June 2005 Archives

age of consent

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I forgot one funny thing that happened at the funeral. I was looking at a nice photo display, showing some of the things Aunt Honey had done in her life. She was an avid traveler so there were photos of her sitting on a glacier, snorkeling with tropical fish, riding a donkey, crossing a gorge on a rope ladder, all kinds of things. Anyway Honey's four year old granddaughter Samantha came over to look at the photos too, spotted my nose ring, and we had the following conversation:

"Why do you have an earring in your nose?"

I wear it in my nose instead of my ears. See? My ears aren't pierced.

"How old are you? My mom says I can't get my belly button pierced until I'm older."

I'm 36. You have to wait until you're 36, like me.

[At this Samantha's father whispered "Thank you!" to me.]

"36!?! My mom said I only had to wait until I was 16."

At this point Samantha ran off to ask her mother whether she really had to wait 20 years longer than expected for her belly button piercing. I'm not sure what her mother said, but after the lunch I went up to Samantha and asked her if she would show me her piercing after she turned 36. All she would say was to repeat "36!?!" To a four year old that must seem ancient, practically one foot in the grave.

amy marshalewski, 1937-2005

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We left Staten Island around 7:30 in the morning yesterday, and made it to DE in time for the funeral. A little early, in fact. I had never seen an open casket viewing before, and it was a little weird, but I have to admit that they did a wonderful job. She was wearing her favorite evening dress and the makeup was lovely. Honestly, she looked nicer in the coffin than she did before she died.

The service was nice, though I wish the pastor had talked a little less about Jesus and a little more about my aunt. He barely mentioned her except in general terms of her being with Jesus now. It kind of felt like a regular Sunday sermon that happened to take place in front of a dead body.

A few years ago I went to a funeral in Burlington, NC for a distant cousin's husband, and though I didn't know him at all I learned a lot about him from the funeral. By the end of the service I felt as if I did know him, in a way. But I didn't feel that way about Aunt Honey's funeral. I don't think a stranger would have learned anything about her at the service. The preacher did sing a song that she had written, which was a nice gesture.

After the funeral my cousin Patti (Honey's daughter) had arranged a lunch at a nice Italian restaurant nearby. My folks were tired but Georg and I went with my sister. That was really good, it gave us a chance to share stories with people who had known Honey in different parts of her life. We sat with some folks Honey had told me about many times and I really appreciated the chance to talk with them.

Georg drove back up to Staten Island right after the funeral, but I stayed here in Delaware. He says his father is doing better; they've moved him out of ICU. As for myself, I'm just chilling out today. Reading a book (The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco) and watching my parents' neighbor cut down a massive tree. The tree man's chain saw doesn't seem to be quite long enough. He cut all the way around a section of trunk about 20 feet up, then had to kick at it with his foot to topple it. Is that how they're supposed to do it? I never watched anyone cut down a tree before.

Tomorrow morning Georg will pick me up and we'll head back down to Durham. And then to work on Friday. This vacation didn't turn out quite like I had expected. But at least we had a car with us. My sister told me yesterday that if we had flown to New York & didn't have a car, she would have told me to get on a train out of New York and she would have driven up to New Jersey to get me. So either way I wouldn't have missed the funeral. But that would have been a huge hassle for her, and then I would have had to get back up there in order to fly back to NC. Harried and stressful as it was, this way was still much easier.

we are cursed


Last time we visited NY, Georg and I both got a stomach bug and spent the entire visit being sick at his folks' house on Staten Island. This time, Georg's dad had to go to the ICU for pneumonia, and I just found out my aunt Honey died on Saturday.

The funeral is tomorrow morning, so we had to cut short our stay in Manhattan, cancel our dinner reservation at Babbo and bail on our second night at the swanky Hotel Wales. (Who charged us for tonight anyway, which we expected since checkout time was 11 am but we didn't check out until 6 pm). The hotel was on the upper east side and it took almost 3 hours to get back Staten Island, where our car is. Leaving at 7 tomorrow morning will get us there just in time for the funeral. After the funeral Georg will come back up here to visit with his dad. I may come back with him, or I may stay in DE and have him pick me up on Thursday morning on the way back to NC.

Despite all the impending trauma we had a lovely day in the city yesterday, and I had a wonderful time with my friends in Yonkers over the weekend. And I made it to the Fluevog store and bought a superadorable pair of shoes before I got the phone call about my aunt. However, I'm beginning to think I shouldn't come back to New York. God knows what would happen next time.

things I forgot to mention


My friends Nellorat, Womzilla and Supergee gave me a T-shirt from the Bronx Zoo. They get free shirts with their membership but the shirts don't come in large sizes, so they give a shirt to friends they take with them to the zoo. The Bronx Zoo shirtmakers are sizist! The shirt doesn't come in girly either, but it did come in youth M. And I must say, either kids are getting bigger or their shirts are, because this shirt seems way too big for a medium sized child. It's cute though. It has bugs on it because the zoo is about to open a new bug carousel. I'm bummed that wasn't open today.

Did you know the Onion has a print edition in New York? Well they do. They're even advertising for a job that I could totally do. (Me and ten thousand other people who already live here.) I scanned it for ads of cool stores we might want to visit, but the ads were all for clubs. Speaking of which:

Awesome shows we are going to miss while we are here:

  • Madlib and Peanut Butter Wolf
  • Ojos de Brujo
  • I couldn't stand it anymore and stopped reading the ads at that point.

the doom song


I spent the day gallivanting around Yonkers and the Bronx while Georg was visiting his father in the hospital on Staten Island. Not my most selfless of deeds. But, there really wasn't anything I could do there. Georg's dad has pneumonia and they're hoping he'll be better tomorrow.

Anyway, my adventures in the northern part of metropolitan New York. I had a leisurely morning reading in bed (the Iron Chef book, which Kevin had thoughtfully left out for me), then we all got up late and went to a Chinese buffet they particularly like in the Bronx. I know, that makes Chinese two meals in a row. But this place was amazing. Usually "big buffet" means "lots of crummy food" but this place was not like that at all. They had all kinds of things, many of which I'd never even heard of before. Everything was good and much of it was spectacular. My friends warned me to pace myself and they were right. I only had one small portion of everything I tried, and I still ate a little too much without getting to everything I wanted. I would list everything I ate, except it's late and I can't remember. I do remember that they had steamed baby octopus (which I did not eat), sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves (which I did eat), three different kinds of dumpling (I had two), and tapioca pearl tea (I've been wanting to try this forever, but alas it was too sweet & I didn't really enjoy it).

Then off to the Bronx Zoo. Unfortunately the zoo was only open until 5:30, and we got there fairly late, so we only had a couple of hours. But it was so hot that we probably wouldn't have enjoyed a longer visit. I wish they stayed open later! It was actually pleasant by the time we were leaving. It would have been great to get there at 4 and stay until 8. But anyway. In two hours we visited the tigers, the children's zoo, the butterfly habitat, and the mouse house. Which actually contained all kinds of rodents, not just mice. I think the biggest were the "cloud rats," and the smallest were these teeny tiny little mice who looked like babies. Nellorat knew a lot about the various types of rodents: how they related to other more common species, whether they were ever sold as pets, etc. Also Nellorat said that the Norway rat display was wrong: the plaque claimed that Norway rats were responsible for spreading plague but according to Nellorat that was a different species of rat. I think she should write them a letter.

The most fun part of the children's zoo was the prairie dog habitat. Which had a tunnel that people could crawl into and stick their heads up inside a small plastic dome, to get an eye-level view of the prairie dogs. The tunnel was child sized but I barely managed to fit inside. I should have asked Nellorat to take my picture while I was in there, but I had the camera with me. I had to crawl out of the tunnel feet first, and kind of had a hard time getting out without my dress riding up around my waist. Good thing no one had a camera then!

The butterfly habitat was very nice, especially since it was air conditioned. There were butterflies everywhere, on the flowers and on butterfly feeders too. I followed this one black and yellow butterfly all around, but it was skittish so I don't think I ever got a decent photo of it.

After the zoo we had takeout Italian for dinner, watched a couple episodes of Invader Zim (including the famous "doom song"), then listened to a radio show that Kevin's fond of. Which had a hilarious incident where they went to dead air for a fair amount of time, it seemed like at least a minute. Then the dj suddenly came on and started babbling incoherently about how he had gone to the bathroom and gotten locked out, and what song had been playing when he had left, and how long had there been dead air, and could the other dj get in there and help him figure out what had happened. Community radio, how I love it!

happy tree friend

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Greetings from Yonkers! I'm having a fabulous time with my friends Nellorat, Womzilla and Supergee up here. We met for dinner at Ollie's Noodle Shop, a Chinese restaurant right near Times Square. On the way there Georg and I discovered that the Staten Island Ferry terminal has been rebuilt and is much nicer. Actually for the last couple of years it had been under construction & was really atrociously awful, but it was no great shakes before that either. Now it's all shiny new and sort of deco. And on the floor there's a mosaic depicting the harbor with Ellis Island, Governor's Island, and a dotted line showing the ferry's course.

We also discovered that in New York people will talk about your tattoo within hearing, but they will not touch you without invitation. For some reason in North Carolina lots of people feel free to grab and/or touch my back, without asking and sometimes without even announcing themselves first. But this is the city of "back the fuck off." I did catch some guy looking down my dress on the subway, but I just crossed my arm across my chest until he moved away.

Dinner was fantastic: we shared dumplings with chili oil, szechuan noodles, roast duck, broccoli with garlic sauce, shitake mushrooms and pea shoots -- which were the stem and curly-cue shoots, very yummy -- and roast pork with noodles. Every dish was excellent and I haven't had Chinese food in a long time, so it was really nice to do that.

