“Nothing could be sadder, than a glass of wine, all alone.” — Solomon Burke, Cry To Me
Beg to differ honey, but i’ll miss your music…
Solomon Burke, Cry To Me
“Nothing could be sadder, than a glass of wine, all alone.” — Solomon Burke, Cry To Me
Beg to differ honey, but i’ll miss your music…
Solomon Burke, Cry To Me
It’s not like you haven’t heard from me . . . but i suppose you haven’t heard all the tales and tidbits. i DID just make a cross-country move with my darling husband. So let’s see what i can tell you about what it is to move from Virginia to Oregon with everything you own, a car dragging behind you, plus a landlubbing Bengal Cat to which any confinement in a moving vehicle is a personal affront to be met with vociferous fury . . .
We’ll begin with the end of days: the weekend of Saturday August 23rd was my last day of work, i waited on Joe’s family, we said goodbyes and he sold them his car. Sunday afternoon we were off to a baby shower for my dear friend Megan in Annapolis and a late-night fevered packing session on Sunday which brings us early into Monday . . .
Monday morning we were supposed to pick up our Budget Rental truck. Penske doesn’t do it that far and U-Haul was NOT an option by poor reputation and my friends’ numerous horror stories and breakdown variations on a theme so Budget had our business, begrudgingly we were to find out. Due to some unknown fuckery at the rental shop, we received a phonecall in the morning, informing us that our honkin’ monster truck (24 ft) would be available closer to noon as the current drop-off hadn’t arrived, but that they would call when it was ready. It was verging .. 2pm by the time Joe actually went there in person to experience – more fuckery. Apparently, Larry, Curly, Moe (and possibly Shemp) were not capable of doing anything by hand (filling out forms, figuring out taxes) and the whole Eastern seaboard Budget computer system was apparently mysteriously “broken.” Once it came back online, (and partway through the manual entry) they insisted Joe stay to put it all in the computer. My poor husband, fuming, but controlled did not arrive until 3:30. Luckily we had angels waiting for us.
i don’t know what we would’ve done without Jared and Patrick helping us haul things down and load the truck. i don’t know why we thought we could’ve done it by ourselves; we would’ve had to add another whole day to our trip exhausting ourselves getting everything loaded! Of course, the late truck meant later packing, meant later loading meant later cleaning of the apartment, and we really wanted to be out early evening, get somewhere outside of the DC Beltway morning rush hour, hole up in a little motel and rest, and to then start the trek first thing in the am. Well, it wasn’t until after midnight, when we finally packed the vacuum and cleaning supplies. i gave Odin some PetCalm to ease his nerves (but it didn’t, much) while we drove over an hour (an eternity with howling feline) to Hagerstown, Maryland.
A word about the Motel 6 . . . sketch. Okay, lots of snaky S words. Like, skeevy, scary, bars on the window where the night clerk sits, sketchity spookville. We were only here because they had a pet friendly policy, not to save on any moving expenses as they were covered by Joe’s university job. A quick survey of the area (and the big sign about NO TRUCKS) and it was clear we had to park the moving truck (24 ft + now the extra 10ft or more with my car in a flatbed tow) at the shopping mall lot across the way. We figured it was ok to do since other trucks were parked similarly.
But just to be sure, Joe asked the clerk, “Is it ok to park over there?” motioning to the direction of the trucks.
The clerk offered a nervous, and falsely reassuring answer, “yeah – a security guard patrols there every hour or so. Any room preference?”
“Where we can see the truck,” Joe said plainly.
So, Odin got settled quickly (he can bed down anywhere, he just hates MOVING in a vehicle), chowed down, did some encouraging kitty business in the newly re-located litterbox and perched himself at the highest point in the room, the tv, to survey his new domain. We pulled the scratchy, toilet paper thin bedsheets over us and commenced sleeping into morning one of our cross-country adventure.
The next morning, it was the breakfast buffet at Shoney’s which smelled like greasy, eggy-bacon heaven floating atop pancake clouds; evil and delicious but the type of meal one could not hork down shamelessly every morning without regret or consequence. Our waitress was pleasant, quick and dirty with the coffee cups and water and plodded through the standard “Hello, my name is ______, and i’ll be your server today.” There wasn’t any fresh fruit, unless you counted all the sugary canned ones for pancake toppings, but there were three types of gravy to include chipped beef and four types of potatoes – all fried.
And boy howdy it hurt my soul; there were some very unhealthy, ungainly, unhappy people milling around the breakfast bar. People shuffled up with oxygen tanks and walkers, sort of a One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest revisited meets Dawn Of The Dead, and honestly, forgive me for this description, but between all the medical equipment, the staggering display of obesity, and the general slow-moving malaise owing to an early morning it was not an easy square to maneuver. Conversely, the buffet was patrolled and replenished by a pasty, skinny, pock-marked, shifty-eyed, surlier than Satan, quick-handed, would be mass-murderer type, luckily armed only with a few spatulas. i hesitated to ask for anything that might come off sounding like a snooty, pain in the ass dietary concern, should Jethro James Manson, Jr. decide this was his morning to “waste ’em all.”
The bill didn’t amount to much, as we had a per diem for food in our moving expenses, so Joe left the waitress a $10 tip.
“Whoa, what’s that say?” the cash register jockey drawled, incredulously.
Joe is lovely, but his hand-writing is difficult and deeply codified, plus the pen was a little dry, so i assumed the numbers were hard to make out.
“Joe went back over the numbers in pen and told him “Ten dollars.”
“Wow! That’s a great tip.” This was the lottery to this guy.
As a waitress in fine dining where the average low end tip is a straight $20, this statement made me terribly sad, but i could see the grubby, wrinkled, single bills and piles of change emptied from pockets and cup holders, piled on dirty tables under brown coffee mugs as we walked by, looking more like several police searches than gratuities. We must’ve made, “Hello, my name is ______, and i’ll be your server today”‘s day.
We wound our way through Appalachia through the first of many many miles of corn on our way to Indianapolis.
What should’ve been an 8-hour drive grew into a 12-hour nitemare of three terrible realizations. One – we had one angry, frightened, inconsolable cat (no matter how much herbal tranquilizer administered) who slept for 20 minutes and howled and climbed windows, dashboard and floorboard the other 40. Two – a mysterious idiot light came on depicting a wrench and an oilcan. This to me meant “You’re fucked, Tin Man.” After one of the first tiffs my sweet husband and i ever had about how to handle this second crap-laden fact, we decided the best course was to pull over and call the Budget help line. After being jockeyed through the phone system of choices, we finally pushed enough numbers and spoke to an informed human service agent who wasn’t reading verbatim from the “How-To Talk To The Pissed And Stranded” manual. She spoke to an actual mechanic who assured us it was simply an early warning oil change interval and that we could tell the delivery place on the other end that it came on and needs the service. They even told us how to disable it, but we never did. And finally, Three – with footnotes a) & b) were realizations we made about the truck. a) it laughed at and evaporated fuel – 5 miles to the gallon. b) uphill grades any steeper than say 4%, with the pedal to the metal resulted in the hazard lights being flicked on and a maximum speed of 35mph.
After we finally arrived in Indianapolis to my sister’s place, hair matted, mood dampened, cat howling, with furrowed brow, exhausted and hungry as hostages, we came around to the idea that we had to add a day to our ambitious arrival time. This was decided over a fabulous pork dinner and several ears of corn on the cob plus two bottles of wine. We also decided (and thankfully, my sister and her husband agreed) to leave Odin to stay with them for a week for a later flight retrieval operation that my poor Joe volunteered for. It was clear that completing the rest of the trip with kitty in the cab would make for a longer, more difficult, harrowing and stressful journey – for all of us. Let’s just say that Odin is not easily calmed or sedated, by natural, herbal, homeopathic, psychological, or pharmacological means. On the two-leg (no direct flights from Indy) trip home, he even managed to surf above the double dose of chicken flavored kitty Valium and maintained a constant meow from under the seat, save for the last hour. Joe reports that he made lots of friends on the planes. When Odin did finally arrive, he was all hyped up. Apparently, diazepam, instead of having the nice calming effect, can cause a paradoxical reaction and instead make a human (or bad kitty) wildly alert and excitable. So Odin, above the normal exploratory passes that go along with an animal in new surroundings, paced, mewed, jumped from window to window and trotted from room to room with a lack of coordination and on wobbly legs until pretty much the next morning when he was able to settle in and have a good long sleep. And he’s doing fine now . . .
But back to the adventures of the Janda’s cross-country excursion . . .
Getting fuel was always exciting. Finding diesel in Hellhole, Nebraska often required the help of my fancy new Instinct phone’s GPS Navigation, then it was determining whether we could get the moving truck under, around and out of places without jackknifing, tearing off the trailer or bringing down awnings and taking out gas pumps. EVERY stop, which was more frequent with the awesome fuel consumption, required this exercise in mathematical probability and turning radius.
The cities moved on as I downloaded the local weather. Amazing to me that i could find where we were and what was close by to eat or refuel by the help of Jenny (the name i have dubbed my cell phone’s navigational voice, as in: “Jenny Jenny, where do i turn now? 867-530 ni-eeee-ine.” and yes, Iain . . . a tip o’ the hat to you as well on the name.) Lore City, OH – Grass Lake, MI – Normal, IL – Exira, IA, Waverly, NE – Grand Island, NE. Oh, which by the way, appears to be in the center, like a bullseye dart throw at the US map. However, Grand Island is, as far as i can tell, neither “grand” nor an “island” and is not even remotely near water. Or culture. Or . . .
The waitstaff at the local Perkins gave me very confused looks when, upon having my own oolong tea, i simply requested a pot of hot water, a pitcher of milk and a cup.
“So, you want a glass of milk, like orange juice?” Lloyd asked.
“No, i want a small container, for milk instead of cream, like for coffee,” i tried to explain. He brought me a pitcher of milk normally reserved for syrup and a plastic carafe big enough for 8 cups of coffee but filled with hot water and still, sadly, no vessel to put any of my tea in. 2 out of 3 wasn’t bad i supposed. i was finally able to flag down another waitress to ask for a coffee mug since i was certain tea cups were not to be had. forget about latte mugs too in case i wanted to make a BIG cup of tea . . .
In Rock Springs, Wyoming we stayed on Elk Street at the “Outlaw Inn” Best Western, ordered my first breakfast in bed and watched my first episode of “It’s Me Or The Dog.” We had traveled all nite through so much flatland (called the Great Plains for a reason, clearly – they go on plainly forever) and when we woke up, we were surprised that we found ourselves in the desert. Rocky, golden stoned climbs and scrubby green & brown foliage dotted the hillsides and ground like so many funny little clown wigs left out in the sun after the carnival left town and never came back. But here’s what surprised me. Sure, we laughed at first, because the winds picked up and there were some honest to goodness TUMBLEWEEDS moving across the road which to me, signals true desolation and nowhereness. Then the sky grew ominous, black and bruised and instead of being hot and blazing, it rained through most of our trip through the desert and on our way as we dipped barely into Utah north of Salt Lake and on into Idaho.
