Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary
My Loves

Vincent Murphy

Central New York

Central New York


Come On!


I miss my Missy

Better Days

Better Days
they'll come again

Alicia Vida Billman

Alicia Vida Billman
is 29 today

This says it all!

This says it all!
Friday noon, you're coming home with me Vinny.

Vincent Murphy?

Vincent Murphy?

Tuesday nights

Tuesday nights
are gonna change in May

Mr. Murphy

Mr. Murphy
waiting for his haircut

When I get bored

When I get bored
I take pictures of myself in bathrooms

Graphic Boulevard

Graphic Boulevard
blown transformers and a tree

Cars in Bergenfield

Cars in Bergenfield
didn't do well

House on Queen St

House on Queen St
with a for sale sign in front of it


Storm 2010

Vincent Murphy

Vincent Murphy
and his look alike Bob Murphy

Off my back porch

Off my back porch
Don't worry I didn't take this pic while falling

Down Kellogg Street

Down Kellogg Street

Up Kellogg Street

Up Kellogg Street

My house, our cars

My house, our cars

Winter 2010

Winter 2010


I want summer back!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Well, Maybe It's a Christmas Miracle

Over the past few years the feelings that surround Christmas have changed significantly for me. When I moved back to the East is Beast from the West is Best I spent my first few Christmas breaks readjusting: not to being back here, mind you, but to being a more present and active part of the Murphy family. I used to be a guest of sorts, the slightly charismatic self-centered much younger child of four who swooped in for visits and went home to . . .

to, at times a few secrets I was keeping from my family. My troubled marriage, for example, was a secret I held close and guarded carefully. My dissatisfaction with being in a doctoral program that I loved in many ways, but in many other ways was a part of because it was there and I was stuck there.

But things have changed, and since I decided to take a minute and think about Christmas I thought I'd enumerate some of the ways they have changed.

My first few years back here were spent flying to Portland, sometimes on the day after Christmas, to be with Pin and Big. Then I started just staying in NJ for long parts of the break. To a certain degree I was running away from something and running toward something. I was halfheartedly half here. I used to think at times that D and I were so 21st century a couple because he went home to see his family and I went home to see mine. I just had to go to two very different places to see mine, I guess. The result was a pretty schizophrenic Christmas -- part of it spent it the quiet suburban splendor that is NJ, part of it spent in hipster land.

This Christmas may be the last Christmas I spend with Vinnie Murphy, an idea I sometimes fool myself into thinking I'm handling well. It comes in the year I didn't get promoted and my life fell apart. It comes after a time when I couldn't imagine I would ever be happy again, ever again be spilling my guts out in cyberspace like the narcissist I am.

So this is the moment when I take the time to say that I am one lucky person. If I were a religious person I'd say I'm blessed, but I'm not so I'll leave that road untraveled. And I know it's not just luck; I know that I had a lot of help from my peeps, and I did a lot of hard work myself to make things better. So, that's my Christmas attitude this year: things are better and I'm lucky and happy.

Tomorrow I'm gonna post about the Murphy family's delicious Christmas Eve Deli Dinner, a tradition I look forward to with relish (get it?). And I'm gonna ask what your Christmas tradition are, so get ready to respond, that is if anyone reads this thing anymore. For now I'll say Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwansaa, have good one.


Monday, December 21, 2009

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas . . .

I know this because despite the fact that it's December 21st I have only two presents bought. I spent the last almost two weeks in NJ and then MA and then Pinhead came back to NY with me. Somewhere in all this I graded about 600 pages of student papers.

I love my family, I love teaching, right now I really love sitting here with this blog for a minute before I have to go out and frantically search for presents.

So as much as I miss them all, especially D and Pin because they went away via plane and train, I really need to take advantage of this time alone and get my butt in gear.

See Ya,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

So, here's an end of the semester list . . .

of things I'm doing to avoid grading.
1) calculating how many papers I have to do per day to get done in time = 6.66
2) blogging about how I'm down to 60 papers
3) complaining to people about how I have 60 papers
4) laughing and crying along with my creative writing students as I read their 20 page memoirs, which are overall really good
5) complaining about how long my creative writing students' memoirs are
6) laughing and crying at my freshmen papers, even though they didn't mean for them to be either sad or funny
7) taking long hot baths and reading Prozac Nation and prowling Facebook to avoid all of the above
Vicious cycle? You be the judge.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I know I'm back because . . .

If you've been anywhere near me for the last half year or so you know that I've been struggling with depression. It started when I got tenure without promotion and it's been a long, hard battle for me to dig myself out of. For a long time, I had neither the energy nor the interest in my own life to blog or do anything else for that matter. One thing I'm proud of is that despite all of my sadness I managed to teach quite well and complain about my students less than ever before.

I'm not going to dwell here, but I'll say that 1) it's been tough, the toughest thing I've ever dealt with, and 2) I learned what it means to have to struggle through something alone because despite the fact that many love me (I'm lucky that way) it really came down to me having to get myself to where I could want to help myself, and 3) for me depression has extra nasty connotative value because my mother acquired (geriatric onset) bipolar disorder at 72 and as I get older I worry. That is worried, since even though I was depressed I experienced nothing like mania, no poles here.

So, I'm starting to come back, and here's a list of ways I know I'm starting to come back:
-- I'm posting on my blog
-- I'm singing again. Yesterday it was MacArthur Park with Walter, who cannot sing (Hey, he says it. I'm not being mean). I don't really know any of the words, and it's possible that MacArthur Park might be the stupidest song ever written, but once a semester I sing it with Walter. Soon we'll read A Nocturnal Upon St. Lucy's Day, another tradition.
-- Beyond singing, I'm singing stupid songs that I make up spontaneously, not in public. Today (yeah this is embarrassing and slightly offensive, but it's part of my "therapy") it was "Take a poop, take a poop, take a . . . " well, you can finish the line yourselves (if anybody ever reads this, that is)
-- I am petting the dog more and calling her Stinkerfuss.
-- Lena said "we should have a solstice reading" and I didn't want to automatically say no.
-- I'm pretty pissed about not getting promotion for what I consider incredibly shitty reasons, but I don't feel humiliated anymore. And I think it's good that I'm mad about it but not obsessively so.
That's it for now. Jerad, if you're still out there, thanks so much for the kindness and encouragement. Sarahbear, I'm coming soon. I miss you too.
Keep the Peace,
Oh and one more super peace out thought that I'll leave you with:
Fuck the New York state Senate for defeating a gay marriage bill yesterday when the majority of New Yorkers (yes, it's a small majority, but a majority nonetheless) support gay marriage. We can spend billions of dollars to go places and shoot people, but we can't acknowledge the civil rights of our own citizens?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Am I back?

Maybe. Maybe it's time to turn this gig around. Upbeat -- that's the goal. Making a deal -- if I blog can I please have some sunshine in return?

I have two days left to teach this semester -- two days!

I didn't get it all done; so what else is new?

Well, that was my warmup. If anybody responds I'll post the mincemeat story from Thanksgiving.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hey Blog, S'up?

Dear Blog,
You miss me.
I miss you.
That's the way it's gonna be for awhile, I think.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ya know sometimes things just don't work out

So here I am in front of D's computer, having been up for hours coughing, spewing and hacking. I'm basically killing time until Urgent Care opens at 9:00 so I can find out whether or not I have Swine Flu. Yes, me the most stubborn thickheaded clod of an I'm in denial -- I've finally given in. I clearly have -- and have had for a week -- some kind of flu. Two things are at play with going to the doctor. One, I feel D_U_M_B even saying "gosh I think I may have Swine Flu": two, I'll feel horrible if I do, like I ought to round up all my students and loved ones and dip them in bleach simultaneously.

Monday, September 14, 2009

House Painting?

Well, next Saturday's the scheduled day for house painting, so I'm trying to round up a posse. The glitch is that the weather forecasts a 40% chance of rain. I will compare the place I live now to the place I used to live -- Pocatello, Idaho. In Idaho 40% meant it probably wouldn't rain. Here it seems to mean that it might rain buckets, maybe small maybe big ones. What am I gonna do?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lemme just say . . .

two things. Greetings from Ithaca, NY, and -- if I lived here I would be huuuuuuuuuuge! I mean Fusillo (for you CNY locals) huge, but I don't mean car selection. Soon I will be posting:
- a detailed description of all the amazing things I've eaten (and the great coffee I've consumed) in the past two days, for those who appreciate everything from pastries to Thai food
- a photo montage (done my way, so expect a little weirdness) of Ithaca at 7:15 on Sunday morning
Predictably, both will be as much about me as they are about the place I'm in. After all, that's why I have a blog.
MNYAGG (and the now sleeping D)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The other white Utica

When I was in that kingdom far ago and long away, the one that I call Idaho, people often thought I was moving to Ithaca, NY. Most folks have heard of Ithaca, fewer of Utica (or Beautica as I like to call it.

Well, I moved to Utica, yes, but this weekend I'm going to Ithaca. I have a list of things we want to eat (D and I loooooooove to eat), and yeah we'll do some active stuff too, like walk from the Thai restaurant to the bakery. I jest.

Anybody know any really good restaurants and/or stuff to do in Ithaca?


Monday, August 31, 2009

I wish I had time to blog , sigh

But I don't right now. I'm teaching an overload and trying to spend time with a certain handsome boyfriend. I'm also taking time to do things like clean my shed (Saturday) hook up my desktop (this morning), and continue ridding myself of old clothes by ferreting out things I no longer wear with a vengeance -- a vengeance I tell you!!!!
So if anyone's still out there, please give a shout out and tell me how you are -- just as busy as I am, I suspect.
PS: Missy goes to the vet on Sept. 11. Briana and I are convinced she has cataracts. I hope we're wrong.
More Later, I Hope

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I shouldn't admit it but I'll be spending a ridiculous amount of my spare time rewatching LOST, which I watched when I had the two ruptured discs last fall. Apparently I missed an awful lot of what happened since I would fall asleep and then think I'd watched more of an episode than I had.

Don't think that this endeavor will get in the way of my dedication to my career -- oh no. I'll still be grading those papers, prepping for class, all that stuff. Maybe my creative writing class should be based on watching LOST and writing creative non fiction about it. Surely there have been MLA panels on the show. Anyway, gotta go -- season 1, episode 4.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Okay, I'm writing on the blog

but really I got nothin'. I start work today for reals, meaning the "with students" kind of work. I'm pretty excited. The first week is always fun and exhausting.

Yesterday I watched Missy trying to eat tomatoes off the vine in my backyard. So for those of you who have known me long enough to remember me saying that deer always get my tomatoes, I'm rethinking that one. Sometimes Missy goes out in the backyard at night and stays there for a while, so now, after all these years, I'm putting two and two together -- genius, huh?

