Tuesday, April 28, 2009


spring-flowers-1 We so embrace spring in New England. And why wouldn't we? We're under the hammer for so long. We have gritted our teeth. We have said so what.

But today, we are revealed. We are alive.

We walk out from the kitchen and sit on the steps. It's warm. Maybe life will be better.

Some people just refuse to be cheerful, don't they? Meanwhile, We remember other springs, or at least I do. I love Arkansas, where spring started long ago.

The azaleas.

For me, they stand for spring. I can't remember anything that I have ever seen more beautiful.

All right, all right, wait a minute. I do think the Finger Lakes are very beautiful and also this one overlook view we saw in San Francisco of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Click to view

They are beautiful too. But Arkansas azalea season is like no other, I promise, dear reader.

Yes, whatever.

Of course I didn't appreciate the azales when I lived among them. It was like a big blanket spread out over all the lawns. As long as I teach for a living, I will never get to see them.




Okay then, I guess I'll go inside now. In truth, the various mosquitos and flies and stinging things are coming to life along with everything else and it's time to bash some ants on the kitchen counter.
Then I look out the window for The Viewing Of The Back Yard.

Ugh. Okay, Bette--go for it.

On that note, perhaps that is one good thing about winter. No raking. Perhaps I didn't value the rake-free [the kind you use on the lawn, not some devilish bastard] facet of the colder weather. It may in fact be time to go upstairs and do another crossword.

Denial is not a bad place to be sometimes.
A bientot

Friday, April 24, 2009


On a lovely spring day, dear reader, what better than to sit back, accomplish nothing, and reminisce about the past?

This is me back in the day, rushing down the driveway to greet my guests. I have forgotten the occasion, but I did love that dress. You probably didn't know I had pet albino peacocks, but I did. Little Throckmorton was my favorite and lived to be 30. I took him to the prom in a limo.

Here I am a few years later with some very cute but sorryass boyfriend. Ain't it the way, girls? I was trying desperately to make him fulfill his potential, live up to his dreams, or maybe, just maybe, get a job. Alas, he refused. We had some good times and I actually made that bathrobe out of dish towels. There's pancake mix under his arm. He went on to become a hedge fund manager and now works at Jiffy Lube. I'm thinking of taking my car there. Plus ca change, tous ces la meme chose.

Oscar's Best Dresses Over the years, I occasionally dyed my hair. Now and then the PTA would honor me for chairing the Career Day extravaganza year in and year out. You sort of had to put on the dog for that.

This was taken during my Heavy Lipstick Era. At least one pound at all times was my rule. I also liked to drape things over one shoulder, as shown here. Problem was, I kept losing my stuff.

God, this was a very bad choice of boyfriends. He has just told me here that the chicken recipe I thought I was going to make that night was his mother's specialty. How would you feel, dear reader? Also that he has incurred four thousand dollars in parking tickets from using my car. I don't know what he is looking at in the picture, unless it is his suitcase.

This guy never bathed. He was cute, but I couldn't take the hygiene. You can see how sappy I was over him, but in the end I tossed him off that raft and learned how to steer it by myself.

I saved this one for last, dear reader, because it is my favorite. This guy looks a lot like the Unbathed One, but he was far smoother. He read me a big line of horse shit, and I went for it. God, we looked good in hats, though.

Enjoy springtime, my friends.



Monday, April 20, 2009


Oh, I do love my coffee, dear reader.

It means everything to me.

But I confess, I fear I am still in the coffee bourgeoisie. I am not in the elite. I should use a better brand and I want to. There are those I have met who know better ones. They, those coffee snobs, have a certain aura I long for. I hate them for their knowledge and certainty and yet always forget to ask them for recommendations.

They grind their own. They are particular. I can't say I know anyone who grows their own.

That would really be impressive, wouldn't it? Probably you need good soil. And drug cartels operating in your back yard. Then you would know you are drinking a superior brand. All I can do is survey the coffee aisle at Hannaford's, pedestrian in the extreme. This is what you call rotgut. It's cheap, especially in that huge tub. For some people, looking down at that tub every morning means money saved, frugality, an avenue toward earthly and perhaps eternal redemption. I will just say this. I've already had a colonoscopy. Get me?

This will give you that nice bitter I-Am-Drinking-an-Expensive-Brand-and-Fk-Everybody-Else-feeling. But it has a certain taste, doesn't it? I'm not sure it's better than the tub.

This is good too, but you can get it at the drive-thru. It's everywhere. I'm not sure how I would like it without the styrofoam cup.

