Friday, December 28, 2012

Meet My Christmas Peanuts

I have these peanut Christmas tree ornaments I rescued one year from a second-hand shop. They were somebody's abandoned homemade ornaments, with pipe-cleaner arms and legs, and appendages made of  clumsy gobs of brown wax.

When I found them, they lay tangled in a pile inside a cigar box. I took them home, freed their knotted limbs, and gave them new life adorning my Christmas tree. Then I put them back in the box for another year. But each Christmas I get them out and give them the privilege of dangling from my tree.

 Being that they have peanut shells for bodies, they are vulnerable to mice and our dog Cheri, yet they are full of bluster and personality. Some of them are downright onry! 

Mr. "show-stopper" Peanut is always ready to do a little soft shoe. 


 Winking Peanut thinks he's the George Clooney of peanuts.

"Sluggo" is a bit of a hothead, always ready for an altercation.   

Sometimes the Santa ornament has to intervene and give Sluggo a spanking. 

The Michael Jackson peanut has teamed up with one of the pixies for a ventriloquist act. 

While one of the more introverted pixies looks on... 

 The Eddie Haskell peanut is always in cahoots with the other ornaments, but tries to pass himself off as

"Commando" peanut suffers flashbacks and delusions that he is fighting in the jungles of Southeast Asia.  

 Narcoleptic Peanut is usually caught napping. His big feet make him sleepy.

Of course my favorite is the Mony peanut, the sweetest and most angelic of them all.   

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Disturbing Holiday Revelations

Ho Ho Ho! Here you go! 

My disturbing holiday revelations of 2012 : 

I've been hoarding eggnog the whole month of December. (They only stock it for so long, you know, and when it's gone, it's gone.)

I am now an eggnog connoisseur. I know which brands are tops and which to avoid. (Because I've tried them all.)

I hate divinity. (The candy.)

Our Christmas tree has been up a week but still has no decorations. (Who has the frickin' time?)

I am re-using your Christmas card in ways you never imagined. (Using it to scoop spiders off the wall into an empty butter container.)

I would pay top dollar to have someone shovel my sidewalk dressed as a nun or old jumpsuit Elvis.

I am cutting back on fruits and vegetables to leave more room in my stomach for Christmas cookies and fudge balls.

The thing that has excited me the most this Christmas season is finding a new gingerbread recipe. (That calls for beer.)

My idea of goodwill toward men is not vacuuming while the football game is on.

I spend a great deal of time on the internet hunting for Christmas photos of Burl Ives.   

In lieu of shopping, I have written a Christmas play that I'm going to force my family to act out.   

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Woody and Burl

Here you go. Woody Guthrie and Burl Ives, as you've never seen them before.  This photo raises eyebrows and questions, but that's what I love about it.

I would prefer it remain open to intrepretation, but that's what sucks about the internet age. No mysteries, no place for wild speculation, because no question goes unanswered. According to the Library of Congress, this was a publicity shot that CBS took in 1940 in Central Park, NYC, before a radio appearance. Guess they're pretending to be hobos.   

Friday, December 7, 2012

They're Little and They're Free

Around where I live, three Little Free Libraries have cropped up. Aren't they adorable? Each one was started by a local resident who was moved to stick some of their books inside a small hutch and make the books available to passers-by, for free, 24/7.

What can you get at these little book stands? Here is a sampling of some of the titles:

•The View from Saturday – E.L. Konigsburg

•Mysterious Benedict Society

•A Wrinkle in Time

•Aunt Dimity’s Death

•The Dark Wind – Tony Hillerman

•Leo the Late Bloomer

•The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

•Whale Talk

•Junior Gymnast

•A Bargain for Frances

•Llama Pajamas

Photos and book titles taken from Prairie Village Post:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Space Is The Place!

Between my ears

Endeavor soars over LA on its last flight before being hauled off to the museum. Nice view of the LA skyline and Hollywood sign.   

NASA illustration
I've always been a space cadet.

I was born under the sign of the blazing payload. While I was being knit inside the womb, NASA's Redstone rockets were running dress rehearsals for the Mercury program. Just a few months ahead of my arrival, Soviet Cosmonaut Valentia Tereshkova became the first woman in space and orbited the Earth 48 times.

An emergent model of human being, I was crafted for the new age, pre-loaded with space in my head and a built-in yearning to break free. 

 My surroundings reinforced this fixation on gravity clearance. My earliest memory was being held up to a window as a baby, to watch a neon sign flash like the burn phase of a booster rocket. A few years later, I would feel the love vibration of a sonic boom, a gift from a pilot crossing our prairie sky.

