Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A pox on the empire-waist dress

A pox on all dresses, actually. Let us return to the days when dressmakers would create individual frocks to suit a lady's form, occasion and taste. Actually, I don't know that I could ever have afforded such a thing, but it's nice to think about, particularly after a day of slogging through stores looking for a dress to wear to someone's wedding. It doesn't sound hard and I'm not picky. I just want something that isn't black and doesn't make me look like I'm trying to appear ten years old. After reading Salon's review of Alan Moore's latest, "The Lost Girls," I am particularly concerned about the latter.

Monday, August 28, 2006

First celebrity sighting!

Saturday I saw Rainn Wilson in a woodworking shop. I thought it was just someone who looked like him, the way you would if you saw him in Ohio, but then the woman I was talking to said "Did you notice that's Rainn Wilson in there? God, I love The Office." Stupidly, I said "What's he doing here?" as if he's not allowed to stand around a woodworking shop if he wants to. (We'll not yet get into what I was doing there.) "He's friends with that guy," the woman said.

So take that, Art Boy! Think you're all that for seeing Ming-Na?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Back from the dead

Today's plant: My beautiful, beautiful Nepenthes have risen from the dead! One is a very large N. coccinea, obtained at Delhi Flower & Garden Center one giddy Christmas. It spent two years hanging unhappily in my Cincinnati bay window, where it got a fair amount of sunlight and enough humidity to keep it alive. One year it formed pitchers, but they shriveled immediately upon reaching mature size. The rest of the time it looked like a very unattractive hanging plant. Anyone else would have had the sense to throw it out, but it clung to life with such tenacity. I couldn't murder it. So I stuffed it in the back seat of the car with all the cats & other plants, and drove it out here, and by God it loves the new patio. I should've been putting it outside in the summers. It's crowded with new growth, and each new stem is forming a pitcher. Several are a couple inches long already. Carnivorous madness! Soon perhaps it will resemble this photo? Although its pitchers are beautifully spotted rather than solid red.

The other Nepenthes is almost more impressive. I got it at Home Depot or one of those places that had just gotten in a cheesily labeled Tray of Insect-Eating Terrors! This would be, god, about four years ago. I picked up one of each kind of plant that they had, and remember well the weary expression on my now-ex-boyfriend's face as I happily explained to him what they all were. The Darlingtonia died, the tiny Sarracenia died, even the Dionaea succumbed to scale after a couple of years and died. But somehow, the very tiny Nepenthes hung on. It's still in a tiny three-inch pot and has never done much besides look frail (at its best, it looked like this). Since being here, I think it has doubled in size. It's got about a dozen half-inch, bronze-colored pitchers. It is gorgeous.

Art Boy can only listen to me talk about the plants for so long, so you people get to hear the rest.

Today's book: "Arthur & George" by Julian Barnes, author of "Flaubert's Parrot." We continue in the English-literary-historical-fiction vein with this well-reviewed novel about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the innocent man he helped after a false conviction. I picked it up at a heavy discount, attracted by the cover (a fetching watercolor of London with beautiful typefaces), and have been putting off reading it on account of it sounded boring. Well, it is just great. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It's both a detective story and a pair of in-depth portraits of two men at the start of the 20th century. What are their morals like? How do they feel about religion and science? How well does a Scotsman of Indian descent fit into society? Oh dear, it does sound boring, but it really is quite good.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

He's a rocket cat!

Well, I have not found my diamond, but much to the delight of Art Boy I have obtained us a new cat! He belongs to a friend of ours who is no longer able to care for his special needs, which mainly involve severe pooping, as we understand it. Isn't he cute?

I feel rather as thought I have swapped the family cow for a handful of beans. But didn't that turn out well in the end? So too shall this, I am confident.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

She Is A Diamond

Well, bugger all. I have lost my grandmother's engagement diamond. When I graduated from high school an alarming 11 years ago, she came to the ceremony with my parents and handed me a gift bag afterward, asking me to open it later when we were all at lunch. I ran around embracing people, carelessly swinging the bag from my wrist. Mom stayed a pace behind me, grimly guarding the bag, and finally took it back from me - "You're making me too nervous," she said. When I finally opened it I saw why: They'd gotten Gran's engagement diamond reset into a new ring, flanked by sapphires (my birthstone), with a classically pretty sort of curlicue design in gold. It sounded like Mom and Gran had had a ball shopping together for settings, and Gran seemed pleased to be handing it on. "Never take it off," she said, "or you'll lose it. I always lose jewelry by just setting it down somewhere."

I remember looking at it with sort of a sinking heart; my favorite items of jewelry were woven beaded necklaces and a plastic-encased butterfly wing pendant from a nature store. This diamond solitaire was not really my thing. But I wore it every day from then on. I took it off for two trips to Europe (for the first trip it went in a safety-deposit box; the second trip I was a bachelorette living alone, and I put it in the crisper drawer of the fridge before leaving) and to swim in the ocean, and that was it. Gradually I started to feel I was growing into it. Mom's graduation gift was an antique guardian-angel pendant, and after a few semesters of college - where everyone wore beaded necklaces - my only jewelry was the pendant, the ring and silver hoops in my ears. (We will not speak of the navel-ring interlude.) It was my way of wearing three generations, the four hoops in my ears being completely my own. When Gran died two years ago, I looked at her ring a lot. I had almost stopped noticing it, and after her death it took on extra importance. She left us a little money, and Mom gave me a couple of her old calling cards she found cleaning out the house, but the main thing I had from her was the diamond. After giving it to me, she'd told me, laughing, that my grandfather actually waited to give it to her until after they were married. He'd been afraid she'd take the diamond and run off, she said. So the Valentine's Day after their wedding, he gave her a box of chocolates and a diamond ring, which she figured was costume jewelry and tossed into the trash. "He was so mad! He said 'Get that back out!'" she said. It did still look like an engagement ring, even with the new setting; I sometimes switched hands if I was going out alone and wanted to avoid being bothered. And I wondered, in the back of my mind, if I'd want any future fiances to get me a matching one. Having a diamond engagement ring has never seemed important, but then there'd always be this other one on my other hand, silently telling the diamondless ring "I'm fancier than you."

