Archive for February, 2011

Store d’oeurves and Personal Space

February 22, 2011

So I had to go to Costco over the weekend. And it was one of those times where a little old, hair-netted person lurked at the end of every other aisle, foisting food samples onto the swelling masses. Man, I hate that. First of all, how many people really long to taste a 5 centimeter square of chicken sausage? Or some new health drink, or a piece of frozen entree heated in a little toaster oven? Well, if you’ve been thrust into the middle of one of these episodes, you would know the answer is: everyone but me wants to graze on free tidbits stuffed in mini cupcake papers.

Which makes my Costco experience even worse than it normally is. Because all these gluttons clog up the aisles, grabbing samples, cramming their faces, cramming the faces of their kids… and the kids whine for more, or spit it out into the cart. AND YOU CAN”T GET BY THEM. You can’t proceed in a brisk fashion to pick up 5 heads of romaine or a giant container of Folgers. God help you if you want to go down the cheese aisle. That row is Clusterfuck Central.

There are entire families crowded around the freezer section. There are elderly couples moving at the speed of a glacier in front of the Metamucil display. Morbidly obese people are leaning on their carts -I swear, they bend at a 90 degree angle across the handle and support themselves on the sides of the cart – as they clutch at creamsicle bites.

All these people are in my way. And they don’t care. They don’t even notice. They drive down the wrong side of the aisle, or park diagonally across the middle, while they run back to fetch another bite o’ brie. Some of them are yapping on cell phones and are not paying any attention to their squalling children who are playing tag over by the plastic swing sets. I hate them all.

I was raised by a genteel mother. I do not block aisles. I do not leave my cart on one side of the aisle and spend eons considering the merits of the products on the other side of the aisle, thus bringing all cart traffic to a standstill. I let other people go in front of me, even if I have the right of way. I help people in motorized scooter carts reach stuff from the top shelves. I answer questions from others who want to know what to do with edamame, or whether I think that bleu cheese is any good. What!? Do I look like an expert on cheese mold? Or more likely (this is, in fact, UTAH), I probably look literate, and capable of reading the expiration date on the carton.

Though I consider myself a decent human being (most days, anyway), I am a little sensitive about my personal space. I don’t like people in it. I don’t want to deal with their cell phones, kids or BO up close and personal. I smile at the people doling out the samples as I refuse them, but it is all I can do not to snarl at the greed-faces who force me to retrace my steps and come back up another aisle to get to the tomatoes. I just want you to know all this, so if we ever meet up in a Big Box store, you will keep your distance, curtail lengthy greetings, and keep your damn cart out of my way. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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Breaking Good

February 18, 2011

I have always loved dishes… Japanese lustreware, Dansk midcentury modern stoneware, Fiesta ware, bowls with bluebirds, 1930s florals with decals. Years ago, Mr. GG gave me some heavy oval ceramic plates that had been used on a German train. I still use those, especially for summer meals involving steak and corn on the cob. Way back in the 1970s, I fell in love with some blue and white mugs I found in a hardware store in Danville, Illinois. I gave a pair to my Mom and before you know it, we were both collecting the Blue Danube pattern. My sister bought a lot of dishes from someone, and gave me bowls, and demitasse cups and coffee sets for birthdays and Christmases for several years. Mr. GG earned husband points for decades by bidding on a huge collection of plates and serving pieces at an auction in Idaho …. he had gone to buy lapidary equipment, but got into a bidding war with a bunch of old ladies and scored a massive pile of Blue Danube – some of it chipped and broken. So being Mr. GG, he made me jewelry out of some of the fragments. I have a lovely Blue Danube ring, set in a silver bezel.

When Mom died, I inherited her collection of Blue Danube, thus increasing my own to the point where I could probably have a state dinner (you know, if I had the table space, and if I knew enough diplomats. And if I liked them enough to cook for them). Anyway, after I unpacked her dishes, I took a look at all the broken stuff in Mr. GG’s shop, and decided to make something out of it to remind me of Mom. So I got some books from the library, and some equipment frome the home store, and made myself a mosaic topped table. I broke a lot of the chipped china, cemented it to a wood disk, learned to make and use grout, and attached the top to 4 legs I scored from the dumpster at a Museum I was working at, at that time. It turned out pretty well. I thought maybe my sisters and sister-in law would like a table top (I still had LOTS of broken shards), so I made the offer, and they all accepted. Oh geez, I had a new hobby.
Sometimes people ask me what I DO, and I seem to keep busy, without ever showing any huge accomplishments, but this is a concrete result of my activities, so I am showing you that occasionally, I get things done.

