Blow Dried

So here I am on the day of Trump’s Masque Of The Orange Death rally, reclining on my bed attired solely in a burgundy-colored terrycloth spa robe, blow-drying my bush.

I suppose I should back up and explain.

I have been a very patchy blogger since the Orange F ck was elected — it’s like fighting your way through a massive depression just to keep going, I live right outside DC, the waves of evil and stupid pulsing out of the government district are like gouts of poison gas — and even more absent lately. See, what happened was, here I am almost all the way back from getting both hips Borged February was a year ago, blowing up a 500 pound sled, four miles of hills daily, and then thank you very much I start going through shall we say a repeat of puberty. The ladies can sort this out. I had been up on the rack for the customary fourteen-point check and oil change in January so this was weird. A month, an MRI and a bravura effort later, from an ultrasound technician who went medieval on my stomach with a — well, you remember the big foofaraw about states wanting women to get ultrasounds before ending a pregnancy because looks like a baby something something? The whole violation element involved? Think of someone using that dingus like a tire lever.

Actually, it looked like a water balloon.

Actually, it kind of was a water balloon, attached to my girl bits, only, not to drop a spoiler, it was more or less filled with (sorry) snot. This phenomenon shall henceforth be known as the “Ephraim McDowell Special,” or Phred for short. It is a young woman’s neoplasm, and I have no idea why it decided to set up shop in an actual Medicare subscriber. Curiously, the riveting tale of the first successful excision of one of these was a chapter in the History of Surgery that I read to tatters at age 10 before I realized I would make a shitty doctor because I actually like taking care of people.

I realize this verges on what my Albino Ex used to call “the organ recital” (he had a friend with an unfortunate habit of sharing the minute details of an annual “Millennium Scan,” before we tied him to a chair and beat him with feather pillows, until he promised to stop before he glowed in the dark). But, well, long silence bears explanation.

Apparently when you are toned and ruthless, you can plow hills with a ten-inch-across oblate thingy inside you and only notice feeling a little as if you’ve been going heavy on the beans. Well, vegetarian.

Anyway, fast forward to the local teaching hospital, a surgeon who looks about twelve, masks everywhere, temperature checkpoints, and a chirpy, excited nursing staff who didn’t even wait for me to wake up all the way before telling me on the trip back to my room: “Everyone’s saying they took like a whole turkey out of you! Wanna see the pictures?”

Bedside manner.

Really most of them were nice. There was the one who would never shut the bathroom door after herding me in there (house rules, no one walks to the can unsupervised). And then there was the Night Of The Long Blood Pressure Cuffs, when all my chitlins coming back online after a double transabdominal nerve block hurt so frickin much that my pressure unsurprisingly skyrocketed. The medical solution to this problem is to wake up the victim prisoner patient EVERY GODDAM HOUR ON THE HOUR ALL NIGHT LONG to check it again. By five a.m. I was screaming fornicatory maledictions and threatening to break the fourth floor window and go out of it.

Does not work and play well with others.

Anyway, they sprung me about 36 hours after that, and I have been chilling at home trying to decide what tattoo to get over the 44-staple zipper they had to open up to get at Phred, who apparently was not an especially hostile alien but just wanted a place to be, kind of like when  you find a raccoon has given birth in your attic. Meanwhile, now that the staples are out and it’s just got tape on it, I am supposed to ALWAYS KEEP IT DRY. Including the part where they clearly realized they were going to have to cut further than anyone expected, leaving the last three staples in an area that ought properly to have been baldicated. Phred was ambitious.

Hence the hair dryer. I like to shower a lot. Also, walking. Supposed to help. I am in the Tidewater and it’s summer. No health club in the area has a steam room because all you have to do is walk outside, never mind walking a mile, which is the current stage. Working up.

Oh, they took my appendix just while they were in there. Thieves. I have no idea what the black market price is for an intact appendix but I’m checking eBay.

The blessed Engineer saved my life with oatmeal cookies (hospital food never changes), the divine Azahar, who’s weathered a lot worse, has been my spirit guide, and I manage to have only one hysterical meltdown a day. I want a thirty pound dumbbell so bad I can taste it (currently limited to ten, which is barely worth picking up), and threw arm shots at the mandated home physical and occupational therapists (“Why did they send us here?”), after explaining that those poles were not “mobility aids,” they were Alpine walking equipment. The OT was from the Indian subcontinent, saw my “Namaste” plaque, greeted me accordingly, and settled in to talk about pranayama and daal recipes. Shame he has no need to come back.

