Monday, January 31, 2005

How she loved it, when she could

Through a series of events today, the poem Tattered Kaddish made entry in my life. The Kaddish is a Jewish prayer, a caring way to express your undying love and demonstrate that the soul is never forgotten. While this poem is not the actual Kaddish, I believe the explanation is important. For me, reading it again and again today has given me comfort and extended my love and understanding as to why Shelly chose to leave this world. And us. It’s been a long, long time since I wrestled my faith for understanding, more often I’m simply and purely missing her physical presence. So, although I’ve long ago accepted that I’ll never understand why, this poem, and in particular the last line, leads me to a broader comprehension.

Tattered Kaddish
Adrian Rich, from An Atlas of the Difficult World: Poems 1988-1991 (1991)

Taurean reaper of the wild apple field
messenger from earthmire gleaning
transcripts of fog
in the nineteenth year and the eleventh month
speak your tattered Kaddish for all suicides:

Praise to life though it crumbled in like a tunnel
on ones we knew and loved

Praise to life though its windows blew shut
on the breathing-room of ones we knew and loved

Praise to life though ones we knew and loved
loved it badly, too well, and not enough.

Praise to life though it tightened like a knot
on the hearts of ones we thought we knew loved us.

Praise to life giving room and reason
to ones we knew and loved who felt unpraisable

Praise to them, how they loved it, when they could.


Company's coming

The friend who I met in college when my boyfriend was cheating on me with her, and hiding me from her as well, so that we were left to figure out each other’s existence, and ended up keeping each other and dumping him and being friends to this day, which, ahem, is more than a few years. The friend who reminds me of Dandelions and Gin and Tonics (yes, together), who reminds me of the Smiths, 1,000 Mexicans and Front 242, and sweaters bought at Salvation Army, the friend who was the only one able to put a smile on my face when days got dark for me my senior year in college, the friend who still to this day collects silly, curious and colorful things as bright as her personality. The friend whose life forever changed when Shelly died and who shared her broken heart with me and mine, who will still talk with me about her, and who is as surprised as I am that there was ever really a time before either of us knew her. The friend who loves chocolate, and I mean in such a way that she always has to have a supply. The friend who has the cutest pert nose in the world, and I’m not kidding. The friend who introduced me to Elvis Costello and Interview Magazine when Andy Warhol was still at the helm (that should tell you we've known each other a long time), well, she emailed last night that she's decided to visit in March. I’ve been after her for some time to come see me but I had to dangle an Elvis Costello concert in front of her for her to move into action. Yeah, that was all the bait necessary.

I'm already so excited I can't stand it. Good times in the future!

Everyday now, something different

It's happening. Spring is yawning and stretching and slowing waking from Winter's dormant state. And it seems to have started while I was away in freezing cold Chicago. I was only gone three days but in that short amount of time, color had broken through the brown. Spring marks her entrance here with the tulip trees, and they've begun to bloom, all purple and lovely. And even though I enjoy the wider views that the bare trees allow, in a couple weeks I'll be seeing tiny green leaves breaking out everywhere, and the Redbud trees will dot the landscape in explosions of color. And in a month, the Confederate Jasmine will bloom and the air will be made sweet from their clouds of blossoms. There will be surprises of color and sweet scents everywhere. This morning was grey and misty but nonetheless, the Robins were hopping about all over the place. It has started. Happy days!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Even though our first date was so-so, may I see you again?

Dear Chicago,

It wasn't love at first sight, not like other cities I've visited. But after our first date, I am intrigued and I'd like to see you again. Maybe after you warm up to me a bit. I mean really, two degrees? How am I supposed to discover what you have to offer when you are frigid? Your waters are ice, your winds make my cheeks red. But still I know there's more to you than this. I saw your lake shores and your Navy Pier, your Millennium park, your Soldiers' Field. I saw your Gold Coast, Sears Tower and John Hancock. But how can you expect me to get to know you when I can't be outside for more than five minutes? You and me? We will happen, but we'll be a spring and summer relationship. I think I can love you, but I need your heat, not your cold, cold heart.


