Thursday, May 31, 2007

What's Your Idea of Luxury?

I began thinking about the concept of luxury after reading a recent post by Lady Bracknell. Here’s her conclusion:

She has reached the decision just this afternoon that the ultimate in sybaritism and luxury would be to be able to afford to put on a brand new pair of pyjamas every day, fresh from the packet, and complete with those creases down the sleeves which can never be replicated when dashing away with a smoothing iron at a later date. Nothing can compare with the tactile pleasure of fresh, new cotton jersey against the skin.
I think this must be a fairly common theme. For Ed O’Neill, my chairman at USC, it was a new pair of socks every day. New clothes don’t appeal to me at all: they are often scritchy scratchy and stiff, no match for soft, translucent garments smelling faintly of fabric softener. For luxury, I have to look elsewhere.

I set down some ground rules for my definition of luxury. My choice has to be something faintly possible, but most unlikely. That rules out two items I talk of wistfully. One is an endless supply of postage stamps of all denominations and designs. Given a little advanced planning and some careful budgeting, I could probably achieve an approximation of that goal. My second, rather modest, desire concerns bubble bath. I know it exists in this country, but Grosse Pointe is not the epicenter of bath products. I scoured CVS and (although they now appear to sell some Boots products on-line) all I could come up with in the way of bubble bath featured a picture of Curious George wearing a sombrero. Again, meticulous detective work will allow me to find a source and bubble bath will cease to fall into the luxury category.

Eureka! This is the time of year when I like to get up early and enjoy the quiet and cool of the morning. I read the paper and drink copious amounts of coffee. I take my blood pressure medicine, squeeze into my gardening shoes and go outside to work. It usually isn’t long before the coffee and the pills (the diuretic kind) work their way through my system with the obvious result. I wait way too long to go through the annoying process of removing my gardening shoes and going back inside. So my idea of luxury? An outside privy! This rendering by Martha Hinson shows how adorable it could look in the corner of the yard. I wonder whether I need a bulding permit?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I Was Wrong

I think. The captions on the photos on the websites are very misleading. Perhaps it is Andy on the right. Can anyone help me out? Even if it is, he still looks pretty good.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Life Just isn't Fair

I have written before about synchronicity, that weird moment where coincidence and relevance intersect. Where did I read several passages about this concept this week? In the book I got from the library—One Train Later, the autobiography of the Police guitarist Andy Summers.
Who would have believed this oeuvre would have contained a sentence like, “On the last tour of the United States before we return to Monserrat, I saw Sting reading Memories, Dreams, Reflections —Jung’s autobiography—and talked about it.” But who would have believed I would have been reading this book in the first place? The Police came on the scene after my interest in pop music waned, or was extinguished by the demands of small children and I was only peripherally aware of the trio and their music. The book was fascinating: Summers describes the evolution of their music (though I couldn’t grasp the intricacies of the guitar-speak) and he does not attempt to whitewash the details of the 80’s pop lifestyle.

His early career featured extensive travel in broken down cars and vans, sleeping in rooms which make an “eight-by-eight room with a candlewick bedspread, the stench of Pine-Sol and a picture of Jesus on the wall” seem like the Hilton and endless meals of fried eggs, beans on toast, sausages and chips. Success brought magic mushroom omelets on Bali with John Belushi, endless drugs and alcohol and enough risky behavior that by the time I was approaching the end of the book I feared for the good-looking young musician, who by now had surely addled, fried and made mincemeat of his brain. I imagined similar physical destruction: a shot liver, clogged arteries, a pot belly. The wages of sin.

And that’s where synchronicity took center stage. Just as I was finishing the book, I saw in the Free Press that the Police are reuniting for a concert tour. There was an accompanying photo and darn, they look good. That’s my boy Andy on the left, seemingly none the worse for wear as a result of his indiscretions. He's 64, for Pete’s sake. He looks terrific. The Police will be appearing in Detroit. Will I make up for the gap in my musical education? I think not.

Mens sana in corpore sano, my eye.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

How Clean is your House?

When Comcast offered us a bundle that included BBC America, I jumped at it. I wasn’t exactly starved for offerings from the BBC: the international edition of the news crops up everywhere, and because we live so close to Canada, we have regular access to CBC and such cultural gems as re-runs of The Benny Hill Show and Coronation Street. No, I thought that I might be able to watch shows which kept me abreast of current British thinking and ideology. I like the shows on Mystery Monday, but I’m not fond of the reality shows where people wander in and re-do their neighbors’ house or where gardeners create an instant landscape while the inhabitants of the house are off visiting their mum.

But then I found How Clean is your House? I have seen most of about four shows and although I am fascinated, I am not sure I can bear to watch many more. Our two protagonists, Aggie (nice Scots accent and glasses) and Kim (penchant for twin sets and pearls) come to the rescue of clueless individuals who live in unimaginable chaos and filth. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that no one has ever accused me of being too meticulous in my housekeeping, but even I have standards! In one case it looked like an intervention as a quite normal daughter tried to shape up her mother who was flitting around the house with chaplets of flowers and feathers on her head and communing with deities who didn’t preach cleaning. Then there was the artist who had been saved from disaster by her cat. Mishka was therefore allowed to perform her feline functions all over the carpets and the kitchen floor. In a couple of cases confused looking husbands aid and abet their wives with no clue about what needs to be done.

Kim and Aggie to the rescue. They are delightfully non-judgmental. Kim preaches the virtues of natural cleaners, wielding borax and vinegar while muttering, “Now, lovey, we can’t have his, can we?” Aggie takes samples to send to the lab and isn’t reticent about announcing the results: “Now you do know what e-coli is?” she asks firmly.

A team of cleaners comes in to banish rubbish and grease and cobwebs. Mishka’s offerings, too. There’s no attempt to paint or re-model, but the transformations are amazing. Our dynamic duo comes back a couple of weeks later to check up on their patients. The voyeur in me is fascinated, but the show leaves me depressed.

Anyone know where to buy the marabou trimmed rubber gloves?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Back to Blogging

That was an unforeseen hiatus! No real reason, just a bunch of minor annoyances and roadblocks. When I get behind with things, I tend to take the deer in the headlight approach and remain motionless, wondering how I will ever get caught up. I fall prey to the raspberry syndrome. I know that the answer is to forge ahead and I am filled with admiration for those bloggers who put fingers to keyboard daily and do not allow the vicissitudes of life to stand in their way. Even the most faithful take a break on occasion and I was delighted to see that two of the elder statesmen of bloggers, who had been silent for a while, are back. Elizabeth, who had shared her life at Abeyance since 1999 is back on Live Journal. Pregnancy and arguing a case before the United States Supreme Court haven’t kept Beth busy enough, and she has resumed writing about her life in Sacramento at Bad Hair Days.

If I want to unravel all the details of the early history of blogging, I suppose I should go to a book mentioned the other day by Kymm (she’s in it.) With chapters like “Social Functions of Online Diaries in America” and “Male and Female Cyberbodies”, The Mirror and the Veil sounds like interesting reading. The more I read about it, the more it sounded like a reworked Ph.D. dissertation:

The Mirror and the Veil offers a unique perspective on the phenomenon of online personal diaries and blogs. Blending insights from literary criticism, from psychoanalytical theory and from social sciences, Viviane Serfaty identifies the historical roots of self-representational writing in America and studies the original features it has developed on the Internet. She perceptively analyzes the motivations of bloggers and the repercussions their writings may have on themselves and on American society at large. This book will be of interest to specialists in American Studies, to students in literature, communication, psychology and sociology, as well as to anyone endeavoring to understand the new set of practices created by Internet users in America.

And to think I have written about jam.