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Inspiration, Dedication, Creation

© Scott Pehrson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Twilight Egret Dance© Scott Pehrson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Gelsey Kirkland & Mikhail Baryshnikov Dance Balanchine

I had a few free hours in Boston yesterday, and so I headed to the library.  I happened upon an analysis of Leonard Woolf’s “Life in the Jungle” set in Sri Lanka in the first Modern Fiction Studies I picked up (some things are just given to you as gifts from a mystery) and Robert Gottlieb’s giant book,  Reading Dance.  I found Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as Arlene Croce saw them,  and about Mikhail Baryshnikov.  Later this week, I will fulfill a long-held dream to see Baryshnikov on stage.  He won’t be dancing,  but acting in a play, Man in a Case, which promises to be exuberant and fun.

When I came into Boston that morning, I saw a black stretch limousine drive by, and I idly wondered if it was a politician, though there was no surrounding entourage (I have been watching The West Wing on Netflix.) In the library, I wondered if it was Baryshnikov, arrived from the airport, ready to rehearse around the corner.  As I leafed through the volume on dance, I realized I was in a way, reading a fan-zine.  More to the point, I realized I am a fan.

 Cheek to Cheek, Astaire & Rogers

This morning when the cats woke me too early, I drank coffee and  watched the above videos, and my words cannot capture my sense of joy at watching master dancers dance.  My kitten can.  She leaped into the air to bat at invisible things, and as I watched, stretched a paw out as we presented a still-life pas de deux, watching Baryshnikov dance.

Kennedy Center Honoree Baryshnikov

 

 

My Mother ‘s Wings

Mccalls 9605 Sewing Pattern 1960s Teenage Wardrobe for Barbie: Gene Outfit, Coat Apron Dress from http://www.amazon.com/Mccalls-Sewing-Pattern-Teenage-Wardrobe/dp/B007BFLG6O

Mccalls 9605 Sewing Pattern 1960s Teenage Wardrobe for Barbie: Gene Outfit, Coat Apron Dress from http://www.amazon.com/Mccalls-Sewing-Pattern-Teenage-Wardrobe/dp/B007BFLG6O

In an article on Jill Lepore in the Winter 2014 issue of Radcliffe Magazine, there is mention of the compelling essay in The New Yorker on writing about Ben Franklin’s sister. Lepore speaks of her mother building a doll’s house for her out of cardboard shoe boxes, papering each wall, affixing tiny stringed lights. Right then, I remembered my mother’s wings.

My mother made a lot of things for me growing up, including making tiny Barbie clothes; there was a wrap dress in blue zebra print I remember–were they from Butterick patterns?  She made covers for our sofa and chairs, made cushions and drapes. I would make trips with her to JoAnne’s Fabrics, and while my mother dreamed about the fabrics, I would wait impatiently for her, paging through the catalogues of dress illustrations. Although a pile of felt squares housed in a corner cart fascinated me,  I was not really interested in fabric. Unlike my mother, I could not sew.

When I was eight and watched The Banana Splits, a 1960’s version of Barney Gone Mad, my mother made me my very own Snorky elephant, a toy sewn from a pre-printed pattern. I loved it. My father made me boats with out of paper for me, four of them connected together, or one which had foldout canopied seats, beautiful origami that made me long to travel.In a few years, when I took Home Ec, as required by my school, I tried to feed cloth gently to the machine’s needle but I always got it jammed.  I wasn’t good at cutting fabric, I did not understand how to purl and knit, and out of desperation, perhaps, my mother got me to crewel, an easier form of embroidery, using yarn instead of thread.

But what I remembered when I read the Jill Lepore article were the wings my mother made for a Halloween costume.  They were a surprise for me.  Usually I was a witch for Halloween, easy enough with my long black hair, which my mother let me wear unbraided.  But had I been a fairy one year?  She fashioned cardboard wings for me, and decorated them with the bright blue and white stars foil wrappers from Drake’s Yodels.  Every lunch, I would carry a cheese or Peanut Butter sandwich, a bag of Fritos, a packaged dessert, carrot sticks, and an apple.  The carrot sticks would drip to the corner of the plastic bag.  Did she save the wrappers and send me to school with naked Yodels?  Did she ask me to bring them home?

I can call her and find out. 

Part of the charm in writing is remembering, challenging your mind to retrieve half-forgotten details. Remembering the story can furnish the details, which is the opposite of fiction in some ways. I can only remember the wings. I cannot remember the costume or the person who might have wanted to be a fairy instead of a witch or a gypsy, two costumes I do remember.

In trying to find a picture of the yodel on the net that I could use for this post, I discovered the company is bringing out the chocolate cakes again. (If you Google “Drake’s yodel foil wrapper ” and click images, you will find a lovely photo on someone’s Flickr.)  

In calling my mother, she wonders if someone else might have made the wings, and reasons maybe she bought me a packaged costume. I don’t remember the costume, I tell her, but I remember the wings, the way the wings were edged in the starred foil, and how there were stripes made with foil on the inside because, obviously, we couldn’t eat that many Yodels. She wonders if I am thinking of someone else. We both remember me always wanting to be a witch. She said she made a cape, but had to buy the hat because she could not make one. I don’t remember the hat.

Ocean and Ziggie

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Two cats.  Five names. But now the main names are Ocean and her daughter Ziggie.  Ocean because her eyes are deep and her coat is black and velvety, and there is a wave of white near her belly.  Ziggie because she bears the zig-zag outline of a mountain range on her side, and she zips around like an investigator, ever curious and fast. When mother and daughter leap, they are astral yoginis, Cirque de Soleil. When they sleep, they are babies; Ocean tucks herself in, and Ziggie sprawls, each in their basket which used to hold mail.

Two cats. Two names. But T.S.Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats(for when is a cat anything but practical?) tells us there are four names for each cat, and one of these secret:
The Naming of Cats by T.S.Eliot

Just for fun, here is “The Wasteland” as well, though April is far away:
The Wasteland Read by Eliot

Once it was five cats, five names and a chart to tell them apart.  That was they were month-old kittens and a young mom. Three of the kittens have ben happily welcomed into  new digs, but two are staying  with me, their guardian. Two cats, with two new names.

Postscript to Airport Sundays

Indira Ganesan, cake and capp, 2013

Indira Ganesan, cake and capp, 2013

Post-Script: Due to more weather, I made it back home by nightfall the next day instead, only 25 hours later, with thanks to to the good-spirited people in Provincetown, to whom I owe much thanks.

 

Sundays at the Airport

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It is Super Bowl Sunday in Newark Airport, when the game is being played at the Meadowlands. The bar patrons are cheering and groaning as the game gets going. Flights have been cancelled mysteriously, and I suspect there must be a savvy lounge where the higher ups in the company are stretched out and watching the game instead of flying. Why not? Bridges can receive planned traffic jams, so why cannot passengers who thought to a)be home in time for the game b) beat the traffic by flying on a day when few would fly or c) simply were not thinking about The Game, find themselves stranded due to mysterious jet ailments?

Ice cream was a brief consolation, followed by an attempt to watch a game that I don’t really know well and fear for head injuries among the players. Still, I watched the kickoff and listened to the commentary around me, leaving only after the excitement grew to be less interesting as words got louder.

Remarkably, I hear an announcement, reminding me I am in an airport. I have always loved air travel and airports, the buzz of foreign language, the whiff of glamour and energy of those bound for Elsewhere.

But now I’d rather be Elsewhere, instead of waiting for a flight, with my connecting flight cancelled, and going home delayed by a half-day. The half-time score was announced over the PA. Talk about sadness, except of course for the team in the lead.

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