Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Summer Lovin' Week 3

"Lord of the Rings No More"

I'm not slacking. Honest. I made a very legitimate attempt at taking a couple of different photos this weekend. One was of lightning bugs. Enough said. The other was of a trip I only dare to make once - maybe twice - during the summer. To Krystal. Please don't judge.

If you live north of the Mason Dixon Line you are perhaps unfamiliar with the "wonder" that is Krystal. (Please note - it's not "Crystal" as in something pretty and sparkly. No, no. It's "Krystal" as in "we've changed the spelling to be more like a strip club.") Up North your closest equivalent would be White Castle. So you get the picture: little mystery meat burgers that you purchase by the sackful and eat late at night when your judgement is impaired. Very popular with college students and rednecks. A friend of a friend, who is a police officer and works the night shift on Saturdays, gets the majority of his DUI arrests just by observing the behavior of folks waiting in the Krystal drive-through. Like shooting fish in a barrel.

I have been known to eat at Krystal every once in a great while, but usually only in the summer. Why? Because in the summertime Krystal makes onion rings. Vidalia onion rings. But only in the summer. Why? Because Krystal is ALL ABOUT seasonal cooking with locally-grown vegetables, of course! But seriously, I have no idea why. I just know that once or twice, between June 1 and August 31, I will suffer the tragedy that is Krystal because somehow (and most of me doesn't really want to know how) these onion rings are de. lic. ious. And to top it off? A frozen Coke. Because that's just always yummy.

So late Saturday afternoon I was starving and - have I mentioned? - had been ripping out my living room ceiling all day and I thought that if ever there was a legitimate excuse to go to Krystal, this was certainly it. I scrubbed some of the black soot from my face, put on a ball cap and a giant pair of sunglasses and ran to my car hoping no neighbor would see me.

The drive-through was just as I imagined it would be. The car in front of me had a woman in the driver's seat in a tank top with a cigarette dangling from her lips as she ordered for herself and the free-range toddler who was busy trying to climb out the passenger seat window and/or breathe clean air. When it was my turn I pulled up to the speaker. The voice from inside said "Whaddayawant." I glanced at the menu and felt a small sense of panic. "Ummm," I said fearfully, "do you not have onion rings any more?" "What!?" said the voice from inside. "On-ion-Rings" I repeated. "No," they answered indignantly, as though I might as well have asked for flan.

I was crushed. But luckily - and you have no idea how luckily - I was at the Krystal on the east side. Not at the west side Krystal near my old apartment. Because at the east side Krystal you can get out of drive-through if tragedy strikes. The west side Krystal has a retaining wall around the back that creates a drive-through-point-of-no-return. And if, while you're waiting, say a fryer catches on fire, or someone passes out at the wheel before making it to the window, you are trapped like a rat with nothing to do but ponder your poor life choices.

It happened to me once and I vowed that as God as My Witness it would never happen again. A few years later it did almost happen again in a late-night, post movie race with two friends to find an open donut store via cell phone while waiting in the west side Krystal drive-through as back up. I won't bore you with the details as I'm sure you've had enough of trans-fat-related lore for one day. But, just to warn you, I might have to resort to telling it if yet another photo shoot goes awry. For now I will only say that it does have a happy ending. And that it will be titled Ode to the Krispy Kreme. See!? More interesting already.

So here's to yet another week and to the end of July. Summer's point-of-no-return, if you will. Here's hoping the rest goes by enjoyably. Or at least without incident. (And, if you happen to have your own source for vidalia onion rings, please call me...)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Have I Mentioned...

1. That I'm in the process of tearing out my living room ceiling?

It's an older home with a plaster ceiling that, back when it was a rental house/crack den, the former owner/slum lord had - in lieu of just drywalling over it or (God forbid) repairing the plaster - nailed panelling over it and then glued ugly little paperboard ceiling tiles to the panelling ('Cause what? JUST panelling would have been tacky?). So last week my brother and I ripped down the tile and panelling and over the weekend I began ripping out the damaged plaster and lathe.