This is the original table… but then I started on sister 1. Here is her table.

I wasn’t happy with the way it turned out, there were sharp edges poking out, so I made her a smaller table top.

My sister-in-law loves lighthouses, and I found a lighthouse plate at the thrift store, so I used that to inspire her table.

My other sister is a Pisces, and likes watery stuff, so I thought of crinoid fossils and sea life when I made her table. By now I was spending a lot of time at the thrift store buying dishes to supplement my stock.

Okay. I couldn’t forget the Baby, who needed furniture. I got Mr. GG to grind some dishes into medallions to make her cheery, hipster table.

Since I still had boxes full of dishes, I made myself a top to a stoneware crock of my Mom’s. I use it to hide all the old magazines I stored inside the crock.

I took a break (so to speak), and stuffed all my tile cutting tools, and nippers and dishes in the basement. But one of my friends had a birthday coming up. Okay. Back to the thrift store. She likes florals a lot. Here is her table.

My sister-in-law in Florida wanted one, and she likes orange and yellow. It took me a while, but I finally figured out she needed some tropical looking organic motif. And it cried out for Fiesta Ware. Back to breaking dishes on the patio. But it turned out okay.

Currently my supplies are back in my basement craft room. But if I ever get inspired again, I could make some more mosaic stuff. It is a labor of love, that’s for sure, so I need to have a specific person in mind to make these things. Anyway, sometimes I do stuff besides read books. Here is the proof.

Sanity. A choice?

February 11, 2011

Yesterday I drove 40 some miles to get the oil changed in my Outback. This is not as stupid as it sounds – my car is not a year old yet, and I am still doing the warranty thing. There is a Subaru dealer in this town, but I went there once, years ago, right after we moved here, to have them fix a seatbelt and change the oil. After paying an arm and most of a leg, I tried to drive out of the service department and my steering was gone. Just gone. I barely got the wheel muscled around enough to get back to the parts department where they discovered that someone had removed and not replaced, a cotter pin. I was not a happy camper. I think maybe I raised a fist and said something like, “As God is mah witness, Ah will never bring mah car heah again”. Well, I meant to say that. I probably just gave ole Benny the stinkeye, and hmmphed.

So. Driving to Salt Lake to get my oil changed also provided me with an opportunity to check out the Nordstorm Rack. Where I found a $120.00 Natori black lace and sheer night gown for $12.73. Seriously hot. Flattering. And on Major Sale. Does it get any better than that? I think not.

Except then I spent a lovely time in one of America’s most gorgeous libraries, getting a new supply of stuff to read. I found a reproduction of Sears Christmas WishBooks from the 1950s and 1960s with girl’s toys. Wow. I had forgotten I had a plastic bathinette for the baby doll who wet her diapers (thinking back, I wonder why that was such a desirable toy?). You had to drain the water into a plastic tube into a pail or pan. I also had a toy washing machine that really worked, and a toy oven that really baked. I remember making my Dad a tiny little round cake with the optional Aunt Jemima cake mix, and covering it with a sickly blue frosting. Later the oven was used in our clubhouse to prepare some cuisine that involved earthworms. Eeew. Not going there. The WishBooks had lots of Dale Evans and Roy Rodgers costumes for kids all through the 1950s. With holsters! I used to LOVE cap guns. You could buy rolls of caps at Woolworths or Kresge’s downtown. My brother and I found out you could crank out a lot more explosions by unwinding a foot or so and pounding the caps with a hammer. Oh, those halcyon days of yore. I found out the doll crib and carriage I had as a munchkin cost less than 3 bucks each. And you could get a whole Blue Willow tea set for $1.89. And teenagers in the 60s could buy tapes for their really cool tape players (with a selection of Herb Alpert, the Beatles, Dean Martin and Herman’s Hermits), for their parties.

While perusing the stacks I got another round of books on clutter control. I am trying to motivate myself into purging stuff this year, by reading every book I can on the subject. By now, I could probably teach a graduate course on the reasons we hold on to things, and the emotional, physical and financial cost of clinging to stuff. I could make any number of reasonable suggestions for dealing with clutter of any ilk. However I can’t seem to get started on actually DOING it. So you know what I’m gonna do next, don’t ya? (Please don’t imagine I am going to get off my butt and just wade in….no, no, not Moi). I will go back to the library next week and get some books on motivation. Bwaaahahahaha.

