Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ocelots, Darling Young Men ... Friends for Life

The day is warm. Hot in fact. Especially for this spring day in Cambridge. The mercury is expected to rise well into the nineties before lunch time. Guaranteed to wilt. Everything but our spirits. The immeasurable joy emanating from this propitious occasion. Harvard College Class of 2010.

2010! Wow. When I held my pink newborn son in my arms on that very hot day in August over two decades ago I counted the years on my fingers until his college commencement. It seemed light years away from that well-appointed pre-war co-op on the edges of Central Park. The English pram loaned to me by a darling friend parked in the hallway by the door to our gracious home. Yellow days. Green ones, too. My bright inquisitive infant gazing intently on the lemon or at the tulip leaves depicting the color. His inner mind a'whir. Soaking in the lesson. The learning process.

Now here I am. Across the universe of time. Awed. My darling Charlie's intellectual curiosity and scholarly appetite propelling him through the years of building blocks, Math teachers covered in chalk dust, classmates studying frantically into the wee hours for that dreaded exam, the archives deep in the hallowed halls of an English university.

Wooden folding chairs cover the quadrangle in rows, some neat, others zig-zagging around tall oaks and along the pathways. Harvard Yard. Zillions of them stretching across the lawn shaded by tall oaks. Families and friends from all corners of the earth gather excitedly, cardboard coffee cups in hand, chatting gaily. Television monitors capture the excitement. The flourish. The robed men and women in loose formation behind a Scottish bagpiper in full regalia approach through the arched gates walking slowly, proudly from Lowell House across the square. They gather ceremoniously under branches dripping with the rain from the early morning shower. They have grown, flourished among the ivy-covered brick courtyards where great thinkers came to play, learn, and step into their adult selves.

Following commencement exercises we adjourn to Lowell House for a picnic lunch in the courtyard and the bestowing of diplomas well earned. Charlie's friends gather to celebrate the beginning. Not the end. The future is theirs. On a silver platter. Some of these darling young men will squander their gifts, their talents. Others will leverage every god-given attribute to build not only character but to craft a life worth living. Sadly I will not be around to see the fruits of their labor. How they met their challenges and circumnavigated the rocks strewn, as they always are, along the path.

Cheers to these wonderful men! May each be blessed on their separate journeys and may their paths cross often and with grace.

Monday, May 24, 2010

On the Cusp

My cherished son. My precious Charlie. The sweet center of my life. You are standing on the cusp. On the threshold of the rest of your life. Your tomorrow's tomorrows. And I am swollen with immeasurable love. With immense pride. With intense joy.

You are prepared. Highly. For your amazing leap into adulthood. You carry with you in your heart, on your shoulders and within your soul the requisites. All of them. You have honed each of your special talents and distinguished yourself beyond my most imagined dreams.

As you venture across the globe this autumn your expansive intellect, compassion and zeal for life's discoveries to this unique opportunity to rise in one of those storied, diversified trading companies upon which trade to the East flourished three centuries ago opening routes into the heart of China across emerald rivers, transversing curved mountain ranges to the frozen sea in the north.

This is but a most remarkable journey upon which you have embarked. Soak it in. Make it one with your heart and mind. You, my darling son, are ready.

Your roots are deeply planted and my confidence in the man you have become will provide the loft to fill your wings so that you can soar on high. Journey on with joy, curiosity and always, dearest Charlie, imagine the possibilities.


Babo Beavers

Can you believe this one?

Scene: Mid-1970s. Low. U.S. deep in the throes of a major depression. Losing the Viet Nam 'skirmish' brought the military-industrial complex fueled economy to its knees. Arab sheiks in flowy white floor length dishdasha thobe and red checked shimagh head scarf conspired to stop us dead in our tracks. OPEC oil embargo sent the stock market diving.

The big 3 in Detroit lobbied Congress hard. Big bucks were invested in a developing a spiderweb of interstates criss-crossing the country to the detriment (and subsequent deterioration) of our rails upon which our proud nation expanded west from sea to shining sea. Highway littering now a misdemeanor. Thanks Lady Bird.

Jerry Ford, our illustrious less-than-one-term prez, directed his staffers to design what would soon become a doomed PR ploy. To lift the sagging spirits of a spoiled nation out of the crapper. WIN! Yep. Pom-poms and confetti. A high school pep rally. Whip Inflation Now. Good god. Our intelligences once again insulted. Gheesh.

