Sevilla sangria…

Sevilla is beautiful… getting settled in, working through some connectivity issues at casa az, but nursemyra and i managed to work through our siesta, and crafted the first set of double corset friday pics…  a teaser below the break.

WARNING – if you might potentially need therapy, suffer emotional or mental damage, or lose your ability to concentrate in meetings should you glimpse daisyfae in her neon party-gear, then please, for the love of all that is decent, do NOT read below the break.

Continue reading

Cloudy…

With a chance of Forgetfulness… Now staring at 4 hours to go, and there are a few items still uncollected/packed, i’ve got a work telecon in an hour and a half, and here i sit farting about on the blog… can you say “Procrastination”?

Both azahar and compu-diva did this, and it pretty much captures my current “brain cloud”.  Although i left out “muddled-shit” and “fucking off”…

Fun stuff… Hey! Look! A seagull!

lef out \

Cloud your own brain…

Travel Prep – Geek-style

Although i have no idea what is “normal”, i know it’s not me when it comes to travel prep. i leave for Spain in less than 48 hours. Up until yesterday, i hadn’t given any thought to clothing for the trip. Thanks to azahar and nursemyra (and nog‘s computer), i’m now aware that southern Spain is hot.

Somehow i probably should have known this…

But, i was too busy with my really important travel preparations! i bought a new travel laptop!  Nerd Joy of Joys! It’s an Asus EeePC 900. To quote The Girl when she first saw it “Awww…. it’s cute! It thinks it’s a real PC!”.  Wicked cool stuff – cheap, rugged and extrordinarily functional*.  It’s got a slot for a photo memory card and an embedded 1.3MPixel Webcam**.

Oh, and i needed a new camera – the one i had is an ancient Kodak digital – but it was the first 3.1 MPixel on the market!  Time for an upgrade! Picked up a Canon S5 IS – high quality “point-and-shoot for idiots”.  I’ve had some help figuring out how to use the timer, so this li’l puppy is ready for adventure! 

Granted, these purchases are not just for the holiday in Spain, but in preparation for a two-week excursion to South America in October.  i may never get back to the Galapagos, and need good toys.  This trip allows time to practice, and optimize peripherals if needed.

Speaking of peripherals…

Since nursemyra and i are threatening considering a dual “Corset Friday“, and she’s already purchased a lime green corset for this event, naturally, i’ve managed to purchase just the right items to assure maximum color coordination!  Fashion isn’t for sissies, after all…  Festive underthings?  Check.

Oh, and books!  Got about five books so far.  Enough time on planes to read at least three, and figure i can borrow a few from my holiday gal pals!  Twenty bags of Orville Redenbacher’s finest popcorn stand ready to be compacted into baggies, and stashed lovingly into my suitcase as well. 

So.  What have i forgotten?  Ummmm.  Clothing?  Yes, clothing for 10 days away from home might be a good thing to pack…  Jeans – which i’ve now been told are too hot to wear in southern Spain in July.  Suppose i could wear the festive undergarments as evening wear, but suspect i’ll need something more.  Shit.  Where exactly does one purchase a “wisp of cotton” that won’t make me look like a cow? 

[sigh] 

i’ll have to dig something out of The Girl’s closet, excavate beneath the bed or just buy something during my layover in Philadelphia***.  There are more important things to do between now and then!  Like scrounging through electronic surplus stores to find an adapter that will let me hook up my external folding keyboard to the Eee PC! 

________

* Just like me!

** No.  There shall be no “Corset Friday Preparation Video”.  Sorry.

*** Little Known Fact:  Magazines and Travel Pillows can be stuck together with Post-it Notes and fashioned into garments.

The Wisdom of Youth

Starting to think about packing for my trip to Seville, Spain – where i will spend a week trying to avoid arrest visiting with azahar and nursemyra.   i leave on Wednesday afternoon, which means i’ll start packing that morning.  As a seasoned “road warrior” i know how to get my shit packed* – but for an extended international trip, i will generally put some thought into what i need to bring a few days prior**.

