Archive | July, 2007

Not A Tomato.

17 Jul

When I was very small I thought that the violent storms I heard about were “tomatoes”. I had visions of small towns on large prairies being pummeled by tomatoes.

Until I was in one. A small one, but a tornado none-the-less.

We were fine. It was a very close call as we were trapped in my mom’s rockin’ coppery Camaro in the Late 70’s in the burbs known as Westchester…

But I’ve been fascinated by tornadoes since. Pretty much I’m fascinated by “sudden” weather. Big stuff like hurricanes elicit a transition of modes – I go into autopilot. With sudden, severe weather there is no time to transition into a mode of vigilance and preparation spread out over days (which is how it is here in SW Florida during “the season”)

I am vigilant about keeping my eye on the sky and my ears open though as we do have almost daily storms where the sky looks like something out of Ghostbusters II. It’s also that much more dramatic as we have a complete lack of hills here and you can see for miles. (side note: I really want to move back to a place that’s on the curvier side, I feel too exposed here… but we are stuck for who knows how long as my mom being a little more off than usual these days and the baldguy is just settling into his new job.)

Late yesterday afternoon (5:30ish) I unplugged my computer so it wouldn’t fry. I went into the kitchen and poured a giant vat of tea so I could get to work while Lexo was napping. I looked up from my mug and saw smoke and dirt barreling towards our complex from the woodlands. My eyes followed the dark dust up to where it connected with the ceiling of the mother of all storm clouds. I grabbed Lexo from his room, put him under my arm and ran. I had my keys in the other hand, slammed the door behind us, but didn’t lock it. My brain was saying “run. it’s far enough away that you can get to the garage.” My legs, my brain, just knew that running outside for a moment when it was still relatively safe would be better than being on the 3rd floor, right under the roof, when it sliced through our home.

I flew down 3 stories. Lex looked puzzled. I normally don’t pick him up for any length of time as my bones are older than the 31 years they are supposed to be. I fumbled with the keys and opened the deadbolt to go into the garage and I stopped. I listened. There was a strangeness about the air, the light, the sounds. It was windy in the courtyard and I could feel a breeze but nothing right on top of us.

I ran further with Alex to the parking lot thinking I’d lost my last marble. Our neighbor John was loading his truck and I said to him “tornado or fire or what?” and he looked at me like I had 10 heads. He looked at the back part of the complex, toward the woods, but didn’t say anything. I heard a car behind us. It was the baldguy. He opened his window- I pointed “what the hell is that?” and then I saw it move. I saw the charcoal billows rolling to us. I hopped in the car, Alex on my lap.


“Don’t you want to put him in his car seat?”


We pulled over 1/2 a mile away and buckled Alex in. I watched the funnel. I could see where it hit the cloud and where it was dicing the ground. It looked like a cuisinart eating the air and the ground.

We drove toward my mom’s house.

Everyone in the other cars looked calm and unaware.

I searched the radio. FM. AM. Nothing.

I turned to look at the sky and there was a definite disconnect between the sky and the smoke on the ground. Slowly we circled around the area and watched as the dark grey smoke became a ball on the ground with smoke drifting off. It was a complete shapeshift. A complete mood switch.

Alex voiced fairly deep concern for the location of his shoes and pants. I grabbed him and that’s all.

We came back home. Still nothing on the radio or TV.

I cried for a bit and snuggled with Alex.

After we got him clothed and settled with some milk and a prized matchbox car I called my mother.

She said “it isn’t even thundering out” (I think she’s losing her mind and her hearing these days…It happened to my Opa – her stepfather- in reverse. He went from cantankerous to sweet, Mom is going from friendly to vicious, nasty.)

I explained it all to her and she made me describe it. She insists that there wasn’t a weather advisory so nothing could happen. There was an advisory. I saw it on Weather Underground moments before shutting the system down. Something big happened less than 1/4 mile from our home.

The violent appendage turned into a ball of smoke and fire and into what we are used to seeing from brush fires and the occasional, distant, house fire I have seen in my life.

I finally sank back into the pillows to relax to Scrubs reruns rather than do any work. Way too drained for hammering. Still to shaky to trust myself with my torch.
Alex joined me under the covers and completely lost his shit. Not because of the incident earlier- or any of the feelings of fearing for your life and the accompanying adrenaline rush.

