Wednesday, February 18, 2015

not a campus

we climbed the endless, sloping, shaded lawn. my stride matched hers- but only because i was trying. the pace she kept was just a click too fast to be natural to me and i had to concentrate in order to keep up. 'we have a negative selection process.', she instructed. i looked at her square aryan jaw and 1000 mile stare and thought, 'jesus christ, these people have so many rules...'. i watched the main building come into view. it looked like it had once been a beautiful old library on a college campus. scores of attractive and robust  young men and women walked with the same unnaturally fast gate, many tightly holding books or brown accordion files full of paper and deep in conversation. no one was smiling. i heard the warm indian summer breeze pass through the leaves of the gargantuan oaks above us before i felt it. i closed my eyes for a moment as it softly brushed my body and lifted the ends of my hair. in that moment i felt certain that i should be parked on a gingham cloth surrounded by picnic food and friends instead of rushing through all this lush, pre-autumn loveliness. 'what does that mean? i finally asked. without looking at me she answered, 'it means we decide everything by process of elimination'. i sucked in a deep breath and pursed my lips to let it it soundlessly. it was only the first hour of the first day and already everything about this place made me feel rebellious. i let my lids slip 1/2 way down over my eyes in a private gesture of contempt. i knew it would be weeks- maybe months, before i was able to leave.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

hummingbird egg

i was frying a hummingbird egg in a 1 inch perfectly seasoned cast iron pan. i checked my tiny oven when i smelled the 1/2 inch slices of bread begin to brown. i quickly turned over the hummingbird egg (almost broke the yolk) and then picked up a miniature silver butter knife and deftly scraped each toasted surface of bread with a veil of hand-churned, fresh butter. i lifted the egg from the pan with an impossibly tiny spatula and laid it over my toast. i looked out my balcony windows when i heard the marching band hit a series of sour notes. i wondered why i didn't feel enthusiastic about going to the game. i also wondered why my swiss boarding school colors were red and white instead of blue and white. i saw old naked john striding across the grassy commons and let out an involuntary sigh of annoyance. he was painted in cracked tempura painted from head to toe; bright red from his testicles down to his tattered saucony runners and bright white from his penis into his curly severely receded hairline. i could tell even from my vantage point that his eyeglasses were covered in paint. everyone knew old naked john was harmless, but truly, i was sick of him. it didn't matter to me that he always had a smile on his face, i was looking forward to never having to avert my eyes from his deflated ass and wrinkly man-parts again. i was ready to be finished with school and start my life.

Monday, January 19, 2015

the fair

we did so many things on the homestead; hand-carved olive wood serving pieces, various sizes of brass dairy cow bells and hand-tooled collars, shaker style nesting baskets and chairs and repairs on any manner of thing, but the reason we were there in the back country was the animal rescue- we needed the room. we had certification to take in everything from abandoned lynx kits to llamas and our old truck was always transporting the most urgent case along with us on daily errands into town. on this annual town fair day, our passenger was an old black and white one-eyed mama barn cat who had just undergone the amputation of a rear leg and was about to throw (her last...) litter of kittens. the old cat had apparently spent her life in a tipped over 1920's metal trash basket- and that was where she was the most comfortable. we'd cleaned it up, lined it with a soft, toasty plush and tucked her in on the wide floor boards of the truck with food and water within easy reach. in spite of everything she'd been through, she purred madly and i'd already decided she could live out the rest of her days with us after the kittens had all found homes.

while simon drove, i kept one hand on the 5 tier pie carrier sitting beside me. in it were the prettiest pies i could manage, made from apples, berries and stone fruit from our land. it didn't matter to me if i got a ribbon for any of them but i was dying to hear the 'oohs and ahhs' from our neighbors as they dug in.

as we pulled into town i felt a huge smile form on my lips. strung across the main street were the carefully kept old fashioned banners used from the very first fair and everyone looked in a festive mood. i felt so happy. simon slowed as he looked for the perfect spot under a tree that would throw shade on the truck for the entire day (the cat) and also be fairly close so we could easily check on her often.

simon carried the pies and we held hands as we walked toward the main street greeting all our seldom seen friends and neighbors. as we walked, i spotted a vintage trash can just like the one our mama cat was in, but this one was in better condition. i made a deal to buy it and right then used the sellers supplies to paint golden fleurs-de-lis inside and out with her name (tallow) written in fancy script on top. i told him i would pick it up as we left the fair to give it time to dry.

