Monthly Archives: July 2010

Slow News Day

Lindsay spent her first night in jail, a runaway dump truck took off on its own flattening 5 parked cars, and passengers on United Flight 967 got bounced like so many toy people in a toy bus dropped onto the floor. Also, a cop went to get his picture take with the 3′-9″ porn star Bridget Powers – oops! – right in the middle of his shift. “Where was the news when I pulled someone out of a burning car last year?” he said upon tendering his resignation.  “All the good things you do, and I’m going to be remembered for one stupid decision. It just sucks.”

That must be how poor Lindsay feels this morning.

But let’s not focus on her current troubles. Let’s remember instead the time a few summers ago when she appeared with Meryl Streep, John C. Reilly, Woody Harrelson, Kevin Kline, Lily Tomlin and the odd and tender Garrison Keillor in A Prairie Home  Companion. Here she is now  along with Naughty Woody and the rest in the trailer for that film and, under that, doing a song all on her own. Who wouldn’t wish a good outcome for this poor girl, a child still in so many ways?

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 21, 2010 in Uncategorized


Tags: , ,

Uh oh

Sometimes you just get a bad feeling. I had such a feeling at this gas station where one tank seemed to be fine and the other said “Condemned.” Would it blow up on us all? Who knew?

I got another bad feeling yesterday at the Dunkin’ Donuts where four very small children were sitting all alone. The eldest looked almost six. Then there was one four, one three and one about 15 months. The six-year-old put the little one in a high chair and pulled her to the table. Then they all sat looking out the window.

“I’m not running a day care center!” the lady behind the counter suddenly yelled over to them. “You just tell your father that!”

“Where is he?” I asked when I approached to order my latte. I too had noticed the absence of a grownup.

“Search me!” she said.” He said he had to go to the ATM.”

“Oh. Well let’s not make the children feel bad!”

“I know, but for God’s sake!”

I walked over to them. “Hey guys.”

They smiled up at me. “Shall we watch for him together?”

“Yup” they said and we turned and all looked out. “Is he in your car?”

“Nope. That’s our car there. It’s red,” one said.

“Hey my car is red!” said I. “Two red cars!” they said and laughed.

“I’m sure he’ll be back in a sec.”

I went to collect my coffee then and when I turned around again the dad was back. I ducked into the bathroom at that point and so didn’t hear what the woman behind the counter might have said to him. I did note that his back was very straight as he left the shop with his four children a few minutes later.

They were a black family. This was the hard part, since every other patron in the place was white and, well, you could sense a lot of judgments and silent assumptions being directed at him. All I felt myself was that same bad “uh oh” feeling I had felt at the gas station. And I was grateful this time too that nothing exploded.

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 20, 2010 in Uncategorized


Are We Having Fun Yet?

The crickets have started in, two full weeks ahead of schedule. It’s a sign we’d best  hurry up and squeeze in the summer fun. And how am I doing with THAT so far? Hmmmm.  Well we got the air conditioner into the bedroom finally and that’s certainly been fun. As of this morning it’s leaning so far back into thin air I think it’s going to go any minute and take the whole window-frame with it.

I also stole away from my desk in the middle of the day to see Sex and the City 2 the very day it came out. Had the wide-brim hat and silk sheath dress all lined up to put on and shoot a video making fun of it, but the energy seeped out of that idea as soon as I got to the theatre. Conked out 30 minutes in, walked out 30 minutes later. Dumb, dumb movie. I mean could Samantha’s nymphomania BE any more offensive when the action takes place in an Islamic country? Plus, is that what dermabrasion does? She’s all …. waxy, like those little tubes you used to get in elementary school and sucked the red goo out of and stomped on the pavement after. And I don’t care how nice a person Sarah Jessica Parker might be she still looks like a horse.

I haven’t slept outside yet and hope to God I don’t have to. Haven’t swum in the aqua gel of a pool, haven’t gotten a sunburn or been to the beach or walked up to a single jingling ice cream truck.

Over the weekend I did go to a lake and for the first time this year dove off a dock. You have to go shallow off this particular dock or you’ll hit the rocks but I remembered my racing dive because I learned to swim at the same summer camp as this pretty diver here. Only for the racing dive you get into the proper squat, shoot your arms back, shoot them forward and slam! you go, flat against the water and come up doing that mile-a-minute crawl stroke, in my case all the way out to the raft without once coming up for air….

And when I did come up I wasn’t any longer the grownup who hasn’t been to the beach or swum in a pool; wasn’t the one who goes to the movies and sees them through a glass all darkly. Instead I was the child who can keep her eyes open wide the whole time in the moss-green water and cherishes as her friends the minnows and the tadpoles. I was this little person below, second from the right getting ready to play The Beet in that timeless Parents Weekend play King Hale of Healthland.

1 Comment

Posted by on July 19, 2010 in Uncategorized


Camp Do-Too-Much

Up at 5, write ’til 9; then food-shopping for twelve people. Home for 3 hours making and serving food to gracious lady never before met. Then three more hours preparing pork roast, meat loaf, two salads, French bread and rice, not just for the 11 people set to arrive for supper but also for 89-year-old uncle, all of whose meals I provide. At 6pm an hour-and-a-half spent going to get him and bring him out for a spell, stopping real quick for the night’s beer and wine. Drop him off and quick home to greet not just the hungry 11 but the two little grandsons invited to sleep over earlier in the week, pant, pant.