I actually haven't tried this brand. Maybe it will be perfect. I like that swish spelling they use. Any time you can tart up a spelling, you might be onto a marketing coup.

This is pretty good. You feel your standards are high drinking this brand. Especially if you stand there and grind it. I never do this because I don't exactly know how to and I don't want to look like a doofus in Hannaford's. LOOK OUT! SHE HAS SET THE GRINDER TO HIGH AND HAS NO CLUE WHAT SHE IS DOING! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

Yech. You know your standards are low if you drink instant. This is worse than the cheapest real coffee. Why not just drink hot chocolate?

I am not against hot chocolate. This is good at 4pm. For an extra special treat, try mixing two of the packets in one cup. Yum. [Don't tell my scale this--that grouch is all over my case lately]

Yuban Original

Don't know anything about this brand. I have scrutinized it in the grocery and ultimately decided against it. I always think I am supposed to read it backwards and that confuses me. Also it suggests Mexican or South American provenance and I fear it will make me sick. How stupid is that? I will try it soon.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

This brand, over there to the right, has been recommended highly. I have never bought it because I don't think I would like green coffee. AGain, completely stupid on my part. But what were they thinking? Also it sounds like crunchy granola organic hippie stuff and that bores me. Hey, I'm just being honest. I am going to try this.

So this is what I drink. Mostly. It's pretty good. It's medium expensive. It's not 7.99 a pound like some of them, but it has a good taste. Besides, if you put in enough cream and sugar, who can tell? [Do NOT tell the scale I said that]

A bientot



Thursday, April 16, 2009

Book Report

I'm finally getting back into a full reading routine. For a long time, I couldn't concentrate. I put the book down on my chest and stared into the middle distance. Or at the ceiling. But I have snapped out of it.

Alan Furst is a bloody genius. I adore his books. I would say they are an acquired taste, though, and if you get one in your hands, you might say what is Becky talking about? It's short. The plots are episodic and don't connect. Nothing big big big happens. But keep going, dear reader. You will get hypnotized.

Kingdom of ShadowsKingdom of Shadows is the third or fourth I have read. None of them disappoint. They are stylish and sophisticated, spare and witty. I am planning to read every one.

Map of Home, AThis one is called A Map of Home and it is about a smartass Palestinian girl growing up. Her language is shocking at times, but her journey is familiar and heartrending all the same. I couldn't put it down. Author Randa Jarrar.

I am getting ready to be transported and obsessed by Sylvia Plath and her husband Ted Hughes and his various lovers. But before that, I am now reading

Daughter of Fortune: A Novel (P.S.)Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. It is very good. I like a book that teaches me things and I am learning about Chile from this book.

Here's a really dumb statement, but I mean it from the heart.

It's truly amazing how many countries there are and how each one has its traditions and slang and landmarks and wisdom. And in each one, a woman's story is similar.

A number of years ago, I kept track of every book I read. I wrote down the plot and how many stars I gave it on a piece of paper (okay, it was a coupon). My car was littered with them. Finally, I gathered them all up, brought them inside, and tabulated them. I made a list. I have that list in the table next to my bed and I'm sorry I haven't added to it in the intervening years. I've gotten sloppy. But here's the point.

Most of the books on the list were written by women.

I guess that means something about me. It's something I shouldn't forget. I'm interested in women and what they do and what they think. And so are other women.

But of course I still like Alan Furst. And John Irving and Tom Wolfe and some of those other whaddyacallits, men.

