Foxy Mama's Blog

Stories, musings and ramblings from the front porch. Pull up a rocking chair and sit for a spell...


Saturday, August 28, 2004

The ‘bunch’ at brunch, aye carrumba!…

We “do” brunch, the sonnies and I. Every week. It has become quite the family tradition… Yesterday we had Dear Husband with us since he was on vacation this week. It was fun and we were so durned polite we even waited for one of us to stop talking before another one started. That was different. Usually we all just start talking at once and only by accident do we actually manage to corral the conversation. The whole world is coming apart around us and yet this family, this day, was as peaceful as a city park full of flower children in the 60’s… Who were these people posing as us, I wonder?

Dear Husband and I had a terrible time getting up yesterday morning due to extreme loss of sleep since we didn’t succumb to the sandman until 4:30 AM. But we’d have had trouble getting up even if we’d slept for 18 hours. Since we were late for our assignation with the sonnys, we were prepared to be soundly chastised by “those who’ve been chastised” before…by us, but we needn’t have worried. In the best family tradition, the sonnys were running late too. We’re a close family…we all sleepwalk and sleeptalk like pros, and we’re all subject to drooping in chairs like unwatered ferns in a drought too.

Without any prior discussion on our part, the family car headed itself in the right direction to our favorite purveyor of delicious omelettes and other gustatory delights. So regularly do we brunch there the car operates on autopilot. We all carefully and exhaustively scrutinized the menu as usual, and then we proceeded to order the same thing we did the week before and the week before that and... This time the waitress told me what I was having. She was right too.

There was only one thing wrong with this picture of ‘brunchatory’ paradise yesterday… It was the thoroughly pickled and ‘smoked’ brother-in-law who materialized at our table! He just happens to be a chef there and we studiously avoid remembering that when at all possible. He’s not usually there on our brunch days, as least as far as we know. Literally not there... And figuratively too, I suppose.

He didn’t look at all good. He didn’t smell so good either. One thing he has working for him though. When he dies they won’t have to waste precious chemicals to embalm him…the job is already pretty much finished. I’m happy to say that with a modicum of semi-ignoring type tactics, he de-materialized again. And we all prayed it wasn’t to the kitchen that he was headed… It isn’t that he’s a bad guy. More that he isn’t…

Not so long ago, when the sonnys and I sat down to commence our routine brunching rituals we had an unusal experience. I espied a familiar looking fellow just across the aisle who looked a lot like my brother but I wasn’t sure, even though he was less than 6 feet away. The guy didn’t look up, he was totally in his own world, which is part of what made me think it was my brother and he appeared to be doing some sort of complicated computation (another clue to him being my brother).

He is a quiet, reserved, nerdy type of fellow, my brother…extremely fit and active though, and an optical engineer also skilled in laser technology. In fact, right now he’s involved in working on the optics of the Mars rover…

You might ask how it is that I can’t even recognize my own brother… But older sonny, who had him in his direct line of sight, couldn’t be sure either. You see, my brother doesn’t always look like himself. Sometimes he looks more like one or the other of his two best friends…who often look more like him. I’m not kidding. I’ll see one of them walking along somewhere and I’m positive it’s Dear Brother. They look so much alike, I’m now considering adding them as brothers too. Why not? I can’t lose. They’re beyond the stage of pinching, hitting or kicking and, I would no longer have to worry about identification… I could just say “hey, there’s my brother(!)” and I'd be right.

The sonnys and I had quite a bit of discussion about whether it was, in fact, him…or not…and…whether we should say something to him, if it was... We didn’t want to bother him since he was so ‘involved’ in whatever he was doing and it wouldn’t have been fair to distract him. If it was even him! This was probably one of the weirdest experiences I can confess to. I mean, I was 6 feet from the guy and I still couldn’t be sure if it was my own brother!

The waitress was the one who finally resolved the dilemma. When she brought a refill for his coffee, he looked up and there was no mistaking him anymore. It was my beloved brother, and uncle of my sonnys. I called to him, he did a double-take, moved immediately over to our table and we all enjoyed chow and conversation and a resolution to what had been developing into a major mystery (for us).

Summer is almost over and soon the church my parental units belong to will be having gigantic brunches every other month, and where the sonnys’ friends, their wives and roommates and older sonny will usually meet up with us for exciting mega-brunching. It’s always fun to get together with all “the kids.” Or almost all. The only one usually missing is younger sonny, he of the Retail Blog He will be toiling away while we revel, since he is a captive of retail hell on Sundays. Poor fellow. And sports that we are, we always feel obliged to fill him in on what he missed. Those are probably the days his blog entry displays an extra measure of animus.

But there’s always the weekly brunch to help salve his enmity… After all, I pay!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The little jellybean that couldn't...

