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Friday, October 28, 2011

PMC, Age Woes, and Wickedness

I dreamed from childhood of being able to work with PMC, although it wouldn’t be invented for another twenty-five years.  Why couldn’t one make precious metals into a workable clay, that once dried and fired emerged from the kiln as a sculpted piece of pure silver or gold?  Thankfully, my daydreaming about the “what ifs” of jewelry creation was shared by scientists at the 3M companies, who finally developed a recipe for Precious Metal Clay, now available in all sorts of elastic permutations in silver, gold, copper and other elements.  I haven’t a kiln, so attempting to use PMC would be senseless right now, but I hope that one of these days, in my dream house (which will consist mostly of workshops and a large library), I’ll have one installed.

I did have PMC for the first time this last month, but it was PreMenstrual Cramping of the hot-irons-applied-to-the-lower-half-of-my-back kind, not of the gilded nature.  It was a sort of trial by fire, as it felt like my kidneys and assorted other organs were being slow-roasted.  I’d been blissfully pain-free for decades with regards to cyclical girly matters, and all of a sudden I was laid low, wrongly ascribing this severe discomfort to my wearing of a new pair of tennis shoes with air-filled pockets in the soles. But my second X chromosome, not Reebok, was to blame.  Sometimes I really hate being female.  Other times I love it, because I can swan around in funky embroidered wear and beaded slippers and be considered only mildly wacky, rather than downright nuts, which I would be if I were a guy sporting the same colorful outfits.

Work is good, but exhausting.  I am busy morning to night every day.  Every day is different, and often in a different location, which means that I average more than an hour in the car daily (a short and blissful period compared to most commutes in the greater DC area, made even happier by the fact that I always have a novel to read on my steering wheel when traffic’s at a standstill).  Everything involves some organizing, and then a variation of tagging or cataloging, usually with a mind to assess value, either for retail or auction, or for insurance purposes.   And then there is the clutter of my own home to be sorted, something I am loath to do when I return home after a long day up to my armpits in other people’s possessions.  I just want to curl up on whatever small piece of territory is left uncovered by stacks of fabric, pieces of lamps, and jewelry components, and nap.  Only a month until the annual Georgetown show, and I have nothing ready for it!  Exactly a month until my 37th birthday, and I am most certainly not ready for that, either.

My baby brother turned 29 Tuesday a week ago.  I called to twit him about being almost thirty, and he responded by pointing out that I, personally, was within spitting distance of 40.  Touche.  He sounded good for a guy who'd spent the better part of the morning dissecting a human leg and had come home to reemerse himself in a John Le Carre novel.  I am looking forward to seeing him at Thanksgiving.

Grandmommy said she'd had a great 89th birthday when I called her that same Tuesday night.  She'd gone on her usual multi-mile walk in the morning and had been fielding congratulatory phone calls much of the afternoon.  I was after dark calling myself, because I worked late at my new book-cataloging gig and then called her before I reported for another three hours of ticketing estate sale consignments.  I didn't get home until after midnight.  I had an even later night the previous weekend, also doubling on the work-commitments on Saturday, meaning I was drawing some wage for at least twelve hours.  Needless to say, I have darkened the door of the gym only once in the last two weeks--though part of that wussiness was due to the aforementioned worst backache I've endured since injuring myself doing a charity book sale half a decade ago. 

We'd bad theft at our estate sale last weekend--Friday an entire mink jacket disappeared, and we still can't figure out how (those things aren't exactly non-bulky)—and numerous smaller items went AWOL, including a wooden bowl I’d consigned.  Rampant price-switching was the new norm.  Many nasty, messy people trashed the place—CDs scattered all over the floor, linens tossed on the bed, clothing carelessly dumped in the bathroom, just unbelievable.  We don’t know exactly how to avoid this in the future, given that the house was a nice area (Potomac, MD—where the rich folks live) and shouldn’t necessarily have attracted lowlifes to begin with—we had next to no problems when we did a house in the ‘hood last year off Georgia Avenue in DC.  Or maybe we had problems precisely because the area was so nice, whereas thieves didn’t think to come to the house downtown because they thought there wouldn’t be anything worth taking.  Ironically, stealing from a house is a felony in Maryland, so these light-fingered creeps are risking serious legal trouble, not just a misdemeanor shoplifting charge.  If we could only catch them!  Short of having an off-duty cop in every room, I don’t see how we can, and it’s depressing to think that people would just come in and take what doesn’t belong to them.  And after we’ve worked so hard to organize it and present it in the best light!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Late Night, Five Days Ago

