Lois Maxwell, who owned the role for 14 films, dies at the age of 80.
Half a barbecued brisket sandwich (light on the filling, eaten very slowly). Much gratitude that there were no more food scenes than there were. Pondered why there hasn’t been a movie with Edward Norton and Sean Penn as brothers.
Most importantly, by the time a main character was shown in the throes of cholera (including loss of essential fluids orally), the worst of my pistachio episode had diminished.
See, I still can’t deal with that word yet.
Would I recommend this movie for a sick person? Well, no, I can think of better ones. A movie about a cholera epidemic is not going to be uplifting. But don’t go renting ‘Horseman on the Roof’ either if you’re queasy. While the disease there might not be the cholera of The Painted Veil, although it’s referred to as such, there are several scenes to cause much distress to the nauseous viewer.
Tonight, two family members who never, ever bring home food unbidden, showed up bearing goodies. One brought a large amount of barbecued pork brisket, the other had a box full of Beard Papas. I had horrible gastrointestinal symptoms (see previous post).
On a normal day, I would have been ecstatic. I could smell the fine aroma from the pork as I headed to the bathroom in fear and trembling.
Much of the food remains in the fridge, and I have it to look forward to tomorrow, when I just might shower the squirrels with three remaining pounds of pistachios.
This afternoon at a very awkward time, I felt an intense need to throw up.
Thankfully, this sort of thing doesn’t happen very often. Only once before, as a matter of fact, about three weeks ago. What precipitated that episode was something of a mystery since I had eaten several questionable items. Just before I got sick, I ate a small bowl of pistachios.
Today was more of a clear-cut matter since I had not eaten that much by 5:30 p.m. The only thing different from my normal foods was a homemade (by me) frosted chocolate cupcake sprinkled with a small bit of chopped up pistachios. It was delicious. It made me terribly sick.
So there I was at someone else’s house, clutching my stomach, wondering if I would be able to drive the five minutes home where my faithful bathroom was. It was the worst stomachache I’d had since I don’t know when. The salivating thing had set in, so once again, that insidious question of which end arose.
Five hours later, I’m still shaky. Sipping a diet coke helped. From now on, I’ll remember that pistachios are related to mangos and poison ivy, both of which are my natural enemies.
Word has gotten out over the past few years among the pest community that my tomato patch is nothing to get excited about. This year is a little different, and the plants are still producing a surprising amount. This afternoon, I noticed that the tiny dog from a neighbor’s yard must have gotten in the garden and left its droppings on the tomato leaves. They were that big.
I had hoped that the hornworm had matured and gone away, but no. It had eaten most of one tomato and started on this one. But what I actually had was a free model.
Albeit a messy one, and noisy on top of that. Try putting one on a clean sheet of white paper. When it moves around, it makes a rasping sound, which could be the mouthparts trying to ingest the paper. Who knows. It will remain under cover till tomorrow when the light is better. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of tomato worm food.
By Ann-Marie MacDonald. Perhaps the darkest of the dark books I read over the summer (others were She’s Come Undone, I Know This Much is True - both by Wally Lamb, The Haunting of L by Howard Norman, and The Geographer’s Library by Jon Fasman.)
At the beginning of the summer I did not say, Well, let’s see how utterly down I can get just through the power of fiction. I went to a library sale or two instead of being guided by shelf placement or book lists. Were these in a bin diabolically arranged by a sadistic librarian?
About halfway through the book, I summarized the plot to a family member, who wondered why I would want to continue if it was bothering me so much. Due to the brilliance of the writing and a mesmerizing cast of characters, I was unable to stop. Their fates will take your breath away. And of course, when it ended, I was bereft.
It’s that good, just as funny the second time around, and clearer since I didn’t catch some stuff earlier. This time, I misted up at the end. Don’t turn it off as the credits roll, there’s more.
We spent most of the day outlet shopping, and had leftovers. But such tasty leftovers: barbecued baby backribs, duck legs with duck potatoes, potstickers from Cho’s in Palo Alto, beef stew and corn on the cob.
Beef stew that had simmered a long, long time. I haven’t laughed this hard at a movie in ages.
Yesterday I finally found the stuffed animal known as the ‘nose bear’ by its owner, who is now a grownup. I’ve been needing a large bear for photos, but this one had some cosmetic issues.
