Saturday, November 29, 2008


It's about this time of year when I start adding Christmas decorations to the house that I start getting claustrophobic. There's cozy and then there's closed in. I look around and start seeing all the things I could do without. A perfect time to get that white elephant gift wrapped!

In the guest bedroom closet, for example, I store things that I rotate: vases, sofa pillows, little lamps, decorative items, etc. Then there's this collection of things I don't really use anymore. Like brass candlesticks that I used to put out at Christmas but don't any more. There's a Santa Fe style snake cribbage board; framed pieces that don't fit any place, paper flowers, gifts we've received and feel compelled to keep, wine glasses that don't have a home in the kitchen, an extra ice bucket, all the gift bags that I have saved, an extra comforter and shams, a weight bench for ladies (barely used), a bread machine. I don't need to itemize everything. I've convinced myself I need to take a serious look at that closet.

Friday, November 28, 2008

How could I have doubted Martha?

Gravy with bourbon AND white wine in it? I almost didn't try it but it was in Martha's Thanksgiving menu and I gave her the benefit of the doubt, thinking she wouldn't steer you wrong on Thanksgiving ... and you know what? It worked. It was so good that I'll keep the recipe and put it in my holiday best. The dressing I wrote about yesterday fully met expectations. And the sweet potato/cranberry casserole that my sister brought was such a WOW dish -- that little tart burst of the fresh cranberry amongst the sweet potatoes. I'm writing myself into leftovers tonight.

Our going around the table and saying what we were thankful for was so heartfelt and quite emotional actually. Everyone participated and it was such a joyous day. It's one that I will be glad to have linger in my memory.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Le Menu

Thanksgiving Day. I'm trying Martha Stewart's pecan cornbread dressing this year. I even made her buttermilk cornbread yesterday so I could give the recipe the true test. And to top it all off, I used real buttermilk rather than making my own with lemon juice or vinegar in regular milk. Talk about going all out. The dressing is supposed to be fab -- we'll see. With the anticipation of all the starches today, I'm already starting to feel comatose. The menu for today is turkey & dressing, ham, mashed potatoes & gravy, a sweet potato/cranberry dish, green beans, my famous green jello, and a spinach salad. For dessert we have pumpkin pie and apple pie.

I woke up early this morning and made placecards for the table, made some pumpkin bread and a pot of delish coffee. We've been on a coffee search lately and actually our problem may be solved. Tom picked out this coffee yesterday at Starbucks. It's Ethopia Sidamo. A year ago I bought a Cuisinart coffee maker that grinds the beans and drips into a carafe. I did this thinking it would take the guesswork out of the coffee experience and we'd be able to get a consistent pot every day. It just hasn't happened. We've tried using ground coffee, tried grinding for 10 but using 8 waters, tried a variety of beans -- but here's the thing -- we've been buying beans from Sam's. I think that's the problem. The coffee this morning is soooo good. And I needed a good cup of coffee. I'll add a good cup of coffee to my list of things I'm grateful for.

Speaking of being grateful and thankful, I saw a sign on a church yesterday that said something like "When you pause to think, pause to thank." And when I do pause, my list of things to be thankful for is very long. Health, family, friends top the list and little things like a good cup of coffee, seeing a sunrise, and fresh air make me know that today is going to be a great one. Happy Turkey.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My New Hero

I don't know Roann Mathias, but I would bow down to her if she walked into the room right now. I absolutely love her calligraphic style. Here is a video she posted on her web site. She says, "This is my first "music video" featuring calligraphy from various journals and the song by Norah Jones called "Those sweet words."

View it and be thusly inspired.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Not a Cover Girl

The following was posted on XX Factor yesterday by Abby Callard.

On Wednesday, Fox News aired a segment in which it berated Newsweek for not retouching a photo of Sarah Palin that ran on its Oct. 13 cover. (You can see a good close-up here.)

The photo is clearly untouched: stray eyebrow hair, large pores, and wrinkles are all visible on her face. The headline reads "She's One of The Folks (And that's the problem)." But the outrage isn't about the headline at all; it's about the photo. When did untouched become "unfair," as a Republican media consultant claims during the segment? And when did it become a requirement to retouch photos in news magazines rather than fashion ones?

The consultant went on to claim that the photo was "mortifying." Maybe the photo is a little unflattering--who can expect to look great that close up--but mortifying? It's also ridiculous that the three women on the segment prefaced their statements by some form of "Sarah Palin is a beautiful woman." We get it.

If I were Palin, I would upset. Not at the magazine, but at these women who can only talk about her as a "beautiful woman."

And this isn't sexist treatment?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My Oh My Oh My

Although this reads like an SNL script, it is the actual transcript of a Couric/Palin segment. So sad.

COURIC: What other Supreme Court decisions [than Roe v. Wade] do you disagree with?

