The Cats Pajamas

cats pajamas

“We carry our ancestors in our names and sometimes we carry our ancestors through the sliding doors of emergency rooms and either way they are heavy, man, either way we can’t escape.”

“Her father is fastened to his room, with his records and his drugs and his quiet. She crawls under her covers. It is her fault for triggering one of his spells. Normally she can tightrope through his moods. At least it had been brief. Most girls do not have to deal with a father like hers. They would be afraid of the way she lives, lawless in a roachy apartment. They would be scared of his fits. Madeleine would be scared too, she thinks, falling asleep. If she had only experienced finished basements and dads who acted like dads. But Madeleine loves her father, and how can you be scared of someone you love?”

Marie-Helene Bertino, 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas 

There is no picture on the cover of this book so I drew my own damn picture.

There is no picture on the cover of this book so I drew my own damned picture.

I don’t know why I included the word “damned”  in that caption.  Maybe because convalescing is dull and I think profanity will jazz up the experience.

Anyway, speaking of profanity and jazz, here’s the blurb about this book from Amazon:

Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat’s Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.

I was a bit in love with Madeleine from the first page.  And crazy about her by the last one.  Sometimes the quirky prose in this novel reads like poetry.  It’s a good story, written from several different perspectives, over a time span of just 19 hours.  You’d be surprised at how much can happen to so many people in such a short time.

It’s a book made to be read in one sitting I think, and I might have done that if I hadn’t been so doped up on pain pills and falling asleep so much.  Today I haven’t taken anything, so I guess I can’t blame my sketch on mind altering drugs. This is how my brain sees a bar in the middle of the night.  What can I say.

I hope Marie-Helene Bertino writes another book soon.  I’ll illustrate it for her if she asks.  Huh.  Maybe the drugs aren’t completely out of my system.  But I’m very clear-headed when I say it’s the mark of a great author when she leaves you wanting more.

Just Another Scintilating Sunday

Asiatic Lily Bouquet, forced to listen to Satelite Radio and blooming madly anyway.

Asiatic Lily Bouquet, forced to listen to Satellite Radio and blooming madly anyway.

This morning as I was overloading my blender with mad cancer fighting ingredients (I say mad because if they’re fighting they ought to be mad) I wondered if it isn’t about time for me to make my peace with the satellite radio.  Normally I don’t appreciate it’s noise, and there are some days when I hate it.  Those are the days when I want everyone in the world to just shut up.  So if you are dropping over for coffee on one of those days, God help you.  But no worries, today I’m feeling pleasant and chatty.  And I am blogging this without wearing any make up. I feel like what I have to say is more important than how my face looks.  Although if you were actually here drinking coffee with me you might beg to differ.  Anyway, I know there are people out there who blog naked, so this is hardly big news, but it’s as close to blogging naked as I’m likely to get.

Okay, back to the sat radio.  W has it on all the time.  When I come home he is smart enough to turn it down.  If he doesn’t and I get to it first, it gets turned right off.  He also tries to find channels with the highest percentage chance of me being able to tolerate them.  I do try to be tolerant.  Especially of people who dearly love background noise.  And this morning I was thinking that because there’s a lot of channels, there should be at least one or two that not only won’t make my head ache but that I might also actually enjoy. Yeah, well, it’s Sunday, the weather is nice, I’m in a good mood.  Pigs could fly.  Let’s try some music from the 1940’s.  I’m not kidding.  They had weird music back then and I don’t mind listening to that.  I picked up the remote, pressed select, and tried to remember what combination of zeros and fours would get me there.

Suddenly there was a deep growling voice doing hip hop rap.  I don’t care if there isn’t any such thing, that’s clearly what it was.  He sounded like a mad muppet monster, only less intelligent.  So not exactly what I was expecting.  Eventually I found Count Bassie, a definite improvement.  I love jazz, swing, big band and piano blues.  Although in small doses rather than large.  Maybe I was born in the wrong era.  The radio is still playing but I’m in a different room and can’t really hear it.  But, hey, it’s still turned on.

Speaking of “hey”, I had a delightful conversation with a little boy at work yesterday.  He was about three, with ears that he hasn’t quite grown into.  He walked right up beside me in our lab.

Him:  HEY!

Me: Hey.

Him:  Hey!  What are you doing?

Me:  I’m cleaning a pair of glasses.

Him:  Hey!  What’s that white thing?

Me:  It’s an ultrasonic cleaner, sort of like a bath for glasses.

Him:  Hey!  That’s funny!  Haha!

Mom from the doorway:  Hey!  What are you doing?  Get out of there!

So hey, he had to leave.

