musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the tag “dance”

she’s 5

Happy birthday, Toots!

chloe 5Easter dress Roller derby girl because Honey wanted to protect his little girl now that she has a big girl bike.

roller derby easter 5

Five things about Toots in honor of her fifth birthday:

1. She is a delight both day and night. Except when she’s not, because she is normal, but even then, she is so darned cute, aw forget it. She is a delight both day and night.

2. She makes up songs about everything and nothing. Her breakfast, imaginary friends, how much she loves you, whoever you is at any given moment, and whatever she likes at any given moment.

3. Purple is her favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavoriteSUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUperfavorite color in the whole wide world.

4. Look at that perfect point in the Easter dress roller derby pic. She is as flexible as I used to be. I should start her in dance. Maybe she has matured enough not to run around and around the whole room by now and will listen to the teacher.

5. She’s smart, she’s observant, manipulative, adorable, charming, shall I go on?

I love her. She’s my girl. She’s Daddy’s girl, too.

Happy birthday, Toots, my littlest.

the epic failures


Captain Comic and friends when left to their own devices while their mothers were occupied elsewhere came up with this little gem. Not bad for 14, almost 13 and 10!


Yes, the mics are off.

Best little unintentional birthday present ever!

boston and berks

Life is crazy mayhem lately, including kitchen renno (post to come, I won’t say soon, based on how long it took me to get to this one) and trying to manage the garden plots, reconfiguring the flower and bush beds out front and finally planting some vegetables out back, which I am still in the middle of…okay, okay, I’ll get down to business and make it quick, too.

I love Boston. I love it like it’s my spiritual mother, my home, my long lost love, my raison d’etre, my weather report, my seasonal compass. I know its seasons and weather  by the ionic change in the atmosphere, I can tell you exactly when the pussy willows out Beacon, by the Charles Street Extension, just before you reach Kenmore will bloom by it, I can tell you when the tulip trees along Comm Ave will burst in an explosion of petals and when they’ll rain down and coat the sidewalks. I’m giving you spring examples, because this is the current season…but I can also tell you when it will snow, when the February winds will take hold and not let go, when the September leaves will burnish and flame into October by the shift of light and the scent change of metal in the air, the charge of life, the ionic existence of the city I love.

Along  I-90, The Mass Pike, as the Boston City Limits road sign rolled by Bertha’s window, I hooted, I hollered, and then I burst into tears.

My kids and spouse think I am crazy, but that is how much I love this city.

Most of these are taken in Copley Square, where we met friends and my niece for lunch, which was too much to squeeze in, really, and it was great to see all, though our visit was cut even shorter by events that transpired including the passing of a kidney stone by one of our party and a call to 911. It’s not for me to spread their business, or who it was that passed a kidney stone, but this just goes to show, even when the circumstances I set up are mayhemic already, random unrelated mayhem will happen in my vicinity. It’s guaranteed. Life’s an adventure, what can I say. I will ride those three bucking broncos, hanging on by a rope til the day I die. I am well practiced already, so I’ll just keep hanging on and see what happens next.

The purported reason for our ‘side trip’ to Boston on the way to my college reunion in the Berkshires, was to take Mr. Cynic to tour Berklee College of Music, the one place he wants to go. I took no pics, becasue we were too busy keeping the couple of Berzerkers, Toots and Captain Comic from getting into what ever they were going to get into with each other, which wasn’t fun for any of us, and highly distracting for Mr. C. Also it was Freshman registration day and the place was crawling like ants with people who didn’t know where they were going, either, and we had no tour guide, just the gaggle of us and a map with highlights, given to us in the Admissions office.

Needless to say, mayhem. Did I mention that the “campus” is integrated into the city? Luckily, a couple of decades ago, I hung out with a band in the practice rooms a lot, so I had a vague recollection of where buildings were…

A note about the couple of pics at the end of the Boston portion of the gallery, Toots is standing with a lion at the Hynes Convention Center, and he is a fendyee yion and those horse statues by Neiman Marcus are part of Honey’s photography portfolio from eons ago…he was commissioned by the artist to photograph them before their installation and create an exhibit poster with one. Sorry, don’t have a reference pic, if I did, I’d put it here. If I find one, I will edit it it in. 🙂


We headed out to the Reunion and I saw so many great people, and was so happy to see them, I didn’t take pics of them, but I did take pics of frogs that as soon as I told the kids not to poke, they poked. Mr. Cynic did not want to be on my old campus for anything. Toots made friends with everyone else’s kids in her age range, who danced or ran while adults ate. And Captain Comic mostly just wanted to go home and let everyone know about it, particularly on the last day we were there.

Again there were mishaps, misadventures and mayhem, because I was involved, but it was fun, steamy, beautiful and wonderous besides. A couple of weeks later, the exhaustion is wearing down, but I am still riding the highs, having somewhat gained control of those broncos that gallop my life through everything.

I love my people and places and these two places are influential in my life, because of their landscapes, the times I spent in them, becoming, and the people I love within them…

strawberry jam and letters

Last year, when a bunch of us went strawberry picking for Mother’s Day, we got together later in the week and made jam at my super friend’s house. She is super busy this year and the next thing I knew, my berries were starting to go, so I hunkered down, bought Ball jars, found a simple recipe online and went at it.

