Saturday, December 24, 2011

short and sweet--truisms time

Brrr, it was cold last night. Definitely in the deep, dark winter in the desert. I just fed the birds and they are flocking together for the seed. The deceptively sunny light suggests we only need light jackets but, instead, scarves and gloves are needed as neighbors (and my hubby) walk the dogs.

I put on our own collection of holiday CDs this morning, tired of hearing the same old pop music played over and over again on the radio. I favor "The River" by Joanie Mitchell as a recent addition and Tony Bennett's "Harold Square" a classical ballad to add to the seasonal song list.

How do I feel about the Season? Cautiously optimistic--I wish I could throw my caution to the winds and be joyous and maybe I will toss my hat into the ring and give it up for a day or two...but, to be honest, a slight shift from my sometimes dour gazing at a cup half empty is progress, if not perfection, for me. A book I recently read on abundance suggests that a 2-10% shift in attitude from scarcity to abundance can make a difference in daily life, so I will take that margin of difference and run with it.

I wrote in my morning pages today how memories shared from my grandparents and mom take me back to generations' of experiences that were not part of my life but I feel connected to them by the memories of memories. I guess that's why, as the NY Times reported today, 84% of us who once believed in Santa Claus want the magic and mystery of the secular season to continue for present and future generations. If someone else can believe in Zuzu's petals, then we can all share in a Wonderful Life.

So count the truisms planted in this posting or just chuckle a bit and have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

darkening skies

Do you ever dream so deeply that the dream seems more distinct than your first wakening moments? Does it surprise you that, in your dream, you can see the past and present melt into one time? Do you realize that what binds them together is not only memory but also the imagining of what might have been? That the choices of your life may have turned on a single moment when you chose to let go of that step in order to go another way? And, do you wonder if the way you chose was the way to your authentic Self, or did you run away from what you could have been?

Amidst those kind of questions (and I confess, I don't have many answers to those I have just posed), I share this morning poem.

Darkening Skies

I savor the season of the Winter Solstice.
I slumber with darkening skies.
As brown birds fluff their wings to warm,
I wrap a green coverlet around my shoulders.
I dream deeply of a friend
who walked tall and called my name
with a melody of the South in his voice.
It was a time of the past,
but, upon awakening,
he is with me now, holding my hand.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

poem by Rainer Marie Rilke

In the book I have been reading today (inside all day, due to the rains), I found an excerpt of a poem that you can find at this link: http://picture-poems.com/week2/evening.html

bargemusic

I love the NY Times for its arts and culture and travel sections, the Book Review insert and, often but not always, its magazine. I skim the news and editorials and linger only over those articles that peak my curiousity and/or imagination. Often the obituaries appeal to my need to connect to the life stories of others, answering my question about "what difference does my/their life make?"

Here's a woman who did make a difference and continues to inspire a unique NY contemporary since 1977, Olga Bloom, the creator of Bargemusic. http://www.bargemusic.org . The link tells the story about this woman who died this year, on Thanksgiving at the age of 92. A trained classical violinist she (to quote the mini-editorial about her in the Times): "gambled her widow's mite", convinced that a 1988 steel barge could be retrofitted with mahogany and cherry woods to enhance the acoustic sound of chamber music. Four days a week, 52 weeks a year, for the similar cost of an orchestra ticket (and a free hour concert with a "mystery" musical program), patrons can rock in a tethered barge, listen to the music and, if their seating allows, enjoy the Manhattan skyline.

Olga expected "'uncompromising music" based on her belief (more from the Times) that "every thought, every feeling, every act of ours is thrown out into the universe."

The weighed scales of my life tip back and forth through the days, months, years--as does the scale of your life. If Olga was right about our "every thought..." I would like to send out this posting as one element to be valued on my scale's side of goodness and life. The Times said that Olga Bloom lived a good life and, I suspect, brought goodness to others' lives through music.

What strains of good thoughts... have you thrown out to the universe today?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

moving stuff

This weekend, my husband and his two sisters have been busy moving stuff out of his dad's house (and to Goodwill, their respective houses or ???) in order to get the house ready to rent in January. In my own way, I have tried to be helpful and my husband thinks I am, so that's good.

But it's been a very different process from the one my sister and I experienced three years ago, moving stuff out of my folk's Green Valley house. Two major characteristics define the differences: one, my folks were neat-niks. According to my mom, and her mother before her, "everthing in its place" was a daily life motto. Probably passed down from their Germanic ancestors, this element also shines, tho less brightly, in my own home, and certainly distinguishes my home office from my husband's. Another defining element is the modesty at which my folks lived. They bought furniture from Montgomery Ward and "good china" was a set from Brussels that Dad bought on his return from WWII. Art work on their walls consisted on a paint-by-number sailboat scene that Dad produced one year as he as fighting depression, sparked, we think now, by WWII PSTD.

In contrast, my husband's parents bought over a dozen dark, brooding original oil paintings from their friend, Gene MacKaben. He studied under the Mexican artist, Orosco, and while I doubt his paintings will ever have major value, the work is unique and deserved the deliberate choosing that was demonstrated in the past three months by my husband's family. Crockery by another local artist also generated weeks of cross-country internet photos and an all-night selection process by my sisters-in-law. (We had inherited a single set of dinnerware from the same artist when my mother-in-law died and didn't need any more, so we were out of that all-nighter).

Today, it gets down to photos, clothes and the big push to squeeze all that my father-in-law thinks he wants into his one bedroom, already cluttered, assisted-living apartment. I will need to stand back and watch a lot of this "sausage-making" home decoration take place and take solace in the established orderliness of my dad's same square footage in his independent-living apartment at the same retirement community.

As I look around our house (and less organized garage), I sort of smile as I try to imagine our son picking and choosing what will stay with him, go to charity, get thrown into the dumpster, etc. He doesn't have siblings to squabble with, but neither will he have them to soften the sorrow with shared memories of better times. Oh, well, we all have our stuff to carry and to let go of.

How are you handling all the stuff you have accumulated in your life?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A mackerel sky

Today/Wednesday is my usual day to read the Travel section of the NY Times. I actually woke up today and said to myself, "ah, this morning I am looking forward to reading the NY Times and wherever it takes me."

Well, I highly recommend the cover page of the travel section from 12/4/11 to my readers. "My Life in Hotels" by Guy Trebay is a joyful way to start or end one's day. There are so many wonderful phrases and descriptions, along with bits of "hotel-stay advice" in the article. But the one that made me get up from my comfortable chair and look into the Webster's was his phrase "mackerel sky." I only knew of the fish and couldn't quite make the connection. Yet, there it was in the dictionary with an entry all of its own (no, I am not going to give it away--look it up for yourself). And when I read it, I agreed that it made a perfect description of the sky outside his window in Gallup, N.M. I have often seen "a mackerel sky" in Tucson and on drives East and North of here, so now I have a new phrase to use in my writing. In thanks to Mr. Trebay, the least I can do is suggest others read and appreciate his writing.

So, in spite of the fact that I still have to stretch my brain to connect a fish to the sky, I like the challenge to do it and am joyful in the experience of how a few words can make my day worth living.

P. S. He also picked five hotels worth a visit and one was The Thunderbird Lodge in Chinle.

http://www.tbirdlodge.com/

Sunday, December 4, 2011

beauty in the ordinary things of life

Here is a short list of ordinary things I see or recall this morning and appreciate for their beauty:

1. The shape of a dove's wing
2. Rain drops glistening on a small-leafed Texas Ranger bush
3. The taste of English Breakfast tea with a topping of warm milk.
4. The multiple shades of grey in the sky, on the black-topped, rain-soaked street.
5. The simple perfection of a banana--how easy it is to peel back the rubbery skin, bite into the soft and soothing fruit and mix it up with peanut butter.
6. Jimmy Stewart's face of joy in the final scene of "It's a Wonderful Life."
7. The arc of a basketball (UA) as it flies from three point lane into the basket.
8. A dessert dish at the Arizona Inn prepared with mini bites of flourless chocolate cake, pumpkin mousse and praelines, banana cream fluff, rosey pink maccaroon, and thinly sugar-crusted creme brulee, artfully arranged around the chocolate syrup message of "Happy Birthday."
9. Winter lights of white and blue shining in our neighbor's yards.
10. The hug of a friend dressed in colors of lime.

Can you list 10 glances of beauty that you appreciate?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

remembering patterns



While in Warren/Bisbee at the historic home tour this past weekend, one of the homes had a general store out back that had pieces of a U.S. Postal teller window, ice cream parlor, and items for sale that one would find at a real General Store years ago. One of the items that caught my eye, and was captured in this photo by my friend who accompanied me, is this cabinet that displays clothing patterns.



Although I have inherited the sewing cabinet my dad made in high school wood work class which my mother used frequently to store her thimbles, needles and thread, I haven't gone to the still-filled drawers to use the contents for a sewing project. My mom used to store patterns in the side cupboards of her cabinet and I recall her carefully unfolding and refolding the tan tissue-paper and making sure all the "pieces" were in order before she put them into the envelope, usually labeled as a McCall's or Butterick product. She sewed my sister and my ballet costumes , casual clothing and Ginny and Jill doll clothes and, of course, mended my dad's socks and "lowered" the hems of our skirts and pants as we grew taller as children.



As a child, when my mom bought a new pattern for an outfit, it meant that the kitchen table would be soon filled with the sewing cabinet contents and that she would be intensely busy, pins in her mouth, purple marking chalk in her hand, scissors nearby, placing her carefully selected fabric under the pattern paper and preparing to create a finished garment.



