Now with more cats.
Miz Shoes

This is Scary, But ...

Hey! Check this out. The lovely Jodi sent me this link. Another person who thinks in Dylanese and takes pictures of other women's feet. Too scary to contemplate, but in an infinite universe, where anything CAN happen, everything MUST happen.

Miz Shoes

Pet Giant Rats? Pet Prairie Dogs?

Who are we kidding here? I had pet mice as a teenager, mostly because it made my mother insane. I had a little white hamster, too, and let me tell you, when Igor stuffed his little pouches full of violets, it was adorable. But he fit into my palm. He was an (ahem) domesticated little rodent, as were my little lab mice. We are now watching as a new health epidemic sweeps our nation. Monkeypox, a "mild form of smallpox". And I for one would like to know if that's anything at all like a mild case of pregnancy... But I digress. Where did monkeypox come from? From a batch of prairie dogs that caught it from a Giant African Pouched Rat, while they were all hanging around in Phil's Pocket Pets of Villa Park, Ill., waiting to be sold as pets. Which begs the question, who fucking keeps prairie dogs as pets? And why? They are large, cute rodents known to carry the plague. Hey! As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up. Prairie dogs carry the bubonic plague. Yeah, great fucking pet. For your ex-husband maybe, but do you really want to give one to the kids? And they have teeth. Big old rodent teeth. And they can, as they say so euphemistically on the exotic pet web site, "inflict a deep painful bite." Uh-huh. Right. Which brings me to the Giant African Pouched Rat, a species of which I was blissfully unaware until this week. Here is what the R-zu-2-U web site has to say on the subject: "Giant African Pouched Rats, also called Gambian Pouched Rats (Cricetomys gambianus) are HUGE! The body length can be as much as 10 - 17 inches long from head to base of tail! Their tail is about the same length again or longer. These rats weigh from 2 to 6+ lb. Is this big enough for you? They have an absolutely adorable face, actually rather comical and whimsical in appearance. If you like rodents, they are sure to captivate you in a heartbeat!" Or not. A six pound rat is my idea of a living urban legend nightmare, not a pet. I can understand a snake, even one of those ridiculously large boa constrictors, if you are so inclined, but a SIX-POUND rat? Once again, I find myself asking the eternal question: What is wrong with you people? Am I the only sane person on the planet?

Miz Shoes

Forward Into the Past

I don't know exactly what it is about the immediate future and/or minimal amounts of progress that so terrifies so many people, but there are more and more examples of this sort of Luddite behavior around me. I have, in the recent past, written of my neighborhood and my neighbors' insistence that things remain the way they were 35 years ago when the area was just being developed. In this instance, that means my neighbors do not want city water and sewer lines coming through the neighborhood. They do not want any new housing to be built, except what looks like what's already there. They do not want to see so much as another family move in because they are already unhappy with the traffic in the surrounding 5 blocks. They refuse to accept the fact that the neighborhood is bordered by two major roadways, which intersect, in fact, at the corner of our street. Nor do they wish to acknowledge that there will be a light rail system built along the north/south artery within the decade. They hounded the state to designate the east/west roadway an historic roadway, thereby preventing it ever being widened, and now they go to zoning hearings and bitch that the east/west road is always backed up at least three traffic lights because it can't handle the amount of traffic on it. Today I heard from a friend about the dilemma at her sailing club. The city owns the property the club sits on. The city owns the building in which the club is housed. The city owns the basin in which the sailboats are moored. The lease is expiring on all of this and the city wants the club out. Period. The response by the sailors of the club? Let's go down to City Hall and show them the photos from our archives and talk about the past. Let's hire lawyers to fight city hall. (No, they really said that.) Let's force the city to renew our lease. Let's not even look at other possible moorings. Let's get up on our hind legs and complain that nobody respects middle class white people anymore. Luddites or mere idiots, you decide.

