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Sunday, December 31, 2006

"Time takes a cigarette,
puts it in your mouth, pull on a finger,
then another finger, then your cigarette..."
David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust

What will the gods sniff if we can't put something in our pipe and smoke it?

As of Jan. 1 a new policy at The Reporter, as well as all Gannett-owned businesses, to my knowledge, prohibits employees from smoking anywhere outside the building.

They can't drive away on their 15 minute breaks twice a day to light one up because that is considered company time. Neither can they smoke in their cars, behind a bush, peering from a manhole or crouching in a dumpster, hands cupped over a matchbox (which may well be the case if I know newspaper people like I think I do).

Correct me if I'm wrong. I thought tobacco was legal?

No wonder hobbits can no longer be found this side of Middle Earth.

I'm taking a politically incorrect stand here, and man, does it feel good.

I love the smell of tobacco smoke.

Managing editor Mike Mentzer was waxing nostalgic last night, recreating the days when the newsroom could only be seen through one big cloud of blue smoke.

"The page one editor had one cigarette going in the ashtray and one in his mouth, the ash about 4 inches long," Mentzer related.

Ah, the smell of cigarettes, pipes, a good cigar, the inside of a sweat lodge as the peace pipe is passed around....... the way the wisps of smoke curl through the air like fairy lace... the social nature of a good smoke, the way it clears the mind and calms the nerves.

I grow misty-eyed watching the old black and white movie stars lighting up everywhere and anywhere. Last night, I can't recall the flick, a doctor offered his patient a cig and they both lit up in his office. LOL

Please spare me all the bad things about smoking...that's not my point. We all know what can kill us in excess (INXS!) cars, MOTORCYCLES, crossing the 151 bypass, plastic wrap, deodorant (which one oncologist told me he thought to be the leading cause of breast cancer), cake (the number one culprit - that lust-filled brown-eyed Susan cake from Everix Bakery), Joe's Fox Hut Pizza (and what a way to go), eating any fish but lets' pick on sturgeon, hair spray, wood-burning stoves, the sun's rays, the chemicals in new carpeting, listening to Barry Manilow or watching Regis & Kelly, hair dye, etc., etc., etc.,

In his 1993 book "Cigarettes are Sublime" Richard Klein, a Cornell University French professor, attacks what he calls this country's current craze of "violent antitabagism."

"Healthism in America has sought to make longevity the principal measure of a good life," he writes. "To be a survivor is to acquire moral distinction. But another view, a dandy's perhaps, would say that living, as distinct from surviving, acquires its value from risks and sacrifices that tend to shorten life and hasten dying."

I don't smoke at work, but I confess to a quirky habit: I have two cigarettes after 9 p.m., usually every day. It was my compromise, years ago, with quitting...which seemed to me such "giving in to the man."

Goodbye to the days you could enjoy a good smoke as one of life's simple pleasures.

I just hope Santa doesn't have a nic fit while driving his sleigh.

Friday, December 29, 2006

People, how could I resist.??????????

The Rust List, which is the biggest Neil Young Internet community with a cast of thousands, invited "Rusties" to pose a New Year's Resolution for Neil.

How, tell me how to just keep quiet, not be a fool for the man. "Stop acting 14," I tell myself.

Alas, it's a hopeless cause. Roll your eyes all you want, I can't see you!

Re:1a. Re: New Years resolutions for Neil

Neil, who has been wondering about his soul mate in the back of his mind for some 40 years now....

you know the one....the girl he dreams about but has never met...

the girl he sings all the songs about but could not find ... so he settled for Pegi... (aka Peg-eye)...
not saying she ain't nice, but there's still this girl stuck in Neil's head... wild and freaky hair, blue eyes, slightly overweight, one discolored tooth in the front, spills things daily...the image is stuck in his head...

One night he's playing Milwaukee, a warm summer night on Lake Michigan...

There's a full moon, a soft breeze coming off the lake, it's one of his favorite spots....

He's always energized in Milwaukee, feels these wild, crazy vibes but doesn't know why...

Suddenly he sees a face in the audience, a face he never saw before because she never had front row seats before... but this time she does.....

His fingers freeze about the strings and for a brief second lightning courses through him...

His breath won't come, his eyes are locked on the face....







Thursday, December 28, 2006

I was looking at that you have-to-hand-wash me sweater in the sink full of cold water today and I didn't even curse its need for indulgence (Although I can never squeeze enough water out of the damn thing and it takes about seven weeks to dry and every time I glance at it I wish I had my mother's old wringer washer with which she had us kids convinced we would lose one of our arms just by living under the same roof with it).

