Monday, October 31, 2011

Stiff Brushes and Rusty Fingers

So, met that fork in the middle of the road and made an unexpected detour from the norm running  headlong into the past. So, what were your plans 40+ years ago? Not complaining, BUT, 180 degrees about describes the path and out of that comfort zone.

August was an eye opener returning to a painting class with no confidence and questionable skills. Just signing up for the 2 day workshop required an extreme amount of pressure and persistence on the part of a friend. There you are in way over your head ... just looking at every one's work. Gave the instructor 2 assessments she could give ...1] "That's nice" meaning it's not going to get better, just  go home and garden, cook or read. 2] "You need to keep painting".  Brought the unfinished canvases home and stared at them for days thinking of the "you definitely need to keep painting". Not sure they will ever be any different .... something to remember that feeling of frustration, rusty skills and most of all "I've missed this". Then the absurd occurs, overload of 4 and 6 weeks classes with a weekend sculpture workshop just because "it'll be FUN". Exhausted, pooped, worn out!!!! Obviously, thinking was not part of the equation. Having survived and with a more reasonable plan, am moving forward and learning techniques from the best artist/instructors ..... people actually teaching rather than leaving the student to eventually figure it out on their on.

Embarking on another reinvention; actually, this has been a rediscovery. Like writing, one can get lost in moving paint around a canvas or words around a page. Odd how long it takes us to learn and truly accept a few important lessons ..... 1] It isn't a competition; and this was a major struggling point generating envy. 2]  The word TALENT is qualitative and should be allocated to Mozart, Bach, Chopin; perhaps we should use skilled, studied, technique. We worry too much wondering if we have talent rather than can this skill/technique be applied. Sure did take a long time for this to sink in and be understood much less accepted. Shame on me!!

Ah, well, appears there is a need to paint everyday ... practice, practice, practice ..... the only solution for the improvement of any skill. And there is still a piano that hasn't been touched for the past 11 years.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Liar! Liar!

Liar! liar!
Pants on fire.
You tightened the noose.
Please let us loose
for completed idea
Before I die, dear!

O.K., extremely bad poetry seemed my only recourse ....  pleased with yourself?!?  We're allowed 15 whole words ... REALLY? I suspect you were and are looking over your shoulder.You must agree this was evil.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Plugs and Graphite

Here we are again in handcuffs. Do the rest of you wonder who put a burr under Jenny's blanket and rubbed her the wrong way?? Now on the other hand, thank you all for your encouraging and funny comments this last week. To write well enough to entertain and keep the reader hooked is nice. Now with the ascribed  miserly 25 words, here goes Saturday Centus .............  fill in the enoumous blanks.

Ultra light graphite doubled throbbing against the "really nice" bass digging deeper. Impatient to slip on down the bank, "PLEASE, lip it; I'm not getting any younger here."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Milk, Eggs, Bread AND .....

Hurry .... HURRY! We don't have time to dawdle, COME ON!!  Our list is really really long!!!! Racing up one aisle and down the next, shopping with preteen boys in tow is like herding cats. O.K., o.k., if you will  promise to stay in this department for 10 minutes and not cause a problem, I can get most of these things. PROMISE, boys!! "We're not babies, MOM." "I'll be right back."

"Would the mother of Brad, Josh and Cooper please come to aisle 17", blasted through the store giving her a start. Skidding to a stop "BOYS! What ARE you doing ??!!??" "Letting the tarantulas play together." "And the sign reads WHAT?" "But we didn't put our hands in the tank. We turned them over!"

Sunday, July 3, 2011

That Starry Starry Night

Through the window, a deep, dark, velvet blue sky seemed filled with luminescent twinkling stars. Their light reflecting in the water of the bay. A breeze slipped out of the north creating a pleated ruffle across the surface. Fields of grass waved and bobbed in the insistent currents. The thunderous booming persisted. He sat there in the darkness awed by the spectacle wondering "How did I come to be here?" and "How will this end ?" "How long can we survive such barbaric violence?"

Picking up the pen, looked out the window again in the perdawn hours ..... the booming star burst flashes lite up the darkened sky and the waving Stars and Stripes,  he wrote ... "Oh,say can you see  ........... "   


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Really, are you kidding??

When your evil mind takes hold and limit me to such confinememts .... you get what you get!!!! Saturday Centus in 62 words .... meany!!!!! Let me loose!!!!!!!!!

All my life fighting kinky curly hair. Yes, yes ..... those with straight want curly and well .... Humidity is the culprit. You can actually feel "it" moving up your neck and then "Frizzzzzzaaaaa"!! Every product known to man had been tried. NOW there is you and and sleek managable hair. NO FRIZ!! I unabashedly love love love you dear dear dear John Frieda!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Garden of Discovery

It had been a laborious 7 years realizing the garden before her, bringing a smile. Enjoying her morning tea on the secreted bench against the stone wall, she allowed a memory to surface. He had been a "grass" man. Well trimmed and mowed green lawns without obstructions were his goal.  However, January 22, 2000, the day before their 35th wedding anniversary that had all changed without warning.

Pull the covers over her head and hide .... how can this be .... cannot tolerate being in this bed, this room .... he had layed next to her .... touched her .... loved her .... held her .... kissed her .... whispered with her. All of this NEVER to happen again. The touch of his hand on hers or the arm casually thrown across and drawing her close in the middle of the night. Paint, rearrange the furniture, then she could return to that bed. Perhaps, sleeping in the middle of the king size bed would work. Everyone said "give it time" ... time to what ... not hurt .... her heart not to squeeze.

When she'd always been someones daughter, next a wife, then a mother, that person she was intending to be was left far behind as she became all the pieces required to achieve the present goals and other's needs: mate, housekeeper, cook, laundress, chauffeur, accountant, judge, friend, doctor, receptionist, secretary, event planner, controller of all things .... and on and on and on. The sudden realization that without notification she have, essentially, been fired. O.K., not fired but what? NO more need for breakfast or anything.    

