Monday, April 30, 2007

Weekend marbling/pastepaper workshop

What did I do over the weekend? Ooooh, I had fun!

Nena, Amy and I went to a marbling/pastepaper workshop in Smithville, TX. The marbling was taught by Pam Smith and the paste paper part by Priscilla Spitler.

Nena, Amy and I are known - to the Austin Book Workers - as "The Three Broads,' Personally, I like WeNenaMy, better, partly 'cos it reminds me of my Aunt Patsie doing the litany of names (mine and my cousins) when she caught us filching salad from the bowl while we waited for Sunday supper when I was a kid... Anyway, the three of us drove over to Smithville and back each day, which gave us time to talk and eat Annie's Cheddar Bunnies. Eating Cheddar Bunnies is a crucial part of our Artistic Life. You have to eat them BEFORE you art, of course, because art itself is a dirty job and you don't want your hands going into your mouth after handling, say, cadmium red. That's right... Art is also a DANGEROUS job, because paints are made with all sorts of toxic materials, like lead, and you should never, ever nibble on your paintbrushes...

The workshop was actually held at Buescher State Park, where they sell hunting and fishing licenses, but not artistic licenses, at the gate. We were in two groups, and, after we got checked in and introduced ourselves, we broke into the groups. Half of us began the day marbling, and the other half doing paste paper.

Marbling is done on a 'size' of caragheenan, which is a type of moss that makes a kind of jello like substance. You can float colors (water colors or acrylics) on top of the size using a variety of techniques - wisks (we made those, too, out of broom corn), eye droppers, styluses, atomizers. You also use a dispersant, that pushes the colors around. You can just 'pull' the sheets off the size - picking up the colors because the sheets have been sponged in alum water and alum is hydrophilic, so it draws the colors to the paper - or you can comb complex patterns into them.

My favorite patterns were made with the stylus. You do three little dots of color and then draw the stylus through them. Depending on which way you draw the stylus through (the last drop first or the first drop first), you get a 'feather' or an 'oak leaf.'

I didn't really like too many of the papers I made, but I got some wonderful ideas, so it was completely worth it.

Paste paper involves making paste (flour and water cooked together) or using methyl cellulose and adding acrylic paint to it. It's a pretty stiff paste, and you paint it onto dampened paper with a brush in a thinnish coat. Then you comb patterns through it. It's sort of finger painting for grown-ups. There are a hundred little additional techniques you can do with it, and it's very therapeutic.

At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The party was fab...

The party was fabulous, darlings! I do wish ya'll could've been there, mostly because, had you been there, I wouldn't have so much leftover food! I have leftover food because most of my friends brought food, wonderful food, and the ones who didn't brought wine or flowers.

Now, here's the odd thing... Most of my friends didn't know each other. Hmmmm... How did that happen? I have a lot of groups of friends - family, Ladies Sunday Morning Tai Chi League, Austin Book Workers, Nia, neighbors, musicians from various bands I've been in, and those miscellaneous people that you can't even remember how you met - and I've never thrown a party to which all the groups were invited. I DO have a pretty small house (800 sf), but, fortunately, I have a big back yard, and in Texas you can be outside most of the year. (Ok, in the winter, you may only want to be out during the day, and in the summer, you may only want to be out in the evening.) So, if you include my backyard, I have, like, a 6000 sf house, and right now it's carpeted! (Mid-summer is a different story, as those of us who don't water our lawns for religious reasons kinda lose the grass part.)

My friends Aline and Ray arrived first; they're the ones who have the marvelous Thanksgiving dinner I go to. I met them about fifteen years ago through my friends Anne and Gus. Anne and I knew each other from the gym, and, being women of a certain age, we hung out there together, chiding the muscleheads who forgot to re-rack their weights. It always just amazes me that a man is so proud that he can do dumbell presses with 110 pound weights - he has to have three or four guys around him spotting him and cheering him on - and then he'll just drop his weights and leave them there like his mom or the maid is gonna come pick up a couple 110 lb dumbells and re-rack 'em for him. Come on, big guy, re-rack those weights and the rest of us will cheer for you too! (Whew! Glad I got THAT out of my system!)