Throughout my childhood, the motifs of flight or high energy explosions pulsed through architecture and commercial design. Roofs had wings, cars had tailfins.

Satellites, boomerangs, arrows, launch pads and starbursts symbolized the freedom and motion I felt was my birthright. Even the high school in my small Kansas town had a parabolic awning, a popular style of the time, referencing the gravity-defying flight trajectory of rockets. 

It was my expectation that aerodynamics and lift would always be an integral part of everyday design. And that we would visit space forever.

 NASA had told us that space exploration would improve all our lives for the better, through new advances. It was true. I was eating breakfast cereal shaped like flying saucers, and watching TV shows like The Jetsons, I Dream of Jeannie, the Thunderbirds, and Major Astro. At the end of every show, Major Astro signed off in a cheery space vernacular, saying, "Happy Orbits, boys and girls ... Everything will be A-Okay and all systems will be go!"

Major Astro

The men in shiny pressure suits and helmets were part of the patriarchal order I was told to revere and trust. They ascended the heavens on my soul's behalf, leaving the earth by way of turbulent G forces, and enduring the fiery hells of re-entry. 

I remained on the surface, playing with dirt, cutting my feet on rocks...but I felt good, because the shiny men said the dirt under my fingernails was dirt busted loose from the stars. The rocks - pieces of meteorite, for all we knew. Buckminster Fuller, said, "We are all astronauts." As if to drive home the point, even Don Knotts became an astronaut, albeit reluctantly, in The Reluctant Astronaut.

I calculate that in my 49 years on this earthship, I have logged 28, 616,988,722 miles through space. Considerably more than the space shuttle Endeavor, which flew a mere 122,883,151 miles before it was hangared last weekend.

But I ride under a protective bubble of atmosphere, while the shuttle was continuously pelted with space clods. So no, Buck, I'm not such an astronaut, really. Passing through space is not the same thing as being in the soup of it. I wish I could have been in L.A. when the shuttle rolled through the streets.

Pretty dang awesome!!

Officials urged LA residents to "stay inside until the shuttle passes", as if it were the Angel of Death, but who in their right mind would have missed a chance to see it? Knowing where it's been, I want to touch it. Seven figure crowds came out to see it, prompting the fire chief to say, "Today, everyone in Los Angeles is an astronaut".

While the shuttle was crawling home, 89 year-old Chuck Yeager was climbing into an F-15 (as a passenger) to re-enact to the minute his historic breaking of the sound barrier 65 years ago that very day, at 10:24 am.  Felix Baumgartner was poised to break the sound barrier too. With his body.

Felix fall down, go boom!

His jump from the edge of space sent him into a free fall that broke records, but thankfully, nothing else. 

"This wasn't just a mild penetration of the sound barrier," said Baumgartner's doctor, Jonathan Clark.
"It was Mach 1.24. Our ground recovery teams on four different locations heard the sonic boom."

 Sweet sonic human. Rockin' the space-love vibration! We space cadets have been waiting for this our whole lives.

Apparently, so has Felix. See what he drew at age 5: 

"I had a dream. And this was it!!!"

From The Telegraph

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Simone's Birthday Parade!

New York City is throwing a birthday parade for me! 
They're rolling out the parade balloons and marching bands!

Okay, just a fantasy, but I cobbled together some video and music to show you what it looks like inside my head. 

Happy Birthday to me!!!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pumpkins in Waiting

Their light still dim, but growing...

You can tell it's early October. The pumpkins have not yet gathered their strength. For now, they hang in large groups, murmuring. As it gets closer to Halloween, we'll need to keep an eye on them. Some of them grow hoary, confrontational, threatening to drop onto your foot. Rot on your porch.

Soon it will be time to send in the children, who will wrap their arms around them, and ask to take them home. Where they will gut them and carve them up, and stick burning candles inside their gaping mouths.

Some will be chosen for other purposes: Crowded against lesser squashes in a harvest centerpiece. Turned to pie fodder. Reduced to a spice haunting someone's oven. Reduced to a syrup, cloying in a way the pumpkin never intended, adding a phony seasonal cheer, which the barista, who has made one too many pumpkin lattes, dispenses begrudgingly. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

October is my Month Of Increasing Power!

Let the theremin playing begin!

What does October mean to people? Rusty leaves? Bewitching weather? October, in all its moods and colors, has so many possible shades of meaning, and raises so many questions. Such as, "Does everyone realize what it means to me?

It's not like I haven't told people, about the special claim I have on October. Time and time again, I have tried to get this through their thick skulls.

I have told them before of the robots who march across the land at this time of year, marching over cleft and butte to come do my bidding. "Sim One We Are Loyal....Sim One We Are Loyal .....Sim One We Will Follow..." Onward they come, marching closer and closer....

