Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Miracle of Fossil Fuels

Enjoy the latest press release from Jackson Purchase Energy here. Of their 30,000 customers, 22,000 continue without electricity. I found this section of the release particularly alarming:

Those customers with service lines that have been pulled from their home will need to contact an electrician before JPEC can restore power. Customers should also check with their electrician as to what equipment will be needed from JPEC such as new meters, etc. A complete list of equipment needed from JPEC by your electrician will expedite service at JPEC. To further help getting customers and electricians meter bases and hubs, JPEC’s corporate office will be open from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. today and on Sunday.

I'll leave it to you to do the math on how easily any one of us without power can locate or secure the services of an electrician (or even make a phone call) at this time as well as imagine just how many of us have had power lines that have been "pulled from our home" considering the amount and magnitude of the branches that have fallen. So, yah, after our handy electrician shows up and we type up our neat little lists, I'd say conservatively maybe 10,000 of them, we'll just be getting our power back! Yay!

I've no doubt that the utility is overwhelmed, however, this doesn't seem the time, after many have endured 5 days without power in freezing temperatures, to start putting out chirpy little releases about "calling your electrician" and "making lists". This would seem the time to call in more reinforcements, FEMA, etc. to do what it takes. As difficult and as enormous as the task must seem, it is what it is.

I remain without power and made contact with my more rurally located relatives just last night. At that time, all but one was without electricity (and there are lots of them). Now today, one more cousin has had service restored.

The miraculous appearance of the kerosene heater provided by our generous neighbors yesterday brought into sharp focus the immediate need for kerosene. And thus began yesterday's odyssey.

First, an aside: I've amused myself by likening my situation to some of my favorite movies since this nightmare began, the first of which that sprang to mind was Gone With the Wind, since the destruction immediately after the storm reminded me of scenes of Sherman's march to the sea through the Atlanta countryside. Like Tara, my house is still here (It's still there!). Once the thrill of just having a roof over my head that ISN'T demolished (and some in my family are not so lucky) wore off, I began drawing immediate parallels to Dr. Zhivago and Yuri and Lara's winter in Siberia--remember? How Yuri would brush the snow off his tablet--indoors at his desk--so he could write his poems? Yah. I felt that cold.

Yesterday, however, I think I settled on what will turn out to be the true movie parallel--the old Mad Max movie series. If you're unfamiliar, it's a sci-fi trilogy of films about a post-apocalyptic world where rag tag bunches of survivors (including Mel Gibson) scour the desert-like country side in pieced together jalopies in search of but one thing: fuel.

Yesterday? I was Beyond Thunderdome.

Once I realized the crucial need for kerosene to maintain the cozy warmth my Mom and stepdad had only begun to enjoy, I soon realized there wasn't any to be had in Paducah, nor in the surrounding counties or cities. I was told by an authority that the closest such fuel was in Rosiclaire, IL or Paris, TN. I elected to go north and now realizing just how widespread the shortage was, immediately took to the interstate. My first stop, Marion, IL proved to be fruitless and I was told my best bet was Mt. Vernon (a customer in Marion told me there wasn't kerosene to be had south at all for at least 150 miles). I pressed on toward the kerosene Shamgri La a full 100 miles away from Paducah, enjoying a delightful conversation with my Grandmother on the way on my cell phone which immediately sprang to life once I cleared the disaster zone by about 20 miles or so. Grandma lives in the So. Illinois countryside and I was passing so close to her house that I had to call.

You may be wondering by now why we didn't just all load up and escape Paducah all together. It is certainly possible. What makes this difficult are the furry members of the family. Isabelle and Tallulah and Mom's dog, Dudley, are a bit difficult to just load in the car and go, though we've considered it, believe me. I can't imagine the heartbreak of the Katrina victims who were forced to choose to leave their pets behind. It's a choice I'm not sure I could make. My fur babies have never left my side since their adoptions, I am compelled to show them the same courtesy. It hasn't been a question, really.

In any case, I reached Mt. Vernon without incident but then embarked on a wild goose chase being directed to first one service station, then another, that didn't actually sell kerosene. Station number five was remote and lucky and when the answer was "yes" to my query about kerosene, I was almost disbelieving. Not being a mountain girl or having lived a second of my life off the grid, my next dilemma was, where is it? Looking at me like I was crazy, the attendant pointed to a tiny gas tank, identical to the others but much smaller. This, then, was the elusive kerosene dispenser. I had become so intent on locating the stuff, that I'd forgotten to stop and secure containers in which to transport it. I bought the two gallon gas cans they had on hand, filled them, then located a nearby Auto Zone and bought two five gallon containers and filled those. Thus loaded with twelve gallons of liquid gold (I began to refer to myself as "Sparky"), I headed to the nearest Kroger where I was amazed to find life continuing as per usual. I was overwhelmed by normalcy and choices, but managed to have the presence of mind to stock up on candles and instant coffee and food that doesn't require cooking.

