See Right Through Your Plastic Mac

As far as I can tell, I’ve been in physical therapy twice a week since before Christ roamed the earth with his trusty dinosaurs. Mr. DBK asked last week what my complaint was, since apparently I complain with great enthusiasm but few specifics. My bad. Back when the sports doctor stared at my X-rays and turned pale, he saw three separate problems: an S-I joint wildly out of alignment, arthritis in the hip joint he’d expect to see in a person approaching retirement and the whole hip was twisted to the left. The X-ray didn’t show two angry muscle groups staging their own protests. On the one hand: it was a tremendous relief when contact with the medical profession didn’t leave me frustrated and the professional scratching her/his head. On the other hand: FUCK! It sounded like I was looking at hip replacement. Let me tell you something about replacement hips: they dislocate with flexion greater than 90 degrees. That would certainly leave a mark on my illustrious career as a dirty whore.

It would have been hypocritical to write about greener living when I was driving everywhere. I came very close to buying a cane and I probably will in the next year or so, but with a lot of therapeutic work, a few adaptations and a stream of obscenities in my wake that’d make a sailor proud, I can now walk to and from work most days. Hooray and all, but I’m not prepared to get back on my carbon footprint soapbox yet until I work out why one muscle group won’t fall in and the therapist is frustrated. So: twice a week, the therapist sticks her elbow into knotted spots near my rump that would elicit screams if I were a normal person, but I laugh. Someday, this will be a rip-roaring story. Why wait?

Pete and I are shopping for an umbrella clothesline like Pete’s mother had. It was second base when we played kickball in his backyard. That was a great thing: hitting your head – clang! – on second base. Drying clothes outdoors is good for us because it’ll save gas and electricity. One of the tenants hang-dries her clothes inside her apartment, which is just silly. We can benefit, she too. Clotheslines run between $50-$100. Soon, I think!

Another thing we’re working on is a leaf shredder. We live under huge old trees and in the fall, Pete counts on raking up at least a dozen of those municipally distributed bags of leaves, while I thank Kali there’s a halfway decent chocolatier in town so I’m nibbling so-so bonbons while he’s working that hard. So anyway, it dawned on me that if we shredded leaves we could stop buying mulch at Lowe’s. Hooray and all, I bet I could get a mowing attachment on a Segway, if I put my mind to it, but I might need my mind later. It would be silly to lose it now.

Hear Me You Don’t Even

New York fucking Times:

Sotomayor’s Sharp Tongue Raises Issue of Temperament

What what what?

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s Supreme Court choice, has a blunt and even testy side, and it was on display in December during an argument before the federal appeals court in New York. The case concerned a Canadian man who said American officials had sent him to Syria to be tortured, and Judge Sotomayor peppered a government lawyer with skeptical questions.

“So the minute the executive raises the specter of foreign policy, national security,” Judge Sotomayor asked the lawyer, Jonathan F. Cohn, “it is the government’s position that that is a license to torture anyone?”

Mr. Cohn managed to get out two and a half words: “No, your hon- .”

Judge Sotomayor cut him off, then hit him with two more questions and a flat declaration of what she said was his position. The lawyer managed to say she was wrong, but could not clarify the point until the chief judge, Dennis G. Jacobs, stepped in, asking, “Why don’t we just get the position?”

This sounds really familiar, but I can’t fucking place it –

Other lawyers, though, are not so enamored. In the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, which conducts anonymous interviews with lawyers to assess judges, she has gone from generally rave reviews to more tepid endorsements. Among the comments from lawyers was that she is a “terror on the bench” who “behaves in an out-of-control manner” and attacks “lawyers for making an argument she doesn’t like.”

Ringing a distant bell – so, so close –

“Some lawyers just don’t like to be questioned by a woman,” Judge Calabresi added. “It was sexist, plain and simple.”

I remember now! It was Mrs. Ornstein’s tenth grade English class.

Gentlemen, importune me no farther,
For how I firmly am resolved you know;
That is, not bestow my youngest daughter
Before I have a husband for the elder:
If either of you both love Katharina,
Because I know you well and love you well,
Leave shall you have to court her at your pleasure.

