Welcome to the swamp! Things are really cleaned up around here. Come with me as I travel Switzerland and the Rhine on my SUP.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

King Tut, the cardinal and a transvestite walk into a bar...

King Tut, the cardinal and a transvestite walk into a bar.  It's no joke.  They might be in the cafeteria, taking a break from the Theater Basel's performance of Aida.  The transvestite is worried about her mom coming for the performance, the cardinal is playing on his nintendo game-boy while waiting in the wings and King-Tut rushes by because he has to help clean up the stage, which is really a football stadium left in shambles by the 100 or so performers who started out dressed as nice guys and gals going to the opera but then turn into a pack of wild hooligans who have to be caged in.  This production's last performance is December 28.  I'll miss working as a dresser with the likes of Stephan Widmer and Fabian Degen, but will look forward to their next incarnation in another production.  And isn't that just the nicest thing about theater?   You can be killed even entombed alive and come back to life without actually having to go through the trouble of death or birth, not to mention childhood and puberty.
Yours, shedding my skin,
Mrs Crocodile

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Sick Horses and Doubts...

I'm in bed with a sick horse next to me.  And life is rapidly changing all around me, going from one day knowing what the hell I'm doing to the next day, having no clue.  First, our dear friend Lassamp has come down with something, so when the children left the house for school, they put me in charge of her to take care of and give her medicine, so I crawled back into bed with the horse, since it said on my list (see my post from yesterday) that drinking coffee in bed while slowly waking up was feel-good.  It didn't say drinking coffee in bed with a sick horse was feel-good however, so I'm questioning the list and the symbolism of lying in bed with a sick horse has got my mind racing.  What does it all mean?  The horse is not dead and I'm not beating it, but you can't really say it was alive ever either since she's only a little white stuffed horse, so does that mean she's dead anyway?  Oh well.  There are too many uncertainties and it's better just to pretend to give the stuffed horse her medicine, get up, go to work and hope that she gets better soon and we won't really have to take her to the vet.

Speaking of doubts and uncertainties, you can watch this space for updates on   Upstart Entertainment's Spring production of Doubt by John Patrick Shanley.  I'm working with director Andy Tobler as the costume designer.  And the following quote particularly hit me while I was reading the play again, next to Lassamp: "I have been longing for the return of my peace of mind. "  It is spoken by Sister James, a young nun, who incidentally is a warm teacher and full of educational bravado as only a young teacher can be, about her teaching style, but also something else.  I think I was like that once, but not anymore, since the doubts crept in and made me ask if I should really be teaching anymore at all.  And now I've said it, what I've been trying to put into words for the better part of a year now.  The cat's out of the bag and the horse is still sick.  Stay with me readers and watch how the blog unfolds to reveal the real Mrs Crocodile.

Yours, doctoring sick and recently released animals,
Mrs Crocodile

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Making a list, checking it twice...

Two of my readers complained that this blog had changed from its beginnings.  They wanted to read more of my philosophical ramblings, or so they said, and they wanted to pin me down for a sure-fire direction that the blog should take, I think it's called a niche.  So I respond two ways: numero uno is, if I feel trapped, I'm going to run, and two, although I like the sound of the word niche, the definition is rather constraining and claustrophobic and makes me feel a bit helpless, such as an animal which has fallen into a pit, that is, when I really think about it.

Ah...now that's settled I can get on with the business of life and writing blogs.  This week my son dressed up as Santa Claus for St Nicholas Day and went to a friend's house to really play Santa and bring that family some presents.  It was completely his idea which involved me sewing a red coat with this awful fake fur that made such a mess when I cut it up I felt that my room had turned into a construction site.  I would put a picture up but I think he might kill me if he caught wind of it, so you're just going to have to imagine the cutest and skinniest Santa in the world with a burlap bag over his shoulder, walking off down the street, making every single person he crosses, smile a really big, broad smile.  He even rehearsed his Santa voice in the kitchen before he left, but I should mention, he refused to let me and his sister stuff a pillow in his pants.

There is just something about this time of year and lists that go together.  Maybe it's because everyone is so stressed, they have no time to write longer utterances so they have to reduce their writings to New Year's Resolutions and wish lists, but here is a another idea from my very dear friend of koo-ki fame.  She said she was writing a list of what makes her feel good.  It sounds incredibly simple and you know what?  It's really nice, one of the things was eating cookies and drinking milk.  So I ate cookies, drank milk and felt good.  Where is this going?  Well, I'm pretending to do some philosophical rambling as my readers wanted, but really, I'm encouraging you to rather than writing a list to Santa, be Santa yourself, since even a 9 year old will tell you, playing Santa is really fun and makes you feel good.
Yours, still thinking about the pillow
Mrs Crocodile

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Blogging it off

Blogging, like sewing and cutting things up into little pieces is good for my soul.  I read blogs that my friends write and blogs that they read, too.  It's a great way of keeping up with each other as long as when you actually meet in person you can still talk about something you haven't written about already and you keep saying to each other: "Oh yeah, I read about that on your blog".   This won't happen with Lady Mac Beth.  Her blog is a lovely new find! Bitter Sweet and Salty she's also an American in Basel.  She's really blogging it off and using it for her soul.  Bitter Sweet and Salty is so good I find myself clicking back more than I want to admit to check if she's posted again.  Well it's just yummy, like chewing on the fat, then funny and tasty, and serious and then funny again and about life in Switzerland and just life in situations.  I hope you enjoy it, too.
Chomp, chomp, swallow, gulp!
Mrs Crocodile

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ode to Boyfriend Jeans and Tailors