Below is a pot full of layers of berries, sugar and lemon juice. What we make is more of a saucy whole strawberry preserve thing than a jam, and when you spread it on toast or pour it on ice cream or waffles or pancakes, the berries smooosh or melt in your mouth, succulent, sweet and tart.

Toots was an excellent helper. She stirred. Grandma helped, too, my time window was shrinking quickly as I hulled a gazillion strawberries. So while Toots stirred, Grandma and I were elbow to elbow, with berries and sharp instruments. FYI, the burner was off while Toots stirred.

I love when the berries start to weep from the lemon juice and sugar and turn all glossy.

As the strawberries started to heat up, Grandma went out for the mail, and found a letter for Toots from her youngest cousin on my side, D. He was about 3 when she was born, and used to call her his baby. He has adored her ever since, and we don’t see enough of my family since they live in Connecticut and we live in Virginia, the southeasternmost part of Virginia. We’d probably visit a lot more if we lived closer to DC.

He even drew a map to show where we live and where they live. He really is a sweet kid, and how wonderful for Toots to get an old fashioned letter! Thanks, D! The sweetest part about it is the date on the letter is my brother’s birthday. I wonder if D was inspired after we called to sing to his dad?

Double, double toil and trouble; 
    Fire burn, and caldron bubble.  ~William Shakespeare

This smells like heaven.

Toots and I ran off to our mommy & me belly dance class and Grandma jarred up the jelly after the jars finished being sterilized.

Don’t they look luscious?

Pardon the cell photos, phone was handy and I didn’t plan to blog it, but  we had so much fun creating the jam together, I had to share.

When strawberry season hits your area, please go pick and jam it. So easy and worth the trouble to do it yourself rather than buy a jar in a store.

kansas two-step

Long ago and far away…Okay, okay, I’ll stop.

But really, I think it was about 1991 and a Boston Poetry open mike night, though I can’t recall which one, because before I had kids, there I was three or four nights a week. Really. It seems most likely it was at the old Bookcellar Cafe in Cambridge or Stone Stone Poetry at TT the Bears in Central Square, Cambridge  when I met him.

Anyway this odd looking character, not unpleasant looking, just odd walked in. A lot of odd people hang out at poetry readings. But H. B. Berlow looked like Mephistopheles with his pointy goatee and waxed mustache. Comically sinister, and he did that thing with his hands, that gesture that he was thinking something mischievous, fingertips dancing against each other, as he raised his eyebrows in quick success, too – straight out of Groucho Marx’s repertoire.

Of course, I didn’t think, “RUN! RUN NOW Run fast!” NO, no, no, I thought, “wouldn’t he be fun to know?” And he was.

For a  few years, he and another dear friend, Joe, and I met for coffee and writing critique at Joe’s place, a little room on the fourth floor on Comm Ave where we watched the sun and clouds and volatile seasons with peaceful sunsets cross the surface of the Hancock Tower and  passionately tore each other’s work apart and built it back up again.  I trusted those guys with my writing, and I hope and think they trusted me with theirs. Critique groups since have had a hard time meeting the bar of what we did all those afternoons in the early nineties. H. B. with his reams of green paper was particular, exacting and always enthusiastic.  We also animatedly discussed everything from baseball to Kierkegaard, rock and roll to Berlioz.

And then H. B. followed a woman to the land of Great Plains and strip malls, and a decade or more later I followed a man to Virginia, and at some point, Joe moved out of that little room all the way to Cambridge and is still among my dearest friends. I hate to stay it, but H. B and I lost touch for a long time, but Joe filled me in on his doings from time to time. About a year or so ago, H. B. and I got back in touch around a Nanowrimo, I think, with a little reconnecting thread from Joe’s needle.

In the time since, H. B. Berlow has published the above book, Kansas Two-Step. It has arrived at my door via a little contest he announced on his blog, The Tikiman Says. I got lucky in the random drawing. But at least I gave him a good laugh in the process. He asked for entrants to comment on his webpage re: what their favorite dance is. Here is my guestbook comment:

i do a rather cockeyed shuffle ball change in my kitchen often enough to embarrass my kids. that is my favorite dance, esp when the teen’s friends are here.

This is not a review. Admittedly, I haven’t read the book yet, it just arrived, but if the H. B. I knew and read with relish in my twenties is anything like the one I know now, and I can assure you he is – funny, irreverent, thoughtful, imaginative and full of pop culture and high art references – then you will love this book. And I can guarantee his writing has only improved through passion and diligence in the past twenty or so years. That is the H. B. Berlow I knew, who wrote fiction, poetry and plays, often at the same time.

Click on the book image to purchase Kansas Two-Step!


Captain Comic got me in the Ellen Dance Dare and they aired a clip! Don’t blink at about the third scene in.

Yes, I am folding laundry. It’s what I live for.

Hmm, The embed code didn’t give the visual in the blog, but you can see it by clicking.


Here’s the thing:

Toots was doing this for a long time before I whipped out the cellphone.

Oh to be under 4 and have invisible access to anything you want just by believing it is so.

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