Saturday, June 27, 2009


He saw the pretty little bird, flitting from branch to branch, and he was captivated. He wanted to possess it. She flew to him willingly and went with him.

But she was never quite as lovely in her cage. Never quite the same as when he captured her. She didn't mind, sitting there in her comfortable cage.

But sometimes she wondered what it would be like

to fly again.

(Special thanks for this photo to Mark Lukach of Haraka Baraka, He has a great blog - go check it out. )

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Cruel Shutter

The more time goes by, the more I realize that memory might not be all I think it is.

Memory is supposed to be a recording, sortof, of things that a person has experienced in the past. But memory it tricky. People remember smells and sounds better than sights or events. I have an excellent memory, but I have come to realize that I have "remembered" things that didn't happen. How can that be?

If it is a very old memory, usually it's the memory of a physical place. I like to walk in the houses of my childhood in my memory, and also in my dreams. Schools, paths, buildings, I walk in my mind's eye. I try to remember the little details: weeds growing along the train tracks, items on a table or desk. I try to perfectly reproduce a place in my mind. Of course, in a dream, the proportions, layout and other important details are often altered or even completely different altogether. Yet I know that place. I am rememorizing the places, perhaps, in an attemt to keep them.

So why should I be surprised that my memory of my own face should be any different? We live in what we know, not what we see. I first noticed this when taking a dance class a few years ago. At one point, I looked up and couldn't pick myself out of all the dancers in the mirror. I was for a moment confused, and then realized that it wasn't that I wasn't there, I simply didn't look as I expected myself to look. In this case, I was surprised and quite disappointed in what I saw there.

Age changes everyone. Everyone gets their own special set of "old" gifts. In the case above, what had changed was not only my size, but the way I moved. I was disappointed to find that I was not as graceful or muscular as I'd imagined. As my memory had led me to believe. Was I ever? Was the dancer I remembered from days-gone-by real or imagined?

There is a festival I attend every year in Davis, California, The Whole Earth Festival. It's been amazingly great some years, merely a way to pass the weekend in other years. But increasingly, it's become the time and place to meet old friends long lost. I never know what faces from the past I will see, but there are many I expect to find.

This past year, I saw an old friend who is usually there. He and I had recently become "friends" on Facebook. He remarked that he was very glad to see that I looked better than my profile picture. He recommended that I take it down, calling it "unflattering." He really didn't like that picture at all! In particular, it sounded like he thought it made me look fatter than I really am. I dunno, I think it makes me look exactly as fat as I am. In fact, I thought I looked pretty good that day. But it's a profile picture. It really shows the shape my face is becoming as I age. Our profiles change dramatically as our faces succumb to gravity.

My friend has known me since I was 15 years old. In his memory, I may still be 15. Though he has seen me many times since, and even fairly recently, perhaps he was disappointed that I had changed. I wasn't in any way insulted by his comment - in fact, it felt good to know that he remembered me better than that picture. He felt that, even as I stood there in front of him, I looked better than that picture.

A photograph is an instant in time. That split-second when the shutter opens and captures whatever is there for it to see. In motion, animated and alive, people are different than their pictures. In a painting, the artist may imbue the picture with feeling, color and shape that he imagines. The artist may paint the whole picture if he is skilled. But the shutter is cruel. It takes only a slice. Sometimes what we receive is a remarkably good slice. We can even make it better by manipulating the photograph afterward, if we wish. Sometimes, the slice we receive is a remarkably bad slice - even looking nothing like the subject. Or we perceive it as looking nothing like the subject.

For how can the camera lie?

Like our memory, it doesn't tell the whole story. It's only a slice, not the multilayered reality of that moment. People are living, moving, breathing things, and our shapes change as we pass in and out of moments.

I've noticed that, since I had children, most of the pictures are of them. Since I, like most mothers, am holding the camera, there are few pictures of me. Additionally, if the pictures are unflattering (as they increasingly are!), then I'm less tempted to put them where they will be seen, preferring to offer photographs of my darling children instead. Youth is nearly always beautiful.

But will mothers be erased? Will the record of our lives skip from college party to obituary? Should we hide the true selves that we are - old, flawed, overweight, grey? At what point did we decide that those things are too ugly to photograph? I have the ability to erase every wrinkle from every photo before I show it to anyone. But that isn't genuine. Shouldn't there be a record of our genuine selves? Or are we hoping that the memories of us will remain youthful and those who love us remember us as we were? Can we overcome our fear of seeing ourselves as we truly are?

Someone told me once that the older we get, the more important it is to have those people around us who remember us when we were young. We treasure our siblings, for our shared memories. We treasure our high school and college friends - for they remember us as we remember ourselves. Young, vibrant, smart, strong. My dear friend has also changed with time. But when I look at him, of course I see the younger version. He's a good-looking man, even the older version. But he looks different. Not the way I remember. I am grateful for his memory of me as better-looking than Medusa up there. ("Was it the hair?" I asked.)

Photographs don't lie. Memories do. But I like my memories. I live in my memories.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Broom

This is my broom.

With which I lovingly sweep the floor.

And on which I occasionally fly to town.

The handle is rough, and sometimes hurts my hands.

But I don't care.

It's what I use when I feel like I love my job. When I love keeping my house clean. I get a special joy out of making things tidy. You'd think, if that was the case, that I'd clean more often. Somehow, it never seems to happen that way. I like to clean when I want to. Not when I have to.