All that and more comes back to me as I gaze at this cabinet and remembering how important patterns were in my mother's life. What kind of objects do you have that recall good memories of your childhood?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

On Friday morning, after a late night, Thanksgiving rain, my hubby took this photo at our nearby Rio Vista Park, while walking our 12 year old dog, Lia. The drip of rain on the mesquite puffs makes the highlight of the photo. (There's probably a name for these biological products, but their soft, fuzzy texture reminds me of cotton ball puffs, hence the descriptor I have chosen for them.) It's been a lovely Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. Yesterday, we went to Bisbee for the Historic Home Tour and another couple met us there for a light lunch, walk along Main Street and then a short trip to "suburban Bisbee", Warren to view several of the 13 homes on the tour. Today, Mark and I walked along the Rillito for 45 mins. and it surprised us to see so few walkers and even bicyclists on such a glorious November day. I suspect, had we walked the retail malls, that's where the bulk of the population was hanging out. All the better for us then, that the sunshine and solitary kestral on a post were there for our appreciation. What did you do this holiday that lifted your spirit above the turkey bird and into a higher realm?


Sunday, November 20, 2011

we gather together

Today I really needed the "big Methodist music" that the Catalina Methodist Church is known for and, fortunately, it doesn't take much of it to lift me up out of my November gloominess. As the organ soars and the brass quintet trills, I let in the sense of comfort and sadness that comes from my memories of singing in the choir at United Methodist Church in Elgin, gazing down from the balcony to see my dad as church usher and see my mom standing beside her mother and dad. From those memories, I take strength and appreciate the lessons learned that have helped me these past years.

This third holiday season without my mom is no less sorrowful than the past two. I don't know why this is. I think I expect to have my grief lessened but it doesn't feel less, maybe even heavier this year. My Grandparents Dice have been gone over 35 years and I still miss them, and when there are people who matter in life, their absence is felt and not forgotten. Instead, we go about our daily life with a hollow spot in our souls that doesn't get filled or softened; it just is.

The minister talked about how, at this national holiday, the focus is not on what we "get" (i.e. Christmas) or "do" (4th of July, Memorial and Labor Days). Rather the focus is on what we eat.
And, I would add, it is on with whom we share our table. Is it family, friends, strangers? The worse situation I think would be to be alone--and I know there are many we are. This year, we'll gather at my sister's house and later in the weekend, probably have a second gathering when our sous chef son is able to join us. I have recipes tucked away to review for the holiday season menu, but mostly, I wish the days would be longer, extend past 24 hours, so that more could be experienced at this darkening time of year. In that way, I could collect more memories to treasure--pull them out of my mind with a magic wand as Professor Dumbledore does in the Harry Potter stories: long grey tendrils of brain tissue that, when swirled into a golden bowl, can be relived with complete sensory experience.

But, alas, I lack the magic wand and golden bowl, so I do the best as I can. Such as today, when the notes from the familiar hymns conjure up faces and embraces that make me grateful for the times of the past when we gathered together and grateful for times of the present when we still do.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

velocity impact

Okay, full disclosure: I have NEVER taken a physics class nor do I intend to in the near future. But, in one of my dreams last night (during a good night's sleep), I had an exam with VI = and, in the dream, I asked about what VI meant. The male person in the dream explained to me that it meant "velocity impact" and I countered (typical me, even in a dream) that the test was unfair to women because we wouldn't necessarily have the context for the formula.

When I awoke, I asked my hubby: "is there such a thing as 'velocity impact'?" And he said, "sure" and began to explain it to me as, in one example, the point where a plane can stall in the air.

So where did that come from for my dream? Maybe--and this is a long shot--it was the 15 second visual clip I saw on Ch. 4 news about the Air National Guard's F16 flight? There was a mathematical formula that literally flashed on the screen and I thought, "oh, I don't get this" and clicked the remote to another channel. But--did my mind take in that quick glimpse (if even velocity impact was part of the video clip).

If so (or even more strangely, if not from that clip), is my subconscious more "open" to flashes of insight and imagination due to my two recent hypnotherapy sessions? Is more input being filtered through my consciousness into my subconsciousness than I am aware of and, if so, how can I channel that into my creativity?

Big questions for early morning ruminations. And here's a link to a source that explains "velocity impact" to a non-physics student such as I am. http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/flobi.html

Sunday, November 13, 2011

a weekend of weddings

Years can go by without a wedding in our lives and then, this weekend, we had two. For two very different couples at different stages of their lives, they shared the promise of two people choosing to commit to a shared life together.

One took place in a Buddhist Temple with golden walls and hundreds of Buddhas on the altar. There was a smiling Buddha, a dancing Buddha, a rabbit Buddha. Two strings wound round the heads of the woman and man, gently tethering them together during the ceremony as the Abbott and assistant chanted tones that resonated rhythms of beating hearts.

At the other wedding, a set of vintage white doors served as the backdrop while red ribbons hung from a wire, joining two aged trees. Nearby, parasols were hung upside down on sparkling lights to catch drops from the impending evening shower.

Isn't it amazing, that amidst the gloom of the week, in spite of the odds that life will challenge both couples in their quest to live "happily ever after"--we still choose to endure the gloom, face the odds, and move forward, holding hands as we enter the dark forest of life.

I think we scatter crumbs on the path as we go, not only to find our way back but to offer others a way into the forest, to take the risk of the adventure, even though a wicked witch may have the hunger to eat us for dinner.

Fairy Tales abound in our lives (two new television shows with Fairy Tale themes launched over Halloween weekend and my husband and I are hooked into the one called "Grimm") because they give mythic meaning to our everyday choices. I hope both couples (and the other 75,000 in Vegas who chose this 11/11/11 weekend to get married and all those who "jumped the broom" or "broke the glass" or did whatever their religion or culture suggests as part of the matrimonial ritual) have good, long lives together. But, if they don't, they will always have this weekend when they took the risk and walked into the forest, together.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

more Life continued



One of my followers wrote that "more Life in her life" meant digging deeper. I think that meaning works for me as well. I am reading "The Trance of Scarcity" and today started to craft new stories of meaning for myself; stories that, unlike my current stories, don't come from perspectives of scarcity, lack, separation, incompleteness. Rather my new stories intentionally speak to me of being part of an abundant flow of life, what Julie Cameron refers to as the Creative Source, or River of Creativity (Artist's Way).






So, just for today---what new story can you create for yourself, originating from abundance, not scarcity?






Here's a California/Long Beach way photo my husband took a few days ago. Enjoy.



Sunday, November 6, 2011

more Life in my life

Three days ago, I had my second hypotherapy session and unlike my first, I came ready to let go and experience the relaxation. Somewhere in between an images of a GPS screen (Mark and I used ours daily while in Long Beach), a yellow door floating in the air, and the last light of the sun sinking into the west over the Pacific Ocean, making the light dance on the water--I observed myself thinking: this is what serenity feels like. It seemed to last only a moment but I am grateful I had that glimmer into a deeper sense of peace.

In between then and now, I have returned to my life of ups and downs with daily challenges and moments of grace. Yesterday at breakfast, I blurted out to Mark (in between skimming articles in the NY Times), "I want more Life in my life!" He started to laugh he was so surprised by my comment and I was surprised at the intensity of the phrase and how true the words seemed to me. I believe they came from a deeper part of me, touched by the Thursday therapy session.

And so, I am considering what "more Life in my life" means to me. It's not the same as "more Life out of life"--that suggests taking something from something. No, it means, I think, putting something more into something -- or being open to something more coming into my life.

After our Chinese Dinner tonight at The Lotus Garden (really wonderful Egg Drop Soup, bbq spareribs, chicken chop suey and sweet and sour chicken), my fortune cookie read: Big Changes ahead. The dark side of my mind went to "something bad might happen", but then I realized that in the world of Chinese Fortune cookies, the marketing message is positive, so I relaxed and became open to "big changes" can mean "good changes"--. And maybe that's a cosmic response (pretty quick, if it is) to me saying yesterday, "I want more Life in my life."

So, I will keep you posted on what comes through the yellow door, guided by my cosmic GPS system and/or waiting for me on the western ocean-lit horizon.

In the meantime, what does "more Life in my life" mean to you?

Monday, October 31, 2011

just back from Long Beach

I have a couple of menus and websites to share along with pictures of our 4 day visit to Long Beach, California and surrounding areas.

We visited with my 98 year old auntie, first and second cousins and with a former graduate school colleague (Northern Illinois University, 1975-76). Around the visits we walked beaches, ate well, watched elementary kids learn how to sail and race and counted our blessings for this short respite.

Today I am transitioning into Tucson life and trying to be patient (doesn't work too well after 10 p.m.) with our neighbors' barking dogs.

So, later in the week I will share more details. Just for today--what was the favorite (or is, if you are still game for it) your favorite Halloween costume and/or memory?

My favorite costume was in my 11th year (or so) dressing up in my Grandmother Dice's wedding dress (upon reflection I can't believe she loaned it to me for that purpose). A favorite memory is twofold: 1) my dad, my sister and I setting up an assembly-line in our basement (my dad worked for Toastmaster as a factory/parts laborer) and plopping an apple, candy bars and package of gum in brown bag bags to be twisted closed and distributed to the Trick or Treaters and 2) going out with girlfriends to the homes on Highland and McLean Avenues (where the westside money-folk lived in Elgin, Illinois) and picking out full size candy bars from a silver dessert tray.

Happy Halloween !!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

a simple gift

My husband and I were in Phoenix the past 18 hours or so for, first, a Humanities Festival in downtown Phoenix, and then, an overnite visit (home-served tamalas, rice and beans for dinner; breakfast at Brunchies) in Chandler. I love play days/nights--as I get older, I can easity switch off the "work" light and enjoy myself, then, somewhat reluctantly, switch the "play" switch off and unpack, unbundle dusty newspapers, and check into email.

