Thursday, December 30, 2010

photo flash

Another "next step" for my blog: my photo has been uploaded, taken on 12/26/10 in Bisbee, Arizona. I like to go antiquing there, visit the art shops and galleries, sit and people watch.

As I continue to find out how to expand my blog, I will keep you posted!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

the twelve days

As I get older, I am beginning to get more "in the mood" for the Twelve Days of Christmas, instead of casting all the Light on the one day, December 25th. I was first introducted to this concept when I lived with an Episcopalian professor, Dr. BonnieJean Christenson, back in Sycamore, Illinois. I was a junior at NIU and she was my rhetoric professor, newly widowed. She had young children so I became the live in nanny in return for a room and no rent. So that Christmas (must have been 1969), she hosted a Twelfth Night Celebration and I really liked it.

Since we put up our (artificial) tree only a week before Christmas this year, leaving it up until January 8th (two days past the twelve days, but we won't have time to take it down during the week), makes sense. It also makes sense to just savor this season as long as possible---not shift into fast gear just because it's 12/26 or 1/3 or whatever day most folks decide to "get on with their normal lives."

Who wants normal during the holidays? I like the following non-normal activities:

1. sleeping in past 6 a.m., 2. baking cookies while I am still in my pajamas, 3. opening Christmas Cards, 4. enjoying colored light decorations.

What are the non-normal/holiday activities that you enjoy? Isn't breaking out of our routines part of what keeps us alive and kicking?

We celebrated Christmas for the 2nd year, in Sierra Vista--not a glamourous location but the drive was very pretty into the Huachuca Mtns., the sky clear and bright, and the Xmas Buffet at the Windemere is a bargain for the two hour meal. This year, we also stayed at the Windemere and enjoyed two glasses (neither of us finished one glass) of wine after we saw "The Tourist" (a luscious movie set in Venice, Italy and although Angelina Jolie only wore three different dresses, each one was a visual/visceral delight). Today, we ate a big breakfast buffet, also at the Windemere, and then walked down the trail by the San Pedro River.

It was lovely: the skeletons of the naked cottonwoods shimmered silvery grey in the sunlight, the dry wild wheat tickled my fingers as I touched them. Birdsongs were in the trees and underbrush and the river was running low but lively. We walked in a different direction (north) than we had the past two visits because I knew the Southern trail had an uneven path I didn't trust with my ankle. Fortunately, the northern one was flatter and took us to two waterfalls, but it also kept going north. After 30 minutes, my ankle begins to tire and I was feeling some mild anxiety. But we found a worn truck trail that led back to the roadway and so we found a new route to try next time. As we walked along the San Pedro, I felt the melancholia blow through me with the light breeze. I started feeling sad on Thursday and it came and went with waves on Christmas Eve with my dad and Christmas morning. With my mom's absence and my son's work commitment taking away fond faces from a traditional family gathering, we have tried to create a new way to celebrate the season.

So, after the walk along the San Pedro, we headed to Bisbee, noon sunlight basking the hills in gold. We had a hot chocolate before walking to our favorite shops: an antique store (I bought a vintage children's book and two wooden toy blocks), the Full Moon on Main (I bought a string of dyed vegetable skins which sounds weird but is lovely to look at, hanging from a window), and PanTerra Gallery where Mark bought me a funky t-shirt. We had a sumptuous lunch at Cafe Cornucopia of sandwich, salad, tangerine lemonade and berry crumble. By 3 p.m. the sun had dipped behind the walls of the canyon and the Christmas lights, strong across Main Street, began to glimmer. I could stay in a cafe and people watch in Bisbee until well past sunset, but we headed home and arrived before dusk in Tucson.

Thus we have finished the first two days of a twelve day Christmas and I plan to bring the Christmas Spirit into at least some of each of the ten days to come.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

t'was the week before Christmas

I wrote a poem this morning, based on the the older version, as an invitation to friends to an Open House. It was fun to use a rhyme, deeply embedded in my head, to frame a new poem and invitation for fun.

I had fun yesterday with six 5th graders from Pueblo Gardens Elementary School as we shared lunch at the Arizona Inn. They were very well-behaved and enjoyed learning how to eat and be served a leisure "grand-style" lunch that only the Inn delivers to each guest. We had to rush through the luscious green grounds, dappled with flowers and sunlight, but they laughed and giggled and stayed on the brick paths as instructed by the "stay off the grass" signage. They oohed and aahed over the chess set in the Inn's library, the Xmas tree and the pink adobe "gingerbread" house. I had to coach the two boys not to flash hand signs when pictures were taken--so the pull of popular culture is right at the heels of their childhood. Symbolically, one of the girls lost her baby tooth while biting into the cruchy roll and she was as surprised as I was because, she said, "I have another one that was loose, but not this one." So she wrapped it in tissue and put it in her pocket to show her mom. All was fun for me and well worth the cost of the meals.

That lightheartedness was challenged by a matinee viewing of "The Black Swan". If ballet is your forte, I strongly recommend it because you will need that passion to get through the emotional roller coaster the story presents. Natalie Portman, in the lead, is fearless in her acting and dance performance: I stand amazed at how anyone has the bravery to show what she does to millions of strangers in the audience. In a sense, the same amazement will now go with me as I watch local ballet or dance performances. As a child, I performed "on toe" and I loved the attention of the stage and the permission it gave me to take on another role: Peppermint Princess (Nutcracker) or Autumn (Cinderella). But I gave it up when I sensed I wouldn't go the Chicago Ballet and the team spirit of cheerleading offered another performance outlet, with much less practice and bodily strain.

After the movie, I came home to a broken clothes dryer and my hubby failed in finding an appliance store open after 3 p.m. So we had wet clothes to take to the laundromat and strolled Bookman's while the clothes almost dried. It was a bit odd to be back at a laundromat after years of absence. Our first "live together" and married years we spent Thursday nights doing the full cycle of washing, drying and folding clothes. I don't recall resenting the time or experience but moving on up to the middle class with access to our own appliances was, we assumed back then, a natural part of the American Dream.

Now, I am not sure what constitutes that Dream. For the ballet dancer, it's achieving Swan Queen status. For a fifth-grader from Pueblo Gardens, it might be a luncheon served at the Arizona Inn. For me this week before Christmas, my Dream includes the following, in no particular order:

*home-made red tamales, green olive embedded in the meat
*successful production of soft, light divinity
*order of cookies, fresh from the oven
*warm blankets on a cool night
*work that is meaningful and sometimes fun, often billable
*continued good health
*viewings of "The Grinch" (done); "It's a Wonderful Life" (done); "Miracle on 34th Street" (done)
*Christmas Carols (the kind found in hymnals)
*a few pop holiday songs (including Dave Mathews, Linda Ronstadt, Luther Vanderhoss)
*frequent smiles, laughter, a light and open heart.

So what makes this week a Dream for you? I have listed 10 items...can you extend your list? I hope you can, and I hope you have a dreamy week before Christmas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

trying to add an image

After reading most of "Blogging for Dummies" while waiting for the water pump on my car to be replaced, I thought I would try to add an image to my blog. If successful, it's a picture of me and an Imagine Greater Tucson colleague co-facilitating a Community Conversation.

Monday, December 13, 2010

poem prompts

Back home again, on the laptop, feeling refreshed from two wonderful returning-home-to-Tucson events:

1. Before coming home and unpacking, Mark and I walked around the Sweetwater Wetlands area and it was so lovely. I highly recommend a visit to it while the cottonwoods and desert willows are still draped in gold and green. Mid afternoon sun shines softly on the reeds and cattails and ducks abound on the ponds. Birders more gifted in sightings that we were saw Ibis and other winged creatures. We gazed at the stillness of a turtle who should be in hibernation this time of year, but, with the warmness of this December winter, was sunbathing on a log emeshed in short reeds. He sat there with his tail and left leg hanging over the log, eyes blinking in, what I call, amazement at his extended autumnal life.

2. After unpacking and quickly distilling the local paper and NY Times Sunday edition, we went to Catalina Methodist Church for their annual Christmas Concert. A thirty-piece orchestra accompanied the adult and child chorus. We laughed at a three year old girl who waved her arms under her red vestment collar in rhythm to the conductor and at an energetic young boy bouncing on the steps. The adult chorus was wonderful, sweating from their brows after singing High Renaissance contrapuntal music, traditional Christmas carols with contemporary arrangements and the secular melody of "White Christmas". Amazing orchestra who pulled out a big sound with Tchaikofsy's (sp?) "Waltz of the Flowers" from "The Nutcracker Suite." I tested my blood pressure half way through the concert and I was in a Zen-like state of 60 beats per minute.

So, on to the poetry, prompted on 12/8 and 12/10

Prompt form Writer's Digest--generalized group, people, animals, things

I just read about my favorite big city--
San Francisco, where
Instead of a "club crawl" from bar to brewery
as we do on the dustry streets of Tucson,
They stroll from bookstore to bookstore,
buying beer with a shot of whisky
or a coffee with expresso.
In all places, they read books, old and new,
alone or to each other.
They leave a just-read book on the table
as they go to the next bookstore.
And someone else picks up the book
to start their own journey
through the warmly touched pages.
In this way--in San Francisco,
books connect strangers and friends,
readers and writers,
And the newspaper article never mentioned
a Kindle or a Nook.
So, wherever you are:
buy a book
and pass

12/10 from Writer's Digest prompt: "on the run"

I remember listening to
"Band on the Run" as we
were driving to Mission Bay
in San Diego.

Our son was a little guy,
sitting in the back of the car,
sandled feet bouncing
against his car seat.

We were singing and watching
the kites high in the sky,
searching for a parking space
close to the grassy knoll so
we could picnic.

Out of the car,
our son went flying with his feet
pounding agains the soft grass--
quite a treat for a desert boy.

His blue eyes looked up
as the kites, lifted,
soaring beyond the harbor,
almost out the the ocean,
still tethered to the ground.

