Friday, October 31, 2003

Happy Halloween! We visited St. Nick's Knife Factory, the Knife and Christmas Outlet, the only place I know where you can buy throwing stars and kitschy Christmas ornaments in the same space. I was inspired to do a costume as a brass-knuckled ninja Christmas angel, but Lyman wouldn't have it. We bought lamb chops for dinner this evening and he didn't want to put them off.

We bought World Harbors Acadian Lemon Pepper & Garlic marinade for the chops, which we promptly poured down the drain after tasting. It was sweet. Horrors! Must remember to read labels!

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Ok, hons. You looking for a scary story? How about this one? The estimate for drapes with a traverse rod for two walls of three-panel sliding glass doors is ballpark $2500. And that's cotton duck fabric. Is that scary or what? The doors themselves only cost $4000. Oh, my.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Funny Jim Hightower column in the local paper, The Islander, about corporate tax deductions, specifically "cost of doing business" deductions. Excerpt:

How far it can wander was made clear by Dennis Kozlowski, the now-disgraced honcho of Tyco. As an essential, tax-deductible expense, Dennis included most of the tab for a $2 million party he threw for his wife Karen's 40th birthday in Sardinia, Italy. This gay gala featured a life-sized ice sculpture of Michelangelo's famous statue of David, complete with vodka streaming from the statue's penis into the crystal glasses of Dennis' delighted guests.

We haven't been at the coast at just this time before, so we were curious about the monarch butterflies that have been passing by the fifth floor all morning. The Bon Secour wildlife agent told us that we are on their migration path. They fly down from the north and follow the Gulf coast to central Mexico.

They aren't appearing in large numbers -- just a steady stream. It's breezy out there today and quite cool. Kind of sad to watch, really. Many of them won't make it.

Monday, October 27, 2003

So we're looking through the guest book and we have nice notes from three frat rats from the University of West Alabama. They were here for spring break. They think the place is awesome. You think that might be because this unit overlooks the pool?

Oh, and hey, Peg. We're online, but I'm having a tad o' trouble with e-mail.

Hey, y'all. We are at the big water. We have nearly nothing to do this time. People do keep having trouble with the blinds, so we're looking into drapes or curtains. I called Charlotte, that good-looking beach grandma I told you about in May. She gave me the name of a Korean seamstress. I also have a call in to Patricia, who has helped me along with this place.

I am an inland girl. I know a little about design, but before we took on this condo I had nothing to do with the beach. Patricia has helped immeasurably. As for my Patricia, the big sister, she decided not to come. She is reserving vacation for when Francesca Watson can get her act together and schedule Fabio.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

I wasn't close to Mary Sue, but Lyman was her lawyer during the adoptions of her two children. We went together to visitation last night, but Lyman will go alone to the funeral today.

I'll stay behind doing housework to prep us to leave for the coast tomorrow. We'll be gone a week or ten days.

I won't be out of touch. Our slow advance into the 21st century includes the purchase of a laptop computer. We arranged DSL at the coast for the convenience of guests, so I can blog to my heart's content while we're there, provided we can get this thing attached and running.

I nearly pitched a fit when Lyman said he wanted to buy a laptop, but then I considered that he isn't into cars, or jetskis or four-wheelers or shotguns, so let the boy have his head.

So y'all have a good time. By the way, Kim Crawford's advice on cleaning blinds was hunky-dory.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Mary Sue was a short, dark-haired, pretty, vibrant woman in her fifties. She visited her mother in Jonesville, about a half-hour down a two-lane road, two Saturdays ago. As she was driving home, a car in the incoming lane following another too closely swerved into her path to avoid back-ending the other when it braked. Mary Sue and the swerver hit head on.

The doctors did what they could, but her organs were too smashed. They took Mary Sue off life support yesterday and she died.

That's how quickly it can happen.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

I couldn't let this story pass without a note. I can't imagine how much money I'd need in the bank before I'd spend $24,000 on a jeweled cell phone.

The weather cleared and the breeze died enough yesterday afternoon for about 40 balloons to choose to fly, though only a few participated in the contest yesterday to drop a beanbag on a mark on a barge floating in the middle of the Mississippi.

