“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.” ~ Hannibal Lecter, Silence of the Lambs

silence of the lambs

 Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs

“Okey Dokey. Here we go.” ~ Hannibal Lecter from Hannibal 

It’s noon on Tuesday. Corey and his Dad have gone to Springfield to pick up the rental car. Apparently, there is a dearth of rental cars anywhere within an 150-mile radius of Lima.

I find this rather odd. Did a convention of oversized men in undersized cars make a run on the rental cars at the Dayton airport? What gives?

So once they return with the Impala, we’ll be on our way, that is, after lunch.

Everything is packed; at least, I think that it is. I’m terrible about leaving things behind. Apparently, I left a pair of shoes at Ann’s last year when I took them off (probably after too many slushy alcohol drinks) and never put them back on.

I must have not needed these shoes as I never even missed them. Anyway, a former friend of mine says that my habitual leaving behind of things is my little way of making sure no one forgets me . . . hmm . . . things that make you say hmm.

Clarice Starling: If you didn’t kill him, then who did, sir?
Hannibal Lecter: Who can say. Best thing for him, really. His therapy was going nowhere. ~ Silence of the Lambs  

Hannibal
From Hannibal

Brett seems to be better today. He is watching strange videos on YouTube and laughing rather insanely. His fever came back during the night, but I think, hope, that it might have broken.

We are all rather loopy. Well, at least Brett, Tillie, and I are rather loopy.

Brett wants his own bed and his XBox. I want a million dollars and no more things to worry about (but I would settle for a thousand dollars and fewer things to worry about this month), and Tillie, well Tillie just wants it to be Tillie time endlessly and forever.

Hannibal Lecter: You will not persuade me with appeals to my intellectual vanity. ~ Red Dragon 

Everyone here has been exceedingly nice and understanding, which makes me feel worse for not being very good company.

But maybe I’m never good company, and I’ve just forgotten about it? Who knows any more.

So we’ll be driving back in a Chevy Impala, unmarked cars for some Staties. I’ve never cared much for Chevy cars and trucks, but I must not put that down in words or I will curse us.

I kind of remind myself of that guy in The Mummy Returns: “This is cursed. That is cursed. Everything is cursed.” Turns out, though, he was right. Everything was cursed.

Hannibal Lecter: “First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature?” ~ Silence of the Lambs 

Speaking of movies (yes, I was speaking of movies), I watched Fracture again last night. It was one of the DVDs that I had brought with me for Corey’s mom to see. I really like that movie: Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling.

Silence of the Lambs poster
Silence of the Lambs Cover

When the boys were younger, they used to be afraid of the cover of Silence of the Lambs. I didn’t know that until they got older and told me.

I have enjoyed all of the Hannibal Lecter movies and books. Hannibal (movie and book) was enjoyable, but I do prefer Jodie Foster as Clarice. Something about her West Virginia accent and her attempts to not show fear make her fear more palpable.

I love Julianne Moore, just not as Clarice Starling. It’s a role that Foster created and owned. It’s just that simple.

But I digress . . .

Hannibal Lecter: Rudeness is an epidemic. ~ Hannibal Rising

We need to get the rental back within 24 hours of picking it up, so we are going to be on a tight schedule.

Let’s everyone burn a shrubbery in the hopes that nothing goes wrong (a shrubbery?)—the Monty Python extended metaphor still applies. In fact, I can think of nothing more apropos to the current situation in which we find ourselves.

red dragon book cover
Book Cover for Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

Corey’s cousin Matt is going to work on the Trooper for us. We do need a new (refurbished) engine. I suppose I will be on my search for the elusive money tree once we return home, not that I have much hope on that front.

At least we will have someone who knows what they are doing working on the car this time. Corey insists that I not call the shop that did the repairs on the Trooper. I’m not sure why he doesn’t want me to do this.

Actually, I think that he thinks that Izzie’s demise is his fault: he ran out of gas and a passerby offered some gas. What Corey didn’t know was that the gas was diesel. Corey is convinced that all of the problems related to Izzie stem from the introduction of diesel into her system.

But what he doesn’t seem to understand is that to my way of thinking, in spite of the diesel, any mechanic who is worth his salt should not take the word of a customer when fixing a car. Once he or she is into the repair, everything that is wrong should be pointed out.

Granted, not everyone wants to know everything that is wrong with their vehicles, but we were laying down a considerable amount on an older vehicle. I would have liked to have made an informed decision. And if we needed to replace the engine, it would have been cheaper to have outlayed the money once instead of twice.

I have no qualms about expressing my unhappiness (no, really?) to the shop that did the repairs. It’s not like we are ever going to take another vehicle there to be fixed.

