Sunday, August 30, 2009

Decisions decisions

I'm thinking about Veronica, Saint Veronica in particular. Etymology has ascribed the name Veronica to the Latin word vera, meaning true, and the Greek word icon, meaning image.

Did you know that Saint Veronica is the patron Saint of photographers? Until recently, I did not know that. But when I learned it, I began to research what I could find about Saint Veronica.

In brief, when Christ fell on his way to Cavalry, a woman handed a veil to Him so that He could wipe His brow. According to tradition, the cloth was imprinted with the image of Christ's face. This woman was Veronica, and this incident is all we really know about her, and the veil has become her symbol ever since.


The relic is still preserved in St. Peter's Basicila in Vatican City, and the memory of Veronica's act of charity is commemorated in the Stations of the Cross.

Are you wondering if I have a point? I do have a point.

I've decided to name the new website The Saint Veronica Project.

I am moved by the True Image meaning behind the name Veronica. I also like the idea of naming this photographic collaboration between Donald and me after the Patron Saint of Photography. I hope that Saint Veronica will guide and bless us as we journey together.

After all of your wonderful suggestions and kind comments, and I thank each of you for them, everything in me tells me to go with this name. I didn't want to make the title about Donald's wheelchair, didn't want to promote that handicap, and although I liked many of the names with the word, street, in them, I felt that too was limiting Donald. With The Saint Veronica Project, I don't feel any limitations at all, on Donald or me. What I feel is inspiration, and connection.

Donald likes it. I like it. I hope you like it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I need you now

If you read my post of August 19th, Working Together, then you are aware of a project I'm working on, one very close to my heart. If you haven't read that post, please click on the link above; otherwise you'll have no idea what this one is about.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

That post received a lot of support and the comments you left gave me so much encouragement and excitement. Thank you for that. Donald was thrilled when I told him your kind words.

I'm hoping you are willing to do the same again because I really need you now.

I cannot think of a name for the website I will build to launch and feature Donald's work. I had thought about HoustonStreets but that name is not interesting and also does not capture this project. The trouble is that's the only name I can come up with because my brain struggles all the time with titles for individual posts, so how can I expect myself to come up with a name of such importance to me, one fitting to this project?

Do you have any ideas? I hope you do because I'm running a contest. I need your ideas for a blog name, one that will capture this project thad Donald and I created together. Please leave any ideas you have in the comment section of this post. Feel free to leave more than one suggestion if you have multiple ideas. I'll check the name's availability and the winner will receive a signed 8 x 10 of one of Donald's photos, as well as credit for the title. If you like to be anonymous, that's okay, you'll know who you are.

Does that sound fair?

This contest will be open until Thursday at midnight CST, so if inspiration strikes you more than once, by all means, let me know.


Donald and I thank you for your creative assistance!

Matthew 5:14-16

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Sometimes the unexpected arrives at your door and fills your living room with the sweet smell of kindness.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Working together

His name is Donald. His skin is dark and his eyes are bright. He favors the color blue. Curls of gray form his beard and swirl around the tips of his hair. He gets around the inner city in his wheelchair, sometimes on the street and other times rolling down the sidewalk or making quick shortcuts through parking lots. The streets of Houston are not his home; he lives in an aging and sagging clapboard house with his Aunt. But his days, and much of his nights, are spent on the streets.

Misc 035

Donald's personality is a large one, a happy one. Oue paths first crossed in a parking lot of a neighborhood coffee shop. He flashed a broad smile and I smiled back at him. He rolled up to my car and proposed to me. I was delighted but had to turn him down. After that day, whenever I saw Donald, we'd strike up a conversation. In time, we became friends. I began to give to him as I could, a dinner here, a diet coke there. He never asked for anything, beside my hand, but I could see his hunger and his thirst at times and I wanted to help him. Still, the giving and taking was making the friendship off balance and I began to get uncomfortable with that because I knew there was something else, had to be something else that I could do. That Donald and I could do.

