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Seasonal space, redux

Last year and a day ago, I wrote a blog post about preparing my spaces for NaNoWriMo and winter. 

 Yesterday I did somewhat the same thing, only my space has been very much rearranged over the past five months. Very much, that is, if you factor in enormous waterbed that really has only one place it can be. In June, I rearranged the painting/writing room so that now it is a sewing/painting room. In August, the bed was moved slightly when the new mattress arrived, to make room for my bike on a trainer. Last week, I switched the location of the dresser and bookcase to make that easier, and yesterday I brought the bike upstairs.  20151026_120154

 I spent the afternoon and early evening going through every piece of clothing, put away a large laundry basket full of things I won’t wear til next spring, threw away about that same amount of clothes that were too damaged to give away or reuse in some other way (which happens less often as I’ve taken up wearing cooking aprons much more often,) and prepared a giveaway bag of roughly the same amount, as well. I reorganized my dresser drawers and washed all my cardigans, hanging them to dry. I also ordered a warm outdoor vest and two pairs of arm warmers.

 This is because I have only a couple of long sleeve tops. I dislike sleeves in general, dislike the way they oppress my shoulders and upper arms, and I was this way even before pre-menopausal upper arms appeared. But I don’t mind often wearing a loose cardigan over a sleeveless top, so that’s how I manage winter these days. And I thought I might like the arm warmers sometimes, as they won’t interfere with shoulders and armpits. I also have several pairs of elbow-length gloves, and lots of long wide scarves. 20151027_104742Winter is tinkly lady time.

And thus once again, I need no new clothes at all until at least spring. My pants, which are mostly all too short for general winter comfort, can just be tucked into boots again, same as previous years. I cannot be bothered to learn whether that happens to be a prevailing style this year, because I don’t want to buy new pants. Others are free to cloak themselves from head to foot in the thickly woven fibers of winter protection. I’m uncomfortable watching a movie scene in which people wander around indoors with coats on.

 But anyway, all that aside, I no longer have a dedicated space where I might do the writing. The pink chair is in the bedroom now, and as I write this I’m sitting in the living room next to the old cranky cat. She is not allowed in the bedroom, much to her annoyance. It’s pleasant enough in here, but the hearth wants dusting, and there is a battery sitting on it. That will annoy me now that I know it’s there. I will get up to move it, then feel compelled to dust everything, then be reminded there are dishes to do and that we need milk.

You gotta have all that in hand if you want to be free from the distraction of it. I’m aware other people do not allow the need for household management to distract them from creative effort...

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.27.23 AM
…but that’s none of my business.

Still, I think November writing this year will be mornings with the cat, and when there is time, afternoons in the pink chair upstairs before dinner. 20151027_102318


I have this sweet 3 year-old MacBook Air now that doesn’t threaten to fall apart or die when I move it, so I am unbounded by location this year. I could even…leave the house with it.

I got some sunshine

I love lemons and lemony things, except not sour lemon candy because that is an oxymoronic disappointment. I particularly adore and treasure Meyer lemons.

And if you think perhaps I ought not to have bought New Zealand ones because of how that’s super far away, well, I want you to stop eating bananas, coconuts, mangos, and everything else that we get from the tropics where we do not live, and then we’ll talk. 20151025_165118_22284701048_o

If you are also in Southwestern Ohio and so committed to local food that you eat nothing all winter but kale and yams, that’s really terrific. I guess. I’m still going to enjoy these lemons. 20151025_165159_22285586469_o

In winter, Meyer lemons come from California and Florida, rather briefly. And I’d have expected an NZ harvest to maybe appear earlier than now, but what do I know about that? Nothing. Only that I have five whole Meyer lemons on my table to gaze upon lovingly and then use in things. 20151025_165134_21851196563_o




Royals are doing it for themselves, ie: my abstractly prophetic dream

My dream last night indicates the Royals will win. I mean, clearly they are on a trajectory to do so anyway, but dreaming of my first boyfriend in a positive forward-moving light assures me this is so.

