Discourse without distraction.

Naked lobster at the elephant table.

I have returned from Massachusetts after celebrating HMOKeefe’s birthday.  It was a wonderful time even if I did give him a cold for his birthday (or tried to).  The champagne was Veuve Cliquot, the lobster 2 lbs and the discourse was without distraction.

A Cup of Coffee and a Pot of Shamrocks

A St. Patrick's Day Tradition

Way back when I was young and attractive, I was sitting in a bar, the kind of bar old newspapermen went to after the paper had gone to bed, trying to have a conversation with a girlfriend. This was not a pick up joint; nor was I of a mind to be picked up. As was not uncommon when I was young(er), some guy sidled over to the bar with an offer to buy drinks. It was soon apparent that it was me he was trying to pick up and no amount of “No, thanks, I’ll be doing good to get through this one” was going to deter him.

As we studiously tried to ignore him, he hit on the brilliant idea of giving me the earth shattering news that I looked “just like Cher.” Well, the resemblance had been marked on before so I was neither shocked nor flattered. (“Exactly like Cher” is a gross overstatement.)

Not giving up easily, the Cher comment was followed up with “So? You got some Indian in you?”

Well. As a matter of fact I do. On one side of the family, great-grandma was full Cherokee and on the other side there’s some Native American but we don’t know what flavor.

“Cherokee and what else?”

“Irish.” The other great-grandmother was full Irish. Now between the two great-grandmothers there’s a bunch of mutts and if I were to list my whole pedigree it would encompass all of the British Isles as well as goodly portions of Europe and a few of the Indian nations. I even have reason to believe I’ve got some African-American in me. I am nothing if not multicultural. Up until that time, I was apt to answer the question with “some Irish, some Indian, some English, some German and a bunch of other stuff.” But I was being terse with this young man in hopes that he would go away, so he got the one word answer. (I was too young at the time to realize you needn’t be polite with drunks in bars.)

After hearing his response, I now tell folks I’m Cherokee and Irish – I don’t give the full pedigree because his response was priceless. He said:

We Irish/Cherokee women are actually delicate little flowers.

“Cherokee and Irish? That’s a bad combination in a woman.”

And then he left.

After cogitating over the years on that statement, I believe that in certain situations he was right. In both the Cherokee and Irish traditions, women were apt to speak their minds and the menfolk were likely to listen, because if they didn’t there was going to be hell to pay. While I’m sure there are individual women who would make a liar out of me, in general, it’s still true that if you want a doormat for a wife you best not be fraternizing with the likes of us. Double the influence of generations of feisty women with two cultural traditions and, yes, that’s a bad combination.

I was relaying this story not too long ago to a friend and some guy who was not trying to pick anyone up piped in and said, “You’re not kidding. My ex-wife was Cherokee and Irish. You did it her way or you got out or she threw you out.” And then some other guy said, “Hey! You’re right. I never thought about it but my grandmother was Cherokee and Irish and, man, you didn’t mess with her.”

I don’t think I’m that bad – I’ll listen to reason.

In spite of my Irish heritage, I’ve never been much of one to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Now it may be because great-grandmother was protestant Irish and they wear orange to celebrate William of Orange’s victory over King James II. She was also a teetotaler and I was in my 30s before I could have a drink without feeling like I had to hide it. Even then, I wouldn’t have let her see me with a drink in my hand.

Drinking is where the two traditions as they filtered through my family are at war with one another. The Cherokee side are hard-drinking, honky tonking, beer-bellied good old folks and the Irish side are alcohol-free church folk. (Go figure.)

One perfect bloom.

In any event, St. Paddy’s Day is not likely to find me in a bar swilling green beer. I do try and remember to wear green, but mostly so some juvenile won’t be provoked to pinch me. St. Paddy’s Day often finds me at home drinking coffee and admiring the Shamrocks I just bought. Every couple of years or so, I buy the shamrocks to replace the ones I’ve managed to kill with over-watering. I love Shamrocks. They’re such cheerful little things and if you take it easy on the watering they’ll live for years. If they are over-watered and succumb, St. Pat’s is the only time of year replacements can be found.

So. Happy St. Pat’s to you. Feel free to join me in a cup of coffee and a pot of shamrocks.

Installing Telephone Jacks for Dummies

The bent metal prongy things are bent wrong.

