Saturday, March 31, 2012

Meeting of the Middle of Street Committee

The warm temperatures in March have brought out the spring flowers, the weeds and the impromptu gatherings that we in the neighborhood call the Meeting of the Middle of Street Committee. 

At our last get together last night the husband and I joined Stoner Bob and Just Call Me Judy and Storms A Blowing Corliss in a mutual bitch session over the Hostile Lesbians that stirred a shit hissy last November over not feeling the love last November when they insulted everyone on the street.

“What’d they do this time,” asked my husband who is the most accepting person on the earth, until he senses bullshit.

Just Call Me Judy was turning three shade of magenta, getting up the gumption to tell when the Bob Wolfe’s came up with their Irish Wolf Hounds, James and Joyce, and asked what was up.

“Are we gossiping,” asked Bob Wolfe.

“Or are we just bitching in general?” asked Bob Wolf.

Stoner Bob – who shares a house with Pot Smoking Phil – caught them up that Just Call me Judy had had a bad encounter with the Hostile Lesbians.  “Go ahead and tell them Judy.”

Judy explained that she had just bought her first new car in twenty years and was showing it to I Don’t Have A Sphincter Audra when one of the Hostile Lesbians came up with her toddler, Torston, and accused Just Call Me Judy of contributing to the destruction of the plant through her wasteful consumerism.

“She then berates me because there are plenty of used cars on the planet that are perfectly good, but that buying a new car that uses up Mother Earth’s rare commodities…”

 “…and contributes to a bleak and polluted future for Torston, right?” finishes up Bob Wolf.
“How did you know?” I ask.

“Oh, bitch…” says Bob Wolf.

“…PLEASE!” says Bob Wolfe.  “She tried unloading that truck of bullshit on us last week when we were out cutting our yard.”

“She saw Bob,” said Bob Wolf, “using our lawn mower and says to him, after the pleasant ‘hello’s’ if he was aware that using a gasoline lawn mower was helping to destroy the future of a clean world for Torston…”

“…and I am like who the fuck do you think you are?” finished up Bob Wolfe.

"BOB!" shouted Storms A Blowing Corliss.  "Such language."

“OLA!” Helicopter Sandy joined in and was brought her up to speed.

“And like those fucking wood fires that they burn in the ‘ashe pit' or whatever they call that thing out back isn’t contributing to global warming?  I asked them about and they said that because wood is natural, its part of the life cycle of the world.  Sanctimonious cunt. ”

"SANDY!" shouted Storms A Blowing Corliss, who looked like she was going to simply die.  "Such language."

"Well," says Sandy, "You don't like 'fuck' so I thought I'd turn it up a notch."

Just Call Me Judy wanted to know if the Hostile Lesbians were just mean or clueless.

We chatted among ourselves and decided that they were clueless and annoying selfish, but not malevolent, yet.  The sky to the west was turning black as pitch and the wind was beginning to kick up.

“I just hope,” said the Husband, “that they don’t start up that Lesbian Chapter of La Leche League like Weird Willa did.”

“But breast feeding is beautiful and it’s good for baby.  Although I think Torston is beyond that point,” said Just Call Me Judy.

“Was that all those fat bitches sitting out on the porch a few years ago suckling the young?” asked Stoner Bob.  “Some of those kids were riding two wheel bikes.  And some of those 400 lbs. women had nipples the size of hub caps. Man, that was gross!”

The Bob Wolf(e)s were appalled.  Corliss, even more so.

From there the discussion turned to other mundane things, included in which was that a play date between James and Joyce, and Rocky and Kevin was set up and a discussion on why our neighborhood is among the last for Columbus’ new mandatory recycling program.

The meeting broke up when the Tornado Sirens went off.  Storms A Brewing Corliss made her usual announcement ("Storms A Brewing!") which seemed rather pointless and the crowd dispersed. 

As the husband and I went back into the house, we both wondered that if we move, whether or not the new neighborhood would be a place where people got together and chatted together.

I’m hoping it will be – gossip is a great unifier. 

“What if we found the perfect house, but it was next door to two helicopter parents who were lesbians and their wunderbaby was named Torston?” asked the husband.

Now that would be a deal breaker.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Is that all there is?

So, here I am, working on the house, minding my own business when I here a crash upstairs and the sound of broken glass.

Immediately, I thought of our dogs, Rocky and Kevin, but they were down stairs with me, and now they were barking up a storm.  So up I go to see what the racket was and walk into my office to see that the top half sash  on the left window dropped to the bottom of the frame, and the window pane was broken.

Bother.  All this hassle and a mess to clean up because a cotton rope decided to give up the ghost.

