Thursday, December 13, 2012

Call Me Grace

I recently had the pleasure of participating in the wedding of a good friend. 

The bride and groom rented a lodge in the mountains where the wedding party could stay for the weekend.  Festivities were planned, and food would be provided.

I expected the mountain driving (especially with a snow storm on the way) would be the adventure of this little gathering.  I am very good at getting lost.

I am also very good at visualizing my car sliding off a twisty mountain road over a cliff and then my car exploding on the way down in a comet of fire and confetti, probably because I missed a turn.  It seemed like the natural conclusion.

But none of that happened.  It was a remarkably pleasant drive, I had good directions, and arrived a little early for the rehersal.

What I didn't expect was that the bridal suite would have an INDOOR HOT TUB that we could use.

Which is where our adventure begins...

While I have recently lost quite a bit of weight, I may still have some minor body issues.

Creepy smiles always help to make friends.

I decided my best course of action would be to get in the hot tub as quickly as possible and pretend I was not as ridiculous as I felt.

So, I walked over to the hot tub...

...put my foot on the step...


The step was not a step at all, but a beautifully hand crafted creation of doom.

It tipped a little.

And then it tipped some more...

I attempted to regain my balance for a moment...

 But there was no help for it.

I went down.

For a moment I lay on the floor, basking in my utter humiliation, and wondering what I had broken.  Besides the last vestiges of my self respect, I mean.

 With a Herculean effort, I pulled myself up.

And I realized that everyone in the room, maybe a half a dozen brides maids, was staring at me.

I tried to reassure them.

The most certain way to make sure everyone thinks you're drunk is to assure them you are not.

So I (very carefully) hopped into the hot tub, realizing that everyone was sitting on the edge because the  the temperature was set roughly to that of molten lava.

I will neither confirm nor deny that I may or may not have screamed.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Shut Up, Mouth!

Recently, I was fixing myself a sandwich for lunch at work...

Sometimes I feel like I should come with a warning label.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Time I Almost Accidentally Prostituted Myself for Sushi

I worked in an art gallery at the time.

People would come in, look at stuff, buy arts, and then leave.  Sometimes they would just come in and ask to use the bathroom (No!  We are a block from Bourbon Street, get your drunk ass back to the bar!).  Occasionally, someone would walk in and try to chat me up. Most of those were somewhat unbalanced or homeless or both, but it went with the territory.

Summertimes can be slow in New Orleans. Any distraction is usually welcome.

On a particularly hot day one July, an older gentleman walked in to the gallery.  He was probably in his 70's, but looked 80 or maybe a little bit older.  He carried a fancy walking cane and had a lift in one shoe.

He was dressed in a suit that made me think he must be sweltering, but he seemed unconcerned and strangely un-sweaty.

I sat behind the desk, taking a few minutes to read a book after I finished dusting the frames and vacuuming the carpet.

"Well hello," he said as he walked in.

I put my book down and gave him a nice, friendly, customer service smile.  "Hello," I said.

"I'm not interested in buying anything," he said, cutting me off.

I raised my eyebrows. Then get the fuck out of the store?  Customer service is not something that comes easily to me, especially when it's face to face.  I tried to keep my expression customer-service neutral: vague, interested, pleasant, but I was annoyed.

"I walk by here almost every day, and you're always in here reading," he said with an ingratiating smile, "I always see you reading..."

"Oh," I said, glancing down at my book.  Why was he watching me?

"My question is... what are you reading that's so interesting?"

I picked up my book and handed it to him.  He didn't look like a stalker.  He was just another face in the Quarter.  After a while, everyone who frequents the French Quarter starts to recognize everyone else.

"The Lives of the Caesars," he read.  "Are you in school?"

"No," I said, "I just like the Romans."

He opened the book and flipped through.  "'Quicker than boiled asparagus' was one of his favorite phrases," he read.

I nodded.  Augustus was one of my heroes.

The man handed me back my book.  "My name is George*," he said.
*Not his real name.  

"Leauxra," I said, extending my hand.  He shook it, then took it in both hands and patted it in a fatherly way.

