Friday, December 21, 2007

Z is for Zena

This probably isn't how she'd spell her name (even if she could), but this is Zena phonetically. Zena is a cat, an aging cat, that I lived with during the famous ice storm. Zena was transplanted from her birth place in Seattle to Tulsa a few years ago and has never completely thrived here. In the summer, the bugs and fleas attacked her and left her little ears with scars she'll never be rid of. She never liked the heat and quickly developed a preference for those cool spots under a house and most recently The Basement. For the past 6 months or so, Zena has been referred to as The Basement Dweller at my sister's house. She would come upstairs, peer into the kitchen from the glass-paned door, and quickly retreat. Her food magically appeared at the bottom of the stairs and her litter magically disappeared. She was a recluse and seemed quite content with her life. Then came the ice storm.
Two more people moved into the house. Boxes of Christmas decorations were carried up from the basement and stacked in the kitchen waiting for a day warm enough to buy a Christmas tree. There was a lot of laughter and goings-on in the kitchen. Zena became curious and finally ventured upstairs, climbed up on top of the Christmas boxes, and made herself quite comfortable on top of the Christmas stockings. She was there every day, going to The Basement only for her litter needs and sometimes to eat in privacy.

So, why all this about Zena? It makes me think about how easy it is for me to become detached, comfortable in my singularity, not reaching out. And then how quickly I can respond to a laugh, a surprise, a little bit of giving. Now that the ice has melted, the extra people are gone and the Christmas decorations are on the tree, I wonder if Zena will go back to The Basement. I don't think I will.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Y is for Yippee! The power is on!

We'll be saying "Remember the ice storm in 07" for a long time. It affected so many people here in Tulsa -- even the ones who didn't lose power (like my sister) who graciously changed their routines to accommodate the displaced. How lucky we were to have her here. After 10 days of no electricity, I was pretty choked up when I drove down my street last night and saw all the porch lights on. My energy (no pun) seemed to miraculously return and I buzzed around moving in all the junk I somehow couldn't live without for those days. Ah. The comfort of our routines.

You always read about people coming together in times of crisis, and they do. Hearts get bigger and more open. Things ignored and taken for granted rise to the top of the list. Beauty continues and in every sense is even more important. In the midst of trees falling with a sound like gunshots, there's that red berry encased in ice that makes you pause and notice it. People create order out of their mayhem. In the sadness of losing those big tree limbs, there's a tiny bit of comfort to making them small and manageable. Fallen trees line the streets, cut and stacked so neatly.

And today the sun shines.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

X is for Xcite

Come on, X is a hard one and the question of "What excites me (you)?" has been loitering back there in the alleys of my mind lately. This happens when people start asking me about what I want to do when I retire. Have I thought about an encore career? I have a hard time coming up with something I'm excited about. I mean there are things I enjoy, like cooking, my art projects, family, friends, all the usual suspects, but I don't know that I've allowed myself the time to be passionate about something. I've concentrated more on the challenge of fitting everything in. Maybe my encore will be to allow my passion to develop.

I took the enneagram test yesterday at my daughter's suggestion and I was surprised at how hard it was to answer some of the questions. They want you to answer according to how you have behaved historically -- I think part of the difficulty comes from having lived this long -- I've been through so many phases or changes, it's hard to think about some of them. It's an interesting process, though. The test is $10 and takes about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

W is for Way Outa My League

In the previous entry, I said I felt good just to have submitted something for the challenge cards. Today when I checked out more of the entries, I felt so artistically immature, so not ready for the big world. I'm still glad I went through the process but you know how you can feel sort of embarrassed even when no one sees what you're looking at? When you wish you were better, or smarter, or more something? It's not being ashamed, it's just working to accept the difference of where you are and where you want to be.

I still like that quote (previous entry) though and still think it's pertinent.

Friday, November 30, 2007

V is for Victory

I've been wondering what I'd use for V. Today "victory" seems right. Not because I won something but because I finished something. Maybe not in as grand a style as I would have liked, but because I tried to set aside so much personal judging.

This project was inspired by an essay by Patti Digh - - and an invitation for artists to create cards for possible use in an upcoming book of her essays.

It's one thing to do a greeting card or an envelope for a friend, but this sort of thing had me undone. Especially when I looked at the cards that others were creating and actually posting (!) ahead of time. My first thought was "I am so out of my league." But, you know what? I continued and just submitting something felt good. Here are three attempts -- there were more but they never made prime time.

The quote that kept me going actually came from Patti's blog too:

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel only. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open..." -Martha Graham

I want to read that everyday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

U is for Unsolved

One thing I enjoy is solving problems, finding a solution, a new approach, etc., so when I have a problem I can't solve, it drives me crazy. That's what's happening with my eyes. For over two months now, my eyes have been reacting to something and no one can figure out what it is. Today I look like a white faced, red-eyed raccoon. My skin looks pasty compared to the birthmark red circles that surround my eyes. It's all I can do to keep from putting some concealer on them. And when I pass a mirror -- oh my. And in a day or so (I hope) it'll be almost back to normal again. At least that's been the pattern. I started keeping a detailed food diary yesterday and hope a pattern will appear. Forget the internet medical doctors. They can scare the bejeezas out of you. According to some of the descriptions, this could be one of several multisyllabic illnesses and none of them are good.

So much for this. I just want to get past this alphabet thing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

T is for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving week. Usually this is a week of people coming home, people going home, or just people coming and going. This year it's different. No one's coming and I'm not going. At first, I thought it was going to be sort of sad -- just two people on thanksgiving day, but right now, the idea isn't bothering me. It feels good to have the prospect of wondering how I'll fill my day rather than having every minute planned and wondering how I'm going to fit in the rest of my list. It's been a crazy 60+ days for me. The good news is I didn't crater.

In this Thanksgiving week, I will definitely count my blessings. More and more, I'm aware of the magic in my life. It's good to have the time to actually breathe it in.

Here's to a bountiful Thanksgiving week.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

S is for Santa Barbara

I had several thoughts about S-es -- like Sixty (my next birthday), Sarah (my beautiful daughter), Sister, Soul, Sacred, and so on. I finally settled on Santa Barbara "a lovely spot indeed on the coast by the sea," primarily because we just returned from a wedding there and the name has been constantly in front of me. It's a nice place to visit, as they say. Maybe if you're Oprah or Ellen you can live there, but the me-s of the world, not so.