It takes my mind off our national creeping crisis, but only intermittently.

Send animal and garden and art pictures.

 

The Gates Of The City

David”s memorial service was yesterday. It was in the running for the Most Horrifying Experience Of My Life.

He died two weeks ago today, at home, with hospice people coming in to help and, I gather, people from his church coming in to pray with him, because David was always all about tracts and Trusting In The Lord and saying God Bless when he signed off on the phone. I don’t know why he never tried witnessing at me, other than to include with every year’s Christmas card one of those grisly Chick tracts with bad comic-book art of sinners writhing in the Lake Of  Fire. I may have an invisible neon sign over my head that says Don’t Tell Me About Your Relationship With Jesus. Or Krishna, Zoroaster or Sun Myung Moon, come to that.

If so, it wasn’t working yesterday, Everything started off innocuously enough; we got there late in the reception hour, which was in the distinctive key of Babtist church basements everywhere: linoleum, bulletin boards with construction-paper art and cheesy posters of that Lake Of Fire (again), a “dead spread” of prefabbed deli sandwiches and canned soda set out on one of the refectory tables. I only ever knew David’s wife Liliana and his brother Donnie, who is looking pretty rough by now and missing most of his teeth. Liliana’s short a few herself, I noticed. These are people who’ve never had much money, and I refuse to judge either David or Donnie for the years they spent soused and unemployable, a family habit I gather. In the richest country in the world basic dentistry is still a luxury, I guess.

Everyone was very nice and friendly. They didn’t look like people who spent a lot of time thinking about Lakes Of Fire.

The order of service was pretty unsurprising. Four hymns scattered through its length, a scripture reading, two people giving reminiscences of David that made it clear they barely knew the man. They should have asked me. I could have told them about the patiently sifted earth in the spring, the pride in his daughter who got the education  he never completed and became a teacher, the lovingly painted iron railings on my back porch (I would have of course left out the time he hammered all the flagstones loose on the one in front). The time that I saw him pick up Torvald, who was then a guest in the yard and not yet my cat, and kiss his head.

Nope, all anyone wanted to say about David was how he had accepted Jesus and wanted to bring the Good News to everybody. I thought my eyes were glazing over at the third reference to this. And then the preacher geared up.

I could be forgiven for thinking this was supposed to be about David. Fuck me. Apparently it was the springboard for a half-hour long infomercial about how Mr. Preacher would never say he was sure someone had gone to Heaven unless he really was sure, but about David he was sure, and David was now touching the Hand of God and breathing celestial air and living in Heaven which is a real place with the following engineering specifications. I kid you not, architectural details and square footage were provided. Because David had accepted Jeebus as his Lord and Savior, and brought his daughter to do the same, and he was now freed of pain (that much, I’m happy to say, was true, and I gather there was a lot of it). And we all had that same choice and everyone needed to make it or else end up in a place full of fire and darkness separated from God forever, because no matter what else  you did or how nice you were, accepting Jeebus was your only hope, and now turn to the passage in Revelations (the most drugged-out document ever preserved, I think) for more details on the great gates of the Heavenly City, each carved from a single pearl. It was unclear what people with perfect divine bodies would do all day in the City since supposedly after death we are freed from all fleshly appetites; personally if I were going to order up Heaven it would be someplace where the whisky was incredible and there was no male refractory period.

He kept referring to David as Dave. In twenty-two years I never heard him identify himself as Dave. No one called him that.

Finally, after insisting he wasn’t going to call anyone out or embarrass them, Mister Preacher enjoined all present to close their eyes so that anyone who wanted to receive Jeebus into their hearts right there in front of his very eyes could raise their hands without being put on the spot in front of the other congregants, and receive the benefit of a pastoral prayer for God’s blessing on them. At this point I was becoming slightly crazed and almost ready to fling myself into the aisle, black-church-style, and speak in tongues if it would just make this oily, poreless-complexioned, fairy-tale-spouting mountebank SHUT UP. I think only my fondness for Liliana stopped me.

We finished with another hymn. The people who write these fucking hymnals always insist on a high E that I don’t have if I haven’t been practicing. At least I’m still the dead accurate sight singer I always was. Let them wonder how the infidel could belt out all David’s faves.

