Her Green Figs

The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.

28 June 2006

It's All Downhill from There

I sang for an ordination on Saturday. It wasn't particularly stimulating, but I do enjoy ensemble singing, see? And I really love to sing psalms. So Saturday morning was good. Then I accidentally had lunch with the out-of-town best friend of my HeartThrob. He's fun and amusing and successful and driven and had a lot to say about HeartThrob's recent proclivity for knee-walkin' drunkenness. Now, I enjoy a good time and have been known to, say, barf in the bushes at church after a particularly hard-drinking night, but, after a certain age (about 27), sloppy drunk is no longer anything but sad. To be falling-down drunk at 34 is to court group expressions of combined pity and disgust. I acknowledge that such a state is, to an extent, a recognized mark of creative angsty genius, but it is not the only such mark, and if that sort of professional characterization is what's at stake here, I'd prefer he chose something else.I'll tolerate other drug use and I'm willing to consider dealing with other drug abuse, but I don't see living with a slurring, vomiting, stinking, stumbling drunk in my future.

Saturday evening, GothGirl and I abused some substances ourselves, though not enough even to disable me from driving home responsibly. We fully proved, though, that I do make excellent margaritas, particularly when we have access to that marvelous little ice from Sonic. Henceforth, I think I might just run by Sonic for ice any time I'm making margaritas. We had a most excellent time, laughed ourselves stupid, and played childhood card games. It was a great evening.

Things have headed downhill pretty much since. I can't shake this sour mood.

In an hour or so, I'm meeting GothGirl (and likely some others, which would be nice since I've lost my momentum with that group) for dollar pint night and to hear HeartThrob's band play. It COULD be tons of fun, but I'm tired and mopey and quiet. It would be so nice for tonight to go well, including having an actual conversation with HeartThrob, but to think thus is only to set me up for massive, sobbing, disappointment (again).

The GC I wanted came back with a very reasonable bid, and I thought he was fantastic, except that this morning, when he gave me the bid, he said that he'd taken another big job and wouldn't be available until November. That's a long time to own an empty house.

I'm wearing my cowboy boots tonight, for the first time since I broke my foot.

25 June 2006

Old House Day 1

1. Purchased cleaning supplies, basic tools, power sander
2. Removed doors: two from LR/DR arch, one from hall/DR and two from top of DR china cabinet built-in
3. Spackled china cabinet built-in and two doorways where doors were removed
4. Removed wall nails in whole house
5. Scrubbed half of music room floor with turpentine (testing efficacy)
6. Vacuumed downstairs windows (YUCK! 12 windows = 3 full vacuum canisters!)
7. Removed light fixture, hanging baskets, coat rack from kitchen
8. Showed RET around
9. Met plumber: $14,000 for both baths and washer/dryer hookups
10. Replaced back door deadbolt (mostly RET, but I helped)

My thighs still hurt from the gym on Friday but today has made my feet, ankles, knees, and hips ache like nobody's business.

Tomorrow I'll try again with the GC at 11, and then maybe Mom and I can go buy fabric for curtains, which she volunteered to make.


Whachu Talkin' 'bout?

SW, CD and I

Yes? You and CD what?

What are you talking about? Aren't you at work?

You said, "CD and I" but no more.

Oh yeah. We were saying that we love you but it was too long to write. But we do. Love you (SW) from CD and JB. We love you. Yes we do. And we also love


Awwww, I love y'all too!

21 June 2006

Good Things

Good Things I Have Done Today:

(for my house)
* Called floor, plumbing, concrete, and general contractors for estimates

(for my mind)
* Read half of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
* Called and emailed for help with my grad school (part 2) application

(for my body)
* Ordered the large fruit salad to fill up on (with lots of vitamins) BEFORE I eat the (glorious, heavenly, best I've ever had) chicken salad sandwich
* Called a friend to go lift weights after Evensong
* Tried on a new blouse I bought and determined that it's WAY too provocative to wear to work

(for my soul)
* invited a friend to eat pizza on the floor of my new house after closing tomorrow
* called my nephew to sing him "Happy Birthday." Today, he is two.

