Archive for July, 2010

No guard dog? No problem.

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Dogs are so much work.

They have to be housebroken, trained, fed, played with, and – depending upon breed – they can poop as much as a horse.

At the same time, let’s say you have a ramshackle shed and broken-down car situation that needs to be fenced in and posted as dangerous? It would be so convenient to have a guard dog when those circumstances crop up, wouldn’t it? But again, all that work…

Enter your local watch dog artiste, who can paint for you any number of Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, and Doberman Pinschers in a variety of aggressive postures! It’s all the upside of a guard dog, and none of the hassle!

Keep Out!

Personally, I found the orange low-rider more intimidating than the painted-on Rottie.

No Tresspassing

Rottweilers don't frighten you? How about heavily peeling-off-the-fence Pit Bulls?

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Cat on a Hot White Roof

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

So today my role as Bermudian Cat Sitter begins in earnest. My friend is off to Florida, and it’s all on me. I’ve been giving the one cat, Jack Frost, his pills in a trial fashion (and he now hates me and clawed me good last night), and been warned that the other male, Blueberry, will do everything in his power to escape, get on the roof, and go down the chimney (which would be convenient if he survived it, as the chimney empties out into the upstairs bedroom, but I imagine I’m oversimplifying things as my friend looked at me horrified when I suggested as much.)

Kitty on a Dirty Limestone Roof.

At any rate, in preparation, I went out the bathroom window last night and staked out the roof.

I’m truly in no mood to be cat wrangling from 20 feet in the air, but I guess I’ll do what I have to do in the performance of my duty. That or I’ll try to lure him down the chimney with some Fancy Feast. It probably depends on my mood…

Speaking of my mood, I am a bit out of it and slightly traumatized. I got up this morning at 5:30am (having gone to sleep at 1:30am. Ouch.), rode to the airport with my friend, and then drove her car back to her house. In Bermuda, driving without a Bermudian license is not only frowned upon, it is wildly illegal and punishable with a huge fine. I’ve been given no less than three lectures on a) the import of not getting caught and b) what, exactly, to say if I’m caught. In other words, she put the scare on me.

And it worked.

That’s probably why – when I realized I’d screwed up and driven into the city of Hamilton instead of around it, and the gas gauge was on E, and I was probably f*cked – that my heart ripped out of my chest, catapulted itself out my throat, and took off in the general direction of the giant cruise ships. Worse, I almost immediately recognized the all-too-familiar-and-wildly-terrifying sound of police sirens. That was roughly the same moment I realized all the mirrors were adjusted wrong because she’s quite a bit shorter than me, and I had no idea where the sirens were coming from. And then the hallucinations and tremors set in.

In the end, it turns out the sirens had nothing to do with me.

Self-photo during my beach-to-beach hike yesterday. There are nine beaches - each one most breathtaking and postcard-ish and empty than the last - connected by trails just a few minutes' walk from the house. Amazing!

And, as I’d watched my friend get lost dozens of times in the exact same manner when I was here last November , I remembered how to get out of town post-haste. Once out of Hamilton, but still nearly out of gas, I tapped into my Spidey sense and almost immediately and semi-miraculously got myself onto the correct road – and all while driving on the left! (Diminish the accomplishment if you must, but it’s s extra-challenging while panicking.) Soon, I was recognizing things and reasonably certain that I was headed back to Southhampton and even did a big grocery store run before the ordeal was over. I didn’t fill the gas tank. I figured I’d save that harrowing adventure for another day – a little something to look forward to.

Lastly, in the interest of your edification and education, let’s talk about the white roof.  This won’t change your life, but it is mildly interesting: as it so happens, Bermuda does not have a single source of fresh water. It’s all rain, baby.

And the limestone roof is how they collect it. By law, every home must collect 80 percent of the water that falls on its roof and store it in a cistern beneath the house. And supposedly “there’s no acid rain here” and it’s good, clean, water and they drink it as it falls from the sky and despite the fact that the roof looked a little dirty to me.

