The Bawdy Ballad of Mary Belle

The Ballad of Mary Belle

Now gather round and let me tell

The tale of Mary Belle

And how her darling husband true

Did dine her for a spell.

And if I tell the story well

And if I tell it clear

There’s not a mortal one won’t quell,

Might faint in firry fear.

Twas darkest night, no light outside

no moon, no lamp, no stars,

When Mary Belles dear husband wide

his mouth upon her start.

And Mary Belle did groan and wrench

her husband’s head upright

and yanked it off his shoulders broad

And cast it out of sight.

No more to tell of Mary Belle

They took her to her prison

We only wonder what in heaven

Her husband dear was thinkin’


romance, love, sex, and marriage at sixty

That is the theme for the screenplay I am currently working on entitled “Monkabeans” (see earlier posts): romance, love, sex, and marriage….at sixty.

I’ve been doing my research!!! Won’t go into all the details of that, but am watching romance and romantic comedies like “Moulin Rouge”, “Lightness of Being” and many more (my favorite movie genre, really). I also attended Elizabeth Gilbert’s (Eat, Pray, Love) reading of her new book, “Committed”, but left a bit skeptical. How long has she been married exactly? Six months in this new one. Don’t get me wrong, I wish her the best. I also intend to take a look at her book in which she did some research on marriage, but try being in a marriage for over twenty-five years and then tell me what marriage is about.

Of course, I fully support her stand for same-sex marriage; and I touch on that in my screenplay. But as I said, my screenplay is about being married for a long, long time and sustaining a relationship of passion and romance, even as you discover and uncover some of the not so beautiful parts.

I have seen “On Golden Pond” but that was a long time ago, when it wasn’t so relevant to me.

There’s still plenty of other movies to see, I suspect, some books to read, some blogs to discover on the topic. The topic of same-sex marriage is, of course, sexier right now, as it should be. But I can’t help but wonder, what is this marriage thing people are fighting for? What are the promises of life-long companionship.

Any and all comments are welcome.

“Regarding Ducks and Universes” and Douglas Adams

An early spring thaw is in store for those of us who grieved the passing of Douglas Adams. Here comes his female reincarnation, to of all places, the Loft in Minneapolis of Universe A!

The Loft Presents: Neve Maslakovic
Thursday, March 17, 7:00pm – The Loft Literary Center at Open Book,
1011 Washington Avenue S, Minneapolis

Neve Maslakovic reads from her new book “Regarding Ducks and
Universes”. Felix Sayers wasn’t born when the Universe was split into
two dual realities: Universe A and Universe B. And so, for most of his
life in San Francisco A, he has had no reason to wonder about San
Francisco B and the other reality that’s just a portal trip away. He’s
content with his day job writing culinary instruction books and
nighttime dream of penning an Agatha Christie-style mystery. But then,
Felix discovers he’s a little older than he thought and that he has an
“alter” — his double, running around in Universe B — and everything

“An imaginative take on the theories of nature versus nurture…bright
and amusing.” — Publisher’s Weekly

“Regarding Ducks and Universes” is Neve Maslakovic’s first novel.
Before that, she was crafting technical papers and finishing her PhD
in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University’s STARLab (Space,
Telecommunications and Radioscience Laboratory). She spent her early
years speaking Serbian in the city of Belgrade, in what was then
communist Yugoslavia. After stops along the way in London, New York,
and the San Francisco Bay Area, she has settled in the Twin Cities.


Preschool Teacher

By Mary Alterman
February 11, 2011

In the art room
Quietly working
On their own,
children’s voices are demanding
that they find a place to shine.

Present to
the power of speaking
Dreams and wishes,
Lies and more,
Fairy tales and puppets yearning
For a life they call their own.

testing, testing, testing

the new feature of word press, publicize now,which directly connects my blog to my Facebook and twitter account. I’m not seeing the magic button I push, which reminds me of the fairy tale, “The Magic Button.”

It begins as do all fairy tales, Once upon a time, in a kingdom covered in white, lived a princess, of course, but an unhappy princess. She was tired of white.

One day a prince rode up on his beautiful black stallion and popped a magic button in her mail box. The princess was watching him from the window of her castle. She wanted to run outside and pull the prince from the stallion and make him hers, but alas, it was damn cold outside and so the prince got away before the princess was able to get her coat, hat, mittens, snow pants, and uggs on. And so she had to be happy with the magic button she found in her mailbox. (she really thought she’d have preferred the male to the mail.)

She pushed the magic button and there, before her, stood Rumpelstilskin from a previous fairy tale. She recognized him immediately.

“I’m sorry, Rump,” she told him. “But I don’t weave anything. Straw, gold, threads, yarn, I don’t care what. I’m just not a weaver.”

“But you’ve already guessed my name. Isn’t that the whole point? So you don’t have to give me your first born. However, you also don’t get any gold. And the prince is gone, so I guess you’re not left with much,” said the wiley and mischievous Rumpel.

“That’s o.k.” said the princess. “I’m a liberated princess. I know the value of work for pay. You’ve reminded me of that. And now, it’s time for me to catch the commuter train into the city. You, on the other hand, need to return to the land of “once upon a time.” Maybe the prince will come back to get you. You’ll have to find some other princess to delude with your promises of easy, fast, wealth and happiness.”

And for the first time in many, many months, the princess smiled as she looked upon the land of white. Green, she knew, would come soon enough. For now, she loved the white.

The end.

Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil Predicts Early Spring (via Slow Family Online)

I am reblogging this for the significant poetry embedding therein….read on. Also, hearty Minnesotans be cheered, the ground hog didn’t see its shadow and that means what?????

Read on.

Also, it was on this day in 1921 that my grandparents took their holy vows of matrimony which, by the way, they kept, an awesome achievement in the light of today’s statistics.

Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil Predicts Early Spring Groundhog Day, February 2, has basically everything going for it that I love in a holiday — It marks a point in a season; it's full of folklore and wisdom, superstition, ceremony, civic charm, mystery, agrarian history, and weather — and it was featured in perhaps my all-time favorite movie of the same name, which itself is a study in acceptance and inner calm while being outright hilarious in nearly every frame. Altogether now: It's Groundhog … Read More

via Slow Family Online

in the thick of it

More snow in Minnesota. Traffic moving at a snail’s pace. I find that comforting, moving slow.

A Prairie Home Companion’s 1273rd Show

I was inspired by last nights live performance of “Prairie Home Companion”, the unique, one-of-a-kind radio show that’s produced out of St. Paul at the beautiful, old Fitzgerald Theatre, to write this simple ditty. (for more details and to listen to the show, check out I have included some bad photography from our charming, second-tier box seats.

A little background:

The usual cast of characters and musicians were even more entertaining of course, seeing them live and in person. The surprise for us was that Garrison Keillor who began the show in the seventies and is know nationally for his News from Lake Wobegon, was not hosting the show. In his place, if that’s at all possible, was Sara Watkins, a singer, songwriter, and fiddle player, who, at the age of eight won a Grammy.

I was charmed by her soft beauty and wondered if she was chosen for her Swedish-looking, round-cheeked face. Then the show was on the air and I was equally amazed and dazzled by her huge musical talents. Other guests equally enchanting included banjo player Abigail Washburn and her old-time, indie-pop band; and guitar and vocalist Tom Brosseau originally from North Dakota.

In addition to the fabulous music was the hilarious “The Adventures of Guy Noir”, in which private detective Noir stumbled on a liberal conspiracy to impound all the vehicles in the Twin Cities area by snowplowing them into the curbs and then making it impossible to relocate said illegally parked vehicle, finally achieving the goal of forcing everyone to ride public transportation by 2012. It was doubly funny because my friend had her car towed and had a similar experience recovering it. If anything can make cold, snow-bound Minnesotans feel loved, appreciated, and understood, this skit can. It can also make us laugh.

My favorite of all, though, was, no surprise, Garrison Keillor’s News from Lake Wobegon. His mastery of timing, his almost mythic presence under the spotlight, and the jokes were worth double the price of the tickets (which are unbelievably cheap anyway since the production is being funded by the entire country and tickets probably pay only for the room rental).

Here goes:

I loved the way she threw her leg out backwards
when playing merry fiddle or she sang.
I loved the funny skits they did on towing
Cars in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

I loved to watch musicians; one young woman
who strummed the banjo strings so sweet and true.
I loved the crooning blonde from South Dakota
whose tenor voice could reach into the soul.

I loved the silly sounds, the many songs, the merry notes.
I loved the stories told about the cold.
But most of all,The Old Scout in the spotlight,
His news from Wobegon, I was still charmed.

My plan for the daily blogging I signed up for, which, so far, has been every other daily or so, is to write poetry (of the non-poet version), fairy tales and an occasional folk tale (ie, story from my life). (Reader beware: plans are what you make and meanwhile, you’re life goes its own Mary way).

If you’re interested in a lay man’s guide to writing and reading poetry, check out “The Ode Less Travelled” by Stephen Fry. Wonderful, useful, hilarious, like an evening at the Fitzgerald Theatre in Saint Paul.


I almost went home and buried myself in bed this morning after taking my son to high school. Traffic crawled. Bad hair day. Coffee shop noisier than usual. Thought it was time to give up.

Went to my massage appointment (a freebie I had won), and felt the mind let go as the muscles released. Now I’m getting a hair cut and color.

I’m thinking, treating myself like a princess may actually be a necessity in Minnesota in winter.

Love that survives wrinkles

Two questions to answer from the internet sphere space: what do I value most and what do I want to be remembered for?

I value my relationships with people most of all, especially family: two sons, husband, four sisters, two brothers, mom and dad (deceased but still in a relationship with him), grandma, grandpa (both also deceased but they often visit me in my dreams), aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, their families, and people on word press, teachers of my sons, my sons’ girlfriends, my sons’ friends, the Poor Clares, my in-laws, the coffee shop owners and waitresses. Just everyone I talk to, write to, and say goodnight to. People.

“People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,” sings the old crone, Barbara Streisand. Though I don’t listen to her music much, I love many of her movies and I love her love.

It would be people and love that I value the most, those two things. My Rumi lecture this morning reminded me that it all comes from within, all that love, and well, of course it does.

Is being remembered for love count? How do you remember love?

To answer my own question, stories, songs, poetry, art is one of the ways that people remember and are reminded of love. Which brings me to my “blog theme”, my screenplay, Monkabeans. Or should I name it Monkey Beans, or the Beings of Monkey Mind? I’m bantering that one around but basically, it’s romantic comedy and the theme is love, of the forever kind, as in love that survives being married. I don’t want to preach but it is something I know only too well, that love that survives requires a powerful withinness that goes way beyond simple romance. Or maybe we could redefine romance and have it includes wrinkles.

I want to love, I want to be loved, I want to be remembered for my love and I want love in spite of my wrinkles.

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