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i'm not joking

4.29.04 it's not warm enough. but i'm truly in the height of man week now, which really lasts for more like 10 days or so, so i am caring less than i normally would.

since i have been objectifying men in general, rather than one or two specific targets this month? i've been thinking about other types of sensual pleasures. aroma, for instance. who doesn't love the smell of freshly ground coffee beans, or fresh-made coffee? yet i'm not a big coffee drinker at all, and i know other people who say the same thing. to me, coffee is a flavor that can enhance milk or ice cream or certain alcoholic drinks, but isn't much of a pleasure in and of itself. the aroma, however, is nearly magical. and i wonder why this is so.

another drink with a magical aroma is amaretto. i like the taste well enough, especially mixed with a little cream--it's shaken with ice and strained into a cocktail glass. but the smell alone is one of the most heavenly things on earth, heavenly enough to refer to it as "bouquet," and it's also beautiful to look at. highly alcoholic wines and liqueurs have what are known as "legs," which you see if you tilt the glass around and then set it upright, allowing what has coated the sides to run down in pretty little rivulets. experts say it's not an indicator of anything important, but whatever. it's scintillating to watch, like a living, liquid jewel. food and drink should treat all the senses.

some other scents that can bring me to raptures are cocoa powder, pure almond extract, which can wonderfully flavor so many different foods, fresh lavender or lavender essential oil (if it's really pure, as inferior versions are cloying and headache-inducing,) and fresh or baked garlic.

for a long time i thought i did not like the smell of fresh-cut grass, until a friend pointed out that what i was used to smelling was not only grass, but the burning gasoline and oil of power lawn mowers. that was a revelatory moment. so when i needed to buy my own lawn mower, i chose an old-fashioned reel mower, and now i know what grass smells like when it's cut by nothing but a few sharp blades and me. it's pretty nice.

this is the new old thing i'm exploring:
Danger Man/Secret Agent

i don't have money for it, but i want to.

mmm, it's man week. sigh. but i have no real focus for that at the moment, so i'm about to play Google roulette and see what i come up with. back in a second...

this is from I Love Men, sung by Eartha Kitt

One thing is certain
love's final curtain
Won't leave me bereft while there is one man left.
I love men
it's going to last
I love men
the feeling will pass.
I love men wherever I go
all these men they're haunting me so.
Miles of men as far as I see
miles of men they're smiling at me.
I love men
I love men
love them over and over and over again.
I love men it's always the same
I love men I'm bad at the game.
Can't defend the way that I feel
it's no trend the feeling is real.
Now and then I try to conceal where and when I choose to reveal.
I love men
I love men
love them over and over and over again.
I love men
it's going to last
I love men
the feeling will pass. . . .

home sweet

4.13.04 the willow branches i cut for the vase in my big bow window look wonderful this morning, a touch of brightness in front of a grey, grey canvas. we are to expect rain all week. did you ever read Erma Bombeck's The Grass Is Always Greener Under the Septic Tank? i'm pretty sure this neighborhood is just what she was referring to then. the book was published in 1976, but refers to a period a few years earlier when people were moving en masse "out to the suburbs." i can imagine this street thirty-forty years ago, trees all very young, everything shiny and new and everything pretty much the same. i'm glad we're here now, it all having matured and evolved just a bit, various owners having added individual touches to the houses; this one has been enlarged and modified quite a lot. actually, unlike Erma's Suburbian Gems world, this one was carved out of an old orchard and sits next to some woods above a river, so the cookie cutter aspect is barely noticeable, but probably it was more so when new.

when you look at new neighborhoods west of here, it's disheartening and sort of bile-inducing; the houses are larger than ever, but in many places there's barely 1/8 acre for each, (okay, i wouldn't know but that's how it looks to me,) and the landscaping is, to borrow Erma's expression, Frankly Fake. my friend tells me that in her Central NJ town, a law was passed forbidding new houses to be built on less than an acre. but i think the state will intervene eventually, citing the need to reduce overcrowding in other areas.

people in my previous town, Rumson, lost a suit to prevent low-income apartments from being built down the street from my old house, for that very reason. each New Jersey town is supposed to shoulder some of the housing burden or else pay some sort of tax penalty. but the 60 apartments are to be built in a space about the size of the house lot we currently occupy. which is about 1/2 acre. this is because there is no room in Rumson for any more houses! people demolish old ones in order to build there! and then they build homes that are too large for their lot, but that's a whole other story...by the way, my friend insists none of the famous people who live in Rumson actually live there? but i lived there and she's wrong. they do. a couple of them have moved, but not all, and not the ones she thinks.

i loved that town, but hated the house. it's a tradeoff here, great house, dull (though pleasant)town.

but anyway, there's an odd comfort in knowing something about the world in which this home was birthed, and when i wander through the streets that all lead back to each other, i feel very much as though this is where i belong. at least for now, of course.

quotes from Erma Bombeck:

Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter-productivity.

My theory on housework is, if the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch on fire or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one cares. Why should you?

here's a long but interesting essay on being a mother at home, if you want something else to read.

hindsight brings melancholy

4.12.04 well, supposedly the final elements of my new kitchen are to arrive today. i'm firmly believing this won't happen, however, i know they'll show eventually, sometime this week. i have a cool ceramic tiled floor, and a new range, and there's a new dishwasher in a box in the garage. a hole has been cut out of the wall that separated the kitchen from the dining room, and a breakfast bar will be installed there. and there are to be new cabinets, a new sink, and so forth. the refrigerator is the only old thing remaining, and it's white rather than stainless steel like the other fixtures, but it certainly works all right and i'm not complaining. it was recessed into the wall to create more space and that's something i've always thought would be cool to do.

it's been nearly four years since i had a nice, happy kitchen. first, we lived for 3.5 years in an old house where very little worked as it should, in a dank unpleasant atmosphere, and then we came here, where the space has been gutted in promise for weeks. i have to say, i'm not much looking forward to the new countertops, as the sample looked like something that wandered out of a 1983 Home & Garden magazine and got lost, unable to find its way back. they're to be a sort of hunter green faux marble, sigh. but they will "match," to be sure, and though definitely far removed from my personal taste, they will serve as they are intended, providing me lots of preparation and storage space. who needs more than that, right?

When I have a kitchen, I will bake pies. I will stand before the window, rolling dough, rinsing berries, sprinkling sugar and cinnamon, pinching and turning a perfect crust.

When I have a kitchen I will snip from herbs in pots, stir them into tomatoes, onions and garlic, and send the scent of a feast across the lawn and through the neighborhood.

When I have a kitchen, I will make lemonade. I will sing old songs, I will mop to a beat, I will kiss wounded thumbs and elbows. In my kitchen I will come back to me, lost these past few years, but not really lost; just standing in a dark shadowy corner waiting to be readmitted into a familiar comfortable light.

When I have a garden again, my soul will soar through my whole universe of pasts and futures, baring every sense to sun, rain, wind and earth, collecting energy in reserve for Winter days, but in my kitchen it will be grounded in every now I will ever possess.

From the vault of scary old appliances:

this massager from the 1950s promised to keep your skin "young and lovely."

while, in keeping with the more practical view of the 1970s, this one was designed for "hard-to-reach" places.

they're from an Australian appliance company called Breville