PALIN: Well, let's see. There's --of course --in the great history of America rulings there have been rulings, that's never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are--those issues, again, like Roe v Wade where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know--going through the history of America, there would be others but--

COURIC: Can you think of any?

PALIN: Well, I could think of--of any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But you know, as mayor, and then as governor and even as a Vice President, if I'm so privileged to serve, wouldn't be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Les Misbarack

Every time I hear a news item about McPalin and the lengths they sink to in the name of politics, I feel sick. In honor of the theatrics of this election cycle, here's something that made me smile for a change.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Eleven Days and Counting

It's countdown time until I leave for convention, which means my life is uber-busy and unbelievably exhausting when I factor in work issues and personal trials while trying to maintain a modicum of sanity. The past month has been filled with many good things and an inordinate amount of drama. No details to protect the guilty:) Suffice it to say, it takes its toll on me. The outlets that I depend on for a release all of a sudden seem to take too much energy, too much time, too much everything. My days become a circle of arrows chasing itself and even though the number of good things outweigh by far the drama, those bits of intense drama zap the vitality right from my core.

Yesterday I tried to regain my footing with a stroll through the Farmer's market, a trip to Whole Foods and let myself take in few blocks of an Art & Jazz fest that I stumbled upon. Add a nap to the mix and I'd call it a good day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Shoes Like Yaya

I'm so excited. I got a message last week that a photo I had submitted to the "Grandparents are the Greatest" contest is in the Top Ten. Voting was supposed to begin over the weekend, but so far the photos aren't posted on their web site. I'm dying to see the other photos to see what the "competition" is. The winning photo will be the Grandparents Day poster and the cover of their mag -- which would be very cool -- plus gas cards for the monetary award. I'm more excited about the poster and mag prospect than the gas card though.

The picture is one I took in Pittsburgh of my feet and Lucy's feet -- both of us wearing our purple Keens. It's funny, when I look at the picture now, I know that if I had even considered that it was a photo for a contest, I would have lined our feet up, tried to be sure her little dress wasn't there, probably fussed with it, etc. But as it was, we were just standing there and she said "I have shoes like Yaya." And I had my camera, so Snap and it was captured. Obviously, the title of the photo is Shoes Like Yaya. Here it is:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


"Who are you?" said the Caterpillar. . .
"I -- I hardly know, Sir, just at present," Alice replied rather shyly, "at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then."

Lewis Carroll
from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Monday, August 11, 2008

"I'll Be Right Back"

Our best "couple" friends are in San Francisco for a pleasure trip. Only it has turned out not to be pleasure. He ended up in the hospital emergency room, had surgery on his brain, and is currently heavily sedated to prevent seizures. His family has gathered 'round and they don't know at this point what the outcome will be. My heart is the heaviest it's been in a long time. I can't stop thinking about them.

Every day when we walk out the door, we have every intention of being right back. We leave things undone, unsaid, uncared for, believing that we'll take care of them when we get home. Seems like lately I keep getting hit in the face with these reminders to not take life for granted. Strange times for me.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lost and Confused

I had a dream last night that I'd lost my phone. I was in an environment like a hospital but it wasn't; it had a large counter or desk like you see on a hospital floor. I had used my phone and then when I picked it up, it wasn't the right one. I kept picking up other phones, and they were all similar, same color or size but none were the right one.

When I looked at the dream book this morning under "lost" and "telephone," one suggestion was to think of yourself as the phone; maybe you're the one lost. Hmmmm. That's interesting.

Then I went to church and grabbed my name tag and went in. In the middle of church, my husband looked over at me and said "what the hell -- you're not Claude Dodd!" I had picked up and had been wearing the wrong name tag. That may not sound so funny now, but at the time, after that dream, it was hilarious.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sing Along

There's something about overhearing someone singing along with music in a store that just makes me smile. They are so in the moment and totally unaware of people turning around to see who's singing. It's not that they even have a particularly good voice and are trying to show off -- I think they just feel like singing.

The power that music has over us has always fascinated me. I remember reading that if you experienced a mental block about something, put it out of your mind and do something else for a while. Then, after a while, start singing -- and the song that would come into your head would be related to what you were trying to remember. Sounds strange, but I remember experimenting with this and it working. I've read about clinics using music and songs to stimulate memory deficits in older patients, or probably any one who suffers from dementia or head trauma. It's something about music and speech being processed in different parts of your brain so you don't really lose music.

Just some Thursday Trivia for you.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Listening to the Universe

This morning after my walk, I stretched and looked up at the sky and said "Show me how to listen. Don't let me miss it. I'll pay attention." I finished my stretching, went into the house and made coffee. When the coffee beeped its completion, I poured a cup and decided to sit outside. Before going outside though, I went to my studio and picked up a book of daily meditations. This is not something I do every day, or even now and then. The book is one that gave me great peace about four years ago when I was healing from an accident and a struggling marriage.

