Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day and Sand Tarts

So it's Christmas Day, 2007. It happens to coincide with my 200th post. Thank you and big cyber hugs to the three readers who've stuck with me through ups, downs, daily postings, and weeks in between nuggets of wisdom, sarcasm, wit, and the occasional inspiration. Without you three... well, I probably would've quit altogether some months ago.

Today, seeing as how some people actually celebrate this holiday with warm fuzzy feelings, I will not embrace my inner snark, and instead be of good cheer. Well, be of decent cheer. Today I will bestow glad tidings of great....

No, I won't go that far. But surely you loyal readers saw that one coming.

Today, I will share with you my grandmother's recipe for Sand Tarts, a traditional southern Christmas cookie:

Sand Tarts --

1 lb. oleo
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 c. flour (add slowly)
2 T. ice water
2 T. vanilla
2 c. chopped pecans

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes



The recipe is wholly wrong.

I followed it and I did not end up with anything sandy or tarty. I ended up with an oozed cookie with a pecan in the center. When I tried to remove it from the cookie sheet, it crumbled. Though this recipe will make your house smell incredible... I'll give it that.

For a real, workable sand tart recipe written by someone that didn't have dementia when she wrote it, go here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Aftertaste

I still haven't washed the commercial after-taste of Christmas out of my mouth. Maybe that's because it's only December 20. More than likely, it's because when I bite down on a grudge, I really grip it hard and it mixes with my saliva for a while before I give it up again. And Christmas is one big humbug for me.

In fact, were I a biologist that discovered a new species of bug of any type, I'd name it the "Humbug" because I could.

It's not that I don't share a soft-spot for Christmas songs and hot wassail and kissing under the mistletoe. I do. In fact, I can be quite romantic over chestnuts roasting on an open fire. The key here is that I *can* be. Once I've vomited out ever kiss beginning with Kay and the one-day-only sales at JC Penney's and Kohl's and whatever the toy of the year is and however long the lines are to get it. That remind me, I need to go buy High School Musical 2 as a gift.... At least I can put that one off till tomorrow, as it's not in the stores yet.

Today I'm especially enlightened towards the jaded side. There is no reason. No cosmic cause. It's just fun to embrace the cynic in me during a time when I have nothing better to do than be cynical.

As a mom, I find it necessary to feed, bathe, and love my kids. I don't feel the need to put up a Christmas tree and decorate the house with garland and lights. So when presents wrapped in red and green paper arrived by post, I piled them "under" a side table with a lovely floral arrangement created by me in silk flowers reminiscent of the exotic plants for which they were inspired. By chance, the arrangement also happens to be red and green. Yay for Christmas spirit.

A dear friend of mine has it exactly right. She and her husband are leaving on a jet plane Christmas Eve to spend a week in Jamaica. "To hell with this holiday" is my paraphrased version of her thoughts. I'm jealous; why didn't I think of that?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Here we go a Caroling

Time to start humming off-key as we gear up for a month long celebration (read: exploitation) of Christmas events. For those of you who prefer your religious affiliations to be something else, make a mental change of "Christmas" to whatever you prefer.

I've already attended one parade, turned my car stereo to the channel playing holiday tunes 24/7, and have begun mailing gifts and planning meals.

So how many know the history of Christmas? Not the "celebration of Christ's birthday" (O Holy Night...) -- which is closer to August or September rather than December -- but the pagan-based celebration that was tied to the winter solstice? The one where they hung bull balls to a tree as symbols of fertility? Think of that next time you look at the Christmas ball ornaments you've so carefully hung. (O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...) Mistletoe has origins in fertility customs as well. Yule logs are tied to the Sun God, among other things. Reindeer are symbolic of the Stag God (Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer....). The list goes on and on. Christians adopted the holiday as an opportunity to worship in secret. And there's plenty of controversy as to whether or not the pagan origins and the Christian meanings should still be tied together, in religious as well as secular sects.

Link
Link
Link

And when you get bored with those, google "Christmas pagan holiday" and overfill your cup of eggnog on facts and tidbits of knowledge.

(Mary did you know....?)

For me, it's just another opportunity for commercial giants to lure me into purchasing stuff people don't need in my greenbacked attempts to prove some superficial measure of love for them. On that note... it's time for me to go shopping for those last-minute gift ideas. (City sidewalks dressed in holiday style.....)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

counting calories

I am not a successful calorie counter. I find it takes all the enjoyment out of eating. And I do like to eat. Now, while many of you will get preconceived notions of a pint of ice cream or a bag of chips, that would be wrong. i like grilled zucchini and fresh salads and local strawberries and slow cooked meats (chicken, turkey, beef).... I am eclectic as a fan of food, and I do enjoy the occasional piece of pie... but the whole thing is "enjoy". I like to enjoy my food.

So occasionally I read labels for caloric content. Usually I read labels for sodium content, being allergic to iodine. But occasionally, I get kick out of calorie counting. Take Doritos, for example. Roughly 13 chips is equivalent to 150 calories. Now who eats 13 chips? I'd say that on estimate, the average person eats a third to a half a bag at a time. Let's just call 13 chips an ounce. It's actually a little more, as roughly 11 chips are considered an ounce. But for easy math, and because my easy math will drive my Statistics friend nuts, we're going with this.

So a 12 oz bag is 12 servings totallying 156 chips. If one eats a third a bag at a sitting, or 52 chips, then one is consuming 600 calories. Now many people consider a 600 calorie meal somewhere between "acceptable" to "high". But this is no meal, this is a bag of chips. and many people eat half a bag or better at a time (so I'm told).

Leaving the snack of a bag of chips alone, let's consider a 2 serving handful of Doritos in a lunch with pb&j and a soda. An average brown bag for a school kid, minus the soda in many places, and an easy lunch for an employee on a budget or a timeline.

2 oz Doritos = 300 calories
can of RC soda = 160 calories (and 50 mg of sodium, I might add)
2 slices wheat bread = 140 cal
2 tbsp peanut butter = 210 cal
1 tbsp blackberry jam = 60 cal

And let's just replace that soda with some orange juice... 120 cal per cup (not per glass, per measuring cup). That's also 28g of sugar per cup too. But this is just because people see fruit juice as so much healthier calorically than soda. Realistically it's not that much different. Given that that soda is 160 calories for 12 oz and the OJ is 120 for roughly 8 oz... *shrug* do your own math.

But back to my example. A few chips, a pb&j, and a can of soda is a snack lunch of 810 calories. If you're on a 2,000 calorie diet, then you just ate almost half your daily allotment of food, unless you're gonna spend the rest of the day eating celery with no spread at all.

Now for the segue. No one looks at you like you're a horrible person for eating an 810 calorie pb&j with a soda and some chips. But got help you if you bring in a McDonald's bag, even if it's a salad and a bottled water. The marketing giants have done a good job of making the "Golden Arches" a nasty trigger word associated with slovenly people hell-bent on eating themselves into obesity and early death. It's ridiculous. And McDonald's, for their part, have gone a long way to introduce a menu filled with grilled chicken, salads, fruit options, and even "specialty coffees" for the latte set. Sheesh. While I understand that economics drive both the marketing ploys set forth -- one to promote health foods, diet pills, health care and insurance reform (and by "reform", I don't really mean true reform), the other side works to reinvent themselves as part of a "healthy choice lifestyle".

Fact is, you can get fat on pb&j's and chips if you're not gonna bother exercising. Fact it, you can eat McDonald's quarter pounders if you're going to baby your body in overall health. Not "baby" like treat it delicately. "Baby" it like you would a classic muscle car in cherry condition. Keep it well oiled, tuned up, and taken around the track to blow out the engine and keep it running smooth.

What the marketing giants have not addressed with all of this is perhaps the single most important factor in eating, dieting, and just about everything else in life -- COMMON SENSE.

Ooh, but those are trigger words no one wants to touch.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

Today was Black Friday, the day when crazy people looking for good deals wake up at insane hours of the morning or camp out overnight outside their retailer of choice to be among the first to purchase an item that will be on sale for only a few short hours.

This year, I was directly involved in such insanity. It was all over a 19" widescreen computer monitor, on sale for about half of it's regular price. And fortunately, after three days of internet scoping, reading circulars, and comparing advertisements, settling on Staples as the retailer of choice proved adventagious. While most of the packed parking lot was filled with anxious Wally World shoppers and some Kohl's treasure seekers, Staples was underestimated by comparison. Getting in, grabbing the goods, and getting out was pretty simple. Almost simple enough to cause me to think that there's nothing to this Black Friday shopping. But I've got a full 365 days to decide if I really want to make a habit of braving the stores on Black Friday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hot Head

A year or so ago I had a small gathering of friends, and we sat in my back yard under the stars grouped around my chiminea with glasses of wine or beer in our hands. My dear friend Jon and I took charge of the chiminea.