Anyway, I mentioned to Anne one hot August day (the 'hot' was thrown in for those of you who don't live in Texas, and who may not know that it's always hot here in August) that I had to go to a Cajun dinner party that night and was dreading having to bake the bread pudding that I was supposed to bring... Dreading it because I did not have air-conditioning. Older houses in Austin don't have central air and heat. They have funky ass space heaters with radians and, maybe, window units. They also have double hung windows that open at the top, and trees around them, so you cool your house by opening the tops of the windows during the day to let the hot air out. As long as you don't move, and have an iced drink and a fan, it's not too bad, but you don't want to turn your oven on to 350 for an hour, even to cook bread pudding.

But my friend Anne had air-conditioning, two ovens, and a pool at her house, and invited me to bring the ingredients and my bathing suit over there and cook. So, that's exactly what I did. Her husband Gus, and a friend of his (whose name I cannot recall, but think was Ed) were working on the deck, but not to the point that we couldn't swim. So I made the bread pudding and the whiskey sauce (which is the whole point of bread pudding) and swam. When the pudding came out of the oven it seemed rather rude not to cut them off a little bit and share it with them. I was sure the folks at the dinner party wouldn't mind an end missing. So that's what I did. Gus and his friend's eyes glazed over. "It's better than sex," he said... "She has to come to Thanksgiving," which in those days, was held at Anne and Gus's house. So a couple months later I did, and met Aline and Ray and their kids and a whole host of other people all of whom cook and like wine. So that's how and why I met Ray and Aline. Later, Aline and I found out that our birthdays are only 4 days apart, and Anne and Gus left to work in odd places (they're in Africa right now), but I still make bread pudding and whiskey sauce for Thanksgiving, although I make less pudding and more sauce, as whiskey sauce goes with everything: sweet potatoes (fabulous!), turkey, chocolate cake, pecan pie... Well, everything except the green beans n' bacon.

And then my ex-ish came, and my friends Mike and Debbie, whom I've known the longest in Austin. Mike and Debbie and I lived in a housing co-op up near UT together in '79-'80, named 'V.' Mike forced me to start my first band, which was the Half-Assed Dance Band, and was in the second, Wendy and the Magnets, and in the last band I was officially in, Peacemongers. He plays bass and tuba, and in Peacemongers, that was a fearsome thing. We went through a LOT of bass players. It was an improv rock band, a jam band, and it got kinda repetitive for the bass player. But Mike also plays tuba, and that was what he had at the party. And then we found out that Ray (remember Ray?) had lived in the same house (1919 Robbins Place) before us, only it was called something else, and everyone said "Far out," which is the hippie way of saying "Amen," I think.

And Steve-O and Judith showed up... But ya'll have already met them in the post about the guy who moved the shed. Judith brought wonderful couscous and flowers from her garden... And Ricë and Earl showed up, fresh from the wonderful news that he was going to have enough money to retire and have insurance, so we had reason to celebrate! Shari and Al came, too. I know Shari from LSMTCL, and, since they live way north, when Al usually brings her to it and then goes to the Shambala Center. He's frequently included in LSMTCL functions, so he's like, and adjunct member. Clark showed up bringing chairs and demanding tequila, which he said I'd promised him, and, which I might've, but don't remember. Fortunately, having a liquor cabinet, I was able to provide him with this substance, even though it wasn't the best tequila in the world. And Bruce and Leela, my neighbors came, bringing Leela's fabulous Hatch chili hummus, and Amy from Book Workers and Sarah from LSMTCL. Steve and Jessica came all the way from Georgetown. Steve was Peacemonger's drummer - and a drummer in another band I was in before that: Civil Serpents - and Jessica is a fabulous cook, especially of Middle Eastern and Indian food. She brought a delicious tart made with orange water, among other things. And maybe some other people came, but I sort of lost track after that and was worried about getting the food out...