I have always heard that “good things come to him(or her) who waits.” Sometimes that’s true (usually not). But this time it was…

This past Easter-time, Williams-Sonoma had some super-duper looking jelly beans for sale in their beautiful catalog, in 2lb. bags. There were four flavors…key lime, tangarine, lemon and pink grapefruit. Yum! But the price?! Gadzooks, you’d have to knock over a bank to be able to order those jellybeans… They were special made, somehow. I don’t remember what made them special, but after looking at the price, I knew they were special! Oh yes, they were…

I wanted those jellybeans. I really did. And somehow, I was going to have them, too. The dilemma was…the price. Two or three times I went online and filled out the cyber order form and then, just short of committing, I remembered who I was, and more importantly, how much money I didn’t have…so I deleted the form. It didn’t prevent me from thinking of ‘a them j’beans though. Yes, indeedy.

So I waited. Bided my time. Tried not to think of those 4 wonderful flavors of special confection-ry. Tried to forget the danged things and the missed opportunities for getting them. Oh well. Really, I shouldn’t be eating jellybeans anyway. Calories, don’t’cha know… Bad for the teeth for sure… Hadn’t I lectured the sonnys for years about things like this?

And then one day… A new Williams-Sonoma catalog arrived in the mail. Easter had been over for some time by then. And…in the ‘reduced for sale’ section of the catalog…my jellybean dream in the four-flavor, 2 lb. bag at half price! Whoopee! Although still not really what you’d call affordable, they were half price and at half price, getting within the realm of affordability. I wasn’t waiting any more.

The jelly bean frenzy was upon me and the time of rewarding my enduring patience was becoming more of a reality by the minute. I sat down, drew a deep breath, plucked my credit card from my dog-eared wallet and once again filled out the convenient online ordering form. To maximize the practicality of the set shipping fee, I ordered some other stuff too. The commitment was now engraved in virtual stone. The jelly beans, 4 pounds of ‘em (two 2 lb. bags for the price of one, not sooo bad), were almost mine. I began to drool…

Within a surprisingly short time I was tearing the newly delivered shipment apart and packing materials were going everywhere. Ah, gawd, they were beautiful. A 2 lb. bag of jelly beans is nicely hefty and two bags were heaven itself. Some people lift weights at the gym, I lift bags of jellybeans. They tasted good too…just the thing to ‘pop’ while reading, typing, rubber stamping…you name it. No mess. The only two problems being a really good hiding place and a good upset stomach remedy close at hand.

Within a short time after breaking into the second bag (I was a good girl and even gave some away…), a new Williams-Sonoma catalog came along. Hah…reduced in price again! Surely the gods are beaming on me… So I ordered another two 2 lb. bags of the gul-dang-est tastiest jellybeans to be consumed by me in at least the past 3 months.

I still have about 1/2 of a bag left. It won’t last long now and to tell you the truth, I’m getting kinda sick of jellybeans. Good thing too, Williams-Sonoma seem to be out of jellybeans. I haven’t seen any mention of them in the last two sales notifications I’ve received. The only trouble is…I dropped one of those little buggers a bit ago…and I just found it…squashed and adhering to one of the casters on my office chair. Boy, I hate jellybeans!

Saturday, August 21, 2004

It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring...

Pouring it is!! The heavens have opened to weep copiously over our little city and the gutters are running like an inflamed nose in winter.

It’s dear husband’s and my 22nd wedding anniversary today. Twenty-two wonderful years with my best friend, lover and cohort in laughter. They said it wouldn’t last. They said it wouldn’t come about to begin with… THEY are nuts! I promised him he’d never be bored. He says he has never been bored. I sure haven’t been bored. It’s good. It’s right. We’re looking forward to the next twenty-two years.

But I sure hope it stops damn raining… Dear husband is in the attic right now, checking for leaks. None! That’s good…this time last year we were under siege of a mega-spensive roofing job, with a re-pointing of the chimney, and painting under the peeling eaves. It all looks beautiful now. It ought to!! We probably set ourselves back financially for the rest of our earthly days.

But I still wish it would stop raining on our anniversary parade

I’ll keep him…this dear husband…but I wish he’d stop snoring. It’s like sleeping with a foghorn! He looks so cherubic lying there sound asleep…but he sounds like a tornado roaring his way through the bedroom and beyond. And he falls asleep almost immediately… He says that “the pure of heart rest easy.” His dad told him that. His dad was even louder. His dad was the stuff of legends...

I haven’t been getting much sleep lately. I suppose it’s not the worst thing that could happen. After all, I’m getting older and time is at a premium now. I’ll catch up when I succumb to “the big sleep.” But I’m still quite a ways from the big sleep. I did have some scary nasty chest pains last night…but I’m not ready for that stuff so I said “be gone” and it did finally. Might have been that pizza…

I figure it’s a test of my love to brave the storm in my bed nightly. I figure it proves that I’m not deaf yet. I figure it proves my fortitude… Maybe it’ll win me some karma points… Okay, I admit it… I have no choice. I’m currently in the process of trying to convince myself that it’s some primitive means of love talk. I’m failing this exercise miserably and the bags under my eyes have been packed and ready to go for a long time. But the rest of me is not budging, no sirree… I do love this guy (and besides he tells me that I can saw some pretty good wood too)! Who? Me? Noooooo….

The dog snores too. He sleeps on the floor beside my side of the bed. He may be deaf but he is not mute. Sometimes we get a stereo thing going on at night. Sigh… And anyway, snoring is not as bad as the other thing. You know, the olfactory attack thing. And I, sweetness and innocence that I am, am trapped between these two beasts.

