Monday, January 30, 2012

Elvis gets me every time.

   Vvvvvv, vvvRRRRROOOOOOM, KA-CHUUUUUUSHHHHHHH, BrrrrrrrVVVVrrrrrrrrr... went the bus.
   "Wiiiiiiiise meeeeen saaaaaaay, only fooooools ruuuuush iiiin....." the radio was crooning Mr. Presley over the speakers up in the top front corners of the bus. Taking in a deep breath, I could almost zero in and envelop myself in that sound....


   Stupid stops. Stupid whoever behind me wanting to get off. The driver had only made it two blocks for Pete's sake?! Couldn't you have gotten off back when I got on.... oh well.... I must be hungry, that's the only reason I'd be this bitchy at 10:00 PM at night... focus on the music....

"If IIIIII caaaaaan't heeeeelp, falling in loooooove wiiiith youuuuu,"

Ahhhhhh..... I love Elvis. Starting to hum to myself, I pulled my pack a little closer to my sternum on my lap, peeking out the window into the fog swirling around the bus as it moved down the empty street. A few, bland, lonely flickering street lamps lit the road ahead of us.

   "YOU have a great voice."

   Jerking up my bag, hitting my knee on the seat in front of me, and nearly peeing my pants all at once, I realized the  voice had come from the driver in front of me, not some creepy dude sitting in the shadows on a practically empty bus behind me. Though I suppose that would have been considered romantic by some people.

   In a horror movie kind of way.

   "Oh. Thanks." I said sheepishly embarrassed and turning (I'm sure) the color of a pink tomato.

    Jeebus, he'd scared me half to death! I hadn't even realized that I was singing loudly enough for someone to hear... then again, it was just us on this giant blue and white twinkie of a vehicle.  I blinked and realized I'd been holding my breath, so I exhaled as silently as I could and tried to focus on the blurry buildings behind the fog as we turned onto the paved-not-quite-interstate-road that would take me toward Newmarket.

   "You can keep singing if you want to. I don't mind. As I said, you have a really nice voice."

   Not knowing what to do about this statement, I just nodded to him with an awkwardly uncomfortable smile in that big goofy looking mirror that all busses have, so that drivers can monitor their passengers.

   You know, make sure that people aren't punching each other, making out, getting to 3rd base or passing around drugs... oh wait, that's what junior high bus drivers did. I'm sure this kid was just a student trying to make some extra money by driving for the uni.

   Staring at the zipper on my ridiculously heavy-laden pack, I hoped he wouldn't mention it again. It was really kind of him to say he enjoyed my singing, but it was weird too... though why it's weird for people to compliment each other I don't know. It had to be because we were the only two souls riding on a university bus after 10 at night. Through fog.

  My apartment was coming up. I could see the cars in the driveway. Silent, ghostly, mini-whales, sleeping in the deep of the thick, swirling mist. The kitchen light glowed warmly and invitingly at me. I knew my 3 quadmates would be waiting in the kitchen. We were going to do some D.D.R. in the living room with tequila. Best. Roomies. Ever.


   "Thanks for the ride," I mumbled scooting past the driver. He smiled at me. Not a bad smile at all. His eyes looked tired, and his knit hat had pushed his hair over one eye. He looked goofy, but like he might be sweet and not too scary after all.

   "Sing on my bus anytime," he said softly, grinning.

   "Sure," I said smiling myself. It was hard not to after making eye contact. Hazel. Why do I have such a thing for eyes....

He winked at me and slid the doors open with a whine and a thump.  I turned and promptly fell down the steps of the bus.

  "Whoa! You ok?" he said with genuine concern, and a not-so-hidden smile. Man I'm such a klutz sometimes.

   "HA! Yeah, fine," I said brushing myself off and giggling like the idiot I was. "Have a nice rest of your route."

   "You too. Walk safely."  The bus pulled away, growling down the road and I scuffed my feet up our walk way, thinking to myself,

  Gosh darn Elvis.

This morning, as I walked along, humming to myself, I realized I had a tune stuck in my head. At first it was a tune called "Suspicion," by the late, great King himself, and then I switched over to "Fools Rush In."

