Friday, November 23, 2007

Turkey 1, Merujo 0

...or, "When Oven Doors Attack!"

400 degrees of power, power, power!
There was a lot of swearing. A lot.

Eh, I'll live. Flip side of getting the burn is that the turkey was good, and I conveniently had an appointment with a dermatologist this morning anyway. He gave me some samples of stuff to slather on the oven door whoopsie and also gave me instructions for dealing with my flaky face.

For some reason, my right eyebrow (yeah, only the right one) and an area of my face where eyeglasses meet the right temple both get flaky and weird on and off. When I get one of these episodes, I start looking like some cheap Star Trek alien with brown patches on the side of my head. It was a quick diagnosis by the doc, and get this -- the cure? Use a diluted Rx dandruff shampoo as a facial cleanser! I swear to god. I feel like Jo Jo, the Dog-Faced Boy or Cousin It. I have to wash my face with shampoo. Go figure.

I have a little of the shampoo in question left over from a business trip to Canada a few years ago. Hopefully, it's still good. If I wake up with a luxurious pelt on my face, I'll let you know.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy, happy hand turkey!!

I know tomorrow most of my friends will be: 1)stuck in an airport security line, getting some "bad touch" from the freaks at TSA; 2) trapped in an ungodly jam on I-95, I-80, or I-shoulda-stayed-home; or 3) fighting with some angry suburbanite over the last good Butterball at Safeway. So, I figured I'd send out Thanksgiving wishes to you all now, before you head over the river and through the woods.

And who can say it better than Tom Hand Turkey, sharing the thoughts of so many of his brethren this holiday week:

Yeah, I'm a classy girl. And what fine work I can do with MS Paint, huh? The Sasquatch commented on his deformed feet. I just like to think of him as a very special digitally-rendered hand turkey in need of orthopedic shoes. No wonder he's so cranky. (The turkey, that is. Not the Sasquatch.) By the way -- that's a free-drawn hand. No actual human hand was traced for that turkey. I mean, yeah, I'm certainly no delicate flower, but I swear I don't have mutant "man hands" that look like this bird. I just have really shaky mouse skills.


Jerry: She had man hands!
Elaine: Man hands?
Jerry: The hands of a man!

But, seriously, I hope each and every one of you has a lovely Thanksgiving, no matter where you are! I am thankful for your friendship, your readership, and your continued support through my very strange life. May your holiday be peaceful, joyful, and filled with tryptophan and tasty carbs!

With every good wish for Turkey Day,


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Freecycle can bite me

I've been a member of our local Freecycle group here for a while. A few times I've picked up interesting things, a few times I've been able to give things away.

Sometimes, because I'm in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States (a statistic to which I do not, I can guarantee you, contribute) you see pretty outrageous things posted in the "wanted" category, like:

- Anyone have a baby car seat for a Porsche Boxster? I'm a daddy now, but I don't want to give up my real baby! So, if you have a spare of the one specifically made for the Boxster, let me know! (Hey, Daddy Porsche -- if you can afford to drive your baby around in a Boxster, you can afford to go pay for the Boxster baby seat!)

- My maid is going to have a baby. I'd like to give her a bonus of a crib. Does anyone have one available? (OMFG, don't be such a cheap-ass rich tightwad - pay for your maid's bonus yourself! Get her a damn crib!)


A while back, some a-hole on the list actually listed one of his female friends as being available and not a bad choice. Har har har. Oh, the jocularity! Giving away a middle-aged single woman! (Were I his friend, I would have been pretty pissed to know he'd decided I was worthy of giving away on the "going to the dump, but still has some life left in it" list.)

Today, someone posted that she wanted a bookshelf for her daughter's room. Aha! Well, I have three really old IKEA-style bookshelves (Target, circa 1992) down in the storage room. I wrote to her - twice - and her Freecycle-registered e-mail address failed. So, I posted a message to Freecycle, simply saying, "Re: Bookshelf Wanted - your e-mail address isn't working - zap me a message, and these shelves are yours!"