Boyfriend jeans:  no-woman is going to ask you if her butt looks big in them, because it does.  For one post I would like to sing the praises of boyfriend jeans:
Oh last season's style, a garment that never needed to walk down the catwalk and into the street because it was already on the streets and in our homes.   As long as you had a boyfriend and your boyfriend was a bit bigger than you, his jeans fit you, as long as you didn't mind not looking in the mirror, the jeans fit you.  Oh guys, you have it so easy, for if you take off your tuxedo hose and have nothing to wear, you can always wear your jeans.  However, if you are in a no-male-involved-same-sex-marriage and you have to resort to borrowing or stealing the jeans from masculine acquaintances, I feel for you.  Oh, but we all know how exciting it is to shop in the opposite sex's department of the best thrift shops and the worst department stores.  I know the clothes don't fit, but it's fun dressing up in another person's clothes.  Or try this:  walk up to a man on the street and ask him to take off his jeans for you.  Let me know how it goes.
Well, enough of that, I look around and see so many jeans, so many colors, so many cuts and I remember a time, not too long ago, when breaking in a new pair of jeans was more time consuming than making lasagna from scratch with the noodles you had to cook first.  I remember Levi's 501's shrink to fit, it was a gamble if they would actually fit after you washed and dried them as much as your mother would let you and they were so new and so blue you still didn't want to wear them out of the house. An urban myth from the seventies tells of people actually burying their jeans in the earth for a month because it was the best way of breaking them in.  A person who inherited a pair from an older friend was a lucky dog.  Then there was this interlude of designer jeans when we were in elementary school; they were way too tight to breathe in and firefighters were tired of cutting people out of them, so I guess that's when designers started working on stretch denim.  In the middle of the eighties it was "the 501's Strikes Back", probably since they had lasted so long and they walked back out of closets like the clones.   But for me the best part is that today, Levi's will take a picture of your rear and customize your jeans for you based on their research and photographs of 60,000 female behinds.  Sorry guys.  I know it's a far cry from the same company that started making jeans from tent fabric, but they reckon that a woman on average tries on 10 pairs of jeans before she finds the one pair that fits.  What they don't say, but we know, is that if you are like most of the 60,000 women photographed, you most likely find that your rear changes after a year or so, due to gravity, Thanksgiving dinner or a sit down job and the customized jeans don't fit anymore.  Which brings me to mention this quote by George Bernard Shaw: "The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew every time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them."  Actually I've been just chomping at the bit to use that quote for a while.  So my advice?  Can't get an appointment with your tailor?  Stay in the boyfriend jeans, you'll be able to sit at the computer longer and read more blogs.

Yours, with tuxedo pants on,

Mrs Crocodile

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Playing Island

Patti docked in the shallow water.
My kids don't play house, they play island.  I'm not exactly sure how this came about, but it seems an important game.  If you want to play it at your house, here's how it goes.  Take a few but very important items: towels, a trash can, storage baskets, bowls, which you will then miss if they are not in their usual place.  Then in the middle of a room, usually in the middle of a main passageway, like at the entrance to the flat, in the hallway, or in the middle of the kitchen, put a towel or basket on the floor to mark the island.  Then take some dolls and set up a home for the dolls on the towel.  For some reason, there is always a toilet on the island and some beds, but the toilet has been an important part of this game for already two years.  I know this because my kids used the trash can from the bathroom, so it was missing for the better part of two years and no-one was allowed to use it to actually throw trash into.  Only dolls and stuffed animals were allowed to poop in it.  After the set up, which typically takes several days but could take up to a week, you can start to play, so at night before you go to bed, you put the dolls and stuffed animals in their island beds, in the morning you wake them up again and get them dressed.  Shoes and slippers become boats and the dolls or stuffed animals sail to other parts of the house.  Shoes with shoe laces are particularly good as boats because they can be tied to other items of furniture so that they won't float away.  Each rug has a different depth, so that sometimes characters can get out and swim or actually touch the ground of the water.  Some of them can't swim and the swimming lessons begin.  There is a lot of feeding and cleaning going on on the island, which makes me think it's really a version of playing house.  So now you know how it goes.  I'm so glad my kids are so creative and don't play house the normal way.  Either it has something to do with how I play house, or don't.  On the subject of playing house, with one my English classes we are reading "Revolutionary Road", Richard Yates's critique of fifties America which has been recently made into to movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.  The wonderfully truthful and therefore mad character of John Givings, puts it into words for me:  "You want to play house, you got to have a job.  You want to play very nice house, very sweet house, then you got to have a job you don't like.  Great."  So like I said, I like that my kids play island.
Aloha for now,
Mrs Crocodile 

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Warning: Contents of my life may be exhausting

Here is the fine print:  Why is it that raising healthy children, gently insisting that they eat enough vegetables, do their homework, then taking them to some activity outside of school which is good for them therefore fueling a certain passion for life, working as an appreciated and energetic teacher, writing, I hope, a sometimes inspiring blog, helping English speaking theater in Basel out with their costumes and loving it, working in the evenings as a dresser at the Theater Basel and loving it, sticking the very interesting and informative fish stickers in the Migros underwater sticker book in the right places with the kids and reading what they are in German, and saying "Oh, it's an elephant fish, I didn't know that", trying to find ways to cook as fast as possible, but still feel like I've eaten something more nourishing than just melted cheese on toast, fixing jeans with holes in them, trying to find the hours in which to sleep as much as possible, keeping a nice boyfriend, carving out time alone, having the song "Cry Baby" by Janice Joplin stuck in my head, letting peace reign between two ex's, organizing who can take the kids in the evenings, doing my homework from drawing class which makes me feel good when I see my progress, looking forward to dumping all my cares and woes on a therapist, canceling appointments when there is Terminkollision, keeping up with the e-mail in-box, oh and cleaning the house, thanking my lucky stars that's it's not a bigger house, making sure three people have clean clothes to wear every day, making sure we don't look poor and trodden down, making sure I don't feel poor and trodden down, trying to write in a diary to keep it all straight and trying not to become an alcoholic which would otherwise wash it all down quite nicely, be cheaper than some drugs, but still on the expensive unhealthy side, so instead styling my hair for ten minutes and trying to find an appointment with a good friend for coffee in between her busy life and mine...why, I ask, is this so incredibly exhausting?

