Month: August 2012


RenFaire 2012-parade

What else would a family of nerds do for their splurge day? Celebrate with hundreds of other fringe folks at the renaissance fair, of course.  Yes, it’s true, I confess, I love ye olde faire.  We hope to go every year, but it’s an expensive day, so we usually get there every other year or so.  There’s something about the day of fantasy; the guys hawking huge pickles making bawdy jokes, the actors walking around, staying in character as they ad lib, and the costumes, oh the grand and glorious costumes.

First stop–always–Flower Child gets her hair braided.

Cascading Crown Braid

For this fabulous crown, we waited an hour and a half. Ludicrous, sure.  Just the type of thing where Mrs Fringe would keep a tight hold on the girl’s hand and say, “absolutely not.” But it’s RENFAIRE!!!!  It’s also a lovely way for her to ease into the day, she can sit in the shade, watching the actors–and guests– walk past in their costumes.  Because, of course, the braiding booths are just past the entrance. The women doing the braiding love Flower Child, she waits patiently and doesn’t fidget, swing her head around, or bop up and down while they’re braiding.  Part of her disorder involves excessive fatigue, so this is an excellent “activity” for her.  We only have the front half braided, whatever design she gets, and she does have beautiful hair that goes past her waist, she’s an excellent walking ad for them once we’re done.

For a large gathering of many people on often crowded pathways, with alcohol and weaponry being sold, it’s amazingly…friendly.  Kinda like Disney World, only with peasants, elves, fairies, and wenches instead of Mickey, Cinderella, and Pooh. It feels safe, inside this dusty nerdland bubble. Heavyset women are applauded, as their generous boobage is the perfect accessory to the low cut costumes; any child or adult in a wheelchair is bowed down to, gawky teenaged boys are engaged in long conversations, often involving dungeons and dragons references, about swords and catapults, hilts and scallywags.

It is a great teaching opportunity for children, any and all rides and games are powered by hand, history and mythology lessons abound. However, purists need not bother.  I had a friend who is a history buff attend with her kids one year, she was horrified.  Renaissance costumes and wares are mixed with medieval, age of exploration, and Camelot. Turkey legs and mead are sold alongside lattes and quesadillas, pewter figurines and wooden staffs next to earrings made from Swarovsky crystals and belly dancing costumes.

We don’t stroll in and forget the budget, but we don’t go unless we are ready to pay for just enough to make it a stress free, special day.  There are plenty of customers dropping hundreds, sometimes I think it must be thousands, on elaborate costumes, accessories, and general tomfoolery that when I say something is out of budget, we aren’t pressured by anyone, and are free to look at everything.

I’m not sure why I enjoy this so much, there’s no sand, no ocean, and if the day is hot it can be uncomfortably ripe.  Actually, I’ve never been a fan of historical romance for this reason, I can’t suspend disbelief enough to stop thinking about how long it’s been since the hero bathed, the heroine had the nits removed from her hair, and the stench of manure on a forbidden moonlit ride. But it’s straight fun, pretending that one day we’ll all be outfitted in pantaloons, cloaks, and feathers, hearing the serving wenches’ voices ring out as they jump up and down to maximize and flash the aforementioned boobage, “Huzzah for the generous tipp-ah!!!”


City Wildlife



Detour (Photo credit: krossbow)

My intention was to post about blogging today, the direction I started in, where I’d like to be going with this, and of course, how very thrilled and excited I still am that one of my posts was chosen for yesterday’s Freshly Pressed.

Instead, I’m off on a traditional New York rant, much the way Man Child is on a quest to hunt down, trap, and kill the cockroach he saw in our kitchen cabinet a couple of hours ago.

I know, roaches are a fact of life in NY.  I think they’re pretty much a fact of life in every city; the more humid the city gets, the more densely populated, the more roaches there are.  That doesn’t make them welcome, or even tolerated, guests in MY apartment. I’ve been pretty lucky over the past 12 years or so, very few have found their way into my kitchen.  We won’t discuss the building’s basement, or the way I can hear their little legs scritch scittering across the sidewalk when I’m walking the dogs at night.

