Thursday, April 30, 2009

I Did Dance All Night

We attended a performance of the Luna Negra Dance Theater in Manchester last night. They are a Chicago based troupe that focuses on Spanish Culture. As you can imagine many of the dancers are drawn from the international Latino communities, guaranteeing a wide range of skin color from white to the darkest black. Normally I might say skin color makes no difference, but when you are there to watch bodies, it does (more on that later). They are also a very athletic troupe. No dainty swans here.... they stomp, leap, throw & roll like circus acrobats.

There were only three dances- albeit long dances with two intermissions. The first one was disappointing. We both had the same assessment- classical, competently performed, uninspired. I suspect as an ethnically based troupe they feel compelled to display their classical chops- like that will give them credibility in the serious dance world. But you don't go to see a troupe that is focused on its cultural heritage to see its interpretation of the established dance world. If you go to see a Latino troupe you want hot, passionate & sexy in the tradition of flamenco & tango.

And dish it up, they did.

The second dance Nube Blanco started off as a contemporary dance tango- the give and violent take of a relationship. The women were dressed in very frothy tulle crinolines, which were beautiful to see swaying with their movements. The whole troupe had red shoes which acted as the only color and as props. The shoes came off, were left alone on the stage in neat patterns, they were used as a phone, or picked up and moved around the stage with the dancers. At one point the dancers only wore one shoe- making their gait almost zombie-like as they danced with two different length legs. Throughout the dancers shed clothing until they were left in only black briefs and bras (for the women). The dance ended with a dancer sheathed neck to knees in the crinolines- the fluffy white cloud of the title- dancing amongst the nearly naked bodies. It was both beautiful and silly. The choreographer did not shy away from humor. Finally the stage cleared of all dancers but the white cloud who ended head down to slowly extend a beautiful, black leg to the ceiling. It was entrancing. My boyfriend leaned over and said "That was worth the price of admission right there."

The final dance was Batucada Fantastica, a series of solos culminating in an ensemble finale. It was based on the Brazilian Carnivale, complete with the raucous street music. Each dancer had their own shockingly colored outfit to add to the party atmosphere. And as it that was not enough they used dry ice & dropped confetti. It was very theatrical but it was no mere substitute for good dancing. It became a part of the dance.

If you have a chance to see them-go! And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fabulous programming of the Dana Center at St Anselm College and its director, Bob Shea. They consistently bring in dance troupes and under appreciated musicians. Support them, support the arts.

Monday, April 27, 2009

This Just In.....

Someone from the NNIC (Navy Network Information Center) googled "shotgun style sprinkler riser" and I came up #2. Google rocks... or I do.

Giggle! Or almost as funny is that someone googled "rich Capricorns" and I came up #4. Now THAT is rich.

Weekend of Gardening

It was a beautiful weekend in the neighborhood. It was warm, sunny and the temperatures soared into the low 90's. A little hot for April- but I'll take it.

The spring bulbs are out in full force- behold some of my favorite crocuses. The ground still looks barren as most plants are just starting to put forth. It makes my heart flutter- rhubarb nodules that look like something from outer space, red peony shoots, brussel sprout shaped sedum stalks.

Many things took a beating this winter- the wind is vicious in my little micro-climate. Whole patches of stachys byzantia are limping into the season- even with healthy patches just 3 feet away. One of my treasured Black Lace Elderberries had to be cut back to a nub as its branches had turned to mush.

I bought three Variegated Euphorbias last year. One just never really took. I figured the winter had done it in. When I dug it out its roots were healthy though. I dusted them off them off to find the roots were all swirled into a tight circular ball. The grower had probably started plugs in tiny pots so the roots had no where to go but in a circle. They then put the plug into a larger pot- after shooting it full of fertilizer to make a showy, topside display- and passed it on to me. The little thing never had a chance. So I teased out the tangled mess, splayed the roots in a new hole and will give the baby another chance.