Friday, January 28, 2005

And what's your room number?

The beauty of hotels: the USA Today newspaper delivered to my door and reading it in bed while sipping good coffee also delivered to my door, not having to make the bed, having my bathroom cleaned everyday, and room service. And in this morning’s case, I also like that outside my window is a stunning view of the rising sun in all its rose and lavender glory.

What I don’t like about hotels is that I’ve stayed in so many I forget my room number, much less which direction my room is from the elevator. And new trouble brewing for me is forgetting to bring my key when I leave the room, or bringing a different card altogether. Earlier this morning, I brought my valued guest card with me, and that may have been great for getting fresh fruit delivered to the room upon check-in, but it did not get me access to my room. Carol, the woman at the front desk, found this a bit too amusing for my comfort at 7:00 this morning.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Weather report

Something I don't often (ever) hear at home - Snow throughout the morning, high today of 25, wind chill minus 10. Oh yeah, it's cold here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

All the ingredients but no recipe

Apparently I'm a member of the valued guest program at the particular hotel in which I'm staying. I did register for this way-back-when, but don't recall which hotel programs provide what. This one though, this one is nice. I'm in my room for five minutes and Guest Services arrives at my door with a plate of fruit, two bottles of water and a bucket of ice. Of course I handle this in my usual way and tell the guy flatly that I did not order that. His response was it's free because you're in our valued guest program. He could have stopped after free. So, here I am in Chicago. It's cold and snowing outside, but in my room I have an incredible view, an enormous pillow-top bed, and a bowl of grapes. And I'm alone. Doesn't seem right.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Gold leaf and sin

New make up colors: Gold Leaf and Sin. It could be said of me today, she has a shine in her eyes. And sin on her cheeks. I don't know, I like it.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Silent night

On this, my last night here, it is 7:30 and I am the only living thing awake in the house. Kat is sleeping atop the couch in the master bedroom, Labs 1 and 2 are snoring on the couch in the living room, Eats like a Lab is asleep on the entryway rug and Finicky is snoozing on a towel by the water bowl. They played outside the entire day, chasing the ball, chasing each other, chasing and barking at mysterious sounds they heard and needed to announce. They've been inside and quiet for the past hour now, curled up in their spots. This, this is my favorite thing about dogs on a Sunday evening after a full weekend. They are wiped out with content. Bless them.

Day 3 - Humility

Last night the winds picked up and the temperature dropped. Perfect for a fire in the fireplace, especially when there are Duraflames. How easy is that? Well, for most of the people walking the planet, quite. But for me, not so very. This is the hazard of being born with a gene that over-thinks everything. Which side is the front? If I light the paper at the arrows, are they supposed to be at the bottom or the top? Happily, I figured it out. Just light it anywhere, it will burn.

So for someone who struggled with lighting a Duraflame, what do you think I was thinking when I decided to put leashes on all four dogs this morning to take them for a walk? Something in my mind rang a bell to warn me, but I did not listen. Foolish, foolish decision. All I can really say of it is that different dogs have different ideas of which scent to pursue and care not if they wrap leashes around trees, light posts, other dogs, your legs, or their own. We were out for 30 minutes and it took me no less than 15 to untangle the leash lines when we finally did get back to the house. This little exercise has completely shattered my dream to one day have two or three dogs. Completely.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Day 2 - Realizations

