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Midland, Texas, United States
I write. I make stuff.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Floor of Woe

All the old parts of this house--the living room, hallway, two front bedrooms--have oak flooring. At one time, I'm sure it was lovely. Then, at some point, someone did this to them--this is the one in the bedroom we're working on this week--what it looked like this morning when I pulled up the ancient carpeting:
We think that, when they got ready to sell it, they just said, "Screw it," and did the ceiling and painted the walls without putting down a drop cloth and then just covered the floor with carpet, squirting glue for the padding right on top of the floors. So there's the glue, and the ceiling texture, and two different colors of paint. If I could find the people who did this to these floors, I would do horrible things to them.

In the room that became The EGE's study, I rented a huge hulk of a drum sander and sanded the fire out of that floor. But I haven't yet refinished it, and you need to do that after sanding all the finish off. Will I ever get around to it? I don't know--for now, it's covered in layers of bright cotton rugs.

For this room--the room that you're going to help me name--we're not going to use the sander--I don't like taking off the layer of wood, never mind that it also gets rid of all the paint and ceiling texture and whatever else people abused it with. Instead, we're doing it by hand, just gently scraping up the paint and stuff and then cleaning it with Murphey's Wood Oil Soap.

This is the little patch of floor that The EGE worked on on his hands and knees:

PS--I've been trying to upload these photos all day--every time I come out here, I try. Since this photo, we've gotten about half the room scraped and cleaned. We hope to finish after dinner--we have to go buy more cleaner.

Monday, June 25, 2007

You Talk About Your Computer Woes

Goodlordalmighty. It's never-ending. Just when I think it's all done, something else crops up. As you know, I spent much of last week, once we got home at midnight from Santa Fe, setting up Roland, the new computer. It's a nice 2-gig one, with Windows Vista. Ah, Vista! Now, for all my computer questions, the ones that can be handled long-distance, I go to my Computer Guru, Art, my editor at Rubberstampmadness. He knows tons of stuff about computers but, most important, he knows the things I need to know about using a computer the way I use it. Using one for writing and art is different from using one for gaming, for instance. I never watch DVD's on it or play any game other than Solitaire (at which I suck Big Time). And so I knew that Vista still has some glitches, but I also knew that everything is going to be Vista-compatible, exclusively, by 2009. Oh, I know, I know: not if you use a Mac. But I don't. Maybe someday?

Anyway. So I got the computer set up and hooked up my El Cheapo HP printer, the one I use for everyday printing. Then I tried to hook up my Epson, with the permanent ink. And it didn't use a USB cord. So I could either buy a new cord and download new software and wait until the printer died, which they do regularly, as you know. Or I could go buy a newer model of the printer. At $80, I bought the new one and gave The EGE the old one.

I still haven't hooked it up, and I haven't even tried hooking up the old scanner--I had to buy it when I went from Windows 98 to Windows XP. I can hear all you Mac users out there snickering. Quit it! It's not nice!

And the Waycom tablet is hooked up and seems to be OK. And then I went to listen to my recording with Zandra Rhodes, from last week. I'd downloaded it and checked it, but now I couldn't get it to play. So I tried to download it again. And it wouldn't download. And after dicking around with it for about an hour, I uninstalled the DSS software and tried to reinstall it, but it wouldn't let me do that, either. So I heaved a big sigh and thought, well, I hadn't ever really like this recorder, anyway. And so I went out to get a new one. Idiot me, I decided to stick with Olympus and get the newer version. And I brought it home and opened it up and tried to install it AND THE SAME ^%$#@ THING HAPPENED! It froze up on the install. Not once, not twice. . . .

So I'm taking it back and trying the Sony. For today, I was forced to type in here, on Roland, and then get up and go into The EGE's study and listen to the recording on Harold, who liked it just fine. I couldn't listen to the recording on the recorder itself because I can't figure out how to pause it--every time you press STOP, it goes back to the beginning. Grrrrrr. Which is the main reason I don't really like the recorder in the first place.

Plus--does anyone know what THIS means?--every once in a while, when I'm exiting some program or something, there'll be a message that Windows Explorer has stopped working (quit that snickering! I told you that's not nice!) and that it's searching for a solution. and then, immediately, it says it's restarting, and there's a little burp, and then it's fine. It doesn't lose anything, and it's all over in about 10 seconds. Is this one of the glitches they talk about?

Anyway, it's aged me horribly. I'm creaking around the house, kvetching and saying, "Oy vey" and scratching my butt and just generally being a 90-year-old man with a bad attitude. I don't know where he comes from, but he shows up and takes over when things just get too irritating for me to handle. Today I have to take the recorder back and get the Sony, and then I have to try to figure out what's up with the camera's memory card. And decide if I need a new camera--I need one that will take closer detail shots. This one might do that--I guess I need to find the manual and read up about it. But I think it's on the CD, and then I'd have to go out in the storage building and find the CD and put it in and find the section on Stuff This Camera Does. And, sheesh. Can you clear and re-format a memory card? Or should I just buy a new one? Or should I look for a camera that will let me take detail shots?

