Saturday, July 31, 2010

Apple Picking Time

Kipper went for a walk this morning, dragging me behind him holding onto a cord we laughingly call a lead. Actually when he goes for a walk it’s more like going for a sniff because he keeps his nose squarely down towards the ground to gather as much information as possible usually missing rabbits and squirrels he could bark and bolt after. We don’t go very far any more because he’s ailing and I don’t want him to die or anything on his walk. It was lovely in the park today, not too hot (why I took the hairy beast out) just the perfect mid-summer morning. Along the way I noticed two women picking peaches from a tree. We were spared a late freeze and the sunny hot summer we’ve had has been good to the fruit trees. I stopped and asked if the squirrels had spared any. They laughed and said there were plenty offering me a couple. Unfortunately, the peaches were picked too early, hard as a rock but I said thanks and offered some of our apples. Our tree is loaded with them and I managed to pick about a dozen or so of the small and sweet fruit. They aren’t firm and sour enough for an apple pie but perfect for apple butter and sauce. The lady who belonged to the peach tree declined the offer but the other woman who was also just out for a walk was intrigued and finally after a short conversation about apple sauce and butter recipes she took me up on my offer promising to stop by tomorrow morning for a bag of apples. I hope there are some left because the squirrels manage to knock off and take small bites out of at least--I exaggerate not--one hundred or so a day. Another reason why squirrels are my backyard nemesis those nasty little buggers take one bite out of these lovely pieces of fruit and then drop them, going on to the next. Wasteful. I suppose if I were depending on my tree for dried fruit next winter I would painstakingly cut around the squirrel bites but instead I just work on my softball pitch over the fence so the raccoons can enjoy them. It’s a daily task to keep hornets at bay so I’m getting quite the arm if I say so myself.

I hope hilarity doesn’t ensue when I’m up on the ladder this afternoon picking apples for my new friend Helen.

Friday, July 30, 2010

My Holy Grail

image found here

I’ve been on a mission for the last few years to find the perfect white pasta bowl. Somehow they have eluded me and all I can find are bowls either too big or too small or too deep or too shallow. One of the worst specimens has a picture of some sort of Mario Brother’s character in the bottom of the bowl and he has a finger in the air to indicate you have just finished a big bowl of pasta. Gee thanks, I would have never known pasta is an Italian meal! Who knew!! But the most ridiculous bowls are the ones which actually have the word “Pasta” written in the bottom of the bowl. Just so I know EXACTLY what I should eat in those bowls. Better yet, the bowls tell me what I have eaten in case I didn’t realize I was eating pasta or had forgotten I had eaten pasta. Ok, given my behavior over the last day or so having a visual cue might help me a little with the whole memory thing.

The perfect bowl is a little shallow, too shallow to slurp soup or milk but not shallow it would be confused with a plate. It must be exactly soft white. Not cream, not yellow or green or puce. It must be completely free of any embellishment: no cute little olives or jaunty blue stripes or dots or squiggles in the bottom of the bowl or along the top or on the rim. Speaking of rims, the ultimate bowl possesses a lovely rim around it. A rim just big enough for a small garnish of basil or a tiny mound of grated parmesan or red pepper flakes. The rim makes the bowl easy to handle, not too hot on the hands when it’s full of yummy hot pasta.

I’ve looked everywhere for these bowls: from garage sales, Goodwill to Pottery Barn and Neimans. I finally found them last week and they have been deemed Bolognese worthy. Angels sang as I put my hands on them and picked them and examined them at eye level. Turning them around and checking for the perfect heft. They were the most perfect speciman I had found and in my price range. The only thing missing is the rim. For six bucks a bowl, I can live with that.

Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket and maybe I’ll find this pair of boots under my under my pillow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Lesson In A Smile

I’m not sure who I had living in my heart yesterday but she was not walking a path of peace and loving kindness. You see this doddering fat older man with an overflowing cart of crap he didn’t need cut me off as I was going to be the very next person in the line behind someone with only three items. I was all “Score!” and chest bumping myself because I had also found a great parking place near the front doors and was able to finagle the big boat van into it without a lot of parking and reparking. I found everything I needed easily without any questioning prices or comparisions and I stayed on task the whole way through so when this guy obliviously toddled in front of me and it harshed my whole mellow. I needed that mellow because almost up until that point, I had spent the afternoon nagging my sons to just do their chores and stop whining about it. In fact, the drama surrounding the dishwasher and light cleaning duties were why I was being so pushy because I stopped at the store on my way to a little celebration at the salt mines and stood every chance of being late.

So I got stuck behind this guy who probably didn’t have a life because why would some one wear ratty looking sweat pants in 90 degree heat with beat up old shower shoes and why else would anyone move that slow unless they didn’t have someplace to go. Like me. I had somewhere to go. Of course all my tappy-footed fuming and glaring at him through my sunglasses thinking all sorts of uncharitable thoughts about how rude he was to just walk in front of me without noticing I had fewer items. And how dare he miss the fact I was moving quickly because my life is much more important and meaningful than his so I should be allowed to go ahead of him. Finally, I was obviously dressed for something other than a trip to Walmart. Because, really? If I wear a fancy blouse and silk cigarette pants to shop at Walmart, I must be worse off than he is… And then my uncharitable voice went for the passive-aggressive and I called one of my coworkers and told her in a very loud voice I would be late because the lines at the store were really long and someone was rude enough to cut in front of me. The cashier looked over at me when I was talking to my friend, just a quick glance, probably noticing my cart wasn’t terribly full and no doubt noticing my impatient demeanor and automatically bracing herself for an abrupt and rude customer.