Tom's daughter (another S -- Shannon) chose that location for her wedding and it was a beautiful spot for a wedding. Romantic and photogenic. I've been working on a project to commemorate the day. Here's a piece of it --

The funny thing is this page has a lot of depth to it up close. There are effects that I will never be able to duplicate, even if I want to. The reason being that this page was born of mistakes, one after another. It was repainted, blotted, swabbed, washed, fanned, cursed and then given one more chance.

I think there's a lesson in that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

R is for Revival

I grew up in the Baptist church and the big event of our summer was the church revival. I remember sitting outside on those summer evenings in folding chairs but I don't remember if it was because we didn't have air conditioning or because that's just what we did for a revival. What I remember most is that it was a week long series of singing, sermons and getting to see the cute boys I typically only got to see once a week. It was reviving something, but probably not what the Baptists had in mind.

In many ways, I wish a revival was still part of my summer routine. Not the church variety, but a revival of the spirit -- the concentration or focus of the spiritual self in a designated period of time. We all want to live fully but sometimes I think we just don't know how. That knowledge of how to live our lives lies deep within us -- I know it does -- the trick is somehow to release it -- or simply find it.

I think it may take a revival.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Q is for Quiet

I know how to be quiet. I enjoy it. I need it. Not everyone is comfortable with it though, and sometimes I find myself feeling a need to talk not because of my own discomfort but from what I sense is someone else's discomfort. I remember an incident in high school where I was with someone not comfortable with the silence. They said "You're not talking." To which I replied, "Neither are you." The difference was that I was okay with it.

There is a difference though, between silence and quiet. Sometimes I can be silent but I'm not quiet on the inside. Maybe my silence is an attempt to quiet my mind. I have to be careful sometimes not to get lost in my own thoughts and my own world, my own observations. Unlike some, I observe a lot but don't necessarily narrate what I see. There are times, of course, I'd like to be more narrative in the present. Maybe my hesitance stems from feeling like my take on things is always just a little "off" from the mainstream.

A quote I've always liked is:
The best way to find out things, if you come to think of it, is not to ask questions at all. If you fire off a question, it is like firing off a gun; bang it goes and everything takes flight and runs for shelter. But if you sit still and pretend not to be looking, all the little facts will come and peck round your feet, situations will venture forth from thickets and intentions will creep out and sun themselves on a stone. . . .from The Flame Trees of Thika by Elizabeth Huxley

I know there's a time for questions and a time for noise. I know you don't always get the answers you want just by sitting there. But there's just something about that quote that I like. Something about when the time is right, it all comes together.

Monday, September 24, 2007

P is for Point-Counterpoint

For my next class, one of the assignments is to bring a definition of counterpoint. Well, that should be simple enough. After all, counterpoint is not a new word to me. Our contemporary choir at church is named Counterpoint; some of the music we listened to Saturday was referenced as counterpoint; counterpoint is typically thought to be connected to music and most of us are familiar with the political opinion debate termed as Point-Counterpoint.

Then I started reading about counterpoint and my mind started spinning.

Chou Wen-chung describes it as "the play between deliberateness and swiftness, and the constant expansion and contraction in the relationship between ink and space." I have always thought the phrase "disciplined freedom" said it all but, wow, this guy takes it several steps further. You have basic strokes as a principal tone, then the initial caps are the auxiliary tones; boom, a flourish and you have operatic vocals.

Rise and fall, sparse and dense, delicate and stressed, straight and slanted, thick and attenuated, vertical and horizontal. It is all rhythm and movement.

I just thought I knew about counterpoint.

Friday, September 21, 2007

o is for oh my gawd . . .

which is what I'm feeling lately with all the stresses and pressures that are piling up on me right now. To itemize them (and I've done it) makes it seem like "what are you whining about -- it's just work and a couple of trips" but it feels like so much more. And I mean literally "feels" -- the weight of it all makes my chest heavy, my eyes drawn, my arms weak -- and I keep pushing forward because that's what I do. I remember oh so many years ago when I was teaching school and got to a breaking point. It was the end of the school year and I just had to walk away. Friends ended up picking up the pieces for me. My best friend left me a note that said "You bend like a willow but you will never break."

I'm bending, I'm bending, I'm bending . . .

Friday, September 7, 2007

N is for Nothing

Why is doing nothing so difficult? I guess because it's an art form and like any art it takes practice. Doing nothing is not watching TV or listening to music, it's really just doing nothing. Sitting. I would probably say it's even different than meditating since meditating means not thinking or trying not to think. There used to be a popular poster in teacher's lounges -- "Sometimes I sits and thinks. Sometimes I just sits." That is doing nothing.

I've been busy my entire life but never thought of myself as a workaholic. I wasn't "working," I was just doing. However, as I read the meditations from Women Who Do Too Much, some of it really hits home. Sometimes I blame it on my mother, who would holler at me when I was a teenager sunbathing --"Don't you have anything to do?" I've grown up to love multi-tasking and find myself getting better (or worse) at it the older I get. It just seems so efficient.

But there comes a time when I long to do nothing. I have a hard time giving myself permission for that. Doing nothing is difficult enough; doing nothing without feeling guilty is even harder.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

M is for Memory

I didn't know what to use for the letter M. There was a tug that said it should be for McAlister, which is my family name, but after last night's "discussion" with my sister about our childhood and being aware of how differently we remember things, M is definitely for Memory.

So, how accurate and reliable is our memory? I've never put myself out there as having a stellar memory, whereas my sister touts that as one of her strengths. Many times she's right, but there are also times she absolutely is not. I know I've read that there is no significant correlation between the feeling of certainty that a person has and the accuracy of the memory. That, of course, has no significance in a family discussion because memories are so subjective. I think memories get dreamier or darker as time passes, depending on the mood and how we want to remember it. My sister's memories of her childhood are just that -- her childhood. My childhood was different and my memories are different. I know this, but in the middle of an "I remember . . ." discussion, it still hurt me to not be included in her memories of events that were so rich in my memory. Maybe it stung so much because at this point, we are all that remain of our family and for me to be excluded in that way made our lives seem disconnected when right now she's the only connection I have to family.

This is one of those over-analytic posts that serves as a brain dump and is not intended to serve any purpose.