He wanted pants and shoes. Today he is still asking for “Pants! Shoes!” even though we are staying right here for the time being and I’m dreaming of the northeast more than ever.

note: There is nothing on the newswire today. Not a mention in the local paper. The baldguy and my neighbor saw it as well so I know I’m not completely batshit. Today I’m still not even thinking “oh maybe I overreacted”. I did what my gut told me to do when my kid was being threatened. That’s all.

Big hugs all around,

This bird has flown.

16 Jul

Books are Moovelous.

16 Jul

That’s right. MOO-velous.

Holy carp.
Have you seen this kids show on TLC?
I don’t quite know why but this show just annoys the daylights out of me (and it’s getting very dark in here these days).

Wilbur is a calf (a baby cow.)
The intention of the show is to foster a love of reading/literacy.
The tag line is “Books are MOO-velous”.

Yes. I said, “MOO-velous”.

Combined with a calf who has a serious lower body wiggling/gyrating spasticity issue whenever he gets the urge to read a book. I’m not kidding.

Thank goodness Alex still parrots me a little. I now have him correcting Wilbur and saying “books are marvelous”. (and he also says “freakin’ awesome” and “freakin’ guys” when either something is freakin’ awesome or someone bumps their head…)

Close call there.

Anyways. For those of you that are a bit older than the Barney craze (I’m 31 and except for the occasional babysitting exposure, I wasn’t really exposed to Barney first hand) I’m sure you do know that Barney drives plenty of people bananas…He’s not my favorite and I have learned to zone out the sound of his voice (in the same way I learned to zone out the FAO Schwarz “Welcome to My World” continuous loop theme music when I worked there during college… side note: I worked in boys action/figures, legos, and the “nerf-al region” as we affectionately called it. Damn it was fun being the only girl.)

Well, I’m trying to summon all of my meditative powers to block out the sound of Wilbur.

Oh and the show uses this technique called “Shadowmation”.
About “Shadowmation” (Thanks PBS!)
“Shadowmation” is a unique, patented animated process that utilizes real time virtual sets and bun raku style team puppetry, integrating live action animatronic characters and computer generated animation in real time, high definition virtual environments. This process combines all the advantages of animatronics, the expressiveness of live performance, and the freedom and range of computer animation. It has a distinctive and compelling immersive visual quality.

Well, Wilbur doesn’t looks that compelling to me. PBS has a show using the technology called “It’s a big, big world” (which Alex and I both like- one of the main characters is a sloth which I swear is my spirit animal once again :-) and the look is great. Wilbur looks jerky and layered. Big, big world looks fairly natural. Like when you were a kiddo and you got sucked into The Muppet Show. You didn’t think or care about any technology- you just suspended all disbelief and got sucked on in.

and listen to this:
(from the site….yeah. I think I may have a problem. but it’s on right now and I’m only 1/2 way through my first cup of joe so I can’t do work yet….)
Wilbur has no inhibitions at all. If he feels like wiggling he wiggles with glee. And if he feels like giggling, his giggles are infectious. He’ll do anything if it looks like fun and he always invites his friends to join in.

Along with all the things Wilbur already brings to the show, there is an element of magic about him. He can make things happen in a way that nobody else can. He can make something appear just by reaching out of view for it. AND he often seems to know what the kids at home are thinking, which in itself is a magical quality. He brings them into his special confidence and responds to what they say.

and he’s got these big black eyes- they are all pupil. It’s all too mad cow and a little too trippy and not in one of those “making me reminisce about my younger years” ways….

The good news? Noggin/Nick is bringing us “Yo Gabba Gabba”
Here’s the myspace page:
“There’s a party in my tummy” was stuck in my head most of last week. Alex and I totally cut a rug every time they air the clips on Noggin. AND it got him to try some new foods last week.

It will all be ok. Maybe this is the universe’s way of achieving balance.

Maybe not.

Hugs. Kisses.
Read a book. Books are MARVELOUS.

In the mind of a child…

14 Jul

I love seeing the world Lexo’s perspective- he lets me into his world and makes me smile…

This week he revealed to me that:

1. All dogs in books sleep on roofs because they saw Great Pumpkin on TV and snoopy does it so they do it.

2. Crackers crunch when you eat them because they are FIRE crackers.  (I asked for clarification and found that he indeed thinks that on the 4th of July the lights he sees are from exploding crispy bread products.)

3. Puppets are freaking terrifying. (went to a magic/puppet show at the library…why does our library have such horrible b.o. seriously stanky library.  Anyways at one point the guy had a cuckoo clock and the door opens and out pops a very animated bird puppet. Scared the daylights out of my kid. The rest of the show he couldn’t pay attention and just sat on my lap chanting “it’s just a clock. it’s just a clock.”

