Friday, February 29, 2008

Boys being boys, back in the day

I was reading an article about Leap Year and in the middle of otherwise tedious calendar-speak was this little bit of history:

In 46 B.C., after his affair with Cleopatra, Caesar chose to adopt the superior Egyptian calendar, and this became known as the Julian calendar. In the first version of the Julian calendar, February had 29 days most years and 30 days in leap years. Caesar named the month of July after himself, so when Augustus came to power, he decided he needed a month too. He named August after himself, but he had to steal a day from February in order to make August as long as July.

He decided he needed a month too? He stole a day from February? The ego is amazing and yet I find the story charming.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This means something to me

Coat of Arms

The divine will be done.

I'm asking nicely

Would someone please translate this for me:

ut fert divina voluntas

I am connected to these words and yet do not know their meaning.

Do you have any idea what they mean, or any resource suggestions?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Two of my favorite things

Horses and dogs. From the weekend.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Take a left, then right, then a left and another right

In a couple of hours, I'll get in my car and begin the 90 mile drive to our family's cabin southeast of here on the Colorado River. The drive will take me off the freeway about a third of the way there and then along country roads and farm roads, through small towns with single stop lights or four-way stop signs. I'll pass enormous round bales of hay dotting pastures, and idle farm equipment spilling out of the barns. I'll pass local grocery stores that are one tenth the size of my grocery store, where teenage cashiers greet customers by name. I'll drive by a John Deere Farm Equipment facility and a lone chemical plant that sullies the countryside view but is one town's main employer, and therefore provides the livelihood of many. I'll drive a lazily winding road with enormous Live Oak trees in the fields to the left and right and a few with branches reaching across the road. I'll pass a Sno Cone stand and a trailer with "Best Bar-B-Q" painted on its side and if the number of people there in the summer is any indication, the sign might be true. The roads will take me through the familiar and I'll mentally note what has changed since my last drive, where the progress is and where time has seemingly passed by. It's a drive that is as comforting and enjoyable to me as the destination.

And if I do not stop here, I'll be late for the start of my journey.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Way back when

My first best friend was a girl named Amanda. I met Amanda when I was seven and my family moved into our second house. Amanda lived in the neighborhood beside ours and her house was a short walk along the bayou trails and through a couple back yards. We were inseparable, she and I, and the bayou and neighborhood were ours to discover and explore.

That house was paradise for a young girl filled with curiosity and energy. The property was seven acres with a bayou running along the length of the back. On a portion of the property, my father built a barn and fenced a pasture. Then he turned around and bought horses. One for my mother, one for my sister, and when I was eight years old, he bought me a Shetland Pony. A beautiful speckled gray guy, a tolerant and sometimes grumpy friend I named Ajax. Ajax was ever present in my young days and much of mine and Amanda's exploring was upon his back or with him in tow.

A week ago, Amanda sent me a letter of sympathy over the loss of my mother. In that letter, she shared many memories she had of our childhood and my mother. This one is my favorite:

As I write this, crazy times come back to mind, and your mom was soooo cool about everything. Like when we rode Ajax into the living room and broke an expensive lamp.

I don't remember how we came upon the idea to bring the outside in, but I do remember that neither of my parents were home at the time, so we rode Ajax right through the front door and into the house. When we were in the living room, as our luck would have it, Mom arrived home. As she pulled through the circle driveway, she looked through the window and there we were, two little girls and a pony. In her living room. Amanda is right in that Mom was cool about it. I think the surprise took over any other reaction she might have had. As we scrambled to get out, our sudden energy naturally startled Ajax and we did knock a lamp off a table in the entryway, and it did break. We knew we were out of line and were sincere in our apologies, something I believe she she knew was true. And so, she let it go. She just shook her head at us and told us to stay outside and play while she cleaned up the mess. Amanda and I were stunned and enormously relieved.

My Mom had many rules in my childhood and for the most part I abided by them. But where there were no rules, my curiosity or ideas were pursued without a second thought. That night at dinner, Mom announced a new rule: No horses in the house.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

These days as my own

If you've seen a grass fire, then you know that when one fire is smothered, another can break out in a different place. It's impossible to perceive what will happen next, or where. I can liken that to what my life has been like the past three years, seemingly running from one emergency to the next, chasing solutions like a ghost through a fog.

So perhaps it's not odd at all that over the past several weeks, without the grass fires, I've been getting reaquainted with myself. The juggling has ceased, the urgency has ceased, the worry and the running have ceased, the grueling emotions have ceased. While I do mourn my mother, there are enormous parts of my mind and heart that are no longer spinning and chasing and struggling, and that has opened my mind and my time to my own life.