I have told them before of the large October throne that must be crafted from the deepest rosewood, and hoisted upon the shoulders of two, well-proportioned Polynesian men, with me lounging upon it....

I have described the music that must be provided at the start and finish of all of my comings and goings ---a triumphant blast of trumpets accompanied by pump organ and theremin.

I have named the crops to be harvested, the fish to be hatched, the worms to be plucked....

I have ordered Polo players removed from Polo shirts, and golf shirts exchanged for tees made of hemp.....

I have demanded rum cakes soaking in rum, and sea minerals brought in on horseback....

A spontaneous combusion,  a suspension of the laws of gravity....

The tables overturned, the jacks let out of their boxes.....

Bums to be rushed, hums to be dingered....

All this, and more, to herald the dawn of the beginning of the very first day of what is My Month of Increasing Power!

A month of power e'er waxing like the gibbous moon, until the eve of the day of my birth. This shall happen as it happened long ago. (Not THAT long ago.) It has been happening since the morning of the day I alighted upon this earth sphere. Which really, was not so long ago. But it happened then and it's happening now and ever more shall be.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Football finally grows a hair

Let your freak flag fly, dude!

I don't pay much attention to the NFL. Football seasons come and go, and I am largely oblivious to all the hub-bub and hullaballoo. I have tried, but have found I am unable to watch an entire game all the way through. I acknowledge this is due to some failing on my part. I lack a certain gene that other spectators have, allowing them to feel excitement, while I feel as if my brain is digging, scavenging old radio parts and bed boards to construct a system of tunnels, as in the movie the Great Escape.

So I was not aware that something beautiful has been unfolding on the football field. Namely, the cascading, flowing  tresses of NFL players.

They are growing their hair. They are letting it fall out of their helmets and onto their shoulders. Now THIS is something I could watch!

More typically, football players have been clean-cut. But these guys are hairy. They are hairy noon and night. They are hairy high and low.

Don't ask him why. He don't know. 

A home for fleas. A hive for the buzzing bees. A nest for birds. There ain't no words. 
 For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of their hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
They want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy

Shining, gleaming, streaming
Flaxen, waxen

Knotted, polka-dotted
Twisted, beaded, braided
Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied! 

 Their hair like Jesus wore it
Hallelujah I adore it!

Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
Their hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair!!! 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Yes, I'm judging you -- I have a right to. (How I've come to have less guilt, more shoes.)

They say you can't judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes. Or a woman --though I'd hasten to add that in order to judge a woman you need to walk two miles, in stilettos.

Well, I have done that. Walked in other women's stilettos, pumps, and sling-backs.  Their boots, loafers, moccasins. As one who shops and wears used footwear, I have walked many many miles in many ladies' shoes. I therefore consider myself to have carte blanche to judge whomever I damn well please. That's the real payoff of buying second-hand!

Freedom to be more judgemental with every mile. 

And remember....a pedometer makes a good accessory!

Here are some actual used shoes owned at one time by actual other people  - and I'm walkin' in them!  

Like new, but these babies have been around the block a few times:

  Still elegant, sure, but boy if these shoes could talk!


This velvet green pump has seen its share of bathroom tile.

This snappy little number wasn't born yesterday!

These didn't just fall off the turnip truck.


These boots were made for walking. Walking and judging! 


  These hurt like the devil but give me license to scorn. 


Hell yes, these were someone else's shoes.
You think I could afford these rich-ass slippers new?


Thursday, September 20, 2012

How the 80s got me hooked on second-hand and vintage.

Soon it will be time to return to the thrift stores.

It’s a fall kind of thing with me. A tradition that began 30 years ago, in 1982.

I was going to college in Lawrence and some friends introduced me to a vintage clothing store downtown. They shopped there ironically, combining Eisenhower-era styling with their post-punk sensibilities, and I was soon trying to doing the same. I had left my small, western Kansas town behind and was eager to hurl convention to the wind, like it was a sun-dried cow patty.

Dressing vintage was fun, because it was a way of embodying the culture of new wave, which seemed to pay homage to the post-war boom period, while also mocking it. MTV was brand new, but many of its videos evoked the past. In the video above, Split Enz, one of my fave 80's bands, sends the lead singer down a two-toned retro staircase into what might be a web of beatniks.

New wave video was also theatrical, sometimes painfully so, when New Romantics like Boy George and Adam Ant sashayed across the screen, dripping eyeliner. And sometimes it was just plain god-awful. But the message was: The siege is over. Disco is dead. At last, it's okay to be weird again.