We parked on the levee and had an excellent view. Lucy was fascinated. She took a little fright when one passed closely enough overhead for her to hear the burner exhaling dragon's breath. That sound is one of my favorite things about the balloons. She became accustomed to it, though, and was soon crawling across my shoulders to get better views.

She didn't have a lot to say except for a couple of excited high-pitched shrieks right beside my ear.

Earlier we had gone to the flea market (without Lucy), which was one of the junkiest I've ever seen, with the trashiest trinkets. There was one display that I wish I'd had the camera for. A woman had set up a row of nice little baby dolls in calico and gingham dresses with collars and shorts for the boys. Their hair varied from pigtails to barettes to little bobs. The seller had set them on a wooden shelf with a narrow brace across the back, and they looked like a row of obedient little plump children from behind.

I saw a fried moon pie. Apparently, the cook inserts a stick into one edge, dips the pie into something like funnel cake batter, if it's not funnel cake batter, fries the pie until it's puffy and golden, and adds a pile of confectioner's sugar on top. The whole thing is nearly the size of a slightly squashed softball. One look told me I'd save my sweets allotment for a quart of Blue Bell's Dutch Chocolate ice cream.

During our visit, there was only one harried mother trying to control what looked like a three-year-old girl who was bawling for a baby bunny. "Baby bunny, wahhhhhh, baby bunnny, wahhhhh..." The little girl had a deep voice and her mama, a small woman herself, wound up wrestling the girl's struggling little body to the car. I didn't check, but it looked like the bunnies were a grand prize for one of the games. Some prize, huh, parent?

Saturday, October 18, 2003

It's all our fault. We gave in to the young man who came by the other day selling his housewashing services. All the mildew is gone now, and our white trim is gleaming.

Since then, our glorious fall days have turned overcast and humid, beginning a new cycle of mildew build-up and interfering with the Great Mississippi Balloon Race. The balloons couldn't fly yesterday morning, or do the balloon glow last night, or fly this morning. In good weather they often fly right over the house.

Last year was no good either. I was hoping it would be better this year so Lucy could see them. Rats.

Friday, October 17, 2003

OK, all you car fellas. I have a question. The little wagon I bought is in excellent condition except at the very edge of one matte black window frame which shows wear and a little rust. What are my instructions?

Thursday, October 16, 2003

We found a leak in the guest bathtub faucet. Did I tell you Lyman hates plumbing?

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

My wardrobe gave up two full garbage bags of cast-offs in excellent condition. They'll go to Catholic charity in Natchez. Some things are suitable for the Salvation Army. Some things went in the trash.

We started work on Lyman's things today. Slender as he is, he sized himself out of his tuxedo. For three suits we couldn't find pants. Where did they go? I talked him into giving up that tacky light blue jacket. Out went the camos, since he doesn't hunt anymore, and a half-dozen pairs of worn jeans. He has another closet to go through and a chest of drawers.

The boy needs a new suit, and shows no interest at all in shopping for one.

Out went the dreary Chinese screen and two down comforters with holes in them. That leaves me with four spreads for the one double bed, in addition to the one that's on it. Mamas.

Then there's the king-sized spread that was at the coast, but not "beachy" enough.

Extra lamps, leftovers from when we redid the kitchen, then there's the utility room.

Oh, Larry, why did you bring this up?!

I hope I'm not presuming too much on my friendship with Peg Britton if I lift this joke from her blog:

A businessman boarded a plane to find, sitting next to him, an elegant woman wearing the largest, most stunning diamond ring he had ever seen.

He asked her about it.

"This is the Klopman diamond," she said. "It is beautiful, but there is a terrible curse that goes with it."

"What's the curse?" the man asked.

"Mr. Klopman."

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

I've been going through clothes today, culling things I haven't worn for a while. First to go was the blue and white striped skirt I bought at Sanger-Harris 25 years ago that I have never worn, and I still like it. But it's not for me. Also gone is the well-worn Jantzen pullover sweater that I bought in 1974. The brown and blue plaid woolen skirt from '76 had to go because I don't do brown anymore. The coat from 1980 had to go, too.

The red silk and the blue and black silk from '88 stay, as do the two pretty dresses and the black tuxedo suit from '86. The black woolen blazer from '91 still looks good.

