Days of my Life #39

Give me a break!

I spent most of yesterday with my head in a book, coming up for air only to eat and drink, to relieve myself, to briefly walk with daughter and two of the dogs down to the nearby creek, watch said dogs splash in the water And frolic hither and yon, climb up to the park, walk home in the humidity and sun, sweating profusely and ponder why I could possibly feel like doing anything other than lie down, indefinitely.

I had begun my day bright and early, staring listlessly into my hot, steamy cup of liquified 2%caffeine, realizing I had absolutely nothing in my head, with not even the remnants of an interesting dream and what surprised me more than my lack of intelligent or creative thought was that I couldn’t give a shit. This was an aha moment while at the same time an ever so slight shock and still I rolled with it after all was said and done, all the way into a reclining position.

Obviously today is quite different, well more so than yesterday, in that while I did drink my habitual cup of “why bother” my brain was far more active; I consciously chose to not think about last night’s perplexing dreams and instead mentally mapped out my new exercise routine. A step to somewhere other than back to bed.

I’ll admit, here and now, that in the past two months I have been a slug, with the exception of taking short walks in my hood. Hmmm. Did I mention this before? Well, whatever, the truth is out now and I am no longer a victim of the “shock and ah fuck” of the (named after a pisswater Mexican beer) virus and am merely staying at home to let the idiots outside prove themselves right or deadly wrong. So far from the latest reports, the outsiders might rethink their steps and bring their selves back inside.

Whatever others choose do, my plan is to get myself in shape. You know, daily yoga, facials, hair masks, exercise bike routine, walk a couple miles, positive affirmations, protein shakes…the whole nine yards.

For what? Hell if I know, but this seventy year old broad is gonna have herself a fantastic bod…or die trying, (hopefully not the latter) so when the science nerds say it’s okay for us to safely leave our hovels, I’m gonna step outside feeln’ mighty damn fine and lookn’ and a feeln’ a hell of a lot better than I currently do. This gives me purpose which, in addition to my writing, is a good thing.

Why all of a sudden am I auditioning for the “get your shit together show”? Because I just realized I’ve been riding down pity party lane in an outta shape vehicle that I can actually steer myself to enable me to merge onto “happy healthy highway” quite easily. All I need is a map and a plan. So, you read step one of the initial plan- to get in shape. Step two is for me to “give me a break” from from worrying about outcomes which in and of itself may sound counterproductive but hear me out. I just gotta do what’s on my PLAN. Step three will include doing stuff for other people, which I did early on but I’m gonna ramp it up now because it helps to help others. Step four will be a continuation of my writing, reading and the transformation of refuse into art.

In general I feel I may have happened upon a personally fulfilling solution for the interim. Besides it’s worth a go.

Tune in.

Days of my Life #37

“How to cook a chicken.”

That’s the title of this piece except I have a feeling my inner muse is just messing with me because It is really not my intent to give you a recipe for cooking a recently thawed, currently sitting in my refrigerator, 3.5# chicken. Or is it?

I must have something better about which to write, don’t I?

Well, well, well, speaking of chicken reminds me of the restaurant in the countryside, just outside of Fribourg, Switzerland where I dined on the best fried chicken, frites and jug wine I’ve EVER tasted! Yup. The mere thought just got me salivating, big time. That plucked, rolled in flour and fresh herbs clucker was so darn good it nearly beat the pants off the sex I had been having with my, ten years younger than I, (call me cougar) German lover with whom I was dining…and that was fan-fucking-tastic lovemaking, which says heaps about the food. But enough of the foul mots or about the sex, lets get Back to the fowl and the amazing view.

It was late morning in the late spring of the late 1980’s, when we drove, talked non stop, laughed and fondled each others knees-(his car had a stick shift and I a free hand), from my “friend’s” fab apartment up in the hills above the town of Gruyere, past the laiterie with the truck-tire-sized wheels of …cheese, to Fribourg, then along a winding, picture postcard country road which eventually led us to Restaurant Grandfey.

There were so many cars, parked everywhere, even up to the entrance. I remarked, This is either the only place to eat for miles (which it was) or the best place to eat anywhere…it was that too.

There were tables outside and inside, you know, basic, no-frills round cafe style ones with center support and stackable chairs…as I recall, paper mats and napkins, but metal cutlery and as I recall there was little else to order other than poulet, frites et vin…perfectly fine for us since we had been working out steadily (use your imagination), thus were famished.

