Thursday, June 28, 2007

Trying to maintain.

I am really trying to keep going one day at a time recording my thoughts and daily 'adventures' in my altered book/journal. June has been a difficult month for me. There has been so much to do and not enough time.
I am wishing I were retired and had all my time to myself. The reality is that I give my time away to various people and causes and doubt I will ever 'own' my time.
My goal, however, is to enjoy each day and moment as it comes. On Tuesday I walked to work and enjoyed the sights and sounds I miss when I drive. I am hoping (should I say 'planning' in order to sound more determined?) to walk to work again tomorrow.
It has rained today and there is more in the forecast, so the experience should be a little different from the other day when I walked in warm sunshine.
It is after 9 p.m. and I was just outside taking photos of rain-drenched flowers. I can't resist my garden. Before that I was eating raspberries from the refrigerator. Deeelicious!
Today I turned down the opportunity to work 40 hours a week, and instead will do my 30 to 35. I enjoy leaving or arriving when I want to. At least, after my work is done.
I have still been writing and editing obituaries for the paper where I work, and it's difficult not to put in the family's emotional words and keep to the general outline of our paper's style.
A tender heart in charge of obits? Perhaps it's not a job for me.
Enjoy the photo for today. It is rain-soaked false Solomon's seal ... I think.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Weekends are for fun.

On Saturday at the local farmers market we found this lovely trio performing. Beautiful, yet sober in their intense concentration, we listened to them in mute appreciation. It was sunny and the vendors were plentiful. Another trio came home with us - strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
In the second photo - taken today - you can see what became of these wonderful berries. In this blood glucose monitoring-household, two slices of bread will be our ration for the day. However, with eggs, milk and cinnamon the baked French toast, with its hot topping of berries, made a breakfast fit for a king or queen.
I am sharing it with you the only way I can, via photo. Yum!
Add two cups of espresso and I am ready to go. I hope your Sunday started this well.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Longest Day of the Year

Today, June 21, is the longest day of the year. Right now, here on the West Coast, it is 9:03 p.m. and still light out. The picture of the lilies on this site was taken around 8:45 p.m. Still enough light for a great photo.
Yet today was not nearly long enough for everything I wanted to do. The day was long enough for the things I should have done, and for the things I promised to do. However, it was not long enough for my personal agenda.
So I ask myself if this day was a good day, a day well spent. I think it was, since I got a hug from my brother for bringing him home from the hospital. I went to work and earned more money for groceries and art supplies.
Aha! I did get one thing done: I bought acrylic paints to try in my altered book/journals instead of the tempera that has wreaked havoc with my pens and markers. We shall see how it works out. Judy Wise is the wonderful friend who gave me this advice and she makes wonderful altered books which double as journals, too.
There is still a smell of the mock orange filling the backyard and the subtle scent of the petunia basket in the sunroom.
All of the magnolias are blooming too high right now to pick. I want to bring one inside and let its fragrance fill the room.
On a regular basis, around this time - toward evening - I ask myself if I have laughed today. Not just chuckled or snickered, but really laughed. I think perhaps it's the secret - one of them, anyway - to staying healthy. But I feel a little sad tonight, saying goodbye to the longest day of the year. Now each day will become successively shorter and the night will fall more quickly.
Every week I find myself trying to cram more into the days, staying up later and later to finish what I didn't accomplish during daytime hours.
It's not just the days that are getting shorter, but my life ... with so much yet to do; so much to finish. I can see myself when I'm 80 years old, rushing frantically around, trying to accomplish a little bit of everything.
Why, oh, why, don't we believe the "old folks" when they tell us life goes by like a rush of wind?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Children leave home, but not your heart.

On Sunday, June 10, we had a family get together. It's not often that all three kids are here at the same time. Days like these are what I think of as "touchstone" days. It's when you have a safe harbor together, if only for a little while, and you can use the people around you as a basis for comparison; a reference point in your life: This is where I went when I left behind my childhood, my adolescence, my teen years. These were my productions; my unique contributions to the world. These children helped me learn more about the depth of love and the width of sorrow than I ever could have learned alone. When we are together I rejoice in our compatibility and the love we share.
Touchstones set the measure for all subsequent work.
Will I ever do anything more important than the work I did raising children? And did I do as good a job as possible? You would think so if you met my kids ... she said modestly. But of course, like everyone, I made mistakes - big and small.
This month in my altered book/journal my goal was to remember more about the years I was a mother, since all of that happened, really, to another person.
I would do it again if I could. I once heard my sister say that, and my mother, and I wondered at their sanity. Now I know they already knew the secret: Children leave home but not your heart - and certainly not your arms. Our wish to hold them again and smell them, like any mother animal does - our desire to experience the joy and have a chance to correct perceived mistakes - all of that pulls at us. Part of that, of course, may be the desire to be young again and delay our life's mad dash to the finish line.
My kids are accustomed to my "unusual" ideas - like having them sit in my lap for a picture. If you have small children listen to those elderly know-it-alls around you and believe them: Enjoy them while they're young, for the time goes by so fast.
Decide what your own touchstones are and pay attention to them.
(Scroll down for a larger-sized picture of the lap-full of kids.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Magnolia Tree