When I was a child, my parents frequently traveled to Spain or England or on sailing trips along the Caribbean islands, long trips, two or three weeks a stretch. For those of us left behind, meaning my brother, my sister and me, Mom and Dad would hire a woman to stay at the house and care for us during their absence. Mrs. Matsky was one of those women. She was short and fat and smelled odd, and she had two small poodles. Now, my family has always been of the mindset that unless a dog weighs in at over 50 pounds, it’s not a real dog. Our dog George, a solid German Shorthair Pointer, qualified as a real dog. And we loved him, my sister and me in particular. So, naturally, we found Mrs. Matsky’s little poodles to be a tolerable nuisance. That is until feeding time on her first night with us, where she locked George in the laundry room with his food and fed her two rats right there in our kitchen. My sister and I were outraged. We had to do something to speak out for George’s rights in his own house. So that night while Mrs. Matsky was sleeping we took the Guinea pig and her seven babies from their cage in my sister’s room and went downstairs and oh so quietly snuck into Mrs. Matsky’s room. Carefully, we untucked the sheets at the foot of the bed and while I held the sheets open, my sister put all the critters in the bed and then we ran back up to our rooms. Of course when we heard her screaming about one minute later, we ran back to collect them. And while she was gasping for air and holding one hand to her heart, we got a serious lecture with all kinds of threats along the lines of us not being able to go outside tomorrow, and wait until your parents get home, etc. It didn’t stop her from feeding George in the laundry room but Mrs. Matsky did start sleeping with the bedroom door locked, and nervously eyeing us the entire time, wondering what we had up our sleeves next because during her stay we hid her purse, hid her dog food, hid her sewing, turned off the stove when she was cooking, turned off the oven when she was baking, locked her out of the house when she went to get the morning paper, and anything else we could come up with to make her stay with us a miserable one.

All of this is relative because this morning when I was feeding the four dogs, in effort not to repeat last night’s fiasco, I was standing in the kitchen watching my dog eat while Finicky was outside and the other two dogs, the dogs that live in this house, well, they were eating in the garage. After all this time, I understand Mrs. Matsky. But I don’t regret the guinea pig incident. Oh, and when my parents did get home from that trip, they were beside themselves with laughter, my father in particular when Mrs. Matsky told them that their children were – and I quote – heathens. We never saw her again.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Day 1 - Disasters

If you've ever tried to feed four dogs at one time, then you can skip the first part of this post. If you haven't, my advice to you is to refrain from attempting it. Figure out the square root of negative one or something but do not try this. With two Labradors and two smaller black dogs, one of which eats like a Lab and the other a finicky eater, well you have the recipe for a disastrous feeding hour. Labs 1 and 2 ate their dinner no problem, in about 20 seconds. As I go to fill Finicky's bowl, Lab 1 (mine) pushes her snout in it and I have to hold her back with my knee while Eats like a Lab seizes the opportunity and moves away from her bowl to Finicky's bowl, which of course allows Lab 2 to make her move to Eats like a Lab's bowl. I grab collars and move Eats Like a Lab back to her bowl and Finicky back to hers while using one knee to hold back Labs 1 and 2 and foolishly trying to open the garage door with my elbow so that Labs 1 and 2 can get in the house and let the others eat in peace. That's when I tripped over Lab 1 and fell on the garage floor. But the good thing about falling is that it got all the dogs' attention for the split second window that I needed in order to get the door open and Labs 1 and 2 in the house. I put them in the back yard and returned to the garage to see Eats like a Lab happily finishing the remainder of Finicky's bowl contents. *Sigh* Tomorrow morning I’m going to approach this from a different angle. I’m going to measure out everyone’s kibbles and put everything in one big bowl, and then I’m going to dump that bowl into one pile in the yard. Help yourself dogs!

I did title this post with disasters plural didn’t I? The next disaster is all Finicky’s doing. When I got here, this house was spotless, and by spotless I mean that it was sparkling, eat-off-the-floor clean (not that I would, understand, but it was that clean). And within two minutes, while I unloaded my bag from the car, Finicky had brought a stick in the house and before I knew it, she had walked around while chewing and gnawing and tearing that stick into unrecognizable bits of stick. And the floor became something you wouldn’t walk on barefoot. Stick bits everywhere. And by everywhere, I do mean all over the friggin place.

Lastly, also to be filed under disasters, is my brilliant notion to take the cover off the patio table and chairs. The cover has been there a while, I assume, because there were fairly large pools of water that had accumulated here and there. Obviously it was doing its job to protect the chairs from the elements. But, sadly enough, not from me. Although I tried to approach the task systematically, I failed miserably, and while pulling the cover off, managed to soak myself. And the chairs. And all four dogs. So, all within an hour’s time I’ve managed to fall down, to likely starve one dog, to get the patio furniture wet, and to get this previously sterile floor covered in bits of sticks and semi-muddy paw prints in all sizes and strides. I'm sure I'll never be asked to care for the dogs again but the real burning question is when is the cleaning lady coming again?