The plan was to rip all of it out - good plaster and bad plaster - and then take a gander at what the exposed ceiling looked like to see if we could leave it all cool and groovy and exposed and put in a ceiling fan and other things... But of course it turns out that we can't even put in a ceiling fan because the house that I was told had up-to-date wiring only has up-to-date wiring for one outlet so that it would pass codes. The rest is all knob-and-how-the-hell-hasn't-my-house-burned-to-the-ground-yet-tube-wiring. PLUS, the space above the ceiling is also woefully lacking in insulation and what is there is this ancient black, sooty crap that comes crashing down on your head during demolition and embeds into your pores. So now that I'm going to have to pay to have the whole room rewired AND have experienced the joy of what I would look like if I worked in a mine, the plan has been revised from cool and groovy to just patch it, drywall it and lets move along... Grrr....

I do, however, have a very odd crush on the guys from This Old House (Nahhm, Tahhm, Rahhgahh, Richahhd, and cutie host, Kevin O'Conner) and am wondering if they might consider venturing out from their beloved New England to come down South for a little house repair / cultural exchange. They could do something crafty with my living room and I could cook them grits and okra, teach them how to say y'all correctly, and sing a few bars of "Coal Miner's Daughter." It would be lovely. (Yes, I know, I wouldn't begin to know how to cook grits. Or okra. Or sing. Humor me!)

Who knew that one day my Shaun Cassidy poster
would have competition like this?

2. I'm going to be walking 60 miles in October.

Yeah. Seriously. The things I get myself into... If you're a long-time reader, or have lots of free time, you might have read/remember my inaugural post last year about going to see my Aunt Jean and our friend, Lynn, in the Atlanta 3-Day walk to fight breast cancer. Somehow, as I'm still not sure exactly how, I was coerced :) into walking this year. I'm actually very glad I'm doing it - it just all seems to be a little daunting at times. It does sound more enjoyable than home renovation at the moment though, so I guess everything is relative...

Anyway... we formed a team - Jean, Lynn, my mom and me - and have been training for several weeks now. And we've got our own website / blog. AND we have to raise money. So, if you're interested in visiting our site (or maybe even donating a little something) - go to If you're interested in learning more about the event, click here. And, most importantly, if you or someone close to you has been affected by breast cancer and you would like to add their name to the list of women we are walking in honor, and in memory of, I would love nothing more than to add their name to our site and probably to a T-shirt of some kind when we get closer to the event.

So, that's the news from this end of the world. Anything unexpected in yours??

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer Lovin' Week 2

The Dog Days

It got really hot this weekend. Like 90-degrees by 10 in the morning hot. So hot I decided that it was worth it to brave my cute-but-spidery detached garage to drag out the kiddie pool as well as waste a bit of water filling it up for the dogs. Nothing makes you forget that your back is dripping sweat into your underwear faster than watching your two endearing, but neurotic, dogs slowly recall that they love water and that they will in fact not get a bath in the purple tub so they can go ahead and stop barking at it.

They couldn't figure out how to both get in at the same time so Elsie would jump in, splash about, and then jump out and take off running so fast with excitement that her back end would try to go faster than her front end and almost flip herself over. She would then circle the pool as Oliver would leap awkwardly - and with much gusto - into the middle and run in circles, making a whirlpool full of all sorts of waves and splashes. That he would then try to bite. He would then leap out of the pool - with equal awkward gusto - snorting and gasping as he tried to get the water out of his nose, leaving it free for Elsie to get back in. This went on and on for about an hour until they and the water were disgustingly muddy and I could sense my neighbors thinking that I had better not leave that disgusting mud pit in the middle of the yard and infest us all with West Nile.

Before the pool party came to end Elsie got to where she would lie down in the water and rest her head on the edge (pictured above). Oliver could never quite get the hang of not biting the water and sucking it up his nose, but he still managed to enjoy himself. Here are the rest of the photos from our canine adventure.

The spinning hound.

Oliver circling inside the pool. Elsie circling outside the pool.
You can see that one of his ears has flipped backwards in all the fervor.

Elsie telling (biting) Oliver to wait his turn.

Hope your weekend was as amusing - or at least not as hot!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chickens Just Back from the Shore

On the list of things I find annoying, the Feist counting song / iPod commercial and the new format of Sesame Street would both be on there somewhere. Not as high on the list as say drivers not using their turn signals, gladiator sandals, or Kenny Chesney. But annoying nonetheless.

