Archive for the ‘suburbia’ Category

Cell phone nightmare…

March 11, 2012

The perky dental assistant has just finished installing the nasty dental dam in my open mouth, which has me stuck in what might look like a frozen scream a la Munch with polished hardware and rubber bits escaping at the edges of the rictus. “Dr. Toothsome will be right with you,”says she, patting my arm, then leaving me sweating on the reclined plastic chair. Ah, the joys of a root canal!
Dr. Toothsome enters the room. “Hi, Mrs. Stepford. This won’t take too long. We’ll have you out of here in no time.” From behind me, he starts by revving up the grinding tool. Suddenly he looms over, his eyes huge behind goggles as he peers at the offending tooth about to receive his ministrations. Next, the needle advances and makes little pricks along the gumline way back inside my mouth. “Let’s wait a few minutes for the freezing to take,” says Dr Toothsome. He disappears from view and the sounds of moving metal implements tinkles ever so musically accompanied by a few revvings of the grinder from beside and behind me. Meanwhile sweat has glued me to the plastic chair and drool is emerging from behind the rubber sheating at my gaping jaw and dripping ever so slowly down my chin and neck.
“Well, I think we are ready to proceed,” says Dr Toothsome. (He might be, but I am definitely not!) He pokes the metal tool into my mouth and revs it up. Grinding sounds interspersed by swishing rinsing sounds from the suction siphon are interrupted by the rousing melody of the beginning bars of the William Tell Overture. The music seems to be emanating from somewhere on the person of Dr. Toothsome. He stops grinding, pulls the implement from my mouth, hands it to me and says “Hold this for a second.” Then he proceeds to pat himself down to find the source of music and stop the interruption. In his best Captain Kirk impersonation, he glances at his communicator and says, “I’ve got to take this!” I am incredulous this is actually happening! Naturally, my mouth is gaping, and would do so even if it was not artificially made to do so by the dental dam. Dr. Toothsome moves behind me, which is good as I feel like giving him a swift kick.
“Hello?… Yes Mavis, this is not a very good time…….Yes…I can pick Madison up after soccer practice…Yes… The casserole is on the top shelf of the fridge?…Set the oven at what?… For how long?…No, I won’t be late picking her up…Yes, I think I can manage that… Okay…Bye”

