicious start to any young life. And anyway, that's what uncles are for.

Eventually, good sense prevailed and we stayed home and watched the game on TV. Rob asked me several times during the game if maybe the baby was coming yet, in the hopes of validating our decision to pass up the opportunity of a lifetime. No such wasn't until more than a week later that she finally showed up, two weeks past her due date. I'd like to say that in the intervening 22 years I've forgiven her for ruining the only chance I would ever have to see the only Championship Bears team ever in my lifetime...

I'd like to say that. But instead I'll put hand to forehead and say that a mother's life is all about making sacrifices for our children...

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Latest Installment of The Story of My Brain.

I went to the neurologist yesterday because I've had a headache since Sunday. That's not too weird for me. Ever since I got hit in the head I have headaches. The part that was weird or me was that I went to bed on Sunday with a headache and I woke up Monday insane. Not quirky/odd/artistic, cut-off-your-ear-for-love insane, but the kind of insane where the curtains are scary, and the movement of leaves and cars makes me cry, and Julie's hair music makes suicide seem like a reasonable prospect.

Actually, Julie's hair music ALWAYS makes me consider killing myself (or her), but really? The curtains? So Lori took the day off and we went to the neurologist. And after our day with the doctor, we've decided that the neurologist needs to go see his neurologist.

He told me that the symptoms were bad, and sent me to the ER to have my cat scanned and my lab tested, and receive excellent headache drugs. When we went back to talk about the crazy part he said things like "seizures have a genetic component" and "some people have one seizure a year, while others have one a week. We don't know why."

And I said, "But I was sane on Sunday. I woke up crazy on Monday. I'm pretty sure my illness didn't progress that much during the 8 hours I was asleep Sunday night."

And Lori said, "There IS no genetic component. Remember? She was hit on the head with a softball? Unless her parents were also hit on the head with softballs, this is not a family problem."

So later when we had supper with Carrie at her excellent restaurant Melange (insert shameless product endorsement here), we tried to retrace the timeline of the Hit On The Head With A Softball Story...and here it is:

In the summer of 1998, when Carrie was in 7th grade, I coached her Pixie League softball team...Like I did every summer. And like every summer...we sucked. I had too many players in Keds and anklets who couldn't throw 20 feet and batted with their eyes closed. The only exceptions were Carrie, Katie (not my Baby Katie...another Katie), Julie, and Megan. They were all excellent ballplayers, but not excellent enough to carry the dead weight of all the Anklet Girls...and so we sucked pretty much every year.

So this particular summer weekend, we had an all-day tournament at the city park. My girls warmed up, the outfielders threw the ball back and forth in the outfield, and infielders threw around the horn. The umpire called "Balls in!" which, besides being a signal for the boys teams to get their cup out of the pockets and encase the family jewels, also is a signal that all the balls being thrown around the field should be rolled to home plate and collected by the coach (that would be me) in a big bucket.

So I was standing at home plate, waiting to fill my bucket and speculating about how many kids on the other team might hit home runs on us...and then it was a week later.

But for the rest of the world, that week looked like this:

Megan had a brain fart and fired the ball home from third base instead of rolling it. It hit my left temple and shattered my skull, and I went down like a $5 whore out behind the Come On Inn lounge.

Being the valiant mother I am, I courageously staggered to my feet, and collapsed back into the dirt several more times...rise, lather, rinse, repeat...until I managed to get to the dugout, where I apparently declined the offer of a ride to the hospital from the paramedics (It's just a flesh wound!), and instead chose to remain semiconscious in the dugout all day.

Later, I actually DID go to the ER. I was uninsured at the time and dragged my feet all day, but eventually realized I had to spring for a professional look-see. The ER doc diagnosed my skull fracture and sent me home with drugs and someone to wake me up every hour through the night.

I lived. I had rip-roaring headaches, the kind where aliens pop out of my temples and my vision went to hell almost instantly, but otherwise...not so bad.

A year later, I started getting lost. In my own neighborhood. On my street. In my house. And then on Christmas Eve I had the first festive holiday seizure. The good kind, with the grunting and the flailing and the urinating. I finally saw a neurologist, who determined that I had a left temporal lobe lesion with accompanying epilepsy. It was the beginning of my new identity as NeuroGirl.

And now, a decade later, I'm the Evie you all know and love. The one that can't remember what Lori looks like if I lose her in a crowd...Although the process of finding her is amusing. "African-American woman? Not her. Young Caucasian man? Not her. Little child? Not her. Ah! Small middle-aged blond wearing my shirt? THAT'S her!"