However, at the moment – despite a wet and brutal winter – the cistern at my friend’s place has run dry and we’re using an insipid, chlorinated substitute that’s been delivered, and which I can only assume has been collected at some huge facility owned by an enterprising individual who had the good sense to stock up during a wetter time, which – thankfully for my trip – now is not. And despite the fact that every day Weather.com reports ‘scattered t-showers,’ I have only heard a little bit of rain a few nights ago…which is fine by me.  I don’t like rain on my paradisiacal beaches, and I can take some chlorine in my water. I used to be a lifeguard. I’ve ingested worse.

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Photo Safari!

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

I know he’s a wife-beater and that ain’t cool, but I just can’t get enough of Chris Brown’s song, Forever. I don’t know why. It’s something about the cheezeball lyrics and old school keyboard and happy “Woman, I love you, and I can’t wait to come home and batter your sweet ass until you look like bruised fruit” melody that really gets me going on a long run. When I hear the opening notes and that “1, 2, 3, 4!” I often throw my hands in the air and double my pace. “It’s like I waited my whole life, for this one night…” – it’s crack for my quads. What can I say? Forever is my Chariots of Fire.

Bermuda morning glory

Glorious Morning Glories!

Why am I talking about this? Well, because today I went for an extremely hot, ridiculously thirsty, and absurdly wet run. It was one of those runs where you can actually wring out your shirt with your own sweat. I know. Stop. Ixnay on the details. You can’t take anymore, because it’s just too sexy.

Bermudian house.

For reasons I cannot explain, it almost instantly occurred to me that I could climb over the hill, jump onto their roof, and go in through one of those windows. I have no further comment on my apparent latent cat burglar tendencies.

Anyway, my point here was not about the copious sweat or Chris Brown’s infectious poppy nonsense so much as the fact that it was a rather long (seven miles? eight? It took an hour and a half, so I hope I at least went that far) run and I nearly died of dehydration but I remembered to bring my camera. (!) That single gesture instantly elevated the hour and a half adventure from semi-grueling exercise to fantabulous photo safari!

Chenille plant, aka Acalypha hispida

Cool, furry, fuzzy caterpillar-ish plant thing! (a.k.a. Chenille plant; a.k.a. Acalypha hispida)

Moreover, I figure you’re still coming down from the contact high with the shameless excess of the pornographic beach scenes the other day, so I’ll give you a break and show you the softer, come-hither side of Bermuda. You can thank me by buying me a beer already, moochers. Oh, and beer at the grocery store is like $2.50 a pop here, so don’t be stingy!!!

Bermuda run

Me on my running safari, looking thirsty for beer, but less horrible than you'd think (or less so than I expected, anyway.)

Bermuda Railway Trail

There is a tunnel on my run, and it defies what I thought was a given for all tunnels: it does NOT reek of human urine!!! Color me impressed.

Yellow and White Plumeria

Damn, I'm good. This picture makes me happy. :)

Discarded beer bottles

Party time.

Red flowers

Unrelated to this photo, my ass is starting to ache. Oh, and did you read that thing about the guy who bought (what turned out to be) Ansel Adams negatives for $40 at a garage sale and they're worth $200,000,000!?!? I hate garage sales, but maybe I need to rethink that position?

Bermuda lighthouse view

A little blue water just to prove it's still Bermuda.

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Gratuitous Beach Porn

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

There’s this trend of referring to beautiful images of rich, decadent edibles as food porn. I can see that, and I also can’t see any reason why these pictures can’t be counted as beach porn. Feast your eyes on Bermuda in all its shameless, wanton glory.

Horseshoe Bay Bermuda

Horseshoe Bay. About a five minute walk from my friend's place.

Orange cannas

Some orange cannas flowers spotted on my walk back from the beach.

Tobacco Bay Bermuda

Me in Tobacco Bay, site of my jellyfish attack. It didn't really hurt all that much, but man does it itch now.

Tobacco Bay Bermuda

Looking out over Tobacco Bay to the ocean.

Horseshoe Bay Bermuda

Horseshoe Bay again.

Clearwater Beach Bermuda

Swimming today at a beach whose name I no longer remember. Clearwater, maybe? Let's go with that.

White sand Bermuda

Beachy goodness.

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Bermuda Hates Me

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

It might seem preposterous to suggest that a populous island somewhere between South Carolina and England would bother hating a single human being, but I assure you it’s true. Maybe it was the cavalier way I arrived last time with cats in tow and a friend’s swine flu-ridden, lying to customs boyfriend by my side? Maybe it’s the fact that I resent Bermuda for not being in the Caribbean and driving on the wrong side of the road and those stupid shorts: it resents me back? Perhaps it’s simply the old adage that you can’t please everybody. Some islands are going to hate your guts for no good reason.