It’s still raining outside. It’s still our 22nd going ‘til forever, anniversary. There’s sunshine in this house…

Thursday, August 19, 2004

To laugh or not to laugh, that is the question…

I was idling at the traffic light at the mother of all intersections (at least in our little corner of the world), waiting to accomplish a left turn while donating my allotment of hydrocarbons to the already befouled air of our little city and getting older by the minute, when a minivan pulled forward in the lane beside mine and changed the tenor of my day. On the rear hatchback was a largish sticker which read: “I’m marching to a different accordian.” I couldn’t control myself. I laughed out loud, somewhat altering the mental state of the drivers around me.

Did I mention that I live in a city of grimacers? These people are really repressed. The quickest way to a little personal space around here is to publicly laugh out loud about something you find humorous. It took me a little while to figure this out but now that I know, I’ve become a laughing fool. Okay, I’m lying. A little… It’s just that life is so darned funny…know what I mean? Dear husband and I laugh often. We don’t seem to ‘do’ crying very well. But laughing we’re experts at…

Our best laughter comes from watching the “Reduced Shakespeare Theater’s Complete works of William Shakespeare in an hour and a half.” We dose ourselves and anyone else we can grab regularly. We have introduced at least a dozen folks to RST in the past 8 months and we’re still going… Need laughter? Get RST’s tape or DVD from your favorite rental emporium or better yet, just buy it. You’re going to anyway after you see it… Even Her Sweetness has fallen under it’s spell and she and dad are the world’s toughest audience. Don’t worry about the Shakespeare part…believe me, it doesn’t matter. This isn’t your father’s Shakespeare! But it is the funniest thing you’ll see for a long time. The two Uncs got copies for Christmas from Her Sweetness. Believe me, she’s not cerebral…so don’t hesitate for an instant…get laughter.

The sonnys don’t care to sit too close to me at a movie theater because I enjoy myself so thoroughly. One hazy, hot and horribly humid summer day some years ago, younger sonny’s friend came over with a videotape of a movie he’d taped off Home Box the night before. The guys even invited me to watch it with them, so what the heck…nothing else going on, I did. It was too hot to move anyway. It was a horror flick. That’s what they said it was. Oh well…

It was funny!! It was “Evil Dead II.” I sat on the couch and laughed my head off. In fact, I laughed so hard I got an asthma attack. An all-out choking, wheezing asthma attack. And I fell off the couch! (I fell off a pulpit one time too, but that’s another story for another time…and I wasn’t laughing at the time either.) Anyway, I fell off the couch…I was laughing so hard it was hard for me to stay on the couch. I mean…that’s one funny horror-ible movie! Ever seen it? Oh, do..! When the flick was over, sonny’s friend said “I’m glad I brought that over to watch, but I enjoyed watching your mother more.” Well, there goes dignity out the window…

We determined that dear husband had to see this film too. He’d enjoy it.. So, after dinner we again sat down and watched “Evil Dead II” and once again I laughed so hard I got an all-out choking, wheezing asthma attack (and I had only just recovered from the first one) and almost fell off the couch for a second time that day. Dear husband enjoyed the film too but he didn’t have an asthma attack and he managed to stay firmly planted on that pesky couch. Lucky him!

Anyway, they say laughter is good for you. It’s supposed to be good for your health. I haven’t seen anything about laughter-induced asthma but I have seen a recent article in the paper about the benefits of laughing. Okay, I’ll go along with that. But I won’t pay you for the privilege! I mean…I read this thing and it sucked all the laughter out’ta me.

There’s a dude out there who is actually making money from telling people that ‘laughter is good for you.’ Yeah, really… According to the Associated Press reporter, Jay Lindsay, a guy by the name of Sushil Bhatia gets hired by businessess to give talks about and demonstrations(!) of …laughter. Boy, people must be really hurting out there if they have to be shown how to laugh. Yeesh! Bhatia says that “Laughing really matters. It relieves the tension and the stress.” No kidding, Sherlock..! I knew that for free!

So the article goes on to say that “laughter therapy is the path to good mental health and innovative thinking. Laughing provides an internal massage to the body while clearing the mind” according to Bhatia. Okay, so tell me something new and different…

This dude, Bhatia, leads laughter clubs(!) and he charges a corporate rate of $6,000 per day or $100 per private 45 minute session, with a minimum of five sessions. The article says “He forbids jokes during his sessions, explaining that the quality of the jokes tend to drcrease until no one’s laughing anymore.” Well, suddenly I’m not laughing anymore. The article goes on to talk about the healthy benefits of laughter, including weight loss and disease fighting. Let me tell ya, I laugh all the time and I don’t lose weight, I just keep gaining it. Gee, maybe I ought to re-mortgage the house and join a laughter club…d’ya think?

The article goes on to say that “different types of laughter have distinct benefits: A hearty laugh exercises the lungs, chest and stomach, Bhatia said. Meek laughter, a hearty laugh with a closed mouth and minimal sound, benefits the intestines. Humming laughter with lips closed exercises the lungs and abdominal muscles, he said.” Well, there you go, I probably didn’t laugh right…that’s why I gained instead of losing weight.