And can i just say here, forgive me if you grew up in, lived or currently live in Idaho, because, i know the northern part is beautiful, but damn. Boise proper, from the road and some of the rare farms and outlying suburbs hurt a little to look at. It was hard for me to imagine where you would live, where you would work, how far you had to drive, the manner and means by which you’d survive. Strange domiciles huddled like hungry masses, bumped up against and thrown together in a manner almost suburban, but more like third world dilapidated houses of clap-trap metal sheds and sheets, some barely wooden, functional farmlike lean-tos. Meant for animals. Weathervanes on top seemed an unnecessary after thought. A spritely windchime tinkling and floating off a broken fence made me sad. i hesitate to say soul-crushing, but it did approach that. Once, after a batch of mean road food, we rolled down the windows to umm . . . get some fresh air, and were assaulted by an even worse smell. and here’s where tasting food and wine and trying to disseminate spices, essences, flavors and smells comes in, though i hope to never come across any food or beverage of the sort. i can only describe the smell in Idaho as a dead squirrel/rodent rolled in mocha and put on a pyre of leaves. It had a pungent, smoky, mocha, sweet, rotting meat, dead, acrid, burnt, dry smell that was enough to make us prefer our own flatulence. damn.
Crossing over into Oregon, we stayed in Baker City at the Oregon Trail Motel & Restaurant to prepare for the last leg of our journey into Portland. What a funny, little old, almost stagecoach town. The room was cheap, and included free breakfast the next morning, which was delightful and a good thing, because our first dinner in Oregon, was when we arrived there near closing time to have a most disappointing steak dinner. flavorless, tough, square shaped strip steak (definitely frozen and hauled in), grey-tinged green beans, sad and soggy (definitely canned and not sautéed), and a dusty baked potato (the best part, sadly) which could’ve benefitted from a good wash and less time in foil, so it was easier to strip it out to eat. we probably should’ve had to the fried chicken dinner special that the kooky local ordered when he bellied up to the counter, because he ordered a second plate. but then again, “special” to me in the far restaurant outreaches does not mean “fresh today, on the mind of the chef,” it means, “get this scary shit out of the kitchen before it violates health code.”
Speaking of health code . . . the not so sanitary, no sneeze-guard, precursory salad bar on a small wheeled cart had a threatening sign tacked to it about allowing only one visit with no sharing and one plate per person limit. This plate, by the way, had a 4in diameter, enough to hold a slice of bread with some overhang. and the usual sad green fare of anemic looking iceberg lettuce, limp, shredded carrots, sulfurous purple cabbage, some unidentifiable, unnaturally colored, jiggling gelatinous something, creamy thick dressings, crushed into sawdust croutons, and luckily for me, some watermelon. a rare one-off fruit treat with more crunch, water, and possibly more nutrients than the iceberg lettuce.
i know – i am spoiled. of course, i did not expect to pass through the middle of the heartland, the dairyland, the plains, the land of plenty and to have a diverse and delicate gourmet experience, but being that close to corn, vegetables, grains and cows, i had my standards set high enough that i might actually receive something on a plate that tasted farm raised and had enough color to shine through the blue pallored spectrum of fluorescent lighting that haunts every diner. i realize, i may come off as a food snob, but more i find myself grateful. it occurs to me how fortunate i am to work in an industry and now live in a city and state where culinary excellence, even in the simplest of places, hinges on fresh, whole, organic, local, seasonal, and sustainable food sources. you can taste the difference, people. tomatoes that aren’t pale pink, mealy and flavorless. Strawberries that although smaller than the grocery bought flats, stain the fingers and taste sweet and heavenly. i made a soup last week with these huge gnarly carrots, just pulled from the ground, bundled with the tops on and even after boiling were the most amazing flavorful carrots i’ve ever eaten.
So on the tip of food et al, we’ve been hitting the wine bars, the sake bars, the breweries, the Saturday Farmer’s Market, dinner here and there and lots cooking at home. a few weeks back, my friend Tiffany and i went to the Portland Classical Chinese Garden where we had a traditional tea and ate a red bean mooncake to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Joe and i have already met new people and are definitely getting some socializing done. on one such event, i even canned peaches and tomatoes w/ garlic and green peppers for sauces. first months out here out here and were discovering how to compost, rethinking everything i throw away, recycling the hell out of EVERYTHING i touch, and putting food into Ball jars for the winter! holy granola! stop me if i cease wearing deodorant, let my hair dread, get a nose or lip piercing, go on road trips to support jam bands and start practicing hacky sack in my backyard, k?
One of the prettiest parts of the trip – The Columbia Gorge . . .
i’m the impatient type. i’m the girl who wants to feel established and settled the minute i set foot in a new situation. i crave quick learning and acclimation and seem to give myself a bit of hell if i don’t have all my systems, rituals and routines in place. Joe’s sister, Laura reminded us (me, really, who needs the patience and the temperance) that we are setting up a HOME, not just a house or living space, so i should just ease into it without spazzing out too much. but yes, the “house” is mostly setup and the “home” bit is starting to warm in me. we have been sleeping fitfully in a new king-sized bed, (Odin’s all about it too!) the weather has been stellar to mild, with yes, some rain here and there though we’ve apparently entered the rainy season. But Indian Summer came and went in full-swing (it was in the 90’s a few days in the first weeks of arrival and not a drop of rain) and i am certainly enjoying my little garden, deck space, cool mornings, quiet breakfasts and tea in a sunny kitchen, dinners & wine with my Joe and friends. it’s all been quite good. And i know it’s going to be at least a year until all things truly settle, i have a solid base of friends, a job i enjoy and can get all the way around socially and physically without getting lost.
As for our immediate locale – there’s a little coffee house nearby and as we walk down to it, we get a clear view of Mt. Hood, and off to the left, Mt. St. Helens (which i read are two “active” stratovolcanos, kind of “exciting”). there are pear trees along the walk, overflowing and dropping in the grass – ah, the spoils. In our yard, we have roses lining the wooden fence, blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, fennel, ferns, lavender, rosemary, sage, hydrangea and little bursts of wild flowers. In fact, this year i am putting in Spring bulbs and next year, i think i will revive the tomatoes, put in cucumbers and plant squash.
i put out hummingbird feeders and they’ve come and i put out a regular seed feeder and the loudass squawking Scrub and Stellar Jays (plus some sweet Chickadees) have depleted it twice. the squirrels are plentiful – one (or a party of several) gnawed through our Comcast dropline to the house, so we had to have our internets fixed the first few days here. they also chase and skitter across the length of our roof top and you can hear the entire scrabbling pursuit from room to room. This drives Odin wild! Bad little tree rats!
Joe got his haircut at this little local barbershop on the corner by this big brawny tough dude named Justice who had two teensy-weensy grey kittens scurrying about that his friend dumped on him and now he has seemingly been forced to adopt. Their names are Guns & Roses. seriously. And, as recent pictures depict, i also whacked my hair off. it’s a bit curly and untame unless i brush it down some and straighten it, but i like the shortness. Hair clips are my friends.
The fine people i worked with in Virginia bought Joe and i a most original going away gift. A hot air balloon ride over Yamhill wine country which ends in a catered hot, champagne/mimosa brunch! We’re going to try to fit that in while the weather holds . . . but, there is always Spring and Summer next year.
Joe started work on September 15th, and me, after hitting craigslist like a whore, i’ve had a few bites and started a job that’s going to require endurance of some growing pains, but i won’t bore you with those details here. i’m not one to talk shop and air dirty laundry of how i trade time for money; it’s one of those questions i’ve always hated and dislike answering. “So – what do you do?” Of course, i grew a bit bored being a lady of leisure but there are some things i loved about it, like seeing my husband during normal evening hours for dinner in or out and watching or reading things together. Life moves slower here, hours go slower. Life is more leisurely it seems, and it’s not just lack of full-on social or work obligations either, it seems to be an engrained mindset.
On September 23rd, Joe and i celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary. We had a low key day of salad, pizza and beer, some board games with some rosé champagne, some tv time, some private time, and some blissful sleep. The beer and first bottle of bubbly did us in, so we didn’t get to some really nice champagne gifted to us last year, but there was always lunch the next day . . . and me, i never need a celebratory excuse to crack the bubbly.
Well, two things i am looking forward to out here – Halloween and voting. Both bring a certain level of ghoulish fright and giddy excitement. It’s safe to say that by lawn and houses alone, it appears that Oregon is largely an Obamanation. (heh!) Voter registration was made pretty easy for us: they got me in front of an organic market out here, and Joe at the Saturday Farmer’s market. It was convenient and fast, done by the last four of my SS (since i don’t have an OR license yet) and the voter’s card arrived days later. Apparently, we send all of our ballots in by mail here, which surprised me. i was really hoping to go into a secret squirrel booth for my first voting experience. But hey – no nervousness about machines to manipulate and no hanging chads. i wonder if it’s a scantron?
And if you need to go back a few lines, yes . . . that’s right. MY FIRST. in all my 36 years i have never been registered to vote. Never cared for the process, and living near DC never endeared me to the constant conversation, the dogged preoccupation nor the convocation. (Apologies to my friends for whom it is an occupation.) But i am doing it this year. i am fortunate to survive and do well in as they say, “times like these,” and it occurs to me that being politically active when it counts is by extension, a survival tactic to hold onto all the ideals in life that brought Joe and i out here in the first place.
Oregon is already proving itself as some manner of heaven and a lifestyle i can love.
So come visit us! We have a nice guest room in the basement, right next to the wine cellar.
The single life. one, long, nocturnal highway punctuated by a series of sort of happy zen moments, mostly spent, understood and eventually, at the end of the day, savoured alone. a long rebuilding and recollecting of the self-same parts gone missing, redistributed amongst friends and the short-lived lovers who would not, could not pass muster. being single is like constantly advertising the “me” product when it’s still in upgrades while also having to sell insurance on it. “Hey – look, if you don’t buy this ever-developing thing and protect your investment, it could end up broken/ruined/dead. and no one wants that to happen.”
Some people are never better, never more attractive, self-contained and complete than when they are single. still others are needy, greedy vacuous, emotional suckholes of doom, spinning out like a constant slow-motion car wreck that you can’t help but turn away from. or watch intently. They hang on the next lover or emotional contact like their last meal – slathering on the butter and scraping up the crumbs even after the bread and the baker has up and fled. lust-dealers. killers. short-term serial monogamists who poach at any small game instead of waiting for great hunt and the big (right) catch.
Still, for me, the single life was a strange and glorious one marked with self-discovery and self-satisfaction and the time to write it all down and reflect. and i write this now, not to scare anyone into thinking i miss being single because, in oh-so-many-ways, i don’t. also, i do not intend to make mean or light of what single people, especially women endure to find a suitable lifelong love and all the tiresome expectations and pressures that go along with it. i write it now more as an epitaph to the life I led before and left life, singular, for life, coupled.
