Aug 30 2008

Squeezing the juices out of summer.

montirockMy pulse quickens at the thought.  And not in a good way.  Summer is almost over and I’m not ready.  It’s 8:30 in the morning and I’m on my sunporch in a sweatshirt.  Normally, I love busting out my jeans and sweaters, saying goodbye to the searing sun, the cloying humidity.  I used to love back to school: new shoes, new lunchbox, new Trapper Keeper, sharp pencils, unbroken crayons . . .  

This year, though, I feel like some masked bandit ran off with my summer.  With selling the house and all the bullshit that went with it, my summer was not nearly long enough, not nearly lazy enough.  We didn’t do enough reading.  We didn’t do enough mucking around or hiking or swimming in lakes.  We didn’t watch enough sunsets or bats flicking around the night sky.  Too much fretting and cleaning.  Not enough lounging and boredom. 

Three more days and Saint James starts third grade.  Five more days and Supergirl starts kindergarten – Devil Baby starts preschool.  The simple flick of the calendar page will release an avalanche of busy-ness: lunches, homework, piano, soccer, playdates, and all the appointments I’ve blown off this summer: haircuts, teeth cleanings, pediatricians, oil changes.  

I need two more weeks.  That’s it.  Take me back to the beginning of August.  No?  

These photos were taken at our friend’s cabin on the Wisconsin River.  I’ll call him Pipes because he’s got a great voice and a way with plumbing.  On our way back from Michigan we stopped for a night to visit Pipes and his two wonderful daughters.  We drank beers by the water, ate steaks and corn on the cob and made s’mores.  The kids scampered around barefoot and collected wild turkey feathers, threw rocks in the river and grasped at quick and slippery crayfish.  We swam and stopped for soft serve ice cream on the way home.  It was like a crash course in summer.  Thank you, dear friends, for sharing your heavenly spot with us.  

The light in these photos makes my heart ache.  Warm afternoon sun.  Catch it.  Catch it.  Before it’s gone.

Aug 29 2008


Yes yes yes!  It finally fucking sold!  And who do we have to thank (besides the young couple who is buying it)?  Saint Joseph and La Virgen del Valle – sweet mama of God!  And what’s in the foil neck roll, you ask?  No, it’s not a joint, although that was heavily considered.  In that suspicious looking packet is a little bit of baby August’s hair.  In my delirious desire to sell our house I went a little voodoo on top of crazy fly-by-night Catholic, and it occurred to me that we needed a bit of August’s hair so that it would sell in August.  Logical, right?

We had buried Saint Joseph in the backyard in the spring, but he wasn’t exactly working his mojo, so Doctor Dash exhumed him and put him in a fine cigar box donated by Salt and Pepper Polymath.  We added La Virgen for some company, a bit of comfy bedding, and the rest is history.

So, thank you to our friends Ivory Tickler and Sweet Jessamine for not thinking us completely insane and for showing up on our doorstep with a little foil packet containing a lock of their newborn baby’s hair within minutes of our sheepish call.  

Joseph, Mary and August – it worked, you sexy mother fuckers, it worked!!!!

Aug 16 2008

Whorin’ and Chewin’

shapeimage_2-1_4You would think that after eleven years of marriage, you know someone cold.  You think you know his idiosyncracies and quirks, his likes and dislikes, his pet peeves, his turn-ons.   You can smell mood changes on the wind, track shifting interests by the dog-eared pages of magazines, the cracked spines of books.  

But, but, but . . . then he starts in on something new, slowly at first . . . and then with increasing impunity, with nary a care for how I feel about it. Until the day when, in an act of unfettered defiance, he fills the front compartment of my minivan with the most flamboyant and shocking assortment of fruity gum I have ever laid eyes on.  You open the doors of my minivan and it smells like Chiquita Banana’s leotard after Sweatin’ to the Oldies.  Bluh.

Back in the day, if we had been going on a road trip, a Plenty Pack of blue Extra would have been all we needed to be happy.  Through our twenties, peppermint was the mainstay, although we occasionally ventured over to Trident – sometimes you simply want a smaller piece of gum in your mouth.  At some point during med school, Doctor Dash started experimenting with green gum and dark blue gum.  I can’t say I was happy, but I eventually learned to tolerate a piece of spearmint or wintergreen gum in a pinch.  Plus Dash had to study a lot, so I figured his little gum forays were a way to keep the monotony at bay.  Harmless.

