Saturday, January 31, 2015

"And run if you will to the top of the hill..."

I was first introduced to Rod McKuen's music in 1967 by the man who would later become my second (and last and best) husband. On the drive home from our first date, Richard plugged an eight-track tape into his car stereo, and the car filled with the sound of waves splashing on the beach, the gentle, seductive voice of McKuen himself, and the swelling music of the Anita Kerr Orchestra. That tape was The Sea. It made me appreciate Rod McKuen. More than that, it made me appreciate Richard because he could appreciate Rod McKuen.

Poet and songwriter Rod McKuen died on Thursday at the age of 81. So many of his songs provided background music for my life. My favorite of all of them was this one:

The song is "Jean," written by Rod McKuen.
Thanks to bernieb48 for posting the video and lyrics on YouTube.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Deglamorization of the Sunday Special

If I were to turn on the news right now, I'm pretty sure I'd hear about violence in the middle east, one or more of the many politicians considering a run for the presidency in 2016, or speculation about who's to blame for the Patriots' underinflated footballs. By not turning on the news, I'm free to let my mind wander until it stops to ponder the decline in status of fried chicken.

All through my childhood, fried chicken was the star of Sunday dinner. Every single week after church, my grandmother would fry up a store-bought hen and serve it with mashed potatoes, thick white gravy, whole-kernel corn and Brown 'N Serve rolls. In the summertime the corn would still be on the cob (we called it "roastin' ears"), fresh from my grandfather's garden, and thick slices of home-grown tomatoes were added to the menu.

Frying chicken was messy work. It dusted the kitchen with flour and sealed it with a coat of grease, but Mammaw put on her apron and did it anyway, because she knew how much we all liked that meal. When I grew up and had a family of my own, I followed her example.

Once a week, every week, I fried chicken. I cooked it for an evening meal, though, not at midday, and it might have been a Sunday or it might not have been. The chicken was a favorite whenever we had it, but it wasn't as special as it used to be when it marked a specific day and time.

Somewhere along in my daughter's school years, Colonel Sanders came onto the scene. Once in a blue moon, usually if we were traveling, we'd stop at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant for a meal. Fried chicken eaten out, no matter how tasty it was, didn't seem special at all. I still cooked it regularly at home.

By the time we moved to Louisiana, KFC had locations all over the place. Soon afterward, Popeye's franchises came to town. When I considered the time and the mess involved in frying a chicken, the idea of stopping at a drive-thru and bringing home a bucket or bag of it fried elsewhere seemed too good to pass up. I traveled that greasy, slippery slope time after time, and it's been years since I've fried a chicken. I don't imagine I ever will again.

As delicious as fried chicken is, it's become fast food, no more special than burgers or tacos or pizza--something to eat because it's convenient, something to avoid if you care about your arteries. I like it still and eat it once every couple of months, whether I should or not. The delicious flavor is still there, but the magic that used to come with it never makes it into the box.

Monday, January 19, 2015


I've had a profound interest in the Civil Rights movement since the 1960s, and it's an ever-present thorn in my side that I've never found the courage to be an activist. This morning I commented to Kelli, my younger daughter, that I'd slept extra late today when I could have been out marching in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Well," she replied, "did you at least have a dream?"

Yeah, I did. But not an important one. The big dreams come when I'm wide awake. Now all I need is a backbone.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Murder of Crows

Today's Saturday Song Selection, as well as last week's, was introduced to me by FX's Sons of Anarchy. I don't watch the show (missed too much of it to start), but my daughter and granddaughter are loyal fans. Twice recently I've passed my daughter's bedroom and been captivated by the music coming from her TV. Both times she was watching SoA.

Today's song reminded me of this photo I took about two years ago:

I realize that two crows do not a murder make, but there's an evil, persuasive, talking crow in the song that I imagine looks very much like the one perched above. The same evil crow laughs and flies away later in the lyrics, so the photo covers that idea, too. 

If you're one of those people who was thrilled (as I was) at the tingling of your spine when you first read Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven," I think you'll be as enthralled as I am by the story, lyricism and imagery of this song. Please give it a listen.

The song is "Come Join the Murder" by The White Buffalo & The Forest Rangers.
Click here to read the lyrics.
Thanks to Luca Desecrate for posting the video on YouTube.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Not the Usual Drill

Picture yourself seated comfortably in a chair at your dentist's office, your legs stretched out and crossed at the ankles, your arms on the padded armrests, your head leaning against the cushioned headrest as you watch "The View" on the TV/monitor that's two feet in front of your face. The  hygienist left you only a moment ago, having given you a number of injections near the upper molar that will be drilled, filled and fitted for a crown today. Now you're just waiting for the numbness to set in, something you've done many, many times before.

