Friday, April 30, 2010

money-saving tip from starving artists #2: invite your 'in-laws' out to 31 cent scoop nght

what? don't know when 31 cent scoop night is, or worse what 31 cent scoop night is?


perhaps ice cream isn't as high a priority in your life as mine.
perhaps you don't list mint chip ice cream as your favorite food.
perhaps it isn't one of two reasons you're not vegan (number 2 being CHEESE!).
and you must not have had a big sister who worked at baskin-robbins as i did. seriously, for an eight-year old, could it get any cooler than that? actually, yes, it could. incidentally, my other sister worked at the hello kitty store at the mall. my sisters were demi gods in my mind.
a quarter century later (!) and still, i haven't outgrown my eternal love for ice cream. well, maybe outgrown isn't the best choice of wording here...

so i may have mentioned that the dining out budget has been severely reduced of late, in the interest of staying afloat. and yes, that includes even pints or scoops of ice cream.
pints or scoops of ice cream.
so how excited was i when i spied the annual 31 cent scoop night poster at my local raskin bobbins?
like it was christmas in april. um, or easter. like it was easter.
except without the depressing dead jesus part.

i wrote it on the calendar. i got nervous every thursday that perhaps i'd forgotten that it was the night before, then rejoiced in being reassured it was still forthcoming.
when jade's brother announced he would be in town one evening only from chicago for business, and that evening happened to coincide with 31 cent scoop night, i ALMOST hesitated to agree to hosting him for dinner (okay, i'm exaggerating here. seriously kip, i swear!). but after some thought, 31 cent scoop night became even more brilliant because not only could we get almost free ice cream--we could treat jade's family to almost free ice cream, thus looking like total big-shots. brilliant.

despite this month of anticipatory buildup, it's been an exhausting week of de-installing a museum show, in the rain. i know, a flimsy excuse for almost forgetting 31 cent scoop night (gasp!). thankfully, however, ice cream is never far from my mind, and as jade chatted with his lovely brother kip about how he always orders the same dish at thai restaurants--massaman curry--i related that i totally knew how he felt. mint chip always stands in the way of my venturing into other flavor territories. and when i do, i usually just lick my cone thinking of how i wish it was mint chip. and OH MY GOD IT'S 31 CENT SCOOP NIGHT!!!! DID WE MISS IT?!

no. we had not. but we only had 20 minutes to get ourselves (including my favorite disabled cane walking boyfriend) down to baskin robbins for this:

and oh my god, this!

jade and his totally impressed brother, kip--they look like brothers, no?
and we all lived happily ever after. the end.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

a sunday smile

rain and grey all day today. but this is happening.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

father's day in april

let's take a moment to talk about my dad. like my entire family, my dad is an artist-in-the-closet. both of my parents have strong streaks of creativity hiding behind their practicality that drives their projects. my mother used to bring 'shirt tree' hangers laden with be-ribbonned and silk flowered clips to sell in the waiting room when she'd take us to the dentist, then later 'fell' into business making a full line of tapestry tote bags and accessories 'accidentally' while making a pillow for my dad's car. there was always a glue gun within her reach as i grew up.

my dad's style is very 'now', very 'green' though he's always done it, and it always involves recombining old parts of things to create something new and totally over-the-top grand. most often i would catch him in action when i myself had a project i needed help with. in fourth grade i was to build a fictional musical instrument. guess who spent his evening with me in the garage duct taping pvc pipes and joints together and helping me tie on horns, kazoo and the like until the 'instrument' was taller than my nine year old self?

he really shines in the automotive-themed creation, as cars are his passion. oh, if only i had pictures of the 1957 'wheelbarrow mobile' he built for racing.

the email below is a perfect example of his talents and a reassurance to me that he will never give up this insanity that has inspired so much of my life--most noticeably on halloween, when i throw open the closet doors and think, 'what can i work with here?'

"Hi All,

Here are some shots of the BBQ that Bro. Allan and I have been building.