Winter brings out all the tactile pleasures, doesn't it?

Soft sweaters, the hairy kind.
Kid-skin (sorry Lee! I know, geez that is so bad) gloves.
Mukluks (My kids will not know this word).
The warming house at the ice-rink, throw in some hot chocolate and the way it feels going down although I know you are thinking that's taste but it's not.
Strawberry cream lotion on dried-out -half-a-century -old skin.
Smoothing that well-packed snowball.
Opening a card lined in gold foil.
Burying your head in a pillow filled with goose feathers, about 4 p.m.
Scratching your name on a frost-covered window.
Holding a very old hand, skin paper thin.
Sinking into a steaming bubble bath.
Mint chapstick.
Lips on a crystal champagne glass.
Rubbing your bleary eyes at 6 a.m., not yet ready to focus on a new day.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

As I write this mosquitoes buzz around my head, mid-winter.Flood waters breed strange bedfellows for Christmas Eve.

I promise this is the last of my indulgences in a rare and out-of-nowhere poetry binge.

Maybe it came from needing to laugh during a season that can turn on you at a moment's notice.

It is for my Jewish friends that I share the work of Hal Sirowitz, who wrote a book of poems about his mother entitled "Mother Said."

Turns out it's about my mother too, although she wouldn't have thought so.

She swore that dragonflies would sew your eyes shut, bats would nest in your hair and wearing underwear to bed would make you sick.

This book makes a great gift for moms who can laugh at themselves.

Chopped-Off Arm

Don't stick your arm out of the window, Mother said.
Another car can sneak upbehind us, & chop it off.
Then your father will have to stop,
stick the severed piece in the trunk, & drive you to the hospital.
It's not like the parts of your telescope that snap back on.
A doctor will have to sew it.
You won't be able to wear short sleeves.
You won't want anyone to see the stitches.

Damaged Body
Don't swim in the ocean while it's raining, Mother said.
Lighning can hit the water, & you'll be paralyzed.
You don't like to eat vegetables. Imagine having to spend the rest of your life being one
Someone will have to wash you, take you to the bathroom, & feed you.
Children will tease you.
But you may be lucky, & get struck by only a small voltage.
Then you'll be a smart vegetable, like aspargas.
You'll be able to make your bed by yourself -which you don't do now - but people will feel too sorry for you to talk to you.
You may think it'll be fun to vegetate around the house all day. But every time you'll think about yourself, like wouldn't it be nice to eat a chocolate ice cream cone,
the thought will flicker,
& then go out.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

God to Noah:

"I want you to build an Ark..... and when you get that done go out into the world and collect all of the animals in the world by twos, male and female, and put them into the ark."



"Who is this really?"

Bill Cosby's classic Noah/God schtick

Two days of rain in Fond du Lac created a river in my back yard big enough for me to joke with a friend while on the phone "bring me a boat."

Never mock mother nature when she is in a bad mood.

No sooner had I said those words when I heard a rushing of water, like someone was running a bath.

Should I make a long story short for you, to spare you the horror, or, depending how you feel about me, loud guffaws?

There I was, standing in my basement, armed with a mop and several buckets to catch the water pouring out around a filled-to-the-brim and swelling window well, when, as if in slow motion like a movie, the double window bubbled like a concave lens, then burst.

Mixed with shattered glass spraying in a million pieces was, of course, the river, muddy and rushing with pent-up-relief around me as I ran for higher ground, following the cat who was setting world speed records.

The rest of the story is all detail: summoning the Cavalry; "I'M FREAKING OUT" screamed at five minute intervals throughout the day; watching some guy crotch deep in the freezing river trying to unclog a dam of debri; sucking sounds of hoses; the blast of industrial fans; wondering if the liquor store delivers; drying shoes in the oven (yum, what's cooking, rubber mixed with old feet??) and thinking it would be a good time for an aneurism, right about now and why can't Hugh Laurie be a real doctor?

It's the next day and hell, I'm going Christmas shopping for some hip-waders.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Does anyone know how to shut a cat up?

Funny, real funny. I can't do that.

Because of Colleen and the de-manning of cows debauchle and Jared and his hunting of Bambi I'm sure PETA regularly checks all of our Reporter blogs.

Seriously, my 13-year-old cat




Every stinking one of his waking moments is spent caterwauling, in the real sense of the word.

It's not a nice "meow." That I wouldn't mind.

