Foxy Mama's Blog

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


Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Rhyme of the Modern Siren...

We went downtown today and all I could think of was Samuel Taylor Coleridge…

Apologetically, at that…

1. Greek Mythology. One of a group of sea nymphs who by their sweet singing lured mariners to destruction on the rocks surrounding their island.
2. siren A woman regarded as seductive and beautiful.

~ ‘~ ‘~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~’~
From the observations of Dear Husband and myself:

Bellies, bellies everywhere,
And all the pants did shrink.
Bellies, bellies everywhere,
Small and smooth and pink.

And now from The Master:

Water, water everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink.
Water, water everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink

… (from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

Back to me…

It’s a tsunami of flesh as far as the eye can see. Have you noticed? Bellies and midriffs…everywhere! Flat bellies, dimpled bellies, hanging bellies, soft bellies, firm bellies and even pierced bellies. I know the fabric didn’t shrink…because this is 2004, and in 2004 we have pre-shrunk, no iron, no wrinkle, no shrink, colorfast, no-run miracle fabrics. Really. It says so on all the tags. What you try on today will still fit tomorrow, even after 5 washings. Guaranteed. So what shrank? The brains of the designers, I guess…

I don’t know about you, but I hafta tell you, I’m uncomfortable with all that flesh hanging out. I really don’t like being on such intimate terms with strangers. I mean…I’m a friendly person. I am… But I’m not that friendly. There’s a limit to how friendly I want to be. And when they bend over! This tests the limits of my sanity and well being… I sure wish they wouldn’t bend over. Especially when I’m with my husband. My husband doesn’t mind when they bend over…which is probably why I mind when they do.

Seriously, I’ve grown up carefully checking and pulling my shirts and sweaters down and making sure I’m neat and covered up. Perhaps from a lifetime of doing this, I feel uncomfortable when I bend over and there’s that gap. Okay, to be sure, if you saw me, you’d probably say “why, no wonder…” But still, it’s anxiety producing when folks are so blasé. Don’t they get cold? Don’t they feel like something’s amiss? Don’t they feel vulnerable? What ever happened to mystery? Whatever happened to ‘well turned out?’ Whatever happened to dignity? My husband, who I’m sure enjoys the spectacle, says that “if meat isn’t for consumption it shouldn’t be put on the buffet table.”

It’s autumn here in New England and the temperatures are dropping fast. I know the styles are not going to change over night so I expect a lot of sniffly young women will be keeping the Kleenex concession busy. From past experience I know that even when the thermometer drops to zero or below, the young folks will still be sporting tiny, thin little jackets and not zipping them up, lest their bargaining power for attention be considerably lessened. It’s so funny to see these miserable youngsters standing around shivering uncontrollably while wearing (or not, as the case may be…) totally inadequate gear and trying to be so cool. They’re cool all right…just not quite the way they want to be.

I’ve never heard of frostbitten bellies before but this could be the year of a big change. When hands and feet get frostbitten, people lose fingers and toes… What do you lose when your belly gets frostbitten? Do frozen bellies turn blue? I don’t know…but I suspect we’ll find out soon enough. This should be interesting. You won’t mind if I don’t feel sympathetic, will you? I’ll be too busy imitating Michael Palin in “A Fish Called Wanda.” “Revenge!…” A ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha…..

Thursday, September 23, 2004

I've got bloggin' on my noggin'...

My cousin wrote me a note after reading the blog for the first time… He thinks it’s “pretty neat! Like a stream of consciousness idea.” That’s cool. I never knew I was a “stream of consciousness” kind of writer. All these years, Her Sweetness told me I was nuts (in her inimitable way) and she has never even read any of my blog entries. I like stream of consciousness much better. Consciousness is a good thing. Unconsciousness is a bad thing. No bad things here…nosirree.

So, what I’m wondering is, if my writing is stream of consciousness and if I don’t write, does that mean I’m unconscious? Or is this the infamous subconsciousness we keep hearing about? (Shudder)…what about my Id and my ego and my super-ego? Hmmmmmnnnnnnn… I sense a battle going on here somewhere. Oops. Was that paranoia? What do you mean “she’s weird?!” What makes you say that? Say, did you hear something? I think they’re watching me…reading my words even. Geez Cuz, look what you started here. They’re ganging up on me 3 to 1…

Okay. That’s enough of that.