And so it is.

Bermuda, like a sweet romance gone bad, decided to remind me of its wrath this morning, and I’d be lying if I didn’t mention I’m just hoping to get through the next two weeks alive. As I told the lady checking my bag onto a flight a full hour later than the one I originally purchased (more on that shortly) when she inquired how my morning was going, “If a meteor falls out of the sky and kills me right now, I will not be surprised.”

Now let’s back up and level set, shall we? As you probably know, as much as I travel, I rather hate to travel. Not the being there, but the getting there. Any way you slice it, it’s a goddamned hassle: schedules to plan, overpriced tickets to buy, clothes to be selected and packed, tiny bottles and portions to be rationed and remembered, pets to be sat, lamenting about ‘why did I think this sounded like a good idea???’ to be done, and details to manage. Even when it all goes well, it’s a small nightmare.

And when it all goes to hell?

Well, welcome to my life.

So where should we start? Probably with the decision to do not one, but two revisions to The Food Machine this week (including two new chapters! Great! Just what a 138,000-word novel needs! More words!) and while over at my friend’s house as she edited just a few pages behind me – kind of like the guy with the scooper who follows the horse.

From a book editing perspective, this was a brilliant idea, as I got a ton done, and I’m truly happy with the novel now. From a travel perspective, this was retarded and is why I now have a three-inch stack of 8 1/2×11” paper contained in a giant plastic binder sitting on my foot here on the plane. I ran out of time and had to bring the f*cker with me.

I also ran out of time for that little thing I like to call ‘packing.’ Long story short, the night ran late, and I crawled into bed hoping that the two and a half hours’ of sleep in my future would hold me over. I set the alarm for 3:00am (hoping to leave the house by 3:30am to get to the airport in time for my 5:00am flight) and quickly fell asleep.

What happened next is kind of foggy. As of today, I’ve developed a theory that extreme panic is akin to being really drunk: you remember things, but not really. All I know is that rather than a suitably annoying alarm sound, my alarm clock was set – but not quite – to a radio station. So the resulting “alarm” was more or less white noise with a little bit of radio static and feedback here and there.

Actually, thank the sweet lord for the feedback, or I’d probably still be asleep right now. At the same time, the feedback didn’t quite hack it, and I may have hit ‘snooze’ a few times. Again, I’m not sure, chalk it up to ‘full-blown panic amnesia.’

All I know for certain is that I groggily glanced at the clock and saw that it read 4:06. Ummmm. What? 4:06 what? 4:06 who? 4:06 HOLY SHIT I AM SO TOTALLY SCREWED.

I sprang out of bed, threw on some clothes, and didn’t so much as brush my teeth or look at myself in the mirror (Hel-lo Ugly Bangs!!!) or check to confirm my head was still attached. I fed the pets, took out the trash, left a baggie with three hard boiled eggs somewhere (holy mother of god the gas that dog will have! I am only grateful I won’t be there to smell it,) and drove ten minutes toward the airport when (doing a mental check: “Any kind of flames or other small fires left burning?” No. “All doors locked or at least closed?” “I think so.” “Pets alive and accounted for?” Yes. “Do you have your wallet and phone?” Yes…F*CK. BERMUDA IS A FOREIGN COUNTRY. To my credit, it was 4:25am, which means I actually got out the door in under ten minutes. To my discredit, I had just realized I’d forgotten my passport.

En route back to the house, I called the airline and changed (for $25 for a confirmed seat, which probably wasn’t necessary because there were empty seats on the flight, and I could have gone standby for free, but it wasn’t the kind of morning I was feeling particularly bold or lucky) to the 6am flight…giving me an hour to make my next connection. I can live with an hour. I’ve faced worse.

Back at the house, I was greeted warmly by the pets (“Back so soon! I’m so glad to see you!”), grabbed the passport, and nearly fell down the stairs while arranging the new flight and, again, freaking the f*ck out. En route once again, I felt a small ripple of calm run through the sea of uber anxiety attack, and realized I’d be at the airport a whole hour early. Yippee! What could possibly go wrong now?

