Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sky High

I caught a blurb on the news yesterday about a 92 year old woman who went skydiving to celebrate her birthday. She shrugged it off as just being something she'd always wanted to do. I relayed the story to Steve who said, "Everyone should do something they've always wanted to do on their birthday." I love that statement. I love it so much that I'm adding it to my Gypsy Paradigm.

In fact, last year I did do something on my birthday that I'd always wanted to do (
Stones From the River). So, with my birthday coming up in about a month and a half, I'm contemplating what thing I've never done that I want to do. Sure, skydiving is on my bucket list, but it's not financially feasible at this point. Besides, when I finally do get to go skydiving, it will be with Timothy. My leaning, should the day arrive and be calm and cloudless, is to go somewhere with Steve where there's no ambient light and watch the night sky. I've been so drawn to the stars since I met him, and I've always wanted to go out to the middle of nowhere and stargaze. Knowing him has made me want that more than ever (we're both big on watching the sky).

I want to do something on my birthday (or at least in honor of it) that challenges myself too. (Last year's above-mentioned "celebration" worked along both lines.) But what? Art is where my mind is and where I most desire to challenge myself. Hoo boy. Glad I've got 48 days to plan. Well, "plan" is a ridiculous way to think it. More like... glad I've got 48 days to seek enlightenment, to wait for The Universe to reveal this year's birthday present.

Today is my big sister's birthday. It's a special day. I only have one sister. While we haven't always seen eye to eye, there is huge love there. She's a beautiful soul with a great big giving heart. I love you Nanc... Happy YOU Day! It's your day to say "fuck it" to the grind and do something you've always wanted to do.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
~John Muir

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Rest Between the Motes

I'm doing my restless thing again (and not a full moon in sight!). My brain is overly full, my spirit twitchy, my skin itchy and I seem to have all but given up on sleep. I was awake at 2:30 this morning, then again at 3:04, again at 3:57, again at 4:29 when I finally gave up and got up. I tip-toed downstairs and made some bean and wandered out onto the deck to enjoy the fridgity cold, crystal clear "night" sky. It was beautiful and well worth the lack of sleep. I even saw some shooting stars. Of course, I spent much of the time contemplating. Is there anything else like the dark of night to encourage contemplation? Not for me.

As is fairly typical, I thought about the path... about the way things wind together; about how often we fight the journey even when we know it's a journey for the journey's sake (anyone out there waiting to "arrive" is in for a lifetime of disappointment, and probably an afterlife of disappointment). Of course, being the young starry-eyed, head-over-heels-in-love thang that I am, I spent some of that time thinking about how beautiful it is to have a hand to hold and a soul to share the path with. I've always had a great appreciation for the path, for the journey, for all the brambles and sunshine and rocks and water and meadows and forest and mountains and dirt and flowers... all of it. There is so much, if we're paying attention, to take notice of and in which to find the beautiful.

Did I feel a bit disgruntled about my current insomnolent tendency? Sure. I distinctly recall, as I tossed one last time and flipped the covers back with a heavy sigh, uttering, "E-fucking-NUFF!" Yet, mere moments later I was completely thankful to be seeing such a (pardon the pun) stellar display. Oy, the lessons The Universe teaches... it was as if the night sky was saying, "So there! Grump about it, will ya?! Hmmm...."

I'll find a solution to my sleep contrariety. In the meantime... it seems I'm to wander the path during the very early morning (or late evening if you're just leaving the pub) hours. My artistic side has an appreciation for the shadow play and deep color... it's pretty to see the path twinkled o'er by starlight.

~When the Stars Go Blue, Ryan Adams

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's Just Another Day

Today, John would have been 49 years old. Needless to say, he's been on my mind all day. That would probably drive him nuts too. Whenever his birthday rolled around, I'd give him a big hug and smooch and wish him a happy day. He'd always shrug and say, "It's just another day."

In some ways, I can agree with that. I know whenever the calendar clicks over to my birthday I enjoy the special greetings, presents, cake (oh yeah... the caaaaake!). But in many ways, it is just another day. In years past, most of my birthdays were spent going to work, maybe doing mundane errands or chores. No big deal, no special thing... just another day.

But I started thinking about John's birthday today, and especially about his claim that it's just another day. I just flat out don't agree with the man. One of my favorite sayings since John's death is: Weep not that he is no more; rather live in joy that he ever was. In the face of that, John's birthday is indeed a very special day, a day for celebration. Only once in the history of our entire universe did the date September 24, 1960 occur. Just one time, never to occur again. On that day, John Philip Johnson was born.

Still, today was just another day. However, it was a day that made me smile in a wistful, whimsical way. Having not been out of the house much for the past couple of weeks, I joined Steve on his errand running gig today. We stopped to get some electronics stuff (don't ask me what), some envelopes for my card sales, stopped at the day old bakery place and munched on a bagel as we drove along, and finally came across a vegetable farm that's still selling fresh corn and other good stuff. As we chatted with the farmer, pet his friendly cat, and picked out vegies it dawned on me. This is exactly the kind of day I used to spend, and loved spending, with John. Just driving around doing... stuff. No special day, just another day.

Yet, it's this kind of day that is special to me. This is the kind of thing I look back on and remember when I think of the time I spent with John. So, as Steve and I drove back home along the river, windows open and wind in our hair, watching the fish jump and the big, fluffy clouds hover o'er head like sheep in the sun, I reached over and squeezed his leg. As he glanced at me, I just smiled and said, "I love you." Then, turning my head to look out the window at the mostly blue sky, I murmured, "Happy Birthday... it is special."

~Keep Me In Your Heart, Warren Zevon

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mondays with Murphy

This morning, like any morning lately, I stepped out onto the back deck (wearing only bathrobe and slippers) to watch the sunrise across the valley. It was a nipply morning, having dipped all the way down into the upper 40's last night. Still, it was beautiful and quiet, and I felt a deep sense of well-being as I watched the light come up behind the foothills and paint the sky in myriad colors while the fog crept across the bucolic valley on its proverbial cat's feet. Steve was bustling around inside as he got ready to head off to work. Around 6:30 a.m., with a few minutes to spare, he joined me on the deck, then gave me a goodbye kiss, headed back in, and shut the sliding glass door. Moments later, he emerged from the garage below, and with a wink toward me, got in his truck. "Love you, Baby... be safe..." I said from on high. I watched as the truck turned the corner and sped off. By that point the slightly damp chill in the air had wound itself around my ankles and as well, had made its way through my fleecy bathrobe. With a slight shiver I decided to go in and get another cup of coffee...

(*cue screeching dischordant halt*)

...only to discover that Steve had inadvertently locked the door when he went in. So, there I was on the back deck, 15 feet off the ground, a bit cold in only my bathrobe and slippers, not a cup of coffee in sight, and wondering how long I could hold out without a bathroom. I was actually even amused that it had happened at all, rather than feeling disgruntled. What would have been the point? It was what it was. Shit happens. Murphy strikes again.

I was out there for almost an hour and a half when The Fishin' Slut pulled up next door. As he got out of his truck, he looked up and said, "Mornin' Mrs. Bubba!" "Mornin' Slut!" I sounded back, and then, "Hey Danny... you got a spare key to this place? Steve locked me out on the deck!" Danny stood, mouth agape, and asked, "The fuck he do that for?!" I assured him it was merely force of habit and not at all intentional. Then I asked him to give Steve a call on his cell phone, which he promptly did. Of course, as a wise man once explained, Murphy never sleeps - he got Steve's voice mail.

The message went: "Hey Steve. I usually call you Bubba, but you only get to be Steve now. You went to work and left that poor girl on the deck and she's locked out in the cold with just her jammies on. Call me back!" He then assured me that he'd keep calling every few minutes until he got through. By the time he came upstairs and out on his deck, Steve had called back. Danny had him on speaker phone as he came through his door. I heard him say, "No, she's stuck out there, she can't get in..." Pregnant pause followed by Steve's inevitable, "Fuuuuck." I couldn't help but giggle. He apologized and explained that he had to deal with things at the jobsite and then would be home to let me back in.

