Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Project Day 31

Whew!  Today is the last day of the formal finding beauty in small things project that has been January.  It's been a struggle to find something every day.  I may or may not continue.  I entertain the notion of an entire year, but who knows.

Today I got some slides back from Pathology that were stained for me.  Among them I found this part that I found exceptionally beautiful in the way organic things generally are to me.  It's like a VanGogh made just for me.  But then you can judge for yourself.

The squeamish should stop reading now.

Like right now.

I am not kidding.

This photo is of a mouse's ass.  Hey.  I figure if I can find beauty there, I can find it anywhere.

I warned you to stop reading.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013

January Project Day 28

I am a snob about things I like.  Nothing else will do and I would rather go without than not have my favorite brand of something.  It's how I'm made.  To settle for something less than makes me crabby and the whole time I am comparing what I have to what I love and finding it lacking.  Some people say picky, I say discerning. 

My favorite coffee is sold at a local coffee chain.  It comes out once a year in late winter and disappears in a matter of weeks.  My local store has a wait list.  Now, since we're talking coffee here, you must know the girl is NOT doing without that if she can't get her fave.  That is insane talk right there.

I learned the hard way over the last few years how much I need and when to start looking.  Not buying enough - horror!  Missing the window of opportunity - Yikes!  I need about 6-7 bags to make it through the year, or most of the way through it anyway.  Late winter finds me cruising the coffee place and stashing beans like the squirrels in my yard do their nuts when I find it.  Yes, I could reserve it, but I would miss the thrill of the hunt that way. 

Last year I missed it completely and I had to make do with various other kinds of bean, which isn't all bad.  I had to sample and hunt around for a replacement and that's how I found a Costa Rican blend from Fresh Market I like a lot too.  It had a quetzal on the label - that's how they got me.  That's how they always get me with their sparkley and colorful baubles. 

Today, I scored my year's supply of bean and that is a beautiful thing.  All those bags of bean just sitting in the cupboard waiting for their turn to please me. 

Cuppa Joe anyone? :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January Project Day 27

Old boots.

I'm retiring my favorite pair of boots today.  They have a tear between the sole and the uppers that cannot be repaired.  I love these boots.  Love them even more in their brokendownness.  I have worn them with the tear for a while now, but it is now so large that my feet get cold or wet through the vent.

I found them on Amazon one day.  There they just were.  Fuzzy.  Beribboned.  Flat.  And mismatched.  And in my size.  I wear a women's size 11, so that last is no small thing - literally.  It was their mismatchedness that made me pull out my wallet and go for it.  I also ordered a red tartan pair, but I don't like those as well.  (Translation - not at all).

I was skeptical that they would be what I envisioned.  I was right.  They were way better.  I wore them every day for the first winter I owned them.  I am like a toddler in that regard who must have their favorite shirt/shoes/sock/whatev or tantrums ensue.  The next winter, I could see some wear and tear and eased up to make them last a bit longer.  This winter, five years later, I have worn them only a handful of times.  I love them just as much as I did that first day I slipped them on.

Somehow these boots just get me and I them.  Retiring them will suck.  It will leave a hole in my shoe rack that needs filling.  I am not sentimental about shoes.  But these are not just shoes.  They are magic.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January Project Day 26

I don't know what this is, but it fascinates me.  I find it exceptionally beautiful.  The colors.  The raised texture that I can feel through my shoes.

It's like a map to a secret land no one knows about, charting river deltas.

It has a distinctly organic look that speaks to me.  I am not one for chrome, steel and robots.  I need flesh.

Friday, January 25, 2013

January Project Day 25

I pass this storm drain lid every day.  I have no idea why it is/was painted green.  I find it oddly beautiful despite its motley coloration.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January Project Day 24

I was walking through the tunnels on the way to the parking garage, trying to stay warm when I saw this shut off valve.  I was taken by its reflective surface and the imprint I found upon it.

I've probably walked by it a thousand times, but never really seen it until today.  I am struck by the way my hands holding my phone seem to cradle the insignia - a sideways heart.

My heart is rather sideways these days and I am holding it as tenderly as I can.

A Bed in Oceanside

Something today, perhaps my morning poem by Ted Kooser, reminded me of visiting my Grami in Oceanside,CA when I was in my 20's.  My grandfather had passed away a couple years before and she lived in their condo by herself.  She was not my favorite person in the world growing up, too stern for my taste, but I wanted to have a chance to see her again before she passed from here. 

