DDOP-20 Silver is the Color of Laughter

Gene Wilder

Description:

Silver is the color of laughter… RIP Gene Wilder.

Transcript:

My husband asked me to talk about the color silver. Silver is source of humor for us, because I tease him about his strawberry-blond beard going gray, and he insists it’s going silver. Alternately, when my roots are growing out, he’ll point out that there are streaks of silver in my hair, and I’ll glower at him because what woman wants to be reminded that she no longer has her childhood hair color, or that no amount of will will make hair grow in pink.

But the glowering isn’t really meant, and silver is something we laugh about.

Silver for me is the color of rain. From my earliest memories I’ve loved rain. I love the kind of rain that comes in thick, heavy drops, and the kind that is so fine you can’t even tell it’s raining unless you catch a glimpse of it from the corner of your eye.

I even like the needle-sting rain that precedes sleet in what passes for winter in Texas, which isn’t really, all that different from what passed for winter when I lived in northern California. I like the staticky hiss of rain when it falls into the pool, and the way when it rains on end – as it often does here – and then suddenly stops, the world sounds brighter because the background sound of rainfall has sharpened all the sounds.

There are times when rain isn’t quite so welcome, and times when it is. Today, on the way home from a routine visit to my doctor, the skies opened in a sudden silvery downpour. Once inside, I turned on my computer and learned Gene Wilder had died, and the summer storm felt appropriate, somehow, as if Mother Nature herself was acknowledging that this wise, funny, surprisingly gentle, actor, director, and writer was transitioning, or had transitioned, to a different state of being.

I’ve been reading all the different reports of his death, all the mentions of his iconic roles. For many, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was their first Wilder. I love that film, and his performance in it, but my first introduction to him was in Blazing Saddles.

However, the story I keep coming back to is one from the book Gilda Radnor wrote while she was battling ovarian cancer. She talked about filming The Woman in Red, and how, after the film had come out, someone told Gene he should have married the beautiful girl from that film. He responded by telling the person, “I did.”

I don’t believe in a literal Heaven, but if there was one, I think today would find Gilda welcoming Gene inside, and then I think there would be some kind of cosmic Old Comedians home, where Gene and Gilda would trade stories with Robin Williams. Belushi would show up too… and David Bowie would be there just because Bowie would fit in with every crowd.

Obviously other people would eventually be part of the gathering, but the one constant would be that there would be laughter… quiet laughter, raucous laughter, soft titters, loud guffaws, and big, bold belly laughs – as many kinds of laughter as there are kinds of rain.

Alternatively, the energy that was once Gene Wilder’s life force is now sprinkled throughout the universe, touching all of us with humor and kindness and grace, the way his performances always did.

Either way, he will be missed.

And silver may be the color of rain, but it’s also the color of laughter. Shiny, delicate, magical laughter.

Links & References:

Credits:

  • The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Tub is written and produced by Melissa A. Bartell, and is recorded and produced using the BossJock iPad app and Audacity.
  • Bathtub Mermaid album art was created by Rebecca Moran of Moran Media
  • Music used for the opening and closing is David Popper’s “Village Song” as performed by Cello Journey. This music came from the podsafe music archive at Mevio’s Music Alley, which site is now defunct.

Contact Me:

DDOP-19 Sunday Brunch: Kite & String

kiteandstring

Description:

In which the Bathtub Mermaid compares her marriage to the relationship between a kite and string.

Excerpt:

If there are times when his somewhat introverted, often pedantic, stoic, engineer self makes me feel like I’m actually married to the android Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, I’m certain that my tendency to bounce from topic to topic, change my accent on a whim, and wander around the house talking to myself as I work out lines of dialogue for an audio drama I’m in, or a story I’m writing, makes him feel like he’s married to Sibyl.

Links & References:

Credits:

  • The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Tub is written and produced by Melissa A. Bartell, and is recorded and produced using the BossJock iPad app and Audacity.
  • Bathtub Mermaid album art was created by Rebecca Moran of Moran Media
  • Music used for the opening and closing is David Popper’s “Village Song” as performed by Cello Journey. This music came from the podsafe music archive at Mevio’s Music Alley, which site is now defunct.