Friday, August 31, 2007

L is for Lucky

All my life, I've felt lucky. I've had my share of ups and downs, down and outs, but they didn't last. I feel lucky that I came out of those times with just a few scars. There are some people when I look at their lives and things that happen to them day in, day out, I wonder do those things happen to me and I react or respond differently, or do those things just not happen to me.

I believe the old saying "You make your own luck" is true to some extent. We make choices about things we do and the reactions we have to the outcome. Being lucky or feeling lucky is being open to things that get in your way -- it's a positive attitude, the proverbial lemonade experience. And I believe expecting good things makes good things happen. I have good hunches and good intuition. Sometimes I don't listen to it, but it's there and if I can get out of my head and pay attention to my gut, I'd probably be better off.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

K is for Kick

I just returned from a solo shopping spree at the grocery store and I admit I'm almost giddy. For some reason, it was a real kick. When I buy groceries alone, there's a magical permission that is present and I feel freer to buy things I want without discussion about price or need or how or when we will use it. Maybe to say it was fun is a sad statement about my life, but there you have it. It's the little things that make me happy.

I read recently that if you take a few minutes a day and think about things you love -- special people, the smell of fresh laundry, new rain, autumn leaves -- anything -- and while you're meditating on this list, hold your left index finger with your right fingers, grasp it, if you will. This connection can be used later, when you feel stressed. Just grasp your finger in the same way and those pleasant thoughts will tumble in.

The next time I find myself not getting a kick out of the little things in life, I think I will try it.

J is for Juggle

When I think of juggle, I think of three things in the air, one right after another, the success of it is being each item having equal time. These days, my life is a constant juggle. The problem is there are usually more than three things and it's impossible to give them equal time. I have to concentrate to keep them in the air and not drop one.

I got out my calculator and figured that I spend 60% of every 24 hours sleeping and working. Those aren't options. That leaves me 9.6 hours a day for creative outlets such as calligraphy and books, exercise, cooking and eating, social interaction, self care, shopping and miscellaneous. That doesn't count down time, which I also require.

I wish I hadn't done that. I think it's stressed me out now.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I is for Imperfection

I was taken aback this weekend by a woman in my class who does exquisite work but who looked tormented when showing it because she did not think it was perfect enough; she was not happy or satisfied or even pleased. It made me very sad for her and made me want to embrace all the imperfections that are me. I guess there's a fine line between striving to improve and being so unhappy with where we are that we can't enjoy the journey.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

H is for Help

Help is one of those things that I am not real good about asking for, but yet something that I love to give.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

G is for Growing Older

Please note I did not say "growing old." I have accepted growing older quite nicely -- the number doesn't bother me at all. What I don't like are the unexplained changes in my body shape, the way my system handles what used to be normal occurrences. Sometimes it's as if aliens have invaded this body. I don't recognize it at all. There seems to be a time when the recognition of age clicks. I remember being in my late 30s, maybe 38 or so, and all of a sudden I became aware that men weren't looking at me, they were looking at my daughter. It was one of those moments that I really realized I was getting older. The awareness now is one of realizing that I can't get everything done. I've always operated with the idea that I can do anything and knew few limits -- not that I actually DID everything, but I felt like I could. I'm more aware of limitations. On the other hand, I am a lot freer to say or do or think what I want than I've been in the past. It's a liberty I'm giving myself. It's kind of odd to think it doesn't matter.

Monday, August 20, 2007

F is for Fall

By fall, I mean "accident" and not the season. A little over four years ago, I took a tumble that in retrospect had quite an impact (no pun intended) on my life. Tom and I often recount the things which that particular event changed. For one, he was living in Las Vegas at the time, not knowing if he would return to our marriage. I didn't know if I cared. When I got home from the emergency room, I called him and he returned to Tulsa for a month to take care of me. He went back to Vegas when I was able to go back to work. Odd as it is, my fall ended up being a wake-up call for him and I believe saved his life. He did come back to our marriage, we went to counseling, and here we are. Had he not come back, he wouldn't have gone for a physical (at my insistence) which unveiled early diagnosis of colon cancer. That's a big impact.

The six weeks during which I recovered was one of the most peaceful times of my life. I had to recognize that there was nothing I could do to correct things. I gave up control. I put aside vanity. I still remember how peaceful I was during that time. That acceptance is still present when something happens and I start to question why. It's a constant reminder that we are not in charge -- no matter how much we want to be or think we are.

I remember the day of the accident laying in bed and praying "If there's something I'm supposed to get out of this, don't let me miss it." I hope I got the point.

These photos are from the day of accident and 2 days after surgery, about a month later. It still gives me chills to look at these.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

E is for Enough

Every now and then, I allow my life to get overloaded, my senses overstimulated. When that happens, I've learned after a lifetime to say "enough." At that point, I withdraw or back up or just get quiet until I am able to process everything around me.

The idea of "enough" came to me through Sue Bender's book, Everyday Sacred. I was confronted with that book several times during one weekend in which that I had escaped and was trying to regroup and figure out what was going on with me. The book kept presenting itself until finally I bought it. I didn't begin to read it until I was on the flight home. The first chapter I read (and it wasn't the first chapter in the book) was about a religious tradition where a monk sets out with his empty begging bowl. The offering of food is placed it in and he accepts gratefully. The offering gives him strength to do his work. In return, he gives guidance and wisdom. The question was asked, "What does he do when he's feeling deluged?" The answer was simple. "He puts the bowl away. If he ate all the time there would be no time to digest." It was definitely an "aha" moment.

I know that sometimes I don't allow myself time to digest. I don't take time at the moment to process all that I'm experiencing or doing. But I've learned it always catches up with me and eventually I will have to say "enough."

Friday, August 17, 2007

D is for Dairy

... which I learned big-time this week that I can't tolerate. It seemed like such a good idea to have a protein shake as my breakfast -- quick, easy, on-the-run. Little did I know that my aging body would vehemently disagree three days into the program. I've been a yogurt, soy milk, little bit of cheese type of girl for quite a while now. A big glass of milk was not part of my scene. Now I know why.

