May 31, 2006

Hate the smell of chemicals in your home or on your skin? Worried about what you're flushing down the sink drain? Environmentally conscientious but still want things that work?

Myself, I've been called a "domestic bohemian" and a "pampered hippy". I think what people are getting at is that I try to do my best by the environment and my body, but I still like products that WORK!

Recently I've discovered some new products and rediscovered some old ones and I thought I would share my recommendations for anyone who cares.

For cleaning house:

1. Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap (you can choose any other scent but I particularly like this one). I rediscovered Dr. Bronner's while at someone's house who used it on their floors. I used to use it to kill white flies on herb plants and in a pinch for soap and shampoo. I don't recommend it for shampoo as it seems to leave my hair tangled and a bit dry. HOWEVER, I discovered that it does make an excellent floor cleaner, is great on the bathtub and sink, and even for dishes. When mixed with hot water it dissolves soap scum and dirt easily, and no gloves needed since it's all natural! It does also make a great soap if you run out of deoderant and keeps you odor free all day.

2. Sun and Earth dish soap and all purpose cleaner. Mmmmm, smells like orange, suds but rinses easily. And the benefit of putting money into a small conscientious company.

Body products:

1. Burt's Bees has some of the best natural make-up around. I prefer natural because it feels better on my skin, and isn't perfumed. Their lip tints are the best for every day casual wear when you don't want to wear full on lipstick.

2. Burt's Bees pore refining mask. This is the absolute best clay mask I've ever found that isn't high cost. This is what turned me on to Burt's Bees in the first place. Totally transforms the skin.

3. Just found the best best wax kit EVER! It's called Moom, also all-natural, not actually a wax but works the same. Comes with reusable cloth strips and the stuff is soooo easy to rinse off. Just warm water and it comes right off. For men and women, for face and body, I highly recommend it. HIGHLY.

4. Also just found an essential oil perfume that I actually like. Tunisian Opium...yummy.

5. Tea Tree Oil. You need to have this in your medicine cabinet. Especially if you spend time outdoors. I've used this for so many things for myself and children. Helps clear acne, natural antiseptic, kills skin fungus like athlete's foot, repels ticks and mosquitos (also removes ticks), put a few drops in steamy water and inhale to open airways and clear congestion ...I know there's tons more. Just about any skin or scalp condition you can think of except ones that need moisturizing.

That should hold you for a while. Got any recommendations for me?

May 28, 2006

May 26, 2006

100 Words of Innocence - Knowing of Truths

Before we meet, before the first kiss is gifted, before I smell the scent of your neck, before your hand brushes a bare bit of my skin, before the space between us is closed, there is innocence.

I know nothing of you before these moments…no more than a stranger can know, no more than the truths you try to tell me. These truths are not real truths, they are only reflections of truths. Real truths are in the knowing of skin and what our eyes say to each other during passion or anger or in the soft light of morning

(The image is a woodcarving by Jean-Claude Gaugy:


Prayer Feet

May 25, 2006


Growing Down

He grew down instead of up. Sometimes people do that. It's not that he didn't try, but he built his stairs like a house of cards, only without grace and patience. It couldn't bear the weight of his pain.

He found it easier, when the cards began to fall, to go down..gravity and velocity his companions. He tried to take me with him, grabbed my ankles as he fell, and God help me I almost went. But my resolve to live was stronger than his pain, stronger than the force of gravity.

I didn't bother struggling. I slicked my ankles with vaseline, watched him slip, and said good-bye.

(Image from:

He Shuffles His Feet

Driving this morning, I see him walking. Old man with a fisherman's hat, walking slowly. Maybe it is because I am halfway to 70 that I wonder if I will love an old man someday. If I will find the stoop in his shoulders and the shuffle of his feet endearing. If I will kiss his thinned softened lips and still feel a little spark.

As it happens in imperceptable increments, will I notice him growing old with me? Or will we look at each other and see each other exactly as the day we met?

May 20, 2006

It Has Begun...

This morning is the Ivy Day Parade...a Smith College tradition. "Junior ushers lead a parade through campus, carrying vines of ivy (laurel vines) to be planted by the departing seniors as a symbol of their lifelong connection to the college. " Then we seniors will line the street, and Smith Alumnae will march through us by class year, led by a marching band.

It is quite a sight to see the alumnae who range in ages from their 20's to 80+. All lively, and still very connected to their Alma Mater.

