Friday, May 27, 2011

The Rusty Nail and the Spider

Yesterday I stepped on a big nail.

It was lying in wait for me right by the ironing board. Heaven only knows how long it had been there, hoping to puncture my foot, but since I am infrequent ironer, it may have been a while.

It got it's money's worth, however, because I stepped on it just right. It  imbedded itself into the sole of my foot and wasn't easy to pull out. When I did, I found that it was rusty. Extremely rusty.

Oh, good. Why do anything half-way, I say. If you're going to impale your foot on a nail, it really should be rusty in order to get the whole, "OH GOD, WHEN WAS MY LAST TETANUS SHOT??" experience.

I'd been to the local ER a few years ago for an unfortunate incident involving a shard of glass and my finger and was almost sure that I'd been given one then. And, since you only need one every ten years, that would have meant I was covered.

But 99% certain isn't enough where rusty nails are concerned and I called the ER for confirmation.

Guess what? An ER that makes you fill out approximately 17,000 forms before they will so much as look in your direction, and advertises its "state of the art" everything, told me that they couldn't locate this info for seven to ten days.

Thanks for nothing.

So, off I went to a walk-in facility to get a tetanus shot. The locale of the injection is swollen and very painful and I have no M&Ms to make into a medicinal paste paste to apply to the area.

Then today, while sitting down here, a big-ass spider scurried right across the computer screen. Quicker than I, he escaped but as he raced away, he looked over his shoulder and stared directly at my neck.

This means he intends to return and bite me on the neck within the next few hours. I know how spiders think and I am sure this is his intention.
If it had been this big, I would currently be on life support.
The only reasonable solution in this circumstance is to immediately put the house on the market and move out.

So, I going to do that right now.

Have a great holiday weekend. I love Memorial Day and always cry, under my sunglasses, at the parades. Fewer and fewer WWII vets are around so now the oldest crews are from Korea and Vietnam. The young men in desert fatigues both stir and break my heart. Enough war, world.

Let's concentrate on eradicating spiders that have the nerve to enter the homes of civilized (ha!) bloggers.

See you next week. Love, Me

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cheer up, Wayne Brady, At Least The World Won't End Until October.

America, please do not think that I spend a great deal of time thinking about Wayne Brady. For I do not.

But yesterday while  making hideous crumpled balls out of folding the laundry, the clicker -- as is its' habit -- was hiding and I was compelled by the universe to watch whatever was on.

And what was on, was Wayne Brady hosting the television classic, "Let's Make a Deal."

Maybe he was just having an off day because he seemed really mean.

If it had been me standing there with fake coins pasted to my face and wearing a cardboard box that had been violated decorated to resemble a slot machine, I would have been cowering in my sneakers.

Presuming that slot machines wear sneakers.

I am going to hit her with this microphone any minute now.
At best, he was grim and joyless and appeared to hate everyone in the audience. This is a shame because he is gainfully employed and making more money than I, for one, will ever see in my lifetime.

Monty Hall, the original host of the show, favored plaid jackets and a slick 70's 'do. He always seemed to like the crazies who paraded through the studio...liked giving them cash that was secreted in his pockets as well as scheming to entice them to trade it all away for the thrill of a Maui vacation or the disappointment of the dreaded "zonk."

A Zonk means a bad big money or prize and is feared by all. Once, the zonk was an ostrich. I remember, as a kid, wondering why the person who won it was so upset. Who wouldn't want an ostrich?

I still feel that way.

I think Wayne is an angry fellow. He's a very talented guy who, for some mysterious reason, was never able to be distinct enough to break through to the big time. He remains a "B" when he desperately desires to be an "A."

He can be funny. That was proven when he appeared regularly on a comedy improv show a while back. He can certainly sing and dance as evidenced by this clip. I just don't think he expected to be asking maniacs dressed like Julius Caesar whether they want the box or the curtain, for a living.

Wayne, like so many, thought he was going places but there's room for only so many Wilder Valderamas in this world. Oh, wait--he's a nobody, you say?  How about Ashton Kutcher? Hold on, he had to marry the successful and much older wife of another washed-up actor and perpetually maintain an adolescent demeanor to catch his break.

I give up.

Snap out of it, Wayne.

You have a job. It's kind of easy.

And there are perks. I bet you could have your pick between the 450 pound woman dressed as a meter maid or the really tall old lady, wearing the Yeti suit and dragging around the oxygen tank, for a bit of pre-show hijinks. Then all you have to do is pick them to stand up and make deals. It's a clear case of win-win.

How bad could it be?

So, stop being so grim. Relax. Have fun. After the week's tapings, go home and stalk people from high school on Facebook like the rest of us and live your life, man.