Contact Me:

DDOP-18 Taste of Mexico

Mexican Vanilla

 

Description:

In which the Bathtub Mermaid talks about smuggling salt and vanilla home from Mexico.

Transcript:

Every year at about this time, I start counting, not just the days, but the minutes – the seconds – until my next visit to see my parents in Mexico. Partly this is because my mother and I are close, and we only get to see each other about once a year. But partly, this is also because I’m getting low on some of the things I typically buy when I visit.

My Mexican shopping trips began with vanilla. Mexican vanilla tends to be pure vanilla without extra chemicals, and more importantly without sugar, and it tastes amazing, but we were visiting Todos Santos one year when I found this store that sells pottery and ceramics in front, but sells artisan tequila and vainilla tecul – vanilla tequila – as well.

Now, vainilla tecul is technically drinking vanilla. You can drink it by the shot or you can pour it over ice cream or into coffee, and it’s delicious. I buy a liter bottle for myself and a few smaller bottles for friends, wrap them in plastic and pareos, and stash them in my suitcase every trip. The price varies, but last October a liter was about five hundred pesos or about thirty dollars – the exchange rate has been really good for us (and really sucky for Mexico) the last couple years – I think right now it’s actually like eighteen and a half pesos to the dollar. If it’s still that good in December – presents for everybody!

After vanilla, I started bringing home damiana crema. Damiana is a local plant, and when it’s fermented it’s used a muscle relaxant, and when it’s mixed with cream it becomes a lovely liqueur, but very potent. Legend has it that damiana is also an aphrodisiac, but I haven’t really catalogued any data about that.

More recently, my parents have begun frequenting their local farmer’s market which takes place along one of the streets in the center of La Paz, and is a really interesting mix of touristy stuff and local stuff. The pesto and yogurt that my parents get from the market are to die for, but I go for the salt.

There’s one vendor there who sells seasoned sea salt, and I always buy a bunch of it, and take it home, and eke it out over the next year so that it lasts. Except this year, I’ve run out of all my “magic salt,” and I haven’t been able to reproduce my favorite kinds.

Even the salt bar at Central Market has been less than helpful.

There are three varieties of salt that I buy there – one is garlic and onion, one is onion, bell pepper, and black pepper, and basil, and the third is a smoky-sweet salt with guajillo peppers in it. Guajillos are my favorite hot peppers. They’re stronger than poblanos, but more savory than spicy, and they have this berry undertone that does wonders for things like chili and empanadas.

When we’re IN Mexico, my favorite food experience is actually tacos. There’s a restaurant that has their grill out on the street, and the meat is Sonoran beef, and for four of us, we usually get about a kilo, because it’s less expensive than buying individual taco platters and the food goes farther. It’s so good, served the way most Americans think of as fajitas – with lime and salsa fresca and avocado and grilled onion.

I know this will disappoint Michael Butler, but none of us is a fan of Tecate. Instead we pair our street tacos with either negra modelo or indio (Indio is a Mexican beer -it’s a Martzen – an amber – with a hint of spice, but it can be difficult to find in the US, even in Texas.)

My friend Clay keeps teasing me that I should start an import company, just for vanilla, salt, and Indio beer, and there are moments when I fantasize about it, but mostly I just like to stash what I can in my suitcase, and blow my last pesos from every trip at the duty free store, where I buy tequila, yes, but usually also this Irish coffee bourbon liquor called Sheridan’s.

Links & References:

Credits:

  • The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Tub is written and produced by Melissa A. Bartell, and is recorded and produced using the BossJock iPad app and Audacity.
  • Bathtub Mermaid album art was created by Rebecca Moran of Moran Media
  • Music used for the opening and closing is David Popper’s “Village Song” as performed by Cello Journey. This music came from the podsafe music archive at Mevio’s Music Alley, which site is now defunct.

Contact Me:

Audio Player

DDOP-17 Of Ochre and Ogres

Cook Dinner Tonight

Description:

In which the Bathtub Mermaid riffs about ochre and ogres and spices.

