I'm leaving the old intro here, but adding this- it appears the doves have taken over my blog for their fiction. Just as well, I was doing a piss poor job of updating. They're doing much better.

This blog is infrequently updated, full of incorrect spellings, misused words, and general bad grammar. It started when I was trying to use google+ (which I've since given up on) and discovered there was no character limit for posts. If you've known me a long time, a lot of these stories will be old hat. If you plan to know me for a long time, you'll no doubt hear many of them in person. But, folks seemed to enjoy them, so here they are.

Friday, August 26, 2011

the twentieth story

Another story, this one set in Brazil.

Dustin and I flew into Manaus to meet my Brother and Yuka, and we all went out onto the Amazon. We had a guide and were out for maybe five nights? I'm not totally sure. One night, Dustin wanted to take a night walk- lord knows what he thought we'd see, but we all got ourselves together. At the last minute, the guide decided he didn't want to go, and sent us with the cook, instead. That is another story. This story is very short. We only had one flashlight, and the cook had it in the front, and somehow or other I was in the back. Only about 200 yards from the campsite, I stepped in a hole. I admit it- I squawked like a startled parrot. My brother, right in front of me, turned around quickly enough to see me still descending into the hole. It ended up only being about thigh deep, and I was totally fine, but much later in the evening, when we finally got back, he admitted to having a split second of envisioning himself trying to explain to my mother when he got home that he'd lost his little sister fall down a rat hole.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

the nineteenth story

Today, a Massart story:
a little context is necessary for this one. I was a small metals major at Massart, but spent at least as much time in the foundry and attached large metal studio as I did in small metals. Small metals was a very clean, quiet studio- the kind of place where you could concentrate on setting a stone just so. Large metals was loud, and chaotic, and very dirty. I looked like I belonged in the latter.

So there I am, covered head to toe in black dirt, in a tank top and stained carrharts, sitting on my bench at the end of the row in small metals. I was grinding off a sprue (that would be where you pour whatever material you're casting into whatever it is your casting). It was from a bronze thing that I'd cast in the foundry, but was relativly small, so I was using the flex shaft. Most of the casting I did was large scale, and sprue grinding would have been done downstairs, with an angle grinder, standing up. A flex shaft is used sitting down. The red hot sprue flew off when the grinding was done- right down my pants.

I reacted the way that anyone would to a cherry red bit of bronze down one's pants. I yelled like a lumberjack, lept up, put my hand down my pants, and, when that didn't work, dropped my trousers in the middle of the studio, while still cursing more or less at the top of my lungs.

I still have a scar in an unmentionable location, and I NEVER go into the studio without a belt.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

the eighteenth story

Today's ever so short story: On my way back from the post office, I passed a pickup truck with a trailer full of lawn equipment. Tied to the back of the trailer were a bunch of cans and a "just married" sign.

the seventeenth story

and a story:
When we were getting ready to sell the house in Somerville, we redid the kitchen. The old one was awful, and while I'm perfectly capable of living with an ugly kitchen, apparently other folks have difficulty seeing past it. When we pulled out the old cabinet, the kickplate had text on the back. We were able to assemble it and discovered that it was an informational sign from a very old show at the Fogg Museum; the show had been focused on Chinese Calligraphy, and the sign was about one particular period (I don't remember which). I'm still carrying it around, and sometimes I cut pieces off and make things of them.

the sixteenth story

So much for trying to write up a story a day, which makes it ridiculous to open with "today's story"

On that note, another story: When Hamlet first showed up, he would run away all the time. Despite this, I would let him hang in the backyard while I was working in the basement, even with all the holes in the fence. He never seemed inclined to go through them. One day, I heard him barking, from what seemed too far away, so ran upstairs to check- he was in the front yard, barking like mad, but well on our side of the fence. no problem.
A few days later, I ran into Joe, mailman, on his rounds, and he asked if I'd gotten my dog back ok. I asked what he meant, and he said he'd found Hamlet a few blocks away, brought him back in his mailbag, and put him in the yard. I quickly realized that had to have been when I found him in the front yard. I thanked Joe profusely and asked if Ham had given him any problem. His response? "He only bit me a little"

the fifteenth story

Today's Story: This was freshman year of high school (maybe sophomore year?). I had my first "real" boyfriend- you know, the kind that you actually kiss, on the lips? and we were out back, behind the school, in the woods, doing some kissing. At some point, I felt a tickle on my ear, but I'd never made out with a guy! I wasn't going to get distracted that easily. The tickle, however, got worse, and kinda moved down my ear canal, getting louder and louder. Turned out to be an ant, who had crawled inside my ear. We ended up spending about a half hour trying to catch this ant with the tweezers from my swiss army knife, as I listened to him stomping around inside my head. It wasn't very sexy. Hilarious, though.