After I go through the emails--and before I trek to our mailbox for the snail mail, it's time for me to pause and write my blog. Even though I have only a few readers (and thank you to the half dozen who do take time to read my musings), I keep sending out the links to my posts and hope others will gather the word crumbs I spread and decide to join the journey.

Today, a simple gift was given to me by Lori, who works at diSciacca, a glassware furnishings store in historic downtown Chanlder. http://www.disciacca.com/ . My friend and I delighted in the colorful displays of glassware and I wanted to purchase two small blown glass "teacups" for my nightly sip of warm milk. Lori wasn't sure that the glasses would survive hot fluids, so she give me the cups to try and the let her know if they could be used for hot drinks. This simple gift really touched me and I told her I would do that but I would also write about the store on my http://anitawritesforyou.blogspot.com. I intend to do that and also decided to give the store and her generosity of saleswomanship a "plug" on this blog as well.

Her sales approach reminded me of years ago when I used to work in the handbag department at Spiess' Department Store in Elgin, Illinois. Periodically, we would give away small coin bags to our customers. Blue-haired little ladies in black linen suits and busy moms of the 1960s in peasant blouses and bell-bottoms used to stop by with smiles in return for our "pre-sale" gifts, given maybe twice a year. Now, if I go to Macy's and, as a regular Clinique customer, ask for a "sample", I am lucky if I can get a piece of paper with a fragrance sprayed onto it to put into my purse.

So, when, I ask you, was the last time, you went into a store--any store--and received a gift from a salesperson? It's grand to know that in a charming store in Chandler, a person like Lori works who, through a simple gift, can make a potentially returning customer's soul smile. Thank you, Lori, and I hope you share this posting with the store owners: they should pat you on the back and treat you to a glass of wine at Vintage, the soon to open (11/5) wine bar and restaurant opening next door to disciacca.

And I will write about the results of the glass tea cups' "warm milk test" on my other blog in a few days, along with the photos my husband took of the store.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

why we have each other

This morning my back was stiff and so, in the middle of my Sunday morning "skim" on the local and NY Times newspapers, I decided I need to do my neighborhood walk. A bit of overnight coolness lingered in the air. But by the time I finished my exercise, I had taken my sweater off and tied it around my waist.

Hummingbirds were busily soaring in the early sunshine and the neighborhood's rooster crowed his last morning song of early day. Very few others were out pounding the pavement, but as I came around the corner and caught a glimpse of my new pink rose blossom outside my office window, one of the many neighbors who are UA students, was bicycling back from her exercise with her leased pooch by her side. I am always amazed and scared by the sight of bicyclists exercising their dogs this way: it seems a delicate balance that could end in disaster for the bicyclist and/or the dog, but I confess I have never seen an accident actually happen so it's probably me projecting my panic on a generation still oblivious to the catastrophes of life.

Anyway, I really enjoy the enthusiam the young woman and her dog have for each other and, as we waved and smiled at each other, I said "I guess that's why we have each other"--meaning the balance of joy pets give their keepers and vice versa. She laughed, her head thrown back in the breeze, and said, "yes, it's a good way to start the day."

So I came back and hugged my elder-dog, Lia, who walks with Mark as the sun comes up and rests on the leather couch with me as we read or watch movies together. She is sprouting a few more grey hairs on her chin which match ones more plentiful on my head and other non-named parts of my body, but her spirit is tenacious and tender. I like to think she reflects my nature as well and as I said to my neighbor, "that's why we have each other."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

a pink rose blossom

Outside of my window where I write this blog, soft autumnal light is moving across the sky and shining on a single pink rose blossom. As a breeze comes, the blossom bends slightly and the petals curl open. A yellow monarch floats past and a cactus wren pecks at seed in the bird feeder that hangs from the mesquite tree. Seed pods have begun to fall from the mesquite and yesterday I bought a pumpkin to place inside our home, marking the beginning of the season.

Years ago, after our son had grown, instead of carving a pumpkin and watching it wither in the sometimes-still blistering October heat, I bought an electric version of a Jack-o-Lantern from Walgreens. Last night I plugged it inon the front porch before we took a slow stroll around our neighborhood. It had rained an hour earlier so the air smelled of creyosote as the clouds cleared and the nightsky opened.

I love this time of year. The long stretch of September is over and, along with my marigolds who seem to widen their smile, I, too, find more to smile about: the blue morning glory vines curling around the branches of a dead oleander tree, filling up the empty space with large green leaves, the seeds of basil turning into small plants that braird among the decomposed granite rocks. (NOTE: I had that word "braird" which means, "to sprout or to appear on the ground" pop up in one of my daily online vocabulary prompts and I have waited to use it--though it sticks out in the sentence as a word from another time, which it is).

In the mornings, the sun stays behind the backyard a bit longer and I resist the summer hangover urge to get up and move before it gets hot. It is noon now and only 88 degrees so we are definitely in another season. Of course, the days ends earlier, too, and as we enjoyed another favorite meal at Milagros, our neighborhood Mexican restaurant, last night, we remarked how, at 6:00 is was already almost dark. Each year that shift surprises us.

Autumn is a time when much of the desert comes alive (although rattlesnakes and lizards prepare to hibernate for the winter). It's a time to plant new flowers, put in seeds for the spring, take afternoon walks in Reid Park or along the Rillito and move the plates and cups outside to the patio for supper dining.

This afternoon, I will enjoy the pink rose. It's bloom will fade in a day or two but its presence reminds me that as each season passes, another one seamlessly arrives for me to savor--if I slow down, and look. As you slow down with the season, what reminder from nature urges you to see, smell, touch?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

serenity afternoon







Here I am, basking in sunshine and coolness of Mt. Lemmon on a lovely Saturday afternoon. The path is in Bear Wallow where, in a month or so, the colors will be vibrant red, gold and rusty browns. Now there are just a few signs of fall, a red maple leaf, a yellow oak and dried flower stems along the dwindling creek.


I managed the path walk pretty well but there were a few places where the summer rains had further eroded the slopes, making the angle on the path a bit beyond the 90% of flexibility I have in my right ankle. The missing 10% doesn't bother me much except in places like this. So I asked Mark for help and he steadied my sideways stride as we pressed on...together. We stopped at Inspiration Rock (where my mother-in-law loved to go for a picnic) and I gather wildflowers, then on to "the top" where Octoberfest was just wrapping up. Mark managed to cajole the waitress into serving the last bratwurst for the day and so we shared the entree which included a tangy vinegar-ladened warm potatoe salad. For dessert, we each indulged in pie a la mode and mine was rhubarb, in honor of the memory of my mom and Grandmother Dice. Both used to make it from scratch and they would have approved of the tangy taste to the pie.



It is such a joy to go to Mt. Lemmon. Coming back down, winding our way through the muted canyons with early sunset to the west, we were gifted with a rainbow that connected the clouds to hills of scrub oak, yucca and breeze-blown grasses.



It's good to have an afternoon of serenity. Where do you go to find yours?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

glow little glow worm

While I was at Starbucks today, the music of the Mills Brothers came on, singing "Glow little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer...." And I began to cry. I remember my mom playing that song on the record player (33 1/3 speed) in the basement while she ironed clothes on Sunday afternoons. Her blue uniforms for her manager's job at Ben Franklin's, hung in order for the six days of the week that she worked. She loved that job. Sometimes I think she loved the job more than us at home and I am certain she got more consistent respect for her skills from her co-workers than she did from us. We tended to take her for granted, I think--how she juggled work with keeping a pristine, German-type orderly house, planning meals (which my younger sister often got stuck with cooking since I was often too busy with afterschool activities), doing laundry and, of course, the ironing.

I hate to iron. I used to have to iron my high school gym uniforms which added up to some % of our P.E. grade and those waistbands and collars were a pain. I have tucked away my ironing board in the closet and probably haven't taken it out for five years. When I absolutely have to "touch up" a shirt or pants, I use a folded towel and put it on the counter to act as an ironing board. My old iron that we got when we were first married still works, so out it comes, about once every three or four months.

But the song today didn't trigger resentment about ironing; it triggered the memory of how my mom made a boring task something lighter because of the music she heard in the background. She played '40s music but she also added more contemporary choices of John Denver, Simon and Garfinkel, Joanie Mitchell and even a few Beatles tunes made her cut.

This particular song also reminds me of when my sister, my cousins and I used to catch lightening bugs at my Grandparents' farm. We always let them go before the oxygen in the mason jars extinguished their light and their life, but, for a short time, I think we felt a bit godlike with our powers of capture and contain this fragile element of late summer evenings, the lightening bug.

If I could, I would look for that kind of light tonight, the weekend before the autumnal equinox. Something ancient tugs at my soul to contain light from the darkness and then release it back into the night.

All this from a song that the Mills Brothers recorded, 60 some years ago, when America's own light beamed strong.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

memorial marigolds

When I was growing up in Elgin, Illinois and going to the First United Methodist Church every Sunday, I remember that, on Mother's Day, I always brought home a single marigold in a yellow pot to my mom. Marigolds remind me of her and their sunny blossom-faces recall the good times we had in Illinois.

So, on this day of remembrance, I decided to go buy some marigolds and sunflower seeds and plants them for her memory and for the memories of all those we lost on 9/11/01. I cannot spend too much time in grieving, though, and, so far, have shed my tears during yesterday's Flight 93 service, listened to music today and plan to go to a local mall that is paying tribute to our local first-responders and raising money to support UMC's trauma center. I went to that center for my ankle; Mark used it when he crashed on his bicycle and Aron has used it twice for an injury and health emergency. So helping those who have helped us to help others also seems like a positive way to link hands on this day.

