Bath Lore

Okay, I know there’s a reason we have “drains” at the front of bathtubs.  To keep water from overflowing and making a mess.  Unfortunately, there’s no way to override this safety feature.  And the bathtubs in this country as a default really don’t serve adult size bodies very well.  They’re too shallow.

I suppose this is to allow easy step-in and step-out, or maybe to make crawling out easier in case one is overwhelmed by the hot water.  But then why not just make all bathtubs shower stalls instead?  It’s a middle of the road compromise that makes for a pretty shoddy generic bath experience.

I mean, if the average bathtub were even a few inches deeper it would make all the difference.  Part of the pleasure of civilized immersion is in the knowledge that one is, without a doubt, securely doused.

Yes, yes, one can always do a workaround or purchase for themselves a more suitable arrangement.  I’m well aware of that.  Why, imagine, one could very easily just drive to some facility somewhere and partake of their options.  What a truly advanced civilization we are!

My point is, we’re talking about the default, absolute minimum you can expect.  You can always buy yourself a plastic cover for the front drainage area, but if the bathtub has a textured surface this won’t work.  One is forced, as always, to use advanced technology suitable to the undeveloped situation at hand.

The washcloth.

Jam that confounded cloth into the drainage holes and you will get some measure of improvement in the situation.  Although, as I have noticed, some bathtubs are plus or minus a few inches.  One cannot pretend to be a pleased crocodile with eyes and nostrils peering above the water for tasty ideas to crop up in one’s saurian brain if one does not have a satisfactory illusion propping up one’s suspension of disbelief.

I’ve got a technique to maintain here people!

However, there’s a second potential fly in the soup to consider.  How powerful the water heater is.  There’s the pathetic half-size heaters in many apartments that barely give you a decent shower, let alone allow you a solidly hot and full bathtub.

Then there are the “almost there” heaters that seem to choke on the last 10% of the amount required.  Scalding hot water comes out cool within moments, and if you aren’t paying attention you’ve got ice cubes in your hot tea, so to speak.  What a major rip off!

There was one good thing about the haunted house.  The downstairs bathtub had a decent volume, it was one the same level as the heater, so no loss of amount on its way up the pipes to reach you.  The water never failed to be perfectly hot and satisfying.

As long as I was willing to ignore the third light bulb of four flickering on and off at random moments, the door with no doorknob (just a big hole for ghosts to peer through), and the thought that only a drywall separated me and the Chucky doll in the spooky basement—why I could regularly have an awesome experience!

It really is like trying to put together an alchemical experiment at times.

021_monster.jpgNo sooner have I got the Goob-a-loo settled in, when the next monster jumpdoggy surprise arrives. Causing no small amount of trouble is an infestation of anxiety-causing mineraloid entities from the depths of inner space and they want major amounts of psychic juice! And they’re willing to put down roots in your brainpan to get it.

For a while I have to fend these micronic high-density critters off with a couple of whacks from the slapstick. The next thing I know my car is about to blow a tire and I’m getting fleeced by the most charming mechanic this side of rip-offs town. Yeah, in this dire economy boo-hoo down in whosville it’s a laugh riot getting money vacuumed out of the ducat interface, but may as well laugh at my own lack of sleight of hand self-defense.

Speaking of which, I show up for my first kung fu lesson with Mother Mary and I get one of her short duration personal assistants. Said assistant proceeds to show me how sadly out of shape I’m in and how not in tune with fundamentals I am. No special maneuvers, awesome skillz, or fabulous finishing moves for me. Going to be all blue Mondays for a while.

Not that I’ve forgotten the music quest, but man does that new U2 song suck eggs. Depression +1 as the critters cackle at me on the other side of the barricaded door. Oh, what am I cryin’ about? Sooner or later that UFO Girl soundtrack clue will pay off. In the meantime, I have to deal with these critters or I’m going to find all sorts of lack in the mental cupboards.