Plain, simple, straight to the point. Someone needed something, I had something, her addy didn't work, I did what I could to get my message across.

Believe it or not, the moderator for the group sent me a snippy message telling me this was "not a discussion list", that my post would be deleted, and I should get in touch with this person directly.

Uh... okay, bubba... tried that.

I wrote back and said, "You're kidding, right? Did you even read the message? I only posted this because her address didn't work." I'm just tryin' to help a sistah out here, people.

Moderator wrote back that he'd read my message and that's how he knew it wasn't "appropriate" for his list. Appropriate? It's not as if I wrote, "I'M SITTING IN FRONT OF MY COMPUTER NAKED, SHAKING MY MASSIVE GAZONGAS AT THE SCREEN AS I WRITE THAT I HAVE 15-YEAR-OLD CRAPPY BOOKSHELVES AVAILABLE FOR THE WOMAN WITH THE BAD E-MAIL!! WHOOOOOOO-WEEEE! SHAKE 'EM!!!" Apparently, if I'd just written "Available: bookshelves" and not said, "Hey, chick with the bad e-mail, I'd love to give you these for you kid!" that would have been fine.

Whatever. Frankly, nobody trying to do something nice deserves to meet Mr. Snippy Moderator.

Look, I run a mailing list, too. And I know when someone breaks the rules egregiously, you need to use a measure of discipline. But I also know you don't smack someone around for trying to do something good or appropriate, especially when it's a first offense.

But you know what? Life is way too short to deal with snippy people. Fuck 'em. Most of the people on this particular Freecycle list can afford their own stuff. I unsubscribed. Salvation Army can have all my old stuff, thanks. And the tightwads of Potomac can buy themselves Boxster car seats and cribs for their maids.

No good deed goes unpunished, kids!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Let's all come together

For those not living in or around this nation's capital, lemme tell you - DC is troubled. We've got crime by the buckets, plus corruption, foolish jaywalkers, angry bike couriers, those people living in the White House, classical music critics taking e-mail swipes at poor, defenseless Mayor for Life Marion Barry, and, sadly, one of the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates in the whole country.


To try to combat the spread of HIV, the District government has been passing out free condoms. It's a nice gesture, but the Chinese-manufactured, paper-wrapped rubbers haven't been getting a thumbs-up (or, uh, anything up, for that matter) from potential users. People are concerned about the easily ripped paper packets rendering the goods useless. You really want to rely on a prophylactic that came out of a crappy, torn paper package? No, thanks! (I'd put more trust in those crazy Polish monster finger puppet rubbers I found in a kiosk in Moscow once.) I'd love to know who the brainchild was on this paper wrapping job -- being environmentally friendly is one thing, but this is pretty dumb. Foil is your friend.

According to this article on, more than 100,000 of the freebie condoms have been returned for a variety of reasons - the paper wrapper, the hard-to-read expiration date, and the fact that these guys aren't exactly locally manufactured. Let's face it, this year in particular I'd pass on Chinese-made condoms. I mean, if they've got factories coating toys with the date-rape drug, can you imagine what could serving as lube on these guys? Yeesh.

But my favorite reason for people being suspicious of the free willy warmers? The tacky design work and slogan!

Yes, it may be that some people are returning free condoms because the graphic design work is cheesy and the slogan is... well... you make the call:

It is Our Nation's Capital.
If you're going to come together, might as well be here...

I understand the importance of the District's efforts to curb the growth of new HIV infections. It's a serious crisis for an already troubled city. But I have to appreciate that some people, no matter how desperately poor - or how desperately horny - are willing to say no to free love gloves because they have a better sense of visual style and marketing language than the dorks who came up with the packaging.

Free Condoms: Zero
Good Taste: One

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mocking Apple Products

I love to torture the Sasquatch, who is a Mac user, by calling Macs not computers, but "Apple Products." Now, keep in mind that, in another world with lots of cash, I would likely be an Apple person, too. But, for now, I just enjoy tweaking and annoying my friend.