When I was in college I would often sing on my walks around campus. I'd get out of rehearsal late; sometimes close to 1:00 AM and I always felt safer belting out a song as I trod home with my weapon of a half-full nalgene bottle (thanks C.W.) than not.

The little narrative above is basically a blip of one of the many times I would start singing without even realizing I was doing it. I still do that a lot. J thinks it's funny, endearing and cute, bless him. I don't understand how I, an admittedly auditory person, can sing and not know that I'm making sound.

Oh well, hopefully people don't mind too much.  Our giant cats don't. They sing too sometimes. Especially if we're not in the same room that they are. I like to think of them as big ole' gospel cats, meeeowing a call and response spiritual. :-D

Here are some pictures. I've mentioned them enough times that I'm sure some of you wanna' see. So here:
Oberon sleeping. Something he does very well and quite often.

                                              Seuss napping during "Bad Boys," the movie.

All right, I think I've regaled you enough with cats and lost snippets of memories. Have a great day, if you feel like it. If you don't, well, spread the grumpy, I'm sure something amusing will come of it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reasons I love Sunday mornings...

   "Miss, you forgot your toilet paper!" shouted the cashier, running after me, my mini-cart threatening to roll down the cobbles into the parking without my body behind it.

   "Whoops! Thanks!" I said cheerfully as she piled it on top of my two filled-to-bursting cloth grocery bags. An apple was attempting to escape through the hole Seuss had chewed in the middle of it's side.

   The sun was out and it was a really beautiful morning. Not like the morning I wrote about a day ago. No, today it was 60 degrees outside. Never mind that I looked like some sort of crazed college student with a cold; my red nose and the didn't-sleep-but-sneezed-all-last-night, hair is unraveling from it's long braid, baggy sweatshirt and jeans ensemble.

   As J and I had realized yesterday, we'd both forgotten to purchase coffee filters. I remedied that this morning... along with our shortage of apples, sweet potatoes, zucchini, green tea, vegan dark chocolate, almond milk, and all the other number of organic tasty-treats continued that our cupboards were lacking.

   I LOVE my grocery store. Sometimes we go to the little one down the street from our house, but my favorite store is UNMATCHED in every way. I love the open layout, the flowers right when you walk in, the produce being up front, the organics easy to find, the friendly hippie staff, the DAVE MATTHEWS BAND piping through the aisles... sigh... it's pretty difficult to beat that place.

   This morning, I rode with J to the coffee shop, mentally cursing myself for not picking up the aforementioned filters on Saturday, but hell, I'm only human. On occasion (ok, mostly) I consider myself a spirit with a human form... still...

   Then, as soon as I got back to the house, I grabbed my shopping list and away we went! My little yellow VW took me to my favorite store in a delightful manner, radio pumping, windows half-way down (it was such a perfect temperature outside), sunglasses on to keep my lil' eyes from frying and most of the other drivers were at church, or eating brunch, or sleeping in, or whatever the heck people usually do on a glorious Sunday morning. I had open roads and a relaxed, lovely trip.

   Normally on Sundays I head to a church and I sing. Note that I did not say I attend service, pray, or recite things I memorized as a small child when I was forced to go. God is cool, Jesus is my homeboy, whatever floats your particular boat. However, my spiritual needs are met in a fashion that does not lend itself to organized religion.

   "Why then, oh Love, WHY do you go to a house of God?" The answer is because a man whom I hold very dear to my heart is the leader of the church's choir. He asked me to come and sing, so I do when I'm able. I used to sing for him in another choir, but he retired (I still perform with that choir, we have a super new conductor) and I miss him, so I go and sing church-y music and the pastor glares at me like the little heathen I am.  The choir congregation is full of sweet ladies and kindly men, so I don't  mind so much.

   Needless to say, I did not sing this morning. I sneezed my way to the market and enjoyed myself in the nearly empty store.

   HALLELUJAH and GLORY BE, I'm in the GROCERY, and there's ONLY MEEEEEE!

   It's the little things in life that matter. Such as not having to squeeze by someone with a half empty cart who has decided not to leave room in the aisle to get by, oh no, but to park perpendicularly to the lane left for passerby traffic in the grocery, while they read each and every label on the tea bins, because HEAVEN FORBID they bring home Lady Grey instead of Earl Grey or caffeinated instead of decaffeinated... but today there was no waiting, no rushing, no crowding and no discussions. :-) It. Was. Delightful.