Will somebody please just come hold my hand? Not the one I'm using for the cane, though. Oy, vey.

Sending Color to Santa Fe

Here's what I did this weekend:
These are the clothes I dyed for Ross, in Santa Fe, and I liked the look of them all in a stack so much that I had to take a photo. Isn't that just so exciting, to see such brilliantly-colored clothes? I don't know about the rest of y'all, but it makes me want to play dress up or something, where I can try on all the possible color combinations--purple with green, or acid green with tangerine, or maybe purple with a turquoise tank. I love color--what else can I say? I'd love to be there when he opens the box. A Box o' Colorfulness: purple pants, acid green cargo shorts, four t-shirts--fuchsia, orange, purple and acid green--and two tanks--tangerine and turquoise. So much fun!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Travels with Clem, Part III: Cutting a Swath of Color Through Santa Fe

What colors do you think of when you think of Santa Fe? Turquoise? Of course. And maybe that deep, sunset pink. And sage green, too. Right? Those "southwest colors." And you'd think Santa Fe would be so colorful that there wouldn't be much that could affect it. But honeys, we did. The EGE and I were The Ambassadors of Color, The Heralds of Hue, The Titans of Tint.

OK. You get the idea. Screw the alliteration.

Everywhere we went, all weekend long, people stopped us to talk about the colors we were wearing. I do not, alas, have photos of The EGE and his purple shorts and fuchsia t-shirt and socks. I do, however, have a photo of me in My Normal Clothes, taken the previous weekend in Mountainair. I look grouchy. Moi? Grouchy? Of course not! It was the sun!
(It really was the sun, in this case; I do, indeed, get grouchy, if you can believe it. I just wasn't at the time, however stern and School Librarian-ish I happen to look. Blame it on all those years of substituting!)

Anyway. So we'd walk along, and people would lean out their car windows and yell, "I love your colors! They're FABULOUS!" and we'd grin and wave and say, "THANKS!" and after a while it did, indeed, seem as if we were The Official Ambassadors of Color. The high point of my weekend--I kid you not, and there were many wonderful moments in competition--was when a woman came up behind me in line at Whole Foods (fabulous store!) and said, "I love your colors. As soon as I saw you, it made me happy." I thanked her (and barely refrained from hugging her, but I wasn't sure she was a Rodney Kingist and didn't want to frighten her) and told her that that's my intention when I get dressed: to make people happy. Namely me, but I didn't say that. I mean--color just makes people happy. I don't know why they don't embrace it more. I give it bear hugs every day. Here's a close-up of the jewelry I wear:
Nevertheless. When we travel, we meet people. Oh! I forgot to tell you about the OTHER thing we do when we travel: find people who know The EGE. Always. When we walked up to the visitor center at Carlsbad Caverns, way up on the hill, we heard someone yell, "Hey! Coach Zachery!" And in the swimming pool in San Antonio. And getting onto the ferry in New Orleans. And in Orlando at Disney World. And, always, at Six Flags Over Texas. So when we left the skanky little cabin That Will Remain Nameless (yes, the refund did come through) in Ruidoso, we were walking down the little street and heard someone yell, "Hey, Coach Zachery!" Of course. And the reason that happens is that The EGE has taught for 30 years, and his family is known here--the baseball field is named after his dad--and he just Likes People. Like, if you meet him? Unless you're just a total jerk of a person, he's going to like you and talk to you and remember you. Me? I can't remember people I'm related to (unless I see their body parts at The Dreaded Wal-Mart), and he remembers EVERYONE. There are only like three people in the universe he doesn't like (hint: George Bush, That Asshole, and a couple other people we never remember because we don't hear their names every damn time we pass a tv.)

Where was I?

Oh. So. Santa Fe. We LOVE this town. We go every June. It was made for us. Or, rather, vice versa. Whatever. All synchronicity and everything. And then, in August, we go to New Orleans. They're as close to being opposite as towns can get. Elevation, ethnicity, climate, things to do: Santa Fe is high and dry and white and rich and arty. New Orleans is low and damp and black and a mix of rich and poor and not so arty. We love both and couldn't choose one or the other. Fires or floods. They both have their Cross Eyed Bear (long story I'll try to make short: my yoga teacher wailed in class one night, after I'd done something particularly egregious (made everyone laugh until they snorted, probably) that I was her Cross-Eyed Bear. Her grandmother (or mother) used to say about things, "Oh, that's just my cross I bear," but Penny heard, "Oh, that's just my cross-eyed bear" and kept checking all her stuffed animals).

ANYWAY. Jesus.

