Friday, April 30, 2010

Kabuki Theatre


Kabuki actors dancing not so gracefully.

Passionless.

Duplicitous.

Confused.

Begone!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Elephant Walk

Foolhardy adventures are streaming through my overstuffed, desperately under-used brain. Addled as it is.

It's flowing now. The spigot wide open. Have decided to stick with the theme-of the moment. At least for a day or two. You don't mind, do you? Stream of consciousness rules!

The theme? My bucket punch list. Egged on by spontaneity and wanderlust. Hey, who knows when I will close my hazel green eyes for the big sleep. Imagine all the possibilities. Experience and revisit places in and out of my comfort zone. Time is a'wastin'.

I have 4 more states. 1 continent, 2 if you count Antarctica. Micro-finance in Southeast Asia. Or teaching English. Building communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Restoring an ochre plastered farm in the southwest region of France. Tuscany. Argentina. Connecting with the love of my life. Exploring. The adventure unfolding one day at a time.

My comfort zone ebbs and wanes with the tides. The season. My coffers. My nerve.

Redefined at a given moment, depending. A shelf life of several days. The amorphous comfort zone interpreted on an 'as needed' basis. Maybe a month. But only if reservations are required and an overseas flight is involved. A tad longer if being joined by a bold intrepid soul, my venturesome son or a dear friend. To coordinate calendars. Schedules. Bailey. It fluctuates wildly.

Oh to be utterly boundaryless. Unrestricted by either time or money. But you know the drill.

A few weeks before my travels to meet Charlie in South Africa I dared to commit to a pre-paid elephant safari. In the bush. Bareback.

The bonus of an aging mind and faded memories. Not intimidated one iota by the eight inch scar running from stem to stern. Forty five autumns later, a whiter shade of pale. No more bikinis. Or a tawny, suntanned tummy. Unless you count the topless beaches in France (another story, peut être). Ruptured spleen.

Involved: Galloping double bareback with my school friend, Libba. A skittish mare. Handsome teen age boys. A train crossing on a country road. And yes, you guess it, poor timing. Recipe for disaster. Cantered right past a RR crossing. Gates descending. Clanging bells. Lights flashing crimson. A maniacal freight train bellowing black steam roaring past. Horse shied. We tumbled to the gravelly pavement. Woke up in the ambulance. The horror now as faded as the white stripe.


Obviously. Or I wouldn't have found myself four decades later leaping from a second floor deck onto the thank god swayed back of Muqua. My transport for the next sixty minutes through the bush. One of a handful of orphaned adolescent males rescued from ivory poachers. Oh my. Hadn't we just watched as he sparred playfully with Duma, the alpha male, Charlie's mount? I prayed their barely over quarrel for dominance was complete. Let Duma lead.


Monkeys darted in an around. In between the grey wrinkly legs of our mounts. Muqua lumbered over the rock strewn path. I clutched the skinny waist of my Zimbabweayn guide in a death grip. Up. Down. It mattered not. My knees couldn't grip his sides. This was no thoroughbred.

We'd stop. I'd catch my breath. Mustering the courage not to ask to head back to the lodge. Muqua's giant trunk arched in a 'u' onto our laps for some gigantic pellets. Super-sized treats. Bailey would have been jealous.

Muqua's giant Africa-shaped ears flapped back and forth to keep cool. Resting on my knees. I thought it was my guide getting fresh. But I didn't care. I gripped him tighter. Linking my survival to his jungle instincts. Wild birds dipped in flight. A lemur family perched in the scraggly trees. It was exhilarating. And terrifying. If Muqua misstepped I would tumble onto the jagged rocks far below. Or onto a prickly shrub with 6 inch dagger-like thorns. Did they take Blue Cross/Blue Shield in the bush?

When we approached the watering hole I slid off Muqua's leathery, wiry haired back onto a platform. Legs wobbly. Pulse slowing to its natural rhythm.

Buckets filled to the brim with the gigunda treats awaited on the ground. Charlie already had his hand in Duma's gaping mouth. Muqua nudged me with tusks as long as my arm. His trunk arched high. His mouth gaped open. I tentatively placed a nugget on his tongue. He gently swallowed. Brushed me again. This boy wanted treats. Now! Muqua curled his wrinkled trunk downward, snorted and made a bowl with his snout. I tossed in a handful. My new adorable pachyderm buddy. Now that my feet were planted firmly on terra firma.

You never know what crazy-out-of-my-comfort-zone discovery is in store for this self-proclaimed adventurer. I cannot wait. I can feel the tingle.

Let the games begin!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

All My Eggs in a (Pier One) Basket

Yesterday's posting got me to thinking about hot air balloons. And the yellow brick road.

But first the colorful, float with the clouds, flight apparatus that preceded the airplane. Imagine. The ability to get from one place to another, traffic be damned.

Mais oui. The only mode of overland transportation in the late 1700s was horse drawn carriage, horseback or one's very own feet.

It is worth a mention that in late 18th century France actually was on technology's cutting edge. On the cusp of a brave new world. France! That in itself is amazing. You'd expect it from the Italians. Da Vinci after all conceptualized the helicopter in the latter part of the 15th century as science, art and society flourished. But that it was in the French countryside that the Montgolfier brothers made the leap into aerodynamics. Successfully. It elevated the family to nobility. But of course.

A gondola ... a wicker basket not unlike one that would carry paté, vin rosé, a baguette, cornichons and a wedge of Brie into the countryside for an afternoon delight, two hundred fold larger ... suspended gracefully by braided guy wires from an artistic and quite colorful envelope. Fueled by hot air from a flame precariously close to the fabric.

Thermal airships. Floating windbags. Carried buoyant across air currents. Just high enough to feel the sensation of floating ever so slowly over meadows, rivers and rolling farmland.

Fast forward two hundred years. The Napa Valley. A chilly pre-dawn trek via caravan across the vineyards to an open field. Three hot air balloons being prepped for our excursion. Champagne, croissants and fig jam awaited at the other end. Not quite awake I was along for the adventure. And a few glasses of bubbly before 11 in the morning. That itself was the incentive.

We arrived. Found the woman with the clipboard to check-in, run the credit card through the machine in her backpack and sign a death waiver.

A what?

My heart started pounding. White noise filled my head buzzing loudly. So noisy was the cacophony brewing inside that I couldn't hear the directions of how to be a good passenger. What to expect. Emergency procedures. Nada. All I could do was keep from passing out altogether. Grainy swirling flashes of sparkled light fogged my vision.

I was in deep trouble.

My head was filled with a jumbled mess of thoughts flashing neon across my mind's eye. My very own jumbotron. The messages came quickly crowding out the fact that I had to twink, badly:

1) This was my very first trip away from my four year old child;

2) I was a continent away;

3) The van driver looked like a hippie who smoked hash before picking us up at the bed and breakfast;

4) I was praying he was not the pilot, or whatever the flyer is called;

5) My mobile phone was locked in the van that transported us here; and most importantly

6) I am deathly afraid of heights.


What had I signed up for? Egads. I was nauseous, feverish and couldn't hear myself think. The buzz in my head now a roar.

We were being herded towards the balloons quickly filling with hot air tethered to the ground by what appeared to be leather bases. The kind from a baseball diamond. Scarily old fashioned. The burner shot white hot flames into an flammable (god, I hope not) fabric pocket. Wooden library steps were placed next to each one. One of the ground crew was leading me away from my friends to the what appeared to be flimsy craft in the middle.


Someone grabbed my elbow as I hoisted myself up the final step through a wicker gate into the basket itself. Eight other intrepid souls joined me. The pilot last. Sandbags were heaved to the ground and the folks charged with preparing our ascent (our van driver, thank the lord, on the field). I held tightly to the metal bar in the corner and prayed. All I could hear above the din in my mind was Charlie's sweet voice ... and that of my father reminding me to never let my Blue Cross/Blue Shield lapse.



Slowly the craft drifted straight up. Not unlike a helicopter. The rolling meadows and wine lands spread out below us like a Van Gogh. Streaks of mad-driven pigments spread furiously. Attached to the canvas by the putty knife. In splotches. Multi-hued. Vibrant.