Later on we had music in the garden. It turns out Al is a drummer and he and Steve happily drummed on 5 gallon plastic water bottles, which make wonderful drums. Mike played tuba, jc played my little Martin Backpacker guitar and I played my beautiful Gurian. We did Millennium, Fallen from a Dream, Li De Di, Heart of Darkness, Ferris Wheel, If Wishes Were Fishes, House of the Rising Sun - one of the first songs I ever learned - and It Burns.

And then everyone went home and left me with a ton of food!

Friday, April 20, 2007

In which I throw a party

I do so wish you could all be here. I'm having a party.

I am having - food wise - tostadas, with shredded chicken, Oaxacan black beans (the secret ingredient is toasted avocado leaves, which impart a truly unique flavor, somewhat reminiscent of anise), crumbled queso fresco, pico de gallo (chopped tomatoes, jalapeños, cilantro, red onion, garlic, lime juice), Oaxacan mole, which I'd never made before and isn't smooth enough but fucking tastes fantastic, if I do say so myself, and only fucking took me six goddamn hours to make, Texas caviar (a three bean salad), and toffee pudding and fruit salad. And, of course, wine and beer and Pomtinis, 'cos this is a Fiesta de las Flores de la Granada. That's right, granada is the spanish word for pomegranate. Who knew? Fuck, who can even spell pomegranate anyway?

Of course, I have my crosses to bear. For some reason, the stores are all out of CitraSolv, my universal cleaning solution, and believe me, I am cleaning the house like a melonfarmer. And, even worse, Rues Antiques, which sells the only stuff my furniture likes to be treated with, Natchez Solution, has up and moved off into the ozone. They were a cruddy antique store, but they had NS, and I could walk there. Shit, shit, shit. Now my day is going to include melting beeswax, mixing it with mineral oil and lemon oil and really having fun.

On the absolutely wonderful side, I had the eleven boxes from my aunt's estate in the living room, but I didn't want them there for the party. My ex, jc, has been coming over every evening this week to hold ladders and spot me while I'm on them. (Ssshhh, don't tell him, I get up on them all the time when he's not here, but if he comes, he'll pet and play with the sadly neglected feline denizens of the house, so it's a good thing.) I've been painting the window jams with a weird mottled orange faux finish that I think I like, but won't really know about until I get the outer trim up, and that isn't going to happen by this afternoon. And today is the day I clean the house, (The Final Cleaning, which sounds like one of those horror movies). So. I'm busy and do not need to be making secret formula furniture polish.

Anyway, the other night he came to late to move the boxes, which go into the shed. We can't have the shed door open 'cos the outdoor cats will go in, hide and then crap all over everything, as well as possibly die, which would be worse than crap, in several ways. So, it's a two person, DAYLIGHT job, which, since jc doesn't get up til 6 pm, is a problem. But yesterday he made a special effort and got here at 6, told me there was room for an elephant in the shed, if things were arranged better, took half the stuff out, organized it according to his own arcane system, and put it back in along with the boxes. There's still room in there! A Newfoundland would perhaps be able to fit in and still turn around! Amazing! And I hardly lifted a finger! Even more amazing! (Ooops, the exclamation mark says it's tired of all that standing up and down, up and down; get a life, it says.)

He's been out of work for several months and hasn't been able to 'organize' a stage and boss inanimate objects around and make them be logical, so he really went after it. Of course, it's arranged to HIS logic and not mine, which are two very different animals, and is one of the reasons he's an ex. But it just means I'll have to call him up and ask him where things are. After 7 pm, of course.

Gotta let the boy have some coffee before he talks to the ex.

Anyone need an absolutely fantastic live sound engineer? Who can organize a stage logically? Makes singers heard about the band?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

In which I become a Grand Champion...

