Sunday, November 13, 2011

Moving

I'm moving.

I mean, my blog is moving. I'm still stuck in South Carolina.

I just ... the name I picked for this blog was never very good. I realize that. But since I don't run, it's extra stupid. So, I bought a url based on a name that has been recommended to me by several people. Elliepie.com. Isn't that cute? It's not about pie - that's just how my last name starts. Though I do love pie. And the new name gives me license to blog about food from time to time - especially, I suppose, if I bake a pie.

But yes, if your'e wondering, Roomie does call me Ellie pie.

So, reset your readers, go, subscribe, be merry. (I say to my one or two loyal readers). Add me to your blogroll (and let me know if you do, I'll do the same).

Those of you who also nerd out on blogs (you know who you are) may notice I don't have Intense Debate on the new blog. It's been glitchy from time to time, plus it simply won't work at all with the fancy new dynamic blogs that Blogger's rolled out. So, for now, you can subscribe to comments - but do feel free to bitch and complain and let me know if the notifications don't work.

And, for your reading pleasure, I give you the best moving story ever to grace the internet.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm not a total slob. Just kinda.


Actual conversation at my house this weekend, while I was doing dishes and Roomie was studying.

Me: “Hey B, can you come help?”

He: “You need help with the dishes?”

Me: “No, I need you to come find the lid to the olive oil.”

He: “You lost it?”

Me: “Yup.”

I continue to wash dishes while he walks in the kitchen, looks in three places, and turns up the lid to the olive oil.

Me: “What would I do without you?”

He: “You’d lose everything.”

Me: “I’d probably die.”

He: “Probably.”

Me: “Or I’d just have put a piece of foil on the olive oil and put it back in the pantry.”

He: (shudder)

Me: “Maybe, if I was feeling fancy, I’d have put a rubber band around the foil.”

Me: “If I could find a rubber band, I guess.”

*At my house, right now, I do most of the cooking. I also do the majority of the dishes, though Roomie helps. This isn’t because he’s a lazy jerk or sexist (am I the only person who jumps to this conclusion when a woman in a relationship with a man does most cooking and housework?), this is because he teaches two classes (they don’t even create his tests for him, which I think is total B.S.) and has a full time grad student class load +  he’s supposed to be working on coming up with research plans on some hard-to-find little suckers called diamondback terrapins. 

Backstory: When I was in college and working, I lived with my boyfriend – a guy I haven’t spoken to in ages. One of the many problems with that relationship was that he thought that, despite the fact that the number of hours I devoted to schoolwork and my job waiting tables at a hamburger and shake shack (any Ducks remember Jamie’s Great Hamburgers?) added up to far more than his 40 hours every week, I should take care of the majority of the housework. Because I made less money than he did.

Right. And since I wasn’t so great at keeping house anyway (I’ve gotten better, but I’m still not stellar. Ask my bathtub.), we lived in total filth. Most people do that in college, right? 

Right. I’m not still traumatized by that experience, but it was formative. So the way I look at it, if one person has significantly more time on his/her hands, he or she should do more work around the house.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Shoulder seasons

I always complained about Central Oregon's lack of shoulder seasons. For the five years I lived there, spring and fall for me were just brief blips between winter and summer.

While I did eventually come to appreciate the muted high-desert palette of sage on gray on dust on moss, I never got over missing the intensity of color where I'm from, the wetter side of Oregon. I missed Portland's spring and fall. I've previously written here about the glory of springtime in the south. Flowers explode everywhere - it's an assault of color and fragrance. My yard in the springtime includes flowering bradford pears, dogwoods, wisteria, Carolina jessamine, honeysuckle and gardenias. Every time you turn around, something else is blooming. Honestly, even Portland and the Willamette Valley is muted in comparison with the south; for the most part, it's just a place where green congregates; forest on kelly on fern on envy on chartreuse.

The hiccup of autumn in Central Oregon was never anything to look forward to. After the glory of blue-skyed summers and their clear mountain lakes, summers of blessed, blessed dry heat, I wanted none of it. All fall did was remind you that winter was coming for you. October's frigid mornings and gray skies were winter's way of saying, "Get your ice scraper ready bitch. I'm coming for you."

Contrast that with the relief I feel now that summer is over. It's physical. Goosebumps with each turning leaf. When I pulled my first sweater out of its summer storage (I'd never lived in a place where you actually store your sweaters all summer. In Oregon, you face at least a handful of chilly days and evenings even in August.) we cried and hugged like old friends reuniting at an airport - I swear I heard violins playing in the distance. I don't even want to admit what I did when I wore boots for the first time this fall - it's simply indecent.

One thing about fall in South Carolina that's strange for me, that feels wrong for the season at hand, is that I'm opening up the house for the first time in months. Doors and windows, everything's open. No more mornings where you open the door to go outside and the air is hot and moist, like dog breath. After a long summer of sprinting from one air conditioned space to another, of keeping shades drawn against the heat, I've been throwing open all the doors and windows, letting a breeze blow through the house for the first time in months. It feels like spring.

So I did some spring cleaning. Starting with brushing the dogs.

Yeah, so that happened.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

When southern girls get married

I realize that there are probably weddings in Oregon that look and feel like southern weddings. I’m guessing that they’re for rich people whose families have ties to the East Coast - but I don't know a lot of those people. I’ve been to probably a dozen weddings since I turned 18. I've attended everything from a quick wedding for two 18-year-olds (graduating the next day) who rented the local Moose Hall and had their aunts hang some paper streamers to a $30K+ affair with late night dancing, gorgeous flowers, fancy cocktail dresses and passed finger food.

I’ve only been to one southern wedding.

However, I first suspected that some things about weddings would be different when, shortly after arriving in South Carolina, my boyfriend’s stepmother, I guess in an effort to gauge the seriousness of our relationship, asked if we’d picked out a china pattern.

“Um, no,” I stammered. “Do people … still do that? People my age?”

She laughed and said that maybe she was just old-fashioned.

But the southern bride whose wedding I just attended, she’s not old-fashioned. Modern girl, this one. And she picked out formal china, informal china, Christmas china and FORMAL Christmas china.

Touché.

Also, the southern wedding I recently attended took place in a church. I have not been to a church wedding since I was a kid – I know they still happen, but I do believe they’re more rare than the ballroom, or outdoor park, or wedding venue style-affairs that are de rigueur out west.

Unfortunately, my date and I arrived only 10 minutes early for the wedding, something I hadn’t intended (my beau’s wardrobe malfunction [read: lack of planning when it came to ironing] was to blame), but I still thought would be OK. But no. The chapel was full so we were put in the overflow room with the other derelict guests. There was a big screen TV with a live video feed from the chapel. This is another thing I’ve never seen before.

But when the video feed went out, the other guests looked around and agreed it was time to hit the bar, I realized that there is at least one important nuptial factor that is universal from coast to coast: booze.

Thank baby Jesus.

The level of formality is another factor that is different from Oregon. This is something I anticipated. See, in the entire state of Oregon, there are probably two restaurants where you can’t wear jeans. And if you’re the governor of the state, you can wear jeans anywhere you damn well please. Not the case here. Example: A Southern girlfriend of mine believes that male guests at a wedding that is held at 6 p.m. or later should wear tuxedos.

Yeah.

So, my beau and I had some trouble figuring out what to wear – mostly because we’re poor, but also because he spent the last decade working in the outdoors, so he doesn’t own a tie. Me, I pretty much only own dress-up clothes that could be seen as too loud/quirky for southern affairs (I had to be talked out of wearing a short black dress and hot pink tights to the wedding and I’m still kind of miffed about it). Also, my fancy clothes just aren't fancy by southern standards. I do not own a single sequin. I don't really do sparkles. Or bows.