   I'm sure I forgot some item that our house needs. I usually do. On my last two shopping excursions it was sugar cubes. Couldn't remember the damn things. Yes, yes, I know you may think I'm a batty, little old woman, instead of a 28 year old, but on the incidence of tea-time (I happen to quite enjoy tea-time) I like to have sugar cubes because one makes the tea perfectly sweet, and it's not as easy to measure out one cubic cm of sugar in a spoon (I don't give a damn if that measurement is correct or not, it just goes to prove my point).

   I think perhaps I forget an item or two subconsciously on purpose, because in the back of my mind, I want an excuse to go back to the market sooner, rather than later and mosey around. Happily surveying and smelling the fruit and veggies, reading ingredients, and listening to Dave Matthew's Band, while some guy in dreadlocks or some gal in hemp gently follows me, shadowing me with a smile in case I have any "shopping queries or needs."


Saturday, January 28, 2012

15 Friggin' Degrees!

   "Have you fed and watered the cluck-clucks yet?" I mumbled, pulling my shirt over my crazy mass of red curls.

   "Nope," J said whooshing by me with his backpack to grab his books in the room we affectionately call "the library," which is really our dining room, which is next to the kitchen.

   "POOP. We're out of coffee filters," I hollered after him.

   "Ugh," J groaned, letting his bag fall with a clunk onto the table.

   "Ok, so you'll take care of them and I'll meet you out front to ride together to grab coffee?" I offered.

   "Sure. Sounds good," he said brightening as he pulled on a hat to head outside. I grabbed my shoes and my coat and headed toward our front door, remembering as I unlocked it that I'd forgotten my mug. Turning on my heel I tripped over Obie who promptly growled his angst over breakfast...

He hadn't had any yet.

Sighing to myself, I reminded him what a lucky kitty he was to have meal service so early, and quickly snapped back a cat-food can lid and fed the two monsters weaving my feet, barking at them to, "SIT," which they promptly did because they were starving, since it had been a whole night since dinner.

Yes, our cats can sit. We actually call them dats, because since they like dog-type activities; belly rubs, sitting, fetch, we think they have earned their "d."

That done, I grabbed my mug and jogged out of the kitchen. As I strode outside, the front door banging behind me, I was suddenly struck by the last dream I recalled having during the night. It had woken me up this morning at 4:04 AM in a luke-warm sweat. Shivering to myself, I foggily remembered the details.

Last night I had a dream about wasps. A whole hive of them. Chasing me from inside my parent's house. I had to grab a pink comforter (I don't know why it was pink) and RUN THROUGH the mass of angry winged insects with their floating, creepy, dangly legs and out the front door, up the driveway and onto the dirt road into the dark of the night.

Now, I have respect for all the creatures of the universe, but it is also my opinion that something that can sting you repeatedly, with malice, venom and fervor is an insect to be avoided. Add on top of that the epi-pen I have to carry around with me, and well..... it wasn't a dream but a nightmare, seeing as how one tiny wasp sting can kill me.

I have no idea what this dream is supposed to mean. I admit that I have a healthy respect and fear of yellow and black striped or designed insects with long abdomens ending in wicked protrusions, antennae curled heads and the aforementioned terrifying, slow-motion dangling, swaying legs, but it's WINTER. All the wasps are hibernating or dead. Sigh....

Proof again that my dreams are often crazy (this one was actually tame... I've dreamt a lot of zombies, morphing shadow people, being shot to save other people, parallel universes....)  and if I needed reassurance that the yellow jacket, hornet and wasp species were all lethargic and frozen, I GOT it when I ventured out the front door.

HOLY MOLY it was COLD this morning! As in, 15 whole degrees. I thought I'd moved OUT of New England.... After what seemed a mini-eternity (I'm sure it was all of 5 minutes) J pulled up and we went to get coffee.

Why it's so goshdarn difficult for people around here to make a good cup of joe, I don't understand. Most places can pull an espresso shot that tastes BETTER (even if it's too slow and a bitter draw) than their brewed coffee, which almost always tastes burnt, watery or sour, no matter how early one arrives to get the "A Team," baristas. Well, whatever Trevor. I'm resigned and used to it, and I only order dirty chai or espressos from coffeeshops.