If I lived closer to Phoenix, I would go to a Dbacks game and celebrate America's favorite pasttime. I would smile at the children born after 9/11/01 and savor the remnants of childhood innocence on their faces. I would gaze at the Stars and Stripes and think about all the wars in the world still going on, all the men and women from different nations who risk their lives for political causes they believe in. I would ponder my own beliefs about God and country.

Just for today, I want to keep my actions simple and grounded in the earth. Tapping the black soil about the fragile roots of new plants, I recall the planting times with my Grandparents Dice and their farm on Randall Road. If there is a home of my soul, it is there--now a fallow five acre parcel with overgrown bushes, grass and trees. But within that dark forest, the bulbs my grandmother guided me to plant may still be wrapping up their leaves for the coming autumn and bloom again in the spring.

Good memories to tend lovingly on this day.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Changing Hearts and Minds Mural Dedication




Last week, after moving my father-in-law into his new apartment, we attending a mural unveiling. I mentioned this in an earlier post. It was hosted by Hendrick Acres Neighborhood Association and CODAC Behavioral Health Services. The mural was jointly created by local artist David Tineo, CODAC and the residents of the neighborhood to "provide insight into the experience of overcoming stigma and tragedy through strong community connections" (quote from the promotional flier for the event). The project was sponsored by, Tucson Pima Arts Council/Kresge Arts in Tucson, Community Partnership of Southern Arizona, The Haven, Pima Prevention Partnership and Sarnoff Artist Materials.


I share this with you because the spirit of the event lifted us up from our daily life challenge and took us to a place of imagination and healing. I know that it takes hard work for neighborhoods to extend their hospitality to social services that serve clients with life stories of pain and hardship. Too often, the "not in my backyard" mentality shuts us off from each other and we live in enclaves of self absorption. But here is a neighborhood that embraced the opportunity to learn and grow from others and celebrate the learning. So, when you drive on Mountain, between Grant and Fort Lowell, look to the corner of Adelaide and Mountain and pull in to the parking lot of the Church; park and enjoy the mural and maybe even think about how compassion and creativity can build community.

My husband took the photo.



Friday, September 2, 2011

darkle

I get a daily posting from an service that shares a word for the day. Today's word was "darkle": to grow dark and gloomy. I like that word. When it's spoken, it obviously rhymes with the word "sparkle" and means the opposite. I, personally, have a tendency to darkle more than sparkle, but I want to change that---just for today. I can think of a couple of ways to sparkle:

1. laugh more
2. buy some sparkle glue from a craft store and make a pretty picture that shines

What will you do today to sparkle and not darkle?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

out of practice

Very little time this week was "given" to my writing life. I am doing my morning pages so that is a good stretch, but after that, I have had to pay attention to the other part of my life: big task this week was helping my husband move his dad into a retirement community with assisted living. Now there are just "odds and ends" to attend to on that task and move on to other of life's events and work.

I am still grieving for yet another dying oleander in our backyard. I guess we will have to have a soil sample ($) tell us if we have blight before we plant anything to replace it and fill up the gaping hole that I can now plainly see out my kitchen window. I was thinking about planting bamboo instead of oldeander. At the Tucson Botanical Gardens they have a really thick setting of bamboo in the children's garden. It makes a crinkling sound when the trees rustle in the wind. Bamboo has a nice sound to it: soft (bam) and funny (boo). The word itself bends in two without breaking, like the tree.

There, that's a nice image to carry with me as we go to the hot (105 degree) afteroon to buy a microwave for my father-in-law. Maybe we will go to Home Depot first and look at bamboo trees and I will call out to them in their buckets: "bamboo, bamboo, where are you?" And now a poem comes...

silliness on a sunday afternoon
is imagining bamboo trees
bending in the fall breeze
and a cockatoo in their branches
dancing and bobbing
like a boxer
in the ring.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

10 by 10 poem

While I was at the car repair last week, I composed this poem from a Writer's Digest poetry prompt. It has 10 lines with 10 syllables. To get started (writing a poem while sitting in a waiting room with CNN on the screen and popcorn fumes curling from bags on customers laps was a challenge, but going outside to 100 plus degrees wasn't a good second option), I used the first phrase from a sample 10 x 10 poem by Brett E. Jenkins: "August summer lived me out..."

August summer lived me out. The rains
finally came enough to raise up toads
from beneath brown desert sand. Snakes slithr'd
out of holes, shiny skins wet with storm's surge
of water. Weary from waiting for the
thunder to roll, with the first drops I ran
to fetch the umbrella and go dancing
in the streets, pointing my toes into deep
puddles, feeling the coolness drip into
my skin, into my heart, into my soul.

Friday, August 19, 2011

without wheels

Literally, I am without wheels this morning, having spent all day yesterday waiting for a complete new brake job to be done on my car. But, yadda, yadda, yadda, it didn't happen and so I hope to get picked up later today by the "courtesy car" and get back on the road for my day.

But, metaphorically, I feel like I am without wheels, also. External, slow moving continues on foot, but the "rollin' rhythm" that is the essence of a wheel-driven life is absent. I spent most of my time in a chair yesterday--first at the dealership, then at a cafe and I put it to some good use by working on business elements of my two enterprises. I left my "morning pages" journal in the car, not anticipating that I would be without the journal this morning and I do feel the difference of not doing the Julia Cameron-inspired writing exercise, by hand, that she encourages creatives to do. When I started writing the pages last week, it was with a commitment to see if the timing was right for that practice and I think I found that it is helping me clean out the mental clutter as I start the day.

It's amazing how much clutter is in my mind as I just start my day. All the unresolved issues of the day before, maybe even dusty remnants of dreams, come to the surface and need to be aired "in the light of day" (a literal,and over-used phrase but it is apt in this case).

Just from one day, bits of work issues, the reality of my father-in-law's health decline (his sprained knee is still the size of a melon and the color of a plum) and he has gone from a pig-headed (his description of himself last night) 88 year old, insisting he can drive 15 miles for a Sonoran hot dog, to bedridden, waiting for his new caregiver to give him a bath. Then there is my own dad, pretty sharp at 92 and adjusted to using a walker to get up and down his hall, around the complex once a day--huffing and puffing a bit to get to the phone--ten steps from his chair.

I couldn't lose myself in "Star Trek" before bed because, for the last two nights, the opening scenes have characters that scare me: one night, it is Counselor Troi, waking up in the body and face of a Romulan and then, last night, at some kind of Deep Space Nine Convention, Whorf is approached by a creature whose face looks like a pucker-mouthed hairless and skinless human. Yikes! And, so I woke several times in uncomfortable bed positions, stirred by my husband's fitful twisting and snoring.

Here I am then, looking at the birds, gaily fluttering with bread I put out last night after the three hour rain. I want some of what they have this morning: gaity. And if not gaity, then some measure of Buddha-like acceptance that this is my day and I can make it joyful or gloomy, if I first accept that this is where I am right now.

And writing helps me do that: say, hello Anita, just be with yourself and then move--by foot or by wheels.

How are you moving today?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Blink

I am reading the book, Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell and one of the a-ha moments for me in the book is his explanation of what makes improv comedy work.

There is one key rule in improv and it is to "accept everything." To accept the situation presented, to accept each line of improv dialogue and move forward with it takes the comedians and the audience into the absurd but also into a reality of truth that resonates at the level of instant cognition/blink.

That amazes me. And when I think of the (albeit few) times I have seen improv (I fondly recall my ventures to see "Second City" as an undergrad in NIU and the HBO Robin Williams specials and Larry David's "Curb your Enthusiasm), I realize the truth of this rule. And I have been trying this week to apply it more to my life: accept everything. It takes forebearance to do that for me because I want to pivot to fixing and not go into the sense of free fall which is where acceptance often takes me. But, in setting up my new website (www.anitawrites.net), that is what I did and I was able to see truth in what I created.

This is a short post this week with big questions for you: 1) How much acceptance do you practice in your daily life? 2) When you do, what happens?

Monday, August 8, 2011

in memory of mom

Two years ago, my mom died and so I write in memory of her. In memory of her, I restarted my morning pages practice and today I will visit the Tucson Botanical Gardens. In memory of her, I will go out with my dad for lunch and be willing, should he request it, to savor the greasy goodness of Lucky Wishbone chicken which she relished, onion rings and all, on her last birthday of 91. In memory of her, I will reopen the book, Heidi, which I would read to her during the weeks of our final visits. Here is the passage where we left off:

(p. 98) "There's a boy here who wants to speak to Miss Clara personnally", he announced. Clara's eyes lit up at this highly unusual occurrence.
"Bring him in at once," she said....

My mom loved "unusuall occurrences". She went to Pike's Peak by bus in her early twenties and married my dad in Cheyenne, Wyoming before returning to her job at Woolworth's in Elgin, Illinois where she sunbathed and smoked cigarettes on the roof.
She remained a young girl in an old woman's body until her death, made the best spaghetti sauce that her Italian mother-in-law taught her and baked cookies and cakes with measured kitchen skills that have been passed to her sous chef grandson.

I suspect each of us have memories of our moms that we would rather not remember, but even those now, I can embrace with humility and love. So, if you have the inclination to do so today, remember your mom and find a way to keep her legacy alive, just for today.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

saturday slump

With a quick trip to San Diego mid-week for work and then returning to support my husband in dealing with his dad's knee injury, I think I am running low on fuel for writing. But I have been doing a lot of reading and talking in cafes.

Since my return flight to Tucson was delayed several hours, I bought a new book, The Key by Tatiana de Rosnay and now a movie with Kristen Scott Thomas. It's very good and compelling about the July 16, 1942, French police's "round up" of over 10,000 Jewish children and their families which led to death camps for all but a few survivors. I can't read it right before I go to sleep because I am afraid I will have disturbing dreams but I recommend it for a solid stretch in the afternoons or for those of you who are less visually suggestive than I am.

