Friday, April 22, 2016


This morning I dialed up my Prince playlist and listened as I walked my dogs through--wait for it--the cemetery.  I wasn't being all symbolic although it was apropos somehow to be wandering through a thicket of tombstones while hearing Prince in my ear talk about the afterlife.

I was surprised yesterday by how emotional I felt when I heard the news of Prince's death.  I've always said he was my favorite guilty pleasure, although now I'm wondering why I felt obliged to attach the "guilty" disclaimer.  (My other favorite guilty pleasure = AC/DC and yeah.  I should probably keep the "guilty" part in place for that one.)

Who knows why we love the music we love?  I could say Prince's music had a good beat and was easy to listen to.  I could also say that I admired his way with lyrics.  I often used "Raspberry Beret" when I taught creative writing because that song does so much kickass work in such a few short lines.


I was working part time in a five-and-dime
My boss was Mr. McGee
He gold me several times that he didn't like my kind
'Cause I was a bit too leisurely.

Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing
But different than the day before
That's when I saw her, ooh, I saw her
She walked in through the out door, out door

Think about all the work those two stanzas do.  We have "setting"--a five-and-dime.  We have "characters"--a grumpy employer, an underachieving clerk, and a girl who defies.  Dude.  She walk IN though the OUT door.

Great stuff, right?

But for all our fancy schmalzy analysis of why we like what we like--and the intellectual justifications for it all--humans connect with music in their gut.  And something about Prince and his mind-blowing, body-moving, foot-stomping funk punk vibe invited me into His Purple-ness's world.

Let's go crazy today, okay?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Lilac time

Is there any scent more evocative than that of lilacs in bloom?

This morning I was out trimming things up in the backyard when I had my first real hit of lilac fragrance of the season.  And suddenly here's where I was.  In Poland on a train twelve years ago, rumbling through the countryside with my brothers and our spouses and our parents.  Banks of lilac shrubs stretched everywhere--all in full, sun-shimmered bloom.  As I looked out the window and saw the rolling richness all around me, I felt the taste of my own heart and thought this:  I have never ever seen anything more beautiful than now.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The perks of being invisible

They say as you age you become invisible and HOLY COW, BATMAN it's kinda true.

But I'm discovering that there are advantages to this state.  One of them is that you can just stare, stare, stare away at people to your heart's content and nobody thinks you're being rude or nosy because hello.  They don't see you.

That's why I had fun staring at army guys running in Liberty Park today.  There was just all this patriotic testosterone in T-shirts floating around, which I enjoyed very much and nobody thought it was weird when I stopped my bike to take a look.

Although now that I write this down, I'm wondering if maybe this sounds a little weird after all.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Mother of boys, grandmother of girls

I had Bean (five year-old granddaughter's nickname) here for a sleepover last night.  We ate ice cream and colored and did lace-up cards.  This morning she wanted to dress herself and since I am a disaster on the clothes front, I said knock yourself out.

A little later after she joined me in my bedroom,  I noticed that there were sparkling reflections on the walls--like I had a big old disco ball hanging from my ceiling inviting me to put on my big hair and my Joan Collins earrings and GET DOWN TONIGHT!

Where were the sparkles coming from, I wondered.  And then I looked at Bean.  She had sparkles on her hair bows and sparkles on her shirt and when she twirled around it was Sparkle-Rama time at chez Cannon. and lo I did reflect unto myself that in all those years I was raising boys, there were never any sparkles on my wall.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Talking trees

When I was little we had an orchard.  I can still see my grandmother standing there when I snapped a branch off the tree and waved it like a wand.

"Ooooo," my grandmother said.  "You just hurt that tree."

"How do you know?"

"Because it told me."

This was all said in the spirit of play--she wasn't scolding me for tree abuse.  But ever since then I have always thought of trees as beings with stories to tell.  If only I could hear them.

I have been missing my grandmother something fierce lately.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

That one episode of Frasier

So whenever I visit the Texans, Dylan and I like to play "You Don't Know Jack"--a game (I'll go ahead and say it) I often win.


The game gets violent sometimes, especially during round 3, otherwise known as "The Jack Attack." I frequently resort to kicking people in their thighs and so forth.

Anyway, Dylan (who is good at the game, it must be said, and sometimes beats me) beat me every time we played it  And . . . I think that made us all a little said.  It's like that episode when Frasier finally beats Marty in chess and then feels remorse for knocking the old mountain goat off the mountain.  Or something like that.

Is this a corner one turns when one turns sixty?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Vegetarian for a day

Here's the deal.  I'm just a natural born carnivore, and I always have been.  Meat is milk to me.

