Archive for May, 2008

spring is the time…

for changes.

And thunk goes the cliche. But it’s funny how these truths kind of tap you on the shoulder and remind you.

The finches are moulting. Quite natural. Except I forgot that they do that. The two sleep together, tucked inside their little cigar box high above their perches, which is very dear and melts my heart. They’ve been doing that alot though. And eating less. Flying less. Doing everything else less, actually. So quiet. But it was their puffiness, this porcupine-feather thing they had going on  that had me alarmed. I added up all the changes and wondered if they were goners!

After some research, and noting evidence of feathers on their floor, this seems to be what’s at hand. It’s why they are pulling at their feathers, and at each other’s; grooming excessively. It’s a stress on birds when they moult. Poor things. Of course it is. Losing anything, for better or worse, is a big adjustment. But they’ll have even more beautiful, bright feathers to show for it.

Research has also confirmed that Felix is indeed male, but geriatric, owing to the faded color of his beak, which is rather discrepit, and might also suggest malnutrition in his past.  It would explain why Miles so easily assumed the role of alpha-male. Felix has always seemed the more docile and the weaker of the two. Well, now I know. I just love the way these two, unlike any of my other pets since Friday and Charlie, are so clearly bonded. Good for them.

If I seem a bit obssessive with my animals, well, perhaps I am. My late sister Wallado (not of course, her real name…Pentyne christened her as such when she was learning to talk) and I had a cat named Baby when we lived together a long time ago. One day, Wallado brought Baby in from the petshop, and that was that. It was so easy to name her, she really was a baby. I used to let her eat pizza at the table. On her own plate. This did not go over well with Wallado’s strict sense of propriety; but then, I’ve seen taped evidence of Wallado singing Happy Birthday to her crazy dog Jade, and presenting her with her own doggy birthday cake. I think everyone present was wearing birthday hats, if memory serves correctly. My  birds are prepared a three course meal of  eggs, brown  rice and a veggie, everyday, in addition to their seed and millet sprays. I think my animals were the children I had before I realized that I might actually want a child.

How is your spring going, peeps? Our garden is nearly planted, and we’ll be setting up our hummingbird feeder. I highly recommend hummingbird feeders. They are so much fun to watch. I’ve missed the hummingbirds, bless them. Anyhoo, happy spring!



I’ve been attempting to get the kiddo to do some daily yoga with me. I need to get the edge off and figured it would qualify as nice Mommy and Me time. She always evades me with “tomorrow, maybe”. Which never comes. The kiddo often employs this sort of evasiveness instead of outright defiance when she doesn’t want to do something like, say, pick up her toys. So civil, she is, as though she were pondering not a direct order from her authority, but rather, an invitation to tea. Maddening.

Tonight, I took her out in her cozy coupe to the school out in back of our neighborhood. It’s a nice area where people often walk their dogs. We saw a miniature Doberman. I had no idea this breed had gone miniature too. Cute. My favorite breed, the Boston Terrier, is already quite miniature enough. If they ever miniaturize the Rotties, another favorite, it will be a crying shame. They are such beautiful, magnificently built dogs. I think the effect of their power and strength would be lost in miniature.

Anyhoo, she discovered the track. Voila! A new activity…let’s see how many times we can run around the track underneath the hurdles! Four times. Without breaking a sweat. Smiling the entire time, looking absolutely beautiful and in the moment.  I’m impressed. She’s besotted.


Isn’t it unnerving when an actor you’ve just watched in a recent movie dies? I’ve always enjoyed seeing Sydney Pollack pop up somewhere in a movie. Sometimes, that was the only enjoyable experience that registered (um, Eyes Wide Shut). He was so good at playing lawyers, and there he was in Michael Clayton (excellent). And now he’s gone.

