Tag Archive | photos

I never inhaled – honest!

TIME AND OTHER NONSENSE
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Sometimes you gotta share the truth, even when it’s embarrassing as all hell. Remember back in the late 60s and early 70s when everyone of a certain age was smoking? And I don’t mean tobacco. I mean pot. Grass. Weed. Whatever you called it, virtually everyone was doing the stuff. Rolling joints, passing the stash. Experiencing mellow, and the hungry horrors. Man, that weed was groovy. Laid back and cool.

Everyone but me. To this day, it is literally impossible for me to chill. I am the most uptight chick on the planet. Back then, I really was trying to get high. It’s not that I didn’t try. I mean, I tried to dig that scene as much as anyone. But the truth was, I couldn’t inhale. I could not force my lungs to breathe in that grey smoke, that foreign material that might as well have been composed of neon red lights screaming: STOP! DO NOT PASS GO! DO NOT COLLECT $200!

So now you understand why I wasn’t, shall we say, the most popular girl in town. In fact, I had to be one of the most lame, nerdy, geeky kids in school. They didn’t use those terms then. Those are 80s, 90s, and new millennium words. What were the words? Uncool. Uptight. Weird. One of the smart kids – social death for a girl. Okay, and for purposes of full disclosure, I was a theater kid too. I could emote. I could debate. I looked ahead and tried to ignore the eye rolls and snickers behind my back as I dressed like a hippie but somehow never pulled off the look. A virgin in the days of the sexual revolution, scared to death of any contact with a male creature. A girl who didn’t go out in the woods to party, to drink and get smashed or laid. A complete social flop.

While I’m admitting to my teenage indiscretions, I’ll skip to my late 50s and say that it was only a few years ago that I first and ever rode in a limousine. Nowadays, people hire limos for 12 year old birthday parties, for crying out loud! Girls have ridden in limos six times by the time they are sixteen! But somehow, that doesn’t seem quite so bad because my 60s hide an even worse secret…

Here is the embarrassing thing I want to admit today. Last week was the first time ever – ever! – that I had a manicure in a salon. My daughter was in town and she wanted to treat me to a facial or a massage, neither of which I have ever experienced before. But I couldn’t bear either one. The manicure seemed the most mild, the least invasive of all the choices. The most true to my body, to those lungs that couldn’t inhale, to that girl who was too uptight to get high, and who never got her groove on.

I chose Bora Not So Boring Pink nail polish. An all-dolled-up 57 year old woman who was probably a Victoria’s Secret model only last year scrubbed my hands, arms, and nails and chattered nonstop while I realized just how short, plain and overweight I really am. I’m a senior citizen with wrinkles! It was like being in middle school again. But I have to admit, she was quite nice and didn’t mention my frumpiness. She acted like my new BFF! She pretended my nails weren’t so ugly as I imagined them to be, and she polished them till they gleamed with Bora Not So Boring Pink.

I spent a few days staring at my newly pretty hands. And attended a wedding where not one person even mentioned my nails. What’s with that? Now the polish is beginning to wear off at the tips, and I am returning to my real self. The one who never inhaled because her lungs refused to allow foreign objects to invade. The one who went to proms in the back of Dad’s old car. The one who was afraid to walk into an upscale day spa just down the street. So uncool, chipping nail polish is. Reminds me of my high school days. Maybe next week, once the blisters on my over-danced wedding feet heal, I’ll walk back and ask for a touch up. We’ll see. I don’t know. Will think about it.

Cracked in Half

AS SPIRITUAL AS I GET

I am nutty, meaty
split in two
half hard hat shell
half kernel of truth

split down a middle
only I can see
wishing nuts wouldn’t fall apart
so easily

wanting to repair the seam
wishing for a cleaner being
begging for a softer shell
finding love the truth to tell

prepared to join together the whole
full attachment, that’s the goal
no more half that, half this
soul unites in coupled bliss

 

Crocus Jackpot

MOTHER NATURE

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That first crocus of the season – what can make you feel like a million bucks more than spying that first fresh flower of early spring? Maybe winning the lottery for actual millions of bucks would be better, but honestly, today I feel as though I’ve hit the jackpot.