Quasar "YOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWLS" on the top of his lungs, incessantly, which sometimes isn't loud enough for his own pleasure so he goes in the basement where it echoes and really belts it out.

He's no slouch in the cat world. He hails from a breed called Birman or Sacred Cat of Burma, named Quasar because each birth-year for registered Birmans is assigned a letter of the alphabet. 1993 was "Q."

One year he was awarded the prestigious grand champion win at the Fond du Lac County fair, and thankfully, unlike other grand champions, this was not followed by slaughtering him and entering him in a carcass show.

In retrospect...............

I hate to yell at Quasar because he has such a "Heart of Gold" but I'd finally had enough at 5 a.m. this morning when he was bemoaning some cat fact on the top of his lungs outside my bedroom, emphasizing his point by slipping little paws underneath the crack in the door and pounding his head against it.

(Please don't even suggest I sleep with him. He's also an incessant licker, his raspy little tongue a weapon on the defenseless lips and eyelids of those lost in dreamland)

I leaped out of bed, threw open the door like a banshee*, clapping my hands and hissing through my teeth "Shut up, shut up, shut up!"

You guessed it. Bad karma happened and I tripped and fell, sprawled in the pre-dawn hour across the living room floor.

Thankfully, I did not crack my head open, but for a minute I did hear a host of t.s. elliot's literary felines laughing their asses off.

Cesar, I'm begging you, can't you whisper cats too?

* Banshee: Afemale spirit in Gaelic folklore whose wailing warns a family that one of them will soon die
I attended the first, of which many, I'm sure, will follow, 50th birthday party for one of my friends.

Sally and I are soul twins and believe this story:

When God said, "No it's not time yet, don't do it," we thumbed our noses at him, held hands and jumped...into the wrong bodies at the wrong time in the wrong universe.

There's some comfort in this realization, knowing we are strangers in a strange land together.

Rebellion, we learned, gets you somewhere, but will you know where when you get there?

There was much discomfort, however, in realizing how my friends are defining each other at this stage in life:

By physical appearance and the success of their children.

Ease drop on their conversations when asked how so-and-so is doing these days.

"You should see Patty, still a girlish figure. She hasn't gained a pound, weighs what she did in high school......"

"Joe, he's completely bald, and fat, my God, he can hardly walk...."

"Her son will be making $80,000 grand a year. Tall, and so handsome, Yale scholarship...."

"All their children are above average and travel the world...."

"Still smokes like a chimney. They put in a pacemaker you know...."

"All new carpeting, a jacuzzi, it's worth about $80 grand..."

I wanted to say these aren't the things I want to know about my old friends, but remembered this:

"Feasting in mid-winter promotes friendship and strengthens the family if like the sage you can be tolerant enough to let others just be themselves with nothing said." --(Taoist) Lao Fzu

But I was thinking this:

The Invitation

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (seriously)

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own
without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty every day.
And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Carl Sandburg almost ruined poetry for me for life.

Sorry Carl, you are probably a nice guy, but I still shudder at the thought of being in fourth grade, where each week a poetry radio show was piped in through the public address system.

If you've never heard Carl Sandburg read his poetry, consider yourself lucky.
It was like listening to Eeyore on valium, like Satan heavily sedated.
To a fourth grader, it felt like this show went on for hours, days, decades in which only people with voices deep enough to sing "Rawhide" exist.

I ask teachers if kids today actually read poetry, because mine don't.

"Howl" by Allen Ginsberg ruined it for my son., which I thought odd. Remember, he's the free spirit living a hippie-like lifestyle in Oregon, though I'd like to add a disclaimer: He is in no way one of those "fake, trendy, yuppie-hippies" that seem to cluster in the Pacific Northwest. You can tell them by their Birckenstocks, he points out, versus the Dollar Store tennies wrapped in duct tape.

"What a whiner," he said of Ginsberg on the phone the other night.

This all leads me to the delight I felt listening to Billy Collins read his poetry on Garrison Keilor's Prairie Home companion this week.

Being an iconoclast nothing much makes me laugh out loud.

But Billy does.

