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On Auctions

On Auctions

I have become totally addicted to auctions.

There’s a place in Renton that auctions off estates, and I’ve been going quite regularly–coming home laden with stuff I don’t need (and in many cases, I confess, that I don’t really want). It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of it all. The first one I went to found me with three Kaoru Kawano woodblocks. Sure, the price was right–but I don’t even really LIKE Kawano prints. I think he was a pedophile; all his little girls look really freaky. I’ve bought table linens, kitchen goodies (the $5 espresso maker was a real winner), random pottery …

But I have to tell you: I am really pleased with the carpet I just bought last Thursday.

Never mind the fact that I don’t need new rugs.

Now, I’m on a kick to become a carpet expert. I checked out a bunch of books from the library, and am thinking that it may be a Lesghi Shirvan carpet. Does anyone know anything about carpets? Am I right?

Also, I have two carpets that were my great great grandfather’s, and am pretty sure that they are a Fereghan …

and an Akstafa …

Anyone?

Dirty Pictures

Dirty Pictures

Ok, for all you who requested a photo of the dishwasher, here you go. But I warn you that it’s not terribly exciting, unless you’ve been washing dishes in the bathtub for the past three months. (And can I also add that I’ve never had one of those newfangled dishwashers where you don’t have to wash the dishes before washing the dishes? I’m in heaven.)

Much more exciting, however, is the fact that the pendant lights arrived and Steve hooked them up.

The rest of the kitchen is, as you can see, a disaster.

TV Sucks.

TV Sucks.

“You have to watch Rome,” our neighbor Geoff told us. “It’s amazing.” So Steve and I got sucked into the first season of Rome, and we loved it. We had a routine: a couple of nights a week, we’d hot tub, then get in bed with my old laptop (we don’t have a TV) and a Rome DVD from Blockbuster. Then we ran out of Rome, and we were sad.

“You like Rome?” a coworker asked Steve. “You’ve got to try Deadwood.” So then we got sucked into the world of Deadwood, seasons one and two. Steve started raving about how we needed a TV and cable. It ended, and we were bummed. We’ve tried other shows, but nothing is very good. I think we lucked out on those two shows, but it all goes to show just how awful most television is.

Well, hello there. Thanks for dropping by.

Well, hello there. Thanks for dropping by.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

See, the thing is I’ve been going through a webistential crisis. I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’m doing nothing more than contributing to the great cyberlandfill that is push-button publishing. (And on a semi-related note, I wonder if anyone has done a study showing the spike in natural resources required to maintain all the data centers that host the ever-growing number of blogs).

But that’s okay; I think I’m over it now. I took a break, and now I find I’m missing the blog.

Made me laugh

Made me laugh

Bad joke overheard at a neighboring restaurant table:

Defense Secretary Gates briefed the President this morning.

He told Bush that three Brazilian soldiers were killed in Iraq. To everyone’s amazement, all of the color ran from Bush’s face, then he collapsed onto his desk, head in hands, visibly shaken, almost whimpering.

Finally, he composed himself and asked Gates, “Just exactly how many is a brazillion?”

So, how’s YOUR day going?

So, how’s YOUR day going?

1. I hate cleaning. I really hate cleaning under duress, i.e., when my mother outlaw is coming for a visit. On a related note, why is it that when men don’t clean, they’re just being men–and when women don’t clean, they’re slothful pigs?

2. If the house across the street is repossessed, it will be auctioned off. Cash only. The woman whose name was on the notice pinned to the door was harried and not just a little rude. On the other hand, I’m meeting with our realtor tomorrow and she’s doing a bit of research for me. Plus, I’m now officially qualified for a loan.

3. I love the clawfoot in the bathtub, but I think we may just have to get it reporcelained. I just spent five solid minutes scrubbing it. Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is.

4. I wish I had a diet coke.

5. My new laptop shipped today–YAY! I ended up getting the Chembook 4030 (Compal HGL30) from Discount Laptops. Considering the dearth of reviews out there, I’ll probably post one. Or at least I will intend to post one, and thus be on my merry way to hell. For now, I’ll just say that it has a Core 2 Duo 2.16 GHz processor and 2 GB of RAM and a newfangled video card that should support all the Vista goodies–though really, do I care about Aero? Probably not.

