Friday, March 30, 2012


The other day when it was 75 degrees in East Hampton, I felt like doing some chores. Chores are easier than writing and with almost the same satisfaction. By seven am I was already looking over my front yard to see if the clean up I began two days ago still looked good.
I get a little ocd when I clean up the yard. The first day it was a quick rake of leaves, sticks, debris. The next morning I picked up the leaves left by the rake. Today, I scoured the area and did a third pick-up. When I was satisfied I stuffed the debris into two old sheets and took it to the recycling center. The yard waste area in the East Hampton Recycling Center is a marvel of industry. There are huge task specific machines processing everything. In one area there is a mountain of wood chips made from all the twigs and branches. In another area there is a mountain of black gorgeous dirt made from all the rotted leaves. In a third area, where I am headed, there is the current dumping pile. I left my contribution and headed home.

After ten minutes of checking my e-mail I debated whether to put in new ceiling light bulbs in the kitchen and the vestibule seeing as the lights have been out for a couple of months. Yes, I’ve been using the kitchen without overhead light. I cannot quite reach the fixtures by standing on a dining room chair. Normally I would put a phone book on top of the chair and wobble around while holding the glass fixture in my non-dominant hand. Today I went to the garage and got the six-foot ladder, hosed off the muddy feet and brought it into the house. I changed both light bulbs, washed the fixtures and said, “Let there be light.”

As long as I had the ladder out I noticed some sticks peeking out of the gutters on that side of the house and realized I had not cleaned the gutters the previous fall perhaps not even since Hurricane Irene although that seems impossible. I made do with the six-foot ladder and by stepping on the last rung was able to see inside the gutter, grab the matted debris and run the hose down the spout to clear it. It was lunchtime. There was nothing to eat in the house except some stale cheese and a bag of “power greens.” Usually when there’s nothing to eat in the house I make oatmeal or pancakes or cream of tomato soup with a can of crushed tomatoes and some evaporated milk. I made the soup and put in some “power greens.” I also salvaged a piece of the cheese and melted it on a Mission Jalapeno wrap.
While I was eating I watched the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Channel. Ina Garten is so darn classy, she could be making a bologna sandwich and I’d watch just for the ambiance. On that show she was making crab cakes and celery root slaw (she called it remoulade) for her friend Tess who was coming over. She took this huge gnarled looking root about five inches wide, peeled it and then julienned it in her processor. That took about 30 seconds. She sprinkled lemon juice on it so it wouldn’t turn brown and then proceeded to make a sauce that even with my love of all things Ina, I couldn’t agree with. A cup of mayonnaise???? I was also shocked to see her use 4-C breadcrumbs in her crab cakes. Maybe shocked is too strong. I was interested in a twisted way. After lunch I put the ladder back and began to tackle the back yard that is still a mess. I raked half of it and loaded the leaves onto a sheet before calling it a day. I decided to itemize my actions on this sunny day and make a blog out of it. Some times you just want to hear about how people go about things and this is how I went about things on a bonus sunny day in March.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

You are like so Renaissance

Christian Singles is for those who are looking for love within the restricted dating pool of people who practice Christian values. But what about the rest of us? Are there any personality specific dating services to fill our quirks and issues? I'm happy to share the following list and also the vignettes of those satisfying first dates.

Froot Loops Singles

Did you take Froot Loops to mean a code for crazy?
No. I took it to mean Froot Loops as in the best cereal on earth.
Good. That’s what I meant, too. Let’s bowl up.

OCD Singles

I have to use the sink to wash my hands.
No. I need the sink to wash my hands.
You don’t understand, I HAVE to wash my hands.
No. You don’t understand I HAVE to wash my hands.
This is so cool.
I know.

Schizophrenic Singles

I’m deliriously happy. I can fly.
I can fly, too. Let’s go on the roof.
Wait. Now I feel like killing myself.
I feel like killing myself, too.
Really? That is so cool.

Esoteric Singles

I’m taking a course in lute tablature.
I’m taking a course in 15th century undergarments.
You are like so Renaissance.

Morbidly Obese Singles

How many pizzas should I order for us?
Why not six?
Okay, six.

