Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why I Love Sally Hansen

God, Sally Hansen, Google, Craig, my family, my friends, my home, Puget Sound. 

That's my priority list in the order in which I'm most grateful. You wonder who Sally Hansen is? I'll tell you why she's very high on my list. 

I secretly started shaving more than my legs and arm pits… at about 20 years of age. This was after I tried hair bleach, which turned my upper lip fuzz a disturbing color of yellow. My mustache was presenting thick, dark fuzz like a pubescent boy's. Embarrassing, but not worth wearing a bag over my head for.

After I birthed children, the fuzz turned course and black. The hair on my head started turning grey, but not on my lip, unfortunately. I started dreaming of electrolysis and laser treatments. We didn't have money for such luxuries. 

My kind and generous husband graciously handed me his razor after he used it. He comforted me the first time he did by saying he was sure Christy Brinkley must have facial hair she had to deal with. 

When our girls grew older and money wasn't quite as scarce, I started pampering myself with a pedicure once every couple of months. I couldn't help but notice the posters and menus for this foreign thing called waxing. I wasn't quite sure what some of the items meant, but they made me blush. 

I got the courage to ask my pedicurist to shape my eyebrows. It felt as awkward as ordering my first  latte in a strange town. Looking back, she probably itched to get at the obvious whisker shadow on my top lip and chin while she was at it. 

Graciously, she waited till I was ready. When I found the courage to ask for an upper lip wax, she told me she had a special going that day and would do everything above my neck for a fixed rate and let me see how I liked it. She proceeded to rip my face apart with zeal and gusto. 

She defined the hairline on my forehead. A soul patch I didn't know I had was removed post haste. The inside of my nose, my unsuspecting sideburns, the moles, and the offending fuzz between my eyebrows was zipped off. I was slick and smooth as a newborn baby's bottom. The oil did not help my traumatized skin as much as she promised it would. Waxing treatments should last for 6-8 weeks. 

My hair must be fertilized by all the coffee I drink  because within 3 weeks, I needed help. I couldn't find time or didn't have the money - so I started shaving again. The fuzz turned to whiskers once more. 

If you aren't hairy, you need to know that going to the eye Doctor or the Dentist is exposing. They wear magnifying glasses and get up close enough to count blackheads on your nose. Before your appointment a shave is the last thing one does after flossing and using mouthwash. 

Occasionally, I went back to have a professional wax for weddings or special events so I could feel confident and unconcerned about the time I returned home before the shadow returned. I imagine Cinderella felt the same trauma and time constraints about her pumpkin? 

My daughter just left home. Before she went, she persuaded me to go to a beauty supply store for some waxing equipment and education. Mom, you should learn to wax on a regular basis because shaving takes its toll -- it is demoralizing for a woman. The soft fuzz supposedly diminishes with every wax, coming in thinner and thinner over time - unlike shaving which causes whiskers and 5 o'clock shadows. Ok, no more giving kisses, hugs, and whisker rubs for me. 

We agonized over the warmer, the type and brand of wax, the strips, the sticks. Nobody informed us we needed a collar for the warmer. It took a long time to figure out what it was or why we needed one. 

The first time did not work out like the directions or pictures. Strings of sticky wax dripped everywhere -- our clothes, the sink, the floor, our skin. My skin turned bright red because the temperature was too hot. The damage made my face sag anew with melted wrinkles.  

Curses upon Pinterest and YouTube. They lie. I saw an 'easy recipe' for sugaring. No mess, no fuss, no sticky wax, easy clean up. Not only did the video show how to make it, but how to deplete your hairy legs. 

Because my mom was fun when I was young, when I got to the part where you have to play with the ball of cooling sugar I remembered taffy pulling parties as a kid. Oh boy, this was fun. And familiar. I had some previous skill to put to use. I kept the hot ball of sugar going like a hot potato from one hand to the other until I could stretch it and fold it together again. 

When we pulled taffy, we buttered our hands. I couldn't use butter as it might ruin the recipe. The ball started sticking. I didn't remember it sticking to the girl's hands in the video but I couldn't replay it to see without washing my hands. I forgot to take my rings and bracelets off. Before my hands turned into boxing glove sculptures made with cement-like sugar, I turned the faucet on with my elbow and washed and washed until it dissolved. Shaving seemed like a serene experience. Who cares about whiskers? 

Then I met Sally Hansen. She makes these sticky strips on some tidy, clear plastic. You warm them in your hands, peel them apart and apply to the area you want hair free. And rip or zip as the professionals call it - against the way the hair lays. Simple and economical. They don't mention the involuntary scream that accompanies the zipping part. 

I don't know if you look in the toilet when you're done, or look at your kleenex when you're finished -- but do look at Sally Hansen's wax strip when you can breathe again. Nothing equals the pleasure or intense gratification of a patch of hairs imbedded permanently in thin wax with their follicles still quivering in shock. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


 He left home every morning
a stranger in crisp fatigues blousing 
over boots polished like glass. 
Hugs wrinkled ruin into his day’s fresh start. 
Stepping on his shine was not allowed. 
Mom’s perfunctory kiss -- necessarily chaste -- 
religiously kept 
his starched uniform in shape.
 Anything warmer might
mess him up or make him late. 

 I dreaded the interval between 
his homecoming and the symbolic 
shedding of his soiled shirt. But the saving
scent of his thin, soft undershirt 
 proved him safely familiar 
and mine once again. 

 My messy need for contact
shed my shyness faster than 
his race to bust open the brass 
buckle on his olive drab belt, 
loosen the top button on his pants,
 and lay his scuffed boots aside. 