Now, two admitted pyromaniacs should not share responsibilities involving flames. Granted, we are tongue-in-cheek pyromaniacs... we enjoy a good fire, and all things related.

We took to task of getting the kindling underneath the cedar and pine logs, and were all ready to light the kindling. My hair, past shoulder length, was wound in a loose bun -- a small detail that will come into play shortly. I was on my knees, lighter in hand, ready to go. At the same moment, my (not too attentive) friend Jon sprayed lighter fluid on the fire at the same time I struck the lighter.

Fire exploded out in a neat fireball and a soft whoosh. And my hair caught fire. The smell of one's on hair burning is not a pleasant one. The good news is that only a few small tendrils near my temples burned. The bad news is that we're a year later... and those small tendrils now stick out of my head in an unruly manner when my hair is pulled back. Just a few more inches to go, Jon, before it's all grown back!



*Footnote: I do not start fires with Jon anymore.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanks for Giving us a Break

It the Monday before Thanksgiving. It's a time when grocery stores advertise their specials on turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pies. People are hard at work on a short week to meet all sorts of deadlines, finish projects they've been procrastinating on, and striving to feel that they can justify taking off one or three days this week to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Some will wear themselves out cooking and entertaining at their homes. Others will round up the kids, pile into the family car carrying casserole dishes and desserts, and drive however long it takes to get to grandma's house or auntie's or whatnot. College kids may or may not return home, and many will feel the stress of trying to get along with people they'd rather avoid all in the name of "giving thanks".

Let me tell you a story about Giving Thanks.

In 1991, a very respectable family in Branson, Missouri was gathering over Thanksgiving for just such a holiday. The eldest daughter had returned from college, and the youngest daughter and only son were enrolled as a sophomore and a junior in high school, respectively. The father was a very successful man in the insurance industry, and for the life of me I cannot remember what the mother did. I do know that she had recently struggled with cancer and subsequent depression. It was widely rumored that she took lithium and prozac -- prescribed by two different doctors that had no idea of the other medication. It was widely believed that the cocktail mix of lithium and prozac played a strong role in the holiday's concluding events.

What I can tell you with absolute certainty is that on the morning of December the 1st, the last day before the eldest daughter was to return to college, the mother rose early, retrieved a gun that she had recently purchased, and walked into her daughters' room, shooting each of them in their beds. They died instantly. The noise woke her husband and son, and in the confusion, both son and husband were shot, although one did manage to get a call to 911 off during the battle. She then turned the gun on herself and killed herself. It is also rumored that she had made comments along the lines of "wanting her family to walk through the pearly gates of heaven arms linked".

The husband died on the way to the hospital from his gunshot wound. The son, in another ambulance, went into a coma, where he remained for two weeks. When he woke from his coma, he was to learn that not only was every other member of his immediate family dead, but that the funerals had already occurred as well. He was the sole inheritor of his father's insurance policies -- small consolation, if any.

His younger sister was his best friend. I can tell you that with certainty. He was close to every member of his family. He was an orphan by violent means, and by his mother's own hand.

His younger sister, Mary Beth, was a dear friend of mine. She called me "bootiful". We were in high school, so when bored, we wrote notes to each other in class. Her notes always ended with "Margo, you're so bootiful!" and each one game me reason to smile.

Mary Beth was a vibrant blond-haired blue eyed sweetheart with an incomparable heart for compassion and joy. She was intelligent, talented, and well-liked. Her smile could light up a person's heart. I did not know her brother much at all, despite my friendship with Mary Beth. But I know how much she loved him, and she only loved those she deemed worthy of it.

She was sixteen years old that Thanksgiving. Her sister was nineteen. Her brother was only seventeen. He struggled with school after that, and became a bit reckless, but as I can only speak on the personal observations I had, I will not elaborate at all. I hear he has graduated college, married, and has begun a family of his own. I hope he has and wish him well.

While the rest of us struggle with dry turkey and instant potatoes at dinner tables we'd rather not be at, let us try to remember that in an instant even the opportunity to give thanks can be taken away from us. Let us try to remember that even if we don't like our family, don't respect them... that they are indeed family, and take a moment to honestly be thankful for what we do have, instead of lament it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Randomness on Wednesday

Normally I prefer to come to my keyboard ready to say something brilliant, and settle for saying something at all. Today is another rare day that is more free-writing and less formed thought. Sadly, I'll probably end up as poignant as always. See that one how you will.

This morning began with a little Skysurfer Strike Force and my son and I curled up on the couch. Let me tell you, the dvd sell at the local Walmart for a buck, but maybe they should sell for $1.50 for their continued entertainment value. Read that one as you will also. I would like to note that the production team is deaf, as all four videos are EXTREMELY LOUD!!! Sorry for the caps, but I had to yell over the TV for a moment.

Now I'm blogging before starting my day, so unfortunately I can't retell any anecdotes beyond this one. I'm sure I can drag something about yesterday or the day before up, but that wouldn't flow well with the timeline I've set forth here, and I don't feel like editing and rewriting so that it will.

Maybe I'll go cook breakfast and see if I can not burn my hand like I did yesterday. The funny thing is that I burned my hand getting the pot from the dishwasher to the stove. Metal handle... fresh out of the heated dry cycle of the dishwasher... you see where I'm going with this. Were I a litigious type, I'm sure I could fabricate a lawsuit out of that incident and could go down in history next to the McDonald's coffee lady. Oh, and if I hear of anyone suing over this issue, I'll sue you for stealing my idea!!

Did you notice how I pulled an anecdote from yesterday into my timeline? Yeah, I'm that good :D Now I'm off to make breakfast....

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hats

So many hats to choose from -- which will I wear today? There's the mom hat, the lover hat, the upstanding member of society hat, the other hats people put on me: daughter, woman, writer, homemaker....

I am all those things. Sometimes I'm cooking dinner and bathing the kidlet. Sometimes I'm vacuuming and dusting. Sometimes I'm tied to the bed and sometimes I'm doing the tying. Some might be outwardly shocked to find out that I can and do enjoy carnal sex as a woman. Some might want to tuck their toys away deeper into dresser drawers before acting like they've never had an orgasm.

It seems that sex is used as a weapon to separate the God-fearing Christians from the rest of the heathens. Well, if you're a believer in God, how can you not believe that it was His gift to His children? And if you don't believe in God, then why does it matter that God-fearing people enjoy sex? But before this turns into a blog about God, let me just say, it's not. It's about sex as a weapon.

There's the rape aspect of this topic. I'm not touching on it at this time. Maybe later; maybe not.

But we use sex to classify people these days: monogamous, hetero-/homosexual, swinger, BDSM, Dom/domme, Sub, slut, prostitute, player, cheater, hussy, cad, trollop....

It seems that once someone defines you sexually, there are certain things you cannot be. The converse is true as well. Housewives, on average, are not allowed to be sex-kittens unless they are childless and therefore trying to conceive by newlywed "hanging-from-the-chandeliers" pig sex. Mothers... well no one thinks of their mother as having sex at all, let alone kinky wild sex with leather and lace. And remember high school? If you got the reputation of being a slut, everyone wanted to date you at least once (twice if it was good or you didn't put out the first time), but no one wanted to date you seriously.

The weaponry of the sport of stereotyping sexuality is that it can cause feelings of guilt or shame or remorse. It can even cause a person to stifle that part of themselves instead of embrace it. "I'm a mom, I can't enjoy sex on the kitchen counter in the middle of the day while the baby's napping... that's just wrong!" Or "What would the church think if they found out we like to use adult toys in the bedroom!" or even something as simple as "I'm middle management... I can't just have sex in the back of the car on a date... what would my bosses say if they knew?"

Why does it matter? Why are we as a society so preoccupied with everyone else's sexual secrets to the point of keeping sexuality taboo? If you're not having sex in the auditorium during the sermon, or on your boss's desk while he's on the phone, that is. I, for one, am no June Cleaver. I do not wear aprons and crinolines. I embrace the line from Usher's song "Yeah": "a lady in the street and a freak in the bed."

Some pious, insecure types will not agree with me. Good for you. Keep your legs closed and your significant other wanting more than you'll ever be. I will continue to keep my bedroom a veritable playground. I will never let you see that in public. You won't know by the way I dress or the way I act. But men will fantasize about me and women like me. Women who know how to lust without regret or remorse. Women who make love with their entire bodies, their imaginations, and their desires.

I am no less a mother, a woman, or any hat-wearing, stereotypically-defined, descriptive noun that you want to attach to me for my carnality. And I am learning not to let my sexuality be used as a weapon against me.