I clutched the rod in the corner of the basket. My heart rate slowed a bit. Down below a miniature red fox darted through a hedge followed by hounds and horses carrying men in red coats and white jodhpurs. It was amazing. Floating just under 1000 feet with the birds. Flying really. Up up and away.

In what seemed to be an instant we were being instructed as to how to land without injury. I unlocked my knees, bent them and braced myself for a hard landing in a farm yard. Geese squawked, chickens ruffled their feathers, a dog barked wildly as the pigs continued to chew on the corn cobs littering their sty oblivious.

Next we bumped the ground bouncing. Skidded to a halt. The balloon flapped as the air was released. I unclenched my teeth and kissed the pole. Nonchalantly strolled over to the wicker gate being unlatched by what appeared to be leather bands. Relieved that this flimsy contraption had ensconced us safely during our 75 minute flight. I descended from the Pier One basket shakily. Grateful to be on earth.

We toasted our adventure with Etoile, the most sublime sparkling wine from nearby Domaine Chandon. Crisp and tart. Lovely. It washed away my jitters and restored calm. One should always have a flute of bubbly before lunch.

Cheers!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Around the World in Eighty Days

Lemons is global!

As of today Lemons, propelled by wanderlust, insatiable curiosity and off-the-cuff insights, has landed this Steel Magnolia on five continents! Welcome! Willkommen! Bienvenue! Recepción! Welkom! Vinda!

Even transported to South American where this trepid soul has not yet adventured. The Aussie wallabies downunder have yet to amble by to share some cheer and ramblings from this fork in the road. But are most welcome.

Interestingly, nearly every traveler outside the U. S. lives near the sea. Lusty breezes luring you to my coastal home.

And daily I open my arms to my new American friends visiting from the heartland, the northeast, the deep south and New England.

It is a pleasure most profound to be interconnected at home and abroad with you. Joined in outbursts of zany irreverence, sublime wit, brilliant observations, kindred spirits.

Cheers, fellow travelers! To the toasts of my town: Y'all comeback now. Ya hear?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Commodity Trading

It's Monday morning. The first day of my first yoga class. My inaugural foray into the ancient physical and mental discipline born in the belly of India. I am jazzed.

Not the bona fide emotion descriptor for my eager anticipation of the ancient gentle practice of awakening one's body and aligning it effortlessly to the mind and heart that awaits at the top of the wooden stairs. A few short blocks from home.

But I am.

As with every activity I fully engage my eager self. Especially the first day. My enthusiasm tempered by a serenity. A grace. Humbled by the physical embodiment of a virtuous spirit. Another path to open my heart. Breathe in embracing the impurities. Exhale and release.

Strengthen my body. Align it with my inner core. Condition my heart. Experience contentment despite the realities that exist beyond the door. Out on the street buzzing with jack hammers and back hoes as our village downtown is updated. A makeover long over due. I know. Mine is too.

I am ready.

So here I am. Dressed and ready to commence. Black dance pants. A white long sleeved top. My thick chestnut tresses pulled tight at the nape. With a few moments to spare. Reading yesterday's Sunday New York Times. In the Style section, a feature article catches my eye. The emergence of the yoga business. Trendy. Fashionable. Commoditized.

So now it appears to me that I am jumping on the bandwagon. The thought never occurred to me.

Seems everything, whether sacred or mundane morphs at the hands of greedy entrepreneurs morphed into a commodity. Wall Street and fashionistas run amok. Yoga instructors, the teachers of the teachers, reaching celeb status in New York, LA ... and Dallas. Crazy.

Yoga training symposiums held in Las Vegas fetch $1,400 for 84 postures. That's a mere $17 per. Discounts a plenty. Bring a friend. Reduce the net cost to just under $12. Hawking this ancient, spiritual practice. Selling it to the masses. Diluting its soul.

Bikram Choudhury partnered with Cheryl on Dancing with the Stars? Not so far-fetched. But can a guru tango?

Namaste.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Miss Bailey: I'm Takin' A Spin

Momma is running out to do errands. It has been months since I contributed to Lemons. You all must really miss me. And besides, I'm getting an itchy dewclaw.

For those of you who don't know me up close and personal, my puppy prep wasn't up to snuff. Not only did the Georgia farmers forget to snip my extra toenail, but they also forgot to remove my lady parts.

But that's another story. Shadow was a rascal. You already know all about that scoundrel. But I loved him.


The arrow points to my dewclaws. I have four of 'em. They hang daintily at the curve of my ankle. Never touching the ground. Sometimes one gets in my way when I'm scratching my nose. One time I made my eyeball reverse in the socket. Poked myself right in the eye. Momma choked me with a pill wrapped in hamburger every morning. I pretended I didn't like it. But I did. Nums. Raw hamburger is a real TREAT.

A dewclaw? Dew? I love traipsing around the wet grass in the yard. Morning dew. Oooh. The SMELLS. Gotta check out the night visitors scampering around. My entire leg gets wet from the dew. Momma makes me SIT so she can wipe off my paws before I slide across the kitchen floor. I can barely stop moving because all I really want is my BREAKFAST.

Oh oh. Here comes Momma. She wants me to go OUTSIDE. Now.

Momma, I'm only moving off this cushy pillow for a TREAT.

Life Happens While You Are Busy Making Plans

It's starting to take shape.

If amorphous is a shape.

It is to me. By now you know that.

Might not be images decorating the border of pre-school walls. Or, molded perfectly for the green-orange-purple plastic Playskool form fitter where triangles, squares and circles drop neatly through perfect holes.

Or, fluffy clouds floating gracefully in cerulean blue skies. Changing. The black-green swirly ones bruising the sky causing thunder, ground strikes and worse?

What about that blue ink blob you tried not to stare at yesterday seeping from inside of the bank teller's breast pocket of his short sleeve button down petroleum byproduct shirt?

Or, a delicious scoop of pale green mint chocolate chip ice cream melting down the sides of a sugar cone on a hot, humid July afternoon.

All shapeless? Not in my world. Use imagination to weave the story. After all, this is mine to tell.

Changes. New energies. Alternatives. Strategic possibilities.

A new dimension. Gently recommended by my wise, perceptive friend. Toltec philosophy. Evolution and expansion of my eclectic belief system which already encompasses Judeo-Christian tenets, Native American wisdom, Tibetan Buddhism teachings. Changing. Incorporating ancient Latin American perspectives into the mix.
My weekend readings poignant.

Friday, April 23
Seven of Swords


Time to consult with others. You are a truthful person, but others do not always want to hear the truth. Honor and willingness to stay and face the music. You will not run from a situation just because it is uncomfortable. Someone needs to know that you are there for them.

Saturday, April 24
King of Swords


An articulate and intellectual man who is very capable in leading others in business and life. A mentor. Possessing a Solomon-like wisdom and commanding authority. A man of high moral standards and principles. Someone to be trusted in all things. Committed to the greater good.

Sunday, April 25
Ace of Cups
Continuation of love and creativity. Spiritual healing. New relationship on the horizon. Powerful creative energy harnessed for new ventures. Emotional fulfillment. Happiness and vitality. Support from community of new artistic ventures. Partnerships.

This plan of mine. My journey through my sixtieth year continues to evolve. Expanded. Embracing new opportunities, destinations, convivants.

C'mon, cosmic dealer, hit me again. Make it a good one. And keep me on this roll. To fate!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On

The planet is in need of an adjustment.


We'll skip the attitude one for now. That is way overdue. And is by my account the real culprit. Not enough energy to tackle that issue on this gorgeous sunny morning on the southern coast of Maine. Save that topic for later. Not.

No. I'm talking about getting planet earth to a chiropractor. And not just any ol' one will do. I am referring to an honest to god, god of chiropractic medicine. A DC. We have a subluxation dysfunction going on here.

Question to self: What's with all that jargon? D. C. = District of Columbia. The primo topic I am steering clear of on this mild spring day. I see a stroll on the beach in my very near future. If I can publish this post in the next 30 minutes. Not in the least on point.

