Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hissy Fit

I got an email from one of my friends suggesting we do dinner New Year's Eve.  Fine by me.  This girl is good for dining out.  After some discussion a place was chosen and we were good to go.  

Or so I thought.  The more I contemplated it, the more freaked out I got.  Freaked because this requires clothes that I just don't own or want to own.  For the last 25 years I have worked in a research lab where T shirt, jeans and chucks ARE dressed up.  I also own a few things suitable for the opera.  What my wardrobe is all Mother Hubbardy in is business casual.  Yunno trousers, skirts, blouses, heels and hose.  I don't own them and try not to get wrangled into having to go/do something where they would be de rigeur.  This is what is expected in the restaurant we have chosen.  Good Gawd.  WTF am I gonna do now?

So off I went to shop.  

The launch code had ben activated and as I stood in the dressing room trying on entire cargo containers of clothing, I felt myself become increasingly agitated until I was angry and on the verge of tears.  Frustrated with my body.  Pissed off at the clothes.  My mom was amazingly supportive, but that didn't help with things that were just butt ugly or ill-fitting.  The night is supposed to be fun, but the shopping was spoiling it before it even started.  If we could have laughed about it, I would have been OK.  But all I could see was how each piece worked against me.

I called it quits.  

I know the clothes don't change who I am - that person is spectacular.  But dammit just once I would like to have something that makes me feel gorgeous. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Learn to Know Me By That Name

Every so often it's good to see yourself through someone else's eyes.  I don't know why that is.  But it seems that when we look at ourselves too close in for too long, our eyes get all out of focus and our heads start to spin out funhouse stories of ourselves.  

This afternoon as a change of pace from writing and beating myself up about not writing more.  I have been carving stamps for letterboxing.  A new series based on Narnia.  I am reading an insane amount of CS Lewis right now (not limited to Narnia) and working the pieces gives my brain time to process some of the headier philosophical works.  

I view these stamps as toss offs.  These are just part of my nutjob hobby.  They go into Tupperware or camo duct tape covered bags and live outside.  Some will disappear, chewed up by wild critters or thrown out as trash by well-meaning muggles or noxers (non-boxers) as they are sometimes known.  

I took a break, posted a FB status update and thought why not throw in a photo of the stamps.  What I didn't expect was for someone to call these hobby pieces Art.  Art?  Rreally?  But making Art would have required me to dig out the paints and paper or at least the really cool and smeary drawing pencils I like, which I didn't do.    Art would lead a cushy life lived inside under glass, not thrown into a bush.  

I stopped myself right about there and looked at what I had been saying.  Dismissing this as less than.  YIKES!  Let's back the train up.  Maybe if I stopped thinking about Art and started thinking about art, I would see that most of my life is about making art.   I make art with my words.  I make art with relationships.  Hell I even do a very artsy load of laundry.  And yes, on some days I make art in the form of little rubber stamps that I share with other people just for the thrill of it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Random thoughts on a random walk in the snow...

Yunno I got my trail.  Haven't been out in it in some time now.  And I can tell too.  Too much couch and not enough boots.  I have been meaning to go for a week, but I am the Mistress of Lame Ass excuses.  Time to correct that little habit.  So out I go.  

Met three new friends out there today - Rusty, Bear and Teetee who barked at me tails wagging.  Which end am I to believe?  In this case the tail end.  Barked at me every time they crossed my path until they smelled my gloves and realized that this two-legged had worshipped them already and moved on.  

I was unwilling to risk the big hills and frozen water bars that were iced over from lots of feet and mountain bikes.  So I settled for those parts I could reasonably traverse which wasn't very much.  Still it took as long to navigate those short pieces as the whole does in summer.  I generally avoided the icy middle and navigated the edges of the trail where the snow still gave me modest traction.  Even so, cautious, because one can never tell what lies just under that unbroken crust of snow.  It is so deceptively innocent and sparkly as if to say I wouldn't hurt a fly, when all the while it hides a hole, slippery leaves or ankle biting rocks.   Gingerly trying each placement and finding it suitable, planting a foot authoritatively thru the crust.  

Using this technique I managed a short set of water bars and a small hill.  I might have dared more if I had not brought the camera.  But I worry about wiping out and breaking this toy it took me two years to acquire.  I am content with today's effort.  Some of the restlessness has been quelled.  It has been enough.

Monday, December 27, 2010


This idea came across my desk via writer and artiste extraordinaire Barb Black .
What a great thought.

Key to the Castle

I feel stuck.  There I admitted it.  The door behind me is closed and the one coming has yet to open.  Hell maybe it hasn't even been framed yet.  I keep asking for guidance and help from the peeps, but they are just being quiet on this subject.  I have been trying to sit tight and not fly off in any direction just because I feel like I should be doing something.  

Group meditation at Healing Circle, a practice generally used to focus communally on a larger subject, was designed  last night for each participant to look inward for what they needed.  Answers were rich and varied as the people in the circle.  

My vision was of the 3 of Staves in my favorite Tarot deck by Stephanie Pui Mun Law (  It is exactly the place that I have been for the last two months.  Standing at the end of the little land bridge and unable to proceed.  I can see the horizon of where I want to go (or think I want to go), but there is no way to get there from where I am. Sometimes I think it's one of those Indiana Jones kinda things where I am supposed to just step out into the void and to find there is more path, I just can't see it.  But I can never do it, can't seem to take what amounts to a leap of faith.  The image is beautiful, but it makes me unnecessarily sad and I wonder why I can't seem to move from there.

THAT seems the right question at last. Growing up we got a letter from a local toy store called Johnny's Toys near our birthday. It contained a small metal key that opened a child-sized door in a child-sized castle in the store and you were allowed to choose one gift, an ingenious marketing ploy. I loved that key. It was the potential for every toy my kid brain could imagine. It was power. It was magic. OK. So I told you that in order for this next piece to make sense. I see my grown up self now standing in front of an adult-sized and more realistic version of Johnny's Birthday Castle. The lights are on inside and they are casting a warm yellow orange light on the linoleum floor.  I press my face to the window and gawk at what I see inside.  The castle is stuffed with the most amazing gifts.  These aren't wrapped and I can clearly see what they are jumbled and stacked in there.  Gripped with a child's greed I want it all!  Happy Twirling Dance.

I come to realize that this castle exists inside me like St. Theresa of Avila's Interior Castle and that those things that I am seeing are for me.  ALL OF THEM.  Happy Dance Part II.  I wonder why don't I have access to them then?  Also an excellent question.  Seems that whole one at a time thing has bit me in the ass.  Yunno.  Get out one toy, play with it, put it away before you get out the next one.  Study one subject at a time.  That for years I have been using the key to open the door and get out one awesomeness, then put it back and retrieve another.  What I really want is to get them all out and spread them across the floor and roll thru them laughing.  I nearly faint from the sheer joy of this thought.  I am suddenly five again gripping my key to the Castle and dreaming of what I might get.  

The only problem with this is that I don't have the key to the castle.  And I think there might be a sizeable obstacle between me and the door.  An obstacle of my own creation made of all the boogeymen I have ever known.  But I'm not concerned about that.  Now that I have seen what's inside I will get in there. 

And once I do, I know that I can stand on that land bridge, hold out my hand and the right tool will appear by magic in it and I will paint, write, sculpt, dance the bridge into existence in front of me one magical step at a time until I get where I need to be.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Holly and the Crown

One might think that a favorite holiday memory would be something from childhood, some perfect gift. A dog, a bicycle, catching Santa at his work. Oddly the two I am about to share are neither.

