Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Horse Is A Horse, Of Course, Of Course...

"If a guy makes me laugh, I'm his slave for life."
~Bette Midler

There are several thousand reasons why I am unequivocally truly, madly, deeply in love with my guy, Steve. His irreverantly smart-ass brand of humor is just one of the reasons, but it's damn near the top of the list. There is nothing that will keep my head and heart in a whirl like a man who can make me laugh until I'm gasping for air.

Lately my mate has been perusing in search of boats and boat related stuff to purchase and resell at a profit (he's good at it... knows his stuff and his market very well). So, this morning he was going through ads and came across one that had obviously been placed in the wrong category. In the "Boats for Sale" section, a woman had placed an ad looking for property to graze her horses. Steve being... well... Steve, he just couldn't resist responding. As he read me his response, I had tears rolling down my cheeks I was laughing so hard (it's that visual thang I've got goin' on). What follows is his response to the ad:


I don’t know if you realize it or not, but, you listed your ad in the “Boats for Sale ” section of Craig’s List.

I trust your Horses are equipped with a Wet Suit and Scuba Gear, or they enjoy Water Skiing and Fishing.

And then there is Kayaking, Wind Surfing, Canoeing, and White Water Rafting.

Of course Sailing to the San Juan Islands is always an option also.

It is rare to see our four legged equestrian friends enjoying the activities listed above.

But, My horse definitey enjoyed playing in the water.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Bingo Queen

I took a break from making Valentine cards and decided to counteract the smarm with some humor. It's funny that as sentimental and emotional as I can be, I don't like to create mushy stuff. Maybe it's because I never feel like I adequately express love. More often than not, I express love for someone by trying to make them laugh. Regardless, it's been fun to take a fresh(er) approach to some of my stamps by coming up with captions for them. Ultimately, it's always fun for me to do ars gratia artis, but the orders have been trickling in. Slowly, but they're there. I'm also gearing up for some Springtime arts & crafts shows. Hopefully this is the year that Black Ink Pad Designs does more than put bean in my mug.

Trying to make any kind of a living out of any kind of art work is always a gamble. I've seen more talent stuck by the wayside (and conversely some art work in the public eye that makes me think, "What the...?!)... it's just sad. It's definitely a "right place right time" gig. Will I end up in the right place at the right time? I've had moments like that throughout my life, but who knows? Right now, circumstance has given the opportunity and latitude to explore. I couldn't be more grateful.

With that... I'm off to my studio! Be nice to each other out there... reach outside yourselves.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


The other evening I fell into a three (yes, 3) hour phone conversation with a long lost friend. We haven't seen each other in probably 40 years, and even then, I don't recall ever having exchanged words with her. But, she remembers me and remembers skating in our backyard with a mutual acquaintance. We recently connected on Facebook and pretty much started a mutual admiration society. She's one of those people to stumble across my path that makes me think, "Where was she when I needed an imaginary friend?!" We share somewhat similar stories and her wicked sense of humor is, simply, killer. Aside from the fact that our conversation centered around the past 40 years of my life, we talked as though we've been talking for the last 40 years. It was refreshing, filled with laughter and an altogether lovely evening (thank all the gods for unlimited minutes!).

As we chatted and she pulled information out of me, it occurred to me again... I've had a wonderful and wonderfully rich life. I wouldn't trade a minute of it. Sure, I would have gladly handed over my life in exchange for allowing some of those whom I've lost to continue living, but it seems I'm to stick around for the time being. It doesn't matter that I don't know the reason. What matters is that I strive to do something (of quality) with that time. I've never felt special for experiencing the things I've experienced, but my friend's reactions made me realize that I'm really glad I had all of them, and that I was open to doing many of the things I've done. I don't see my life has been adventurous, but evidently, in many ways, it has been. 

The second thing that struck me all over again is that we just never know who is going to stumble across our path(s) or when. Some will grace our lives, some will leave nothing but muddy boot tracks. Some both. Either way, it's in our best interest to treat others kindly and with respect (unless, of course, they prove otherwise deserving) because we just never know. 

Finally... nothing happens, and nothing is worthwhile without a sense of humor. I'm not beating a dead horse here. It's just got to be.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Machination of Cachinnation

"You've got to learn to laugh. It's the way to true love."

Where would we be without humor? Where would I be? Lost and utterly pent up. I'm even willing to laugh at myself just to break the tension. A good friend of mine is going through a very trying time just now, but she constantly keeps me in belly laughs (even with her descriptions of her current tribulations). I try to do the same for her, knowing full well that laughter really is the best medicine.