But here I sit, week after week, day after day, grasping for interesting facts and phrases and trying to cobble together a story for a blog entry, when the truth is, everything is a story about something. And it’s so easy to tell a story. It’s all in the telling. Just ask a reporter or a journalist. They all know that there’s a good story in there somewhere (!) and they will bigawd find it too. Like pigs rooting for choice truffles.

When the sonnies were young and asked for a bedtime story, I borrowed a couple of concepts from our personal lives, embroidered a bit for interest and texture…et voila! A story was born and grew as big as the time it took to get the little devils to sleep. Maybe I just have a fecund mind. More likely, I don’t recognize boundaries. Whatever. It’s just so danged easy when you lose yourself and let it happen.

This blog is growing like that. A couple of months ago I didn’t even know what a blog was! You start out telling stories to a sonny and next thing you know, he grows up and he wants you to tell stories to the whole dad-blamed world. If I think about it, I can’t do it, but if I just put the ole fingers on the keys and start talkin’…

Broadcasting can be a lot like that too. If you worry about it, you freeze up and it doesn’t happen. I watched a lot of trainees do that, so I told them “don’t think about the microphone taking your voice out to hundreds or thousands of strangers, think about the mic as a friend you’re chatting with over the back fence with…or a lover (that always got ‘em…what would this ole woman know about that (!) they were thinking…wouldn’t they be surprised, huh?). It works! It really does!

When I had my program called The Front Porch (for nearly 8 years, and before John Walters on NPR started his show by the same name, by the way), I always stated that it was “a friendly and relaxing” place to listen to music and interviews. And I meant it too. I had a tremendous number of in-studio guests, and I liked to get them to chat for a little while before they started playing…kind of a break-in period for them to relax and tell their story.

Relaxed performers are always at their best and since a lot of the performers were touring musicians and not always well known in this area, it was important for them to peak people’s interest in their music, and what better way to get folks to listen, care and come out to support their concerts than to ‘chat’ a little and tell their story?

I’ve always hated all those super polite interviews with the stock questions and same old stilted and predictable answers. I sit there saying to the radio yeah, but...what about(?)...and how(?)...and why did(?)...and so on. All those questions they ask…and yet they never give the person a chance to unload, and I never find out who they really are. I figure I’m fairly representative of plain ole folks and plain ole folks want a glimpse of someone’s story, to see if it matches up somewhat with their own. Facts and statistics you can read on the CD liner notes or the bio on the web, but they don’t give you a glimpse of ‘who’s’ there.

What we all want is to have someone c’mon up on the front porch, sit down with us for a ‘spell’ and have us a nice chat. We tell each other our stories. We commiserate. What a lonely existence this can be if we don’t get to ‘touch’ once in awhile. It’s important to hear that others are worrying about some of the same things we are, facing some of the same obstacles, coming up with solutions for some of the things plaguing us. It helps us to ‘normalize’ ourselves.

So c’mon over to my blog from time to time, why don’t you? Stop by anytime. I’m always home for a friend. Don’t forget to leave a calling card so I can return the visit and toddle on over to your place from time to time and see if you’re home too…


Friday, September 17, 2004

Magnificent Obsession

Brunch was quiet and quick this morning. Just younger sonny and me. For some reason older sonny didn’t get there and due to an undesirable appointment I had at the hospital, we were pressed for time, so we didn’t wait for him. We couldn’t. The omelette, as usual, was excellent and it helped to ease me into what I had waiting for me, a mammy (or mamogram if you’re a stickler for being “correct”). I hate mammies. I’d rather go to the dentist… I find that most women feel the same about them. They’re necessary…but they’re also somewhat akin to being tortured. Enough said…

The hospital and the clinic have been joined together in a mammoth renovation project which has been in progress for an aggravating couple of years. Traversing the construction mess and torn up streets surrounding it has been a minor nightmare but it’s finished now and they’ve even managed to restore order to the parking lot. As a result, it’s easier to find the re-routed but beautifully rejuvenated department you have to visit in the sumptuous new monolith.

