for those who are in or around sane

Tuesday, May 19

garden v 2.2

time to plant!

last year's metal buckets needed a revamp. my herbies and tomatoes drowned last year so i poked more and bigger holes:


i'll have more pix of the basil, thyme and assorted others at a later post. I chose to put the cucumber plant and one cherry tomato plant (as a social experiment) in the two big planters. they took very well!

pretty sunshine!

and of course, the grand experiment:

i have two bags of upside-down tomatoes hanging from the balcony above mine. they've been anchored down to reduce swinging and twisting and they drain rather well. the other two bags will go on the other side of the balcony. hopefully i'll have enough soil for them!


Monday, May 11

garden v 2.1

growy things!

this mom's day us ladies ventured to the local nursery and picked up some really fun greens for show and plant. i got excited about the herbies but i think i may have to go out and get some more. see, my tomato solution this year is to grow them upside down a la yelling guy's ad. this frees up a TON of pot space and will allow me to plant a lot of cilantro and basil - my two staples.

for color, i scored some pre-planted antique violas (one of my favorite flowers!). i went pre-planted because i seem to have issues with flowers. at least this way they start off with a fighting chance.

list of plants thus far:
tomatoes - cherry and yellow pear (i may try for a bigger red like big boy but i'm nervous)
cucumbers - plan is to do these upsideown too
basil & purple basil


Friday, May 8

april books

forever by pete hamill

this was a christmas present from my good pal e. she's loved this book for quite a few years and thought i may enjoy it too as it contains a subtle element of magical realism. she was right. i needed a really good story-story and this satisfied the craving.

cormac o'connor - half irish half jewish - was born in the ulster area of ireland in the mid-1700's. he arrives in new york in 1741, following the man who killed his parents, seeking revenge and adventure. what he recieves is success, a near-fatal wound and subsequently, the gift of eternal life. the one rule to his eternal life is that he has to stay on the island of manhattan forever.

i enjoyed seeing the changes in manhattan through cormac's patient and time-weary eyes. the author is a successful new yorker himself and lovingly wears away the years, mistakes, corruption and the beauty of the island's history through cormac's life and loves. some of the prose was a bit "too pretty" and saturated in awe but i didnt let that bother me. pretty much, this was the perfect precursor to my annual trip to the big apple.

pedro paramo by juan rulfo

that's my summary. you can read below, but... suffice to say, no need. just get the book.

i'm belated in my april book posting because of this 124-page novella. it's powerful. it's gorgeous and haunting... it's stayed with me long after i finished reading #1. yep. reading #1. i decided, after getting through it in 3 short sittings, that i should dedicate two or so hours to read it in entirety. twice.

rulfo, a reclusive and renowned mexican author, winds the story of the purgitorial town, comala. juan preciado promises his mother, delores, on her deathbed that he will return to her hometown, comala, and meet his father, pedro paramo. he promises to make paramo own up to all he stole from delores. what he finds is a whole town filled with ghosts whose lives were stolen by the same man. all of the villagers were affected by selfish pedro paramo. one by one, all open their voices from the grave to relay their stories over and over to whomever is listening. a constant of purgatory that pulls juan preciado down (up?) and into the stories that make the town what it remains.

as a lapsed catholic, i found the religion part of this story absolutely facsinating. as a magic realism fan, i found the book enthralling and compelling. as someone who has nightmares after watching horror films, i slept poorly for two nights straight. this is not a warning to others - there is no outward violence or ghostly encounter in the book. everything is so subtle - the true meaning of the word "haunting." it simply stayed with me and took over my imagination.

apparently rulfo took years to finish this story - honing and honing until each word and letter was perfect. the translation i read (the one linked above) is the best english one out there. this make me want to learn spanish. is it possible that this book is better in another language? i'd love to find out.


Friday, May 1

the bug story.

note: this was previously published on my facebook account, but since there's a few folks i know who dont have facebook, here ya go!

So last Friday I am driving home in horrible traffic, my sandals off (I love driving barefoot), sunroof open, windows down. Grooving along. I feel a tickle and I look at my foot and see a HORRIBLY LARGE bug with lots of legs and antennae. I freak the eff out and grab my sandal and start whacking at the bug while trying not to drive into the person in front of me. I’m swerving all over my lane and I briefly debate pulling over but don’t want to risk the bug crawling on my foot all half-gooey from my smashing while I make the appropriate stop.

