Update on the Mouse Situation

The cabinets in the kitchen are open, so that a curious cat might investigate.

The orange cat is sleeping in a chair in the dining room. The tiny cat is sleeping on a window ledge in my bedroom. The new kitty is sleeping at the end of my bed.

Somehow, I doubt the mouse is very concerned.

Won’t Someone Come and Unstink My House?

Friday morning, I took a few hours to weed some of the big bed  I wanted to get the little trees out of the morning glories, which are just about ready to head skyward (you can tell because, when morning glories sprout, their leaves look like back-to-back horseshoes, but when you see them starting to sprout leaves with three lobes, not two, you know they’re getting ready to climb). I thought, at the time, “you know, the rest of the weekend is going to be very busy. Maybe you should be in the house, cleaning.”

But then I thought–I hate cleaning. And the rest of my weekend is going to be very busy. Why not take these few hours to do something I enjoy?

Ha, well, then, people, that should show you how much I hate cleaning my house! By comparison, I enjoy weeding.

So, here we are and the house smells and the toilet is… shall we say?… adventuresome to flush, because the Butcher has decided that he has broken the new innards and he can’t figure out how and he’s not going to put another new set of innards in there, when he doesn’t know what he’s doing and when our brother who is a plumber will be here next week.

And, while I was at work yesterday, the tiny cat bled all over the bathroom. Which is disgusting and worrisome, except that, by the time we got home, she seemed to be done bleeding. So, I don’t know. I guess we just watch and see?

And I spilled Diet Dr Pepper on the baby blanket I made for my cousin. So, I guess we’re about to see how well this yarn holds up in the wash. Yes, maybe if someone hadn’t left her Diet Dr Pepper cans all over, someone wouldn’t have spilled one on her hard work. Well, maybe someone should get off someone’s back because someone already feels bad enough.

And why didn’t someone nag someone about cleaning the house on Friday? Where was someone then? Friday, someone was all, “Yeah, weeding is a nice way to spend the morning. Go for it.” Thanks for nothing, Betsy. Always on about leaving Diet Dr Pepper cans everywhere. Never “Let’s find the source of that smell long before company comes so we have time to air the house out.”

Anyway, I’ve decided to do another October of ghost stories. It won’t be as good as last year, because, frankly, it’s damn hard to come up with thirty-one ghost stories, let alone another thirty-one. Last year, I felt like I was kind of repeating myself by the end. So, I expect to completely lose the struggle to remain original this year. On the other hand, this year, I have a better idea of what it takes to have 31 stories ready to go by October, so, hopefully I won’t still be writing stories halfway into October this year. So, it may be better.

No, I never did find a publisher for the first set. Maybe, someday, when I’m in better finances, I’ll pay someone to design me a book and just self-publish it.

Anyway, this year, I’ve already got a story about a ghostly tree, which cracks me up to think about, but I think it came out nice in the execution.

Lefty Frizzell’s Grave

Also, I finally made my way over to Lefty Frizzell’s grave, after being his neighbor for over a year. He was not in the cemetery I thought he was in, though, in all fairness, I did not realize that there were two cemeteries on Dickerson Pike. I thought there were two entrances to the same cemetery, but, alas, no. The Dickerson Pike cemeteries, though fairly new by cemetery standards, are old enough to be segregated.

Well, my bad.

Once I got to the right cemetery, he was easy enough to find–there in the “Music Row” section. But he’s got one of those flat headstones with the fake flowers sticking out of the middle, so there’s literally nothing to distinguish his grave from any of the others. Nothing to catch your eye and lead you to wonder about him.

And, bless his heart, nothing to indicate that any fan had been by. No guitar picks, no bottles of booze (though, in his case, maybe that would be distasteful), nothing like you see at other star’s graves. So, I left a stack of pennies. Maybe that will catch on as a thing.

If They Kept Finding it, It Must Be The Best

The International Country Music Conference ended up with a really interesting discussion on whether country music is somehow an inherently Southern phenomenon or if something else accounts for all of the Southern-ness of country music.