As we fled left the church — which had a multicolored LED marquee in front — Mister Preacher slunk silently out of the basement (I don’t know how he got down there from the pulpit so fast) and mooched up beside us with palm extended. I shook his hand and thanked him; I have plenty of soap at home.

“Funny,” remarked the Engineer over dinner, “I’m pretty sure that in Revelations, it says the gates of the city are always open so that anyone can come in. He must have missed that part.”

I am all but morally certain that David’s daughter told him she had accepted Jesus because he was fucking dying in horrible pain and afraid he wouldn’t see her in heaven otherwise. I can see myself doing  something like that. But I assume at least some of the people in that congregation believe all this shit, and these are people who have licenses to drive and the right to vote. It scares me.

Atmosphere

When I pulled up to the gym there was a huge tank truck, emblazoned with the logo of a local septic system company, parked at the entry. Two guys were standing to one side of it, making what looked like an experimental effort to join three pieces of four-inch reinforced hose into one long conduit, something that I could only regard as a bad sign.

I asked the Minotaur who guards the front desk what the kaka-sucker was doing in front of the place. “For suckin’ out members we don’t like,” he said,without the hint of a facial expression, while I signed in. He’s like that.

Eventually they threaded the spliced hose through the front doors, across the floor between the array of Nautilus machines, and toward the restrooms in the back. By that time I was on a warmup bike and out of the direct path of action, but when they started up the compressor on the tank truck, all I could think of was the lost city of R’lyeh rising to the surface, dripping with the slime of ages, or the parts of Dante’s Hell where the demons and damned souls are wading in ordure. You know you can’t hold your breath and exercise, right?

I don’t know what it was about and I don’t want to know, but I want some kind of blue ribbon for hanging in there. They were gone before it was time for me to start chucking  kettlebells around.

 

 

Graphic Upgrade

Apparently I have a secret Santa. Possibly someone is going to own up eventually but right now I got nothing.

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Tomorrow will begin the fourth week I have been out at the main road with my signs. No one I know has joined me yet, or so far as I know tried it around their own ‘hood, but someone decided to do something. I stepped out into the battering heat a few hours ago, headed for the (not sufficiently) air conditioned gym, and this spiffy, professionally printed sign was leaning against the Rudbekia. The same motto is on one of my hand lettered signs, which gets a lot of honks from passing drivers (I’m running easily five to one in favor of this exercise in daily witnessing). It must have grabbed the imagination of someone who saw it. I’m guessing a client or friend. I try not to be obvious about going between my door and the pop stand.

The polish is a little jarring. I feel challenged to uphold the graphic standards.

Updates as I get them.

The Nuptial Vultures

Nuptial Vultures

So I went to a Ukrainian wedding. I trained for this by singing with a German chorus for several years, and surviving the dinner dances that followed their concerts, though I forebore to mention anything about this to the celebrants; the bride’s mother had told me years back about Wehrmacht soldiers billeted in her house when she was seven. Still, if you have danced with a good whack of booze in you while someone worked the squeezebox, you are prepped for this kind of thing. One of the guests bent in toward me and the Engineer later and congratulated us on being able to keep up.

Eastern Rite Catholic wedding traditions are something to witness. Most of the service is sung. The priest could have given aces and spades to the choir’s entire tenor section, and I think we have all heard that Saint Paul cantrip about Love Is Patient And Kind enough times to make our eyes glaze over, but I’d never heard it done in Gregorian style, about the only part of the service that was in English. Foliage was everywhere.

The church was a little traditional keepsake box built entirely of timbers — I think the bride told me there was not a nail in it, old country craftsmanship — surrounded by new growth woods north of the city. As we approached it, looking for the entrance, two vultures settled on the roof tree. While we watched, they scrabbled around on the slope of the roof shingles several times, using their wings for lift.

I do not know the significance of this as a wedding omen. I’m going to go with one of those counterintuitive “good luck” things, like the Italian tradition if a bird shits on you. Maybe it’s a thing and they live there like the ravens at the Tower. I’m just kind of afraid to ask.

Something Is Up In The Kitchen

My sweetie was away for two weeks tubing on the Niobrara River and chilling at a cabin on a Maine lake, and all I got was this questionable tea towel.

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(Disclaimer: I don’t travel well, I don’t do togetherness with families much better, and someone had to stay home and feed the cats. I haven’t gotten on a plane since 9/11 and don’t plan to. I was fine with this.)