The bug stops moving so I put the sandal down and try to recompose myself to drive carefully again. Every few minutes though, I’m checking the floor to see if it’s still dead. I get off at my exit and look down, finally feeling relaxed, but the effer is ALIVE!!! And it’s crawling toward my still bare foot! I grab the sandal again and start smashing, this time more violently, almost ramming into the highway divider (oops). And after that lashing, I’m SURE it’s dead. I mean, it’s so firmly ground into my carpet I’ll need a shop vac to get it out.

This bug. It’s body is an inch long and a quarter inch wide. Each of it’s 6 legs are an inch long and the antennae are longer. It looks like a ginormous box elder mixed with a bee. I have never seen a bug like this in Illinois. I blame my open sunroof.

Next day, on the way to work, I notice another one of these bugs, curled up dead on the floor of the passenger’s seat. Hm. Interesting.

After work, I’ve done myself a favor and made a massage appointment. I’m in a bit of a rush to get there on time so I don’t open my windows to enjoy the breeze. I hear this… buzzing. And… crackling… and I’m getting that creepy crawly feeling. I look up into my rear view mirror and I can see, sticking to the rear window and seat heads are The Bugs. LOTS OF THEM!! They are crawling out of my TRUNK in rapid succession.

I break into a sweat and immediately tense up… WTF? Seriously? Bugs. Really. Ok… BREATHE… Where are they coming fro…ohhh shiiiiiiit. About a month ago my step boss (he’s not my real boss so he cant tell me what to do!) did me a favor by delivering me some freshly minted firewood straight from his forested abode in Michigan. I can see his face now:

“you’d better store this stuff outside, you know, just in case there’s bugs in there”…

No, I did not remove the wood from my trunk. In the last month, Chicagoland has burst full-force into spring weather, complete with emerging insects. In my car.

I pull into the parking lot of the strip mall where the massage place is, roll down the back window (in case they decide to nicely leave in an orderly fashion), grab my stuff and haul ass into the facility. I immediately turn around and ask my therapist and the cute young receptionists “IS THERE A BUG ON MY BACK!?” and of course…

“ohhh yahhh.. a really BIIG one!”


“Whoa… wait, no I’m sorry! I was joking – there’s nothing on there. You’re ok!”

“ok.. cuz…” I am in full whimper mode now “…cuz there’s a bunch of disgusting huge bugs living in my trunk and they just decided to ambush me on the way over here. I am SO CREEPED OUT!”

My therapist walks over and puts a hand on my shoulder. “It’ll be ok! When you’re done, go across the way to Dominicks and get bug spray. Spray it in the car and leave it be for a half hour or so. Just don’t forget to drive home with the windows down.”

“thaaank you…” I manage. And try my best to put it out of my head for the next hour.

After the appointment, I can finally see the funny side of this – how spastic am I that I almost kill myself while driving because of a bug that has done me no harm other than to simply BUG me. I confidently walk to Dominicks and buy two cans of Raid. One for saturating, one for fogging. I get outside and the rain starts.

Big Sigh. Umbrella up. March forward. I am envisioning opening my trunk and having a swarm of these things come tumbling out. No, no, stop that… Calm… I unlock the door, gingerly look around the interior and see… nothing. I pop the trunk, head to the back and, with the stick end of the umbrella, lift the lid….


I look inside. Nothing. I stand closer, examining the wood. Nothing. Fuckers. So I spray the saturate Raid all over the wood, fog up the rest of the compartment, slam shut the trunk and go to the drivers side again. Still nothing. Open door, fog… fog…. More fog… is that enough? No, needs more fog… shutdoorfast and walk away.

Now I start thinking about heading home, having my engine overheat and the car explode. Shit. What have I done? “Mom? Did I do the right thing?” I ask into my cell. She calms me down further still, no hon, the car will not explode. Just drive with the windows down. “But… it’s pouring.” Another Big Sigh.

After a half hour I venture back to the car, again gingerly checking the driver’s seat to be sure there’s no Big Bug wedged into my steering column or under the brake pedal. I crack the passenger window and declare “I’d rather have a wet car than a buggy car” and head home.

A few miles down the road I look into my rearview mirror… a bug is crawling on the window…