The girl

Originally uploaded by withoneel.

It's no secret that my attachment to Cheyenne goes way beyond what can be defined as normal. Since the first time I held her and she flashed her baby blues at me, I've had a serious case of puppy love, and she has pretty much ruled the show. I first felt the lump in her chest in December. And every day I've felt for it again to see if it had grown or changed shape or hopefully gone away altogether. No such luck. So, today, we went to the vet to face whatever it might be. As we waited for the doctor, I sat in the chair wondering what I was going to do if this was cancer. Of course treat her, but what was I going to feel, how was this going to change me, us? She sat nervously at my feet and kept looking up at me for a clue as to when we could leave this place. And I mindlessly played with her ears while inside I was shaking and wanting to throw up, wondering in what state she and I were going to walk out of here. After sticking a needle in the lump and drawing out some horrific looking fluid, the vet said something about tests and being back in a few minutes. My mind worked overtime during the wait, palms sweating, feeling in that little room that we were all alone in the world, and very ill-prepared. So when the vet returned and said benign fatty tumor, well my relief was audible, and the room and our lives came back into happy focus again. After that it was all about the park and treats and joyfulness. She's on the couch right now, fast asleep and cancer free.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Out West where the grass is fake but the cash is real

Two friends of mine are heading to Vegas this evening. Actually a lot of people I know are going to Vegas for the weekend. It's all the same trip but everyone is leaving different days and times and returning different days and times, and staying in a couple different hotels. A bunch of independents in that group, I say. Me, I'm staying home with the dogs. Yes, plural. My dog... and her dog... and their two dogs. And I'm staying at their house. Which is big and in the middle of, well, far away from the city. So you can imagine me in blissful seclusion all weekend, just me and my canines. And for the travelers, I wishing lots of luck: four leaf clovers, rabbit's feet (grosse), lucky stars, gris gris, a horse shoe, and let's toss some feng shui in there as well. Can't hurt. I hope their smiles are large, laughter loud, glasses full, and dice hot. And ladies, drink lots of water and stay on the right side of the law, you hear?

Dos and don'ts of the dog park

You come to the dog park with pockets full of treats and act all surprised and flustered when my dog gets a whiff of this, trots up to you, burries her nose in your pockets and will not leave you alone about it. Honestly, what did you expect? And if you don't stop acting that way and instead put your hand in your pocket and pull out a treat for her, we're both going to be here all day. No, seriously. Next time, please leave either the treats or the mock shock at home, yeah?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

You live your life as if you've been promised tomorrow

It seems that I’ve been doing my best to deny your various emotional and drug abuses and highly manipulative ways. And, apparently, when it comes to you I’m quite skilled in my denial skills. I’m a complete fool, and utterly blind. Why do I believe you, why do I believe in you? Why do I believe every explanation or denial of yours? Am I incapable of seeing the truth? Perhaps so because when one sees the truth, one really is expected to handle it. And apparently I just cannot handle the truth about you, so I’ve denied it on some naive hope that I was actually making a difference in your life, that this was going to be like one of those Hallmark movies where everything works out okay and everyone gets to feel good because their love and hard work paid off. But that’s not this, is it? There’s no denying it now. Nor is there any denying that I’m a fool for thinking I could love you through this, for thinking that if I believed in you enough, encouraged you enough, then you’d start to believe in yourself. If I loved you enough, then you would love yourself.

I haven't once pointed out to you your complete lack of maturity or your total refusal to take responsibility for your actions. I have not once said, "You know, it's really NOT okay, what you did." Instead I’ve run around behind every one of your disasters and picked up all the pieces. I’ve even damaged my own standing in the family with my insistence that what you really needed was a break. Some time. Love. Compassion. Whatever. While you have been busy damaging yourself and the family at the rate of at least one HUGE episode a week, I have walked the fine and exhausting line between defending you to them, and then defending them to you. I have tried to be mediator and interpreter, and for what? You keep going about your selfish ways, without even a second thought. I have asked you, no, begged you to try. I’ve begged you to just try. And you, you look me in the eye and say that you will. And as quickly as you’ve said the words, you turn around and forget them. I wonder, do you think I'm in this for myself?