I also bought the book, Blink, by Malcom Gladwell, recommended to me by a colleague I met with last week in Phoenix. It is about how we make "snap" or intuitive decisions. Since much of my formal work is in the field of dialogue and deliberative thinking, this resources is encouraging me to consider how the natural tendency we have for intuitive decision-making could (and could not) be included in my process design. Since I just started it yesterday, I don't have any answers yet.

And the time in cafes over iced coffee or tea is about staying connected now that I am flying alone again with my enterprises. It is easy to stay isolated inside an air-conditioned house when it's 105 degrees outside, so I have to get moving in the morning while it is only in the low 90s to meet folks and network. Fortunately, Tucson has plenty of Starbucks and local coffee shops so I have a choice of locations to go to and choose my scheduling (and menus) accordingly.

One of my a-has yesterday while waiting for a colleague was that I do need to restart some form of "morning pages" (see Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way" for more on this). She does have an actual workbook to stimulate the practice and, as I write this, I think I shall head that way today to make a purchase of it and push myself into that commitment. From that, more creative fuel may flow so check in later this week to see if that possiblity becomes a reality.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mending Fences homage

In several of my posts, I have referred to the NY Times' occasional editorial column by Verlyn Klinkenborg, "The Rural Life." He has put many of his essays into a book by the same title which I have added to my library.

In today's 7/30/11 paper, he writes about "Mending Fences". I am using that prompt to write my entry for today.
_____________________________________________________

There are walls in front of my house (across the street to the west) and walls on the three sides of our house, separating us from neighbors and the older housing cluster on the west. My Grandparents Dices' farm in Illinois had a fence to keep the boarded pony from running out onto Randall Road, a fence to keep the neighbors' Hostein cows from wandering into the Dice's front lawn and smaller fences for the chickens and garden. I used to like to hang on the pony's field gate and watch the cars go by.

There is a difference between a wall and a fence. You can see between with a fence. The spaces of separation are porous. A goosbeberry bush can have roots on one side of fence and spread its flowers and fruits to the other side. Ponies and cows can iddle up a fence and push their noses between the wires to chew on the grass which is always greener, and sometimes better, on the other side. Fireflies, bees and birds can dart between the wires of a fence with agility and speed but walls stop everything pretty cold. They are permanent markers of separation and can't be taken down to let their lines become blurred with new grass or thistles. Unless a wrecking ball comes into the picture, most walls remain for decades.

It can be like that, too, between people. Some separations are more temporary or pliable as fences are, and some are like walls: cut off from one another from sight, most sounds and feelings. I am feeling different kinds of separation from people today, and I am considering whether they are similar to a fence or wall. What kind of separations exist for you between yourself and others and how would you describe them?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

anitawritesforyou

Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Yesterday I set up my new blog, purchased a domain name and set up my new "venture" into freelance writing with it. Here is the info:

my blog is:

http://anitawritesforyou.blogspot.com

my new email is anita@anitawrites.net

I have other steps I need to take before getting into the thick of it and actually writing about details from our trip to Silver City--and other items of interest such as last night's 7 course "chef's menu" meal at Hacienda del Sol in honor of our son's 29th birthday. Mark took pics and I hope to include them in my write-up.

As I go along I hope to be looping readers back and forth with my blogs, but that's down the road a piece (as is a new website for anitawrites.net--first, I need to generate income before I invest more into my venture).

But I am branching out and growing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

city of rocks

South of Silver City is a very spiritual place, called the City of Rocks State Park. It was formed 35 million years ago as a result of volcanic uplift from a volcanic site 180 miles away. Mark took pictures and I will get around to posting them. But here is the poem I wrote which was a response to last week's Poetry Asides prompt, to write a poem about emptiness.

City of Rocks

Golden velvet hills
dotted with tendrils of green ocotillo
and clusters of creyosote
encircle the preserved landscape.

In the center I stand,
surrounded by a boulder
shaped like a whale
with its mouth wide open,
swallowing desert air.

Rain-padded paths connect
spaces between rocks
with memories of lava and ash
spewing from inside of earth
eons ago.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

silver city strikes gold with us

Mark and I are enjoying a lazy Sunday morning in Silver City NM as we sit on the porch watching a cluster (6) of hummingbirds dart from flowers to pine, harvesting pollen. This won't be a long entry about our travels here--that will come later in the week as I prepare to launch my new freelance writing business, but I did want to add a few details because I have shared this blog site with my new acquaintences in this town of hummingbirds and a diverse "community of talkers" as I have identified them.

From the first moments we arrived, the dog walkers across the street from our rental waved at us, the Visitor Center staff gave my husband a roll of Lifesavers as Mark's blood sugar dropped a bit too low---early signs of the friendliness we have encountered at restaurants, gelator shoppe, even the standard grocery stores and drugstores.

The natural scenery is absolutely amazing--unblemished, for the most part, by humankind's footprints. We are eager to get out there again, today and visit Pinos Altos and find another "good eats" place for our dinner.

So more will be coming and look for my upcoming news about my new writing direction, website, etc.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

prompt for poetry about sound

Summer Noise

A tiny brown beagle
whimpers outside the door:
it's hot outside and she
wants to lie on her back
under the breeze from the
living room's ceiling fan
as it whirs filaments of dust
into the air.

Also to my readers--I saw the movie, "The Tree of Life" last night and wept at the end of the movie. It is a beautiful film, the cinematography is amazing and the story hit me hard, in my heart. I recommend it and advise you to be patient with it, as the pace is intense and non-linear. You can preview it at this link-- http://www.foxsearchlight.com/thetreeoflife/

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

time to spend

It's interesting that we talk about time as a commodity that we can "spend" or "save" similar to money in the bank. I think it's a false comparison because the only time we really have is the moment we are living, the now.

Somewhere in our ancient, collective human-ego, a powerful male (probably) set himself up as the controller of time. We could measure time by the stars, sun, and moon and we needed those measurements to plant crops, thus calendars were created.

But, as I watch my time experience shift a bit with more "time on my hands", I realize that time is a concept that has confounded thinkers much deeper than I am. Episodes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" sketch out different dimensions of time, and, of course, the 1950s TV show, "Twilight Zone" has its protagonists wrestle with time and life choices in various story lines.

In any case, I seem to have a surplus of time this July and the next question is how to wisely experience it (my head wanted to write "use it" but my heart edited out that common phrase).

Any suggestions?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

survival of the fittest

From this week's Poetry asides prompt to write from the perspective of a member of a group.

I'm the smallest bird of the bunch at the bird feeder,
so I get pushed around a lot.
Fat pigeons flutter their wings in my face but
I hold on to the edge with my sharp beak,
head bopping as the feeder swings in the breeze.

Mostly, I get the tiny pieces stuck
in the feeder's wire base,
but I survive just fine.
Small birds are tough:
we are quickest to fly
to the next feeder
on the
block.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

poetry reading

Last night I went to my first poetry reading in ages. I was acting outside of my comfort zone so I will give myself credit for doing the footwork and showing up. Having said that, let me also say this about the experience:

*I know it takes courage to read one's soul in words (i.e. poetry) in front of others and I appreciate that courage.
*The poet I heard read well. She had a strong voice and read clearly, preparing the poems with some preface comments before she read them.

*I left before the last poem she read because the preceding poems were all "dark and gloomy" which she herself admitted, but the substance of them--incest, child and domestic abuse and violence were not subjects I wanted to hear.

*I looked around the room and saw almost everyone was over 65 and mostly female and white. I wondered if this was my future and I didn't like it very much. So, from that, I am wondering about my poetic stance, voice, purpose and what my next poem will be about. Stay tuned if you are curious, too.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

one fine day

[prompted by Verlyn Klinkenborg's essay in The New York Times, "The Rural Life", 7/2/11, same title]

Today, has been a day I would happily claim as "almost perfect". It started with a good night's sleep and pleasant dreams of my son as a 4 year old, so vivid, I could almost feel his hand stroking my cheek, and another, where one of my high school best friends, Joan Lange, actually looked and sounded like the actress Rachel McAdams (currently costarring in Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris; an enchanting movie I encourage my readers to see). Then, it was a slow read of the local newspaper, followed by a slow swim and pool conversation with a new neighbor, Diane, who's earthy laugh is a sound I will look forward to during my 8 a.m. swims.

I skipped most of the dreary news in the New York Times, and wallowed a bit in a story about the old (94 is old) actress Celeste Holm who is fighting her two sons for her money and her old-age independence. But I didn't stay stuck in that emotional swamp for long---I read my morning literature of hope and serenity and then Mark and I decided to take in a matinee of "Larry Crowne." It's light and funny, but has an American understory of second chances at love and careers and when he was fired from his employer, I could feel Mark squirm in his seat, so there's a layer of economic reality to it that well warrants the packed audience (of 50 and over-somethings) and, I predict, box office "legs" through the summer.

Then we enjoyed a modest meal of Baja-style tacos and I read a wonderful review (again, in the New York Times Book Review section), of a book by Robert C. Bartlett and Susan D. Collins, "Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics." [see http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-ethics/ for a good review of the topic and why the reference Nicomachean is used]. I couldn't begin to summarize the review, written by Harry V. Jaffa, but here's the intriguing last sentence which I hope encourages you to find the review and maybe even buy the book:

"All the more reason for them [reference to Athens/Greek philosophy and Jerusalem/Biblical morality] to join forces in the desperate struggle, still going on, between civilization and barbarism."

Wow--that reading linked me to not only (!) Plato, Aristotle, Moses and Jesus but also to Churchill and Aquinas. A powerful example of how writing about reading about writing about philosphy makes leaps that cover centuries and cultures in one lovely afternoon.