I asked myself, How could I really help Donald? What could we do together? And while I was asking myself these questions, Donald and I had a conversation that sparked an idea. A long time ago, I learned, Donald was a photographer in Fort Worth for a local paper. My mind began to spin. I have many cameras. I have a photo printer. I have access to editing programs.

Can you see where I'm going?


Donald and I talked about my idea. I gave him a camera, asked him to shoot what he sees, what moves him, what inspires him, what he lives. And once a week, Donald and I meet and I give him a fresh set of batteries and take the memory card from the camera and upload his photos to my laptop. Then I give him prints of his photos from the week before and we put them in photo sleeves in a large notebook. And Donald sets off to take more pictures and to sell his photos for $5.00 for an 8 x 10.


It is my hope that in this project, I can give volume to Donald's voice as well as help him earn money and become less dependent on others. It is my belief that I'm in for a lot of learning, through Donald's eyes.

The photo at the beginning of this post is of Donald, and was taken by me Monday evening. The other photos were taken by him. He has an interesting eye; he likes big spaces in his photos, he likes to make your eye wander the scene. He breaks a lot of rules and that works for him because really how can you place rules on someone's vision?


In a couple weeks, I will be launching a separate site where I will feature Donald's photos available for purchase. In the meantime, I will show you Donald's work here.

I read somewhere that the scent of a rose lingers on the giver's hand. This feels like that. This is something I wanted for my friend Donald and yet it makes me feel so good, to work beside him, to learn about him through his photography, to watch him roll away from me eager for his next sale, his next opportunity.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

She's in Fleetwood Mac, okay?

Yesterday I went to the AT&T store to retire my BlackBerry since whenever I pushed any key at all, it would default to U and provide me with my Personal Hurricane's United States cell phone number, which, by the way, is completely useless at this time of year since he's on his Croatia cell phone, but that's beside the point.

While the technician was transferring my phone book and photos and other stuff from the old phone to the new one, I decided to divorce Comcast and join AT&T U-Verse for all my phone, cable and wireless needs. The thought of a single bill thrills me to no end.

A young man named Greg was signing me up, and asking the standard questions of Social Security Number, full address, etc. Near the end of our Q&A session, he said he had one more question for security if ever I need to call about my account and I forget my PIN. Would I please provide him with an answer to one of the following questions:

My high school mascot
My favorite actor
My favorite singer

I responded.

He said, Steve Nicks? Is he an actor?

Gently, I smiled at him. You really don't know who I am, do you?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Obeying the law

Our family cabin is located on an island off the Colorado River, about 12 miles up from the Gulf of Mexico. There are 15 houses, 15 homeowners. Fifteen views of how things should be operated and managed. There is a homeowner’s association, a board, and a set of bylaws written over 30 years ago with paragraphs this and sections that. The bylaws are there to keep order, written from a sensible standpoint that some rules are necessary in order to keep a common good. In accordance with these bylaws, there are elections and meetings and voting. And this is true because sometimes issues will arise that need to be considered and decided democratically, for the greater and long-term good of the island. There is the majority of homeowners, to which I belong, that are sensible and fair, and then there is the this-is-good-for-me-and-I-don’t-care-about-you minority with occasional and amusing plots for an uprising, a coup to overthrow the elected leadership and take over the island. I can see you, I can see you rolling your eyes. Because, EXACTLY. This is not a developing nation, it’s an island of 15 secondary homes where 15 families spend vacations and weekends, where 15 families presumably go to get away from the city, to relax and enjoy the river and the outdoors, in peace.

I have a friend who when she reads this is right here going to say out loud, YOU PEOPLE.

Seriously, who plots to overthrow a board made up of nine elected people on an island of 15?

A while ago, there was an incident regarding a child and a dog, actually several dogs. And a single bone. And grandparents who are homeowners who were guests in another homeowner’s house, grandparents who were watching their grandson while his parents were out of town, but unclear as to who between the two was actually in charge of watching the grandson. It was a party; there was alcohol involved. While everyone was upstairs, and the grandparents were not paying attention, that child wandered downstairs where the dogs were, and the details of what happened next will never be known as fact since NO ONE SAW WHAT HAPPENED but according to the boy, he tried to take a bone from one of the dogs to give it to another dog. Have you ever been around a group of dogs and tried to take something of the meat variety from one and give it to another? It usually doesn’t work out in anyone’s favor.