An appointment at the hospital now more approximates going to a posh hotel or a museum than a visit to the flesh repair shop. That is, except for negotiating the stupid too-small, and very irksome roundabout, that the town fathers, in an appalling lack of wisdom and planning, insisted on putting at the entrance to the hospital where it joins the street. It’s unreasonably tight and confusing, especially in the winter when it’s icey or when the snow drifts shrink the driving area even further. The ‘roundabout’ is the town fathers’ current idée fixe. Most of us hate that danged thing! They want to put four more of them around the town too. That’s it. I’m moving!

But that said, the hospital is now gorgeous! They’ve done a swell job. And the artwork is wonderful. Everywhere you look there is some interesting and colorful representation… I can’t even grumble convincingly about the Mammy Suite since they have hung some splendid artwork. In fact, I even almost forgive them for the nasty television set in the elegant little reception area, which is always on and can’t be ignored. I hate television. It puts me in a bad space. I try to be graceful about this since so many people seem to actually need television, but it’s very distracting to those of us who prefer to read and/or listen to music (and I don’t mean Muzak or the top ‘pop’!).

The Mammy Suite sported two large and especially nice art prints, not etchings or lithographs, but decent quality poster prints of fine artwork. They were very nicely framed and looked quite spiffy. I wouldn’t expect them to hang ‘the real McCoys, since they already hang in museums. Goodness knows the framing, even for the prints, was probably costly enough. That I'm sure of because last year and the year before, our budget had a serious hurt put on it due to framing. We updated some of our artwork and had to frame some new pieces we acquired.

By the time you pick out an appropriate frame, no easy task since they have billions of examples of beautiful framing materials from which to select, and an equal assortment of acid-free mat materials, you're already in over your head. How many shades of white or natural or different colors can you think of? Well, trust me, there are even more than that. At this point, you’ve probably already exceeded your monthly salary and you haven’t even gotten to the glass and the labor. I always know just what I want until I get there and see all the styles. Mama Mia, such a lotta decisions to make! It boggles the eyeballs. I finally learned…never go to the framery when on a tight schedule, never mind a tight budget. On the other hand, I have become good friends with my framer and I never would have known her otherwise.

We’ve been using the custom UV protective glass for protecting our artwork but that’s even more expensive yet. There are some who don’t care for the UV protective glass, saying that it “dulls” the aspect, but we have not noticed any appreciable dimming of the colors. We feel that it’s important to protect fragile art from solar damage as much as possible since the sun can be so destructive. It’s like putting sun-block cream on your skin. Of course I never do. There’s an irony here…

I just came across an interesting phrase in something I read today about framing… The article said: “ A true archival frame job is not just the materials and techniques you use today, but the stewardship you provide in the future.” I like that… How appropriate…stewardship. For art, properly taken care of, will probably be around long after we are gone. Goodness knows, a lot of our stuff has long succeeded the artist who wrought it.

Interestingly enough, the man who restored, cleaned and reframed a slightly damaged George Wainwright Harvey watercolor that I’ve had for many years, doesn’t believe the UV protective glass is worth the expense. But he does believe in using museum quality framing, which is specially made and not cut and joined at the corners as usual, and that was way expensive I can tell you! Beautiful beyond belief but expensive as all get out…

The framer and restoration specialist’s name is David Putnam, who is also a professional photographer and whose work is very similar to that of Ansel Adams’ black and white photography. He has one camera that he uses which produces an 8x10 negative. That must be one monster of a camera to produce a negative that big! I wouldn’t even want to imagine the size of the enlarger he uses. His pictures are awesome!! We bought one of his photographs last year as a joint anniversary gift to each other. It’s a wonderful picture. It’s custom framed, signed, and designated AP, which means it was his art print…and large(!). We were reminded of how large it was when we tried to find the right spot to hang it.

It’s amazing how shabby a piece of fine art can make your house look. We’re currently in the process of tearing down some old wallpaper and repapering and painting a couple of rooms. What a mess! We picked wallpaper that would provide a subtle background and not fight with the artwork. We couldn’t just paint the walls because it’s an old house and the walls are plaster and not in the best condition. We had to take some of the artwork down until the project is complete but the empty walls are driving me nuts.