I also got some books on underwear – sewing lingerie, selecting lingerie, collecting lingerie, and a seriously gorgeous coffee table book from the Victoria and Albert Museum with some of the choicest pieces in their collections. It made me want to go to the fabric store and buy silky and slinky material to smock and pintuck, and to master French seams. It made me wonder where I put all my John Kloss nightgowns from the 70s. I thought about deconstructing my favorite DKNY steel gray knit gown, since it is too ratty to wear, but I love it…. I could find some flimsy green stretch knit and see about reproducing it…. I can waste a lot of time on pursuits like these.

I get on these kicks, and read everything I can get my hands on about something, and then I move on. Consequently I know a lot about a bunch of esoteric subjects, which you think would make me a killer Scrabble player, but, no, I have no patience for games.

However, I usually pick up twenty of so books from the library every trip, and I tend to start reading some fiction right away, so I get distracted, and avoid the fabric store, which is good, because then I would have a bunch of material for yet another project clogging my house, which would depress me, and then I would have to go get another book on organizing, depression, or life coaching, and there I am right back where we started.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. I figure I am still sane, cause I don’t expect different results. I just like thinking about different results, and I do have a very rich fantasy life. So all is well, and I still have lots of books to read this weekend. Life is good.

Despots, Linguistics and Richard Engel

February 3, 2011

So, yesterday Mr. GG and I are on the return leg of a trip to Boise, and he’s driving, and I am in the passenger seat, fiddling with the toggle switch that provides me with heated seating. Mr. GG, true to his nature, is in the throes of a soliloquy on national laws about Historic Preservation, and somewhere between Section 106 and Section 110, my eyes drift closed and I start mulling over the situation in Egypt.

My thoughts are not deep – I am considering the sound of Hosni Mubarak’s name. I break it up into syllables and realize you could pronounce it “Hose-Knee Moo-Bark”. Huh. An article of clothing that covers a limb, and the noise two animals make. I try making up other names for tyrants and dictators based on this formula. How about “Sock-Foot Neigh-meow”? You’d have to spell it something like Sogfut NyayMiao. Or maybe “Sleeve-Arm Baa-Quack”? That might be an Irish-Muslim guy – Slievarm Bakwaaq.

This train of though gets derailed into the linguistics course Mr. GG took in grad school, especially the Shoshoni language part of it. I learned a couple of phrases in Shoshoni at that time, much like I learned where the zygomatic arch is, when he took paleo-osteology (FYI, it’s that protruding cheekbone where most cats love being scritched).

That reminds me that I know a few phrases in Greek, some fragments of Irish-Gaelic from a “Learn to Speak Gaelic” 33 rpm vinyl record I had 30 years ago, and my long forgotten courses in Spanish and French. The only time I successfully communicated in a foreign tongue on foreign soil, I was 19, in Brussels, at a train station, panicked at the thought of missing our train to the English channel, because the guy at the baggage check wouldn’t give us our suitcases and knapsacks. In a desperate spurt of irritation, adrenaline and French, I told the guy to give us our luggage right now, or we would miss our train. It was grammatically perfect, and apparently understandable, because he forked over the bags, and we got where we were going.

Mr. GG is still droning on, even though I have ceased making encouraging murmurs, and I go back to thinking about Egypt and Richard Engel. Man, that guy gets around. How does he always get that little curl on his forehead? Do you suppose he carries hair product in one of the pockets on his flack jackets? And right before they start filming, he spritzes that wayward curl to a shellacked perfect comma? Richard Engel is this decades’ Wolf Blitzer. I notice he has been losing some objectivity in Cairo, maybe because (as they keep telling us) he lived there for 4 years. Last night he called the pro-Mubarak demonstrators “goon squads”. Actually, I appreciated that, since the other channels were tip-toeing around the subject – with a lot of “alleged Mubarak police force”, “unemployed young men” (i.e., thugs), and speculations like “my goodness, how did they get those screened t-shirts with Mubarak’s photo, and afford the bus caravans that delivered them to the square?” Huh, at least Richard is showing some genuine emotion tonight, instead of his usual calculated indignation. I wonder if he has a girlfriend. Maybe she is the one who buys him hair product. Nah, he probably has a girl in every port… I mean outpost of civilization. They are probably beautiful native undercover agents who help him find picturesque natives to interview. Somewhere in my musings about Richard, his hair, and his social life, I fall asleep, until Mr. GG wakes me up by dramatically swerving around a monster truck on Interstate 84. It is my turn to drive anyway, so I have some coffee and hit the cruise control. Now it is Mr. GG’s turn to fall asleep, and I segue into alertness, aware that I really appreciate heated seats, my bestie sent us home with an entire New York cheese-basil pizza, and we will make it home in time to give Fuzzbutt her thyroid meds and Prozac. My sense of wellbeing rockets. God Bless America.