They do sleep over as party roars on only whoops, the little one sounds off like a cuckoo clock every two hours all night. Hurry to his crib, take him up, walk him, whisper into his little head etc. until 5am when he gets up for good. His brother up at 6. Three blurry hours involving bacon, cocoa, eggs, French toast, banana smoothies, etc.  Dave leaves for work. Still no coffee even for me but that’s OK tt quick let’s go out to the yard! Inspect the dirt, inspect the bugs, inspect the garageful of musty things from the 1940s. Little boys drag out garden hose, water grass, water shrubs, water each other by mistake. Back inside, sneakers squishing. Pop everything in dryer, pick up house which looks like a Connect Four/Mouse Trap/ Lego bomb has gone off in it, sit them down to read two nice musty garage books. Then Dave reappears, we pack the clothes-the-kids-the-food, drive a hundred miles to the place where their parents will meet us and I will no longer be in charge, whew!

All this took place Thursday-Friday this past week which is why I didn’t write on Friday. I really am starting to see now that whenever I fail to sit and write I feel like a vacuum cleaner with something caught in its throat: Just that jammed up. Just that weak and wheezy.  I don’t know but after 40 years of over-functioning I think I really have to stop with the crazy overbooking, before the crazy overbooking stops me.


Posted by on July 18, 2010 in Uncategorized



Stayin’ Right Here

Sticking around in summer feels normal to me because when I was a kid nobody went anywhere. The country wasn’t set up for all this zooming about we do now. There weren’t any restaurants, for one thing. Sure, a person could grab a bite at places like Woolworth’s and Kresge’s but those places all closed at 5:00.

No, if your parents really wanted to feed you kids away from home they had to hunt down one of the ‘real’ restaurants, usually in the downtown section with the heavy drapes and the wide leatherette seats.  You never saw restaurants along the highways because, to be honest, there weren’t any highways.

And families rarely took the train.

And only movie stars and moguls flew.

So if your parents ever did throw caution to the winds and decide to go on the road with you they took the car and there you’d be, a family of five or seven or eight, poking along with no air conditioning, no seat belts and no for sure DVD players,  just you and your sibs all crammed in the back, while the grownups sat up front squabbling and sucking on cigarettes.

No wonder people stayed home. At home it was cold sliced ham and Grape Nehi and on really hot days you could run under the sprinkler. Mornings, you’d hear the wet slicing sound of a push lawnmower; noontimes, the electric buzz of the mid-day bugs; evenings the sound of soaped-up supper dishes clinking in the sink.

Yep, staying home at vacation-time had its charms all right and it still does. Think: you can get up only when you feel like getting up, throw on any old thing, then step out onto the porch, or the stoop, of the soft wet grass and look around some. The rest of the world is at work but you, you lucky dog, are idle this week. You’re blooming where you were planted, just like God always hoped you would do.

1 Comment

Posted by on July 17, 2010 in Uncategorized


Enough with the Reproducing

It was all very well a few weeks back when this mother dove made her nest on my office windowsill and soon produced two hairy looking THINGS who dangled from her mouth to eat her regurgitated meals. I’ll admit that when they  grew and left the nest I thought “Whew!” Not that they weren’t charming  but the more time passed the higher the pile of droppings underneath them. Things were getting a little ripe just six feet from my desk.

Then not a week after they all left,  doesn’t Mom come back? And didn’t Poppa show up too and begin doing this little dance, prelude to The Act. Then sure enough in another 10 days there were more eggs.

Now Mom has starting making little forays away from the nest, and, seems to be scanning the horizon for cleaner pastures. My plan for the minute she goes? Hoist the hose up, train it on this windowsill to wash away the smelly muck, then hang a couple of shiny CDs out there, which birds find scary and  repellent. It’s not that I dont’ like birds’ I’d really like to be able to open the window a few times before the snow flies again. And also Sister-Mom, I think you could use some help with family planning. And finally, take it from me, babe: there are way easier ways to feed the kids than what you’ve got goin’.


Posted by on July 15, 2010 in Uncategorized


A Clean Well-Lighted Place

I’ve stayed in plenty of hellish hotel rooms  – the one with sludge burbling up through the bathtub drain, the one where the single dim light crackled and went out the second I flipped the switch, the one whose door I opened for the first time to find it already occupied by a naked guy just toweling.  This past weekend though I stayed in the best hotel room of all, in the on-campus hotel at Indiana U – which amazes me mostly because on-campus hotels are usually pretty sad. I know I’ve never been able to stay in the one at Brown without feeling that I slept in a minimum security prison facility.

But this one! It had 1930s-era casement windows! That actually opened! And when they did open they let me look out a stand of old trees under whose canopy lay  a tiny churchyard, where, for those three nights, the dead slept no more deeply than I did 60 feet above them.