We figured it out, but we ended up looking dowdier than  most of the other guests. No big deal, as far as I'm concerned.

But this is all leading up to my proclamation. In my view, the 2 best things about southern weddings:

1. *Seersucker suits with bowties. There were dozens of them, on everyone from little boys (!) to grown men. I will admit that, unfortunately, I didn't see any of the older gents wearing them, so suspect they could be trend that I just hadn't been exposed to before.

*I do know some folks just see the seersucker thing as an affectation. Some sort of old-money, stodgy ... really, I don't know. I haven't been here long enough to understand the intricacies of Southern affectations. Regardless, I find boys in seersucker and bowties adorable and charming. If I still worked at a newspaper this post would be headlined "A sucker for seersucker." Or some such thing.

2. The electric slide.

Now, I don’t do the electric slide. I learned it at some point, but I’m terrible at remembering dances that require specific moves at specific times. But southern ladies like their electric slide. And we're all the better for it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A video to charm your pants off

If this video does not make you smile, maybe even giggle a little bit, I'm worried about you. Genuinely. Deep in your soul, something may be broken.



Monday, August 15, 2011

On swimming

It's hot, y'all.

I warned you there would be a lot of complaining about the heat, right? Because it's HOT. Like, really, really hot. All the time. And muggy. So very, very muggy.

And here's one thing that pisses me off about this. Everyone told me all this humidity would be great for my skin. I expected to glow. So why do I have scaly patches spreading across my face? Oh, right. Because it's too frigging hot to go outside and soak up the humidity.

I spent one night at my friends place at the south end of the beach (farther away from me but, from what I understand, slightly preferred to the resorty madness in Myrtle Beach). We did make it to the beach. It was nice. Stiff salt breeze, hilarious people watching of mahogany-colored blond girls who will doubtless end up looking like old luggage one day. Waves. Honestly, if I lived near the beach, I imagine I'd go there with some regularity. And since I wear sunscreen, my dry lizard skin might go away. But a) I don't live near the beach and b) have I mentioned that I'm kind of afraid of swimming in the ocean?

It's not that I'm not a swimmer. I love swimming. I was on a swim team for awhile when I was a kid, and I actually would have been good if I'd had a drop of competitive spirit in my blood (I've since developed that drive, but not related to physical pursuits. For the only race I've ever participated in, a half marathon, my only goal was finishing. I don't even like competitive ping-pong. But get me on a monopoly board and I will make you my bitch - or pout when I lose).

It's not that I fear swimming in natural bodies of water, necessarily. I grew up swimming in rivers and lakes. I have very distinct memories of swimming in the Santiam River with my sister when I was a kid. There was one swift channel that the little kids were too scared to swim across, and I remember with pride the first time I made it. I was finally big enough to hang with my big sister and the older cousins on the far bank. My older cousins were awesome.

However, where I'm from, you do not swim in the ocean. First of all, it's cold. Year-round. Frigid. Numbing. There's also the fact that there's usually a giant, terrifying break far away, dangerous riptides, something called a sneaker wave, and great white sharks. But really, it's the cold. When you're a kid, you wade in until the water comes up to maybe your hips, you laugh and splash for about five minutes, daring your sister to go out a little father, then your feet turn blue so you return to your sandcastle. Before long, it's off to Moe's for some chowder. And that's if it's not raining on the day you make it to the beach, which it usually is, year-round.

My first experience swimming in the ocean was in Mexico when I was in my early 20s. I didn't know that when a wave was coming for your head you were supposed to dive under it, so I just closed my eyes and got knocked into the sand. When I recovered, my top was around my neck and my sunglasses were floating toward my boyfriend's dad. Sweet.

Plus. Jellyfish. Ugh.

While explaining the ins and outs and complications relating to my many excuses for taking constant shelter in the loving, frigid arms of central air, a friend asked me why I don't go swimming in the river near my house.

That's fucking hilarious.

Here's an illustrative anecdote: Roomie and I recently tried to take an early morning kayak trip on the Waccamaw River. Not only was it 90 degrees by 9 am, but the river is largely swamp. So, you know, gross. And the parts that aren't totally swampy are still blackwater. As in, the color of black tea. I know I've covered this, but it bears repeating. The Santiam, when you stand above it, is green, but when you're in the water, it's clear. You can't see your own boobs in blackwater. In the Santiam, or the Deschutes, you can watch trout swimming by. You can check out the periwinkles nestled in the rocks.

I hope the "where I come from" rant hasn't gotten old, but if you haven't been, have you at least seen pictures of Oregon? Just google Crater Lake. I'll give you a sec. Or, another of my favorites, Clear Lake. Crystal clear mountain runoff, kids. This is what I'm used to.

And the thing is, no one can say that there's nothing to fear in the blackwater! Snakes! Venemous ones! Vicious biting turtles! Fucking alligators! No, for real. We had to turn around on our little kayak outing last weekend when we saw a 6-footer ahead of us.

I'm not sure what to do except whine, moisturize, and wait for autumn. I'll be the one sitting inside with the blinds drawn, dreaming of scarves, sweaters, boots, and pumpkin pies.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Review - Quaker instant grits

I didn't try grits for a very long time. I just wasn't really interested. They sound gross, for one. Just the name.

Then when grits were served to me, they had been cooked with water and not seasoned much. I didn't see the point. Grayish, goopy and grainy? I think I'll pass.

Then I started dating a southern boy (so many delightful stories begin with that sentence ... ). When I told him I didn't care for grits, he shook his head and explained that I hadn't had his grits.

Apparently, that was not a euphemism.

I now keep grits on hand, and make them as a breakfast or dinner side quite often. They're easy and good, and I usually add a bit of milk, cream or butter because what isn't better with butter and cream? He likes to spoon bacon grease in his. I recommend it.

So, when I moved to South Carolina, I was excited to check out the grits selection at the grocery store - they can sometimes be hard to find out west. You may not find any, or you may just find one kind. Out here, the grits section is bigger than the oatmeal section. And they make instant grits in little packets--just like the oatmeal my mom wouldn't buy for me when I was a kid.

Naturally, I had to try it out.

Flavors: American cheese, three cheese, cheddar cheese. I also plan to try the bacon-flavored variety.

Moo.

Detail. Because I'm all about details.

Grit-tastic.
 Difficulty: Can you figure out how to stir something and microwave it for 1 minute and 15 seconds? I hope so. This is a crazyshort cook time.

Nutrition: There's 100 calories in a packet, plus the calorie content of the milk - if you use it. So, not a lot. And there's no nutritional value really, unless you're looking for more carbs in your diet.

Taste: These are gross, y'all. I know, SHOCKING.

Why am I surprised? I don't know, I like those little Quaker oatmeal packets. They're like the candybar of breakfast grains. But these were extra gritty and hard, and I swear they had enough salt in them to preserve an entire ham. And it's not that I don't like fake cheese flavored powder. I'll eat a tub of cheeseballs, cheetos, and a box of Kraft mac and cheese (Kraft dinner to my Canadian friends).

My advice? Run far away from these things.

Unless you're one of the friends to whom I've mailed a novelty package of instagrits, in that case, YUMMY! Enjoy! They're a southern delicacy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On finding the right words

This is not about how to find the right way to say something complicated.

This is about how to throw a party.

A friend of mine who lives in Oregon likes to have these parties at the beginning of every summer wherein guests bring some pasta salad, maybe a few beers, oh, I don't know, perhaps some Jello? No, probably not Jello. But, you know. Coleslaw maybe. The hosts crank up a grill and cook hot dogs and burgers. Condiments are presented. There may be a lawn game or two involved.

