Monday, June 30, 2003

From Obscure Store comes a supermarket nightmare.

I can't help but wonder about Possum holed up in a small condo with four young children, rain pouring outside. And how does it feel to have your vacation spoiled by something named "Bill"?

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Katherine Hepburn is dead at the age of 96. (CNN)

Let's talk "flyover country". Let's talk Kansas. Let's talk Mrs. Peg Britton. She's taken it upon herself to mother me during my trials (no easy task) and she's good at it. There's a girl. See what's happening in Ellsworth, Kansas.

For a different kind of dog story, go to Fred First. His Lab, Buster, is not doing so well.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Can't let this one go unremarked. Elizabeth Spiers of Alabama goes among the sophisticates of New York, and finds owners taking their dogs for yoga classes. Right here in the Washington Post. I like this part:

Half an hour on the yoga mat makes Isaac, her cocker spaniel, a calmer dog, said doga devotee Sarah Klein.

"Usually when he's in the park, he can't focus," said Klein...

LATER: I suspect Elizabeth will get over her affair with New York one day. It's a poor lover.

I am fond of primitive art. My proudest art possessions are a lovely batik and painted village scene from Zimbabwe and an "imagination rug" woven from dyed camel hair from Egypt.

I was delighted to come across Tyler Cowen's site while surfing the other day. He is a contributor at The Volokh Conspiracy and is a connoisseur of "amate art". What is that? He'll show you. Part of his collection is posted here.

What a trove.

Friday, June 27, 2003

I'm fine. Healing nicely. OK to drive. No heavy lifting. If it hurts, don't do it. Come back in three or four weeks.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Oh, migosh, I'm bored. Paid bills today. Caught a nifty surprise when I opened the IDT Long Distance bill and found a $179 charge where I usually find something $20 or less. Seems that when the BellSouth DSL went down last month the dial-up number was in Jackson, MS. I'm an invalid. I'll leave that to Lyman to resolve.

Due to visit the surgeon's office for a follow-up in the morning at 11:15. My last appointment was at 10:30 and I was finally called at about 12:30. The time went quickly last time. There was an older black gentleman that had driven a patient in. When we found ourselves sitting alone in the waiting room he struck up a conversation and we spent at least an hour talking about his life growing up near Church Hill, MS. He talked about long hours of work and gardens and orchards and hunting. He talked about biscuits in the morning and drinking beer on the way home at night. He talked of leaving school early when a storm was coming so the kids could make it across the bayous. He talked of women canning and fixing fences and tornadoes. I wish I'd had a tape recorder.

I'm not expecting much of tomorrow. Maybe I'll be surprised.

Ah, even I now have the new Blogger interface. Much easier to look at.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

So, I spent $4 on the copy of Ulysses that I have read about half-way through. To make heads or tails of it, I need this book for $29.95. Bet it's not in our tiny public library.

... 46, 48, 50! 2, 4, 6, 8 ...

MSNBC reports that the Vatican has now put its art collection on-line here.

I know very little about John Scalzi's writing, but in this post he talks about his young career as a writer in a no-nonsense, unromantic and optimistic way. If there's a wannabe in your acquaintance, it would do him or her no harm to read it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Francesa Watson has e-mailed to say that she's been in touch with Fabio's people, but unfortunately he won't be back in-country until Fall. It certainly is good to know that SOMEONE in the Axis takes me seriously.

Monday, June 23, 2003

I think it's been about five weeks since this house was cleaned properly, and we're moving from the need for a housekeeper to a need for disaster relief assistance. It's reached the point that I'd be embarrassed to call someone in without cleaning up at least some first, and that's just not in the cards right now. The vacuum is my enemy.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

I can't shake this feeling that I should call my mother and tell her how I'm doing.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

I've been extremely disappointed in the quality of drug prescribed as pain medication after this surgery. Oh, the drug is fine for decreasing pain, but its only side effect is sleepiness. I have been taking only one of a possible two, but I'm afraid that two will lead only to the side effect described on the label: POSSIBLE DIZZINESS.

I had a bout of dizziness the night I returned from surgery, which resulted in Lyman manhandling me back into the wheeled office chair, and rolling me across the living room and down the hall to the bedroom, where there were only a couple of unsupported steps until I could ease myself into bed. Nothing broke, far as I can tell, but it's not an experience either of us wants to repeat.