When this man finally finished his transaction, dithering over his change and receipt and then pausing to exchange pleasantries with the cashier it was my turn and the clock in my head stopped ticking: goingtobelategoingtobelategoingtobelate. I could breathe a little easier and it was my turn. I looked up at the cashier noticing her beautiful smile and a warm spirit radiating through it. I was suddenly swept up in her quiet energy and felt myself further slow down and a spontaneous genuine smile spread across my face. smile and not a polite return-of-the-smile smile. I noticed her name was a lovely old fashioned name you don’t see very often and asked if she went by the shortened version or the long version. She told me she didn’t like the shortened version very much and pronounced it slowly making it even prettier. Grace went by another name yesterday and it was Beatrice.

After I slithered back to the car, thoroughly ashamed of my childish behavior. Murmering a little prayer of “Sorry I’m such an asshat God. Can you help me?“ I switched on the radio. A song was playing which described how someone had been lost and doing bad things discovered grace and his life was turned around and away from that person he had been before. The way this guy described his life he had been a pretty bad guy, not just suffering from a momentary lapse of human kindness. It made me remember I can moment by moment change my heart and my outlook. I also realized grace doesn’t have to be gigantic or have long term life changing repricutions, and no matter how big or small, the moment just after I have been transformed by God’s grace I am shiny like a baby just out of a bath. A baby who usually runs out of the bath and within five minutes or so is besmirched with the grim of day to day living as a human being.

Thank you Beatrice, I needed this wake up call. Yesterday was hardly the worst day of my life but it wasn’t terribly easy either. The lesson in your smile will be what I remember and not my petty disappointments.

Mrs. Forgetful Strikes Again

I just spent 15 minutes looking for my coffee. Good thing stuff like this doesn't scare me or send me running to the doctor for an MRI and some of that medicine I give people who are know the name of it...yeah, that stuff...begins with an A...never mind, I'll think of it later.

Anyhow, I'm not worried because I've always been forgetful. When I was a kid it was because I had my "head in the clouds". When I was a youngER woman it was because I was sleep deprived. One of Ms A's kids nicknamed me Mrs. Forgetful one afternoon I kept missing a turn into a parking lot at Chuckie Cheese. He kept chanting: "Mrs. Forgetful Strikes Again!" each time I missed the entrance to the stupid pizza place. That was more divine interverntion than cognitive deficit so I didn't have to be exposed to the weird plushies and bad pizza. But I digress...

Aricept…yeah that’s it.

What was I writing about? Oh yeah, being forgetful. The other day I couldn't remember how to perform a simple math operation involving decimal points and percentages. That's just sad. Especially since I remembered Forgetful Jones was forgetting his horse Buster before I even reviewed the video. And I know all the words to "I Think I Love You" and "Brandy".

Which leads me on this tangent; I wonder what it's going to be like in nursing homes when everyone there grew up not on the rowdy sounds of Glenn Miller's swing music but rather Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird".

Will I be the old woman in the back of the day room, pantomime lighter hoisted high in the air, swaying back and forth to music only I can hear, chanting the battle cry of 1978? "Freebird! Freebird"

God I hope so.

Monday, July 26, 2010

This Is What Happens When June Leaves The House

I thought this weekend was going to be awesome and I was right. Friday night I went out with three of my co-workers, it was just so SATC with the lemon drop cocktails, high heels and hot outfits. But we are way more interesting than Carrie and friends. Our new mom friend, E rounded up a few of us for drinks because: “I never go anywhere anymore unless it’s work and I‘m sick of staying at home.”

If you wanted to play the SATC name game you could call her Miranda. She resembles Miranda in that she’s tallish with chin length hair and has a uterus. But E is funny and without the bitter and markedly un-funny brittleness of Miranda. She’s also about a million and ten times more interesting than Miranda. E also really loves her boyfriend and doesn’t treat him like crap. It helps her Boy is more Aiden than Steve.

M. “Our Lady Of The Bouncy Ponytail” came a little late but was very much present before she got there. She is like Charlotte physically: gamine, cute and smart. A lot smarter than Charlotte. M just read a book with the title--I kid you not--Why Men Love Bitches to try and understand why her boyfriend started having meltdowns about her “rushing” him into marriage. She reely admits (but not too much) she isn't sure she wants to marry him and she knows she isn’t ready to get married. Cute, gamine, smart but not desperate like Charlotte. \So far the advice in the book has worked because M’s Boy has simmered the Hell down and has become the boy she was dating six months ago.

So before anyone starts thinking…I’m thinking of myself as the Bushnell character…stop…take a breath and look next to Carrie. I’m her weird little gay boyfriend with the big glasses and the bright suits. Total misfit with these babes. They keep me around because I'm funny. Or at least think I'm hilarious.

Last but certainly not least, there’s our MILF friend (she had a co-starring role in a blog last summer) Uh…huh…she is Samantha but this time Samantha landed Mr. Big. Our S actually funny and doesn’t pose or speak in smirky pronouncements that pretend to be biting when really they are yawn inducing. She’s also one of the most generous and down to earth women I know. Our Samantha is the real deal. S is also a new gramma at the ripe old age of 45 and proud to be The Hot Gramma. And boy howdy, she won’t let you forget she’s The Hot Gramma. S has probably the most perfectly augmented breasts I’ve ever seen in real life (IN HER CLOTHING…OMG I work with this woman!! Gawd, get your minds’ out of the gutter!) But we did almost get a full frontal of them, given the cut of her extremely cut top. When we met outside of the restaurant, I gave her a hug and confessed.

“So don’t hate me if I forget to look you in the eye, because damn…your breasts? Sort of hard to miss.”