I sat down with my coffee and opened the book to August and for some reason decided to read yesterday's meditation instead of today's. My throat closed up as I read:
Learn to tell how you react to what you see and hear. That's how you'll learn to listen to what the universe has to say. That place may be the next place you're to go on your path. The idea may be just what you're looking for to help you get unstuck. . . . value your passions and the way you feel. Soon you'll find yourself knowing just what to do and when.

I said a silent 'thank you' and got a second cup of coffee.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Life After Life

Part of it is my age, I'm sure, and part of it is probably coincidence, but so many things lately have been linked to death that it's making me stop and go "hmmm."

For instance, my daughter found an obit she wrote for herself as a workshop assignment several years ago; I went to a funeral yesterday; I listened to James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" and could not stop crying (...but I always thought I'd see-ee-ee you again ..."; Tom and I been talking about wills and trusts; conversations with random people have taken place about what people would remember about you and what you wanted them to remember; and now the blog 37 Days is having people write about what they would do if they knew they only had 37 days to live. That's easy for me. I'd walk right in and quit my job.

The idea of thinking about what you'd do if you only had a certain number of days to live is to then ask yourself what's keeping you from doing those things now? It's the idea of living intentionally, living life to the fullest.

My husband keeps saying "You're going to live a long time" and I hope he's right. But I'm feeling a sense of urgency to do things that have a "what if" underlying the not doing them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mixed Media Exhibit

I went to a mixed media art opening on Sunday. It's an annual event and one of my favorites to attend. This year a friend of mine had three pieces in it so it was especially exciting to attend. I think I like this event because there's so much unleashing of rules. Of course, like anything, there really ARE rules. Layer over layer, which one first. Trial and error. It looks so simple, and yet there's nothing more intimidating than a blank sheet of anything. One thing I noted was "no calligraphy represented." This gives me something to think about for next year.

Felting seemed to be the "new" medium this year. There were about five pieces incorporating felting in some way. In fact, the "Best of Show" was felting over an old corset. [photo 1]

Mixed media can probably take credit for coming up with "Green art." The idea of recycling is what mixed media is all about -- using things that might otherwise be thrown away. Another thing noticeable was the incorporation of pets into the art. There they were -- front and center. A sculpture with the title of "Watch Dog" was the epitome of recycle. [photo 2]

And then there was the Ultimate in Visual Journaling -- a book that wasn't an altered book but a wildly constructed fabric book, loaded up with sketches, collage, cast-off jewelry -- rich rich textures. [photo 3]

This is just a sampling of the exhibit. Sorry, other than art by Donna Sledge (photos 4,5,6), I didn't make notes on names of the artists. The photo for #6 doesn't really do it justice. It's a torso with flattened beer cans attached with oxygen tubing. The piece is entitled "Six-pack Abs."







Thursday, July 17, 2008

Retirement On My Mind

Retirement is on my mind these days. How to do it, when to do it, where to do it. Many of the "guides" I look at talk about the chance to become the person you could never be, all the self-discovery or self-realization that can take place. It's a little intimidating really, especially when they pepper the margins with quotes like these:

It is often safer to be in chains than to be free. (Franz Kafta)

It's always the same; once you are liberated you are forced to ask who you are. (Jean Baudrillard)

I think I pretty much know who I am and what I'd be if I didn't work. And yet, I can't help but wonder if work has suppressed or suffocated who I really am to the point that Yes, there will need be self-discovery. I've never thought of my identity as being wrapped up in my job or in job relationships. If anything, they are SO disconnected to who I am that they cause me angst a lot of the time.

Maybe it's self-REdiscovery I'll be looking for.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Change Isn't Always for the Better

The house across the street from me is being demolished -- not because it was run down or falling down, not because it was beyond repair. Truth is, a builder is hoping an empty lot will sell better than a house that needs attention. So sad. I let myself get worked up over this and have finally settled down. The demo crew said they thought the house had jinxed them -- that it wasn't ready to come down. It's taking three times longer than they thought. Yea was what I thought.

Old dirt smells so bad. It's amazing how bad it smells. It smells almost as bad as tearing down a perfectly good house.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Candle Card

Here's a picture of the birthday candle card I made last weekend. The best part of the experience is opening it to the interlacing candles. I learned a lot with this exercise and would definitely be able to improve on the next one. Because I didn't really have a plan and had not done one before, I ended up having to overlap and add a few small candles to get to the desired number. It worked out and gave it a somewhat avant garde look. The double color paper (one side hot pink; one side orange) was a nice touch and gave it more flair (flare:)

Now that I understand how the interlacing idea works (when you glue a candle to one side of the peak, it lays one direction; gluing to the other side, then, lays the opposite direction, the idea being to alternate spots on the peak to get the interlacing), I know to determine the number of candles per peak and plan the number of peaks accordingly. This card was about 4 inches tall.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Those Seven Words

Okay, have you Googled George Carlin for the 7 words? I remembered five of them and half of a sixth. Now I know them all -- for all the good it does me.

