Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Art Dog Park

I went to my calligraphy guild meeting last night; the program was collage cards. Who knew it could be so tedious and nerve wracking to glue scraps of paper and add a few beads or buttons? Believe it or not, there's a system to it. There's a strategy for our choices and our intentions. It's the disciplined freedom, the method in our madness, and so on. The idea of "rules" or "guidelines" for art may seem counter-intuitive, but it's just the opposite. To quote Christine Kane, "It’s tempting to think that a system would stifle your emotions. But actually, a system provides boundaries. It’s like taking your emotions to the dog park. They have a fenced in area where they can run around."

I love the idea of my emotions (and creativity) being at a dog park, running free, chasing, knowing when I have to stop. I love the energy that the idea generates. It almost leaves me breathless to think about it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

On the Fringe

I'm getting very close to what many are calling my "retirement," although I don't agree with them. I AM cutting back work hours and work commitments, but I don't consider it retirement, per se. I guess because I will maintain a certain level of "gotta show up and perform" in my week, it doesn't feel or sound like "retirement" to me. It almost just sounds more civilized. People keep asking, "What are you going to do?" to the point that I am sick of that question. I want to scream I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'LL DO. I don't know any more than I know when I get up on any given Saturday. I don't want to plan right now. I want to experience the feeling of nothing to do. I want to willingly enter the unknown. I want to travel for a while without a road map. I want to take each day as a true present-day miracle.

The last two days I've been working outside and I'm always surprised how therapeutic gardening can be, not to mention, physical. I've got tons of weeds and cleaning out to do, which is truly the physical part. But the soothing part, the therapeutic part was planting some lavender, thyme, rosemary and basil. Oh, the fragrances. My oregano and parsley came back from last year so the oregano is already a nice size.

My garden has a new helpmate or muse or guardian this year. As my sister disassembled her life, she asked me if I would take care of Megan, a statuary that looks just like her very own daughter Megan when she was a young soccer player. Same number on her jersey and all. That may sound corny, but I think there's going to be something a little sentimental about having Megan out there in the back yard. Just this morning, as I planted and watered, she tumbled over and got her knees and face all muddy. I actually found myself saying, "Oh Megan. Look at you." She really looked like she just got off the soccer field. A little hose-down though and she was back to her perky self. Megan, if you're out there reading this, welcome to my world. I'll take good care of you.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stand By Me

Must be Music Week. Thanks to Reggie Ezelle for getting this to me in a round-a-bout way. He writes, "This is one of the best pieces of sound engineering work I think I have ever seen. It is a composite audio/video of song whereby additional tracks were laid in by different singers and musicians from different places around the world. The finished product is tremendous!

"The song itself is that classic standard "Stand By Me" originally released in 1955 by The Staple Singers and released again in 1961 by the Drifters." Thank you Reggie!

Turn up your volume and and get ready to tap your toes.

Click here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Julie Andrews Would Be Proud!

I could watch this over and over. I smile just thinking about it. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I don't have a vanity plate because I haven't been able to think of anything I feel strongly enough about to want to announce to the world. I enjoy, though, sitting at a stop light trying to figure out the plate ahead of me and wondering what happened in their life that made them want to put that on a license tag. A news item this morning struck me as pretty funny, although to the woman who made the request and was turned down, I'm sure it wasn't the least bit funny.

Seems that the Colorado Department of Revenue rejected her request for a license plate professing her love of tofu over concerns that it could be seen as obscene. Her request for a personalized plate with the phrase "ILVTOFU" was rejected due to concerns that it could be misread as "I-LV-TO-F-U."

Did you know there are rules against certain letter combinations? F-U is one such combination.

"I love tofu; it doesn't mean anything bad," she said of her license plate request. "I'm very expressive, I'm anti-fur, anti-rodeo, anti-circus when they come to Denver and I thought here's a chance to be positive and say I love something."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Viva la difference

The more I think about it, the more I walk through my house, the more I realize I could not do what Jennifer is doing. Selling everything she owns and leaving. I have to be careful not to over analyze the difference. It is what it is. I realize I AM content. I realize I AM happy. I realize my heart is filled with gratitude. The things I'm grateful for aren't big things or complicated things. Here are ten things that come to mind this morning.