(Speaking of which, I've been meaning to post about that roast pork in Chinese restaurants, the kind that's red on the edges. Because we made it at home recently. Except we didn't use the red food coloring. The marinade is mostly hoisin and spices, and you have to put water in a roasting pan and put the meat on a wire rack over the water. So it roasts and steams at the same time. It turned out really really good. The recipe is called "char siu" and I realized in the middle of making it that I already knew that word. See, in high school I waitressed at a Chinese restaurant. I got the job because I was learning Chinese, but I was studying Mandarin and everyone at the restaurant spoke Cantonese. So there was no opportunity for me to practice Mandarin, but I did learn some food words in Cantonese. The most common takeout order at the restaurant was (imagine shouting at the top of your lungs in a noisy kitchen) CHAR siu DIN-gay! Sai-ge HA chau fan! Which means "egg rolls and small shrimp fried rice." I always thought char siu meant "one order" and din-gay meant "egg roll," but if char siu means "roast pork" then it must have meant "pork egg rolls." I knew what sai-ge ha chau fan meant, that was pretty close to the same words in Mandarin.

But I digress.)

After dinner we went down to a subway station at 23rd street that has cool tile mosaics of hats on the walls. Each hat has a little label below it naming a famous person, so we speculate that the mosaics depicted hats actually worn by those people. And the hats were at different heights on the wall which may have been the height of the original wearer. Pretty cool.

After that Georg needed to get back to Staten Island, so the rest of us headed up to Yonkers. Where I got a tour of the house, which I hadn't seen in about 10 years and is looking really good. They have an amazing amount of stuff which is remarkably well organized. I also got to meet their 14 pet rats. Who are exceedingly cute. They're just like big mice, or like guinea pigs with tails. They like to crawl up and down your clothes, and one of them even crawled into the sleeve of my dress! Their claws didn't hurt but did seem to irritate my skin: I was itchy and red where they had walked on bare skin. Nellorat said the same thing happens to her. The rats are in various cages all around the house, according to their complex social hierarchy. There are 3 in the guest room with me: Wilbur, Franklin and ... Orville? No offense, third rat, I forgot your name. They make a little bit of noise but it doesn't bother me. I had guinea pigs in my room when I was young so the sound of rodents moving about a cage during the night isn't unknown to me.

Tomorrow we had planned to go to the Bronx Zoo, but may not make it due to the predicted insanely hot weather. We may go a little later in the day when it's cooled off a bit. We shall see!

he who plants pavement


Greetings from sunny Staten Island. We were up too late getting ready, as usual, and still finishing things up in the morning, so we didn't get on the highway until about 10. It was tough to leave the dogs behind. Thirteen likes the people at the kennel and goes with them willingly, but Jane did not want to go. She planted herself and just stared back at us. (Well mainly at Georg, to be honest. She's really attached to him.) I had to pretend like I was going with them to get her moving in the right direction. All day I worried that Jane was going to think we sent her back to the shelter. Next time I am definitely looking into a pet sitter. Anyway, traffic was a bitch -- isn't it always? -- but we got here eventually.

Now I'm in my jammies, wearing a dab of Oneroi to help me relax, and checking in with the world. The Pattersons' neighbor still leaves their wireless network open and if I position the computer just right, I get three bars!

Their other neighbor has a little sign in the front yard which says "He who plants a garden plants love." Which I found hilarious because said neighbor paved over their entire front yard a few years ago. Seriously, the yards on Staten Island are small and theirs is 100% pavement. Perhaps the plaque, which sits in a little planter box on the edge of the pavement, is a quiet protest by someone in the house who didn't want the yard turned into a parking lot. I've never actually met the neighbors so I'll probably never know.

Tomorrow we're meeting up with old friends Nellorat and Womzilla for dinner in the city (Chinese! yay!) and then I'm heading back to Yonkers to hang with them and the third of their trio, Supergee, for a couple of days. We're planning a trip to the Bronx Zoo on Saturday, which I'm really looking forward to. I've heard excellent things about it & haven't been to a zoo in many years. Then Georg and I will spend a couple of days in the city: the Max Ernst show, also a Chanel exhibit (both at the Met, how convenient), dinner at Babbo (Mario Batali's restaurant), a visit to the Fluevog store, and various and sundry fun things. And then back here to Staten Island to continue the family portion of the visit. I'm leaving the computer here rather than lug it all over the city, so I won't have net access for most of the week.

bpal madness


So today is the full moon, time for a one-day-only special at Black Phoenix. I didn't go crazy but I did place an order.

Buck Moon: only available in 5ml bottles, which is what I bought.
"This Full Moon marks the time of the year when the new antlers of buck deer emerge from their foreheads, coated in soft velvet. This is a time of masculine vigor, thunder, balmy nights, glorious sunlight and hot winds. Buck Moon is an animalistic, deep scent: an amplification of one痴 natural musk coupled with forest herbs, a hint of clear, warm evening air and a crystalline spark of lunar oil."

I'm leery of all that musk, but then again I really liked Wanda so I figured it's worth a try. if I don't like it I can always swap and/or sell it off.

Tarot: Strength: only available in 10ml bottles, which is what I bought. No description provided by the Lab but reviews describe it as earthy, warm, and green. I've already arranged a swap with Bummble & I'm hoping I'll be able to swap/sell as much as I need to.

Dorian: bought 5ml bottle. "A Victorian fougere with three pale musks and dark, sugared vanilla tea." I heart Embalming Fluid (white musk and tea) so much that this one seems like a sure thing. Also it's very popular, so if I bizarrely end up hating it, I'll have no trouble swapping/selling it.

Also I got an imp pack while I was at it.
Sudha Segara: "Sweet milk and warm, healing ginger with a touch of golden honey and our blend of Ambrosia." People love this one, and I love ginger, so I thought I'd better give it a try.
The Dormouse: "A dizzying eddy of four teas brushed with light herbs and a breath of peony." I hope all the teas smell as good as Embalming Fluid, because I'm going to have a lot of them.
Santa Eularia des Riu: "Piquant citrus tempered by jasmine, soft Mediterranean herbs, lavender and orange blossom." This one is too new to have any reviews yet.
O: "Amber and honey with a touch of vanilla." Another one I'm ordering because people like it so much.
Verdandi:"Deep herbs and apple with black amber." I sure hope amber works on me.
Nanshe: A somnium that's supposed to help encourage dreaming, it's described as lavendar and lemongrass.

I did not buy the other two of today's limited editions: Carnivale, "sweet wild berry, spicy carnation and heliotrope layered over deep amber and musk;" or Love in the Asylum, "two roses, tolu balsam and ambergris with vanilla, labdanum, tobacco leaf, carnation and tonka." I don't even know what half that stuff is, but I know I don't want a heavy floral like rose.

max ernst

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June 21 movie: Max Ernst. Skipping ahead a bit because I want to write about tonight's movie. It's a documentary about Max Ernst, which Georg thoughtfully rented before our trip, which will include the big Ernst retrospective at the Met.

So the movie was actually somewhat flawed as a biography. It tended to introduce characters and then drop them without explanation. People who seemed to me rather important, like Ernst's son and all his ex-wives. Also there was an unfortunate reliance on re-enactments. So much that the movie at times came off like one of those shows on Discovery about dogs saving lives or people having supernatural encounters. For instance a reading from Peggy Guggenheim's diary, about how when she first met Ernst he had hung his art from a tree to sell it, accompanies re-enacted footage of a mysterious hand lifting Ernst paintings into a tree. Dorothea Tannen's memoirs about living with Ernst in Arizona are read to endless footage of an antique car on Arizona roads, towing a trailer full of crated art. (At one point the car meets two men on horseback and you can faintly hear someone yell "Hi, Max!" Hilarious.)

On the other hand, the movie was chock full of images of Ernst's art. Which was why we watched it in the first place, so I can forgive the pseudo-documentary re-enactments. There were many pieces I'd never seen before, and also many that I'd only seen in black and white, in books. I'm already excited wondering how many of those pieces will be at the exhibit. According to the exhibit webpage they have Vox Angelica and The Robing of the Bride and the webpage also says they have copies of his 3 most important collage novels! Wowie wow wow. La femme 100 têtes, A little girl dreams of taking the veil and Une semaine de bonté. (Which I thought meant "A week of kindness," but in the movie they said it actually means "A week in which everything is cheaper." It must be slang, like "happy hour" in the US.) I can't wait to see them. I wonder if they removed and hung the pages so we can see the entire contents, or if the books are just in a case open to one page. I have a reproduction of one of the books (I think it's Une semaine de bonté) but it will be amazing to see an original printing.

The movie also had much interview footage of Ernst, both talking and working, which was interesting and made up for the interminable quotes from Tannen's rather pompous memoirs. ("The fact that we were both visionaries," she intoned, "was simply a marvelous coincidence to me.") There were even a couple of brief clips of that famous "Degenerate Art" show, including a photo of Hitler standing right next to an Ernst. That was creepy. Especially when they said that the painting in question was lost during the war.

we do not call it the precious


More BPAL arrived today! I got Mi-Go Brain Canister, which is supposed to smell spicy and pink, a counterpoint to Pink Moon I guess, but I didn't open the imp to smell it. Also Szepasszony, which I tried on and with which I was extremely disappointed. It's supposed to smell like a rainstorm, but after fifteen minutes it turned into fabric softener sheets. That's the second "watery" scent I've tried, and the second that smelled like a cleaning product. Dang. I so love the descriptions of the aquatics. I really wanted them to work for me. I've got another watery scent (Sea of Glass) on the way. If it also smells like soap, I'll know to avoid them in future.