Ironic Singles

I once saw a fire engine that was on fire.
My mother ate a cookie before dinner and spoiled her appetite.
My procrastinators’ meeting was postponed..
My banker defaulted on his loan.
I’m not quite sure what irony means.
Me either.

Incontinent Singles

I've got to go.
I had to go.

Friday, March 16, 2012

"I go for a man who wears an Adam hat."

The television commercial police is now on duty.

“Anyway you want it.”
“That’s the way I need it.”
a State Farm commercial.

“I need it in the middle of the night.”
“I need it in the middle of the night, too.”
Cold medicine commercial.

“Oh, do it again.”
(with heavy breathing, girl with girl) commercial

Okay so what’s up with all this hooker/client dialogue in commercials? Most people I know would never say those words and not because they are prudes. The dividing line between people who speak openly and wantonly about sex and those who don’t is very wide. For my generation and throw convent boarding school in there, we can hardly say breast without falling down never mind “I need it in the middle of the night,” on national television.

Along with the rise of innuendo commercials, there is a tandem appearance of commercials for Christian Singles dating services. Chaste minded citizens are being offered a lewdness free zone where they are assured no date is going to say to them “I need it in the middle of the night.”

Campbell’s has made a commercial for Christian Singles.
“Take your happiness to work.” The happiness offered is not the recklessly sinful “Anyway you want it,” but a microwavable individual serving of Campbell’s tomato soup. This isn’t crazy jumping for joy happiness but when it’s February and you need something warm and tasty to sip while you do your marketing plan Campbell’s soup makes you a little happy, no? And if you don’t go to work, Campbell’s says: “Make your family smile - one spoonful at a time.” So stop your whining Christian Singles there’s plenty on the airwaves for you.

The first commercial I remember that went for the double entendre (btw, the double entendre always seemed a cheap and immature attempt at humor although people still giggle) was for Noxema shaving cream. This gorgeous blonde would say: “Take it off. Take it all off” and burlesque stripper music would play while the man shaved in sync with the music. Joe Namath did one of those commercials. At the time the country was in shock (sort of). The brazen commercial was the talk of the media and everyone had an opinion.

Even before that - maybe during the Kennedy administration - when men still wore real hats there was a jingle that I still remember. “I go for a man who wears an Adam hat. I go for a man who wears an Adam hat. And when I tell him that. He wears his Adam hat.” Woo hoo. (This is not a precise rendition but you get the gist.)

Finally, there is the inexplicable Kohler break-up commercial.
A twenty-something man shows up at his buddy’s apartment with a toilet and sink.
“How mad was she?” asks the buddy.
“She threw me out but I took the best stuff.”
“I’ll get a wrench.” says the buddy.
‘Life with a twist’ is the tag line.
This is one for Dr. Phil. Break-up revenge can turn ugly: throwing belongings out of the window, taking the dog, drowning cell phones but wrenching the toilet out of the bathroom? Maybe.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Thought purgatory

Alone is good. Being alone and a bit depressed is even better. This is the ideal set-up for breakthroughs if you need one. Most people don’t like to be alone. Some people would rather have a bad boyfriend or girlfriend to avoid being alone. The people who most crave aloneness are mothers with small children. Next are fathers with small children. Commercials seldom highlight a person who lives alone except that woman who falls and can’t get up. Being alone in America implies that you have seriously messed up. Either you are weird and plotting some horrendous public event to get attention or you are emotionally stunted and a loser at the game of life. Ah… that game of life.

I am alone much of the time. I should jump at the chance to hear other voices, other thoughts, other points of view. (I just realized last year that I don’t really listen to other points of view. My ears go numb and I hear whaa whaa whaa like in the Charlie Brown specials.) When I socialize even on the phone, I spend a lot of minutes reviewing what went on - in other words wasting time. The review parade goes like this: how they acted, how I acted, what they said, what I said. Many times I am dissatisfied with my behavior. Occasionally I am dissatisfied with the behavior of the other. Either way it’s a waste. I'm evaluating according to dumb fossilized ideas and it takes place in thought purgatory. Just like in the catholic religion thought purgatory is a circular holding pattern. You are waiting, waiting, waiting to take off but you can’t because it’s so effortless to keep thinking the same thing over and over.