I suppose I must stop here and point out I’m not actually into dream analysis, psychic predictions, or whatever else this might lead someone to think. I don’t cope well with a strictly linear mind, never sure when one will be launched at me, feel defensive as a result.

Anyway. I had this boyfriend when I was 15. Also 16, 17, and half of 18. Then I broke up with him in a truly awkward and possibly unforgiveable way, though I don’t think he did unforgive me, because we spoke some years later, and he was as giddy and arrogant and positive-sounding as ever; someone, I think, whose skin was hard to get under. But it was all sad when it ended, and bad timing, and I shouldn’t have done it. Yet. I should have done it a few months later.

This brings me to an aside. We had an odd relationship, and looking back, I have no idea how much of it to trust, but at the time, I had no experience to tell me I shouldn’t trust it as completely as anything else. We talked on the phone for hours nearly every night, and he wrote me many letters, in purple ink, scented, and filled with flowery prose. But we saw each other only every so many weeks, because we lived an entire hour from each other. What did he do the rest of the time? Who knows? Everything, maybe. I’ve never been able to grasp the idea that I’m so fascinating other people have a great need or desire for my company.

An aside to the aside. I enjoy my own company an awful lot. I always have, to be honest. But I don’t know why anyone else would, and I don’t trust their motivations when they say they do.

I am capable of feeling huge emotions, but often appear not to, because I find it overwhelming and exhausting to go around feeling things, and I’m pretty sure this translates to, “perhaps I don’t care for you as deeply as you care for me,” when what it really is is, “perhaps you don’t care for me as deeply I do for you, so I will protect myself from the pain of that,” and or also, “I really can’t cope with your overt emotional outpourings, as they drain energy from my soul,” and when it’s the and rather than the or, life wanders confusedly around in circles. Now you know a fairly sad or unattractive thing about me.

So when I was counseled by Lady Russell to take advantage of a changed situation in looking for better or broader prospects, I dutifully broke it off with my own Captain Wentworth, and I will not describe the painful setting of that, but it did seem quite like I broke at least some part of that cute young heart.

If I were a superstitious person, I might believe that my breaking a promise to that kid resulted in a lifetime of broken promises to me, even though I never broke one like that again. But I’m not superstitious. People bite off more than they can chew, is the main thing I think, while I’m doggedly carrying the thing to its conclusion, disappointed but not surprised to find myself alone at the finish line. That, too, superstition would dictate is the result of us both having made a series of spectacularly bad decisions after we broke up, but I like to think we’d have both done that anyway, whenever we moved on from each other. There was never going to be a reunion at the Musgroves nine years later of two reasonably successful and mature individuals.

Back to the dream. I don’t remember it, of course, but I do remember he was his young positive not-handsome-but-cute-and-bouncy andextremelyfit self, and oh, gosh, never Google someone you knew a long time ago unless you’re fully prepared for any reality…and we hadn’t met for quite some period, yet got along just as well as ever, and even though I am a Gold Star Winner at repressing memories, I could now recall tangibly the moments we spent alone together, and it was pleasant rather than painful or embarrassing, and that’s how I know the Royals will win.

Perhaps I should mention this all went on in Kansas City, where we grew up at opposite ends of the region, during the Royals’ great reign over the AL West. And so there you go.

But now I’m left with these resurfaced but unsettled memories from over 30 years ago, mentally walking through a sort of graveyard of youth and longing and uncertainty and shallow idealism. What was real about it all back then? Likely I’ll never know.

Cocktail Capers: It's A Man's Man's Man's World

I was out of gin for about a month, and found room in the budget for some this week, so I made my way to Jungle Jim’s yesterday. I thought I might save a few dollars and buy Tanqueray Ten (not Tanqueray. Tanqueray Ten.) instead of Hendrick’s. If I drove a little farther, I could buy a full liter of Hendrick’s for nearly the same cost, but wasn’t into the idea.

Anyway. Shelved between those two brands was another I’d never heard of. I called the man and asked if he’d had it, and he looked it up online to learn…IT’S FOR MEN.