Lisa came over and took a tour of the garden as she very kindly agreed to water while we're away. Being a bit obsessive I drew a map. It's not really that much to water, but I thought it would be easier to keep track of it that way. I offered her some vegetables in repayment, but unfortunately all we've got in eatable condition are beets and chard, neither of which tempted her. (At least I'll be able to do Moses-feeding duty in the future.) Hey Lisa, if you see any male squash blossoms (they don't have a little tiny round fruit at the base) you're welcome to those too. Be careful when you pick them because the plants are spiny. And if you do decide to take any chard, just cut the biggest leaves off each plant, rather than cutting any plant entirely down.

Jane showed off her very good "sit" for Lisa, and with some coaxing we got her to do "down" too. She really should be able to do "down" without a treat at this point, but that's still pretty rare. And getting her into heel position is still a wash. Whenever she sees the treat, she sits. I guess because it's what she knows. Thirteen was very brave too, coming close enough to let us both know how stinky she is right now. It's all that rolling around on the ground to scratch her back. I really need to bathe her.

Speaking of stinky, we had to play with my (small, but growing) BPAL collection. I did my first trade! Pink Moon to Lisa, for an as-yet-to-be-determined imp. In other words when she starts to get her stuff, she'll give me something that I want but didn't work for her. Also she tried on Embalming Fluid. (Which I consistently typo as Emblaming Fluid. What would that be? Perfume that assists the wearer in passing the buck?)

I love Embalming Fluid. I lurrrve it, and it was actually a little odd to smell it on someone else. I've worn it every day for the past week, and I guess I'm starting to get used to it on myself. A few times when she moved I caught a hint of it, and had this weird thought of "hey, she smells like me!" (I hasten to add it wasn't a strong scent at all, definitely not Stinky Perfume Lady.) I love citrus, and love tea, so I bought a bottle of Embalming Fluid before I had even smelled it. Thank goodness it worked for me! In my database I rate each scent I've tried, and Embalming Fluid is the only one so far to warrant the highest rating ("yowza"). I hope I can find something which suits me so well but will be appropriate for cooler weather. Maybe Dorian.

thirteen update

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I talked to Dr. Broussard yesterday, to follow up on the test results from earlier in the week. She said what I suspected: it's very good news that the swelling in Thirteen's leg is arthritis rather than bone cancer, but it's also frustrating news because there's not a lot we can do about arthritis.

We're already doing all the obvious things: rimadyl, glucosamine and fish oil twice a day, and trying to reduce Thirteen's weight. Also I had made an appointment with a pet acupuncturist, which Dr. Broussard seemed very positive about. (And yes, in case you hadn't guessed already, I am insane over my dog.)

I asked if we should try to keep Thirteen active or not. Dr. Broussard said that mild activity might help to keep the joint lubricated, but we should avoid anything too strenuous and also keep an eye on whether she seems more lame the morning after exercise. Thirteen wasn't exactly a frisbee-chaser anyway, so I doubt overdoing it will be a problem. I think we should keep doing things like the lure chase, where Jane gets a good workout and Thirteen gets her own exercise just coming along to watch.

Also Dr. Broussard suggested that we might look into herbal remedies. Like alfalfa, which supposedly reduces pain from arthritis. Coincidentally I happened to meet the people who do the People's Pharmacy recently. I think I'll hit them up for advice next time I talk to them.

stinky business


Lisa wrote about how Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab cleverly increases sales on a luxury item by reducing risk for their customers (low entry price, vast selection, thriving aftermarket). They also encourage enthusiasm, I think, with frequent "limited edition" additions to the catalog. They have a new series based on a theme every two months, plus one-day-only specials at least once a month, on the full moon and on important days of the pagan calendar. None of the limited editions are available in sample imps, and I'm sure that many people buy bottles of a limited edition but would have settled for an imp if the same scent were in the regular catalog. And those people probably buy other things at the same time, to round out the order. I'm already planning what I'm going to order next Wednesday when "Buck Moon" goes on sale.

Also, by not offering sample imps for a few regular catalog lines (the Tarot, the Sephiroth, Panacea), they make those lines seem more valuable. There may be a non-marketing reason for this: they claim to blend all oils to order rather than keeping any product inventory. Maybe they don't sell enough of these lines for it to be worth making imps for people.

I ordered some empty imp-sized bottles so that I could try the Tarot oils with less financial committment: if I'm not crazy about one, I can decant it off and sell or swap them on the forum. Bummble and I have already worked out a swap (she's going to get the Hermit and I'm going to get Strength). I guess I need to get pipettes too, although I've heard that some people use little straws.

And one additional way they generate enthusiasm is to generously give freebie imps with every order. I can't tell you how many forum reviews begin with "I would never have picked this scent for myself, but the lab included it with my last order and I love it...."

Also I got my storage box set up yesterday. It's a Ganesh lunchbox which I padded with cloth-covered foam. I really like the way it turned out. The center divider moves, so it can hold the imps snugly upright. Unfortunately the foam was a little thick and took up more volume than I expected. If my collection grows too fast I'll have to get a bigger lunchbox, or thinner foam. I guess that will be an incentive not to go too crazy.

And to keep track of all this I made myself a little BPAL database. I'm tracking my wishlist, my scent reviews, orders I've placed and my inventory. I am such a geek.

One last, funny thing: Georg mentioned to me recently that my interest in Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has put in his head the theme song from a video game we both used to play with a similar name. The same is true for me! Whenever I see BPAL's full name written out, I hear the voice from the beginning of game saying "It's time for ... Burning Monkey Puzzle Lab! Are .. you .. ready?" That was a fun game, I should download it again and pay the shareware fee this time.

bpal review: pink moon


So apparently they release another Lunacy blend every month, for just one day. On the full moon maybe? The next one is coming up on the 22nd. They don't release the descriptions in advance but the next one is called Buck Moon.

Pink Moon was from three months ago. WIth the two month delay in fulfillment (I hear that they recently lost two staffers from an already small company), the people who ordered it just received it a few weeks ago. So it's probably the easiest Lunacy blend to get on LJ right now. I ordered it because of the song, although it actually has nothing to do with the song.

Pink Moon The name of this moon refers to the color of wild ground phlox, a primary component of this Lunacy Blend, which is one of the most widespread floral signposts of springtime in North America. This Lunar blend is soft with phlox, tulip, daffodil, dogwood and muscari, dusted with pink sugar and honey, and a touch of the first strawberries of the season.

In the Bottle: Bubble gum. Wet, juicy bubble gum. yikes, it痴 sweet.

Wet: This is going to sound weird, but it smells pink. Pink and sweet. Is that pink smell carnation?

Georg could also smell this one from several feet away, but he walked in just as I was capping the bottle so the scent was still pretty fresh. And his first reaction was a very satisfying 典his one痴 nice; what is it?�

Drydown: Still sweet floral. The cotton candy sweetness makes this more youthful and girly than the others I致e tried. Definitely not a work scent! I thought I would hate anything as sweet as this. But to my surprise, I like it. I知 not sure if it痴 me, but I like it.

I just read the description and I guess the pink smell is phlox, and what I read as cotton candy is sugar and strawberry. Strawberry in a description has been a big turnoff to me thus far. Maybe it痴 OK here because it痴 not a dominant note.

Lasting: After 4 hours it痴 mellowed out to a faint sweetness. Georg said it still smells the same to him, just less strong. I like it a lot at this phase.

Repurchase: at Limited Edition prices, no, but I値l use what I have.

Overall: It痴 a pretty scent but too sweet for every day use. I値l save this for when I want to feel all girly.

mega music nerd

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How much of a music nerd are you? I only scored "Mega Music Nerd." But then I'm not that much of a music nerd, at least not for people who dj at a radio station. I bet there are a half dozen people reading this who will score higher.

Thanks to Lee for the link!

mr. skeffington

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June 15 movie: Mr. Skeffington. I love Bette Davis, and I love Claude Rains, and therefore I love this movie. But. The movie is seriously fucked up. Davis plays an utterly selfish woman who marries Rains for money, knowing he idolizes her but not caring, plays around on him for years, and eventually drives him away. She continues pretending to be the 18 year old belle of the ball for decades, until she's stricken with illness, loses her looks and finds out that none of her friends are really friends after all. Alone and unloved, she reunites with Rains. He's alone, penniless and blinded from a stint in a Nazi concentration camp so he can't tell that she isn't beautiful anymore. And she's been brought so low, so miserable and humiliated, that she's finally learned to appreciate him. Nothing like a happy ending.

It reminded me a lot of the ending of Jane Eyre. "Yay, you're blind and helpless and now I can take care of you!" What a screwed up concept of love! I didn't like it there and I don't like it here. I hardly want to mention the conceit of a Jewish man getting out of a concentration camp during the war and getting back to the US with nothing worse than blindness, as the movie was made in 1944 and Hollywood probably didn't know the truth yet.

But there are some great things about this movie: for one, excellent supporting work by Water Abel and Jerome Cowan. Also there's a very touching scene where Rains tries to convince his daughter to stay with her cold, unloving, Gentile mother, because he wants to protect her from anti-Semitism. I must say, though Davis gets more screen time Rains is really the best thing about the movie for me. His acting is so understated. The way he looks at Davis on the day they get married, when he realizes she doesn't love him at all, is heartbreaking.

kill bill vol. 1

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June 13 movie: Kill Bill vol. 1. This is the third time I've seen this, and I was hoping I'd get off easy and be able to just link to my previous write-ups. But alas, both previous viewings were from before I started the movie list. Still, I find I have nothing to say. Everyone who's interested has already seen it multiple times.

Oh wait, I thought of something. Julie Dreyfus, who played Sofie (O-ren Ishii's lawyer) shows up as a judge on an episode of Iron Chef. I seem to recall that it was a battle with a major challenger, like Kandagawa or Ota. And Dreyfus shocked and appalled the rest of the panel by refusing to eat whale meat, which was served by the challenger.

the night of the hunter

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June 13 movie: The Night of the Hunter. I had seen this movie before, but it didn't have the same impact on me the first time. I guess I just didn't get it. This time, oh man. It hit me with a wallop. Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish are all at the top of their games. Winters always blows me away. She's so vulnerable it's a little painful to watch.