Back then, his dreams were as high
as the kites, and our dreams soared
for him, too.

Twenty-five years later,
the ground has shifted
below his feet and ours.
Kites are a memory most days:
It's about paying bills,
keeping our expectations low,
tightly held to earth.

But the string can unwind
with our imaginings.
We don't have to choose
to only hope that he doesn't fly away again.

He, and we, can choose to
let the wind lift us up high,
trusting that we will stay grounded
with each other.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I am sitting in Barnes and Noble at Tempe Market Place, typing on my new mini-notebook. I purchased it yesterday and this is my intent: to go to my local (Tucson mostly, but we're in Phx for a party last night) cafes and write for myself/creative writing, work writing and do my emails. I have no excuses now that I have outed myself as a writer by submitting my short, short story before Thangsiving to Writer's Digest. And the thought of this kept me from much sleep last night (in addition to a late dinner and too soft pillows). Now I can write whenever and wherever. Of course, that is always true--I have a pencil and pen and paper in my purse at all times. But, I hate to admit it, but writing on the blog gets me past that personal-only mode and into cyberspace where what I can be read by others.

Of course, that reality hit hard last summer when implications of not filtering my thoughts for public review brought me some personal pain. But I think, I hope I have learned my lesson. And that now I can use this tool to expand my horizons as a writer.

At home, I have several poems composed this week but, just for today, I will write this haiku:

Two little girls in
pink satin dresses twirl twice
and click their shoes home.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


In Italian, it means "slow down" and it was the phrase for 12/4, yesterday, but I didn't. I started off slowly, walking our 11 year old Lia in the desert where she needs to rest every few minutes or so. While she rested, I chatted with Mark or watched a hummingbird soar into the sky. We speeded up a bit on the second walk along the Rillito where the desert broom is filled with white seeds that will blow in the wind and mimic snowflakes falling across my vision. Faster mental pace after a light lunch and gift card shopping at Target. Then a pause button at Barnes and Noble where I met an author, Susan Pohlman, at her book signing for Halfway to Each Other. I received her book on Wednesday by mail and began to read it, enthralled by her snappy voice in a memoir which details how her family left California for a year in Italy. She now lives in Scottsdale and, at the signing, told me about a writing group in Phoenix, I checked it out last night at midnight when my backyard neighbor's party woke me up (I ended up calling the police, finally, at 2:30 when the music and cantina-style singing continued to keep me from my sleep, so I am writing with less than four hours of rem-sleep under my belt). The website is exactly what I need to be reading (and Susan's blog. and I really feel that my Higher Power put me in touch with her yesterday.

Another act of syncronicity took place post a conversation with a sister-writer about whether or not to get a smart phone. I reconciled myself to a "not the time to buy it" decision and then, on the way home later, discovered I had lost my phone. I called my provider and got it turned off, just in case anyone who found it might be tempted to call Paris or Mexico City and run up International calls, and I didn't much like the idea of having to buy a phone, afterall. And, before 8 a.m. today, I got a call from the manager of Boston Market where we ate with my dad yesterday; they found the phone. So, much relieved that I won't have to deal with a complex phone purchase; instead, I can restart the SIM card and get back in touch, the simpler way.

So today I will rallenta. I will, following the advice of Eat,Pray,Love (the movie which Mark and I watched last night) experience la dolci va niete (the sweetness of doing nothing)--at least practice getting to that experience as much as I can. I have much to catch up on reading and writing, chores at home, a long-delayed Y swim and, maybe go to a Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration at Ted de Grazia's studio. But before all that, or very little of that, evolves, I did enter one poem this week by prompt and wrote two haiku while at a meeting on Friday which I will share. Here they are:

11/29 prompt: Next Steps
While relearning how to walk,
I am relearning how to live.
Practice strengthening the core muscles,
centering my spine and hips.
Keep my eyes focused ahead,
breathing as I move.
Balance on both sides of my body,
equal pressure on the limbs.
Pause between steps,
trust the need to rest.
Move sideways, pivot,
moving zigzag in longer strides.
Life, like walking,
is not a straight line.

12/3: prompt from The Writer, How to Be a Better Writer, Focus on your Writing

Write in the Middle of Things
In a stuffy room,
I listen to dry, long words,
wanting cool water.

I am in the midst
of painful transformation,
pushing through to change.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

in between

We are in between the holidays right now--Thanksgiving (we had two again this year--one with some family on Tday, another last eve with new friends, family and our son who works on the traditional date); Chanukah starts this week and, of course, there is Christmas which arrived in all of its materialistic glory before Halloween. Thank goodness (and Godness) that there are ways to bridge the season meaningfully. For Christians, today is the first Sunday of Advent. For Methodists, we begin the Sunday service with one more hymn of Thanksgiving, light the first Advent candle, have a short sermon from Psalms 100 and then end by singing "Look to the East" and "Emmanuel." So, in a short hour we shift from turkey to evergreen.

This was a wonderful week, actually. Only on Wednesday did I succumb to the drumbeat of emails and work-related phone calls,three failures making divinity (my mother's recipe) and with this, a return of a mild anxiety period. But, that was the only "blip" and "slip" of the week. I stayed pretty centered thanks to Mark's companionship and the sweet distraction of the presence of my visiting sister and brother-in-law and niece and nephew. I was gifted by their request to "sleepover" at Aunt Nini's house on Friday so Saturday I had two pre-adolescents bundled under the covers, watching "Lord of the Rings", being served eggs, fruit and toast by their smiling auntie. I loved it.

I didn't do my poetry prompts everyday, but several days and so I include them here. My MAJOR milestone, also on Wednesday and probably a contributor to my anxiety cycle, was my submission of my short, short story to Writer's Digest. Gratitude goes to my writer-coach who helped me craft a mere 700 plus words into a narrative that I felt I could send forward. It's my first submission in 35 years, so I am officially a writer-out-of-the-closet now.

And here are my poems from this week:

11/21 prompt: "taking a stand"
When you've been on your ass
for two and a half months,
first, foot in a cast,
then a black velcro strapped boot--
Relearning how to stand
is a lesson in humility.
Adding twenty-five pounds
every twelve days
demonstarted how muscles have to work
and how hard it is
to ask them to
after all that rest.
But, amazingly, the body responds
to the mind's commands.
And, after fifteen days of pounds added,
I stand.

11/23 prompt: Hay(na) Sku poetry form
fly south
in the winter.

come north
as the sun rises.

children fly
to the desert.

aunt waits
with open heart.

a few
days, she laughs.

the birds
migration means change.

the end:
all is well.

11/27 prompt: blame
Blame the moon
for the light that shines.
It pulls me to it
all through the night.

I toss and turn
rise and stand,
look out the window
across the land.

Where mountains rise
up from the dark,
where coyotes prowl
and make their mark--

Called "scat", it signals
where they roam.
While, wide awake,
I remain at home.

But my soul, also,
prowls desert spaces
with fear and drama
in distant places.

There missiles fly
and flames arise,
brushing red and black
into warring skies.

All because
the moon so bright
is round and full
on this late autumn night.

11/28 prompt: what really happened
Who know what really happened?
It's all speculation now.
Whether he "flew the coop"
out of fear or the need to explore
the expanding horizons of adulthood.
What matters now is
he ate at our table last night
with smiles and laughter.
He hugged me with love,
admired my cleaned up pantry,
talked with his aunt and grandfather,
saw the stars on his way home
and stayed safe on the road.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

it's getting better

I am thinking of the Beatle's song: "It's getting better every day...." As I write this. It did help me at least (not so sure about you readers out there in the blogosphere), when I wrote last week and as I worked through Wed-Friday, I felt myself slowly turning (although not steadily) toward the Light. One thing I started last week was an almost daily write in response to the "poetic asides" prompts at Writer's Digest's blog. I will share what I wrote here as my weekend blog entry:

11/9 Prompt "slow down"

I wake in the dark,
even the birds are still silent.
But my mind begins to rush--
a torrent of things to do.
I try to breath deeply,
slowing down the speed,
imagining a rhythm of waves
moving me forward
but not toward the rapids.
Instead, the waters carry me
carefully around grey boulders,
gently through barriers of broken logs.
I arrive slowly and safely to the shore,
and I get up for the day.

11/12 prompt "forget what they say":

At twelve years old, they told me to smile more,
not be so serious.
I tried and still do.
Back then, I sang down the locker-lined hallway,
mimicking Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.
But later that year,
Kennedy was shot, then Martin, later Bobby.
Not much to smile about for years.

And now,
Mom has died,
Dad stands on his seasoned legs
but bends with his walker.
My young neighbor
passes by my window,
runnning with her jaunty dog.
And I smile without laughter,
waking before dawn,
trying to squeeze as much of life from the day
as I can.

Last night,
after brown rice and egg drop soup,
we came out of the restaurant
and my husband's pointer finger
froze at a ninety-degree angle.

"Look at this," he said,
placing his hand on the steering wheel.
That finger,
rigid as a rock
sent me into a spasm of laughter--
the ludicrous image of a crooked finger
pushing against a wheel.

11/15 prompt: "just when you thought it was safe"

Almost seven months
since the ladder fell,
twisting my ankle and breaking it
into three pieces.

"Lucky it wasn't worse," the EMT guy said,
which my doctor repeated as did
several others.

And I am grateful it wasn't worse.
Because I am almost healed.
"Up to 90% now," my physical therapist coaches.
I can do most of what I want to do--
walk, bake, drive a car.
I can't dance yet, but I can roll on my stomach and do yoga,
both feet flat against the rug.

And yet, my anxiety lingers--
about the missing 10%,
about annual medical tests,
about aging, in general.

I don't want to imagine too much safety--
a little danger, hazard, risk
creates a little drama.
So I make it up.
Like a batch of brownies from a box,
I don't have to start from scratch.