It's hardly the magnolia tree's fault, but here it is again ... starting to bloom. Last year at this time Mama was with us, lying in her bed by the window so she could look out at the changing scenery as June brought forth roses and other flowers.
She grew weaker each day, and yet the magnolia tree was in its prime. Older yellowed leaves dropped and buds formed and began to open.
Marvelously big buds that unfurled to reveal thick white petals so fragrant you could smell them from a block away.
We brought some into the front room and put them near Mama's bed so she could enjoy them.
Looking into the center of them, it was like you were looking into the center of the universe, where everything has no beginning and no end.
But endings come. This June there will be plenty of magnolia flowers to perfume our corner of the world.
The most I can hope is that there is a heaven. I can hope Mama can smell the flowers. I can hope she sees this girl of hers down below, thinking of her ... remembering her still and never, ever forgetting.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Yes, it's me again.

I promised myself I would only sit down at the computer to check my e-mail, and then I saw the comment from "John," who said "Keep on blogging."
Well, you can't really turn down requests like that!
Besides, I know John has certain friends who could make life tough for me if I ever decided to drive through Canada.
Today was a beautiful day and I spent most of it sitting in a room filled with computers and other people - who were also wasting a perfectly good day - earning a living.
Did you ever wonder what might happen if you sold everything you owned and lit off across the country, working in a diner here, a gas station there ... even clerking in a hardware store? Did you ever wonder how many days you have left and ask yourself whether you want to spend them in a room with a bunch of machines just to earn enough money for another bag of groceries?
On a beautiful day like today I certainly wondered. What about those lilies of the field?
But then I got to come home to the charms of my house and paint pages in the altered book I'm making for the month of June. I can open the refrigerator and choose something to eat. I can turn on the computer and ... wait! Am I in front of a computer again?
OK. Now I am going to go back to the sunroom and work on the altered book while there's still daylight. I've had enough of machines for a while.
Ta ta!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ah, yes! The addiction of it all.

Perhaps blogging isn't an addiction. Perhaps it's merely become a habit to run home and immediately sit down in front of my computer and hope that someone's left a comment for me. I know I have some readers because they have told me so by e-mail. However, I'm afraid that I have turned some of them on to becoming bloggers themselves, and oh, the guilt!
What about the yard? Will it ever get mowed again? Groceries? Will the refrigerator contain only a small bit of molded cheese and a stale bottle of soda water?
If you are like me you might micro-manage every verb and article, fine tuning your blog until (in your eyes) it's perfect. (Is fine tuning a word that should be hyphenated?) See what I mean?
Today at work, because of a co-worker's illness, I "got" to write/edit obituaries. ("Got" means "had.")
Of course, as everyone knows, there is a fine art to writing almost everything, including the congratulatory comments on birthday cards. I had to laugh at some of the guidelines the co-worker had set up for obits, however. "Try to include personal information, of course, but when they include 'she loved her family' - well, duh!" It was hard to imagine my elderly co-worker typing the words, "well, duh!"
Anyway, there may be mistakes in some of the wording of the Tuesday obits tomorrow. I'm sure someone will let me know if they are grievous mistakes.
For now, I just hope the co-worker gets better soon.
Now I must go. I have to try and think of what to make for dinner from a molded bit of cheese, some stale saltines, a tin of jalapeno sardines and sugar-free ice cream. Ta ta!

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Yesterday, my three brothers, two sisters, two brothers-in-law and a sister-in-law and I spent the morning at breakfast and then drove to the small cemetery in the town where we grew up. We wanted to cover the newer family plots with red rock, put fencing around them and decorate with flowers, since we couldn't all get together on Memorial Day to do this.
The fencing didn't work, but the rock did give it a fresher look. Miniature roses were planted at the foot of the graves, along with a small lilac tree. Across the way, beside the holly tree, we planted a snowball bush - just like the one that grew at home in our front yard. We used to have spring snowball fights with all the pretty flowers, much to our mother's chagrin.
I post the photo here so my cousins can see the results. It's a pretty little place, this rustic country cemetery, with tall fir trees and lots of memories.
I've included a clipping of Grandma and Pop Pop at his retirement "going away." The cake says "So long, Tex!" Tex was his nickname. It's one of the few photographs we have of the two of them together.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

What's going on?

OK. My obsession with Joyce Carol Oates has not ended with the missed opportunity to see her in person. I actually called the book store and tried to get through to an employee who might have managed the event. And why? Because I thought I might live vicariously through their experience at her book reading and signing, I guess. I sounded like an absolute nut case, stuttering and trying to explain myself to the operator transferring my call to the right person.
I actually did leave a message with "Emily." She did not return my call. Perhaps she had been warned off by the operator I spoke to.
What if "Emily" told me the event had been poorly attended? Would I feel guilty? The main reason I did not go was exhaustion and the thought of being in an extremely crowded room with hundreds of other fans. Plus the trial of finding a parking place.
However, I wanted "Emily" to tell me what a wonderful evening everyone had and how Oates' wit just sparkled up the room. I wanted her to make me feel really bad, because now I remember why I do crazy things: A missed opportunity is regretted forever.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Who I was supposed to be.