The Punisher learns the Rumba…

April 25, 2011

I am a camera, a one-eyed one at that with poor depth of field and inability to focus adequately, but still able to make out images although fuzzy, still full of information enough to extrapolate some observations. So during the last Friday Night Social and practice session decided to use the fact that I sat out so many dances and took a look at the crowd who populate these sessions. Incidentally, this opportunity made it possible for me to vicariously learn, in a half-assed fashion, some new dance steps.
The one -hour lesson this evening was beginners rumba. Unusual for this evening was the fact that many more people attended the lession portion of the evening, and they were mostly people of my vintage or older, as well as the usual obsessive dance aficionados who dance up to five nights a week. So this was a good sign, in my estimation. It does not feel so great to be the oldest woman at these occasions.
Robin’s method of doing the lessons is to line the men up in drill fashion and showing them the basic steps upon which variations of the dance are based. Then she corrals all the women and gives us the female versions of the basic steps. Next, she tells us to pair with our partners and has us shuffle around doing the basic stuff together. Having no regular dance partner I was left for “Lounge Lizard” as the only option for a partner. He seemed somewhat reluctant to partner me, so I told him it was my special role as the “Punisher” in dance classes to make men have to do a dancing form of penance. He smiled ever so smoothly and lied through his pearly whites that I was a fast learner and he was happy to partner me.
Of course, I looked around to see how Monique, the attractive librarian who presents herself as mutton dressed as lamb, complete with clinging clothes that show no panty or bra line, and with lush long dyed brown hair she flips flirtatiously at every opportunity, managed to pair herself up. She had limpeted onto Raoul, a handsome Martial Arts instructor, who always looks hot and dances even better than he looks. Need I add, that Raoul looked dashing in matte black, like a dressed down matador. He certainly is a sight for failing old eyes. I am fanning myself as I write this!
Farouk, and early middleaged Iranian man was there struggling to learn the dance with Maura, my artist friend. Poor Farouk is very much in the same position as I am at these dances – we are both mercy partners for others, and the last ones to be selected as practice partners for other dancers, so we often end up dancing together, and we do have a great time schlepping our way around the dance floor alternating with leading each other around. Farouk has the most incandescent face when he smiles and he evinces a pleasure in partnering any woman. Oddly enough, where he seems to have trouble keeping in rhythm with the music with other women, whenever he dances with me he has a certain relaxed flair as we struggle together in some arcane moves on the dance floor. He is relaxed in the same manner with Maura; she and I have decided that this is because he has adopted us as older sister types with whom he needs not be shy or awkward.
Ron and Linda, a lovely Chinese couple in their early seventies, danced up a storm. They both look like delicate wizened children, and are so obviously delighted to be learning to dance together. Linda is always gracious to send Ron over to take his punishment with me on the dance floor. He is sweet and willing, but tends to argue with me over what I am supposed to do with my feet. Mind you, I have noted that he and Linda do get into some rather heated exchanges during lessons where they end up hissing at each other while gesticulating wildly at the floor and demonstrating in turn how each of their steps are to be performed. I strongly suspect that the reason why Linda is willing to lend out her husband to another woman for a turn is so that she can have a reprieve dance with a man who shuts up and just dances!
I did learn basic rumba with “Lounge Lizard” who is much taller than me and takes big steps and has long arms to fling me out far in a turn so that I was left scrambling to get back into the proper clinch position with him. He seemed to relish flinging me around like some sandbag and then dragging me back into the clinch with flair. Oh, well. Guess both of us were getting punished.
It appeared that many of the older couples didn’t seem to enjoy dancing all that much. The deadly serious, earnest, unsmiling expressions hinted at a perhaps enforced presence at this dance. They might have had more fun playing darts at home. However, there was one older couple who were endearing. he is much more fit and healthy than his wife, and dances regularly without her. But here they were at this dance together and he took care that she was dancing at a comfortable pace, rested when she had to, and while they were dancing he gazed and smiled at her with such pleasure. When they didn’t dance, they watched other couples and made little comments to each other as if discussing the finer points of dance as demonstrated by others.
Maura did a great turn with “Lounge Lizard” at a swing number. They looked really great together. Wade, Maura’s boyfriend, put me through the Tango paces without either dropping me onto the floor or being flattened by me whilst doing “La Carpa” which always makes me feel like the Queen Mary being manoeuvred into dock by a pipsqueak tugboat. Farouk’s older brother, a fabulous dancer, undertook to practice a Rumba with me, and I felt good, as if finally I was beginning to catch on. But then, that is what dancing with a strong male lead does so well – it makes the woman into an instantly better dancer.
Before the evening was over, “Lounge Lizard” summoned me to do a Tango with him. We did quite well in spite of our height difference, for several turns around the dance floor, but when he dragged me into the initial “La Carpa” position, I stiffened and announced “No, you, don’t…don’t you dare try this with me…we look silly doing this step together.” So he punished me be making me go through several variations of a weird move where the man nudges the left foot of his partner so she moves in a circle around him, and then finishes with a flourish of Ochos and leg-rubs. It kind of looks like someone nudging their dog’s foot to make him pee on the correctly appointed post. Maybe this move looks sexy when skilled dancers perform it. We must just have looked plainly weird. Not to be daunted, and not particularly caring as to whether I look elegant or skilled ( but looking Okay might do) I took my punishment in good grace and laughed during the essays. “Lounge Lizard” does not like a laughing partner. Too bad.
The Rumba is a most forgiving dance to learn. it is not particularly grueling, nor does it require athleticism or great stamine, or major memorizing of steps to perform at an adequate competence. It was a great lesson for this night’s dance to reintroduce couples who have not danced frequently in recent time to the pleasures of moving to music.

