Monday, November 27, 2006

May I have a doctor's note, please?

Not to whine, but I feel kind of exhausted by everything at the moment. I finished a significant school milestone today, but the amount of tasks on the list that must be accomplished before the semester is over is utterly ridiculous. Ridiculous. Add to that the list of tasks that must be accomplished before I leave the country on New Year's Eve, and the list is both ridiculous and insurmountable.

Sunday we had a large-ish family gathering chez megastore, and it was lovely. It was one of those days on which I had entertained the fantasy that I would not only cook a lovely meal and the historian would magically transform the slightly farmyard conditions in which we allow ourselves to live, you know, day-to-day, into a welcoming and tidy-ish domicile--not only this, which would be a miracle on the higher end of the miracle magnitude spectrum, but also that I would (a) read the paper, (b) talk to the Scotland daughter and granddaughter, (c) run to the store and pick up some supplies for the lovely meal, and (d) get a little work done. Was I high?

Everything turned out great, and that's partly because, in the cooking, I deleted a couple of menu items. One, soup, I deleted as I was talking to Scotland daughter, who always manages to inject a note of good sense into things. Thank you, Scotland daughter! The other, a greens and herbs frittata, I deleted as I was starting to feel the panic a-risin', the time getting shorter and the guests on the porch, as it were. All to the good. I still managed to have way more food than we needed. That's partly because the farmer's market potatoes we bought for storage were about the size of footballs. Well, nerf footballs. Who can really know how much mashed potato yield there'll be from a football-sized potato? I ask you.

After this feat of hospitality, there was a significant amount of laying around that had to be done (not on the list). Today, I woke up to a very grey day. I took Betty in to get her stitches out (on the list), finished said school milestone (ditto), miraculously (there are many miracles around here about now) found some papers that my son had been looking for (yes, the loss of them was due to my general slatternly way of organizing--the miracle wasn't on the list, but I'll take it in lieu of the alternative, which was to reconstruct the papers out of thin air), took the dogs to the dog park in the dead of night where it started to sleet (okay, it was about 5:30 p.m, but very, very dark! and sleety! sleet definitely NOT on the list), and came home to a sports event that I cannot bring myself to discuss (not, not, not on the list, not ever).

There will be no discussion of Christmas trees around here until I at least finish all the items on the first list (the one that's merely ridiculous).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Robert Altman, 1925-2006.

Robert Altman died two days ago. I feel it's worth pausing to remember all the wonderful films he made, and more, what a great embodiment of the working artist. I don't know how many people saw some of his odder films--Quintet, anyone? or A Wedding?--but the reality was, he made movies. A lot of really great ones, and almost all of them idiosyncratic and interesting and worth your time.

Here's a list of my personal favorites:

1. McCabe and Mrs. Miller. To my mind, one of the loveliest films ever made.
2. Nashville, of course, and also M*A*S*H.
3. Three Women.
Very weird and completely unforgettable.
4. Cookie's Fortune.
5. Gosford Park.
To my mind, one of the finest films of the last 10 years. Endlessly rewatchable.
6. The Player.
7. Popeye.
Also very weird, but like nothing else you've ever seen.

What a great thing, to have made so many great films, and to have made some of the greatest at the very end of things. Today, all art aspires to the condition of Robert Altman, making great artifacts to the very end, but more importantly, just making.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Chemicals win.

This morning at breakfast, I said to the historian, "Let's recap the accomplishments of yesterday." I said this because one of the main accomplishments of yesterday was: I figured out that if I replaced my low-impact, granola-type dishwasher soap with Cascade, my dishes would actually get clean!

This is important news, because one of the low-level grouses of my life has been that for the last several years, my dishes have appeared to acquire a film. A film? Nay, a grungy sheen that could only be expunged by serious hand-washing before you put them in the dishwasher. The Luddites among us may be saying, "So what? hand-wash, then." Except there it was, the dishwasher, claiming by its very existence that I could put dishes inside it, load it up with soap, shut it, turn it on, and later have clean dishes. You can't just hand-wash, not when your dishwasher makes a daily claim like that.

You can tell how serious it was by the fact that it bothered me, not exactly your paragon of tidiness. I was seriously considering scrapping the old dishwasher and getting a new one. I had been seriously considering this for years (it's still me we're talking about, not some get-it-done clean freak!).

Anyway, the historian's daughter had mentioned, in a conversation with her brother about the very same problem, that if he wasn't using Cascade, he really had no idea whether it was his dishwasher. So yesterday, I bought me some Cascade in a big old green bottle. And lo! all manner of dishes, vases, pans, and other dishwasher-safe receptacles got clean. Sparkling clean, even.

Other news: the Jazz were riveting in their overtime win over Phoenix. "We had this game won," whined Shawn Marion, "then we just gave it to the Utah Jazz." No, Mr. Marion. The Utah Jazz took the game. From you.

Betty the dog had surgery last week. She has a big rectangular shaved patch, a Frankensteinian scar and stitches, and no more mass on her back. We'll get the pathology report in a couple of days. In the meantime, she seems to feel like her old self--peppier, even.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Layover problematics.

I am going to Scotland on New Years Eve to visit my daughter, my granddaughter, my son-in-law, various Scottish relatives of this little fam, and my new grandchild, whomever he or she may be. [Note: Magnus is likely to be the name of this little child if it is a boy, lately confirmed by the recently discovered fact that his great-grandfather's full name was Magnus James [something, I forget] Davies. My son-in-law wants to add Horatio to that mix. I shall keep my opinion of this proposition to myself.]

Anyway, in the seeking out of the cheap (well, cheapest, anyway) tickets, I ended up with a nine hour layover in LAX. This seems excessive for just waiting it out in an airport. My bff says I should come up with some sort of wacky survey and administer it to all sorts of people at the airport, documenting this activity with a camera. "(W)hat (W)ould R(obert) A(ltman) D(o)?" she says, which is a damn good question.

I am considering the aforementioned proposal, but would in the meanwhile like to hear the suggestions of my readers. If you had nine hours in L.A. (or realistically, about five hours, with the getting off the plane and the getting checked in for an international flight), what would YOU do?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Post-election investigation.

Democracy is nothing if its citizens are not involved. That's why my daughter and I decided to take a trip to our nation's capitol to investigate the mood after the election. We decided there was no better place than the Watergate Hotel from which to base our inquiry.

Exterior View, the Watergate Complex

Here's an interior view. I believe that you can feel the spirit of G. Gordon Liddy in this photo:

Watergate Hotel, Lobby Interior: Exit

We had an excellent view of the Potomac River from our window:

The Potomac in the morning

However, there were moments when things looked darker along the Potomac:

Gloomy, rainy-day Sunday (along the Potomac)

We took that to mean that there were some dark feelings about the election and its outcomes, somewhere in our Nation's Capitol. Here, we paused to contemplate Frederick Douglass's words: "Power concedes nothing without a demand."

Tree with autumn leaves, falling (universal symbol of the cyclical nature of change)

On our seemingly interminable flight home, we discussed these matters, concluding that the future of democracy is always uncertain.

Daughter contemplating the uncertain future of democracy.

Gratuitous Washington Monument shot.

Note: we also shopped quite a bit in Georgetown and hung out various places, including with my cousin, who was good enough to pick us up in Baltimore and schlep us out there again, fine young man that he is.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election scherzo.

Everyone knows the good news.

Sad news at the megastore--the dad of my kids, who ran for a Utah House seat, lost by about 400 votes. 400 out of about 6000! It seems so small. His competitor, the incumbent, ran a slacker campaign, had a crappy website, didn't even respond to the candidate questionnaire, didn't walk the neighborhoods . . . and still won.

All the kids did a lot of work for their dad--walking with him, distributing literature, standing on corners to honk and wave. Scotland daughter sent balloons and a boutonniere for the candidate. The historian and I contributed some money to the campaign. Last night, as the evening wore on, there was much checking of the online election results. The two candidates were even for awhile, but by 11 p.m. the die appeared to be cast, and this morning's paper confirmed it.

I would just like to say that an election in which some seats change hands but the overall ridiculous (im)balance of power in this state stays the same seems insufferable at the moment. Let us pause to contemplate it, and to wonder what might ever disturb this very bad status quo.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Megastore: behind the music.

In random order:

Rocky Mountain Invitational 5K in Pocatello.

On the road to Logan, the next day to Pocatello.

On any given day, the dogs take the back seat on the way to the dog park.

These ninja turtles have no business going trick-or-treating, but there you are. They went, anyway.

More dog parkery.

Brilliant fall weather.

More brilliant fall weather.

My auntie celebrates her sixtieth birthday with a tiara.

Running son wins a medal at the BYU Seniors invitational 5K.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My migration was Jazzarific!

So, yesterday, when I left my computer at the home of the Migration of Doom, aka the basement cave of the IT guys, I had some anxiety. Okay, maybe a lot of anxiety. It led to a flurry of housecleaning, that's how bad it was. Yes, I hung up/put away all my clothes and also found some items to give away. Also, I put away some shoes. Also, I sorted through the magazines and books and reordered my bedside shelves. Also, I put away a large-ish stack of books in my study. In other words, the Apocalypse was nigh.

But when I went to pick up my laptop this morning, all was sunny, even when they said to each other, "That one had some problems with the data" and even "the data failed." My heart beat a little faster, but an IT guy did the data transfer manually (whatever that might mean), and now my computer is migrated. And all is good. Ave, IT guys!

In the meanwhile, the Jazz looked amazing last night--powerful and together and actually a little deep. (Don't tell me they're not, I don't want to hear it from you skeptics, and you know who you are.) Whoo hoo, Jazz!

As a last word, it's time for all you television watchers to give 30 Rock a shot. NBC, Wednesdays at 7 (MST). It is hilarious. It's a sitcom, so it only demands a little of your time. It is very, very, very good.


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