Strong Women and Whiskey

not for the delicate palate

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Location: Oxford, Pennsylvania, United States

I've found that if you speak as if with authority on nearly any topic, most people will believe you. This frightens me.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


the only places I don't have paint, are those that are covered by clothing - and I think some of those may be suspect. :)

We have two weeks to finish the kitchen. All life beyond that goal, is secondary - well, most, anyway. I'm still going to work.

This weekend, the in-laws stopped in on their way to Florida and were amazingly tolerant to the copious amounts of drywall dust and cat-in-heat yowling. Fortunately Devin was handling most of the work on Saturday so we were able to show Doug's parents around the place. Couple that with gorgeous weather and it made for a busy but pleasant day. Sunday afternoon they headed out after I fixed "brunch" (read, I didn't get going until about 10 a.m. to start cooking) and I was able to start the messy business of primer-ing.

I think I have a permanant crick in my neck from painting our vaulted ceiling which goes from 9 feet to I think 12 or more. I've lost track. Doug went to Home Depot to get our paint colors (he picked out the pantry color all by himself! *grin*) and I got to work painting. This morning, Devin got up and did some more sanding (the pantry area is still being spackled), then I got up and did some more sanding -- and in that time period, the siding guys showed up and started putting up the silver insulation stuff AND the Terminix guy showed up and did his thing. I'm still floored as to how 20 minutes worth of work can cost that much, but we're over a barrell on the whole termite thing. We probably got no active infestation, but the previous owner lost his paperwork to prove treatment.... and I did most of the second round of primer this morning after sanding some.

Then I went to work. Went to Home Depot for some more paint trays. Came home and finished the second layer of primer, painted the ceiling with ceiling paint, and painted under the bulkheads with my accent color. Sanded some more, and hung out with Devin some. Poor guy, he comes to live with Doug and I and he's worked his butt off every day.

Tomorrow, I get up early, paint the second coat on the ceiling, second coat on the bulkhead. And maybe practice my faux techinique in a few inconspicous places, maybe do the stain on the bifold. Then go to work, come back, tape it proper and do the color layer.

We have high hopes to start tile on Wednesday.

Pass the coffee, please.

Monday, January 30, 2006

little bird analogy

Our chicken coop is more than just the house the chickens live in. It's a big fenced in cage with a fence roof, to protect the chickens. Right now there's a little bird stuck in the chicken coop and it keeps fluttering against the fencing - absolutely certain that this time it will get out. It must've gotten in yesterday and we missed it when locking the girls up for the night. It's pretty common for us now.

I go in and corner the bird then fail to catch it several times since I'm so afraid my big clumsy hands will hurt it. Once, one even stunned itself flying into the posts. Finally I get it cupped gently in my hands, head poked out between my thumbs. It's little heart beating, beating. I'll hold it for just a few moments too long, savoring the feeling of it's feathers, the rarity of holding a wild bird, then I'll open my hands and it will fly off.

But now a little bird is in the coop, and I haven't gone to save it yet. There are about 10 other little birds with it. Outside the coop. Watching, I see the trapped bird on one side of the fence on the ground. Then the other little birds land near it. Since they are altogether, they think they can fly off. So they all take off together -- only one is stopped by the fence. So they all return and do it again. And again. They don't understand the fencing. Certain that they see their companion is right with them, they expect it to be able to go with them. They can't fathom what is holding it back.

Eventually I'll go free the little bird. What I really can't help thinking though, is how this applies to people. Those we love, or ourselves. How often have we been the little bird, unable to break past a certain point to the confusion of our companions? How often have we been the companions, growing more and more exhausted with each attempt to not leave the other behind? And what has been the big unknown catalyst?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

I never wrote you a love poem

I dreamt last night that I was really trying to make ammends - trying so hard to make nice to his wife, so that we could talk openly again. When you suck the poison from the snakebite, all of the bloodvenom cocktail doesn't make it to the floor. Sometimes, whether you like it or not, a person becomes part of you so thoroughly that getting rid of them is amputation. Or more, like those people that when in utero, were twins, until one absorbed the other. Now they're having teeth removed from their shoulder. I wonder sometimes, who is the tooth.