After a minute or two you notice that it's a little harder to get a good, deep breath. Another couple of minutes pass and you frown slightly as you realize you can't swallow without difficulty. The hygienist returns and asks how you're doing. Your voice squeaks a bit as you tell her you're getting uncomfortable, that it's hard to breathe, you can't swallow and you're beginning to feel like you're choking. She explains why you couldn't possibly be choking, even if it feels that way, and asks if you're getting numb. You assure her that you most definitely are numb.

She stays with you for a few more minutes--she wants you to be "good and numb"--and the dentist arrives. He smiles pleasantly and asks if you had a good Christmas. You don't want to tell him about all the family illnesses during the holidays, so you just mumble, "Yes, thanks" and launch right into telling him about the breathing and the swallowing and the choking sensation, and he smiles again and says you're doing fine, that those symptoms are a trick of the anesthetics.

You accept that explanation as they lean you back until your feet are elevated above your head, and the dentist begins to drill out the loose filling that has probably been in that tooth since you were a teen. You feel water spray against the roof of your mouth and drip into the back of your throat, but you can't swallow it, and the hygienist's suction tube isn't getting it all and, dammit, you are choking, whether they think so or not! You hear the choking noises coming out of your own throat and you see the dentist take a step back, a shiny chrome instrument held up in each hand. "Are you okay?" he asks, a look of alarm on his face.

"No!" you squeak out, and you start struggling to sit up, fighting to lean forward in that backward-tilted chair. Your hands are trembling, and suddenly your arms start shaking so wildly that you're in danger of knocking over the tray of sterile instruments. You don't realize you're crying until you feel tears roll out the corners of your eyes and down your cheeks, trickling slowly out from under the dark-tinted lenses they gave you to protect your eyes. The dentist raises your chair as quickly as he can, and the hygienist keeps repeating, "Breathe through your nose, breathe through your nose." Sitting erect helps you to do that. The dentist suggests that they leave you alone for a few minutes to give you time to calm down while the anesthesia wears off a bit. You're embarrassed. You've always been an easy, well-mannered patient until now.

You don't know how long they've been gone, but after awhile you realize that you're breathing regularly, you can swallow at will, the tears have dried, and you're watching TV again. You're still quite numb, but not as numb as you were earlier. The dentist and hygienist return, ascertain that you're feeling better, and begin again. The rest of the procedure goes as smoothly as it's always gone before. Afterwards they'll tell you to be careful, that you've chewed the inside of your anesthetized cheek, but everything else is fine. You feel much better and very much relieved. Still, you'll feel a little "off" for the rest of the day.

Does that sound like fun? It wasn't. This is what happened to me on Tuesday; I don't know why. I do remember a slight sense of constricted breathing the last time I had dental work done, but it wasn't enough to cause any worry or interfere with the procedure. I don't know what's different now.

I Googled, of course, as soon as I got home. Though I found a number of people who had experienced similar symptoms (and additional ones), there didn't seem to be a consensus among medical websites as to what caused the problems: overdose, accidental injection directly into the bloodstream, the patient's anxiety level... Who knows?

I've had so much dental work in my life that I haven't had any anxiety about it since childhood. I hope this one bad experience doesn't change that.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

I May Not Know What Day It Is, but I Can Tell It's Raining

Ever since I retired, I've had a heck of a time keeping up with what day of the week it is. It's as though all my calendars have been replaced by long, skinny ones made up entirely of Saturdays and Sundays. Fortunately, the TV schedule is fairly well embedded in my brain, so as long as I can remember what I watched the night before, I know what day yesterday was and can extrapolate the current day from that.

Until recently. The timespan between Christmas Eve and today has messed up my system. The TV schedule has been shot to smithereens with reruns and specials, making it completely unreliable, calendar-wise. Also, many of my family members who work during a normal week have been home for the holidays. That, too, has played tricks on my cerebral day-tracker. haf vays of deducing the unknown. The subject of this morning's daily email from BookBub was "Your ebook bargains for Saturday." "Yes!" I said out loud with a minimal fist pump, then jumped right to the task of choosing a Saturday Song Selection.

Today's tune is one I downloaded only about three weeks ago. It's a new song of the genre my generation used to call belly-rubbing music, and it's perfect for a rainy day like today--even if you aren't slow-dancing.

The song is "Make It Rain," by Ed Sheeran.
Click here to read the lyrics.
Thanks to Rammus for posting the song on YouTube.