Instead of pleasantly spacing out on drugs, I have opened my second-hand copy of James Joyce's Ulysses from Half-Price Books in Dallas. My brother picked this copy out for me because it was prefaced by the court ruling that judged the book was not obscene and should not be banned from the U.S. market. He also said it was the best English translation he could find. (Silly snot. Surely he could have found a better one.) This is my first reading, and I'm doing it cold, without any supporting materials. Which is another reason I am taking frequent naps.

Today I'm going to make myself useful by rolling change, which is falling out of the dishes provided for it on the dresser. One of our sons took a pile of change to one of those machines located in grocery stores and lost $10 on $100. I asked, "Michael, when have you become so well off that it's not worth an hour of your time to make $10?" Neither of these boys grasps that 100 pennies still make a dollar, and dollars aren't all that easy to come by, regardless of how prosperous you are. They'll learn the day they're hungry and 7 cents short of the cost of a Sonic burger. In earlier days, I've turned out every pocket in the house and searched every crevice in the furniture for a nickel. I hope those days are past, but if they aren't, I'm ready.

For more shopping news, visit the Wed., June 18 entry at Compleat Redneck and read Cletus' hot tip for shopping for accessories. Remember "Compleat Redneck -- not just barbecue anymore."

Friday, June 20, 2003

This month has been so packed that some of my story lines have gotten lost. I just know that Chuck over at redneckin is dying to find out if I found a suitable bedspread for the condo.

Yes, gardener-boy, I did, but not without a lot of effort. (Go see his pictures from the garden. He grows pretty flowers.)

Let's preface this by saying that I do not like to shop. I don't revel in spending money, and I never buy something just to say I bought something after visiting a store. I start out with a specific need in mind, and shop until that need is fulfilled, which can turn into a wildly frustrating experience.

There were several criteria the bedspread had to meet:

1) it had to be a throw style bedspread

2) it had to coordinate with, and not overwhelm the numbered print in the bedroom where it would be used

3) it had to coordinate with the colors in the rest of the condo

4) it had to be reasonably priced (think replacement in a few years)

5) it had to have a "beachy" theme

6) it had to be king-sized

7) it had to machine-washable

You'd think that in condoland such a task might require no more than a run to the nearest Wal-mart, but you would be wrong. We started at Old Time Pottery. No throw bedspreads, many bed-in-a-bag values, most without a suitable theme or color. Then it was on to the outlet mall in Foley, where WestPoint Stevens disappointed with another large collection of bed-in-a-bags and a small collection of unsuitable throw styles. They did carry about six very pretty inappropriate comforter sets that I would see over and over again until I finished shopping. We spotted a place called "Tropical Linens" that was closed when we went by, but would later be revealed to have custom-made bedspreads in the $400 to $600 range -- something I wouldn't put in my own house, much less a rental unit.

Having exhausted the stores in Alabama, we drove over to Pensacola and started at University Mall, where there is a Sears, McCrae's, Penny's and Beall's outlet store. I came within a size of what I could use at Penny's. The only throw styles at the other stores were 100% light cotton cottage-style throws (think Martha Stewart) that would soak up every stain and particle of dirt on the beach. Linens & Things, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Dillard's were no better. That exhausted Pensacola.

It was too late to shop more. We drove back to the condo and had a drink (and I mean an adult beverage, and I mean more than one).

The next day we were going to have to use some imagination. One place we didn't visit was a Sleep Shop in Pensacola. Hey, they sell mattresses, maybe they sell bedspreads, too. So we pulled out the Yellow Pages and looked for stores that sold bedding. The first place I called was Henry's Furniture, which offers Sealy bedding. They had three king-sized throw style bedspreads in stock. We drove over to the store on Canal Road, maybe five miles from the condo, and were introduced to Charlotte -- a very good-looking beach grandma -- who showed us the spreads. Voila! There it was. A spread with a graphic pattern in colors soft enough to coordinate with the rest of the furnishings. She even allowed us to take it home and try it on approval. It worked!

We got the side benefit of seeing the rest of the shop, which has many things appropriate for our unit. Best of all, we found Charlotte, a budget-minded, practical, tasteful woman who can help us in the future. I think next year we'll replace the other bedspread.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Blogger won't let me edit the post below. What's with that?