Am I doing okay, Larry?

Lyman finished the plumbing for the kitchen faucet last night, nearly 48 hours to the minute after the project started. (Did I tell you Lyman hates plumbing?)

His arms look as though he tangled with an angry cat.

When he went to bed last night, he said, "I am not doing any plumbing tomorrow. I don't care if this house washes away. No plumbing tomorrow."

After all the hissing and spitting of the last week or so, I was happy to hear it.

Lyman's injuries reminded me of childhood days when mother would doctor little scrapes and cuts with Mercurochrome. I ran around with neon red blotches on my skin all the time. A Google search showed that just about anyone of my generation and older was treated the same. It's been banned now by the FDA because it contains mercury, but the name lives on. The word brings up 9,880 results on Google.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Oh, my. That was an ugly loss to Florida, 7-19.

It was so ugly that immediately after the game Lyman started on the plumbing leak in the kitchen. After a light battering detaching the faucet handle with the specialized wrench he bought for the job, he found that he can't detach a ring from the part he wants to replace. He needs a new ring, which comes from a plumbing warehouse that isn't open until Monday.

So, because the LSU Tigers lost, we have no hot water in the kitchen for the rest of the weekend. Tell me why.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

The rain has put a kibosh on my window-washing project, which had slowed down because of another quandary.

In our bedrooms we have mini-blinds. Plain, cheap, plastic mini-blinds. Horror of horrors. No window treatments?

They stay closed. And I have been remiss in washing windows for about two years now. The blinds are dusty and dirty, and washing them will be a chore and a half. I do not have a clothesline.

Friends say, "Janis, they're cheap. Replace them. It's not worth your effort."

The conservationist inside me says, "Janis, these work perfectly, they're just dirty. You're going to put something in a landfill because it's soiled?"

I've cleaned blinds on the driveway before. Guess I'll do it again.

Jim has asked for an update on plumbing.

This project goes back some months, when we decided to replace the lavatory faucet after the strainer assembly broke off the old one, original to the house in 1962.

We found an attractive one, and hired a fellow who supplements his work at one of the offshore rigs with plumbing handiwork to install it. He did a perfectly good job to a point -- the point at which we found out this faucet was configured for newer sinks, so the stopper stick that goes through the top of the faucet was not lined up with the opening on the lower side of the sink. For some months, we have operated the stopper mechanism by opening the vanity door and closing and opening the drain at the joint underneath the sink.

Lyman (did I tell you he hates plumbing?) decided last week to remedy that situation and replace the stopper mechanism as well. The obvious solution to the blockage was to enlarge the opening under the sink, which called for two trips to the hardware store -- first, for a masonry bit that didn't work, then a cobalt bit that did. That part of the job was fine.

Then he started with the drain and stopper mechanism itself. And that went along fine until he discovered the trap he had purchased for the job was too large. He found that out just as all local hardware stores closed.

One of the things we discovered during removal of the old parts was a nasty clog that had slowed drainage to a trickle. We had bought a little snake a few days before that might have taken care of that, but had we used it, we would have probably punched out the bottom of the rusted 40-year-old trap and turned up with a mess of soggy tampons, toilet tissue and slippery soaps. Just as well.

The next day, he found the parts he needed and finished the job. And found a leak. He tracked the leak to the top of the drain, but rather than disassemble the whole mess, found that the leak stopped when he tightened all his work.

So much for the lavatory.

Then it was on to the toilet, which has been gloog-gloogling for a long time. It was getting on our nerves, despite our sincere attempts to convince ourselves it was a water feature in the house. He replaced part of the flush mechanism and adjusted it and all seemed fine until last night when I found a puddle of water on the floor. A little more tightening, and all seems well. For now.

Then there was the replacement of the flush mechanism in the front bathroom, because the one he had installed last time was designed for the other Gore's toilet, and wasn't doing an adequate job. After adjustments, it's fine, too.

Now it's on to the kitchen sink where one of our expensive Kohler faucets is leaking from the hot water handle, reducing pressure and causing mineral buildup in the sink. That's a warranty issue in addition to a plumbing issue.

