Thursday, July 28, 2011

Painting Project

Do you like the color blue? And the color known as "sunflower?" If so, you may like the direction my patio's going. Here is the side exterior wall---looks pretty bad at the moment.

Oh, and this is one of the two garden decorations I got at a yard sale (2 for $5). I painted it. See if you can find the bunny.

A bird that the former owners left for me, which I also painted. It's the blue bird of happiness, ya'll.

Here, you can at see how the two colors might work together. You can't tell completely from this picture, but the yellow has a little more of an orange coloring to it.

One of my jobs was to go around and paint into the cracks so that it was easier to roll over the rest of the brick.

Very little assistance from the animals.

They love being out in the heat for some reason.

We only got one coat up and it needs another to be finished, but once that is done, we can start doing the fun stuff like fixing the light fixtures and getting an outdoor rug and maybe some new  patio furniture and putting mosaic tiles down around the brick planter. Just in time for winter probably!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Reading: Death and Murder

For some reason, I've been on a true/fake crime kick for the last couple of months (I thought that would be a good first line for a short story. Something like, "The summer she found out about the cancer, she couldn't stop reading true crime novels..." Yesterday, I went to the Penn library and checked out a stack of books that I'd found online after searching for the Edgar-Award winners. The one I should probably read that I won't is Norman Mailer'sThe Executioner's Song.
The link goes to Joan Didion's NYT review from 1979. The book itself is about 4,598 pages long and weighs ten pounds. I mostly read while lying down in bed, so I'll need like some kind of special pulley system to hold it upright. I also checked out a book about people who work with serial killers and one called, Women Who Kill. I'm also reading one by Laura Lippman called, I'd Know You Anywhere. Even the title is creepy, don't you think? Another that I've started is  The Chatham School Affair by Thomas Cook; not loving this book, if only because it's thick with foreshadowing. It reads like this: "Later, after all of their lives were destroyed and many others lost in that terrible and bloody accident involving candles and Fluffernutter, he would think of this moment and remember that he had thought to remember it...." I made that up, clearly, but you get the gist.

Monday, July 18, 2011

News Flash: Older People Drive More Slowly

That was a news headline I heard somewhere recently--maybe while at the gym since I almost never voluntarily listen to TV news.

Were there no rescued kitten stories that day?

State College Revisted

We followed Carrie and Padhraig's little red car all the way to central PA this weekend to visit State College. I've been back there a few times since grad school (a couple of Christmases at Carrie's mom's house), but it seemed like it had been a long, long time. On Saturday, we went to Artsfest. First though, I wanted to walk through Heather Bloom, the apartment building/house I lived in for five years.Here is a picture of the door leading to the two bedroom apartment I first shared with Jodie, and then had all to myself after she and I became building managers. I don't know who's in there now. I didn't knock, but I was tempted.

Looks like not much has changed. Carl, who became the manager after us, is still in business. We met him when he first moved into the building and he was a recovering crack addict. He fell off the wagon once, and we had to take away the two cats he had accumulated. He climbed back on and I guess has been sober for a number of years. At least sober enough to cut the front lawn and trim back the bushes.Helen, who owns the building, is still alive. And, it looks like she still spends her summers in Alaska. She must be about 80 now.

Also, Adam Lupo, another fiction writer in my program, has clearly settled in for the duration. He's been in SC for about 12 years now. It's a good town--inexpensive, pretty, and you can make a living on adjunct teaching alone.

The outside of Heather Bloom. Jodie and I used to have to maintain the lawn and bushes and to paint and clean apartments whenever anyone moved out, which wasn't often.

The collision of my past with my present.

And this is Layla, Carrie's mom's cat. She has no claws and she will bite you if you mess with her too much.

The Willard Building on Penn State's campus. I used to each English writing classes here to disinterested college students.

Instead of going to the Artsfest, Padhraig went back to his old haunt and mine, Saints Cafe. Only grad students and former grad students allowed.

Here is Carrie with a morning cup of tea.

Clearly, these photos are in no particular order. A dog at the ArtsFest.

Some nature in Carrie's mom's yard. Find the chipmunk.

Another kind of nature.

This is a doll house that Luke and I arranged together. He really wanted to take one of the baby pigs in the house, but we decided it might be impolite to ask for it.

Find the bunny.

Oh, and two examples of the Pez dispense collection Carrie's mom has. Luke loved it.