I hope this rant inspires some of my readers to philosophize about their own sexuality and go pursue a good hard, guilt-free orgasm.

Friday, November 02, 2007

weight in words

My father told me he loved me four times in my life. Only one of those four was "out of the blue"; the other times surrounded funerals of family members.

On four unique days in my life, I wasn't seeking the love and approval of a male. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Daddy's Princess. After puberty I sought whatever male would smile at me and pretend to care for me. My need for some form of male acceptance led me to make stupid decisions in my life, and for a few years it seemed that those stupid decisions would compound on themselves.

I got lucky. I always had a voice in my head reminding me that I was never gonna find what I was looking for. Granted, that voice got ignored a lot, but it never shut up.

Over the years, I ended up in a series of unhealthy relationships. At times, those relationships became abusive. When they weren't abusive, I was frequently being taken advantage of and taken for granted.

My story is not like women who eventually end up beaten to death or take their own life. In the end, I never received the love and acceptance I wanted from my dad. What I did find was that my own self-worth was gonna have to be enough in place of a void left by a father that couldn't -- or simply didn't -- open his heart to his only child.

There are times when I feel the loss of a stable foundation of love from a dad, but for the most part I've learned to rely on myself. The anger is gone, as it is pointless to carry around, and as I lost him to cancer. It's hard to be angry at someone that can't defend themselves and can't make amends.

And there are those four days I have to cherish. It has to be enough... so it is.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pinnacles Part Deux

I checked another mile off of the 30 mile total. It was painfully hard. I didn't complete the 5.2 mile loop that traverses the peaks of the Pinnacles, with it's 1200+ ft. elevation and path winding through jagged rocks at the top of the mountain. I made it a third of the way to the top, maybe slightly higher. And at the top of my journey, I walked out on to a lone rock jutting out across the valley beneath. I stood and took in the full-circle view.

Off to the south the mountains opened up to show me the land rolling off into the next valley. The west overlooked the same reservoir I had climbed to on my previous visit, though it looked much smaller from where I stood, high above it. The north and east hinted at all that lay in store as my mountain trail curved around and out of sight and somewhere beyond that the land rose in red-rocked splendor as to the treasures that lay ahead.

For when I go hiking -- my not-quite four year old toddler at my side -- I go treasure hunting. My son is always looking for the elusive "x" that marks the spot where his treasure is hidden, and it's become quite the adventurous game for us. Every cave, every gnarled tree, every beautiful view... they all are treasures. The game is to find the next one. And he does! He seeks with gusto and enjoys his finds with an ever growing appreciation for the beauty of the world around us. Sometimes he scribbles his version of an "x" in the dirt with a stick and enthusiastically exclaims "I found the treasure!" and sometimes he waits for me to find it, but certainly each hike is time for us to seek and find far more than the Pinnacles themselves. There is more treasure in them hills than mere words can describe.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Creature Comforts

I got an area rug for my new place. The kind with the uber thickness that cushions the feet. You step on this thing and you sink into the floor like it's memory foam and say "mmmm, oh yeah" and then you lay down face first and just smile... and take a nap.

It's also pretty. Not Persian pretty, not Native American hand-woven pretty, just cut thread with a pattern in looped thread to make gentle swirls, scrolls and curves throughout. Think color on color fabric....

It sheds like a long-haired Himalayan cat.

Dammit.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The price of eggs

Today was a weirdly defining day for me. No awesome hiking moments, although I should add a few miles to my map this week or next... but there was this one local paper....

I picked up a copy of a local free mag -- like Georgia/South Carolina's "Skirt" magazine or Kansas City's "The Pitch" (if both of these are unfamiliar to you, don't worry, the story won't suffer for it).

There was an ad inside looking for egg donors, with a website, and advertising $3K compensation. Three grand for something I can't use anymore. So in a "what the hell" moment, I went to the website. I read through the FAQ's, the "about us" section, and got all the way to the online application. And then I went so far as to fill that out.

I got to the last two questions. They were "why do you want to be an egg donor?" and "what would you say to the recipients of your eggs?" respectively. At that moment, the only answers I had were "for the three thousand dollars" and "have you ever considered adoption?"

At that moment I knew that the money would never be a good reason, nor valid enough, for me to donate my eggs -- albeit anonymously -- to infertile couples looking for medical miracles. And the money, by the way, was potentially equal to $24,000 as they pay three grand for up to a maximum of eight egg harvestings.

*note: the next portion may be downright inflamatory for some alternately opinionated souls. But then, if the reader will check again, one will note that this blog is named "Jaded Objectivity".

But as easily as I could've written the proper fluff about how "all I want to do is assist couples trying to conceive a child and help them bring the joy of parenthood to their relationship by enabling them to expand their family..." blah, blah, blah... or "if my eggs can make another couple's dreams come true..." it would've been a bunch of bull.

There are children that need homes. Many are wards of their respective states because their parents are drug addicts, abusive, both, or something else. There are children born that aren't wanted. There are children abandoned. There are baby factory-minded women that bear children specifically to sell them in private adoption. And that's just the tip of the iceberg that is the needs of existing children in this country.

So really, my eggs don't need to be made available for some decently well-off couple with enough money and dreams to burn to spend on medical alternatives to natural conception. They are my eggs. They are neatly tucked away in side my body. To get them would be akin to mining for oil or diamonds (choose whatever metaphor you like).

Oh, and the potential for a Jerry Springer show where my son is dating his genetic half-sister twenty years from now does send a bit of a chill up my spine.

So there ya have it. I realized that while I'm sure I can be bought, my price is higher than $3K an egg harvesting. If anyone out there wants my eggs.. you're gonna have to pony up more than that. The other moral of this story is "adopt, adopt, adopt!!"

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Reservoir at the Pinnacles

The Pinnacles

October 21st is the eighteenth anniversary of the car wreck that changed my life. That day was the single-most defining day in my entire life. Not because I almost died, but because I was forever altered. Let me explain:

The morning of the twenty-first was like every other. I awoke a bright-eyed teenager, full of big dreams and immortal in my own mind. That afternoon, the injuries I suffered redefined me. When all the x-rays were taken, all the specialists were visited, and a week had passed, the injury toll stood at a concussion, several broken ribs, a broken ankle, and a sprained ankle. Doesn't sound too bad though, does it?

Seven years later I had my first reconstructive surgery to completely rebuild one ankle. Nine years following that one I had my second reconstructive surgery, completely rebuilding the other ankle. In the sixteen years between the accident and the second surgery, every single step I took was bone grinding on bone. Somehow, that detail had been missed or overlooked by numerous doctors and surgeons. I had a rap sheet pages long on countless sprains on both ankles, but who takes an ordinary young kid seriously when they assume she's crying wolf? Well, not many, it would seem. Oh, and I need a third surgery to reconstruct the first ankle... only this time I need cadaver parts, because there's nothing left in my own ankle to use to strengthen it.

But the details of the injuries don't really enlighten the reader to the scope of how my life changed. To begin with, I quit dancing. Dancers need strong ankles; that's one big dream dashed overnight. Secondly, my weak ankles wouldn't hold me up, so I quite literally sprained them from simply walking on a flat floor, nevermind stairs or hillsides or rocks or other uneven terrain. My love for the outdoors, hiking and jumping on my trampoline was benched in favor of my new parent-drilled mantra - “protecting my ankles” - which was synonymous with “sitting down and doing nothing”. My trampoline was sold.

The years became riddled with physical therapy and a parade of doctors and specialists that reviewed my case every time I moved, which was several times in those sixteen years, from family moves to going off to college and coming home and moving out on my own. I had several different versions of ankle braces, depending on the doctor's beliefs regarding my injuries and various prosthetics.

My stamina went down while my pain tolerance went up. I cannot stand for more than ten minutes, and cannot walk for more than twenty without resting. This is after two surgeries, and I am vastly improved from where I was. I can predict the weather with amazing accuracy, as barometric pressure affects each ankle differently, as do cold fronts. The arthritis in my ankles worsens every year. But my last surgeon really put a point to my injuries when she looked at the x-rays and MRI's and said “I don't know how you walked in here. These indicate you shouldn't be able to walk at all, let alone with the amount of pain you must be in.”

So here we are, two years after my second surgery, but before my third. I cannot run ever again. My ankles will not endure it. I walk with braces on both ankles to assist them. My activities are severely limited, and I have said goodbye to many dreams in the last 16 years.

The one I thought I lost forever was hiking. Not mountain climbing, with carabiners and ropes, just simple hiking with good boots and a bottle of water. This week, however, I tackled a 2.2 mile trail at the Pinnacles State Park in California. It is the trail they recommend as “good for children” with it's moderate difficulty and 400 ft. elevation. But for me, 2.2 miles was the equivalent of a marathon. It was a mental challenge as well, knowing that I'd not walked more than a mile and a half in over seventeen years, and that mile and a half was a year ago on a quarter-mile track. This was rocks and a cave and up a mountain. And then back down the mountain.

It took almost four hours. I walked with a walking stick and afterwards I walked on a cane for two days. But I did it. I walked through that cave and up that mountain, challenging my mind and body in a way it hadn't been challenged since I was a teenager. At the top was a small lake and beyond that was a rim trail that overlooked some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen – Grand Canyon and Niagra Falls included. Because this scene was hard-fought to visit. This was at the top of a mountain I'm not “supposed” to be able to walk up. I stood there, leaning heavy on my walking stick, breathless from the experience, not exhaustion. Looking upon the jagged, toothy rock formations of The Pinnacles and the rolling mountains beyond, I saw red rocks fade to brown hillsides that faded to blue land off in the distance. At that moment I was more alive than I've been since I was fifteen years old.

And I'm going back. Finally I have a new dream. There are over thirty miles of trails at Pinnacles. I'm going to walk every single one.

Monday, October 08, 2007

so here's the thing

with a brain capable of intelligent and witty banter comes great responsibility...

So I have this brain... and plenty to say... and I'm wearing a figurative ball and gag. Weird, if you know me.

But what does my adoring fanbase want to read about? Snippets of everday life? My oh-so-subtle opinion on everything under the sun? How about just a nice 5 second glimpse at photography to give you something to view daily that requires no thought unless you want to invest in thinking?

I know... the decisions are endless.

So give me a shout with your opinions, so I can attempt to make this blog again as interesting as it once was. I mean... better than ever!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

ch-ch-ch-changes

It's been a long slow road I've traveled lately. Full of hair-pin turns and unlined roads and occasionally unpaved ones.

California is beautiful. It's arid, it's sunny, it's full of a culture that is not "southern". So how did I get here?

Well, my dad. With his passing came the freedom for me to spread my own wings and chase the life I always wanted for myself.

That wing-spreading caused some spider webs to shake off, and the dust stirred up. When it all settled, my marriage was over. After much discussion and introspection, my marriage is perhaps what it always was... a great friendship. But the love that we shared was one of respect, friendship, loyalty, but not one of great passion. Perhaps one of great compromise. Turns out we were compromising on the wrong things, and not at all on the right ones.

So he helped me pack and hugged me goodbye, and here I am, not entirely sure how I got here. I think I got here by following my own heartbeat, softly but solidly drumming in my ears. Perhaps I got here by faith, maybe by stubbornness, by chance even by selfishness.

I'm sure for every ear that heard the whole story, there would be a different opinion. Speculation is the stuff of gold-diggers, real estate investors, and risk-takers. This is not about fueling the fires of speculation. Fiction is for that. Maybe I'll write a great novel out of my experiences.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tossing Away

I'm cleaning out the trash today. Not literally, though I'm sure that will happen too. Figuratively, I'm tossing away some thoughts that have been stewing on the front burner of my mind long enough to boil out all the water and scald the pot. Time to get rid of them.

Creative allusions aside, it's time I admit the death of a friendship. Or maybe it's the death of a salesman, without the Arthur Miller.
I met one of my longest-standing friends when I was fifteen years old. We have not been in constant touch with each other, but we've always been close. I'm gonna add parentheses to "close" because I think that maybe we defined it differently individually. Either way, I can only speak for me and will not speculate on the other party.

So here we are more than half our lives' down the road, and suddenly -- and for the second time in the last couple of years -- said friend has disappeared without much trace, save for the seemingly deliberate-if-scant evidence that the decision to disappear is intentional.

It's time to admit that the friendship is not now what it once was, and maybe it never was what I thought it was. Maybe it was a just a great sales job; I was certainly sold on it for the whole ride.

I learned from another dear former acquaintance of mine years ago that some friendships are just for a small time -- until all that can be gained from it is drained from it.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that has had a friendship where the other person took what they wanted and left when there was nothing left to take that was of use to them. This latest such happening was by far the longest someone has stretched out a "friendship" with me, however.

Which brings me to my real issue (no it is not to whine like a school girl). Why can't people be more honest? I have no issues with having a long list of acquaintances, networking contacts and the like. Why is it that if I don't open up my heart and deepest secrets to you we can't be "hey, how's the weather and do you need any creative input on your current project" kinds of friends?

For the love of ______(insert your god or Pete here) people!! This ain't high school anymore! Grow up. Relationships can adapt and change with age... even successfully becoming the type where you send a Christmas card out once a year or so and without any drama.

So why go out of the way to make sure I know you're just tossing me aside?

Because sometimes it's fun to make people hurt? That's all I can figure.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Alice Cooper waves goodbye to Summer

"People, people, please" the harried and exasperated voice says over the chatter of unthrilled youths dropping unopened notebooks on not new wooden-topped desks with pen-carved graffiti and professions of love or hate.

"Time to settle, people" continues the voice in something just above a drone, to heedless ears.

Final bell rings and feet shuffle into something of a disorderly order, reluctant to admit that they're exactly where they are. Smiles fade as talk ebbs; smirks and grimaces take over in their place.

It is no longer "School's Out for Summer", and Alice Cooper and the current group of students covering every grade from preschool on into graduate school bemoan the return of teachers, books, and dirty looks.

Of course, for Alice at least, there is the golf course -- as his days of metriculation ended a few back. For everyone else it's a return to business as usual, whether that is scraping by just above flunking out or fighting for A's.

For many parents however - it's the beginning of nine months of vacation....

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Beef Bulgogi

Beef = bul
gogi = something kind of like a dim sum but fried.

beef bulgogi = redundant.

But that's how Koreans let us know we're not ordering dog.

ke = dog

Ever heard of kegogi? I've heard it called "meat on stick". But it would more likely be described as "dog meat appetizer". I never saw any in Korea, by the way, at any of the local restaurants I visited, nor sold by street vendors. And yes, I did see dogs in Korea. They were all adored family pets. No, I did not see any stray dogs. Nor stray cats. Nor mice, rats, birds... seems the only infestation in the cities were the people. And no, there's nothing to be read into that sentence.

I grew up land-locked, so I was impressed by the fish for sale in the local markets. I've never been to Fisherman's Warf or any other port fish market, so I won't even begin to compare. But I will give a brief listing of some of what I saw (and could identify):

sea bass
eels (squirming in buckets)
dried fish heads
tuna on ice
filets of all sorts
anchovies
sardines
(dried, shrunken, fresh, frozen, alive)
squid (alive, dead)
octopus (alive, dead)
flounder (alive)
things that looked like grey penises (alive)

The list at the market was far more extensive than what I saw in the restaurants, which was another reason why I'm relieved I didn't get invited to anyone's house for dinner while I was there. Heaven only knows what I would've been introduced to! (I might have liked it, but it's such a crap shoot.)

At least I could rely on good ole, redundant beef bulgogi....

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007

Being a Kid Again

It was one of those rainstorms where you open the car door and get wet like you're stepping into a shower fully clothed, and I stood in it and waited on my three year old to prove how big he is and get out of the car by himself.

The car was soaked, the kid was soaked, and my jeans soaked up water like a sponge right up to my calves from standing in a parking lot puddle.

Inside the store, people looked at me like I was nuts and kidded with my son for his cuteness and his wetness. We had just about dried out when it was time to leave, and the rainstorm had only increased in intensity.

By the time we got home, my sloped driveway was a waterslide. There was no escaping the torrential downpour's moist effects, even with a 10 ft. run to the door.

So in a split decision, I decided to do something I hadn't done in more than twenty-five years. I decided to play in the rain.

My son enthusiastically agreed to go running and splashing about the front yard, as only three year olds can get excited when they get permission to jump in puddles. So we stomped, we splashed, and we danced in the rain, twirling around with our arms extended upwards and rain running into our eyes and off our chins. We laughed, we squealed, we generally made complete idiots of ourselves. Well, I did anyway; the performance was perfectly toddler-esque.

And you know, it was the most liberating feeling I've had in years. I felt completely free of all stress, all social structure, and all the pressure that age can bring with it -- I felt like I'd found my childhood again.

It lasted a mere fifteen minutes and then the rainstorm turned into a thunderstorm complete with lightning and once again responsibility required I usher us into the house safely. Peeling out of our wet clothes was like peeling the layers of childhood away until only an adult, a mom, and a civilized person remained. A few minutes later even the rain stopped, and life returned to normal as though the childish interlude had never even happened.

