Thursday, December 31, 2009

Muculent Nature

I’m thinking about frogs and salamanders. And fish. Otherworldly varmints with slippery skins and wet unseeing eyes. I’d like to cradle more fish, frogs and salamanders in my hand: Squat in the cold water. Between the weedy banks of the narrow creek behind Grandmother’s house in Gate City. In the summer sun. With the ichthyologic smell of fresh water. My top half dry. Crawdads threatening to pinch my knees.

I should have plucked more of them up while I could. I should have let my toes squish deeper into the mud, without dread of the slimy or sharp or inscrutable thing in the water.

My mother played in that creek as a kid. Sixty years on she’s still comfortable with the squashy and the miry. She never fears what lurks beneath the water.

When I swim in a river, lake or pond, I launch myself across the surface to quickly gain some depth. I don’t want my toes to touch anything creepy. And I never ever peer into the water: There could be a skull or a bit of bone, or something half eaten, or – shit – just a bunch of scary weeds waving at me, urging me to look at the bloodcurdling, cramp-inducing object hidden at their roots.

But Mom never hesitates. Slips right into the murky pond with her pants rolled above her knees, her salamander-belly calves glistening against the water line, her long skinny toes spreading in the mud. Sunk in the sludgy, bottomless pleasure of Creation.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Elated Potential 2010

Elated Potential

Two words typed
in a box
on a screen
so I could send my friend
a New York Times movie review

Elated potential
in a box
in a frame
portending good


And a new year
just three days away

Monday, November 16, 2009

A New Poem I'm Working On

Fuck Mary Oliver!

My unfinished masterpiece
with the great opening line

They’ll shout it on NPR
and ask me how
I’m so honest,
so hate and spite full,
jealous and angry,
fucking brilliant!

Fuck Mary Oliver!


I spit at her feet
marble feet of the virgin
worn hermit boots
reading glasses
dead muse
cableknit New England sweaters
foxes, bears, geese, sunflowers

I sprout welts from grass
hives from cats
burn from sun
cramp from crouching

Fuck Mary Oliver!

Poems that held me.
Tea stained, bath wet,
dog eared, yellow

Like sycamore leaves
fallen cold in a black pond
in the fading light of a clearing
on the last day of November

Fuck her!
I mean it.
Meeting deer at dawn?
Hearing grasshoppers scratching?
Sleeping in an old truck tire?
Channeling a dying fox?

I have sandwiches to create:
Mayonnaise, whole wheat,
smoked turkey, salami.
Mustard maybe.

A job.
A home.
A plan.
No time to lose.
No dew spackled pretties.
No deep, no hungry.
No trouble.
No messy.

Raw and real: too beautiful for me

Monday, September 7, 2009

Family Meeting

At dinner with friends who don’t have children, my partner and I were talking about the family meeting we’d held earlier that day. The meeting had been fairly productive, and had not disintegrated too quickly into name calling and stomping out of the room. We were pleased, overall.

Our friends thought this was quite amusing. A family meeting?

“You’re joking, right?” asked one of our companions.

“Oh yes, it’s funny alright,” my spouse said, “The only family meeting we ever had growing up were the ones where the back of my dad’s hand met our face.”

My own parents never hit me without making a formal announcement of my impending spanking.  It was never heat of the moment. But I recall so many painful "family meetings" from my childhood.

One sprang to mind: All of us gathered around the Buick parked in my grandparents' Florida driveway.  It was early morning, a couple of days after Christmas.  Dad threw a protracted cuss-word-filled tantrum over how the suitcases wouldn’t fit in the trunk because we'd packed too much stuff and we were greedy ungrateful children with too many goddam presents.

Is it more evolved to sit down with one’s children and offer everyone a chance to have their say? Or is it better to lay down the law, back it up with some shouting, be prepared to pull off your belt?

I was walking home from the grocery store today and as I rounded the corner I heard a child crying full out.

“You hurt my feelings!” she wailed, as her mother leaned over to see what was the matter, “You hurt my feelings bad!”

“I’m sorry,” the mother began, kneeling, “Tell me, honey.  What did I say that hurt your feelings?”

I continued walking, happy that this child's mom was trying a gentler way. So often, when I witness a kid pitching a fit, I cringe as I watch the parent jerk her arm, or pluck her up and drag her outside, or slap her right there in the doorway to Best Buy:

“Quit your crying right now. Quit it. Or I’ll…”

photo courtesy of Flickr, author Crimfants

Friday, September 4, 2009

There but for the Grace…

We decide that, thirteen and entering 7th grade, he’s plenty old enough to ride the bus by himself.