I do love Smith.

May 17, 2006

Wolf in the Laundromat

He sits in his car, with the door open, his long legs hanging out of the car...his shaggy head bent over a newspaper. He looks up as I walk by with the first of four baskets. He smiles and my heart pinches, shrinking in on itself. He is a predator. I know this when he smiles.

You see, the predator cannot be distinguished by any physical quality. He can take the shape of any man. You can't see it in the cut of his clothes, the style of his car, his walk, or the way he styles his hair. There are no tell-tale outer markings. He can wear a business suite and languish comfortably in board room chairs. He can coach children's soccer. He can wear the collar of God. He can run on the night streets and howl. He can breathe comfortably in the smoke of bars. He can stretch in the sun-warmed flesh of an athlete. He can rest inside the mind of the intellectual. It is a complex and subtle play of movement in his smile or in his eyes that reveals the predator inside.

A change in the eyes, quick, like the flash of a lightning bug in the dark heavy air of a summer night. There and gone. You peer, trying to predict when it will flash again, wonder to yourself if you imagined it.

I watch him out of the corner of my eye as I walk past, waiting for it. There, again...a certain hunkering of posture, a feline liquid swivel in the neck. And then the smile. So close to revealing the animal within that my skin begins to hum like a tuning fork, in tune with the hint of growling down deep in the throat behind his smiling teeth.

The children run up ahead of me into the laundromat, settling themselves into the blue cushioned seats below the television set that hangs in the corner. They crane their necks to see the cartoons playing.

"You have a lot of laundry there," he says as I pass with the third basket. This is what he says. But his smile says, "I see you. I see your small frame, and your tiny hands. I could take you in here, fold you in my strong arms, secure, and then tight. Devour you, take you inside to warm my empty belly. When your life slips away and you have moved from warm to cold, I will spit out your bones and slip into the night. I have time, child...I am patient."

I smile back, "Yes, two kids generate a lot of laundry."

Inside, I drop the basket on the counter, breathing in the humid perfumed air of the laundromat. I go back for the last basket.

"More?" he feigns surprise and lifts one eyebrow to emphasize it.

I nod and continue past him, careful not to walk too close...careful to keep my scent from his nostrils.

This time as I approach with my basket, he doesn't look up. He is bent over his paper. I come closer, closer still, and just at the moment he could look up to meet my eyes, he rustles the paper.

With fast feet I move past. My skin prickles and I imagine his hot breath chasing down the curve of my neck and spine. When I turn to look, he is still there, in his car, looking at me...smiling.

Inside I am safe in the company of flourescent lights and the mellow rhythm of the washers and dryers. I begin to sort the clothes into their piles of color and delicacy. Hot pinks and reds, denims and greens, stark whites for the hot bleach wash, and cashmere and silk for a gentle machine.

Suddenly his shoes are there in front of me. I stare at them while my hands continue their work. The shoes are brown, soft and worn. They are harmless. Those shoes can't tell you he is a predator.

My eyes move up to the denim swathed legs. His jeans are clean and unassuming. The faded blue kind that anyone can wear, and everyone does. Nothing there to indicate that underneath pulses the blood of a predator.

My eyes continue upward, to his chest and the earthy flannel shirt that rests atop muscle and flesh. It is buttoned nearly to the throat, above which is exposed the suntanned column of skin that leads to his chin. is there, in his smile. The wolf smile. I feel the flash in his eyes and look up to catch it, but it is gone.

"I hate having to come to the laundromat", he says. "It's such a process. Such an event, you know?"

But his smile says, "I like the smell of your fear. If I turn my head just so, close my eyes, I can imagine what you would be like. I am patient. Just stand there, let my idle chatter distract you as I step closer, until you feel the warmth, and it is too late. No need to get to know me, I am pure instinct. No need to get to know you, you are but trembling flesh."

"Mmmm", I hum in agreement. I work at ignoring him. He retreats to the vending machine, pondering the selection, inserts his money and retrieves a soda. I watch him as he walks over to the television, standing just behind the chairs where my children sit. I call to them to come help me, but they ignore me. I move from washer to washer, inserting the clothes, the soap, the quarters, pushing buttons.

