Friday, November 30, 2007

Willow fun

Thanks to global warming, the two willow trees in the back yard are just unloading their leaves.

The shot at left is a stock photo, but that's basically what they look like. All those leaves are like little paper sardines, sardines that avoid rake tines or the 220 mph blast of a leaf blower with ease. And when they drop in the fall, or early winter, they also bring with them branches, long, whip-like strands that don't get past the rake, but do manage to clog it all up. What this means is, essentially, a nightmare. Sure they look good in the summer, if you don't count the small, black, bloodsucking bugs that hides on the leaves, and sure, they drink a ton of water, which saves the back yard from becoming a lake (usually). But cleanup is indeed a bitch, and the only efficient way I've found to rid the yard of leaves is to go over them all with the bagger on the back of the mower. This is a tedious process (believe me, and I've done it twice this week), because you can walk the width of the yard about three times before you need to empty the bag, and that, even for a relatively small yard, is a lot of stop and go. And chances are, I'll have to do it again soon. Ahh well, so it goes.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cookie madness!!!

I don't have my camera handy, but here's what the latest fortune cookie said -"Your luck is just not there. Attend to practical matters today." So the streak is born, or continues, or whatever. The cookies are out to get me. Why? Because I'm fat? It's not like I'm eating a lot of cookie brethren (although if the pasta and beer armies get together, I'm done). And if you think it's just paranoia, consider this - last Saturday night, the Steve Greene Trio is at the Little Theater. Along with Steve, Dave Arenius on Bass, there's me (Also Tina Albright, a really great vocalist, and a few other players) on guitar. At the end of the night, I go to get the tip jar and tally up what usually amounts to donuts for my kids the next day (at least with my share). As the jar tips sideways, the dollars fall out, the coins bounce on the table, and finally, out drops the remainder of a mostly eaten m&m cookie. Now, counting tips is never the highlight of the evening, since you're bound to be disappointed, but after this new low, I am convinced I have something to offend the cookie gods, and they are out for blood. What have I done? I don't know. I don't eat cookie dough ice cream (dulce de leche is so much better), I don't eat the cookies I put in the kid's school lunches, so what, what is it, what have I done?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sweet! School is out and the kids are home!

If you're a parent like me that stays at home with the kids, you just rolled your eyes in disbelief. And yes, it was sarcastic. Why? Right now, the knuckleheads are watching Gidrah the Three Headed Monster, one is eating chicken nuggets, the other a hot dog. Oh, and they are fighting over something. Like they did earlier over chess. Three days off, then the weekend, enough to toss the sleep schedule out the window, and though they'll eat better, at least at lunchtime, that's a minor plus. The house will get messed up, as any efforts to inculcate them on the benefits of cleaning will go unheard, and with an increase in cartoon viewing, they'll both turn into little ninjas, which puts various and tender parts of my body at risk (sayonara to your sister, boys).

Another plus is the onslaught of xmas, which means more toy advertising, more displays, and good god, probably another local radio station playing christmas tunes 24-7. I am sure the baby jesus will be rolling over in his grave. Ahh, more fights downstairs, time to motor.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Here comes thanksgiving . . .

And sure, everyone is excited. Well, except for me, and perhaps people stuck in airports. As the years go by, I feel less like being in a Norman Rockwell scene and more like my mom, who denies all invites, and spends the time alone at home. No pressure, no worries. And it's the pressure that's getting to me, not a heavy, in your face kind of influence, but a more subtle swelling. Many people in town tend to orchestrate their front lawns and the visage of their homes to resemble a Hallmark scene - you know the type, overwhelming displays of smiley faced disposable items, the influx of those horrid inflatable globe units that shake like Parkinson's as they spew Styrofoam pellets over snowmen or reindeers or ghosts or whatever. And soon there will be a story in the local rag about some homeowner who has lost his noggin, and installed tens of thousands of colored lights around his home for Christmas, and set music to it, and pissed off some neighbors in the process. It makes good copy, and everyone chuckles, but it has gotten to the point, for me, anyway, that it's like the support the troops magnetic ribbon you see on the backs of suv's that get poor gas mileage. It has become a means of branding, and the more extreme the displays, the more extravagant the light show, the more the displayer becomes a substitution for the message (cue Linus on stage for the basics), and how less important the meassge becomes.