Transcript:

My aunt Patricia in Connecticut suggested that I talk about ochre. Specifically, she asked me to riff on yellow ochre, and I’ll confess, it’s one of those words that I’ve seen printed all my life and never heard spoken aloud, so I actually checked the pronunciation.

When I mentioned this at dinner, our friend Ben mentioned that he’d once been part of an RPG campaign where ochre had come up, and I asked if it had been an ochre ogre.

“No,” he said. “It was ochre slime.”

“My idea is funnier…” I continued riffing, “Oooh! It was an ochre ogre who likes okra!”

Fuzzy, my husband, added, “And watches Oprah!”

And now you have an idea of the lofty dinner conversation we have at my house.

And you also know that it’s possible to get to your mid-forties without having heard common words spoken aloud.

I usually write and record these Dog Days episodes in the late afternoon, over a mug of coffee, but I woke up today with an itchy/scratchy throat and the beginning of a migraine, so I didn’t even begin until after ten pm, which is why this is coming at you at 11:59 pm. I am the queen of getting things in under the wire.

So I went looking for pictures inspired by ochre, and what I found was a picture I took after a trip to Penzeys Spices. (I went in for one thing and came out with a bag… it is impossible to spend less than fifty dollars at Penzeys.)

Ochre – all the different versions of it – red and yellow obviously, but also, sienna and umber – reminds me of spices. The yellow ones – saffron, curry powder – moving toward orange with turmeric – different chili powders – and then the sweetening spices like cinnamon and nutmeg that bring us into the browns. I love the colors as much as I love the flavors.

I want to keep this brief tonight, so, as per Nutty’s suggestion, and the fact that so many Dog Days participants are talking about food, I’ll do something foodie tomorrow.

Links & References:

Credits:

  • The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Tub is written and produced by Melissa A. Bartell, and is recorded and produced using the BossJock iPad app and Audacity.
  • Bathtub Mermaid album art was created by Rebecca Moran of Moran Media
  • Music used for the opening and closing is David Popper’s “Village Song” as performed by Cello Journey. This music came from the podsafe music archive at Mevio’s Music Alley, which site is now defunct.

Contact Me:

DDOP-16 Ocean Water Blue Water

blue bath

 

Description:

The ocean comes in many shades of blue, but one of my favorite kinds of blue water comes in a box.

Transcript:

Becca Rowan, who isn’t only a friend, but also has a great book of essays out, called Life in General mentioned that I hadn’t talked about the colors of water, and specifically the ocean.

The thing is, the ocean has many colors, ranging from cold, metallic gray to deep midnight blue, from pale aqua to kelpy green to the brilliant blue that you get in Mexico where you can see the bottom with no trouble.

I mean, there are as many colors of ocean water as there are grains of sand, you know?

But the truth is, there’s another kind of blue water I’ve loved with childhood, and – don’t laugh – it comes in a box.

Specifically, it’s Vaseline Intensive Care bath beads, and I have no idea if they still make it, but my mother used to use it when I was a kid, and while I’m sure she chose it because it soothes dry skin, my favorite thing about it was that it turned my bath water blue.

What bathtub mermaid can resist blue water in her very own tub, I ask you? Or what child at all, really? Having bath toys floating on top of or diving through blue water is just so much more fun than regular bath time. Not being able to see your own toes makes a bath into an adventure.

Okay, the water never really got that blue, but it had a lovely floral-aquatic scent, and it did make your skin feel smoother, and really, the only flaw with it is that you can’t combine it with bubbles because something in the oil makes bubbles deflate.

These days, I’m more likely to be found in my swimming pool than soaking in a tub (at least in summer) and when my bath water is tinted it’s usually purple or red with epic amounts of glitter courtesy of Lush bath bombs, but I still have fond memories of begging my mother to let me have “blue water” for my bath.

Links & References:

Credits:

  • The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Tub is written and produced by Melissa A. Bartell, and is recorded and produced using the BossJock iPad app and Audacity.
  • Bathtub Mermaid album art was created by Rebecca Moran of Moran Media
  • Music used for the opening and closing is David Popper’s “Village Song” as performed by Cello Journey. This music came from the podsafe music archive at Mevio’s Music Alley, which site is now defunct.

