Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A whole lotta hot air

I shudda known better.

I hate crowds. I hate standing in line. I hate poorly executed music played too loud. I hate paying too much for too little.

So what was I doing at the Balloon Festival at Long Branch this Sunday? In the past we have wisely found a spot somewhere in the county (usually on our way to or from something else, to be honest) because the balloons go up in the air and you don’t need to pay $10 a person to see it.

I figured, since there were wine tastings featured also, the “family groups” would be weeded out and it would be, like other wine festivals in the area, low key. People around here are pretty well-behaved at wine festivals by not treating it as a fraternity kegger. (picture me hitting my palm to my head.)

No, it wasn’t Animal House. But it was far from low key. And apparently the venue had thought to provide for all age groups because there was a merry-go-round and a kids’ folk singer competing with the sad attempt a blue and jazz by a live band and the 70s retro music blasting from the Johnsonville-phallus-on-wheels.

The ten dollars a person was just to watch the balloons. The wine tasting – which is, to me, advertising for the vineyards – cost an additional $5 per person to buy a glass to taste. Still, in terms of wine festivals this is not outlandish and, advertising aside, you just accept that it is what it is. But for $15 I want to do more than stand in line for 20 minutes to taste some of the most mediocre wines in this state.

Believe it or not, Virginia does produce some lovely wines. Some of them were even represented at Long Branch. But not a whole lot of them. In fact, the number of vineyards overall was pitiful and probably the reason why every stall resembled half-price day at Filene’s Basement.

We Linguinis are normally a pretty flexible bunch, but this certainly snapped our sensibilities. Dark Garden refused to play the game and left, leaving me, Dirtman and John Boy to tough it out. The goal, we decided, became to buy a bottle of wine to drink while we watched the balloons go up without having to pay the $5 tasting fee (seems you had to have a wrist band and a glass to taste, thereby forcing you to buy their commemorative glass).

But we were not daunted. So we decided to buy soda elsewhere ($2) and use those cups to drink our wine. Not exactly the aesthetic method of enjoying wine but the lines to buy the good wine were another half-hour wait and, frankly, what we ended up drinking was perfectly at home in our foam cups…and other drinking vessels. And – hey – we saved $9 overall. So there.

I suppose it was interesting to watch the balloons being prepared for flight. A bit difficult for the crowds, particularly my “favorite” crowd element: the family that thinks this whole festival is being stage just for them. There were a lot of them there, stepping on each other (and us), getting in the way of each other’s photographs (“Could you 150 people move out of the way of the entire hot air balloon so I can get a picture of Finster pointing as it fills with air?”).

It occurred to me that this is perhaps the only time you can get people to pay to watch people with too much money indulge in their hobby.

So, having seen up close a few of the balloons float away, we had to agree Dark Garden had chosen the best solution.

I got home and watched From Here to Eternity on TCM and knitted. It was the best part of the day.

Monday, October 22, 2007

You lookin' at us?

Oh, yeah?

You'd look stupid too if your ears were glued TO YOUR FACE...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

One of those moments

This is Heir 2's third Homecoming weekend, but his first driving himself. I guess it makes it a milestone for us both (sniff -- I'm not crying.)

So I'm in the kitchen baking cinnamon raisin bread. He is in the backyard washing his car for The Big Night.

"Mom! Mom! Come quick! Bring the camera!"

"Did I angle it right? Will the rainbow come out?"

Later I'm in my office and again hear him yelling:

"Two things: My car looks sexy! And your bread smells awesome!"

I'm getting sappy in my old age.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shhhh...(again, with the 'shhhh'?)

It's Dirtman's birthday and this is what he likes to do best, only he's not doing it because he thought his birthday was yesterday and scheduled a full day into night for today.

So we're actually celebrating his birthday tomorrow, which is neither his birthday nor when he planned for his birthday. But it's a day and there will be cake.

...and lots of puppies.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


It's one of those gnome things in the trees! Let's sneak up on it and surprise it...Shhhh.

SURPR ----------AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! (screech, screech, screech)

(Don't worry. All was well in the end.)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Oh No!

The puppies have learned to type!

Linguini on the Ceiling proudly presents...

The 20th Anniversary Memorial Gnome!

In his own gnome outhouse!

Festooned by Heir 1...

I somehow doubt this will be the last time he's going to be messed with...

I wonder if he didn't have something to do with yet another fungus.

This may be a jack-o-lantern mushroom, in which case, the underside apparently glows in the dark. Or maybe you just think it does if you are dumb enough to eat it...actually, it's poisonous. I'll have to check it out tonight -- whether it glows, I mean.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

That's two decades and counting

Twenty years is the blink of an eye. Take it from me.

It seems that, as of today, Dirtman and I have been married 20 years.