"Well," he said, "I better be off.  I'm going to brunch over at Brennan's.  I'll be seeing you."

I said goodbye, and he continued his walk down the street.

George stopped in several times over the coming weeks, always around mid-day, and always when no one else was around.  I noticed when he walked by, too... sometimes in a hurry, but always sending a friendly wave at me.

It broke up the tedium.

When he came in, he would ask what I was reading, or tell me a funny story about New Orleans in the "old days".   He was never in the gallery for more than a minute or two, and never overstayed his welcome. I got the impression that he was bored and lonely.

By the time he asked me out, I had spoken to him probably 20 or 30 times.  He said, "You know, I'm always going somewhere when I go by here... It would be nice if we could actually have a conversation.  Would you be at all interested in having dinner with me some time?"

I have a feeling my eyebrows tried to push their way into my hair, and he said something like, "Just, to, you know, talk.  I would like to hear more about what you're reading."

"Hm," I replied.

"Well," he said, "Think about it."

He left with a wink.  He asked me to dinner again about a week later, and I said OK.  He seemed harmless enough, and I was between paychecks.  I could use some sushi.

I didn't know where the sushi place was, but I had ordered take out from there a few times, so we were going to meet in an area I was familiar with and walk together.

I locked up the gallery after work that evening, and went to the agreed upon location.  George was standing there, waiting.

"Well hello there," he said with a smile.  I smiled back.  I was hungry as I hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast.  I was down to pasta and condiments at my house, and I was looking forward to a change.

"I was thinking," he said, "Why don't we just go to my place and order delivery?"

I hesitated.

"I live right here," he said, pointing his cane to an apartment entrance between two store fronts in a historic building.

"I... guess that would be OK," I said.

"Sushi Blah-blah* closes at seven, and I don't want to have to hurry," he said.
*Not the real name of the restaurant.

I shrugged.  "That should be fine," I said.

I followed him in through the locked door, making sure I wouldn't need a key to exit.  He clumped up the stairs in front of me, and I followed.  I didn't particularly care to be going to a stranger's house, but as I watched him teeter up the stairs and grunt with the effort of it, I realized that he really wouldn't pose much of a threat to me.  I could always leave if he turned out to be a weirdo.

Unless he had a gun.  Then I would just be fucked.

He opened his apartment door, and held it for me.  I walked in, looking around.  I had always wondered what the inside of these apartments looked like, and I was slightly disappointed.

The floors were beautiful polished wood, and there was a ton of space.  The ceilings were high, and there were windows all over the place, but it was decorated like they wanted it to look middle America. There was no feeling of New Orleans to it at all.  It felt more like suburbia.  The walls were light blue, the picture molding flat and plain, the furniture a nicer version of what I could buy at Target, the art on the wall bland, dull, and only a step or two  above framed Thomas Kinkaid prints.

He took my coat. I noted the closet where he put it, and followed him as he offered to show me around.

The place was bigger than my original impression, small rooms leading to hallways leading to larger rooms. It was obviously two or three smaller apartments renovated to be one large space.

The windows looked directly across a small alleyway and in to the next apartment over. George said I shouldn't stand in the window because the neighbors might see.

"See what?" I asked.

"Well," he said, "You.  My wife is out of town most of the time, but she gets jealous."

I shrugged and stepped away.  He offered me a drink. 

"Sure," I said, and George showed me a six pack of club soda in little bottles sitting out at room temperature, a small bottle of expensive gin and one of cheap vodka, but didn't try to make me a drink.  I poured a club soda and vodka into a plastic Solo cup, and offered to pour him one.  "Oh no," he said, "I can't drink."

"Oh," I said.

"Well, maybe a little," he said with a wink.

I wandered away while he poured himself some booze.  When were we going to eat?

As I entered what turned out to be a library, he said, "You should see something."  He reached down and opened a small case and picked up what appeared to be a small ivory statue, and handed it to me.

I looked down at it.  It was an ivory statue.  Of two people fucking.  Graphically.

