Thursday, March 4, 2010

Set the grey hair free

This morning my daughter found a receipt for $197 from the salon where I got my hair cut, colored in two shades, blown dry, and two hours of therapy from the adorable Charlotte (who also got a forty dollar tip). I was embarressed. Two visits to the salon could buy me a major appliance, a mini vacation, four weeks of groceries or a reallly nice dinner out for the family. Instead I spent it on my head, both inside and out.

I want to set my grey hair free. I get the itch every year or so and then it turns into a drive and then I'm ready to do it and then someone says to me: it's necessary for your job. You want to go grey when you're working on your organic farm (how did she know about that secret dream) fine, but for now, dye your hair!

I should mention that the woman who said that to me sports a very odd color of red.

I find grey hair beautiful. It's silver, it's white, it's shimmery sometimes. Yesterday I saw a woman walking down Walnut Street and she was obviously growing her hair out: she had a pageboy that was white above her ears and the rest was brown. I wanted to say, you go girl!

If I admire that bravery so much in others why can't I be brave too?

Because then the gig will be up. No longer will people say, really, you're past 40? I thought you were in your early 30's. (Yes, I still believe this bullshit.) If I'm grey will it be that I have given up, gotten out of the race, surrendered to the thunder of the high heeled boots I can hear behind me?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Naming the New Dog


Everybody names their dog Toto.
No, no one does anymore because they think everyone does.

I know: MarciaMarciaMarcia! and we call her Marcia.
No, we call her MarciaMarciaMarcia. Imagine how fun it will be when you go to the vet's and they call out, MarciaMarciaMarcia.
I like it

We'll have to meet her first to decide.


That was my dog's name when I was a kid.

How about old girlfriend names!
Oh yeah, I'll sign up for THAT one.
Frankie...I love the name Frankie.

Family names:
I keep thinking of Carson Kressley, just doesn't match the dog.
I like Kit! Kit Karsten.
But it's my cousin's name!
Who cares, you never see your cousin.
She's on Facebook.
I'm calling her Kit! Here Kit!
Please don't call her Kit!

That's my mother's name.
But it's my favorite name.
And it's your cousin's name...two cousins' name!
They won't care.
I think they'd care. I care.

I think it's Pepper or Kit.

Meet Polly!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Put down: End of Story

Finished: High Season, Jon Loomis

Reading Now: Unhappy Returns, Elizabeth Lemarchand
My Summer in a Garden, Charles Dudley Warner
The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Reading Now

Netherland, Joseph O'Neil
End of Story, Peter Abraham

A Far Cry from Kensington, Muriel Spark
The Girls of Slender Means, Muriel Spark

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How will I know?

I have an old dog. A really old dog. She's 96 in dog years, you do the math.

We used to spell out w-a-l-k because she knew what the sound walk meant and if we weren't going to do it, why get her all dancey and tappy?

Now we can spell all we want, d-r-a-g, p-u-l-l, take her for a c-r-a-p and it doesn't matter because she's deaf. She's so sweetly deaf that we can walk by dogs across the street who are flipping out and barking at her and she just keeps her head down, staggering slowly and sniffing. When I come home most times she's curled in her bed and after checking to make sure she's still alive I just let her sleep on. Her sense of smell still works because as soon as I start cooking I hear the slow click click of her walk across the floor. And there she is: Winnie! Oh you're a good girl! Yes you are, you are!

She was four months old when my daughters and I picked her out at the SPCA. She had to stay there for another day to see if an owner showed up. My boss at the time, a dog lover, ordered me to leave work early to make sure that we got her, a story that always makes my mother laugh. "As if someone else would want that dog!"

That first day I took Winnie with me to pick up my daughters from daycare and I can remember so clearly turning around and seeing the two girls in the backseat of the car with Winnie between them, each holding a paw. I knew that I had completed one photo for my mental family album. Then a motorcycle drove past and she climbed on Alice's lap scratching her and the girls started screaming and Winnie was barking, climbing further over Alice who started to cry which started Elizabeth crying and that's pretty much a good illustration of the next 12 years: screaming, barking, crying, misbehaving.

I read Good Owners Great Dogs and took obedience classes with Winnie. It actually seemed possible to have a trained dog, we had a certificate after all, but then I got distracted in ten minutes with the kids and the house falling down and the job and Winnie ended up not being very well behaved, because, well she had an okay owner, maybe even a bad one.