A bientot




Sunday, April 12, 2009

Becky's Hall of Fame

In order to merit inclusion in the BHF, an object must have served for more than a few years. It must have always performed in a manner pleasing to her. This lets out most humans. See that microwave? It's a Johnny-Come-Lately. It will never be in. But the saucepan right there, perched a bit precariously I admit, hits a ten. It holds a lot, it doesn't boil too fast, and it cleans up well. In fact, I may start dating it. It evokes an earlier era with its graceful Harvest Gold presentation. What has it not held in its generous interior? Soup, pasta, experimental food items, even rainwater in the dining room window. It has served as a temporary jury-rigged double boiler for chocolate mousse pie and a jaunty last-minute addition to a drunken costume . And so, hats off to this proud representative of the cookware group, one that came into Camp Becky as a member of a color-coordinated ensemble, but has survived its companion pans by at least a decade. [ed. note: I'm dumping this beast soon: the Teflon is worn off and it takes more effort to scrub the broccoli stains out than I possess these days. But give it a little glory before it goes]
Okay then. Alongside the pan and indeed they have often served in tandem, is this trusty colander. Made of flimsy plastic, it has held up for thirty years. Can that be right? I wasn't born then, was I? You may notice the melted spot/indentation on the side of it. That must have been a memorable pouring of something and I wish I could remember it. [This baby is gonzo too]
The mug says University of Illinois on the side of it. It's old. It's embossed in gold leaf and has endured decades of dishwashing. It has a big crack down the interior side and is probably not safe for drinking. Also a couple of chipped places. But a great handle. Really, you can't say enough about the handle. Imagine the pleasure in hoisting this baby. I will never throw it out.
My daughter gave me this and not that many years ago, but I love it so much it's being included with today's honorees. It's one of those mutant briefcase/handbag items and black patent leather and it looks very professional and swish. Carrying it makes me feel that way too.
I purchased these boots around 20 years ago in the Greendale Mall in Worcester. I think I paid $16. They are as awesome today as they ever were. They look equestrian/military/dominatrix, plus they are completely comfortable. Perhaps I will be buried in them. They have been called Mistress of the Stables boots and that is a good term for them too. They are just starting to lose their black color on the heels, but a little Magic Marker between friends has always been allowed, eh, dear reader?
"Edgar Allan Poe was a fictional writer."
"The Byzantines had a very hard time keeping barbarians out of their boarders."
A bientot

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Easter Instructions, goddammit

For some of us, Easter is the most secular of holidays. On Thanksgiving, we bow our heads and feel reverent for our blessings. On Christmas we look up at the sky and feel the magic. But Easter? It's kind of a pagan thing, isn't it? I mean how did we get from Christ dying on the cross to Peeps? Know what I'm saying?

Okay, I'm calming down. I must give my attention to to the proper ingredients for a suitable Easter basket, such as I will prepare for Maeve.

The basket itelf must have a high handle over it and be somewhat lightweight. Keep in mind a few things. A bottle of gin, much as you might desire it and feel you deserve it for the egg hunt you will conduct in the back yard, is best left out of an Easter basket. I'm just going to say you should trust me on that, dear reader. You need to be clearheaded at least for the morning activities.

And it shouldn't be too big.Brown Willow Laundry Basket (S / b)

God, do I have to tell you everything?
This is what you need and they come from Target. I paid 99cents yesterday and now see in their online circular that they are 75cents. GRRRRRRR.

Then you need what they call Easter grass, though in what universe it would be like actual grass I don't know. If you were stoned out of your mind on LSD or hashish, it might look like grass. It seems unlikely at a family gathering, but of course I don't know your family. Now in the store they have newfangled earth tone opaquey grass that is just wrong. Go with the shiny cheap stuff. And it has to be in a color that doesn't appear in nature. Pothead Purple is good. Psychedelic Yellow is fine. Please yourself here.

These are also from Target and only 25c (I paid more only yesterday--this is starting to depress me). One thing good about Easter, by the way? Unlike Christmas, nobody cares when it is over. Nobody sits around and blubbers into the giftwrap about how much fun it was and if only it could last a few more days. People are already drinking gin and feeling thankful it's over.

Okay now, we're ready for the more substantial ingredients, the actual food items.

First, definitely a few Peeps. They are hideous. You can save them from year to year.

If you can bite into them in the first place, go ahead. Scrape some of those crusty sugary molecules across your teeth. Only a certain kind of person eats Peeps and I like to think I've never dated one (I'm not actually sure, though). I recommend inserting the Peeps around the perimeter of the grass, so they look a bit like sentries. You could go full out Martha Stewart and actually alternate colors. Go with God.

Some people are serious about jelly beans, you pectin snobs know who you are, and I am not going to get into that here. This is a controversy-free space. Let me just say that I grew up eating the inexpensive, larger, sugary kind, but take your choice. It's a free country and your dentist needs the money.

Jelly beans should be sprinkled everywhere throughout the grass so that when the whole structure is eventually disassembled and put away for next year in the basement (to give it that authentic mildewed smell), you can still find one last jelly bean buried deep inside (or maybe a Dewar's nip).
You can use some of these other optional generic eggs as you see fit. Gnaw on enough of these and you will be heading for implants like me. The best advice I can give you for the rest of the included items is this:

All kinds, light and dark, foil-wrapped or plain, bunny-shaped or duckling, with nuts or without.

The point is chocolate, pure and unadulterated. Eat it all day and get sick. That is the point.

That is what I would like to be doing, but I have this deep and fearful relationship going with my scale, as you may recall, and I have to be loyal. HAH! It's across the hall from me right now and doesn't know what I'm really planning. No no, I'll be good.

A bientot