To the Ends of the Sea

Resharing a post I wrote two years about "degrees of separation" to the big event we remember today.

Because of the hurricanes. They are affecting very many people, but me, I'm in the tertiary class. Gas went up for a few days last week. MSNBC is broadcasting weather non-stop and I watch while making dinner. People are retweeting videos and I look at them sometimes. That's about it. I have some friends who are getting rained on a whole lot and whose incomes will be affected by the interruptions. That's the secondary group. And then there are people whose worlds are filled with water and will soon be left covered in mud, some of it salvagable, much of it ruined.

I was filling the car with fuel the other day thinking I could just do that, you know, anywhere I liked. Any time of the day I liked. And that is something a whole lot of people could not take for granted last week and the week before.

While Houston was being covered over in water, there was a great flood in Bangladesh and also Nepal, harming many people, displacing a tremendous number. Some people complained we didn't care about that. Well, we do. We simply cannot care about each event to the same degree at the same time. So we cared about what was going on here a little more than what was going on there. We aren't terrible, just human. No matter how connected we all are via contemporary transportation and communication means, we're still all mostly part of a small group here on the ground where we stand and make our livings.

Sometimes, though, we want very much to be connected to the larger event, and strive to find ways of feeling a part of what's going on. Our everyday lives, for most of us, are not interesting or all that challenging. And we know instinctively that challenges cause us to grow, create, and assess what's really important about life. We avoid the seemingly mundane ones, but are curious about the big events that would test us. Also, we want to feel things. We want to feel strong passions and important sensations, and so we talk of a person we know who is right in the thick of things, as though it puts us closer to the center of the picture, right there meeting the challenge alongside a compatriot.

At the end of the day, though, when it's time for rest and relaxation, mostly it feels pretty good to not have to be tested as others are forced to be just now. Knowing that, I think we ought to appreciate it a whole lot, and also offer assistance in whichever way we can and however it will be best received.

Anyway, here. It has pictures. We Traced the Skyline


the politics of shopping

I’ve been feeling overloaded with media choices lately. I want to enjoy so many different things, I can’t choose between anything, and end up choosing nearly nothing. But that’s not very satisfying.

Anyway, as now isn’t quite working out in terms of “time to deal with that,” I decided to work on the kitchen, instead. I was telling my brother the other day I’ve gotten a lot of kitchen items from thrift shops, and it occurred to me today that those are most of my favorite things.

Long past are the days when I needed enough of everything for eight people and then some. And it’s good to have a wide variety of baking dishes and pans, but there’s plenty else I have that seems a little redundant now, so I'm going to streamline the collection, and keep only what I love and use often or regularly.

Here are pictures of purchases from thrift shops, mostly over the past six years. It’s not all inclusive; there’s a set of Pfaltzgraff stoneware mugs and saucers, and lots of books and records, and some other things.

In the “liquor cabinet,” all the glassware on the top inside shelf and the blue cocktail glasses above it are from thrift shops, mostly St. Vincent de Paul, though the nice wine glasses are from Salvation Army.

The baking dishes are from St. Vincent de Paul and Goodwill. The stereo components, also. The couch is from Goodwill and the loveseat from Salvation Army. They were perfect when I bought them, but a cat hurt them, annoyingly. They sanitize these things, by the way, by law.

As you look at these few pictures, you will see I have launched into an adjacent personal concern in the midst of them. Bakeware

Some years ago I was discussing this with a friend, and I said, “I buy plenty of things used; why encourage them to make more?” And he said that was very non-conservative of me; the idea of reducing production. Teacupsthere are two more saucers in use elsewhere; also a few crystal bowls I keep perfume and makeup samples in, and things like that.

