Wednesday, July 30, 2008

ode to my little brother (the occasionally annual card)

it seems like I've known you forever
I know that I've known you so long
I never thought we'd ever be this old
or I'd be putting it down in a song

I'm sorry for all the moments
I tried to ditch you in open fields
and make you play with my Barbies
and leave you stranded atop ferris wheels

And I forgive you trying to kill me
by hotwiring my bedroom door
I wasn't the sweetest of sisters
I probably deserved it and more

but they said it never would happen
I told you it just couldn't be
but your childhood prayers have been answered
you're finally older than me.

Happy Birthday, Bro-lio!!

I couldn't have asked for a better brother

lots of love and hugs,
your (suddenly) younger sister, and Turk

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

man down!

There I was, standing in the kitchen, drying a glass and getting a productive start on my day by doing some preliminary staring into space, when a sudden boom jolted me into consciousness.
The boom was followed by another hard jolt ~ the house rocked, the floor rolled, walls and lamps swayed, and anything breakable rattled. Californians tend to get pretty jaded about the occasional hiccups of the earth's surface, taking bets on the number seismologists would later declare, but I'd be lying if I didn't say it was the first time in a long time I experienced a little thrill of fear during an earthquake. I actually found myself standing under a doorway, although for the life of me I couldn't remember why. Turns out it was a 5.4 magnitude, which is a moderate size tumbler, the epicenter of which was located not far from here, in Chino Hills.

Fortunately, I've heard of no injuries or serious damage. Here at the house, although tchotchkes leapt off shelves and medicine cabinets popped open of their own volition, there've been no casualties. Except for one, of great sentimental value.

My groundbreaking but much under appreciated sculpture, Pink Floyd Boy, suffered a near-fatal injury. I made him in college in a ceramics class, where I briefly fantasized about a career as a young (well, relatively) Beatrice Wood, and he holds a special place in my heart. With patience and a little gorilla glue, I believe he can be saved. Another bullet dodged. It's gonna be a great day.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

martha stewart doesn't live here anymore

It was not my sort of place at all.

It was a balmy evening in May in 2002 when we pulled into the tiny hamlet of Mariposa, California (population 1,380) located just outside our ultimate destination, Yosemite National Park. Weary from pounding the road and short with each other, we drove around in search of a room, a drink and a meal, very much in that order. Averse to chain motels but unwilling to share a bathroom in the name of historical authenticity, we settled on a festively pink and white Victorian-looking inn, which beckoned with the promise of whimsy, historical relevance and, most importantly, en suite baths. Unfortunately, the rooms themselves were located not in the main house but in a contemporary annex just off the front porch. By annex, I mean a low motel-like structure, and by contemporary, I mean circa 1969.

Funky motel, and I do mean that in a bad way, just off 152, I huffed, writing
in full-blown princess mode in my travel journal late that night. The Burgundy Room ~ all shag carpeting and veneer, reeks of old smoke and disinfectant. I don't know how I'll ever get to sleep....

At which point I promptly fell asleep, as evidenced by the pen mark weaving it's way drunkenly to the bottom of, and eventually off, the page. So much for my delicate sensibilities.

The next morning, over fresh fruit, homemade chocolate cake and coffee served by the owner's husband, we met the lady of the house herself. Tall and elegant, she was glamorously, but tastefully, made-up at 8:00 in the morning. Turk swears she was well over 80, although I thought perhaps 70-ish. She carried herself with the confidence of a woman still certain of her beauty, as she had every reason to be. We were joined by her friend of many years, an ex-showgirl who had been one of the original Rockettes, and whose late husband had been, at various points in his career, a stand-in for Vincent Price, a theatrical agent and a Las Vegas entertainer. Apparently, the two women and their husbands had had some rollicking good times together before all four retired to this quiet little town, and I marvelled and envied both their joyfully youthful style and the depth and longevity of their mutual bond.