Allan did all the welding and fabrication. I sandblasted, painted, and re-inforced the trailer. The wooden steering wheel to raise and lower the grille is off an old car out of the 1900's . Inge (Mary's step mom) had on the wall in her steak house, and gave it to Mary for me, probably 20+ years ago. I had it in my office at Reliance for quite a number of years. It is lamanated finger-joint maple. The aluminum angle around the outside edges of the trailer is from a salvage yard in Santa Rosa. The wood table on the front is a two foot square butcher block off of our old dishwasher top.

The nice rounded corner, fold-up work space at the rear is made of a trundle bed frame.

The frame-work around the fire bricks in the firebox and around the grille is also mostly steel bed frame.

The trailer was a 1947 Sears fold out camp trailer, all heavy steel. You can't see it too well from the photos, but there is a removable 30,000 X 2 burner cook stove mounted on the front of the trailer courtesy of part of a Costco year end bonus coupon (the rest of the coupon went for dog & cat food). With the butcher block in the forward position, there is just enough room for two very large chili pots, one of which Allan gave me for my birthday - I think he wants me to cook for him. The stove also has a flat-top grille for pancakes as they would slip through the BBQ grille holes. We have visions of an aluminum sunshade over the top, but that is still in the thinking stage. Most of the expanded metal work space over the heat buffer around the grille is from an old patio table from G-ma Donna's house. As you can tell, there is a lot of used stuff that makes up a big part of the project, but with a lot of elbow grease and paint, you cannot tell it from brand-new. We took it on a test drive a week ago, and it did not self destruct, so I guess it is ready for it's first hot dogs!

As of this AM, we have five dates to use the BBQ. not counting the inaugural hot dog test "Q". I am under pressure from Allan and others to get the "57 side fin aluminum trim installed - Talk about cool !!!!!! Next time you two get out here, we will throw some tofu burgers on and have a big ole' party. Wow, I see in the paper that it has been downright summer there the past few days--- must be pretty with all the blossoms.
Back to work,
Love Dad"

and then, the following day:

"Wait till you see the finishing touches.....................we had aluminum sheets cut that cover the grille portion and overlap each other. When not covering the grill for transit so that the dust from the charcoal does not blow out on the road, they double as a sun shade attached to the top bar and look like a set of wings -- film at 11.

jade can't wait to visit california again for the sole purpose of testing out this contraption, and the boss shook his head and said, "your dad is a true artist".


Saturday, April 17, 2010

question of the day...

written thursday
for three days we shoved drano down our faucet only after trying in vain to use grandma's trusty science class vinegar and baking soda trick. no dice.
last night the plumber stayed until 11:30pm. no dice.
this morning roto rooter came and dredged up all of this nasty brownness. no dice.

prussia's on suicide watch because she refuses to drink water if it does not trickle from the bathtub tap.

we've been told the original plumber will come back on saturday (2 smelly days from now!). because he had such success the first time.

but apparently now they are going to open up the wall to get to some pipe. i swear this is not my fault. same thing going on next door too.

but all this build up to the punch line.
after we were told it wouldn't be resolved until saturday, jade glanced down at the nasty tub and said,

" can take a shower now?"

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

creepy things afoot.

okay, so i've mentioned it's spring?

and i've mentioned a couple of times that jade is nursing a torn acl and meniscus? our biggest outings together have been to the doctor--weekly--and now that some swelling has subsided, mc gorlick park. it's two blocks away and there's flowers blooming and beautiful benches.
let's see that redbud again....

so we saddled jade up in his polio crutches and ambled down that way for some morning sun before i went to work.

and there we were sitting on the lovely benches. it was too early for the hipsters to be up yet, so we watched the old polish dudes walking their non-accessory dogs.

and then. and then the corners of our eyes were caught by a man kissing his dog a little too enthusiastically. now i understand that you dog people...wait, strike that--i don't understand, but i know that you dog people...okay SOME of you dog people feel the need to let your dogs lick your faces knowing full well that dogs are happiest when they are eating their own poop...yes, i admit, even that skeeves me out, but i have come to accept this behavior as 'normal'.
but this was not that.
said man sat on the lawn on his knees, while this large dog had it's front paws resting on his shoulders, so that they were face-to-face. and the man was caressing the dog (even petting is not a skeevy enough word for the action we witnessed), as though it were a lover--with both hands circling around its shoulders (i don't even think they call them shoulders in dogs--haunches?) then down around its butt then under its belly and then cupping those things that sometimes people chop off. my god, i'm squirming and euphemising writing this, like i'm writing bestiality porn or something. and that's what it was like to watch.
finally it became too weird to only catch from the corner of our eyes and we sat there staring, jaws hanging open in disbelief, stammering to each other.
"....wait, this is really weird, right? this isn't normal right, like even for dog people? dude! isn't that guy just totally making out with his dog?!"