Truly. According to, it has better benefits than a fistfull of vitamins: "Laughter reduces pain, increases job performance, connects people emotionally, and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain." It's also been said to help protect against heart attacks and strengthen the immune system. Considering that laughter boosts endorphin levels, it all stands to reason.

But, back to the quote from Michael. Laughter does connect us at a root level. Take a group of people from different countries and language barriers, different walks of life, different age levels, etc. Gather them together and have them watch a good pantomime. They begin to laugh... they've connected. In my younger years during a trip to Hungary, I was still fairly ignorant of the language. It was early in my trip and my cousin and I were still feeling a little awkward around each other. We got onto a very crowded bus and we had to stand while we hung onto a pole. A grubby man inserted his arm between us to hang onto the pole. I looked at Marianna and gave her the universal what-can-you-do shrug. She got a mischevious look on her face, looked at the dirty arm, grinned and said a word we both understood, "Ketchup!" We both burst out laughing and the awkwardness was instantly gone.

"I never did like to work, and I don't deny it. I'd rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh - anything but work."
~Abraham Lincoln
I always try to find something to make the grocery store clerks laugh. I've done that job. It can be pure drudgery... ringing up items and dealing with people who'd rather be elsewhere and who don't want to part with their money. Some have said that I'm funny, but while I think of myself as having a solid sense of humor, I don't think of myself as being a funny person... though on a good day (and around a campfire where the tequila is plentiful), I do know how to amuse. It always makes me feel good when someone tells me I'm funny because I know I've made them laugh. In short, I've done a good deed for the day.

Stir up some laughter today. Share a joke. Belly up to the Giggle Bar. You'll feel better for it. So will they.

~Make 'Em Laugh, Donald O'Connor

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Suffer the Fool

It's time (again) for me to revise my No Bullshit Policy.

I realized recently that I've become the receptacle for people who need to vent, a recipient of confidences. I consider it an honor. However, during a sleepless few moments I tried to analyze why people seem to gravitate toward me for that reason. It's not because I pry - I've never been one of those people who are good at asking just the right question. I think it's because I listen, and it's hard to find people who are willing to just listen. I don't judge - sure, I might hold your mirror up to your face, but I don't judge. It's not my job to polish your mirror. I also keep confidences - what's said to the gypsy, stays with the gypsy. I try not to overly advise, but advice does slip out more often than not - mea maxima culpa. I listen because I'm intrigued by the stories of others. I'm fascinated by what makes a person who they are. I think maybe, because of all the harsh stuff in my own life, whether people know my story or not, they see something of a kindred in me. I must exude some kind of I've-Had-Profound-Experiences Aura. Ultimately, it all makes me feel much less alone in this world, and I place great value in that.

Why is it so hard to find an empathetic ear? Are we so overly stimulated by our environment(s) that we don't truly hear what's being said? Sometimes I'll overhear a conversation between people and it sounds just like a commercial. I hear them talking, but there aren't any words coming out. It's all surface with no substance.

What bothers me about it is that more often than not, when people do confide in me, it's immediately followed by an apology. They're sorry they "dumped it all" on me, sorry they vented on me, sorry if they over-stepped boundaries. Why do we feel the need to apologize when we lay ourselves bare? To me it's like hearing someone say, "I apologize that I am who I am." Well, unless you're a child molester or murderer, that doesn't wash with me. People don't apologize when they tell us they're happy do they? They don't apologize when they share a wonderful moment, do they? No. So why feel the need to apologize when sharing something difficult? Why do we feel like we're intruding on someone by saying, "I hurt. Here's why." It's bullshit. Where, along this path, did we learn that?! How did we forget that we're here to help share each other's loads? No one gets through this life without some kind of pain, without some tattered luggage, without feeling as though they've been raped by circumstance. So what is it that got put in us that says, "I must bear this all alone." Double bullshit. If I need to move a heavy object, do I struggle with it on my own? No, I ask someone to help me. Why should mental/emotional heavy objects be any different?

I'm becoming more indignant as I write this. It flat out pisses me off that people feel they need to tiptoe around, that we can't just come right out with our hurts without asking permission first. Utter bullshit. I'm tired of seeing so much pain in the world, and much of it comes from folks not having a place to expel. We learn it somewhere, because children don't filter themselves that way. Children laugh when it's time to laugh and they good and well cry when it's time to cry, and you can bet that everyone in immediate vicinity knows why they're crying... and they don't fucking apologize for it, let alone feel the need to!

