Wednesday, November 26, 2008



Remember that opening scene in the movie Elizabethtown? Orlando Bloom walks through the first five minutes saying to everyone he passes, "I'm fine. I'm fine. Fine, I'm fine..." That'd be me this morning.

I put Birddog in a ditch (a big deep ditch) on my way to work, thanks to a sudden wall of fog, a bit of black ice, an idiot with his brights on (who drives with their brights on in the friggin' fog?!), and a curve. Birddog's ok, I'm ok. All's well that ends well. I'm a bit rattled, but otherwise fine... I'm fine. I was only an hour late for work. I'm fine.

I want to thank a very nice guy named Matt, who was not only kind enough to stop, but also gave me a ride to the gas station and the number of his buddy who owns a towing service. Additionally, I want to thank Chris of the towing service, who was very kind, extremely efficient, and did his best to make me feel like less of an idiot. Nice try, Chris... sorry it wasn't met with more success.

*sigh* I'm fine. Really. Just fine.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I'm thankful to be.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

...She Said Peevishly

"Unfortunately, common sense is the least common of all the senses."
~Mark Twain

Stuff that's been bugging me lately...

--Why to toilet paper manufacturers insist upon gluing down that first piece of tp?!

--Why do they put up road signs that say "Be Prepared To Stop"?! I am always prepared to stop.

--Two words: cell phones. I'd rather deal with a drunk driver than someone driving under the cellular influence. Also, I do not need to hear your personal conversations when I'm out shopping or dining (or anywhere in public) - keep your polyp rehash and dating woes for later.

--While we're on the subject of road distemper, do your fellow crash test dummies a favor and assume The Three Necessities Position: Head out of ass; Hands on the wheel; Eyes forward!

--Why is it that, when leaving voice mail, people feel the need to rattle off their phone numbers at the speed of light. You want me to call back? Don't abuse me with your auctioneer on espresso logorrhea. No, it doesn't help that you repeated it three times - it was indiscernible each freakin' time.

--If you take the last cup of coffee, make more!!!

--Designated smoking areas are just that. Quit giving the people using them "the look." They already know it's bad for their health - your withering glare is not going to make them drop their cig and yell "Hallelujah, I'm cured! Pass me a mug o' wheatgrass juice." You don't like the smoke? Stay the hell outa the smokehouse.

--Why are commercials always broadcast at three times the volume of the regularly scheduled program?! Beating me with your sales pitch will make me walk in the opposite direction.

--Your "personal relationship with Jesus" is just that - personal. Kindly keep it to yourself.

--Stop assuming that someone is going to fall off of the planet if they end up spending a holiday alone. "No thank you" means NO! It does not mean, "Please try harder, I'm just being shy."

--The offense you give is the offense you take - unclench already!

--Life goes on, move with it. You wanna dwell, you dwell alone.

--Would it kill you to smile and say a kind word to menial laborers?

Ok, I'm done. Go forth... have a day.

Monday, November 24, 2008

That For Which I Thank

Howdy, howdy. It was a mostly uneventful weekend out in them thar hills. Just the way I like it. I was up to the usual groceries, petted the neglected cat**, played the piano some (though it was hard to motivate myself after watching an amazing DVD of Allen Toussaint and Elvis Costello - thanks Mark), crafted a bit, chopped kindling, hauled wood, cleaned, went for a walk with Sneak Doggie Dog - The Gangsah of Love, read, stared at the river, listened to the wind. It was all good.

[ **Ever since Midnight, in her delayed passive-aggressive fury over the arrival of The Stinking Dog-breath Infidel saw fit to pee on my bed as a form of revenge (cue string of unladylike expletives) I've given her her very own apartment at The Ink Pad. She likes it ok, but I know she gets lonely too. I do miss having her at base camp, but I cain't abide no varmit abusin' my lair in sech fashion.]

Here we are, Thanksgiving week. Amid the rush to find the perfect bird, plan the perfect menu, decide how to separate family and friends who don't get along so's to have a peaceable gathering, and cooking, cooking, cooking... please take some time, find some solitude, and voice the things that bless your life. That's right, find a place alone and say 'em aloud. Yeah, it helps to have a river nearby where no one can hear, but it's not necessary. Go for a drive by yourself if you need to.