My mom was not a cuddle-you-kinda mom. I'm sure she did cuddle us, because none of us turned out a deranged killer. But yunno how some kids are just fiends for crawling into your lap and nesting there? I was one of those kids. My mom not so much. Our family always attended midnight Mass. There is a magic in staying up late when you are little. Magic made all the brighter for snow, clear dark skies, new red velvet dresses and the ethereal voices of the choir in the darkened church. There were five of us and growing up the little ones jockeyed for positions near our Mom, the older ones jockeying the away ones. My happiest Christmas memory is not a gift at all. It is the nights I landed that coveted position next to my mom in her mink coat. (Back before PETA people). I was not allowed her lap, that would wrinkle both her dress and mine. But I was for that night only allowed to nestle beneath her arm in her mink coat. A place that felt safe and warm and silky smooth against my skin.  A place of sleepy Christmas dreams of such innocence.  A place where memories are made. 

I am against the wearing of fur and have been since I saw a video of how the skins were harvested. I understand that for my mom and women of her generation that fur symbolizes a whole other set of things than it does me. I would never wear it, but I will sheepishly admit that I have been known to close my eyes and rub the sleeve of a fur coat against my cheek just to bring back that sense of clear skied awe and snuggled wintry safety.


Five of my family members have the deep misfortune of having birthdays Christmas week. Wah wah wah. If you don't like it, well then be smart next time and be born in the summer like folks should. For me the only misfortune is the financial hit of double dip presents and the endless caking that threatens to burst the seams of my jeans. Made one cake worse by my mother's insistence that we celebrate Christmas as Baby Jesus' Birthday. No lie. There was birthday cake and singing which should have been enough to have an omnipotent being take us all out. Proof that Baby Jesus is either benevolent or tone deaf.

I have four brothers all towering over 6 feet. Most carrying a little extra in the midsection like my family is wont to do. My brother Tom has 4 kids - girl, boy, boy girl - two of whom have the dreaded Christmas week birthday. Jackie, the youngest one is the soul of sweetness like youngest children mostly are. She was also the girliest girl - princess, twirly skirts, sparkles, the who shebang. The year she turned four there was a party with relatives from both sides.

At one point in the evening, I wondered where she had gotten off to? I walked down the hall toward her cupboard of a room where the door was ajar. I heard voices from inside. When I peaked my head around the corner I saw a knot of people laying on their stomachs around what looked to be a gameboard. Jackie, aka the birthday girl, had roped her dad and her Uncles Phil and Jeff into a game of Pretty Pretty Princess where you compete for the rhinestone crown.  Jackie's tiny body nearly lost in that sea of dude in her tiny bedroom.  My brother Tom was wearing little plastic clip on earrings (Some things never change brutha), Jackie's Uncle Jeff was wearing a big plastic 'diamond' ring, and my brother Phil was wearing a sparkly bracelet of some kind.

I stuffed my fist in my mouth until I got to the living room where I collapsed in wheezing gales of laughter. When I finally manage to stop, I waved my sister-in-law Cindy and a few others women with me. We crept quietly down the hall and each poked our head around the doorway one above the other like some cheesy 70's sitcom intro. Pretty sure Cindy got off a picture before she fell over on the floor in laughter. At that point none of us could contain the giggles at the sight of all those dudes in their little plastic jewelry.

It is the part that comes next that makes this my favorite memory of the holidays. The guys might have gotten up embarrassed, pulled off the plastic gems and harrumphed their way down the hall, pounding their chests back to whatever sporting event was on the tube. Instead these big dudes lying on the floor turned and gave us dimply princess smiles and little princess waves and went back to the game.

I know my family is fucked up some times. Maybe more than most. Maybe not. I could focus on that fucked upness like I did yesterday. Or I could see those hulking dudes in that cramped room busted by sisters and wives calmly go back to their game with a wave because it is what made one little four year old girl ecstatically happy.  

Just in case your wondering about the title, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the post.  But it is another of my favorite holiday things.  I love Christmas tunage (in moderation and of my own choosing - NO MUSAK!) which is proof that the deity has a sense of humor since I can't sing for shit

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Putting the Fun in DysFUNctional

Lots of holiday YIKES going on around me.  I want no truck with that.  But sometimes it creeps up on me and mows me the fuck over.  I can feel it in my body, a certain tightness in the neck and shoulders that is the result of carrying so much on one pair of standard issue woman's shoulders.  Despite their larger than average size, they really don't hold more, which is clearly a case of false advertising if you ask me.  I don't usually feel it until my shoulders are relocated to the vicinity of my ears.  That is my call to action or inaction.

After a couple of days ripe with this foulness, I am taking a break, shrugging off the weight of it all and coming back to a place that is just me.  A place of happy muchness.  I brewed up a lovely cuppa jasmine tea.  Its scent insanely calming and its ability to unwind the tightness oh so welcome.  Breathing in warm spring nights, the radiance of the sun and the seduction of vines heavy with perfumed flowers.  Ahhhh....the shoulders sag to a biologically safe position.  

Now - about the fam.  I love them all, but sometimes I wish it were easier.  Wish that any of my siblings spoke to any of the others.  Wish that I were not the glue that held the pieces together.  Wish I could just not give a flying fuck about any of it and walk away.  Maybe this is just the way of things in Boyworld (Reason # 3542 that Girlworld is superior).  If Santa could deliver even one of those things I would kiss his sleigh-flattened ass.

Things were cohesive once, but like a shattered magnet unable to be reassembled once each piece has established its own polarity.  No amount of trying will make it what it was once.  So this year I am not going to try to do that.  (Really? Why did I ever?  I blame Norman Rockwell and every other holiday image that pollutes my grey matter.)  This year I am accepting each piece AS IS.  No that isn't it.  I think I do that already hence the glue status.  I am going to stop expecting everyone else to accept the AS IS-NESS of the other pieces.  Yes - that's it.  If they can't see the value of something because all they see is the crack, then that's on them.  I see us as we are and let me tell you - we are all fucking cracked!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Yeah, it's that time of year again.  Snow, ass-inducing cookies, presents.  You all know the drill.  Some years I get all into it, decorate, bake, shop.  Other years not so much.  This is one of the years of less muchness.  Not quite maximal bah humbuggy, but approaching that asymptote.  No tree, no presents.  

My stocking is up, but I will admit I forgot to take it down last year and decided to leave it up.  I was hoping it would induce gift giving, but sadly no.  I would be happy if it could just pass another day like any other.  If I must endure it, maybe the red dude could tie me up, throw me on his sleigh and drop my ass off in Samoa.  In the very least, he could leave me a Samoan dude as a substitute if the sleigh is too full.  I happen to know for a fact that Troy Polamalu isn't busy this week.  

Dear Santa,

I have been a good person this year (refs on request). Please take me someplace where it's hot, where clothing is minimal, and where round is a friendly shape instead of universally loathed.   I have included a map for your convenience with the destination marked.  Or if you are navigating by GPS South 14º20', West 170º00' should get me close enough for North Pole work.  

You know where the cookies are.  Help yourself.  And please curb the reindeer this year.  