A dryer buzzes. He turns to check if it belongs to him, and it does. He walks toward it and I realize I am in the middle of the space between him and the dryer. I hold my breath, bracing for the static of air, the pulse of energy that will bounce off my senses. I try not to look up, but I feel safer if I do, knowing that my gaze will hold in place the human mask that covers the fur and fangs.

The flesh around his eyes crinkles as he smiles at me. When he is past, I breathe. I grab a magazine from a stack and sit next to the children, not looking up. I listen to the sounds of his folding, the rustle of fabric rubbing on fabric, the soft puffs of warm air escaping their hiding places inside t-shirts and pant legs, the snap of towels as he whips them into straightness.

I hear the scrape and creak of the wicker basket he carries his clothes in as he lifts it from the counter, and then the soft padding of his brown shoes across the floor as he leaves. And if I turn my head just so, and close my eyes...underneath the sound of soft padding, I can hear toenails clicking on linoleum.

May 15, 2006

Six More Days

Commencement (yes, Smith is backwards) is in six days. Sorry to keep counting down, but people, I've been here duking it out academically for four years! I'm allowed to tick the days off.

In the next three weeks I have to:
Plan a graduation party
Plan a move
Plan a trip to Austria and Bavaria.

Yes, that's right, this all happens between now and June 2. If my head didn't explode from the end of semester push, it surely will now!

Actually, I'm doing remarkably fine. I feel quite pleased, giddy, and the excitement continues to grow. I just need to stay healthy over the next few weeks and I'll be fine.

Hope the sun is shining wherever you are, because it sure as hell isn't here!

This Damn Bird

I just want to preface this post with the fact that I love animals. You know I do.

However, there is a bird living somewhere on the side of our house. The side where all my apartment windows face. It repeats the same "chirrup tweet twitter tweet" at two second intervals...all day...all night. It never seems to move. Never seems to eat. Never seems to SHUT UP!

This bird is driving me to homicidal thoughts! Especially when trying to sleep. I dream of sling shots and letting loose my cat. I dream of rubber bands wrapped around a certain...little...BEAK!

At night I writhe in my bed going mad at this bird's insistent chirping. It drills into my head and nothing seems to drown it out. I put the pillow over my head but then I can't really breathe properly. I put the blanket over my head but it's not thick enough. I turn the fan on, but I still hear it!

Does anyone have a slingshot I can borrow? Just for a day?

(If you think I would ever actually cause harm to an animal...well, you should know me better than that.)

May 07, 2006

A Burial

Outside, a slate November sky hangs low, its belly resting on the rooftops of our neighbors' houses. From this, I know to wear my blue parka, the one with the deep pockets and fake fur lining the hood.

I grab my red wagon and drag it, clattering, down the front steps. I don't like the noise it makes as I pull it behind me down the sidewalk. I like silence, but the noisy wagon is essential to my walks.

Secretly, I am pleased that the street is empty. No people, no cars. Everyone is at church except parents are atheists. My parents are asleep in their big brass bed that is as high as the tip of my nose. I am also thankful for that. Alone is how I like to be in the world.

A few feet in front of me I see her, laying stiff on the cement. I close the gap and squat down to look more closely. A mother squirrel, of this I am sure. No did she die here? There is something coming out of her that looks like yellow eggs. I think these must be her babies.

Tears spill, not for her death, but because she will never know her babies and they will never know her. Because I knew the place where she fell meant that something had taken her life, something Because she should not be left to rot on this street made of oily asphalt.

Carefully, I pick up her rigid body and place her gently into the wagon. I walk more slowly now, trying to avoid the bumps in the sidewalk. I look back to make sure she is not jostling too much, and I cringe when I see her furred body slide from side to side.

I bury the mother and her babies in the brown dirt beneath the bowed branches of our weeping willow. This is where my own mother plants bulbs every year. I won't tell her...she would be mad.

Still my babies...

He is 14...soon to be 15. As tall as me easily. When I kiss him goodnight, on the top of that head, beneath all that hair and boyish business I can still smell the baby - still smell the smell from the day he was born.

"Mom? I can't fall asleep. Will you lay down with me for a while?"

I follow her into her room. The window is open and it is cool. I lay down beside her and I feel her fingers, child fingers, crossing my face in the dark, searching for my ear. She places one of her headphones in my ear and we are listening to Joni Mitchell together, breathing together in the dark with our toes wiggling in rhythm.

May 01, 2006

Senior Ball 2006
"The Great Gatsby"