It was eerie to return to Paducah after dark; the exits lit up like Christmas trees but the neighborhoods still silent and mostly shrouded in darkness. We're experiencing a warming trend, thank God, and this caused thick fog to rise from the devastated landscape of my neighborhood as I drove my precious cargo into the driveway. Because it's me, I had to shut off the car and stare into the ghostly fog and think for a moment of another movie: Beware the moors.
And then I unloaded my car.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ice Storm Disaster in Paducah, Day 4

[Update: Read the latest from Jackson Purchase here. Most customers remain without service and they estimate it will be mid next week before all service is restored. This has not been widely reported on the radio which is the primary source of information for those suffering the effects of the storm.]

I awoke this morning with only one clear thought in my head: My Mom and stepdad, who live next door, cannot take another single day of being this cold. Whatever it takes, I told myself, they must be warm before dark.

Thus motivated, I threw back the covers, woke the dogs, and began another morning of performing my ablutions in teeth-chattering cold. Fortunately, I am still experiencing what I've come to think of as Splendor in the Bath otherwise known as hot water. I showered in steam so thick I could barely see and was applying make-up and moisturizer at my kitchen table by the light of the actual sun, when my Mom came over with good news. Our neighbor, Mr. Coleman, was bringing them a kerosene heater. Before too long it was delivered and, as of my last phone call, they are feeling warmth in their house for the first time since Tuesday. I am giddy with relief. And indebted forever to the generous Mr. & Mrs. Coleman. A couple of menches, the both of them.

I have managed to lay my hands on some cash, which seems the only sure way of ensuring goods and services in this disaster area.

We still know nothing of when power might be restored. Our electric company, Jackson Purchase Electric, is not talking to the press. We are thus left with no clue of how long this will go on. At some point, one starts to think of just driving away from it all, but with so little information on which to base a decision, one continually wavers between escaping and riding it out. With each day that passes you think surely power will be restored, then when it isn't, you think, surely tomorrow, and on in an endless loop.

My cell phone began to show signs of life last night by receiving all the voice mail messages that had been left for me during the period of total disconnection. Today, I have managed to make a few cell phone calls on it, but am still unable to reach relatives in Carlisle County.

For reasons beyond my comprehension, headquarters of the "rescue" operation is located at the fire station in Reidland. FEMA is not here. Raise your hand if you're surprised.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Two Dog Nights

After my lighthearted post on Tuesday about how most area winter storms are exaggerated, but the one predicted for later that day juuuuust might be cause for concern, things began to get bad. Really bad.

In a move uncharacteristic of myself, I did take a few precautions before the onslaught. I placed a supply of diet coke in a cooler and located my flashlight. I have a store of candles and nearly a case of drinking water on hand, as well as batteries. My pantry is more than well stocked for just me and my dogs have plenty of food. I figured I was ready.

Freezing rain that fell for hours on Tuesday eventually left everything coated in at least an inch of ice. I, along with 90 percent of the area population lost electric power by the late afternoon. At time like these, one of Paducah’s greatest sources of beauty, its trees, morphs into its worst enemy. Heavy branches coated with ice, some gigantic and many stories off the ground, began to give way. And they did not let go quietly. Beginning Tuesday afternoon and then throughout the night, many of these overburdened drastically sagging branches gave way with mighty snaps that sounded like gunshots closely followed by the sound of something hugely dangerous crashing to earth. With these branches went many of our precious power lines. I am an AT&T cell phone user and, near as I can figure, the service was obliterated beginning late Tuesday afternoon.

I spent probably the scariest night of my life on Tuesday, huddled in my bed in the cold dark, snuggled up with both dogs for warmth. With ninety pounds of snoring canine and several layers of clothing, I was actually quite warm. It was impossible to sleep, however, with the cacophony of menacing sounds raging outside throughout the night. After each incredibly loud SNAP! and ensuing crash, I had to cringingly wonder, was THIS the tree that would come through the roof and possibly obliterate my house and/or me?

Thank the sweet Lord I am a reader. I read like a maniac by flashlight, first “The Wonder Spot” and then “The Brothers K”. I have the ability to almost completely absorb myself in the pages of a good novel and this talent has served me well over the last few days. Once the horrendous snap/crackle /crashing stopped for the most part, by Wednesday morning, I buried myself in these books in my cold, dark house. Unable to receive calls either in or out, I somehow still received (but could not respond to) some texts from a concerned friend that, as time passed, became more and more the only bright spot in a very dark situation.

Thankfully, my water supply and plumbing continued complete with (praise baby Jesus) HOT water. Thus, as I told everyone at the office when I arrived today, I am possibly the cleanest person in all of Paducah having warmed myself in glorious steaming splendor in a scalding hot scented bath every chance I got. Since I am a person who frequently bathes by candlelight, at those times in the bath, I could almost imagine it was a normal day and thus was temporarily almost completely relieved of the dark freezing burden of my situation.

By this morning, day three of powerlessness, I awoke knowing I had to get out of the house or go cold, dark, stark raving stir crazy. My cell phone had completely lost its charge and, with no chance of even a text message from the outside world, it was time to make a move.