The Conference Workshop with the three amigas…

January 23, 2010

We were as ready to lead the workshop for teachers as any oveprepared presenters might be. In fact, we were so nervous in anticipation we thought we should arrive at the conference venue two hours before our stint was to begin. Then, we found out we could only arrive just an hour prior to star time.
The evening before we went over our materials and equipment checklists, trial ran CDRs on the laptop we were to use and almost added to our burgeoning boxes items we deemed essential for workshop participants to have.
Lee conjectured, “Should we take pencils and pens for the people?”
“Are you kidding me?” I snapped back. “We are not dealing with high school students here. Surely to God no self-respecting teacher would dare turn out to a workshop sans writing equipment!”
I did think having rice-powder on hand for the participants to try out making Kolams and Rangoli was essential, so I busied myself with the trusty Braun coffee grinder and ground up a whack of rancid rice that was about to be heaved into garbage. The jar of rancid rice-powder was large enough to provide coverage of Kolams over a large area of pavement. I didn’t think people would be overwhelmed by the smell of it. Besides which, “waste not, want not” is my motto. Rice Powder, check!
Meanwhile Louise was pasting labels on all items to remain in the teaching kits, and double checking contents. Lee was reorganizing the workshop handouts and making sure all was in order. We did this in the kitchen. Rumpole came home to find the place a disaster zone and kicked his way to the bedroom to change into his grubbies. We finished our labours, drank one more cup of cold tea, loaded our stuff into two cars and parted company with plans to meet up at the Conference place with all our stuff the following morning at 7am. Lee was to pick me up at quarter of seven, practically the crack of dawn.
The morning of, I scrambled around half-asleep after a largely sleepless night, washed, dressed, got the kinks out of my hair and bolted back a couple of cups of coffee. Waited beside Rumpole’s snoozing Hyundai as I waited for Lee to arrive in her red Mustang. Bless that youngster, she had brought me a Starbucks latte. As we drove toward the Conference place Dawn broke over the horizon in a milky iridescent pearl-grey band. The day promised to be mild and dry.
When we arrived at the parking lot, Lee nipped into the building to find a dolly to haul our gear, leaving me to call Louise and let her know exactly where we were parked. Louise arrived just as I was unloading the stuff from the Mustang’s trunk. Soon, Lee returned with the dolly in tow and we loaded the containers on to it and went to find our workshop room.
Luck was on our side. We were booked into a science lab with many electric outlets, a big screen and gererous white-boards as well as two sinks. Perfect for an art workshop.
Lee proceeded to set up the electronic equipment, and much to our relief it all promised to work as required. Louise set out the handout material and placed printed visuals onto the whiteboard with stick-um. I set out art materials into stations adequate for a large group to work at without a hitch. We were so organized we had a half- hour to spare before deadline for start. We went in search of muffins to feed on. These two gals were an absolute joy to work alongside!
When teachers straggled in, with no one late ( they are so conditioned to time dictates) I was surprised to note there were no men in the group. All women, mostly young ones who looked so very young. Just three retirement-age ladies in a group of 19 souls. I suddenly felt like a creaky antique.

Lee opened up the workshop with having everyone introduce themselves. She looked glamorous in her Punjabi suit outfit of Royal blue with gold embroidery.. On her wrists she wore Indian bangles with bells attached – so whenever she needed to call people to attention she only had to shake her arms. Louise overlooked proceedings like a fond aunt. I sat by the side as grannie types are wont to.
I had prepared the lesson plans on Kolams and Rangoli and figured if someone else could present and lead the lesson, any teacher attending the workshop could also follow the information for successful presentation. The workshop participants got right down to work, experimented, made permanent examples with chalk on black paper for themselves and experimented with rice-powder Kolams on the floor. They got so involved that they worked right through the half-hour rest period. I helped with making Kolams on the floor, showing how to hold the powder in the palm and trickle it to the ground and make gestures whilst doing so. Participants made amazing patterns and expressed eagerness to show the process to students. Lee glowed with pleasure. Louise went around the room documenting people at work, so much so she went through two sets of batteries. We all had great fun, largely in silence.
We were all so occupied with making Kolams we ran out of time for the presentation of the second half of the workshop. The keeners wanted us to carry on, so we showed CDRs on Navajo sandpainting, discussed similarities and differences for those two types of imagemaking, emphasizing the ritual differences, showed the sand which to use in making sandpaintings and discussed techniques for making permanent examples with students. It helped to have two permanent sandpaintings Lee had brought back at Christmastime from Arizona. The principle of Symmetry exemplified in both types of images was a huge topic of discussion, as was the abstraction inherent in both. The teachers expressed that they could use both to teach mathematical concepts, and also to have students use symmetry in their expressions of beauty and story telling.
They also stated that since we had made teaching kits using the internet for much of our research, they could further have students continue to research and compare information found on the net.
Overall the workshop was a success. We packed up our supplies and headed back to my kitchen to decompress over a couple of pots of tea. Louise planned to take out one of the kits for high schools and use the information for teaching art during the next semester. She also decided to extend the scope of the kit by designing further lesson plans and units. She has much to work with from the kit – on Contemporary Ephemeral Art and its practitioners – with DVDs added to explore in depth the work and its underlying concepts.
Lee called me this afternoon while I had my head down for a nap. She had begun to teach the unit on Kolams and Rangoli and reported her kids were tremedously excited by the potential for making ephemeral art in public spaces. Maybe the future grafitti taggers ( taggers give such pain to the maintenance crews in our town) will make practice of leaving their mark using ephemeral materials which disappear in short time.
It feels terrific to have brough this project of ours to such a succesful conclusion. I am anticipating seeing concrete results from our project by school year’s end. The project has been a form of therapy for me, useful, encouraging, engaging. Being part of it reassured me that I still have the “stuffing” left in me with which to contribute in my small way to my community, vision problems be damned.

