Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Blowin' in the wind

The devastation Katrina has wreaked in the Gulf is so hard to take in. You see the photos and videos of the houses completely submerged, the oilrigs tilted and the cars and boats bobbing like corks under overpasses, all of it seems so unreal. When Hollywood was going through their "disaster" scenarios a few years ago, they gave us tidal waves, volcanos, even meteors from space. But for sheer impact they definitely missed a chance with a class five hurricane in the Gulf.

I've been through hurricanes, growing up in Miami. I remember Camille, and others, back in the 50s and 60s. Our house was made of cinder blocks, and we had aluminum storm awnings that were hinged so you could lower them to cover the windows and bolt them down. The roof had "hurricane tie downs". What you basically did was stock up on sterno, bring in all the outside stuff, fill the tub with water, get out the candles and hurricane lamps, and wait for the power to go off. What I mainly remember is the howling of the wind, and the fact that afterwards it may be days until the power went back on. You would probably get at least one, if not several, flat tires, from all the nails, etc. scattered on the roads. Dry ice would highly treasured; if your power went back on while you still had some, you passed it on to someone who was still without. I was never particularly scared, with the awnings down our house felt fortified against the worst. But, and this is a big but, we didn't live below sea level. We were miles inland from the storm surge.

What I find incredible is that there were people in New Orleans who ignored the evacuation and voluntarily stayed home. Not only did they endanger themselves, but they endangered the rescue workers who had to try and save their butts as they clung to the roofs of their homes. I realize that not everyone had the option of leaving, the wherewithal to get out or compelling reasons that they couldn't leave. But what got me were the ones who, when interviewed, said, I'm not leaving, I'll stock up on beer and chips and ride it out. Some of them were young adults who have never seen the real destruction in the wake of a big hurricane. I know Hurricane Andrew came as a big shock to south Florida a few years ago, they had had so many seasons without being hit at all, and they got careless about building and about preparation.

But now that Katrina has done her worst, we will all be faced with the cost of the cleanup. I can't even imagine how they will pump out all that water from the broken levees. And I can't see the logic of rebuilding in the same place, either. Remember last year, when Florida got hurricane after hurricane, four I think it was, in a single season? Suppose the Gulf is hit again this year? It could well happen. Will we keep pouring money into rebuilding an area that is so very vulnerable? And if not, then what will become of all those people who lost everything, home and the property itself, now 20 feet underwater? I wish I knew an answer, but there isn't a winning option in any of this that I forsee.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Bush, made of dead soldiers Posted by Picasa

dain bramaged

It's Monday, and I am seriously thinking about taking the entire week off. N is leaving tomorrow for Denver, to return Thursday night, and that bums me out; our son is taking two night classes, so he won't be home in the evenings either, and our daughter works until 8 pm every night. The end result is I will be alone from 5-9 pm for three nights. I know that doesn't sound like a big deal, but I don't totally trust myself alone if the gloomies show up. If I am off work, I can plan activities that take me through the early evening at least, but if I'm at work all day I won't have the energy to do much else.

Did you know that children who suffer from parental neglect have more problems as adults than children who were actually physically abused? My therapist told me that, I haven't searched for an actual reference, but it does bear thinking about. I've always felt that I didn't "deserve" being depressed because I am educated, have a loving family (now), enough $, and no overt problems. So I should be happy, right? And stop whining about poor me? My therapist says I am NOT a whiner, but sometimes it feels that way to me. Still, things are better now than they were, say, two years ago. I have hope about the future.

And then there is eBay. I think eBay is almost as good as therapy in making me feel better. It's like the pleasure of shopping, without the trudging from store to store and shlepping packages all over the world. It has LOTS more things for sale, from the weird to the common, and most of it is dirt cheap. I bid on more things than I win, and look at many more items than I bid on, and nothing relaxes me better. And if I do win an auction, I have the pleasure of getting packages in the mail later. I've been on eBay since way back--1997? 1996? --back when I had to describe how it worked. I've even sold stuff, but that isn't quite so much fun. I've gotten stuff that wasn't up to the mark, but then I've gotten junk at the store too, and there isn't much $ involved anyway, I keep it all. Maybe if I lived in a big city with lots of shopping opportunities I wouldn't get my fix from eBay, but in a little town, with the nearest big city 2 hours away (on a good day), it suits me to a T.

Digital cameras. Am I the only one who thinks they're a piece of crap? Maybe if I would part with $500 for one, I'd feel differently, but the quality of the image from most of them is so LOW. And as for printing them out, do you realize that photo quality ink in those cartridges runs $3000 per gallon? That doesn't include the price of the paper. If I were posting photos to the web, then it might be more useful, but basically I want "real" photos I can pin to the bulletin board, put in an album, mail to a friend, keep forever without worrying about outdated formats, hard drive crashes, and whether my friend has broadband or not. And as for quality, film has gotten so very good, and is so cheap, and with one hour processing so fast, that I can't justify the pixelated fuzzy stuff the digital gives me.

