Archive for December, 2006

Whisked away

Betty gets a new ideaBetty Crocker came to me in a dream last night. Her hair was ash blonde, swept neatly back and contained in an animal print headband.

“Nice touch, Betty,” I said, pointing to the headband. “Wild, but not endangered.”

“Thanks,” she said, briskly. Betty did everything briskly, ready to file all the details away alphabetically in a 3×5 index card holder.

“What are we making today?” I asked.

“Gingerbread,” she said. “Ginger is the spice that gives us strength” – this she illustrated with a small barbell, “encourages rhythm and speed” – she flipped on a synthesizer and started up a rumba beat – “and surprises the mouth by being both sweet and hot.” She shimmied a bit, a beautiful sight in her snug knee-length straight skirt, twin set and narrow taupe pumps.

Gingerbread woman shimmying

     

“I’ve always liked latin music,” she told me. “Gives me a sense of freedom.” She swept the headband away and shook her hair loose, making a bright golden Breck-girl halo all around her. She swiveled her hips and smiled. I saw that she had a martini – very dry, I assumed – in her left hand.

“Betty!” I said, shocked. Around her, the gingerbread was assembling as if by magic: flour, eggs, fresh ginger (not dried), nutmeg, allspice. In her right hand she held a nutcracker, wooden, carved into the shape of a goat’s head.

“You’ve got to honor the right gods to make a decent gingerbread,” she said. She winked at me and began cracking nuts. No nonsense in that Betty Crocker body – dancing, mixing, drinking, arms spinning around her  Shiva me timberslike an Indiana Shiva; she’s juggling the eggs, nuts, a cup of oil, a jigger of gin, and not missing a beat. This was pure Betty but with a difference  – a soupçon of something richer – a dollop of heavy cream, a pepper grinder, a cookie sheet slick and gleaming with Wessonality.

The drums accelerated to a bembe beat with Brazilian overtones; Betty’s apron fell away and I saw her, domestic goddess, high priestess of sex and baked goods, spread eagle brand on the kitchen table.

“Preheat your oven,” she said, briskly, and handed me a whisk.

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The boy who walked on his hands

1. Perspective

hand stand 

Once there was a boy who walked on his hands.  He walked on his hands through the dining room. His hair hung down. He put honey in his tea, which he drank through a straw. It dripped in his face, and made a sticky mess of his hair.

He walked on his hands through the living room, where Boris and Natasha whispered and schemed.  He walked on his hands up the stairs to his room in the attic, with the steep-pitched roof and the posters of Jimi Hendrix on the northern slant.  Jimi HendrixHe played air guitar with his feet, and percussion with his knees.

He walked to school on his hands, and waited for the bus with his elbows crossed .  He sat on his head in the last seat in the back.

He walked on his hands to geometry and social studies.  Took notes lying down.  Did gym hanging by his feet on the ropes. Elbowed his way through the cafeteria.  Backed out at the end of the day, and rolled home with his hands on his skateboard.

His arms were stronger than his legs.  His legs wobbled and bent, and sometimes tripped him up at the hip.  At the doctor’s office, they tested him with lights and head gear.  They gave him glasses — one green lens and one red, with prisms inside for righting the world through his eyes.

red/green glasses 

He put the glasses on the very next day.  Left the house and fell down the stairs, taking the poster with him.  Went west instead of east and took the bus to a different school, where he noticed the children were much too small, with razor sharp teeth.  He was afraid that day, sitting in a scarred maple desk with his knees tucked up around his ears.

He walked home that afternoon and ate cauliflower on a TV tray with Howard Cossell or Chick Hearn reporting the scores sincerely and accurately.  In the morning, he left his glasses on the windowsill, and walked down the stairs on his hands again.

2. Becoming a Star

a star 

He walked down the stairs on his hands again. His elbows got tired at times, and the palms of his hands were covered with scars.  He wore the stigmata of hand-walking wherever he went and began to wear white gloves to social events.

“So pleased to meet you,” he would say to the Duchess of this and the Prince of that.  He would offer his gloved hand and push the hair out of his eyes with one knee.  Often his gloves were bloody and he would instead offer his elbow for shaking, if he noticed.

“So [Princess/Duke],” he would say, “did you see this week’s Dancing with the Stars?” or “What will you do with your summer now that the [Prince/Duchess] is so occupied?”  And they would chat very amiably, the boy who walked on his hands and whatever visiting royalty might be in his living room, which was now his drawing room, where he smoked a pipe and sketched and dreamed.  The immediate topics of politics and natural disasters would be tossed over the net strung across the widest part of the room from one group to another, and hot sweet tea was served with ginger cookies.  Tips on land deals were exchanged, and recipes for vegetable pate.

One day the boy who walked on his hands saw himself on 20 Minutes and was surprised.  barbara walters He hadn’t realized he was being interviewed by the woman with the lisp and the sympathetic manners, and he was glad he’d been walking on his hands all these years, since he came off very well on camera and the ratings were good, he later heard.

He vacationed in deep places – canyons, oceans, meditative states – but always came home to his attic room with the steep pitched roof, to look out at the lake nearby, green lake and the women running around it with their jogging strollers, and the skinny man on roller blades, and the espresso cart magician appearing and disappearing in the flashing shadows from the changing leaves on the elm trees and oak all round the lake.

He saw the reflection of the geese on the lake’s surface at a certain time of year as they flew down from Canada toward home and a place to land with their webbed feet in the soft cool mud, where they would sleep and dream of sweet grasses and tender roots, and the surprising abundance in winter of rich black mud. A rain would fall and the frogs would come out to belch and sing with bellies out and neckties firmly tied.

In the room with the steep-pitched roof at the top of the stairs, the boy who walked on his hands put his elbows on the window sill and he watched and watched and watched.

Geese in formation

Birthday Snow

Good geese, pretty snow

Dear Children,

Here is my flock, enjoying the snow on this cold birthday morning.  They are, from left to right: Toot Sweet, Gloria, Mrs. Frizzle, Alexander,  Bruce, and Vanessa LaGanza.  We will have hot cocoa, with marshmallows on top, and buttered toast.  Then we will open presents and tell stories of warmer days.  Geese adore presents — especially presents that make noise.

Sincerely and with slippers on,

Yours,
Mother Goose

Redux

pat on back 

In October, I had a little whine about poor me and why didn’t I at least get my SASE back with a rejection letter when I finally actually submitted some finished work. But look — the publishers were just slooow to respond, and I will have a short story in the spring issue of a literary magazine (more on that later — I am unsure of protocol). I’m told that it’s been years since I last submitted (years? really?), and that may be true, so now I am doing the happy dance to say hey, first submission in years and it’s been accepted! Cool.

Remember the dancing baby?

Anyway, it’s good timing, and now I will get out my nose and my grindstone and get back to work. How motivating.

One night at the Tomahawk Lodge*

See Colorado historic postcards

Here we are in Cortez, Colorado, just pulling into the Tomahawk Lodge.  Clean, quiet kitsch.  Just a quick walk to Nero’s, where we get foolish and sleepy on wine and mushroom-pecan ravioli in a brown butter sauce, with creme brulee and pinon coffee after.  Followed by a bit of a stagger back to the Tomahawk.

Hours later, we are wakened suddenly by several high-pitched screams immediately outside our door.   Slamming sounds.  More screaming, then nothing.  Hmm.  Wait, quivering, behind the door.

No sirens, no blood.  Peeking out the industrial hotel curtains into the darkness.  Silence.  Ok, then.  Back to bed? I’m glad I brought my own pillow; I’m clutching it like a 3-year-old.

We look around carefully before leaving the room in the morning. Step out into a freezing rain, suitcases scraping loudly on the icy sidewalk. The truck next to ours suddenly snaps awake – shaking, slamming, shrieking, hissing, screaming  souls in torment. Holy matrimony, Batman!! What is it??

 javelinas

Pigs. Javelinas. Red-eyed wild mexican pigs, now rushing at us through the barely contained tailgate of a muddy red truck that looks uncomfortably like our own. Whew. Glad we didn’t climb into that one.

We would definitely stay there again. But we did get our coffee from a safe distance down the road.

Silver Bean

* now with linky goodness.

Rust

rust woman 

Oxidation reactions occur when the combustion of oxygen that keeps us alive and well produces byproducts called oxygen free radicals. When this process occurs in metals, we call it rusting. When it happens in us, we call it aging.

“The process of life may be seen as one in which we start out 99 percent water and end up virtually solid.  It may be seen as a process of drying up, or drying out, or being hung up to dry.  The Bible says dust to dust, but physiologically our process is water to dust.  We each begin as a single cell, the fertilized egg that is almost entirely fluid.  By the time we are adults, our bodies have become more than one-third solid. When we die, all our bodily fluids evaporate and our bodies dessicate.”  — Joseph Heller

Testosterone, estrogen and progesterone – get on your knees, put your hands together for the hormonal trinity (applause). Collagen –  enriched, viscous, humectant – stimulates cellular proliferation. Draw moisture and nutrients from the air, mix nightly with elastin, wait for results. As time goes by, you will become younger, firmer, more bouncy and juicier than when you were 23.

Welcome to Moisture Control Services, your call is important to us. Please stay on the line, your call will be answered in the order received.

Bacteria, pollutants, radicals everywhere, sneaking up behind you – bam, you’re old. Old is 40; no – 50; no – 60; no – 70; no – 80. No . . . old is always five years older than you and me. Isn’t it?

Feel the future. Soft, thin skin, blue veins, lines coursing out like rivers, memory map, recorded history. What is it? Dry like dust, soft like powder, temporary like time, permanent like everything. Having become smooth – an aged mountain with worn edges, a quiet fading from red to purple to dusty stone, catching light in old hands as it falls.

grand canyon


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