The coupled life finds its satisfying breath, its reflective homage basking in the light of the other person, and thus, like a mirror, in the best reflection of the self. “hey baby, you make me not only feel good, but look good too. in fact – i like the way i love because i love you and i love me too.”
Both exercises in singularity and coupledom allow for the same Narcissus to bloom, and the Echo of the self to end. There is within all of us, simultaneous urges: we want desperately to be noticed and needed and also, not be too conspicuous and to be left the hell alone. As one, you can find peace and stillness but, i’ve discovered, you can find it also as two and it’s a lot more meaningful and fun when you can turn to the other person and exclaim, “wow, did you SEE that shit?” suddenly, all those universal signs you look for, all the hidden text and life’s directional maps are no longer for one to decode. the synchronous workings of a gorgeous love affair and the cosmic stamps of approval come trickling at first. they begin in days long conversation where you discover all the uncanny similarities in taste and preoccupations and decide you’ve been separated for too long and are just now making up for lost time. then the fullness of it comes flooding in under the guise of divine and perfect love making and you find yourself practicing and partaking of each other until you fuse together. it’s a blissful time of unraveling.
When you’re wrapped up in your oneness, it seems like everyone knows your business, while in duplicity, like a twin-secret, only the other knows. or whomever you tell. having everyone know your business makes for good storytelling, though. every nite of your life is being courted at a costume ball of strangers on Halloween. which makes dating rather like trick-or-treating. and you think you’ve arrived because the band knows your name and they play your song when you make an appearance and the bartender knows your drink and you find yourself eating candy necklaces off the roving necks of a gaggle of girls in a bachelorette party, hoisting blow up dolls named Ramone over your head, drinking free champagne and sent drinks, guessing the weight of a lobster and winning dinner, ghost-chasing, line-dancing, boardwalking, tripping over the sidewalk and losing your glass flip-flop and the Prince Charming purported to return that missing shoe turns out instead to be your slightly annoyed neighbor who heard your giggly drunk ass cry wee wee wee all the way home and now stands on your doorstep, waking you from your mean hangover if only to be satisfied to see your face, swollen with sleep now just as disturbed as his was. and that’s just one Saturday nite at the bar. oh dear. how very common.
All wild nites not-withstanding, i worried for a time that i was, as i am fond of saying, slowly “cultivating my crazy cat-lady mystique.” luckily one of the qualifiers is four or more cats, so having only one, i was down a few felines. i never feared i might not be taking myself seriously and having too much fun – i feared that i would take myself TOO seriously, and dive headlong into a career of sorts and dry up inside, reverting instead to buying my own chunk of real estate and feathering my nest, collecting things and blocking out every chance a man would walk willingly into my life or personal lair of accomplishment and acquisitions. i kept my life wide open in hopes that i would be more malleable and mutable when i did find love.
This philosphy of life and my adherence to it developed partially after visiting the home of Madison. My friend Marcy was house sitting for “Madison,” who lives in this sort of, as best as i can describe, Victorian home in Annapolis just a few blocks from where i used to live. Here’s the picture: a fine array of authentic, extremely antiquated French Provinical furniture including wing back chairs, burgundy crush velvet couches and throw pillows that have undoubtedly housed and fed generations of dust mites since 1865 which now sit cool and still like taxidermied trophies. i kept imaging all the smallish bodies that have swooned at their bindings and draped themselves across the chairs and sofas and wondered if it’s me, despite my narrow frame, that would make the legs finally give and render one of them no longer sitworthy.
The bathroom boasted plates from old nature books of flowers, the walls and tables displayed photos of ancestors that may or may not have been hers. vellum lamps with scenes of indeterminable French countrysides and waltzing partners lit the rooms with the dim yellow of sallow skin. vanity tables with wash basins & pitchers sat dusty, unused and waiting, as did perfectly displayed bone china tea sets and house plants that looked like they’ve spent some time traveling and growing in many many windows. even the dishes that sat behind the glass cabinets like ladies in waiting in the only modern room, the newly remodeled kitchen, were in contrast, quite old.
Although warm looking in texture and color, the house was more at museum and mausoleum than a collection of sitting rooms. at any time, i expected Abraham Lincoln or Elizabeth Barrett Browning or some long dead ghost to traipse through the room, straighten their suit jacket or skirt, sit down with a swan-like flourish and engage me in parlour talk. After all, mourning and preparation for burial of the deceased were occasions for such a place, the parlour which we now call the “living” room. Being there amongst all the antiquities was a transporting feeling, time out of mind, but NOT in that way that a room textured in burlap and velvet and heavy silk and gold framed photos and plants should. it’s more like you have just crossed the forbidden velvet rope in a historical period museum display and sat down in your dusty blue jeans and wiped your funnel cake and ice cream coated hands on the drapes and marveled at how dainty and formal everything was.
It felt sacrilege to have the tiny tv on in the room, which i think might’ve been black and white, but perhaps i am embellishing here. It was tuned (poorly and perhaps not by cable) to CSI, but Marcy insisted on finishing the episode about the triple homicide, which also made my mind wander to who may have been killed around this furniture and if black lights would reveal blood or cat piss or bone fragments or . . . so i suggested we turn off the tv after and listen to the new Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine which worked well for atmosphere what with its galloping calliope sounds and carnivalesque piano and spare strings and bell-like instrumentations.
Lyrics came pointedly,
“If you don’t have a date,
Go out and sit on the lawn
And do nothing.
‘Cause it’s just what you must do
And nobody does it anymore . . .”
While the music played, i made do with the tea to enhance the mood and we thumbed through magazines and books and sat quietly listening.
Madison has two cats – Lili, a squat, rotund, grey, black and white tabby with bright, gold eyes like doubloons and a very timid voice. Meow comes out a squeaky, whispered “meert.” Then there’s Henry. A lion lord, red, furry fuck of a cat. Henry decided we were great friends and so Marcy observed and laughed (thankful it was not her this time) as he climbed the back of the couch, sat behind my head, purred directly in my ear, then began to “groom” me. He would grab a mouthful of my hair and bite at it, like a little monkey, then pull it through his teeth and gnash a bit. And he’s strong – so my head went back some with his tugs. Really amusing, a little unsettling, and oddly relaxing too.
i hope Marcy is not offended that i should offer up her long-single and very successful, well-educated, well-read and well-traveled friend to the chopping block as an example of the woman i was most afraid of becoming. Because re-reading the above sentence, most of the qualifiers seem pretty desirable and difficult to attain ideals, but concentrate on the introductory statement – “long-single.” something went just a little horribly wrong there. Madison, upon meeting was not so much the graceful, distinguished lady at court in her home as she was the shrewd and tense rabbit, quick on her heels and ready to bite, with little provocation. i wondered had she been married? had she any children? i mean, she didn’t need to have any historical evidence of men in her life, was she instead just a closeted or outed lesbian? was she just unhappy or happy being alone? how did she afford all this strangely lavish but lovely nonsense that padded her home? did she actually sit at that vanity table and comb her hair 300 strokes until it was a groomed horse tail or 500 strokes later, a fine, fox pelt ?
i padded out the door that nite into a light and thought-provoking drizzle and thought about old things, like writing letters to send to friends the old-fashioned way. i even purchased a wax seal with a golden bumblebee and some silver sealing wax.
i actually like sending letters and cards covered in stickers and random doodles or decorations. sometimes it is artwork or pasted text of my own or words cut out from places. the recipients always enjoy it and it’s a nice labor of love to send something homemade to friends. the art of letter writing is not dead, it is just somewhat supplanted by email and phonecalls, so i like the exercise of making a compact hello and keeping it light and cheery with a little bit of news, anecdote, story, mention of old, good times and promise of new ones. and always . . . always love at the end.
i have these friends who we tell each other that we love one another at the closing of letters and phonecalls, not just when we do something nice that pleases us. i’m always so happy when i reach the point where we can express that with people we aren’t actually tethered to sexually and mean love not as salve and bandage or frosting and fluff or wax seal of official business and stature of the relationship that when forgotten to be said or non-exchangeable or refundable becomes grounds for hurt feelings. there is proper etiquette for courting, but it’s all long since vanished so we should all just shrug and give into loving with abandon.
it’s easy to stay frozen in time, to accumulate goodness and sameness, to work on a theme, to breed familiarity and then forget to stay in touch with the current. it’s much harder to start over and reinvent and reinterpret and rework and redecorate. well, unless you consider Madison’s house, then yes – that place could use some new, infused love. unconditional, wildly colorful, moist, biker leathered and Victorian laced, ginger-flavored, spicy, whip-cream, lathered love.
Because damn, if you don’t use it, the source of the well runs dry, sister. and people start dredging up the old names, and tossing them out of the bucket, even for a modern single woman: Spinster, Old Maid, Crazy Cat Lady, Witch. i certainly didn’t want to find myself walking along and suddenly hear a tinkling, clattering sound as my shriveled up cooter dropped out and skittered along the pavement like a wheat penny. “This belong, to you madam?” “Why yes, it did, but i’ve forgotten all about it dear sir! thank you ever so much for reminding me.”
And if you get to that point, honey, close enough to need whetting, they’ll be no more fucking around – it’s time that you had a ravishing laid upon in the manner of a mongol horde. And if you’re wondering how the mongolians do it, they don’t barbeque you before they screw you, it’s done in big groups, with horses. just like some of the freakier Victorians did as a backlash to all that propriety.
But it’s ok – i’m no stranger to odd voices and old muses. i should explain sometime about how i see (channel) writing and how i have a few special guest stars who visit and stand in and they have very distinct voices. one muse who occasionally enters the vessel is a familiar – she’s that sloppy, silly little tart who has no regard for punctuation and lays in bed and eats chocolate covered shortbread cookies and gives me pimples from all the sugar and likes the smell of lavender and of rose water because it reminds her of Victorian times and flush, pinched cheeks and corsets and outrageous shoes defying height and comfort and daisies and lace doilies and hard candy in crystal dishes and salt water taffy from trips to the boardwalk and somehow, she does always come back around to sugar and scent and will stay up to watch the sunrise to prove a point. once she told me to write:
“i like watching a sunrise as it goes from a bruised black-blue purple, to cranberry red, to a smoky salmon color, and then onto a misty yellow, like the inside of a lemon rind with patches of high white, then transitioning back to pale blue. It’s like peeling back the layers of a foreign fruit or pushing something inside out until it yields the thing you know it has tucked away and want to see. Sky surgery. Post-mortem of a long, dark, tangled enchanted night.”