With major weight loss over the past few years, coupled with my deep-rooted hatred of anything that relates to shopping, i realized*** that i have no jeans that actually fit me.  Yesterday, in the middle of a thousand other errands, i stopped at the store to purchase jeans.  Did i mention i despise shopping?  That’s what the internet is for, damn it!

In the dressing room, swearing at the ghost of Levi Strauss, i was tugging on a pair of jeans – somewhere between the high-waisted “Mom” jeans with pleats and elastic at the waist and the low-rise “Muffin Top Generators” that cannot be worn by anyone over the age of 15….  The Girl called.  Doing a bastardized form of one-legged yoga, i took the call since she’d been sick, and we hadn’t talked recently.

Explaining that i was in the midst of picking up some clothes for the trip, she dropped the following:

The Girl:  You need to look cute over while you’re there!  Pack fun clothes!  Bring home a hot Spanish Daddy for me.  [pause] With a hot Spanish son…

* Heh, heh, heh… she said “shit packed”…

** Relax, az- 20 bags of Orville Redenbacher’s Smartpop- plain – procured, and ready to go!   In ziploc bags, of course.  Your popcorn mule stands ready to deliver the goods.  Now, if they ever make this shit illegal, we’ll have to chat – i ain’t swallowing them inside of condoms or anything!  Might get “popped” by the x-ray machine at the airport!

*** i only realized this because a friend called me “satchel britches”, noting that my jeans had enough room in the back for a troupe of performing midgets.  “But i like these jeans! i bought them for $5 at the thrift store a few years ago!…  um… right… guess it’s time, huh?”

Donut Magic

It’s been a bumpy week. Sleep has been limited, work/home activities have kept me hopping like a fire walking rabbit on crystal meth*. After a long day in The Park on Tuesday, i had to run two workshops on Wednesday and Thursday (small – room fulla crazies on Wednesday, large – room fulla geeks on Thursday). i was woefully unprepared for both…

But one little bit of preparation for the Thursday event paid big dividends. On my way home from work Wednesday evening, i realized that i had a million other things to do – and wouldn’t be able to condense my excrement into shape for the 3 hour meeting on Thursday. i stopped at the grocery store.

There they were – shimmering under the glare of the fluorescent lighting. Wet, but not wet. They called to me… And what did they say?

“MMMMMmmmm…. Geeks love donuts…..”

Rather than pull an all nighter, preparing for a meeting that i was in no mood to be running, i simply loaded my cart, headed onward to deal with other matters.  i managed to be in bed shortly after midnight. That 5:30 am alarm was a bit early, but playing ‘drag ass’ into the office before 7:00 am, i was able to slap together a workable agenda, print out some shit that made it look like i knew what the hell i was doing, and even put some charts together, just in case the Chief Scientist wanted to say a few words…

The attendees started to trickle in** just before 9:00 am, and had happy little faces when they spied the sugary goodness parked on a table in the back of the room – next to a giant urn of coffee. Not exactly smiles, but that “raised eyebrow of unexpected minor delight” look.

The Chief Scientist liked what i prepared, and presented the information as if he’d personally coughed up every word onto the screen.  So far, so good.  After tasking three unsuspecting (and equally unprepared) tech advisers to lead the “break out” sessions, i headed off to the ladies room, and managed a nice, relaxing “constitutional”***

i spent the rest of the morning wandering around, bullshitting with friends in the hallways as i randomly dropped in on the three groups – well, two of the groups, since i never did figure out where the third one went for their discussions, giving me further excuse to wander the building and bullshit with people in the hallways.

Wrapped things up nicely with reports from all three groups by noon, and was off to the next round of afternoon meetings – hosting visitors who would be giving two seminars.  Since it was short notice, and i’d not personally taken the time to recruit attendees to fill the seats, i did the next best thing…  Put out cookies…

Mmmmmmm...... Eat me......