I've become a person that sometimes gets disoriented and cries at unfamiliar curtains and sees nonexistent people roaming the yard. A person that does everything in the exactly the same way at exactly the same time every day in order to maximize the likelihood that I'll actually remember to, say...go to work.

The story I hear is that this is pretty much who I am from now on. It's okay. We've mostly found all the work-arounds I need to be happy and the drugs keep the most embarrassing parts under control. Temporal lobe epilepsy is fairly common...I feel better knowing that even if I'm nuts, there are a lot of other people crying at their curtains.

Not long ago Megan and her Mighty Arm of Doom were at my hospital, giving birth to a new generation of brain-destroying little Megan-ettes. Irish suggested that I zip up to the nursery and slap that child upside the head, which made me laugh. But I wonder sometimes if Megan has any idea how much her momentary lapse in concentration has changed my life.

Now I spend a lot more time bonding with health care professionals than I'd like to, largely because Lori is absolutely conviced that with our luck, one of us will drop over dead now that we're in the best relationship of our lives. And although that would be good for picking up chicks later (is there anything more tragic that a grieving lesbian widow?), it would suck when we're old and want to spend our lives with someone who knows us and loves us anyway.

So...we treat the epilepsy. And then we blog about it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Book Meme

This is all so sudden and unexpected. I've never been memed before. I was unprepared! I don't have a thing to wear! We love CUSS, and we're terribly flattered to be tagged ...

Total number of books owned:

As Ev said, it's into the thousands. I should know, because I'm the one who packs the boxes when we move. The box count when we moved from Arizona was somewhere around 100 and we've bought a ton of new ones since then. We categorize our bookshelves by hard-bound, paperback, read it and haven't read it yet ... then we subdivide those into categories like reference, politics, lesbiana, biographies, mysteries, general fiction, hobbies and crafts, classics, antique books, sociology, comparative religions, humor ... etc. My books tend to be non-fiction and Ev's tend to be novels.

Last book bought:

"A Thousand Splendid Suns" - Khaled Hosseini. I bought this one two days ago because we both loved The Kite Runner and we've heard glowing reviews of this one.

Five Books that Mean a Lot to You:

1. "Through the Looking Glass - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" - probably the first book that completely belonged to me, and I still love it.

2. "Red Ranger Came Calling" - Berkeley Breathed. Absolutely, hands down, the best Christmas book ever written, with the best illustrations ever drawn. I have to read it every year, and it should really be read aloud to be truly appreciated ... if you can read the last page without choking up. If I had a million dollars, I'd buy a copy of this book for everyone I know.

3. "When God Was a Woman" - Merlin Stone. Prior to this book I was a struggling heterosexual and a backslid Christian. Now I'm a cynical agnostic and a happy, devout lesbian. I'd say it was an influential read.

4. A three book set containing "Soul Mates," "The Care of the Soul," and "The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life" - Thomas Moore. Three books I go back to over and over again and recommend frequently to other people. Moore is former Jesuit priest who writes about theology, spirituality, mythology, religion, the human soul and all of its relationships. Sounds a whole lot drier than it is.

5. "Winnie The Pooh" - A. A. Milne. There's nothing I don't love about this book. My favorite chapter is the one In Which Eeyore Loses A Tail and Pooh Finds One.

Best Five Books You Read in the Last Year:

1. "The Kite Runner" - Khaled Hosseini

2. "Pope Joan" - Donna Woolfolk Cross

3. "Dry" - Augusten Burroughs

4. "Running With Scissors" - Augusten Burroughs

5. "Schindler's List" - Thomas Keneally

I tag my pal, Cedarflame.


Meming, the Verb

I've been sleeping a lot lately (don't ask), so I've fallen behind in my blog reading responsibilities as well as my blog writing responsibilities. However this, posted on CUSS inspired me:

The Book Meme
My beloved blog-friend Suebob tagged me for a meme on books. Hopefully, I will not be too boring.

Total number of books owned:
It's hard to tell. Between Husband and I, we have two overflowing bookcases. Books are also in piles on the floor and stacks on nightstands. Sometimes I think a book volcano erupted in my apartment and buried a small city. I also have two very tall book cases in my old room in my parents' house that are overflowing.

Last book bought:
For my Sept. 9th book club meeting, I bought San Remo Drive by Leslie Epstein on Sept. 6th. Nothing like the last minute, and I had to go to two Barnes & Nobles to find it.

Last book read:
See above. It was a very strange book about Hollywood in the 1950s, HUAC, adolescence, and race and religion based on the author's life. I partly recommend it. Overall, I think I liked it, but it was also kind of fucked up. I think our next book is going to be This Book Will Save Your Life by AM Homes. I'm pretty excited about it. Not that this relates to the question.