"Um," I said, "Neat."  I handed it back.  George then launched into a detailed story about collecting these little figurines from all over the world, which were actually counterweights for money pouches in Japan before pockets.  I nodded, trying to look interested, but mostly annoyed that I was out of booze already.  He handed me several more sexy statues, and I tried to pretend I gave a shit.

It had finally occurred to me that George was probably expecting "payment" for dinner.  I sighed, and looked towards the closet where my coat was.  Should I just leave, or... Damn, I really wanted some sushi, though.  Dinner last night had consisted of stale bow-tie pasta, some questionably old capers and olive oil that I'd pan fried.  I was getting down to the last of the stores, and I really couldn't come up with a meal to make out of mustard, stale oatmeal, and several varieties of hot sauce.

I realized that George was asking me a question.  "I'm sorry," I said, "What did you say?"

He laughed, but I could tell he was pissed that I wasn't paying attention.  "I said, should we order dinner?"

"Oh," I said, "That would be good.  I'm starving."  I smiled.  Finally.

We walked back into the dining area, and he handed me a menu.  "Pick whatever you want."

"What about you?"

"Oh," he said, "I'm getting one of the dinners."

"OK," I said, and had to really try to keep from rolling my eyes.  Why the hell would he agree to sushi if he didn't care for it?  He could have suggested something else.

I circled three rolls... enough for dinner and leftovers tomorrow.  I was getting annoyed with the whole situation, and I was bored.  I had planned to tell him about a book I was reading as it had some amusing anecdotes I thought he might appreciate, but he was completely uninterested, constantly steering the conversation back to stories about wild parties and loose women.

I had had to stop myself from ordering the most expensive sushi rolls I could find on the menu out of pure spite.  I managed to choose things I actually liked instead of being an ass.

I sat down at the table while he talked on the phone, and stared at my empty glass.  I should have skipped the club soda and gone straight for the booze.  It was obvious George was not going to offer a refill.

After he ordered and sat across from me at the table, launching into a ribald story about something that happened back in the 60's.  I tried to pretend to be interested, and laughed politely at his story.  I imagined him seducing young impressionable and highly sheltered debutantes in previous decades.  His stories may have titillated me when I was eleven years old or so, but I had discovered the internet early and was raised by HBO.  There was nothing new here.

"Mind if I fill up my drink?" I asked.

"Oh, pardon me," he said, "Help yourself."

I stood up and walked to where the booze was and topped off my drink.  I only filled the glass halfway with vodka, despite the temptation to just drink it straight and make the evening less painful.  As I turned around, George was standing less than a foot behind me and leaned in for a kiss.

I stepped back, knocking the six pack of club soda off the small counter top with a loud thunk.

"Give us a kiss!" he whispered, leaning in.  I turned my head, and he managed to give me a sloppy kiss on my cheek, and I managed to spill half my drink on his arm.  Did he really just say that?

I realized he wasn't backing off a moment later.  His arms were pushing me in to the window, and I was tempted to kick him in the 'nads.  Instead, I bent quickly under his arms, easily breaking his grip, and picked up the fallen soda.  I took a step away.  "Oh good," I said, "It didn't break open."  I think I did a good job pretending I hadn't noticed his aggressive pass at me.

He blinked at me several times, and I walked back into the kitchen.  I heard him come after.

I was just deciding that I was going to leave without my damn food when the doorbell rang.

"I'll get it," he said, making his clumpy way to the door and down the stairs.

I sat at the table staring at my reflection in the window, realizing that the neighbors could definitely see everything that was happening in the apartment, and that I was being a total dickwad. I had no intention of giving George what he wanted, and was using him for sushi.  I should go.  I should stop embarrassing him and me.  I should tell him that I wasn't going to sleep with him.

But I didn't leave.  And I didn't say anything.

I was going to get my damned sushi. 

George came clumping back, and he asked if I needed silverware.

"Chopsticks are fine," I said, snapping the disposable wooden ones in half and rubbing the tips together to smooth out any splinters.