Recently, I saw this fairly pretentious iPhone commercial that gave viewers the impression that the workings of commercial aviation could be altered by a cockpit crew member checking the weather function on his damn phone. My friend and fellow blogger Chuck, the man Beyond the Cheddar Curtain, works in the aviation industry, and he wrote an entry recently about just that commercial. The entry has a link to an amusing (and profane) parody of the commercial, which made me laugh inappropriately. "It rained for six hours that night."

Always Tidy Your Bathroom

When I got home tonight, my Spidey Sense started to tingle. Things were not quite as I had left them this morning. For starters, the light switch at the door had been flipped up, something I never do. When I moved in more than a decade ago, I got into the habit of not touching that puppy because it controlled my answering machine. The answering machine has long since been moved, but the habit of never flipping that switch remains.

Yet, tonight, that baby was in the up position. Not good. The light in my entryway blew a couple of weeks ago, and since I'm not yet friends again with step stools (not until the back is much better, thanks) I crept along the hall in darkness to see if anything else was out of sorts. Almost immediately I tripped over a box of packing peanuts destined for the storage room -- another thing I figured I would just carry downstairs when the back was less cranky. This morning, the box had been in the kitchen, out of the way of Ms. Bad Balance.

And then, in the darkness, on my bookshelf, I saw it.

That little yellow slip of paper that tells you someone has been in the apartment to do maintenance.


I fumbled for the first working light and read the long message from Darryl, the plumber. He'd come to make sure the new kitchen faucet was working. Okay, that's fine. (The old faucet had suddenly sprung several leaks last week, flooding the kitchen and turning the sink into a lovely fountain.) But, dear god, he'd had to replace the tub handles.

Dear. God.

See, when the back is cranky, the laundry piles up. Since the washer and dryer are in the basement, it takes a little more energy (and some arthritis rub) to get me up and down the stairs with a couple of loads of clothes.

And, this weekend, with the spine screaming at me, I'd gotten as far as turning the laundry into whites, light colors, and darks... all over the bathroom floor. And, I am ashamed to say, I hadn't emptied the bathroom trash on Sunday, either. Poor, poor, poor Darryl had to get up close and personal with my unwashed laundry, which hovered, unclean, in three piles like some textile Cerberus, right at the edge of the tub, surely terrorizing the poor guy.

I am so embarrassed. I really meant to tidy up yesterday, but time got away from me. And heat packs and ibuprofen were my best buds.

I should bake Darryl a cake -- except now, he probably wouldn't take anything I'd prepared by hand. He probably thinks I'm a total bottom dweller. I forgot the kitchen sink had pots soaking in it and I'd burned microwave popcorn yesterday, so the whole place had this awful acrid odor to it.

Christ, he probably thought I was trying to kill him with some modern day, apartment dweller version of mustard gas. Maybe I should just get him a gift card as an apology.

Guess who's doing laundry tonight?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thanksgiving in a Box

For the record, I'm not lazy. No sir, not one bit. But I don't see a need to go through a massive amount of solo drudgery to produce a Turkey Day meal for one person. Just like virtually every meat-eating, red-blooded American, I love the smell of turkey cooking - oh hell, yes! But I just don't see the point in messing up the whole kitchen for just me. Also, since my back is still pretty painful, standing in the kitchen all day is not particularly attractive (especially since I no longer have Percocet.) Plus, if you add up the costs of putting together a traditional meal... well, jeez, louise, it's damn expensive.

If fuel wasn't now as expensive as a gallon of milk, I would drive up to New Jersey and harass members of my family. Or I could join very kind friends in Virginia. Sure, I love the camaraderie of sharing the holiday with others, but this year, I actually want some splendid isolation. I am taking the week of Thanksgiving off (it's use or lose vacation time, and I have no $$ to travel anywhere) to write. I want solo time. I need solo time. And since a trip to the Arctic (with access to Marlon Brando and superpowered glass shards) isn't in the cards, my overcrowded living room shall be my Fortress of Solitude. This will be another Just Merujo holiday. And that's very, very cool this year. I can stay in jammies all day, slap rice-filled heat packs on my back, and write to my heart's content.