For those of you who call and then tell me you like the opposable thumbs part of my phone message, don't you agree that really she doesn't need them after all? As long as I grow things that she can pilfer once I turn my back on her, she ought to be happy.

I guess I'll post my first day of work song so you can have an insider view of what's going on in my head this first day of the semester:

Overture, curtains, lights,
This is it, the night of nights
No more rehearsing and nursing a part
We know every part by heart
Overture, curtains, lights
This is it, you'll hit the heights
And oh what heights we'll hit
On with the show this is it

Tonight what heights we'll hit
On with the show this is it

And if you want to look at it like I just did: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpnbyDT9-qA

That's all folks!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Well, what did I expect?

If ya don't post on your blog people stop reading it. So, new goal (added to a list of many goals that are part of Pat reformation) = post more. Too bad I'm so boring, but here's a little tidbit that's had me tingling (just a little) since my roommate told me about it:
The National are coming to Hamilton College!
I can't verify when on their website, but even if it turns out not to be true just the thought is exciting.
Other news: CCK restaurant in Albany still has a-kickin' food, but the crispy duck on taro wasn't as good as usual. Oh well, anybody can have an off night. D learned about a bakery on Lark Street, so yours truly has a nutella croissant waking for later. I found the perfect shoes at DSW, but I'm trying to beat the price on the Internet.
Oh yeah, and I start teaching tomorrow, so it's back to my version of professional dress. I will feel itchy and constrained in clothes that approximate professional attire. Well, that's life and there are worse things a person could have to do.

One last tidbit. Missy, at her advanced age, has revived a heinous behavior from the past and peed on B's (new roomie's) bed the other night. Super! I thought we were over that. She probably wanted to pee on my bed but the door to upstairs was closed. Abandonment issues suck! Lord knows what she'll do when I go back to work for reals tomorrow. She seems unsettled all the time and extra needy. Perhaps I can get her in a creative writing class and she can work out some issues. Maybe she'll become some canine Sylvia Plath. And, btw, she farts all the time lately; I mean more than usual.

What's been new with you?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Back to Work

Well, it's that time of year again, when summer ends and academicians everywhere drag their sorry butts back to work. I'm getting pretty excited about going back to work, even though our rainy weather makes me still feel cheated out of summer. I'm teaching an overload, so I'll be inundated with freshpeople. My other class is creative writing, something I always look forward to warily. After all, I've never actually taken a creative writing class myself, so it's the area of writing I have the least pedagogical training in. Oh well, I have some great essays for my students to read, including the entire Me Talk Pretty One Day. It was a toss up between that and The Glass Castle, a book that is ultimately uplifting but too sad and disturbing for my fragile little psyche right now.

I'll give a bronchitis update -- I'm doing better but last night I made the poor decision to forego cough medicine. I had to take it at 5:00 in the a.m. -- live and learn.

Today D and I are going to Albany. You might think wow that must mean your syllabi are done, and you'd be partially correct. I'm suffering from feast not famine in the form of so many good essays for my prose non fiction class. Well, it's better than the alternative.

I always start my creative writing classes with "The Learning Curve" which Sedaris begins with the following:
"A year after my graduation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a terrible mistake was made and I was offered a position teaching a writing workshop."

I am like Sedaris, well intentioned but without a pedagogy. Thank goodness I have the imagination to come up with oddball writing exercises to get students engaged and started. And thank goodness for folks who share their stuff by putting it on the Internet.

So whether you're going back to work or you never left it, how, my friends, are you spending this weekend? I'll be throwing in a little (joke if you've seen my lawn) lawn mowing tomorrow just for shits and giggles.

Here's the first shout out for house painting. I'd like to try to get the painting crew together for the weekend after Labor Day. Here's the deal--I supply the paint and brushes (duh!) and the pizza, beer, soda, wine (or other food that I'll prepare if people tell me what they want). I also supply the house with the new roof (yay!) that badly needs painting. We paint until everybody realizes that they don't really like me that much and can't imagine why they volunteered in the first place. Sounds like a good deal, doesn't it?

P.S. new goal for self: get back to blogging more often.
Happy Weekend!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Home Again, Home Again

Well, I put a few thousand miles on Ruby and had a great time with Big and Pin, but it's good to be home again. Here's my brief and limited feedback:
Northampton MA -- cool enough but a bit touristy and a lot of reeking with money
Portland ME -- very cool, easy to walk
Brattleboro VT -- is what it is, quaint and all
NJ -- of course is what it is, but has the advantages of family and Victor's pizza
Providence RI -- way cool and nicely put together
That's it for now.
Whatchu all been up to?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pink Pills

I don't usually blog about anything too serious, but I've talked to quite a few friends in the last several weeks who have suffered from depression and are hesitant to take antidepressants. We've all heard the stories about people who have to try so many different things before they find the right medication, and of course nobody wants to put shit in his/her body that might have only god knows what side effects. But, I gotta say that there are things that can help -- family, friends, and sometimes medications when the latter two and all their love and good wishes aren't enough. So don't be scared. That's all -- off my soapbox.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I wonder if anybody still reads this thing

Yeah, I brought it on myself by not blogging when I was, well we'll call it depressed for lack of a better word. Now that I'm feeling better, I thought I'd give an update about what's going on in Pat's little world.
1) I have a cold. Big got sick from the plane and now I have it, wha!!!!!!
2) I am determined that said cold will not ruin today's blueberry picking fun, which btw is only fun to D and Big. I will be sitting in a lawn chair.
3) I have a sunburn, slight one, from going to Slyvan Beach yesterday. It makes me feel like I'm not fish belly white (I made that one up) even though I know I still am.
4) Roof work should be starting today. I'm getting a green steel roof that should look pretty cool. Then house painting (also green) can commence.
5) This one's exciting. My new roommate has moved in and she's just as cool as I thought she'd be.
6) I'm taking Big to see her gp's in NJ. That'll be good for all of us.
7) After having a rough patch of nervousness, Missy is starting to calm down. She likes my new roommate (yay!!!!!)
8) The only little downer (and it is little I'm aware) is that I'd like to mow the lawn today before I leave, but I feel crappy, wha again.
9) Oh, I almost forgot one: the other day while Big was "renovating" a closet for my new roommate's arrival I took my handsaw and clippers and went to town on the shrubs in front of my house. One will likely not come back, but I'm going to cover it for winter and see what happens. But the other two look so much better. I kept the one by the living room window tall (about 12') because I like to see Robins eat the berries on them. I felt pretty accomplished after doing it. I've never been much of a horticulturist. I also felt sore enough to want to curl up in a ball and cry the next day, but I got over that after I curled up in a ball and cried for awhile.

Well that's all the boring middle class shit I can think of. How are you guys doing?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I don't wanna sound too gaggy, but . . .

it sure is good to have Biggie Head with Fries around. Now if it would only stop raining! Obviously I'm a bad person who is never satisfied. I mean Portland was 107 yesterday, so I should quit whining. And I will -- soon.

For all you Uticans and former Uticans who come back for visits and love pizza as much as I do, here's mini review of Antonelli's (sp) in the North Utica Shopping mall, the depressing one with the Price Chopper.

The crust is amazing: crunchy, light, almost thin enough, and it has the whole dusted with semolina thing that I like (a lot). The sawsage was cut correctly (long ways), and while it was not great sawsage, it was good enough for me. There was too much sawce, but I'm sure they'd adjust it if you asked. We got a pizza with too many toppings, so I can't make a final decision until I have a sawsage and thin sliced onion one with less sawce, but it says on the menu that they'll work with you. Next time I'll ask for the crust a little thinner too. But overall, a really good pizza, not as good as Daryl's though.

You must wonder why anybody would actually eat pizza with me because I'm such a pain in the ass about it; I know I do. I consider it one of the worst character flaws of the New Jerseyian, that we are such pizza snobs, and I wish I wasn't one. Pizza is just a personal (and regional) idiosyncrasy, but pizza also = love, so I guess it's just so hard to eat a crappy pizza, like dating a guy all your friends know is a loser and knowing that they know and knowing that they're right.

Oh well, next up Joe's in Whitesboro.
Any other places I just have to try?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Well I'm Back Again

and in a much better frame of mind, I'm happy to say. In part, my new found euphoria (okay, I'm overstating that one) is because Big is coming from Portland tomorrow. I am so excited that I might even forget what a horrible summer it's been.

And, I'm putting out a query to all you CNYers. What should we do while she's here? So far I have blueberry picking at North Star Orchards, trying a new pizza place in North Utica (Antonelli's I think it's called), trying Joe's Pizza in Whitesboro, and going to Green Lakes. I think she'd also like to go to Saratoga Springs because she sounded pretty excited when I told her I'd gone there the other day. She'll probably want to go to Nine Cornered Lake, and I've got a trick card up my sleeve because I found another cool lake nearby that we could do in the same trip -- Jockey Bush Lake. What else should the Big and I do? I guess a Utica Monday Night is in order, and maybe I'll even break down and go to a Saranac Thursday. Big loves beer with a fervor I don't share or understand but do respect. I guess it's due in part to the fine Portland microbreweries and the fact that she gets a discount on the stuff at work.

Any other suggestions?

She will also want eat cannoli, another passion I do not share, but hey it's her vacation. Here's a potential soundtrack I could be singing on the way to the airport:
Licia's Comin' -- sung to the tune of Eli's Coming and with word changes
I'll Be There -- nice and cheesy
Mother and Child Reunion -- also super cheesy

That's all I can think of for now.

And, btw, if anybody's still looking at this blog and knows Rochester, that's where I'm going today. So far I have the Eastman House, the U, the "beach" and a Mexican place called Selena's (sp?). But if you know of other fun, or a great restaurant, please let me know.

To my western friends who read this blog (if you still do) I hope you find ways to stay cool. It sounds like it's crazy hot back there.
Happy Tuesday

Monday, July 20, 2009

There is such kindness

Well, these haven't been the best of times for me. That's all I'll say about that. But sometimes something happens, some tangible reminder that you mean something to someone and the little axis of all that is spins a bit better. To the person who left Fire To Fire on my doorstep the other night, thank you.

To hold a book and know that somebody thought enough and knew enough that it could be an anchor -- I am such a lucky person and I'd better start remembering that.

If I put into words all that Daryl has done for me the words would make it all sound trivial, invaded by what we have to do to say things and somehow wrong because of that.

