Category Archives: Rants and Laments

Distracted

The presidential campaign continues to distract me. I know I’m not the only one who feels she is in limbo, unable to read or even watch TV much, because of the driving need to consume news stories and op eds about the candidates.

I have to know the latest. This week it was: has Trump finally gone too far (dare we hope)? Maybe it is true, as some say, that he never wanted the job and it’s only a matter of time before he folds (dare we hope?).

Is there any remedy for ‘post-factual’ politics (George Will’s term)? If in fact Trump’s followers are willing to accept belief as fact when it suits their purpose, what place does rationality have? John Oliver captured this dilemma well the week after the RNC.

Does it help to blame Roger Ailes, Fox News, the Tea Party, our education system, or the ghost writer of Trump’s book, “The Art of the Deal” (who sounds like he’s practically suicidal for his part in aiding Trump’s ascendancy –described here, in a New Yorker article)? Or to call to task all those lame Republicans who have either endorsed the lunatic or remained silent out of fear of messing up their own political ambitions?

Meanwhile, I also collect scathing condemnations of the ‘purity vote’ which strikes me as another form of being unhinged from reality, but from a place of sanctimonious delusion rather than reactionary xenophobia. Who are these people that cannot fathom that sitting this one out or voting for “Jill fucking Stein” (radio host Dan Savage’s name) is to risk turning our country into a flaming dumpster? Maybe Sanders now regrets waiting so long to endorse Clinton, seeing as how so many of his followers do not seem to understand that they are voting ‘in the real world’ (his words).

Occasionally, I hiss in the direction of Lexington, Mass., which is not very far from here, since that is where Jill Stein is from.

Here’s where I need to cite the best article I’ve read so far about the double standard applied to Hillary Clinton, which doesn’t convert her from crook to saint, but does put the unrelenting attacks against her into a serviceable framework of sexism. Too bad the ‘jail Hillary’ folks don’t give a rat’s ass about facts.

It would be like a circus if the stakes weren’t so high. It might even be hilarious if it didn’t reveal the underbelly of our society and just how wide and deep the divides are between various factions.

I hadn’t intended to write this. But maybe I needed to document this craziness as a way to manage it.

Meanwhile, the mundane business of caring for trees, scrubbing scuff marks off of baseboard, making herb butter, vacuuming up dog hair, and a little bit of stitching keep me sane. Good thing, too.

We removed an ailing Rose of Sharon and took some low hanging limbs off of one of our catalpa. I got some quotes for long-deferred tree work. Since we are going from paying two tuitions last year, to paying none this year, we can spring for this. There are big dead limbs in a chokecherry out back. A maple out front with branches tangled in the wires. A four-trunked maple at the side that is compromising our roof. It will feel really good to take care of these trees.

Lost Orgasms or Zero Faith


Where do all the missed orgasms go? Do they stuff themselves into pelvic bones, later to afflict the unsatisfied with bursitis? Do they congregate in the shadows, behind the bureau, say, to become part of what haunts us in the half light when we are alone and already unsettled? Maybe they fly off like the geese that passed overhead this morning while I was walking the dog, barely visible in the fog, honking their lament.

Their ultimate destination ought to depend on how close they came to deliverance, so that the ones that never even stood a chance would go to one graveyard, while the ones that shunted off to the side seconds before blossoming into shuddering, clamping pleasure would go to another, presumably more exalted, resting place. The really near misses might properly be housed in a mausoleum, one lined with stone-carved lilies and angels. Wouldn’t it be nice to offer your disappointments a bouquet of flowers now and then? I would choose red roses, even if rock n’ roll cliché resided in every soft, perfumed fold.

The sorting of failed pleasure feels like a job for Pluto, that merciless lord of the Underworld. If you recall, he’s the guy who sucked Persephone down from a field of flowers where she had been skipping along in innocent glee, a mere handful of yards from her doting mother. What a way to lose your virginity! I’ll have to go back for clues. Are there any hints that Persephone grew to enjoy her year-long subjugation? Or maybe even that she enjoyed it right from the very first bloody, hymen-breaking start?

Maybe the collective missed orgasms sail down to the Underworld and settle in the young girl’s loins, giving her one thudding, yelping orgasm after another, so that in spite of being held captive by a foul-breathed master of cruelty with no capacity to care for her, she at least has that release – or dare I say — ‘fun’?