I'm thankful for so much. It's difficult to even know where to start. This list is by no means and end all / be all, and it is in no particular order (if you can find order in my free-associative chaotic mind, you probably should sign up to win the Nobel prize or some such). I'm thankful for:

  • Health

  • Peace of Mind

  • Intelligence

  • Love - the ability to give and to receive

  • Friendships

  • Weight loss

  • My fine furry friends, Midnight & Nino - they love me no matter who I am at the end of the day

  • The harsh moments that have brought about beauty - the sour in the sweet

  • The ability to create

  • The ability to communicate and the abundance of venues I seem to have for that ability

  • Natural beauty

  • Food and shelter

  • The continued functioning of all six senses (yeah, I said that)

  • More than anything, I am ever thankful for the loving, supportive gang that comprises my circle - the cast of characters that wander through this blog, if you will (and if I miss anyone, it's not because you're not significant, it's because my mind is involved in a fast-paced race with my typing skills). I wouldn't be who I am without the who of you: Scott (and the various and sundry Spring offspring thereof), Timothy, Laura, Tonto (& The Nana's Place Gang plus A Few Dozen Shermans), Iggy, The Johnson Clan (yeah, all of 'em!), Bill, Wendi, Mark & Karsin, Gary, my entire fam-damily, The Simon Lads, The Dingo Crew. We don't get to choose whom we love (my belief), but given the chance, I'd have chosen you and would choose you all over again.
    I need your grace
    To remind me
    To find my own

    ~Snow Patrol, Chasing Cars

    Friday, November 21, 2008

    But Wait... That's Not All!

    The above pic was sent to me by my nephew Homer who works at Guest Relations for MGM Studios in Disney World. He sent it along with the following text which I thought was pretty dang funny itself, so I thought I'd share: So, I just thought this was the funniest thing ever! Allow me to explain...This weekend at the Studios was ABC Super Soap Weekend. All the big stars from ABC Soap Operas come out and make public appearances and sign limited autographs. Well, these fans have no sense of reality versus real life. We at guest relations get numerous complaints and very angry guests when they are unable to obtain autographs. Susan Lucci is the biggest soap star and about 80% of the crazies come to see her. So when I walked in to our break room and saw this I laughed for quite some time. You may not find it as funny as I did, but you have to experience the craziness of Super Soap Weekend to fully appreciate the joke. Super Soap is by far the worst event that we have at the Studios. The crazies are…well…CRAZY! Bitchy and fat old ladies rolling around in electric scooters with no regard for the people the run over. Not to mention they have no sense of reality and they think these “stories” are real! It's Creepy!

    And now.... drum roll please... for your Friday Attitude Adjustment and Amusement... the return of "The List." I heard it or said or wrote it or read it (emails) myself, and for whatever reason it amused me enough to want to post it here.

    I'm not just pullin' your daisy, my friend.

    I was going to replace the butt covers and I forgot.

    He'll have to bring rolls, he has no buns.

    It's extremely rare that I get blindsided by leftover emotions like that - usually I hear the quiet snick of the trigger and can duck and cover in plenty of time.

    It'll remain an enigma until we're sufficiently bleary-eyed from some kind of substantial liquid.

    And you know what they say, Ma? Good girls suck. Nice girls swallow. Yeah. Put that in your good Catholic incense burner and smoke it!

    Come on and take a cha- cha- chance, move your hands like pinchers. Do the crabby dance!

    Didn't someone once say "digression is the better part of pallor"?

    My personal economy currently makes the rest of the nation's economy look like the roaring twenties doing big lines of blow with Reagan's eighties big-hair, big-wallet dumb asses!

    I... uh... oh, fuck it... give me my orange jumpsuit (if you call me Pumpkin, I will kill you) and three squares and let me be.

    I will tell you a story about Walt and his daughter, whose name I don't remember because... she was... naughty.


    And now, just because it's such a lovely tune, listen to it at least twice... David Gray, The One I Love

    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    Hopelessly Hopeful

    "Certainty is bullshit - everybody's just hoping."
    ~Crazy People

    Timothy and I... we disagree on one thing. Hope. His definition of hope is that it's just "delayed disappointment." My definition of hope would be more along the lines of... oh... clinging desperately to a lone palm tree in the midst of a hurricane. You do what you gotta do and hold on, believing that one day the storm is going to pass, the sun will shine again, and you'll go for a cool swim, forgetting just how menacing the ocean can be. Hard work never hurts, but sometimes just hanging on is hard enough work.

    I was having a conversation with someone yesterday and made the comment, "I have great hope that...(blahblahblah)." The response was a sarcastic snort and, "Yeah, that and $2.20 will buy you a gallon of gas..."

    I can understand the somewhat scornful view of hope. The gods know I've had mine dashed more than enough. But I just can't seem to give up hope on hoping. In my deepest, darkest, anthracite colored moments it was all I had. And it was enough. Whether it played out the way I wanted it to or not, it got me through. It still does. However, it should be noted that all my hoping is not without a caveat, an amendment if you will. It's hope everything, expect nothing. Big difference. It's not our hopes that get us in trouble, but our expectations - our narcissistic certainty that something will go the way we want it to.

    We have to hope. Hope is the want of something better. Hope is the counterpoint to complacency and apathetic acceptance. Just don't have any lofty expectations... you'll be fine.