When he showed up about 45 minutes later, he hopped out of the truck, ignominiously shook his head, then looked up at me, and said cheerfully, "Hi Hunny... enjoying the view?" I smiled at him and shot back, "Oh yeah, lovely morning!" I heard him open the garage door, clomp up the stairs, and then he was on the other side of the slider and opening the door to let me in. "I'm soooo sorry!" I silenced him with a kiss and told him, "It's ok... I only have one thing to say..." He lifted an eyebrow in question. To which I replied, "I have to pee!" as I barreled past him.

When I came back out I poured a fresh, hot cup o' bean - I was still a little shivery from my previous encampment. Steve needed coffee too, since in another covert op pulled by Murphy, he had managed to leave his travel mug o' bean on the table instead of taking it with him, and then left the cup of coffee that was given to him at the jobsite on his tailgate as he pulled away (Murphy was his close personal friend this morning!). He snagged a couple of cigarettes from his pack and asked, "Care to join me on the deck, or have you had enough for one morning?" I said, "Of course I'll join you! Just don't lock the door, Brat." And he wrapped his arms around me.

Like I said, I was actually pretty amused by the whole event. It could have been worse. It could have been pouring rain, Steve could have forgotten his cell phone rather than his coffee mug, Danny could have been gone for hours, I could have been wearing my light cotton bathrobe instead of my fleecy one, or gone without slippers like I usually do. Eh. It's all good.

Shit happens. Rama llama ding dong. Party on, Murphy. Party on.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

See the Love There That's Sleeping

I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
~While My Guitar Gently Weeps, George Harrison

Yesterday after we spent a somewhat frustrating morning getting my surround sound system hooked up, I pulled out an old DVD to check sound levels and quality. The DVD I grabbed is one I've been wanting to re-watch for quite a while now, and just haven't had the chance to. It was The Concert for George that was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 29 November 2002 as a memorial to George Harrison on the first anniversary of his death. I remember the first time I watched it, I was flattened by the experience. It happened all over again.
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps
I don't know why nobody told you
how to unfold your love
I don't know how someone controlled you
they bought and sold you

~While My Guitar Gently Weeps, George Harrison

The concert included such notables as Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Dhani Harrison (George's son and spittin' image), Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Joe Brown, Jools Holland, and Billy Preston, along with several others. I was struck by the wealth of talent all gathered together on one stage, by their willingness to share their talent with each other (and all of us), and by their humility in playing their friend's music as a way of honoring him. And what greater honor could there be to George than to spend an evening rockin' out with his tunes?
I look at the world and I notice it's turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps

~While My Guitar Gently Weeps, George Harrison

However, what really deeply struck me was watching their faces and noting that these were people who passionately love what they do... so ardently that it's obvious they couldn't imagine doing anything else with their lives. They weren't just sharing their talent, they were sharing their passion. I love seeing that in a person, no matter what that passion is. I don't care what the person's propensity is aimed toward. If a person's groove is mopping floors and that's what they're getting to do, the love for it will show and it'll flow out to affect (infect) others.
I don't know how you were diverted
you were perverted too
I don't know how you were inverted
no one alerted you

~While My Guitar Gently Weeps, George Harrison

I've made practically no money at all, but in past months I've been striving to do what I love doing - to be an artist. I've never been more broke, but I've never been more satisfied. Yeah, it's easy to say that (in some respect) since I can't find a job, but it's also the truth. Further, I've noticed that people around me look at me as if I'm beautiful, as if there's some sort of light glowing in the attic window on a dark night... almost (annoyingly so) as if I've got some special secret that they don't. I don't have a secret. We all have at least one thing that we love to do, one thing that fuels our internal fire like nothing else does. I'm no different than anyone else... neither are the likes of Clapton, or Rembrandt, or Cousteau, or... you get the idea.
I look at you all see the love there that's sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at you all
Still my guitar gently weeps

~While My Guitar Gently Weeps, George Harrison

Please, please, please... find that one thing. Do it. Don't worry about recognition or perfection or criticism or whatever it is in your pile of fear that holds you back. Do it with all the love that it stirs in you and with all the love you stir while doing it. I'm sure at some point, maybe before he met John, Paul and Ringo, George sat in some coldwater flat, strumming his guitar, thinking, "The world is going by and I'm just sitting here in a hovel, playing a fucking guitar..." But he loved it, so he did it.