20 June 2006


I had one of those days that, at the end, I just really needed somebody to kiss me--long, hard, and meaninglessly. I also needed somebody to throw his arm around me, sit next to me on the couch, prop his feet up next to mine on the coffee table, hand me a frosty bottle of beer, and babble comfortingly for an hour while I decompress.

Instead? I got a hand squeeze and a quick peck from my BB (with the VERY red eyes!) after a very frustrating rehearsal. And even that was more than I can really expect, so that's nice. Not what I needed, but nice.

Where are you, sympathetic, cuddly, beer man?!

My new palm has WiFi and, though I'm sure plenty of other people have these and like them, I can't shake the feeling that the wee appliance in my hand has been sprinkled with fairy dust and that I am a character in the second verse of a children's song. It is a REMARKABLE invention and I ADORE it. I get really good reception on one of the networks I've been pirating from the edge of my bathtub, and I'm pretty sure that the Palm hasn't enough juice to electrocute me there, unlike the laptops. I don't worry so much, see?

Remember that fantastic old Meryl Streep (fantastic!) movie, "Death Becomes Her"? She's immortal, but dead or something and has to keep getting spray painted by her embalmer husband? WELL, if this appeals to you, and you're afraid of the sun (like I am), I heartily recommend the Banana Boat spray self-tanner with bronzer. It's fun! and effective. Last summer I was promoting the Neutrogena spray formula, and it's good, but the one with the bronzer let's you see where you're applying the color and whether it's even or not. It's a little sticky but not at all worse than any of the creams.

Are you aware that the 44oz. Fresh Lime Slush from Sonic has SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN calories?!

Did you see the piece on Today this morning where all those people had their stomachs removed?

Oh, and the Prairie Home Companion movie is FANTASTIC!

15 June 2006

Tarheel Country

I have come up here to Durham, NC, ostensibly to attend part of the annual North American/European conference in my unfortunate career field in Chapel Hill. Really, though, this trip is a convenient way to get my state government to pay for me to visit my delightful brother, sister-in-law, and nephew in Durham. I am currently sitting on their red suede sofa in their little living room in their little cottage. I am waiting for them to come home from work and school so we can go to a baseball game. I am also hoping to fall asleep briefly, since I know the heat at the stadium and the sticky on the nephew will only make me even grumpier after my night of insomnia, morning of parking horrors, and day of grueling seminar. Yuck.

Construction continues on the replacement foundation of what may or may not be my new old house. I have not yet been informed of any catastrophes (is it practical or pessimistic or paranoid that I have been imagining chimneys collapsing through three floors or ceilings cracking in half or front porches just plain falling off the building?). Thus, I am assuming that things will go according to plan and that I will own a new old house at this time next week. I really have to get the estimate on that water heater replacement... Darnit. I stopped in a Big Orange Suburban Home Improvement store (BOSHI) this afternoon and loaded up on fresh paint chips. I surely do love me some paint. I like to smell it, like to stir it, like to paint with it, like to gaze admiringly at it, and like to choose it (by way of paint chips). The BOSHI also reassured me that there are passably attractive porch lighting fixtures and semi-suitable ceiling fans to be had at far less than some of the prices I am finding online. Since the goal is to spend as little as possible on things that won't bother me daily during renovation, I CAN buy the $80 porch light instead of the $300 one. To do so will permit me to order the swiss army cabinets with useful things that roll out, the really nice washer and dryer, and the fancy custom built-in bookshelves and windowseats. And stained glass. And reproduction fireplace tiles. You know, the important stuff. Not porch lights.

