Sunday, October 26, 2008

On reading

Hey all, I was AWOL if you hadn't noticed. And chances are good I wasn't exactly doing exciting things with my time. The normal routines of life seemed to be all I was writing about, and frankly I was boring myself (and, most likely, you). Mind you, a lot of these tasks are things that make me inordinately happy (like mowing the lawn), but how many times can I tell the interwebs how productive I was without sounding like a drone?

I've started reading more... something I've missed in my life the last three years since moving into my home. When I lived above the bar, I needed to read before bedtime in order to fall asleep (and yes, there were times that plan worked to my detriment when in the depths of some fantastic prose). Conversely, when I moved here, it was so pleasant to lie in bed and listen to the crickets, night critters, cars driving on the wet, the shush-shush of I-80...

During the day, my attention was riveted to all those fascinating aspects of owning your first home: should that table go there? how can I maximize this space? yadda yadda yadda. So one day I decided to ask Veronica of The Words for a book suggestion. She said American Psycho. Ok, then. I have to admit it took me almost a year to really read this book. I would pick it up, read for a while, put it down. It didn't hold me, didn't grab me. Sometimes, it's just not the right time to meet a book.

Eventually, this summer, I finally picked it up... and couldn't put it down. I was sucked in. Now the 'problem' with me is that I tend to want to discuss certain things I read. And I wanted desperately to sit sit down with someone and talk about this book, but either none of my friends had read it or they had read it so long ago they couldn't remember certain aspects. But evidently there are two schools of thought: he did it; he didn't do it. I digress, because this post is not about American Psycho. Veronica and I had a written discourse (we believe the opposite of Patrick Bateman) over the course of a few days. I doubt we'll ever agree on that. But I wrote something to her on the topic of reading perception that she urged me to put on the blog.

It is: "... words are always going to be interpreted by whatever emotions/life experience a person will connect them to. I view reading books as making friends; for the duration of the read (and many times, long after), this book, these characters, become a part of the reader's emotional landscape."

I'm curious if other people feel this way about their reading material. Certainly not ALL books will have this effect (not with me, anyway), but I would very much like to know the books that have spurred this feeling in you, my handful of readers. Right now I'm floundering for something to read, and it's most decidely not a lack of books untouched on my shelves. I've started The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson and The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox. Unfortunately, it's just not the time for either book. Based on what I wrote to Veronica, I really believe the timing has to be right when picking up any text. And if it's not, then I won't get out of a book what I need.

So tell me what you're reading, what you've read, why, and what you are getting/got out of it. I'd love to hear it.

Who dat snappin' back? |

Monday, July 21, 2008

Nothin' new here, folks. The flood was declared "officially over" a week and a half ago. That, of course, only encompasses so much, don't you think? But it's a slow return to many toward whatever semblance of "normal" there was before.

Sunday was a big day here at Chez Cootera. I took out the trusty chainsaw and laid waste to the butt ugly bushes in front of my house. And THAT, my friends, was the easy party. Ozzie came over and began digging out the stumps. Victor, a man always willing to jump into the middle of hard labor, noticed the toiling going on (I was off to the side supervising and drinking a beer), and came over with a shovel. Those two guys got out three very deeply rooted stumps of the butt ugliest, nastiest bushes put on god's green earth! The only thing I liked about them were the hordes of little birdies living within, but they're resourceful little suckers methinks.

Any suggestions for replacements? I need to make up my mind pretty damn quick... not sure I want my little abode to be bald for too long. Something that stays colorful year round would be nice. And not something that bites (I've gotten rashes of pricklies just from brushing up against them while mowing). I believe we are in what is called Zone 5. The area stays in the shade through noonish, but it gets the full brunt of late afternoon sun (HOT). A mix of stuff would be nice. Anyway, I'll take any and all ideas from you, so let me know!

Who dat snappin' back? |

Monday, June 16, 2008

In brief

Hey all. Well, it's a crazy mess here in Iowa City/Coralville. Luckily, even though I live on a road that t-bones into Dubuque Street and the Iowa River, I'm at the top of the hill, so I'm staying high and dry (so to speak). It looks like we're going to have largely dry weather this week and I believe the river crested yesterday. Now it's just the slow wait for the levels to go down.

While I count my blessings, it's dire for so many and I feel a great deal of sympathy for those affected by the flood. At some point I may post some pictures, but frankly, my guess is anyone who wants to see the devastation to Iowa can google it.

The University has suspended classes until Monday the 24th. Non-essential personnel have been told to not come in to work, so I'm off this week with pay (which is nice). But after a week and a half of vacation, I'm READY to go back. Unfortunately, Jessup Hall has no power, so I've communicated to my boss that as soon as we have juice again, I'm going in. In the meantime, I guess I'll weed the gardens and clean out my gutters. Here's hoping you are all doing well out there in Blogland.

