Saturday, November 27, 2010

Everybody Boom-Dings Once In Awhile

When I was little, I wanted to be a game show hostess. Not like Vanna White, but more old-school with a subtler set of skills, like the ladies who stood in front of giant wrapped boxes and encouraged us all to imagine what might be in them.

My fascination bubbled over to include TV commercials and cooking shows, and I combined the two regularly in front of the bathroom mirror, mixing up whatever I could find in the medicine cabinet—shaving cream, toothpaste, talcum powder, aspirin—and explaining to the viewers out there what I was creating.

I have a similar approach to fashion, combining whatever’s there, as long as it’s in the right color palette. Can’t decide: pants or skirt? Wear both! For example: off-white corduroys, a pinky beige-patterned wrap skirt made from a silk saari, a leopard-spotted tank top, ruffly sand-colored sweater, crème-and-tan argyle socks, a striped velvet scarf that a neighbor was throwing out (1970s vintage!), earth-toned peacock feather earrings. A layer-cake take on dressing along the lines of macho frio, which was created, albeit with a different goal, by my friend Kate’s dad. I think I actually may be dressing like a 5-year-old, which is fine with me. Nothing better than beginner’s mind.

So, it’s no wonder I couldn’t sleep during my recent business trip to Seattle. I was too darn excited! The entire city is, as Sue, possibly-most-gracious-host-ever, put it, “a hodge-podge.” Hilly streets planted with tri-colored houses in which Muppets would feel right at home…here’s a Siamese-colored one with a blue door, landscaped with crazy floofy foliage reminiscent of divalicious cornstalks, a cherry Mustang ('67?) parked nearby; here’s one that looks like a peach-colored cuckoo clock with a big tree in front that Fozzie Bear might climb. The best part is that, since it’s all hilly, everything looks completely different when you’re at the bottom than when you get to the top, and your perspective is constantly changing on the way up. Always something new to see, something new to be.

And the kitties? Story book characters, too, especially naughty orange ones like Bertie and Cooper who go around sneaking into neighbors’ houses. And what do they do once inside? Oh, they might eye a collection of old bird’s nests or take a few pictures. Seriously.

This photo was taken by Cooper, who wears a teeny camera on his collar. You can buy his new book here!

And the birds! Beautiful big-mouthed crows everywhere, and gray-brown gulls with feathers patterned like pebbles along the shoreline, and look to the right, over at 2 o’clock…a bald eagle! My first. Water, water everywhere, and some big-a$$ mountains that didn’t scare me at all. Tall trees, small trees, and green, green, green.

I really liked Seattle, everybody!

What to listen to when you’re running up that hill

When I was trying to think of a song to accompany this post, after a couple of tries this one cued up in my head. There’s a bicycle bell and a horn on it, which I thought was hodge-podgy--but it’s so carefully built that it shows that hodge-podge doesn’t mean thrown together without design. And all the vocals from “I wanna cry” on sound like the up-and-down of rolling hills.

Here’s an amazing video on the making of this song. I totally freaked out when I saw the Muppet. It’s where I stole the title for this post, too:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another One for the Puff

Like most cats, Puff was all about living in the present (face it, they pretty much have us beat on that one)—so it does feel a little weird to me to be writing a special post on the anniversary of her death. But I did buy roses for her today, a whispery purple that looked in the gray afternoon light like the velveteen backs of her ears…my favorite part of Puffer.

When I brought them home they blushed under the brighter lamp in the living room, a demure and decidedly baby pink…and I thought of the first time I saw Miss P, on what was just her third day in the world, and again on the day she came to join our family.

My song for her then and my song for her now:

P.S. Puffelina is editor-in-chief emeritus of this blog.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I Am Woman?

As I was falling asleep last night, Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" started playing in my head.

WTF?! Was it the wine and chocolate chips? Whatevs, it brought me back to little girl-hood and thinking that being a woman meant you were some sort of predator in a peach jumpsuit who sounded like Flo from Mel’s Diner.

I saw no connection between myself, a chubby kid cloaked in anxiety and dark green polyester pants, and an adult female. No way would I get there.

Honestly—and I held this belief way up into my college years—my definition of a woman encompassed 3 criteria: A woman carried a purse, wore pantyhose and accepted with complacence being strapped/trapped in a bullet-cupped brazeer.

The words purse and pantyhose were/are both squirm-inducing for me, so no, you can’t really substitute stockings, which sounds cute and has Christmas connotations, or pocketbook, which makes me think of Charlie’s Angels, who were tough and cool and pretty. You know, like you might find a shiny tube of red lipstick and a gun inside a pocketbook.

Geesh. I know this all reveals something very sad and twisted-up all wrong. And maybe if I’d seen that performance by Helen Reddy, who is like flying on estrogen or something in that clip, I’d have gotten that being a woman is not such a bad thing after all.

Well, since I adored animals I could at least relate to the ‘hear me roaring’ bit. Born Free was one of my favorite stories, and Elsa the lioness is to this day one of my heroes. Joy Adamson called her “a lion of two worlds”—she lived in the wild and raised a family but had a human family, too—whom she’d visit regularly and of her own choosing. A beautiful, bad-a** cat who breaks the rules in the best way possible.

So no, Elsa didn’t carry no dang purse, but she was both strong and gentle. And able to stand on her own two—er, four—feet.

You kick butt, Elsa. So yeah, thanks for helping me revise my definition.

What is/was yours? And dudes, I wanna hear from you, too!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Space, Balls

Rockport, MA. First thing I see for the past four mornings: big fat ocean, big fatter sky, and a "Hold on, just putting on my blush!" from the sun. I'm drunk and delirious from the pull of the tides, feet and nose and hair all "Got to Give It Up" to the sea air. The amount of sheer space in this place high and low...riotous!

A much better beginning for this post than I'd planned last week while riding the M14 bus, where mini battles play out endlessly over who'll be the first to plunk their lazy, selfish, lard ass in a seat. What bugs me most are the people who automatically sit on the aisle-side of a two-seat row. For some reason, most riders opt to stand up rather than make the person in the aisle seat move if the window seat is vacant, which ultimately is an inefficient use of space and makes the aisle even more crowded. A good friend goes out of his way to ask the aisle sitters to move in, but I don't want to even get started on that bad energy-building path... I'll no doubt get crankier than I already am at having to fight for, oh, 3 precious inches of personal space.

(Cats, of course, have their own set of rules about these things.)

So...a morning sky and ocean that fill every inch of the 3 windows in my room at the inn, and then some? The kind of thing that gets you jonesin' bigtime for space when you don't have it anymore.

I love you, sky, for being all big and empty. I love you, ocean, for never clocking out at quitting time.

And in the words of my favorite poet Keith Richards, whose description of "Heartbreak Hotel" I'm stealing to explain how I feel about space: "It was bare, right to the roots that you had a feeling were there but hadn't yet heard...The silence is your canvas, that's your frame, that's what you work on; don't try and deafen it out."

Songs to space out to

Dead ya have it. One of my favorite Beach Boys songs, this gem has not one but two periods when it just stops. And sits. And waits.

And I can see a setting sun wanting to choreograph to this one: