Friday, January 27, 2006

Subbly Bubbly

Ah, the soap. Once a year, the two big boxes come out of the basement, filled as they are with oils and waxes and scents and herbs, and I am covered in lye burns for weeks. This year: nine varieties, 97 bars, such delicious wonderment.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Alexis's contribution to the field guide

Shana, AKA: Bean, Shanabean, Greenbean, Greenlet, beanlet, beanenstein, Shanabear, Chanadal
Interests: running, blogging, crosswords, zepellins, small bats, giant cephalopods, hidden doors, making soap, starting fires, issuing demands, denying recollection, avoiding zombies, knitting without casting off

Other forest inhabitants

Alexis, AKA: pooky, baby, honey, Alex, Doctorb
Interests: punching things, new muscles, tattoos, mixing foods together, dead bodies, jumping over things, tool belts, straightening things, improbable survival and almost-certain doom, well-bound books, hiding from humans, pretending she doesn't see you, pretending she didn't hear you, pretending she remembers who you are

Cats are just better

They are cuter, quieter, less needy, less expensive, cuddlier, smell better, and are significantly less annoying and embarrassing than the canine.

Our three:

Grex AKA: Grexilla, Grexella, Grelly, Grellina
Interests: toilets, recently-used showers, paddling the water bowl, petroleum allergies, killing things

Stoat AKA: Stoatle, Goblin, Stoatle McGroatle, Sad-sad, Sad-sad McGraw, Stoatle McGroatle McSad-sad McGraw (her legal name, she gets a surprising number of magazines and catalogs)
Interests: quacking, lolling, rubbing, quacking, purring, eating the knitting

Beast AKA: Beastlykins, Beasting, Beastie, Wee Beastie, Beastiality (arch.)
Interests: grumpiness, blotchiness, sweet corn, popcorn, creamed corn, corn puffs, falling off things

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Ripping a new one

Many people come to me and they say: "Hey. How can you be such a tiling machine?" It is that I love all the tiles. All shapes and sizes and colors of tiles...from sparkly blue ceramic tiles for backsplashes, to 12" vinyl tiles printed to look like Pennsylvania-quarried slate. Bean loves them all.

We visited my dad over Christmas break, fully intending to fritter away a full week through lounging, loafing and lolly-gagging. Instead, my dad's innocent request to replace the bathroom faucet (and maybe put in a backsplash if you can) turned into a 3.5 day renovation extravaganza:

New Wall
New Floor
New Toilet
New Faucet
New Backsplash

It's not our fault. I feel sure it's Heidi's fault somehow. I mean, she spent a good 3 hours in Lowe's with us, excitedly discussing sinks, tiles, and grout...we couldn't lose face by doing a half-assed job. Plus, we don't know how to do crap work.

My parents had the bathroom remodeled about 25 years ago, but damn, the house that I grew up in is both old and weird. Instead of regular wall construction, the wall studs are covered in mini half-logs underneath the two layers of pressboard in the bathroom. Lift up its skirts and it's like a Frontier House, with my dad in the role of the hoary woodsman...shaking his rifle menacingly at interlopers and wrasslin' bears for entertainment. The house is also partially constructed out of old ammunition boxes from WWI - if you lift up the carpet and linoleum on my bedroom floor, it says: "Caution: Explosives."

In an old bathroom (even for a small re-do like this one)every time you mess with the plumbing something leaks. By the fifth time(which was the sink drain being both clogged and leaking horribly), I had lost it. Alexis was trying to explain to me which way to turn the compression nut, and I burst into tears. Honestly, it's that I don't know right from left, so I couldn't figure out which way to crank the wrench. I was frustrated, okay?

Alexis always knows which way to crank.

Don't be fooled as we were. The conversation in Lowe's went something like this (getting louder and louder until a cashier intervened):
A: Is this greenboard?
Me: It's purple.
A: I know it's purple, but is it for bathrooms?
Me: It says it's moisture resistant, but it's not greenboard.
A: Maybe they changed the color.
Me: Why would they change the color? Is green a terrorist color? I thought purple was gay...are we now less afraid of gays than terrorists? Maybe 'It's okay to be gay' for bathroom and kitchen applications only.
A: I don't know. Where's the greenboard?
Me: Maybe this is the drywall formerly known as greenboard. Maybe it's now known only by a symbol?
Cashier: (Yelling from off stage) IT'S GREENBOARD!
Us: Oh.

The new floor...weighted down at the corners with baked beans and seltzer. How come rooms always look better to me when they're stripped?

Surveying the throne room - note three types of tiles and one brandy-new toilet! By the way - Alexis timed takes me between 15-20 minutes to put in a toilet, but only if I don't have to go on a wrench-hunt.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Numbered Tales

It was after the third load of laundry that I noticed it. Folded one on top of another in a crooked tower on the dryer: Pajamas. Almost no regular clothes (well, sure socks and underwear) but tons of pajamas. Out in the world, I'm not currently wearing pajamas. I swear to you, I'm relatively respectable (this is new, actually, I used to wear pajamas out quite regularly, but not this year).

It didn't fully unnerve me until I counted them: nine. I have nine pairs of pajamas. This is just counting matched sets...not pants, not nightgowns, not various other sleeping accoutrement.

Also, please note, I'm not the type of person to have nine of anything normal. I only have one pair of jeans, one pair of winterboots, one fleece, three suits, and an ever-diminishing set of much-suffering brassieres.

Pajamas, though? Nine.

Blue stripe,
Pink flowers,
Purple sparkly,
Grey and purple plaid,
Rose stripe (there's a song about these - sung to the X-Files theme. V. spooky.)
Yellow and lavender,
White damask, and
White with pintucks.

It got me thinking about numbers, and how we use the numbers of things to judge a situation. The number of people afflicted tips an outbreak into an epidemic, the Dow Jones Average indicates growth or decline. Nothing has really changed, except for the numbers. The same could be said about the belongings of individuals...the number of old newspapers separates the slovenly from the hoarders.

For example, in my own life:

Number of antique standing mixers...
Me: six
Normal people: fewer than six

Number of pets...
Us: also six (one for each mixer so the household remains in balance)It just ain't right. That's almost a hundred claws to clip, it's no wonder that the leather couch is developing a "patina."

Number of Banana Boxes filled with fabric...
Me: nine (also number of sewing machines: 3)

Number of turtle mummies/skeletons/remains...
Us: at least three (that we know about - there may be more that we've forgotten)

Number of bars of soap made in a two-week period...
Me: ninety-six (eight me, it's a lot of soap for two people who are honestly not that clean.)

Number of squirrels/other rodents in freezer awaiting taxidermy...
Us: For the first time in a decade, none.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Up at night

Something's got the neighborhood up...last night I kicked and tossed, waking myself with a furrowed brow and an aching jaw. I looked over and Lou was up, dim lights in his study, and the Monks' light was on (calling someone home, no doubt). Crisfield couldn't contain three sharp barks at something walking the streets at 3:45am.

No sleep for me, the flannel sheets sweat-damp, the wind-whipped chimes banging the house every fourth sweep, and the purring cat loud, furry, and annoying. I read and read, ate a pear, and the world became comfortable again sometime after five.

Which makes my waking this morning harder than usual - I got to the bus with only a few minutes to spare, my face still creased and red.