Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I Go Fishing and Catch Something Bad

Ernest Hemingway: "We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get a damned hurt use it don't cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist."

Sparkle: The pond was cold. Good, cold water like the water we used to have back when we were young and had the real, cold water. The fish were old. Old trout who had seen the battle, bled the blood, told the tales. Smart fish, old fish, tale-telling fish.

The woman sat on the bank of the pond and studied a rock like she knew the old fish were there and she did not care. The bank was made of the stuff they call dirt and covered with a thick matting of the shrubs known as fish sedge and the weeds known as weeds. The fish sedge and weeds ringed the pond with a promise they could not keep.

The woman sat on. She used to think about commas, semi-colons, and passive voice. She only thought about water now and the reflections. She did not think about the fish. She did not think about the fish sedge and weeds. She did not think about thoughts.

The sun was two hours higher now. It beat down upon the woman who did not think. It did not hurt her eyes. It made her hot. All my life the sun has made me hot, she thought. And that was all she thought. It was enough.

The woman touched the cloth of the green cotton sweater that hid her ripe, young breasts.* The cotton was thin cotton that had once grown in a field where insects lived and died. The sweater was made in a mill by the people who make the sweaters. This sweater has been making me hot all day, she thought. She took the sweater off and spread it out on the weeds.

The shadows came later and with them the bugs that suck the blood of young and old, rich and poor. The woman lazily dragged the green cotton sweater up off the good ground. She shook the green cotton sweater and pulled it back on. It was a good sweater. It was a good, clean sweater that had not been soiled.

The woman thought of the goodness of the sweater later, in the dark when it was cold and she was half-asleep. She took the sweater out to the small back deck of the cottage where she lived. The deck was made of wood and painted red. It was an old deck. It had seen feet. The deck saw her feet as she shook the sweater over the rail. The deck tried to warn her. The woman did not hear. The woman pulled the sweater over her nakedness and went to bed.

The red marks did not come for two days. When the red marks came, they stayed. And they itched. They itched with the itch that we felt when we were young and could itch for years. “Oh, no,” the woman said, “I would have had such a damned good time fishing if I hadn't managed to get poison ivy on my boobs." "Yes," the green sweater said, "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

*This is extremely liberal literary license.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Maybe Don't Try This at Home...Hairdo or Hair Don't?

This ad is a big fat fib, swarming with a whole lot of little McFibbersons.
1) Ad says: "No tight, fussy curls on this page!" ALL of the curls on this page are tight 'n fussy.
2) Even the "Aloha" hair style looks tight and fussy. Even the "Aloha"!
3) The only casual hair style on this page is the one where the woman is combing her hair away from her head at a sharp, right angle. That one looks not just casual, but fun.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

A CHILD'S GARDEN OF PUDDING

A is for Alice...Check out his fine Pudding!
B is for "Bowl Cut"...Don't get one of these! (named after a pudding basin and a truly regrettable choice...
C is for Cap...tots wore these out clubbing!
D is for dick: Its spots sure scare me!
E is for eerie...like these "pudding dollies"! (An exhibit of the Skeptiseum..."The Skeptical Museum of the Paranormal")
F is for flamethrower...to brown creme brulee!