Darn. Now I’m depressed. I might never laugh again

Thursday, August 12, 2004

"Papa's got a brand new bag" but Mama's got a brand new blog

It’s the dog days of summer, although to be honest, I’m not sure of the precise calendar designation of the ‘dog days,’ other than they’re in August. I hate August. In fact, I pretty much despise summer. ‘Her Sweetness’ told me I should never mention this in ‘polite society’ because people will think I’m nuts. Heck, anyone who knows me already has a pretty good handle on that. I’ve found a small legion of folks out there, though, who agree with me on this. Not the ‘nuts’ part, but the ‘down with summer’ part.

Willis Haviland Carrier is my personal god. What a guy! If it wasn’t for Willis’most wonderful invention, I wouldn’t be sitting here typing. I’d be lying on the floor next to the dog, panting away and complaining loudly into his ear. He doesn’t care, this dog…he’s deaf. Really!

I used to weather the summer by hitting the 20 x 50 foot pool in Her Sweetness’ back yard as often as possible or going to the glorious Jersey shore, along with the ‘sonnys,’but that was about twenty years and 50 pounds ago. Right at the moment I wouldn’t appear in a bathing suit even if I was the only one home. No sirree!

So that leaves me with Dr. Carrier’s marvelous invention (3 of ‘em in fact…there were 4, but younger sonny has appropriated one for his own abode) and I genuflect regularly. Older sonny is the proud owner of his own contraption. From all accounts Willis Carrier was reported to be a stellar person…very nice, intelligent and industrious…and it can be said that he truly made life worth living for most of us. Dear Chemist Husband likes him because he was a scentist and liked to figure things out and make swell inventions. You may know him by his foremost contribution, the air conditioner. But he was responsible for far more than that. It started with the air conditioner though…

Well, actually, it started with a frustrated printer in Brooklyn, in 1902. Humidity and temperature variations kept messing up his color print reproductions and ruined his print runs, which made him lose his ‘cool.’ Enter our hero..! Although he couldn’t do anything about the nature of the paper (maybe he could, but he didn’t), he certainly did do something about controlling the environmental conditions in the printer’s factory. Must have been because he was an engineer. Do ya s’pose? They called him ‘The Chief.’

Another victory was over wet noodles. That’s right. A disgruntled pasta maker declared war on the moisture in his noodles because they wouldn’t dry out properly so he called in The Chief and said something like “what can you do wit dis a here pasta noodles what’s not a dryin’ like a it should?” (I don’t really know if he actually talked like that…) The rest was history. Now we’re all fat and complaining of ‘carbs.’ But you can’t blame Willis Carrier for that. He’s dead. He died in New York City in 1950, at 73. The pasta guy liked him though, and declared him a real winner.

For twenty years, air conditioning was used to cool machines and equipment, not people. He wasn’t the first person to discover ‘air conditioning’ but his invention of the ‘centrifugal chiller’ in 1921 was the first practical method of conditioning air in large spaces. Finally hotel and theater owners started calling on Dr. Carrier and one thing just led to another. Imagine going to a closed up theater in the summer to watch a 2-hour film. Pshew!

Dr. Carrier’s device has led to humungous supermarkets full of exotic fresh food, refrigerated trucks to haul it in, freezers to keep it in, habitable skyscrapers, comfortable hospitals, more efficient operating rooms and morgues (ugh!), climate controlled museums which protect fine art instead of contributing to its demise and lots of other industries which became possible and flourished, thanks to the inventiveness of one Willis Haviland Carrier.

Ole Willis was always thinking and hitting the books and kept on educating himself until his demise. He was married 3 times (twice a widower) and had 2 adopted children, neither of whom survive. I think he was wonderful. I wonder if I could be posthumously adopted by him. I know his birthday…it’s November 26th. We make it a day of celebration in our house. Some folks called him a genius. I believe that!

Well, excuse me…I have to go ‘chill out.’ That is, if I can get the dog to move away from 'the contraption.' Ciao, baby…

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The apartment! (No not the movie...)

Day after day, the litany went “you’re stupid, not normal, crazy…I can’t wait until you’re 18 and move out on your own!” Hah, you and me both I thought. And it can’t come soon enough to suit me. But I didn’t say that; not out loud anyway. I thought it though. In fact, I thought about it all the time.

It was a dream. Peace! Independence! No one constantly yelling at me, belittling me, accusing me, making me do her housework. I would do my own housework. I would cook for myself and upon occasion, for my friends too. I would keep the refrigerator door open as long as I wanted, leave the lights on as long as I wanted, keep my own bedtime schedule and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and flush, not having to worry about disturbing Her Sweetness’ sleep. And, I could go barefoot in the house as much as I wanted and not have to be chastised by “Her Sweetness” for leaving feet prints on the bare floors. I could keep the windows open an inch or even two during the night if I wanted and not have to hear about ‘letting all the heat out.’ Oh gosh, did I dream of all that…

Is that crazy? Perfectly normal, I should think… And I was almost 18… Ohboy! A life of freedom was almost at hand. The time was near. I’ll show her. I will prevail. I will prevail! I started searching the newspapers for rental notices. I had a little bit of money. I had an after school job in a travel agency. I had saved money from other jobs. I was always working somewhere…at an apple farm, a farm and produce store, an ice cream bar, wherever and whatever I could find. I was always questioning the Guidance Counselors and checking the bulletin board in the Guidance Office in high school for postings of temporary positions. I loved working! I had lots of experiences and I was working toward a serious goal…independence.