6. For those of you wondering whether Harry’s new homemade diet is making a difference, the answer is a resounding YES. The nasty food allergy rashes are gone and he’s regrown all the fur he lost on his belly.

7. Once again, I am woefully behind on book reviews.

8. I really, really, really need to update Quickbooks so I can get my taxes done.

9. Tonight, Geoff and I are going to an auction house in Renton. Should be fun.

and finally

10. Did I mention I hate cleaning? Well, back at it …

Just in case you’re in the mood for a little 13th century Indian Islamic history ….

Just in case you’re in the mood for a little 13th century Indian Islamic history ….

From the Tabakat-i Nasiri, written by court historian Minhaju-s Siraj:

Sultan Raziya was a great monarch. She was wise, just, and generous, a benefactor to her kingdom, a dispenser of justic, the protector or her subjects, and the leader of her armies. She was endowed with all the qualities befitting a king, but she was not born of the right sex, and so in the estimation of men all these virtues were worthless. (May God have mercy on her!)

In the time of her father, Sultan Sa’id Shamsu-d din, she had exercised authority with great dignity. Her mother was the chief wife of his majesty, and she resided in the chief royal palace in the Kushk-firizi. The Sultan discerned in her countenance the signs of power and bravery, and although she was a girl and lived in retirement, yet when the Sultan returned from the conquest of Gwalior, he directed his secretary Taju-l Malik Mahmud to put her name in writing as heir of the kingdom, and successor to the throne.

Before this farman was executed, the servants of the State, who were in close intimacy with his majesty represented that, seeing the kind had grown up sons who were worthy of the dignity, what wisdom could there be in making a woman their heir to a Muhammadan throne, and what advantage could accrue from it? They besought him to set their minds at ease, for the course that he proposed seemed very inexpedient. The king replied, “My sons are devoted to the pleasures of youthm and no one of them is qualified to be kind. They are unfit to rule the country, and after my death you will find that there is no one more competent to guide the State than my daughter.”

It was afterwards agreed by common consent that the king had judged wisely.

When Sultan Raziya succeeded to the throne, all things reverted to their old order. But the wazir of the State, Nizamu-l Mulk Junaidi did not give his adhesion. He, together with Malik Jani, Malik Kochi, Malik Kabir Khan, and Malik Izzu-d din Muhammad Salari assembling from different parts of the country at the gates of Delhi, made war against Sultan Raziya, and hostilities were carried on for a long time. After a while, Malik Nasiru-d din Tabashi Mu’izzi, who was governor of Oudh, brought up his forces to Delhi to the assistance of Sultan Raziya. When he had crossed the Ganges, the generals, who were fighting against Delhi, met him unexpectedly and took him prisoner. He then fell sick and died.

The stay of the insurgents at the gates of Delhi was protracted. Sultan Raziya, favoured by fortune, went out from the city and ordered her tents to be pitched at a place on the banks of the Jumna. Several engagements took place between the Turkish nobles who were on the side of the Sultan, and the insurgent chiefs. At last, peace was effected, with great adroitness and judicious management. Malik Izzu-d din Muhammad Salar and Malik Izzu-d din Kabir Khan Ayyaz secretly joined the Sultan and came at hight to her majesty’s tents, upon the understanding the Malik Jani, Malik Kochi, and Nizamu-l Mulk Janaidi were to be summoned and closely imprisoned, so that the rebellion might subside. When these chiefs were informed of this matter they fled from their camps, and some horsemen of the Sultan pursued them. Malik Kochi and his borther Fakhru-d din were captured, and were afterward killed in prison. Malik Jani went into the mountains of Bardar, and died there after a while.

A Nod to Valentine’s Day – Steve Style

A Nod to Valentine’s Day – Steve Style

Actually, we didn’t do a thing. I had to run to the store in the afternoon, though, so I called Steve to see if he needed anything. What were we doing for dinner, he asked. I replied that I had thawed some fish. “But it’s Valentine’s Day!”