So, there were a bunch of people who talked about rural music all over the nation–Maine, the Midwest, etc. And then Bill Malone was tasked with giving the response to all this. I don’t know Bill Malone at all, so I couldn’t tell how serious he was v. how much he’d just been tasked with taking the contrary position. He was in a difficult position, because he really seemed to genuinely like the papers and thought their work was interesting, but he was supposed to take the contrary position–that there is something inherently Southern about country music. Plus there’s the weird dynamic of him having pretty much invented the idea of the study of country music as a scholarly pursuit.

This is to say that there were a lot of interesting angles. Plus, Nolan Porterfield was already gone, which was too bad. I rely heavily on Porterfield to say things that are probably painfully obvious to most people, but I don’t know–like that songs were about three and a half minutes long because that’s about how much recording space you had on a record side back in the day. I seem to recall him talking one year about how we think of the South as the cradle of country music because that’s where people went to record and people went to record there because the trains went there. It was easier to get to the rural South than it was to get into the rural North or the rural Midwest. I would have liked to hear if he still felt that way.

And, friend of Tiny Cat Pants, Barry Mazor did, I thought, a nice job of pointing out that one thing the South had going for it was a large rural population who were proven to spend money on records recorded by other rural Southerners (or people adopting a rural Southern persona), so we should not confuse matters of literal folk-lore (in which we can safely say that all folks, everywhere, create lore) with matters of what record companies are willing to gamble on.

But the thing that sticks in my craw is how Malone’s argument kept circling back to “If there was such great stuff in other parts of the country, why did no one bother to record it? Obviously, they kept coming back to the South because the South is the best!”

And I hate that argument.

But, on the other hand,  I thought he said some really astute things about how the South had some things going for it in terms of having public interest–the strong influence of African American tropes in all things, the strong Evangelical church presence, and the sense that there was always something weird and interesting and “unlike anything you might have heard” going on in the South. I think this is right, that there’s a level of exoticism, without being too foreign to Southern folkloric expressions, for non-Southerners, and a sense of solidarity and regional pride that was necessary for and attractive to the South in the early 1900s, that other regions didn’t need.

Okay, so that’s all well and good. So, it’s probably not fair to me to be still niggling over this idea that people’s continued forays into the South and the spread of a Southern-centric perspective means that, of course, there’s something intrinsically better about Southern music. And basically, it grates on me because, if you were to swap “Southern” with “male,” you get a very common explanation for why there aren’t more women everythings.

This is the way it is, therefore it is correct, just doesn’t cut it for me.

The Butcher May Be Right About Henry

All the things I hoped were buds are out there unfurling into new leaves. Don’t get me wrong, there’s something nice and relieving about seeing a new tree, who has just been through a historic flood, out there putting off new leaves like nobody’s business. It’s really cool and I’m glad to see it’s alive.

But I wanted flowers!

TDOT Tops My Good Guy List!

So, I didn’t want to bug TDOT about my front ditch too soon. I figured they were out putting roads and bridges back together, you know, things people need urgently. So, I didn’t contact them until this week about how the flood had taken out all the rock from the front ditch they had so kindly put in earlier.

I believe that rock saved much of my front yard.

Anyway, so they’re here, right now! This quickly after I contacted them, restacking my rock and replacing a bunch of it. I went out to thank them, both for saving my yard in the first place, and for getting here so quickly.

And I told the guy i went out to talk to how grateful I was that the rock was in place in the first place, because I felt like, without it, I would have lost a huge hunk of my front yard, instead of just the little hunk (because I couldn’t lose dirt until the rock was gone). And he said he had no doubt, because the found much of the rock missing from the ditch clear on the other side of Clarksville Pike, way down the creek.

People, that’s how strong the water rushing through my yard was, at least by the time it got to that corner of the yard.


Anyway, my hat’s off to TDOT.

Guess Who I Had Breakfast With?!

The tiny cat! I heard an earth-shatteringly loud meow coming from the garage. I opened the door. And the prodigal cat had returned. She ate like… well, like a cat who hadn’t eaten in three days.

The Professor and I were just talking the other day about how clear it was that the tiny cat had retired from the CIA, but now I’m not so sure.