The visuals are amazing. Almost expressionist (if I can say that without sounding too pompous). There are a few shots which have been haunting me since I saw it last week: the children's first encounter with Mitchum, when little boy's shadow is blotted out by Mitchum's shadow; Mitchum and Winters' final confrontation in a bedroom that looks like a chapel, and the way she lies in her bed like she's already dead; Winters' body sitting underwater in the car, her hair and the reeds flowing together; Mitchum futiley chasing the children's boat through the water, arms raised like some kind of wild creature.

[spoiler alert] The most shocking thing was near the end, when Mitchum is caught by the police. To show how badly I had missed the mark the first time I saw this movie, I remembered the end completely wrong: I remembered that after Mitchum was captured the children gave the money to Gish, and then they all lived happily and much more comfortably ever after.

Actually the little boy reacts exactly as when his own father (Peter Graves), the bank robber who set everything in motion, was captured at the beginning of the movie. When the boy yelled "No, don't! Take it; it's too much!" and threw the money on Mitchum's body, the hairs literally stood up on the back of my neck. It's rare to see such profound emotion communicated in so few words, by a child actor no less.

And that wasn't the only major issue to chew on in this movie: There was also Depression-era poverty: when the children beg for food as they travel along the river, they get lost in the crowds of other children also begging at every farmhouse. And Robert Mitchum's superbly creepy minister/sexual predator, first wearer of the oft-imitated "Love/Hate" knuckle tattoos. I don't know if the "evil preacher" was as much of a cliche in 1955 as it is now. But Mitchum's character avoids cliche by being, as far as I can tell, completely sincere in his faith. He seems to believe that God is at least okay with, if not outright approving of, him killing all those women so he can use their money to preach. Early in the film he prays "Not that You mind the killings. Your book is full of killings."

What really saves this movie from being an exercise in Christian-bashing is Lillian Gish. Her character practices what she preaches, having devoted her life to raising orphans. Talk about faith versus works! It's telling that Gish is the only female character, young or old, who isn't immediately seduced by Mitchum. She sees right through him and her force of will is stronger than his. (Not to mention her shotgun trumping his switchblade.) And I think her character narrowly avoids being overly saintly, despite the saccharine "they abide" speech at the end, due to the shot of her waiting for Mitchum with a gun in her lap.

The Night of the Hunter is not just a good, scary story with creepy visuals, but one of the best and most complex movies I've seen in a long time. Charles Laughton was a damned genius and I can't believe he never directed again.

nausicaa of the valley of the wind

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June 11 movie: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Georg has already written about this so I'll just add that it was wonderful. The far future, sort of science fiction setting really played to Miyazaki's strength at creating fantastic, magical worlds. As Georg mentioned I did notice some visuals in common with Princess Mononoke. Notably the failed resurrection of the Giant Warrior reminded me visually of the death of the Spirit of the Forest in Mononoke. And as Alicia pointed out, we were bemused by the random glimpses of Nausicaa's bare behind. I keep telling myself that she was wearing cream colored leggings under that short skirt!

bells are ringing

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June 9 movie: Bells Are Ringing. I recorded this because I thought it was a Dean Martin movie. Actually it was a Judy Holliday movie in which Dean Martin has a small part. I'm not crazy about Holliday's singing and acting style; it's too slapstick for me. So having her front and center all the time was not such a good thing for me. Martin only had a couple of songs and only one good one ("Just In Time"). Overall a disappointment.

the ladykillers

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June 9 movie: The Ladykillers. This may be Alec Guinness' most famous Ealing movie (certainly since the remake), but I think it's also my least favorite. Maybe it's those creepy teeth. Or maybe just because it's meaner than the others. Then again, is The Ladykillers really more mean-spirited than Kind Hearts and Coronets? Hard to say. Oh well, I think All at Sea is still my favorite. Or maybe The Man in the White Suit.

wild wild planet

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June 8 movie: Wild Wild Planet. Will I sound as facile as a real movie critic if I say that Wild Wild Planet was wildly wildly disappointing? It was promoted as a mid-60s Italian sf movie about an army of inflatable women in miniskirts stealing the world's leaders by shrinking them. It sort of had all those elements, but was vastly less fun than that description makes it sound. It was MST3K bad. But not "so bad it's funny." Just bad.

the incredibles

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June 7: The Incredibles. What fun! I enjoyed it immensely, and I suspect I would have enjoyed it even more if I were better versed with the superhero genre. At least I got the broad jokes, like the running gag about supervillains "monologuing." But you shouldn't be surprised that my favorite part by far was the Edith Head-esque superhero costume designer.

thought control


Okay so this is the last post I'm going to make on Left Behind and then I'm done with the whole sordid mess and can take the books back to the library before I rack up a fine. The last book, Glorious Appearing, covers Jesus' triumphant return to Earth, his defeat of the Antichrist and the beginning of his thousand year reign. In a word, it's evil. It's so evil it makes the earlier books seem almost benevolent. Jesus comes back, kills tens of thousands with His voice, then teleports everyone on Earth to Jerusalem, forces them all to worship Him, then kills all the unbelievers. Then His thousand year rule over the few survivors begins, with Jesus the Ultimate Dictator scrutinizing not only their every action, public and private, but even their every thought. He's in their heads, responding to their thoughts before they are formed. Not one moment of privacy, even in your own mind. The End.

The Jesus of Left Behind isn't the lamb of peace they taught us about in Catholic school. He's really into vengeance, punishment, smiting His enemies. And the punishment for being the Antichrist is identical to the punishment for being taken in by the Antichrist, is identical to the punishment for resisting the Antichrist but not being Christian, or not the right kind of Christian.

This passage, from the final book, bothered me more than anything else in the entire series:

"Then the Great White Throne Judgement, at the end of the Millenium, is the final one?"
"But it doesn't sound like there will be much to judge. People either received Christ as their Savior, or they didn't."
"Right, but we believe that God, being wise and fair and wanting to demonstrate how far men and women fall short of His standard, will judge them based on their own works. Obviously, all will fail to measure up. This will show that the punishment is deserved, and as I have said, they will be sent to the lake of fire for eternity."

They are saying (and the speaker is a "leading theologian" character who sermonizes often, so I think it's safe to assume that his opinions are those of the authors) that God has set up an impossible standard for salvation, which He will apply selectively in order to get rid of whomever He wants. A sort of heavenly kangaroo court. It shocks me that the authors, who claim to love God so much, would attribute such meanness, such weasely legalistic tricks to Him. I don't believe in Jesus Christ but after reading that, I think I have more respect for Him than they do.

I suspect that what's really going on is they're trying to explain away Revelation 20:12-13, which says that in the final judgement: "The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books....each person was judged according to what he had done." This is problematic for Lahaye and Jenkins who firmly adhere to the "faith, not works" approach to salvation. (A concept I first encountered in a Jack Chick publication in which a bank robber murders a nonchristian who lived an exemplary life. The murderer repents and accepts Jesus just before being shot to death by the cops, and goes straight to his heavenly reward. The victim? Demons and pitchforks for him!)

I clearly remember a priest telling me (in religion class; I think it was Morals) that atheists who lead good lives will be pleasantly surprised when they arrive in heaven, because they were "Christian in deed if not in word." In retrospect, I doubt this was orthodoxy. But Lahaye and Jenkins seem to have gone to the opposite extreme: in their world faith is the only thing that matters, deeds not at all. Further than that, salvation depends not on faith but on "praying the prayer," saying a specific formula of words. In Left Behind these words are given the power of a magical incantation. Once the prayer has been said, salvation is apparently guaranteed. I never got the sense from these books that I did from Catholic school, that a life of faith would be spent striving to be worthy of God's love. Instead you pray the prayer, say the magic words, then wrap yourself up forever in the snuggly blanket of knowing you are saved. No matter what happens, no matter what you do, once those words are said you are heaven-bound.

They say over and over that "the mark of God" is irrevocable and that everyone who wears it is saved. While reading I tried to figure out if they meant that once you prayed the prayer and got the mark, you could go on a raping and killing spree, and you'd still be saved. But I think they meant that once you accepted God, you would be incapable of sin. Which shows such a profound lack of understanding of human nature that I have to think I misunderstood or they were being disingenuous.

To be fair, Lahaye and Jenkins never suggest that this state of grace, immunity from sin, is possible now. In fact they never say outright that it happens to the believers in the end times. They mostly avoid the subject of sin committed by believers. There are a few minor conflicts among them, and heroic asshole Rayford Steele has a period in one of the middle books of being more of an asshole than usual. But for the most part none of the believers ever commit misdeeds (at least, nothing that the authors apparently see as misdeeds).

And while I'm on the subject of the mark of God, I have to say that a really ugly thought occurred to me while I was reading this final book. Much of what they accuse the Antichrist is also true of God, at least as they portray Him. The Antichrist puts a mark on the forehead of everyone in the world who is loyal to him; so does God. The Antichrist kills those who refuse his mark; so does God. The Antichrist tricks the condemned into thinking they can save themselves by taking the mark, then executes them anyway; Jesus forces the unbelievers to worship Him, then casts them into eternal fire anyway. Perhaps if I were Christian I wouldn't see it this way. But from where I'm standing, the Antichrist of Left Behind doesn't seem so bad compared to the God of Left Behind. At least the Antichrist couldn't get inside your head; you could feign loyalty but still have the freedom of your thoughts. In Christ's thousand year reign, even that is taken away.

The quote above, that bit of hand-waving around judgement by deeds, is followed up by this:

"But what about the goats [unbelievers] in the coming judgement? Where do they go? And will they also be judged again at the great white throne a thousand years from now?"
"Yes. For now they will be sent to hades, apparently a compartment of hell, where they will suffer until that final judgment, and then they will be cast into the lake of fire."
"Yes, it is. Very. And yet I believe all these judgements will demonstrate to the whole world God's justice and righteousness and will finally silence all who have scoffed."