I grew up during a time when girls weren’t educated in the art of home repair. We took home ec, the boys took shop. They had tools in the trunk of their cars, we had dimes to make a phone call to AAA.

Things have changed. I’ve picked up a few things in the intervening years.

I can jumpstart a car now, although I can’t change a tire (Lord knows, I tried). I can fix minor leaks. I’m fair to middling with a jig saw; and I can wield an electric drill with the best of them. But I’m afraid of broken things with wires.

Wires are usually buried deep in the innards of something and require tools to open if one doesn’t want a broken nail. Oh sure, shoes can work as hammers and butter knives screwdrivers, but sometimes you just need something Sears markets under the Craftsman name. HMOKeefe bought me a spiffy little toolkit that I’ve given a good workout. (There are some things in there I haven’t a clue as to their purpose, but I suppose I’ll learn in good time.)

Nifty Tool Kit

So, yes. I’m afraid of wires. I watched HMOKeefe hang my kitchen light and other than holding the thing in place while attaching gizmos to watchits, I think I could handle installation of a light fixture. That learning experience emboldened me to replace the pesky phone jack.

When Verizon installed my DSL there were multiple problems; chief was the interference that no amount of filtering could eliminate. After 6 hours at my home trying to uninterfere the interference, the technician muttered a few curse words and asked if it would be okay if he “shot all the DSL to one jack.” I said, “Fine with me,” seeing how he was installing a wireless modem.

So? What are these for?

Well. If all your internet connectivity is channeled to one jack in the house, it’s absolutely critical that jack be functional. If not, you can’t just pick up your wireless modem and move to another room.

The phone cord from the modem to the jack was too short, so I had the thing strung across the room. I tripped over it one too many times. The little bent metal prongy things bent in ways God never intended and the internet light wouldn’t come on.

Uh oh.

If I fiddle-farted with it long enough and held my tongue just right, I could get everything back in place so that the internet light happily flashed.

I am an internet addict. I use the internet for news, movies, television shows, email, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and instant messaging. My friends and beloveds are scattered around the world and without internet, I don’t know what’s going on in their lives less’n I rack up long distance charges to call them.

That phone jack has been unhappy for two months. In the process of painting that room, I rung the jack’s death knell. All of my reshaping the little bent metal prongy things was to no avail.

Sigh.

See how little the Little Bastard is?

The Little Bastard (aka my gallbladder) is rocking and rolling and I feel exactly like the crap I keep throwing up, but I was starting to go into DTs from internet withdrawal. With a sense of impending doom, I went to the Lowe’s and looked at telephone installation stuff. I thought I’d managed to find the thing I needed, but it was only $3.98. I didn’t figure my entire social life and cultural awareness could hinge on a $3.98 part, so I pushed the red button for customer service.

A guy in the nifty red Lowe’s vest answered the “Customer Needs Assistance in the Audio-Visual Aisle; Customer Needs Assistance in the Audio-Visual Aisle.” [If I had to listen to that robotic woman’s smarmy voice all day, I would scream.]

I held out the $3.98 thingie and asked, “Is this what I need?”

Ta Da!!!!!!!!!!

Even in this day and age, trained sales clerks can’t read minds.

“Ma’am, what is it you’re expecting it to do?”

Now if that ain’t a loaded question.

I expect it to widen my horizons, draw my inner circle closer, enlighten me, empower me, and give me an occasional chuckle as well as provide a dial tone in my home office.

I explained the problem. H e assured me that it would make my universe whole.

He was a nice guy, so I asked about the wires. From my tone of voice, a casual passerby might have thought we were talking about female circumcision. He took it out of the package and did his best rendition of Installing Telephone Jacks for Dummies.

It sounded simple enough. I bought it and 50 feet of phone cord and went home.

After drowning the Little Bastard in Pepto Bismol, I grabbed the nifty toolkit and went to the study.

Five minutes later, I had an internet light.

It was way too easy. I’m now a whole lot less afraid of wires than I used to be although I did break a nail.

That broken dimmer switch in the dining room may be getting some attention soon.

[Home Repair Girl twirls her cape and heads into the sunset.]

Hoping Friday isn’t going to be a Monday

Sigh.