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Thursday, November 4, 2010


I have been told I should read "the Artist's Way", by not one, not two but three people, who incidentally, don't know each other.  You don't have to hit me over the head.  I got it now.  Either this is a really good book or I really need it.  I can't tell you as yet, because when I ordered the book in a well-known, very large book shop in downtown Basel, they said the English version could take a few weeks to get delivered.  Now they sent me a notice that said the English version is un-deliverable at the moment.  I don't know how long a moment is in the Swiss German speaking world, so I am left to speculation about what the book is actually about:  I have an inkling that this book covers the spiritual side of the flowing energies of creativity, helps us to tap into them and thank the powers that be as we shed our fears of being creative and as life would have it, lessons are learned only when we are ready, but we could tweak them a bit.  I got that from skimming the German version, but it could be totally off.
So today, my point: a lesson is actually much easier to learn when I have already internalized it, in fact when I have already actually learned it.  And then I just need some time, a person's wise words or a book's gentle way of opening a world to me, it makes no difference if it is fiction, non-fiction or science-fiction.  Because actually we know our lessons.  Sometimes of course one does need to be hit over the head and jump into the pool of fears.
Yours, with life-vest on,
Mrs Crocodile.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Aslan, my new favorite hero

Aslan is a very special kind of lion. This is the kind of stuff he goes on about in his regal way: "Do not dare not to dare. Touch me. Smell me. Here are my paws, here is my tail, these are my whiskers. I am a true Beast." This is taken from The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis.
Okay, you think I've been away from the blog-o-sphere for so long and now I come out with this: a child's book?  Well, one of the perks of motherhood (since they need to be counted and recounted again and again, least the actual work of it all overshadows the perks) is that you get to read all those stories you loved as a child over again and really get into them this time because you kind of understand what they are going on about.  Many discussions are spent mulling over the ins and outs of the plots and characters with my children to an extent that I find really very satisfying.  I have even been known to read farther into my son's book because I couldn't put it down after he fell asleep.  But my point is completely elsewhere.  It is with what Aslan said: "Do not dare not to dare".  The last bit of that quote I also love: "I am a true Beast".  It seems, although this explanation would be daring in its simplicity, that one has to be a Beast (with a capital B) to dare to dare.  Since Aslan is about the closest thing they have to a god in Narnia, you are just going to have to take his word for it.  And this week I take as my mantra: "Do not dare not to dare".  It's a good change from the usual: "I move forward with confidence and ease from Louise Hay.  "Do not dare not to dare",  which always makes me take a deep breath in, since the sentence when said outloud is somewhat forboding, I'm looking forward to the adventure it brings...
Yours, daring and true Beast
Mrs Crocodile

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

The next most exciting thing...

Photo courtesy of Upstart Entertainment, by Sascha
It's been an exciting year costume-wise, not to mention the other activities which have made it so I have not sat down for two months.  If you don't know what those are, just use your imagination.  So on the subject of sitting and the subject of making costumes, the next most exciting thing I did this year  after dressing the girls in the chandelier costumes was to make underwear for a singer/actress in the Café Brel show with "I heart NY" on the bum.  So when Mariann Böhler lifts up her skirt while she's singing the Bourgeouis with Nina Meier-Bradlin and Lena Tamini, she gets a laugh from the audience.  Oh!  did I forget to mention the words to the song are pretty good, too. 
Directed by Krista Jacquet and also starring Dany Demuth, Andrew Fernandes and Norman Koeth, they are accompanied by Christine Archer on the piano as they sing their way through the fantastic compositions of Brel, serve you drinks and basically make you feel like it was well worth getting off your seat and out of the house and into the theater again.  So it's too bad that the show is only happening for two more nights, and most likely already sold out.  No, actually it's wonderful that so many people can see my creations and are ready for a real night out but keep tabs on the upstart entertainment site http://www.upstart-entertainment.ch/.
They are good.
Yours with I love NY underwear on,
Mrs Crocodile

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The mating habits of the Abalone

I am not a scientist, unless they do a lot with scissors, then I have missed my calling. But this is the background to the continuation of the story I started sometime earlier about the boxes and it fits into this animal's mating habits.  When I was a child, my parents came home with lots of abalone, and after beating them with a mallet that's only other use must be for beating dead horses, and since these poor crustaceans are almost extinct, I feel responsible.  So don't eat abalone.  The poor things, the male abalone sits on a reef and spews out his stuff in hopes that a female of mating age and fertility may be somewhere in the vicinity.  Tough luck if she's just out of spewing reach.  And I really think writing in those little boxes on Facebook or sending a tweet is something similar: you spew it out over the reef and you hope a female might be waiting.  If you go to Facebook now, you'll see that the story is taking shape in my little boxes there.  It's wildly fun to think of one sentence a day, maybe by the time I'm 60 it will be a book!  But what I'm also sure was wildly fun was my brother taking this picture of an abalone off of Catalina Island.  Can you see it?  They also marvelously blend into their surroundings so you almost don't notice them, except for the feelers wiggling around.
Thanks for this picture, brother!  Don't eat it!
Mrs Crocodile

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

The shoe does fit, but you can't wear it out the house...

Here's another collage for you. Please don't ask me when I have time to make collages, I force my kids to make them. The real story is this: I wanted to get some work done in the office and had the kids with me, so in order to work un-interrupted on the computer for a few moments, I opened my file with all the really good cut outs I was saving for myself and gave them very reluctantly, with some glue, to the kids. They came up with this one.

I like the extremely high heel, could you really even walk out the door in that? Or stand at all? And then on top of the pedestal? Never mind, who needs to leave the house with that reverse snowman chubby tummy look. "Is it about to melt?" I asked. Moving on up from there, it's the mouth which is a woman's mouth but decorated with a moustach on it. And instead of hair, she (or is it a he?) has an enormous eye-lash. I wondered if the whole scalp could bat an eyelash.

I wish I could fit all of life onto this wall and all my musings and cuttings up but I daresay, I censor myself too much, but also there's a whole lot of TMI around here. The nice thing about this collage is although it looks quite precarious, it is not really about to fall. And I daresay that is sometimes the nice thing about life, too. Even wearing flat shoes, you can walk on the edge, but don't fall.

Mrs Crocodile

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The shoe does not fit: and other stories: moving...