I took this picture at dawn of my second day and what a calm state the view alone put me in – or maybe it was the perfect pillows, four per bed. Or the fact that the bathroom, done in 1940s-era tiles, looked as clean as a just-polished diamond. All I know is I felt safer and more ‘held’ in that room for those three nights than I have felt since my baby days when I lay watching a summer sun creep up the wall by my crib and knowing that soon the kindly Tall People would come to lift me high and set me down in a brand new-day.

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 14, 2010 in yay in general



Sure NOW wherever you look you see ads for creams and spackles to fill the cracks opening up all over your body. Bet they even sell sun-repellent sheets of Glad Wrap to keep your skin from looking even more like the speckled egg of the world’s ugliest bird. So where was all this stuff when I was  20 and lying out in the sun holding sheets of aluminum foil to focus the rays directly ON This Old Face?

Here’s that video homage to Beyoncé  which is funny and great all on its own. Come the day when I look like a laundry bag stuffed full with tennis balls let me throw on a leotard and step on the dance floor too. Because seriously what are you gonna do? And Sarah Renfroe’s right: when it comes to wrinkles you sure are gonna grow some of your own, and before you know it too.


Posted by on July 13, 2010 in aging


Tags: , ,

Sex Questions? Ask ‘em

There’s more to be said about sex and The Kinsey Institute, which I toured before their researcher Debby addressed us columnists Friday. It has a website called Kinsey Confidential for one thing where you can get information and ask her your own questions. When I roamed its galleries filled  with examples of erotic art I had to keep channeling Liam Neeson as he played Dr. Kinsey with his calm scientific manner. You sort of have to fix your mind on that manner so you don’t jump a mile when a passing staff worker greets you even as you are peering at an early 20th century photograph of a very limber gentleman executing a feat you wouldn’t think human anatomy would allow for. (“Thanks so much for visiting our center!” smiled one plump staffer of middle years, looking at me with the same warm expression Gandhi  might wear if he saw you giving your last crust bred to the poor.)

But the torment and guilt people have suffered over sex! The sin of what advertisers have done with sex in our own time, essentially stealing it from us, then trying to sell it back to us as a pair of jeans or shoes or makeup!

I’m getting too worked up though. Let me stop and watch again the trailer for that terrific film about Kinsey and his work. Let me look on the face of the luminous Laura Linney as his wife, the face of Liam himself who did not know when he made the film what suffering lay head for him, the faces of all those perplexed young people trying to come of age in this outwardly pious and violent culture.


Posted by on July 12, 2010 in sex, sexuality


Tags: , ,

On This Soft Anvil

I was saying yesterday how organizations change when there get to be more women than men in them and at first I thought that’s why my fellow columnists behaved so well when Dr. Debra Herbenick came to speak at our annual conference. I can tell you that back in ’95 when this membership visited an outfit that extracts and freezes bull semen, the tour-guide chastised two of our guys for laughing uncontrollably. But yesterday when Dr. Herbenick came to speak with us on her work with the Kinsey Institute not a soul laughed, even when she she showed explicit slides and held up stuffed toys resembling female body parts.

Maybe it’s because she has a manner as open and sunny as a farmhouse window. A dead ringer for the Charlotte character from Sex and the City, she seems so sweet and guileless only a cad or a moron would have laughed, and we had no such men among us this time.

She told us she speaks often to college students who take her class to get information on what practices (besides the most obvious one) can result in pregnancy.  She quoted former Indiana President Herman Wells, himself a firm supporter of the place where she works. “We have large faith in the value of knowledge and little faith in the value of ignorance,” he once said.

She had also let it be known earlier in the day that she would answer any anonymous sex-related questions we cared to pose and when the time came she did this. The questions were dead serious with the exception of the one that said, “Where DO babies come from anyway?”

She said she used to ask that question of little children at an earlier stage of her career and one child had an answer that she still remembers. The child’s little sibling began by saying that your babysitter the baby and she got it from the doctor who gave it to your mommy – only wait, maybe it was the other way around. It was then that the slightly older child spoke up and clued Debra in on what really happens, a process involving these things called ‘cells’ and your mother’s stomach where the baby grows.

“But then how does it get out of there?”  Debra asked.

“Well,” said the little girl, “it seems there’s this little door ….”

Indeed there is.

So let us close now with words by penned by an English earl in the 1600’s who said of this little door’s close neighbor the mons veneris, “On this soft anvil was mankind all made” – to which I now say Amen! and also Thank you, God, for the dandy design (!)

1 Comment

Posted by on July 11, 2010 in sex


Tags: , ,

The Freelance Retort

Because one minute you're a baby and the next you're getting the senior discount - and there's no reversing direction!


Another Good Day in Rural America . . . . . . . © 2012, 2013, 2014 Ann Aikens ~ all rights reserved

Eating The Week

Week-size morsels of the stuff we eat

The Freelance Retort

Because one minute you're a baby and the next you're getting the senior discount - and there's no reversing direction!


Another Good Day in Rural America . . . . . . . © 2012, 2013, 2014 Ann Aikens ~ all rights reserved

Eating The Week

Week-size morsels of the stuff we eat


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 197 other followers