What's a sash - isn't that what Miss America wears?

Well, yes, but not that type of sash.

A sash, for the uniformed, is what one calls the frame that a glass is set into in a window.  Whether your windows are up and down slides, side to side sliders, crank out (or in) casement windows, all windows have sashes.

Our house is 95 years old, and back then, they most commonly built houses (in this part of the world) with what is called a "one over one" sash.  The "one" refers to the number of panes of glass in the sash.  So our house has one large pane of glass on an upper sash, and one pane of glass on the lower sash.  When these windows were new, one would lower the upper sash while raising the lower sash.  This created two places where air could come in (through the lower opening) and hot air could exhaust, through the upper opening.  This type of convection is what kept houses cool in the summer - along with canvas awnings, which we also have as well.

Each sash weighs about 10 lbs. (wood, nails, glazing, paint and glass) and in the good old days they were kept in place with two pig iron weights of  6 lbs each.  These weights were tied to cotton based braided sash cord, threaded over a static pulley and then knotted into place on the sash.  So a two sash window, will have FOUR weights, two on the left, two on the right, and two of these balance the upper sash in place, and two hold the lower sash up when you open the window.

Well, over time, people got in the habit of just opening the bottom sash by lifting it up all of the way up, and the upper sashes in most windows got painted shut.

And over time, the cotton sash cords rot from heat, or are weakened when they get painted and that paint tears at the cotton.  If the sash has layers of old oil paint gluing the window in place and rendering it immobile and the sash cord breaks, you hear a muffled crash.

However, as in our house, if the sashes are operable, and the cord breaks, and the other cord was already broken or slipped its anchor knot, the sash drops as there is nothing keeping it in place.

I have done all of the windows on our second floor, except this set.  So it was on my radar, but it wasn't on the schedule

But with finding this, I had to stop doing what I was doing and start working on this mess.  So I turned on the Sonos unit in my office, set it to shuffle and set about fixing what was broken.

Replacing sash cord isn't easy, and its a filthy job.  You have to dismantle the windows by pulling the stops, removing the sashes and the re-thread it with fresh cord, tie off the weights, and re-install the sashes.  And while you have the sashes out, you might as well wash them, right?  Then there is the glazing and the glass and the glazing points, right?  And then you have to paint.  But it costs less than ten dollars a window, and if you do it right, you don't have to do it again for your lifetime.

Four hours later - and after finding out that Lowe's doesn't carry sash cord - everything was in place and I looked like I had been in a bug tussle with a minstrel player.  The chases where the pig iron weights travel are chock full of 95 years of coal dust, soot and other grime, and now I was too.   My arms, my shirt, my face.

As I was picking up the last of the debris, I found the hardened brittle length of sash cord that held up the window and then gave up the ghost leading to this caprice.  As I looked at it, Peggy Lee was coming over the speakers, and she was singing "Is That All There Is?"

Is that is all there is, indeed.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A paler (and more neutral) shade of beige

Work here at Casa D' Cookie continues as we wade through the morass that is our house.

Following up on the list of things that Realtor said we needed to do, we have been painting walls and ceilings.

This week, we head down stairs to the living room and the dining room.

Gentle Doe is out and Cincinnatian Hotel Briggs Beige is in

The walls had been Majestic Paint's "Gentle Doe" - a midtone beige with a gold hue to it.  I love that color - makes me feel warm.  However Missy the Realtor said it was too taste specific so we're painting the walls Valspar's Cincinnatian Hotel Briggs Beige, which looks like nude orthopedic pantyhose. 

We had friends to dinner last night and our friend Dante is appalled that we are redoing the house to suit the Realtor's suggestions.  

"Your home needs to be an expression of who you are," says he.

Now I love Dante, but he's is a drama teacher, not a Realtor.  And he is no more going sell our house for us than he would let Barbara Corcorian in to direct Twelfth Night.  

Dante can't wrap his mind around the concept that we are going to move, he doesn't get that people are going to be going through our house and trying to decide if they are going to buy it.  You got to make the house appear as if they just slide their furniture into it. 

So why not paint the walls off-white?  Well, our woodwork is fumed red oak, and its dark.  And we have a lot of windows and doors (the dining room has two doors and four windows, the living room has five windows, a stair case, three doors and a fireplace.  Off white would make the rooms seem choppy.  

Then there is the whole psychological aspects of colors that dark colors recede and light colors advance - so white, off white and cream colored anything are bad decisions.  

And speaking of Barbara Corcoran, I had a nightmare that our house ended up on the Today Show and she was ranting about our color palette.  "What are they thinking? You can't see the house with that putrid gold on the walls!" 