Three or four days ago I spotted a big one in the kitchen.  You know, the really big ones people like to call water bugs, because it makes us uncomfortable to acknowledge these critters can grow to be so large.  I promptly ran to the local drugstore, bought three boxes of Combat baits for my shoe box sized apartment, and planted them throughout the kitchen cabinets, against the walls, in the bathroom, some for good measure in the bedrooms and entranceway.  Like a welcome mat, only it says get the fuck out.

This morning, to my horror, we saw another one.  I know what infested means, and I know this isn’t it.  I’ve been in apartments where the roaches are doing the hustle across the kitchen floor in broad daylight, the backstroke in the puddle left by a leaky bathtub faucet, and have an ongoing performance piece happening on the wall of a bedroom. That’s infested.  This is me having a hissy fit.


Roach (Photo credit: Are W)

A fit that sent me back to the drugstore for yet another box of Combat, a tube of gel incase any of the suckers are claustrophobic and don’t want to enter the trap to eat the bait, and got to work with Man Child and Nerd Child.  Everything is out of the cabinets, 2/3 have been cleaned with bleach and water, and half the cabinets have new traps laid with gel applied in strategic cracks and gaps.

Wonderful. Only now I’m so nauseous from breathing in bleach and poison fumes, I’m not quite sure how I’m going to get up to finish the job.  Man Child took a break and went to the store, so he’s beat, too.

Frankly, I don’t care how superior they are on the evolutionary scale, I hate roaches. Sick or not, it’s time for me to get back to my mission, and send any of these strays packing. Yuck!

Amarillo Tx - Dynamite Museum - Roaches Kitchen

Amarillo Tx – Dynamite Museum – Roaches Kitchen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OMG OMG!!! Thank you, WordPress

The Surprised Onion Man

The Surprised Onion Man (Photo credit: smithco)

This is a new blog, and I am a new blogger.  Imagine my shock when I came home this evening to find I had an explosion of hits.  First, I checked to see if something had gone awry with the spam filter. Nope.  I approved and answered the pending comments, and then followed the trail on the stats page to find Going to Hell With Gasoline Drawers On had been chosen for today’s Freshly Pressed.  Thank you WordPress, and thank you to all who took the time to follow the trail and check out Mrs Fringe.  I hope you enjoyed, and hope you’ll come back.

Missing: My Lost Love, Fiction

The Missing Piece (book)

The Missing Piece (book) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not mourning this one. I refuse.  She’ll come back, I’m sure of it.  Have you seen her? She’s a master of disguise, sometimes wearing a ragged old jacket, pages so worn they’re soft and fuzzy, sometimes a sharp and spiffy hardcover, crackling when she flashes that first page.  She has another angle I used to know well, flowing from half a thought in the shower out through my keyboard, gaining heft in pages each day.  The perfect companion, able to reflect every mood, never moaning that I don’t accept her as is, sharper and stronger when I mark her with the pencil; cutting, editing, resculpting.  The best part about her is the way she can be completely, totally yours, and still shared with countless others, solidifying the feeling that you aren’t alone, and have a place in the world.

Venetian courtesan

Venetian courtesan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bah. I’d say that’s enough purple prose, don’t you think? I was always one of those; loved to read more than anything else, would skip meals, sleep, outings, just about anything to stay immersed as long as possible in a good book.  As a kid I loved the typical girlie classics: Black Beauty, the Little House on the Prairie Series, Little Women.  The first book I remember reading is The Lonely Doll, and I read it over and over. I found it again several years ago and purchased it, intending to read it to Flower Child.  Ummm, no.  I’m more than a bit horrified by how much I loved that book, there’s something dark, maybe even salacious in those pages. I promptly read a biography of the author, Dare Wright.  The bio did much to explain the storybook, but again, I won’t be using it as a bedtime story.

The Lonely Doll

The Lonely Doll (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Flower Child is sitting next to me, on seeing this ^pic, she said, “She can be my doll.” Have I mentioned no?)

I found Ordinary People in the library when I was ten or eleven, read it, loved it, wrote a book report about it, had my parents called and I was told to do a different report on a different book.

I also discovered category romance about the same time.  An elderly neighbor (fabulously French, served fresh lemonade) of a relative who lived in California belonged to the Harlequin book club.  After visiting, she shipped me four cartons of those books.  I tore through them like a bag of chips, licking the salt off the foil at the end. Then came science fiction, fantasy, horror, and my forever love, Stephen King.

I found Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates  and felt something I couldn’t define, something profound and spiritual, but at the same time they felt so real, so rooted in the collective consciousness it was my youthful vegetarian self tearing into a raw chunk of beef.  Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Truman Capote, the list goes on. The poetry years, ee cummings, Anne Sexton, Edna St Vincent Millay….


Bookshelf (Photo credit: heipei)

Throughout the reading was the writing.  Mostly short stories, several years of angsty poetry, and later, full length manuscripts.

Broke or flush, content or heartbroken, writing or reading, fiction has been my lifelong companion. Different genres for different phases of life, different moods.  I wouldn’t say I was indiscriminate, but rather,  I’ve had broad tastes; seen value, worth, and beauty in the different styles.  So what the heck? My purse is lighter, no novel shoved in there. My end tables are neater, no texts I’m using for research toppling over. Flashes of scenes that need to be written rinse away with the shampoo. I’m singing a torch song, looking for my love. And let me tell you, my off key warble is nothing you want to hear for long. Think Edith Bunker.

Smithsonian American History Museum

Smithsonian American History Museum (Photo credit: Steve Tatum)


Going To Hell with Gasoline Drawers On

Night Fires 3

Night Fires 3 (Photo credit: Jean-Michel Reed)

In keeping with my summer of death theme, I left my building yesterday morning to find a cluster of neighbors talking.  A neighbor had died in his apartment, estimated three days earlier, and was found yesterday morning when others on his floor complained about the smell.

This was another fringe character, though not a friend.  If not for the “low” rent apartment, I’m guessing he would have been homeless.  This is purely conjecture, for all I know he had three million dollars in the bank. I don’t know his story, maybe he was a veteran, maybe he was sick, maybe he had been deserted by a cheating wife and ingrate children.  He was a hard and serious drinker, who could be spotted regularly parked in one of three neighborhood restaurants, drinking for hours until his cash ran out or the manager of the restaurant got enough complaints from other customers.

Naturally, as I walked Big Senile Dog and Little Incredibly Dumb Dog, I was thinking about all of this. Now I may not be happy here in New York, may not want to live here anymore, but I am a New Yorker.  Therefore, after tallying how many people I know who have died this summer, I had the traditional New York mourning thought.

Apartment for Rent on E 61st St, NYC

Apartment for Rent on E 61st St, NYC (Photo credit: cathleenritt)

Really, it isn’t just something made up for a Seinfeld episode.  Combing obituaries is a time honored way to find a rent controlled apartment. Much trickier than it used to be, as rent control laws have changed, but still valid.

I brought the dogs back and immediately stopped one of the workers in my building to ask him what size apartment the man had lived in. He laughed at me and told me I’m going to Hell with gasoline drawers on.  I had never heard that saying before, but it’s now my new favorite.

And if you’re wondering, no.  This didn’t turn out to be an opportunity for me and mine.  His apartment is the same size as ours.


Seinfeld (Photo credit: T Hoffarth)


the rent is too damn high

the rent is too damn high (Photo credit: CathrynDC)

The Crown Jewels

Sandy Hook, NJ

No, I’m not posting about the beach today, but I was there yesterday, so I thought I’d look at this photo while I wrote.  Crazy wild waves that this photo doesn’t capture, but beautiful.

On to the subject at hand. As mentioned, I spent several days of the past week sorting and packing my mother’s apartment.  Still a long way to go, but that is to be expected. What I didn’t expect was one spot where I was caught in memories, and was unable to pack away one thing.

When I was a girl, I loved to play with the contents of my mother’s jewelry box. There in my mother’s closet, was the ornately sculpted-to-look-like-a-miniature-armoire box, in all its pressboard glory.  Over the years, the subject of playing with our mothers’ jewelry has come up with various female friends. Maybe it’s a girl thing, maybe it’s a Brooklyn thing–though Flower Child enjoys the same.

carved jewelry box

carved jewelry box (Photo credit: Serenae)

There is and never was anything of value in that box, different colored beaded necklaces and bracelets, clip on paste rhinestone earrings (why? her ears were pierced), an old skate key (whose?). And pins, lots of pins.  For the younger generation who might be reading, women used to regularly wear pins (brooches) on their blouses and sweaters.


beads (Photo credit: moirabot)

I would ask, is this real? is this one real? My mother’s answer was always yes, though these things are all inexpensive costume pieces.

Really, my mother was not a woman who was “into” jewelry, costume or otherwise.  She had a few things she liked and wore regularly, but she didn’t hesitate to leave those pins tucked away, much like girdles, as soon as they were out of fashion. What she loved throughout her life was her collection of Lenox. Accumulated over  years, she’s got enough of those ivory colored pieces to fill two aisles in a Hallmark store.

Memories that I didn’t know I had zipped to the surface as I handled each pin.  The oddly shaped gold pin with a cluster of “pearls,” firmly attached to a black nylon blouse. A beautiful silver oval with blue, green, and black stones, stabbed through a gray sweater. An elaborately wrought gold flower in a nest of something I still can’t identify, dragging the collar of my grandmother’s green wool coat.

I went through the box on Sunday afternoon, put everything back and closed it. Sunday night after dogwalking I went back to do some more packing with Husband.  When we finished the kitchen, I went back to the jewelry box, and showed the pieces to him.  Again, I put everything away as it had been, and tucked it back into the corner of the closet.

I’m not sure why I couldn’t pack it up, why this sliver of her life has me stuck, in a way her treasured collection of Lenox knick knacks doesn’t.


Brooch (Photo credit: hannah karina)


On the Downhill Side


Downhill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week I’ve been feeling as if I’m in a winding down phase.  Summer isn’t over, but I know it will be soon enough.  This makes me very sad, as it does every year. Kinda nutty, to live for three months a year, but I do.

The budget being what it is, we haven’t really done much with the kids.  Add in time spent focused on unwell Flower Child and dying mother, and  the past 7 weeks have been lost.

I’ve begun the process of cleaning out my mother’s apartment.  It’s slow, she had an incredible amount of stuff packed into that tiny space.  Strange, because she seemed to be the opposite of a hoarder. Why did a woman who never entertained and never cooked need enough china for 50?  Also, I’m pretty sure the salt I found in the shakers belonging to that set was from 1961.


P1140885-1 (Photo credit: leechungyu)

I haven’t even begun the work of sorting through photographs.  I know that will take forever.  My parents weren’t big on pictures or photography, but still, it’s a lifetime. More than one, because I’m sure I’ll find the photos from my grandmother, and whatever my father had from his family. For all the purging she did, I never saw my mother throw a photo away.  I get it, it feels wrong to do so, the guilt of a sin.   When I first got a digital camera, the concept of the “delete” button for terrible photos took a while to sink in.  Should I do it? Maybe I’m going to need four shaky, dark photos of that door knob. Is anyone looking?  Yes, yes I can delete the fuzzy picture of the floor taken by one of the kids. Liberation of the digital age!

Can’t I just stay on the beach for the next three weeks? I know there are plenty of people around me who will. The problem is knowing that this gentle, mild-palpitation inducing slide downward will be full tilt careening within days.  Three weeks, and I haven’t finished paperwork! Two weeks, the boys still need clothes! And shoes, and everything else. One week, where did the summer go, can’t we squeeze one fantastic splurge day out of the budget?  Flower Child still hasn’t recovered from the last school year.

English: Kirnu, a steel roller coaster in Linn...

English: Kirnu, a steel roller coaster in Linnanmäki. Suomi: Kuva Kirnusta. Français : Les montagnes russes finlandaises Kirnu à Linnanmäki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t do roller coasters. Ever.  But if all goes well, I’ll be on the beach later today.


Fun with the Internet

Mrs Fringe is experiencing technical difficulties.  (Pause for long, obnoxious beep)

A friend sent something to the email connected to this acct.  I tried to get into the email, but realized I couldn’t remember the password, or where I wrote it down.  Yah, yah, terrible.  I tried changing the password, and the little auto reply said it would take 3-5 days.

Fine, I set up a new email, changed my email here on wordpress, asked my friend to resend. This morning, I find the change didn’t go through? get saved? here on wordpress, but I had received a reply about how to change the password for the first email.  Fine.

Except, following the instructions for that email puts me into a cyber loop. Go here_____, verify, verify again, click the link for an email to be sent to your recovery email. Recovery email: Go here_____, verify, verify again, click the link for an email to be sent to your recovery email. Recovery email: Go here_____, verify, verify again, click the link for an email to be sent to your recovery email. Recovery email: Go here_____, verify, verify again, click the link for an email to be sent to your recovery email.

"Bang Head here"

“Bang Head here” (Photo credit: unwiederbringlichbegangenes)



Dear Mama Fringe,

Mail box

Mail box (Photo credit: Mark Sardella)

I hate the mail. Nothing good ever comes. Well ok, sometimes there’s a nice surprise.  As email takes the place of snail mail, it’s beginning to be the same. Bills, obligations, and bad news.

Sometimes I check my email as it comes in, others, especially in the summer, I only check it once a day or so.  Last night it occurred to me I hadn’t checked it all day, so I decided to throw off any chance of a decent night’s sleep by opening the inbox.

Boring back story that would be eliminated or cleverly worked in if this was a piece of fiction: I have one connection in the writing/publishing world.  Perhaps it’s more of a connection to a connection, but still. This is a brilliant, well respected, well established writer. One evening we were chatting, and she offered to look at some of my work.  Sure there might have been a glass or two of wine involved, but it was an offer I took her up on. I know there are many unpublished writers who work every hint of a connection like a cat working over a cockroach, but I’m not one of them.  Not because of any sense of decorum, probably from fear and not wanting to ruin the original relationship in the first place.

There was a time in my life when I diligently pursued a writing career. I woke up and did some editing every morning of the previous day’s work, then wrote for at least a few hours, then spent time crafting and mailing query letters, partial submissions, etc. I belonged to a writer’s association, a critique group, and attended a few conferences. Rejection is part of writing. A big part. If you take each rejection to heart, stop now and give up. Some people find journaling is more their speed, perhaps even blogging.

I didn’t develop the courage to take myself seriously enough to take these steps until I was well into adulthood.  Some might say middle aged. I had three children and a husband when it occurred to me my dreams of being a writer were never going to happen if I didn’t DO it.  Writers write. And they submit. I was lucky. Many writers submit for years before seeing more than a form rejection–and if you aren’t familiar with the business, there are nuances to rejection (though not as many as new writers believe). There are form letters, form letters with an encouraging handwritten note  written across the bottom, personal rejections, rejections with an “invitation” to submit other work; then there is interest, requests for partial manuscripts, hopefully followed by requests for full manuscripts, hopefully followed by an acceptance.

I received encouraging handwritten notes, personal rejections, invitations to submit other work (does everyone assume every unpublished writer has 12 other manuscripts under their bed?), requests for partials, and even requests for fulls. No acceptances, but I felt like I was getting somewhere, had some encouraging exchanges with a few agents. These were in response to a stand alone romance I had written. Definitely a romance, but off the beaten path. Publishing is a business, very, very difficult to get an agent to take a chance on one of the unwashed and unpublished. Besides the romances, I also write short stories.  Not romantic at all, more gritty slice of life type things. Some might call them literary fiction, but in my head that term is linked with being a writ-aaaah. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a forty thousand year old gal from Brooklyn (and not the new, artsy Brooklyn), these are not terms I would use for myself.  I submitted a few of my shorts, but no bites. I’ve heard the odds of getting published in a respected literary magazine are smaller than the odds of winning the lottery.  I have no BFA, MFA, or known and respected literary workshops in my credits. I just write.


Typewriter (Photo credit: toastytreat87)

Cue the violins. I was continuing submissions and had begun work on a new manuscript.  Not a romance, but a full length piece that followed the style of my short stories. Husband had surgery that didn’t go as expected, rocked my world and my confidence. My parents’ voices rang in my head, how nice, you’re writing, get a union job! Then Flower Child got sick. I was devastated. The day she was released from her first PICU stay, I found a rejection letter for a full in my mailbox. How could I care? How could I have faith in myself, my writing, and the publishing world–yanno, good-writing-trumps-all, if I couldn’t have blind faith that my daughter was going to continue breathing?  I stopped submitting, and the work of writing became sporadic.

So here was this potential opportunity in front of me, and a younger, tougher me was knocking on my brain, “Remember when you used to be a person?” My friend liked and respected my work, we even had a meeting like grown ups–oh, how wonderful that felt. She passed one of my stories on to the fiction editor at a well known, high brow magazine. What if???? Friendship only goes so far, and she wouldn’t have risked her own reputation facilitating the submission if she didn’t believe the work was quality. After many months, I received a reply yesterday, seen last night.

Rejection. A nice, personal rejection that praised the writing and the story itself, but alas, she didn’t see the piece as right for the magazine.


Orange, broken typwriter

Orange, broken typwriter (Photo credit:

Sana Sana

Juvenile frog with tail

Juvenile frog with tail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sana sana culito de rana

Si no sanas hoy, sanaras manana

For those who are unfamiliar, this is a Spanish rhyme told to children when they get a bump/bruise/small cut.  Loosely translated, “heal, heal, little frog’s ass, if it doesn’t heal today, it will heal tomorrow.”

Does this make sense? I don’t know, but lots of the rhymes and songs we sing to children don’t make any sense if we take them apart (Rock a bye, baby, anyone?) It’s a silly song, intended to distract and comfort with laughter. It always worked for my kiddos, Nerd Child would ask for “sana” instead of asking for a bandaid.  When he began nursery school, that was his concern. What if I get hurt? Who’s going to do sana for me?  We confirmed together that one of the teachers knew the rhyme, and all was well.



Frog+ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lately, it seems to me if my Friday Night Madness buddy is Fatigue, then I am Inertia.  Yanno, that fabulous vaudeville act of the Upper West Side, “Fatigue and Inertia!” “Inertia and Fatigue!”


Vaudeville (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m trying.  I have things, as we all do, that I force myself to do in order to motivate myself and feel better.

I get up and work out every day.  Hell, I’ve done so many jackknives in the past several months it’s confusing to still see the middle aged broad looking back at me from the mirror.

Going to the beach makes me feel better.  I believe I must have an unnamed chemical imbalance, that makes the salt air and salty foods give me a sense of well being.  Nope, it isn’t solely the sun, my Vit D levels are fine, and lakes just don’t give me the same feeling. I try to get to the beach with Flower Child at least once a week during the summer.  It helps her feel better too, part of her disorder makes her unable to sweat or self regulate her temperature, so being able to stay wet, and the (usually) constant breeze off the water is absolute joy for her.

Other things that used to be certain ways to make myself feel centered don’t work consistently anymore, like cooking, or cleaning the bathroom (I never said I wasn’t a quirky gal).  Poor Husband.


I woke up today thinking how lovely it would be for someone to sing Sana to me; maybe then I would find my focus.

What do you do to counteract the blues?