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Archive for December, 2011

You know what the Advent Calender window had behind it on Christmas Eve? Annie insisted that Paul be the one to open it, so I speculated that it would be a picture of Tweedy. But not really. Perhaps a picture of a bottle of Polar Seltzer, black cherry flavor. No. Maybe a fully-decorated Christmas tree. So wrong. It was an ICE DRAGON in the tiny double window. I love my kids!

Got my first iPod nano from Hubby for Xmas. It is tiny, so tiny. I feel dangerous when I have it on. Am I the only one and will this feeling pass? Are there any iPod virgins left? I look forward to loading hundreds of songs onto it. I am figuring it out, but as intuitive as Apple products are reputed to be, I find it klunky and somewhat unfriendly. I also couldn’t figure out how the little fucker clips on to my clothes. Hubby had to show me. Why, Santy Apple Claus, why, do you insist on making me feel dumber than I really am?

Christmas was good. This is the first year since we moved to Western Mass in which I didn’t feel financially stressed more often than not. Eleven years of living in the bliss/hell of self-employment in a New England state, so different than when we lived in Ohio. I am so grateful that our income was more predictable this year. It’s amazing what that does to my ease my mind.

Best present given this year? Behold the perfect gag gift for the consummate lover of Polar Seltzer in our house:

Be afraid, be very afraid!

I am grateful for this blog, for the technology which allows it, for my readers, for the kindness of those who leave comments.

I am grateful that I started writing poetry again and not only that, grateful to be reading it again

Grateful that I was able to take an improv class this year.

Glad that I celebrated 20 years of marriage. Glad that we get to go away to amazing places within a few hours’ drive, stay overnight, eat, shop, walk, swim, hike, visit friends, hear cool musicians, see amazing art.

Grateful that I found out about and saw Gogol Bordello.

Grateful that I got to go to my 30-year HS reunion, see lots of old pals (including my biggest high school crush, which was a hoot), stroll about Kent, Ohio, home of myself, land of the birth of my adulthood*, have that nude photo shoot in a garden in the heat and flower of summer.

Grateful for all the cool music I’ve discovered this year, in part because of the technology and youtube, but more because I do stick to my Music Monday posts. Especially my new-found love for all things Wilco and Tweedy.

Grateful that Willow was in our life.

Annie’s shrine to Willow (detail, not the whole thing), which includes a nail-polish painted (I kid you not, my kids are goofy) white bathroom tile

That is an origami Willow with a little paper bird (crane) in its mouth. Annie must have made a thousand paper cranes on her own this year and went on a bit of an origami adventure. SO GREAT!

My latest fad of photographing bathrooms from our travels. This is from the newly opened Atlantic Pizza Company in Rockport, MA. One of the prettier public restrooms in New England (this photo does not do the bathroom justice)

And this, the environmentally-friendly Euro-loo at The Wired Puppy, Provincetown, Mass

Grateful for any way that a reader might find my blog. Truly, the most abundant search term seems to be some manifestation of “ass tattoo.” That’s not even the most ass of the ass tattoo searches. Ready? I’ve had to live with this and I think if you’ve made it a year here, you will be able to live with it, too: asshole tattoo. You can imagine that I don’t want to know more about asshole tattoos. I do not think someone was thinking, hmm, how many assholes (meaning people who are jerks, idiots, morons) have tattoos? No, I take it as a literal search for tattoos on people’s assholes. First of all, OUCH and second, DUMB and third, if you want a tattoo on your asshole, you’ve come to the wrong place–begone with ye!

Thanks for coming along for the ride this year. Who knows, I may post again before we see the dawn of 2012, but ciao for now and thank you.

With tres mucho love, twinkly

this one is from the uber-tacky, red-and-white tiled bathroom at Five Guys Burger and Fries on Cape Ann

*for some reason, this seems like I’m talking about my maidenhead: why, Santy Claus, why?

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Nothing major to play today, I am uninspired. No post-Christmas blues, no Boxing Day celebrations.

Somehow, I missed Mazzy Star when they were around. I don’t know much about them (in spite of wiki), nor do I really care. This song has all the makings of a song I’d normally hate, the self-conscious, almost-droning vocals, the slow tempo which could turn disastrous in the hands of less careful singer. I tend to have a visceral reaction to voices that are pushed down and self-conscious; too many layers of effort. This can also manifest itself in over-reaching and over-modulating, so common in a lot of popular singing nowadays.

Somehow, Hope Sandoval manages to squeak in under the tendency to over-emotionalize her voice: she almost doesn’t enunciate, but she does enunciate. She is breathy, but just short of what would be pretentiously breathy.

I am familiar with only 3 of Mazzy Star’s songs–Into Dust, Halah, and the better-known Fade Into You, all of which I like very much. I like that this song is reminiscent of the VU–it’s retro, it’s trippy. It makes me want to turn the snowflakes on on my blog, but they’d be psychedelic swirling snowflakes, acid green and purple.

The lyrics are pure poetry as paired with the music, if you can stand the slow pace.