Why? Well, I was walking out in the cold this late morning, after a nor’easter of a storm yesterday. No, not for daily exercise. That would be nice but if I’m being honest, I’ll admit I haven’t done much walking since my ankle-turning trip to San Francisco’s hills a few weeks back. No, I was simply collecting my mail from the mailbox by the road. I was favoring my left ankle a bit, giving it some room to breathe and stretch and find its way back to the flat sandy coast of Massachusetts. To even ground. Maybe I was looking more carefully for the inevitable dips and bends in the pavement that can catch a person unaware and send her flying.

So maybe I wouldn’t have seen it at all if not for my slightly worn foot. Maybe I’d have been absorbed in all the junk mail and looking for that surprise million dollar check from Publishers Clearing if not for the ache in my ankle. I guess those hills gave me a workout on purpose? Or maybe I’m just not meant to be the next winner of that prize if only I have the matching number? Who knows?

But in any case, I collected my mail and started back up the driveway, when I looked down and over to the shade of the arborvitae, past the snow bank and ice, into the lawn. Why I glanced that way, I couldn’t tell you, but I moved my eyes past my own bodily sphere, my own perceived interests.

And shock of shocks! There is was! A tiny little purple flower, cup-shaped, unfolding to catch the next rain. Green-y striped leaves bursting into the air like spears challenging the white stuff nearby. First out! Keep me down if you can! A daring, living, breathing entity that braved the storm. This bud reveled in life, taking the ultimate risk of survival, of growth, of desire to succeed. Freed itself from the frozen earth, as though anyone could do it. (All this confidence makes a crocus the loveliest of spring flowers.)

And you know what this makes me think? I think that from this desperate, spring-bound bud, I’ve hit the jackpot. It’s a crucible of understanding. Knowing that if a crocus can behave so courageously, so morally, so intentionally, then so can I.

If a bloom can find shelter in the icy cold and continue to blossom, certainly I can match this strength.

If a tiny purple and green flower can exhibit hope for the future of its existence, then surely, so can I discover my own hope.

Sore ankle or not, junk mail or a million dollar lottery ticket, no matter, I can do it. I can find my own reason for being.

And I promise to at least try to keep looking beyond myself for the secrets and wonders that make our world.

 

 

Little Bits from Past Travels

TRAVELS

 

 

 

A few years back, my sister and I experienced a wonderful two weeks touring Greece and Rome. We laughed, we drank, we ate, we saw many a splendid sight. It really was heaven. Our trip was not without its adventures, however. We both love to laugh, but there were those times, I’m afraid, when we were sorely tested. Here are a few of those moments.

Roma is a stranga place

Did you know that the railway unions are on strike in Rome, and therefore there are only 2 trains to Rome’s airport on a Saturday? A 9:22am and a 9:53am, then they are done for the day! Alternative is to take a taxi from wherever you are or a van at 55 euro ($100 bucks). If you get on the train without a ticket you get charged 100 euro ($150 bucks). The train going from the airport into Rome closes at 9pm. No trains into the city after that. So if your flight gets in later, or by chance AL ITALIA loses your luggage, there is literally no way to get out of the airport without taking a taxi. Better people than I (namely, my traveling companion, my older sister) have had to sleep on the airport floor until the next morning when the first train for Rome leaves for the city. My sister, who by the way has Multiple Sclerosis, didn’t need the experience of sleeping on the cold floor of AL ITALIA hell.

Score: Rome ONE, Venice ZERO

Okay, we missed our flight from Rome to Venice. I’m not whining because apparently it was our fault, but we don’t know how it happened. We arrived at our gate in Rome a full hour before our flight. Sat in the extremely crowded food court area, in eyesight of our gate, eating inedible fries. Loudspeaker shouted out constant news in Italian language, which neither of us understand, and besides, the noise level was blaringly high.

So half hour before our flight, we casually saunter over to the gate, where they tell us we’ve missed our flight! How can that be? we ask. We’ve been calling you and calling you, they say. This is not your gate, they say. The flight left from another gate. But…but…we looked at the board and it said this gate. Well, they changed it and we tried to call you but you didn’t answer. We held the plane for you! You made the plane late! But, we didn’t hear our names being called. Well, we called you several times, you made the plane late, and now you’ll have to take another flight to Venice. And since it was your fault, you idiots, you’ll have to pay all over again.