Worry and anxiety is in my DNA,
ingredients amply supplied by Mom and Dad
and generations before.
Worry about his future got my grandfater to take a boat
from Italy to New York.
Anxiety about another year's harvest
got my grandad out to the barn on mornings so cold
ice formed on his eyelashes.

But my life is sheltered from these challenges,
so I make up my own.
Everyday I can read a newstory to feed
my fretting and worry--and I do.
Because just when I think it's safe--
a ladder will fall.

11/16 prompt "stacking"

In the pantry,
instead of organizing the
boxes of cereal and crackers,
the jars of jam,
the bags of nuts and rice--
I stack them on top of each other
so it looks like a skyline
when I open the pantry door,.

Sometimes, like today,
an item
Today, it was strawberry jam.
And I had "strawberry fields, forever" sticking
to the brown concrete floor.

11/18 prompt "lost and found"

For ten months my son was lost to us,
wandering, somewhere in our desert city,
marching to his own quest.

We got through it, somehow,
past the sleepless nights and long days.
Even when the Twin Towers fell, he was still gone.
And I wondered, "Where are you?
Do you want me to hold your hand
as we sit together and mourn?"

Now, he is halfway home again,
and I weigh what was lost, what was found.
The balance of both is not equal.

11/19 prompt "a poem with a hole in it"

I have to keep my eyes open when I walk,
looking for holes hidden under fallen branches
or in the broken asphalt next to the car,
as I step out.
It's tricky walking with a healed broken ankle.
All those tiny bones taken for granted everyday.
They do work only the mind can imagine
but mostly doesn't.
They pivot and balance in millimeters
keeping me from falling down.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

grief arrives before dawn

Sometime I have struggled to stay away from this blog becoming a place for me to reveal the darker side of my reflections. But since August, I have been going through another phase of grieving and despair about more than personal issues have crept in, usually arriving during the darkest part of the night, after about five hours of sleep but well before I want to awake.

This morning, after Mark got up and returned to sleep, I awoke with the now familiar flutter in my stomach and mild feeling of panic. I seem to have to work through all of my affirmations, memories of Naples and Napa, California, Florence and Rome, Italy, letting more recent memories cascade forward--of last night's community conversation in Marana, of yesterday's reading Chapter Two of The Sorcer's Stone with 5th graders at Pueblo Gardens, of Kevin and Nicole working me through my steps at Physcial Therapy, all those thoughts as I try to breath slowly, reduce the fluctuations in my metabolism and then I come to grief.

My chest tightens and I cry silently under the bedcovers. I cry for Mom, who died last August but who began to leave us a couple of years before. I seem to be retracing her final behaviors with my own: focusing on my physical changes, leaning on my husband for attention, nudging my son for emotional contact. I see her in me and somehow feel reconnected. But it's a false impression because, after a year now, I know she is really gone, except in memory. And, in August, this year, I thought I was going to lose Dad to breast cancer and that episode through me into Alice's rabbit hole where I still go in the dark of night, needing to wake early to reassure myself I am still here. Dad hangs on, living somewhere between euphoria of chowing down on fries with a McDonald's McRib sandwich, preceded by his morning walks and the suggestion of suicide he makes between sandwich bites to end his life by not taking his prescriptive pills. I listen to his meandering between these emotions and just hang on for the ride, as long as it lasts, knowing I will drop into the abyss when he dies.

And I grief for the loss of my relationship with my sister. Never an easy one, even when we played together on long midwestern winter days in the chilly basement/playroom of our house on McClure. Adulthood brought more bumpiness and estrangement, briefly rebraided through our early days of shared motherhood. Then torn apart again twelve years ago when she was hospitalized. As she struggled to regain an equilibrium of control through medications and other choices I can only guess at, our gap widened. It was partly due, I think, to our different responses to mom's dementia and to the challenges we each faced as our child/children grew into adulthood. Now, through a bumbling step I made on this blog, the fragile thread of sisterhood seems broken. We do not speak. She has not responded to my last email. The holidays beckon and we are apart.

My mother's brother died two weeks ago. Mom loved him very much. He was the only person I knew that she let call her by her given name, Jessie. At some point in her young adulthood she dropped that name and became Carolyn, her middle name. I don't know that story and I wish I did because I bet it cost her some pain with her mother. But she did it, became a working gal during the war, smoked cigarettes on the rooftop of Woolworth's, and went to dances at the YMCA where she met my dad.

As I grew up, there were many times I wish she had left my dad and taken me away from his anger and fierce love. I know now he grew up in an alcoholic home and suffered physical and emotional abuse which he passed on to me. My sister didn't get the physical hits but she suffered as a bystander and paid/pays her own price. I thought, for these past twelve years or so, that I had bypassed the compulsive behaviors that crippled my dad (and his family), that my sister adapted to and lived her way. Even though I came to acknowledge, following my son's spiral into unhealthy adolescent behaviors, that I had learned enabling from my mom, learned how to control and try to fix others' problems, and, in my head, recognized my own "stinkin' thinkin'" as a compuslive disease, somehow, I kept the deeper parts of the disease in a manageable place.

But in April, when unexpectedly, a ladder fell on me, dislocating and shattering my ankle, something else snapped. Right before the accident, I had gone through my third year of repeat/more imaging for my annual mammogram. I have lost a good friend to breast cancer during those three years and know two more diagnosed with it. Each year for the past three, I felt the sword of Damacles hang over me. Then, when I thought this year I had dodged it again, the ladder fell. And among my feeling of shock (which I did physically experience as well as mentally and emotionally), I also felt relief that here was something real, not anticipated or feared, remembered and hidde; here there was a real injury I had to pay attention to. So for almost seven months now, that has been my focus: healing my ankle. It delayed, I think, a normal pattern of grief for my mom. It diverted me from getting too involved in my son's circuituous life and tugged me away from other places where I could have slipped into too much helping.

But, as I have recovered and healed from the accident, I have slipped back into old patterns: too much involvement in "fixing" my community, too much worry about Dad, too much fear about aging (mine and my sister's--will we, like mom, have minor strokes, be misdiagnosed, face dementia with increasing isolation and confusion). And so, here I am today: waking up at 4 a.m., trying to use self-talk and memory, succumbing and surrending as the light breaks, to grief and tears, stretching my ankles and standing up, coming to the safe space of the written word and putting it down. Somehow, like writers before me, and after, I hope, the order of one word coming after another is similar to the rhythm of ankle recovery I have learned at PT: how walking is not about going in a straight line but zigzaging, back and forth, up and across and down. This is how we walk, how we live, how we grow. And we do, often, regain balance, find our center, heal and lean forward, into the dawn.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

sunny day

Even though I do not like my new and somewhat unpredictable normal of waking up before the sun rises, it seems, as I do, I fill up the day with activities now that I am more active again. I have to keep reminding myself to slow down to watch the butterflies scatter around the blowing branches as mulberry leaves fall, or gaze at the shimmer of the hummingbird's wings as it catches the early morning light. It's gotten chilly at night in the desert and so, twice this week, I wore gloves and my red stocking cap as I stretched my walk from twenty to thirty minutes. The taste of hot chocolate in the afternoon on the two days that Mark had off this week was a treat although, sitting at Borders one of those days, the background music of Christmas Carols was intruding on my mind as I enjoy these days before Thanksgiving.

We are already making plans to do what we did last year: take Dad to Xmas Eve Church service and dinner and then, the two of us will take off for Sierra Vista's buffet. Instead of staying overnight at a BandB which wasn't all that great last year, we will stay at a hotel, get a hearty breakfast on the 26th and enjoy Bisbee galleries and shops. The Christmas lights will be hanging across the main road in Bisbee and, no doubt, crisp weather will linger between the rocks. Last year there was a dusting of snow on the hills which added some nice texture to the town's landscape.

As for what comes first, Thanksgiving, I am looking forward to seeing my sister-in-law and her family. Since Aron has to work, we'll have a second TDay when he is off and that's the one I actually spend time in the kitchen for. The "first" dinner is partially from Safeway--we've done that for several years now, starting with the last two in Green Valley with Mom and Dad-and with some additional side dishes and dessert, it makes for an easy and agreeable compromise.

Anyway, the main point, I think, of this lovely November holiday should be just to be grateful for bounty of food, family and health. Christmas gets lost in merchandising, merchandising and it's second cousin, Chanukah, gets short shrift even though it's really a secondary Jewish holiday, made more important by the weight of Christmas on Jews whose children also "expect" presents with the Menorah. When Aron was young, we did both and never really had trouble with it. But I suspect he has leaned toward Christmas in his adulthood, less for its spiritual meaning, probably, than the expectation of something special.

Most of the specialness for either Chanukah or Christmas this year will be limited because we are spending our budget in January in Philly for Sasha (my niece's) Bat Mitsvah. New luggage for two of us and a winter coat for Aron has to be purchased and tho we scored some reasonable hotel rates--everything seems tight this year (again--third year when both Mark and I are aware of financial restraint).

But there is no lack of abundance of sunshine today. It's been glorious and tomorrow promises the same. What we lack in political brightness in Arizona may be (?) somewhat compensated for with the brightness of light when the sun shines.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

dream architecture

Last night we saw the movie, "Inception", and I thought it would stimulate my subconscious to the danger point and stir up bad dreams. I have had several early this week and, on two subsequent nights, I dreamed Mark and I were (unhappily) leasing a two story, modern architecture house, set on a hill and decorated entirely with white, nubby-textured furniture (I hate both). But despite my misgivings, last night I simply (?) slept and don't recall any dreams I had.

My favorite scene in the movie was when the new "architect", played by Ellen Page (she seemed stuck in somberness in this movie and her plain features didn't light up with even one smile)--anyway, she collapsed the city of Paris in on itself to fold into a three dimensional (or was it four) cityscape. Then she and the main character, played by Leonardo di Caprio--who continues to dominate every scene he is in no matter who plays opposite him although Kate Winslett, in Revolutionary Road, is the best foil he has--anyway, she and Leondaro's character walk up and around the streets of Paris.