Probably unspent female pleasure serves no purpose whatsoever — either noble or trivial. And, think about it, if it could serve some greater aim than the simple satisfaction of its participant, why would it choose a story about rape, where the mere whiff of female enjoyment can be so easily misinterpreted by male listeners, the coercive ones that want to believe in their decency but shouldn’t?

All the skewed notions, why add fuel to the fire? On the other hand, why let certain malevolent others have power over the range of my inquiry?

And while we’re talking about women’s pleasure, how about the cinematic female orgasm? You know the one – the grinding mutual orgasm that takes four seconds and requires penetration only. It’s astonishing how ubiquitous it is. Here’s one of many versions: guy shoves lover up against wall while yanking up her skirt, enters her, pumps four or five times to much deep-throated moaning on her part, at which point they climax together. Four seconds, four or five thrusts of his member. To watch any screen for any amount of time gives the impression that there are lots of women going commando in black pencil skirts having way more fun than I do.

Just to be clear. I have fun. Okay?

I would give almost anything to see that improbably hot detective or that leggy, single mother who looks like she just stepped off the cover of Vogue, shove her lover back, look him square in the eye and ask with unfettered disdain, “Are you kidding me? That’s it?!”

You could call the cinematic four second female orgasm (with penetration only) a male orgasm with tits. But the better view is that the quick, ecstatic humping we see time and time again stands in as pure male fantasy, something akin to the letters published in Penthouse, which even as a fourteen year old babysitter scanning the text surreptitiously, I knew to be pure fiction.

Can you imagine the relief that would flood this planet if women came as predictability, quickly, and with as little reliance on circumstance as men did? In four seconds with penetration only, in other words? Like they do in the movies?

I know women have these kinds of orgasms, and some women have them routinely (and I hope I don’t need to point out that to assert as much would require obnoxious gloating and very personal revelations?) For the sake of discussion, let me say that at no time have I come in four seconds while being pushed up against a restaurant bathroom stall wearing a pencil skirt with no stockings or underwear on. The point isn’t whether these brief climaxes happen or not — I know someone who came while dining out and enjoying a plate of shrimp, for God’s sake — but why that’s all we ever see, time and time again… the one version that just happens to be congruent with male fantasy.

I’m reading a well-written debut novel that features a lot of sex. In chapter after chapter, we are treated to a whole range of ways to have it, to enjoy it, and to be hurt and baffled by it. The protagonist is a privileged, self-destructive twenty-something who wanders through the sordid bedrooms of S&M, but also lies down in a fragrant eucalyptus grove and comes three times while enjoying the great California outdoors. At the author’s reading in Cambridge, her introducer focused a bit on the self-destructive and violent parts in a way that obscured the more subtle experiences described. Leave it to a guy to fail to mention the female protagonist’s multiple orgasms or her bland and recurring let downs.

I wish I’d said, “You don’t have to be a wanton 20-something hell-bent on self destruction to be bewildered or disappointed by sex. Hello? Anybody?!”

Instead, I raised my hand and asked if she wrote with pen or keyboard.

There was some pretty gross shit in there. But still, I’d rather read a passage about a feckless young woman being enamored with the vulnerability of a man’s ass as he walks away from their bed, even if they just shared a violent interchange that I can’t relate to at all than see that god damned four second improbable climax on the screen again. The fact that the novel’s passage is so wholly, explicitly, and credibly told from a female perspective makes it food for the soul. Scene after scene produced feelings of recognition and I doubt that I am alone in this.

The dog I walk does not look up at the passing geese. More and more I’m seasonally confused – remind me – what time of year is it?! He tugs at the leash and lunges, hackles raised, bark, bark, barking his head off at other dogs – sometimes, not always, and never for the dog walker. It’s an at least twice daily reminder that life is difficult. This is the dog I got. This is the life I got.

The embroidered pouch slung across my shoulder once held coins for wending my way – sometimes the change exacted by the ferryman in order to cross the dark river, sometimes as shiny offerings for Demeter when she missed her daughter the most. Now it stinks of beef. I offer up hot dog chunks to the dog in hopes of rewiring his canine circuitry into something friendlier, more manageable, more normal. “Please god,” I say at least twice a week. That I have zero faith in our strategies – strategies paid for with bloody dollar bills, by the way – I can only hope has no impact on their efficacy.