Five Books that Mean a Lot to You:
It by Stephen King - this book is a beautiful story about friendship, courage, and growing up when it is not scaring the fucking crap out of you, dear reader
Sport by Louise Fitzhugh - a hilarious tale about family and friendship that I often re-read when I am seeking solace from the world
Backlash by Susan Faludi - I read this when I was a sophomore in high school and it absolutely changed the way I looked at the world and re-affirmed my burgeoning feminist belief system
Take a Nap Harry by Mary Chalmers - a picture book my mom read to me that I loved because I hated naps and my mom read it in the greatest way (sadly it is out of print now)
Savage Inequalities by Jonathon Kozol - another book I read in high school that inspired me to take action to make the world a better place, I was devastated at how the US systemically cheats poor kids

Best Five Books You Read in the Last Year (I wish I can remember what the hell I read over the past 12 months, but I'll do my best):
Winner of the National Book Award by Jincy Willet
Sweet and Low by Rich Cohen
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
Strivers Row by Kevin Baker
Random Family by Adrienne Nicole LeBlanc (OK, I didn't actually read the book yet, but I've been meaning to do so for ages...)

I tag:Major Bedhead
Urban Pedestrian
Ev and Kwatch

Besides the fact that I've completely fucked up the formatting (sorry Suzanne), I, of course, have opinions, comments, and answers. That's what it means to be me.

Books, quantity.
Millions. Billions. Actually, I'm not sure. We have several floor to ceiling bookcases in our house, and 70 more boxes of books in the shed that I would like to put in the house, but I can't imagine where. So when I want a specific book, I go out to the shed and spend a couple of hours crawling around the mountains of boxes until I get distracted by something else and just sit there and read that. It's all good.

Books, 5 Favorites, in no particular order:
I hate you, Suzanne. I just want you to know that in advance. I'm trying to scroll through my head and pick out five, but it's hard and I blame you.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird. by Harper Lee
My all time favorite, bar none. I've read it almost every year since I was a teenager. It's my comfort book; the book I go back to when I'm sick or stressed to the end of my endurance.

2. The Family Tree by Sheri Tepper
Tepper writes sci-fi with a feminist slant. This was about when plants become sentient, and BOY are the pissed off. RoundUp, anyone?

3. The Fresco by Sheri Tepper
Aliens come to earth and they'll only communicate with a working-class book store employee who's in the process of divorcing her alcoholic husband. The Pentagon is outraged that the aliens can't figure out who's important and who isn't.

4. Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
I chose this one, but really they're all wonderful. She is the best ever at drawing you in. I'm always afraid to set them down before I finish because I'm so immersed in the characters, I'm afraid I'll talk like them. And 15th century Doña is not a good sound on me.

5. Mystery Novels by Everyone
I love 'em. Devour 'em like Combos. I hardly care who writes them (except a couple of writers who truly suck raw eggs. You know who you are, lousy writers.).

5 that I've Read This Year.

1. The Kite Runner
2. Running With Scissors.
3. Wicked & Son of a Witch
4.Saving Fish From Drowning
5. Stiff-The Curious Life of Human Cadavers

And now I've got to run or I'll be late for my neurology appointment. And that would be very bad.

However, I'll tag
Robin (you'll have to reply here, but I'll bump you up to Guest Blogger status),
Aunt B.,
Ursula's Mom

I'll provide the links later, but I have to get into the shower NOW and get to the doctor, before my brain falls out my ear.

Monday, September 17, 2007

God's Other Tragic Son

Graceland sort of flummoxed us. On one hand, it was a pretty house, not too much larger than a lot of two-story houses that our friends and relatives live in. It was somewhat gaudy and overblown inside, but some of that was due to young Elvis' new found money and the lure of indulging his fantasies of what wealth looked like.

The other part, the part that's not his fault, was that Graceland is frozen in time in the mid-1970s, a shameful period in decorating history. Don't blame Elvis for living in the time of lime green and fake fur.

The counterpoint to young Elvis' pretty house, well-tended outbuildings, and gently rolling grounds is the multi-million dollar museum and shopping complex located across the street. You can buy a ticket to view the car collection, the jumpsuit collection, the videotapes of his meeting with President Nixon, his personal jet, the Lisa Marie, and much, much more. And every museum had a gift shop attached to it where you could buy stuff specific to the exhibit, in addition to the general Elvis souvenirs that were for sale around every corner.