I constantly baby sat and would continue doing that because I loved kids and was very attached to my little ‘charges.’ I had been ‘sitting’ in one way or another since I was little more than 10 years old myself, starting with young cousins and working into a regular thriving business in my teens. Her Sweetness was saying ‘here’s your hat, what’s your hurry,’ while freedom and real life were beckoning. Soon now, real soon…

Finally, the day came to realize the dream. I was to graduate in June and my 18th birthday was April 7th. At 18 a young woman comes of legal age and can do as she pleases as long as she accepts the responsibility for it. My grandparents and my dear uncle with the same first name as mine were up visiting from Ohio. Unc and I always got along famously and we used to go for long rides and talk of everything under the sun. He was a keen guy (and still is!) I found a couple of ads for affordable apartments, one of which sounded like the model of perfection for me. I played hooky from school for a day, persuaded Unc to take me out looking and off we went… unbeknownst to Her Sweetness, my Dad (my stepdad actually), and my grandparents.

I don’t even remember if I saw any more than one apartment. After all, I saw ‘the’ apartment and signed on the dotted line, forked over my hard won cash and received the key to my new apartment!!! Ohboy-ohboy-ohboy… The landlord and his wife lived downstairs and she believed in the evil eye and had these eye stickers or something all over the place. So add intrigue and suspense to the package…

My apartment was up the outside stairs to a nice little porch overlooking the backyard, that I could sit out on and then through a door to a tiny sitting room, then a decent sized bedroom with a double bed…did I mention that the apartment was completely furnished with semi-decent furniture, a small kitchen and a nice size bathroom. Oh, it was heaven to a newly 18 year old woman who had dreamed of ‘her own place’ for so long. Boy, I couldn’t wait until Her Sweetness spoke the litany again…

I swore Unc to secrecy. He said he wasn’t going to say anything because he didn’t want to get in the middle of anything heavy and we agreed that mentioning it to mother, I mean Her Sweetness, while grandmother and grandad were there, would never do. And at that time of my life I hadn’t accepted my stepdad as DAD yet so I wasn’t going to tell him either.

Oh, I can tell you that key nearly ‘burned’ a hole in my pocket while I lovingly fondled it and waited for the big chance… I had to wait almost a week which was practically intolerable because I sat on the biggest news of the century for heaven’s sake! My own apartment, fully loaded too. I loved my grandparents dearly but it seemed that April as if they’d never leave. They did finally and then…

She said it…the magic litany of words which had been faithfully intoned for as long as I could remember. She said “you’re stupid, not normal, crazy…I can’t wait until you’re 18 and move out on your own!” Aha!! The time had finally come. The coup de grace. Whoopee! My big chance. The line of my life. I said “well, you won’t have to wait any longer because I’m moving out this weekend.” And I brandished my KEY…

“WHAT?! What’s that you say? You’re moving out! What do you mean you’re moving out?! When? Where? How? What are you saying?! You can’t do that…” She was clearly shocked, she hadn’t really expected me to follow through apparently.”

I am, I am moving out this weekend to my own apartment and it’s a wonderful apartment and I can hardly wait! You said you couldn’t wait until I was 18 and moved out…well, I’m now 18 and I’m going. You can come to visit me if you’d like but it’s my apartment.”

We went on like this for awhile and I told her where and what and how and all that. She wondered what I planned about school since I still had almost 2 months left before graduation. I’d walk, I told her. The apartment wasn’t that far from the high school (in Framingham)…after all, we were bussed over to Framingham from Sherborn where we lived anyway. “How will you pay the rent?” she asked. “I have my job after school, remember, and they’ve assured me it will become full-time right after graduation. And I’ll still babysit…”

“Oh…when can I see it? Is it nice? Ooooh, I’ll miss you…” Yeah, right.

So we went for a ‘look-see’ at the apartment and Her Sweetness oohed and ahed over the place. She had to admit it was a pretty nice little place…just right for me. A private entrance, nice little ‘sit-out-on’ porch, tiny cozy little sitting room, decent size bedroom, small but adequate eat-in kitchen, full bathroom. All furnished, clean and somewhat affordable, if I was very prudent. What more could a person want? Indeed…

As we sat at the kitchen table in an amiable truce, discussing the charms of this little place, Her Sweetness started looking around the kitchen and suddenly burst into hysterical laughter…something usually totally alien to this woman. “What?!” I asked. This was a very perplexing reaction, I must say. “Something’s missing,” she said. “Something very important! Look around very carefully” she said. “Think about coming in and cooking a meal and cleaning up after…” I did and suddenly I burst into hysterical laughter too. Something definitely was missing.

