Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pink Shoes Redux

I wore my pink saddle oxfords with a brown knit dress and brown stockings today to church. I read the epistle lesson in pink saddle oxfords. I've never done that before.

I'm feeling nearly normal, and so I am experimenting with which drug I'm taking is doing what. The inhaled stuff is definitely keeping me from being short of breath. When I delay in a dose, I have a heavy feeling in my chest and when I check my oxygen saturation level, it's in the 80's. Not so good. So that one needs to stay at its current rate.

I'm feeling good enough that I'm considering joining the choir again at church. There's a tall loft where we sit, and I'm going to have to figure out how to get there, and how to lug the oxygen concentrator up there, and also how to walk and sing at the same time (I think I'll have to skip that part for a while).

We're planning to attend a symposium on pulmonary hypertension in a few weeks up near my mother-in-law's home, and we'lll visit her at the same time, but one nice night in a nice Hilton with nice surroundings will be, well, nice.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My Inner European is...

Your Inner European is Russian!

Mysterious and exotic.

You've got a great balance of danger and allure.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Memed by Pooks

Okay, that awefull woman in Dallas is doing it to me. I have to answer her questions. Then I have to tag some of you anonymous readers to answer them too.

One book that changed your life:

The Golden String by Bede Griffiths.

The first time I ever realized that truth could come with many faces, and by embracing another's truth, you could convey your own truth to them effectively.

If you don't know Bede Griffiths, he was a student of C.S. Lewis's and became a Christian at about the same time, but he became a Roman Catholic and joined a Cistercian monastery, then opened a Christian ashram in India, and lived in a hut and ate off banana leaves. An amazing fellow, and he writes a lot like Lewis, in that the first 75 pages are incomprehensible, then he gets into his groove and it's fabulous.

2) One book that you'd read more than once:

It's a tie. Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy I'll continue to read until I can read no more.

Okay, this is shallow and trite, but Semi-Tough by Dan Jenkins is the only book I have given away more than ten copies of. Dan Jenkins makes me laugh out loud in public places. And I have read it more than once, probably more than ten times. And Dead Solid Perfect. And Limo.

The other one I've given away multiple copies of (in two languages, no less) is A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I never tire of Ignatius J. Reilly.

3) One book you'd want on a deserted island:

Probably it would be a philosophical anthology with lots of Plato and almost no post-modernists. I'm a weirdo... I think philosophy is fun.

Or maybe anything by Faulkner. One sentence a day from him is enough to chew on for a long while.

4) One book that made you laugh:

I was reading Little Green Men by Chris Buckley on the train going to New York one day, and I laughed out loud, disturbing all my trainmates to the point that I now no longer read on the train, preferring my cellular wireless connection to do aimless web browsing.

5) One book that made you cry:

Personal History by Katherine Graham. Now I have to tell a story.

I had read the book, but I also had the book on tape, which I listed to as I drove from DC to my brother and sister-in-law's house near Boston. Katherine read the book herself on the BOT, and she started to read about her husband's mental illness and eventual suicide as I was stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge in New York City. By the time he shot himself and she found him in the bathroom, I was stuck in traffic in Westchester County, weeping copiously while on-looking truckdrivers peered down curiously upon me. I must have been an odd looking attraction in the overall scheme of things...

6) One book you wish you had written:

Thank You for Smoking by Chris Buckley. And I could have, had I thought of it.

7) One book you wish had never been written:

Oh, there are so many. I could start with anything by Jane Austen, but that would be too easy. But easily the most tedious book I have ever read was The Quark and the Jaguar by Murray Gell-Mann. He is absolute proof that being smart doesn't make you a good writer. This book has lots of facts, lots of ideas and no point.

8) One book you ’are currently reading:

The Booknotes books from C-SPAN (okay, I like philosophy and I'm a C-SPAN junkie. So sue me.) are great because they're all chopped up in little bite-sized portions and I don't have to stay awake long to get through one portion of it.

My dog ate one of them, so now I have one and a half copies of that one.

9) One book you have been meaning to read:

Many books. Many Many Books. I have a whole pile of the post-Katrina books written by Times-Picayune staff and others in the New Orleans area. Probably the one that is calling loudest right now is 1 Dead in Attic by Chris Rose.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Cultural Icons

I am a beacon of good taste and High Culture. I demonstrated it tonight.

We went to see Randy Newman tonight. He was delightful. Did two and a half sets, all his good stuff, some new stuff, some not so good stuff that's still fine. I bet that he wouldn't sing "Rednecks," because it is simply too politically incorrect. I lost, to my delight. I cried through "Louisiana, 1927." I've always done that, but I do it more, now.

I have tinnitis, I think it's a familial thing, because several of my relatives and siblings have ear-ringing problems. I don't much notice mine until I go to a loud concert somewhere, then my ears ring for a week.

Randy played at the Birchmere, which is one of my favorite places because it's small and isn't too loud. The last time I was there, we went with a group of young kids (under jr hi age) from church went to see Riders in the Sky, which was fun for everyone because Ranger Doug and Woody Paul and Too Slim and Joey the CowPolka King are entirely more sophisticated than they let on.

Anyway, Randy talked a lot about being a geriatric rock 'n' roller. I never thought of him as a rock 'n' roller, more of a whorehouse balladeer. I mean, his technique is sort of Eric Satie meets Eubie Blake. Very sophisticated harmonies and melodies with a ragged stride bass line. An odd but very enjoyable combination. This show was just Randy and piano, with us as the backup singers (by invitation; evidently this has been true in other places as well). And tomorrow night he plays Carnegie Hall. And you can't order nachos or wings there during the show, I'll bet.

His connection to New Orleans is the Real Deal; he said watching the Katrina coverage, where three of his relatives lost their homes, he heard the Homeland Security chief say that after three days, "Louisiana was dysfunctional." "Duh," said Randy. "It took him that long to figure that out?" He said that in the best of circumstances you had to drive you broken radio, or broken anything, to Mississippi to get it fixed. And that was the best part of Louisiana.

He gets it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Boys and their toys

We went sailing today, in honor of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea.

Or because it was a pretty day and we didn't have to go to work.

There was a very gentle breeze, steady, easy for quiet sailing. There were few boats on the bay. Captain Bligh, my husband, decided to go below and take a nap, and leave me with the boat. He doesn't do that very often, because he'd much rather give orders.

I prefer he takes a nap, until it's time to pull on some rope really hard.

Anyway, so, I was holding a course with the wind about sixty degrees off the starboard bow, getting about three knots out of a wind that wasn't ever more than five. Along side me, about 200 yards off the starboard side, was another boat with several men in the cockpit. I say they were men; they could have been ugly women, but they were topless and hairy. I'm betting on men. They were friendly and waving, and I waved back, friendly-like.

When men are on their boats, they are racing, even if no one else knows it. But I know it. Because I've been sailing with men, and they all do it. This isn't even a stereotype. It is a fact.

I knew these turkey, I mean gentlemen, were going to have fun racing me. But I was going to have more fun.

Our boat is sort of the Chevy station wagon of the sailboat world. It isn't very sleek, or very sexy, but it is roomy and comfortable, and like Chevy station wagons, there are things that our boat will do better than any other. And one of those things is sail very well in very light air.

Now these ugly topless hairy women/men folk were in a 38-foot Hallberg-Rassy. H-Rs are Swedish built yachts, and the new ones the same size as our boat cost about a quarter of a million dollars. They are sleek and they are sexy. But they just don't do as well in light air as a plain old 34-foot Hunter that's twenty three years old.

Our Hunter has more than 500 square feet of sail area, and a very wide sweet spot, making the sailing very simple. I just held the course according to the wind, holding between 55 and 75 degrees to the wind, mostly with my hands in my pockets and guiding the boat with the occasional tap to the wheel with my foot. I sheeted in the headsail a couple of times, let it out a couple of others, and just sat there and watched my great big headsail sit there puffed out like a balloon, pulling us along at a steady 2-3 knots. The telltails on the headsail streamed straight back in a manner which, had the H-R boys been able to see them, would have simply pissed them off.

I also watched over my shoulder as the Hallberg-Rassy dudes' sails flapped and snapped and did not fill at all. Their heading was off about 5 degrees, and since they didn't have a broad sweet spot like my cheap boat, they couldn't get anywhere near me.

The other thing is, in my experience in these mid-sized boats, the more they spent on the boat, the less they spent on learning to sail it. I mean, in Washington, people like to say, "Oh, you must visit me at my yacht on the Chesapeake." When you actually ask them about sailing, they do very little sailing, and mostly ignore the boat except to mention it at cocktail parties.

The H-R boys could have adjusted the boom vang, let out the main and sheeted in the jib and made a go of it. But I don't think they knew how to do that.

The other possibility is that they had enjoyed too much fine imported ale from Sweden to sail their boat.

In any event, when I left them eating my wake, they turned around, started their engine, and put putted home.

They have no stomach for being beaten by a girl.