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Monday, January 22, 2018

Zen and the Art of Panic

I woke in the middle of the night having a big ol’ panic attack.

Ya see, I had a rental car last week and, first time ever with one of these, had a wee accident. OK, I wasn’t actually IN the car when it happened OR, for that matter, anywhere near it. I didn’t even notice the dent and crease (on the passenger, not driver side) until I was getting ready to return the Queen Mary (AKA “compact”) to Enterprise. I’m nervous enough, driving one of these boats versus my bantam Bix, and then to be hit and runned?

I’m guessing the deed was done during last week’s snowstorm day, in the mall parking lot while I was doing some random shopping.

So then, not only did I have to shell out the rental car fee, I had to part with my not insubstantial insurance deductible. OUCH! Later today, I’ll go to my insurance broker’s office and see if they can work it, since this was NOT my fault, so’s I don’t have to pay a rate increase.

That panic attack – I guess it was rooted in unnecessary financial worry. This, like the unexpected, big added cost of my recent Dublin trip, is def painful but it’s not gonna bankrupt me.

Adding fuel to the panic fire, mebbe, is this. The last time I needed to rent a car, was after I got TAB and I into a little fender mutilation while I was driving him to chemo. Yeah, NOT one of my proud, happy moments. I still feel horrible about it (the added stress that I caused my beautiful man) and this new prob with the rental has, apparently, triggered my barely below the surface anxiety/guilt over that difficult day.
There I was last night at zero dark thirty, trying to chill the fuck out and stop making tsunamis out of wavelettes when I remembered the new book I’d picked up whilst Awesome Cousins and I were at Boomerangs, The Ethical Assassin by David Liss. The title sort of sounds like a How To, the high toned version of Assassination for Dummies, no?

On the back side blurbs, the NYPost called is a “delightfully comedic thriller.” USA Today compared it favorably to Carl Hiaasen’s hilarious enviro-crime rippers. Lee Child calls it “hypnotic and addictive.” An hilarious, utterly absorbing, intelligent mystery is exactly what I needed. I jumped in and only put it down when my skin stopped crawling with high wire tension and Mr. Sandman came a-knockin.'

One funny bit – the assassin asks the 17 year old, unexpected witness – Lem, “what’s your favorite Shakespearean play?” The witness, equally unexpectedly, answers Twelfth Night. The choice fascinates the killer (Hell bells, I find it intriguing.  I would’ve guessed Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet). The young man defends, saying:
“It’s supposed to be a comedy but it’s really kind of cruel and creepy. The play’s villain is the guy who’s actually just trying to restore order.”
To which the Ethical A responds:
“Interesting. Shakespeare’s overrated. Now Milton. There’s a great poet.”
Yup, I was already sold on the story (and writing) but then this utterly odd, improbable, very funny exchange went down.

Between the rollicking tale and a nice little tot of Slane's Irish, I was able to finally get some shuteye. Today, I gotta continue to get my Zen on. Being all jangly tensed out is no way to go through life. Dammit.

Mr. Sandman – The Chordettes

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The vandals took the handles

While enjoying the hell outta my Awesome Cousins' visit, I paid very little attention to the news.  It felt good. I’m back in the basement (NOT mixin' up the medicine), reading all about wut up this morning and, Christ Almighty, I shoulda stayed blissfully unaware.

Apparently the gov’s been shut down. This in spite of Senate Minority Leader Schumer meeting with 45 and offering him a deal that Democrats would vote for. It even involved support for his precious the-Mexicans-will-happily-pay-for-it border wall.
“But even that was not enough,” Schumer said in a floor speech early Saturday after the climactic Senate vote.

He said that while Trump was initially amenable to his offer, he refused to push McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to accept it. Schumer contrasted Trump’s reluctance to back the deal with his earlier promise, in a roomful of lawmakers during a public meeting at the White House, to “take the heat” for a politically risky immigration accord. (source)
Sad Cheeto is SAD!
So, who owns this shutdown? It wasn't just Dems (and not even ALL Dems) who voted against the pile of diseased warthog excrement, Republican-crafted bill to keep the government open. Nope. This is the Trump, Corrupto Turtle McConnell and Zombie Eyed Granny Starver Ryan shutdown.