“Oh don’t worry about it, I paid enough for them I want people to look at ’em. Why I have ’em!”

E joins us, gives both of us hugs and says,” S those are some breasts you’ve got there!”

“I told her that I was going to have a hard time looking her in the eye.”

“June, I’m going to have a hard time looking her in the eye! And girls have never really occurred to me as an option!” Clearly, E was already mesmerized by The Breasts, too.

Later after a couple of yummy Lemon drop Martinis we are seated and had met our waiter we were left on our own to muse about this young man who was incredibly monotone and a bit shall we say…stiff?

“June did you notice how when we gave him our order he didn’t even look at us but stared at S’s breasts?”

I narrowed my eyes and smiled an evil grin: “I did notice that. I wonder if he will look at us at all.”

“But Oh my gawd, he was so boring, he needs to you know…LOOSEN UP! Yay!! I mean talk to us, be friendly. Have a conversation with us!” S let go with one of her patent party girl moves that never fails to make me laugh even during the weirdest moments at work.

You can only imagine what happened over the next few hours, every time we called him to the table, S would bend over just a little bit and lean forward. Every time she did this patented Pin Up Girl move he would stammer and his affect would become even more flat. We had made an unspoken pact with one another to mess with this kid.

We acted like complete Mean Girls and squealing with laughter every time he took he and his discomfort away from the table with yet another drink order and sushi request. And after an hour of waiter torture M joined us. When she sat down with us, I thought this waiter was either going to have a seizure or run away crying like a scared little girl because M isn’t just pretty, she is Hollywood pretty. Luminous comes to mind when you see her. Not only is she pretty and smart but she reads people like Lady Cleo on the psychic network so after ordering her drink she turned to S and pointedly said:

“Dude, he is totally NOT looking at your face. You knew that didn’t you? I mean has he stopped looking at your boobs, at all?”

We all squealed with laughter again but while I was laughing I sort of felt sorry for him because I think he was hypnotized by her boobs and was in some kind of Tata induced trance which rendered him speechless. Or at least I hoped that’s what it was because if it wasn’t.

Dude was boring.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mrs. Kravitz

I was deadheading the salvia today when I remembered a conversation I had with one of my neighbors a month or so ago We had been home for about four days, I was still unsure what time zone I was in much less what day of the week it was so I was a little rough around the edges from the jet lag. The flowers had bolted while we were gone and were close to their peak even before we left for our trip in early June. While we had been away the weather had been too hot too fast especially in the south bed. My salvia was spent, the big pink showy things that threaten to take over each year were done, and the dianthuses bordering the front walk were done, too. Rather than let them go to seed naturally, like I would in late August, I gave them all drastic haircuts murmuring little prayers that I wasn’t killing the plants and they would bloom again before next May or June. I’m crouched down in my perennials, surrounded by the hum of bees, enjoying a hot dry morning when I hear a familiar but not entirely welcome voice from the public path adjacent to our south yard. Our neighbor, Mrs. Kravitz and her husband George, were walking their elderly and fat golden retriever.

“Oh your flowers were so pretty! Why are you doing that to them” Mrs. K said, her voice dripping with judgment because that’s how she always sounds.

“So they bloom again. They bolted while we were away, just like my radishes and salad greens. Too hot too fast this year.” I looked up at her squinting against the sunlight and really wishing I didn’t have to be nice to this woman.

“Are you sure about that? I’ve never heard of Salvia coming back.” I swear I could hear her tongue click against her teeth. She couldn’t stand The Girl and I and really wanted to see us fail at this whole redoing a distressed house thing because we are the scourge of the earth and everything Jesus hates. Whenever she sees us her disappointment that we are gay and not just like her family radiates through her hypocritical eyes and threatens to beat us over the head. I wish I could say I can’t stand this woman but really what I feel for her is beyond the emotion of hatred. I feel sadness she is so incredibly intolerant of us not only because we are queer but because we are democrats and we are not Catholic. That’s a lot of criteria we fall short in. She is a Christian in bigots clothing. During election season, they had an anti-reproductive rights campaign sign in their yard and she approached our next door neighbor and told C she was going to hell if C didn’t vote yes on this particular referendum. (I never got a chance to ask her how many babies they were going to adopt…) A couple of months later Mrs. K rushed over to C’s house and was terribly upset she might sell it to “that homosexual couple who were looking at it last week.” When C told me about this, I saw red. The following Sunday was the open house and how I wished I knew a bunch of drag queens and really Nelly queens so I could round them up for a tour of the house. The evil fantasy of squealing over dressed drag queens tripping up the front walk made me cackle like an evil genius. A couple of years ago, she and George refused to go to their across the street neighbor’s wake because he died an AIDS related death. And they pointedly said this is why they weren’t going. They can barely bring themselves to speak to me when I‘m outside and I always without fail give them a cheery hello, trying to take the high road. Because someday I’m going to get a chance to tell her about the Jesus I know who believes in loving your neighbor. But the icing on the cake was definitely last month when she stood on my property dispensing gardening advice and her yard is a boring mess of weeds and petunias. All of this flashed though my mind as I looked up at her, praying God would speak through me and silence Edgy June Cleaver.

Isn’t it wonderful we are gifted with filters and the ability to speak internally because this is what Evil June said before nice June spoke up:

Actually you stupid judgmental woman, I’m not sure if they will bloom or not because all I know about gardening is what I learned from a handful of magazine articles and gardening last summer. So you know what? If I’m wrong you can come over here and tell me just how wrong I am, which I’m sure you won’t hesitate doing. So now just move along with your self-righteous self and feel assured you are the perfect specimen of human

“Mrs. Kravitz, it’s going to be interesting to see if they come back isn’t it? These are all perennials so my guess is they will be back bigger and better in a week or so. You and George have a nice day.” I beamed at her as I turned back to my work willing her to disappear.