So, we arm him with a cell phone and instruct him to call upon reaching the bus stop three blocks from school and upon exiting the bus three blocks from his tutoring appointment.

I force myself not to ask for him to check in upon leaving school, upon embarking on the bus, upon disembarking from the bus, upon reaching the math tutor’s, upon leaving the math tutor’s to walk the five blocks home. Don’t want to worry the kid unnecessarily.

I come home. So does the dad. The big brother drags in from high school. It’s Friday afternoon and we’re – uncharacteristically – sitting in the living room chit chatting. We’re speculating about how the younger son is doing with his bus trip.

I’m checking the Chronicle’s website for a movie listing. And there’s the blazing headline:

A boy's horror on his
first solo Muni ride

Sure enough, a darling eleven year-old boy – riding the bus alone for the first time – was stabbed by a crazy man. The kid was on his way home from baseball practice.

According to the report, the boy’s mother “made sure her son repeatedly called her from his cell phone to give progress reports on his ride home.”

“Oh my god,” I choke, “Can you believe this?” I read the lead paragraph.

The dad has the bad taste to ask if it’s our son in the paper. I can’t help but almost laugh.

There’d be no almost-laughing if Hatim, the sixth grader who was attacked, hadn’t undergone surgery and wasn’t now listed in good condition at the hospital.

“It was like something you see on TV – only it was in this life with my child,” the mother was quoted as saying.

I hugged my boy extra tight when he got home.

They haven’t caught the creep who did it yet, and the surveillance tape on the bus came out blank.

Moon Rings

He never said so emphatically
but I knew just the same
that he didn’t love me and never would.

I was still determined to love him
and the moon lit up that night with
a ring around it confirming the sad truth.

So many moons,
and rings
and nights washed by waiting

If you’re reading this
don’t think you’re him:
You’re not.

image A 22 degree halo around the moon, as seen from Boulder, Colorado by Hustvedt

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

It's a Jungle Out There

Adrian Monk. Hottie. We love him. Quirky, lovable, detestable, strange. We’ve watched – or at least my sons have watched – nearly all the episodes of the tv show Monk.

Obsessive compulsive disorder. That’s what the character “Monk” and one of my sons have in common.

When my little guy was first diagnosed I would never ever ever have shown him an episode of Monk, which – if you’re not familiar – chronicles the comical life of a San Francisco detective who has a severe case of OCD.

Yet somehow, one day, when I wasn’t thinking clearly, when I was tired, when I was hungry, when I was just trying to get home, when I was trying not to rent another action or fantasy dvd ala Lord of the Rings or Iron Man or Alien vs. Predator, I grabbed a box of Monk.

Granted, my son had his OCD relatively under control at that point. But still: Here’s a guy who had been paralyzed with having to put his jacket on a certain way, having to sit in his desk a certain way, having to look under the bed a certain number of times before going to sleep at night. Here’s that same guy laughing his head off at a fellow who touches parking meters as he walks down the street, who wishes for square-shaped tomatoes for his BLT sandiwches, who needs an assistant to stand by and supply him with hand wipes so he can get through a normal day.

After regular visits with Adrian Monk – and a bunch of cognitive behavioral therapy – my son can laugh at Monk and himself. And he notices when I group my M & Ms into symmetrical piles of three. No three with the same color. All of them arranged like three-leaf clovers in my palm. Eaten only in threes. Eaten only after inspection and proper disbursement.

Hmmm. Wonder where he got that OCD?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cat Bath

I’m about to bring out a new condo listing and I’ve offered my client a little extra help because he’s a man living on his own without a helpmate and he’s out of state at the moment helping his father who is also a man living on his own without a helpmate.

A helpmate wipes down the kitchen counter, gathers the recycling, notices the PG&E bill is late, reattaches the dryer hose, takes the car to be washed, talks to the neighbors about the clanging gate, goes to the hardware store for a new toilet flange, empties the dishwasher, sweeps the soot from the front stairs.

The helpmate performs these tasks while you strain penne pasta, remove the dripping compost, balance the checkbook, procure washable placemats, clean the chocolate from around the cabinet handles, hang the delicates to dry, write a thank -you note, toss the moldy strawberries, scrub the floor of the shower.