I cannot tell you the feeling of relief that washed over me once I figured out how to raise my garage door sans electricity. My trusty Subaru roared to life blasting life giving heat from its vents and I was soon on the road feeling more alive than I have in quite some time. The devastation that met my eyes, however, was truly startling. I don’t think my photographs adequately convey the extent of the damage. Power lines sag or are completely on the ground absolutely everywhere. Trees bowed in half are a common sight and the ground is littered everywhere with fallen branches. At every open gas station, lines snaked for sometimes a mile in each direction, filled with people desperate to purchase generator fuel as well as to gas their tanks. The few open grocery stores were completely mobbed with people. It was like the apocalypse, I kid you not. I soon learned none of these establishments were taking anything but cash since the storm had knocked out all credit and debit card machines.

To be continued…

Paducah Ice Storm Photos

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Click for a larger version.

A post card from the pit of hell (Otherwise known as the Paducah Ice Storm)

Oh. My. God. Ya'll.

It is bad, so bad, here in Paducah. I am, at this moment, reveling in the light and warmth of a downtown office where they have power and EVERYTHING. This is in stark contrast to my house where there has been no electric power since 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. I finally managed to leave my house this morning for the first time since the disastrous weather struck. My cell phone is mostly useless since AT&T was apparently obliterated, so if you've been trying to call, know I'm largely unreachable--but still alive.

Crews from Alabama and Georgia are here assisting our overwhelmed power companies; I saw many unfamiliar power trucks out and about on the drive downtown and they were a welcome site indeed.

I will post photos of the devastation when I have more time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

French Toast!!!!! (for reals)

[UPDATE: See a video of Jim Cantore's report from Paducah]
[Monday night: Jim Cantore interviews Paducah's own Steve Smith]
The photo above (click for a larger version) I snapped just a few moments ago through the glass of my front storm door. It is, indeed, quite icy in these parts and the precipitation continues. Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel has set up camp in downtown Paducah which means, in case you're unaware, that we are well and truly f!cked weather-wise.

I've (knock wood) suffered no ill effects from the storm save for the loss of my DirecTV signal which, while irritating, will probably serve to make me more productive than I would have been otherwise in this situation. I continue to enjoy electricty, but if I lose my internet connection, well, that's when the real whining will start.

I haven't ventured too far outside, but the stuff on the ground looks more slushy than anything. I suspect the roads are passable at the moment, but if the temperature drops as predicted, we are going to have a mess on our hands, really and truly.

The Channel 6 Weather Sqwauckers have been in their element since yesterday chicken-littling "for real". As I'm fond of reporting, the local weather wonks are in the habit of exaggerating the slightest snowfall into rather more of a Weather Situation than is appropriate. This, in turn, causes the local population to dash to the store and frantically buy up all available bread, eggs, and milk. I concluded long ago that this can only mean they then drive home at top speed, dash into their kitchens, and begin preparing massive amounts of french toast. Meanwhile, school in the entire region is called off at the first sign of a snowflake of any kind so children everywhere can be present at their kitchen tables to begin the daunting task of eating up all the french toast. It really is exhausting.

The current situation, however, may be severe enough to actually justify french toast. I suppose it is good The Plan is in place for just such occasions.

As I wrote that last sentence, an ice-laden tree branch gave way with a crack that sounded rather like a gunshot.

Perhaps it's time I stopped my smart-assed blogging. And, oh I don't know, maybe go mix up a nice batch of, say, french toast?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

25 Things

I just got finished with a major work event (that went really well) and plan to leave on a weekend getaway in the morning. Even though I am tired beyond words, I just couldn't leave you guys without a post (I may not have wireless access where I'm going--O the humanity!).

I'm killing two birds with one stone by responding to a tag from someplace (not Facebook) from my friend Karen. It's a simple MeMe: write 25 random things about myself. If my 25 don't make any sense, don't look at me--as I don't know if I mentioned--I am extremely tired and may not be at my most coherent.