Well, can we get on this flight to Venice, which says it’s leaving in 45 minutes? No. You mean, there’s a plane going to Venice right here but you won’t let us on? No. Why not? Because your luggage won’t be on the same plane with you, and that would violate our policies. When is the next flight? Not until tomorrow, they reply. Where is our luggage? We pulled it off the flight, which made the plane late! You ruined our schedule! Well, how can we get our luggage? You’ll have to go to customer service. Where’s that? Down at the other end of the airport. But my sister has MS and she can’t walk that far. Not our problem. Can you put us up at the airport hotel? After all, my sister is a senior citizen with MS and we have nowhere to go. Not our problem. And her medications are in her suitcase and we don’t know where her suitcase is. And we didn’t miss the plane on purpose. We thought we were in the right place at the right time. Not our problem.

So we traipse back and forth, back and forth, up and down the corridors of the nightmare that is AL ITALIA, trying to find our luggage. After five (FIVE!) hours, we collect my bag. My sister’s is still nowhere in sight. Can’t take a 100 euro taxi into Rome to find a hotel, because we can’t leave without her bag. We don’t buy more plane tickets to Venice, the prices are astronomical and besides, why are they charging us again when they’ve clearly lost our luggage? Not to mention the Gestapo-like security officers and insanely inept customer service staff. (That’s another story in itself.) Airport closes down for the night and we have no choice but to sleep on the cold, cold stone floor of the airport. We build a barricade with the one suitcase and our various belongings, pull t-shirts and other clothes out of my bag to serve as mats and blankets, and settle in for the night. Sister is exhausted and falls asleep without trouble. I lie with my purse underneath me and an eye open, scanning for thieves and rapists. Desperately plotting my revenge on the airline from hell.

Where is Athena when you need her?

Second excellent way to get robbed, Athens style. This is a true story, happened to my sister on the very first day of our trip. She lost 300 euro, $450 approx, plus her wallet, credit cards, driver’s license. Thus we spent much of that night on the phone with the credit card company and the next day searching for the Athens police station to report the crime. Because it’s so difficult to locate addresses written in Greek, this takes most of a day out of our precious vacation. The police were nice enough but basically shrugged. What can you do? It’s these Gypsies. The Greeks would never do this to American tourists. It’s the Gypsies, I tell you. A few days later, we were buying trinkets in a gift shop, told the Athens store keeper about our being pick pocketed. She shrugged. Eh, whoever robbed you probably needed the money more than you do. Looked my sister right in the eye and basically says you deserved it. My sister says, uh, what? Pushes all her little conservative capitalist buttons, for sure. Hahaha! Ah, nothing like travel!

 

 

Perfection, thy name is Apple

CALMLY RANDOM

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I’ve decided that an apple is the perfect food. Why, you might ask?

1. It’s round, and I identify with that.
2. It’s sweet, and no matter how much we’re told that sugar is evil, we all like it and it makes our lives happier.
3. It’s crunchy: my teeth, gums, jaws, and esophagus are all getting a great workout, which I count as my exercise for the day.
4. There is a star in the middle if you cut it in the right way, no doubt the universe confirming what I already know about myself, dahling.
5. Everyone has a favorite apple. A totally scientific study I just conducted did not come up with even one negative answer stating s/he doesn’t have a favorite because s/he hates them all. Given it’s the internet, I was expecting just such an answer (you $@&””ing !!/@! you must be working for the apple lobby!!!!) Nothing even close to that was stated. Honest.
6. You can take an apple with you when the mobs start chasing you down with torches and pitch forks. Totally mobile and easy to cling to.
7. I like the color red.
8. Teachers like them, and who doesn’t like teachers?

That might be it. Signing out. Crunch. Swallow. 🍎

 

 

Home Sweet Kitchen

CALMLY RANDOM

My fiancée and I recently bought a coastal farmhouse built in 1901. The house is spacious with high ceilings, hardwood floors, and elegant woodwork. The property was love at first sight for both of us.