Sunday, Easter Sunday that would be, was positively disgusting here, weather-wise. It was cold. It was raining. It had actually sleeted - sleeted! - the day before, the day of my friend's Leela and Bruce's Annual Spring Garden Party. There may be some who read this and think "What's a little sleet?" but they probably do not live in Texas. Here we do not complain about the heat... We complain about the cold. Especially when it's cold in April, when it's already been spring for a month and a half.

So. The weather was abysmal, but I rose and rather belatedly made my way to Ladies Sunday Morning Tai Chi League (Ladies League). We all were students of the late, great Stan Rossi. Long ago we decided to get together on Sunday mornings at Bailey Park in Austin and do our stuff. We do a Yang Long Style, Chen Zhao Bao, a saber set, and some of us can do parts of a Yang long sword form. We're a highly social group who believe that life and tai chi go better with good food and champagne. Heck, we believe that everything goes better with good food and champagne. We bring food to the park for special occasions, or meet at each other's houses for 'conviviality.'

Ok, so I got there late, so late that no one else was there, although Christy had been there and done the sword set. One of our members, Ann, was having an Easter party for us at noon, and here it was just before 10 am and I was up in north Austin. I knew if I went home I would be so totally depressed by the weather that I would never make it out again, so I went round to Gwen's nearby house and begged for coffee. Her charming daughter Anna Bella let me in and I had a wonderful time drinking coffee and watching Gwen make a delicious salmon and asparagus quiche. Oh, and I had a shot of lemoncello. I mentioned to Gwen that I'd seen people on Sex and the City drinking it and had no idea what it was... Gwen had some in the freezer and it seemed like the perfect way to start the day.

You can walk from Gwen's to Ann's. It's only four blocks. Admittedly, most Texans would not walk four blocks, they would drive. But Gwen and I are transplants, so we did. It was no longer raining. It was just cold.

Ann lives in the most fantastic house. It's International Style, built in the 1930s, and is just completely cool. Plus, it' a great party house. The other LL's had arrived, and, since it was a function, there were spouses and significant others for those who have them. So there were a LOT of us. And Ann's other friends and family... And ham and about seven kinds of quiches, and deviled eggs and asparagus and strawberries and cream and, my contribution... Cookies. (Yup, those same darn cookies.) And champagne and orange juice.

So we ate. We ate for quite a long time, actually, and then it was time to play croquet. We were supposed to do this outside, in the backyard, but, since the weather didn't cooperate, they had set up a course inside in the family room. There were the traditional wickets, stood up in little lumps of clay, and some other obstacles... Odd bits of pvc pipe to negotiate through... And a ramp into a back bedroom... And tables and chairs... And feet, lots of feet, since we all sort of played at once.

We played with tennis balls, labeled with our names, and all we had to do was complete the course, going through all the things in the right direction and count our strokes. People held back, so I grabbed a mallet and started.

Forty-seven strokes later I had completed the course. No one helped ME by moving the wickets to 'catch' the balls... We made up some rules as we went along as balls seemed to get stuck under the furniture, but all in all, it was a terrific game. No one died. And then came the trophies. There were four of them, but I can't remember what they all were. By that time I think I'd had a fair amount of champagne, but I can't really remember. So, even though I had the highest score - by far - I won the Grand Champion trophy! I've never won a trophy in my life, I don't think. And this is a real trophy...

You may notice that the top of the trophy seems cut off. That's 'cos this is an illustration of the trophy from my journal. But, still, you can tell it's a damn fine looking trophy... And it's sitting on my piano for all the world - well, all the world who come to my house - to see.

