why is this cat screaming...?


okay, technically that isn't true. apparently she has lymphocytic-plasmacytic gingivitis stomatitis (LPGS), which means she is allergic to her own plaque.

since you can't really have teeth without plaque, it's basically the same thing in my eyes.

at least now we know why she smells so bad.

sorry trixie.


you may already be a winner...

it's killing me. who knows what this truck does?!?!?

somerville works

seriously. i know... i can be obsessive. it's true. i perseverate. and i ponder. and certain things get caught in my head. and then the more i think about them, the more they begin to nag...

so help me out folks. i saw the truck in the somerville parade. i know it's part of Somerville Works. but that's all i know. and now i can't stop thinking about it. it looks a little like one of those crap vacuums that they have in european cities, that do nothing but drive around and suck up dog poo. but it has that fancy winch in front, as if it will be rescuing small children from the bottom of wells. yet those tubes on the sides look like they could launch rockets. and it's oh so very shiny, like a toy. what does the DPW need with a crap-sucking-timmy-fell-down-the-well-scud-missile-launching-tonka-truck?

and i mean it -- a dozen homemade cookies to the first person who can tell me what the heck this thing does!!


casa highland gets in on the action...

so kathryn came home from her college reunion yesterday all tired and possibly (heck, probably!) hung over. she was just in time to watch the parade go by. the arts council had made a special float, which she helped put together. i was of the mistaken idea that she would actually be *in* the parade, but apparently this was not to be.

until shayne and i started instigating.

and nagging.

and cajoling.

and *inspiring*.

so up the street she ran, where she hopped on the float, and rode it down. throwing out old expired art beat dog tags to the adoring crowd. making art for freedom.

arts council

i scream, you scream, we all scream...

i like my job. in theory, i derive pleasure from increasing other peoples’ happiness quotients (giving people ice cream makes them happy!). however, the reality of my job is that it's filled with the tedium of answering the question, “what is cow tracks?” roughly 139 times every shift (it's a sweet cream base with a fudge swirl, mini peanut butter cups and chocolate chips, in case you're wondering), calling the cops on the bum who’s peed all over himself in front of the store, and getting yelled at for the high price of homemade ice cream (like i'm personally profiting… i’m not exactly moneybags mcgee over here, people).
a few days ago when some guy asked me how thick our frappes are (milkshakes for you non-new england natives). i answered him in my driest tone, ‘they’re about an 8 on the viscosity scale.’ he smiled and said
sincerely, ‘that sounds great!’ i guess stupid questions deserve stupid answers that involve fabricated measuring systems.
then there are the questions that completely dumbfound me. ‘what does your black raspberry taste like?’ uh, it tastes a lot like black raspberries. hence the name. 'what's coffee oreo?' we're not exactly ben & jerry's - no lyrical and obtuse names like the gobfather, vermonty python or phish food here. if it's called 'coffee oreo', chances are good that it is in fact coffee ice cream with oreos in it.
the other day some girl asked me what the hardest ice cream to scoop is, then promptly ordered it. great, now the customers are intent on making me work even harder for my just-above minimum wage hourly rate. carrying 6 buckets (roughly 90 lbs) of ice cream up the stairs at the same time clearly means that I’m slacking and I need to be working harder. why doesn't everyone just get whatever’s hardest to scoop so shayne’s right bicep becomes even more freakish! hey, at least I know that if this ice cream gig doesn’t work out, I can join the circus freakshow as the amazing lopsided woman.
however, my favorite of all the weird questions/feedback at the ice cream store has to be the customer comment card that was filled out last year complaining that our ice cream tastes too much like what it's supposed to be. the example this astute customer used was the oreo ice cream - it tastes just like actual oreos, not enough like vanilla ice cream with oreos in it. they should definitely stay away from the chocolate ice cream, then. it tastes suspiciously chocolately.


... tiny american flags for others!

marching band

one of the joys of living on the main drag in somerville is that all of the parades go right by the house. i can wander out in my bare feet, sit on the stoop, and enjoy the wonder that is somerville. this place, while being the most densely populated city in MA (and in the top ten of the entire U.S.), still struggles to rest somewhere between modern metropolis and small town. nothing highlights this better than an olde tyme parade.

for two hours, shayne and i watched a long slow trek of people celebrating the holiday. there were marching bands, cheerleaders, armed forces (and not so armed forces, such as the transit police), bagpipers, clowns, nuns, flag girls, weird cars and trucks, little league teams, clydesdales, civil servants, shriners, shriners, and more shriners. if it weren't for the shriners, i would guess that the whole thing would have taken 45 minutes tops.

which left me to wonder about the shriners. they have appeared in most parades and celebrations that i have seen in the U.S. and yet i was left scratching my head, wondering "who are these men, and what the heck do they do??". so i pulled out my trusty "international encyclopedia of secret societies & fraternal orders" and did a little research.

shriner wheeliethe shriners full name is The Imperial Council of the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. no wonder they thought to shorten that. and they are an offshoot of the Masons (Ancient, Free, & Accepted). any master mason of the 32nd degree, or a Knights Templar, can get in. they are the wacky side of the usually very serious Masons.

according to lore, it was started because the Masons were teetotalers, and these men wanted to drink booze. they almost got kicked out of the Masons for being boisterous drunks, until they started turning some of their extra energy to good works. the shriners hospital kept them in the good graces of the Masons, and generally kept them from getting arrested for all of their wild shenanigans. it has not, however, kept them in the good graces of people who are followers of Islam. the shriners have ripped off and bedazzled a lot of their rituals and apparently generally piss them off.

shriner scooterand, as i suspected... ladies can't be shriners. if you are the wife, mother, daughter, or sister of a shriner, you can join the auxiliary Ladies Oriental Shrine of North America, but you can't get the sparkly fez or drive in the tiny cars or get elected to Most Illustrious Grand Potentate.