as we came to the center of town, people began to congratulate us on being one of 3 finalists for an additional hundred acres of land. it was such a surprise. the other two finalists were there and i knew i would be happy no matter who won.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


she was a good girl with a quick and genuine smile. she helped her grandmother every day in the house and then moved to her outside chores before anyone had to remind her. she was a star pupil in school, but her greatest passion was her horse. it was incidental to her that she was recognized as the top equestrian in her age group (10-12 years) in the country. it only meant that no one ever questioned why she spent every waking minute with her equine friend. she had watched him be born and the moment he came out, she knew his name was 'endo'. his dame had been a gentle, deep red belgian draft and his sire a jet black, fiery andalusian. endo's coat was a deep, liquid red like his dam, his bottle brush mane, tail and feet feathers were black as pitch like his sire. it was clear to see in his first moments that he was intelligent and sweet-spirited. from the beginning, the girl and colt were inseparable and spent every day playing together like puppies. often the girls grandfather let her spend the night in the barn after he searched the farm and found her curled up with the colt fast asleep in a deep pile of straw. her grandfather would pull one of the old wool blankets out of the tack room and cover them both.

the girl was careful to wait until the little horse's bones were strong enough to support her before she officially mounted him- but from his first day standing she had put a wool 'baby saddle' on his back and gently tugged the soft cinch strap around his ribs and told him when he was big enough they would ride. as they both grew, their play became more athletic and she would clasp her fingers behind his ears, lift her feet from the ground and endo would run as fast and far as he could around the pasture wearing her like a necklace while she squealed with delight.

endo had inherited his temperament, strength and giant stature from his dam and his agile, graceful movement from his sire. when the girl and the horse entered the ring, there was always an audible gasp because of his size, astonishing beauty and effortless agility. as the girl and horse completed their perfect course, no one knew that the bit rings on the horse's show halter were purely ornamental. endo performed dressage to please the girl and because he actually enjoyed it. he had never worn a bit or felt the bite of a spur.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


i don't know why i accepted oprah's invitation to stay at her place in new york. first, i hate new york and  second, oprah was EXHAUSTING. she never really listened, she only ever waited for an opening in any conversation to hijack it with the booming sound of her own voice. to be around her for more than 5 minutes was pure torture; she was so self-centered that usually by minute 6 i found myself biting my tongue until it bled and desperately searching for an exit. it was always 'The Oprah Show' to oprah.

the cab let me off at the bottom of a vine and moss covered winding stone stair. i looked up and then back at the taxi. it was italy i was sure. the impatient driver grabbed the bills from my hand and barked, 'up da stairs!', before he sped off shaking his head in disgust. i let out the handle on my well traveled, tough little osprey and started to bang it up the steps after me. i marveled at the sun illuminating the tiny leaves that clung to the ancient stone wall. after several turns and at least 100 risers i stood before an exceptionally wide deep claret door. i lifted the massive knocker, but before it could fall onto the corresponding plate the door exploded open and revealed a grinning oprah. my hand was still frozen in the air as she took the handle of my bag and gathered me in. my head reeled as i was led deeper and deeper into the house. i tried to keep track of my path so i could bolt, but soon i was hopelessly turned around and watched as my osprey was handed off to be put in my room. i was stuck.

oprah seemed unusually happy i had to admit. as i followed her throughout the surprisingly beautiful and charming house, she introduced me to a wild assortment of people (and an astounding number of children) staying with her- most did not speak english, but all smiled genuinely. as we walked, oprah explained that the house was being restored to its 16th century splendor and she was lucky enough to have expert craftsmen from all over the world working on it. shockingly, oprah knew every one by name and very sweetly introduced me to each while carefully and respectfully explaining their particular area of expertise. this was a different oprah! i felt myself relax and the smile on my face was genuine. when oprah said, 'now let's take a ride in my 20 million dollar restored  bugatti!', my heart sank. back to oprah, i thought.

we walked out onto the stone driveway and the car looked like a creamy jewel. oprah said, 'no, look at the seats!' and we both started laughing as i realized we would be essentially fully reclined while riding in the car. 'don't worry, ' she said, 'i swear i can drive it without killing us!'. we each spider-crawled into the car laughing so hard we couldn't speak. when she turned the key, the engine roared like thunder. 'I swear we will not die today!' she promised.

we laughed for the rest of the day.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


now we used colored blocks of hardwood for currency. the pieces varied in shape depending on assigned value and were generally smooth and waxy from changing so many hands. it was awkward to carry the rough cotton sacks which often grew too heavy to seem worth the effort at all. as i waited for my item, some children played nearby and commented on the sound of the blocks in my bag knocking together. when i told them about the technology of 'the old days' and how we didn't carry blocks at all but made our transactions 'through the air', they laughed and said it was a good story but impossible. they were right, it was impossible now.

i fell silent and watched them chase after each other in bare feet. their clothing was crudely made (as was all clothing) and every so often one would have to stop to retie the laces that held up their pants or kept their shirts closed. i absently lifted one of the folds of my skirt and tried to superimpose my memory of fine woven cloth over the rough interlaced fibers. i imagined a silky, intricate green brocade.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

grape jelly

kady said she thought she was pregnant, so we made a doll out of cellophane that had similar proportions to her, filled its limbs with grape jelly and tried various potions on it to reverse the zygote back to a harmless single cell.