The Hellhole

Sunday, March 13, 2016

I dreamed that I went to IKEA with Val Kilmer, and he wanted us to watch this cooking demonstration.  I wasn't interested (it involved asparagus) so I wandered off through the store.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that IKEA had placed waitresses in strategic locations who were giving out free Cosmopolitans.  I had a couple and was enjoying one as I looked at a display of water features.  [Does IKEA sell water features?  I've never been to IKEA.]  At that point Val caught up to me and said we had to get our stuff and go.  This made me very angry and I kept yelling that I didn't want any cheap, ugly, Dutch furniture.  I threw such a tantrum that Val had to summon Alan to remove me from the premises.

When I related this to Alan, he looked thoughtful and mused, "Hmmm...I could see that happening."

"I don't know what her problem is.  I mostly dream about bacon, and hot little bitches.  I would like to go to that IKEA place, though.  They'd have lots of stuff to widdle on.  I enjoy widdling on things."

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Commander Vimes is a devious little schemer.  There are three doggy baskets in Alan's study, but over the years no one has claimed possession of any one in particular.  All three dogs lounge in each of the baskets, switching around depending on their little doggy whim.

Sometimes, however, it appears that Vimes wants a certain basket which is already occupied.  When this happens, he will go somewhere else - the couch, the dog pillow in the bedroom across the hall, the bed itself, and wait a while.  When all is peaceful and quiet, Vimes will leap up, barking furiously, and charge to the front of the house.  This action causes the other two to follow suit.  Then, while Mister Fusspot and Esme are up front, barking away and searching for whatever it is that needs barking at, Vimes will trot back to the study and settle into the recently vacated basket that he coveted, turn around three times, and flop down with a smug, complacent sigh.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Some random thoughts:

Remember stirrup pants?  I'm not going to comment on them as a fashion trend, but I wish they made stirrup pants for pajamas.  Whenever it gets bitingly cold enough for me to switch to pajamas from a nightshirt, I regret it in minutes because the legs of the pajamas get bunched up around my upper thighs like flannel Michelins.

Why do I never have any clean black socks?  It doesn't matter how many pairs I buy, or how often we do laundry - when I go looking for clean black socks I can never find any.  This has gone way beyond the dryer eating one of each sock pair; there is a sock-troll in my house and he likes only licorice.

On the subject of my footwear, I have this one pair of boots that makes my feet smell, but they don't smell like nasty, stinky feet - they smell like cake frosting.  When I take off those boots at the end of a long day, a definite scent of sweet cake frosting wafts through the air.  On the one hand, I'm glad that I don't have horribly noisome feet, but on the other, I find it rather disconcerting.

Listening to the classic rock station, I have decided that this song lyric from Thin Lizzy gets on my nerves:  "Tonight there's gonna be a jailbreak, somewhere in this town."  I'm willing to bet rather a lot that if there's a jailbreak, it's not gonna be somewhere, it's gonna be at the jail.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Last week was fun.  Alan's favorite band, Wilco, played Wednesday and Thursday nights at The Tabernacle.  Rather than fighting traffic, wrangling for parking and coming in to work exhausted, we decided to get a room at a nice hotel nearby and take Thursday and Friday off work.  I booked a nice room at the Westin Peachtree Plaza and we were able to stroll back and forth for the shows.  Wednesday night was so very cold, though! - walked a block and a half wearing a turtleneck, a Patagonia fleece, a Patagonia jacket and still thought I was going to freeze.

The concerts were great.  Wilco always puts on a good live performance; both nights they played for a little over two hours. There was some commonality in the set lists, but enough differences that we were very glad we went to both shows.  Between the two, they did most of my favorites and some 'from the vaults' that pleased Alan.

At the first show, we located our seats only to find one of them occupied by a fat bald guy.  Alan tried, nicely, to explain that he was in our seats but the guy kept arguing with him, saying that the show was General Admission except for the VIP section.  He wouldn't back down even after Alan showed him our tickets, which would hardly have had row, section and seat numbers printed on them if they were general admission, but he was insistent.  Finally, I summoned an usher and Fat Bald Guy even wanted to argue with him, snapping, "Since when?!?" (in the same tone and cadence an 8-year-old uses for 'Oh YEAH?!?") when he was told that these sections were reserved seating.  After a bit more back-and-forth, the usher was able to make him understand and Fat Bald Guy stomped off angrily to stand downstairs in the throng.  No one threatened the sanctity of our seats on night two, happily.