I had to put new moss into the sculpture by the front door. Every year it seems to lose a little bit so I hunt for the stuff that grows on granite to ensure the transplant. I like to trim it up so it makes a tidy display- almost like you can read the symbol. One of these days I'll ask the the artist if it means anything.

The boyfriend has put up his pirate flag to ward off garden evil. In case marauders don't get the message he has draped a Robin carcass over it too. Not that Robins are marauders but it does send a message of "we don't fool around in this here garden- Arrrgh."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Minor Domestic Goddess

It is a very slow morning here at the ranch. I slept till 7, which is the equivalent of most people sleeping till noon. My body is a little spent after yesterday's gardening exertions, but I will do it again today.

But before all the fun, I took care of a few things- putting the laundry on the line so it has time to dry before the predicted afternoon thunder showers. Read the paper. Make myself buckwheat pancakes.

For those of you who can eat wheat, you have probably never wandered down the gluten free path paved with such delicacies as corn tortilla sandwiches and buckwheat pancakes. They are actually pretty good, as long as you don't think of them as a substitute- they are a food unto themselves. Buckwheat pancakes taste like they might be good for you- a little gritty and heavy, but covered in maple syrup they are divine.

The boyfriend requested blueberries in them. He is a fiend about picking them so our freezer is still stocked with wild & cultivated blueberries. We need to make an effort to get them all eaten as the next blueberry season is right around the corner. I think we started the fall with 15 gallons in the freezer. Such a burden!

I have discovered an alternate use for blueberries; they hold heat better than a rock wall. Being the scientist/glutton that I am, I ate the pancakes fresh off the griddle. Cooked fruit is searingly hot. Perhaps they could be enlisted in the burgeoning green movement? Passive solar storage? I suspect blueberry floors would bring another set of problems that I haven't thought about yet. I do think it is worth exploring though.

Well- off for my morning walk and other scientific discoveries.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hot Dog!

This is just a quick post as I am quickly heading to my reading/sleeping place after a long day of working out my wheelbarrow. It was 91 degrees on our back porch and 90 degrees on the front porch. Took Henry for a little pre-dinner spin around the yard. I have been watching this pile of snow in the field next to ours. This is what it looked like at 5:30 tonight. I bet it will be gone tomorrow.

Henry is in the photo to provide scale.

Bossy Capricorn's Book Review

A few weeks back I ran out of things to read and pleaded for recommendations from friends. Reading recommendations are a dodgy thing as tastes are so idiosyncratic. I have a preference for nonfiction. I am also pretty intolerant of bad or uninteresting writing. Things I have loved and recommended to others have fallen flat. Then, as a smitten reader, you are left trying to decide if the book was faulty or the friend you recommended it to is ignorant.

Despite my predilection for nonfiction I read a novel that was recommended to me- Penelope Lively's The Photograph. While it was a bit slow to start, it sucked me in rather quickly and deposited me back into my life after a rather disturbing ending. Without giving away the whole book - a husband finds a compromising photo of his wife several years after her death. He then tries to figure out the mystery of her by tracking down family members and the players from the photograph.

The disturbing part of the book is that mystery of how well you ever know anyone, even those you are the most intimate with. So often people project on to others their own views and don't bother to really look or listen. There is also that more benign negligence of thinking you know someone simply because you have known them for years.

I suppose this need to know people better should also be tempered by the horrifying aspects of knowing someone well. I am not sure where I fall on this spectrum, but this book certainly churned up a lot of thought on the subject.

Two thumbs up from the Bossy Capricorn. Get thee to a library!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day In The Life Of My Garden- April 19, 2009

I pulled my planter out of my compost pile and it looks like my experiment is successful. The plants are alive & thriving. The Lamb's Ear looks a little worse for the wear, but it does in the garden too. I have learned not to mess with it too early in the spring or you risk killing it. It is so tempting to pull off all those matted, grey leaves.