D could be for diet. Not in the sense of "dieting" but in terms of what you put into your system. For me, it won't be dairy.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

C is for Can't Sleep

C should have been for calligraphy or create, for curiosity, comfort zone, contradictions, cat, coffee, or Connie, but at 3:30 this morning, laying in bed, my mind kept saying "C is for Can't Sleep." I finally got up. I go through these phases of not being able to sleep all night. Usually it's stress at work or something like that, but I don't think that's it now. Ever since I got home from Las Vegas, my entire system has been out of whack. My eating, sleeping, digestive, activity -- all of it -- has been off. I guess I'd have to add that C is for confused.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

B is for Books

Books have always been part of my life. Saturdays at the public library were followed by draping my gangly young self in the swivel platform rocker in front of the picture window to devour my latest find. Then there was sunbathing with Lady Chatterly's Lover. My mother never knew. I find it hard to part with a book I've connected with. It's not that I'm going to read it again, it's that there's something comforting about seeing that old friend on the shelf.

Somewhere along the line I started making books. I don't remember what interested me in it -- the paper, the process, a class -- any or all of those probably. Making books has turned into a sometime hobby, a craft, sometimes an art for me. It's a perfect combination of left and right brain. Handmade books are so tactile, so precise, so manipulated and yet allow so much room for expression. Like so many crafts, books are made and then given away, but I have photographed a few before giving them. Below is a photoloop of a few books I've made, plus a favorite picture of Lucy "reading" a book. I love how serious she is with that book and that it's upside down.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A is for Aquarius

A basic starting point for me, my astrological sign, and maybe astrology in general. The first time I read a description of the Aquarian woman, it felt strangely odd to be seeing in print so many things about me that I had had a hard time explaining or verbalizing even to myself. So, I do believe in the influence of the sun and the moon; that they are strong forces that effect so much of who we are. Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't follow recipes exactly as they're written. I just about fell over when I read that characteristic in a description of Aquarius, but it falls perfectly in line with my need to experiment, in thinking that a new twist might improve things. It's the tug of the moon that makes me do it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A to Z

I'm inspired by the Encyclopedia of Me that Bella Dia is creating in August, one letter at a time. Her idea is to write a post each day of the month beginning with "A is for..." and on the 26th day, "Z is for..." The posts will be different random topics that somehow relate to her life and at the end there will be something similar to Amy Rosenthal's Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.

With things like this, I"m often tempted to wait until the first day of a month but this time, rather than wait, I'm going to start tomorrow. Not only will it force me to think of something to write everyday, it'll be fun to see where it takes me. I would love it if others jumped in as well.

As our friend Dr. Seuss writes:
My alphabet starts with this letter called yuzz. It's the letter I use to spell yuzz-a-ma-tuzz. You'll be sort of surprised what there is to be found once you go beyond 'Z' and start poking around!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

What shape is your lipstick?

While my sister and I were in Las Vegas, I borrowed her lipstick one day and couldn't help but notice how different the shape of her lipstick was from mine. Our lips are completely different anyway, so I figured the shape of your lip must determine the shape your lipstick takes on. This morning, as I applied my favorite "Plum Baby," I wondered what your lipstick shape says about you. (Weighty thoughts like that often occupy my mind.) Lo and behold, I found a lipstick personality quiz via Google. Check it out here. My description is fairly accurate. Go figure.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Completing the Circle

When I think that I actually said I didn't need to see my sister one more time, it makes me sick to my stomach. I came home from that trip a different person. It's funny that Kym always does that. When she came for Christmas a few years ago, we all said it was a magical time. There were more feelings, more joy, more love expressed that year than ever before. It was the same thing with this visit on so many levels. Although Kym can't talk and can't interact in the conventional way, the energy in the room was unbelievably positive. She was the one who brought us together. She was the one still wanting to give her children a connection to people who love them. It filled my heart to witness teenagers discovering someone who had their mom's hands, a young woman looking in someone's eyes and seeing pieces of herself, questions and answers, forgiveness and acceptance. I am oh so fortunate to be part of it and a witness both.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


Not everyone knows that I have a sister living in Las Vegas who is 13 years younger than I am, and who has lived the last 20 years of her life with Huntington's Disease. It's a horrible, debilitating, neurological disease that has no cure, no treatment. I got a phone call yesterday that my sister was probably going to die within the week. I've had a lot to process today.

My reaction to the first call from her ex-husband was denial. I told him I didn't need to see her. Something about the way he presented the situation seemed to minimize it in my mind. I was asleep when he called, which I blame on part of it; he talked about the other times she'd been on hospice and he didn't know if this time was different; he didn't make it seem urgent. I knew I was at peace with my relationship with her. I had talked to her just last week. The next day I talked to my niece who lives there with her (with full-time caregivers) and she gave me the specifics. She made it seem urgent. She made it seem real. There was no decision but to go. Today I have been flooded with memories, with regrets, with sorrow, with love.

It's gets more complicated. My sister gave a child up for adoption 23 years ago. Her request now, before she dies, is to see that child. Her nurse thinks it's why she's hanging on.

It's eerie that the reason I called my sister last week was that the daughter she gave up had contacted me and wanted to meet her. It's almost as if she knew it was time. She's now making plans to go to Las Vegas.

There's something about a mother and her offspring. I read something this morning that is so poignant to this day: "A mother never outgrows the burden of love, and to the end she carries the weight of hope for those she bore." And this, "for she is impelled to know that the seeds of value sown in her have been winnowed."

So, this weekend, I'm hoping a young woman will meet her birth mother, albeit on her death bed. May they both find peace. She will also meet a family she has never known. And the children who have cared for their mother all these years will meet a sister they only recently found out about.

I tend to keep my feelings in an inner room, sometimes I shove them in there and keep the door closed. Today, I've had to open the door and let them out. There are too many to contain.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


You can blame (or thank) Carl Jung for some of the labels we use for ourselves and personalities. But the thing is, he didn't see the label description as fixed -- he saw it more as fluid. However, after taking the test and reading my description, I don't know that I've changed very much through the years. You may be more familiar with this framework as the Myers Briggs personality test. You can take a self-test here. If you take it, be sure to report back:)

I am INTJ. When I read the description of my personality, and thought about me now and me of years ago, I remembered being 6 years old and my Sunday School teacher telling my mom, "Connie's hard to get to know." I didn't understand what she meant. I remember thinking, "She hasn't asked me anything. If she'd ask me about something, I'd tell her." So as a child, I reacted the way I would probably react now, except now I might worry about what her response to me meant, and think maybe I should try harder to be easier to know.