We sat outside drinking robust French jug wine, remarking about the perfect weather, bright blue skies and puffy white clouds. It was so much like a dream from which I prayed not to wake up. Soon giant plates teeming with aromatic, perfectly browned and crispy poulet and pommes frites were set before us. There were many other diners around us but few were speaking more than the occasional outburst of “oohs and aahs” in between munching bird and tater and sipping yet more red wine. We gazed affectionately at one another, holding hands over the table and caressing body parts under, in between bites. It was a time to cherish.

The day was perfect…both food and company were absolutely delicious. I prayed it would go on forever. Alas it would not. We were celebrating the end of our life changing romance with me flying in the morning back to LA and a husband who spent more time reading in the bathroom than working with me to resolve our differences. I held little hope for the continuation of either affair or marriage but I knew I had to try to make my marriage work, for the sake of my children.

That was nearly thirty years, and three husbands ago. In the summer of 2018 I attempted to contact my sweet younger man-friend to see if he and his wife would like to meet me for dinner when I was next in Switzerland, first by email (we had been in touch on and off over the years) and then through Facebook. His son contacted me to tell me his dad had died just months before of a heart attack.

When I am next able to travel I will head first to Fribourg for poulet y pommes frites, and drink a toast to those days. In the meantime, here’s my version of fried chicken ala Grandfey.

Whole chicken, washed, quartered and blotted dry

Mix together on plate big enough to hold 1/4 chicken

1 cup or more of all purpose flour

3 tablespoons herbes de provence

1.5 teas. Salt

In separate bowl

1 egg beaten with 1/2 cup milk

Sunflower oil to fry in

1. Dip each piece of chicken in egg milk mixture

2. Coat eggy chicken in flour mixture

3. Heat enough oil to cover chicken.

4. When oil is hot gently fry chicken pieces until golden brown

5. Place pieces on newspaper or towels to drain excess oil.

6. Eat.

Okay that’s what I’m going to make tonight, but without the frites or red wine.

Besides I currently have no one to play footsies with.

Tune in.

Days of my Life #36

Flashback time. I’m siting here with our new puppy Zappa. Nope I’ve not been taking psychedelics, even though I did, way back when I was adorable, skinny and sexy with curly hair (that hasn’t changed much, except for the color) and platform shoes, yep, those days when casual sex and rock n’ roll were part and parcel with the territory. Those were interesting and mostly fun times.

It was the time of my life when I was a model, volunteered at the LA free clinic and lived in Laurel Canyon with the crazy daughter of my dad’s business partner. Rent was cheap in those days; we had a small 2 bedroom house with a teensy back yard and a one car garage that was just big enough to park my Fiat 124 sports coupe.

My then boyfriend, Lee, (since deceased) was bass player in the Iron Butterfly and we mostly hung out with other musicians and their girlfriends. There were many occasions when we happened to be at the Log Cabin, home of Frank Zappa, at the corner of Lookout Mountain and Laurel Canyon Blvd., smoking pot with Frank and a bunch of others but I’m not sure who else. You see, at the time marijuana cost $30 for an ounce of the good shit and this was really good, so it is no wonder my memory fails as to the other who’s who.

All this is relatively unimportant except for the time that stands out most in my memory. Halloween…and don’t ask me exactly what year …maybe it was 1969? Anyway there we (about a dozen of us) were, sitting on the large sofas in this cavernous living room with a giant stone fireplace, and tall ceilings, munching on god know what, (but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been hash brownies), talking about music, the Hollywood scene and upcoming tours. When all of a sudden, Frank says, “Hey, you guys ready to go under the street to Houdini’s castle?” If Lee had mentioned this before I can’t be certain but whatever. We all said sure. We were also totally stoned.

Now let me tell you, I was a relatively saavynative Los Angelina, who even then, at the tender (slightly) age of nineteen (or so) knew the rumors about Houdini’s ghost and the creepy caretaker guarding the estate which stood behind the rock walls along a good stretch of Laurel Canyon. So I wasn’t particularly concerned even if it was Halloween! What could go wrong? I also didn’t scare easily.

We continued to talk, passing and relighting joints, all laughingly meandering our way down, down, down the steps of a darkly lit stone staircase (it was noisy with the lot of us). Clopity clop, shuffle, scrape we went until it was announced we were going to begin our trek through the tunnel which linked the cabin (log) to The Castle (of Houdini) under the street.