I wish you had the maturity to acknowledge that the very things that you've done are what have brought about the consequences you face, or don't face as is your case. I wish you had the maturity to acknowledge that these consequences came from your own poor decisions and not from some teacher, coach, parent, uncle, aunt, or some notion of everyone ganging up on you. I wish you’d stop being such a self-important little shit. I wish you’d realize that YOU are responsible for the mistakes you've made and continue to make. I wish you would not blame your mistakes on anything and everyone. I wish you would see the direct line between your behavior and your unhappiness and anger. You want the privileges of an adult? Then grow up. Really, it’s way past time. If you ever took an objective look at how hard we have all worked for you, made adjustments for you, ran interference and came up with alternatives for you, you would be so humbled that all you would be able to do is drop to your knees and cry out loud for the amazing and undeserved gifts you’ve been given, and the equally amazing and undeserved responses and actions we've gotten back from you. Because every single thing we’ve done for you, you’ve gotten pissed off at us as if we were doing something TO you and not FOR you. Well, you know what? YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU. Get it? Understand that much if you don’t grasp anything else. And grow up, please. Stop smoking pot, stop stealing, stop lying, stop tuning the world out and the volume up, stop complaining, stop talking back and cursing and yelling, stop thinking that the world owes you, that your family owes you, stop refusing to see what you are doing to yourself and what you are doing to this family, stop locking us out, and stop this behavior that is going to ensure you live your entire adult life plagued with regret. Stop killing any and every chance of a happy life for yourself. And stop breaking my heart. Please.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

He took his sweet time about it, and drove his Mom bonkers with the wait, but he has finally made his debut

Late last night, one of my dearest friends gave birth to her second son. His name is Rider Jackson. He was born on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and also he shares his birthday with Benjamin Franklin. I'd say this little guy is in good company. And since both his parents not only possess gigantic hearts, but also Mensa-worthy brains, he'll no doubt earn his own honors.

My friend called me this morning to tell me about Rider's entrance into this world and I was absolutely floored by the sound of her voice. There was a lilt to it and a certain beauty and delirious happiness that is not at all of this world. I've only heard that one other time, and that's when a different friend gave birth to her first child. I have no personal reference whatsoever to birthing a baby but I do know this much -- it brings a definite difference to the voice. Who knows, maybe it's the "What was I thinking?" exhaustion.

I'm proud of my friend. I've known her for years now and she's always been a brave girl, graduating college and moving away from the home she knew well to a part of the country she didn't know at all because she thought the guy was worth following (wise decision, he's the father of the children, her partner in this joyful but daunting trek through parenthood). And in this strange city she found a job and earned her Masters degree, and met me. Lucky me! And then several years ago, her courage kicked in again and she again left everything she knew and moved to New Jersey because it was time to start thinking about starting a family and she knows that Grandparents will not let you live it down if it requires airplane trips and holidays for them to see their grandchildren. Grandparents also make great babysitters when you need some time to yourself. My friend is no fool.

Welcome to the world, Rider. As I post this, you are only about 13 hours old. Hours old. Odd to think about. I cannot wait to meet you. Apparently your older brother cannot wait to meet you as well. Your Mom told me that he built a bear for you last week. Your first! Though books and reading are a bit in the future for you, you'll no doubt meet another bear, Winnie the Pooh, along your way through this world. A.A. Milne wrote the Winnie the Pooh books and today is his birthday -- again, you really are in good company. Milne said, "Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."

Rider, may your world be enchanting, and may you always have that special bear friend to play with.