“Yeah, so?” I replied.

“And you’re my bitch!”

He’s so cute when he tries to be misogynistic.

Sidney Sheldon Died Today, Leading Me to a Personal Anecdote

Sidney Sheldon Died Today, Leading Me to a Personal Anecdote

In the mid-80s, we lived in Bucharest. My mother was the director of the American Library, a part of the U.S. Information Agency. One day, an American man and his wife waltzed into her office. “My name is Sidney Sheldon,” he said, “and I’m writing a book. Can I take you out to dinner and get some information on how embassies work?”

Now there are two things you have to understand. The first is that my mother’s idea of light reading is the latest installment of the Chronicle of Higher Education, which means that she’d never heard of Sidney Sheldon. The second is that this was Romania under Ceausescu, and there were virtually no places to go out to dinner and actually get something edible. And thus, she blithely did what she always does: invited them to dinner.

We were still living in the diplomat apartment complex at the time, a hulking gray paean to the worst of monolithic socialist architecture. It was before heat became such a problem that the embassy moved all its employees to houses so it could ship in heating oil from Vienna (but I do remember how the elevators always got stuck between floors; fun for a 11-year old who always relied on the–very cute–armed guard to get her out). The apartment was quite modest and very cold; when they arrived, we gathered three space heaters in the dining room to point at our feet. My mother and Sidney Sheldon discussed Embassy hierarchy, while I chattered away to his wife, who grew roses and liked making perfume. When the evening ended, they thanked us and said, “The next time you’re in L.A., you must look us up.”

The next summer, we were on our way to San Diego and we flew through LAX. We had a day to kill, which we were to spend with Father de Souza, a Jesuit priest who had been the president of St. Xavier’s college when my father taught there. “Oh!” exclaimed my mother. “We should call the Sheldons!” She riffled through her address book at a pay phone. They invited us for tea.

Father de Souza pulled up in the monastery’s station wagon, an old, rusted boat of a car. He threw our suitcases in the trunk, tying the hatch down with a length of chord. Armed with directions, we clattered onto the wide, quiet streets of Beverly Hills. The security gate was made of wrought iron with three cameras and a buzzer. Slowly, the gates swung open and we climbed up a winding drive to the biggest house I had every seen.

We drank tea–hot chocolate for me–and ate cookies on cream silk sofas, looking out at the gardens through French doors. Mrs. Sheldon not only gave me a tour of her roses, but also cut a huge bunch for me. I clutched them the rest of the day, and through the hour flight down to San Diego.

A couple of years later, Windmills of the Gods came out. My mother splurged on the hardback, reading it on the plane. And she was outraged. “This is wrong,” she kept saying. “This is beyond wrong!” I tried reading it a couple years after that, and was bored to tears. The writing … well, it was popular fiction, after all.

But I will never forget just how gracious the Sheldons were.

Green Meme

Green Meme

Charlotte’s excellent Green Meme.

1. What do you for the birds and the bees? According to the report, we need to plant a pollinator garden to counteract the effect pollution, pesticides and habitat destruction are having on birds, bees and insects. Bees, for instance, like yellow, blue and purple flowers. I attempt to do things, but I kill plants. Steve, on the other hand, has a lot of stuff in the garden that qualifies. I think.

2. Household products. Chemical or organic? Household chemicals contribute to indoor and outdoor pollution.
Whatever’s convenient, to be honest. However, my soapmaking has yielded a lot of green stuff to clean with. I use soap scraps and the soaps I don’t like to wash dishes, counters, the bathroom, and so on. Sadly, organic laundry and dishwasher detergents don’t work as well as their chemical counterparts. I keep trying, but end up going back to the polluting kind.

3. Do you junk?
I really hate all the junk mail we get. I’ve taken us off credit card offers, and as much junk mail as possible, but I really don’t think the “remove me from the list” services work all that well. We still get stuff.

4. Air-dry or tumble-dry? Line-drying saves money and stops carbon emissions.
Tumble, all the way. But I hate doing laundry and do my part by doing it as infrequently as possible.

