Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Robin's Egg Blue

The lilac tree next to my neighbor's house is in full bloom and smelling like wonderful witchy dowager grandmothers despite being choked with the vines of upstart honeysuckle.

I walked up to it the lilac to take in a sweet lungful of violet-scented air and saw... three stunning robin's egg blue eggs in a robin's nest in the lilac's branches.

Their color is Colonial Williamsburg-y. Or Miami. Whichever suits you, old money or new, it is a totally American color. I think I had a pair of high tops in this color in 1983 (I know I did) which I wore while piloting myself in the direction of boys.

Robins! Spring! Renewal! Isn't it dandy? My heart feels like a candy box. The May clouds look like marshmallow fluff.

The mother robin, brooding as all mothers do, looked me in the eye, like, "Back off, you featherless two-footed clod," and I looked into the pissed off eye of the mother robin and said, "Tell me about it."

Monday, April 27, 2015

Adrenaline Seeking

I have the MTHFR gene mutation. Zoo-wee-mama! as Jeff Kinney says in The Diary of Wimpy Kid.  Oooga. Oooga. (That's the sound of a submarine's alarm.)

It means I marinate in stress hormones like adrenaline even "at rest" "under a palm tree" with a "umbrella drink in hand." It's just how I'm wired. I'm wired to be concerned the warm breeze causing the palm fronds to undulate might be the front edge of a tsunami.

I don't have to seek out adrenaline like a junkie by swimming with sharks off Australia or kayaking in Antarctica impersonating Ernest Shackleton, adrenaline finds me drying the wet brunch dishes with a dish towel and worrying about catastrophe.

The adventure of a lifetime begins with whitewater rafting in my prefrontal cortex.

Friday, April 24, 2015


It's the season of violets in your lawn. This makes some people uncomfortable and trowel-headed as they believe violets are weeds; they rhizomically spread just to clump and irritate the perfect green blades of grass of the perfect suburban lawn's wide green oppression.

I am not Team Perfect Lawn. I am Team Let The Violets Spread (theme song, Don't Mow Your Lawn, by Ray Anderson in his late '80s button-down at Jazzwoche Burghausen).

Violets are so pretty. You can candy them, as I have of late, for my mother on Mother's Day. How well they adorn a dainty lady cupcake! They have fierce little lion-dog faces!

Ava Chin wrote, "The first time I ate a violet blossom, it reminded me of the summer rain."

e.e. cummings wrote, "nobody,  not even the rain, has such small hands."

Monday, April 20, 2015


Every year I collect tadpoles in the spring.

I say they're for the kids when I'm scooping them out of the pond if anyone asks me. Because I'm a grown-up and grown-ups don't collect tadpoles having more important things to do like revisions, and laundry, and meal-planning (or is it just me?) but really the tadpoles in a plastic screw-top are for me because I love a good metamorphosis.

I peer at them and feel like Fern with Wilbur in Charlotte's Web. Appreciative. Humble.

It is so cool; year after year it doesn't get boring or old, as I watch them sidle along the sides of the jar like little fat buoys bumping against a ship's hull.

I feed them strips of kale and they grow legs. And there is something about saying the words "Let's release the froglets!" in a few weeks that makes me feel Queen of All I Survey.

Monday, April 13, 2015


The above is J.R.R Tolkien's illustration of Smaug.

My grandfather on my father's side read me Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island when I was about DS, 10's age and into pirates, unicorns, buried treasure, and books about communicating telepathically with dragons. 

I sat in the yard for hours with a paper Kroger's bag with a carrot in it, waiting to catch a rabbit from Watership Down.

In other words, I was a bucktooth nerd. I clutched to my chest a Trapper Keeper notebook with a stamping snorting stallion on the front. And even now, I'm always looking for the dragon's hoard, though the bar is set perimenopausally low.

Where once I set out with my friend Brigitta (her mother was Swiss) into Panther Hollow in Pittsburgh to find the source of the Nile, I am now content to find a bunch of wildflowers on my circumnavigation of the school's campus with the dog.

Swamp marigold! Whoo-weeee! That's a day-maker!  Ain't I a treasure finder! And look yonder: there is a the hawk I've been following! Golly!

I look around to see if the cross-country track team has heard me whoop and seen me do my little jig and then think so what if they have. I'm modeling something important for them though they are too young vibrant glossy haired coltish and healthy to understand: in 20-30 years they'll be in my clogs.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Getting Glasses

Sound and vision. Kinda important (and also a great song, but a weird video).

I've neglected my vision. My hearing is still good. I can hear a pin drop, a child upstairs shivering awake during a thunderstorm, his master's voice --- how cute is that dog? But I have resisted getting glasses.

 I had such good vision, such 20-20 eagle-eyed vision for so long. Without binoculars, I picked out channel buoys for my sailing dad. I pitied my friends who came out of the surf on beach vacations and immediately scrambled in the  sand mole-crablike for their specs, or my grandmother and her fashion eyeglass chains from which dangled many glasses -- separate ones for sewing, or "close work," as she called it.

 "Dropping estrogen levels deform your eyeballs, making them less round, and more football shaped," my young gorgeous blonde eye doctor said, as if explaining everything about middle age like a far off country.

She could have been referring to my breasts. Indeed they are deflategate.

If I am to make it to eighty as the actuarial tables say I will, wearing glasses and complex padded push-up bras with thick straps -- may they be fabulous. May they be bedecked. Bedazzled. Purple.  May they -- as Jenny Joseph has said, "make up for the sobriety of my youth."

Thursday, April 9, 2015

We Are in a Book!

Like Elephant and Piggie, I am in a book. We are in a book! It is Mothering Through The Darkness: Women Open Up About The Postpartum Experience. I am so excited. Hello everyone. Hello fellow contributors. I'm not drowning as usual, flapping and wailing, but waving, the opposite of the famous poem.

I'm doing my half Stevie Nicks half Snoopy happy dance.

I love Mo Willems' Piggie. Piggy the anti-Buddhist, the striver, Piggy, the driver of action; in the case of We Are in a Book, the eager flipper of pages only to realize there are only so many pages and that all books end. Existential crisis.  It happens to everybody. See here:

We're little more than stick drawings, Piggie and me, and everyone we know on this pale blue dot (Hi, Mom!) and still, despite our smallness and relative insignificance compared to geology, we are called to participate in Freytag's pyramid of dramatic structure.