Green Frog Cafe

"Living in nature, listening to the rain, Green Frog Cafe, that's where I want to be. The hemlocks are green, the creek is tricklin, there's geese on the pond, the forest sighs. Green Frog Cafe that's where I want to be, home of my soul, spirit of the mountains." Ruminations of Rhona McMahan

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Amanda Lee Zug Moore at 214 16th Street, July 27, 2004.
Rhona McMahan

Sophie and Kiva running down the logging trail at Paddy Mountain, September 2001.
Rhona McMahan

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Sophie in the living room at 214 16th Street in July 2002.
Rhona McMahan

Sophie of the Mountains, December 24, 1989 - July 23, 2004

Sophie left me during our morning walk at Paddy Mountain last Friday.  Those walks were probably one of the greatest joys she had.  I know that this was always true for me.  We would walk through the forest along the border of Bald Eagle State Forest, with Sophie and Kiva ranging out into the forest chasing down the fascinating smells.  There must be the scent of deer, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, possum, porcupine, bear, and even the proverbial  Pennsylvania Mountain lions.  We walked along last Friday, with Sophie even taking a few running steps now and then, walking in her skewed to the side way, frail and shaky but still doing the things she did all her life.  I took my mind off her for a moment, and when I looked again she was gone.  I searched for her, I whistled the special whistle to which she always came, I called her name, I sang "I had a dog her name was "Mule," I barked for her, but still there was no sign of her.  Chelsea and I searched for hours, but still no Sophie.  I think she just went off to die by herself. 

I hate it when dogs die.  Why can't they live as long as humans so we do not have to go through these recurrent times of sadness.  When Sophie's predecessor "Sheba" died I mourned her for years.  She was a hard act for Sophie to follow, but Sophie never really followed her.  Sophie had papers as a Labrador Retriever, but she would never retrieve, and she seemed to hate to swim, although she did seem to love to wade.  On the other hand, at the most improbable moments she would jump in and swim along right beside me for a few moments, and then head back to shore so that she could wade some more. 

Sophie was rather eccentric, with a mind of her own.  Once when she ran away as a puppy in North Merrick we were writing posters to put out on telephone poles to find her.  Sara suggested that we put on the poster "loves brie," since Sophie always was a cheese loving dog. 

Sophie was with me through tough days in my life.  Days when old friends forsook me and made it a policy to unfeelingly hurt me every chance they got.  They did not care to know who I was, but preferred to attack me for not being who they wanted me to be.  This is what we know as "Christian Love."  Sophie just plodded along beside me,  paying everything no mind.

I came to feel that Sophie was sort of my familiar.  I worked hard to understand her, although she seemed to know what I was doing and thinking with no effort whatsoever.  When I was sick she lay beside me to comfort me.  If someone threatened me she stood in front of me  snarling to protect me.  She let me play with her velvet soft ears.  She endured long hot trips in the car, and she put up with less than attentive care at times.

As Sophie aged I observed her physical decline as a model of the process all mammals go through.  Dogs can teach a lot about tolerance and acceptance, about not letting things which cannot be changed bother you.

It has been strange to walk through the old dog walking haunts of the South South Slope with Kiva in these days since Sophie has been gone.  I have been so accustomed to being with "Blackie" and "Brownie" in a tandem for so long that having just Kiva makes me feel unbalanced.  I have favored Sophie over Kiva in some ways, so now he gets his day.  He certainly makes it easier to deal with Sophie's absence.

Once again I think of how my mother told me that "what you expect to happen in life never does."  I have been worried about how to get Sophie out to Paddy Mountain for burial.   Now it turns out that Sophie has spontaneously died at Paddy Mountain on her own.  I will think of her every time I go there, but burial will not be an issue at all.  Oh well. 

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Loosing My Teeth

Odd as it may seem, I have become accustomed to seeing myself as an attractive person.  Since my three front teeth on the lower jaw were pulled last Monday I have been recalibrating this image.  The dentist gave me a partial plate with two teeth on it, which looks much better when I have it in, but I cannot eat, sleep, or talk extensively with it.  It also hurts.  When I take the plate out I have this gaping hole in my mouth which enhances my image as a hag.

I asked the dentist if I could have the teeth which he pulled.  He asked "what for?"  I answered "for my medicine bag." But I ended up leaving the dentist without my teeth.  I wish I had remembered.