The one whose office is equipped with the requisite ergo-dynamically designed leather upholstered table. You know the one I mean. Yes that one. The original one. The one that does a full tilt to 180° so you can hobble in folded over like the Hunch Back of Notre Dame, painfully pull your screeching with pain self over to the smiling man behind the screen, align yourself with the fully vertical wall. And, with the flip of a crank be lowered into position. Might even work for other things! You know what I am saying. Right? But hey, this is PG rated day for god's sake. My neighbors three children are playing frisbee across the street.

So where was I? Oh yes. In the first four months of 2010 840 quakes have been registered around the globe. Eight hundred and forty with magnitudes greater than 5. We know the big ones. But knowing the others makes me a bit more than nervous. Major activity recorded all over: Japan, Chile, Haiti, Southern California, Mexico's Baja Peninsula. And to wreak more havoc with my nerves, it was announced this week that New England is on a major, kinda inactive fault line. And, we're due. Scary.

Plus there are nine active volcanoes. All at the same time. Four in Russia. One of which erupted this week sending a 22,000 foot plume of ash into the skies. Not that I'd ever book a trip on Aeroflot. One in Hawaii. Another on Montserrat off the coast of South America. Indonesia. An island in the South Pacific. And we all know about the one in Iceland.



The Teutonic plates holding this fragile home of ours in play. No wonder we are in a heightened orange level all the time. The big guy is pissed. We should change it to red.
And what's with these mudslides and avalanches. This girl is not sure footed these days anyway.

To ice on the cake ... wild and woolly weather is screaming across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. Thirty-one tornadoes ... big freakin' twisters ... touched down. The storm chasers didn't know which way to turn. And I thank my lucky stars not to be hovering in the tiny, claustrophobic laundry room next to the empty double garage which would suck me into the whirling vortex from my cellarless house on the edge of the prairie.


Earth to Alice. Come in, please. I get it. The message is loud and clear. Mother Nature has her panties in a wad. Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

Glad I prefer my martinis shaken, not stirred. Maybe there is a silver lining to those green-black swirling funnel clouds after all. Cheers!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 1970

It seems like I was everywhere during the heady, waning days of the late sixties and early seventies. I was. And, I wasn't.

But this time I was.

Forty years ago today.

Philadelphia. Dogwood and magnolia blossoms in full bloom. Us, too.

The first Earth Day. April 22, 1970. An environmental teach-in.


Propelled by a sense of urgency. Threats to the environment. The burning Cuyahoga River. Acid rain. Napalm deforestations. We were killing our earth. The penultimate wasting asset. Our home. Our neighborhood. Decaying before our eyes.

Our idealistic ... and ironically quite logical ... Woodstock Nation sensibilities threatened. Mocked by multinational corporations, crop dusters, aging coal-fueled factories and a brand spanking new interstate highway system luring Detroit's automakers to quintuple output. Trains, buses, monorails ... public transportation infrastructure be damned.

In short, the globe's natural resources were depleting rapidly before our eyes. Acid rain poured into our rivers, our streams, our fishing habitats. Life sustaining water contaminated. Shrouds of heavy yellow smog and gritty coal particles from factories raging uncontrolled polluted the skies. We were killing the planet. One neighborhood at a time. Single-handed. Headed for hell in a handbasket.

Unconscionable trade-offs. Corporate interests v the health of our unborn children's children's children. We’re simply not going to all wake up, sing Kumbaya around a cackling camp fire and tackle these problems.

Altogether some 20 million people – 10% of the U.S. population – participated in 1970 Earth Day teach-ins, marches, and rallies across the country. Nearly half were students. I was one of them. On the Earth Day organizing committee. Lured by the promise of saving our habitat. Our planet. Hand-in-hand, but of course, with brilliant, motivated, mostly good looking (if you could imagine their fresh faces sans beards) college boys from all over the east coast. My Briarcliff suite mate, Jill Gardner, dating Larry Rockefeller got us the gig. Weekly treks to either The City (New York, of course), Philadelphia or D.C.

A happening. Inspired by the Apollo 11 moon landing the prior summer. We were energized. Propelled by the Moody Blues in their lyrical, psychedelic ode to our children's children's children born from Native American wisdom.


[© 1969 Deram/Polydor. All rights reserved.]


So where are we now? These 40 years later? Same place. Same destruction. Greying hair and apathy. Good God. The more we changed, the more we stayed the same.

Treat the earth well.
It was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our Children.
~ Ancient Indian Saying

Our radical, forward thinking uprising morphed four decades later into an innocuous Hallmark greeting card.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Namaste

My mind unfolds completely. My inaugural walk through the village with Bailey since my badly sprained ligaments benched me last month. No longer on hiatus. Total immersion. I float refreshed. Lost in the movement of placing one foot in front of the other. The familiar rhythm. My pace quickens. Adding an extra mile. Just because.

It has been forever. If forever is measured in days. Thirty-one days. And sometimes it is. Know you know what I mean.

It feels good. Being in the zone. And by zone I am not referring to the twilight one where I have been residing uneasily since my return in March from Oz 's Emerald City on the other coast. Yep. There they go. The lions, tigers and bears. Oh my. Noxious gasses ooze from the tips of my well-worn New Balance sneakers. I feel lighter, more graceful already.

But hey what gives? Is my right knee emitting a few sharp reminder pangs? Nope. Ignore it. Don't succumb. Motor through it. Persevere. They'll vanish. Step it up a notch. I'll pop two tiny blue Aleves when I get home. Not gonna let this curtail a thing. Not when I am getting back in the groove.

Zap. Oh no. Gone is the fluid dynamics of a few moments ago. Phooey. I am perplexed. And I hate confusion. Hate it. Need to come up with an alternative. Must regain mental focus. C'mon think, Alice. Think. Gotta incorporate a way to get out of my head. Let the calm wash over me. Gheesh. Here goes that strategic mind of mine. Crowding out the quietude. Scrolling through the options. What would I do? What could I do? What should I do? Damn.

I know. I know. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda. I don't even realize I am make the sign of a cross with Baileys leash and my right hand waving frantically to ward off the evils of remorse. I am mumbling out loud now. Just under my breath. But noticeable. Bailey looks at me thinking I am saying treat. I am saying shit. Two teen age boys pass their heads spin around quickly afraid to stare at the crazy loon with the dog. The Wicked Witch of the East muttering x-rated expletives. They pedal as fast as their skinny legs will allow. Don't look back. Don't look back.

Who the hell cares what they think? I need to figure this out. Now. Begone demons lurking at the surface threatening my dreams. Dissipate you terrors wreaking havoc with my confidence. Take this. Whoosh them away, gnarly broom. Send them out into the ether world swirling. The boys are rounding the corner. Not turning their heads. I brandish a two foot stick like Zorro. Hobbling back to my house at a snail's pace.

I must find the release valve. Work out the kinks crippling my ability to move forward ... literally and figuratively. Reclaim my inner calm. Guide and re-center this journey of mine into the next chapter. Get back in touch with my long-put-away-on-the-top-shelf-of-the-closet serenity.



I halt and look up. There above Salon 96 where darling Cheryl keeps my tresses looking oh so chic is the answer. The Nataraja School of Yoga. I have passed this a bazillion times. But here it is shining effervescently. Nataraja. The cosmic dancer who performs his divine dance to destroy a weary universe and make preparations for the Hindi god Brahma to start the process of creation. God knows I am weary from the negativity of the last few weeks.

My pulse relaxes. This is it. Gentle yoga classes are offered Mondays. I can start next week.


Namaste.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pokagon

I spent the morning at sleep-away camp.

Not really. The smells of the twelve cubic yards of dark pine mulch I spread over the flower beds in the front of my house transported me seamlessly through time. Back to the mid-1960s. Where summertime meant navy shorts and white blouses with Peter Pan collars. All whites on Sundays when the flag was raised outside the log built lodge overlooking Lake James at Camp Pokagon Girls Camp. The northeast corner of Indiana, a few miles from the Michigan state line.

Ahh. The memories lulled me deeply as I dragged 50 pound bags from my Volvo parked as close as I could get it to the house. Flat rake and snow shovel at the ready. My knee, which incidentally had totally stopped hurting a few days ago, now aggravated by back-to-back two mile walks with Bailey through the neighborhood. The firsts in over a month.