And since i met Joe, he’s been my twin half sharing many long, enchanted evenings. some to include firesides and brandy and all the finery and a spot of world travel and a good amount of wine and a multiple spots of tea. i haven’t written in so long, yet – so much life has happened. and over the series of a few installments, so your eyes don’t hurt and my topic doesn’t wander off course, i’m about to tell you . . . as a newly reformed single-minded but deliciously happy Spindle Maid at the loom.
Listening to: Let It Die – Feist
::: ::: ::: :::
I’m tired of screwin’ up, tired of goin’ down,
Tired of myself, tired of this town.
Oh my, my, oh hell yes
Honey put on that party dress.
Buy me a drink, sing me a song,
Take me as I come, cause I can’t stay long . . .
Last Dance With Mary Jane ~ Tom Petty
::: ::: ::: :::
My first act of 2006, at the stroke of midnite, I chased my birth control pill with a glass of red wine. I sure hope that is some funky premonition for love, protection and celebration. 2 weeks into the New Year, I saw a Friday the 13th followed by a Full Moon Saturday – what a witchy week! And no winter white in sight. It’s been strange weather in the high 50s to 60s some days, rainy with a thin veil of fog and this strange wind coiling, whispering around the boat masts, whipping the lines to into clanging night bells, making the canvas into flapping voices. Then this wicked cold moved in, more high winds and sleet, but NO snow. Global Warming anyone?
Seriously, we just don’t have winters like we used to, but the Farmer’s Almanac claims it’s coming . . .
The nitelife here in my “home-for-now-town” is, umm – interesting. I am living in (as the locals paste on t-shirts) a drinking town with a sailing problem. Midshipmen on the wander, plus drunken, bloated congressional types and supposed professionals making laughable passes at me, wearing striped shirts and power ties, riding power boats, power mowers and eating power lunches while I try to escape and go take a power nap.
But there is an artist conclave here – some of them are advertising successfully, playing music, photographing, sculpting, painting, recombining, pack-ratting, twisting and forming new shapes. Some of them have already slept with everyone of the same ilk, hacking the local six degrees of separation down to a fearsome three or two.
Then there are people like me, or what I imagine to be the way i am perceived by the way I project myself. Living in Maryland eight years, a few interesting jobs, a little bit of recognition in the photo department via contests and small tea house for sale hangings. I garnered a good collection of friends and acquaintances, spurned a few, stalled a few others, gave more still gigantic berth and avoidance and still, I don’t feel like a townie—like I belong here utterly. my sense of here and now and then owing only to the people I love and who love me in return. When I wander down the street, we familiars nod to each other. We may not have broken bread or put down a bottle of wine or shared a secret, but we know each other’s faces.
I know I’ve been less involved, but as I’ve sort of stated prior, my real life outside of my online community involvement has been so full, full of changes, and engaging.
changes and growing bring in new things while simultaneously initiating a whole exodus of others. also, i have come to realize, though it has pained me to be so upset, that i have had to go inside and question myself about all of it – particularly the recent issues i’ve seem to run up against with personalities and people whom i’ve previously counted as friends. i have concluded that it is largely THEIR problem and not mine. all the little insults i’ve been experiencing in my life recently, the little setbacks, i now view as some sort of cosmic insistence nudging me to get out of my brain, to finish my journey within and start implementing the change without. That is to say, recognize the things i have been and gone without and the necessary psychic changes i need to achieve balance again: such as a job where i feel appreciated, friends who i respect and who love me as i love them, the places and people with which i conduct business and pleasure. some of these things have changed or evaporated or fallen away or have demanded my immediate attention over the last 6 months since my life imploded last June. oddly enough, most of this inspirational need for balance arrived as a sort of vision as i lay in shivasana, or corpse pose, after a very hot and strenuous yoga practice. during meditation, the instructor encouraged us to find and practice strength and balance both on the mat (in here) and off the mat (out there) and to remember to breathe deeply through the difficult places and painful times.
i have allowed myself the time to heal, to adjust, to date, to make a mess of things and to make sense of others, to get my head screwed on straight and the new self-focus has been challenging, but re-defining in a good way. it has been mind-blowing at times, mind-bending at others, and still mind-numbing further on. it has been terrifically magical. it has been terribly lonely. it has been encouraging. it has been disheartening. it has been more living than i have done in quite some time and i am grateful for whatever force took my little snowglobe world into their hands and shook the unholy fuck out of it to see how i would deal with the fallout. it has snowed powerful weather down on me. it has grown still. i have begun digging out and winter isn’t nearly over. i don’t want to be cold when i stand up. i don’t want to have to lay down and curl inside to feel warm. i am weary of turning on my side, of laying between two pillows like an infant with bumper pads in my crib bed to prevent me from hurting myself or in my case, to feel like no matter which way i roll over, there is always someone there. i fall asleep clasping my own hand in front of me like a prayer to myself, like a pleading gesture to the world. i find myself waking in tree poses, with one leg drawn in and knee cocked out forming a triangle, a branch to crawl up on. i’m tired of sleeping just so i can dream.
i am not utterly disenchanted with my beloved Maryland, but lately, i have toyed with the idea of moving far far away from here and wiping everything clean to get that needed change. and why not just change everything? i don’t have a mortgage, i don’t have children or a mate. i have no real ties. i can travel, i can make a plan, i can set up shop and re-invent life anywhere. i can succeed so long as i define success by tangible, meaningful terms.
Hope explained to me once that black flies, those things that are dark and draining are attracted to the light. i have always tried to maintain my childlike approach to things, to live lightly and to be a beacon of positive energy for myself and for others, to truly believe that i lead a charmed life no matter how high or low i exist, and to understand that all things come to me and through me when they are needed, even minor and major tragedies are blessings and have reasons. this is so much easier and sweeter than spitting in the face of fate and choosing to NOT imbue my life with meaning. people who don’t appreciate my honesty, my kindness, my bluntness, what i consider my lucky charm, my good fortune, my powers of gentle persuasion and genuine openness, my willingness to accept, to forgive and also – my occasional quick-snap judgment when i remove someone from my life because they cause me grief or harm me – i do this now to protect myself. like a mantra i have to tell myself i am not a bad person. i do not need to be punished. i am good and worthy and deserve more for myself and i expect others to treat themselves the same way. anyone who chooses to be a victim, to victimize themselves, to victimize ME and to make anyone in their surroundings miserable as a result needs to get the hell out of my way and off the path i’m cutting.
I have no need to take on broken people as pet projects, as I am my own work in progress. I studied psychology to understand human behavior, to avoid the pitfalls of lower thinking and feeling and to learn to be more human, more flexible and better adjusted, and how to recognize when someone is NOT and to escape those trappings. Though I often attract friends and lovers who need fixing by some general impetus that drives me to help and to heal, I still prefer people who can swing with it and be happy in themselves, and NOT blame me for their own social/emotional shortcomings when things don’t work out for them.
People are generally uncomfortable with bearing their emotions and being honest with others, especially themselves. There are, however, exceptions to the rule . . . there is a website that updates every Sunday called Post Secret. Frank Warren, the man who created the interactive art project began by printing 3,000 postcards with a message that invited their finders to write a personal, anonymous secret on the blank side and mail it back to him. He left the postcards in art galleries, restaurants, between pages of library books and on subway seats. And as the postcards started trickling back to his mailbox, he began posting a few of them each week at what has become one of the web’s most popular blogs. (Ranked 55th among BlogPulse’s top 10,000 blogs.)
Even after they 3,000 were in, they still kept coming. They arrived from all over the world in many languages – even in Braille type. The project combines art, poetry and psychological candor in ways that few other endeavors have, and that’s what makes it so fascinating to Warren, a self-described “accidental artist.” (Some secrets on the blog, where about 20 new cards are posted each week: “By the time you read this, I’ll be drunk again.” “I’ve been giving oral sex to a pastor for the past 5 years. He’s married. I don’t believe in God.” “I am a breast cancer survivor. Sometimes I wish the cancer had killed me.” And on a New Yorker subscription card: “I think it makes me look smart to subscribe. But I only like to read the cartoons!”).
He still collects them, and continues to invite people “to anonymously contribute … secrets. Each secret can be a regret, hope, funny experience, unseen kindness, fantasy, belief, fear, betrayal, erotic desire, feeling, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything – as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before..”
Instructions are to “Create your 4-by-6-inch postcards out of any mailable material. If you want to share two or more secrets, use multiple postcards. Put your complete secret and image on one side of the postcard.
Please consider mailing in a follow-up email describing the effect, if any, the experience had on your life.
Be brief – the fewer words used the better.
Be legible – use big, clear and bold lettering.
Be creative – let the postcard be your canvas.”
I go to the PostSecret website every Sunday like a newfound religion. Recently, the cards were assembled into a book: PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives and then put on display as an exhibit in Washington DC.
Getting into Georgetown on any given evening around happy hour to park and entertain oneself is always a logistical nitemare. And the nite was already a carpool all over town posse, picking up friends who had other commitments for dinner and nonsense later in the evening. But I rolled up and got rockstar front row parking, then we looked at the 2 block long queue stretching around the building. The two women I was with who lived 30 mins away in Annapolis balked at the fact we’d probably wait over an hour to get in and move through the exhibit. I frowned and said, “right, well, I’ll take you all home and come back myself.” I was dead serious. This was my mission now.
This mission had a hitch when I realized I was low on fuel and got a little twisted around on the way back (DC will disorient you). I coasted into a station on fumes, got back on track and continued my necessary & epic journey. I tore ass through the neighborhoods, made rolling deliveries of my stunned friends who were muttering soft apologies as i waved my hand away and dumped them at their doors. Then I high-tailed it back for the last hour of the exhibit and by then, the line had become manageable.
It was a moving exhibit beginning with cards posted 3 deep and many across on two stretches of wall, then hanging on clothesline, snaking around like dirty laundry left out to dry in the open air, some of them were printed big as billboards, 4×6′ canvases hung in adjacent cubbyhole-like rooms, shouting at you along the way. in these rooms people sat at a line of tables under the big canvasses and wrote down thoughts and talked together. this opened up to a squared off area where the secret postcards hung four or five high on string and several deep, twisting in the air as people walked in between them, turning the cards to read them, looking up at them, into them like a dark rainy sky full of questions and answers. Finally there was a wall crowded with all the envelopes the secrets had arrived in to protect the artistically done post cards. There were two tables nearby with flipboxes full of post cards that people sat at, looking through them like recipes from their grandmother’s kitchen.
Near the exit, there was translucent mailbox created by Washington DC artist Mark Jenkins where people could hand deliver a personal secret. And at the last long table, a book where you could leave thoughts and reactions to the exhibit just as fascinating as the display itself. Frank Warren himself sat there. It was the last day and the last hour of the exhibit and i don’t think anyone recognized him as who he was. I wandered over, said hello and he struck up a conversation with me about the bag I was carrying.
I have a black and red tote bag bearing the picture of a little girl yelling “F*CK F*CK F*CK!” He asked why I had an angry bag and “where are all the joy bags?” so I explained myself.