If you have been to Paris, as I was 8 years ago, it's not too hard of a stretch to imagine the multi-dimensional stroll along the streets, in the alleys, along the Seine. The medieval quality of its urban architecture, blended with Hausmann's 18th century boulevards and recent architectural changes create a kind of mash-up that fits into the maze-like structure (as the movie suggests) that makes up our dream architecture.

The idea of elements that fight for the subconscious to maintain some kind of equilibrium and control vs. those who would extract our thoughts or plant them (i.e. inception) is also intriguing, although I would suggest female dreams might be demonstrate less violent conflicts than those depicted in the movie from the male brain (and to satisfy ticket-buyers). I suspect, in my brain, my subconscious protectors are like big mountain lions, ready to pounce to protect my sanity--at least, I hope they are in my dreams, doing their job.

Because the outside world right now could use some redesign of its external architecture. Driven by fear the world is pulling its fabric apart and there seem to be mighty few of us trying to keep the fabric woven together. As in T.S. Eliot's poem, the center will not hold (or something close to that--I am not quoting him here but using the poem as a reference for making my point). We need some protectors to take on the role of protecting us from our waking insanities. Maybe that's why, right now, I am dreaming about homes more often, even ones I don't like. Interestingly, as I write this, I realize I had those house dreams I describe here, on pre-election and election nights. Maybe my subconscious was creating the house, barely hanging on a hill, as a symbol of how I felt about our country, the world, teetering on the edge of destruction. It's a connection to consider, I suppose.

But for the rest of this day, I will take solace in this: the creative minds that make up stories, generate quality movies, write poems and plays, cascade song lyrics--these are my heroes: they continue to create order and meaning out of chaos; they believe, as this movie states, that we can architect our dreams.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

golden aspen

Yesterday I called a "time out" from worrying, stress, thoughts of mortality and politics. We drove to Mt. Lemmon to see the golden aspen which fluttered in the sunlight on the road to the UA Observatory. On the way, in Bear Canyon, we savored "jambon et fromage" on a freshly baked (from Ghini's bakery)french roll. Butterflies danced around the scrub oak and pine and two small girls scrambled up the granite boulders. I watched them go.

At Bear Wallow, where the red maples were aflame and the yellow elm showered leaves on the path, we found a tree trunk that others had sculpted with branches, twigs and leaves. It formed an altar to autumn in the woods. I stretched out my calves on the path's incline a bit and learned how much the physical therapy of the past months has gradually prepared me (or not) for the real world texture of a mountain path, strewn with small rocks and swelling tree roots. Mostly, I navigated the territory with care and caution and the ooccasional leaning on my husband's "firm but flexible" right arm. It was a new way of walking.

At the top, we couldn't take the path to the meadows because of the steepness but I found two late-blooming daisies amidst the frost-burnt ferns. I gathered fallen aspen leaves, pine cones and branches to nestle among my store bought flowers when I later returned home. It was a very good trip to the mountain.

I would like to say that the experience lightened my load for today, but it wouldn't be true. Again, my morning was stirred by physical responses I cannot control and don't yet understand. I had trouble focusing on the newspaper and took a long shower to still my bouncing brain. I am not ready for the work week and, if I could, would lose myself for a few more days in a good book (I actually have two I am enjoying), music and planting fall flowers. I cannot completely escape from the work challenges--or natural life challenges, it seems--and I have not yet found my psychological balance.

So, just for now, I will rekindle the feelings of golden aspen: the sight of light pouring through the thin, soft texture of yellow, the sloughing sounds of the trees as they bent to the westward gusts of wind. They did not break but they did alter their upright stance in order to remain grounded. I think I need to follow their example this week, as best as I can.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

banana bread

My husband, who has been out of town on a consulting job, has expressed the need for me to show him I love him. So today, I took those black bananas, soft as jello, and mashed them in a cup, added crispy walnuts and dark raisins, eggs, butter, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and soda, and made banana bread. It's cooling on the rack as I write and the wonderful smell of it fills the rooms and expands my lungs without the added weight of calories to my stomach. That, unfortunately, will come soon enough, when I flip over the bread, release it from the pan and cut into the browned crust for that tender taste of quick bread, made from scratch. It's my first baking experience since April/ankle accident and I guess it marks another milestone, just in time for the holiday baking season to commence.

I read a great story ( about the woman who championed the celebration of Thanksgiving as a holiday (1836) and wrote the poem, "Mary Had a Little Lamb." She, Sarah Josepha Hale, wrote about Thanksgiving as part of a novel that protested slavery, pre-Civil War by about 40 years. I had no prior knowledge of this story and I am trying to spread the word about it.

Sometimes my grandmother would also serve banana bread at the Thanksgiving table. We always had white butterfly dinner rolls and, of course, other carbohydrates filled the table as entrees and desserts. It pales, though, in comparison to the description Sarah Hale details in the excerpt on the web and reminds me that the harvest time was the end of the growing season and the preparation for hibernating for the winter. Not so for us desert dwellers: this is just the beginning of our favorite time of the year--seven to eight months (if we are lucky) of energizing coolness, sunshine and monsoon winters which spread the soil for spring's desert blooms.

I know I am getting older (as if creaking knees and right ankle, sore back, greying hair, mood and sleep swings don't provide enough proof)because the days, weeks and months are passing so quickly. I want this season to sloooooow down. Since tomorrow is/would have been my mom's birthday and, for me, is packed with "to do" tasks, Tuesday will mark my rememberance of her with a visit to the Tucson Botanical Garden. I will find a shady spot and read some poems or maybe bring along one of her many diaries and read an excerpt on one of her birthdays. Two years ago, her last with us, we had Lucky Wishbone chicken and she devoured fried onion rings, two at a time. I had baked cupcakes with caramel icing and Donna brought ice cream so we feasted on the patio in autumnal good humor.

Many things have changed since then and that is how life keeps us alert: nothing escapes the rule of impermanence. But I can always count on the smell of banana bread to bring me warm memories that fill my soul.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

finding my stride

This week I met a milestone with returning to walk the Rillito path for a mile in 20 minutes. I really enjoyed the cooler temperature and the sights (an eagle on a low mesquite branch, toddlers carrying stuffed animals and joggers with dogs in tow) and smells (fresh horse manure and heavily perfumed matrons in glittering t-shirts and sweat pants). I had my stride assessed this week and am trying to focus on posture and keeping my right foot pointing forward and not slightly to the left. This seems to be helping my calf muscles but something in my stride is tweaking my back because it's aching in mid back and pelvic area, both on the right side. I am probably still compensating for some muscle weakness in my legs and asking the back muscles to carry more of the load, so I will need to have Kevin look at me this week and suggest what I need to alter.

Another challenge is weaving my way through Imagine Greater Tucson work tasks, domestic chores, familial obligations and physical therapy appointments (still twice a week). What is getting pushed aside is my regular workouts with swimming, bicycling and weights at the Y and my creative writing. I also feel that I am shortchanging myself on time with my women friends--squeezing in a quick cafe chat and chatch-up before the end of the day or on the weekend. On the plus side, my metabolism changes seem to have stablized and sleep patterns are more back to normal.

Holidays are coming. I pulled out our plastic pumpkin for the front step and switched my fake spring flower assortments for the autumnal cattails, wheat and sunflowers. We bought a butternut squash to cook tomorrow and I enjoy the taste of that vegetable, dotted with brown sugar and butter. Thanksgiving will be at my father-in-law's because Mark's sister and family are coming in from Philly. Aron will be working on TDay and we might do our usual post-TDay home turkey for him and friends. I hope we can take a trip to California over the holidays because Mark has vacation time to use or lose and we didn't see my 97 year old Aunt on her birthday this year. I have a friend in Monterey that, with a car and the time, I would also like to visit, but the January Bat Mitsvah trip for Sasha is costing a small fortune so we'll just see how the dollars stretch. I would rather travel and see family and friends than buy anything although I told Mark today that when I get paid for my IGT work I might want to bring in a housecleaning team to do the nitty-gritty work that I have totally no interest or energy in doing right now.

We have a very sick eucalyptus tree out back that we have to have cut and hauled away and maybe need to transplant some new euclayptus bushes growing on the north side of the house to the back/East to continue to protect us from summer sun and townhouse neighbors. For the most part in the past ten years, our neighbors have been quiet and good cooks because I smell some mighty tasty scents from time to time in the early mornings. Once we had a neighbor who must have been a concert pianist or serious student of the instrument because s/he would play sonatas in the evening and, for a few moments, I felt Parisienne, recalling the 2002 trip I took with Patsy. Our hotel opened onto a courtyard, and, across it, I could see into the apartments at night. One apartment opened up to a large window with a baby grand piano at the edge of a room and, in the evenings, a resident would play Chopin. Such are the stuff of memories.

My physical therapist says that one of the tricks to recovery is "muscle memory", i.e. retraining the muscles to move in a way they have forgotten during the healing process. I think that works for the heart, also, because I am trying to retrain my heart to accept some familial relationships I would prefer not to be as they are.

My friend, Susan and I saw a strange and powerful movie yesterday: Never Let me Go. It's a film about life and death, illness and the costs, in human terms, of health. I have been thinking about it throughout the day. What will be my completion--a term that the movie uses instead of the word "death." Autumn is the time to contemplate things that pass away. I don't find it a morbid musing but rather, like the season, a musing with shadows and light. Shadows soften the angles and can offer a new way of seeing that sometimes bright light blinds the eye to capture. I think, as I continue to find my stride in the weeks ahead, I will appreciate the shadows and ponder "completion" as a signifier for living.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

six months ago

It is 10/10/10 and six months out from my ankle accident. Weird how some months, looking back, are now a blur except for the documentation of that reality on this blog. At this moment, I am feeling pretty good but not quite there to normal and accepting the reality that my new normal won't take me back to exactly to where I was on 4/9/10. My PT specialist says I can get back to about 90% which should give me the stability, balance and range of motion that I need to do most of my regular activities. Yesterday, I got on the treadmill at the Y and pushed myself to walk a bit on an incline. I felt it afterwards, not in my ankle but in one of the muscles on my calf. It twinged a bit last night, which hasn't happened in weeks, but I figure I just have to work through another layer of scar tissue.