An ending of sorts…

January 19, 2010

Details, details, details,…always those damned details. This morning I trekked to the Art Gallery to have a meeting with the curator and the programmer regarding the status of that darned project that seems to want not to be complete. The rest of this entry is to be an extended whine, although Rumpole has repeatedly cautioned me that volunteers usually get little respect, so what was I expecting?

The curator has had our documents for a week, and as of this morning “hadn’t had the time to go through it”. Three of us have expended over 300+ hours of volunteer hours to get the project to this stage, as unpaid volunteers, yet she had not been able to make the time, say an hour, to peruse the binders, even if merely to familiarize herself with the contents in a casual way.

Tha gallery needs this project ready in order to be able to meet its “fee for service” requirements by the municipality. Three of us volunteers are delivering the project at a District in-service workshop on January 21, and yet, we have not been given clear direction from the paid powers-that-be as to how the teaching kits are going to be booked by district teachers. The curator suggested I be responsible for the bookings. I demurred, saying that the utilization of the teaching kits were to benefit the Gallery’s desire to mount a theme show of student work, and they should be responsible for the clerical duties involved. And of course, there should also be a whiff of officaldom attached to the project.
I am more than done. My work-mates are also more than exhausted after making sure all details have been looked after as closely as possible, and that trouble-shooting for potential areas of difficulty has been done.

We feel pleased at how the work has come together and that we have been of useful service in our community. We have worked hard, and wish not to be given more chores to fulfill. Let the paid workers roll up their sleeves now, and see to the successful implementation of this project.

This particular volunteer needs to read, write, walk about looking a the increasingly brighter days, and the beginnings of late winter/early spring growth. Plus, I have to sign up for ball-room dancing lessons with my young, fun, gay friend ( the only one Rumpole will allow me to take dance lessons with!) and swing this crone-like body all over the dance floor.

Late winter, dancing lessons, movement, rhythm, beat – that’s what my old body craves.

Typing (ugh)… not writing…

December 11, 2009

I have neglected my blog for the last couple of months. It seems the project I have undertaken in September has taken precedence over most of my activities. It is an educational project for the Local art gallery’s educational arm, worked on with two teachers from our local school district and funded by two public bodies – the school District and the Art Gallery.

Initially we were to come up with a kit of lesson plans on Environmental Art – a topic of huge scope. In my usual capacity of “loose cannon”, I interpreted this topic as exploring Ephemeral Arts. My rationale for this was, “Does the world need to document and compile more examples of art in a museum, when art -making can be a largely personal, communal and ephemoral activity which can be passed on through common practice repeated over and over again, and allowed to be replaced and extended by future practices?”

So, I thought and thought – about works made only for a temporary purpose, of importance in the culture within which they were made and which gave expressive colour to to lives and belief systems. Enter the notion of Kolams as made in India’s Tamil Nadu, mandalas as made by Buddhist monks as a form of contemplative practice, and of Navajo sand-painting as ritual practice in one of North America’s larges indigenous tribes. Much research followed on the heels of this notion.

And, of course, there are contemporary practitioners of the ephemeral arts – Andy Goldsworthy, Rikrit Taravanija, Diana Lynn Thompson, Alan Sonfist and others who place process above product and life cycle above permanence. How to relate contemporary practice with historic practices? There is a relationship. As always no contemporary practice is without historical antecedents. How to relate the continuum?

Three of us sat down over wine and dinner and hashed out the congruities and continuities. It is good to have several good minds working together. One of us, a young High School art teacher worked out the mechanics of relating contemporary to historical practices. man, I envy her her energy, and her ability to directly narrow down relationships. Also her ability to negotiate the, to me, complexities of computer programs and mechanisms. I have been relegated to being typist, a task to which I am definitely not well suited, and to the work of coming up with lesson plans appropriate to grades K to 7.

