Jul 30 2010

spreading some sunshine

Last Friday, at the end of a long crazy week that was filled with its share of doubts, I received a lovely surprise. Jennifer Morrison, from realia, bestowed upon me the Sunshine Award: I was touched and honored and it came at such a perfect time, after one of those days when insecurities about my writing had reared their ugly head.

So first of all, I must say thank you, Jennifer, from the bottom of my heart. This really means a lot to me. I love the tag line over at realia: Pay attention – there’s a story wherever you go. So true.

And second of all, I want to say thank you to you, yes YOU, the one being kind enough to read this. Your comments and encouragement and kindness continue to amaze me, every day. It means so much to me, truly.

And thirdly, I thought that I should pay it forward a bit, and pass it on to a few of the people who add sunshine to my day. There are many more than I can list here, but these women were among the first people to comment here, to make me feel welcome, to make me feel that perhaps I do have something to say.

Debi, over at emma tree. She paints pictures with words, always. Her writing is poetry, pure and simple. She is the artist and writer that I imagined I might become way back when I was 13.

Beth, over at be yourself, everyone else is taken. The name of Beth’s blog captures her spirit exactly. I always leave there with a little smile on my face, she views life through rose-colored glasses.

Graciel, at evenstar art. She has encouraged me from the very beginning, she has a heart of gold, and I love her view of the world. I find peace and inspiration with her, always.

Julochka, from moments of perfect clarity. Early on, she featured me as a blog crush, and I was so surprised and honored, and I also love her way of looking at the world, profound and honest.

Thanks, to all of you. I am not setting any rules here, you may pass this along or not, I just wanted you to know how much you have meant to me on this journey.

There are so many others who have touched my heart, each in a different way. I appreciate you all, more than you can know.

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And I just discovered the pet parade over at red or gray today, so I thought that perhaps I should join in the fun, being a certified crazy cat lady and all. So here is “My Handsome Man,” my sweet Pepe, a truly gentle soul that came to us injured and starving and looking like a completely different cat three years ago…

I’m so glad he found us. He, also, has brought sunshine into my life.

Jul 28 2010


Yesterday I had lunch with one of my best friends. We talked for two hours straight, about life and change and patterns and life. I gave advice and got advice and on the way home, I thought about that, about how wonderful it is to have friends to share what we’ve experienced along our path. And then I thought, but what have I learned?  Do I have any insight to offer?

Because the more I learn, the less I know.

I feel like that in itself is just the right amount of wisdom. To understand that there is so much I don’t know, can’t know, will never know.

I am totally okay with the not knowing. Actually I am more than okay with it, I love that I have figured this out, relatively early in my life. It feels a little zen, that phrase, and is one of my mantras, along with this one: the only person whose behavior I can control is my own.

It all sounds so simple, until you think about it, apply it, live it.
I guess that is the whole concept behind a zen phrase, right?

And perhaps I am just really stupid and should have figured both things out a long time ago. But I didn’t, I only just figured them out in the last five years. But these two phrases have, in so many ways, changed my life. For the better, and better late than never.

Why doesn’t life come with a manual? They don’t teach you this stuff in school, they teach you math and science and grammar (well, they used to teach you grammar) and maybe even how to make a pizza, or build a bird house. But they don’t teach you how much you don’t know about life. They don’t even hint at it, they just send you out in the world to be blindsided. No one tells you how many times, in how many ways, your heart will be broken. How many moments of joy you will witness. How many people will mark your days. No one teaches you to appreciate the beauty that is life.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have listened, back then. When you are young, you think you already know everything. I wonder what happens when you are old, really, really old? Do you understand at the end, that you know nothing? And is that a relief? I feel like it would be.
I feel like that is where I want to end up.

I chose this path, and I like the direction I am headed in.

I know that much.

And just now, that is enough.

Jul 26 2010

the heart in the moon

This was the moon two nights ago. I was just about to go to bed, had just gone out to the kitchen to get myself some water, when I saw this outside my window:

So I put my shoes on, my pajamas were okay (no neighbors), and I went out to see if I could capture what I saw. This is close, although technically, it’s not a great picture. I didn’t use a tripod, it’s blurry, the moon is blown out. But this shot captured the mood pretty well, and I kind of like it.