It is a gin for men. Because you see, women like all their drinks to taste like hummingbird nectar and lollipops, and this scares men from gin, since the new (American style, let’s be honest,) labels are much too girly in taste profile, and there is only one kind of man and he refuses to drink any gin that might accidentally turn his martini into liquid cotton candy. Except from my experience that’s new-style vodka, not gin, and a topic for another day.

This “gin for men” idea is, of course, a marketing gimmick, but I don’t know that they are actually pursuing it other than as a testament in their advertising. I realize I made an apron yesterday and I will confess to silver polish on my toes this week, however, have you ever had the impression I would enjoy something like Fruitlooptini? Maybe the stamp was a little smudged when I was printed. Here’s a look at the concept, anyway

But in terms of what it means to be a woman drinking a “man’s gin,” this author sums it all up much better than I can, and it was hearing her review of Langley’s No. 8 over the phone that cemented my decision to buy it. I’d been wanting a gimlet all day, anyway, so she struck a chord. You really must read what she wrote about her experience with this gin. Go on, I’ll wait here.

Back? Good. Wasn’t that sharp? I do not, however, use Rose’s Lime as she did. Honestly, I find it cloyingly sweet, and why should you have to add lime juice to fix it? I like Stirrings Key Lime syrup if I can find it, but will make my own with limes, sugar and water, or, better, with Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime juice and sugar, and I also use a higher ratio of gin to lime syrup. So mine is a sterner gimlet than hers, ‘cause I guess she and Raymond Chandler are more girly than me, or whatever.

Here it is. It was refreshing, and did have a boldness to it from a somewhat more traditional profile, but it was not my favorite gimlet. DSC_4087

So to further commit to the science of understanding what makes a gin a man’s gin, I have crafted a martini this evening, which I chose to make with Lillet Blanc, in the usual 6:1 proportion, though I’ll drink one from a bar that’s 5:1, as happens from time to time. That’s probably easier to sling into a glass without fuss, just guessing. I can pour an accurate ounce from a bottle, but that’s the extent of my bartending flair.


Mainly, the thing about the Langley’s is that it’s middle ground. Have you had Junipero? Middle ground like that, but…if Langley’s is manly in the “I’ll be at my ‘no girls allowed’ club" sense, Junipero is manly in a really terrific pair of shoes, with a great haircut and the often delectable scent of “yes, girls are allowed, because I like them a lot.” I don’t know, the metaphoric comparison got off track between brain and keyboard. Anyway. Langley’s No. 8 is partly classic, partly “new” botanical. It doesn’t taste entirely of tree like old-timey gins, nor entirely of garden, which is what their copywriter dismissed about brands such as Hendrick’s.


So maybe that’s what men like and women don’t: middle ground. That hasn’t been my personal experience, but what do I really know, after all? I probably like an Aviation because it’s lightly purple. That’s probably why Ernest Hemingway liked it, too. He was known for being such a girl.

So, the martini is good. DSC_4099

I'd say it's very good, well-balanced, and gives one ideas about things, which a good martini should always do, but again, not my favorite. This gin, I think, is well-made for tall fizzy drinks, which is not my arena. Still, if you like gin, and I do mean styles of gin created since Germany was reunited, I recommend giving Langley’s No. 8 a try. I paid $38, whereas Hendrick’s is generally $34, but this will vary according to region.

PS: At the Langley’s website, there’s little mention of this man’s gin business, but there are several recipes which are rather more fussy-sounding than most of the ones I make. Your mileage, of course, will vary.


I remember the 80s...a little differently

I turned 15 in 1980. Thus, my perspective on the entire decade is based on music and fashion. But my music and fashion never had anything to do with fluffy kitty Tiffany mall girls trends people remember now at all, and so I'm sometimes confused by looks back. But maybe everyone looking back was a little girl just then.  

I'm not saying many of the videos were very good; they were super dumb most of the time. Nevertheless...they did sound cool

Early in the decade I did a modified menswear look, but then went in for a lot of black and white; miniskirts with backless blouses and fisherman's sandals, and I also did the Fame thing, plus there were printed pants made of seersucker which were baggy at the hips, but tapered to hug the ankle, which (at the time) I thought looked cool with Danskin jazz oxfords. Then there was a late 40s thing going on; linen shifts and pumps and a snood, and in 1985 I bobbed my hair in a tapered line down my jaw, wearing very high-waisted acetate trousers with a Victorian-influenced blouse or a sleeveless turtleneck with a back drape.