I have days where I feel like I can’t catch at a break.  This morning is one of those times.  A truck on the interstate spit gravel at me and cracked the windshield.  The car is due to be inspected by the end of the month.  I’m not sure, but I don’t think I can pass inspection with a cracked windshield.  Not surprisingly, I can’t afford this right now. 

There’s a glimmer of hope.  I called the trucking company and they’re “investigating” the situation.  I’m hopeful this will all play out with minimal frustration (and cursing, shrieking and sundry carrying on) on my part.

Sigh.

Colorful Wine

Minoan Blue Monkey Fresco

It’s been suggested that most folk choose their wine based on the bottle. While I’m not immune to the charms of a nice bottle, all other factors being equal, I am usually more interested in what’s in the bottle. I veer towards the Chileans. You can’t buy a bad bottle of Chilean wine. The price is beginning to reflect that, but it used to be you could have a damn fine wine dirt cheap. Most of the Australians are good as are most of the South Americans if you’re looking for affordable yet decent wine.

With all that said, my palate is not that sophisticated. I’d recognize the label, but I’ve become partial to a wine sold at the Kroger – a nice cabernet IN A BOX with an 87 rating from Wine Spectator. It’s hard to burn a candle in that puppy once I’ve drained the last glass of wine, but I buy the stuff to drink – not to decorate.

Tom Robbins Wine

Or at least that’s mostly true. I do have some wine bottles scattered about the house because I like them. My favorite is a long, lithe cobalt blue one that used to house a crisp pinot grigio. And then there’s the Tom Robbins bottle. (I’ve also got a tequila bottle that HMOKeefe drained on the Mexico trip – tequila? I don’t touch the stuff. But that bottle sure is pretty and HMOKeefe buzzed on the worm was a sight to see.)

Those of us of a certain age will remember chianti bottle candle holders. In fact, I used to buy chianti just for the bottle because all the cool girls had candles and, well, I couldn’t be left out could I?

That color!

As I perused wine at the Drug Emporium (no kidding – one of the best selections around), I was dumbstruck in the Italian section.

I’ve been in the throes of painting and as I finally whittle down the number of rooms in need of painting, my thoughts turn to the dreaded hall that houses the stairs. This area is going to be horrible to paint and I have to get the color right the first time. If I manage to complete the stairwell in my lifetime, it will be the last time that area is painted. The color choice is complicated by the open floor plan and getting the exact right color is critical. Critical, I tell you. The fate of the free world hangs in balance.

Isn't that just luscious?

I’ve been flirting with the idea of a pinky peach – or peachy pink – that color where fuchsia and tangerine run away to Morocco for illicit sex under a slow-turning ceiling fan. The color your eyelids turn after two strawberry daiquiris on a beach blanket. The color that is the sound of passion. You know. That color.

So. There I am in the Drug Emporium choosing a wine when this chianti bottle leaps off the shelf and into my basket. I’m not really a huge fan of chianti, but this bottle is kicker. The straw casing weaves fuschia and tangerine together and produces that color. While that hallway will most likely end up a matronly forest green, I do now possess a retro-trendy chianti candle holder for my soon to be completed study.

Blue Monkey

And if the chianti bottle wasn’t exciting enough, I was stopped dead in my tracks at the clearance shelf. Indeed, I gaped in astonishment.

Most folk don’t know it, but at one time I was the world’s foremost expert on Minoan blue monkey frescoes. Really. For all I know, I still am. I haven’t kept up with the research. But I wrote the best research paper of my life on the mystery of why the Minoans, living on an island in the Mediterranean, were provoked to draw blue monkeys on their walls. I didn’t actually answer the question, but I had a lot of fun ruminating. You may, as I did, find it curious that people have been including photos of the blue monkey frescoes in anthropology, history, and art books for decades and decades without ever addressing the question as to why a bunch of proto-Greeks were decorating with a monkey motif.

The no-longer-lonely other blue monkey decorative item.

So, I’m admiring my chianti bottle and considering taking it to the paint aisle at the Lowe’s, when I discover the blue monkey wine. It’s a zinfandel and I’m not a huge fan, but, really people, it’s in a BLUE MONKEY bottle. Serious. How could I not buy it?

So. I now have two bottles of wine I bought simply for the bottles and which will become decorative items in my study. God help me, I’m decorating with wine bottles plus I’ve spent $30 on wine that I don’t particularly like. It’s a big old goofy world and I’m the leading lady.