So I have been typing up background information as well, collated from a variety of sources. Have also played with materials to see about their suitability to the various grade groups. Lots of typing; lots of frustration with my brand new Windows program. To take a break today, I ground up a bunch of rice in my Braun grinder and made a Kolam on the threshold to my studio.

This afternoon, two of us are to make a presentation of the kits we have prepared for K – 3, Gr. 4 -7, Gr. 8 – 12 – complete with visuals and CDRs and DVDs. I have sets of dominoes, side-walk chalks, rice flour and coloured sand packed with binders full of lesson plans and visuals. We also have beautiful reproductions of a Tibetan Thangka to share with the people coming to the unveiling meeting.

Mu forefingers have grown calluses from all the typing over the past two+ months. The bound documents need layout help – I am beyond incompetent at this. My two cohorts have heavy vocational committments. WE NEED HELP! Yes, we are going to beg for help.

Now mind – we are doing this as volunteers – and as such have racked up a respectable 30+ hours on this project – and that is a conservative estimate. But if all goes well, and we get the clerical help we so desperately need, we shalll have a really fine program to lend out to busy public school teachers.

Still typing, not writing, in suburbia….G

Yenta is “touched”, or has lost her “touch”…

November 3, 2009

Rumpole has ordered me to take down my matchmaking shingle. That latest foray into connecting single souls has been an utter failure. Sparks, Nada! Entertainment for all of the four of us… yes, in a queer sort of way. It has taken me four weeks to come to grips with horrible reality of it all.

Luck would have it, Our Lady of Perpetual Crisis still talks to me and visits chez nous. However, she has said that I am hapless and not very good at this matchmaking business. She did say that she enjoyed the evening dinner with us and Rob, and that the food was delicious and the conversation…surprisingly entertaining. But she made pointed comments about Rob’s sartorial elegance, comparing his attire a cross between Don Ho and one of the Darryl Brothers (as in, “Howdy, My name is Darryl, and this here is my other brother, Darryl”).

Picky, picky OLPC. What did she expect, someone out of Gentleman’s Quarterly Magazine? But then, should I take her comments about stylishness to heart? She, who breezed in looking a bit like a dominatrix, all form-fitting black with what looked like chains strong enough to restrain a 100 pound Rottweiler hefting up her lush triple-Ds and snaking around her shoulders? I had to keep kicking Rumpole under the table to prevent him from gazing at her prominent poitrine. Poor Rob, he with the quaint old-fashioned mannerisms and attitudes, didn’t seem to know where to look.

But mercifully, they did get along well enough to make fine conversation. Whilst choking back the schnitzel, the flatulence inducing cabbage, roast potatoes and pickled beets OLPC did manage to put questions to Rob about his life, his grown children, his confirmed and adamant solitary state. Oddly enough, Rob, shy generally and not a man of many words, opened up and went into considerable detail about his life and experiences. The torrent of interesting information had the effect of open-mouthed fascination on Rumpole. OLPC didn’t miss a trick.
She would be a smooth and clever interrogator in Gauntanamo. And all that without the aid of extremely bright lights and water-torture devices. Under her subtle questioning Ron revealed things about himself, as pertaining to his most recent relationship, that should not be even mentioned in a session with a relationship counsellor, let alone at a matchmaking dinner. I was aghast at what my well-intentioned soiree had unleashed.

During dinner, we discussed politics, religion, the arts, the new Conservativism, the environment, economics and yes, modern sexual behaviour. As a case study, OLPC, brought up her friend, Cowtown Donna’s difficulties at negotiating the relational quagmire prevailing among middle-aged divorced singles. As she asked all of our opinions as to what was proper etiquette among dating senior singles, Rob nervously wrapped the linen table napkin around his left hand, much like a bandage, and punctuated his comments by tugging the ends closed to choke his fist. That sure was an indication of his extreme discomfort with the conversational vein.

As hostess, I tried to steer the conversation to less discomforting topics – like Municipal shenanigans and “what about our dorky Mayor saying…”. Mercifully, the time passed quickly, although neither OLPC nor Rob showed the slightest indication of wanting to take their leave. Were they having that much fun? Certainly they laughed a lot. Rob tugged on his napkin bandage a lot… but was that in fun, or just out of sheer nervousness? It was really weird!