He was always the strong one, or so I thought. It seems now, that I did an awful lot of listening. An awful lot of following as well. Perhaps I was more pliant than strong. Perhaps he saw that as a weakness.

Looking back, I remember trying to be so tough, so strong, so forgiving, so compliant. I think, over 5 years we said "I love you" about as many times. He just didn't say those things, so I didn't either. And whenever he left I never told him. I questioned, I listened, I rationalized, we talked and talked and talked -- but I never said that he should stay because I loved him. Perhaps he needed to hear it as much as he couldn't say it. Perhaps not. Perhaps I couldn't let it shatter my own guy's girl visage.

I may never know. Nor may he. But in being part of my brother's recovery, I'm reminded of him in some ways, when he was recovering (if you could call it that) from the drugs and the alcohol. I know now, what to look for - how it works, the nastiness that goes along with it, the regret that you haven't let yourself regret yet, the fucked up things you did to people you love. So fortunately, I now have a greater understanding of my brother's situation, and also some retrospective clarity.

I know that, had we stayed together we'd have both been miserable -- it took me a long time to accept that. It's hard to accept that I only speak to him every few months, while he's at work. I refuse to call him anymore. He won't call me but talked for ages when I did.

My mother said the hardest part of divorce and estragement was losing the witness to your life. Having been almost exclusively his (hermits that we were) sometimes, I miss having that witness. Having someone who really knew me then and can testify to how far I've come. I regret having not made him hear "I love you". I don't know his current situation -- but for some reason, my heart tells me, and my dreams tell me -- that even though I don't feel that way now, that he needs to hear it - needs to know how much he meant to me at that time. Or maybe I need him to know.

From what I can tell, he's become a much more decent person. Maybe having never said anyting but poured in all the good I good, and sucked out as much of the bad that I could made a difference. But maybe also it destroyed any chance of pursuing the friendship we had.

I think it narrows down to guilt. I know too much, I've seen too much, I've heard too much, and he know's he's hurt me too much in the past. I think that it's very hard to be who you are now when around the ones that saw you, and loved you, at your lowest.

Sometimes, though, I miss my friend.

Friday, January 27, 2006


this is saving my place where I stopped after compulsively reading archives for the past several hours.

don't you dare start here. start in the beginning. go now. read.

Five weird things meme -

1. When driving in the winter I like to keep my driver's side window open no matter how cold it is. Of course, I hate being cold, so to combat that, I also keep the heat cranked way up.

2. Fat Cat guards the coffee. I have not idea when this became "a thing" but now every time I, or anyone else uses the coffee, Fat Cat must be placed back on top of the canister where he belongs.

3. I can roll my tongue into thirds.

4. The "Worst Case Scenario" book was written for me. I'm sure of it. It seems like no matter what is going on, at some point my brain automatically shuffles and analyzes anything that could possibly go wrong and how I would address it. Now this is not too much of a curse, because in an emergency of any kind, I'm the calm one - but still it seems like to much worrying to me. Of course sometimes I go off the deep end and end up with super powers or beating the crap out of someone or something utterly unrealistic. Perhaps that just makes me feel like I'm in control, huh?

5. Until I was 17 or so, I said good night to my stuffed animals every night. "The Velveteen Rabbit" had a huge impact on me. I mean, who's to say they weren't "real"? Just making sure.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

New Chicken

Sunday, as we were finishing up our long day of drywalling, Raven's mom showed up with a chicken. A new chicken, in fact, for our little group. She has a friend up in New Hampshire where she lives who is happy to have a home for some of them, so whenever she comes down this way she catches as many as she can, pops them in a cat carrier, and carts them on down here.

The new girl even showed up with an egg! She's less sedate than the others, and is still getting used to them and us. I don't think she was well received, initially by the others. So at one point on the first day, I found her down by the creek, many, many, yards -- almost half an acre from the other chickens. So I chased her up towards the coop and only successfully ended up chasing her up and down the creek, in the mud, and into the briars before I realized I was nearly late for work.

