How to make Pornocello™

This is a highly toxic and not-good-for you cocktail invented somewhere over Greenland by punch-drunk strangers on a plane.

(It is much worse than Limoncello, but less creepy than actual porn.)
  1. Start with a package of Lemon Candy. 
  2. Put it in a jar. 
  3. Cover it with "Really Good Vodka." (Whatever's cheap.)
  4. Shake it every few days.
  5. When the candy has dissolved as much as it will, pour off the sticky yellow liquid into a bottle.
  6. (The bottle should probably be clean.)
  7. Keep it in the freezer.
  8. After dinner, unzip your pants.
  9. Drink straight from the bottle.
Actually, the resulting sticky sweet alcoholic syrup tastes pretty good over ice cream, or mixed in a cocktail. And you can make it with any kind of candy (Jolly Rancher Vodka is a Thing) ... but if it's lemon, call it by the proper Italo-American adult beverage name: Pornocello!


Every Bathroom Tells a Story

I'm thankful for this:

Once, many years ago, I got a phone call from a friend in Florida, asking what size toilet we had. I was wondering whether to be offended, but a few weeks later a toilet seat that looked like a piece of art showed up. It was translucent, with shells and seahorses and coral embedded in the most beautiful blue liquid acrylic. Our toilet became a must-see. (Sorry, no photos... I've had data loss...)

Somewhere around that time I was visiting a friend who had the most amazing, iconic 1970s sink in his bathroom. I joked: "Can I have it?" An incredibly sweet Indian man, Hussein said yes. Twelve years later, we ran into his family at the food court. "I still have your sink," he said. We had been talking about a bathroom remodel since we moved in to this house 18 years ago. We bought him a replacement sink, and one day this beauty showed up on our doorstep.

It's a true treasure, carved straight from of a bar of Irish Spring. Actually, there is a label still stuck on it, under the sink, that reads "Monolav" and a date, 2/72. There is a thread of gold sand that runs through the marbling, that looks magical in the right light.

By now the blue toilet seat, unfortunately, was long gone... the hinges had rusted through, and it had even lived through an incarnation as a Dan Caven illuminated art piece. Pictures of that are, sadly, gone, but imagine this gorgeous toilet seat hanging on the wall against a translucent white sheet of glass, glowing with light. Lift up the toilet seat and you will find a ten-inch silver ball hanging inside, made from the thousands of rubber bands brought home to me daily each time my husband thought of me, a memento of the four years he worked in a book warehouse.

Sadly, this beautiful artwork leapt off the wall in an earthquake. And the toilet seat you see in this picture is but a memento of the one that would match the sink. But it still looks great! I also love the sandy floor and the brushed nickel fixtures and the plants.

I went shopping for the perfect color for the walls, and I found it. It was called "Tsunami," which is a worrisome name for a paint you put in the bathroom, but gravity intervened and there was a small tsunami of blue paint in the Home Depot parking lot. In the end, I painted a dark shade of blue called "Deep Breath" over a beautiful teal called "Carribean Currents."

Now every trip to the loo is like a tropical vacation.


Catch-up Cobbler 2015

It's been 18 months since my last CobBLer... for those of you just tuning in, here's the summary:

Read more here...


A Peek at: A Parliament of Poets

I very nearly judged this book by the cover... but I'm glad I didn't!

It is possible you are already well-read and know the names of history’s great poets from every continent.

Homer, Virgil, Spenser, Milton, Austen, Keats, Wordsworth, Melville, Robert Burns and Tagore; Rumi, Attar and Havez; Du Fu and Li Po, Basho and Sagyo; Job, from Africa; shamans from Indonesia and Australia; Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Jane Austen.

Do these names make your head spin? Do they thrill you to the core?

If so, you will greet them with delight on page after page, and meet new ones you’ve never heard of. All of these great minds appear in this book, their names like the tips of icebergs referring to bodies of work, times in history, and the place where their stories unfold. Imagine these folks in a room together! Such a room could only be as big and imaginary and inspiring as the moon itself. This is where the narrator, a contemporary poet who has come through the requisite sufferings that prepare a soul for such a quest, comes to find help in writing a poem for his generation, lost in the moment, lost in materialsim, lost in violence. He flies to each continent and culture, each with its own era and personality, guided by these poets to meet the gods themselves, the gods that the poets have pointed us to since forever. The gods and/or God.

As a discipline, to a class or a family, or in your quiet moments alone, read this book out loud. It’s written in the prose of Homer, Virgil, Dante, Milton (Walt Whitman and Melville take him to task for it), with a well-crafted rhythm for speaking, more commas than periods. If you really want to have an ancientmodern experience, you could memorize it and tell your kids and grandkids, starting the oral tradition once again in an age when machines do all the remembering for us. It would be worth it to do so; they would listen to you, because this book is a rollicking story, a grand adventure, un-putdownable.