Because it was a Sunday evening, and everyone had to be up early the next morning, Rumpole did last call. He said. “All right all of you. Tomorrow is a workday. We have 15 minutes before I kick you guys out. Because I am 65 years old I need my sleep.”

I poured more tea for us all. OLPC and Rob left afterward, both at the same time. I looked out the back window and watched them exchange a few words before they hopped in their vehicles and drove off.

Rumpole’s comment to me as he went off to “dusterize” was. “Well, that was a bust as far as those two matching up. But by God! It was a most enjoyable evening.”

All I can say now, is that even though I am a failure at matching people up romantically, at least I have the wherewithal to pull disparate characters together for an evening of lively exchange and some stimulating conversation. And although OLPC and Rob did not form a firm friendship or demonstrate romantic chemistry toward each other, whenever they meet casually in our little town, they will at least have the basis for polite casual conversation with each other.
And, most amazingly, they both still are talking with me, even if it is to mention that I should give up trying to match them up with anyone, ever again. Yeah! I’m a failed Hungarian Yenta.

Collector…

October 22, 2009

The other morning, while I was quaffing my first cup of joe, Rumpole was struggling to open the pantry door, and swearing profusely and rather colourfully.
“For God’s Sake, G,” he growled, “why are there so many x^7*3# rubber bands on this door-handle? What are you saving these bloody things for?” Exasperated, he gave up the struggle and sat down across from me. But he was not finished yet. The rant continued after he cast his eyes in the direction of a corner of the kitchen counter where, teetering, rows of my sour cream, yoghurt and cottage cream containers were stacked, seeming to multiply and take over the rest of the counter space. A crafty expression on his countenance, he commented. “I think you are beginning to lose it, go into a decline or are starting to show some unfortunate aspects of advancing age.”

“But, dear, all those items are useful and I know will come in handy…soon.” I retorted.
“For what?” he demanded to know.
“Well, just think. I have been collecting rubber bands for about ten years now. And was I ever glad to have a handy stash of them on hand then Game Boy visited and asked me to do a hairdo of mini pony-tails all over his head so he could look cool and punky. You just never know what purpose rubber bands may be put to.”
“Oh, crap! You have a rejoinder for everything I say to you. What about that mess of plastic containers? What do you intend to do with them?”
“well, …er…, oh yes! Lucky, Barb and I are doing a series of mixed media experiments, for which these containers will come in very handy – you know, … for mixing acrylic media, sand, glue, recycled house paint.”
“Yeah. So there will be a passel of these containers full of weird concoctions lying around your studio for…well, forever, or for whenever you go on one of your jags to throw stuff out. Usually when I force you to.”
Man, he was really on a roll this morning. How could I lob back some clever comment to shut down all this kvetching? Aha! My ultimate statement! “Dear, aren’t you the least bit happy that I am not one of those women who shop daily for useless things and pile them up, unwrapped, all over the house. All this little tiny bit of collecting seems rather harmless by comparison.”
That stopped him in his building diatribe. Ha!
“Grrrr,” he growled as he brought his coffee cup up to his clenched jaw. “Point taken. But please, get them out of my sight at least.” He took a swig of coffee. His face lit up as if he had just got a brilliant idea. “You know, Just before Mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she had made some rather bizarre collections…need I point out, plastic containers, rubber bands… and it seems to me you have started a rubber band collection on the linen closet door handle, on your bedroom’s as well besides the back spindles of the kitchen chairs and the pantry door-knob. Do you think you may have a problem?”
I was aghast. Was he really suggesting I was losing it, ready to be prevented from living a relaitvely normal life and sequestered in the company of other forgetful and eccentric seniors?

“Oh yeah!” I countered, “before you start to diagnose me, diagnose yourself. I am not the one who loses her pants after taking them off and hanging them up. Nor am I one who cannot see her car keys right in front of her eyes. Frankly, my dear, some days you worry me.” I fixed him with my best snotty stare as I tapped my fingers impatiently on the tabletop.

“Point well taken,” he retorted, ” but I want all that stuff gone, hidden… and I don’t care where, when I return from work tonight.”
“Yes, Bwana,” I humbly assented, ” your wish is but a command. As a dutiful Stepford Wife, I shall, however begrudgingly, comply.”

So it’s off to remove said rubber bands and plastic collections from their offending places. Out of sight, maybe out of Rumpole’s mind, but ready to hand should their utility suddenly come into my conscious ken. I shall spend the morning brainstorming as to the various purposes to which rubber bands may be put.