So, now what? The first few years are numbingly painful. No one feels comfortable with what to say or not, for fear of upsetting her. What "they" don't realize is skirting the subject makes her want to go home. The inevitable finally happens .... many ole "friends"/acquaintances [couples] drop her from the invitation list. A few are persistant ... we are going to the concert, no is not an acceptable answer.Then there was the cruise,; when everything about her said NO, she heard herself saying yes.

Just about the time she thinks the worse has happened, lightening strikes .... literally. Well, of course, why not. What was that about control .... we have NONE!!!! So, there it is, plain as the nose on your face, take a tac, any tac ....DO SOMETHING! Repairs complete, just need to address the porch and the yard.

He said it so casually it almost was lost in the conversation .... "that will be $10,000 for the stone porch and walk"."Well, I'll get back to you." Was he out of his mind?. At that moment, she made a conscious decision. Grass - Garden - Grass - Garden ..... oh, and I can create the stone work with "my boulders". Work began in earnest in 2003. The hidden artist began to creep into the conscious with a vision. Today, look at this ..... the only thing lacking are birdhouses for the garden friends. Funny, she is creating one of a kind nesting at the pottery studio.

So, the bench against the stone wall for morning tea .... in the garden..... with the birds, squirrels, and fish ... you bet fish .... she put in a small 70 gallon pond for Magellan and Galileo. Still finding, trying on. traveling, catering, writing, fishing. OH, AND, the newest .... adopting a toss away puppy .... haven't told Finnegan [10 year old green eyed, grey tabby cat]. Her life had been based on deep, abiding, accepting love..... somethings never change. However, the artist has crept into every aspect of her life .... she was going to be an artist!!!! It only took 11 years ... one would think she was slow ..... well, it did take 7 years to create the garden.     

Monday, June 20, 2011

Stone Circles - Part II

Dear Jenny and Saturday Centus contributors,
Please forgive my affrontery; I just wanted to see where this would go. Still have a few problems with comments. Ames .... Holy Cow, Wow!!! and several others. Jeff, guess I could just pick up the phone .... thank you for this one. And so, my contribution ..... #26, I think.

Lowering himself to the ground, sat cross legged in front of her in the sweltering afternoon. From his trickle soaked shirt, he drew something from the pocket extending an open hand. Finnegan, looking for another ear scratch, nuzzled his fingers. Little Sister, fully awake now, puzzled over the object. "Remember the stories we read about the people long, long ago in Europe when there were Mammoths and Cave Bears?" "Ayla?" "Right, well, what do you see?"  Pulling the cat up into her lap, they all stared as she turned it over in her hand, "It looks kinda like a horse scratched within the stone. Oh, Father, where did you find this?" 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Water Lily War

Magellan and Galileo reside in a 70 gallon fresh water world plunked is a terrace just about a foot above the garden floor. A visitor inquired "Is that a Spring feeding the pond?" What a complement .... roots and log with water spilling down contrived to look natural .... what a complement!! Of course, the fish don't know it isn't a natural pond in a meadow or the woods.There they are hiding, darting here and there, lazily wandering about nosing the surface; and for whatever reason, feel the need to toss out onto the garden floor whatever water lily they are given to decorate their space. This phenomenon occurs every time the plant is submerged. Whether alone or together, the roots are gnawed to a nub, then vigorously ejected unceremoniously.

In the beginning, there was concern that night creatures [Raccoons, Opossums or whatever] were attempting to raid their home.  As there has been no loss of life, apparently the two captives have decided to clean house no matter how persistent the decorator. Sitting back watching, they skim the surface for mosquito larvae making bubbles then with a flip of the tail sounding to the bottom to circle the up ended log. From time to time, a toad comes for a visit. However, the birds are the true entertainment. The water catches in the cupped out hollows as it runs down the log to drop into the pond below. These hollows allow the birds to fling water about as they bath daily. Hopping up and back down the run they sip as though looking for the right taste. Funny how time seems to rest itself in the garden's life not wanting to intrude but wishing to linger. Squirrels and chipmunks scurry to refresh themselves before digging for last years buried walnut or scavenge the cast seeds from under the feeders. Butterflies visiting the pond certainly give "themselves" a thrill with thoughts of a snack. Instead, they settle on the wet log to revitalize.

This little ecosystem definitely has a life and mind of it's own; but, the ideas of water lilies blooming in the shallow corner creeps into the overall plan. Wonder if "they" have forgotten. Wonder if it might be different this time. Wonder if ....... soon, really soon .... White Water Lilies ...  now that would be nice. Ah ha, the challenge begins again.    

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stone Circles

They're called Rifle Pits, others insist they'd been built by the Cherokee, even De Soto was suspect. Stones stacked in circles. Oddly, only four circles and none found elsewhere. Why would Rebel Soldiers build here when the Union Troops were further east. And, there were plenty of boulders to hid and shoot from behind. Then there are the breastwork, walls coming from and going to .... nowhere.

Cool stones penetrated the thin cotton blouse. Leaning back, watched the sunlight leave a mottled patterns across the litter of dried leaves. The smells of summer are sweet. Finnegan, the green eyed gray tabby, patted at a black beetle waiting for the attempted escape. Harmonious insect humming filled the woods. How easy to drift 100 years before today and be lost in the remembering. They curled up together, the girl and the cat, lazy eyes slidding shut.

Dreams of painted warriors, soldiers in blue, others grey danced through the shifting fog. The afternoon slipped aimlessly away. A crunching sound in the leaves roused them. Scratching the cat's ear he said, "Scoot over sister girl for your tired father." Stretching she asked,"Did you find out when?""Oh, sweetie, the wall was built long ago. But, LOOK what I found!"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Muscadine Squirrel Hunt

Throwing the door open to the early morning coolness, two startled squirrels leaped back onto the old wild grape vine wrapped among the pine limbs. Little beggars are overly brave and daring. Watching their antics while enjoying Irish Oat and Barry's tea, recalled a warm September afternoon under ancient Muscadine vines during Squirrel Season on Watts Bar Lake.