I’m kind of literal about language, though. If I say I’m “conservative,” I mean it. I’m conserving here, and I do also mean I am personally slow to change. But it is only sensible to understand when old ways and means and things are best, and when it’s better to make some changes or embrace new technology. I conserve, and embrace conservation, at home and in nature, in whichever ways I am able to. I am conservative about not throwing the baby out with the bathwater in terms of new patterns of life, but at the same time, there’s no reason to keep the river polluted just to serve people unwilling to sacrifice a little profit in exchange for the betterment of us all. Mostly I’m driven by logic, rather than by heightened emotion, which always gets people gnashing their teeth at each other, and usually gets nothing done. Antiquedishesjapanese dishes produced in 1912

Thinking other stuff like “all the people matter,” “let’s pool our resources specifically where it can work well to do so,” and “let people decide for themselves the life they are best fitted to live,” I know that’s all been politicized into awkward sports teams that spend all their time arguing with each other. But team sports are not my thing, and dogma is dreary, at best. Glasses

My views are kind of like how our country was set up. When the large group working together can do the best job, okay. When a smaller group works better for some of the jobs, okay. When new is safer and cleaner, okay. When old is still good and serviceable and frugal, okay. What my neighbors do inside their house doesn’t harm me; what they spray on their lawn might. Messyroom

Social justice demands personal context, and that’s so often missing; it’s no wonder people think they disagree even more often than they actually do. It also demands that people stop looking at everything as though we’re in a stadium cheering or booing the other side. We have to live life on the playing fields, not shouting across them from the stands.

For example, I dislike the term "privilege" and how it's tossed out all over the place, but lately I've been noticing that many people who use it completely ignore their own levels of it, and would be surprised if you pointed it out. They are so certain of the issues they tweet about or make “memes” for, they sometimes disregard other concerns right in front of their faces.

Yesterday, this "ironic" Goodwill date thing popped into my Facebook stream again. Maybe you've heard of it. The couple gives each other a $10 limit to buy ugly clothes at Goodwill that they then wear on their date. This particular couple wore late 80s-looking attire and gave each other fake names to maximize their amusement.

I don't exactly think it's such a terrible idea. But I go into Goodwill now and then to look for books or old dishes, and I'll poke through the clothes, also St. Vincent de Paul, where all my household/clothing offerings go, and I watch many women spending a long time going through all the clothes, and I know that they are not doing it to be hilarious, but because they need to spend as little as possible.

Thus, I cannot be amused at the idea of people entertaining themselves with poor people clothing. I feel maybe we have a different idea about liberal hearts and minds. Very many of us have had financial troubles. Fewer of us have desperately hoped to find something to fit for a job interview that won't cost the kids' supper tonight, which wasn't going to be all that great anyway. There is a grim anxiety to poverty that clings to a person like air pollution on a humid day. It should hurt you to witness it or even think of it, if you are as liberal as you say.


Notes on a hundred things

The annual landlord visit came and went, rather painlessly. I always get super worked up about it, though, and then need a few days to decompress.

The pool is still leaking, but we can call for that and have done whatever needs doing. 20170704_211625

I’m on Day…24 of this 28 day eating plan. The purpose of it renders it no longer a necessity, but if I stopped, my family would be all, “ooh, you didn’t do it right.” Whatever. Here’s the thing. I wanted to reset my eating thinking, and I have largely done that. So that purpose has been met. At the same time, I have fouled up my enjoyment of simple pleasures in the kitchen, I have no more energy than before, am still sleepy after lunch, have lost no weight and have seen no skin improvement. The book assured me everyone sees all that happening, and it is true in most cases; a no sugar diet will cause you to gain or lose weight as needed. But it has not been true in my case, though I have eaten many fewer calories and exercised more. At the same time, I was supposed to have withdrawal symptoms, headaches, etc., and I had none of that. I was in a bad mood only in regard to having little to enjoy the first few days, and not from sugar deprivation itself.

Looked at that way, I think 24 days has been enough to move forward to “maintenance.” But I’m not going to just eat cake today or anything like that. I’m still going to eat an apple most days; I like their thinking there, though every single day might be too much apple for me. I’m still going to drink a pitcher of water every day, sometimes with a green tea bag in it. I’m still going to do better at snacking when I can, and I might retain their notion of eating a little dark chocolate every day, though I still don’t love it. I have rediscovered my taste for freshly-ground peanuts, however. The red wine recommendation, meh. I’ll try to remember to have some sometimes, and I’ll also think very carefully about what else I’ve eaten in my day before having dessert, which is something I already do before I decide whether it’s a cocktail evening or not. 20170626_120731

I never craved dessert these past few weeks except sort of once. I really wanted rice pudding the other day, for a reason I just cannot say. When do I ever eat rice pudding? And I can’t say I’ve craved bread, but I’ve missed it a lot. Like to have a little with my olives and ricotta, or to put bread crumbs on top of the baked eggplant. And to eat noodles with eggs for lunch now and then. A natural part of the day, not an overwhelming part. I want that back.