I’ve been helping my bachelor client by having keys made and meeting the housecleaner and letting the technician in to reverse the handle on the new fridge door. As a matter of fact, at this moment, I’m sitting on the living room sofa in my new listing enjoying a summer-grey view of Ashbury Heights, while the window washer washes the windows. I’m hearing squeegee squeaks, water dripping and the thunk of a bucket on the floor.

There’s a cat in the window across the street. Actually, I’m not sure it’s a cat because I can’t quite see it, but its movements suggest a cat. Some flicks and flashes, languorous stretching, burst of orange fur. Or is it someone washing their hands at the sink? Yes. Someone is at the sink. Someone washing a cat?

Before I sat down here on the couch I peeled the blue plastic off the new stainless refrigerator and stove in the kitchen. I’m sitting because it was exhausting! I swear it took 30 minutes of carefully distributing the weight of my fingers on the edge of the film and then pulling – slowly, evenly and firmly. It was a lot like removing the barcode label from the glass front of a picture frame. One false move and you’re hosed. If it comes off clean, you’re a hero.

I need to remember to bring over some WD40 later, in order to clean up the fingerprints on the stainless surface. Never, ever buy stainless appliances is my advice: Unless you can afford to hire a full-time stainless cleaner or unless you appreciate that quaint smudgy spattered look. Then again, you could just leave the factory plastic wrap in place. It’s actually rather striking, reminiscent of a robins-egg-blue Frigidaire.

Now, back to the window across the way: Is he really washing a cat?

Monday, August 10, 2009


On the way to my son’s dermatology appointment he said “She’ll just shrug when she sees me and she’ll say it’s not so bad.”

His acne, that is, and I knew he was right. The doctor was going to say it was improving and that patience was required. My son would probably be disappointed, because he wanted the bomb, the cure, the magic. Like back when there were no STDs – just VD and it could be taken care of with a pill.

I sat in the waiting room wondering what skin conditions had brought those people to the dermatologist. Their faces looked fine. A bad rash? Scabies? The heartbreak of psoriasis? Bumps, scars, fissures, pits, scrapes, nits, protrusions, cysts, melanoma? One of those ghastly conditions pictured in a medical book? Every time I get an itch I consult that book so I’m well acquainted with the photographs.

I’ve had my share of skin problems. Acne. Contact dermatitis. Poison ivy. Rosacea. Hives after a night of adventure when I was 18: I woke up writhing, with welts all over my body for the first and only time in my life. I was sure it was brought on by doing it with a boy I’d just met at a bar, or using a fake i.d. to get into the bar, or drinking mass quantities of alcohol at the bar. This is the punishment I deserve, I decided, for screwing strangers and guzzling Singapore Slings.

The doctor prescribed some new cream for my boy and we walked to the pharmacy, where I looked around and wondered exactly what had brought all these people to the drug store. What, I considered, were their stories? Would I really want to know? Or would it be too upsetting?

After the little box of balm was paid for, we stepped into the sunshine. My son was blinking and looking up at the blue sky day. I was pretty sure he wished he didn’t have to go to school.

“You know, here I am worrying about my acne, just a normal part of life,” he said, “and there were all those other people coming in for their problems. They probably had worse problems than me. It makes you think, huh?”

He smiled and that cute little dimple of his appeared among the zits. I thought to myself (but didn’t say), “Gosh, you are a handsome young man!”

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Life During Wartime

The sound of gunfire, off in the distance, I’m getting’ used to it now. (Life During Wartime, Talking Heads)

I’m not really getting used to it. As in, I haven’t accepted it. But I’ve been hearing a lot of it lately since we moved from our house to a condo. Our television is no longer sequestered on a separate floor. It’s smack in the middle of the living room.

Rat a tat tat. Bursts of bullets. Blunt explosions. Shouted orders. Cries of anguish. Urgent orchestral strings. My boys transfixed with their PS3 controls glued to their fingers and thumbs.

A girlfriend of mine told me recently that her boys (same ages as mine) don’t play video games anymore. Been there, done that. They started at a younger age, while we chose not to open this particular Pandora’s Box until the middle-school years.

So now I’m cooking with my ipod on or hiding in the bedroom or going for another walk in the park. And when it really gets to be too much, I stand in front of the TV and make a time-out sign with my hands while my boys cry in anguish.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm Just a Love Machine

An earworm is trying to eat its way out of my brain. That’s earworm as in Ohrwurm which, according to Wikipedia, means "music being stuck in one's head” in German.