Speaking of which, where did all my bath bombs, bath salts and luxury soaps go? Oh crumbs, everything’s turned upside down at the haunted house in real time. All that reorganization and now I’ve misplaced the usual bath meditation tools. Just when I need to escape the crazy doom knocking at my closet door while I hide. No worries – break out the hard-core incense that got dug out of the back rows and estate sale cheapo cool dude 50’s candles and I’m in my own little steam bath retreat. Maybe now I can think.

Frankie Day is today, Friday the 13th. That means trouble galore from the depths of mischievousness. I’m going to have to make sure Frankie gets a long walkies and tour of the folks house (she loves that), to celebrate her discovery and rescue from the dumpster by K and I. The next day is VD day, so K and I are going to have to do the Devil’s Children thing and be anti-romantic. Browsing for good manga at the comic store, followed by a hot date at Burger King. Maybe we’ll have an angry whopper and get down with our saucy selves.

What strikes me is that there’s physical stuff going on all over the place. Time to get grounded and find out what’s amping up the psychic electric juice to jittery whackaloon levels. I’m going to have to find a place to plant these droll dumplings, before they get to the meltdown level. The carpet’s got enough issues as it is. The next step must be to go through the haunted house and find a suitable place, lure the dang varmints over, and take care of business.

If only it were as easy as it sounds.

Earlier, I mentioned that cleanliness is the secret weapon. Now is the time to avail myself of that superzapper to clear out the destructoids not taken out by the New Year reset button.

I wake up from a comfortable sleep full of dreams about Bigfoot studies and mountain retreats. I give myself a relaxed, easy shave and a nice hot shower. A fresh set of clean clothes and a dash of tropical rainforest aftershave to make me feel like a million bucks. My mindset is rooted deeply in the quiet, contemplative emptiness of a new day.

Next up comes a full and hearty brunch (my favorite meal of the day) for K and I. I cook up a helping of turkey bacon, fried eggs easy up with lots of pepper, hash brown patties (with an extra for K because she loves hash browns), and toast with butter and blackberry jam from K’s delicious homemade bread (she’s getting quite good with bread now, after having read Yakitate for inspiration).

Frankie comes by for a pet. She looks out the window and meows at me. I take her up in my arms and we have a walk around the neighborhood. She is well-behaved, paws calmly digging into my sweatshirt as we take in the cool air in the light of the bright sun. Then it’s back to finish up the cooking.

K and I have brunch and revel in the comfort and satisfaction of a shared meal together. The food tastes delicious. Frankie munches on her dried salmon treats, Blink washes herself in her lambskin and wooly tower, and michael the ratbag pigpen snowbeast sleeps at the top of the stairs on an empty laundry bag.

Next up: chores. K vacuums while I do dishes. Frankie comes by and watches me clean dishes in the sink, enthralled as always by the running water and the steam. She grows sleepy and climbs into her crow’s nest by the fridge, joining Blink and Michael in slumber.

I clean out the fridge, then get a pizza dough started for Pizza of Doom. I mix up some rum punch for a shin-dig with the parental units tomorrow (though there’s plenty for sampling later). The punch forms easily, the flavor masking the strong alcohol with just the right amount of flair.

K decides to join the cats and sleeps on the couch. I tuck her in with Jeero the ani-pal and she passes out. It’s a lazy day after all, and one needs one’s strength.

I put the last of the suitable holiday cookies and cakes out for the squirrels. They show up within minutes and clean out the lot – in a half hour there’s nothing left. Feeding the animals gives me a warm feeling.

While I wait for the dough to rise, I sit at my special spot next to the stairs and gather my materials. In particular I contemplate the photograph of a willow loaned to me by the Incorrigible Witch Hexe witchiepoo of the many ovens.

I go over in my mental containers the experience of her two collage booklets (a term which fails to do justice to what they actually are, but needs must make do when the Devil drives), and how they relate to something in my book. I never would have thought I’d encounter a living example of concepts I only imagined in my head.