How about locking the keys in the car WITH THE LIGHTS ON. Yes. You read that correctly. I’m not going to apologize or try to make excuses. It is what it is. I locked the keys inside the car and the lights were on. I stood there stupefied for about two minutes and then shrugged my shoulders, slogged to the terminal, and got in line to check in. When all signs indicate you might die today, you may as well get on a plane.

The line was long, and time was short (it was now 5:12am – and a mere hour since I first awoke) and the electronic kiosk wouldn’t let me check my bag to Bermuda myself. As I stood behind roughly 30 people, I calculated the odds that I would miss this flight (HIGH), and went over to the MVP/Premier line. I am neither MVP nor Premier, but I am Type A, and when things start going badly, I start taking action. When the lady asked how I was, I played the ‘pitiful but still has a sense of humor’ card, gave her the meteor line above, and somehow she either didn’t notice or didn’t care that I’d kind of cheated my way into her line. Hey, I gave them an extra $25 today (plus $20 for the bag), and I am battling the ill will of an entire island. Sometimes you have to be a pushy jerk.

Naturally, checking my bag was a giant hassle and security was slammed, and I walked up to the gate as they were announcing “Final boarding call for WOLF. Passenger WOLF, please come to gate C21 immediately.” I was carrying my belt in my hands as I boarded, but with the wake-up call I had, I was just grateful to be wearing pants at all.

On the first flight (of three today), I sat in front of a screeching toddler and his screaming baby brother. There really is nothing more delightful than the sound of children’s banshee wails at six o’clock in the morning. It’s like music and sunbeams and sharp shards of glass all rolled up in a hand grenade. Meanwhile, the older kid was apparently practicing some kind of witchcraft (on me, no doubt) and bellowing incantations such as:

Shabba Doo Fini

Shabba Doo FINI

Shabba DOO FINI!!!

SHABBA DOO FINI!!!!!!!

I noticed his technique involved repeating each phrase at an increasingly louder volume until the old lady in the row in front of me turned around and hissed a nasty “Shhhh” in his direction. I’ve talked about the futility of sushing babies before, so my only comment on that is that apparently it is not just Mexicans who shhhhh babies, but old white ladies do too.

Although he may have been trying to work a spell rendering me blind or give me shingles or cause the handle of my carry-on bag to rip off inexplicably and turn into a panther, but thus far his toddler sorcery has proved ineffective. As an additional upside, I’ve picked up some new spells – Mozzle Dee Fafa! Mozzle Dee FAFA! Mozzle DEE FAFA!!! – that I’m most excited to try out on my friends and loved ones.

That brings us to now, where I am sitting in seat 24C bound for JFK and weighted down by the aforementioned ten-pound binder on my foot. I’m in the aisle and I’m freaking cold, but they don’t give you blankets or pillows anymore on American Airlines – they sell them to you for $8.00. So f*ck that. I’ll take my lumps like everyone else and freeze.

On the ceiling above me is a black and white TV on the serious fritz airing what appears to be a game show hosted by (I believe his name is) Guy Fieri of Applebees menu “fame” and some kind of cooking show and the really heinously ugly hair, and this woman has had an Oreo placed on her forehead and apparently has to get it into her mouth without touching it and is contorting her face in a wide variety of….oh, the humanity. Who comes up with this shit and what is wrong with the people who watch it???

In other news, the only food available is some oatmeal with raisins for $8.00 and a ‘giant cookie’ for $4.99. Much like the blanket, I will not only be cold, but I will be hungry, and I will like it.

At JFK, I have a 45 minute connection. This is not a terribly generous amount of time for an international flight, and it’s the last shuttle to Bermuda for the day. As the gate agent so succinctly put it, “If we’re even ten minutes late, you’re screwed.” Then she smiled at me brightly because she’s in customer service after all.

The joke, however, is on her. I already know I’m screwed. I woke up screwed. I went to bed screwed. I can still hear that kid screaming in my mind, and I’m cold, and I’m hungry, and I’m goddamned tired, and I feel screwed…and not the good kind. Nonetheless, one day this will all be over and my luggage and I will be reunited and with any luck, Bermuda will not open up a giant sinkhole a la Guatemala City and swallow me whole.

More later from the other side, presuming I make it through the Triangle…

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