In Oregon, such an event is called a BBQ. Or, spelled differently, a barbecue. The event is so recognizable as such, that my friend, should her last name be Windsor, could invite people to a Windsor-Q, and all attendees would know that it would be outside and that food would be cooked on a grill (fascinators optional).

I tried inviting some of my South Carolinian friends to an Aynor-Q recently. Later, when I mentioned that the grill - the one we keep outside and cook food on - would be heated for the event, I got a surprised response. "Oh, we're grilling?"

Right. Because not only was the Q not specific enough to suggest BBQ - which I get - but here, in the Deep South, the word BBQ (or barbecue) does not mean "a party where people cook outside." It is a noun that means "food that is cooked with smoke" or a verb that means "to cook with smoke." In the Carolinas, it can also be a noun defined as "pulled pork." Said pulled pork may be mixed with barbecue sauce, either vinegar or mustard-based, but NEVER, for the love of Jesus, will that sauce be tomato-based.

Here, an event where people cook outside on a grill is called a "cook out."

Oooooohkay. Lesson officially learned.

I also learned another lesson at what turned out to just be a good dinner party: if you're a yankee (I hear I am), don't try saying "y'all." It works in writing - I've found it's quite efficient as a plural, gender-neutral pronoun in a casual email. However, when I tried it on my guests, my efforts were met with mockery.

Bastards.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The gross post

WARNING: Do not read while eating. Or if you’re particularly sensitive to stories about poo or dead things. No dead people though. Just possibly somebody’s pet.

One weekday morning, as Roomie and I were making our morning coffee, I looked out the window and saw a pile of what looked like wet cardboard. No, wait, that’s fur. Wait, is that … an ear? That’s a cat. 

“That’s a dead cat in our yard. How did it get there?”

It was pretty far from the road, but since our bad dog hadn’t been out in the yard much lately (when she goes on walkabouts, she gets the ole “tied to the back porch” treatment for awhile. Until we get lax again.), we figured that the poor thing had probably gotten hit by a car and then dragged itself away from the road until it finally croaked. On our lawn outside the kitchen window. The nerve.

So when I put the dogs out, I again tied the bad dog, who enjoys nothing more than rolling in dead things or strange feces (thankfully not dog crap—but if there’s a pile of deer pellets, cat turds or—HEAVEN—people poo somewhere, she’s on her back lickety-split, rolling gleefully until she's smeared in shit) to the back deck. But I let the good one go wander around for her morning business, as she is wont to do. But when she came around the side of the house that I could see out of the kitchen window, I watched with great interest in what she would do. I generally think it’s interesting to watch the dogs when they don’t know we’re watching, because I am boring.

She had her nose to the ground and was sniffing intently. I watched her study the space in front of her, meandering closer to the dead cat, she circled, but she clearly wasn’t sure what she was about to find. When she finally came upon the thing laying in the grass, looked at it, realized what it was, she recoiled as if in horror and promptly trotted away.

It’s like she’s not even a dog.  

However, the white/bad dog (I know, it's backward. In our house black is good and white is evil.) is really effing cute when I get home from work. It's kind of why we keep her around.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Two minor points

1. There's a decent amount of farming going on where I live. This is not terribly new to me, Oregon has a lot of rural areas. Of course, what's different is what's grown. Oregon's all about seed, really. But you'll also see a lot of fun crops like strawberries and grapes. Here, I have tobacco fields growing literally across the street from my house.

 

The other day I decided to check the plants out, despite my fear of maybe being shot. Tobacco plants are really kind of pretty, with giant, crepey leaves. And since Bath and Body Works makes that really lovely fragrance called "Tobacco Flower," I assumed the pink flowers would smell good. They didn't smell like anything. I was pretty disappointed.




2. There are a few things that people out here say differently. Roomie says "cut on," in addition to saying "cut off." As in, "will you cut on that light for me?" This makes no sense to me, but he says it's a totally normal thing to say. They also use not just double negatives, but double-positives. As in, "how will we handle this situation? Well, we might could handle it this way ..." Well, maybe the "might" isn't a full positive, but a possible positive. Does that mean a "might could" is, like, a positive-and-a-half? Am I even making sense anymore?

Anyway, that was all a lead-in to one really adorable thing southerners say: they use the word "buggy" instead of "shopping cart." Isn't that cute?

They also, really, genuinely call people "yankees." I mean, I guess I knew that they did, but it still makes me giggle every time I hear it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sexy flower time

As I expected, it's not yet July, and I want to cry when I leave the house in the morning. My glasses fog the second I walk out of the house, like I just opened a steamy dishwasher (Related: there is nothing that makes me feel like a dorky-ass kid as much as fogged glasses. It makes me feel like Velma.) I also cannot walk into my yard without 45 mosquitoes jumping my shit, and my electric bill is half my paycheck.

I find myself wondering WHY THE SHIT PEOPLE LIVE HERE.

Then I see some pretty flowers, and I think, "maybe this is why?" But that seems stupid.

Nonetheless, I feel like I need to know the name of every gorgeous plant and flower I fall in love with. Lately it's been these intense, hot-pink flowers that have exploded all over the ornamental trees that grow at my work. They have this gorgeous, pantyhose-nude colored bark, and these orderly, symmetrical leaves.  They're like robot leaves. Part of why I'm fascinated by them is because they just look like they could never grow in the high desert. I'm no botanist, but these trees somehow look ... hot. Basically the opposite of the Central Oregon icon, the juniper. Exhibit A:

(image stolen from this weird site)

See that gnarled old beast? That's a juniper. They have a distinctive smell that makes me homesick, though some crazies say they smell like cat pee. Now look at the kinds of trees I'm looking at these days:



They're all exotic and shit.

I pointed the sexy pink trees out to Roomie to find out what they were called, and he gave me the wrong answer. (jerk). Nonetheless, I was somehow able to figure it out through a series of internet clicks--which really is a hard task when you don't know how to describe botany accurately. Sexy flowers? Pantyhose-colored bark? Weirdly robotic leaves? Yeah. Not great search terms.

But it turns out the trees are "Crape Myrtles." I have a hard time typing that, however, since I don't know the word "crape." I know the word crepe though. I've been informed that "crape" is simply the southern spelling of "crepe."

Right. Because they do that here. There's also a flower named "Confederate Jessamine." It's a type of jasmine, but southerners decided that pronouncing the word crazy wasn't good enough.

Anyway, in my sexy pink flower research, I discovered the best website ever.

Go, click.

Did you catch that?