I read an article this morning about a band whose name had one of "those" words in it and in reviews, unless they were online reviews, the name of the band couldn't be printed. The policy of the New York Times is not to print the word "fuck" unless they are quoting an American president or someone similar. Doesn't seem too smart for the band.

I've been surprised so many times by some of the language on prime time sit-com TV. Not the seven words, but still words that I wouldn't want to hear my grandson using. What are they thinking?

Monday, June 23, 2008

My List

I spent most of Sunday afternoon working at my table cutting out paper birthday candles and getting my head around the vision I'd had for a birthday card for my daughter. It actually came together and is going in the mail today. Yay! a completed project! It's been a long time since I've done anything like that and it felt so good to work with paper and colors and glue. It's almost like exercising. Feels so good, you wonder why you don't do it all the time.

My challenge for the next two weeks is to spend at least 30 minutes a day at my table.

My family used to have a saying "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach" and I think that applies to me and my weekend lists. No way could I check off everything on my list this weekend. My lists tend to be more of a possibility list than an actual "to do" list anyway. Things that seem like they'd be so simple turn into an all day adventure. Like looking for size 2 big girl panties that turns into looking at 2T dresses with a $129 price tag and finding out that panties without Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are rare. It made me think I need to get my sewing machine out -- not for the panties but for the dresses.

Something else to add to my list.

Friday, June 20, 2008

10 Things for the Weekend

Usually by Thursday I'm starting to think about the weekend-- what has to get done, what I want to get done. By Friday, I feel as though it has arrived even though I still have one more day of work. I at least start my mental list of what the weekend will look like. Here's this weekend.

1. Go to Whole Foods
2. Wrap birthday gift to mail
3. Make card to go with gift
4. Dinner at friend's house Sat. p.m.
5. Do my eyebrows
6. Look for "cute" big girl panties for Lucy
7. Church
8. Work in flower beds, cleaning up, etc.
9. Transplant striped monkey grass
10. Bike ride or long walk

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What's On Your iPod?

Talk about revealing yourself. Today at Tim Russert's funeral, what music did they play? His ipod. I thought that was very cool; a very ingenious way to say who someone was. You can know a lot about someone without knowing anything about the music they listen to when they're alone. I love putting my iPod on Shuffle Songs and taking whatever comes up. Sometimes it's exactly the right mix. Today, for instance, at the gym, the first song was a Caribbean beat, perfect for getting me started; John Mayer was next, then Jack Johnson, Chris Isak, and so on. It was just right.

So, baring my soul, here's my iPod list, by genre.

Alternative: Ditty Bops
Blues: Amos Lee, John Mayer, Keb Mo
Classical: English Ladymass, Chant, Yo Yo Ma, Joshua Bell
Country: Alison Kraus, Brooks & Dunn, Dixie Chicks, Lyle Lovett, Rascal Flatts
Easy Listening: Paolo Conte (Italian jazz)
Folk: Ray LaMontagne
Jazz Diana Krall, Herbie Hancock & guest artists
Latin: Buena Vista Social Club
New Age: Ramon Bermudez jr.
Pop: Carol King, Jack Johnson, Madeleine Peyroux, Norah Jones, Van Morrison, Yusuf
R&B: Alicia keys, Corinne Bailey Rae, Destiny's Child, India Arie, Mary J. Blige, Michael McDonald
Rock: Chris Isack, James Taylor, Los Lonely Boys, Santana, Sting
World: Edith Piaf, Malaysian beats, French Caribbean
Soundtracks: Big Night, Boys on the Side, Bridget Jones Diary, I Still Love this Game, Love Actually, Notting Hill, Sleepless in Seattle, Smokey Joe's Cafe

Wide Open World

I recently advertised for a new employee and have received about 50 resumes. Interesting thing is as I started reviewing them and asked a co-worker (young) to go through them with me, her approach was to see if they had a myspace page and determine what that said about them that we might never know.

Part of the appeal of having a blog is being able to write as if no one is reading -- you don't really write for "approval" -- it serves the purpose of getting rid of things that clutter up your head. Although I admit I haven't been as honest as I might have been if I really thought no one was looking.

We do live in a transparent world these days. Someone told me they googled Leslie Stahl's lipstick and my blog post was number one. That was crazy to me.

I've always kept things pretty close and not blabbed a whole lot. And yet, if anyone were to ask me a question, I'd probably tell them just about anything they wanted to know.