1. The volunteer redbud that has thrived and grown to bloom its heart out this spring.

2. Starbucks espresso coffee (especially this morning).

3. A husband that dares to seize his inner designer and rearrange the "tablescape" in the kitchen.

4. A sister who doesn't keep credit card receipts but kept all my letters in chronological order and tied them with a ribbon.

5. A cat who wants to be in the same room with me all the time.

6. Big white azaelas that seem to have survived two bizarre nights of freezing temperatures in April and still promise blooms.

7. A daughter who never fails to make me laugh.

8. A drawer full of fresh vegetables to make my lunch.

9. My clean white sweatpants that make my morning so cozy.

10. The hint of pink in the morning sky that lets me know today is dawning.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Symphony is Sizzling

With my sister getting ready to move, she is uncovering all sorts of interesting things, one being a box of letters from me going back about 34 years when she was in Seattle. These are real letters . . . in envelopes . . . typed on a typewriter; a pouring out of emotion one only tells a sister. One sentence I loved was "I long for one of our long conversations that resolve nothing but covers everything."

These letters are about as close to a journal as anything I have. It's amazing to me how unfamiliar some of the drama seemed and at the same time, the rush of memories that began flooding me. One letter detailed a "crush" I had had on a violinist/conductor. The excitement of watching him perform; the invitation to a concert; my description of what fascinated me about him. "He enters through the exits and leaves through the entrance; he talks about things I seldom allow myself to think." I had no illusion of a relationship, per se, but saw it more as an affair, even though both of us were unattached. It was exciting to me but I don't remember much more than what was in the letter. My sister reminded me that's when she sent me this apron. I'm glad she kept the letters. I'm equally glad I kept the apron.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Guud Zjob!

I was at the gym today and even though the weight area was filled with sweaty guys grunting and groaning, I was determined to start my quest for those toned arms. With my little 8 lb. weight I finally got up the nerve to get right in the middle of it and use one of the empty benches for my tricep work. There were these giant weights at the end of the bench and it wasn't long before I realized I was using the bench of someone who'd been taking his pause between sets. Since I was doing one arm then turning and doing the other arm, I just kept going. I could see his feet pacing. When a bench opened up a few benches down, I told him I could move since my weights were not nearly as heavy as his. "No, no, no. Stay," he said. And I did. Finishing my routine with no grunting, I put my weight up, the swarthy Italian, dripping with sweat and wearing those little gloves with the fingers cut out, stopped and gave me a thumbs up. "Guud zjob," he said. For some reason, I felt so proud.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Keeper of the Stuff

My sister is leaving the US and moving to Germany for a job for an undetermined length of time. To do so means going through her lifetime accumulations and deciding what to sell or give away and what to take and or keep (i.e. put in storage). Any move makes you do that, but to move abroad makes the task much more intent. One thing this seems to do is encourage you to examine who you are and what "stuff" means to you. The other thing I'm seeing is having to determine what your role is in terms of other people's stuff, i.e. your kids. How long do you remain the keeper of school books, favorite sweaters and kindergarten drawings? Where do you draw that line and say "Here's your stuff. You're in charge."

My dad sold all of my high school treasures in a garage sale (without telling me) right after my mom died when I was 22. My pep club sweater and jacket would probably still be in an attic if he hadn't. And all my old sweetheart letters were tossed. How musty would they be now and who would be in charge of them? And you know what? It doesn't matter that I don't have them.

When my (current) husband and I got married, there were many times we referred to something we used to have but had "lost in the divorce." There was a certain amount of resentment associated with that statement. One day we talked about people losing everything they owned in a tornado and how miraculously life seemed to continue. We agreed at that moment to refer to anything we had lost in a divorce as "I lost that in the tornado." Somehow the resentment disappeared and we were happy to be where we were in our lives.

There's something liberating about giving up possessions. Having our identity tied to our possessions is sad, but very easy to do. I do it, I know I do.

What could you give up and still be you?


Last night I tried the grain quinoa for our complex carb at dinner. Pronounced keen-wa, it's most like couscous in weight and texture. I cooked it with garlic, onion, and chicken broth. Takes about 15 minutes. It's the only grain (as I understand it) that is a complete protein. It's a great substitute for wheat bulgur in tabouli.

This morning was a very filling bowl of 5-grain "oatmeal," cooked with soy milk and a couple of scoops of protein powder. I used Truvia for sweetner and some cinnamon. A few walnuts and 1/4 apple and I should be set for the next 3-4 hours.

Day 3 and still going strong.