But my son learned that his mom can be the coolest person on the planet. And I learned that a little rain and a puddle or two can be more liberating than any journey of self-discovery. And more fun than any vacation... so long as I remember just to dance with arms spread out and let the rain run into my eyes and off my chin.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Taxes and Tipping, Korean Style

Knowing that I have the power to change the world in my fingertips as I write this blog, I hope that when the following information spreads net-wide, all my readers will use it for good and not evil.

In the U.S. we have become accustomed to roughly 9% taxes and %15 tips (or more) to our restaurant visits. That's a estimated minimum of 24% of your bill being money tacked on to the final tab. Following my math here? let's just say it's usually a fourth to a fifth of the tab, to allow for those cool states that only charge 7% tax.

Well, Korean servers are paid differently than they are in the U.S. Ergo, NO TIPPING!! And the price you see on the menu is the price you pay; nothing is added on.

Of course, according to Buddhism, money is the worst thing you can offer Budda. It's an abomination to him. Makes him feel like a cheap whore, if you wanna think in simplistic western terms about it. And most of Korea is Buddhist. Therefore they're viewpoint on money is a bit different from ours.

But how does this change one's service, you ask? Pfft!!! I had better service in Korea than I've ever had in the states, no offense to the good servers I've encountered stateside.

Koreans respect each other on a level that is not widely seen here. It does go back in part to Buddhism, simply stated however, Korea can be described as a country working the "Golden Rule" (you know the one: do unto others as you'd have them do unto you).

I fell asleep on a 4 hour train ride, with everything I owned in Korea above me on a luggage rack. The train was full, and there were multiple stops along the way. When I woke up, all my stuff was still up there, untouched. No one tried to take my stuff, even though I was a sleeping foreigner! In this country, I would've been an "easy mark".

Fortunately, I think that the Korean culture and society is strong enough not to collapse and become more westernized at my words. It wouldn't hurt my feelings if we stateside would consider them a bit deeper than a casual read and forget, and this is a fluffy version of all I could say on the subject.

Here we consider it a cultural custom to tip 15-20% for a job done, whether it was done adequately, poorly, or fantastically. It's a sign of respect for the server and the service. But prostitution is illegal except in Nevada. So selling yourself for money is okay as long as genetalia is involved. Some moral definer we have, huh?

Ooh, that was a little harsh of me.

Let me change directions while that one is still freshly stewing in your mind:

How might this country be economically affected if we changed our basic mindset towards each other and therefore our treatment of each other and inevitably our culture adjusted to reflect it? Oh, yes, I know I'm speaking of utopian things with no real chance for implementation, so please do not counter with a diatribe as to why it will not be. It's just a rhetorical question anyway.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Female Urinals and other Toilet Humor

Ok, so it's not humor so much as humorous, in an odd sort of way.

Korea does have western toilets. The ones that look just like every other toilet in the U.S., except across the board, their public toilets are cleaner. Quite possibly they are cleaner than the ones in your home. And some wonderful hotels I could name as well as a restaurant or two and even a subway stop have the seat attachments that add a bidet to the toilet. The one that impressed me the most also had water temperature control and a massager built in.

Other places -- including another subway station -- had what I will call "female urinals" because "pee troughs" sounds weird. And who knows, I might even be correct. I would've asked what they were called, but no one I ran across in Korea would've understood the question. I digress, fun with language is for another blog.

These urinals looked quite similar to a man's urinal, only they lay horizontal in the floor, and were pretty shallow (meaning that they did not go deeply into the floor, nor rise much above it). Water was pushed from one end to the other in a constant flow, and as you can imagine, that flow of water served the city's sewage needs.

It was a lot like squatting in the woods, except that there were no five-leafed plants nearby. And no grass to get tickled by, either.

There also was more often than not no toilet paper. It took me two days to realize that the toilet paper by the sinks were for drying one's hands and for taking into the toilets. By then I was down to my last kleenex in my purse, so it was good timing. Now I had seen a younger woman use the TP for hand-drying, but it wasn't until I witnessed three older women stock up on a length of it before entering their stall that the light bulb went off in that department. There's a reason we've historically turned to our elders for wisdom, folks!

In the U.S. everything is sold in a restroom from aspirin to condoms to diapers. In Korea, toilet paper is sold in those same types of wall vending machines. Condoms can be found for free in your hotel room in the amenities basket*. It did, however, take me most of my entire trip over there to find one with enough English on it to know what it sold. That bit of knowledge might've come in useful from the getgo!!

All in all, Korea was very accommodating to westerners and locals alike, and not just in the restrooms. For more stories illuminating why I'd go back in a heartbeat, be sure to check back!

*teaser for another story to come.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Road Weary

Before I lead into a series of tales from Korea, California and the Midwest, complete with my impressions, experiences, and a list of places to go and things to do (ambitious, ain't I?), I thought I'd welcome myself back with a smidgeon of pomp and a pinch of circumstance.

Ta Da! I have returned!!

These past few weeks have been riddled with the occasional broadband against an otherwise slow background of dial-up, and my efforts have been centered around my camera and surroundings (minus my bits of down time when I plugged myself into City of Heroes). Now I must commit to sorting through the nearly 3000 photos I took, the scribbled journal entries and miscellaneous notes I wrote in my hurried penmanship, and my brain -- a dark and scary place in and of itself.

Oh yeah, and I am road weary too. Forgetting the 7+K mile flight overseas each way, there was the 850 mile drive to visit family, the 500 mile round trip for my daughter's surgery on the 3rd, the 450 mile trip to visit more family (which left me only a 750 return drive), and all the miscellaneous driving I did while "back home". I love my car. I don't want to get in it again for a month.

Nevertheless, all my complaining aside, I am excited to bring these last 6 (and a half) weeks to life for you here in the coming blogs. You'll want to keep an eye here and see what follows.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Vacation

So. I am about to head out on the trip of a lifetime. My camera is going; there will be pictures. My journal is going; there will be stories. But my computer ain't going, so for all my (three) loyal fans, don't give up on me... just be patient and know that I will be returning with plenty to blog about. See you in a few weeks!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Episode #56 of Scooby Doo

I don't remember it. At least not by episode number. And really, it's irrelevant. It appears here as a title and as a segue into other irrelevant things.

Like how much fish waste is in my water. I still need to drink the water, and it's better if I don't know. I might lose faith in the government's ability to properly filter my drinking water if I knew.

Or how much the dollar is really worth. There's no gold in Fort Knox. This is not new. I'd rather believe in the pretense that the dollar is worth more than confederate currency ever was.

Another irrelevant thing is whether or not Brangelina is going to adopt another child. They can afford it, and I truly do not understand why pop culture gets so obsessed with other people's lives. Mine is busy enough that I don't need to micromanage someone else's every move with rapt curiosity. Oh and I'm not even that curious.

On the list of irrelevant things could be included: 1. how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop, 2. anything that Paris Hilton does (unless she suddenly does something relevant, then I'll amend this statement), 3. most of what Perez Hilton says in his blog, 4. whether Clay Aiken is gay or not, 5. who replaces Bob Barker on The Price is Right, and 6. whether I'm smarter than a 5th grader according to that game show's standards.

My last and final contribution to irrelevant things is City of Heroes. I hear it's a great game, if you're into that sort of thing. But playing it will neither make you a real hero nor save the world in any measurable sense. Mind numbing fun it may be, which actually puts it well above Paris Hilton in my book.

Thank you, that is all.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Horse Play Part Deux

Today was much like the story "Horse Play" from earlier in May. Except today there were 8 girls vying for my son's attention. And boy these young girls can work it at an early age!!

I am so doomed.

Yossarian... I blame you.

*Yossarian is a famous character from Joseph Heller's "Catch 22", and he is also a dear friend of mine that reminds me of the fictional character.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Horse Play

My son is a riot. And after last night, I can tell that his teenage years are going to be a major source of wrinkles for me. Let me explain.

I took him to the park for some good running and sliding and such, where he met and promptly fell in step behind a cute blonde-haired blue-eyed girl with big pink sunglasses and a bucket hat. He allowed her to go first on all the slides, followed her around exactly two steps behind, and stopped on a dime right at her side whenever she did. If her hat fell off her head, he picked it up and ran after her, calling out "Gabby, Gabby... your hat!!" and delivering it with all the casual charm of a seasoned gentleman.

Well, three other girls noticed all this lavish attention from my toddler upon the golden haired playground goddess. And the sirens three liked it all too much. They surrounded the young Don Juan, encouraging him to chase them with mock-sword fights and giggles, and eventually he took the bait. Off he went after the sirens three.

The playground goddess joined in for a while, not to simply give up her beau, and the results were comic relief unlike I've ever had before, with a barely subdued smile on my lips and laughter in my heart. Mixed in with a twinge of fear, of course, for what I was in for.