the fourteenth story

Been a bit, here's another short, unedited story.
In Mali, with my mom, we went on a walk through the Dogon country. At one point, we dropped off our packs in one village and walked to another- Mamadu knew I was a metalsmith and wanted to introduce me to the blacksmith. On the way back, Mamadu looked at the sky, and casually said "maybe we should hurry". Mom and I thought very little of it, he seemed so relaxed about the idea; and while we didn't stop to take pictures, we didn't really hurry, either. After about fifteen minutes, Mamadu looked at the sky again, and said, in his same, relaxed manner "Maybe we should hurry". Mom and I started walking faster, but the rocks were tall, and climbing not easy, so we still weren't making good time compared to what Mamadu would do on his own. About half way home, Mamadu looked at the sky again and said, with respect but a bit of an annoyed edge "Maybe we should hurry". Mom and I got the point, and started moving as fast as we really easily could. Then, about 3/4 of the way there, Mamadu looked at the sky, grabbed my bag and said "Maybe we should hurry", and started helping shove us up rocks. Within sight of the village, but with one very large dropoff left to go, Mamadu looked at the sky and said "Maybe we should hurry" Only then did mom and I see what he had seen over an hour before- a black wall. We started clambering down the cliff. Mom, who has always been more comfortable with down than I, took my camera, and all three of us entered into the downward climb at a speed that makes more sense as a partially controlled fall. We made it to the bottom just as the sand hit. I grabbed my camera back and wrapped it in my hastily removed headscarf, and we started trying to run for the village, totally blind. Just as we made it to the village, the sand stopped, and the rain hit. Newly exfoliated, we sat in our lovely mud hut, built with its back to the direction of the wind, and watched waterfalls form on the rock walls of the valley.

the thirteenth story

Today's Story: When I was seventeen, and in Costa Rica, I cut my thumb very badly on a bit of broken bamboo. I realized fairly quickly that I would need stitches. I didn't know what to do- I didn't speak a word of Spanish, and I was there as part of a college class- I didn't even know exactly where I was, much less how to find a docter. One of the other students, who DID speak Spanish, found one of the farm's owners, and persuaded him to drive us into town to go to the clinic. It was about an hour in, and then, when we got there, there was an incredible line. There were people camped out, clearly ready to spend days there in order to get antibiotics for very sick children, or to have badly broken bones set, or who knows what else. Suddenly, it didn't really seem like keeping the end of my thumb was so important. The man who had driven us there was quite a rich man, and walked us to the front of the line. I said nothing, embarrassed to tell him he'd driven me there for nothing, and unable to ask him to wait in line. I have never stopped feeling horrible about cutting that line for 12 measly stitches.

the twelth story is so short it is almost a haiku

Exhaustion and a very very very short story:

3 miles, straight out, against the tide in a kayak no intended for the ocean is really quite the workout. But, there is a peregrine falcon nest on the breakwater.

the eleventh story

Today's Short Story:
My old roommate Tom used to make us all chili, on a semi-regular basis. This was awesome. One day, he came home with some unmarked peppers and went to sautee them to put in the chili. I was back in my bedroom, with the door closed, but even so, I started coughing. And then it go worse. Finally, I opened the door to ask what the hell was going on, and was hit by what can accurately be described as a cloud of pepper spray. Tom must have heard me open the door, since at that moment he shouted "Go out the window! Save yourself!".
We all survived, but it was several hours till we could go back in the house.

the tenth story is very short

Today: woke up, had a good breakfast, went swimming in the ocean, kayaked for four hours, swam in a pool, came home, had dinner, went back out to a carnival, danced foolishly with my mom, rode the giant slide, and had freshly made cotton candy.