I'm open. Is the world ready?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Young at Heart

Young at Heart is a documentary about a senior citizen chorus directed by hottie Bob Cilman. The film documents the group as they rehearse, learn new songs and get ready for a concert. What makes the chorus unique is they don't sing what you might expect a senior citizen group to sing -- the "golden oldies" -- they sing punk, rock, blues, etc. They sometimes say the words instead of singing them so for the first time you're really aware of the words in the song which gives it a completely fresh meaning. For some reason, this movie was so strong for me. I laughed and cried more than I have in a long time. Don't really know why -- their struggles with learning/remembering two lines, their love and concern for each other, determination, tenacity, the reward of applause and completion -- there's so much in it. And Bob doesn't coddle them. He's tough and frustrated and has the most beautiful mouth. Well worth catching if it comes to your theater.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Wide Open Spaces

A few days ago I was getting a manicure and the young woman sitting beside me said she was in town for a while and wondered what she should "see." I had no idea what to tell her. Every time someone asks me a question like that, I realize how little I know about my city. I told her I hoped she got to see a rain storm. She hoped so too. The one thing that had amazed her on her drive from Manhattan (NY) was in Ohio "where the sky met the grass. Just blue and green -- and nothing in between." The joy in her face made me realize how much we take landscape and space for granted here in the midwest.

I should have told her about our sunsets.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Neighborhood Coalition

I just returned from a neighborhood meeting with the purpose of exploring the formation of a coalition for eliminating (retarding?) the tear-downs of older houses and replacing them with what are called "McMansions." This is a cottage-type house neighborhood with nice setbacks and space between the houses. What's filling in are houses with 3-car garages, huge roofs and tiny yards. I have to admit that I was a little distracted at the meeting because one of the speakers was a woman who could pass in a minute as Dana Carvey and I was half-way thinking she would go into her church-lady act at any moment.

I've never been much of a joiner. This is new for me. But I so feel so strongly about this. These are older houses, well maintained, are being deemed worthless except for the land. Very sad -- especially when there's a For Sale sign across the street from me! This is not unique to my neighborhood - -it's a nation wide problem. But pieces of Tulsa are trying to do something. You can click here for more info.


I'm at work. I just spent 2+ hours in a meeting about web site design, navigation and so forth. I have to say I love knowing the lingo of these groups -- sub-nav, spider the site, there are so many, way too many to list. What fascinates me is the little buzz I get when they use a lingo-kind of phrase and I understand it but know it's nothing that I would ever use myself. It's that little bit of special knowledge for an "in" crowd.

Again, probably says something about my ego.

Giving without Expectation

I think of myself as a giver. I like to do things for people--bake something, make something, just for the sake of doing it. Sometimes my "need" to make something is the focus and then I have to find someone to give it to. It's not necessarily the recipient that's the focus, it's me and my need to give. Even then, it feels good. The success of this revolves around giving without expecting something in return. The minute I expect the recipient to return the favor, the ecstasy of the moment is lost and disappointment takes over. When my intention isn't pure, i.e. giving for the sake of giving, it feels more like a barter or a trading for something in return. I wrestle with whether a "thank you" is an okay expectation. I've decided that's not really giving back, it's basic manners.

I've always found it difficult to ask for what I wanted, especially in a relationship. Deep down I wanted that person to know me well enough, think of me enough, to want to do something for me, remember me, etc. I'm past that now. I don't know how to explain it, but maybe it's not requiring that recognition from someone else to make me complete. My daughter would say something about the ego here, but I'm not sure how it all fits together. It's just a gut feeling for me.

One part of the New Earth book is about giving what you don't have. Give out whatever you think people are withholding from you. And soon after you start giving, you will start receiving.

This can be hard, Tolle acknowledges. So simply acknowledge the abundance that is already in your life. See the fullness of life all around you. Be grateful for it. The warmth of the sun on your skin, the magnificent display of flowers. The rain drenching you from the skies. Nature is abundant, we just have to open our eyes to see it.

Build your inner mind in this fashion, and let your life change to match.

Enough now. I'm going to give myself a break.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Oprah's Blog

Do you really think Oprah writes her own blog? I guess it's possible but somehow I see someone doing it for her. Not that it matters. She's so nonchalant about being with Tina and Cher and the high-rolling digs in Vegas -- just trying to be real. Maybe that's why we love her. She's real.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cougars for Cook