The Revenant by Billy Collins

I am the dog you put to sleep,
as you like to call the needle of oblivion,
come back to tell you this simple thing:
I never liked you--not one bit.
When I licked your face, I thought of biting off your nose.
When I watched you toweling yourself dry,
I wanted to leap and unman you with a snap.
I resented the way you moved, your lack of animal grace,
the way you would sit in a chair and eat,
a napkin on your lap, knife in your hand.
I would have run away, but I was too weak,
a trick you taught me while I was learning to sit and heel,
and--greatest of insults--shake hands without a hand.
I admit the sight of the leash
would excite me but only because it meant I was about
to smell things you had never touched.
You do not want to believe this,
but I have no reason to lie.
I hated the car,
the rubber toys,
disliked your friends and, worse, your relatives.
The jingling of my tags drove me mad.
You always scratched me in the wrong place.
All I ever wanted from you was food
and fresh water in my metal bowls.
While you slept,
I watched you breathe
as the moon rose in the sky.
It took all my strength not to raise my head and howl.
Now I am free of the collar,
the yellow raincoat,
monogrammed sweater,
the absurdity of your lawn,
and that is all you need to know about this place
except what you already supposed
and are glad it did not happen sooner--
that everyone here can read and write,
the dogs in poetry,
the cats and the others in prose.

If you recall Maynard G. Krebs from Dobie Gilles you all should be snapping your fingers right about now. ;-D

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I know I've been lax in blogging.

This was the week, that besides work, I had to, let's just say in case there are little eyes peering this way, get some stuff together to ship out to the Pacfic Northwest, where it seems, for some inexplicable reason, most of my remaining family have moved.

There's been a definite westward trend, like pioneers, or cowboys, although we all hate country music, so I just don't get it.

When my grandmother got off the boat at Ellis Island she first worked in Pennsylvania as a maid and cook.

Little generational footsteps walking across America.

Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow.

Meanwhile do get these in your email?

"The old man was glad to have his opinion sustained, and by a local home with the potatomasher or the rolling pin, but when duty called along the trail, they often changed their complexion entirely when Mrs. Her followed, even though it involved the using of unfamiliar cockroaches, primitive - through of fear and horror that day - and I tried phenomenon to life-like quiet of marriage, those cone-shaped ceremonies. Maggie let in the clear light of conscience on them, for even she wrote a lengthy letter to Robert Grant, care of The Imperial and the assembled members expenditure of the tribe and reassured her as best I might; prehistoric stimulus but even to me the future looked on and listened in an artificial a sort of way.

Spam jibberish?

Or pure genius?

I leave it to you.

I think it may be the new poetry of our age.

Move over Jack Keroac, P. Diddy Puff Daddy - here come the new voices of our time.

Saturday, December 09, 2006



the wind


My pristine bedroom view of a hedgerow complete with owl's nest, and beyond, a farmer's field, has been disturbed by a most hideous site.

A reindeer made of white wire that lights up at night, but only about half of it lights up, adorned with a day-glow red velvet bow, big and flapping in the breeze.

If I were a creature of the wild I would be running like hell right now.

Enhancing this Onion-esque still life, with wired deer and a satellite dish on a lop-sided pole and some bird feeders that remain birdless because of the deer on ecstasy, is a set of wind chimes.

You have no idea what this sound does to a woman approaching 50.





If you see me these days, have mercy.
It's the damn chimes......

Friday, December 08, 2006

If you are like me and all stressed out about Christmas and shopping but haven't even started yet so you are just stressed out from thinking about it relax and take a break by visiting this cool blog called:

Mighty Goods.

It's a shopping blog that’s updated five days a week and the bloggers themselves spend time finding and posting things they love, things they've found so you don't have to out there in cyber-space shopping land.

This isn't a plug or anything, I just like to look.

According to Mighty Goods:

"These aren't just any old things, these are exactly the right things. They will brighten your eyes, match you couch, and fix the annoying problem that's been bothering you."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I'm not going to miss the next "Summer of Love."

According to San Francisco's Union-Tribune it's time to "break out the incense and bell-bottoms and get ready to wear some flowers in your hair..."

A free, daylong Summer of Love 40th anniversary festival is being planned for Sept. 2, 2007 at SpeedwayMeadows in Golden Gate Park.

I hope to have gathered a busload of Fondy residents by then, and preferably a VW Bus with flowers painted on the side, to take the cross-country trek.

Of course I find out info like this because the promoters' list of potential acts include Neil Young.

For those of you who weren't born yet The Summer of Love refers to the summer of 1967, and particularly to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco where thousands of young people from all over the world "loosely and freely united for a new social experience.," according to Wikepedia.

I can tell you this wasn't the case here in Wisconsin in 1967. I was ten years old. It was a couple years before any monumental change hit, and boy, did it ever. In the school year of 1969-70 girls were first allowed to wear pants to school. It was like "Girls Gone Wild."