I never went in for the tough girl thing, sartorially. I went from lazy and boyish to...you know how Molly Ringwald's characters were always a little more dressed up than everyone else?  

Later in the decade, life intruded for me, but I do remember people dressing more like TV sitcom characters, so I guess that's why that is what they remember. I think it was a mad conglomeration of everything from the past 7 or 8 years, all thrown into a blender and set to a commercial jingle. But it was not "the 80s."

The dancing in this is hilarious to see. But it was, in large part, the 80s I remember. 

Let's have some encore time. Better version of "Vienna Calling," too, arrangement-wise.

PS: I gotta be honest. I was also never even sure what a "hair band" was until about ten years later when ads for hits collections of them appeared on late night TV. We all had our own things going.

resonating encounter

I’ve been mulling over the nature of attraction, and therefore also the nature of repulsion. Mostly attraction, but why are we sometimes drawn to a stranger or a picture and other times repelled by one? However, I'm not going to talk about repulsion, as that is unpleasant, and instead focus on the desire for the train to slow down a little before it reaches your stop. Setting aside generally objective standards of beauty, as well as what we find personally physically appealing, what causes us to seek out an encounter or delay ending one with someone we might not otherwise notice in a crowd, or a waiting room, or mowing a lawn, perhaps? DSC_4051

It’s not scent; it occurs online sometimes, as well, though this can create a false narrative. Over the years I’ve met a couple dozen people I spoke with online, male and female, mostly female, and the ones with whom I settled in and really connected to weren’t always the ones I’d have predicted.

Sometimes I’m at a Target on the other side of town where the cashier available at that time of day is a fairly stereotypical gay man about my age. He wears a divine scent and we always have a bit of good conversation. I’m drawn to his scent, and I like our brief talks, but I don’t feel drawn to him in any way other than by a notion we probably have some commonalities based on age. He might would probably bore me at dinner. But recently at the symphony, I made a polite remark to a woman sitting near me, and this caused her to strike up a conversation during intermission. She was clearly one of those people with a thousand stories, able to hold court wherever she is, surrounded by listeners. I’m often drawn to that archetype, at least, the female version, and will politely listen, nod, and smile in turn. A man who holds court in that fashion is rarely interesting to me, and I wonder what the difference is, but I suppose that’s another topic.

That’s all another kind of attraction, anyway, not the “I might like to touch your arm as we speak” variety.

I might be mulling this over because as I age, the bits of attractiveness I relied on to ease myself through the extroverted world are mostly all faded, and I feel sometimes like quite a different person than the one I see in the mirror, especially since I began wearing glasses all the time. I never felt like my insides and outsides quite matched anyway, but they do even less so now. It vainly occurred to me that other people have probably been confronting this all along. And as I never regarded their beauty or the lack of it as a paramount characteristic, why should I assume other people ever regarded me only as something to view or avoid viewing? I’m not really so awful as to think I am the only person in the room with a measure of depth…

We should definitely all smell nice and make our hair and clothes neat when we go out. Is it old-fashioned of me to think so? I don’t care.

A few days ago, I was watching a TV show, and saw a young actor who struck me with his beauty. (Yes, like a smack on the back of the head.) I looked him up to see what else he appeared in and learned he is about 30 years old. Yikes. I was drawn to him on screen, nonetheless, but would I have been in real life? It’s doubtful, as I’m generally drawn to people, in this way or the other way, who are about my same age or just a little older. There’s a data equation for it with incrementally shifting variables, I think. But as I grow older, one thing never changes, and it’s that thing I seemed to start out talking about at the beginning of this wandering typefest.

