September 30, 2005

 name that toy

last night mary and i were reminiscing about toys from our childhood. it took me hours to remember the name of the thing over there at the right, with the canisters and ropes. it came to me just as i was falling asleep. (do you remember what it's called?)

we also both have very fond memories of the lemon twist... when she said those words we both jumped up and mimicked the jumping action.

currently i'm struggling to remember the name of a riding toy that we had as kids. you sit on a big platter between two big wheels, each with a little nub of a handle. you can move the wheels the same way and travel forward, or turn one wheel forward and one backward and turn in circles. it's similar to a big-wheel, but this thing gets power from your arms. anyone remember its name?

i wish this site were a little more organized... i feel like my answer may be there somewhere.

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September 29, 2005

 there's something happening here

i can't stop thinking about the man in the wheelchair.

or, more to the point, i can't stop thinking about our reaction to him.

it happened in the waiting room at my dermatologist's office yesterday morning. i love my dermatologist, but i find i always have to wait to see him, no matter what time of day my appointment is or the time i get there. i've arrived 15 minutes early, 15 minutes late, and i've even tried scheduling my appointment first thing in the morning, before they have the chance to get backed up. no matter what i do, though, i still end up waiting for at least 20 minutes. i've waited up to an hour before.

the only reason i bring this up is that all of the other patients experience this, too. the waiting room becomes really crowded as all of our appointment times stack up. consequently, there were a lot of people in this tiny room when the man in the wheelchair came in.

his chair was being pushed by a caretaker. he had some sort of severe palsy which kept him mostly immobile. his arms would gently spasm and he could move his head a little, but it was clear he could do little else. his eyes were deeply sunken and he couldn't speak. the caretaker parked his chair and walked over to the receptionist.

perhaps it was because she'd left his side. or maybe it was because he was left, exposed, in the middle of the room. it may have been some sort of cry for help, i don't know, but the sound he made was inhuman. the sound was like a croaking bullfrog in distress, a deep and raspy sound from the bottom of his throat. again and again and again. it was loud and impossible to miss. it went on for probably close to 3 or 4 minutes.

yet none of us looked at him. no one tried to make eye contact. no one said a word. we went on reading our golf digests as if nothing unusual was happening.

the caretaker didn't seem to be disturbed by the bullfrog noise. perhaps it was the only way the man could communicate. maybe she knew what it meant. i guess we were all assuming, hoping, she knew what it meant. but none of us looked at her, either; his handicap was just too much for us to process, and her proximity to it made us uncomfortable.

no one wanted to look at him. none of us wanted to imagine what life would be like with his disability. and i can't stop thinking about that.

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September 28, 2005

 it's the end of the world as we know it

the unthinkable just happened: i ran out of return address labels.

i don't really know what happened. i had TONS of 'freebies' that had piled up from the ASPCA and other charities... i never thought this day would come.

quite frankly, i'm not sure what to do. it's been eons since i've had to actually write my own return address on an envelope. i've been spoiled by the labels that magically appear in my mailbox, unsolicited (and yet containing solicitations), year after year. i had just assumed i would have a never-ending supply of colorful address stickers, with puppies and crayon drawings of kids and stuff.

maybe it's because i've never forked over any money in exchange for the labels... perhaps these charities finally lost their patience with me and have cut me off.

this is so harsh.

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September 27, 2005

 keep out


i just found this picture... it had been languishing in iphoto since july.

i don't know who jacob is, but his bed was in the room i was staying in at the beach. i didn't dare sleep in it myself. jacob could probably kick my ass.

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September 25, 2005


well, that was just about one of the best vacations i've ever had.

toronto is everything everyone tells you... hip, multicultural, fun, vibrant. it's got the vibe of new york city, the lakefront of chicago, and the tolerant people of... well, no american city i can think of.

i arrived wednesday afternoon and was met by my (step-) sister, jane, and her husband, dave. they drove me around the city a bit before we headed to their ultra-cute 3-story semi-detached house in the portugese neighborhood of town (just south of little italy and kensington market, for those who know a thing or two about geography). their house is like many, many others... 17 feet wide, and about 90 feet from front to back. skinny, long, and tall. they have an amazing garden in their tiny back yard, crammed full of every plant that space will allow. they also have a hot tub on the 3rd floor deck, just steps from the little guest suite they put me in. and a bathroom to die for -- they converted the smallest bedroom into a huge bathroom and decorated it so nicely you'd think you were pooping at the ritz.

