Wednesday, September 22, 2021

My Perfect Ten for Sirius XM

Sirius XM is playing selected listeners' Perfect 10 lists on October 10 (10/10). 

I think the lists they choose will be spun on Classic Rewind. 

This might not be your cup of tea but it's mine so these are the songs/artists that I selected and submitted today for my Perfect 10.

 1. Soul Kitchen – The Doors
2. I Feel Free - Cream
3. You Keep Me Hangin’ On – Vanilla Fudge
4. Traveling Riverside Blues – Led Zeppelin
5. Let Me Roll It – Paul McCartney
6. Loving Cup – The Rolling Stones
7. Satisfaction Guaranteed – The Firm
8. Bell Bottom Blues – Derek and the Dominoes
9. To Love Somebody – The Bee Gees
10. Mandolin Wind – Rod Stewart



 

Every career assessment I ever took said I should have been a Medical Doctor and a DJ. 
Maybe I can realize that one of those dreams with this list. 

#siriusxm
#mushroomtumbler


Thursday, September 9, 2021

Not Drowning, Just Waving

 


I saw his companion first, left hand hidden behind her waist and right hand jostling a gigantic Styrofoam cup of gas station soda. She was shaking it repeatedly, like when your ice is melting and you want to blend the tasteless tap water with the underlayer of sweet syrupy Coke. 

But moments later I glanced again and saw that her hand continued to fling and flutter, long after the soda would have mixed with the ice dregs. 

Her other hand came out from the pocket of her black and gold hippie-style sundress, and it was jiggling and joggling, too. Bending to set the drink on the sand, they played invisible air tambourines and her long gray braid flopped down, obscuring what I saw later as unmoving and rather emotionless facial features. 

Her partner came into focus next. I don't know if they were married, or friends, or if she was some sort of helper, though based on what followed my best guess would be all three.

Shuffling behind a walker onto the beach, he stood shoeless and grimacing. It could have easily been the searing heat of the noontime Carolina sand beneath his crinkled toes but, more likely, it was his physical condition which led to his frowny scowl. 

I somehow intuited a sense of the general unfairness of life informing his pain. 

Walking was a herculean task and I found it both difficult and intriguing to watch. Other  beachgoers spied him and then begin busying themselves with their cell phones or grandchildren or Fritos, depending on what was nearby, in an effort to appear distracted by their own miserable lives.

I did the same for a minute, unfolding and folding the towel in my lap.  

I figured I should make Hubs aware, but he'd already shifted his weight to the balls of his feet in his beach chair, at the ready, primed to stand and assist as soon as the scowler's legs went out from under him. 

Steadying himself nicely next to a tall wooden pier pile, he left his walker in the soft, deep dirt near the dunes and exhaled measurably. His companion helped him remove his shirt and motioned silently, devoted and measured in her actions; lips firmly set in a steely, pale line.

He began to move toward the water. Stopping and flashing a wobbly thumbs up to us and to whomever else made eye contact, he traded the scowl for a look of determination and like a sea turtle making its maiden crawl, trekked toward the shore. Platinum-haired and ponytailed like his lady, the map of lines upon his face showed years of outdoor exposure without benefit of sunscreen or shade. 

His slow descent left all of us mesmerized. Alarming unsteadiness gave us cause for common glances and matching group-think. Those of us seated at the edges of his chancy corridor banded together wordlessly, believing we'd be up and helping within seconds. 

A long amble to the shoreline, he grasped at his body, all the while the inconsistency of his gate showed his hips were bone on bone. Hampered by the hot sandy surface, he hadn't gotten to the flat part where the coolness marks relief and the waves roll over your toes. 

But as he got closer, he started moving more quickly toward the water. She, with the salt shaker hands, traveled both next to and in front of him, silently using her body as a nudge for people to make room for the man. 

Groups parted. He got there. We breathed the air we'd been unaware we were holding. 

Onlookers next to the water popped the tops off their beverages and raised them congratulatorily in his direction. The determined look became a grin. But then, due to his frighteningly bad balance, or lack of good judgement, he fell...smack into the sea. SPLOOSH!

A rough wave day, he was pulled asunder and emerged five feet off shore, flapping and sputtering. It was a mad display of alternate dunking and emerging. He snapped his neck like a marlin on the line to flip his hair around so that he might see for a moment through rolling wild eyes before being pulled down again. 

He was the helpless marionette of Poseidon, a most sadistic puppeteer. 