Aren’t those Asiatic Lilies beautiful?  A gift from K and C last weekend.  I can’t believe how they’ve lasted.  My tiger lilies in the back yard are just starting to bloom too.  I’m surrounded by lilies and Woody Herman and Duke Ellington and the voice that says “…no destination…just 40’s and beyond!”

Sort of like this post, no real purpose, just some meandering coffee talk, keeping my typing fingers limber.  Well, I’m going to go get some more coffee, how about you? Really?  But I’ve got French Vanilla cream!  Hey, where are you going?  Come back!

Making It Better

The Many Sides of Neil Sedaka

The Many Sides of Neil Sedaka (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Prompts for the Promptless, Episode 11:  Remake!  To remake is to make anew or in a different form. 

Here is a short list of things that you can remake.  It’s short because this is Friday and nobody wants to read a long list on a Friday.  (Never mind write one, if you want to know the real reason.)

1.  Your bed.  But don’t remake the beds of your children unless you want to risk scarring their little self-confidence psyches for life.  I read that somewhere, but never worried about it myself and remade my kids beds all the time.  Because seriously, what a mess.

2.  Plans.  Even if they are carved in stone.  Just get yourself a new stone.

3.  Lego and Puzzles.  Although if I had my way I would super glue the pieces together and never put myself through that agony again.

4.  Movies.  When there seems to be nothing new under the sun, movie makers start reminiscing about some classic film or other that was immensely popular back in the day and which made a whole shit load of money.  Then they start to believe that with a few changes, they could update, remake and improve upon it.  Plus rake in another whole shit load of cash.  Sometimes they’re right.  Sometimes they are sadly mistaken.

5.  Songs.  There can be as many versions of a song as there are people to sing it and genres of music to set it to.   If we like the original a lot, chances are we won’t be happy with a remake, simply because it doesn’t sound ‘right.’  If we dislike the original, a remake can turn out to be a happy surprise.

In the sixties I loved the original version of Breaking Up is Hard to Do by Neil Sedaka, including every single “down-doobey-do-down-down”.  We were heavily into making up nonsensical gibberish lyrics to go with a beat back then.

Then I grew up a little, and so did Neil I guess.  I love this slower, jazzier version of the song even more.  Remakes can be a beautiful thing.

This Phone is a Trucking Place of Spit

"not encephalitis the email"

“not encephalitis the email” (Photo credit: marioanima)

Daily Prompt:  Take a line from a song that you love or connect with. Turn that line into the title of your post.

Today on Facebook, Damn You Auto Correct posted the “Baby I Lobe You” song, and it was all downhill from there.

This particular song on You Tube isn’t necessarily one I love, because I only discovered it today, but it’s certainly one I can connect with.  Because everyone who has an I-phone has at one time or another called it a fluffing piece of shut, if not worse.

Verse 1

When I said I wanted to kill you,
I meant to say kiss
When I said I was going to dump your bones in the woods,
I meant to say jump
And now you think I’m a psychopath
And our relationship is wrecked
There’s nothing I can do but put the blame on

Verse 2

You said whenever you miss me you smell my shits,
I think you meant shirts
My work was coming in slits and spritzers (sorry)
Spits and spurts
I said you were a whining spaz
When I meant to say shining star
Then I said I was going to pimp your ass
When I went to park your car
And now you think I’m a total dick
And I’m losing your respect
There’s nothing I can do but put the blame on

Verse 3

You said you like to fist with men in bars,
I think you meant flirt
Either way I think it’s safe to say
One of us is going to get hurt
I know that you don’t mind jazz
In a quiet little back street place
But you said in your message you quite like jizz
Except when it was in your face
And now it seems we’re communicating
In a brand new dialect
There’s nothing I can do but put the blame on

Middle Eight

These thumbs were not designed for typing
Maybe we should just have stuck to skyping
Now all that you can say to me
Is WTF and OMG
This song is one long apology, I admit
This phone is a fluffing piece of shut
This phone is a flecking price of slut
This phone is a trucking place of spit

Verse 4

When I said I like to use glory-holes,
I was trying to type coriander
I was looking forward to eating out
On your vagina
(Verandah, verandah, so sorry)

Now we’ve sent these messages
That we should have double-checked
There’s nothing I can do but put the blame on
Sumo wrestler
Dodo forest
Dildo Carrot

Oh well, what did we expect?
We never should have put our faith in auto-correct.

Ease My Troubles, That’s What You Do

Have I told Van Morrison lately that I love him?  This has been going on since Brown Eyed Girl way back in 1967.

Born to Sing, No Plan B is his latest album.  It’s awesome.

(No surprise, he’s been awesome forever.)

I tried to pick out my absolute favourite of all time Van Morrison song but it’s impossible, so I finally settled on two to share.

Happy Sunday everybody.

Well, it’s a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And I’m trying to please to the calling
Of your heart-strings that play soft and low
And all the nights magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush.
Can I just have one a more moondance with you, my love
Can I just make some more romance with a-you, my love
Well, I wanna make love to you tonight
I can’t wait ’til the morning has come
And I know now the time is just right
And straight into my arms you will run
And when you come my heart will be waiting
To make sure that you’re never alone
There and then all my dreams will come true, dear
There and then I will make you my own
And every time I touch you, you just tremble inside
And I know how much you want me that you can’t hide

Can I just have one a more moondance with you, my love
Can I just make some more romance with a-you, my love

We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic

And when that fog horn blows I will be coming home
And when that fog horn blows I want to hear it
I don’t have to fear it
I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
Then magnificently we will float into the mystic
And when that fog horn blows you know I will be coming
And when that fog horn whistle blows I got to hear it I don’t have to fear it
I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And together we will float into the mystic.

Half Blood Blues

I’m almost finished reading “Half Blood Blues” by Esi Edugyan.  Here’s what the goodreads website has to say about it:

Berlin, 1939. A young, brilliant trumpet-player, Hieronymus, is arrested in a Paris cafe. The star musician was never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black.
Fifty years later, Sidney Griffiths, the only witness that day, still refuses to speak of what he saw. When Chip Jones, his friend and fellow band member, comes to visit, recounting the discovery of a strange letter, Sid begins a slow journey towards redemption.
From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris, Sid leads the reader through a fascinating, little-known world, and into the heart of his own guilty conscience.
Half-Blood Blues is an electric, heart-breaking story about music, race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.

It’s no fast paced thrilling page turner, so it definitely fits the bill if you’re looking for a book to relax with while you’re actually learning something about a whole different era.

Z is for Zygapophysis


I found my ancient old dictionary!  It was in a desk cabinet, of all places.  Not that I was searching for it or anything, but since I’ve come across it, I’m suddenly inspired to do some alphabet posts.  Try to contain your excitement, please.

It’s a beat up old red Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, copyright 1973.  It is older than my children.  And appears to have been mauled by them, since there are a few pages obscured by scribbling in pen, pencil, and lime green crayon.  There are several rips and tears (repaired with brittle yellowed tape) and many dog ears and a half missing spine.  I can’t remember the last time I used it.  Probably not since discovering an on-line dictionary with thesaurus and reference section and quotes and all kinds of information I had no idea ordinary people needed to fill their heads with.

It’s almost too easy, this new and improved way of looking things up.  Kind of takes away the thrill of the chase when you’re searching for the definition of a word but have no idea how to spell it.  Now there’s no need to flip through pages and run your finger down long columns of words until you find the right one.  The on-line dictionary looks at your ridiculous hodgepodge of letters and says “did you mean….” and then spews out fifty possibilites so that you can click on the right one and stop your brain from hurting.

I’ve decided that since I often do things left right and sideways, I will go backwards through the dictionary instead of forwards.  Besides, the Z section is only four pages long and therefore less intimidating than the A’s.  So, zooks and zounds, it’s time to get to the point. Z is not just for zip, zero and zilch, although all of those are truly awesome words.

Z is for Zoot Suits

Is that not a beautiful thing?  The Zoot Suit coat has wide lapels and wide padded shoulders.  The pants are high waisted, wide legged, and tight cuffed.  One completes the look with a felt hat with a feather, a crazy long watch chain, and pointy French style shoes.  Popular during the Jazz Age in Harlem in the 1940’s.  Reintroduced in banana yellow by Jim Carrey in “The Mask”.

Z is also for Zazous.

Zazous were a young French subculture during World War II expressing their individuality by all dressing the same (but differently from sane people.)  They stole (or perhaps just borrowed) the Zoot Suit look.  Jackets were big and garish, with stripes or checks.  Add some heavy shoes, crazy socks, sunglasses, long hair, and an umbrella – and don’t forget to dance.  Swing and bebop on the Champs Elysées.  Eat carrot salad and love decadent jazz.  The women wore their hair long and curly, had giant shoulder pads, short pleated skirts, net stockings, and clunky shoes with thick wooden soles.

I think I was born in the wrong era. I remember that outfit from highschool.  Ooo la la.  Ah well.  C’est la vie.

(Sorry about Zygapophysis – if you really want to know, it’s one of the articular processes of the neural arch of a vertebra of which there are usually two anterior and two posterior, and I only threw it up there to catch your attention and appear to be smart. I was having a zinfandel moment.)