And, if I ever come on and win an ostrich, I'm bringing him home.
I would have been happy with a llama, too.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Times, They Are Still A-Changing.

So cool.
Despite the fact that Bob Dylan has closely resembled a cadaver for the past several years, it turns out that not only is he actually still among the living but yesterday was his 70th birthday.

I was, and continue to be, a big fan.

In the 1970's, as a smug teen with a musical superiority complex, I was very impressed with myself for listening to his albums. My friends, however, thought I was a bit of an ass. After all, the Bee Gees had just gone disco.

During a news segment on the Early Show, as his birthday was reverently acknowledged by people too young to know much about anything,"The Times They Are A-Changing'"  was playing in the background.

Suddenly, a bolt of realization shook me to my Birkenstocks. This ground-breaking song no longer applies to my generation!!

This song is now telling moi to "get out" if I can't "lend a hand." ME. It's telling ME that?!


Hold everything.

I sat back and thought. Back then, Bob was talking, to a great extent, about politics. The Vietnam war. Values of the 50's vs. the sexual revolution. Unresponsive govenment. Big stuff.

And I was all in favor pf pushing the older generation off a cliff and, for good measure, stepping on their fingers as they tried to claw their way to safety before, inevitably, crashing to their deaths on the jagged cliffs of my youth, below.

But now, it's ME????

Okay. After hyperventilating for a few minutes, my immediate goal became to minimize the shock and contain the emotional I did.

I decided that what this song would apply to now is....texting.

Bob Dylan --  if he had written "The Times They Are A-Changing'" today --   would be referring to texting. Nothing else. Not disconnection from society or inability to keep abreast of political shifts or social norms (by the way, why does that Lady Gaga insist on wearing her underwear out in public? Well?) 

Texting. The song is just about texting! Lalalalala--fingers in ears.

It's a fact that aversion to obsessive texting is a generational issue. When I am introduced to you at a party and despite a polite greeting, your eyes only flicker to meet mine for a split second but you hold fast--with both hands --to your phone and keep clicking away, I want to -- literally --punch your lights out.

Surprise--the young do not feel this way! Why? Because they're all doing it. So, no one makes eye contact or really connects on any significant emotional level....unless, of course, it's via a text.

So, forget the sexual revolution, war, changing social mores, and anything else Dylan was referring to in his music, as sources of the eternal conflict between the youngs and the olds. Since it currently applies only to texting, I'm still in touch with the important stuff. 

I'm also a skinny blonde with long legs and a tiny nose. Who can dance.

Happy birthday, Bob. Many more.

Bob, at 70.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Party. Ketchup. Boobs.



Fun. Friends. Good food.

Rain? No matter. Tent. Cozy. Dry.


Choices. Salads. Beans. Ham. BBQ Chicken.
Yes, yes, yes and yes. Thank you.

Double the plate or certain disaster. Okay.

What's that? Hamburgers. Slight char. Perfect.
Stack of American cheese. The white kind. Makes it healthy? Okay!

Yum. Burger. Cheese. Bun. Friends. Tent.


Drop of ketchup.

Big one.


Bigger than a quarter? Oh, yes,

On. My. White. Blouse.


Don't look down.



Look around. Husband noticed.

Suicide. A bit much? Not sure. 

Mass murder? Same.

Kitchen. All alone. Good.

Woman walks in. Who is she?

"Oh, ketchup on the boobs...happens to me all the time," she says.

Walks out.

Mental note: Spare her life.

Whisk off glistening red bubble with a practiced hand.

What's left: red stain. Huge.

Feel faint.

Can't leave. Too early. Rumor there is cake.

Sponge. Damp. Blot.

Blot again.

Stain now pink.

Still bad.

Eyeglasses! Position over stain. Hide.

Doesn't work.

Blot more. Cold water.

Too cheap to buy Tide bleach pen. Looked good on TV.

Should have.

If survive this, will purchase.

Stain better. Not gone. Announces to world: have eaten hamburger.


Hoped to hide that from world.


Exit kitchen. 

On way to tent, sky opens. Raindrops, big as dinner plates, soak me. Stain. Everyone.

People wet. Laughter. Stain? Forgotten.

Good party.

Friday, May 20, 2011

If Tomorrow is the End of the World, I'm Not Cleaning the Litterbox.

My lunch before the Rapture.
 I was hoping that the end of the world would hang on at least until the finale of Dancing with the Stars but, according to an 89 year old bored former civil engineer named Harold Camping who founded some sort of radio network, it's definitely tomorrow.


In that case, I have to get busy.

Nothing like Blu-Ray....