I think taking a test like this validates who you are in your own sense of self and makes us more accepting of who we are. It's like when my description says "INTJs are perfectionists, with a seemingly endless capacity for improving upo
n anything that takes their interest" then I relax a little with who I am in that regard, and accept who I am a little bit more. And yes, there are times I really wish I could be one of those other groups of initials -- maybe be more expressive with my feelings, but then I start to analyze it and, well you can figure out the rest.

I find it absolutely fascinating that answering just 72 seemingly random questions can tell you this much about who you are. Carl must have been a genius, coming up with this.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Summer's Fifth Night

Summer's 5th night. I don't know where this comes from or what it means, but at Utica Square it means Thursday and it means music. Last night it meant Red Dirt Rangers and hundreds of people. I love that people are so willing (and eager) to make an event out of nothing. Make-shift tables with silver ice buckets, gourmet salads, wine in fancy plastic glasses (some people even brave enough to bring everyday "crystal"), kids with balloons, dogs in silly clothes, couples in matching shirts, and people who dance, dance, dance. The guts that people have when it comes to dancing. That's a whole 'nother story.

I wish I had those guts sometimes and could give up the inhibitions that keep me from flailing my arms and really moving to the music. Every now and then it happens and it feels so good. Where does that self-consciousness come from? Upbringing and culture play a big role. Growing up Baptist plays a role. Other possible reasons? Not having dance lessons as a child? No rhythm?

Some people can't dance and they don't care. They just like to move. Damn that perfection streak I was cursed with!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cat Box Zen

I don't know when it started, at least several years ago, but scooping the cat's litter box is one of those "in the moment" experiences for me. Something about raking the sand smooth, making it flat and clean. It's not that I look forward to it or even enjoy it, it's just that when I do it, I'm concentrating on it. It's at that moment that I always think maybe there should be a book about the mindful doing of everyday chores. Dusting might make the list, as long as you used a rag, not a feather duster. Feather dusters are too quick to "take care of business and move on." Let's start a list. Feel free to add your own here:)

Monday, July 16, 2007


A sister may be one of the more complicated relationships there is, next to the one between mother and daughter. She's the one person who knows the most about you-- how you grew up, what you got by with, your flaws and weaknesses. She can be your harshest critic and your best friend, all at the same time. You grow up with one role, but somewhere along the way it changes. For me, it changed in my twenties. My sister went from being a pest to someone I recognized as being smart, funny and, basically a nice person. Even though we grew up under the same roof with the same parents, expectations for us were very different only because of birth order. It's a strange phenomenon.

I’m the first born in our family and sometimes I hate it that I feel so responsible. My sister is very different. Her coping mechanisms are different and her needs are different. Lately, I have to keep reminding myself to relate to her in her present life and understand her current needs instead of relating to her as my little sister and feeling like I’m somehow responsible for what she does. Old roles are hard to dislodge, I guess.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The First Line

I've spent the entire day, off and on, worrying about and working on my book project. My day looks something like this: Write 12 lines in 2mm letters. Cut candle wicks and put felt pads on chair legs. Write 12 lines in 3mm letters. Trim tree branches and suckers. Write letters using a fluid-writer. Fill bird feeder and sweep utility room. Go to Target. Mix a lovely green gauche, try it in several different pen nibs. Make a decision. Write first page for book (the title only, for crying out loud). Photocopy, cut 'n paste for layout. Go to friend's house to see new grandbaby. Do pencil layout for rest of book that might work. Take a deep breath. Write the first line which is "A Story About Three Bowls." Have a glass of wine even though I don't like my "w" in Bowls.

The question now is do I have another 8 hours to devote to writing the next line???

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Whistle While You Play

The house painters arrived this morning at 8 a.m. and I could hear them whistling. Imagine -- whistling as you're going to work. It made me smile, even though I felt trapped inside with the windows masked. I can't whistle. I've never even been crazy about whistling, but this morning it sounded happy and carefree.

And speaking of happy and carefree, yesterday I watched Sam and Henry jump off the side of a boat, over and over, proud of the biggest splash, never getting enough. Water skiing was a piece o' cake for them. An exhibition of exhilarated freedom with dance moves, hand signals and what I imagine to be a feeling of power that comes with knowing the secret language of communicating with the boatmeister. What they didn't know was they were creating big memories for me and for them. It was a perfect summer day and if I could've whistled, I probably would have done so all the way home.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Empty Bowl

I have a project for my class that is to make a manuscript book with Japanese binding. The actual construction is very simple, but trying to figure out what to put inside is the killer. I started practicing my letters yesterday and wanted a paragraph or story to write out. Serendipity prevailed and I have the text for my book. About bowls -- the text of which I'll share another time.

A couple of things. One, Reggie keeps saying practice with good materials, good paper, good ink. I'm discovering that it's almost as important to practice with good words, good thoughts, good quotes. Because you're writing so slowly, the words and intent of the words become part of you without you really knowing it. Two, it goes without saying that good music effects the practice. My music for this entire course has been Joshua Bell, Romance of the Violin. I start that music and my body just relaxes. I even think my cat likes it:) and misses it when I don't practice.

I'll confess. I had my practice sheet scanned to insert here, but when it was enlarged, I didn't like the way it looked. It looks okay small (2mm letters) but not good enough to enlarge. Maybe later:)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Hello July

The first sip of coffee. Nothing beats it. A little Jonathan Bell, the beginning of a new month, new determination, getting back on track. I'm so ready. June was a whirlwind month for me. There's probably a better word, but suffice it to say my energy was like taffy, pulled and stretched, twisted, and in the end I just wanted to throw it away and start over. I love the beginning of a month -- always filled with mini resolutions. I'll practice (my letters) everyday; I won't drink so much wine -- those are my two big ones.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Inspiration Comes When You Least Expect It

We went to see the movie "Waitress" over the weekend. A sweet movie with lots of creative pies as part of the story. I was so inspired afterwards that I made a dynamite cobbler using Asian pears, cranberries, raspberries, a few blackberries and some strawberries. Cooking unleashes creative juices -- I enjoyed the process and the end result. The movie was more than just a comedy and stirred up ugly memories of my previous marriage from hell. Sad that it reminded me too many women feel trapped in controlling relationships. It had a happy ending, though, and I left with a smile.