The sunset from the new place
My most devoted blog readers are composed of my mom, her friend, my grandmother, one friend who lives in Qatar and the mystery follower, who happens to be following my blog from India, so this post is for you devotees.  Anyone I forgot to mention, feel free to carry on reading.  Actually, I started this whole blogging thing to understand what a blog is, and in the name of it's-great-to-have-a-place-to-express-yourself and more because, if I need to have an online presence, I find that little box on facebook where it says: "What's on your mind?", just exceedingly small.  I have also tried tweets on twitter.  In the beginning I thought, "Great!" It's not friends like facebook, it's followers!  I'll be famous!  But I got to the point where my only followers were my mom and my ex-husband (feel free to laugh out loud here, because I was feeling really famous).  So naturally slightly taken aback, my creative juices were stumped.  I posted a couple of exceedingly short utterances in a box on twitter, and I was done.
But I'm not giving up.  Today I posted a sentence in my little box on facebook which is totally taken out of context.  I intend to think outside the box and use many boxes to make a story. Maybe you'll be my follower and make me feel famous, but it's not that really.  It's about moving.  Most of my worldly possessions are packed in boxes now and waiting to be opened in a newly revised country, a new place.  My box!
Yours, from the packing front,
Mrs Crocodile

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cuba in Basel: EG Lounge

Ella and Uncle Thierry
I like the kind of destination that transports me to another place without really leaving where I am and without doing too many drugs... So when the kids took me to their uncle's bar, suddenly I felt like we were in a lovely little hacienda, enjoying a break in the beach life in a Latin American country.  It's really all down to Thierry Dunkel and Philippe Kiefer's hospitality and the need to feel like the summer really is not ending, but the EG Lounge, a souped up courtyard between Parterre and the Reithalle is wall to wall sand, has lovely lounge chairs and the bartenders will serve you up some mean drinks, so that, buzz-wise you can convince yourself you are on the other side of the Rio Grande.  Take your shoes off and don't forget to bring some sand toys.  Obviously, it opens so late that it's not really for kids, but they might get jealous if they find out you've been there without them.  There is a rain cover and heating so never mind that you have to wear a winter coat to get there.  Check it out, here's the link:http://www.parterre.net/?navid=Z776NG
Or just go to the Kaserne in Kleinbasel and ask around.  They open in the evenings.
Mrs Crocodile

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Alexanderfest at the Augusta Raurica

The most exciting thing I'm doing right now is working backstage as a dresser at the Alexanderfest at the Augusta Raurica, the Roman theater in Augst.  The production is being put on by the Theater Basel and is billed as a mix of Opera and Oratorium by Handel.  If you remember to take a blanket and a thermos flask and pray for no rain, you'll stay warm enough till you can go back home with stars in your eyes and the warm feeling of having participated in something wonderful.  But in the back is where I'd really rather be.  These two extras: Bettina Kestenholz and Noelle Blind have the hard but exhilarating job of being cinched into a corset, then stepping into a ten-kilo skirt (that's a 22-pounder to you) which is made of plastic crystals and ribbing.  This costume is nothing less than brilliant and in fact the highlight is when they flick on a switch and the skirts light up.  It's something between Christmas tree and chandelier, but it's really one of those take-your-breath-away moments when fantasy becomes reality.  This time, I assure you folks, the reality is better than the fantasy.  Okay, okay, it's on the stage, so who knows if it's really reality?  So if you can't make it to see it in the flesh, visualize the designs by erte which were too heavy ever to be built, or the elaborate costume drawings Dali made, add a whole team of very skilled seamstresses and tailors, the best of what Basel has to offer and BANG!  The light comes on!  You're wearing it!  The designer of this creation is the costume designer Marie-Thérèse Jossen.
Oh! I almost forgot!  It is of course all about the music so when you go you'll bask in the best voices of Basel and be treated to wonderful special effects, but for me these extras should get all the glory, the team of skilled seamstresses behind them and of course the lighting people who have to check the chargers every night.
So to see this skirt in all of its crystal glory, and to experience the cast of about 70 in the open air, get tickets on the Theater Basel web-page: http://www.theater-basel.ch/
There you'll also be able to read all about the story and the people behind this production.  I like the web-cam, too, where you can see what's going on there right now: http://camserver.z-online.ch/showpics_01.asp?KundenID=&S=1&OwnPic=1&cam=a11r
Mrs Crocodile

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Somewhere in the middle, feeling as big as a soufflé

My 'horror'-scope said I should do something creative today.  Oh shreck!  As if everything I had done up till reading those words had been un-creative.  And to be fair, the cutting up of life is a little like un-doing something.  Well, here is a collage that should set the mood:  Her body is a soufflé.  She's feeling just a tad bloated and could fall at any moment.  Her arms are big fluffy purple fur for pushing people out of the way.  She put on two different pairs of shoes before she left the house.  Her legs are sweet, just some wrappers from chocolates.  Her hat is a chandelier.  So here you have it: some days are just like this: You wake up, find yourself bloated, two different shoes on and a chandelier on your head with sweet legs you don't know are going to hold you up.  Oh!  I almost forgot!  You're walking up stairs ten times your size.
My dear readers, don't worry, the weather is awful, but the day is not so bad, I'm just pondering the un-creation of things, so I can un-do things and re-do them.  
"It's a step backwards, " you say.  No, actually, it's forwards but it's a little like the song with the king's soldiers, when you're up, you're up and when you're down, you're down and when you're only half-way up, you're neither up nor down. I leave you with that today and now I must excuse myself because I'm off to (un)create something else.
Yours, with two different shoes on,
Mrs Crocodile

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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Guest blogger Christine Gerber-Rutt chops up the pages on Mrs Crocodile...

Here is a guest blogger on Mrs Crocodile for your reading pleasure: Christine Gerber-Rutt. American and Swiss, she now lives in Qatar.  I love how she chose to write about this chopped up Middle Eastern dish.  Enjoy!

Given the choice between being in a kitchen or being, well, anywhere else, I’d choose the kitchen. All the important stuff happens in the kitchen: birthday cakes are baked, wine bottles opened, kisses stolen from the cook. That’s why I like being the cook. Most days.

Then we moved to the Middle East. All the cheesy food I’d learned to make in Switzerland is totally not happening here. Eating melted cheese in the desert is like eating mega-sized Slushies in Iceland. It happens, but wouldn’t you rather eat tabbouleh?