    Hugo: Had you vision as well as sight, you would recognize within me not only a man, but an institution and the future as well.
    Fuck you, fuck the institution, and fuck the future!Hugo: You cannot fuck the future, sir. The future fucks you.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    The Thin Red Line

    First the good things. My big sis sent me a new pair of jeans for my birthday. It was a doubly good gift because they are 4 sizes smaller than the jeans she bought me for my birthday last year and they fit! Along the same thin red line**, my friend and co-worker Kim made a birthday card for me that all the Dingos signed. She said she was looking through her PC files for a picture of me to use on it, but that “all of the pictures I have of you are from… um… before and they don’t even look like you any more!” Then yesterday (proudly wearing the new jeans) as I sauntered past another coworker he said, “Hey, Shrinking Woman…” Normally I don’t bide much time with External Validation because that sneaky trickster is just too damned seductive, but dang… it sho’nuff do feel good!

    Monday night Scott hooked up his old Super 8 projector and we watched some of his family movies from the late 50’s, early 60’s. I always enjoy peering into the past of people I love. From all appearances it was an idyllic childhood. They grew up in this glorious state with parents who were open to adventure and exploration, and who encouraged their children to learn, do and become – all the while having a pretty good time. Last night I overheard Scott talking to his Dad and telling him what a great life he (his Dad) had and how cool it was that they’d done all the things they’ve done. When he hung up I asked him, “Do you understand how absolutely fortunate you were as a kid? I’m not saying that as a way of chastising you or anything, but because… I don’t know. It’s just that my childhood was pretty much diametrically opposed to what you seem to have experienced.” He assured me that he’s well aware of how great his early years were – and I don’t doubt it considering what a fine human being he is as an adult.

    But, it made me sad, and pensive, and… and angry, dammit… because it got me thinking about my own childhood. I’d say I’m about 98% healed from anything that happened to me then, but just like the nasty scar on my left leg, every now and then something gets nudged just the right (wrong) way and there is searing pain for a brief while all over again. Last night was one of those times. I ended up in a total meltdown over my childhood – something that hasn’t happened to me in a good, oh, 10 or more years. I don’t share this stuff much because a) it is in the past; b) it is very personal; c) I don’t want or need anyone’s sympathy. But I was so angry at my Dad. How many times in my early life did I hear him say to all of us at some point, “You’re no damned good.” He belittled and said horrible, unspeakable things to my Mother. He raged at my older brothers. Hell, he raged at all of us. One could argue that the alcohol was the culprit, and more often than not, it probably was. However, he was sober on plenty of those occasions. Sober enough to know that his children were terrified of him. That’s what angered me last night. How could a man know that his own children were terrified of him, cowering from him, and not want or try to do something about it? If I ever saw a child in that state as a result of something I did or said… I don’t know… I think I’d want myself taken out.

    It’s the hardest thing to forgive. I think I have. But the anger is still there. I miss him, I hate him, I miss him, I love him. Mostly, I’d like to have him back for maybe just long enough for me to scream at him, “What the fuck were you thinking?!” Or maybe I’d just… I don’t know… crumble. Like I did last night once my own rage was spent (way out there, no one can hear ya scream).

    I know I’ve said it, and I mean it; I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m who I am now because I was who I was then. Still, I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the girl who thought she was the ugly monster when all along the monster was the one leading the dance.

    It was a thin red line**, but somehow she held ground. Somehow she rallied. Somehow… she’s just right.

    ** Per Wikipedia: The Thin Red Line is a term for a thinly spread military unit holding firm against attack. The phrase later took on the metaphorical meaning of the barrier which the relatively limited armed forces of a country present to potential attackers.

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Stones From The River

    "Sure is funny how life turns out, ain't it?"
    "All the time. I swear."
    ~Return to Lonesome Dove

    I am 47 years old as of today. I'm excited about it. Forty-seven is a prime number, after all. Plus, 4 and 7 add up to 11 (also a prime), and in numerology that's a very good number. So, I'm looking forward to a great year. Don't get me wrong, forty-six wasn't bad, but it was definitely arduous at times, painful even, doing all that soul spelunking - not that I'm apt to give that up any time soon. I yam what I yam.

    I had the day to myself yesterday and I did something I've been wanting to do for 15 years. 'Long about 1994 I read a wonderful story by Ursula Hegi, Stones From the River. I won't go into great detail about the book, but it's well worth the read. Here's what struck me the most and stayed with me. The protagonist, Trudi would take a handful of stones and assign each one a hurt, or a personage, or a wrong that had been done to her. One by one she would chuck the stones into the river to symbolize that those things couldn't hurt her any more.

    That's what I did. While Nino snuffled around in the sand and rocks, I snuffled through my tears and got rid of the "stones" that were weighing me down. I spoke to each one, kissed each good bye, and one by one sent them flying out into the rapids. It was beautiful. Only thing missing was a shot of tequila to seal the deal (in my humble opinion tequila shots should be had any time something significant happens), but I had a thermo-mug full of good dark bean and that's nearly as perfect.

