Toad in the Hole April 2007 Archives

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April 29, 2007


Today I got to say Thank You to someone who'd been involved at the lab-test and worldwide-test-mailing level of the development of the HPV vaccine.

Gods but I love horticulture.

Posted at 06:01 AM | Comments (2)

April 27, 2007

Link of the Week

Where has Paleo-Future been all my life?

h/t Making Light

Posted at 09:55 PM | Comments (1)

La Masseuse Dangereuse

I was trying to roll the kinks out of my neck after doing some weeding today, and thought about that old joke about being held together only by tension. Might be true. I had a hint about it during the late unpleasantness.

After it was over at Jackson Memorial, Joe and Julie and I drove back from Miami to Orlando, about three hours mostly on the Florida Turnpike. We were received once again by Pat and Debra and their kids with open arms, sleeping space, shoulders to cry on, and lots of good food and drink.

Have I mentioned that this was one of those occasions that remind me that a family can mean a friendly conspiracy?

Late that night, the lot of us were sitting around the back deck -- this is Florida, remember; outside is pretty damned cozy -- and talking and crying and laughing and remembering and venting. I'd had a beer with dinner, and another or two, and Pat had thoughtfully stocked a bottle of Jack Daniels so I had a shot or two of that too. I was still coherent, mind you, and able to walk around OK in a crowded space. At my age, I do know something about pacing.

My niece Angela was there. She's completing a course in massage school. (Must be a serious one: She knows at least as much about human anatomy as I do from nursing practice, just e.g.) She decided we all needed at least neck/back rubs, and as I recall she started with me.

I'd walked over to sit on a footstool, sat up and stretched -- I tend to hunch over defensively in stressful situations such as the entire previous week -- and she set to work on my trapezius muscles, up around my neck. My, that felt good. Then she started working down the muscles along my spine.

When she hit some place on the left just below my shoulder blades, I collapsed. Fell forward as if I'd been poleaxed. Every damned muscle in my body just stretched out and let go. Blam, head between my knees, helpless. I remember her saying, "Omigod, I broke her!"

I think I managed to mumble, "No, you just hit the Off switch." Joe and Pat -- and I think someone else -- got hold of me before I fell all the way over, and dragged me off to bed. I was totally helpless. I could barely get my feet over the doorsill. Fortunately, we were sleeping that night on a mattress on the floor; if I'd had to get a leg up and climb into a "real" bed I'm not sure what would've happened.

I woke up the next morning feeling unreasonably good, physically at least.

Posted at 06:29 AM | Comments (5)

April 25, 2007

Answering Sara's Question

Since this browser won't keep my links when I put them in the Comments field and Joe's at the laptop:

Sara, I suspect it was fiberglass, though it looked like ceramic. The eyes were, well, lightbulb-sized, just for scale.

I cruised around and found more photos of the whole garden:

Right up front, theoretically.

Scroll down if you need to.

Also a blog; might be down the page a bit.

Scroll down the replies for someone's great pix.

A local guy's blog that I enjoy anyway; his business is a block or two from the high-end shopping bit of Fourth Street.

Posted at 04:09 PM | Comments (2)

You Might Well Arsk

Sara asked the musical question:

Looking at your photostream, I was also entranced by the octopus. What the...?

This octopus, of course.


The eyes really did glow too.

That's part of one of the exhibit gardens at last month's San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, a big-deal annual event at the Cow Palace. Someone reviewing it remarked on the visual pun going on regarding the shape of all those succulents (and some equally weird other plants) and the shapes of undersea critters like starfish. The whole thing had, oh, "coral" candlabras, giant-bivalve chairs, that sort of thing. It was not titled "An Octopus' Garden" but no one who wrote about it seemed able to resist the allusion.

The designers were San Francisco's Organic Mechanics, who always have a nifty exhibit at this show -- really fun to look at and generally thoughtful too.

Anyway I saw it and (of course) thought of PZ Myers. I don't think I ever got around to sending this to him, though.

Posted at 04:05 AM | Comments (1)

April 24, 2007

Not Symbolic

But I did like the attitude of the vine on the other side of the fence.


Posted at 04:55 AM | Comments (10)

Another Jeanne Story

Someone who sent Julie a sympathy card made reference in it to "the May Pole incident." This was news to me, so I asked Julie to recount it.

I was in 8th grade, Jeanne in 7th, and we were practicing for what was supposed to be this grand, multi-class May Pole Dance. We were in the back of the church, which was used as a gym when they took all the chairs out and closed the sanctuary off with a huge folding door.

Anyway, Sister Icantrememberhername is rambling on and on about what a beautiful, joyous celebration this was, and we were all just bored to tears, and Jeanne does her "oh, my," -- with one hand on the side of her face and the other hand drooping in a very feminine forward drop -- and the whole place busts up laughing.