We ate in nice uncomfortable silence.  I offered some to him and watched as he made a disgusted face at it.  Shrugging, I ate a bit more in silence, downing my drink.

"Well," I said, shutting the cover on the take out box, "I better get going.  Early day tomorrow."  We had been eating for maybe five minutes.

I stood up and started walking towards the closet that contained my coat.

"Wait," he said, following, "You... I... " he looked around.  "At least let me drive you home."

"Hmm," I said.  "I'll walk."

He beat me to the door and insisted helping me with my coat.

"It was nice," I saidI didn't even try to be convincing.

I walked out the door and down the stairs, George following a few paces behind.  When we got to the bottom he said, "You know, I have three scars." 

I turned to look at him.

"I have an appendix scar, some shrapnel in my leg, and a vasectomy."

I felt my face freeze.  I had no response for that.  Really?  He faltered under my gaze.  I didn't even try to pretend that I gave a shit.

I opened my mouth, "Neat," I said.

His shoulders slumped as he deflated, and I walked out the door, my box of sushi clutched tightly in my arms.  I didn't look back.

Monday, October 15, 2012

November is Coming

It's getting to be that time of year again... Some people get depressed when the weather changes and the days grow shorter... I tend to find myself in the opposite predicament.  Suddenly, I am Absolutely Certain that I will succeed at everything I try, that I am an amazing artist and writer, and that I should Do Something About It.


Let's just overload our schedule, shall we?

First, it's NaNoWriMo time again... that is, National Novel Writing Month in November.

Last year I won.  I wrote 54-odd thousand words in 30 days.  I made promises to my imaginary friends (my fellow bloggers) to allow a select few to read and edit the thing.

And then I quietly never mentioned it again and hoped no one would ask.

It was...

Not good.

But I did it.  I wrote a novel!  In a month!

This year I am planning.  I have a plot (I KNOW, right? A plot?).   I have characters I already love, and a few that I hate.  And one that terrifies me.

I have a setting... where it's cold and dark and airless.  Where the world ended, but everyone tried to pretend it didn't.

I am terribly, terribly excited about it.

I am going to write another novel!  This November! And this one should be something I can share with others! 

Draw a picture every day?  That sounds like a good idea, doesn't it?

I know!  I'll do it in November!  Because I won't have enough to do!



So... I'll be posting my progress, pictures, and the eventual collapse of my psyche.

Sounds fun, right?

Oh, and here's an octopus.

Because octopuses (yes, that is the correct plural) are cool.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Let's go Camping in the Scary Woods

Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Commune with nature. 

Smell the flowers and... treesap and stuff like that...

Just us and the great outdoors... no TV or internet, no phone... no escape.. just some good companions and the Big Scary Woods.

"Us," was my parents, Boyfriend, and me.  Oh, and the dog, Bonnie. Who had never in her 12 years of life been camping before.

What could possibly go wrong?

We went to one of my favorite places to ski in the winter time.  It's an old logging road turned wilderness area called Sawmill (because people around here are very creative with naming things).

Since it isn't exactly a trail so much as an overgrown road with random turnoffs that lead nowhere, disappearing directions, and inconclusive maps, it's a fine  for skiing... It's wide (so you run into fewer trees), doesn't have much of a slope, and you can follow your tracks home should you get turned around.

In the summertime, Sawmill looks like a road in places, and sometimes looks like a field, and sometimes looks like you're just plain lost. On the plus side, there are rarely any people out there other than the random serial killer hunter, which is kind of the point.  We would be miles and miles from help from the distractions of the modern world.

We hiked in for an overnight trip, and only a mile or two, so the packs were relatively light. I had room to strap my second best ukulele to my pack so I could annoy the moose entertain myself during the long, and probably a little bit boring evening after we stopped (queue ominous music).

Yes, we're skeletons.  What of it?

And we put a bright pink flag on Bonnie Dog so that no hunters would mistake her for a bear.

It was a beautiful late summer day.

Bonnie romped around the underbrush on either side of the road, chasing squirrels and pretending to be a great hunter.  She seems to enjoy chasing squirrels, and the squirrels seem to enjoy teasing her back. 

