Archive for January, 2012


and so I find myself filled with rage

“Dear M&T Bank Customer Service:  I’ve spent an hour in a voicemail loop and/or on hold through your customer service number. M&T paid our Winter Taxes from our escrow on December 1. We refinanced later in the month, and the new mortgager also paid our real estate taxes. We have been told that the first payment has been refunded to M&T via a Tax Payment Servicing Company. We would like to know when we can expect to get this refund back to us. p.s. Your voicemail system doesn’t work — when I follow all of the prompts to the point where I indicate that I have a tax information question I end up back at the beginning. I’m very frustrated.”


“Dear Customer,
Thank you for your email.
Please be advised, we would be happy to assist you with your inquiry, however, we are unable to locate an account number for you. Please provide your mortgage account number so we may further assist you.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our Customer Service department at 1-800-724-2224.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve your banking needs.

Colleen Little
Mortgage Customer Support
Retail Servicing”


Well that sounds promising — Colleen would relish an “opportunity” to serve my “banking needs.”

Said mortgage account numbers were provided. . . .

Time passes. . . .

Lots and lots of time. . .

Feels like Days . .

Finally, I receive word from my new friend Heather:

“Dear Customer,

Thank you for your inquiry.
Please be advised you will need to follow up directly with our Tax Department at 1-866-406-0949.
I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
If you have any further questions or concerns regarding your mortgage account, please feel free to respond via email or contact our Customer Service Department directly at 1-800-724-2224.

Heather Mitchell-Carter
Mortgage Customer Support
Retail Servicing”



Customer Support my a%$. Apparently Colleen didn’t pass on to Heather the part of the message where I pointed out my excursion in voice mail purgatory. I begin to suspect that “Heather” is not actually a person, but an electronically-generated minion, an avatar of sorts, whose job is to parse the combinations of nouns and vowels in my email message and generate what seems to be a suitable response. I decide this is cynical, and will give Heather, or should I say, “Heather,” another chance:

“I tried yesterday to talk to someone at this Tax Department phone number. I went on an almost-an-hour-long voicemail loop which repeatedly returned me to the starting place. I don’t have time to do this again. Is it possible for someone from there to call me instead?”


More time passes. . .

Lots and lots of time. . .

Frustration builds. . .

Finally, Heather builds me up with false hope by actually replying to my message. Until I read it:

“Dear Customer,

Thank you for your inquiry.

Please be advised you will need to call the Tax Department directly at 1-866-406-0949 or you can contact our Customer Service Department at 1-800-724-2224 and request that a representative transfer you directly to a Tax Department Agent.
If you have any further questions or concerns regarding your mortgage account, please feel free to respond via email or contact our Customer Service Department directly at 1-800-724-2224.

Heather Mitchell-Carter
Mortgage Customer Support
Retail Servicing”

OMG — it’s just like their voice mail!

Just as I suspected. Heather is, in fact, “Heather,” and M&T doesn’t give a flying f@#$ in a rolling doughnut about customer “support.” They just want me to go away. Soon.

The fact that the bank (ahem, Fifth Third) that refinanced our mortgage and the title company (ahem, Midstate Title) that prepared the endless legal documents for us to sign and initial, and initial, and initial. . .    apparently dropped the ball by not noticing that our taxes had been paid TWO FULL WEEKS BEFORE CLOSING, and can’t seem to be bothered to interrupt their whatever-it-is-that-bankers-do-in-the-winter-since-they’re-clearly-not-playing-golf to fix this for me doesn’t help.

Plus it’s Tuesday, and I work way too many hours on Wednesday so I’m preemptively crabby.

That doesn’t help.

My newly henna’d hair, does, though, kick ass, so there is that at least.


Why do other people not doing their jobs have to make so much more work for me? I have enough to do (you can tell, right?). Why am I waiting 6 weeks to get my money back? Why am I paying interest over the next 15 years for money I didn’t need to borrow? Why is the world so goddamn frustrating?


Please overlook the apparent inappropriateness of the opening shot on the video, and watch it. It’s not what it looks like, even though the fact that it looks like it does is kind of the point.


Something worthy of the 501st post. . .or maybe not

Politics: Is it really possible that the Republican party can’t come up with someone more viable than Mitt Romney and his millions and his condescension, or Newt Gingrich and his volatility and personal and professional unreliability?