Contact Me:

DDOP-15 Brown (Madison)

Madison

Description:

Right now, brown is the color of my foster-dog, Madison, who was adopted and returned over the week of my birthday.

Transcript:

My young friend Berkley asked me to talk about the color brown. I thought about all the things I associate with brown: coffee and chocolate, obviously, but also rich, loamy soil, the leather of saddles and bridles – I’ve always loved the way tack smells – the soft suede of my favorite boots.

But right now, I associate brown most with Madison, my foster dog.

Madison is a 4 year old American Staffordshire Terrier mixed with a little bit of Pyrenean Shepherd, and when she finally came to us a few years ago she’d already run out of time at a rural shelter and been sent to boarding to try and buy her even more time.

The rescue I work with, Shelter2Rescue Coalition doesn’t have a facility where we keep dogs. Instead, we’re a network of foster families and we pull dogs from a bunch of rural shelters around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Our goal is to get to a point where those shelters never have to euthanize animals for space.

There are whole stretches of time when we are successful, when the only dogs put down are those so sick they literally cannot be saved. Then there are times when we feel like no matter what we do, failure is all we see. When one of our shelters has no choice but to euthanize an animal, we all take it personally.

Incredibly personally.

Now, as a fosterer, my part in rescue is relatively easy. I take dogs like Madison into my home and treat them essentially as if they were just another part of my family, although the foster dogs aren’t typically allowed to sleep on the beds or be on the furniture, simply because we don’t want to encourage behavior a potential adopter may not like.

But the women who run our organization – Kimberly, Louisa, and Liz chief among them – these women are tireless, and they fierce.

Liz is a sucker for hard luck cases, and jokes that dogs see her as one of them. Her passion is quiet, but she’s the one who has the collection of lifers, including one dog who has palsy leftover from having parvo as a puppy.

Louisa is an English ex-patriot who has at least one ‘foster-fail’ of her own (that’s when a foster dog is so hard to give up that you end up keeping it) and she also takes in cats – something I can’t do because I’m incredibly allergic.

And Kimberly – she’s amazing. We have a dog in foster care with another volunteer – Rocco the Rottweiler – who needs special training to correct some horrible mismanagement and help him become adoptable. She’s so committed to helping animals that she’s willing to fund time at a board-and-train kennel from her own pocket just to give him a chance. She built a kennel in her garage, she takes in puppies, and she’s a huge proponent of feeding raw foods and not overdoing vaccines. (By the way, do NOT let your vet vaccinate for lepto, the vaccine is more dangerous than the disease.)

When I get discouraged, like I did a few Christmases ago when an abused Chihuahua died while in my care, or when I look at Madison who just got back from a week trial with people who signed the contract and gave us a check for her adoption fee, only to turn around less than two days later and return her because of a minor incident that was neither dangerous nor a sign of aggression (this dog would lick you to death before she’d consider hurting you) that would have been totally solvable given just a little more time.

But Madison is safe here, and if it turns out that she’s meant to be with us forever, we’ll deal, though at this point I think my non-biological brother Ben will be taking her with him when he finally (finally) moves out in a few months.

Unless, of course, you or someone you know wants to adopt her.

Links & References:

Credits:

  • The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Tub is written and produced by Melissa A. Bartell, and is recorded and produced using the BossJock iPad app and Audacity.
  • Bathtub Mermaid album art was created by Rebecca Moran of Moran Media
  • Music used for the opening and closing is David Popper’s “Village Song” as performed by Cello Journey. This music came from the podsafe music archive at Mevio’s Music Alley, which site is now defunct.

Contact Me:

DDOP-14 Orange

Mermaid Shelfie

Description:

My hair smells like an orange creamsicle.

Transcript:

My friend Selena suggested the color orange.

There’s a song that my mother used to listen to when I was a kid… a Leonard Cohen song called Suzanne, though she only ever listened to the covers recorded by Joan Baez and Judy Collins. I never cared much for the song – it’s kind of monotonous and makes me feel like maybe you can only really appreciate it if you’re kind of stoned – but there’s a line in it, “and she feeds you tea and oranges that come all the way from China” that has always captivated me.

To this day the color orange is tied to both the fruit and the tea for me, and I really like the combination of both together.