Art soothes my soul and provides mini vacations and I miss having it available. For me, personally, the house seems out of balance and I think this must be what it’s like to have jewelry that is kept in a safe, unseen and unworn, except for very special occasions. Not that I would have experience of that, you understand. But I’ve often tried to imagine what that must be like. I could never collect anything just for the sake of collection, even art. And while it’s true that art is an investment, I’m driven by love, not financial planning. Coveted art makes you feel like the first time you realized that someone else (for me, Dear Husband) is your joyful soulmate and you want to spend the rest of your life with them…

The hospital isn’t the noblesse of the art world by any means, but it ‘artfully’ contrived to distract me from the indignities of the necessary but dreaded yearly “scourge,” just a smidge. Works for me...

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Invasion of the nut snatchers...

They’re hanging there. All by their little toesies… Three of ‘em, in fact. In the big tree across the street. It’s a maple tree and the leaves are starting to change from green to red and redish orange. It’s going to be beautiful! It always is… I love fall in New England. The riot of colors and flaming trees are a joy to behold. It may be the beginning of an end, but Autumn does not go out quietly. She makes a statement and she is bold!

Oh, that’s right… I was talking about the squirrels. The three squirrels who are currently hanging upside down by their little toesies whilst munching contentedly on maple seeds. They’re out there on the very tips of the branches and the limbs they are a shakin’! I’m ready to have a heart attack.

They’re hanging upside down! Straight up and down…upside down!! How the heck can they do that? And how the heck can they eat upside down? Have you ever tried to eat upside down? I find it hard enough just to use a drinking fountain. And that’s rightside up. Ever tried swallowing pills while drinking from a drinking fountain? It’s nigh unto impossible.

But I digress… The squirrels, the little buggers who are currently hanging upside down on the tips of the branches and shaking them all to pieces, have been especially active these past days, scurrying hither and yon with nuts, apples and the like in their sharp little teeth and claws. They’re busy ‘setting their stores’ for the winter, burying their booty wherever they can and it beats me how they know where to dig to find it all again. If the tales told by the old Yanks around here are to be believed, we’re going to be in for a doozey of a winter this year. It’s been said that a lot of squirrel activity in the early fall indicates a lot of snow for the winter. We’ll see… The skiers will be ecstatic.

These squirrels are resourceful little critters. Amusing too. There’s one…who when he isn’t hanging from the tips of the branches upside down and frazzling my nerves, performs exquisite little flips and cartwheels on the lawn of the house across the street. That’s where all these squirrel gymnastics have been taking place…across the street.

As I sit here at the computer in the corner, by the window of what used to be our master bedroom but has now been transformed into my stamping studio instead, I can see the whole show. I’m on the 2nd floor, giving me a great vantage point. He flip-flops all over the place just like a certain current Presidential hopeful we know but he’s much more entertaining.

This squirrel has a house of his own…in fact, he is master (or possibly mistress) rent-free, of the house across the street,with the lawn where the big tree is that he and his buddies are currently frollicking in. That house also has students from the college who rent apartments in it. It is falling into fabulous disrepair and that little squirrel hasn’t missed his opportunity for free accomodations. Some years ago a small hole appeared right at the apex of the roof ridgeline, in the front. After awhile, with a little help from birds and previous squirrels (real ones I mean, not the college variety) and water, wind and fate, the hole became bigger and a true source of entertainment for us. It has been enormous fun to watch the process.

The birds were the first. It was a mystery in the beginning as to how the hole enlarged itself, seemingly overnight. But then after watching the nesting materials being transported in and out of the elements by the birds, into the hole and then out, we’d see the birds perch on the roofline and bend over and rub their beaks across the perimeter of the hole to sharpen them. And then, to further hone the process, they began ‘picking’ at the hole and the edges of the roof, eventually widening the gateway to their penthouse.

When one family of birds would vacate the premises another type would immediately move in and repeat the renovation process. Sometimes they would overlap a bit which caused a territorial dispute. The seasons have been full of variety. But things really got interesting when need drove the squirrels to investigate…

You see, several large trees in the neighborhood have been taken down over the past two years because they were so old and rotten and a lot of critters got dispossessed in the process. Not ones to stand around whining and visiting the social services agencies, the critters began to take things into their own hands, uh…paws. When the squirrels gathered their belongings and moved into “the hole” it got enlarged post haste. Don’t tell anyone…but since the students had been so dad-blamed annoying in the middle of the night, causing us to be more than a little disgruntled, we took to cheering every time the hole got enlarged noticeably.