After receiving our drinks, J grabbed me for a quick smooch and a "Have a good day," as he rushed back out to the car to head to work. He works weekends and the buses don't run promptly or often, so he commutes. I gave him a quick squeeze in return, and steeled myself for the two and a half block frigid walk home, clutching my mug for warmth.

I greeted Radio Guy #1 as I trudged up the sidewalk, and he responded with a grin.

   "It's goddamn cold this morning," I said, my breath forming little crystallized clouds as I spoke. He laughed and reminded me that I could come over and record the Public Service Announcements if I liked. Which I did.

So I got to spend the morning at the microphone, something that NEVER gets old and is ALWAYS fun, even if you're a perfectionist like me and don't often like the sound of your voice in the playback. I got to hear myself as a chipmunk, a drunk, someone on speed, and what I might sound like if I were a dude. Let me just say, we had a BLAST!

Jake the amazing golden, by the way, is doing much better and his chipper self again. I know because he felt up to bringing me his ball, not for me to throw of course, but to rest his head on my thigh with his tennis ball in my crotch to say if I decided I would be amicable to throwing said ball, he might be okay with that if I was okay with a small game of tug of war to gain the privilege.

I think now I'm going to do what I planned on this morning: clean the house with dust mite spray, decide what to cook for supper, pick up some recycled paper coffee filters and maybe bake another cake. The cake I bake today, shall maybe have a little brandy in it, because if it's going to be 15 friggin' degrees out, I want something with a little nip to take away the chill for J when he gets home.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

5:00 AM Wake Up Call

Bleary-eyed, I turned to look at the glowing hellish red of my alarm clock.... 4:49 AM it read, the little colon blinking at me fiendishly... Smirking. My clock was smirking unabashedly at me.

   "Why am I awake?" I thought with a cranky sigh... well, it was one of those mornings. One of the earlier ones. We were going to have to get up in less than an hour anyway; 41 minutes to be exact. I rolled onto my side, suddenly flushed and wishing the covers were lighter. Uncomfortably, I  forced my eyes closed and stuck one leg out into the cooler air of the bedroom to radiate my extraneous warmth.

   "Must. Try. To. Sleep. A. Bit. Longerrrrrrrrrr..." I whispered to myself with a sigh.

   Tinkle... rustle, rustle....riiiiip, crunch, crunch, crunch, tinkle, tinkle, tinkle...

   "GodDAMN it SEUSS! LEAVE THE BOX ALONE!" I said, slapping my side of the bed frame.

   The younger of our two maine coon cats loves to eat inedible things. He particularly loves plastic covered anything, buttons, cardboard and paper. Apparently this morning, it was VERY IMPORTANT that he get into a box full of empty metal film cartridges (tinkle) and a package of letter paper (riiiiip, crunch).

Upon my thumping, he leapt onto the bed, fixed me with a reproachful look and whined pathetically.

   "Mmmmmrrow," which translates to, "But you put it under the bed. For me." I grabbed him and none too gently, rolled him up in a corner of the comforter. "Puuurrrrrrrrrrrr," went his motor loudly. Realizing I was cold after having sat bolt upright to holler at the kitty, I scooted back to J, his body delightfully warm....


   J had to be up to catch the early bus, and so I had to be up too. I couldn't in good conscience let him head out to class with no lunch, no breakfast, and therefore no sustenance.

Why is it that whenever a body knows they have to wake up earlier, say an hour or more earlier than usually, to do some extra task in the morning, there appears a tiny, crabby, angry elf that pokes the person in the brain, delightedly waking them up half an hour-ish before the alarm clock sounds?

Conversely, why is it that when one doesn't have to rise early, but say, has an important meeting that day, it's so easy to sleep through the alarm.... I bet that damned elf whispers a spell delicately in the ear of the person. Soothingly it distracts the brain and the auditory system, blocking out the normal body wake-up response... which must be difficult for the little bugger to do without sniggering.

So this morning, we got up early.

 It was black outside. The air thick, chalky, dark and with a viscosity that could be likened to molasses.