5. Old gadgets. Recycle or toss ‘em? According to the report, we have to find a way not to fill up landfills with electronic objects. Charlotte says, “Here’s my current solution: fill up the cellar instead.” I concur wholeheartedly. I have good intentions.

6. Lightbulbs – incandescent or fluorescent? Fluorescent light bulbs use 70% less power and last ten times as long.I hate to admit this, but incandescent. I hate the light produced by fluorescent bulbs.

7. Meat or veg? Meat production is energy inefficient. It takes 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat. After about seven years of being a vegetarian, I’m a wholehearted meat eater now. My concession is that I try to buy meat that comes from local sources.

8. Loo paper. Virgin or recycled? The paper industry is the third largest contributor to global warming. If every U.S. household replaced one toilet-paper roll with a roll made from recycled paper, 424,000 trees would be saved. Recycled. Though it’s still bleached and all that. I do wish all those recycled TP companies would skip the bleach.

9. Tap or bottled water? According to Newsweek, it takes a lot of oil to make and ship water bottles, and most end up in landfills. Tap. This whole bottled water craze is one of my pet peeves. First, the materials and transportation that go into it. Second, the fact that most tap water is cleaner. Just get a Nalgene bottle and you’re good to do. And if you must distill, get a Britta. The exception is fizzy mineral water. We usually have a case of that stuff around.

10. Dating – metrosexual or ecosexual? Newsweek says two recyclers are better than one. Dating? What’s that?

It’s snowing. Even more.

It’s snowing. Even more.

For those of you not in Seattle, we were positively deluged with snow a few days ago.

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I’ve missed snow, and it has been fun frolicking around in it. However, our street runs downhill and is a solid sheet of ice. I can’t drive my car down it. (We won’t get into the effects of the neighbor running his sump pump into the street.) And, as a result, I’m feeling a little housebound.

In other words, waking up to more snow this morning was NOT a good thing.

Poetry Wednesday #3

Poetry Wednesday #3

More bad, bitter poetry about exes.

Irony

I think of you pressing
tomorrow’s pleated
presentations
and creased newspaper
seams, smooth
collared eyes, hot buttons
sealed with wax.
White and starched,
your mind, so clean.
No wrinkled abstractions,
and I–
a distraction–
your hiss of steam.

My New Career as a Day Trader

My New Career as a Day Trader

It didn’t start auspiciously, that I can tell you.

I opened an etrade account a week ago. Wow, I thought, this is great! I can transfer funds automatically. Tweedle dee, tweedle da, I blithely linked up my bank account and transferred a thousand bucks. Done. Easy as pie.

Come to find out that if you type 1,000 with a comma, as any civilized person would do, the etrade system reads aforementioned comma as a 0. And suddenly, that carefree transfer becomes a harbinger of doom. It sucks $10,000 out of your bank account, defaulting into your savings where you had been storing your tax money. Sadly, you are now going to be late paying your quarterly taxes.

It takes five full business days to clear. Poof! The money seems to be gone; it’s not in your bank account, nor is it in your etrade account. It has seemingly … vanished. Where does it go? Into a high-yield escrow account? Probably.

But finally, you have the money wired back into your bank account. All is well. Uncle Sam is happy. You are happy. Etrade is happy because you just bought three probably completely worthless penny stocks that are environmentally friendly.

Anyone have any good tips?

Power Outages

Power Outages

Huge windstorm on Thursday night, 1 million houses without power. We’re back up power-wise, but no cable, which means no Internet. So here I am at Starbucks, feeding the need.

Steve’s Christmas Party

Steve’s Christmas Party

It was fine. It was nice. But despite the decent food and the freeflowing booze, you know what the best part was? Taking off those three and a half inch heels. What was I thinking?

Writing Letters to Santa, Otherwise Known as How to Really Mess with Your Kid’s Mind

Writing Letters to Santa, Otherwise Known as How to Really Mess with Your Kid’s Mind

Elizabeth just wrote about getting into the holiday season with trees and ornaments and all that jazz. She says she had a little mailbox that she used to write letters to Santa for all her pets. Our letter-writing routine was that I wrote a letter and then we burned it in the fireplace. My mother claimed that the charred bits flew to the North Pole and reassembled in Santa’s hands. I think there was something about the fireplace purifying the letter so only the nice kids’ letters made it.

