Sax and the Trailer Park

Our house was full of music.  Dad was a musician, and did his best to draw it out of all of us.  He played tenor sax from the time he was a young boy, and that saxophone was one of the few possessions that he treasured.

It’s gone missing.

His mother bought it for him, $5/week, with money earned in the mills.  She wanted him to get a broad education.  She wanted him to get out of the ghetto that was Methuen, Massachusetts in the 1930’s.  A millworker, she was raised in Sicily and was much more educated than her contemporaries.  She knew the value of an education.  Her father managed a vineyard, and because Domenica LaRosa was friends with his daughter?  The wealthy vineyard owner let her sit in with the tutor through her early teens – perhaps the equivalent of an 8th grade education.

Working in the non-unionized sweatshops of the time, enduring conditions that can crush the human soul, she wanted her only son to have a better life.  To her, the saxaphone represented a chance in a lottery, which might give her son a ticket out.

He played in jazz bands throughout high school.  The money he made went toward the college fund. Although he didn’t make enough to avoid a year of millwork following high school, he earned enough to enter the engineering program at Northeastern at 19 years old.  Playing in bands all the way through university, he found both joy and sustenance in his music.

After graduation, he moved to Detroit, earning a spot in the “select” management training program at Ford Motor Company, alongside the likes of a young Lee Iacocca.  But his mother became ill, and he returned to Boston to care for her as she battled cancer.  His father died shortly after he returned, and this young man with a bright future buried both of his parents within 3 years of college graduation.

He was lost.  An only child, his extended family of aunts and cousins could only provide so much help…  It was the saxophone that again gave him sustenance.  He returned to the jazz clubs, surrounded by a family of musicians, until he was able to get his feet under him and return to engineering.

Fast forward to the 1970’s – Dad is living in the suburbs of Cincinnati with four children.  He encouraged my oldest sister, S, to play saxophone – having the old tenor sax repaired, gold-plated.  It found new life.  For him, as much as S.  A few years later, my sister, T, switched from flute to sax, and rocked that old tenor in the high school jazz band for a few years.  It had to give him tremendous pleasure to sit through those interminable music programs, just to get to the set by the jazz band…

Last weekend, during a conversation with Mom, she asked me about the sax… she had assumed Dad had given it to me, since it didn’t turn up during the last round of household excavations. 

daisyfae:  No, i didn’t play sax.  i assumed S or T would have it…

Mom:  S was asking about it, she doesn’t have it either.  T wouldn’t have taken it, since she’d have had to lug it on an airplane.

daisyfae:  i don’t have it.  we need to find it.  i really hope it hasn’t been sold…

Regardless of where it is, the sad truth is that my initial reaction is that someone has removed the saxophone.  And that somehow it has found it’s way into a pawnshop somewhere…  Mom wasn’t tracking my thought train.  

There will be hell to pay…

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Snow Dog

From the “Canine Life Partner” files…

We got 1/4″ of ice, followed by about 7″ of snow on Tuesday evening.  It’s beautiful.  Since dogs love snow – at least mine does – The Boy and i wanted to get him out to play.  Being in a condo means i can’t just turn him loose in the back yard – so we let him venture out on the deck…

Cracker Dog attempting to dig through the deck

Cracker Dog attempting to dig through the deck

Dewlaps for the ages...

Dewlaps for the ages...

Special... "short bus to obedience school" special...

Special... "short bus to obedience school" special...

We laughed our asses off as we watched him romp, dig, snort and spray snow all over the place… His next move?  He unleashed a massive steamer on my deck.  Melting down through the snow…  Technically, it’s outside.

Dogs.  They are simply marvelous…

“Do you like movies about gladiators?”

When i was a kid, we watched “Big Time Wrestling“.  We knew it was fake, and we didn’t care… The current incarnation of this form of entertainment is the Ultimate Fighting Championships, UFC.  The Boy and his friends enjoy this, and i enjoy tormenting them about the obvious homo-eroticism of this particular style of “fighting”.

A quick google image search provides much supporting evidence. 

Nope.  Nothing homoerotic going on here...

Exhibit A: Nope. Nothing homo-erotic going on here...

Nothing but manly men pounding each other silly here...