That last sentence, I believe, is the thesis of the series. All of you who scoff at us Evangelicals, you are so going to get it. They haven't convinced me of God's justice and righteousness, but they sure got the last part. Throwing everyone who doesn't see things exactly your way into eternal fire ought to silence them, all right.

bpal review: water of notre dame

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I put this on after work yesterday and these are my notes from last night.

Water of Notre Dame. Brings peace to the spirit, a sense of calm and fulfillment, and attracts the aid of beneficial spirits.

In the Bottle: Smells the most like commercial perfume of any I致e tried so far.

Wet: It痴 a strong note but I知 having a hard time placing it. Is this the elusive 努atery� scent? What the heck does water smell like anyway?

Drydown: I applied the same tiny amount as always, a gentle dab with the wand, but Georg noticed it as soon as he walked into the room. Usually I have to hold my wrist under his nose to get a reaction. He pronounced it 田hurchy� because it 電oes and does not smell like church incense.� I have no idea what church incense smells like, but incense is the last thing I would have come up with for this. It痴 way too clean and soft for that.

I guess this is what people mean when they say a scent turns 都oapy.� After a half hour it does kind of smell like soap. Actually it reminds me of taking baths as a kid. Is it baby shampoo? It痴 been a long time since I smelled baby shampoo, but that痴 what I知 thinking of.

It痴 a nice scent, but too strong. Thank goodness I didn稚 put it on before work today! It痴 努afting蚤bout me, which is definitely not the effect I want. As I said to bummble earlier, I want the scent to be so light you would have to invade my personal space to even know I had it on. This is so strong I could be in Stinky Perfume Lady territory.

As advertised, it is very calming. As in 菟utting me into a languid stupor.� Which is not good because I wanted to get some work done tonight. I feel like I知 drifting in a cloud of scent. Maybe this is what Georg meant about church incense.

Lasting: After 3 hours the soapy smell has mostly faded. What痴 left is .. grassy? How did we get from water to church incense to baby shampoo to grass? I知 not complaining, it痴 very nice. Too bad we had to go through that soapy phase to get here. (After 4 hours Georg claims to still smell soap, but not as strongly as before.)

Repurchase: Probably not.

Overall: Even if I loved this to death, I壇 hesitate to wear it again because I知 not ready for such a strong scent. I think this one goes into the swap pile. Maybe I値l give it to someone, since it was a gift to me.

i heart ricardo montalban


Oh my god I have to see this movie. Ricardo Montalban as the leader of a gang of hippie banditos? Eeee! I bet it's even better than Montalban as the kindly circus man from the later Planet of the Apes movies. And it has Terence Stamp! And Netflix has it! Does it get any better?

no news is ... no news


We got Thirteen's test results back today. No cancer and no infection. So I guess it's just arthritis. Weird. I didn't know arthritis could cause swelling like that. It's much more obvious since they had to shave her leg. She looks kind of silly actually. They shaved both front legs, at different heights. The left one for the tests, obviously, and the right one for the catheter. She looks like her socks fell down.

I didn't get to talk to Dr. Broussard, she left a message while we were out at dinner. But she didn't mention any treatment besides just trying to keep Thirteen comfortable. I'm going to call the vet's on Saturday, that's when Dr. Broussard said she'd be there again, and ask if there's any kind of exercises we can do to help the leg be more flexible.

thirteen and jane update

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Thirteen had her big tests and dental cleaning yesterday. I was really stressed out all day, had a hard time focusing on work. Not only because of worrying about the test results, but also because general anesthesia is risky for a dog that old. But she made it through OK and seemed to be in much less pain than I had expected.

The only ill effect was that she threw up some of her dinner last night. I figured she must have been hungry, since she'd had no breakfast, so I gave her a whole can of food. (She gets canned because they had to pull a couple of teeth.) But I guess she was still a little nauseous from the anesthesia. She wolfed down the food and then very considerately asked to go outside where she threw up. What a good dog! Not making me clean that up inside the house.

The test results were sent off to the lab so we don't know yet what's wrong with Thirteen's leg. But I took that as a good sign. Because Dr. Broussard told me beforehand that if it was bone cancer, she would probably know right away. Apparently cancerous bone has a different texture from healthy bone & she can feel the difference when the needle goes in. Unfortunately Dr. Broussard wasn't there when I picked Thirteen up, so I couldn't ask her about it. But Dr. Lindeke told me that she didn't think Dr. Broussard had seen anything to give immediately alarm when she drew the samples. So we will wait & hope it's an infection in the joint.

In the morning while Thirteen was at the vet, I took Jane to the dog park. Probably I should have waited for a cooler day, but I wanted Jane to have some fun since Thirteen wasn't around. It took me forever to get there b/c I read the directions wrong and had to backtrack. Also because it's about as far away from my house as you get and still be in Durham.

Jane liked the park but she did not like the two pushy dogs who kept getting in her face because they wanted to play with her. She's just not into playing. (Which is one of the reasons we chose her; a dog that loved to jump and play would have been miserable here with Thirteen.) But I must say, I was pleased with how Janey handled the situation. She didn't behave inappropriately; she just wouldn't engage with them. Every time the two dogs got up in her face she would turn around and move away from them. If they were really pushy -- barking-whining right in her face, or once actually jumping on her -- she gave a quick growl to tell them to back off. I tried to help by drawing Janey's attention to me, and the owners of the two other dogs were fairly good about calling their dogs off when they got really annoying.

But I guess that's the whole point of the dog park: to give your dog a chance to run and play with other dogs. The other people told me that if you go in the evening, your dog gets mobbed at the gate by every dog in the place, sometimes a dozen or more, all wanting to say hello. Janey might see that as them ganging up on her. I think we'll go at non-peak times until Jane gets used to the whole thing.

(On the other hand Thirteen will be just fine there. She loves other dogs and she's so submissive that no dog would ever bother to fight with her. I'll just have to make sure no one jumps on her.)

Anyway, eventually the people with the other two dogs left, and Jane had fun exploring the park. Until she chased a big lizard up a tree. That was great fun for her, but after that it was all over. She wasn't moving from that tree. I figured we could do that just as easily at home with the squirrels so I took her home.

After all that -- worrying myself sick over Thirteen, going to the dog park in the heat with Jane, and also a pretty stressful day at Stoneline -- by the time I got home I was exhausted. So Georg kindly took Janey to obedience class. He said she did really well with most of the exercises, although she's still having trouble with this thing where you lure the dog to walk around you until it's in heel position. I tried practicing that with her over the past week, and every time she sees the treat, she sits. Georg said they got her to do it with the smelly pepperoni. It seems that for the harder tasks you need better treats. Anyway, once she was on the left, she did really well at walking next to Georg on a loose leash. He was supposed to let her get distracted and then bring her back to him, but she never went away from him.

BPAL review: Baobhan Sith


Another BPAL package today! yay! First I have to try Baobhan Sith. It was discontinued (along with Cheshire Cat and some others) three weeks before I started exploring BPAL. I heard it was due to bad weather messing with the grapefruit oil supply. Lee recommended it and it sounded like exactly what I wanted, so I snapped up the first imp I saw for sale on LJ.

Baobhan Sith: The ghostly White Women of the Scottish highlands. They seduce unwary travelers by night with their unearthly beauty and mesmerizing dancing. They engage their victims in a wild, hypnotic dance, and once they reach exhaustion, the demonesses exsanguinate their partners with their vampiric kiss. Talk about a quick courtship. Grapefruit, white tea, apple blossom and ginger.

In the bottle: Grapefruit.

Wet: Mainly grapefruit. Not sweet. Nice, but this phase didn稚 last long.

Drydown: The grapefruit disappeared fast (10-15 minutes!). What痴 left is a bit sweeter, is that the apple blossom? It still has the ginger to keep it crisp and not too juicy-fruity. I知 not really getting tea, but my nose probably isn稚 able to detect fine undertones yet.

Cold Moon made me fear floral. I never got those shifting tones as it blended with my body chemistry; it just sat on top of my skin and said 的 am PERFUME!� But this is predominately apple blossom after a half hour, and it痴 lovely. Maybe it痴 the 斗unar blend� (whatever that means) in Cold Moon that didn稚 work so well for me.

Lasting: Four hours later all that remained was the faintest whiff of ... play-doh? What the ?!? This is not nice.

Repurchase: It痴 kind of a moot point, but I知 not sure.

Overall: It痴 interesting to wear this the day after Embalming Fluid. They池e similar (both light scents w/ citrus and tea) but Baobhan Sith is sweeter from the apple blossom, and a little spicier from the ginger. It also faded faster, and turned into that weird play-doh scent.

I'll have to try it again and see if reapplication can stave off the play-doh effect. But if not, well at least I'm not so crushed about this being discontinued.

BPAL review: Embalming Fluid


A BPAL package arrived today! I have to say, these LJ swapping people are the best. It only took a couple of days, she must have mailed it immediately. And she included a freebie! She went and read my blog, saw that I was looking for crisp, light scents, and sent me Water of Notre Dame. Which is a perfect choice; it was already on my wishlist.

It was fun to smell them all (though I think the scents tended to run together after the first couple), but I had to try Embalming Fluid first. Described as light, crisp, and summery, it's the one that I've been most anticipating. I had already ordered an imp from BPAL, but couldn't bear to wait two months. So I bought a half-full 10 ml bottle from the very generous person on LJ.

Embalming Fluid: A light, pure scent: white musk, green tea, aloe and lemon.

In the bottle: Tea with a little lemon. Really nice. The bottle, by the way, is a pretty cobalt blue. There's a little plastic doodad in the cap for applying: turn the bottle over to wet the cap, then remove the cap and press it against the wrist.

