The growth of the middle vine in twenty-four hours:
“Incredible” does not do it justice. (Click on the image for a Flickr enlargement.)
The back-porch vine — a potato-something — has been growing at Jack-and-the-Bean-Stalk-ian proportions.
It literally grows a measurable length every every day.
It’s difficult to tell, but the middle vine has already, within a week, reached the bottom of our neighbor’s deck — our “roof,” I suppose — and will soon be snaking its way across, eventually to drop down to the banistar and begin weaving in and out of its rails. At least that’s how we’ve run the guide wire.
Someone could kidnap me, blindfold me, and drive me to the parking lot, and I’d know within seconds where I was. All I’d have to do is look at one car’s tail end — the excessive number of bumper stickers would tell me one thing: I’m in Earth Fare‘s parking lot.
Organic is trendy, there’s no doubt about it. After all, there are only so many people who can afford to do all their shopping at a place where four bags of groceries can cost you $202, as it did with the couple ahead of me this afternoon. When you pull park your car, you’ll notice that the number of cars completely plastered over with bumper stickers is rivaled only by the number of Lexuses (Lexi?), Mercs, and assorted vehicles that probably cost more per month to insure than I pay for my monthly rent.
Still, stores like The Good Life and Earth Fare ideally cater to their original, dreadlocked clientele. That’s why there’s a balding, middle-aged banker or accountant — white collar for sure — outside the entrance playing pseudo-Eastern tunes on a recorder, with a henna woman set up right across from him. Even one of the managers has dreads to his waist and a Talmudic beard.
It’s all so, so, earthy.
That’s why I don’t like it.
Every time I’m too lazy to go downtown to the one good bakery in the whole city, I stop off at Earth Fare to buy a four dollar loaf of bread. And I can’t help but as if feel everyone’s acting. As if the majority of the people are shopping there to be seen shopping there.
Organic beer that costs nine bucks for a six pack. Organic beef that vegetarians buy for their dogs — I’ve heard them admitting it, as if they’re almost worried that someone might think, “Oh, what a cretin, eating meat” — that costs an absurd amount per pound. Organic everything. Vegan everything. Vegan beer.
I’m just waiting for the vegan parking lot.
We watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s last night — first time for me.
When Paul gets out of the cab in his first appearance, I could only think of one thing: Henry Mancini directing a mellow arrangement of the A-Team theme…
“Who cares about grammar?” some ask. That devil-may-care attitude I suppose works for some. There are a few jobs were clarity seems critical. “Spiritual leader” seems to be just such a job.”
Yet, uneducated preachers, it seems to me, are the ones most likely to follow a line of thinking like this: “My job is to communicate. If they understand me, then that’s all I care about.” You’d think if souls are on the line and all that a little more care might be in order. Apparently not.
Other times, grammatical goofs result in little more than humorously muddled texts.
The worst source of well-advertised, over-exposed bad grammar is the lyrics of popular songs. For instance, countless singers have used the subjective “I” instead of the objective “me” to make a rhyme. I guess that’s okay — it doesn’t really change the meaning.
The he/him and she/her difference, however, can make a huge impact on the song’s meaning. Consider two examples from songs I listened to recently.
First, “Hard to Handle,” the Alvertis Isbell/Allen Jones/Otis Redding song made famous by the Black Crowes:
Action speaks louder than words
And I’m a man of great experience
I know you’ve got another man
But I can love you better than him
Wiry Chris Robinson tried so hard to be masculinely sexy in that video, and it’s just difficult to imagine him deliberating between another man and some curvy groupie. But apparently, if the lyrics are to be believed, he did…
John Lennon did no better with the Beatles’ “If I Fell.” Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of two girls he’s interested in, much like I was checking tomatoes at the farmers’ market the other day, he tells one,
If I give my heart to you
I must be sure
From the very start
That you would love me more than her
Granted, it is a fantasy of a great many men to be with two women at once, but I don’t think Lennon had that in mind in penning this line. Or maybe he was thinking something along the lines of Chasing Amy.
In both instances, of course, the “lyricist” simply didn’t understand that they were writing elliptical statements. “I can love you better than he [can love you].” “You would love me more than [she would love me].”
Johnny Cash, however, had no such problems writing one of his best, “A Boy Named Sue.” The narrator’s father, just before skipping out on his responsibilities, names his son “Sue,” prompting the grown Sue to hunt him down. Just before his son shoots him, Sue’s father says,
“Son, this world is rough
And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn’t be there to help ya along.
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you’d have to get tough or die
And it’s the name that helped to make you strong.”
He said: “Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn’t blame you if you do.
But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
Cause I’m the son-of-a-bitch that named you ‘Sue.’”