(A side note about complaining about the weather in Texas... You cannot complain about the heat. It's just not allowed. Of course it's hot, you fool, it's Texas. If you live in the south part of Texas, you can complain about the cold. The north part of Texas is very far away, and I don't think they're allowed to complain about the cold, but I could be wrong about that. You cannot complain about the rain - unless it rains in July or August, when it's never, ever supposed to rain because it makes it humid - because we need it. Very rarely do you hear anyone say "We shore don't need anymore rain." You can complain about hail and sleet and snow, at least here in the Hill Country, because they are bad for the peach crop, and everyone knows the peach crop is sacred. Hail also damages cars, and even trucks, which are also sacred. You can complain about flooding, but carefully. We get a lot of flooding. Usually if it rains we get flooding. That's what happens when you live some place where it doesn't rain very often. It floods. You can complain about floods, but it's not very good form. Mostly you say things like "I hadda drive forty miles around to get home 'cos the low-water crossing was out." Or, "Didya hear about them what went through the low-water crossing in their truck? That sure was a shame." Going through a low-water crossing with water in it is a bad idea. That's why there are measuring sticks in the middle. If you live and the RFD have to come get your happy ass out, they will charge you money.)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

How I got my name

Years ago, I mean years and years and years ago, like in 1992, for pete's sake, I worked for Madalyn Murray O'Hair. In case you haven't a clue, she was the head of American Atheists, among other organizations, which she ran with her son, Jon, and daughter/granddaughter, Robin. Mrs O'Hair's other son, Bill, the one she filed the lawsuit against prayer in school for, worked for her for several years, too. Then he went off to do his thing and left the young Robin with Mrs O'Hair, who adopted her. Later Bill became a christian minister and went around raising money denouncing his mother and her evil ways. Which, of course, makes you wonder how he reconciles that with the seventh commandment... I mean it does if you're the sort of person who wonders about things like that.

But, then, Mrs O'Hair was a 'real piece of work,' as my friend Gus used to say, as well as an exceedingly abusive employer. Actually, she was an abusive person, who just happened to be an employer... One of those ones who calls everyone - including her family, or maybe, especially her family - an asshole or a sumbitch. In some people, of course, cussing can be funny, or an art form; in others, well, it's just obnoxious. Mrs O'Hair was one of THOSE people.

When I first started working for the O'Hairs, Mrs O'Hair liked me. Had I known better, I would've worried about that, because she appeared to hate most of the other employees, but I was too busy trying to be a good little worker unit. Eventually, of course, she decided she hated me, too. There were deadline issues, since each of the three O'Hairs, Madalyn, Robin and Jon, thought they were in charge of the universe. Each one would give you shit to do and insist you do it before you did the stuff you already had to do.

At the time, I thought that Mrs O'Hair wanted me to cry, or something, when she yelled at me... You know, to have me break down sobbing in a puddle of tears... I thought she liked being scary. So therefore the only revenge that was really possible - unless you, like, killed them or something - was being cheerful. And since I'm not a murderer, that was what I tried to do.

Of course, now I think she was just trying to get me to quit so she wouldn't have to pay unemployment... She'd been tagged as an abusive employer by the Texas Workforce Commission., so you actually could quit working for her and and they'd give you unemployment anyway. She thought she lost all her cases before them because she was an atheist... But really, it was because she was an asshole.

I remember walking into Mrs O'Hair's office one day with a pad of rough sketches in my hands for a cover for the magazine. "Robin says you need to pick one," I said to her. "I HATE THEM ALL!" she screamed at me, before she'd even looked at a-one of them. "Well, pick the one you hate the least and get back to me. The deadline is tomorrow," I told her, putting the pad down on her desk and smiling. Ok, this sounds pretty namby-pamby, but my blood pressure goes up when I write about this and I need a glass of wine or a Pom-tini. I could tell you about the time she told all the workers that they weren't getting a Christmas bonus because I'd fucked up the printing of the solstice cards. Now, think about it. Why would atheists expect to get a Christmas bonus? And then there's the time she told one worker he could kiss her ass, or... But, no, no... I'm just going to smile and forget it all.