A handful of intrepid female souls, snuck into the ranks of the all male graduate school bastions. Hadn't Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug ... and a whole slew of bra-burning, birth control pill poppin' women freed us a decade earlier? You bet.

And we were smart. Very. Just couldn't get jobs. The real ones. The ones that bypassed steno pools for those of us who couldn't type a lick and offered a route to the corner office. The glass ceiling looming large. Out to the stratosphere. Too far far away to bump our now coiffed noggins.

So with need-to-get-there-anyway-I-can, applied in person to b-school. Wanted one of those freshly minted MBAs. A fast track to the pay tier that would fund the style to which I was accustomed. What's 78 cents to the dollar of our male counterparts between friends?

Finally, no one would care if we typed 15 words per minute. Or, had zero Dictaphone transcribing speed. Timer be damned. We were arriving. fast. Inductees. Wannabees no longer. Nope. We'd become integral contributing, card carrying member of the club. Floppy ties and man-tailored suits. The skirts were arriving. Look out boardrooms!

Talked myself into Babson's MBA program in leafy, verdant Wellesley Hills. Famed for their sole not-so-winning sports team. Swimming ... the Beavers!

Armed with my college transcripts earned several years earlier at BU I marched confidently into Dean Burak's office. Asked for a coveted place in the MBA class of 1979. Just asked. Brass ones, I tell ya. Hadn't taken the GMATs. Couldn't read the stock quotes in the Wall Street Journal. Or decipher graphs. But hey, the way I figured it this newly co-ed program needed double Xs. Right place at the right time.

I matriculated with Gale and Peggy and Julie and Judy. We banded together. Thick as thieves. Joined study groups. Stuck out like sore thumbs. Beat the guys at their own game. Aced one class after another. Sistahs.

Gale and her dear husband asleep in my guest room. Visiting from their Colorado Rocky Mountain home. Friends for life. Thirty one years post ivy covered halls when computers were the size of my dining room. In and out of high powered, high octane careers. Time off to raise our babies into confident, successful men and women. Picking up almost where we'd leave off. Wiser. Seasoned. Integrity intact. We had it all. Not the huge bank rolls. But the utter contentment that comes with a life well spent. Choices well made.

Here we are. Sitting around a candle lit table assembling fish tacos. We know where we are ... still darling friends ... after a life time of careers, child rearing and arthritic knees. Gale and I share a familiarity born deep in our womanhood. And for that I am deeply grateful.

Cheers to the Babson Beavers ... the ones of us who rose above the din!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mouse Patrol

Our home is a clapboard structure close to the village street that began its life 160 years ago in the traditional colonial cape style. Center entry. Living salon on the right. Dining room to the left. An attached barn housed the kitchen, the double seater and the workshop. A delicate curved staircase was crafted by out of work ship carpenters when the tall ship building business that fueled the mid-19th century economy in my town was shrinking. It winds to the second floor bedrooms.

Over the past century and a half it has morphed, expanding as new wings have been added and porches winterized. Thirteen spaces on the teeniest footprint. You already know that!

Needless to say, the foundation materials vary dramatically. Granite. Brick. Cinder block. Interconnected in a meandering jerry-rigged improvised construction. Net result? A porous base. Perfect for tunnelling by rodents of all types. Their very own outward bound obstacle course.

The winters here on the coast of Maine are freezing. But you know that, too.

The mice ... and the chipmunks ... and the voles are in survivor mode when the mercury dips below 32 degrees. They join forces and dig tunnels worthy of the Viet Cong. Leading from the crumbling paths and flower beds that are way to close. Making their way into the warmth of my expansive, multi-level basement to raise their furry families in abundant nooks and crannies.

So ... twice a year, spring and fall, I bring in the troops. Exterminators armed with bait smelling of peanut butter and cheese in triangular plastic cases that are placed strategically on the ledges and sills throughout my cellar. The same pest control moguls that educate their sons and daughters in the finest schools in the land. And jaunt around town on the weekends in BMWs and Audis.

You know the reason. Yep. They are on retainer to most of the owners of antique and rural homes in the entire county. Lucky sots.

But, hey, when it is o'dark thirty and Bailey stares at the wall listening to scratching noises of nesting vermin the exorbitant cost is justified. What's a home owner to do?

Kudos to the eradicator of these tiny beasts ... and for trapping the three, count 'em three, red squirrels cohabitating with a grey field mouse in my barn garage!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Winning the Lottery ... If 3 Constitutes a Win!