And sudafed -- do we really know that making it so difficult for sneezy wheezy me to get it for my cold really makes it harder for crystal meth labs to get? Or is this just another example of Big Brother government making our lives miserable just for the hell of it? Why don't we get any say in regulations like this? It's like the idea of a national ID card, are we really ready to give up that much of our privacy, so that Uncle Sam can keep track of "illegal" aliens? I'm not. I don't want some government worker that I've pissed off having the power to "erase" me, or ruin me, or persecute me, with the click of a few keys. Power corrupts.

And for my final 2 cents worth, what ever happened to the cent symbol? You know, the 'c' with the little line through it. When did it disappear, where did it go? Sure, we got a cute little ~tilde, but besides math/science geeks, and weird URLs, what do we need it for? I wonder about these things, late at night.

Just so you know.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

You bruiser, you!

Last night I got up in the dark to make an unscheduled trip to the euphemism. When I got back to bed, I mis-estimated exactly where the wooden headboard of the bed was, and cracked my cheek against it instead of hitting the pillow. Now I have an obvious purple-ish mark on my cheek, one which my very sheer makeup doesn't really cover.

So of course today the constant question is, "What did you do to your face?"

If I say, I hit it on the headboard of the bed, the men immediately get this "Ah-HA!" look, picturing wild hi-jinks in the marital bed.

If I tell the women the same thing, I get this ultra-sympathetic look and "Oh you poor thing" as THEY think, "That cad, look what he did to her!"

So I've decided to lie and say that I have a highly contagious blood-borne infection that requires me to be at home for at least a week, recuperating. That way I'll not only get sympathy (you don't get much for sheer clumsiness at the best of times) but I'll also get to stay home! On sick leave! Which I don't have any of! Hmmmm, maybe I'd better rethink this. Maybe I'll just stop on the way home and buy some concealer.....

Friday, August 12, 2005

We have three horses. I seldom ride. I know my neighbors (and even my family) wonder why not. One of the horses is an old lady (mother to the other two) and a little lame, so she gets a pass. But still, there are the other two, fed, watered, groomed, feet cared for, stalls cleaned, turned out every night, the whole thing.

But I don't ride. I really don't understand why.

Partly, it's because I'm a little afraid. I've had horses for 30 years now, and I've seen every kind of accident with them--minor things, like broken arms and collarbones, major things like knocked unconscious, and I myself was thrown 30 years ago and fractured two lumbar vertebrae (think body cast, braces). That didn't stop me then, but it did teach me that contrary to popular belief, young people are not invincible. I was breakable. As I have gotten older, and feel my body beginning to let me down, that has become more pertinent, I guess you could say. I can't afford an injury like the back injury, not now.

Partly it's because the neighborhood we live in is now one big housing development. Where we used to be the last house on the road, with woods and fields and little dirt roads going hither and yon, now it's paved and house-lined. The cars drive on it 35 miles an hour, and it's only a lane-and-a-half wide. Sometimes people slow up and pass quietly when they see a rider; sometimes they race by, cackling, and throw cans out the window. You never know which it will be. My horses are pretty phlegmatic, all in all, but horses are not machines, and you can't always predict how they will behave in any given situation.

And partly it's because I get so much pleasure out of just watching them. Cold days, when there's a spring under each foot, tails cocked high, snorting. Warm days, when they stand nose-to-tail, gently swishing at flies, head drooping and hip-shot. Feeding time when they whinny and call and race back to their stalls, plunge their noses into the grain tub. Drinking water out of the trough by submerging their entire face and blowing bubbles while they drink; then holding a mouthful of water to come drip over your shoulder. Springtime, when they all three act like young colts, jumping and kicking and racing across the pasture playing tag. Leaning over the fence to graciously accept tribute from the neighborhood children, one carrot at a time. Watching them make the goofiest faces when I scratch that one itchy spot.

My husband kids me that they're the world's largest yard ornaments, and guess there is truth to that. All the same, I think of them as companion animals, giving and receiving pleasure just by the fact they we are together.

And really, saddle sores are pretty mean things too.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A hair-raising tale

My daughter forwarded this to me--I don't know who wrote it originally, but if you know let me know and I'll be glad to do credit where credit is due!

All methods have tricked me with their promises of easy, painless removal
-the Epilady, the standard razor, the scissors, the Nair, theEpilStop, and
now . . The Wax.