    Nino seemed to sense that my cathartic event was at an end, climbed up on the boulder where I was perched and rested his head on my shoulder. With his warm body snugged next to me and his soft doggy breath on my cheek... I felt... mended. That dog, I swear, he's fixed something in me. He's scooped up some of the shards of my shattered heart and pasted them back together into something beautiful. I didn't know there were still so many busted off pieces, and I never would have guessed that a dog could do so much for me. I love that pup somethin' fierce. Of course, 5 minutes later he was having an argument with a recalcitrant branch that was stuck in the muck at the river's edge... he is a dog after all. Even more reason to love him.

    So, 47... here we go. I feel better now than I did when I was 37. "I'm newly calibrated... "
    This song ought to be my birthday anthem....

    Collective Soul, Better Now

    Friday, November 14, 2008

    It's Enough To Make You Go Crazy

    Happy Friday! It's been a surreal morning already. I tend to put Birddog on auto-pilot through the forest on the way into Granite Falls. So, there I was, leaning back and enjoying my coffee, grooving to the songs on the radio... so far, so good. About a third of the way into town is a clearing with an adorable little house on it - actually more of a cottage, painted a pretty pale yellow. The place has a 'kerchief sized railed porch in front. Every time I drive by I think cute-n-cozy. However, this morning I nearly spewed bean all over the interior of the truck. There on that wee porch was an inflated plastic turkey - easily six feet tall. (Were it a real turkey, it could feed Thailand for a year.) But wait, that's not all! The turkey's ass was glowing bright red !!! I'm sure the light bulb that someone shoved in there was supposed to light the entire turkey, but it didn't work that way. Instead, the poor gargantuan critter looks as though it has a gigantic bleedin' hemorrhoid! It had me in hysterics... crazy enough that someone decorates for Thanksgiving... but this! Hoooo. Too much.

    I kept laughing until the news came on the radio. Right up until my favorite DJ, Marty started talking about GM asking for a bailout. I went from hysterics to near fury. As soon as I had opportunity, I emailed him the following:
    Hi Marty... Hey Jodi,

    I couldn't believe what I was hearing this morning! A GM bailout?! In the words of Will Smith, "Oh hell no!" I grew up in Grand Rapids, MI and year after year felt the pain of friends and their families whenever the auto plants would have layoffs. It was harsh, but they managed and somehow kept going. Did the big auto execs in Grosse Point ever have to cut back though? Did they ever have to refinance or sell their homes? Did they have to take their children out of private schools? Give up the notion of going away on vacation for a couple of years? Figure out how to make something tasty out of top ramen? Or even, may the gods forbid, apply for food stamps? You're a smart man, Marty... bet you know the answer already. You can bet that if they get a government bailout the money isn't going to go toward keeping Joe Rivet employed. It's going to go toward keeping Joseph Upyours III living the lifestyle to which he and his family have become accustomed.

    It just slays me that these people are getting bailed out. I've been in the work force for 35 years of my 47 year life. Not once in all that time have any of my cost of living increases gone up commensurately with my actual cost of living. We all do what we have to do. No bailout for GM... nuh uh... never.

    Brett Dennen pegged it, "It's enough to make ya go crazy..."

    (not so subtle hint to play that song)

    Take care,

    Barb Black

    PS. My 13 year old truck is still worth more than what my parents paid for their first house.

    And then in other news, a South Carolina priest is refusing to give communion to anyone who voted for Obama because voting for him (and I quote) "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil." Not that I give a rat's ass what the Catholic church (or anyone) thinks, but... it's just wrong on so many levels I can't even begin to comment or we'd all be here at this blog for days, and we all have other things to do. But... can you say Torquemada? Yeah... knew you could.

    Strange day already. I feel like I'm walking through it about 5 inches left of where I should be, part of me stuck in some strange parallel. Glad there's a pending weekend waiting for me. Time for me to put on my hikin' boots, unleash the mutt, and trip off to someplace real.

    Brett Dennen, Make You Crazy

    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Ramble On

    Did you hear it? Did you hear me n' my pup howlin' last night? The skies cleared (finally!) and the big ol' searchlight of La Luna came beamin' through. So, Nino and I were out there giving it its due.

    It was with great sadness that I heard that Mitch Mitchell died yesterday. Mitchell was the drummer for The Jimi Hendrix Experience. While there's no question that Jimi is the iconic great rock guitarist, if you listen to the tunes (google Purple Haze and jam for a bit!) beyond the amazing guitar licks, you'll quickly realize that Jimi and Mitch were matched in talent. Mitch's drumming did more than offset Jimi's guitar and vocals, it was the heartbeat of all that great soulful stuff. Well, dudes... you're back on the same stage again after all these years. Rock on.