Monday, January 17, 2005

This one's for you, and you know who you are

Nothing is wrong with cereal for dinner. Absolutely nothing at all.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

It never rains in Indianapolis

You learn a lot about your friends when you open up a game of Scrabble with them. You learn what kind of winners they are and what kind of losers they are. Just, say, for instance that when a certain someone wins ALL FOUR Scrabble games, that she actually does do a dance and draws a star above her initials on the scorecard -- as if you couldn't just surmise on your own from the column totals that she won. You also learn that while they can play foreign words and Latin prefixes and whatnot, you on the other hand will not be allowed to use proper names at a time when the only letters you can play are an E and a D. Your Q, J and V won't be getting you very far but these people show no mercy. And, sadly for a certain someone but hillariously for the rest of us, you learn that the certain someone likely was not paying attention in grade school when her class was taught how to construct words with the letters of the alphabet. To illustrate, I offer up three examples. Her first was HERL. Well, no, it would have to be a U or you can drop the L but we would not accept HERL. Later she opted for GLOBH which raised eyebrows and resulted in one friend hurling her recently sipped beer out into the air and all over the table. And, lastly, she coughed up POTT. Generous with her Ts, isn't she? But we love her and we don't expect her to be skilled at everything because she does possess many other valuable skills, such as building the fires that we've enjoyed every minute we've been here. And she sings too, though she gets the words mixed up. Because, actually, the lyrics are it never rains in California. She's kept us laughing today. Hard. Seriously, it's enough to put you in the Loony Boon.

The art of nothingness

It's cold outside and it's warm inside. The trees have lost their leaves and they look fragile and cold out there. The sky is a beautiful and clear baby blue and the sun is shining and it's nice to look out and see it but it's nicer to be in here knowing the beauty is out there rather than being out there knowing there's a fire burning in here.

This weekend, my friends and I have perfected our skills at doing absolutely nothing at all. Beyond putting wood on the fire and breaking out the Scrabble board or maybe flipping through a magazine for the latest Brad & Jen stories, or doing the Crossword puzzle, there has been precious little activity going on around here. And that's just about as perfect a weekend as you can have at the cabin.

Unnecessary consumption

This morning I discovered something that I despise more than Hummers. And that is Hummers towing Cigarette boats. What a selfish waste of non-renewable resources. It made me so mad that I wanted to pull the Hummer over, open the driver's door, pull the guy out and tell Cheyenne to "sick him." And when she finished tearing him up, I'd say, "That's for stealing energy from our grandchildren, you selfish, more-than-your-fair-share-using, egotistical bastard." And then I'd spit on him. But in reality I could never do that, and Cheyenne would only wag her tail and lick the guy, and my Mother taught me that ladies DO NOT spit. So there goes that. Instead I did the only thing I could do. I shook my head and gave him my best dirty look. It's a doozy, that look, and I'm sure he knows exactly why he was on the receiving end of it.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Pure genius

So, I just read this quote from President Bush, "Sometimes words have consequences." Um, well, yeah. And sometimes one and one equals two. I'm absolutely stunned by the brilliance of that statement.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Soapbox rant... and I AM pissed

I don't care on which side of the fence in this argument you sit. Has anyone noticed the real problem? Has anyone noticed that while the so-called adults are squabbling over interpretation of the word theory on a textbook's warning sticker that STUDENTS WILL NOT READ ANYWAY, that we are turning out some of the dumbest highschool graduates that we ever have? Can we please focus on the real problems? Because, you see, while you're arguing the pros and cons of barbecue sauce, Junior is playing with matches by the lighter fluid.

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A federal judge in Atlanta, Georgia, has ruled that a suburban county school district's textbook stickers referring to evolution as "a theory not a fact" are unconstitutional.

In ruling that the stickers violate the constitutionally mandated separation between church and state, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper ruled that labeling evolution a "theory" played on the popular definition of the word as a "hunch" and could confuse students.

The disclaimers were put in the books by school officials in 2002.