As I emptied the six very large and super heavy bags raking the cool, damp bark I was swept back 45 years to the sweet pungent scent of tall evergreens coolly shading the pathways from cabin to cabin. Lodge to the horse trails to the Sweet Spot where we purchased Nehi soda pop (haha, in Kentucky being southern and all we called everything Coke even when we meant a ginger ale or a Dr. Pepper) and frozen Milky Ways with tear off coupons in denominations ranging from one cent to a quarter.


Red licorice sticks and penny candy from wide-mouth glass jars on the wooden counters at Bledsoe's, a country store, where we dragged our canoes up the mostly sandy slope after emerging from lily pad covered streams on the other side of Lake James. If lucky, freckled boys from our brother camp would stop by and we would engage in preteen giggles eyeing each other, making mental notes of whom to seek out at the upcoming dance.


Dionne Warwick singing of parking lots and directions to San Jose after lights out. The muslin sheets and thin wool blanket pulled over my head as I devoured Nancy Drew books and Archie comics by flashlight. The ear plug of my transistor radio falling out. Tuned to WOWO-AM 1190, a clear channel AM radio station heard all the way to Nashville and New York and Topeka and Toronto. Oddly, twenty five years later I would structure debt financing for the acquisition of WOWO by my number one client, Price Communications, in 1981.


The top bunk of Cabin 19 where as a senior camper I scrawled the names of boys I have long forgotten in permanent Magic Marker with hearts and xxoo's and curlicues. Where I missed a period, irregular as always, and knew ... just knew I was pregnant. Penned a letter marked CONFIDENTIAL in big red letters across the seal and posted it directly to my pediatrician - you know him ... the one and only Needle Happy Harris. Spelled out the situation. I was in the family way. The culprit? A rampant sperm that swam across the lake from boys camp and squiggled its way into my loose boxer cut swimsuit and straight to one of my newly fertile eggs. One of my first scares. My Mom and Dr. Harris amused by the ignorance of a wide-eyed innocent emerging into womanhood.


Watauga v Nolichucky. Color wars. My yellow and green team, the Wataugas, always the victors. Lemons and limes. C'est moi to this day! My two. Count 'em, two trophies. Both awarded the same year. Best Camper. High Merits earned most likely for giving long back rubs to Lynn Glendenning, my cabin counselor from Ohio, who dated Larry Smucker of jelly and jam fame (three gingham topped jars - peach, apricot and raspberry preserves - are perched on the right door of my fridge as we speak!). She rewarded me generously with lots of points. But of course!

Next I found myself clutching the gunwales of the huge yellow whale boat jettisoning around the lake, my tangled hair flying in the wind. My sun burnt face smiling widely. My very homesick sister, Robin, along for the ride. A campfire and roasted marshmallows awaited on the beach.

The hours this morning melted into the delicious memories of the last summer of my childhood at the cusp of my tomorrows.

Cheers ... to my inner child, tanned legs skipping through the refreshing shade of tall evergreens. Pony tails flying.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Quinceañera

Three things stand out as I watched CNN in horror fifteen years ago today sitting with other moms on blue leatherette couches facing the room length picture window of an indoor tennis facility in Fairfield County Connecticut while my seven year old son was volleying in his beginner class on the other side of the glass.

1) The first thoughts racing across my screaming mind blamed a foreign, rogue nation lashing out at America's riches, ideals and freedoms.

2) In a flash, a nano-moment, our country lost whatever innocence regained over the fifty years since the end of World War II destabilizing our confidence.

3) The other shoe would surely drop. The world, my world, shaken by its roots indelibly altering the facade and ripping at its core.


A terrorist attack on American soil. Not an American territory. Not where we had interests. Piercing the heart of our country. Our values. Our pioneer sensibilities. A yellow Ryder truck, the one we use to move belongings from from our family homes to our first apartments, explosively detonating at that very moment when office workers placed steaming mugs of coffee on their desks to open the morning email. *BLAM* The entire front side of the glass and steel office building sheared off. *ZIP* In one quick motion as if it were the rind of a tangerine.

Wrong. Right. Right.

It would be six years until #1 was correct. An eye for an eye. Vengeance from these ordinarily passive, polite church going people. Dead man walking. June 11, 2001. The country watched in disgust. Oklahoma in vindication. Timothy McVeigh gazed diabolically at the camera perched above the gurney in the death chamber in Colorado where his executioners tightened the wrist and ankle straps and he glared directly into our souls haunting. Three months to the day later our worst fears realized.

A whacko revenging Waco. Undermining our complacency. The Murrah Building and the white brick YMCA across the street ripped apart by the seams. Inners exposed. Shrapnel, body parts, office furnishings, children's shoes and teddy bears buried in rubble. 168 innocents perished. Hundreds more injured. This city of nearly one million wounded gravely. The vulnerabilities of our nation exposed. Beirut comes to the heartland.

Oklahoma City. Known previously to me as a faster-than-fast drive-through. Jesus Christ Superstar blaring on the eight track. Orion's belt dimming in the pre-dawn sky. A cross-country college excursion. Once the cow town a pit-stop on the old Mother Road. Route 66 long since replaced by six lane I-40. Oil derricks silhouetted in the dark purple sky. Nary a tree in sight. One year after the bombing Charlie and I left our own shattered world in the rarefied northeast to resettle and reclaim our souls in the cross-roads of America.

So it is with a deep respect for my former neighbors on the edge of the prairie in the buckle of the Bible belt that I raise my glass in memoriam of that fateful day when the sky came tumbling down.

To the remarkable rebirth of that former dusty cowboy town into the booming metropolis that it has become ... and to its promising future held firmly in place by the strong moral fiber from which it is woven. Salut!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hey, ya fergot La Yogurt

It's all in a name. Smoke, ash and lava spewing forth from the "vowel-and-liquid-consonant-lubricated slopes" of Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano's 16-letter, six-and-a-half-syllable eruption that is shaking our modern boundaryless world by the balls. Reeking havoc on international flights. Delaying shipments of fresh flowers, techno gadgets and human organs. Not since Pompeii has there been more of a threat to civilization.

[Arnar Thorsson/Associated Press]

Global interruption. Movement halted dead in its tracks. Schedules emphatically delayed. Nonnegotiable. Irrevocable. No ability to engage in a dance of options and alternatives with a rogue nation. Mother Nature's very own atomic bomb spilling silica from a red-hot pimple. Oozing fire and sediment into the atmosphere. Iran and Al-Qaida silently taking claim.

Charlie and I were perplexed when we visited the magical, progressive Reykjavík in late November 2004 on our way to Scotland and a university tour. Land of the noontime moon. Sunrise at 1:30 in the afternoon. Dusk a few hours later. The Northern Lights shot psychedelic across the dark winter sky. Humored by the fact that Icelanders don’t have last names! They go by their first name followed by the name of their father. Gutrid Hansdóttir. Katrín Jakobsdóttir. And my always-in-the-swing-of-things fatherless son, Charles Alicesson, scarfed down his midday Yule smörgåsbord with gusto.

The Icelanders giggle at our confusion and momentary lapse in being know it alls. Mocking us gently. Perhaps it is their not-so-subtle attempt to fissure their financial obligations. An email is circulating cyberspace: “Put 30 billion euros in unmarked bills in a bag by the gate of the Icelandic embassy in London, and we’ll turn off the volcano.”

“Eyja” is the Icelandic word for island. “Fjalla” means mountain. “Jokull” is glacier. Simple really if we Americans knew the etymology of those Norse words.

We are stymied. English speakers don't even know where to start. How to break the name apart. Which syllables are for emphasis. Which silent. Do the consonants sound like the letter represented. Or another altogether. How do the double Ls come out sounding like a T? Jibberish. Jabberwocky. But hey, we cannot read, much less pronounce, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Mandarin, Greek, Russian or Latvian either. Icelandish. Outlandish, really.

With the NFL draft just a week away, maybe we better get cracking on teaching folks to pronounce “Ndamukong”.

I raise my icy glass of Aquavit. Cheers!

[Special thanks to New York Times for the pronunciation and translation. Note: Blog title is how the glacier is pronounced!]