Hubs and I looked to his companion, seated on the shore's edge, for clues. How do we respond? Was he waving or was he drowning? Resting stone faced, her eyes stayed with him while bobbed like a cork. Fishermen continued to cast giant baited hooks atop the pier, unaware of him directly below, their lines weighted with coal black sinkers shaped like arrowheads.

My fingers drummed the arms of my chair. I continued to look around at the people near me, most of whom seemed amused by the man's antics. Was he gleeful or was it panic? I couldn't tell. Was he smiling? Was he crying? 

Wait...was he smiling and crying?

A huge wave spat him onto the beach and he stumble-crawled, laughing, to his mate who helped put neon colored water shoes on his puckered feet. Together, they made their way back to the walker; easily a ten minute exercise. Two women offered their assistance but were shrugged off as he made slicing motions with his stick-thin arms, thanking them in a soprano voice, flogged by sand and water, not unlike a quick huff of helium.

I told Hubs that this would make a good blog post but I was quite delayed, trying to figure out how to sum up the story. Then after spending a week with people who are struggling in their own personal and physical ways, the image of the strength and then the surrender of this man kept coming back to me. 

Do I sit idle in my pain or do I go out on the crowded beach, despite the hurt and the hurdles and give the perfection-weary world of Facebook and filters something to be inspired by?

Cheers to those of you who choose to amble uncomfortably down the sand. 

Cheers to those of you who hurl yourself into the ocean. 

#mushroomtumbler

Friday, August 13, 2021

The Referee's Closet

My mom really wanted a downstairs bathroom.

When we bought our house in 1977, there was an unfinished half bath. Plumbed, but without fixtures of any sort, it held the promise of an additional washroom in our single lavatory home. It also held the promise of a monumental task for my father, not the handiest guy in the room, but Mom went ahead and bought wallpaper and cut and sponged it to perfection, fully anticipating a bifold door, new flooring, a toilet, a sink and items from the JCPenney catalog she had picked out and circled to hang on the walls. 

But the bathroom never happened.

You see, my dad was a hockey referee and our unfinished half bathroom, over time, became an equipment closet. 

Now, if you like hockey and you don't mind the pong of last season's Cooperalls wafting out at you as you are carrying your Orville Redenbacher popcorn and Stewart's ginger ale into the den to watch Fantasy Island on a Friday night, it's all good; but if you are my mom, a stinky door-less repository for hockey gadgetry, freshly wallpapered in gold and black Gibson Girls, was not exactly a palatable compromise. 

Our equipment room held pucks, sticks, skates (a.k.a "Tacks"), duffel bags, team jerseys, black polyester ref pants, black and white ref sweaters, extra skate laces, whistles, tape, pads, long johns, and after a few mishaps, a CCM helmet for Dad following one too many concussive discussions of "How did I get home?" repeated throughout the course of an evening.

My girl friends could have cared less about the closet and sauntered by it with their arms full of sleeping bags and Barbie styling heads, giggly and eager for nights of doll hair curling and baby pink lipstick application. With my guy friends, though, it gave me instant street cred to be able to show them what was in there.  

Easy to find due to its odiferousness, the neighborhood boys would tromp in and go straight to the bathroom/not bathroom. They'd touch the skate blades to see how sharp they were, they'd turn the pucks over to see if any were emblazoned with team logos, they'd squeeze the thin plastic water bottles, some still wet, with long, spitty, reedy straws. I hung back, but watched them, careful to be sure they didn't disturb anything that was off limits, but really nothing in that closet was. 

Mom didn't spend a ton of time in the den, despite the fact that she was able to decorate that particular room as she saw fit, with Cape Cod photos and carved wooden souvenirs of peg legged pirates and yellow slickered fishermen, probably because she had to walk by that damn un-bathroom every time she wanted to go watch TV.

One time during a forbidden high school party, a boy who'd never been to my house thought in his blind and drunken state that it actually was a bathroom. We caught him just in time to spin him around, in a retro move borrowed from pin the tail on the donkey, and push him out the back door and down the steps into the yard to york his guts out.

Penalty box for that dude...two minutes for tripping.

Later, when I went back and visited my childhood home as an adult, I saw that the good folks who bought the house from us finally finished that bathroom. It was powdery, and pastel hued and functional and I'm a hundred percent sure it adds immensely to the value of the place. 

But, it was the single room in the house I found unrecognizable. 

Good ol' change, though; yes, I suppose it can be good. Especially in this instance for those who don't fully appreciate the versatility (or fine scent of) of a hockey closet. 

Nowadays, and many moons later, when my husband works hard or exercises like a beast and sweats to the point of total funkiness, I don't mind at all, (though he prefers to shower it away as soon as possible). I try to explain that it's no bother. It's not a problem. 