Yes. It's sexy people posing in front of trees. Are they Russian? Or gay? I can't tell.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What happens when you don't go to church


So I’m home alone on a Sunday, and I’m cleaning and cooking and working and cleaning dog beds. Typical Sunday. I take these two foam things we let the dogs sleep on out into the yard to hose them down because for some reason my three year old dog has started peeing the bed, and sometimes just peeing on the carpet, and a junker car drives by and honks. I look up, as though I know anyone out here, and then go back to my hosing.
But the car turns around, and then pulls into my yard - we don’t have a driveway, you actually have to drive through the yard to park on the landing in front of the barn-like garage and carport. He drives toward me, and I stand up, and it occurs to me what I look like: I’m wearing a tank dress (I’ve started to refer to them as housedresses) because it’s the only thing I can stand to wear in the heat and humidity. I’m squinting through my glasses, my frizzy hair is piled on top of my head, and I’m wearing no bra, though I do have an apron with a wild horses print on it tied around my waist – it was an ironic gift from my best friend, but I actually wear it because I cook and bake and wash dishes by hand. Also, as though I have new readers who need this info: I’m ultra white and have tattoos.
The fellow driving his beater car across my lawn is a black guy (p.s. more than once in the last few weeks, I’ve been in restaurants with people who have stage-whispered “black” when referring to perceived cultural differences. I’ve also gotten a stage-whispered “white” when someone was telling me which Taco Bell was preferred, because the employees were all, you guessed it, “white”) about my age, smoking a swisher sweet and wearing a white wife-beater tank top.
I say hello when he leans out his window. I’m thinking about where my dogs are. Inside the house.
He tells me he’s looking for “Heavah,” she lives somewhere around here and she looks just like me.
I tell him I don’t know anyone named Heather out here. Then he points out my tomato plants, and tells me that he grows tomatoes, too, and eggplants and okra and beans, and his watermelons are doing well, too.
When he describes the wall he built to keep his tomatoes off the ground, I say, “yeah, we should have done something like that, too. Anyway, good luck finding her.”
Then he drove away.
When I told Roomie about it (we tell each other any time anyone comes here, as it happens so rarely) suggested that the guy was “fishing.”
I’m trying to picture how that would have gone successfully for him.
“Oh, Heather? I don’t know her. Would you like to come inside for a lemonade? Or some homemade salsa?”
Am I being innocent?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Have I mentioned lately that I hate bugs?


The other night as I was going through my evening routine (I’m very good about taking my makeup off at night. I heard Stevie Nicks claimed on Oprah once that her “secret” [as though she looks great?] was that she always took her makeup off, and my podcast girlfriend Julie Klausner did a hilarious rant about it on her podcast. Something like “maybe I passed out face first in a pile of coke, but I removed my makeup first!”), I heard a sound in the shower. Skittery. Sketchy.
The dogs had been acting weird—standing in the yard staring off into the distance, rather than running in circles or dragging their asses across the driveway—and Roomie was passed out on the couch. For some reason I pictured a raccoon in the shower. Or a snake. Or an alligator. 
I live in the south now. I figure I should prepare for these things.
So I opened up the shower curtain and found a huge palmetto bug cockroach crawling up the wall. I squealed like a little girl, of course, and slammed the curtain shut so hard I whacked my thumbnail against the tile, splitting the nail down so far it bled. Of course. Because I just painted my nails two days earlier and that activity is basically an invitation for fingernail destruction.
Cockroach: 1
So I wrapped a band-aid around my thumb to keep the broken nail from snapping completely off in the night and went to bed. I resisted the urge to stuff a towel under the bathroom door to keep the bug from crawling out of the bathtub, scampering across the floor, shimmying under the door, crawling over to the bed, up the blankets and then, of course, crawling onto my face or into my ear. For good measure, I took a swig of vodka and put in earplugs.
The next morning, when I got up, I was so groggy, I’d totally forgotten about the bug until I whipped open the shower curtain and found the giant thing on its back, legs in the air. Dead. Apparent natural causes.
Serial: 1
I still count this as a win. You know, since the bug dead.
Though, instead of cleaning him up, I left the corpse for roomie and gave myself an Irish bath in the sink.
Come to think of it, maybe we all lost in this battle.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On humidity: Part 1

Oh, humidity. You wicked, wicked bitch.

On a recent day, I was feeling hi-tech, so I looked at the weather indicator on my iPhone. Our house is temperature controlled, and it seemed easier than going outside. It said the day's high would be 77.

Since I'm an idiot, and I lived in the desert for five  years, I put on a pear of jeans and a breezy black blouse with cap sleeves, plus a jaunty little blue hat I bought on impulse at some cheapass shoe store in the mall (I look really good in hats, as long as I can get them on my giant head).

A pair of earrings, some flip flops, and I'm set to go.

Ha!

You southerners already know my mistake. 77 with 10% humidity is jeans weather. 77 with 99% humidity means you'll be peeling those fuckers off when you get back to the comforts of central air.

Stupid.

So I changed into a sundress, and I thanked Jesus for giving me blonde leg hair.

Actual conversation between me and Roomie:

"Uhg, I just don't want to shave my legs."

"I don't care."

"Well lucky me, because I'm lazy."

"It just lowers the chances of some southern hottie stealing you away from me."

That's love, people.

*Update: The following day, when I woke up, I looked out the window and saw a sort of low-hanging fog that, if I lived in London or the Pacific Northwest, would mean a cool, gray day was ahead of me. Here, it's just the hot morning mist. I walked outside, and it felt like I'd walked into a dog's breath. The high tomorrow is 91. (p.s. It's still May, right?)

I begrudgingly shaved my legs, and in the process shaved a chunk out of my ankle about the size of my pinkie nail.

Blast you humidity! Blast you (said whilst shaking bloody Venus razor at sky)!

It's going to be a long summer.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Conversation I had this week

"So, what did you say about the rapture at work?"

"Um, nothing."

"What, really? No one brought it up?"

"No, and I'm not going to. That would be a really quick way to get fired."

"Oh, come on. You could have just said, like, 'Hey, probably won't see you all Monday, eh?'"

"Right. Add in a 'I mean, I'll probably still be around. I'll hold the place down.' That is one valuable point I did not think to put on my resume. 'Definitely won't be called back in case of Rapture.'"

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Goodbye. Wish me luck. I'm sooooo going to need it.

I kept wanting to write a post this week, about all kinds of things (for example: Have you noticed that people who drive with their arm out the window of the car, sort of gripping their entire car like it's their shaft, are always dickface drivers? I have.) but I'm leaving tomorrow morning for a huge conference. And not the fun kind, where you're an attendee and you can sneak off for booze. No, the kind that I'm helping run, where I work a kajillion hours and drive with coworkers in a rented car for 13 hours and where I'm not allowed to drink any alcohol the entire time I'm gone. The week leading up to the conference has basically been hell. And it was also finals week for Roomie.

So here is one photo from a post I don't have time to write, because I have to wake up in four hours:


Yeah. We had a car break down. So we got towed by a tractor.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hugh Hefner of chickens

Since my neighbors cut down a lot of the shrubbery between our yards, I now have a view of their chicken coop. It's not very close by, and it's partially blocked by what I've been told is a "dog run," a fenced in area in our vast yard where, if we were "real" southerners, I suppose we'd lock up our dogs, instead of snuggle with them on the living room floor. Instead, we use the area to make compost, and use the fence to keep our dogs out of it.

Anyhoo, the chickens. I absolutely adore the rooster. Probably more because he lives on the opposite side of the house from my bedroom window, so I never hear him crowing in the morning until I'm already up. Because in case you'd never considered this, rooster crows are entirely dependent upon where you are when you hear them. Roosters crowing when you're making tea and eggs = awesome, but rooster crowing when you're in bed and trying to sleep = feathery hellspawn.

The best thing about the rooster is that he likes to hang out on top of the hen house. He stands up there, strutting, and quite often, there's a hen up there with him. Sometimes two. I like to think of the coop as some sort of bunny ranch. Hugh, the Rooster, decides who gets the top position and gets to come upstairs with him, based on whims. I haven't decided which hen to call Crystal. Wasn't there a Holly, too? Or am I confusing Hugh Hefner with Bob Barker ... ?

Anyway, I like thinking of the coop as a tiny redneck bunny ranch. Especially since I've heard the bunny ranch smells about as good as a chicken coop.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Sun News

Look, I am not gonna go and knock Easter. I just want to share some cultural differences.

Where I come from, you do not generally see this on the front page of your newspaper on Easter Sunday:


What's that, you ask? Why, it's a fawning, front-page profile of the local carpenter who spatters himself in fake blood and faux-crucifies himself on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach every year.

Oh, wait, I'm sorry. He used to do it. From 1993-1997.