I am a lucky person.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Get Serious

An 88 year old man opens fire at the Holocaust Museum, and I'm blogging about nicknames? Yes I am. Sometimes I think I should make more serious commentary instead of silly topics like candy bars and things I like about summer in CNY. But, you know know what? There's enough misery in the world and out there in the blogosphere. So you won't find much serious content until my taxes go up. Then the hounds of my middle class fury will be unleashed. Until then . . .

I love nicknames. I love coining nicknames and believe that some people's names were meant to be nicknamed. There's my friend Ginger, whose name is so easily converted to Gingersnap. There's Clark who became Clark Bar to me in graduate school. I call Zora Zoraster, in part because she drives a Forester. And there's a D-licious out there, cringing as he reads this because some of you know who he is. Every year or so I used to come up with a new nickname for Terry Engebretsen (talk about a patient person), and so Mr. T, T Rex, and my favorite T Bone were coined, among others. I have also coined other nicknames for Pin and Big, and rarely call them by their real names unless referring to them in conversation. Over the years I have called Missy the following:

Miss Thing, pronounced Thang(stolen from Sam)
Missypotamia (stolen from Daryl)
Missy Mephistopheles
Missy Poops
Missy Poops a Lotta
Stinker Fuss (because her feet stink like corn chips, but not corn chips you'd want to eat)
Sweet Sally Sue (which Pin loathes)

That's just a partial list, but I want to get on to my main point. Rarely does anyone nickname me. I think when you have a name like Murphy, the "Murf" moniker replaces any real nickname. Brandon Hall used to call me Fatty or Fatty Patty because I wasn't, and occasionally students call me Dr. Pat, but I WANT A REAL NICKNAME. Suggestions?

Do you have a nickname? How did you get it?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I had a dream

literally. To most people that's not too odd an occurrence, but I rarely dream so it was a bit unsettling. Worse still, I had a dream about getting a B, actually a B- on a paper. And getting that B made me realize in the dream that I had not registered for any classes, and that realization led to another realization that I had failed to attend a class the previous semester, had indeed only attended it once. Therefore, I had failed that class (I think it was a Spanish class). Those realizations led to another realization that I would no doubt lose the office I was sitting in (the dream took place in an office I used to share at ISU). After trying to read the comments on the paper, I turned and the room was full of new doctoral candidates. I told them what a great program it was and how much they would enjoy it. Then I looked at the clock and realized I might as well go home since I had no classes to go to, but I wanted to decipher the paper comments written in such small, tidy handwriting. Not mine, that's not where this is going. Apparently the handwriting belonged to Will Hamlin; now there's a clue. No it's not, actually. What a feeling of desperation I had in the dream! Desperation so frightening that it woke me up safe and sound in my big bed in my old house in my middle class existence. Whew! I'm glad I don't dream too often.

I really don't like dreams; the only recurrent one I've ever had was frightening to say the least. I don't know how people do it, dream and sleep that is. Do you? Dream and sleep that is? What do you dream about? Personally, I think dreaming causes sentence fragments.

FYI, the offensive candy bar I wrote about was a Sky Bar. I was at Chanantry's last night and there it was. Do not eat it; take my advice on this one. And do not eat the giant ice cream sundae at the Ice Cream Factory in (is it in Chadwicks?) that has mint and regular Oreos on it as well as dark chocolate ice cream and hot fudge and whipped cream and sprinkles. I know what you're thinking -- the sprinkles, just too much. Do, however, eat the Crown Burger at Charlie Boys; that's what I had for dinner last night. I love summer eating: good thing I love summer walking too.

Awright peeps, what are you eating this summer and where are you eating it? If you're not eating some nasty burger outside at a place on the side of the road, I feel sorry for you.

P.S. You can learn from dreams. The handwriting on that paper was so small I really couldn't read it. Maybe I'll try that.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Silly Rabbit

I was reading Jess's blog this morning and found out that until quite recently she didn't know the joy of Twix candy bars. Boy am I glad she found herself on that one. It got me to thinking about things we think we don't like, which got me to thinking about my dear Aunt Grace who in recent years has eased up just a little on one food dislike, raisins. D likes to say that I am food eccentric, but I got nothin' on Aunt Grace who will eat turnovers but not pie. Aunt Grace also will not try a plethora of foods because she thinks she might not like them. Is that how it works? The thinking prevents the knowing? Aunt Grace also will not eat pork roast (only roast, mind you) because once thirty years ago after eating pork roast she had a smothering feeling in her chest.

I will not eat bitter melon, and I find cooked fruit slimy and wet. Most of the world is with me on that first one, I suspect. After all, you don't see too many bitter melon stands on the side of the road. At first when I read Jess's post I couldn't imagine a candy I wouldn't eat, especially one that involved chocolate. Then I remembered a candy bar that I tried once and couldn't finish. It had four or five chocolate covered sections and the sections had different flavored fillings. Good concept, bad execution. Anybody know what it is? Let me know if you do, and please let me know if there's a candy you won't eat, or your favorite candy bars. Mine are:

Well, that's the problem, isn't it? It's like trying to figure out who in your life you love the most. Do I pick Chunky because he's an old love and part of my childhood, or do I go with the exotic but fairly new to my life Milky Way Midnight? The Ice Cubes I bought with saved up pennies as a kid, or the Three Musketeers bar that I can have even when dieting? No matter which one comes to mind, candy=love.

Who's your sugar baby, baby?

Happy Tuesday

Monday, June 8, 2009

No, I won't eat it; it's got "bitter" right in the name

One way that I'm a good girl is that I do eat my vegetables with gusto. I was looking at my friend Jeremy Petersen's facebook post about yet another tomato incident he's had, and that got me to thinking about vegetable preferences. Jeremy was, and apparently is, tomato-phobic. I have other friends who have what I consider strange aversions to innocuous (or even delicious) vegetables. Z doesn't like celery, for example, and Pin will pick peppers out of anything with the precision of a surgeon, piling them neatly next to whatever food contained them. D doesn't like the bland but blameless cauliflower, but I've never figured out whether that's a taste thing or just because they're heavy. You'll have to ask him about his past with cauliflower to get the full story on that one. An ex tried to tell me once that he had eaten several vegetables that day, well tomatoes, and they were present in catsup and pizza sauce. In my opinion, that doesn't count.

As I said, I love my veggies, raw, cooked by wok, grilled or steamed. I can't understand people who don't eat vegetables, and have been know to be intolerant of them, but there is one vegetable I will not eat. It's said to be medicinal and have excellent anti-oxidant properties. But still I can't get past the way it smells (in my opinion, skunk) and how it makes my stomach hurt after eating it. So I say no thanks, no way to this vegetable. In case you don't know what it is, I put a hint in this blog title. Can you guess?

Are there any vegetables you won't eat? Don't worry, I won't think less of you. And I'll know what not to serve if you come for dinner.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ouch, that hurt!

That must be what Ruby said as we careened off the road and into that snowbank in January. Careened not because of my bad driving, mind you, but because two of the tires she came with were almost bald. Which reminds me: I have to write that letter to the Attorney General's Office complaining about the dealership where Ruby used to live -- the one that after today will cost me $200.00 more than I've already spent.

Ruby's going in for a minor cosmetic repair; two scratches that have to be filled and painted over to be exact. So the money I might have spent on, oh I don't know, something extravagant like expensive shoes or that new designer handbag will go to scratch filling and probably one-tench of a tenth of an ounce of Ruby Red Kia car paint.

Of course, if you know me you know that I would never spend that kind of money on a purse or shoes. Maybe you know that my purse came from the Salvation Army store in Utica. I've never been the designer kind. I'm the one who has the $12.95 boots that vaguely look like Uggs but that came from Target. I'm the one who's always amazed at what other people pay a lot of money for.

I used to have one big expense back in Idaho. I used only Clinique products on my face, even though I lived in a basement apartment and drove an ancient Subaru that roared loudly when driving at 55 mph or over. I took care of my face with the precision of a surgeon, using cotton balls to remove makeup with makeup remover, then proceeding to cleansing and moisturizing, with a weekly face mask. Then I moved to New York, made over twice as much money as I had in Idaho, and acquired . . .
a mortgage. Now my face gets cleaned with water and a facecloth, then moisturized with whatever is on sale at Target or on the rack at TJ Maxx. That is until I discovered the one product I will never do without again, Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra-lift Daily Targeted Deep Wrinkle Treatment. With all those names it must be good. And it is. Now I'm not saying it'll erase those wrinkles that look as deep as the Snake River Canyon (that one's for you Clark), but at $13.00 a tube it does a nice job of making me look a little less like Death when I first wake up (okay kids, name that tune: "and if I look like Death today, well please let her know").

So that's my piece of girly, chit-chatty talk for the day. For my guy readers, I talk about my Sears Featherlite weed whacker. Yeah, it's a little girly too, but I got it because it's so lightweight. This, sadly, is not a product endorsement, for I cannot (and have never been able to) start it. Yes, it has gas in it. Yes, it has oil in it. Yes, the fluids are mixed correctly. Yes, other people can start it, although not easily. One of today's goals is to go start it.

On the other hand my Sears mower (Greeny) with his 6.5 hp engine starts even after a winter of sitting in the shed containing old gas. I love Greeny. I should, we spend plenty of time together. I calculated that when I mow the lawn I walk at least 4 miles, and that was calculating conservatively. No wonder I eat everything in sight on lawnmowing day.

Well, the question I was going to ask two paragraphs ago I'll ask now. Do you purchase any deliciously indulgent products? Do tell. Some people will tell you I own far too many shoes, but I would like to point out that I never pay much for them. Truth be told, I do own a lot of shoes. My last purchase was a blue/green pair of Cons, and I got them for only 25 bucks. What do you buy that makes you feel like a million dollas?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Really, alls I do is read and write

I toyed with the idea of just putting up two more paragraphs of my memoir, but I don't want to lose friends. It's not that it's that bad, but it's so me-centered. I know you all think that I think the world is me-centered, Pat's little queendom, so to speak, but Jeez this writing about myself and reading about other selves in such a compressed format for summer school may get me to be a little more other-regarding.

Don't get me wrong, I do not think I'm that boring. And I think that schlogging through the past is fine. I get stuck with description. It's hard to write so that someone else can see what we saw. So that means I slow down and take the time to explain things like freeze branding Chinook salmon, my first job and what the school bus that took me to high school in McCall Idaho smelled like.

So, I've escaped my memoir writing and class planning for five minutes. I've allowed myself five minutes to blog, but since I just finished writing for about an hour I feel like I got nothin', nada, I'm dried up, exhausted.

Missy's fine, thank you.
Summer still hasn't come.
It's not raining yet today.
I talked to Bighead last night.
I have to go now and get ready for work.
Please post something better than this post.
Okay, I'll give you a question to ponder and respond to.