Okay. Something's up. I have purchased lottery tickets sporadically for years. One here. Two there. Mostly quick picks. Some chosen favorites. Dates juxtaposed. Ages. Events. Number of jelly beans in the jar. Whatever.

Occasionally a singular random number matches one in the winning combo. Often not. The odds are more in my favor during the spring meet at Churchill Downs when I handicap the field not by past race results, but by placing a $2 bet on the markings of the jockey's silks. The colors. The hallmarks of the Thoroughbred's training stables. The longest shot.

But my fortune has changed this past week, for the better. Amazingly. When buying chances at the jackpots for Mega Millions or Power Ball the gods smiled. Matched three numbers three times!

Yes, folks. Three winning tickets. $21 to reinvest. 3 squared. Number 9. Number 9. Number 9.

Definitely not a retirement strategy. But fun. Way fun. In a roulette-go-to-Vegas-spin-of-the-wheel kind of way. Chance. Dreams. Good fortune.

Sure know how to spend the dough. Educational trust for my children's children first. A sibling, too. My passions ... non-profits, programs. Then travel. Trips to nowhere. Anywhere. And just in between.

Here's to the lotto gods! May they smile good fortune on my tickets a few times more. Who knows where the chips may fall? And hey ... you cannot win if you do not play. After all, 90% of life is just showing up.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

60th Year Journey

I am one hundred and four days into celebrating my 60th year with a penchant for surprise. Delight. Discoveries.

For the next two hundred and sixty rotations of the earth tilted and spinning on its axis I will meander happily in and out of my comfort zone ... adventuring precariously to the edge. Pushing the confines of the proverbial envelope. Expansive. Effusive. Awakened.

Come with me. You. You know you want to join in on the fun. And you know who you are. C’mon. Encircle your arms around my waist as we journey to my big 6-0 and beyond in tandem.

What a rush! Pistons charged. Adrenalin flowing. Imagine the possibilities. Our infinite possibilities. Transported from the sparkling white sandy seashore to mountain geysers to distant and ancient lands. And home again. Boundless joy. Boundaryless opportunity.

Fasten our seat belts. Place our tray tables in their locked upright positions. Close our eyes. Hold our breath. We are beginning our ascent. Accelerating. Climbing higher. Soaring. The world takes on a different shape, a swirling blue-green ball shrouded in billowy cotton. A new, longed for perspective. Shared.

Stroll with me into the soft lemony sunshine, cool crisp breeze propelling the journey, our journey, onward. You are out there. I just know it!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Blowing on the Embers

Several years ago, disappointed by travelling solo, I sent this missive out into the universe. My message in a bottle. Hoping, not so secretly, that the stars would align hurling little ol' me into a once-in-a-lifetime whirlwind. Ripping me from my comfort zone into the white hot intensity of connecting a most singular vitality pulsing with shared energy yet unexplored.

Elusive? Yes. Impossible? Hell no. It just wasn't meant to be. Not then.

Journeys, adventures, discoveries inspire me. I have little baggage, but my suitcases are always packed. Join me!

Raised in Kentucky’s rolling bluegrass, college and career in Boston and NYC, I relocated a few summers ago to coastal Maine, a delightful oasis between visits and travels away.

Multi-faceted with a passion for life and a penchant for travel to hidden gems around the globe, I enjoy spirited discussions, covered bridges, indigo mountains, films, jazz, blues, classic rock and country from my Oklahoma days sliding not too gracefully across the slickest of floors sprinkled with corn meal and soot.

You have lived large and not so; come of age in the psychedelic 60s when all things were possible; matured in the sophisticated city humbled by finding out that they are not; and now appreciate the exhilaration of life off the beaten path - a tapestry of experiences, enriched sensibilities.

Let's walk quietly at dawn or dusk or in night’s velvety dark, discover out-of-the way restaurants and hidden delights, explore tree-lined country paths near and far, dance in cities pulsing with energy, whisper in the shadow of ancient places hiding mysteries of time past. Trips to anywhere or nowhere. Come with me, be my co-traveler, treasured friend, convivant.

Are you my gentle man with utmost integrity and compassion paradoxically matched by a sense of the absurd and a hint of the bad boy? Are you not so jaded as to still be awed by surprises and impassioned by new discoveries? Like me, you want that 'je ne sais quoi' one-on-one. Rock our worlds. Let's shake our unbelieving souls by the roots. Throw traditions to the wind jolting us into that 'aha' moment ... intoxicating, electric, spontaneous, vibrant.

I look forward to our connection, the sound of your laughter, the feel of your arms wrapped around me, sharing your pleasures and knowing what makes you smile ... or not. But first, the spark! Imagine the possibilities. I am.