It’s been tempting the last couple of weeks to make her a big bouquet of Salvia and just lay it on her doorstep as a neighborly gesture of good will. It was also tempting to ask if we could borrow their extremely gay rainbow paper party ball thingy I can see from the street in their garage. It would have been nice to hang on our porch this June 28th to celebrate the 41st anniversary of the beginning of The Gay Rights Movement.

But I didn’t. Maybe next year if it’s still in their garage and I’ll even give her a bundle of salvia in return for the loan.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Eat Pray Love My Ass

(image taken from the World Market Explore website, I refuse to link it keep reading and you'll know why)

I dropped into Cost Plus World Market today and Eat Pray Love greeted me at the door. It seems that Elizabeth-fucking-Gilbert has completely sold out while jumping the shark. There’s a picture of Julia Roberts as our plucky and adventurous but albeit heartbroken hero all set to explore Italy, India and Bali. And a big sign about taking a look at the Eat Pray Love shop!!! And it really makes me mad. I mean irrationally stabby. Like I was so mad I left the store and forgot my purchases, mad. Gilbert’s nickname at the ashram was well earned: “Groceries” given to her by a well meaning fellow pilgrim who did not return to the US to sell out. Her nickname was funny in India because she was always hungry but now it’s fitting because obviously she’s still perpetually hungry for more more MORE! MORE MONEY! MORE MEDIA ATTENTION!!!

What pisses me off most about Groceries is not that she is another Oprah enterprise or she sold the rights to her book as a film or is now shilling crap made in Malaysia, Italy and India under the guise of “folk art” but rather she is reducing the spiritual aspects of her journey. Everyone from her Master in New York to that woman entrepreneur in Bali (I hate this book so much I refuse to look up the name of this character because god forbid Groceries gets another hit through Google or Wiki) is now reduced to a cash enterprise for her. The way she is exploiting them, their own spiritual journeys and experiences make me sick. It’s like Judas selling out Jesus with a kiss for a gold coin. I really do wonder how her Master and those people at the ashram feel about her. I hope they shun her for the money grubbing cow she is. The other thing that makes me angry is I was completely fooled by her until I realized--while she was in India--she was nothing but a whiny assed baby who thought her life was over because she was divorced at the ripe old age of thirty and couldn’t hold a yoga pose or meditate longer than 30 seconds. She couldn’t hold the yoga poses because she was too busy practicing her selling out poses and she couldn’t meditate and clear her mind for longer than thirty seconds because her monkey brain was too full of herself. Cow.

The other thing which makes me crazy angry: if she’s so damn perfect, why isn’t she announcing to the world she is starting a micro loan program in Bali for women to start their own businesses? Why isn’t she selling her crap through Global Exchange an online free trade shop which sells scarves and stuff? Which leads me to another point of her hyprocrasy that crap in World Market isn't free trade but it's made my child slaves in sweat shops. Again: if you are going to be so extremely spiritual and extremely conscious of the world around you. Put your money where your mouth is.

I hope she chokes on her super special basket of Italian goodies or gets tangled up in one of her scarves made by child slaves. What would really be great is if Hell froze over and somehow she heard about my rant and contacted me just to prove to me I was wrong and she had invested money in the people who have propelled her to cultural stardom hasn't sold her out and she is only selling free trade items. That would rock. And I could also tell her directly how much I hated her overly self-conscious and facile book.

So I’m raving at The Girl about this today when she came home from lunch. (That will teach her to come home for lunch, now won’t it?) Nice Jesus and not the angry-turning-over-the-merchant’s-tables in the temple Jesus was living in TG’s heart because she offered up this excuse:

“You know her last book wasn’t very good so maybe she needed the money.”

“Dude, not an excuse. Who could blow through that much money--maybe Lindsey Lohan (enphasis on "blow"--besides it's is a movie starring Julia Roberts. Maybe she could have…you know…WRITTEN A DECENT BOOK if she needed money. Or a compilation of photographs from her travels. Nope she came home and became Oprah’s Toddy.”

Unfortunately, TG couldn’t come up with any more reasons for this travesty of marketing and self promotion. And so in the true fashion of a hypocrite I started shooting off ideas for products which would be appropriate for Edgy June Cleaver:

Edgy June Cleaver Dictionary and Thesaurus
Edgy June Cleaver aprons or dish towels with embroidered pictures of my retarded dog.
Edgy June Cleaver Vodka available on those really hard to face parenting days and if you aren’t a drinker: Edgy June Cleaver moleskin notebooks to hurl in the general direction of your rotten kids.
Sharon Stone will play me in the film, too. Really it's the only obvious choice.

So when the time comes for me to become a Global Enterprise remind me of my little rant before I put Oprah on speed dial and start touring sweatshops in Viet Nam and Cambodia.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mrs. Cleaver You've Got A Stupid Dog

(to the tune of "Mrs.Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter")
Mrs. Cleaver you have a stupid do-og
stu-pid do-og
Dogs as dumb as him are something’ rare
But it’s sad, so sad he can’t find his way
Out of a blanket on his head.

Yup, it's official. Kipper isn't the brightest bulb in the box and the elevator doesn't get to the top in this one. Good thing he's sweet...when he isn't barking at a doorbell on television, howling when the phone rings, barking when someone enthusiasticlly says the word squirrel or thinking the blanket on his head is another signal for "naptime". The only thing he did do? He tipped the cup over the cookie and he used his front paw rather than nosing it over.