I'd like to tell the spammers sending me sexually-enticing e-mails to cut it out. The whole idea makes me want to scream with pain. Though I'd be grateful if Fabio would bring me a cup of coffee, please.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

That wasn't so bad, if I forgive them for bringing me in at 6:30 am and not operating until about 1:30. There's soreness at the site of the operation, but I am otherwise fine. Now where is that coffee?

LATER: This is all a little of nothing. Go to Nate MCCord's site and wish his father's new wife well.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Here's a great site I found at Gawker -- a contest to decorate Martha Stewart's new cell. (Sorry, this contest is closed, but the entries are fun to see.) On the left side of the screen, check out Martha's New Digs 2 under "related contests". That contest is open for decorating the cell lavatory facilities.

I caught a glimpse of the aftermath of this accident on my way to a test yesterday. What a hideous mess.

OK, I'm still waiting for a phone call from the surgeon's office. What's the deal?

LATER: Aha, there they are. The nurse will call this afternoon to schedule.

Tomorrow, hospital, 6:30 am. Pre-admission today.

And test results from yesterday's ultrasound scan: no evidence at all of an aortic aneurysm. ("Eeeks!" you say. Well, that's what I said, too.)

Sunday, June 15, 2003

In-Laws to Love

Since I first appeared under the weather, my in-laws (that would be Girl and Big Daddy -- this is Tennessee Williams country, after all) have repeatedly said that they would help in any way we need. At about 8 pm last night they dropped by after having spent the day with Lyman's sister's family over in Natchez. I told my mother-in-law that if she wanted to help she could send over some of her potato soup when she had time. (At 83 she's still a good cook.) At 10:30 last night she called Lyman to tell him the soup was ready and to bring a large pot.

Isn't that a gift?

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Kids, this ain't gettin' any more fun. Yesterday found me at the surgeon's office, planning an inguinal-femoral hernia repair. (Yes, that was the source of all that pain.) It's a day procedure, scheduled for Tuesday. The doctor will literally patch my abdominal wall with a piece of mesh that living tissue will integrate with to form a stronger container.

It's not all bad. The surgeon says they'll give me Demerol, which, from prior experience, leads me to say, "Bring on the logging saws!"

Baby, that is some good stuff.

LATER: I'll be fine, if I don't smother in dust-bunnies first.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Now isn't that just like a self-described liberal? Michael Bowen of A Minority of One asks of his own accord to join the Axis of Weevil, then expects to be flamed by other members for his political views.

Mr. Bowen, you'll get more flack knocking sweet tea around here than you'll get for the link to Michael Moore on your site. Believe me, I know.

Reading of Cletus starting a new story over at Compleat Redneck reminds me of a story from Mother's funeral.

For the convenience of all concerned, we decided to have the post-funeral gathering at my mother's house. My sister, Patricia, and I raced to the grocery in the morning to buy a few more things to serve, gathered what we had bought the night before, and charged around 635 to arrive at Mother's house at about 9:30 am. After we'd stored the things we brought, we had a little time to rest before going to the funeral home.

We heard a knock at the door, which was my nephew catching up with his mother. Then we heard another, unexpected knock at the door, and opened it to find Aunt Glenda, my father's sister, 80 years old and looking fine indeed. With her was Aunt Leona, 88, and looking pretty as always. (She has my grandmother's complexion, which defies sun, age and gravity.) They had gotten themselves lost in Dallas trying to find the funeral home and dropped by the house in hope that someone would be there.

We sat them down and offered them drinks. Glenda said she'd be happy to have a margarita. Can't blame her there, after an hour lost on Dallas roads. I told her no, it was only 10 am, and that she'd have to wait until after the service. (This is all teasing. Glenda probably has a margarita once a month, if that.)

We visited a little while, and it was time to go. At about that time, Glenda started on a story about her dog. Aunt Leona grasped her cane, got up from her chair and headed for the door. I followed to escort her down the drive. As we went out the door, Leona said, "She's started on one of her long stories. We'd better get going or we'll miss the funeral." We walked on down to the car. As I was opening the car door Leona said, "Glenda is losing her memory. She gets started on one of these stories and then I have to finish it for her. Who's going to finish my stories for me?" Then she laughed.