Exhibit B: Nothing but manly men pounding each other silly here...

But this one?  i’m thinking there’s something a little different going on here…  unfortunately i don’t have the whiteboard handy to diagram this to figure out what that something might be…

Insert Tab A into Slot B.  Repeat as necessary...

Exhibit C: Insert Tab A into Slot B. Repeat as necessary...

Which brings us to a conversation i had with The Boy last night… Due to a temporary malfunction of my home theater/audio system, i am down to one incoming cable TV signal.  So whatever is playing on the tv tube in the theater room, is on the tv tube in my bedroom.  And vice versa.  This has led to some fun between the kids and i – after i accidentally left the channel on a “Born Again Revival” one Sunday morning while The Boy was attempting to sleep in, it’s become a game. 

The Boy was watching a UFC event in the theater room with a friend.  i was preparing to go to bed, and told him i’d be changing the channel shortly… He explained that the match was almost over, so i agreed to tough it out a few minutes.  Couldn’t resist jabbing him, though.  i helpfully pointed out to them both that there was, indeed, an overtly homoerotic tone to this particular “sport”.  Much like the movie “Gladiator” and of course “300“…. This got a visceral response, with both young men saying “Hey, hey, hey there lady – don’t trash talk “300”… That’s an AMAZING movie”.  At which point i simply smiled and said “i rest my case…”

Off they went.  As i’m tucked into bed, i’m watching this moronic ass-grabbing.  The following text-session transpired shortly therafter…

daisyfae:  U.F.C. = G.A.Y.

The Boy:   Tell Frank Shamrock* that…

daisyfae:  The name “Shamrock” is pretty girlie… i tell you, these guys are going to go play the meat trumpet in the locker room…

The Boy:  “Shamrock” sounds Irish to me.  Are all Irishmen** gay?

daisyfae:  Believe that if you want.  Especially if it saves me the cost of therapy…

The Boy:  Yeah.  I knew as I hit send that I didn’t really want the answer to that.

_________________________

* Frank Shamrock, undefeated champ of the UFC “Bootlicker” weight class, was getting an atomic wedgie at that moment…

** daisyfae is dating a gentleman from Ireland… and both children are still getting used to mom being “out there” again.  Many “hands over the ears” moments as i explore new ways to mess with their little heads…

Past Blasting…

Had a ‘down day’ Saturday – due to the cold weather outside and an unexpected crush of estrogen imbalance inside.  Finally got around to accepting the “facebook”* invites i’d been getting from friends** and family members… Within about an hour, i was in touch with a good friend from childhood.  i’d met him when we were nine years old, and we were friends through about 10th grade when i dropped out of band…  He got me connected to my best friend from 7th grade within another hour…

The efficiency was astounding!  She and i yakked back and forth until quite late.  She dropped out of school in 10th grade, and was headed into some serious darkness – drugs, fast living and all that.  i was astonished to find her yesterday, happily working a management job, living in the suburbs with a smokin’ hot hubby, raising four kids and a GRANDBABY?  Huh?  She’s MY AGE?  WTF?

But the words flowed as if we’d never lost connectivity…

In our formative years, she and i got in deep trouble for our work as editors of the 8th Grade Mid-Year Literary Magazine, “Santa’s Shorts”.  Instead of being light and fluffy – as the title would suggest – most of the shit we collected was dark, acne-encrusted pre-teen angst. Kidnappings, runaways, abusive parents and young love misunderstood by the oppressive parental units…  Oops.  The School Board eventually got over it, but we were bonded for life as rebels… seeking to push the boundaries of artistic freedom to obliterate censorship.  Oh, and smoke as much ganja as two girls could ingest without collapsing like fleshy black holes into our very own navels…

Even more fun?  i had rabid “homely hippie chick lust” for her twin brother (sigh).  Beyond dreamy, he was the quiet, stoner-intellectual.  Dry wit, long hair and a closet full of anarchist t-shirts – what’s not to love?  We’ve already swapped some e-mails, and i’m looking forward to seeing where he’s been for the last 30 years.  And if he still likes hippie chicks…

Funny how it works, though.  We are who we were.  Crustier of soul and doughier of body.  How much do we really change?

"New Orleans? You were SUCH a bead-slut..."