I am beaming and honored to be named a finalist in this month's Blogging for Books contest, hosted by the tremendous Joshilyn Jackson. The fine pre-judge this month is Angel and the celebrity judge is Shanna Swendson, author of some excellent work in one of my favorite not-really-a-genres, contemporary fairy-tales. As usual, I've read the REVIEWS of Shanna's books, but still haven't quite gotten around to reading the books themselves. This unfortunate side-effect of my time in graduate English departments is what I'm thinking of when I start to tell my students that they really don't have to read the books in order to write great papers, but then I stop myself from saying that with a well-placed coughing fit and tell them, instead, just to do the assignment and stop bloody whining about it. Anyhow, if I am blessed enough to win this contest, I promise I WILL read Shanna's books, then think about how I can work them into a syllabus. If YOU, fair reader, are interested in competing in the Blogging for Books contest, check Joss' blog for next month's prompt. However, I warn you that to check her blog may mire you into the swampy muck of smiles, giggles, guffaws, deep thoughts, and head-nodding that may cause you to read parts aloud to your colleagues and family pets and henceforth have even one more thing you have to do every single day of your life. As for me, I'm happy to have that as a daily part of my life, and so would my dog, if I had one.

On Tuesday night, I attended my first meeting of what may become a writing group to call my own. Well, not exactly "my own" since they've all been together for many years and they're mostly a generation older than me, and they already have a name, etc., but one that I might could be a part of anyway.
My fellow chorister, CD invited me and that put a big smile on my face to start with. Then, after the meeting, everyone (I think all of them) invited me to attend the next session, which I take as a pretty good sign. Yay! The collective mentorship in that group could be a very handy thing for me. I do so long to leave behind my boxes of business cards with the titles, "director" and "advisor" and "consultant". And while I harbor only fantasies, but no plans to pay bills and get health insurance as a writer, having a crit group is a step in that direction. Next time, I will take something to read.

And while we're on the subject of fantasies without plans, mine still involve trunks of ballgowns hauled around Europe as I travel with my internationally successful husband/lover/boyfriend the maestro and write brainy, poetic novels in outdoor cafes while he rehearses and ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT EVER have affairs with divas.


Alternatively, we can live in the Delta while he heads some high school music program and I become a wildly successful, though still critically acclaimed, Great Southern Writer, and we can spend most of our time in a great jook joint or roadhouse or dive bar. I'd miss the ballgowns a little though.

06 June 2006

This Magic Moment

I am one of those people whose phone always rings when she thinks about someone (not just friends or family--also doctor's offices or brokers or long-lost colleagues) and around whom streetlights flicker constantly. I'm sure you know someone else like this. More than once I've heard someone say (at a party or a meeting or such) when I arrive, "Oh good! Courtney's here. Now something will happen." I wish I could accept that compliment, but I don't really do anything--stuff just seems to happen around me. None of it is particularly good or bad or comforting or scary, but it certainly can be strange. I could call it "God" or "the universe" or "karma" or "coincidence" or "faith" or "ghosts", but, for now, let's call it "magic". When my dinner date says, "I hope they have that sacher-torte for the dessert special again," they do. When the kid on my camping trip says, "I hope we see a donkey on this hike," we will. When my drinking buddy says, "I hope Scott drops by tonight," he appears.

I had a very magical experience one Christmas, several years ago. Of course, Christmas is magical for lots of people in different ways--children discovering the new bicycle Santa brought them, parents admiring their new grandchildren at the dining room table for the first time, acolytes lighting the final Advent wreath candle--but there was a time in my life when I had no Christmas magic of my own. I was too old to care about presents, too young to have children, and not much interested in the liturgy. I had also traveled to my parents' house, in my hometown, for the holiday, minus my boyfriend who had refused to meet my family and then gone to Grand Cayman without me after our huge fight.

So I was magic-free that Christmas but had agreed to help my mother with altar flowers at our church (site of christenings, weddings, and funerals for many generations of our family). Mother's supplier had fouled up her order and had half as many flowers as she'd wanted, and half of those were wrong, so we had been scrambling to find what we needed. For HOURS that morning we went to florists and supermarkets and neighbors' houses and even a farm to gather odds and ends of flowers. We had made two large arrangements of the scavenged supplies and they were okay, though not up to Mother's exacting creative standards. We needed more greenery so headed out again to seek trimmings at Christmas tree lots. We found none. The lots were closed down, and empty or chain-link fenced so all we got was a paltry branch or two. With only two hours until the first Christmas Eve service and a Parish House already filling with eager eight-year old shepherds and angels, we decided to go home and prune my parents' own Christmas tree, right there in the living room, and use that to finish the altar.