Friday, December 17, 2010

Ripping off Wm Carlos Wms

The Red Teakettle

so much depends

a red tea

wreathed in warm

on top of the white 

This morning I blew up my teakettle.  By that I mean I boiled water in it for coffee then left it heating with the annoying whistling lid open to add a bit of moisture to a house dry from winter heat.  I do this every morning while the coffee steeps in the French press.  On this morning though, I forgot about both the coffee brewing and the kettle boiling on the stove.  YIKES!  Strong coffee and a tea kettle hopelessly dry.  Enamel fused onto the burner coil.  Spout melted beyond use.  

Thinking about it as I cleaned it up, I had never really liked this kettle.  I got it three and a half years ago when I moved in to my new apartment where everything was renters white.  The kettle I got was white and I still don't understand why the white on white on white felt like it would work for me.  It whistled which I liked, but the note of that whistle was like stepping in a pile of poo every morning.  The rest of the kitchen is tricked out in red metallic or red chromey pieces that break up the tundra of white.  Red trash bin.  Red chrome toaster.  Red metallic flake microwave.  So the tea kettle was always the red herring....or white herring in this case....of the group.  

I quickly realized that no teakettle meant no coffee tomorrow morning.  DEFCON 5.  

So off I went.  I gave the white one a hasty burial in the bin on my way out.  Then off to Home Goods.  I will now admit that I have a kitchen gadget fetish which is just weird as I am prone to tell people that the kitchen is wasted space where a perfectly good hot tub could be.  I could spend hours fiddling around in the kitchen gadget section of Williams Sonoma or hell even Wal-Mart for that matter.  Even weirder is that I rarely buy them.  Maybe I just like imagining myself as needing these things.  But convincing me to go takes about a feather's weight of push.

I was tickled to find that some of the kitchen stuff is color grouped.  There was a black section, a white section, a stainless section, a green one, a blue one, a yellow one - even an orange one.  There I found a fat round orange teakettle that made me happy.   I did resist the urge to buy it immediately since I was afraid it would encourage my inner 4 year old decorator self to have at it on the blank canvas of the kitchen and I would end up with a space that resembled nothing so much as it did a box of Crayolas.  Part of me still thinks a Crayola kitchen would be awesome!!  Maybe next time.  

Of course there was a red section.  That had been my goal from the outset.  And even though I was carrying the chubby orange teakettle (There was only one and this being cutthroat Christmas holiday shopping, you don't dare set something you MIGHT want down) I headed over there to check out the red teakettles.   I didn't see any that made me cartwheel down the aisle and I was afraid the Crayola decorator was gonna insist we take the orange one home.  Right about then I spied it in the back of the next to bottom shelf, hidden by lots of its red brethren.  My teakettle.  There was only one of these too, so I snagged it with a quickness.  Red metallic chrome with a cool British-feeling shape.  No annoying whistle.  Yup.  This was the one.  

I put the orange one back on the shelf, the inner child eyeballing it softly as if to say Next time babe.  It's just me and you.  And we both know there will be a next time and I will give in.  But for now the red metallic one sitting on the stove makes my heart sing and of course it makes me think of William Carlos Williams, which is way better than a pile of poo.  

NB - Lest anyone think I wrote that poem from scratch, I am including here the WCW poem I plagiarized.  

The Red Wheelbarrow    by William Carlos Williams

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Overcoming Pennywise

This week I am reading Stephen King's On Writing.  I don't know why it has taken me 10 years to get to it.  I distinctly remember its publication and thinking I must read that.  But I never did.  That despite really enjoying King's body of work.  When I was younger I loved the way he just knew what creeped me out.  Like he had poked around in the collective and found out what we fear most and then housed those things in the innocuous guise of a clown, or a beloved pet or a nerd girl.  I still can't enjoy circus clowns because of Pennywise.  I was going to include a photo of him, but even those gave me the heebie jeebies.   So don't click on the link if you don't wanna see.

When I got older I recognized that King wrote brilliant dialogue.  I'm not talking content here, but structure and language.  Dialogue in one of his books sounded like the conversations I had with my friends, the ones I overheard on the bus, the ones shouted at 2AM by the drunk in my neighborhood and his wife.  There is just a truth to it.  

So I wonder why did it take me 10 years to get to this book?  I thought about that today as I was reading.  And it was like staring into the chalk white face of Pennywise himself.  Fear.  The kind that immobilizes you in place.  10 years ago it was - What if I discovered that I sucked by reading it?  Or that I was a lame ass hack when it came to writing?  What if people could see inside me when I wrote?  Oh God, what if they discovered how fucked up I am?  Mostly though, there was the thought that if I read this book, I would have to claim my writer's beanie once and for all.  

Those initial fears gave way to new ones as I dared to model my stylin' new writer's beanie in the mirror at last.  Would people think what I have to say unimportant or boring?  What if no one read my words?  What if my words were not appreciated much less understood?  I think King explains it best when he says without an audience "you are just a voice quacking in the void."   Oh God, don't let me be a quacker!

I think I was able to finally pick up the book and read it, because none of those things bother me anymore.  Or at least bother me much less.   I rock the beanie and I'm keepin it.   Nothing you say can make me take it off.  I no longer care if you think I am a total goober or a fucked up nutcase (both are true at times).  I don't care if no one reads.  I am not really writing for them.  I am writing for me.  Anything else is a bonus.

So, Quack Quack Pennywise.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Olive Barred

My friend Patricia recently wrote a blog about what she refers to as big box stores (You can read about it here  I have listened to her talk about this before, but never really understood it.  I mean a store is a store.  Right?  

But as I stood in the Newport Krogers today, understanding began to dawn.  There was no sense of urgency or joy to be found in either the shoppers or the employees.  I chalked that up to the snow at first.  Carts parked haphazardly in the aisle so that no one can pass.  Their drivers oblivious to the line of carts now 4 deep on both sides of the aisle.  This repeated in every blessed aisle.  The Kroger employees restocking in the middle of the afternoon on a Sunday taking up the ends, the aisles, every spare bit of space.  Or worse, the employees shooting the shit while their flats full of food sat there blocking the way.  

I managed to contain my temper by reminding myself that it's snowing and close to the holidays, at least until I reached the bar full of Mediterranean goodies - olives, baba ganoush, peppers, tabouli.  This is one of my favorite places and my guilty pleasure to be able to sample the great selection of olives or bring home some edamame hummus.  When I broke free of the congestion and got to the olive bar, I was appalled to see a 10 year old boy up to his wrists in the olive bar with his bare hands.  ::shudder::   I watched in disbelief as his hands went from the olives to his mouth and back numerous times.  He was certainly old enough to know better.   I wanted to smack his hands so badly with a wooden cooking spoon like my Mom used to when she caught us sampling out of the cooking pot.  Where was his mom?  She was standing right there talking on her cell phone and ignoring this amazingly unsanitary and disgusting action.   So too were the employees.  I went up and asked him to please stop that as nicely as I could.  He glared at me and continued defiantly.  I opted not to get olives.  May never be able to get them again that I won't wonder what booger eating little shit has had his hands in them today.  

It was at that moment that Patricia's blog began to make sense.  People here are not looking for things to nourish their family.  They are not engaged in the activity at all, most are somewhere else entirely.   No thought to what they are buying.   It feels a place where people have given up.  And it explains why I sometimes have an overwhelming urge to cry when I am there.  Maybe she is right and it's time to shop somewhere else.