My night began as any other normal weekday night. I came home from work, fixed dinner for my son and we played for a while. I then had the thought that would ring painfully in my mind for the next couple hours: Maybe I should use that wax in my medicine cabinet. I set up my boy with a video and head to the site of my demise, um, I mean bathroom.

It was one of those cold wax kits. No melting a clump of hot wax, you just rub the clear strips in your hand, peel them apart, press it on your leg (or wherever) and ignore the frantically rising crescendo of string instruments in the background. No muss, no fuss. How hard can this be? I mean, I'm not the girly-est of girls but I'm mechanically inclined so maybe I can figure out how this works.

You'd think.

So I pull one of the thin strips out. It's two strips facing each other, stuck together. I'm supposed to rub it in my hand to warm and soften the wax (I'm guessing).

I go one better: I pull out the hair dryer and heat the SOB to ten thousand degrees. Cold wax, my ass. (Oh, how that phrase will come back to haunt me.)

I lay the strip across my thigh. I hold the skin around it and pull. OK, so it wasn't the best feeling in the world, but it wasn't bad. I can do this! Hair removal no longer eludes me! I am Sheena, fighter of all wayward body hair and smooth skin extraordinaire! With my next wax strip, I move north.

After checking on my boy and verifying that he was, in fact, becoming one with Bear and learning all about smells, I sneak into the bathroom for The Ultimate Hair Fighting Championship.

I drop my panties and place one foot on the toilet. Using the same procedure, I then apply the wax strip across the right side on my bikini line, covering the right half of my vagina and stretching up into the inside of the right ass cheek.

(Yeah, it was a long strip.)

I inhale deeply. I brace myself.

I'm blind! Blind from the pain!

Vision returning.

Oh crap. I've managed to pull off half an inch of the strip. Another deep breath. And RIIIP!

Everything is swirly and tie-dyed? Do I hear crashing drums?

OK, coming back to normal again. I want to see my trophy - my wax covered pelt that caused me so much agony. I want to revel in the glory that is my triumph over body hair. I hold the wax strip like an Olympic gold medalist.

But why is there no hair on it?
Why is the wax mostly gone?
Where could the wax go, if not on the strip?

Slowly, I eased my head down, my foot still perched on the toilet. I see hair - the hair that should be on the strip.

I touch. I feel. I am touching wax. I look to the ceiling and silently shout "nooooooo!!" And realize I have just begun living my own personal version of "The Tar Baby."

I peel my fingers off the softest, most sensitive part of my body that is now covered in cold wax and matted hair, and make the next big mistake - up until this point, you'll remember, I've had my foot on the toilet.

I know I need to move, to do something. So I put my foot down on the floor.

And then I hear the slamming of the cell door.

Vagina? Sealed shut.

Ass? Sealed shut.

A little voice in my head says "I hope you don't have to do #2 anytime soon. Your head just might pop off." I penguin walk around the bathroom trying desperately to figure out what I should do next. Hot water!

Hot water melts wax! I'll run the hottest water I can stand and get in - the wax should melt and I can gently wipe it away, right?


I get in the tub - the water is slightly hotter than is used to torture prisoners of war or sterilize surgical equipment. And I sit. Now the only thing worse than having your goodies glued together is having them glued together and then glued to the bottom of a tub. In scalding hot water.

Which, by the way, does not melt the cold wax.

So now I'm stuck to the tub.

I call my friend, C, because she once dropped out of beauty school so surely she has some secret knowledge or trick to get wax off skin. It's never good to start a conversation with "So my ass and hoochie are stuck to the tub...."

She doesn't have a trick. She does her best to suppress laughter. She wants to know exactly where the wax is on the ass - "Are we talking cheek or hole, here?" she asks. She isn't even trying to hide the giggles now.

I give her the run-down of the entire night. She tells me to call the number on the side of the box, but to have a good cover story for where the wax actually is.

"You know that if we were working the help line at XX Wax Co. and somebody called with their entire crack sealed shut we'd just put them on hold then record the conversation for everyone we know. You're going to end up on a radio show or the Internet if you tell them the truth."

While we go through various solutions, I have resorted to scraping the wax off with a razor. Boy, nothing feels better to the girly goodies than covering them in wax, sticking them to a tub in super hot water and THEN dry shaving the sticky wax off!

In the middle of the conversation (which has inexplicably turned to other subjects!) I find the little, beautiful saving grace that is the lotion provided with wax to remove the excess. I rub some in and start screaming "It's working! It's working!" I get hearty congratulations from C and we hang up.

I successfully remove all the wax and notice, to my dismay, that the hair is still there. So I shaved the damned stuff off. Hell, I was numb by that point anyway. And then I put the box of wax back in my medicine cabinet.

Never know, I may want to try it again!