the ninth story

Today's story:
Back when I was at Oberlin, I went camping on a tiny island in Lake Erie with my friend David. It was post season, so most things were closed, but we made reservations at a little campground. We took a ferry out there, went for a hike, and set up our tent right near the shore- everything was lovely. There was a terrible storm overnight, and I do remember it, but I don't remember being terribly upset by it. When we woke up in the morning, the wind was still blowing fiercely, and the shore was not where we left it. I grew up on the beach in Florida and was very used to tides- somewhere in the back of my mind, something filed "low tide, 9am" without thinking "wait, this is a lake". We made some breakfast, and drove over to the ferry terminal to get home. The ferry wasn't running, because the storm had blown all the water to the other side of the lake. This was not something I was expecting. The storm had also blown out all the communication, and I was supposed to be at work at 10am the next day. We found the only convience store on the island still open, and asked them about the ferry. They said there was another at the other end of the island, at catamaran, that could run in less water, but didn't expect it to be running. Someone had a two way radio, and phoned them up- sure enough, closed for the day. We did not want to set camp back up in that weather- in fact, we were already covered in a thick layer of mud, were freezing, and both really wanted hot showers more than anything. The guys in the shop thought that the proprietors for one bed and breakfast might still be on the island, so they gave us their address and we set off on our quest. We arrived, and sure enough- they were there. They were packed up and ready to go, but had been foiled by the same ferry that had messed up our plans. They took one look at our bedraggled selves, and said that sure, they were still open. Further, when I asked how much it was (it was a nice place, and I doubted I could afford their rate) they said they'd give us the stranded traveler rate, and let us stay for whatever the campground cost, which was so generous it almost made me cry. Then, they made us dinner, and claimed it was included in the room.
We caught the catamaran ferry the next day. At that point, there was no time to go by Oberlin before my shift, so I arrived in my still muddy clothes, hiking boots, and generally not looking my best. When I walked in the door, the district manager, whom I'd never gotten along with, was standing there. He gave me one look, and said that whatever my excuse was, he believed it, and that I could miss this shift with no repercussions.
It really was a good trip. We made friends, we had fun, and we got a good story out of it. Also, I didn't lose my job.

the eighth story

a longer story, today, but it's a good one. This is from a different trip to Thailand, though probably only a few miles from the other Thailand story.
Dustin and I were in Northern Thailand, and decided to rent a motorbike. We took it up the mountain to the temple we wanted to see, and on the way back down, decided to take a side trip to a waterfall mentioned in my guidebook. My guidebook was old, though, (from the first trip) and had already lead us astray several times, so all info from it was being taken as no more than a vague suggestion. The guidebook said the park the waterfall was in would cost about the equivalent of 20 bucks to enter, and that it closed at 5h30. We got to the park, and the gate was wide open, and the gatehouse unoccupied- further, it looked as though that gatehouse hadn't been opened in years. So, we continued on in, spent some time at the waterfall, and, when we were done, started back down.
The gate was closed, and really quite locked. I figured I had some cracker packets and a water bottle, and this was rather a nice spot, anyway, but Dustin was having none of it. The gate only went over the road- on one side there was a sharp cliff going up, on the other a 45 degree gravel covered embankment going down. He thought we could get the bike by on that side. The bike was not large- somewhat bigger than a vespa, not not even comparable to a Harley, and it didn't seem impossible. We got the bike down and in front of the gate, and started trying to get it back up. Dustin started sliding down the gravel. At that point, my goal, in total, was to make sure the bike didn't crush Dustin, and I ended up managing to hook myself to a tree and lock my arms around the bike. This stopped it, but we were MUCH further down the embankment, and had proven an inability to move upwards at all. Dustin got the bike stabilized, and thought he would try to turn it on and possibly use its own power as an assist. I thought this was a terrible idea, and got out of the way. It turned out to be a great idea. When the bike turned on, it's headlight automatically came on. The police/park rangers who had just closed the gate were still at the bottom of the drive. They saw the light in the trees, and came to investigate. I saw them coming (there were as many as twenty, as few as ten) and Thought "yes! It's the police! they've come to save us!" and ran up the hill to greet them. Dustin kinda stepped behind a tree, having possibly a different impression of policemen. The police had learned much of their english from pop songs, and assured me that I was beautiful (complimentary, but not helpful) and that I should stay right where I was (surprisingly helpful pop song lyric), and went down to collect the bike. They found Dustin, assured him that he was also beautiful, and put him out of the way with me. They got the bike up the hill and, with utter disregard for the geography and very clear evidence, decided that rather than us being in the park after hours, we must have had an accident on the road (at least 100m straight downhill). They were amazed that we were ok after such a terrible crash. They taught us how to use the brakes, using only the words "beautiful" and "eyes". We thanked them profusely, and, in the spirit of things, assured them that they, also, were beautiful. And then we road our bike back to our room.

