A Little Spritz

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A long time ago, in between community college and Florida Atlantic University, I figured out some things. I took a year to get direction. Ultimately, I went from being a loafing, walking flip flop, to an inspired, focused adult..by comparison, anyway. I entered my university knowing I’d become a teacher.

During my get focused, figure things out year, as to not waste time or money floundering in unclaimed majors, or panic through overwhelm, I became an education tour guide.

When I wasn’t at my desk planning trips with vendors for elementary students to fly to the nation’s capital, tour Old School Square, St. Augustine, or other Old Florida day trips, I was leading tours myself. I was the one at the helm, directing coach bus drivers, handing out tickets to chatty chaperones, getting us in and out of restaurants and back on the road in time for parents all waiting very anxiously in school driveways. People actually counted on me.

Somehow, it all worked. I did not get us fed to gators on the sides of Alligator Alley. I did not direct our bus to swipe Cape Canaveral’s space station.  I did not leave kids in podunk ice cream shops on the way to St. Augustine. It all worked.

I even shopped like an adult. I had to elicit trust, namely by my smile, smart black pumps, and on sale suits at The Loft. I wore scarves at the neck, knotted on the side. (I have a drivers license from that time where I strongly resemble Tour Guide Barbie. I will find it and upload, just for posterity).

All this tour guiding time, I wore Happiness, by, Clinique. I would spritz up just before rounding up the troops to rally home. I sprayed that orange top stuff right before climbing out of my silver Ford Focus when the sun as barely up, to welcome sleepy eyed youngsters and their parents with their caffeinated nerves and Starbucks cups.

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Just a couple months ago, I received a new bottle of Happy, nice and teeny, from a Clinique gift with purchase. It instant brought me back to my neck scarf days.

Even hours after I spray my wrist, the scent hurries back to me and I am turning in at the long street of date palms. I am blinking in sunshine and white ginger flowers at the Edison -Ford Museum garden in Fort Myers. I am back in old Florida, looking at Ford’s Model T, back to Edison’ spinning sousaphone and the impossibly old ficus trees from India.

That Happiness is potent stuff.

imageIt is synchronicity, perhaps, that as I prime the pump of my mini spray, I am embarking on a new teaching gig, a new joy: I am teaching young women in a truly wonderful Japanese school! I am starting to publish! I am raising a family!

It seems all moments lead to here. For all of us, maybe. Here we are, shining joy, reflecting all that has been given to us, summoning all strength and smiling our biggest, cheesiest, cutest smiles! There is purpose in choosing the beautiful things, the groundwork of spring.

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imageI didn’t try to make this perfume my favorite or anything, but it seems to show up when I am about big things. Not bad for a couple fluid ounces.

“I got sunshine, I got blue sky, I got my guy
Who could ask for anything more?”

–indeed

 

 

 

Sectioning Oranges, Why I am a Cavewoman

wpid-wp-1397429237752.jpeg So I didn’t know I was a simpleton cavewoman until I came to Japan. In this post, I explore why I am not graceful in the way of preparing citrus fruits. Not at all. Cue orange juice stains and dribble of juice running from my hands to my elbows. I’m sorry, daughter. You should learn this special grace, this citrus art form from someone else. You’d think, coming from Florida, land of the orange, life-long dweller in the Sunshine State, that I would know how to prepare citrus. No, not even close, not when compared to my graceful friends & family, Japanese people. wpid-wp-1397429286476.jpeg If they (yes, an entire people group) are the queen, dining on sectioned oranges with a drizzle of orange blossom honey, I am a dirty, dusty shoe-cleaner, scavenging for the good parts of an orange. If they are creating a grapefruit dish to accompany a fish, it will be a painting—a study in ceviche, where each quadrant of tangy grapefruit is marvellously peeled of any prior skin, each bead of pulp unrifled, as if a golden feather of juicy light. (And that little grapefruit could even be a mere 4% of the dish; no corners would be cut. It would be treated as royalty). If I were matching that, on, say, The Iron Chef, my grapefruit dish would appear mashed, “squozen” (my awesome word. SO good). My grapefruit dish would look like it had been torn apart with my bare hands, or by a wolf. That poor fruit would sit lumped on a plate, even running onto the tablecloth. Such is the difference in citrus-cooth & know-how. I  just made a very different kind of charoset for Passover. In this dish, I was to neatly cut up peeled, sectioned orange. It took EVERYTHING I HAD not to deviate & throw each slice in with the skin.It was messy, but I tend to think citrus is forgiving. You know what else is forgiving? The part of the recipe that called for me glugging in some fabulous Cointreau. “Hey, it will be fine”, I told myself. And yet, I think back to how my wonderful chef of a father-in-law (who is Japanese, duh), has prepared oranges or grapefruit before. There are not enough Pinterest pins to explain the gorgeosity. Whether in de-skinned rivulets of citrus perfection, dazzling in a salad, or even as a mere snack, peels half-removed, sliced for the diner’s ease, there is no contest. I know nothing about how to eat citrus. wpid-imag3818.jpg Have you seen kids here eat a mikan (kind of like a Clementine, I tell my US friends & family)? Everyone here knows not to make that whole messy nest of individual peels. Rather, they peel back the skin in fourths, taking out the orb & then using that empty, connected peel as a garbage can for any seeds or stringy segments. Sunshine State: you did not betray me. I do not blame you. I take up a full heart of pride as I see your Florida grapefruit signs on my subway trains. florida-vintage-postcards I pretend I have always been eloquent in the ways of citrus. wpid-wp-1397429177342.jpeg And if my exotically orange charoset, with its full-on flavor of oranges, slug of gorgeous Cointreau, crystallised ginger, and almonds is not dainty enough, well then. Just enjoy the splashes of liquor. Nearly everything comes out in the wash. An Epicurious list of charoset recipes from around the globe. 