Even more cool? I'm getting Thanksgiving in a Box from the local Shopper's Food Warehouse. A little lazy? Eh, maybe. But let me tell you -- the lovely 12-pound Butterball bird they gave me two years back was fan-freaking-tastic, and it both fed me leftovers for ages and made a great base for homemade turkey stock. (Reminder: must get cheap freezer containers at the dollar store.)

Here's the deal, fellow DC-area solo travelers (and those bereft of cooking skills): you get a full family meal for $39.99 (you can get a "deluxe" version for $5 more that nabs you classier taters, green bean casserole and an extra pie), and all you have to do is pick it up at the store (you name the pick-up date/time) and reheat stuff at your leisure. You get the following:

10-12 lb. Butterball® Turkey
1 lb. Turkey Giblet Gravy
2 lb. Seasoned Mashed Potatoes
2 lb. Cornbread Dressing
12 oz. Cranberry Relish
12 pk. Butter & Egg Dinner Rolls
8” Pie (Apple or Pumpkin)

The bird (totally tender if my last order is a good example) takes two hours to reheat, filling your home with the super smell of crisping tryptophan without the need to check/recheck/baste/recheck... You get the drill.

I'll have Thanksgiving for days and days and days. It's really quite the bargain (says Sofa Penny Diving Girl.) And no sink full of dishes.

You can order online, arrange your pick-up time, and, voila, you're set.

I'm just hoping the morons upstairs won't be offering me any, uh, "soundtrack" to dine by this year.

If they do, I guess it'll give me an excellent excuse for opening a cheap bottle of Australian red and putting my headphones on...

Gobble, gobble!

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Zen of a Hot Shower

Foot massages, steamy sex, a pile of money... yeah, sure, that all sounds fabulous, but all I crave tonight is something I cannot have.*

A hot shower.

Seriously, for my money (little though that be) there are days when a hot shower cannot be beaten on the list of Great Sensual Experiences. When you are tired and aching, when the world has done you wrong, maaaan, a good steaming shower - with some bad-ass water pressure - is the best thang evah.

And, dear lord, I want a shower like nobody's business right now. Today has been damp, drizzly, wet-cold, blah, and it's kicking my messed up back like a junk yard dog. I can't begin to tell you how many times I reheated my rice packs and my Ohio clay, NASA spin-off heat wrap and layered them on my body to find a little comfort. The Aaaaah Factor would last for an hour at a time before I did the hunched over Yoda shuffle back to the microwave to start the heating ritual over again.

All afternoon, I kept thinking, "Hot shower and jammies... hot shower and jammies..." I was also thinking about doing a quick load of laundry and some dishes, too, having a need for Vitally Important Clean Stuff (aka "undies") for tomorrow and something to cook dinner in tonight. I was without a sink or dish washer for a few days, thanks to a sudden spouting of water from the kitchen faucet and the ensuing flood of said kitchen's floor, leading to a sudden lack of clean utensils/bowls/you name it. Yeesh.

Apparently, the old faucet had to be hacksawed off the sink by building maintenance, so rusted were the bolts holding it on. I wish I'd been home to witness that particular maneuver. The maintenance guy was so amazed by how much effort it took him to fix this, he left me a magnum opus written on the door hangtag that usually just reads "Maintenance has been in your unit." HA. He wrote so much about the hacksaw extravaganza, he actually had to flip it over to the other side to continue. I guess I owe him some cookies.

So, there I was tonight, ready for the good old Shower Massage to work its magic on my cracked back. Driving the last few blocks home, that was all I could think of.

And then, I saw the light.

Well, lights, actually. Lots of them. And safety cones. And backhoes.