Today, Mark and I worked the Imagine Greater Tucson ( booth at the Tucson Meet Yourself Festival. It was fun and invigorating to listen to the wide range of responses to the question we asked: What do you like most about the Tucson region? Little kids were fun to talk with: they like the parks, the zoo and "everything!" Only two out of about 90 people we talked with were grumpy about Tucson, so that was a pretty good outing (while not a valid survey sample). After doing our 90 mins. at the table, we walked (and ate) our way around the food booths, snacking on Danish meatballs, brown bread, cabbage and gingersnaps; a sample of a Danish coffee cake and savoring the saffron-dusted Thai chicken satay and rice, potatoes and chicken. I liked the latter more than I thought I would as long as I stayed away from the curry sauce (which doesn't like me, either).

When Aron was little, we used to go to the Meet Yourself events each year but somehow got out of the habit the last few years. We are definitely in the empty-nest generation now and watching young families with tots in tow brought up good memories. I noticed how couples seems to be partnering (who knows if they are married) across racial divides. I am hopeful that after we can work our way, as a community and nation through this deeply divisive time of public life, we will get to a place where the younger generation has more tolerance for differences of race and, hopefully, other tolerances as well. They certainly show a tolerance for body adornment (tatoos, colored hair, vintage and retro garments), that speaks to me of creativity and imagination. At least, I can hope that is what their chosen apparel represents!!

I have not been doing my creative work with diligence. I have been caught up in work again and grateful to be working. But, I need to rebalance as I described in last week's blog entry. I did start working with the 4th and 5th graders again (5th year for me) at Pueblo Gardens Elem. School and that "work" is really play for me. Two hours whiz by like twenty minutes. They hug and smile and take me into their bouncing moments. It's joyful for me to be with them.

This week, I did make a commitment, with another friend, to work on the "toolbox" suggested by the book, Postivity. The idea is to gather together pictures, mementos, etc. and create a collage or folder or, for me, an art journal, that captures one of the elements of positivity such as joy, curiousity, inspiration. I am not sure which element I will start with, but I will start!

Friday, I saw a movie with another friend, "Get Low" and I recommend it to you to see. Of course, I could watch the actor Robert Duvall brush his teeth and be amazed at how he does it---and he takes this role, of a self-imposed hermit during the Depression, and makes it Shakespearan. Another source of joy: fine acting in a good story.

So, all in all, autumn is starting smoothly for me so far. As long as I don't let myself get pulled into the dark shadows for too long (my son's moodiness, the nasty politics of the day, the ongoing scary stories in the magazines and newspapers and tv during October's breast cancer awareness media blitz). I may not yet be at the positivity (3:1) tipping point, but I am not drowning in muddy waters, either. Rather, I am doing a bit better than treading water, maybe even slowly gliding to the other side of healing.

Friday, October 1, 2010

in high country

This is the last of three days Mark and I are spending in Flagstaff and I am just beginning to unbundle some of the personal and professional issues that have been held tight inside since coming back from my ankle injury. I could use a full month, at least, to ruminate on what has been inside but we are hitting the road, winding our way back through Oak Creek Canyon, getting on the "other side" of Phoenix rush hour traffic, before returning to the desert. He takes off tomorrow morning for a week in Denver and, besides the mail and daily newspapers piling up on the counter, I will have solo duties to take on for the next week. Wisely, we opted for dog-walking help early in the mornings so I, at least, won't have to risk walking with Lia as she does her daily "I still feel like a puppy" journey through the desert (and then pants and rests throughout the day because, at almost 11, she is NOT a puppy).

The Grand Canyon on Wednesday was, as anyone who has been there knows, grand. Each time we go we experience something different; it is an ever-changing, still work in progress, magical experience. This time, Mark caught a photo, perfectly framed, of a condor flying over the Canyon, close to Kolb's studio. It's wingspan was wider than my arms outstretched. We were giddy with the joy of its soaring on the thermals and celebrated with our first dinner at El Tovar, seated at a table by the window. Although I couldn't do the kind of walking we have been used to in our last couple of visits, I was grateful I could walk and smell the pinon pines, see the red and white sandstone and listen to the languages of the visitors as they strolled on the edge of the vastness. We met a fellow from the UK who lives in Holland and was in Paris last week. I heard German, a lot of French, and a little Italian. Japanese visitors wore shaded hats and used lace-lined umbrellas to shade their faces from the sun. I learned in a previous reading that it's a sign of "peasant class" to have browned skin in Asia; i.e. white skin is the color of the preferred class. I guess Rep. John Boehner wouldn't score very high in their culture (or in mine, for that matter).

Yesterday, I walked by myself (a first outside of Tucson my-neighborhood walking) from the hotel to Beaver St. and a cute thrift shop where I bought a four dollar nice pair of capris. I lounged at a cafe for lunch, eating a delicious grilled cheese sandwich and watching controlled burn smoke clouds gather in the south. The air up here smells strongly of burnt wood. On the way back from the Canyon, we pulled over outside of Williams and saw the starry sky. The Milky Way stretched from Southwest to Northeast in the sky and constellations were burnishing the black with silvery brightness: so this is how close we are in the universe, I thought to myself--a reality lost in urban lighting and too busy lives.

I am open to an epiphany, I said to myself this morning over a solitary breakfast. While I am busy with local work, my heart isn't in it. I wept yesterday, after finishing (read it in two days), Elizabeth Berg's "Until the Real Thing Comes Along". It was another layer of daughter-grief coming to the surface, triggered by the story line of the main character's mother developing Alzheimer's. She (the mother-character)developed into a girlish senility as mom did and it was heartbreaking (again) to recall how, at the end of mom's life, she just wanted me to read "Heidi" to her. There was this canyon-size gulf between us and yet, the story itself, the reading of Heidi, Grandfather, Peter and the goats that spanned the distance between daughter and mother, awareness and dementia, life and death.

So, while in the high country, I have marveled at nature's majesty, savored solitude, and grieved. Maybe there is a subtle transformational power in the three days over thirty. I hope so for it's what I have for now: it needs to be enough.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

autumnal changes

It officially became autumn this week and we had a surprise late summer monsoon to ease us into the season. The rains (about an inch at our house) brought temporary cooler temps but the cooler mornings are lingering longer even as we still creep up to the high 90s during the day. The light is changing, too: longer dark times, shorter sunshine hours which is a blessing, I think, for us desert folks. I remember in the midwest, I dreaded the long dark days ahead, the icey cold walks to school and the slushy slog through grocery parking lots. There were also moments of hot apple cider and cinammon dusted doughnuts, so my midwestern memories are dotted with gold as well as dark brown. Still, I prefer autumn in the Southwest as the mulberry leaves turn yellow and the black-eyed susans pop up along the roadways. I can go to the mountains to see red maples and quivering yellow aspen; it's only the dry stalks of corn, clinging to the clods of black soil that I miss most from Illinois.

As it happens, I will be going to see fall foliage up north, along the road to Flagstaff and farther north still to a day trip at the Grand Canyon's South Rim. Mark has a conference and I decided to tag along although I will have work tasks to pick up when I return. But it's worth the back-home catch-up to see the Canyon and spend time reading and gentle walking in cooler temps.

My ankle swelling has lessened and for a couple of days this week, I didn't apply ice in the evenings. I began to balance on my right ankle/leg in yoga tree pose, albeit only for 20 seconds. Still, it's progress and I am glad of it. My system seems to be adjusting to my new magnesium regime and so today I popped a whole dosage at once, instead of the half, and we'll see how that goes. My sleeping has also returned to pre Dad/mammo-appt. and I hope my counseling sessions and the increase of magnesium will continue to help me balance life's challenges.

This week I gave myself the gift of an artist's date to visit the Tucson Botanical Gardens,the morning after our late summer rain (and before another deluge at noon that day). Butterflies darted among late-blooming flowers and the dampness of the rains clung to the leaves of trees and bushes. At their gallery I gazed at a small quilt exhibit and came up with the idea of writing some essays around/about the patterns of quilts. I have two quilt books and I think there is a quilt show in Tucson next weekend. As I was doing my morning stretches today, I turned on PBS and there was a quilt show---so I think there are external forces at work that are guiding me to write about quilts. While I am in Flagstaff I will look for other opportunities to pursue this direction.

As for today, it's free museum day, thanks to the Smithsonian and I have ticket-for-two to go to the Mini-Time Museum in Tucson. I have wanted to go for months but the admission has been too steep, but not today. So after morning chores, visit to the Y, and lunch with Dad, we will go to see a miniature world.

As I continue to recover (5 months post surgery)from the ankle accident, I am also edging myself to consider other levels of health, aging, and recovery (physical, mental, spiritual and emotional). My past tendancy was to try to move fast into change, but this blog reminds me that "the slow life" is my new life and so I will shift down and pace myself through autumn.

Friday, September 17, 2010

end of the week

It's been a slog for me this week. I am still waking up way too early in the morning and with the added supplement of magnesium, my digestive system is out of whack, too. My counselor/psychologist told me it can take 2 weeks for the body to adjust to magnesium, and I cut my dosage into two intakes instead of one, but no shift to "normal" yet.

I went to a state housing conference for the past two days and enjoyed seeing former HUD and community development colleagues: learning new things about housing (in my new role as a member of the Metropolitan Housing Commission) and getting a better understanding of the grim economic cycle that we are living in, and will be living in for at least 2-3 more years. But being with others who are trying to make a positive difference in their communities does soften the blow of reality and I did get the feeling that we are holding each other up through these challenges.