Losing body parts is a shock.  I think about how I used to be able to bite an apple, or a bagel, and am aware that this will never happen again in the same way.

My three teeth almost made 63 years with me.  A dentist told me in 1967, when I was 26, that I should have one of them removed since my mouth was too small.  I held on for another 36 years, but I lost three instead of one in the end.  Another example of how actions or inactions in our youth affect us in our dotage.

It is true that my smile looks better now when I have my partial plate in, as long as I just smile and do not try to talk.  And besides, little children are always fascinated to see someone take out and put in false teeth.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

A symbol of Sweden inscribed on the wall of the "gold room" in the Stockholm City Hall. Obviously a strong young woman with a dancing baby. Made me think of Amanda Lee and Red Boots.
Rhona McMahan

Saturday, July 17, 2004

My final big splurge meal. The first course (hering, salmon, new potatoes, snaps, beer, water, sweet butter with rock salt) at Solliden Restaurant in Skansen. My favorite, hering with lignonberry.
Rhona McMahan

Taking Stock Upon Return From Stockholm

It was really fun to be in Stockholm again after 43 years.  A good deal of the city map came back to me as I saw remembered landmarks again.  The Academy of Internation Business conference was a satisfying experience.  It was my first AIB Conference in 17 years.  I made some new friends and, as Amanda pointed out, "started a new network."  I was recruiting for two positions which we have open at Hofstra, so my name got around with the job hunting set.  Everything about the trip was very enjoyable.  Stockholm is as beutiful as ever.  The Swedes are as polite, well informed, friendly, and totally bi-lingual as ever.  I was surprised at the words of Swedish coming back to me, although I could never speak or read in the first place.  I started to listen to Swedish television as much as possible when I was in the hotel, to get the pace of the language and the culture.  Everything was in walking distance at the conference, with hotel and conference center within 0 to 5 minutes from the Central Station.   My panel presentation and the session I chaired went well.  I learned some things, and got some research ideas, and saw people I have known at a distance for 40 years.  Do I look as old as that.  It is a testimony to my academic obscurity that absolutely no one remembered me, except possibly people I have met in recent years.
Big changes in Stockholm were  no trams in the downtown area except 1 for travelers to the amusement island (Djuregard?? where Skansen (outdoor museum/Swedish animals zoo), Grona Lund (rides and games), National Museum, and Vasa (resurrected 17th century ship of the line).  The use articulated and electric buses instead.  The swarming hourdes of mopeds, Vespas, Lambrettas, and Motorbikes which existed in 1961 has largely disappeared.  There are more bike lanes than I remember.  Prices are really high, especially for vice items such as tobacco and alchohol.  Vegetables do not seem to be as good or plentiful, fish is really plentiful.  The salmon tastes better in Stockholm than in New York on my sampling.  There are more than five ways to serve pickled hering.
Now I have a million things to do in the remaining 6 weeks of the summer.  I want to see Amanda, as I have not seen her for at least 6 weeks.  I have to get in reports on hiriong interviews and my expense report, I need to get to Paddy Mountain, I need to allocate time for academic work,  the summer goes so fast. 

Rusty with two collaborators from the panel on "An Emerging Market Perspective on Global Strategy and Success." Picture at the Nobel Reception at Stockholm City Hall.
Rhona McMahan