Right now, I am experiencing me. It's an interesting discovery, this process of seeing who I am with this newfound time in my day and space in my mind, this time where the recipient of my strength is my own self.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Exactly why I carry a camera with me at all times


Sunlit from heaven

It's the kind of morning my father would relish. He'd quietly observe the cornflower blue sky, the wisps of clouds of pink and white, the birds singing and busily calling, visible in the bare skeletal branches of the trees. He'd breathe it in and breathe it out, enjoying the land and the sounds.

It's the kind of morning I find inspiring. When I walked Cheyenne, some part of me delighted in being part of the dawn, of the beginnings of the day. I cannot see the breeze, or the fragrance of the young blooming flowers. I cannot see the relentless determination of nature to change, but I can see the changes. Slight and subtle, tiny blooms bursting through, color appearing where just yesterday there was none.

It's the kind of morning in which I half recall and half imagine walking out onto the porch, two cups of coffee in hand, one for my father and one for me. He takes the cup I hand him, says Good morning Cat, and we stand beside each other, silently enjoying the miracle that never grows old.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday, fighting over the pillow day

I bought this pillow at Walgreens about three years ago when Cheyenne had knee surgery. I thought it would be good for her to elevate her knee on it when she slept. It cost $5.00. It has been her favorite toy, her baby, her woobie ever since. She'll ignore it for weeks and then inexplicably discover it again and run around the living room in a completely spaz because LOOK! MY WOOBIE IS HERE! It is the one toy, baby, woobie that she has not destroyed, quite possibly making it the best five dollars I have ever spent.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Two kinds of love

When I launch the internet, my home page is CNN. On the CNN page, the top story is on the left column and the latest news is listed in linkable headlines in a column to the right. Reading the headlines, without clicking onto any details beneath, can be a roller coaster of reaction on my part. Sometimes I can't bear to link to the stories, but at times, I do double click. Take this morning, for example. The 10th headline was this: Dad carries son six miles to get wheelchair. I clicked on the headline to discover a moving story of good humanity chasing after bad, a story about disabled Iraqi children and teens whose parents must carry them wherever they need to go, and a charity that donates these children wheelchairs, and basically with that, gives them dignity and independence. It felt good to read that story.

The next headline was this one: Dad bolts, leaving baby at car crash scene.

Are you shaking your head in dissapointed wonder? Yeah, me too. On that headline I did not double click.

Friday, February 15, 2008

There are songs

Three years ago today, I posted under the same title. I wrote about hearing music differently after my father passed. At the time, I was discovering how familiar lyrics could have new meaning, how music changed for me. Some songs were comforting and some launched my heart into an impossible longing to go back in time. Lately, I am learning this again.

In the post on February 15, 2005, I placed the second half of the song, Musical Key, by the The Cowboy Junkies. The second half focused on the father. Today, I post the first half. Now as then, I find comfort in this song, but now in its entirety.

My mother sang the sweetest melody
Although she never sang in a musical key
I'd hear her through the house
My name called out loud

My mother sang the sweetest melody
My mother's hands were always cool and soft
And like her eyes they would caress with every touch
She would listen to my chatter
As if every word I spoke mattered
She'd hold me close and whisper in my ear

She'd say, "girl you are a part of me
I have made you strong
When you grow up and are on your own
Remember to win them with your song"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

February 14th

The strawberry I just ate. The bow on the box, and the box itself. The collar on my dog. The shirt I am wearing. The pen in my right hand, and the envelope on my desk. The blood taken from my arm this morning. The M&Ms in the bowl in the kitchen. The paper heart someone stuck to my office door this morning. The calculator’s ON button. The spine of the Webster's dictionary on my bookshelf. The color of a single rose petal on the ground, curled slightly upward to the sky.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A walk on the morning side of the day

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I love what this lens does to blue.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Stating the obvious

Tomorrow morning I have a doctor appointment to hopefully discover the reason why I have a pain in my outer thigh, just above the knee. Sometimes the area is numb, and other times there is a shooting pain that stops me in my tracks. Both the numbness and the pain seem to be increasing in duration.

Yesterday, I got on line to research possible causes.

One site offered this: Thigh Pain: Pain affecting the thigh of the leg.

Thanks Internet, I feel so much better now. That pain in my leg, I know what it is. It's PAIN. IN MY LEG. Why didn't I think of that?

Sunday, February 10, 2008


My girl

I took this photo of my niece on Saturday afternoon. It was taken with a lens I bought in December but hadn't explored until this weekend. The lens allows you to be creative with the focal area, and to distort areas outside the focal point. It's sort of like a lateral depth of field. I like its watery results very much.