All in one motion 
he relaxed against the couch, 
offered his arm for a step, hoisted 
me onto his shoulders and proffered
his black pocket comb. 

 I welcomed the whisker burn 
on my legs dangling tangled 
around his neck.

His hair had enough 
pomade left to stay put
 in exotic or comic styles
 I slowly groomed in, 
 and combed quickly out.

By the time rhythmic purring 
came from his sagging 
throat and heavy head --
 tyranny returned. 
I scolded him to wake up, 
to straighten his neck
so I could put the final flourish
on the glistening masterpiece. 
His black curls became 
a conduit translating love
 through hungry, 
interpretive hands. 

Friday, September 5, 2014


 When I was young,
 I heard the worn out 
overused promise like this:
 Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy 
would follow me 
all the days of my life. 
They have indeed, but at 
first they irritated me.  
Sometimes I've bumped
smack into them 
when I turn around
because they are
 following so close. 
Sometimes they look 
like scary shadows 
over my shoulder. 
Sometimes they flat-tired
 my heels and tripped me up. 
But surely, I'd be bereft without
  the triage of their consistent,
 constant company.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Enchanted by Early Readers Take Two

Find a lost boy
who teachers
say can't read
well enough to
be in regular class.
Find summer
mornings to linger
with him on the
front porch swing.
Take him bookwise
to Redwall. Let him
cringe when Cluny
the Scourge ravages
Mossflower Wood
and breaches the
Abbey wall. Watch
him shiver and look
over his shoulder
when Poisonteeth
tries his hypnotizing
tricks. Look away
when tears trickle
down his cheeks
as Abbot Mortimer
passes the baton.
Do a double take
when he starts wearing
his dad's oversized
flipflops and a fishing
knife stuffed in its scabbard -
belted to his waist -
Mathias style.
Reading is listening.
Do not tell me
this boy can't read.

P.S. If you love foreign movies, My Afternoons With Margauritte is streaming free on Netflix or maybe Amazon Prime. It is heartwarming and worth quoting and watching twice. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Enchanted by Early Readers

Elleanor carried her current
book down to the beach. 
Early readers aren't heavy
burdens to pack up or down
steep trails. On the way back
she skipped ahead to catch me
trundling and heaving 
breathless up the steep incline - 
helped by hiking sticks. 
We stopped to rest and wait
by the entrance turnstile 
near the top for her 
mother and little sister.
She perched on the 
split rails and opened her book
to the page marked by a 
folded cloth napkin.
Composed and generous --
she offered to read to me.
I offered her my tiny pocket
flashlight to illuminate words 
shaded by old growth
cedars at dusk. Half way
down the page she stopped
to enthuse about the word shoul-
der which spilled over onto
the next line. She read it twice
to make sure it was as delicious 
the second time as the first. 
This girl lives hyphenated. She
enchants and captivates me -- 
another feminine being who will 
never be squeezed into one 
sentence, one line, or one page. 

Friday, August 1, 2014


Grating nutmeg helps me
return to my senses ~
like watering my
garden ~
or soaking
in a salted bath.

Something pungent
or wet or repetitive
needs doing ~
for there is no prescribed
patch to attach to my
heart when it fails adapting
to the gagging
motionlessness of

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Letter to the Homeless in Smokey Point, Washington

I spent one evening July of 2014 shooting the ugliness around a four block long, two block wide strip around the intersection of 172 and Smokey Point Blvd. This is our town. This is our neighborhood. There are homeless addicts living in our bushes and having sex in our sacred woodland paths through the airport trail. Feces, urine, graffiti, needles, discarded clothing, filth, garbage, gloves and humans hunker down on the sidewalks with blue tarps destroying the landscaping. Panhandlers wait and beg at every corner, even corners that put them or generous souls handing them money in danger. Homeless people munch their way through Safeway and when they are full, leave with a cart to push their belongings into their favorite bushes.

Old RV's - eyesores- and one old Suburban packed to the brim to block the windows - have stayed parked in the Walmart parking lot for months on end. By the looks of it they are staying put. Easy HQ for deals? The Buzz Inn porch has a lair of extraordinary depth and stench. The occupant has been there rent free for some time it looks like.

I feel sick and full of despair. How do we clean up our neighborhood? If beauty does indeed save the world like Gregory Wolfe says, how can we transform our corner of the world, our town? Make it a lovely place to live again. I feel guilty and ashamed that I have no compassion. These are not the poor we'll always have with us. They are the addicted who are trapped by agony and lies.

I'm not writing this anonymously. Maybe some evildoer will come find me and take revenge? A couple may be hiding in my tool shed. Where there are drugs and graffiti there are gangs. And the rich lord's who prey and watch and devise strategies to let nothing get in the way of them and their money could send minions. I won't let myself be paranoid or schizophrenic.

But if they come, I hope they don't get me with my back turned, because before they do anything rash, I'll beg them to follow me out to the garden room and let me serve them tea. I want the bees and butterflies to minister to them. I want the flowers to sing to them. I want the robins to bathe unabashedly for them. And the squirrel, he's a real little beggar - maybe he will teach them how to do it with panache.

And me? I will prepare a bucket full of warm water and wash their dirty, bruised feet, and let them remember what it feels like. Maybe they'd crave it again?  Clean feet stretching under clean sheets is so nice.

I think of the old urban legend of the father who put an ad in the paper saying, Pedro, all is forgiven, please come home. Meet me here at this address - I'll gladly pick you up. When the father got to the meeting place there were hundreds of young men weeping, all hoping it was their father. We have such a one. Come home. Go home. Be home. Plant a garden of your own, my child. Or write a poem.