Morning Run in the Neighborhood

My summers off allow me to run in the morning when everything seems nicer and fresher. I usually jog the same route through the same streets, and I encounter some of the same people along the way.  I wave and smile at the older gentleman who hollers “nice pace, maam!” as I pass by.  I sometimes stop and pet two of my favorite neighborhood cats, the portly, demanding tuxedo named Lady H and the blue-eyed, equally demanding cat that I call Alice.  Dog walkers nod or say hi as our paths cross, but I’m sad to say that a lot of people don’t acknowledge my presence.  That’s okay, because I like to think that I’m invisible when I run.  Except to cars-that’s why I wear a neon-orange shirt!  This morning I greeted one of my favorite fellow morning exercisers, the petite lady who wears long pants, a turtleneck, a wool jacket, a hat, and hot-pink gloves.  Everyday.  Today is August 2, and the temperature was probably 61-62 degrees when we were out.  Granted, I’m wearing long sleeves for protection against the sun but not the cold.  However, I understand her attire.  I was chilled for the first five years that I lived here.  Moving from Houston, I thought any temperature under 75º was cold.  While other people were wearing shorts and sandals, I wore sweatshirts and Uggs.  Gradually, I warmed up.  Maybe she will too, but I would miss her hot-pink gloves.

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Musicals and me

Months have passed since I’ve written or even felt like writing.  I’ve been in a minor funk–not a bad one, just the kind where I would rather take a nap or read the New York Times than do something productive.  Then today I decided to catch up on my friend Mitch’s blog, and I read that he’s not really much of a fan of musicals!  What?  We’ve been friends for almost seventeen years, yet I did not know this?  How could I not know this!  I love musicals.  Many of my childhood memories involve singing along with show tunes.  My cousin Dan and I listened to the soundtrack to The Sound of Music until we wore it out!  Our duet of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” was outstanding to our pre-teen ears.   I know all the words to every song from Calamity Jane because I watched the movie probably forty times before I was seven years old.  (It was on TV quite often in the mid-sixties.) Mitchito says that  “[p]eople suddenly bursting out into song while walking in the street never looked right to me on film, just goofy.”  I sadly but respectfully disagree!  I used to think that spontaneous song and dance numbers happened all the time; I was just never in the right place.  I mean, look at the organic song-bursts that happened in The Music Man because they had trouble in River City!  (After being so smitten with this film, I not only sang the songs, I emulated the speech patterns of the characters.  My mother was forced to inform me that “Ye Gods!” wasn’t a nice thing for six-year old girls to be screeching.) And My Fair Lady!  Really, Mitch!  Few things are more satisfying than singing “Just You Wait, Henry Higgins” at high volume.  Try it!  And wouldn’t it be fun to have Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye narrate your life in song!  (I know, I know.  Cat Ballou isn’t technically a musical, and yet….)

To give Mitch credit, he does say that he likes musicals that tell a more plausible story.  To me, the story was only a vehicle for the music that allowed the beautiful people to sing or dance.   If you will excuse me now, I have to go listen and sing along with “I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight”.

A life well lived…

My book group most recently gathered on March 22, and all of us remarked on the absence of our friend Carol.  “She’s never sick,”  “She never misses,” and similar comments greeted the news that she wouldn’t be joining us that night.  The following Saturday we learned that she had pancreatic cancer, and the following Tuesday she died.  The swiftness and shock of it all were evident on the faces of her friends and family who gathered for the memorial two days Continue reading “A life well lived…”

Time for some Culture

Getting students comfortable enough to speak another language is hard work.  Students’ fear of making mistakes, general shyness and/or uncertainty all do battle with my efforts to get them to communicate en français.   The constant work on vocab and verbs and pronunciation takes up every second of the class, but sometimes we just have to carve out time for something else.  Yesterday was one such day.  The French fête of Chandeleur  (a combination of Pagan and Christian celebrations that anticipate Spring)  was actually Thursday, but our school schedule made it easier to make crèpes for the kids on Friday. Round, golden crepes remind us of the sun, or so the story goes,  but they also remind the kids that French class is cool and Madame est super cool.

Making crepes and getting ready to make crepes is really quite the production for me.  I arrive at school with the crepe-maker, the blender, a cooler full of ingredients, and a bag of tools and dishes.  I have to get up a little earlier to make a batch of batter before I leave for school because it has to sit for an hour.  Then I have to set out all the fillings, the plates, the recipes, and so forth.  The effort pays off as the need to communicate becomes something tangible for the kids.  I can get a yummy crepe and smear it with Nutella and strawberries!  Or bananas and chocolate chips if I just ask for it politely in French!  And whipped cream!  Merci Madame they all think.  And they forget to worry about the mistakes.  They all think about Chandeleur, the coming spring, and how easy and delicious crepes are.  As for me, I’m worn out (but pleased).  Meanwhile, the kids in my English classes are resentful.

 

Oh my aching back and wooden spoon…

The discomfort hit me as we were walking toward the checkout line. The nerves and muscles around my sacral and lumbar vertebrae decided to twinge and then ache with low-to mid-level pain. I was bummed because today is Sunday, and on Sundays, I cook. I cook all day because I love to cook and because we then have dinners for the rest of the week, making those work days easier.

Today is a stormy Sunday, and the weather forecast says rain all week, so that calls for soup. minest Continue reading “Oh my aching back and wooden spoon…”

What did I read? I don’t recall…

I’ve been laid up for a few days, so I’ve been perusing lots of “Year in Review”articles, including several lists of best or favorite books of the year.  I devour those with interest, often thinking “Aw, I love that one too,” or “I intend to read that one soon.”  Then I started thinking back on the books I read this year, and I couldn’t remember very many.  What has happened to me?  Reading is and has been one of the great pleasures of my life, and my ability to recall plots, characters, and entire paragraphs has been one of my geeky talents since second grade.  Now I’m not sure what I read as recently as October. Stress?

Anyway, I just finished Don Wallace’s charming memoir, The French House, a book that makes me wish that I could hang out with the author and his wife and go surfing and have picnics and drink wine.  Thinking of that memoir reminds me of the other memoir that I do recall reading this year:  Consider the Oyster by M.F.K Fisher.   I feel the same way about Fisher that I do about Wallace in that I would have loved to have dinner and lively conversation with her.  Before Wallace, I finally read The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles simply because it had been on my shelf for years.  I could not put it down once I began, but Continue reading “What did I read? I don’t recall…”

Big Black and Beautiful

So proud of my brother-in-law! Here are some thoughts on his big, chewy, yummy Petite Sirah. And he’s sold out of his Zin (my favorite)!

SOIF

Black, impenetrable crimson with staining lipstick edges.  Heady oak and cassis split the briar and sandpaper evenly between the volatility and obtuse fruit.  Mint and edgy AL, scrubbed SS and petrichor make for a Disraeli alignment of *black* and *bright*.  Holy wow this just is mind-boggling good PS.  not even gonna guess at the AL.  One of those things where I’m scared how high it might be, but at the same time am leg-humping it so hard I don’t care.  In the mouth, thick and unrelenting.  So dense and disgustingly concentrated, yet obfuscating the whole ‘Paso’ thing into tangible acid, fruit and concentration.  Here’s where it differs.  Huge banana-peel glycerin-ridden pineapple brilliance against a woody structure dripping in dark brown sugar and Liquid Smoke.  Everything feels so naturally de-riven and balanced.  Blistering tannins claw at everything sensory but never conceal the disgustingly rich fruit.  An almost ag-ed Napa Cab situation…

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