Arriving home, I look out over the still misty ground to what remains of the now abandoned play structure. There, I can just make out the black, spray painted letters that spell out: ‘ZERO FAITH’. Probably scrawled during one of the boy’s passages through middle school. Could be a skateboard brand. Or a song. Probably also a declaration. It makes me wonder: does misery pass through the body’s code, along with hair color and shoe size? Please don’t answer, I already know.

img_2642Notes: This was written to an ‘object prompt’ in a writing class. My object was a black cloth zippered bag embroidered with flowers.

A lament is a bit like a rant in that it resorts to stylized exaggeration. A rant uses the lens of anger and irritation, while a lament is more elegiac. In other words, don’t take this as autobiography. It’s more like sharing a dream.

The novel referred to is, “Wreck and Order” by Hannah Tennant-Moore. I plan to post reviews on Goodreads and Amazon (and maybe here) and so I am ruminating about the novel. I haven’t quite finished, but can certainly recommend it. It is a stunning literary debut.

Finally, after reading this to my husband, he recommended not posting– not because it includes stuff about sex, but because it is so grim. Well, this may be unwise, but I trust all 35 of my readers to hold this a certain way.

returning to some routines

snow-roof-deemallonWhat a time has just passed — intense, unbelievable, white, white, white!  The colliding conditions of a record-setting winter and adopting a puppy ‘with issues’ made for a time that was both debilitating and exhilarating. In some ways, the conditions forced simplicity. Can’t go visit friends. Boom. Can’t run errands. Boom. And, the positives were heart-melting and pure — joyful play in the snow with an exuberant creature… warm, snuggles on the couch with a super affectionate dog. Those liquid brown eyes. That wagging tail.  A winter wonderland.

In other ways, the collision forced complicated, constant accommodations that were exhausting. Fence maintenance. In and out multiple times a day in the WORST weather. Scrambling to sign up for canine training classes and finding none for weeks on end because they, like so much else, were cancelled. And then there was the snow removal. And more snow removal. And snow removal yet again.* (*repeat three times).

I felt like I’d been dropped into an alternate universe — one I wasn’t sure I wanted to inhabit.  The loss of the empty-nest compensations (neat house, control of my time) slapped me in the face, every day. Every hour of every day?IMG_8221Inside, a puppy-proofed living space with its bareness and intermittent piles of chewed destruction seemed unreal. A crate where there was once a dining room table. All sewing supplies stashed four-to-five feet up. Outside, the vast banks of snow made us “strangers in a strange land”.*  What happened to the road?  The sidewalk?  Our fence?!!  Could the sky really be delivering yet another foot of snow?!

Writing classes were cancelled because of narrowed streets. K worked from home OFTEN because the T kept shutting down. Social engagements were declined with embarrassed apologies about the slow pace of crate training or road closures. I took to ordering myself groceries online right after I ordered for my sister, whom I did not see for a record three (or was it FOUR?) weeks running. Nothing was business as usual.

I didn’t recognize myself either. I became a person who talks about the weather. . . someone who watches the news and then plans accordingly. To go outside (which was OFTEN, with the dog), I wore two layers of down, leggings under my pants, and kept four pairs of gloves and two pairs of boots at the ready, in various stages of drying. I wore a ‘boarding style’ hat because it hugged the crown and could be pulled low over my forehead.

And… I realized I wasn’t yet a ‘dog person’. Turns out, caring for Jack had been a lot like having a cat. He came to us a sedate two year old, just wanting food and love. So easy!

Finn is a whole other story:  1) he’s a puppy;  2) he’s a working breed; 3) he exhibits leash aggression to other dogs (not people, thank goodness!). In other words, he needs honest-to-goodness training. Can’t really do that WITHOUT becoming a ‘dog person’.

All of this became part of a response to a prompt in last week’s writing class. Maybe I’ll post some of it tomorrow? It’s a full-fledged rant, so we’ll see.  They tend to be revealing.