We (Mark and I) attended (and I assisted in) another performance of Comin' in Hot with Kore Press. This performance was at the UA and included Veterans. Some in the audience recalled their female military experience as far back as 1971 and the recollection still brought them to tears of anger. It was very powerful to hear their stories and, again, I felt "held up" by the strength of these women.

During the week I met with one of my writing friends and reviewed the meager progress I have made with my creative endeavors. Surprisingly, I have squeezed in more product than I thought and two of the elements I want to change in my weekly schedule are 1) NOT start my day/after breakfast with work emails but 2) do my own writing and related reading for at least 30 mins. As the weather is cooling I also want to get back to walking around the neighborhood, listening to the birds, smelling the late-blooming flowers before I start my work rhythm. I have been fretting too much about getting work "done." Somehow I have lost too much of the slow life I was forced into experiencing right after my accident and now I need to recalibrate slowness into my daily life.

My physical therapy is continuing and today I started to "dance", i.e. move in rhythm to the music as I stepped in and out of the "ladder" that is part of my balance and strength routine. I was able to stand on my right ankle/leg and balance for a 10 second count although I wobbled back and forth (and I hold on to a rubber band for assistance).

Swimming keeps me sane and tonight I swam in the neighborhood pool, watching the moon rise in the eastern sky. How blessed I am to be able to experience that sight while bouyantly floating on my back. And I am grateful.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Of course, I am amongst hundreds, maybe thousands of postings on the 9/11 event, aftermath, personal impacts, current (and already revisionist) editorials. So I guess I am part of a chorus of voices, not singing in unison, perhaps, but still together in our purpose: to not forget 9/11 but to also keep living and loving.

I was heartened by the story in NY Times today about the owner of a t-shirt place in Gainesville, Florida who is walking her talk and refusing to make any t-shirts for the pastor (I won't use his name, I don't want to feed into his history-ego driven actions)who has threatened to burn the Quaran. Instead, she is giving away "Love, not Dove" tshirts and, with others, trying to reclaim their community's image as one of progressive, not regressive, thinking and actions.

Another article shared the story of a Muslim who worked in the towers. He and other Muslims had an informal prayer space in the S. Towers since 1999. He fled the tower as it was attacked and lost Muslim and non-Muslim friends in the debacle. He now grieves for the America he feels he has also lost.

Several thoughtful speakers on PBS yesterday, talked about the wound that will not heal from 9/11. It keeps "weeping" because leaders, political and spiritual, failed to show Americans a path to grieving after 9/11. In addition, political lassitude (the phrase used in the NY times) and private investment fears delayed rebuilding on the site, so that the scar has deepened, maintaining its hollowed, burned out image in the national psyche. These failures of spirit and courage, layered now with the anxiety and fears of the continued recession, lay down the ideals and historic beliefs of tolerance in the U.S.A., allowing them to be trampled by hatred and fears of "the other."

On the other hand, yesterday I experienced a dramatic production that demonstrated the power of voice and resiliency ( Because of that experience, and the thoughtful conversation that we had amongst the audience participants, I am not as depressed about today and events of late that have, in the past two weeks, brought me pretty low. Instead, I know that there are really good people, in every community, that have stories of hope and love. In one town, it's a lady trying to make a living by making t-shirts, in another city, it's a man trying to survive not only the memory of 9/11 but the reality of religious intolerance nine years later. We are all survivors of 9/11. How we rebuild the towers mirrors how we rebuild ourselves.

For my part, I choose, just for today, to be hopeful. To not forget the seeming randomness of death, but to be open to a deeper lesson of purposefulness and to find ways I can make my today purposeful for me and at least one other person my life touches.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

time in Phoenix

What started out as a mini vaca to see Cezanne and a Dbacks baseball game, ended up as a time to yes, see, Cezanne, but also to see old friends. My ankle was part of the reason for the shift in focus: even though I think I can handle walks and crowds, when I get close to making a decision about "entering the fray", I choose to be cautious and wait. Even standing in line for the Sea Life Aquarium proved to be too much pushing and shoving, so a choice to savor a brownies ala mode Haagen Daz while watching children grin on the Arizona Mills Mall carousel proved to be a better option.

The Phoenix Art Museum's Cezanna and modernist show was fantastic. It's there until late September so I encourage others to see it. Barnes and Noble offers a 2 for 2 admission and even a regular admission is well worth it. I discoverd Maurice Pendergast as one of my new favorites ( ) and appreciated anew Cezanne's influence on paiting, photography and sculpture. What if his father had succeeded in convincing Cezanne to become a banker or a lawyer? How many artists have we lost to such mundane but economically secure career choices? How many young ones are sitting at desks right now and turning aside from their creative pursuits to favor those paths which "promise" security?

In Cezanne's case, he was fortunate to have the means, finally, to pursue his passions. The idea of perspective that he turned forward (rather than backward) was new to me, rather its explanation was new to me, as so I learned a great deal at the exhibit as well as savoring the joy of art.

Visiting friends is another joyful experience. When I turn 85, if I get there, will I have the courage to travel solo for a month in Brazil, as my friend and mentor, SK, has done? If I am, when I get there, and I find myself facing isolation in a condo 10 miles from the promised beach ($34 dollars round trip by taxi), my only companion a Portuguese speaking caregiver, will I have the presence of mind, the fortitude of the soul to become an ethnographer and take daily notes of my social and political experiences?

If I am 78 and need three knee operations, will I suit up each morning for rehab so that I can reclaim my daily routine on the softball field?

Such are questions my friends' recent life adventures pose to my mealytoast ego. My anxieties seem to be produced by bad dreams (two featured drownings last night), family (or my) medical appointments, or the anticipation of a new project. I don't belittle my own life's challenges, really, but I can see that life has more twists and turns than even my imagination can conjure.

Cezanne painted almost 30 portraits of his wife. He did over a hundred scetches and paintings of "The Bathers". Such focus, like the courage of my friends, spins me into awe.

And then there is this group of nine women I met yesterday, part of the new project I am doing with Kore Press ( Appreciating the breadth and depth of experiences of this collective group gave me the feeling that I had just entered Star Trek's holideck--a place where I could only imagine being in a salon with such talent. Each woman spoke with her unique voice of identity and that harkened up the spirit of my Grandmother Dice for me. She was "formidable" (use the French accent, please). I think my mother was intimidated by her mother and had to find her own spiderweb like path to womanhood, but Grandmother showed me the strong spine of a female and I am ever grateful to her for it.

So I am so thankful we took time in Phoenix. It's definitely not a place where I want to live but it offers resources that, from time to time, expand my horizons.

Friday, September 3, 2010

looking closely

I read a short essay today (9/3, NY Times, editorial page) about looking closely at the small details of life. Of course, this isn't possible when a person is going fast or going with their eyes so directed inward they s/he can barely keep attention focused on their own, singular steps or isolated manuevers on the road.

My confession du jour is that I have been very inwardly focused of late, seemingly preoccupied, as soon as I become conscious in the morning, of the vulnerability of my physical body and so I spin into anxiousness. If I think about it past the morning newspaper (I am starting with the Sports and Lifestyle sections lately, and skimming the dour news sections only after I have eaten some protein), my awakening anxieties have been triggered, this past ten days, by disturbing dreams.

These dreams are about either my mom's last months of life or the projection of my dad's death. Not surprisingly I suppose, this started last week with my dad's appt. for a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. His dr. thought he had breast cancer but it wasn't; instead, his mass is a reaction to one of his daily medications. My fears about his death were interlaced with my yearly fear of breast cancer. This year his appointment coincided with news I had of a much younger work colleague who is now undergoing breast cancer treatment. So I think I have reached my tipping point on fear.

If, as the book on Positivity claims, in order to keep my head above the waters, I need to have a 3:1 ratio of positive versus negative thinking, I am not at that level. I have to work hard to keep it up to 2:1 (skipping sour national, local, international news is a must) and that's just not enough. [NOTE: I just did the 2 minute text at: and scored lower than I thought I would 1:1--so that confirms my downward spiral direction.]

So I am trying to get my eyes turned outward a bit and the cooler mornings these last two days helps me linger longer as I water my plants. I am hoping that our planned trip to Phoenix will also redirect my attention. First, on the white uniforms against a green diamond at a baseball game and second, on the slanted roofs of a village scene at a Cezanne exhibit. In the meantime, of course, like the essayist, I can look at the wings of a butterfly, the iridescent glimmer of a hummingbird's throat. Even as I take time to gaze the at one brown eye-one blue eye of my faithful dog, Lia, I can absorp the attention and love she shines back at me.
I can do these simple acts of seeing outward, looking closely and maybe the scale will tip toward curiousity, hope and awe. That's my goal for the day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

it's a beautiful day

I just heard this year's American Idol winner, Lee D??, sing his song, "It's a Beautiful Day", and when it ended I turned off the t.v.--I didn't want to hear about "home grown terrorists whose central headquarters is in Minneapolis", or about the market diving down each day like starving seagulls searching for absent fish. Nope, I wanted to start my day with the title of his song.

Because it rained last night (actually, it hailed too, but somehow the sound of hail, even the word, hail, is harsh and not lovely, like the word, rain); so, it rained in the desert, blew away the dust, settled the scents from trees and bushes, stirred up animal actions of frogs and lizard, cajoled the birds to sing with lustiness and lifted up the butterflies with more light and pollen-teasing on the subsequent breezes.

Because I took my 91 year old dad for a mammogram and ultrasound yesterday and he doesn't have cancer. Because I showed up for him even though my own trepidations of even walking into the radiologist's medical plaza incurs stress on my digestive system. Because I did community work last night with new colleagues I like, trust, respect and met people I didn't know but who care about their community and the lives of people who live on the other side of Tucson.

Because I can now make a decent omelet--thanks to Julia Child--and because the jam on my bread this morning tasted like farm jam my grandmother used to make.

