Thursday, June 25, 2015

Moving Tips


Ha! "Lamp Box"  haha "Dishpack Box." The very idea that someone has named something a "Large Mirrorpack" makes me know there is someone out there so much more organized than I could ever hope to be.

As far as packing materials go I am I am totally Used Dishtowel. Mindlessly Wrapping Glassware With Stuffed Animals, and 100% Discarded Printer Box Found In The Dumpster Into Which Sorta Fit My Ikea-Framed Posters. I'm This Cuisinart is Clean Enough.

I regret my collection of yelloware bowls. They looked so pretty on the kitchen counter in a marigold spectrum, but now that I'm hefting them into boxes, they look all It's Not 1940 Anymore, Farm Girl. You Know These Are Glazed With Lead Paint.

In fact, I regret every purchase, every hand-me-down, every relic of brown furniture that I didn't say no to now that I have to pack everything into a "Medium Box."

I don't even have that much stuff -- I consider myself a Zen-ster, and have a belief system that is Shit In Shit Out, but where did all the stuff come from? Why so many throw pillows, wind chimes, and lemon zesters? Why the multiple bird feeders?  The aspirational tennis racquets when I have never played tennis. And mugs? Dutch ovens? Don't even get me started. I'm having to take some deep breaths and some sort of medication because of the mugs; they're like Tribbles on Star Trek.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Triple Crown



The day I've been waiting for since I was a chubster bucktooth in the '70s watching the Derby with my grandmother (some people called her a pip) on her naugahyde recliner in her living room (referred to as "the bird room" because of the knockoff Audubon-print wallpaper she loved so much) eating unsanctioned sweets and too allergic to horses to even feed the glorious animals apples without getting hives, is here.

I'm not a sports fan of anything except American horse racing every year in the early spring and World Cup soccer every four years (but I married into that) so when American Pharoah crossed the finish 5 1/2 lengths ahead of Frosted yesterday on Long Island I hollered. I felt Seabiscuit's soft ghostly nose brushing my cheek. Mama's getting a new pair of shoes! I spluttered.

Mama's getting a t-shirt with Victor Espinoza's face on it! I fangirl squeeed. "Kids," I said to the kids, "you are have just witnessed history." I wept. I blubbered. I'm not ashamed to admit it, I miss my grandma.

She always wore little red and bright-colored pumps (she was kind of a peacock) fit for elves all in a neat row in her closet and complicated hair ornamentation geisha-ish. She would have been toodooleeedooing and slapping the couch saying "Hot Damn!" and things things like, "Mercy!" and carrying on about making a horse-shaped cake to celebrate. She had that kind of skill set.



Saturday, June 6, 2015

Call Me Calizabeth




Caitlyn Jenner the man formerly known as Bruce broke the internet this week, but not a lot of stereotypes about women with her Vanity Fair cover. I wanted to see her as I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar.

Older adult womanhood shot by Annie Leibowitz is about what? Lounging louchely on white leather couches with expensive mermaid hair looking moodily out at the world though a penthouse window. Or come-hither camera, I've still got it, a starlet in a white satin bustier. (I have one of those! Wait. Damn. I don't. I must have misplaced it with my Nice 'N Easy hair color from 1988. Remember the commercial? "It's you, only better.")

Her athleticism and bravery has been poured into several fitted evening gowns and that feels old hat. Really old hat. Like a top hat made of beaver on a master of the universe who runs railroads whose woman is at home making preparations to hostess with the mostess a dinner party in a bustle.

I was hoping for some kind of expansionary image, some kind of pushing of the envelope of Woman, some kind of punny, explosive, funny Bette Midler in a bed of roses and thorns, clever impish RuPaul rakishness, "We're all come in to the world naked and the rest is all drag," and instead we've been diminished to breaking the internet with our butts. Again.

Caitlyn could have just as easily have called herself People Pleaser, and I would have said, Girl, there is no way you can win this game; that's been my name for a long time. Then we'd giggle girlishly, do you think he's cute? OMG! Kinda!

We'd twirl our banana curls. We'd put maraschino cherries in our pink drinks before heading up to the roof deck to do yoga with Kim.