Sorry about the sappy visuals even though I kind of like the Man Ray-like eyelash with a tear suspended and the snowy lane. There’s a more tolerable live version, but I chose this for some reason.

Warning: this song not recommended for long winter road trips in the dark

Into Dust

Still falling
Breathless and on again
Inside today
Beside me today
A round broken in two
’til your eyes shed into dust
Like two strangers turning into dust
’til my hand shook the way I fear

I could possibly be fading
Or have something more to gain
I could feel myself growing colder
I could feel myself under your face
Under…your face

It was you
breathless and torn
I could feel my eyes turning into dust
And two strangers turning into dust
Turning into dust.

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I have been to Prague once, in December of 2008. Paul had a conference, not a mandatory thing, but we decided, due to decades of stories of Prague’s beauty, to seize the opportunity and go. The kids seemed old enough to leave for a week with my mother; it wasn’t Winter Break yet, the kids would be occupied, my mother would still have the middle of the day to herself.

Indeed, as much as me and jet lag don’t get along, the city proved to be worth dragging my ass a ways ’round the globe for.

Although Christmas Markets in Europe tend to be in Germanic countries, Prague, with its proximity and on-going trade with Germany, also has a one in its huge town square. I have mixed feelings about angels and for the most part find the concept to be overly saccharine and alternately creepy. But this one was truly enchanting. I use it as my Facebook photo sometimes around the holidays:

I went to a Christmas Market in Germany once, a small one, near where my cousins and aunt live in the Rhine Valley. It gave me the creeps. When I think of the Glühwein and the pretty decorations, the lights, singing, and trees, I think of my drunken grandfather, of rape, and of the Nazis. Friends sing the praises of the German advent season, but I want to scream. I am not trying for this, but growing up with a German mother who herself grew up in Nazi Germany, and having had an aunt who was a survivor of Auschwitz, I come by it honestly.

Prague, however, was different. Because I was not in the country or culture of my mother’s birth, I was able to “take what I liked and leave the rest.”

Certainly, our favorite thing was trdlo or trdelnik (from the treadle onto which they were traditionally rolled). We spent every next 3 or 4 bucks on one every time we got more money. They are ridiculously delicious, piping hot and smoky, rolled in ground nuts, cinnamon, and sugar:

Not all of the booths had live coals; some of the trdlo (we affectionately referred to them as “turd-lo,” because who puts t-r-d in a row without a vowel? Damn Slavic languages!) were cooked over electric coils. They were all the same damn delectable though.

Here are some more photos from our visit to Prague in 2008. If you have a chance to go, do. Everywhere you look is beauty.

There are 4 quarters in Prague, if memory serves. The following photos are from the Castle Quarter and the Old Quarter:

details, baby, details:

who doesn’t succumb to the temptation of a little golden serpent once in a while?

wealth:

wealth, in detail:

Crazy Euro-Christmas shit, in case you think Americans are the only ones with a tacky sense of the season. This was outside the huge castle on the big hill overlooking the whole of Prague, an entire straw nativity scene. Dig Mary’s crazy straw boobs:

No no no, my pets, the beauty doesn’t end there:

The penitent are all over Prague. I never saw a woman doing this, but plenty of men, real ones, not the cast-in-bronze kind:

A blind accordion player on the Charles Bridge

Crazy medieval Death, right on the wall of a church, where Death should be:

Prague is not averse to modern cool. Dig Frank Gehry’s Ginger and Fred:

And the last beauty of Prague? Yours truly, complete with ugly green down coat, on one of the bridges spanning the Vltava (again with the Slavic consonants!):

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Above is a photo of some of the sheep at my daughter’s school. You can’t really tell, but behind them (and all around their enclosure) is wool embedded into the chicken wire fence. It is an installation by a local artist, Nancy Milliken, called Walling In. All the while it was going up onto the fence I thought, “hmmm…..now isn’t that interesting and not altogether attractive?” But I will tell you: I drive from the south side of Bay Rd (the road that used to take folks from points west to the Bay, in Boston) and as the road bends, the fence is fully visible as it spills down the hill. It’s beautiful. I love it.

You’ll find a better photo of the whole fence on Nancy Milliken’s website. You’ll also find a photo of a rooster from the school. This rooster. Isn’t he pretty?

Look at the chicken wire up close:

You know I don’t love wool. I used to not be able to wear it at all–the itching and coarseness. When we moved to the Pioneer Valley, it was almost sacrilege not to wear wool, let alone to not like it. Try taking that a step further from the bubble of the Pioneer Valley into the even smaller community that is our local Waldorf school. Wool in our Waldorf school is to clothing like manna is to food. It’s practically heaven-sent and good for anything that ails you. In fact, it is probably edible in some form or another, just ask the Handwork-slash-Ag Arts teacher. I used to hate wool. I sort of still do. Slowly, over the last 11 years, my body seems to have adjusted to it a little: I can wear some wool-blend socks, as long as the percent of wool isn’t too high. I can wear my wool coat because it has a thick polar-fleece lining. I cannot wear a wool scarf directly next to my skin, even the Smartwool kind. I do have a lovely pink and black polka-dot hat that is merino wool and I can wear that.