Sister What'shername did not see this, of course, so she stops everything, demands to know what is so funny, and stands there for no less than 45 minutes, occasionally threatening the demise of whoever did whatever, arms crossed, one foot tapping...

Well, no one ever did give in and tell her what happened (as I recall), but the whole May Pole Dance thing was canceled. Jeanne was an instant hero to every student who really didn't want to do the damn dance anyway, and those that wanted the dance never ratted her out, for reasons I'll never know.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Posted at 04:44 AM | Comments (1)

April 21, 2007

You Know What

...really sucks?

That -- even so long afterwards -- when you've been in fear and suspense about big things that could go wrong, even after those things have gone incredibly wrong, even after you've feared the worst and the worst has happened, the fear doesn't go away.

That you stumble over something jagged in the dark and it's still the fear. That something hurts inside and you find it and it's still the fear. That the thing that keeps blurring your vision when you need to see the road ahead is still the fear. That the clammy foreign thing with you in bed, when you just want uncomplicated warmth and sleep, is still the fear. That what's sitting on your hands when you try to write, what's muffling your voice no matter what you try to say, what's breaking everything you touch, what's draining the color from the sky, what's tying your guts in a knot all the way up to your throat is still the fear.

That what gets between you and whatever and whoever you love, no matter what or who, no matter how much you need it or how much they deserve it, is still the fear.

You can't find the end of it and it's all over and the worst has happened and you couldn't stop it or even make it better and there's nothing left to be afraid of because there's nothing left and the fear is still there.

Posted at 04:41 AM | Comments (7)

April 14, 2007


Berkeley is just too goddamned Zen.


Posted at 05:26 AM | Comments (5)

April 05, 2007

A Jeanne Story

I've asked the rest of the family for Jeanne stories, because we spent a couple of evenings sitting around at Pat's and drinking beer and laughing our asses off at Jeanne stories. Our niece Angela sent me this one.

Jeanne would've been, oh, a highschool junior or senior in this one; "Mom"/grandmother here is my own mother.

I was 4, maybe 5 when Mom (my grandmother) bought me a Hollie Hobby play set. Perfect for the domestic goddess in training. It included a lovely bonnet, a cute little apron, and a tiny broom so that I could begin my domestic goddess training in style...

Now, I may be 5 years old, but excuse the fuck out of me? I don't know who was worse, the person who invented such an evil "play set", or the person who purchased it for me and thought it was a good gift idea!!!!!!! (Sorry, Mom, I know you meant well, really.)

Either way, there was no way, not in a million years that I'm putting on this ridiculous gender biased piece of crap!!!! Screw off!!!

Then along came Jeanne. Coming over to Harris Lodge (Mom's apartment in Harrisburg) for a visit. She arrives just as my grandmother and I are beginning to argue about it.

"What's going on???" she asks. My grandmother proceeds to tell her about our little disagreement. Jeanne tries to console both of us, and decides that the only solution to this mess is to show me just how cool my new threads truly are... She puts on the bonnet, she ties the apron around her tiny little waist, but not covering up her leather belt with the beer tab buckle.

I tell her she looks great and that she should keep it. It really compliments her glittery cobra shirt and her clogs... So she thanked me and wore it all day. As each hour passed, I grew more and more envious, and started seeing the "coolness" of that apron and bonnet.

I then started to think, "Hey, I don't have to sweep with the broom, I can ride on it around the house." I wanted it back. I wanted it back so badly that I was sulking, but far too stubborn to let on my feelings.

So, as Jeanne was leaving, walking out the door in the bonnet and apron, carrying my broom, I stopped her and said, "Are you really going to take that?" (big crocodile tears in my eyes)

She said "Well, you said I can have it, I was going to wear it out tonight, but if you want it back, I guess you can have it." She took everything off and handed it to me; I immediately put it on. If Jeanne thought it was cool, it must be cool. Jeanne was so cool.

I spent the rest of the afternoon wearing the apron, wore the bonnet around my neck like the hood of my pretend cloak, and rode my broom around the apartment calling myself the "Witchy Holly Hobbie."

I was so cool....

This is the first vivid memory I have of her.

Posted at 04:30 AM | Comments (4)

April 02, 2007

No Foolin'

Due to technical weirdnesses, this photo is stuck sideways. We do not, I repeat, do not have a Popeil Pocket Gravity Inturvinator on the porch. Not even a cheap knock-off version.


Strawberries in November are all very well, but a truly disorganized gardener can pick tomatoes off the front porch in March. This is a weed in the Christmas... OK, the Labor Day cactus. I took the shot Sunday, April 1, and we'd already eaten a couple of the tomatoes from it a few days ago. They were tangy but not sour or unripe-tasting, and better than even those pretty-good organic cherry tomatoes that get shipped up from Mexico year-round.

Posted at 06:49 AM | Comments (1)