Do it. Enact a new paradigm. The world won't change until you change your world.

~While My Guitar Gently Weeps, George Harrison

Friday, September 18, 2009

Credo In Stesso

I had this vision in my head that I couldn't shake. The most striking thing about it was the absolutely stunning cobalt blue color that ran through it. It was too big for me to hold in my mind, too vivid. too... occupying. I tried to describe it to Steve and just failed miserably...well... how can you describe color? How do you place the intangible in someone's hands? So, I hauled out my ancient acrylics, equally ancient paintbrushes, and a blank 18X36" canvas that I've been hauling all over the place for almost 10 years now. I gave it my best shot, channeled all the Harold Black I could summon, fueled it with some Dave Matthews (Crash Into Me fit the feeling I had in the vision), and spent the day dabbling in a world where I'm mostly inept (or at least feel that way).

It felt good. My rejection from the Louvre Museum aside, it just felt good. I got the soul gunk out. I can return to my normal level of insanity now. Or maybe I've found a new level of insanity. Just what I need... to kick my creatively spasmodic sensibilities up a notch! Egads.

My point here is this: If you get an idea in your head; if there's a notion that you just can't shake loose, roll with it. Follow it. See where it takes you. What's it going to hurt? I could have painted the thing and never showed it to a soul and it would have felt as good. I've just gotten bold and brazen that way in my younger than that now age. So, friends and neighbors... push your creative soul a little bit this weekend. Write something even if it feels like total crap; even if it's just a list of words that you like. Draw something even if your horses look like mutant junkie tsetse flies, even if it's just doodles. Paint, sew, cook, stamp, mosaic, take photos... whatever creative thing grabs you and takes you down the rabbit hole for a while. You'll feel so much better. Lighter somehow. I promise.

When I came downstairs yesterday, covered with as much paint as I slopped on the canvas, Steve asked, "What's The Girl up to?" I said, "Nothing now. I'm done pretending I can paint." He looked at the colors (predominantly cobalt) splotched all over my hands, arms, jeans and shirt, and gave me The Grin. See... he knows the origin of that strange cobalt blue world... after all, I found it when he crashed into me. Now he can see it too...
~Crash Into Me, Dave Matthews

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shut Up and Dance

Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.
~My Back Pages, Bob Dylan

We're just a couple of kids. Or at least it feels like we are. We might as well be 17 and sneaking into the basement for a quick grope session... except we don't have to sneak, and it doesn't have to be quick. But, we get silly together, and love-y, and... crap... I swear I've got stars in my eyes. We play grab-ass every chance we get, smooch on the way up the stairs, catch each other looking and smile knowingly.

He's addicted to making me blush (easily done), and I'm addicted to that grin on his face that says, "She's mine and she's happy... I did that."

I've never been in love like this before. It's never been this easy or this good. And yeah, I'm aware that those are huge words coming from me. Trust me, I'm more surprised by it all than anyone else. Never expected this. I thought I'd had the great(est) love of my life, had my shot at it. Now this?! I'm blown away... completely in awe of the deep well of feeling that was still untapped. How can there be this much in one lifetime? And... why me? Why allow me? What am I supposed to do with it all? Learn from it all? Teach from it all?

I know. I know. Quit over thinking. Shut up and dance. I will... I am... it's just... it's just.... *sigh*...

It's no secret, I don't care
Gonna shout it out everywhere
I love my baby, hot, cold, fast, or slow
I love my baby, gonna tell everybody I know
~Tell Everybody I know, Keb' Mo'

Sunday, September 13, 2009


It's been a mostly quiet week here in the valley. I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing the hot air balloons float by or the sight of skydivers unfurling their parachutes and floating downward, or all the Canada geese honking by.

I spent the better part of today tearing apart my closet and reorganizing things. I had pretty much just thrown stuff in there when I moved in. I also hung a few pictures. It still feels weird to do that... still feels like I'm intruding on someone else's territory. I'll get over it. Steve likes to give me shit that I'm putting holes in his walls. I retort that he's spent more than enough years living in black and white and it took an ol' gypsy gal to bring him into tru-life technicolor. Still, anyone who took one glance into my rather bohemian looking art studio would know in an instant that any objet d'art in the place is strictly my doing.

