30 June 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Cold, Drunk and Pantsless edition

Heyyyyyyyy, everybody! You know what time it is, am I right? AM I RIGHT? Everybody? Please, somebody gimme some props...Grab a button, release the brakes and GOOOOO!

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING, IF BY GIVING YOU MEAN BLEATING AND POOPING: Google is an amazing thing, no doubt. I recently became aware of the little targeted ads and headers that show up in the Gmail window. I knew they were there, just really wasn't paying much attention until recently, when I was waiting for something to load. I looked up to see this header: "GiftofaGoat". Huh? I clicked on it out of curiosity, and it took me to the webpage of a large worldwide charity organization. There on the page in front of me, was the headline: "HELP LIFT A FAMILY OUT OF POVERTY WITH THE GIFT OF A GOAT". It went to explain that for a few bucks, you can buy a goat for some folks who can use it to produce milk, get hides for leather, provide food and some other things that could help an impoverished family in a developing area of the world. Wow. I know what they mean, but wouldn't a fat stack of cash be just as useful? A lot less poop...

BUT I'M A DIFFERENT KIND OF MUTHA: Also on the random targeted ads I saw, and I have no idea why it showed up on my e-mail page, was the "Are You A Bad Mother? Take the Quiz now!" advertisement. It boggles the mind that such a thing exists. I would love to see the criteria they used to generate the scores. Sample question: "DO YOU LEAVE YOUR CHILDREN UNATTENDED AT HOME WHILE YOU GO OUT DRINKING? - A: Yes B: No C: I'm appalled! D: No, they act as my designated driver..." Of course, then it should be called "Are You a Bad Muthaf**ker?"...

KEE-RIPES I WANNA PLAY LIKE THAT: Enjoying my iPod at work, with the benefit of decent headphones, I was bowled over by what, to me, is one of the badassest bass lines I have ever heard in my life. To wit, "All Wrong" by Morphine, around the 2:30 mark. The sax is good, but listen to the bass:

PUTTING THE FUN IN FUNDY: According to the Wikipedia entry on the Bay of Fundy in Canada:

"Folklore in the Mi'kmaq First Nation claims that the tides in the Bay of Fundy are caused by a giant whale splashing in the water. Oceanographers attribute it to tidal resonance resulting from a coincidence of timing: the time it takes a large wave to go from the mouth of the bay to the inner shore and back is practically the same as the time from one high tide to the next. During the 12.4 hour tidal period, 115 billion tonnes of water flow in and out of the bay."

Personally, I kinda like the giant whale theory. It's poetic, trippy and cool. Either way, folks, that is a shitload of water in a short amount of time!

THE LAW OF PERCENTAGES SAYS HE'S BOUND TO SCREW UP: Watching Blue's Clues this past weekend with my daughter, it occurred to me that once, just once, I would like to see Steve get it wrong and write down the wrong things. So then everyone would be walking around trying to figure out what the hell is wrong, and all the little kids could scream "Hey, Steve, get a clue! Get a clue! They are right in front of you!" Ooooh, speaking of Steve (actual name: Steve Burns) he performs, along with Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips, what is quite possibly the best song EVAH done about groundhogs. For your edification and delight:

Rock the 'hogs, people! Woot!

WHAT, WILL THEY MAKE YOU EXPLODE?: Finally, because it is such a good source of randomosity (I made that up), yet another puzzling and funny targeted ad from the folks at Google. Just in case you needed some guidance, you can get "DangerousKissingTips", apparently guaranteed to make any girl "melt in your arms". Ewww. If that is what they mean by dangerous, I'll take a pass, thankyouverymuch. How do you explain that to her friends and family. "No, really, all I did was kiss her, and the next thing I knew she was soaking into the seat fabric. Really, I swear!". Better bring a mop and bucket, fellas...

pantpantpantshivershiver(hic)shivershiver(hic)...okay, now I'm gonna go put on some pants, get a blanket and wait for the room to stop spinning. Happy Tuesday!

29 June 2009

Wee Lass and the King of Pop (It's Not What You Think)

Sunday, noon, at Jimmy John’s Sandwich Shop:

The Wee Lass and I had just completed some book shopping on an overcast day where we didn’t much feel like running around outside. I had asked her if she wanted to eat at the “beansandcheeseandricestore” (Chipotle) or the “lettuceandtomatostore” (Jimmy John’s), and being my daughter she wanted the sandwich. So off we went after successfully procuring some fine reading material for ourselves.

I finally noticed after sitting down that a string of Michael Jackson tributes was on the shop radio, “Bad” blaring from the speakers. Flashbacks to my high school years and Weird Al Yankovic videos in my head, I look over to see Wee Lass is bopping and shaking in her seat, grinning like a possum. I say to her:

“This song came out when Daddy was a boy.”
“What’s it called?”
“It’s called ‘Bad’, by someone named Michael Jackson.”
Bad? Daddy, you should never be bad, you should be good.”
“I know, sweetie, I’m not bad, the song is called Bad.”

“Want to hear something funny?”
“Tell me, daddy, tell me!”
“I used to dance to that song, a long time ago.”

Incredulity lights up her face. Surely there are pigs flying and ice cream falling from the skies above.

“Dance, daddy?”
“Yes, I did. When I was a boy, I and my friends danced to this and a lot of other songs, too.”

She smiles, a spotlight shining on me with cherubic radiance.

“Daddy, would you dance for me? I promise I won’t laugh.”

Ah, if only all those girls in high school had said the same thing to me…I laughed out loud.

“…uh, no, sweetie, I don’t think that would be a good idea.”
“Why not? Please, please, pleeeeeeease?”

I was trying to come up with a good explanation. The fact that I really can’t dance, at least not in any organized manner, would have been lost on her. Wee Lass knows that daddy occasionally “shakes his moneymaker”, but that’s a far cry from “dancing”.

“It’s too busy in here, and there isn’t enough room…I don’t want to hit anybody.”

That last part alone should convince you of my so-called dancing skills.

“But, daddy, I want to see!”
“Maybe in bit, sweetie.”

The next song came on, more Michael Jackson. I recognized the tune, but could not recall the title. I told Wee Lass it was another Michael Jackson song.

“Daddy, what’s it called?”
“I don’t remember, sweet pea.”
“Is it called Good?”


“What’s so funny, daddy, why did you laugh?”
“It’s not called Good, dear. I just can’t remember the name.”
“Did you dance to it, too?”

Oh dear lord, she isn’t letting that one go.

“Yes, I did.”
“Dance, daddy, dance!”

So that is how it came to be, on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, I found myself holding hands with a beautiful girl, seat dancing in a sandwich joint and thinking myself a lucky fellow indeed. She was laughing and giggling and looking at me with those eyes of azure opal and I melted. Somewhere, sometime, on another dance floor a lucky fellow would be gazing into her eyes grown older and more beautiful.

I swallowed the lump of jealousy in my throat, knowing that fellow would not be me, but so happy that it was me that had the first dance with her.

27 June 2009

No, Her Last Name Isn't "O' Furniture" - Good Things

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls and genders in between, more good things have landed softly on my noggin. The intrepid Patty Mooney at A Diary Left Open has been kind enough to bestow upon me an award most excellent:

Burning Bright, most fitting, as that is how it feels sometimes when I sit down to write. Even better, that was the title of a novella by John Steinbeck. Very cool! Patty was so kind to give this to me, and it was created by Jen at Barefoot In The Sand. It's all so groovy, and I dig it. So if you can, drop some comment luv on 'em, tell them I sent you. Oh, and Patty has a great collection of lamp hats, check them out!

SHE WENT TO HAWAII, AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS AWARD: Seriously, though, the intrepid and lovely Pseudonymous High School Teacher also shook the awards tree, and I was the lucky fellow on whom the acorn fell:

Fo' rillz: See? It's an acorn! Pseudo graciously passed this along to me, and I'll borrow some wonderful word-ocity from her blog:

"The Renee Award, I’m told, is one of the most meaningful awards in blogland because it honors someone who is incredibly inspirational in his or her intelligent and witty writing.This award further celebrates a person’s smart, strong and inspirational spirit and it honors those who spread joy and love like an acorn, a small package growing into a tall and sturdy oak tree which spawns more acorns."