    I also read something somewhere (this was actually a few days ago) that when Led Zeppelin first hit the scene critics pooh-poohed their success as a fluke. They said Jimmy Page's guitar tracks were overblown and Robert Plant's soaring vocals were never going to last as something anyone wanted to listen to. Led Zep didn't care. They played because it felt good, because they wanted to. They liked their sound and that's all that mattered. Well, guess who's still getting airplay 40 years later?! They're hailed as hard rockers, but if you pay attention much of their music is actually acoustical (I Got a Woman, Stairway to Heaven, Going to California, etc.) - edgy acoustical sure, but acoustical nonetheless. Whether you like the strains of Led Zep's music or not (and I can totally understand why some wouldn't like it), you have to agree that there is something powerful in their tunes. Who can listen to Whole Lotta Love without grinning at a great remembered sexual experience, or maybe wishing for a new one? Who can hear Ramble On without hollering an internal "Yeah!" at whatever it is that drives a soul? Who can possibly sit through Plant's screamin' Valkyrie cries in Immigrant Song without wanting to grab the nearest Norseman (or Norsewoman) and have a throwdown in the snow?!

    Anyway. Pardon while the rocker chick in me settles her feathers. (Gypsy exits stage left to refresh cup o' bean, singing in shabby Plant-esque falsetto: "Seems that the wrath of the Gods got a punch on the nose and it started to flow; I think I might be sinking. Throw me a line if I reach it in time I'll meet you up there where the path runs straight and high.")

    Heh. As I listened to the radio on my drive home and the glorious tribute to Mitch Mitchel (thank you John Fisher at 103.7 The Mountain, KMTT) and the classic strains of Purple Haze, I had to chuckle. There are some songs I just can't hear without recalling misunderstood lyrics that my young ears heard way back when. Purple Haze happens to be one of 'em... I can't help but sing along, but instead of "'Scuse me while I kiss the sky..." I belt out, as I did in my youth, "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy..."

    Ironically, Led Zep's Whole Lotta Love was another one I slaughtered back then. Of course, my 8 year old mind had no grasp of the true concept of the song, or I might have figured out my error sooner. I thought they were singing, "You need Kool-aid, baby I'm not foolin'...." Hell, sounded good to me. Cherry please. *wicked giggle*

    One of my favorites came from my baby brother, John. Back when Frankie Valli came out with My Eyes Adored You, we were all in the car one day, radio playing, when John belted out along with Frankie, "Myyyyyyyyyy Uncle Georgie.... oh I never laid a hand on you...." I still haul that memory out whenever I need an uplift.

    I'm never able to participate in Christmas carols without getting in trouble. To this day, my internal ear still hears, "round young virgin" in Silent Night. Granted, as a kid my entire perception of a virgin was that it was a woman wearing a light blue hoodie and looking beatifically toward the heavens. Of course she was round... she was pregnant. It all made sense (and still does) to me. Never mind that I never understood how my Dad (Harold) got written into Hark the Harold Angels Sing - especially being as completely tone-deaf as he was.

    It's all good. I heard an interview with Seal once, who said that he purposely does not publish lyrics with his CD's because he likes people to interpret whatever they think they hear. Right on... I'm known for making up lyrics as I go if I can't understand someone's diction (or lack thereof).

    Hurry, get the scurvy with the fringe on top...

    Led Zeppelin, Ramble On

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Keep On Bloggin' In The Free World

    Today is the first anniversary of this blog. Considering that I was dragged kicking and screaming into this gig (thanks Laura, Tonto and Bill), I'm amazed at what a haven it's become for me. This place is as cozy and familiar to me as my mountain home. It has given me the space I needed (and still need) to solidify thoughts and sort them out; to cry, laugh, rant and sigh; to cajole, admonish and praise; it’s allowed me to polish my own mirror and hand off the bottle of windex to anyone else willing to polish theirs; and it’s helped me find a way to reconnect to a world that I had alienated and from which I felt alienated. In essence, it has been the vehicle for this gypsy to find her way out of the tangle of briar and back onto the path.

    It's been quite a year, huh? Thank you, all my readers, for being here with me; for being my sounding board, and at times my whipping post (though I never intend harm); for sticking it out while I figure out who the hell I am (as if); for giving me feedback, flack, and encouragement; for being forgiving of my spelling and grammar errors (it’s only to prove I’m human, y’know); for your love and support.

    Rest assured, I will continue. I write, therefore I am. Now, light the bonfire already, pass the tequila shots and nachos and let’s get this party rollin’!

    Eric Clapton, Signe

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers

    Happy Veterans Day, and thank you to all who have served this country.

    The rain continues. We actually had a short respite late yesterday. The thin veil of mist floating over the nearly full moon was beautiful. As I stood out on the back deck watching the river in the shadowy light that the moon cast, faithful Nino by my side, I realized something. I now have a howling partner for when the moon is full. Not only that, but I'm far enough out there that nobody is going to hear much less care when I do the wild thing.