* yeah. i know. not a great analogy, but it’s been a long fucking week, already! give me a break!

** better that they “trickled in” than “trickled on”. i had an elderly employee who sometimes did that…

***  sorry.  but yes, women actually shit.  not quite the defecation artists that men can be, but sometimes it’s nice to take your time and do it right… not sitting and sorting through the mail, sending e-mail on the ‘berry, or arranging home repairs via telephone.

damn memories

your first kiss…

i’ll wait.  Go ahead and follow that cranial hyperlink to wherever it takes you.  There’s so much power in those memories.  Good or bad, a stolen moment or the first in a series of escalating kisses, these moments mark us forever.

Annie started it with her meme.  There were some wonderful comments there.  But it wasn’t until i followed rob’s link to uncle keith’s tale of his first kiss that i let myself fall completely into this particular abyss. 

i was 14.  A freshman in high school.  If i had to tag myself with the standard adolescent categories, they would be “overweight, homely, class clown, anarchistic intelligentsia, band fag”*.  To celebrate the end of a successful marching band season** our director organized a dance – and brought in his jazz musician friends as the entertainment.

My best friend, J, was the most beautiful man/boy i’d ever seen.  We were inseparable that year – even  having parental approved “sleep overs”.  I’d stay at his house in the guest bedroom – but mostly we sat up talking all night long, planning our futures, knowing we’d change the world and live rich, full lives of international intrigue and adventure. 

Every girl in 9th grade had a crush on him - older girls, too.  His date for the homecoming dance was a smokin’ hot 12th grade girl – with her own car!  An incredibly gifted, yet mostly undisciplined pianist, we’d spend hours together – him at the piano, me with guitar – working on “our act”.  He was the first person to ever hear me sing… and the first person to ever tell me that i had a good voice, and should sing more often***.

Needless to say, i was madly and hopelessly in love with him.

The night of the “Band Dance”, we came up with enough cash between us to pay his brother to buy us a bottle of Jack Daniels finest bourbon.  We drank it in the parking lot before we went inside.  Fortunately, his brother had siphoned off at least half and watered it down or we’d have been hospitalized. 

A good buzz, with my best friend – the night was off to a magical start!  i remember fighting hope – like a bad case of indigestion – that maybe, just maybe,  the friendship could be more…  As the band played the first slow song, the older girls descended upon us like a harem greeting their prodigal sheik.  He was whisked off by someone much more desirable.  i went out for a smoke.  This pattern repeated with each slow song.  i got used to it. 

The band played the George Benson version of “This Masquerade”.  As i headed for the exit, J grabbed my arm and dragged me onto the dance floor.  Everyone seemed to be watching.  i was mortified.  But i let myself go… fell into his arms… and let myself believe, just for one song, that there was a chance…

He kissed me.  It was the most natural thing in the world.  And after he kissed me, he held me tighter, and we kept dancing.  The song ended, and he didn’t let go.  We didn’t move until the next song started, and then it was awkward and horrible and i couldn’t get out of there fast enough and my face was burning and i needed to be sick and get another smoke so i did a Cinderella number and ran off the dance floor to the parking lot.

The night ended.  11:00 pm.  Parents started to arrive to pick up their children, we said goodnight as we always did, and everyone scattered to the winds.  The next Monday when i first saw him in French class, he smiled at me – perhaps a little more warmly – and then it was back to normal.  As if it never happened.

That day, there was much gossip from the Band Dance.  While i was in the parking lot, chain smoking cigarettes in the throes of 14 year old lovelorn fat chick angst, J was in a closet, swapping spit with the French teacher – an older, hotter 24 year old woman!  This was much juicier gossip than him being seen on the dance floor kissing daisyfae, so the post-event public humiliation was mercifully lost in the noise.