I decided it was time to finally finish up the bed I started last fall. I had taken out all of the grass & birch tree roots- big job! Today I leveled out the soil and then immediately messed it up by bringing over a couple of loads of compost. The compost was a job in itself. It wasn't totally broken down so I had to speed up the process with an old lawn mower. My trusty assistant, Henry, made sure that it was properly cooked by testing it periodically.

I turned the compost in by hand with my garden spade. The tank in the background is the old cistern from when the property was a golf course back in the 60's.

After all the soil prep was done I started hunting around for Stella d'Oro daylilies. I know they are considered industrial landscaping plants, but I inherited them from the previous owners. They are everywhere. I figured if I corralled them into one garden they would make a nice loud display and not mar other areas with their Kraft Mac & Cheese coloring. It is also a part of my yard that really needs something to look at besides a big metal tank.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Au Naturel

I suppose I should have made a bigger deal of this then I did. I decided to stop dying my hair .... for all kinds of reasons. The last hair cut I had made the color look like a squirrel- blond, gray, brown, etc. I had it cut again about two weeks ago and whatever was left of color is now gone. I am au naturel.

I am not displeased with it. I don't think it makes me look any older than I am- 47. It doesn't look wrong with my face color or clothing & jewelry collection. I don't feel any less attractive. People have said it looks good.

On the plus side- I think it gives me an air of authority. An air that comes with age and experience.

Of course- looking at this photo I am thinking I might be in need of an eyebrow & eyelash transplant, and those freckles are totally out of control.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Special Delivery

We just had a new front walk installed- isn't it beautiful? The boyfriend was having an issue with the snow & ice removal on a walkless walk. This was the solution.

Look closely- notice the tire tracks through the freshly laid soil? I saw it one morning and assumed the boyfriend had problems backing out of his parking place. The next morning I noticed a parallel set. Who could possibly be having such a difficult time negotiating our driveway- which is a long, sweeping arc?

Could it be our newspaper delivery guy? The one who drove over the lawn instead of negotiating the ruts of our gravel drive that is the birthright of any lucky enough to live in the Northeast in Spring? So out come the sawhorses we use to help drivers ford the natural path to our house without sinking up to their hubcaps in the lawn. Now they keep the delivery guy from getting two feet closer to our front door.... the better to toss the newspaper under the porch or into a bush.

Sheesh! I know JAF has her own issues with newspaper delivery too. Apparently this teabag thing is a pretty big tent so perhaps if the two of us throw teabags at them we could get some consideration for helping to pay newspaper delivery guys' salaries.... kinda' like customer service or something.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Yippee This! Yippee That!

Yippee! Daffodils are nodding in the sunlight.

Yippee! The daffodils are displaying perfect timing by holding back in others parts of my garden so I get a long display.

Yippee! The sedum is sprouting its blood red leaflets.

Yippee! The yarrow is exposing its feathery fronds.

Yippee! Snowdrops! Need I say more?

Yippee! Easter colored crocuses.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

REALLY? That's Impressive!

Henry isn't really throwing up here, but he could be.

"Really? That's impressive" said Louise in response to my sharing that the last time I threw up was 7 years ago.

She stopped in to my workplace and was helping me convert Word files into Excel- something I didn't even know was possible. I was recounting the last few day's horrors. She wanted to know if the doctor had prescribed anything for the pain.

"Yeah, vicodin, but the label didn't mention anything about taking it with food," I replied. I took it as prescribed through the previous evening and night. I took one on awakening and then went for my morning walk. I arrived back home and immediately tossed my cookies.

I hate throwing up so much that I can remember the exact time I last did it- It would have been August of 2002. I would almost rather die than throw up.

Thank goodness I have a cast iron stomach- most of the time.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

These Boots Were Made For Walking

I was reading in the newspaper about the Climate-Change Czarina, Carol Browner. The reporter was clearly impressed that this woman walked a mile to work- everyday! And in stylish clothing!