So we love Santa Fe and go every year at the same time and see a lot of the same people and stop and talk and schmooze and make friends. And this year was the best: we get there on Friday--because we leave home on Thursday and drive straight north to Amarillo, Home of the Smell of The Cows, so that The EGE can get up the next morning and go to The Donut Stop and get coconut cinnamon rolls, which he adores. He eats donuts once a year. The discipline! (Oh, but the abs are worth it! Honeys! The abs will make you whimper. Trust me. Some days I worship him. Other days I hate him and conspire to put fat in his food.) On the way there, we stop at this brand-new spanking clean rest stop and have a picnic, so it's all very cool. And then, on Friday, we drive to Santa Fe along I-40. And so we get there and check in to our favorite (way too expensive) hotel, and then we go out walking. And we're in Origins, the coolest store on the planet, and I'm in the back, poking around, wishing I had a MINT of money to spend, checking out the pieces by Carter Smith--our conversations lasted about 4 hours, but I'd never seen his work In Real Life (my loss, as it's FABULOUS), and I heard The EGE greeting someone. Obviously, someone he liked a lot. And I went out, and there were Gypsy Pamela and Her Consort, Ken. We'd talked about meeting in SF, but we hadn't make specific plans, so it was so cool that they just walked into the store and found us. So we spent the weekend with them--we get along so well: Pamela and I are hyper, type A people (although I'm just a pale shadow of her), and the guys are laid-back, calm, chilled-out companions who carry our purses and find comfortable places to sit.

We did the sunset train ride, which The EGE and I love but which Pamela & Consort Ken had never done. What they had missed! And we met people on the train and talked to them. We went to dinner. The next day we did the art show on the plaza and met more people. And went to dinner again (at the same place). Like that. Like Real Life should be. All lovely and full of wonderful people and color and talking and walking and looking at cool stuff. Like that.

And I bought earrings. Lots and lots of earrings. Years ago, when I taught at Art Fiber Fest, a woman in my class had these way cool ear cuffs. When I admired them, she took one off and put it on my ear and told me it was mine. She had bought them in SF. I've worn it ever since. Recently, Paula Best told me she'd designed some jewelry in collaboration with Lewallen and Lewallen, a cool jewelry store in SF. When I looked it up, there were the ear cuffs! So I told Pamela I HAD to go there. And go we did--we went several times, and I bought a LOT of earcuffs--I mean, tons of them. Metric tons. One of each. The last time we went, just The EGE and I, the owner, Ross Lewallen, was there minding the shop, and he and The EGE got to talking about The EGE's clothes (purple shorts, fuchsia shirt and socks), and Ross said he'd love to have more color in his life, esp. since he and his partner are going on a 5,000-mile trip in August. I said, "Let me dye them for you!" Long story short: today a box arrived with t-shirts and shorts and pants and a gift of more ear cuffs in styles I'd somehow overlooked. I can't WAIT to dye things for him. He's just the nicest guy, with totally good vibes and great artistic taste. If you go there, ask to see his Clothespin Goddess pendant and hear the story behind her.

Well. You're getting the idea of our weekend, and I'm getting tired. We hooked up with the owner of a new gallery, and I've been sending him links to some of my favorites artists--some of them were ones he was hoping to connect with but didn't have a connection. And that's my favorite part: making the connections. Oh! Pamela and I fell in love with the work of Magnolia Pearl, when we went to Kristin's to see pieces by Giselle Shepatin, whom I talked to last month; and I came home and looked her up and fell even more deeply in love and called her today. She's FANTASTIC, and we're planning a road trip down I-10 to visit her studio sometime next month. Yowza! Yes, I do know exactly how lucky I am.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I've Been Tagged. Omigod.

I barely even know what it MEANS, but here goes. I'm supposed to tell you seven facts about me. Huh. I guess that doesn't mean things like my social security number and height and weight, although I guess those things might be interesting to somebody--like the purported Royals of Various Foreign Nations who keep sending me e-mail so I can help them import bazillions of dollars, requiring, oh, nothing much: just my bank account access info, my SS#, every single little thing about me down to the scar on my back (which I don't have, so I guess I'm out a TON of money).

You know how you have things you always tell about yourself, the stories about My Life that you hand out to people, as if those facts defined you? Like about being the middle child and never your daddy's favorite, or how you were always picked last in gym and never got a date to the prom, EVER? Those kinds of things? Aren't those just boring as hell once you're over, say, 15? I think so. But i catch myself telling people those facts. If i did that, my 7 Thangs would be:

1. I went to school in 4 states when I was in the first grade.
2. I moved 19 times before I graduated from high school.
3. I'm an only child with no children, which means I have very, very few relatives.
4. and blah, blah, blah--isn't this BORING?

So here are 7 Fun Facts:

1. I'm a former member of MENSA and yet know nothing of any consequence and can't do multiplication tables and have such a horrid memory that I think that, when you let your membership lapse, they come to your house in the nighttime and take away your IQ points until your DP (domestic partner) has to guide you to the toilet and do things like explain the use of toothpaste.

2. I have real trouble recognizing people's faces, but much less trouble with their handwriting or body parts. Ex: I recognized my nephew in line at The Dreaded Wal-Mart by seeing only the backs of his calves. And this is a kid I hadn't seen in months and months. And there's nothing to distinguish his calves from thousands of others. Except to my brain, which appears to be FUTL (sorry, but that means: Fucked Unto The Lord, and I think it comes from Anne Lamott, whom I adore--therefore, you must forgive me.)

3. I actually LIKE the foods that would make other people run screaming into the street: broccoli, spinach in any form, raw oatmeal swimming in unsweetened soy milk, fiber wafers. Like that. My palate is also, apparently, FUTL.

4. There are myriad things I do not like, but the only thing I'm truly frightened of is human puke. Either the action or the end product. Animal barf? No problem! Spiders? Snakes? Blood? Eh. It's nothing, I tell you. But if you tell me you feel nauseated (because you're my friend and you would NEVER misuse the word "nauseous"), I will leave you on the side of the road, lest you actually vomit and force me to kill you. You think I'm joking? The last time I saw someone puke in public, I tried to get out of the car and beat them up. The EGE restrained me, lest they choke and sue me.

5. Color is my life. But you already knew that.

6. I have made myself into a creature who is unemployable and pretty much so odd in every way that if I had to leave my house and love and life, I would have to beg on street corners to be able to afford the aforementioned raw oatmeal and soy milk. I can't remember shit, and I look weird and dress even weirder and have no patience with the things others take for granted (television, popular culture, rude people in stores, politicians, bad breath, laziness, people who watch DVDs while they drive--yes! I saw a guy in a pick-up driving down the busiest street in town with a DVD player on the dash propped against the steering wheel. I was so aghast, I was a worse road hazard than he. But it makes a great story. So there you go).

7. I usually vote in the republican primary so I can help weed out the people I least like. If you know me, you can't imagine that my voter registration card is stamped "republican," when you know I can't tolerate even the democrats as being too weasly and conservative.

Well. That was odd.

And now I'm supposed to tag seven more people? Ack! My friends would kill me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Travels with Clem, Part II, or Bloodshed at The Bates Motel

Whew. I have so much more story to tell, but it's going to be a chore. A chore, I tell you: we just got back from dinner at Casa (that would be Casa del Sol to those of you who don't eat there regularly, as in twice a day in some cases) with David and Keith, the Former Bastard Homosexuals who have now informed me that they must henceforth (henceforth!) be referred to as The Super Gays. Since they're MARRIED. And when they told us this, they did this TOTALLY gay thing where they made fists and bumped their rings into each other, just like Wonder Woman. Or like I think Wonder Woman would do, if I'd ever actually SEEN Wonder Woman, which I have not. Because I am not, sadly, gay. So it seems I've missed out on TONS of important stuff. Alas. But I met their fabulous friend, from Lamesa, which is The Armpit of West Texas. So every time he mentioned it, he'd hold up his arm and point to his armpit, which made me laugh like a goober. It didn't hurt that he's about 7 feet tall, which automatically made everything he said even funnier. I don't know why.

But ANYWAY. Back to the Travelling. I left you with us having departed The Cabin of The Stray Hairs & Miserable Caged Animal Vibes (aka Hillbilly Heaven, apparently) and heading out into the Badlands of New Mexico. They call them this for a reason, and I suspect it has to do with more than just those horrid from hell "toilets" that feature in their rest stops. We travelled many, many miles without seeing but half a dozen vehicles. We were all like Highway Psycho Murderer Movie, thinking what it would be like if some 18-wheeler suddenly appeared out of nowhere and ran us off the road and smushed Merlin into a twisted scrap heap and pulled us from the vehicle and made us crawl and squeal like pigs while they played banjos and sang. Wait. I think that happens only in the mountains. But ever since I read that the majority of long-haul truckers today learned to drive and got their licences while in the penitentiary, I've been a little leery of the whole pumping-your-fist-in-the-air-to-get-them-to-honk-their-horns thing. I mean, really--that gesture could stir up bad memories for them, things you don't want on their minds as they're towering over your vehicle out in the middle of absolutely nowhere. You know?

So it was kind of creepy. Not to mention slow. Very slow. The posted speed limit was 55. As in 55 miles per hour. On a clear, straight road, with nary (nary!) a vehicle in sight for long, long stretches. Many, many miles. And The EGE? Does not speed! Never does! In fact, he once contested a speeding ticket and WON. Yes! Do you know how unlikely that is? But yes. His sterling record (and the fact that the cop lied on the ticket) won over the judge. Hee.

So I said, "Pull over. Let me drive." And after that we made remarkably good time. Not that I'm admitting to speeding, mind you. No. Just a little tail wind, is all I'm saying.

And so we arrived, at long, long last, in Mountainair, New Mexico. Why on earth would we do that, you ask? Because that's where Gypsy Pamela and Consort Ken make their home when they're not out spreading the wonderful wares of the Gypsy far and wide across the continent. This is where they make their home, and this was the weekend of their Open Studio. Which is By Invitation Only. But since The EGE and Gypsy Pamela are their very own mutual fan club, guess who got an invitation in the mail? No! It was NOT The EGE. Ha. It was moi. So when we went up to the secret door and did The Secret Knock, the door was cracked open half an inch, and I shoved the invitation inside. The door closed. Mumbling was heard. Then the door was opened a mere slit, just enough for us to scurry inside before it was slammed shut behind us. And there we were: in the home of the Gypsy. And. Oh. My. God. It was the most fabulous place I've ever been in all my life. And that includes the three-story indoor slide in the house that Gabriel, BH #3, is helping to build, the slide that makes Sparks Shoot Out Your Ass. It was even more fabulous than that.

Oh, the wonders! I'd tell all the details, but apparently I'm going to get to write about it for one of the magazines, so of course I'm not going to give away all the details. What a fool I would be! So let me give you a few tasty little bits: a showroom filled with fabric and beads and buttons and charms and fibers and jewelry and trinkets and kits and samples. Dolls by my favorite Chris Malone (hi, Chris! They're FABULOUSER in person!!). Antique Tibetan furniture. Lamps. Shrines. Velvet. Canopies. There are classrooms and a tea room and a courtyard. Gypsy murals on the walls. Here are but a few of the photos I took. This is a fabulous Day of the Dead Shrine. It lights up. It's full of every kind of doll, many made for Pamela by her friends and fans.

Here's a mural painted on the wall of one of the classrooms.

Here's me shopping, with the light from the skylight illuminating my hair in a way that made the other shoppers request a photo of it in the sun:

OK. That's enough! If you want to see more, you're going to have to stay tuned to Art Doll Quarterly.

OK. So then the open house was over, and we went to the Community Center to see the art show that had been going on all weekend. The EGE and I bought 4 walking sticks from Ruthie's brother and sister-in-law. Now, since I don't know them well and didn't ask if they want to be in My Blog Life, I'll just call them RB and RSIL. That's all you need to know. RB makes these fabulous walking sticks, and he and RSIL are Mormons. And so we got to talking about that, and about religion. Sheesh. There's something about which I don't know squat, let me tell you. I've known Mormons, but never before have I known one who pulled up her t-shirt and showed me her Garment. Whoa. So I got to ask the questions I've forever wondered about, such as: is it true that You People hold The Garment in one hand over the side of the bathtub when you bathe so that it's never not touching you? (No.) She also had other tidbits of Mormon Truth, which were all edifying but meant little to me, religious-wise, seeing as how I'm not. Religious, I mean. Well, not Mormon, either, obviously. Unlike the Unitarian Universalists, I doubt the Mormons have room on their board of directors for an atheist/humanist/Buddhist. But you never know.

So we talked about this, and I said we needed a religion where we could all fit in and feel at home and just basically get along. Whoa! Why not the Rodney Kingists? "Can't we all just get along?" And the secret signal--you know, the sign that you're one of us--will be a hug! So when someone comes up and hugs you, you know they're a Rodney Kingist, just like you! Brilliant! So we all got up and hugged. And then had more wine. Except the Mormons. Rodney Kingists are otherwise very big on wine.

And then, since it was getting late and cloudy and we didn't have a place to stay, RB put me in the sidecar of his Harley and drove me over to the hotel to get a room. The cute little guy there said, oh, yes, they had rooms. Cowboy Rooms. And the way he said it made me go, "Ummm. 'Cowboy Rooms?' And what would those be?" And he said, "Ummmm. Well, they're rooms with, um, a communal bathroom."

"What?" Surely I had misheard him.

"A communal bathroom. Um, like, down the hall?"

I clutched my forehead and propped my elbows on the counter and said, "You mean, like, a bathroom I would have to SHARE?" And the poor little guy nodded, sadly. And I shook my head and said, "No. I'm 50. I do not share bathrooms with people I do not know. I don't share bathrooms with people I DO know, unless they're people with whom I'm having an intimate relationship. Meaning not very damned many." He was very sad. I was very sad. Also disgusted. My. God. Communal bathrooms. One would have expected to have to travel to The Former Soviet Union to have to share a bathroom with strangers. But apparently not. Apparently Mountainair, New Mexico, is far enough.

I get back in the little sidecar, and we whisk back to Gypsy Pamela's to break the sad, sad news to her. And she gets on the phone and calls up The Bates Motel. That's not really the name, but that's what everyone in town calls it, for whatever (we don't want to know) reason. They have a room, so RB whisks me there--mind you, all this whisking is possible because the town has only three streets in it. You whisk because there's no other way to get from one end of town to the other without missing the whole thing entirely.

I walk into the office of The Bates Motel, and the guy grins and says, "So you didn't like the communal bathrooms, eh?" This is what you get when you live in a town whose entire population is smaller than The EGE's immediate family, minus the Mormons. Everyone knows everything about everyone, the minute it happens. You fart, and it's in the town newspaper. If they actually HAD a newspaper, which I don't think they do. I'm shown a room that has a private bathroom, albeit one so very, very tiny that I almost miss it in my cursory inspection. I mean, why quibble? It's the last room in the whole damn town, and it's dark, and I haven't eaten, and it's 100 miles to the nearest other hotel. What choice do I actually have?