This, I think, is who I was supposed to be. Well, not actually Joyce Carol Oates, but someone like her. Someone with drive, determination and the ability to tell a great story. My feverish brain is always working to contrive plots, dramas and brilliant stories of lust, revenge and true love.
When I read on Wikipedia that Oates once had a copy of "Alice in Wonderland" as a girl, and treasured it because there were so few books in her home, I could not believe the similiarity with my own past. We didn't have many books, but I did have a copy of this one, which I lost one summer in a Scotch broom "fort" we built. I left the book there one afternoon, and when I went back to find it that evening I couldn't! I was always convinced the White Rabbit had picked it up while passing through the bushes on his way to the tea party. And ... if this isn't enough ... Oates and I both worked on our high school newspapers! (Separated at birth?)
At age 15 I determined never to marry. I would leave my small Oregon town and move to the Left Bank of Paris where I would work on my novel. I never thought about how I would live or how I would eat. I pictured myself in a garret, starving; so I guess I thought those garrets were given away gratis to those crazy Americans who thought they needed one.
I can see it now: an entire section of the City of Lights devoted to starving artists. I suppose, now, they are just scattered around and work at McDonald's during the day and none of them starve. Cholesterol counts are probably sky-high.
However, my determinations lay elsewhere - along with my drive and abilities.
I wish I could tell you that the 10 story ideas I have worked on has at least turned into one book, but alas, I cannot tell a lie. I have never finished a one of them.
My Script Frenzy is waiting for me to add a single word to the count. What can the problem be? Blogging? Oh, surely not! But then again, maybe it wouldn't hurt to stop for a day or two.
Enjoy your own time blogging, everyone out there in Silent Land.
Ta, ta!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Yoga paradise

Today I spent one and a half hours in yoga bliss. We did restorative yoga for our last class this spring term. Ahhhhh! Made going back to work much less painful.

I then went "on assignment" (as we call it in the "biz") and took photos for an upcoming garden tour fundraiser at a local home high on a windswept hillside. The house was landscaped to the nth degree. Fabulous 180 degree view from the back yard!

Tonight Joyce Carol Oates is speaking/reading to a group in a town close to mine. I cannot believe I am not sitting or standing somewhere on the edges of a group of Oates maniacs. What would it take to lure me from my comfortable home on a Tuesday night? Or, rather, who would it take? I did go to see Amy Tan, but actually I never "saw" her; I only heard her. There was no way to stretch my 5' 2" frame in order to see over everyone's heads. Maybe that's how I thought the Oates talk would go.

I have to confess that I am falling behind on my one day at a time/one month each month/altered book quota. I do have the first of June page and one more painted page with a few bits of trivia - a grocery receipt and list. I had better get to work on some other parts of my life and leave the blogging alone for a while. This stuff is addictive. (I'm sure I'm not the first to note this.)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Another day, more behind

Today I feel overwhelmed with all that I have taken on. Too much! Too much!
I have work to do during the day ... reading, editing, more reading ... and then I come home to compose an article (well, actually, several articles) for a nonprofit group's newsletter. And then there's the 20,000 word play I'm supposed to be writing for Script Frenzy, the June bug cousin of Nanowrimo. There's also the daily journal I'm supposed to be keeping in the altered books I've been making - one every month.
Argh! Driven to Deadlines. Maybe that should be the name of the play I write.
Today in our part of the Pacific Northwest there was a lightning storm. A tree got hit in our town, and add electricity to the water inside the tree ... ka bam! A giant explosion. Three houses around it were slightly damaged. The tree is history. And two birds in one of the homes died. Not from the electricity, but I would suppose from the sound of the explosion. Birds' little hearts just can't take it, I guess.
And on an eblog note, I tried to follow the instructions for putting a photo up in my header, but not much luck there. I'll have to go back and watch the vlog again. The photo appears, but is giant. I reduced the size, with it in back of the type, but then you can't read what the blog's about. The type becomes too dim. Ah, well. Perhaps I'll post the photo to the side with this post.

One day at a time, one day at a time.

Friday, June 1, 2007


Today, with the help of a female accomplice, I scored some old windows -- most of them with glass intact. I can't tell you how I plan to transform them because I don't know. (They will hopefully end up as cute as the "petunia chair" I painted.)
I want to scatter them or hang them in my flower gardens. Maybe I will try some glass painting. I know in the craft shop I saw special paint that might do the trick.
Maybe I will paint beautiful ladies to lure the slugs away from my flowers. Everyone knows the lure of a lovely smile causes slugs to drool and as they become more dehydrated they curl up and die.
But what a way to go!
Well, for some I might not be making much sense tonight, but for some ... they'll know what I'm saying.
I don't have any idea why I rescued these windows. I just couldn't stand the thought of them being destroyed when they might serve a higher purpose.
Tomorrow I will post a picture of the altered book I am now working on.
Cheers ... until then!