When we find our new home, that Gentle Doe is going right back up on the walls.   And Barbara Corcoran? Well she can kiss my "Gentle Doe" loving ass.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Infomaniac is SIX

Six, indeed.

Five plus one is SIX.  Seven Minus one is also SIX.  Not four, or five, but SIX.  SIX is the number.

We will now wait for Mistress MJ to use it in a sentence.  (tapping our toe and we're waiting!)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Heard outside the post office today

Man 1: "...that's what I'm tryin' to tell you."

Man 2: "I'm picking up what you's laying down."

Man 1: "Good, I was afraid you weren't smellin' what I'z shitting."

Monday, March 19, 2012

A new Mac is a thing of joy.

The awful new laptop lasted all of 48 hours.

By Saturday evening, even my very patient, play by the rules, no drastic steps, etc. husband had had enough.

"It's crap - lets take it back tomorrow."

So back to Best Buy we went, and the Geek Squad - who has to check out returned computers to make sure that they haven't been trashed before they are accepted for return - confirmed what we knew: the hardware and the software were bad.

"Congratulations!" said our techie "You guys won the bad product tri-fecta.  Actually, that's a little Geek Squad humor."  According to him, one in every 1,500 computers have it all going on like ours.

From "Best Buy" we hiked over to the Apple Store, where we were introduced to Abby, and Abby lead us to the machine that we would buy.

After an hour of question and answer, our heads hurt, our wallets were lighter, but we were excited about the purchase.

The joy has returned over a new computer!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A new laptop is no longer a thing of joy

There used to be a time in my life when a new computer was a treat - something exciting.

On our trip to Baltimore, our nine year old laptop decided that it was time to "Camille" on us.  It has been a good laptop - a Toshiba, and it saw me through writing five books, and scanning THOUSANDS of historical images.  But the old gal can't keep up anymore.  It gets confused easily and then seizes up.

Because I am about to teach an LEI course on Genealogy 101, a new laptop was in order because you have to teach these people where to go to get their stuff and nothing is worse than standing in front of 80 tech savvy senior citizens and looking stupid when your computer doesn't execute commands, right?

So we've been looking, and looking, and looking too long.  With time closing in, getting the laptop sooner, rather than later was a big thing.

After all, I have to have time and write the lesson plans and get ready for my close up.

I thought about a Mac Book, but the cost put an end to that.

And there are a ton of "acceptable" machines, I went to Best Buy (ugh) and picked out a Samsung because it was four times the processing speed of the old laptop and a fraction of the cost.

AND because the husband chipped in some cash, it is technically "our" computer, so we were able to buy a full blown copy of Microsoft Office for $10 for the computer.  Sounds great, right?


Turning the machine on from the get go revealed a problem with the operating system.  The drivers for the keyboard were all Fubared up and the EI v9 copy on the computer would NOT open windows in tabs.

So use a new browser, right? 

Well, here's my thinking.  If IE 9 isn't working, what else isn't installed correctly, right?  Better to slay the dragon right off than to find yourself at some point in the arch of ownership hitting your head and screaming curses because something else that vital doesn't work, right?

So I spent the better part of yesterday reading forums, etc. and so on trying to find solutions that would work.  None would.

I called Samsung and got a "dude" who told me that was sorry that I had a problem ("It would be a bummer to turn on a machine and have these issues"), but he couldn't help me because they were same solutions he found at Microsoft.

Immediately, I thought "Fucking hundred dollar call to Microsoft, great!" when Dude said, "But there is good news."

Good news about Microsoft?

EVIDENTLY Microsoft has had so many instances with this problem that they provide FREE support now if THEIR program prevents you from going online.

I know I could have solved all of these problems had a bought a Mac Book in the first place, but when you have a few kopecks, you buy what you can.

HOWEVER, one day I will have a Mac Book, and when that happens, the joy of owning a new computer will return!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Zoe Katrina this, and Zoe Katrina that...

Over at the Infomaniac, Mistress MJ has asked, what are our gay pursuits.

This jarred something loose in "mah head" and it made me think of Mike and Zoe Katrina.

We had a friend that I'll call Bruce, because that's his name.  Bruce is a nice guy.  But he dates the wrong men because he has a degree in psychology and thinks he knows everything, when in fact he knows less about himself than he thinks he does.

Plainly stated, no smart man will date him because Bruce is an emotional train wreck, and a smart person knows not to book travel on the Cannonball Express because it only serves up Hooterville with a side trip to Petticoat Junction.

Anyhow, Bruce hooked up with the loud fat fuck named "Mike".  Imagine Cam from Modern Family, but without Cam's personality.

In fact, Mike's timing and personality couldn't have been worse.