In other news, I hear they’ve gotten the oil leak in the Gulf stopped up. I’m not saying there’s a correlation, I’m just saying, America, the next time you need to fly our cat to some secret destination to save the world, please make sure she’s fed.

In other, more serious news, we have a mouse in the house. We keep finding its poop in the most unfortunate places. Three cats and a mouse. Hopefully, now that the tiny cat’s home, she’ll take care of this nonsense.

(In the length of time it’s taken me to write this post–during which I’ve also had a couple of discussions with the Butcher–the tiny cat has eaten a can of wet cat food and I can hear her in there chomping down on the dry. Never leave us again, tiny cat! Or leave a note!)

ICMC Day One

I swear, every year I piss and moan about having to go to the International Country Music Conference and every year I really enjoy it. I think I would complain about having to get smooches from a person with big black eyes who I adored, if I knew about it too far in advance. “Oh, god, smooches. Well, I guess this means I’m shit out of luck on the Dairy Queen front.”

Ha, but if I knew about Dairy Queen, I’d be all “Dairy Queen? But when will there be smooches?”

Anyway, one of the presenters played The Gourds doing “Gin and Juice” and it was very sweet how nervous she was about it, because she really liked it but thought it was a little corny (I think), but then Barry Mazor stepped up and contextualized it in terms of how, in the history of country music, you always see these trends, then you’ll see other artists bringing African American influences into it (like classic country’s relationship to rockabilly), but they hadn’t really seen this in alt.country and he found that curious. But then, here it was.

So, it made it seem as if she’d found something with deep history.

I don’t know. It was just one of those nice moments when you’re like, “Dang, I’m glad I was here for this.”

Tennessee’s Angriest Gubernatorial Candidate is Very Angry

I didn’t watch the Republican gubernatorial debate, because, frankly, I thought sitting around picking my toes would be just as useful. But reports coming out of what happened sound so much like how a liberal would write a parody of a Republican gubernatorial debate that I now wish I’d seen it with my own eyes.

Woods quotes Tennessee’s Angriest Gubernatorial Candidate:

“I sleep with a gun next to my head and I’m not going to tell you what it is or frankly who it’s titled to. To me it’s like a right that we have and I’m a no exceptions, no excuses kind of guy. I think governors, as this separation takes place in our country between good places and bad places and as long as this nanny state federal government is going in that direction, this is one of those things we may have to meet them at the state line about. And I”m just telling you Tennesseans because there are some tough times coming. Don’t elect some sissy wannabe as your governor. It’s time for tough people standing up to protect what we have left in this country. We’re going to need those kind of tough people. This is one of those issues we’re going to have to buck up on.”

People, not in his nightstand, not in a gun safe in his bedroom, but next to his head! I suppose tossing and turning in one’s sleep is for sissies? When Wamp gets up in the morning, instead of sheet-prints in his cheek, does he have the relief of the bumpy grip of a gun handle? Why bring up who it’s title to? I mean, it’s either his or his wife’s right? Unless it’s the gun of a sissy?

At the next debate are they all going to have to pull out their dicks to prove who’s bigger?

I mean, really.

As for the “sissy” stuff, what next? Are we going to have to endure insinuations about which candidates are “light in the loafers”? Is this going to be the summer of Zach Wamp finding antique ways of insinuating his opponents are homosexuals? I mean, it’s bad enough that he thinks casting aspersions on his opponents’ sexuality is a winning strategy. That’s going to be unfun to deal with all election season. But by god, does he have to be so square about it?

I’m half imagining that the Tennessee papers will have to all chip in and hire a 75-year old to decipher Wamp’s bigotry.

“Okay, William, Wamp said that Haslam is more Ginger than Fred. Is that a slur against gays or a knock on women or anti-redhead bigotry? Who is this ‘Fred’?”

All right, I’ll concede, it would be kind of funny if only old people got Wamp’s insults.

Is the Tiny Cat Mad at Me?

For two days the tiny cat has not come to breakfast. I was worried that she’d gotten out and wandered off, but the Butcher said he hung out with her yesterday.

And the new kitty keeps bringing me ticks.