Well, it was hunting season, you see, and we had to go hunting. Actually, if we weren't fishing it had to be hunting season .... any hunting season would do. So, September was the beginning with Dove and Squirrel. The morning Dove harvest had been cleaned and refrigerated; mid-afternoon seemed to be a good time for Squirrels.

Scrapping back the leaves and settling into the rich black loam, backed against a Cedar tree. This looked good. Two Oaks, laden with acorns, were in front and Muscadine vines interlaced a canopy everywhere. Mother Nature's arbor was full and ripening. The leafy carpet was littered with the very ripe to the over ripe wine colored balls.

Before long the taste testing and entertainment began. Tom, Dick and Harry, for lack of better names, were on their way to regain possession of their treasure trove. One warm sweet juicy ball would only be followed by another and another. The ones that had begun to split open beckoned irresistibly to the three marauders. In short order, Tom fell off the tree he was attempting to climb. Harry, while chasing Dick across a limb, free fell into the leafy carpet. And Dick, not to be outdone, attempted a forward somersault onto a limb landing in a heap against an Oak root. This had been preceded by a lot of cavorting, attempted jumps, swinging from limbs, running into, and generally falling over. All was done with a truly fussing attitude.

Who knew that fruit could ripen to a highly intoxicating fermentation point all on it's own. Well, duh, liquid, sugar, sun ..... Oh, sure you did ..... well, I do too, now. The truth is a fierce pounding behind the eyes caused a brief nap to occur. When one is awakened by someone kicking your boot, the tendency is to recoil in fear while raising your rifle [22, that is]. He was such a smarty, he jumped behind the tree congratulating me for the three fat squirrels. Picking them up by their hind legs must have had the same effect as kicking my boots. Three bodies began to squirm and fuss resulting in their being launched back into the trees. "Holy Cow, what was that?" Choked with laughter, the events were shared AND so were the Muscadines. "Drunk Squirrels?" "REALLY! I swear!"

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The End ...YEA!!!!

Oh, Saturday Centus .... for some reason am unable to leave a comment to most of you. It isn't that I'm disinterested or unimpressed, it has to be computer imps. So please accept my apology. And counting several times to stay within our confines ..... my 27 word offering

It was a start stop, off on, love hate affair for years. Now decide! No problem! I choose Fiber Optics. Goodbye COMCAST .... that's THE END of that.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


She was a Southern girl several generations deep, with an appreciation for old silver and "good" china. They weren't wealthy; Daddy had always said,"we're comfortable" ..... and that distinction was cavernous in the 1950's. All the same, her family was able to afford a "good" formal education through college. Mother made certain she appreciated the "finer things in life":oh, you know, linen, lace, kid gloves, how to sit, drink a proper cup of tea, polite conversation ..... social etiquette. The warm months were dotted with Teas and the cold months were occasional dances.

She married the man she passionately loved; not the one preferred by Daddy. Chestnut braids flying as she whirled to face Daddy,"I'll marry for love or not at all." She could be willful and stubborn, if pushed. That passion produced four sons: Adam, Bradley, Conner, Douglas. Abegail and Colin enjoyed life together with their sons resulting in a tight supportive family. Then that cold Friday the Highway Patrol Officers arrived about 4 in the afternoon to heartbreaking news. A young man on a motorcycle had swirved to miss a dog and the on coming car. Attempting to avoid the cyclist, Colin ran off the road, lost control, hitting a tree at 55 miles an hour. After 35 years of magic, her life would never be the same.

How does one fill the emptness .... need to make money, but how .... we're told pride goeth before a fall .... well, there's always cooking .... she was a good cook .... actually, she was a really good creative cook but no professional training. "Oh, Lord, help", was her constant and silent prayer.

Lunch with a close friend was a turning point. She wanted to host a big party to introduce some new neighbors. "Abegail, would you do the food? I'd pay!" "Are you serious, I've never done that before." Lexie countered "Of course you have. Think of all the parties you and Colin have given. It's only about 100; that would be a snap for you .... oh, please, please PLEASE!" And there it was, her future. First there were quiet dinners, a few artist and wedding receptions using her sons to serve. Then she had to hire help .... more help to serve and help to cook having outgrown her kitchen at home. The 2 boys became managers in the front and back of the house, and 2 in cooking schools. She opened a bistro stlye restaurant in an upscale neighborhood using linen tablecloths and napkins, "good" china and "old" silver. Come and join the group for high tea or a grand dinner, it's called Alphabet.......... oh, you know, for the boys.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cicada Time ... yuck!

Sounds of summer arrived in spring with the pulsating cacophony of cicada hordes. Red eyed winged 2 inch long insects with no useful purpose other than to breed and die. Arriving in late April their deafening den overpowers all other sounds right into June. Apparently there are two cycles .... a 7 year and a 14 year. They should be a feast for the birds ..... as of this moment, that has not been witnessed.

Maybe fish would enjoy this treat. Alas, this is on the side of a mountain not a river bank. Now that would be a vision as one might topple into the water from an overhanging limb. From below, a 4 pound Bass would spy the ripples, then the red eyes and think YUM as it charges the surface breaking the stillness in a gigantic leap. The rising greenish silver sides and tail flail sending sprays of water back and forth in every direction as the bucket of a mouth inhales the "bug" and the contortions cease sliding back into the water. What if that had been on the end of your 4 pound Spyder Wire line. That could have been a world class tussle ..... head shaking, digging for deep water, a stump or overhanging rock. Makes your fingers tingle just the thought of the bowed ultra light rod, line straining through the guides, giving and taking back, keeping the head up ...... holy cow, this could take awhile. Then from the comotion there would be multiple Bass moving in for dinner..... WOW! [Just a little flight of imagination, wishful thinking or past experience remembered].

Funny, briefly the mind was filled with the sound of gills rattling, water splashing and blood pounding in the ears; rather than the racket outside. Maybe it's time to repair the trailer tires and head to the river. Oh, right, we were talking about the obnoxious CICADAS. Perhaps I perpare for the quiet little Mayflies ...... put new line on the fly rod. Yep, that's a good idea!!!!! Want to go fishing????