Tabbouleh, even that isn’t what I always thought it was. I’ve tried making tabbouleh in the States and even in Switzerland, which seemed totally out of place since it lacks any dairy products whatsoever, but give me a pat on the back, I tried anyway. Turns out the main ingredient is parsley. In my mind parsley will always be plate decoration. I’m certain that any scientific study would unequivocally support the fact that in the States parsley is most often used to encourage burger and fry eaters to feel better about their choices. I don’t like parsley; don’t like burger and fries for that matter, unless the fries have that slightly dry, slightly smoked taste with almost no salt and a side of catsup, only Heinz will do. What can I say, I’m a catsup snob.

When I made tabbouleh, I searched out recipes that had more bulgar than parsley. While bulgar isn’t on my top ten list of favorite foods, it does have a demeanor of health and is hands down better than parsley. Hop back to the Middle East and here you have it, tubs of tabbouleh. And it’s green. Why? Because it’s made the way the Lebanese intended it to be - with loads and loads of parsley and just a touch of mint. Even the local (French) grocery store gets it right. Turns out if you get it right, parsley has a pleasing crunch to it with a little bit of grind. Addicting. And there’s no need for me to cook it up in my kitchen. That’s okay I’m content to stand there opening plastic containers filled with store-bought tabbouleh and receive stolen kisses.

Even if you don’t like tabbouleh or parsley or bulghar, check out the dance video by GoRemy.  Taste that parsley and shake your bum bum. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FaNzrtu0KM

Step right up; cut it up and mix it up.
Chief Cook

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Cutting up the Day...

Last time I said that quilts were made when big events happened in life.  I forgot to add an important bit of that post..I'll tell you what it was, but before I do I should tell you that I really wanted to tell you a week ago and it annoyed me to no end that for several days, I was out of range of a computer, in a tent, in the mountains, the phone battery even died--and I couldn't tell you!  No, really.  Being so remote was great.  Being really "cut off" and finding myself walking in the postcard beauty of the King's Canyon National Park.  I broke down.  I needed to call home.  I used a pay phone!  I know it sounds crazy but some kids walked by, they pointed at me and I heard them say as I battled with the door to close and searched for three numbers all at least 20 digits long: "Hey!  I've seen those, they are really rare, d'you think it works?"  I think they were teenagers at least because they were carrying coffee cups.  Amazingly, even in a place with no mobile access, they had coffee from a large American company which I'm sure you know the name of.

So my wonderful idea I've been carrying around in my very own head is this:  forget the whole sewing it back together stuff, just think, we can cut stuff up at any moment and it never has to be made into anything.  You can cut up an argument.  You can cut it up on the dance floor.  Or you can just cut peices out of the day and hang them on your wall, even if the wall is the inside of your eyeball.  So here's me cutting up my day, and the image I've wanted to give you for a week: a blue nylon swatch from the tent at Carpinteria State Beach, a tie-died cotton bit of a little girl's dress, a square foot of sail cloth from the boat my brother sailed,  a page ripped out of a journal with slanted backwards writing and so deeply imprinted it is almost embossed,  a bit of that cream colored neck brace of my mom's, a silver plastic spoon (I really like that they make plastic spoons that look silver), a pocket from the back of my jeans, a square of sweatshirt that says "shark" on it, a bit of wonderfully hard dry ground and a huge gulp of foggy sea air.  You can use your own imagination and emotion to sew it all up for me.   That was one of my days last week.  What's your day like?
yours, with scissors (which are the allowed length to be taken on an airplane)
Mrs Crocodile

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Wetsuit Quilt

It occurs to me that people start chopping up fabric to be sewn into quilts predominantly when a) you die, or b) you are born or even (heaven forbode!) c) you get married.  In the you die case, the quilt is stitched together out of your old cherished clothes and you live on in some sense.  In the second case, babies don't seem to mind that the fabric has been cut up, they have enough in their lives to be getting on with--such as the being born and meeting the parents issues--so whether the quilt is quilted or tied, made form great grandmas soft lacy nighties that she never wears--baby doesn't seem to mind.  In the you-get-married scenario, well, it's probably just a quilt of wills:  who has made the quilt to grace your marital bed?  Is it a mother?  Mother-in-law?  Sister?  Sister-in-law?  If my dad had made the quilt it would have been made of neoprene.  And there you have it:  that is the best quilt idea I've had: the wetsuit quilt.  I have cut up just about everything I could take scissors to, except of course items that were still of value to people I wanted to remain in contact with.  But what an idea!  I wonder if my brother has a few old wetsuits around I could start cutting up...
Love from the road,
Mrs Crocodile
P.S.  You could even sew the quilt together with duct-tape.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Cheating in Home Economics

The only time I have ever contributed to wide-spread cheating in school was in home economics in Junior High School.  You may ask, how is it possible to cheat in a cooking and sewing class?  I had learned some sewing already in the fifth grade.  My mom taught me, even though she curses like you wouldn't believe as she gets up from the machine and heads for the seam ripper, she still knows how to do it, which says a lot for motherhood.  Me learning sewing was helpful because we were running a bed and breakfast inn and had to put up curtains for four new rooms.  I learned to sew a straight line, my mom and her partner learned how to line up wall paper.  We never really learned how to walk a straight line, but we crossed all the i's and dotted all the t's.  This is actually a picture of the first thing I ever made with a sewing machine:  I was nine and did it while my mom wasn't looking.  Then I was off and they couldn't stop me. 

So later when I started home economics all the kids in the class were lost with their pillows to complete in an amazingly tight time frame of about 8 weeks and when the teacher wasn't looking I jumped in and helped sew almost all of the 15-20 pillows.  Sadly I have forgotten the teacher's name, but the impulse to get behind the machine was stronger than I was.  I could not stop myself when I saw a fellow pupil and pillow in need.  Do you know how hard it is to do someone else's project, you have to physically move yourself to their sewing machine and jump back when the teacher comes back in the room.  It was exhilarating.  It was my fifteen minutes of fame.  Most of those kids still remember how my nimble fingers saved their grades.   Two of them became such good friends that they later saved me from the various pitfalls of being a teen.  Even today, when I walk down State Street in Santa Barbara and happen to bump into one of my classmates from SB Junior High, the first question is always, "Do you still know how to sew?"  Not as I would expect, "Wow!  How exciting!  Where do you live in Europe?" But never mind, I guess more people live in Europe than know how to sew.