First and foremost, I will have breakfast out. I will order an egg cream and double bacon but be sure to leave room for the fact that I intend to sit on the hood of my car in the parking lot of the local Burger King and publicly eat the Baconator for lunch.

I will not use napkins but will wipe my lips with the hem of my shirt and tell anyone who stares that I forgive them.

Next, I will watch my new Blu-Ray DVD of "The Sound of Music" and sing along with every song. Despite the approaching apocalypse, I will become as agitated as ever when, at the end, Captain Von Trapp stupidly misjudges Rolf's commitment to the Nazi party and almost gets them caught.

Then I will have more bacon.

I will spend the day not doing laundry. I will not make the bed. I will not scoop a single turd out of the litter boxes but will sprinkle catnip all over everything and watch the cats roll around and act silly.

Next, I will drive down to Washington, DC. and go directly to the National Zoo where I will climb (not so easy after all the bacon) into the lion's enclosure and play with the six lion cubs for hours.

Their parents will not rip me to shreds because I exude a magical aura that calms lions. The male lion will roll on his back and purr as I scratch his tummy and braid his mane.

There will be no guards to stop me because they are off doing their end-of-the-world stuff so it's all good. Chances are there will be others who wish to play with the lions. I will allow it.

Then I will drive home and Seth and I will  play Gin and listen to George Jones until we've had enough. Afterward. we will take turns smashing the computer, printer and fax machine to smithereens.

Then, we will lie down side by side in our best clothes, such as they are, and wait for the end just like the Astors did in the movie, "Titanic."

In the morning, I will rise, have some fruit and yogurt and do a load of laundry. Those lions were very cute but they smelled well, like lions.

I will also have to buy a new computer, printer and fax machine but it was worth it.

Have a great weekend. Thanks for reading and signing up. See you all, hopefully, on Monday.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Barbarian

Careful, young lady.
I really don't have to write much more than this today: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Done.

Honestly, is anyone that surprised?

Over the years, media coverage of his behavior has included footage of lots of public (during interviews) groping.

We knew there had to be a whole lot more behind the scenes.

Whether Maria knew, suspected, wondered or feared that Arnold was being a filthy dog with his staff, is not my business but, rather, should be relegated to the private dynamics of a marriage. And, all decisions and ultimate outcomes should be left to the various cheating thresh holds of those involved.

Look at Hilary. She has stayed married to Bill through Gennifer Flowers to Monica Lewinsky....and all those in between on his busy time line of lack of self-control.

I'm not even going to bring up the Kennedy legacy of sexual misconduct because I don't think Maria deserves to be painted with that brush. Her parents marriage never got outed as a sham (which doesn't mean much--no one knows what goes on behind closed doors) and I don't think the comparison is relevant.

Arnold's not a Kennedy. He's a giant asshole who married one.

And, who really knows whether the housekeeper "enticed" Arnold as the media has reported. Maybe she did and, therefore, shame on her. Big time.
Yes, I am a bastard.

But, for all we know, he forced himself upon her and she never actually knew who the father was (she was married at the time) until the baby--the real victim in all this madness--popped out looking (again, as reported) like the Governator himself.

And, maybe she never reported his advances or left the job because she needed the work. She had other kids to support.

In other words, there are many scenarios that could have led to this mess.

I am also disturbed (besides thinking that Arnold is a filthy swine who should, regardless of the actual circumstances, have his penis super-glued to his thigh) at the next door neighbor of the housekeeper and her son.

This woman has allowed reporters onto her property where they have filmed over the fence, all the while gossiping with them about how the real estate agent suspected "someone" was helping the woman buy the home. She must think that it's okay because she keeps emphasizing what a great kid the boy is.

Shut up, lady.

Out of respect for your neighbor, don't even open the door to the feral press that cares about nothing but a new sound bite or a snippet of film. Unless a neighbor is a bastard extraordinaire, there is a code --or so I thought -- between us because, on some level, sharing a fence makes neighbors like family.

All in all, the whole thing is creepy and sad. For Maria Shriver and her children, it is a huge betrayal. For the newly-acknowledged son, it's the beginning of media hounding and a skewed life.

Who knows how it will affect Arnold?

Women on the street, asked by reporters what they think, are all coming down on him heavily while some men are shrugging and smirking, adhering to the call of the wild---the DNA that whispers in their ears constantly to spread their seed, expanding their tribal geography and their own genetic footprint.

Quick, pass me a vomit bag.

He's done with a political career and Hollywood tolerates a lot.

The whole thing makes me want to take a long, hot shower in the private bathroom of a sanitarium where there is no TV, magazines or newspapers......just cats and bowls of M&Ms.

