Thursday, October 30, 2008



She's a teeny-weeny tortoiseshell kitty that our upstairs neighbor, cat rescuer extraordinaire Marygrace, saved from the alley. She's a mere four and a half pounds, so we thought she might be about four months old or so, but the vet said that judging from her teeth, she's more like seven or eight months old. Which means we're taking her in to be spayed next weekend.

Right now, though, we're doing our best to socialize her. This is our third night with her, and she's coming around (although she won't come out of the back bathroom, where we've assembled a veritable kitty palace: litter pan, food, toys, carrier for a hidey-hole, scratching post, her blanky), but the first night she was simply terrified.

She hid in her blanket and looked out upon her strange new world with those saucer eyes of hers... we didn't even know at that point whether she was male or female (we now know that almost all torties are female), but we had decided a while ago that we'd name our next kitty "Mifune" for Toshiro Mifune, one my crushes, even though he is long dead. Since "Mifune" is a surname, it works for our little gal, even though she is about as far from a samurai at this point as you can get!

We really had not planned to adopt another kitty for a while. We're still mourning Shelly, and I was looking forward to having tinsel on the Christmas tree this year... but who could refuse such a little sweetheart? I mean, look at those eyes!

When Shelly died, my old grad school flatmate and erstwhile bandmate Gael posted "She's gone back to her home planet to 'report in' on her anthropological observations, I'm certain. But they'll send another soon -- they always do!" And look! They did!

I think she's still a little shaken up from the journey, though!

Now that you've met our latest addition, I promise I'll have fall foliage pics next post!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fall Foliage and More

A couple of weeks ago Jeff and I took a brief road trip down to Waynesboro, VA to visit my mom and our pals there and to take in the glorious local Fall Foliage Festival. If you've been following this blog for more than a year, you know this is an annual pilgrimage for me, but Jeff hadn't been down to Virginia for this weekend for eleven years. It just never worked out, vacation-wise, for him. But this year--yea!

We started the festival off at the pancake breakfast, served in the social hall of Main Street Methodist Church. What memories that room has, as it was the venue for many a Junior Girls Choir practice. That's where I met Barb and Susan (aka, Chibby), who were to become my fast friends through the vicissitudes of junior high school, and beyond. And this year the pancake breakfast proved to be a reunion of sorts, with Susan and Laura--a fellow former Young Fool, now a psychologist--providing some of the entertainment.

That's Laura on the left, Susan on the right. They sang folky duets, including an old Girl Scout camp fave, "Walk, Shepherdess, Walk." I'd forgotten the song completely until they began singing it, and every word came back.

Barb met us there, and Susan's mom joined our merry band as well--we were the fun table.

That's my mom, of course, mugging for the camera.

After the breakfast, we headed down Main Street hill to the legendary art show.

There, at the fabulous Ed Brownlee booth, we met up with Beth and Cortney to check out the ceramics.

And check them out, we did:

Barb found a couple of kindred spirits and spirited them home with her.

Jeff and I each bought our own ceramic jar. Mine has insane bunnies on it, as you can see:

And Jeff's has a sad ghost.

It didn't take long for us to walk off our pancakes and sausage among the many booths of photography, ceramics, pottery, watercolors, glassware... and I really should have taken a picture of the guitar-playin' dude in the purple suit. He had flowing curly blond locks that he threw back in ecstasy as he strummed, his long teeth bared in the rictus of what can only be called orgasmic pleasure. Or pride. Or pain? But anyway, before we knew it, we were lining up for some fried rice.

Alas, we did not partake of the sacred funnel cake at this festival, but it was available had we wanted to. As always, Barb, this snap's for you:

Notice the shorts on the dame in the picture above? Everyone was dressed for summer. It was well into the 70s--maybe even 80 degrees. As I noted last year, that seemed way too warm for early October in the Shenandoah Valley. In fact, I have a picture of myself about 20 years ago at the FFF, and I'm wearing a sweatshirt, jeans, and a thick corduroy jacket. And a hat! Times have changed, or at least, the climate has. Everyone was in shirtsleeves, including Beth, who also seems to have a spindle sticking out of her cranium.

In reality, it is the steeple of the aforementioned Main Street Methodist Church.

There were other, more troubling changes to the Big W... for example, I found this sign to be rather disconcerting for a returning ex-pat:


Well, the bulk of the fall foliage pictures (and there ARE more than the mere teaser at the top of this post) will have to wait for the next entry.

Time to get some shut-eye. I'll have more tomorrow or the next day...

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Catching Up

Okay, okay. I've been lax. I've been lazy.

I have pictures to post from our trip to Virginia at the beginning of the month, including some lovely shots of the fall foliage snapped along the highway in West Virginia on our way back to Illinois--I'll be doing that sometime in the coming week.

For now, rest assured that Jeff and I are fine, although I am having a whole series of "baggage" dreams--that has to be what they are about, because in them I've been saddled with all kinds of weird stuff to carry around, most notably a small but very squirmy and strong porpoise wrapped in a blanket (I carried this around the dream tucked under my left arm) and a normal sized cello in an enormous double-bass hard-shell case (this was my responsibility throughout a camping trip that shifted venues from the backwoods to a city sidewalk to a stripmall parking lot).

Now, I KNOW I carry around my share of baggage... after all, few folks get to my age without acquiring at least a carry-on or two. I just wish I knew what baggage, specifically, my subconscious is telling me to jettison. I'd like to jettison some averdupois... Perhaps another round of therapy is in order? Or maybe Weight Watchers? Heh.

Stay tuned for the pretty pictures!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Harry Fassl

Today is a sad, sad day. Jeff and I just found out that our pal Harry--he of the gruff voice and heart of gold and impeccable taste in wine and indisputable genius for creepy photography--passed away on Sunday. According to his sweetheart Diana, he fell ill last week with a flu-like illness that was making the rounds, but it set his health into a tailspin and, early Sunday morning, it claimed his life.