In other areas, I’ve been sewing lots of things. I made a baby quilt top a couple days ago, and yesterday I made this log cabin block with some of the scraps. 20170704_103538

The garden isn’t good at all this year, but is not fully hopeless. There will be a fair number of hot peppers, cherry tomatoes, and lemon cucumbers. A few pickling sized cucumbers, some amount of snap beans, three delicata squash, and a few other tomato varieties, including black prince and…I forget which golden variety. But the Brandywines, which I grew from seed, are sick, and I might have to pull them out later this week. Something ate my meatball eggplant plants, but the baby eggplants on the deck seem okay. I’ll have some carrots soon, and at least a few sweet peppers. I have about twenty garlic bulbs curing in my paint room. 20170704_091241
20170704_091241

I’m so in love with Twin Peaks: The Return, I can’t always think about anything else.

The kitten staying here is doing very well. Blood tests next week when she’s old enough for them. 20170628_174341

Yesterday I took some accidentally-purchased "lightly sweetened" peach cups (who thinks peaches need sweetening? this is our problem, people,) and turned them into popsicles.
20170704_132539
20170704_132539please to ignore background laundry, etc.

And I made frozen yogurt thusly: one large container Greek Gods plain yogurt into the food processor with an entire cup of sugar (this amount will be reconsidered later,) juice lazily squeezed from two lemons, 2 tbs amaretto, and a touch of salt. I whirred it and then put it into a large ziploc bag in the freezer. Later after it started to freeze, I squished it around every hour for a few, then put it into a container to enjoy…in a few days, I guess. Same with a popsicle. It can wait.
20170704_133319
20170704_133319
Finally, here is the pictorial saga of my frozen vegetable dumplings and the sauce that would never end. 20170704_144203
20170704_150055
20170704_150535
20170704_151011Enough apple already. Wouldn't a piece of flat bread have tasted good with that sauce?


Getting sidetracked by food irony. Plus pictures.

Q. Hamburger
I started this 31 day sugar detox two weeks ago. Right away I decided I’d do best if I made it four weeks, instead, but otherwise, I followed the plan in the book I got, strictly. I did the three day super detox, then began on week one. After a few days, though, I noticed I was growing paranoid about food, what I was eating, when I was eating it, and I spent a great deal more time thinking about food than felt healthy. Eyeball
I read the book carefully, a few pages each day, going back over pertinent sections and thinking about them. I have spent most of my life studying nutrition in food in a casual but dedicated sense, and know enough to say it is a good plan, healthful and carefully constructed. But it took me awhile to realize the writers’ goal was more about weight loss and improved skin appearance than anything else. And while I wanted to lose ten pounds, my main personal concern was that I’d been trading healthful calories for unhealthful ones, by putting off eating until I was too hungry, then eating too much of foods I know will ultimately drag me down, just to not feel hungry. Threshhold
I started the plan hoping to reset that problem, by constructing daily eating habits that included too much of the right food to bother with the wrong food. Well, avoiding the wrong food has been pretty easy. But eating enough of the right foods has been as difficult as ever, more so because I could have no starch or grain at first. Scream
And at first that seemed appropriate. A lot of what’s in those foods converts to sugar in our bodies. But now after two weeks, I have no more energy or drive to eat better than I did before; that is, I have the drive to continue to battle the problem simply because I know I must, and am a grownup about that, but I have gained nearly no ground. I’d still rather not eat than worry about food groups all day. I’m also a little annoyed that people tend to (I know this from extensive reading since 1978) drop a lot of weight right at first when eliminating sugar, and I have not done so. The three pounds I’ve lost has been more from calorie deprivation than sugar elimination. That's no good at all. Frustrated
But those other people tend to be breaking daily sweetened coffee and diet soda habits. I rarely sweeten my one daily mug of coffee and almost never drink soda of any kind. Mostly all I did in that problem area was have too many cookies in the afternoon or evening. I thought that was huge, and for me it was, but apparently it’s nothing compared to what a lot of other people get up to.
Mcmahon
I don’t sweeten my salad dressings, I rarely eat french fries or bagels or mac and cheese, etc. I already knew the delightful sweetness of cooked onion. And I miss oatmeal, which I can enjoy readily without adding sugar or syrup, though that’s nice, too. If you think about it, oatmeal can be your buttered toast, to enjoy with an egg or a little fruit. That is, the porridgey kind that is freshly milled or steel cut. Those flakes need a lot of outside help. Pleasesir
Anyway, this is a long-winded monologue to say that I was following the letter of that plan, but losing the intent of having started it. Mostly, I just need to consistently eat breakfast, choose healthier snacks, and eat a lot more servings of fruits and vegetables. The fruit part will be the bigger challenge. For some reason, I love having fruit around, but don’t really enjoy eating it. Except cherries. Maybe because they are like olives, but fruit. Same with late summer plums. I don't know. Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 9.24.56 AM
So I am continuing two more weeks of sugar detox, but I am going to skip ahead to the fourth week guidelines and do that for two weeks (minus a really irritating amount of red wine,) while working on my own daily eating plan that suits my tastes and needs better going forward. Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 11.39.46 AM
More than anything else, I’ve got to mother myself through each day so I get all I need with much less of what I don’t need. I’m super terrible at forming habits; it’s an aversion borne of growing up with a delightful but alcoholic father. I used to even feel anything you do as a ritual might not be good for you, because you’re maybe relying on it. But in my mellower mid-years, I have come to understand and embrace personal ritual a little bit, and I can embrace breakfast in the same way.
Cooper

