Sans le Nom: Cookery, Rhetoric, and Other Forms of Pandering

"Now I call this sort of thing pandering, and I declare that it is dishonorable."Plato

"When a name comes, it immediately says more than the name." —Derrida

May 27, 2008:  12:22 A.M.

Things you can do during a bout of insomnia:

Google "grease collection" to discover why, oh why, the junior college next door has arranged to have its grease collected very noisily every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m.  I have found no explanation, but it must be de rigueur because all grease trucks are equipped with powerful floodlights.  

Check on the next door neighbor, who is also an insomniac, to see what he's up to.  Washing dishes. 

Wake your overweight cat several times because she's snoring.  Google "cats and sleep apnea."

Walk around in the house in the dark, peering out the windows to see if there are any shady characters lurking about.  Only one.  Me.  Google "starting a neighborhood watch association."

Count the number of times the train rolls through town in one hour:  approximately three. 

Try to derive an average for the number of times at night someone with a thumping car stereo system drives close enough to your house to rattle the windows:  the average is two.  Then, wonder when they'll all convert to IPod's so they can go quietly deaf without disturbing the rest of us.

Check on the neighbor again to see what he's up to now.  Damn, he's gone to bed.  Google "insomnia competition."  Express regret that one is only for filmmakers and the other is held in Luxembourg.

Pull a blanket over you.  Throw the blanket off.  Add a pillow.  Subtract a pillow.  Repeat endlessly. 

Realize what a terrible mistake it was to think, nearing the end of a P.D. James mystery novel, that reading a chapter in bed with a flashlight would help you go to sleep.  "Just one more chapter, and I'll be able to figure out who did it." 

Fall asleep at 5:00 a.m., one hour before your husband gets out of bed. 

May 22, 2008:  Things That Go Bark in the Day

   Oh, poor wittle sqwirrel.  He's all tuckered out. 

Click on the thumbnail picture above to see a bigger shot. 

Cute, huh?

Meh. Not so much.  

You see, this squirrel is pooped because he sat on that same branch for three solid days barking at my kitchen windows not ten feet away.  Incessantly.  INCESSANTLY!  I politely shooed him away several times throughout the three-day ordeal.  But, on one occasion, I risked a trip to the insane asylum by charging outside in my bathrobe to hurl curses and rocks at him only to notice my neighbor standing out in his yard, staring at me, with his cell phone up to his ear. 

Dear God, I don't want to imagine how that conversation must have gone.

The little bugger (the squirrel, not the neighbor) ran his usual route back to his nest in the sycamore next door (yes, they do have miniature highways mapped out among the limbs, surely, complete with street names).  But, after a too brief respite, he came back again to continue his barking rampage. And on it went.  And on and on and on. 

Ad freaking nauseam. 

The doves, cardinals, rabbits, and even his pals, who are usually picking at the sunflower seeds and millet I throw on the ground, managed to ignore him.  Until he decided he didn't appreciate being ignored and darted down from his perch and chased them all away, cackling the whole time.  Once they were all gone, he climbed back up to yawp, yawp, yawp some more.  

So, the other morning, when I saw him straddled over the branch with this hang-dog expression, I decided I'd take a picture of him—you know, as a memento of our precious time together.  I went outside to get a few snaps, and in my haste to catch him before he got scared and ran off, I forgot the flash was on, which is why he has a wall-eye in this picture. 

And I'll be damned! 

I discovered that, as in the cheesy 1973 made-for-TV horror flick Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, (which had this major sort of iconic impact on my impressionable six-year-old self) flash photography is, apparently, THE way to fend off annoying pests:  Barky the Tree Rat hasn't been back since I took the picture. Or, at least, he's learned to play nice and be quiet.

For the time being, anyway. 

*shaking my index finger* Don't make me use my camera, Barky!

Sheesh.  I really am going to end up in an insane asylum. 