Miz Shoes

Hypocrisy At Its Finest

Last week I received 189 e-mails from concerned citizens. They were concerned about a story that was in the national news, and my hospital's web address and e-mail were aired on national right-wing, conservative and Christian radio stations. There was a young woman about to receive a court-sanctioned abortion at this institution and these people were most concerned with the fetus's right to life. It was a form letter they sent (and many more were sent to other administrators and departments, I just received the 189 sent to the webmaster) so every e-mail was the same. This is a child that could be adopted. This is a life which is sacred. For the love of God, do not destroy this life. One hundred and eighty-nine people said that SOMEONE would want to adopt this child. Not one offered to be that someone. Not one offered to pay the money to attempt to save a non-viable fetus in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for as long as it took. Not one person offered to pay to support this life, if, by chance, we were able to use our most expensive medical means to get this life out of the NICU. And not one of those 189 people offered up a single opinion about the value of the life of the mother in question. She is a severely mentally disabled, physically disabled young woman who was raped while in a group home for people with those sorts of disabilities. Probably by one of her caregivers. The pregnancy caused her to have multiple, painful brain seizures. Her doctors all testified as to the danger of her carrying the child to term. She was able to understand that and make her wishes about this known. "My baby no more," were her exact words. So if life begins at conception, and is valuable enough to protect prior to birth, at what point does life become expendable? When it starts to breathe on its own, outside the womb? (In my religion, we are taught that that's when life begins: when one takes one's first breath... because Adam wasn't alive until God gave him breath.) When it turns out to be a female life? If it turns out to be a less-than-perfect person? Because what those 189 people were saying was that the mother's life wasn't worth saving, only the potential life she held within her.

Miz Shoes

Something I Really Didn’t Want to Know

McCartney's Wife Heather Mills Pregnant May 28, 11:33 AM (ET) LONDON (AP) - Heather Mills, wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney, is pregnant with the couple's first child, their spokesman said Wednesday. In a brief statement, the couple said "we are delighted with this happy news." Mills, a 34-year-old former model who lost a leg in a motorcycle accident and raises money for children disabled in war, married McCartney at an Irish castle in June 2002. The spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the baby is due later this year. He did not say what month. The child will be the first for Mills, who was married briefly in 1989. McCartney, 60, has three adult children, Stella, Mary and James, and a stepdaughter, Heather, from his marriage to his first wife, Linda McCartney, who died in 1998 from breast cancer. Three months ago, Mills said in a television interview she feared she would never have a child because of a series of health problems, including cancer and two ectopic pregnancies. "The chances of me getting pregnant are about that much," she said, holding up her thumb and finger an inch apart.

Miz Shoes

Baud Rate vs. Degrees

I had this dream last night where I was preparing dinner at someone's house: a dinner party. And I was roasting meat, or trying to. But the woman's husband had reset their oven to baud rate instead of degrees farenheit. So whereas I thought I was roasting at a certain temp, I was, instead only working at about 140 degrees. Maybe I'm having these kinds of dreams because Marc and I have been listening to an audio book of Steven Hawking's "The Universe in a Nutshell." Or not.

