Archive for April, 2011

I missed Thankful Thursday last week. I didn’t realize it until about this Monday. Did my week go less well? Was I steeped in negativity, naughtiness, evil thoughts and deeds? Were the temptations of Satan harder to resist? Well, no. Still, I am trying to get the rhythm right.

Grateful today for:


The blossoming trees which are everywhere right now. All over my neighborhood, all throughout downtown. The cherry and tulip trees. Magnolias, too, if my eyesight is to be trusted. Pinks and purples, and white flowers blooming like snow.

The moisture in the air. The misty rains. The wind. The window is open at the front of my mudroom and the window is open at the back of the mudroom and the curtains billow, knocking over all of my tchotchkes and papers.

The word tchotchke http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tchotchke

Shit. I’m trying. I really am. But I’m just inventing stuff now. And my life is relatively easy. I have enough of everything, a house, Hubby, great kids. I am not in the South (tornadoes) or Japan or in a war zone.

Here’s something real. I followed this woman for a few hundred feet in Provincetown last week because I loved her umbrella. I think she was Italian. Why that matters, I don’t know, but it’s interesting anyway.

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Remember last Music Monday? Well, one year on our Cape Cod trip, this is the song that made the rounds. In the car, out of the car, at restaurants, at the beach, on our dune hike, and on and on and on…

Since I have had to spend an inordinate, inhuman, ungodly amount of time cleaning up after our long-haired cat, Miss Lilly, namely cleaning up her poo, this has been in my life A LOT lately. It’s like having a baby. Or two. Or a really gross baby. Or three.

So here it is, the ugly truth. It’s brilliant, really. Enjoy!

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These aren’t particularly Easter-ly words and the passage takes place in summer, not spring. It is however, timeless, and I can’t find much meaning in the holiday that we call Easter, so this is what I have come to today.

I come back to this passage again and again. It is beautiful and contains so much about life and death and work and rhythm and love and being human. I still haven’t gotten to the point of understanding it fully, but I am trying to remain teachable in my heart and soul and being.

Excerpt from “A River Runs Through It.” Norman Maclean; The University of Chicago Press; Chicago; 1976, p. 104

Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand when I was young are dead, but I still reach out to them.

Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn’t. Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters.

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Returned from Cape Cod last night with 4 teenage girls and my 77-year old mother in the aged mini-van. You can imagine that hi-jinks, hoots, and hollers were all part of the trip. That’s what I would imagine, if it hadn’t been me behind the wheel, encased in reality.

Couldn’t get my ass too far beyond inertia until quite late in the day today. I didn’t cook; only cleaned up cat poo, went grocery shopping, managed 2 different group email lists in order to convey mass information, downed a pint of Starbucks. I finally managed to start a batch of granola at about 10 this evening and to brew a pot of coffee to be consumed tomorrow.

Sad news today about one of my daughter’s former teachers, too.


I walked around by myself in Provincetown for a while on Wednesday. It’s something I do very little of–I’m usually with kids or Hubby, even Mom. It was so lovely to stroll around and snap photos. No matter what’s going on inside of me, Ptown has a stability. It’s reliable and predictable. There will always be skilled locals riding their simple bikes (not fancy, 21-gear racing bullshit–these people are practical and really going where they need to get) against traffic, darting between pedestrians; always beautiful gardens and houses painted charmingly; always some big honking gas-guzzler of a fancy black SUV plowing its way along Commercial Street; always a fat touristy family in Cape Cod sweatshirts eating loads of ice cream, looking sort of out-of-place, but not really out-of-place because they belong as much as anyone. There is always commerce and productivity–people working on their houses, deconstructing, reconstructing, sanding, blasting, painting. Always some drunks, always some smokers. Lots of tattoos and the most fantastic short haircuts to be found anywhere in the world. The proprietors will always be gay and hip and will always treat me differently and even sometimes less well than they treat the locals, as well it should be. The beautiful galleries and paintings and art everywhere. The feeling that this is not reality, but then remembering the working class roots of the area, the hardscrabble life of sailors and seafarers which beats its true bloody heart into Ptown as much as the art, performance, and flamboyance. This is a place of survivors and brave souls. There are no wussies here, except the visitors, like me. I am in love with it all.

