a hive of activity

"It makes me break out in hives." The last time I had hives, I was working on an allergy story. (Hmm. The mind is a powerful thing.) I learned that hives can be caused by something you ingested (nope), the onset of a virus (hope not), reaction to an insect bite (I don't think so), stress (not), medications (don't take any) or something you come into contact with. (I have long ascribed mine to contact with laundry detergent or Dick Cheney.)
However, in the case of the outbreak at three o' clock in the morning, I'm tempted to diagnose the insulaton I was bathing in all day yesterday. When I woke up attempting to scratch the palms of my hands off, I popped an antihistimine. When I felt my tongue swell, I put the epi-pen next to the bed. But within an hour they were receding.
Dear Readers, what makes you break out in hives?


historical marker


This is what it says on the wall I'm about to finish insulating and beadboarding. A bit of history that will soon be covered, to be excavated someday by someone else who will be saying to themselves, "Who put up all this hideous panelling? And what a shitty job!" That is, they'll be saying it if the polar ice caps don't melt and raise the sea level too much or the next monster hurricane doesn't wipe it out.
It was written in pencil, of course, but with a few errors in transcription I went over it in magic marker.
Do you know who these people are? I think I do.



Spent some quality time gambling with the water people. Here's how it works: You guess how much water you're going to need and pay for the privilege of possibly using (and then being allowed to pay premium prices for) that water. If you go under, you have overpaid for your allotment. If you go over you will be penalized. Financially. Big time. A very nice woman at the water co. showed me how to calculate how much my allotment would cost. I estimated that I would need 30,000 gallons each year. You divide that by 92, because the water co. calculates costs based on the three-month period of July, August and September, usually the highest use period. (Showers, rentals, house guests, beach time, dog baths, laundry, etc.) Then you times that number by three to calculate your cost.
Well, she convinced me that 40,000 gallons was more reasonable than 30,000 for a three bedroom house. So I bought that for my so-far nonexistant house. My current three-bedroom house, meanwhile, had a 25,000 allotment and as of the end of August I was already up to 24,000, so I bought another allotment of 5,000 to bring my current house up to 30,000. Get it? That's why it's good there's a patient person at the water co. Something over $1400 later, I am now the proud owner of the right to buy water.
I don't think I'll take a shower til October 1, though.


in the zone

The attorney showed up. Last night he filed an application for variance or special use permit with the zoning board. The issues are that it is a mixed use lot (rather than strictly residential) and that it is in a flood control area. The Lawyer was repping several other clients at the meeting, many of whom have much bigger fish to fry than I.
Next step appears to be the planning board in a couple of weeks then the zoning hearing. November 28. That means I have definitively missed this fall's building season, as it will take Coastal Resources Management Council a couple weeks to act, at the very least. Then there's Historic District, building permits and etc.
Please, permit me.


the haircut

My home is my own again—plus or minus a few family members. Real Estate Lady told me that the Bad Tenants had run into a situation at their previous situation as well, and that she has now told them she will no longer rent them any of her houses.
So there.
The house looked great when I got here, since Jose had done his thing splendidly. Except for that damn French door, which has Yet Another busted doorknob thing. Now I can't open it at all to open the storm doors. But hey, there's always another storm.
Maybe what I need is a carpenter who knows about French doors. Who should I call?


five o'clock boat

Things you have to do to leave your apartment:
water plants
throw out cut flowers
clean out refrigerator
tidy up
figure out how far open to leave windows
leave checks
leave mailing envelopes
leave key
find aerobed
call the Artist Known as Chang
don't forget food in refrigerator
don't forget food in the refrigerator
did I mention the food in the refrigerator?