After a while Gabby gave up her chase, and it went unnoticed, as the sirens three never missed a step, always calling to him and luring him in whatever direction they had gone... sometimes together, and sometimes apart. Occasionally he had to choose which siren he would chase, and one young latino lass was having none of his ignoring her, and would promptly encircle him with her arms should he try to chase another... to the point where he had to be pried free of her on several occasions by her mother. Then off he would go, carefree, after the other siren's waiting patiently for him to return to the chase.

Finally exhaustion and the setting sun demanded that I pry my son from the playground and return him to more ritualistic habits such as dinner, a bath, and bed. It was not without grateful tears. He was none-too-happy to leave his sirens, but relieved to be able to rest from his antics.

I will cherish these last days I have at home with my boy before he begins school, without all the drama that the young women will certainly cause. And then I'm going to brace myself for all that is surely to come!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

bits of glass


green without envy by =Miladydaisy on deviantART



Bits of glass. Little pieces of rounded, colorful, harmless glass. It's not to say that they can't be broken and can therefore potentially cut, but just as they are they are as good as mute, being not pointed at all.

It's a metaphor. Find it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

my gay marriage/civil union opinion

I'm interrupting your daily (or near daily) dose of photographic art with my opinion.

Warning: you will probably form an opinion and get pissed off if you continue reading.

but you are allowed the posting of your opinion in the comments, so it's fair.


I'm sick of the whole argument over gay marriage and civil unions. Bored with it. It's absolutely stupid to argue the point. Because at the heart of it, only the rights allowed couples are really all that matter. So here's my opinion:




Personally, I don't care if one wants to make his/her roommate, brother, sister, next door neighbor, boss, cat, or goldfish his beneficiary of his estate with the same rights as a spouse... I think that it should be allowed legally outside of a marriage contract. Right of survivorship, contractual obligations and purchases (homes, cars, life insurance...), personal wealth and assets... I personally think everyone should be able to make decisions and enter into such agreements as these without legaleze such as "marriage" or "civil union".

Personally, I think the whole terminology vs. rights is a bunch of bull, no matter if it's gay rights, hetero rights, marriage rights, or the like.

Traditionally, legal contracts required legal unions because legal unions were considered binding. Well, it's fairly easy to get a divorce these days, so the idea that a married couple will continue to be married for the duration of a 60 month car loan is almost a fairy tale in an age where the divorce rate is over 50%, so those antiquated notions of "shared responsibility" and "lasting committed relationship" don't really mean anything to a lending institution when it comes to the bottom line.

Two non-sexual (or sexually intimate), non-related people should be able to buy a home together, purchase a car together, share health insurance plans (through an employer), establish net worth together (wealth), combine money, etc... but there are a lot of limitations for how two non-related people combine their estates/wealth/assets/ etc.

And here the problem gets really stupid. The laws are set up, so that -- for example -- credit card companies can only go after the account holder, not others able to sign on the account. So say a husband never adds his wife to an account, then she cannot be held accountable for the charges on it. (I learned this the hard way with my ex when I didn't put him on my account but allowed him to sign on it.) Really, this is an easy fix. Make any and all users on an account equally responsible for it. There don't need to be any "civil union" laws to that end.

And on that note, such simple fixes could be (and should be) applied to health insurance policies, contract purchases, etc... and the entire fight over whether a gay marriage will be ceremoniously recognized will become closer to moot.

Now on the note about religious recognition. No, we as a society should not change nor try to change Christianity or any other religion to force it to accept gay marriage. And here's why:

(If you are offended by specific citations as evidence, quit reading now, because I'm going to cite the Bible as evidence... seeing as how the Bible is the book by which Christianity is founded and referenced)

Leviticus 18:22
"You [God to Moses, giving him the basis of Jewish law] are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination."

According to the most basic and strictest sense of Judaism/Christianity, homosexuality is an abomination. That is the belief of those religions, and by freedom of religion, practitioners are free to believe such.

Forcing change upon those religions is a direct infringement on that freedom of religion. Not to mention it's no better or different than forcing non-religious types to participate in prayer in public.

So I don't think changing someone's right to believe in their own religion is the answer.

Now for those that uphold the "homosexuality as abomination" religious viewpoint:

(warning, another biblical quote)

The same God that condemns homosexuality in Leviticus says in

Romans 14:13
"Therefore let us not judge one another..."

Christians should not take it upon themselves to force the rest of the known world against homosexuality simply because they believe it to be wrong. According to Jewish law, it is, for them, but not everyone is striving to be held accountable to Jewish law.

So my steadfast opinion is thus:

Claim as your significant other whomever you want to, with whatever phrases best suits your needs. Get religion out of the legalizing of rights with regards to any/all relationships, because we've already separated church and state as a nation anyway. And quit trying to make it a religious issue.

Who you partner yourself with is not a matter of the church. And the STATE should be held more accountable for allowing rights between conjoined peoples that are not traditionally nor heterosexually married.

And just about everyone should get over themselves. It'd be a lot simpler if we would simply deal with the issue of rights and leave everything else where it belongs -- in personal opinion.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

romeo is prince charming


Cinderella by ~JacquiJax on deviantART

To Juliet, Romeo is her Prince Charming.
And after dancing the night away, she tore herself out of his arms to race home before she got caught out. Good thing she left that darned shoe behind in the style of Cinderella...

*Photo appears courtesy of Jacqueline Vallarino


Monday, April 16, 2007

marshmallow beach


The beach blanket is slightly covered in a dusting of sand, kicked there haphazardly as they giggled and chased each other to the surf where the waves lick the land.

Forgotten marshmallows wait speared and cold, as the sun still shines. Maybe the ants will get to them before dark falls, maybe not. Maybe the two lovers, acting years younger than they are, will return in time to sear the edges with fire and tempt themselves with the tasty gooey treat and with each other.

Their splashing and laughter is contagious. I smile, hoping that I will be so deliriously in love and given over to sophomoric romanticism when I'm their age....

Friday, April 13, 2007

locked


The lock by =nemisis11 on deviantART

She locked her heart against all pain, and blocked out the love.
Too many times men played games with the intent of owning her
or worse, and too many times she played into their hands
or worse. Standing before her is a man who is offering honest eyes
and a key to the lock. Standing before her is a chasm she must
decide to jump across or not, with nothing but his waiting arms
as a safety net.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

beauty


Still Life - Plum Flowers by ~EverydaySoul on deviantART

There's something about the word "beauty" that inspires a score of stereotypes and social definitions and superficial looks.

I suppose that it's defined as differently as there are people, things, places, and ways to define it.

Is it that skinny model in high heels and haute couteure posing for a camera? Is it the endless list of stars gracing a red carpet for a back-patting awards ceremony? Is it the overweight girl with the honest smile and the sparkle in her eyes? Is it the father kissing his young daughter on the forehead? Is it a field of wild flowers or the fierce crashing of twenty foot waves just off shore? Is it monochrome or colorful? Is it in you?


*photo appears courtesy of The Photo Jock

Monday, April 09, 2007

for weary travelers


road to nowhere II by =Miladydaisy on deviantART

Sometimes "the road not taken" isn't the one we wish we had taken, when looking backwards.

Sometimes life's journey costs too much, gains too little, seems empty as this road. The strong persevere and make something out of it anyway. The able get through it. The rest become various forms of road kill or road markers.

So this photo, and whatever you make of it, is my story for all the weary travelers.



Photo appears courtesy of Cat

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Two lovers


Some beauty is so breathtaking that you forget to breathe.

Sometimes it's in the eyes, or the smile. Sometimes it's in the line of a hip, the curve of a leg, the extension of an arm thrown over the back of a chair.

Sometimes it's found in character. Other times it's in something untangible, like a sunset or a lightning strike. Others it's in something perfectly tangible, like a delicate flower or an earnest hug.

But when you experience it -- the breathlessness of it -- you are not unchanged by it.

The greatest love story I ever heard was about the moment two lovers met. They weren't looking for each other, and they didn't expect to find each other. But as they tell it, there was a definitive moment when they both forgot to breathe, completely caught up in each other's eyes and smiles. And every moment of rapture for them can easily be described as exactly like these two calla lilies, intimately and comfortably wrapping themselves into and around each other.

Sometimes love is simply that pure, simply that simple. What I learned from those two lovers is that sometimes all I've retold here is all you need to know.

*photo appears courtesy of Suzisusana.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

red sunset


Burning red by =nemisis11 on deviantART

Photo appears courtesy of Jon

I am tapped out of inspiration today. I'm bleeding,
much like these clouds, a dark blood red fire
that is about to scorch through me as it burns the sky.