Shoot, I tell you what. You dress like a German Shepherd and bark at everyone one evening and all of a sudden people are so sensitive.

Music for Hot Weather

Once upon a time, my friend Matt put this song on a mix tape for me, back when such things were actual tapes, and I listened to it over and over again. I love Muddy Waters as it is. I just think he has one of the voices of the 20th Century.

But what I really like about this song is harder to put my finger on. It’s not just the lyrics and the music. It’s something weird going on. It’s like you can hear the hot, smoke-filled summer air between the musicians. Morganfield sounds like he’s right up next to you, his whole body pressed against yours, his lips right by your ear. And, I guess you could mistake the drums for the racing of your own heart.

But there’s something about the echo on the guitar and the bass (not how they echo each other, though that’s very nice), but how those notes seem linger so long, like they’re just hanging in the night air, one hot July. This song just sounds like a hot night to me.

Fingering My Poppies (Not a Euphamism! Though… it would be a cool one if it was)

I have been going out every morning and fingering my poppies. This is just, basically, grabbing the leaves, rubbing them, trying to decide which ones have signs of life and which don’t. I think the bigger one is going to pull through just fine, but the two smaller ones are still kind of giving me fits. Don’t get me wrong. They were in bad shape when I bought them, but they were inexpensive, and I was determined that they’d perk up once they got in the ground.

The thing about Bates, though, is that they keep their plants really, really wet and my ground is still really wet. So, I’m not sure how much to actually water them. My ground is certainly not as wet as Bates keeps their plants, but I’m sure as hell not watering anything else in the yard. Shoot. It’s still muddy under the trees. But I feel like watering helps the plants settle.

So, I don’t know. I didn’t water them Monday or Tuesday, but I watered them this morning. I also think there’s definite signs of new growth on both of the smaller plants, though it’s also obvious that the almost dead leaves are genuinely dead. I wonder if I should pick them off.

My Shasta Daisy is working on some blooms. I about want to roll my eyes and tell it “Um, your cousins got here weeks ago, where’ve you been?” Ha, well, I will be curious to see what the differences between the shasta daisy and the ox-eye daisy are, but frankly, I’m a little tired of white. Thank goodness the columbine have been colorful, and the blanket flowers, but I will have ox-eye daisy plants to give away, at some point. I like them fine, but there are too many.

Also, did you know that chamomile smells like green apples?

“When Do Hollyhocks Bloom?”

Every day I come home from work and I go out to inspect my garden and see what is happening where to whom. I have eternal patience and curiosity about when the magnolia will bloom. I know, if it does, it will be any time now, because I see the buds and I see other magnolias in the neighborhood with their big white flowers like grandmas with arms full of handkerchiefs bidding you adieu.  So, either Henry will bloom this year or he won’t. I don’t know.

But with the hollyhocks, this is the year! Last year, I planted them, watched them come up and then nothing. Now, this is to  be expected. Hollyhocks don’t bloom in the first year (though some will, just to fuck with you, or so I hear). But they also don’t do much above the surface. All the action is down below, where they’re making vast webs of roots (one reason my hollyhocks survived the flood just fine; they were well-anchored). This is the year all that root building leads to something above ground and I’m just waiting for it to start. I have two or three hollyhocks that look like they might have the starts of buds and every day I go out to see how they’re doing.

The Professor has some awesome hollyhocks in the yard next to hers and I vaguely remember having them when we were little. But I’m still kind of mystified and curious as to how this huge tower of flowers is going to happen. And I can’t wait!

So, this morning, I went to type “When do hollyhocks bloom?” into Google, when, of course, it came right up in the autocomplete. Apparently, I have asked this question before. I think the thing is that I don’t like the answer. I don’t want to wait until mid-summer!

I’m still confused about whether hollyhocks are actual true biennials or just short-lived perennials. I mean, it seems like, if they were honest to god true biennials, I’m going to be sorry I didn’t plant more seeds along the back of the bed this year, because I am dooming myself to hollyhocks only in alternating years. Bloom this year. Die off. Seeds grow next year. Bloom the year after. etc.