A. 60


Dance


a strange calm day: birthday countdown sunshine

My 20 year-old son and I spent the morning preparing to open the pool, which we work hard to care for as though it's our own, though this place is a rental. But it has a terrible old porous cover, and if winter isn't super cold, it opens green, no matter how carefully we close it. This year, opening it a month late, it was green with the first signs of some new species of life developing on the surface. 20170603_113450_HDR
Well, he's in charge of the mechanics, I do the chemistry. But the pump wouldn't start! Signs indicate it must be replaced. So green the water will remain for now.

It is a sunny, sunny day, the kind of sunny day this area is not at all known for. And it's 85 degrees, but a nice 85, with a light breeze instead of a heavy stillness. 20170603_083538-EFFECTS
He wanted to take me to see Wonder Woman tonight. I felt excited at the idea, then demurred after several hours of expense leading to futility. We will go on Monday. But I sent him with another brother to see it tonight, anyway. I feel like being quiet and comfortable and reflective. With The Mary Tyler Moore show for background.

Isn't perspective a funny thing? Set in the background this way, the green pool is kinda pretty, isn't it? 20170603_175849

But not as pretty as my birthday lily. Birthdaylily


grocery luxuries for birthday week

499 words is all, I promise. I went to Jungle Jim’s today, and got four big full bags of groceries. And the thing is, I got a lot of things specifically for me to enjoy. For the past three months and more, I’ve been eating noodles and eggs, and two or three good dinners a week, and just not a lot else, and I gained ten pounds. It really is like that, when you don’t have any money. And exercise vigilance is nearly impossible as caloric energy wanes.

I saw at least six people riding on electric shopping carts. All of them were very, very large, of a size that would have been incredibly uncommon to see when I was a child. I knew a few fairly heavy people, but they still fit into chairs and could push a shopping cart in a store and did all the other usual things people do. You thought, “that’s a large person,” not “that’s kind of unbelievable.”

But life seems like something else these days. One of them in particular was of an astounding size. She didn’t fit into the cart and rode it side saddle. Her belly reached her feet. I am not exaggerating. And she made the cart go way too fast, if you ask me. It didn’t seem safe for anyone coming around a corner. Maybe she was the impatient type. Her husband (in his own cart) might have been the “I will go slower to make you more calm when in fact it will agitate you instead” type. I’ve known men like that.

So anyway, I indulged myself for birthday week. This was also produce delivery day, so the larder is quite full now, and the only guilt would come if any of it goes to waste. Here’s some of what I put in the bags. I bagged the groceries myself. The cashier was not going to be up to doing it correctly, and I can do it much faster, anyway, plus use fewer bags. I brought in five, and used only four, weight evenly distributed.