Nothing ever changes or moves out of thought purgatory until you are alone for enough time to become uncomfortable and start thinking fresh untainted thoughts.
Ah...fresh, untainted thoughts.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ecstasy: what is it and do we want it?

While solving the acrostic puzzle in the Sunday Times I lingered at this clue: ‘Manifestation of pure ecstasy.’ What is pure ecstasy? On first reading, it’s normal to think we want ecstasy at least once in a while.

The definitions are: A trance-like state of such intensity that one is carried beyond rational thought and self-control; a total suspension of sensibility or voluntary motion; the trance, frenzy or rapture associated with intense religious devotion.

Some think ecstasy is intense lust - that’s just your id messing with you. A trance? I go into a trance when I enter a supermarket - that’s just fluorescent lights and big business messing with me. Is ecstasy intense satisfaction? Satisfaction doesn’t transcend normal consciousness. Is it joy: the emotion of great delight caused by something exceptionally good? Joy doesn’t put you in a trance; it puts a big grin on your face.

Looking back on events in my life that left me in total suspension of mental power, I can think of very few. I was dating a famous person and we were having lunch at the Cafe des Artistes in New York City. People were staring at us and I was wearing a big furry hat that framed my face and made me look a bit like Lara in Dr. Zhivago. I was in extreme nervous overstimulation - almost the opposite of ecstasy.

A more ecstasy-like moment came during a vacation in Montego Bay. I sat at a table in a modest apartment across the street from the Caribbean. I was content to sit up straight and be very still, hands folded. I felt perfect health and well-being in every part of my body. Emotion was absent. It was a moment of unremarkable perfection. Unremarkable because there were none of the markers of the physical world.

Another moment came on a summer afternoon in my front yard. I was weeding as my grandson gently crashed his big wheel into a maple tree pretending he was a construction worker. I could hear him murmuring to himself. We were comfortably aware of each other but not together. After a while we went inside and made pancakes. Practically no words were spoken. Again a moment of unremarkable perfection.

Perfect health and perfect balance might bring on ecstasy. Perfect tandem awareness of another, engaged but apart. Two good clues. I suspect ecstasy is the opposite of emotion. It is a sense of rightness in the moment that is intense and profound but also unremarkable. If we try to define it, it’s gone.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Miss Loser Bimbo

When Yahoo news excels in quirky - I pay attention.

1. The salutation (yes, that’s the right word) ‘Miss’ is now officially banned in France. The term will be struck from official documents, along with “maiden name” or “married name”. Instead the authorities are to use the term “Madame” equivalent to the male “Monsieur” Women are no longer forced to state their marital status.

My take: I know some married mothers who would be happy to let you call them “Miss loser bimbo.” if you would babysit for an hour or two and empty the dishwasher.

2. An Ohio woman who compared animal-welfare work to the liberation of World War II concentration camps has been charged with soliciting a hit man to fatally shoot or slit the throat of a random fur-wearer, federal authorities said. She was offering $830 to $850 and she wanted to be present so she could distribute material after the murder. She also asked that the victim be more than 12 or 14 years old.

My take: I have a friend who lets her cat sit on her warm toast.

3. Seven million-year-old elephant footprints were found in the Arabian Desert. Analysis suggests they belonged to a herd of at least 13 elephants that walked through mud, leaving behind tracks that hardened, Researchers also discovered tracks from a solitary male traveling in a different direction from the herd suggesting ancient male pachyderms often left the herd to live alone.

My take: The males leave the herd to live alone? How unusual. Is that the genesis of the Man Cave?
My less sarcastic take: Maybe it was only wrong-way Roy.

4. A 27 lb. surprise that shrimp fishermen found in their nets leaves marine experts stunned.

My take: It wasn’t Jimmy Hoffa. The surprise was a lobster with claws the size of boxing gloves. Marine experts were stunned? Really, Yahoo headline writer? Stunned as in ‘unable to move?’ Now if the big boy had said ‘howdy.’ Note to the Ohio PETA mamma in the other story: Put your gun away, they threw Monster Lobster back in the briny.

Apropos of nothing department: (I don’t know where I found this)
The book our customers most wish for is "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking."

My take: Hmmmm.