"Imagine the nerves of a no-name aspirant he brings his question to the assembled great ones: How can poetry help humanity in these modern times?  Each historic figure once lived in their own modernity, and at first it seems they cannot grasp the great evils enfolding the world today. But the persona’s tour to the seven continents through fluid time and space shows us it has always been the poet’s job to go through darkness—even his own death—to bring the light."

Do not judge this book by the amateur cover; it deserves design as masterful as the verse inside. And do not bother with the distracting nod-to-Homer summaries that preface of each chapter.; lose yourself, instead, in the soaring story. Do not be tempted to hurtle through this book, which is easy to do; but take your time (or your lifetime) to understand the people and works and places it brings to your mind.  A proper reading of this should earn you not only a Ph.D. in History, Literature, or for heaven’s sake, Poetry, but you will be a sage, a superior being, ready to join your voice with the narrator’s in saving humanity.

Like the United Nations or other uplifting councils, the writer organizes characters both real and imaginary, from every continent. (Cervantes, Quixote, and Rocinante , for example, appear fluidly.) Book I makes your head spin as Apollo and the Muses convoke the masses of minds.  In Book II, Black Elk guides  you to the Lascaux caves. In Book III, an aboriginal poet and Robert Hayden fly with Queen Mab and the birds of imagination, and meet Merlin. Tagore takes us, in Book IV, to watch the gods battle in India. Hanuman takes us to Angkor Wat for visions of infinity in Book V, then the Chinese Monkey King unfolds the mysteries of the Mogao Caves and we meet the sages of the Orient in Book VI. All history is leveled in Glaysher’s postmodern gaze, who lets us travel with Job in Book VII to where Yaweh emerged from bloody times. Dante, in Book VIII, takes us to Chartres and flies with the Valkyries and gods to meet Tolstoy, and in Book IX, Hadji Murad flies us to meet Rumi and all the birds of nature en route to mystic sites in Asia. Walt Whitman flies us to South America where Octavio Paz becomes a jaguar and the narrator is beheaded by Aztec priests. Rattled by shamanism, we find ourselves in ancient Africa in Book XI, rewarded by a new vision of the future and a ride back to the moon by a flying turtle god.

In the end, the un-named narrator does not seem to feel in his heart the poet-as-superhero rush of god within, the pleasure of which buoys even the least among us to proclaim our wisdom, as he is still fearful of his mentors and gods, not a peer. But he does act the part, bringing life itself to the cold, dry, moon. And then, presumably, writing this epic and magnificent story for us mere mortals to ride, finding ourselves in touch with the pulse of creation.


Ten Pounds in Ten Days - My Trippy Italian Trip

Spoiler Alert: Ten pounds were not gained. Ten days were not spent. Something went wrong with my trip to Italy. But a lot of things, eventually, went right.

Click to begin...Nearly two months after it began, I have finally finished the blog about my "mindblowing" trip to Italy, in which my friend Jenny and I went to alternate universes instead of on a frivolous birthday trip to have fun and eat.

In the Ten Days...Ten Pounds blog (or as my mother calls it, 10x10), it only took 33 posts to do justice to 8 short and mostly uneventful days.  If you would like to see why, you can start from the beginning, get the overview of what happened, my travels, or Jenny's travails... or just jump in anywhere:
  1. The back story: A Longtime Dream
  2. The right companion: Traveling Sister
  3. Planning a trip: Imagine Italia!
  4. Extricating myself from my life: Mambo Italiano
  5. The day before we left: Italy vs. Jenny's Brain
  6. Derailed but moving forward: 10 things
  7. Sorting out the crises: My Vacation vs. Mercury
  8. In a strange place: Rome if You Want To
  9. It's like a different country: Postcards from Italy
  10. I'm home before I know it: Torna California
  11. Memories of Friendship: Sunday in the Suburbs
  12. Sending prayers: Candles for Jenny
  13. What happened inside her brain: A Tangled Mess
  14. Healing on the outside: Frankenbeauty
  15. It's all about the shoes: Take A Walk in My Scarpa
  16. My adventure begins: The Call of Vesuvius
  17. Best Day Ever: Cavaliere Della Neve
  18. I have it out with Italy: Veni, Vidi, Vici Vesuvius
  19. Different ways to get there: Driving While Italian
  20. Adventure never ends; neither does work: HUB Away from Home
  21. My religious infrastructure: Hail Mary
  22. My dream date: Eternal City Ramble
  23. European living: The IKEA Lifestyle
  24. Eye candy: Italian Shop Windows
  25. Last night in Rome: Birthday for The Bunny
  26. Back home and healing: In Jenny's Eyes
  27. Mind blown by Venice: Grokking Carnevale
  28. Pictures: The Floating City. City of Small Canyons. City of Glass.
  29. Finding myself: Being Vesuviette
  30. Out of this world: In My Element
  31. All's well that ends well: Commedia Dell’Arte
  32. Going home again: In Thin Air
  33. But can you go home again? An Acceptable Level of Ecstasy
Buon Viaggio!