First, mark-down meat! This should last a good while, going to freeze most of it tomorrow. I got the regular-priced ground round to go with the ground pork for meatballs. And I couldn’t pass up the jowl bacon; guanciale, during birthday week. It is de rigeur for Amatriciana, but I don't know what I'll use it for this time. Meat
Next, things I will enjoy for lunch. I couldn’t remember the name of that eggplant stuff I like from the Indian section, but they didn’t seem to have it, anyway. Frozenstuff
A few miscellaneous items also for lunch and this and that. Misc
And a few bonus items that were good prices. Cans
Oh, and I got cherries yesterday! Don’t you love when it’s cherries season? Cherries are great because you simply do not buy fresh ones in October or March, except frozen. You buy them in June. June really is the best month.


Pure Blather: a birthday countdown post

I’m wearing the eye shade from having my pupils dilated at eye exam, and who knows how this typing will go? I’m inclined to include all mistakes. Shade
Man, there I was, being my brother, and really probably my other brother, and my dad, having this whole long exchange with the various eye people and another customer and the Starbuck’s girl, and by the way, hush, on that point. That was a treat, which I have maybe once a month or every six weeks. I get a double tall breve latte, which is to say, some espresso and half and half. In winter hot, in summer on ice. More on that in a bit.

The front lawn is covered in clover, which is basically awesome, but not in my neighborhood, because you can’t putt theoretical golf balls on a clover-filled lawn, and it “don’t look classy” or whatever these people think taste is. Clover is important; it provides nitrogen to soil and food for bees. And I kinda think it’s pretty. But it has to be mowed, and it won’t be me doing it today, because my pupils are wide open and feel pretty weird. And it will rain yet again tomorrow, so one of these characters who isn’t working today needs to get to it.

Anyway, I thought I would tell you about my day. I meant to do a birthday countdown post each day this week, but was sort of bummed yesterday, and now I know it was probably because I didn’t hang around in the sun for awhile. I require sunlight in order to do life. And so here we are today, in which the minimum level of sunlight has been applied.

Hot flashes! I was being all tao about that, you know, because this thing is dragging on forever, it seems, but while I have said all along I want nature to just take its natural course, I would now like nature to just go on and get it done. I reflect on that perhaps differently than some other women, because my mother was a few months younger than I am now when she entered full menopause, and then she died two years later with breast cancer, eyes clouded by cataracts. Well, my eyes are real healthy, despite no longer being astounding at their assigned roles. I’m carrying less extra weight than her, though a bit more than I’d like. And last time I checked, I didn’t get the cancer. But I don’t want to be in a hurry to pass to the next stage of life; I have no frame of reference for it.

I like to think I won’t get the cancer, but part of it is a kind of crap shoot, they say. I have, at least, fewer risk factors than she did. I’m going to assume cheerfully that I inherited Dad’s family’s tendency toward long life, instead of Mom’s family’s much more uneven record.

Okay, here’s the thing. This is a long blog post already, so if you’re bored, let’s call it done and say these were reflections on soon turning 52 that I thought others might find amusing or thoughtul. It was lovely to see you again. And if you like, you can tune in tomorrow for something undoubtedly different.

Shopping

On the other hand, I am still typing, so if you want to carry on reading what spills from my mind, here you go.

First, have you ever listened to Andy Griffith tell a story? It’s how he made his mark before playing a couple super creepy characters in the movies and then getting to be a hokey version of himself on TV for eight years. Anyway. It’s something quite…unto itself. Watch this bit in which he’s explaining a country feud to Opie.



I always crowd-source new glasses choices if I can. Today two opticians and a customer helped me choose new frames after I had my checkup with the doctor. I picked blue ones. Well, the first blue ones I picked were 200 dollars. That wasn’t happening. We managed to find some for 80. They won't be 80, though. Partly why I go to Target is that they know me there now, and Amy will play mob accountant for half an hour to get me the best I can get for the least I have to spend. I asked her about those mail order glasses things, and about how easy it might be for somebody to measure their own eyeballs at home in the mirror, which sounds absurd to me. We agreed it’s probably all right if you’re just regular near-sighted, or need readers. But add in two different astigmatisms, and middle-aged close-up needs, and then that middle bit which needs a number of its own? Then it starts to seem silly. Glasses
The doctor informed me I’ll never be able to clearly see the bridge on a cello from the gallery again, unless I use opera glasses. Well, she said binoculars, but we meant opera glasses. I told her I would feel okay about it if I had a better understanding of what normal far-off vision is. Apparently it’s pretty much what I have now with the corrective lenses. I am no longer special in this regard, alas. :-)

Let’s pause for hot flash time. My ceiling fan remote and I are growing very intimate.