We're going to Seattle this week for my nephew's graduation and I've been looking for a good book to take for the plane ride. Yesterday I saw that Oprah, bless her heart, has selected "Middlesex" as her book du jour. This is a book I've had for some time now but haven't read, so once again, Oprah to the rescue. If Oprah loves it, I'm sure I will too.

ADDENDUM: I ended up not reading Middlesex, but read Kite Runner instead. Very powerful book. Highly recommend it.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Optimist's Creed

I have no idea who Christian Larson is, but I like the way he thinks. He writes:

I promise myself ---

To be so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person I meet.
To make all my friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make my optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature I meet.
To give so much time to improving myself that I have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of myself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words, but in great deeds.
To live in the faith that the whole world is on my side, so long as I am true to the best that is in me.

-Christian D. Larson

Sunday, June 3, 2007

June' s Trumpet

Nature is so amazing. Just like clockwork, every June 1 my lily opens. This is a plant I received 4 years ago when I had my big fall. I planted it in the garden afterwards, hoping it would bloom the next year. The lady at the plant store told me, even though the flower is associated with Easter, I should not expect it to bloom before June 1. And, as if on cue, June 1 it opens up. Every year, the trumpets bulge and look like they want to open a week or two early. I always think they will. But every year, June 1, the trumpets open and announce that summer is coming. What a glorious announcement.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Step Right Up. Self-Empowerment Can Be Yours.

Last night I went to a Didgeridoo workshop. Your first response might be "A didgeri-what?" A didgeridoo is a ceremonial instrument from Australia that is made out of a eucalyptus trunk that's been hollowed out by white ants similar to termites. It's a one note instrument and looks just like a long hollow tube (tree trunk).

The instructor definitely knew what he was doing but, I'm sorry, his approach left me a little dazed. He could just as easily been a Vitamix salesman at the state fair. He had a little suitcase open on a stool next to him with his "props" -- incense or something that looked like a joint that he kept lighting, feathers dangling from the inside of the suitcase, a small bottle of "forgiveness" that he took out like he was inhaling it, and a white board that he would write on then explain, as he erased it, that our mind could become just like this empty white board. The didgeridoo was like the eraser and all we had to do was blow into the didgeridoo, and self-empowerment would be ours. He had pulled down a projection screen that he kept pointing to behind him and saying that's what we wanted our mind to be. That's the point of self-empowerment.

It wasn't that I disagreed with the concept. I'm all for a blank mind, increased oxygenation, relaxed breathing, the clarity that meditation can bring, and so forth. I just couldn't buy into his approach. There's just something wrong about selling self-empowerment and peace of mind like it's a big juicer.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

An A-ha! Moment 40 years in the Making

This was just the funniest moment to me. I was listening to an interview (on NPR) with Dion, of Dion and the Belmonts, teen idol of the 60s, and he was talking about how he came to write such deep introspective hits like Runaround Sue and The Wanderer. Come to find out, The Wanderer is about a guy with tattoos of all these girls' names. Now, after all these years, these words finally make sense to me.

"Well there's Moe on my left and Mary on my right,
And Janie is the girl well that I'll be with tonight,
And when she ask me which one I love the best,
I tear open my shirt and I show Rosie on my chest,
'Cause I'm a wanderer, yeah I'm a wanderer
I roam around around around around hmmm"

It's so silly but I've thought about that interview a lot. The songs of the 50s and 60s were so mindless that I never gave much credence to them having thought going into them. And yet as simple as they were, they stirred real emotions in me as a teenager. They made me cry and they made me happy. They were so much fun to sing along with. It was easy to know all the words -- even if they didn't make sense.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Right now, this week, I don't feel passionate about much of anything. Tom has his golf and although I poo-poo it sometimes, and call him one-dimensional, at least it's something he lives for. I would call my life right now chaotic, busy with not much reward. I feel disconnected from my feelings. Like I can't catch my breath to even look around. I really need to pay more attention to this and get back on track. I'm not liking it the way it is.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Where is My Comfort Zone?

An iridologist once told me that I needed to be creating bigger. My daughter tells me the same thing. She also said something about a comfort zone which has made me spend way too much time thinking about it. I read an article that said over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. So, that makes me wonder what habits in my creative ventures have become unconscious for me?

There are plenty of things I haven't tried. Does that mean it's outside my comfort zone or that it doesn't interest me? See how complicated this can get.

I think I'll start by just noticing my habits and altering one or two and see what happens. I'll do something--anything—-differently and see what happens. I know by changing one thing, then something else will change, and voila. It's the proverbial domino effect. New thinking. New ideas. New creativity.

One thing I'll try: embracing failure and rejection. That's really out of my "zone."

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day Creation

This is a 4x3 book with an accordion spine; 4 separate folios. This is a Month of May project. The blue spangles that defy the edge of the pages are what make this so much fun visually. Ideally, it needs 5 folios and a stronger paper for the cover/spine. I just wanted to use this paper that I'd already painted.

What I Learned from my Mother

On Mother's Day I couldn't help but think about my own mother and the mother I eventually became. From my mother, I learned to believe that I could accomplish anything I wanted. I learned responsibility. I learned to stay busy. I learned that life is short. I don't know that I learned how to be a mother. I didn't learn how to make rules for someone else. I didn't learn how to guide. Still, I became a mother and my daughter has surpassed all expectations. Nature? Nurture? Maybe pure love.

What I hope my daughter learned from me is that love is unconditional. That fresh flowers can do more for the soul than the room. That sometimes you don't have to say anything. That you can make huge mistakes and still recover. That sometimes you learn more from a bad example than a good one.

I may not be the perfect mother, but glory be, what I do know is I have the perfect daughter:)

Friday, May 11, 2007

May Day

Finally, I've completed a May creation. Interesting process. I randomly selected a magazine (which happened to be Better Homes and Gardens, November 2005)and composed a mosaic of colors & patterns that I cut out of it. Then I took phrases from the same mag to write a paragraph that complemented the feel of the mosaic. No title to it yet, but a worthy project. I like the result. (If you click on the picture, you can read the text.)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Blind Runner

There's a guy who runs at the river who's blind. He runs with a partner. They loop their wrists together with a thin rope that leaves maybe 12 inches between them. The only way I know which one is blind is that the partner occasionally changes. Every time I pass him, I immediately close my eyes and try to run a few steps without seeing. I can't imagine what it would be like--the trust, the dedication, the persistence.