It reminds me of something John said when I met him, speaking metaphorically, "You came along and straightened all the pictures on all the walls." I always thought it was one of the most endearing things he ever said to me.

Neighbor Danny always calls Steve "Bubba"... as in, "Hey Bubba! What's on the menu today?" He's taken to calling me Mrs. Bubba. I love it.

Color and shape. Smudge here, smear there, little dab to enhance the ambient light. How to make a house a home.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Settling In

~All I Want Is You, Barry Louis Polisar

Egads! Has a week gone by already? Every day I've been wanting to post, but it's a classic case of much to do and little time to do it all. But, it's been a great week.

I got to meet Steve's daughter the other day (she's all growed up). We immediately hit it off... of course, it helped that she drooled all over my art supplies. She's definitely a kindred spirit though. I'm pretty certain I passed inspection. We spent the afternoon talking, laughing, messing with my piano, and I taught her and a little neighbor girl (aka "my new BFF") how to play cribbage. Steve was busy working on a boat motor the whole time. After they both left, I asked Steve, "Well? Did I get the seal of approval?" He grinned and said, "Been a long time since she hung around that long...."

My new BFF, Alexis, is a wonderful little girl. Considering that she's had a somewhat hard life for her young years (she's starting fifth grade today), she has such a sweet spirit. Steve warned me that she could be a pest. I assured him that I don't mind. I like having kids around; like the great perspective that comes with looking through their eyes. Alexis can't wait to get her hands on some of my art supplies. I've promised her that I would teach her how to make cards. I gave her a barrette that I had made and a couple of cookies that Steve made (gawd, the man bakes!), and she immediately hugged me and said, "You guys are so nice!" The kids just melts my heart.

Then there's our neighbor Danny... older guy, loves to fish, loves to pretend he's just a crusty, dirty old man, but there's an enormous heart of gold there. Besides, the way he phrases things and slings words around keeps me in stitches. Look for a future post of Danny-isms - I'm collecting them (but one of my favorites is, "Guy's got a face like a bastard cat!"). The other day I made two fresh blackberry pies (from fresh picked wild berries) and gave him one. He keeps us supplied with smoked fish - and the stuff is delectable! What a deal! He catches them, immediately cleans them, even removes the pin bones and puts them in the smoker all in the same day.

Yesterday Steve and I went blackberry picking down by the river (because one can't have too many fresh blackberries, y'know?). Despite the scratches on our arms and the prickers stuck in our hands it was a wonderful time, punctuated by the sight of ospreys grabbing fish from the river and flying off with their wriggling lunches in their talons, and the occasional whoop of the men fly fishing off the river bank. The sun was shining, everything smelled fresh from the rain the night before.

Life is good.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I'm home. After all, it's where the heart is n'est pas? Oui.

Yesterday Steve and I drove up to the cabin to finish up the last bit of cleaning and meet with the landlady. We finished cleaning faster than we'd expected (much of it had already been done), so we wandered down to the river for a bit. Then, since we still had almost two hours to kill before my landlady was scheduled to show, we went into town for some lunch. I caught myself wistfully looking out the window several times.

The cabin in the woods was such a good place to be, such a place of healing for me. I thought about that whole beautiful Winter last year... the solitude, the mountains of snow, the scent of the wood stove, playing and cuddling with Nino. It was just what I needed.

And it's funny... the whole time Steve was on the other side of the mountain, staring at it and wondering where the hell I was. Stays he's been staring at the mountain for years wondering that. He found me just in time, and all I had to do was figure out that I was ready.
Anyway, we finished everything at the cabin yesterday and, with a hug, I handed my keys over to my landlady. Then we drove away from the little place in the woods and back down to the valley. As soon as we got here we stepped out on to the back porch and looked toward the mountain. It was gone... vanished in the heavy clouds... as if it had only existed in my dreams. Brigadoon. (*wink*... It'll come 'round again.)

I'm okay with all of it. My heart is wrapped up in clover....

~At Last, Etta James