basically what i learned is that the shriners are even weirder than i initially thought.


i confess...

many of my friends and family have heard me brag about my mad culinary skillz. i will talk your ear off about the importance of cream of tartar in making the perfect snickerdoodles, or how a little bit of lemon juice really just brightens up any meal. while i might not be able to pick a decent table wine, i can find a ripe melon, or a juicy lime, or generally tell if pork has been infused with water and salt prior to packaging. i own more specialty kitchen gadgets than a kitchen of my size should have. a zester. a ginger grater. a marble mortal and pestle. a freakin' cake fork for christ's sake. i have a hand cranked bread maker from the 50's, and an electric one from the nineties. i own more cookbooks than i own dictionaries.

and while my tastes tend to run to the comfort food, it's always just a little fancy. meatloaf wrapped in bacon. macaroni and cheese made with gruyere and gorgonzola. toasted pine nuts in everything.

and yet... i do confess... i have a love of junk food. and i don't mean junk food in the "twinkie" sense (although i did once make the loved and feared twinkie casserole for shayne), but in the convenience food, there's-no-real-food-in-my-food, sort of way.

i am terribly embarrassed about this.

so, to purge my guilty conscience, i do hereby avow my deepest love for the following:

suddenly salad mix in a box
magic shell
cake mix
peperidge farms frozen garlic bread
any kind of doughnut, the crappier the better
cheese wiz
coffemate creamer
pilsbury crescent rolls
any mini sausages, preferably with tasty dippin' sauce

whew. i feel better now.



friday night shayne and i went out with peter and brenda to catch a night of amateur porn. it was the seventh annual "You Oughta Be in Pictures" show, sponsored by local women-friendly sex shops Grand Openings and Good Vibrations. people spend all year sending in submissions for the event, which is run three times. three master dvd's are made, and at the end of the night, each is ritualistically destroyed.

the clips are all shorts, which run from the funny to the dirty to the down-right kinky. but really the whole thing is just a celebration of sexuality. the actors appear to be having a good time, the audience is enthusiastic, and Kim Airs, the curator of the fesitval has a good sense of what plays well to a mixed crowd.

it seems like it's a great chance for everybody to get their preferences validated. there was an homage to men in thongs, a sneak peek at the sexual life of doughnuts, some intense gender-bending, and a deep respect for the sexuality of the older generation, the younger generation, and everybody in between. gay, straight, plushie or s/m. it was all there. and the audience loved it.

perhaps the funniest clip of the night was the last, which involved an erect penis and a lamb chop puppet. since we had already seen so much debauchery, we were expecting it and resigned, except for the young man behind me who blurted out "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! NO, LAMB CHOP! DON'T DO IT!!". but she did, and now we are all educated as to where baby lamb chop puppets come from. i think Shari Lewis might be turning over in her grave.


standing around and eating snacks for hunger

standing for hungershayne and i just did our annual volunteering for the Walk for Hunger. she and i have done this together most years for the past six years or so. our old company used to organize troops to help marshall crowds and direct walkers through busy intersections. while most of us no longer work for the company (and in fact, tend to call ourselves "survivors" of the place), we still show up year after year, to hold the same signs, and stand on the same corners, to help out.

and eat snacks.

one of the great ironies of this gig is that they pack up snack bags. free chips and drinks and coffee and doughnuts and candy bars. so while other people are trudging 20 miles to stamp out hunger, we lollygag, smoke cigarettes, eat free snacks. i felt a little guilty about the whole thing.

do i still feel like what i did contributed? sure. in that old lady sort of way. i dread becoming one of those people who no longer gives their time or energy, just their money. although that's valid, too.

helping out comes in many forms, and i was raised to raise my voice for what i believe in. when i was younger, i donated blood and marched on washington. i went to peace vigils and took back the night. i once even went so far as to lash myself to a trident nuclear submarine. i spent four years donating my time as a rape counselor, being on call for the hospitals for victims of sexual assault. i saw the worst that the world had to offer. and yes, when i was a teenager i even actually walked the Walk for Hunger.

and i just realized that i trudged those 20 miles, back in 1987, eating snacks, drinking coffee, and smoking cigarettes.

maybe i really haven't changed that much at all.


the lord giveth...

and the lord apparently taketh away my magical blizzard toaster.

it's gone.

as quickly as it appeared on the roof of the car, it vanished from the casa porch. who wanders around the homes of somerville, desperately searching for a free small kitchen appliance?

i dunno.

maybe it gets more at the redemption center than the bounty of diet coke and seltzer bottles we leave in the recycling. maybe some tufts kid, all hopped up on goofballs, had the munchies and desperately needed a pop-tart.

and maybe i imagined the whole thing.

but i swear it was there.

ride me sexy.


ride me sexy!

there is something slightly magical about the casa. i don't know if it's our magnetic pull... or the junky look of the outside of the house... but it seems to be the repository of other people's unwanted crap. and i am not talking about the detritus of the inhabitants. nope. people just leave their trash here.

ride me sexythis weekend somebody left us an old stairmaster. we don't know where it came from. but there is appeared in front of the casa. a few hours later, somebody added the "ride me sexy" sign. and a few hours after that, it was gone.

this isn't the first time stuff has just shown up here. during this winter's blizzard, a toaster automagically appeared on the roof of one of the cars. it's cord was laid out straight behind it, trailing down the back window. and the snow drifted around it. who carries around a toaster in the middle of a blizzard. and why?

earlier this year it was a copy of the book "Schnozzola: The Story of Jimmy Durante". it appeared on the roof of the grannymobile, open to a winsome picture of the big-nosed man himself.

why us? why here? and what the heck is going to appear next??