Miz Shoes

Planning and Zoning

There is an empty four-acre lot across the street from my house. When I bought the house, a dozen years ago, the lot contained a native hammock. That isn't something you lie around in during the summer, swinging yourself with one foot and reading trashy novels while drinking lemonade, it is a stand of flora native to the region. To be specific, there were saw palmettos, mahogany, rose apples, sea grapes, wild hibiscus, wild oaks, shrimp plants, pines, a resident owl, and lots of lush underbrush. Two years later, the asshole who owned the property and wanted to sell it, decided it would have more "curb appeal" if he cut everything down to show the size of the lot. I woke one morning to the sound of bulldozers. Then I called DERM (Department of Resource Management) and reported the razing of specimen size native plants. They fined the guy, and he planted two feeble little oaks which he never watered, and which promptly died. Then the native grasses started to grow and I had a whole new list of grassland birds to add to my lifelist. If you ignored the fact that there was now highway noise and dust, it wasn't so bad. A plant nursery-man bought the property and filed for a land use variance to put a commercial palm farm/nursery on the four acres. I grew up on the Treasure Coast of Florida in the days when the primary industry was flower farming, so this struck me as a magnificent deal for the neighborhood. Green stuff! Plants! Free oxygen! Cooler temperatures to counteract the urban heat phenomenon. Boy, was I wrong. My neighbors told me so in no uncertain terms. That would be commerce in a residential area. The next thing you know, "THEY" will put in a gas station and a 7-11. "THEY" will take over our neighborhood. Bad Lynne. Bad, bad Lynne. I went down to the county commission meeting to stand up for the nursery anyway. My own county commissioner told me that if I wanted to live in an agricultural area, there were places in Dade County where that could still happen. They are called the Redlands, and she invited me to get the hell out of her district and move there. (This may have been because I put my name and face on the campaign material of the person she unseated, but I'm sure that political payback/retribution was the last thing on this fine public servant's mind.) As you may guess, the petition to change the zoning was denied. The owner planted trees on his four acres, and didn't sell from the lot, and so I was happy and my neighbors were less whiny. Then, since he wasn't making money on the deal, that owner decided to sell. Next up, a zoning request to change from E-1 (one acre estate homes, and p.s., most of the houses in the 'hood are only on half acres) to who knows what, with the intention of putting up a three-story, 800-student, K-8 charter school. This time, I sided with the neighbors. We immediately organized a homeowners' association and I was made president, I suspect if only because I knew about Robert's Rules of Order and had once, when I was young, been president of the local Young Democrats. I suspect further, that it was because I was the only person who could be conned into taking the job. We put together a grass-roots campaign against, with lawyers and traffic studies and the like, and through the grace of the School Board, which didn't grant the charter, dodged that particular bullet. Still had the palms. This year, we have a new property owner and a new proposal: townhouses. Twenty units, sized two- to three-thousand square feet and selling at about $200 a square foot. The size and cost of these units is way above what is average for the neighborhood. The builder has promised to bring in the city sewer lines (most of us are still on septic tanks). He has promised to replace our above-ground utilities with underground cables. He is landscaping and writing covenants with the existing home owners. Do my neighbors want this? Of course not. These Luddites want to keep their septic tanks. (Hey! I got an idea, let's dig a big pit in the back yard and pour our raw sewage into it!) Do they want city water? No, they want to keep using their wells (free water), you know, the ones that are dug in the back yards. Look, water has been filtered for eternity by the dirt and rock that make up the Earth's crust, and if that water was good enough for the Neanderthals, it's good enough for us. I had to step aside as president of the homeowners' because I didn't think it politic to call my constituents blithering idiots who can't tell which way the wind is blowing even when it's blowing across a freaking stock yard with a wind sock. The county is not going to let land lie fallow when they can get a juicy tax roll out of it, and half-mill townhouses are to tax rolls what fat, sweaty tourists are to mosquitoes. Stay tuned for more as we follow the adventures of "Suburban Development Follies."

Miz Shoes

My Idea for a Reality Show

Based on yesterday's shenanigans here in Miami, I have an idea for a new reality show. See, the "wet foot, dry foot" immigration policy for Cubans makes it very, very important to NOT let the Coast Guard pick you up and bring you to shore. Therefore we get days like yesterday, where a bunch of people jump off a leaky boat a couple of miles from shore and the Coast Guard has to watch them swim/walk/float to shore, where they are declared "dry foot' and get to stay in America. So here's my idea: "Who Wants to Be an American Citizen?" and there could be teams of refugees who have to do things like build rafts and swim to shore through shark-infested waters, only to find out that they now have to fill out paperwork. There could be the sponsorship derby to see who can get a citizen sponsor first, and there could be, like an "Are You Hot" segment to see if any of the contestants have what it takes to be a nanny, yard man or maid. The cool part of the show is that it would be open to all immigrants, not just Cubans. This would give the Haitians a fair shake, since currently, even if they DO get to shore, they are still held at Krome Detention Center until we get enough to fill a charter flight back to Port Au Prince, and then they get to go home to poverty, disease and political persecution. And a very weak lobby in the US, which is why the Haitians have no "wet foot, dry foot" equivalent. What do you think, would Fox pick this up or should I try to sell it to Univision?