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As you may know from Music Monday this week, we are spending a few days on the cold and windy Cape of Cod. Here is my yelp.com review of our favorite restaurant in Provincetown, MA:

Heaven, I’m in Heaven. What? I’m not in Heaven, I’m in Chach? As has been abundantly stated, the most amazing, HEAVENLY, vanilla-infused French toast ever made. I can’t finish it, can’t eat the middle because it gets too soggy and gloopy. But the crusty edges, thick all the way up and down: give me more, ’til I burst!

I love the waitstaff. I think some are leftover from the last restaurant here whose name escapes me.  I love the woman with the fish tattoos. Is she a Pisces? I don’t know, ask her. She also has a great haircut and a sort of typical “does she like me or hate me?” Provincetown vibe. The older gentlemen waiters who are generous with the “sweeties” and “honeys” are an easier read: obviously they love me.

My kids love it, my hubby loves it, my mother (yes, my unpleaseable mother) loves it, our friends love it, our kids’ friends love it. Closed on Wednesdays, so don’t take a 3-hour walk down the beach from your condo and expect a big hunking breakfast on a Wednesday.

If you’ve never vacationed in Ptown yet, you may be surprised at the prices, which are on the high side, esp. considering that this is mostly breakfast. The music can be unpredictably loud or simply too Ptown for me.

Lots of locals, always a good sign. Chach gets thumbs up with a twist (highest rating).

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This week we find ourselves on Cape Cod. Each time we head to the Cape, we are treated to a rotating group of approximately 11 songs sung by a rotating group of approximately 7 girls: When I Was a Wee Wee Tot; I Bought a Goat; Cape Cod Girls; Two Little Buggies; Green and Yeller are amongst the titles.

Trying to find good examples on youtube of any of the above songs, which are generally learned at summer camp or passed down from parent to child or from friend to friend, is a difficult task. Sometimes the lyrics can be found, but usually many variations exist with no definitive version.

I wanted to post Cape Cod Girls for obvious reasons. But I wasn’t happy with what I found on youtube. Too sloppy, too sincere, too goofy, too slow, too long, too plodding, too poorly recorded, too few verses.

Here is one of my favorite renditions of Look at the Coffin, a song we learned several years ago from one of the [now] teenage-girls. There seem to be two basic modes for this song–slow and sincere or fast and ironic. Can you tell where this guy’s sentiments lie?

I know it’s a bit strange. Close your eyes and picture yourself in a gold mini-van, circa 2000, with 150K miles, 5 teenage girls in the back, 2 adults in the front, all singing the same song at the top of our lungs. It’s a hoot. Learn it and pass it on.

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I didn’t watch Oprah much, but once a few years ago, I tuned in and she was saying that one of her pet peeves, or maybe what she considers rude, is gum-chewing. I guess people who are chewing gum when she’s in conversation with them? Well, what’s good for Oprah is not necessarily what’s good for the rest of us.

I am not sure whether chewing gum is good or bad for you. I hear reports of both. Good because it actually cleans away stuck food particles (gross!) and it exercises the jaw muscles (that would include masseter, buccinator, obicularis oris). I have even heard that it can make you look younger; no, not because you are engaging in a teen-agey activity, but because it exercises and lifts the muscles in the front of the neck. This is obviously bullshit information put out by secret agents of the chewing gum industry, but I will take it as true because I am getting a turkey neck, and jowls, to boot. Chewing gum may be my only hope against aging because I am not getting plastic surgery! I also have deep gullies on either side of my mouth. Maybe chewing actually makes these gullies more pronounced?

What are the downsides of chewing gum? I will not discuss something so negative and abhorrent on Thankful Thursday. Blasphemers!

If the flavor of gum isn’t enough for you, you must admit that popping bubbles is extremely satisfying. There is no compare orally, really, and I’m not just fishing for you to think sexual thoughts. I don’t chew bubble gum, but I love smacking regular gum into tiny, crackling bubbles. It makes driving around on errands not only bearable, but enjoyable. My car, my time, my gum.

Here it is, in all its beauty. The original Dentyne.