Okay, well, I went down the hall to Starbucks before leaving and got my iced double tall breve latte, aka espresso with half and half, and I asked about these cold brew options being advertised. One is sweetened and contains coconut milk. The other is just coffee. I said I might try that one sometime (next month) because what I think of as properly sweetened is just waving the notion of the sugar over the cup, and other people seem to like a whole other thing. The girl nodded and told me yesterday someone asked for “14 pumps” of vanilla syrup in her drink. I estimate that to be around 7 oz of syrup. In a 20 oz cup. We shared a sick face at the thought.

The dilation is wearing off much quicker this year. I think they got a new style of drops. I don’t feel normal yet, but can see fine, and the light isn’t bad.

It occurred to me today that I’ve often mentioned how I learned about cultural equality, that is, the need for it, from music I heard as a child, but actually and also, I learned about some important elements of social “justice” from my favorite TV shows, M*A*S*H and Barney Miller, as well as a few others from that era. I’m going to take up that topic sometime soon and talk it out. Maybe tomorrow, maybe some other time. Petunias


This Could Be The Start Of Something

Will I write something today that I think is grand? Desk
Will I sew something fun and interesting-looking? Sewingdesk
Today on I've Got A Secret, Jayne Meadows started singing "This Could Be the Start of Something Big," while they were taking turns singing tunes for musical chairs, and that was mildly funny in 1962, for reasons that looked boring to other people once I typed it all out, but anyway, mainly I know this version:


Which I like quite a lot.

Anyway. I have some semi-serious writing on my mind, influenced by an ongoing conversation I have with someone I know only online, a woman who really has a knack for cutting straight to the heart of a matter and explaining it as if it's the simplest thing in the world. I told her she should be sharing these explanations, but also, as Birthday Week encroaches (encroaches sounds so negative, doesn't it? but I haven't enjoyed this year much, I gotta say,) the nature of nostalgia, particularly, if we must use labels, Generation X nostalgia, is influencing all my perceptions just now. And it's already a hackneyed topic, yet I feel I have a perspective I'm not seeing onscreen, so. Perhaps I can add something to that conversation, or start a better or at least more-interesting-to-me one.

I think I'm going to sew for awhile, though. I have a baby quilt I'm very involved in just now, for one thing. Okay, okay, you do have to watch this. And the thing to remember, tiresome young persons, is that it's really, really okay to miss and appreciate what once was there, while at the same time acknowledging what was not there, wishing it had been. So you can stop beating everyone with your know-it-all binary sticks of negativity, and start developing some context. This is a fun thing.


Goes Ding When There's Stuff

It’s because it’s Mother’s Day and Bobby Darin’s birthday, and my oldest daughter, a new mother, I swear if you hear her voice without seeing her face, you think my mother has come back to life. Jazzy mezzo-soprano: strong-minded, filled with dry humor, and... tinkly. Anyway. My timey-wimey detector went off today.

But I don’t know quite where I want to begin except you should know that no one sang “Lazy River” better than my mother. I never heard anyone else do it well, until I got a Bobby Darin record when I was about 17, and that was the B side.

Before Bobby Darin and later Frank Sinatra records, my knowledge of vocal standards came from a) what my mom might have sung, though she was way more into 50s rock and roll, early Motown and disco, and b) whatever happened to be floating around on TV variety shows that I didn’t pay much attention to. They were just kind of there.

Anyway. I heard “Mack the Knife,” and then I heard “Beyond the Sea,” and I realized this guy, who I thought sang only dumb pop tunes, sang all this other much better stuff, and made it interesting. And what he did with “Lazy River,” which starts slowly and simply, and gradually builds, well, Mom did that, too. As I said, did it better, but that’s another track for another day. Mom had a few Saturday morning lessons at the Met when she was a child, so she knew better what to do with her voice than most people.