 "You see dear", I explain, "to me, you smell like home".  



 

 #mushroomtumbler

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Wrong

Are you wrong?

Wrong, not for taking everything so personally lately, but for beating yourself up because you feel what you feel?

Wrong, not for crying at the drop of a hat, but for hiding yourself behind the bathroom door while tears run down your cheeks?

Wrong, not for looking at everything you haven't done, but for feeling so much pressure to do all of it?

Wrong, not for standing up for yourself, but for thinking that maybe you shouldn't have?

Wrong, not for wanting to take a day off and go swimming in this heat, but for deciding you don't have time for that enjoyable activity in your life? 

I've decided I am indeed wrong. 

I AM Wrong, not for driving past my favorite house of all time like a stalker, but for never sending the homeowner a note asking her to give me the right of first refusal should she ever decide to sell it.

I AM Wrong, not for ordering the ice cream, but because I didn't savor it; too busy counting calories while I numbly ate it. 

I AM Wrong, not for feeling so lost and lonely after a recent death, but for attempting to put my grief on a timeline. 

I AM Wrong, not because my writing, my self care, my time spent exercising, and my time devoted to learning has been almost zero on the priority list lately, but because I have not faced my reflection in the mirror and kindly asked myself why.

W.R.O.N.G. - Ok, now flip that shit. 

Here is how I'm making WRONG acceptable, for me at least:  

Willing to 

Really listen to my voice

Openly and honestly and without ego. 

Nothing, including my old patterns, can make me feel a particular way unless I agree to it.

Growing pains at 50 are something to run to, not run from. 




#mushroomtumbler


Thursday, July 8, 2021

Eulogy for Moo Moo

 



Most people I knew growing up had a Grandma. A Nana. A MeMaw or even an Oma, but I was the only girl in the crowd with a Moo Moo.
Grandmas bake for their grandkids. My Moo Moo baked 50 pies at Thanksgiving.
Nanas buy their grandkids presents. My Moo Moo bought me a Barbie Van and a navy pea coat so that I could honor my Grandpa while I stayed warm.
MeMaws have their grandkids on the weekend. My Moo Moo took me to camp for weeks at a time letting me run all over hell and creation; barefoot and dirty with a pocketful of quarters for the game room; no curfews because she knew I would learn more by setting my own.
Omas move to Florida. My Moo Moo lived within an hour and a half from me my whole life and when I was in college she was a only a 10 minute ride across the bridge where I’d come to do laundry, eat Sunday dinner, watch Murder She Wrote, and visit with all the people who routinely dropped in, everyone welcome, the door was never locked.
One of the most important and influential people in my life, I think of Moo’s legacy with me in two distinct parts. From birth to age 7, I had her to myself. Christian Armond Palombo wasn’t born until 1977 so I received all the attention and spoils that a first and only grandchild gets. I got all the Christmas mornings. I got the Judy Blume books. I even got her engagement ring, which I swiftly passed along to Lucas so that he could marry Chloe with a proper sparkle on her finger.
Once the rest of her grandkids came, I had to learn to share and things changed for me, but I always knew how much she loved me, right up to the end, because she stayed in touch like no other person in my life with the exception of my husband.
Moo Moo checked in on me constantly as a teenager despite the fact that she was caring full time for my Grandpa.
She came to every important function of mine. Every dance recital. Every birthday party. Every graduation. Every celebration. She made me feel noticed and important. That was one of her greatest gifts to us, she noticed people.
She eventually took on the challenge of AIDS/HIV education and advocacy. Now this was in the early 90s when those who’d contracted the virus were still stigmatized, shunned, and misunderstood. But Moo Moo volunteered in all kinds of places letting people know (a.) that she noticed and (b.) that she cared.
She was a surrogate parent to people who needed one. She brought Eugene, her special friend with the virus, to many of his daily medical appointments even though she was in her 70s and might rather have spent that time crocheting Moo blankets. She was proud to have helped so many with her volunteerism. She routinely asked all of us what we were doing to give back.
For those of you who don’t know, Moo Moo has been sick for a while. She had a blood disorder and suffered the effects of it for seven and a half years. It has not been easy for her nor for those closest to her. But every time I asked her how she was she said “Not too awful bad.” She wanted to live.
To honor Moo we can visit her grave, we can pray for her, we can tell stories among ourselves about her shenanigans and idiosyncrasies, but above all, we can try to live a life reflecting her values:
Here are a few ways:
Be generous when you can.
Notice people.
Root for the underdogs, the dark horses, and those at the back of the pack.
Offer the joyless and afflicted some hope.
Treat the dying with respect.
Dance with a butt wiggle.
Cheer loudly from the sidelines.
Keep the traditions.
Wave the flag.
Lift high the cross.
Say your prayers.
Make friends wherever you go.
Put aside material wants for other people’s needs.
Make room at the table.
Tell the old stories.
Don’t fear the mincemeat.
Keep in touch.
Never be too busy to spend 5 minutes with whomever is walking through your door.
Stop and smell the roses but don’t place so much importance on those roses that you fail to help the lonely, flea-bit cat in the alley way next to them.
Hers are tough shoes to fill.
It might take all of us to do it.
Thank you for coming today. She loved you all.