The spark evident at the onset. Ignited upon receipt of his initial correspondence. Innocent, really. Surprising me delightfully. We have known each other since childhood. Not seen each other in years. A lifetime, really. Several if you count the multiple chapters we have each pursued.

Me. In Maine at the threshold of my meanderings in this my 60th year toward the quest, the gold chalice, of moving beyond my comfort zone. Away from the familiar. Into a brave new world. Envisioning the vast opportunities barely beyond my reach. The lure of travel to exotic and emerging cultures. Of pushing my shirtsleeves over my elbows and immersing myself in the wonders of this expansive world we live in. Shaking things up. My lifestyle. My dreams. Tweaks requisite to be transported from the familiar to the extraordinary.

Him. Possessing life passively. From the outside. Disembodied. Bound unerringly and admirably by loyalty and commitment. Faithful. Settled. Sharing the dreams of his childhood friend adoringly. Vicariously. The intensity of his passion extending outward from the very essence of his being. Inspired, nonetheless, by seeds germinated deep within my being propelling me into the unknown. He understood. Got me. My darling friend. His restlessness born uneasily from an innate lust for life. Intertwined on his DNA. A wilderness explored with great vitality, but left to wither. Memories of adventures.

Us. Telepathic. Our connection. Poignant. Profound. Real. Chaste. Inextricably linked from commonalities of coming of age at a similar time, in the same scholarly community hurled into a future undefined.

We are survivors. Each possessing an immaculate sense of self. The wisdom brought into existence from successfully circumnavigating those rocks that littered our trails. The profound blessings bestowed upon us independently.

There is much to explore with my adored convivant. Infinite possibilities. The spark smolders unrequited. For now. Soon to be ignited into pyrotechnics that will ebb and flow with the rhythm of a partnership. Fanned, fueled, by our constant attention to keeping the embers alive. To altering the playbook. Consummate teammates. Co-conspirators extraordinaire. Our trajectory flourishing brilliant by our mutual devotion.

Cheers to an unexpected, much cherished journey. Igniting again and again. Love burning vibrantly ... forever and a day. Are you out there? The universe beckons.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

B & B

The wooden breakfast trays under the bed in the charming yellow guest room might just come in handy. Yesterday they were pulled out and the dust kitties swept away. Lemon Pledge shines up the white oak slats atop pull-out legs. Yellowing packing tape holds them together for the yard sale this summer. Removed quickly with one zip. Like a bandage over freshly pink skin healing. The romance nearly disposed of for a few crinkled dollar bills revealed.

Virgin boudoir accessories. Kind of like me. At least of late. Half a decade or so. Hate to admit it. Bey hey, it's the truth. And you all know I never fib. Well, almost never. But this is the truth. Pinkie swear.

My darling guest will sleep in the very room where the breakfast trays resided for nearly six years. I imagine the sun peeking through the slats of the wooden blinds creating zig-zags of light playfully dancing across his face. His greying hair sparkles in the early morning light. The ceiling fan whirs gently overhead creating a sweet breeze. Cooling his skin. Mohair throws add a layer of comfort to the white trapunto coverlet delicately hand stitched in Portugal by the sea. The scent of coffee brewing on the kitchen counter wafts through the winding floorplan. Through tiny well appointed rooms. Stirring him from slumber. Peacefully. My heart aglow. Warmed by the whisper of one final romance. Universe, are you listening?

Upstairs in my crisp white room solo, I sleep cocooned in the multi-blanketed safety of my home. As sleep reached into the inner crevices of my mind's eye the night before, the moon rose mother-of-pearl in the May skies. A calm. A knowing calm washes over me. Transcends my being. Comforting me in a way I have never known.

To the promise of a new day dawning pink a'blaze with color, lightness and hope. Imagining infinite possibilities. Every single one of them could happen. If only.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

(Cafe) La Mama

I wasn't sure how/if this was ever going to be a topic of Lemons. But I managed to find a way to massage it into the mix. Today is Mother's Day. That is the segue. And hey. It's my story to tell, so no rules. I am an Aquarius after all.

The film in my mind scrolls backward. A fast spin to those salad days. frames whiz by. Several months into the autumn of my freshman year at Briarcliff. 1969. A'blaze with color. Dazzling. Leafy, technicolor brilliance showcasing our blooming ingenuity. Fuchsia petals of our burgeoning sensuality fringed in shades of hot pink. Innocent. Expectant.