anyway, wednesday night we drank and ate and laughed and caught up. it was a minor miracle that i didn't wake up with a hangover. jane and dave take mornings slowly, which is really the way i want my vacations to go, so we puttered around until about noon thursday before heading to the neighborhood park (phenomenally amazing, run by area volunteers who create things like adobe huts and pizza ovens), the neighborhood farmers' market, and the nearby mall for frozen yogurt.

that evening we had plans to meet my other (step-) sister, mindy, and her beau, charles (who live 20 minutes across town) for dinner and drinks. though it started to get overcast, we weren't too worried as the restaurant they had selected had covered a outdoor patio where we could still enjoy the lakefront view without getting piddled on. what we didn't count on was how chilly we would be, what with the rain and wind whipping off the water. we bundled up in blankets provided by the bar and foraged on, believing the alcohol would keep us warm.

friday was a huge sight-seeing day, as jane and dave (who, by the way, is still recovering from surgery on his achilles tendon - ow!) led me on a 5 or 6 mile walking tour of the area. we saw the cool bars in little italy that attract the movie stars, visited funky shops in kensington market (where we bought dried strawberries [total yum] from a little street vendor), walked through the university of toronto (where i marvelled over the neo-gothic architecture and held the CN tower in my palm), and stopped for vietnamese pho in chinatown. on the way back we had some cocktails at the dip, located at one of the top five hippest intersections in north america. (or so says some magazine published a few years ago.) when we stood to finish the last mile or so of our walk we all felt beat (we'd been trekking for probably close to 4 or 5 hours) so we hopped a streetcar home.

jane made some amazing food while i was there -- most remarkable was the tomato ginger sauce we had over shrimp and pasta that evening. no less yummy, though, were the "veggie stacks" she prepared our first night. (slices of eggplant, onion, cheese and tomato, all stacked up and baked in the oven for a half-hour or so.)

saturday was spent with mindy and charles, touring their side of town. we went for brunch at the beaches, and afterward did some window-shopping. we saw a store called "ends" (which was sort of like a funky, urban, store-front tj maxx or something) where i bought a pair of size 16 jeans that fit me like a glove. (woo!) we walked along the boardwalk where we spotted some lawn-bowling. we then moved on to the gourmet shops at the st. lawrence market, where i also bought a killer handmade necklace from a beautiful woman whose accent was as gorgeous as she was.

after the market we were off to a newly renovated area of town called "the distillery". it reminded me of brightleaf square in a way, but was far more upscale. we visited an art gallery there which was featuring an exhibition of glass works by the likes of dale chihuly. i was stunned at the fabulousness chihuly's exotic chandeliers. such amazing color and form. one of the many highlights of my trip.

we went back to min and charles' well-appointed house for steak on the grill (and lots of wine-in-tetra-paks), and had such a good time laughing and relaxing with everyone that i got teary thinking that i only had a half-day left with everyone. mindy and i did get blubbery as we left that evening, vowing to get together again soon. as jane and dave drove me back to their side of town i saw a church sign that summed it all up for me.

my step-sisters are one of the many blessings of my life. i feels so fortunate that they welcomed me as a full-fledged sibling from the start, more than 25 years ago. i can't wait to see them all again.

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September 20, 2005

 the amazing disappearing woman

did you know that davy rothbart is going to be at manbites dog theater on monday? i just bought a ticket.

also, i should note that i will be headed for toronto tomorrow. i'll be visiting my step-sisters (who i rarely see, but really like) and their families.

i plan on taking my laptop and my digital camera, but i also plan on not thinking about either of those things too much while i'm there. so you may get a post or two while i'm gone, and you may not.

in preparation for the trip, i checked the weather forecast and realized i'd need some long-sleeved shirts and long-legged pants. i went through my closet to make sure that the stuff i have still fits, but soon realized that i was going to have to go shopping. my shirt situation, in particular, was really bad... i think my upper half is where i've lost most of my weight so far. all of my blouses just hang on me like potato sacks.

so after work yesterday i did a mad, budget shopping spree at kohls, ross and target and found some cheap things that will tide me over for a few months. i didn't purchase a single item from the plus-size racks... all the clothes i bought only had one "X", and none of the sizes started with a "2".