"Remember New Orleans? You were SUCH a bead-slut..."

* i think with the addition of so many of us “old folks” out there in the social networking world, suspect that the young ‘uns will abandon it for implanted RFID chips + GPS tracking and virtual reality software… or whatever the next thing shall be…

** Theater folks love facebook… i went from zero to 60 friends in just over 24 hours… Trippy…

Revisionist Natural History on an Airplane

Flying back from a business trip to Florida Tuesday evening, we raced through the Atlanta airport* to make a connection that was tighter than a midget’s… um… yeah… we were cutting it close due to an air traffic delay.  Airport strategy for a small group traveling in such a situation?  Every man for himself once clearing the inbound flight – and the first person to get to the connecting gate must fake a heart attack to assure that the door of the plane can’t be closed until the others arrive.  Leave no one behind…

Miraculously – with only 10 minutes to get from the end of concourse B to the middle of concourse C – we made it.  Helped by the fact that the outbound flight now had a 10 minute delay as well.  Shuffling my way to the back of the plane, i grabbed my window seat next to a young man, perhaps 12 years old, sitting in the aisle seat.

As i was getting settled, i realized his parents and perhaps siblings were seated a few rows behind us, so he wasn’t traveling alone.  i stuffed my briefcase under the seat in front of me, and he ate raw almonds, which he’d poured into his baseball cap.  Mental note that his parents were at least providing some better food choices than many

Seated in front of me is my travel mate, the Ninjaneer.  We horsed around a bit, as we are inclined to do.  i threatened to write on his shaved head with a sharpie, he threatened massive ‘silent but deadly’ fartage… normal business colleague stuff.  The kid apparently decides i’m cool enough to chat up, opening with “Are you coming back from Disney World, too?”  Not exactly, but we proceed to discuss roller coasters, amusement park rides and cool things that scare the crap out of you.

The flight crew has made an announcement of a departure delay to allow those folks with tight connections to board.  Plus 100 bonus points to Delta Airlines for making that call – usually they’ll push back to hit their departure time target, and then sit the plane on the tarmac for an hour waiting to take off, while stranded passengers press their faces to the window glass in the departure lounge and scream…

The Ninjaneer turns to tell me that there is creature outside, eating the wing – a reference to the Richard Matheson short story, and Twilight Zone episode, about the guy who flips out, and sees a gremlin eating the wing at 20,000 feet – and no one believes him.  The young man next to me was craning his neck to see outside, and i had to explain that it was a joking reference to an old TV show…

The inquisitive little bugger drills in, wanting me to tell him about the movie, and more scary stories.  It becomes pretty clear to me that he’s not very bright.  He makes a few attempts to tell scary stories – that his older brother tells better – but fails.  i’ve had delightful conversations with youngsters, but this was definitely not going to be one of them.  And we were still on the ground.

Returning the conversation to amusement parks, he tells me about an exhibit at a park somewhere that had dinosaurs that attack you as you ride through – i think it’s a Jurrasic Park thing somewhere, but i’d lost interest.  And then there was this aside:

dim boy: Oh, and you know dinosaurs weren’t killed by the meteors, but they died in a flood, and if it weren’t for Noah we wouldn’t be here…

daisyfae: [mind makes the connection to bible-thumping creationists]  Huh.  How about that?  Wiped out in a big flood, eh?

Ninjaneers shoulders start to shake.  He is laughing – wondering what the hell i’m going to to do this child of born-again science.  Without a doubt, the kid’s been to The Creation Museum**  – where they have an animatronic dinosaur exhibit, showing cave men playing alongside ol’ T-Rex.  And this gem, shown in Creation Theater – Travel 6,000 years back to the beginning of time to see the world created in six days.  Damn the scientific evidence, people – we’ve got a religion to sell here!

Conversation went  further south – my brain aching to challenge him on these assumptions… i didn’t discuss the impossibility that the Grand Canyon was formed in a day due to receding flood waters (what the young earth creationists refer to as the pseudoscience of  “Flood Geology“).  And i certainly didn’t ask why God would have put our sex organs so close to our excretory organs if he’d really been working from a clean slate, executing truly intelligent design…

As we took off, and thankfully blasted through 10,000 feet, i put on my headphones and told him that the old lady needed to sleep.  My iPod was dead, but the headphones stayed on.  i didn’t sleep.  Instead, i wondered what kind of future he’ll have… What sort of life he’ll lead.  What profession will call him…  Whether he’d ever have an opportunity for a full-spectrum education, or whether his well-intentioned parents would continue to raise him under a rock.  A 6,000 year old rock.

And rational thought takes another one in the teeth...

And rational thought takes another one in the teeth...

* Also known as “Hell – Now, With A Train”

** Go to the link and look around.  this shit boggles the mind… do they TRULY believe this?  We’re fucked… farewell, rational thought, critical thinking and logic.

Puffin Away

This is a love story.  Strange… Unexpected… Hideous and inexplicable in many ways.  But a love story nonetheless.

It started with my trip to Iceland in 2007.  Short notice (as are many of my international jaunts, it seems), i went for a long weekend with a friend.  What’s cool about Iceland?  Well, besides being momentarily bankrupt, they are a bit of a magical society – energy independent due to the stores of geothermal energy that can turn that island into so much volcanic dust in a heartbeat.  Certainly a case of making the best of a potentially really bad situation.

Oh, and even better?  Hot springs!  All that volcanic energy does not go to waste, that’s for sure!  The Blue Lagoon* is spectacular.  Speaking of spectacular… The women?  Stunningly gorgeous.  The men?  Umm… lucky to live on an island with the aforementioned ladies…

This, however, is about none of that.  This is a love story.  Indirectly about sheep.  Icelandic sheep.  Luscious and decadent of pelt.  And this renewable resource is the font of a famous Icelandic industry – wool.  Oh, yes… Icelandic wool is exquisite, and warm beyond belief.  And when i was not being thrown from a demonic Icelandic pony**, or trying to find the exact house where Bjork lives, i was smitten with a particularly ugly item, crafted of this sumptuous wool.

A hat, to be specific.  My initial thought was that it might be something that The Girl would like.  But within moments i realized she had more class and style than that… so i unapologetically bought if for myself.  Creamy ivory wool, accented by an ice blue border – with intricately woven Puffins along the base.  And ear flaps.  i mean, what the hell good is a winter hat without ear flaps?

There it was – homely yet practical.  All at the same time.  Just like me!  Screaming my name.  Loudly.  It was almost embarrassing… i had to buy it just to keep the noise down.

It’s been bloody cold this year, so  i’ve been wearing it.  Driven as much by necessity, there’s just something mesmerizing about this hat.  i am ruthlessly taunted by colleagues.  It is beyond “un-sexy”, it’s downright “anti-sexy” – and i believe it has shrivelled male reproductive organs from as far away as 30 feet. 

The first time i lost it, i was heartbroken – but since i knew exactly where i’d last seen it, a lunchtime trip to The Pub was all it took to recover my baby.

daisyfae: Did someone leave a really ugly hat here?

pub hostess: [walks to hostess stand, opens cabinet, extracts my hat from the bottom of a huge pile of hats] This one?

Last week it was another story.  The hat was missing as i left the office at the end of the day.  Knowing i’d had it when i arrived that morning, i mentally retraced my steps through the day – and came to the conclusion that i’d either dropped as i got out of my car, or someone had stolen it

Frantically scouring the parking lots, i came up empty handed.  It had snowed a bit, and it was possible that the hat had been scraped into a pile of muck-encrusted briny snow by the maintenance brigade.  For the rest of the week, i kept my eyes peeled – checking hallway bulletin boards where lost items sometimes appear, even asking at our visitors desk if anyone had turned in a really ugly hat. 

