Monday, March 30, 2009

Rancid Holiday - A Short Novella

A dear friend of mine from college and I were chatting on Facebook tonight (Chatting! On Facebook! Who knew?!?) and somehow started coming up with lines for the absolutely worst novel ever. (Every year on NPR, I hear about a contest for the worst opening line of a novel, but I can't think of what it's called so I can't credit it here ... ).

We've started sharing this as a "Note" on Facebook, but I wanted to share with y'all here, too. Please, play along! Leave a line for this novel in the comments, and when it's all done it will be published here (as well as on Facebook).

Here's the first line:

Rancid Holiday - Chapter One

I ate my feelings with an entire box of Thin Mints, and washed out my heart with skim milk that expired last week, like my desire to live.

How should the rest of the story unfold???

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Yes, again. Life is not just busy, it's buried. So enjoy Seattle and the Matter/ScooterHome erupting into spring. I am.

Scott has been collecting state-themed quarters. He's missing a few. This makes him sad.

Scott called on his way home the other night saying he was stopping at the store and asked if I wanted anything. I asked him to get a little wine. He took me literally.

This oversized moving truck was in front of our house before 8:00 this morning. On a Sunday. We saw them put a rocking chair, two lamps, and a small bookshelf in it. It left around noon.

Our black tulip magnolia is getting ready to bloom.

Moss grows fat on a rolling ... um, apple tree.

Stoli and the back half of Kitty wading through the mud in the back yard.

It was really bright out. And damn I look pasty.

Bleeding heart coming up by the hydrangea.


The waterfall in the pond. I love the sound.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Or at least the American version of it. Corned beef has been in the crockpot all day with onions and carrots ... just added some Guinness and cloves ... and I'll be making champ later on. I wish Scott could deal with the smell of cabbage, I miss having that!

Here are a couple of pictures of why I miss Chicago at St. Patrick's Day:

Éirinn go brách!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I Miss Joe.

It ends up that Joe Jetta will be away from me for a few days.

  • The dude that I spoke to the other day mislead me. NO Volkswagen dealers in the Puget Sound area have body shops ... so I can't get my mirror fixed here, either. After staring icily into the service leader's face while expressing my displeasure at driving 35 miles for the same service I could have gotten in the city, I asked - nicely - to at least have the oil changed and a general maintenance check done.

  • Scott followed in his car (well, got a little lost, but showed up about 15 minutes later), so we got in his car and drove up Auto Row. Stopped at the Jeep dealership to take a peek at someday replacing his 2001 Grand Cherokee. Vultures/zombies/vampires descended on us, even in the rain. Only saw a few Cherokees - all 2008 models marked WAY down. Like $23K for a nicely-equipped model. Wow. (Spent time smacking away the drooling, starved salespeople).

  • Went to the Auburn Supermall to waste some time. Outdated and a little sad even when the economy was good. Today, it seemed like half the stores had gone out of business and there were about 20 people in this quite large mall at 12:30 PM on a rainy Saturday. The biggest stores were Old Navy and Dress Barn.

  • The dealership called while at the mall. A long list of items that should be fixed - and after trying to clarify for 5 minutes, most were cosmetic, which I said no to for the time being (everything all together would have been about $1,200). I would have gladly had the cosmetic stuff fixed (repair a scratched grill and a scratched wheel) ... except that it appears I need a new CV boot/joint (which needs to be ordered). How the hell did that get torn? Ugh. My extended warranty should cover it (but I won't know until Monday, since the brokers are closed on Saturdays), which would mean that for a replaced mirror/paint job (they'll have a body shop do it since Joe will be with them for a few days), new CV boot/joint, oil change, tire rotation, and brake flush, I'll be spending about $650. If the warranty won't cover the CV joint, add another $800 + to that. I feel sick.

  • Joe will be at the VW Hospital until probably Thursday. (Whaaa????). So I got a loaner. A 2009 VW Rabbit. I've named him Roger. Roger Rabbit.

    • Of course, I'll be a moving billboard for the next few days.