  1. I have one tattoo--a peace sign on the back of my right shoulder. It matches with two friends, same art, same place. We got them on a trip about ten years ago.
  2. I attended a Fat Elvis concert about 9 months before he died. They did, indeed, say, "Elvis has left the building."
  3. I have a random and deep-seated hatred of Angela Landsbury.
  4. When I was a kid, I read "Gone with the Wind" repeatedly. Sometimes I'd read the last page and then immediately flip back to the first page and start all over again.
  5. My favorite movie is "All that Jazz".
  6. I'm trying to transition from a wardrobe based mostly on black to a wardrobe based mostly on chocolate brown. It's not going very well.
  7. If a song comes on the radio that I know a loved one really likes but that I hate? I feel compelled to listen to it anyway out of respect.
  8. I don't think Oswald acted alone.
  9. I hated the Beatles until I was twenty-one years old and then realized they were genius; I think I was over-served the music growing up since me and the group arrived on US soil the same year.
  10. I've been watching competitive ice skating almost my whole life. I think Oxana Baiul is the greatest skater I've ever seen. Also, possibly the craziest.
  11. I was a really good jacks player.
  12. I continue to worry about Barak Obama. he eating right, he looks tired, will he be okay, etc.
  13. I hate clowns.
  14. Paducah is a relatively small town and at most every restaurant I have a dish that I order. I rarely deviate. They call me Rainman (time for Wapner).
  15. My hiking boots are my favorite shoes.
  16. Work is extremely important to me.
  17. I am really close friends with Satan's other ex-wife.
  18. The only thing that scares Satan, he said once, is the thought that I might write a book. That would, in some fashion, include him. I wouldn't put it passed me.
  19. Major turn-off: People that are rude to wait staff.
  20. I went to a fundamental Baptist school for the 4th through the 9th grade. I haven't been to church since. (This is kinda cheating since I've already blogged that but 25 things is a lot of things. And it's late.)
  21. This one time? I was at a bar and I was a smoker back then, and this guy was talking to my friend and I thought he was being rude to her. I was sitting at a table on a level higher than he was standing and he had his back to me. And so I started ashing my cigarette in his hair. Apparently, he had alot of product in his hair because it would flame up each time my ash hit it. Alarmingly so. It was highly gratifying to both my friend and I that his hair was totally flaming up every minute or so and he had no idea what was going on. I suppose I could have burnt him alive. But, then again, don't be a jackass, you know?
  22. Are we only on number 22? REALLY?
  23. Okay, OKAY, so I'm on Facebook.
  24. This Tony Montana quote: All I have in this world is my balls and my word and I don't break them for no one. Do you understand? is sort of my unnoffical motto. Even though I don't have balls.
  25. This blog? Has changed my life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Right On White!!!


White white white white whiiiiiite!!!

Yah. The fact that I couldn't even get here to GLOAT any sooner than 11:06 PM should give you some indication of just what a busy day I've had. Beyond that, I'm going to randomly take this as a very, VERY good omen of wonderful things to come for myself.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Apropos of Nothing

Someone asked me the other day if I had a dog named "Poop". This is an assumption that, while inaccurate, if you read this blog with any regularity, you can completely understand, right?

I was, at that moment, kinda sorry I'd already named Tallulah. I started to warm to the idea of A Dog Named Poop. It sounds at least as good as "Marley and Me", right? I pictured the world sniffling thru the movie version of "A Dog Named Poop": The heartfelt story of poor little Poop who, while her breath was really, really bad, was still super cute and endearing and sorely missed after she choked to death. On her own poop. sob! Oh Poop! We hardly knew ya!

Where was I?

Oh, hell, I don't know. I think my writing is going south, don't you?

For some reason I'm awash in a sea of doubt. I doubt my future. I doubt my past. I doubt what I just said. I've recently been doubting my fashion choices of all things (and ya'll know that's crazy, right? For starters, nobody gives a sh!t what I'm wearing, let's be honest.). I'm sure as hell doubting my blog posts. I just erased an endless post I wrote about my LBD because I doubted it was the least bit interesting (the post, not the LBD. Okay, now I'm doubting the LBD. See?). Really, the post was about doubting the zebra shrug I bought with an eye toward winterizing the dress. It all just seemed suddenly so...stuffed animal like. The dogs kept mistaking it for a new toy and running away with it held triumphantly between their teeth like...Look! Like it's MINE all MIIIINE! Yessss! Plus I couldn't shake the notion that I looked like Charlemagne's grandmother in the thing.

In better news, I lucked up on a hell of a deal on a Fossil purse at Elder Beerman today. It was marked down from $75 to $18.99. I purchased it with a gift certificate I received for Christmas (thanks generous one!). How lucky can a girl get? On the down side, it's awfully tiny. I tend to do much better with purses that are far more suitcase-like so I can thrust my arm in them up to my elbow and fish around, Mary Poppins style, for something obscure, say, a floor lamp, that I'll never find anyway. Here's the new bag:

Is it not delightful? Honestly, it was going to take quite an eye catching satchel to pry me away from The Sac I've been carrying for nearly three years. Up to now I have not changed purses for that long, so great is my love of The Sac's backpack purse. I'd link to it, but the original version has been discontinued in favor of the new one, much like the old (looks like they've added just the o-rings at the bottom). Not surprisingly, the thing has sold out everywhere, making me want to immediately drag out my old The Sac (that still looks nearly new) and reload it again.

In other news, a BFF and I made our first attempt at home made sushi last night. It was disastrous but fun. We were doomed to failure from the start largely because nobody in this backwoods town carries sushi rice. (But look no further for your smashed barbecue sandwich-- O the humanity!) Additionally, there was an incident involving prematurely chopped cucumber that I'd rather not go into.

We didn't fail for lack of trying, I can tell you. We spent better than an hour preparing the smallest rice per the instructions of Alton Brown . This means rinsing (endlessly), boiling, simmering, soaking, and then, yes, FANNING (and not stirring, James Bond) the rice. Oh, all right, I'll confess to blow drying the rice with my Conair on the "cool" setting. We got tired of fanning, okay? And ya'll know I'm all about a power tool.

Despite all this enthusiastic effort, rather brilliant improvisation, and wine consumption, we ended up with rice pudding rather than sushi rice. It was sorta the consistency of school paste.