They are, of course, making molto grande, ridiculous, craven, lying-ass, bullshit efforts to sell it otherwise. In fact...did you know? The White House phone message was even toddlerized NO, it’s all their fault. THEY started it! MOM, make them stop!

Mister Art of the Deal FAILS again. 

Just FYI, the big boys and girls, our elected assholes, will still have paydays. Their staff? Not so much.

The bloviating, posturing frauds on the right are now faux freaking that the military won't get paid. Of course they are. Hiding behind the military, using soldiers as political props and shields is what they do. How about, if they're so damn concerned, they all donate THEIR 27th amendment guaranteed pay to our soldiers, sailors, fly-boys and girls, etc.?

Seems like something Republicans would be all for. That is, if they really believed in what they were trying to legislate. But they don't.

Senate “leader” McConnell blocked Democratic Senator McKaskill’s attempt to introduce legislation authorizing military pay. 

Ya know, alls I want is a clean DREAM Act. Passage of that bipartisan bill NOW is not too much to ask.

Here’s an interesting and amusing bit.
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation will continue as planned because it is funded by a permanent indefinite appropriation, rather than an annual appropriation dependent on Congress. Employees with the special counsel’s office are exempt from furlough. (source)
This counts as very good, schadenfreude-y news but could Mueller make a case for impeaching the entire criminally disingenuous, double-dealing, bunco artist Republican party?

Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Party's Over

Well, it had to end at some point, eh? This morning at 6AM Cheryl caught an Uber for the airport and her flight back to Florida. In 30 minutes, Jen and I will drive Della and Logan up to South Station and their train south to NYC.

It’s been a fabulous, cozy, comfortable, fun week.

Della arrived Sunday night. By the time we got back to Valhalla there was energy enough only for Oni’s brill mushroom soup and rack time.

Monday – Della and I did nothing in particular. We ran errands, shopped, had a tasty-ass lunch and then a dinner of roasted veggies and spicy, cheese infused red quinoa (I actually cooked and it didn't suck!!!) with Jen and Oni.

Tuesday – We met Cheryl and then Logan’s flights, motored home and then off to lunchie at Froggy’s and a visit to The Fuller Craft Museum. How many people does it take before you call a sit down dinner, a party? Sara Gillingham at Kitchn mag feels that six is the perfect dinner party number. We were now perfect. Of course we were!

Wednesday – Awesome Cousins took the T into Back Bay for a day of wandering and window shopping. Dinner was a feast of spectacular Thai cuisine.

Thursday – off to Cambridge for wandering, poking around MIT, Central Square (and lunch at Mary Chung’s!) and up to Harvard Sq. Hillel joined our already six strong party. He brought veggie Sloppy Joes and the MOST amazing cornbread. Hillel, by the by, is a stone fabola cook.

And yesterday, Friday – the last day of our vaca party, Awesome Cousins hiked around the Neck, taking in the local beauty. Afterward, we hit Louie’s for a humble lunch. Joe came over for the nightly banquet bash, bringing a box full of Christ-I’m-Gonna-Die-These-Are-SOOOOOOOO-Good pastries from Modern Pastry in the North End. The main course – ya know, before our sugar fix – was Oni's absolutely BRILL Jamaican fish stew.

Turns out I didn’t have to worry about fun stuff to do and show my cousins. They’re wonderfully cool and low-key. Just being all together, sharing a meal or just a cuppa was grand. The house is gonna feel pretty damn empty this afternoon.

Also, there’s a very good chance I won’t eat again until next month. OOOF, such a LOT of tremendous food!