So, here's the Revised Code to my No Bullshit Policy, as set forth this day 19 January 2010:
  • If you stumble, I will pick you up. I will clean your wounds and bandage you to the best of my abilities.
  • If something is bothering you, if you're hurting on the inside, I will listen. I doesn't matter if I'm busy, happy, having a tough moment of my own, or whatever... do not apologize for needing help! Henceforth, apologizing will earn you The Look (at the very least).
  • I am not afraid of you, of your wounds, of anything you consider ugly about yourself or your life. I am undaunted by the magnitude of your problem(s) - your issues do not become my issues any more than your broken leg could become my own.
  • Pity is only in my vocabulary when you stop trying for something better.
  • I've been through a lot in my life and I've had to apply several paradigms to myself in order to make it this far. So, if I give you an "assignment" after you've told me your story, do the work. I'm not just blowing smoke up your ass, I'm trying to help. Granted, what works for me may not work for you, but trying something works for everyone.
  • Do not compare yourself to me. I don't want to hear, "I'm not as brave/strong as you," or "I could never have the courage you do." Wear your own damned moccasins and quit trying to walk in mine. I've worked hard to have the strength that I have.
So, dear ones... vent away. Please.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"It Was Necessary..."

Someone special to me died yesterday. It's a person I've never met, but have admired since I was an adolescent and first heard her name. She's a bit of an unsung hero... or at least not nearly loudly enough sung. Her name is Miep Gies, and she died yesterday at the age of 100 years. It's not a name everyone immediately recognizes. Her claim to fame comes from one of the people she helped. See, she was one of those who helped hide Anne Frank and her family during the Holocaust. 

"...I want everyone to know that I am a very common and cautious woman and definitely not a genius or dare-devil.I did help like so many others who ran the same or more risk than me.It was necessary so I helped."
~Miep Gies

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
~Anne Frank

After the Franks were arrested and taken away by the Gestapo, Ms. Gies found Anne's diaries and hung on to them for the event of her return. As anyone who has matriculated knows (Raise your hand if you did not read The Diary of Anne Frank in school... and if you're raising your hand, shame on your school's curriculum. Go get a copy and read it now!), anyway... as I was saying, Anne never returned - she was one of the many who died at Bergen-Belsen. Ms. Gies finally turned the diaries over to Anne's father when he was released years later. She said that she never read the diaries and further, in fact, that had she read them, she would have destroyed them because they implicated all five adults (including herself) who helped hide the Frank family and others. Keeping the diaries was as risky as hiding the families. It's definitely a case of discretion being the better part of valor.

While it's rare that any of us would find ourselves in a similar situation, it's not so rare that we have the ability to help others. It shouldn't be an anomaly to be selfless. Both Miep Gies and Anne Frank shared a kindred spirit that revolved around believing the best in people and wanting the best for people. In an interview a year ago, Ms. Gies said her one regret was that she couldn't do more to secure freedom for the children and give them a place to run and play. Little did she know that at the time, Anne had been writing that it's a beautiful world if one only takes a proper look.

What can we do to improve existence for someone? And even as I ask the question (and believe me, I ask it of myself), what really follows is, what will we do? Because as Ms. Gies pointed out, "It is always better to try than to do nothing, because not trying secures complete failure."

"The final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands."
~Anne Frank

We could (and should) take a profound example and lesson from these two beautiful women. What will we do? Let's begin today.

For more information, this is a lovely website tributing Miep Gies' life:

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Year, New Paradigm

He's sort of an old-fashion guy... a throwback (but definitely not a throw-away) to kinder times. He opens the door for me - in fact, I get The Look if I forget and open it myself. He's caring and considerate. He calls women Hun and Sweetheart even when he barely knows them, and calls men Buddy. He likes to laugh. He can read technical manuals and understand them! He works hard and feels good about it when he does. He's not afraid to call out anyone on their shit. He's not afraid to show his sentimental side, but he does it without being gushy or pretentious. He gets excited about snow and sunsets and stars and natural beauty. He's a manly man who knows how to be tender.

He's not perfect. But he's perfect for me. And being wrapped in his love is a beautiful thing.

No, this isn't just another "Why Barb Is Smitten With Steve" post. Well, not entirely.

Do we really appreciate the people in our lives? Do we take time out to think about the people we care for (and who care for us) and understand why they're the right people in our lives? I could easily make a list of people in my inner circle and tell you just why I've placed them there. I could also tell you that every one of them has landed there without pretense. They're there not so much because of a 'why', but because of who they are, because of the incredible beauty they lend to my life.

I'm declaring a new paradigm. It's the Wayward Gypsy's Don't Take Friends For Granted Campaign. Take time out of your day (and I challenge you to do it every day this month) to let someone in your inner circle know that you appreciate them for who they are and because they're part of your life. Let them know how they've changed your world. Hey... why not. We could all use a boost, huh?