"Due to the manner in which the sticker refers to evolution as a theory, the sticker also has the effect of undermining evolution education to the benefit of those Cobb County citizens who would prefer that students maintain their religious beliefs regarding the origin of life," Cooper wrote in his ruling.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

If I could paint, I'd spend my life trying to capture this

When I set out this morning, the sky around me stretched and yawned its way from dark grey to slate blue. It is true there are no colors in the absence of light – all things become blocks and shapes in black. Even an ordinary trashcan or a street sign can become eerie and important. This morning, a mist was thick on the ground and wrapping around every tree. But as the sky slowly lightened, the mist dissipated and left in its place enormous swaths of dew on the grass. And when the first sun rays came up, the grass was illuminated into a glistening outburst of sparkles. And as usual I just stood there in awe. Witnessing these slowly waking winter mornings strengthens me and sweetens my day. It reminds me that I shortchange myself when I don’t make time for this. It’s no accident, this beauty here.

Market survey

Note to Auto Zone: The battery commercial you're airing on the radio, the one that says that if your battery is more than three years old, it might not make it through another long, cold winter... well, we expect a high of 80 today, and it's only been in the 30s twice since Thanksgiving. It might be better to switch out "cold" with "hot." Just a suggestion.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Salad days

Arugula, rocket, roquette, rucola, rugula… No matter what you call it, it’s the best tasting salad green. Period. And baby Arugula? Even better. If you do not believe me then you should run not walk to the grocery store right this minute and get yourself some. Seriously, go now. Go on.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

What happens in Vegas...

I have a good friend who I see on a fairly regular basis, and she has two good friends who live about 20 miles outside the city in a beautiful and spacious home, and I get to go there with my friend on a Friday night and have so much fun that I end up spending the night because it would make no sense, and be illegal not to mention highly dangerous, to drive home. So, this is how it went down Friday night. And it was quite a night but I cannot talk or write about it because we agreed that it would never leave Fall Creek. But tonight we got together for dinner in town and they were upset that there was no mention of the evening here and I had to remind them of the deal we made. And that was enough. So too is this. Except for the fact that I do not eat chocolate cake, not even at 5:30 in the morning.

You could poke an eye out

It's all fun and games on a Saturday night, drinking beer with your friends in their backyard, the fire in the Chiminea keeping you warm, watching the internal pyro come out in some of your friends as they feed the fire and feed it some more. But when the small twigs and medium sticks are all gone, and one friend drags from behind the garage a branch that is so big, it could be a tree outright, and the other friends says "Let's get the chainsaw," well, that's when I have to draw the line.

Danger, oncoming

I was walking through the enormous IKEA parking lot yesterday and you came into my mind and I was smiling and remembering this and that and I thought that I would send you a quick "hey, I'm thinking about you" text when I got to my car. And then a car honked at me and scared me half to death because apparently I was in a daze and walked right in front of it, so, fare enough, but it really did scare me. When I got to my car I decided not to sent you a text saying, "I almost got run over by a car while thinking about you."

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Is this a joke?

There is a park in my neighborhood that I take my dog to on weekends. There's lots of green space for a good game of fetch and for her to nose about and just be a dog. It's a popular park with a ball field, jogging track, tennis court, and several picnic tables spread out beneath the trees. Two sides of the park are abutted by an apartment complex and the other two sides are lined by streets. This morning I noticed a policewoman writing parking tickets and placing the tickets beneath the windshield wipers of the cars parked along the street, presumably the cars that belong to the players in the baseball game that was going on. I watched her for a while and then noticed the new "No Parking" signs along the park side of the street. (There are already "No Parking" signs along the other side.) Does this make any sense at all? You can go to the park and you can be at the park but you may not under any circumstances drive yourself to the park in a car that you intend to park there. Surely there are myriad other ways for the city to pinch cash from the little guy.

Friday, January 07, 2005

The falling of old trees

My friend’s Grandmother passed away last night. She was 94 years old. When we hear of the elderly dying, the first thing out of our mouths is so often along the lines of, “well, they had a full life,” but that seems sadly dismissive to me. While I imagine it does take some of the shock away, because we’re all going to die and being in your mid-90s is undeniably having a long life, I tend to view the elderly passing the same way I view the felling of a mature tree – what's left is a void that will never be filled in our lifetime.