Yours jumping out from behind sewing machines,
Mrs Crocodile

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Things that bring her joy

"Joy, Love, Peace", to which I say "Wonderful.  I want some.  Where do I sign up?"  Here is a lovely link to my friend and chief cook of the koo-ki 'zine, this means she writes it.  http://justkooki.blogspot.com/2010/05/things-that-bring-me-joy.html She's a cool lady and I think you should just bookmark her page or follow her blog or whatever you do when you want to return to someplace you were that you liked.  And I would like to comment on the things that bring joy, but I think you know what they are so I'll leave you with this collage today that seems to bring her hers.  Maybe it will bring her even more joy and then we'll all be skipping around singing "tra-la-la" or even at times lyrically dozing in the blog-o-sphere joyfully writing joy-filled blogs.

This time not just yours but wishing you and yours Joy, Peace and Love,
Mrs Crocodile

Friday, June 18, 2010

Why Mrs Crocodile?

At a reception, a glass of wine in my hand. Words exchanged and then the inevitable: "Oh, you're Mrs Crocodile!" Then curiosity is sparked: "But why Mrs Crocodile?" To which I always want to say, "Well, you remembered the name" smile and show my teeth.

Actually, fresh off the Rhine taxi in Switzerland, before I could speak German I obviously had to resort to other more crude forms of communicating like speaking English and with hand gestures and an annoyingly cheerful American smile, which doesn't always go down too well around here. Mostly because people are thinking, "What is this woman so damn happy about?" I like to tell them that I eat children in the nicest possible way. But this too, is hard to wash down for most people.

The real un-adulterated and not the answer you want to hear is this: There were some neighbor kids that came to my house and not being able to communicate with them, I pulled out a book with nice pictures and a very easy repetitive story and read it out loud to them. Then we played the Crocodile game and ran all around yelling, "Can't catch me!" It wasn't long before the neighbors started calling me Mrs Crocodile and the name stuck. Don't worry, I let the kids go home to their parents.

Today, even though I miss running around with 3-5-year-old kids and trying to teach them some English, I kept it, because everybody started calling me that, but I'm thinking of changing it.  But now that I think about it, it just works for the Mrs Crocodile Blog: chomping bits of life up and putting them back together.  I just haven't had another name stick for a while, now.  But I like to sing while I'm running away: "Can't catch me!"
Mrs Crocodile

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Getting in touch with old friends

I opened a suitcase and out popped an old friend. Actually the brown-leather suitcase was crammed full of them. Imagine the smile that creases your lips when the recognition of long lost friend's name suddenly pops out at you from your in-box or face-book. Yeah. Pause a moment there to recollect. Breathe. Let the memory flow back. That feeling of hey! I haven't heard from her in ages! I wonder what she's up to. Then acting on the feeling. Answering the e-mail and accepting the friend request. How nice. Then you get your first e-mail back, she's divorced and as slim as ever, or still married and gained 40 pounds. Who cares? Her picture looks great and suddenly this overwhelming urge comes to find out how the hell she's been these past 5, 10, fill in the blank years. The phone call. No reservations! Just do it. Now is the time. Summer is here, get in contact with that old friend. Contact me! Just because. And I just took out my old friends the summer clothes. So summer can come! For one day I'm not cutting up anything...
Yours, from here,
Mrs Crocodile
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ripping up the pages of life and hiring a secretary

A wise man once said, or was it last week:  You need to focus on one thing.  If you have ten projects and ten hours, you can only devote one hour to each project, if you have one project and ten hours, you do the math.
I looked at my to do list.  I couldn't cross anything off.  I gave up trying.  I hired a secretary.  Yes!  Mrs Crocodile is now the proud employer of a secretary!  You may ask yourself, how is it that this sole-proprietorship can afford to have a secretary?  I mean doesn't she work by herself?  Well, I like to think of it as a "soul"-proprietorship.  Actually I hired myself.
I am still in control of my senses and when I mean I've hired a secretary, I mean I've hired myself for two days a week to do all the stuff I'm not getting to.
Which brings me to this picture.  Here is a quilt I made years ago when I was trying to organize the everything of life.  And when I say the everything I still believed then that this was possible.  I believed that by sewing in a swatch of some shorts I had when I was fifteen, curtains I made for someone, a dress I traveled through Europe in, a shirt of a very dear friend, the curtains I made for my mom's bed and breakfast, well, I thought I could have it all in one handy dandy little place.  I called the quilt "ordinateur" enjoying the French word for computer and the fact that I had in some psychotherapy way, got it all down.  Now I look back at this cute little creation: for the real story of the memories sewn into it, you are going to have to talk to my secretary and she'll make an appointment with me for a private interview.  So, isn't it nice that there are seam rippers in the world and we can tear up all our handiwork again?  And start a new blanket that is meant to cover everything again?
Yours, with seam ripper at the ready,
Mrs Crocodile

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cutting up more sentences again...

A wise woman said, "Life is a series of rejections until you get the one."  Well now, finally a phrase I can cut up to relate to all parts of life!  I'm not walking around saying I've found the be all end all sentence for you and me to live life by, no way, no how.  Just found a nice phrase to think about.  Just like the saying, "It's always in the last place you look."  Here it's all a lot more in the looking than the finding.  Of course, when you've found something you could also say "Well that's not really what I wanted anyway."  Or you could stick with it and start looking for the next thing you had on your list.  In this case, my friend and I were talking about auditioning and she said she'd auditioned for over 100 parts in movies and commercials and had managed to get five.  I could relate and thought, well that's it isn't it?  You look, you look, you look, you find, you look, you look, you look, you find, you look.

There is, on the flip side, some one who always gets accepted and the one who always gets rejected, like today when you ordered your coffee without milk, how do you think the milk felt being all left out?  And later, when you decided to walk rather than take the bus to work?  How do you think the number 36 bus felt?  I imagine you must've had the conversation with your feet to okay the subject with them, but did you consult your legs?  Someone is quite likely going to feel left out or in.

This brings me to the point: it's never really about being in or out, but it's about how you are when you realize you are in or out.  Do you wallow in your sorrows?  Or do you spring back?  Do you piss other people off when you are out?  Or do you smother them with so much they can't take it when you're in?