After that, we touched back to reality with light shopping at Target and a good workout at the Y. When we came out of the Y, the monsoon clouds were darkening the hills of the mountains and tablespoon size raindrops were tapping against the smudged windows of our car. A few swipes later, the windows were clean and I, too, felt cleansed of the residue this difficult week had left on my psyche. In the book review, the authors cite that Aristotle offers "a solution to the problem, or crisis, of human well-being...." Who doesn't need that these days? I know I do. And I love the solidity of Aristotle's philosophy and how other human minds have grown from his examination of the human soul and mind.

Yes, yes, this is a lofty plain I am floating on right now, and I have menial tasks that await me. Unlike Verlyn Klinkenborg, I haven't wandered into the farm field and observed bees, foxes, insects and spiders that remind me of the connection all organisms have with each other. Instead, I have wondered into the field of words and that field, for me, makes today, one fine day. What kind of field-wandering makes your days fine for living?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Change

from Poetic Asides prompt: a change poem

Today I saw a black monarch,
signaling the full breadth of summer.
Yet already,
the solstice has passed and
the days are shortened by seconds.

Sometimes change comes
on the wings of a butterfly,
sometimes by the shifting of stars.

For me, these past few days,
it has come with tears and
heart strings pulled taut.
But my spirit rebounds and
I change,
inside-
out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

office cleansing

I don't know if this is an actual concept, but I did it for real: put away files from a work project that had become toxic to me and from the files to the box to the garage it goes. As a result my work space is less cluttered, I have new spaces for new (and healthier) work files to eventually be placed in and I feel oh-so much better.

Shifting gears is painful. Yesterday was very tough--I could feel my heart strings being pulled taut, but today is better. While doing my 8 a.m. laps, I could feel my breath resume a natural pattern unlike yesterday's manic hyperbreathing. When I am in a toxic place, I cannot read much or write at all. I am stuck. But once the change has begun, air begins to filter back into my internal systems and I sense my psyche opening up and aligning with the healthy energy of the my Higher Power. Ideas for next steps, whether a new recipe at home or a new work potential, begin to emerge and the cosmos returns more energy.

Example: within 24 hours, I have received communication from colleagues that support my change and that might be offering new venues for my talents.

And then there is the writing. Here I am again at the blog and while I have "miles to go" before I feel I am back in rhythm with writing, I have a good book of prompts, by Julie Cameron, The Right to Write, that is my take-it-with-me-everywhere book. I am going to see a funny movie with a friend on Thursday and movies often inspire me to write. I am moving again and so are words in my mind; even though it's 111 degrees at 12:30 p.m. as I write this, I feel lighter.

So try an office cleansing if you are stuck: get rid of papers and newspaper articles, notecards and whatever clings to the negative in your life. Box it, toss it, and let the open space around you offer possibilities for your skills, talents, energies. It works!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

running on empty

I am listening to my husband chuckle about the post-motorcycle ride story of his friend who, with him, went up Mt. Lemmon today but, on the way down, ran out of gas.

It's good, I suppose, to find humor in those circumstances, but I know how it feels to be running on empty and I am not laughing. That's how my week is ending: on fumes, no fuel.

Part of it is the 110 degree heat, the dusty wind and unrelenting sun in June. But a larger part of it is what happens when I put my heart into community work and while the essence of the work throbs with good intentions, it is soured (the work, not my heart) by the rags and bones of the human condition.

So today, I am pausing to refuel. I swam laps in the Y pool and had a long cool coffee and longer conversations with two good friends. I am making a renewed commitment to refocus on the community work I can do (but won't get money for) with those whom I do trust and respect and to refocus on my creative life. One (now former) colleague and new friend and I want to start a Creative Cluster, based on Julie Cameron's guide found on p. 341-349 in The Vein of Gold. I send out this blog invitation to my readers to see if, for those who live in Tucson, this is something they would like to join. Here are the guidlines (summary):

1. A weekly gathering of 2-3 hours
2. No self-appointed gurus
3. Listen
4. Respect one another
5. Expect change in the group
6. Be autonomous
7. Be self-loving

So, if you are interested in becoming a part of a Creative Cluster, let me know and we can refuel together!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dark Farm Forest

From Poetic Asides prompt to write a welcoming poem

The picture shows bracken hiding
most of the broken gravel driveway.
But, fifty years ago, the sound of rocks rubbing on the
tires of our Ford, welcomed me to my grandparents' farm.

It seemed then, to be
a long way to drive and even longer to run--
from the white-porched house to Randall Road
where we were forbidden to cross alone.

Strangely now, as the unkept unloved trees and grass
have turned into a dark forest,
the magic of the farm is stronger
as remnants of memory blaze
even as the shadows darken the welcoming past.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

buddha bird

I know that in the summer when the temps get to 105 which they have this week, I hunker down inside with the air-conditioning as much as I can between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Early mornings are still nice for a walk and once the sun sets, walking and outdoor pleasures are plentiful. But I worry, sometimes, about our wildlife critters and how they stay cool during the hot days.

When I was walking our dog in our nearby natural park this week, I watched a bird (unknown type) settle in comfortably on the spines of a cactus. S/he fluffed her feathers and closed her eyes and I thought: ahh, a buddha bird. She really did seem content and I could detect a small curve in her panting beak.

So, as the summer heat throttles up past one hundred degrees, I want to get through the days like a buddha bird.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

sounds of summer

This morning as I was doing my laps in our neighborhood pool, I heard the sound of cicadas rubbing their legs together. It reminded me of 20 plus years ago, when my son and I would go to the pool at a hotel where cicadas breeded beneath the palo verde trees. All summer their high-pitched cckkkking sound would play in the background as we swam, paddled and played.

Growing up in the midwest, I recall the sounds of the leaves on the corn stalks brushing against each other in the wind. We went to my grandparent's farm several times a week to play in the fields and go the garden to pull weeds, pick berries, peas, lettuce.

Every season has its sounds but with the sounds of summer it is intermingled with a sense of possibility--of books to read while in the lounge chair, of movies to watch on a swealtering afternoon, of lightening bugs to catch in crystalline jars, of food to harvest when ripened and ready to pick.

This year, the season feels tinged with uncertainties that swirl around us in the global news. And when "good news" comes, I have to grab it while it is ripe and share it at the table.

Our son was just promoted to Sous Chef at the Arizona Inn. He has worked at this profession since he was 12 and setting tables for his Grandmother Lila with her catering jobs. He plucked chickens for her and then got early high school jobs as a dishwasher, then prep, then line cook at local places. Seven years ago he started at the Arizona Inn, took and passed the Culinary Institute's PRO Chef Assessment test, and lately has been functioning as the Inn's Banquet Manager. So while this is a big leap up the industry's career ladder, he has earned it with hard work, burns, cuts to his finger, metal filament in his eye--all part of the profession he has chosen.

And, although it's not quite clear yet what will happen in the long run, it appears that my husband may have a few more months of a different type of assignment at the UA so, at least, our health insurance will continue and he will accrue points for retirement when he is ready to take it.

So summer is bringing some early gifts and the table of life is bountiful if I don't get preoccupied with the turds on the table!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

writing for a reason

I had an interesting and helpful meeting Friday while I was in Phoenix with Mark. (His job interview went well but nothing definitive yet to share).

I met with Diane Owens from www.wisewomen.write.com. She has several small writers groups going in the Scottsdale area. Most of them are focused on writing memoirs. As I was talking and listening with her, I realized that going down the memoirs path is not for me at this time. Yes, I am doing a blog which is in the memoir-genre and I started it to help me keep my sanity-by-writing during my time with my ankle injury. But, she wisely pointed out, unless I get sponsors (which I don't intend to try to do), and/or develop a wide readership (which I would like but obviously don't have nor do I have to time to devote to improving my blog platform to entice more readership), I am spending my valuable writing time and energy on a genre that doesn't have much traction.

I mostly agree with this assessment and think where I do want to put my writing energies is into my a) poetry and b) short story writing. I might like to expand my essay talents, too, but less sure about that.

So, just to put the word out there--I may be taking a break from my blog and/or taking it down some time this summer. I don't have to decide right now and won't but I am putting my thoughts about this on the "page" so I can reflect back on them and see what should be happening next.

Right now, as the summer heat is building up on this Sunday afternoon, the room that I write in is also warming up. It faces the Western sky and absorps the heat from the hottest time of the day. But it's cooler than Mark's office space and, if he has to shift his work to a home office for more hours of the day, I may need to shift my workspace as well. In any case, writing in mid-afternoon, even with the shades drawn isn't ideal so I just have to be open to natural and woman-made changes in the days ahead.

How does changing a workspace affect a writer's reason to write? That's a question I will pose to my readers for feedback, as well as to myself.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

lightening the load

I read an article suggesting I ask my readers what they like about my writing, what kind of mood it leaves them in and if they would return to read more of what I write. Those are scary questions but I will put them out there to see if any of you want to respond.

I know I am very selective about what I read and getting more so as the calendar years slip by. I purchase used magazines as I cancel my annual subscriptions because I just don't use much of my time reading magazines anymore. When the New York Times arrives, I scan the first two sections and if there isn't an editorial piece (Rural Life) by Verlyn Klinenborg, I skip the editorials entirely. I always read the local Lifestyle section and the Comics.

So, although I am a bit bummed by my limited, obviously selective, "followers" numbers, I know that a couple of you do read what I write because you write back to me on my gmail account and I really appreciate you sharing your time to write back to me in any way.