We also ate a nice lunch at the Sundial, the restaurant at the top of the hotel.  It rotates so you get a full view of every direction of the Atlanta skyline.  Alan had never dined there before and, in addition to the great food, he very much enjoyed the views.  We also had brunch buffet on our last morning at the hotel - fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, sausage, herbed smoked salmon, cured meats and sliced cheeses - drool!  I'm ready to go back.  That little break was most welcome.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!  Hope you're spending it with people you love.  I got a bouquet of puppies!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

I recently finished reading So Anyway, a memoir by John Cleese.  I'm not sure I'd give it a hearty recommendation, even for a die-hard Python fan like me.  It is amusing, as you'd expect, and in some cases truly laugh-out-loud funny.  On the other hand, some parts just drag on and on.  It turns out that it took Cleese three years to read his law degree at Cambridge, and I was beginning to think it would take at least that long for me to slog through his narrative of it.

I loved the way he described his father's propensity for buying "'surprisingly inexpensive' stylish Yugoslavian sports jackets, or top-class Libyan shoes, or premier quality Albanian ham".  'Albanian ham' made me laugh so much every time I'd think about it; I mean, it's funny, but some things strike me as way out of proportion funny, and this was one.  I was chuckling about Albanian ham for days and trying to talk Alan into inquiring about it at the deli counter when we made our next grocery run.

Another LOL moment was a story about Graham Chapman.  John and his then-wife Connie were expecting a couple for dinner who were basically stuffed shirts, "formal and stuck-up", and that sort of thing irritated Graham.  The Cleeses realized about ten minutes before their guests arrived that Graham had been all over their flat hiding very small pieces of paper, upon each of which he'd written an obscenity.  They scrambled to find and dispose of all of them, but discovered after their guests had departed that they'd missed one; Graham had placed one upon which he'd written "anus" on the basin in the visitors' bathroom.  Cleese concludes, "I've always wondered whether our guests speculated why we might have put it there."

So a few nights ago I had a major crying jag.  After I finished, I went to the bathroom to have a hot bubble bath and try to do something about my very puffy eyes.  I have this plastic bin that I bought at Target in which I keep facial cleanser, toner, masques, unguents and various skin-care items, so I got that off the shelf.  Starting to rummage through it, I discovered that Alan had left me a small strip of paper with "anus" written on it.  It had been hidden there for some days, waiting for me to find it.

It just goes to show you how funny and unpredictable life can be, that I can now add, "Thank you for the anus!" to phrases I never expected to say to my husband.  But he was sincerely owed a thank you, because I really needed that laugh.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Alan and I recently visited the High Museum of Art - getting ourselves a little culture besides what's growing in our yogurt.  I wanted to see a visiting exhibit called "Hapsburg Splendor" about the Austrian dynasty.  Many of the items had never been outside Austria before so it was quite a treat.

So many lovely objects!  Some of them were so beautiful and intricately detailed that it was hard to believe they were real, much less made by hand in the 15- and 1600s - it almost seemed like it had to be CGI.  But they were real, and amazing.  Here are some pictures, worth, as you know, a thousand words each, which will save us all a great deal of time.

 This is a little prince's jousting armor.  His brother's jousting armor was set up just out of frame to the right - you can see the tip of his lance.

This is the sight that greeted us when the elevator doors opened into the exhibit.

Sorry about all the reflection from the glass case.  That's a coral-trimmed sword and matching scabbard from the late 1500s.

Drinking goblet carved from rhinoceros horn.

Alan photobombs my carriage photo.

Carriage without Alan.  This isn't even the royal Royal Carriage; this one belonged to the little jousting princes.

The royal sleigh - ostrich plumes on the horse's headdress.

One of the coolest things we saw, as far as I am concerned, was an early 1900s portrait of the queen arriving at some posh occasion (I think someone's coronation but I could be mistaken) with her little princeling.  In a glass case right beside it was the outfit the little prince was wearing in the painting, right down to his tiny ermine-trimmed boots.

The funniest thing that happened was while we were examining this piece.  You can't tell from this photo but the suit of armor was incredibly detailed, with royal symbols such as the eagle, Madonna and child and other things engraved on it, and lots of fancy trim.

So if you read the description you will see that the armor belonged to Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol (1529 - 1595).  While we were admiring it, this elderly lady toddled up and was reading over my shoulder.  Suddenly, she announced loudly, in that querulous yet authoritative old-people tone that carries for miles, "It was his assassination that started World War One!"