Well, that's it for now, Springing back me is all the way,
Mrs Crocodile

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stone Work

Chances are that we knew a lot more about getting our aggressions out in the stone age than we do now.  I don't mean to say that cave men and women didn't arrive home exhausted after a day of hunting and gathering.  No.  Actually I'm saying that life was rougher back then.  But they didn't have all this other stuff around them to throw around, probably not even scissors (gasp!) to cut things up.  So when they needed to let off some steam, they either went down to the local watering hole and skipped rocks.  Or on worse days, traipsed on down to the nearest rock slide and banged a few rocks on other rocks.  Just the sound must have been exhilarating.

The point I'm trying to make with this post is that everyone even you, me, the cavemen and women we have inside of us, could use a way to get our aggressions out and our rocks off.  This picture was actually taken at the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and to be fair, the floor comes from a time after my cave fantasy, when history was already being written.  And I fear, it was made by slaves.  But I imagine the slave breaking his back, lifting up just one more boulder, seeing the ugly face of the foreman on it and smashing it into bits and pieces.

Which brings me to my next point and a quote I really like by Ms Cherrie Currie of the girl rocker band, The Runaways.  As far as I understood from the article in the New York Times from Monday March 22, 2010, she is now a chain-saw artist and no longer involved in the rock and roll world.  She says about her sculptures made out of wood:  "It's just me, a chain saw and a log and no one's telling me what to do."  With those words, I leave you today, because you just can't cut up that quote to make it any better.
Mrs Crocodile

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A big bouquet for you today!

Big sigh.  The rain pours down.  Oh!  but suddenly, what do I see?   The clouds open up and I can breathe in the big blue sky!  Here is a bouquet of flowers for the faithful readers and followers of this blog. 

One would think that flowers are completely useless and most things are actually, especially when you cut them up, like me.  I mean to say, cutting up things as a fetish is great but, there are a lot of completely useless bits of paper lying around here.  But who cares?  It was my birthday, then mother's day and I was reminded that all I really need in life is a bunch of flowers and a bottle of bubbly to be pretty happy most days.  Try it you might like it.  Those of you who have read other blog posts of mine might remember that actually I said I needed other things, like a full fridge, a tree-house, scissors, well, it changes daily, n'est-ce pas? 

Actually, with this bouquet, I'm working on depth in my collages and am attempting to bolster different materials so that they jump out at you.  It's all about dimension, perspective and of course cutting things up so they don't look like they've been hurt or been someplace else.  Like all of our hurts inside and outside really.  My message is to make your scars into something beautiful.  It's all about giving new life to something been there.  So here's your bouquet, go get yourself a bottle of bubbly and call it a date.

Yours bearing bouquet and bubbly,
Mrs Crocodile

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tulips, a Rose, the Night Blooming Jasmine

Two lips arose,
the night blooming jazz men
“An enemy?”
“A golden rod?”
“A pussy will.”

Oh…In the morning glory, please forget-me-not.

This collage is made out of cut up lips from magazines. I sent it out as a Christmas card, for which I received some fascinating comments to the effect of: "Wow, I didn't know you were an artist".   To which I had to reply: "Aren't we all?"  
Anyone had any ideas for the plastic whirring carnival lips?
Yours, with lipstick on,
Mrs Crocodile

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Some things just fall apart and I don't cut them up

I'm having a bad hair day, so here's my Saturday self-portrait: a picture of the seat of my pants.  And the words: some things I don't cut up, they just fall apart or wear down.  Actually I wanted to find meaning in maintenance for you and write about it, but as I took the picture here, I was struck by how exceedingly difficult it is to take a picture of the back of myself; have fun with your fantasy of me on a Saturday with no kids pretending to get work done in the office, aiming an iphone at my backside.  Taking a picture in reverse is even harder than actually seeing my back, so wouldn't it be time to just look forward?   And with meaning in maintenance I mean to say, how wonderful it is to have a financial crisis upon us because I saw some beautiful old items of clothing walking down the street today and I'm telling you they were not new, but dug out of the deepest recesses of women's closets.  I will now walk forward to my closet to go in reverse stylishly.  Have a good weekend! 
Mrs Crocodile

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Exhilarated Exhibitionist

Wow!  You're back!  How lovely to have you!  And now I've hit the first of my blogging realizations and a long list:
1) You readers all of the sudden think I'm an exhibitionist (funny this information is not new to me)
2) You readers I haven't heard from in years are saying stuff I don't remember (but am delighted to hear)
3) You readers I talk to everyday are getting worried (don't)

4) Comment moderation is exactly what this blog is about, cutting stuff up that once was might have been good and putting it back together in the search for meaning (Breathe, woman and comment please, people).
5) I am spending an enormous amount of time here, to the detriment of completing other things like taxes, the dishes, paying bills, writing in my diary, seeing friends in real life, filing, sewing and even cutting stuff up.
So today I have decided not to procrastinate and rather than do the stuff on the to do list, post a picture of myself and revel in the exhibitionism my friends were always warning me about.  This is a picture of a top I made recently: the sleeves come off and can be either a skirt or a ruff or sleeves again and the top is just a top.  I loved this ruffly fabric when I first saw it and it's really very stretchy. In that vein, it is always fun to pull at something like a rubber band and let it boing back.  It is just plain good old fun to have items of clothing that you can shoot around the house when you're not wearing them.  If I was daring enough I could even compare that to relationships, because when you think about it, there's always something boinging back your way or you shoot it and it misses its target.  Having been daring enough to say that I now go back to the practical: the top was an idea for a pattern that I had in my head for years, but never accomplished till now.  And why?  Because I found excuses!  There are no more excuses, just doing and being and have a great day!!  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the trees are greener and fuller and Spring is luscious!
Mrs Crocodile

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cutting stuff up and putting it back together just excites me