It was my attempt at a smiling, cheerful demeanor that made her say to me one day, "You're just a little ray of sunshine around the office, aren't you? (No, no, try again; you're not saying it right. You have to use the Wicked Witch of the West voice for it.... Really creak it out... That's better.)

So that's how I got my nickname. I'm just a little ray of fucking sunshine.


I should tell you.

There WAS a murderer in our office. David Waters, who was a typesetter when I worked there, was a multiple murderer... Which is different from a serial killer. Multiple murderers kill people who piss them off. They don't use the same MO every time or anything, and it's not a ritualistic thing... I don't suppose the victims really care, but I guess the police do.

Anyway, there was a lot of stuff that happened after Mrs O'Hair laid me and most of the other employees off. There's even a book about it (America's Most Hated Woman: The Life and Gruesome Death of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, by Ann Rowe Seaman) (or you can read a short article from the Austin Chronicle here), but eventually David Waters and some of his friends kidnapped the O'Hairs, robbed them, killed them, and then chopped them up and put them in blue, 55 gallon drums and buried them on a ranch in south Texas. And then all the money - some $400,000 - they stole from the O'Hairs was ripped off by a couple, three kids on a lark, who just happened to break into the right storage locker.

Pretty icky.
So, yesterday afternoon, I am peacefully cleaning out my little pond-on-the deck (which I say like I have another pond somewhere, which I don't, but) and my cell phone rings. I answer and it's my friend Clark. "Hey," he says, "Remember that storage shed I gave you?" He's referring to the 12'x16' steel shed that sits in my back yard that he gave me a couple years ago. "Remember the guy who moved it? he asks.

The guy who moved it was a magician. He managed to get this shed into my back yard, wrangling it between the house and the garage, where he had a 1" clearance on either side. He couldn't do it with his truck, which only fit in my driveway when I took down one of the fence posts in the front yard. He and his son rolled it on pieces of pvc pipe through the gap, around in a circle and uphill to its current location behind the garage. It was a marvelous feat, kinda like having a circus come to your very own house and do strange and wonderful things, and then, when they leave, you have a very practical shed just sitting there, waiting for stuff. When you live in an 820 sf house, this, in itself, is a miracle.

Now the weird thing is, neither Clark nor I could remember the name of this wizard. We've tried before, when Clark wanted to move his other shed (he bought them when he and Steve-o were remodeling his house for what seemed like several years) to his sister, Catherine's. He called me then and said "Do you remember the guy who moved that shed I gave you?" And I said, yes, of course I remembered the wizard guy. Did I remember his name or phone number? Strangely, no, I didn't. Nor could I find the card he gave me. I think I put it in the shed, in case I ever needed to move it again, but then I filled the shed up with shit, and now I can't find the card... However, if I ever need to move the shed, I'll have to empty the shed anyway, and then I'll find the card, so that's ok.

"What about the guy who moved the shed?" I ask.

"He's dead," says Clark.

"He's DEAD?" I said. (The capital letters are supposed to indicate how incredulous I was at this piece of information.) "He's DEAD???" (Ditto with the three question marks.) "How can he be dead, he's like what, younger than us? Our age?"

This just goes to show you that even though you are getting older, you never believe you're really getting older, all evidence to the contrary. Like when you look in the mirror and, ummm, never mind about that. My point is that, in spite of all your aches and pains and wrinkles and shit, you still don't think you're old enough to die, until you're like my dad's age (he's 87), and then you're surprised that anyone's alive. There must be some kind of a line you cross over, but I'll worry about that later.

"Steve-o says he's dead," Clark says. "What was his name? I want to call Catherine and tell her he's dead." I get the bright idea to go online and look at the obituaries to see if any of the names ring a bell with us. So there we are, talking on our cell phones, me online reading Clark all the possible obituaries, which, fortunately, there are only two of, all the others being people that you're not quite so surprised that they're dead 'cos they're 90 or something. Nothing rings a bell. Clark hangs up and says he'll call back when he knows more.