At family gatherings Winnie was the loser cousin to my brother's well-behaved chocolate lab. Winnie would be barking, trying to chase motor boats and Bosco would lift his noble head and just stare at her as she drove herself nuts. Then she would trot up to Bosco like, don't worry, I took care of THAT one. Oh Winnie. At Thanksgiving the relatives would shake their heads when she jumped up on people, begged, barked, stole food or ran away and turn to Bosco and say, What a GOOD boy!

Another stupid idea that I felt I had to adhere to was that having a dog would teach the kids responsibility. Elizabeth's task was to walk Winnie to the stop sign and back. I would peek out the window before hopping in the shower (my only free three minutes) and see Elizabeth running down the street with Winnie biting her ankles. What it taught Elizabeth is to hate dogs.

I dated this woman who had two dogs, one blind and diabetic, the other a little circusy dog with a serious gas problem. Silly me, after a year of dating I brought Winnie over to meet the fam. I'll never forget seeing Martha trying to pull her dogs away from Winnie, yelling at me, "You said she wasn't an alpha dog! You said she was a beta dog!" I felt a little bad but hey, if she couldn't dominate these two, what kind of dog was she? Even Bosco might have nodded slightly in approval.

The crazy, jumpy dog has slowed way down. For the past few years she's been a model dog, quiet, sweet, sleeping most of the day. Her world has become narrower. First we blocked off the stairs because she just couldn't make it up there and she sleeps downstairs in her bed. It's hard to look at her and say good night buddy before I climb the stairs she used to climb with me. She falls down a lot. Her back legs just give out. Avert your eyes I say to myself, so I don't see her flounder. I also avert my eyes when she goes down the stairs to the back yard. Trying to help her only makes it worse because when I bend down she freaks and hurtles away from me. Just, don't, look.

She still gets excited about food and taking a walk and she does bark at the cat for about one minute every night.

The cat. Did I mention that we got the cat the same year as Winnie?

I used to think that when Winnie started pooping in the house that would be it. Guess what, it's not. Then I thought if she bit me. Not then either it appears. When she can't walk at all? Two nights ago when I was putting Neosporin on my finger I thought, please Winnie, don't make me decide. Help me out here sweetie because I'm going to find it very hard to let you go.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Something About Bob

I heard the water dripping somewhere, realized it was the faucet in the bathroom and went to turn it off. Bob had made the cabinet that holds the marble top. He has left his mark all over this house. He made the wooden frame that holds the house numbers. When I took apart the piano in a day long seige he came over later and put the putty in the gouge in the floor. He planted a Rose of Sharon in my back yard. He helped Jeff re-finish all the windows and install storms, redo the front porch, put wallboard over the worst peeling surfaces, and hang wallpaper. He refinished two desks, a bureau, a children's table, and my favorite, the dining room table. Those are just the surfaces of things.

He helped raise my daughters. Drove them everywhere, picked them up at friends houses, after school, took them to ballet, and doctors' appointments. When they were sick he made them grilled cheese and rented movies. He took care of Winnie when I went away. If I asked my mother for help she said yes but it was Bob who actually did the task.

And for all that, I did not give my love easily. He had to stand next to the ghost of Joe Iredale, the brilliant, charming raconteur who died young but still showed up regularly at family gatherings. We spent hours trying to figure out the father who was gone while the man who faithfully filled the role sat quietly with us at the table.

Okay, this guy wasn't a saint either. He always seemed just a beat behind what was going on. He could be a little inappropriate. When the moment was just right to say, I wish you were my daughter instead he would say I wish I were ten years younger. And he was angry, too. Like my dad all he wanted was my mother's undivided attention and when we showed up he would say, "what are you doing here?" It made me wonder what was below the surface but I was a little scared to plunge those depths.

He was born in New York City, graduated from Frankford High School in Philadephia, went to Franklin and Marshall but left and joined the Marines. He worked in public relations at one point for the Franklin Institute. He was married for years to a woman named Connie. They didn't have any children and she made his life a living hell. I always thought he won the lottery when he met my mother 30 years ago but now I realize that we were the ones who won something.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What's important

A heater that works

The daughter asleep upstairs

Another awake in Georgia

The garden frozen until spring

Ham hocks

Hot soup

Making my mother laugh

Talk before sleep