    The constant river. It changes, but it's always there. There are a few people who run through my life much like a river runs. Events may happen that occasionally change the course, but not by much. They find a way to flow around the rocks, past fallen trees, always steady, unstoppable. These are my "veterans" and I celebrate them. They are the people in my life who have been to hell and back and still stand, still breathe in and out, still find a way to make a positive impact on other lives. People who don't back down from anything or anyone. This is my camp. This is my troop. I've realized over the past couple of years that I've honed my already small circle into an even smaller one. But it's filled with solid characters that I know I can rely upon. I feel utterly fortunate that they are at my side, and humbled that they count me among them.

    I don't talk about her much, but you've seen her here now and then... heard her voice on occasion. I'm talking about my dear friend Vicki (aka Island Girl, aka Iggy). She will probably want to clobber me for posting this because she doesn't like accolades, but I can't finish out the first year of my blog without giving her long overdue recognition. She's a veteran, no doubt, having been through several personal battles and losses of her own. That she still pushes through every day is an inspiration to me. That she found a way to set aside her own pain and be there for me (and for John), especially over the past couple of years is nothing short of incredible. Iggy has been there, without fail, without question, without expectation or demand and way far above and beyond the call of duty. She has, simply, been there. Igs, your love and support have meant the world to me and I probably don't tell you that enough. You are a woman of honor and an exemplary human being. I'm more than proud to name you among my "happy few." Thank you for everything you are and everything you've done. Now, go spin the kaleidoscope and watch the pretty colors through your tears (hey, if I'm crying, I know you are too!). I love you dearly.

    So my friends, that is my Veteran's Day spiel. Who has served by your side in the wars you've been through? Count them. Hold them close. Honor them.

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Dancin' on the River's Edge

    That's a shot of my cabin taken from the river's edge. (See? No flood.) The river is definitely swollen with rain. And, have mercy, all this wild weather has had me in such a state of mental birr and creative flux. I love it, but for the fact that I can't seem to find the off switch for my head. I came home Friday, hugged the pup, patted the cat and went and stood in the rain for a few minutes just listening to the river noise (it was already dark). The sheer volume of the river in the deep black of the forest was sort of ominous in a rather thrilling way. Wildness. It yanked at whatever feral beast dwells within me.

    Anyway, Scott was (and still is) off on another sojourn east of the mountains. So, when I came in from the soul-washing sound of the river, I sat in the dark feeling a bit pensive and restless. I thought about the men I've loved (whether requited or not) - men I still love; it never goes away - and pondered the notion some people seem to have of "getting over" another human being. For me there is no such thing. Sure, emotional fervor changes, but the footprint of something longed for never does go away. I recalled John once saying, "I don't want you just sitting around an thinking about me all the time." (The words were spoken with great love and caring and not at all as ostentatious as they seem in print.) And I thought, "Well then tell me, Darlin'... 'cause I'm missing the concept somehow. How am I supposed to not think about you?" How am I supposed to not think about any of them? How am I supposed to not miss them? How am I supposed to not feel the effect of something or someone that's made any kind of impact on my life? All that thinking boiled together and came rushing out in a song that took me about 15 minutes to write: (You Are) Like the Weather.

    The rest of the weekend was spent hauling wood, cleaning, making some cards, playing with Nino down by the river... I want all my time to feel like this weekend. I'm tired of working for the man... er... dingos. Somebody out there market me - I sure don't know how, but there's got to be some way to harvest what talent I've got and pay the rent at the same time.

    Friday, November 7, 2008

    Swirlin' the Drain

    Been a long and tiring week and I'm SFGIF (So F'n Glad It's Friday)! We are having rain and nothing but rain here in the glorious Northwet. Predictions are that it's going to continue for another 10 days. It's suggested that it could rain up to seven inches over the next couple of days in the Snoqualmie convergence zone (that'd be the area I'm now living in). Yeehaw - slap the ark together Pa, and let's take the dog and cat sailin'! Aside from the perils of driving in heavy rain (only because people will insist on being idiots), I don't mind it. I've slept so well the past couple of nights. There's nothing like hearing the rain beat down on a tin roof just two feet over head, and the river has become so huge and fast that it sounds like thunder rushing by (down the slope where it won't flood me out - quit worrying, will ya?!). So, I'm looking forward to another weekend of holing up in my studio and crafting until I can't stand it any more.

    In the tradition that Laura started, I'm throwing down a new Friday list here. I've always had fun sort of collecting oddball thing that people say (or just things that strike me in an oddball way), but I never thought to use them in such a fashion. So, thanks H.B. for being my inspiration. Again, this is all true speech... I heard it myself - and maybe even said it myself - but names are withheld to protect the nefarious.

    “If you had been listening you would have realized that I didn’t say anything at all.”

    “Last time I checked I was still living in America, a far crappier version, but still America, right?”

    “People are so finicky about the death penalty.”

    “How are you?”
    “I'm pretty much swirlin' the drain.”

    “Keep in mind ease of navigation. My moral compass works just fine but the other one tends to spin wildly even in fits of sobriety.”