Anyway... I've mentioned before how the Feist tune is catchy but irritates me. And as for Sesame Street, well, let's just say I'm a Sesame Street purist. Before the format change I was known to watch it from time to time even as a childless adult (what else are you supposed to do on a sick day?). I own the behind-the-scenes book, Sesame Street: Unpaved. "Ladybug Picnic" is one of the ringtones on my cell phone. I hate Elmo. I am old-school. I can't help it. I'm a child of the 70's. It's sacred. Just like Star Wars. And if you monkey around with it too much it's sacrilege. So this newer, Elmo-centric, monotonous, not-clever, not-funny Sesame Street is exactly that. Sacrilege.

But redemption is always possible, my friends. And so I give you a sneak preview into the 2008 season of Sesame Street and probably one of the more adorable things I've seen in a while:

I also read that James Blunt will be on at some point this season to lament the loss of his favorite shape in "My Triangle." If I ever get wind of a Kenny Chesney/Elmo duet though, it may be the end of me.

P.S. All of this made me want to see REM singing "Furry Happy Monsters" and lo and behold, it is on YouTube as well:

Happy Wednesday!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Summer Lovin' Week 1

"Had Me a Blast"

Never one to turn down a good song title or lyric from Grease, I have dubbed my little summer photo essay project / attempt to better appreciate my surroundings during this unfortunate of seasons, "Summer Lovin'." My plan is for a new installment each week until the temperature drops enough to comfortably cover my upper arm fat wear long sleeves again. Or Halloween. Whichever Global Warming allows to happen first.

For Week One we borrow from the ever-glorious musical movie Grease once again and pay tribute to the 4th of July. (Yes, I'm behind a week. Already.)

In Nashville, if you're into crowds and the smell of sweaty polyester, one option is to go downtown to the river and watch the fireworks. All smart-assed-ness aside, my town does a great job with July 4th - in part because the whole thing is scored live and in person by the Nashville Symphony. Our symphony sounds fantastic under normal circumstance, but sounding fantastic while playing on a barge, in the heat, on the river, while being bombarded with bugs and having rockets launched behind their heads takes a certain level of skill.

The 4th of July is also a fun time in my family. My mother and stepfather live in the same part of the city as I do, but even closer to downtown, so it's a good spot for the 4th. But it's also their anniversary. And while they would probably enjoy going somewhere just the two them, they usually have various family and friends over instead. Some might question their logic, but I think its because they know my brother and I both have keys to their house and would just have people over anyway, so really it's more of an insurance policy on their part than anything...

To see the fireworks it's usually best to walk around the corner from their house - or even a couple of blocks over to our church. Last year it was so unbelievably, miserably, and disgustingly hot (at 9:30 at night!) that when asked if everyone was ready to head out to watch the festivities, my pregnant sister-in-law and I said "Meh. We'll just sit here and watch it on TV." But this year, THIS YEAR, the weather was not only gorgeous, but the powers that be decided to launch the fireworks from a little further down the river. Perhaps an unsuspecting tuba player was singed last year. I don't know. I just know that I stepped out onto my mother's front porch and into a perfect view of Independence Day as I'm sure our founding fathers and mothers intended. No traffic. No shirt-less mullet-ed men. No coolers to drag around. No smell of carnival food. No sweat. God bless America.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

General Observations

Hello. Long time no chat. Nothing earth shattering has been going on, but here are some random things to be taken or left as you wish.

1. Alanis Morisette should follow me around for a while.
The same day I put in new car air freshener vent clippy things with the scent of "Summer Rain" I accidentally left the windows open too far and it rained in my car all afternoon. Ironic? Yes or no? Please discuss. I would also like to mention that "Summer Rain" air freshener clippy things don't smell a thing like summer rain. They smell like nasty fabric softener and with the same intensity as though you'd snorted it up your nose. So when combined, fake summer rain and actual summer rain in the JettaWhoWillNotBeNamed results in an aroma reminiscent of Wet Dog Doused in Snuggle. So... kinda like my laundry room... A well-spent $2.99 and trip down the Target automotive aisle if ever there was one.