I close my eyes when I brush my teeth. Is that common or is that strange? I don't know.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Ghetto Ducks

Yesterday I just happened to look down into the little city creek as I walked across a bridge and I saw a mother duck and two babies standing at the edge of the very disgusting water, looking like "should I take these kids through this mess?" Trash, broken limbs, storm residue. I immediately felt sorry for these little ghetto ducks. A man behind me stopped and said "There used to be 6 babies. I hope these make it." Fast forward an hour and Tom was telling me about the country club ducks. Pretty little lake, 7 or 8 baby ducks. And I wonder do ducks know there's a different neighborhood out there?

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Random Acts of Kindness

Random acts of kindness that I experienced this week:
1. I got out of the car at the grocery store just as it started to rain. The young man who carries groceries out appeared out of nowhere with an umbrella.
2. At the gym, I'd been on the elliptical for 28 minutes when someone I had never seen walks up with a styrofoam cup of cold water for me.
3. Checking out at Sam's with only one item, the lady in front of me said "Why don't you go first."
4. My neighbor gave me some plants she bought and didn't use.
5. It was trash day and pouring down rain. After the trash pickup, someone brought my trashcans up under the tree so they wouldn't blow away and fill up with rain.

That kind of stuff is contagious. It always makes me more aware of doing things like that. Like today, I had picked up a cool poster (free) at the Farmer's Market and after I'd left the market, a young woman asked where I got it. I told her, then I gave it to her. Her face just lit up. It's the simple things. Gotta remember that.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Things I Wish Didn't Exist

I started out to make a list of ten things I wish didn't exist. Can you believe I couldn't come up with ten? Not and be nice, anyway.

The first things that came to mind were:
    People who think Spandex is a right (obviously spurred by a recent trip to Target)
    Second martinis (no explanation needed)
    Bad coffee
    Suicide bombers

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Daily Challenge

Today's May 1 and the first thing I thought about was The Challenge. My challenge right now is losing my old buddies Confusion and Indecision. I can't seem to shake these guys. Always at the forefront of our on-going argument/discussion is work. Or better stated, my job. Indecision comes in and starts asking questions like what I'd do if I quit this job; what about insurance. What kind of job/work would I want? Confusion chimes in and talks about whether it's really the job or is it me. He starts wanting me to explain why this job makes me crazy. He never fails to point out that some days I appear to be quite content with my work. I wish they'd both leave me alone. I haven't seen my friend Deliriously Happy in a long time.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Creativity Censor

One of these pieces will be the beginning of at least one May project. Which makes me think immediately of the downside of defining "create" in terms of something you can show off. For the month of May, that's how I will define it, but for the rest of the time, I like to think of it in broader terms. I like to think of it as how we connect with the world around us. The choices we make in how we express ourselves. That's art too.

I hate hearing people say "I'm not creative." I can say "I'm creative" and feel okay about it, but just this morning I looked at an application for joining an artist coalition to support it, and one of the boxes to check was "I am an artist" -- and I paused. I didn't know whether I should check it. Crazy. What did they mean by artist? Is it your job? do you sell? We're all artists is what I always say, and yet I couldn't check the box for some reason. I know that as innate as our desire is for self expression, we censor ourselves and judge ourselves way too much. I am so guilty.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dinner Talk

A former nun, a former gymnast, a phone booth cleaner, an old hippie and someone who painted stripes in parking lots. Seemingly dissimilar people and yet what great dinner companions we made -- and surprisingly at this stage in our lives we had a lot in common. Current job overlap, thoughts about what we'd do when we retired and didn't have to worry about getting paid, an appreciation for where we've been and how we got here.

I don't think we realize when we're living a young life that we're creating memories and experiences for later on. That we need to savor the now. We're so intent on getting past the present that sometimes we don't acknowledge it, let alone enjoy it. And it's not even just when we're young. It's now, it's still. It's hard to be in the moment without thinking about what comes next. We're always looking ahead. Sometimes it's called planning, sometimes dreaming.

So, at what point does it become more fun to look backwards than forward?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Everyday in May

The French Toast Girl posted a challenge on her blog to commit to create something every day in the month of May. I'm thinking about it. Her rules: they can be tiny. Or crap. Collages. Photos. Writings. Anything you want -- the idea being that life functions better when you create s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g.

I know that waking each day knowing I'm going to create something changes the quality of my day. It's something about the intention. So, creating makes for a better day. Still, I postpone, procrastinate, diddle. Something about being human.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I've had three different dreams lately where I can't find my car. I've either parked it and can't get to it or I can't locate it. In one dream, I know where it is, but I'm on a grassy path going down a hill and my car is on the street, separated from me by a dense row of trees.

A search on dream symbols said that cars are symbols of our bodies--the vehicles which our spiritual selves use as a means of experiencing physical reality. Dreams of cars, or most precisely, dreams of what is going on with the cars are symbols of how our psyche feels about what it is experiencing in waking life. All this makes sense to me because I've felt out of sync lately; I'm not satisfied with my work structure; I'm needing more time for me. I've been in a strange space. I've felt lost.

At least the car hasn't crashed and the brakes work.

Monday, April 23, 2007

from Everyday Sacred

Small kindnesses make a difference -- they have echoes out of proportion to the effort they take. --Sue Bender

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Sometimes the most difficult thing in the world is to do nothing. My Saturday to-do list is in a repeating loop in my head and each item involves getting dressed, making choices, using energy. I want to do nothing. I want to sit and watch the sun play with the leaves. I want to listen to the rhythm of the wind dance through the azaelas. I want to forget how many minutes are in an hour. I just want to be.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Austin Fine Arts Festival

It was a perfect day for an arts festival. It was sunny, it was warm; everyone was in a good mood because the rain was over and the tents were back up. There were hundreds of inspirations, but here are a few of the artists that grabbed my eye and made me go "Wow" ---

Diana Stetson, who is always a favorite for me. One of her pieces had this delicious quote: "Find yourself a cup of tea. The teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things." Her work is such a peaceful combination of words, elements, color.