We check in, and The EGE immediately begins killing things. Flies. Moths. Mosquitoes. It's like a slaughterhouse. He kills 30 creatures before we even settle in. It's a bloodbath. I keep looking out the window to see if i see Mother sitting in the window, watching. I do NOT take a shower. Oh, hell, no.

We're in the parking lot, unloading our crap. A lot of crap, of course, even though we leave most of it in Merlin, knowing ahead of time that this is a place we won't be staying more than one night. And as I'm hauling a suitcase up the gravel drive, the manager comes out and says, all apologetic, "I'm sorry, but your toilet's broken; and so you're going to have to use the communal bathroom right over there. . . ." He can't suppress his delight at this little joke and begins to snicker.

That's when I slugged him.

Travels with Clem, Part I, or The Screaming of the Peacocks

Originally, the idea was to take my mother's ashes, on June 9th, which would have been her 81st birthday, and scatter them on a mountain in Ruidoso, one of her favorite places in the world. I changed my mind, for a lot of reasons. Since my mother had become pretty much a hermit in her later years, I wanted to take her on trips. And since she didn't really have a lot of fun, I wanted to take her on trips and imagine her enjoying them as she might have if she'd had a different life. Although she didn't have a lot of apparent sadness (other than the divorce from my father, which she never got over) or tragedy (other than the death of her parents, who both lived to around 80), she looked at her life as one of sadness and lack and loneliness. I have some photographs of her, before she married at 17, and I like to imagine what kind of life that girl might have had, had she made different choices. Of course, if she hadn't married my dad, I wouldn't be here--so it's MUCH better to imagine those choices, rather than to wish she had actually MADE them. Selfish me. So, for at least a while, we're going to be taking my mother on trips and giving her adventures. "Clem" is what my father called her--a nickname from her youth. I think her friends called her "BJ," since her name was Betty Jean, but I'm not even going there.

So. We didn't plan to scatter the ashes. But we did plan to spend the day climbing around the mountains, "hiking," if you will--given that neither of us is big on spending huge amounts of time in the wilderness, liking, as we both do, things like running water and flush toilets and an absence of insects. Thank god I didn't fall in love with some mountain man.

I'd made on-line reservations in a cabin that looked promising. I won't give the name here unless the refund isn't posted to my account by the end of next week, so check back. Oh. Did I say "refund"? Well, yes, indeedy, I did. I'm getting a little ahead of myself here, though, am I not?

OK. So I picked this particular "cabin" because, in the photos, it had a lot of floor-to-ceiling windows and what looked like a deck. I was imagining throwing open the windows in the evenings, to get the cool, pine-scented air, and sitting out on the deck in the mornings with a cup of coffee and a book.


When we drove up to the "cabin," after a long day of driving along New Mexico's back roads with their notoriously-foul rest area restrooms (read: big hole in ground with toilet perched over it), my heart fell. Rather than a cabin sitting in the middle of a nice quarter acre lot, surrounded by pine trees, we got a little house on a tiny, cramped lot, surrounded by other tiny, ugly houses and, omigod, TRAILERS. Plus, right up against the fence, within 6 feet of the walls of our rental, were two cages. One held four dogs, and the other held a peacock and two peahens. The cage was too small for the peacock to turn around in when his tail was spread, and since mating was going on day and night, his tail was always spread, and you could hear his lovely feathers scraping against the chain link fence. It made me ill. I hate cages. My mother hated them even more--she couldn't even stand to keep animals indoors--she believed they needed to be free--we argued about this all the time.

And the screaming. Have you ever heard peacocks? Or the hens? I don't know which it was, doing the bloodcurdling screaming. I didn't watch them. It wasn't only the cramped conditions and the scraping of the feathers, but the mating. I'm not one for watching other creatures have sex. It's not--to my mind, fool that I am--a spectator sport. And since mating was what these pea-animals were all about, there was no watching them, but there was no ignoring them, either. You're sitting at dinner, eating a cracker and some cheese, when suddenly AIEEEEEEEE! It sounds like someone being murdered. I'd leap straight up in the air, sucking cracker crumbs into my windpipe. And then again. And again. And in the night. And early in the morning. Over and over and over.

Then the inside. It wasn't bad, but it just wasn't right. The inside would have been OK if the outside had been in a big patch of wilderness. Then I could have opened the windows and aired out the odor of food rotting in the inoperable garbage disposal. Maybe I could have ignored the hairs everywhere--in the bathmat, on the bedspread, on the pillow shams. I slept wrapped up in a sheet from my suitcase. What? You don't take a sheet and blanket and pillow with you when you travel? Please!