The beleaguered nose had been pushed in so often that it was deformed. Luckily, there was a hole in the neck, so with the help of a wooden spoon, I managed to perform some much-needed plastic surgery, so to speak.
I parked it in a spare dining chair, and with all the chaos that ensues with busy afternoons, evenings running errands and mornings that take off with a gallop at 6:15 a.m., I forgot about it.
Until its owner came out for breakfast, took one look and tried to poke the nose back in when I had my back turned.
There might be a photo sometime in the future. I could scream.
I seldom do, but the Bumbershoot crowd (every one of them, it seemed stayed at our hotel) was up at all hours, the Seattle skies were gloomy and the music on the radio was less than lively. The rental car had seats softer and more cushy than those of the family station wagon.
Luckily, there were no collisions.
I needed a few things, which came to $11.62. I had the ten out, and was reaching for the rest when the clerk (who appeared to be in his 50s) volunteered that I needed two more bucks. Thinking I wasn’t really that slow, I handed over the dollars plus two cents.
He froze. After he put the money in the register, the change thing at the top said .40. He fumbled around, rattled the change drawers, sighed, looked at the growing line.
Clerk: Okay, you gave me two cents.
Clerk: I owe you change.
Clerk: How much do I owe you.
Me: 40 cents.
Clerk: 40 cents?
Clerk uncertainly puts a quarter and two nickels on the counter.
Me: That’s only 35 cents.
Clerk: What do I need?
Me: A nickel.
I can relate to his confusion. We had a play store in second grade, and somehow I missed the lesson on making change. I would just dump a handful of play coins in kids’ hands after they bought something. Very quickly, the teacher came marching up.
But I had an excuse. I was 7 years old. I wondered what kind of horrible day this man had on Sunday at a major chain store, and how long he could last before someone came marching up.
Was it the roasted beets (been in the fridge a while), the pasta sample at Costco, the bite of mysterious melon at the Palo Alto market from the fingers of the vendor, the bowlful of pistachios after dinner? Whatever, my poor stomach began lurching around at 10 last night. After a few minutes, I realized the cookbook I was reading was not the proper material. Tried The Barbarians are Coming by David Wong Louie, in which the hero is a chef. Bad idea. Salivating a lot.
Took some Pepto-Bismol. Two seconds later, decided that was probably the worst thing I could do. Even when I’m not queasy, taking that stuff kind of repels me.
Got back on the web to see the best approach to stop nausea because throwing up is not my favorite thing to do. Google produced many links with the word ‘vomit’ prominently featured. Really bad idea. Salivating more.
Got emails from friends, one just lost her dad. Set about composing a sympathy note. Unable to focus.
Finally, I just leaned on the bathroom wall and waited. Afterward, I was afraid to go to sleep, thinking I would just have to get up again. A few seconds later, my system said, ‘Get ready, this time it’s going to be coming out one end or another.’ I could have used more specific information, but grabbed Taylor’s Guide to Roses, and went back to the bathroom.
Taylor saved me. I looked carefully at every lovely rose, noted which photos were not in proper register, noted which I’d love to have in my garden, even looked at all the old roses, knowing they would never survive in my shady yard. Meanwhile, the system subsided, and I went to the garage to get a warm 7-up.
All night I dreamed of a screen with the upper third in kind of a noisy abstract of random marks. I had to stay in that upper level in order to be stable. I guess my system was still trying to talk to me.
This afternoon I had to polish a silver spoon and fork for a photo. It is my fate (and that of Ishiguro fans everywhere), perhaps, to think of Stevens from The Remains of the Day whenever I reach for the silver polish. Just as I can no longer listen to Boz Scaggs sing Never Let Me Go without thinking of Ishiguro’s unsettling book of the same name.
At the garage sale down the street, Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much is True was on display. The seller and I had quite a discussion about the pros and cons of the book. We both agreed it was an exhausting read.
I read it on the heels of his earlier work, She’s Come Undone, with another flawed but fascinating main character. Not good choices for light summer reading, but I’m glad I got through both.
The only books that might be classified as such were The Monk Downstairs by Tim Farrington, and of course, Scott Smith’s The Ruins. Rose’s Garden by Carrie Brown. The Haunting of L by Howard Norman is too dark to qualify, ditto The Geographer’s Library by Jon Fasman.
After trying to get through award winners from say, the Man Booker awards list, I went back to the random book sale method. All the libraries around here have wonderful sales with by-the-bag days. A couple of bags ($4 - $5 each) will get me through months of reading with happy surprises guaranteed. These generally get donated back to the libraries, so it’s a good situation all around.