Monday, May 30, 2011

Noble Inhertance and Superman's Reward

Entering into the barn, the sweet scent of straw and hay, plus the sound of crunched grain pervaded her senses. The drumming clatter of rain on the metal roof made this the most perfect place. As she strode down the hallway passing each door, the nickers grew more insistent. Those magnificent bobbing heads emerged to greet and receive the honey dipped slices of expected apples they hadn't tasted for months. It was a long time since Spring Break.

She had trained them for Dressage and Stadium Jumping, the monster black Friesian [Noble Inheritance] and the sleek liver chestnut crossed bred Welsh Cob/Thoroughbred [Superman's Reward]. Dad had taught her from the age of 3 or 4 everything she knew about horses. The memory of his leaving was dim .... a Chief aboard the Franklin in the Pacific Theater WWII .... the picture above the two stalls was his burning ship.

The rain had stopped; the hall filled with "Noble Inheritance" and "Superman's Reward". Brushed, loved, saddled, three heads turned at the sound of the baritone voice. "Did you think you would ride both at the same time?" Her laughter caused both "Noble and "Re" to nicker tossing their mane and heads. She had spent hours working out their names. As they were descended from Medieval War Horses, synonyms of the legacy of heroes seemed appropriate. "No, Dad [her biggest hero] ..... thought you might go with us; afterall, it is Memorial Day."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It Really Happened

To Saturday Centus .... April 27th a day of serious tornadoes assailed the Chattanooga, TN area beginning at 8 a.m. and finally ending by 9 p.m. Unlike so many loosing , literally, everything; lost power [thank goodness for generators] and comcast [phone, internet, tv]. Power was restored by Sunday and comcast took 2 weeks to get us back on line. I must say, having participated here only a few weeks, this challenge I missed most. So, hello ..... again and my 100 word offering of It Really Happened.

The air hung in riverlets against the skin as The Spindrift, a 22' Mako open sport fisherman, drifted in the flat, windless gulf stream. "Arrrr me maties" didn't stir a soul; after hours of trolling the broken weed lines, the only recourse was to head home. Changing the heading, she breezed through the deep blue. Only days before, the storm had brought the seas to 6' and 8" swells. Frigate birds wheeled and dropped. The ride had been a roller coaster into the feeding fish.

The first outrigger bowed and the pin snapped. "Fish on!!" Then almost at the same time the second outrigger bent relentlessly. "Fish ..... really, BIG FISH on!!!!" Oh my word .... Bulls ... 2 huge bull Dolphins ... 55 to 60 lbs each .... a boat load of schoolies [5 to 8 lbs] is one thing but BULLS. They can hurt you once in the boat .... and we have two!!!!

We had been sing/humming Gilligan's Island and the Brady Bunch; suddenly we broke into " Hush little baby don't you cry .................... " as we hurled ourselves onto the thrashing fish. The watch, we later found on the forward deck.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Opening Night

"Right, well, we may not be Ringling Brothers, BUT we have always been quality .... right??" The group of painted and costumed clowns sat looking up at the spectacle. Their exaggerated shoes patting together in an agitated manner.

O.K., the boy arrived 10 months ago with no skills, no presence, nothing except a wish to be a flyer ... a trapeze artist ... he almost got a nose bleed every time he went up. BUT, there he was ... opening night.

The wigged, red nosed clowns were intent. "Can you believe THAT'S his costume?" We'll never live this down!!!" "Wilbur, he's in white tights!" " You better look at yourself .... you've taken the Velveteen Rabbit to an all NEW LOW .... really !!!"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bathing Suit and the Preacher

Mother was ..... apparently, I have no idea who or what she really was. Regal, proper, willful, stubborn, exacting, with moments of pure insanity, Southern lady about covers the description. At the University of Alabama, her intentions of being a concert pianist ended with the sudden death of her father; then settled on Primary Education. She met and married daddy in 1938 .... these are the facts.

Funny how you can live everyday for 18/19 years with these people and, actually, not know them except for little snippets of a glance. There was this one time when our pious minister dropped in, unexpectedly, for a visit.

She loved to dig in the garden!!! That hot summer afternoon, to improve her tan while planting daylilies on a bare bank below the newly built house, she was wearing a 2 piece bathing suit..... very risque for the early 50's. Apparently, she had heard his car arrive cause she was clawing her way up the bank, like a cat, on her stomach. Looking up, she spied me in the windows on the way to answer the insistent knocking at the door. With desperation on her sweaty, dirt streaked face, lip reading and arm waving were emphatic ... "Don't let him in!!" Irrepressible laughter bubbled up, bursting out at that sight. It still brings a smile. My prim and proper mother was a total mess and her dignity had definitely slipped. Oh, my word, how was she going to avoid being caught. More determined knocking .... he was a tall, severe man with no sense of humor and not to be admitted! The last sight of mother, she was slipping around the corner of the house.

Opening the front door gave full view of the stairway and hall, mother's only route to her bedroom. I could hear her in the downstairs bathroom washing up, but .... trapped. "Hello Mr. Kennedy, please come in!" Well, he had to move out of the door and that hall. Ushering him into the living room, he stood at the windows commenting on all the gardening opportunities. We stood nodding our heads in agreement with the vision of mother's recent mad scramble up that bank. "Yes, sir, we have a lot of grass to cut." Really don't believe he heard her bare foot fall on the stairs or the click of the bedroom door. Excusing myself,"I'll just find mother .... be right back." Never knew anyone could get dressed that quickly and actually appear cool and calm. She swirled into the room like Loretta Young making an entrance on screen [a very elegant actress of earlier times].

When the insanity was over and Mr. Kennedy had departed, she looked around erupting into laughter and trying to talk at the same time. "I .... thought.... I .... was having .... a heart attack!!!!" "You let him .... in the house." "Are you .... crazy?" With tears streaming down our faces we had daddy near convulsions at dinner as we retold the events of that summer afternoon.

Recently, heard many moments and times shared with her friends that opened a door into a life unknown to me. Could sink a putt from anywhere. Was great to have as a Bridge partner as she generally won. As a couple, they were the life of the party. Isn't that ashame to have missed seeing that part of our parents .... maybe you didn't.