Then there are the “last request” Koh-I-Noor woodless colour pencils she gave me. I examine my poster board sketches and imagine what the next step might be.


Frankie has knocked the box of hot cocoa powder from the counter to the floor of the kitchen. I come over and pet her, giving her lavish and deep voiced praise. She settles down and cat loafs on the counter in cat thought. I stand beside her and space out, the two of us keeping each other company.

All is calm, all is sunlight reflected brilliantly off the beautiful, cold nature slumbering in a half-sleep drowsiness outside.

Frankie and I, in each other’s company, silently existing one for the other in nameless ways while the house sleeps. She and I watchful, guarding, alert, and openhearted to the being and becoming oneself.

A half hour passes in this manner. Frankie moves softly then, leaping down to the floor and off to her crow’s nest to snooze once more. I remain, watching the day change slowly into the muted orange glow of sunset followed by the bluish gray shadows of twilight. The dough has risen, and it is time to make tonight’s nourishment.

An inspiration strikes me and I decide to try something new with the Pizza of Doom recipe. I’m pleased because I know I’m making just enough, no more. As I roll out the dough, my brain buzzes with troubles “I should” be worried about, but they melt in contact with how I’m floating through my dreamy, alert witnessing.

The pizza comes perilously close to melting down like a reactor. I lack panic; I adjust the oven and let it ease down gently, until it comes out complete and delicious. I sense that K is hungry and ready to wake, so I stir her with a mere touch.

She grabs a slice and starts surfing the net as if she’s always done this. One by one the cats activate, going for their bowls of food. They eat small amounts and are remarkably polite with each other. I chomp down on a slice and savor the experience.

All is well.

In garden news, the potatoes are coming up nicely. The tomatoes need a lot of care, so it’s touch and go with them. Onions and chives are on target. The lettuce, contrary to last year, is being really difficult. It looks like it might surge forward soon. I hope so, it’s been a long spring.

The basil croaked, which really surprised me. The other herbs are doing well and spreading rapidly. I’m psyched because our cooking gets so much mileage now out of them, and we now know the power of saving herbs for later in the winter. The garden is teeming with earthworms, which it wasn’t last year. I guess word has gotten around that this plot is active.

K and I have a huge amount of plants in moss packets ready to plant, hopefully this will start the serious attack of garden goodness. Oh yes, and we have a new blue hose with a purple multi spray attachment that rocks the mike. Our major challenge this year is keeping the weeds, which have mounted a massive attack on all fronts. My back is killing me, and the thistles ruined my gloves, requiring me to get a fresh pair. Sheesh!

Frankie has taken to bullying Blink, the older and weaker female cat. It’s gotten to the point where Blink is always hiding and skulking about, and it’s driving K and myself up the wall. In all other ways Frankie is a honeybear, but when she doesn’t get her way (such as wanting to get a walkies outside and we say no because the landscapers sprayed the grass with pesticide today), she acts out on Blink.

We’re really not happy with our vets. We took Frankie in for a respiratory infection, and they decided to give her the latest round of shots because we hadn’t been in to update them. This was in addition to the antibiotics they prescribed. Now, we hate giving Frankie her shots because she becomes weak and sad for three days, and it’s heartbreaking to watch. So for them to give her the shots before we could protest, when she was already feeling crummy because of an infection. Well, the vets are on my poop list. I’m going to go empty my wallet somewhere else. Frankie hid under the bed and sulked for days, and it made me mad.

On the bath front, my aunt gave me an awesome array of bath salts from Pretty Baby, and some cool dude bath bombs from Lush. Alas, I’ve used up the gift boxes and I emptied out my main store of goods the other day. Not having the requisite ability to meditate my cares into valuable cash and prizes at a certain level is of course, intolerable. But understandable, since my stress levels have been off the wall the last month and a half.