the seventh story

Walking through Prospect park today, my brother reminded me of this story: The Time that Damned Baby Skunk Stole me Beer.
Our house in Somerville had a fantastic back porch, with a grape arbour. There was a skunk who lived underneath, and whom I would see regularly, and address politely as Mr Skunk. I'd wish him a good evening, and kept an eye out for him, but certainly didn't feed him. One summer, Mr. Skunk had her little mini skunklets under the porch. I changed my method of address to Ms. Skunk. Say what you will, but skunklets are possibly the cutest things in the world- cuter than ducklings, maybe even cuter than kittens. So I sat down on the porch, and had a talk with Ms. Skunk. I told her that she and her kits were welcome to stay, but mustn't spray me, my dog, or my tenants, and, in fact, should avoid spraying on the premises at all. they kept up there side of the bargain, so we had a skunk family as semi-tenants.
One weekend the gals upstairs had a barbeque- LOTS of folks on the back porch. This apparently woke up the sleeping, rebellious teenage kits. One of them peeked out from under the porch, on the side. He came out part way, grabbed a beer, and took off. Now, I'm sure that's not what actually happened, that he simply came out part way, got scared, turned around and ran back under, knocking over a beer bottle in the process. But from my perspective, that skunk totally stole my beer

story 6.2

I love flying over mountains and seeing their shadows. I love seeing farms from way way up and trying to figure out what the very long, very light coloured thing is. I love flying over subdivisions, with their little curvy roads spouting culdesacs, and how they look like mesoamerican petroglyphs, if you're far enough up. I love seeing puffy clouds on the horizon, and I love the way the sun hitting the top of the cloud, and the shadow on the bottom, makes them look just like mountains reflected in clear lakes. For what may be the first time, I was descending through those puffy clouds right at sunset, and they were red the whole way through, and then, just as the cloud started feathering, and we were coming out, the whole world was momentarily rose coloured, before it became it's usual, still beautiful, self.

the sixth story

Today's short story, in honor of my impending flight to NYC:
When I was 17, I went to Costa Rica and Nicaragua for the summer. It was the first time i'd ever done any international travel alone, and it was before online ticket booking really caught on, so my dad booked the flights through his travel agent. The result of this was that, on the way home, I had forty minutes in the dallas airport. That's 40 minutes to get off a plane, get my bags, go through customs, get from the international to the domestic terminal, and get back on a plane. This is basically impossible, but, remember, I'd never tried such a thing before, so I didn't know that. I got my bags and hurried to customs. I knew things were iffy, and mentioned the situation to the fellow in front of me- he was some sort of youngish professional, possibly old enough to have a daughter of his own, and he assured me that this would work out, drew me a map of exactly where I needed to go, and told me to run. He let me in front of him in line, and the customs guy let me through real quick, and I took off. The same fellow caught up to me waiting for the tram thing that takes you from terminal to terminal, and shouted "there's no time for that!". He grabbed my (very large) bag, gave me his briefcase, and we took off. He got to my gate slightly before me, and when I ran up, huffing and puffing, I found him standing half in the door of the plane, blocking any attempts to close the ramp. We switched bags back, and I got on.

