Moby Jan

Moby1…whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul, I go golfing.

Good friends have a tendency to kick me in the butt every now and then and say stuff like “you’re not a writer, blogger, or twitter-puss; you’re a dumb-ass grandmother. Pack up some clean undies and your toothbrush and come with us.”

And I do. Even if it means golfing.

Now, I’m one of those people who believes the best thing about golf is driving a golf cart.  Everyone becomes a child again behind the wheel of a golf cart, everyone except my friend Liz who becomes a speed demon. Of course, Liz is a speed demon on foot as well, but at least on foot she’s only a danger to herself.

Golf courses are, of course, the second best thing about golf. A few years back, Hubby and I lied our way onto a golfing junket to the Yucatan.  It was a  foolish thing to do – we’d only had four lessons and didn’t even own clubs – but it was an all-you-can eat and drink trip to a place we’d never been so why not?

Yucatan2This particular course was carved out of a poisonous jungle near the ocean thus we rode from link to link through patches of dense foliage as spiny iguanas, toucans, and kinkajous (monkey-like creatures) watched. It was magical, however, foolishly I let Liz drive and almost ended up at the bottom of a cenote with the skeletons of all those sacrificed Mayan virgins.  She just laughed.

This last weekend we “golfed” on land claimed from a sequoia grove.  There was still snow in the shadows but the sun was out in full force, the air filled with the smell of burning pine needles (a common practice when the mountains are still wet enough to prevent forest fires).  Feeling manly (or masochistic, take your choice) we walked the course, our borrowed clubs teetering on things called “rollies” which you either push or pull.  I decided, after nine holes, I did not like rollies one bit especially since I only use one club (a seven, technically called an “iron” I believe) so why drag around the whole bag?  The next day I refused to use the dreaded rollie and walked the course with the seven in hand, clearly in defiance of club policy but Liz promised to protect me from the groundsmen.  She’s tiny but mighty.

Liz has a bazillion best buddies who rushed towards her every day as we arrived at the club, each with a story to tell.  The main topic was a golfer who’d died on the course, unfortunately without entering her score.  Apparently this is the worst thing you can do. Golf, they will tell you, is not a competitive sport.  The only thing that matters is your score and the only person it really matters to is you.  Whoever said “you can’t take it with you when you go” wasn’t a golfer.  There’s always your score!

Aside from golfers who don’t enter their scores, the other topic of conversation revolved around a break-in in which nothing was stolen but something was left behind. Rat poison.  Tucked neatly into a couple’s bed.

Here’s where it got interesting.  The wife’s theory was that a local with a grudge (perhaps resentful of the second-home owning “flat landers” who provided his minimum wage lifestyle) wanted to lure rats to the couple’s cabin where they would eat the poison and die, leaving behind an ungodly stench and three billion flies.

The husband offered no opinion.  He was quiet.  Too quiet for Liz’s hubby, who had his own theory about what actually happened.  Any guesses?

Moby2 No, no whales involved.  I just like this picture.

Fairy Tales

When I was a child I loved fairy tales, in particular The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  Twelve sisters escape through a hole in the floor of their chamber, down a long passageway and into a magical world, tricking their tyrannical father night after night in order to dance by the side of a beautiful lake with a bevy of handsome princes. My fascination with the tale is probably why it pops up in Flipka, of course, in a slightly different setting and with juvenile delinquents instead of princesses.

Blue Fairy Book

Blue Fairy Book

The traditional versions of some fairy tales are so horrifying you wonder why any parent would allow them in the house, let alone read them to children.  For example, in The Terrible Head (from the Blue Fairy Book) a king believes he will be killed by his grandson and locks both the boy and his mother (his daughter) in a crate which he then dumps into the ocean.  The crate floats to another kingdom, where guess what?

fairybook2The boy and his mother encounter another nutty king.  The second nutty king decides he wants to marry the mother but that he doesn’t want to be a step-daddy so he sends the boy on an ill-fated, doomed-to-fail quest for the TERRIBLE HEAD. The boy  is triumphant but only after stealing the one eye shared by three elderly women living in an ice cave. Heh?

In the time of Dr. Spock, experts in early childhood development began to worry about fairy tales. Were they too traumatizing for children?  This prompted a debate between the experts (naturally), more or less put to rest by Bruno Bettelheim in the Uses of Enchantment.  Bettelheim argued (in a nutshell) that fairy tales present existential dilemmas – the loss of a mother or death of a pet – in a way children can come to grips with.  To quote: “Each fairy tale is a magic mirror which reflects some aspect of our inner world and of the steps required for our evolution from immaturity to maturity.”  I don’t know if I agree (especially with regard to The Terrible Head).    What do you think?