My sister, Racheal had sent me the tote after after Brooks broke up with me. Inside was a card she had sent that reminded me how we all carry baggage but should do so lightly and instructed me to “Carry your anger inside the F*CK bag. Leave your shit in there, not inside.” I carry a regular purse most other places, but I take the anger bag to Yoga with me, where I unload the little daily insults, bad thoughts, pains, pressures & residual griefs and so I thought it would be appropriate to take it with me to the PostSecret exhibit where I could air out and relate my emotions to some of these brave, beautiful and creative people.
Frank Warren inscribed my book for me. It reads:
Sometimes art and healing are the same thing.
::: ::: ::: :::
Creativity and sharing love with people is what makes life purposeful for me. Through a friend, Andreas, I had the rare opportunity to go see Bono speak on Friday, February 3rd at the Washington Hilton & Towers as part of the 2005-2006 Nation’s Capital Distinguished Speakers Series. His theme was The Future in Front of Us: Living a More Involved Life.. He shared the cover of TIME magazine with Bill & Melinda Gates as Persons Of the Year. He didn’t sing, but instead took the stage to talk. the blurb i read about it on the informal side stated, “His topic is quite simply the future of the planet. This is nothing new for the U2 lead singer. He regularly consorts with the Pope, the President of the United States and other dignitaries. He is that rarest of rock stars, one who can change things in the real world too. Bono’s activism is directed against the AIDS epidemic and reducing the debt burdens of the poorest countries. Like a rock and roll Robin Hood, Bono doesn’t take money from the rich and give it to the poor. Instead, he tries to assist the rich in changing their world view so that they realize that to help the poor is, in fact, to help themselves. Join him at the Hilton where he will talk about how one can have more of an impact by living a purposeful life.”
He said he had come to talk about three things rarely in balance with each other: “music, politics and business.” And also of “tragedy, opportunity and adventure.” He described the “kafka-esque labyrinth of NOs” that we run into everyday of our lives an what we can do to turns those walls and boundaries into YESes. he talked about the situation of starvation, poverty, AIDS and death in Africa, likening it to the Holocaust and how we can choose to effect change on such issues. He was very specific to differentiate that it is not a “cause” but an “emergency” he is discussing and advocating. he said that all the attention of the death toll in the recent tsunami happens every month in Africa – one tsunami a month worth of deaths and it goes uncovered in the news. he was funny, serious, compassionate, told anecdotes about Bishop Desmond Tutu and President Michael Gorbachev and snickered, saying that when sitting between President Bush and several priests, monks and holy figures he ordered a Bloody Mary. he talked about Ireland, about his love for America not just as a country, but as an idea, about ways we can make ourselves shine again in the world community.
At the end of his speech, there was a short question and answer session as taken from a box left out front of the venue. He was very delicate about religion and politics being in the nation’s capital, made jokes about lobbyists and when asked what the role of god and religion took in his music and activism he said he didn’t trust anyone who talked about god too much, that it is a private matter and that he wasn’t particularly the poster child or advertisement for such things. “what if i were snapped crawling out of a club my hand and knees, I am after all a rockstar.” his comments were met with loud applause and laughter.
A question came from a 14-year old girl who asked what young people can do to bring awareness to AIDS, poverty, Africa free market trade, and debt forgiveness of poorer nations. Bono asked her to come up onto the stage, he kneeled, kissed her hand, hugged her to her great surprise and told her and the rest of us about The One Campaign. whether or not you agree with Bono, his vision, his politics, his movement to help, whether you see him as a saint or an annoyance, a rockstar with a big mouth or a person who is using his position to inspire goodness and action, indeed, he is leading an exhaustive and purposeful life.
I bought tickets to go see Feist on Wednesday, February 8th at a club in DC called The Black Cat. I also won tickets from my local radio station, WRNR to see her as part of their Emerging Artist Showcase. it’s an afternoon, pre-show private performance before the concert that evening. Feist’s big song is called “Mushaboom,” and she’s also played with Broken Social Scene.
lately i’ve been dreaming of kissing strangers, of sitting on the curb while i watch my house and all the things in it burn in leaping, licking, gorgeous, garrulous red flames; i’ve seen myself changing faces by pulling them out of white porcelain basin, a bowl of water. clearly – something needs to move in my life. something is requesting to push through. something is asking to be destroyed and to be set anew.
I started with my houseplants. I cut a few back pretty hard and they responded with new, bright growth. The space around my desk looks like a little jungle now. Even Odin leaps out from around the pots and green plants, stalking like the wild thing he was and still is, somewhere in there.
I also bought a beautiful orchid. it’s an Oncidium Intergeneric called “Pacific Sun Spots.” brick red, deep orange and butter yellow.
like a California sunset . . .
. . . which brings me to my trip to Los Angeles February 17th-21st to see my sister, Racheal. I’ve never seen the Salton Sea or a Joshua Tree in real life. It’s time I took some of my own photos. I’ve never taken a wine country tour as an adult, and this time, Ithink we will go not to Napa, but some place small and eclectic—to Santa Barbara. Nothing sounds finer to me in the midst of a cold winter month than to take in some breathtaking visions of desert sand, sea foam, waving palms and sun glinting off all things while I sip wine and release the shutter, both on my self and my camera.
What would it take for you to see
What i have got?
I’ve got more than you know
Open your eyes, i cannot be – what i am not
i’m not what i used to be, i’m not what
i’m not what i used to be, and i
I don’t know myself – from anybody else
I’m not what i used to be, I’m not what
I’m not what i used to be, and I
You don’t know what you have done
My frame is here but the mind is gone—gone away
So stay awhile longer
sweet tongue of fur and feather
Don’t cut the white breast
I’ve been waiting for you here
I’m not who i used to be
Bigger and better and faster and wetter
And bigger and better and faster and better . . .
Superheroes ~ esthero
The last week of dreams have been dark, light, moody, and marked with memories and prophecies. in one, i dreamed i was a child, though in my mind i was an adult. i was small with pale arms like strands of pearls that hung around the neck of my grandfather, Andrew, who i was named after and who held me like a little monkey slung at his hip. i was naked and clung to him as he walked through a garden that was in the backyard where the crabapples used to fall from the tree and scatter – tart, green bombs for greedy birds.
He pointed here and there at flowers and i named them, remembering specifically, a bright orange blossom which i called, nasturtium, because it was and he nodded approvingly.
Yes – you all know how much i love nature and appreciate all things growing and alive, but pardon me while i geek out over the next few paragraphs about my newest adventures. Some strange thing in me has had the urge to garden. With all that space in the woods where i used to live, some things simply wouldn’t survive under all that cover – i would have to trek to the top of the hill where there might be some incidental sun, carve out an area in the tall grasses and cut away, deep into the ground until i made something suitable to plant in. A sanctioned area where things could grow. Now that i live here in this new house where the boy roommates are so busy and mostly MIA (one even works for the most beautiful & profitable garden center around which is fortunate), i took one look at that tangled back yard and overgrown garden box and felt the need to create something.
Yes – i know, the last years have been bug chasing and moth rearing but, now i am building a habitat for my little creatures to come to me, which is a far more exhausting, but rewarding an endeavor.
Over the last 2 weeks, three times i have come home, changed into some gardening clothes, pulled weeds, hoed the garden box for fall down to a good 12″ plus, which is rather like hacking at the ground with an axe, then i tore the ivy away from the strangled hostas and ferns and out from the cracks in the brickwork, mowed the lawn with an old-fashioned pushmower borrowed from the neighbor (how environmental!) raked the area, and wore far more Deep Woods OFF insect repellant (chock full of DEET) than is probably recommended by any medical professional. It was that or wear the big red bumps on my cheek, neck, and legs as i swatted furiously and futilely. We have a water view just down the path and thus, the mosquitoes are utterly vicious! West Nile Virus is probably just the tip of what these blood-letting bastards are armed with!
i bought seeds for Spring to include some plants that will attract butterflies and ladybugs. Van Gogh sunflower mix, Amaranth (Love Lies Bleeding), Mahogany Nasturtium, Pink & White Swan Echinacea, Cornflower (Black Magic Bachelor Button), Cosmos, Baby’s Breath, Coreopsis, Gaillardia, Siberian Wallflower, Forget Me Not, Bergamot, Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, New England Aster, Black Eyed Susan, Sapphire Blue Flax, Oriental (red) and Shirley Poppies, Rockcress, Royal Scarlet Sweet Pea, Kniphofia (aka Red Hot Poker, Tritoma, or Torch Lily), Yarrow, and Chinese Lantern.
Of course, to look at the seed packs you will note i bought a healthy dose of RED but i have mixed in white, golds, oranges, violets, blues and many other lovely things i plan to rake through so i have a proper selection of wild flowers. And i really didn’t know much about Fall planting other than bulbs, so i did some reading and some research and bought some burgundy and orange and yellow pansies and mums and installed them, or rather, gave them some ground to eat which seems more organic in language than say, software put into the earth. Before i did any of this, there was the aforementioned hoeing (hacking) that went on plus adding a good 4″ of some fresh soil, fertilizers and compost. i also planted bulbs, added bulb food, tilled in some mulch for cover and protection and now, i wait for Spring when they come up: first the purple crocus, then Apeldoorn Elite Tulips, which are red with a defined yellow edge and some lovely things called Anemone ‘De Caen’.
Under a heap of cut branches and trimmings from the trees against our back fence (which i plan on bundling and removing), i found a pile of brown and grey flagstones, presumably left overs forgotten from the neighbors patio project. As deep as they were buried beneath the thorny branches, i am assume they will not be missed as they are now lining a newly-created crescent-shaped garden patch next to the box as well as circling the line of ferns and hostas across the way.
i installed a sturdy black wrought iron plant hook next to this crescent space, buried in ivy which now holds a large green watering can but i can imagine it holding a birdfeeder instead someday soon, so i can watch some winter birds . . .
There is a rabbit that hops through the yard occasionally, and i am hoping he/she will not unearth my bulbs and make Autumn snacks out of them before they have time to meet Spring. Oh – and did i also mention my two new plant friends who have joined my ivy? One is called a Polka-Dot plant, which comes in white, pink or in this case, red splotches on bright green leaves, honestly – looking rather like something has bled onto it. i planted it in a bright metallic red pot and adding to the red, i also pot-planted a big Amaryllis bulb called a Red Lion. i can’t wait until it starts to grow and bloom, which should be in time for the Holidays and it does perfectly well indoors in the Winter!
The strangest thing is now that i have been working so hard out there, and the season is cooling ever so slightly, the window AC is out, the adjustable screens are in, i can hear crickets as i sleep and oddly enough, the ladybugs HAVE indeed come . . . there have been three or four of them trundling along the walls and ceiling in my room and it drives my kitty Odin wild! He bats at them lightly and they just crawl back up. The other nite i reached over to pull the chain on my nite table lamp and a little red ladybug was hanging from the end of the silver ball! What do these little visitors mean?!?!