What are you doing this weekend?
That's all I got.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Alls I do is read and write

I know nobody is going to feel sorry for me (and you shouldn't), but I've learned that if you teach creative writing in a four week format you are immersed in writing and reading. Well, I don't do much work at night, but Jeez it's summer, sort of. So on days like today when I have to start reading and writing immediately, I think I'll bore you with excerpts from the roughest of rough drafts of my memoir. I don't really know what it is I'm writing about yet; don't tell my students. But I'm writing. Here goes . . .

My sister likes to put it this way: “you were just such a brat.” She doesn’t say this with any rancor or resentment, no exclamation mark necessary. It’s more a statement of fact delivered in a matter of fact way that really says it all. When we have these conversations about my childhood, I always wind up putting up my best defense; I was just a really high strung, skitterish, no let’s face it downright scared kid. My mother likes to muse about the metamorphosis that I seemed to undergo as a plane took off one summer and took both of us to Idaho to visit my brother. At the end of that summer only one of us returned to New Jersey, and I, the youngest and far too dependent Murphy child stayed behind.

At fifteen years old I wanted out. Out of New Jersey, which seemed a place with no identity and plenty of ways to get into trouble. The towns full of sameness, the suburban adolescence with no opportunity for part time work, the friends who were starting their various explorations into drugs, alcohol and sex all seemed like a recipe for disaster. I was no star at the large suburban high school I attended, excelling only in poetry and literature classes, failing miserably at algebra and physical education. I had great friends, but we were all glued together by problems and drama. We scorned the generations that had come before us for their naivety, but didn’t really understand the world we occupied. It was a time full of no big questions and not enough to think about, and we may have been the first generation of American kids to have too much unsupervised time on our hands, some of us with mothers who worked. We were adrift in an ocean that had no swells but wasn’t really placid either. We were 1970’s Jersey kids. In some ways, that says it all.

Betcha can't wait for the next installment, huh? Boy, writing when you have to is hard. I get a few pages one day, a few paragraphs the next. I found myself looking at the McCall, Idaho webcam so I could get details for my piece. In doing so I learned that nothing happens in McCall, Idaho.

Gotta go.
Gotta write.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Devil or Angel, I can't make up my mind . . .

That's as far as I go with anything negative in this, Missy's one-day-late birthday tribute -- that and mentioning that I do call her Mephistopheles. Missy turned ten yesterday, and over the years she has proven a good companion. She:
-- stays in bed with me when I'm sick. That's not hard for her now that she's older, but she's always done so, and her ability to perceive my mood is appreciated.
-- gets so excited to see me when I come home, although now I have to wake her up sometimes to tell her I'm here.
-- still jumps straight up in the air when she's excited, even though she sprained her tail once doing so.
-- loves people so much and is so happy when somebody comes to visit her.
-- let me do part of two nails with the Pedi Paws recently, which proves that she's open minded and willing to give things a second try.
-- can entertain my parents when I can't.
-- protects me from the mail carrier because she just knows he's up to something.
-- adores me, and we all need some adoration.
Thanks Missy for always being there -- I mean always!
Do you have any great Missy memories you'd like to share?
Happy Tuesday

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hi Honey I'm Home

Yeah, I'm back. I just can't stay away from the blogosphere for very long. Today I'll just test the waters, if you don't mind. I don't feel particularly witty or insightful. Oh wait, maybe I'm never witty or insightful. I've done a lot of thinking in the last several weeks, and that's probably a good thing. A lot of telephone time with G listening patiently has also helped. So here goes:

Things I have learned in the last few weeks:
-- People will disappoint you and no matter what their motivations, no matter what the intricacies of the situation, disappointment still has the same nasty taste, like hairballs rolled in chalk (Have I tasted either? No, I'm making a metaphor here).
-- When people disappoint you, you can make a small doll that resembles them and steal a lock of hair and . . . No I didn't do that, but I hear you can.
-- Stewing, dwelling, and fretting are great and all, but plotting revenge is better. Yes, that's a joke.
-- There's a guy who lives on Genesee Street in Utica who mows his lawn wearing red shorts and a green shirt.

That last one is the real reason for this post. I kid you not. I saw it. It's not like he was going for a Christmas look (I can tell these things), but that's the way it turned out. Perfect Christmas colors, not lime and maroon, no, the real deal.

Well, I'm spent. If I keep writing I'll start some sort of festering complaint, and nobody wants that. Besides, I have to work on my memoir, since I told my creative writing class I'd be writing every day just like them.

Happy Monday

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Murphy's New York a go go 2 is going on hiatus. I've got some things to work through right now, and, who knows, maybe I'll be back before you know it. But for right now, I'm taking a break. Maybe Missy will take over. See Ya.

Internet Celebrity

Well, Jay-Bear gave me a great idea for a writing prompt for my class. The internet celebrity is a phenom that I find amusing and sometimes disturbing. Obviously, I like the Internet and don't think twice about posting things I find interesting (me!) or amusing (me!) or profound (me!).

Of course, there are things I leave out. Like right now on this rainy morning I have a lingering sadness that started yesterday. I can't pinpoint it, but I suspect it has something to do with the lack of sunlight we're experiencing right now.

But enough about me; back to Jay Bear's great idea. I'm going to have my creative writing class become internet celebrities. Today I'm going to give them paper, colored pencils, and markers and have them construct a depiction of a web "something" devoted to themselves. I think it'll be a good exercise in thinking about public and private selves and what it means to put yourself out there -- which should transfer nicely to writing for an audience. It won't involve too much text, so it should be a nice way to get started.

Yesterday I had them generate lists of words that they felt describe them. The trick was that the first list had to be verbs only. That was tough for them, so when they got to the second list adjectives seemed a bit easier. Then, you guessed it, nouns and noun phrases were last. Then we wrote, using words from each list. I don't know what they wrote. I wrote a little piece about Dr. Sigh (my pediatrician) writing that I was volatile on my chart when I was a little kid. I read mine out loud; they weren't ready yet.

Today we'll talk about David Sedaris and do my Jay-Bear inspired exercise. We certainly won't go outside to write because it's pouring rain. Let's hope the 3 hours and 15 minutes will fly by.

I have a ton of writing exercises, and many of them have come to me in the car on the way to work; a few I've thought of after a glass of wine or two. Some come from books and get modified to make them more fun. One comes from Pin, so she's exempt from the following challenge:

What would you do with a creative writing class if you had one?

C'mon peeps, step up to the plate. Use your imagination and think of something that would get a class motivated and writing. No nudity allowed, no illegal substances either. Whatcha got?

If you need inspiration, read "The Learning Curve" by David Sedaris. He's my model for teaching creative writing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

First Day of School

Betcha thought some old post had resurfaced, but no, it's true. Today is the first day of the first time I'll teach summer school since I started work at SUNYIT. My creative writing class has three people in it. They are paying for Dennis the house painter to transform this old house.

I was going to teach technical writing online, but that meant eight weeks of an obligation to log on and read posts and grade, and well, there's not that much summer to be had. So, under a new deal, I'm allowed to keep my class open even with three students at $350.00 a head. That means $50.00 leftover for paint, since I'm exploiting the house painter horribly and he's only making $1,000. to paint my house. I had four students at one point, but somebody bailed. Don't worry; I know the paint will cost more than $50.00.

I have a long history with summer school. I started my college career in Latin American History with Jack Owens at ISU, four days a week, three+ hours a day. He's a nice man (a real dog lover), but man was I tired after about 3:00, and we still had 90 minutes to go. After that four weeks was over, it was American History Part 2 and Philosophy, for another four weeks. That habit of two or three summer classes was repeated every summer for my undergraduate career. I read Paul Churchland while Big and Pin took swim lessons. Later, I did linguistics to make up some of my "deficits" when switching from El Ed to English for my M.A..

I like summer school. On a big, busy campus like ISU summer is quiet and peaceful. When I first started summer school, the place was always populated by army officers come for training. One of them had a little crush on me, I think. She would always smile and ask me how I was that day.

As a teacher, some of my best classes were summer ones. The last class I taught for ISU was in Idaho Falls (satellite campus), and the students all pitched in and gave me a going away to NY present. I always tell people that lavender foot cream was part of the gift because they'd all been smelling my horrid feet in sandals for eight weeks. They were great students and fun to teach.

Today I'll meet some new great students, and we'll have a blast. We'll do David Sedaris and laugh, and we'll do some serious memoir too. And Jess, we'll do the chocolate chip cookie exercise. Remember that?

So, don't worry. They're not just paint money to me, these students. In the languid summer afternoon hours, they'll become a community of writers, and anybody walking by the classroom will hear bursts of laughter or see students thoughtfully commenting on each other's work. Besides, they only have to put with me for four weeks, and my sandals are a lot (well, a bit) less smelly than they used to be.

I have to remember as I get ready to teach summer school that as interesting as I am to listen to for hours at a time (ask anybody!) we'll all need a few breaks. And we can write outside, something not always easy to do in CNY. So, wish me luck!

Happy Tuesday and Peace,
Welcome Jaybear. I hope MNYAGG will be as amusing as you'd hoped it would.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

You think you got it rough . . .

It's one of those days when I can't decide whether I want to go out to breakfast or dinner. I know, sounds like a dilemma. Is it Outback (I fell prey to a commercial) or a big breakfast at Creekside Cafe? Being middle class is full of such dilemmas I've learned. Apparently not knowing how to cook anymore aggravates the situation.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a day that always causes the same thought to cross my mind, and I'll warn you it's a morbid one. I always think what if Mr. Murphy hadn't made it safely back from the Philippines, where he served during WWII. He was on a boat (his term) and really didn't see too much action, but once a kamikaze flew toward them, only to change his mind at the last minute. Mr. Murphy has some chilling pictures of Japanese soldiers surrendering to American forces. He has a rifle in the attic and his old uniform. His fondest memory of the war is that once the whole ship got ice cream. The boat is where his hearing loss started, from firing the big guns.

He thinks it's funny I'm in a peace group because he never questioned what he would do when WWII started. He was too old to be drafted, and the first time he volunteered they sent him home to take care of his widowed mother. He was about 32 years old, and he went back to try again. The second time they took him. He was older than everybody else he served with. He could have stayed home, could have met my mother sooner. He's got that old fashioned patriotism, I guess. He tells me he wanted to go because all his pals were going. He's funny that way.

So, on Memorial Day I allow myself my morbid thought, even though Mr. Murphy downplays the drama and danger of war. I think when I do the peace vigil there will be a few more fingers raised today than usual. Memorial Day brings out something strange in people.