Oh, and it wasn't Easter. It was the day before Easter.

But still! Cool headline! And he's a carpenter (made his own cross, people) and his initials are J.C. So. There ya go.

I actually do like this quote, written about the phase before he became a Christian:

To his dismay, his wife Elaine Curkendall, refused to let Jesus go and told him so.
"If  you are asking me to choose between you and Jesus, then I'm choosing God," she said. "You ain't even a close second."
That lady doesn't mess around.

Honestly, my only real problem with the story is that it took away from the headline with the other lead story of the day. It's about a local run where people stop and eat a dozen Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts in the middle of their 10K.

Best headline ever?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Severe weather

I've heard severe weather warnings before. But not tornado warnings. There was a tornado in Oregon sometime in the last year and everyone was like, "A TORNADO? In Oregon? Are you sure?'

Here, my NPR news quiz was interrupted (the nerve!) telling me to evacuate if I'm in a trailer or vehicle. Because everyone knows tornados love trailer parks.

The wind had picked up, and the light outside was changing rapidly, from ochre to white and back. Trees swayed. Dogs paced under my feet, then hid under the bed. Roomie was at Lowes, picking up supplies to protect our young tomato plants and lettuce from any hard rain or hail.

The radio then said I might want to get away from windows, or maybe lay down behind the couch and cover my body with pillows. Also, if I'm outside and things get ugly, "lie flat in the nearest ditch."

Y'all, the radio has never before told me to lay in a ditch.

*Favorite comment on my Facebook post about this weather warning: "Exciting! Keep some red shoes on standby!"

Sunday, April 10, 2011

your best day (not to be confused with VH1's Best Week Ever)

Since I drive so much, I listen to a lot of podcasts and books on tape (Pro tip: if you love fiction, you must subscribe to the New Yorker fiction podcast. Start with the one where they read Bullet in the Brain. You will not regret this.).

A darling friend who's also a commuter handed off the Dave Eggers book about Sudanese lost boys, What is the What. I'd heard mixed reviews, but I'm totally engrossed. If you're feeling at all self-pitying and want to get the eff over yourself, check it out. Though if you're sensitive to, like, children being eaten by lions, watch out.

There's one part early on where the semi-fictional narrator is talking about how the walking boys -- refugees who have largely witnessed the slaughter of their entire villages -- have a hard time sleeping. They're orphans traveling across the desert with no water or food. Some of them have shoes. Boys stagger off the trail and die all along the way. I guess all that makes it a little difficult to catch Zs. One of their leaders (just a bigger boy) instructed them, as they lay down in a circle to protect themselves, to put together in your mind your best day. Think of your favorite breakfast. Then your favorite afternoon, your favorite evening. The narrator's best day includes a pretty girl, a bicycle, his mother's yellow dress.

So as I lay in bed the other night having a hard time getting to sleep, I thought about piecing together my best day. But I didn't actually end up doing that, because I quickly thought of one day that -- front to back -- was nearly perfect in itself. My 29th birthday.

My birthday is in December, and this year it was on a Sunday. It started at midnight, in a bar. I had gone out with my roommate, who'd just become my boyfriend, and one of my best friends. As we left one bar and staggered to the next, it started to snow, and we giggled and slid around. I honestly don't remember going to the last bar, but I found out later that when we walked inside, my glasses fogged up, so I took them off and stood, swaying and smiling. When someone (an acquaintance?) said hi, I blinked blindly and cheerfully said, "It's my birthday!"

I do remember that my darling roommate had stayed sober and drove us home, and on the way, I instructed him to go do some cookies in the snow somewhere. He obliged.

The next morning, my new love woke me with a thoughtful gift, and made me eggs benedict on croissants -- if you think that sounds too rich to be good, you're incorrect. Hollandaise cures hangovers, by the way.

It snowed all day. If I lived in a different town than Bend, my party would have been canceled. But the troopers started pulling into my driveway right on time, and they hucked their shoes and snowy coats in a growing pile by the door, and started filling the kitchen, unloading bags of food and wine.

I'd recently become enamored (via Lynn Rosetto Casper and a book that I refuse to link to Amazon for, because you should do like I did and order it from your local independent bookseller, goddamit, or at least from Powells) with homemade Asian dumplings, but they're really time-consuming to make. So I assigned each of about a half dozen of my gals to a filling, then told them to come over early and be ready to roll, fold, crimp and stuff. My poor roomate was stuck with a house full of chatting women who pushed up their sleeves, poured glasses of wine and got to work. As the trays of dumplings piled up, I turned on every burner of the stove and started steaming, frying and pot-sticking. The house filled with glorious smells, and the windows fogged with steam. The house hummed with our cheerful chatter.

As it got dark out, and we transitioned from cooking to eating, the husbands and boyfriends came knocking. Each time we opened the door, steam poured out into the night. Cars and even bikes piled up in the snow in my yard.

One of the husbands showed up with his two boys (whom I adore not least because as soon as they learned my name they became quite fond of it, and every time I see them they shout "Elliiiiiiiie," and how can you not love that? ) to drop off a gift for me, tease me, and bring his wife a Chanukah gift.

We ate until we were about to burst, then we tucked into the largest chocolate orange cream cake I've ever seen (The sad note here being that this cake was made by a former friend, one of those love/hate friends. We started teetering farther toward hate than love, and after I left the state without saying goodbye, she unfriended me on Facebook. I can't decide which of us is more petty.).

Anyway. This is all to say: My best day. Hot boyfriend (yeah, you know there are details of the day I'm leaving out. Use your imaaaaaagination.). Cooking and eating good food. And piles of my brilliant, hilarious friends.

Miss you guys.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Anyone remember that movie Ferngully?

Of course we have neighbors we hate.

No, that's too far. We don't hate them. They just seem like dicks.

My house sits on an acre, just far enough back from a busy road. We have a big yard, and we like to spend time outside, usually tossing a ball for the dogs, and often with a beer (or large glass of wine) in hand. On one side of us, close to our house, is a house that's empty save occasional visits from the grown kids of the dead lady who used to live there.

On the other side, past the vast expanse of our lovely yard, live The Jerkoffs. It's a couple and a kid, and someone who looks like a grandma seems to appear from time to time. Roomie has seen the kid shooting at birds. That's just a really good way to piss off this particular hippie. And, charmingly, while the kid was shooting at birds, Grandma was just chilling on a riding mower, watching.

It's not like we have seagulls or some other kind of asshole birds around (like steller's jays, which are big, fat jerks), but sweet songbirds, cardinals, something called a titmouse,  and amazing, huge pileated woodpeckers -- rare, protected Woody the Woodpecker birds. Roomie also saw the kid chasing the chickens around their chicken coop throwing rocks at them. Cool, right?

(Don't get me wrong, I'm OK with eating chickens. I'm just not really into being an asshole to them while they're still alive. I get the irony, but as I see, it, 90% of the point of raising chickens is eating eggs -- or meat -- without feeling guilty about the horrible treatment the animals experienced while they were still alive.)

While all that makes me think the kid is a turdface, I wasn't really pleased when I heard his dad yelling at him while they burned whatever they were burning (they do it so often I suspect it may be their garbage) in their yard one morning. I'm not sure, but I think I heard him smack the kid, too. Excellent. (Mom's an unknown. Guilt by association, I say.)

Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the dogs. They have dogs, but they don't appear to be pets. They live in a pen outside next to the chicken coop, and they bark incessantly. I don't hold it against the dogs. They look out and see our off-leash pooches running around, frolicking happily with owners who love and snug them and throw balls for them. I mean, I'd bark, too. It's like the dogs are yelling, "Hey!  We want to play! This is bullcrap! Did you guys see this? We live in a cage! Look, see how huge this yard is? Why can't we run in the yard?! That looks like fun! We want to come play! Come get us! Can we hump your dogs?!"