Religion: Read this post by the Circular Runner. (Another one of those “what he said” moments.)

Home: Dexter the Dancing Dog has seriously backslid on potty training. I hope it’s just a teething phase or something. He was with Only Daughter at Only Daughter’s Dad’s (ODD?) house for the weekend — complete upheaval, probably, and I think he missed me. He won’t get out of my lap this morning. He’s very soft and cuddly, so it’s okay.

Culture: Saw two great movies on DVD over the weekend — Contagion and The Conspirator. The whole time I was watching Contagion I was worrying about picking up my own wine glass in case I was going to catch something. And Marion Cotillard has the most beautiful accent I’ve ever heard. Robin Wright was absolutely amazing in The Conspirator, and the issues addressed: the rights of civilians to civilian trials, the beliefs held by people in power that law can and should be suspended in times of “war,” hit way too close to home and the Bush/Iraq era.

Books: Just finished reading Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending. Loved it. Don’t know what to read next. Any suggestions?

Music: Does anyone know how to use Ping? I want to be able to post music for my piano students to listen to. I thought that was kind of what it’s for but I can’t figure out how to use it.

Music part 2: Just finished putting the whole book of Honk! on CD for an area high school for rehearsals. Nothing like trying to learn and record an entire musical in a week, not to mention the 2-hour long argument I had to mediate last night between my digital recorder and iTunes. (I prevailed, finally.) Does anybody know why iTunes insists on reordering things when importing? I had to manually drag all of the tracks around (3 times, because the first two times didn’t seem to transfer correctly) and then when I burned it to the CDs it removed all of the labels from the tracks. REALLY FRUSTRATING! Although I’m sure it has a lot more to do with me not really knowing what I’m doing than about the limitations of the program itself.

Blogging: Two blogs I’ve recently discovered which I’m really enjoying: Redamancylit, where the blogger posts excerpts from various writings, many of them profoundly beautiful; and musicandstroke, written by a friend of mine, a percussionist, who suffered a stroke about a year ago, and who writes about the recovery process and how different life/the world looks afterwards. Check them out!

Family: First Son is about to turn 22. Why does that sound so much older than 21? And Only Daughter will be 11 on Wednesday. Sheesh.

Some pictures from the last week of facebook postings:

And this, just because you can never have too many boots, or cats:



Henna it is!

Here it is! So far I love it. We’ll see what 3 to 4 days of “oxidation” does.



to henna, or not to henna, that is the question

Every few years I start to get bored. . .with my hair.*  So periodically I cut it all off, or color the back half really dark and the top half really light, or do some dramatic highlights, or something. But I hate the time and money commitment required to maintain these dramatic “do’s” (or don’t’s, depending on who you ask), so then I just recolor it a color close to natural, let the gray show and call it “highlights,” until I get bored again, and off I go.

Well, the budget’s a little tight these days, so a few weeks ago I started to consider trying henna.

Isn't it gorgeous?

I did lots of research, including reading this book, and ordered some henna (plus indigo, for a darker brownish red) online to try it.

Then I thought about it for a couple of weeks, really really worried that it wouldn’t go well, and I would, as I like to say, have only myself to blame.

I even called my hairdresser, to ask her advice, and whether she would put it in while I was there for my haircut today, and she was not really all that excited about it. Husband thought this was Important, and that I Should Listen to Her.

Two days ago I decided what the heck, and mixed it all up. But I, in my usual impetuous way, “remembered” the directions rather than looking up the directions, and mixed it wrong. Which means, when I did the sample strand the next day, nothing happened.

Oops. The whole bowl of stinky green goop went into the trash.

It is very green, and very stinky.

Then, I was at the health food store, buying Meat Tenderizer (to put on the dog food to discourage the dog from eating his own, well, never mind) and faro, and lo and behold, they had henna!

I bought 7 little packets.

Here’s the label:

I laughed it off.

Second Son is home from college for the weekend. I asked him last night, as I mixed the seven little packets of henna powder with lemon juice, whether he was planning on having a group of friends over this afternoon, as I was going to need to put this green goop on my hair, and preferred not to be seen by anybody that didn’t need to.

He peered over my shoulder.