NB - the major exception and saving grace du jour was the young man at the checkout.  Engaged.  Alive.  Laughing with the bag boy as they tried to guess the number of items in each person's order, but still competently getting his job done.   Just trying to make what could be a tedious afternoon of bitchy customers more fun.  Interesting to watch people's demeanors change as they interacted with this duo.  Smiles.  Laughter.  That at least felt good.  

Friday, December 10, 2010

Where To?

I met my boss today for lunch.  My treat.  Football bet.  Colts lost to the Cowboys.  I haven't seen him for a month.  Not since the day with all the boo-hooing and other non-professional, non-science geek goddess behaviour.  It went as always with an easy grace and interesting convoluted conversation.  But things have shifted and changed for both of us.  We will never be boss and employee again.  (Not that we have been that in more than name for a while now).  His world is still caught up with experiments and grants and mice.  Mine caught up in a little back eddy made by this unexpected and unwanted shift.  Some of those shifts are weird like talking about science that is no longer mine to carry out.  Some are unexpected and sweet like the hug he gave me on leaving.  I hold hope that we can maintain our friendship.  I don't have any friends other than family that I have known as long as him.  And I value him for being there.  

After lunch I tooled through O'Bryonville looking for gifts.  Finding a few.  Scurrying back to my car before the time expired.  On my way back to the car I stuck my hand in the pocket of my fleece.  Fingers assessing the contents.  Keys.  Phone.  Chapstick.  Something else.  What was that?  FYI - I am like a squirrel when it comes to storing things in my pockets and I have a hard time with clothes that have none.  This often leads to surprises as things resurface out of no where.  

I felt of it trying to guess what it was without looking, a weird personal game I play.  Hard plastic.  Roughly the shape of my phone but smaller.  I pulled it out to find it was my compass left in the pocket at the end of a day of letterboxing.  It was a gift from Sno' - my letterboxing conspirator who knows my penchant for misplacing or outright losing stuff.  This one has a lanyard so I can wear it around my neck.  I sheepishly admit I do just that and often forget that I am wearing it like a symbol of my office as geek goddess which I wholeheartedly embrace.   And it is a garish day glo green that would be hard to miss if you were looking for it.  

I stand there in O'Bryonville holding it and compulsively adjust the dial so that the red arrow points north so I can get a true reading should I feel the need which I don't.  I'm glad it has turned up now.  If ever anyone was in need of a compass to help them get their bearings it is this nerd girl.  And I quietly wonder - Where to now?   The answer is still - I have no idea.  

Monday, December 6, 2010

I was at a party recently where a woman near me, a thin and very beautiful woman, gave everyone within earshot a running count of the calories she had consumed during the evening.  Informing us that the cheesecake in her hand that she was debating eating would result in an extra hour on the elliptical, followed by a 45 minute debate on whether it was worth it.  JUST EAT THE DAMN CHEESECAKE....or not.  I don't care.  But your fixation on it makes me wanna give you a good karate chop to the vocal cords.  By the expressions on their faces, I think some of the people around you might break into spontaneous applause if I did just that.

Deep breath......

I have known a lot of women like this - ones who have great bodies by any standard, but hate them and who see food as the enemy.  I am just not one of them, so I ask that you keep that shit dialogue in your head where it belongs.  Don't try to push your negative body image onto me.  And don't ask me to validate it either cuz I think it sucks. 
I have worked a long time to get OK with who I am inside and out.  I like my curves.  I like food.  I will never be rail thin, nor do I want to be.  If someone doesn't like that - tough shit!  There is a kind of liberation in accepting that.  If I want to eat something, I do.  No regrets.  No whining.  I enjoy every spoonful of Jeni's ice cream, every bit of Dagoba chocolate, every piece of thick cut bacon......mmmmmm.   And I find it easier to eat what nourishes me if I don't deny myself every damn thing that tastes good.   Find it easier NOT to binge if I am not always telling myself NO.  Honestly, my brain got sooooo tired of calculating caloric content and giving that up has left it free to do other things, like plan a revolution.

Are you with me Sisters of the Round?  

You are heretofore charged with letting go of the calorie counting for a minute, a day, a lifetime.  Let go of the negative language we use to sabotage food.  Pick up that Springerle cookie, that piece of cheesecake, that extra cripsy bacon.  Load your spoons with Creme Brulee.  Wave your candy canes proudly.  And let yourself savor the way those things taste when you eat them without a mouthful of ugly guilt-words to spoil them.  I guarantee a taste bud explosion better than any you have ever known.  And your body will thank you for it.  Thank you for not confusing it by filling it full of things you tell it are fat-inducing poisons.  It will stop being at war with food.  Peace will come.  You will feel better in your skin inside and out.  


Who knows maybe you will even get that rarest of gems - to love your body  - JUST LIKE IT IS.  


Old Nuggets Pt4

Seems I had quite an affection for rhyming back when.  Still some are decent enough.  

Fireflies July 31, 1987

Strung like Chinese lanterns at the  fairy formal ball
Whispering there in the dark
'Come join us one and all
Hear the crickets sing our song
And bullfrogs keeping time
Join us in our revelry
Our dancing is sublime.'

All you need to do is follow lanterns as they flicker
Deeper now into the woods
'Hurry now.  Go quicker.'
There they are now just ahead within their fairy ring
Dressed in iris flags and daffodils
all the flowers of the spring.
The dancing is so graceful
and will last 'til almost dawn.
They leave no trace of merriment
but their ring upont he lawn
And round about this whirling group
like sentinels we sit
Escorting guests with glowing lamps
of tails so brightly lit.
But lo, the dance is slowing down
and by the nodding of your head
I'd say it's time for me to go
and see you safely to your bed

Swan Song May 30, 1989

You touched my soul and made it sing
In a voice both clear and true
And the song.  Oh the song!
Words I didn't know I knew
Came pouring from my heart
took wing and homeward flew.
As Earthbound I stood amazed
watching them disappear from view.
Disbelief that the song I heard was mine
Inspired by the love I felt for you.

I try in vain to recall those words
as I stare softly toward the sky
But they were a swift as dreams
that went so quickly by
Nor can I recall the tune
desperate though I try
I struggle to recapture bliss
but capture only sighs

For, my love, while touched souls sing
deserted souls just die.  

For Nara: Love All  January 25, 1992

An old tennis ball is all it takes
Sometimes a new on to take its place
A couple cups of kibbles in a plastic bowl
on which puppyhood and time did take their toll.

A little black cat that we call Boo-Bear
asleep on my coat in his favorite chair.

There's nothing like going for a ride in the car
Doesn't matter where to.
Doesn't matter how far.
Only thing that matters is that she is here
to make me smile and scratch behind her ears
Fate brought us together on that day back when
But tennis balls and love made that lab my friend.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Stealing Karma

A couple weeks ago, I had a dream wherein an unknown person reached into the cargo netting of my backpack and removed a right angle triangle and a circular protractor (glad that at least my dreams get a use from those, bc I never did).  This person then stashed them in the cargo netting of their own backpack.  All done in plain sight of many people.  When I called them on it, they denied it and no one seemed to have seen them do it or don't care.  Even though they could see them in their backpack and knew them to be mine, they did not back me up.  

I thought I knew what the dream was about since I had it Thanksgiving eve.  But, since I am now part of a dream group (YAY!), I wanted to see what kind of archetypal images my subconscious was throwing out - in particular the circle, the triangle and the backpack.  So I looked them up in my handy dandy dream dictionary.  

