Weekend Scenes

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Watching The Two Towers with Ruby. She doesn’t enjoy the battle at Helm’s Deep as much as I, apparently.

“Oh come on, we can take ’em.”

“It’s a long way.”

“Toss me.”

“What?”

“I cannot jump the distance, you’ll have to toss me…don’t tell the elf.”

Tree planting with mom and dad in the cold and drizzle.

Tree planting with mom and dad in the cold and drizzle.

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Front step pansies, an autumn look.

Front step pansies, an Autumn portrait.

My best friend when cold times come and my skin is reminiscent of sandpaper.  Now travel-sized for your convenience.

My best friend when cold times come and the skin on my face is reminiscent of sandpaper or tar paper or a porcupine with a five-o-clock shadow. Now travel-sized for your convenience.

My oh my, if a gentleman ever proposed to me with this ring, why, I'd just have to accept!

My oh my, if a gentleman ever proposed to me with this ring, why, I’d just have to accept.

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Friday Favorites 4

This Milk-Bone marketing fail:

IMG_1591I discovered this beaut in Target today.

For the Fido who is watching his waistline.  Bring him home the low-cal treat he really craves.

And if the caloric statement isn’t enough to make you pause and raise your eyebrows into your hairline (it was for me), the grammatical error surely is.  Because unless that happy Beagle’s name is Mini and she is the owner or creator of the portion controlled Milk-Bones, there should be no possessive involved.

This meme:

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I cannot explain why Nigel Thornberry’s head placed on any body never ceases to be hilarious.  It is simply so.

This daily dose of literary magic:

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Every single day of the year, The Writer’s Almanac website posts a poem and a series of “this day in history” stories (mostly related to writers).  I’ve been an email subscriber for a few years now, and so my daily literary comfort arrives in my inbox at precisely 12:45 a.m.  If you choose, you can listen to the recording (on the W.A. website or via iTunes podcast) instead of reading the page yourself.

Garrison Keillor, lord of radio, narrates.

This book:

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I’ve read a great deal of literature concerning Nicholas and Alexandra and their family.  I’ve been fascinated with them since a young age, and have consciously tried to learn everything I can about their story.  That being said, it took me longer than it should have to get around to reading Massie’s take, especially since his biography is one of the most frequently cited.

I’ve included Nicholas and Alexandra in my favorites because it is such an exhaustive account of N&A’s childhoods, their reign, the Russian Revolution, their abdication, and their deaths.  Massie has a talent for writing about immensely complex events and people using plain, approachable style.  I like that in a biographer.

There were some things I didn’t like so much, however.  Firstly, Massie’s determination to dramatically point out every bit of irony, coincidence, and “if only.”  Secondly, the lack of attention given to the grand duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia, and Maria.  I realize that since they weren’t able to inherit the throne, they were considered less important than their brother, but that’s exactly what has always made the grand duchesses fascinating to me: four beautiful, intelligent, über sheltered young women, murdered for no reason other than that they were the daughters of the former emperor and empress of Russia.  It’s the worst part of the tragedy.

This movie:

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I had not read the book.  I was unprepared for Anna Karenina’s sudden and violent end.  I shrieked aloud and immediately felt that the English major gods were ashamed of me for not having known what was coming.

Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement) is one of my favorite directors, but I was happy to see him take greater risks with this film than I’ve seen him take before.  At the end of the film you will feel (A.O. Scott (NY Times review) says it best):

“Dazzled, touched and a bit tired. But, really, you should feel as if you had been hit by a train.”

The Gothic Thrill of a Rainstorm Rescue

Note: This incident happened a few years ago, while I was working at Target for the summer.  I found the story saved in a Word document, and thought I should share it on here (everyone loves a good dog story, after all).  I play the clumsy girl in the red and khaki.

A few days ago, I was late for work.  When I finally arrived, my hair was so soaked that it stuck to my forehead in thick chunks.  The top half of my red shirt was wet as well, and my shoes squeaked as I walked down the main aisle toward Pat, who was scanning in Kitchen.

I walked past Kathy, who said “Good morning, Holly,” as she always does.

In fact, Kathy uses my name every single time she addresses me.  It bothered me a little at first, because it seemed as though she was continually trying to prove to me that she remembered my name.  Now I like it, though, because she looks me in the eye when she says it, because when she says my name she makes it sound so solid and important, and because she looks cheerily satisfied when I follow my “Good morning” with her name in return.

I walked past Maria, who commented on my wet shirt.  “What happened?”  she asked.  “It’s not even raining anymore!”

“I know,” I replied, hesitating, “but there was a dog on the highway, and I stopped to bring him home.”

“What a do-gooder!”  I heard Maria exclaim behind me, but I was already moving toward the next aisle, not knowing how to explain more fully.  I’ll try it here:

It was about 6:40 in the morning.  I was on my way to work.  Red shirt, khaki slacks, name badge, What You Missed In History Class podcast.  I had just turned on to the highway when I noticed a large reddish dog standing by the shoulder.  My first thought was that the dog was from my neighborhood, and that his name was Buddy.  My second thought was oh Lord he’s going to run out in front of a car.  My third thought was blurry, because I found myself pulling over and jumping out of my truck, while in complete disbelief that I was actually pulling over and jumping out of my truck.