I got to thinking about her age. Ninety-four. When she was born, the life expectancy for females was 51.8 years. Well, she showed them, didn’t she? She was born when Taft was President of the United States – and 17 Presidents were at the helm of this country during her lifetime. She lived through two world wars, Vietnam, and several others. Not to mention the prohibition. Stamps were 0.2 cents when she was born, and the average annual income was $750.00 a year. The transatlantic phone call had not yet been made. Can you imagine how far away walking on the moon or cell phones or vaccines were in the collective thinking at the time? Can you imagine the library of world events? She was alive when the Boston Red Sox won their first world series. And their second. She witnessed the debut of Kleenex, and the discovery of penicillin.

I never met her but I’ve heard a houseful of stories about her that left me laughing until I cried. The impression I got was that she was in many ways a lady, and in some ways a pistol. All the way up until last year she drove her big ‘ol car down the streets of her town – usually in the middle of the road. Say what you want about safety, but in Texas, we call that Character. A pistol indeed. May she rest in Peace.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Little brown seal

Originally uploaded by withoneel.
I've heard that the greatest American story is about a boy and his dog. I say rubbish to that. A girl and her dog make an equally great story - and I count several of these great story combos as my friends. This one to the right, she's my story, my welcome home, my buddy. She's looking quite regal in this photo but don't be fooled - in reality she's a putz.


Odd how the darkness always makes us whisper
and with the last of the sun
you can feel the approach of the winter
Now is the time of each day
that I Desperately miss her
I suppose I will learn how to live my life without her.
- Come Calling, Cowboy Junkies, Lay it Down

I miss you. I miss your laughter and I miss your anger. I miss your hair and I miss the flecks in your eyes. I miss how very well you knew me. I miss the absurd luxury of the option to return your phone calls. Every day I think of you. Every. Single. Day. You do not haunt me but you have not left me, and I will never let you go. It has been years now, soon it will be ten. I talk about you often and friends worry that I still grieve, saying “You have to get over this.” Over this? The statement is laughable but also so ridiculous that hearing it pisses me off. I hear new music, new songwriters, and I wonder what you would think. What words would come from your mouth, say, to describe Pete Yorn? I meet new people and wonder what you would think of them. I stand still and quiet and wonder what you would think of me. I think of how happy you'd be for Gus, how you'd adore her husband and children, especially her children. You would spin magic around those girls. When I drive by your old place on Gramercy I cannot do so without glancing to your old window and sighing. Intuition whispers to me that you are the surface of every calm lake, the bow of the willow, the steam rising from a galloping horse’s chest in the winter. You’re a ball cap and blue jeans. You’re coffee. And eggs. And cheeseburgers. You’re a rope swing swaying from a high branch of an old Cypress tree on the banks of the Guadalupe river. You’re the drum beat over any dance floor. You’re a stuffed penguin. You’re La Jalience and Fairview. Austin and Houston and San Antonio. I love you. Do you know that? You are my friend and I still talk to you. All the time.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Moring glory

My skyline is made of branches not buildings. The branches reach up and up like bony fingers stretching for the light of heaven. I walk beneath 11 Oak Trees ever morning, bare now and vulnerable. I worship them. Fall colors come late here, after Christmas usually. It’s a delight to see the oranges, yellows and reds of the Bradford Pear, Red Maple and Cottonwood trees popping out against the evergreens. It’s musical like a baby’s laughter peeling through church. The Oak Trees have dropped their leaves by now and each has flat rings of orange and brown leaves in a wide circle around their trunks. I walk off the sidewalk and through the leaves, hearing them crunch under my feet and kicking up my steps a bit, turning around to see the little path I’ve made through them. I worship this too. I look up to the sky to see the lace patterns the bare branches make. The sunrise is strips of orange and pink across the soft cotton gray blue. A few leaves hang on to their branches and dance in the breeze up there. They seem to be stars, alone and bright. There is no death, there is no ambition, only seasons. This makes me smile; this is a prayer.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Welcome to the world baby girl

Now that I'm here, now that I have somewhere to say my somethings, my mouth is dry, throat chokes, fingers have frozen. Doesn't that just figure? Public speaking takes some time; surely public writing follows suit.