Friday, September 30, 2011

suppose we all start talking like this

This is a scene from the great film noir classic Double Indemnity, screenplay by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler. 

I gotta say, I love this witty repartee.  Now let's get real - I would bet a paycheck (right now that equals about zero, but nevertheless...) that people never talked like this, even back in those noir days of the late 40's/early 50's.  Clever dialog like this just doesn't happen in real life.  But wouldn't it be great if it did?

One Toke Over the Line - Part 2

A friend forwarded to me a photo of this delightful Hillbilly High Rise - I would live there myself if I could:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

One Toke Over the Line

I am a real estate junkie.  I find myself poring over the real estate websites, checking out this house and that, imagining myself buying this property or that, driving through neighborhoods, blah blah blah.  You get the picture.  Every so often I notice a house that just stands out to me, not for beauty or charm, but for the sheer audacity of the homeowner to go where no man has gone before.  I am sure everyone has such a house in mind.  One of those spots on the block where you do a second take as you drive past, thinking "What the hell were they smoking?"  I would like to dedicate this post to a couple of those spots.  These houses bring a smile to my face every time I drive past them.  In fact, I have been known to drive out of my way from time to time, just to have a look.  I would like to throw these houses into contention for the "One Toke Over The Line" awards for 2011, homes that seem to have been inspired by or influenced by excess consumption of weed (or stronger hallucinogens, in some cases).  To protect the innocent I will refrain from giving the location of these homes, although 1 or 2 of them may be immediately recognizable.

This first house is one that I feel a personal connection to, since it is in my neighborhood.  This is a landscaping project run amok in a very small front yard.  The project, if you can believe it, started out as a putting green.  Yes, the homeowner started out sanding his front lawn and planting it with lovely golf course quality grass.  That wasn't enough for him.  He then widened his driveway by placing paving stones in a checkerboard fashion, with sand in between.  He then created a lovely glass brick mailbox that at one time had a small gargoyle perched atop it and was lit from within.  The next project, if memory serves, was to plant the area between the sidewalk and the street with crape myrtles and a myriad of other plants.  I do not remember at what point the pond appeared, but yes, one year the putting green disappeared, only to be replaced by a fish pond.  Then the guy built a deck on the front of his house so that he could sit out in the evenings and listen to the bullfrogs in his fish pond.  The natural landscaping and ornamentation have grown over the years, and this is what it all looks like now:

My only regret is that he has never invited me over for a few brewskis and a game of pool.

The next house I must mention is one I used to drive by on my way to work every morning.  I am sure that this house started out as a simple suburban box house, but my oh my, how it has grown.  I can't look at it without having to stifle an involuntary "Oh, my GAWD!"  But isn't it wonderful?  Seriously, what was this guy thinking?

I apologize for the blue tone of the photo, not sure what I did to make that happen.  Look at the teentsy little doors on this place, totally out of scale to the overall structure.  And what's going on with that gigantic diagonal awning over the front door?  For that matter what's going on with that huge, shingled, perpendicular roof thingy?  Or the roof over the carport?  I'll bet that guy in my neighborhood would be glad to show these folks how to install a fishpond in their own front yard, it seems to be just the thing needed to really push the edge of the envelope here.

My last contribution is just something to make you smile, and it happens to be right down the street from the last house we looked at.  I remember when this statue was first placed in the lawn.  Another addition completely out of proportion to the home.  Week after week I drove by the house, wondering what was that large package sitting under wraps in the driveway, while a rather large pedestal was being built.  Imagine my pleased astonishment when at last the wraps were removed to unveil this:

Yes, BY GOD, a laughing buddha!!!!  I had to take the picture from the backside, because I wanted to give an idea of the scale of this enormous thing, but had to include a picture of this jolly rancher's face, hence the inset. 

I do have another candidate or two in mind, but I would really like to get input on this.  Does anybody out there have a really wacky home to share?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

kitchen disasters i have known

I don't throw dinner parties, but I envy those who do.  To be able to throw together a wonderful meal and then to come to the table looking as cool as Martha Stewart is a skill I will never acquire.  I can cook.  And I can talk.  And I can drink.  And I can even execute a plan.  But doing all at once is beyond my reach. On the rare occasions that I actually do prepare a meal, it ain't pretty.  After spending a whole day cooking I usually come to the table bedraggled, hair dripping with sweat, foodstains on my shirt, redfaced, barefoot, and wearing the same clothes I threw on when I rolled out of bed in the morning.  At least that describes my Thanksgiving feasts.  The food is usually good, but it's winning ugly.