I should probably check him for those thumbs a little more often.

When Good Sons Do Bad Things

I love it when I can steal projects from other sites. I found my latest project Ihere. I’ll let you know how it goes later today. My guess is the results will be similar. Besides, teasing the dog is way more fun and interesting than accomplishing what I need to accomplish today. And I have 37 months to finish Beav’s scrapbook which is still in the visualization stage because As God as my witness: my younger child will have an actual baby book and not a bound volume with crap stuffed into like I had. And it’s only 75 or so today versus the triple digits on my last day off. And it’s not like I can accomplish anything until I actually put things away and clean things up because right now it looks like a crazy person on their way to being featured on “Horders” works down there! Because there are still a few DNA strands from my father’s good solid hard working Quaker ancestors: I have made a deal with the studio: I will clean you if it rains today. Which is a step towards the whole scrap booking thing. A step much like Tom Kelly’s when he thought to himself: “I’m gonna make a car for the moon!” The back porch and the back yard at this point are much more seductive.

I did complete a project lurking in the basement today. A couple of weeks ago I started infusing olive oil with some of our herbs and drying a mix of herbs to be grr-ed by the food processor. I had to laugh because the herb mix looked more like pot than it did culinary herbs before I attacked it. While growing marijuana would be easy in my garden, I‘m not Nancy Botwin and prefer my life to be led on this side of the law. The olive oil thing is a lot less glamorous than it sounds. It’s mostly messy. So messy, it takes longer to clean up after myself than it does to triple strain the olive oil and make the labels. The more accurate name for this project is Cleaning The Kitchen. Cleaning the kitchen is on my chore list in Hell.

After I finished patting myself on the back for finishing something on this beautiful lazy day, I remembered the cup of peach yogurt I had put in the frig freezer and this would be the time to reward myself for a Job Well Done. So I sang my little tra-la-la song (like Pooh’s honey song only pitiful because I’m a middle-aged woman and not a cute, ageless, cartoon stuffed bear) and opened up the freezer and reached to the place I had put it.

Nothing. Not there. Just a bag full of vegetables, a bowl of ice, hot dog buns and dinner rolls. I looked on the door: nope, not under the little bags of lime juice, lemon juice or egg whites…I looked again, repeating the steps several times, my heart sinking to my toes. I did find the top secret mango sorbet but there was only enough for a wee bit and I was saving that for The Girl. I was incredulous!! Who ate my yogurt? My yogurt that I put in the freezer specifically for my own enjoyment. I know it wasn’t TG because she doesn’t like peach yogurt. And I know it wasn’t Kipper because if he had access to the freezer the only left would have been empty bags; and I checked him this morning and he still hasn’t--much to his chagrin--grown opposable thumbs.

Jesus wants me to say I didn’t have revenge in my heart as I thought of my two “Little Angels” asleep in their beds; all cozy and peaceful in their boy smell…sleeping the morning away…ONE OF THEM WITH A BELLY FULL OF FROZEN YOGURT. But I resisted the temptation to awaken either of them for two reasons: even I’m not that psychotic and --most importantly--chances were great I would then have to drive someone somewhere and I really couldn’t muster up the energy to actually put on something other than my pajamas, brush my hair and leave the house before afternoon. And damn! I thought I had it hidden better than that, too. I was counting on the blight they share with every man I’ve ever known. The dreaded “Male Pattern Blindness” means I can pretty much count on things like ice cream, sorbet, or chocolate chips to be under the peas or behind the mixed veg packs because why the hell would you pick up anything or move anything to find something. It must not exist if it isn’t in your immediate line of vision, right? Hah! We fooled them for two weeks and they didn’t discover the caramel ice cream in the back. I had it so well hidden that they would have only discovered it if one of them had made themselves vegetables to eat and boy howdy that ice cream would have been satisfying on that particularly cold day in Hell.

I must refine my hunting and gathering skills. The enemy has breached my food stores. In the meantime it’s time to see just how retarded Kip is while I’m waiting for my strawberry yogurt to freeze.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Life Is Scary...Let's Go Shopping!

Isn't this just the most awesome picture? I found it .here. It looks like TG and me this week as we gallivant from one thing to the next. I'm really not a social butterfly and we have a small circle of friends versus a herd of chums who spend every waking moment of leisure with one another. Which I think of as one of the many "Lesbian Behavioral Traits" and one I lump in the category of cats and sensible shoes: not for me. I don't like spending that much time with anyone except maybe myself and then she gets a little whiny and self serving and preachy and obsessive a lot of the time and you have to pointedly glare at her and say something like: "STFU, K? You're not only annoying but you are super boring, too!"

So between the necessity of a job, our surprising social events, the teenager and young adult rodeo that seems to be my household; I'm running headlong into a big project that I've invested actual real money into so I can't turn back or quit because I'm scared. And whenever I invest actual money into a dream the first thing I want to do is go shopping. Just like those precious slogan tee shirts say: "Life is scary, let's go shopping."

So I want to grab TG and go shopping like these jaunty girls swinging their hat boxes. TG isn't exactly a clothes horse (not room for two in a relationship) but she likes to go shopping and she has beautiful taste. Her bubbling enthusiasm and sense of fun is infectious, too. It's especially fun to watch her in places that play dance music because she is prone to stop what she is doing and dance. In the aisles of any given store. And when she dances, she doesn't dance like she normally does, it's a caricature of how white people dance. I have witnessed the stopping in tracks and dancing in two foreign countries, and three separate states. The Khmer stall keepers in Psar Chaa didn't think we were funny as danced to Lady Gaga in the middle of their market.