This did not stop us from refilling our wine glasses and smearing the rice pudding on to our seaweed, adding our stuffings, and rolling it in our rolling mats. A skill remarkably like a skill that used to be handy in the 1980's. One of us was far better at it than the other. I'll leave it to you to guess which one.

Surprisingly, the rolls while far from presentable, were really pretty tasty. If you closed your eyes, they were actually fairly delicious, if a little hot. We got carried away with squirting wasabi out of the wasabi tooth paste tube--fun on the front-end/eye-bulging skull-blowing hot on the back end.

Rest assured: THIS IS NOT OVER. We haven't survived big hair, mood rings, motherhood, divorce, The Bay City Rollers and stirrup pants to be bested by some mushy rice. Oh, HELL NO. We plan to conquer the sushi challenge with or without Alton Brown.

The proper rice has been ordered. It's ON.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Obama Frock

Speculation about who and what Michelle Obama will wear to the inaugural ball has reached what can only be described as a fever pitch, in case you haven't noticed. Everyone from Brian Jennings to Vanity Fair to, of course, Vogue has something to say about it. Meanwhile, Barak's clothing choice barely rates a ripple on the radar screen of fashion.

Personally? I'm starting to feel sorry for the Michelle. I can't remember this must commotion about a dress since Princess Diana got married (and what a cluster-f!ck of a dress that was--ouch). It's been my experience that when expectations are this high, and the build-up this big, it's really, really hard to hit it out of the park.

If all that pressure isn't enough, Michelle is now considered by some the great hope of the US fashion industry. Probably a bit of a dramatization, but. Still.

Despite everything, I'm hopeful. Michelle is, after all, as I am fond of jealously reporting, nearly 6' tall (another similarity to Princess Di, come to think of it), each inch the better to favorably carry off just about anything (as long as it isn't too fussy [see again wedding gown: Princess Di.]). She has the ability to pull of a fabulous look.

Diane von Furstenberg is among those designers in the running and, while I love the D-Von, I don't see Michelle in a print wrap dress on the Big Night. Some are calling for a pill box hat which, while certainly a sentimental favorite, is just a little too obvious for my taste. Parallels to Camelot, while somewhat understandable, are best left to others to draw IMOP. Not to mention, I will personally die if she rolls out in a pill box hat (as some designers are actually suggesting).

But she could, I think, do the subtlest of shout-outs and go for a white gown.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my official prediction. I hesitate to admit it, but I think Michelle's dress will be white. Rest assured? If my prediction is right, you'll never hear the end of it. If not? We'll speak of it no more here.

In other Michelle-related news, you have to read this Op-Ed piece from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal. It seems many people these days suspect a connection between Oprah's recent sudden and oft-reported weight gain and Michelle Obama, of all things.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

As the Stomach Turns

[Note to reader: Refer to this post for the full back story on this situation.]

Oh, you guys. It goes on. Sometimes it's just plain embarrassing to live here.

The latest Letter to the Editor of the Paducah Sun was published in the Monday, January 12th issue:

Column about cohabitation uncharacteristic of Sun


I too am offended, along with many others, by the article in your newspaper about the “cohabiting for economy’s sake” promoting the actions of two of your staff. It’s apparent your editors have no understanding of the predominant morals of this community, but one thing I know you do understand and that is money. If you continue to publish such articles as this you will lose many subscriptions, mine included.

Your policies are probably not dictated by letters such as this, since it is only a letter to the editor. I would direct your attention to another publication that should establish your policies. It is called “The Holy Bible,” and you will not find such actions commended anywhere in its pages.

I do not know the young couple mentioned above so I cannot be disappointed in them, but I have known The Paducah Sun for many, many years, and I am sorely disappointed in you and the direction you have tried to take this readership. Shame on you.

Clint Horton

Now the Sun is accused of publishing a column about cohabitation by the conservative Mr. Horton of Benton. Mr. Horton directs our attention to THE HOLY BIBLE that he feels the Sun should use as a policy manual. Wow. I would think Sun employees would get really tired of offering goats as a sacrifice to The Lord as well giving up pork barbecue, but that's just me.

(I'm guessing gay marriage is out of the question?)

It's incredible that people like Clint Horton are still out there thinking that everyone should, for some reason, adhere to their moral code up to and including the local newspaper. As I said in my last post on the subject, I heartily support Mr. Horton's right to make his own moral choices and wish that he (and others like him) could extend the same courtesy to the rest of the world.

Beyond that, perhaps there is some value in the Sun making a decision about just what sort of paper it's going to be. Will it be a newspaper with turn-of-the-century values and a serious case of arrested development? Or a realistic publication of progress that reflects the world as it really is. Given that population decline continues (she said again) to plague the area and the shortage of young, educated professionals (exactly like Luthy and Shull) reflects that, is there really a choice other than progress?

The Sun published another installment by the couple in Sunday's paper. Hopefully, the series will continue. And the letters won't.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Photo Speak

Lisa Marie: Like, Oh My God, Mom, it’s the f!cking Pizza Pappy again!

Priscilla: Paparazzi, Lisa Marie, Paparazzi.