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September 17, 2005

 randy newman


last night ray met randy newman. i pulled some strings and got our names on the "backstage list", so after the concert we joined about 8 others, and all corralled into a tiny room to wait to shake hands with a musical god.

i'm getting ahead of myself, though.

the show itself was perfect. he performed solo at the piano, of course, but also sang some songs with the north carolina symphony accompanying him. the big surprise of the evening were the movie suites (toy story, avalon, the natural) which randy conducted from the podium.

during the concert i snuck many peripheral peeks at ray. i have never seen a bigger smile on his face as long as i've known him.

we were stunned to realize afterward that the concert had been almost 2.5 hours long; i had no idea anyone puts on a show that long anymore. (and it is even more surprising in light of the fact that the musicians' union kicks its members into a higher pay scale when a performance tops 2 hours, which i'm sure the symphony's budget doesn't appreciate.) the orchestral arrangements were randy's, of course, and they were lush and beautiful. randy quipped and joked from the stage. everything was spectacular.

ray has been a huge fan of randy newman's for more than 15 years. he owns all of his records, and he says the music kept him sane while he was in the army. ray actually told this to randy as he was autographing his program. ("to ray, thanks for the kind words. all the best, randy newman.") of the 10 of us, ray's autograph was one of the first. we stuck around while randy chatted and signed more autographs, and i looked over at ray at one point, a bit disbelieving that we could just reach out and touch randy newman... he was right there.

the evening's conductor, william henry curry, passed through the room at one point and called randy a genius. (3.6 MB mov)

then they ushered randy away to a reception, and we exited the building. i walked, ray skipped and jumped for joy.

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September 16, 2005


i recently received a contribution from a divaville listener. it's the first one i'd ever gotten, despite the fact that there's been a paypal 'donate' button right on the website for over a year now.

it's no big deal; i was never hurt or crushed or pissed that i hadn't goten any contributions. i only put that button on the site on a whim, thinking that perhaps i could regain some of the investment i've put into the show. (in the 4+ years i've been doing it, i've probably spent over $1000 on divaville music.)

so, i got this donation recently and it was kind of large. uncomfortably large. i mean, i was thinking i might get donations in the $5 - $10 range. maybe a $15 donation with a note saying, "go buy yourself a new CD for the show." but this contribution was many times larger than what i'd ever expected. it freaked me out a little, and i asked people what i should do... keep it or send it back.

i only considered returning the check because i felt it was inappropriately large. but when the donor called me during last week's show and i told him that i was considering sending it back, he seemed a little freaked out. he admitted that he'd listened to divaville for years, had never done anything to support any of the public radio stations he listened to, and felt like he was finally making good.

so after some hand-wringing i finally decided to accept the money. and now that i've come to peace with that decision i've been browsing some music sites looking for great stuff to add to the divaville collection. i feel a little like a kid in a candy store right now. i just hope it doesn't rot my teeth.

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September 14, 2005

 purely hypothetical question:

let's say you were at work one day.

let's also say you were in the breakroom, making a pot of coffee.

perhaps you reach down to get a coffee filter, and while bending over you split your pants in two.

and if you worked in a big building that employs lots and lots of people --many of whom you don't know-- what would you do? what steps would you take to avoid certain embarrassment?

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September 13, 2005


i have been late in paying every single bill this month. i just consistently space out and forget the due date. i feel like there's a lot going on in my head lately, and it's all competing for equal attention.

there's a place near work that's called a "bed & biscuit". i have driven by it every day for 7 years and never understood the gist of that term, until one day a couple of weeks ago when they added a sign that says "doggy daycare and boarding."

i am seeing lily tomlin on thursday, and randy newman on friday. i'm considering buying a ticket to crooked fingers on sunday, too... even though i don't really know much about them. but i think i would like it.

while i look forward to fall shoe weather, i am already lamenting the fact that my pool, at some point, will have to be closed up for the season. i do still try to get in for a swim every night, at least for 30 minutes or so, but the water is already starting to feel pretty cold.

speaking of the pool, i got a new swimsuit yesterday. it's a tankini, and the bottom part is a swim skirt. this is a very flattering style, but it drips like hell when i get out of the pool. i feel like i have to stand around for about 10 minutes, squeezing all the water from the extra fabric, before i can go inside.

i cannot wait for the premiere of suvivor: guatemala on thursday.

