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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tim Buckley

A friend of mine, Mike Plumbley, introduced me to the music of Tim Buckley about 10 years ago now. NPR has a "first listen" of "Live at the Folklore Center, NYC - March 6, 1967." Give it a shot, you won't be disappointed.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Carousel

Some good memories were made today courtesy of the North Bay Carousel on the waterfront.

This is my daughter, SarahAnn... every time I think she's been captured in the best picture, she comes up with one more even better than the last.

I think I'm going to start a blog soley for SarahAnnie's meditation poses...

Even the folks from "For Better or For Worse" showed up -- God bless Lynn Johnston's humour...

Chipmunks (pronounced for the longest time "chickmonks" by SarahAnnie) read good books...


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kimya Dawson's New Song... Love it!!!

Kimya Dawson is more than a Grammy award winning singer/songwriter... she's a divine human being with a great big heart and I just love her. Dig the new song... she's 10 going on oldtimer.

The End of Winter

Ironic to be posting this in the middle of summer... originally written on 3/29/09.


It’s the end of the winter. For some people that means the snow will finally melt into rivulets (or flood zones) of running water and the gritty gravel will clot into mud pies, soaking sneakers pounding out a heartbeat in a neighbourhood park. For others, it means that the place that was kept open all winter long, 24/7 will close and lock its doors in the evening and Saturdays at noon. No warm place to go other than the Rainbow Mall or a local laundromat until 10:00 p.m. The winter has brought these people in and had them form another version of their anti-social stratosphere in a building complete with toilets, shower stalls, tables and chairs. They are not happy campers.

The volunteers in the soup kitchen are not generally people who fear their customers. When voices begin to rise, the fry cook might look up from her eggs. Somebody refilling ketchup bottles might pause, look out in the dining room and shrug. Sometimes the voices being raised are propelled by auditory hallucinations; so the person is, in effect, arguing with himself. What begins as kidding by two clients who know one another well enough to kid can escalate in a matter of one joke to two jokes to a shouting match. Everyone is walking a tight wire.

There’s a hookah pipe in between two tables, balanced against the wall. There’s an almost empty pint of vodka hidden partially by an aqua, round-bottomed plastic chair. Someone left a swallow or two, probably not intentionally. It’s unusual for drugs or alcohol to make it into the dining room. You’ll find sharps in the bathroom and crack pipes in the stairwell. I’ve overheard a woman say, “I need five bucks for a cab -- make it fast.” We’re not at the local A&P or the library. It’s a soup kitchen. It’s not a solution, sometimes it’s just a warmer place to be.

Debbie says I have mercy. Mercy is my spiritual gift. I want to deny her and cynically say, “Mercy for whom? I was one of them.” Supposing there is an “us” and “them.” There is. Kim leans in and says, “Sometimes I can’t read the report book. It just hurts to know.”

An entry from a couple days back: “Found a group of 8 to 12 year old boys out in the front, counting pills.”

A volunteer quietly offers, “8 to 12 year old boys know right from wrong.” There is hope in wanting a child to have a conscience not ripped to shreds before puberty. Some would accuse her of judgement, but if you were always judging you wouldn’t last a month in the kitchen. She’s lasted years. She’s watched the plates of food come back with two whole pieces of toast, untouched. She’s strained the liquid from a concoction of cereal, milk, molasses, ketchup and pepper into the slop bucket and scraped peanut butter from the underside of the same bowl. Water washes it all away and crank addicts love Count Chockula in the morning, so what else is new.

We stand there in awkward silence, smiling with raised eyebrows. Hmmm. Do we have any meat today? If you want to donate to a soup kitchen – for God’s sake, don’t give them soup. Give them meat. One of the first lessons I learned in “we cook what we have” was pastrami mixed in with scrambled eggs. Pastrami? Hold the sauerkraut, please! When we don’t have meat, we serve baked beans.

I get to serve the food today because Moe and Kim are cooking and Kathryn’s home not feeling well. “Do you want beans and eggs?” “Toast?” “Oh, you want wheat toast, not white.” “You want burnt toast – four slices.” “No ends of the bread.” “No, we don’t have bacon, just beans.” “Wait a minute, Mildred – you don’t eat meat anyway!”

Mildred grins at me and says, “I have sausage once a month at Williams’s restaurant. They have good sausage.”

Claude comes up to the counter. His left eye is swollen shut. “Got any breakfast for after a beating?” he quips. Kim questions over my shoulder, still flipping eggs, “Hey, what happened? Did that just happen?” “Nah,” he says, “it was three days ago. Two guys jumped me in back of a store. They beat on me some and I really wanted to fight back, but I didn’t. I curled up like this…” He curls into himself, ducks his head, scrunches his shoulders. Shrugs. “I did manslaughter already, had to do the time for that and I’m not doing it again. I’m just not.” He smiled. I looked at his hands and the knuckles were bent, wrongly. Kind of like a person with arthritis. I knew it wasn’t arthritis. “I didn’t fight back; I didn’t want to do the time again. But it itched, man, it itched.”