So that's the background on how I felt when, one day, I heard the sound of large machinery coming from the neighbor's yard. It sounded angry, and hungry, and as I looked at the stand of trees and brush that separates our property from theirs, I saw limbs and leaves heaving and shaking as they clawed and cut them out of the ground. Tiny birds fled the destruction.

My vision's not great, but it was totally a scene from FernGully (p.s. Avatar was basically an expensive version of FernGully, but without Tim Curry. Incidentally, I have loved Tim Curry since he was trying to figure out who killed Mr. Boddy. Anyone with me? My early exposure to Rocky Horror only confirmed my adoration).

So now I think of my neighbors as the new embodiment of Hexxus.



Except my neighbor is in no way sexy.

In summary: Tim Curry is rad, my neighbors are dicks, and Hexxus destroyed enough bird habitat that we can now see the dickface yard better and hear said dicks yelling at their kids more clearly. Yay.

On the other hand, I now have a much better view of the daily activities of their chickens.

But that's another post.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Holly's House of Beauty - Aynor, SC

I got my wig split the other day.

OK. I don't think I pull that phrase off as well as other people I know. I really like it though, so I keep trying.

Anyway.

I went here:

It's called Holly's House of Beauty. My trim cost $12.

Here's how it happened:

Roommie and I went to Ned's, one of the four non-fast-food restaurants in town, to get burgers one night. While I waited, the woman working started chatting me up, and she asked where I'm from. Side note: Everybody around here asks me where I'm from. I'm not sure how they can tell.

She asked if I lived in town, I told her yes, nearby, on Blahblah Street (back off, stalkers).

"Oh, you do, whereabouts?"

"In the white house across from the Business."

"Oh my gosh! Holly used to own that house! Dan!" she said, shouting over the grill at the guy cooking our burgers, "they rent Holly's old house!"

"I love that place. Nice wood floors," Dan said.

They are pretty nice.

So I got the quick rundown on Holly, where she lives now, who she lives with, and was informed that the cute little haircut shack two doors down from my house is hers.

And the thing is, I'm not doing much with my hair lately. I call the long, undyed hair my "recession 'do." I miss color and cute sassy haircuts, but a) for some uneffingbelievable reason Roommie likes my hair long and b) with my hair this long, I can get away with applying product to my hair, scrunching it, and air drying. I'm not saying I like the way it looks. But I drive an hour to work every day. If I get up early enough, I'm not going to use that time on doing my hair. I'm one of those assholes who puts on makeup in the car now.

Also, I love supporting local businesses (as the folks in Bend would say, Make Local Habit), so I called.

Holly is the best.

She talked non-stop, with one of the thickest accents I've yet to encounter. At first I was scared, because when I walked into the shop, Holly was touching up a scrubs-clad woman's long, curly mullet. They chatted about the Mullet's boss, 15 ex-boyfriends and I think probably half of the residents of our town. In between, they worked me for info about myself, starting with "where are you from baby?" (Seriously. Baby.)

As I sat down for my trim, a dad and his kid came in for a trim, and the dad, Jeff, proceeded to tease me and Holly.

"Now why'd you cut that bald patch in the back of her head?" Jeff asked.

"So Holly, you get married or you still living in sin?"

"I'm still living in sin; will you pray for me Jeff?"

So good. Holly kept punctuating everything she said with, "Oh, lordy, Jeff," but the way she said Jeff it was like, Jay-eff.

I seriously regret I didn't secretly record the chatter. I was also too chicken to take photos of the inside, but it's not nearly as cute as the outside. Not really horrifying, either. But the voices. Ohhhh the voices.

I'll bring a secret recorder next time, kids.

Oh, I did get a photo of the super adorable welcome mat:

 So, my review of Holly's House of Hair? Go. It's totally worth $12.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Bootie Bros. - Florence, SC

An approximation of a recent IM convo I had with a friend at work:

Red: Girl, I think I need to pay me a visit to the bootie brothers.
Me: ?
Red: The bootie brothers?
Me: I don't follow. Who are the bootie brothers?
Red: You've never heard of them?
Me: That's what I'm saying.
Red: We have to find one of their commercials on YouTube ...*
Me: ?
Red: It's a boot shop.
Me: Oh! Boots! I know those.
Red: I'm going over for lunch. Want to come? I need some cowgirl boots.
Me: Of course I do.

(*Apparently these commercials were awesome. I can't find em, but I didn't look very hard. If you come up with something, please share.)

Now, I've been to Western wear shops before. There's a lot of phony-baloney cowboy crap in Oregon. But this place is something special. Partly, I was impressed because most of the shops I've previously visited have either been A) in a mall or 2) made to appear as though the buildings they were housed in were built from rough-hewn logs. I hate fake log buildings. To me, they reek of faux-country rich boy "ranchers" and "cowboys." Think George Bush. Or the Pioneer Wife's hubby (Or so I hear. I've never read her, I just read about how she never mentions that her "pioneer" husband comes from a shitload of money. And like any self-respecting liberal, I dislike rich people I don't know personally.)

Alas, behold:




While you try on boots, a dude with a sick southern accent vaguely flirts with you (if you're as cute as Red, you'll get comments on your toenail polish and offers to help roll up your pant legs). Plus, these are damn fine boots.

If anyone's taking notes I want these:






They's so pretty I had to get multiple angles. But if you're not into $300+ boots, worry not. There's something for everyone at the Bootie Bros.




 
These were the winners. Red said the insides feel like tennis shoes:






So, this may be the best part: Remember how I said I had NO idea what Red was talking about when she mentioned the Bootie Bros? Well, the night after we stopped there, I realized I drive by a gigantic Bootie Bros. billboard on my way home from work every single day.

I'm super observant.

Oh, and the following morning, I realized I drive by another Bootie Bros. billboard every day on my way to work.

Really. I hope I never witness a murder.

"Um ... I think he was wearing a green shirt? Well, it might have been a woman ... wait, did you say they were aliens? Huh. I didn't even notice ..."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's gourmet you guys.


Oh, gourmet Japanese sauce? That sounds fancy. I wonder what's in it?








(I took these photos awhile ago. Do not misconstrue my terrible timing for insensitivity about the horrible earthquake tsunami nuclear reactor endtimes scenario everyone's understandably obsessed with right now. This particular post has nothing to do with Japan, and a whole lot to do with America. Still, I gave a little bit here, and it wouldn't hurt you to do the same. xoxo)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Swamps are pretty cool. Except for the dead deer rotting away next to where we parked. That was uncool.

My first swamp guys!




Big change from the high desert where I've been living the last five years. Actually, I guess it's totally different from any place I've ever lived. Best part? We found a nice hut to hang out at when we become hobos.

 

It even came with an area rug. (Insert Lebowski joke here)




Roomie's trying to teach me some of his smartypants stuff. Like how to identify a few birds. Truth be told, I'm pretty terrible at it, because my eyes are so bad, but even people who can't see far away can hear calls and see shapes of large birds at a distance.

Also, did you know that cypress trees have knees? They're stubs of root that grow up out of the swamp around cypress, and they look vaguely phallic and eerily primordial. Most of the ones we saw today had these salmon-colored tips that really upped the tree-ween-of-the-swamp-floor factor.

Gross, right?

Here's a close-up:


Also, we thought Margaux loved the desert, but that's probably just because we'd never taken her to a swamp before. I mean, mud and stink and neck-deep puddles and bugs and dead things? Brackish water you can swim in that's the color of over-steeped tea so you don't know what's at the bottom of the pool and there could be anything down there! Snakes! Sticks! Dirt! More mud!


Sister was in heaven.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

On why you might find me with a cotton ball stuffed in my right ear

I’ve been walking around with stuffy ears for six days. Yes, I said stuffy ears.

You know when you drive over a mountain, and you get that feeling where your ears sort of need to pop, but it hasn’t happened yet? Just before it starts to hurt, but you can hear your blood rushing like a distant train? I’ve been walking around like that for days.

So I finally decided to go to the doctor.

(By the by, the waiting room at Aynor Family Medicine is a fascinating place for some people watching if you have time for it. One lady with vacuous eyes waddled up to the TV and poked at it until she found HGTV, then loudly proclaimed, “I love this channel. They show all kind of home design stuff, and selling houses and everything."

"Don’t know why I watch it," she added. "I don’t even have a house. I live in an apartment.”

A 60-plus man in a cargo vest said, “I don’t get after television much,” as he adjusted his trucker hat [worn without hipster irony here, of course].

A kid who appeared to be about 16 and had on a newer version of the old guy's outfit, plus some brand-spankin'-new Nikes without a speck of dirt on them said, in the direction of the old guy, “Well I’d rather be out in the woods than watching TV.”

The old man nodded gravely.

A 30s-ish couple then walked in and sat down, and the husband proceeded to guess the prices on everything the woman on TV was picking out for her bathroom.

“I guess it could be about three grand," he said. "Course that's not countin labor.” At least that's what I think he said. His accent made it sort of ard to understand him.

His shiny-haired wife [wearing a hoodie from Victoria's Secret and some really expensive jeans] turned to the cow-eyed woman and said, “I jess cain’t imagine spending that much on a toilet seat. Cain’t they just run on down to Walmart?”

Naturally, I was the girl hiding behind a book, saying nothing and tying to pretend like I wasn’t watching everyone.)

Anyhoo. Doctor said it’s allergies. Some people get snotty and watery, and some people get sinus pressure (check) red eyes (check) and stuffy ears (check). I’ve never before in my life had seasonal allergies. But apparently the pollen counts out here are craaazy and will basically make anyone have allergic symptoms. Treatment, ear drops and nose drops. No pills. Fun, right?

I suppose allergies are a small price to pay for the way my yard exploded in blossoms weeks ago [at the same time it was 15 degrees in Bend].




But then!

After the appointment I tried to clean my breakfast dishes, when suddenly a palmetto bug (remember those?) fell into the sink from the SKY with a THUNK.

I screamed like a little girl ran away. Dishes be damned.

Sometimes I'm not sure if I’m going to make it out here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

There is only one right way to hang toilet paper

Almost two years ago, there was a change between me and my roommate.

He found himself looking forward to coming home. Not because he wasn't at work anymore, but because he was looking forward to spending time with me. Cooking dinner together and watching TV. Silly boring things.

I found myself eagerly anticipating him getting home after work. Looking at the clock. And if he didn't come home, or came home late, I was way more disappointed than I should have been. I mean, he was just my roommate.

And after my last roommate (hell satanspawn bitchface hoooker hell hell), it seemed to me a good idea to keep my distance.

But, he had this big blue eyes, see? And I told my friends about it, that I had a crush on my roommate, and they were like, "that is a terrible idea. Remember what happened with your last roommate? Crazyface bitchass. And you weren't even sleeping with her. Don't do it. It'll end poorly, then you'll be out one awesome roommate. He picks up dog poop AND mows the lawn. Also he's super nice. And, you know. I mean, he's single, right? Can I maybe come over for dinner sometime?"

One friend was at least a little more honest.

"If you hit that, let me know how it goes. He's pretty cute. Maybe you could warm him up for me."

And I was like, "Oh, pishposh. Nothing will happen. I'm sure he's not interested in me. Plus, he's such a responsible person, he wouldn't do something like that."

Well. I was wrong. I'm way glad I was wrong.

One really good thing about getting together with your roommate is that you already know you can live together and you're comfortable together. Because moving in with a boyfriend can be really hard -- I know from experience. The guy I was with in college? Even when he was out of work and I was going to school and working full time, he couldn't be bothered to wash a dish. Or scrub a toilet. Ever. I think, in three years, he may have .... no. Actually, I don't think he ever cleaned the toilet.

But Roomie and I were OK with each other's habits. There were no arguments or bad blood about how clean the bathtub was, or who left dishes laying around. All was copacetic as far as home was concerned.

So a few weeks ago, I was going to the bathroom, and I noticed, to my great irritation, that the toilet paper was hung the wrong way. Underhand.

I realized that Roomie and I had never talked about how toilet paper is hung. And I didn't think that I'd ever noticed it being wrong before. I shuddered. Had I just been lucky? Did he have a willy-nilly approach to TP, and somehow, either I hadn't noticed, or it always happened to get thrown on the right way? Had I been the one who'd replaced the roll most of the time? It didn't seem like it ... I've lived with guys who left me empty rolls, and Roomie's just not that kind of a guy.

"Um, so have we ever talked about how we like toilet paper hung? I mean, are you the kind of person who thinks that there is a right way to hang TP?"

He looked at me, and quickly answered.

"Fuck yeah. Overhand."

"Oh, thank god. It must have been your mom."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I couldn't have possibly made this up.

This is a real magazine I discovered in a stack of free mags at the gym:

You read that right.

Recipes, lifestyle, and weaponry. I feel like I'd be doing something wrong if I didn't subscribe.



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Old southern women

Forgive me if you already saw some of this story on Bookface, but it's so awesome it bears retelling.

Not too long ago, I accidentally got sort of wasted while talking to my best friend on the phone. 

No. Really.

So the day after, I was as hung as I'd been in a long time. Naturally, Roomie and I took the opportunity to take a break from our weekend projects and catch up on movies. He's been pushing me to watch the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movies (not for the lesbian scenes, I swear) for awhile, so we settled in. Problem is, we only had a love seat in our living room. No chairs. No couch.

See, Roomie is 6'2". Snuggles are nice for awhile. Not for 4 hours on a teenytiny lil loveseat with someone with allll of those limbs -- it seemed like he sprouted a new limb every time something violent happened.

By halfway through movie 2, we were on Craigslist. We found a guy selling a giant leather and micro-suede couch for cheap. I took another Aleve and we hitched our moving trailer to the truck and headed to town. On the way out there,  Roomie's mom called with an offer for some free furniture we needed.

While nice southern boys helped Roomie load up, I got to talk to the old southern women who were watching over the moves.

First, the Craigslist guy's grandma sat on the stoop, smoking a cigarette (which she referred to as "my habit") and telling me about how she had recently been so sick she thought she was going to die, but just as soon as she got out of the hospital, her husband had been diagnosed with brain cancer. He died two weeks later. Then her sister died.

"So," she said, poking her smoke into the air in front of her and shaking her head, "You can forgive me for my habit. I don't know what I'm going to do."

I forgave her.

Then we went to Mama Roomie's landlord's house. She was a sweet, tiny thing named Dell, and she wandered around muttering intelligible things as her grandson helped Roomie. She asked me to help move a few things, folding chairs and such, and praised Jesus that I was strong enough to do so. Then she told me I could only use her bathroom if I gave her a quarter.

As we stood on the front porch, she started waving her little hands around as she asked Jesus to bless our vehicle on our trip back to Aynor, and to fill it with angels so no demons could touch us. Then she looked at me, shrugged her little bird shoulders and said, "You're good now."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-chaay-yanges (and also some notes on trends in the south)

First off, I got a new layout (which I'm also hoping to ditch soon) and changed the way I do comments here, because I want you to know when someone replies to your comments. I think this means I'll be commenting as Serial here, just to confuse folks (did I mention I'm terrible at blogging?) -- though it's really a nod to folks who knew me back in the day.