Paranoia strikes deep.  i began to wonder if perhaps my friends were playing a cruel trick on me.  Maybe – possibly in the interest of preserving organizational aesthetics – they’d swiped my hat.   i decided that the only proper thing to do would be to craft a “Missing” poster.  In my paranoiac frenzy, i planned to warn the thieves that i have even UGLIER headgear should this be a malicious act… i’d also bought a pig-tailed ear-band.  Orange, brown and blue stripes – suitable for wear…. um… suitable for wear in the dark, perhaps.   Could i “counter” such an act of terrorism with even greater hideosity?  The mind wanders when deeply distressed…

i worked my way through several stages of grief – and it was a grieving process, mind you.  i wore a different hat every day.  Recklessly wearing any hat i could get my hands on!  Sometimes (and this is shameful), wearing two hats at once.  i didn’t care where they’d been.  i was lashing out.  But by the end of the week i was approaching grim acceptance.  Puffin Hat was gone.  Long live Puffin Hat.  [sniff, sniff…]

Friday, on the way out for the evening, a friend arrived to pick me up… He was behaving strangely.***  Entering my condo, he stood outside the door of my bedroom, with a devilish look on his face.  Thinking he’d gone completely whack, i was assessing the distance to my phone should i need to call for backup.  He simply said “I want to be in the right position to make it easy for you to thank me properly…” and he proceeded to pull Puffin Hat from his coat.  Executing a standing leap of perhaps 10 feet, i was on him within seconds – rescuing Puffin Hat! 

We’d had lunch together that day, and on a lark, he’d stopped by the restaurant on the way over.  Asking after “lost and found” items, he located my wayward hat, and brought baby home to momma!

And all was truly right with the world… Much like Ralphie, from A Christmas Story, i slept with Puffin Hat that night… as the snow fell on a magical landscape, gentle music played, and there was a lovely fade to black…

Reunited and it feels so good...

Reunited and it feels so good...

* The mineral spa.  NOT the roach-feces encrusted poor excuse for a film with a marginally clad barely post-pubescent Brooke Shields.

** The fucking thing was posessed – a demon pony.  It had BLUE EYES.  No one else would ride it… but that’s a story for a different day…

*** Even for one of my friends…

Color blind?

i have a dream – that someday i shall live in a country where the media will NOT reduce a man’s character to the color of his skin.

Early morning news coverage of the inauguration events is leaving me gently ill.  i’m a HUGE fan of Mr. Obama.  NOT because of the color of his skin, but precisely because of his intellect, vision and character.

Hello?  Did we forget that this man was president of Harvard Law Review?  He is a constitutional law scholar?  Is deeply intelligent, much more moderate than many realize, and holds the potential to gently close the great divide between right and left in the US of A?  Oh, let’s not forget the fact that he speaks in full sentences and doesn’t make up words….

Granted, the elderly blacks who grew up with the blatant racism, restrictions on voter registration and the ugliness that accompanied the civil rights movement have more than enough justification for a little extra celebration.  It was only about 40 years ago that we still had “whites only” drinking fountains in this country.  Bring it.  You deserve this moment…

Idiot comment from the current news girl:  “It occurs to many Americans that they’ve never seen a first couple who looks like that.  Young, black and in a Presidential limo…”.  Jeebus McGee.  This bimbo went to an overpriced private university and bought got a degree in communications to bring us this kind of deep insight?  Her parents deserve a refund…

Is it just me, or does the media emphasis on his race detract from his achievement?  Let’s get on with the business of fixing what’s broken…

[end rant.  off for coffee…]

Frigidity

Hate to do a ‘weather’ post…

BUTHOLYFUCKINGMOTHEROFGOD – it’s cold!

This morning?  i walked my dog when it was -14 F outside.  That’s -26 C for those of you who are Farenheitedly challenged.  With the wind – gusting to 20 miles/hour?  That’s a windchill factor of minus YOU’VE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING – MY EYEBALLS JUST FROZE! 

Needless to say, my mildly brain damaged dog was oblivious.  Sproinging along as though he didn’t have a care in the world.  No coat.  No dog booties to protect his feet.  i’m in a parka, bundled up like Nanook of the North, shivering my everlovin’ giblets off, and he’s prancing along, sniffing every tree, leaving his “mark” – which by all rights should have frozen to his little doggie wiener.  And perhaps solidified his kidneys. 

Fortunately, he was all business, and set about makin’ poo within a few minutes.  Or he’d still be holding it…

Caught...

Ice, Ice, Baby...

Bad to the bone

She’s right around 40 years old.  KT is an accomplished scientist, skilled program manager, and warm human being.  And she’s absolutely beautiful.  We started working together last June on a high visibility project, and found lots of things in common.  The least of which was breast cancer. 