Today, I feel like I am lightening the load I have been carrying around since Mark's job was eliminated at the UA. I have worked through some of my own work challenges and the seasonal shift to summer has set in for Tucson. I know this is our rough season and many dread it, but, for me, it's a time of neighborhood swimming, sweet summer nights and that ever-lingering adolescent memory of what summers used to bring: leisure time, good movies and the bounty of ripe tomatoes, berries and corn-on-the-cob. So I embrace the summer with a smile in late May/early June, knowing that by late August, I am counting the minutes of darkening evenings and dropping temperatures (from 110 to 90 degrees:).

Last Sunday, Mark and I went to Mt. Lemmon and had a wonderful time among the green grasses, shimmering aspen leaves and slopes dotted with white snow-drop wildflowers. Since we had a dry winter season, the creeks were thin and trickling and wildflowers were sparse but loved the more because of their scarcity. I was able to do the hike in Bear Wallow without any ankle swelling or new aches so I feel another healing milestone has been met. We sat out on a Winterhaven cafe patio, savoring the softness of a freshly baked peanut butter cookie and drinking our canned cafe lattes, listening to the international language shifting of patrons from the valley and watching toddlers try to touch butterflies as they circled the flowerbeds of petunias and roses.

For this week's Writers Digest Poetry prompts, the prompt was "priorities" and so, I share mine here. I encourage my readers to think about their own priorities for the day or week ahead:

My Priority

Feeding the birds is the way I start my day.
My husband says it's a silly thing to do:
I am enabling creatures who
should be able to forage for their own food.

But I treasure the texture of the seeds
as they slip through my fingers
and bounce into the feeder.
The feel and sound remind me
of my Grandmother Dice as she
chucked corn every morning to her chickens.

So if it's a silly thing to do,
it's also a priority
and a solemn act of love.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

between light and shadow

Last night we had dinner with friends and watched two episodes of "The Twilight Zone" (1959) via Netflix. The opening lines describe the twilight zone as that space between light and shadow. This is a good description of where I feel I have been living this past week.

Light has been my time with the fifth graders at Pueblo Gardens Elementary School as they prepare to read a scene from "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". It includes my swimming at the Y, coffee with my son and yesterday with a friend, my blooming flowers, my second to the last physical therapy session, my in-the-moment work with Imagine Greater Tucson.

Shadow has been keeping on my side of the street as Mark deals with his loss of job reality, not getting sucked into fixing my dad's minor concerns with ill-fitting tennis shoes, slow weight gain as I seek comfort in carbs from the challenges of future implications of my professional life--or the lack thereof, including my shelving writing due to increased pressures of consulting billable tasks.

That "twilight zone" space in between surfaces in my dreams which have been vivid narratives that are patchworked like the quilts I continue to study as a link to my inherited past. I observed from the two episodes we watched last night that mirrors are used a lot in the narrative of the twilight zone. Also a theme seemed to be loss of individual identity. The show was done in 1959 and we were living at a time of the Cold War with WW II only a decade behind. We had not yet expanded our frontiers to space, although the possiblity was looming.

Now we are in a time when our NASA program has launched one of its last manned/womanned spacecraft. We are looking beyond the moon to Mars and yet, we are tethered to Earth by wars and diminishing natural resources. Our time for self-reflection (aka, looking into the mirror to see a) if we exist and b) if we do exist, who we are) takes place on the Internet (here, I am doing that with you) via blogs, Facebook, twitter, etc. I still write the old-fashioned daily journal and memoir-writing is a popular genre, so some of us continue to seek self-definition in our lives.

I guess that's a good thing. I experienced the seduction of Rod Serling's voice last night as he opened and closed his show with the narrative explanation of the twilight zone. Having a start and finish to the stories offers me comfort of rationality in an often irrational daily life.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

ironing and a-mending

On Saturday mornings, when the timing works, I try to watch PBS' shows on quilting and needle crafts. As much as the show is about the projects that are demonstrated, the voices of the women on the show are melodic, rhythmic and relaxing. On yesterday's Pons and Porter show there was the rare sight of a man who was an expert on the history of the iron. He talked about its evolution from one solid iron piece heated over coals, to one with a wood handle (easier to hold), to one with coals inside of it (still used in parts of the Third World today), to the various stages of the electric iron.

When I was young we used to sing the song about "monday is wash day, tuesday is ironing day...". He explained that, at the beginning of electricity in the homes, electricity was only turned on at night so that people could read. But a man who developed the first electric iron (sorry, forgot his name), lobbied for the day of Tuesday to have electricity all day so that women could buy and use his irons. What a story!!!

In the song, there is a mending day (can a reader tell me which day that is?) and the woman on the show talked about how menders really aren't the patient people others think they are. Menders want to get things fixed and finished.

I remember my grandmother mending my grandad's heavy winter socks. She would pull the sock over a mending gourd and stitch as she told us stories or, later, as she watched the Ed Sullivan Show. My mom mended for awhile, too. Mending a few of my dad's socks, as I recall, and stitching hems and buttons into her eighties. I inherited most of her sewing and mending supplies along with the walnut sewing cabinet dad crafted in high school.

These facts and memories reassure me today and I contemplate my own practices of ironing and a-mending. Raised in the midwest, we ironed our own gym uniforms on Sunday night for Monday's PE inspection. Later, I ironed my nursing aide uniform, making sure the green belt had no creases, which my Irish nurse supervisor keenly monitored. Of course, I ironed my other clothes, too, and when I moved out of the house, I left many of my ironing practices behind. I have an ironing board but it hasn't been out of the closet in years. I made sure the small sleeve-styled ironing board that both my grandmother and mom used didn't get tossed into the Goodwill when mom died and it, too, in the closet. When I do my rare ironings, I toss a towel on the kitchen island counter and lay the clothing item casually and clumsily across the towel to iron. It's an act of stubborness against the mandatory past to not use the ironing board.

As for mending, I even more rarely do that. I can and do sew on buttons and occasionally stitch the torn fabric of my bed's storemade quilt. So the summer project idea of making a block quilt basket pattern seems a bit farfetched. Still, the project intriques me and I sense that rediscovering these lost domestic arts have something to do with my overall spiritual recovery. So, I will keep watching the Saturday shows and see where their stories and sewings take me.

In the meantime, the NY TIMES on Friday had a review of the American Folk Art Museum's exhibit on quilts. Check it out at: folkartmuseum.org

Sunday, May 8, 2011

pilgrimages of remembrance

I read an editorial in today's NY Times where the writer was recalling his trips to a Jewish deli in Cleveland Heights, Ohio where his mom would search out her favorite snacks, Jewish tongue, Pringles, Milano cookies. He goes there still, though she died in 2004.

And as I woke up, lingering in bed a bit with my hubby, recalling our different early memories of Mother's Day, and those we shared with our son when he was small and both our mothers were still with us--I realize now, I was, like the NY Times writer, making a pilgimage of remembrance of my grandmother, my mother, my mother-in-law and my early days of being a mom.

Those are good memories, sweetened by time. I have forgotten arguments I probably had with my mom or sister as we dressed for Church and then to go out to eat with my grandparents in Crystal Lake, Illinois. I have forgotten (mostly), the shifting of rhythms I experienced with my mother-in-law as I learned to include her uncomfortablity with the "holiday" which meant a working day for a waitress, as she used to be, with multiple plates to juggle and few tips to bring home in her pocket.

Memory helps me shift through what I liked and will keep and let go of the rest. I like to focus on the sight, sound and taste of gathering at Reid Park with both of our moms, my sister and her young family and we with ours. We would share friend chicken, potato salad and crisply cut veggies, watermelon and chocolate iced cupcakes, settling in to our lounge chairs or stretching out on blankets to listen to "Music Under the Starts" with the Tucson Pops Orchestra.

I could do that tonight, with just Mark and I under the stars, but the absences on this day, are still too deep to feel. We'll find our own path through the day--a late brunch at Coco's, a movie about Tuscany, a visit to the bookstore, and, if I am lucky, a text from my son who, like his Grandmother Grushka used to have to do, is working a 12 hour day in the restaurant business. Yesterday, I planted new flowers, moved others into new pots that shine crystalline blue in the morning sun. In my own way, I continued on my maternal traditions--rooting for my favorite at the Kentucky Derby and recalling how my Methodist Grandmother Dice used to bend her "no gambling" rule at this one race and bet pennies with us on the ponies.

So, whether you are a mom of the garden, of pets or children--enjoy mothering in your own way and be open to being mothered and loved by others today and everyday.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

the dust has yet to settle

As an update on the list of "how the west winds blew" last week:

1. My friend's excellent breast specialist did rush the results and she found out that her diagnosis is treatable. He is sending her to the only MRI service in the state (not in Tucson but in Scottsdale) who will give MRI test results on the spot. So there is hope that we humans can get quick-care equal to those of our pets.

2. In an ironic turn of fate, my husband received an award this week for the Arizona Safety Engineer's "Safety Professional of the Year." Apparently they had notified his boss at the UA to invite her to the dinner, but knowing she was going to not renew his contract, she declined the invitation. So his job search begins in earnest and we may throw the net wider to include out of Arizona possibilities. Geographic locations I told him I would consider are: California, New Orleans, and the Philly area. We hope to have our feet on solid ground by the end of the summer.

Not on the blog list last week but now I am sharing--I made my goal of a poem a day for April thanks to the Writer's Digest Poetic Asides prompts. I am going to submit 5 of them by 5/5 for that contest and I did submit a short short story to another contest on Friday. With work hours expanding right now (which is a good thing and keeps my mind from slithering down a cliff), creative writing has been squeezed, but I took some self-care time on Friday and yesterday and so, I have some products to submit. Here is one I will not be submitting so I can share it here. Just know that I scribbled my poems everyday before 8 a.m.!

from 4/28's prompt for "a world without something".

A world without chocoloate
would be like a garden without green sprouts,
a car without wheels,
a bird without wings,
a cat without whiskers,
a night without a moon.