But prior to the light show, is thanksgiving, a glutton fest, where people eat turkey for that one time, watch football, and ponder getting up at 4 in the morning to make it to Wal-Mart in time for the opening of the doors. And there is stress to be had, for sure, because it's a meal that's hard to back out of, with people you may or may not want to be with for a long period of time. The most common retort you'll hear when any objection is voiced, is that, sheah, it's only for one day. No argument there, but maybe we could change the menu. Maybe make a Big Mac the centerpiece, or only eat crappy food, loaded in fat and sugar and all the things that aren't good for you. Imagine, "Who wants another piece of Whopper?," or "Can you pass the Snack Wrap?" That would free up turkey for more days during the year for meals, and slowly kill the fast food industry. Maybe people would be more concerned with each other, and not just a once a year cooked bird. Maybe instead of storming the aisles at supermarkets like rabid dogs, people could just relax, and not make, ah, what the hell am I thinking? Nothing will change, and we'll all bemoan how fast the time is going by, that Christmas is just around the corner, and I've only got a little time left to check my strings of lights and get them nailed up to the gutters.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

DIY hell

It's a bitterly cold November day, with the temperature hovering at around 60 degrees. Yes, 60, in upstate New York (upstate as in close to Canada). If the weather stays like this, Santa's sled will cut through rooftops like a hacksaw, and all the Jewish kids can laugh at their neighbors. But the weather is slated to change, and a backyard project of a brick is mostly done. I say mostly, because it's not level, the side supports aren't whacked down, and it's about as level as the ocean. In the spring, it seemed like a good idea. The missus got a screaming deal on lots of bricks, and all that was left was grunt work. So I scoured the web, read books, and it should have been a cakewalk. Maybe it was because I skipped shop in middle school, because the hulking instructor was too intimidating, talked of big guns, and the room not a happy place to be. And maybe I'm just a fuckup, and can't do simple things like measure. In any event, I'll have to fix it in the spring. Part of the problem is the bricks aren't all the same size (length or width, and I'm not talking small differences here, but rather large ones). I am sure there are many other problems, that a man like, oh, Norm Abrams of The New Yankee Workshop could spot in a second, but that I would never see. And so, I understand a DIY project now as not unlike a carnival barker, selling the headless woman exhibit to you, but once inside, you're on your own. And I have this horrid, turn your homework in a month too late, and sloppily done feeling in my gut, and it's not pleasant. As a going away present from the bricks, while lifting the last six over, about a foot from the ground they all came loose, and smashed my 3rd and 4th fingers on my right hand. Take that, neophyte. So the bricks are after me too, as well as the cookies.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Even the cookies have it in for me . . .

So I got some Chinese takeout for lunch the other day, and after it all, there it was, the little fortune cookie. No biggie I thought, just wondered if it was either vanilla flavored or more on the citrus side, or either from Queens or Brooklyn. So as I am watching the Daily Show from the previous night, I eat the cookie, and then check the fortune, which, obivously, is what's above. I'm still trying to think what it is that I have done, but let me tell you, it's kind of unnerving to have your life questioned by a cookie.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Not much of interest is happening here lately. Got to drive at night tonight, and saw the first few random flakes in the headlights. For some perhaps, it's an ominous sight of things to come. For me, it's white rain. And driving through snow at night has always been a star trek moment. People around here itch at the cold weather, but forget that it was way warm into November. Now that the weather has turned colder, it'll be a few months of bitching from everyone. It's too cold, or it's too snowy or whatever. No one talks about the way the moon reflects off the snow, or how quiet it is at night, or how the snow crunches and makes you feel young. They'll bitch about heating bills, about kids getting sick, about crazy drivers. And that's too bad, because winter makes me feel alive, the cold, the snap in the air, the way you pick up the smell of wood burning far off. But hey, that's the way it goes. And now I goes to sleep.