I walk approximately 5 miles about 4-5 mornings each week. I like it. It is fun and good exercise. It is , decidedly, not a big deal. On many work days I do errands on foot. The trip to my bank and back is about a mile. It takes me 20 minutes to go in both directions. My dog likes the walk too as many of the establishments we visit have cookies as a reward for being so well behaved in a queue.

I am not listing my walking routine to impress, but to show that walking has simply become part of my life. My 5 mile walk takes me about an hour and 15 minutes- longer if I run into a neighbor to talk to. My walk gives me a complete hour to think and arrange my day- only interrupted by the tweets and cackles of the birds.

So many people think that this amount of walking is a superhuman feat, but it is, quite literally, as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. Many are defeated in exercise programs because they feel they can never accomplish their goals. The reality is they just need to adjust how they think.

I use to be a long distance biker. My mother would wistfully dream of joining me on a jaunt so one Mother's Day I told her we would spend the weekend biking to my brother's house in Newmarket and back- about 75 miles round trip. I promised her she would make it and if we ran into any steep hills we would walk up them. I am pretty sure she doubted she could actually do it. But do it, she did- and it became an annual Mother's Day ride. It also changed her attitude about what she was capable of physically.

I think there are a lot of things in life that are like this. If you can break an impossible job into smaller tasks it can become doable. When I feel swamped by something I pick smaller parts of the problem to tackle. Eventually things are not so overwhelming and the problem is solved.

It reminds me that I keep dreaming of walking to Montreal. I bet I can.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

And The Cycle Continues

It was sunny but still breezy & cool today. Nevertheless, it was above freezing and there is very little snow left around the yard. So that, right there, is reason to celebrate with a little early spring yard work.

I clipped all of last season's echinacea from the front of the house. I enjoy looking at their dark brown seed heads all winter, but now they are bent and broken. There is also signs of life around their roots- I need to make way for that!

I clipped all the Miscanthus backs to its base to make way for this year's growth. Most of their beautiful stalks were broken in the ice storm back in December so they are not as graceful as they might normally be anyways. I also raked a large pile of twigs and pine needles over the banking- the detritus of a fallen tree from the same storm.

There is not much to look at, unless you get down on your hands and knees and lift up dead basal leaves to take a peep. It is still satisfying work. All that promise!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Loss of Innocence... Again

I am feeling amazingly betrayed by the medical profession right now. It feels a lot like losing my innocence. Aren't they Gods? Don't they know everything? I know they try to let you make your own choices after they present all the options.... but aren't they suppose to present you with all the information? I believed in them.

After seeing dentists, endodontists, physicians & periodontists over the last week and 1/2 it turns out I will have a tooth pulled next week. I was informed that I have major bone loss and probably have been living with an infection in my jaw for years.

I am one of those wacky "body is a temple" people. The loss of a body part is traumatic and calls for nightly crying jags- even when it is a body part as insignificant as a tooth. It seems like such a defilement of my body. Where were all the medical professionals that I pay good money to during the years this infection was festering? I am guessing that they were busy at professional development courses and couldn't be bothered with actual patient care.

I want to blame someone for this defilement of my body. I have to wonder at dentists & physicians who blithely diagnosed sinus infections over the last ten years despite the only symptom being pain in the teeth, jaw & head. Why did I pay for X-rays of my mouth every year? Clearly they weren't to detect any hidden problems or disease. I am guessing they eased a cash flow problem.

There is this incredible fear of single payer health care in this country... that somehow quality will go downhill if the Government takes over. I have a hard time believing that it could be any worse than it currently is or cost any more. I do recognize that each individual needs to advocate for themselves and educate themselves on all options. Paying good money and being diligent about seeing your doctors is no guarantee that you are getting quality care.

"Get use to it, honey" said my partner about my failure of faith in doctors. "It is going to happen a lot more as you get older." I think she was saying that as you need doctors more and more because your body is breaking down, you can count on them less and less.