The one that kinda surprised me was the backpack, which represents what you are carrying with you.  Karma if you prefer or just the baggage and junk we all seem to lug everywhere.  Makes sense.  The idea that someone would remove part of that and take it on themselves seemed strange to me.  In every way this would be a spectacular gift to give someone - to take part of their karmic burden onto yourself.  And that thought blows the doors open on some new ways of looking at a situation I struggle with mightily over the holidays.  

My dream group offered up a few other explanations that layer the dream images so elegantly and allow it to address lots of things simultaneously.  Love multi-tasking.

Old Nuggets Pt 3

On My Father's Birthday  April 22, 1986

I looked up tonight at a sky filled with stars
and I hoped that you're happy and warm where you are.
The sorrow I feel wells in my soul
at the thought of you tired, or hungry, or cold
And the thought of me living my days without you
makes my grief deeper,  and guilt sometimes too. 

Never once did I think of your place in my life
until it was too late.  Then like a knife
your absence ripped through me destroying my peace. 
Only in hope and in time have I found surcease
from the pain that so gripped me when you passed away.  
I would have done anything to convince you to stay.

I weep for the stories left untold
I weep for my children you'll never hold
I weep for a smile faded from view
I weep for the smiles I saved just for you
I weep for the yesterdays to be redone
I weep for the morrows we would have won

But mostly these days, I weep for me
and how things could have been and would be.

Just one more time to hear your mirth
while you walked still with me on Earth
Just one more time to touch your hand
and side by side together stand
To this time let my love flow out
so that you'd never feel a doubt.

But life's not that kind and now that you're dead
I think of things I wish I had said
So I'm saying them now for the world to hear
I love you my da.  I miss you my dear.

I know I can't change the way things were then
so, I try to look for you in all men
I used to throw my arms to the sky 
and plead for a reason why you had to die
These days instead I look at the stars up above
and know you are there and know you are loved.  

Untitled  February 11, 1987

Oh, I could be 
more like you

But why is it that you 
are not more like me?

This world needs
more of love
and roundness
and less of the 
harsh angularity
that is you.

The Cradle March 4, 1987

I stare at the empty cradle
and wonder if I will ever fill it
push it and watch
as it rocks lonely
in the dust

In my head 
I hear the squall
of generations.

And I sit
and rock
arms crossed
hollow of life
and understand

For I am the cradle.

Old Nuggets Pt 2

In Honor of Dreams September 18, 1985

Rhinestones and cobwebs
Mudpies in porcelain
Reaching.  Not touching
All things that have been

Dreams whirl like sandstorms
throughout my brain
ripping and tearing.
And yet, there's no pain.

Dewdrops on candlelight
Bologna with cheese
Migraines and sweet smells
that float on the breeze.

All keep my company
into the morn
Only on waking 
from me are torn

And yet I remember
in odd kinds of tides
and try to discover
the meaning they hide.

Untitled     March 22, 1986

It's so dark
with only flashing lights
reflected in the mirrors.

Billy Joel croons an old tune
that I only vaguely hear

For I find my eyes and thoughts
riveted on you.

I would love to reach across the table
and touch you

but the more I think about it
the wider the table becomes
and I know my arms are no longer
of a length to span the distance 
between us.  

Old Nuggets Pt1

Some of us are born writers our souls spilling over words.   So today I am perusing the old stuff - the embarrassing stuff I wrote when I was in my teens and 20's mining for any little gold nugget that might have spilled out.  Books and books and books of  drivel :-) but it is my drivel.  There were a few in there that I liked even 20 something years later.  

To Paul   August 12, 1983

We fit together like ducks and water.  

Yet I'm a lone duck on the water
even when I am with you.  
Cool photo by Jeremias Stelter.
More of his work here
Go check it out.  

I cannot have you to hold
No, you slip through my fingers
like so many droplets of water

You are simply to admire 
for your clarity
and sincere simple beauty
to glide along your surface

Only sometimes will I venture
beneath your surface
to sound the depths of you

For you are deep
and I, alas,
am not a good swimmer.  

Untitled 1984-5

I know I am a fool
For every time I look
into your eyes
I see the same thing

And I know it's not the same
for you as me

Your soul's not there

And when you catch me looking
I turn away
and tell you nothing's wrong. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Ten years ago I was diagnosed with cancer.  In the aftermath of that, my life crumbled down to nothing but a pile of ashes.  I was stripped down to my essence and given an opportunity to change everything - which after much whining and wailing - I did.  When I look around today a lot of the blessings are a direct product of that time.  

I am thinking about that time because I find myself in a similar position sifting thru the ashes trying to decide what stays and what goes.  Not trying to force it to be different.  Not mooning for what has been lost.  But just sitting calmly and knowing that what comes from this will be as beautiful as the last time.  Dreaming new dreams, re-dreaming old ones.  Spinning out a blanket of seeds to sustain me for the next ten years.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Clean Up on Aisle Three

When my helpers are working on someone, they will often instruct me to remove energies that are not helpful.  I then hand them to another one of my helpers under the massage table who sees that they are recycled safely.  At healing circle last night I noticed nearly every practitioner has developed a new MO - they seemed to be imitating this behavior.  Throwing things over their shoulder, or dusting their hands under the table, or flicking their fingers. I watched to see what this was and what happened to it once they did this.  

Most people were intuitively removing dense, intrusive, unwanted and dark energies.  A few however were removing nothing - were just mimicking.  One was actually removing some of the awesome energy being provided to the person on the table.  YIKES!  (My peeps simply set up a tube to catch this and put it back in the person).  I was actually impressed by how much of the oogey stuff the group collectively removed.  ::mucho applause::

The problem here is that they were removing it, but no one knew what to do with it once they had.  They simply flung it away from themselves.  No one was cleaning this crud up.  I watched as a bit of it puddled like oil on the yellowy beige carpet and then sunk into it and disappeared. What kind of way was that to thank Patricia for hosting this, by combing out the oogies and leaving them all over her floor?  It was like watching a baby feed itself for the first time as this shit ended up splattered on the walls and floors or worse, flicked onto another practitioner.  I watched as someone unknowingly did this and the recipient actually flinched slightly when it hit them.  I mean who wouldn't if they were suddenly hit with someone else's crud out of the blue?  DOUBLE YIKES!

Alarmingly some of the nastiness simply snaked its way back up the table legs and back into the person it came from - negating its removal at all.  I started to get a little pissed off at all this irresponsibility.  Like cartoon bull snorting steam kinda pissed off.  

I got a little tap on the shoulder right then from one of the peeps who seemed to think I should do something about this.  OK OK OK.  Thankfully it was followed by a tug on my pant leg.  I looked down to find Dobby (Yes the house elf from HP) who offered to clean it up as we went and help dispose of it properly.  Thank you for this generosity.

On my way home my peeps and I had a talk and they think this is a great opportunity to talk about the safe disposal of negative energies to the circle.  They even suggested creating a place for it to go for the entire group.  I love smartness. 

Healing Community

I have been part of a communal Reiki healing group for the last eight or nine years.  You would think I might remember the exact date, but I don't.  It is part of what I coaxed out of the ashes that were my life at that point.  While most of the people who were attending when I started, or who trained with me have drifted away from it, I keep coming back.  I wonder why that is?  

If you ask my astrologer, she would laugh and tell you of course I want a community - my south node is in Aquarius which is all about community.  It is what is familiar, what I know already.  But the challenge for this life is in my Leonine north node - stepping out and being seen. ::shudder:: Yup that's a hard one.  