I paid for the trip and flew out by myself.  I felt decidedly grown up by doing that.  It was my first taste of solo freedom long-distance style.  I can remember being a bit scared.  It was only my second time in a plane.  Mostly I remember being excited, thrilled really, when the wheels of that plane finally tucked up under my butt and we were airborne.  

My Grami was a horrendous driver.  In her 80's she scared the beejesus out of me as she drove us back from San Diego to Oceanside along the freeway.  Thanks gawd for bumper to bumper, I'm pretty sure it saved my life that day.  Lest you think I lie, her way of stopping the car in the garage was to hit the back wall which bore an unmistakeable indentation in the shape of her car!  Eventually, I would just drive us where we needed to go.  That was better and we both survived. 

Mellowed with age, she was not the formidable and frightening woman I knew as a child.  That was good as part of my fear had been of her forcing me to clean and eat rhubarb sauce while on vacation the way she did when I was younger.  Our week mostly followed her routine with much of it being spent at a local priory for mass and volunteer work.  We watched TV and when it came time to turn in she insisted I sleep in her room in the other bed rather than use the pullout couch in the other bedroom where I would have been both more and less comfortable.  I couldn't sway her from that.  It seemed improtant so I did it.  For the first few days, it creeped me out to sleep in the bed where my Grampa had slept when he was alive.  But then I started to imagine being able to absorb some of his molecules and I rested easier. 

A Bed in Oceanside

she nuzzles the pillow
tries to blot out the soft snoring
from the bed next to her

instead rolls over
stares at the ceiling
counts tiles and thinks of Guadalupe

resting in the bed of her dead Grampy
was not her idea, never her idea
she wanted the pullout with
the kidney-killing metal bar
heart full of resentment, head full of no
she lies there

she focuses on her breath the way
the yogi taught her
in and out
in and out
and oooooout

she lets go resentment, lets go snoring, lets go no
and in its place she inhales
she inhales evening dark and old lady air and dust motes
she inhales molecules expelled long ago
from that other person who slept here

those molecules inhaled work their way in
become part of her
and in some way it bothers her less
to sleep where he slept. 
it feels more than that
it just feels right

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22, 2013

Today is the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

I was a tender 11 years old when the Supreme Court ruled on this.  An 11 year old enrolled in Catholic elementary school and encouraged to wear the sharp-edged metal bracelet and to pass out literature on the downtown streets in my school plaid to show my opposition to this.  Truth be told, I had no idea what I was protesting more than what I had been told - that abortion was "killing babies" which seemed bad to my eleven year old self (That notion of killing babies still feels bad to my fifty one year old self.  But I notice people are much more interested in the death of babies in utero than they are in the death of babies after they are born and that seems the great oxymoron of this debate to me.)  I had to hunt the internet to find a picture of the bracelet which was so butt ugly.

I don't know who thought this was a good idea anyway, to set suburban Catholic girls free on the streets of downtown Cincinnati to protest something of which they had no personal knowledge, but it was not a good one.

I am appalled to remember that I did this.

I would never support that as an adult woman, not the idea and certainly not the use of small children to forward it.  In fact, I find the latter shameful and reprehensible.  Children are not meant to be political or religious pawns like that.  I think every woman has the right to choose for herself without judgment.  Children should be allowed to be children and to make decisions about what they support ideologically when they reach an age to do so.

 Most of you might be surprised to learn that I am personally very pro-life.  That is my choice.  What someone else chooses, that's up to them.  I do not want or feel the need to dictate that for someone else. Nor would I judge someone who made a decision to terminate a pregnancy.  A few of my friends have done it and it matters not one bit to me.  I still love them.  I don't think they are going to hell or any such nonsense.  On a different day and under similar circumstances, I might have chosen to do the same.

So maybe what rankles me the most is the idea that the eleven year old girl didn't get a choice not to pander literature or wear that cuff of women's slavery.

January Project Day 22

January is a cold month.
This week the coldest yet.
It's also dark
but the light is returning
ever so slowly
So, I take comfort in 
lighting a candle 
against the dark 
and the cold.

Monday, January 21, 2013

January Project Day 21

Today I had a whole day 
just to spend on me.  
Is there anything better than that?
I think not.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The January Project Day 20

One thing I have learned from being close to someone with Alzheimer's and being drawn into their struggle daily is that fussing makes things worse and laughing makes everything easier.  That a good laugh is like a good shit after a long constipation.  You just feel lighter and bouncier.  OK maybe t's not EXACTLY like that, but close enough.