Because my ankle stiffness is lessening, the aches are less harsh and I can function more normally in every day tasks.

Because I have friends, family and community that I belong to. Because I can read and write and explore new worlds by putting words and thoughts together.

It is a beautiful day. Because I said so.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

a bit out of sync

I am a bit out of sync today and don't feel like doing house chores after getting groceries this a.m. We have to eat, of course, although one of the habits that hasn't come back since my ankle accident is my interest in making new recipes. I simply don't feel like cooking at all. Even the recipes in magazines don't interest me as they used to. I still like to eat, still have the five pounds on that came from New Orleans or earlier this summer, but prepping at home is something I don't want to do. I will make a nice omelet for breakfast and maybe a weekend lunch repast of tasty sandwich and fruit but, other than that, I am not the cook I once was. It could be the weather as well--hot and humid--but whatever the cause, our grocery list is just for the basics.

Yesterday we went to Mt. Lemmon and it was gorgeously green and cool. Pink and yellow wildflowers dotted the roadside and there were crevices of yellow black-eyed susans winding their way through the green ferns and grasses. We picniced, read our favorite books and napped. Went to Summerhaven for the street scene of Tucsonans, young and old, new UA students, families with babies and dogs in tow, smiling in a relaxed way at each other, grateful for the 72 degrees instead of the 100 plus temperature in the valley. I slept well but even woke up not especially charged up to swim. I did my neighborhood thirty minutes before groceries and now just want to relax again. My ankle did well yesterday--I even walked a bit on the newly paved road leading to the UA observatory. Today it feels a bit tired, so that's another excuse I have for not picking up the dust rags.

It rained in the valley late last night and broke a few flower stems. The rain is worth their loss, certainly, but I hate cutting off flowered stems and sending them into the garbage. As I sit here and watch them bend over like sad little ladies I sometimes see at church (when I go)--hunched over with curved backs that demonstrate the unwillingness or unknowingness of that generation of women who, like my mom, didn't take calcium for osteoporosis--I want to take care of them and not let them just die. So my big action for this late morning will go trim them and make a small bouquet to put in the glass vase that sits empty on the table outside. That reminds me that I bought two new pots this week for inside cuttings to make root. I can do that later when the sun is off the back yard.

So maybe I will just take what limited energy I seem to have today and nurture my plants. Dust bunnies and wastepaper can just wait for another day.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

simple things

I didn't have my sunglasses this morning (left them in the car last night) so I know the light was different as I walked back to the house after swimming. And maybe that is why the leaves on the bougainvilla looked soft and green, the pink blossoms teasing me with their crinkled petals.

On the tv show, Sunday Morning, my favorite part is always the last two minute video of nature. Today they showed sea anoemenes (sp?) off the Washington state coast. They glittered under the shallow waters. It was reassuring to see water not stained by oil slicks, for a change.

Yesterday we took Dad out for lunch and to a Saturday matinee--Tom Cruise's summer action flick. Dad really enjoyed the movie. With his failing eyesight, I am not sure what he can or cannot see, but he sat on the edge of his seat almost the whole time. He insisted Jay Leno played a bit part as a mechanic in one scene and while I know it wasn't Jay, the illusion of it gave him additional pleasure, so maybe it was Jay Leno to him and that's okay. He lost one of his Cascades swimming and pokers buddies the night before and it was an unexpected death, so to see him lose some of that grief in the frivolity of Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz riding a red Ducati on the streets on Spain, surrounded by (computer generated?) spike horned black bulls--well, to see Dad joyous was the best part of the afternoon for me.

After a roller coaster week with my ankle and Aron getting a piece of metal (from work) in his eye, I cherish the simple things on the weekend. We went to the Desert Diamond Hotel Casino last night--I wanted to walk a little and at 97 degrees in the evening, inside AC is a requirement. The cost of the adventure was $10.00 on the stingy slots, but there are other kinds of payoffs. As we waited for a loooooong train to pass on Prince, I noted the various countries reprsented by the stacked cargo: China, Italy, Japan, Korea, Switzerland. I tried to imagine the thousands of stories pressed within the cargo--what the products were, who made them, who guided the cranes to put them on the train (from the ships), who navigated the ships...endless possibilities of stories. And then, at the Casino, they have a pretty nice lobby museum of Tohono O'Odham crafts and ancient artifacts. And again, my mind imagined the artists, the women who wove the baskets, the men who played games, the ancient ones who painted red ocre on the pots that were used to feed children and elders.

So it's the simple things that can keep stories rolling in my head. It doesn't have to be the front page story or the headlines in the news. Instead, it can be the tiny yellow sea creature, swimming by a fern, living in an underground universe humans haven't yet completely destroyed.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

they say the monsoons are drying up

It's not bad enough that the stock market keeps dropping, that friends and colleagues are losing their jobs, that family bank accounts, including mine, can barely keep up with bills even though cancelling magazine subscriptions escalates; no, that's not bad enough: today I heard the weatherperson say the monsoons are drying up. Apparently after so many days of dropping dew points, they can make such a conclusion and although we have had slightly above normal rainfall, what we desert dwellers know is that, although the monsoons may dry up, the heat isn't going away for about a month or more.

Yes, we can see that the shadows lengthen earlier in the evening, but it's still 100 degrees when the sun goes down. Yes, we notice that the birds sing later in the morning, but it's already 82 degrees when toast is being buttered for breakfast. It's summer heat without the "big bang bonanza" at the end of a sweltering day. The monsoon is something to talk about other than the lousy economy or SB 1070. "Where were you when the lightening struck?" "How much rainfall at your house?" "Did you notice the desert toads in the swimming pool?"

Without the monsoons, table conversation turns downward like our moods. It's time to roast green chilis on the sidewalk and say "the heck with this; it's summer and I am tired of trying to be cheery and smart. I want to take a siesta all day and wake up to a cool breeze from the North."

It's not easy to accept the reality of days of summer until Halloween. By the time the goblins come out, our skins are dried as the dead grass, and, like the dying flowers of summer, we have lost our bloom and sag like empty bags of mesquite flour.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

remembrance weekend

Today marks the one year anniversary of my mom's death. I wanted to go up to Mt. Lemmon and sail a paper airplane into a canyon, but my ankle this morning was telling me to keep it simple, so we did: Mark and I went to the Tucson Botanical Gardens, a favorite spot of mom's, and we read some poems from a book that belonged to her parents, with marked passages in poems by Robert Burns, William Cullen Bryant, Lord Byron and William Wordsworth. Several of the poems I recalled hearing from my Grandparents and most of them had wisdom that would speak to an agrarian community, such as my Grandparents' and mom's childhood years. Two or three spoke of life and death, and, in their verses, encouraged a stalwart stoicsim that I believe I witnessed in my Grandparents Dice and in mom.

We sat in the Mexican Garden area of TBG, one of my favorite shady places within this urban oasis and watched a red male cardinal pick seeds from the earth. Butterflies shook their wings at us as they drank nectar from crepe myrtle. It was lovely and I really felt mom's presence in that space.

Yesterday we took Dad out to the food court at Park Place. Young families were bustling about with bags from Old Navy, filled, I suspect, with clothes for youngsters getting ready for school that starts next week. Dad really enjoys watching the children run about and feels connected to the young soldiers in Air Force or Army uniforms. He eats his pizza with gusto and although it's no town square we are visiting, there is a sense of community in the retail mall that reassures participants that life has continuity as babies are fed in their strollers and toddlers romp on the small playground inside a air-controlled desert shopping mall.

It's not easy in our secular world to find public places with meaning, but, if our hearts are open, they can be found. I am grateful, that on this weekend of remembrance, I found mine.

Friday, August 6, 2010

end of the week

This week seemed to fly by and I have to watch that trend so that a relapse from the slow life to pre-ankle injury normal speed does not take place. I don't need to ramp up in that way. I need to still take things one step at a time and focus on balance--literally.

While my ankle continues to progress in strength, I have a long way to go, it seems. My mind keeps me from putting full weight on just the right leg as I practice stepping on a flat "ladder" at physical therapy. I seem to have soreness and my arch if I stand too long as I did this week at a work reception. A mantra I hear from my physical therapist is "focus on your core"--meaning my posture, glut muscles and hips so that I aligned and centered. As I seem to have more ankle flex, my calf muscle, front and back, aches more. My thigh muscle is still atropied so that I notice it, but probably no one else does. I have my ankle taped for the weekend which makes my ligments and soft tissue "remember" how to work properly. The tape also seems to serve as fake pressure on my soft tissue similar to the way Kevin, at ProActive, applies before I start my workout. As a result, today, I had new twinges on top of my foot as well as around the inside area of my ankle (where the dislocation extended the tissue the farthest and where, I suspect, somehow my two pins are located). Anyway, I just need to be aware and take care as I walk along, at a slow and reasonable pace.

My work life has gotten busy but not with real billable hours. This month appears to be very slim on income--again. That depresses me as I listen to the unemployment numbers and hear the stories of two more friends/colleagues who have lost their jobs in the past three weeks. I said "yes" maybe too quickly to a couple of projects that will pay a little but not much return on my time investment. I have to learn (still) the lesson of asking more questions before signing on to a project. I respond quickly because my ego gets in the way. The one project I was most doubtful about is the one that is turning out to be the most exciting and that's a good thing.

Sunday marks the one year anniversary of my mom's death. I was going through my closet today and found one of her jackets that still smells like her. That was comforting to me and I am beginning to be open to reworking some writing about her. Eventually, I will relook at older photos, too, but not quite yet. I hope to get to Mt. Lemmon and read a poem aloud, maybe make a paper airplane with the poem on it and let it soar in the canyons--. When I get paid, I will make a small donation to Reading Seed because mom loved to read to us and, in the end, that was the last pleasure I think she had: to be read to, as she drifted into River Styx.

Death looms its tentacles around my summer plants, brought on my heat and blowing winds. It's a part of the cycle but when it affects family and friends, it tears me into little bits of soul.