Actually, I have a whole stash of bath bombs I’ve been holding onto for karmic reasons, which I’ve been unable to touch. The victims I’ve planned these for will no doubt benefit, but for me it means lean times. So K and I made a brief run and I picked up some more of my faves. There’s this pine-volcanic gravel bomb that does the trick nicely, and I’ve been jonesin’ to make use of that kind again. Stimulates my brainstem nicely, and I’m glad to have it back.

Picked up the third Age of Bronze, titled “Betrayal Part One”. It’s as good as always, and I read through it so quickly it’s sad. The Trojan War is finally starting to heat up, as both sides start to maneuver their pieces into position, while the personal stories of the characters continue to develop in interesting ways.

Of particular interest to me is the diplomatic mission to Troy to regain Helen and avert the war, where several people reveal their character in really cool ways. I never get tired of Odysseus’s trickery, and I have to say Palamede’s honesty is starting to win me over. Paris’s cowardice, arrogance and treachery are really going too far. Troy is doomed.

K has been getting the hiking bug, and after a long search she finally found a pair of boots she could deal with. REI had nothing but high priced, weird and poorly manufactured junk. That surprised me. LL Bean just didn’t pass the muster. So we hit the local Ranger Surplus, because I needed a new pair of jungle boots and a new pair of fatigues. K was skeptical, but she found exactly what she was looking for there. Durable, support, reasonably priced, and not made cheaply.

I swear by my army boots and fatigues. My old desert storm boots and fatigues have been slowly falling apart this last year, despite my best efforts to milk them further. I’ve worn the fatigues for twenty-one years, and the boots for eleven. The service, when it comes to the basics, knows how to make long-lasting, hardy equipment and that’s no joke.

The boots breathe and stand up to anything while giving you support and protection. The fatigues cover your legs with cool/warm air as necessary, and they protect you from terrain, foliage and insects like nobody’s business. Plus the pockets are awesome. I’ve carried empty beer bottles in all four at the 9:30 Club, saving my friends and me the hassle of throwing them out while the music is raging. It’s good to have a new set. I feel it’s appropriate, in a way, with the way my life is going.

Looking for the proper alchemical ingredients for my watery meditations takes time and effort.  You can always get a “do-fer” at the local supermarket, but there’s a certain sludge factor or an automation residue on those items that reduces their level from “goodies” to “products”.  You have to stay clean to get the sanitation bonus to your life, and in this modern industrial death culture often it’s all you can do to stay supplied.  Do I have the Leonardo’s Workshop of niceties?  No, but I can still dream, and in the meantime here’s what I like.  It being the holiday greed season and stress-out ordeal, I figure it can’t hurt to give people some ideas.

I really dig Pretty Baby Soap goodies.  The soaps have a nice array of smells and appealing, muted colors.  The price is right, the size and shape are perfect, and they give off a good “soft” vibe.  But don’t be fooled.  These soaps are  made of hard-working material.  I get a lot of mileage out of the soaps, and that’s where the craft in them shines.  I never feel ripped off, even if I try something and it doesn’t work out.  I also really dig the herbal bath salts baggies you can drop in the tub and get an instant pump up.  This family has been doing their thing for a while, and it shows.

If it’s flashy colors, vibrant sensations, and kooky smells then I go for Lush.  These things are the unstable isotopes of my bathing world.  They do just about every kind of cleanser, face mask, shampoo bar, bubble bath, and skin gel you can imagine.  For both guys and gals.  The materials melt easily, and don’t hold up for very long, but what a ride.  The prices are expensive, so this is luxury stuff.  They put forward a no-animal testing mantra, which is cool.  The bath bombs work the best for me, little balls of stuff that fizz and crackle in the tub as they release their magic in the water.  I don’t go for the ones with all the glitter and confetti in them, I try to stick with the more mundane selection.

If you really want to go to the people and get involved with the forgotten corners of personal craft, then Etsy is the way to go.  You can discover all sorts of people with nifty skill sets making beautiful, wonderful soap items.  Plus, you are supporting the creative front line in the alchemical supply process.  These sorts of small time handicrafters have some rough edges that can be pleasantly surprising, making your collection of available materials pump up to the next level.  Why does soap have to even be in a formed shape at all?  The smell, color, and ingredients can have any sort of pungent, weird, or tactile quality you want it too.