At some point, this delightfully fascinating woman invited us into her living quarters/parlor in the original building. I have never seen anything quite like it before or since. She, or someone, had painted everything in sight ~ wooden cabinets, plastic lawn furniture ~ you name it, it was covered with paint and scenes of birds, flowers, landscapes ~ whatever had taken the painter's fancy. A huge scarf with enormous open squares was draped over a grand piano like a great yellow web spun by a demented spider. Our hostess
had crocheted it herself, just as she had the rag rugs made from her husband's old shirts that were scattered all over the floor. Victorian tchotchkes perched on every available surface, adding to the sense of exuberant chaos.

But my absolutely favorite thing about the room was the mural. Her sister had painted it, she told me,
and it took up two entire, rather large, walls. It was a free-flowing, non-sequential series of scenes and family portraits depicting the couple's colorful history together. Smiling, disembodied heads floated next to bucolic landscapes, which might be situated above a detailed rendering of a beloved dog or house or bird. They added to it, she said laughing, as the mood took them. It was mad. It was eccentric. It was wonderful.

I knew I wanted to be more like this lovely woman; to adopt some of her spiritual independence. This, I thought, is how women ought to be allowed to age; confident, vibrant, full of zest. This, I realized, is how I wanted to create my home ~ full of art that has meaning, created in pleasure and meant to bring joy to those who live and spend time there. Who cares what an interior decorator might think? Or your neighbors? Or the mental health practitioners, who will no doubt soon be knocking on your door? This is for you, your family, your friends. Home is where the heart is, after all. And mine is a wild and eccentric thing.

When we got back to the house I surveyed my tasteful but empty walls, covered in the pale blue floral chosen by a previous owner. I dragged out the small set of oils I'd purchased years ago and never used. I painted
Red Tulips and hung it in my kitchen, where it still hangs today. I like it. It looks the way I meant it to look, always a happy surprise ~ bright and colorful, yet tinged with melancholy; short-lived beauty casting deep shadows into the last long rays of the sun. I know. I may not be crazy yet, but I'm working on it.

Best motel ever.

Monday, July 14, 2008

'toons to the rescue!

Pearls Before Swine

I am so far from achieving my 10-pound-loss-before-posting goal that I am now officially amending it to a 12-pound-loss-before-posting rule.

Also, I am officially breaking it.

Just for a quickie I promise, and just because I really cannot shut up for too long a period of time before all my unresolved issues start building up in my brain tissue, sending subtle messages to my hypothalamus to start making more fat cells, which the hippcampus then transmits to the abdomen, which then hits the blubber ball out of the park. I'm pretty sure that's how it works.

And speaking of science that anyone can just make up however they feel like, the Bush Administration on Friday rejected its own handpicked experts' conclusion that global warming poses a threat to the public welfare, effectively delaying action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions until Barack Obama takes office in January. This actually represents an improvement in the administrations previous methodology, which consisted (I kid you not) of simply refusing to open the EPA's emails until they revised their reccomendations according to White House demands.

Speaking anonymously and off the record, one senior official said only, "La La La La La La! I can't hear you!" while holding his hands over his ears and shutting his eyes really tightly.

Fortunately, there is something we the people can do, and it is something that takes little or no effort, involves absolutely no sacrifice on our part and could even result in the winning of fabulous prizes, which is the nationally preferred method of serving our country.

Choose your Science Idol!

On issues from air quality to global warming, government science
is being censored, manipulated, and distorted on an
unprecedented scale. To draw attention to this problem and have
a little fun, the Union of Concerned Scientists is hosting
Science Idol: the Scientific Integrity Editorial Cartoon

In April and May, they received hundreds of entries. In June,
UCS worked with four highly accomplished, award-winning
cartoonists and cartoon editors to narrow down the field to 12
talented finalists.

Now, all of us have the chance to vote for the 2007 Science
Idol--and win a 2008 Defending Science calendar featuring the
best 12 cartoons.

C'mon, go ahead and vote. Support your favorite cartoonist. It'll make their day, I promise. And it might even make yours.