the fifth story

Another story: Traveling with my mother in northern Thailand, we went on a five day walk. I honestly do not remember the purpose. What I do remember is that I had brand new, non-broken in hiking boots. I was young and stupid, and had not realized how bad an idea this was. In the first four hours, I developed a blister on my left heel with a diameter of almost two inches. This made it impossible to keep walking, not only in those boots, but in any shoes at all. I did the rest of the trip barefoot, which won me more young Thai friends than anything else I could have done as a 19 year old tourist. I got to play barefoot soccer at the top of a mountain (I was NOT the person who kicked the ball off the court, nor was I the person who managed to catch up to it, but I did go careening down the hill after it with the rest of the boys), and at the one point where I couldn't easily walk barefoot- there were very sharp burs on the path- I shared a pair of flipflops with a local young fellow. He would walk about 10 yards, clear a spot to stand on, and throw them to me, I would walk about 10 yards past him, clear a spot to stand on, and throw them back to him, etc. We had a grand time, and I was very happy to be free of boots in that weather, anyway.

the fourth story

Another short story- this one is a family legend and may or may not be true. I suspect it is "based on a true story".

Before my parents had me, they had Tate and Flower. Tate was a german shepard/collie mix of unknown provenance. Flower was a very small black and white long haired mutt who they'd adopted from a friend. At the time of this story, they, and my parents, were living in very rural Pennsylvania, and the dogs were allowed to go out and wander at will. One day, Tate came back without Flower. This was truly odd- they were a pretty good pack, and stuck together reliably. My Dad was home, and swears that Tate "did the Lassie thing". He didn't pay attention at first- Mom was the one who usually listened to the dogs- but Tate was insistent, and eventually, he got worried about where Flower might be, and followed. They walked for a while, and finally arrived at a rabbit hole. Which Tate barked at, vigorously. Dad, now a bit upset to have been brought all this way just to help bark at a rabbit, started to walk away. Then he heard the rabbit bark back, from down in the hole. Tate started digging at the hole, Dad went and got a shovel, and between the two of them, they dug down and released Flower from where the rabbits were holding her hostage.

the third story

today's very short story:
Last year, at a retail fair, a little boy walked into my booth, and immediately started trying on masks. Not a problem- they don't break, and I never put the pointy ones down low. After a few moments, his mom walked in, and told him to put those down, they weren't meant for wearing. Now, I do my damnedest not to contradict parents in front of their kids, but I had several other groups of folks in there playing dressup, and felt I needed to say something, so I just went with "well, they can be for wearing, if you want". She responded with an indignant "Why?!". Before I even had a chance to respond, the little boy, no more than waist high but already possessing the mortification over a parents actions usually reserved for teenagers, burst out with "Mommy!! They're for Carnival!"

the second story

Another short story: I transferred in to Massart, having already attended two (yes two) other schools. I still had to take a few freshman classes, though, including something that involved painting. One of my professors caught me hiding my enormous paintings in a stairwell, and gave me a key to an empty room to use as a studio. This was awesome. For weeks, I had that room to myself, and, being the person I am, I would frequently take off my shirt to paint, as to avoid staining it. That was great, until one day, the professor gave a key to another student, who opened the door to see me, nearly nude, painting a still life. He squeaked, turned beet red, and slammed the door. We later became great friends.

The First Story

This one is brought on by a photo posted by a friend.
In high school, I played in the marching band. One year (was it freshman year?) we went down to Florida, and played in one of an infinite number of parades that go through Disney World. While we were waiting for the parade to start, in our New England wool uniforms, a whole cadre of Micky Mice walked by, in flying V formation, with their heads off, tucked under their arms. If you've seen these creatures, you know they are inhumanly tall- the actual people inside are looking out the bowtie. Thus, when they have the heads off their uniforms, they are, in fact, headless. There had to have been at least 15 of them, all bumbling by in military formality, carrying their heads. It was a crazily beautiful moment, and one I'll carry for a very long time.

Um, Yeah

So, a few weeks ago I joined google+. Couldn't figure out what to do with google+ without just reposting everything I put on facebook (which I already only update once a month or so). Then I discovered that google+ doesn't have a character limit on posts, and started writing short little unedited, sometimes inane, sometimes hilarious stories from my life and travels. Then people liked them and said I ought to share them more widely. So here's some stories, if you want to read them. They aren't edited for grammar or spelling, and I am no writer, but still, stories are fun.

The end