At least when I go home she was in with the others. She'll work out okay, though, I think that the Collette-chicken is jealous since the rooster's been paying attention to the new girl. The Colonel doesn't pay much attention to the two Wyandottes, though. Maybe he's only into white chicks. Racist barstard.

"What do you mean by 'She's kinda cute.'"?

"Uppity hussy! *peck* Don't you dare *peck* think you can lay a *peck* feather on my man!*peck peck peck*"

"Help! Help! The pouffy one's gonna kill me!"

So I decided to escape to the back of the property for a little respite from all the drama in the coop.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I am worth $1,530,780 on

Empanadas, Sushi, and the darn cat

Our Russian Blue kitty, Gigi, decided on Sunday that she needed a new friend. REALLLY needed a new friend. As in boyfriend.

Half the night and half the day, she wails loudly to see if her new friend is anywhere around. When she's not wandering around the house wailing, she's eyeballing me, Doug, or my brother to see if we could help her. (ick)

I hate cats in heat. Gigi just looks so confused and miserable -- and there is no where in this house for us to put her where we couldn't hear her. I hope it's done soon. She sounds creepily like a crying baby when she's downstairs, and at 2 a.m. that's just disconcerting.

She is SO getting spayed. other news. Doug suggested that I sign up for this course, so I took him up on it. I'm excited. I get to learn to make sushi! What's even cooler is that I have a whole new pile sushi making accessories to try out once I learn. Yum.

Oh and to make up for the haggis post:

You may drool now. I filled these yummy pastries with ground turkey, chilis and spices. The beans and rice turned out awesome too, with chili, onion, beans, saffron and some other goodies.

These I filled with guava paste and cream cheese then sprinkled them with a touch of confectioners sugar. I didn't get a photo the insides as they went too fast! Very tasty and relatively quick. The pastries come as premade discs which makes them very handy. I may try a miniature version one day and see how that goes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sick and Wrong = DEV2.0

Apparently someone, somewhere, felt that this was neccessary.

a haggis? a haggis!

Ach! I found online grocer that will ship a haggis! Yay! Now I have to save my pennies to get one... unless I start a Laura Haggis Fund :) They also have canned haggis, of which I read decent reviews, enough to get my fix, anyway.

See, I only ever get haggis once a year at the Fairhill Highland Gathering. I have dreams about it - hot and steamy, bursting out from the slit in the skin, doused in good whiskey and served aboard oaten cakes.


Okay, you can stop gagging now.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

the details

Well, I go from being in the depths of depression one week, to too busy to think the next. I am keeping in mind I need progress on that end. However, it has been busy!

Aside from having contractors in and out, I went for a job interview last week and got the job. This woman had stopped to talk to me when I was taking Mom to the hospital, and it took a bit for me to call her and set up the interview. So I went, and we spent perhaps 2 1/2 hours just talking . My new boss is a very interesting woman -- we even got to discussing music, which I haven't spoken about to any serious extent to anyone in a very long time. As in music theory - not popular music. She's encouraging me to go with her to Sweet Adelines on Mondays. I told her I can't sing, but she doesn't believe me. Well, I CAN sing, but not well, and haven't had anyone to coach me to let me know when I'm doing right and wrong. I did sing in chorus in high school, did some on-stage musical stuff (i.e. a Broadway Review), and did some and did some sight singing for my college Music Department entrance exams. But I don't have much confidence in my ability. My boss said that the ability to read music, and knowing some theory and having a strong voice is all I need, and that they will actually teach me the rest!

I'm rather excited at the prospect. God knows I've missed being around music, and performing on stage, and well, it's tantalizing. I really don't have anywhere to play my clarinet around here, and I'm pretty rusty. Plus, most the outfits around here, well, they play a lot of patriotic, Sousa marches and stuff. Nothing against them, but I'm not sure where to go that has a broader repetoir. The only drawback is that practice is on Monday nights and I will be having classes on those nights.