Whatever. I need to blow off some steam somewhere, and I would prefer that it is in the right direction, aimed squarely at the people who did such shoddy work in the first place.

Hannibal Lecter: People don’t always tell you what they are thinking. They just see to it that you don’t advance in life. ~ Hannibal 

So it turns out that we won’t be driving an Impala because the Hertz place in Springfield did not have a car available. Corey and his dad went to Dayton airport and rented a Buick Enclave. I’m not going to complain. After the horrible car ride that we had coming here, going home in comfort and style sounds incredibly appealing.

We are trying an alternative route home that was recommended by the guy that rented us the Enclave. Apparently, this route is supposed to chop hours off our travel time. The last time we tried an alternate route in an attempt to save time, we ended up on the side of a mountain in the dead of night with little visibility. Harrowing.

silence-of-the-lambs2
Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs

I remember that trip vividly because I was hallucinating from lack of sleep—no exaggeration. I saw a boat in a tree and a chicken leg floating. There were no lights on the road, and it took us an hour and a half to get back to the main road. Corey doesn’t remember these things, or chooses to selectively forget. So if we take this alternate route and end up getting home on Thursday, I am going to be mightily put out. But hey, that’s nothing new either.

When we get home, though, it may be a few days before I can post again. Who knows what awaits us.

I do know that my poor little fat boy Shakes is probably beside himself that I left him at home and took the Lab instead. Eamonn said that Shakes didn’t get out of the front window at all the first day that we were gone.

This could be very bad. If he decides to retaliate, who knows what he may do.

I can hardly wait to get home and see: Eamonn alone for days, the Jack Russells run amok. Wonderful, wonderful.  Or is it, I can’t hardly wait? I always get that confused.

We’ll see. More later. Peace.

Grace in Small Things (continued)

Tillie Close Up Smaller

Princess Tillie Posing for a Picture

 

“As you wish . . .” ~ Westley from The Princess Bride 

“You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.” ~ Miracle Max from The Princess Bride

Miracle Max and Valerie The Princess Bride
Miracle Max & Valeria in The Princess Bride

I haven’t done a Grace in Small Things post in quite a while, so I thought that I might do one tonight. I’m slightly regretting something that I said in my post about emotions: I said that I do not get elated easily. That part is true, but when I began to consider elation in my life, I realized that even though it is not an emotion that comes to me easily, I still find happiness in even the smallest of things—hence, the subject of tonight’s post.

After some pondering, I’ve decided to highlight the following five things that bring me joy:

Vizzini: Jump in after her! 
Inigo Montoya: I can’t swim 
Fezzik: I only dog paddle. 
Vizzini: AGGHH  ~ from The Princess Bride

Shakes Fast Asleep
Shakes Fast Asleep

Number 1:  My dogs’ personalities. Anyone who doesn’t believe that animals can have distinct personalities has never paid much attention to a dog. My Jack Russells have always been full of themselves, but ever since we adopted Tillie the Lab, I’ve noticed even more how much all three dogs differ. For example, Shakes, the mama’s boy, is easily lulled. He insinuates himself as close to my torso as he can get and then turns over on his back. This is a signal that the stomach rubbing should begin. I can put Shakes to sleep in under three minutes if I rub his tummy steadily. Once he falls asleep, his mouth gapes ever so slightly, showing his bottom teeth as he has a distinct underbite. Shakes would be a good candidate for dog braces if there were such a thing. Regardless, once Shakes has fallen asleep, I can stop rubbing his belly, but if he is disturbed, I have to begin the process again. If I do not, I get a head butt to my elbow, which is what happened this morning as I was drinking my first cup of coffee, which I always have while I am still in bed. Needless to say, the butt to my elbow caused coffee to spill on my nightshirt and on the sheets. I was not amused.

King Alfie
King Alfie Atop the Pillows

Alfie is much harder to read. He likes to sleep atop the pillows, more often than not, above Corey’s head. Alfie can be very, very sweet and loving, and then he can turn on a dime and begin to growl. He doesn’ t like to be dried when he comes in from the rain, so I have to coax him by speaking very quietly while simultaneously drying him very quickly. Another of Alfie’s quirks is that if given a treat such as a chewie, he will immediately try to bury it, even if he is in the house. We have found chewies between the couch cushions, under the piano pedals, even in a storage tub. If Alfie buries his treats outside, Shakes will watch him, and then at the first chance, he will unbury Alfie’s treat and claim it as his own.