Who dat snappin' back? |

Friday, May 30, 2008

I need a vacation...

... and luckily, I'm getting one soon. In seven days and counting, my dear friend Blake, in dire need of a respite from Seattle, will be here for a long weekend (although the forecast is calling for yet more wretched rain). And while he needs the time relaxing more than me, this gal is anticipating the time off more than Das Poog looks forward to going to Grandma's house where all the treats live with The Most Benevolent Dog-Woman On Earth.

But let me tell you: there is nothing like the imminent arrival of someone in your home to realize what a poogsty it is. All of a sudden it hits: the antique bottle collection from your grandfather is in serious need of dusting. The other bedroom needs its floor back from all the crap that's way too easy to "store" in there. The dust rhinos need herding and sucked up the elephant trunk of the Hoover. The sofa needs to be spurned and burned 'cuz there just ain't enough Febreeze in the world to tame Gus' body odor, drool and lordy-knows-what. Sweeping, dusting, washing, junking... it becomes a strange mantra. And with each load of crap that gets hauled away, you think you're that much closer to done. Hell no. Because then there's the best room of the house... the yard.

This past weekend I snipped all the suckers off the Japanese tree lilacs, mowed, pruned the maple (that grows faster than the creeping charlie in the back yard), planted cannas, transplanted ferns, filled the porch box with vinca vines and ageratum and laid field stone. I found time to have cocktails, too. Of course. And go to a party. To have more cocktails. But there's so much more to be done. And I, alas, am only one woman. Torn between two clovers... feelin' like a fool...

Anyway, Jason laughingly said I have OCD regarding my yard. He might have something there and that's just fine. But it's inside these four walls that are wigging me. Have you ever noticed that the more work you do on something, thirty other things beg for attention? The more you clean, the more dirt appears? My house will never be perfect like my sister's McMansion. It will never be sterile like my mom's condo. I'm starting to realize that pigpennedness is part of my personality. I live in my humble abode and dammit, I LOVE IT. It's homey and it's mine. Y'all can come to my home and not be afeared of trackin' in or makin' a mess. That's the poog's job.

Welcome to Chez GHOSTRADISH. It's time for a cocktail.

Who dat snappin' back? |

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


A friend of mine sent me a link of some Flickr photos a friend of his had posted. I don't know his friend, though back in the day, I damn well should have. Circles were small then. And these pics revealed a horde of my friends from 'back then'. It was a punch in the gut. There I was at work, poring over grant accounts and general expense budgets, working on summer course approvals (that should have been done MONTHS ago except for the shifting whimsy of my faculty), when BOOM! This tiny blue underlined thang. That I clicked on. And was immediately transported to 1988... or somewhere thereabouts.

Take, for instance, this picture. The guy leaning on the bike is Hood. We never dated, but hung out a lot for awhile. I spent many an hour on the back of his bike. Too bad it's an old far-off photo and that he's wearing sunglasses. This guy had the most piercing eyes. I ran into him at Gabe's a gazillion years ago... he'd been in a motorcycle accident. Went airborne and through a billboard. They had to pull his face down from his forehead. We kept staring at each other across the bar, and he finally came over. "Hi, Angie." It took a minute. But his eyes were the same. I don't know what happened to him after that night.

The guy here is my ex-boyfriend, Simon. Foreground is Geoff, and I can't tell, but I think he's talking to Digger. That might be Christi with the red hair.
There is no point to this post. Just that I'm caught up in a time that doesn't exist anymore. Remembering that we all used to be young once. That seeing these pictures, these people... just makes me feel incredibly nostalgic for a time when I was young and stupid. And damn... I miss these people.

Who dat snappin' back? |

Monday, April 07, 2008

I'm baaaaack... ostensibly

My computer has been at death's door knocking loudly for a long, long time. Alas, my dear friend installed a new hard drive, and after a wee bit more dinkling with the darn thing, IT WORKS. So a ginormous THANK YOU goes to MAK. I can now check in and see what's happening in the macroscosms of Blogland. I can play Scrabulous on Facebook (where good ol' Lois Lane kicks my ASS 9 out of 10 games). My rich inner world is finally complete again.


Now for some updates:

Gus goes to the vet tomorrow for boosters. Doc will yell at me because I don't think Das Poog has lost any of the weight he gained at my mom's. Ah well. He IS big-boned.

The elbow is ok. I can bend it enough to scratch the top of my head. Still can't pick my nose, though, so in my book, the damn thing is still fairly useless.