SS: You’re putting that in your hair?

Me: Yup.

SS: I don’t think that looks like a good idea.

Me: It will be fine. People have been using henna for centuries

SS: Does G—- (Husband) know about this?

Me: Yup.

SS: Looks to me like a science experiment that’s going to go horribly wrong.

I laughed that off too.

I’m sitting here right now with a quart of green goop in my hair, hair covered with a shower cap, hoping for the best.

I’ll let you know how it all works out.

I did tip the hairdresser today after my cut, which I don’t usually do, as she runs her own business, but I told her I thought it would be important to foster as much good will as possible in case I had to place an emergency call to her tonight regarding fitting me in for a “fix.” She was fairly sure that if it did go wrong, she could fix it. Here’s hopin’.


*or some other easily-changed aspect of my appearance — like about 6 years ago when I got my nose pierced. Only Daughter, 4 at the time, held my hand. It was sweet, and a little weird.

what he said

Child poverty, athletes, and the question of fairness.


when all is said

What is to be done, then,
when we have said what
to be said
and, after saying these things,
know not what
to say
One or both
afraid of the cracks
not-love might cast
a looming shadow
x, not loving
about y,
might this
one thing
not grow, then,
like a
the beginning
of the
Once this fabric
has been
rent, torn,
is it weaker
like a flaw,
or stronger,
like a
And why do these
always reveal how
I am
despite my brave
words and brave
I am
in direct light,
and always
wishing I could
this skin
I’m in,
and be
someone else
I’ve tired less


At the still point of the turning world

A beautiful post written by a friend and fellow musician who is recovering from a stroke.

At the still point of the turning world.


After Twelve Days of Rain

After Twelve Days of Rain.


I wonder, if I had read this 20 years ago. . .

I posted a link to which quoted part of this article on my facebook page. A friend pointed me to the entire article. I feel the need to quote it below — and wonder, if I had read it 20 years ago if I would have recognized its truth, and done much of it differently. Probably not, because I probably thought I was doing it that way at the time. I’m probably still not.

One of life’s persistent challenges, I guess.

Nevertheless. . .

Anna Quindlen on Motherhood

Anna Quindlen on Motherhood

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves.

Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with “Goodnight Moon” and “Where the Wild Things Are,” they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations –what they taught me was that they couldn’t really teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. (emphasis mine) One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One boy is toilet trained at 3, his brother at 2. When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow.

I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton’s wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month-old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language – mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her
geography test, and I responded, What did you get wrong? (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald’s drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I’d done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity.

That’s what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.


New Eyes

I wonder sometimes
if people who contemplate suicide
have merely tired of being
holding the hope of reincarnation
tightly in both hands,
this the only way they can
think of
to put on someone else’s skin,
carry someone else’s luggage,
look in the mirror
into someone else’s eyes.


i want. i want. i want. at least it’s not just me.

i want. i want. i want. at least it’s not just me..


stop me if you’ve heard this one

It’s made its rounds, I’m sure, but as an owner of a very uppity Siamese cat and a very enthusiastic puppy, this is really hitting home these days.

Dexter the Dancing Dog

A Dog’s Diary……..

8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm – Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm – Milk Bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm – Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

A Cat’s Diary…

Day 983 of my captivity….

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets.

Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a “good little hunter” I am. Bastards.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of “allergies.” I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I will try this again tomorrow, but on the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released – and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now………


yeah, right

How convenient.


another one of life’s persistent questions

Which is funnier?

Inquiring minds want to know.


what does it all mean?

I got 3 calls this week, from various members of my family, informing me that the husband of a friend of mine from high school — the only high school friend I’m still in touch with AT ALL — had died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 50.

I’m 47. Husband’s 53. I need to call my friend but I don’t know if I can do it. I’m afraid I’ll just start crying and not be able to stop — ME, when she’s the one who lost her husband.

I recently read Julian Barnes’ Nothing to be Frightened Of, his novel-length essay on his fear of dying and how he has dealt (or not, depending on how you look at it) with the death of his parents. I always enjoy his writing, but something he says in this book resonates particularly well with me — it’s not the fear of dying itself, the imagined pain and lingering and smelliness of the process, but the idea of not existing anymore. How does one reconcile oneself with that? It might sound kind of stupid just to say this out loud, but I just can’t comprehend it.