After we walked away from all that glitter and spangles and faux-fur, we decided that Graceland was a metaphor for Elvis himself. He was a talented, shy young man, devoted to his family, who's life became a commodity. He slowly grew to embrace excess over time, until he became a parody of himself. Lori called him "the original Elvis impersonator."

After his death, his pretty house became a museum and a tribute to Elvis. Over time though, it also became a money-making machine, dedicated to separating tourists from their money and perpetuating the Myth of Elvis. Make no mistake, Graceland is a pilgrimage for a lot of people. It's like Mecca or the Grotto at Lourdes...people go to get closer to his holiness.

Oh, and besides shopping for the Elvis bobble-heads, snow globes, coffee cups, pillows, and the infamous Elvis bowling can walk through Elvis' pretty house too. For a $30 fee.

Elvis is sort of a curious combination of youthful exuberance and celebrity-fueled paranoia. He seemed to lose control of his life early on in his career. He couldn't shop, he couldn't get on an airplane, and he couldn't walk the streets of Memphis without intensive fore-planning and a phalanx of guards and toadies, AND a call in advance to warn the managers that he was coming, and to clear the streets and shops of other visitors.

I can't imagine what he was expecting when he started to become successful, but I have to doubt that this was it. Even 30 years after his death, his life still isn't his own. It's all on display, to be assessed and measured and gawked at. It was oddly sad and poignant; this nice young man from Tupelo, Mississippi, turned into a cross between Mount Rushmore and the Ninja Turtles.

Graceland is a shrine to the Elvis persona, but not to Elvis himself. There's no mention of his decline...his drug habit, his emotional problems, or his unglamorous death on his toilet. As far as the official history of Elvis goes, his unparalleled greatness continued, untarnished and unabated, until his sudden and unanticipated death.

He was truly God's Other Tragic Son, according to the carefully honed folklore at Graceland. Who'd ever have thought that they'd look at his fame and wealth and talent and think, " Poor Guy."?

Snaps to Diane!

Diane, we owe you big! Our trip to Memphis was a huge success, enjoyment wise, and it's tone was set when we took your advice and went to STAX the minute we hit town on Saturday. We spent the rest of the weekend driving around singing along with our new "Best of STAX" CD and talking about it. Later, at the Lorraine Motel and walking on Beale, there was more texture because of STAX. Even after we'd left Graceland we were talking about STAX.

Standing in the studio where Aretha stood, listening to the session tapes of Booker T and the MG's, I closed my eyes and felt a little of what it must have been like there. The intimacy of the place and those people, the passion for the music and the miraculous alignment of events that created that phenomenon in that small neighborhood in that uneasy time ... we left there with a sense of all of that, and it change the way I'll hear that music from now on.

I'm sad that they won't let you take pictures inside the museum. We've got 70 pictures of Graceland and Elvis's jumpsuits, and not one single shot of Tina Turner's hot-damn beaded yellow mini-dress and spike heels or Isaac Hayes' gold and faux fur Cadillac -- and both of those will stay with me a lot longer than all of Elvis's stage costumes and gold records put together.

Ev will write more, I know, but I just wanted to send a huge thank you to Diane, because we'd never have known to do this if you hadn't told us about it, and it certainly doesn't leap out at you and pull you in like that megalopolis of shops and mini-museums and paid parking lots that overshadows and serves as the life-support system for Graceland. We'd have missed the real Memphis.


Saturday, September 15, 2007


Everyone have a great weekend ... we're goin' to Graceland!

Friday, September 14, 2007

I'm Itchin' Like a Bug on a Fuzzy Tree

Okay! We've decided on Memphis!

We hunted down the last remaining vacant hotel room in western Tennessee and felled it with one shot from the trusty 30-ought VISA card. Okay, I lied. It's really in Mississippi, 20 miles from our goal, but we were lucky to find it and hopefully that will be the hardest part of the vacationette. Who knew Memphis was such a hot spot in September?

I had to swallow my pride and sign up online for my Old Fart's Card to qualify for the AARP room rate. What the hell, now we can eat off the senior menu and enjoy the plethora of coveted Senior Citizen Discounts to be found out there in Old Fart Land. I should probably get a Golden Eagle Pass to all the National Parks while I'm at it. (You're a Senior Citizen at FIFTY??) You might be interested to know that AARP is a gay-friendly organization, so while I was at it I got Ev her very own "spouse or partner" discount card, too. Suitable for laminating!

We plan to see Beale Street and Graceland, because you have to if you're in Memphis. It's a law or something. Then we'll be off to The Hermitage and the Civil Rights Museum, housed in the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

We're excited! It's the perfect combination for a Kwach and Ev dream vacationette ... a three hour drive through pretty scenery, some interesting history, and cheesy tourist crap!