Friday, April 16, 2010

Drizzles

Bit by bit the life is being sucked out of my spirit. Nary a job, part time, seasonal or other on the horizon. The economy downsized the north New England business community and it continues.

And, all I want is to write. Prepare the lengthy, complex CELTA application for acceptance to the Hanoi language training center. And, most emphatically, save a few dollars to cover my minimized expenses on the ground here in Maine. Add meager (yet needed) funds for my coming out of the 50s celebration. The one that will mark the beginning of the next leg of my hopalong journey.

So today I spent writing cover letters for employers in those industries I swore up and down to never return. No need to mention. Just imagine the feeling of saying NO. Then sucking it up in order to maybe, if I am not too old or over qualified or not lacking in experience, accept a position that will entrap my spirit. Egads.


Sign me up for an attitude adjustment. Or, a long walk along the sandy Gooches Beach a few short miles from here. Probably one with my darling Bailey in the 'hood. The one on the shore without. So I can really relax. Commune with my daddy. Try to get a message from the other side ... or the inner me.

But grey sodden clouds trickle cold wet drops on my dampened spirits. But only for a few more days. Then I can burst forth into the chartreuse leafed trees sprouting new and the warmer yellow sunshine.

In the meantime, I vow to peruse every posting on that god awful Craig's List. I might even plan a fake vacation to Buenos Aires where castanets click and lacy mantillas flow around sultry dancers gracefully, angrily dueling in erotic danceplay on the crowded floors in a zillion barrooms across the Paris of South America.


I raise a glass of ruby Malbec and toast my dreams ... glistening with rain drops and tears.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Perceptions

The stakes escalate. The reality behind matter. What does it matter really?


Outfitted in black: slacks, Tory Burch sweater with brass signature buttons, Longchamps purse. I seem the paragon of ample accounts. But no. Not really. Just the appearance. Not the reality. Perceptions.

Italian leather portfolio. A sexy, confident lemony yellow. Laptop and files packed neatly inside giving it weight. The semblance of professional chic. On her way to a client meeting. Not. Perceptions.

An LV bag. Gorgeous design. Wallet slim. All the right credit cards. Darling regiment striped black-brown Fendi cosmetic bag concealing make-up from Walmart aisles and Rite-Aid bins. Seemingly plush. Knowingly broke. Perceptions.

A quaint antique house in the village. Stunningly painted. Modestly landscaped. The living room and dining salon adorned with 16th century hand painted engravings. Lovely Chippendale camel-back love seats. A four hundred year old Oushak. Original oils framed lovingly. Riches. Hardly. Perceptions.

Thick photograph albums illustrating journeys across the globe. Five star hotels. Movie starred lobbies. Private touring into the vineyards. Extravagance. Hotels.com bookings. Air mile fueled crossings. Perceptions.

Brilliant discourse. Witty interjections. The gourmet supper guests elbows touching around a Charleston-inspired mahogany oval scalloped table on anthacus carved pedestal legs. Jovial banters. Candlelit diners clinking glasses of bubbly Champagne. Economy bottles of sparkling Chilean wine. Frivolous? No indeed. Perceptions.

Cheers to the smoke and mirrors gaily shrouding the anguish felt deep in the pit of my emptying pocketbook.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lemon Slices

Peeling the rind from this thick-skinned lemon reveals a few more slices of this steel magnolia than you may or may not (or want to) know. But add me to your beverage of choice, squeeze me over fresh greens or grate me into a light summer mousse for a bit of zest! Refreshing. Promise.


1. I have visited 46 states (North Dakota, Montana, Oregon and Hawaii are still on my list), five continents (here I come South America! not so sure, Antarctica), both Iceland and Greenland and crossed most of the world's oceans. I am scheduling a fast jaunt via Amtrak from the Twin Cities across those three states in the Lower 48 I am missing. And plan to hula in Hawaii on a forthcoming trip to southeast Asia. Argentina has been a destination for most of the past five years. A milonga in Buenos Aires awaits. The frozen southern nether reaches are not in my scope quite yet. Although I did see some dwarf penguins in South Africa near the Cape of Good Hope. So you never know!

2. In my next life (I know I am coming back and that is another story), I'll be a hoofer (chorus girl, not race horse) on Broadway. Being 'on the boards' is in my soul. Something tells me in a prior life I was an ill-fated ballerina in 19th century France, or a courtesan. Not too sure. The musicality, talent and the grace has eluded me in this carnation ... but not in my dreams!

3. It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved. I senselessly harbored the deepest feelings for a gentle man who could never commit. Despite nearly thirty years of hapless and countless near hookups traversing the country from the Colorado Rockies to the megalopolis on the East Coast. Life goes on.

4. My number one secret pleasure is _______. Hey, if I made it known in this public forum with all to know, then it wouldn't be mine to hide guiltily.

5. I miss my Grandma Alice more than you'd ever imagine. Sadly, I am living her life sans the glamour.




6. Country western music is so much better in the southwest. I loved two-stepping backwards across a floor covered in sawdust and cornmeal. Sliding in my tan suede cowgirl boots in Oklahoma cowboy bars. Yee-haw!

7. My iced tea is brewed fresh daily from Earl Grey, Constant Comment and orange pekoe. I love it sweetened with Sweet and Low, garnished with oranges ... but never (and I mean not ever) sliced lemons. That lemonade-iced tea concoction favored at country clubs and golf courses would never pass my lips. Nor can I tolerate lemon slices in water, TaB, diet coke. Lemons are for salmon, lobster, Dover sole, asparagus. Now you know. Limes on the other hand add zip to cola!


Cheers ... to peeling back a bit more from this pithy citrus and punching up the flavor a notch or two!

Feed Your Head

It was 1969. One of those days I will never forget. Ever.

We emerged one toke over the line from the shabby Astor Place subway station. The bowels of the East Village. Seedy New York. The skies buzzed purple. The bare trees of Tompkins Square Park ominous in winter sleek. We moved as a unit. Swaying up the concrete steps pushed forward by gentle swarms of long haired, tie-dyed, bell bottomed kids into a brisk November evening. The air pungent. Sweet, smokey scents drifting from brass pipes with primo pellets. Burning Moroccan resin. Loosely wrapped Zig Zag papers burning unevenly with Kentucky Blue passed freely among the throngs of ebullient hippies, students. Anyone under thirty really. Reefer madness. Nixon was cringing in la maison blanche. We were floating.

It was a happening. My first. 1969. A few months into the Woodstock Nation. I had just arrived from the innocence of a southern childhood. Delivered expectantly into a city a buzz with change. I happily traded color-coordinated Pappagallo skimmer flats paired with matching Lady Bug heather skirt and sweater ensembles for the new costume of the day. Fringed tan suede vest beaded the colors of the rainbow cropped mid-thigh swaying gracefully over slim Landlubber very low cut jeans, the sleeves of my silk blouse billowing as they slipped unfettered from the Indian poncho I had borrowed earlier from Christine Palmer. Hints of my gold hoop earrings peeked tantalizingly through stray locks that framed my fresh, eager face, my thick chestnut hair grazing my nubile waist. Nothing matched. I was ecstatic.

Here we were. In the thick of the burgeoning Woodstock revolution. My heart raced. My eyes blurred with this sea of young humanity flowing along the sidewalks toward Bill Graham's rock palace. The Fillmore East.


The Jefferson Airplane silhouetted by an enormous silver cinema screen stretching floor-to-the-tippy-top of the proscenium. Reflecting a liquid light show. Flowing psychedelic art. The kaleidoscope of intense color swirling blobs, pooling, morphing from indefinable shape to another whether my eyes were shut or not. My very own Elvis painting on the black velvet screen of my inner eyelids. Cool. I made my way up the stairs leading to the balcony. First row center.

White Rabbit on You Tube

Gracie Slick sang of Alice's Adventures into Wonderland. I hung on her every word. The nimble white rabbit luring me further into a trance. Lyrical comparisons to the hallucinatory effects of psychedelic drugs such as magic mushrooms and unknown liquids commingled and interspersed with the imagery found in the fantasy works of Lewis Carroll's stream of consciousness tales penned a century before. References in this fabled song so obvious to my very stoned self: the seductive hookah-smoking caterpillar, gallant White Knight, bitchy premenstrual Red Queen, wise Dormouse ... and experimenting Alice herself. My favorite childhood stories woven into my newly adult sensibilities. Or so I imagined.