As I woke up, I was trying to calculate how many rolls of insulation I was going to need. Then I wondered if I would be able to find my utility knife. Then I wondered if it was going to rain on my truckload of lumber. By then I figured I'd better get up and check the weather. (Answer: yes)


the artist has stepped out

Charles Sperry Andrews spent every day doing what he loved above all else: painting. He painted oceans and trees, houses and people, cows and pigs,junkyards

and carousels, clothes on the line and boats in the water.
He painted everywhere he went, and so we can only assume that he is painting now, wherever he is.
We wish we could see those pictures.


what a tomato, part 2

Yes, Dolores DID make it to the Bronx. She is in a state of shock, running away to DC, which she couldn't wait to get away from, LA and other destinations. But one of these days she's going to settle down. Meanwhile—party!


the road home

Looking in the rear view mirror, you can see Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I'm home.


70 on I-70

So I blew out of Gape Girardeau, and aside from rivers, trains, road construction, praire, mountains, cities of the plain, hunger, thirst, gas prices ($2.77 to $2.89, regular), tunnels and bridges, encountered few obstacles. I also heard the new happening song "Tequila Makes her Clothes fall Off" a couple times.
But I still wish I woulda got the names of the kids who were playing real good for free down by the levee upstream a ways from New Orleans.


mother of rivers

The last time I woke up in this town, I was in a bunk on a dark and deserted tour bus. I had partied with Travis Tritt’s band all the way from Peoria, and when I opened the door, somewhere between Branson and Paducah, to the Cape Girardeau sun I felt pretty ragged. I stumbled into the motel, booked a room, showered and hitched a ride with Tim McGraw down to the Civic Center to rejoin the band. The guys gave me knowing looks, and the only thing that got me through that day (and night) was a Cherry Coke.
This time I checked out sunset over the Mississippi River, went early to bed and, apart from having spent much of the night being chewed on, apparently by chiggers, this morning feels much better. It's a school day.


little house

Just in case y'all think I don't do anything educational out here in the Ozarks, let me inform you that I visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead, the original Little House on The Prairie.
OK, so I didn't go in, but that would have involved taking a tour, and as all other owners of historic homes I have visited know, tours are something I endure only under duress. Still I went, I saw, I snapped.


journalism sucks

Do you think this expression indicates that I have worn out my welcome in the Ozarks? I have been sitting on my butt at this man's house, fielding calls that do not come, for a week now. The dogs are so bored they don't even bark any more. My hostess has left the property, and my host now prefers to spend time in his bed alone with a book rather than in my company. Sigh. I'm bored with myself, too. I usta be a journalist. Now I am a pariah.


this is quark

For the latest in how our cousins fared in Louisiana, check out swampgas and be sure to read the funny story about the fuel line.


night out

Last night I had dinner at TJ's. No big surprise, I have dinner at TJ's (closed on Sundays) practically every other night if I'm in West Plains. It's the only decent restaurant for miles around, and I mean many miles, like maybe 50. The T of TJ's stands for Tootie, and one night I was there she was dining in her own place with her girls Terri, Cris, Linda, Teresa and Darlene. To me, they all just looked like fun and a swirl of blond hair. They let Randy pick up the check.


dark shadows

The girl sat in the Ramada lobby, glued to pictures of her home on the TV. Her mom tapped on a laptop, trying to set up a new life. The refugees from New Orleans are spreading north into Arkansas and Missouri, filling motels and relatives' rec rooms, sending teachers scrambling for extra school supplies and clothing for kids who have lost everything.
I'm sitting by the pool. I don't call this god's plan. I call this dumb luck.



This is not a classic Pittsburgh bar, though Oceangurl and I went to one of those, too, and the guys in there were nice enough. She talked sports with them, although they were not Red Sox fans. (Look out, Dolores.) No, the bar above, like the neighborhood it's in, is aspirational, Which may have something to do with why Oceangurl feels like a shorebird out of water. You never know, though, it may rub off and she may decide to become a player in the getting-and-spending arena.


lost in the ozarks again

Actually, I'm en route. Spending tonight with Oceangurl in Pittsburgh (truck willing), then hauling ass to Missouri to Labor. Trying to recollect my best Labor Day ever, but can't really remember any. Anybody else still have a brain?