May 14, 2008:  Let's Root for the Home Team

I've been spring cleaning, so I've been moving a lot of furniture around and doing a lot of repair work, etc.  I'm normally kind of klutzy, but at the injury rate I've achieved so far, I'm worried my team will end up at the bottom of the rankings this season:

  • Door jamb 1, Jennifer's face 0
  • Floating book shelves 2, Jennifer's foot 0
  • Edge of the closet door 5, Jennifer's back 0
  • Plastic cup 1, Jennifer's toes 0 (seriously, it REALLY hurt)
  • Grill grate 1, Jennifer's shin 0

*sigh* So much for the home field advantage.  Maybe I should start stretching before I clean house?  

May 13, 2008: Remembrance of Things Past

First graders always had the early lunch, 11:00 a.m., at my elementary school.  I remember going through the cafetorium line, single-file, with my tray and picking up one plastic container (cold lunch stuff) and one foil container (hot lunch stuff) while the hairnetted lunch ladies dressed all in white smiled and looked on.  In those days, I thought Johnny Marzetti was haute cuisine.   

E gad. 

Since we had the early lunch, my teacher, Mrs. Cain, who was as bald as an egg and wore a wig and cat-eye glasses, arranged for us to have half a graham cracker and one of those half-pint paper containers of ice cold milk every afternoon—so we could concentrate on staying in our seats learning.  The mothers were in charge of taking turns to make sure the snack was delivered each week, and God bless the moms who provided CINNAMON (!) graham crackers because nothing could send this six year old into the throes of prepubescent ecstasy like CINNAMON (!) graham crackers. 

I would see the box sitting on the sunny counter in our classroom and smack my lips just thinking about that lovely CINNAMON (!) and sugar coated cracker that would soon snap crisply against my teeth, followed by a creamy glug of frosty milk.  I remember begging my mother to please, pretty please, pretty please with maple syrup on it, buy me some of those special CINNAMON (!) graham crackers, but she never would. 

Probably because she knew she would find me asleep in the cupboard still clutching the empty box. 

(Tangent: I was a precocious kid.  One time, probably when I was in kindergarten, I got up in the middle of the night (without my mother's knowledge, of course) and baked a cake.  I used the pie pan and a mix from my Easy Bake Oven…except I put it in the regular oven to cook…probably set to 500 degrees so it would hurry up.  All for naught, because I kept opening the door to see if the cake was done, thus letting out all the heat.  Growing increasingly impatient, I decided to take a nap while it finished baking.  Well, you know how THAT goes.  My mom wasn't too happy the next morning when the entire house had the pleasant aroma of a charred and now fossilized Easy Bake cake.  I never saw the Easy Bake or its accessories again.  End Tangent.)


This memory invaded my brain at 5:00 this morning.  And I thought, "You haven't had a CINNAMON (!) graham cracker since 1st grade.  What have you been waiting for?"  So I showered and ran to the store. 

And this afternoon, I polished off half a CINNAMON (!) graham cracker. 

It was every bit as good as I remember.  Maybe even better. 

May 12, 2008:  Top Ten Things I'm Tired Of

10. Ordering flowers for Mother's Day only to have the order screwed up for the umpteenth year in a row.  (Sorry, Mom!)
9. Waking up at strange times (1:23, 2:31, 4:56, 5:55) and dreading the new day. 
(I suppose I'll know real dread when I wake up one morning at 6:66). 
8. Looking for my keys EVERY morning. 
7. Not having anything to eat.  Week 2.  I've been too busy to go to the store. 
6. Bumping into things because I'm always in a hurry and don't have time to pay attention.
5. The bruises that come with bumping into things because I'm in a hurry...yada, yada, blah. 
4. Not having any paper towels.  See #7 above.
3. Parties.  Introvert Self kicked Extrovert Self out (see you in the fall, Extrovert Self!), and my liver wants a break. 
2. Interminable Meetings.   And they're all interminable.
1. Tornadoes.  Somebody, please, make them stop.   