This sounds very sad and gloomy and I am more tired than sad and gloomy. I hope to sleep in past 6 a.m. tomorrow and appreciate the lengthening shadows of early morning as, very slowly, the sun begins to shift toward the end of summer. So, at the end of the week, I want to be grateful for my health, for the family and friends I can open up and be myself with, whom I can support and for the sunsets which glimmer with rainbows in the distant mountains.

Monday, August 2, 2010

the way we live now

If you have access to check it out, there's an interesting essay in this Sunday's NY Times magazine, entitled: "I Tweet, therefore I am."

As you may recall, about a month ago, I made a blog entry that resulted in a widening chasm between myself and my sister. I seem to have become yet another writer of blogs who, unintentionally, posted a reflection that was intended, in my mind, to be semi-private (read by those who I knew were reading my blog) but was, more or less, public. In this article, cited above, the writer asks:

"...when every thought become externalized, what becomes of insight? When we reflexively post each feeling, what becomes of reflection?..."

These are important questions, and, as sister-writers, I thought I would share them with you to ponder, as I do.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

after new orleans

I have a lot to write about following my return a six day trip to New Orleans but this probably won't be where I will do it--I have a journal full of food notes, and photos, and bits and pieces of papers, maps, brochures, etc., that I want to try to put in an art journal. But since I haven't written at all, this is a good place to start.

I walked a lot on the trip--maybe pushed it to the edge on a couple of days but it's hard to be in a city like New Orleans and not walk a lot, especially if my travel partner likes to walk. But neither my doctor checkup yesterday (not with my surgeon but with my primary doc) nor my PT session proved to find any negative outcomes from my extended walking, so that's good. I have two tapes on my ankle now instead of one to try to encourage my ligaments to work properly again. It's a bit uncomfortable but I am keeping it on--I kept on the one tape for the whole trip and that seemed to be okay.

Today I had my first counseling session which was put off from April to now, due to the accident. The counselor, a woman, seems nice; we'll see how it goes. With the anniversary of mom's death 8/8 and other issues emerging, I have plenty to work through with a neutral party.

I didn't want to come home to the burden of some of my responsibilities, but I missed the desert, Mark, Aron and Lia--not in that order, or maybe, yes, in that order. I don't like to set priorities so it's the whole package of what I listed that I missed. I didn't miss work; not one bit. I didn't miss emails or websites; not one bit. I missed Star Trek which I couldn't find on the La. channels. Last night we watched it and it was so good--all about the ego and what we learn, even when we are as wise as Capt. Picard. His voice is what I imagine a masculine god's would be--. Not a bad way to go to sleep at night, i.e. listening to the voice of Patrick Stewart.

It's clouding up but I don't think we'll get rain tonight so I watered my plants. During my absence, my "wild" bird of paradise exploded with orange and red colors. A nice image to come home to.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

sunday glow

Even though we haven't been blitzed by the heavy monsoons yet, the sunsets have been spectacular. A combination of the dust and humidity, clouds and setting sun transform the skies into soft shades of blue, gold, pink and lavender. I love this time of evening.

It's been a good weekend with chores, errands but also time for reading, resting, exercise (swimming, Y bicycling and weights). Sort of a lazy summer time when the the 100 plus degrees totally justify, even demand, living a slow life.

I am looking forward to my trip to New Orleans for the NEH PrimeTime training. The humidity will match the heat, no doubt, but there will be music, beignets and new colleagues to meet. Rita and I are flying together, so I won't be alone in navigating the Dallas and New Orleans airports.

It's a good time to be leaving. Today's local newspaper had a blistering article on the road projects in Tucson and, of course, the one I have been working on, Grant Road ( is one of them. It's hard to read all the criticism and complaints about a project that has taken my energies and interests for 4 years and which, I know, used incredible skills and talents, commitment and trust to get this far. And now, amidst the recession's fall out, the fear and resentments, another attempt to move my community forward may bite the dust or, at the very least, become much less than its potential.

Mark and I went to look at some real estate today; mostly out of curiousity and I felt so disheartened between the disconnect of economic reality and what "the market" is asking for in small condo conversions or town homes. No wonder no one is buying right now--the market is too tight, prices too high and wages too low. We are grateful for our modest home and the mortgage that goes down bit by bi each month. So from there, we went to Borders and I ate up the pictures from a French magazine. No traveling over the ocean anytime soon. Even our hoped for trip to the West Coast for my aunt's 97th birthday may not happen this year. I just checked at and the airline and hotel packages are much higher than last year. Oh, well, we may just have to make a phone call this year and, again, be grateful for the opportunities we have had in the past.

Adjustments aren't easy to make but I won't let these facts darken the glow of Sunday's sunset.

Friday, July 16, 2010

end of the week

A full week for me with the following:

Monday: Swam in the neighborhood pool. Later, I met with Dr. C and she "signed me off" unless I a) have problems and/or b) want the harware removed after a year passes. It was kind of strange to have such a pivotal relationship just end, but that's modern medical care. I am grateful for her care and hope I don't have to return for more surgery, but we'll see how the healing goes.

Tuesday: Swam really early and then went to a very interesting Imagine Greater Tucson meeting and learned about techie-stuff that is not my usual professional interest. There are smart people in our town and, in particular, I enjoy listening to the younger generation share their knowledge. I also had phscial therap AND a Grant Road Task Force meeting, so it was a very full day for me and I was tired when I got home. I could only hang in for Star Trek for 15 minutes.

Wednesday: Did swimming routine at the Y. Picked up Dad to go to lunch--our first outing since my accident. He was depressed about some aches and pains and anxious about seeing his doctor the next day. Once he and I talk through politics a bit, Tiger Woods (he's more a fan of Tiger than I am) and the White Sox which we both follow, we have very little to talk about. That saddens me, but I am trying to practice acceptance about familial issues. Mark and I went to the Y in the eve and I biked, did weights but both were hard for me to do. I could feel a slight mental uplift afterward which I needed. I read a New Yorker mag article about double agency--a philosophical concept that attempts to explain God and humans' free will. Interesting. Here's a link I found to a short explanation of it:

Thursday: Swam before Imagine Greater Tucson meeting; both were invigorating in different ways. I also stopped by a nonprofit and realized how out of the mental practice I have become to talk about my work--I couldn't remember where my business cards were in my purse. Mark and I had lunch and then I had PT again. My therapist(s) said I am making remarkable progress and I can begin to see it, but it's a lot of work. I have about 10 exercises to do at home now, twice a day. Somedays I do two sets, sometimes only one, but I am doing the best I can. We watched Star Trek all the way to 11 p.m. Weird Klingon/exchange program story which, as usual, had undertows of moral reasoning.

Friday: I had ordered a cupcake/cake from Safeway as a thankyou treat to the Lighthouse Y guards and staff who helped me in my ankle recovery. I picked it up and took it to the Y early. It was very pretty, in a pool shape with water rafts and life preserver. I hope it tasted as good as it looked. I did a short bicycle
routine and weights before my swim and then I met my friend, Rita, for lunch. She and I are flying to New Orleans together next Thursday-Tuesday for a training with the National Endowment for the Humanities. I guess there are materials that I got in the mail that I better review this weekend, call the hotel, etc. Soon I need to go to the UA and have a couple of student workers help me move a few boxes from there into the car and, later, at home, move them into my office. I won't get to that reorganization task till after New Orleans.

It's very cloudy, "soupy" outside and I hope we get some rain but none so far. All of us desert dwellers get edgy by mid-July if the monsoons have been slow in starting. We need the shift of moisture, ions, smells and sensations that the summer rains bring.

I just heard from Aron who sounds gloomy, too. I guess he has to move again and just found out about it. Maybe at some point he will stop relying on "friends" who really aren't there for him and get to the point where he feels he deserves to be treated better. That's his journey, and I have mine, so, for today, this week, I confess this is the most writing I have done (tho I wrote a short poem about Aron earlier this week so I will give myself credit for that). I feel my eyelids drooping, time for a summer siesta.

Monday, July 12, 2010

surgeon's sign off

Just a quick note that Dr. C., my surgeon gave me the "heave ho" and I give the boot the "heave ho", too. She didn't say "heave ho," of course. More like, "we are done here; you are good to go." Some other brief comments about the xrays, my ankle movement (great, excellent), and reassurance about 3 more months of anticipated recovery with swelling and aches. But beyond that, I should be healing up--and no return visit planned unless the hardware (plate and screws) bother me and she has to surgically remove them a year or so from now. I am hoping to avoid that, but just grateful for good healing, good care, loving hubby, supportive friends/chauffeurs and the Grace of a Higher Power.

I read "Bird by Bird" today while in the waiting room and wrote my 300+ words while at Rincon Market, enjoying a cafe au lait and blueberry turnover. I also wrote a poem this morning and will post it later.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

from blogging to essays to art journaling

Well, my writing explorations are not ending but expanding. I guess that's what a "kick in the pants" can do--either cripple a person or get him/her turned into a new direction. So a couple of quick updates:

My writing friend/mentor has suggested I work on these entries for future essays (you can comment and let me know if you agree or disagree, have others to add):

6/27 "Poet who lost her words."
4/14 "Magical Moments"
4/26 "Getting Dressed"
5/27 "Effects of a Flower Moon"
6/24 "Midsummer Day"
She also identified the post ankle surgery "26 plus in 24 hours".

I bought the Art Journal magazine yesterday (and a 4x6 inch sketch book) and have several ideas for starting an art journal. I guess, when I went to Florence, I already had begun one, by combining text with bus tickets, receipts, etc. But I didn't know it was an art journal.

As I look at the title selected I think most of them, if not all, could be titles of poems, too. That would be an interesting exercise. So we'll see what happens. If I had a scanner (which I don't right now), I guess there's a way to scan visuals from an art journal onto a website, blog, etc. Since I also have a stories website, I might consider that. We'll "see."