Look at it, damn it! Okay, so the photo’s a little blurry. Use your imagination. It says right there “Taste the Tingle.” C’mon, my god. What a bold and sexy little bit of enticement. And it’s all true. The package limited to only 3 colors. It’s pure genius.

I have found a source for original Dentyne. I also have a source for Beemans, Black Jack, Clove, and Teaberry. Usually I engage with the Teaberry or the Dentyne. Heaven! I never dug that new crappy Dentyne. And Big Red, no way! I occasionally pop a cinnamon disc in my mouth from the candy bowl at the front desk at the insurance agent’s office. Even those have lost their luster. But not Dentyne. It is a true and reliable friend. Maybe it’s made in China out of garbage, though. I don’t know. Are they going to come after me, the Dentyne police, for suggesting this? I wish they’d just offer me a lifetime-supply for plugging their product. Then I would be a proud and rich Dentyne whore and I would live in a palace made of Dentyne wrappers! YES!

Why does the store where I get my Teaberry charge only 25¢ a pack (5 sticks) but charges a buck a pack for Beemans? It is an outrage. In spite of this, I will, on occasion, treat myself to the Beemans. Like during the week of my birthday (hint, hint).

Gum. Yum. Grateful.

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Disclaimer: The following is my longest post to date. I have a sort of unwritten commitment not to do terribly long posts because I know how busy you are and I know how bored I become with overly-indulgent blogs. But I tried. This is edited down to a nubbin, really. For this is my passion. One of my favorite phrases, when I was absolutely in the throes of new motherhood and PPD was, “I feel like I’ve been run through a wringer washer.” And so it goes. I hope this post leaves you feeling fresh and new. Or like someone has injected you with a Clean Burst of something; what I don’t know, but something.

I love the laundry. I love doing the laundry. I love dirty clothes because I can have my way with them. I wear a gilded crown, for I am the Laundry Queen.

I love sorting the laundry. Darks. Delicate darks. Lights. Whites. Delicate lights. Mixed colors.

Whites–hot. Darks–medium. Delicates–cold.

I received a fancy washing machine for my birthday in 2009.

I bought a fancy dryer for my birthday in 2010.

I am not frivolous–both of my older machines had gone on the fritz (fritzes?). I only upgraded to new and fancy out of necessity.

There are still things I miss about my old machines. The simplicity of the non-digital controls. Whatever the hell temperature I want on the rinse cycle, for instance, instead of the absurd preset on my new washer. My old Maytag allowed me to apply any combination of settings: cold and delicate; hot and delicate; hot rinse, if I dared to be so bold. Who the hell cares but me, after all? The Commies who made my new machine think that clothes should only be rinsed in cold water. Why wasn’t I consulted by the engineers who designed this machine? Because they are Commies and they are stupid and no doubt they are male, that’s why.

In spite of some minor engineering mishaps, I do love my washer. It even has a window. Sometimes while the water is filling, I put my hand on the window to see if I can detect the water temperature, but it is always simply cool and smooth, like glass.

My dryer is fancy, too, with all sorts of preset digital possibilities, like a rainbow, like the promise of order, control, and peace. Again, the old Maytag was balls-to-the-wall in the simplicity department. The door to this machine, however, is sort of a blush gold color with a diamond sheen to boot and that almost makes up for its complex settings. It feels really good, too. Just the way the door opens and closes. It’s solid, not as solid as something made in America in the ’40s or ’50s or ’60s, but solid enough. It is a “smart” machine, supposedly, meaning it can detect when the load is dry and so it adjusts its timing either to keep drying a load or to end it before the time-set. It sounds really good, doesn’t it? Environmentally responsible and all and I am all for environmental responsibility. But, 9 times out of 10, I pull those clothes out and they are still damp damp damp dammit!

The dryer also has an interior light and this is up there in the Most Frivolous Features Department. Because only a wimp is afraid of the dark interior of a clothing dryer. But more on the interior light in a moment.