"I Remember Mama" was a t.v. show of the 70's or so and has been strolling through my thoughts the past few days. She slipped away peacefully last month 6 days shy of 98. You see, for the last 21 years, she has been .... figuratively .... patting her foot, sitting on go, just waiting to join daddy. She's gotten her wish and they're probably off together playing golf, again.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Singing in the Rain

There they were, Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor. Their yellow slickers filling the screen .... "Singing in the rain, just singing in the rain, what a wonderful feeling" ..... the darken theater enhanced the mood .... "I'm happy again. The suns up above" ..... eyelids slid closed, thoughts drift to him. Was he right? How could he possibly know? He's not that attuned; o.k., smart. Oh, lawrd .... the pain ... THE PAIN! Funny when you're being wheeled on a gurney through halls of lights and doors open and close ... alone ... then all those people in white ... where is he? ... counting backwards ... Mother always said, "April Showers bring May flowers" .... baby shower, April 12th; born May 15th, Rose.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ordinary Things

Genetics, DNA, ancestors .... stubborn, willful, submissive, happy, orderly. Why on earth these thought flood the mind while doing ordinary things is a conundrum. All the same, those nightly rituals: check the doors, turn out the lights, slip into the gown, tie the hair back, cleanse the face. Every night those clear eyes survey the years of effect from sun baked fishing and winter frozen hunting but at this moment an unexpected awareness. Picking up the tooth brush, suddenly there appeared in the middle of her line riddled cheek a highway sign ... EXIT 181, 1/2 mile ahead with an arrow ponting toward her mouth. She broke into a wide smile thinking "I earned every one" and began brushing.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I'm no chicken ....

Intensely flashing light followed by that erupting crash of thunder and the hard smacking of hail, sleep was over. What's the time ... what's the time?? Darkness, again, wrapped the house as the deluge pounded. Are you kidding me? The jump is today .... do we do this in the rain? Surely not. Coffee, need coffee by the pot or sleep could possibly return. Well, o.k., up, dressed wondering "can they get a plane off the ground in this; AND, oh lord, that water hitting you like tiny bullets". Breath, just breath, the phone will ring any minute with a cancellation/postponement of the event.

By 8:30 a.m., meet, greet and prep complete, we piled into the plane. Spiraling upwards through clouds or maybe it was fog, we reached altitude. Unable to recall committing to such a CRAZY idea but I'm no chicken, forget standing in the door ... there was no door just falling, falling. Fog swirled in a vortex ...... "Mrs. Drake .... Mrs. Drake wake up"! "She's coming around Doctor". Opening her eyes, the Doctor's face took shape. "Your colonoscopy went perfectly ..... we removed 20 polops .... everything is fine."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ebb and Flow .... Wax and Wan ... Life and

Ah, Pisces the water sign, have appreciated the ebb and flow of the tide, force of the moon and the need to be flexible. Amazed by the exactness, predictability, let alone the affect on our lives, March 2011 has proven to be emotional, both elation and sadness simultaneously.

Timing is everything; it's absolutely true! The flight booked and real estate agent scheduled during the last full week of New Orleans Mardi Gras. A son is being transferred to Louisiana and needs to find a house; so, might as well have some fun while we're there. He had explained there was a 10 year plan regarding marriage even though wasn't certain of the location in that span of time. An afternoon phone call cleared up the question. The Bachelor/Bride "party/shower" was presently being held at the Abita Brewery. O.K. that fits. Saturday, the 5th, during one of the Black Tie extravaganza in the company of thousands, vows were exchanged, papers signed and beads thrown. Would have loved being there but life intervened with a different trip.

She was 97, my mother. She had lived at home alone since 1990 when Dad died. The 90th birthday party seemed to have heralded the loosing of most of her friends. A few years later a compression fracture in her back required home assistance. She managed to carve their duties from 24/7 to afternoons. A strong willed, stubborn, willful, world class procrastinator was loved anyway. Sometimes, it felt as though Scarlett O'Hara had moved in; particularly when we heard "I'll think about that tomorrow". Wanted to inquire where's the "fiddle dee dee" .... discretion is the better part of valor and impulsive daughters. The other trait that maddened was her need not to tell anything "important" .... i.e. do not worry her[me]. Once inquired if she had raised a mushroom for a daughter. She felt the analogy was imprudent [her word]. Our frequent conversations became nothing more than weather reports and a very brief "I'm fine". However, this call was greeted differently. 300 miles later found her having been settled into Hospice. She peacefully slipped away on the 10th [my birthday] only 6 days shy of her 98th.

They wed on a new moon in the mysterious, sensitive, creative sign of Pisces on a median high tide. Well, that could lead one to consider the obvious new step in life with the creation of a united life on an incoming swell of excitement and change. Cornball, maybe ..... it's actually what we choose to see. On a waxing crescent in the sign of a patient, tranquil Taurus and a receding tide, she slipped away to meet Dad for a long awaited tee off time. Wow, this doesn't need a clairvoyant. Reality is, it doesn't matter the reading.... life, as with the moon and tide, comes and goes, is good and bad at any given moment. Love and loss bound up together eternally ... not just mine but yours as well.

Come join me in the garden, let's talk of Spring and possibly planting by the signs. How about some Moroccan Orange Spiced tea .............

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Memory of Lost Moments

Entering through the kitchen door, the intro music of Out of Africa spilled out into the yard. You can actually feel your heart squeeze, your lungs empty with a whoosh and the emotion of devastating loss rise up into your throat. Then, the uncontrolled rush of tears and memories swirl about as ghosts without form or substance. This had been our movie, our music and it was Africa..... the only thing he had ever wanted was an African Safari, and we never saw our way clear to go. This is my guilt; my shame; my wish to have said yes. So, with his sudden demise 11 years ago, this haunts me. For years could neither watch the movie or listen to the score.