I remember when I was a teenager, “20 years ago” seemed like the “olden days.” Twenty-year-old pictures looked so old and the people dressed so differently. Now twenty years ago doesn’t seem so far in the past, which explains why women my age have no problem trotting out our shoulder-padded blazers with the push-up sleeves and think we look current.

Twenty years married impresses most of our peers and anyone younger. Divorce became mainstream with my generation, a phenomenon that has its good and bad aspects. I’ve known plenty of long-wed couples where the abuse of one party should have ended the union long ago. So longevity doesn’t impress me much.

On the other hand, I’ve watches marriages fall a part simply because that initial wash of hormones wore off and suddenly life was merely…well…ordinary.

I’d like to say that Dirtman and I are still together because each of us is the paragon of what a husband and wife should be. But we aren’t. I can be vengeful, spiteful and biting when cornered. I’m no picnic to be with when I’m tired or hungry. I have to have coffee in the morning – taupe, not beige. And I hate talking on the phone and go to great lengths to force other people to make calls for me. Dirtman misses the hamper all the time.

So we’re two flawed people. And life is ordinary most of the time. I guess we happen to be two people willing to accept that. Are we always madly in love? No. But I love what one woman said was the reason her marriage lasted 75 years: Neither one of them fell out of love at the same time.

But I’ll admit there are very specific reasons that I, for one, stuck around for twenty years. And they’re very basic reasons and, if you must know, mistakes I see men make with their wives constantly; mistakes that eat away at any foundation to the relationship that had been built.

For one thing, never, at any time, no matter what weight I was, what my hair looked like, what my clothing looked like, has Dirtman ever made me feel ugly. I never felt I had to lose weight for him, dress for him, cut my hair for him. Women know when they don’t look good and the last thing they need if for the one person on the planet who is supposed to love them unconditionally making their appearance a criteria for affection. We say it doesn’t matter or we “appreciate the honesty.” But what we want is to be looked at through the eyes of love, not judgment.

Dirtman has never criticized anything I wanted to do, and I’ve had some pretty out-there schemes. He put up with my nuclear holocaust/economic collapse/Y2K hoarding and never once laughed. He supported me through my homesteading phase and put up with a totally useless goat I made him pay too much for. He doesn’t give in to everything, but he doesn’t make me feel like an idiot. I can do that all by myself, thank you.

He learned to love my dogs and never, no matter how broke we were, accused them of being the cause. He learned to love Italian food. He took in my father when he was ill and accompanied me to every hospital bed I had to stand by or funeral I had to attend.

He yells – a lot. But never at me. He has never insulted me or degraded me or called me names. It goes without saying he’s never hit me or threatened to hit me.

And he’s always made me feel safe, even though that’s not even his job. But he knows that’s important to me, so he does.

Now, as to why Dirtman has stuck with me for twenty years? I guess you’d have to ask him. Perhaps he just had nothing better to do.

Happy Anniversary, Sparkey, from your Sicilian Gnome.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Zsa Zsa and her puppies...

...because I realized I talked about them running free in the back yard and then showed a picture of them in a pen.

And because they're just so darn cute.

And so it goes...

Many apologies for letting almost a month lapse, but Ms. Zsa Zsa has been sick. Scary sick.

While she's still not out of the woods, she is much better, thank you, and I'm no longer spending the day between her and the puppies, medicating, cleaning up and watching over.

The Puppy Formerly Known As Penny (last puppy on the left) has gone on to her new home in Maryland. I would have been as upset about it as I was when Sarge left if I hadn't seen the fuss her new owners were making over her. They arrived with several sizes of lambs wool lined dog crates, a snappy new collar (green to set off her red fur), and a huge basket of toys and treats. Her new name is 'Becca and last I heard she was dictating what she wanted to eat and when she wanted to eat it. Yeah. She hit the puppy lottery.

And now the puppies can run out in the yard unattended since now they are too big for a hawk or turkey vulture to swoop down and carry away. This means I no longer have to spend hours hosing down a run. But it also means when I go out the back door I am greeted by the entire pack who always hold out hope that I'm harboring Snausages or cheese.

I don't want you to think I've been neglecting the family in favor of the puppies. Things have settled into their usual autumnal rhythm, only this autumn I'm not driving Heir 2 back and forth to activities because HE HAS HIS OWN CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!! He's been saving for this since he was 12 years old and required only minimal help from Dirtman and me.

Sadly, this also means that I have my car back and I now have no excuse to not come down off my little hill. If it were up to me, I'd have groceries and supplies air dropped so I never have to leave.

Heir 1? I think he lives here. There are dishes in the sink in the morning and all our leftovers disappear. Laundry appears in the washer, then the dryer and then disappears. There have been sightings and rumors. But I can't be sure. I'm pretty sure he lives here because every now and then someone calls and asks for him and when I put the message up on the dry erase board it mysteriously gets erased.


As for the last remaining unspoken for puppy?

You didn't actually thing Dirtman would let go of a puppy named Hokie that was born on his lap, did you?