I am totally intrigued with the Cougars for Cook phenom. Intrigued and maybe a little embarrassed because I have become almost obsessed with his path to instant stardom. I thought at first that I would record his TV appearances, after all, he's from Tulsa, sort of, then immediately after he was on Ellen, I noticed that every single day, several times a day, on all kinds of shows, there he was. I gave that up idea. I don't know what it is about the young man that has captured so many "older women." Like he said, it's amazing what a haircut and forgetting to shave can do. Quite amusing, actually. I don't know that it's the haircut; don't know that it's the scruff. I love his gravelly voice. I'd download his version of Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" in a minute. One article I read compared the two Davids like this "do you want a sexy man or a Webkinz come to life?" I thought that was pretty funny. Everyone needs a heart throb. This week it's David Cook.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Better Mousetrap

I think Ralph Waldo Emerson is the one who said "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door" and judging from the offerings at the local hardware store, quite a few people are testing his theory. I was shocked to see so many different kinds of mousetraps on the shelf -- everything from electronic traps (actually shocks them to death) to glue traps; packages of gooey paste for bait, live traps, easy-to-load traps and the all-time favorite regular little wooden mousetrap. This doesn't even include the ultrasonic sound traps that just drive them away.

Pests. Rodents. I was looking for a product to deter the rabbits from eating my plants. Last year my Diamond Frost was the star of the season and I couldn't figure out why it was down to the nubs until last night when I saw a baby rabbit feasting. I'm not interested in killing them, just want them to look elsewhere for food. This product is supposed to deter them with odor. Hope it doesn't waft up to the deck.

Monday, May 26, 2008

New Look, New Lease

I need to get outta this rut so I thought I'd brighten up my blog page. A small start. For whatever reason, I'm just not inspired lately. I look at my magazines and see great ideas but I can't find the where-with-all to jump in and try anything. Today it's raining so I won't be able to use working outside as an escape -- maybe I'll make myself do something creative, anything, to jumpstart this head (or is it heart) of mine.

On the flip side though, because I'm not working inside doing anything, my outside world is looking great. I'm getting rid of a ton of monkey grass that has taken over the azalea bed. I advertised it on craigslist as "FREE--you dig it, you keep it" and I got 9 responses. Two people came over yesterday and dug for about an hour each and there's still plenty left. Come to think of it, that's pretty creative thinking:)

I'm wrestling with adjusting to the way age (and probably menopause) is affecting my body. It's downright depressing. I look in the mirror and I don't even recognize my body sometimes. It's a constant head dialogue of should I eat this, give up this, try this, why don't I exercise more, I should lift weights, stand up straight, try pilates, throw out clothes that don't fit, be comfortable, forget it, no more wine, to hell with it, and so forth. It gets really old. But this morning as I sit with the doors open, listening to birds sing about the rain, I love life--including my ample body.

My expectations for myself have always a little out of whack. Maybe it's time to work on releasing some of that.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Live every day

The recent death of a contemporary, a counterpart, a woman I've admired, is one of those events that has startled me into awareness of everything I have. How much there is to be grateful for -- like every minute of every day. It makes me want to savor the sacred in the ordinary. To let loose that poet that lives deep inside me.

When I hear people say to live every day so that if it's over tomorrow, you'll be content, it's easy to feel like they mean to leave nothing undone, that it's necessary to experience it all. For me, living every day and feeling good about it is more and more about being still and being aware; about seeing and not getting caught up in the daily frenzy of doing. I want to experience life but I also need to reflect on it.

For the past three or four months, I've been acutely aware of not having creative juices flowing through me. I've had no creative energy. I know it's not gone for good; I know I haven't lost it or somehow run out of it. It's just a hiatus. But I wonder why. For some reason, I've not been meant to create right now. For some reason, my spirit has been required to be still.

Tomorrow, for me, a new sun will rise. Maybe a surge of energy will come. For Sharon, her spirit will be freed and she will fly away.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Odyssey of the Mind

This year I became aware of Odyssey of the Mind, an international program that teaches kids creative problem solving. It's all about thinking outside the box. I attended the regional tournament of my grandson who was in the first level of Odyssey.

The problem for this group of K-2 students was to create a situation where a character keeps waking up in a different time and/or place from where it fell asleep. Their explanation for waking up in different places was all about falling asleep while reading a book and the dream state that ensued, depending on the book they were reading. Their solution was someone falling asleep on a cardboard bed, the bed turning into a giant clock and the "dream people" coming to life. The longer I think about it, the better I like it.

The props, costumes and ideas have to come from the kids and not the parents. As I hovered over a 7 year old boy being forced to learn to sew in order to meet the requirements, him stretching to reach the sewing machine pedal and holding his banana "costume" taut as he sewed a yellow tube, I loved the Odyssey coaches for advancing this level of creativity and giving kids the chance to own a solution to a problem, to stretch their minds and abilities to levels they would never approach otherwise. I loved that after he sewed his yellow tube, he asked, "So, how do they make shirts?"