Tillie is a prima donna. She is quite vocal about many things, and if she is not being paid the attention she feels she deserves, we’ll get a good telling off until someone, usually Corey, stops whatever he is doing and gives her a big hug. Tillie is also very jealous. If Corey comes into the room and begins a conversation with me, Tillie will interrupt. If we happen to be embracing one another, Tillie will bark. However, Tillie is not the least bit aggressive. She is all talk. Tillie also likes to make the bed. If the bed covers are flat, she will stand in the middle of the bed and rake the covers with her paws until they are in the desired shape, and then she will promptly flop down on them. This is why we have removed the hand-stitched quilt that my mother gave us and replaced it with a cheaper, machine-sewn quilt.

I know, we spoil our dogs as much as we do our children, but it’s hard not to as they have such human characteristics.

“I do not mean to pry, but you don’t by any chance happen to have six fingers on your right hand?” ~ Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride

Inigo Montoya The Princess Bride
Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride

Number 2:  Nail polish. Granted, nail polish is not a terribly important thing in the grand scheme of things; however, I love all of the different shades of nail polish. Did you know that there are probably 50 different shades of red, if not more? Some of my favorite reds include Cherry Crush, Woman in Love, I Am Not a Waitress, To Eros is Human, and Bogata Blackberry. Aren’t those names wild?

I wonder who has the job of naming colors . . . That’s something that I think I could do: create catchy names for red nail polish. How about Molten Lava? Or Chili Pepper Passion? Or maybe Devilicious? Scarlet Woman? Okay, so maybe I need to work on it.

“Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.” ~ Westley from The Princess Bride

Westley and Buttercup TPB
Westley & Buttercup in The Princess Bride

Number 3: The poetry of Pablo Neruda. I have to admit that I discovered Neruda later in the game, but I am so glad that I found him. Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto was born in Chile in 1904 and had his first poem published when he was only 13. Neruda was a prolific writer, and almost all of his work is political in nature.  Neruda, an avowed communist, was almost denied the Nobel Prize because of his political beliefs. However, he also wrote some incredibly moving love poems, and it is those of which I am most fond. Regardless of his subject matter, Neruda’s poems are filled with strong images and fine craftsmanship.

From “Lost in the Forest”—

Lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig
and lifted its whisper to my thirsty lips:
maybe it was the voice of the rain crying,
a cracked bell, or a torn heart.

“And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva  . . . ” ~ The Impressive Clergyman from The Princess Bride

Cicada
Cicada on Tree Branch

Number 4: Night Sounds. As I have mentioned, I have problems falling asleep and staying asleep, which means that I am awake at very odd hours. But one of the better things about my odd sleeping habits is that I am often awake to hear all of the sounds in the night. We live fairly close to a marsh, so the sounds of the various inhabitants of the marsh are easy to hear in the nighttime stillness. 

I enjoy hearing the tree frogs chirruping in the evening and early morning, and the toads with their lower pitched chirps are often interspersed, creating an harmonious din. The crickets’ songs are not annoying to me; instead, their sounds right outside my bedroom window are full of life. Occasionally, the sound of cicadas with their incremental buzzing and clicking resonates among the trees. And by 3 a.m., all of the birds begin to awaken: First, the mourning doves with their coos, and then the mocking birds with their various melodies, and sometimes there is even the knocking of a wood pecker, which echoes into the coming dawn.

“Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles . . . ” ~ Grandpa from The Princess Bride 

Number 5: Fairy Tales and Fantasies. It probably comes as no surprise that I love fairy tales, especially since I frequently take my own flights of fancy. But it’s the uncommon fairy tales that enchant me. Disney’s tales of fair maidens being rescued by handsome princes always bothered me. It’s that whole helpless female thing, you know? It wasn’t until Beauty and the Beast that the people at Disney finally came up with a female who was determined and headstrong.

But for me, the best fairy tales are the ones that involve magic and battles and odd creatures, with a pinch of tongue in cheek humor. For example, my favorite fairy tale in movie form is The Princess Bride, hands down. The stable boy turned pirate, André the Giant as Fezzik, Inigo Montoya on his single-minded quest to avenge his father, and Miracle Max (Billy Crystal), whose inclusion among the characters makes a wonderful story into a truly memorable story. Yes, Buttercup needs rescuing, but her captors turned rescuers are anything but stock characters.

Robert DeNiro in Stardust
Robert DeNiro as Captain Shakespeare

And then recently, Corey and I watched Stardust, which I also found immensely enjoyable. Not as good as The Princess Bride, but a good fairy tale nonetheless. Robert DeNiro plays Captain Shakespeare, an in-the-closet pirate who dances the Cancan. Ricky Gervais is a trader in lightning and other dodgy goods; Michelle Pfeiffer plays an ugly old witch (if you can believe that), and Rupert Everett does a turn as one of the dead king’s sons, Secundus. The two lovers are played by Claire Danes and Charlie Cox. The story is based on a Neil Gaiman book (really must read this).