For me it will be a strange day when Paul Newman isn’t with us anymore. A world without Paul Newman? Unimagineable!  I have no real interest in knowing celebrities personally, but he’s someone I think I’d actually like. A generous soul with a sense of humor. There are no eyes that twinkle like his, and Nobody’s Fool, among so many other great movies of his, holds a soft spot in my heart. I’ve enjoyed the glee he took in his bad guy characters (Hudsucker Proxy). He gave the distinct impression that he was having an absolute blast.

what the water gave me

So I picked up Atonement at the library for the weekend. And watched it last night. I knew it would be beautiful and lush; I’d read the raves regarding its cinematography so prettily capturing what was beautiful of the ’30’s era, one which I love. And I knew it was some sort of tragedy; a four hanky weeper. So I steeled myself up. I would not, would NOT cry. I would not be manipulated by a fiction. Nuh-uh.

It delivered the goods. All of them. I sat in the darkness, melting under my resolve. Anticipating the moment when my heart would be broken beneath the weight of the tragedy of it all. Oh no…. here it is. Here it comes. NO. I will not! Not. Drat, here I go. Buggar!!!

But it’s not a love story, in soul. And I’m not sure that I was reacting entirely to it as such. Behind the flourishes of romance, it’s actually a religious story, in the manner that the best of Graham Greene’s novels are. Thus its title. “Well duh“, I told myself; “for what other reason would a love story be called Atonement?”

And though when I hear the word atonement Judaism actually comes to mind, I felt myself unearthing buried emotions of my Catholic upbringing, which I’ve resented and railed against privately (Roz, Dear Mom, would be so deflated. Only one of us stuck to the faith. It wasn’t me. We’ve never really spoken about it directly. I don’t have the heart to throw her into the fits of the exasperation she gets into when confronted by this issue. But that’s another story.).

I don’t resent my Catholic religion entirely. I like Jesus very much. I miss my saints; the ones I’d arranged and rearranged on my stand in a tiny bedroom and spoke to in private every day at a certain elementary age. I’d reasoned that they knew what it was to suffer excruciating, terrible torture. I did too. I told only them.

But beyond the nostalgia and comfort of this certain past, I recognized, as I took in the imagery of water and its symbolic properties of birth, renewal, purification, and destruction; as I recognized the figures of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Mary, and Judas and their experiences, that there were remnants of the old religion that perhaps contributed to, or supported, my nature. That gave me something. I was not prepared for that little revelation.

Briony/Judas taught me the most; the main characters are your straight forward versions of Christ and Magdalene (I adore her too. What amazing characters and stories the Bible has.). Though I’d felt a savage desire to reach through the tube and brutally strangle her after I’d clawed her face to a pulp; though I’d hoped she’d endure a terrible, disfiguring disease or meet her doom in a freak accident, it was her voluntary atonement among all the other atonements in the story, and her character development that shed the most light.

Although a pampered member of the upper class, armed with a freakishly precocious imagination, and clearly a writing talent, she forgoes Cambridge to become a nurse, like her betrayed sister Cee. Of course. There it is. Cleansing wounds, cleansing, over and over again; the unrelenting evidence of cruelty and its senseless acts (here, the war; before, her betrayal), that soil the world, repeatedly, inevitably. Perhaps healing. Mightily attempting, above all, to salvage what is precious, even if in the end, we cannot (think Christ). What better can we do?

I have quibbles with atonement. Too much guilt glued to it. What is called sin I see as lessons. Do better when you know better, as my sister says. I’ve felt through experience that the church of my childhood focused too much upon the dirt of sin, but I can now understand, on a personal level (don’t get me started on the early “washing” of a notorious scandal that the church was responsible for), the impulse, even need, to wash what hurts too much; what doesn’t make sense, in the world or inside of our natures. To set to right. White. Clean. The way my family does, figuratively and literally, when we experience such things. For better or worse.

Above all, I wished fervently as I stared at the huge, grotesque crucifixion placed reverently in the center of the church, that they’d take Jesus off of the damned cross. Even if he died for the sins of us all. Since when, ever, did blood solve neatly, the problems and weaknesses of existence? He had a life (quite similar to Buddha’s, heh), that though short, was thick with inspiration. So much to love. But where was the love? Or, for that matter, the light? I never did find that.