Miz Shoes

Crazy. But That’s How it Goes.

The other day I was sitting in the train across the aisle from a couple of young female students. They were talking about high school life and the attendant traumas. The gossip. The backstabbing. The malice. And I tried to hide my smiles, but they saw me and said "Oh, we were just talking about school." I said "Yeah. How sad that you could just as easily have been talking about where I work. It never changes." That got them a little saddened, I think. Contemplating that pettiness continuing until retirement or death. It certainly saddens me. One of them was telling the other how she hated her nickname: Crazy Natalie. I gave them my card with this website address on it. I don't know if they've ever come to read the blog, but this is for Natalie. That's always been my nickname too. Not Natalie, just crazy. People are afraid of things and people who are different, and they will always label you in an effort to make themselves feel better. You told me you are a design student. Well, then, embrace the label of crazy, because no true change, no true art has ever been created by people who are safe and think the same as the rest of the sheep. It doesn't make it easier to hear. It doesn't make you feel better, either. But just know, that crazy isn't bad, necessarily. It is just different. I sit on a board of directors where I am valued for my ability to see outside the box. In fact, they tease me that I don't even see the box. What box. That's a kind way of calling me crazy. But a valued crazy. Don't give up the crazy to be the same. It will only hurt you worse, in the long run, than the names people call you. Crazy? But that's how it goes.

Miz Shoes

Hell and What It Means to Me

OK. This entry was not going to be about hell, really, but then I read Mimi Smartypants and her new vision of existentialist hell. Laughed out loud, right here in the office. Just too damn funny. And that reminded me of the scene on the Sopranos when Christopher was shot and had a near death vision of hell, which he described as : An Irish bar where every day is St. Patrick's day. And that one always struck me as being close to true. But Mimi Smartypants has it all over Christopher. What's your idea of a personal hell? I think mine would contain elements of a Paul McCartney concert where he and Linda were doing a duet of "Silly Love Songs" while my ex-husband kept kicking me in the ankle telling me to enjoy myself. My ex-assistant, the heinous Chihuahua, would have to be somewhere nearby, too. I'll write what I meant to write later.

Miz Shoes

Passover

In my house we do the first night of Passover on the second night because of familial scheduling conflicts. On the second night, my sister-girl, her daughters, my husband, his brother and his brother's family and whatever other strays we can rope in come to my house for the seder. Marc has a box of plagues that he adds to every year. We have fake blood, rubber frogs, plastic ants, ping pong balls to stand in for hail, and way too much fun. I have a matzoh cover that my paternal grandmother made by hand and that my father remembers from his childhood eighty-odd years ago. We eat a mixed menu of sephardic and ashkenazik dishes, except for gefilte fish which I personally loathe and refuse to have in my house. And we tell the story of the Passover, using various and sundry haggadahs, because we can't find one we all agree on. My husband swears by the old Maxwell House give away. I prefer the one written by the former rabbi of the local Reconstructionist synagogue. Astrid prefers a more traditional book. The kids just love Marc's box of plagues. We eat and drink and sit at the table long after the littlest ones have found the afikomen. And I love Passover. This is my favorite holiday of the year. For me it isn't so much about the story as it is about being part of something larger. I have photos of my family's seders from my childhood. Marc has the same. Every year I think about friends far away, and have a sense of comfort in knowing that we are doing the same thing, at the same time. Partaking separately in the same rituals. And my family, far flung and half estranged. And 80 years ago, my father was the youngest at his family's table, asking the four questions. For as far back as Jews can record history (well, since the event itself) there have been seders and children asking the questions. And in my mind's eye, I see the same thing going forward. Passover, to me, transcends time and space and weaves all Jews in a web of connectedness. This, more than anything is what makes this holiday so dear to me. I never feel more at home in my skin than at the seder, never feel more of a Jew and what that means. This year, may there be peace. Next year, in Jerusalem.