It’s supposed to be a towel or decorative hanging for Sumo fans. I ask you: is wrestling the first thing you think of,

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or is this gay household porn for guys who prefer chubby guys?

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Vote in comments. I’m not sure what to do with it.

The Haunted Bijoona

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Does anything actually work the way it is supposed to any more? I am on my third washing machine in a decade. My refrigerator, which replaced a sturdy sale model with eighteen years of service, has been repaired twice. And now I have, not only a bijoona, but a disturbingly, authentically haunted bijoona.

This is, to recap, the commode I had installed a shave over three years ago to replace the one that served the first floor of the house loyally for the Biblical three score years and ten. So of course before it was really even seasoned into its job, something had to happen. The eve of Thanksgiving, 2015, in the middle of a wiring upgrade which was supposed to be done by early November and continued till January, The Bijoona suddenly fell prey to an affliction whereby either the bowl would empty completely and not refill, or fill to the brim and decline to drain.

The Engineer, inevitably, was out for the evening rescuing an idiot, a hobby which he has gradually, thankfully abandoned, but that left me here with a holiday weekend, a spanking-new commode sticking out its tongue at me, and the Internet. Hot water was recommended: “Do not use boiling hot water as it can crack the porcelain. The water should be the temperature of the hottest tea you would drink.” These are not thoughts you like to connect to a plumbing fixture. I doughtily boiled water, let it cool, poured, plunged, and wondered idly if the electrician, an ADD poster child who left a trail of tools and personal effects and could never show up when promised, might have dropped his cell phone in there and flushed it. Right about when I hit the brink of despair the goddam thing finally worked. Just in time for the Engineer to get home.

We had one other episode of that, and then, about two months ago, something snapped in the flapper assembly and I had to shorten the chain so that the flap would come up. Not long after, it started running steadily after you flushed; the flapper wouldn’t seat unless you diddled the handle in just such a way, a very tiresome process on which to coach clients, all of whom not only want to use the bathroom but explain, with great specificity, why they need to pee at that exact moment. I got nothing here. I just always assumed that using the bathroom was a given and that you didn’t need to identify the cause (coffee, green tea, honey I really DON’T care.)

One of the clients, a dear man who can talk till my eyes glaze over about the clever improvements he is incessantly making in his own house. insisted on opening the tank and adjusting a screw. “That will fix it,” he announced. Yeah right.

Then, about a week ago, I heard a dire moan: a human, B-horror-movie sound issuing weirdly from the bathroom. Water chugged briefly in the pipes and quit with a squeak. It sounded as if someone had had a disturbing gastric episode.

Every so often it happens again. Marley’s Ghost with diarrhea.

So, has this been the problem all along? I call a business that I trusted and they unload a haunted commode on me, like a British estate agent played by Christopher Lee foisting the psychopompous ancestral property on a clueless American couple? The Engineer says it’s just a pressure thing in the pipes, but he’s an engineer and has to think that way.

I haven’t sat down so cautiously since the rat came up through the U-bend. Updates as they occur.

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*Enjoy the Clancy brothers singing about a haunted privy. These guys were a joy to me in my teenage years.

 

 

Nadia

This was a weird one. A little while back I resumed using a thing called Sleep Wizard which is a speedball of nutriceuticals that accelerates your progress into deep stage sleep. I’d used it for years, then tried some other things that kinda sorta did the trick but seemed to leave me with an unrelieved calendar of anxiety/futility dreams, the kind where you’re trying to dial a phone but it doesn’t work, or you can’t find a restroom anywhere that isn’t too disgusting to even exist. Fortuitously, the company that sells the Sleep Wizard got its operation smoothed out, one of the reasons I’d looked elsewhere. It’s been about a month. I have interesting dreams.  Some of them are almost good.

Last night, I was at some sort of public performance or event, a fairly informal one that seemed to be taking place in a big open room or sheltered outdoor venue, with no seats, just people on the floor. Maybe blankets. Not sure. I am not even sure what music was being performed, but at a pause, famous people in attendance were to be brought forward.