I'm ready for the unbearable (but stable) heat that will drive everyone indoors so I can have some peace and quiet.  I'm ready for long days filled with trying to find something to do.  For not needing to know where my keys are.  For leisurely grocery shopping. 

I'm READY for summer.

Now, where is it?

May 5, 2008:  The Morning Routine

5:50:  The alarm rings.  Not the radio alarm but the loud, whiny, beeping alarm.  It goes on for at least 30 seconds, which doesn't seem like a long time...unless you're the one still trying to sleep.  Several buttons later, it stops.  Then, stomp, stomp, stomp.  Creeaaak.  Note to self:  Fix the door.  SLAM!  Stomp, stomp, stomp. 

An audible yawn, "Aaargh."  The cupboard doors are thrown open with a flourish.  A bowl is banged down on the counter.  The cupboard doors close with a thud.  Some muffled movement.  The light in the fridge comes on. 

Blink, blink, blink. 

The milk has been in the same spot since we bought the refrigerator seven years ago. 

Blink, blink, blink. 


Same spot. 

Blink, blink, blink. 


Blink, blink, blink.

Finally, the fridge makes that crunchy sort of pneumatic sound when it closes.  Oh, and then it's opened again.  And then it closes again.  Stomp, stomp, stomp.  Sneeze.  Muffled movement.  A spoon is cracked repeatedly against the bottom of the brown-glazed pottery bowl:  "Hull Ovenproof," chew, chew, chew, "Hull Ovenproof," chew, chew, chew,  "Hull Ovenproof," chew, chew, chew.  Audible yawn.  Sneeze.  Serious, prolonged throat clearing coincides with chewing—sounds like LOLCats eating:  "Nom, nom, nom, nom."   

More serious throat clearing. "Nom, nom, nom, nom, nom."

Even more serious throat clearing. "Nom, nom, nom, nom, nom."

6:30:  Stomp, stomp, stomp.  Now comes the drawer dance:   A drawer rolls open.  A drawer rolls closed.  A drawer rolls open.  A drawer rolls closed.  A drawer rolls open.  A drawer rolls closed.  A drawer rolls open.  A drawer rolls closed.  Water pours into the sink basin.  A scritching, scritching, scritching sound.  (Some beard!)  Then, the water gurgles out.  A light spray of water hits the back of the shower.  Lather, rinse, repeat.     

6:50:  Stomp, stomp, stomp.  An audible yawn.  Throat clearing.  The cupboard doors are thrown open with a flourish.  The cupboard doors close with a thud.  A drawer rolls open.  A drawer rolls closed.  A drawer rolls open.  A drawer rolls closed.  The light in the fridge comes on.  Blink, blink, blink.  The refrigerator crunches closed. 

7:15:  By now, I have moved from the bedroom to my study.  Keys tapping in here.  Throat clearing in there.  A sandwich bag rustles.  Keys tapping.  Stomp, stomp, stomp. 

A head appears in the doorway.  "Well, I guess I'm going."

I look over.  "Well, have a good day and don't work too hard." 


"And be careful driving." 

"Okay, gotta go."  Stomp, stomp, stomp.  The back door scratches open against the linoleum floor. Note to self:  fix the door.  It shuts.  The lock clicks. 


And tomorrow it will be the same thing all over again. 

Thank God.

Happy 40th, Zen!

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About Me
I teach; cook; write; hike; read; dally; canoe; eat; write; rock 'n roll; eat some more; tumble and fall; dawdle; complain; bento; write; organize; watch movies; ignore e-mail;  renovate; write; curse computers; brew my tea dark and bitter; herd cats; live in Arkansas; Plato, Derrida, and rhetoric (yes, those are verbs); remain overly cautious; persuade; imbibe; GTD; and oh, yeah, I write a little. 

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All images and text copyright © 2004-2008 by Jennifer Deering.  All rights reserved.
E-mail me at sanslenom at msn dot com.

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