Unless… and this is something I’ve been wondering with a lot of perennials (and biennials)… if they go to seed this year, do the seeds germinate this year, and get enough growth that they bloom next year?

I don’t know.

Also, weirdly enough, I hurt both my knees. The one was just a little sore yesterday, but the left one is staging some kind of full on revolt. It doesn’t hurt to walk on it. But it hurts to bend it too much and it hurts like hell to move it, like, if you’re rolling over in bed. Holy shit. Oh, and it hurts when you poke at it.  It’s weird.

Ha, I blog like this to practice for when I’m an old lady. Just be thankful I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m repeating stories about my hollyhocks every time I see you.


My story is up! You can even listen to me read it. I tried to convince the Butcher to get his friend to do a dance remix of it, but so far that hasn’t materialized. You should wait until tonight to listen to it, put it on right before you go to bed and let me tell you a bedtime story.

Or you could listen to it now, and then take a nap.

Or just read it.


Hee. I’m so excited.

More Thoughts on HJR 1253

One, the folks over at Our Liberal Friends have a breakdown of the good guys and the bad guys. It should be embarrassing for all Democrats to see who voted for this measure.

Two, Southern Beale calls this measure “hippie punching.” I think there’s something to that. But let’s not lose sight of what an enormous “fuck you” this is to immigrant Tennesseans.

Three, I am continually surprised, not just at the impulse of legislators in our state to make these sweeping “fuck you” gestures, but at the complaining they do when their efforts to hang a “you’re not welcome here” sign on the state are met with any resistance. That’s the thing that kills me. It’s not just the bullshit, but it’s the constant insisting that it’s somehow unfair when the truth is told about what they’re up to.

Four, as Michael Silence points out, this is costing taxpayers $185 per day per legislator. Republicans talk about smaller government and less waste, but they’re the ones who spent $185 per legislator yesterday to send a note of support to Arizona. This is their dry-run for how they’ll fix the state? Ha ha ha ha ha.

Five, and here’s the rub, though. The districts of the representatives who voted for this are hurting. The whole state has high unemployment, but some of these places have crushing unemployment. Some of these places have infant mortality rates that tower over Memphis. Some of these places have grinding poverty.

And there’s not a thing anyone has proposed (and is willing to fund) this year that will solve that. It’s not that illegal immigrants are taking your jobs, folks. It’s that jobs are gone and no one knows if they’re coming back.

If we have anything to offer those rural areas, I haven’t heard it.

So, it’s understandable–inexcusable, but understandable–why the legislature is offering them bullshit like this. They might be hurting, but, by god, at least they can make sure their “fuck you” is read loud and clear.

It’s not a solution, either, but at least it feels like something.

Which Democrats Put Themselves Ahead of You Tonight?

Barker, Bass, Borchert, Ty Cobb, Curtiss, Ferguson, Fincher, Fitzhugh, Fraley, Litz, McDonald, Shepard, Tidwell, West, Winningham, and Yokley all have decided that their need to stand up for glorious Arizona is more important than passing a budget.

While I can’t help but think Gary Odom is right–stunts like this hurt tourism, which we need, since we’re all out of work and someone’s got to pay the bills, the whole thing is actually kind of funny, if you think about it. I mean, if Arizona really wants the rest of the country to think they’re not ruled by a bunch of racist jackasses, having a bunch of powerful white Southerners, like, oh, the State Legislature of Tennessee, congratulate them is probably not helping to make their case.

“No, no, we’re not racist! The fact that we have a great deal of support from the Confederacy is… um… just a coincidence.”

In slightly different news, it’s interesting how this list lines up with Chip Forrester’s hit list. Only Coleman and Bone are missing (and they both abstained from voting on the resolution). This raises an interesting, and deeply troubling question. Why do those lists have so much overlap? Did the people on Chip’s list vote for this because they’re vulnerable? Did the folks who voted for this who aren’t on Chip’s list just signal that they believe they’re vulnerable?

If you’re counting, that would make it 18, not seven, vulnerable Democratic seats.