Gutters of Pink

You can tell the spring

by how many petals on the ground.

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 Life. Industry. Wind.

You can tell our life by socks herded,

shirts left near the hamper

or stacked, pressed into their drawer.

Toys also, that keep pushing their way towards kitchen territory,

what is strewn to remind.

And what papers, essays, words are falling around my feet,

my tickled springtime ankles.

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And these gusts just keep bringing the pretty up–

the piles of pink petals

I’d love to scoop up

if they would not collect

in the street,

huddle near gutters,

or whistle past my head

like they could get caught in my lashes.

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Spring is collecting its piles here.

My Writing Course

In the wee morning hours, my course is officially finished. I raced the deadline to the shore of middle of the night and turned in my pages. It feels like a laboring and delivery, but backwards.

I fall into bed abuzz, light and comparatively wide awake next to my snoring boy next to my snoring husband. My son’s foot is extended sideways so that to fit in bed, I must wear my arm cramped, bent, leaned up against his fleshy warm foot. I am writing of life, death, and birth— all the heat of chemical change. I am wide awake from telling with my heart and eyes, seeing with my pen.

It is good that it is spring. There is much I want to do. But first, to sleep.

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Ballet with My Darling

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So my girl has this new thing: when we are at the top of the stairs, she gives a long, deep, rolling bow & says, “After you, my highness. My darling.” And then I pass her and begin the descent downstairs, after giving some highly emphatic, Shakespeare praises & salutations of my own. This adds a good minute or so to the walk downstairs. More of this when we get to the bottom.

You can imagine how grandiose we become when preparing for our little mother-daughter ballet time. There is the hair–sweeping it up in a ballet bun. We are bun to toes, PINK. We “I feel like a ballet dancer”, she says. And she is.

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Today’s class was held in her room with a lush score provided by my Kindle.

We started as butterflies springing our folded in legs to butterflies sunning ourselves, arms unfolding and getting strong in the sun.

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We heard music that sounded like the windy storm from two nights ago. My girl became a baby bird swirling in between cold wet drops. We pointed and flexed and swept across her floor. There’s no one else I’d rather wear a leotard for.

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What of the Flowers?

Today’s rain has been falling in such great torrents,
(was it yesterday, too?),

it feels like summer’s sheets of unbridled wet season

or Florida summer, when my curly hair wants to curl like a vine

inside inside & up

so it can sit near my ear

& hear all that rain.

 

What of the cherry blossoms?

Are they curling curling then falling down?

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What will be left when the rain’s sheets have fallen

off the line & the sky returns blue?

 

Will be be so barred in by all of our mounting garbage

& laundry desperately damp needing

to be dried or hung

outside

that we cannot rejoin the parks, garden,
say earth in a picnic

or jog around with our little ones

for fear their boots are not tall enough?

 

This rain is chasing my flowers

and pinning them down

their fives pedals

down their pink

into muck and streams running gutters

in a street

in a city

called tokyo

where

grace and humble

boughs

are indeed

a strength.
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We wait all year for the rain to dash our hope?

No. We wait for the sun & look on with trust

that we’ve caught the perfect picture already, caught it, trapped it

in a pressed flower book

where dreams and memories

do not only stay but

grow.
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Rain, my darling, is for making things grow

& for opening up what is nearly ready.

We hang on & wait for the sun.