The beginning of the Summer of Love has been attributed to the Human Be-In held at Golden Gate Park on Jan. 14 of that year.
John Phillips of the Mamas Papasapas wrote the following lyrics for the song "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)."
"If you're going to San Francisco,
be sure to wear some flowers in your hair...
If you come to San Francisco, summertime will be a love-in there."

The song was designed originally to promote the June, 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, the world's first major rock concert, which was attended by over 200,000 people.

So let me know if you want to sign up.

I'm sure worried they don't make bell-bottoms in my size...;-D.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My dear sister,

Obviously you are not honoring our poor, dead mother's wishes by revisiting the Jerry Lewis telethon episode, are you?

I did speak with David Canary, who, after his stint on "Bonanza" as "Candy," the hired hand, has starred for years on the soap opera "All My Children," in fact playing dual roles magnificently as twin brothers Adam and Stewart Chandler.

I think you were the one crying because you didn't get to talk to him.

As for Mr. Rogers, licking water out of a bowl like a cat, while that may be true, mother and I were just trying to wean you off the guy. We said, Diane, you are in high school now, it's time to expand your horizons.

I loved that man. When my kids were little we watched it twice a day, my toe-haired son screaming "ROGERS IS ON, ROGERS IS ON!"

So from now on please practice what we were taught, beginning at a young age.

'What goes on in this house, stays in this house, you hear me?"

Friday, December 01, 2006

I'm a recovering crier.
It has been months since I cried but this week I spent some time at work crying in the bathroom.
A former co-worker whom I won't mention named Lee Reinsch taught me that trick. If all else fails, head to the bathroom.
It's preferable to crying at your desk, which confuses and embarrasses people (much like the dog-nosed woman at Halloween in Wal-Mart), especially the guys and there is nothing worse then showing your weakness and crying in the business world.

The problem is it's our main women's bathroom, the one with the magazines in it, the good hand lotion and a window.
(Only you, and you know who you are, would take that the wrong way).

I used to cry buckets all the time but with age comes a kind of not-giving-so-much-of-a-rat's-you-know-what anymore.

So prior to my hardening heart and my kids exclaiming "she's crying again!" name a place. I've probably cried there.

Despite the usual life, death, birth situations some bizarre major crying jags of epic proportions:

When my younger sister scared me while I was playing the play-by-number electric organ, which she has never let me forget.
Neil Young concert, weeping like someone who needs to be medically sedated.
Cried through the entire wedding of my older sister, my face swelled and distorted in the family photos.
Most television shows, movies and commercials. At the end of "Shenandoah," my father made me leave the room. "What's wrong with you?" he said. "Are you smoking marijuana?"
When Lassie comes home.
The day Mr. Rogers died. The country should have shut down.
"The eagles are coming, the eagles are coming..." reaching that point in Tolkien's trilogy. I was reading to my kids and I had to put the book down and leave the room.

Now, of course, I resort to other emotional outlets.

Colleen, when is that cheesecake getting here?

I got an e-mail this week from Chuck Quirmbach, Mr. deep voice perfect annunciator extraordinaire at Wisconsin and National Public radio.

He's in my bedroom every morning, his alluring voice wakes me at 6 a.m.

Last week his news clip for NPR highlighted midnight at a huge outlet mall near the Wisconsin/Illinois border as shoppers screamed their way into bargain hell on Black Friday.

I had to chuckle.

Despite the baritone resonance he is Chuck Quirmbach, another memory from grade school, short, red hair, freckles. I can't get that picture of him out of my mind, because of course, I never see him.

That's the magic intimacy of radio. My mother's long affair listening to Gordon Hinkley and "Ask Your Neighbor," a housewife's staple that lasted for decades (I've seen Gordon is still alive and doing Church & Chapel T.V. commercials -LOL); hot summer nights long ago, transistor held to the ear way past bedtime listening to WOKY and Wolfman Jack's top 40; Tuning in as a teen to Bleeker Street coming from an underground station in Little Rock Arkansas; sitting in the parking lot as a young adult with hundreds of fans as Milwaukee's WZMF radio with a then much younger and pretty hot Bob Reitman goes off the air (I still have an unused bumper sticker).

Nick Carter of the Journal Sentinel staff wrote: March 23, 1979: For many local radio listeners, it was the day the spirit of rock radio died. It was on that date that WZMF-FM, a 3,000-watt radio station, went off the air for good, saying farewell with Jimi Hendrix's rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner," followed by static.

Freddie Mercury, bless your soul, you were right.

"Radio...Someone who loves you."