So today's beautiful thing is laughter - the most powerful energy to get things moving.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January Project Day 19

I love driving home along 
Columbia Parkway at night
where the lamp lights lie
like pearls along the throat
of the Queen City.

Friday, January 18, 2013

January Project Day 17

There is nothing more beautiful
than seeing my mom
peek out from under her lashes
and knowing she is in there.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Project Day 16

Yes, I skipped a day.  Sue me.

Today is Wednesday, the first night of a new semester at Women Writing for a Change.  The first Wednesday of a new semester in which I am not enrolled.  Booooo.  My choice not to with so many overwhelming things in my life going on.  The pressure to produce writing for class was more than I could imagine.  Still there is a beautiful ache in not being there tonight.

I will not be there when the circle is completed on this first night, not be there when the energy seals them in snugly.  

I will miss the hush that holds the empty space so elegantly between the poem and the chime.  

I will miss the way Laurie's rings clink against the bowl as she turns it in her hands.

I will miss the "good" chair.  

I will miss the way the candle illuminates Cassie's face as she reaches for the candle.  

I will miss Linda's funny school stories and Kim's cookies.

I will miss holding the candle, joining my fire to its own or borrowing a little when I have none.  

I will not be there to hear Jane's soft-spoken wisdom in few words.

I will miss Terri's tenderness and Mary W-C's laughter.

I will not cast my words into the circle, nor will I feed off the words of others to the point of sleeplessness.  

I will be forever outside the circle this semester looking in.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January Project Day 14

"It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness" 

Yesterday was tough.  It required deep self care and to be away from all things that might deepen my grief.

I lit a single candle against the impinging darkness and prayed.

I didn't pray that my mom get better.

I prayed that I handle the situation with more compassion.

Somedays all I can do is light that candle.  Yesterday was a candle lighting kinda day, hence the delayed post.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January Project Day 13

Overcast sky
reflected into 
a steel grey river
that snakes 
along the boundaries

A couple years ago, I was involved in a conscious writing project called a River of Stones that required me to make one focused observation, one small stone, and write about it.  I fell in love with this practice of writing.  When I feel stuck as shit, I find that if I close my eyes and take a couple of deep breaths, when I open my eyes I see things from a different prospective - a plate on edge rather than en face.  And that from this place even common things become more beautiful to me.  If I can squeak out one small stone, it's often enough to break the bottleneck of words and the flow was restored.  Perhaps it's the size.  Things that are small in our culture have little value.  That is our intellectual undoing.  Nature shows us over and over how a big thing can be felled by something small.  For instance:

The smallest vertebra is the atlas.  Ironically it is the one with the largest range of motion and the very critical job of supporting our oversize noggins.    

The human population of the world can be undone by a critter you can't even see.  The Spanish Flu, the Plague, AIDS, Ebola.  Undone by something we STILL can't figure out how to beat.  

Depending on your leanings, that a poor Jewish carpenter would change the world, or a holy man under a bodhi tree, or a failed young Bavarian painter.  

No.  It is the smallest of things that undoes us.  
A small stone is so much bigger than it appears

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The January Project Day 12

I woke this morning to unseasonal warm spring-like temps and drove my car to the service place where it needed only an oil change (WOOT!).  I'm not an early bird by nature, but I recognize that some things are worth getting out of bed to see.  Sunrise.  Collections of crows.

This morning I was treated to one of my favorite atmospheric conditions, low lying fog that sits in the Ohio River Valley.  It it just beautiful and mysterious and quite my favorite kind of morning to encounter on a random Saturday in January.

It's like the end of Grease where Sandy and Danny fly off into the cloud bank - only decidedly less cheesy.  You drive down into the valley and into the clouds.  Like a little slice of heaven come to Earth.

January Project Day 11

Yeahyeahyeah, this is yesterday's post that I'm finally getting to.....