G is for Goblin...a beef-laden pudding!
H is for "Honest," he must mean us harm!
I is for indian...I like chocolate better!
J is for Jane...Almost Mrs. Paul!
K is for Kozy Shack...A Mogul of pudding!
L is for looky...this little guy's doomed. (Doesn't he know the ugly fate that is about to befall him? Augh! The puddingmanity...thepuddingmanity!)
M is for magic...boy, that pudding's pissed off!
N is for navigating...and he stays the course! (Go here to see more such photos. This site appears to have a lotta photoshop contests, people submit stuff, and other people comment and vote? I dunno. I'm just a simple unfrozen caveman lawyer.)
O is for Oh my, what's this hombre up to? (Someone named Aurora made him.)
P is for "Pudz"...a right filthy name!
Q is for quirky... What is "panda flavour"?!
R is for recipe...it's jolly well time! Chocolate Pudding Cake
Preheat the oven to 350. Grab a 9 x 12 pan. No, you won't be using it; just grab it. In a mixing bowl, stir together 1.25 cups flour, 3/4 c. sugar, 2 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/3 cup melted butter, 2 eggs, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Quickly pour this into the bottom of the ungreased 9 x 12 pan--oops, I lied, you do need it--and use the back of a large spoon or spatula to even out the batter. Sprinkle two chocolate bars, broken into small chunks, over the top of the batter. Mix together 1 cup sugar, 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup hot water, and 1 T vanilla and pour it over the broken chocolate and batter. Bake for 20-24 minutes until it rises, cracks on top, and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. That is all. Or, go to the store! Either one.

S is for Stallone...He makes some weird brown crud:
T is for treacle...it ain't spotted dick!
U is for universal...from globe to Milky Way! This is the work of Natalie Dee. Visit her Web site, where you will find a wondrous array of visual stimuli.
V is for velvet...a boozy ol' treat
4 eggs, separated; 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar; 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips; 1/4 cup boiling water; 1/4 cup Frangelico Liqueur. Beat egg whites until foamy gradually adding sugar until stiff. Whirl chocolate chips in blender until very finely grated. Add boiling water and blend until chocolate melts. Add egg yolks and Frangelico. Blend until very smooth. Gently fold chocolate mixture into whites. Spoon into dessert dishes. Chill until set. Garnish with hazelnuts, if desired. Better still: Go to a restaurant!

W is for wrestling...Headless dude wears a tux!
X is for xerox...Don't copy pudding.

Y is for you...Why not have one of these? (from Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management)
Z is for Zane Grey...chronicled cowboys...
Yeah, well. Cowboys LOVE pudding. The End.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Happy Spring/Bear Battle!


Four True Stories!

True Story #1: I used to cut my own bangs. You might find this very difficult to believe from this picture.
True Story #2: The Cheesy Winey Puffy Casserole RecipeThis is the true story of how you, and you, and you can make a Cheesy Winey Puffy Casserole just like I do!
1) Rinse 2 cups of dried peas very carefully. Be sure to remove any small twigs or stones that might have slipped through during processing. Pour the peas into a large bowl of cold water. Now, gently set them aside and tiptoe away from them. They are not needed in this recipe. It is okay. Walk away from the peas.
2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3) Go find the bottle of red or white wine--yes, that's good, that one. Now test it to make sure the quality is good. No. You will need a larger glass than that to adequately test it. Better still: Do you have a pitcher? Oh. Too bad. Just swig from the bottle, then.
4) Wander off and check "To Do" list for the week. Remember that you have not mailed books and jawbone and ribs of deer to your sister as intended--sister has strange "natural history" shelf in her garage that this item (found in gully next to house) must grace. Wonder whether, if the post office clerk asks you "Do you have anything hazardous, liquid, perishable, etc.," you should proudly cry out, "I have bones!" Make mental note not to do so.
5) AUGH! Stink! Smoke! Fire alarm going off! What the hell did you leave in the oven? Should have checked before turning oven on and preheating. Should always, always check. Don't you remember that long-ago roommate who liked to "store" baked products wrapped in plastic in the oven? Check oven. Oven perfectly empty. This is somehow more distressing than finding smoldering and incinerated molten mass of plastic and toasted bread.
6) Retrieve small black dog from where she cowers in corner. Recently, you have discovered that she is terrified of fire alarms. No other sound scares her. Just fire alarms. Once again wonder whether she survived a fire in "the old country" and ran away. Small black dog is briefly consoled and then slinks back to the corner where she hides, shivering and gazing at you with giant, sorrowful eyes.
7) Drink some wine. Try to soothe small black dog with a series of treats. Coax her out from corner. Small black dog accepts each treat weakly, as if a delicate, delicate invalid, gobbles them all down, and then slinks back to the corner where she hides, shivering and gazing at you with giant, sorrowful eyes.
8) Yank battery out of fire alarm and put on mantel where, you once again reflect, it will do you NO GOOD in the event of an actual fire.
9) Okay. Down to business.
Layer in an oiled baking dish: 3 cups grated cheese and 4-6 slices of bread. Pour over it: 1 1/2 cups milk and 1/2 cup wine. Mix separately and pour over bread: 3 eggs beaten; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (I LOVE Worcestershire sauce...I believe I would drink Worcestershire soda if it existed); 1/2 tsp. thyme; 1/2 tsp. mustard; and freshly ground pepper. Let stand for 30 minutes. Bake for 1 hour in a pan of hot water.
10) I never use the exact quantities above. Sometimes I use three different kinds of cheese, sometimes just one. Sometimes more mustard, sometimes less...