      *Sigh* Is it silly to say that I miss Joe?

      Thursday, March 12, 2009

      March 12 of 12

      Again, with thanks to Chad, I present ...

      12 of 12.

      All of these pictures were taken on Thursday, March 12, 2009 in Seattle, Washington.

      Scott must have borrowed my camera last night after he came home from closing the store, 'cause I don't remember taking any pictures of the ice bin. So we'll assume this was on the 12th.

      Notice anything different? Yes, the mirror is still broken (getting fixed this weekend), but Joe Jetta has a Brand New Windshield as of 12:30 today! A nice guy came to where I work and replaced it. Unfortunately, I had to park on the street today so he could work, which now costs $12.46 for the full day. Lucky me, I got a spot in the parking garage under our building for $145 a month. Cheapest I could find in this up-and-coming neighborhood.

      Cascade Park next to Joe. Long Story Longer should recognize it.

      Driving home, looking east towards Bellevue and the Cascade Mountains. It was a gorgeous day.

      18th Avenue and East Union Street, close to home.

      South on 24th Avenue, a block from home.

      Hunter being his handsome self. He rarely looks at the camera, though.

      Our pond from the balcony. Things are coming back to life. Plants, mostly.

      The bill from The Windshield Guy. He was very nice, did a great job, and it cost a little less than I was expecting.

      6:05 p.m. and still light and sunny out!

      Dinner: Trader Joe's Pesto Tortellini Bowl. Scott is closing again tonight, so I'm on my own. :(

      The night view off behind our house.

      Happy 12 of 12!!!!

      Tuesday, March 10, 2009

      Someone Hurt Joe.

      Joe Jetta was injured last night.

      I came out to go to work and saw this:


      I think I stared for a couple seconds before it registered that someone had destroyed my side-view mirror. (And yes, the car is very dirty right now. It's been too cold and snowy to get it cleaned).

      My first reaction was to go inside and grab my camera - police reports? Insurance? My second was "I can't drive the car like this". So I went inside, where Scott was still sleeping on his day off, and asked him if it was legal to drive with a broken mirror. He offered to let me take his car to work.

      He called me at work later on, and it looks like someone sped by Joe during the night, way too close, and their mirror probably smacked into mine. He called the police, who won't do anything since it's relatively low-cost damage, but Scott wanted to make sure there was at least a record of it happening. It really pisses me off that someone did this and probably didn't even think of stopping. With everything going on around our neighborhood these days, they were probably either drunk, high, or speeding away from the police.

      I didn't bother calling the insurance company, since it will be less than the deductible. Lucky point number one: there wasn't any other damage to Joe. Lucky point number two: The glass, wiring, and bracket all seem to be okay, it was the plastic housing that was destroyed and launched all over the place. Scott managed to pretty much put it back together, minus the housing:

      I bought my car in Auburn, pretty far south of Seattle, so I called around to some Volkswagen dealers in the city to see if I could get it repaired this weekend. The first one said they didn't do body work, so I could bring it in and have them look at it, but they'd have to order the part and have the paint matched and it could take over a week to get it in. (I also asked them about replacing the windshield, which has a crack in it, and they couldn't do that either, but she did give me a referral). And the only other dealership actually in the city isn't open for service on Saturdays. Hmmph. I'd already been warned not to go there anyway.

      So Mike The Windshield Guy will be coming to where I work in the next few days to replace the windshield, to the tune of about $400. And I ended up calling the dealership where I bought Joe and am bringing him in on Saturday for the mirror and some other stuff that needs done. I'm already dreading paying those bills ... but at least Joe will be in better shape and feeling better. The things we do to take care of our kids.

      Why isn't there a good song about Seattle?

      If there WERE, I would have had a good title for this post ...

      Dave has an incredible post about my city, with some great pictures. Head on over and enjoy!

      Tuesday, March 03, 2009

      This I Believe. Really.

      I was listening to an interesting story tonight on NPR ... now, I'm not in the least diminishing anyone's religious beliefs, but most of you know that mine do not fall into the mainstream of organized religion.