For example, Mike was in the Columbus Gay Men's Choir, and Mike thought everyone loved choral music, which is an untruth. Mike even came to our house once and the nerve of breaking out into verse of "Tits and Ass" in hopes of ginning up the evening.  All it did was make everyone stop and wait for him finish before they all got back to doing what people do at our parties, which is to booze it up and talks about other people.

While that was the last time that Mike was allowed in our house, MJ's little deal reminded me of our final encounter with Mike.

A group of us had been invited to play cards at a mutual friends house.  The weather was terrible that night with loud thunderstorms and lightning.  And when we got to Friend's house, friend announced that Bruce and Mike would be late.  Mike adopted Greyhounds that were passed their prime and evidently the newest one - "Zoe Katrina" was having a bad reaction to the storms.

So we sat and talked and finally the six of us started a game of Tripoli and we were playing and drinking and eating and chatting when guess who walks in the door but Bruce, Mike and Zoe Katrina. Its a ballsy man who invites his dog to someone's house, but since we were all dog people anyway, it was no big deal.

So everyone gets settled to play cards when Mike starts carrying on with Zoe Katrina nesting down in her bed next to the card table.

"Now Zoe Katrina, I want you to lie down right there...and Zoe Katrina, do you need your bed shaped...Oh, Zoe Katrina, come back her and lay down..."  Zoe Katrina this...Zoe Katrina that...blah, blah, blah, on and on about Zoe Katrina!

After about 40 minutes of this, he stops and says, to the group of gay guys sitting around a card game, "YOU KNOW I'M GAY BECAUSE MAH DOG HAS TWO NAMES!"



At once, everyone of us sitting around that table was thinking that it wasn't the limp wrists, that told us he was gay.  It wasn't the babbling about the Gay Mens Chorus.  It wasn't fawning over Bruce.  No, we're supposed to know he's gay because his dog has two God damn names.  And there he sits, pleased as punch with himself because we know he's gay because his dogs have two names?

And then, someone at the table spoke up, and that voice came from my mouth.  And that voice said "You know I'm gay because I suck dick."  And the guys at the table cracked up.

Poor Mike.  He had it coming.  But sometimes, the truth hurts.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Any tighter, and I'd have married it.

OK, after a day rest, Cookie is back to painting, again.  And I have to tell you that I have just about worn out what my husband calls my "Happy Magic Fun Hand" from holding paint brushes and rollers.

Last week we met with a friend who's a realtor for dinner and I asked "If we were going start a redo of the paint in the rooms of Cookie Manor, what colors should we choose.  Our friend, who is successful, and who knows our house very well said "Same colors in all the rooms, but redo the guest room in a neutral, and paint the upstairs bathroom a light to medium light blue/aqua."

The guest room is now, Sherwin William's Rouge Red, a deep red on the blue side.  It is anything but neutral. After 18 years, it can go, because 2012 is the year of big changes.

But the bathroom blue or aqua? This scared me.  I am not a lover of light blue, and I am even less fond of aqua. And the bathroom has white beadboard 6 feet up the walls, so it wouldn't be too much of those vile colors, I reasoned.  And 2012 is the year of making big changes to my life, and that means getting out of my comfort zone.

And painting this bathroom, which is 8 feet wide by 8 long (with a vanity, toilet and large 95 year old tub) is hard as hell because you can't get a step ladder into it, and you can't use a painting pole because the pole keeps hitting things.

The first time I saw the bathroom all those years ago the Realtor said "It's small and it's tight."

"Any tighter and I'd married it," I said.

Painting the bathroom means having to contort you body around things, balancing like a circus acrobat and standing on things that weren't to be stood upon. Sorta like Twister, but instead of colored dots, you're using the toilet lid, the window sill, the edge of the tub and step stool. Then there is the stretching, the lunging and the holding of ones breath. It may be the smallest room in the house, but its Hell to paint once, and at its best, its like a Yoga class with a loaded sash brush in one hand.

Painting that room twice in three days is torture, but the added bonus of knowing if you slip that certain death (or brain damage from the fumes) awaits makes it all the more fun.

First I went to Home Depot, because Consumer Reports rates their paints highly and selected a Martha Stewart shade of aqua, on the blue side.  Up it went, and it looked lovely while wet, but when it dried, I was appalled.  It looked so, well, cheap - made me think we were living in a ghetto rental.

Still, I thought it was my bias, so I had our friend the Realtor (who is a member of the 10 Million Dollar Club) over and she saw it and was pleased as punch with it.  "It's so beachy and spa-like," she said as she scrunched up her face and shoulders thinking it the cute thing to do.