I have just discovered that I have a fetish! Cutting up a creation that was once dear to me and putting it back together to make something else in the name of getting my aggressions out, is the most thrilling thing I've done since, well, the first time I wore no underpants to my next door neighbor's house and I was five.  And I was already cutting up loads of stuff back then, but my parents didn't allow me to have such nice scissors.  I'm telling you I have finally discovered that yes I do have a fetish and yes I am proud of it even if sadly the end result has nothing to do with the feeling or the process of catharsis achieved.  And that is when I have a pair of very shiny, very sharp scissors who whisper 'swish' but not 'Swiss' to me in my hands as I open and close them.  The little metallic snap that they make at the end, which is most definitely the most seductive of sounds, sends me to higher heights.
I know it's mad, but I needed some explanation for this picture.  Rather than the truth of what really went on inside of me that day, here is a pillow that I made but I can't even put it with the other 21 throw pillows on the day bed, because the questions, five-year-olds ask are just not ready to be answered by me today.  Truth be told:  It was a quilt I made for a man I saved myself for and a time when I thought I really could sew all that stuff back together and have it all in a neat little place.  As life would have it, nothing is neat, not even the clean lines a pair of scissors makes as they cut through something new fresh and unspoiled.
Hope you are enjoying unspoiled beauty today,
Yours and watch out for my right hand,
Mrs Crocodile

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Keep Your Friends Forever, Seal Them in Plastic, Part Three

Oh the trouble with beautiful things!  One day something is beautiful and the next day the same thing just annoys me.  Yesterday I put a collage up on the blog, today, I go back to the drawing board and in this case, I'll make a new collage on the kitchen table.  Actually, in the last post I was too certain.  Too certain that the collage would be liked and too certain that Sea, Sun and Sand is all we need.  And I contradict myself:  if my readers really knew me they would know that I can't stop fantasizing about moving into a tree house like in my post Chez-moi, but I deal daily with the battle to have beautiful objects around me and to reduce things to a minimum.  Here in this picture Ella is wearing a quilt, in fact an old friend I should call it.  Who knew I had so much red around me?  A maternity blouse offered lots of silk, a long red skirt some wool crepe, flannel from a dress I made for my niece, washable maroon wool from a chair that I re-covered.  The golden green was from a wall hanging that was once one piece but it is obviously now two.  Making the backing deep purple was Chris's idea, which made the whole thing very luxurious.  I like to give new life to things which once held meaning: one more way to keep my friends sealed in plastic...smile, smile.
Enjoy this for today,
Mrs Crococdile

Friday, April 16, 2010

Big Walking Feet, Arms Wide Open

This is all I really need: Sun, Sand, Feet and Smile.  Actually not, but I'm trying to convince Chief Cook at Koo-ki Blog that she should take this collage and hang it up on her bare walls.  She asked me for something happy and embracing life and since happy is about all I'm really interested in, well maybe two other things involving keeping the fridge full and staving off loneliness, here it is:  Big Walking Feet, Arms Wide Open.  This collage was completed in October 2009 when I was spending a lot of time driving between Basel and Colmar and missing the sun and the sand of my native California.  This time her shoes match, her body is a crowd of people laying on the beach, her bikini bottom is a gloriously overflowing ham and veg dinner, her bikini top is re-used golden chocolate foil.  Her legs are sugar wrappers.  Her arms, more wrapped around herself than open wide, are a necklace.  Her one eye is the sun in the sky.  I'm not interpreting it for you, just giving you the background in this case: sand.  I just can't figure out if she's just starting off or slowing down.  So what do you think Chris?  Want to put up with her on your walls?
Yours, enjoying the sun yet?
Mrs Crocodile

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Keep Your Friends Forever, Seal Them in Plastic, Part Two

The last post was flimsy in comparison.  In this second edition of "Keep your friends forever..", I would like to present to you 'the jeans quilt'.  After making this quilt with all of Bernard's old jeans that didn't fit him anymore, I stayed in bed for a few days to recover.  But not under that quilt because it came out so very heavy, about ten kilos or about the weight of eight pairs of men's jeans size range from 34-36, long.  I don't know everything he did in those jeans and honestly I didn't want to know.  But the fun was had in making it.  There are at least 12 pockets where you can hide things you want to have access to later, which could come in really handy, I mean when does anyone have a pocket in bed?  And wasn't this invention just waiting to happen? 
And this is a side point but probably the most important part of it:  I have made a quilt for every major event in my life.  I suppose you could call it a kind of personal commemoration.  The year I made this quilt was a productive year: I made two.  And the year before that I repaired a white one with lots of blood colored fabric and last year I cut one up into little pieces.  And now I'd better stop and let him comment on this one before I put my foot in it.  Or lose something else in the many pockets or even get crushed under the weight of eight pairs of jeans. 
Yours, with jeans on, and it's still Spring,
Mrs Crocodile

Monday, April 5, 2010

Keep Your Friends Forever, Seal Them in Plastic, Part One

"Keep your friends forever, seal them in plastic" was the saying in the fortune cookie.  There must have been something lost in the translation, but as usual I understand things in my own way, don't you?  Since none of my really good friends or worst enemies for that matter, have consented to me laminating them and hanging them from my walls, here's my secondary interpretation of "seal them in plastic", and an idea for an art project.  You can see one of the creations in the picture.  It is made of four scarves that I wore at very different times in my life and that I bought or acquired in four different countries, spanning almost 18 years: London, Venice, Paris and Basel.  The silk on two of them had been worn down so much that it was beginning to be shredded scarf.  So I cut away the bits that were falling apart, ruffled them up and voilà a fancy top!  Well maybe they won't last forever, but I'm glad I can wear these 'friends' again for some special event I like to think I'll think up.

So, you want to do it, too?  Here's the idea of an art project that will also fuel ideas and stories for this blog:

Step One:  Find an item in your closet that is dear to you, a representation of enormous sentimental value or something that for some reason, you just can't give away.  Be it a hand-bag, a pair of heels, a dress, a scarf, an old t-shirt, old jeans, whatever.  It would be easier for me to transform it, if it was once a piece of clothing since I know where to begin with textiles.  Stiff materials like wood and metal are more difficult, but you could challenge me.  Keep in mind that you don't wear the item anymore because it's too small, too big, too worn out, too smelly, not your style anymore and after I get through with it, you may not recognize it. Step Two: You give the item to me along with a story, written or oral, about the item to be transformed.  Step Three: We photograph the new item it has become and I hope and pray that you actually like it. Step Four:  we collect our new stuff made out of old garb and organize the event I'm thinking I'll like to organize.

Accepting sentimental stuff now!
Yours, with seam ripper at the ready!
Mrs Crocodile