My moms often told me I was good at spreading stuff (stuff meaning b.s.), but joy and love? Well, man, that is indeed, the Balls*.

Many thanks to Patty and Pseudonymous, for reading and for making my day, twice over. Make sure to visit (San Diego and Hawaii, folks, dig the weather) and let them know I sent you.

*As my friend (and most gifted writer) cIII at The Goat and Tater would say.

Language of Loving the Language

“Even at this early stage of their development, the Irish were intoxicated by the power of words.”
-from How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill

Aha. That explains why I feel so dizzy and lightheaded so much of the time. I am not native born Irish, just of Irish ancestry, but…words. Words. Words. I love them. I cannot get enough of them. It pains me that there are far more words that I don’t know, than ones that I do. And that there are many that I do not know how to pronounce properly, but would love to use. And lots that I do know how to pronounce, but have yet to work into daily conversation.

Like saltire. Heehee. Not much call for that in most of the meetings I attend.

Words. I read the dictionary, just for fun. Sometimes, I’ll go to look up a particular word but get so distracted by all the other lovely ones I see that I forget what it was I went to look up in the first place. Occasionally my daughter and I will sit down on the floor or the couch and leaf through the dictionary together. She is usually looking for the “animal” pictures (I have a dictionary that has small illustrations for some words, usually animals) but now and again I’ll pick out a word and tell her what it is and what it means. Someday, I’m going to scrape together enough cash to buy a full set of the Oxford English Dictionary. Just because I want it.

Words and language fascinate me. I think about them all the time. Or should I say, cogitate? Or perhaps ruminate? Ponder? Meditate?

See? I told you! I cannot think of one word without thinking of others like it or riffing on a particular word for minutes, hours, days. Once, after an all-nighter back in college, I had the word lachrymose looping in my head for hours until I finally went and looked it up. That it meant “given to tears or weeping” or something like that only befuddled me. It was only because I had seen the word in a book I glanced at in the library that I even knew it existed.

But I’ve been that way since I was a kid. Who was it that said the dictionary is like a poem about everything?

What are words for, when no one listens anymore…what are words for when no one listens, it’s no use talkin’ at all…”
-from What Are Words For, by Missing Persons

Even if no one was listening, I would still be fascinated by words, by language. Precise and fuzzy, slippery and ironclad, words and language strung together like pearls for the mind. I like reading them, deciphering them, learning them. I love writing them.

Which brings me to the true subject for today: writing and writing paper and writing utensils. I know that hardly anyone actually writes anymore, with pen or pencil and paper. I thoroughly understand the value and utility of computerized word processing. Ironically enough, it was the computer that rekindled my love of writing. The ability to cut and paste, to edit, to make writing so plastic takes away some of the drudgery associated with actually putting words to paper (or pixels to screen).

In doing so, though, it helped me see how much I enjoyed the physical act of writing. And it really took fire when I started keeping journals back in 2003, upon the birth (and subsequent brief lives) of my twins. The act of putting pen on paper soothed me, slowed down my racing mind and made it possible for me to rein in my thoughts. Putting the brakes on a runaway train, so to speak.

There is something hypnotic and meditative about filling a blank sheet of paper with words. The best times, when I get a good idea, or need to spill the contents of my fevered brain, are when I can take my notebook or a fresh sheet of toothy writing paper and just write, write, write in the light of a lamp on the table or the nightstand. Just write. In silence, when the ideas are particularly strong or numerous. Just me, the pen and the paper. That little scratchy noise as the pen drags over the paper? One of my favorite sounds in the world. I especially like it when I can get into a groove, the words flowing, pen skritching over the page…and I hit the Zone. Time flies and I get lost in the act of writing and the sheer beauty of creation…

This was all triggered by a sudden impulse of mine, to get a fountain pen to replace the one I used to have, years ago. I had inherited an honest-to-jayzus stainless steel fountain pen from my maternal grandmother. I loved it. I wrote with it. I sketched with it.

And I lost it. Over twenty years gone, now.

It is quiet now, Wee Lass having gone to bed hours ago. I found myself this warm summer evening, sitting at the table with my laptop in the light of a banker’s lamp. It has a green shade, glowing with an emerald refulgence (heehee) and giving me great comfort as I stir the gumbo pot of words swirling around in my head. On the computer screen is the website for a manufacturer of fine writing papers. I am staring open-mouthed, agape at the myriad possibilities of paper, of envelopes…and pens.

There it is, right in front of me: a fountain pen, blue with a stainless steel nib. I want it. I don’t know that I can resist it. I see that pen, and I hear my daughter telling me a story, while my grandmother takes my hand in hers, and together we fill the page.

With words, and love.

25 June 2009

The View From Up Here (Coming Home Is Hard)


I’m sorry I’ve been away, dear ones. I’ve been…busy, swept up in stuff. And I’m sorry.

Not that you’d know from stuff, I know. You really didn’t get the chance, now, did you? No. I remember. I was there. There for all of it. Every excruciating, ecstatic minute of it.

(weak smile)
(clearing throat)

How have you been? The birds and the trees and the stars, they keep you company? I hope so. I hope so. They are beautiful, just like you. I remember…I thought…

(head dropping)

Please don’t think me silly when I say this…but when we first brought you here, I was so worried that you wouldn’t be able to see the sky from where you are. I was worried that the fallen leaves or snow or something would get in the way and you wouldn’t be able to see anything.

Especially me.

(soft laughter)
(massaging temples with fingers of one hand)

Silly, yes? I can hear you laughing, I can see the dimples on your cheeks. My god, that has to be (would have been) the most beautiful sound in the world. The universe. And I include the songs of birds and softly falling water and distant thunder in that category. That’s good company, my lovelies…See? The crow agrees!


Did I tell you I’m sorry? I am, I truly am. I should be here more often, but I…I haven’t been up to it. Takes a lot of energy sometimes, when I think of you, and I’m scared I won’t have enough. I’m scared I’ll lose it here and never get it back. I think it must be what it is like to try and wrap your arms around the sun. Your arms will never be long enough and it will burn, children, it will burn. This I know. Trust me on that.

Because I wrapped my arms around the sun, once. I still bear the scars and the weight, the gravity of it.

What? Daddy did what?

(closing eyes)

I wrapped my arms around the sun the first time I got to hold you, both of you.


What? Oh, I’m smiling because I remember those moments…you in my arms…and me wondering how it was possible that I had stars in my hands but they felt so light, so delicate…but oh, so beautiful…

(breeze rustling leaves)
(sunlight glinting on the metal)
(shoulders heave)

I heard the song again, on the way over here. You know the one…I do hope you are in the gentle arms…of eden, or something like it. And it has those words in it, the ones that get me every time.


No, no, dear ones, Daddy can’t sing. You know that.


“...This is my home, my only home
This is the only sacred ground that I have ever known...”

(choking sob)

“…and should I stray in the dark night alone
Rock me goddess in the gentle arms of eden…”

(crow caws)
(hand wiping face)

I’m sorry, kiddos…daddy is real sorry.

(wiping leaves, dirt from gravestones)

I love you, you know that. And I’ll be back.

(kissing fingertips)
(brushing names)

This is my home

Italicized words are lyrics from “The Gentle Arms of Eden” by Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, from the album Drum Hat Buddha.

23 June 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughtless Edition

It's time, people! Grab a button, and get all randomicated!

FROM THE UNINTENTIONALLY FUNNY FILES: I had all sorts of ideas buzzing around in my head, but pretty much lost it after seeing this, in a local grocery store:

Yeah, yeah, I know what they meant...but I still don't want to know how they make it!

Happy Tuesday, one and all!