Now that i think of all this – i should’ve taken before and after shots of the yard before i went out guerilla gardening, but for now, i will venture out and document the semi-fresh, partially naked ground and keep a photo diary of my garden’s progress. And i found a really fun website with an accompanying book that has really inspired me despite the silly title of You Grow Girl. My mother always had the best luck with plants and the most beautiful garden on the block with honestly, minimal effort and fuss besides planting, watering, fertilizing 3 times a year and waiting for growth and beautiful blossoms. i will say that i have some monstrous plants on my porch that i have had now for several years, carried around, re-potted several times in progressively larger containers, some of them more than four years old with tiny beginnings, one i inherited from Marcy which has gone wild and lovely. These include: Golden Pothos (Devil’s Ivy), Nepthytis or Arrowhead vine, a Heart Leaf Philodrendron, and two coleus, one dark red, one red-green and both, oddly enough, plucked from the sidewalk and rescued from a dying arrangement now flourishing.
And then there’s this bushy and resilient white petunia that Megan gave me just before i moved, which has somehow managed to survive having all of its leaves being chewed down to stems by invisible green caterpillars. i say invisible because i saw their frass (little black dust specks of bug poo) and then, once they got big enough, i plucked them off and put them elsewhere in the wild and off my precious plant. it’s even started sprouting new leaves so it can collect the sun and feed itself again. what can i say – caterpillars are not pests to me after having seen them sprout eventual wings. maybe if i had tomatoes, but even then – i don’t know. everything in its place in the cycle . . .
it had been a long time – a few years since i visited the Maryland Renaissance Festival and it was SO much fun and the weather was perfect for it. i bought some Thistle honey, while my friend, Andreas bought Killer Bee honey. i took in some scheduled shows featuring jugglers, contortionists, aerial dancers, sword swallowers as well as some non-scheduled public displays featuring general drunker merry makers. i also went on a mission to find some new silver jewelry. i never know what it is, but it always turns out to be something magically suited and in this case, something fae – an ear cuff with a faerie on it which now clings to my left ear and quite honestly, i was in the market for a new moonstone and something to go on that naked ring finger on my left hand which i constantly twist for the missing pear-shaped diamond when i wash my hands, dismayed and saddened to no longer see it. i did, however, find a dainty little ring with a blue-coloured rainbow moonstone with two silver balls, one dropped to each side, small as period punctuations and the stone is delicate, tiny, reflective and shaped like a teardrop. i am now married to myself and i stand to NOT be disappointed.
i’ve been listening to a lot of internet radio and stumbled across a wonderful place run out of the basement of a nice man named Michael near my home town in Michigan. It’s called auralgasms, and i encourage you to LISTEN! (top left you will see “Listen” then click “Launch Radio Player” and select your connection speed, keep the main page open along with your player as it will update, or refresh if you like and you can see what you’re listening to)
Speaking of music, i am making a road trip out to Detroit to see my family for the Fall, drink some apple cider, eat some fresh fried donuts, crunch my boots in the leaves and ok, also primarily – to take in a concert at one of my all-time favorite places, St. Andrew’s Hall. There, in an intimate concert venue that holds a mere thousand, i will see Imogen Heap, Butch Walker, Cary Brothers, Peter Searcy, Jim Bianco, and all of these collectively under a show called The Hotel Café Tour. i am supposed to be accompanied by my friend Shane, but i am starting to worry . . . he’s been so busy he hasn’t really confirmed with me, so i may be flying solo.
This is of course, all fine and well. A 10-hr drive consisting of me, my iPod, some foggy radio stations, a packed cooler of goodies and some alone time should do me some good. As i have driven it, navigated it, watched it out the window or slept through the trip more times than i care to count, i should arrive safe and sound to the mothership of Destroyit, (to quote my friend and former bandmate Jim Flynn) a new coined term for the city of Detroit. He has promised me dinner at my pick of restaurants and i am sure to host a barbeque of some sorts to gather my friends close to me at my old house one of those fine nites.
Speaking of eating and thinking of bounty . . . lately, i have been eating the spectrum of simple foods that bring me comfort like pierogies with sour cream and applesauce then ranging into the rich, gourmet and elaborate like fried tofu, sushi and lobster, duck with blackberry sauce . . . On one occasion i was invited to a benefit dinner at O’Leary’s Seafood where half the proceeds of food and beverage sales went to New Orleans for relief from Katrina. It was good to simultaneously eat, indulge and allow someone else, perhaps to eat, rebuild and possibly enjoy the same things i am so grateful for lately – good food, good wine, good books, good music, good friends, good times, and a garden that kicks ass.
::: ::: ::: :::
i guessed the kind of man
that you would turn out to be
Now i wish that i’d been
wrong and then
i could remember
And all along the Watchtower
the night horses and
the black mares
ready themselves for the outcome
for the strange times
But what you didn’t count on
was another Mother of
a Mother Revolution
but what you didn’t count on
was another Mother of
a Mother Revolution
you could’ve had me
you could’ve had me
you could’ve had me
Right there beside you . . .
Mother Revolution ~ Tori Amos
::: ::: ::: :::
amazing how everything you listen to informs you of your heart’s current state. at this very moment as i type this . . . Train In Vain by The Clash just came on the radio and is talking about:
Say you stand by your man
Tell me something I don’t understand
You said you love me and that’s a fact
Then you left me, said you felt trapped
Well some things you can explain away
But my heartache’s in me till this day
Did you stand by me
No, not at all
Did you stand by me
No way . . .
damn it’s exhausting when you can’t escape your own brain and even the radio won’t give you a fucking break.
but my friends have been great at keeping me distracted what with dinner invites and tea and wine and film and concerts and new music.
In local news . . . Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey filmed a movie on Maryland Avenue here in Annapolis a few days ago! It’s going to be called Failure to Launch. They went to a little local pet boutique that the film crew made look like a bookstore then on to Harry Browne’s for an outdoor café lunch scene. What’s really cool is my photos are on display just across the street at Alchemy Tea Trading Co! Who knows – maybe they saw me . . .
i went to a concert at the 9:30 club on Friday nite to see Ray Lamontagne, a very heartfelt show acoustically akin to say a Ben Harper meets Bob Dylan. folk-soul flavoured. he was opened by a pretty aussie called Sarah Blasko, who will make her tv debut on the series finalé of Six Feet Under next Sunday. She was very Björk blended with some Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays and a little Beth Gibbons of Portishead thrown in. it was a lovely show.
just when i think it’s too much to bear . . . when my life seems turned on its ear, snaking about on a twisted, circular track and i feel like curling in on myself . . . i go back to the beginning as i end again.
i have been absent. from everything (including here and my photography as well) except work, which i have been doing quite a bit of.
my eight-year relationship recently self-destructed. and i’m just going to make it plain for you and for me . . . mostly, i am profoundly heartbroken, numbed and utterly daunted by the idea of dating, taking meals, movies and sleeping alone, weary of having to explain myself and learn someone new, having to relearn myself, afraid of being disappointed, dreading the whole “this-is-what-i’m-about-how-’bout-you” exercise, farting in front of someone new, being naked, learning a new kiss. it all horrifies me and i don’t even want to begin. i had a man i love dearly, i had a house, i had two cats together. i planted my tree there, i buried my cat there. i planted my heart there in the woods and let it cover the ground like ivy.
Brooks, my long-term boyfriend broke up with me. and to tell you how it all went down, and on my 33rd birthday would read so utterly cliché and rife with melodrama that i wish were NOT my life to report. Well – i have entered my Jesus year – he was 33 when he was crucified.
damn if it isn’t always the worst timing, the wrong thing said, the poor choices, the little misunderstandings that just chip away at things, until you can no longer see the good and the way through something or someone. there are things he thinks he needs to do for himself, and sadly – he wants to do them alone.
i met him when i was 25, online and through email. i didn’t even know what he looked like before we started speaking and growing close. he sent me pictures a book and a bottle of wine. he took me places i have never seen. he taught me so much about so many things natural and mechanical. i moved my whole life from Detroit, Michigan to be here with him in Maryland. we went through his Crohn’s disease (which he still endures), dead pets, funerals, vacations, all the things you can imagine, and we weathered my leaving twice while we were building a house to get some sanity and space from living in close quarters with his parents, and then, a monstrously stupid wasteful affair on my part. there are some things a relationship cannot survive, i suppose. people suffer their self-esteem, people stop forgiving, people build walls.
i would like to chalk it up to an early mid-life crisis on his part or humanity’s new short-attention span with love and excitement, and a case for those who don’t know how to commit and invest in people when they have fear of death, fear of confrontation, fear of friendship, fear of settling for the not-quite best sex/lover/relationship/etc. (insert fictional mind meld illusory mental/emotional state here). clearly the compromises he felt he had to make in order to be with me were too great. this is simply it. i just wish it felt better to say to myself and not cry every time i think of his absence. there are not enough pillows on this bed or friends i can talk to that make up for the empty space.
and i will leave it all at that. as he has reminded me it was NOT all goodness and light, though the love and loss of it has changed me profoundly and the memories of how it all began, how many many things we shared as friends, how THAT friendship is perhaps the only salvageable part. there is so much i could write, and i have, but it is largely personal and i will not trouble anyone’s eyes or conscience with it here. i am spilling out over the edges as it is . . . even the camera i shoot with, a gift from him, serves as a reminder.
i am living in Annapolis, Maryland. right downtown in the Historic District. it’s a nice house on the water, i rent it with two male roommates one of whom is Jason. mostly – i have the house to myself as Jason visits his girlfriend Jean quite a bit and works a lot, and Andrew, well he’s a handsome young man of i think 22, and he is gone quite a bit also, for various jet-setting to Chicago and New York, early work hours and socializing. so it’s mostly me and Odin just hanging out at home, purring and snuggling in, trying to get some sleep, eating lightly only for sustenance and hoping to adjust. there is a nice pair of windows in my room on the 3rd floor, my ivy plant is happy here, new leaves have erupted where dead spiny limbs were and i am able to crawl out my window and get onto the slanted roof to a platform area where i can look out across the neighborhood. it’s nice for sunning and watching the people, birds, and gardens.
what i have come to see is that nature continues to frighten and amaze me though i am no longer in my beloved forest . . . where all good elves belong. still i learn things like the will to fight, resilience, the inevitability and impartiality of death and my persistent love for all things great and small.
my last batch of moth eggs collapsed – they never hatched, perhaps not the product of a successful mating, which seems a terrible metaphor for the course of things lately, but no matter. i may still find some other specimens to raise and get interested in.
i watched two blackbirds trounce a mouse with their needled talons on a gravel path as the mouse interrupted their feeding and scavenging. i intervened and they took flight.
i watched a small sparrow fly too low before the eyes of traffic only to be batted pitifully against headlights and fall to the side of the road like a stone.