The topper on the Worst Things list for my new dryer is the location of the lint filter. I looked at so many dryers. This one was so pretty, so shiny, so much the last floor model of a discontinued line at such a reduced price. What could I do? Not many dryers have the lint filter low down any more. What dickhead decided to put it ON TOP of the machine? The linty dust goes all over the place, high and low, instead of just low. Oh well. It’s still a beauty. Did I mention that it has a window, too? Yes. This is the only reason to have an interior light on a dryer. To watch the laundry tumbling around in all of its magnificent rising and falling glory.

Folding and hanging to dry. This is perhaps the part of the laundry that I never seem to have the time for, but it is one of the most satisfying. I attribute my stellar folding skills to having a German mother. You should see my mother’s linens. You should see my mother’s kitchen towels. If you open a linen cupboard in my aunt’s house, you’ll see that it is identical to my mother’s.

When I was in college and washed my clothes in the dorms, I would iron my damp linens and hang them to dry, no kidding. What lunacy, and yet, I get it. It is like Susun Weed says about the flowering part of the violet–it is just for show. The real flower, the sexually-reproducing part, appears closer to the ground, hidden and mysterious. But who doesn’t love the violet flower that we see, the showy, the frivolous, the part that attracts, nonetheless, with its fragrance and color?  This is what ironing sheets and linens is to me. I gave it up long ago, but I get it. It’s sexy and it’s attractive and it’s just for turning us on. By the way, like so many of the holy triumvirates that secretly hold the world in place, the tri-fold rules in most applications for the folding of the laundry.

Detergent. People, please. Stop with the scented crap. It’s really, really, really bad for you, for me, for the environment. Really. The birds and bees outside smell your dryer sheets. They don’t like it and it confuses the complex network of their superior odor-collecting senses. When I am driving your children in my carpool, I don’t want them to smell like fake flowers and bullshit chemicals. This is like plastic surgery for clothing. Just stop it. I get headaches from bad detergent scents. They smell fake and crappy, and produce chemically-induced headaches and allergic reactions. Here are some of the fragrances, most of which sound like names of strippers (and my head rings with Tom Waits: “all the donuts have names that sound like prostitutes”), by which you may be tempted: Fresh Water Sparkle; Floral Fusion; Apple Mango Tango; Peony Blossom; Mountain Fresh; Renewing Rain; Hawaiian Aloha.

If you really must use scented detergent, there are a few brands whose fragrances are truly natural, but twinkly here cannot do your research for you. I even find that Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products give me a headache. For supposedly being “all natural,” the fragrances are suspiciously overpowering and chemical-smelling to me. Being a masseuse for so long, I have been using essential oils for nigh 20 years. A drop or two of lavender (a word which, btw, may or may not have its etymological roots in the Latin lavare: http://thewordguy.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/lavender-laev%C9%AAn%CB%8Cd%C9%99/  ) is all I really need if I’m jonesing for scent. Then I know what I’m getting and from where.

You know, etymologically speaking, there is also some contention that “laundress” and “washerwoman” are related to the words for “prostitute, whore; camp follower.” Well, I can assure you that I am no camp follower! There’s also this bit of goddess/whore lore: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bean_nighe

I did find this, if any of you are industrious enough:


Now I know you good environmentalists can chide me and edumacate me about why I don’t need a dryer at all. I know all about the beauty and virtue of clotheslines. But I also gave one up when I moved to Western MA 11 years ago. I have always meant to put one up, but I never got around to it. I do use three different drying racks in the laundry area of my basement. I use these all the time. But I don’t hang towels, jeans, most of Hubby’s shirts, and sheets. I use my dryer for these because I cannot tolerate the stiffness otherwise.

One of the best films I have ever seen was a short, 16mm-documentary called “Clotheslines” by Roberta Cantow. I am not sure if it is still shown anywhere. This was 20 years ago when even a state university in Ohio had a film program and film department. I think of that movie all the time. It is much better than this post and you should look it up and try to get hold of it, absolutely.

Recently, someone said she should pay me to do her laundry. It is true: I should be paid to do people’s wash, I love it so much. But Celebrity Bucks, not dimes, nickels or quarters. Or even more: CEO of Corporation bucks with compensation, year-end mega-bonus, corporate Washing Jet, and Washing Machine Island vacations, thrown in for good measure.

She doesn’t look too happy, does she? Sort of constipated, a forced smile. Still, I like it.

