Monday, August 28, 2006

when to stop dancing

I picked up the canvas bag. It says, "bolsa del mercado"
on the side, and my sister's name is written in an early
eighties purple paint pen, bubbly letters, on the strap.
They spill out, in one pale peachy pink scratched up
broken and wistful "humpf!" they hit the wood floor.
I hear some taps. I had tried to muffle the tapping by
banging and darning and softening the puckered
bottom one inch near the toe with water. They smell bad.
Real bad. Sweat that's older than my 9 year old sister, and
with as much to say.

Point shoes. They do you no good on the street.
One grand battement to the face and they're a weapon.
But somehow, with much ado about being strong and supple,
they're silent and you're flying. And getting caught up
on that tip in a pirouette or an arabesque feels better than
just about anything. And at 32, I've finally got some comparisons
to make. When it was good, It really was THAT good.

My contemporaries are retiring, or thinking about it.
They're going to college, maybe grad school. Some left when
I did, and have only the memory of long summer classes and some
hey-days in college and one last stab of the feet into these damn
satin promises, that we wanted so badly at ten, then eleven..

In your thirties, it just feels a little ridiculous.

Point shoes are part of the reason I was mystified by ballet.
In the early eighties, the sun had not yet set on the superstars
of that golden era, we didn't know about the cocaine and the
surgeries and the anorexia and the mayhem, and every little
girl wanted to put on a pair and pique', or hurt herself
trying. The frequency with which these too-shiny hard slippers
had to be purchased would rival any shoe spree on Sex & The City.
They're expensive, they break in the matter of a few classes, and
each pair had to be jury-rigged 'just-so' for each foot, each dancer,
which was a ritual that took time, bloodied fingers, and made me feel
...different than other girls. And we know how important
that is to a teenager.

I still dance. Out of joy, out of desperation, at weddings, in
my living room (hey neighbors!) to classical music, to jazz,
to swing, to brass hop, to crickets.
Now, I dance on architecture. As much as possible.
When I can, I dance naked. Preferably in a valley, in the rain,
and with abandon. Ok I don't have many opportunites
to do that. But once is better than never. Watch out Colorado.

Do I give up the shoes? Of course. Will I ever stop getting caught
doing grand jetes in front of random mirrors in public? Never.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

leave room for chocolate cake

Hopefully I won't go straight to h*ll for sharing this, y'all.

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
6 T cocoa

blend brown sugar and butter together
blend eggs & vanilla in
blend powders together in separate bowl

alternate powders and milk
blend until creamy
makes 3 9" circle pans (greased well & coated with flour)
bake 350 for 30 to 35 minutes, check at 15 minutes

Frosting (you're making a layer cake, kittens..)

1 lb powdered sugar (around 4 cups..)
1 stick butter
enough dutched cocoa to plaster a wall

Beat the stick of butter
Add the sugar
Add the cocoa until you can't take it anymore - should be
spreadable... Add a little milk if it's too thick. Just a little!
and a teeny, tiny bit of salt, about 1/8 tsp. Make sure it's
not too runny..

Let the cakes cool, set the first one down on your favorite plate, and
schmear away...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

one foot in the bayou

There are moments when one gets caught up
in the kind of nostalgia that calls for an afternoon
of porch cleaning and brass-hop listening,
red beans in a pot and teary-eyed memory.
It is Sunday, and I terribly miss the fair and decadent,
unacceptably humid and charming city that we
called home for six years.

And what is there? November will bring an opportunity
to visit for the first time in too long, and find out.
I imagine, that with every passing day, and with the
promise of a cool cleansing fall, New Orleans will
continue to be reborn. I look forward to finding out,
even if it means just a small slice. If it's a languid Sunday,
filled with the old smells and sounds, we might
just have to come get our clothes and stay awhile, as they say.

'she got one foot in new york city,
one foot in the bayou'

Monday, August 14, 2006

Thursday, August 10, 2006

tea with zelda bijou

I highly recommend Sarah and Desmond's Organic Cafe in Ellicott City, Maryland if you're in the
area. Good food, nice atmosphere; and, at least while I was there - WiFi (probably from a neighboring

Zelda Bijou my African Queen

"Hello Ruby Hobby Newbie. How are you booby cat?" I chirp as I walk through the front door.
"hey girl, killed some stuff today." I hear Zelda’s voice as a thirty-something African-American woman, my earthbound angel and voice of reason. She’s brown and beautiful and striped like the grass cats of the African veldt, and she knows about me. She knows about my last nerve, the one that needs to be calmed down after a day of bosses and clients and misunderstanding. The nerve that needs healing, the one we all have. I can see it in her liquid eyes, she's licked the frying pan from breakfast, eaten some bugs and thrown up $15 worth of organic cat food under the piano bench. It’s all good.

She wakes me up twice a week for a physical. She makes her silent entry into the bedroom, and pads lightly on my back with one paw. Wake up, sleeping-huge-hairless-food-giver. I turn over and greet her with a scratch on the head. If I don’t, I get a backrub under the shoulder blades. “Goooood Kitty.” Today, I turn. She starts at my hips, gesturing at my organs, finding the energy, and works her way up to my breasts. She lingered this day, making biscuits, her delicate pads were concerned, and she grumbled and purred, sitting at my waist. You are not well. Where do you hurt? She nudged, and insisted. Tears came, she was right. My heart ached, and I cried for her tenderness to say my name and reassure. I wanted so badly to know why I hurt, to find a salve, to pet my Zelda on the head and change my life. Cats know this.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Who flanks you? Who is at your side,
at the ready, honest and willing to
divine words when none will come,
or celebrate with you when they flow freely?

Andria, the founder of Flanked (
used prize money from an award (unheard of!!!)
to start this conference, a diverse group of women,
a fabulous group of writers who
have inspired and moved, cajoled and
conjured together this weekend..

And so I carefully glance around now
for who does, and who will flank me.

Our literary guest speaker tonight was Tayari Jones, author of Leaving Atlanta and The Untelling.