i see countless butterflies flittering with all of their might to make it across the lanes of whooshing traffic, dashed and left flapping like shutters, tiny cyclone trapdoors on the hot pavement, stuck like confetti fallout after a New Year’s kiss delivered to a perfect stranger.
but i picked up a Painted Box Turtle, burnt ochre shell with starburst splashed and neon orange scales and head, with cherry red eyes. he was walking in the middle of the road, certain to be crushed. he rode on the floor of my passenger seat until i released him into the woods – but not before taking his picture . . .
on from turtles and NOT to the rabbit, but the mouse . . . i know – they are rodents and vermin and potentially carry disease and reproduce and ruin food storage and clothes, but i loathe the sticky supposedly non-toxic glue traps that catch mice – or more i should remark they don’t so much “catch” as mangle and rip a creature limb from limb as they try to escape losing fur and feet if they DO manage to escape. i don’t know – i prefer “SNAP!” you’re dead than starvation and thirst and drowning in your own feces and struggle as you get more and more bound and twisted.
so, i am a bad employee – i saved a mouse from one of these grotesque things. i was setting up an adjacent dining room when i thought “eww, i better stash that trap so the guests don’t see it.” and upon picking it up, it stirred wildly and fluttered out of my hand and i screamed a bit. i wondered about what kind of unholy fucking cockroach/insect/mothra/beast might be twitching inside with 60,000 legs and pincers and fangs. i kicked it a bit across the room in the direction of the trash, then finally got brave got down on the ground and looked inside.
it was a tiny grey mouse, stuck with its little nose down, its whiskers bleeding, its mouth stuck open, tail behind it on display, feet tangled awkwardly below it in unnatural positions, stuck fast by its furry side and not escaping but still very much alive. what was i supposed to do? put it in a corner and ignore it (denial), put it out of its misery by bludgeoning it (personal), or worse – throwing it away (neglectful). so i took it to the sink in the nearby bathroom and turned on a small trickle of warm water, which it greedily lapped, working its mouth and blinking up at me. this gave it the energy to start squirming more, but i tried to keep it still so it didn’t rip itself apart.
i began by peeling the tail away and trying to unstuck the feet and head so it could close its mouth. then i went about dampening the trap with water and soap to loosen the glue, tearing off bits and pieces of the trap rather than trying to peel the mouse away by its loose body parts, which i was afraid would damage organs and break legs.
this took a good 10 minutes or so near the end of which the mouse became more excited, realizing it was being helped and was better able to move. once i had it free, its front paw a bit favored, perhaps stiff or injured, it scrambled and spun in a circular track in the sink basin. it nipped me ever so slightly, but grew calm as i scooped it up in a pile of paper towel. it curled into a little crescent, breathed quickly and i cupped it in my hands, cooed at it a bit to be calm, which it did and grew very still as i carried it outside to the huge bush i had seen mice in and out of before.
i put it down in the mulch and it appeared as if that one leg may have been broken, but it looked around and scampered off inside, ducking down into a little hole. somehow – i felt such a deep sympathy for this creature, stuck against its will, wanting to be removed, wanting to move. i can only hope it will heal or at least, die on its own terms.
Two nites ago i was out in the backyard here, a wild tangled overgrowth of hastas and ivy and low hanging branches looking over into the soft lights in my neighbor’s garden. The neighbor is a bed and breakfast called The Charles Inn as we live on Charles Street. it also has the window where i shot this cat photo:
While looking over in the garden with its fountains and stones and wonderful flowers, i saw a little orange flicker – the glow of an eye, something in flight. It was 11 at nite and all i could think was BAT! But no – you wouldn’t believe it – it was a hummingbird of all things . . . at NITE! i thought they went into torpor to keep warm and still in the dark and only flew in the sunlight, but here it was, a ruby-throated hummingbird darting aimlessly about, trying to find its way into the nectar caves. Turns out, i read that they don’t have a sense of smell. But more interesting is their affinity for the color RED . . .
The Ruby Throated Hummingbird is Maryland’s native species. It weighs only a tenth of an ounce and is attracted to nectar supplied by native plants or attentive homeowners. The flowers hummingbirds use for nectar sources have evolved with them. To attract a hummingbird, a flower must be red, bloom in the daytime, be rich in nectar and lack any sort of landing pad thereby eliminating competition from other birds. They like red so much in fact that folks in Louisiana hang lots of red Christmas ribbon, red surveyor’s tape, and other red items around their yards to be sure hummingbirds won’t pass them by. Some believe the hummingbirds fly down pathways (like roads) and have trails of red leading from the road into their house which must be an incredible spectacle!
My nitetime sighting sent me on a journey to discover myths and faerie tales about the hummingbird of which i found a nice handful and all of them Native American . . .
A Mayan legend says the hummingbird is actually the sun in disguise, and he is trying to seduce a beautiful woman, who is the moon.
Another Mayan legend says the first two hummingbirds were created from the small feather scraps left over from the construction of other birds. The god who made them was so pleased he had an elaborate wedding ceremony for them. First butterflies marked out a room, then flower petals fell on the ground to make a carpet; spiders spun webs to make a bridal pathway, then the sun sent down rays which caused the tiny groom to glow with dazzling reds and greens. The wedding guests noticed that whenever he turned away from the sun, he became drab again like the original gray feathers from which he was made.
A third Mayan legend speaks of a hummingbird piercing the tongue of ancient kings. When the blood was poured on sacred scrolls and burned, divine ancestors appeared in the smoke.
There is a legend from the Jatibonicu Taino Tribal Nation of Puerto Rico about a young woman and a young man, who were from rival tribes. Like Romeo and Juliet, they fell in love, precipitating the intense criticism of their family and friends. Nevertheless, the two of them found a way to escape both time and culture. One became a hummingbird and the other a red flower.
To the Chayma people of Trinidad, hummers are dead ancestors, so there is a taboo against harming them. An extinct Caribbean tribe called the Arawacs thought it was Hummingbird who brought tobacco. They called him the Doctor Bird.
Hopi and Zuni legends tell of hummingbirds intervening on behalf of humans, convincing the gods to bring rain. Because of this, people from these tribes often paint hummingbirds on water jars.
There is a legend from Mexico about a Taroscan Indian woman who was taught how to weave beautiful baskets by a grateful hummingbird to whom she had given sugar water during a drought. These baskets are now used in Day of the Dead Festivals.
The Pueblo Indians have hummingbird dances and use hummingbird feathers in rituals to bring rain. Pueblo shamans use hummingbirds as couriers to send gifts to the Great Mother who lives beneath the earth. To many of the Pueblo, the hummingbird is a tobacco bird. In one myth Hummingbird gets smoke from Caterpillar, the guardian of the tobacco plant, which is a nice Alice In Wonderland segue!
Another Pueblo story tells of a demon who is blinded after losing a bet with the sun. In anger he spews out hot lava. The earth catches fire. A hummingbird then saves the beautiful land of people and animals by gathering clouds from the four directions. Hummingbird uses rain from these clouds to put out the flames. This legend says the bright colors on a hummingbird’s throat came after he fled through the rainbow in search of rain clouds.
A Mojave, and my most favorite legend tells of a primordial time when people lived in an underground world of darkness. They send a hummingbird up to look for light. High above them the little bird found a twisted path to the sunlit upper world where people now live.
It is a place i hope to arrive at soon myself . . .
Mood: Very Happy sunny and warm
Listening to: Sunday by Sia
Reading: Mostly Harmless: Douglas Adams
Watching: Deadwood: HBO season finalé 5.29!
oh my god. it’s been almost a month since i scribbled down something in this little journal of mine.
i suppose getting out there and living and working sucks up quite a good stretch of time – and in this time some good things have been happening in my personal and creative life . . . where one thing closes it does sometimes, reopen.
Back in the day i used to be a rockstar.
That is to say, i fronted a band as a singer/songwriter and acoustic guitar when i lived in Detroit just before i met Brooks and moved to Maryland. One of my old band members, Jim phoned and emailed because he passed on our demo CD to a local podcaster.
In any event, this podcaster played two of my songs and it generated some positive feedback and so Jim and i are considering the prospect of me doing some more recording, first a bit of long distance track trading and PC to PC stuff via a lovely digital recording platform called SPIKE made by Mackie. This way we can trade files back and forth via the net, easy as you please so we can sketch out ideas until i can visit Detroit in August to lay down some studio tracks in the real. who knows what will become of all of this, but the music was something i never wanted to let go of completely and this is another chance to see what can happen.
The only rub is – i dislike my last name, and i need to figure on a name to record under. i rather like the idea of a single word name/idea like some of the female vocalists i’ve been into such as Esthero or Sia or Shivaree. i even like the idea of a phrase that is not quite associated, for instance a woman named Erin Moran records under A Girl Called Eddy. (this is probably so she is NOT mistaken for the actress who played Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days) SO – if any of you have any ideas, toss them out at me!
Also – flashing back to Detroit and to the time i met Brooks, i met another Andrea who just came out to visit me over Mother’s Day weekend through Thursday. We spent some nice time catching up, telling stories, shopping and eating . . . for Mother’s Day (since she is 8 months pregnant and we didn’t want to brave the restaurants) i decided to wait on her at home. i cooked scrambled eggs, 7-grain toast, cut some fresh brie, grapes, fresh strawberries in sugar, orange juice and a nice Moscato d’Asti dessert wine from Italy (only 5% alcohol and sweet as a mimosa). We had a banquet spread outside under an umbrella covered table on my deck and the weather was just perfect.
Then we took a 2-hour nap.
On Monday, we went to the most fabulous restaurant i have EVER dined at! Seriously – i am ruined for any other place . . . The Inn At Little Washington exceeded my every expectation, we asked for NOTHING the entire meal, the service was impeccable and like a synchronized ballet, the food was exquisite, the wine list was a novel you could never tackle including bottles aged from ’66 and priced everywhere from $25-$2000 and the cellar boasts 14,000 bottles. The garden terrace with fountain, pond and a wall of crawling ivy lit with a web of white lights was simply magical . . . The dessert was so sinful and delectable i couldn’t decide if i wanted to EAT it or crawl onto the table and fuck it! And all of this was a two hour drive into idyllic English-looking countryside in Washington, Virginia where the Inn resides in one of the few remaining actual “villages” in America. At my request – we were even allowed to tour the kitchen where all this incredible work happens.
These were my particular course selections:
1st course: Fire and Ice: Seared Tuna Sashimi with Daikon radish and Cucumber Sorbet
2nd course: A Fricassee of Maine Lobster with Potato Gnocchi and Curried Walnuts
main course: Prime Angus Tenderloin of Beef on Peanut Potatoes with a Pommery Mustard Vinaigrette
dessert: Seven Deadly Sins: A Sampling of Seven Decadent Desserts
The site describes the experience best with ” The Inn’s dining room is pure fantasy – a wondrous cocoon of luxury. Rose–colored, silk lampshades float above each table creating a private romantic world below. Under the watchful eye of Host Reinhardt Lynch, Patrick’s creations arrive at one of the 30 intimate tables as if served by invisible hands, course after course more dazzling than the last.”
oh daddy but do i ever appreciate food that rises to artform!
i also had the privilege of taking photos of Andrea and her beautiful pregnant belly, during our relaxing visit of eating and napping. i also managed to enter one into a contest for her, so she could win some prizes!