Expect photos.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tell Kwach and Ev where to Go!

Before we moved from Arizona to the Heartland, we discussed all the wonderful places to which we would now have easy access for day trips and vacationettes. From here, there a whole helluva lot of places that are within range of a Kwach and Ev day trip, even if there's no e-Bay truck at the end of the asphalt rainbow. We've been here for a year and a half now, and we've been all over central and southern Illinois, large chunks of Indiana, an ample sampling of Missouri and way too much Nebraska. It's time to branch out.

We've decided to take a mini-vacation this weekend, but we haven't decided where to go. We're waffling between Nashville (which Cory says is nice, and where many of the bloggers we read call home, so it must have more going for it than just the Country Music Hall of Fame) and Memphis (which Cory says is not nice, but it has Graceland and Beale Street and a plethora of faux Elvi to photograph ... and you know how we like a good photo op). Either of those are a three hour drive. If it were a long weekend I'd be voting for Biloxi and the annual seafood fest and gumbo cook off, but it would have to be some damn fine gumbo to drive 9 hours for.

So, what say you? If you were Kwachie and Ev and you had two days to burn, where would you go? Please feel free to include tourist-y tips and recommendations.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Coffee Snobs

We're total coffee snobs. Tucson encourages that sort of thing. It prides itself on things like a $5 cup of coffee and $80,000 SUVs that have never even driven by dirt, let alone gotten into it. But coffee is more like food or air than like an SUV. Without their Lexus SUV, Tucsonians would just drive their Mercedes. Without coffee, life would cease. Businesses would shut down, children would go uneducated, and famine and pestilence would descend on the city...all before 9 a.m.

When we lived in Tucson, we were surrounded by other coffee snobs, so we didn't feel like limp-wristed pantywaists. Or at least not any limper-wristed and pantier-waisted than anyone else. But here in the heartland, where specialty coffee has mostly stayed underground like opium dens and crack houses, coffee is By-God Coffee, and if you want special coffee, get Folgers instead of Yuban. And shut up about it, you sissy pantywaists.

We hunted around Southern Illinois for a dealer to supply our coffee fix, but there's no such thing. So now we order our special coffee-snob coffee from a company online called Coffee Bean Direct. They'll ship big sacks of it for discounted prices, and the shipping is free if you buy more than 25 lbs! And since we tend to wait 'til it's an emergency and we're buying those crap-ass 12 oz bags of Starbucks for $10 at Kroger, we try to stock up when we order. So here's a picture of our latest 25 pound order of coffee.

Oh...and with every trillion dollar order, they throw in a free mug. What's not to like about that?

C'mon...who's jealous? Don't lie...I can see you from here. Pantywaists.

I've tallied it up. All told, with the amount of money we spend on coffee each year, we could buy our own Space Shuttle and still have enough left over to outfit everyone in the county with an eBay pickup.

But boy, are we alert!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Let's Commemorate 9/11 By Putting The Flag Away

I posted this on the AOL boards earlier, but I don't have much confidence that it'll stay up long there. They're not big fans of dissenting opinions at AOL.

This is my opinion, take it for what it's worth:

I think almost everyone agrees that 9/11 was a horrific national tragedy. That said though, I hate all the jingoistic flag waving that gone on since. And particularly in light of our illegal invasion of Iraq to avenge their non-existant role in 9/11, I'm thinking this day would be much better spent in discussions about peace than in more muscle-flexing.

We've got the largest and most well-equipped army in the world and we can't control a bunch of insurgents fighting for their homeland against our occupying forces. This does not seem like an appropriate time to celebrate our might or our victimization.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could stop tying yellow ribbons, stop hanging flags on our cars, stop driving with our lights on (unless it's raining or dark) and actually work on the problems that cause the rest of the world to resent us enough to blow up our airliners? What if we stop propping up despots and dictators around the world? What if we let other countries have the self-determination we demand for ourselves?

Wouldn't that be a nice way to commemorate 9/11?


Monday, September 10, 2007

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Guilt

It didn't start with CSI: Miami, you know. It never starts that way. It starts with a gateway event and eventually leads to a full-blown addiction to grisly special effects, questionable science and supremely bad acting.

CSI: Miami is just the end result of a lifetime of exposure toTrue Crime stories and scenery gnawing TV actors like William Shatner and the current heir to his throne ... David "Horatio Caine" Caruso. Truly, like his namesake, the Caruso of his Craft.

So where were the tiny acorns of a habit like this planted, and how were they nurtured into the towering oak of guilty pleasure they became?