Miz Shoes

This Is News?

So Paul McCartney lost his voice and had to cancel concerts? He lost his voice 20 years ago, did he just notice it today? Can he cancel his career retrospectively? Does he really have to reschedule? Can't he just go back to the countryside with the new wife and raise sheep or something? I didn't think so. But a person can hope.

Miz Shoes

in just spring

Boy, I always hated, just loathed, the works of e.e.cummings. The whole no capitalization thing was just too twee for me. Too fey. And I particularly despised the poem about the "little lame balloon man" who "whistles far and wee." Of course, it is permanently seared into my brain. But then, so is the little satirical poem that Molly Stuckey wrote in high school about our English curriculum. "Silas Marner, Moby Dick, Julius Ceasar make me sick. Page by page I struggled on, Eyes all bleary, hope all gone Finals? Yes. On every one No book or play I read was fun." I can also recite "The Jabberwocky" in its entirety, which is probably why I can't remember names. There is so much useless crap clogging my synapses, that a major data dump will be required before I can learn anything new. But this started out as an ode to spring. The orchid trees are covered in purple and lavendar and ivory flowers. The flame vines are blooming (except for the one on my fence). The sky is blue and mild and the air is ... limpid. It is a physical presence. And I am inside. Working. Sort of. At any rate, I am sitting in an office, in front of a computer, and I am typing. That I am typing a blog entry makes it no less painful to be indoors on a day like today. Mark Twain wrote something about watermelons. That there is a difference in taste between one that is honestly come by and one that is not, and that the experienced man knows which is better. Same thing about spring days. Oh, the weather could be this beautiful on Saturday, but the joy of being out in it will be diminished by it being legit. Today is the sort of day that demands one play hooky. Take an early lunch and never come back to the office. Right. As if. Time to actually put the fingers to the keyboard and create web pages. At least I have a window, and it opens.

Miz Shoes

My New Look

Self absorbed as I am, several years ago I determined that I needed a new look. This realization was prompted by several things, all of them connected. The first was that my personal, quirky style was starting to show up on the runways and on much younger women. The gauzy, flowing aging hippie act was being co-opted by willowy young things like Jennifer Anniston and Gwyneth Paltrow. Hmmm. Not good. Also, the red hair, which had been quite shocking fifteen years ago was as common as dirt. Finally, there was the birthday that put me closer to 50 than to 40. Aging hippie chick chic had to go. I thought on this for a while, and determined that mid-career Kate Hepburn, Georgia O'Keefe was the look that could take me into my next couple of decades. Man-tailored shirts and khakis. Long hair, let gone to grey and in a hefty braid down my back. I needed to pare down my jingly jewelry to single, large "statement" pieces. I needed to get a tan and loose weight. Aging beatnik chick. To that end, I quit dying my hair and discovered that it's still browny-blondey: getting those white hairs throughout, but not in clumps. I let it grow long, too. And for someone with the sort of mop of Shirley Temple ringlets I have, is a mission and a half. For every inch of length I have to grow another three of spiral. And so, three years later, I have enough length to braid. I tanned, I cleared out the closet. I started wearing solid colors. With great regret, I gave up the wire-rimmed bi-focals with the soap bubble pink and orange tint. All was going well with the plan and then I started watching VH1 and saw way, way too many episodes of the Big Hair 80s retrospectives. Last week I went and got a David Lee Roth-when-he-was-fronting-Van Halen big hair shag. The really sorry thing is that it looks Totally Kick Ass on me. And my new glasses are Anna Sui tortoise shell cat-eyes. With a sort of ruffle. Now, every time I see my reflection, I crack myself up.

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