The evening sky turned purple as the cranberry colored Rolls Royce pulled into the circular drive outside Dow Hall. No heads turned. This was Briarcliff where long haired, nubile ingenues accessorized their Landlubber jeans with Capezio ballet flats, Pucci undies and Gucci belts circling slim hips.

Jorie and I walked gracefully onto the cockle shell driveway. Our Dior overnight bags carefully placed in the boot next to her uncle's Louis Vuitton luggage. We slid primly onto the back seat. Behind the glass partition. Sipping sparkling water from crystal flutes.

A sterling cigarette case slipped through the hinged pass-through. We smiled. Ten perfectly rolled joints sat neatly side by side. Carefully we lifted one and lit it with the silver lighter on the drop down mahogany tray. The sweet pungent blue grey smoke twined gracefully as we drew it deep into our lungs. Paused. Then exhaled. Our minds floated gently above the fray. Away from mid-terms and roommates and house mothers guarding our flowers with strictly enforced parietals. And rules upon rules defining staid and proper loco in parentis guidance.

The village beckoned. Greenwich Village. Where her uncle, Michael Butler, a tall tanned obscenely handsome polo playing producer from Oak Brook, Illinois awaited our arrival from our Westchester County college. His elegant, lanky girlfriend, the Vogue model Minnie Beard, prepared to introduce the young sophisticates to avant-garde, Studio 54, Andy Warhol New York.

We arrived excitedly (and stoned) at the stage entrance of the Biltmore Theater on West 47th. A bearded hippie waist length dreadlocks led us dizzily through the maze of halls past dressing rooms, racks of costumes, last minute makeup and hair. The buzz of actors in various stages of pre-show dress smiled and mimed the scattering of pixie dust in our direction. We ambled through the glittery haze of blue smoke toward the wings of the theatre. I gasped. This was exhilarating in an over-stimulating, over-the-top way. And, I loved it. Alot.

Red velvet seats occupied slowly with patrons of all ages eager to witness the happening. Strains of instruments tuning wafted from the pit in front of the curtainless stage. My heart raced. Flashes of intense colors filled my head. We took our seats fifth row center. Sunk back cocooned by love.

The tribal love rock musical, the first of its genre, live on Broadway. A racially-integrated, counter-culture thumb to the nose aimed at ultra conservative industrial-military politicos wreaking havoc on our innocent, sybaritic selves. A societal revolution. My generation's multi-hued, irreverently staged hippie culture extravaganza replete with full frontal nudity, drug induced, anti-war, pot smoking, acid dropping not-trusting anyone over 30 effete intellectual snobs (to quote our illustrious Veep, Spiro). A psychedelic, theatrical be-in. No pigs allowed.

After the final curtain we headed with the cast and crew to chic, down and dirty Greenwich Village. The Rolls, pungent with sweet marijuana, floated on rain slicked roadways through deep into the bowels of Manhattan. Destination Bowery. Eased onto 4th Street. And glided to a halt in front of Cafe La Mama. Sophisticated, theatre of the absurd. It was well after midnight.

Long limbed Jorie gracefully emerged onto the rain glistened sidewalk. I slid out of the limo. The hems of my black velvet bellbottoms skimming the puddles. We were hurried behind the gold braided ropes into yet another blue hazed room. Flutes of champagne were passed by topless waiters as barely clothed patrons slunk into the pillowed banquettes. A shimmery silver lame curtain slipped erotically to the side of the teeny stage. Tweedledee-dees and dums (or so I thought) sang Chinese opera-style as erhus and ancient instruments kept tempo. My eyelids dropped heavy with the evening.

The sky tinged pink with the new day as we headed north up the Saw Mill River Parkway two days later to leafy Westchester. My mind, and life, inextricably enhanced. Never would I see it the same way. My unconventional journey was in full swing.

Gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair. Shining, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen. Give me down to there, hair! Shoulder length, longer. Here baby, there mama. Everywhere daddy daddy. Hair!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Boulder Bridge

So much for getting out of my comfort zone during this fabulous foray toward the big 6-0. That is on moderate hold. But not for long.

Why? You ask.

You know. We all do. Life has a way of getting in the way when you are busy dreaming, making plans and imagining the possibilities.

On hiatus nearly the entire month of April.

First, my hobbled knee put a damper on my spirits. My ability to perambulate. Delightful daily walks curtailed. My mind had no place to go but down. Need the lilt in my step and fresh air in my lungs to keep perspective. Besides, that is when I do my best strategery! Ice packs, Aleve and gentle yoga to the rescue.