I could go into more detail, but I want to save some of the joy of discovery for your own efforts.  “There be treasures in that forest,” so get kraken!  Sometimes all you need is a map of ideas.

Talk about doomsville city at the garden. We had a frost finally in late October, after having a record hot month. The majority of plants left all seem to have taken a major blow. Even the weeds are getting nervous. The bees are gone, and the general insect population seems to have cleared out. The birds are still around, but not to the degree they were a month ago. K and I were busy scavenging up what we could in the way of herbs, but hoo boy it was brutal out there in the trenches.

Tomatoes go bye-bye. The only thing left is the lettuce, which we harvested gratefully and had a small salad with our dinner, hooray! Pretty soon it’ll be time to dig up the horseradish, I can’t wait! Unfortunately, half my seeds haven’t dried out right, and have grown horrible molds. Still, not bad for my first try. I harvested the last of the basil, and some oregano for a Pizza of Doom I’m making for work. But it looks like the garden goodies have hit the bed and are passing out of time and space until next time folks.

Since it’s Halloweenie, I need my costume. I dug into my enormous bookshelf of tricks and pulled out a 1976 copy of Make-Up Monsters by Marcia Lynn Cox. Oh, I gots ideas galore thanks to this book. Hopefully, with the make-up stuff I have acquired, things will come out neat. Some of these, I haven’t tried out since I went trick or treating with my cousins or my elementary school friends. Oh yes, and I scored a pumpkin, though I’m guessing I’ll be my usual unskilled self and create a rather mundane jack-o-lantern. I don’t know. I just haven’t got the right touch for doing a pumpkin right. Maybe I need a kung fu master to show me what I’m missing. And of course the bowl is filled with candy for the screaming brats. Hopefully K won’t eat all the Mr. Goodbars.

My friend, Dr. C, called me up the other day and we rapped about what he’s been up to. I’m totally psyched for him to be doing what he’s doing. He’s been busting his buns through med school and his residency, and now he’s finally at the point where the powering up starts. Basically, he’s getting to write his own ticket for the hospital he’s going to be working at, and he’ll be living in a fabulous area for his family (and dog). I’m very happy for him, because there were some times where his life was pretty bleak and I was very worried for him.

That brings up another old friend from way back, someone whom I haven’t spoken with in a long time and only hear of through the astrosending, but I was thinking about a lot in the last week. Mainly in the terms of some spiritual connections we made back in the day, which still resonate with me now. Looks like she’ll be getting a website soon, which I’ll shamelessly plug here, but it’s not up yet. So get kraken, Xtine!

Going even further in the wayback machine on YouTube, I found someone posted a copy of The Frog Prince, with Kermit the Frog and Robin the Brave, plus Sweetums the Ogre before he was made safe for work consumption. Oh, wow, this takes me back a ways. I had this on vinyl, along with many other records, and played it often as a kid. But now it’s unavailable on DVD, and only rarely can you catch it on cable (when I was still mooching off my folks). That’s a shame, because the musical numbers are fantastic, and the story itself is both charming and wholesome. I still have the record, but it’s in rough shape. I’d love to get my paws on this one. Still, to see it on YouTube brings me to a deep place inside full of happy feelings and warm thoughts.

This weekend Lush came out with some new products, so K hinted that we ought to go to the nearest store and check them out. Since I was out of bath bombs and shampoo bars, I thought today is the day we replenish our ammunition or perish. Pricey luxury stuff, but its on my top list of bath goodies so we had to go. I stocked up on my usual array of nice things and she got herself some hair treatment prizes. K then proceeded to cut her hair, change it into a nice cerise color, and pamper it with wonderful hair-treatment goodness. Me, I’m set for the next alchemical treatment. I started using a new flavor of shampoo bar and so far its got good value. I was getting annoyed with the generic soup du jour of shampoo you can get at any supermarket, anywhere in crumbsville.

And I worked on my book. I finally decided on a teaser page to show you all. One that doesn’t reveal too much, but gives some good thoughts on what I’m about. I just have to turn it into a PDF and post it, which given the Halloweenie whackiness, might be a few days. I’m 70% through the revisions, so I’m getting closer to my current goal. I’ve accumulated a list of things that will have to be addressed in the polish stage, but I think most of it is minor work. It may be that my work will have only just begun after I finish my revisions, but it’s a major goal just the same. I’m still considering my cover. What color it will be, what the picture and text will consist of, and the spine. I’m not satisfied with my notes, so I predict I’ll have to spend more time on this when I’m not distracted.

I hung out with my gamer friends, and it was a blast. We watched the unimaginably horrible Universal Soldier: The Return and had a lot of fun mocking it. The game we played was a nice little gem called Arkham Horror, which is based on the H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu mythos. In a nutshell, it’s the 1930s, and alien horrors are coming into the town of Arkham as precursors to the outright monster apocalypse of a randomly generated Elder God of Evil. Players take the part of archetypes from the era (Flapper, Gangster, Archaeologist, etc.) and try to gain the knowledge and power to kill the monsters and defeat the ultimate bad monster before the town is destroyed.

It’s one of those games with tokens for every single thing in the game, and it’s a long game, but the mechanics seemed solid and the setting was hard not to get into. Everyone cooperates to stop the monsters instead of competing against each other. And the artwork and production values are very high. It was a blast walking around with my researcher and checking out all the various spooky places for clues and fighting off ghouls and alien fungi with my pistols.

I’ve been trying to record my dreams this October, but something about them has not wanted to be put down on paper. The messages from the unconscious haven’t wanted any photographs taken at their press conference, I suppose. As the Celtic New Year draws to a close, I’ve got a lot to ruminate on from this last year. A lot has happened, both in the external world and the internal.

I’m a bath person. It’s something of a spiritual observance for me, so I take my enjoyment of it seriously. It’s all about the psychic decontamination and decompression procedures. You pick up a lot of radiation out there among the road mutants, and the general scrum of existence needs to be regularly soaked out, like a form of toxic waste.

At a minimum, I’ve got to have candles, incense or bath salts, and preferably all three. No interruptions to my mental space are allowed. The cats get the boot and all lines are busy! Preferably, the bath has access to lots and lots of hot water – about 35% scalding and 65% uncomfortably hot. Nothing’s worse than a hot-soon-to-be-tepid tub. Yeagh!

Ideally, the tub should have a good amount of depth. Shallow bathtubs just don’t cut the mustard. Those crazy overflow drains they have under the faucets are the bane of my bath-existence. Stopping the flow of water is priority one, if I’m going to get any depth out of the average tub. I have a plastic contraption that fits over them, but it only works on smooth surface models. Usually I have to rely on a washcloth jammed neatly into the holes.

When I was in Japan, I made it a point to travel to as many bathhouses as I could, and I got to see the masters at work. Sitting in a stone bath with a view from the 34th floor of the Tokyo skyline gives you an idea of how far the decadence can go. Then there was that hot spring up in the hills, far from the beaten gaijin track.  I don’t think I need the supersaturated, volcanic mineral water that technically was boiling for my pipe dream, but it’s nice to see what kind of optional widgets you could put in the mix.

I go on estate sales, and one of the fun parts is the exploration of the house and seeing how the layout unfolds. I keep an eye out for interesting bathroom constructions, and I’ve seen a few cool ideas now and then. My favorite had to be the townhouse where the former occupant had completely renovated the top floor around a huge master bathroom built to specification. There was no denying the woman took her bath time seriously, and had achieved some measure of that pipe dream.

We’re out there. The bath people. Performing our personal, alchemical ceremonies – but to what purpose? Are we modern day warriors purifying ourselves in the fight against barbarism?