There were cupboards, a small 2-burner stove and oven, a small refrigerator, a tiny broom closet, dishes, pots and pans, a nice little table and 2 chairs. Oh…and a nice little window to let the light in. But…there was something missing! Can you figure out what it was?

There was NO kitchen sink!!! Just like in the old adage, “everything but the kitchen sink!”

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Yoo hoo, why aren't you home?

‘Knicknack, paddy whack, give a dog a bone...this ole man comes rolling home.’ Dust those knicknacks, give a mom a blog…this ole woman’s jumped in whole hog.

Here I am in the 21st century…with a blog yet! And there’s my mother, still hollering into the phone as if I am on the other tin can tethered to hers by a string. Sheesh. My answering machine beats me to the phone every time (by deliberate design, actually) and there’s good ole Mother yelling into my machine “yoo hoo, anybody home?” Literally. You think I jest? Au contraire, mon ami. She does! Holler into it, I mean. It behooves me to pick it up and end the assault, although my psyche says “no, don’t!”

So then I ask myself “self, do your kids cringe when you dial them up?” I don’t know. Gosh, I hope not. But then, how would I know? I don’t tell my mother… I have tried to tactfully suggest that I can hear her just fine but it doesn’t seem to penetrate. We can all only be thankful that this sweet l’il terror does not have, and in all probability, will never have a cell phone. Woe unto the kiljoy (and us too) who would take it upon his or herself to bless Mother’s life with a cell phone! She doesn’t need it, I tell you… As long as her voice holds out her volume will take care of the rest. Perhaps you too heard her this morning… “hello, hello, is anybody home? Yoo hoo!”

She can carry on like this for quite some time too. Then when she’s sure you’re not in the same state, she starts muttering things. Like “hmmmn, guess they’re not there…where could they be?..why aren’t they answering?” Do you know anybody like that? Hope not. You’d be surprised how much guilt can be conferred with such mutterings. How dare me for not being home? How could I be out having a life somewhere else?! Isn’t it my craven duty to be home sitting beside the phone waiting for her to call? Thank goodness she doesn’t call often. Actually, I think she is in the process of forgetting me. But I should be glad. As long as she has the telephone to mutter into, why does she need me for conversation?

Oh, don’t get me wrong. She’s a sweet ole thing (not!) but she’s got these annoying habits. I especially don’t want to call her when I’m feeling down or slightly dilapidated because for sure she’ll hammer the nails of my downer (coffin) in. But then, when I’m feeling great, I don’t want to call her because I don’t want to spoil a perfectly good mood. You need a strong psyche to talk with this maven…believe me!

For one thing she never feels well. I’ve personally known my mother for 59 years and for 59 years she’s been ailing and doesn’t ‘feel good today.’ “I’m just not feeling good today” has been her lifelong mantra. It has taken me a goodly number of those 59 years to learn to bite my tongue and not offer up “you never feel good, when have you ever felt good?” Nosirree…it may not always be the best life, but it’s the only life I’ve got and I’ve decided to hang on to it. Know what I mean?!

And she’s always tired! No, make that ‘exhausted.’ “I’m exhausted today” she intones. Well of course she is! She operates on 50,000 volts constantly. She makes me exhausted! Believe me, I’ve considered donning body armor before doing conversational battle with her. This is a woman who considers life a challenge. It doesn’t matter what I say or ask, she’ll challenge me. She’s not the decrepit one, for all her 78 years…I am! From dealing with her.

‘Her Sweetness’ sows seeds of hysteria just as a landscaper sows grass seed. She’s coming over for dinner tonight. Maybe I ought to pop a fistful of vitamin pills, just in case… Ordinary life for us is high drama for her. She sees conspiracies and dark plots in everything. I have fond (well, maybe not so fond) memories of her over the years, peeking out the windows and muttering to herself (no, she’s not insane, but she is highly dramatic) about the intentions and machinations of the darn neighbors, the cows grazing contentedly, the world in general. Why be at peace with the rest of the world when it’s so much niftier to assume that no one else has the same moral turpitude she has. Believe me, her turpitude is as ‘moral’ as it gets!

Now don’t you go thinking that I don’t love my mother! I do, but holy cow, she makes that as difficult as she possibly can. I told you she’s a ‘challenger.’ She makes me think of a steropticon. You know, those things you look through with both your eyes and it ends up creating one image… Mother is like that. Everyone else can offer up ideas and views, but it always ends up as one…hers! If your ideas aren’t hers, you’re wrong! In fact, not only are you wrong, there’s something wrong with you… Know what I mean?

Perhaps tomorrow, when your eyes have rested up, I’ll post a tale about getting my first apartment. Mother figures…uh…interestingly (!) in that one. Don’t get me wrong. I do love this contrary l’il bundle of nerves. I mean…she’s my mother! Without her, I’d be nothing. My mission in life is to somehow, someday be worthy of the expenditure of DNA material she alloted me, but not to submit to being a clone (although she’d prefer that). Whether I’ve succeeded or not is the sole verdict conferred upon me by my own kids and my husband. Ask them

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Bored yet?