The tunnel was large with cold to the touch concrete or stone walls, fortunately we could comfortably stand up and walk two or three across. Several of us held flashlights, otherwise there was very little light to guide us. More laughter ensued…and the nervous type of chatter. We moved, some arm in arm, along the pass under the boulevard. Frank spoke in theatrically measured tones as if he were rehearsing for an upcoming show…for those who knew him it was neither surprising nor particularly ominous, but we all were exceedingly high and the sounds of footstep echoing off the walls, ceiling and path combined with the Frank’s rhythmic speech caused most of us to begin to take more measured steps, our talking now quieted, while couples held each other as we approached the wrought iron gates at the end of the tunnel.

You could’ve heard a pin drop. That is until we heard footsteps…not one or two but many clickety clackety feet approaching the gates. All who had flashlights quickly focused them on the gates. As if frozen in time we paused, peering at many pairs of eyes and lots of teeth. Dobermans? German Shepherds? I don’t know what kind of dogs they were or if they were indeed dogs… it could’ve been wolves for all we knew, but as far as our little messed up brains could fathom we were gonna go back to the cabin, and fast.

Someone (probably Frank) yelled run and enmasse we hightailed it, some touching the cold walls to steady themselves as we all passed quickly back through the tunnel, noisily up the way too many steps, into the giant living, reseating ourselves on couches, chairs and laughing, nervously to one another. I peaked at Frank, leaning against the fireplace with the biggest grin on his face, his fingers twisting his moustache.

I remember little else of that fun evening, but it was enough upon which to flashback..

There are other stories.

Tune in.

Days of my Life #35

The day was relatively quiet since most of it was spent with my head buried in yet another book. I fear I may have found my addiction…books, currently time traveling romance novels where a sexy, intelligent man is able to de-asshole himself right in the nick of time before the able, bright, not-yo-distressed-damsel either kicks his butt or leaves him. She don’t take shit from no one, she is also my hero(ine ) and one whose skills I aim to perfect.

Now you might ask why a seventy year old woman, whose mind, heart (and body, most days) of someone much younger would consciously flip pages of a (formerly known as dimestore) novel of questionable quality.

My reasons are quite simple. I think the time in which we are living requires us to look differently at our world, and I’m increasingly flummoxed as to which might be the best way, therefore I am crawling inside the pages of books to peek at heroines as they solve the many challenges they face…just in case there are ideas I can use. All this plus the books I’m reading have just the right amount of erotica to keep me from nodding off when the verbiage seems annoyingly tedious or the naivety makes me want to pull the character aside for a little tête-à-tête to put them on the right track.

I may have mentioned in one of my earlier word floods that I don’t particularly care for murder mysteries. Why? Because murder is stupid, heartless and a ridiculous solution to any problem, and it is most often messy, which means I’d not be great at a real crime scene. Look everyone dies, eventually, so why would a person want to carry around the burden of having offed someone? And if they don’t care about the repercussions…that’s just plain stupid and stupid people make mistakes and unless they want to get caught, which I suppose some murderers do, they will. Plus, like any form of violence, killing someone does not solve anything but instead creates bigger hassles like getting the blood out of a perfectly good pair of nikes or that silk ruffled blouse that cost an arm and a leg (hopefully not from one of the victims). Murder mysteries are just plain difficult to clean up. Call me the Marie Kondo of literature, I prefer sensual tales and donate Agatha Christie’s and the like to charity.

What about Historic nonfiction? Though exceedingly informative, it can only hold my attention for perhaps twenty minutes at a time. I long ago realized that history often repeats itself (shudder) but that history is most often written by the conquerors. It’s in the eye of the beholder. One can only wonder what historians will record about this period.

I spent a good many years delving into metaphysics and spirituality. A pile of books are in one corner of my living room beckoning me to dust them off for another perusal…but I’m not “there” yet. Who knows what my future holds…perhaps I’ll discover in one of those books.

Did I mention I’m writing my autoB? I’m doing it because most of my former friends and lovers have either moved onto another plain of existence, they don’t read, or I don’t care what they’d think…all this and my kids have asked I do this. I suppose people may consider some of my antics interesting, besides it’s probably good mental exercise.

With so much time on my hands and no place in particular to go, without a mask and hand sanitizer, reading books aren’t the worst I could when it comes to a serious habit and not one I need ever break.

Tune in.

Days of my Life #7

I give up. I’m never going to have a normal sleep cycle ever again. It’s 6 am which admittedly is better than 2 or 3, but I’d like more sleep in one chunk, since I fell asleep after midnight and I need to hold onto as much collagen as I can. But who am I really to complain? It’s not that I’ve been doing anything particularly important or strenuous, except having a mind that works overtime on a to do list of epic proportions.