Have a Good One,

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Home Again, Home Again . . .

Well, I made it -- I survived a holiday weekend going up the thruway with thousands of vacationers who had to race at breakneck speeds to the Catskills and Adirondacks. I saw some stuff that would make your blood run cold, some stuff that would make it boil. Almost without exception, every time somebody did something reckless and downright stupid, s/he drove a car with Jersey plates. I'm just sayin'. So Jess, wait until you get here to do your driving test.

While in NJ I:
-- took my mother to the dermatologist
-- cut my mother's and father's hair (which includes eyebrow, ear, and neck trimming for my father; boy can that man grow hair, just not on his head)
-- took my mother and aunt out to lunch (my mother rarely gets out of the house)
-- got nine, eight, and then unfortunately seven hours of sleep (dead end street)
-- went to Jersey Boyz with 20 or so people and played trivia (excellent mojitos)
-- celebrated my niece Jill's birthday at said Jersey Boyz, where, btw, our team took third in trivia

So now I'm home and it looks like the lawnmowing fairy (who'd kill me over the "fairy" part if he read this) has taken care of the lawn. What a life! I'm pretty lucky to live here. Remind me that I wrote that come winter when I'm blogging about how I'm hanging by a thread and taking 50,000 units of vitamin D just to make it through the day.

The pics are of my parents' house, the home to which they brought from Englewood Hospital many years ago, the home in which I grew up. I could tell you stories about that house, and I will, but not now. It wasn't a bad place to grow up, especially if you liked all your neighbors knowing all your business.

I'm glad to be home. I'm glad Rick mowed the lawn. I'm glad that it's outdoor ice cream season, and especially I'm glad for Creekside Cafe Creamery. Enough, starting to sound like a testimonial.

Happy Weekend

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm tawkin' pizza

I'm tawkin' Jersey pizza. I'm tawkin' two and a half pieces a sawsage pizza and one piece a cheese. I'm tawkin' about a little slice of heaven. Greetings from the Garden State.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mid Life Crisis?

Not mine -- been there, done that. I'm talking about Mr. D, Do, Do Do, Dr. D., he who goes by many names, among them Dorian (sung to the tune of Gloria). My friend Dorian turned 30 yesterday, and I finally spoke with him after months of unreturned phone calls (Do, I'd all but given up).

Dorian's been my friend for years. I met him when he was not yet 20 years old. I was past that age then, and it appears I am still almost 20 years older than him. He was in my creative writing group at ISU. No, he wasn't the one who scared people off; that was Mark Brown. And he wasn't the one with the crazy red hair and all the political and social fanaticism; that was Jeremy Petersen. And he wasn't the middle aged chic with the really bad poems; that was me. Dorian was the fair haired boy with the ready smile who didn't have to always take things so seriously. What was he doing with us?

Over the years Dorian's friendship saw me through a lot of, let's just say good times and bad times. I was a little worried when I moved away because we're both pretty "in the now" kinda cats, and doing a long distance friendship is complicated. He came to visit me here in NY, one of the few people from Pocatello who has, but of course it's not the same as it used to be when we could just go for a hike, just go to eat, just put off responsibility and go at the drop of a hat. But it's fine. It's just good to know that even though he's an old dude (he mentioned hemorrhoid cream on the phone) and I keep getting younger, we still have a lot to talk about.

So, Dorian Dude, Happy Birthday Dude. Dude, it was great talking to you Dude.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Geek Repository

I should've known that asking about your favorite Star Trek would bring out the total geek in one of you whose name begins with C. Just sayin'. I like that my blog can be an educational place, where Jess can learn about the nuances of Trekology.

So I saw the movie, and it was great. It was like watching Lost only in Space -- get it, Lost in Space? I mean JJ Abrams ought to direct my life; I'd be in great shape from all that running around. And I look pretty good in a mini skirt. Yes, they're still wearing mini skirts in space. I don't know about that. And JJ Abrams' answer to the mini skirt question was bull. Neil Conan should have followed up a little better on that one, but the Talk of the Nation interview was a feel good one, I suppose.

Today I will not be going to the Adirondacks as vaguely planned because it is cold and nasty looking. By cold I mean 31 degrees last night. What a crazy summer. But I'm undaunted. Last night D and I picked up my very large light up palm tree from a friend's house, and it will make my back porch a tropical oasis.

So think of me today as you're sweating in Portland or freezing in New York. Summer's here -- somewhere.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Friend or Pho?

Yeah, that's cheesy. But if you haven't eaten at Pho Mekong, you haven't experienced one of Utica's finest dining traditions. Pho Mekong has been in this area approximately as long as I have, and it's a place where D and I have been going since the bloom of our relationship was on the rose, so to speak. The food is flavorful and interesting, with pho, spring rolls, bun (which I just learned means vermicelli) dishes, and a soup that has pineapple and tomato as well as stir fries of various types. The spring rolls are the best I've ever had, and I've eaten a lot of spring rolls in a lot of places, east and west. The lady (cute and running a restaurant on her own) who owns Pho Mekong is really nice too, so that makes it a great place to eat.

Last night D and I went to Sunny, Utica's new pan Asian restaurant. Let me say that sometimes I'm suspicious of the whole pan Asian thing, but this place is great. We had a Cambodian Farmer's soup and spring rolls with pork (you can choose your meat) and (yeah we ordered too much food) a Thai chicken dish and (yeah, there's more) a beef dish served on lettuce with tomatoes, cilantro and a vinegar salt and pepper sauce. It was great. The lady (cute and nice) who owns the place is really outgoing and again making a go of it (I hope) as a small business owner in Utica.

So support these places people! We need to have some food in Utica that doesn't come with marinara sauce. Not that I'm opposed to a chicken parm, as you know.

In other news, today is Star Trek day. I'll be sitting in a cushy seat at the Marquee theater (not in my pajama bottoms cause it's an afternoon show) watching the new movie and hoping William Shatner dropped a few pounds and that Leonard Nimoy doesn't have a musical number. I really should dress up, but I don't have anything trekkie enough to embarrass D. I guess I'll just have to settle for bringing my Phaser (set on stun, of course).

Tomorrow is Jockeybush Lake day, unless it's raining. I've found a new lake in the Adirondacks to hike to, one that looks pretty enough to rival Nine Corner Lake in beauty. Anybody wanna go with me?

So, let me ask you a question. What Star Trek is your Star Trek? I have a hard time with this one. I watched the first show (now deemed Star Trek Classic) as a kid and didn't get it at all. I only watched it because my two much older brothers did. Mrs. Murphy might not have approved it for viewing. I think the Next Generation was great, well, I thought so at the time. Viewing them now reveals that Jonathan Frakes was apparently made out of wood. Just sayin'.

What Start Trek do you like? Or do you favor some other space series? Star Wars? Lost in Space? TV or movie: makes no difference to me.

Happy Sunday and
Peace to all of us

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I have to say that weekends are a little different when I don't teach. For one, the laundry is done, and I don't have to try to cram a week's worth of it into two days, no easy feat if you want to line (or in the winter, radiator) dry stuff. My house is also fairly clean. Most impressive are my newly weeded flower beds, done yesterday afternoon.

Also, I don't have to hurry and get this post up so I can get to grading. Yes, there is no pencil in my hand. So, do I (like D) feel a little odd without the accoutrements of my profession? Nope, not a bit. I'm living the high life, not doin' nothin', usin' bad grammar, got dirt under my fingernails. Well, I am reading a book.

Last night I ate a chicken parm at Creekside Cafe in Washington Mills, where the food is good and big, big, big. I'm a big eater, but I couldn't finish it. My companion ate a fish fry made of a fish the size of a large fish. He finished it.

I have to say I hit the jackpot when I moved here, as far as cheap places to eat. And, they're not all Italian. Tomorrow I will post pictures and a rhapsodic little piece about Pho Mekong, Utica's only Vietnamese restaurant worth eating at. And maybe I'll have something to say about the new pan Asian restaurant we're going to tonight.

What's your favorite cheap place to eat? If you're from Utica, I'm especially interested, but Clark might have some great Idaho places to write about, and hey I'll get to the Gem State again someday.

Happy Saturday

Friday, May 15, 2009


As I write this I'm watching the movie Doubt. Technically, I watched it a few nights ago at D's house, but since I fell asleep (as usual) it appears I missed quite a bit of it. I have to say the movie makes me a bit uncomfortable. Priests and nuns, boys and girls, Catholic school: this movie has it all.

I think it's good when movies make us twitch a bit. After eight years in Catholic school this movie is making me twitch a lot. There's a scene where a child gets "disciplined" for inadvertently touching a nun -- been there. There's the poverty of cuisine in the convent -- something I used to think about as I walked between the convent and St. John the Evangelist church and saw all those Campbell's soup cans lined up in the window. Nuns don't eat haute cuisine. In this movie, priests do. There's the issue of what happens when those brides of Christ get too old perform their duties.

Most of all there's the fear that children feel in church and in the classroom, as they are under constant scrutiny. Nuns are strange mother figures; I can tell you that. They are, I'm sure, much reformed since back in the day when Sister Patricia got so carried away with her yardstick slapping the desk routine that a picture of Christ fell off the wall behind her. What a sight!

Anyway, suffice it to say that this movie, even though it has sexy Phillip Seymour Hoffman in it (gerrrrowl, he's a hottie) is having quite an impact on me.

How about you? Any movies that make you winch, twitch, think too hard, or otherwise hit close to home?

If you want to hear more Sister Patricia stories, ask my therapist.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The difference between Pin and me

I thought I'd put up another picture from my hike the other day that illustrates a real difference between my daughter and me. While I was snapping (well, there's not really a snap to my digital camera) pictures of beauty and springtime bliss, Cath was taking pictures of a dead animal that had expired in the woods. There's a clear difference in how we view nature.

I'm interested in any guesses you have about what said animal might be. Whaddya think? For Clark, I know it must be a real shock to see spring here. That's why I came back East. Want a job? I'll hire you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What a difference!

I'm posting pictures from a walk last night. They're of the same place I went to three weeks ago, when it was bare and barren, so you can scroll down and see the difference. Now it's really spring and everything is, well, you be the judge.

I probably won't be posting for a few days, going on a little trip with Pin and Luscious, but you never know.

Monday, May 11, 2009


That's what my ILL book is. ILL is Interlibrary Loan, for those of you who don't have to or don't want to use it. When I get an ILL book, no doubt the librarians at the Cayan Library at SUNYIT know it will come back late. Perhaps our really smart librarian Ron Foster alters the due date in an attempt to actually get the book back from me.