I found friendship at a time when I needed it.  Friends who shared my interest in things mystical and inexplicable.  As I look about me today - most of my close friends have come to me thru this group either directly or in that friend of a friend kinda way.  The ones who haven't, came to me thru the other great love of my life - science.  ::insert secret science nerd salutation here::

I meet myself there in the small circle.  What I get out of any particular evening is often related to what I bring in.   But generally I leave feeling a lot better than when I arrived.  And on the odd night that I don't, I get a chance to practice compassion.

I get a chance to practice lots of things that I am not very skilled at - primary among these is boundaries and self-protection.  The group shifts from month to month as far as who is there.  Some I relate to more easily, while others are just gritting-my-teeth hard for me.   It is the perfect environment in which to experiment with how to keep the oogies off of me.  

For a long time, I hoped that the group would evolve into something different - something (to my way of thinking) higher, better, faster, stronger.   For a while I tried to push the evolution in the direction that I wanted rather than let it unfold organically and just be whatever it was going to be.  When I was unsuccessful I got angry and resentful at the members who seemed to stand in my way and stopped going.  All because I couldn't control it.  Couldn't have my way.  OMG - I have to laugh at that childishness now.  But not too loudly because I still struggle with reconciling the vision of what the group could be v what the group is.  These days I try to hold that 'what it could be' in my heart in a soft focused kinda way while I just enjoy what it is right now.  

I have accepted that this is a place of beginnings - just like it was for me.  There is a certain energy to beginnings that I like, a certain new baby love for them. Maybe that is what keeps me coming back.

Maybe I simply return to honor the gifts that I receive there.  

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Different Orbits

We walk back to the car pausing to stare up at a clear November sky made for dreaming.  His arm riding lightly around my shoulders, mine about his waist.  We have been disagreeing, but have called a momentary truce to witness such an evening.  This silence feels a balm after that contentiousness. 

He offers to give me the moon as if he is the earthly successor to George Bailey himself.  As if I couldn’t get the moon for my own damn self if I wanted it.  I know it is a gesture on his part of what he is willing to give me.  But the moon – really? 

I am a woman.  I was born with the moon in my pocket.  She has been my confidant since conception. She has followed me since I was born watching, waiting.  Eager for me always like a lover.  Every month we have danced together, she and I, as sisters, naked to the drums – faster and faster until the blood comes.  The very celebration of blood that creates the world instead of destroying it.  Give me the moon?  Why would you offer to give me something I so clearly possess already?  Besides, you can’t give me something you have no idea how to wrangle.  And it is plenty clear that you understand neither of us. 

And so I ask, Why do you not offer me the sun?  

He looks puzzled as if that line has always gotten him laid in the past and that I am the first to question it.  I stand waiting for his answer which comes in the form of spread hands and shrugged shoulders.  A look so pathetically cute, that I throw him a bone instead of blowing his hair back.  The evening has seen enough fighting.  Instead I sigh and try to explain.   

I don’t want to be the moon to your sun.  That is the old way – the way that we have been for two thousand years – the way that doesn’t work.  I don’t want to be the one who shines no light of her own, the one who simply reflects your greatness back to you. 

He looks confused, I sense he isn’t following the metaphor. 

I don’t want to be relegated to being the moon stuck in orbit to your sun.  I want to be my own sun and moon.  To make my own light. To reflect back all the wonderful things I see in the world including you.  I want to be my own solar system, my own galaxy, a cosmos entire unto itself.

Now he just looks tired, a look I have seen many times.  His tiredness becoming a shield against any further discussion.  The end is coming.  We both sense it.  So we both go back to contemplating the moon each in our own world, thoughts incomprehensible to the other.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Evening 2AM First Snow

Just like that winter has crept in and laid a blanket of snow on my world inciting me to curl up and go to sleep.  It came at the end of a day busy with family and was preceded by gale force winds so that when I stepped outside a moment ago, I was genuinely surprised by the unexpectedness of quiet and snow.  It will be gone by tomorrow when the shoppers swarm out for Black Friday.  They will have missed it, opting instead for early bed so as to make the early alarm.  I am content to be awake, to simply be in this moment right now.  

Ward Cleaver - GO HOME!

I was talking to a friend recently and trying to describe the kinds of men I was meeting through online dating. First of all the age thing. At 49, I am hoping to meet someone close to my age give or take 5 years. However, the men my age generally want someone in their 20's or 30's and the ones who want to meet me are 10-15 years my senior. I don't understand that AT ALL. Why would you want to be with someone you have nothing in common with? I have no inherent problem with either of those, it's just that a man who is in his 60's grew up in a different era and is looking for someone who is clearly not this girl. Making sweeping generalizations here:

1) They are sometimes technophobic. I don't know how they even get online to look for dates they are so awful at it. They are marginal at the art of email. And texting - they don't do that! WTF!?! I channel my inner 19 year old diva . I love texting.

2) They LOVE to talk on the phone. Grrrrrr......I hate the phone except for its lovely ability to text. I think this one is more me than them. But I especially struggle trying to talk to someone on the phone that I have never met in person. And I certainly don't want to talk to you for hours every day if I have never met you or even if I have met you and we are dating. I have a life and other things to do.  I have met a guy or two who was such a great conversationalist that an hour or two flew by while we talked, but that is a rarity.  

3) They are kinda boring. Were they not encouraged to have hobbies? No TV watching does not count as a hobby. I dunno. In that regard I find them generally snor-ey. When I ask you for some ideas about what to do, you should be able to have at least one.  Also, YOU are not so interesting of a topic as to occupy an entire evening's conversation.  Trust me on this one.

4) They don't know who they are. Not really. They know nothing about what makes them tick. Nor are they interested in looking. Nope they want to skate through without ever giving it a thought. This is just unacceptable to me. How do you build a relationship with someone if you have no awareness of your own junk?

5) They want the whole 1950's life they grew up with on TV. June Cleaver in the kitchen or cleaning in her impossibly small waisted dress, CFM heels and pearls while Ward sits on the couch watching TV and sipping on the perfect scotch rocks with his feet up. It's as if they missed the whole sexual revolution and women's movement. This is the same guy who will go on and on about how he could never respect a woman he could sleep with on the first date who will then proceed to push for exactly that! And when you point out the absolute hypocrisy of their words and their actions they will shrug and say "I'm a guy" as if this will make it all understandable.

After that, I so understand why women become cougars.

NB - If you are a dude reading this, don't get your knickers in a bunch.  I do know some amazing men who are not like this. Thank God. You guys give me hope that there maybe a few available still.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winter Windows

Every winter I go through the same thing.  My apartment has ginormous windows and high ceilings which make me dance in sunbeams during the spring, summer and fall.  The windows, so lovely in those seasons, become my enemy during the winter.  The 1960's crap-ass replacement windows leak and let out my heat.  And my puritanical self won't allow the thermostat to creep above 67-68' cuz it understands all too well what that translates to when the Duke bill comes.

So what's a freezing magnolia to do?  I thought for a second about heavy insulating curtains.  ZOIKES!  During the season of limited light, how could I do something to the windows that would result in basically no light?  There would be no dancing behind them in the dark winter shadows those would create.  I may hate cold, but a true magnolia loves her light more than she hates cold.  I tried the 3M shrink wrap my first winter.  But come spring there was no way to get it off so I could enjoy the breezes without destroying the painted sills.  Uh-oh!  The second winter I closed off the spare oom which is the smallest, but has the most window/wall space.   That was a big mistake.  It threw off the feng shui of the whole place and I can't remember a winter worse than that one for blah-ness.  