How many times do we say, "Oh, well, there's always tomorrow"..... no, not always and we have left so much undone or not said. These are not original thoughts but they are reality. This music became very significant to us. We had been invited to be trainers at Philmont Training Center in New Mexico for several years; and as anyone who has been there, loved all of the pieces and parts of the ranch. When you entered the property from the side that brings you in from up behind the barns, the view was, to us, reminiscent of some of the movie's scenes of Africa's savannahs and Gret Riff. For atmosphere and to tease the moment, we would stop while the tape played that signature sound..... very special to us. It will ever be linked in my heart with that one man that brought fun, romance, adventure; he made my world complete. Well, it's true.

The scene when Dennis takes Karen for her plane ride is gripped with the sharing of life's special moments we often pass off as "oh, wow, that was beautiful", when the reality is that moment will never come again. We should wrap our arms around that person and hold on for dear life. How often does it slid away un-noticed? Just to feel the touch of his hand on mine; the arm that draws you near in the middle of the night; that funny look "I want you" while standing in a crowd .... there are not words to lessen the knowing you will never experience that again.

So, the movie ends with his sudden death .... odd, that hollow empty feeling. The hole that can't be filled again. Shopping for things doesn't help, the emptiness remains. Have seen where some immediately find another person for fear of being alone. Have watched others commit to the next relationship but hold back a portion of themselves so as to insure the whole self isn't hurt again. Granted walking in others shoes might change this point of view...but I doubt it. Shouldn't it be an all or nothing situation. Right, it's clear everyone doesn't/hasn't had a good experience in the marriage department; all the same, why would we partially commit. That's like trying two horses at one time .... a little awkward trying to keep your balance and not very satisfying. Love, if you ever come into my life again, it will be all or nothing. As the movie score plays for the credits, that knot swells in the throat and tears blur the vision for remembered and lost moments. Tomorrow may not arrive ... today is now ... aging makes one realize, life and love are fragile and precious!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hay and Double Bubble

An only child on a small horse farm in 1940's East Tennessee left no opportunity for friends. Tunacuna was a magical world for a fertile imagination which probably caused her parents concern. A pasture could become a vast prairie of waving grasses home to herds of buffalo. The corral attached to the barn had surely seen cowboys break wild horses. She would stand on the porch to watch a summer rain storm sweep along the mountain backdrop until it encompassed her world. Barefooted, grabbing an umbrella, she loved the water splashing up her legs with the fall of each foot. There was a trough down the yard where the beckoning rain water congregated. Other times might find her sitting quietly in the barn listening to the pelleting drops dance on the tin roof. That barn was also a refuge from the volcanic atmosphere of the main house. Her pleasures were simple: the sounds of horses munching their grain and hay, chickens pecking in the dirt and her Cocker Spaniel, Count, curled up beside her. Hours had been spent here just listening and watching. From time to time, she'd lead a horse out into the hall, cross tie and brush til their coat glistened. Funny how they were so gentle towering over her. It required a couple of boxes to stand on in order to reach their backs. And sometimes the temptation of slidding onto those broad backs was a deliciously forbidden treat and could not be resisted. There is nothing so grand as the smell of a horse or the feel of one between the knees. They loved her too. Concerned with the countless number of hours spent in the barn, Mother and Daddy rationalized she needs to be around other children. "CAMP" what is a camp and why? What did I do wrong? I can learn to swim in the creek!! PLEASE, don't make me go!! So, sentenced to a Girl Scout Camp for 2 weeks. It was a blur of strangers assigned 6 to each cabin. The art of lanyard plaiting was illusive, lashing tripods was clumsy, but swimming was achieved. Friends .... well, that skill was slow to develop as a painful shyness caused the brain and mouth to shut down. Many tearful nights ended with the concerned administration contacting HOME and, glory be, she was released from the torment. As the car rolled to a stop, she bounded through the door and raced to the barn. Greeted by welcoming nickers and those out in the lower pasture came on a dead run. Count was bouncing up and down impatient for his hugs as well. Joy was written all over her; this was heaven. The next summer was different. Mississippi grandparents were to be visited and as they made the trip several times each year all seemed normal. As the weekend visit came to a close and the car began being packed, grandparent asked, out of no where, would parents allow the "baby" to say for a little while longer. Oh how she would like to stay with them and could be picked up on their next trip down. The small town was an exciting experience. Grandmother rose early each day to shop for the day's fresh vegetables, meats, Double Bubble chewing gum and something really new ... Kool Aid. She was introduced to the merchants, green grocer, baker [and oh, the smell of cinnamon rolls filled the street at that hour]. By the time they returned, Janie had dusted, swept, changed the linens and was ready to move to the swing in the backyard under the giant China Berry tree and shell peas or string the beans for Dinner .... that's a large noontime meal in the South. Time came to drive down to "the shop" for Grandfather and return for a couple of hours. Whatever was left was stored for Supper that evening as it was too hot to cook twice in one day. Life was orderly and planned with the precision of a German General. There was a Social Calendar which included Picnics, Swimming and Watermelon Parties, and Tea Parties ..... that took some getting used to .... oh, and they required wearing dresses resulting in shopping trips to a neighboring, larger, town. Mortification personified .... white frilly socks and white sandals, not to mention the Organza pinafore. The hair, normally a long mass of flyaway chestnut curls was subdued with French Braids ending with satin ribbon bows. You know what .... it was fun and special friendships developed with several. Melissa Ann became her constant companion ..... sisters. They even share birthdays only days apart. From mud pies to lipstick, they were each other's confidant from the very beginning. They ran into and out of each others house without a thought. The really neat thing was Melissa's family always included her in what ever they were involved .... even learning to ride bicycles. That alone was an undertaking. Together that was 5 children; Melissa and her 2 younger sisters and a baby brother. Her parents had the patience of Job and an iron will. Holy cow, a bicycle opened up the whole world. It would begin with just the two of them and as they neared a friend's house she would join in. By the end of pedaling all over town they resembled a small force of laughing happy faces. The day Grandfather brought home the blue Flyer at noon, it was difficult to sit through Dinner. Finally he allowed her to be excused from the table and instructed to stay on the sidewalk. "Do not go into the street." An hour later, the first commandeering took place. However, it became evident life had expanded and "just be careful and watch out for cars" was issued. Bicycles shared the transportation load with cars as they neared 16. And of course, going to the Municipal pool was not solely for swimming. The first time Elvis was heard singing Hound Dog was at a Thursday night Teen Tavern. This was an open pavilion with a concrete floor and record play for dancing. Double dating, just riding around with the sisters for a coke, Sunday afternoon movies followed by a french fries and coke at Harold's Cafe ... life was perfect. Those chosen sisters shared a life so alien to her Tennessee world, she held on to it jealously. For many years, each summer was filled with at least 2 weeks in Mississippi. The farm, though, continued to be magical. And to this day, the aroma of hay and Double Bubble gum causes the mind to swirl with pleasures of horses and the sisters. Good lawrd, that began over 65 years ago.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Glancing over my shoulder .... HO HO HO

