I’m not really a pumpkin juggler.

In the final analysis, the pumpkin probably had it coming. As for me, I fully accept responsibility for my role in the whole thing. Mistakes were made. I can’t say I didn’t have fair warning.

What I have heretofore and/or hitherto considered the agendized propaganda of the anti-pumpkin lobby turns out to have been uncanny insight into the malicious, nay diabolical intentions of autumn’s iconic decorative vegetable. Or edible front porch adornment. Adjust — and maybe sprinkle liberally with nutmeg — to suit your own personal belief system.

Did I listen to these people, these sage seers, these pumpkin-haters? Of course, I did! Their message, however dire, was entertaining.

Did I join their cause, vowing to squash the brewing Pumpkin Revolution? No. I did not. And that, my friends, is where my story begins.

Existential exposition and awkwardly inserted foreshadowing.

It may be worth noting that my confrontation with a heavy-duty Thermos ™ travel mug earlier in the week ended in a draw. The mug came away with a busted lid, and I came away with two broken fingernails . . . and no coffee mug.

Looking back, I think I came out slightly ahead in that one. I got to the coffee and that’s all that really matters.

Ok, maybe that wasn’t worth noting, but now that it’s out there, there’s not much either of us can do to un-note it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is life is a struggle, a struggle that often involves restricted access to caffeine and the resulting collateral damage to the feminine aesthetic. Nietzsche wrote that.*

Occasionally that struggle involves being assaulted by pumpkin, and that, my friends, is also where my story begins.

Sweet potato baby food: a gateway to pumpkin? You decide.

In the course of a lovely lunch with some groovy people, the conversation found its way, naturally, to pumpkin. You know how it goes: someone mentions sweet potato baby food and then someone else’s mind quantum-leapfrogs from orange mushy baby food to pumpkin and then takes another quantum leap to pumpkin spice latte. Here’s how it went down in real time –

Groovy person: [World's most adorable baby] likes sweet potato baby food. . .

Quasi-hippie, with sudden alarm: I haven’t had a pumpkin spice latte yet this year! 

Real time-lapse: About five seconds. And I wonder why my conversations often end with the other person staring at me incredulously.

I feel bad about that. I really do. I mean the quantum leap to pumpkin spice latte thing. Not the incredulous stares. Those I’m used to. And they’re perfectly justified.

A funny thing happened on the way to Starbucks.

All this talk about orange mushy food inspired me, naturally, to stop on my way home at a local pumpkin patch run by a volunteer organization raising money for a worthy cause. Even as I write that, it occurs to me that you don’t see many people selling sweet potatoes for a worthy cause. I wonder why that is.

(You’re staring at me incredulously, aren’t you?)

Fortunately for me, it’s still a little early in the season, so I roamed freely and at a leisurely pace — no need to knock crybaby toddlers out of my way** — in search of MY perfect decorative vegetable/edible porch adornment.

A nice man offered to carry any pumpkin that was too heavy to my car, and the conversation turned, naturally, to the long stems the pumpkin harvesters had left on these particular pumpkins, how they looked like handles.

Pumpkin in its natural state and in its caffeine-infused state.

Pumpkin in its natural state — except for the broken stem — and in its caffeine-infused state.

Despite having somehow avoided ever taking a physics class, I knew somewhat instinctively, if not by virtue of my own unpleasant dealings with gravity, that lifting a heavy pumpkin by its stem was probably not the best idea.

He wandered off. I found the perfect pumpkin and, by virtue of my fiercely independent nature, I decided to lift the 25-pounder on my own. Here’s how that went down in real time –

Me, inside my head: Bend at the knees, lift with your legs. . .steady. . . stand. . whatever you do, don’t drop . . .

What is it about negative thoughts that makes them so much more easily manifested than positive ones?

You can sign up for a marathon and think to yourself, “I am going to win this marathon!”  Chances are, by merely thinking it, you have not increased the odds of winning that marathon.

On the other hand, as soon as you think things such as “Don’t trip over that cord,” “Don’t mess this up,” or “Whatever you do, don’t drop this 25-pound pumpkin and then try to stop its momentum as it tumbles, thereby rolling it over so that it lands on its perfect faux-handle stem and, on its way down, breaks three of the eight fingernails that survived the coffee mug fiasco,” — you’ve significantly increased the likelihood of that very thing happening.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re training for a marathon, consider thinking repeatedly, “Whatever you do, don’t win this marathon!”

If you try this, please report back to me.***

In the best interest of everyone involved, the nice man carried my pumpkin to the car. We had a good laugh at how the stems probably weren’t meant as handles and how maybe using the seat belt would be in the pumpkin’s best interest. Looking back, I suspect the pumpkin was laughing, too.

I suppose it could be argued that pumpkins don’t laugh. I don’t know how we can know this for sure. So why bring it up?

Maybe because Laughing Pumpkins would be a good parody band name.

Pumpkin vengeance

It was just a short while later, as I waited in line at the nearest Starbucks for a grande cup of spicy-sweet, hot, fresh caffeine, that I noticed the true extent of injuries sustained in the Great Pumpkin Tumble, which I now suspect may have been real-time revenge on the part of the decorative vegetable/edible front porch adornment: an open wound.