It was about a year later that he told me he was gay.  In hindsight?  Well, d’uh…

There’s much more to this story – but it ended in 1986, when at the age of 25 J was killed in a drug-related accident, falling 60 feet from a railway bridge onto concrete below.  He’s buried within a few hundred yards of my Father.  When i go to the cemetery, i typically make two stops – one to converse with Dad.  One to yell at J for being a dumbass and thinking he could fly.

_____

* Yeah.  Some things never change… And you remember *that* kid from your high school.  Every school has one…

** i don’t think we won any awards, but there were no hospitalizations, no arrests, no pregnancies and inter-school vandalism was kept to a bare minimum.

*** It was another 3 years before i was brave enough to sing solo in front of an audience.  He was playing piano.

A little game called “food safety”

Growing up in the Great Depression drove Mom into Mega-Packrat Overdrive.  None of us worried about international logistical meltdown and food shortages as the “Y2K” crisis loomed.  Mom had enough food stored to feed a small European nation*.  Not to mention toilet paper, light bulbs, cat litter and Tupperware containers from the 1960′s.  We weren’t scared.  The bunker was ready.

There is, however, the challenge of the “use by” date.  Mom’s definition of “it’s still good” is a liberal interpretation to say the least**.  We generally exercise caution when going on a “munchie expedition” in the house.  This is complicated by the fact that we were raised on junk food and candy, and even as adults, will instinctively root through the house as soon as we enter, our little “lizard brains” forcing us to seek sugary, chocolaty goodness.  Not unlike zombies on a quest for tasty brains.

Today, upon return from the cardiologist, both T and i were in full “munchie” overdrive.  She went through all the usual candy hiding places, but came up empty.  Between DQ, Jr discovering most of the candy caches, and the fact that Mom hasn’t been out shopping in many months, the cupboards were bare.  We got desperate.  While DQ and i were beating through the new medication dosing schedule, T went to the refrigerator in the garage, and returned with a giant Ghiradelli chocolate bar and a box of foil-wrapped Christmas chocolates.

T:  Do you think these are still good?

daisyfae & DQ (in unison):  Whoa!  Careful – if there’s white stuff on the chocolate, don’t eat it!

Mom: It’s fine!  It’s been in the refrigerator.  Chocolate doesn’t go bad***.

T (sniffing foil-wrapped chocolates):  Smells ok…

daisyfae:  You first.  If you don’t die, we’ll be right behind you!

T (nibbling chocolate):  It’s ok.  How about the chocolate bar? (unwrapping the bar, revealing a leprous, ‘undead’ surface…)

daisyfae:  Wouldn’t risk it.

T (returning from second trip to the garage):  Hey!  I found this box of Pettit Fours!  Think they’re ok?

daisyfae:  i love those!  i’ll try one if they don’t stink… 

Sniffing it, there was a pleasant, chocolatey aroma.  Encouraged, i took a healthy bite.  The fucking thing exploded into dust in my mouth!  It was beyond dessicated.  i spit it into my hand – while T, DQ and Mom laughed their asses off…

T:  Well, it had a date on it – i think it was like 2002 or something… (more laughter)

______

* Perhaps two or three if they are in Eastern Europe… provisions probably still go further there.

** Mom has a 7′ long chest freezer in her utility room.  It could easily hold three dead bodies, perhaps five if they are efficiently processed.  It was last opened perhaps 10 years ago – and she produced meat that was freezer wrapped and dated 1971.  Mom ate a piece of zucchini bread from the mid-70′s and pronounced it “a little dry, but not bad!”  On one of our many attempts to de-clutter the house, we weren’t sure it was even running – making the prospect of removal that much more frightening.  i took a stethescope to it, and determined that the compressor was still running.  We may yet tackle the “freezer removal” this year… Stay tuned.  Excavation of the contents is certain to yield at least one blog post…  i know there are archeological food treasures that we could sell on eBay.  Perhaps “Antiques Roadshow”…

*** Mom also told us later that “meat doesn’t go bad as long as it’s been frozen”.  DQ then told us that she had to intercept a batch of frozen *green* hot dogs that Mom sent home with DQ, Jr. last year.  Barbeque, anyone?

