Monday, 29 June 2009

bob the builder

Over the weekend, H and I worked more on the living room and hung strips of wallpaper. The bit of color was an accent--a single strip off-set from the wall's center. To make sure the paper was self-same and perpendicular to the floor and the paste was swabbed economically, H needed a heavy weight, a plumb-bob, and what proved to be the handiest object, the right size and the right amount of heft, was my little copper and iron crucifix suspended from a lenght of kite string. Incidentally, it was the same little cross that has been on tour with us in Rome and overlooking the plaza pictured. I told H he looked as if he were fishing for nuns.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009


Previously, I've mentioned the unease that major construction projects give me around the workplace. Of course, the US army has to make good on its commitments, regardless of how delays and set-backs have made the particular building project in question moot or obsolete. In the past, the army has whipped up this procrastination into a fine art--having all the contractors paid just in time for base-closure and hand-over of facilities back to the German government. Looking at some of the work they are doing now, it appears that the construction firms have gotten wise to this tactic, and, in order to save themselves the extra work a year later, are putting a nice local touch on sidewalks, breezeways and pedestrian malls. It's as if they are terraforming the base in prepartion for an eventual take-over. There's even plans for a Biergarten. The work the teams are doing is very nice, though it doesn't fit the overall junkyard character of the place that hasn't been re-done--but I imagine there is still just enough time for all the just-in-time re-engineering.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


One resource bearing search results in the forefront leaves one with this icon as the only graphic-representation of car-pooling. What if this war-time propaganda is the only notion of ride-sharing, our small effort for economy and to shrink our carbon-footprint, is the only entry that is distilled into the Encyclopedia Galactica? America isn't known for its subtlety, is it? Sort of in the same way one of the first live television broadcasts was the Hindenburg bursting into flames. Most people, I think, still assume this type of stance to car-pooling to work--that it is common-sense, maybe a bit noble--but still, most people don't consider themselves part of this horsey-set. There were relatively few follow-up campaigns--no mascots for ride-sharing. Even hitchhikers were roundly condemned as murderous vagants. Like suburbanites and small-city dwellers, no one would take public transit if they didn't need to. I yet have some reservations about the inbound journey, thinking of what errands I need to accomplish during the day and the extra stops I'll need to make afterwards. The lessened environmental impact and the conversation on the way home, however, make up for any imagined inconvenience--not to mention the respite from having to be behind the wheel.

Monday, 22 June 2009


Since settling in and having long ago abandoned old linens, like with the pillows, to packing-related missions, I have felt uninspired to order new towels. Towels are some of the most genuinely innovative pieces of handiwork in existence. One can use them far beyond the conventional shower--they can be used as a sling or a brace or a tourniquet, to wipe up all sorts of spills and splashes, be worn as a skirt or a superhero cape or swami turban--and can feel better and more luxuriant than few things. I think that I keep threatening to order some to dampen the rush to buy an expensive set from the boutique. New towels should be things one comes across spontaneously or they fall from the heavens fully-formed and in a gift basket. By myself, however, I find myself also very non-committal and reluctant to buy anything but one patchworked item at a time. We do need to hold some in reserve in order to practice some restraint with the laundry, but there is also the matter of the decor of the bathrooms. One could be decidedly nautical but we are veering away from that style. I like Frog Royalty too well to keep with bleached sea shells and sand dollars. The other bathroom is more modern and industrial, which I like as well, except for the decorative tiles which have little metallic silver accents on every three or four tiles. They are not harsh and glaring but it looks like something that would grace the dressing-room of Jem and the Holograms or if Charlie Sheen's interior decorator trophy-wife in Wall Street had designed it.

Saturday, 20 June 2009


There is no Muse of blogging--at least, not the likes that Robert Herrick or some sentimental poet would sing odes to, beseeching inspiration. If there were a blogging Muse, I'd wager that she'd be by turns loud and whiney, impatient and absent, and more than just a little bit raunchy. The word museum comes from a place to worship the Muses but I don't know that I'd like to make a special trip to this one's temple--Terpsipornai we could name her, delight in harlots, or perhaps she already exsists in the sister Clio, Muse of History, whose name means to "recount" or to "make famous." There's no Muse of journalism either, and yet there's no shortage of commentary and analysis for every topic, accessible or not. Maybe that's why the news business is collapsing. Maybe the trick is to pick a subject and stick to it--the well never seems to run dry then. There is no longer the Johan Daily, nor would I have the fortitude to publish such a thing--although there's always the pleasant unmentionables, there is no ephemeral news-cycle that I would care to share. The Muses were all about inspiration for improvisation, in any case, and not about research and re-worked rehearsals.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

electro smog

A cellular telephone has been developed that holds a charge stolen out of the ether, sort of like a self-winding watch that powers itself from the kinetic energy of the wearer walking about. This gadget is like an antenna for stray electric impulses and receives them like a radio. A few months earlier, researchers should that a light bulb could be coaxed to life, wirelessly, from domestic background radiation.
It's a pretty nifty idea, to be able to divine electricity out of its surroundings--but it does illustrate how already choked our households are with electro smog. I'd much rather see the realization of the Broadcast Energy Transmitter that G*I* Joe had. Remember that? It seems a lot cleaner and safer. Wind-up toys were pretty nifty, as well, and I think that sort of refined tinkering is an art lost to battery-power.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Dear Gentle Reader