    “His thinking is so constipated it’s like he had Pepto injected into his brain.”

    “OMG! Who would name their dog Testes?!”
    “A guy named Richard Cranium.”

    "I would love to strafe the hell out outta somethin'... just once!"

    "I had half a mind to tell him..."
    "Yeah, well he's such a dipshit that it would probably only take 3/16ths."

    "Are you frustrated?"
    "No, just perplexed."
    "What's the difference?"
    "Shooting something vs. having a shot of something."

    Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Shut Your Eyes

    Altogether now... S.H.I.T. (So Happy It's Thursday)!!!

    Well, dagnabit... it's begun already. I ignored it for a couple of days (denial is bliss) because I was so wrapped up in election coverage. Fact is though, we are already being bombarded by holiday ads. This morning I was driving to work, had just finished grooving to Snow Patrol's Shut Your Eyes - which was so apropos considering how hard it was trying to snow out there in my forest habitat. Anyway, I happen to love the song and it fit well with my mood, only to have it all shattered by the ad announcer who came on to say, "Now that the holidays are upon us... This season when you do your shopping... blahblahblah...." My hackles raised immediately and I yelled at the radio in my very best You've-Been-A-Bad-Pit-Bull voice, "No, NO, NO!!!" That ad was followed by another for some kind of eyecare gig (ok, nevermind that selling eye stuff on the radio seems odd to me), and then yet another holiday advertisment (complete with full orchestration of Sleighride - *yurk*) for the Seattle Symphony's Christmas concert. Agggghhhh!!!! Most stores are already fully decked in holiday gear and are already pumping dreadful musak versions of Christmas songs over the intercom. It makes me crabby. I'm not a Scrooge, really I'm not - but this is just too much. Too much, too soon.

    Yesterday I had to stop at RiteAid and I knew it was gonna get ugly. So, I waited a moment after parking, took several deep breaths, and reminded myself that the poor Philistines are just tryin' to make an extra buck during hard times and why should it affect me and who am I to nay say. It barely helped. The minute I stepped through the tinsel-garland infested door I heard a low growl and realized it was coming from me. Simmah down there, gal... simmah down.

    It's not that I hate Christmas (cue John Merrick yelling, "I am not an animal!"). I don't hate it at all. I do, however, abhor the commercialism. Loathe it. I get that soul crushed Charlie Brown feeling from it all that makes me just want to hide out in the woods (hey... wait a sec...). And, say hey... when did "they" (y'know... "them") decide that Thanksgiving and Christmas were all one holiday?! I know a month isn't a very long time, but they are, in fact, separated by such!

    I really intensely dislike having stuff crammed down my throat. The more something is forced upon me, the more resistant and recalcitrant I become. I know I'm not the only one. If retailers only understood the negative impact their zealousness engenders. Evidently they've never heard the term "familiarity breeds contempt."

    *longsuffering sigh*

    *deep breath*

    "... shut your eyes and think of somewhere...
    ... somewhere cold and caked in snow..."
    ~Snow Patrol, Shut Your Eyes

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    Dear Mr. President

    Well, well, well. As so many news pundits are wont to say this morning, this is an historical moment for the USA. The people have spoken and Barack Obama will be the 44th president of these United States. Here is my letter to him.

    Dear President Elect Obama,

    Please, oh please, having asked for and received it, prove yourself worthy of this country's faith in you. Consider always the legacy that you are leaving your children – understand that there are now far more than two for whom you are responsible. Be ever mindful that there are no great men, only ordinary men doing great things. Govern with your head, but guide with your heart - show balance in each decision. Measure your words and weigh your actions as both cause ripples that go far beyond your end of the pond. Constantly seek enlightenment and empathy - they are lanterns that will guide you down even the darkest path. Nosce te ipsum. Know yourself. Be true to yourself. Take good care of yourself. You cannot lead others without first possessing self-control and personal accountability. Selflessness lies unborn lest we first acknowledge self - a quality is not always an asset. Be like the willow; bend with the wind, but do not be bowed – in the words of Lao Tsu, “perseverance furthers.” In all things, strive to be a man of honor – nobility cannot be acquired, but comes from the inner strength that is born of diligence and humility. Accept, adapt, move on – a brick wall is an opportunity to dig under, go over, or around – be unflagging in your efforts. Although these sound like pedestrian words consider the deeper meaning: Stand tall. Speak clearly.

    Finally, thank you for taking such a tremendously large step. I can’t imagine what that effort has already required of you on a personal level, much less what it will continue to require of you. I am eager to see what the next four years will bring for all of us – to say that change is necessary is a ridiculous understatement. In my own life, exacting change has both cost me and rewarded me and I don’t imagine that precept to be any different on a global level. Whether I agree with you or not, I support you.