Second, it is spring. Along with the vernal equinox and the delicious lilac scented air comes those dreaded weeds. Everywhere. Beds abused by winter's wrath and heavy snow melt needed to be turned, edged, spruced up. Make way for tender shoots of hosta, lilies of the valley, yellow iris and my beloved french parrot tulips. With coffers dangerously low, as you remember ad nauseum, I swung into high gear. Makeshift landscaping tools at the ready. Whipped the grounds [all one-third acre] into summer shape. That laborious task took a few weeks. Wore through two pairs of garden gloves. But it was worth it.

Third, a thin veneer of grimy dust from petro-fired winter-warmth and burning logs had permeated every nook and cranny in my teeny 1800 square foot house. All thirteen rooms. Yes that's right! 13 separate spots in need of thorough-with-a-toothpick cleansing ... bathrooms, foyer, hallway, screen porch, real rooms, et cetera. You get the picture. Sent out a smoke signal to Mr. Clean. Who was conspicuously absent. Where the hell was he this year? Out with the Merry Maids I presume. None were at my beck and call. Sadly. Without the requisite down payment on their new van. So armed with a battery of unopened cleaning supplies commenced erasing every last vestige of winter-grime from hidden surfaces of mop boards, crown molding and, well, under over and around every accessory in my overwhelmed village home.

Mundane work-a-day obstacles littered the path. Ate up an entire month.

The boulders now line the trail. Keeping distractions at bay. The sun is out. My favorite jeans zip and button.

Most alluring: my darling friend is arriving this week to visit Bailey and me chez nous. To play.

Comfort zone be damned!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Garden Street

Our neighborhood market closed its doors this afternoon ending an era of walking a few short blocks to grab a ripe mango when the recipe called for one. Or, brie, a pear and Carr's wheatmeal crackers to accompany a crisp Beaujolais or robust Burgundy. But especially when blizzards blew in a foot and a half of snow and I ran out of marshmallows for the cocoa to warm our souls.

The village. Our eclectic neighborhood of residents, shopkeepers and bankers applauding when the owner turned the key in the sliding glass doors for the final time. Cameras flashed. Tears flowed. The loss duly noted. The death of traditional locally owned business crippled by the economy and greedy, lusting corporate retail chains locating elsewhere in town.

Cheers to mom-and-pops across small town America. May you thrive and thumb your collective noses at big biz. Boo-hiss on big box stores and their impersonal ways.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sugar Magnolia

Kentucky's on my mind.

Lots of reasons. Last Saturday's Run for the Roses. A most darling friend. Springtime. Promises of good things to come. Sugar magnolia blossoms. I am smiling inside.

My mind drifts back to the sweet smell of azaleas and honeysuckle wafting through my open bedroom window. Starched organdy curtains fluttering from the gentle breeze. Already limp from the humid air. I am lying on my bed. In my childhood home. Safe. Hopeful. Gazing out the window onto leafy trees lining the circular drive. Not quite ready to start my day. The smell of bacon spattering in the cast iron skillet on the island stove in the kitchen. Dogs barking while the neighborhood boys play softball in the Bertoli's front yard.

Bailey nudges me into the present and our overdue morning walk. Together we go out the front door onto the sidewalk. She sniffing the fresh mown lawn tail wagging. Me eager to explore what is just around the corner.

To imagining the possibilities!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo(naise)

I was inside my fridge earlier today. Not wondering what to feed my growling, diet deprived tummy. Au contraire. I was wiping the shelves. The ones on the door. Making them sparkle. Which I do not do often enough.

Goodness they get so grungy. Sticky. Collect things that shouldn't be inside an ice box. Like Bailey's hair which is everywhere floating.

The bottoms of jars ... mustards, jams, pickles, maraschino cherries with the stems ... stuck like glue. Needed to pry up a few with a wet, warm sponge. Phooey.

Anyhoo, I noticed I have three, count 'em, three different jars of Hellmann's taking up room: fat free, light and my absolute hand's down fave ... Real. I tossed the fat free. It most assuredly does not bring out the best in anything.

Mayonnaise. Delicious condiment of tuna salad sandwiches, deviled eggs, on cottage cheese (per my darling bluegrass friend and I trust him implicitly so he must be right) ... or, with peanut butter on Ritz.

