...or tries to...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Ghosts of Halloween Past

Halloween from days gone by. Well, a few years ago. Days long gone smelled like decaying maple leaves, meant parkas zipped up over home-made costumes, rain, orange and chocolate cupcakes, my mom pretending that something was climbing up the basement stairs behind me and my kitchen chair. Here, in my sub-tropical adulthood, or what has stood-in for adulthood, I've tried to make it as autumn as I can, despite all the bright sunlight. Sun has to go down some time.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunday along the St. Lucie

In this part of Florida, the southeast, you have to go north to go South. Up Interstate 95, where the back ends of industrial parks and salvage yards trail off into open fields and where you see your first citrus groves, grazing horses, herds of cattle. We were driving only an hour north, but it's just about there that the landscape starts to look like Georgia. The slash pines are taller and darker and grow closer together, the cypress trees drip moss. We're going to Stuart, a town on the St. Lucie River, not quite, but almost at the peak of our t.v. news viewing area, and somehow, though not really, very far away.

We're here, ostensibly, for a Sunday afternoon jazz concert on the river, and for that combination of water and sky and sunlight and air that seems particular to weekend afternoons, and the wonderful ordinary of this added to beach chairs and a book, bare feet, a man dancing with his chocolate lab, a kayaker drifting, ospreys circling overhead, and little kids struggling against being carried along the pier by their mom or dad or grandpa. People there only because they want to be there, in all of this.

I love my own town but it's a place of planning and action and going and getting. Up here it's slower. Stucco and Spanish tile and Art Deco never took hold, the master planners on their newly built railroad cars passed through on their way to Miami and the clapboards and shutters and porches and tin roofs remained.

But it's still Florida. They still paint things in ice cream flavors.

and all roads lead to the water's edge.

P.S. (Happy Birthday, J.!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dining Room of Horror

In the Dining Room of Horror, a nightmarish scene has been set. What terrors are lurking on the dining set from hell?

Ooh. Scary papier mache.

Do not fear. Horrifying skull is illuminated by battery-powered flicker candle so Dining Room of Horror does not catch on fire. Safety always.

Witness, if you dare, Tabby Cat of Doom considering Mortality. 

Is it his own he ponders?

Is it Death itself that earns his ire?

Or is it.......


No really. It's you. Run.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Not all that autumnal, though the orange suits the season, right? On the last afternoon before a cold front passes through Florida, I thought I would get tropical one more time. I don't dive or snorkel, I have oxygen issues, as in, if the air comes through a tube, I'm somewhere I don't want to be. But the next best thing, a very big aquarium in a seafood restaurant. Another shadowbox, in a way, a biosphere, some more amazing symbiosis:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Window Shopping

As any devotee of Project Runway knows well, the shopping mall, according to Michael Kors, is a wretched hive of spandex and acetate villainy, the standard measure of the low brow and the common. Anything that sinks below the good taste limbo pole is banished there immediately-an amusing touch of irony, considering that my local mall contains not just a golden-hued Michael Kors ready-to-wear boutique, but a glut of his low priced Macy's wear. If any designer owed a debt to the institution, at least as a bankroll for his higher pursuits, it's the CFDA award winner. I'm not a big department store shopper, having turned to resale and thrift shops years ago. And maybe it's because my nearest mall is particularly snooty-though it does have plenty of kiosks filled with glittery hair accessories a few rhinestones short of tiaras, it is, for the most part, stocked with things I plain can't afford, and never will. It's a shrine to the unattainable, not to pleather and all things flammable.  My Mom and I go there because it's like a bright shiny carousel-we don't ride the ride, but we love to look at the pretty whirling things. The colors! The lights! And it's been, lately, an amazing curiosity cabinet, the store windows like surreal full-size shadow boxes-

with backdrops made of hundreds of children's handmade butterflies,

Pink balls of yarn larger than poodles, 

Ostrich eggs hatching retail,

Marigold paper precipitation,

Ice cream at Tiffany's,

Mysterious encounters,

 Couples with eyes only for each other,

and time on their hands.

How much like the hands holding candelabras in Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast? Very much, even though their enchantment is basically a plea to buy. But if you don't buy, it can still enchant in its way. There's very little of this kind of stage craft in everyday life nowadays, so if the mall can manage to transport me on a rainy Saturday afternoon, well, take me away. 

Monday, October 10, 2011


It's October, right? I'm trying to get into the mood. But it's hard to. It's going to be 90 degrees this week. They promised us a cool front by Friday, which means a high of 86. They're selling scarves and gloves in Target, but I can't imagine wearing them, I can't even touch anything that's been knit. I wasn't born here, so I get all wish-I-was-there, which turns into a nostalgia chowder of actual childhood memories - mushy pumpkins, rakes combing through brown grass, stuffing wet leaves down the back of my brother's shirt, and autumnal Martha Stewart - spiced cider, Wellington boots, elaborate table centerpieces made of wild pheasant feathers and hand-carved gourds. I don't know if I'm missing anything real, but who cares?  Looking up at a cobalt blue sky through the acid yellow canopy of a Norway maple will always be October for me. A gently waving palm tree will never be. Though, to be honest, I think all that glorious marigold and firewood musked leaf turning glory actually took place in November.

Anyway, I need to get into the mood somehow. Maybe a bit of Halloween reconstruction, dollhouse style, from a year or two ago.

...and the year before that. Maybe it will work. I hope so. I'll let you know.