Bryan, my nephew, offered to drive and look after the ladies for the rest of the day. Did a handsome job of it, too.

Natchez writer Greg Iles, six times on the New York Times Bestseller List, has finally hit the big time. He's joined the rock band Rock Bottom Remainders to play with the likes of Stephen King, Amy Tan, Scott Turow and Dave Barry. A local story is here.

Fame continues to narrowly evade Vidalia. Let's not forget that just down the road to the west, Ferriday is the birthplace of cousins Mickey Gilley, Jimmy Swaggart and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

This might be the sexiest, most romantic thing I've read in blogs, from Stuart Buck:

Yesterday, my wife heard a radio broadcast of the middle movement of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G, except with a twist: a classical guitarist was playing the melody line. (It's one of the most beautiful works of the 20th century; click here to hear a clip of Martha Argerich playing it.) Janis: you'll have to click on the post to get the reference, that one I can't figure out how to do.

So last night, after the kids were in bed, my wife and I sat down to try our hand at it -- her on the piano and me on the classical guitar. She had played the entire concerto in college, and still had the music (arranged for two pianos). The first few pages went fairly well -- the melody actually fit nicely on the guitar. After that, it became much more difficult (i.e., lots of notes), beyond my ability to arrange for the guitar while sight-reading.

But it was lovely indeed -- a shared moment of beauty at the end of a long day.

We never did anything like that when I was in Dallas. Not that I can play piano or guitar.

If I were a purveyor of fine wines, whiskies, or even coffees, I'd snatch this scene up for a picture of the good life.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I'm not exactly a screaming ninny when it comes to pain, but after two days this weekend struggling with all sorts of embroiled viscera, I visited the lovely Dr. Palmer this morning. I'm on a regimen of antibiotics for the week, battling a kidney infection. Could be a physical manifestation of stuffing emotions, I suppose.

At any rate, I'm a little fuzzy, and such concern as I can muster regards the condition of a house that has been left for weeks to a man of many fine qualities other than cleanliness and a small parrot of generally good manners who eats like a flock of macaws.

I'll be better in a day or two.

LATER: I have distracted myself by reading this book that I borrowed from my brother. The 23rd Psalm is utterly flat in anything other than the King James version.

Monday, June 09, 2003

I have been inordinately tired this weekend, so writing has been confined to answering two requests -- one from Florida and one from Iowa -- for a recipe for sweet tea. Now why they would be writing me for a recipe was a curiosity until I remembered that I had offered a recipe to little Fiona's father in comments over at World Wide Rant several months ago. A Google search turned me up about 15 entries in.

Little do these trusting correspondents know, but I make only a lightly sweetened tea, and that only in deference to my father-in-law, who likes a little tea with his sugar. My mother-in-law prefers unsweetened as do I. Lyman likes it as I make it, and Big Daddy has to make do with adding extra sugar. Running a household is a round of compromises. Perhaps I should follow Alton Brown's advice and keep a beaker of simple syrup in the refrigerator. It dissolves better in cold tea.

And I think I might like a glass or two of tea today.

LATER: My correspondent in Florida wrote to tell me her tea turned out wonderfully, then countered with a family-favorite recipe for lemon ice-cream. What would I do without the Internet? I mean, besides get my housework done?

Friday, June 06, 2003

Thanks to all of you who have sent condolences. I received a sweet e-mail from Francesca Watson which I acknowledged without knowing that her father is ill. Miss Francesca, I wish the best for your father and your family.

Mother died about 10 minutes after I boarded a plane in Baton Rouge. My sister and sister-in-law who were present tell me that she departed peacefully and quietly, slipping away while they were talking in the room. My sister tells me she had checked on her only a couple of minutes before. She did not die alone, which was a fear for us while she lived in her house. This year had been a particular struggle for Mother, whose world was becoming smaller and smaller as her breathing capacity diminished until she was finally bedridden. Cliched as it is, her sufferings are over.

I had no issues with my mother, so my grief is mainly sadness that she is gone. We had no long-standing scores to settle, no bitterness between us, no regrets. She was a hard-working homemaker whom God will happily invite into his Heaven because she made the best chocolate cream and coconut cream pies (and apricot fried pies, BJB) in all creation.

Ecclesiastes is the scripture for me right now. And the angels better watch their weight.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Hey, y'all. I'm home.