Oh, did I say classes? Tuesday I have my interview with the Academy of Massage and Bodywork. I'm in. I officially start to earn my LMT (liscensed massage therapist) on Monday, March 6 and classes continue until January 2007. I've wanted to do this for so very long, I can't wait to start. I get to keep my table and books, and it's a 550 hour course that covers so much more than basic massage.

I figure that I'll make a practice or two at Sweet Adelines as a guest, and see if they want me, or I want to join, and that will be my payoff for completing school.

Hrm. What else? Oh, Saturday Doug and I took Mom, wheelchair and all to the Hippodrome in Baltimore to see the 25th Anniversary tour of CATS... which was very good, and it went very well. Mom had a great seat, since she was in a wheel chair with a broken ankle, we had to change our seats, and she got a nifty ramp to park on, almost a whole head above everyone else! It was freezing cold when we left, and I don't do dense crowds well, so I offered to go down the steps to the parking garage and get the car. Little did I realize that there was a difference in the garage between level 6N and 6S. So I tracked down the car, and then couldn't get out because everyone was all jammed up trying to get out. I figured Mom would be getting cold, so I told Doug he might as well bring her down. It was like playing Shutes n' Ladders to get us matched up. Cold. Cars. and Doug zipping Mom up and down inclines between cars... quickly... trying to find me while playing Marco Polo on the cell phone.

Well, nothing's perfect, right? So we get back after the play around 3 a.m. (we had to stop at a diner on the way home, of course) and find out that we have no power. Had not, in fact had any power since that evening. Had not, of course, any indication of when we would be getting said power back. The wind storms were wicked fierce and we live in the sticks. So we get through Sunday with no power until around 6 p.m. I will never EVER get rid of our woodstove. Ever. I even cooked on it!

I also started work on Monday. I wasn't quite ready for it, but wasn't going to complain. So I work for a company that handles in-home care, or companionship. Nothing medical, more like cleaning, errands, etc for folks that needed. Many clients are elderly but we also work with people who are recovering from surgery, new moms, and so forth.

My client is a very interesting 93 year old woman, Mrs. F-. She's done more in her retirement than I think I'll ever do in my life. Well educated, well traveled -- knowledgeable in art, music, gourmet cooking, etc. We've actually spent a good bit of time chatting -- she's a bit stuffy in some ways, but has a right to be I think. I'm not sure how much I like the job, but it's a job, and can be interesting. She doesn't have a ton of stuff for me to do -- I prefer to stay busy -- but hopefully that will change as she gets used to having someone around. Right now, the hours are regular, which is better than most people in this business have -- I work noon to 4 p.m. everyday. Unfortunately, those are also my peak production hours. I suppose I'll have to work on being more of a morning person. The good thing is that with this job there is a lot of flexibility and that bodes well for me and going to school, the work is right up my alley in dealing with people, and the pay isn't bad.

Okay, I think that may be it for now.

Freezing cold, no heat, no electricity, no running water and this girl will still whip up a meal of a slab o' meat, scrambled eggs, and hot cocoa. Yum. Those, by the way are some country pork ribs on the smallish side, that I thought were chops when I bought them. Verra, verra tasty.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


I am now:

1. employed

2. a student

More later on both. :)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Culture, in Delaware?

Having grown up in the MD/DE line area, it always amazes me when I hear about intellectual and cultural events that don't involve: 1) NASCAR 2) Sports 3) cow-pies 4) tractors 5)booze,bars, frat parties, etc. Not that I have a problem with any of those things, just that this region has a certain stigma for those of us that were born and raised here, even if there is less and less of a foundation for it.

But, things change - I REALLY want to go to this!

if I had a hammer....

Today, and every day since the middle of last week there has been the sound of construction coming from the downstairs of my house. The squeal of a table saw, the reverberations of hammering. I'm so excited to see progress on the new kitchen. This weekend, after the contractors leave, Doug and I will begin the process of doing the tile, drywall, painting and trim. Then the contractors come back and finish the job.