This broom was handmade, and it's beautiful. The loop on the top is made of leather. The bristles are made of broom. It is a natural object, naturally part of domestic life. The bristles are blue. A friend gave me a wrought iron hook he made. A handmade hook on which to hang my handmade broom. It's the little things that make life a joy. Noticing that hook and thinking that it was made by someone I know. Knowing that it's unique and perfect and completely different from any other. It's a perfect place to keep my broom.

When I sweep I think of all the women that have gone before me. Sweeping kitchens, hearths, porches. We must always sweep. Sweep aside the dust of past to make room for dust of future.

Name Change?

Okay. After further consideration, maybe we need to change the name of this ship. Any suggestions?

The Modern Housewife, Modern Housewife and Housewife are all taken. None of them have any posts, and they date from 2005 all the way back to 2001. No way to contact the blog owners, either. Eventually, Blogger will be cluttered up with thousands of inactive blogs, good intentions and project beginnings. Who knows, maybe even TMH will end up in that same blog graveyard.

Does this need a different name? Something more unique, perhaps? The Spotless Mind or something? Being named Sunshine offers some great possibilities. I always skip them over, assuming someone [not named Sunshine] has already used them.

Any suggestions?

Not Unique

A friend invited me to write for her blog. I was flattered. She'd read some of my Facebook posts and thought I might like to contribute. She has a wonderful blog, you should check it out:

But then I realized that most of my content is negative. Written out of frustration. So until the day that I can find something nice to contribute, I'll say nothing at all. Hence the "rant" part of this blog.

Okay, so the whole Modern Housewife thing is pretty played out. But what better way to describe the purpose and content of this blog? Once, when I was around 20-22 or something, a friend asked me, "what do you want to be when you grow up?"

"A housewife," I replied.

"What?!? This is the '90's! You can be anything you want!"

Um. ?

That's what I was thinking. Anything I want. Not anything you think I should be. Lord knows, I can't even execute what I want, much less what you want me to be. I'm doin' the best I can here. Never perfect, rarely good, but often adequate. So far, everyone's still safe & healthy. That's just about all you can ask for, anyway.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer Activities

Seriously. I awoke this morning at 10 a.m. (ahh...) Slept poorly (too much wine?), awakened again at 5:30 a.m. by an earthquake shaking the SHIT out of my metal staircase. Boy was that freaky. I didn't feel the ground move at all, just that damn staircase squeaking. I was sure there was someone in my house!!

But when I finally got up, I was optimistic that today was going to be a great day. I had fun activities planned for the kids, and we were going to have a good time. Mom time is in limited supply, believe it or not, so I was really looking forward to giving them my full attention.

First, we went to a play. $42, and they didn't like it. The Jungle Book. What's not to like? Daughter crawled all over my lap the whole time and hung on me after, stepping on my feet and pulling my skirt down, so that I couldn't even have a 5 minute conversation with my friend who brought us. :|

Then, Roller Derby. I was SURE the kids would love this. What's not to love about skatergirls rolling around and flying all over the place? Caius had a stomachache and Sonja was bored. I remembered drinks, I remembered sweatshirts, I remembered to feed them. We left early. * sigh * :|

Most fun I had today? a) finding out that the thing I mailed to my friend actually go there and she likes the jewelry set I fixed for her daughter for a wedding; b) finding out that we got paid for work we did, even if the wrong invoice got sent and was half the amount; c) creating a new homepage banner for my friend's online store. Probably A, but I'm still working on the banner, this time while drinking wine. It's nice to know that some people out there appreciate your work.

Had to close the door to my office. Too many kids whining for food after mealtime (I'm hungry...there's nothing left...) even though I fed them dinner on time for once. Look, if you don't eat it, it might not be there 2 hours later. Too many kids wanting "help". Nonspecific, just "I need help." Helps if you tell me WITH WHAT.

Even so, I'll bet the summer seems short when August rolls around.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Why don't I remember this stuff?

Is this deja vu? Does anyone else out there catch themselves doing this dumb stuff that you know you shouldn't fall for?

Long ago, I upgraded to Internet Explorer 7. I immediately figured out that my wysiwyg tools on two of the websites that I used regularly to update webstores for myself and a friend, didn't work in that browser. So then I had to figure out how to uninstall it and go back to version 6. Needless to say, none of the tech "support" people understood why I would want to do that. Even when I explained that the websites I use DON'T WORK with their browser.

A year has gone by (at least), and now I don't use those sites anymore, my store having closed and the other changed. So I thought, hey, what the heck? Mozilla keeps crashing, maybe it would be nice to have tabbed browsing after all.


I knew better. So day before yesterday I went to and downloaded v 7 again. It took 45 minutes to download and I had to reboot. Ok, fine. Whatever.

The next thing I tried to do was go somewhere and do something, and the whole computer immediately froze and I had to reboot. Again.

I can't view half the stuff, can't browse, it sticks all the time. At least Firefox has the courtesy to remember where you were and ask if you'd like your tabs back when you turn it back on.

I noticed there's a version 8 in there that I could've downloaded instead. Now I'm tempted, but seriously. Will I fall for it again?

If version 7 doesn't work, why should version 8? Anyone know where I can go back in time and get Internet Explorer version 6? You know what they say. If it ain't broke....