Wet: Slightly sweet, lemony: lemonade! I was worried about lemon in perfume smelling like lemon pledge, but this doesn't at all.

Drydown: The tea is coming forward. Not sweet at all now. Very light compared to the other two I've tried. I can hardly tell it's on, in a good way. It's that "me, but better" feeling, but so light and cool. Unlike Wanda which was warm and rich. Wow, I can really understand why people get so into these perfumes.

Lasting: Not so good unfortunately. I guess it's too much to ask that such a light scent would last. Georg says he can still smell it on my wrist, seven hours after applying, but to me it's as faint as Wanda was the next day. On the other hand, we did go to a cooking class tonight so maybe the food smells overwhelmed the perfume. Besides, the faintness of the scent is nice. It's about as far from "whoa! perfume!" as you can get.

Repurchase: I've already got about 5 ml, but I can see myself wearing this every day in warm weather. I will definitely buy more when this runs out.

art car season


Regardless of what the calendar says, it's full summer and art car season is in high gear. Some folks spend the whole summer driving from event to event, but alas Georg and I have to work. So we pick a few events each year within a day's drive. This year the itinerary is Mt. Dora FL, and Louisville KY, both in August. I'm not too crazy about the prospect of spending a whole day outdoors in South Florida in high summer, but the Mt. Dora event is reported to be a great one. Plus we have friends who live nearby that we'll be able to visit.

The Louisville event is supposed to be really good too, and they've added some fun things like a drive-in movie night and an illuminated cruise! Plus Spacegrrl is coming with me, yay! Unfortunately her art car won't be ready in time, but I hope there will be lots of inspiration on hand. We'll caravan UMJ and Spacepod through the mountains on the way there, that will be fun. Spacepod is almost an art car, with the cool vinyl decals.

Sadly, we decided not to go back to Artscape this year. That was my first art car event, and I thought we'd be going there forever. But the event has gotten worse every year, fewer cars there and less budget. It's gone from 50 cars to 30 to 16 last year. And last year they stuck us in this terrible location where spectators had a hard time finding the cars, there was insanely loud music blaring at us all afternoon, and we were literally trapped, no way to leave. Also they've stopped giving out stipends so everyone has to pay their own way. Which is not such a problem for us, since we have good friends there we can stay with. But it's indicative of the value (or lack thereof) of the art cars to the event.

So Georg just found out that he would have a hard time getting vacation time that weekend. And we talked it out and realized that the only reason we were still going to Artscape was to see our friend Pru and her girls (who might not even be there in the summer). And we're already committed to two other events in the same month. And those events are paying us to come! They're giving us a travel allowance, meal vouchers and hotel discounts.

Plus we have more hope that our art car friends from around the country are going to be in KY and FL. Word gets around about which events treat the drivers well, and those are the events people go to. So with regret we're skipping Artscape this year. We'll plan a visit up to Baltimore later in the year, just to see Pru and the girls. And maybe Artscape will improve & then we can go back in future.


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ETA: Lisa B. posted her account of the event and a photo of Jane chasing the lure.

Today, a more fun post about dogs. Georg and I got up early this morning and took Jane and Thirteen to a "lure chase" event at PBH which we heard about from Lisa B. It was a simple mechanism: a rope attached to pulleys all the way around the perimeter of a large field. The rope has a lure (just a big piece of white cloth that's easy for the dog to see) attached to it, and a motor. The dogs take turns chasing the lure around the field.

Sounds simple, but I was amazed at how much dogs love it. When they see the lure go by, all the dogs strain at their leashes and try to chase. Some also jump and bark and go a little crazy, and one time a group of dogs that were too close together got so worked up a fight broke out. The people broke it up quickly, no harm done. But it made me understand why they have a policy there of keeping the dogs separated at all times, no dog contact without handler permission.

Early on a guy showed up who clearly wasn't familiar with that policy. He let his dog keep hassling Lisa's dog Lucy, even after Lisa moved away repeatedly and even asked him not to. She explained that Lucy doesn't like strange dogs getting in her face (which seems perfectly reasonable to me) and he replied that this was the unfriendliest bunch of dogs he'd ever met! I don't know why people think that for dogs, "friendly" means "allowed to jump all over strangers."

I have the same problem with trying to protect Thirteen from "friendly" dogs whose owners have no sense of boundaries. Not because Thirteen will react with hostility, but because I don't want an overly aggressive dog to scare or hurt her. One time at the vet's office, these people let their puppy approach Thirteen without asking me, and the dog lunged for her, and I said "No!" and pushed the puppy away. Which I should not have done. If I had had myself under control I would have gotten in between Thirteen and the puppy when it first approached and asked its owner to restrain it. But Thirteen was having a really bad day and I was already very upset, and that was the last straw. I was so mad at those people I actually fantasized about telling them Thirteen had a contagious disease and their puppy probably had it now.

Anyway, that guy who thought the dogs at PBH were so unfriendly because they weren't allowed to ramble unrestrained all over each other left soon after. Besides that one fight all the dogs got along fine. I wasn't sure how Jane would handle the situation -- we just don't know yet how she feels about strange dogs -- but she met several dogs and was fine. The only time she got agitated was when these three dogs who were going insane over the lure, barking and whining and jumping, got a little too close to her. I guess Jane felt threatened by their (ahem) rambunctious behavior because she growled at them. But I moved to stand in between her and them, and then she was fine. Lisa also suggested that it's good to turn the dog around so she's facing away from whatever is upsetting her. Next time I will do that.

I was very pleased with Jane. She figured out immediately what she was supposed to do. She's big enough that she could chase pretty fast, and it looked like she had a great time. Thirteen, of course, didn't do any chasing. Just walking up to the field and back was plenty of exercise for her! But it was a great time for Thirteen too. She loves other dogs and it was fun for her to watch all the excitement.

Jane did two runs, and that was plenty. It was about 10 am and starting to get hot by that point, and I didn't want her to overheat. They have a little wading pool to cool the dogs off. I took off my shoes, rolled up my jeans and climbed in, but Georg still had to pick Jane up and put her in the pool with me. She was calm once we got her in there though. We splashed her belly and poured water over her back to cool her down. We also poured some water on Thirteen's back, which she totally hated, but she needed to cool off too.

So anyway, it was a fun morning for all of us. It was all so early that I thought I'd still have time to get lots done today, but it didn't turn out that way. By the time we got back I had a bit of a headache. I guess from the noise of all the barking, standing in the sun for hours, and also I had forgotten to eat or (more importantly) drink anything before we left home. But I lay down for a while and was fine. In fact everyone -- me, Georg and both dogs -- napped and were lazy all day. I think we earned it!

(I forgot to mention that it was wildlife rescue day too -- on the way to PBH we saved a turtle who was crawling across University and would have surely gotten run over. And then when we got there, we found a crawfish who had somehow managed to climb out of the creek and all the way across the field. Good thing I saw it before one of the dogs did! One of the other owners carried it back to the creek.)

need to know


We started Thirteen on a new round of antibiotics today. Clindamycin, the $5 a day antibiotic she had earlier this year. Except now it's even more expensive: over $6 a day. I don't know if the price went up or if they gave me a quantity discount last time and not this time. Or maybe she's on a higher dosage this time.

Anyway, the antibiotic is in preparation for her surgery on Tuesday. They are doing some heavy-duty tests on her leg: first a bone aspiration, which means sticking a needle into the bone and drawing out a sample. The purpose of the bone aspiration is to see if she has bone cancer. If it's negative then they will do a joint tap. Which means sticking a needle into the joint and drawing out a sample of the fluid. I gather it's like a spinal tap, except not in the spine. The purpose of the joint tap is to see if she has a bacterial infection in the joint. Dr. Broussard said probably not, because the swelling is over the joint, not in it. But they still want to find out.

Needless to say, both these procedures are painful. So much so that they're going to have to put Thirteen under. While she's out they're going to clean her teeth. I won't be surprised if they have to pull some teeth, which will leave her mouth hurting too. She'll have to stay at the vet overnight, but I'm sure she'll be in bad shape when she comes home.

I was fretting over the safety of general anesthesia for a dog this old, and my friend Marc (an MD) asked me why I was doing the tests at all. It's a good question, one I've been thinking about ever since. I feel that if she has cancer, I shouldn't have them amputate her leg. It's not like she's a middle-aged dog who could learn to walk on three legs and go on to live a full life. She's 14 years old for crying out loud. It would be a miserable existence and how long would it extend her life anyway? They can cure a lot of things, but they can't cure dying.

Why then do the tests? Why put her through that, if bad news won't change anything? Well for one thing, it might not be bad news, not the worst at least. It might turn out to be an infection, or neither. (Which would mean a weirdly aggressive case of arthritis I guess.) Either way would mean treatment that I would want to do.

Beyond that, I just need to know. If this is Thirteen's time, I need to know. If it's going to be something hideous like bone cancer, I need to know. And if she has no cancer at all and it's just an infection, I really need to know.

BPAL review: Wanda


This was the second of the 2 imps I bought off someone at LJ. This one wasn't quite full so the price was reduced.

Wanda: �...a deep red merlot with a faint hint of leather, sexual musk and body heat over crushed roses, violets and myrtle. �

Wanda was described in the forum reviews as sex in a bottle. Maybe I should have waited until I wasn�t alone to try it on. What the heck, here goes!

In the bottle: Yikes. Really strong and dark and fruity. It�s so strong I had to leave the bottle in the padded mailing envelope; it was reeking up the room. Not incensey; more like, I don�t know, grape candy? Whatever it is, it's awful.