Why just yesterday, while again avoiding the dreaded paperwork (is it precisely “paperwork” if it’s mostly in your computer that the papers exist?), I sorted screws and nails then placed them in the little jars of an antique (from my father’s garage) spinny contraption, which I had first wire- brushed, washed, hand and air-dried, then blow dried, wd40’d, and blotted. Whew.

And that’s not all I did. Why, because we had an extraordinary amount of time on our precious hands (six year old grandson was with dad -first weekend since plague shutdown, yikes! Yay!) we decided to clean out the utility room to organize. Whoopee. This spot, formerly known as the universal “shove as much stuff as you can cause we can’t figure out where to put it without impeding washer/dryer access” site. Needless to say now our counters, entire kitchen, floors and dining room are covered with stuff that still needs sorting. Marie Kondo might have a Coronavirunary here. It is also a dangerous place for dogs and humans, so all are treading mindfully to avoid protruding objects or an unwanted trip to urgent care.

We are still doing the best we can. I unearthed a drill battery sleeping beside a glue gun- the two were carefully wrapped in hand towel with a screw, a bit and a glue stick. One wonders whether they might’ve been attempting to mate?Hmmm. But those were not the oddest pairs. Uh, uh, uh. No it was the curtain rod and finial, deftly placed inside a Christmas wreath (fake, we are enough of a hazard without kindling) and a wrench, as if it were a deliberate “no Christmas here” sign from the little six year old elf who resides within the walls of our abode. Alas, grandson is a gift junkie and would never suggest, even subliminally, that the birth of our Commercialism gone Nuts (Xmas) be forbidden. I’m sure he had something else in mind – going cold turkey on presents was not it. Not sure about the Mating mismatched tools however.

It is said that every 4 moves= 1 house fire. Alas moving here to Austin was only my third in thirty years and daughter’s second in two years and Lordy Lordy it shows. Now if one were to add our moves together it would maybe seem reasonable to say we’ve gotten rid of a lot of shit, but unfortunately this ain’t quite the case. I confess I am no angel when it comes to secreting stuff away to possibly use at a later date. In my studio next door I have some gleaning to do – I make art out of trash…get the picture?

Okay here’s my moment to mention my art website but I’m going to make you work for it. The usual: Www. My name and only dot com. See no link. Do your due diligence. No need to buy anything, just be remotely impressed and I’ll be somewhat satisfied (more so if you buy a magnet set, cards or books or art. But don’t worry, I’ll get by. (Note infusion of obligatory Jewish guilt).

I’ve been slightly averse to venturing into the studio to make art, instead I’ve been painting in the back yard when it’s sunny. My actual studio/office is not as bright and airy as home, but it is an escape from people-noise and other distractions like dogs, laundry, house cleaning, utility room spread, politics, and a tv. Aha! I have a reason to go there today, that is unless I take a long walk in the sunshine first. And my list grows.

Tune in.

Days of my life #2

Janet Bernson April 7; 2020

Imagine being rudely awakened by the sound of a dog puking. Yep, that just happened.But that’s not a big deal since I’ve been avoiding cleaning my floor like the plague. Now I have the opportunity to mop up the yuck splattered upon my oh so cool, artistically stained by me, concrete floor before my dog either tracks it across the house or laps it up. Double yuck…and gag.

Ok. I’m back. Job done. And lucid enough to write. I thought about writing a sort of “what happened yesterday” but there was little to report since I spent most of the day in isolation, while my sweet hyper grandson wreaked havoc, first loudly playing games on his iPad while my daughter attempted a Zoom meeting, and then in the front yard with a fuck of a lot of water, everywhere…while my daughter sewed masks. It was the day I decided I’m moving to god knows where, to do god knows what, but god only knows when, oh yeah, when the virus has eaten it’s last and we can go back to being cogs in the wheel of life.

As to my dreams…I remember little when I’m yanked out of slumber by gagging so unless my unconscious kicks in to share we are SOL for the dream telling. Too bad.

And now that my irrational escapism is out of the bag I cannot go back to sleep. Hell. See what you made me do? I just can’t take any responsibility for the situation in which we are all living, because I didn’t vote for this. I didn’t make the virus. Nor the idiots who think this is God’s punishment to gay people. Or rape the Earth…or incarcerate children or kill life-flora or fauna, well maybe a houseplant. I didn’t hoard toilet paper or disinfectant. And I’m certainly not the orange narcissistic weevil who is taking giant nibbles out of our government and refuses to take responsibility and blames everyone else. But I do vote. And call. And tweet and write postcards. And reuse, compost, donate time and money. Does that count? Anymore?