The emcee produced a slender, ethereal woman, clearly old but not hag-like — in fact her features were hard to distinguish, her hair and eyes seemed dark — wrapped in a sort of sari or swaddling so closely you could not really discern arms and legs, and introduced her as Nadia Boulanger. For those who aren’t classical buffs, Boulanger was one of the Grey Eminences of twentieth-century music, composing little in her later life but teaching and directing copiously, mentoring most of the “modern” composers you possibly have heard of: Aaron Copland, Philip Glass, Virgil Thomson, to name a few. When I was young and trying to channel all my mental energy (including melodies that hit me at all hours of the day and night) I asked my father, the hornplayer, if women had ever been composers — you wouldn’t know it from the playlists of the time. He brought up Nadia Boulanger. As far as I know, that’s the only conversation I ever had about her.

But in the dream I was stunned to discover that she was, though aged, still alive (she actually died in 1979), and appearing in public for unclear reasons, other than that it was a musical occasion, at least in part. And suddenly I stood up from my place on the blanket at stepped forward and sank to one knee in front of her, welling over with reverence and joy.

I have no idea what this means. Should I start practicing the piano again? The guitar? Terrifying the cats with my singing? Or found a religion?

Def Not My Workout

But at the end of a freaking surreal year, it may be just the envoi we need here.

Bonus cool: the glass artist, Jen Detlefsen, is the Navy Vet daughter of Secretary of Strip Mining the Interior Ryan Zinke, who does not seem to share her father’s politics.

The Princess Industrial Complex isn’t going anywhere. Instead of fighting against a landslide of pink, I choose to rewrite the narrative of what it means to be a princess, and in doing so reject pink’s stigma as a color of weakness and frivolity. Enter a decadently adorned, glittering space in which femmes of all types are welcome to build strength, backbone and confidence. This journey is just getting started – get your glow on and share how you #liftlikeaprincess with me.

Not really something I plan to try (I am across the street, up six flights of stairs and on the other side of the building from femme, and still remember being the butchest thing and the only chromosomal female at a cookout hosted by a trans woman and her friends). Though I could get behind one of those cast glass kettlebells — two of my favorite things in one package (glass art and weights). If only they weren’t pink. And if only Virginia Beach weren’t at the other end of the state.

May you have the power to lift all your burdens lightly in the New Year.

Deja Poo

Speaking of farting — as in my last, reblogged post, and also in this one — well…

It was sort of the fault of the tortellini. I think. Or maybe the artichoke tapenade. What happened was, as is occasionally the case, the Engineer and I were stuck for a quick dinner, I was woozy with hunger from a long day without any time to eat (sleeping and working out come first), and we did something we often do, picked a stuffed pasta from the freezer and tossing it with some browned bits of vegan sausage, Parmesan and a vegetable relish. This time we mixed two, one with artichoke and tomatoes and one consisting only of coarsely comminuted tomato and garlic. Fergie is crazy for Parmesan so there is always entertainment value in this type of meal; he always gets his share of the grated cheese, and there’s your dinner entertainment. Big salad, and Bob’s your uncle. This was an especially serendipitous combo, with a hearty aroma that gladdened the hungry heart.

The next morning I noticed the house still smelt of it a bit at times — nothing surprising.  I  bucketed off to the gym, and, as one will alone in the car, popped one off at a stoplight — in the arena of cutting the cheese, little more than slicing into a lunchbox Bonbel or one of those square Laughing Cow travesties. It should have been inconsequential, but a rich, Italian-restaurant aroma rose unmistakably from the region of the car seat, accompanied by an eerie sensation of deja vu.

I have only experienced this phenomenon one other time; it involved some Swiss garlic soup that I made thirty years ago, prepared with steamed cauliflower, tomatoes, and two entire heads of fresh garlic simmered slowly to bring out their sweetness, then everything pureed in a blender. It was divine. I ate it for lunch. About nine in the evening, great gong-like explosions of gas commenced, fueled by the indoles in the cruciferous cauliflower. You could have been forgiven for believing I was cooking another batch of the soup. The garlic fumes would have stunned Count Dracula a block away. As I was opening windows a housemate entered and called from the foyer “Wow! Whatcha cooking? Can I have some?”

This was not so explosive, but persistent. I kept slinking around the gym pretending I hadn’t been where I’d been, until I found myself alone in the locker room and just let pressure completely equalize. Of course, that was the moment I heard entering footsteps. Inescapably busted, I winced, then saw that the woman in the doorway was wearing some ridiculous “I’m afraid of the flu” face mask and probably couldn’t smell anything but her own toothpaste.

Saved by germophobia.

There’s some of this stuff left over in the fridge but I’m not sure what to do. It tasted fabulous, but I work with the public.