22 June 2009

Watching The Bottle

The air seemed thick, for air. Thin, if it had been syrup. Heart considered that for a long moment. Viscosity, he was certain, was key when trying to breathe. Although he allowed as he was no fluid dynamics engineer, he could not describe exactly what he meant when he thought about trying to breathe what seemed to be a liquid.

His mind was moving slow. It felt to him like a superconducting magnet that was losing coolant. The processes slowed down, data transfer began to lag, and information was being lost to inefficiency. Not that it truly mattered to him at the moment. Another long moment, Heart whispered to himself. He drew another lungful of the syrup washing over his head and flicked his eyes to the top of the bottle that was about a foot and a half from his face. It looked taller than it really was, skinny and brown like a tree. It was resting on a coaster, which in turn was resting on a table, its dinged surface the color of tupelo honey. Heart sighed. The side of face was going numb from lying on the table, but he felt too tired to move.

The cap was off the bottle, and while it was almost two-thirds empty the chill from the fridge was still on it. There were silvery beads of sweat forming on the surface and Heart had been watching them gather for how long he could not say. There was a fat drop quivering up by the rim of the opening, and Heart tried not to move. He didn’t want to shake the table and send the drop down the side prematurely. For no reason other than he could not think of a better thing to do, he wanted the drops to fall on their own.

Not unlike the tears that kept brimming up in his eyes, the hot result of his mind wildcatting in the well field of his soul. He blinked slowly, and felt the tears drip to the table.

At the top of the bottle, the fat drop shook slightly, its face bulging as it threatened to drop to its dissolution at the bottom of the bottle-cliff. Heart sensed it about to fall, he could tell, it had that look. The plastic, stretchy, look water gets when it is moving slow and under no compulsions except the tyranny of gravity drawing it ever downward. Heart held his breath, mentally ticking off the seconds until it fell. His vision narrowed and the clock on the wall seemed to blur, and he became acutely aware of the blood pulsing through his veins: slow, slower, molasses in a cooling pipe. His heartbeat seemed to stretch out, as if he were feeling every single muscle fiber contracting one by one, parsed out in a time-lapse movie of a laboratory dissection. He swallowed around the lump in his throat. So thirsty, he thought, so thirsty and I can’t move to pick up the bottle…

The ceiling fan was ticking over in a feeble attempt to push the thick air around. Heart had a vision, a brief flashback, to his grandmother’s kitchen. It was hot, hot as hell, it must have been summer, but G-maw was determined to make some candy. She was standing at the old gas range of hers, a monument to industrial archaeology, but an old friend of hers. They had been together for decades, Heart knew, long before he had become her grandchild. G-maw stood there in her housedress, seemingly oblivious to the heat as she stirred something on the stove. “C’mon over here, I want you to see” she said. Heart was curious. G-maw always had something interesting on the stove. He padded over to where she stood, tilting the pan towards him so he could peek over the rim. In it was a deep pool of clear, thick liquid. She swirled the spoon in the pan and lifted it out. A thick rope of it joined the spoon and the pool. Heart blinked. For a moment, it looked like the rope was holding up the spoon, an optical illusion that had him shaking his head. G-maw laughed and said “That’s sugar syrup, and it’s gonna be good …”

Heart’s eyes snapped open. Must have drifted off, he thought, how long was I out? He looked at the bottle again. The drop was still there, clinging tenaciously to the rim. Hmmph, not long then. Christ, when is that thing going to fall?

His throat was really dry. His fingers were just inches from the bottle. Heart told himself to just pick it up and drink. What the hell was so hard about just picking it up and drinking it? Why the drawn out, will-I-won’t-I saga for the simplest things? He had no answer.
There was a noise in the hall. Footsteps getting closer to his front door. Heart threw up a silent prayer that they would pass him by, and for a moment it sounded like they had, getting quieter as they moved down the hall. Just a Heart was about to reach for the bottle, though, he heard them double back, coming to rest in front of his door.

Dammit. Go away.

Too late. There was a knock at the door, and a voice.

“Heart, open up.”

Heart didn’t move. Please go away, he thought, his eyes focused on the trembling drop.

“Heart, I know you’re in there. Please…”

Another tick of the clock. Heart thought of all the reasons he didn’t want to open the door, all the hurts, the anxieties, the emotional poisons on the other side.

“Heart, please don’t shut me out. Don’t throw this away.”

Heart winced as he thought of the one good reason, maybe the only reason, to open the door. He knew it was true, because it hurt like a branding iron to the backside. The truth, or at least part of it, was on the other side of that painted metal. He choked back a sob.

“Okay, just a minute…” Heart lifted his head off the table.

The drop fell, detaching itself from the bottle. It arced down to smash into the wooden tabletop to burst into a spray of tiny rainbows in the light from the table lamp. Heart watched in silence, tracing his fingertip through the puddle on the table, wondering how it was possible to go to pieces without falling apart.

Like a tumbling drop of water on a warm summer evening.

21 June 2009

She Makes Me Believe I'm A Dad

Last Friday, I went to visit Wee Lass at her daycare, for a father-daughter event (chronicled here, earlier). As part of that event, the kids had all made these picture books for the fathers, out of construction paper and string. They were illustrated by the kids, and the teachers wrote down what the kids wanted to say on each picture.

Here's what my little darling daughter gave to me:

That was really, really cool...and she also gave me this:

I made it to the car before the tears started.

Could be, dear...but really, you helped shape mine...

20 June 2009

Things What Are Great*, Wee Lass Style

I attended a Father's Day Snack event at my Wee Lass's daycare today, and it was an absolute gas. They kids had decorations and gifts for all the dads, and the piece de resistance was the snack: banana splits, made with vanilla ice cream and our choice of chocolate syrup, caramel and/or rainbow sprinkles**. We had a grand time, a great way to cap off a lovely Friday afternoon, especially since I took off work early.

On the way home, we had a very interesting, and ultimately very touching conversation:

Wee Lass: Daddy...
Me: Yes, sweet pea?
WL: Daddy, I have a confession to make to you!

(scccccreeeech, sparks and smoke as my train if thought came to a crashing halt)

Me: Um...a confession, sweetie?

(Where did she learn that word?)(And please let it be something like 'I went potty and didn't wash')

WL (in her youareanidiot voice): Daddy, a confession is something you need to tell someone!
Okay, well, what do you want to tell me?
I wrote a poem for Bongo (Bongo is the housecat), do you want to hear it?
Of course I do.
Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Sugar is Sweet And Bongo is, too!
Me: Wow, that's very nice.
I wrote it so he wouldn't be sad about Tigger.

(scccccreeeech, sparks and smoke as my train if thought came to a crashing halt again)
(throat tigthens)
(Tigger was the other housecat. I say was, because unfortunately, he became very sick and had to be put to sleep last month. He was 20 years old, and Bongo is 19)

Sad about Tigger? Why?
Because he misses his brother, and I didn't want him to be sad.
That's a very nice thing for you to do, sweetie.

Kids. They really do say the darndest things. And some of the nicest things.

*A tip o' the Gumbo tam to That Baldy Fella over at
Nick Nack Blog Attack. I borrowed the phrase from him. I hope he doesn't mind. Stop by and tell him he's a top drawer chap, and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I think. Or maybe I'm lazy.
**For the record, I had chocolate syrup only on my ice cream. Wee Lass went for the chocolate syrup/rainbow sprinkles combo.

Special Note: As a bonus item, I'll be posting on that other thing I do,
Hot Dads, on Sunday, June 21st. A little lagniappe for y'all.

19 June 2009

A Request, Por Favor

Hey, there, dear ones:
I need a favor. Longtime reader and bloggy friend Joanie M. is in a bit of a rough spot nowadays. Her main squeeze John is undergoing chemotherapy, and dealing with that is taking its toll on her in many ways, and we are trying to help her out. Please visit Braja at Lost and Found in India or IB over at Idiot's Stew for more info and a link to a Donate button; we would appreciate it if some cash could be spared to help Joanie out. So please drop in, donate if you can, leave some comment luv for Joanie, let her know we are keeping her in our thoughts and prayers.
Thank you all!