Fortunately we're working with a great company that is allowing us to do some of the work ourselves in order to save some money. With all the spending going on now, it's hard to see the money saved, but I know it's there. For example the billing on drywall was 3500 for material, and 3500 for labor. We've spent just over 500 on material, and will be doing the labor ourselves.

It's interesting having contractors in the house, seeing the same guys every day. You almost miss them when they're gone. Most of them have been really cool. Joe, the plumber, Mark the carpenter, and Ryan the heating guy have each spent a week here. Nice guys, all of them.

Last night I made Sauerkraut Soup from a recipe I saw over at nami-nami a few months ago. I've made it many times since I saw the recipe and have tweaked it to suite my tastes a bit - but not much. Oh my goodness it is good. I can't explain it right now, but I'll try to later. It's the kind of food I feel like I still have room for in my belly even though I'm absolutely full because it is just so tasty.


I'll post pics later. But the cool thing was that I heated up the pot today and fed Mark and Joe and myself a lunch of hot soup and sour rye bread n' butter. I know, I know -- it's the feeding people thing, I just can't help it.

The other night I made fresh dumplings to go in the left over chicken and dumplings so that Doug could take some into work to share with his co-worker. They've been doing water testing all week, so they're out in the chill. It was important to do that - important to know, I suppose, that I was able to send a warm spot over into someone's day. Home cooking does that - perhaps is that all the love and reverent handling of the ingredients gets tranferred -- and food is more of the medium, carries it like water crackers do good cheese. I don't think this is true of all food, a lot of the time it's about the nuance and taste and so forth -- but homecooking-style food doesn't just feed the stomach, it really does warm the soul.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

share my eyes

This omlette is a good reason to have chickens. I have never purchased eggs from a store that turn out this color. No turmeric or coloring added, in fact, I diluted it a bit with milk. The taste and texture are fantastic, savoury and firm. I'm so excited, the chickens started laying again about two weeks ago!

This dresser was originally light blue and covered with 20 years of built up grime (the stuff that does not wipe away with Windex). I've had it since I was at least 5. A day of sanding, priming, painting, more sanding and some drilling. New color, new hardware, and new "old" look. I distressed the edges and grooves by hand to show the original wood and the original color. I did the top in cream colored enamel. Very theraputic.

Christmas Eve Eve with my brothers their wimin. They descended on Friday the 23th and our house was full and noisy. I made several gallons of Irish stew - served with salad and good bread. If you think this is a full house, consider that Devin and his girlfriend couldn't make it. :)

Goodnight Barnhenge. The view from the workshop last night. My hands aren't steady enough to take good high-res, low-light photos, BUT the new windows open from the top down as well as top - up and provided me with a handy ledge to get this shot.

Blue in the Shade. I love the way the snow turns blue in the shadows. This plant is a myriad of tiny dried bells, each one coated individually in ice.

I never notice them in the summer, however in the autumn they dry - at which point they are very striking. A cluster of them in hand makes for delicate maraca-like rattling, and bundled in some raffia, they fill a vase nicely.

Barnhenge on Ice.

If you look carefully you can see my car, Skippy, where she was stuck for 4 days until I called a tow truck to pull her out. :)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Happy Birthday Mike!

...another year older and already had learned the secret to staying awake on Christmas Eve (unlike Raven in the background). Coffee!!!

Friday, January 06, 2006

A life in thirds

After the implosion what relic will remain, skimming the event horizon?

That line has been stuck in my head. I haven't found a use for it yet, but it about sums things up. Spending a lot of time with myself has made me a very introverted person. Perhaps, I was that way all along? Perhaps all of the to-do's, to-see's, to-make's were more of a distraction than anything.

Last week, I hit my lowest low since the last one. The kind of low that is imobilizing. Too low to cry, too low even for self-pity. Simply low. Oddly, when this strikes, some part of me is always distant, non-emotive and hanging out on the outside looking in. This is also the part of me that never let me have a good "blackout" when drunk, so that in the morning, I'd always be aware of exactly what an ass I'd made of myself the night before. This part of me is very good at chiding after the fact, though no amount of squawking seems to help during whatever is going on...

