Snapshots from Eldredge

The life and writings of TJ Alexian


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Operation: Moth balls

mothballs

Back to work yesterday. Ugh. And last night’s problem: tackling some cheeky chipmunks.

It all started about a week ago, when I decided I wanted to really make a consistent effort to fill up the bird feeders around Green Victoria. I don’t know why the thought popped into my head. I just wanted to. I’m just that kind of person. Occasionally thoughtful.

We have one feeder that is located right by the archway leading into our yard. The very day after I filled it, I noticed that most of the seed was missing and there were a ton of empty shells around the feeder. It looked like the end of the night at the local saloon.

“Hmmm.” I said to myself. “I doubt the birds are THAT hungry. Even if I haven’t filled that thing up for about a year.”

So, I kept my eagle eye out. And soon enough, I realized that there were an awful lot of squirrels and chipmunks visiting that particular tree. Aha!

Duly warned, I went to the old Stop and Grab and bought bird seed that birds like, but squirrels and chipmunks detest because it has cayenne pepper sprinkled in. Take that, mammals with bland appetites! I filled that bird feeder up to the rim with caliente.

The next morning, I walked out of the house. Damn tricky mammals. The fuckers had somehow managed to scoop through all the seeds in the birdcage to find the ones they like, grabbed those, and dumped all the cayenne-covered seeds onto the ground. The cads!

But we’ve kept up with the hot seeds, and the past few days, I’ve noticed that the birdseed level has gone back to normal. So either the squirels and chipmonks have moved on and accepted that this feeder is muy muy caliente or the birds are finally full.

Although perhaps the bird feeder problem has resolved, the whole experience uncovered another problem. You see, everywhere I turn since then, I’ve been encountering chipmunks these days around the hallowed grounds of Green Victoria.

No, seriously. In the trees. Scurrying underfoot. I open the door in the morning to let Kyra pee and she goes scampering after something, instantly. Crawling out of my cereal ball when I pour milk into my Rice Crispies. Those little guys sure hate that Snap Crackle and Pop!

(Note: maybe one of those examples is a lie. I leave it up to you to guess which one.)

I’d say I’ve gone a bit nuts, but Corb’s noticed it too.Last evening Corb decided to do something about it. Project Mothballs has begun.

“I read that chipmunks don’t like the smell of moth balls,” explained Corb as we hunted around the grocery store. Where do they keep moth balls, anyways?

“Are you sure you didn’t misread it?” I asked. “Maybe they actually don’t like the smell of meatballs.”

“Silly Ted. That’s only Italian chipmunks,” replied Corb. “No, what we need to do is to wrap up some moth balls in cheesecloth and throw them around the outside of the house. Around the foundation, in any holes you see. The smell is supposed to keep the little pests away.”

“The smell makes me want to run away,” I complained to Corb as we were wrapping up the moth balls later in the kitchen that evening. “I mean, I like the smell of mothballs in little old lady’s drawers, but this is too much.”

Corb frowned at me. “I always suspected that about you,..” Yeah, I am a regular Nathan Lane in Little Old Lady land. Lick me. Touch me.

“Isn’t this going to make the whole place smell like moth balls?” I asked Corb as we started tossing the little bags into nooks and crannies around the house. “Isn’t it bad enough we have an old Victorian? Isn’t this going to make it seem really old?”

“Shut up and throw,” he replied. Ah, who am I kidding? I just followed him around and made wiseass comments.

So, that’s been our life the past week. Chasing the chipmunks. Forget about Pokemon Go! We’ve got a different kind of wildlife to capture. Or at least, release. First we had deer, then flying squirrels, now this. Sometimes I’m not sure if I own a home or a wildlife sanctuary.

Maybe a combination of both.


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The Great Piano Roll

So, Corbie has a new obsession. Old upright pianos.

Oh no, he doesn’t want to learn to play them. He wants to refurbish them. He wants to take one and turn it into something along the lines of this:

Cool idea, right? Try putting it into practice. This week-end, we embarked upon our task: the acquisition of our first upright piano. Finding one was pretty easy, because it turns out, there are a lot of folks with upright pianos out there just dying to give them away for free, if you’ll go and takem them off their hands. Seriously! Check it out on Craigslist if you don’t believe me. These things take up room and are really, really heavy.

Corb, naturally, chose the piano farthest from where we lived, out in West Cranberrybutt, Cape Cod. The guy who had it admitted it was out of tune and didn’t work, which Corb liked because among his other choices were pianos that had recently been tuned and worked perfectly. He doesn’t have the heart to destroy a perfectly working piano. Also, he thought it had the best design overall, with some of those old Roman columns for legs and at the top.

