Thursday, September 30, 2010


I have known many weirdos, far & wide, as they tend to be the kind of people I prefer. I had a tshirt once that had the cast of Peanuts on it with the line, 'My friends are all such characters.' True words.
But as I have or will blog about those folks sometime here, I'm focusing only on the really OUT THERE weirdos I've known. Here's my Top Five:

1. Alice the Goon

This dude was F-ed up! I've never learned his real name or anything about his history, but he looked EXACTLY like Alice the Goon from the old Popeye cartoon, but with long, witchy hair. Definitely same build, same crazy eyes. He would ride his bike all around my hometown, picking up cans for the deposit. He rode his bike so slowly, we couldn't figure out how he stayed on it at all. He defied all kinds of physics. Of course, he occasionally slept on it too, propped up against a telephone pole or streetlight.

2. Jack Kemp

Nope, not this dude. Just a guy completely off his walnut who shared his name. Really nutters. Possibly a situation where he was phased out of an institution and into mainstream society. Liked to talk to his groceries as he was walking home from the store, particularly toilet paper.
You should've seen the double-takes and shocked looks when the Official Jack Kemp announced his run for President. The Jack Kemp For President yard signs around our town were quickly confiscated as souvenirs.

3. Orange Running Man

My fellow Ithacans may be familiar with this guy. He always wears a hoodie, sweatshorts, straggling mud-spattered crew socks, wears a backpack, is bright orange, and runs all around town from downtown up to Hanshaw Road and back again over and over, usually with an expression on his face that would lead you to think he's on death's doorstep. If he weren't in his athletic gear, he'd be the spitting image of the hobo Pee Wee Herman rode in the traincar with in Pee Wee's Big Adventure. You know, the one who wouldn't stop singing:

4. Lisa David
An Ithaca landmark. Lisa may be the most 'rode hard put away wet' crossdresser in the central NY area. There's a different theme of costume each year (very little Edie Beale's "Revolutionary Costume for Today"). Last year's was a Marching Band Majorette theme. Lisa has a tricked-out bicycle with milk crates attached to the back with hand-painted flames. There's also a boombox mounted on the handlebars that blasts out the year's theme song as she rides around town. (Also slowly- hmm?)

While various Journey songs have been utilized, my favorite is always Asia's The Final Countdown, partly for the irony, partly because it reminds me of Gob from Arrested Development:

5. Bendy Man
He was one of the characters that used to hang out around the Chinese restaurant across the street from one of my offices. The girl who worked in the box office a floor below would call me when things were slow and narrate Bendy Man's adventures. We called him Bendy Man because he would contort himself into the strangest positions while he draped himself around the park bench out front.  Apparently, he's an intensely intelligent former professor.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Conversation about travel and toilets

Conversation with my friend LB about visits & toilets:

Me: I wish you could teleport here. And bring a Port-a-Potty with you.
LB: If I traveled in the Port-a-Potty I would be Doctor Poo.
Me: It's a TURDIS.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I wish Number Two wasn't Number One on my mind right now