Up ahead I could see Buddy weaving in and out of traffic.  He was literally chasing cars.  On the highway.  I couldn’t tell if he was having the time of his life, or if he was scared to death, but I certainly knew that he was going to get hit any second.  I began to scream his name, but I could barely hear myself over the roar of traffic.

Just then, a car pulled up beside me.  The man inside rolled down the window and motioned toward Buddy, then toward me.  Then he spun around and drove off down the road, to where Buddy had disappeared amongst cars filled with caffeinated businessmen and moms on early morning shopping missions.  I quickly got into my truck and followed, turning onto a side road where the man had turned.  As I got out of my car a second time, I saw that Buddy was now lying on his side on the shoulder.  The man was squatted next to him, his hand on Buddy’s head.  I rushed toward them, wondering frantically if Buddy was dead, if I was going to have to be part of a roadside scene in which the actors are blurry eyed and messy instead of shining and composed.  I worried, as I hurried, about how I’d take it.  I worried about how Buddy’s owners would take it.

The man looked up as I neared, and said quickly, “Don’t worry, he’s okay.  He’s just scared, I think.”

“That’s good,” I replied stupidly, gazing down at the dog.

Sure enough, Buddy was breathing.  His long red fur moved up and down in big huffs, and he looked at me with as much gratitude as I’ve ever seen in a dog.  He’d had fun, but he was ready to be helped home now, thank you very much.

And then, because I realized the man was looking at me expectantly, I explained: “Oh-he’s not my dog.  He’s my neighbor’s dog.  He lives right down the next street.”  I checked Buddy’s tag to verify.  An address a few blocks away was printed clearly upon it.  Buddy was not a first time runaway.

Since the man already had his own dog in his truck, I offered to drive Buddy home in mine.  Clutching the still-trembling dog by the collar, I ran across the road to where I had haphazardly parked my vehicle.  The doors were locked, and through the streaked window, I could see the keys resting innocently on the seat.

I went back—Buddy still in tow—to explain to the man what had happened.  He started to offer me a ride, but his own dog was in his car with him, and I suspected it might be easier just to walk, rain or no rain.  So, we set off down the street, a bedraggled parade of me in drenched red-and-khaki; Buddy, who had the good grace to maintain an air of humility; and driving behind, the man and his dog.  I wasn’t sure, honestly, why the man was still following.  I wondered briefly whether he doubted I—who had locked her keys in her car—could manage to successfully deliver a dog, whether he wanted to make sure his part in the heroics wasn’t left unmentioned, or, most likely, whether he also appreciated the break from the mundane and the gothic thrill of a rainstorm rescue.

My back hurt by the time we reached Buddy’s house: I hadn’t dared let go of his collar for fear he would bolt toward the highway again, and so had to walk with a hunched shuffle.  But it would be worth it, I was confident.  Perhaps I’m simply not as “good” as the good Samaritans I read about in newspapers.  They always say that they never thought about a reward, never thought about the end result.  They just did what they felt was needed.  But I of the racing thoughts imagined as I walked how wonderful it would be to reunite Buddy with his family.  I imagined they’d explode with relief and happiness and gratitude.

In actuality, the reunion consisted of me knocking on the door of a big brown house at the end of my street, the man standing on the porch behind me.  Three children answered, staring up at us with curious eyes and parting so that Buddy could run between them into the house.  Their parents came forth eventually, and we explained what had happened.  They didn’t seem surprised.  As I suspected, Buddy was not a first-time runaway.  The owners didn’t seem very grateful, either.  Sure, the tears and profuse thank yous I had envisioned were definitely unnecessary, but over the course of our five-minute conversation, the words “thank you” were not said at all.

So, the man and I left.  We were both a little stunned at the cold reception, although we didn’t say so.  We said goodbye, and then he drove back toward the highway, and I hiked home for the spare key to my truck.

I was late for work that day, and when I arrived my clothes and hair were still wet.

Kathy didn’t notice, but Maria asked me what had happened.  I didn’t know how to explain properly, so I didn’t.

I simply walked on toward Kitchen, where I began aiming my PDA laser at labels for cheese graters and garlic presses and wine openers that resembled Swiss Army Knives in their complexity.

Buddy, I hoped, was resting on a large pillow somewhere quiet.  I hoped that he could learn to ignore the faint rushing sound of cars on the highway.  Most of all I wondered, smiling to myself, what he would have done with a car once he’d caught one.

Not Buddy, but our own Ruby when she was still small enough and quiet enough to be a lap dog.  I thought this post needed a dog picture.

Not Buddy, but our own Ruby when she was still small enough and quiet enough to be a lap dog. I thought this post needed a dog picture.