and he was.
making out.
with his dog.
in the park.

soon a hush descended over the park, despite the road construction and the tweeting birds and chirping squirrels. everyone on the benches surrounding focused their eyes like lasers in the direction of this inter-specieal pda in total disbelief. it continued well over a minute like this. and anyone who's been in an earthquake knows even how long fifteen seconds can last.
finally the kissing man noticed he was under scrutiny, pulled away, and stood up. even more disturbingly, jade pointed out, he then fiddled nervously, both hands in his pockets, before storming away in the opposite direction. without the dog.

which is when we noticed that behind the tree trunk, sat the true owner of the dog, who had just watched the whole scene at close range. with my brilliant drawing skills, i've put together a little reenactment for our viewing pleasure.

like any scandalous couple, they left separately. or i guess the scandalous couples arrives separately. whatever the case, it made me want to approach the other gawkers to relate. we didn't just imagine that, did we?

Monday, April 12, 2010

money saving tips from starving artists #1: improvise household appliances out of your trash

so a key piece of our coffee grinder that makes it work has been coincidentally missing since our heinously unwelcome beast of a 5 week houseguest’s sojourn (or perhaps ‘rein of terror’ would a be more appropriate description). i’ve been too polite to do more hint than about that experience, (again, perhaps 'misery' would be a more appropriate word.

The chances that said housebeast was actually involved in the disappearance of aforementioned precious bit of plastic without which our daily beans are not ground, are actually slim to none. but it feels good to irrationally blame her.

so we’ve been rockin’ the pre-ground ‘chock full o nuts’ of late, a solution both practical and economical for broke artists. the leftover cans have so many uses, too! (just slow down before you pour what you think is laundry soap into the washer...)

but now, since jade’s non-existant 'disability checks' have totaled a big fat zero, nor has the ‘sick time’ that freelance work doesn’t offer kicked in, the budget, even for ‘chock full o nuts’ has evaporated, focusing our coffee-hungry attention squarely on the very exciting and fancy pound of free-trade beans my kind aunt liz sent in the mail.

it's been sitting on the shelf, forgotten and mournfully neglected in its whole bean state. UNTIL.

true poverty breeds creative innovation.

cut a slit in the top of the chock full o' nuts container and insert a braun multi quick or any kind of hand wand mixer and voila! before you can say burnt-out blender engine, you've got coffee grounds in every size and shape you could want. who needs consistency anyway--it's drinkable!


disclaimer: don't try this without the lid slit. this product was tested in our high tech kitchen lab, and trust me, un-lidded tests yielded less than happy results for the broom-wielder.

this post brought to you once again, by my crappy but oh-so-convenient iphone camera.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

need support for your medical emergency? don't call me.

see the 30 mark? doc pulled two of these suckers full from jade's knee. oof.
at least i didn't include the needle. image poached from google.

on saturday, my jade came limping home covered in dirt moaning, "i'm hurrrrt." in short, a typical post-football saturday afternoon entrance. of course without the benefit of doctors diagnosis, we've been through the jammed fingers the broken toes, the broken collarbone (uh-huh), and the bruised (no--broken!) rib.

so forgive me that it took me a little time to recognize that this one was 'serious'. there was whining and cursing, much swelling and no weight bearing. everyone online shook their heads and mouthed the S-word. the s-word for the freelance artists. the s-word for the uninsured. the s-word for those of us who just scraped up money for rent but must now buy groceries is SURGERY.

and then angel of friendship came and set up a FREE appointment with a sports medicine doctor. wow.

and other angels came and dropped off arm crutches. not the padded 'i-broke-a-bone' under the armpit kind, but the serious 'i-will-never-have-use-of my-legs' scary kind. so slowly we toiled (well, jade toiled--i just walked really slowly waiting for him to fall down the stairs on me) through a maze of subways to the doctor. sometimes, living in new york is really hard.