Wet: While Cold Moon was nice & light in the bottle, and �eek! perfume!� on me, Wanda seems to have the opposite effect. Much less overbearing on my wrists. Still fruity, but to my surprise that�s not a bad thing. There�s something there besides fruit. Must be the leather but I can�t identify it as such. I don�t smell floral at all.

(aside: is my mouse pad going to end up reeking from these tests? Should I apply the scent someplace besides my wrist?)

Drydown: Okay, now I smell leather. The fruityness has mellowed out too. I guess it�s more like wine, but I hardly ever drink wine so I�m not sure.

Man, this smells good. It seems to be heading into the �me, but better� phase immediately. Does that mean it reacts better with my body chemistry than Cold Moon did? It could also mean that I didn�t apply as much, but I tried to use the same (very small) amount each time. If I smell like this all day, I will be one happy girl.

And now, a little later, the forum reviews are vindicated. It does smell like sex. I can�t explain it but it does. When does Georg get home?

Lasting: 3 hours later it was nearly gone. Maybe I did apply too little this time. Or maybe I accidently washed it off while rinsing a giant bunch of chard for dinner. I reapplied about a half hour ago. We'll see how it lasts tonight.

Overall: I must say I am stunned. Based on the description and the reek coming out of that bottle, I thought I would hate this. But put it on and it transformed into something wonderful. A bit warm for this weather, but it will be nice in autumn. It would seem that I have no idea what is going to smell good on me. I wonder how many of my big BPAL order will be hits and how many will be misses. I hope at least one of the �crisp, summery� scents works for me.

Repurchase? Oh yes.

BPAL review: Cold Moon


Okay, so after placing my order with Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, I found out that orders are taking 2 months and up (!) and I couldn't wait that long. So I bought a couple of samples off the Livejournal group. It's an active group of people selling and swapping samples (and sometimes full bottles) they tried but didn't like. You can only get what people are offering of course, and if you're grossed out by the idea of pre-owned perfume then this isn't the way to go. But that doesn't bother me, especially if they only tried it once or twice. It seems like a great system to deal with the company's difficulty meeting demand.

I don't know if everyone is this fast or if I just got lucky, but I sent a few bucks via Paypal on Saturday, and I have the imps today! My first BPAL purchase ever turns out to be Cold Moon and Wanda. I tried on Cold Moon first, so it's my first review. It's part of a limited edition series from a few months ago, and wasn't sold in imps. So the person who sold it to me (or someone who sold it to her) must have bought a 5ml bottle and decanted it into sample vials.

Cold Moon: "The Full Moon that shines over the frost-rimed heart of winter. Traditional lunar oils combined with glittering snow flowers, soft breezes and frozen ferns. (Gender neutral)"

In the bottle: Very sweet. Reminds me of bubblegum?

Wet: Whoa. It's a pretty smell, but much more perfumy than I was expecting. Well, duh, it is perfume. But the people on the review forum are always talking about how different BPAL is from commercial perfume, so I was kind of expecting it not to smell like perfume. It seems strong to me, but I put it on while Georg was in the room a few feet away and he didn't seem to notice. So I guess it's not too overwhelming.

Drydown: It's nice and light, a pleasant smell, but still more sweet and perfumy than I would prefer. I don't see a man wearing this. Maybe it's the floral that I'm not liking. Which would be bad, since I ordered several florals in my big order from BPAL. Well if it turns out I don't like floral, I can always swap them.

A bunch of reviews described this as "watery," which appealed to me, but I have to say I don't get it. What is water supposed to smell like, anyway?

If I smell like perfume, at least I don't smell like stinky perfume. I sat down right next to Georg and even kind of draped my arm over him, and he didn't say anything until I asked if he noticed anything different about the way I smelled. He said that he had noticed it, but had figured I had changed shampoo. For someone (like me) who's fairly hesitant about the whole concept of perfume, that's a pretty good response. He said he couldn't really smell it from three feet away, even when I waved my arms in the air. But then he could smell it distinctly when he stepped into the area where I had been waving my arms.

Lasting: Almost five hours and I can still smell it faintly on the left wrist, strongly on the right. The left wrist smells like what I wanted from the start: not a perfume smell, just "wow, I smell good!" The right wrist still smells like perfume, but not as sweet now.

Overall: Georg's response pretty much matches mine: "It's not my favorite thing in the world, but it's nice." Pleasant, but it didn't send me into raptures like the people on the BPAL forum. I'm not going to relegate it to the swap pile immediately; I may find that after trying out different scents I can better handle the sweetness of this one. But my first impression is that this is not something I would wear every day.

[ETA: Midnight, both wrists smell great. Just the effect I was hoping for: me, only better. Too bad it took seven hours to get here.]

jane's rough day


So apparently Jane is afraid of thunderstorms. Really, really afraid of them. I found this out yesterday, when we had the most hellacious electrical storm I can remember in years. It went on for a couple of hours, but we were in the thick of it -- very heavy rain and constant thunder & lightning, so close I was afraid too -- for about half an hour.

Thirteen has always been a little nervous and clingy during storms, but Jane was so frightened it was a little alarming. She just stood there panting so hard that if she were human, I would have said she was hyperventilating. I sat with her, talked quietly and petted her gently, but she didn't even seem aware of me. Except if I moved away, at which she would follow me so close she seemed to be trying to wrap her body around my legs. Poor baby!

The storm finally died down in early evening, and she calmed down enough that I went ahead and took her to obedience class. Wouldn't you know, we drove right back into that damned storm! The class is under a covered enclosure so we didn't get wet, except walking from the car to the enclosure. But as the thunder moved in again, Jane got scared again. The teacher said that the best thing to do is to just work through it, pretend it isn't happening and distract the dog from the thunder with lots of lessons and treats.

But there was no distracting Janey. The poor girl just stood there panting and shaking. The teachers gave me extra good treats -- chunks of chicken liver and sliced pepperoni, all warm and greasy and smelly -- and Jane was so freaked out that at times she wouldn't even take treats from my hand. Eventually the thunder died down again and I got her to lie down off to the side, away from the class, and just talked sweet to her and gave her treats while everyone else had their lesson.

Although the class seemed like a fiasco, I'm still glad we went. The teachers had really good advice for dealing with the situation. Apparently I've been making it worse by acting upset for her when she gets scared. Yesterday was particularly bad because I was afraid of the storm too, and I'm sure she could sense that. The teachers suggested that I get some butter-free microwave popcorn, and next time make the popcorn just as the storm is coming up. Then every time there's lightning, throw Jane some popcorn before we hear the thunder. Make a game of it so she has something to think about besides the storm. They also suggested that at her next checkup, I should have her thyroid checked. Apparently thyroid problems can cause hypersensitivity to sound.

After class was America's Next Top Model night, and I was a little concerned about how Jane would deal with lots of people in the house. But she was great. Very calm and sweet. The calmness was probably exhaustion but hey, I'm not complaining. I had Ray give her some treats because she's been acting a little skittish with men, and we want her to realize that men are good people to be around. And Jane really took a liking to Lisa; she lay down right in front of Lisa and went to sleep with her head on Lisa's shoes. Aw!

Today Jane was totally normal. Thank god for dogs and their lack of short-term memory! We did several obedience practice sessions, to try and make up for missing the whole class yesterday. And Jane did surprisingly well. She's getting the hang of "down" and "come" already. And she's so docile that "off" is natural for her. The last thing they did in class was making the dog walk around you, following a treat, to get it into heel position (the dog standing right beside you on your left). That one was tougher because I didn't get to try it at all during class, so I don't really understand what I'm supposed to be doing. I'll have to look in the book they gave us and see if there's a good explanation in there.

cordelia: 1; bush: 0

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I heard the clip in question on the radio, and Bush really does say the detainees had been trained to disassemble. Unfortunately NPR was kinder than he deserved and cut off the quote after the word "disassemble," so I did not hear the president say "disassemble -- that means not tell the truth."

You know, Carter couldn't pronounce "nuclear" but at least he knew what it meant.

my favorite tree


We had a tree expert come look at my favorite tree today. A honking huge pine tree in our front yard. A couple of weeks ago I looked at it from an angle I hadn't seen before, and it seemed to be leaning to an alarming degree. Aiming at the neighbor's house. Actually the tree is so tall that if it fell the wrong way, it could take out the neighbor's house and maybe do some damage to the next one.

So I called a tree expert to take a look at it. I had several recommendations for tree guys who can take a tree out, but I wanted a trained arborist who could diagnose the tree and suggest options for treatment or removal. I found an arborist society web site that listed local members, and from there chose Bartlett. They were great! I called them on Friday, they came out on Monday, right on time. The guy had a tiny little baby with him & explained apologetically that the sitter had bailed on him. I didn't mind, I was just worried about the baby being out in this heat. I offered to let him lie the baby down in the house, but the tree guy said the baby was more comfortable outside.

So anyway, the tree. He says it's fine. It is leaning, but apparently a tree of that size would show at least some ground heaving if it was starting to fall. Which our tree is not. He walked all around looking & feeling for it -- he said that sometimes you could feel it under your feet before you could see it. Then we walked around to one side and he showed me how it leans, but only about 3/4 of the way up. So it looks like back in the day when our tree was young, there were other trees around it so it had to lean towards the sun. Then when it got tall enough to break through the canopy of other trees, it straightened back out. You have to be looking at it from just the right angle to see it, because of the branches.

I also showed him some holes around the base of the tree, but he said those were from birds and perfectly harmless. I felt a little silly getting so worked up about the tree, but he said it happens a lot. People look at a tree from a new angle and think it's falling over and get all upset. He also said that he wouldn't worry at all about hurricane damage because the tree is so strong. And best of all, he didn't charge me for the consultation! Yay! I will definitely call Bartlett next time I need help with a tree.

more movies

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June 4: The Bishop Murder Case. Basil Rathbone plays Philo Vance, a private detective and an obvious knockoff of Sherlock Holmes. Vance goes around deducing all kinds of crazy things from the most minute observations, and is always right of course. I love Basil Rathbone but this movie wasn't very good.