After sending J on his way with two thermoses full of hot food, a hot breakfast of backyard eggs in his belly from our "cluck-clucks," (Eenie, Meanie, Miney and Moe) and fresh coffee laced with cinnamon, I decided that early or not, molasses or not,  I was going for my morning walk.

But first, a shower... and some coffee... and feed the yowling mini-lions...

Somehow, I missed the sunrise. Dag-NAB-IT!

Stepping out into the cool morning light, I was struck by the sky, streaked with blue and pink, the trees reaching and unfurling awkwardly upwards, as if they were caught mid-stretch into a twisted, gnarled positioning of limbs.

It was brisk out and delightfully refreshing.  I traded my cranky pants for some cheery ones, my coffee finally kicking in.

Peeking over at the driveway on the North side of my house (I live next to a radio station) I saw that Radio Guy 1 and 2's vehicles were parked in their regular spots on the East side of the building. Thinking to myself that I hadn't bothered them in a while, I decided I should bring them some cake.

Everyone likes treats. Most people like cake.

I am frequently messing around in my kitchen due to food allergies, and I quite enjoy doling out my sweet-treat experiments forcefully and cheerfully onto my neighbors, most of whom are male and many who find it exceedingly difficult to say "No, thank you," to a redhead in an apron holding a plate of something warm that smells like chocolate, vanilla, pumpkin, or all three.

Last night I'd made an organic red-velvet cake (gluten-free and vegan because I cannot eat eggs or wheat) on a whim, simply because I'd never made one. It turned out LOVELY.

J is always marveling at my cooking capacity, because I don't often measure when I bake (or cook), nor do I set timers for things. I have always found that it's simply easy for me to eyeball/feel measurements, and I "just know," when it's time to take something off the stove or out of the oven. My grandmother was the same way.

I know that there are a lot of folks out there who believe you MUST MEASURE, especially when baking.  I say, do whatever works for you as an individual.

Surprisingly, and contrary to some published popular opinions, my method does NOT mean that  90% of the time, I have burnt or raw, half-done disgusting things in my kitchen. In reality, my friends and family (many of whom suck at lying) tell me I'm a darn good cook.

 On the exceedingly rare occasion that something's not come out edible as well as pretty for my efforts, it's usually because I was emotionally upset while creating said dish. No kidding. I cannot cook ANYTHING when I'm out of sorts, because it's a recipe for disaster.

Ha. Ha.

 If I'm angry, sad, grumpy or distraught it is INEVITABLE that the cake will stick to the pan, the cookies will burn, the pot will boil over, the sauce will scald, and the veggies will dry out and harden, and I will be a giant GRUMP GRUMP.

Cooking digression now finished... The guys next door like cake, so I brought some over.

We then had a nice discussion covering topics such as why Jake, the amazing golden retriever (who was lying at my feet) wasn't acting like himself, why work is amazing until people get involved, and how it's really frightening when folks over the age of 90 who can't bear to have their independence or their driver's license taken away, decide to solve their navigation/transportation problems by having their grandchildren "tell them directions and when to turn, signal and stop," or by "memorizing where the stop-signs are."

Whoa. Scary.

Just in case any of you were wondering, when I'm old and spunky, my grand-babies (provided they have passed their driver's license exam) will be carting me around.

 Yes, that's right. I'm going to have lil' chauffeurs. Which reminds me of when my cousins and I would drive our Mimi around.... Hmmm, must blog about some Mimi stories... she's good stuff.

Which brings me to a thought: This has turned in to a lovely beginning to the day.

Maybe I'm being too Pollyannaish, but I really think that it's the little things that can change something boring and mediocre into something quite wonderful.

Taking the time to have a nice chat over a cup of coffee and some red-velvet cake to discuss dogs, compassion and blue-haired drivers took me from an early, rude awakening into a pleasant peaceful place.

That's a damn fine morning.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Greetings From Your Friendly Neighborhood Redhead...

    "Is it too windy for my morning walk?" I texted J from the warm, luscious confines of our comforter, knowing he'd already biked to the bus stop and had felt the weather outside this morning at 6:45 AM.
This little text would save me the trouble of dressing for my AM excursion, only to find it too frigid and windy to be outdoors at such an hour.