The Miracles (post-Smokey Robinson) are singing and dancing all over my cerebellum, punctuating the inane lyrics to Love Machine: “I’m just a love machine, and I won’t work for nobody but you.”

Comes a memory of a night on the leather couch in our basement den on Laurel Street, circa 1975. I was making out with the baddest of the bad boys at Harrisonburg High: M. J. Durell. This boy and I had no business together except monkey business. He had eyes green like hard candy and a crooked nose that made him tough and tender all at once. And I knew that he knew exactly what he wanted.

Dark. Late. Stoned. Horny. My parents off at a party. “Midnight Special” droning on the television. M. J.’s fingers hooking around the crotch of my cotton panties. My jeans out of reach under the coffee table. Me thinking maybe it’s time. Maybe this is what I want.

I don’t remember the exact words or the exact moves. It’s all murky mossy after 34 years underwater. But he had a rubber, and I looked away at Dad's recliner while he put it on. Then he was over me, breathing loudly and trying to get his thing in me.

That’s when The Miracles intervened, singing urgently from within the TV: “I’m just a love machine, and I won’t work for nobody but you. Yeah, baby, I’m just a love machine. A hugging, kissing fiend…”

The insistent beat, the burning vocals, calling, calling to me. Gosh, I thought, as M. J. adjusted and tried again, I’m not just a love machine. I won’t work for nobody. Not you. Not now. It's not too late to change my mind. It's not too late to say no.

He never called me again after that.

Friday, June 5, 2009

To Mend or Not to Mend

I want to repair a shirt, not a relationship. I want to sew on a button.

I keep a box three inches deep in buttons of every color and shape. I also own a basket of sewing notions. Both are a quiet comfort to me.

Instead of meditating, instead of looking for the right poem, instead of throwing the Tarot, instead of calling the wise counselor I should just reach into my sewing basket and pick up my pin cushion. Little Chinese guys clinging to a soft life raft. Feel the needles and pins blunted against my palm.

As a little girl I loved my mom’s Chinese life raft pin cushion. Now I’m grown up and I own two of them. I think I’ll remove one from my basket and set it on my altar. Take away the Buddha and Ganesh and Tara. Take away the shells and stones and the soft felt hearts my boys have sewn over the years. Replace it all with the little pin cushion men. I can hold them in my hand when I need to cry. I can put them to my ear when I need a kind word.

Give me time to embroider, to make tiny x’s in cotton chambray. Let me hold a needle and thread, and feel the silver sliver tap against the metal thimble. Or the wooden thimble. I have both kinds. I’m so well stocked.

I have embroidery thread in every color, and patterns to make, and seams to finish, and hems to let out. But I’m in no mood for mending. Just let me play with my needle. Or let me lie down. Take a nap. Or watch that hawk in the tree. Or have another glass of wine. Watch the Marx Brothers. See the sun make a patch on the wall. No piece work, please.

Monday, May 25, 2009

My teenager struggles with writers cramp

and his disgust over his brother’s juice stained shirt
plus his brain is cramping
and there’s nothing good in the fridge
and the carpool dad was 10 minutes late

His mother is trying to help
She tells him "your mother actually knows something about writing"
She says “I just wrote this poem to show you it’s easy,

Nobody said it has to be a good poem!
Even good poems suck at first!

Ah, well,
I don’t blame him
He has a bad bad cramp
He’s in the depths of uncreativeness
He doesn’t like the dumb assignment

It's just Stupid,
and he's awfully tired

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Z Brush Spam Folder**

see your love tool growing
all you need is a blue pill for bed

have an easier time making
her ensure your potence

make love everywhere
feel more relaxed where you go

quarantine summary
knocking them all out

**poem devised of verbatim subject lines -- in the order they were sent -- from my spam folder on the morning of 5/20/09

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Smells Like Teen Spirit

When I was 13 my family moved to a new town where, I prayed, I’d have another shot at being popular. Indeed, my new-girl status vaulted me to the middle of the social strata in my 8th grade year. But it was plain as my dishwater blonde hair that I’d never climb higher unless I made cheerleader.

I went out for the JV squad in May. The odds weren’t good: Spots for eight rising freshmen and sophomores. Four incumbents likely to keep their pompoms. 80 girls auditioning.