I love that the moon is not the same every night, it changes as moods vary, auras shift, different spots are illuminated.

I thought about how love is not the same every night, either.

And about 26 really slow-exposure shots later, I had drawn myself a moonheart. The picture below is exactly the same as the picture above, same placement, same exposure.

Except that I moved my hand in the shape of a heart.

And yes, it is upside down, but here’s the thing: I drew it right side up, and I know that it is a camera-mirror thing, and I could have flipped it in Photoshop. But, the trees were still facing up??? and I couldn’t quite figure that out, which didn’t matter because actually

I loved that even though I had drawn it right side up,
my heart ended up upside down.

Plus I drew a heart using the moon as my pencil.

How cool is that?

Jul 24 2010

the taste of limits

Today it rains. It is hot and it is sunny, and then it is hot and it rains.  A cycle of weather I must live with.

It is has been so hot, for weeks now, that I stay inside. I want to be outside, I want to sweat and dig in my garden and pull the ten million weeds that call my name each time I open my back door. They mock me, these weeds. Point and nod as I walk by, I hear them: bad gardener, lazy girl, indifferent caretaker.

I give them the finger and go back inside.

The best time to weed is just after it rains, roots are easier to pull from soft, wet soil. I should go out there and do that right now.
But I won’t, it is late already, I need to make pizza for dinner, and tomorrow, I have an art show.

But if I could, I would go out there, right now, and start pulling. And when I finally finished, sometime next Tuesday, there would be a mountain of weeds, a foothill of dill, a backache, and a giant sense of accomplishment. Funny how something so simple can make you feel so good.

Next weekend, I am going to my friend’s house so she can teach me how to make pickles. She is 84 and has lived a life filled with extraordinary amounts of pain, both physical and emotional. And yet, she giggles. A lot. One of these days, on a different day, I will tell you her story. But she called me this week and she said, “The cucumbers are early this year, we have to get going on these pickles.” These pickles that I asked her to teach me how to make.

She is housebound, and most likely bored, and if I could, I would go and spend every day with her, so she could teach me all about 84 years worth of living, and how to make pickles and also how to crochet those amazing doilies. But for now, I had to tell her the pickles would have to wait, I have a show this weekend, I cannot go there until next week, when it is August.

I am going to learn to make pickles.

Sugar and spice,

salt and vinegar,

time and life.

Jul 22 2010

the shape of love

you didn’t have to sing me that song,
there were others who could carry that tune.

you didn’t have to open doors and whisper secrets,
i could have done that on my own.

you didn’t have to turn sideways in the mirror,
i could see your reflection, laughing.

you didn’t have to leak bright bits of sunshine,
they were there, in my forest, before you.

but still, i opened you just like a book
and read each word of your story.

you didn’t have to have such
a sad ending.

i would have loved you,
just the same.

Jul 20 2010

worry wart

I try not to worry, really I do. It seems like a colossal waste of time.

But sometimes, it all comes creeping in on me…the little niggling fears, the stress, the doubts, the thunder.

And then I am there, in the Land of Worry, and just like Oz, I can’t find my way out. The what-ifs become strong possibilities, the might-nevers become probabilities. It keeps me up at night, if I let it. And I try not to let it, but there are moments of weakness, we all have them, and then I am there, eyes open, wondering, pondering, wasting good sleep.

I worry about my health and money and my husband and my kids and my parents and my future and my past and what I ate for dinner (potato chips, so?) and my knees and my garden and that thing I said to so and so for which they will never forgive me…

I never meant to be a worry wart. And most of the time, I’m not.
I look on the bright side, I strive to be happy, to let things go, to know, in my heart, that the only person whose behavior I can really control is my own.

And yet, here I am. Both my sons smoke cigarettes. I worry. My parents are getting older, I worry. Things are slow with my graphics business. I worry. I’m feeling nauseous a lot lately. I worry. My husband seems distant. I worry. My basements floods. I worry. What if I’m really just wasting my time? I worry. You probably
don’t want to hear about this. I worry.

