Blackberry Summer

I have a “Landlady” excerpt. No, I still haven’t got my first funny Landlady Story written yet, but that’s because I’m going to end up with a based-on-a-True-Story kind of piece; which pisses my landlady right off, to tell the truth.

I told her my plan, to take her funny memory of her barmaid job of fifty-odd years ago, change her name and the rest of the characters (to protect the stupid, mostly), and change the ending. Her ending was too boring; it just was. She will, henceforth, be known here as “Ruby”.

Tonight, the crossword puzzle was too difficult for either of us, even armed with two different dictionaries. It was hot, it was humid, and we were almost out of cigarettes. We had no beer (I was pleased to learn, a few months back, that Ruby is not adverse to a cold beer or two on a hot summer afternoon. It’s gonna be a good summer.). So, Ruby did what she always does when we run out of crossword: she started to talk.

I don’t have a story tonight; just a little bit of a memory, but it’s a nice way to introduce her to you, I think…

“Must have been in the 30’s, I guess – I was just a little wee kid anyway – my mother and I would walk up the railroad track to pick blueberries…”, Ruby said.

I reached for a notepad and a pen. Ruby scowled at me and stole a cigarette from my pack.

“I’m gonna quit talking to you, if you’re gonna make fun of me on the internet!” she said, and lit the cigarette. “There! I forgot what I was gonna tell you!”

In her own words, Ruby has “no use for computers or the dang internet, whatever that is. Invasion of privacy, that’s what that is.” I pushed the pad of paper away from me, wishing I’d brought my digital recorder. She doesn’t mind the recorder so much, maybe because I’m not scribbling furiously, instead of listening raptly, laughing in all the right places. I think she might even forget it’s there once she gets talking, even though it sits in the middle of the table, blinking at her; silent witness, non-interrupting.

“I know, I know – I was telling the wrong story from the start. It wasn’t about me and my mother picking blueberries up the railroad track at all. It was about my brother and the blackberries.

Every summer, my mother went away for a few weeks to a month to visit her family. The blackberry summer, I was about 11 or 12, and I was the one in charge of the meals while she was gone. That’s where my hate of cooking came from, I think. Isn’t it a hoot that I grew up and ran a restaurant for all those years?

That year, there were more blackberries than anybody had ever seen. They were everywhere! Well, every dang day on his way home from work, didn’t my dang brother pick his whole lunch-pail full of blackberries?! I swear, his fingers were purple all summer! He did it on purpose, too, the bugger, ‘cuz he knew I’d have to put them up into jelly. It was the only dang thing I knew what to do with them! I was only 11 or 12… but I could make blackberry jelly, I’ll tell you, and just as good as my grandmother made it.

Well, one day he comes home, lunch-pail just all a-brim with blackberries, and I was sick to death of blackberries, and blackberry jelly, and my brother, the bugger. I was half set to pitch those berries out the kitchen window, but I thought better of it. We didn’t have much back then, and most times we didn’t even realize it, but I knew I’d feel pretty bad if I pitched those blackberries, so I just set to work on that jelly.

By the time the jelly was in it’s pail and setting, I was still slamming around the kitchen and stomping my feet. I was probably swearing under my breath, too – I was that ticked at my brother – and I turned too quick and knocked that pail of blackberry jelly right off the counter! I saw all that hot work turned to nothing, and was wishing I’d just pitched those blackberries out the window after all, but wouldn’t you know it? That pail of jelly landed flat on it’s bottom, right-side up!

And the whole batch of jelly flew straight up out of the pail and hit the ceiling! I swear, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!

Well, by the time my mother came home at the end of the summer, I had more blackberry jelly put up than any one family would ever use up in two years! No preserves, no jam, just blackberry jelly. She was some mad! She’d have been a lot more mad, let me tell you, if she’d looked up at that ceiling. If you went in that house today, I’ll bet you two cents you could still see the blackberry jelly, even now.”

Well, whad’ya know…? There was almost a whole story in there, after all. Almost.

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Chasing Cars” – Snow Patrol

Fatso Ratso is No More…

5 Things I’ve Learned About Brown Rats That I Didn’t Know Yesterday:

1) A brown rat may not understand English (else why would he not cooperate and stay in the cage once warned of the consequences?), but I know of one that certainly picks up on “change of heart” quickly.

2) A brown rat can scratch you, bite you, and swear at you all at the same time.

3) A brown rat can escape a triple-taped cardboard box in under 15 seconds using the top of his head, hence is best locked into a normally “fun” rat ball (also triple-taped for security) to make the trip to Death Row.

4) A brown rat can be humanely euthanized for a measly 10 bucks.

5) If a brown rat and a cat “get it into it”, the brown rat will win. Even when it was the rat that instigated the war, and even though it won, the rat will hold a grudge, and exact revenge (which is what prompted the final decision to make the trip to Death Row).

I would post details, but I honestly feel guilty. Until I look at poor Patchouli, still creeping around here terrified, no doubt wondering if Fatso Ratso is hiding somewhere, lying in wait.

The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Creepy…

The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Creepy…

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Good

I slept last night! Oops. I guess I mean the night before last. Friday night, anyway.

I’ve been having sleep concerns since before I quit the Dream Job; it’s a big part of the reason I quit to begin with. Still wide awake, staring at walls, ceilings, clocks, tvs, computer screens, or the insides of my eyelids until sometimes 5:30 am. Nasty. I thought quitting the Dream Job would solve that. Nope. Maybe it’s that I’ve spent the entire school week that just passed listening to Larry, Darryl, and Darryl drop all those cars on my roof, instead of working. I’m a little nervous about my schedule again, now.

Whatever it is, it could be a lot worse. One of my blog buddies has been going through a bout of “Fall Asleep and then Pop Awake Again Every 20 Minutes Syndrome”, which I’ve experienced on occasion and it’s much worse.

Worse still, is if insomnia turns into a full-blown White Night, which, if you’re familiar with the works of L.M. Montgomery, specifically, the Emily series, you’ll understand why I consider it so. Luckily, I haven’t suffered a white night in a long, long time.

Anyway, I slept! Through the night! (hooray!)

The Bad

I woke up from my wonderful, sound sleep this/yesterday morning staring Kyla’s brown rat, Fatso Ratso in the face, he smiling and nudging my chin, having chewed through the base of the replacement cage that he got as a reward for chewing 18 holes through the base of his old one.

And so, we must part ways. I haven’t figured out how that will happen yet. I like the little (huge) guy, and don’t want to be cruel and set him “free” to be eaten by a bird. He could probably take a bird, if he had any meanness in him, but he’s a friendly, little (huge) goofball, and the only living creatures that are afraid of him are the cats. I imagine that’s because he’s bigger than they are.

But go, he must. He chews everything. Like my modem cables. And Kyla’s underwear, which would probably cure her of leaving it on the floor if she had any left. I’m hoping the pet store will feel sorry for us and take him back. Not give us a refund – just take the damned rat off our hands.

The Creepy

Kyla and I watched a horror movie tonight. We’ve been into the recent “exorcist/possession” kind of movies that have come out over the last couple of years. Most suck, truthfully. She wants me to rent the most recent version of The Exorcist with all the scenes that mankind couldn’t handle in the 70s put back in. I saw the original (pardon me, I heard the original; my head was in a pillow through most of it) and I’m not sure I can manage the “new” one.

Tonight’s movie is NOT the one pictured at the top of this post, but it started out pretty good: decently freaky visuals, definitely terrifying audio… but the best stuff was in the first part of the movie, and the thing kind of turned into a stupid flick to watch if you like horror movies. We said as much to each other as the credits were rolling, when…

The bedroom door creaked. It was a loooooooong drawn-out creak, one instantly recognizable to us both, because we hear it anytime we open the door all the way to get in there, or close it half-way to hang something up on the back of the door. Needless to say, neither one of us did it; we were both sitting on the couch on the other side of the wall. Neither of the cats bother with doors unless one is closed tightly, in which case the Patchouli-Cat sits in front of it and yells at us, because she feels we should not be allowed to close doors. Sheikh just sleeps – doesn’t give a damn what side of the door he’s on.

Kyla looked at me and said, “You are going in there.”

Now, in that split second, I remembered that not ten minutes before, after going up the hall for something or other, I had come back down the hall toward the living room and noticed that the bedroom door was closed tightly. For reasons unknown, Patchouli hadn’t yelled about it, and I opened it so the cats could move back and forth again. We only ever close that door so that Sheikh can have his mushy food in peace, instead of pieces, which is what would happen if Patchouli got in there while he was eating. She would beat him up and take it from him. Patchouli has decent teeth, and Sheikh does not. Sheikh gets mushy food in the evenings. Sheikh is The King.

So I opened the door. And came back into the living room, and we watched the rest of the by now stupid movie.

So somehow, by the sound of it, the door creaked itself to the half-way open position.

I said, “I am not going in there.”

Ky said, “I’m only twelve!

Yeah? SO?!

Okay, so I didn’t say that. I made her turn the lamp beside her on. The hall light was already on so we could get to the bathroom throughout the movie without running into demons that might leak out of the dvd player, and Ky tried to crane her neck around the living room door while sitting on the couch, five feet away. When that didn’t work, I decided to be brave and actually go into the hall and look. I stood up.

She said, “Can I sleep in your bed tonight?” I suddenly felt much more brave.

And just then the bedroom door slammed shut.

Slammed.

Shut.

I don’t mind telling the Internet at large that I damn near shat. I’m pretty sure, when I look in the mirror (assuming I have the guts to leave this room to do so), that every hair on my head will have turned white.

And then Ky said, “Don’t say ‘hello’.”

Have you seen 28 Days Later?! Have you?! I had absolutely no intention of saying “hello”. I had absolutely no intention of doing anything other then sit back down and put my head under a pillow at that point.

I’m not sure how long it took, but I finally got the guts up to go look. Yes, the door was closed. When I got up the nerve to open it, the bedroom light was on (yes, I suppose I could have left it on.). There was a sleeping cat on each bed. The window was open (very slight breeze), and I said, “It was the wind.” Like I really believe it was the wind.

Kyla felt much better though, laughed it off, and in about ten minutes, was sound asleep in her own bed.

I hope she’s still there, un-possessed, in the morning. It’s 3:26 AM and I’m never leaving this room again.

Good thing Julie taught me how to pee in a coffee cup.

Random Song-for-the-Day: “Home” – Daughtry

Beam Me Up, Scotty…

Beam Me Up, Scotty…

larrydarryldarrylOne has a crinkly beard that grows half-way down his chest. I’m not sure how he manages to keep hammers and such from becoming entangled. Perhaps that’s where he stores his tools?

One wears suspenders, which I find odd; he looks to be all of 20 years old, and I’ve never seen anyone wear suspenders with industrial workwear before today. Then again, I’ve never claimed to be a fashionista.

The third is the only one who speaks. Loudly. It’s like Larry, Darryl and Darryl, without the flannel.

Roofers.

When I first moved into this building, I screamed every time a truck went by, because the whole building shakes. Like, really shakes. Enough to make windows rattle, pictures skew on the walls, computer cables jiggle out of their ports, and realtors powerless to impress clients with the “positive” features. Sometimes things on shelves shimmy just close enough to the edges to sit wobbling, unnoticed, until I walk under them later. It’s an exciting place to live.

I grew accustomed to the trucks, eventually, and I automatically push all the cables true before I boot up in the morning, now. And I’m no longer afraid of earthquakes. California, here I come.

But, Roofers! Roofers have tools that make truck drivers jealous of the power [INSERT “MANLY TOOL-TIME TIM” GRUNTING HERE]. There’s a guy up a ladder cutting a hole through what seems to be six layers of the laundry room ceiling right now. I think it’s Darryl #1, but I can’t be sure because he is now nearly waist-deep through most of those layers. I suppose I’ll know it was him if his beard is noticeably shorter later.

The ladder is tall enough to scrape the ceiling – I’m not sure how they got it up the stairs and through two short doorways (not to mention around two corners), but it took all three of them. I wish I could post pics, but there is no room in there for me. And the floor is jiggling enough that I’m nervous to walk around; so this is what it’s like to literally “walk on air”.

Anyway… whatever saw-thingy Darryl is using, it puts transports to shame. I’ve finally got the answer to what would happen to the building if trucks were to go by in a steady stream instead of just two or three in a row. The shake turns to a “thrum” – like how your jaw thrums when the hygienist uses the cleaner-thingy on you – only the cleaner-thingy would be the size of a Volkswagon, and it’s Gulliver getting his teeth cleaned.

The longer Darryl saws, the stronger the thrum is getting. This is what my cell-phone feels when I turn the vibrate-alert on, I’m certain. The whole building feels like it’s about to spout fire at the base and launch upward. I can’t wait to find out what happens next. Hopefully, it won’t be me and my chair hitting pavement.

***

UPDATE: 12:36 PM – What Happens Next…

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!

Cats shriek in terror. Continuously.

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!

Les considers abandoning building for the nearest bar, Roofers be damned. Let them climb in from the hole in the laundry room ceiling. I think I heard bricks falling on Cathcart Street, I swear.

UPDATE: 5:08 PM – What’s Happening Now…

BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!

I thought, a couple of hours ago, that they had gone home. Apparently they just wore out the first car they were dropping, and left to get another. It feels like a much bigger car.

Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “Space Oddity” – David Bowie

And That’s the Way It Is…

I’ve quit The Dream Job. School was (is) going down the crapper and I’ve been spending catch-up time in school worrying about The Dream Job, and catch-up time at The Dream Job worrying about school. Nothing was getting done.

If I can “fast-track” through school somehow, I might manage to give myself a buffer of a few weeks to look for a job before the funding runs out. I’m at a point financially, finally, that I can start to sock a way a bit of an emergency fund against having no income, but I doubt I have time to build much of a cushion. Not to mention, that this situation is temporary. The funding will stop. And hell, I’m not even sure I can finish school by the deadline, let alone early.

At this point in my life… well, let’s just say that this is not where I expected to be.

Random song for the Day: “The Joker” – Steve Miller Band