Among the movie’s enticements are magic, treachery, true love, two goats, a glass flower, and a fallen star. And this time, it’s the prince who doesn’t know that he’s a prince who is the clueless one. And bonus points for having Ian McKellan’s sonorous voice as the narrator:

“A philosopher once asked, ‘Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?’ Pointless, really… ‘Do the stars gaze back?’ Now that’s a question.”

And now, I will leave you with the most hilarious scene from Stardust: Captain Shakespeare as a whoopsie:

 

More later. Peace.

“When you feel dog tired at night, it may be because you’ve growled all day long.” ~ Unknown

adventure-dog1 

 Alfie’s Big Adventure

 “Every dog must have his day.” – Jonathan Swift

Alfie’s has his day and leads me around by my nose . . .

dog-in-glassesWhen I finally managed to fall asleep yesterday after my insomnia bout during the night, it was early evening. I spend most of the afternoon with an ice pack on my head because of the migraine that was brought on from fatigue.  Not until the pain subsided was I actually able to fall asleep. Apparently, while I was sound asleep, Corey and Alexis were out searching the neighborhood for Alfie, that little bugger.

Let me rewind the story a bit.

In the forbidden forest that is the side of the yard outside my bedroom, the overgrowth had become scary. I told Corey that I wouldn’t mind the wild look so much if only I could have my pond back (love the sound of the frogs). Then Brett got the idea that he’d like to make a little zen garden. That area of the backyard would be perfect because it actually has a narrow picket fence that divides it from the rest of the yard.

Corey decided to take the weed whacker to the area and cut back a lot of the growth. Now that part is the good part of the enterprise. The bad part of the enterprise involves the smallest dog, Alfie, and the fence.

There is a very small hole in the main fence that encloses that part of the yard from the front yard. We plugged that whole a few years ago, and don’t really have to worry about it because the dogs don’t go into the forbidden forest because of the picket fence: that is, unless Corey forgets to close the fence to the forbidden forest, in which case Alfie, who yearns for adventure, find his way through the fence and out. He then romps and yells “I’m free,” before splitting like a hare (get it, split hair? audible groan? okay, back to the story).

Well, Corey did not notice at first that Alfie had escaped because he was mowing the back yard (the other part that is not the forbidden forest). When he finished mowing, Corey realized what he had not done and began calling Alfie’s name. Then he came into the house and asked if anyone had seen Alfie lately. Big no’s all around. Hence the hunt ensued.

“The dog wags his tail, not for you, but for your bread.” ~ Portuguese Proverb

dog-peanut-butter-jarThey finally gave up around 8:30 after making several routes through the park, where people had seen “the cute, little white dog,” and after Alexis rode through the neighborhood calling out her window: “Alfie. I have chocolate!”).

To explain: Alfie is a chocolate fiend. We know that chocolate is bad for dogs, and we don’t give him chocolate: the little bugger steals it. If for some reason we have forgotten to move the chocolate out of his reach, he steals it and eats it, sometimes wrapper included. I’ll never forget the time that I had gotten some Lindor Truffles, a personal favorite. Well I left some on the nightstand, which is easily within Alfie’s reach, even with his short little legs. Found the Truffle wrappers under the buffet in the dining room and Alfie with a smug look on his face.

Back to the adventure: I called the Norfolk shelter to report him missing and to see if anyone had brought him in or if he had been swooped up by Animal Control, which occasionally patrols the neighborhood looking for strays. An absolutely delightful woman told me that I would have to call back in the morning because they did not release any information unless it was during normal business hours.

“The greater love is a mother’s; then comes a dog’s; then a sweetheart’s.” ~ Polish Proverb

This morning Corey left for school early because they were going out on the water today, and I waited until 9 a.m. to call. The first woman I spoke with asked me to come in and fill out a lost pet report. I explained that I did not have transportation, and asked if she could take the information over the phone. She did but was not terribly happy to do so. About a minute later the phone rang, and a different woman from the shelter told me that she knew that a dog matching Alfie’s description was there, that he had been brought in last night. The fee to pick him up would be $15 for the bordering and $5 for a city license, which we never remember to get at the beginning of the year because or dogs never leave the yard (almost).

dancing-dogsThat fee was contingent upon having a valid rabies shot. Well, Corey is pretty good about keeping the dogs shots up to date, so I assumed that there would be no problem there. I called the vet that we go to and asked the woman if she could fax a copy of Alfie’s rabies’ record to the shelter. She was actually delightful and said that she would be happy to. She looked up Alfie’s record only to find that his shot expired n February. I was very confused because I thought that rabies shots lasted for several years, but apparently, when Alfie and Shakes were vaccinated last year, they were given one-year shots because we could not find records of their previous shots (new vet).