Both peanut and regular. Thank you.
Arnold: I bet I'll be back.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Rice Ball By Any Other Name, Part Deux

I'd like a rice ball, please.
This morning, I lingered in bed in order to ponder today's conclusion about life, liberty and the pursuit of rice balls (with a little sauce on the side).

 I fell back to sleep and dreamt that Hannibal Lechter was my father.

I suspect, for many reasons, that this dream was a long time coming but surprisingly, it wasn't unpleasant at all. In fact, Hannibal was a nice, supportive parent. Whether he was planning on, later, eating my liver with a nice chianti and some fava beans remains to be seen as the dream ended when the phone rang. 

There were riceballs (I actually think they may have been hanging on a Christmas tree) in the dream as well.

Strange dreams aside, I recently discovered the presence of rice balls within a 15 mile radius of my home on a recon mission to a new --and amazing -- supermarket called DeCicco's.

This market cannot even be described. To suburbanites who can only dream about the plentitude of fresh and ethnic chioces in our old neighborhoods, it was an emotional experience.

Meats, cheeses, breads, cakes and cookies, I didn't know what to stare at first.
Ma! You didn't save me a rice ball???
I wasn't the only one.There were people restlessly milling about by the prepared foods counter with fixed, glassy stares, salivating. Others were circling around  the bakery, the imported beer section and the salad bar as if they had never before seen food.

I was hardly more than a tourist myself because after seeing some of the prices, I knew this was just a "special occasion" destination. 

Suddenly, however, the visual of a rice ball, warm and crusty, appeared in my mind's eye and I drifted towards the drooling crowd.

Walking with stiff legs over to the counter, I politely joined the the other zombies...all of whom were individuallly fixated on that one food item -- whatever it may have been -- that would bring them back to innocence, restore their virginity and grant them eternal youth.

When my turn came, I suddenly became tongue-tied. "Rice balls...." I whispered to the girl in the snappy white deli coat.

"Of course," she answered. We have two kinds. Sicilian and...."

I didn't need to hear beyond the word Sicilian....and I don't quite remember what happened next but in my hands was a plastic container containing two rice balls the size of softballs.

They appeared to be glowing slightly.

I assume I paid for them since I have not received any visits from the police.

To make a long story short: the first ball was tasteless. Dense and leaden, it was more like a cannon ball than the fluffy beauties of my past. I am putting the second one on Ebay, in the category of boating supplies, since it would make a perfect ship's anchor.

I took the disappointment very, very badly well because I soon realized that driving my car through the front window of the supermarket would end in a rap sheet that included the words, "rice balls."

And, I eventually concluded that no rice ball on earth, no matter how perfect or whose grandma might have prepared it with her calloused rice-ball making little hands, would ever live up to those of my past.

The rice balls of yesteryear  had been irretrievably annointed with the sheen of the past.
Nothing will ever taste that good again.

I enjoyed them during the magical time when all lay before me, the future was mine and they were served along with the happy smiles of Sal and Tony.

Plus a little sauce on the side.
 *Why don't I make them for myself, you ask. First of all, a rice ball can only be made by the pure of heart which disqualifies me immediately.

Second, they are too much work. But the main reason is that rice balls should be made for you. The making of rice balls is an act of love and commitment (or commerce if you own a pizzeria) and you should not have to make them for yourself. It would be like sending  yourself flowers.

If you wish to try, however, here's a recipe. Let me know how they come out.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Rice Ball By Any Other Name, Part One

Ahhhhhh, there they are.
My sons are made of rice balls.

In all fairness, they are made of rice balls, humus and ice cream from a long-gone but locally famous ice cream joint, Karl Droge in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

During my pregnancies, I had very similar and specific eating patterns.

Living where I did, there were, of course, many menus and countless ethnicities from which to choose but it was pretty simple as far as I was concerned: rice balls, humus and ice cream....the holy trinity of soft carbs.

And 26 years later, I still like to tell people it's baby weight....

First, I'd hit the streets. 

Rain or shine, I'd drag myself to my favorite pizzeria where Sal (the dark one) would spot me from about a half block away and tell Tony (the light one) to start heating up my rice ball with a little sauce on the side.
They were much bigger at Karl Droge.

Bliss on so many levels...the pizzeria was home away from home, a place where I was pampered by two handsome guys who worried if I missed a day and didn't charge me for my lunch when I showed up in labor one afternoon. 

I knew I wouldn't be eating for a while and I figured a rice ball was the perfect thing to sustain me through hours of childbirth. I was right. In fact, a good rice ball can sustain you for a day or two.

On weekends, because it was just a few blocks too far for a preggo to waddle, we'd drive to Karl Droge for soft serve. With sprinkles.

Not rainbow. Chocolate.