Maybe it doesn’t matter so much, all of this wool. It’s the Solstice, December 22, and it’s raining in New England. I am sure up in the hill towns and in the mountains there is some snow. Rain in December. What happened to our climate? You probably don’t need wool in New England until January nowadays.

Silk is the other natural fiber one must acquaint oneself with in New England. My initial reaction when told I must wear silks in the winters here was to turn my nose up. The nerve! Me, who was somewhat “tactile defensive” as a child (they just told you to behave or slapped you when I was a kid, no such thing as tactile defensive). I remember a particular episode when I had to wear tights and how I screamed my head off in protest. I did eventually learn to wear silk long underwear and I fell in love with the warmth and softness and the not-overwhelming level of heat that they keep in (unlike a lot of synthetics which can make me too warm unless I’m outside and not moving).

I love new kitty SO MUCH:

Here is the latest photo of the advent calender:

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One of my favorite Tim Minchin songs (you can read my earlier Tim Minchin Music Monday post, too):

I don’t have much to add. The Advent calender is coming along beautifully, I haven’t figured out much about Christmas presents, and we don’t have our tree yet.

Oh, and Tim Minchin’s daughter’s name is Violet–he gets bonus points for that, as if I didn’t like him enough already.

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Since I used the phrase don’t cotton to in a poem the other day, I thought I should give credit where credit is due and see if I could find something about its history on teh interwebs.

Here is what I found on wiki answers (probably not the greatest authority on such matters, but I did find my copy, without actually trying, by way of cleaning off a shelf, of Charles Earle Funk’s Hog on Ice the other day. Said book was referenced by our dear Uncle Doug in a comment on yet another recent blog post in which I wrote a bit about other idiomatic and/or folksy sayings). But Monsieur Funk had not a word to say about don’t cotton to, so take it away wiki:

This phrase dates from somewhere in the 16th Century. Originally, it was a textile term – to “cotton” or “cotton well” referred to the success of the fibers melding together to form cotton cloth. Around the 16th Century, the phrase began to be used to mean “to be successful,” or “to prosper” in reference to people and things. About the 19th Century, the phrase “to cotton to” began to see use, and meant “to be drawn to” or “to get along with.”

If you do not “cotton to” something, then you don’t care for it. This phrase is particularly common in the South, where the cotton industry formed the basis for the economy for many years.

Howdy, folks! It’s me again (so you know this isn’t still wiki). Any thought that this phrase has to do with African American slaves and cotton is not to be found…such association would likely be based on one’s tendency to connect the wrong dots with the right instincts. Or is that the right dots with the wrong instincts? Help. This could keep me awake all night or some portion thereof. Maybe I am obsessive. Or compulsive. Or chronic.

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I woke up this morning with all good will. Let’s start with that….

The use of color at a Waldorf school. Witness the chalks that the teacher uses to create….well, just that, to create:

My first visit to Marblehead, Massachusetts (yet another wealthy New England town that made its fortune on shipping, ie, trade in spices, cloth, rum, tobacco, sugar cane, and slaves (as if humans are the same as the rest of the things on this list, but that would be another post entirely, wouldn’t it?)

Chris Smither, who we saw in Marblehead on Friday night, at the Me and Thee Coffeehouse

old enough kids (old enough for me not to be in the thick of motherhood, but young enough for me to still be in the thick of motherhood)

8,000 blog hits which I reached TODAY in spite of having a blog which features a. poems (who reads poetry any more? and most of them weren’t even about sex) and b. gratitude, o, cynics, and c. not photos of naked women, or naked women with large breasts, real or silicone-d, or naked women with small breasts, or posts about Justin Bieber, Radiohead, &c.

I just used &c instead of etc. I have never done that in my life. How cool is that?

So, I know that 8,000 is a relatively low number for blog hits and it’s sort of measly, but I like it. In fact, I love it!

I have been blogging for almost a year and I only wanted to throw in the towel once (about 2 weeks ago) for about 3 days and I love that, too

new cat

What’s that twinkly? Yes, you heard right. New cat, who remains as yet unnamed (we think Strider, but eldest daughter protesteth). Here she is, retrieved from the vet that was fostering her for Dakin. She’s a beauty, but was in pretty bad shape from her previous owner and probably from the stress of living in a shelter down in Springfield for 2 months…she had fleas, earmites, nausea. She’s scrawny and has lots of matted fur and a distended belly. She’s around 2 years old and gets up and eats every time I go in the room where she’s staying for now. We love her already

You know what happened by this evening, right? This is what I found out at about 4 pm…

While I’m glad that I called and emailed the White House (oh, yes, so grateful for that), I really want Obama and the entire Democratic party to grow a pair. So I guess I’m not thankful. But trying to stave off ranting by being grateful for all the other stuff.

I better stick to beauty…

and smart, talented men:

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