I find this blue light and its reflection oddly compelling and beautiful.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January Project Day 10

I discovered the gnome bridge about six months ago.  It is completely magical.  I am always delighted when I drive by and see the ever evolving gnome population that congregates there.  Sometimes I am disappointed to find the gnomes have all vanished.  But they never stay gone for long.  I guess gnomes are just like that.  Sometimes I will even go out of my way to go by it.  And if I stop to photograph it, the neighbors all smile and nod.  Obviously they think it's fun too.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January Project Day 9

Riding in the parking garage elevator this morning, there was a woman complaining about how sore she was from her work out yesterday.  A man next to her congratulated her on sticking to her resolution to work out.  She went on to spout the work out adage that she would be even more sore tomorrow.  The same guy calmly countered with "Yes, but think of how great you will feel in six months."

I was struck by his answer - BOTH times.  Such a lovely way to diffuse the complaining or attention seeking behavior of his friend.  When I stopped and really looked at him he just seemed beautiful.  Oh, not in that culturally imprinted way.  He was barely five foot and older (by which I now mean my age).  None of that BS mattered.  All that mattered was his calm and smiling energy. 

It was a great way to start a day.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

January Project Day 8

There's something intriguing and hauntingly beautiful about dreams.

Take last night for instance....

I dreamed I broke into the house of one of my friend's houses to clean.  The thing that stuck with me all day was the door - a plain white paneled wooden job.  The key to open it (Yes, I had a key.  So not really B & E) was small brass and non-descript as it lay in my palm looking rather like the key to my desk at work actually. 

The lock that the key worked was harder to find.  It sat behind a seamless panel that sprang back when I touched it.  The key itself worked in the lock like a puzzle of sorts.  When I was leaving, I noticed that the door was now a divided Dutch door where the top was only about one foot wide and the bottom was only about two feet wide.  I fit through it, but just barely. 

It was like leaving a Dali painting.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The January Project Day 7

beauty is a simple 
as a calm place 
to end the day 
and a soft place 
to rest your head.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

January Project Day 6

A magical juxtaposition of orange juice 
against robin's egg blue walls.  

The reiteration of eights

.........and speaking of numbers

1550 words written

Full Frontal Confrontation

Not at all sure of days.
Not in the good too-long-on-vacation way
but on the overly-cluttered-rolltop-cubby kind of way

Alzheimers rears its ugly genetic head
pokes me in the flank

Hey you. 
Are you paying attention?
I’m coming for you.
I come for all the women of your line

I got your Grami
I got your Mama
And someday soon
I will get you too.

Then he sidles back over to his current companion,
snugs her close against him to show me
he owns her now. 
I cannot have her back. 

Yes.  I see you.  I say
Yes.  I know who you are.
And you may think I’m your future
But there are many futures 
you ignorant fucktard.

You don’t really know me.
I am the Mistress of the Small
able to hide in plain sight
Good luck finding me when you come. 

And should you luck out
you better be wearing a cup.

Now pack up your confusion
And get the FUCK out.  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The January Project Day 5

I am not a woman who thinks a new pair of shoes cures what ails me.  I do believe there is a pair of red suede booties with a short stacked heel with my name on it somewhere.  So today I went to Shoe Carnival hoping it would be the day that these came into my orbit.  Sadly, no.

But I couldn't help but smile at the toddler trying on a pair of red patent leather shoes with six inch heels and managing to walk down the crowded aisle in them.  Everyone stepped aside to let her by as she weaved and paraded, smiling at her big moment.  A small voice inside me cheering her on.

I don't know what the fascination is that small kids have for trying on shoes that are too big for them.  I can easily remember my own nieces trying on whatever shoes were lying around and clomping around in them.  It didn't matter what kind of shoes they were or whose.

The photo is of my niece Tori proudly wearing her papa's size 16 kicks.  Phil will wear that size forever.  Tori will never be that small again.  Her fascination with Phil's shoes seems to have waned.

But there is something to be remembered in her trying to fill them with her tiny feet.  And maybe that small one in the store today reminded me of every child I have known, even reminding me of my own feeble attempts when I was small to wear a pair of shoes not meant for feet so small.

It was a beautiful moment that made me smile.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The January Project Day 4

To all my non-nerd friends - avert your eyes from this post.  I beg you, before it's too late.

Today's beautiful thing is.......


If you have it and don't need it - what a waste.

If you don't have it and want it, NOTHING beats getting it.

I have been schlepping my way through a veritable throng of mice for the last 6 months or so, trying to figure out how to do inflammation scoring in mouse small bowel.  Why, you ask?  Good question.  This mouse is going to be our model from Crohn's Disease, so it's good to know what you got.

Anyway, it's taken a couple tries to get the scoring system down.  And a couple of runs at the proper conditions.  Today, I hit my happy place as I completed the last, for now, of my slides, churned out the data numbers and VOILA - statistical significance was achieved.  Big happy dance.

Wha?  You don't know what statistical significance is?  It's a measurement of how different things are and the likelihood that it happened by chance or whether some pattern is detected.


Makes for a very happy Friday.

BTW - I warned you.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

January Project Day 3

There's something comforting
about a cat in the window
waiting for someone.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

January Project Day 2

I was a little worried that nothing would appeal to me to blog about today, but TA-DAH!!!

My employer is not renowned for their zen aesthetic.  I was tickled to death when I saw that they had installed these copper rain drip thingys near one of the parking structures.  I could hardly wait to walk by in the rain and hear the soft plinking of water droplets as it moved from basin to basin.

It's taken some major adjustments to get the flow right, the original installation seemed to used them in lieu of a downspout.  But a couple months later, they got it right.  I enjoyed walking by them in the rain.  Hell, I would go out of my way to walk by them when it was raining.  They are little copper water chimes.  No one else seems to see them or hear them which just baffles me.

I had gotten so used to them, that I no longer notice them even when it's raining, which is kinda sad given how much I loved them a few months ago.  

So, I was completely blown away by them tonight as I walked the two blocks to my car.  This is a spectacular kind of beauty. Like one drop suspended in time.  A totally different kind of zen.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January Project

I don't do the resolution thing.  I mean why give my judge any more reason to beat up on me? 

My life over the past year or so has brought some seriously negative energies into my close orbit.  UGH!  I can't really do anything to change that (been down that rabbit hole before and it always ends the same - badly) nor am I really able to create distance between myself and them.  As a result of this close contact, I found myself taking on more and more of this energy.  DOUBLE UGH! 

I know who I am, I know how to represent that to the world.  But I had drifted so far away from my personal truths that I had a small meltdown around Thanksgiving.  I could see it all so clearly.  Could see how these not so subtle energies had been introduced back into my world ever so slowly resulting in a whole cadre of insecure behaviours I thought I had learned to overcome.  I could see the slow slide toward that same place, that same motherfucking dark hole that I had struggled to climb out of years ago.

Somewhere I knew that the best way to overcome this was not by becoming more like the thing I didn't like.  (rabbit hole #2 same result)  But sometimes ya gotta go where ya go and figure it out on the way.  I had to go there.  I didn't like it.  NOT.ONE.BIT. 

After a suitable time of allowing the judge to beat up on me for making this little detour to hell, I called time out

and sat.

I sat.

And I sat.

And I sat some more.

I sat until I could see all the who/what/where/why/how things clearly.  Then, I asked the peeps for help.  It came from the craziest places.  It came unexpectedly in the kindness of strangers.  It came at me in from dear friends who brought me crazy herbs at lunch.  It came at me in my dreams.  It flickered at me in the dark from Zena Moon's winter candle.  Jimmy Stewart brought in an important piece somewhere in about the 387th iteration of It's A Wonderful Life. 

And the shit I had held onto poured out in the writing, venomous pages that seethe and smoke in my notebook.  Pages full of cramped mean-spirited writing so strong, that I can't bear to look at it.  But I am grateful to the page for holding in when I couldn't anymore.  Everyday I feel clearer, I feel more me. 

So to continue to encourage something that is more in line with who I am inside.  Introducing......(Drum roll)......


Angelica Root
This January I am going to try to amend the way I look at the world back toward something positive and life-affirming.  So every day, I'm going to post a photo or a short snippet of something that I see as beautiful for the month of January.  You may not agree with me.  Feel free to post your own stuff in the comments or out in the world.

Today I chose something that came to me during the shift quite unexpectedly, a piece of angelica root.  I am not versed in plant medicine at all.  But I do know something very cool when I see it, when I touch it.  This little root has some total KA-POW in it.  It's beauty to me is in its gifting.  Complete magic.

Chauvet cave lions
Bonus it looks like a cave lion.  And the girl loves her some lion.  Cave lions are extinct, so no photos exist of them on the googles.  THAT gives me the perfect reason to post a piece of cave art which I love.  At left is a panel from the Chauvet caves depicting cave lions.  Same exact energy in both pieces which is perfection and to me beautiful.

Just as an aside Cave of Dreams is now showing on cable.  If you like cave art, check this one out.

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...