My wonderful childhood pal, Valerie, and I, 8 year old wannabe chefs, concocted this delicacy when I moved into her Cherokee Park neighborhood. Standing on tippy-toes to reach the third shelf in the Raleigh Tavern red pantry with a wall that curved because it backed up to the winding front hall staircase, we'd teeter until the box fell into one of our waiting hands. The tin of Nabisco Saltines rusted from damp southern summers right next to the familiar red box of those buttery flavored crackers. The ones that could make mock apple pie. Not that this baker extraordinaire ever tackled that 1950s modern ersatz dessert.

Today marks the unlikely victory of the Mexican Army over the French. And the French love their mayonnaise. After all they invented it over 250 years ago. Without the Duc de Richelieu we might not have tuna salad. Or cole slaw. Or a proper BLT.

General Louis-Francois-Armand du Plessy, the duc de Richelieu soi-même, led his troops onto the island of Minorca in June 1756, taking it from the British. To celebrate, the duke's personal chef created a feast — and a new sauce.

Emulsified oil, egg yolks, vinegar with a hint of lemon. Perfect dunk for a greasy paper cornu spilling over with hot salty pommes frites. As a delicious alternative to Dijon with sliced cold chicken. Blended in a mortar and pestle with fresh minced garlic. A savory dip for crudités. The slimmest of tender fresh out of the garden asparagus. Olives. A French luncheon on the seaside of lobsters and Pinot Gris incomplete without rich, homemade mayonnaise. Capers tossed casually for garnish.

Lobster without butter? I prefer lemons. Mais sûr.

So with this celebration of a most minor holiday across the Americas, I am a teensy bit surprised that salsa has not replaced it as the condiment of choice in the North American kitchen.

Oh wait. Maybe it has. Just not in this house. And never, not ever Miracle Whip!

Here's to centuries of European countries vying for power ... and to a condiment superbe!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spring Awakening

After countless years I feel as if this spring has actually put one in my step. A spring that is. A bounce.

1) It arrived early. Unseasonably early. Which on the coast of Maine is an absolute surprise. And a treasure. Spring generally arrives in June. Lasts a week. And transitions to 90 hazy, hot and humid in a blink.

2) The scent of lilacs in the air! The desire to actually cultivate a few bushes in my yard near the grey weathered Chippendale teak bench.

3) Morning walks through my village neighborhood despite Bailey tugging for sniffs between the rock walls. And her canine buddies we encounter along the way. And sometimes an extra lap in late afternoon shade.

4) My beloved french parrot tulips emerging from winter sleep to regale me with their striated green blooms in early summer.

5) Ceiling fans whir in every room of my charming home bringing the sweet scent of freshly mowed lawns.

6) Evenings deliciously cool as the fresh breeze lulls me to slumber.

7) The smell of charcoal from my neighbor's grill making my tummy growl and my mouth water.

8) My hopes. My dreams. My imagination . My heart. Igniting.

9) A most treasured connection that is coming alive with the narcissus bursting forth to join me on a foray into a new dimension.

Cheers to new beginnings and the anticipation of something more. Way more!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cleaning House

I am up to my elbows in an elaborate concoction of cleaning supplies.

Not that I have mixed them in a cauldron.

No worries. Mrs. Wimp, our chem teacher at Kentucky Home showed us the effects of mixing bleach with assorted acid (or is it alkaline) solutions. Seems the entire point of the education at a girls' school in the south in the mid-sixties was to teach us how to do house wifely things. Or better, be able to instruct our cleaning women without blowing up the house.

Nor am I one of Macbeth's witches. Double, double toil and trouble. Although it would be great to wash that away. Far far away.

The task at hand is to rid my house of winter grime. Dust that seeped onto the baseboards spewed from radiators from another era. Bailey's short black hairs ... my long chestnut strands too for that matter ... that have hidden under the chest of drawers, under the sofa and behind the beds need to be whisked into the bowels of my trusty old bagless Hoover.

So I am doing what I typically do: procrastinate.

I know when I have tossed the last dust rag into the hamper that I will feel a sense of relief. Accomplishment.

But until then I ponder. Why has it been years since I had my very own housekeeper? Or at the very least, a cleaning service? What have I learned from the tedium of using Charlie's old cotton turtlenecks and teeshirts together with stained tea towels run amok?

I know I know.

Cleansing of past sins, memories, habits. The process, even though I dread it more than most anything in the civilized world, is rhythmic. Healing. In an an odd way satisfying. Purifying. The house. And well, me.

So up I go. Gather the rags and Bounty and Endust and Pledge and Dust Buster. Assemble them around me. And begin.