As a child, he had experienced "very lean" Christmases in the gifting department. He wanted so many packages under the tree that his sons would actually tire of opening presents as he had received only one gift a year. The results were plies of wrapped boxes filled with silly or fun things and one major gift each [no clothes]. The stockings, on the other hand, became Mom's event to be enjoyed first. Along with the candies, she tried to find a special stuffer, which continues today.

So, off for a Currier and Ives holiday in Connecticut. Christmas morn [no snow], the stockings [for the pets as well] were filled and leaning by the fireplace. The family gathered with steaming cups and morning chatter. Finally, stocking time .... among the chocolates an envelope with a sheet of information: reservations at the Algonquin Hotel, tickets to WICKED and dinner reservations at THE ORIGINAL OLD HOMESTEAD. It was for her a special family overnight trip into New York that probably would not ever happen again. It was a stretch in the purse, but she wanted to do this for her family. Later that day, a visit to a neighboring town and the movie Tron. The show was good but the "popcorn", yes, the "popcorn" was the best ever and will be remembered long after the movie is forgotten. Later in the evening, a terrific steak dinner at home caused a hush to fall over the table. Ummmmm, oooooh, good food, good times and family .... is anything better???? Not for me.

Next day, a late breakfast at The Whistle Stop before an afternoon of Duck Pin Bowling. Little squatty pins and boccie size balls with no finger holes. What ever skill had existed in the distant past is completely gone ..... gutter ball, gutter ball, gutter ball ..... oh, please. Cajoling, laughing, resetting pins with the "pedal, pedal, pedal", we had fun! When the purchased hour was reached, departure was into a deepening snow. It's Connecticut for goodness sakes; a little snow doesn't stop the flow of life as it would cripple Tennessee. Apparently the car is not front wheel drive as expected; so once home, parked it for the duration. Looking back, it had been a good day all around, and, it's Italian tonight ..... perfect!

Snow and wind blew all night leaving various depths the next morning. Voila .... white Christmas ...... the blizzard clobbered New York leaving streets clogged and cars assaulted by clearing equipment. By the afternoon, the neighborhood snow blowers cranked up and life resumed. For us it was back to that same theater for True Grit and more importantly the popcorn. Actually, it has crept into dreams; yes, the popcorn. There will be no snickering; it's no joke.

Early morning, we are off to the city with a drive to New Haven, then the train into Grand Central Station. Yes, that sounds like such a tourist .... but you know what ..... tourist applies. My goodness, a cavernous hall lined with wreaths and the golden zodiac signs against a pale blue ceiling. And right there, getting our bearings an agent asked how long we'd had "that Georgia South Carolina accent". Actually, it's Tennessee; lawrd, hope I don't sound like a hick. Then, we're through the door and taa daa .... headlong into ridges of snow lining the sidewalks and streets. No cab necessary, it's "only" 3 blocks to 44th between 5th and 6th, so the walking began.

Finally through the etched glass doors into old oak and history. Hello Dorothy Parker .... and friends. Once checked in hunger pangs rage. How far to the Carnegie Deli? "Oh, it's only a few blocks". As we neared, other hungry folks had formed a line awaiting entry. Eventually seated, they had crammed as many table as possible between those resisting walls. Perusing the menu and eyeing delivered plates, there is no way on earth the mountain called a sandwich could be consumed by one person and then walk. With little deliberation, splitting one seemed acceptable. "And for you?" Well, what else, Pastrami on Rye and onion rings for the table. Right down to the last morsel of meat, it was the best and the rings weren't shabby either. The place was packed and probably 80% were tourist..... us too. The only thing needed now is a little exercise. Back to the snow ridged streets and F.A.O. Schwartz for the "Big" piano performance and a wander through the toys. The greeter, a gentleman dressed as a toy soldier, was a show stopper himself. Looking around, this really is real .... we are here. Time, temporarily, seemed suspended even though the day was moving right along. Where did all of these people come from.

Back on the street with the snow, slush, impatient drivers and cars blocking entire streets, headed for Top of the Roc and the Christmas tree. Four tickets and then up to the top for an astounding 360 degree view. Holyyy Cowww, Central Park is gorgeous under this blanket of snow. It would be hard pressed to be more beautiful. All the way to the Battery, then beyond to the Statue of Liberty and Staten Island was washed in the rose hues of the impending sunset. The air crisp and clear, one could see forever. Unfortunately, aging joints and legs were resulting in the sense of humor slipping. Thank goodness the hotel was "only" 3 blocks away ..... those were the short ones. Everyone took their own route; so with cane in hand, which turned out to be the measuring tool at curbs to determine the slush depth, felt the tenor of the city and the crush of the cattle herd. Actually, the snow ridges at crosswalks were either stomped down or a single tiny path and you are one small salmon swimming against the tide. And this is New York!