      So, a question to everyone ... what is the difference between atheistic and agnostic? I'll add my thoughts later.

      *this is later*

      The story I heard on NPR that got me thinking was an interview with a professed atheist. Now, I have no problem with the idea of atheism ... but this woman was as far out there as the ultra-conservative evangelical Christian right-wingers, in her own way.

      She was basically telling this other person (who was an agnostic) that he was out of his mind to even be on the fence about the idea of God/god/zod/goddess/Flying Spaghetti Monster. That she had so much freedom by not being constrained by the idea of yes/no/good/bad/right/wrong. That she was free to do anything that she wanted to.

      Now, she didn't sound like a "bad" person (the whole idea of qualifying is getting fuzzy to me as I recall the story). I have no doubt that she wouldn't go out and pillage and murder and hurt anyone just because she felt free to do so. She did, in my opinion, sound like a breathy, ditzy bubblehead.

      Atheism is the absence of belief in a diety or dieties, or the explicit belief that there are no deities. Agnosticism is the view that the existence, or the manifestation, of a diety or dieties is unknown - not untrue, but not proven.

      I don't consider myself an atheist, because I am not convinced that there is no "higher power" that holds it all together. My particular belief is that we are all a part of some greater thing, whatever you want to call it - but that there is no being sitting on a throne up in the clouds, judging and requiring submission and obeyance. I think that we are free to do what we want - but that we learn what is "right" in life because it is, well, "right". Not because we live in fear of being struck down by a thunderbolt or burning in eternal damnation because we didn't do what someone else told us to do.

      So, this I believe. There is right and wrong, and good and bad, and it Just Is. You should treat others with respect, and Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You, because it's the right thing to do, and nothing else. Not because of some stone tablets, or an old book, or someone pontificating from a pulpit. You need to know and own that in your own heart and soul.

      I'll go back to "Matterpics" and other fluff after this.



      I just saw this on Joe.My.God - how fitting to exactly my point:

      Sunday, March 01, 2009

      Adriano Celentano and Raffaella Carra

      Scott had posted this a while back ... but I must post it here ... it's fascinating ...

      Two oh-so-cool facts: This is from 1974. And the lyrics are gibberish - they don't mean anything at all.

      Enjoy, kids.

      Five Questions

      As interviewed by cool guy and buddy Vahid:

      1. This past year, I visited both Chicago and Seattle for the first time. Though I've only seen a little of each, both seem like grand old cities. What prompted you to move from one to the other, and is there anything you miss from your old hometown that you wish you had in your new hometown?

      I actually grew up in suburban Chicago (a bit different), and had been in graduate school in Bloomington, Indiana for five years before moving to Seattle. I made the decision that I wanted to move to someplace completely foreign to me, to have a go at performing, and wanted to be somewhere new where I could make a clean start. I considered Boston, and Minneapolis, and New York, but some friends convinced me to come to Seattle. They had literally thrown a dart at a map after graduating and thought, “Hey, Seattle’s supposed to be a cool city!”. And after moving here, they loved it. They convinced my then-roommate that he should move out here, then worked on me, and finally I caved in, and my roommate and I came out here together. The first time I was ever out here was to look for an apartment, then we drove for six days (right after a blizzard and ice storm) in mid-December across the country. It was hell – the tire on the U-Haul blew out in Idaho Falls, and the driver’s-side window shattered somewhere in Oregon. Luckily I was driving the car, and the dog was sedated.

      Chicago is amazing, and I wish I could experience living there as an adult. I’d love to live there now. But it is very Midwestern, which – while a big part of my past and my roots – tends to be more narrow-minded than the West Coast. What I miss is the sense of familiarity, of closeness, of family. Seattle feels a little more distant and disjointed – very few people that I know here are actually FROM here. The sense of history isn’t as common here.

      2. Your profile says that you're a classically trained musician. What exactly does that mean? What instrument(s) do you play? If you suddenly discovered you had enough free time in your schedule to learn a new instrument, which one would it be and why?