After walking for about an hour, we came to a beautiful meadow.

The air was crisp at 10,000 feet, but no where near cold.  It was surprisingly lush and beautiful.

(A word of warning... For those of you who do not like violence, you may want to look away, now.  Shit's gonna get real.)

(For realsies.)


I can't possibly know the whole story, but I can extrapolate a little bit of the story that happened before we arrived....

Molly Meadowmouse was the... Verna Vole... Polly Packrat was the most beautiful rodent in the whole meadow.  She had long, silky silver fur, perfectly shaped rat fingernails, and the most mesmerizing brown eyes you've ever seen on a packrat.

She regularly had visitors from all over the woods to look at her splendidness, and had a list of suitors from the Rawah Wilderness to the Roosevelt National Forest.

A picture of Polly outside of her little tree hollow home shortly before... the incident.

One bright September day, Polly was sunning herself on a branch near the tree hollow where she lived.

"What shall I do today?" she said to herself.

The tree hollow house was stuffed to the brim with her winter stores, and there was little more that Polly could do to prepare.

"I think," she said, "I shall go down to the meadow and smell the last of the summer flowers and have a picnic."

So Polly packed her cheeks with some snacks for later, consisting of a few seeds, a late ripening strawberry, and some dandylion greens, and headed out.

She hopped down from her branch and skipped into the clearing. There was a flat area a few feet away that seemed like an ideal place to have her picnic lunch.  It was near a tree stump.

As she climbed the stump, a giant black and tan creature emerged from the brush.

"Why, hello!" said Polly.  She was not in the least bit afraid as she looked at the creature.  She assumed that this animal, like so many others, was here to admire her amazing beauty.

She was, of course, wrong.

She had time to let out one small, surprised squeak before the black and tan creature snapped her pretty neck.

"Bonnie!  NO!" shouted my mom.

"Drop it!" said Dad.

Bonnie is a good dog, and did as she was told, dropping the soft little body on the grass.

We all stood around, staring at the little dead thing, and reminding Bonnie to stay away seven or eight times.  She really wanted to go back for more.

"Maybe it's just stunned," said Boyfriend.

"Um," I said.

Probably not.

I briefly considered taking a photo of the creature because I always take pictures of dead things, but decided it had been through enough.  We followed my parents and the killer, Bonnie.

Not long after the incident, we found a reasonable place to camp.  There were protected areas in the trees, but open rocky areas where we could have a fire in relative safety with little danger of burning down the state.

This is a different meadow than the one where Polly died.  It's like, at least 500 yards away.

We spent a little extra time setting up the tents because we kept changing our minds as to where they should be.  By the time we had them put together, the light was beginning to dim.

Bonnie looked at each one of us, and whined.  It was as if she were trying to say, "Hey guys, this was a pretty good day, but isn't it time to go home now?"

Our tents are much more state of the art than pictured.  Much nicer.
What?  Maybe I am a gear snob.
Instead of going home, we gathered some branches and started a small camp fire while cooking dinner.  Bonnie was slightly less than impressed, and kept trying to crawl under low lying tree branches and shrubs.  She stared at us dubiously while we ate.

We celebrated our CaveMan like ability to create fire out of wet branches.  And a lighter.  What, did you think we were rubbing sticks together or something?  Are you insane?

I suppose that maybe Bonnie sensed what was coming.

Because we were camping.


So obviously it had to rain for the first time all summer.

And lightning.

And thunder.

No, there's still a coal over there.  I don't want to burn the whole state down...

Bonnie wasn't the only one worried.

We scrambled into our tents after stomping out the fire.

I played the ukulele, softly in the tent.  It was too early to bed, and I probably wouldn't attract bears.

The storm didn't last long, and we all bedded down to sleep.

Bonnie was in the large vestibule of my parents' tent, worn out and passed out. Fires and storms are stressful for pups.

The night grew calm.

All was quiet as the moon peeked out from behind the clouds.

But wait... something disturbs the night...

What is it?

Something searching... searching for the dog who killed her...