After awhile other parts of the roofline (just under the shingles) started looking scratched and broken, sporting spaces and signs of habitation by the wildlife (the furry and feathered types, not the college variety). Soon, every afternoon around 4:30 pm a squirrel would appear in the “main hole,” so regularly I could set my watch by it. It would poke it’s grungy, vermin ridden little head, front paws and shoulders out of “the hole” and literally hang out to survey the neighborhood ‘goings on’ for about an hour.

It was so comical. I was bitterly disappointed when after all these years, the danged house got sold and the new owners sent a skinny old guy on a rickety ladder up to the top of the ridge to put a silly looking, inadequate and totally annoying patch on “the hole,” or the “main hole” as we had begun to refer to it. I thought they might spring for a complete renovation which would displace my amusing little friends once again. But as much as that place needs refurbishing (gosh knows, we’ve wished for a long time that they would fix it up), I felt a moment of sadness when that old guy ascended that ladder. Hah! I needn’t have worried.

After the old batch of college miscreants moved out, the new owners got busy and painted the inside from stem to stern and installed new carpeting. Then when our guard was down and our hopes were up, or perhaps because they were tired or broke, they started showing the place once again to another round of animals...I mean students. Sigh…

I think that might be the extent of the renovations for now and, I am happy to say, the squirrels take the day… Earlier I saw one of them, probably the foremost acrobatic one, scrunch himself up to snuggle into “the next biggest hole” which is halfway down the fascia of the roof. It promises to be an interesting winter. That is, it will be if those facile little squirrels, hanging by their toesies, upside down…don’t fall and break their little ‘headsies!’

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

A diamond is forever...

Dear husband is a real find. He’s a true gem. That’s what I’ve always said… Now I’m going to have to reconsider that statement. Perhaps I should say my husband is a gem in rehearsal, or a diamond in the rough, so to speak... He’s not polished enough. In fact, right now he’s just a resource material. Or to look at it another way, he’s merely a twinkle in the eye of a cremation services technologist. Of course the same could be said about me. And now, when I look at our dear doggy friend, I see a definite purpose for his humble existence too… Maybe a pair of earrings or a pendant to be hung from a gold chain, or a nice ring…

The thing that made me start thinking about this is an article I read about a woman who turned her husband’s cremains into a diamond. Well, she didn’t actually do it, she had someone else do it. It seems that her husband died of a brain tumor and she decided that she’d honor him in a special way so she’d never forget him. I’d never forget my husband, that’s for sure…

In life, if this guy started looking a little yellow around the edges he’d probably have been carted off to the doctor’s office post haste… Or in the case of a missed opportunity to distinguish himself, he might have been accused of being cowardly. But now he’s as solid as a guy can be. He’s rock solid, a real ‘forever’ kind of guy. He is, in reality, a half-carat yellow diamond…resting in a nicely finished wooden box and sporting a letter of authenticity.

This is recycling gone crazy, although the argument could also be made it’s very practical and space- saving, since no burial plot has to be purchased. Just think, no more do you have to spend a lot of time and money with a boring old funeral home making costly arrangements to take care of the ‘garbage.’ Instead, you get to have all the fun of picking out new jewelry. That would certainly perk you up at a dreary time. Just think of the possibilities…

To create this gem, you have to heat the cremains to extreme temperatures, then the carbon is subjected to a walloping amount of pressure and finally you have a stone which is identical to diamonds that develop within the bowels of the earth over many eons. The nitrogen in the air is what causes the diamonds to be yellow in color, and unfortunately, you’ll probably be limited to only certain wardrobe colors, since the bright yellow wouldn’t look good on just any outfit. But hey, it’s only a small sacrifice, not enough to kill anyone. So to speak…

You’ll need insurance, of course, and I don’t know what actuarial chart you’d use to determine the value of the spousal diamond. But after all, if you didn’t want your spouse to be made off with by some other person when alive, you sure wouldn’t want your new ‘gem’ to become the victim of a crime as a jewel either. The process of making these jewels is expensive so the investment would be dear and I bet the insurance would be exorbitant…

The cost for a quarter carat is about $2,500 and goes up to $13,000 for a full carat, but according to the article, the diamonds can be made into any size and this is one case when overweight might be a true asset. (I just threw this last part in to make myself feel better since I admit to a little extra ‘poundage.’) I guess the price isn’t so much different, from what I’ve seen quoted for a ‘decent’ funeral and burial, whatever constitutes decent.