What does this euphoric memory of my younger college age self have to do with anything? Caught up in the moment. High on life. The intensity. The promise. Oh yes. I do remember. So I still have a few active brain cells in my much-needed-to-be defragged hard drive. File drawers rusted sticky must be lubricated. Loosened up so the sparks can ignite cogent thought.


Yesterday morning's Health section in the New York Times featured an article touting the use of hallucinogens, the magic mushroom, psilocybin to be exact, in the treatment of despair. Doctors, not Timothy Leary of course, at Johns Hopkins medical school are conducting clinical trials for depression in cancer patients, end of life anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder ... and get this: addiction to drugs and alcohol. Now that's what I am talking about! Everything seems to have come full circle. Maybe that is what has kept me buoyed up all these years. Unburdened by substance abuse. No reaction to the mild terror I experienced in that marriage a decade and a half ago.

Cheers ... to acid flashbacks and psychedelic induced pyrotechnic light shows ... and to bona fide medical studies that might bring it all back again. This time funded by Medicare!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Carnival Gypsy

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Step right up! See the amazing chestnut haired gypsy pivot on the edge. Watch her stand precariously close to the abyss. All for one shiny quarter. Roll back pricing to when things went awry. A veritable bargain. The 1980s price of a bag of M&Ms.


C'mon in. What are you waiting for? The show is beginning. See the stunning woman behind the curtain teeter and catch her balance. Watch the marvel of a zig-zag career unfold before your very eyes. See the effects of a crooked journey lived between two parallel lines. Arcing this way and that. Jagged. Will she tumble? Fall into the money pit swarming with slithering monsters? Wobble? Vacillate? Or, be fortunate? Regain her composure. Pirouette gracefully and find her way.

No? Not scary enough? It is to her. But hey! For an extra nickel she'll take a spin on the wheel of fortune. Don't miss the most nerve-wracking show on this slice of earth. Her fate in her own hands. One shot. All or nothing. Can she do it? Reverse this nasty trend? Either way this is the greatest act on the midway. Be entertained. Amused. Watch her take yet another risk.

Okay. Okay. I am not a freak on the midway of life. Not yet. The carnival barker safely at bay for the time being. But it's not totally out of the realm of possibility. A slight divot here. A bit of a waver there. The scales of justice not quite level. It can go either way.

But hey ... my addled brain cannot absorb much more see-sawing. So, I am doing what any insightful woman on the edge would do. I am consulting the cards.

Nope. Not a trip to the closest casino. That would be Foxwoods in Connecticut. Nor a jaunt to Atlantic City for a romp along the cheesy navy blue Boardwalk, past seedy yellowing Marvin Gardens and gritty pale Ventnor Avenue. No peeking at the Goren Bridge For Beginners and accompanying deck, dogeared not by me but my Mom who thinks it would be another arrow in my quiver. Another skill to add to my already overflowing CV. And most definitely not the worn out pinochle deck of my grandfather's I have in the mildewing cardboard carton stored somewhere in the dark, damp dungeon that is my basement.

Have you deduced which cards? A few of you have it figured out. I have consulted them before, hesitatingly. That is why you are my friends. You get it ... and for the most part me. So without further ado ... drum roll please ... the card of the day (she says trembling omniscient with both fear and eager anticipation): The Wheel of Fortune. Da-da!


Yes, faithful readers, the wheel of fortune has begun to turn in my favor. Giving me a needed boost. My projects can now enjoy great success. Soon I will be reaping benefits. Yay. I can handle that news. A cycle is continuing and its not the spin cycle on my aging GE washer. The interpretation goes on: "Success. Unexpected luck. Happiness. Something new is emerging and will bring new and exciting energy. Opportunity. Have faith in what is happening at the moment. Divine forces at work to bring good fortune into your life. Trust in the cycle of life. Possible new money on the way."

Nouveau riche? Hell, that would be fine with me. Coins are good things. I might even flip one tomorrow.

Cheers! Let the games begin ...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ocracoke

Oh well. I was in the process of musing about slices of lemons. Those bittersweet vignettes that randomly overtake the day-to-day-workaday world to bring a bit of saccharine, sunshine or a sour taste into our lives. But the writing gods had other plans for my 'pen'.

B. Miller, the renowned author of dark fiction, mentioned in her blog this morning where she'd rather be spending her time today instead of where she is going to be (B's Blog) and transported me silkily back to the early spring of 1971 on a windy beach in the sparsely populated Outer Banks of North Carolina.

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore to be exact. Our sought-after, secret destination after nearly 20 hours of driving through the night in sleet and winter mess along the eastern seaboard from colleges in the rarefied northeast. Sallie, Bob, Bruce, Mickey, David and I had set up camp deep in the wind-whipped sea grass covered dunes. Out of the line of sight from muscular, red-necked North Carolina troopers on patrol just hankering to put an abrupt end to the shenanigans of six upper middle class, weekend hippies from north of the Mason-Dixon line, the intelligentsia (the boys in their final year at Dartmouth) ... effete intellectual snobs as just described by Spiro Agnew our illustrious veep on the White House lawn. Gheesh.

We set up our mini-tent city, one brand new canopied LL Bean canvas yurt-like home for each couple. A fourth for our kitchen/mess hall. I sat quietly over on a far away dune contemplating nearly a week without a place for my toilette which I now realized would most likely be behind the sand mound I was leaning against. This rustic experience sounded like a fine idea before we left. Romantic evenings under the stars. Psychedelic-fueled survivor games that had more to do with us being the last humans on earth than who was getting voted off the island. All now totally foreign to this never-get-dirt-under-my-fingernails, much less sand in the hoo-hoo, girl who avoided Dad's fishing/camping jaunts to Bernheim Forest at all costs.

But here I was. Camping on a deserted national treasure. A felony for the trespassing. Death by shooting squad for the sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll. Deep swallow. Transform my squeamish nature. Voila. I could get into this. Five days of roughing it in the treasure filled sands with my 6 foot, blond, incredibly smart and talented boyfriend. No cell phones (hey this was 1971 for god sakes). No cameras. No nothing. No links to home. Or civilization. Pirates! My gold hoops and lime green bandanna perfectly in style a major tip off that I was more costume driven than most campers. It was all in the outfit.


Several days into our Hatteras adventure we piled into the back of the orange VW bus with the brown and yellow gingham curtains fluttering at the windows made lovingly for Bob by Sallie (they are still together after four decades ... wow ... I should have glommed on to her techniques as David is nowhere to be found ... but that is another story) for our first official outing. We carefully camouflaged our humble abodes. Put out the fire and buried it under the deep sand. Packed our gear into the tents. Swallowed synthetic mushrooms. And pointed our van south. To the island of Ocracoke floating off the tip of the cape. Separated from the land mass by hurricanes past. Attracting real pirates in the nearly unnavigable waters. Reportedly Blackbeard met his death here in the early 1700s. A storied, fabled, magical place. Twinkling in the spring sunshine. Sparkles dancing off the waters.

By the time we boarded the ferry our minds were abuzz with lightshows as preMTV videos scanned across our minds' eyes. Bob was playing his mouth harp while Bruce accompanied him on an old Martin acoustic. Sallie swirled. Her Indian print skirt floating gaily around her slender legs. We were blissed. In more ways than one. Swaying to the familiar rock and roll beat of folkadelic songsters.

Our island sojourn was amazing. Spanish moss drooped from the trees in the historic village of colonial homes and gas lamps. The wide sandy white beach flat and pristine. Too early in the season, there were few residents and no other tourists. We had the island mostly to ourselves and played merrily. Catching the last ferry back to the mainland, we stopped along the way to shower and freshen up and grab a bite to eat at the diner along the way.

We arrived back at our camp site sated, relaxed ... and WOW totally surprised. Our site was surrounded by what looked like an entire squadron of military personnel. Going through our things were a dozen of the meanest looking state troopers this side of Fort Bragg. They had spotted us from the air. A routine fly-over. Get the hell outta here. And we did. Tore down the tents and scurried as fast as our heart-thumping, psychedelic deflating minds would allow. Thank the lord we had taken the 'contraband' and left no trace behind.

Driving up the highway we had our very own motorcycle escort. Four uniformed troopers. Plus a NC Highway Patrol car leading the way. Headlights on. Blue lights flashing. Bubbas on parade along Route 12. Past Nags Head. Past Kitty Hawk where the first airplane took flight. Turn north at US Route 158 and head within the speed limit of course straight toward Virginia and the state line. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. With the strictest of orders never, and they meant do not ever, come back to the illustrious state of North Carolina.

I have visited the state often in the years since. It is one of my favorites. The ocean, the mountains, good southern cooking and gracious hospitality. Invested in an emerging tech venture. Financed two UHF television stations. Had a financial services consulting client in Morehead City. Visit Raleigh and my cousins every few years. But I always look over my shoulder ... just in case.

Cheers to getting out of good ol' boy North Carolina with nary a warning ... and not needing a passport or to meet stringent homeland security officers on re-entry!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Layers

Frightfully low. Bare bottom. The piggy bank has no rattle. No tinkling of coins. Dare I freak? No. I suck it up. Carry on.

Take that job as a Walmart greeter. No not that one, but I know it'll be another one as insipid. And embarrassing. Honorable employment, AARP friendly and with a double deep discount would make the items I purchase virtually free. But somehow I do not believe it would be good for my morale. My sense of self. My confidence. But never say never. That is my motto.

Funny how life comes at you. Multilayered. Bittersweet. Awfully good. Brilliantly dull. Completely unfinished. Dangerously safe. Icy hot. Good grief. Oxymoronic.

So with shrinking coffers and a glum outlook this afternoon, I did what any stylish woman with aplomb and time on her hands would do ... drove straight to my village coiffeur. Just like the ladies who lunch. Midday frivolity. Straight to Salon 96, in the nearby neighborhood shopping center around the corner from the (sadly) soon-to-be closing Garden Street Market next door to Bailey's favorite food store, It's Reigning Cats and Dogs, to pay darling Cheryl with au courant hair that only a twenty-something can pull off -- layered blond on top and black underneath -- a visit.

A subtle change. Nothing dramatic. Add vibrancy and shape into my tresses and my amorphous life. Snip out the weight. A bit of pizzazz to add sparkle to this rain dreary day ... and my ennui.

So tonight I sit at home resplendent with slightly updated, lightly layered locks. Part Jennifer Aniston, part an age-appropriate Sally Fields. Read: a more tousled, casual look. My thick chestnut hair more delicately gracing the top of my shoulder framing my face in a come hither look. Which makes Bailey more attentive. But, hey, she wouldn't care if I was sporting a burka so long as I come bearing treats.

Cheers to peeling the layers one sliver at a time. I am just getting started. Who knows what is next!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

In the Spring of Life

The drive is familiar. I could do it with my eyes shut. Well almost. The Charles River wending its way from the Science Museum and the Longfellow Bridge past the Hatch Memorial Shell where Arthur Fiedler struck up the patriotic Pops to chime in America's birthday and fireworks burst overhead to the delight of 500,000 Bostonians celebration our Bicentennial. Tall ships in the Boston Harbor. A brave new world with no troops in southeast Asia. Ah memories. 1976. A lifetime ago when it was I poised on the cusp of a brave new me ... chomping at the bit to experience what life had in store. Oddly, I still am exploring the options. Imagining the possibilities. Dreaming of what might be. Of what is to come.

Back to today. Charlie and I are in our trusty Volvo wagon heading west on Storrow Drive back to Harvard and the remaining six weeks of his college career. Senior spring. Replete with parties and papers and best of friends celebrating before they embark toward their futures shedding the last vestiges of their childhoods. Confident young men and women. Lovely. Optimistic. Innocent.

We are enjoying a few final moments before classes resume and this Mom heads back north. The route gracefully winds along side the grassy promenade swarming with bikers, joggers and lovers hand in hand in this 'feels like summer' morning. Weeping willows along the Esplanade shimmer chartreuse. Bradford Pears boast their frothy white billows next to red buds trees aflame with, well, deep pink-red blossoms. Sugar magnolias burst forth pink plumes and dogwoods sway white lacy against the pastel blue skies filled with wisps of white clouds. Spring is arriving early this year. And nowhere is more glorious than in Boston. Along the Charles. In the Commons. And especially in the Public Gardens where freshly painted swan boats glide smoothly across the glassy pond.

As the river turns the bridge frames the end of Charlie's student life, the commencement. Three and a half decades ago I, too, made this journey. Albeit from the other side of the river. Lowell House tower comes into view. We are struck by the sheer beauty of this gorgeous spring day. Awed by the trajectory of his journey. Propelled by a quest that began years ago in an ivy covered brick building, his passion for the post colonial developing world ignited by Drs. Shaw and Quattlebaum when he was a Lower. A tenth grader who grabbed the opportunity to explore rich and ancient cultures connecting economic progression from one dot to the next.


Cheers to your dreams ... may they carry you comfortably ... and inspire your footsteps, with love.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

He'll Be Comin' Around the Mountain ...

Charlie is popping home for less than 12 hours for the quickest of visits. The reason? Writers on a New England Stage: Michael Lewis. Renowned author of Liar's Poker, Moneyball, and most recently (and the reason for his book tour) The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine.

This highly regarded expose, a wildly popular character-rich and darkly humorous account of how the U.S. economy “was driven over the cliff” by a collection of professionals entrenched in the financial world, exposing today’s world of high finance – and financial collapse. Wall Street of the 1980s redux. 1929, too. In fact greed gobbled up fortunes in the tulipmania craze in mid-17th century Holland. Will they ever learn? Doubtful. IBers run amok. It'll happen again and again.

Now I am unsure why this trip is necessary. Charlie attends Harvard. Cambridge, or at the very least Boston, is home to curious intellectuals and authors hawking their wares. In fact, he is a member of Hasty Pudding who attracts celebs relentlessly. I'd have thought he'd be fêted there. Or parodied.

But I am a happy Mama. Very. It has been months since he was last at home. The dust bunnies under his maple chest of drawers next to his idled cello in its forest green hard plastic case were floating around unnoticed until I whooshed them into the Dust Buster yesterday. My prodigal son returns. But I am not complaining. Opposite. I am thrilled. Delighted. Readying the house and the fridge. Paninis and a red cabbage confetti slaw après theatre.

In less than an hour I leave for the train station to fetch him from a two hour trip up the rails from North Station. Even Bailey knows something exciting is happening. Her tail wags furiously at the mere mention of his name. This time next year Charlie will have been living in Hong Kong for some time. College and boarding school in Massachusetts along with the ubiquitous commuter fast train a distant memory.

An evening out tonight followed by a late night supper in our charming home. The summery weather warm enough to dine al fresco. A special taste treat awaits in my new red enameled sandwich grill. Gruyere and ham and a fresh Dijon. Mmmmm. Nums! And a sip of bubbly ... just because.

Cheers to the tracks bringing my darling son home ... if only for the briefest of visits.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cousins, Cousines

Last night I had the most marvelous dream. It was warm and delicious in a way that sepia toned pictures connote well being and nostalgia. The edges were slightly crinkled. And the smells. Ah the scent of freshly cut grass and mint by the back door. The aroma of Pearl's sweet yeast rolls rising cloverleaf in the aluminum cupcake pan.

The setting was Lexington, Kentucky chez Grandmother and Grandfather. Pretty formal for Ma and BaBa which were their names when we were toddlers. Somehow Rose and Lester determined we were getting too big, too grown-up for the tom-foolery of babied nomenclature.

The season? Why summer of course. The year? Late 1950s most likely if the hi-fi in the corner of the grey chintz living room held the clue. Also grandfather's appearance in the dream at all. He barely made it into the 1960s, totally missing the JFK presidency which he would have loved. A handsome, tanned leader of the pack with a bright toothy smile. That would have made his refined, regal styled self proud.

