Cedar Square West, West Bank

The Water Feature repairmen returned. In parkas. It does not bode well when the gentlemen trying to fix a leak are dressed for a polar expedition.

Snow is expected tonight, and that’s fine; this is the time of the year when the world is bare and exhausted. Snow is the cure. Or the first shovelful on the coffin lid, if you like. Depends. I look forward to Christmas, even though that seems remote at the moment. I sprayed some cranberry-pine scent on the aforementioned potpourri, and it felt as though I was violating the Aroma Protocols; this is still pumpkin-and-apple scent season, with some allowances made for roasting-bird scents. Pine is permissible only after Thanksgiving. I expect a summons.

At least I can make Christmas as I choose; at least it’s not freighted down with so many conflicting emotions. I’m not going home to the same place to sit in the same chair with the tree in the same spot, all the years piled up in the room, invisible, leaning forward as if they have something to say, or something they expect to hear. As much as I regretted my father selling the ancestral home, I’m glad he did.

I’ve been staring out the window here for half an hour; came up to write a column over a cup of coffee. Wrote the column quickly, then put on the “Cal” and “Local Hero” soundtracks by Mark Knopfler, and if ever there’s music to make a man stare out at the grey sky and cast his mind back twenty years, it’s that.

Well, I have nothing to say, obviously. Later.


Picked Gnat up from school, went to the grocery store. She found a friend from school – amazing! The coincidence! The sheer wonder of it all! They discussed macaroni with great earnestness, exchanging notes on brand preferences like scientists having a hallway chat at a conference. Very charming. Meanwhile I chose the pasta sauce - a thousand reds, but only a few white sauces. I tend to think there is more variety in the Alfredo genre than the wholesalers let on. You have one with garlic, one with “sun-dried tomatoes,” and one with “four cheeses,” as though the palate can detect the subtle give-and-take between a mild cheese given to whispers, and a strenuously honking parmesan. I got the basic Alfredo with no embellishments, and since I didn’t feel like dealing with raw chicken I bought two bags of pre-cut, pre-cooked, pre-seasoned chicken. Upon arriving home I discovered they were also pre-rotten. The aroma that flowed from the bag was chickenesque, but wrong. The dog balked: no boss, no. No. Sorry. And this is a dog who’ll eat his own offal. I put it aside, got out the emergency batch of frozen meatballs, switched to a red sauce, and dinner was on.

Afterwards I called the grocery store. Mister Civic Duty here. “Yes, I bought some pre-packaged chicken tonight, and both bags were off. I mean, off. I thought I should warn you.”

“Okay!” said the manager. “Thanks. I’ll go take it off the shelves.”

“Wait – don’t you want to know what it was?”

“You said it was pre-packaged chicken.”

“Yes, but – I mean, you have a lot of it. All over. It was in the refrigerated aisle, south side, top shelf, the Louis Rich brand, red package, Italian variety, expiration December 2005.”

“Okay! You said it was in the frozen aisle?”

“No – the refrigerated aisle.”

“Oh, the refrigerated aisle.”

“South side. Price point of $3.39.”

“Okay! Thanks. And the next time you’re in, you can, uh –“

“I saved the receipt. Anyway, not a problem, just wanted to warn you.” Mister Civic Duty over and out.

For once I wished the call had been monitored for quality assurance. Or even training sessions.

But of course:
Spent the night on the Newhouse column, waiting for snow. So that’s my day. Too busy writing elsewhere to deliver you a quality product here, so I’ll end with a few links.

Heard of the Oak Island Treasure, mate? I first read the story in a Bantam paperback that collected peculiar tales of the Unknown, and even though the whole pirate / buried booty thing does little for me, I love the engineering mysteries of this story, and the crusades of the individuals who become obsessed with it. Of course, it has its own domain.

This bus would be better if a bloody jumble of fake limbs tumbled out each time the doors opened.

Nice little computer-animated ad. All that money, all that imagination, all that ingenuity, and I not only don’t want one, I don’t even quite know what it is. Note to marketers: calling your new technology “Wobulation” sounds like you were smoking joints as thick as wrapping-paper tubes.

Interesting poster collection. Goal: raise money for Hurricane Katrina victims. How long does it take before the project devolves into juvenile politics? The answer may surprise you! (Note: the 6th poster used to be the second. They switched the order around, it seems. Number six may have alienated a few. I have no idea why.)

Shame Cam! Shame on Bloomberg! Shame on everyone who does not love this wretched slab of useless marble! Watch its desecration! Shame!

And with that, I leave you to your Tuesday. I expect to wake to snow. I’m prepared: lots of quilts, and gallons of pine spray.