Arghhh. I apologize YET again for the lack of entertaining, happy blogs on my site.
We are dealing with YET again, toilet and sewer line issues, which are gross and worrisome enough to shove all thoughts of happy entertainment right outta my head.
We bought our house 3 years ago- it's old as the hills. Seriously. The deed says it was built in 1864, but when I worked for a historic preservation organization, I found proof that there had been a mortgage on the property going back ten years or so. We have at least three different kinds of foundations in our creepy silence-of-the-lambs basement which attest to its age and growth cycles.
It was in one family for all those years until the early 1990s when someone decided to make it a student rental property. Then all hell broke loose.
Our house was called the Plank House. It was the punk students' party house. In addition to various damage (including a hella lot of smashed glass out back- I think they were pulling storm windows off and smashing them for fun) there was a giant hole in the dining room ceiling they used to jump through to get from 2nd floor to 1st. How do I know this? Pizza was delivered by a former resident of the Plank House who peeked his head in and said, "Aww, you got the hole fixed?"
dining room
It was purchase by a nice guy around 2005 with the intent of fixing it up & flipping it. He did a damn good job, as we would've had no idea about the dining room ceiling hole if it weren't for Stoner McTrippy. He put in new copper pipes, new electrical, A/C, new appliances, new furnace & water heater, fixed all the head-shaped divots in the walls and painted them historically-accurate colors. Then he got transferred down near NYC & had to sell. This is where we came in.
We'd been enjoying the hell out of our house until this past February when the downstairs toilet stopped working and something unspeakable happened in the tub/shower. I'm serious when I say unspeakable. We won't speak of it. We don't want to be spoken to about it. Let's pretend that never happened.
Anyway, we had a plumber come to the house and he freaked us the F out when he wasn't able to snake far enough to the clog and said there was a chance we'd have to have the main line dug out and replaced. Then he went into our front yard and said he didn't know how they would even be able to do THAT as our house is set down and back from the road and there's a guardrail in the way. Then he discovered our house trap out front. Snaked it, all was good with the world. Whew.
Until this summer and we had our yearly maintenance done. Part of that included cleaning the house trap. Cool. Problem was, right after that, the toilet wouldn't flush again. Thankfully, we didn't have another Unspeakable Incident, but it was upsetting nonetheless. We had the plumber people come back, since it had been working fine before he was there, and he snaked us out and all was well. He did tell us that he thinks our main line that connects our house to the city sewer line has a low spot where it settled, so stuff just hangs out there and causes the toilet not to empty. He felt we could just get it snaked every once in awhile and be good.
living room
But then last night, here we go again. Brett bought a sewer rod in the hopes we could take care of this ourselves, but it wouldn't make its way around the curve in the pipe. Our head of maintenance at my job was kind enough to offer to snake it before for us and has suggested a solution that may run us a couple hundred bucks, but if it fixes the problem and keeps us from having to tear out a guardrail and dig up our yard to the tune of several thousand bucks, it will be worth it.
But I am seriously considering building an outhouse in my backyard. Enough of this shit.

Monday, September 13, 2010

You could've been Busy Timmy...

Argh. I've been a very delinquent blogger lately. Very busy at work, and my sister has moved in with us to study at the Finger Lakes School of Massage. It's only a seven-month program, she's a lovely houseguest, and we usually have someone staying at our house nearly every night of the week anyway, so that's nothing new.

I was five when Katie Margaret was born. Since my brother had turned out to be a giant disappointment to me 4 years earlier (he just cried all the time, most unlike my baby dolls which was my expectation) I was hoping for something better this time around. Since I handled my brother's arrival so poorly, my parents tried to ease the way by letting me name the new baby. I decided on Katie Margaret if she was a girl, or Busy Timmy if he was a boy. Kate was lucky she was female.
I look very Carey Mulligan in this photo, no?
My parents' favorite story about when Katie was born was that my grandma Genevieve was watching Kevin & me, and we decided to make cookies to celebrate. She was so flustered by all the excitement that she used salt instead of sugar, which we did not discover until my mom tried one of those delicious chocolate chip cookies we brought to her in the hospital.

The excitement was that my sister was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice and she looked so bad at birth that they gave her the last rites. They were particularly concerned because of the trauma at my brother's birth and that my mom had miscarried prior to Katie. But fortunately, she was fine, my mom was fine (although she was told this should be her last baby), and as soon as she came home, I pronounced Katie MINE.

Me, Dad, Katie, Mom, & my great-grandmother
I've always been very grateful for my sister for a lot of reasons, but most especially that we shared the experience of growing up with my brother and his problems. Even back when five years was a big age gap, it was a huge comfort knowing someone else in the world really knew what it was like having a sibling with mental and psychological problems. I could always count on Katie to sympathize and not lecture me, like well-meaning family members did when I complained about his latest injustice. When your brother has just destroyed a bunch of your favorite toys, you're looking for a little sympathy; you don't need to hear, "He's special, he doesn't know what he's doing." Kids with disabled siblings already bear a huge load of guilt just for being the normal ones. Sometimes we just need to hear that it's okay to be angry with him because he's being an assmunch- disabilities have nothing to do with it.