Friday, January 19, 2018


This is Blossom. She’s our kitty-cornered neighbor’s sweet beastie and is well fed at home. So what’s she doing, twice daily, at my Cat Café? I don’t think, but who knows, that this is a dominance play (This is MY neighborhood and I claim the food on this porch!) – that she’s trying to bully Umlaut out of his space. Maybe, after all these years, she just wants to know what all the fuss is about – I heard on the Tabby Telegraph that the grub here at the Famous Valhalla Diner is primo– thought I’d check it out for myself.

As far as I know, Umlaut is homeless. He’s got a reserved table here and has first dibs.

Yesterday Awesome Cousins and I took the train into Cambridge. We walked up through MIT, taking the 147 Smoot long Infinite Corridor, the university’s "spinal cord." Sadly, it was not an MIThenge day. The next one – just 10 days away – is a beauty to behold.
From there we made our way to lunchie at, OF COURSE, Mary Chung’s. Fabulous as always but, fortune cookie-wise, they’ve apparently gone corporate success meme-y.

After being suitably capitalistically inspired, we hit Boomarang’s for some thrift shopping and, from there, ambled up to the Harvard Bookstore (where, naturally, too much cabbage was spent) and then we were homeward bound.

I discovered something important yesterday – I’ve full blown entered the Crotchety Old Broad years. You know THIS huge building didn’t exist when The Amazing Bob and I lived here! What’s with all this obnoxious construction? There used to be a good live music club RIGHT HERE! Is a grilled cheese sandwich restaurant really necessary? EVERYTHING’S DIFFERENT AND IT’S PISSING ME OFF! Yup, I'm a spectacular treat alright.

Abso-fucking-awesome, no?
On arriving home, I found that my brand-y new shower curtain had arrived! Yes, I truly needed Godzilla and the Great Wave in my rain room. Fer fuck’s sake, who doesn’t?!
AND we had another, somewhat less Poetry Soup-ish dinner party. Everyone spoke directly into the phone mics which helped a lot. Voice recog tech isn't perfect (YET) but the convo was slightly less Alice in Wonderland-ish.

By the by, Della, Cheryl, Logan, Oni and I solved ALL the current U.S. probs and crises du jour and, for that matter, most of the rest of humanity's troubles. Yur welcome. No...sorry, I don't recall what our clean, straight-forward solution was BUT I suspect it was 42.
There are times when wisdom cannot be found in the chambers of parliament or the halls of academia but at the unpretentious setting of the kitchen table.
~ E.A. Bucchianeri
Yeah, tell it sistah!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Poetry Soup

Remeber that conversation transcription app I mentioned beforeAva? At dinners with my awesome cousins and Jen and Oni, we’ve been giving Ava a serious, hardcore workout.

How’s it goin’? NOT as brilliantly as hoped. You see, talkers need to keep the mic part of the phone close in to the mouth. This ensures as accurate a transcription as is technologically possible and your words will pop on on my screen attributed to you. Wicked neato keen, no?
Here’s the thing though – doggedly keeping your cell up and six inches from yur own personal yap trap is not, typically, comfortable dinner party posture.

Of course it isn’t!

Everyone’s tiny phone sits on the table. The phone “hears” what everyone is saying. Whatever Logan just said might be attributed to Della who’s sitting next to him or even Oni, who’s across from him.

Also at this distance, the mic accurately catches only a wee fraction of what’s being said. It makes shit up. Ava is wildly creative in it’s efforts to fill in the blanks. Which gives me a fabulously entertaining poetry soup.

Sitting in the car right next to me.
The woman ending.

This place is actually close to the Moon

the crisis the crises
Might happen

Life isn't so simple and that the answers are in the eyes of the beholder
I really wanted to walk that line.

And then my damn coat

Always what it wasn’t

Suitcase full of toothpaste.

I love you.

I remember, I remember yellow
But yellow
European arms

What's the weather.
Bags of ice.
The overtime

She wanted to be in.
Fallout 4 anime.

It undermines the entire
Free birthday

Rotted meat
Can I use chemicals

Should I was too late.
Wipeout start sometimes

I think it's just it's so healthy for people to grow up
Because this isn't a cat.