It's 1966 and I'm twelve years old. My parents are out for the evening, my sister is out on a date and I'm alone in the house. Way off at the far end of the house, down a long dark hallway, in my room, reading In Cold Blood while the house slowly grew increasingly dark outside of my room, and the kitchen (where we kept the phone) moved farther away with every page. About the time I came to the grisly photo section in the middle of the book, I realized that I had two choices. I could put the book down and face whatever evil and mayhem now lurked in the darkness of my house, or I could keep reading and try not to think about it. It was at that precise moment I developed my lifelong habit of reading books from cover to cover in one sitting. Especially ones that scare the jumping bejesus out of me. I'm almost certain that this habit has led to my ability to hold a prodigious amount of urine in my bladder, thereby avoiding the necessity of walking out of a perfectly good lighted room and into an unlighted bathroom.

I didn't read any more true crime books after In Cold Blood. Not until 1974, and the publication of Vincent Bugliosi's 689 page bladder-buster, Helter Skelter. I was a married woman in 1974, so I must have read this one in the comfort of my own living room in my own apartment, but I sure as hell don't remember it that way. In my mind, I've read all my grisly true crime books in that same small bedroom at the end of the long hallway in my parent's house, and always when I was twelve.

Deviant psychology, aberrant behavior, brain-twistingly abhorrent acts of human cruelty ... with photos! I was hooked.

Ann Rule terrified me with Small Sacrifices, Everything She Ever Wanted and The Stranger Beside Me. Tongue-twisting place names like Snohomish, Snoqualmie and Yelm, surrounded by the beautiful mountains of the Pacific Northwest, now harbored charming sociopaths like Ted Bundy and murderous mothers like Diane Downs. I still can't hear "Hungry Like a Wolf" without getting gooseflesh.

Harold Schecter's Deviant: The Shocking True Story of Ed Gein introduced me to the man with his mother's exhumed body upstairs and the cadaverous skin suit on her dressmaker's dummy, who inspired "Psycho" and "Silence of the Lambs."

So you see, it was no stretch to form an addiction to Jerry Bruckheimer and his special effect masterpieces. Who isn't fascinated by tubs of liquified human adipocere, body dumps, close-ups of bullet trajectories through human flesh and flash-fried folks? Hell, I'm not even picky. I love the whole array of crime shows. CSI (Las Vegas, New York and Miami), Cold Case Files, Without a Trace, NCIS, Numb8rs, and my absolute favorite, Criminal Minds.

But I do feel sort of guilty about Horatio Caine.

More Good News and Bad News

The bad news:

I was like Typhoid Evie in the lab today, spreading death and destruction to all my beloved analyzers. I've had these days before, where every instrument I touch breaks apart like a cartoon watch, and I'm always sort of amazed and appalled at my mightiness.

First, I crashed the probe on the blood bank analyzer just as tons of type and screen orders began popping up on my screen. Okay...I dealt with that one. Rebooted, fixed the probe and moved crash the hematology analyzer! Go Evie!

This one was a little trickier and required a call to tech support. However, during the various startups and shutdowns, I bonded with my tech support guy, Don. Don lives in New Mexico and is also a Bears fan, primarily because Brian Urlacher is a New Mexico native. We also agree that the Dallas Cowboys are repellent, and he made me laugh by telling me his local minor league team is the Albuquerque Isotopes.

I'm totally jealous. OUR local minor league team is the Southern Illinois Miners, which is not nearly as cool as the Isotopes. Somewhere in there, between the secondary switch, the latron, and the football prognostications, we got that bastard up and running...all before I had to explain it to my boss. Hallelujah!

See Diane? I TOLD you there was a God. Heathen nonbeliever!

So that's the bad news. The GOOD news is that I get the day off tomorrow to reflect on the state of the world and mow my pasture. It used to be a yard, but somehow in the last few rainy days it's turned into the amber waves. But that's cool; I love to mow. It LOOKS like work, but really, all you do is drive around and drink beer, and after a couple of hours, the yard looks nice! Talk about maximum bang for minimum buck!

Oh...and I finally started reading Son of a Witch, which, of course, I love. So pray for rain; then the mowing day will turn into a reading day with a side of chili and cornbread.

Yay for not going to work! Yay for lawn tractors, chili, books and cornbread! Yay for crappy eBay pickup trucks, cats in your yard, chainsaws, and beer...all at once.

In the words of the immortal philosopher: Farm livin' is the life for me.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Guilty pleasures -- {ahhhhhh} -- we've all got one or two. It's especially tempting to indulge in these guilty pleasures when it's hot and muggy outside and the dog days of summer are hanging on like a Rottweiler to a cadaver's arm.