CNN told me that the price of natural gas was going up 71% this winter. i need to figure out how to continue to exist; life is too expensive. (especially for people who have not had raises in 3 years.)

i'm cat-sitting for a friend who went to the beach this week. unfortunately, since ophelia is looming, she's had to evacuate from their oceanfront house and is now hunkered down in a hotel in wilmington. i think i might have just chosen to come home, were it me.

on the way home from seeing "the aristocrats" on sunday (and in-between telling jokes to ourselves), minty convinced me to join in marianne's mix CD project. after spending several hours last night agonizing over which tracks to include i think i'm almost to a point where i'm happy with it. it only includes one divaville-type song, though... i hope no one is disappointed by that.

by the way, when we saw "the aristocrats" i noticed that everyone in the theater laughed out loud a lot... except during the part that was mimed. i sensed that people weren't afraid to laugh at the obscenity while there was abundant audio to cover their laughter, but as soon as we were enveloped in silence everyone got self-conscious about laughing at raunchy sex jokes... i only heard a few nervous titters.

these are surprisingly good. i don't think i've ever been able to count chips as a protein before. yum yum.

oh shit, it's raining and my car windows are down.

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September 10, 2005

 i need another bear


for each 10 pounds i lose, i get a bear.

today i earned my third.

edited to add: this is the first thing i'm going to clothe my new, sexy body in. (kidding.)

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September 9, 2005

 "even has a clip-on ketchup cup!"

this may well be the most ridiculous thing ever invented.

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September 8, 2005

 totally irrational shoe purchase


a painful neck injury can't keep me away from the wide shoe warehouse. not me. nuh-uh, no way.

i only popped in for a minute. just to scope things out. i really wasn't planning on buying anything... i just happened to be in the neighborhood. really.

but these just called my name. loudly. they're a totally irrational purchase (i mean, they're essentially cowboy boots without the boots), but i love them regardless.

NOW i'm ready for autumn.

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September 7, 2005

 loco-pop injury

i hurt my neck the other day. a part-time massage therapist (who also works part-time at the station) felt me up and said that i'd pulled my levator scapula. that sounds so fancy, doesn't it?

the injury seems to have occured after i drove myself to loco-pops on sunday. my friends suzie and joel were in a car following me, and after i parked i was so excited to have them taste the gourmet popsicles that i leapt out of my car and did a little jig right there in the loco-pops parking lot. an hour or so after that my neck started to hurt.

i dealt with it (by bitching loudly) for a couple of days, but i finally broke down and got a prescription for skelaxin. i'm feeling a bit better now.

i find myself wanting more popsicles, but i'm scared to go get them; i never knew that place was so dangerous.

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September 3, 2005

 warning signs


these are the warning symbols that are printed on my pool.

i find them hilarious.

Posted by xta at 8:26 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

 raleigh farmers' market

these sweet potatoes were as big as your head.

i don't like raw tomatoes at all, but these just looked so pretty.

i visited the raleigh farmer's market this morning with susan and jesse. i love food-shopping with friends... you can really tell a lot about someone by how they shop for food. (and i learned that those two are GOOD, PATIENT PEOPLE.)

i myself bought 10 small coleus plants, something close to 18 pounds of peaches, 90 cents' worth of green beans (which probably amounts to two meals-worth), a vidalia onion, 3 bell peppers and a cantaloupe.

i think i spent maybe $25 for it all.

i do heart the farmers' market.

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 extra postage required


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September 2, 2005

 water, water everywhere

it feels frivolous to blog about anything other than new orleans, but there are only so many brain cells that i can devote to the tragedy down south. it's too overwhelming, and after watching 2 hours of CNN yesterday i just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.

i sent a donation to the red cross, and it was matched by my web host. i feel good about that. it would be great to actually go do something, but as i've heard repeatedly on the news it's money they need right now. until an effective means of getting in and out of the city can be established, there's really not a lot of sense in contemplating whether i'm doing enough.

that said, on divaville last night i played a large number of songs about new orleans and the gulf states in general. i prayed no one would think it was in bad taste, and in fact no one called to comment at all. for me, it was cathartic to hear all of those jubilant lyrics about the town. it allowed my brain to pause for a moment in its processing of grief.

after the show last night i just went home and collapsed on the couch. i didn't have the energy to get in the pool, making it the first time in 10 days that i haven't done so. when i woke up this morning i could tell my body missed the exercise. i didn't sleep as soundly, and i felt kind of like a blob.

i bought something called a solar blanket (which is supposed to help heat the water) and i installed it this morning. i'm eager to see how well it works, and hope that i can find the time and energy to get in the pool tonight.

really, it's all i want to do these days: blow off work, and hang out in the water all day.

which seems very wrong to say out loud, as "hanging out in the water" is the last thing millions of people in this country are wanting to do right now.

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