So, are you bored yet? Well, ya ought’ta be… Here you are again, in my little corner of the plastic world. What does that say about us, I wonder, that we’re here communing in anonymous sympatico (now there’s an oxymoron) via a metal and plastic box? Do we lack an interesting life? Do we lack friends? Love? Recognition? What?!! Why are we ogling the detritus of each other’s lives with the avidity of ornithologists equipped with high-power binoculars, notebooks, pencils and bug spray?

Because it’s fun. That’s why! Right? We’ll probably even start to care about each other and worry about each other’s predicaments. That’s kind of nice, isn’t it? Why, yes, I think so… I mean, here we are, perfect strangers and yet we might come to communicate. It kind of warms the cockles of my atrophying little heart. It even gives me hope for the future of mankind. We’re proving that people still reach out and embrace each other. It’s just that we use different methods now. And I just realized that less than a dozen years ago it wasn’t even possible.

Whoa, now! How the heck did this happen? How the heck do I know? What the heck do I care? But I do. I do care that we have the means and the interest to continue this exercise. Maybe this is the modern day equivalent of soap operas. It’s just an idea. Good grief, don’t cringe, for heaven’s sake! Don’t pull away like that… Sit down and write a new page in your own ‘blog.’ I’m waiting anxiously. Let’s get this relationship moving along. The world is falling apart around us. We have to weave a net of comfort and try to hold it together. D’ya think..? Oh, alright…I’m bored, okay?

Actually, I’m not. I don’t quite understand the concept of boredom. There’s always something to do. Even if it’s only taking a minute to kick back and do a little thinking. Right now I’m sitting here writing. That’s something. All my life I’ve been driven by this powerful urge to vomit thoughts onto a page, but I seldom have. (Just ask all those relatives and friends of mine who’ve been waiting for a note for ages and ages!!)

Dear husband is making his way back from New Jersey right now, after a quick visit with his aged and ailing parents, type ‘A’ sister and a bit too mellow brother. I usually go with him but the sister decided that it was time for the ‘family’ to interact without any outside interference with ‘other’ mortals. That’s me, the other sister-in-law and brother-in-law. Clannish? You bet! These people do not recognize anyone outside the immediate gene pool. They have no curiousity, sensitivity for, or interest in anyone else. This concept is totally outside my ken. I’m curious about everyone. I’m interested in knowing about others, their thoughts, approach to life, experiences, etc. Bet’cha they (the clan) wouldn’t be ‘blogging’ like us, dear reader…

Okay, to be fair, dear husband is not quite like that. He’s somewhere between the way they are and the way I am. He’s a bit reserved but he’s awfully sweet really, and smart. And, he has this highly developed sense of humor. I’ll keep him. A good laugh, shared, is one of the best things I can think of…outside of a big hug. But the others in his family? I don’t know…I just don’t know. Do you know that we’ve been living in New Hampshire for 18 years and none of them has come up for a visit, asked what our lives are like in New Hampshire, what kind of a house we live in, what’s the economy like up here?! What kind of people do we interact with daily? What’s the town like? How many people live in the town and surrounding area? Is it rural, citified or what? What’s the college like that’s here in our town? What do we do for recreation? Do we have friends? Activities? Decent health? Nothing! But… we’re always hearing “the next time you come down, let us know so we get together. We haven’t seen you for a long time…yadda, yadda.” Yeah, right. Guess that they don’t know that the mileage is the same from New Jersey to New Hampsire as it is from NH to NJ. Oh well, keeps it quieter around here. It’s not that they’re bad people. They’re not. They’re okay, I guess. But they’re sooo incurious… That I don’t understand.

Anyway, it has been a beautiful, quiet kind of day with blue skies, fluffy clouds and a nice gentle breeze. Except for the dog being as much of a pest as he’s capable of being, the day would be a ‘ten.’ Poor doggy. It has to be crummy to be a dog. No speech for chatting congenially, no hands and fingers with which to type, no indoor plumbing, and very unappetizing food which appears when we’re ready and not necessarily when he thinks it’s time. On the other hand, he doesn’t have to answer the telephone and suffer telemarketers and politicians. He doesn’t have to worry about whether his deodorant is working. And he doesn’t have to suffer the slings and arrows of small minded people. He doesn’t have to worry about adequate healthcare, rising grocery prices and whether the car will break down. Hmmmn, guess it is a dog’s life after all…

In the beginning...

Oh, good grief. You raise a kid up, love him like crazy, try to nourish, educate and protect him and the next thing you know, you find out he actually likes you, thinks there’s something worthwhile about you that others should know and you wake up and ‘log on’ to your email account to find out that thanks to him, ‘you’re out there,’ thrown to the wolves. Suddenly you go from housework to homework.

Um…uh… I suppose I’m supposed to say something here…right? Except for the 8 years of broadcasting on the college radio station, I’ve led a very private, low-profile life. And I like it that way! I mean, when I started at the radio station I had a pseudonym so I could retain my anonymity. That was fear. Or was it paranoia? Perhaps it was a sense of mystery missing from my middle class, middle age, plain ole life… Actually, it was probably more a nifty chance to just exercise a little imagination and ‘let go.’ Whatever. Who cares? What possible interest could the reason hold? None, that I can see.