The bathroom sinks are beginning to pose a problem. They are cracking and rusting near the drains. They are of the beige 1962 vintage. My mother-in-law says she wishes she had installed white fixtures looking back on it. Thanks, Mom.

The tubs, toilets and tile in both bathrooms are still okay, if a little drear (hey, they aren't pink!). We don't have tile to replace the sink surrounds, so it's adding a border or redoing the whole counters. Or possibly resurfacing those sinks. Another time.

Mr. Smith always asks about Lucy.

Lucy is fine as wine, if a little crabby. It has been overcast and rainy the past few days, and she would like a little sunshine, like the rest of us.

While she doesn't talk much, she does vocalize in completely understandable ways. She grunts, growls and fusses with the best of them. She also yawns loudly.

I've tried to take a picture when she is mopey and tired, but just like any other girl who has been told she is beautiful and smart and good countless times, she always brightens for the camera.

We haven't had the air-conditioning on for some days. The whole house feels soggy.

And I sort of miss the gloogling in the toilet. Gave it a little personality.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Matt Welch provides a link to a group blog covering the California recall, CalBlog.

There is a post there now, in which a volunteer for the Schwarzenegger campaign was told she could not vote wearing her political t-shirt. She is up in arms, as are several of her commenters.

If California law is anything like Louisiana law, the poll worker was correct to turn her away. When I worked as a poll-watcher for a candidate last year, I was told that I couldn't wear so much as a button identifying a candidate.

In our recent election, people were turned away for wearing t-shirts supporting a candidate. Laws against electioneering near the polls forbid them.

My guess is she wasn't properly told by the organizer. Or she didn't listen.

Commenter Lori sounds on track there.

It's a rainy, rainy day. I'm going to keep the coffee fresh and go quietly about my business, rejoicing at how rational Louisiana politics are compared to California's.

Monday, October 06, 2003

In the interest of scientific inquiry, Lyman and I stood up a few more eggs yesterday, October 5, to bear out Phil Plait's observation that eggs can be balanced at any time of year, not just the equinoxes.

If you crane your neck just so, you can see them in this picture. (Can't figure out why this is showing up sidewise. Probably because I refuse to cook tonight.)

Sunday, October 05, 2003

We have a hot local run-off coming up on Nov. 15 in the sheriff's race. The incumbent has been in office since 1990, and has made a few enemies in his day. The budget for the office is about $9 million. He is challenged by a Louisiana state trooper with no business experience, which is driving Big Daddy, the banker, off the wall.

From the ads in last week's paper, this is an ugly race that is bound to get uglier. I don't plan to miss an issue of the Concordia Sentinel for the next six weeks.

LATER: The challenger is already mentioning vote-buying and using parish vehicles to transport voters.

OCT 7: Clyde Ray says those allegations are unfounded.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Louisiana politics. You have to love this paragraph from the Times-Picayune about the office of insurance commissioner:

We continue to believe that converting this job into an appointed position would insulate the state's top insurance regulator from political pressures. Louisiana's last three elected commissioners have ended up in jail.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Lyman is doing a bit of plumbing. Three trips to the hardware store this afternoon. More to come. Lyman hates plumbing, and says so in so many words. So many words.

It's warm and beautiful outside. We're picking up some light breezes and cool nights. The air-conditioning is turned off and the windows are open.

It's window-washing time! It came clear to us the other day when Maurice and Ed stopped by, looked at the door onto the carport and said, "Hey, I see you're all dressed for Halloween."

We've started with the spy windows -- you know, the kitchen window overlooking our front neighbors' yards and the side window overlooking Shannon's yard next door, and of course, the kitchen door to the carport.

I'll work through the house, doing the full job on the bedrooms as I do those windows.

Fall cleaning. It's a good thing.

Mark Peterman is one of the Christmas boys at our house -- part of the crowd that gathers here after Christmas dinner at home. He is a smart, responsible and charming young man. His father died yesterday.

Here's an interesting election story. There are no fifteen-passenger vans left to rent in the state for election day.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

We have an election coming up on Oct. 4. There are 18 candidates in the primary for governor. I'm wavering between Boudreaux Estilette and "Live Wire" Landry.

The suspect has turned himself in.