Last winter I discovered something useful on eco-green insulation.  I am all for that.  Bonus the materials were cheap.  The installation was easy and reuseable year after year.  YAY!  What is this mystery window treatment you ask?  Why it is bubble wrap.  LOL.  You read that right.  You simply wet the window with a sponge and apply the bubble wrap to the window with the bubbles toward the window.  I firmed the whole thing up with a bit of tape.  Big bubbles work best - yunno the quarter size ones that sound like a shotgun v the smaller ones that sound like firecrackers.  You bubble popping addicts know what I mean here.  I did one 8' X 4' and one 6' X 4' windows in about an hour.  

In the end, it doesn't look very pretty from the outside, but it does let in light and it snugs a room up right quick without destroying the paint job or taking hours and blowing up a perfectly good hair dryer.  

A Sorting Hat

Doesn't Daniel Radcliffe look so sweet in this photo?  

Anyway......where was I before I skittered off the track?  Oh yeah - the sorting hat.  I was standing in line Friday night, opening night, for HP Deathly Hallows Pt1 with my friend Patricia.  Or maybe she has nipped over to Dewey's for pizza while she waits?  Dunno.  Anyway I am people watching which is all one can do in this situation.  Trying not to overhear loud cell phone conversations or personal discussions going on in the adjacent space to me.  Trying to carve out a little space that is mine and erect imaginary walls to those meaningless rants and drivel.  It's a crab thing - this need for space.  Sue me.  

Anyway, there is a 20 something couple standing in front of us - tall, beautiful and giving off little wafts of such sweet energy that I just want to hug them.  Maybe because I am standing in line for HP, maybe because folks are dressed in their house colors, maybe because I have been giving Patricia shit for not wearing the Slytherin scarf she has - probably all those things - I suddenly want to sort the people in line into their respective houses while they wait.  (Which. in retrospect, would have been a very entertaining marketing tool to allow people to sit on a stool and be sorted).  The couple in front of me a - he is a Hufflepuff and a she is a Gryffindor.  And just like that I am off and intuitively sorting them in my head.  

As much as I would like to be a Gryffindor, I know I am a Ravenclaw (or maybe something in between - a Ravendor a Gryffinclaw??), Mizz Patricia is a Slytherin by her choice and on up the line 2 Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Gryffindor, etc.  It was quite a pleasant diversion to standing in line for an hour (I hate that!!).  

Oh I put no stock in this diversion because, like Dumbledore says, "I sometimes think we sort too soon."  Or that we should be sorted at all really.  What if we were free to choose our house from year to year.  Sample what each house has to offer and THEN choose the path?  Or create a path that is a combination of all houses?  

Anyway that is how I entertained myself for an hour.  BTW - I think I will stick with this hat.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

A J Among P's

So it's been two weeks since I walked out of the lab that had been my home for 24 years. I can't say I am homesick for it although I do miss the intellectual-ness of being among the nerd herd. Miss the challenge to stretch and grow my brain trying to figure stuff out. Yeah - there's lots of stuff in my life to figure out, but little of it follows the rules the way science does. Those things are more emotional/spiritual and don't respond well AT ALL to reason. In fact, thinking about any of it for too long rarely yields a blinding insight into any of it. What it does is create excellent migraines.

There is a certain satisfaction in figuring stuff out for me. I am a classic J in that regard. Yunno Meyers-Briggs kinda thing. I am an INFJ. That last means judger (J) v perceiver (P). A judger likes rules and order, likes to have plans and know what's coming. And this part of my life is all full of directionless P-ness. ZOIKES! There is no order and very little in the way of planning, all of which causes me a bit of angst. The perceiver likes to examine all their options, likes to leave things open and just see what happens. That sounds a Mary unfriedly place to me.

I was OK last week, when there was the trip to VA to plan, details to clean up, actual cleaning up that needed doing. This week has felt all full of P. And I find that I have floated through an entire week without doing anything. There is nothing wrong with that, in fact a certain amount of nothingness is good. But I know me and know how a bit of nothingness can easily turn into 6 months of it. And I am not gonna have that.

I was listening to some beautiful gong-y music this morning from my friend Fabeku when it kinda settled in like a warm blanket. Yes this place is P to the extreme. But it doesn't have to stay that way. I can choose to carve a bit of order from the day rather than let it all just float around me. That the rules and scheduling that have mostly been provided by the presence of a job can be brought in and created - BY ME! I hate rules and scheduling, but somehow I need to have those to bump up against to feel comfortable.

Maybe I will learn to be a bit more P for having this experience, but for now a bit of self-imposed schedule seems in order.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Catching Courage

Fast write from the prompt 'Women catch courage from other women'......

Interesting thought that. I think of things contagious as mostly negative. The flu is contagious. So is a bad mood. Fear and hate - absolutely. Why not contagious courage? Contagious laughter? I have definitely seen the latter at Laughter Yoga where the laughing starts out forced and awkward but shifts more and more toward deep conscious laughter originating from the belly.

If courageousness were contagious would it start in that same awkward way? The same sense of 'I can't do that because everyone is watching me' followed by 'Oh wait. They're all being courageous too, so they probably won't notice me.' So it feels safe to take a step in that direction. Step by step until we each step into that place of personal courage - the place where stories are written and shared without consciousness of self. The place of WHAT THE FUCK where writers thrive. I do believe that is exactly what happens here [at WWfaC].

It has happened to me many times - that leap or tiny step into the place of fearlessness. And what seems like courage when I finally get there is really just being me and nothing more.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Crabs in a Bucket

It's been a crab bucket kinda day. 
Yunno what I mean? 
One where no matter how hard I try 
to gain purchase and climb outta the funk 
there is always someone or something 
grabbing at my ankle to yank me back down?

I try to shake it off, 
but the grip is too strong.  
Down I go back into the writhing 
sea of claws and shell.  

    I rest.  And then I try again. 

Evolution of a Call

I got a phone call this afternoon.

A couple years ago,
that phone call would have
made my heart race, my palms
get clammy and my stomach 
launch a flock of butterflies.
I loved the way that felt then.

A year ago
when the calls stopped coming
the silence sliced my heart 
and the butterflies died.

Six months ago, I would not
have taken the call.

Today I took it
Waiting for butterflies
or knives
and found neither came.
I waited for the tears
they didnt come either.  

It was as if a stranger called.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Scaling New Heights

Some of you know that I am deathly afraid of heights.  Even watching someone I care about scamper up an escarpment or walk too close to the edge is enough to make me weak-kneed enough to have to sit down.   Trips to the Badlands, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Royal Gorge, Tintagel Castle.  Each of these have challenged me.  But I am stubborn enough that I try it anyway even though it feels like doing so is going to give me heart failure.  

I have been trying to conquer that, but it is slow going.

When I passed this cool old train trestle I made note of it in my mind so I could come back and walk across it.  I absolutely was going to do that.  By the time I got back to it, my internal fear monger had tried its best to make me choose not to.  This is how things often play out.  I want to try something, but the fear monger shows me possibility after possibility of certain embarrassment or death as a result.  What if there is no hand railing?  It kept asking.  Then showing me a picture of me stumbling and tumbling over the edge.  I admit I have balance issues.  I once fell into a garbage can at work when I turned around too fast and lost my footing.  That does lend a certain air of credulity to his view of possibilities.  