When the sun sets I will emerge with a spotless home ... and a clearer mind. At least for the time being!

Think I'll go pour a tall glass of icy lemonade. Cheers!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tart Musings

One thing that is certain.


The next choice I make, and the next one, and the next one, must be expansive.



My life journey is that important to me. It should be.

The more outside my comfort zone the better.

The more I can learn the better.

The more I can evolve the better.

My adaptability and ability to connect afford me well.

Redefining my life goals in synchronization with the me whose spirit I have recaptured. Critical.

My confidence and self esteem and energies refocused on the greater good. The greater me.

I cannot, simply must not, shrink.

But will reach outside my sphere for the stars. They are finally within reach.

Comfort zone be damned.

Cheers to the next fork in the road!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Run for the Roses

I woke up this morning with Kentucky on my mind.

The faint sound of my neighbor's lawn mower buzzed bringing with it the scent of freshly mowed grass drifted through the open window. I stretched my arm under the silky cool of my pillow arching my back into the new day and smiled. Sun streamed through the wooden slats of my window blinds. A gentle breeze stirred the pages of the book tossed casually on the bed stand. I sat up energized.

It's Saturday, May Day and Derby Day rolled into one. A vernal trifecta!

Hurry into my jeans and a long sleeve white tee. Race through my morning toilette. Brush my hair quickly. Grab a cardigan and twirl a lime green pashmina around my neck just in case the chill hadn't quite worn off. Open the front door to this glorious day. Pop the house key in my pocket. And head joyfully down the granite steps, water bottle and Bailey in hand.

This morning in my lovely Maine village near the sea is lemon-sweet perfection. A hint of warmth in the dewy air. Filtered sun streaks the newly green lawns in my neighborhood. The skies cloudless. Robin's egg blue. True spring weather. Real spring. The springs of my Kentucky. My childhood.

Wow. It hits me. Today is stunning. One of those gorgeous mornings you can bottle. Sell on eBay in January. My next door neighbor is pruning back her rose bushes reattaching the vines to the trellis. Ah, roses. Today is Derby Day! Three year old thoroughbreds racing for a blanket of roses. And the first jewel in the triple crown.

Back to reality. My stroll with Bailey. Sidewalks are busy. Alive with families pushing strollers. Toddlers in tow. Winter weary hibernators peeking out for a bit of verdance and warmth. Heading into town.

Bailey is decked out in her gentle leader leash. The one that keeps her from straining my back and wrenching her neck when she lunges at her doggy pals along the way. Her gait is jaunty. She's a happy girl this morning. We are going to a party. The smells of donuts and cotton candy are wafting through the air. She knows something is up. Her whole body wags.

Wooden poles ten feet high appeared overnight on the grassy lawn of the park nearby. Four of them. Each festooned with long satin pastel ribbons. A bouquet of colorful freshly picked blooms crowning each. Young girls in ballet shoes, white tights and flowing dresses gracefully weave the strands to the strains of Celtic music from a nearby boom box. Braided homages to nature. Wind. Waves. Earth. Fire.

This is what I love. Spring rituals. At Kentucky Home. My childhood school in the rolling bluegrass we celebrated May Day every year. You remember. Where Chesney and Edwina and Laurie and Jane and I joined our classmates in smocked pastel dresses, white anklets and Capezio mary janes fastened with buttons. Fresh cut flower ... tulips, rosebuds, daisies, iris, lilacs ... garlands circling our heads. Our long curls flying as we wove intricate patterns with the satin ribbons. Ritual dancing by each class from kindergarten all the way to the eleventh grades honoring our elected May Queen and her court of attendants in long white gowns with pale blue sashes.

The girls of May, the seniors, waiting not so patiently for the festivities to end so they could quickly change into Lilly sundresses and Pappagallo flats and scurry out to Churchill Downs for an afternoon of horse racing. Long legged fillies to the track. A cherished tradition coveted as we rose through the ranks from Lower to Upper School.

Back at home I scurry around doing odd chores until the NBC telecast of Derby festivities from Churchill Downs. Winsome. Nostalgic. The 136th Run for the Roses. The phone rings. My darling friend from Louisville is bringing a bit of bluegrass and mint into my living room. I relax into our conversation. A knock at my door. A dozen long stem red roses amid eucalyptus and baby's breath. My very own winner's blanket!

Inside the starting gates energy abounds. With a bell and a bugle we are catapulted into the first stretch. 3D knows just what to do. We round the curve and head into the sweet spring air.

Cheers to my old Kentucky home far away!