For me, that “I want to touch your arm as we speak” sensation occurs only with men, but it’s reasonable to assume both males and females might experience it with either gender. It’s physical attraction, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into “I want to touch you beneath your clothing.” People are sometimes confused on that point, and would breathe a lot easier if they’d stop to consider the matter for what it is and isn't. Did you ever have a “work spouse,” which I understand to be a thing, and actually try to take that next step with him or her, only to have it end in awkwardness and the sense that you can never go back to your previous groovy “we might, but we don’t” status? Sometimes, anticipation is the reward. You pin that person to your internal “I probably would” board, but don’t actually follow through.

When I was younger, I was really no good at that. If I wanted someone, he’d absolutely learn about it. But I was a little mixed up and would get in over my head. My switch was stuck halfway on, which isn’t nice for other people. I wanted it badly sometimes, yet not quite enough to follow through (that is inaccurate; it was the protective mechanism of fear, not lack of desire, that took over.) Well, I loved that “we could if only we could” sensation, and would happily sustain it for a long time, but then switch off if the response was too close to reality. I wasn’t this way on purpose; I just didn’t know how to take anyone as seriously as they take themselves, which can be terribly hurtful. To be honest, I’m still no good at that, but eventually I learned to avoid any appearance of interest, which is a kinder path to take, though it became too stringent. I used to laugh and say if I were a man I’d have been…much more physically impulsive. Certain gender-defining properties being what they are, it’s possible. But I can’t think about that more than very abstractly. I cannot for the life of me imagine what sort of woman I’d find attractive were I a man. Perhaps if I were a man, I’d still just prefer other men.

So, where was I? On a train ride, perhaps, stuck on that one bridge between Penn Station and Seacaucus for no reason anyone ever could see. Or in a waiting room or a bookstore. Very little is said, there’s just some palpable nature to the air that brings a smile when thought of later on.

Is it always reciprocal? Is that particular (from chemical or electrical particles? neat thought) sensation only possible when it goes both ways? It’s awfully nice to think so, even though it usually doesn’t and generally shouldn’t lead anywhere further. I think we should, with our better natures, remain open to these little moments in time, appreciate our connectivity, allow it to energize our thoughts and moods and improve our view of humanity. I allowed that to happen pretty often when I was younger, not only in the more focused manner I referred to above, but just out and about in the world. I’ve probably been overlooking that opportunity for years now, knowing there’ll never be another boy with a bouzouki looking back at a girl seemingly made entirely of contrasts. That girl wasted some measurable energy mourning the loss of something that could never, ever be real, though. This woman knows there is no loss in appreciating energy without seeking to manipulate it.


here in my car; a musical ode

Oh, you darling. You snap to life the moment my sole touches your pedal. You accelerate like you're bound for heaven and you're still so smooth around the curves. How I missed you for the past six days. That new loaner car smelled nice and had a flashy display, but it was all surface glimmer, no real bottom at all. It rode lightly along a path, but you, Ava, you drive.

Naturally, when I got my old badass momcar back from the Jeff Wyler Mazda service department, all I wanted to do was drive her. I took the scenic path into town to the new gimongous Kroger, and played music like we were both still young girls, going places just for the sake of going. Except in middle age, and today, that really just meant passing 16 other Krogers to get to the new posh one.

But with the sun shining, the windows down, hair flying, it's easy to imagine I could take over the road; time shifts into reverse, collagen reappears, waistline flattens and narrows, and the odometer rolls back a million miles as we head to the city or the sea or anywhere we like.

We visit the places we'd always meant to see...

If we travel back too far, I might find myself alone in front of a green screen, telling myself I'm not self-conscious, repeating it over and over again until it's true. Which, of course, is exactly what I did, once upon a time.

Nearing home again after spending all the grocery money, reality takes a bite out of my brief fantasy. She's just a car. It's a car. It's old, and maybe the water pump will go soon, or a belt, or some seals. Other people are learning to drive this car, and I'll have to let her go with them, wherever they go, and hope for their safe return. I will have to share her. 

We understand each other, though. We are just like this. We've been a lot of places in the past eight and a half years, and I hope we see lots more. 20151006_141300

PS: those dealerships really know how to engender loyalty, don't they? I'm no good at resisting the charm of it all, and there's little question where I'll head to if needs arise or change...but for now, Ava and I are all in all. I'm going out now to give her a nice facial and massage.