    Looking forward,

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Never Say Die

    V O T E ! ! !
    Just FYI - today, in honor of the US Voting Public, I am wearing John's "Old Rasputin: Russian Imperial Stout - Never Say Die" t-shirt. It just seems fitting, y'know?
    * * * * * * *

    Humility. Aye yi yi. I get skittish just breathing the word. Preaching humility is akin to praying for patience. It's never long before you're looking down the business end of a figurative double-barrel rifle and wondering how you can possibly talk your way out of the mess into which you've stumbled.


    Yesterday I got an email from a long lost... uh... something, stating that it had been a year to date since we'd last seen each other and hoping that I'd found "the peace and healing" I needed. I wrote back saying, "And then some." I shared a
    poem I'd written a few months ago for Scott and some recent pics. He wrote back asking if the poem was for him. (*polite cough*). Nevermind that the bit about "eyes the color of the Aegean Sea" was lost on him. But really, to even try to make claim to something so obviously monumental in my life? Hoo-doggie. I responded saying, "No sorry. It's for Scott, tell you all about it if you'd like." The response I got was the one I expected - about as cliché as can be considering that I'm the horrible bitch who trashed his heart and sent him into a "tailspin," and including the classic, "I'm way over you."

    'Scusi? What's to be over? I am not all that! Never was, never claimed to be, wouldn't want to be. But then, this is a person who has, sadly, allowed ego to replace whatever semblance there may have been of any heart. Quel dommage. It's sad really. He's one of those people who will never see fit to polish his own mirror (gotta be some unpleasant reflections there) because he's too busy peering into everyone else's. Altogether now, what's the opposite of humility kids? Mmhmmm. Arrogance. This guy is the poster child for that loathsome word. I'm not saying I'm without fault here, but my greatest fault was ever believing anything better in him. Foolish me. (JP was missing 1/3 of the equation - it's Live & Love & Learn). Don't get me wrong - I'm all for self-confidence in a man. In fact, it's quite a turn on for me. However, there's a vast difference between self-confidence and the sort of audacious pride that begets arrogance. That I despise in a man. It's ugly, really ugly.

    He ended the short email saying that he hoped Scott got better treatment than he did "for Scott's sake." Lordy. In my opinion the epitome of arrogance is likening oneself to another person and/or one's situation to another person's. (How dare any of us be so presumptuous?!) That aside though, saying that Scott outshines this other person by miles is... well... like saying Godiva chocolate tastes better than peat moss. Plus, regardless of my feelings for him, Scott is one of the finer humans gracing this rock - he's a man of honor, he's caring, compassionate, intelligent and wise, and... *drum roll*... he's humble. It's what I admire and respect most in him. As if he'd be in my direct line of vision were I to feel any other way. In fact, humility tends to be the benchmark amongst all those in my circle.

    So, friends n' neighbors, in this time of stone-throwing and mud-slinging chaos... take some time out today. Grab the vinegar and old newspaper, look hard at the mirror in different light, and start swiping some of those smudges away. How are we to see clearly if our reflection is clouded?

    Oh, simple thing, where have you gone?
    I'm getting old and I need something to rely on.~Keane, Somewhere Only We Know

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    If Wishes Were Horses

    This I know about myself. When I love it is deep and it is forever. My heart has been broken (Broken?! Hell, try shattered.) enough that, much like a horse, it doesn't become spiteful or hateful, but rather acquiesces and acknowledges that the rider has ownership. It's just who I am. At times it's a frustrating feeling, I would really like to be able to despise some people or even just forget about them, but mostly I just bend with it. Still, I've said it before and I'll say it again - it's an odd thing to feel love for a man while continuing to feel love for another (or others as the case may be).

    And it doesn't even matter if that love involves a commitment or not, whether there's sufficient R.O.I. (Return On Investment) or not. It just is and there's no denying it its existence. It's an insistent perplexity, a beguiling conundrum, an entrancing enigma. I'm not questioning what I feel - I'm just looking at it. Why? It's what I do - it's the ever curious cat that prowls the trappings of my very own modus operandi. Besides, it's a rainy November day... what better to do than to go pensive on heartache and heartwake (I invented that word - yep, you saw it here first). I'm just pondering is all... don't get all weird on me.

    While John and I talked about me finding someone else eventually, moving on, all that horrible clichéd crap that (it seems) one must discuss when one's mate is dying, I only said that I would try in an attempt to appease him and quell his fear for me. I never really expected or even really anticipated that I'd find what (who) I have, nor that I'd feel to the depth of what I do. It's rather redoubtable that I do, only because I've been able to stand back far enough to watch the fortress walls crumble (I never have been able to build them sturdy enough), and in watching them crumble knowing that I was leaving myself open once again. Did I even care? Not much - c'est la vie, non? I was more pleasantly (in a scratching a deep itch sort of way) surprised than anything.

    What's my point? I don't have a point. Except maybe this: Love ought to be as natural to us as walking is. Do we stop walking because we stumble? Nope.