The Blue Pitcher

that which may be filled and emptied

Month: July, 2007

Wedding Shower Etiquette

Years ago, when I was waiting tables and living deep in Brooklyn with two cats that drove me nuts and a man who would have if he had been around more, I found myself, one Saturday afternoon in Staten Island, at a wedding shower. It horrified me. It was one of those events where we made veils out of toilet paper. A “Wishing Well” sat in the center of the room, and we tossed in batteries and Ajax and measuring cups–all things a woman needs to prepare for a lifetime of love.But before the shower, before I had any idea of how it would unfold, I had walked to the store to get ingredients for my mother’s famous artichoke dip. (Think mayonnaise, cheese, baking till bubbly; try not to die of a heart attack).

It was a fairly quiet neighborhood, and I remember being very warm, and then suddenly I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to keep walking, walk straight to the ferry, board it, take it across the river, get on the subway, go to Port Authority and climb on a Greyhound where, hopefully, I’d get a window-seat near the back, and there’d be a dog-eared copy of a book I’d been longing to read. I would go to Wyoming and never be found again.
Ultimately I decided this would be very rude for me to do to the bride, and so, the afternoon proceeded: I sipped sherbet punch out of a plastic cup and oohed and aahed over monogrammed towels as I attached bows to a paper plate to fashion a bouquet.

I guess I write all of this today because I’m glad my Greyhound fantasies are a thing of the past. It feels good to wake up beside a man I love in a home I love, and frankly, considering my recent preoccupation with all things wedding, it’s only a matter of time before I find myself standing in front of the bathroom mirror, practicing saying “I do,” as I rearrange the long train of toilet paper so it will cascade just-so from my curious up-do. Bring on the wishing well!

Brownstone Brides

When I first saw this picture I thought, “Hmm…art,” but then I got to thinking about my own dress and how it hasn’t come in yet and how I really wish it would and how when it does I’ll be very, very careful with it, and I will only wear it in the house, and I won’t eat spaghetti when I’m in it, or salsa, or drink red Kool-Aid, and even if I do go out to the stoop to, say, check the mail I certainly won’t fall asleep, but then I scrolled down…

Ah, Brooklyn! My own neighborhood doesn’t get nearly as much excitement. This is Tess:
Tess lives down the street from me and, come summertime, she sits on her stoop all day long. It’s been fifty or so years (she can’t remember) since she’s been to Manhattan (two miles to our north). She tells me stories about her kidneys and her flowers, her parents and her grandchildren. My favorite story is the one about meeting Buck Jones in 1942. He was a sailor; she was dressed as Santa Claus; they fell in love! After many good weeks in an otherwise awful time, he begged her to move down to North Carolina and marry him, but she said no, afraid, she tells me, that he’d put her to work in the fields picking potatoes. Funny how life turns out, she says, and I nod, then she thumbs through the paper to see if her numbers hit, and I make my way down the sidewalk, glad it’s not raining or cold, glad to have someone to talk to.

Something new!

Guess what?
Davey, Davey of come-sit-on-my-lap-and-sing-Jesus-love-me fame is having a baby!
The bun is in the oven, folks!
His wife makes the best cobbler I’ve ever eaten, and now this. Yowza!
It seems her talents extend far beyond the kitchen…
Bring on another Hefner.

Wake up, Dragonfly

Melon and Insects
by Henri Cole

Pedaling home at twilight, I collided
with a red dragonfly, whose tiny boneless
body was thrown into my bicycle-basket.
In my bed, in a pocket notebook, I made
a drawing, then cried, “Wake up, Dragonfly.
Don’t die!” I was sitting half-naked
in the humidity, my pen in my hot palm.
I was smiling at Dragonfly, but getting angry.
So I put him in a rice bowl, with some melon
and swept-up corpses of mosquitoes,
where he shone like a big broken earring,
his terrified eyes gleaming like little suns,
making me exhausted, lonely like that,
before sleep, waiting to show my drawing.