This is meant to be about firsts, and kind of about lasts, I guess. Circles, maybe. The last Mother’s Day I spent with my mom was when my oldest daughter was two, and we went to that restaurant in Martin City, you know the one, except of course you don’t, but if you were there then, you would and still do.

Now my daughter is thirty, and she has a teeny tiny baby, and when she speaks, my mother’s voice comes out of her mouth. It was similar before, but has become downright astonishing. It’s pretty fantastic. She has the same hair, too, actually. Some of these things skip a generation, I guess.

So Bobby Darin introduced me to the understanding of how people took vocal standards and made them their own. Then around ten years later, when I was in the hospital with our first child, my husband brought me a Frank Sinatra cassette tape, Reprise: The Very Good Years. And around five years after that, I bought Mack the Knife: The Best of Bobby Darin Volume Two. (sound off for All Music reviews; they auto-play ads and won't show you the page if you adblock.) Those two albums were my Bible testaments for what a singer could do with good songs. I learned from them like I was learning a language. It took me awhile to adapt to all the songs on the Bobby Darin compilation. I wasn’t used to the slow stuff. But they captured me eventually and held onto me, note by note. I can recall each note in each song, in both that album and the Sinatra one, because they both mastered every syllable they sang, and I drank it all in, over and over again.

Darin had a better voice, considerably. But what Sinatra could do with a song made up for that, and then some. I tend to think of Darin as my young love, and Sinatra as my more mature one. That's probably a subject to take up and examine another time.

Next there was Limewire. I remember spending hours looking up the names of all the albums a former in-law stole from me and finding copies to download. I had a conscience about this; I didn’t want to take anything I hadn’t already paid for. Only at some point I realized there was also a lot of music being shared that literally could not be purchased in any format except through foreign sales, and a certain amount of happenstance. And I decided to see what other Bobby Darin music I’d never heard.

Do you remember that just 15 years ago and more, we couldn’t hear just anything at all we felt like hearing? It’s true, children. We didn’t even have YouTube yet. The world wide web was expanding rapidly—like the Old West, lawless and free—but very limited in scope compared to what we have now if we’re willing to concede personal ownership…

I remember the light in the room and the temperature of the air the day I ran across Bobby Darin’s version of “Call Me Irresponsible.”

It changed the way I hear music, the way I listen. I was so young, how old was I? 36, 37? Darin was 37 when he died. I was just getting started. I’m still just getting started. I hope. But that song, this song:


arrested me. Sinatra’s award-winning recording is nicely crafted and touching. It fits the movie, I suppose, though it was written for Fred Astaire, and wouldn't he have put a marvelous spin on it? This recording, though, is something else altogether. It’s something I wanted to know, as intimately as it could be known. I hope you really listen to it, at least once, please.

So, 15 years have passed, size 4 is a tender memory, there’s a lot of grey in my hair to cover, and I have really the most splendid grandchild to be had, that is, until my second daughter produces her first child later this year.  

And today people were sharing pictures of time spent with their moms. Most years I really enjoy seeing that, but this year it felt kind of painful. I can’t quite say why. I am tired of the internet telling me relentlessly for an entire month each year that I should think of Mom, when I’ve been one longer than I had one. But the same was true last year, so I can’t say why this one felt different.

My youngest son came home from work with these two ragged tomato plants and said, “You better plant these before they die. I got this kind because I like how yellow tomatoes taste.”

He’d never gotten me a Mother’s Day gift before, but was told at work this is a thing to do. So downstairs waiting for me as well, was a nice hanging planter of miniature petunias. I trimmed the tomato plants, gave them a good root soaking, and set them on the counter. They’re lovely now, and ready for a planting in the morning. (He was told to give me a card, too, but his reply was, "I think she'd be confused and wonder why I was giving her a card." He's right.) Also, I received a big lovely bouquet of lilies via Federal Express from one daughter, and a fun pair of shoes in the mail from another. I felt loved.

I read earlier the reminder that the original intention of Mother’s Day was for women to support each other as needed. Women should do that, should lift each other up whenever and wherever possible. But honoring our own mothers as we each do is a lovely tradition, as well. And so, this is how I am honoring mine, twenty-eight years gone now. She gave me “Lazy River,” and thus, Bobby Darin, and thus, so much more, and I pass it all along in my own way, and I guess it’s all energy that changes form now and then but never really disappears, like "a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey ... stuff.”