But I hated the kitchen! Cramped and crowded into one small portion of a large space, the kitchen had dark brown cherry cabinets on one side and mismatched glossy white utilitarian cabinets on the mud room side. It was a visual disaster. To make things worse, a kitchen peninsula was set diagonally into the room at a height that was substantially lower than standard. The peninsula blocked light from the beautiful windows over the sink. It cut the room into sections, visually and literally. There was nothing in the kitchen that honored the 1901 house. It was as though a 1990s oddly placed but upscale suburban kitchen had come for a very long visit.

I asked my friends and sisters for advice on how to fix this disaster. Most said to live with it the way it was. Several thought the dark cabinets looked good enough. Everyone said I was being too picky. Of course I didn’t listen to them. What else is new? I have a strong sense of style and knew I had to fix the problem or I’d never enjoy my kitchen. So I asked my son the architect for advice. His pay for services rendered was a pizza dinner.

He immediately suggested that the diagonal sun-blocking peninsula had to go. We agreed, but I needed the cabinet space that it provided. He recommended an alternative: take the peninsula out, and build a new, straight, standard height peninsula at the corner where the kitchen door leads to the dining room. He felt this would open up and extend the kitchen into unused space. Furthermore, by painting the entire room the same color, the kitchen would appear more integrated with the mud room side. He also suggested we install a small sink preparation unit into the peninsula.

It was a lot to think about. I realized we had been thinking of the kitchen as it was already defined; that is, crowded into one small part of the overall space. His idea to extend the kitchen visually by utilizing empty space was the inspiration for the eventual design. I didn’t use his specific idea for a peninsula. But the concept of opening up the space was freeing to me. It inspired us to build an island that fit perfectly into the extended space. We even used the same granite countertop and cabinets from the existing peninsula to craft the new island! We painted the entire room the same color, built new closet doors and painted every door and cabinet frame the same color, and installed all new hinges and door pulls. The result is a gorgeous kitchen that looks like it belongs in our beautiful house.

I’m proud that my son’s instinct and design skills helped us get the kitchen that I happily spend time in every day. If you’re looking for an architect to help you achieve the home of your dreams, email me on the ABOUT page, and I’ll pass your request on to him. I imagine, though, his fee will be a bit more than a pizza dinner!

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BEFORE: Old dark, congested kitchen

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AFTER: New kitchen is open and light-filled

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AFTER: New kitchen with island

 

At the Narrows

AS SPIRITUAL AS I GET

At the narrowsTwas at the narrows where my life truly began. That tricky, tortured, desperate spot, that rushing water place where I was bloodily birthed. Where I took my first sustained breath.

Yes, I lived before. I breathed the gas known as air. Been pulled screaming from age to age. Reincarnated over and again, racing pell mell through time. One thing, then the next to hollow me out, scrape me to my core, fill my lungs with junk and sleeze and porn and sadness. And occasional beauty but of the unreal kind.

This time started no different. Who am I to expect anything better? The narrows is an untrusting place where destiny can turn in an instant. A simple disinterested look, better things to do, a glance of rejection will change your course. Self loathing. I should have known. This is no place for me. It is too dangerous, I can’t navigate these choppy waters, this shifting canal. How naïve, how foolish I am to think I can conquer this wild turbulent slide.

I watched in disbelief, feeling my soul rise up and look down on the carnage. There I lay, open, waiting with innocence for transportation to the next realm. Expecting to be welcomed, presuming safe passage. Believing the narrows wanted me. How could that dark exotic place not desire the thrill of my company? Unthinkable. And yet, this portal of trepidation was silent. It craved me not. I might have stayed in the womb forever for all the narrows cared about my deliverance. I sat stunned, unwanted, wishing my next life away. Hoping for death, for miscarriage. Just let me go home. Please, just let me go home.

But as I prepared to slit my throat and drive back to the safety of the static never-changing pool, a miracle of creation occurred. The narrows widened, just slightly. It heaved. It pulled with new found muscles, pushed its cilia and swallowed. Through the treachery, past the vast ocean of regrets, down the cascade of tired resignation and frightened insecurity. Waving me back and forth, inching me along, allowing me finally through.

And I was born once more, this time. Into a revel of love. A journey of joy. First breath.