See the disapproving stare?

But usually people just give us a wane smile as they move on with their lives…quickly away from the obviously deranged dancing middle-aged women. She did induce one of the Sephora goddesses to dance with her a week or so ago. This woman was a gorgeous sixy-something and could bust a move. Sometimes, I pretend to be all eye-rolly but really I'm charmed. The funniest thing she does when she shops is pointedly keeping her hands in her pockets. The woman stops at the door of the shop and you can hear the dialogue: “Now Girl, keep your hands in your pockets so you don‘t touch anything.” I asked her about the whole pockets thing and she told me: "I have to or I'll just touch everything and I don't want to break stuff." TG has the most remarkable self-insight into her behavior. That we all had such insight…therapists would be forming bread lines because I watched her stores when she forgot her rule and she really does have to touch everything while she whispers to herself: "oOooohhhh that's nice...I like that...ohhhh I like that..." It isn't particularly dangerous if we are looking at sweaters or blouses or lawn mowers but the other day she made me really nervous in Crate and Barrel. I had to ask her to put her hands in her pockets but she didn't because she was too busy swinging the little brass watering can back and forth . I gave her a "mom stare"and then belly laughed at her as she was about to swing the damn thing into a giant wine glass with a microscopically thin stem standing in the middle row of the precarious Pyramid of Big Glasses That Would Shatter Into A Million Pieces If Dropped. In fact, I think Crate And Barrel should be renamed that: "Pretty Things That Break Easily". I feel much safer with her when we are in the Cephalon section…but it just occurred to me if we actually bought one those behemoth pans I would have to carry it so she wouldn’t be tempted to take out a display of glassware and china with one big swing of a frying pan as she sang to herself and grooved to “Rock That Body“ or Ke$ha.

Yeah, I think we need to work in a trip to the mall this week because she’s just so damn fun. And frankly, I need to dance.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Housewife Posse

She looks in the mirror and stares at the wrinkles that weren't there yesterday
And thinks of the young man that she almost married
What would he think if he saw her this way?

She picks up her apron in little girl-fashion as something comes into her mind
Slowly starts dancing rememb'ring her girlhood
And all of the boys she had waiting in line

Oh, such are the dreams of the everyday housewife
You see ev'rywhere any time of the day
An everyday housewife who gave up the good life for me

The photograph album she takes from the closet and slowly turns the page
And carefully picks up the crumbling flower
The first one he gave her now withered with age

She closes her eyes and touches the house dress that suddenly disappears
And just for the moment she's wearing the gown
That broke all their minds back so many years

Oh, such are the dreams of the everyday housewife
You see ev'rywhere any time of the day
An everyday housewife who gave up the good life for me

Oh, such are the dreams of the everyday housewife
You see ev'rywhere any time of the day
An everyday housewife who gave up the good life for me

I know…I know…totally sexist. Totally. The line: “she picks up her apron in little girl-fashion” makes me shutter like Sideshow Bob when he sees Bart Simpson. But I remember hearing this song when I was a little girl and being completely entranced by this secret society of Housewives and I wanted to be a part of it when I was five. It was the ultimate girls club. I’ve more or less been in this girls club for twenty years. There is a sense of ease in this club, setting our own hours and making the household rules. But up until ten years ago it was really hard and really boring. The hardest part was the constant interruptions. I felt much like one of these damsels in distress in the picture above (It's a photo I took in San Francisco a few years ago) The marauders in the background are our children and husbands. I don’t think Ms.A and I had an uninterrupted conversation the first five years of our friendship. Much less a conversation that followed a steady stream of thought because somebody needed their butt wiped, their nose wiped or their hair patted. Oh. My. God. It’s amazing we knew as much about one another as we did. Given most of our conversations went something like:

“So E told me the curriculum is about to be decided and it looks like trees and flow--Billy, NO!!! NO!!! You and Wally may not climb up the stairs like that!” “What were we talking about?”

“Flowers? Oh, did you get the primroses or the hybrid tea roses for the garden?” “Beav, if you want a cookie ask. Ask Ms. A politely with a please and a thank you, don’t just grab”

“Did I tell you theMr. found that Bulgarian tea we like…Where’s my baby [The Prince of Darkness was his nickname at the time]? Where did little Prince of Darkness go? Billy? Have you seen your brother? …

If reading that stream-of-consciousness didn’t make your head hurt, try living it. I lived those disjointed post preschool pre cocktailnap conversations.

But now we have real conversations and speak in complete sentences. Like grown ups. The only time we are interrupted is if Kipper is barking in the background and I have to pause and tell him to simmer down or knock it off or hush. I’ve enjoyed our long conversations and our leisurely walks and coffee dates but alas, another child is on the way and we are naming her The New Career. Ms. A has a sweet new job that’s a cross between Nina in the film Office Space and the chick featured in Cake‘s “Short Skirt and Long Jacket“ song from eons ago. I’m very happy for her and she is just one of several friends who are starting careers again in their 50’s. It’s exciting and amazing to watch. But…but…but…what about me????

sigh sigh sigh

I’ve no one to have coffee with now. My Housewife Posse are all employed outside their homes from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday and will be having cases of the Mondays, looking forward to Hump Day, TGIF and asking themselves if they are working hard or hardly working. And what do ya’ know? Me too! I’m going to be working consistently three weekdays with few weekends like a normal person. What the hell happened here? Posse when poof!