I should have known better than to ILL a book during the semester. I'm talking about Murder Most Foul (no, I don't know how to underline in html), the book I've been reading since March. It's really good, and today I will take it to the library and see if I can renew it. It says on the slip that it can be renewed, but of course it can't be done online now because it was due on May 6th.

In other news, I am a little sad today because, I don't know why, I'm just a little sad. So, if you want to answer any of my old posts that ask you stupid or inane things just to entertain me, please do so. It'll cheer me up.

Happy Monday?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

mothers day

I made up a mothers day joke.
hey squash...get on the Yamtrack.
it's a french mothers day joke.
missy smells bad.
I think my mother may be a product of my imagination...
I have a picture of her and she resembles a gumbie. HUMM questionable?
happy mothers day mom.

Mother's Day

Today MNYAGG will have two posts. I told Pin, who is sleeping next to me, that she must post about her mother. Yes, I'm forcing a tribute to myself, so tune in later to see what her maniacal little mind comes up with.

In the meantime, I'll put up a post about a real mom, my mom Catherine Cecilia Lamb Murphy, who:

-- is smart as a whip even at 89.
-- has strength and endurance that have been sorely tested and earned her the name (bestowed by Bighead) the fightin' Mrs. Murphy.
-- had her most high strung and difficult child at 40 and still managed to love me, even though I was a huge pain in the butt.
-- this may sound like a criticism, but it's not meant to be, used to get exasperated and say "Patricia, you have too much imagination," which resulted in me privileging imagination and becoming the cartoon character I am today. Nothing like a little rebellion.
-- may not have been a gourmet cook when I was growing up, but made lamb potpie that was lip smackin' good.
-- wanted to become a nun, but I'm kinda glad married Vinnie Murphy instead.
-- calls me Luvva on the phone sometimes, just like her father used to do.
-- makes me realize that religion can be a source of comfort and inspiration to some.
-- loves me, the only divorced child in the family. I think she likes the rest of my siblings too.
-- was always (as far as I can tell) a caring and respectful daughter. I wish I could say the same.
-- used to tell me to make sure I told people that I didn't run away from home when I was 15, and that's not why I lived alone in Idaho.
-- will forgive me when I call later and tell her I forgot to get her a Mother's Day card.

If you're a mom, happy Mother's Day. If you're like a mom to someone, Happy Aunt Grace's Day.

Friday, May 8, 2009


I did my grades on a spreadsheet for the first time this semester. Or did I? As I write this I'm getting ready to calculate grades with a calculator because I didn't put any values into the spreadsheet when I set it up; therefore, it's not going to calculate anything. Now, D says I can do it after the fact, and Martin said at dinner last night that I can put in, for example, my, well I don't know what he said because it was mathematical. So, I'm going to get out my calculator and get to it. It should be fun because there are 15 graded assignments in business communications.

I can't complain too much because it was a great semester. I enjoyed the students and made it through about half of the tenure process intact. But my big news of the day is that I slept nine hours last night. If you know me well enough, you know that's cause for celebration.

My ugly shoes arrived yesterday, and they're just as ugly as I thought they'd be. Which got me to thinking . . . and here's a question: what's the ugliest apparel item you own? Why do you own it? Do you wear it? How do you feel when you wear it? It is conventionally ugly, or do you like it because it's ugly in an unconventional way? If yes to the latter part of the previous question, is it really ugly at all? Maybe it's art.

Whatcha got?
Happy Friday

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Missy Update

Yesterday while I was blogging about the bread Missy had eaten the day before, Missy was downstairs getting what was left of a loaf of D's delicious coconut bread off of the microwave. I'm just sayin'. I only report the news; Missy makes it.

I am officially done with my grading and ready to calculate grades, and there's only one day left until Pin arrives. That's the big news. The really big news is that Big Head (or Biggie Head with Fries as I sometimes call her) is 28 years old today. Here are some things about Alicia that I love so much:

-- she reminds me that one can be quiet and thoughtful and still be fun and funny
-- she literally changed my life and made me the person I've become, for better or worse
-- she was and is (don't tell her father) my first true love
-- she knows that I have huge flaws as a mother, and she loves me anyway
-- unlike Pin and me, she doesn't have stinky feet (hey, that can be important)
-- she is cuddly like there's no tomorrow, lemme tell ya
-- she is artistic and creative in ways I am not; therefore, I stand in awe
-- she will always love me, even if I spend every cent of her inheritance and wind up living off her, senile and sitting in my own filth
-- she loves languages, is good at them, and wants to work abroad, and I think that's schones gut

I could go on forever, but I won't.
Happy Birthday, Alicia Vida

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

So Pin and I were talking . . .

and she was saying things like "well, maybe you're not paying enough attention to her" and "have you been gone a lot lately?". This in response to the fact that Missy ate a loaf of bread WHILE I WAS IN THE HOUSE.

I'm used to finding a bread wrapper on the couch when I come home, and yes I even think that it's fair game if I'm dumb enough to leave bread (or anything else) on the counter, but that's when I am gone. I was UPSTAIRS EATING BREAKFAST. I give up! I hope Pin can have a chat with Missy when she gets here.

On that note: two days until Pin gets here to honor me for Mother's Day. I am so excited. We have an awards banquet on Friday night (free food and actually good food) and then graduation. Not bad, but I better get through the rest of my grading. Here's an update: papers are done and resumes and cover letters underway.

So, answer me this: am I wrong to deny Missy access to counter food? Am I a bad dog owner who doesn't pay enough attention to her pet? I swear I have not gotten Pedi Paws out in over a week. I walk her every day. I think (I'm pretty sure) I feed her enough. I bought her a toy that is a squeaky dismembered foot (not a real one). What more can I do. Suggestions?

Happy Wednesday
I'm going back to grading

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More grading

What are you all doing?

Monday, May 4, 2009

It's Me Again

and I've got a few things to get off my chest, so I thought I'd do it while that woman is busy grading papers. Honestly, she's a beast. In the last 24 hours, she has:

-- given me yet another bath, and now I smell like a tangerine. She says she did it because I rolled in something. My reply: I'm a dog; I roll in things. What's your problem lady?

-- harassed me with Pedi Paws yet again in some futile attempt to get me to acquiesce and become a mindless dolt like those dogs in the commercial, slobbering happily while some maniac grinds away at my claws with Satan's tool.

-- perhaps even worse, harassed me with a hand held fan she got at a school "function" (she's so pretentious that she uses that word a lot) and then laughed when I couldn't help but bite at the whirling plastic blades. No, I wasn't injured, but it's the lack of dignity I suffer when she laughs at me for not being able to resist the contraption.

-- told Lu that we would board his extra cat. Now that's not bad in and of itself, but she told him I wouldn't eat it.

-- and the last and perhaps most egregious of her offenses: she told Aunt Cathy, who owns a kennel, that I'd be coming to visit while she goes to Pin's house for five days. Don't get me wrong; I love Aunt Cathy's, but not going to Pin's house is unbearable. They understand me there.

So, you can see I've got it pretty rough right now -- rougher than usual even. I know she said she was going to (you can tell it's me writing because she would have said gonna. And she purports to have a doctoral degree in English!) post backyard pictures, but she'd so dumb (how dumb is she?) that she left her camera at D's house. What a doofus!

Well, at least you didn't have to read her schlock today. I'm going to go take a nap now. When I wake up I'm going to bite her because I think she's getting out the flea and tick medicine today.

Catherine, if you read this, please consider taking me back to Massachusetts instead of her. We'll put her in the kennel. It'll be good practice for when you have to put her in a nursing home.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Grading Papers Gets In the Way of my Blogging

So what's a girl to do? I have two classes worth of papers and one class worth of resumes and job application letters. They all have to be done before Pinhead gets here on Friday. I know it's not much compared to what Clark grades; you can look at his blog, a minority report at http://cdraney.blogspot.com, and see what a real professor does. But Clark's a saint -- or he's crazy.

So I'll post pics after I'm done with a bit more grading. I know people are sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for pictures (he he).

I turned my furnace off, and it's 55 degrees in my house. I'm holed up in my bedroom with a space heater reading about the business of social networking sites.

What are you doing?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Ugliest Shoes

I'm awaiting the arrival of the UPS man (oops, person. It's just that my dad was a UPS man for 48 years, so that's what I'm used to saying) who will bring perhaps the ugliest shoes I've ever purchased.

Yes, along with my knee sock fetish, I have a bit of a shoe thing. Last night's reading saw me in black knee socks and red shoes -- quite appropriate I think. This summer I'll be hiking around in Simple Shoes Low Trekkers, and nobody's gonna deem them sexy, although one of you has already expressed the sentiment that they might be. They are made of recycled materials, so I wanted to give them a try. Simple Shoes has really cute shoes too, but these were on sale and I'm cheap. I walk a lot, so I have to replace shoes somewhat frequently, and I try not to get anything too ugly. I also have an unnatural prejudice against white shoes of the "athletic" type, so that limits my choices.

Well, you can look at my shoes and be the judge(s). Sexy, not sexy? I know how I'd vote.

Happy Saturday

P.S. I'll be posting pics from last night's reading and music extravaganza soon. Thanks to T and her mobile, there's already a shot on Facebook. Suffice it to say that I had a great time, and our readers were fun and funny. Right now it's paper grading time, something I successfully avoided all day yesterday.

Friday, May 1, 2009

On With the Show!

Well, National Poetry Month may be over, but I'll be reading poetry tonight at the College Street Cafe in Clinton, NY (34 College St) at 7:30 with my writer pals. And the Fig Mints of Your Imagination and House Blend will be joining us to provide some music. You should come have a great time with us.

In other news, Issue 5 of Breadcrumb Scabs is out and contains four of my poems. You can download it. I'm going to buy some copies since it's rare these days to actually get published in a mag that has a print version.

Last night Patrick and I went to walk along the canal -- Erie that is -- and I got to see a whole new part of my little world. It started out with a drive past junkyards and ended up at a lock. We saw a family of geese and a log that resembled an alligator. We could see Utica from the trail, and when we were walking back the dome on the old SBU (Savings Bank of Utica) building was lit. It reminded me why I live here, what I knew I would see in this place even though I came here in February for the interview. I'll quit before I wax too rhapsodic. Besides, I have a lot of papers to grade and some flowers to plant.

This weekend I'm going to post pictures of the reading and pictures of my big backyard (if the rain stops). There -- I set a goal. What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Knock, Knock"

"Who's there?"
"It's Bill, your next door neighbor, and I have your garbage can."