Each worry works its way into my mind and takes up residence, even though I have made it perfectly clear that no invitation was extended. I ask them to leave, and they smile, saying, “Yes, perhaps tomorrow.” I beg, I plead, “I need sleep,” I say, and they pat me on the head, “There, there.”

And don’t even get me started on the big things, the things that you can worry yourself sick about, the government, the environment, health care, retirement, natural disasters, Lindsay Lohan. (Okay, just kidding about that one.) I can’t even go there, to the big worry room, because I just know I will never get out.

Oh hello, Mr. Worry. Won’t you come and sit on my lap for a bit?
I’m going to give you a little hug and maybe even a kiss.

And then I’m going to squash you like a bug.

Oops, sorry. That was downright mean.

I’ll have to worry about that, later.

Jul 18 2010

synapse no. 4

a circle is a line

whose end creates its



Jul 16 2010

the sun and the moon
and the stars

Now is the Moon’s Eyebrow.
When my son was little, we had that book by Cooper Edens.
I have always loved that line.

Another book, The Vanishing Pumpkin by Tony Johnston.
“Please do,” growled the ghoul.
I have always loved that line as well, I used to say it out loud
all the time. People looked at me funny.

And this one, from the same book: In fact, she fairly flew.
This happens when I run, every once in a while.

The Sky Jumps Into Your Shoes When You Take Them Off at Night.
Another book, also by Cooper Edens.

The Caretakers of Wonder. Another one, same author.

Why don’t they write books like that for adults?

Books you can barely find these days, treasures that lie forgotten.

Words change your life, sometimes.
You read them and they imprint themselves on your mind.

Her pupils were two black thorns turned inward.
The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike.

The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham.
A book I have never forgotten.

Lines that speak to the soul in you, written from the soul of
the writer. This connection that keeps humans, human.

My cats talk to me, they express their needs, their desires.
But that nuance of words and language, that is for the artists.

Almost, I would rather read Vincent Van Gogh’s letters
than look at his paintings. Almost.

How many combinations are possible, with words?
At some point the human race will start to repeat itself.
It has to, or else invent more words.

But fire speaks the language of us all.

This is not open to interpretation, it is fire.

It has kept us all alive.

Besides, now is the moon’s eyebrow.


What’s your favorite line?

Jul 14 2010

lessons I’ve learned from
{driving} about life

It’s easier to go forward than in reverse.

You can’t always stay between the lines.

Manners are extremely important.

Enjoy the journey, and the view.

Getting lost isn’t such a bad thing.

There are times when it’s okay to go fast and
times when it’s important to slow down.

Everything is more fun when there’s music.

You never know what’s around the next curve.

There are signs everywhere.

Being first isn’t the most important thing.

You won’t get very far on empty.

It’s a good idea to let others know where you’re going,
even when you think they aren’t looking.

The road less traveled has a lot more bumps.

We all have our blind spots.

There will always be hills and valleys.

Don’t block other people’s paths.

So much depends on the weather.

Sometimes you have to let your hair down,
and let it blow wildly in the wind.

Jul 12 2010

four hours

in a car is all it takes to clear my mind. four hours of nothing to do but drive and drive down this endless asphalt ribbon. my hardest decision will be which music to listen to next. four hours of singing, loud, uninhibited singing, along with joni mitchell, bob dylan, cowboy junkies, counting crows, alison krauss. four hours of not caring what people passing me think as i belt out all my favorites, feet tapping, head bobbing, mouth wide.

four hours of trucks and cars and vans and jeeps and buses
and motorcycles, and one helicopter being pulled by a camper.
never saw that before. of watching for hawks and spotting two herons and counting crows as i sing a counting crows song and
then smiling to myself about that. of eating m&m’s and drinking
a coke, which I only ever do on long drives.

four hours not distracted by internet or television or telephones or anyone else’s voice. four hours of looking ahead, not behind, not up, not down, not at everything that needs to be done. four straight hours of straight hard thinking.

four hours of sky and horizon, trees and wire, whizzing by so fast you don’t see it. but it sits there, in your mind’s eye.

four hours of enjoying the ride.

four hours twice within 28.

eight hours in a car, with my thoughts and my music.

and none of those thoughts were of time.