That’s scary. Or it would be if you could count on Democrats to not vote for crap like this, which you can’t so…

I don’t know.  I wish I had more snark in me, but I swear, all I keep thinking is that these sixteen Democrats thought this was important. Not our jobs. Not making sure we seem like a friendly and awesome tourist destination. Not our national and international reputation. Not passing a budget. But standing in solidarity with Arizona.

And to what end? So we could continue to look like petulant assholes on the world stage?

The only comfort I take in this is that our support makes Arizona look bad.

This is all I’ve been thinking about all afternoon

Not all, but it’s weird. Newscoma has been tweeting the flooding going on in West Tennessee and I keep thinking of Mel, who used to call me “Sally,” and how she lost her house. I want, very much, to write another October of ghost stories. I enjoyed it so much last time.

But all I can think about is how even my fictional ideas about Nashville have changed. How my ideas about what it means to haunt and be haunted are changing, and what it is I think the kinds of ghost stories we tell each other do. Often, they’re about how these things we think we know so well have a bit of unrecognizabilty to them. But after your whole region has been rendered unrecognizable to you? Then, it seems like telling stories is a way of putting things back into their familiar places.

More on Henry Mitchell

I don’t like to blog about my job. I love my job. But mixing blogging and having a job doesn’t always work. So, normally, I just don’t do it. But I will say that one terrible side-effect of my job has been that I pretty much have no interest in reading for pleasure any more. At all. People recommend books to me. I think they sound good. And then, the old push that used to send me to the bookstore or the library is just gone. I used to be the kind of person that had to finish a book if she started it, even if the book was terrible.

Now, I’m the kind of person that doesn’t even finish books she’s enjoying. People talk about the books they’re reading and I find it almost oppressive, like hearing about an awesome place you don’t get to travel to any more.

This has been the saddest trade-off about my job.

So, I’m surprised to find that I’m already a hundred pages into Henry Mitchell‘s book. I honestly can’t tell you if it is as truthfully delightful as I’m finding it or if it’s just that it has been so long since I’ve taken great pleasure in reading that I’m feeling unnaturally giddy about it.

But, holy shit! I love this book. First of all, the man hates trees. Hates them. Thinks you’d be better off to just stick a large stick in the yard and let some honeysuckle grow up it. He’s all the time complaining about gardening vulgarities. And, even though he seems to have been in DC while he was writing the columns that became this book, he’s from Memphis, so there are lots of asides about Memphis and that area. Today, in the part I’m reading, he’s complaining about how seed companies are always telling you that things can grow in shade, when really they mean that the thing only needs five or six full hours of sunlight, which, as he points out, is practically a whole day.

He’s a little male-chauvinist in that way you expect of a man your grandpa’s age, but charmingly so, since he doesn’t believe women should be allowed to rake leaves. Fine, I say! I am glad to leave the leaf raking to the menfolk.

And he has this charming take on planting crocuses right by the sidewalk, because they delight children. And he has a little rant about how it’s now the modern fashion to teach your children not to pluck flowers out of people’s gardens, but that this fashion ruins all of the fun of a gardener getting to see a delighted child holding  a crocus.

I feel similarly about my billions of daisies. I will be disappointed if the neighbor baby doesn’t grow up to be a girl who toddles over to pick them and tie them into crowns and necklaces.  There is no use, I think, in having a garden too much like a museum, where you just look, but never touch.

Anyway, I’m so digging it.  Here’s a website that’s pretty crappily formatted, but interesting anyway, about Mitchell.


I still get birthday money from my Grandma, which I find so charming. It’s kind of corny, but there’s something nice about getting a small amount of money for your birthday, from your grandma. A large amount of money would obviously have to go to something like, oh, getting the driveway repaired. But a small amount? You feel like that’s okay for you to spend on something frivilous.

So, I went over to Bates and spent it on poppies. Not a whole bunch of poppies, mind you. Bates’ poppies are still deciding whether they’re going to come back from the flood. (And who hasn’t felt that, a little bit?) But I got three that looked like some new green growth was happening in there. And I put them at the end of my garden, where the bulbs whose names I can’t remember have decided that it’s just too muddy for them to bother.

I’m not sure how much water poppies need. But that’s the sunniest spot in my garden, so I think it’s worth trying them there.