Happy Times a Million

How would you give away a million dollars? I would divide it by five and put it into trust funds for my five grandchildren for when they turn – I don’t know – twenty five?  By that age they should all have some idea of where their lives are headed and there would be no other stipulations except for that magic birthday.  As if I’d ever have that much money to give away – but it’s a lovely dream.

When was the last time you asked yourself “What was I thinking?” Let’s see, when was the last time I talked to W?  After all these years and years and years you’d think there’d be no surprises, but there are still surprises.  I thought I’d understand him eventually.  What WAS I thinking?  Good question.  My head was empty and in the clouds.  He made me laugh.  I still think he’s quite funny, but in a markedly different way.

Are there any news stories you’re sick of hearing about?  Nope.  Because I don’t listen to the news.  It’s always bad.  And half of it probably isn’t even true.  If anyone tries to discuss what’s going on in the world with me, they’ll find out fairly quickly that I have very little to contribute to the conversation.  I’m not saying I’m proud of that or that I don’t care.  But in lots of cases, ignorance IS bliss.

What type of music do you listen to most?  I like jazz, and the blues, and easy listening.  And silence.  Silence is my all time favourite.

Share a memory about the house in which you grew up. It was a yellow brick farmhouse, a hundred years old.  There were five bedrooms upstairs and two staircases, one front and one back.  The main floor had a small extra room we called the den. It had two verandas, a bath and a half, an attached garage and a built on “back kitchen”, plus a big cellar area and a furnace room.  We had a laundry room, a big kitchen, a living room and a huge dining room that eventually got divided in half to make another bedroom and a sewing room.  I was six when we moved there and to me it felt as big as a castle.  It shrunk as I got older.  Our laneway had stone gate posts and was lined with maple trees and there was a circular driveway between the house and the barn.  We also had a two story shed with a chicken house on one side.  The lawns were huge.  We had a lily pond and a cold spring pond, lots of wide open fields and a woodlot big enough to get lost in.  Every summer, all summer long, we had aunts and uncles and cousins who came to stay.  I had no idea while I lived there that it was just about the best place on earth for a child to grow up.

Can you cook?  Not like my mother could, but sometimes I come close.  I’m certainly good at huge quantities. When I first started cooking for two I made enough mashed potatoes to feed a small army and then discovered that W didn’t like leftovers.  It didn’t take long for him to learn to love them, once he found out he might otherwise starve to death during that long period of time between gargantuan feasts.

Name one thing, big or small, that you could change about your life to be happier.  I’m trying to imagine why I would want to be any happier.  If you’re too damned happy people think there’s something wrong with you.  I’m content.  Most of the time I feel peaceful and serene and blessed and loved.  Of course there are minor annoyances, but they simply serve to keep things real.  I can’t think of anything, big or small, that I would change.  Such a lack of ambition and aspirations is truly mind boggling, isn’t it?  But I like my boggled mind.

How often do you get the chance to leave town for a trip?  This is not the Hotel California.  I can leave anytime I want.  If I run out of holidays I take time off without pay.  Unless of course everyone else at work is doing the same thing, in which case I’m actually of some use to have around, holding down the fort, or whatever my job description is.  Blowing up the fort.  No, I’m pretty sure that’s not it.  I’m going to go east in a couple of months to see my siblings and their families.  I am now the relative from afar who comes to stay.

I overheard a bit of a conversation once, between one of my grandaughters and her little friend.

GD: Is your grandma rich? 

F: No, she’s not.  Is your grandma rich? 

GD: Nope, but it doesn’t matter, she gets me whatever I want anyway. 

So if I had that million dollars to give away all at once, would it make that much of a difference to our happiness or to how rich our lives already are?  Maybe not.  (But if anyone wants me to actually put that theory to the test, I wouldn’t say no. Just because I’m happy doesn’t mean I’m also stupid.)

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!  And Happy Eleventh Birthday to Kenzie, our beautiful million dollar valentine girl.

All That Jazz

It is April 18th and I have missed many many prompts this month.  But hey!  I can catch up!  It’s not like I didn’t drop by Plinky and read all of them, but the mood and the ambition to answer them never surfaced.  Still hasn’t, if you’d like to know the truth.  No matter.  In the interests “getting shit done for no apparent reason” I am answering them now.  I’ve just finished doing three income tax returns and I’m totally bummed out telling the truth about stuff.   Time to make things up.  Or not.  It’s always a fine line.