But what I did first, right after I climbed the ladder to the loft and stopped halfway up when I saw this:

was to get on the phone and call the man and tell him I needed a refund, that I had to leave. The EGE said this wouldn't work, since the credit card had been charged for the full fee two weeks earlier. But it did work--I told him that I just couldn't stay there, that the cages and animals and screaming of the peacocks was just too much. The vibes were too bad, I told him.

We left the next morning, driving north into the barren badlands. That will be Part II.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I Choose Not to Embroider the Wrinkles

Here's the piece I finished in the truck on the highways of New Mexico. It's the piece I talked about working on after I read Bodies and Souls: The Century Project. The text tells about how scary it is to take photos and work with images of yourself naked when you've made the commitment to do it and not Photoshop the picture and not erase the wrinkles or put a little black box over your body or make yourself look not naked and to think about what being naked really means--it means showing who you are without the costume. Me, without a costume. What a concept. Just to be your self. Your Self.

Was it scary? You betcha. Is it scary to put this here on my blog? Duh.

Oh, Honeys! I Have Soooo Much to Tell You! But First. . . .

We just got in about 11 last night from New Mexico, where we had many adventures and spent time with a bunch of wonderful people. I rode in the side car of a motorcycle, started a new religion, had dinner with The Fabulous Arley Berryhill, fell in love with the most amazing studio EVER, and--well. Whew. My head is buzzing, and I'm trying to play catch up, since we leave for Santa Fe on Thursday. But for right now, before I go out to run (yes! I've resumed running after a long hiatus!), I'm posting photos of this week's give away--and this time it IS NOT a tiny, tiny little thang. It's a big (men's XL) soft, worn workshirt, just begging to be altered in many, many ways. Think studio smock! Think padded and quilted jacket! Think The Perfect Artist's Shirt (the perfect shirt? or the perfect artist? you decide!)

And check out the wonderfully frayed collar!

You want to play with it? Post a comment--but hurry: I'm going to send it out on Thursday, before we leave. And next week's giveaway? It's fab, too--I've already got it picked out. Unless I find something even more fab in Santa Fe, where I once bought a peach silk skirt out of the back of a station wagon at the Flea Market. . . .

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Happy Day, Sweeties!

Congratulations to David and Keith, who, at 4 pm Eastern time, will be married in Canada, our more civilized northern neighbor. Hooray! And aren't they just the cutest? This is my favorite photo of them:
And this is pretty fabulous, too:
Then they tried to do the Straight Christian Newspaper Photo--it was hard for them to do this with (snort) straight faces:
Then they kind of reverted to their usual selves (Keith's checking the neck for firmness, of course):
And then The Real BH's:
Wish them many, many years of joy!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Oh, honeys! Saturday was a FABULOUS day! You know I'm not big with the shopping, yes? There are all those wonderful blogs where people go buy cute little things and find treasures and then post photos, artfully taken in their well-decorated homes, and they tell where you can go and find these things for yourself, and everyone raves about the shopping and the vintage treasures (I want to slap myself every time I succumb to using "vintage" instead of just saying "way old").

Those are so not me. I don't like to shop. I don't go out hunting with my girlfriends. I don't arrange whole days for garage sales and flea markets. My one weakness is estate sales, because--this is probably a sad thing to admit--I adore looking inside other people's houses, especially really old (vintage) ones. So The EGE and I will actually look up estate sales in the newspaper and make an effort to go. We often forget to actually get in the truck and drive there--Saturday is, after all, Yard Day here at the Voodoo Cafe. And we did spend this Saturday, at least the afternoonish part of it, out in the yard, pulling up tiny trees and hacking up tired bamboo and attempting to train our riotous trumpet vines. And then going out for a lovely dinner, just the two of us, at Johnny Carino's, where we had--guess what! If you've been paying attention, you all said in unison, "Jalapeno Garlic Tilapia! Duh."

But in the morning, we went to an estate sale. Sadly, it was not in someone's house. It was in a warehouse. But, not sadly, it was run, in part, by someone who knows us. We aren't sure why, as we don't think we know her. But we're ever so glad she knows us. She made deals on all kinds of things that I loved but would never have bought at the prices that were marked. I have, after all, just ordered a (shhhhhhh!) n-e-w c-o-m-p-u-t-e-r and bought a shiny new monitor, so I am not really into the whole spending-of-more-money thang, let me tell you. But look at this! First off, I found a stack of old (that would be VINTAGE!) yearbooks, from the 50's. (Shit. That would mean that I am vintage. My,my.) She sold these to me for $10, total. Whoa.

Then I went into another room and found these.

Do you know what they are? I didn't, either. They're the boxes straight razors came in. I have no idea how old they are, but they're very cool and funky and so nicely worn (because they're vintage!), and I got all 16 of them for $15. AND--they're the perfect size for two pens! That's the reason I wanted them, theoretically. Actually, they were just too damn cool to pass up.

And here's the coolest thing of all. I missed it the first couple of times I went around the building (there were 5 rooms of stuff, much of it china and knick-knack stuff that doesn't interest me at all, not to mention the totally wonderful-but-not-for-sale French couture, see yesterday's post), and then I saw it and thought, no, that doesn't say what I think it says. I went up for a closer look, and yes, indeed:

Here's the side panel.