Friday, June 5, 2015

19th Century Medical Engravings




I'm a dowager-humped laundry-ridden stenotic arthritic chronically ill suburban mother who likes the natural history of the 19th century and had I lived in that time would probably have been collector of beetles or whorled Welsh snail shells collected from moody Wuthering Heights (O Heathcliff!) beaches and moors. I would probably have said,  "More tea, vicar?" and been into crocheted antimacassars. I like a good clear 19th century medical engraving.

This one (above) fit the bill this morning when I was cruising for 19th century medical images, which is one of my hobbies. Other hobbies include: confiture, researching PubMed for my symptoms, and the era of Big Band music, and identifying things I find in tide pools.

Isn't she bonnie and blythe? I adore her Essie "Ballet Slippers" pale pink reticule and her gesture of generosity, Here, citizen, take my hand. Where I live we smoke.

Why was Haydn angry at his chicken? Because it kept saying, "Bach, Bach, Bach..." and that's how I feel about my health: I want to be one way, and it is another.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

La Creperie





My parents lived in Claremont-Ferrand, France before I was born. Apparently it was a love nest and an idyll and they ate horsemeat and rabbit and and generally whooped it up with bloomy-rind cheeses. I will not mention the bathing suits. They were too tiny to mention anyway.

A French country village life has always been there in the background of my family life looming in its unbearable adorableness. I mean, just look at that unattainable and classic store-front script (above) and the color combination. C'est chouette.

So I make crepes. My dad calls. I'm on the phone with my dad. I'm keeping an eye on the batter so that the crepes I make are golden.  He's telling me about going to Paris in the fall to visit old friends Henri and Claude from that time, before he begins an around-the-world sea voyage on a ship as professor of English and I think, How well do I know this man? 

He's doing an around the world, again, and I've made homemade strawberry jam in a copper pot. Is it possible we're not related?

After I conclude that my dad in his 70s is an International Man of Mystery, my daughter, 7, complains that her "pancake" is "too thin," and that the strawberry jam is "not sweet enough" and I tell her tant pis, too bad, that's the way they do things in France and it makes you stronger.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Room With A View



Perhaps Italy draws you to it, as a warm country does to the English.

When I saw A Room With A View when it came out in 1985 I thought to myself: I must have Helena Bonham-Carter as Lucy Honeychurch's hair or die, and I got a misguided perm and looked like a medusa with bangs. I wore my heart on my sleeve.

But bad hair is not the point. The point is a field of poppies overlooking Florence, and men with names like Giovanni, Niccolo, Bartolomeo and Tommaso packing Chianti into rustic baskets and putting their hands together in the gesture, "Mama mia!" and my first taste of romance, and I quote, "the heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing."

How I understood Julian Sands as George Emerson in the scene from the movie where he climbs up in a tree and shouts, "Truth!" "Beauty!" "Love!"

Then, in my late 20s, I went to Rome and found a marble fountain that an artist had adorned with a perfect copper turtle, green with patina, and I further embellished the scene with myself, seeking shade, and a gelato made of hazelnuts.

That person -- what a frutti di bosco sylph was she! -- is long gone; she's probably by a stream somewhere staring at her own face.

I have cankles now. But I still have my mind is what I say, raising my fist (not going gentle). Research shows learning a second language staves off Alzheimer's.

So Io sono la donna in my 40s learning Italian from an app on my iPhone into which I must speak softly Giovanni, lui e l'uomo, while waiting to pick up the kids from carpool. I am corporeally in in this world, the sports camps of Baltimore County, but spiritually I am in Italy.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sunscreen




It does not look like the above sunny happy La Jolla mom when it is time for my kids to put on sunscreen. There are frowny faces. There are shrieks. But my grandfather lost half his nose to skin cancer, and I walk with a parasol with sunscreen in the fabric.

"Don't slather me!" says my daughter, 7. My son, 10, hides under the couch uncharacteristically being SUPER quiet, therefore LOUD and OBVIOUS,  he must be thinking, Mom's dumb as a post before 8 AM, and glassessless, she can't possibly see my feet sticking out the other end of the couch.

When I haul him out by the foot saying, "You don't want to end up leather baggy like Mommy!" "You don't want to lose half your nose!" he splutters, "All your stories end badly."

"Just sit still, and let me get the backs of your ears," I say, "You're going to a pool party, honey. Intense sunlight. Reflected off the water." I grease him up; he complains that I'm messing up his hair, he whines like the dog when she sees the dog shampoo.