True Story #3: Yesterday, I found myself wandering aimlessly about in Home Depot. This can be dangerous fun, because one can sometimes wander into the path of tooting trolleys loaded with burly men hovering over large volumes of lumber. Of course, when I say "One can sometimes wander," I mean "I always wander." Once there, I freeze--hypnotized by the slow, majestic advance of the tooting trolley, its flashing warning lights, and the worried eyes of the large men-- and I start to slowly dance...I'm going right now, no...I should go left and hide in hardware, no, they're slowly veering left, so I'll...I look like a small, deranged dancing bear. This is really more dangerous than fun and kinda mortifying.

So, to flee the tooting trolleys, I ambled into the Garden Center and started smelling all of the flowers. This made me look more purposeful, yet also a little insane. Still, it was a lovely day, and I sniffed daintily along through the rows--a little hyacinth here, a little rosebud there, trying to figure out what I am going to put in my four new windowboxes--until I realized that I was absent-mindedly singing along with "Wonderwall" by Oasis which was booming out overhead from the store music system. Okay. I wasn't just SINGING. I was kind of poutily crooning in a save-me-I'm-a-misunderstood-unibrowed-Brit-bad-boy-rocker-from Manchester-England-by-way-of-New-Hampshire-USA accent, "Bee-cawz MY-bee...ya gonna be the one to SYVE meeee..." And suddenly, emerging from the heart of a thicket of potted arborvitae, I heard a kinda pouty-sounding deep bass voice singing in a kinda save-me-I'm-a-misunderstood-unibrowed-Brit-bad-boy-rocker-from-Manchester-England-by-way-of-Rhode-Island-USA accent "...And aftah AW-uhl yer my wondAH-WAWHL-uhl-uhl..." And other little pockets of people began to pop out all around me--behind that rack of heather, hunkered down by the potting soil--all of us softly singing in pouty-sounding fake British accents. Let it be known that very few of us--myself included--actually knew the lyrics, and we relied on a blend of the fake British accents and humming to see us through. It was a kind of swiftly-moving magic, really. Then the song ended, the moment was past us, and we all scattered off--some of us looking purposeful, some--who might not or might have been me--looking glazed and sporting a fine dusting of pollen on the ends of our noses.

True Story #4: Whatever gets you through the night...it's all right, it's all right!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

So, I'm itching to take a big old trip somewhere and have been for awhile. It's on the horizon (where? I don't know yet). But, until then I'm looking at a few mementos from here and there.