Regardless how his team does in the competition, he learned more than he will realize for many years. I want to applaud every child who dares to color outside the lines.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Oh, Leslie

We were watching 60 minutes and I kept commenting on Leslie Stahl's lipstick so much that I wondered if I was the only one who thought she had adopted the idea of "coloring outside the lines" as her own. Lo and behold, I found this great photo (click on "photo" to see it) and someone who shared my sentiments to a T. He wrote "At the risk of sounding a little too “Jerry Seinfeld” I’m going to start by asking, “Am I the only one who notices the fact that Leslie Stahl, venerable reporter with CBS News best known for her long-standing gig with 60 Minutes, doesn’t seem to know how to apply her own lipstick?
OK, in her defense, I’d have to guess that Leslie doesn’t actually apply her own make-up before going on camera for 60 Minutes. It’s not absolutely certain but she no doubt has a professional make-up artist doing that for her, albeit only with her direction."

Keep in mind, I really like Leslie. I just can't believe no one is paying attention to her lipstick. Who are these makeup and fashion consultants anyway? Wake up out there! Leslie is talented and a great role model for the 40-somethings who can look forward and see that there is life after 40. She's not a bad model for us 60-somethings either. She just needs to lose the orange lipstick and color inside the lines.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Is bigger better?

"Oh, I love them," she said, as she pulled up her t-shirt right there in the nail salon. "And they only cost $4700. Look how small the incision is." And with that statement, she pulled her t-shirt higher to reveal a small slit in her armpit.

Here we were in a strip mall nail salon and this young woman was showing everyone her "new" breasts. They were just another accessory, it seemed. The fascinating part was her excitement -- a single mom, no boyfriend -- "these" were just for her. Although, as my sister pointed out, maybe now she'll have a boyfriend since she's a full D+size -- if the lack of these D beauties were affecting her self-esteem, that is.

What is it with women and their breasts? Are we so connected to image and others' opinions of breasts that it does that much to change our image of ourselves? What exactly is it that breasts mean? Some will say that sagging breasts equal aging, yet, this young woman was not close to aging. Her main achievement with these new ones was that she "loved" being able to wear a shirt without a bra and still look good. That is worth $4700? There were, however, a few rules:
1. She had to sleep in a sports bra for a year.
2. There could be no sucking on them for 6 months for fear of an infection.
3. She had to sleep with some type of a strap around her chest for a month to "settle" them in.
4. And without even requiring it, she would definitely "Admire them daily:)

For her, it was definitely worth it. During the one hour+ that we shared the space in a strip mall nail salon, she uttered the phrase "I love them" no fewer than 6 times.

I went home and looked in the mirror. I wasn't the least bit unhappy with what I saw.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

One of Many

I received an email today that the illustration I submitted to be considered for inclusion in Patti Digh's book "Life is a Verb" is in the finals. I don't know exactly what this means, in that I don't if I'm in a pool of 2 or of 20, but it's still really cool to hear "you're one of the finalists." How cool would it be to be "published"

Of the ones that I submitted, this is the only one I think has a chance --

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Right or Left

I got a phone call this afternoon that a friend had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, had had surgery and was now facing weeks of chemo and radiation. She’s an artist and the tumor was on the right side of her brain. It’s unclear at this point how much of her creativity will be affected. This is not a close friend, but someone that I’ve always felt could be a close friend and someone whose work I’ve admired. The minute I hung up, I could not stop crying. It was as if a wall came down. I don’t know if I cried for her, for lost creativity or for fear of losing my own. Even now, an hour later, as I write this, I’m blinded by tears and am having a really hard time allowing myself to cry without wanting to analyze it. My left brain keeps taking over --

The good news is that her sense of humor is intact evidenced by her husband's report that she can't decide what color to dye her new fuzz that's growing in on her shaved head.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

How Art Happens

Artists everywhere have sayings about using goofs or splats to their advantage, like "If you can't cover it, feature it" -- things like that. And it works. How many smudges of paint or ink have been turned into delightful illustrations we'll never know. I know that I have taken many pieces to another level only because I messed it up.

I can't say I've been working on this piece for over a year---that would be insane because it has only three words on it. But those three words have been like an albatross for over a year. And, it's something I really wanted to finish and HAD to finish, if only because of the three words --- "Never give up." Except it wasn't just three words, because people usually say "Never never never NEVER give up." It's attributed to Winston Churchill, but in my research I don't find that he actually said those words, just something like it. Nevertheless those additional three "nevers" held me up big time.

The project began with the assignment to draw Romans with serifs, transfer the quote to black paper using white transfer paper, paint the letters in white, then paint the letters in a range of colors (the underpainting of white makes the color pop more). After I completed the big Never Give Up, I let the piece reside in a drawer for a long time while I tried to figure out what to do with the other "nevers." I finally decided to make "coins" with the word "never" on them and float them at the top of the page. I made three coins using Sculpy, painted them, tried many different techniques to get the lettering to stay, then covered them with the Diamond Glaze to give them a raised look. Now all I had to do was hang them from the top. The coin part of the project took me about three months.