18 June 2009

Curry Me Home

Unlock the door, step inside, to be greeted with the sensual warmth of curry aroma...a fragrant memory of last night's dinner. Curried black beans and rice, with peppers and onions...all consumed by the light of a banker's lamp while the eater hunches over the keyboard and tries to shush the clamor in his head and the growling in his stomach.

Sipping a gin and tonic, he thinks it an appropriate libation to be had while swallowing the shades of a subcontinent all the way around the world. He swishes it around in his mouth and finds it amusing to be a citizen of a former colony of a once mighty empire drinking in the bitterness of a medicine that had its roots in another former colony, the liquid coursing in blood descended from ancestry once despised by that same mighty empire. Quinine on his lips, another mouthful of curried rice and all he needs is some jodhpurs, a helmet and a native batman to be at the table with the Governor-General himself.

Or maybe, the solitary eater told himself, I'm just full of shit.

No, not that. Full of rice and beans, maybe. And tasty ones at that. The warmth of the spices suffused his cheeks and belly rising on a faint tide of gin. Another chuckle and the shake of his head. Really, it's just dinner, one voice says, no need to turn it into a dissertation on the repression of minorities and foreigners in the framework of empires.

A sigh. Yes, I know, the voice on the other side of the table replies. It's just that I can't help it. I can't help but connect the dots, spin the web when I am surrounded by the silences of a near-empty house. Silences punctuated by the hum and click of appliances, voices in the hall, the faint patter of rain on the windows. In the absence of company, I tend to make my own, you know that, don't you?

Silence, with maybe what could have been a small sigh.

The radio goes silent, another glitch in the streaming audio. The eater pauses for a second, then decides he is too tired to reach the few inches to the computer and reboot the player. Instead, he turns his energy back to chewing the bright orangey-yellow spoonful of rice he had tucked away. Goodness, he thinks, goodness...how did this happen? No response to drown out the faint squeak and grind of soft rice, yielding graininess of silky beans rubbing his gums and coating the inside of his mouth with a paste of intense savor. Slowly, cattle at the feed, jaw moving and a slow swallow. The spicy mixture gently feeling its way to his stomach, he raises a napkin and pats his lips. The napkin comes away stained, gold and ochre dampening the paper. He smiles, admiring the color; pretty, like a tiger laying in a pool of sunlight. The smile fades, the eyes drop under a cascade of longing and loneliness coursing through his gently pulsating mind. His lips tremble. His eyes close as he whispers to himself.

What did you say? asks the voice from the other side of the table.

Nothing, the eater replies, nothing.

I know you did, I heard something, saw your lips moving. Tell me.

He sighs. The spoon lays in the bowl, a few bits of rice and a lone black bean lounging in a shallow pond of Indian echoes. He clears his throat.

I was asking myself how it could be that this bowl of rice, this room full of fragrance and spice...how could it be this fragment of India makes me yearn for home?

The voice from the other side of the table did not answer right away. The eater sat with head in hands and struggled to gain some composure. The voice replied
Because somewhere, on the other side of the world, someone swallowed a mouthful of rice, bathed in spice and made with love, and their heart spoke to yours.

The eater opened his eyes, took the spoon and scooped up the last bits in the bowl. Yes, he told himself, yes, my heart had to travel the world to finally recognize its true home. The spoon found its way to his mouth...

...and the tiger stretched its glorious limbs in the golden light, blinking, then settled back into the warm lap of the sun.

17 June 2009

Warning: Unauthorized Use Of The Word "Wiener"

Okay, class, you've read the title. Now, discuss!

16 June 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts Takes It In The Nards

Groooooan! Urffff. Arrrggghhh. Like a fastball to the junk, it’s time for Randomness once again, dear readers! Grab a button and an ice pack and hobble with me!

FIRST, A REDIRECTION: Ladies and gentlemen, as I mentioned yesterday in a hasty post (post haste?) I had been honored by a request to guest post later this week, but things went awry and I was asked to fill in on today's post over at cookAppeal. Stop on by and have a big bowl o' gumbo and other goodness, tell Chef E I sent you!

PIECE O’ CRAP ON WHEELS: Why is it the amount of bling on do-it-your-self “StreetCarz” seems to be in proportion to the crappiness (i.e. LOUDNESS) of the exhaust system? What, you can spend who knows how much money on Day-glo wiper blade covers, a “car bra”, and a useless spoiler, but you can’t buy a decent muffler? Trust me, jackass, you aren’t as cool as you think you are just because your car sounds like an elephant farting inside a culvert pipe. The only person I ever admired who had a loud exhaust was my sainted maternal grandmother, and that’s because a blue-haired tough broad driving a bright red Ford Fairlane 500 tricked out with a glass-pack Cherry Bomb muffler is WAY cooler than some dumbass gangsta wanna-be…

CUISINE DE LA JUNQUE: I know it’s really bad for me, but there is something liberating about scarfing down half a big bag of Doritos, while standing in the kitchen in your boxers. It would only be better if there was salsa. Mmm, come to the trough with me…

YOU ARE PART OF THE REBEL ALLIANCE AND A TRAITOR: I have on my bookshelf and old edition of “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” by Edward Gibbon. Randomly selected, I came across this gem: “When facing a revolt in the provinces, the response must be swift, brutal and efficient”. I feel the same way sometimes when I get indigestion. Down that GI tract, can’t trust it, always acting up and plotting against me…

TO COVERLETS AND BEYOND!: The coupon said Bed, Bath & Beyond. How exciting! My imagination soared, I could feel myself drawn to distant lands, exotic ports of call, sailing the seven seas…and then I realized that all I really needed was a folding step ladder and maybe some hangers for my closet. Sigh. Back to reality, I guess…But then the question occurred to me: when they say “Bed, Bath & Beyond” what does that mean? Beyond what?

IT REALLY IS A HAPPY HOUR: Who knew that such a thing existed?:

Wonder what the happy hour is like…

LIFE WOULD BE SO DIFFERENT IF THIS WAS MY NAME: Consider the word “banjo”. Go on, consider it. Would it or would it not make a really cool name for something besides the musical instrument? Maybe I should have named my daughter banjo. No, no, that’s just silly isn’t it? I mean, come on, “Banjo” is really a BOY’S name. And I know I mentioned a banjo in last week’s randomness, but I just couldn’t get the word out of my head.

“Hi, there. Name’s Banjo. Banjo Fitzsimmons, pleased to meet you!”…

IF YOU MUSK: I find it fascinating that one of the primary ingredients in old-style, high quality perfumes was or is musk. A substance that can be collected from the anal glands of civet cats or musk deer. Imagine that. Nothing says “Hey, I am aromatically attractive, please sleep with me!” like the butt juice from poor, unsuspecting animals. I also wonder, who first gave this a try, and how did they decide they were going to ‘harvest’ the substance? I’m not gonna do it, you do it…Ewww…

Whew. Okay, the room won’t stop spinning, I’m going to go lay down now. Happy Random Tuesday, one and all!

15 June 2009

The Invitation Arrived Early!

YOUR ATTENTION, PLEASE: Ladies and gentlemen, I had been honored by a request to guest post later this week. The lovely, multi-talented and energetic renaissance woman who is Chef E has asked me to step in while she is on vacation. Chef, writer, teacher, author of six (six!) blogs, she has a lot of irons in the fire and enthusiasm to burn. I was flattered, and a little intimidated to be honest, when she asked me to guest on cookAppeal. She is persuasive, though, and I did get to write about one of my favorite things: FOOD.

I was scheduled to post up on Friday, July 19th. HOWEVER, due to an unexpected glitch, Chef E needed to fill a post slot TOMORROW, so she asked if she could pencil me in. Of course, I said yes. So, dear readers, please set your alarms, mark your calendars, make a note to visit me tomorrow over at cookAppeal! And while you are there, check out her blog, drop some comment luv and come hungry...so good, ya hurt yourself!