But I'm not a beachy person.  Neither is the Husband - he's more the sea going type.

Still, I thought it best to await his opinion, because if he could like with it, so could I.  Upon seeing it, he said "I hate it."  Matter settled.  I would risk life and limb and repaint.

Resigned to repainting, this time I went blue - a light blue with some gray in it from Lowe's and the outcome is better and more livable.  Spa-like, not beachy. 

I still hate the light blue. 

I can live with it in the short term, and that is all we have to do.  Because I'll be damned if I have to paint it a third time.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sweet smoking Jesus, Me and the Catholic Church

I've been going through a whole lot of change the past five months or so.  Getting rid of a lot of stuff, both figurative and literal.

As it says in the sidebar, I'm a bit of a cultural Bastard - I'm neither fish nor foul when it comes to matters of religion.

My mother was raised in the Methodist Episcopal church - which has since been absorbed into the Methodist Church and that has since been used to create the United Methodist Church.  My father, was a first generation American Jew. 

I am not one for things that are metaphysical and spiritual.  Organized religion for me is a thing created by society to control people.

To the Methodists, I was a curiosity.  To the Jews, I was a problem.  The Methodists saw me as the result of a flawed marriage.  The Jews saw me as something that didn't count once took sides with my father over my mother in the divorce. That made me really, very angry.  And it made me hate Judaism, even though my beef was with the congregation, not the faith.

Somehow, I ended up becoming Catholic because I was looking for something with the guilt that I knew from the Jewish side but something that would speak to this idea that if you admitted your faults and had structure, you could have redemption.  And its worked because I like the structure of the mass, and I like the idea that I could pursue my own course in life because in my heart it was like.

Then a couple things happened.

The first thing was the election of Ratzinger as Pope.  I don't recognized Ratzinger as the Pope, even though he is.  So since he has sat on the throne of St. Peter, I am technically not in communion with the church, and therefore I haven't taken communion at services.

The second thing that has happened is the Catholic sex scandals involving children, and how the church has utterly failed by protecting the wrong side in this - the criminal Priests.  Call me old fashioned but a child molester is a criminal and the child is the victim, not the other way around.

The THIRD and straw, I believe has been this outrage by the American Catholic hierarchy over birth-control and health-care plans.  I have an issue with a church, headed by men who have gone to great lengths to protect and shield child molesters around the world, now coming down on the Presidents stance on providing access to birth control for employers whose employees are 51% non Catholic.

My outrage is that here are the protectors child molesters saying every life is sacred while failing to put this much energy into protecting those lives from Priests who are pedophiles.

So I am at a crossroad.  I know that I have to take a stand with my Church, and a church that I have struggled with since I was pointed in that direction.  Easier said than done.

Stay tuned: in the coming weeks I will need to write a letter to the Holy See and tell them what it looks like from here.   I may need to toss the Catholics aside and start that spiritual journey anew.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I'm sorry, but Mr. Cookie is unable to come to the blog...

I've received emails from people asking where I have been.

Simply put: in hiding.

We had the plasterer in on Thursday and Friday. 

And I almost lost what little of my mind I have left. 

And what had pushed me to the brink to madness?

Let me preface this by saying that our plasterer is the nicest guy in the whole, wide world. 

His work is beautiful and his prices are so reasonable that one wonders how he makes a living.   And he shows up on time and is done when he says he'll finish.  Really, he is a good person.

But he talks incessantly.  One topic blurs into another with a "...and another thing...and its funny that I said that know...did I ever tell you..."

And the older he gets, the more he talks.  And its the same stories, over and over.

So I got through Thursday (first coat) but by 6PM on Friday (second coat) I had a RAGING headache.   And I was ready to spill secrets of national importance, of which I know none, but I would have made things up if I had to.  Even the dogs were exhausted from the non-stop "who's a good dog? WHO IS A GOOD DOG?"  Kevin crapped in the dining room, I think, to get demanding questions over with.

Unable to face day three of this chatty version of Chinese water torture, I looked through my organizational newsletters and saw where the local genealogical society had its monthly meeting back home.  Anything to get away.  So I left the husband with the plasterer for the sanding.  During the blue haired lady meeting I kept getting texts messages to the effect of "Jeez, can he stop yabbering for five minutes?"

And the answer is no, he can't.  And this is why yesterday morning I was sitting in a meeting with 30 senior citizens listening to a thrilling presentation on the War of 1812.  To get away.

When I returned home the husband had a splitting headache.  But when we got the final bill, given the amount of work he did, it was worth it.

So for self preservation, I have been in hiding.

Big doings ahead for the week.  Will have to report what I can report.  Can't spill all of the beans just yet.  But a BIG week it is.