One of our guilty pleasures (as you may have guessed) is posting on the AOL message boards.( It wasn't always a guilty pleasure. It used to be a real pleasure, but then it just became a habit ... and then a bad habit ... and now it's a guilty pleasure.)

Like many guilty pleasures, the AOL message boards have an addictive quality. Like penny slots, they take a lot and give little. Like True Crime paperbacks, they're as compelling as they are repellant. Like junk food, they appeal to your least sophisticated tastes while being, not only void of nutritional value, but actually bad for you. After you've indulged in them for awhile you feel sort of sluggish and dull-witted. They leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. They are the cyber equivalent of Pretzel and Cheddar Cheez Combos.

I remember well my first taste of
Combos. My co-worker had left an open snack-sized bag on the counter and casually offered me one. I had politely declined. Combos have always looked suspiciously like dog treats to me, and while I'll eat a lot of varieties of junk food, I really felt that Combos were my line in the sand. Still, as the morning wore on and it began to look as if we might not get a lunch break, I started to weaken. I noticed one little Combo with it's pretzel-y head poking out of the bag to show off it's light sprinkling of powdered cheddar cheez flavoring. It didn't look that bad. It aroused my curiosity. Hmm. "What the hell," I thought, "I'll just try one."

The next thing I knew, I was digging through my pocket for change to put in the dixie cup next to the employee snack box for my own little bag ... and then another. Inside of a month I was buying them three economy-sized bags at a time from WalMart, sneaking them into the grocery cart where their $1.88 price tag would get lost among the bags of dog kibble, cat litter and cheap-ass bulk cereal.

Now I have a love/hate relationship with the Combos. I know there's a possible coronary event waiting for me in every bag, and that they'll spoil my supper, and that I could save all the money I spend on Combos in a month and buy a nice nutritional chicken or something ... and eventually I'll get so sick of Combos I won't want to see one again for a long time. Same with the AOL message boards.

In the meantime, we decided to feed our discriminating dinner guests a higher quality menu here at Nowhere,IL and our rowdy friends can come and pig out on Combos in the rumpus room!

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Cat Can Dream

Around 8 o'clock all the cats start gathering at the place they wish to be fed. Unfortunately, that's not where we actually feed them. The actual feeding takes place on top of the deep freeze in the laundry room. But Brian hates the laundry room. He slinks in there to use the litter box like he's expecting sniper fire to cut him down.

He's scared to death of the laundry room because a long time ago the beer bottle capper scared him, and now he's sure it's laying in wait. When he tries to sneak past it, it's going to attack him. Bottle cappers are tricky that way. Don't trust yours.

So at 8-ish, they gather on the kitchen counter, hoping against hope that THIS time the food will happen in the kitchen and not the laundry room.Sorry boys, Not today, either. But feel free to check back in tomorrow and see if anything's changed!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Lord, Hear Our Prayer

Wellll...I'd like to thank the Universe for giving us all that precious gift. I believe my life is complete now. Between the "march-by" glockenspieling and the universe's awesome gift...

Those of you who need a high five...consider yourself high 5'd until your palms tingle.

I think I need to smoke.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

It's Not All About Us

While we were at the fair, we did think about our many lesbian friends who couldn't be with us, and we wanted to bring back something for you, too.

So here she is ... big femme hair, sun tan, short shorts, leather chaps, work boots and a chainsaw ... the total package of Southern Illinois womanhood.

Don't everyone download her at once.

A Tragic End

Well okay, Diane...I blame you for this. I didn't want to show the combine picture because they were too horrible. It'll take a LOT of seizures to forget this day! This is what comes from mixing tractors, ex-husbands, and alcohol!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Goin' To The Fair

Is there anything anything more horrifying than shuffling out of bed on a Sunday morning to see a carload of clean, alert people pulling into your driveway?

Yesterday was our big family outing to the DuQuoin State Fair, which is the Downstate version of the Illinois State Fair. Rob and I used to take the kids every year when they were little, but none of us had been in at least a decade, so we were psyched. But not during that first moment... in my plaid jammies, with my first cup of coffee clutched in my hands...pitiful.

But there they were, Rob, his friends Lisa and Jon, and their son Jonathan, in the driveway, laden with coolers, sunscreen, bright eyes and good hair. We had none of those things yet, so we zipped around trying to turn ourselves into humans, gathered up Carrie, Tyler and Katie, and took off.