Fran or her husband, Al (who made bigger cones...sometimes we'd drive around the block until Fran stepped into the back and her husband took command of the window) would angle the wafer cone just so and, with faces as serious as Robert Oppenheimer working on nuclear equations, would build a swirl of vanilla soft serve into a towering, rippled masterpiece roughly the size of Marie Antoinette's Sunday wig--handing it proudly through the window and into my swollen hands.

Once the boys were born, we'd take them, as early as a few months old, and show them off at Karl Droge, placing tiny dabs of vanilla ice cream into their mouths.

In fact, when the plastic spoon clicked against it, it was how I discovered Tommy had his first little toothie at three months. Fran shared my excitement. Al, who wore his jet black hair pomaded into a retro 50's pompadour--not unlike the swirls of the ice cream he dispensed, now that I think of it --couldn't have cared less.

He may have given bigger cones but he wasn't exactly a people person.
This is not Al. It's Johnny Cash. But Al had hair very much like this.
Humus, and all foods Middle Eastern, rounded out the menu. The star of my craving was lemony, cumin-y, tangy humus which, for some odd reason, would put me to sleep soon after eating (it still does). As the months passed and my girth and crankiness-to-niceness ratio increased, Seth would encourage trips to our favorite restaurant because he knew my whining would be silenced by a vegetarian combo platter.

Karl Droge is long gone. Humus is available everywhere (and even from little plastic tubs in the supermarket, is delicious) but rice balls are another story.

Once you leave an urban area, rice balls are hard to come by which is an argument, in itself, for never leaving the city. I have spent the past two decades trying to find one that lives up to the fluffy-on-the-inside, crusty-on-the-outside ball of wonder that Tony used to slide, on a paper plate, across the formica counter with a shy smile.

Read about my quest for rice balls and what I discovered about them in tomorrow's existential conclusion of "A Riceball by Any other Name."
Better than Ambien: humus, falafel, grape leaves, baba ghanoush and tabouli.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tom Selleck's Mustache

I was canoodling around on Facebook last night, when I came upon a post that made me laugh.

It was from a page I do not remember joining, simply entitled "Tom Selleck's Mustache" and it has over 14,000 members. Not too shabby by any means, but especially impressive when you remember that it's devoted to someone's facial hair. 

In addition, this page is very active with many current posts from fans as well as directly from the mustache itself.
Time has darkened his mood and his mustache.
One recent entry simply says a confident "Your welcome!" to the fans who, obviously, are still besotted with not only a mustache but the man behind it...both of which put butterflies into the tummies of hordes of women in the 1970's.

A few decades have passed since that mustache ruled the airwaves, my friends. Not only has Tom Selleck aged a bit, thickening into an older and grimmer version of Magnum P.I. but we've all aged right along with him. 

Apparently, his mustache seems to have remained a constant....although  its current incarnation appears to have been crossbred with a box of Lady Clairol's all too popular shade of "Unnaturally Dark."

I enjoy thinking back to the decade exemplified by that famous mustache. 

I was still in public with my mother in the house we both grew up in. We'd hang out together in the evenings in front of our small portable TV -- the one with the rabbit ears -- enjoying our shows in the evening between the completion of homework and a good night's sleep.

"The mustache" was still its original color of a warm, sandy brown at the time.

So was my own hair, now that I think of it.

Back then, I slept very well. It was my mother's turn, you see, to be the one wakefully navigating the nocturnal path through the anxieties of being a parent. I slept like the kid I still was.

Years later, when I had small children of my own and my sleep was fraught with the stress of being a parent, I remember asking my mother what she'd worried about when I was young.

I was relatively certain that I, as a mother, had more to worry about than she'd had when I was little.  But, nonetheless, I half expected her to laugh and tell me that the colossal fears and anxieties she'd endured could put my own to shame.

To my surprise, she said that other than fearing, in general, for my physical safety ("Susan, remember--don't stand too close to the edge of the subway platform! A maniac will push you off!!") what she fretted about most was making ends meet. To my horror, she confirmed that things had, indeed, gotten a lot scarier.

This was not what I wanted to hear. I wanted her to tell me to stop worrying, that things weren't as bad as they seemed. But it appeared they were.

Great. Thanks, Ma.

My routines, when the boys were kids, were similar to what I'd enjoyed with my mother....homework in the evenings and then some TV before bed. The boys slept as well as I had when I was their was now my turn to lie awake and worry.

Who expected terrroism, prevalent random violence, new diseases, ruthless gangs, Ponzi schemes, global warming, internet porn and Donald Trump's hair? Not I. 

When I am older and have forgotten about whom I am supposed to worry, my sons and their wives will take the reins and lose sleep over topics I never even dreamt of.

"Ha, ha, your turn!"  I will cackle through a mouthful of cream of wheat.