Oh well, I’ll continue on this thread for awhile since I seem to have started, although I can’t for the life of me imagine why you would care to know any of this…

Okay, so I was the Foxy Mama. When I picked my name my two wonderful sons were shocked. “Mother! Everyone will think you’re loose! They’ll get the wrong idea! They’ll think....!” I said “hey, let ‘em think. Seems to me anything that’ll induce people to think can’t be all bad, can it?” “Mom, it makes you sound like a great big ole black lady!” “Yeah? All the better…” And so it went. I became Foxy Mama. Fun! Freedom! It was great. I even had kids (guys) call in a couple of times and say things like “so, uh, are ya really foxy?” “Kid,” I said in a jaded voice, “I’m not really what you think.” It was kind of heartening though to know that someone was even listening and if they were feeling lustful, well, the joke was just too good. If merely a name and a regular voice can do that, then…

It all started when the aforementioned sons both had radio shows on the college station and I couldn’t resist the urge to tease them. “If you guys aren’t careful I’ll get a license and start the Foxy Mama Opera and Oratory Show.” Ha, ha, I thought. That’ll fix ‘em! The joke was on me. They weren’t upset. They didn’t discourage me. They encouraged me! Oh, great, now I was in trouble. Also, I worked at the local video rental emporium with a couple of guys who were also at the college radio station, and I teased them with the same laughing threat. And they didn’t discourage me either. In fact, again I was encouraged. I was definitely in trouble!

One day, while renting a video to a delightful English fellow, we started talking and I found out that he was ‘CJ’ on…you guessed it…the college radio station. The infamous ‘CJ’ was standing right in front of me and happy to find out that I was the mother of two younger station mates he was fond of. I had heard so much about him. He was not quite the second ‘coming’ but at the least, something akin to a happening. I told him about my standing joke with the guys and he said “they’re right. You should train and get a show at the station. We need diversity. We need more community members, we need some more mature voices (hmmmnnn, mature, huh?)… I think it’d be wonderful. In fact, I’ll train you myself!” Oh oh…

Of course when everyone heard that the great ‘CJ’ was willing to train me they told me that now I’d have to follow through. It’s not everyday that the great ‘CJ’ offers to train someone. I thought about it for awhile and decided that, what the hey, I was feeling staid and stale. I needed a challenge. I needed to put myself ‘out on the line,’ take a few risks, do something interesting… So I said “okay.” And that was the beginning of a great adventure...

Like Martin Luther King I had a dream. I had an abiding (albeit quiet) dream of hosting a classical radio show. To do so I had to comply with the requirement of playing a semester’s worth of alternative rock…ohmigawd!! So I did. Ooooeee... That’s why the Foxy Mama moniker. Blessed anonymity. I mean, I played stuff my sons listened to, with a smattering of blues, folk, reggae, techno, jazz and a dash of unusual and odd thrown in for flavor. Even after I ‘earned’ the classical show and ‘came out’ under my real name I continued with the Foxy Mama show and incorporated a live radio theater segment as well. The bug had really bitten me.

It was summer and there was a lot of space to fill so I gained experience by filling in for a bunch of others who were away and I started learning about music that I never knew existed. Wow. The Classical Alternative was born finally and lasted (in a 5 hour format) for 8 years. Foxy Mama ended up co-hosting a blues show with the blues dude and then eventually took over and renamed the show Lady Plays the Blues. The folk guy (who was a local folksinger/songwriter himself) took off for parts out west and bequeathed his show (longish running and well listened to…gulp) to me and thus, The Front Porch came about and eventually expanded. After a time, I added a 2 hour mostly live interview show. For some years thereafter, I was on the air at least a minimum of 15 hours a week.

At the station I wasn’t anybody’s mother, although my two sons were very involved with the station themselves at the same time. We went there independently and were regular station members like everybody else. Some who knew us, knew we were related while others did not, but it didn’t matter. We were creative and happy and respectful of each other.

Young son is frightfully zany and creative and older son is a walking musical encyclopedia and both were terrific DJ’s. Poor dear husband coped with all of us and submitted to training and testing and got a license himself, although he preferred not to go ‘on-air.’ But if it hadn’t been for the assistance and forebearance of my somewhat patient sons, it would never have happened for me. They were incredible about educating me and helping me get started and I totally owe them much, much, much. Good guys! Every mother should be half as lucky. I’ve gotten more than my allotment of gray hair from those dudes but we’ve had a lot of laughs together too. They even managed to grow into pretty reasonable adults in spite of me. Who’d ‘a thunk it?!

Radio. Oh, the stories I could tell. In fact, maybe someday I will…

Friday, August 06, 2004

Hello. My name's Tim and this is my mom's blog. Hopefully this is the last you'll hear from me, and she'll take over from here on. Will she tell her life story? Will she decry the sorry state of southern NH politics? Or will she just talk about one of her passions, rubber stamping? Only she can say for certain. All I know is, if she's writing it we all better watch out. Heh heh!

PS-I love ya mom!

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