The Brain, The Brain, The Center of the Chain

Friends, I am concussed.  I say this with the utmost dignity, although the concussing itself was the opposite.  My family was engaged in a raucous game of broomball on the lake, when I hit a particularly slick patch of ice.  My feet went up in the air, my body flipped backwards, and I rapped my head against the ice.  I have never put much stock in the phrase “she saw stars,” but stars I saw.  I was okay afterwards, but my symptoms have developed as the days have gone on.  I have headaches, dizziness, nausea, etc.  The whole shebang.

It’s so strange that I have brain damage, that I managed to rattle my brain against my skull, and that now it’s hurting.  The innermost part of me, the command center, is hurting.  I imagine there’s a state of panic going on in there.  I imagine red lights are flashing, alarms are sounding, and neurons are running around screaming.

Anyway, when I’m not having freak broomball accidents (of all sports, right?), I’m working at Target.  As a matter of fact, I worked my last shift there this morning.  In honor of such an occasion, I’m sharing with you a discarded shopping list I found back in the clearance Christmas aisles (also note that the handwriting is very much adult handwriting.  I don’t know if it’s written in some kind of shorthand, or if it’s simply terrible spelling, but it’s entertaining regardless):

1 candy can jelly beans 

4 perses

ribens

bluns

prizes

pizza

DQ cake

P.S. I’ll give you a million brownie points if you can comment explaining the post title’s reference.  No googling allowed.

Things I Learn at Work: Polly Pocket Edition

Do you know Polly Pocket?  The ones I first remember were the tiny, hard, plastic ones.  They were the size of a thumbnail and lived in little cases that when shut, looked like thick makeup compacts.  When open, they made a house, complete with a cradle that rocked, a kitchen door that opened and shut, and a toilet seat that could be left up or put down.  There were wee rooms, all with round dents in the floors where the Pollys could snap in and thus stand upright by themselves.  Later on, the new Polly Pockets came out.  Similar to the ones around today, they were much bigger and came with rubber clothes that could be pulled on and off (not with any small effort, I might add).

A woman I work with, Melanie, told me this morning at around six a.m., when I was still bleary-eyed and walking with Clydesdale steps, that she has collected Polly Pockets for the past twenty years or so.

Melanie is, I’m estimating, in her mid to late fifties.

She told me, as we sliced cardboard into ribbons with our box cutters, that a year or so ago, she passed off her collection (she estimates $500 worth) to her niece, who was at the time pregnant.  The understanding was that her niece, Scarlett, would give the Polly Pockets to her sister, Careen, who has two young daughters.  Careen’s girls could play with the dolls for a few years, and then when Scarlett’s (then unborn) daughter was old enough for them, they would be passed back to her.

Scarlett, however, kept the Pollys in storage instead of giving them to Careen.  When Melanie found out, she confronted Scarlett, who claimed that Melanie had never said anything about them being loaned to Careen.  Scarlett then flat-out refused to pass them on, even threatening a lawsuit.

Eventually, Melanie talked her down, and Scarlett agreed to give the dolls to Careen, who agreed to return them in a few years.

By this point in the story, Melanie and I were walking up to break, each pushing an empty cart.  I asked the most important question of all:

“Did you ever sit down on the floor and play with the Polly Pockets?”

Melanie smiled.  “Oh yes.  I like to set everything up and talk the dolls from one place to the next: the mall, the cruise ship, the RV, the fashion runway…”

MIA

I’m so sorry I’ve been MIA.  But truthfully, there hasn’t been much to say.  I’ve been working at Target.  Most guests are in the holiday spirit.  Some aren’t.  I pulled a calf muscle pushing flats piled with paper towels around the store.  So it goes.

What I really want to tell you, though, is that last night, my gentleman caller and I went to see A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie in Minneapolis.  It was a great time: The acting and music were wonderful, and I was appropriately terrified when the last ghost came out amidst blasts of fog and crashes of thunder.

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Afterward, of course, all we wanted was Italian food.  It was 10 pm, and surprisingly for the city on a Saturday night, not much was open.  Pizza Luce was, though, so we camped out there for an hour or so, eating slices and giggling like children at the waitress who wouldn’t stop refilling our sodas.  (Good service, I guess, but it became slightly disturbing after a while; she was watching us too closely).

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Now, however, I’m off to work an overnight.  10 pm to 6:00 am.  Luckily, I’m armed with ugly sweater, holiday spirit, and Coke.

Three Things

Three Things:

1.  A 24-pack of Coke, when dropped from the height of an average person’s clutching arms to the waxy white linoleum, can spray sticky pop astounding distances. (For once, I wasn’t the one who dropped it)

2.  Grades are in.  Grades should not be shared in public places.  Thus, I will not do so.  (But hallelujah I did better in Grammar and Language than I could have ever imagined)

3.  It doesn’t feel like Christmas to me yet.  I don’t know what the problem is: the tree is up at home, I have most of my shopping done, and I work at Target, where an entire corner of the store is roped off that guests may toss rolls of wrapping paper at each other and elbow each other out for the last box of discount Christmas cards.  I think the stress of finals stunts holiday enjoyment, but hopefully things will pick up soon.