At the time, this seemed normal.

But what I want to know is whether anyone else had this same tradition. You see, my mother really had a lot of fun screwing with my head when I was a kid.

Take the Easter Bunny, for example. According to Mom, the Easter Bunny was actually a woman. Every Easter, before she went off to work, she would deliver eggs to households around the world. And being a successful, entrepreneurial sort, she delivered them in style: from her green and yellow briefcase. There were vague mumblings about an unemployed Mr. Easter Bunny.

Then there were the supermarket seeds. Noting that grocery stores seemed to appear out of nowhere, she claimed there were supermarket seeds. Grocery store owners would buy a seed, plop it into the ground and —sproing!–the very next day, there would be a brand-new supermarket. (The sproing! was her very word, BTW, and was accompanied by a throwing up of the hands.) I think I was 10 or so before I realized this wasn’t true. I casually mentioned supermarket seeds to a friend. She stared at me wordlessly, and then cracked up. I never lived it down. She sproinged! in front of all the kids at recess for months.

And of course, I shouldn’t neglect to mention that my mother had me so well-trained at five that she would trot me out at cocktail parties just so she could ask me what my purpose in life was in front of amused guests. “To support you in your old age, Mommy,” I would chirp. Then the kicker: “In the style to which you would like to become accustomed.”

You have to hand it to her; getting a five-year old to say that last convoluted bit is no mean feat.

I’d like to think that I’m not terribly warped by all this, but who knows? So back to the original question. How did you get letters to Santa–and was she screwing with my mind there too?

Lessons in Sainthood

Lessons in Sainthood

Two weeks ago
It’s about two in the afternoon. Steve calls. “For my company Christmas party, do you want steak or salmon?”

“When is it?”

“I’m not sure. Which do you want?”

“I don’t care,” I say, running through my schedule in head. “Can you forward me the e-mail?”

“We’ll get one of each then.”

“Forward me the e-mail.”

“Okay.”

Later that night
We’re sitting in the hot tub. All of a sudden, Steve says, “For the company christmas party? I put you down for the salmon. I’ll get the steak.”

“Okay. When is it?”

“Oh, like the week before Christmas.”

“Can you find out and tell me?”

“Sure.”

“Just forward me the e-mail.”

“Okay.”

A week ago
It strikes me that I might have to go get a dress or something for his party. Which reminds me, I still have no idea when the party is. I call him and ask when it is.

“It’s the 14th. That night.”

I pull open that darn ubiquitous thing — my Outlook calendar. “That’s a Thursday,” I say.

“Yeah,” he agrees.

“Okay, I’ll mark it.” We hang up. I note it on my Outlook calendar, and also on the wall calendar in the kitchen.

Three days ago
Laura is here visiting from Bellingham. I have just spent $400 dollars on vintage chairs. The lines are great, and match the couch perfectly. Alas, the blue is far brighter than I thought. I am irritated. (Granted, a normal state of being.) Steve says, “Oh, by the way, it’s formal. I have to wear a suit. It’s at some place called the Woodmark Hotel.”

Great, I think. I need to go shopping. Both last week and this week have been crazy busy with work. But it’s Thursday, so I have time. Maybe Wednesday night. I have a meeting on the east side at three. That should work. I can do the shopping over there and miss traffic. Plans unfurl in my head.

But it’s Steve, so I doublecheck anyway. “It’s next Thursday, right?”

“Yep. At 6.”

I am pleased. I have managed to pin Steve down. He has given me all the information I need. Thursday. 6. Kirkland. Formal. YAY! Or as YAY as a company Christmas party can be.

One hour ago
The phone rings. It’s Steve. “My party? I made a mistake. It’s Wednesday, not Thursday.”

I won’t be able to make it home in time, so am going to have to change over there in some bathroom on the Microsoft campus. Then, squander an hour and a half.

“I am going to kill you,” I say.

“But I’m so cute and adorable!”

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