Despite the appearance of slaving in a kitchen, I must confess to being a lazy cook, much given to shortcuts. And there have been disasters, usually stemming from shortcuts that backfired.  On one occasion I got the brainy idea to dry out a dish towel in the oven.  Makes sense, huh?  If 90 or 100 degree heat can dry clothes in 40 or 45 minutes, then 350 degree heat should dry a dish towel in - what, maybe 10 minutes?  I don't recall how many minutes it was before smoke started pouring from around the oven door, but it was something less than 10.  I did manage to salvage the dish towel, although it did have singe marks on it after that. (By the way, just in case you're wondering, it is also not a good idea to try to dry something by placing it over a light bulb.)  Perhaps one of the more memorable kitchen disasters was the time I tried to make she-crab soup.  This was Christmas Eve, our first Christmas Eve by ourselves after we moved to North Carolina.  This low country favorite requires, of course, SHE crabs (no, it was not named after me, these actually are female crabs), heavy cream, and  a double boiler.  I did not own a double boiler.  But, being the resourceful cook that I am, I did not let that stop me.  My idea was to take my Dutch Oven and nest it inside my stock pan.  They were both the same make, I figured, so they nested perfectly.  Well, almost perfectly - they were actually pretty close to the same size.  It did not take very long for me to realize that I had made a mistake.  I don't recall what exactly tipped me off.  All I know is that for whatever reason I decided my plan was not going to work, so I took the soup off the heat and transferred it to another pan.  That was when I recognized that I had a problem. I could not get the two pots unstuck from each other. I had not anticipated that the heating and cooling process would create an almost airtight bond betwen the two pieces of metal.  I tried running hot water over the outside pan.  Didn't work.  I ran cold water over the inside pan.  Didn't work.  By then I was getting frustrated, and was panicking, because these were my only two pots, and they were damned expensive, and I would be damned if I was going to have to throw them out.  I jacked around with it for a while, growing increasingly angry at my failure to separate the two.  My husband wisely stayed out of the kitchen.  Finally I did the only thing I could think of.  I hauled out the tool box and pulled out a hammer and a screwdriver.  I took the tools and the conjoined pots outside on the patio. I tried to insert the screwdriver into the ever-so-tiny crack between the two pots, and used the hammer, like Michaelangelo sculpting David, to drive that son of a bitch down into the crack.  By this time I was swearing a blue streak, and sweat was dripping from every pore, in spite of the near freezing temperatures.  After about 15 minutes I realized I was fighting a losing battle, so I decided that the show must go on, and left my project on the porch and went in to finish preparing the meal.  Dinner was  a grim affair.  The she-crab soup was only so-so, and I was sure it was because I did not have a double boiler.  Or maybe because I had only used regular crabs instead of she crabs.  At any rate, it was not worth the trouble. Afterwards, I returned to the patio.  I had an appointment with destiny.  After a half hour's struggle, I emerged victorious.  My dutch oven was sporting a few groove marks down its side where the screw driver had been driven, and my stock pot was no longer quite circular, but both were still functional.  Of course, our Christmas Eve was shot all to hell.  Later that night I completed the festivities by yelling at my family for failure to participate in a sing along.  By that time my demeanor was somewhere between Jimmy Stewart at his meltdown stage in It's a Wonderful Life and Jack Nicholson at his wacky best in The Shining.  Fortunately, we all were able to laugh about it. Later.

conversations from real life

mom (to daughter):  hey, were you eating anything in your room yesterday?
dau:  no, not that I can think of.
mom: oh, because something smells like food down there.
dau:  yeah?
mom:  yeah, it kinda smells like rotting fruit.  Can't you smell it?  It's all over the house down there.
dau: Oh yeah, that's (insert name of friend)'s shoes.  They really stink, don't they?  He needs to get some new ones.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 and all that other stuff

To anyone who wants to roll themselves up in the flag and moan about 9/11 please stop reading this right now, because I am going to offend you.  I am going to say right here and now that I am not ready to memorialize that date.  Far  from it.  I would like to forget that date.  I would like to rub it out of  my mind as if it never happened. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to have been in the WTC or the Pentagon or on any of the hijacked planes on that day. Nor can I imagine what it would have been like to be a first responder.  Nor can I imagine what it would have been like to have lost a loved one on that day.  Furthermore, I do not want to know.  I do not ever want to experience anything remotely similar to what any of those folks experienced.  I would like to hope that nothing like that ever happens again to anybody anywhere, but I know that it will, because that is the nature of things.  Terrorism against against just plain folks existed for years and years before we Americans were introduced to it up close and personal.  Before 9/11 it was always something that happened to "those people", you know, those poor unfortunates who live in those poorly run countries "over there", thank God, not to US. But 9/11 put an end to that, didn't it?  Yep, that nasty shit can happen right here under our noses, to Americans, just like you and me.  We are not special. We can no longer feel secure in our daily lives.  We can no longer feel that it can't happen here.  To me, that was the lesson of 9/11, and I wish I could forget it.