Monthly Archives: November 2010

Questing STILL.

When last we left my quest for the Holy Building Permit, I really thought that I’d put the hard part behind me, that all I had to do was wait patiently for the NC bureaucracies’ wheels to slowly grind out its grudging acquiescence to build a house.

I was wrong.

It’s nearly three weeks later and I’m still without a permit. And the thing is, it’s such a little fly-in-the-ointment, burr-in-the-saddle, sand-in-the-bikini thingie that’s holding everything up that I’d be tempted to let it go if it weren’t important.

But it is.

What it boils down to is this- we want to have exposed rafters in the ceiling. Period. Originally I had drawn the house with a simple A-frame cathedral ceiling utilizing 4×6 lumber as rafters. Nope. Can’t do it. NC code dictates R-30 insulation in the ceiling. (Or actually, supposedly it’s R-30 overall but nobody’s quite sure what that means or how to achieve it.) Whatever.

So I re-drew the plans (which means re-drawing all 5 pages because you have to show elevations and typicals and blah, blah, blah) with an attic space that’ll allow for the R-30 installation and duct work, which we were going to run exposed in the cathedral ceiling scenario. Nope. Sorry. NC code doesn’t recognize or even address 4×6 lumber.

And this is the sand-in-the-bikini thingie. By code you can span 15’6″ with a 2×6 (we’re spanning 14′) but because there is nothing in the regs about 4×6’s, the county wants me to shell out an additional thousand bucks to have an architect draw up the plans and have an engineer stamp them to ensure lumber that’s TWICE AS BIG AS SPEC is OK to use.

Can we say it together?- WTF???

I could just, and maybe I should just, give up and re-draw the plans using puny 2×6’s, or have an engineering firm bless the 4×6’s, but I can’t. I just can’t. It’s something we want and something whose underlying logic should be a foregone conclusion and something which, in my mind, brilliantly spotlights everything that is wrong with bureaucracies and their inability to cope with common sense.

So.

While I try and figure out a way around this latest obstacle and not succumb, time speeds by. I was planning to be coming out of the ground mid-October, now I’m hoping to get started by mid-December.

Is it possible that the permitting process will end up taking longer than the actual construction?

Holy mother jesus.

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Of Blinis and Brines.

I fucking love Miss Carol.

Last week while she was out of town we started talking about the blinis I’d seen on one of the foodie shows. Russian blinis are kinda like French crepes or Mexican tortillas. They’re warm, soft, thin little pancakes of gentle goodness wrapped around melted cheeses and tender meats.

I chub up just thinking about them, and the more we talked last week, the more Miss Carol ramped up her cooking verve ’til Friday night was gonna be blinis’ night in oceandoggy land. Get the fuck out of the way.

So she got home and charged into the kitchen and she tried. Over and over again. And each light little blini obstinately stuck to the pan until Miss Carol finally scraped each tired little burned blini-mess into the trash.

At one point I tried to help. I said- hopefully helpfully- I don’t think you’re doing it right.

Then.

On Sunday Miss Carol soaked a turkey in brine. It’s supposed to guarantee succulent, moist meaty meat and it’s something we’d been meaning and wanting to do and try before Thanksgiving but maybe not quite this close. Two turkeys in a week is probably gonna ensure we never eat it again.

Kinda like the leg of lamb from hell. But that’s another story for another time.

Anyway.

So Miss Carol brined him and then we cooked Mr. Turkey spread eagle on the grill, carefully basting him with a spicy lime tequila marinade. And after a couple of hours he tasted just like any other turkey I’ve ever eaten.

Like whatever.

Miss Carol blamed the blandness on me for making her put Mr. Turkey in the oven for a little bit while we went up to the hot tub, but I don’t think so, and besides, the hot tub was WAY more fun than eating turkey twice in four days will ever be.

Happy Thanksgiving, right?

Synergy.

Miss Carol and me went to a party over the weekend, which in and of itself, isn’t weird- we go to a LOT of parties.

But what was weird was how hard the synergy hit. You know what I’m talkin’ about- the one plus one equals three shit. The wildly stupid contact high stuff that shouldn’t happen but does.

At least to me.

If people were smoking weed I could understand it and maybe even revel in it. But this was all beer and wine and it still hit me with the same blunt force trauma. I drank three beers and felt like I’d guzzled thirty.

I lurched home and walked the dogs and passed out before dinner and nursed a huge synergy-matic hangover on Sunday and was frankly astounded by the power of party.

Jesus, I becoming a pussy.

Does this happen to everybody? Or is just me?

Work.

Miss Carol was out of town this week, down in Raleigh NC for training.

I’m pretty sure Cutter and Tug at least LIKE me since I feed them and walk them and pick up their poops and hang with them EVERY day.

But. I KNOW they loooooooooves Miss Carol.

So when Miss Carol leaves they spend every Miss Carol-less evening staring out the window- ignoring me and waiting and wanting Miss Carol to come home.

And, you know, its not like it’s a competition or a yearning love-want or anything.

But sometimes? It’s like, hey, c’mon dudes.