Mrs. Wigglebottom Take a Beau, We Take Her Back

Okay, my birthday involved driving to Vincennes to retrieve, from my parents, an 8-foot windmill. I am so tickled by the shear ridiculousness of this gift that I about can’t even tell you. If only there were some way to hook it up to generate power or pump up well water! Eight feet! I’m hoping it will at least make the moles uncomfortable.

On our way to dinner we were talking with the Butcher’s dear friends about the mole situation and the wife friend was talking about getting something to poison the grubs and the Butcher explained that he thought the moles were eating the crawfish, at which point the husband friend starts imitating the moles by giving them the most Rhett Butler voice, which he tried to claim was French Louisianan, but please!

Still, I love the idea of some Cajun moles taking up residence in our yard.

However, this is not the story I want to tell you.

The story I want to tell you goes like this. So, we have a neighbor. Not the couple with the adorable baby, but the other neighbor, who kind of looks like a handsome Pat Green. He looks a little bit like our old neighbor, from the old place, who looked a little like if Pat Green and Ron White had a baby. Now, no matter how Republican or ridiculous (or both) our old neighbor was (or is), Mrs. Wigglebottom loves him. Who knows why? She just loved him (Did I ever tell you about my one and only time dropping acid, when our old neighbor used that opportunity to show me the scar from when a bottle rocket almost blew his penis, or in his words, his pecker, off? Kids, it was like a living just say no to drugs campaign right there in my living room. He wasn’t even on drugs. He just is the kind of guy who would show you the scar from where he almost blew his pecker off when you were least prepared for it.)

The new neighbor could not be more removed from the old neighbor in terms of personality, but he is very understanding of the stupidity of our dog, which, in part, manifests in her undying adoration of our new neighbor, for no other reason than he looks like our old neighbor, kind of, since they both kind of look like Pat Green.

So, the dog came with us to Vincennes. She gets out of the car, she goes to pee, she spots our new neighbor, who is sitting on his porch having a smoke and a beer. I start, immediately, “No, no, stay.” But he’s all “Aw, shucks, I don’t care.” and she runs over.

I’m yelling, “No, no, no,” but she can’t hear me because she’s in love.

People, she goes in his house. Yes, inside the house of our neighbor. She refuses to come out, no matter how much I call. She comes out briefly to get up in the chair with our neighbor and make googly eyes at him, her tongue lolling out like she’s in heaven, and then she goes back in his house all like “Tough shit for you, birthday girl loser. I’m at my boyfriend’s house and la la la, I can’t hear you.”

She’s running around. She’s as happy as a clam. But she’s ignoring everyone’s pleas for her to come out.

The Butcher finally has to go in and pick her up and carry her out of the house and back into ours.

I am mortified.

But also, kind of tickled.

Birthday Runes

I had a dream last night that the Old Man gave me three runes–sowilo, ingwaz, and hagalaz–in that order.

Here’s what the rune poems have to say, when they have anything to say:

Sowelo–“the sun”

Old Norwegian Rune Poem

Sun is the light of the world;
I bow to the divine decree.

Old Icelandic Rune Poem

Sun is the shield of the clouds
and shining ray
and destroyer of ice.

Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem

The sun is ever a joy in the hopes of seafarers
when they journey away over the fishes’ bath,
until the courser of the deep bears them to land.

Ingwaz–The god Ing, later called Frey

Old English Runic Poem

Ing was first amidst the East Danes
so seen, until he went eastward
over the sea. His wagon ran after.
Thus the Heardings named that hero.


Old Norwegian

Hail is the coldest of grain;
Christ created the world of old.

Old Icelandic

Hail is cold grain
and shower of sleet
and sickness of serpents.


Hail is the whitest of grain;
it is whirled from the vault of heaven
and is tossed about by gusts of wind
and then it melts into water.

I have no interpretation, but I’m interested to see what we think in a year. Travel? Over some water? More bad weather?  Who knows? I should learn more about the runes I guess.

Isn’t Defense Money Federal Money? Aren’t We Putting a Boot in the Ass of the Feds?