Describe your most memorable birthday.  Perhaps that would be my thirteenth.  Suddenly a teenager and yet not feeling a lot different from my normal barefoot tomboy self.  Thinking I’d better get on it and take that shiny red birthday purse and run with it and start liking boys and teen magazines and rock and roll.  Growing up was a confusing process.  I’m not altogether sure I got it right.

If you were a genre of music, what would you be? Jazz, baby.  Without a doubt.

Describe what your handwriting looks like.  It used to be all nice and round and slanted in one direction and freaking perfect.  I won first prize at a fall fair once in grade eight.  Now I rarely write anything by hand, and when I do I usually print in big block capital letters.  I DO NOT KNOW WHY.

Do you have any good tricks for remembering names?  Nope.  I promptly forget them in thirty seconds or less.

What did you do to land yourself in the back of a police car?!  No policeman has every asked me to get into the back of his car.  Other men have tried.  A couple may have succeeded.

Would you rather be a great singer or a great dancer? Since my talent in both of those areas is sadly lacking, I suppose it’s a toss-up.  On a normal day I would not pick either one.  Or great actor, or great anything.  Except maybe writer.  So I could supply all those singer/dancer/actor people with great music and great scripts.  And just hang around in the background being quietly great, rather than flamboyantly so.

What are the 3 most significant historic events that have occurred in your lifetime?  Significant is such a broad term with so many different degrees of significantness, depending on who you are and where you find yourself at random historical moments.  I was about two weeks old when the Chinese Red Army occupied Shanghai.   I was a month old when the state of Vietnam was formed, with Bao Dai as its emperor.  And a year old when the troops of Ho Chi-Minh attacked Cambodia.  I was blissfully ignorant of these historical events and not directly affected by them, as far as I know.  I have managed to remain in a similar state for most of my life.

When did you first start using a computer regularly? In the 1980’s and 90’s I guess.  Mostly I used to play solitaire for hours on end.  Now I play Farmville.  The more things change, the more they remain the same.

What’s the most unexpected thing that’s happened to you so far this year?  I promised myself that I would write a blog a day.  Then I revised that to a blog a week.  Then I missed about three weeks all at once.  None of that was unexpected at all, if you know me and my procrastinating ways.   Usually I would feel incredibly guilty about it though.  So the strange thing is that I don’t, really.  Huh.

If you had your own television show, what would it be about?  I would bring back Arrested Development and have all the people who were  involved in it  just carry on from where they left off.  That was the best series ever, and I miss it terribly.

 What’s the oldest thing you own?  Does one “own” ones husband?  Because he’s pretty damned old.  Grandma’s rocking chair is older I guess.  But not nearly as interesting.

Name three things that are worth waiting in long lines for.   A public bathroom.  A table at your absolutely favourite restaurant.  (Although W. would strongly disagree with that one).  And the thrill of finally getting to the airport security scanner to find that the woman in front of you is trying to go through with three large bottles of wine in her carry on bag and CANNOT understand what the problem is.  It’s not like she’s going to be drinking it, so what is up the ass of those security people anyway?  True story.  Well worth the wait.

When was the last time you received a handwritten letter via snail mail?   Oh crap.  It was a week or so ago, and it was a kind of chain letter, and I was supposed to buy six lottery tickets and send them off to somebody or other.  I wonder where the hell that got to.

Describe your most recent shopping splurge.  Why, are you looking to be bored to death?  I bought three brightly colored mixing bowls from Walmart once.  Another time involved the purchase of some very large carrots.

If you could have dinner anywhere in the world tonight, where would you go?   Really?  Anywhere in the WORLD?  Buckingham Palace.  With the queen.  I like the way she talks.  And I’ve always wondered if she ever takes a tray and plunks herself down in front of the telly to watch What Not to Wear while she’s eating her royal repast.  And if she likes ketchup.  So many questions to which I will never know the answers.

Describe a time when you performed a random act of kindness.  I perform random acts of kindness every day, and I hope I will continue to do that for as long as I’m able.  It’s called common courtesy, actually.  I wish more people knew about it.

Did you pull any pranks on April Fool’s Day? Did you fall for any?  No, and No.  No no no no no.  Pranks are stupid and very often not a lot of  fun for the prankee.  Pranksters should be strongly encouraged to  find a more productive hobby.

Well, that’s it!  How EASY was that, to answer all these silly questions and still have time to……ummmmm?  Wow.  Now what am I supposed to do.  Look for that chain letter?  Get a head start on next years taxes?  Go somewhere and wait in line for something?  Plan my most spectacularly memorable birthday ever?  It’s less than a month away after all.  I could get right on it.  Tomorrow or the next day, or, you know, whenever.  Next year.  Never.  No point in pushing myself.   It would just make me feel bad if I didn’t push hard enough.