There's an employee meeting going on RIGHT NOW at the bar in which I work. I never go to these things, but I told my boss I want to cut back from that one day a week to every other week. I may not have a job there in the next half hour or so. Would that make me sad? No. Not really.

I'm up for a performance review at my JOB job. Considering the above disclosure, I hope for a good raise.

It was my mom's b-day on Saturday. She's 64... and acts like 46. I love you, Mom.

My dad still isn't speaking to me. I've lost count of how many weeks it's been. I love you, Dad. Now pick up the damn phone and quit being such a baby. 'Cuz he started it.

Soon, the butt ugly bushes in my front yard will be annihilated. I'm taking a chain saw to those nasty bastards. Thinking about putting in some boxwoods, but I'm open to suggestions from any master gardeners out there.

Mom gave me 100 pounds of day lillies. I'm still not sure where they're going, but figure there's a whole lotta fenceline that could be beautified.

And that's the scoop of stuff coming straight at you from Chez Cootera. Here's hoping everyone's week has started off in a phenomenal manner.


Who dat snappin' back? |

Monday, March 17, 2008


Inspired by Jim, I have added a book link to my sidebar. I, like the majority of thinkin' folk who enjoy the 'escape', like to read. They're your best friend for the time it takes to read them... unless it's completely sucky like Jonis Agee trying to write something poignant about a relentlessly pathetic character who has absolutely not one single redeeming quality even though she's supposed to be the strong yet vulnerable town slut finally slinking into to her one mule backwater hometown because of a painfully tragic end to her former pretend life and bitch doesn't have anyplace else to go because she's. that much. of. a. loser. Ok, 'slut' was too much. As was the time it took to read book.

Anyway, I read A LOT when I was laid up with the elbow. Seven weeks with your mom? Yep, you need the escape. (And DICKWEED or MRS. FREENBEAN: I really am just kidding!) Seriously, what's the one thing we can probably all say? And do say, I'm bettin'. It's: I wish I had more time to read.

Sad thing is, I actually do have time to read. Like right now. But I'm clunking around on the old 'puter and watching a re-run of 'Family Guy'. Just thinking about it, I haven't read a whole lot in the 5+ years I've had Gus. There's something about sharing your bed with an air-polluting space-hogging snoring furball that just isn't conducive to snuggling up with your best friend. And yes, I could be talking about past boyfiends as well. Alas, there it is. Gus. Usually oh-so content to snuggle up to me with his poop chute mere inches from my face. Poog poop chute. Not pretty.

I digress. Here's the deal: I hope, from time to time, to add a link to a book I've recently read. Based on that, I'd like to hear suggestions from you, my faithful few, of other books I absolutely must read. And with that, I have to say a little something about The Terror. Great read. Difficult moments. NOT a book I would have chosen for my own self, but my stepdad (the infamous DICKWEED) urged me to read it. And there you have it. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though the ending is... well, has anyone else out there read it? Oh, and here's the other thing: I'm not a book reviewer. I don't necessarily feel the need to give a synopsis of what I've read. I'm more likely to write fewer words about something I enjoyed than something I despised. So I may even add books I liked OKAY but didn't love. But I will never add a link to a waste-of-paper POS that I would feel guilty taking to Goodwill to the future misfortune of the person to waste 50 cents on it. Okay? Okay.

While I'm at it, DICKWEED suggested another book while I was chillin' with the 'rents: A Painted House by John Grisham. Loved it. Read it in one day. And get this: I despise Grisham. I despise him almost as much as Dan Brown. But he ripped up his writing recipe for this one and what a pleasant surprise. Check it out.
Now then, I have something on my mind. Yesterday, it has been TEN WEEKS since my father and I have spoken. We're in the midst of one helluva stubborn-fest. Without going into the gorey detail (which is so fucking stupid I can't believe it), suffice it to say that I'm just not sure what's going on. It's been SEVENTY-ONE days, people. I don't think I've ever gone longer than a week without speaking to my dad. And I know everyone is going to say shit like "Life's too short... call him" and "Just think about when he's gone" and whatnot. Or maybe not. Whatever. But (and I know this is childish), it's HIS TURN to eat that crow. I'm having a hard time believing that this man (or my stepmother) wouldn't at least e-mail me to see how I'm doing since undergoing a somewhat serious surgery on my elbow. Hell, I sent him a card on his birthday. I sent a sympathy card to the wife of his best friend. I've seen nothing, heard nothing from him. So I'm pretty bent out of shape about this. At that same time, that old man doesn't know just how fucking stubborn I can be. Hell, I learned it from him.
Now done with stupid rant and feel somewhat lighter what with the world on my shoulders and all...
In other news:

Well, folks, I suppose that's all for now.

Who dat snappin' back? |

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