Please tell me if you hate. Or if love it, I suppose. But to do that, you'll have to comment. Bwa ha ha ha ...

Second: I'm now going to paint an entire region with a very broad brush based on limited experience. Ready, set, go!

So there's been much ado about the DIY trend in the last few years, no? How now it's cool to knit, and to make your own food, and cook, and locally source. How it's fine and all to drink good beer, but to make good beer is truly divine.

But if you not only do all that but also grow the hops for your beer? Organically? Right on, man.

Right? I feel like I've seen this all over the place. Moms make their own baby food. Crafting is in. Store-bought is out -- or out-ish, anyway. I mean, it's really fun to make a sweater, but it takes a REALLY long time to make a sweater. So it's hard to actually stock your closet with shit you made, but oh, wouldn't you love to try! And wouldn't it just bake take the cake to make your own yarn? Except, who the crap knows how to make yarn? Or has the equipment? I think you use a spindle, right?

Actually, now that I'm thinking on it, I could probably have left my house in Bend, started knocking on doors, and within an hour turned up a guy with a spindle, and someone whose sister down the road raises free-range llamas. People where I'm from make sport of DIY. Homemade jewelry. Creating entire meals made from food produced within 100 miles -- this in the high desert, which has a ridiculously short growing season.

I thought this was a widespread trend. I know it is in a way. It spreads from places like Bend, Oregon, to Brooklyn, N.Y. And Bend's a pretty small town!

But Bend ain't the south. And I live in the legit south. Not a hip version of the south. Where I live in the south has no university, no cool music enclaves of hipness.

Now please don't think I mean the people here are backward. Some most certainly are, but for the most part, that's not the case. What I'm saying is that what's cool here has a different flavor.

I was recently asked by a co-worker if Roomie and I were "stay-at-home" kind of people (I resisted the urge to proclaim myself a former party girl, because, although it's true, bringing it up seems idiotic at a certain point) as opposed, I guess, to people who go out. She asked me this after I mentioned another fabulous meal we'd made at home (homemade curry with homemade paneer cheese with punjabi garam masala we'd ground ourselves. Ahem).

The question made me realize that the fact that we don't have kids and still prefer to stay home makes us ... kind of odd here. Now, the woman who asked is no 21-year-old partier. She's in her mid-30s, she's totally together. I just get the impression that she would rather have someone else make her good food than make her own. She likes to dress up and go out. That's something that to me, sounds nice on occasion. Most of the time, though, it doesn't appeal to me. My girls back home and I were far more apt to load up on fancy cheese from the market and stay in, sans heels. Sometimes we'd go out, but it was usually to a chap place with a stiff pour, and we were just as apt to get together on a weekend and make soap. Seriously.

I don't know anyone here who's interested in knitting. Or sewing. UNLESS they're, well ... how do I say this ... you know ... country folk. Or church ladies.

It seems like the hip girl (and boy) fondness for old world craft doesn't apply to the hip kids in this part of the country. And my theory is this: Here, raising chickens for free-range eggs ain't cool, it's farming. Sewing? Grandmothers here never stopped sewing. Same with all versions of canning, preserving and pickling (and I don't suggest you even mention kimchi). Potlucks are for church functions.

Maybe it's that when the country is gone from your life (as we pretend it is on the west coast and it most certainly is in actual urban areas), things country people "did" seem cool. When those country people are still doing them, and you can see the country folk selling that shit on the roadside to tourists, it doesn't seem cool anymore.

Am I right (or am I right)?

*Note: All of this pretty much ignores the existence of the midwest. Where I guess (based on the 3 people in my world who live in the midwest) people are into knitting and scrapbooking, despite their farm ties? Is it because the midwest has a better relationship with its rural roots? I'm sure some of my midwestern (bred, at least) readers will fill me in.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Homestead

Wow, so, holy crap. The south is crazy.

My life has been insane.

The end.









I kid!

I'll give up some of the details, starting with a bit of advice: Don't ever live in someone's living room. Especially your boyfriend's dad and stepmom's living room.

Really. Just don't. And their garage? Probably not a lot better than the living room.

Yeah. It was horrible.

But now we have a house! It's junky and drafty and in a teeny tiny little town (Aynor, S.C., population: 640) and it has stinky cupboards and a garage that looks like a barn and I absolutely love it.

But it's tons of work. We got a good deal, but when we moved in, there was dirt everywhere. Gross dirt. Other people's dirt. A thick orange syrup covering the bottom of the fridge with hunks of mac and cheese in it. Cat food scattered under the sink, covered in mold. A freezer full of mildew. And cockroaches -- or, excuse me, palmetto bugs -- everywhere, dead. Upturned, legs in the air -- they left rusty spots on the floor when you scraped them off the hardwoods or the bathtub. Dead lizards in the windowsills.

But that? The scum everywhere? The smell of cat urine in the laundry room? Not the worst of it. The worst was the NASCAR room.


Oh yeah. You got that right. It was painted glossy black, and someone had applied a checkerboard wallpaper strip all the way around the room, plus wallpaper strips of the NASCAR logo placed randomly about the room.

Still. Despite the scum, the cockroaches, the NASCAR logos, we could see the house's charm. An acre. A porch. Two rows of 50-year old muscadine grapes. Enough rooms for all of our crap.

So now, we've been here for two weeks, and everything's different. Before, we were actually fighting from time to time -- something we'd never really done before. Not bad fighting, but fighting. It's amazing what a home does for you. We're both in such better head spaces. The other day, Roomie was singing a song in the kitchen. The words? "I'm so happy ... I'm so happy ..." ... and this is coming from someone who's taking calculus.

We've worked our asses off, and there's more work to do. But here's ye olde photodump:


I heard once that Oregon is one of the least-churched states in the U.S. Well, folks, I now officially live in the Bible belt. And church is allllll up in my face, considering what I now do (if you missed out on that: I work for a company whose clients are all churches). Plus, there's a church on every street. I drive an hour to work every day, and I haven't counted the number of churches I pass on my way to work, but suffice to say it's a lot. A lot a lot. There are two big ones in my tiny town, plus I see signs all the time for churches that meet in smaller places, houses, community centers, malls. If I were a photographer, I'd start a photo project on the churches. I love the quaint chapels with the manicured cemeteries, and I love the gospel barns (photo to come of that one). They're just so damn cute.


This sign sits at the end of a vacant lot across the street from our hardware store, which is right next to the tire center. We also have a tiny BBQ joint I haven't gotten to try because it's only open during lunch hours, and "sometimes on Thursday and Friday nights," according to a sign in the window. My new doctor says it's been around forever and it's owned by a "nice black family" and it's "real good." I can't wait to try it and guest blog about it on Donuts 4 Dinner.


Hipstermatic shot of the front door and the 1980s crappy stained glass.


We painted out living room smurf blue to cover up the painfully cheery peachy color. I like it.


We also bought edible lettuce plants, a good plan since we can't install a huge garden like we had originally hoped, on account of the fact that there's a chance our landlord doesn't own our house and we may have to move out. But that's another story.




Yard! Ball! Cilantro!


When you live in a tourist destination, you think the tourist crap is stupid. Fortunately, my girlfriends realized I'd have a different opinion once I left. Yay Bend! Now, where is my University of Oregon gear?

The former NASCAR room. It's now Kermit green. We also have an elephant gray room. Don't diss the mistint aisle at WalMart.



Ain't she sweet? We just need some rockers. Maybe a swing.