Saturday, August 01, 2009

Old is Better
I went to an antique store today. Mostly because my sister is out of town and I promised to look after my mom while she was gone. Wandering through an antique store seemed like a safe option for doing something she'd find interesting while doing the best to preserve my sanity.

Antique stores are my favorite stores of all. Even more than bookstores and music emporiums, I love exploring a good store full of treasures. I love things with a history and given a choice between brand-new or one-of-a-kind I will always go for the story. So for me antique stores are like heaven. A cross between a museum and a candy store. I can get lost for hours turning the pages of yellowed books, looking at cast-off photos of other people's long-dead ancestors.

This one particular store was full of wonderful items albeit a bit pricey, though I did buy a vintage bow tie for Husband. But it confirmed for me that when it comes to shopping I either want nothing or I covet the most expensive item in the store. There was not an item there under $300 that I wanted for myself. I saw some vintage postcards a friend would probably love, and a poster for the 1898 Cal vs. Stanford big game that my pal, the Lurker, would no doubt squeal over. But for me? Everything I wanted was way out of my range. The gorgeous restored 1930s radio microphone ($800). The beautiful roll top desk ($1200). The completely impractical French vase, gilded in silver (a mere $8000). I fell in love with a Navajo bracelet of silver and turquoise ($295) and an Art Deco chandelier ($1200).

I tend not to spend a lot of money on myself, at least I hope I don't. Especially now when I'm not working. My only extravagance these days is on toys and other tools for cat duty (catnip, treats, balls). And that is, very much, for me. But my expensive tastes means that when I get to shop for myself, I either want absolutely nothing or I want a pony.
Photo of the day: LionDogs

I suppose they're lions. But they also, kinda look like dogs. And they have big butts. I guess they're tails. Anyway, they look like the kind of thing you'd see on Antiques Roadshow where you say "who would buy that?" and then find out they're worth $50 grand.

Friday, July 31, 2009

I Love My "Job"
No pay. No benefits. But I love it.

OK, that's wrong. I get paid in purrs and head butts and the benefits bring more pleasure and satisfaction than I can express. I don't know why people don't have to pay to do what I do.

There are days when I miss money. And I do worry about the future. But on days like today, when a big orange tabby falls asleep in my lap; when a little grey kitten covers my face in kitten licks; when I give a cat who hasn't been out of his cage in days 30 minutes of freedom and love, it's the most wonderful gig in the world.

Every day when I go to the shelter I smile as I walk in. And by the time I walk out, I have a bigger smile. Oh, and in between coming and going, I'm smiling.

I feel guilty sometimes for not working. For making poor Husband earn all the money. For not pulling my share of the work in keeping us in rent and groceries. I feel like volunteering with the cats and kittens is the most selfish thing I've ever done. But right now, I'm also the happiest I can remember.

Sorry for gloating. But I love my "job."
Photo of the day: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

Does anybody really care?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Scenes from Silver Creek: Mrs. Murchison

Mrs. Murchison lived down the street from us in the only house I’ve ever known that was painted black. Contrary to this dismal impression, she was a sweet and friendly woman who knew, and actually liked, all the kids on the block. Hers was always the first house you went to on Halloween because she had full-sized Hershey bars for the kids on the block, not those little mini-bars everyone else gave out.

She lived alone and, to my knowledge, nobody had ever met Mr. Murchison. Her only companion was a fat orange tabby named Red. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that I realized what I thought was the longest-lived cat in history was, in fact, a series of look-alikes that she gave the same name. What can I say? I’m a little slow.

Mrs. Murchison had a showplace of a garden and could usually be found in her yard, in a faded white Gilligan hat and wearing purple gardening gloves. None of us could ever figure out where she got purple gloves, but she always had them. I remember as a child that she came to our Brownie meeting and taught us how to make “sit-upons.” This was something you sit upon while gardening. It was a stack of old newspaper tied with string and covered with a water-resistant fabric. All of us brainwashed Brownies dutifully made sit-upons for our poor mothers. I know for a fact that mine was never used as my mother’s idea of gardening was making sure the Christmas tree was taken down before New Year’s Eve.

But Mrs. Murchison, on her sit-upon, would spend hours in the garden, singing Beatles songs off-key to her Camilla bushes and calling her shrubs by name. She would often let us kids name her bushes and trees for her and I christened her dwarf lemon tree “Jerry.” “Jerry’s looking happy today,” she’d observe as she fastidiously checked for any harmful, wayward insect unlucky enough to cross her property line.

Mrs. Murchison would travel often, to far off places like Salt Lake City and Houston. She knew I loved postcards so she would frequently send me mail from her trips, always signed “Mrs. Murchison.”

Sadly, she died when I was in high school. Her house went to a distant nephew; it was sold and painted robin’s egg blue. And I heard the new people only gave out mini-sized candy at Halloween.