Anyway, tonight at work I glanced down at my hand and the diamond was gone. It would've looked interesting on Candid Camera. I had a moment of pretending it wasn't gone - the denial phase - and then started carefully patting my shirt and looking in my lap and on my desk, and a few moments later I was down on the floor. This attracted attention, and then several of us were on the floor. My boss was very nice about it and let me go wandering off to retrace my steps from earlier in the evening. You don't realize how many shiny, small things are on the ground until you're looking for a specific one. Nail heads, bits of mica and broken plastic, even isolated old bits of confetti. Nobody found it. The last time I remember looking at it and noticing it was before taking a long walk up the beach this afternoon. So it could be at work; it could be in my car; it could be in the apartment here; it could be on the beach. It's not big. I think it's gone.

The most annoying thing would be if it were in the ocean somewhere, or down in a pipe (the sink here, or the tub, or the sink at work), where nobody will ever find it. Because how cool would it be to just find a diamond on the street? I wouldn't mind if that happened to somebody. I loathe the idea of it just getting covered with crud and disappearing forever.

But then I think of all the people in this city. All the things they lose... today on the beach someone had dropped a T-shirt in the surf, and it kept washing up around people's ankles. Every stray corner near that beach is crammed with someone's stuff: there are lots of homeless, and lots of their stashes. The city's full of the trash people drop - T-shirts, bottles, wrappers, cans, broken glass. Why not diamonds? How many others are out there, glinting faintly in the grime? Not all detritus has to be ugly.

This notion cannot be great comfort to the spirit of my grandmother, nor to that of my notoriously cheap grandfather, who died the year I was born. I fully expect them both to rise and kick my ass for this. Oh well. At least I got to grow up with her.

Friday, August 11, 2006

One martini is all right; two are too many, and three are not enough

Last night a slight cold led me to postpone Drunken Blogging Night. Tonight I have just finished the house's first bottle of gin (Art Boy had none of it, I'm afraid) and am watching classic Muppet Show episodes. This is an excellent way to unwind after a somewhat long and stressful day. (The day was not stressful by any objective standards, but by God it made me tired so it counts as stressful. Also, the absolute best thing about working a night shift is getting sloshed alone afterward.) I have just finished the Carol Burnett and Gilda Radner episodes, and am going to round out my second martini with the Steve Martin episode. I believe this one features the vegetable choir singing "Yes, We Have No Bananas" so I am really looking forward to it. I am even more boring without martinis!

I am indebted to James Thurber for the title of this post.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hm. What was that?

I'm not sure what has been going on that made the blog into a giant page of coding, but it seems to have fixed itself now. It probably involved yesterday's DSL Adventures of Fun that involved us trying to hook up my computer without really knowing what we were doing ... I understood the computer but not DSL, and Art Boy understood DSL but the computer was too different from his evil Mac, and it just ended with us giving up and watching "The 40 Year-Old Virgin" (Netflix correctly hyphenated it on the wrapper! They must read Copy Grrl). Somehow it righted itself while we were doing that. Perhaps it enjoyed the movie too.

So anyway, Art Boy is now flying to Detroit and I am alone in the California sunshine. I just went to the grocery and went slightly insane: Dead Guy Ale, asparagus, mushrooms, scotch... everything he doesn't like. Tonight I'm making steak with mushroom sauce and asparagus and getting absolutely sloshed. Check back for drunken blogging!

Also, we spent all morning watching this. With my old dial-up connection I could never watch video anything, so I really felt like a kid in a candy store.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

We're back!

Kind of. It took longer than expected and there are still complications, but we have got DSL or DHL or whatever the hell it is all set up on Art Boy's evil Mac. At some point my tired old PC will get connected and then we can seriously update our blogs. And that will thrill everyone.

Not much going on here. We hiked around in Topanga Canyon State Park today and got all hot. It was fun. Before that we watched Flashdance while eating lunch. I loove having cable.

Today's book: "The Lambs of London" by Peter Ackroyd. Peter likes to write biographies of historical British figures, such as Shakespeare, Chaucer and architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. (I want to read the latter in October, when I'm planning another Jack the Ripper binge - btw, anyone read "White Chapel, Scarlet Tracings"?) This one's about Charles and Mary Lamb, the brother and sister superteam who wrote Tales of Shakespeare for Children. They're sort of lonely and scholarly and are about to get sucked into a famous literary hoax involving a fake Shakespeare manuscript. It's an agreeable, spare little book. Also, everyone in it behaves sensibly and reasonably, which is in very pleasant contrast to Peter Straub's "Ghost Story." I was very disappointed in that one... it sort of lurched into Stephen King territory, where a small town goes mad and many die, but nobody had very good reasons for what they did. (King is so good at getting you inside the people's heads as they start to get all crazy and murderous. Straub is more interested in describing the snow.) At the end you're supposed to be all worked up about someone slicing up a wasp. ...whatever.

Art Boy is leaving tomorrow for a trip back East. I plan to drink a lot while he's gone.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Life with Art Boy

Me: You know how the bathtub keeps clogging up? I remembered that the other day I dropped the conditioner in the shower and the lid broke and it probably went down the drain. We should probably get it out with a coat hanger. I'd do it but I have to go to work now. And I just got out of the shower where I was shaving my legs so the tub is full of gross standing water. I'm really sorry. I'm the girlfriend from hell right now.

Art Boy: Right now?