[Aside] To cart her rather: she’s too rough for me.
There, There, Hortensio, will you any wife?

I pray you, sir, is it your will
To make a stale of me amongst these mates?

Mates, maid! how mean you that? no mates for you,
Unless you were of gentler, milder mould.

I’faith, sir, you shall never need to fear:
I wis it is not half way to her heart;
But if it were, doubt not her care should be
To comb your noddle with a three-legg’d stool
And paint your face and use you like a fool.

From all such devils, good Lord deliver us!

And me too, good Lord!

Hush, master! here’s some good pastime toward:
That wench is stark mad or wonderful froward.

Nothing’s as fresh as seventeenth-century sexism. Also: they suck as theater critics if they don’t know what play they’re seeing. The least the New York fucking Times could do is demand that these fuckers write their poison-pen OpEds that pass for reporting in iambic pentameter. Truly: that’s the least it could do.

Updated to reflect common understandings of sentence structure and moral sloth.

Of the Memory Of Late Nights

Indoor Furry Overlords passing notes in French class.

We’ve been feeding the outside cats because they keep the squirrels and the birds out of our gardens. Sort of. Two bluejays have adopted the tree in our backyard from which they heckle us and the cats. The cats are taking it pretty well. They give the squirrels a run for their money, gnaw the heads off field mice and prowl around the place like a pride of lions – at least until the skunk turns up.

A Borrowed Dream Or A Superstar

Miniscule cat and stiff ursine friend.

This morning, I woke up at 4 out of a sound sleep, lying flat on my back. Tiny Drusy was perched on my chest and we were nose to nose. My right hand was petting her. I’d been keeeessing her in my sleep. Because I loooove the Princess Drusy, even in my dreams.

Man, my subconscious is SO CORNY.

Sometimes You Picture Me

How did you spend your Memorial Day? Pete and I drove up to Hacklebarney State Park, hiked through the woods and along the creek banks in the mossy cool of a sun-dappled morning. The air smelled fresh and green. We met people walking the other way on the trails and everyone smiled. Leashed dogs capered in the creek to the frustration of fly fishermen. One of the most striking elements of hike was that people of all kinds greeted us with the same unguarded eyes. We took pictures like this one, rested on benches, and hiked off trail up rocky embankments. It was a test for my hip that my hip passed, then we ate sandwiches. On our way home, we stopped at the rose garden for a sunny walk, then we ate sandwiches. At home, we sang along with Pete Seeger while we prepared dinner, which turned out not to have a speck of meat in it. Essentially, we communed peacefully with nature, then ate it. Hooray!

Between the hike and the rose garden we stopped at a farm store. Pete got out and walked toward the building. I ran for the goat pen and stopped short. About twenty feet in front of me stood two benches. One one, a teenage boy slumped facing away from me, completely oblivious. Between the two benches stood a fully grown male goat, staring at me. I turned around and said, “Pete, get the camera.”

The goat trotted off to this tree, climbed up and started munching on the leaves about ten feet to my left. I’m just out of the frame here. I was overjoyed! A family of picnickers grabbed its little children up off the ground but nobody panicked. I looked around to see if employees had noticed the escapee but for a while no, I was standing there on the lawn between the stray goat, the picnickers and the parking lot, laughing like the goat was wearing last season’s cargo shorts. I mean, really. Finally, an employee appeared, walked past me and lunged at the goat, who appeared to say, Whoa, dude. Like, dude! and bolted for the chicken enclosure. I said, “That goat appears to know you.” He nodded and took off after the goat. For the next ten minutes, the goat bolted here and there and the employee gave chase. I almost swallowed my tongue! Inside the pen, baby goats capered with other kids. Their frenetic little tails gestured madly. I turned back toward the parking lot and realized the teenage boy on the bench was playing a video game and never noticed the goat standing next to him. I was at gamboling distance, but the boy was two feet away and saw nothing. Then we bought spinach.

Telling Where the Money’s Gone

I look but sometimes can’t see.

Everest, from NASA’s Image of the Day Gallery. No matter how I squint, my eye doesn’t make this into a mountain.