And why spend all that money on an albatross of a headstone to possibly be desecrated when roughians raid the boneyard on a spooky scrimmage at Halloween or after a night of heavy refreshment? This way, your loved one is in a nice, tidy easy-to-look-after little parcel…and you’ll be a couple again.

Ladies and gentlemen, just think…you’ll never again have to wonder where that darned spouse went. You’d always have him or her close at hand and you wouldn’t be disparaged if you have a penchant to spend too much money on glittery trinkets…or whatever else is your particular weakness. Close at hand but not looking over your shoulder either. If your diamond is from a beloved pet, there would be no obedience issues to cloud your relationship. This would be the perfect pet. Clean, beautiful and easy to handle… Hmmmmn, there might be something to this after all.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

The ecstasy and the agony...

I can remember when a quarter would buy you an afternoon of cinema ecstasy... two major films, 15 minutes of "previews" (or dreams of future heaven), a cartoon, and a newsreel or two. We're talking an entire afternoon or evening, absolutely cram-packed with entertainment! You went in "loaded for bear," with a bag full of sweet sustenance, not preventing you at all from heading straight for the refreshment booth for your popcorn starter course. Thus armed, it was a grand rush for the best seat, hopefully near the front of the theater for unobstructed viewing (bladder be damned...), all the time keeping one eye out for that pesky uniformed authoritarian bully with a flashlight and anal code of behavior... the usher. The usher could kill the keenest and most enjoyable experience faster than Shane could unholster his six shooter.

Nothing was worse than missing a film because you were sick, your parents scheduled a vacation, or, disappointment of the century... it didn't come to your theater! There was no second chance and no reason to believe it would ever come around again. If you didn’t catch it when it was at your favorite theater you were just out of luck. Sob…

Fortunately, films weren't cranked out so fast as they are now, by anyone with the money or interest to do it. You got to see pretty nearly everything that came down the pike. There were no ratings or codes to interfere and we kids got some real education in those days. Of course there wasn't any nudity but films managed to be pretty racy in spite of it. There was no raw language factor…unless the hero said something ‘bad’ like…“damn!” And we kids uttered a collective “ooooooh,” even though our dads and uncles uttered worse than that when fixing the family automobile. Nobody worried about the violence scarring you for life. After all, it was life. We were scarred far more by missing seeing a film than we were by what we saw in the film.

It's funny how those film experiences shaped your life and persist in your memory, even after you get old enough to forget what happened yesterday or this morning... It's great to be able to buy the DVDs and revisit those times. We collect those films and watch them over and over again, so as not to lose those experiences and yet, if we were to be honest, we'd have to admit that sometimes those films were pretty darned dumb to begin with. Escapism! That's the ticket... then and even now. Better than drugs, better than alcohol, better than an army of psychologists trying to rearrange the warped data of our inadequate brains into a nice little plastic model of tranquility.

Oh sure... it's great to get out a video or a DVD, settle into a comfortable chair and let loose. If you get hungry or the phone rings or the bladder threatens mutiny, you freeze the frame and get back to it as soon as you can. But there's something about the excitement of anticipation and the smell of real butter waiting to be drizzled on your popcorn, picking out the 'right' seat, and the air of threat from the ever vigilant, fun squelching usher that nudges your psyche and makes you wish you were back in front of that magical giant screen riding the adventure for the first time...
mulberry outlet coach outlet burberry outlet coach factory outlet mulberry outlet coach outlet UGG Pas Cher cheap oakley sunglasses cheap nfl jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys coach outlet canada black friday coach ugg boots on sale cheap uggs gucci outlet oakley outlet coach outlet