Something just came through the text:
Happy penis house

So that's my secret

André Breton, Apollinaire, Rimbaud – eat yur hearts out.

I tried to infer, from all these surreal snippets, what was actually being said/discussed. That’s hard bloody work…just FYI and shit. Between lipreading, Jen's 'terping and Ava, I think I caught much of what was jibber jabbered.

I did take breaks to just enjoy the hell out of the DaDa-ish versification. The Amazing Bob would LOVE this.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Statements and Stories at the Fuller

Yesterday morning, after Della and I scooped up Cheryl and Logan from the airport, we motored down to the The Fuller Craft Museum. I’m just wild about this joint. While they do show brilliantly beautiful, more traditional clay, fiber, glass, wood craft and such (e.g.: Brother Thomas exhibit starting next month!), they showcase amazing fine artwork as well.

The first special/guest exhibit that I came upon was:
Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art  investigates the topics of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and tendencies, and PTSD through craft.
Alison Saar’s piece J’Attends really hit me right in the heart and blew me away. It’s eerie and a little scary. The card to the left of the piece with artist's name noted that:
J’Attends features a prone head with hollow eyes. When viewers peer inside the head they witness a small solitary light bulb surrounded by moths. It is a view into a mind which is anticipating the advent of madness.
Buffalo Robe Red detail
Imagine being trapped inside a disintegrating mind and being aware that you’re coming apart.

Next up was:
Gender Bend: Women in Wood, Men at the Loom is a multi-media exhibition featuring male weavers alongside female wood turners – two populations that have been traditionally underrepresented in their fields .
Beautiful stuff. I particularly loved Beth Ireland’s small sculptures and Buffalo Robe Red by Wence Martinez.

The usual suspects from their permanent collection slay me every damn time I see them. Like:

Cristina Córdova’s Al Viento (ceramic, resin, casein, varnish, concrete and steel) – the woman looks, to me anyway, sad but not expecting to be any different than that. She’s existing, functioning despite the grey cloud she lives in.

Boy with a Hat (cast glass) by Frank Murta Adams is raw, funky and, practically, vibrating with a pure energy.

Raven Steals the Moon by Preston Singletary – there's a story here and I want to hear it.

And then I turned the next corner and ran smack into art of the resistance.
Threads of Resistance is an exhibition of modern and traditional quilts created in response to the Trump administration’s actions and policies
I think of quilts as warm, stitched and woven blankets to keep us toasty on cold nights but they’re so much more. Of course they are. There’s a rock solid, long tradition of quilts as statement, as art.

Quilters Susan Bianchi, Tricia P. Deck and Adrienne Sloane were just three of the amazing fabric artists.

Detail from Bianchi's Liberty Marches piece
There’s also a shit-ton of fabulous pink hats.
Revolution in the Making: The Pussyhat Project tells the story of the Pussyhat, a handmade cap with cat-like ears that played a central role in the protest following the 2016 Presidential election.
All of the exhibits yesterday were strong, forward thinking and tremendously moving. This wasn't just pretty art and craft but powerful, inspiring statements and in such a perfect setting. The Fuller's located just off the highway but it's on a quiet lake, surrounded by woods. As we were leaving, the word sanctuary came to mind and then I saw this inscribed boulder. Nailed it!
(FYI, if you wanna see any of the art bigger, just click on it)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


An R2-D2 thumb drive!
Yesterday was an errand day. I needed alizarin crimson BADLY, light bulbs, black tea and a thumb drive. Here’s what I found in the checkout line at both the big box craft shop and office supply store – CANDY. What better temptress than rows of cheap sugar treats, promising fast, easy happiness, all wrapped up in gaudy, flash colors?

This is just criminal smart. Devilishly crafty levels of dastardly marketeering brilliance went into this. CLEARLY! Waiting in a long line? What better way to soothe and distract your taxed and annoyed soul than with no-commitment, cut-rate chocolate?