Despite my upbringing, and the tendencies of just about everyone in my family, I find that I don’t really have any faith to speak of. The whole idea of “God” doesn’t resonate with me, much less make any kind of logical sense. If we can’t comprehend our own evolution, how does our creation by a being whose own evolution can’t be explained resolve it? If we’re sinful by nature, how does the death of an Innocent absolve us? I may be too logical for my own good, but if it doesn’t make sense, my need for reason combined with my innate cynicism can’t get me past it.

So here I am, pretty sure that this is it, we get one time around and then that’s it, but at the same time I feel so strongly that I am so much more than this body I’m living in, and how is one supposed to live life as if every day might be your Last, when what you really want to do is stay home with Husband and make good food and drink cappuccino and read that book you started; but if it’s not your Last, then you’ve blown off work and gotten your a@# fired and now who’s going to pay the mortgage? (Especially if Husband felt the same way, &c, &c.)

Husband and I talked about this tonight, over the last bits of the night’s bottle of wine and the first period of the Red Wings game. We’ve reached no definitive conclusions, except for this: if either one of us dies “early,” and unexpectedly, I’m going to be really, really pissed.

Husband: “Now there’s something to be frightened of. You dead, and angry.”


a winter’s walk

The poem/observations is/are from a couple weeks ago. The pictures from today.

Hannah strides in front of me in her cupcake fleece pajama pants
and purple parka;
the puppy bounces springily through the snow
as indifferent clouds drift,

and a single tear glitters frozen
on my cheek,
not felt but seen,


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missed it by that much

Does anybody out there understand the algorithms used by stores such as WalMart and Target which oh-so-often lead to these types of search results?

Yeah, that was close.


unforeseen consequences

"Nutrition" Information per Twinkie





This might be a problem for Hostess, but it can’t possibly be a problem for anyone else.



The week, so far, in pictures

Dexter Dog loves peanut butter in his Kong, but I have a real problem with a) paying the boutique prices to buy it in those fancy spray cans and b) putting a knife back into a jar of peanut butter after having stuck it, peanut-butter-laden, into the center of the toy that my dog has licked the previous peanut butter out of. So, we bought Dexter Dog his own peanut butter. As part of my “Truth in Advertising” campaign:



Also, it’s January 11. Even the 12 days of Christmas were over 5 days ago. Unless you’re having a party, and we’re all invited, take down your Christmas lights.


I always wonder if these are the same people who were shopping for presents and listening to carols in October, or their “opposite.”


Does this bother anyone but me?

In the first speech Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio gave on the floor of the U.S. Senate, in June, he said: “We should never forget who we Americans are. Every single one of us is the descendant of  go-getter. Of dreamers and of believers. Of men and women who took risks and made sacrifices because they wanted their children to live better off than themselves.” Okay so far, except for the poor grammatical construction of the final clause. But then he continues: “And so, whether they came here on the Mayflower, on a slave ship, or on an airplane from Havana, we are all descendants of the men and women who built here the nation that saved the world.”

I wonder if the people brought over on the slave ships saw it that way.

And “saved the world”? From what?



September 1, 1939; W. H. Auden

20120109-120742.jpgHe might have written this in 1939, but he could just as well have written it today. This makes me very sad. Does nothing change? Do we not learn anything? We’re not evolving, we just, must, keep doing the same thing over and over and over again, hoping it will be different, at least for us.

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
‘I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,’
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.


instead of what I should be doing. . .

Which is getting my act together to start another college semester tomorrow, what I’m doing is thanking Quieter Elephant for, and humbling accepting, his* nomination for The Versatile Blogger award.

I suppose I “qualify” because I write about just about everything. Here I always feared that this just revealed me to be a jack-of-all-trades-master-at-none, at best, or, at worst, a scatter-brain. Who knew that this meant I was  “versatile”? Versatile’s good, right?

So now I get to face the challenge of figuring out how to display this lovely badge on my site (little help from any of you techies out there?), and to follow the “rules”  — although I am reassured that there are no “blogging police” out there, I am, if nothing else, a rule-follower, so here goes.