Anyway.  I just spent a few days with the Texas family in Houston (aka H-Town, Clutch City, Crush City, City of Syrup, Screwston, and you're welcome for this bit of awesome trivia that might help you answer a question on Jeopardy) where I had a great Texas adventure, which included wandering through Bluebonnets in bloom, watching the Astros destroy the Royals,  and eating gator.

Yes.  Eating gator.

We went to a place called Cajun Cafe where I ordered up a plate of fried oysters and fried gator just for the novelty of it all so that one day I can casually insert into a conversation the fact that I have eaten alligator.  People, I imagine, would look at me with newfound respect, right?

But I kind of lost my nerve over it and by the time the dish arrived, I was throwing up in my mouth a little.  Why is it that I can eat cows and chickens and turkeys and pigs but somehow feel sickened by the idea of alligator?

How did it taste, my brother Jimmy wanted to know.  Fried, I said.  Also fatty and fishy.  But as soon as I ate it I resolved to become a vegetarian which I have been all day long.

It must be said, however, I want a hamburger tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Best pickup line EVER!

While at Shipley Do-nuts (please note the hyphen involved), my four year-old granddaughter was approached by a four year-old redheaded boy, carrying a toy lobster (?!) in his left hand.  He kind of waved it at her and then said, "I'm getting a sperm whale for my birthday."

He looked all kinds of pleased when he said this.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Reframing my weight issues

So, I had a fairly serious depressive episode last year (boo!) and lost twenty pounds (yay!)

Once I began feeling better I thought to myself, "Self!  Let's keep this here weight off."  And I did.  Until March.

Here's what happens in March.  Mrs. Backer's starts making hot cross buns during Lent, which means I have to go there every day and buy one.  Maybe two.  And then there are malted milk eggs to be had.  And then a certain birthday arrives.  And then also it must be said I start to crave hamburgers when the sun comes out.  So . . . . I inevitably gain weight in the spring.

And those twenty pounds I lost?  Well, they're rejoining the party that is my body.  Party on, pounds!

I've been distressed about this because I've always been that girl that had to/wanted to lose fifteen pounds.  Way, way, way lots of energy has been expended on the weight loss (real and aspirational both) front over the years.  And I've started to do that obsessing thing again.

But yesterday I had this thought:  why not feel pleased that I can eat again?  That food tastes good again.  That I don't have to dread food-related social encounters.  The pounds returning like homing pigeons are a sign that I am feeling well again.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Playing like a kid

This week Louise and I wrote about childhood pastimes.  I made a list.  I strongly urge you to do the same.

  • Riding my bike
  • Watching Gilligan's Island on summer afternoons
  • Reading
  • Climbing the foothills at the top of 4380 North
  • Coloring
  • Cutting out paper dolls
  • Weaving hot pads on plastic looms with nylon loops
  • Playing "orphans" with my neighbors
  • Turning cartwheels on the front lawn
  • Building dollhouses out of shoe boxes
  • Having sleepovers and telling scary stories about Weeping Marys
  • Tubing at Timp Haven in the winter
  • Hanging out at the cemetery
  • Daring boys to eat dirt or glue
  • Sleeping outside in the backyard
  • Watching for shooting stars and saying "another witch has died" whenever I saw one
  • Swimming
  • Playing dolls
  • Roller-skating and skateboarding
  • Walking and talking with friends
  • Playing tetherball (gosh!)
  • Playing football
  • Playing hopscotch and jacks
  • Reading Tales from the Crypt on my friend's front porch
  • Swinging
  • Singing into hairbrushes and pretending like my friends and I were the Monkees
  • Going to matinees
  • Getting dropped off at the Cottonwood Mall with friends because in those days Cottonwood Mall = Air-conditioned Babysitter

Monday, April 4, 2016

Recipe Box

I just finished a column about my recipe box and how all those handwritten recipes have a personal history that recipes pulled off the Internet just don't.  It was fun to go through my old recipes and remember me and my big hair in the kitchen when my kids were little.

I didn't put this one in my column because I figured it might buy me some trouble--trouble not worth causing--but I loved TRQ's recipe for "Vegetable Chow Ding."  I can imagine her discovering this one in the seventies when dang!  They started selling exotic stuff like canned "water chestnuts" (whole or sliced) and "bamboo shoots" in the grocery store where ordinary Americans could buy them.

Think of the possibilities!  Create a recipe.  Slap a made-up Chinese name on it.  And boom.  You're ready to go.

Friday, April 1, 2016

When TRQ was scary

On April Fool's Day, actually.  And on that day she was so scary.  SO SCARY.

I've written about this before, I know, but seriously if you had a mother who put dry dog food in your shoes and salt in the sugar bowl and green food coloring in your orange juice so that you thought you were drinking peas before you limped off to school (with dry dog food in your shoes), you would suffer from PSTD on April Fool's Day, too.

I will spend the rest of the day avoiding phone calls from my mother, y'all.