This is my favorite photo so far of the shots i have looked through:
Oh yes – and i entered the Maryland Department of Natural Resources 2005 photo contest which calls for photos of Maryland’s “rich natural and recreational resources – water, wildlife, farms, fields, parks, forests and protected areas.” i certainly have plenty of those kinds of photos – my “wild” cats aside. Wish me luck on that!
i am 2 weeks out from my next wedding photo shoot for my friend Megan. It is a beautiful location that i recently attended a wedding at and so i am familiar with the surroundings and conditions. even so – Megan and i are going tomorrow afternoon to scout photo locations in the garden area for the formal/group shots. i am expecting a gorgeous June wedding and cooperative weather for her.
and silly joy of all joys – my vanity plates came in the mail!
In the midst of all this exciting creativity and reward . . . my dear friend Anne-Marie sent me a wonderful, heartfelt letter detailing her life and how she was so thrilled and fulfilled to tap back into her creative life after being unduly stunted from it by a (hopefully) soon to be removed poor partnership.
this was a slightly long day – nothing too taxing, just a lot of little errands. i was so proud of myself for waking at 8am to get a jump on the day. yeah – i know, 8am is everyone else’s report time whereas this is a miraculous feat for me. i showered, pulled my hair into a wet knot and i was out the door.
i stopped at the gas station for fuel ( holy shit is diesel expensive now) i parted the waters, made up of men, waded past the farmers, truckers, mechanics all snickering, hitching their pants, and leaning around the coffee station smelling of burnt caramel, evaporated coffee and faintly like broken radiators. i got myself a vanilla iced coffee thing to go with my Raspberry NutriGrain bar and headed into a sunny day. i needed to get to the MVA to take care of my tags, title, and registration for my new car.
it was a relatively painless process, and luckily, both of the attendants i dealt with actually smiled and were pleasant. it was a quick wait, i even ran into one of my wine distributor representatives to sit next to. And – i will now readily admit, i ordered and will have vanity plates that read:
and why not!?!? the name and monicker has become so much of who i am and identify myself as that it’s only fitting.
my local radio station, 103.1 WRNR pulled the best and most entertaining April Fool’s joke by changing their call letters and format. They became 103.1, W-O-M-B “you’re inside the womb.” They had great one-liners like “we’ll leave the toilet seat down for you” and “testosterone free-radio” and “we don’t dick around” and my favorite “radio for the breast of us!” and the format ROCKED – ALL females DJs, ALL female artists, ALL day long! it was brilliant! you wouldn’t believe the wide range of wonderful music i heard to float me through my day!
i went to work directly after the MVA and into a slammed lunch shift. busy enough for 3 servers to run around . . . i shot out of there for the 35 minute trip BACK HOME sometime after 2:30, so i could put the new tags on and drive the new car BACK into Annapolis to present to my insurance agency for photos and processing. i made it there with 5 minutes to spare before closing time.
then i went BACK TO WORK for round two, the dinner shift, but not before making a credit card payment in person for Tiffany, a work mate, also on a double shift with me. I did this so she could run her errands in the opposite direction during the lunch/dinner interim, she needed to deliver a catering order for the restaurant to make some extra cash, and i didn’t mind making the payment for her since i was going past Pier 1 Imports on my way back into town. i ended up bussing and hosting instead of waiting tables as it wasn’t too crazy busy. we sat around, the 3 of us, drinking chai tea (me) and cappuccinos (them) and doing a crossword until the first guests showed up well after 6pm.
during the nite a VERY big kitty came to the door of the restaurant. mind you – we are like a small house, in fact – people used to live there. this cat was like a Maine Coon: big, tabby/tiger like, fluffy with pointed ears. he was really sweet, rolling around on the porch, totally approachable, rubbing against the legs of all the guests entering and trying to slip past them to get inside. that’s all i needed was to chase a big cat through the dining room. we made friends and i petted him for awhile and he sat watching me through the door for a good 20 minutes before wandering on. he wasn’t starving, and i think he may actually belong to someone.
i hung around until 9, then stopped by a Ruth’s. she got a new computer and needed help setting up her email. we talked about the party she threw for her recently deceased mother . . . a big family gathering for remembrance that included a bonfire, good food, and spreading of her ashes on the California beach and into the ocean. Ruth is older than i am, i suppose i would put her near 60 or just beyond. Her mother had been missing out of her mind, Alzheimer’s for quite some time and was failing, and so her passing was a relief. i wish everyone dealt with death the way she does. when her mother died, she brought the box of ashes into the restaurant, as i was curious about the after-container. “Mom – meet the girls,” she said to Sally and i. “Hi, mom,” we chimed. “She always wanted to come here,”Ruth remarked. “And now she has,” i smiled. as i left Ruth to her newly established email and her headache owing to allergies, the light drizzle i had left before, suddenly became a good rainstorm.
in my infinite wisdom, i decided to go grocery shopping.
Everyone there near closing time ducked in to grab just one or a few things. margerine. a flat of strawberries. some milk and eggs. a frozen dinner. And you had the derelicts from the nearby laundromat hitting up the cashiers for rolls of quarters since the machines were out. Then my favorite – the randomly stoned Friday nite boys, the monkey pack, wandering around with Cheetos and Gatorade and Red Bull and Snickers bars, jumping on each others backs like horses, playing assgrab and leap frog and pull your pants down so everyone can see your balls. Some of them singing (more at howling) from the remote aisles, the lyrics to “End Of The Road: by Boyz II Men. fucking people . . .
Everyone had a few things, but me – i decided to do a big list right in the middle of things and everyone who queued up behind me saw my conveyer belt full, remarked things like “oh shit” and “nuh-uh” as they wandered over to the Self-Checkout lanes. This pleased the young, pretty cashier, who shared a devious smile with me and vowed to take her time, as i would be her last customer before the store closed.
i had been craving Szchezuan food, some spicy stirfry. (or so i thought . . .) i considered take-out, but then got ambitious. i had thawed some chicken in the fridge the nite before, came home with armfulls of plastic bags to the hungry cats climbing the walls, fed them, put things away and fired up the wok. i rinsed my perfumy jasmine rice, diced chicken, tossed the veggies and brown sauce, threw in the peanuts and by the time i was done, i was so tired, so uninspired that i scooped out a cup of rice, put a pat of butter and salt & pepper on it and called it dinner, wrapping up the rest and putting it into the fridge. have you ever cooked a meal and then decided not to eat it or have something else entirely?!?!? i just did . . .
i ate the rice and then opted for a salami sandwich with mustard and muenster cheese, sliced dill pickle and kettle chips. i began chinese and then went italian deli!
what the fuck is WRONG with me?!?!?
in other thoughts . . . after having this long hair for so many years, waking with it in my mouth sometimes, having the cat curled up in it (or me laying on it) so i can’t readily move, washing it, clarifying, deep conditioning, brushing, natural drying, babying it, fussing with color, loving it, hating it, having it stick to my face in the rain, tickle me under my bra strap, hang in his face, in my food, mostly tied back for work and wandering and cooking, i have decided . . .
to cut it.
probably chin length and then color it something bold and bright for Spring. i want easy, breezy and light. i used to wear a pixie, short as Sharon Stone – but i won’t be going THAT drastic this time around. so Tuesday. . . i lose the curtains. this may require a new ID, just for a bit of change, though i am not one to change things often. especially my personal decoration.
i have worn the same silver moonstone necklace since i bought it in Chicago 13 years ago. i take it off to polish it now and again. Same silver moonstone earrings for about 7 years, and the same silver rings with moonstone and labradorite for about 5 years, with exception to the latest ring addition brought back from the British Virgin Islands.
even this “new” car i just bought is just a more perfect rendition of my other car – just a far superior transmission and suspension (which i really feel when i drive, more power and comfort). jeez – i currently own and insure TWO Mercedes . . . how do i afford my rock-and-roll lifestyle?
like i said – i am not one to change things often, but lately, i can barely commit to a meal and having recently (finally) seen Super Size Me i am reminded again of the importance of good food, of healthy choices for change, of exercise, and how i need to rescue my Yoga mat from becoming an oversized cat toy and scratch post.
in the meantime, i believe an evil chocolate chip macadamia nut cookie will fix me up for bed.
after some well-needed, well deserved sleep – i’ll start the transformation tomorrow . . .
i wore the dress that you liked almost everyday
Boxed up all my baby dolls and gave them away
i wrote your name on the wall next to my bed
Any day that i saw you at all was circled in red
What they said was a man drifted over the line
Drove you away and a little girl out of her mind
And the rain fell down and washed off your face
Washed you away, left carnations and stone in your place
My first cigarette and my first pill
My first cup of coffee and my first chill
Now you’ll never know my first kiss
Somebody else will
Cause you were the first one i saw
Holding that still
n. Midwestern & Western U.S.
A noisy mock serenade for newlyweds. Also called regionally charivari, belling, horning, serenade.
::: ::: ::: :::
Marcy & i saw Shivaree LIVE, Saturday February 26th, 2005 at our favorite little venue, Ram’s Head Tavern Onstage in Annapolis, MD.
Ambrosia Parsley told the audience great stories about first loves, the vengeance of grandmothers, and the joys of childhood as altered by NyQuil and Flintstone’s Vitamins.
To tell you would take awhile, and i would hate to steal the fire from her stories.
. . . a most enjoyable show to say the least. Sexy, slinky, loungy music. We even got to meet her later – she signed my CD with a silver Sharpie, transforming herself into a shiny whiskered cat on the CD cover sleeve.
So – onto the idea of wedding serenades . . .
This weekend i’ll be taking photos at my friends’ wedding. Amy & Josh, both of whom i have worked with and had plenty of wine with.
At one point, weather permitting, we will be following an accordion player out of the church and marching up to the hall for the cocktail hour and reception. This is pretty much a parade through small town Annapolis. She is also having an apron dance which everyone should enjoy. i am a bit nervous with a new camera . . . but things should turn out well :fingerscrossed:
i also hired a new person at work, Megan, who i hope will in turn, employ me at her wedding as a photographer.
i am having fun with the semi-pro side of things, but i am often surprised at the jokers who ARE taking photos for hire, the poor quality of work they turn out, and the exorbitant fees they command. ESPECIALLY for weddings. So far, i have shot 3 weddings, all for friends, and maybe, the fact that i come cheap and i KNOW the people takes the pressure off, we have fun, and i get good shots.
Well – wish me luck this weekend!