He had not been excited to get up this morning, groaning as he slid out from beneath the warm covers of our bed, onto the freezing floor of our old house to dress, grab his mug of freshly brewed coffee and dodge our two maine coon kitties yowling for their breakfast, to slip out the door and be carted to work by a large, belching, rumbling dragon of a public transit system.

"It's chilly but not too bad, hurry, the sun is just now coming up :-)," was the doodle-do reply to my cell.

How I love a good sunrise...

Scooting out of the warm spot he'd left, I quickly leapt out of bed, unceremoniously dislodging our two giant cats, who blinked their disapproval as they were rolled around by my antics. Yanking on jeans and a thermal, I grabbed coffee for myself, my green puffer and headed outside.

The first thought I had as the crisp, cold air caused my eyes to tear, was that it smelled like New England this morning.

That, my friends, is how this blog was born today. For some reason, upon returning from my morning constitutional, I decided that I should start a composition project for myself. A reason to write; something I love to do, but had told myself recently, "I just don't have the time all the time to do it!"

Well, no more excuses.

Whether it was the delicious home-y wood-smoke smell snapping at my nose as it floated through the frost-laden trees, or the fact that I could see my breath and feel it instantly freeze and melt on my eyelashes, inspiration struck, and so I've begun.

Perhaps someone will read this eventually. Perhaps not. All I know, is that I'm writing again, and it feels LOVELY!

My intention was to write about how much I missed New England this morning.... though I seem to remember frequently waiting for the bus in VT as a child and not thoroughly enjoying being outside in the windy, biting cold.

I remember the first time that I got to have a snow-day in 4th grade. My family had just moved to New England. Dad and I had waited for 45 minutes, freezing our sweet-little-patooties off (as my Mimi would say) only to be told when Mom poked her head out of the side door and hollered up the drive,


Ahh, memories....

This morning, however, I was thinking more along the lines of the Christmas march we used to take. My folks live in a small village in VT (note how I said 'village,' and not 'town,' since we don't have the population for that designation) where every December 24th there is a candle-lit march to an extremely old church which has no electricity, no bathrooms and no heat.

Everyone walks humming, or silently down the frozen dirt road, through the dark canopy of trees, their faces glowing as though lit from within, eyes darkened and dancing over the candles in their hands to the  high-ceilinged structure. Once everyone files inside, it's a glorious scene: candles on every conceivable surface-- never mind that the church's interior is completely made of ancient, dry wood.

Families squeeze into box-like tall sided pews and the little ones, who's hands and faces aren't warm enough despite the candles, mittens, hats, scarves and snowsuits, wriggle to get under the blankets their grandmothers, aunts, uncles, grandfathers and parents have brought, since it's so cold out that the wind daren't even blow.

   Then, people begin to sing. They sing every carol imaginable. All the usual ones, and then some.

 I think perhaps it's because when you're singing, you have no way to notice that you can no longer feel your fingers and toes, or the tip of your nose, and that in-fact, your lungs are working so hard to warm-up the air for you to expel, that you actually feel as though you're sweating along with each shiver. You feel warmer.

After the impromptu service of the carols, everyone trickles out through the big dark doors of the church. Outside, the stars are winking and flickering in the deep midnight-black of the sky. It's now so cold that every intake of breath stings a little, and walking is made slightly more treacherous because of the black ice layer over the packed dirty snow on the road, but nobody cares, because something magical has just happened. Everyone has come, all-together, to celebrate and sing in the woods, something that humans have been doing for a long, long time.

That's what I was reminded of this morning, even though it's almost February, and the holiday season has been long finished.

It's just that sometimes, I find myself longing for the exact smell of snow falling on the water, for real wood burning in stoves, spicy and comforting and smoky. For maple syrup boiling down in the sugar house, coating faces, hair, and clothes in a sweet cloud that you can smell and even taste after you've left the hot steamy room. I miss the swirling colors of drifts of soft snow as it falls silently overhead in big fluffy flakes, almost in slow motion against the black sky, the trees outlined by a single street-lamp reflecting the rainbows in the descending crystals.

Make no mistake, I love Colorado. I love the altitude, the clear air, the smell of the pine-needles, the vanilla bark trees and the blue of the sky contrasted against the purple-charcoal mountains.

Sometimes though, I miss what's past and what I know is still out there. New England holds the Christmas magic for me, and I'll always long for the moonlight on the snow.