The Haunted Bijoona

*

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.

__________________

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

 

 

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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.

 

 

V For Something

Victory, possibly. Or Vendetta. I am not quite sure.

What it was, I was driving down the main drag of South Arlington to the gym, an experience always fraught with idiocy and mundane perils, like the construction site where I turn out of the hood (festooned with a gigantic banner engrossed with the initials ED, which means Ellis-Dale construction but given the humongous crane perched on the hillside, the last thing you want to see suffer Erectile Dysfunction, all I can say is it is a bit unnerving). People weave in traffic. They look cell-phone-dazed. It is half a mile of quotidian horror.

So suddenly there is the staccato blatting of a car horn obviously intended to attract attention, and a black sedan pulls alongside me in a meaningful way. At the wheel is a lady of A Certain Age — and I mean only a tad more certain than mine, I would say high sixties, with the stringy gray-white shoulder-cropped I-quit-giving-a-fuck hair you see on some women her age, waving at me and making gestures that at first I thought added up to flipping me off. Really? Is she a Trumpie who doesn’t like my Hillary Bernie Planned Parenthood bumper stickers? What did I do?

She gunned her car, which I could now see was a Mercedes thanks much, and seemed to be getting the window open, worked her arm out and began waggling it high in the air, the first two fingers of her left hand sprouting into a V sign. The arm thrust, danced, pirouetted with insane zest until she accelerated out of sight.

I can’t think it was just the candidate stickers. The Cthulhu religious fish? The DUKAT 2016 sticker subscribed “Make Cardassia Great Again”? Grumpy Cat?

Either she was a nutter, or someone I’d like to know. Ships in the night.

Oooookaaayyy

So I was on my way to the gym yesterday and ran into a permutation of a recently occurring pattern of clusterfuck, road work compounded with some construction company excavating on the approach to the main road, and had to detour through some narrow neighborhood streets which are staples of my speedwalk route. One of them is slightly obstructed by a large, ballasted basketball hoop and backboard.

On this occasion, there was someone under the basketball whatsit. Only he did not appear to be practicing his shots. At closer approach, I saw a man easily my age — white-haired, at least what you could see under a ball cap, with a wiry runner’s build, cruising a skateboard in circles around the street beneath the basket and holding at present-arms a hockey stick.

Sorry no photos. I kind of didn’t want to slow down.

The Return Of Penguin Woman

“Well that’s fucked,” I said blearily as I opened the front window blinds. “What is?” answered the Engineer, who was walking around the top floor in a pair of workaday khakis and nothing else, kind of rocking the furry barbarian look.

“There is a black sedan obliquely athwart the end of the driveway with its front wheels halfway up on the curb,” I explained. I’m sorry, I actually do talk like that, even first thing in the morning.

We both went out front to look. The hood was cold and no one was inside. “Looks like someone hit the curb, decided they were too drunk to go any further, and bailed,” the Engineer opined.

I hate calling the cops on people for this kind of thing — I have a keen decades-old memory of parking across the end of someone’s drive on a visit to a new friend because, with no car parked there, I genuinely couldn’t see it in the snow — but then, my clients have to park somewhere and the driveway was entirely blocked in. Presently a stocky, amiable, bespectacled guy with a strong Hispanic accent turned up in a county car and ran the plates, to see if the car belonged to someone nearby. I admit that, going on the Engineer’s scenario, I was thinking more along the lines of Julio’s Repose and wondering if I should suggest a search of my property, but it is damn cold for someone to be crashing in the bushes this time of year.

Presently the avuncular parking guy came back to knock on my door. Trailing him was the Penguin Woman of my porch-zoning adventures, who lives three doors down, so called because of her singular observation, when I sought the easement, that she was fine with me building a porch or putting fucking penguins in my yard or whatever I wanted. Probably I pass the butt end of that car every day that I go clock a few miles, but how many black sedans are there in the world? Half asleep, with exploded, brassy-blond hair, bare feet, blowzy and faintly flushed, wearing a long black nightgown with a lacy bib, she looked as if one of the staff at Downton Abbey had been roused from bed because the mistress was ill or a Minister of Something had paid a midnight visit. Somewhat incoherently, she apologized and launched into a disjointed narrative of the electronics had gone out so she couldn’t even get in to the car and she had been coming from the hospital and she had been so upset because what if someone wanted to get out and she was going to call a tow truck.

I don’t know why she didn’t just leave a note with her number on my door before repairing to her residence, but then my previous encounter with this lady was equally incoherent and also featured remarks about being just back from the hospital. I think she has poorly controlled asthma. I really wanted to know how the car came to be cattywumpus across my driveway in the first place, three houses on from her own driveway if she had been coming from the west, and one-eighty from the direction it would have been headed if she had been coming from the east, but I thought that prolonging the conversation was a bad idea.

The Engineer took the subway to work and left me his car, which was fortuitously parked at the curb.

The penguin’s still out there. I doubt she noticed it.