When I did massage, 20 years ago, at The Akron Jewish Center in Ohio, one of my weekly regulars was a woman, 79-years old, named Jeanne Glauberman. Jeanne would say to me, in a thick Yiddish brogue, “If she vants to be a vashervoman, she should be a vashervoman.” And so it is true. She vants to be a vashervoman and so she is.

Hey, did anyone get the title reference? Just vondering.

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You know I love etymologies, oui, ja, si? Here’s one, fairly obvious, but which I could not perceive until I looked it up: Cabaret: French, tap-room, from Middle Dutch cabret, from Old North French camberet, diminutive of cambre, from Late Latin camera, from Ancient Greek kamara (καμάρα) “vaulted chamber.” And now I know where the word camera comes from, too. How interesting and useful!

This weekend I saw the Arena Civic Theater’s production of “Cabaret” at the lovely Shea Theater in Turner’s Falls, MA.

The show was great. Fantastic costumes, choreography, and a very strong cast top my list.

Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli had the iconic lead roles in Bob Fosse’s 1972 movie “Cabaret.” Theirs is a tough act to follow so theater people have to find a way to make anything from “Cabaret” their own. I thought the Emcee in the production at the Shea was strong all around, achieving the Triple Crown of musical theater fairly well–singing, dancing, and acting. I found his performance refreshing, something quite difficult in a role made so famous on film. It’s also an edgy role, so the word “refreshing” might not suit the persona of the Emcee, but it suits me just fine, so there.

Here’s Liza Minnelli doing “Mein Herr.” But don’t set yourself up: I recommend that you first see the production at the Shea and then poke around on youtube. You’ll even find Judy Dench (who knew?) vamping and singing as Sally Bowles. Wow.

If that’s not enough for you, here’s a honey of the intro, “Wilkommen,” from Sam Mendes’ 1998 Broadway revival starring that rapscallion Scotsman, Alan Cumming. A performer who definitely had his way with the role.

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Good, happy, and amazing things this week:

Gogol Bordello

Seeing a band with Hubby


Two of the broad, flat farm fields that we passed on the way to my daughter’s school this morning. There must have been a thousand robins in the low grasses. No kidding, a thousand. I am not a huge fan of robins but this was almost other-worldly. A strange sight, but peaceful and rhythmic in its way. I think they were all pulling up worms.

Certainly the brightest spot these last few days was talking to my great friend Stacey, a friend I have known since at least 6th Grade.

The only reason I came upon Gogol Bordello was because of several references that Stacey made to them on Facebook over the last year or so. This led to my further investigation and desire to see them live.

Stacey had read my Music Monday post this week and yet I reiterated my sad saga, the story of passing Eugene Hutz in the street and not saying so much as “hello.”

At one point in the conversation, she asked me what it was like outside on that day and I said, “Oh, it was pretty warm.”

“What’s warm?”

“Around 50, you know, maybe 52.”

And she let out a rip-roaring laugh. She lives in Miami, F-L-A, and you know, it didn’t even occur to me until she laughed what 50 degrees could mean to someone from warmer climes.

Of course, that is only the tiniest glimpse into our hour-long phone conversation. Every time I have spoken with her over the last two years, I get in some deep laughs. It is this kind of connection with women in my life that carries me as I age, as we age, as our parents whither and sometimes die, as our skin gets closer and closer to the ground, and as we weather the unpredictable, and literal, ebbs and flows of uterine blood.

My contact with Stacey was the “sweet refreshing show’r” of my week and I have been drinking it in every day since. Yassou, Stacey!

A follow up: Last week, I asked for suggestions for a new name for Thursday’s posts. You can read those in the comments from that day, but for the sake of ease, I will summarize:

A Better Day Than Yesterday (I quite like this one and am keeping it under consideration, or some variation thereon).

Big Honking Marital Aids (maybe a bit too silly for the purposes of a Thursday post, but “marital aids” could make a guest appearance here on occasion; you never know)

Also, I cobbled together something like “Take that thing out of your ear” from Pam’s comment. As sweet as it sounds, I don’t think it would adequately point in the direction of things for which I am grateful.

For now, I am sticking with “Thankful Thursday” as the moniker.

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