It could only be... Polly the Packrat, come forth from the grave to exact revenge!

Four hours dead and the ravages of the storm were not kind to that vain and beautiful little packrat.

Someone would have to pay for this...

...Or not.

Polly had time to let out a surprised, ghostly squeak before she was eaten by Bonnie for the second time that day.

And Bonnie went back to sleep with only a slightly upset stomach.


As we hiked out the next day, we passed through the meadow.  There was no sign of Polly's body.  Probably some other animal came by in the night and ate her.


Polly Packrat is survived by her 40 children, 637 grandchildren, and 1,198 great grand children.  She was 2 years old.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Notes From Katrina: Evacuation - August, 2005


I woke this morning thinking about Hurricane Katrina. I don’t think about it too much anymore. Seven years has muted the intensity of that storm a little bit.

I didn’t think about how maybe we should have been better prepared, and how dumb we were to not own a car of any kind, and how stupid it was to not leave when we had the chance because I didn’t want to lose my $5 an hour job at Tower Records.

I didn’t think about how goddamned lucky we were to have a neighbor who happened to have a cousin who left their car behind and given us permission to use it.

I didn’t think about the mad dash around the house, or the realization that in order to bring my three cats, the neighbor’s dog, cat, and the neighbor, my roommate, my sister, and me, we would have to leave behind almost everything we owned.


None of that.

What I was thinking about this morning when I woke up was a single moment on the side of the road at the beginning of our 14 hour, 100 mile trip out of the path.

The Toyota two-door Ark was almost out of gas, and all of the stations were out.  Of gas.  Empty.  It felt very end-of-the-world.

Neighbor, Roommate, Sister and I were in a parking lot about three hours and less than 20 miles from where we’d started. There simply wasn’t enough road to empty out a quarter of a state in less than 24 hours.

Neighbor was talking to his mom on the phone, trying to come up with a solution for the gas issue, and my sister and I sat on a curb, smoking. We watched the traffic.

We couldn’t stay out here.

My mind leaped to the only alternative I could think of: Heading back into town and hoping for the best.

I felt tears welling in my eyes as I took another drag, and tried to will myself not to cry.

It was a very real possibility that we would die if we went back to town, but I felt sure we would die out here with no shelter and miles of bridges ahead of us.

I stared at my phone. Should I call my parents now? There wasn’t a whole lot they could do from Colorado, would it just be cruel? Maybe I should wait until we were back in town… Maybe… we could go back, siphon gas from someone, and come back… Maybe…

I glanced at my sister, her outside blankness a mirror of my own.

Roommate sat down with a sigh. He knocked a cigarette out of his pack, put it in his mouth, and lit up with a big, dramatic drag.

“Well,” he said, pulling his cigarette out of his mouth and looking at it. “Guess I beat cancer.”

My sister snickered. I covered my mouth and chuckled. Within moments, we were all gasping as we struggled to breathe through the laughter. It was that ridiculous laughter, that doesn’t make sense. The kind that keeps starting up again for no reason, the kind makes you look away because every time you look at anyone, you start up again.

Just as suddenly, we stopped, like a switch was flipped.

“So,” I said to Neighbor, “Anything?”

We did eventually find gas, and get food, and at about 4AM, we landed safely in north central Louisiana.

That moment was only a moment in a long, long traumatic day.

But that’s what I was thinking about this morning:

Sitting on the side of the road, laughing death with my neighbor, my roommate, and my sister.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Giant Centepedes and Other Monsters

When we were in Hawaii, we decided to go for a hike (my previous Hawaii post is HERE.)

After a confusing bus ride, a short walk up a twisty road with no shoulder that had directions that made us walk WITH traffic (and thus made my mind say in no uncertain terms that I WAS DOING IT WRONG), we finally made it to the trailhead, and this sign:

In case you can't read this, it says, "PIG CONTROL IN PROGRESS"... some other stuff  blah blah blah and then "Full Moon Hunts Will Be Scheduled".  Well, that... sounds... interesting.