The Rules: 

1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass this award along to 15 or 20. (This is going to be difficult for me, despite my claim to be a rule-follower. I barely have time to keep up with writing on my own, and don’t think I even read 15 or 20 blogs. I’m going to count on the reassurances of not being policed, and recommend only those I know well enough to do so with integrity.)

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

Seven Things About Me

1. I tried, one year at Thanksgiving, when one of my sisters was asking what we were thankful for, to be thankful for cheese. She thought I was kidding. I wasn’t. I love food — good food, healthful food, interesting food, strongly-flavored food, and even better if this delicious food is being served with interesting wines. You will often find on this blog recipes or reports of our latest delicious creations. I also think that the four food groups (I know, it’s a pyramid now, but work with me) should be cheese, chocolate, wine, and coffee. Somehow I can’t see that going over, although, if you have those four, I’m pretty sure the rest of the good stuff works its way in somehow.

2. I want to be loved, admired, respected. I often joke that, as the 6th of 8 children, I have a tremendous need for external validation, and nothing pleases me more than any form of being patted on the head (“Me! Me! Pay attention to me!). This award definitely qualifies, so, again, thank you! Unfortunately, sometimes this means I talk too loud, say too much, and cry too often (when I feel I’m being overlooked or undervalued).

3. I’m three years into my second marriage, to the man of my dreams. I was married before for nearly 20 years, to a very kind, good man with whom I had very little in common and therefore virtually nothing to talk about. The wresting away, with the fear of hurt to my children, was the most difficult thing I have ever done. My husband, (known to you as Husband,) is everything I ever wanted in a husband — besides the fact that he cooks, does laundry, shops, insists on making my coffee every morning — he’s my best friend, lover and favorite companion (I hope this doesn’t embarrass him).

4. I wish I could live at least ten different lives. I want to write, paint, make sculptures in my garage and collages out of photos and stones and scraps of paper, take pictures, travel, be a surgeon, fly a plane. I want to be a tall black woman with fabulous hair, a nerdy scientist who finds the cure for cancer. I want to read every great book ever written, watch every great movie ever made. There just can’t be enough time in one life to do all that I want to do.

5. I’m perpetually conflicted. While I feel all of the things above, I feel the need to work countless hours at work I’m not always sure is what I want to do anymore, and I don’t always take as good of care of myself as someone who wants to live 300 years should.

6. Wow. I’m at 6 already. I didn’t think I’d get this far.

7. I love writing on this blog. I find myself thinking about this more than I think about anything else I “do.” I wish I could make a living at it.

Blogs I recommend

Misfits Miscellany: this and that for all things literary

Blog con Queso: many ways of looking at the world and being a woman

Running in Circles: don’t we all?

This is not that Blog: So funny! Makes me want to go out and get a digital drawing pad, even though I can’t draw

Mocha Momma: Love her!

Treacle Talks:  Her banner reads “planning to get sauced on life’s juice: stumbling her way to getting there.” Exactly!

Mannered Gold: Her banner reads “Mumbling with enthusiasm; typing with inflection.” Exactly! (Again; is it okay if I say that twice?)

Roger Ebert’s Blog: You might think it’s just going to be about movies, but it’s about so much more.

The Bloggess: She’s probably already nominated, and won, but she’s funny, irreverent, generous, and real. My favorite combination. I wish she lived next door so she could be my neighbor/best friend that my husband worried about when we went out together at night.

On to my next task.

Thanks for reading!

*I assume it’s a “he” because what woman would name her blog after an elephant?


Look Homeward, Angel

There were long stretches of this book that were somewhat frustrating for me –where I felt that Thomas Wolfe was just so in love with the sound of his own voice (and his prodigious writing talent) that he forgot he was telling a story; but his writing talent is, in fact, prodigious, but the characters are three-dimensional, real, and the story a compelling one, generally well told.

At the end Eugene, the gradually-revealed hero of the story, has survived the torments of his upbringing — his drunken, self-pitying father, his pinched, grasping mother, the tragic death of his disgruntled yet beloved brother, Ben — and is off to Harvard. On his last night in “his” town he encounters the ghost of his brother amongst all of the shadows of their various former selves, and the enervated masonry angels of his father’s livelihood.