I guess I’m gonna have to get busy and you know…reinvent myself, too. I might as well because there isn’t anyone available for coffee next Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Musings From The Back Porch or No, Really I'm Writing Today

This is my last day off of five, a mini vacation at home (I refuse to use that stupid computer generated word that begins with an “S”). I did manage to accomplish a few things and had some fun, too. Just this minute I’m on the porch enjoying our unseasonably cool day, reminiscent last year. I’m also contemplating ways to legally kill the squirrels that are knocking all the apples off my tree. This is the first year we’ve had apples and now most of them are ending up, green, hard, sour with the seeds picked out all over the ground. Have I mentioned how much I loathe squirrels? When we lived near a large city park, the squirrels almost outnumbered the people and they were bold and aggressive. I would cheer if I almost hit one and then when the boys were older and into a gross out stage I would act like I was going to hit them if they were in the road, just swerve a little and tap the accelerator. I’ve never actually hit one, though. Don’t worry, I’m not running up the street to Walmart for a small rifle so I can shoot the buggers. Having never shot a rifle I would probably kill the dog or a neighbor aiming for a squirrel. Wally’s a pretty good shot; he could do it for me. . .

Anyhow, the gardening is done; I’ve battled the dandelions and weird groundcover succulent looking things today. I contemplated taking a machete to the Bee Balm that is threatening to eat the front flower bed and our living room but TG likes it and so I’ll pull it out in October. I also harvested more carrots and two, TWO small golden beets. I’m waiting for TG to come home for lunch so we can have them with a salad of mixed greens and a vinaigrette I invented this morning. I’m very proud of this dressing: its balsamic vinegar, my herbs d’Provence infused olive oil, fresh pepper, garlic, a mixture of ground tarragon, chives, and oregano, topped off with a dollop of honey and yellow curry. This is an epic event because I really don’t like to cook and Kraft Mac-n-Cheese feels like a lot of damn work. My lunch was a roasted tomato drizzled with the dressing and topped with a sprinkling of Swiss cheese. Again, an epic event because the tomato didn’t come in a package or from a restaurant or as a result of The Girl. Not that I want a cookie for fixing lunch (although a cookie would be nice right now). I must confess I do like working with the fresh ingredients that come from our garden. It’s immensely satisfying to walk outside and pick things to eat. Which is why I am very excited our city has changed the zoning and is allowing people to keep chickens and pigmy goats in their backyards. Wow! Maybe someday we can have a Yard Cow and an elephant! I love elephants and fed one in Cambodia last month. Made my life complete! And when I stop foolin’ around and actually write the novel living in my head, there will be a yard cow based on a story I heard from an old friend of Ward’s.

I hadn’t even heard of a pigmy goat until we were in Texas last April. My stepmother’s brother (Step Uncle?) is a rancher in south Texas and told us during the drought people got rid of their cattle and started raising these goats. I asked him if he had become attached to any of them. He gave me a curious side long glance and quietly said: “Up until I take them to slaughter. “ Yeah, just as I suspected, he thinks they are adorable, too. Probably names them, worries after them like pets if it’s too hot or too cold or too rainy. They are cute little things, and always look at you like you’ve just said something wise which had never occurred to them and could you please elaborate on your philosophies and ideas. In other words, these little animals looked intrigued. My guess is they have an IQ lower than the average retarded dog but they still look intelligent. I’m not sure what we would do with this goat. Probably tie it up just on the other side of our fence in the green space and let it graze on the weeds. Little Goat would also eliminate the need to mow. Hopefully if the coyotes carried it off they would have the decency to eat it far far from the back fence so I wouldn’t have to clean up a carcass. Or listen to the crows as they fussed with one another over the carrion.

The coyotes are the most compelling reason why I haven’t found plans for a tiny chicken coop. Well there’s that and the dog. I have a hard enough time wrangling a wily old dog much less a clutch of chickens. But we could get those pretty little hens with the fancy feathers and free range them in our backyard. The poo would be great for the garden, too. Too bad I would be fighting the dog for the eggs and ultimately probably the chickens. So my adventure in urban animal husbandry is going to have to wait until the dog is dead.

This could be sooner rather than later because I’m going to leave him out for the aforementioned hungry coyotes if he doesn’t leave the damn trash can alone. I would like to blame his naughty behavior on the fireworks this past weekend but the fireworks are over and the behavior continues. Because I would actually miss the old goofball dog, the only other solution we came up with is just strewing the trash on the kitchen floor because that’s where it ends up anyhow. So last night before we went out for an hour or so, I put the trashcan on the back porch. TG thought she was pretty freakin’ funny when she calls downstairs to me: “Well the dog didn’t get into the trash but the squirrels did…Not really!” If I printed what I said before she alerted me to her joke, everyone’s net nanny’s would go “ping”.

But the idea of chickens has enormous appeal to me. When we heard this fortuitous news the other night, TG just looked at me and mouthed the word: “NO”. Butbutbut she is the one who in a moment of tropical fever or tequila induced insanity told me she would like to move to Mexico and raise chickens in the jungle a few miles from the coast. And then this spring we discussed the goats in everyone’s yard along I-10 in south Texas and again the idea of chickens was raised. I suppose wintering the chickens here would be an issue. I’m not too keen on the idea of leaving one of the cars outside so they can stay in the garage. The health department would look askance at us keeping them in the basement. Another dream dashed against the rocks of reality.