Anyway, rant or no rant, I’m back. Thanks for returning faithful readers! I can’t wait to catch up on your blogs.


window-snow-shadows-deemallonsnowbanks-deemallonpuppy-snow-deemallon*  (I didn’t know that phrase came out of the lips of the prophet Moses until yesterday, reading W.E.B. Du Bois).

techno bumps

DONE – FIXED.  So, I couldn’t post the little felt disk photo that I took with my phone a little while ago right from flickr, which is what I wanted to do — Instead, here is a picture of a tray from the basement, which I shot a few days ago.

Our basement is currently riddled with mice, and my general tolerance for the critters has been worn away.  This winter has been characterized by finding their nests and food stores in so many of my fabric bins, that even I am a little grossed out (we have been killing three-four-five a week with traps).  At least the dog food now lives in a mouse-proof bin, so that they aren’t busy transporting those nuggets into little caches all over my studio.

Even WITH my tolerance at an all time low, I see this dead baby and wince.  What killed it, I wonder?  How can I throw it out?  Even as it begins to stink, I can’t bring myself to dispose of the tiny body, curled into death… so vulnerable, so small!

Silence as a Crime and It takes Five Women (Rant)

About 8" tall - "Silence is a Sin"

That is my Bernie Law Doll.  I made him a batch of years ago, but apparently he wants to come out and watch the news this week.  (Sorry for some of the pictures, which suck, but which also demonstrate a curve of learning to recognize and celebrate).

Wickipedia on the infamous dude –

“… despite substantial amounts of documentation that demonstrated deep involvement with covering up the molestation of 1,000’s of children, Law refused to step down as Archbishop of Boston… ”

And, as if that weren’t bad enough, the Catholic Church promoted him by shipping off to Rome and making him a member of the College of Cardinals (whatever THAT is).

So that’s old news.  But turning to August of this year?   The Boston Globe reported an in-depth story about the tennis coach, Bob Hewitt, who apparently abused his female tennis students for years, even after complaints were lodged against him in the 1970’s.

How’s this for a comment by someone in an official capacity (John Korff, director-at-large of the US Tennis Association, who knew Hewitt ‘back in the day’):

“Gee, it’s nice of the girl to pop up 35 years later,’’ Korff said. “Give me a break.’’

Wow.  Later apology not believed! Korff’s comment stinks of monstrous disdain and ignorance (but I won’t use the words ‘sexism’ or ‘misogyny’ here because somehow those have become dirty words with a whole host of knee jerk reactions by people from all over the political spectrum).

After decades of holding it together, the victim referred to above (Heather Conner),  broke her silence publicly in the very year that one of her daughters turned the age she had been when the abuse started (14).  Her life began to come apart at the seams in an arc of survivor behavior that is not uncommon (and probably well-documented in the annals of psychology).  Hewitt, by the way, apparently sneered to a journalist, “Why is she coming forward NOW?”

And now Penn. State – in which the beloved, long-serving coach ought to have done better than alert campus police about a fifteen year history of abuse by his assistant.  He ought to have believed that those who held him in such high esteem, his players,  ten year old boys using his facilities deserved protection.  In 1998, (1998!!!), Sandusky (the assistant coach, or as I shall call him, “the Head Fiddler” – HA~  Craig Ferguson – you can use this if you like) ADMITTED to ‘inappropriate contact in the shower room’.  And well, guess what beloved coach?  This is on your hands too, not just Sandusky’s — all the candlelight vigils in the world and all the tweeting and honking in the world will not absolve you of your failure.  Fiddling with young boys in the shower is a crime.  ‘Head Fiddlers’ belong in prison, not in steamy showers with boys.  You do not report crimes to the dean, to the athletic director, or to campus security.  You report crimes to the police or the D.A.

Hello Herman Cain?!!  Oh god, give us a break and go away.  Back in law school, it was noted often when studying Title VII, that it took 4-5-6 women’s allegations to bring a creep down.  In other words, in a “he said/she said” situation, even with the protection of the Constitution and the federal laws built around the Constitution, it took four, five, six women’s word to overcome one perpetrator’s claims of innocence.  This was in the late 80’s, but it appears that some things have not changed all that much.  Herman Cain’s accusers have reached the critical weight.

P.S.  I thought Clarence Thomas was a pig, too, and that does not make me a racist.