Two weeks from today, NYC Swim hosts the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. My cousins are coming from Guatemala to participate. It’s very exciting: the woman who’s my age fought a tough battle with breast cancer a few years back and decided to get revenge on her body by becoming a triathlete. This is worth mentioning because so few of us get up off our deathbeds to run marathons, let alone take a dip in the East River, which has to be at least as toxic as chemotherapy. I don’t know how she’s finding the strength to do this swim but it’s made me examine seriously what I think is possible and of what I might be capable. I mean, seriously. This morning I took a container gardening class, which caused me a major attack of stage fright.

“Waaah!” I waaahed, “What if I’m stupid?” Pete burst out laughing.
“You’re not stupid. Your brain is clogged with smart.”
“What if someone asks me a simple question and I answer with things I learned before my brain short-circuited?”*
“Like times tables?”
“Just like the times tables!”
“If you studied in third grade you’ll actually be right.”

I was so frazzled I left the house without my usual IV drip of coffee, but it turned out I had nothing to worry about because my friends Siobhan and Mary, plus the Fabulous Ex-Husband’s current wife Karen all met me there, and the teacher was fully crazy. The class focused on aesthetics and decorative plants, which don’t interest me. As Siobhan said, “Turns out that unless I’m going to eat it I can’t demonstrate the commitment to watering.” After about 45 minutes of basics, the whole class got up to get squishy with dirt. I’d brought gloves and plant pots but developed a shocking case of ennui when it became apparent that only a person with an in-depth knowledge of what plants need what conditions could set up one of these planters, and I’m already growing mesclun mix in window boxes.

“I accidentally took a class on fertilizer once,” Siobhan said.
“For your minor in art history?”
“I forgot the K stood for potash, not potassium.”
“I’ve lost a lot of shirts to potash,” Mary lamented.
“Where did they go?” I asked innocently.

Karen was having a grand old time, but the rest of us thanked the teacher and went on ways merrier than we imagined. The trick to doing it is – apparently – just doing it. I’m back at square one, where I belong.

*Yep. To this day, I blame it on a tragic feather boa accident.

Understand You Understand

The neighbors are rebuilding a fence that recently failed to resist gravity in any meaningful way. An older, shirtless man I don’t know is directing a teenage boy in Hungarian. It is a beautiful language, full of nuance; I grew up hearing Hungarian spoken by my next door neighbor, a ballet teacher who fled Europe during the Revolution. The teenage boy, who last fall was the subject of an exciting police raid, is kind of handsome and thoroughly stupid. Yesterday, I took a vacation day and attempted the highly difficult mid-week sleep in. The boy’s car alarm went off at 8:00 and after an eternity, he finally shut it off. I hope it’s a good fence.

Pander To My Taste For Candor

Today, I’ve been preoccupied with Topaz’s labored breathing. The poor darling makes the same face people do when we have headaches. Mostly, she stays upstairs in the attic, where it’s warm and she has fresh water. At the moment, she’s walking around on the counters in the kitchen like nothing’s up. Yesterday, she curled up on my lap for a couple of hours, which she has never done, so things are up and down. Cross your fingers, Madame just has a cold.

So I made pizza for dinner and cut the kinds of corners busy people do. Stop & Shop sells inexpensive 12″ whole wheat crusts, two crusts to a package. The crusts do not have much flavor. Think of them as blank canvases that won’t kick your digestive tract’s ass. I brush each with olive oil, then flavor with garlic, basil and whatever rocks my boat that day. The toppings: chopped spinach, a broccoli crown, half each of a red, orange and yellow pepper, 1-1/3 pieces of turkey sausage, 2/3 cup ricotta, salt, pepper, grated parmesan cheese. I forgot the diced tomato but didn’t miss it. If you can operate a pairing knife, you can make this pizza for yourself and – and here’s the key – it’s actually good for you. If you’re a vegetarian, leave off the sausage. Still good for you. You can eat it for breakfast without regrets.

In the meantime, I devoted my time to making special chicken stock for cats. Georg recommended gravy for dogs I’ve had zero luck finding, but suggestions are still welcome. With boiled chicken and special stock, I’m in grave danger of becoming the Mama Celeste of the cat world.