jade lay on the examination table, his right knee easily three times the size of his left. the doctor guessed that he had ripped not just his meniscus, but his mcl and acl. but too much swelling to diagnose for certain now.

i rubbed his left shin comfortingly (i hoped) and the doctor exclaimed how lucky he was to have such loving support. and not two minutes of looking at the inside of his knee via ultrasound passed before i was removing my jacket. then my sweater. then pretending to read the framed article on the wall about healthy sleeping positions for couples (fascinating really-no, i mean it!). but ultimately i couldn't tune out the talk of internal tears and swelling due to blood etc. i closed my eyes. i tried yoga breathing. but i couldn't stop that familiar feeling of my body screaming with the force of a spun-out two year old "GET ME HORIZONTAL. I DON'T CARE WHERE. NOW!'

i excused myself to the ladies room, walking dizzily through the carpeted corridors, hoping no one would come into the bathroom as i lay green faced, as close to the mercifully cold and i-don't-care-how-dirty tile floor. i know that i've mentioned this little 'problem' of mine before with the whole blood and rust finger slicing incident. it is a lifelong weakness that just seems to be getting worse with age. i mean, come on--an ultrasound?! feeling ashamed, but blood finally back in my extremities and face, i returned to the treatment room as though i really just had gone to the bathroom to pee.

but when i walked in, the doctor was exclaiming that she couldn't believe she'd need to remove a SECOND fat syringe full of blood from jade's ailing knee. 'you might not want to look at this' she said under her breath to me. oops. too late. i sat down, closed my eyes and tried the yoga breath again. but nothing works except horizontality. (sorry spellcheck--that made up word is totally necessary in this case). and so, i was soon back at the front desk, grateful that the office was bustling with people distracting the receptionist from my drunken walked grabbing of the restroom key for the second time in five minutes. this time i really almost went down in the hall. my head was like an old movie that had been spliced in with too many black frames.

i decided i wasn't really bringing any support to jade by creating this spectacle, so once i returned the second time from my friend the tile floor i just stayed out in the lobby pretending to read about sandra bullock's husbands double life. much less disturbing.

what a friend, what a partner i am.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

welcome spring. tell me you're not fooling.

i've never been excited by april fool's day. i mean, who really cares? not that tricking people into believing bold faced lies hasn't been a past practice of mine. in fact, when i was fourteen and gina what's-her-nose misunderstood something i said which led her to believe that i'd actually WRITTEN the lyrics scrolled on my trapper-keeper, i became drunk with the power of fooling my peers. it entertained me through the ridiculous time that was early high school. yes, love and rockets paid me $50 for every song i wrote for them. no, i actually hadn't spent last summer commuting to UC Berkeley and taking part in the nerd program--i mean Gifted and Talented program. really i was on tour as a back-up singer for the cure. because my singing doesn't cause even my cat to run away. ask my sisters. actually, you probably already know.
yes, i was engaged to my exchange student and only studying spanish so that i could flee the country after my next tour. and did you know that my hair is actually naturally curly? i straighten it daily with a flat iron.

at first this was amusing. but soon i realized i could get anyone to believe anything i said. why not? it's human nature to believe. once i discovered this, the stories didn't seem so fun. add to the equation that i actually do occasionally have true and outlandish stories to tell, whose truth and impact became compromised by the false ones....and it was time to come clean.

so yeah, april fools. not my cup of tea.
but what DOES excite me about today is the abundant sunshine and a peek out the window at the pink magnolia trees and the yellow forsythia. it's like a freakin' easter egg over here! welcome spring. tell me you're not fooling.

because while you californians may not be impressed with this meager display of 'early' spring, the seasons mean more to me on the east coast than i ever could have understood while living west. i'm not even one to poo-poo the winter, however harsh it may be. and in my book, that's really harsh. but after the total barren look for however many months, when those blooms start to show their color in this grey winter scape, it makes you want to scream, SPRING! REBIRTH! RENEWAL! really, it's so dramatic and cliched. but it gets all the way down to your toes and you just want to go to the park and jumprope.