So, for you readers to think about--what would your world look like "without something"?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

and then the winds blew

As I sit here at my desk, I see the Western clouds building up in the sky and the winds are blowing flower petals and frenetic birds across the front yard.

I feel a bit like the birds and petals today--blown around by this week's events. I am going to keep this short so that my loyal readers won't decide it's not worth a quick read, so here's a list of the week:

1. Met with my financial advisor who didn't quite fire me for not taking her investment advice for a variable annuity but did cut the conversation short when I pushed back about it.

2. Had multiple Imagine Greater Tucson meetings where our diverse perspectives on the work, even as we are all committed to the end goal, is definitely an example of how tough it is to "herd cats."

3. My hubby found out that he has until the end of July for UA employment in his current position. Thank yous to the Arizona State Legislature for their massive cuts to education and to "those who shall not be named" who made this decision for a loyal employee, only a few months away from state retirement.

4. A close friend and colleague had a breast biopsy and she has to wait for a week for the results. And this is the "best medical system in the world?" My dog's biopsy took 24 hours and her tissue sample was sent to California!

5. Another close friend, whom I call my one of my two sister-friends, has multiple challenges in her professional and personal life. One example, her sister's house was foreclosed this week. Thank yous to Wall Street, matched by the public who were greedy partners in causing the real estate bubble to explode like a torpedo into the lives of millions of hard-working Americans.

This is why I am feeling blown about as, at the same time, I can lose my gloom in today's "iris show" at Harlow's Nursery. I could never imagine such fragile loveliness, diversity of stem, leaf, petal shape and color in the iris groupings. One of the gardeners told me "even if you mix the seeds together, you never come out with two plants that are alike."

How do the winds blow for you this week? What examples of life's richness can you savor amidst the challenges and losses?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

open studios

After working our butts off yesterday, including sending off the taxes (yes, we used Turbo Tax this year and probably will next year, too, now that we have rediscovered our capacities), today was a "play day." We went to Church in the a.m. (I like to go on the third thursday of the month, because it is mostly music, in high style, with trumpets and bell ringers, piana, organ and sometimes string instruments) and thus I get filled up with "big Methodist music."

After that, we went to RinCon Market and leisurely read parts of the NY Times while savoring eggs, turkey sausage and a decadent cinammon role. Another musical treat was a cellist playing Vivaldi so we really had a lovely morning.

One of my colleagues from a previous consulting job was going to be at the 7th Ave. Studios for Open Studio weekend (www.ercregistry.com/sfairfieldsculptor). I have been wanting to go to this event for the past three years, and so I made it today. http://tucsonopenstudios.com/artists.php

While I was there, I reconnected with an artist from the 1970s who is a weaver, Crane Day (www.craneday.com). I bought a pancho from him in 1976 that I just recently wore in Philly when we went there for my niece's bat mitzvah. The pancho got many raves while we walked Philly's chilly streets.

I met a new artist, K. Loren Dawn (kloren@oceanplum.com)who does collages that struck me as whimsical as well as affordable. She has a genre called "nomadic artist" where she puts watercolors and small collages into a plastic stationery envelope that can be easily tacked onto a wall. I bought one of those and put aside a larger one with glass shards and pastel brush strokes that seemed to strike my fancy today, entitled "chips fall as they may". Even with just modest support, it's good to be a "patron of the arts."

We ended the afternoon on with a trip to the newly opened Costco on the southside of Tucson. We needed lamb chops for a small Seder dinner tomorrow and they have a good meat selection but it's almost not worth it to me to have to snake my way through the mountains of retail goods that fill the floors. I try to make the best of it by watching young families herding through the aisles with babies in carrier packs and toddlers in the basket seats. But the experience always leaves me feeling depleted and a bit ragged in the brain.

So it was good to get home, review all of the artist's cards I picked up from their studios and tack up my small nomadic art collage on my wall to remind me of the artistic spirits swathed in their warehouse studios on 7th Avenue.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

a year ago, an idiosyncracy of life and more to come

It was a year ago today that I walked back from the neighborhood mailboxes with a note from my radiologist saying the my follow-up mammo showed "no evidence of cancer." I remember bounding over the rocks in my front yard and with mindful determination coming into the house to "take charge" of my day. I was going to repot plants, by golly, and get on with my life after having in hang in suspension for the past ten days.

I came out to the patio and glanced up as Mark was taking a couple of steps on the lower rung of the expandable ladder, on his way up to the roof to prune the euchalyptus branches. I went to the potting table and heard Mark holler: "Look out!". I looked up and caught a glimpse of him jumping off the ladder as it tumbled like slivers of frozen water toward the potting table and then onto me. I crossed my arms over my chest as I fell downward, bracing my back and head against a fall to the concrete. I felt a tug on my leg as I curled backward.

In the next few moments, Mark rushed to my side, peeling away the layers of broken pottery, cracked table and ladder. As he pulled away the ladder, I held up my leg and saw my foot looking foolish as it turned ninety degrees sideways. "This is bad," Mark said, and I just looked at the foot with splayed toes, amazed at the incongruity. My shoulder ached, my neck ached as I held myself in semi-prone position, but I felt nothing in my foot or ankle.

Mark called 911 and checked my eyes and breathing as they suggested. Then I began to feel some anxiety. A trip to the Emergency Room and then what? This was my Saturday, and what about tomorrow?

Thus starts an idiosyncracy of life when moments of change cascade into our lives whether we are ready for them or not.

Twelve months later, I have slivers of scars hiding screws and a plate in my ankle. I have a new physical therapy support system to help me "strengthen my core" as well as my ankle, calf, and thigh. I go regularly for a massage which tended my back muscles through the weeks of crutches, walker and black boot. I have a new work community because of a younger colleague who was one of three non-family members to drive me where I needed to go. I walk with a different stride--shorter and more measured, slowed a bit by necessity and practice. I have this blog and over 300 days of writing entries.

Yesterday,the eve of this "anniversary", I shared hysterical laughter with Mark over the ridiculous occurrences of the day: a car battery that needed replaced, signaled by a car clock that kept resetting (think "Groundhog Day" for a car); a missed birthday party of a friend because I received a phone text that said "Hi, Anita, we are canceling our party due to weather" and found out later, it was a "wrong number" text by someone who also had a friend with my name, also had a birthday party they were cancelling due to the freakish winter storm which dropped snow on rose petals all over the Tucson valley; a series of 11th hour emails from our accountant (or, we suspect, a member of his staff), over necessary documents to complete our taxes and the tax filing of my 92 year old dad who had given me the tax envelope--which I didn't check, assuming, mistakenly, that my 92 year old father was functioning as the 91 year old he was last year--without the documents he thought he had put in there and needing pages of medical, dental and prescription costs info that I had to get from over the Internet (this required one hour's worth of phone calls to Secure Horizons and another 30 mins, including on-line "chatting" with Walgreens, and a new email address in order to get this info in a timely manner) which still resulted, Mark and I are guessing, in our accountant and/or his staff possibly "firing" us as customers because we expressed frustration at getting the request for this info one week before the filing deadline!!!!

How absurd life continues to be: so we laughed and laughed and drank white wine that glistened in our glasses half full.

If you have read all of this post--have a glass of wine on us and celebrate the idiosyncracies of life and laugh until you think you cannot stop laughing. It's the only way, sometimes, to get ready to go to bed and live another day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

storm a-comin'

As I sit at my window, I am looking westward and I see a storm a-comin'. The rose bush leaves are swaying back and forth, skies are greying and birds are trilling tunes for rain.

I remember my Grandad Dice, on cool Spring mornings, going out from the farmhouse, past the gooseberry bushes, through the fenced yard for chickens and the lonely pony who boarded on their farm--into the garden to look at the black soil mounds and gaze at the sky. "I feel a storm a-comin'", he would say, rubbing his right hip which ached with the barometer dropping. He loved those storms because they brought rains for the fields and, as a farmer, without rain, life isn't worth much.

I have the same ache in my right hip which I tried to loosen up in my 8 a.m. swim today. We need the rain so badly that I hope it comes today and sends fragrance of the newly-yellowed flowers on creyosote into the air. No other smell compares than than of rain in the desert.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

poetic asides

I am sharing this link because I am trying to do the April Poetry Month's poem-a-day challenge and other readers might want to do it too. http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides/

For now, I am writing the poems into my tan journal booklet I keep next to the computer but I may post a few of the best either on my blog, my website and/or the Poetry Asides blog. Last fall I submitted quite a few to the Poetry Asides chapbook but I have been disappointed by the lack of followup to that effort, even though I contacted the site several times. Still, the prompts get me to write and it's worth the effort to harvest a few poems.

My entry today will be brief because breakfast beckons and it may get warm today while chores still have to be done. Yesterday, I went full out and my calf stiffened by the evening so I pushed it too much.

Before I sign off, I want to recommend a lovely, poem-like movie we watched last nite: Ondine, 2009, starrting Colin Farrell. The critics liked it but it didn't do well at the box office. Once you can translate the heavy Irish dialects (it took me the first five minutes or so), the movie flows like the Irish seas majestically photographed in many of the scenes. The young actress who plays his daughter is a delight and the young woman he "captures" in his fishing net kept my husband's usual evening dozing to zero as he propped himself up to stay abreast of the story. So find it through Netflex or your local classic movie rental space--it's worth the effort to find and view.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

infinite variety

I haven't forgotten my quilting journey.

Take a look at this site: http://folkartmuseum.org/infinitevariety

It's an exhibit in NY from a woman who collected over 650 quilts all in red and white!

I have a couple of local quilting contacts on my list to talk with in the weeks ahead and I will continue to post photos from the Oro Valley show three weeks ago.