4. The showerhead in our bathroom looks like a flower. Hence, it is a “Shower Flower”.

5. The quickest way to wake me up in the morning (when I do sleep I sleep deep. A recent sleep study showed that I enter REM really fast and I get to deep levels that aren’t (according to the tech and the doc) experienced by most folks once they enter puberty. So why am I so freaking tired all the time)…Anyways… Oh the quickest way to wake me up in the morning is not yelling “1-2-3- WAKE UP MAMA!” it is, in fact, almost instantaneous if you touch my eyelashes very gently and then blow a very wet raspberry in my face as soon as my eyes open while bouncing up and down on my chest. Who knew!

6.  The term “cell phone” is incorrect in Alex logic-land because a regular phone is a “Tel-OH-phone” so a cellular phone is a “Cell-OH-Phone” and man does he get pissed if I try to correct him.


14 Jul

We just returned from MangoMania and I’m all mangoed out.

MangoMania is an annual festival thrown by the Pine Island Chamber of Commerce here in Cape Coral (why is it not in Pine Island? I don’t know. Maybe the mangoes are snooty and are all about celebrations just not outdoor ones with carnival foods and bounce houses.

“Yes, by all means, promote commerce and local farming just not in our back yard.”

I said to my sister this morning, “I don’t even think we have mangoes here” but I googled and I was wrong. So very, very, very, very wrong.

Pine Island alone has over a dozen types of mango. And lychee. LYCHEE! Who knew…

When we head to the local grocery store or even to the farmers market I rarely see anything grown closer than 50 miles and most of the grocery store produce is from Costa Rica.

I thought about this while walking around the MangoMania grounds (at the German-American social club). There were many craft vendors and a pretty fair amount of mango peddlers and purveyors of mango products. But it definitely seemed as though most of the mango folks were from out of town. I was kind of surprised. Prior to realizing this I bought a loaf of mango bread for breakfast tomorrow and I was talking to the guy working the booth. These folks, and their evil mangoey goodness were from the Miami area. All the way on the other coast. I feel cheap. I feel used. I feel like they should crown me Mango hussy of the year. I was so excited and blind when I was reading about MangoMania this morning and supporting local farmers and businesses. Now I feel like I need a shower.

As artists many of us try to “buy handmade” and buy locally when possible. In this world of mass production and sweatshops we are trying to make a difference and we are trying to keep our money where it is needed-to support folks like us. Now I’m thinking so locally that I feel bad about buying the mango bread from the guy from Miami and not from the local farmer. I want to apologize to that local farmer and his family.

I don’t always buy local but I am making a choice with every purchase I make these days- I’m trying my hardest to buy from real people. I am trying to buy from the source. Some times it’s not financially feasible. But then I am reminded of a fabulous business report written by my old boss way back when I was working in commercial production (tv commercials) – he put in his manifesto that we all need to think about NEED and WANT.

So that’s what I’m doing… I’m thinking a whole lot about need and want to help me stay local and stay smart. My thought process goes something like this:

1. Need or Want

2. Financial factors

3. Local or long distance

The way I look at it- if it’s something we need, that we have to afford, then I’m probably going to spend the couple of extra dollars (if necessary) to buy local. Why? Service. I’m a firm believer, after years in customer service and sales and trying to trim budgets, in that a purchasing experience is more than shoving money over a counter and claiming an item- it’s the service that comes with that item. I am big on online shopping these days as we are a one car family and I’m home with the little guy 24/7 for the most part. So I don’t always buy local- but I am making a huge effort to buy from the source. Service and quality are that much better.

Anyways- enough of my rant… I’ve got to go put away our MangoMania accoutrements.

And I have work to do (I’m working on 2 new pieces…I’ll share really soon! I promise!).

By the way- for those of you that know me and know how much I miss the Northeast these days (except I do love these little corny small town festivals) I am happy to report that the nice couple from Boston were back today (I met them at Oktoberfest) selling their ices and the guy shared with me some new secrets: there is a pizza place I had not uncovered on my own and the owners are from New Jersey and there is also an Italian market…So I shared my top secret good bagels location (those folks are from NY)… He said the pizza is not perfect but it’s the closest you can get to NY this far south…We’ll have to try it…They are going to do a Taste of the Northeast thing in the autumn with all local establishments that have their personal roots up north. I can’t wait. I’m going to turn into a pizza. Probably with pastrami and mustard on it.

Hugs all around,


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