In the queue: Harry Potter, a 7-day book from the library which I foolishly checked out just before leaving on vacation, thinking it would be fun on the plane. This was the weighty hardback version, rejected at packing time. There’s a waiting list for Harry, but the deal is, if you can find it on the shelf or a sorting rack, it’s fair game.
If you should ever have to spend time at another person’s house when they aren’t there, be sure and find out where the main water turn-off valve is.
It will save you a lot of grief, especially if no one is answering their cell while water gushes from the top of the tank, inundating the bathroom and moving on to the bedroom floor. Lapping at the bedspread. The internet did not save me here because I was sloshing around, and honestly, it did not occur to me to google.
Unfortunately, the bathroom floor did not have sloping sides and a drain hole in the center.
Thirty minutes later, when one of the people I tried to locate finally called, he told me to turn on the taps at the tub to lessen the pressure. The tub began rapidly filling up even though the drain was open. Then he said to reach under the toilet tank and turn off the water there, but that it would be difficult. It was, it sure was.
Clean-up was not my job, thank goodness.
This morning, I dreamed that I had enrolled in a class taught by Martha Stewart. I was in deep trouble early on when she found out I didn’t have a maid, which I needed in order to finish our first project: an elegant party for elegant people. She kept making a dismissive gesture in my direction, saying to the other students under her breath, ‘She doesn’t have a maid?’
Then we got to the hands-on part, garnishing the food with caviar. I had the bright red kind, which horrified Martha. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Well, Jeez, I was a student, how could I afford the Beluga stuff, not to even mention a maid?
I woke up feeling low. But yeah, the main water turn-off.
The sun was a vivid red-orange this morning as it rose over the morning glories.
Someone once wrote that their world in the late afternoon looked as if it were immersed in a glass of iced tea. Smoke from the Lick fire is coloring the Bay Area with a yellow tinge murkier than tea, but promising sunrises and sunsets of spectacular brilliance.
We were only gone a few days. The squirrels removed the rocks from all the pots and planted their oak tree crop. In the kitchen sink, the Argentine ants set up camp, extending their reach to the dishwasher. The yippy yappy that lives behind us learned to enter the yard via a loose fence board.
It met my eye when I glanced out the window this afternoon. This triggered a huge startle reflex on both our parts, because the only eyes I meet in the yard are those of birds. In the case of this animal, its standard bark is the one that sounds as if someone jabbed a rusty but sharp, barbed spear into its rear end. It continued to bark as I coaxed it toward the opening in the fence, hesitant as I was to simply fling it over. From the safety of its own property, it kept up a steady racket.
A few minutes later, it taxed our hospitality again, announcing its whereabouts to all. I dispatched another family member, who decided to take the flashlight that is as long as a human leg. He reported that the guest departed in all due haste without encouragement. Another family member came home and patched up the opening. If the animal tries again, it will encounter a board with a nail.
Another day or so and deer would no doubt have come into the picture, starting with the bougainvillea and moving into the vegetables.
The women of Seattle have not embraced hovering to the degree that California women have. Time not spent shuddering in revulsion while wiping down public surfaces was happily spent elsewhere.
There we were, along with a few other forlorn passengers, waiting at the emptied carousel. Some had experienced this before and headed grimly for the lost baggage room. We lined up behind them. Two had one, one had none, we were minus one, and the heavily-tattooed lady had no child seat for her baby. A person with body art can look madder than a person without.
Luckily, our essentials (laptops, cameras) were in carry-ons. Would we ever see the bag again? The efficient woman behind the desk assured us that when they found the bag, it would be delivered to our door.
Back home, we counted our blessings: we were back in California, steaks were on the menu and we didn’t have to go looking for hotel staff in order to obtain toilet paper and tissues with a mixture of sign language and charades. If we had lost the bag forever, the bright side was that we could go shop for clothes. But we had no toothbrushes.
Just now, six hours after we left the airport, a clatter and rumbling approached the front door. Who could it be but a family member’s friend bringing two go-karts and a canoe with paddles? Nah. That’s only what it sounded like.
It was our suitcase, presented with a flourish and a smile.
Thanks, Alaska Air. Your man also told us we left the overhead light on in the car, a mistake that left us with a dead battery in a different car not long ago.