Big Noise From The Southlands*

Trepidation in The Park this week.  My sister, T, decided late last week to come home.  Seems her partner had been laying on a heavy guilt trip – “Your Mom had bypass and you didn’t go home for the surgery? What kind of daughter are you?” After a month, she suddenly decided she had to come home, canceling a planned business trip this week.

i understand how hard it has been for her to be far away – even though we’ve provided regular updates by phone and e-mail, and she’s had plenty of opportunities to talk with Mom by phone.  And i have been careful not to tell her to stay away – i provide the status, explain current conditions and present Mom’s needs, but it ultimately has to be her decision whether to come home or not…

The night of Mom’s surgery in mid-May, T called me – probably after quite a few drinks – and was saying she would come home, that her partner, LPGA, was making her feel horrible about not being home for the surgery.  This conversation – incredibly one-sided, as T doesn’t listen, or seemingly take a breath, when she’s on a rant – didn’t really go anywhere.  It finally came to a close after i had to scream at her to shut up and listen to me – she actually calmed down, when i explained that there was really nothing to be done, Mom would be in ICU for at least a week.

The sad nugget buried in this little dance?

Continue reading

Gifts from my Father

Father’s Day.  It was always a challenge to find a gift for Dad.  Usually books or music, rather than “stuff”, suited him best.  He died in April, 2001.  i’m officially off the hook to help my kids shop for their Dad (the way i did when they were young).  That sort of makes this particular holiday “Free Parking” for me…

Rather than take the free holiday, thought i’d mention some of the gifts i received from my Dad.  There are many more.  He wasn’t particularly materialistic, so there are only two “gifts” i can physically touch*.  The rest?  Integrated into who i am, how i live - and if there’s anything good in me, i know who put it there…

Tolerance:  Dad was raised in a mill town near Boston, Massachusetts in the early 1930′s.  It was a melting pot of immigrants.  A first generation Sicilian, he grew up with friends who were Irish, Polish, Jewish and working class New England.  A Roman Catholic married to an American Redneck Methodist – once we were settled in the suburbs, he adapted, and even became an usher at church**.  “You meet people where they are – and trust them until they prove you wrong.  There are assholes of every race, creed, economic status and color.”

Music:  Although poor, his mother knew an education was his ticket out of the urban ghetto.  Music was part of that education.  He learned violin in primary school, and his mother gave him $5/week to buy a tenor saxaphone when he entered secondary school.  It was a good investment.  He played jazz sax in clubs all the way through high school and college, making extra money while indulging in one of his passions.  After his parents died within a few months of each other***, and his life fell apart, it was his “musician family” that gave him the foundation to get back on his feet, and get on with his career.  All four of us got musical training.  My brother, T, is a rabid musician, and i will still indulge occasionally****.  Not exactly a passion, mostly a creative outlet, an escape… an adrenaline rush.

Silliness:  Dad was a big man.  6′ tall, a solid 250-280 lbs most of his adult life.  Yet that never stopped him from mincing about the house doing his “two steps forward, one step backward” dance when we needed to learn a “life lesson” about setbacks.  Nor did it stop him from wearing whatever ridiculous hat my oldest sister, S – the 60′s flower child – happened to bring home.  We probably have more pictures of him acting like a goofball than we have pictures of him not acting like a goofball.  Including the pic of him posing with the Hooter Girls for his 75th birthday party.