I should re-read this a few more times and then probably decide not to post it (rants are risky, always risky), but I have already spent too much time here and I’m gonna take the risk (can always pull it down later, right?)

BTW – Bernie’s cape (you know how those Catholic figures of authority love women’s clothes!) – is made by sandwiching fibers between two layers of water soluble film, stitching them on the machine, then dissolving the plastic — this is exactly what I need to go make samples of for tomorrow’s ‘Creative Quilting’ class.

charity art auctions

thank you Sandy Donabed for posting this quote

and thank you Mat Gleason, an Art Critic for the Coagula Art Journal,  for writing it —

There is a tradition of auctioning original works of art donated by artists to raise money for charitable causes. There are many good causes that hold such events. No matter how good the causes, though, I have come to the conclusion that artists must stop donating to every single one of them.
Don’t ever donate your art to a charity auction again. Half a century of charity art auctions have changed the way collectors buy art. These fundraisers have depressed prices of art across the board and kept artists in a subordinate position that has no career upside or benefits.
Instead of tossing away another great artwork to a good cause, join the good cause of boycotting charity art auctions. When you join this cause …
•You stop taking revenue out of the art world
•You stop shifting art collector dollars to the bottomless pits of recurring annual Beg-A-Thons
•You don’t contextualize your art as being a synonym of pretentious panhandling
•You don’t announce that your art is worth low bids
•You don’t risk that your work will be publicly seen getting no bids
•You don’t empower strangers to devalue your artwork
•Most importantly, you stop publicly proclaiming that you give your art away
The argument against me is simple: Donations of art to charity auctions raise money for good causes and raise the profile of artists who put their art in the public eye. It is a good argument. It has worked well. This seductive sales pitch has pulled in countless millions of dollars over the past few decades.
Problem is, this argument has not lived up to its bargain. Sad news: Your profile got humiliated because the collector got such a bargain on your art. If your art was one of dozens of trinkets on a wall with a hundred other artists, your profile actually disappeared there in the crowd anyway.
I would love to hear the story of the artist whose career rocketed to success because he or she donated a work to a charity auction and this act alone tipped the first domino toward an avalanche of success coming his or her way. This narrative is always implied. I’ve never seen it happen.
Charity art auctions are the emptiest of promises to artists: you give us your work, you get nothing in return except a party invite to an event where you are a second class citizen. Watch as the price of what you really will let your work go for is nakedly advertised to the select group of people to whom your work is meant to be seen as rare and desirable.
Suppose you want to at least deduct a donation of your art to the charity, guess what? The law only allows an artist to deduct the cost of materials. Meanwhile a collector can buy your work for the minimum bid, have it appraised at its full retail value and donate it to some other good cause for that top dollar amount.
As for the merits of the infinite number of good causes out there, what is the value in giving up a painting that would sell for a thousand dollars retail in order to see it raise 50 Bucks for that cause? Pick one charity, donate generously and keep the collectors assuming that the price you ask at the gallery is the best and only price they are going to get.
Someone has to be the bad guy here, so you can blame me for inspiring you to donate cash to a good cause and to keep your art career safe from the bargain bin. Print this out and send it with your regrets to anyone asking you to devalue your work in the name of glamorizing their efforts on behalf of yet another worthy cause in a world of infinite and endless good causes. Tell them the art stops here.

(reminds me of the chagrin I felt at a silent auction years ago where I priced my donated art quilt at $150 or something and the neighboring junk bead bracelet was priced as “priceless”)

Remind me please!

Remind me, please, of what a cool sanctuary my basement studio is this time of year.  Remind me, please, of how I lose myself there, and how in the losing, find myself drinking from the Deep Well, and am sated.  Remind me, please, to skip the drama of articulating my misery next time (i.e., this time tomorrow when I go into the office — on SUNDAY — to make copies, scans, and collate?!!) and just go straight to Source.  No detours.  No sharing my misery with others (what a nice way to put THAT!).

Tomorrow, I will see Shakespeare in the Park on Boston Common with friends.  With that on the calendar, perhaps the Drudge Monster will not gain purchase.

P.S. I clipped the magazine page ages ago because I fell in love with the composition and colors.  When I saw, today, that it is a Winslow Homer, I thought, “well no wonder I love it!!!”  SOME things in life are constant.