He calls back in about five minutes. "Steve-o says he's not dead, it's some other guy who's dead, some guy he worked with." The wizard mover guy worked with his son, who is, of course, even younger than he was. "His son is dead?" I ask... No, it's not his son, it's some other guy who's name we don't know. They'll call me when they know who he is. Now why I should care why some guy whom I don't know who works with some guy whose name I can't remember (but think is a wizard at moving sheds) is dead, I can't say, but I'm pretty caught up in this whole thing right now.

For one thing, I'm still stuck at the online obituary page on my computer, where I've learned that on top of the regular obituaries, they have these, ummm, photo essays about folks who have died, called 'Moving Tributes,' and being the sucker I am for people's life stories, I am now reading or viewing or whatever these tributes and crying, for pete's sake, about people I've never even met. Which probably explains the whole thing about why I'm worried about this wizard shed-moving guy maybe being dead.

"Hey, Clark," I said, "That reminds me, I have a shitload of New Yorkers for you." What really reminded me was that I'd finally dragged myself away from the Moving Tributes on the computer, tears streaming down my cheeks, and seen the stack of New Yorkers perched on a table. "And I have Easter cookies!"

Several times a year I make cookies... Christmas, Valentine's, sometimes Easter. These are a refrigerated sugar cookie that are then glazed with brightly colored glaze. (1 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, creamed with 2 eggs and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla, then 1/2 teaspoon each of baking soda and salt and 3 1/2 cups of flour mixed in. You form this into a long roll and refrigerate. When it's pretty firm, you roll it out and cut it into shapes with your marvelous collection of cookie cutters. Then you bake 'em at 350 until they're slightly brown, and glaze them with a mixture of powdered sugar, water, vanilla, salt and food coloring...) I couldn't find my Easter egg cookie cutter this year. It's my biggest and the grandkids love it because, umm, it's the biggest, I guess. I don't know where the damn thing is. Probably in the shed with the box of less-used cookie cutters and the business card for the wizard guy who moved the shed into place using pvc pipe.

Clark was very interested. "You should come over," he said. "I have vanilla vodka." Now, to be frank, vanilla vodka sounds hideous to me, but then all vodka sounds hideous to me, having had an unfortunate vodka incident in my youth involving getting sick in an outhouse, which, due to the delicate sensibilities of some of my readers, I cannot expound on. Needless to say, I THINK I hate vodka. However, I seem to love Bloody Marys, which I somehow forget are made with vodka, and I have a new fave drink, the Pom-tini, which is vodka and Pom's pomegranate juice, in whatever proportions allow you to drink vodka without knowing you're drinking vodka. "I don't have any mixer, though," he said.

So I drove up to Clark's, carrying New Yorkers and Easter cookies. I stopped at the grocery store and got Pom, which is not, of course, kept with the juice, it's kept in its very own, special section of the store, so you know just how wonderful it is after looking up and down every goddamn aisle for twenty minutes. I also got ginger ale and then showed up at Clark's.

Steve-o was already there, and finally knew who'd died. It was Don. Don had died. "Who's Don?" I asked. Neither Steve-o or Clark knew, but he was dead, and he moved sheds (maybe) (possibly) and so we had a wake for him. The Pom-tinis were a tad strong for us, (Steve-o's a diabetic and has to be careful) so we threw in some water and made some really nice sipping drinks. At some point Judith, Steve-o's wife, called and figured out we needed food, and Steve-o went to pick her up and they brought back two Amy's pizzas, which they doctored and baked and we ate with our Pom-tinis.

Several times we talked about Don, even though we didn't know him, and the wizard shed-moving guy, whose name, at least his first name, is Jerry, it turns out. But things never got any more clear than that.

And then sometime before midnight we all went home and left Clark alone. His Easter cookies were all gone by that point, but he still has the New Yorkers.