That’s right: the wounded pumpkin had fought back and only one of us was bleeding.

In the final final analysis, I’m calling this one a draw, too. With the aid of a little antibiotic ointment, some rubber cement, and a few toothpicks, we’re both on our way to recovery.

Then again, maybe I come out a little ahead in this. I got my pumpkin spice latte. That’s all that really matters.

And in a few weeks, only one of us is going to become a jack-o’-lantern and/or pie.


Rubber cement and toothpicks figure prominently in a disproportionate number of my personal memoirs.

Rubber cement and toothpicks figure prominently in a disproportionate**** number of my personal memoirs.


*Or  not. I make things up. But if he’d had to shell out $40 a pop for a manicure, he would have written it. 

**I probably wouldn’t do that.

*** Don’t try this. I’m not really a sports psychologist. 

**** “Disproportionate” unless you’re McGyver. Rubber cement and toothpicks  figure prominently in his stories, too.

Look Who’s Walking.


It’s lilac season, and isn’t that a good thing?

This morning I got an email from Ottmar Liebert with secret links to new music and a photograph he took in Barcelona of what he thinks might be lilacs.

Here’s one link, to a tune called “quietrainmoss,” from his album “three-oh-five.” It’s definitely worth the listen, if only for the groovy sound he made with paper in his strings at about the 4:48 mark.

His email said that he thought the flowers in the photograph were lilacs, but curiously they didn’t have a scent. I wrote back to let him know that they still didn’t have a scent when the photo arrived in my in-box.

So there’s one more person who probably wouldn’t trust me with pointy objects.

In related lilac news, I had a Carly Simon-fest over the weekend that eventually landed me at her video blog on YouTube, where she makes these little snippets of video from her bedroom on Martha’s Vineyard. I love that island.

I dare say that if anyone else made those videos, one might be tempted to hide the pointy objects.

But they’re adorably, unabashedly, quirkily Carly, and I love them.

I also love ukeleles, avocados, pumpernickel bread, chocolate ice cream, Lucy, and falling into bed. And lilacs. Not necessarily in that order.

Today I walked three miles around my neighborhood. A month ago I could barely walk at all. Baby steps. Almost literally.

While I walked I had a Eudora Welty-inspired reverie, the seedling to a short story based on the fictional theory that Carly might be my long-lost mother. By the time I made it to the computer, it was less Eudora Welty and more nonsense.

To celebrate my three miles of baby steps, I took some photos of my neighbor’s lilacs.

They smell wonderful, but I suppose you’ll have to take my word for that.

Peace and lilacs and all that . . .






Postcard from the real world

This weekend  I decided to put aside deadlines and to-do lists, to take a break from the real world and spend some time in . . . well, the real world.

The weather was beautiful. I wish you were here.

I thought about how you would use your words to describe the beauty of the day and the freedom of the experience in poetry and prose, or how your cameras would capture better images.

I thought about telling you of this place , which I am not alone in thinking of as “Mayberry,” where the people are friendly, the children are always outside playing — riding bikes or skateboards, sailing, swimming, practicing lacrosse or basketball — and how even the teenagers politely wave and say “hello;” how the dogs are fat and happy, as dogs should be, too content to run away, too secure to feel threatened by strangers; how the local policeman sits watching to make sure things stay as they should be  and how he too smiles and waves, unless you’re breaking the speed limit.

I thought about how I never got around to writing about the lemonade stand, and how eagerly I await its next impromptu appearance to see how its sun-kissed, freckle-faced, giggly entrepreneurs have grown since last fall.

I thought about describing the landmarks — the Thomas Point Lighthouse and the U.S. Naval Academy and upcoming Commissioning Week, or telling you about the local competition between sailboaters and powerboaters out there on the open water.

I thought about how some of you would understand the experience of having forgotten how steep a certain grade is or how much farther 10 miles is to pedal  after a long winter indoors, but the feeling of wind and fresh air and sunshine is more than worth the achy muscles.

And I thought about the amusing theories you might have about the fat goose sunning itself on the pier and whether figgy pudding would figure into any of your theories.

Upon closer inspection, it appears s/he was armed and dangerous. I'm lucky to be alive to write this.

Upon closer inspection, it appears s/he was armed and dangerous. I’m lucky to be alive to write this.

But mostly I just  thought . . . about things like dandelions and buttercups, driftwood and rock walls, bonfires and magnolia trees, and fat, sunbathing geese . I breathed fresh air and I took pictures and soaked in enough sunshine to get myself through what threatens to be a rainy week, back in that other so-called  real world.

Wherever you are, I hope your weather is beautiful and your real world is as pleasant as a Saturday bike ride  in April.

Spring cleaning

I’m in the middle of packing for a move. It’s not a particularly happy move, nor is it a particularly unhappy move. It’s just time for change.

When I came to this beautiful community a few years ago, I knew it was temporary. The plan was to be here for a year. A year became two and two is closing in on three. I love being near the water. Watching the sun rise over the bay has been the highlight of every morning. Riding my bike along the shore in an even more beautiful community a couple of miles away has been the highlight of many weekends.