The players: all the girl cousins and my little brother. Meredith and Leslie, my sister-cousins. Robin and Mary, my sister-sisters. And darling Willy who followed us everywhere then. My Mom had gathered us for supper on the brick terrace while she visited with her mom and decided which new dresses from Town and Country were appropriate for the parties back home.

We had been driven the 75 miles along old route US60 past white fences bordering rolling bluegrass fields, the Old Stone Inn, through Shelbyville and antique stores renowned the world over, the state capitol building in Frankfort with flower clock on the lawn in front of the DC styled dome-topped landmark. When we passed Calumet Farms where breeders had developed the perfect formula for birthing Kentucky Derby winners we knew it would be moments before we passed the Campbell House Inn on our way to Culpepper Road. Ninety minutes of rollicking fun in the back seats of the Ford Country Squire station wagon with the faux wood decals on the sides. Not a real 'woody', but way more modern.


In the dream we were darling southern girls, sweet and demure. My baby brother mimicking our every move. Hiding our mischievous grins while mooning the neighbors. Who knew we'd be patzed on the tokie by Grandfather when his neighbor reported our antics. Then sent to bed on the second floor with no central air and only the attic fan to stir a hot, humid breeze. But the dream ended well. I awoke with the distinct remembrance of being with my beloved family and feeling as if they were all still here with us.

Cheers to Grandmother and Grandfather ... and Willy! Come visit often. You are always welcome ;-)

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Pile Shrinks

One by one. Things are being extracted from the pile. Not by me who'd love nothing more than to go into the basement, the garage, the closet in the dish room to find nothing. Rien. Nada. No such luck!

We're not giving away the badminton set with net, are we? And you know I love croquet. Oh no. Not my fly fishing poles or tackle gear. You just never know, Mom. But you'll be in Asia, I plead. No matter. What about when I come home for vacations? The dialog continues. And the pile is shrinking.

My darling friend in Louisville believes that someday I will luxuriate on a weekend morning with a fabulous new lover and breakfast in bed. Don't toss my dream. Not worth the $2 each will bring. The desire and the possibility, priceless. So back goes the never used twin rattan and wicker bed trays on legs to support a lovely petit dejeuner of croissant, cafe au lait and figs. Just in case. Wouldn't want to jinx anything. Especially that! *wink, wink*

Even my mother is getting into the act. Remember the Pink Ladies that Bob and I used in Newton in the mid-seventies to get rid of Marcia's things before we moved to Chestnut Street on Beacon Hill? They whipped through the house and poof it was gone in a jiffy. We made so much money from the wannabe suburbanites. And I didn't have the heart to tell her that what was sold was as she so aptly said ... Marcia's ... and a bit tacky at that. Anyone with lime green shag in the living room accessorized a bit gaudy methinks.

You can probably get more on eBay. Don't sell anything for 50 cents. It might be worth more. A valuable find. I doubt it, but back goes the two George Forman grills, one large one small. The crepe maker from 1987. And the Pampered Gourmet pizza stone and stand still in the original box that I bought when a neighbor in Oklahoma had what amounts to a Tupperware party and I felt obliged (we always order pizza in anyway). And the madeleine pan I purchased in the early 1990s inspired by Cordon Bleu and magnificent desserts.

Second guessing filled my storage bin, my garage, Mom and Danal's barn, my basement and all my closets. Second guessing has kept me from paring down. Lightening up. I have lugged 15,000 pounds of my life back and forth across the country. Twice.

You know? I am ready to toss. So I say good riddance. Not to my dreams. Or the possibilities. But to way too many things I truly do not need. And besides some extra $$ would come in handy when I jaunt across the Pacific to southeast Asia in the fall. Even if only for a month. If I am flying light who knows what I might find?

Cheers to a lighter load! And to my dreams.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Noble House

She gracefully slid behind a few of the guests unnoticed and slipped through the fluttering sheer silk drapes to the terrace to catch her breath. And gather her thoughts. Immediately her liquid hazel green eyes glance upward searching the twilight sky for a trace of what was to come.

Hopeful, but not totally self-assured, she gazes deeply into the lavender horizon squinting as if that would help her see what was around the corner. In a few short months. But was transfixed at today. Unable to glimpse into what the immediate future might hold. Her heart skips a beat and a gentle lump forms in the base of her throat as her eyes fill with tears.

She manages to stop the flow by swallowing hard. Her mind's eye focused on a small tow headed boy smiling at the ducks wandering through the garden eating Ritz peanut butter crackers from his chubby hand.

It seemed as if it were the day after tomorrow. Her heart. Her joy. Her beloved son. He twin soul. Would gather his bags propelled by the loft beneath his wings and head overseas to commence his dream. Hong Kong. They had spoken of this possibility for several years. But here it was. Upon them. At summer's end.

Noble House. Tai Pan training with one of the early trading companies whose founders colonized the Chinese island in the early 19th century. A storied firm now spanning the globe conducting business across multiple industry sectors. A market leader. The utmost integrity guiding a principled trajectory. His dream. Her dream for him. Happening. Real. An achievement. The apex.

Her one wish is that this would be his noble house. His hearth. That it would challenge his intellect and inspire his path. She knows it will. This knowledge washes over her bringing a gentle inner peace. Her boy had become the man she envisioned over two decades ago in their Carnegie Hill apartment near the park. Cherished memories to fill a lifetime of dreams.

Cheers to my love. My darling son. Godspeed in a few months. With your mother's love, admiration and awe.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's All In A Name ... Or Is it?

Okay. I am putting this up to a vote. The slight. Ever so. Change to the name of my blogs. I am getting responses personally. Some yea. Some nay. So I am going to throw this out to the universe (small as it is) to chime in.

Should it be: When Life Hands You Lemons, Add Vodka! [Note I am really a gin drinker - Bombay - and a dirty martini three olives at that. But vodka sounded better.]

Or: When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Limoncello! [Lemonade for the mature adult. High alcohol and sweet after dinner drink on a sultry, steamy summer eve on a terrace overlooking the sea. Ah. I digress!]

Let me know. I am listening.

Cheers!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Down to the Foundations

In part due to my upcoming (fingers crossed that it is actually going to become reality) adventure. My sojourn to Hanoi this fall to learn how to teach English to adults who speak other languages.

In part due to the accumulation of a lifetime that needs deaccession as they are all works of art in my over-active mind.

In part due to the fact that I am running out of storage space and need to trim down. Lighten up.

I am (da da' ... drum roll) clearing out my basement, my garage, my closets, my cabinets and drawers.

Much to the delight of Goodwill. Ruth's Reusable Resources. eBay. And, my own sense of pared down self.

So it has been with trepidation at first that I began to make a pile on the work bench in the basement. An empty laundry basket now holds Lucite pitchers, trays and salad bowls from the swimming pool I had decades ago. It is also packed with twin night lights the size of doll furniture that I never placed in a room but love the faux MacKenzie Childs shades, unused still in its original wrapping under rug runner the rubber non-slide kind and two tackle boxes filled with yet unused fly fishing lures, pincers and string from my dog-eared attempt to be a mommy-daddy teaching Charlie to fish in the blood red Oklahoma rivers that ironically need to be mowed in the summer. Add to the pile a fold-up dog crate never used. A Pfaff sewing machine still stapled into the carton. And an IBM Selectric 3 typewriter with the font on the ball ... and I cannot type more than 15 words a minute most illegible and incorrect.

I know. I know. There is so much more to be added. Two wooden and wicker bed trays for lazy weekend breakfasts in bed. Nope. Never happened. Never will. A wire coated shelf that was not needed in the study closet complete with fittings and screws. Two cordless phones. One ceramic bowl, no chips, for chips. And the piece de resistance? A green wire bird cage. For what decorating scheme I do not remember.

It all goes. And that is for the tag sale. I still have oodles of vintage purses and unworn shoes and an Armani pant suit from the 1990s that will find their way onto eBay.

And there's more. I am getting in the swing of this. Nothing is safe. Especially with Charlie moving to Hong Kong to begin his career. OMG. His room is chock-a-block with unnecessary. I'll have him join me on this adventure to lighten up before he departs at the end of the summer.

Until then ... I am going to think about it a bit longer. Right here on this lovely overstuffed sofa. Cheers!