Kentucky was the first place I ever flew to--to visit a friend who was in acting school. There was some mechanical malfunction and the airline put me up in a hotel, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. "Malfunction?" said I, "BRING it!" This pep squad cheer is from a different friend from Kentucky. I used to work with her, and I often begged her to do this cheer when things got grim. When she left, she gave me a copy.
San Francisco! I took the train from Boston to Oakland, CA and then traveled around northern California. Did you know that passenger trains have to yield to freight trains? They pull over and wait for the freight trains to pass. Sometimes, the freight trains turn out to be a rumor. The retired music teacher/Korean war vet who sat next to me for one leg of the journey had a timetable, and he loved to keep track of how far off schedule we were. He also told me all about being a cook in the army and making mayonnaise in giant quantities. I believe he said he used a cement mixer like machine.New York! I saw a great play with Nathan Lane there: "The Man Who Came to Dinner." Very, very funny.Miami, Florida! This is a great restaurant. The waitresses all have little handkerchiefs pinned to their crisp uniforms, and they are ninjas of service efficiency. Zzzzzzunk! They put pickles and bread RIGHT on the table the second your fanny hits the chair.
Ahhhh! Las Vegas! This is from the Liberace Museum. I was deeply disappointed with the gift shop--hoping to pick up some little rhinestone earrings shaped like pianos or candelabras and whatnot--but I did pick up this postcard. Enjoy the recipe on the back, and goodness gracious I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

DEAR MRS. BLACKSTONE...

Dear Mrs. Blackstone,

I just found a note from you to my mom. While you sent this note many years ago, I have a few points that I would like to follow up on at this time.
First, Mrs. Blackstone, can you explain your comment that “She has shown much growth in her social skills”? Are you implying that much growth was desperately necessary? I don’t remember being a savage wolf-girl—there was just that one time when I growled out a warning when a kid got too close to my animal crackers. If anything, I was a bit of a tot-zombie. The class photo shows me with all of my hair scraped up on top of my head, a look of frozen horror, and dead, dead eyes that say, “I have 12 more years of this?” That must be it. So, I guess I became less of a tot-zombie on your watch? Well, thank you.

Yet, what of the following line: “…and of course, her academic achievement was a challenge to me.” At first glance, I thought this was a rather nice tribute to my massive, five-year-old brain and highly-praised precision cutting skills (even with those regrettably blunt scissors you provided). On second thought, however, I have the feeling that you were teaching me the gentle art of sarcasm with that comment and meant it as, “She is dumb as a rock and stretches my ability to impart knowledge to the very limit.” If this is the case, Mrs. Blackstone, I would like to meet with you and “conference” about this point. As you might recall, I spent a lot of the year being “your little helper” and reading to other little kids—freeing you to go read your copy of Our Bodies, Our Selves and smoke in the bathroom. Ah, yes. You remember that now? Yet, you did not include that fact in your note to my mother? An understandable oversight, I am sure.

But, let’s just parking lot all of that for the moment and move on to the big picture, shall we? Here is my kindergarten report card.
You recognize it, do you not? It is the first in the long series of documentation that reduces us all to a little series of checkmarks and boxes filled in with a #2 pencil (birth certificates, doctor’s charts, report cards, SATs, GREs, job applications, performance reviews, insurance company forms, credit card companies, death certificates). To cut to the chase, with your little checkmarks, were you pretty much saying that I was a sweet little neurotic—somewhat insecure, occasionally unhappy? Couldn’t you have put really BIG checkmarks for the “No crying and no tantrums and no trying to get attention” part? Because I feel these low-maintenance qualities are very attractive in a kindergartner and on the second page of the form you really bring out some scathing critiques of my performance that might appear to outweigh the low-maintenance stuff.
For example, you say that I showed evidence of inattention and poor hearing (maybe I was bored because you were in the bathroom smoking so much)? I had “average” control of hand and finger movements (how can this be—you always praised my coloring and cutting so very highly)? I had difficulty following directions accurately (maybe it would have helped if you hadn’t been calling out the directions from the bathroom, where you were smoking)? I showed “occasional evidence” of logical thinking (okay, you got me there)?

Oh, oh hold your horses, Mrs. Blackstone. WAIT! My academic achievement was “excellent”? Oh. Okay.

So, Mrs. Blackstone. Did I ever tell you that you were my favorite teacher? Thank you for your time. (Forget what I said about the smoking in the bathroom thing. I'm sure we were all very difficult.)

Sincerely,
Sparkle Plenty

P.S. Remember that little snowman candle I gave you for Christmas? I picked it out myself!