I’ve always been really nocturnal, and when I was in high school, I loved to be the last one awake at night. I would wait until everyone else was asleep and then creep down to the kitchen and brew a pot of tea – nothing special – just whatever was around. Sometimes plain old Lipton and sometimes something else. (Nowadays I’m as picky about tea as I am about coffee, but then, I took what I could get.)

I would take the tea to the table with a cup and milk and sugar, because I did that then, and a few oranges, and I would sip tea and read books late into the night, or, if I wasn’t in the mood to read, I would fill notebooks with stories.

No, I don’t still own the notebooks. I have no idea what happened to them all.

I love the way even the blackest of black teas, once brewed, is a deep orange-amber-brown color. I love the way tangerines are almost fizzy when you bite into them and their juice bursts onto your tongue.

Oranges are my go-to fruit in winter. I use navel oranges for most things, but we also buy those easy-peel clementines – the ones that are marketed for children – even though we don’t have kids, and we eat them like candy.

I could talk more about orange… I could talk about the Golden Gate bridge and the perfect sunset and how it’s a punch of color when you include it in a bouquet or a vase of flowers, but I think I’ll stick with the fruit.

Oh, except that I’ll mention that my new hair stylist has me hooked on Kevin Murphy’s haircare lines, so now my hair smells like an orange creamsicle all the time, which makes me grin.

Links & References:

Credits:

  • The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Tub is written and produced by Melissa A. Bartell, and is recorded and produced using the BossJock iPad app and Audacity.
  • Bathtub Mermaid album art was created by Rebecca Moran of Moran Media
  • Music used for the opening and closing is David Popper’s “Village Song” as performed by Cello Journey. This music came from the podsafe music archive at Mevio’s Music Alley, which site is now defunct.

Contact Me:

DDOP-13 Teal

SJ Sharks

Description:

To me, teal is the color of ice skating.

Transcript:

My friend Fran asked me to talk about the color Teal.

Originally, I was going to combine it with turquoise, but I decided it would be cheating. Besides, teal it’s a distinctly different color.

To me, teal is the color of ice skating.

I don’t remember learning to ice skate; it’s just something my mother and I always did when I was a kid. I remember skating with her on Deal Lake in New Jersey, and on the foot-thick rippled ice of the frozen reservoir in Georgetown, when they hadn’t yet frozen over the baseball diamond.

I remember weekend trips to the ski resorts in Loveland and Vail where we would skate instead of ski – I lived in Colorado for seven years and never learned to ski – and I would complain because I was wearing itchy thermal socks over tights under my jeans and I would be sweaty and cold and skated out long before the adults were ready to go home.

I remember holding Benjamin’s hand when we skated at ice rinks in Colorado – both of us in those double-bladed skates designed for wobbly children and Donny Osmond.

And I remember, in the winter before we all wanted those sneakers with roller skate wheels attached, that my friends and I would go to the rink at the Y in Arvada Colorado twice a week after school to participate in the open skate.

I never took lessons – none of us did – but we learned to scissor our feet and use the right edges, and do simple spins and tiny jumps even without formal training. We learned to shoot the duck and race around the rink, and sometimes we even wore cute little skating skirts to do it, but mostly we just wore jeans.

After we moved to California, Mom and I stopped skating, until the year before I met Fuzzy. That was the year the Sharks moved to San Jose, and they opened their training center for open skating in order to offset costs.

Mom and I went to one of the first sessions, but the rental skates were horrible, so we went directly to the pro-shop to buy proper figure skates. I’ve never been a particular hockey fan, but the rookies have to work in the pro-shop and when a soulful Russian or Finnish hockey player is holding your foot in his huge hand and asking you, in accented English what size shoe you wear, and saying “You vill com vatch us play, yes?” How can you say no?

And yet, I never made it to a live Sharks game, even though I lived only a short walk away from the Shark Tank for several years.

In fact, the only time we ever went there was for figure skating shows – it was a tradition that I went every year with Mom. But then she moved to Baja Sur, Mexico, and I moved to Texas, where the ice shows never come.