The winners would be chosen by totaling the points from three categories of competition – judges’ assessment of cheering skills, students’ popular vote and teachers’ rating of academic promise and/or moral fiber.

According to the judges I was run of the mill, lacking in true teen spirit I supposed (since I was interested only in personal gain). The students placed me below average, assuredly because of my flat chest and legs so skinny my knee socks constantly puddled around my ankles. But in the teachers’ opinion I was Number One, perhaps due to the influence of my parents, both of whom served on the faculty. For once, being a teacher’s kid had its perks.

I came in 9th and was named as first alternate in case one of the lucky eight was killed in a drunken car crash (or died from anorexia, which actually happened the following spring but basketball season was nearly over so they didn’t bother altering the deceased’s skirt to fit me). I was devastated not to make the original squad, and felt cheated when I wasn’t asked to step up to the sidelines and take over for Janet Cookman.

Looking back now, it was a narrow escape. How close I came to disaster! I could easily have ended up being popular in high school, and that surely would have ruined my life.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Waiting for the 28

“It’s unbelievable. Unbelievable!” said my 15-year-old son.

It was 8:45 p.m. and I pictured him leaning against the icy fog wind at the corner of 19th and Sloat. He was at the bus stop and had “already been waiting for like 10 minutes” for the 28 to show. He usually rides the bus during commuter hours, but he’d performed with his high school choir that evening.

“Honey,” I said, “You know the buses don’t run as frequently at night. Not even the 28.”

“Oaaghh,” he groaned into his thin red cell phone, “Oaarrrghh.”

“Would you like me to check online to see when the next bus is coming?”


“Hold on for a minute.”

“OK. I can’t believe this. It’s so annoying.”

I looked on the MUNI website for real time information on the 28.

“It says the next bus is coming in 15 minutes.”

“What!!!? 15 minutes!” he bellowed, “You have got to be kidding me. That is ridiculous!”

“Well, yes, that’s what it says. It’s nighttime…”

“15 minutes. Oaaagh. Mom, will you come get me?”

I thought for a moment about him standing on that wind whipped corner with the traffic swooshing by and the fog creeping over him like Jack the Ripper. He’d looked so handsome in his black suit.

“Well, honey, you know that by the time I reach you the bus will be there.”


“You know, honey? Right?”

“ALL….right,” he said.

“Are you cold?”


“Well, get in the bus shelter.”

He wasn’t dressed warmly enough but there was no use saying so. It would be annoying to him.

“If the bus doesn’t come soon, call us back.”

Twenty-five minutes passed. Any moment he’d be here.

We heard the door open, and he came in, removing his jacket. His shirt was soaked through. His hair was dripping. His face was lobster red: He’d run the three miles home. In his dress shoes. In his tie. In the fog. Uphill.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hot (Not) Water

You worked the phone and keyboard most of the day. You picked lettuce and dead headed those dumb yellow flowers that keep dying off like salmon. You made sloppy joe’s for dinner, which is actually your favorite weeknight dish though you blame it on the boys. You did the dishes and sponged off the countertops.

You poured a glass of wine, grabbed a New Yorker and cranked open the tub faucets for a nice hot soak. While the water ran you threw socks in the hamper, picked out a cute dress for tomorrow and entered the other bathroom to select a fresh fluffy towel and…aaaaaeegggh…found it all steamed up from one of your teenager’s vacation-long showers.

This meant your bath was as cold as pond water. But without the mud and frogs and refreshing aquatic scent. Bummer.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Experimenting with Poetry

At Little Lake

OK, you’re not here but walk with me anyway
in this scraped-out forest
with its grimy snow
and its wet wet wood
and its rotten leaves

OK, you’re not here but you’re pointing out
the lime candy lichen
raccoon-paw puddles
that raven glistening on a black soaked branch

OK, you’re not here but I can
hear water sucking over stones
see the fox who sees me back
feel the blunt back edge of the slicing wind

OK, you’re not here but spring soon will be

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Procrastination = Poem

Orange poppy

Orange the color Mom said not to wear
Orange the heart-thumping sunrise
Poppy with germy hands in Seinfeld
Poppy so fun to p-p-pronounce
Orange poppy a weed in California
Orange poppy exotic back home
(my inspiration: photo by Peter deZordo)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Guard Dragon

Maybe if I mount this feller on top of my roof he'll ward off would-be soap snatchers? Photo by my friend Peter deZordo.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Stolen Staging

Who did it? Who?