2. So che siete ma che cosa sono io.
In an attempt to add Glass House Dwellers and Stone Throwers to their list of many accomplishments, someone in our presidential administration distributed information to reporters along on the G-8 junket this week. In it was a bio on Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi that referred to him as "a political dilettante who gained high office only through use of his considerable influence on the national media" and "one of the most controversial leaders in the history of a country known for governmental corruption and vice." The staffer that wrote it and will probably have to be punished for it (and who I'm guessing wanted to be fired instead of just jumping ship so that he could collect unemployment while writing his tell-all) really hit the smug, hypocritical mother-load, no? And... not to nitpick over word choice, but if by "vice" the Bushie meant the country has an appreciation of education, history, art, music, architecture, real food, small cars AND YET still manages affordable health care, a pretty high standard of living and a respectable GNP, then I think we could stand a vice or two like that over here. In the meantime I've been hoping Berlusconi's people would issue a statement that just simply said "I know you are, but what am I?"

3. Someone's been sampling the props.
On my Netflix summer watching list is the Showtime series "Weeds." Season 3 is starting to get a little more outrageous and dark-humored than I enjoy, but it's still fantastic. Plus, I think that Nancy and Conrad may have usurped Hyde and Jackie of "That 70's Show" for top spot on my list of Most Unlikely Yet Greatest Television Couples Ever. But alas, not my point. Last night I happened to check out the special features on one of the discs and watched a promo thingy on whichever Olsen twin it is that joined the cast that season. In it she says the role was a great opportunity "because most people only know me from 'Full House' or as a fashion icon." Uhhhh. I'm sorry. What??? I know I shouldn't sit here in Levis, Tevas and a shirt from Eddie Bauer and cast judgement on who should and shouldn't be considered a fashion icon, but at the same time, I think I am as qualified as someone whose style was referred to in this same feature as "dumpster chic." I also don't know if said twin is single, but I hear there's a recently unemployed presidential staffer with similar delusional issues and he could probably use a date this weekend.

4. Ongoing attempts at self-improvement.
There's a general fantasy that seems to float around in the rest of the world's mind as to the typical Southern summer's day. It usually involves elegantly rumpled linen outfits, gracious front porches, the scent of honeysuckle and a hand fan. If you happen to be in possession of one of those fantasies, I'm here to gently inform you that it's a giant pile of crap. A summer's day in my Southern reality involves wearing whatever is least likely to show pit stains... fighting the dogs for the living room floor vent when the AC kicks on... and air so muggy that it knocks the wind out of you just a bit when you walk outside. It is scented. I will give you that. But less like honeysuckle and more like a damp beach towel you just found in the trunk of a car that's been baking in the driveway for a week and a half. And being more on the hermit end of the personality spectrum anyway, it takes all I can muster not to just close all the blinds and lay on the cool hardwoods with an IV of gin and tonic for three or four months. My point (at least I do go on like a good Southerner...) is that one of the reasons I started this little bloggy experiment was to try and evolve a bit. Up to this point I've only succeeded in perfecting the art of kvetching so now I'm going to try something else. And that something is to try to "enjoy" summer through writing. And photography. That's all I've got so far though. But stay tuned...

5. Ending my list with more lists. Ahhhh...
Entertainment Weekly's website (which is all kinds of fun even on a bad day) has been counting down their top 100 lists of "The New Classics." First movies, then television series, then albums, and lastly, books. I was pleased to have seen more than half of the movies listed. More of the TV shows than I care to admit. More of the music than I expected (thanks to a very generous inclusion of angsty 80's alt-rock). But sadly very few of the books. Very sadly. I used to be an avid reader. I still am in some ways, I guess - it's just that it usually involves nonfiction and home improvement magazines. Anyway... if you have a chance and want to take a look at the lists, it's a good way to kill twenty minutes (this link starts the movie countdown and all the rest are in the links on the side). I would be interested to know what you think. Shocks? Happy surprises? Unfortunate omissions? And if you're a smarty-pants that has read a good chunk of the book list I'd like to know what you think should be added to the stack on my bedside table. And read once I finish the July issue of "This Old House," of course...