Yesterday, for me, the earth stood still, or I wanted it to, as I buried screams into my pillow. A vain attempt at my shutting down the reality of societal limbo.

One blessing I’d like to point out is: I’m not currently in a romantic relationship. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have wild unabashed and totally satisfying sex with a intelligent, sensitive yet strong, financially stable, healthy, environmentally conscious, male feminist who speaks French and cooks great French food, who also laughs at my jokes, loves my art, my kids, and my dogs and who also cleans up after himself… and when the dog pukes. But I am not delusional. And with my luck I’d be holed up here in Austin, social distancing with a beer-swilling, pot smoking, ne’er do well, or a cowboy, neither my idea of a good time. So I’m relatively lucky.

I guess for now I’ll just be satisfied with the life I’m living and thankful to have gotten this far, and wonder what today will bring. In the meantime I’m gonna attempt to go back to sleep perchance to dream of the French speaking dude. At least my floor will be clean when I get up. Tune in.

Another Day – Another Coffee Shop

I’m sitting, drinking a loaded decaf coffee (almond milk and brown sugar – gawd I am decadent) at a round table for four at the Flightpath Coffee Shop. While is most definitely not Quacks, It is a decent coffee and snack place on Duval here in Austin. I have been joined by a woman who is amenable to occasional chatting about things artistically expressive, etc. I have allotted myself approximately an hour to be here to write and sip.

Today is another schlepp day. It’s really okay. My schedule is pretty open otherwise as I have been of late focusing on writing and put my trash transformations on semi-hold. Currently I am allowing the thoughts in my head and daily situations to be transformed into words on virtual paper, the refuse rests upon my work table awaiting perspiration (inspiration is always lurking close by).

It’s my daughter’s 40th birthday today. When I brought coffee into her room (I am a nice person, yes) whilst singing Happy Birthday, I marveled that forty years ago I was moaning and groaning and pushing and wondering why it was taking so damn long for her to just get here. Time certainly flies, too fast most of the time, on that day it didn’t.

I thought, in honor of her, today, I might flash back to a few early events in the course of her life. Many of these occasions stand out as being pivotal in my relationship with my firstborn.

“La La La” – Some may dispute what I heard, but if the years of her amazing singing which followed her initial melodic cries at birth, and perhaps her voice was merely music to my ears, she did indeed utter “LA LA LA”. Cool, eh? She continues to sing to this day, delighting many…especially me. Her voice is truly a gift to the world.

“I don’t want to” – Picture a very small child barely six months, standing up in her crib, propped up by the bars which would for a short time provide a barrier between her and the floor. She’s rocking back and forth, a twinkle in her eye. I tell her its time to go to bed, and her reply, quite clearly “I don’t want to”, with a subsequent wink and a smile. I said, “what??? You don’t even say MaMa and you speak in full sentences. Do it again!” She just looked at me and laughed. No witnesses there, but I swear I was not imagining it. She still has the same twinkle and knows how to let people know what she thinks and feels.

“Asshole, mommy?” – We are driving in the suburbs of San Jose. She’s probably three. Someone cuts in front of our car, causing me to abruptly put on the brakes and remark out loud “You….” She interrupts with “….Asshole, mommy?” I gaze back at her through the rear view mirror into the backseat at her with that same smart as grin I have come to know and enjoy. One might’ve thought the incident would’ve curtailed my penchant for expletives. It didn’t. She, however has a tamer though incredibly large vocabulary and an explosive gift with words in general.

“Where’s the placenta?” – She is about two weeks away from being four years old. We are in the birthing room at St Joseph’s Hospital in San Jose and I am in labor with her brother. She has attended Bradley Method birthing classes with her father and me; unlike the other children in the class, she has been extremely interested in the process of reproduction and birth. Everyone thinks its cute she is coaching me along with her father, has remarked how loud my yells are when I only have to push three times to birth her brother and then remarks “Where’s the placenta?” Her interest in learning has extended into many other subjects way beyond women’s reproductive health.

I could keep going, ad nauseous, to wax poetic on the many and varied events I have witnessed over the years, but my daughter might frown about further exploitation of her experiences for my own tawdry authorship.

My time is up. I’m off to drive here and there. Enjoy your day wherever.