But I could feel something rise up in rebellion against this view of myself as clumsy.  I said NO.  I don't acknowledge your world view to the monger.  Handrails?  I don't care.  Openings between the rail ties so that you can see the ground?  I don't care.  Possibility of meeting a train?  I don't care.  Falling off?  I don't care.  I AM DOING IT.  

And so I did.  

Of course it had a hand rail - you can see it in the photo......but you can also see me in the photo waving to the cowed fear monger.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Steele Creek Park Bristol, VA 11/10

I was in this park on Friday to snag a letterbox, went back to the hotel and found there was another one there.  Such is letterboxing with reams of printed clues - there are always a few that get shuffled out of place.  The park was so beautiful, that a second trip was no hardship.  

So at 9AM on Sunday I found myself back in this little gem of a park.  It is one of the most photogenic parks I have ever seen with the slow moving wide creek sandwiched between two steep valley walls.  The perfect stillness of the water made for some stunning reflections.  So I grabbed my camera and tried to capture the tiny spots of color that remained.  

As I walked down the dewy ridge, focusing on my feet on the steep hill so that I didn't wind up on my ass, I was startled a bit by a sound overhead that sounded like someone breaking down cardboard boxes.  I tried to think of a more lyrical description, but that is what it sounded like.  When I looked up, I saw a small flock of geese about five feet over my head.  Some rocking sharply right to left.  I couldn't even be disappointed that they rippled the still reflective surface upon landing.  This was morning joy.  

The water calmed.  I snapped some photos.  An old female grey goose honked stridently as I neared her, the sound bouncing off the opposing valley wall.  I stopped moving toward her so as not to annoy her any further (mad geese are not very nice and prone to bite).  She stopped honking.  Then I heard them answer at first far away but growing closer.  More geese flying in.  Greeted by massive honking from those already floating the lake.  

The geese grew restful once more, the lake resumed its stillness.  More photos ensued.  Then the old female started her braying honking again.  None of the others - just her.  A group of two or three geese flew in answering as they came.  This cycle repeated many times while I sat there.  The old female acting as a major domo to announce the incoming guests.  The guests calling out greetings as they flew in.  Then all the geese on the lake entering in a rousing chorus of honking their Hellos.  They arrived in small groups of twos and threes and in large flying V groups from a general northerly direction.  All were greeted equally.  

Some groups flew in elegantly and looped to make their graceful landing.  Some groups made the ruffling noise that had caught my attention at the beginning.  As far as I can tell it was caused by the quick shifts from right to left.  This seemed to slow them down.  So perhaps the older geese knew better how much speed to carry into the perfect landing, while the younger geese with their need for speed had to make the right-left-right adjustments to take off speed so as not to plow into the water.  

I was glad to have the time today to spend there just watching and for being part of their morning ritual.  The old goose that made the announcements never did honk at me, nor did she chase me away like geese will sometimes do.  She recognized I was not one of them, but she allowed me to stay anyway.  It was a beautiful way to spend a Sunday morning in communion with the geese.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Goldie Magnola Dye

Let me start by saying I am not a proficient liar.  I tend to stammer and look guiltier than a 4 year old caught with their hand in the cookie jar.  But maybe, just maybe, I am getting better at it.  Not that I think that a good thing.  

Today I spent the day tooling thru windy roads looking for tiny little churches and of course Tupperware.  Most of these were easy enough to acquire, but a few required uber-stealth mode.  Unlike suburbanites or hardened urban folks who have taught themselves to see nothing, people in the country are innately suspicious of people lurking and diving into the shrubs which any good letterboxer worth their weight is prone to do.  I missed at least 2 boxes for this reason - people watching me a little too closely.  And had one near miss.  A beautiful little white clapboard church in the valley outside Abingdon, VA.  

I sat in my car reading the clue so I could at least leave that behind.  The box in question was located right next to the front door.  The problem here was that the front door was only about 10 feet from a fairly busy intersection.  So I was having problems timing the retrieval so that there were no cars to see me.  I did eventually nab it.  Stamped in in my car and was just stuffing all the guts back in it, when I saw a frail little woman headed purposefully in my direction.  Great.  How was I to get the box back where it goes without her seeing me?

She was very polite and asked if she could help me.  I told her that I was touring the area looking at little old churches  and I just wanted to photograph the church because it was so beautiful.  I talked about the steeple, the rolled tin green roof and the way it sat against the blue sky.  All the while I am wishing she would go away so I could re-plant the dang box and get on with it.  She seemed satisfied with my overt lies.  Maybe I overdid it a bit because then she asked if I wanted to see the inside.  Uh-oh!  Here was the price I was gonna pay for the lies.  I said 'Of course'.  And off she went into her house NEXT DOOR to get the keys.  While she was gone I stashed the box where it belongs while sitting on the step in front.  Then I used the age-old letterboxer's ploy of pretending to tie my already tied shoe.  That is how she found me when she returned.  Sitting and seemingly tying my shoe.  

She gave me the grand tour of this tiny little church that was quite unremarkable on the inside, despite its lovely exterior.  I feel like a complete poser in most places of Christian worship given that I no longer believe in that.  And now - a lying poser on top of it.  The kind of person who would lie to an old lady no less.  Oh it got worse.  I wish I could say that I didn't think 'Shut up already, so I can go', but I absolutely thought that.  Then something weird happened.  I stopped shifting from foot to foot.  Stopped thinking about my own agenda and the daylight that was rapidly waning and the boxes I would have to tick off my list because of this delay and I started really listening to her - being present to this woman as she told me, a complete stranger, her story.  

So that is how I came to meet one Goldie Magnola Dye of Greendale, VA.  I learned that she took care of the church and did indeed live next door.  Had lived next door for over 50 years.  That her name came from her grandmother who died shortly after she was born.  That she had seven children - one of whom died at 13.  That she had been a widow for over 30 years.  And that her husband had worked in Winchester, KY.  (This after astutely guessing I was from Kentucky - even though I am sans twang).  At 91, she still cleaned out the church.  Her son helped her out with the raking and mowing.  And that the rusted car in her yard with the tarp over it belonged to him.  

When I took the time to truly listen to her, I found I liked her.  This courageous lady who fiercely confronted strangers lurking near her church.  The last room on our tour was far and away the best.  This room was full of potted plants of all sorts - shamrocks, begonias, a few tired looking geraniums, Christmas cacti, even a few leggy poinsettas blooming in mid-November.  We talked about shamrocks and people we knew from Ireland.   This was her room.  Goldie fingering each plant, turning some, pinching off some dead leaves from others.  Soft, filtered light caught her at this task and I wanted so to take her picture because she was so beautiful standing there among her flowers in that moment.  Like a Vermeer.  But it seemed too rude to do to someone I knew.  I could lie to the stranger, but Goldie deserved to be asked.  

I did ask if I could take her picture (I will post that on here when I get home) and she seemed shocked that I would want to, but agreed.  It is not the candid picture I wanted, but I am glad to have it because it reminds me that everyone's story needs to be heard.  

Mean Girls Are Never Pretty

Mom's sojourn in Memory Care ended when she could no longer stand and became what they term a 2-assist.  She transitioned to Skilled C...