Lisa Marie: Yah, that too.

Priscilla: You know what to do!

Lisa Marie: But, MOOOOM! I’m not as good at passing for a wax statue as you are!

Priscilla: Just stare into the camera lenses and think about sucking their blood. Works every time.

Lisa Marie: Whatever, Mom. I’m just gonna do Pouty Elvis Lips ™.

Priscilla: Oh, all right dear. But whatever you do can you at least hold that Coach bag in front of your hips? That’s why we got it, remember?

Lisa Marie (Bitch.)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Question

In case you're one of the three people in the world who don't read Dooce, let me begin by explaining Dooce is a blog written by Heather Armstrong that is the most popular blog the world has ever known. Pretty much? If you read blogs at all, you have to read Dooce, it is the law. Not only is Heather Armstrong a wonderfully talented writer, she is pretty and she has a pretty husband and a pretty daughter and she will give birth, in a few months, to another pretty person. Heather has two dogs, Coco and Chuck, also pretty. Along with her writing skills, Heather is an awesome photographer. Heather's photographs are SO pretty. But perhaps the most amazing thing of all about Heather is that she and her family subsist largely, and as far as I know, for the most part on the proceeds generated by her very popular blog, a site that garners billions and billions of hits per day, Carl Sagan.

So, Heather is livin' the dream. She makes money by writing about her life. By writing about how she can't poop and how her husband wears crocks and the fact that she used to be a mormon and couldn't drink coffee and what, exactly, she barfed up due to morning sickness over the Christmas holidays.

But it isn't all fun and games for Heather. She suffers from chronic depression that requires medication she'll likely be on for life. When her daughter was six months old, Heather's regular depression combined with post-partum depression became bad enough to land her in an actual mental hospital for a time. The fact that she wrote about that experience in her blog is one of the single bravest acts I've ever witnessed on the internet and also the reason that I'm able to lift my skirt even to the extent that I do.

That's the thing about skirt lifting. In the end, we're all remarkably similar under there. And even when there's a bad problem under your skirt, often-times if you lift it up, you find that you know three people with a condition quite similar to yours...only worse or that they overcame or that they still struggle with or whatever.

Anyway, back to Heather, she's now written a book about her pre and post-partum experiences, "It Sucked and Then I Cried".

Along with all of her zillion internet activities, Heather also participates in something called "Momversations", a project that poses a kid-rearing related question to mommy bloggers, then films their answers and edits them together into a video they publish on a regular basis

And all of this windy, rambling and, as I read it over, completely unnecessary introduction (whew!) is to say that the latest "Momversation" question is one that has me completely flummoxed. And that question is:

Wife or Mother: Which is harder?

My first reaction was, wow, Mother, no question. But then? I thought about it again. And again. And I still don't know. And the more I think about it, the more I don't know. And I am not one who doesn't usually have an immediate opinion about pretty much everything. If you've done both and have an opinion, I'd love for you to comment. If I ever form a definite opinion I'll get back to you (and I know you'll be holding your breath). Meanwhile, you can see what Heather and friends had to say about it:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Chaseroo!

I can't believe how many years it has been since my son came into my life. That bitterly cold January 10th seems like only yesterday in so many ways.

I never fail to marvel at what a cataclysmic, literally, overnight transformation becoming a mother was for me. I was one person January 9th and someone else entirely January 10th. It was like a switch was flipped, my brain was re-booted, and my only-child-never-around-babies self was suddenly a diaper-changing infant-bouncing baby-talking mommy machine. Beyond that, I suddenly began taking an interest in politics, world issues, etc. Granted, I was very young. It's like I was drenched in a sudden downpour of maturity. If I hadn't had the experience for myself I wouldn't believe it possible.

Happy birthday, Chase! Thanks for reinventing me for the better.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Kentucky 101: Part Two

Better late than never on getting back to this post, eh?

So, yah, like I was saying, I could go on for a while about the peculiarities of the state I call home. Perhaps I have the ability because, while I consider Kentucky home, I was raised in Illinois for the first 15 years of my life, thus developing a certain Midwestern practicality that allows me to be more objective about the customs and practices (and history) of the state I call home.

I still haven't, for instance, become blase about the local custom of the smashed sandwich. Or, let me rephrase, the smashed barbecue sandwich.

Barbecue, of course, in and of itself, is a matter of great importance to us Kentuckians and is unique to our geographical area (it sometimes even varies from town to town, as I understand it). It is quite unlike, say, Texas barbecue or Kansas barbecue (don't even THINK of comparing, oh, hell no). I think it's safe to say (but posting this will still make me a little nervous) that, generally, the sauce is not cooked into the meat, but rather the sauce is provided in a squeezy bottle to be added to your sandwich just before eating (and it is always home made sauce). The meat itself is cooked endlessly on a grill over coals and maybe sometimes wood chips but not always on the wood chips part. Most importantly the meat is slow-cooked until it hardly resembles meat any more in consistency. The meat is then either shredded apart by hand or, alternatively, chopped to smithereens, further ensuring it very far removed indeed from its original form.

