Friday, October 31, 2008

Elections & Other Scary Stuff

As you can tell from the photo, Spooky loves Halloween! (With a name like that, she should. It seemed to fit - she adopted me five Octobers ago and the name just sort of stuck.) She's patient enough to indulge me in the funny collar sort of thing and you have to admit - she's cute! You can't really tell in the picture, but the points of the collar are tiny little pumpkins. Spooky doesn't care, but she doesn't care for the jingling.

Tonight is Halloween and I've had the pleasure of distributing Skittles and miniature candy bars to a host of ladybugs, tigers and at least one li'l Tony Stark. However, my vote is not available to the candidate with the cutest outfit. Although the prospect of a horde of candidates running amok in my neighborhood pleading for my vote scares me more than a rowdy crowd of teens festooning my oak trees with quilted Northern. Trick or treat, indeed!

At any rate, in four days, the United States will have a shiny new president (barring lawsuits, of course - which seem to be an integral part of modern politics. Sigh.). I'm not going to get partisan here - vote and vote thoughtfully and you'll have no problem with me. But it has been a scary season, hasn't it? Advertisements that have accused candidates of every vice short of cannibalism have dominated the airwaves for months and there's a stench of desperation in the air wafting over several campaigns on both sides of the aisle. I'm ready for the whole thing to be done. And to the naysayers who claim, "If we elect (fill in the blank), America as we know it will be over!" I say, "Nonsense." We survived Harding's incompetence; we'll make it through whatever comes next. But I'm beyond ready for the supposed grownups among us to learn how to disagree without demonizing.

A girl can hope.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Fat Lady Is a Myth

Most of the time, I'm a jeans-&-sneakers kind of girl. But, like most women, I'm a mystery. Add to that the fact that I spent most of my twenties backstage at one theatre or another and you begin to see why my closet contains the clothes of any number of women. Who will I be today? Cowboy boots or pumps? Velvet or cotton? Stretchy T-shirt or frilly blouse?

Now, FryDaddy and I have a standing date once a week. Normally, it's a quiet dinner & a movie sort of thing. But this week, we went in an entirely different direction and went to Carolina Opera's production of Faust. Now this was something special - new clothes were involved, along with a visit to the spa for what would (if I were a car, which I am not) be considered detail work.

I hadn't gone to an opera in many a year and I know the art form has a reputation for being boring and difficult. Nonsense! (Hee, hee - just check out the Bugs Bunny take on it!) Opera is life writ large - everything is just bigger! The sets, the emotions, the raw passion - it's grand! And despite the icon of the "fat lady," opera singers can be downright buff!

What? You don't want to go because you don't speak German/French/Italian? Don't worry - most opera houses have "supertitles" projected above the stage so you can follow along. But if you watch carefully and allow yourself to get swept up in what you're watching, you'll hardly even need the translation.

Go on! Give it a try! You'll be joining 20 million other Americans - surely, something that popular (it's about the same number of people who attend NFL games - only with fewer people wearing body paint) must have something going for it!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Instrument of Destruction!

I've heard it said that a friend is someone who will help you move. I'm here to tell you that isn't quite true - a real friend is someone who will help you move a piano! I'm fortunate indeed to have a slew of friends who are not only willing to give up a chunk of their weekend to help me with a task that is practically a standard in comedy sketches (although this one is impressive!) involving pulley systems and steep hills, but told me repeatedly that it was "no problem."

In true Discount Knight fashion, the piano was a find in and of itself - some folks were moving and couldn't take the solidly-built 1901 upright with them. If I could move it, I could have it. This was too good for pass up, although it's been many a year since I so much as played "Chopsticks."

Now, moving a piano is no small task. It's a full-size upright and they built things to last back in 1901. As Victorian Marxist pointed out, "I don't know what sort of wood this thing is made of, but it ain't balsa!" The piano also has a cast iron (or brass, maybe??) frame to hold the strings in place. In short, it was a job of work and did I mention there were stairs involved? But my crew - Stacked Librarian, FryDaddy, Victorian Marxist, Binary Biker, and BeanCounter worked with good cheer and solid horse sense and we now all have a story to tell. (And no smashed fingers, toes, or other body parts!)

I should go practice my scales now. I better know how to plink out something other than "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" by the time the holidays roll around!

Seriously - don't try to go through life alone, even if you're not moving a piano.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Changing Weather & Shifting Tides

It's been a while since I've posted - that wasn't on purpose; things just got a mite cattywampus around the Nest. Since last we chatted, summer has ended and autumn has begun. It's one of my favorite times of the year - cool enough that it's prudent for you to you dig out a quilt, but the air warms up to the point that short sleeves are still a good idea by mid-afternoon. The leaves haven't really started to change here just yet, but there's the occasional crimson harbinger of fall on the sidewalk.

Even Spooky's getting ready for the shift. She enjoys the crisper weather - she always says it reminds her of pleasant times on the north face of K2, but I know she's making that up - her ascent was up the west face, not matter what she tries to tell you.

Seriously, I adore fall. There's the smell of wood smoke in the air as people christen their fireplaces for the season, pumpkins and gourds are everywhere you go, cinnamon spice candles suddenly replace citrus ones, and classes have settled into a rhythm of sorts. It's also an election time in the midst of a lean economic year, which can bring out all manner of cranks and kooks. (In my opinion, our Founding Fathers were very wise in promoting the idea of a secret ballot.) Just how much of a geek-sign is it that I not only enjoy watching presidential (and VP) debates, but excitedly make popcorn for the occasion? Yeah, that's what I was afraid of. Well, it's my TV (and my popcorn), so I suppose that makes it all right.

I'll steer clear of making this overtly partisan, but I've picked my horse for this race and you can rest assured that I'll be at the $2 window when the time rolls around. In my town, election results from the local precincts are posted throughout the night after the polls close - a gaggle of cold-defying wonks clad in wool coats (and armed with Thermoses and webbed aluminum lawn chairs for "comfort") gather at the local fire station to watch the numbers go up. I guess it's our version of the smoke-filled room. (Hey, waitaminnit - what's in that Thermos, Jim Bob?)

Go vote! I don't care for who (well, I do, but that's another story), but a big chunk of the world's population would ride two days on muleback for the opportunity that over half of us can't be bothered with. Exercise your Constitutional rights! No one likes a flabby voter!