June 4: Casino Royale. What a bizarre movie. David Niven plays James Bond as a stuttering prig trying to protect his virtue from a fate worse than death. Basically he spends the movie fighting off the ladies of Castle Anthrax. Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, and a couple of other guys also play James Bond. I found the idea of this movie much funnier than the reality.

June 5: The Kennel Murder Case. Another Philo Vance movie. This one was moved to Long Island and starred William Powell as Vance. Powell was better than Rathbone in this part, the Sherlock Holmes vibe was toned way down, but it didn't make me forget Nick Charles. Like The Bishop Murder Case, this was one of those convoluted murder mysteries where every speaking role is someone shifty who seems guilty at some point. After awhile the identity of the actual killer seems random, like the writer drew names out of a hat. The setting (a big dog show) provided lots of cute doggies though. They showed several more Philo Vance movies on TCM, but each one had a different lead, and the star ratings got lower with each movie. So I didn't record any of the others.

June 5: Bathing Beauty. Red Skelton is spurned by Esther Williams when she runs off to take a job teaching at an all girls school. So he find a legal loophole and forces them to accept him as a student. With a premise like that, this movie should have been much funnier. Xavier Cugat (who everyone calls "Coogie") and Harry James costar.

sweet charity

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May 20 movie: Sweet Charity. I didn't know it in advance, but it turns out this movie is based on Nights of Cabiria. Sanitized a bit of course: Charity isn't a prostitute like Cabiria, she's a "dance hall girl." Which is a Hollywood euphamism for prostitute (just like in Breakfast at Tiffany's, Holly Golightly was also a prostitute in the original and a dance hall girl in the movie). And I must say, I like Shirley MacLaine but she's no Giulietta Masina. The plot is basically the same although they mess around with a few things. For instance Sweet Charity begins with the ending of Cabiria: the heroine having her life savings stolen by the man she thinks is the love of her life. Except in Cabiria the guy threatened to push her off a cliff but eventually just ran off with the money. In Sweet Charity he pushes her off a bridge in Central Park, with no resulting injuries.

Still, Sweet Charity, like Nights of Cabiria, ends with the heroine giving up everything for love and then being dumped, left with nothing, but still not giving up hope. Except that, being Hollywood, they had to beat us over the head with it. You could see that Cabiria's spirit was unbroken just by the look in her eyes. Charity needed a title card that read "And she lived hopefully ever after" to get the message across. I heard that after poor audience response, they rereleased it with an alternate ending where Charity's boyfriend thinks better of it and takes her back. Ye gods! Remaking Nights of Cabiria as a musical was bad enough, but giving it a happy ending is a crime.

I recorded this for 2 reasons: Ricardo Montalban and Sammy Davis. Either one of them makes a movie worth watching, but both? Wowie wow wow! Too bad both parts are small, and they don't share any scenes. Montalban plays the Italian movie star who picks up Charity after his girlfriend walks out, then Charity ends up hiding all night in the closet when the girlfriend comes back. Davis played the preacher of a hippie church, a character with no equivalent in Nights of Cabiria. Well, maybe the hypnotist. Anyway Davis has to talk this idiotic "hep cat" dialogue, but he does get a fabulous dance number with his hippie flock.

catching up on movies


I must be having some kind of mental block on writing up these last few movies. Maybe if I do them all at once, then it will be easier to keep up going forward.

May 6: All at Sea. Another Alec Guinness movie from Ealing. Guinness plays a seasick navy captain who buys an amusement park on a pier, in place of a ship, then defends it from the greedy town council who want to knock it down to make room for a crooked public works project. Like all Ealing movies it's very funny, and very sweet, but has enough nasty humor to keep it from being saccharin. Guinness also briefly plays the ghosts of his seafaring ancestors in an obvious nod to Kind Hearts and Coronets. Which is on TCM again this week, if anyone is interested.

May 8: Kung Fu Hustle. So! Much! Fun! The landlady and landlord were my favorite characters, especially that scene in the casino where they first confront the super villain. I loved this and I so badly want to see The God of Cookery now.

May 13: Predator. Sometimes nothing satisfies like a big dumb action movie. This is actually pretty good, though it gets a little ridiculous at the end, when it goes all A-Team and the alien bizarrely goes away and gives Schwarzenegger enough time to build all those spiked log traps and make a longbow and arrows out of twigs and vines and give himself war paint made of mud and then stand on a tall rock beating his chest and doing a Tarzan yell. That was stupid. But up to that point Predator holds together fairly well.

May 15: The Exterminating Angel. Another one of those "can't believe I hadn't seen this yet" movies. I found a review online that claimed the meaning of this movie was that the bourgeoisie are so stupid they would starve without their servants to feed them, and can't even walk out the door without the proletariat to guide them. Which seems like a slightly myopic interpretation of the movie. But then again, Bunuel was a Marxist so maybe there's something to it.



well I didn't work in the garden for 7 hours, but I am happy with what we got done today.

First thing this morning, we went to the farmer's market with Christa. Which was tons of fun. I bought two kinds of lavendar: a compact variety, and a special one which unfortunately isn't hardy here, but has really unusual pretty flowers. Also a purple verbena and blue veronica for the blue and white bed. (Which has been a bit of a disappointment this spring, because everything I planted there last fall was in bloom when I planted it. So nothing in the whole bed has bloomed yet this year.) And a kooky little plant called "bat face," whose flowers really did kind of look like little tiny bats! Colorful bats, but bats nonetheless. We also bought a pretty hanging planter for our front door, and a couple of verbascum as a housewarming gift for a friend of ours who just bought a house. Christa bought some pretty coleus and a purple shamrock for her front porch, and four liriope grasses to replace some that had died back in her yard.

We all got strawberries from Mr. Farmer, a strawberry vendor I just love. He sits at his table every week yelling "Try a strawberry! Picked this morning! Best strawberries you've ever had!" And they are. And we also got a little produce (some summer squash for us, and green peas for Christa), but mostly the trip was about the plant vendors.

This afternoon Georg mowed the lawn, while I planted the flowers we had bought and then got back to work on digging out the clay from the bed on the sunny side of the house. It's really hard work, especially in hot sunny weather like today. Because of the recent rain the clay was softer -- easier to get a shovel into it -- but also heavier. I was at it for, I don't know, an hour and a half maybe? I only removed three wheelbarrows full of clay and I was totally wiped out. The heat was starting to get to me by that point. But I drank a lot of water and took a long shower, and then felt much better.

We didn't feel like cooking so we went to the Barbecue Joint for dinner. which was annoyingly slow -- seemed like maybe they were a person short or something -- but delicious as ever. Now I'm enjoying a nice relaxing foot soak. Ahh! Warm water, salt, and a few drops of lavender oil. My feet feel so much better.

freedom lawn


We just found out that our crummy weedy lawn with absolutely no grass isn't an eyesore: it's a freedom lawn! Who knew?

(It used to be called a "French lawn" until everyone got so hyper-patriotic and then they changed the name.)

june bride

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June 1 movie: June Bride. Good lord I'm behind in writing up movies. Actually I haven't watched hardly any in the past month, but still that's no excuse. I will get caught up at some point, but for now I'm skipping ahead to today's movie.

Which is June Bride, a Bette Davis comedy I'd seen before. Davis and Robert Montgomery are old flames who end up working together on a ladies magazine (actually she's the editor and he works for her), doing a story on a wedding in Indianapolis. The wonderful Mary Wickes has a supporting role as a stylist for the magazine. The movie is hilarious and I loved it up until the very end, when Davis throws away her career to "carry luggage all around Europe" for Montgomery so he can go back to being an unsuccessful foreign correspondent. I guess it was too much to ask that in 1948 they could make a movie about a career woman who gets to keep her job. Ugh. I want to rewatch The Sweet Smell of Success now.

first obedience class


Janey's first class last night was great! PBH is really a nice place, out on Fearrington Road. It was a small class: 7 dogs, most of them puppies. First we did name recognition -- getting the dog to pay attention when you say its name -- which everybody already knew. Then we did "marker word," which means a word to tell the dog you like what they're doing. I chose "good," because that's what I've been saying already. I think that was the most fun part for Jane: I just kept saying "Good!" and giving her treats, and she didn't have to do anything!

Then was "watch," getting the dog to make and hold eye contact. Jane had a tough time with this. She seemed to take my eye contact as being too dominant, and she wanted to duck her head and look away. She's a little skittish in general, for instance if you move too suddenly towards her, she cringes. One time I was trying to play with her and I did this sort of side-jump, which most dogs love. Janey acted like I was going to hit her, she dropped to the ground and whined. Poor baby! The instructor explained that shelter dogs are often like that & I just need to work on keeping my tone light and standing very straight, not bending over in a way that Janey might take as threatening.

Next was "sit," which Jane is great at. We've been practicing and she's even learning the hand command alone. Yay for Janey! After that was "release word," which means telling the dog that they've successfully done whatever you wanted them to do. I used "okay" because that's what I've been saying already, like when Jane has to hold still so I can comb her. She's mellow enough that when we did "sit-release," her inclination was to just stay seated even after I said "okay." They showed me to hold up a treat and back away while saying "okay," to encourage her to get up.

Then at the end of the class was more discussion. By then Jane was getting antsy and was having a little trouble sitting still. But she was still one of the better behaved dogs in the class. (Not hard to do when almost all the others are bouncy puppies!) Next time I'm going to walk her right before class, so she'll be a little more focused.

Our homework for the week is to practice the commands, to read from a book they gave us, and to hand feed the dog at every meal. It sounds kooky but it's supposed to build a bond with the dog. Janey wouldn't do it this morning, but I tried again this afternoon after work, and she figured it out pretty quickly.

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