      I started with piano lessons in the fourth grade, then clarinet in the fifth grade. It wasn’t until I was in college that I was actually pushed to be a professional musician, and my professors convinced me that I was good enough. I still don’t believe it – and have proved them wrong by being an accountant.

      I’ve also performed as a saxophonist, a flutist, and a bassoonist. “Classically trained” means I studied heavily in “classical” styles, in orchestral and chamber music. But that envelopes many actual periods of music. My biggest and most highly-acclaimed successes have been in Romantic-era pieces (especially the Brahms Sonatas) and in 20th-Century works (notably the Quatour pour la fin du Temps by Olivier Messiaen).

      Learn a new instrument? The cello. I'm amazed by string instruments, by what you can do with them, by how physical they are. While every instrument utilizes your entire body to play, the cello just seems to emphasize that. And I love the timbre of it.

      3. What is your most vivid childhood memory?

      Hmm. That’s a difficult one. There are a lot of compilations – the way my Dad smelled when he walked in the door in the winter and I ran and hugged his legs, with his suit and tie-clip and tweed overcoat. Running through the house with my brothers with Frisbees, pretending they were steering wheels, and making car noises. Sledding at our lake house and having the neighbor’s black lab Zeke jumping all over us, and later crying because he was shot by a nearby farmer. An everyday feeling of homesickness as I walked to school, and crying many mornings on the way because I wanted to stay home. I still get homesick going to work.

      4. How did you first get into blogging? What do you enjoy the most about "blog culture"? What do you like the least?

      I took some time off after my Dad passed away (I left my current employer – who I work for now – and had a brief stint at a non-profit AIDS agency, which didn’t work out). It was a nice break, but I got bored, and spent a large amount of time reading various blogs, from personal to political, and realized that I really missed writing. Not that I was ever a trained writer, but I always loved creative writing courses, and wanted to do some self-expressing. A blog seemed like a good way to keep a diary of sorts, to express my opinions, to have an outlet that I missed. So, I joined the blogosphere. I never expected to have any kind of following, and was surprised when people started reading and commenting.

      I most enjoy the way that a huge variety of people, from different locations and backgrounds, can connect and share. I’ve “met” (virtually) many people who I would have never otherwise known, who are amazing and interesting and in one way or another are my “friends”. Blogging gives you an amazing sense of belonging, of connecting, of sharing. I’ve physically met a few blogging friends, and they’ve all been truly great people that I’m better for knowing.

      What do I like the least? I guess that blogging can be so anonymous. People who leave anonymous comments, especially when they are derogatory, are cowards and pathetic. So while blogging can bring people together, it can also reinforce the idea that the internet is not reality, and that you can’t escape the dregs of the earth no matter what your forum.

      5. Your fairy godmother appears one morning and informs you that
      Seattle is three hours away from getting smited by a minor comet.
      You've got to leave immediately. Other than Scott and any pets (if memory serves I believe you have a dog), what five things do you take with you? (Assume your fairy godmother is going to give any friends and family in the area the heads-up to evacuate as well.)

      I’m a bit humbled by the fact that it would only take a minor comet to smite my city!

      Assuming that Scott and our many pets (yes, we have a dog … and then two more … and cats and birds and fish and turtles and don’t forget Charlie the Chinchilla) would be safe no matter what I choose, and that we’re talking tangible objects here … wow. I don’t know. One thing I’ve learned from moving over the years is that I can let things go. I’d much rather have memories and stories and connections than to have things.

      But what would I want to keep? Our framed Domestic Partnership certificate from the City of Seattle. The hand-painted box that my friend Kim gave for Christmas many years ago (I hope to reconnect with her someday). My titanium and koa-wood ring that matches Scott’s, that we bought together in Hawaii (it would be on my hand, but it’s something that would be important for me to have). My parents’ wedding picture that’s in the living room.

      I can’t think of a fifth object. If I couldn’t take it all, then all I’d want to keep safe with me is Scott.