13 June 2009

The Earth Revolving Around The Sun

Sometimes, there is not much difference...

...between watching the sun set on a quiet summer evening...

...and spending time painting...

...with someone you love.

The colors, they run to each other, and your heart is full.

11 June 2009

Grasping At The Panic Switch

Sleep, a precious commodity. Oh, the worth!

Time, it’s never worth my time
Blue shine, Bleeds into my eyes
I still, sleep on the right side
Of the white noise
Can't leave the scene behind

A feeling that never seems to go away. Laying there in the not-dark, the bleed of the street lights oozing through the blinds. They shut, but not really all the way. It is deceiving, because when the bedside light goes out, it seems dark. But that’s only because the eyes haven’t adjusted yet. That first few minutes, the eyes shut in anticipation of sleep, and then there is that glow…that and the noise, in the head. You see, it is leaving that “scene” behind that is truly a herculean task. The clatter and rush of the day, too many phone calls, a hurried lunch and a blizzard in summer. A blizzard? Sort of. The cloud of sticky notes swirls about in the wake of your frantic passage, always in transit, from one end of the ship to the other as it were. It is a turbulent cloud of paper, the notes become flakes. Running doesn’t seem to do any good. Why would it? Can you really outrun a blizzard?

When you see yourself in a crowded room
Do your fingers itch, are you pistol-whipped?
And will you step in line or release the glitch?
And can you fall asleep with a panic switch?

Falling asleep seems like a dream come true. That end of the day, run-down, ass-end of nowhere feeling and sleep seems like an inevitability. The nodding off melding into a slack-jawed stare at the screen, or drooling onto a sheaf of papers that in another life would seem to have some importance. Or so you tell yourself as you concentrate so hard on sitting up and at least looking like you are doing something that at least has the appearance of constructive work.

But…sleep…the goddess beckons from across the stream, and you want desperately to cross it.

So it’s out the door when the bell rings and “Free, I’m free!” Home and couch beckon, a shimmering vision of the Promised Land, with only a small desert to cross, that vast sterile sea of asphalt and rolling metal under a pall of exhaust. And that is when the tension ratchets up.

You find yourself in that crowded room, surrounded, trapped in danger of being crushed by all the others caught in the behavioral sink called the streets that are supposed to take you home. Gigantic rat mazes, where you can’t even smell the goddamn cheese, much less have any hope of finding it. So now you are wide awake and taut like a guitar string. The panic switch is mere centimeters from your fingertips. Your hand trembles as you strain to touch it.

And when you see yourself in a crowded room
Do your fingers itch, are you pistol-whipped?
Will you step in line or release the glitch?
Do you think she'll sleep with the panic...

The fingers: they do itch. They itch from the friction of gripping the wheel so tight it hurts. Frustration mounting and wondering why it seems like a curse. Everywhere you go the universe seems to be in mild conspiracy, keeping you from getting where you want, to get what you want, when you need it. A million expletives boil in the open-hearth furnace of your mind, finding release in the form of F-bombs pouring down like a violent summer cloudburst. And nothing much seems to change. Remain calm, panic, scream at the top of your lungs, it’s all the same: still trapped, just outside that circle of light, fingers trembling…it is to weep, almost, the desire to run, to scream, to pleasepleasepleasegethomesafedrytosleepperchancetodream…Pistol whipped by a life that could once, just once, be unfair in your favor…

Mm, I'll try
To hold on tight tonight
Pink slip
Inviting me inside
Wanna burn skin
And brand what once was mine
But the red views
Keep ripping the divide

So it is that getting out, getting away, getting home becomes a wellspring of bad feeling and negative thought. Relax? Ha. It is to laugh. The distraction of chores undone, bills, the shedding of the detritus of modern life: they bring the fire roaring back to life. That sleepy feeling, the blacking out almost at the desk?

Gone. Like smoke before the hurricane.

Sure, the body feels tired, but that is just a gentle joke. A tease. A minor cruelty in the name of Cosmic Humor. Surely you get it? Near unconscious when your faculties are needed, but wired awake when you court the goddess of sleep? Funny, no?

So you lie awake, there in the half-light, trying not to breathe too loud, or listen to the faint rasp of your own breath. The rustle of the sheets when you twitch, like a cat in a fever dream of mice. The hum and click of the air conditioning like mechanical crickets crooning outside the window. You swallow and sigh, groping desperately for that panic switch, frantic to shut it off. Maybe, if you are lucky, you’ll get your fingertips on it. Greasy feeling and with fading warmth, like the last heat from a cooling body in the morgue.

You grope and writhe, pulling hard on that switch, praying to God or something like him that you’ll have the strength to flip it to the off position.

It’s a matter of survival.

I'm waiting and fading and floating away
I'm waiting and fading and floating away
I'm waiting and fading and floating away
Waiting and fading and floating…

Italicized passages are lyrics to “Panic Switch”, by Silversun Pickups, off the album Swoon.

10 June 2009

The Good, The Bad (and Sometimes Ugly)

A LITTLE RAY OF SUNSHINE: Earlier this week, I was gifted with this award:

This little gem came from f8hasit, and my hats off to the lovely lady! Thank you! And you should really check out her post on midges, which has one of the best lines I've read recently, anywhere, on anything:
...So the best is to vacuum them up....or just wait for the bastards to die."

Ahh, good times...


Sometimes, life feels like that.

09 June 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Golden Hamster Edition

LET'S GET READY TO RRRRUMMMMMBBBBLE! It's that time of the week again , so let's go crazy and look for that purple banana until they put us in the truck!* Grab a button, and get all random and stuff!

WORD FOR THE DAY: The word for the day is "schlong". Say it out loud. "SCHLONG". Consider it carefully. Schlong. schlongschlongschlong. Now you can't stop thinking about it, can you? AIIIIGGGGHHH!!!

WEIRD AND LOVELY THINGS: The lurvely Purest Green at where there are no chickadees sent me a most amazing postcard of what she called "ghost surgeons". It was just weird enough that I had to see it. Check this out:

This is an actual painting, at the (I think) National Galleries of Scotland (PG, help me out here) called Three Oncologists. And it hangs in a portarit gallery. Commissioned in 2002. Pretty bizarro, and I'm glad (?) I asked to see the card. Speaking of cards, Purest Green has a bit of a small project to send postcards to people. Why, you ask? So she can send all the ones she has and then go buy more, silly! If you would like a card, drop by her blog, tell her I sent you, and ask nicely. And check out the picture of her with the big hat, fit for the Queen Mum.

WEIRDO RELIGIOUS FACTS, VOL. 1 - BOGOMIL IS BULGARIAN FOR "DEAR TO GOD": Among other things, the Bogomils (a religious sect that arose in 10th Century Bulgaria) believed that God had two sons, the rebellious Satan and the obedient Jesus. No surprise, the Bogomils were considered heretics. Still, the idea isn't that far-fetched...but I wouldn't want to be called "Bogomil". Sounds like infant formula for clowns...

HOME ENTERTAINING WITH IRISH GUMBO: When having squirrels** over as guests, make sure to have on hand some drink coasters that double as nut dishes. We must be gracious to ALL our guests, no?

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PICKLE?: It's a battle to the death. Dill? Kosher dill? Bread and butter? Garlic pickles? Cornichons? Gherkins? It's like you go to the supermarket thinking "Dude, I wants me some pickles" and you get there and there is Claussen and Vlasic and Mt. Olive and the store brand and the kosher ones you can only find in the refrigerated section next to the bottles of horseradish and a brand called "Ba-Tampte", oh and those ones that come in the bright yellow can that say "Mediterranean Sweet and Sour Pickles" and then when you go back to finally try them the cans still have pictures of pickles on them but they don't say "Sweet and sour" anymore, it's something else, so back to the other aisle and then kee-ripes its slices or stackers or whole or whole baby pickles or relish, oh, hell no I didn't want relish I wanted pickles, pickles, PICKLES dammit, why did this have to be soooo harrrrrddddd....(beats head on floor).

