Saturday, January 23, 2016

Ah, the Country Life

I confess that this snowstorm might be all my doing.  Really. You see, I asked the Universe and the Spirits on the hill who live in the cedar trees behind the barn to not let there be any snow until we finished all the work on our house.  Since November, we’ve had workers here almost every day, rebuilding old rotting walls and replacing the roof and re-siding , transforming our battered white Cape into a pristine grey and white home that I can hardly recognize.  Less than twenty-four hours after they finished, we are getting snowed in with this epic storm.

Of course, my husband took off for the balmy West Coast yesterday on a gig, leaving me and my daughter to batten down the hatches.  I put on my Pioneer Woman alterego and got to work.  Growing up outside of Chicago, I have been well seasoned with winter snow protocol.  Now, it’s my duty to pass down these survival skills to my daughter.

She’s not enjoying this lesson.  Complaining loud enough to be heard in New Jersey, she has been helping me shovel, watching her paths disappear as more snow continues to cascade down and obliterate them.   I keep explaining that this is fluffy white stuff now, but if we don’t get a jump on it and it turns icy, we’ll be very sad tomorrow morning.  While I dragged hay and feed and water to the horses and mucked and tucked them in for the night, she moaned and groaned until I told her that I couldn’t stand the complaining, and she should just go back in the house.  She left, and I enjoyed the silence as I finished up the barn chores. 

When I turned towards the house, I was astonished to see that my grumpy child had carved a series of magnificent paths from the house to the hay garage and to the barn. She even shoveled around the front so we would be able to take the dog out easily.  What a champ!

“I’m never going to live in the country again,” she announced as I stumbled in the back door like the Abominable Snowman. “Are you going to go back to California?” I asked. “No, I’m going to live in New York City where they have people who do this kind of thing for you.”

When I was my daughter’s age, I ran as fast as I could from the country to the city, but life is a spiral and I’m happy to be back in the country again. Tomorrow morning, at dawn, when I get up to feed the horses, I will let my daughter sleep in.  I’ll just tie a rope to the knob on the back door and around my waist, like the Pioneer Woman that I am. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Without David Bowie

For my 25th birthday, my ex-husband arranged that I interview David Bowie.  We were friends with his managers, and I was working at the television division of Newsweek,  and I loved everything that David Bowie did.  I’ll never forget meeting him. Oh, those blue eyes!  When I woke up this morning at 6 am and read that Bowie had passed away, I felt myself instantly transported back through the decades to that suite at the Pierre Hotel.

Bowie was warm and charming and very humble during the time we spent together.  He had just returned from a trip to Africa with his young son, and he was eager to tell me about it.  He felt very drawn to the African people and was honored that they had been able to meet with some Masai tribesmen.  He told me that it had been hard to arrange since a group of tourists had gone there and caused trouble.  He said that the Masai believed that if you took their photograph, you would steal their souls, so the tourists had agreed to not bring any cameras. One man secreted his Instamatic in his jacket and took a photo of one of the warriors, who smashed the camera, stabbed the tourist and tried to kill him.  Bowie and his little boy had a very different, positive experience, and were welcomed by the tribe.

He proudly went into his luggage and pulled out a Masai spear to show me that they had given him a special present to show how he was their friend.  I was captivated by him, by his stories and his graceful aura. He was so delicate and slim and wrapped himself elegantly around a chair, smoking cigarettes and pouring tea for me.  I decided that David Bowie was everything that a rock star should be, with a strong dash of debonair gentleman thrown in for good measure.

About a month later, my ex and I had dinner with his parents, who had just returned from a safari trip to Africa.  They brought us a gift.  I was astonished when we opened our present and it was a spear just like the one that Bowie had shown me.  “Oh my god, where did you get this?” I asked excitedly.  “Why, all those Masai were selling them along with other trinkets on the street corner outside our hotel,” my mother-in-law told me, “We thought it would be fun to bring you something different for your apartment.”

I still don’t know what to make of it.  Let’s just say that I was bewitched by David Bowie, and leave it at that. “There’s no smoke without fire.”  Now, one of the great masters of mystery has left this world, and while his legacy of music, film and theatre remain, we will miss his fabulous flame.

My favorite Bowie song: 

Just when I'm ready to throw in my hand
Just when the best things in life are gone
I look into your eyes, uh, uh
There's no smoke without fire, uh, uh
You're exactly who I want to be with, uh, uh
Without you
What would I do
And when I'm willing to call it a day
Just when I won't take another chance
I hold your hand, uh, uh
There's no smoke without fire, uh, uh
Woman I love you, uh, uh
Without you
What would I do

David Bowie, “Without You”