And here's the inside:

Aren't these just the coolest?

I have no idea how old it is. I have no idea if the dye will still work (you can bet I'm going to try it to find out, though!). It was like it had been made and put there just for me, The Dye Queen! But the price tag--o, my: $95. I am not in the habit of paying that much for something I so totally do not and never will need. Eeeek. Did I by any chance mention that I just ordered a new you-know-what (I typed that up above and my computer, Harold, immediately shut down Internet Explorer and closed out blogger. Thank goodness for the new automatic save feature. Anyway, we won't be talking further about The Huge New 2-Gig Machine until it's safely set up and Harold feels at home in The EGE's study. Shhhhh.).

Anyway, anyway, anyway--so I was disinclined to spend that much on this totally way cool metal cabinet of dyes. I asked This Woman Who Knows Us, this lovely woman who, unlike The Other Woman Who Did Not Know Us, was not trying to squeeze every bleeding penny out of every purchase, if she wanted to get rid of this. Indeed, she did. She marked it down to $40 for me, and I snatched it up.

OK, not really. I had them put it aside for me, because by that point I'd run up a total of $77, and they took only cash and checks. I no longer ever carry a check book--I mean, what for? (Apparently: for estate sales.) And I don't carry lots of cash, because then I just end up spending it. Duh. So we had to secure my little stash behind the check-out table and make a run to the ATM machine, where this young man--so very, very young--in Malcolm X glasses and dreds flirted outrageously with me. Normally I'm very suspicious of people around me at the ATM machine, since we practice ATM Courtesy, in which we stay a Really Polite Distance from anyone using the machine, so as not to scare them with our tattoos and weird hair (that would be me) or our scary blackness (that would be him). You wonder at this? Back in the days (not so very long ago, on some models) before all cars had automatic locks, we could walk across a parking lot and watch women in cars see us and lean over lickety-quick to lock all their doors. We'd giggle like goobers.

Anyway, anyway, anyway, so this adorable guy was asking about my tattoos and telling me that my hair was "so fly and sexy" and how my husband must be so proud of me because I'm such a beautiful woman (no, he didn't ask for any money! shame on you!), and I just wanted to pinch his cheek (on his face, dammit!) and tell him his momma had raised him right, to bring such joy to old women. It was just delightful, never mind that I could easily have been his grandmother. The best part was when I told The EGE about it, back in the truck, and he snorted. This is his version of total all-out jealousy. Since he never gets jealous, this is as close as it gets. Never a bad thing for a man who's been married for 30 years to have a young guy flirt with his wife. . . .

So we get the cash and go back and buy the loot and bring it home. And like my anal-retentive days of old, I haven't done a damn thing with any of them until I took photos and showed them to y'all. Isn't that pathetic? You know it is. But I'm so fly and sexy you won't even notice my pitifulness. Or my vintage-ness, either.

Monday, June 04, 2007

This Week's Giveaway

I meant to post this this morning, but the day hasn't been my friend so far.

I got this dress at an estate sale Saturday. I meant to write all about it but haven't had time. Anyway, this dress is lovely--very well made, nice fabric with no problems that I have found. It's too small for me; I'm guessing that it's an 8 or even a 6, but the OLD sizing, which would be like a 6 or a 4 today. I can wear a size 8 in some things; I couldn't get the zipper up past my waist in this. On me, it's floor length. It could easily be hemmed up, I would guess. If I were keeping it, I'd take off the bow in the front.

Here's the deal: it may be something fabulous--the coats that were hanging with it were amazing. A black velvet opera coat. A lamb coat with some kind of soft, soft fur at the collar, cuffs, and hem--the woman grabbed them from me and said, "Oh, these aren't for sale!" She said the coat was vintage Schiaparelli, and that if I wanted to pay $500 for it (the coats were all marked $5), I could have it. I laughed. Perhaps to make up for being, oh, let's just say "less than lovely," she said I could have the dress for $10. I sniffed and said, "Um. No." And she quick-as-a-breath said, "Two dollars." And I said, "OK." So even though it may not be famous, it comes from good company, apparently.

It may be satin--I'm not great at telling these things. There's some boning on the sides of the bodice, and there's a full net underskirt sewn in (which is why the skirt part looks really poofy). Back zipper. This would be fabulous dyed a great color and worn to a party. Or as a vintage wedding dress! I'd love for someone to get it and do something with it and actually WEAR it. I, obviously, cannot.

If you think you might be able to wear this and want it, post a comment and tell me what you'd do with it. I'll pick someone by Thursday--maybe Wednesday evening. And if you want it, please be sure to check back and find out if it's yours--I'll need your address to send it out Thursday before we go out of town.

Friday, June 01, 2007

And the Winner Is. . . .

GAIL! Please get in touch with me @ to give me your mailing address. If you do it right now, I can send this out today!