POOL DORK: For the first time ever, I had the pool all to myself. Actually, it was me and the lifeguard, but she wasn't swimming. So what is the first thing Mr. Michael Phelps (not) does when he hits the water? Takes off swimming like a brick and sucks in a big snootful of highly chlorinated water. Which leads to his imitation of a hippopotamus with a lung problem. Yeah, man, real smooth, hornking and snorting like that...

BUT CAN YOU PLAY KLEZMER MUSIC ON IT?: Finally, for anyone looking for a weekend project to do with the kids:

Whew! So there it is, another RanDoooM 2sDayyy Thawts! Happy Tuesday, one and all!

*Bonus points and kudos if you know what that is from.
**Everyone except IB and cIII, that is.

08 June 2009

Every Little Sparrow Fallen

The death of little creatures is always shocking, no matter the time of day. Death becomes an obscenity in the silver and azure light of a perfect Sunday morning. The body was there, tiny, purplish and fringed with feathers like smoke. It lay nearly in the center of the path. The poor thing insulted by the assault of a gang of flies, nasty hooligans desecrating the memory of the departed, knocking over gravestones and despoiling flowers.

My breath caught in my throat. My left foot hesitated while I performed a stutter step to avoid trampling the body. My stomach lurched at the thought and I was grateful that I had seen it in enough time to avoid such a travesty. I heaved a deep sigh to lessen the pang of sorrow I felt balling up in my gut. I muttered to myself “It’s just a bird”, feeling a little foolish at my reaction. It is the way of the world that even the innocent, the fragile, the beautiful, cannot escape the brutality of death in the morning sun.

Walking and breathing in the perfect air and sunlight, I quickly put distance between myself and the little cairn of sadness that was the baby bird. The weather was perfect and the path around the lake was busy with people out for exercise and relaxation. The recent heavy rains had filled the lake up to brimming, and the greenery was lush and bursting with moisture. Out on the lake, the geese swam around in the lily pads. The starbursts of the lilies standing out brilliant white against the lime-greeniness of the lily pads. I was breathing deep of the air and slowly, slowly the clock spring in my belly began to unwind. It was, I told myself, a beautiful day.

Continuing on around the lake, I bathed in the glory of the light, the breeze, and the melodies of the birds carrying on in the trees. The simple act of walking just felt so good, it seemed impossible that anyone could remain in a funk. That was what I told myself, and I reckoned it was good enough to get me around to the other side of the lake.

Another third of a mile and I was across the first bridge, ambling along the flat part of the trail before it starts to wind itself up and down some gentle inclines on the north side. It is quieter here. Quieter in the sense that generally speaking there are fewer people on that side of the lake. The trees and the undergrowth are thicker. The atmosphere is closer, cooler, greener. It was as I worked my way up the first incline, under trees leaning in overhead, that the tears started.

One moment, at peace. The next, crying softly to myself. It was a complete surprise.

The trigger was a bird call. There was a sparrow or a finch, I really don’t know because I couldn’t see it. It was somewhere among the leaves singing its heart out. The image of the dead baby bird flashed in my mind, I was overwhelmed by a wave of sadness for it. I ran my hand across my face and sternly told myself to quit being so maudlin. It was just a bird, an unlucky little bird in a harsh universe. I snapped out of it and moved on.

Another hill, another birdsong, and another gout of tears. The image of the baby bird wouldn’t leave my head. What in the world was going on? It was going to be a hard slog the rest of the walk if I could not overcome the small sadness of that bird. Except for size, it was no different than the road kill deer I had seen earlier, another hapless victim. I shook my head desperately as if that would fling the images out of my mind. Walking faster also added some much needed distraction.

Crossing the second bridge, the “arboretum” lay just ahead. One of my favorite spots on the trail, it is a long, narrow stand of trees, of nearly all the same species. The path curves up from the bridge and elbows into a straight shot to the other end of the grove. The trees are all slender and tall. The branches high above curve out slightly, lending a nave-like feeling to the space beneath the trunks. The sun shone through the leaves, to dapple the path in spots of gold tinged with emeralds. I smiled slightly and took a deep breath of the sweet air as I entered the arboretum.

It was then a jagged chunk of memory fell from the sky, filtering through the leaves to land with excruciating agony on my head and shoulders. I stumbled and fell…

…into night, in the hospital, July of 2003. I was sitting in a chair in a room without windows. The sounds of sobbing reverberated in the small space. Nearby sat my wife, weeping. Her parents sat on a small couch, tissues in hand and heads bowed. I realized abruptly that much of the sobbing was coming from me. I had been weeping for some time, and showed no signs of stopping. Not anytime soon. I looked down.

The weight in my arms came clear. Inches from my red and swollen eyes were the tiny, pink face of my first born daughter. Her eyes were shut, never to open again. I could see the faint traces of the medical brutalities that had been administered in a heroic but ultimately futile attempt to save her life. I remembering gasping, my heart caving in on itself, writhing like a worm on a hook. I furiously tried to blink away the tears, her visage swimming in and out of focus. Her feathery body was threatening to escape my arms and float away, borne on a wind of misfortune.

Our darling little bird. She had been born too early to leave the nest. Overtaken by a life started much too early, and too frail to fight off the worst the universe had to offer. A feathery pink-purple angel swaddled in clothes she was never meant to wear. Amidst the sounds of broken hearts, I caressed her cool cheek and begged God to let the bird sing, if even for a little while longer…

Sharp white sunlight filled my eyes with stars, ethereal spangles floating in a film of hot liquid saltiness. Stepping from the shadows of the arboretum and into the sun was a small shock, like getting hit with a bucket of warm water after a cool bath. I found myself walking slowly down the path and breathing as if sipping the air. I could not recall having walked through the trees, but there I was, in a daze and blinking as if I had seen a ghost.

Which I suppose was true in some way.

I wiped my face with the back of my hand, struggling to regain my composure. Somewhere up ahead, another bird trilled a love song of my memory. I reached out my hand to shield my eyes from the glare of the sun. I could not see the source of the warbling.

But in my heart, another bird echoed the song, an exquisite duet. I moved forward into the cerulean embrace of a lovely Sunday morning, satisfied that God hears every little sparrow that falls.

I know I do.


Many thanks to Flux Capacitor for additional synchronicity. Go here for enlightenment and perspective. Thank you, Maggie May; may you find peace.

07 June 2009

Swallowing Chinese Medicine (Cabinet)

It was not the thing for which I was looking. Not at all.

See, I have this little corner, an accidental eddy in the spaces around me that I would like to fill with…something. The natural thing, that which first occurred to me, was a writing desk. It is probably pretty obvious by now that I have aspirations to be a writer. If one is going to be a writer, therefore, it follows that one should have a place to write. From that, the inexorable push of logic says that a desk is the most likely place at which to write.

When I first sat down to get serious about writing, I almost always did it at the dining table. It was centrally located, had good light coming through the window and gave easy access to the stereo and the refrigerator. And there was also a toilet nearby, so all the basic needs were covered.

Things are a little different now, but I still do most of my writing at a dining table. Problem is, it is located away from the windows, and I miss easy access to natural light. There is a spot next to my dresser that is just big enough that I could fit a medium sized library table or small desk, perfect for writing and thinking. This is the accidental eddy I mentioned. A small backwater out of the main flow of things to provide some peace and quiet.

For some reason, I got it into my head that I didn’t want a modern desk. I wasn’t that interested in sleek or shiny or tubular or glassy. I wanted something made out of wood, preferably old, purpose built and with just enough ornamentation to be interesting without being frilly. I wanted something that had seen some use, but looked “worn with care” and not just beat up or abused. I wanted an old desk with brass hardware and maybe an old fashioned keyhole in the drawer. Secret compartments would be icing on the cake.