A Pirate pushes 70.

I have an interesting job, to me anyway.

I work in peoples homes, adding stuff or renovating stuff or fixing stuff and sometimes I get to spend some quality time with the folks that own the homes and listen to their stories, their fears, hopes and anxieties, and, if I’m lucky, a real tale.

I was lucky today.

One of my regular customers is on older retired couple (not that that’s strange- I’ve many and many single mothers wondering dispiritedly what the hell happened to their perfect life) whom I’ve always felt a little sad for.

She’s been fighting cancer for a long time and he’s been embracing alcohol for a longer time. Which is fine. Not the cancer part, but the alcohol part- we live at the beach and I’ve often thought that between the constant partying and the salt air drying us out I’m surprised we’re not ALL alcoholics. Or maybe we are. Whatever. Throw the first stone, dude.

Anyway.

I was back working at their house today and she was back in the hospital (but doing well) and he was shakily, jerkily, trying to help me install a new propane gas line from their leaky old tank.

Finally he stopped helping (something I normally charge customers double for) and sat watching me as I dug the ten foot trench to bury the gas line, swinging his big leg back and forth and kinda grinning.

I didn’t pay it much mind until he said- if you find something it’s mine. I shrugged mentally thinking well, hell yes, it’s your house, and kept digging. Whatever dude.

And then he said- if you find a PVC tube it’s full of cocaine and money and pictures of lawyers and judges snorting coke and it’s mine. I buried it years ago when they were chasing me and I forgot where it is and it pisses me off.

And I stopped my digging and I looked up at him and, ya know what?- I don’t know if it was the light glinting off the water or what, but, for a second, for maybe a minute, the years, the decades, washed down off of him and for the briefest of seconds I saw him as he’d been.

His normally bloodshot hooded eyes crackled blue and his smile was one of those engaging, don’t fuck with me just ’cause I’m havin’ fun right this second smiles. His eyes glittered briefly and then he settled, sighing, back into his beat-up old life.

For a second there, though, he was what he’d been.

A pirate.

And honestly? I like him more because of it.

And I wish I’d found the tube.

Blindness.

You know that feeling of exhausted accomplishment you get when you’ve completed something difficult and strenuous? When you sit, panting, head in hands staring blankly at the wall?

That’s how I feel when I finish reading a book by Jose’ Saramago or Hemingway or Faulkner. Kinda like I’ve wrestled something tenuous and tough and come away, if not the winner, at least a little bit better having done it.

Blindness ain’t no exception.

Not only is Jose’s’ work translated from the Portuguese which adds it’s own twist to the story’s tone but he writes in a free-flowing style that buries dialog in the narrative making the whole thing kinda hard to figure out, especially for tiny simple minds like mine.

But it’s good. Way good.

Blindness is the story of an entire country suddenly and inexplicably infected with a white blindness. Think the common cold gone suddenly and dangerously crazy.

But more importantly it’s the story of the doctor’s wife (who can still see), the doctor, the girl with the dark glasses, the boy with the squint, the man with the eye patch, the first blind man and his wife and later, the dog of tears and how they all come together and bear the unbearable.

Blindness explores the worst in human nature while serving up the best in little bitty bits.

Like anything tough and hard and worth doing, reading Blindness will leave you tattooed for good.

When blond gets old and crunchy.

So anyway.

I was moving through my day and it was getting late and I had to stop at the bank and the grocery store, but before I did those things I had to stop and let Mr.Greene. slurp up some diesel. At 12 miles a gallon he likes to slurp.

The diesel pumps where we live don’t allow credit cards at the pump. You have to go into the store and surrender your card and then go out and pump your shit and then go BACK in and pay for it.

Pain in the ass, but honestly? usually painless.

Until today.

I pulled up and walked into a line that stretched to the door. At first I just thought it was a busy Friday afternoon. But then I watched and waited and watched and waited.

Two women were at the head of the line buying cigarettes. Simple, yes? You’d think so. But it wasn’t.

The first woman, clutching her silly looking adolescently hopeful pink wallet, kept pointing out  brands she wanted and then changing her mind like she was surprised that the cigarettes she wanted weren’t sold there and nudging her partner.

It would’ve been cute and maybe even laughable if they’d been 20-somethings in thong bikinis and high heels. But they weren’t. They were the older, used up, rode hard and put away wet chicks, plumply primping their bristly hard straw colored hair and dark tints that they think make them look edgy and cool but screams too much salon time and wearing those big, garish, rings on their mannish fatty fingers that are either trailerpark trash fake or the marrying and burying rich old guys real thing.

Whew. How’s that for a sentence?

Anyway.

They both had that dusky, smoky, end of the bar , been that, done that, sort of voice that maybe boys masturbate to, but men steer clear of.

And as I watched them holding up life while they went through their stupid routine of blondness gone old and not cute I got mad. And then I got sad at how pathetic their badly bleached blond lives had become.

What if this was the highlight of their rum soaked middle-aged do-nothing lives?

Sad.

But I still wanted to punch them when they finally walked by me.