Monday, April 02, 2007

the jazz door


the jazz door by =Miladydaisy on deviantART

The saxophone on the door opened into a dark club, tastefully decorated in blue neon lights and dimly lit vinyl booths. In the middle were wooden chairs around small round tables large enough for a votive candle and a couple of drinks, maybe an ashtray.


On Thursday nights, it was standing room only.


On Thursday nights, the hottest local jazz band played, like they had played every night for the last two years. On Friday nights they played a larger venue, and rocked it too, but the feel of the small club was unbeatable, and the acoustics were perfect. It was intimate enough for a couple to hear each other without screaming, and loud enough that no one else was gonna hear them either.


I tell you all this because I want you to understand that this club was where the music thrived. So when they shut it down, because the owner died, because there were no next of kin and because it was settled as part of his estate, paying off his debts... when all those things happened, the music died.


The music was part of the soul of that place, but that jazz door was the doorway to the music. Somehow the closing of the jazz door closed the door to their hearts. No one really can explain it, but it was a lot like the couple that dies together within days of each other because they don't want to live without the other. Plain as that.


I hear the saxophone player bought that door and put it on the front of his house. But I also hear he sold his sax and never played another note.


Funny how some doors work like that.



*photo appears courtesy of Cat

Monday, March 26, 2007

America's Favorite Pasttime


Connection by =nemisis11 on deviantART

It's almost upon us again. The hot dogs, the cold beers, the jeers and cheers of fans... yeah, summer's greatest sport is about to begin... baseball.


I've been to a few major league games. I've been to many minor league games. I used to date a pitcher for the high school team back in that day.... I'd rather be at a game in person, preferably right behind the catcher, than watching it on TV, and I just don't care about scores, stats, rankings, pennants and all that jazz. Sorry, all you baseball fanatics. I'll settle for being the ambivalent fan, thank you.


Ever since the baseball strike in the 90's and the NHL strike in... '05 I believe it was... I'm ambivalent about pro sports as a whole. I still love my NFL, but not as much as I used to, I sadly admit. While I hate the idea of a glass ceiling in any industry, I also think that pro players are well payed for their contributions to society.





Photo appears courtesy of Jon, an avid baseball fan.

Friday, March 23, 2007

overflow


yes, the quality is lower than most pictures shown here. there's a good reason for that. it's a metaphor for how I feel.
















*photo appears courtesy of me. I took it, I edited it, I over-edited it on purpose, and I still think it's a cool concept work repeating. Mostly because I wanna make another mess.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

bloom


She didn't think herself beautiful. She was tall and lanky and thin and had always succeeded as a wallflower.

Passing a couple on the street, she overheard the man say "you have wonderful child-bearing hips my love" with his hand appreciatively on the woman's hip. She didn't know exactly what that meant, but she knew she didn't have child-bearing hips. She didn't suppose she ever would.

Her mother always said "one day you'll bloom into a lovely woman" but she didn't believe her mother.


Catching her reflection in the windows of a coffee shop, she reluctanctly admitted she looked wilted. To her surprise, she also caught a man smiling at her. Quickly she turned and returned the gaze, and slowly a smile crept over her face. He nodded and walked on by, but her heart lifted and her shoulders straightened a bit and she smiled at the next person who met her gaze. Maybe she would bloom into something beautiful after all.

*photo appears courtest of kimbly

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

empty seat


Bench in color by ~mightystag on deviantART

When they were young they met in the park and had lunch sitting on the same bench every day, watching the children and dogs play, feeding bread crumbs to the geese by the pond.

When they married and had children of their own, they came to the park and chased their kids and dogs until tired the collapsed on the bench for a rest.

When he retired they walked hand in hand in the park and ate lunch on the bench, feeding bread crumbs to the geese.

When she passed he came to the park at sat on the bench day after day, looking lost and ignoring the geese altogether.

He told me, sitting on a bench outside the hospital, how much he loved benches and parks, as I fed crackers to pigeons. He told me how much they loved each other, and how happy he was she wasn't around to see him go through chemo. How strong in spirit he was, if not in body.

After my shift tonight I planned on hurrying home, cutting through the cold as quickly as possible, but the bench was warmly lit in yellow light, and it was empty. I had nothing better to do than sit for a while and reflect.

*photo appears courtesy of mightystag.

Monday, March 19, 2007


les nuages by =nerdynotdirty on deviantART

She waits for absolution.

She loved with her whole heart and gave her entire self -- body and soul -- to a man that forgot her name when he woke.

He touched her with such assuredness, kissed her with such fire, that she forgot herself in his intentions. They planned a life together, for a while, unaware that time ticked on and life was not controllable by design. They didn't -- nor could they -- plan on the car that hit him one night, flipping his body into the air and depositing it carelessly behind it. He entered a coma instantly and remained there for weeks.

Breathing was controlled by machines. Eating was performed by machines. Brain function was monitored by machines. There was no machine to download his memories back into his consciousness. He just didn't remember her. He didn't remember anything.

She is assured that there is a chance it will all come flooding back one day.

Until then, until it happens or until she gives up hope... she is waiting for absolution.

*photo appears courtesy of Rockie LaDell Nolan

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


reflection by ~indygirl on deviantART

The sun looks at her reflection in the water far more than I do. I'm not a big fan of mirrors. One, they reflect flaws. Two, they reflect my flaws when they pick up my image.

Reflections do make for serene shots though, don't they?

*photo appears courtesy of Gracie Rae

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

two cents worth a fortune

Lindy got a phone call from her husband's ex-wife. The ex talked to her boys -- the ones she left when they were 18 mo's and 3 respectively -- and told them she wanted to come see them next week. It was the youngest boy's birthday; she always called around birthdays and Christmas.

Lindy finally lost it. "I'm sick of you being a mom on birthdays and at Christmas. Either be a mom, or don't, but quit tearing up your kids with your half-assed attempts at giving a damn."

Good for Lindy. Lindy wipes their noses, checks their homework, cooks for them, cleans up after them, and gives hugs every day. The ex is hundreds of miles away, calls three times a year, and sends the boys on emotional roller coasters.

Who's the mom here? The biological egg donor, who decided one day that she didn't want to be a mother and wife anymore and walked out on her family, or the step-mom who married into the boys' lives and welcomed them into her heart? Who had the right to be irate?

Yeah, I thought that Lindy had the right to be irate too. The ex didn't think so, as she went off on a verbal tirade. Imagine that, she didn't even get it that her selfishness is harming her boys, not supporting them. Imagine that....

Monday, March 12, 2007

lush


pines by =Miladydaisy on deviantART

Spring is trying valiantly to blossom out from under wintery skies. It's a bit easier in Georgia than it is in, say, Minnesota. When I saw phlox in full color, I realized that there were no crocuses to break through frozen ground. But then, there's no frozen ground, either.

Azalea's are dotting their green bushes with spots of pink, red, white, and it signals that the Masters' Tournament is just around the corner in Augusta. In short, if you feel the need to visit the Augusta area, avoid the dates of the Masters' Tournament. Unless you want to spend $250 a night for a room that usually costs $32.99. No, I'm not kidding.

But I digress. This is about spring, and the inevitable pollen layer that will cover my car within the next two weeks, no matter how much I wash it. Last year it was daily, to keep it from being a horrible yellow reminiscent of a baby's diaper.

With the new (and improved!.. bah) Daylight Savings, I can enjoy the balmy temperatures even longer in the day than before, therefore giving me more reason to rake my yard... and more time to procrastinate the chore.

Likewise, I can avoid mowing (but not for much longer), sweeping pine needles off my roof, and weeding the flower beds. Ah, spring! Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find a kleenex and some benadryl.

Friday, March 09, 2007

china garden


china garden by =cappaholic on deviantART

Beautiful, isn't it? This amazing IR (infrared) photo was taken by the talented Doug C. Lowe. He admitted to me that it is neither a garden in China, nor an oriental garden at all. Ah, artistic license....

The colors are so soothing and inviting that I just want to grab my love's hand and walk with him there, across that bridge, stand under that dead tree, and absorb the beauty around me. Of course, since this photo was taken in IR, it wouldn't look like this should I find the place, but as a dreamscape it is the stuff of fancy.

Going into this weekend, I wanted something beautiful and relaxing to end my week with. I have had some great rants, and a couple of them even showed up in blogs in the last few days. Ready to relax and exhale a long breath, I intend to make myself a nice cup of hot tea and melt into stillness for the next couple of days. This chicken is going quit running around and sew its head back on. Enjoy the weekend ya'll....

*Photo appears courtesy of Doug C. Lowe

Thursday, March 08, 2007

swimwear


Day at the beach 8 by =nemisis11 on deviantART

I don't have bikini-clad surfers around here to take photos of, so I'm borrowing the use of this photo from Jon, graciously of course.