My very favorite picture of my sister. Ever.
Because our high school was so small, we ended up doing a lot of the same activities. She was in 7th grade and eligible for sports during my senior year. She ran cross-country and track with me, and was on the swim team as well. I am the better swimmer; she was by far the better runner. On track, during the 3,000, she would lap me. Toward the end of my senior year, when yearbooks came out, the girls on track learned that my dad's nickname for me was Hamchuck. They were already calling Katie "Cheese" because when she ran by you, she'd put on a big 'say cheese' grin. So upon discovering that I was "Hamchuck" and she was "Cheese," we became the Deli Sisters.

Katie is an enormous lot of fun, and much gutsier than I am. At the hotel for my grandma's 90th birthday party, we went down to the bar and saw that not only did they have a DJ playing that night, but that someone was celebrating their graduation with a big decorated cake. Big mistake. Kate snarfed the little fake diploma and plastic cap from the cake and ran around the bar wearing it all night.

We also decided that we would take a picture of the two of us and Kevin every year on St. Patrick's Day. They do a giant hoopla in my hometown on St. Pat's- the town's predominantly Irish- and there's a big parade then a huge party, ironically, at the Knights of Columbus (lots of italians too). We had two years of nice pictures, before Kate got cranky one year and refused to come out.

Me and Kevin with "The New Katie"
As a joke, Kevin & I got this nice lady who was serving up reubens on the food line to pose with us as the New Katie, since her name really was Katherine.

So even though it may seem like an adjustment to have someone living with us for seven months, I'm really thrilled to have my sister here and I'm proud to be able to help her achieve her goal. And I'm really psyched about all the free massages I'm going to get.
Sportin' some stylish footed jammies from the Webster Goodwill store

Friday, September 3, 2010

I.R. Shame

I have been a delinquent blogger lately.
I've had ideas, but either I don't have access to the photos I want while I'm doing this at work (shh) or I fall into an exhausted heap when I get home.
I promise to be better.
Some interesting things lately:
  • there's a flock of wild turkeys that are hanging around South Hill. I passed them on 96B driving to work the other day. I swear one of them waved back when I beeped.
  • I got our Kazoo Band at work to perform at our Annual Campaign kick-off event at Barnes & Noble on October 30th. Yes, the senior community where I work has a club called the Mad Hatters' Kazoo Band. They are SERIOUS. They have rehearsals & arrangements and special hats for different performances. They were very excited about this event and went straight to work on special hats for the performance.
  • Another hobo sighting- they must know I'm friends with Gary. Brett & I were at the Ale House for dinner, waiting at the bar for our table and enjoying a delicious beer when a homeless guy toddles up to the bar and yells, "Barkeep! A glass of water here!" The bartender, who was pouring drinks for other PAYING customers, very nicely told him he'd be with him in just a minute, then gave the dude a glass of water, which he sucked down and then left the place after thanking the bartender with a fistbump.
  • I fixed my ipod. The screen was doing a faded version of the WSoD (white screen of death) but I learned how to reset it and downloaded the software updates so it's good as new now. Whew.
  • I finally read the last Harry Potter book. I bought it when it first came out, but for some reason, I didn't dig right in (very unlike me) and just flipped to the back to see if Harry lived or not. 
  • What the hell is up with T. Rex's lyrics??? Seriously- he makes Lewis Carroll's jabberwocky sound like an automobile owner's manual.
  • I ate a grilled peanut butter, cream cheese & pickle sandwich last night. It was surprisingly really really good. I know, I also worried for my sanity.
  • I just ordered us a new vegetable/rice steamer.
  • We are not attending the family NJ clambake festivities this year. We decided we're just beat from everything going on, and since we want to dress up & go whole hog at the Rhiner Fest next weekend, we thought it best to save up our energy (and money). I'm all for any event that turns Castaways into a waterside speakeasy, complete with secret password.
  • We celebrated Minchy Day on Wednesday. It has been 7 years since Minchy joined us. I feel bad that we didn't do anything exciting- we usually have his doggie friends over for play- but we'll take a long walk Saturday morning that hopefully will make up for it.