I swear I did three. They were all there that morning. But when I went in to work on the last step of placement, there were only two. I freaked. The first one I could blame was the cat. The coin would be perfect to bat around our hardwood floors. I got the flashlight and crawled around the house. I looked under every dusty bed, sofa, door frame, under rugs. I even went through the big trash that has been collected and emptied that day. No luck. So this morning, I looked at the two coins and my three words and tried to make them work. I wonder now if I need a coin at all. I definitely know that two coins don't work. Maybe only one is needed. I've tried it center, left and right. I'm wondering now about hanging it from a long strand and letting it sit in the lower right corner. Sort of the last word. Sooner or later I'm going to get this finished --- if for no other reason than because I can't give up.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Normal Again

After I've been traveling a lot and pushing pushing pushing, and then I allow myself one real day to do what I want to do (i.e. yesterday's banner) I wake up and I feel normal again. I realize that I've allowed the bizzare to become the norm in order to survive the craziness. It feels so good to feel normal again.

Monday, March 3, 2008

This is a Banner Day!

I finished a project today that's been six weeks in the making -- it's a Happy Birthday banner for my grandchildren. I love the idea of this being dragged out every year, the edges eventually softening and the corners curling up. It's not inconceivable that it could be hung as many as three or four times a year. It's been a real feel-good project. It's especially a feel-good for me because I was able to parcel it out and complete it in the midst of an exhausting travel month. The letters were hand-stitched on airplanes, in waiting rooms and even in a lounge chair on a Cancun beach.

One interesting observation for me was that when I cut the patterns for the letters out, I did it freehand and was surprised at how easy it was. The feel for shape and proportion from my calligraphy clicked in and transferred itself right down through the scissors. It was extremely fascinating to me. And when I layed the letter on the felt, voila, it had a built up or pressurized serif. Not very many people will enjoy that.

The banner is made out of felt squares about 8". The letters are also felt and are hand-stitched with 6 strands of embroidery floss. I ended up adding a back to the squares and machine-stitching around the edges and the top casing. I threaded them all on a strand of jeweler-decoration hemp and left 5 ft. at each end to use for hanging. Below is a picture of the finished banner and a detail of one letter.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Breakfast Out

An early morning walk at the river, about the time the homeless were brewing their coffee on the camp fire, and I found myself smiling at the memory of breakfast cooked on an open fire at the zoo. My parents occasionally would pack a box on Saturday morning with a cast iron skillet, a loaf of bread, some bacon, eggs and even though I don't remember, I'm guessing real plates--I don't remember us using paper plates--and we'd drive across town to the zoo, which had acres of park connected. As a child, it seemed like we drove a great distance for our countryside cookout. Picnic tables, camp fire stations, big rocks to walk on top of, it was like a mini-vacation on a Saturday morning. I wonder now what prompted them to think of that. It was never a full day event. We just cooked breakfast, played a little and went home. No Saturday morning doughnut shops for us -- of course, at that time the doughnuts were sold door-to-door in little white paper sacks, 6 glazed for 50 cents.

Sometimes I miss the June Cleaver days.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Perseverance of the Butterfly

I can't stop thinking about Jean-Dominique Bauby, the author and subject of the movie "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." He was editor-in-chief of Elle magazine in Paris when he had a massive stroke and went into a coma. When he regained consciousness he couldn't speak, and could only move his left eyelid. The movie is about him writing his book by blinking his left eye to communicate the letters. It's an incredible story.

I wonder how much we'd say if we had to communicate like that. How short would our sentences be? What would go unsaid? It's hard enough to have feelings and thoughts and not be able to verbalize them with all the words available.

I was amazed at how much description he put in his sentences; the feelings that he described and the analogies used. Of course, he was a writer to begin with, being editor of Elle. When he died 10 days after the book was published, it seemed that writing the book had been his reason for living.

Don't we all wonder, just a little, not wanting to tempt the fates, but still we wonder, how we would persevere in such a situation. Stories like this and having friends with cancer make me embarrassed for not making the most of every single day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bad Haircuts & Life

A bad haircut can sure screw up your karma. I hate that it's so, but it's true. And right now, I'm blaming myself. I did not even try to explain what I wanted -- I thought based on what I had, she would know. Her vision and my vision ne'er did meet. And what flashed through my mind at this very minute was the symbolism of how that relates to other aspects of life. If what we want goes unstated, we're at the mercy of whoever is willing to speak up, whoever is willing to act.

I tend to let life come rather than make it happen. It's worked for me, but every now and then I want more say-so. A good resolve for 2008 perhaps. Make it happen. Visualize the result I'm wanting. First I have to know what I want.