I’ll take the garlic but hold the lamb

The most romantic thing this Valentine’s Day at my house is not this pink hydrangea given to me by my husband:

Hydrangea

But a leg of lamb stuffed with four heads of garlic.  Five whole pounds of lamb!  Bought cheerfully from the county’s most expensive butcher.  Not by me.

Hubby’s idea of valentine bliss:

lamb

Generally I neither cook nor eat lamb.  I don’t care if Hubby’s great grandfather was the number one sheep rancher in Utah.  The smell of a leg of lamb roasting in the oven all day long will never, ever leave the house.  I don’t care if you have a Fabreeze scentalator in every single room.  I don’t care if you douse yourself in perfume until you’re declared an environmental disaster area.  Eau de Lamb sticks to everything.

Three hundred and sixty four (plus or minus) days a year I avoid cooking lamb but it’s frigging Valentine’s Day and my hubby, with all his oddities, keeps me well-supplied with wine and chocolate all year long so what heck. I’ll smell like lamb for a few days.  It’s what you do for love.

Teahouses, Madams and Shoes

Teahouse

My Hideaway

Pile of shoes

The Writer’s Arsenal

On to a story of teahouses, madams and shoes.  This is my hide-a-way. It’s really a shed but we call it the Teahouse. Hubby built this shed because he got tired of being hit by a shoe every time he interrupted my writing time.

But something strange happens down at the Teahouse. My mind hovers over my body, refusing to focus on anything but the peacefulness of the setting. Thus not a word has been written down in the Teahouse.

IMG_2405

By the way, the lady in the above photo is none other than Miss Jane Austen (seen in  a better photo to the right).  Hubby bought her for me thinking she might inspire me to write more.  (Or throw fewer shoes – she’s so ladylike.)

IMG_2406

Here is Miss Jane Austen with her friend Vincent Van Gogh, whose detachable ear somehow got stuck on Manet’s nose. They’re a tasteless, vulgar menage-a-trois. Tut!

Perhaps Faulkner was right. The ideal place to write is not a sanctuary but a place with nights of chaos and quiet mornings, like a house of prostitution. Which brings me to madams.

doormat

All that’s left of the Mapes Hotel, sniff.

Prostitution is legal in many counties in Nevada, “legal” meaning that registered brothels are subject to all sorts of rules and regulations enforced haphazardly by eminently bribable officials. I babysat for a madam once. She owned a brothel outside of Vegas with one of those sinisterly cute names like BunnyTail Ranch. She was staying at the Mapes Hotel in Reno in order to visit her grandchildren, ages seven and nine, whose parents were not in the business. At the time, my mother just happened to be working at the Mapes where, when not procuring teenage babysitters for infamous madams, she did the bookkeeping. Now, my folks were respectable sort of folks, but, you have to keep in mind, in Nevada it’s not at all uncommon for people in the sex-trade or racketeer business to hobnob on the golf course with doctors, lawyers, and judges.  It’s an equal opportunity debauchery state.

I babysat the madam’s kids in a suite on the top floor of the Mapes, while the grandmother madam attended a Bill Crosby show.  She paid me twenty dollars an hour (a princely sum back then) and said we could order anything we wanted from room service!  She didn’t even care if the kids hopped on the beds. She had her “man” pick me up at my house and return me long after midnight. He was wearing a gun! Now, how cool was that for a fifteen year old…

The Mapes is gone now. They blew it up to build an ice skating rink. Oh the horror! Best chocolate malts and french fries in the world, all gone now.

I promise, next blog, no more whorehouses.

Breaking Some Legs

I am a woman of a certain age, which is to say, deathly afraid of a web cam from certain angles and in certain light.  I’m also quite shy.  I’ve managed to survive by bending the light away from myself which works until you’re asked to bend the light back in your direction and then you tend to retreat into the fog. Or at least, I do.IMG_2381

Shyness, I have read, is a behavior that can be altered by:

“challenging automatic thoughts and beliefs, and learning new behaviors.” (from the Shyness Institute)

Fine, except how do you challenge an automatic thought, heh?  Tell me that one, Shyness People?

Now Lisabeth Salamander, there was a gal who knew how to react in moments of social awkwardness:

“…she wished she had had the guts to go up to him and say hello. Or possibly break his legs, she wasn’t sure which.”

  (Stolen from Goodreads who stole from Stieg Larsson, The Girl who Played with Fire)

That’s why I love books.  Shy girls can break legs. That’s why I like to write books. My shy girls can break legs!

On the other hand, I’ve also read that shyness is the ultimate egotism, a theory strengthened by the fact that many famous entertainers have claimed shyness, including Brad Pitt.  Brad Pitt????  Apparently the practice of eternal naval gazing leads to a type of narcissism quaintly called shyness.

Ouch!  I better quit that naval gazing and get out and break some legs (metaphorically speaking, of course).