I want my children to have courage (though not necessarily such foolhardy courage), but I don’t think we’ll resort to naming our son Sue…
He made a table once, which he gave to my father. I grew up eating at it. And that thirty-odd years of eating, banging, scratching, and spilling took its toll.
The shine muted long ago, and the color itself was disappearing here and there. It was a functional table, but little else.
When my mother decided they needed a new table, my wife’s and my impending return served as the perfect excuse.
“They’ll need a table! We’ll give this one.”
K loved it immediately. Yet, on more than one occasion, she showed it was a strangely conditional love: “If only you could refinish it.” Though I’d never undertaken anything even remotely similar, it seemed an easy enough job.
It was. But time consuming. Not to mention irritating, literally.
First there was all the sanding, with the accompanying, irritating dust. Getting it to a “raw” state took a couple of afternoons of sanding.
Sanding with a rotary sander is an art, I discovered. Like so many things, it requires a bit of pressure, but not too much. It requires patience, and a willingness to go over the same area again and again. And again and again. In other sanding projects, I applied too much pressure too quickly. The results of that afternoon of sanding feel like a relief map of central Poland: a few little bumps, but mostly flat.
Too much aggression and you wind up with scratch marks that are visible only with the first coat of stain. Which is why I had to start over with the table top itself — even 400 grit sand paper can leave unsightly marks if you go against the grain.
Once the sanding is done, the only truly easy part: staining. I soon discovered that even when working outside, I am so sensitive to the chemicals wafting through the air that a respirator was an absolute necessity.
After staining comes the real opportunity for true disaster: applying polyurethane. It certainly cannot be done outside. Polyurethane is a magnet for dust. If there’s no garage, a second bathroom is critical.
Once everything was reassembled, the feeling of accomplishment gave a high nearly as good as the initial, respirator-less staining. A glistening, beautiful table where once a ragged piece of — let’s be honest — junk once stood.
“Oh, what a table,” I remind K from time to time. She looks up with a smile and says, “Yes, you did do a pretty good job.”
At least we’ll have something to pass on to our children…
Camus was wrong: Sisyphus had it easy.
There’s little heroism in doing something when you know there’s no hope of success. Later critics called Camus’ creation “existentialism.” It’s really either stubbornness or stupidity. Or boredom. Whatever it was that kept Sisyphus rolling that boulder back up the hill, he suffered no delusions that this time would be different than any other time he’d done it. He pushed the stone up without any hope of success. Not even Camus’ modern re-creation of Sisyphus, Dr. Bernard Rieux, had any hope of curing any of his patients in The Plague.
Sisyphus and Rieux have the luxury of hopelessness.
We have a couple of plants that, in Little Shop of Horrors fashion, send out their long tenticles that wrap around just about anything.
The first plant is actually a pair, planted in an earthen pot out on our back patio. They’ve been climbing for some time, and one of the seed-like things (oh, I’m just too lazy to look up what it would be called) actually shot out two spouts.
We decided yesterday afternoon to rein them in a bit. Rather, like good parents, we tried not to force them to do anything they wouldn’t naturally do, and instead provided them with string to wrap themselves around. We guided them, in other words.
In still other words, we finally put up a third line for it, untangled the two that were sharing a previously installed guide line (i.e., a bit of string), and viola!
Oh, what parents we’re going to be!
Once everything was done, K decided the unruly plant in the computer/movie/guest room had to be tamed as well.
This time, K decided she wanted to do it herself. Rather, I was busy working on something else and she knew it would probably be easier just to do it herself. Rather, I turned up my nose at the suggestion of banging more nails into our poor walls and so K did it herself.
This site has been moved. If you’re just coming to “matchingtracksuits.com” you’ll have no problems.
RSS readers seem to be having a bit of a tough time coping, though.
The funny thing about working as a contract technical writer/editor for a company that makes air and water purification systems is that you get excited about finding the most unimaginablely dull titles in the local university library:
Sometimes our president just really makes our whole country look ridiculous: Bush in Germany.
From my journal, ten years ago.
I’ve been working with my host mother on the basic Polish sounds and I have hit a real break through in [the] pronunciation of sz and rz. It’s great!
Earlier in the evening I was trying to pronounce one of the many “sh” sounds and after several failures I finally threw out a last attempt accompanied by a significant amount of spittle, and she cried “Tak!” with great delight.
Learning Polish was unlike learning Spanish and French for me because it occurred in Poland out of necessity. Survival even. And so the result is that I know much more Polish than I ever did French or Spanish, and I have an understanding of linguistic subtitlies that escpaced me in high school and university.
And I can finally say “chrz─ůszcz” without drowning my conversational companions.