The State Fair is enormous. It's acres and acres of food vendors, rides, booths, expo halls, farm implements, livestock, boats, demonstrations, and people. Lots and lots of people. When we arrived, we did a lap around the perimeter streets and scoped out the important stuff...the bathrooms, the beer tent, the air conditioned expo hall with the giant vegetables, and the rides. Then...we dove in.

Since, as adults, we've learned that life is already a thrill ride and it's always a good day if it doesn't make you puke, we parents opted to stay on the ground. Carrie, Katie and Jonathan bought their "endless rides" wristbands and headed for the Tilt-a-Whirl. They'd already decided that the Tilt-a-Whirl would be their warm-up ride...the one that got their stomachs and inner ears used to the idea that they were about to be in hell. We wise old folks alternately watched our lifeblood being slung around in the air like ragdolls, and threw things are other things in absurdly rigged games in order with win worthless stuff.

We were successful; the kids survived, and the loot was won and we got off the Midway and scored some food. I convinced Tyler to eat a fried Twinkie. I wanted to know what it looked like, and he's young and strong, so we agreed to throw him on that cholesterol-laden grenade and save ourselves. He survived, we patted him on the back and admired his bravery, and then scarfed up our own corn dogs, polish sausages, lemon shake-ups, nachos, and refried beans and rice. Beans and rice?? Fair food options are somewhat limited for vegans, so Carrie was motivated more by survival than by flavor.

We explored the exhibits for a couple of hours, ate some more crap, and limped home, poorer but wiser. We know how to make spray paint art, how big our blue ribbon tomato needs to be next year, how much for a party barge and a new combine, and how cute alpacas and animal babies are.

Our Fair needs have been sated for another year. Except for maybe VultureFest. And maybe the White Squirrel Festival. Oh, and the Apple Festival...Okay. We're nowhere near done. Funnel cake anyone?

Below are the pictures, in no particular order, since I'm still getting acquainted with Flickr.

Flickr, meet Nowhere. Nowhere...Flickr. You kids play nice.

The DuQuoin State Fair

Carrie & Katie

Katie & Jonathan

Katie, "But you never said we'd be staying SIX HOURS!"

Uh-oh...I sense camels and alpacas joining our current crop of pets...

The Fair monkey.
"Y'all come back next year! And bring even MORE money!"

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Fry Up ThoseTwinkies and Trot Out Those Hogs!

I'm up, dressed and full of coffee. After tossing and turning all night, I finally gave up and got out of bed about 5:00. Ev didn't sleep well, either, and I'm sure it was the anticipation. As soon as The Beef gets here we're loading up the fan-damnly and heading for Duqoin for the eagerly anticipated Illinois State Fair.

I'm like a kid on Christmas morning. I've never lived in a state that actually produced produce or had a use for ginormous tractors before. Who needs thrill rides when you can climb up and get your picture taken in the cab of a John Deere combine?

In Arizona, the fair is where you go to dodge gang-bangers and hear concerts on the cheap. For the price of admission, you can hear a variety of country music stars, aging rock bands and occasionally someone really cool ... like the year I got a third row seat to hear James Taylor for three bucks, because none of my friends wanted to go so I only needed one seat.

In Illinois, the fair is where you go to get your picture taken with the giant duhmayduh. How cool is that?

Of course, no fair is complete without the food. I try to plan my food intake so that it looks roughly like real eating ... something from the meat-on-a-skewer group, something from the deep-fried vegetable group, something from the sugar-on-a-stick group, something from the sugar-on-a-slab-of-waxed-paper group and plenty of fluids to maintain homeostasis and prevent heat prostration. I'm on a personal quest for the best lemon shake-up in Southern Illinois ... tart, not too sweet, and plenty of shaved ice. I haven't actually tried a fried Twinkie -- I'm traditionally a cotton candy and funnel cake girl -- but this just might be the year I throw caution to the wind.

You never can tell what you'll find in the commercial exhibit. Among the treasures I've taken home from fairs past are a set of Ginsu knives, a Shiatsu massager, an assortment of pet hair removers that look like sticky pink paint rollers, a bendable telescoping ceiling fan duster, my name on a grain of rice and a zillion dollar set of non-stick cookware with lids that stay on when you hang them from a pot rack. I still have the Ginsu knives.

There'll be pigs and cows and sheep to pet, quilts and dollhouses and hand carved duck decoys to admire, pickles and pies to peruse, and those booths where you shoot out paper stars with bent bb guns for butt-ugly sawdust-filled plush toys! I usually pitch a few dimes at the glassware, because I like the sound it makes, even though you never win so much as an ashtray. I'm pretty good at blowing up the balloons with a water pistol, though. I just might bag Evie a framed mirror with a gilt picture of Elvis that follows you with his eyes.