And I realized that there was a really big pipe break just at the corner of my block.


Water was rushing everywhere, and WSSC guys milled in the rapidly chilling, dark, rainy evening. When I limped up to the door of my building, I could see a pile of notices from management on the message board. I went through the day's sequence to see what had happened:

1. A pipe is broken. WSSC has had to shut off the cold water to your street.


2. Actually, TWO pipes have broken. WSSC has shut off all water to your street.

And finally...

3. There has been a serious break of two pipes. WSSC has shut down water to the entire property until the repairs are completed.

And, who the hell knows when that will be? Guess I go buy some more bottled water in the ayem. For now, I'm just really, really glad I have a bottle of water for the brushing o' the teeth tonight.

So, in advance, I would like to offer apologies to anyone with whom I have to interact tomorrow. If I look a little disheveled, you can thank the crappy pipes down the street.


*For the record, steamy sex and a pile of money are ALSO things I cannot have tonight. The foot massage, I could do with the nifty Sharper Image back massager from hell that some friends gave me, but now that my mind is wrapped around a hot shower, the foot massage won't do it...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I understand spiders are supposed to be good luck

An IM conversation I just had with a friend:

merujo: I bought a bag of peanuts downstairs.
merujo: I opened the bag of peanuts at my desk.
merujo: I wondered, huh, why do these peanuts seem to be stuck together?
merujo: And then I saw the big spider web.
merujo: And then I saw the big fucking spider.
merujo: That was alive in the bag.
friendperson: ew
merujo: Before it freaked out and jumped onto me.
friendperson: ack
friendperson: did you bring it back?
merujo: Well, that would require me picking up everything that flew out of my hands onto the floor when I screamed.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


To the folks visiting the Church of the Big Sky from the Washington Post Sunday Source link - thanks for dropping by!

If you want a feel for what this blog is really like, might I suggest visiting some of the "Oldies But Goodies" entries linked on the right side of this page? Feel free to poke around and be sure to leave a comment!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Wings of Glass

I am surrounded by friends who give me inspiration. The Sasquatch has returned to graduate school - online and after work (consuming most of his time) - to get an MFA in Graphic Design. The Atomic Editor has taken on a new role at a dream institution where he can edit some awfully fine writing and put together one of the nation's coolest magazines. And Javi, of course, is overseeing the move of his comicbook creation to the small screen. (I have to wonder if Javi has to strike against himself, being a Writers Guild guy... hmm...)

Now, my fabulously talented friend, glass artist extraordinaire Lunesse, has a new page on, highlighting her beautiful beads and jewelry. Take a gander at the gorgeous pieces she has on her portfolio page there. Pretty rockin' stuff, eh? The girl's got talent, and now she's balancing her glass craft with watching her new kiddo, just arrived in August. I'm impressed. As most of you know, I have trouble finding matching socks in the morning. By the way, if you get a hankering to buy something that Lunesse has created, you can click on her store link, her Etsy link, or - if you dig making your stuff - her JustBeads link for, well, just beads. (If I had any skills at all in making my own jewelry, I'd buy some of her funky beads, but since I'm less than adept at such things, I'll just keep saving my pennies to buy a piece of her fab jewelry!)

Lunesse, along with being a gifted artist, is a tremendous writer and a damn fine web designer, too. She left a successful tech career in the IT mecca of the San Francisco Bay area to become a glass artist. I can't begin to tell you how much I admire her for that! It's an amazing life change - and one that requires bravery and strength of character along with real talent and tenacity.

There are days when I would love to chuck the office life and just pursue writing, but I have always been just a little too afraid to do it. Lunesse did it. She leapt off that cliff and found she had wings. Wings of beautiful glass.

I hope I am willing to take that creative leap of faith someday, too. In the meantime, though, I'll just be delighted to see what new things she and the rest of my friends make.

It's a wonderful thing to have creatively inspired friends. They encourage me to want to do better, to aspire to more.

I'm damn lucky to have such people around me, and I know it.