The Yenta strikes again…

September 20, 2009

Pssst… don’t tell anybody, but, Hungarian Yenta is about to strike again.
Yes, busybody me has set the scene and invited Our Lady of Perpetual Crisis, a single matron of 51, and Rob, a single man of 61, to a Hungarian repast the object of which is to introduce these two chronically single souls to each other. Rumpole, good natured as he is, is merely groaning and rolling his eyes at the prospect of such a dinner, which might be a disaster. However I placated him with promise of a Schnitzel, roasted cabbage, roasted potatoes, pickled beets and shrimp salad menu.
A bit earlier, when I was pounding the daylights out of pork cutlets with my trusty metal tenderizer, he wandered through the kitchen and accused me of overkill. He did stop to smell the roasting cabbage and announced it smelling delicious. Odd, though, he didn’t mention that cabbage might be too flatulence-inducing to be appropriate for a match-making dinner. Did I err, in selecting cabbage as an accompaniment to schnitzel? I mean, we are all adults who are going to sup together, and what better way to break the ice than a few choice farts wafting from under the regions of the dining room table.
Poor Jessica may, however, be overcome by the compendium of olfactory effects, hanging around under the dining room table as is her wont during meals.
Our Lady of Perpetual Crisis expressed some concerns about the timing of this dinner. She is after all coming off day-shift this afternoon and is concerned with presenting herself as buffed up and pretty. Will she have time to adequately prepare herself for meeting Rob? And is he not slightly too old for her.
Nah, I told her. She is perfectly presentable as long as she is not wearing her uniform. Just comb your hair, I suggested. And, don’t wear your Red Door perfume – it’s likely to make us all pass out from sheer delight, and excess. (She does tend to douse herself in the stuff!) And, no. He is not too old. Just think, if things go well between you two and you hit it off, then you’ll have a chance to use your nursing skills on him in the not too distant future, I reminded her. This seemed to reassure her a little. She, after all, loves what she does for the living. And oddly, she seems to attract special needs men of the paraplegic sort, and I hastened to remind her that Rob has full use of all his limbs, and can do stuff, even – like walk and run, for extended periods, fix things, and think with all his perceptual faculties intact. He’s a real catch! Why? Because Hungarian Yenta has expressed that opinion, and is not to be questioned about things pertaining to romance between the two major sexes.
Well, things will turn out as they will. No point in second-guessing, no time for doubt. I just hope both Rob and Our Lady of Perpetual Crisis don’t rebel and act out. And I hope the Schnitzel doesn’t burn.
A perpetually hopeful, and busy-bodyish Hungarian Yenta, who keeps score, needs another win in the Romance Sweepstakes.
Wish me luck?

The Auld Sod – here and there…

July 20, 2009

Rumpole, Renaissance Man, Glasgow Girl and Mousey have travelled to the Auld Sod, Scotland, to visit Glasgow Girls mother and to make the pilgrimage to the Gathering of the Clans in Edinburgh. I am left behind, thankfully, to tend to the animals and the garden, in its current incarnation.

Rumpole has been keeping me updated with news of their various doings via e-mail. Mousey is not acclimatizing at all to the time change and she keeps them up until 3am at night. Rumpole finds himself having to drive the busy streets of Glasgow in a hire car; he is terrified of driving on the left hand side of the road, which, surely, takes some getting familiar with. Glasgow Girl is partying with her school mates, and Mouse is entertaining the neighbourhood matrons and little children with her own peculiar brand of Canadian wild childhood. Rumpole and Renaissance Man are doing father and son bonding and trekking around Glasgow taking in the sights and getting lost. I am happy watering and critter entertaining, so all is well with the Stepford-Rumpoles.

Yesterday, Lookingforbeauty, Moira, OurLady of PerpetualCrisis and I had a yard sale chez moi on what had to be the hottest day of our summer yet. I tried to offload such interesting items as Rumpole’s old pre-amp, kitchen chairs, crystal, my favourite conversation piece – my Osama Bin Laden Zippo-clone lighter, some jewelry that hasn’t seen the light of day in 20 years, rubber boots, a vintage 1930s pedestal ashtray of interesting provenance ( it comes from a demolished funeral home and has been the repository of many extinguished cigarette butts from generations of mourners), a crab trap, a dressage helmet and hand-painted mexican tiles.