Well, that's not exactly how it went, but you get the idea. My garbage can, it turns out, wasn't stolen. My neighbor's brother-in-law thought it was theirs and brought it in with their cans. My can was near their cans because the rest of the front of my house was piled high with leaves and branches. I almost didn't tell you guys, but I don't want those who read from far away to think Clinton is choking with crime.

Well, this is it, actually two its. Today is the final day of National Poetry Month and of COM 308 and COM 307, the two writing classes I've been teaching. It has been a great semester. It has been a pretty darn good National Poetry Month. To wrap up the month, I offer you my favorite poem, even though I already posted it awhile ago on the first version of my blog.


When I heard he had entered the harbor,
and circled the wharf for days,
I expected the worst: shallow water,

confusion, some accident to bring
the young humpback to grief.
Don't they depend on a compass

lodged in the salt-flooded folds
of the brain, some delicate
musical mechanism to navigate

their true course? How many ways,
in our century's late iron hours,
might we have led him to disaster?

That, in those days, was how
I'd come to see the world:
dark upon dark, any sense

of spirit an embattled flame
sparked against wind-driven rain
till pain snuffed it out. I thought,

This is what experience gives us ,
and I moved carefully through my life
while I waited. . . Enough,

it wasn't that way at all. The whale
—exuberant, proud maybe, playful,
like the early music of Beethoven—

cruised the footings for smelts
clustered near the pylons
in mercury flocks. He

(do I have the gender right?)
would negotiate the rusty hulls
of the Portuguese fishing boats

— Holy Infant, Little Marie —
with what could only be read
as pleasure, coming close

then diving, trailing on the surface
big spreading circles
until he'd breach, thrilling us

with the release of pressured breath,
and the bulk of his sleek young head
— a wet black leather sofa

already barnacled with ghostly lice —
and his elegant and unlikely mouth,
and the marvelous afterthought of the flukes,

and the way his broad flippers
resembled a pair of clownish gloves
or puppet hands, looming greenish white

beneath the bay's clouded sheen.
When he had consumed his pleasure
of the shimmering swarm, his pleasure, perhaps,

in his own admired performance,
he swam out the harbor mouth,
into the Atlantic. And though grief

has seemed to me itself a dim,
salt suspension in which I've moved,
blind thing, day by day,

through the wreckage, barely aware
of what I stumbled toward, even I
couldn't help but look

at the way this immense figure
graces the dark medium,
and shines so: heaviness

which is no burden to itself.
What did you think, that joy
was some slight thing?

~ Mark Doty ~

When I met Mark Doty he seemed surprised that this was my favorite of all of his poems. How could it not be? Why don't you all put up your favorite poems in a post, and we'll commemorate the end of National Poetry Month together?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

To the Person Who Stole My Garbage Can

I hope you enjoy the fact that it no longer has wheels as much as I have.
I hope you don't let the fact that the clamps on the lid no longer work bother you
I hope you will use it, and you didn't just take it for a ride and junk it somewhere.
I hope you realize that I still used it because I didn't want to see it in a landfill.
I hope that even though the garbage men (sorry sanitation engineers) emptied it, there was still a bag of Missy poo in it when you loaded it into your vehicle.

No, it's not a poem. It happened yesterday between 7:30 and 8:30. And in case you're thinking, no it didn't blow away, and no, the garbage men (well, they're all men and it's my blog. I don't have to be pc all the time) didn't take it because they thought it too was garbage. It wasn't that bad looking, just pathetic. You can tell I'm a little cross about this, can't you?

Should I personalize my next garbage can so no one will dare steal it? What should I put on it? Should I start a business doing personalized garbage cans? Jess, you're kind arty.

I'm cross; answer question 2 in the above paragraph, and it's sure to cheer me up.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ah, Poetry!

Well, National Poetry Month is almost over, so I thought I'd put up five titles for poems I won't write but that represent me in some small way:

1) My Life With Salami

2) Ode To The Plagiarized Paper That Makes Life So Easy

3) I Dream of Taking a Vacation But Have the House Painted Instead

4) Mom, Missy's Freaking Out

5) NPR, You are Satan and I Love You

Of the above poems, I actually wrote "My Dog Needs a Psychiatrist" several years ago. Missy's still as obsessed with me now as she was then. It's a strangely comforting feeling.

Here's a real poem by a real poet, Alicia Ostriker:


That black woman with the extraordinary earrings
Haranguing that black man about the contradictions
Of society, challenging his premises, she's
Been doing it since the freezing Trenton platform
Where the rest of us shivered and looked at our watches.
Doctrinally correct, but
He's tired from work and
He's just been helplessly viewing her breasts
The whole trip between Trenton and New Brunswick.

Father and son in the aisle, the man's
Mouth is hair-thin; nose too; it would seem he exercises
Much control. He is pointing something out
Among the grimy smokestacks of Elizabeth--
Telephone wires? A church? His boy looks aside and says:
"Forget it, dad."


The elderly passenger, the young conductor, negotiate.
The old man puts his
Change in his pocket, leans back
Against the seat and picks his teeth.
The train rattles along, making us all
Fall half-asleep.
Over the brown Jersey horizon the World Trade Center rises
Like a pair of angels
Or a pair of gigantic tusks
And soon the train will dive into the tunnel, emerging
As if newborn, into the mammoth
Starlit City. The young conductor
Comes back again and touches the man's shoulder.

Written in 1989, when the NYC skyline was quite different, Ostriker's poem is something like the poem I think I should write when I take the 167 into the city. I doubt, however, that I will ever write a poem about the NJ Transit. I have written a poem about NYC and here it is:

I Heart New York, Sometimes

On the subway great necked men bend
over their sandwiches, read the Koran,
make the train a house of prayer
while three rails hum beneath us.

This city’s delinquent steam and wreck pulled
out of itself. Uphill in only occasional ways,
it slides not much from cable onto drip coated pylon,
breaks the backs of men who make it shine.

Jesus in miniature hangs everywhere, buffed glossy
with the love of old ladies’ rubbings
in salted bodegas on the edge of the park.

This city's absurdly tilted, disheveled: it's a fire sale
fed when the members of a hundred stunted
alphabets come and go daily, when it’s easy to ride under water.

So, what are some poems you won't write?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Panicky Students

Today is the first day of the last week of classes for my students and me. By this time next week I will have done at least two days of getting up and looking at the mountain of papers I've collected and taking a hunk off of it (kinda like taking a big slice of roast beef off of a, well, pile of roast beef) and reading, reading, reading.

But I can't complain, even though I just did. For all of the nervous wreck inducing moments of this tenure semester, my classes have been outstanding. No, not everybody's getting an A, but the students I've taught this semester have been a pleasure, have been gracious and fun and have put up with my jokes. Not bad.

Gee, I wish the semester would never end -- psych!

In other news, I found a must have book for this summer. It is:
“I’m Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears,” by Jag Bhalla, with drawings by Julia Suits (National Geographic Books; paperback, $13), surveys idioms from around the world. The title is a Russian idiom, which we express in English as “I’m not pulling your leg.” The German idiom for “to have a hangdog look” is to stand like a watered poodle (now also applicable to Portuguese water dogs). The idiom for craziness, in English “around the bend,” is in French to have a spider on the ceiling, in Spanish to have mambo in the head, in Japanese to wrestle alone. In this amusing look at cultural similarities, what we call “a chip on the shoulder” the Italians call a fly on the nose, and what we call “nervous in the Service” is in Spanish like a crocodile in a wallet factory.

Sounds like fun, aye?
Happy Monday
Nick, shear intelligunce, sure!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Well, here it comes, more middle class suburban schlock. But for two dollars a plant I can afford to watch the three lovely perennials I'm about to plant die and not feel too bad. I have no green thumbs, but I try in my own way.

My father and I tried to grow flowers and green beans during two different summers. We got about four beans, and the wildflowers that were guaranteed to grow did not -- at all. I suspect I take after him. I, however, cut more things down, or pay others to do so. I have a small handsaw, and I'm about to go attack some branches with it. My handsaw doesn't have a name, but come to think of it Handy is pretty good since the mower's name is Greenie.

When I mow, I sing my version of the Elton John song Jeannie, but I sing Greenie. No, I don't really know the Elton John song, just the tune, and that probably makes it easier to come up with words. I won't share them with you.

Yeah, it's true. I am a cartoon character. But, aren't we all?

Yesterday was NYC Nick day, and boy was it good to see him. He's a city slicker now, but still the same sweet guy who insists on calling me Dr. Murphy.

How's your weekend been? I'm cooking lamb shanks. Gotta go plant and hack.

Happy Sunday,

Friday, April 24, 2009

Barter Answer

I forgot to tell you the answer. I bartered wireless dog fences and collars for yard work. Good guesses though.


It's Friday, and for the first time in a long time I have no grading. So I'll think I'll make a list of things that are going well, such as:

I have no grading!

It's going to be 84 tomorrow.

Patrick and I are going on a big hike this weekend.

I was nominated for a teaching excellence award by the Student Association.

A semester that has been a really good is almost over.

There are hyacinths in my backyard.

Missy's freakin' out! (I just put that in for Catherine)

Roadie's getting better! (Cath, Rich called last night)

I think I have a pretty good life. How about you? Anything you'd like to celebrate?

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I recently joined Goodreads, after reading in a blog post that Clark is on it. I guess I figured it would make me feel good to know that there are other people out there who read. The thing is I realized I don't read. Well, I don't read as much as I'd like to. Maybe it's because I read so many student papers and articles about pedagogy and random stuff like the Sloan Report that I was looking at today, but I just don't feel like I read enough, really read I mean.

I get really excited when I can sit down with 20 or so pages of Murder Most Foul, but the thing is I used to consume books like this one. I've had it for over a month and I'm on page 109. Every spring I come up with a summer reading list. Last summer I listened to NPR about what I should be reading and then I got to work writing so that I could get tenure. I think I read two books on my reading list.

I think that not teaching lit courses doesn't help (great sentence, huh?). I look at so much student writing, and this semester has been one paper after another. But I don't read literature with the students. I read psych, soc, and business articles for their research papers.

But all that's about to change because a new summer lies ahead of me like an unopened book. I'll hike, I'll walk, I'll barbeque, I'll see both Big and Pin, and I swear to god I'll read.

Until then I'll look at what others are reading to try to get a shortlist going for summer because I still have my Opal project to work on. I'll look at everybody's Goodreads and E.L. Fay's blog This Book and I Could be Friends. She reads way more than I do, and her reviews are smart and trustworthy.