That was huge for him. It was like the million watt light bulb going off in my brain seeing that if the politicians wanted to know if jail time rehabilitated criminals – it sure stopped them from defending themselves. Yeah buddy, that’s brilliant. I measured out a spoonful of baked beans and gave him two eggs instead of just one.

I wanted to say something to him. I wanted to pat him on the back and say, “Wow, man… I heard you. I really heard you. That was huge.” I watched him eat and nod to the people who nodded to him. He repeated his story to those who asked, clenching and unclenching those twisted knuckles as he talked.

Did you ever know that it was your moment to say something profound and meaningful to another human being and you watched it pass by like the 78th out of 125 plates? From one hand to another, I passed the plate for two slices of toast and Claude disappeared outside the door into the cold.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Good Year and a Good Quote

Two presents for today... Peter Mayle's "A Good Year" with Russell Crow and Marion Cotillard. Here is an interview with Peter Mayle.

And a good quote that I've run smack into two times in the last forty-eight hours. Three times and I'm cooked!

"And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anais Nin

Until tomorrow then... bonne nuit.

The Measuring Tape Debacle

One of the things I keep finding out is that I already contain the majority of answers that I'm looking for and I just wish I could somehow make that magically appear at my upper arms instead of having to do the work to get them back. I already know that if you exercise your muscle tone changes, you aren't nearly as sore, you feel better stress-wise and you are less likely to be surly and prod people's egos with your middle finger.


I'm watching my body age. My soup-kitchen buddy, Kim, and I were talking about how the definition of young keeps changing and how it used to be easy to tell someone's age and now it is not so easy. And it's weird because I don't want my youth back. It's been a long struggle uphill to get to 44 and I feel like I'm sitting on a pinnacle somewhere in the Andes and looking around going *whew*... ok... what's next? Except that I know, for me, that I'm probably at the foothill instead of the peak.

One thing that has become very apparent to me lately is that the truth about whales isn't just a story about what my abusers did to me -- it's a story about one singular abuser -- me. It's about what I did to SueAnn. And all of the self-help books in the world could probably congregate in the middle of the city and be put to a slow fiery death and I would still have to go look in that mirror eventually.

I had a dream the night before last to measure myself. So I got up the next morning, got showered and dressed and went after the measuring tape. Guess what? I picked out this little dinky Bank of America measuring tape that I picked up somewhere and it stopped at 40 inches... so I got around my chest and it stopped about 5 inches (or 6) shy of actually being able to measure anything. I started laughing. Well, what the hell else are you supposed to do but laugh? Then I hollered for my husband to get the camera... we'll take a picture for the blog. Ha, ha... look at this, I can't get the measuring tape around me! He took the first picture and I looked at my face. I couldn't do it... the look of pain on my face is too humiliating to post. These people are supposed to be getting to know me, I don't want to scare them off in the second post! Take another one. Same look. Take a third... now it just looks like a passport photo.

In the end, I couldn't post it. I didn't want you to see the sadness in my eyes.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thank you, Julie Powell

My daughter went to a birthday party tonight at Build-a-Bear. There are only so many opportunities to go on an actual date with my husband, Chris, and not have to pay a babysitter. The night didn't get off to a very good start. There was some miscommunication in two women trying so very hard not to inconvenience one another and we were standing in the Build-a-Bear with all of the fur-lined backpacks and sparkly Hannah Montana flip flops with a lady who called herself "Grandma" saying, "Why don't you and your husband join the party?"

Lady -- I don't want to join the party, I want to go to dinner with my husband and get to "Julie and Julia" by 6:40 p.m. She was insistent and her dentures kept clicking, punctuating her invitation. Well, I'm a Taurus with a Leo ascension. Guess who won?

Chris and I ended up at Boston Pizza anyway waiting for the child's mother to arrive so we could politely ask her to completely abandon our child to her care while we trotted off to hold hands in the dark. She said, "Yes!" Halle-freakin'-lujah.

I didn't really know what to expect of the movie. I saw the trailers and laughed at the high-pitched whine of Meryl's Streep's Julia Child. I love Amy Adams in anything and the scene where she's on the floor having a tantrum was adorable.

What I didn't count on was the writer's voice in that movie. Nora Ephron did an impeccable job blending the two stories -- but it was Julie's story that caught and held my attention. Here is this woman working listening to people's troubles after 9/11 and you can tell she's trying her very best to do a good job, be attentive and caring... and they don't care who she is or how hard she's trying. Of course they don't, they have problems a lot larger and more important. Doesn't everyone? And she's struggling and trying to find what it is about her that is going to make a difference at all. Of course I'm making all of these teenage wistful assumptions based solely on the movie -- but that's what caught me. Someone who really wanted to make a difference and found a way to do it.

Julia Child's husband told her at one point in the movie, "Your book will be published and it will be something that changes the world." Oh, how I wish... how I wish.

I've begun my blog at www.blogger.com. I'm giving it the same title that I gave my book. Warning: I don't always write about happy things. I am the Janis Ian of blogging, I'm certain. I do write honestly, however, and I write with humor even when discussing morbid obesity. I hope you enjoy it. I hope you enjoy it so much that I get published and my book changes the world.

Thank you, Julie Powell... you gave me hope. You did it!