Google Yourself If You Dare

Every once in a while I Google myself to reconfirm that I used to exist.  It is always a surprise to see what comes up, usually references to the more inconsequential trivia of my life.  Today I found that I was listed in a new on-line journal published by Marta Freitas of Brazil which said that I had been asked to participate.  Marta is such a transgender warrior, taking on all the nons who like to build their careers expounding on us in one way or the other. 
There was a relational crisis at Transy House while I was gone, which resulted in Sadaisha leaving after threatening to bludgeon Chelsea with a Chinese dragon candlestick.  She extorted $250 of my money from Chelsea before she would leave.  This was another case of the entire collective rising up against a person whom I found hard to deal with at times, but who was also a person who did things that I like to do too.  When Crazy Danielle was here I had a great time collaborating with her in redoing the roof and building the deck.  Her craziness bounced off me and I liked her energy, but everyone else wanted her out of here.  With Sadaisha it was the same thing.  Sadaisha needs a lot of reassurance, and she liked to be the center of attention, but she was smart and very creative with video and music editing.  I think she would still be here if I had not been away for a week.
Sadaisha had to go.  When Kristiana threatened Chelsea with a butcher knife in 1995 I let her stay another 5 years or so, and it caused no end of grief for me and everyone else.  I resolved to never again cross Chelsea like this.  The policy is now that those who threaten violence are out of here.
Actually, related to Googling myself, I cannot continue to maintain an open house for homeless trans people.  I am becoming aware of being almost 63, with an often aching body and much less physical energy than I had 10 years ago.  I am tired of the chaos and constant drama.  We are going to turn Sadaisha's room into the library, and by attrition empty out the house.  I feel disappointed that I have done very little for all the people who have passed through here in the past 10 years.  I cannot think of anyone who turned their life around from being here except for Sylvia Rivera.  No one was able or even interested in pulling themselves out of whatever marginal activity they were involved in, and most never really got into any activity in the "real" world.  So all those links on Google amount to just so many words.
Sadaisha had the best situation here that she had had since she was a young child in her birth family, yet she could not understand the sense of collaboration needed to find equilibrium in a cooperative social group.  As she was leaving she wanted to throw a bucket of black paint all over the walls and furniture of her newly redecorated room.  Maureen had to wrestle the paint out of her hands.  Sadaisha said that she would be glad to do this to me, evidently in anger at me for giving her a place to stay instead of sleeping on the subway.  Maybe she was angry that I went away on a business trip.   I'm sorry and saddened that it did not work out.
Chelsea tells me that Maureen finds me to be like Andy Warhol, surrounding myself with interesting characters for stimulation.  I wish I had some artistic talent to go along with the stimulation.  There is also the fact the one of the characters eventually shot Warhol. 

Misplaced Keys

Colin called me at 6:00AM today to wake me up to take him to the airport.  I was in a sleepy haze, but ready to go, when I realized that I did not know where my car keys were.   As usual I lost it in this disorganized hell hole as I tried to find them, as the minutes ticked away.  Finally I called Colin and told him to get a car service.  I felt so depressed to have missed the chance to talk with him on the way to JFK.  Finally, after another ten minutes of wracking my brain to remember exactly what I had done 36 hours earlier when I was in deep jet lag from just arriving from Sweden, I took the cushions off the living room sofa, and there was my crumpled up blazer with the keys.  Someone had been sitting on top of my blazer, wedging it out of sight.  I called Colin, but he had decided to drive himself.  Probably what he should have done in the first place, as the JFK long term parking lot seems more secure to me than the streets of Park Slope.  Still, the disappointment of not seeing him, and of failing, lingers.
Chelsea and Celia and I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 last night at the Pavillion.  It was extremely funny at points and extremely sad at others.  I laughed and cried throughout.  Nothing was too much of a surprise, given the list serves I read.  Images which arrested my attention were the violence of the bombs in Iraq which we drop, the charred bodies of the US contractors hanging from the bridge, the gruesome wounds suffered by children, and George Bush reading to the kindergarten during the unfolding of the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon.
Bush impressed me with his ability to relate with people one on one.  He seems warm and funny, but shallow and indecisive.  Given the failings of some of the American public, and the failings of the conservative and biased mainstream press, it looks as if it will be a tight election.
I tried to understand why Bush did nothing for so long during the 9/11 attacks.  I cannot imagine myself  just sitting there reading to the children if I were the Commander-in-Chief of a country under attack.  He may have been in shock, but he should have at least tried to get on top of the information, especially after the second plane hit.
One of my worst fears is that Colin will be drafted.  I could feel to the depths of my soul the anguish of the woman (women) whose son was killed.  I saw the same thing in my Aunt Mabel and Uncle Carl when their son, a medic, was killed in Vietnam.  They seemed to search for a reason for the sacrifice of his death, but I have the impression that they found only bitterness at the loss of their beloved son.
I hope more people start to think after seeing this picture.  CNN describes it as a left-wing polemic.  I guess it is.  Let's hope it helps people understand the violent business being done in our name before their own children are killed.

Monday, July 05, 2004

A Letter to Me in Sao Paulo, Late October 1969

Did I ever tell you
I love the way the sun glints in your hair?
And the complementary gentle fire
in your warm blue eyes?
And the hair on your arms
which stands slightly curved
like a field of wheat in a gentle breeze?
And the strong mound of your muscles
rippling under your skin?
And the sensual softness
of the feel of your skin
under my fingertips?
And the warmth
And strength
And peace
I find
in your embrace?
You might just say I love you.