H and I are just derevealing from our trip to Rome, and even though we were not away for very long, it was rejuvenating and it felt as if we were in the Eternal City for quite some time. In fact, though I had no issues of separation-anxiety with work and emails, I felt that I had been away for so long that I felt remiss with giving my readership, my followers, a much awaited update. I'm never certain what LonelyGal_Winnepeg wants to hear about first... Rome was breathtaking and I didn't realize beforehand that downtown was peopled was mammoth ruins like that. In the movies, one sees vespas circling the Colosseum but one cannot really imagine the entrenched excellent rubble. Years ago, a piece I read by Joan Dideon on the then new Getty museum--an apparent eye-sore in its day. She posited that there was a point in the age of any monument's life when it makes the transition from tacky to distinguished. The Baths of Caracalla and the Imperial Fori probably looked like audacious symphonies when brand-new, different than a modern shopping mall but not by much, and needed to reach a certain vintage to inspire awe and wonder.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009


H and I are poised to escape from Frankonia--for the first time since County Kerry back in October. The chance to get away couldn't have come soon enough--the relief a vacation affords lingers. And it seems Rome is a rather popular destination this season. We've sat dreaming and scoping out sites and we're very excited.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


Another casualty of the econo-lypse (real or imagined), I think, is the solvent secrecy of the Swiss banking system. Perhaps I was just a late-comer to the game or didn't insist that matters be handled delicately or perhaps, on opening the account, I was asked if I were famous, I ought to have said yes (that was the only question I was asked by the clerk who set up my account), but I received a strange, lenghty letter from Vaduz yesterday, regarding my status a "non-US person." Wanting to clarify this situation, the bank wanted me to confirm their suspicions that I "was possibly not a non-US person." Unless they received an answer soon, the bank would terminate my account, liquidate my holdings and keep it in their office as a cheque in Swiss francs for me to retrieve at my convenience. Of course, if I really was a non-US person, I should clear up this matter with my agent right away. I wish I really had that much money, non-liquid assets and an agent that this would even matter. It the event that I was not in fact a non-US person, I should complete an American IRS form that they sent and return it to them. What I found most amusing was that the form was an application for a social security number or ITIN (individual tax-payer identification number)--exactly what a non-US person would need to report taxes.

Monday, 8 June 2009


Last week, while patrolling my usual beat, I glanced a piece of rather ethereal trash tucked under some leaves of grass. I walked right past it but took a step back a second later, it having registered that it was the receipt for a lottery ticket. To find expired and canceled ballots is not unusual, but I noticed that this one was for an upcoming drawing, lost or accidentally discarded during a long holiday weekend. I pocketed it, and in the intervening hours before I could have it official checked at one of the kiosks, I indulged the weekly lotto-fantasies several fold. Right away, I resolved, that if I had really found the Golden Ticket, I'd author and devote a web-site to finding whoever it was who had managed to lose it--of course, there would be some impossible answers to riddle out, that would present to posteuring claimant a challange as unlikely as winning the actual jackpot (Name three series of numbers, besides the winner--which were surely randomly generated; Name the shop where it was purchased and the clerk's name). Once I was finally able to have it checked--which is never so much of a let down but does put of the fantasy and anticipation until next week, I found that I was only thirty euro or so ahead of the game. Not too shabby, but hardly worth the effort to establish a lost-and-found.

Friday, 5 June 2009


I have grown to dread Fridays of late. It never so much seemed to be the case before, but now it is as if all the hardships and calamities choose this day to disembowel themselves and loose chaos on the impending weekend. Already here I've noticed that some people take the better part of the work day to warm-up and have a thought, request, demand not before 1600. The real professionals do one better, taking almost the whole week to plot what disasters can be unleashed when everyone's expecting and sometimes deserving of a quiet end to the week. I remind people that it is Friday and kindly calm the fuck down, but I shouldn't look toward the end of the week with trepidation--too often said, it becomes an affirmation that can spoil the whole day.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

unicorn chaser

Last week or so in a sort of Rear Window moment, I found myself watching the old lady with a nice, pedicured patch of green lawn looping bright and colourful ribbons around a frame. I speculated as to the purpose of this project--maybe as a part of belated May Day celebration. I decided (to my personal amusement but I doubt to any one elses') that she would don this fantastic mane, prance about the living room and proclaim herself a rainbow unicorn. She brought the ribbons inside from the balcony, and I thought we'd never witness the ritual. Yesterday, however, the ribbon reappeared, not in some interpretive dragon dance or prayer-banners constantly wafted on the steppes of the Himalayas, but tossed and strewn on to the narrow patch of vegetables, which I can see from the office window. It seemed a rather extravagant and labour-intense swath to just throw on the cabbages as a scare-crow, especially when not propped up like some demented partyicoloured jester but just gently discarded between the furrows.

Monday, 1 June 2009


H had no idea that I could be styled quite the pillow affectionado. I was never so fond of having them around myself, stuffed into cornerns and cupboards and kicked off the bed, but I had aquired a few over the years and no good cause to really thin the ranks. Of course I had the occasion to use them as a bit of extra padding while packing, and I suppose they are always useful as insulation, cushions for the clumsy or for the seraglio and don't seem to harbour fleas or moths. Despite the virtue of a cache of pillows, there is the sheer number of them, which seem to multiply given a minute's privacy and will breed anywhere--boxes, cabinets, closets.