Now, when you get a sandwich at the Barbecue on the River, it generally isn't smashed. Apparently, nobody wants to haul a smasher down there. But when you go to a local barbecue place that specializes in barbecue? The "good" stuff? Yah, your sandwich will usually come to the table flat as a flitter. Just....BAM! Flat. Understand, these are not sandwiches that started out thick to begin with. We're talking about cooked-to-death and then shredded or chopped (usually) pork between two slices of Wonder Bread toast.

What I figure happens in the kitchen is that they dish up the barbecue on to the Wonder Bread, then wrap the sandwich in wax paper, toss it on the floor, boot-stomp it a couple of times or until it is a little thicker than a Kraft Single, load it on to a serving tray that is then picked up by your waitress, a friendly buxom girl in a pair of mom jeans and a tee-shirt with a pencil behind her ear (to whom you're probably distantly related if you care to go a few rounds of KY Bacon), who then carries it to your table, and proceeds to deal each sandwich order out to her customers sort of like a Vegas poker dealer. They do not mess up your order. Ever. Because your waitress has been delivering and dealing smashed sandwiches to tables for a good 10 years and figures on doing so for another 20 before it's over.

Now, if I'm at your table? And they deal me my smashed sandwich? I'm going to rant a while about, "What UP with the sandwich smashing?", etc. etc. Fellow Kentuckians present at the table for my ranting react by...not reacting at all. Because barbecue sandwiches ARE FLAT. The natives (or lovers of the food) do not feel the need to analyze or discuss it. They just want to (inexplicably) relish the stuff and dress it up carefully with just the right amount of home made squeezy sauce and then proceed to savor it. The waitress(es) respond(s) to my ranting exactly the same way. Deadpan.

I would link to the places that serve the "good" barbecue, fyi, but, naturally, these places don't have websites. (What was I thinking?) Nor do they advertise. Places like Lee's, Harned's, Starne's, just spontaneously sprung out of the ground at some point. They don't need the internet or marketing. In the case of Lee's, they don't even need regular hours. The Lee family just shows up and unlocks the doors whenever they take a notion to, and everybody is just damn grateful to have the opportunity to slavishly wait for their smashed sandwich.

And, holy crap, I can't believe I STILL have not managed to get to my Kentucky history point. I have one, I swear.

Maybe next time. Or...maybe I'm on to something more here?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Super Poop

It's time for a little dog update, I think. Here you see them pictured in their most natural state--sleeping. Or trying to. This they do, oh, about twenty hours a day. You can see the annoyance on their faces that Mommy is, once again, waving a flashing camera in their faces during one of their many nap times. FurGirl is cuddled up on the extra large dog bed she managed to guilt me into buying by pathetically folding her large self into Tallulah's tiny little bed.

Not much to report about FurGirl. She is her usual angelic self, causing no problems, making no waves.

Tallulah? Not so much. I think I've discussed here before Tallulah's tendency to fall upon her food as if it's been several months, rather than several hours, since her last feeding. I've found this "starving puppy" routine more and more worrisome as time has gone on. Finally, one day recently, I decided it might be time to up her portion size. I upped her 1/4 cup (she weighs a hefty 9 lbs) to 1/3 of a cup of food twice per day.


This adjustment had no impact whatsoever on Tallulah's ravenous ways.

I'm beginning to wonder if a half cup or whole cup at a sitting would make any difference. Or if even tossing her into the sack and letting her go at it would sate the dog. I have visions of her making like a goldfish, given unlimited access to food, and eating until her little body actually explodes.

While additional food has had no impact on Tallulah's satisfaction level, it has had an effect. On her poops. As in they have become freakishly large. Quite disproportionately large compared to the teensy increase in input. The first time it occurred, and I happened upon this HUGE poop in the hall, I mean it was half as long as the entire dog, I was all--Whoa, somebody got a treat I didn't know about!

And then it happened again. And again.

The upside? Is that the poop's enormous size is so intimidating that not even the food-obsessed poop-swilling Tallulah can envision eating it. The down side being, of course, that, yah, it's in the hallway. Still. Not every time, but way more often than it should be. In fact, it's been suggested that the dog. Well. Needs a spanking. You know, the whole rolled-up newspaper treatment.

And, people, you know for sure you're bad when your own grandmother pronounces you in need of an ass-whipping.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Drinking, soaking, and drinking. (Enter at your own risk.)

I don’t know what it was about this holiday season, but it seems to have gone on FOREVER.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks so because I’ve had the conversation with more than one person and all three of us agree: THIS HOLIDAY SEASON WENT ON FOREVER. Praise God it’s over.

My usual strategy of throwing money at Christmas until it goes away wasn’t possible this year due to my precarious financial state and my advanced age makes drinking away the season, while still possible, rather more painful than it used to be (the next day). Especially when
it goes on for this long.