So, yes, I miss State College, but it also seems like I lived there a really, really long time ago. It made me feel old to go back; not even because there were lots of college kids there, because I see them all the time here on Penn's campus. More because that way of living---teaching, writing, hanging out in coffee shops all the time--seems so far away.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What Happened Here?

Last Saturday AM, as I was dutifully walking to the gym, I passed this guy on the sidewalk:

I don't know how many details you can see from this photo, but just a few things of note. He's not homeless. He's nicely dressed and appears to have just camped out on the front sidewalk. He eyeglasses are perfectly arranged on his face--like, he didn't climb into the sleeping bag so chaotically that they are askew. He has a pillow. Someone went ahead and delivered the newspaper right next to him without waking him up. The other interesting thing that you probably can't see is that there is cat food strewn all over the place. That red bowl on the step has cat food in it and the rest of the Miaow Mix you can kind of make out sprinkled across the sidewalk.

So, what happened? I'm pretty sure that alcohol was involved, or else maybe it was some kind of What Would You Do scenario set up by hidden cameras. Would you stop and make sure this guy was okay or would you take a picture and keep on going? I chose option B.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

No More Going Outside this Summer

That's because it's ridiculously hot outside.I heard something on the radio today where they distinguished between the actual temperature and what temp. it would feel like outside. Like, actual temp is 98 degrees, but it will feel like 110 degrees..." I walked partway to work today, which was a mistake. By the time I got in, my hair was wet with sweat.

But never mind about that. I like this door.

Here is a cat eclipsed by the reflection from across the street.

A noble looking dog protecting his home.

And a cat with very yellow eyes.

And now, I will go dunk my head in a vat of cold water.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Trina: Here are Some Crappy Pictures to Remember it By

My friend Trina had a birthday celebration on Friday--happy hour at the Continental at 18th and Chestnut. We got to meet her family and her other friends. I tried 3 of their speciality martinis: the Astronaut (unremarkable), the Tang (wherein the martini is rimmed with actual Tang), and the Twizzler (red, has a tight circle of Twizzlers as the garnish). I probably wouldn't order those again; only because they were so sugary and easy to slurp down and because I felt like I wasn't wearing the right outfit to be drinking a martini. Trina, however, fit right in. Here she is with the waitress (behind her) about to ask her if she would like the $500 check now or later.

Lisa and Trina. These photos are pretty bad and for that, I blame the mobile app.
Lisa and Casey. Casey bought me the Tang martini. Thanks, Casey!
A few of Trina's family--that's her mom to the far right; you could tell that right away because they look so similar.
And Fanny and Trina, contemplating a stack of shoestring fries (I think?).
I took a few more, but didn't add them there, because they were taken post 2 martinins, which means they were things I, at that time, thought would be interesting, like Lisa's toenail and a blurry martini glass and a speck of dirt on the floor. I'm hoping someone else was more responsible in documenting the event.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Near (though not on), the Street Where I Live

In trying to keep the blogging streak for the week going, I took some pictures on the the way from the gym to work this morning. These are places or things I frequent or see pretty much every day, which I know my mom will appreciate.For example, we have Urban Jungle, a fairly newish development on Passyunk Avenue. I go in there periodically to admire the plants, flowers, sculptures, fountains, wind chimes, and bird houses. I like the idea of the possible things I could do to my back patio.

Liz and I eat breakfast here sometimes after working out. They have good coffee and they also have a jar of dog biscuits for your pups.

A potted plant. I don't notice this every day, but I thought it might be a cool photo.
Tasker Street, heading toward the Broad Street subway line. I have been going to the gym in the mornings for the last couple of weeks. We'll see how long that lasts. It is nice to have working out portion of my day done first thing in the AM.
The gym. Mostly, I just to the elliptical machine and watch bad TV. Pretty much at any time during the day on any given station, you can catch a movie with Drew Barrymore or Adam Sandler in it. I think I've mentioned this before, but it holds true.

The subway stop.
Okay, this is mean, but I can't help it. I see these two guys almost every day, either in the morning or after work. They must work together; I don't think they're partners, but they do travel to and from work together each day. The amazing thing is that the guy on the left side where's the same pair of Gap 1969 jeans every day. Or maybe it's one of 17 pairs of the same exact jeans that he owns, but every single time I've seen him, he has had these type of jeans on, with a shirt nicely tucked into the back. Today, I sat behind them and the subway and listened to them discuss some kind of video game or other; one asked the other guy how many lives he had left. I may be obsessed.