I was driving a little too fast, really, since there was no traffic and we were panicking about completing the arrangements. I was racing through an amber traffic light at the crest of a hill when I saw something big lying across the road just ahead of us. I slammed on the brakes, banging our heads and locking our belts, and stopped just inches from what I was sure had to be a sad holiday drunk, passed out in the road. We stopped screaming, got out of the car, and rushed forward to find... a Christmas tree. A sad, broken, Charlie Brown of a Christmas tree, but one with enough green branches to fill our empty vases. A Christmas tree that, like me, had no Christmas purpose but that had been magically delivered nearly on top of probably the only two people in town who had any need of it. It could only be MAGIC that would take an ugly, unwanted tree and give it to an ugly, unwanted girl, who would give it to a beautiful, fancy church that would give her back some real faith in magic.

02 June 2006

Game on!

My new old house is back on, sort of. Very upsetting news from the inspection, but the owner is going to fix those things (about $25,000 of stuff). If all goes well, I'll have a brand new foundation, ducts, water heater, and some windows. Nice. However, all my giddiness for the house is gone. Nevertheless, there's planning to be done.

Downstairs bathroom:

How gorgeous is this sink?! It is $849 at http://www.sinksfaucetsandmore.com/. I'm going to move the toilet into the walkable part of the room (ridiculously sloping ceiling dives to about 4' where the toilet is now. This give me the chance to indulge in a fixture I'm most enamored of--the Kohler Hatbox Toilet ($1825 at Employee Wholesale Direct). I read about this toilet in some design magazine about a year ago and fell in love. My favorite thing about it is the concealed trap shape. I HATE dusting those ridiculous ridges at the bottom of toilets. Does anyone really care to see the outline of those pipes? I don't even want to know they're there. As far as I'm concerned, I don't need to know anything beyond seat and flusher. I would love to have the sort of bathroom where I could install this gem amidst lots of open space and tiny tile, but that's not going to happen soon. Instead, I'm going to claim that it's the only toilet that will fit in my new, weird bathroom. If I can swing it, I'd like to sink a whirlpool tub through the floor in that low-ceilinged part of the weirdness, under the window. It's not the top priority though. An outdoor hottub would probably be cheaper, though it wouldn't give me a full second bathroom.

Upstairs bathroom:

Of course it's another quirky, difficult, and small room. It's 9' long and 5' wide, which isn't the problem. The problem is that one short wall is filled with a floor to ceiling window and the other short wall is filled with the door. 5' is not comfortably wide enough for a tub or shower and walking area, especially since I don't want to detract from the existing window. As is, the clawfoot bathtub is on the right side long wall and the sink is wall hung just across from it (very squishy to get through). The toilet is at the window end on the bathtub wall. Possibly, I could leave the toilet location as is (replacing all fixtures, obviously) and move the sink farther down its wall, across from the toilet, and install a big frameless glass shower where the tub is. That's the quickest and safest solution. The more satisfying solution, however, would be to move the toilet up to the left inside the door where there is now a large cavity of a linen closet, leave the sink where it is, and enclose the far end of the room as a double shower. The HUGE problem with this is that there's a window in the middle of that wall. I don't give a flip about privacy, but introducing a whole lot of water around a 100 year old wood framed window is a very bad idea. I think it could be managed with some elegant waterproof curtains for the window (to be drawn closed during shower use) and a powerful vent fan or two. This solution would make the room feel a LOT larger and wider and less corridor-like, which would be really wonderful, since it's the only bathroom. I far prefer this layout, but that's a lot of moving around of plumbing.

It's not so easy to justify another hatbox toilet for upstairs, although I'd like it, of course! I want a pretty traditional looking room, really. I can see a dark wood sideboard with double vessel sinks such as these from Elizabethan Classics ($138 at faucetline.com). Alternatively, this model (Hilo) from Swanstone is made of solid surfacing material which would feel warmer in the room. There will need to be some tile in this bathroom, in the shower, wherever it goes. I think I'm going to go with white-to-charcoal mosaic to go with the white fixtures. Don't want a white shower base though. That should be dark.