Sounds good.  Wait, what day is it?  It is awfully had to keep track of this stuff when hanging out in paradise for a week.

I had checked out the hike on the internet, and learned the following things:

1) Bring bug spray, the mosquitos will eat you ALIVE!

2) There is a such thing as 8 inch centepedes, and they exist in Hawaii.

3) There are no large predators in Hawaii, and no poisonous snakes.

4) Where we stayed in Waikiki averages about 20 inches of rain a year.  Where we were hiking, a few miles away, averages about 280 inches of rain per year.  We WILL get rained on.

5) There is a fantastic view at the top.

What could possibly go wrong?


Maybe I should make a list.

Or better, allow me to give you a small snippet from my brain...

Do you like steam of consciousness?


Well, here's the turnoff... away from the tourists and kids, shit it's hot.  Is that mud?  I hope the trail gets better, this shit's slicker'n snot.  Why does it smell like pooh?  Great.  It's probably pig pooh from the pig hunts.  Damn it's hot.  And humid.  Why did I wear a shirt again?  I should totally be hiking in my bikini top.

Wow, look at that, there's no one behind us.  I wonder if this is a real trail, or if someone's just leading us astray.  Shit, I wonder if "pig hunt" is a euphemism for hunting humans.  I don't think Hawaiians were traditionally cannibals.  No, I'm pretty sure I would have read something about that on the internet.  

Don't touch anything.  There are probably big bugs here.  Oh yeah, eight inch centipedes.  Great.  Big. Giant.  Fuckers.  Why did we watch that Animal Planet show last night in the condo?  The one with the Grasshopper Mouse that howls like a werewolf and hunts giant poisonous dessert centipedes. The centipedes here probably aren't poisonous.  It would have said on the internet, right? The internet is never wrong.

Those grasshopper mice were pretty freaking cool.  I wonder if they are like, descendants of were-mice or some shit.

Holy crap, FULL MOON HUNT.  They're totally hunting were-pigs, aren't they?  THAT'S what they're doing.  I wonder if it's close to the full moon.  Great, I almost twisted my ankle, is that how they get you?  Leave all these roots lying all over the trail so you can't outrun them?  Pigs would totally eat people.  I saw Hannibal.  I saw Snatch.  Fuck, I'm gonna die.  I should totally stop watching so many scary movies.

And who the fuck decided that were-animals were sexy?  I mean, come on, people.  What's next?  Sexy Ents?
(I'm looking at you, Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris!)

Boyfriend is totally right.  It IS quiet out here.  I can't hear anyone.  The bamboo sure makes weird noises.  Like Ents or some shit, talking to each other, rattling and shit.  Or maybe that's the were-pigs signaling that they have some victims walking into their trap.

Fuck, I'm hot.  Oh, wow, this is beautiful.  I've never been in a bamboo forest before.  Why is this so hard?  The elevation is what, 500 feet?  I should be flying up this trail.

Eight INCH centipedes.  INCH.  INCH INCH INCH INCH.  Stupid brain.
It's a tree.  They said eight INCH centipedes, not eight foot.  What the hell is wrong with me?  

I thought this trail was only a mile and a half.  It feels much longer than that.  It's because the were-pigs moved the trail, they're totally going to kill us and eat us.

Why won't it fucking rain already?  Don't touch that, there could be a centipede.  It's a trap!  Wow, my shoes are MUDDY.

Wait... really?  We're there?  Just in time for the rain.  Fuck, yeah, we made it.  This is absofuckinglutely beautiful!

So yeah, all in all, a good hike.  I even learned some things:

1) Anyone who complains about the mosquitoes in Hawaii has not been to Colorado.  That or we were EXTREMELY LUCKY, because mosquitoes LOOOOOOVE gnoshing on some Leauxra (I think it's because I have Kool-Aid for blood), and I never got bit in Hawaii.

2) DO NOT CONFUSE the word "inch" and "foot" in your head, or you will spend  the entire hike worried about eight foot centepedes.

3) There are no large dangerous animals in Hawaii, except probaby were-pigs, and that they hunt on Wednesdays, Sundays, and during the full moon.