End result: I have to add to the fee for Alfie to get a rabies shot at the clinic next door to the shelter. Great . . .

Amidst all of this telephone calling, I had asked my mother if she could give me a ride to Corey’s school so that I could pick up the truck. After a delightful conversation with her in which I had to reiterate that we didn’t quite have the exorbitant amount of money needed to fix Izzie the Trooper yet, she agreed to take me to get the truck.

So, my mother picks me up and delivers me to the truck, and then she does something really extraordinary and unpredictable: she gives me a check to cover the fees to pick up Alfie from the shelter. Corey had done some heavy lifting for her, and she said that she wanted to give him something. I told her that Corey neither wanted nor expected to be paid when he helped her, but she said that she wanted to do it.  Snotty comment about earlier conversation with mother retracted.

In between all of this (oh yes, more complications), Brett had called and left a message that he needed to be picked up at 3 instead of 2 because he had to stay after school to work on a project. I knew that Corey would probably need to be picked up between 3 and 4 because that’s when the classes have been ending, but there was no way of knowing for sure since they were on the water in the lifeboats today. The shelter closed at 4:30. Timing was going to be tricky.

I rode to the bank at a few minutes after 2 p.m. Went to the gas station down the street since the little monitor that tells you how far you can go before you run out of gas was reading 0 miles. Put in just enough gas to leave me with enough money to pay Alfie’s bail, then decided to make a run for the shelter before picking up Brett. I hightailed it to the shelter which was in a different direction from the school, all the while keeping a lookout for police cars since I didn’t have time to be pulled over for the expired inspection sticker on the truck (different story).

“Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear.” ~ Dave Barry

blonde-brunette-and-redheadMade it to the shelter by 2:32. Made a positive identification of the suspect, who was looking very pitiful (in the meantime, tried very hard not to look at any of the other cages, made of mistake of looking into two or three, and immediately wanted to rescue more dogs who were barking and whining to get my attention). Filled out paperwork while one woman took Alfie next door to the clinic to get his rabies shot.

I had assured the woman that Alfie was small, 10 years old, and would be nice to her as he loves strangers (Alfie never goes psycho on strangers, only the family that he loves). The woman came back five minutes later out of breath—It seems that once Alfie was released from the cage and had his collar put on, he managed to break free and run away from the woman as fast as he could. Luckily, there wasn’t too far to run, but this woman was not a sprinter.

She asked me if I was sure that Alfie was 10. I assured her that he was indeed not a puppy but apologized that he was also very fast, a fact that I hadn’t taken into consideration when I was describing the culprit to her.

Alfie comes around the corner and is beyond happy. I fold all of the papers that return him to my custody, pick up Alfie, and head to the truck, whereupon Alfie immediately becomes the Energizer Bunny and wants to simultaneously jump on me, look out the window, help me drive, claw at my arm, and whine. He is not a good bye bye dog, so he doesn’t get in the vehicles very often. Time is now 2:45, and I am on my way to school to pick up Brett, which is approximately 15 minutes away if a take the interstate.

While I’m driving the speed limit, by the way, Alfie manages to crawl behind my neck at one point, wrapping the leash that I have wrapped around my hand, around my neck. I free myself with one hand while maintaining my steering power with the other hand. Alfie is not at all interested in listening to the voice of reason. Somewhere in my subconscious I have a feeling that there is going to be a train at the railroad tracks that I have to cross to get to Brett’s school if I take the usual exit off the interstate. I decide to chance it and arrive at the school at exactly 3 p.m.

“A house without either a cat or a dog is the house of a scoundrel.” ~ Portuguese Proverb

happy-dogAlfie immediately becomes Brett’s best friend, and I am finally allowed to drive. We turn down Little Creek Road and as I approach the train tracks, we hear the train coming. I cross the tracks, and within two seconds, the arms come down blocking the tracks. Brett and I just look at each other, and I tell him that I knew that the train was coming.

We make it home; everyone (meaning Eamonn, Tillie, and Shakes) is happy to see Alfie, except probably Shakes. My phone rings, and it’s Corey asking me to pick him up. It’s 3:57. Once more into the fray . . .

By the way, Alfie is comfortably asleep on Corey’s pillow at the moment, but the first thing that he did when I let him out in the backyard was to run to the fence of the forbidden (although not so forboding anymore) forest. Obviously he was not at all humbled by his adventure.

More later. Peace.