Then things started getting weird.  I began to find crumpled wrappers guiltily stuffed into his pockets, strewn behind his bowl of loose change – paper wisps whispering a secret, smelling of something foreign and unwelcome.  I could no longer turn a blind eye and pretend I didn’t know.

There it was:  cold, hard evidence of Orange-mint. Melon-mint.  

Dash was dabbling in flavors that don’t exist in nature and are obviously the lewd invention of fast talking slick jicks with overdeveloped masticator muscles –  guys with shiny ties and lots of product in their hair who sit with their feet on their desks and pride themselves on being able to come up with flavor profiles that’ll knock the socks off Jamie Lynn Spears – Wrigley Company idea-men with loud voices and a low tolerance for any resistance from the lab guys, who they refer to as the nerkles, as in: “Tell that fucking nerkle I don’t give a shit if acai berries are combustible when you mix’em with spearmint! Make it happen!

And it seems like the faster these guys come up with audacious concoctions, the faster Doctor Dash and a bevy of thirteen year old girls line up to buy them, eager to try the next big thing.  Oh my God!  This Pomegranate Passion is like sooooo amazing!  Oh my God, it’s like totally my new fave!  I am soooo over Bubblemint!

Call me old fashioned, but I just don’t think it is becoming for a man approaching forty to chew Maui Melon Mint, or Sangria Fresca, or Fabulous Fruitini.  His packs of gum should not be peach or pink or lime green.  He should not be co-mingling with a demographic that is all about the mall, sparkly lipgloss and Miley Cyrus.  It’s simply not appropriate.

Come back to the mint, Doctor Dash. 

Aug 13 2008

The warm and fleshy bosom of home.

shapeimage_2-2_3There is nothing like returning to the place where I grew up.  It never fails to send me into a spiral of adolescent regression.  We have been visiting my family in Michigan for five days and although it is lovely to see everyone and for everyone to see us, I don’t particularly care for my attitude.  

I have slipped into a fog – a dreamy torpor.  I can’t think.  I can’t write.  The only thing I want to to do is lounge around and read magazines . . . sleep, eat, watch TV.  In short, I want to be sixteen again.  

I don’t want to worry about my kids.  I don’t want to worry about my worries.  I want to be left alone.  I want to pick the apple skins out of my braces, throw my hair in a ponytail and race off to tennis practice.  I want to cruise over to the white colonial on Chesterfield Road, pick up my best friend Susie in my Buick Electra and drive to a matinee, shrieking and giggling and weaving in and out of traffic the whole way.  I want to stew in my juices, wallow in my angst, tape songs off the radio, daydream in a swaying hammock, drive to the drugstore just because I want a new flavor of gum, a new color of nail polish.  I want to meander up and down the cool carpeted aisles of the Bloomfield Hills Public Library, picking a pile of books to read in my yellow beanbag chair.  I want to go to a concert at Pine Knob, smoke a joint and fall over on the grassy hill because I’m laughing so hard.  

I want to go back to being the center of my world.  

I want to go back to being taken care of.

I want to go back to when everything was still ahead of me.

Aug 6 2008


stairsLast year Doctor Dash and I celebrated our tenth anniversary.  We booked a room at the Graves Hotel and had a crazy delicious meal at La Belle Vie.  We chose the tasting menu and as the graceful and efficient waitstaff paraded out course after course on winged feet, Dash and I sat in the luxe and civilized room, our faces flushed from the wine and turned our plates slightly to admire the gorgeous and unfathomable creations being set forth by the kitchen.  What a feast!  Really, truly, it was an amazing dinner – the best I’ve ever had.  It was an unforgettable anniversary: indulgent, celebratory, luxurious, happy.

This past Saturday we celebrated our eleventh anniversary, although “celebrated” is a bit of an overstatement.  We were in the throws of moving to our new house across the creek: Casa Norte.  We left Casa Sur staged for showings, taking with us all unsightly evidence of our existence, like the TV.  Apparently, buyers like to believe that they won’t watch TV in their new home. They like to believe that they will better themselves in myriad ways, metamorphizing into bookish intellectuals, gourmet cooks, charming hostesses, green-thumbed gardeners.  So, happy as I am to procrastinate moving anything I don’t have to, I strategically placed a bunch of smart books around our extremely edited home, so they can dream on. Dream on.