Seems that stores are gearing up for summer much quicker than I am. Seems that again, another swimsuit season has begun where I don't shop near the aisles in Wal-mart where bathing suits are displayed. This is true of Target, J C Penney, Dillard's... you get the picture.

It's not because I hate my body and can't stand the thought of donning a bathing suit. True enough, I never like shopping for one, and only do it under duress because the seat of my former suit is threadbare or some similar disparity, but the real reason I hate swimsuit shopping lies in economics.

It's just so damned expensive to buy a scrap of lycra-spandex/latex that covers less than most underwear. I could hunt, kill, and field-skin a deer for less. Well, I personally couldn't, because I don't know how to skin anything except an orange, but it's the point here people....

Even the ugly suits are expensive. It's just plain ridiculous how much they can price the stuff and get away with it... especially and almost exclusively pertaining to female suits. Don't believe me? Go see how many $96 suits you can find in the men's section and then go see how many suits you can find under $60 in the women's section of a "fine department store." Really, with supply and demand all over the place, how did we become so complacent as shoppers to support the prices?

If you're an economics major, professor, or businessman, please don't answer that question. It was rhetorical anyway.

As for bikini-clad surfers, I suggest you visit Jon in Hawai'i. He knows where they all hang out.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Surrounded!


I wonder what the marshmallow in the middle did to be in the center of an angry mob of marshmallows.

And the two all curled up together, one laying on his or her side... are they just around to see some gratuitous violence, or did they orchestrate the whole thing?

Maybe the surrounded marshmallow tried to rape the other one's girlfriend. Maybe he just called her a slut.

Or maybe the marshmallow in the center wears glasses, is smarter than the others, has argyle hair, drives an Edsel, prefers peppermint to chocolate, is poor, likes sunsets and puppies.... the list could go on forever.

The point, should I choose to make one, is that everyday people get surrounded at the exact same moment they're being ostracized. At work, it could be the girl who had a brilliant idea that the boss is afraid might be good enough to jeopardize his job security. At school it could be the guy that broke the curve and screwed up three jocks' grades enough to keep the team from winning the big game. At church, it can often be the girl who's prude by Baptist standards and prays for your soul every night. On the streets it can be over anything, at anytime, and can last for a moment or the rest of your life... even it your life lasts only another moment.

Thing is, people like to point out the differences in others and then surround themselves with supporters who believe the same thing. We used to call it "ganging up on someone" back when gangs didn't really exist. Now we call the ACLU and start a civil suit and try to get another law passed protecting the right of argyle-haired people from discrimination against those that find argyle hair tacky. And similar-minded stuff.

In the name of freedom of speech we are pushing for freedom from speech.

In the name of freedom of religion we are pushing for freedom from religion.

In the name of freedom of civil liberties we are eroding the civil liberties we have left until there will be none.

In the name of the individual, we are eradicating the majority, the masses, the community, until each individual will soon have the right to be free of interaction with any other individual under penalty of fine or imprisonment or a name on a list somewhere.

In the name of time, I will not start stating my evidence, because not one person, myself included, has the inclination to look it all up or read it all if I compile it for you.

To test my theory/opinion, watch the news for a week. Check in on CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, whatever you wish, and see what ridiculous news makes headlines from the 6-year old boy that got suspended for kissing a little girl on the cheek at school (sexual harassment... do you think he's on a sex offender's list because of it?) to law suits for coffee being served hot, burgers being served with calories in them, and the list just goes on and on.

If you agree with me, come on, let's form a mob and surround those that disagree with us and stare at them real hard and make them uncomfortable. If you disagree with me, you have the right to leave me alone. (this paragraph is supposed to be taken tongue-in-cheek, for those readers needing clarification or a sense of humor)*.

Remind me about how the school made my daughter and her boyfriend break up, and I'll explain why this tirade came to be.

*It has come to my attention through other communication means besides this here blog that not all my readers are native English speakers, and sometimes don't get my meaning. It has also come to my attention that other readers just don't get my sense of humor. I have scientists locked away in a dark basement somewhere in North Dakota working round the clock to produce a pill that I will make available for purchase that produces a sense of humor. Patent pending, awaiting FDA approval. (again, tongue-in-cheek... I can't afford to employ scientists.)

** photo appears courtesy of Cat

Monday, March 05, 2007

conceptual becomes norm


Who has blue and purple flowers anyway?

Me. This flower arrangement was carefully created by my mother some twenty years ago, and costing roughly $75 in silk flowers alone at the time. I thought it was lovely, but I thought she was nuts.

Really. Blue magnolias and dark purple roses? What is this, some weird conceptual or abstract flower arrangement?

And maybe it was, back then. Edgy. Creative. Not the normal red or pink roses most people went for. I even remember the cashier looking as her a bit funny when the odd assortment was rung up. Then my mother turned it into magic. For twenty years ago, that's what I thought it surely must be, to be able to take purple and blue flowers and make them a centerpiece or a conversation piece.

Now my arrangement attracts hardly a second glance, let alone a compliment. Now, purple roses and blue magnolias are so everyday that it's not a striking arrangement as it once was. Now it's normal as at best and out-dated at worst.

I think the envelope pushed back.

Remembering back to when I was a child, pushing my own envelope, I found out that I had pretty ordinary limitations that were my comfort zone. I also said growing up that one day my dad would die and I'd do everything I was too afraid to try when he was around to chastise me for it.

And one day he did die. Everything changed.

I woke up without the restraints of convention tying me to a code I'm not sure I even believed in. Oddly, only my thinking changed. But that thinking spread to my desires, which is spreading to my actions.

I bought a Sony Minolta A100 camera today, and some great accessories (filters, etc) to go with it. Sure, Dad would've said put the money in savings instead, and that's what I had earmarked it for, but this was an investment in me. I've always wanted to take myself seriously as a photographer, and this is my first step towards it.

Wish me luck.

Friday, March 02, 2007

somewhere she waits




Somewhere she waits in an overstuffed chair, trying to focus on the Louis L'Amour book in her hands as her mind drifts from worry to trepidation and back again. It's been too long, she thinks to herself, since he's written home.

He left for Iraq over a year ago, and it's been a couple of months since she heard from him last. "Doesn't mean anything" she tells her well-wishing friends. "You know how it is."

And she does know how it is, because she's been briefed on "how it is."

Through her smiles, she cries unspent tears. Through her loneliness, she carries pictures and memories close to her heart.

She just knows he's coming home; she just doesn't know when.

The phone ringing breaks her reverie and she answers it with her usual lilting "hello?" Static and silence mix and she wonders if she's connected at all, when finally her prayer is answered in one word. "Mom?...."



Photo appears courtesy of suzisusana

Thursday, March 01, 2007

artistic inspiration and tornado watches

I know all my faithful readers came here today to see what visual treats and witty banter I would offer up on the buffet of blogs. I, too, expected to dazzle myself with brilliance more radiant that a flawless diamond, flawlessly cut. Imagine my disappointment when I was not inspired by any photographers that I could get spur-of-the-moment permission to display their work.

It threw my entire creative writing process into a tizzy. No photo, no inspiration. Wild, isn't it, that I'm working backwards like that?

My advice, Amando Amantes over there in my links takes you to the page of a lovely photographer, but you've got to search the page for the link to her photography. So in short, go visit her, and give her a comment about how you'd love to see her work displayed here, and then ask her to email the photo of her choice to me. :smile:

Suzi, bring my creative tizzy back under control with your artistic genius.

please. before there's a mutiny from my readers!

As for the blatant disregard for any serious writing on my part, blame the excess amount of caffeine I ingested today in my feeble attempts of warding off a migraine much like turning off the TV actually stopping the news from being reported.

On that note, I watched the news tonight long enough to find out that my part of the universe is under a tornado watch. I used to live in the Midwest, where every day from February 1st to June 15th was a tornado watch. Hell, ever heard of Stormchasers? ...That's there stomping ground. To tell me I'm under a tornado watch is like telling me that there's dirt on my pants. I'll do something about it when I have to, and otherwise, I really don't care. (I have a toddler. Caring about a little dirt went out a few years back).

What I do care about are those damed sirens they use when a tornado has been spotted. They're great for getting the word out to those that aren't glued to the local Viper 10, but after 40 minutes of listening to them scream in my ears, I don't care about the sirens, the potentially destructive tornado barreling down on me, or whether or not my home insurance is paid up just so long as I can have some quiet.

And with the news of tornado watches for my area securely in my belt, I turned off the TV for the night. I noticed some dirt on my pants, and figured it was as good a time as any to start a load of laundry.