I have to admit a small triumph in that I still pulled off my usual champagne Christmas brunch by stretching two bottles of champagne to great lengths. I made a strawberry punch as opposed to my usual Mimosas. By mixing two liters of ginger ale, pureed frozen strawberries, and a frozen OJ and maraschino cherry floater thing in a (borrowed-yay!) punch bowl, the festivities proved to be merry as ever without corks popping on the half-hour. This slowed the rate at which holiday money flies out my ass considerably and, best of all, painlessly. Champagne punch, it turns out, is even more festive than mimosas. I’m guessing this is due to the increased fizziness caused by the ginger ale and the very strawberry whang the pureed fruit contributes.

Speaking of liquor (because I’m apparently unable to stop)…

I need to update you on the situation with Sam Shepard which may or may not have been brought to my attention while I wasn't hanging out at Facebook. Poor Sam, it seems, had a few too many at a bar in Bloomington, Illinois (my former hometown) while en route to to my very own Bluegrass state. Having Sam Shepard following me around sounded like a really good idea because, hey...

Va-Va-Voom, eh?

Then I was treated to Sam's mug shot.

Yah. Ouch.

I think there might just be a lesson buried somewhere in this post.

I'll leave it to you to sort out just what it might be.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

In Support of Love

[Image swiped from iList Paducah.]

[Edited to add: More support to be found here.]

Okay, sorry, can't shut-up about it any more.

Locally, the latest ridiculousness to come to my attention is a situation involving two Paducah Sun employees, a couple of fresh-faced reporters who became engaged when Adam Shull (entertainment writer) proposed to Dusty Luthy (sportswriter) at the top of the St. Louis Arch last summer. Not surprisingly, the proposal got coverage in the Paducah Sun, the newspaper for which they write as well as at iList Paducah. Yes, just two crazy kids in love!

The pair have since continued to document their journey toward matrimonial bliss in the newspaper, with a series occasionally updating the readership on their progress. They've recently combined households in preparation for The Big Day scheduled for some time this summer.

This is especially good news for the community since it is well documented that the population of Paducah in general dwindles, and local government constantly searches for ways to attract and retain young people in and to our little berg. In fact, population decline is such a problem that the Mayor has spearheaded the "Twenty-Thirty Group", an organization with a mission to connect the younger set and develop ways to increase their numbers here.

So, behold, here are two young people who have actually bucked the trend and relocated to Paducah from other states (Missouri and North Carolina). Kids who have not only come here seeking a career, but have had the good fortune to have fallen in love on our soil. Presumably, the two could start a family here, thus in their own small but important way, make a contribution toward reversing the trend of population decline and brain-drain that continually saps our community of vitality and the possibility of renewal.

How happy are we about this?!

Well, I'll tell you how happy we are.

We're so happy that Paducah Sun readership has begun to write Letters to the Editor of the newspaper that employs Shull and Luthy complaining of the immorality of their premarital cohabitation.

Yes, friends, welcome to the backwoods! Let's see, two people in love about to marry living together and sharing the joy? I know! Let's place them in stocks in Dolly McNutt Plaza! Or, alternatively, we could toss them into the river at the foot of Broadway and see if they float? Of course, if they do float, they are obviously immoral sinners in need of further punishment and, if they DON'T float, well, bless them. They are all right after all. Cotton Mather would be proud.

Not surprisingly, the updates from Shull and Luthy have not appeared in the Paducah Sun for some time. I'm hopeful that this is unrelated to the negative feedback they have received (save for one lone letter of support), but can't help but think the situation has played a role in their increasingly long silence.

The whole incident causes me to think through this situation to others. If this community is not ready to accept even simple cohabitation, what other intolerance lurks?

The mind boggles.

Mind you, I'm not suggesting the naysayers don't have a right to their opinion and their own morality choices. Please, by all means, don't pre-maritally cohabitate if you don't feel it's okay. But, for heavens sake, stop trying to legislate everyone else's life and robbing the joy from these two young people in particular. Please, naysayers, in the immortal words of my erstwhile (live-in *gasp*) boyfriend of yore, Bob: Get a life; they sell them at Walmart.

To Adam Shull and Dusty Luthy, I would say, in the immortal words of John Wayne: Don't let the bastards get you down.

Write on kids, write on.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Recent Deliveries

Pictured here is Tallulah strapped into her brand-new very own car seat for the first time ever. It's an Outward Hound booster seat that I initially discovered at Petsmart but would ultimately purchase online from Petco because of a full twenty dollar price differential.

I find myself more and more taking Tallulah along on outings. She's very easy to manage in strange settings--tends to just sit in my lap, lapdog that she is. She's not much trouble in the car except that her preferred riding spot is wedged between the back of my shoulders and the seat, her chin resting on my right shoulder, her body curled around my neck, butt and back legs on my left shoulder. Okay for short jaunts, but ultimately a little awkward, not to mention dangerous should an accident occur. The new seat has a strap that attaches to a three point harness and will prevent Tallulah from turning into a furry missile in the event of a mishap as well as jumping out of the seat in general.

My enthusiasm for Wishful Drinking was premature, as it turns out. The book arrived the same day as the booster seat. It's a slender volume that is, basically, a transcription of what I imagine is Fisher's stage show. There are a few yuks, but personally, I expect a little more from my hardbacks. And Carrie Fisher.