Monday, May 28, 2007


My Pepere was a professional photographer, as was one of his sons and one of that son’s daughters. Two of my children have studied photography. I’m the one in the family that cuts off heads and takes still shots of the garage floor. In response to my admiration of a series of his photographs featuring everyday objects, my friend B, the inspired photographer whose work appears at Intervallic, gave me an assignment. I was to take a picture of clothespins (could we get any more ordinary, every-day?) and then write about the process.

I’ve been staring at the clothesline through my camera lens for days now. My billowing pillowcases do not look like objects d’art, nor do my bathroom rug or my faded blue jeans inspire poetry. But oh! Look what happened when I took a picture of the three clothespins my landlady left on the line after removing her dishcloths.

What’s next, B?

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I’m a jeans and tee-shirt kind of girl and have been ever since I climbed out of my flounced and frilly school dresses and into a pair of my brother’s cast off denims. There are things a girl can do in pants that she can’t (or shouldn’t) do when she’s all gussied up, like running fast, sitting cross-legged, climbing trees, and clambering over rocks. I had forgotten just how confining skirts were until the other day when I put one on for work.

My biggest problem initially was finding a skirt. I’d long since packed them away in a closet, replacing them with the more accommodating slacks and jeans. I pulled a few from their hiding place and looked at them with a critical eye. The calf-length maroon with the swirls of paisley was my favorite but it had a set-on waistband with no give. I found that I had grown a good inch between the buttonhole and the button. I tossed it aside and rummaged for one with an elastic waistband. I found two—a short, sedate charcoal gray with pinstripes and a slinky little tan number with a slit in the back that I couldn’t remember buying. I took them downstairs and set them on the bed, then stood in the open closet door looking for a top to match. No matter how much I looked, I could find nothing that would look good. Back up I went to search the boxes for a blouse. I found one that would do, and after spiffing it up with a warm iron, proceeded to dress for work.

Halfway through my toilette, the phone rang. I took a quick stride and came to an abrupt halt. Something was gripping my knees. I looked down in surprise. The hem of the skirt was taut around my outstretched legs. I shortened my step and minced my way to the telephone. Used to moving about unimpeded, I kept forgetting to ‘walk like a lady’ and tottered through the house gathering keys and pocketbook and mail and eyeglasses. I lurched out to the car and wriggled under the steering wheel. The skirt slid halfway up my thighs. I gave it fierce tug and drove off, thinking longingly of my blue jeans.

I stopped at the post office to mail a package. Opening the car door, I tried to swing my left foot out but it got caught mid-pivot. Immediately, I heard an echo of my mother’s instructions for skirt etiquette. “Ladies always swing both legs together when getting out of a car.”

“Well, that’s fine,” I grumbled to myself, squirming out from under the steering wheel, “if you’re in the passenger seat and it’s pushed all the way back but,” and I gave another yank on the skirt hem, “one cannot SWING out from under a steering wheel.”

I finally emerged, skirt and hose askew, shook myself into some semblance of order and marched, head high, into the post office. My next stop was work. No one there had ever seen me in a skirt. “You’re all dressed up!” exclaimed one co-worker.

“Just a skirt,” I said casually, feeling suddenly overdressed.

“You have legs!” exclaimed another and I beat a hasty retreat to the ladies room before he could remark on any other body parts he hadn’t thought to notice.

I spent the rest of the day alternately tugging my hose up and my skirt down. How I survived my childhood in dresses and skirts I’ll never know. Tomorrow I’m reverting to slacks. “Ladies always…” my mother’s voice will start to whisper but I’m plugging my ears.