It’s getting to that time of night when I start seeing alien faces leering at me from the curlicue patterns in the Persian silk rug draped over the end of my bed.   Of course, being temporarily bereft of Internet access at home means I can’t figure out what exact species of grasshopper nearly caused me to keel over from fright this afternoon, so I can only describe it as an unholy cross of a spider and cricket, all big and thin and creepy and stripy and crouched ready to spring in a flock of a score or so in the hollow within the folding table I was setting up in the basement of the house where we’re doing a sale.  I was so freaked out by the sight of these horror movie escapees that I almost vomited my heart (which I found had suddenly lodged itself in the vicinity of my vocal cords), while my skin had gone goosebumps in a fraction of a second.  Nasty, nasty creatures.  Not at all like the jolly fat brown crickets that occasionally turn up in my apartment—those I catch in my bare hands, toss in the toilet, and flush while cackling evilly.   I don’t even think a clutch of roaches, as awful as they are, would have made me as jittery.  Roaches--at least Yankee roaches such as we have here (quite unlike the poetically-named Palmetto bugs of South Carolina)—only run, they don’t jump.  And they can be stomped.  These things made me want to turn and run shrieking.  Instead, I slammed the table halves back together and ran the whole out into the back yard, where I flipped the thing open and over and released the ‘hoppers out into the wild.  But my skin continued to crawl for half an hour at the thought of them.   I may have to start carrying a brace of frogs in my pocket holsters in self-defense.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Seven Years In Blogspot

Yesterday was the seventh anniversary of this foray into blogdom.  I went to the Maryland Renaissance Fair with a girlfriend and a coworker of hers, Bree.  Bree just got back from a purely recreational trip to eastern Turkey, where she wandered far afield with hundreds of other Western hikers, exploring this land of cheese and honey, staying off mountains known to be infiltrated by Iranian kidnappers, yet venturing into other heavily-militarized zones to see ruinous castles and ancient churches.  I wish I weren't such a chicken and were brave enough to undertake such independent adventures, but I am an armchair explorer when alone, and usually hesitate to stray from the beaten path without company.  However, perhaps like the Victorian spinsters to whom I not infrequently compare myself, I will eventually become something of a corseted swashbuckler in my later years, dancing on Himalayan peaks and canoeing in Andean rivers, among visits to other less-civilized places.

The Renn Fair was set up neatly as usual (one of the reasons I enjoy going, besides all the arts and crafts and shows and opportunities for people-watching, is they've got it organized so well, from staff directing parking to staff managing the long lines at the privy stations, which are well stocked with hand cleanser and paper towels), but the weather was cold and dreary, and about 4:30 a chilly rain started falling, which sent us shivering under our anachronistic umbrellas.  We'd earlier combated the cold with that long-debunked standard remedy: alcohol.  My companions got glasses of mead, while I chose a cupful of hard cider.  We'd all have rather had warm mulled wine, but curiously (it's October--you'd think they'd expect some cooler weather, given that the fair lasts until the end of the month) that wasn't available.  But the drinks did make us feel less frozen for a while under our stockingless old-style garb, as did the spinach pie we had for lunch, and we watched a juggling and balancing act and then found our way to the jousting ring, which had been upgraded since last year.  Unfortunately, one of the "knights" was unhorsed in the first tilt and went helmet-first into a wood doorpost, so that cut short that particular event.  The man in question was able to remount after some worried flurry around his supine armored form by his squires, but he was out of the running as far as any immediate daring-do, and I expect was carefully checked for a concussion afterwards.

Before we left, we stopped to grab a final deep-fried treat--a trio of battered Oreos.  Only after we'd placed our order and were huddling with the other patrons under the dripping awning did we notice that, unlike the rest of the booths, the preparation area of the stand selling this cardiac-arresting confection looked positively medieval--there was a grimy five-foot wall separating the cooking area from the counter, and behind this buttress peered a skinny one-eyed man (he wore no patch--the sightless eye was milky) with unwashed grey hair wearing what I took at first glance for a camouflage baseball cap.  Then I realized that the Advanced Auto Parts logo crowned the area above the cap's bill and the whole thing had once been taupe--the camouflage pattern was suggested by the large spots of grease and smears of grime that covered it and the face of the man who wore it.  Around this frightening apparition rose roiling grease smoke, and every minute or so he'd turn around from whatever witches cauldron he was stirring and his filthy bare hands would cradle an order of fried chocolate-covered bacon, or fried Snickers, or some other delicacy in a little paper tray up over the lip of the partition.  Maybe one does not need to venture out of suburban Maryland to encounter the odd peril.