4) There are places in the world where the rain is warm, and it isn't terrible to walk in it.

5) There really is a fantastic view from the top.

See?  Paradise.  Told you.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Celebrity Diet

I braved the Wal-Mart (and yes, there is a "the" in front of "the Wal-Mart"... it doesn't sound right if you don't say it that way) last weekend.

Originally we were going to go camping, but the sky was doing this:

Actual photo of the sky above my house.
So we decided to get the car out of the garage, and use the space to brew beer instead.

Sitting around the turkey frier while the wort boils is pretty much more awesome than camping.  Especially when it's in the garage with the door up and you collect 9 gallons of rain water in about three minutes from the one of the gutters for later use on the garden.  Especially when it is the first real rain in a few months, and the mountains are all flooding, and the lightning is making your teeth rattle it's so close.
We had such a good time, and another three empty kegs to be filled that we decided we were going to do it again the next day.

I decided, though, that we are also desperately low on cider.  The alcoholic kind, I mean.

So we went to the Wal-Mart for the main ingredient.

You really don't have to use organic, single-squeezed apple juice from happy trees in Eden.  Any old thing will do provided it doesn't contain any preservatives stronger than ascorbic acid.

Things are never as fast as you would imagine them to be at the Wal-Mart.  If you go to the express lane, you are guaranteed to be behind at least one person who is an extreme couponer, someone else using who wants to split the $12 total between cash, a card, and a check (I really was tempted to just pay for his purchase, but he was a little bit scary), and a checker who is so happy to be there that they are in a coma.


I was in line for a Very Long Time.

"Is that your favorite drink?"

It took me a moment to realize that the guy behind me in line was talking to me.

I eyed him cautiously.  He didn't look crazy, or even weird in any way, which was strange in and of itself.  Just a normal young guy.

"Oh," I said, looking down at my cart.  "Yeah, well, I'm trying that new celebrity diet.  All apple juice, all the time."

He stared at me for a moment, confused, and then laughed.  "Good one!" he said.

I smiled.

I turned away as it was my turn in line.  "There's 8 of these," I said.

The cashier sighed, and swiped the bottle 8 times.  She was not interested.

How to Make Hard Cider:

1) Clean the shit out of all your stuff.  Uninvited Microbes = Bad Juju.

2) Pour your FuckLoad of apple juice into your fermenter.  In this case, a plastic carboy.

This takes concentration.  And a funnel.  Unless you really like sticky cement.
3) Admire your nearly 6 gallons of apple juice.  This is approximately 398,476% of your daily recommended value of vitamin C.

The foam is the cleaner/sanitizer, specially formulated to make the ale yeast happy.

4) Aerate the juice.  That means getting some bubbles.  Shaking 6 gallons of liquid is hard.

My head is HUGE in this picture.
5) Add the yeast.  Any old yeast will do, but we actually want this to taste good and not be too alcoholic, so we went with an ale yeast.

Stop staring at my wrinkly thumb.  They're double jointed so I have alien hands.
Just pour it in.  Millions of little yeasties will eat sugar and shit alcohol and carbon dioxide.  Appetizing, yes?
6) After mixing again, put a bung in the top (that's what's the lid is called, I promise), and add some way to let air out.  If you don't do this, your bottle will explode and you will have a juice fountain in the basement.

In this case, we used a food grade plastic hose, and a small bucket of water.  This will allow carbon dioxide to leave, but no nasty little bacterias or wild yeasts to get in.

7) Store in a cool, dry place until it stops bubbling in about 2 weeks, or you're sick of waiting.

Two beers and a cider hanging out in the basement.

8) Later, we will put these guys into kegs and pressurize with CO2 to give it bubbles.  There are other ways to get the bubbles, but that is the easiest.

Apparently in Colorado, you can homebrew something like 200 gallons of beer per year for "personal use".  This is about 15 gallons, or 13 twelve-packs of beer (and cider) brewing in the basement.

Whoever it is that needs 200 gallons is some kind of impressive, really.