#mushroomtumbler

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Silver

This past year has been rough on many romantic relationships.

Perhaps it was the copious and unprecedented amounts of time together huddled at home. Few opportunities to be social with others. Plenty of access to alcohol but zero access to the gym. Maybe it was sudden financial upheaval or unrelenting political banter; so much so that even those who tended to agree, began disagreeing. For some, it might have been the idea of our country crumbling underneath us while death skulked around every corner. 

A few of of our committed friends have faced one other in the tumult and said, "I'm done." 

We've been emotionally gutted like fish, enduring sickness, a loss of faith, foundations shaken to the core, as we pored over 24 hour news documenting lonely hospital bedsides and health care workers with expressions from mournful wails to defeated silences. It was hard leaving the house and walking by the empty and naked tennis courts, netless and chained on our way to several, (probably germ-filled), stores to find a squashed package of overpriced not-our-brand of toilet paper being stocked by a dog-tired but devoted employee who'd probably rather be home. It was enough to make us take an exhausted, sorry look at life and ask, "Is this where I want to die?" or "Is this who I want to live with when things get back to normal?"

Thankfully, for me and my husband, our answer is yes.

I want to squeeze his hand. I want to pet all the dogs as we walk and guess the prices of houses for sale. I want to peer into the discarded junk box on the side of the road while he gently pulls my arm to leave it. I want to make grocery lists with his steak and my tofu. I want to debate world events. I want to make sure we have the coffee he likes and linger for a moment over the perfect headprint on his pillowcase before changing the sheets.

He wants to wash my car. I want to wash his clothes. 

When he is done saving the world, he comes to me for healing. When I am tired of healing the world, I turn to him for saving. 

Like two sides of the same coin, we are forged in heat. We are silver.  

He is heads. Plowing through anything in life that presents a challenge, noble and wise, steadfast and strong. Sharp roman profile, he is our engine. 

I am tails. Observational, I hold situations and people and things for too long, my unremitting emotions smoothing them like stones in a raging river. Soft bottom, I am our caboose. 



If we are the Chinese lion, he's up front, dipping and diving in a swirl of fast moving color, while I am rushing to keep up but also simultaneously anchoring us; one simpatico movement of thrum and choreography.


He can accomplish twenty things to my single task but when his twenty are complete, he returns to me with his shoulders aching and his countenance nearly bested by the burdens of this life. It is then that I become the bird who turns to ash, loved ones kept safe under her wings in the fire.

When the one task I have been working on has spun me up, down and sideways like a seed on the wind, he plucks me out of the air and buries me deep in the soil of his stability so that I can live to grow another flower. 

The lockdown made him determined and manic. It made me pensive and worried. He ran. I stood like my feet were stuck in a bucket of cement. I helped him slow down. He helped me speed up. In our twenty fifth year together, we are emerging from the friction of our last trip around the sun, a silver anniversary celebration on the horizon. Corrosive-resistant, we dwell in the pocket of this life, tumbling around in the dark, spent and recirculated. 

Precious and priceless. 

Silver.

#mushroomtumbler





Tuesday, June 8, 2021

You're a Wet One, Mr. Grinch

We had a drenching rain this afternoon. A spectacular, thunderous, good for the earth deluge.

All of the soaking, however, overwhelms some of the sewer drains in the old streets of our town, especially at the larger four way stops, which tend to "pond" and become temporarily impassable. 

Strolling with the min pin by one of those underwater intersections this evening, Hubs and I enter the splash-happy realm of a gaggle of puddle loving kids, ranging between 5 and 10 years old. Three of them are doused in wetness, wearing rainboots in fancy colors - kumquat orange, tulip pink, and a sassy patterned pair with bright citrusy-hued circles. Child number 4 is mucky, soiled and barefoot and his feet, as he sprints and somersaults, grow dirtier by the second. 