I will then shout incoherently about somebody's mustache as they lock the door to the cell in the basement they wrestle me into for the night. The bastards.
Doing "The Taliban?"

The Facebook page devoted to Tom Selleck's mustache made me smile. 

I think I may visit it more often now to remind me of a simpler time when the Mets had recently won a world series, the Taliban was a dance (I just made that up but wouldn't it be nice if it were a dance?) and a mustache was a mustache.

Perhaps in years to come, my boys -- seeking nostalgia -- will travel to a Facebook page that pays homage to Lady Gaga's, well, use your imagination.

Ewwwwww. Try and sleep now.

To remove image from brain: Hit head against wall several times.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Balloon of Terror

My cat, Buzzy, is my body guard.

Typically, he sits with his back to me, scanning the room. I have interpreted this as a protective stance as he appears vigilant to potential dangers, not unlike a good lifeguard whose eyes never leave the shoreline on a busy day at the beach.

The dangers here are varied but admittedly minimal. They include the possible consumption of a half-eaten bag of chocolate chips that -- as the only remaining chocolate in the house -- poses a constant threat to whatever diet I'm on this week, plus a series of online articles about Ralph Macchios's knee injury sustained while on Dancing with the Stars.
Ralph in eyeliner.
Karina, you fool.

Not only has the Karate Kid become rather creepy (I didn't expect that, did you?) but he recently wore eyeliner for yet another futurisitic-themed performance with Karina Smirnoff who's only claim to fame (besides a recent Playboy photo spread) is as the woman who broke off an engagement with Maksim Chmerkovsky.

What was she thinking, America?

There is, however, one thing that strikes fear into the heart of even the stalwart and intrepid Buzzy.

It has been in the house since February, is a master at inflicting terror upon all in its path and has successfully eluded capture for months. It is, of course, a nearly deflated, but undeterred Valentine's Day mylar balloon.

The balloon began its life like other mylars.
Balloon Hater

Cheerful and shiny, it teamed up with some flowers back on February 14 to make my Valentine's Day festive. Unanchored a few weeks later from its tether by the sharp teeth of Nifi the cat, an avowed balloon hater and ribbon-gnawer, it has drifted ever since--pushed by unseen air currents from room to room, getting closer and closer to the ground as it loses helium.

In its younger days, it would pass us in the hall or pay a visit as I cooked or washed dishes, still eye level and cheerful. But now, it's life force draining daily, it has become a lurking source of intimidation as it creeps about, surprising me as it silently follows me into the bathroom or drifts by my feet as I step out of bed in the morning.

But the true victims of this silent mylar nomad are the cats. I can tell that it's near when they either run on tiny legs, telescoped by fear, or leap backwards --achieving amazing heights -- as it approaches.

Why don't I just puncture it with a pencil and end its reign of terror? 
From king of the jungle to this...

Because it keeps us all  on our toes, that's why. Most importantly, it provides stimulation for a small herd of cats whose lives have been reduced to eating, sleeping and going poo poo while their less fortunate but more skilled couter parts are keeping their feline DNA sharp by scrounging for scraps in alleys.

I am doing this for the gene pool of cats everywhere. You're welcome.

Based on its altitude--or lack, thereof, I'd say its days are numbered anyway. But Seth is a balloon buyer, so there will be another mylar balloon to take its place....and keep the cats on their toes. Just like Ralph Macchio.

The nomad.

Friday, May 6, 2011

How Mothers and Trees Are Similar....

At first, you might not think that mothers and trees are similar beings but, upon closer inspection, the similarities cannot be ignored.

Trees and mothers come in many different sizes, shapes and colors.   

So do sofas for that matter…. but sofas are not brave steadfast and proud… trees, and mothers, are.  Trees put down roots so that their branches will grow strong and be nourished just like mothers do for their children.  

And, trees are appreciated, respected, enjoyed and also, occasionally, peed on, just like mothers.  They are also sometimes taken for granted as we lean against them for support not unlike how mothers are occasionally thought of, or not thought of, by their children.  

They are part of the landscape, dependably blending into the scene but when it’s raining we rush beneath their boughs for comfort and they become exactly what we need.  And, trees are beautiful…..just like mothers.
It is in the spirit of these similarities that we would like to wish those of you who are mothers, a very happy Mother's Day a few days early...and remind those of you who have moms, to call them. 

You only get one, after all.

I will be taking a wee break but will back here next Wednesday. Have a great weekend, everyone. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Stupid Is as Stupid Does. Take That, Catzilla!

I have a tall and gorgeous friend known as Catzilla who writes one of the funniest blogs in blogdom* but yesterday, girlfriend crossed the line.