Then there was Andrew Carson. He had to be ecstatic that the wind was helping him show off his kinetic sculptures. So whimsical, so delightful. Everyone walked away with a smile on their face, wishing they had the nerve or the cash to buy one.

The piece I wanted most to buy but didn't was the cast bronze piece that looked like origami unfolding. You really had to touch it to believe it wasn't paper. Who was this masked artist? I have no idea who the artist is. So sad.

Another standout for me was an artist from Abiqui, NM who used the metal from old automobiles for the frames of his photographs. The photographs were pictures of the earth or nature that mirrored the patina of the frame surrounding it. No manipulation of color, just art, a sense of the purist.

Paper Expressions was such an unremarkable name for the most remarkable art created by artists Hetty and Norman Metzger. They create this incredible texture and color with hundreds of tiny folded boxes that absolutely mesmerize the eye. A visual feast.

A few art web sites I picked up from business cards --

Sunday, April 15, 2007

1886 Bakery, Driskill Hotel, Austin, Texas

Rule number one. Don't order oatmeal in a restaurant unless (1) it's been highly recommended by someone you respect or (2) you've actually seen a bowl of it. I violated my own rule and ended up eating only the berries and golden raisins and then asking for a bowl of the granola instead, which although "homemade" won't go on the record as being "freshly homemade." The coffee, on the other hand, was dee-lish. Two cups at the counter with a couple celebrating their 38th wedding anniversary and the breakfast hour, even with bad oatmeal, was enough to leave me with a smile.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sewing Lessons

I learned to sew when I was 10 or 12. My mother taught me. I remember she would use case knives instead of straight pins to hold the pattern down when she was cutting things out. It never occurred to me that not everyone did that. When I think back, I realize that sewing was one of the first ways I learned to express my individuality and creativity. Like the white sailor dress with miles of red rickrack every size imaginable. I loved that dress.

Sewing taught me to think in the abstract. I learned to solve puzzles, to solve problems. I learned to appreciate details, the importance of completing a project, and the disappointment when it wasn’t as I expected it would be. Like the black broadcloth straight skirt with the perfect zipper – except that it was inside out.

Fabrics fulfilled a need for color, patterns and texture, and were much like paper is to me now. Fabrics provided a memory of the past and gave life to visions. Though I don’t sew any more, I think learning to look at things in terms of how to construct it and how to change it to make it my own, is part of just about everything I do now.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday Morning at the Gym

I took the day off work to volunteer at the Spring Garden Fest but it poured down rain, and although the plant people were still carrying in things to sell, it didn't make much sense to sit in a wet tent all day with wind and occasional lightning. I opted to spend the morning at the gym which proved to be a surreal experience for a Friday morning. Since I usually go after work, I'm more accustomed to middle-aged dads trying to get rid of the belly and women fighting their saddlebags. This morning it was if I walked onto the set of Coccoon. Everyone had white hair. They were gathered around, drinking their (free YMCA) coffee and getting their social fix. It was like junior high fast forwarded. The flirt was there, the coy one, the jokester, and the quiet ones. I was reminded of the philosophy that however you are at 30, is how you'll be at 72. Looking at this group, I probably have to agree.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Pencil Width

Kathleen Norris wrote an essay in which she talks about the differences in the landscapes of New York City and the Dakota flatlands. She writes that someone who sees beauty in the busyness of New York might be challenged to see beauty in the flatlands. The eye has to work to see beauty in slight variations; has to become sensitized to see and appreciate small differences.

I'm in the middle of learning Roman letters using a broad-edge pen and then using a pencil to actually draw the letters; I'm learning to see what a difference a pencil point width can make in a shape; how little it takes to create elegance or lose it. These slight variations, these little changes should become part of our everyday life. Sometimes I think we get in the trap of thinking that change has to be dramatic to make a difference or be worthwhile. We think we have to run a marathon when walking 10 minutes might be enough. Well, maybe 30:)

I love the idea that small changes can make big differences. It makes it all so attainable. It's just about noticing, about being aware. Sensitizing eye, heart and mind.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ten Things

An old post from a previous comment section of Due South blog (6 months old) that I didn't want to lose. Ten things that happened this week -- or the week of October 31, as it was. I still think this is a great way to think about your week.

1. Halloween came and went with no tricksters and a minimum of treaters. The best costume was the lady bug, a red tulle dress with big black dots, black ballet slippers and gauzy filigree wings that magically came out her pink ski parka.

2. I went to a 60th birthday dinner party for a golf buddy of Tom’s. About 40 people were there. Somehow during the evening, the conversation turned to how many times you’d been in jail, to which one man who loved his red wine, admitted to being in jail 6 times. His wife dropped her jaw, arched one brow, jerked her head and said “Out. We need to smoke and talk.”

3. I cooked some halibut that a friend caught in Alaska. Served it with a Romesco sauce and kalamata olive/parsley relish. I felt like Emeril. Bam!

4. On my morning walk in the neighborhood (before daybreak), I saw a young fox on the Jewish playground going under the fence. I guess he was going back to his “nest” which must mean he too lives in the neighborhood.

5. On Wednesday night, during a discussion at church about Raymond Carver’s story One Small Thing, someone saw a mouse run under the bookcase. Everyone just ignored it because after all, it was just one small thing. Besides that, someone pointed out it was be a church mouse.

6. We had a huge barred owl in our tree last Sunday. The bluejays screeched and flew in circles.

7. I ordered and received a copy of my ex-husband’s first published book of poetry. The cover states that his collaboration with his (current) wife produced three children, which pissed me off because they didn’t really have 3 children--they only had one–and one of their “collaborative” three is really my daughter Sarah.

8. I went to a Day of the Dead Altar exhibit and was struck by the effort and love that went into those altars.

9. I saw dancers celebrating the Day of the Dead with fire sticks, eating fire to the music of drums. It was cold outside but the street was so jammed with celebrants that no one seemed to care. (Same event as above, but since one was inside and one was outside, I’m counting it as two.)

10. I stopped for coffee at a place I’d never been to before – “The Coffee Grinder – Seattle Style.” I asked what Seattle style meant and he said when it opened 12 years ago, Seattle was known for small coffee shops – this was before Starbucks – people would just get their coffee and go – it wasn’t a lounge. So they opened the shop without chairs

Not bad for a week in Tulsa America. A nice exercise. Examining your life in better light.