It’s the lowlights that are forcing the change, before I’m ready but long overdue.

Not long after I settled  in, I met a group of nice people who gather every Friday night in the warm months for a community barbecue. This very happy welcoming soon turned ugly when one of them turned out to be too “nice”. When I tried to politely decline his interest, he persisted in what eventually led to a police report and my need to sell my car and buy something less distinguishable, which I then parked in various locations to keep it from being the target of his vandalism. Nothing says “I want to be your boyfriend” like urinating on a person’s windshield, putting nails in her tires, and surrounding the car with a trail of Marlboro cigarette butts as a calling card.

Although I’m tired of checking the perimeter of my car every morning, even if it weren’t for this troubled soul, it would still be time for me to move on. I’m not meant to share walls. My downstairs neighbors are steeped in dysfunction that I can’t avoid overhearing, to the point that in recent months I’ve worried it might come to something serious enough that I’d have to call authorities . . . again. I am tired of sneaking in and out of my home to avoid the drama. The teenagers next door are almost finished raising themselves, so they don’t need me anymore.

I came here for a year of solitude and I am leaving nearly three years later exhausted from the melodrama of other people’s lives.

The Hipstermobile was an easy target. She has been replaced with a more easily camouflaged would-be urinal.

The Hipstermobile was an easy target. She has been replaced with a more easily camouflaged would-be urinal.

But I will miss the sunrises.

And I have a new car.

So it’s not all bad.

The clearing of the clutter has carried over to my desktop, from which I’ve been deleting old files, mainly silly pictures from some of the blog posts I’ve written in the past few years. This morning I came across a half-written post from who-knows-when about creativity and change. I do have a vague memory of transcribing Joni Mitchell’s words about Jimi Hendrix and his need to evolve as an artist without disappointing his fans.

The post likely went unwritten, ironically enough, because it didn’t seem in keeping with what would be of interest to readers of Le Cahier.

Since it’s March and most everyone is or will soon be engaged in some sort of spring cleaning, instead of deleting the file altogether, I thought I’d share her words  in case they might find whoever might stumble across this at just the moment they need to hear them.

Whether your March will find you welcoming a season of change or just a good clearing out of the sock drawers, I hope it’s a good one.

It’s very difficult for an artist to survive especially his first change, which is inevitable. I mean, you can go on being the same as you started but you’ll die inside. And the time that you make your first change, like when Dylan went electric at Forest Lawn, you have the wrath of your fans . . .they don’t know that if you don’t change, they’ll get tired of you. . . .

He was tired of playing the guitar with his teeth. . . . he wanted to do big band arrangements and stand still…and cut the theatrics, but every time he would try to do it, they would boo him and say, “Jimi’s not himself.”

So I always thought in a way it was a shame that he never made the change because he’s one of the great innovators and geniuses in this business.

September needs a beverage.

The plan was to leave the mids dancing on my screen for the week. I wasn’t going to post today or tomorrow or all week and if I have any self-discipline at all, might check in once a day at most.  There’s a bike that needs riding and some rooms that need painting and you don’t need to know about any of that.

For this one last check in, I read today’s post at Teachers and Twits (aka Renee, whose new computer has arrived and isn’t that a wonderful thing?). She wrote  something that spoke to my inner summer girl, which I read while sipping coffee and watching the sun rise over the marina, where the coming days and weeks will see the slips empty and the shrink wrap appear on those that remain, confirming the approach of winter.

I, too, am a summer girl. Over the past few years I have come to like fall, except for the dread of winter that lies just beneath its surface.  This year that dread crept in in August and I almost skipped the beauty of September, my favorite month. I’m spending this last week reminding myself to live in September.

Tastes best with two straws.

The first boy I  truly loved I met at a football game in the early fall, but my favorite memories of him are from the summers that followed. The day trips to the beach, the pink teddy bear he won at the arcade, the mock argument over what her name would be, the lemonade with two straws, his vegetable garden that grew waaaaay too much zucchini, which he then made into all sorts of zucchini dishes, his homemade apple pies, the boat he built by hand and named for his mother, the maiden voyage of the Margaret Ann, the time he walked me to the door, kissed me goodnight and did cartwheels back to his car, every single Christopher Cross hit.

I’ve been looking forward to the pumpkin spice latte days, but I already miss lemonade.

How many days until June?

I wrote a guest post and I have new bling.

I’d be honored if you read it (the guest post).  You can find it by clicking here.

You don’t have to read it, but yesterday was my birthday and it’s polite to be nice to the birthday girl, especially one who’s sporting new bling . . .

I went blue moon kayaking and all I brought you was this lovely glow ring. It’s sparkly.

. . . and who is reportedly ‘awesome” (I hate to brag, but it is in writing and now it’s in writing on the Internet, so it must be true).

From the guy who volunteers to call cadence so he can do it to the Imperial Death March.

Actually both mes enfants are creative and thoughtful . . .

Elvis made a birthday visit, bearing Blue Moon  . . .

. . . and cupcakes!

And just for fun, here’s Nanci Griffith singing about the blue moon. . .