I had been waiting for this liberation a long time, having been taught, back in my farming community, to hide any latent tendencies towards weirdness, lest it disturb the cattle and throw them off their feed.

 Now that I was free to be eccentric, I embraced vintage clothing, wearing beaded lambswool cardigans that harked from the early 1960's, and dresses that brought to mind Sandra Dee. But one of my best finds was a green wool army jacket that became my winter coat:

Not my every day look. I added the white-face for Halloween.

The way I saw it, shopping vintage was NOT the same thing as shopping for used clothes. It was an act of curation, requiring a level of discernment and good taste that had not been bestowed upon the masses, but rather granted to only a select few, like moi.

If I had any detractors, I dismissed them out of had. Certainly "typical people", which at the time was defined as anyone not in my insular cluster of art and drama school fops, did not have the eye or imagination to appreciate the conceptual wit of my vintage assemblages! Nor did they get that I wasn’t merely wearing “old clothes.”

There was only one problem. The vintage clothing store didn't turn around their inventory very quickly, and I was getting bored, rifling through the same loud polyester print blouses (that even I wouldn't wear) over and over again.

One Saturday close to Halloween, the autumn leaves falling and the wind feeling brisker, my friends and I ventured into the Salvation Army store, seeking costumes, and it was like a world of untold treasures opened up to me. Racks upon racks of cheap-ass clothes that, in the right context, could be made funky. There was a spiky-haired girl trying on hats and sport coats. This was not so she could be a hobo. This was just the way she liked to dress, and the Salvation Army happened to be a great place to find men's cast-off jackets. Browsing the shoe racks, I realized that second-hand could be a helping hand indeed. Where else could I find a pair of metallic gold flats and red pumps for only two dollars a pair?

Back in my small home-town, it would have been considered trashy to haunt Goodwill, but in Lawrence, it was not only acceptable, it was a sign of hipness.

I shopped the Salvation Army store every chance I got, and then some, even skipping out of a drawing class to do so. While the other students were bent over drawing pads, trying to render a precarious stack of cylinders and cubes, I gathered my things and told my instructor I just "couldn't be there." I felt reasonably sure that he, a fellow artist, understood the unpredictability of the artistic temperament. But I wasn't so sure he'd understand if he knew my plan that crisp November morning was to head straight downtown to the Salvation Army store, to see if they had in any new (old) shoes.

Many years have passed, but I still associate a chill in the air with thrift store shopping.

And yes, I still buy used shoes. Believe it or not, you can find some pretty amazing second-hand shoes in bang-spark condition! But NOT at the Salvation Army. You have to know where to look.

Stay tuned for my next blog post, when I take you on a tour of my shoe closet, where you'll see how nifty a thrifty foot can be!

In the meantime, enjoy this bonus video for the Split Enz song "Poor Boy", revealing their history as visual jesters, during which they resembled everything from escapees from a schizoid circus to beserk country-western performers, championing a playfulness that surely inspired many an 80's kid to head straight for the nearest thrift store.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oddly Correct

On Friday, Roger and I checked out a hole-in-the wall coffee place in Westport called "Oddly Correct."

 The sign on the door told us they were serious about their coffee.

I do expect good coffee from a place where even the counter is a work of art.

I'd read about the place, how they employ a unique, artisanal technique for brewing one cup of coffee at a time.

While we were waiting for the coffee, we drank in the funky decor. I was enamored of the vintage mortar the owner had uncovered when he rescued the place from its previous life as a payday loan business. (Yes, those are bicycle tire tubes hanging on the wall.) 

The owner, Gregory, said he wants to project a spirit of whimsy, and seems to be succeeding. Both through the decor......

....And the packages of coffee beans, he illustrates himself.

  I especially enjoyed the corner dedicated to random, assorted objects:

But my favorite feature was the bookshelf in the back corner. I said to the owner, in jest, "Gee, I'd like to read one of those books on the top shelf." He said, "No problem. I'll get it for you." He said the bookshelf has climbing holds, like rock-climbers use.

Roger sat next to a row of "Bearded Fellas."

Finally, I received my coffee. I had ordered the Gelena. A natural process Yirgacheffe that was supposed to taste cake-y and sort of blueberryish. It DID taste a little like blueberries, but in a good way. It was very smooth, with absolutely no bitterness.  That day they were also serving a Rolindo Bourbon Rwanda, said to be a limey caramel blend, and Kenyan Thirik described as "lemony."

I was given a ceramic cup for drinking, and the extra poured into this very scientific-looking beaker.

The sculpted heads in the corner kept us company.


When we left, there was a big pallet of coffee beans waiting outside.