So what are you gonna read over the summer?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


has evidently joined the 21st century. Yes, that "Look at me Mom" post was from the irrepressible Pinhead. But that's only one of her many good lines. My favorite Catherine schtick occurred on a seven (maybe eight) hour trip from Utica to New Jersey with Cath and Missy in the backseat all the way down the back roads and Bighead stopping at every yard sale along routes five and 9W. It was the middle of summer, and even with the ac on, the dog was hot, hot, hot. Pin said "Mom, Missy's freaking out!" and I looked back to see Missy leaning, rigid and intense, up against her and panting as if the world was about to end. Missy stayed that way through pretty much the entire trip and a family joke was born.

Sometimes Cath says "Mom, Missy's freaking out" when Missy is basically asleep, sometimes when Missy is slightly nervous. Missy is always a heartbeat away from freaking out, so the line is apropros.

I'm glad Pin is online now, although it does make me nervous to think about what will turn up. Perhaps I will have to block her.

In other news, today is the 2nd annual SUNYIT Meets MVCC art and photography contest and reading. I've recruited several friends to read their stuff and people from Mohawk Valley Community College are coming to read too. It should be fun. So if you're up by Marcy at around 4:00 with nothing to do, come on over to SUNYIT. Tonight is open mic at the College Cafe in Clinton, but I don't know if I can handle singing and reading poetry in one day.

As National Poetry Month draws almost to a close, I'll share with you one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, Martin Vest from Pocatello, ID. This poem was the 2008 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor Winner, and I had the pleasure of hearing Marty read it at last year's Rocky Mountain Writers' Festival. It is superb.


At first he looked nice lying in the hearth.
On the end of a torch he kept Frankenstein away.
He lit the streets on a dark walk from a seedy bar.
When you wanted to dance he danced.
When you wanted to sleep
he was a lamp that wouldn’t shut off.
He seethed and roiled in his body of tongues,
climbing the walls like a madman…
He flickered and snapped.
He grew to a roar.
Alarms went off, sirens sounded,
the throat of his upturned flask
chanting go, go, go,
like a flammable cheerleader,
but you stayed…
His smoke clung to your skirts
and coated the dishes
as he tumbled from room to room
screaming more, more…
You remember the night that you met him.
There had been others to choose from—
the drowning man who sat next to you
groping at your blouse as he sunk
to the bottom of his whiskey and soda—
the rain-maker with cold gray eyes
who stared into the melancholy
of his gin and lime.
But Man-on-Fire never stopped grinning,
Man-on-Fire with his twenty shots of everything,
with his flash-paper sleights
fueling the crackle of their own applause—
And you, parched wind,
whistling like a spoke, like a runaway train,
howling in your body
for a keyhole of quick escape,
for a fast way through the wall—
What would you want with water?

Pretty good, huh?
Who are your favorite poets?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

look at ,me= mom
look at me mom
look at me mop

Maybe I'm magic

cause it did rain and it hasn't stopped raining since yesterday. I'm not complaining. It gets me out of yard work. I did have to turn the furnace on though.

Bet you can't believe how boring this blog post looks to be. Blah, blah, blah, the weather, blah, blah, blah, I'm middle class. It's just that . . .

Rain makes me boring
I should stay in bed and keep snoring
But I have to go to work and teach
At least that's what I'm calling it these days

The semester is really winding down, with only nine more days until I get final papers from both classes. Then the action begins. Pinhead is coming on May 8th, so I have to get all papers done before then. She likes constant attention, and will say "Look at me mom" repeatedly if she doesn't get it.

My friend Mikey is visiting and I hope that between the three of us (he, Patrick and I) we can get some Pedi Paws work done on Missy. Missy may not be good about the Pedi Paws, but she shone during bath time Sunday, standing still while I showered and blow dried her. Not like a certain white cat who got a little agita on Saturday.

Well, I'd still like to hear what people would write poems about, so c'mon people. I said boogers, but what about the rest a yuz?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rain, Rain

C'mon and do it! I can't remember when we last had a fire warning here in Oneida County, but this spring is pretty dry so far. Not Idaho dry, mind you. Clark will get a kick out of this: the radio weather dude just said we've gone 11 days without rain. To someone from SE Idaho that may not seem like a long time, but here in CNY it's amazing.

My yard is not completely done, but Rick just called and said they'll finish it tomorrow. Oh frabjous day! I can get my grading done, go to work, and not pick up a rake when I get home.

Today at work we have a cj candidate coming from -- can you believe it? -- Idaho! She's at University of Idaho in Moscow. That's the school most of my high school friends from McCall Donnelly High School (graduating class of 63, people that is) went to. It's bigger than the college I finally went to when I went to college almost 15 years later than I was supposed to.

Funny how life works out. I was going to become a biology major because I worked for almost four years in a fish hatchery raising Chinook salmon. But when the time came to leave McCall, Idaho, I couldn't do it. I just stayed and kept my job at the fish hatchery until the state closed it to rebuild it, and then I went back to NJ for a brief (1 1/2 year) stint with the Murphs. Then I went back to Idaho on vacation and got married. I went to a different sort of Idaho than I was used to in central Idaho. McCall was no desert. Pocatello, on the other hand, well, read the poems.

So, I guess the point of all this is that I never complain about rain, having lived without it for so many years. I used to yearn for those hot sultry NJ summers. Someday (I'm not kidding)I'm gonna write a poem about weather's effect on boogers because you can tell you live in a dry place when you have to dig them out, 'nough said.

So, that prompts a question, and I really do want an answer. If you were to write a poem (assuming you do that sort of thing) about something offbeat or inappropriate, what would your poem be about? Do you think your poem would be funny? Beautiful? Sad? Sexy? Moopy, what would you write about?

Let me know. I'm serious. I'm going for a beautiful booger poem myself. In the meantime, here are some pictures from my hike with Patrick the other night. We went up past the donkey farm around the corner from my house and wound up following a creek and seeing all kinds of stuff.

Happy Monday

Saturday, April 18, 2009


really is an amazing place to live. Yesterday Patrick and I went back up to Hamilton College and hiked again. For those of you who don't know it, Hamilton is a very old, very expensive ($47,000/year) private college in good old Clinton, NY. It is its own little world, complete with Root Glen, a series of trails that go in the woods. We went into Kirkland Glen (also up there), which is maintained by the town of Kirkland (Village of Clinton is in the town of Kirkland, got it?). The trees don't really have leaves yet, but we saw trillium and shooting stars. Then we went up a back road and hiked around on some property with a tree line where people have just dumped garbage for years, and I found a metal twin bed headboard and foot board that I'm going back to get. I just have to cut the little trees that have grown between the bars. Crazy stuff.

The yard is coming along. Noel came and cut the apple tree stumps down, and we loaded the wood. Then I took the grape arbor apart, and Patrick cut the grapes down and we hauled the stuff to the curb, which is completely full the width of my house with my tree trimmings and leaves. We can't get one post out, so if you wanna help, help. It's bent and if it's like the other one P got out, it's in the ground about six feet.

So, things are shaping up. I need a new back porch door, so I might get to go to crazy Bouckville this afternoon after the Vagina Monologues. More about Bouckville (the craziest antique center I've ever seen) later. Gotta go, time to bake brownies for V Day.
Peace and Happy Saturday

Friday, April 17, 2009

I have waited . . .

with a glacier's patience
Smashed every transformer with every trailer
Till nothing was standing
Sixty five miles wide
Still you are nowhere, still you are nowhere
Nowhere in sight
Come out to meet me
Run out to meet me
Come into the light

That's what Neko Case has to say about love in her song This Tornado Loves you from her new cd Middle Cyclone. If you've never listened to her, Neko Case is my new girl crush. Her voice is liquid; as my bandmate Noel says it has no sharp edges. Noel does not say this about my voice.

You'd think that with it being National Poetry Month I'd put up a poem, so I shall. Here's James Hoch, and this is one of my favorites:

My Letter of Introduction to God

I’m 33, Christ’s age; you remember Christ.
I was lucky enough to be born in New Jersey,
so believe I am entitled to a few things: I’d like
a stone house floating on a lake, for the stones
to shimmy and fall into water, to salvage them,
so I could learn masonry. I always wanted
to be a stone mason, so elegant, so strong.
I’d like a house in Mexico and a day for me
to wake, pomegranates growing in my yard.
I’d like a cast iron tub, lavender and sage,
for my wife, Isabelle, to soak in. I’d like a wife
named Isabelle and a few children who look
a little like me, okay, a lot, but better than me,
small enough to run beneath the belly of a horse.
I’d like a horse for my excessively beautiful
children and, if she would agree, for my wife,
my excessively beautiful wife, Isabelle, to ride
through the streets, though no one would
possess her, not even me, who’d try to.
I’d like the streets to be empty, empty of want,
empty streets, except for the horse, his odd
fondness for staring into troughs, and dogs,
a pack who would remind me of people
I have loved and failed to love well enough,
the way they roam back into my life, ones
that would tend not to stray beyond my voice,
and if so, would turn gentle, more caring,
like the horse the children feed pomegranates.

I like this poem because it's just so well done, and in it Hoch makes a little fun of himself too. As a matter of fact, his poem led me to write the following poem, which is nothing like his poem.

On vacation in Cape Cod I think of Idaho, home, and other places

Unfamiliar landscapes take me back. In Idaho they’re breathing smoke right now. The desert, saying “burn baby burn,” is giving up outbuildings, sagebrush, condominiums and homes.

Here, we can’t imagine fire could take hold. The rain comes smelling like chlorine afterwards, and while it’s on there may be a flash flood, or someone may find Jesus again. What can I do? The people are nice, they smile, say hello, and mow their own lawns. Sometimes it’s all too much.

Because I’m from New Jersey, and there at 7:45 the lawn crews start their engines early. I bitch -- and think about who I might call to put a turd in their $6.00-an-hour life so my father can sleep in. At 97 he has little else to do but stay in bed and dream about the city, the boat, the war, his long dead family.
In upstate we are soggy and feed on greens and riggies, pronounce certain words as if they’ve been lying in the back of our throat for awhile. The rains wash our trees, and we know no tan, no brown in summer, no sun in winter. Delirium too energetic, we dig our cars out schloggy, hoisting and dumping the lake effect to piles on each side of the driveway. My snow’s as high as me some years, and I am hid behind it, easy to be wan and gray as the shortest of days.

In Idaho on a big sky day, you can see the top of Chink’s Peak, and the gap and cows aren’t dusted . Miles away the Tetons look like jagged teeth and meth is cooked in their shadow. The Mormons look south to where Marhoni and his horn stand proud, and the rest of us just look up and pray for rain.

What are you listening to and/or reading today?
Good Friday to yuz; ooops, that was last week
P.S.: Clark, please don't think I'm obsessed with, you know.