It continues to blow my tiny mind that I manage to refrain from indulgence. A strong part of me knows, is well aware, of the mountains of guilt I’ll suffer if buy AND eat that Almond Joy or Kit Kat.

Candy Guilt, by the by, is NOT all about the empty calories, better spent elsewhere. Oh my no! There’s the whole Fair-trade thing – they’re not. The longer I voyage on this spinning planet, the more I’m unable to ignore where and how things are made – where everything comes from.  Am I perfectly consistent in my earth-dwellers mindfulness? Of course not but I try and NOT picking up a pack of Reese’s cups while on line at Staple’s seems like  doable abstinence.

THIS however, at left, was WAY more of a struggle – Nique’s Vegan Peppermint Bark Cheesecake. I saw it when we were at our Black Tea buying stop and very nearly succumbed to MONDO temptation. Peppermint Bark AND cheesecake? Jesus, that's just a heinously cruel jezebel of a dessert to put in my path. Incredibly, I was able to walk away. Yes, I SO deserve a fuckin' medal...I'm tellin' you!

At the end of our Big Box Americana tour, Della and I began our lunchie mission. Starzzz was my first choice but the tiny parking lot was full AND it was too damn cold to park elsewhere and walk. Off to the Nantasket and the Red Parrot we rode. It was closed! Why? For MLK Day maybe? No clue.

The wind off the ocean was howling, beyond icy and sharper than a serpent’s tooth. Even the gulls were having a hard time on their flight paths. Obvs, no beach walking for us BUT the bleak panorama was still overwhelmingly beautiful in a scary kind of way.

After our mega brief wave watching, we made our way back to Quincy. Our new lunch destination was La Paloma – my fave, local Mexican restaurant BUT they were also closed! Sheesh. I was beginning to believe the gods did NOT want us to dine out.  On our fourth try we found an open bistro. PHEW! The joint was dark, as though they were only provisionally open for biz but the food was awesome (I had the oceana burrito and *WOWZERS* it was fab!).

Today's a fresh day. It's warmer (in the 30s!), sunny and more cousins arrive soon! We'll do something a bit more exciting. Perhaps the Fuller Craft Museum and lunch? Yup, I am scintillating, no?

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Lion in Winter

I'm, naturally, referring to Umlaut, not King Henry II. You knew that though...right? And, OK, OK, a more apt phrase would be The Panther in Winter (given our boy’s glossy dark coat). Geez, picky, picky, picky!

In any case and I may have mentioned this already…

Also too, you’ve possibly already taken note of this…

It’s winter and really bloody cold outside! 

Not pretty but it's dry and outta the wind
I still have Rocco’s old cat house from his pre-retirement days. I lined it with flannel sheets and set it up on the front porch for Umlaut. I covered it with The Amazing Bob’s old bright yellow rain jacket. Not all neat, tidy and House Beautiful BUT it's a snow-free, cozy crib. Right next to the banquet table too, just FYI.

So far, it seems, Umlaut’s not into rack-time on our porch but, ya know, it could happen.

This morning when I called him for brekkie, he was RIGHT there, sporting a fine coat of snowflakes. GUILT! Poor fella’s been out in the frozen, precipitating weather, undoubtedly starving and, lazy slag that I am, I woke up late. Christ! Is he warm enough? Is his crib, wherever that is, outta the elements? Does anyone else feed him?

The answer to that last one is, yes, Specifically, Jen and Oni. They were up before me, saw our mini-panther at their door and put out a bowl of kibble. Maybe there are other neighbors who pick up the stray cat banquetizing slack? Hope so! To chill out my conscience pangs, our sweet puma got, on top of his usual meal of Friskies and kibble, catnip treats and a little tuna.

Though my sweet Princess wouldn’t be keen on another roommate (understatement alert) I’d let Umlaut in if he expressed any interest at all. I’m not, however, gonna force, indoor life on him. That’s just not how we roll here.