My heart is heavy for us and for all the folks who were fortunate enough to call him friend. My heart is breaking for Diana, who loved him and faced life together with him for at least the last quarter century.

Namaste, Harry.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Our New Fridge!

Well, we finally bit the bullet and shelled out for a nice new (and BIG) fridge. Isn't it pretty?

Our old fridge had been making scary pings and knocking noises for quite a while, and we managed to sock away enough that we could pay cash for it (important in these days of crunchy credit), so we trundled off to Abt after work a couple of weeks ago (as the stock market was tanking, as a matter of fact) to see what we could find. We lucked into this floor model for many hundreds off list price. It has a lot more features than we were looking for!

This filtered water dispenser, for example. When we had the kitchen remodeled four years ago, we kept the old range and fridge to save some money. And, though the contractor wanted to include a water hookup for a fridge, we declined that too, to save money. But this fridge had the water in the door and an ice maker in the freezer, and it was cheaper than any model we liked without those features (and, since our space required a counter-depth, which for some reason is much more expensive than the huger standard models, all our options were pricey), so we opted to have the delivery guys install the water line too... And that was almost a disaster.

At first it appeared as if they wouldn't be able to do it, because there wasn't a way to get into the water wall without taking out a chunk of drywall. Then--Whew!--I thought to look behind the washer, which is located right behind the wall where the fridge stands. Voila! an access panel into the water wall. Yea! Filtered water, right in the door! And a whole array of buttons to tell you exactly what the temp of the fridge and freezer are. And a bunch of other stuff I haven't figured out yet.

As you can see, it has lots of room, and the shelves slide out so shorty me can reach it all.

We opted for the freezer on the bottom because I would rather haul the Thanksgiving turkey or some other heavy hunk of frozen stuff up and out of a drawer than run the risk of pulling it out from a space over my head. Although my back may not much care about the difference.

So, now (barring any major appliance malfunction) the kitchen is done and thoroughly updated. Now on to the rest of our old condo.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fall Is upon Us...'Tis Time to Rummage!!

Yes! This past week, I took a day off so that my fellow treasure hunter Laurie and I could make our biannual pilgrimage up to Winnetka for the big rummage sale. The fall rummage mecca is Christ Church, and its sale is always a doozie. So... let's get right to the spoils:

First, the shiny things:

The box is an old tin candy box with a hinged lid. I love the detail--it would have been way cooler if the flowers could have been some kind of paisley-esque motif, but hey, you can't have everything. The crocheted thing with the paillettes is a tote bag from Von Maur... it still had the tag on it. It's probably the least practical thing I got at the sale, but I cannot pass up paillettes. Nosiree! I didn't get the moniker "Magpie" for nothing!

Of course, the rummage has become a pretty reliable place to find cool table linens, and this year was no exception.

The small vintage tablecloth was a steal at $4.00, while even the large cloth (which will grace our Thanksgiving table this year) was a tad steep at $7.00... but it is pristine. The napkins are the coolest green paisley. I don't have anything to go with them... yet. But they are lovely and in such good shape. And at $2.50 the lot, who could resist?

Then there were the books...

I was much more disciplined this year than in years past, but to tell you the truth, we arrived a tad later than usual this year, and we had to park about a mile from the sale. Knowing you have to schlep your purchases offers a little incentive to rein in impulse buying. (Okay, okay... the damned spangled tote bag was an impulse purchase. But it weighs ounces, I tell you! Ounces!)

One book I couldn't resist, though, was this small journal:

Now, I already have more journals than I'll probably fill for the rest of my life (or, at least, until civilization implodes and we no longer have access to the Web and blogs and stuff), but I couldn't resist this one. And why? Well, I know you can't read it, but just take a gander:

It was inscribed! And very sweetly, from Gina to Brian, with hopes that he will record his travels, thoughts, and adventures. On the first page of the journal, Gina has copied out and slightly adapted the first sonnet in Christina Rossetti's "Monna Innominata: A Sonnet of Sonnets." It is dated May, '94. What a lovely gift! But, alas, one that doesn't appear to have been appreciated:

All the rest of the pages are untouched. It certainly appears this journal was a gift to a departing lover, but did Gina know that Brian would never come back to her? Given the way she adapted the sonnet, it could well be a parting gift, with the hope (probably vain) that Brian might reconsider. At any rate, I felt so sorry for this little book (there I go, anthropomorphizing again!) that I had to purchase it. Fifty cents is not too high a price to pay for this artifact--and who knows? Maybe it will inspire a story, or more.

Of course, the sale yielded the usual big man's shirt (only one, this time) and a couple of pairs of designer shoes in never-worn condition...

You know, Laurie and I were talking about all the shoes we've picked up at the rummage over the years, and how even if you figure that the shoes averaged about $3.00 a pair (this year, the going rate was $6.00, which we thought a bit steep, but these ARE Italian and never worn), the sum of all our purchases would not equal the original price of one pair of them. Ah, rummage, sweet rummage!

But, the piece de resistance, the BIG find, was this never-before-worn winter coat:

Only 40 smackeroos! Now, that's kind of pricey for the rummage, but, as I said, this coat has never been worn. And, as luck would have it, I have been pricing winter coats of late, as my trusty overcoat--which I bought in 2001 when my pals Barb and Beth came to visit--is getting a tad threadbare. That now-old coat cost at least a C-note more than this coat, BUT now that even mid-priced wool coats were going for $400+ at Carson's last weekend, I would say that 40 bucks is a really good deal. I'm happy. Can you tell?

Next up, in a day or two, I'll present our newest appliance. Oooohhhhh.....

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