Who pocketed that dainty round bar of soap – still in its pleated paper wrapper? I’ll admit it was pretty as a piece of candy. That’s why I put it there: in the clean white soap dish, next to the glass of cotton balls, beside the fluffy white towels, atop the shiny marble counter top, in my master bathroom.

Twenty years of doing open houses and never has a client reported a theft. Then today, in my own home, in my own bathroom! A kleptomaniac strikes.

They didn’t take the prescription drugs or the jewelry or the painted decorative box or the cell-phone charger tucked hurriedly in a drawer next to the toothpaste. Only that cute cake of soap.

Whoever you are: Bring me a full-price offer on the house and all is forgiven!

Over His Shoulder, Through the Window

This is a photo of a photo I took 28 years ago at a Mennonite estate sale in Virginia. The original photo was part of a series I did for a photojournalism class at VCU. A few weeks ago, I sold the photo frame (with the photo in it) during a yard sale but snapped this picture beforehand.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ahoy Mateys: A Poem

Pirate Picture
by Cynthia Cummins

Out of the bath
and brushing my teeth
a message appears in the mirror
from my son

It's a boat with three sails
waves below
and a pirate with sword, off to the side

Drawn with a mushy finger the night before
by a naked boy
still wet
his towel hanging, swamping him
as he leans over the vanity

His picture has been there all day
emerging now from the fog

So much I miss
so much I have missed
going on in his beautiful life

Friday, April 24, 2009

Things to Do in the Belly of a Whale

I like the idea of being swallowed by a whale, without any hope of rescue. I'd be able to abandon all hope, stop fooling around and finally get on with my life.

Maybe, after a while, walking around the whale belly would seem normal. Strolling from stem to stern would be as ordinary as going down to the corner for a pack of Marlboro lights or stopping at Trader Joe’s for cheap organic lemonade or dropping by Kinko’s to make some copies. No cigarettes allowed in the whale belly, but that’s ok since I don’t smoke.

Going to work would be straightforward, 9 to 5. I’d begin my shift by punching the clock. It would be a clever clock made of blubber, not unlike the live-bird quitting-time whistle in The Flintstones credits. Now wouldn’t that be fun to live in a cartoon version of the whale: Everything clean and shiny and in primary colors? You wouldn’t have to worry about stepping into some blobby pink bit like you see inside the rib cage of a chicken ready for roasting.

Maybe I’d have a mate in the belly with me. I’d improvise a grill from some old radiator parts and he’d catch fish. He’d make knives out of bone. I’d use sea salt liberally. We'd eat at a little table made of driftwood, and there’d be a lamp fueled with whale oil. But soon we’d run out of things to talk about and I’d be searching the swirling water every time the whale opened its mouth, hoping (alas) for somebody new to wash in. I’d be hoping for a new man. Maybe a better one than this one. Maybe I won’t be disappointed this time.

From a writing exercise posed by Laurie Wagner, inspired by a poem by Dan Albergotti

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why Finger Puzzled?

Because apparently Finger Trap is slang for something, ahem, slightly unsavory. Because I love the way those little colorful woven cylinders look. Because there's nary a beat between the urge to stick your fingers in and the actual sticking in of the fingers. Because "puzzle" sounds better than jail, prison or cuffs, although those terms might have some special appeal for a special population. Because a Finger Puzzle is a metaphor for solving a problem by not trying too hard to solve the problem and, god knows, I need to try "softer," as Lily Tomlin once said. Softer, not harder. Softer, not harder.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Eating Crow

So, I’m holding open a house on one of those all-too-rare sunny hot San Francisco Sundays. The house has a gorgeous garden. All the favorite Realtors’ adjectives apply: incredible, amazing, unparalleled, stunning, spectacular, unrivaled, and so on.

There are Meyer lemons and vining roses. There are roses and lavender. There are trees shimmering in the soft, warm breeze. And in the center is a bird bath where tiny yellow songbirds are splashing joyfully. Mother Nature herself is helping to stage this beautiful home!

Into this urban idyll flaps a gianormous black crow with — get this — a whole cupcake in its beak, purloined from a kid birthday two fences over. And BAM! He (or she) bombs it right into the birdbath. Tweeties scatter. The cupcake disintegrates upon impact, forming a scummy soup with a ridged wrapper floating on top.

So much for Staging by Mother Nature. And guess who gets to clean it up?