And in his vision he saw the fabulous lost cities, buried in the drifted silt of the earth — Thebes, the seven-gated, and all the temples of the Daulian and Phocian lands, and all Oenotria to the Tyrrhene gulf. Sunk in the burial-urn of earth he saw the vanished cultures: the strange sourceless glory of the Incas, the fragments of lost epics upon a broken shard of Gnossic pottery, the buried tombs of the Memphian kings, and imperial dust, wound all about with gold and rotting linen, dead with their thousand bestial gods, their mute unawakened ushabtii, in their finished eternities. (See? But persist. . .)

He saw the billion living of the earth, the thousand billion dead; seas were withered, deserts flooded, mountains drowned; and gods and demons came out of the South, and ruled above the little rocket-flare of centuries, and sank–came to their Northern Lights of death, the muttering death-flared dusk of the completed gods.

But, amid the fumbling march of races to extinction, the giant rhythms of the earth remained. The seasons passed in their majestic processionals, and germinal Spring returned forever on the land–new crops, new men, new harvests, and new gods.

And then the voyages, the search for the happy land. In his moment of terrible vision he saw, in the tortuous ways of a thousand alien places, his foiled quest of himself. And his haunted face was possessed of that obscure and passionate hunger that had woven its shuttle across the seas, that had hung its weft among the Dutch in Pennsylvania, that had darkened his father’s eyes to impalpable desire for wrought stone and the head of an angel. Hill-haunted whose vision of the earth was mountain-walled, he saw the golden cities sicken his eye, the opulent dark splendors turn to dingy gray. His brain was sick with the million books, his eyes with the million pictures, his body sickened on a hundred princely wines.

And rising from his vision, he cried: “I am not there among the cities. I have sought down a million streets, until the goat-cry died within my throat, and I have found no city where I was, no door where I had entered, no place where I had stood.”

. . .

“Fool,” said Ben, “what do you want to find?”

“Myself, and an end to hunger, and the happy land,” he answered. “For I believe in harbors at the end. O Ben, brother, and ghost, and stranger, you who could never speak, give me an answer now!”

Then, as he thought, Ben said: “There is no happy land. There is no end to hunger.”

. . .

He stood naked and alone in darkness, far from the lost world of the streets and faces; he stood upon the ramparts of his soul, before the lost land of himself; heard inland murmurs of lost seas, the far interior music of the horns. The last voyage, the longest, the best.

“O sudden and impalpable faun, lost in the thickets of myself, I will hunt you down until you cease to haunt my eyes with hunger. I heard your foot-falls in the desert, I saw your shadow in old buried cities, I heard your laughter running down a million streets, but I did not find you there And no leaf hangs for me in the forest; I shall lift no stone upon the hills; I shall find no door in any city. But in the city of myself, upon the continent of my soul, I shall find the forgotten language, the lost world, a door where I may enter, and music strange as any ever sounded; I shall haunt you, ghost, along the labyrinthine ways until—–until? O Ben, my ghost, my answer?”


But in the city of myself
upon the continent of my soul
I shall find the forgotten language,
the lost world,
a door where I may enter,
and music strange as any ever sounded.

Yes. Just that.


following the youtube trail

Was watching the video clips from my “life, in dance” post, and clicked on a couple of the follow-ups.

You must watch this:

and this:

Absolutely stunning. Especially the second one.


Well isn’t that just terrific.

(Click on the headline to read the whole article.)

I guess I could be really naive and ask what kind of religion sanctions such behavior, but we all know the answer to that question. (What WOULD Jesus do?)

I’ll just pose these puzzlers instead:

Person A’s right to free speech surpasses person B’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

Sticks and stones can break bones, but words will never hurt?

What’s wrong with these people?



something you don’t want to eat every day

Encountered this “dish” recently:


We read the label. Not sure we’d ever seen this before:


(Sorry it’s sideways. My laptop’s in rehab so I’m doing this on my tablet, and I don’t know how to rotate pictures. I’ll try to fix it from the other computer.)

But note: 7 g. saturated fat per serving, and 101% of your RDA of cholesterol.

Gordon Food Service is unconscionable for selling this. It makes me wonder how much more of their food is actually “food.” Eating stuff like this can’t be good for you, even once.

Maybe they should change their name to Gordon “Food” Service.


is this giving up?


The pajama jean.

And these look better/are more flattering than sweat pants because?


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