She attempted to convince her readers that she is stupider than I am. 

I know! What was she thinking?

As those of you who have been following my blog are painfully aware (and, no doubt, wonder why I work tirelessly at trying to prove it**), not only is there no one stupider -- or inexplicably (even I don't know why) prouder of being stupid -- than yours truly.

And I am about to prove it again.

Sorry to have to do this to you, Cat. I was saving this final, and ultimate example, of stupidity for an emergency. I did not think the day would come so soon but thanks to your hilarious issues with the light switch in your bedroom, it has.

A while ago, before I could blame any sort of mind-fog on hormones and before I gave up coffee so that my brain was still sharpened by the coffee gods, I drove to the local post office, parked my car in one of the spaces right in front and stumbled in to take care of whatever minor crapola I there to take care of.

After loading up on stamps stamps and shmoozing a bit with the guys at the counter, I exited the building, gaily waving my little cellophane envelope (don't you just love those?) of commemoratives and my certified mail receipts only to be faced with two identical cars-- mine and its evil twin.

They were both the exact same make, model and color. Both had plates from the correct state.

"Oh," I thought. "A car exactly like mine (if these thoughts had a voice as I was thinking them, it would have sounded exactly like Scooby Doo's), how about that?"

So, I enter the car closest to the door only to notice that the front seats, unlike mine, were covered in a bold black and white cow fabric. It really was quite funky.

Instead of leaping out of the car in embarrassment because I had climbed into the wrong one, I actually had this thought (and here is where anyone who depends on me for anything at all, should become very, very scared), "Gee, I wonder when I bought these..."
They were exactly like these.

It took a full minute (or three) to realize that not only had I never purchased two matching, cow seat covers and leap out of the wrong car and into my own. Once in, I drove away so fast that I didn't even wonder until later why the other car was unlocked. There could have been a serial killer hiding in the back seats....or, an idiot behind the wheel.

If there had been a dog in it, I might have wondered when I got a dog.

So, Cat, I do apologize. While yesterday's post came close, I think that I have schooled you on the meaning of dumb. Top this. I dare you.

* Don't forget to check out Catzila vs. Life. And, for more fun,  don't miss her archives.

**For those of you confused as to why I would be trying to illustrate how incredibly stupid I am -- something that normal people try, on a daily basis to either disprove or keep under wraps, if you think about it, it all makes quite a bit of sense, now doesn't it. Read that again, it will make more sense a second time.
I hope I never see this sign anywhere.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I Remember Mama...

As Mother's Day approaches, I become increasingly sentimental. Here's a column I wrote last year for my mother's birthday.....

As I write this, my mother would have been 85 today. Her late September birthday would herald the cooler days she looked forward to after an un-airconditioned summer in the city. We’d celebrate surviving July and August along with her birthday as I was growing up.

Birthdays were simple and gifts were modest but if I had provided her with the kind of festivities she deserved, there would have been a marching band, thousands of balloons restrained in nets until the exciting moment of release and a call from the president.

My mother was born in the house I grew up in, in Brooklyn. One would never have guessed that her first language wasn’t English because she spoke it better than most.

She loved words and was an amazing writer who wrote fairy tales, poetry, short stories and letters that were so entertaining that no one lucky enough to receive one, ever threw it away. She was also a gifted artist whose drawings and paintings hang on my walls. Come over and I’ll show them to you.

She attended the Arts Student’s League in Manhattan and won an award, presented by Fiorello LaGuardia, for designing a coat that was produced and sold in Macy’s. When I was growing up, every single morning for about ten years, there would be a new, freshly drawn cartoon scotch-taped to the mirror in the bathroom.  It was a running comic strip starring our cats and I began every single day with laughter.

I have them all in a book now and when I need to, I bring it out and laugh and cry for a while.

She was a single mother way before it was the norm and, until the fifth grade, I was the only child in school whose parents were divorced.

We moved back to the house where my grandparents, aunts and uncle lived and I was treated like a princess by everyone within its’ sheltering walls. My mother saw to it that I wanted for nothing. It was a struggle for her but I was so busy being bounced from knee to knee that I didn’t notice.

Things, then, were repaired not tossed out once they broke, frayed or faded and she covered my books in paper supermarket sacks and made sure I used both sides of my notebook’s pages. She also made her own patterns and sewed my clothes. I would have been the best-dressed girl in Queen Victoria’s England.

The things she made were fabulous but insanely out-of-style and once I was old enough to realize this, I was pretty conflicted.

She came to her senses in time for my adolescence, thank God.  I got my first job then and have paid for my own clothes ever since.