I swear, trying to understand Republican politics in this state can give a girl a headache. (Not that following Democratic politics is much better. I mean, folks, apparently these days the TNDP chair gives a list of the Democrats the Party thinks are vulnerable to the media so that Republicans can have it. Why we would do this, I’m not sure. If it’s brier-patch politics, that’s one thing [that being “oh yes, Ty Cobb is SOOOOO vulnerable. Please run someone against him so we can stomp their butt, er, lose horribly.”] but otherwise? I just don’t know. Don’t get me started. I love Jeff Woods, and as a contributor to Pith and a great admirer of him, I encourage him to ask any and all questions. As a Democrat, I am begging, on my knees, for Democrats, when asked a question by Woods, to take ten seconds and just contemplate “Is what I’m about to say incredibly dumb?” And if you have to answer “Yes” or “I’m not sure,” then just say out loud to Woods, “You know normally, this is when I’d say something dumb. But, instead, I’m going to go get some ice cream. Would you like some?”]

Where was I? Yes, Zach Wamp, Tennessee’s angriest gubernatorial candidate.

So, Tennessee’s angriest gubernatorial candidate has unveiled his strategy for job creation and it is… take money from the Feds?

I mean, that’s clearly “Take money from the Feds” right?

I’m not opposed to taking money from the Feds, of course, being a liberal.

But Zach Wamp isn’t a liberal. So, I find this somewhat baffling. We’re against the Federal government except when we’re not? Is it too much to ask for a playbook? Or maybe a flowchart that Republicans could hand out to liberal bloggers who are trying to understand what the hell they’re talking about, that we could follow to understand when the Feds will be welcome in Tennessee and when we need to meet them armed at the border?

In Which NM Has Inadvertently Given Me Mad Hydrangea Skills!

My front hydrangeas look weird. I don’t know anything about hydrangeas, just that there were some here when we bought the place. The first fall, my mom claims she cut them back (I don’t remember this but, if she says she did, she probably did). So, we had like, I don’t know, five blooms last year. Very disappointing.

And so we didn’t do anything to the last year. I didn’t know when to trim them, so we didn’t trim them. But I thought you had to trim them to force them to bloom. So, I was worried we’d have yet another year of no blooms (really, I should write a column called “the idiot gardener” with the theme being “If I can fuck up this bad and still have plants, so can you!”).

But now, we’re at this weird point where we’re clearly going to have some blooms. I see buds on the hydrangeas. But I also have these sticks sticking up through the green leaves from last year. And I’m still a little like “Oh god, what do I do about/with my hydrangeas?”

So, now we switch over to NM’s advice about the nandina. I have learned, since mentioning that I have a nandina, that gardeners have firm feelings about them–either love or hate. There is no middle ground. But, in spite of people’s feelings, everyone seems to admire their ability to rebound from whatever dumbass thing you do to them.

So, the first year, Mom and I cut the fuck out of the nandina and it promptly got even by dropping all its leaves, sulking, pretending like it might die, and then growing three gangly long branches that stretched all over the front of the house like an angry muppet. This spring, I took NM’s advice and I went in and cut out about a 1/3 of the canes at the ground (in the future, I plan to only do 1/4,  but the nandina was in need of some drastic revitalization). I cut the oldest, thickest looking canes, except for a couple, which I plan to get next year. Then I gave the whole thing a nice shape that I thought it could grow into.

And what do you know?

My nandina looks great. I had no great leaf dropping and it’s filled out nicely.

(On a side note, I really love my nandina, and I have to think that anyone who likes to take a lot of pictures of plants that look really interesting in a lot of circumstances would enjoy having one as well).

So, back to the hydrangeas. It turns out that you don’t have to trim them to make them bloom. In fact, in general, you can just leave them alone to do their thing. Now that I know that those dead sticks really are dead, I can go in and cut them out for aesthetics and eye-poking reasons.

But! If my hydrangeas are old (which I think we can assume mine are) or if they’re in a place where they need to be kept kind of small (which mine kind of are), I can go in this summer and prune about a 1/3 of the stems to the ground! I can use my mad nandina skills on my hydrangea!

I’m feeling pretty darn excited about this.

Because I am a nerd.