And my skates, my beautiful white figure skates, sit unused on the shelf of my hall closet, their blades protected by rubber guards in… guess what color? Naah, I’ll just tell you: teal.

Links & References:

Credits:

  • The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Tub is written and produced by Melissa A. Bartell, and is recorded and produced using the BossJock iPad app and Audacity.
  • Bathtub Mermaid album art was created by Rebecca Moran of Moran Media
  • Music used for the opening and closing is David Popper’s “Village Song” as performed by Cello Journey. This music came from the podsafe music archive at Mevio’s Music Alley, which site is now defunct.

Contact Me:

DDOP-12 Letter to My Six-Year-Old Self

Red Bike

Description:

Written for Modern Creative Life, a letter to my six-year-old self.

Excerpt:

You ride out to Mrs. Godoy’s house some weekends with your friend Siobhan, and sometimes you spook yourself when you stay later than you’re supposed to and the shadows have descended through the trees on that one stretch of road right before the dirt transitions back to asphalt and you see the lion heads on the old hotel, and the awning of the ice cream store.

I know the shadows are scary, and we both know the Headless Horseman isn’t really following you, but it’s fun to be a little bit scared when you know it’s not real, so enjoy it.

Links & References:

Credits:

  • The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Tub is written and produced by Melissa A. Bartell, and is recorded and produced using the BossJock iPad app and Audacity.
  • Bathtub Mermaid album art was created by Rebecca Moran of Moran Media
  • Music used for the opening and closing is David Popper’s “Village Song” as performed by Cello Journey. This music came from the podsafe music archive at Mevio’s Music Alley, which site is now defunct.

Contact Me:

DDOP-11 Bring Your Own Book

ByoBook

Description:

At my birthday party, we played Bring Your Own Book

Transcript:

20 August 2016 – Bring Your Own Book

Okay, what do a cookbook, a self-help guide, a manual on writing science fiction, an RPG rulebook, the latest of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files novels, an S.M. Stirling novel, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s #Hamiltome (that’s the book about the creation of the musical Hamilton), and The Klingon Art of War have in common?

I actually hate guessing games, so I’m going to tell you: they’re the books we used for a game of Bring Your Own Book at my birthday party earlier tonight.

My actual birthday was on Wednesday. I’m older than Nuchtchas and younger than Dave Slusher and Kreg Steppe, and I’m not actually ashamed of my age, I’m just playing with you because I’ve had just enough beer to be slightly silly, and just enough coffee and cake to be hyper, and this is why we celebrated on a Saturday instead of in the middle of the week.

But anyway, Bring Your Own Book. I was part of the kickstarter for this game, which was created by DoBetter Games and published for commercial release by Gamewright. It uses the same model as Cards Against Humanity, which, of course, uses the same model as Apples to Apples – you have a bunch of prompts and you offer up your best response, and the judge chooses the one they find funniest or grossest or most appropriate, or… whatever.

The difference, which should be obvious from the title, is that instead of a second set of cards that you use for responses, in Bring Your Own Book, you literally bring your own book, and use it for the source of prompts.

Depending on the number of people, you have to win a certain number of cards, but, just to mix things up, every time someone acquires a third card, you rotate the books.

If this sounds like a lame birthday, trust me, it wasn’t. While I don’t play video games, and almost never play RPGs (except 7th Sea), I love board games and card games, and we have game nights a lot. We spent much of the spring playing the Firefly board game  – in fact, one of my friends gave me the game mat of the whole damned ‘verse for my birthday this year – and I’ve kickstarted more than I care to admit.

(I’ve also amassed quite a collection of really lovely artsy playing cards, but that’s another story.)

But anyway, Bring Your Own Book ended up being great fun, we finished the night with laughter, and I am now off to bed.

Links & References:

Credits:

  • The Bathtub Mermaid: Tales from the Tub is written and produced by Melissa A. Bartell, and is recorded and produced using the BossJock iPad app and Audacity.
  • Bathtub Mermaid album art was created by Rebecca Moran of Moran Media
  • Music used for the opening and closing is David Popper’s “Village Song” as performed by Cello Journey. This music came from the podsafe music archive at Mevio’s Music Alley, which site is now defunct.

Contact Me: