Archive for June, 2011


Confessions of a Plant Murderer

I give up, and hereby turn myself into the proper authorities.

I killed them.

I recently spent $50 for two of these flower baskets:

I bought them 4 weeks ago. They were full and lush and beautiful. When I put them into their special hanging baskets the foliage was so thick I could barely see to get the hanging chains around the pot. When I took them back to the store, 2 weeks ago, I was told that I had underwatered them, and that I should water them twice a day until water runs out the bottom. Now they’re still dead, but they’re also really really wet. I’ve removed them from their hanging locations on my front porch so as not to frighten neighborhood children.

I also bought four of these little mum pots:

These were not underwatered, but, rather, drowned in the water captured by the deceptively innocent-looking, brightly-colored, outer pots after the last big rain storm, a development which went unnoticed by me for a couple of days.

The above were all purchased from a fancy nursery chain, where I paid premium prices.

This basket was purchased at my grocery store for a humble $12, and for some reason seems to be thriving. Apparently my aura doesn’t reach to the back yard.

Go figure.

You’ll also notice the beautiful tomato plant in the background, which has yet to be eaten by the deer, and is, at this moment, the proud bearer of a single green tomato. This is, of course, only a matter of time.

I was under the mistaken impression that the stinky spray I squirt around the yard was actually protecting the daylilies by my mailbox from the local deer population, until I went to get the mail yesterday and noticed that, while all of the stalks are still there (they’re tricky, those rats with long legs), there were only 2 actual blooms remaining. I give them a day, two at the most.

I was visiting First Son in Cleveland over the weekend, and we were sitting outside Presti’s in Little Italy. (If you haven’t been there, get thee hither. And have a buccalati or two, and a cinnamon star, or three, and their antipasti, and a cappuccino. Not necessarily in that order. Their “Italian Sandwich” didn’t look half bad either, and the lemon ice was crisp and refreshing. And no, they’re not paying me for advertising. That’s funny, I almost wrote they’re not paying me for free advertising. Ha!) Hanging over our heads were beautiful flower baskets, not unlike this one:

As I had spent several hours there that day, first eating my lunch and sipping my coffee and reading my book (The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss, I highly recommend it!) while First Son worked his shift, and then again when he met me there afterwards, I eyed them frequently, on the alert for signs of wilting or the loss of the will to live.

I’ve decided my gardening efforts might be better spent with plants like this one:

Although one of the little metal petals (see what I did there?) have been bent by the hose. At least it’s not dying. Not yet, anyway. Give me a few weeks.

Here we see Second Son celebrate his 18th birthday:

First Son was 21 in February. Only Daughter’s a beautiful 10.

Given my record with plants, I guess they should count themselves lucky that I’ve managed to keep them alive for this long.


Politics as Usual: Dumb and Dumber

It’s good for all of us feministas out there to know we have two women vying, each in their own way, for the position of the presidency. Although if Hilary Clinton wasn’t “good” (smart, savvy, experienced, educated, coherentforcryingoutloud) enough to be president, I can’t imagine either of these (Michele Bachman, Sarah Palin) could qualify. Unless, of course, we’re not really concerned about any of the above, nor of our potential president’s grasp of facts, or reality; a possibility that looms large while continuing to boggle the mind.

Today’s quiz: see if you can identify the (mis)speaker in the following quotes. To make it fair, I will cross out speakerisms which might make it too obvious.

1.  “John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa,” Ms. _________________ told Carl Cameron of Fox News in an interview. “That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.”

The actor was actually born in Winterset, Iowa, which is about 150 miles southwest of Waterloo. It was John Wayne Gacy, known as the killer clown who raped and murdered 33 teenage boys in the 1970s, who lived in Waterloo.

John Wayne, beloved actor; John Wayne Gacy, pedophile rapist clown; what’s the difference?

2.  “He who warned uh, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh by ringing those bells, and um, makin’ sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed.”

Besides the blinding obliteration of the facts, one can’t help but ponder. As we try to teach students to write, we ask them first if they can speak. If they can’t, they should run for president?

But look how pretty they are.

I love that the source from which I got the Michele Bachman photo was an article with the headline “I am Dangerous.” No shit, sherlock.


Say Her Name

I’ve just finished reading Say Her Name, a rambling but effective book written by Francisco Goldman shortly after his wife, Aura, dies while body surfing in Mexico. I found the book, the story, to be incredibly sad.

A photo from their wedding

was included in both of the reviews of the book I encountered, in which they look so incredibly happy, and so completely surprised to be so happy. I get this surprise, though. I feel it too. I went through about the first forty years of my life “making” the decisions I was expected to make, and realizing more and more that I felt like I was walking through water, and now keep wondering when somebody is going to pinch me.

I was thinking, as I was reading Goldman’s book, about how many of these tributes are written after the object of the author’s love has died, and I wonder why no one’s writing them earlier. Maybe the difficulty is the one I fear, the hearts and flowers syndrome, or that no one will want to read it without the empathy-generating tragedy. I guess we all feel a stronger connection to stories that recount stories of sadness and loss; tragedy draws us all closer, hence the interest in trapped-miner and teenagers-in-tragic-car-accident and couple-on-the-way-to-their-honeymoon-when-the-plane-crashes stories. There’s a pull, that could be me, a rush of sympathy, a quiet little guilty thrill that we’re still safe at home with our children in the next room and our husband making us coffee, that this person has suffered unimaginable and irretrievable loss, but at least it’s not me.


Reed Krakoff

Just read this article about this new “designer” and his newest project.

Here’s a slide show of his newest collection.

IMHO: The clothes are boxy, shapeless, and unappealing. It’s quite clear that his years at Coach have directly influenced his artistic aesthetic, and I can’t help but think he’d be better off sticking to designing utilitarian handbags rather than clothes. He’s apparently quite enamored of his wife, a “gamine French” woman, but I can’t imagine that even she would look good in these outfits.

Some questions for Mr. Krakoff:

Is the point of the gray sheer blouse just that we be grateful for the pockets?

As opposed to this:

Now I’ll be the first to admit that she does have firm, beautiful breasts, and I’m not such a cretin that I don’t understand that fashion is supposed to be as much about “art” as it is about “clothes,”  but aren’t you also supposed to be able to actually wear the clothes without getting arrested?

And what’s up with the blacksmith’s apron?

All she needs is one of those masks.

And how about these for pure fashion hideousness?

It’s a box, it’s a paper-towel tube, it’s _____________________!

These clothes don’t even fit her. The shirt looks like something cut for a 10-year old, the pants fit awkwardly across her “hips,” and the length, especially paired with the clod-hopper shoes, just doesn’t work.  What Mr. Krakoff doesn’t seem to realize is that if the clothes look this bad on a model, noone’s going to buy them, unless, maybe they feel they have something to prove.

I can’t find prices on the website, so I have no idea what Mr. Krakoff is charging for these beauties, but I’m sure I could find a Catholic-school uniform shirt at a Kmart, and a pair of my son’s outgrown dress pants in my basement and let you have them for, say, $150. Is it a deal?

And is there maybe an elusive yet compelling aesthetic reason that the model be generally unattractive AND bowlegged? Just wondering.


Dumbest question ever

So I’m Googling the question “Is it safe to swim in Lake Erie,” and I find this question:

“I went swimming in Lake Erie last week and I missed my period that was due on Monday. Can I be pregnant?”

Seriously? Is it possible that someone is this stupid?

Or maybe it’s a joke, like Joaquin Phoenix’s infamous meltdown, or this “singing” teacher that posts a bunch of tutorials on youtube:

Which reminds me, how about this guy?



my own personal “core” club

An invitation to my newly opened “core” club

No “initiation” fees, no membership fee. You’re welcome to bring your gadgets, but please don’t “talk” on them while talking to me. I’ll feed you, make you coffee, share our latest under-$7.99/bottle wine discovery, and even do the dishes afterwards. You can dry, but only if you want to. I might commiserate over facial blemishes, but only if they are actually visible under natural light. If you are taking your family to any exotic country via your own private Gulfstream, I will NOT commiserate about the difficulties of modern travel. Your difficulties are not mine. I just flew coach, had someone’s chair back resting on my forehead all the way over the Atlantic, and was asked please not to use the bathroom in the middle of the plane anymore.

I can’t help but wonder if you or your spouse or your parents or whoever has earned all this money you apparently have, if any of you have actually done anything worthwhile for society. Some kind of contribution — cured cancer, invented a clean alternative energy source, taught first graders how to read. Somehow I doubt it.

I guess I shouldn’t be so hasty to judge. Some of the more exclusive clubs do go to great lengths to make sure you don’t have to stoop so low as to pop your own pimple. They will apparently even run out and buy your favorite beer at the corner store if one of their bartenders is a victim of his own bad judgment and they run out (I wonder what the price differential for that turns out to be; anybody want to guess? And I guess, once you earn a certain amount of money, it’s unreasonable to GO TO THE STORE YOURSELF).

But really, those luxuries are really just your rights once you are earning, on average, $13 million a year. Not really that much more than the rest of us. Last year, for example, I made how much you make in, just a minute, I have to get out my calculator. . . .hmmm, like a day and a half or something. Not really that far at all.

Whatever. We won’t run out for your favorite beer, but in the summer we usually have a few Coronas in the fridge, and a couple kinds we made ourselves in the basement — right now I think there are Viennese lager and a stout, but I might be wrong. There is a cat. She sheds, and is a little evil, but she’s very cuddly, and most people aren’t allergic.

There’s also a snake (in a tank in my daughter’s room), and, well, full disclosure requires that I point out that there are also a couple children. And a fish. But I have two tomato plants that the deer haven’t eaten yet, and the basil looks like it might do something this year, and the light, about 45 minutes before sunset, when it slants through the trees behind the house, is quite lovely.

I might ask if I can try on your Manolo Blahniks, since I really like shoes, and could never spend that much on a pair. Plus I have wide feet, and a bad back, so I probably won’t steal them or anything. But you’re probably privileged, and entitled, and snooty, and I’m generally intolerant of all of those things, so maybe it’s better if you just go to your club and I’ll just stay home.

Never mind. Sorry to bother you.


Oh, and NYTimes, what’s up with the “precious” writing? “. . .honeyed streaks conjured by some magician at Frédéric Fekkai”?  “It was the handbag that told the story, of course, as a handbag often does”? Seriously?  I can’t tell if I’m reading an article, or ad copy. I expect better from you. Please try harder.


mob mentality: not just an american “disease”

Some great photo shots of the rioting in Vancouver last night at this site.

I commented thus:

People are stupid. And violent. And looking for an excuse to behave badly. In some weird way I’m comforted that it’s not just Americans who act like this, although I wish no one would.

They can’t really be expecting this to accomplish anything — it’s not like they can expect to turn the game around: “Oh, look! We broke that shop window and stole stuff that wasn’t ours, punched that guy in the face and set that car on fire, and now the score is 5-4!” They have to know this, somewhere in the backs of their addled little brains.

Wonder how it all looks in the morning when they realize their faces are on facebook and people are identifying them. Wonder if they realized beforehand that there is still a standing law that makes participating in a riot 30 minutes beyond when being asked to disperse is punishable by life in prison. Wonder if that would have made any difference.

Mob mentality is a scary thing. I’ve felt myself caught up in it a couple of times before, most specifically once in a religious/retreat setting which I now look back upon with something like horror (I had no idea I could be so easily brainwashed, suspending all things I knew to be logical and true about both the world and myself). I’ve also been around when the crowds have started swirling, both times on the Michigan State University college campus. Once was at the beginning of a much-publicized block party in the mid 1980s which the police were reputedly going to discourage, and a lot of people were threatening to go and “show them.” I stayed home. The other was more recent, I think in 1999 when the MSU basketball team lost to Duke, but when I look it up online there are a disturbing number of post-sports disturbances on the MSU campus. To the point, alas, that they warrant their own entry on Wikipedia. In any case, I was driving west alongside campus as more and more people were rushing out into the open spaces on campus and along the sidewalks. I couldn’t get out of town fast enough.

Besides mob mentality is a thing referred to as herd mentality, which describes how people are influenced by their peers in areas like fashion, music, etc. This urge to belong, combined with what might even be an instinctive sense that we have more power if we act together, can trigger us to act in ways which we would never act alone.

There was a video clip on the CBC this morning of a man hurling things at police — and not just pieces of trash, like many in the crowd were throwing, but the legs of barricades, heavy things, things that could hurt someone. And he’s standing there in front of them, arms outstretched, with a look of proud defiance on his face. A look which would be heroic if he were staring down tanks in Tiananmen Square, or the National Guard at Kent State. But he was looking at police who were showing great restraint, who were there to keep people from getting hurt, and who weren’t hurting him, even though he was posing a threat to them. So, wow, yeah, you really showed them. Asshole.

Anyway, apparently there have already been ~ 150 arrests. Many businesses are trying to clean up their messes; a lot of (innocent) people are going to be contributing to a lot of rebuilding via insurance payouts. We don’t really seem to learn anything, just keep making the same mistakes over and over and over and over. . .

And many consider us to be the most “advanced” species. Anybody ever see any wild animals tear up their own place of residence or set their modes of transportation on fire after other animals vaguely and remotely “related” to them lose in a sporting event?


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