A Writer's Closet

Welcome to the weird flotsam of a writer's mind . . .

Location: Southern California

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Life and art

My solo trip to the Norton Simon today left me disappointed to find some of my favorite paintings gone. I didn't know the names of the still lifes but they used to mezmerize me, I wanted to reach out and pluck the fruit from the canvas. Now with them gone I wish I had learned more about them. But the Mulberry Tree still stands as do my other favorites from Ruebens and Rembrant. Monet’s garden inspired me to plant my own sunflower seeds, which have been sitting dormant in the garage for two months when they could be my lovely daily view. And I left with a complimentary print of Portrait of Joerg Fugger which reminds me vaguely of Hugh Laurie.

Oh, and I took a cursory tour of the modern art wing. I still don’t get it.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Tao of Jake

I had no intention of keeping Jake when I took him off the street. I was still hurting from the death of my beloved Rottweiler Max six months earlier. I absolutely did not want a dog. Especially an old, filthy, flea ridden, medically-challenged, half-bald stray. But when I saw Jake at a doughnut shop one morning, ignoring food offerings to duck his head under people's hands simply to be petted, he seized my dog lover's heart. "Foster" was the word I bandied about but I think I knew that was bull the first day, when he came into my house. He checked out every room then looked out the window into the back yard, totally relaxed, tail waving lazily. His body language was loud and clear: "Nice digs. Yeah, I could have a cushy gig here." It was pretty audacious and I laughed nervously and said, "Don't get too comfy here, dog."

Oh, I tried to find him a home, of course. I did all the Internet adoption stuff, begged friends and neighbors. Jake insinuated himself into our lives with utter confidence that he wasn't going anywhere. Cute personality traits started coming out--his passionate love for sherpa chew toys, especially squeaky ones. His adorable habit of touching me with his nose every single time he passed me, or just to get my attention. How he'd snatch a foot-long piece of beef jerky out of my hand but take a miniscule piece gently from my son's. I joked that I would have named him Worf if I realized he was such a cling on. His fur grew in thick and soft and he transformed into a handsome dog. He delighted in being part of a family so much that it broke my heart to think of how miserable he must have been alone on the street.

Cancer took him yesterday. He'd been hurting for weeks and I knew it was time for me to do the right thing. We only had him for two years, but he slid right into our family so neatly that it felt like four. I was wishing earlier today that I had had more time with him, but the truth is, four years wouldn't have been enough either. I'm grateful he picked me and for the lessons he taught me:

Ignore appearances and enjoy someone's character.

Touch the people you love every time you pass them.

Embrace the unexpected sources of love in your life, even, perhaps especially, if it doesn't fit in neatly with your life plan.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

In praise of peeps

I hate peeps, always have. That disgusting grainy sugar coating hiding a marshmallow center that should be soft and gooey, but was always dry and crusty. But thanks to the web I discovered this year that peeps have endless entertainment value. The Peeps Research Organization is dedicated to such noble pursuits as discovering the harmful effects of smoking (see photo) and alcohol on the little darlings. They even perform a daring conjoined quintuplet peep separation. What will modern medicine accomplish next?

For the artists out there, the crazy girls over at The Plain Jane (who have way too much time on their hands) have put together some Peep Plays. Romeo and Juliet is my favorite, the Blair Witch Project is also funny. They've combined peeps, profanity, and Shakespeare. Thank you ladies!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A-camping we will go

I hated camping when I first did it last August. It was damp, buggy and the open air showers were knee-deep in lizards. My son complained that he didn't have a TV. He complained that he had to do organized activities with his fellow Cub Scouts instead of just goofing off. I was dismayed that I bought all that camping equipment for nothing because I was never using it again. Could I find someone to take the cursed stuff off my hands, for say, a dollar?

This weekend was our second campout and I was not looking forward to it. It's twenty degrees colder, for one thing and rain was a possibility. But it was only one night, local and an important Scouting event, so off we went. I figured worst case scenario, we could pack up and come home inside of a half hour. Only, a weird thing happened. I liked it. I started making a mental a list of things I wanted for myself, like I was actually planning to *gasp* do it again. I have a camp stove but suddenly it's not good enough. I eyed the den leader's two burner, thinking about how I could sauté shrimp scampi while boiling fresh linguine in another pot at the same time. A mess kettle for boiling coffee water is a must now, or even better, one of those propane-powered Mr. Coffee machines. Whoever invented that bad boy is a God. And if it rained? Why, that's what an extra tarp would be for, and they even come with corner loops for suspending into the trees with rope over your campsite! Genius.

What really hooked me was the simplicity. No TV, and as blasphemous as this may sound on a blog, no computer. I'd like to say no phone, but of course I took my cell. Still my alarm clock was the birds, my surroundings were soft and green and warm. Everything was slower and quieter. As I read In The Company of the Courtesan by book light in my tent I could breathe and was happy.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Big 1-0 and I'm O-L-D!

My son had his first big birthday party yesterday, fitting since he was turning ten. Good lord, I was five years older than him when I met his father. He's showing signs of growing up, too, with a major crush on Jessica Alba. Daddy's very proud. I was happy to learn that he's also partial to Queen Latifa. And now I'm going to print this out and keep it so I can embarrass him with it when he starts dating.

The party was awesome, we got a bouncing castle and it was never empty. Even when it started to rain the kids didn't care, they all got soaked. My best friend and her boyfriend came and she posted an amazing photo on her website. I've gotta get my digital camera fixed. Her fella was fantastic with the kids, leaping into the fray, and he brought comics and a way cool original pen drawing by Ben Burden, the creator of Mystery Men. How did he score that? It's going inside a locked frame about 6 feet up on my son's wall. No touchie! He also graced us with an original Nate Pottker birthday card. I'd take a picture of it, but, damn camera!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day

It seemed wrong for me not to blog about this day, seeing as I have family across the water. But, as usual, I have a complaint. I lived in Ireland for almost 4 years and I never once saw a plate of corned beef and cabbage. They don't eat it over there, people, it's an American fabrication. What they do eat--potatoes, about 6 different pork products, and natural yogurt. Also can't forget my favorite, the plum pudding, yum yum.

Actually I need to correct myself, I DID see corned beef and cabbage advertised in a restuarant once, but it was definitely satirical, making fun of America, specifically tourists who claim to be Irish and go over there with a suitcase full of gaudy clothes and a headful of misconceptions. American's use St. Paddy's Day (that's Paddy with a "D", not a "T" as I've seen some places) as an excuse to drink, but for a country who's social structure revolves either around the church or the pub (sometimes both) they don't need an excuse. They already know how to celebrate, better than Americans do.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Moo cow or mad cow?

A cow is an herbivore, right? For those of you who haven't had your coffee yet today, it means "plant eater." At some point in worldwide history farmers thought they could do better than mother nature and pulled a Martha Stewart by "recycling" their dead cows into their live cow's feed, and voila, mad cow disease is born. And all it took was cheap people and dead cow brains to do it. See what happens when you screw around with the status quo? My biggest gripe about mad cow disease is that, because I lived overseas when it came out (1990's), I'm not eligible to donate blood in America, according to the Red Cross. But, lo, here it is right in America. I swear, the only things I imported from Ireland were a husband, a global viewpoint, and an affinity for using "cow" as a swear word, as in, "You just cut in line in front of me, you cow."

My best friend gave me a great belly laugh today in a letter written to Axl Rose. How the mighty have fallen.