So antiques were the natural choice. And as luck (and geography) would have it, there are quite a few antiques stores/outlets near my homestead. I availed myself of this bounty by heading for the nearest, an old mill complex that has been converted into offices, shops and (of course) antiques sellers. I went into the first (and probably largest) antique furniture store that I came upon.

I was immediately overwhelmed by the variety, quality and…prices…of some of these pieces. And the sizes! If I am ever in the market for an old wardrobe the size of a minivan, I know where to go. The writing desk selection was a little slimmer, but there were some very nice pieces. I saw from across the room, what looked like a very promising table. Right size! Wood! Multiple veneer inlays! Louis XIV style (or something like that)! Wow! I said. I imagined myself sitting there, writing the equivalent of “War and Peace”, sipping brandy and pontificating on the size of my big head. I hurried over to check it out.

I imagined writing a check for $6,500. Eeep.

Okay, so no “L’etat c’est moi” fantasies for me on that one. So I kept looking. I did find a few more tables, but they were either too frou-frou or too money-money. Very nice stuff, just a little out of my reach at the moment. I was about to leave the store when I turned a corner, and saw this beauty:

I believe I actually gasped when I saw it. It is a 19th century apothecary cabinet, apparently used by a practitioner of Chinese medicine. It is made of Elmwood, which seems a little unusual. It has 42 square drawers and 3 rectangular ones. Each one has a little metal pull, a ring of what I thought was brass or bronze. Each drawer has Chinese (I think) calligraphy on the face:

I don’t know what it was about this piece, but for some reason I found it to be beautiful, mysterious and intriguing. I was immediately taken by it, even though I couldn’t think of what I could do with it.

By now, you probably have noticed the obvious: it is in no guise a desk for writing. It is about four feet tall, there is no place to sit at it and the drawers cannot be used to store paper or books. Standing at it would be ridiculous, trying to write.

So, many strikes against it, desk-wise.

Still, there was something about, something almost magnetic that kept me staring at it…

I think that maybe it was the aura of possibilities about the chest. Possibilities of past and future uses hanging about the chest like a quantum fog. What was and what could be in those drawers? Who owned or would own such a thing? I saw it behind the counter of a medicine shop, or in a kitchen, as the visitor and the owner sat talking in quiet consultation. I pulled a drawer open, and the hand of an elderly gentleman lifted the ring along with mine…the little compartments stuffed with a powder, a spice, an herb, exotic ingredients my eyes could not identify but which captivated me all the same. In the bottom of one drawer I found a small blob of sealing wax, an imprint faint but still visible in the shiny red circle. How? Who? Why?

The Universe contained in a wooden box the size of my daughter with her arms outstretched. Forty-five drawers divided into smaller and smaller boxes, a rectangular fractal vessel of near infinite probabilities. Each volume containing the answer to someone’s question: Make me better, make me less hungry, give me strength, let me taste, feed my body, feed my mind…

…feed my soul.

I closed my eyes and breathed deep the aroma of old wood and possibilities. The elderly practitioner turned from the cabinet and brought something to the counter where I stood, waiting. He placed a small cloth bag in my hands, heavy and fragrant, and wished me good health. I smiled to thank him and moved to the door, stepping out into the bright blue goodness of a lovely summer day.

The Universe, in a chest of wood.

05 June 2009

Orville Redenbacher Would Be So Proud

“OOOooo, tha’ popcorn smell good as shit!”

I beg your pardon? Really? (shaking head, tugging at ear)

Did I just hear that? Turning my head to see who said it, I spied a pair of teenagers walking fast and not watching where they were going, pushing and shoving on each other. It happened in a nearby mall, one that I didn’t frequent all that much.

“Damnnnn…” said the one who presumably hadn’t made the comment about the popcorn. “Too bad I ain’t got a dollah!” Then they were gone.

I sniffed the air, and indeed there was the heavy scent of popcorn in the air. I looked over the rail down the floor below, where I could see the popcorn vendor’s cart in the middle. Nary an inkling of fecal matter, olfactory or otherwise, could I discern. Which is a good thing, I suppose.

Popcorn that smells good as shit? Really, what were they doing with the cobs?

04 June 2009

Chasing The Me Of Me


You remember those times as a kid where you and your friends, on a bright sunny day (wasn’t it always a sunny day for this?) breathing deep of the infinity of promise in your lives, sap rising in the trees as more than one Dad would say, and god, Dad could you be a bigger goober? Who says that anyway? Dads do, that’s who but on that bright sunny day you and your friends would start laughing with that gleam in the eyes and all of a sudden everyone is up on their feet, sneakers or flip-flops or those god-awful boots, what did we call them? Chukkas? Wallabies? No, no desert boots desert boots with those nasty crepe rubber soles and oh jesus Christ you used to wear them with white tube socks, could you be a bigger dork? Really, no wonder you never had many girlfriends, that’s right those dag nasty stupid boots were like birth control glasses but for the feet…

But you remember that, right? Right? Of course you do, they were your feet goddamnit, desert boots or no but they were on your feet, everyone was on their feet on that bright sunny day in a string of bright sunny days, but today in particular when everyone was up and running spinning in circles, faster faster with the head thrown back and eyes half closed so the sun wouldn’t blind you and man, it was hard to stay in one place with your eyes closed so sometimes you would open your eyes and your best friends were all spinning in place like madmen like dervishes no, dervishes? Really? You didn’t know what the hell a dervish was and years later when you found out they whirled themselves to achieve religious ecstasy or visions, oh you laughed, because then, really, then (before you knew) you would whirl and spin and open your eyes and see her spinning in place just a few feet away and your heart would fill up and mouth gape because it was ecstasy you felt, except it wasn’t religious exactly unless you counted the daydreams you had of her where it wasn’t uncommon to hear ohgodohmygod, woops, your eyes are open and you are gaping like a fish on the beach and she is staring at you in that start-stop-start-stop like an old fashioned flip book cartoon, crap she caught you staring so you quickly looked up again and squinted at the sun and told yourself that the tears were from the sun, yeah man, the sun was in my eyes but that didn’t explain the gasping breath and the dizziness beyond that of the spinning and then you started to stumble stumble stumble, those damn desert boots might as well have been swim fins but you managed to stay upright just the same…

Just like everyone staying on their feet on that bright sunny day, out in the front yard of a friend’s house, and everyone is still spinning but staggering and no, ma’am we haven’t been drinking why would you say that? We’ve just been out here in the yard on a bright sunny day and spinning around to make ourselves dizzy, so dizzy, almost sick dizzy…

And why would we do that whywhywhy spin like that well cheap thrills and no hangover or a trip to the ER or reeking of unspeakable things wallowing in a cloud of cheap six-pack grossness oh lord did we really drink that crap? Of course we did beggars can’t be choosers and we had almost no money and forget the tastes of adulthood the refinements or the so-called refinements we grew up to kidding ourselves that we were so sophisticated because now we drink out of glasses instead of the bottle, sitting in a bar or on our brand-new grown up couch and isn’t it great to finally be an adult?