As each piece of furniture was carried out the door, I watched the anxiety mounting for Devil Baby.  Her eyes bugged, her mouth formed itself into a cheerio and she wailed, “Oh noooo!  It’s goooone!”  The poor little thing bounced around like an errant ping pong ball, crying, being shooed out of the movers’ way, relentlessly demanding a Dora bandaid and generally being ignored as we frantically packed and cleaned.

The first night we slept at Casa Norte was a disaster.  My visions of a fun camping adventure flapped away like frantic bats as Saint James and Supergirl took turns freaking out.  You know, the kind of behavior that is really about something else.  The kind of behavior that, if witnessed by anyone outside of your nuclear family, causes you to say things like: “I don’t know what’s gotten into him, he’s never like this, he must be really tired, he’s had such a longdayweekmonthyear.

I think Saint James’ exact words, if I heard correctly through his blubbering, were:  “I hate this house.  This house sucks.”  

On our eleventh anniversary Doctor Dash and I were trapped in that wretched moving fugue . . . the sense of melancholy, dread and rootlessness weighing down the boxes even more than the objects within.  Dante should have included a tenth circle of hell where the eternally damned pack and unpack and repack boxes, relentlessly hoisting, heaving,sweating.  Isn’t it always boiling hot and humid as the breath of a dog on moving day?  It just is.  I would like to know if anyone has ever moved in the winter.  It just doesn’t happen.  It’s like Newton’s law, or Murphy’s law – Peevish Mama’s Law: if you move, the dew point will be seventy and every nook and cranny of your body will be as moist as the day is long to add to the general misery already inherent in moving.

Because it was our anniversary, Dash and I had plans to stop by a friend’s 40th birthday party for a couple drinks before heading out for dinner.  Ambitious, no?  It had seemed like a good idea when I booked the sitter two weeks ago.  I couldn’t imagine, however, bringing everything to a screeching halt to shower and make myself presentable.  I couldn’t imagine switching gears so abruptly:  from resigned, depressed, downtrodden, stinking, pack mule to lively, sparkly, sweet smelling gal about town.  

Mostly, I couldn’t imagine leaving our emotionally ragged kids with a sitter – in a house with no furniture, no less.

We needed to circle the wagons and chill, not drag our tired carcasses to a dinner we would have eaten in exhausted silence.  Fortunately, Doctor Dash was on the same page, so I cancelled the sitter, cancelled our plans and instead we took the kids for an evening swim.  I would love to say that the swim tuckered them out and they slept like babies, but on night number two they were just as riled up and out of control as the first night.  After much drama and crying and bed swapping, everyone finally drifted off.  

As silence slithered from room to room, ultimately wrapping itself around the whole house, Dash and I poured a couple glasses of wine and poked around, flicking light switches, stepping on bubble wrap, peering around unfamiliar corners, running our hands along the smooth banisters.  

We like this house, although we are a little awestruck.  She’s a faded beauty, a fancy and imposing madam.  Like Dame Judi Dench after a wild and protracted bender. She’s in need of someone to pick her up, dust her off, get her all primped, painted, pretty and ready for the Oscars.  I think Dash and I are up for the task.  We padded around, talking in soft voices, trying to decipher how we will make this strange and beautiful space our own, imagining the possibilities for this new shelter of ours.   

Happy eleventh, baby.  

Aug 1 2008


pizzaThis was supposed to be dinner last week, but then the dominos happened.  Worth the wait.  For my foody friends, no, I didn’t make the crust.  I cannot bring myself to bust out the flour when I need to keep the kitchen cleanish.  I also have a bit of a dough-phobia which, I think, stems from my inability to measure with any precision, which in turn stems from my general state of haste and impatience.  I don’t do dough.  But I will.  I want to.  I want to be one of those annoying people who smugly acts like making a pie crust is the easiest thing in the world.   

An unexpected by-product of this blog is that I find myself doing odd things like carrying a cooked pizza around my yard until I find a sunny spot in which to photograph it.

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