What makes this different, from the usual? I have no scapegoat to blame it on. I suspect it's been this way for years, only I've always been able to pass the blame -- I'm depressed because of this or that, or because I'm stressed about this or that, or this person or that person or I'm incredibly busy at work, or generally unhappy or whatever. This time, however, life is good. Life is very good in fact. But the bottom line is, I'm not enjoying it. Even now, having come up from the depths of last week, the following manic cleaning and running about and anger, and the beginnings of slipping starting up again.

But the outside part of me says to just get up off my ass and do something. Or points out how many folks have it so much worse, and THEY at least have focus to complete any one task given to them. Or that when I'm older I'm going to hate myself for frittering time away during my youth, or... well, all those arguments.

And when I'm up I just find myself consuming things -- wanting, needing, etc. As if I'm trying to fill some void - jealous of the lives others are leading that I couldshouldoughtta be living in some way. It won't fill. I feel like some black hole that just keeps sucking everything up and not spitting anything back out again.

In comparison, right now, at this exact moment, I don't feel much of anything. I go through the motions, but nothing is real, I'm drained. I have no focus, no patience, no stamina. I'm constantly overwhelmed when I shouldn't be. I have loved ones that need me, and I find it difficult to be there for them. Friends that are going through loss and heartache and God knows what else, and I'm so wrapped up, stagnated, immobile that I can't respond. I've become socially awkward, shy, linguistically stale, and sloppy.

Normally I wouldn't write this, but I need to. What I need to do is solve the problem. Right now is a moment of clarity that I need to document -- so that I can come back to it. Right now where I can remember what it felt like to sit hunched over a keyboard playing mindless games for hours, or stare blankly at the wall, or wander room to room listing the things that need to be done and not starting. It's not right, and there's nothing environmental to blame it on this time.

Quitting my job, I think let to this. Not the quitting per se, but ridding myself of the most consistant distraction. To be honest, I thought this might happen but I hoped not. I thought this would give me some time to sort myself out. What it did was allow me to see that there really is something here, beyond my skill, that needs to be addressed.

And right now, while I'm not mired in it. I need to address it. I always thought of depression as a problem that other people had, and understood that they couldn't neccessarily help it. I always figured my problems were fleeting, or environmental, or even seasonal. I even figured that okay, that seasonal depression might be a problem for me. But, looking back over some old posts, some old journals kept years ago I see that this has been a trend for years and I've just been very good at rationalizing it, or holding it off, or blaming it away.

I never thought it would apply to me. But really I think it does. What it feels like is that I have no control over it -- like a lingering cold, after awhile, you forget what it feels like to breath without coughing, and then gradually, it gets better and you forget what it feels like to always be coughing. Intellectually you understand it, but cannot recall what it really feels like, only that it was unpleasant. Like I said before, I stand outside myself and watch, and can't do anything about it until it's passed.

Having been witness to the end of so many lives recently - I don't want to alternately fritter away what I have and spend the rest of it in vice. It's a life in thirds - down, up, and myself. I know I like myself when I'm here. I just need to find away to get me here and keep me here.

So I'm going to start researching solutions. Perhaps therapy is neccessary, I don't know. But from what I know, and what I feel, is that this is a disease or illness - if I had bad psoriasis, I would treat it, or pneumonia, or even acne. I think my mind deserves the same.

A Mouth Without a Belly

At what point does the snake gag
mouth-full of self and the shit of it's self?

I would eat the snake, I would stretch
my lips to spliting if
it would fill this hollow-ness.
I would relish in the flesh bulged
over the belt belly of satiation
when "more" becomes "enough".

Right now, snakeless, my crispy edges
curl in, are nibbled
by teeth that have methodically chewed
a peanut butter sandwich
and every platter shuttled
in by Life's liveried waitstaff.

Satisfaction, that elusive harpy
drops mouldy feathers at my feet.
They taste of loathing.
In moments of quiet starvation
I shall nibble my edges.