Home Again

This weekend, surrounded by double-decker buses, Cody and I took black cabs and wandered through galleries; we shared a plate of ‘biscuits’ and sipped dark coffee out of very white cups, and while I loved every bit of it, there was a moment sitting outside at the cafe when I felt so far away from where I come from. Biscuits in the world I was brought up in are to be covered with livermush gravy and eaten for breakfast; coffee should be rainwater weak; cabs should be yellow, slicked with rain and hailed only in movies.

For years, I likened this feeling–this far from home feeling–to one of being an impostor. As an undergrad when I flew to England in an old itchy green sweater with nothing but a soft duffel bag and a journal, I was afraid of being found out, afraid that somehow “they” would “know” I wasn’t one of them. It’s that same thing that kept me from carrying a camera to far too many foreign countries: the fear of appearing to be a tourist, an outsider, an other. Even sadder, though, I sometimes think it also kept me far from home.

There’s an old home video of me in a rocking chair on the front porch wearing a long cornflower blue dress. I am fifteen. “Davey, Davey,” I yell, and my southern accent is so thick, I cringe just thinking about it. “Come sit on my lap and sing Jesus Loves Me.” Dave, now grown and married and able to love and barbecue, runs to me and sits on my lap and sings song after song, until the camera man (read: dad) gets bored or tired or just needs to go in and boil water for the mac and cheese, and the screen goes black.

I don’t really know what happened to my accent. Sure, if I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine my words get taffier, and my fake one ain’t bad, but why was I so anxious to lock that part of myself up? I wish–at fifteen or sixteen–someone would have given me a good shaking and told me not to be so quick to cut whatever it was I was so bound and determined to lose.

And heck, maybe they did, and maybe I didn’t quite listen at the time, but I can still feel it knocking my bones; I can still be rattled, still shaken, until, suddenly, I’m just a little ways around the world, not so very far away at all. I sit with my love; the rain has stopped for a spell; he doesn’t ask what I’m thinking; instead, he breaks the last cookie in two and offers me the sweetest half.

For O.

who has the sweetest tooth I know.
Check out her recipe for banana pudding & other musings:


On this Day in 1989 (Omaha):
On this day in 1969 (outerspace):
Is it just me or does it seem like we’re going backwards?

London: Internet Cafe

I love the way foreign internet cafes smell like fresh baked bread, how you can get 10% off your Subway sandwich as you type alongside the jet-lagged and the desperate, the manic and the bored. No one says hello; no one smiles except to herself–maybe–while reading an email that slipped in from a quarter way around the world.

The streets are slick with rain. I ate berries then wandered from shop to shop dipping my fingers into pots of miracle creams and holding dresses up to my collarbone while I squinted into mirrors. I love the daze of travel, the waking up on airplanes as you’re thrown across the sea, the barely squeezing past sleeping strangers to go brush your teeth with lukewarm water in the too-small bathroom. Strange that it’s magic, but it is.

My brother Joe has a trick where he makes a salt shaker disappear. He has other tricks too. When you’re with him you never know if you’ll reach into your back jean pocket and pull out an eight of spades. Aha, he’ll say, and you’ll scratch your head.

It’s a little like when I was fifteen, and Sandy Greene’s brother-in-law could throw his voice. I stood in her living room. Hey, I heard. Hey you. It was the fish in the giant tank. I was certain I had lost my mind. The fish told me things (things I either don’t remember or can’t repeat), and finally I asked for a glass of water, and the whole family laughed because the brother-in-law had fooled me. He died, not too long after, sadly but not unexpectedly, of brain cancer.

It always frightens me when fish outlive humans, though, of course, it happens all the time. K. & I were talking the other day about how absurd it seems to be so shaken by death. We were sharing mussels (which my grandmother loved when she was alive), and the Brooklyn street was electric. Cheers, we kept saying, over and over.

Now here I am on the other side of the sea: the slide of a magician’s hand, a giant invisible thumb. I suppose I’ll wander around, pay for foreign things with foreign money, find Cody, finally, and then, with the familiar weight of his hand on my hip, find that dreamy deep sleep that long travel grants you.

Something Blue

I’m not even sure what it means…

But, o ye lovers of candied rabbits, take a Peep: go here now.