So I took him off the cross and I’ve kept him with me, and, in closing here, probably I have kept much more of my early spiritual experience than I realize.

In a good way.

seussical silliness sharing

“Did you ever fly a kite in bed? Did you ever walk with ten cats on your head? … If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.”

some kind of meme

stolen from H. Labs, natch

What Was I doing ten years ago? Ten years ago, I was at the tail end of my newspaper job in my hometown in upstate New York, traipsing around, interviewing ordinary people and writing stories, designing tedious little ads when I wasn’t traipsing around, and discovering through the ordinary people, things I kinda liked about my little town. Then, left said job to go to Norway. Because I’d never been to Norway before. Climbed fjords and shivered. Rode ferries, hung out in Sweden among outrageously beautiful people. Loved and fought with a Norwegian. Then, bye-bye. In a huff. Flounced and sobbed on a seven hour flight to boomerang to my usual psychic parking place, a small artsy town in western Mass and settled among too many poseurs while I plotted my next adventure. Discovered that I liked bike riding, which was a good thing, since I decided to take a mundane job while I licked my wounds, making candles for a famous candle company. Twenty mile rides offer lots of therapueatic thinking time.

What are five things on my to-do list today? I have no real plans today, beyond playing with the kiddo, attending to my zoo, and mucking around with my container garden.

Snacks I enjoy: Cashews. Chocolate almond candy bars. Cheese, all sorts of cheese. Hummus and pita bread. These little fried rice balls that I make from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious book. Cottage cheese with salt and vinegar potato chips. French fries with bleu cheese or queso sauce. Ice cream!

Things I would do if I were a billionaire: Pay of all debts. Build houses in the Adirondacks, Vermont, and Rhode Island. Start a finch aviary and a sanctuary for various domesticated animals. Start my alpaca/lama farm. Visit Japan, Amsterdam, Morocco, Tibet, Scotland/Ireland, and of course, France. Maybe India. Build two houses for my mom. Right next to each other. One for her stuff, and one to live in. Actually, it would probably be a part of “the compound”, Kennedy style, that my brother and sisters imagine. Pray that we don’t kill each other. Fund whatever it is my sibs want to do (kind of curious as to what that would be). Bankroll the kiddo’s Waldorf education, and pray she selects Wesleyan College as the next destination. Get a pilot’s license. Make philanthropy, in innovative ways, my new job. Hire Holly to help me.

Places I have lived: Northern New York, Manhattan, various places in Massachusetts, Norway, and Connecticut.

what are we reading?

our reading list:

The Baby Beebee Bird: I found this treasure on the um, street, across from the kiddo’s pre-school. Right next to  the rusty old wheelbarrow I grabbed to use as a planter. I can’t bear to see books on the side of the road. Anyhoo, this one’s an absolute, thoroughly charming read. We have the original version, with the simple, naive and sweet illustrations.

The Library Lion: This is an established favorite of the kiddo’s. It’s sweet and dear, and just the book for a tyke who believes herself to be a lion. This one was given to us by a thoughtful and kind lady whom we’ve never met. I love all things that have a story behind them.

Ode Magazine: For me. A recent subscription and a publication that addresses all the things that matter to me–the environment, fair trade, spirituality—applied on a social scale; the bigger picture. I always look forward to it. Though, judging by the letters to the editor, some of its readership is a bit bit on the flaky, touchy, over the top side.

Candide: Can’t believe a Francophile such as myself ignored this for so long, but then, when it comes to literature, I prefer the lyric sensuality, social mindedness, and vivid imagination of the Indian and Latin writers. I happen to adore satire, however, and this certainly does not disappoint. It was recommended to me by a lady who plopped herself down in the courtroom next to me  last time and just started talking. I’m glad she did.

May 2008
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