I suppose I’ll just buy my eggs at the store like most people. And mow the lawn. And dream of an elephant of my own.

image found here

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happiness Is

Today is one of those perfect days. The sun is out and it isn’t super hot like it has been so the dark clouds around us might yield rain, something we haven’t had in a week or so. My water bill and my vegetables will be most appreciative. Whenever I’m finished working in the yard, I always reward myself with flower arrangements. It feels completely decadent to have a house full of cut flowers. My perennial garden is amazing and we are blessed with monarch butterflies as well as honeybees. There is a working farm nearby and I wonder if they are keeping bees which would rock to find local honey. A few weeks ago, we were discussing the lovely alchemy of keeping bees and wouldn’t it be an interesting thing to do. Deadly in her case because she’s very allergic, but in theory it would be so very Zen. Handling bees you must absolutely be in the moment. I have a hard time being in the moment so tasks and jobs feel mysterious and sacred to me. Bees and butterflies are two signs of a healthy garden. I’m not sure I could stand the bliss if I had frogs, too. Poor frogs are dying off all over the world. We did see huge frogs at Angkor Wat in the reflecting pool and heard them at night and in the early morning at our hotel outside of the city.

Tending the garden, yard and flowers never fails to make me smile; even when it’s hot dry and dusty. This year’s beds aren’t as lush and varied as last year’s when we had a wet and temperate summer. But I am a little concerned about the front flower bed, everything bloomed way too early and is now dormant. I’m wrestling with setting more things out, annuals and such. I do have zinnias (the most cheerful flower, according to Oldest Friend) which will bloom in a week or so but otherwise the terraced bed looks a little woebegone and sad. Even the 4 O’Clocks are being stubborn and refusing to grow and bloom. Much to be joyful about today despite my worries.

My step-mother’s granddaughter (my--what--step-niece?) is an amazing artist and keeps a lovely blog, today she listed pictures of things that make her happy. This being a perfect day it was easy to find things that make me happy. Here are eleven (I like prime numbers) as they occurred to me.

Summer days when it’s not blazing hot, dry and windy so the back porch is “Command Central”

My flowers

The Girl is making chicken and polenta for dinner tonight and C from next door is coming over, maybe with her new beau who isn’t terribly handsome but he adores her and thinks she is the most amazing woman on the planet.

My Oil d’Provence (an infusion of my own herbs d’Provence in olive oil) was a huge success.

Tending the vegetable garden and worrying over the delicate tomato plants which were set out a little late and on a very hot day. Finding big sweet carrots, sweet peas, three habanera peppers, four cucumber blossoms and the golden beets which will be ready any day now. I’m boiling them and serving them on their greens cold with a pungent blue cheese and pine nuts. I. Can’t. Wait. I have fantasized about this beet salad for a year.

Getting to spend the whole day with TG.

Honey bees.


The dog hasn’t turned over the trash can or escaped from the backyard today.

Wally let me take a picture of him.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Frogs And Snails and Puppy Dog's Tails

Twenty years ago tonight, about this time I was sitting in our stifling hot living room in a wee bungalow listening to the rain as the fifteen day record setting heat was finally broken. I also felt my contractions start as the weather changed. Our dear friend and neighbor, B, was sitting up with me. She wasn’t sleeping well, the heat coupled with a recent lay-off was insomnia making. I appreciated the company, too. I had been home waiting to have a baby for four days and I was bored even though I was relieved to be on maternity after struggling to continue working. I was a NICU/New Born nurse at the time and had to shuttle between the nursery, the mom's rooms and the labor deck. Each unit was positioned down a long long hall and the distance from the nursery and the labor deck was getting longer with each passing hour as my edematous sausage legs and I trudged the stuffy hot hallway as I checked on the babies and moms. I insisted on having the walking job: hoping the activity would stimulate labor so I could just pick up my bag and drive to the hospital down the street. My sweet patients--most of them Spanish speakers--were prone to leaping from the rocking chairs in their hospital rooms so I could sit in my “delicate” and “advanced” condition. They would cluck and carry on about how huge I was and ask me if I was delivering twins. It never failed to make me laugh despite my misery. B and I discussed my last week at work, the grace these Mexican women brought to my life with their ability to care for their caregiver. We talked about how I had been disappointed I wasn’t having a girl. How much I had wanted a girl but I had come to terms with a boy. Because a girl was going to turn 13 and suddenly hate my guts for a decade a so; a son would only hate me for a year or two. I would try to live vicariously through a daughter: pushing and prodding until she was a puking anorexic mess on a therapist’s couch. I didn't tell her how impossibly young I felt in the face of having a child because I couldn't tangibly name what it was that made me feel so terribly young and unprepared. When I look at that picture of me and Wally, he seventeen days old and me younger than my nephew is now, I am alternatively consumed with relief I am twenty years older and seized with a desire to turn back the clock and fix terrible mistakes. But what frightened me most, that night, how would I relate to a boy? I, being so innately feminine and female…what would we talk about?

I was a quick study: We talked about Bear and how much he loved Wally and about road construction, dump trucks, ambulances, fire trucks, trains and dinosaurs. Snails and puppy dog tails stuff. But it wasn't all fun and games and rubber and steel for Wally. He was a deep thinker, that one. He was about two when he had an epiphany at dinner. Wally thoughtfully and reverently intoned:

“My Dad is not a fire dog.”

A big existential moment, to separate one’s parent into the category of human from beast.

I’m not sure how successful we have been staying in the human category. I know I’ve moved back and forth between the two. Tonight I said as much when I reminisced about sitting up the night before he was born. Wally was polite and indulged me as I told him the story of that evening with B. I also told him how thankful I was I had boys even though I wasn’t sure how well I had done relating and how parenting was a really hard education into adulthood for me. We were in the car when I told him all of this. That forced intimacy of a car ride at night made it easier to talk to him about these things. That, and he was a captive audience, too and listened probably because I was giving him a ride some place. He rarely asks for a ride so I volunteered to pick him up later,too. It won’t be the first time I’ve stayed up late waiting for him. I was doing just that, twenty years ago.