The odd thing about Mrs. Murchison is that nobody ever knew her first name.
Photo of the day: Stump

Yeah. Not much else to say, is there? It's a stump.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Scenes from Silver Creek: The Pool

There was no public pool in Silver Creek and I never know anybody who had one well enough to get invited to their house. We also lacked the old swimming hole, a nearby lake, or anyplace else to take a dip. Silver Creek had stopped being much of a creek long before there was any real town. But Tiny Muddy Gulch Out By the Burger King is a bad name for a town.

But there was a pool at the high school, just down the block from where we lived. We lived so close that I could be scrambling into clothes in my room, hear the 10 minute warning bell for first period, and still make it class on time. And on hot summer nights, when I slept with my window open, I could hear the boing-clunk of the high dive as someone braver than I climbed the fence and went for a swim.

There was a 15-high foot wall around the pool, topped with about another 6 feet of chain link fence. But the design of the wall had this diagonal pillars that were perfect for scrambling up, like walking up a tilted palm tree for the cocoanuts above. So you scrambled up on the side where the chain link met the side of the boy’s gym, crawled under the bit someone had cut out years ago, and hopped down onto to bleachers.

When I was a kid I would dream about that pool. Apparently I had very dull dreams as a child. But I invested it with all the glories of every poolside oasis you can imagine. Why I thought a high school pool had lounge chairs beach balls, I have no clue. But it my small-town mind it seemed so enticing. And so daring to sneak in.

Imagine my disappointment freshman year when I saw it was just an ugly L-shaped pool surrounded by cracked concrete and smelling highly of chlorine that always needed to be changed. The high dive, however, was infinitely higher in person. Terrifyingly high. Empire State Building High. It would be impossible for anyone to go off that thing and live. You’d have to be Evel Kinevel.

For four years of high school I endured freezing first period swims when the pool hadn’t been heated all weekend. I shivered in the lukewarm showers after. I ran to second period with wet hair, smelling all bleachy from the pool. And I never went off the high dive. Me? No way. In spite of rampaging hormones and my perpetual lack of a boyfriend, I didn’t have a death wish. Oh sure I’d seen people dive and live. But they were miraculous people. Cheerleaders. Football players. Girls with breasts. Boys without acne. The kind of kids who always run out of pages in their yearbooks for people to sign. The indestructibles.

But I was a fringe kid, and fringe kids are always delicate. We do not survive jumps off the high dive. I know, because my mother, the Queen of Doom, told me. “Don’t jump off the high dive, it’ll kill you.” Gee, thanks mom. Way to boost the confidence there.

Of course in my senior year, emboldened by a stole bottle of Boone’s Farm Apple Wine and egged on by my best friends, I clambered up the slanted pillars, climbed under the fence, jumped onto the bleachers, walked with trembling legs to the high dive and started up the ladder. I climbed for a month and a half. And then I stood there for another month and a half. Babies were conceived in the time I stood there. We got a new mayor. I grew my hair out a full 2 inches. My friends went away to college and got majors.

You could see my house from up there, which made it worse. I knew it was too far to my mom to see any features on the fool kid about to drown herself. But with mom radar, I couldn’t be entire sure that she was’t aware. Stupidly, I waved. Like what? I thought th chimney might bow down and bless my last stupid act on the planet. I a\imagined the police and maybe a clergyperson or two coming to break the news. Mom clutching her apron and weeping into the Kleenex she always had up her sleeve; her paroxysms of grief lessened by her ability to add “I told her if she went off the high dive she’d die and I was right! Wasn’t I right? I’m right and she’s dead.” Great fun for her, no so much for everyone listening to. Meanwhile my dad would wander vaguely around the house, looking at family photos in the hopes of putting a face to this supposedly thoughtless dead daughter that he cannot quite, at this minute, picture.

But, alas, the joyous speculation about how my funreal goal (I really wanted a horse and carriage) I knew I had to do something and do it soon. Why? Because I really needed to pee and I was determined NOT to climb down that ladder,. That struck me as the nadir of loserville, climbing up Everest and then come slinking down the ladder of shame while your friends laugh and snap Polaroids that prove you wussied out.

So I stood for a couple of minutes more. Our country invaded some other country. My friends in college had already graduation and had two kids I’d hope one was name after me so that at least my would be remembered,

I took a my last huge lunful of sweet, well chlorieney, air walked with as much bravado as 17 year old can muster, and jumped.

And, what do you know? Mom was wrong.
Random Catchin Up Bits
--Harry Potter vs. Voldemort rap:
--American Cancer Society Cake
-- My new favorite time waster Totally Looks Like
Photo of the day: One Poppy, Two Bugs

I can identify the flora, but the fauna defeats me. I thought they were ants but they had a blue tint and tiny wings. And, ultimately, it's not important, is it? I mean it is to them. Me, I couldn't care less.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Photo of the day: In My Mother's Garden

In my mother's garden are lots of plants that freak me out. This doesn't. I love the color and it doesn't give me the screaming willies.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Photo of the day: Gardening Tools

In my mom's backyard. They've seen some action, over the years. I think the rake is older than I.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Photo of the day: Rocks and Trees

Trees and rocks.