Money was tight but books, records and an occasional trip to Broadway (we paid $4 for a mezzanine seat) were always squeezed into the budget.  By the time I was a teen, I’d seen Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the Roof, the original cast of Man of La Mancha and had enjoyed my share of ballets and concerts.

We’d always eat a pretzel from a cart on the street afterward or stop into a cafeteria on Broadway called Hector’s which is long gone but upon whose smooth railings I would slide my tray, still humming the music from the show. Rice pudding, served in a fluted dish, would always round out a meal there.

She’d take me to film festivals at the Regency Theater on the West Side and we’d walk for miles, taking the subway back to Brooklyn with aching feet and a grand feeling of accomplishment.

She was very mischevious.  When I was old enough to know better, she convinced me that plumbers used “plumber’s monkeys” that had been trained to do simple tasks and go into small spaces and I believed this until very recently.

She and I would laugh at everything, our sides aching and I never so much as stepped out for a carton of milk at the corner without kissing her goodbye. I would then kiss her hello, upon my return, five minutes later.

Was she perfect? Although I thought so when I was little, of course not. Did we fight? Like mad dogs let out of the pound. Did I rail against her restrictions when I was a teen, convinced that she was the most old-fashioned fuddy duddy on the face of the earth? You bet. Do I miss her every single day? You know I do. Happy birthday, Ma. See you in the funny papers.
Even though she's not smiling, this is one of my favorite pictures of my mother.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Royal Wedding-Hatless and In Pajamas.

Princess Beatrice wins for craziest hat.

In 1947, just two years after the devastation of WWII and in the midst of great hardship and sacrifice for England, Sir Winston Churchill referred to the grand hoopla surrounding the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II as a "flash of color on the hard road we have to travel."

But just recently, newsman Dan Rather, wrote a long condemnation of the coverage of last week's wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, citing a litany of horrific events that the images of the royal affairs had knocked from the headlines.

I think Dan disproved his own point with his meticulous enumeration. It is the relentless disaster and despair that elevate a story like the wedding to such popularity. It doesn't mean we've stopped caring about what's happening in the "real world but it may keep me from sniffing my Sharpie today. 

Royal wedding, distract me. Please!

With that in mind, I was awake on the morning of the nuptials, ready to watch from the snug comfort of my bed. Yet, today, in front, of my usual Sunday news shows, I was right back in the nightmare.

I felt a bit refreshed, however. It felt somewhat like after having returned from vacation because, for a few hours on Friday, I was in Westminster Abbey watching a parade of the most crazy-ass hats I have ever seen in my life, wondering why the Archbishop of Canterbury looked as if he'd been involved in a street brawl directly before performing the ceremony and realizing that the stuffed capon who entered the church in a morning coat was actually Elton John.

The presence of those hats, by the way, blew the whole "stiff upper lip" thing the British are famous for, right out of the water. They may be very restrained in terms of public demeanor but the truth came out in those spaceships, satellite dishes, canoes and live poultry that were perched upon the heads of the women sedately entering the church.

I also loved learning about British protocol from the commentators.
Lighten up. Look who you're married to.

For example, David Beckham, although fabulously handsome, commited a faux pas by wearing some silly medal on the wrong lapel (and whose wife, Posh Spice, appeared alarmingly catatonic in her attempt to seem dignified).

It was also mentioned that Queen Elizabeth does not sing along to "God Save the Queen" but it would have been much funnier if she had, perhaps punching the air a few times for emphasis, wouldn't it? I also learned that, at any social gathering, when she switches her handbag from one arm to the other, it's a signal to her aides to get her the hell out of there. Good to know.

I got caught up on all I'll ever need to know about curtsying, as well, which I intend to put to good use at Charlie's upcoming graduation. And they say women from Brooklyn don't have class. Ha!

I thought the bride looked gorgeous and her groom actually seemed happy in distinct contrast to the grim Charles in footage of his big day thirty years prior and I enjoyed a rare moment of benevolence, hoping that Kate and William live long happy lives together.

Pretty darn cute.
Being the mother of two boys of comparable ages to the princes, I enjoyed a hearty, private sob fest because their mama wasn't with them for the momentous occasion. I vowed, on the spot, to never drive away from the paparazzi at unsafe speeds.

London is one of the few places I have visited and it was lots of fun to see the streets taken over by happy crowds and scenes of a festive country -- for the most part and for the moment -- enjoying a day of celebration.

England has marked the weddings of their monarchs in similar fashion (with only an occasional subsequent beheading) for hundreds and hundreds of years. Why stop now?

So, Dan Rather, I'm sorry the whole event made you so cranky. I, for the most part, other than being worried that the terrifying eyebrows of the Archbishop would actually tickle the faces of the bride and groom as he read their vows, had a blast.
The Archbishop using his eyebrows to scare me.