The guy we were getting it from also admitted that the piano had been in his wife’s family since she was a child and she was heartbroken to see it leave. “Not that she knows how to play it,” he said. “She’s gone this afternoon. When she comes back and sees it missing, she’s going to break down and cry.”

We got our first taste of what a bear this was going to be getting it out of his house. Even with the truck pulled all the way up to the front steps, it still took four guys (me, Corb, the owner, and what appeared to be the owner’s gay lover) a bit of effort to get the piano into the hitch Corb had rented. I must admit, this made me a little nervous, because I knew that at Green Victoria, there was no way we were pulling the truck up to our front porch. No, we had a long driveway and then a lovely stone path to contend with, which was picturesque, but going to make life a living hell.

But that was a challenge for another hour. At that time, we simply bolted up the piano and drove back to Eldredge.

“So, any ideas how to do this?” I asked Corb, once we arrived home.

Corb clutched at his blond hair. “I’m thinking, I’m thinking.”

The first part was the easiest. Get it off the hitch and onto the small dolly Corb had purchased to help it roll better. That got us to the edge of the driveway and right next to the picturesque crushed stone walkway. How to move it forward? The dolly was going to get in a whole mess of trouble if we moved it any further.

Believe it or not, I was the one who had the bright idea. Me! I remembered reading about how the ancient Egyptians were able to move heavy stones to create the pyramids, and thought the principal might work in this case. “Why not grab the plankwood we have in the backyard and place them over the stones? That will give the dolly something to roll over.”

Corb was a little skeptical. But it turns out, I was actually right!

I will admit, we had one really rough patch. Rolling uphill and at a curve was a real challenge, and the planks started to break at one point, forcing us to buy a few more. Plus, one of the dolly wheels started to bend back, after the first hour. But by the end of the day, right before the drag show was about to begin, we had the piano right by the front porch. And now we had a new challenge:THREE LITTLE STEPS.

This turned out to be a challenge that was insurmountable for two whole days. Turns out, the two of us are incapable of lifting the heavy piano up the stairs to the front porch. We tried everything: trying to tip it on its side, purchasing ropes and pulleys. We even bought this strap-on thing that looked more like a sexual device than a means of moving the piano. It didn’t work at all. We called some movers, but they wanted at least $200 for what was sure to be a five minute job. That seems ridiculous. FInally, we managed to get our bud Hot Coco to come over with her man friend and help us lift it over those three little steps. The price was only cost the purchase of her Chinese take-out that night.

And there it sits. I am not sure when Corb will get to it next. I am sure it will used as a prop for our annual Halloween party. Maybe we can even put speakers next to it and have it play spooky music. But in any event, the next great refurbishing adventure has begun at Green Victoria. Hopefully, we will survive it!


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Soaked.

old lady

“You aren’t REALLY going to put that bowl in the sink with all that milk left, are you?”

I stopped my forward movement to the kitchen and glanced down at my ceral bowl. Then over at Corb, sitting on his favorite green cushiony chair in the living room.

Hmmm. Did I plan to place my cereal bowl into the sink? Yes, in fact, I was. All the cereally goodness had been removed and what was left were a few random soggy flakes, along with milk that had gone through the cereal cycle. Hell no, I had no intention of finishing off the rest of THAT.

“Would it be a problem if I did?”

Corb made his most stern, serious face. “Yes. I know how much milk you have left in that bowl. That’s a total waste. You get right back here and drink down that milk.”

Well, that’s nothing short of amazing. “How do you know how much milk is left in this bowl?”

“I saw how much milk you wasted yesterday.”

What? How could…? And then, in a second, it dawned on me. A memory from childhood. I turned to Corb, a look of horror on my face.

“You’re turning into my Nana Hall!”

It’s true. She was on old cranky Yankee, her descendants came over on the Mayflower. Her great-grandfather was a Fairbanks. A Fairbanks, dammit! She detested waste, in any shape and form. And one of the things I vividly remember her freaking out about: cereal bowls and milk.

I’ll never forget that day. I was six years old. It was a total Mommie Dearest moment. She was looking after me at my parent’s Brady-style raised ranch. As I left the kitchen table in my mini midnight blue velour leisure suit (that’s what all kids wore in the early seventies, you see), I could hear a voice behind me say,

“You’re not done with those Cheerios yet, Teddy.”

What? I turned around. She stood there with a very very stern look on her face, arms crossed.

I glanced down at the bowl. “But the Cheerios are all soggy, Nana.”