Osama got a lot of varied responses from the die-hard Garage salers out and about on this hellish morning; some outright indignation, some chortling and some questioning – “Where on earth did you get this?” I managed to offload…er, sell, Rumpole’s pre-amp, and have already decided what to do with the loot gotten for its sale. He may not exactly approve, but he won’t be here to weigh in with negative comments on what I plan to do with the money. I also sold some jewelry. And that was that.

We girls decided that our Yard Sale was a bust. None of us did at all well for all the work involved in hoisting stuff outside, setting up and sitting sweltering in the sun for 4 hours, let alone the bringing stuff back inside when the sale time was up. We figured our timing for the sale was off – too hot, wrong time of the summer, we didn’t have stuff people wanted. But who’s to know? Except for Lookingforbeauty, the rest of us were Garage Sale beginners. Honestly, I didn’t like the whole experience, not being cut out for the badinage required to engage prospective buyers. I hate stuff, anyway, and the less stuff I have the more at ease I find myself.

Today I languished, wiped out by the experience. So I did three loads of laundry and cleaned the basement floor. I hung out the laundry to dry, which happened really fast, it being infernally hot again today. No complaints here.

This afternoon, I invited Lookingforbeauty over to harvest some zucchini, while I harvested some lettuce about to bolt and some sorrel for dinner to which Lookingforbeauty invited me and another friend. We got a good crop; especially one spectacularly large zucchini which I plan to wrap, Furoshiki style and gift, anonymously and with great night-time stealth, to my neighbours Gary and Laurie.

Boy, will they be surprised tomorrow morning. And will Rumpole be delighted that I have less zucchini to process and freeze to augment winter dishes, unbeknownst to him, and ostensibly to convert him, although he is completely unwilling to become a zucchini consumer.

Rats! There go the Brussels Sprouts…

June 19, 2009

My family loves Brussels Sprouts – those perfect little piquant globes of green goodness in the wintertime. So, there had to be a row of these plants in my new vegie garden. Of course, if there were going to grow Brussels Sprouts, there also had to be had a supply of Kale and Kohlrabi, two cruciferous vegetables I associate with my early life in Hungary. There were already three burgeoning Zucchini plants taking over one end of my little plot, promising enough produce to satisfy our Zucchini-loving Scottie, my tendency to hide shredded Zucchini in all sorts of dishes (Rumpole hates Zucchini! – so it has to masquerade as something else) and to provide ammunition for my planned late-summer stealth Zucchini bombings by night of our neighbours front stoops.

So there we were, outside by the rows to be planted – Jessica, Lookingforbeauty and me. Seedlings at the ready we busied ourselves planting before nightfall. Lookingforbeauty was placing onion seedlings into available unplanted spots in the rows. I was fluffing up Kale fronds and admiring them, when all of a sudden Lookingforbeauty uttered “Shoo, dog!” I looked up from my admiration of new green seedlings to spot Jessica sprawled, nonchalant among the Brussels Sprouts rows, working her jaws over a healthy bit of growth. I leaped up and made to chase her away, at which threatening gesture she merely hopped to her feet, threw herself onto the grass verge and began to roll around luxuriously, meanwhile keeping a beady eye open should I reach her to give her a swat on the bum.

I made like a shreaking scarecrow, but she simply sprinted around in the garden, making spectacular leaps over the vegetable rows. I looked at the damage she had done to the Brussels Sprouts. Four plants chewed down to their roots in the ground! By this time, Jessica was hiding behind the already planted Kohlrabi on the other side of the row. She was starting in on the Kohlrabi leaves, meanwhile peering out at me from under her awning-like eyebrows. I chased her around some more. She is short and fat, but boy can she move when motivated!

“You’re going to have to keep her out of this garden,” commented Lookingforbeauty. “It’s your own fault, G, for giving her all kinds of vegetables as treats. You spoil that dog!”

“But, just look at that little mug – those saucy eyes, that gooofy clowning she does. I can’t resist her in the slightest.” I said. “At least vegetables are good for her – the vitamins, you know?”

But, I have decided. Those remaining Brussels Sprouts will be in the forefront of my vigilance against the depredations of my vegetarian pooch. So will the Kohlrabi, Kale and Zucchini. If she behaves herself for the rest of the growing season, I promise to let her sample the produce come harvest time. I’m sure Rumpole will not be heart-broken to share the Zucchini bounty with her. Hah!