Reflection:“The unexamined life is not worth living.”  Yep.  He was quoting Socrates to us as children.  Right there in the Trailer Park.  In retrospect, this was perhaps his primary “coping” mechanism.  He chose to devote his life to our family.  Rescuing my Mom and oldest two siblings from almost certain poverty, he gradually gave up other parts of his life that brought him joy.  He stopped seeing friends (couldn’t bring them home – Mom was embarassed about the cluttered house), stopped going to arts events (Mom always felt other people looked down on them), and so on… He read, watched television and sports, went to church.  And seemed perfectly content.  He seemed to know his purpose, and how all the pieces came together…

Not a complete list, by any stretch.  But some of the important stuff.  i still have conversations with him in the car after a tough day, or when i’m trying to figure out what to do with my life. Still.  No one lives forever, but if i can tell his story, perhaps i can serve as caretaker for his legacy…  i still miss you, dad… and i’ll try to keep that promise.

daisyfae and Dad.  From my sister, T’s, wedding in 1991*****.  Forgive the hideous dress – we had a few weeks to find something.  She met a Palestinian taxi driver while on a trip to San Francisco, and married him 3 months later…

* His mother died long before he married Mom.  Only a few pictures of her, and even fewer possessions were saved.  When i got married, he offered me his Mother’s wedding ring.  The scratches from her work in the mills still visible.  The other?  After teaching himself to play classical guitar on an instrument he bought in a pawn shop, he decided to spring for a Martin – not the top of the line, but a nicely constructed instrument.  Perhaps the only thing i remember him doing purely for himself.  He wanted me to have it…

** Taking great pleasure passing the collection plate on Sunday mornings in a white-bread suburban methodist church, in his dark suit, looking every bit the Sicilian Mafioso…

*** At the age of 25, an only child, he’d buried both his parents.  Not ready to tell this part of the story…

**** Beyond the theater silliness, and sitting in with bands during professional conferences, i will (rarely) grab the guitar, work up a 30-45 minute set, and get lost on an open mic stage.  Not quitting the day job, but if i had to, i could supplement my income by tagging up with a local club band.

***** This is the same sister, T, who now dates a former Lady Professional Golfer.  She was testing heterosexuality, and in the middle of a gentle “manic” phase when she came home to tell us she was getting married.  We had to wait a bit til she confirmed it would be a man.  We were all perfectly accepting of her lesbitarian status… and adapted quickly to throw the big white wedding she wanted.  Hence, the bridesmaid-dress-by-Satan.

When Groundhogs Attack

Much to the amusement of my friend, T (aka “The Goose Slayer“), a sister organization is also under attack.  Not by geese, or the feather-headed imbeciles who love them, but by groundhogs, and the fur-brained boneheads who can’t spell “nuisance”.  i despise deliberate cruelty, and even benign neglect, of animals*, but there are issues when the human need to colonize the planet conflicts with the animal need to… well, gnaw, shit and procreate all over the place.

From the Operations Director of the other organization:

We’ve had a groundhog problem in the courtyard.  Now we have someone releasing them and sabotaging the traps.  PLEASE do not release the captured groundhogs or mess with the traps.  The captured groundhogs are relocated – they are not destroyed

From a distance the groundhogs, especially the baby ones, look cute and friendly but they are aggressive animals—keep away from them.  They have destroyed building foundations, and they have chewed through wires and hoses of vehicles in the parking lots.

Groundhogs are considered nuisance animals and state law prohibits the release of a captured nuisance animal.  Don’t release them!

Well.  Isn’t that special?  Apparently, the rodent-fetishists didn’t get the message.  This came out the next day:

SUBJ:  Gopher Cam will Get You

Someone has sabotaged the gopher traps again!  As a result, we now have a camera that is viewing the area and the culprit will be caught if it happens again.  I will ask management to take the maximum disciplinary action possible.  Wiring has been damaged on several cars, resulting in $1000 repairs.  By sabotaging the traps or releasing the animals, someone is putting everyone at risk.  The animals caught are relocated and not destroyed.  Release by unauthorized personnel violates the law.

Bottom line:  Don’t screw with engineers.  We have the technology.  We will get your sorry, mushy-brained, PETA-supporting ass. 

_____

* Why do the animal rights folks seem to care more about “cute” animals?  Have you ever heard of “Possum Rescue” or “Naked Molerat Preservation Society” or “Earthworms Unlimited”?