“WE DO NOT WASTE FOOD LIKE THAT!” she snapped. “YOU WILL SIT THERE AND FINISH YOUR CEREAL OR I WILL SAVE IT AND YOU WILL EAT IT FOR LUNCH!”

(At least, in my mind she said it that way. All in caps, that is.)

Well, we struggled for hours over that. At lunchtime, sure enough, that offensive bowl of Cheerio crud was sitting there at my lunch plate. I couldn’t wait for my parents to get home that night.

And now, after all these years, she’s back again. Corb has become my Nana Hall. A ghost of Christmas past, exhorting me to drink my cereal milk. A specter from all those years ago.

And that’s when I snapped, your honor. He brought back memories of a childhood trauma and I had no choice but to kill him, don’t you see? Oh, I know some people will tell me I may have gone a little overboard. That the punishment didn’t fit the crime/ But it was either that or be forced to drink that god-damn sloggy bowl of cereal! And after all these years, I couldn’t let my Nana Hall win. IT WAS EITHER HIM OR ME!

Transcript ends at this point. We hope Ted is quite content in the asylum for the criminal insane he has been taken to. Details on the funeral arrangements for Corb, his beloved but cereal-soaked partner, will be announced forthwith.


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Not-so-fast food

Pluto

“Did you see what I posted on your wall today? Did you? Did you, huh?”

I grinned and dug into my plate of unhealthy-as-hell but most delicious nachos that had been placed before me. We were at our favorite local dining establishment, our version of Luke’s place. And I knew immediately that the Corbster was referring to the “fake science” photo he had posted to my wall, which combined my obsession this past week around the Pluto New Horizons mission and Corb’s perpetual obsession with everything Arby’s.

As soon as I was done munching: “Yes, I saw your thing about Pluto and Arby’s.” After a long slurp of diet Coke: “That seems like a really inconvenient drive.”

Corb beamed, his enthusiasm for Arby’s rekindled. “I’d totally do it. It would be so worth it! Arby’s!”

“A nine year trip in a tin can for an Arby’s burger?” I wrinkled my nose and shuddered. “That sounds like absolute hell. I’d be so claustrophobic, watching my life spin away, stuck in a tiny little space. If I left Earth at 21, I’d be 39 by the time I arrived home. No burger is worth that.”

“Sign me up!” Ah, Corb is so lovely when he gets on these tangents. “That would be awesome!” And with that, he swooped in to steal one of my nachos.

“Seriously?” I frowned. “I think maybe I could last a year in space. But after twenty years, it would feel like I’d been buried alive.”

Corb clicked his heels with glee. “They’d give you way more room than a coffin! You’d be in a big Space station. I would totally do it. I wish I could do it right now!”

“Well, okay, but don’t think I’m going to leave the front light on for you if you go. Twenty years is a really long time to wait.”

“I’d bring back fries!”

Hmmm. They might be a little cold by the time he returned.

“Maybe if you brought back a beef and cheddar roast beef sandwich,” I replied.


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B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Interview with T.J. Alexian

Layered Pages

Ted Mitchell BRAG

I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree T.J. Alexian to talk with me today about his book. T.J. lives in Attleboro, Massachusetts in a renovated green Victorian, along with seven ghosts and his long-time (and long-suffering) partner. He also has three kids and one spiritual kid, and their stories and their spirit form the heart and soul of his novel, Pictures of You. A profiled author in the Writer’s Digest book Writer with a Day Job and an award-winning communications specialist, Pictures of You is Alexian’s first novel, although he has two more being prepared for distribution: The Late Night Show and Confessions of a Diva Rotundo.

Hello, T.J.! Thank you for chatting with me today about your B.R.A.G. Medallion book, Pictures of you. Tell me how you discovered indieBRAG.

Thanks, Stephanie! It’s great chatting with you. I discovered indieBRAG while reading the manuscript of another BRAG-nominated author. It…

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A Writer’s Life with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree T.J. Alexian

Layered Pages

Ted Mitchell BRAG

I’d like to welcome back B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree T.J. Alexian to talk with me a little about his writing. T.J. lives in Attleboro, Massachusetts in a renovated green Victorian, along with seven ghosts and his long-time (and long-suffering) partner. He also has three kids and one spiritual kid, and their stories and their spirit form the heart and soul of his novel, Pictures of You. A profiled author in the Writer’s Digest book Writer with a Day Job and an award-winning communications specialist, Pictures of You is Alexian’s first novel, although he has two more being prepared for distribution: The Late Night Show and Confessions of a Diva Rotundo.

T.J., Why do you write?

Compulsion? Insomnia? Not enough love as a child?

That all may be true, but I can’t think of a better release to have. I’ve always felt that people who love to write possess the ability to…

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