Hers was the bad kind.  An aggressive version hit her 14 years ago while she was in her late 20’s.  She stomped on it hard – with major surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.  Not an easy journey, but she put it behind her – continued to work throughout her treatment. 

i didn’t know her well then, but remember being blown away by the fact that she was there… doing her job while staring down the barrel of a loaded gun. i remember seeing her in the hallways, this beautiful young woman, bald as a cue ball, wearing fabulous outfits – with matching hats and headgear.

Last month she learned that it wasn’t a pinched nerve, or a torn rotator cuff in her shoulder causing numbness and pain.  “Lesions”.  That means “tumors”.  She told me in early December because there could be some impact to the program should she face something serious.  Optimistic for good news, but realistic enough to know what “lesions on the bone” meant.

As we started a meeting in late December – KT, me and another program manager – she provided an update.  That week – following more testing – she learned that her cancer has returned.  Here’s what she said:

“There’s good news and bad news.  The bad news is that my cancer is back.  The good news is that it’s only in my bones.  If it were in my organs, we’d be talking weeks.  Since it’s just in my bones, we’re talking years… It’s treatable, but not curable.”

From there?  Rational discussion of treatment plan, as well as her take on what it might mean for her part of the program.  She intends to work through, although she’ll be discussing some re-balancing of workload to remove the things that bring extra stress. 

After a brief discussion of how she’d like things handled with the rest of the team, we got down to the business at hand.  The meeting lasted about an hour, and she was actively engaged, and clearly tracking everything going on… Even some laughs.

To be in the presence of such a woman is truly humbling.  As with the BLT, you can learn so much about a person by how they deal with the nastiest shit that life hacks up.  The stuff that tests your soul.  You’re either living or you’re dying.  You have a choice.

She faced her own mortality 14 years ago, and was prepared to die.  In our prior conversation, when she learned of the “lesions”, she said “I know what my body can take.  I know much of what lies ahead.  I know that I can continue to work through chemo and radiation.” 

Now, ladies?  Get your fucking mammograms.  Cut out the excuses.  Yeah, it hurts.  Big deal.  i guarantee you it hurts a lot less than the gauntlet KT is now running.  Again…  So you’re afraid of knowing?  Get over yourself and do it for the people who love you.  No excuses.

Respecting Boundaries – Real and Imagined

i still have no furniture in my living room – i moved in late August.  My priorities are sound, however, as the billiards table has been in place since October, as has the hard core electronics gagetry…  But it’s time for seating, as the threat of another party lurks for later in the month.  Another farewell party for a young ‘un at the office, he’ll invite perhaps 75 folks, with an expected 40-50 attending.

Yep.  Barbie’s first kegger in the new crib.

i’d been waiting for The Girl to return from her sojourn to the middle east, and have put her MAD DEZYN SKILZ to work to help me select the basics.  My goal is to have a cozy seating area, with lots of flop space.  Focal point is the fireplace, and wall of windows overlooking the deck and trees.  Leather is a must, as the brown dog likes to flop on the couches, too… and nothing is as easy to clean as leather when you’ve got a mutt loose in the house.

Having picked out some cool stuff, i wasn’t sure it would all fit properly… so i did my anal-retentive best to draw the room to scale, using simple computer-based layouts to try several arrangements.  Despite my best efforts, it still seemed too crowded. 

So i did what any self-respecting dork would do.  Taped out the layout for the sofa, coffee table, and then built cardboard cut outs for the footprints of the chairs under consideration.  And then worked through several arrangements to assure that it all fit comfortably.

you have to use your imagination a little...

you have to use your imagination a little...

Much to my complete and total amazement, i discoverd that Mr. Pickles would not walk on the imaginary furniture.  Much like Les Nessman, of WKRP in Cincinnati, the dog is treating these taped boundries as “real”.  Even after i “sat” on the couch and tried to get him to hop up and join me?  He’s a good boy…

Dogs are just goofy…

Downward Dog

Downward Dog

"Is that new?"

"Is that new?"

"Don't wanna piss her off..."

"Don't wanna piss her off..."

"She's the goofy one... taken minimalism to a new low..."

"She's the goofy one... taken minimalism to a new low..."