Except on that bright sunny day we didn’t have to be adults we just had to be to spin to run around and laugh ourselves to gasping and it was grand it was great it was out of ourselves which by the way felt wonderful to not be drowning in that angst that would catch up to us later when we thought we were grown up although no, no it didn’t start out that way…

Because on those bright sunny days we just ran and spun and didn’t think about the consequences of being dizzy we just did it, didn’t we? And jesus kee-rist it was fun it was fun because you would spin so much and you reached that point when you knew to stop and that’s when the fun really began or it seemed fun at first because then when you tried to stop your body wouldn’t stay still because the inner ear and your balance was all screwed up and we would all stagger around like loonies laughing and desperate to keep our balance so we ended up running in circles sideways while flapping our arms which never really seemed to work because we always seemed to end up falling down crashing into each other laying in heaps and feeling sick dizzy and the sun was spinning overhead, wasn’t it? or maybe that was our eyes rolling around in the sockets, the muscles spasming and then the nausea would start oh crap crap crap forgot about that yeah not feeling so good and hoping that please don’t get sick don’t get sick I’m sorry sorry please don’t get sick…

Which come to think of it was that same feeling years later when we grew up and became adults and spent so many years spinning and running and spinning and running until we couldn’t find our asses with two hands and a flashlight and jesus we suddenly realized we didn’t know who we were oh shit how did that happen all that time in and we still don’t know? Is that what this is about? Is that what it feels like? Yeah yeah yeah I think so to be spinning in a circle desperately trying to get something back find that self that we left behind so long ago and the shock of it all…

…was realizing, on that bright sunny day, that we were chasing ourselves for years when all we had to do was stop, stagger and fall to the ground…

…and land in a heap on the self that was there all along, hidden by dizziness and spinning.

03 June 2009

French Fries In Holland: Conversations with Pagans

Vincent: You know what they put on French fries in Holland instead of ketchup?
Jules: What?
Vincent: Mayonnaise.
Jules: Goddamn!
Vincent: I've seen 'em do it, man. They fuckin' drown 'em in that shit.

-“Pulp Fiction

Goddamn is right. Mayonnaise on French fries? WTF?

I was reminded of this…heresy…

No, no, let me try again…

I was reminded of this…quirk…

Arrgghh! Okay, again…

I was reminded of this abomina--- perfectly reasonable choice in condiments, recently, in conversation with a friend (who otherwise seemed normal). It all started with an innocent conversation about bologna sandwiches. Bologna sandwiches: safe as houses, right? Well, I thought so too. And then things took a dark turn when the conversation turned to condiments…

Me: I like mustard, or sometimes oil and vinegar…
Her: Oil and vinegar? What’s wrong with you? Ewww…
Me: Huh? Oil and vinegar is a classic! Why, what do you…
Her: Bologna sandwich with mayonnaise.
Me: (horrified grimace, hand on mouth)…
Her: What?

Now let’s be clear on this: I am not a mayo hato. Er, mayo hater. I like mayonnaise in small amounts, on things like turkey sandwiches. Or BLT’s. Or shrimp salad. Ooh, even on that really good shrimp and bacon club at the Cheesecake Factory, the flavored mayo! I’m not talking about Miracle Whip or “salad dressing” either. Believe it or not, I used to eat potted meat sandwiches with a thin schmear of Miracle Whip or whatever it was that lived in my fridge growing up. But those days are LONG gone. Erp. Making me queasy just thinking about it. I do like real mayo, the kind made by beating olive oil with egg yolks, vinegar, salt and maybe dry mustard. I just don’t eat it in large quantities or very often.

So yeah, mayo is good on some things. Just not on good cured deli meats or salumi (if I may wax Italian for a bit). Hold on, the room is spinning….

Whew, I’m back. It just doesn’t seem right. More than once I have ordered an Italian hoagie with everything, thinking that surely they must know what they are doing, only to get the sandwich, take a bite, and have mayonnaise squirt out all over the place and ruin perfectly good salami or capicolla or prosciutto. Makes me squirm. Along those lines, never order an Italian cold cut with everything in place with a name like Kelli’s Deli. Or Yung’s Subs and Chinese Carryout. Bad move. Almost guarantees mayo, or even scrambled eggs. But that’s another story.

So how does that relate to the bologna with mayo heresy? Well, bologna is one of the quintessential comfort foods from childhood. And the doctrine was: white bread, yellow mustard, pink bologna. A perfect Trinity handed down by the High Priestess of Domesticity, All Things Love…I speak, of course, of MOM. And mom made the best bologna sandwiches, ever.

So when I grew up (sort of) and started experimenting (“don’t worry, dear, it’s normal, all kids have those urges”), I tried other things on my bologna sandwiches. Oil and vinegar. Brown mustard. Spicy brown mustard. It was different from the Mom-made sandwiches, but similar enough to be in the same ballpark. I still enjoy a good spicy mustard on my bologna (that’s what she said, hehheh; Shut up, Beavis!) because it hits the spot. And I don’t feel like a sinner when I eat it. But mayonnaise? Get thee behind me, Stan!* My tongue balks, my stomach howls, I gnash my teeth**. Bologna and mayo, it’s just not meant to be.

In all fairness to the person I was debating theology, er, discussing condiments with, she did patiently explain to me why mayo for her bologna sandwiches. It kinda made sense, it’s what mom used to make***, grew up with it and all that. I finally saw the light, sort of.

Mayo versus mustard: it’s sort of like the difference between the Lutheran Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, different pages, same book. So we reached a delicate equilibrium and decided to each his or her own.

After all, we both know which is the One True Church, don’t we? (wink) Come, come to the light…although I may just try that mayo on the fries thing...

*That’s right, Stan, not Satan. Stan was the counter man at deli that shall remain nameless. Nice guy, but lawdy, man, ease up on the frickin’ mayo!
**Happens a lot when I’m hungry. Like right now.
***Even if mom was a heretic, still had mouths to feed. So that’s cool.

02 June 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: GumboIsAVirgin Edition

Can you believe it? I mean, seriously, really? It's time for "Random Tuesday Thoughts" courtesy of the UnMom, which many of you (i.e. all of you) have heard of. Apaprently, everyone except me. 'Cause in all the time I have been blogging, I've never done the random Tuesday thing. Never. Nope. Nada. Which means (gasp) i'mavirgin that this is the first time I have done it. So grab a button, or something, and get started!

DISH SOAP: I have a big bottle of Palmolive dish soap sitting on the edge of my sink. One of the big clear ones filled with green goo. I bought it because I was in a hurry, needed soap and forgot to consider that the word "Palmolive" gives me the creeps. I don't know why, it just sounds vaguely unwholesome.

FIX THE DAMN THING ALREADY: One of my neighbors has a job that apparently requires him to leave by 5:00 in the f*&%in' morning. I say f*&%in' because he also has a car that has a muffler that sounds like Snuffaluffagus (did I spell that right? who cares, I'm tired) with a head cold having a seizure. Seriously, I'm thinking about lending him some greenbacks, tell him to have that thing looked at. If it isn't broken, then he should be smacked around a bit. Dammit.

STR-STR-STR-STREAMING AUDIO: I listen to my favorite radio station quite a lot, by streaming it over my laptop through a wireless rig to my speakers. It sounds GREAT, mostly, except for the ti-ti-ti-times the au-au-au-audio player software gets the hi-hi-hi-hiccups. Then, it's just weird, I mean, really we-we-we-weird. I thought it must just be the beer talking, but it happens mostly in the mornings while I eat breakfast. And I don't drink beer for breakfast. Very often.

KIDS AND THE DARNDEST THINGS #1: A while back, me and the Wee Lass were bellied up to the dinner table, shoving calories down our necks, when the subject of music came up. In the course of our conversation, I was asking her what kind of music she liked. We sang a little bit of the Spongebob Campfire Song:

Hilarity ensued. Then, I asked her if she liked to "shake her booty", and emphasized the question by shaking mine with gusto. Wee Lass looked at me with all seriousness and said "Daddy, don't dance while you eatin'". Hmm. Good advice, indeed.

KIDS AND THE DARNDEST THINGS #2: Watching "The Little Mermaid", the wedding scene on the ship, where it is discovered that the evil Ursula has taken on the guise of Ariel. When Ursula is found out, reverting back to her octopus form, Wee Lass said: "Why would anybody want to marry someone so ugly?" I don't know, sweetie, money?

WTF Files: While looking for something else, I found this image in my files:

I don't know, man...

ITS FUNNY BECAUSE ITS STUPID: Not sure exactly why, but the following video makes me laugh until I nearly wet myself:

So there you have it, my very first Random Tuesday Thoughts, Gumbo-style! I'd say get over to Keely's and give thanks and drop some comment luv! Happy Tuesday!