It does my heart good to see these kids racing about and pretending to swim in the calf-deep water. They throw their hands in the air, playing what we immediately recognize as the rock/paper/scissor game. Apparently the loser amongst the foursome has to dart back across the street to check in with a small and patiently watching crowd of parents. These kids, full of life and joy, are 100 percent pure, unadulterated glee, with messy hands and scuzzy feet. They will surely eschew the foot pull. 

Have you seen the foot pull?

I stopped at Target to pick up a to-go order of pet food and coffee. It's safer for me to place Target orders at home and then claim them at the counter immediately inside the door. You might think the safety to which I am referring has to do with Covid, but no. In actuality, I am talking about the safety of my credit card. A quick two item pick up at Target without this courtesy can easily turn into an expensive cart full of nonessentials like individually wrapped organic almond butter pouches, ceramic cookware, sunscreen made from pulverized cornhusks, and seven dollar bottles of Mojito mix. 

Ridiculous, I know. 

Speaking of ridiculous, I noticed from the corner of my eye that someone was entering the rest room while I stood in the pickup line on my red, carefully placed 6 feet apart, circle and that person was using her foot to unceremoniously yank the door open. 

Her foot. 

To yank. 

After being handed my single brown sack and avoiding the delicious bags of Sour Patch Kids placed so cleverly next to the register for our sugar-addicted convenience, I strolled over to the bathroom to see what people were doing over and over with their feet at this suddenly very busy ingress. What I observed as I got closer is that we no longer use our hands at Target to enter the rest room. Instead, we place a foot in something labeled a "foot pull" so that we avoid all tactile contact with said door. Covid safety signs placed just so remind us that this is for our own good. Our feet are part of our protection. 

I walk away hating how Covid has robbed us of our sense of touch. I hate that I am supposed to wipe every handle of every cart and avoid using cash because of its tendency toward germy grossness. I hate that I am now expected to use my foot to open a door. Heading to my car, I work to flip my thoughts and concede that maybe a foot pull might be of benefit to someone without arms. It's the only way I can spin the weirdness into something of good measure, necessary and useful in its newness. 

But here I am in the city hearing these kids singing their high pitched songs while slapping the corner light pole to bring out its hollow metallic clang; clomping and sloshing through Lake Macadam, hair plastered to their faces with the backs of their necks soiled and resembling the color of dingy fish scales in their slimy abandon, and my spirit soars.  

Screw the foot pull. 

Coming toward us, we see one of my favorite neighborhood moms tethering a damp, chubby cocker spaniel which is desperately pulling to gain close proximity to the min pin. Trailing behind is her youngest son, a pint-sized towhead wearing, despite it being June, a long sleeved red and green thermal shirt showcasing the original Grinch holding a Christmas star.

"He was ready for bed," she said. "But we got a call that his friends were playing in a huge puddle so of course we came right down."

Our Seuss fan's name is Augie. He quietly stoops down to pet the min pin's head even though his pals are less than 50 feet away doing the backstroke in the middle of the street. Sporting nylon shorts and stoplight yellow rubber clogs with little jibbitz placed randomly in the holes, I giggle and confess that I would dress exactly like him if I were five years old and making my way to the largest neighborhood puddle around. He smiles. Mom smiles. The cocker spaniel coughs and wheezes from having been held still while Augie spent a minute of sweetness with the min pin. We exchange goodbyes and part ways. 

Meandering through the streets, Hubs and I cannot avoid the water. My socks and sneakers absorb the gritty runoff. It's muggy and I squish but I do not complain. Several streets later and circling back, we spy Augie, his Mom and Chester the cocker spaniel once again. Augie's Grinchy pajama top is a soggy green ball wound tightly around Mom's hand and his bare little chest is puffed out like he's the Grand Marshal of a town-wide parade while he swings his arms, plunking his crocs down heavily the sidewalk and stopping beneath low hanging branches to shake them free of all their heavy drops of water, providing a surprise makeshift shower for his family. His precious laugh shatters the quiet in the most beautiful way. It is a burst of cherubic amusement set against the placidity of dusk. Hubs grins and we squeeze hands.  

We know how lucky we are to have been part of this evening of dirty water and the troupe of kids who rightfully relished it. We love walking around and seeing such enjoyment in the simplest of things. Buoyed by something that feels like a combination of hope that we might collectively be getting back to normal, and a silly desire to find more places to bespatter our calves with the kicked-up mud of the place we love, we promenade down the back alley on our way home. 

Bring on the Target bathroom door so I can grab the damn handle. I am not afraid.  



#mushroomtumbler