Ahh, success and through those wonderful doors. Have you ever been afraid of taking off your shoes, boots, whatever for fear of not being able to get them back on? Right with you!! Collapsed onto that magnificent bed and didn't move for an hour. It could have been longer, I wasn't counting. Dinner reservations were for 7:30, so 3 of us met for a drink while one of us managed to tear himself away from a camera store and race back across town in a timely fashion. As per instructed, ask the bellman for a cab. Some 30 minutes later, we walked to 5th Avenue and found a car. The Original Old Homestead Restaurant is way the heck down 1st Avenue in the meat packing district ..... just 10 tables in the oak and mirrored room. Truly a well preserved and loved place. The decision for which cut of beef took a bit of time. Can't speak for the others, however, the Signature Fillet was incredible.

After a considerable amount of time and finally finished, we were faced with finding a cab. Luckily, one appeared and we piled in. One of the things we had discussed was wouldn't it be great if we found "The Cash Cab". Well, so far, no luck; but he did have the advertisement on his roof. That would have been a perfect end to the day; but the cabbie was a hoot. Listening to our comments, he felt one of us watched entirely too much t.v. which resulted in the rest of us almost falling out of the cab laughing.

Bed and everywhere aches; but, Morpheus eventually arrived and was wrapped in those wings. And the new day all is functional. Needing coffee, stop by to check on their morning before going down stairs. They already had coffee and rolls which would cause a breakfast confusion for me. Finally joined by one, were ushered to a table near the famed "round table" where Dorothy Parker and friends held court every day for lunch. Seems the original table had mysteriously disappeared 20 years before. Well, that's slightly suspicious. Breakfast was fair and due to my misunderstanding they went elsewhere.

Now, the much anticipated Mafia Tour Day ..... think it was actually called a Wiseguy Tour .... set for 10:30 a.m. and that's when things began to unravel. No Patrick [tour guide] and no Limo/SUV. 40 minutes late Patrick arrives apologetic, "the snow, you know"; but he pitches right into history of the Mafia in Sicily right up to Prohibition. Where is the Limo? Wow, it has been canceled for the day. End of story ..... a lost morning, it's noon. Crap!!!! What to do for a couple of hours??? That sense of humor thing is slipping again. Let's walk to the Gershwin Theater for our 2 p.m. performance of WICKED. So, a wander through the theater district sounded about right. The 45 minute wait for curtain was just fine. Had time to read the Playbill for background information and cast members. The light dim, the dragon roars and the music swells!! As for the show, well let's see. The stage setting was workably simple in it's complexity. The casts' timing and execution was beautiful. The principals presented their character perfectly but "green" girl was amazing and deserved every minute of the recognition she received. WOW, what a portrayal. Won't go into the story line, but it certainly plays into the Wizard of Oz and actually fills out the idea of Oz. A standing ovation for a terrific production!!!!!!!!!! Am so very glad I did not look it up on You Tube or the Internet and went in totally uninformed.

To return to the hotel, we were thinking cab ...... lots of luck ..... well, it's only "a few" blocks. Collected our things and walked to Grand Central. Waiting for tickets, we had time to actually see the architecture and watch the people; then, suddenly we were hurrying to our train to find a car that wasn't crammed with travelers. One of us engaged into conversation with fellow travelers almost immediately and for the duration to the end of the line. But what was actually surprising were the two young women who tried to convince their companion to lick the hand pole as they had done. Guess something was missed in my formative years .... but why comes to mind. YUCK!!!! Apparently, this occurred while a crossword puzzle had my undivided attention. And then the conductor announces "New Haven, end of the line".

Hungry and we are introduced to Frank Pepe's Pizzeria and a coal oven pizza. Thinking this must be the best pizza in the world ...... it's cold and there is a line outside. So we wait. Seemed the chat had gone out of all of us; maybe, it was just me. However, with the first bite could actually feel life returning. There is a difference created by the coal .... not the taste but the crispness of the crust but not like a cracker. Eating and listening to the local chatter we seemed to devour our shares. Was surprised there were a few pieces left. Hummm, now the drive to Bloomfield. Sure am glad we were convinced to postpone our return home for a day of recovery. By afternoon, began to reorganize the car and thank goodness the fluids were checked and found terribly low or empty. A trip to the mechanic indicated a serious issue that could have been extremely unpleasant on the highway AND it will not be ready until late tomorrow afternoon. Ahhh, 2 day recovery. All things being equal, no point stressing out. So we will travel on New Years Day. Our last evening together; some t.v., chatting, packing and early to bed.

Eight a.m. rolling southwest for home. "If you turn left on the next exit, we can take 10 to Bridgeport and pick up I-95 through the City." As long as we are going south, that's fine. Just as we crossed a river directions went a rye; instead of going straight across and through town, we missed it completely ending up on the New Jersey Turnpike. Deep breathing, frustration and anger at the lose of film opportunities were replaced later with the anticipation of Philadelphia. Well, shoot, we can go to Pat's and then cross the street to Geno's for our own Philly Steak taste test .... O.K.? Sure, it will be a first for this sandwich which should result in a more honest test. After a bit of wandering and circling the area, we became aware that parking was an issue [bumper to bumper comes to mind] and creativity would be necessary. Do you feel lucky?? Creativity won out..... well, the bumper was just inside the corner curb; and, we shouldn't be gone that long. Famous last words. Lucky us, walked right up to the window, ordered and received. Walked across the street, ordered and received but not a table to be had. Not to be deterred, stood at the narrow counter and began the taste test.

Have you ever been on a maiden voyage ..... that was the experience. One bread had a nice crisp crust and the other had a more moist meat. Personally some sandwiches are better with other "stuff" on it, well, wasn't all that impressed. BUT HEY, it was the home of the Philly Steak Sandwich and we didn't leave hungry. The best part ..... the car hadn't been towed, nor were there any boots locked on the tires. Oh, please, just find the interstate, that is of course if we are finished here. Back on the road headed south. Caught I-495 west around Washington, then right on 66 to Roanoke, Virginia and left on I-81. Before your eyes glaze over, midnight plus 30 and home sweet home ..... 993.8 miles one way ...... yep, 1,987.6 miles round trip...... and it was a not to be forgotten fun adventure; it was Christmas with the family; it was Connecticut ...... Now here we are and it's snowing. Hot chocolate or mulled cider would be perfect about now with a fire don't you think? Join me .......