Alan and I kept our 'BWAHAHAHA's contained until we'd ducked around the corner into another room.  But then I set us both off again when I remarked, "Well, if it did, that was the lord god king of slow burns!"

We had a wonderful day at the museum - ducked through some sculptures, the old Italian masters (my favorite) and the Mattie Lou O'Kelley exhibit (Alan really likes her), enjoyed a tasty lunch at the bistro there and oh! the Hapsburg exhibit was incredible.  I'm so glad we had that opportunity.

And remember, in case it comes up on Jeopardy!, it was Ferdinand II of Tyrol whose assassination started WWI.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lately, things have been going missing around The Hellhole. A couple of months ago, our housekeeper, The Sainted Miss Betty, came to Alan to ask where her dustpan was.  Alan was mystified.  We keep all the cleaning products in one of those caddies on a shelf, the dustpan rests beside it and the broom and mops stand just to the left - there's never anywhere else we put that sort of thing.  When I got home from work that night, he asked me about the whereabouts of the dustpan.  I gave him a look.  Well, more of A Look, because of everyone in this household, including the four-legged residents, I'd be about the last one to know where this so-called "dustpan" might be located.  [Not that I never clean, but if there is crud or grit on the floor, I get it up with a Clorox wipe, not the broom and dustpan.  Which my way disinfects so it's two for the price of one.]

The other missing items are two cookie sheets.  I needed one for some cookie-baking but couldn't locate it.  A vigorous search turned up nothing.  We had some renovations done in the kitchen recently and moved some stuff around, but still, based on size, shape and other cabinet contents there are very few places these cookie sheets could be.  We have ransacked the kitchen and can't find them anywhere.  They were not even in some weird place in another room, like if we'd stowed them there while rearranging - just gone.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I think someone cased the joint, bypassed the security system and ignored all the jewelry, computers and electronics in order to purloin a 20-year-old blue plastic dustpan (see!  I do SO know what it looked like!) and two old, well-seasoned cookie sheets, but those things are simply now absent.  Moreover, they didn't turn up during a great purge of two rooms and the hauling of copious amounts of stuff to Goodwill.  It's just plain weird.

But there is balance, there is yin and yang, and as the universe taketh away, the universe giveth. 

Thanks to some spectacularly bad planning on my part, several shipments of Christmas gifts, including a rather expensive one for Alan, were set to arrive while we were out of town visiting his family.  There have been news stories and media coverage about a plethora of package thefts from porches lately, so I foresaw a whole lot of headache in my future, but there was nothing to be done about it from 120 miles away.  Much to my surprise, however, when we returned home we found our front porch full of intact boxes and parcels!  We hauled everything in and began to open packages and take inventory.

All was well until Alan opened a rather large box, got a strange look on his face and said, "Honey?  Why did you order all this Sons of Anarchy swag?" - which he quite logically found curious because we've never watched that show and don't know anyone who is a fan.  [Hey, it's probably great, we just don't watch it.]  I had not, in fact, ordered a large box of Sons of Anarchy swag.  I took the box, examined it and found, curiouser and curiouser, that it had my name, address and phone number, all perfectly correct.  I phoned the company.

At first the customer service guy tried to convince me to call FedEx, have them pick up the package and redeliver it to the intended recipient, but I eventually got him to understand that FedEx had done exactly what had been asked of them - the package was directed 100% correctly to me, I just hadn't ordered it.  Nor had someone ordered it as a gift for us because as I wrote, we don't watch that show.  Customer Service Guy was a bit at a loss and put me on hold a few times while he talked to others to try to figure out how to resolve matters.  Eventually he told me to hang onto the package, he'd get with a supervisor and get back to me by phone or email. 

No one ever got back to me and after at least ten days had passed, the aforementioned Goodwill purge was taking place.  There was a discussion about what to do with the box of Sons of Anarchy stuff, abandoned in my care.  We unpacked the box and found that a significant portion was taken up by this large, incredibly soft, fluffy throw.  While looking at it, I noticed little Commander Vimes lying on the couch so I draped it over him, tucked him in and told him that it was his blankie.

He is so happy to have a blankie of his own!  I never knew it mattered to him as there are blankies all over every puppy-available surface in this house (couches, love seats, bed, doggy baskets) but he is very pleased and proud.  He pulls that one out of whatever pile, kneads it, scrunches it and tromps it around until he has it just right.  He knows it belongs to him and is well pleased.