I also very much liked spending time with my niece and nephew this weekend. I liked sitting in their apartment with them, and I liked taking them to lunch. I liked listening to their voices, hearing them laugh, and having them near. I very much liked having them near.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Next exit closed

My drive to work involves the interstate that slices through the lower part of the country, and connects Florida to California, the beast known as Interstate 10. Much of my young life was spent in a house in a neighborhood off an exit from I-10. I currently live off an exit east of that one, and I work off an exit to the west. Which means that I drive to and from work along a road that oftentimes seems less a road, and more a hallway of unframed memories, and closed doors.

I pass the grocery stores my mother and father frequented, the gas stations, the high school I attended. I pass the hospital my mother was in two weeks ago, and I pass the Assisted Living Facility where my mother last lived, and where she died. I drive by the exits that are no longer mine to take. The exits that lead to the roads that lead to the home in which we no longer live. I glance at the sign and feel locked out. Not my exit anymore. I glance at the buildings and think they are no longer the buildings of my life, the stores of my life, of my neigborhood, my family. I glance at what was our neighborhood pharmacy, where I used to stop after work to fill my mother's prescriptions, in the same center as the grocery store where I used to buy her strawberries and blueberries.

I miss going into that grocery store and buying her those berries. I miss how happy she was when I'd bring her fruit.

This day, though long settled in the past, still makes me smile

Thursday, February 07, 2008

We'll have none of that

I've removed the post I wrote two days ago, the one in which I lamented the words of others but clearly said two times that I believed that the subsequent pain I was feeling was a result and not anything intentional.

I did so for two reasons: Firstly, one of the people who had upset me has apologized sincerely and we've discussed the matter and, most importantly, resolved the matter. She had not yet read what I'd written and I didn't see any need for her to do so at this point.

The second reason is that when this morning a comment turned nasty (not to mention juvenile) and personally aimed, and was written anonymously, it was time for me to remove myself (my words) from the field, because that bit of nastiness, that was intentional.

Whoever the Anonymous is in this case, and only you know who you are, rather than lurk around my site, I suggest that you hold a mirror up to your face and repeat these words: Shame on you.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday

A week ago this morning, I opened the newspaper with the hollowness in my stomach and heart that my mother's obituary was printed inside. As I drove to my brother's house that morning, I looked at the man on the street corner selling newspapers and thought that my mother's obituary was printed inside those. Part of me wanted to buy all of his papers and hide them in my car, hiding the news, somehow making it untrue. I looked at the newspaper stand outside a convenience store and thought the same thing. For three days, I felt a connection to the morning newspaper, thinking about it in hotel rooms, on airplanes, left discarded in a bus seat, in office lobbies, or park trashcans. Thinking about my mother in Section B.

On Friday, I opened the newspaper with the hollowness in my stomach and heart that my mother's obituary was not printed inside.

I did not go to work yesterday, though I had every intention of doing so. When I woke, it all seemed too normal to me, too unaffected.

Today, I unfolded the newspaper and let it be simply a newspaper. Today, I return to work. On this Tuesday, my mother is not in Section B.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Ripples of shadows

Friday morning when I awoke, there was nothing to plan or do, no activity needed, no calls to be made. My Mother's Memorial service and the dinner for close friends and family in honor and celebration of her life were both Thursday, no longer in the future or the present. The day I was waking to was a day in which there was nothing, nothing at all, that needed me or my time. Nothing, that is, but me.

I gave the day to myself, to my heart, to my grief, to who I am. I relished the coffee and ignored the paper. The brown dog and I spent much needed sunshine time at our neighborhood park, she sniffing and exploring, and me looking at the sky and the trees, then closing my eyes and filling my lungs with the crisp morning air, and my mind with the the blue and gold and brown colors surrounding me.

When we returned home, I picked up my camera, remembered how good it feels in my hands, how familiar its shape. I got in my car and returned to the church where just the day before, I prayed and sang and celebrated and mourned my mother, formally. I wanted to return, informally, wanted to return to the halls and light and my faith without anyone there but me. I wanted to kneel in the quiet and peace of the chapel. And so I did. There on my knees, I prayed and I breathed, just breathed, and felt profoundly calm and at home.

My Mother and Father joined this church in 1955. It was one room then. My brother was baptized in that one room, we held the reception following our Mother's Memorial service in that room. We were raised in this church and over the years it has grown in both membership and architecture. It's quite grand now, and along its exterior facade is a brick with my parents' names engraved on its surface because they supported both faithfully and financially the growth and grandness of this once small church. But to me, it's the same church, the one in which I was baptized, the church of my Sunday School years, the church that held the first library I roamed, the chirch of the religion into which I was confirmed. To me this church is always as simple as I was told, the House of God. Today I visited His house and He welcomed there.

This is the church in which I was an infant held in my mother's arms as she celebrated her faith, in which I discovered my own faith, in which I've prayed and rejoiced beside my parents, and for my parents, and now, without my parents. The church that Friday afternoon I walked through by myself, but not alone. No, not at all alone.