The boy was four at the time, just a bit taller than the dogs but very much on the same level, meaning that he got caught in the meaty bone mayhem and was bitten. On his face. It was a bad bite. There was a lot of blood. There was screaming. The grandparents blamed each other, pointing fingers and yelling things at each other like, I thought YOU were [F-bomb explitive removed] watching him. There was a trip to the hospital and there were stitches. The boy bears a scar and, understandably, harbors a fear of dogs.

Though a couple other dogs were there, from what has been pieced together but not known to be fact, it was the homeowner’s dog that bit the child. The same homeowner who invited people into his home for a party, the homeowner who had his dogs and the other dogs contained downstairs on the screened-in porch while his guests were upstairs inside the house.

The very next day, a thin line began to show on the surface of the island. A dividing line of opinion as to who was responsible for the incident and what should be done about it. In no time at all, the line became a crack and the crack grew and with it the distance between sides, one being realistic and compassionate and of the feeling that it was a very unfortunate accident, and the other being THAT DOG NEEDS TO BE PUT DOWN, and THOSE PEOPLE NEED TO SELL THEIR HOUSE and I’M GONNA SHOOT THAT DOG IF I SEE IT, and did you know that 12 miles up the Colorado River from the Gulf of Mexico there is a small island with a great divide like the Grand Canyon?

Of course there was a law suit, because who wants to take responsibility when you can blame someone else for something that happened to your grandson when you weren’t watching him? The lawsuit was settled out of court because what attorney is going to put all those witnesses under oath to testify that his clients were not watching their grandson, or that there was a lot of drinking that night? The lawsuit was also settled because the host of that fateful evening felt like hell for what happened to that boy.

There were several homeowners’ meetings, meetings across THE BIG DIVIDE. Someone dusted off the bylaws and discovered that there was a rule that all dogs must be on a leash when not on the homeowner’s property. Emails were sent to all homeowners, emails that quoted section this and paragraph that and reminded everyone to keep their dogs on a leash or else the apocalypse will be triggered and all dog owners with unleashed dogs on the island of 15 houses were surely going to be the first in hell.

Freely roaming across this island on any given day are cattle, deer, raccoons and armadillos, not to mention alligators, coyotes, bobcats and wild pigs. WILD PIGS! But not dogs, not anymore.

I’m going to point out the painfully obvious because apparently it’s not as painfully obvious to some as it is to me. The leash law that was discovered in the bylaws and thumped with rabid justification, would have done squat to avoid the accident that started the line that began a crack that became the BIG DIVIDE between 15 homeowners on a little island in South Texas. The dog in question was off leash on the homeowner’s property. COMPLETELY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW. That is a FACT.

There are other laws in the island bylaws. There are laws about firing guns on your property, and on the common property. There are laws about gas-powered vehicles on the island. There are laws about cutting down trees. There are laws about building up your property and changing the common slope lines. Then there are minor bylaws that are outdated or forgotten until someone does something that someone else doesn’t like and then suddenly there is a meeting and hello it says right here that YOU CAN’T DO THAT. Except the majority of homeowners here are a peaceful lot and willing to let some things slide since we all would like to get along and most of us own gas-powered golf carts that we drive around the island, and there’s a difference between a minor infringement and having your neighbor cut down trees on your property, a difference between personal preference and the greater good for the island. The word compromise comes to mind here.

It goes without saying but I’m going to say it anyway: Those who do this bylaw search and discovery are of the I’M GOING TO SHOOT THAT DOG mentality. They do so with a chainsaw in one hand and a gun in the other, furiously ignorant to their own hypocrisy. Because not being allowed to chop down your neighbor’s trees or to shoot guns at night towards the interior of the island, or shoot game off season from your back porch, well what crazy person wrote those laws? But if your dog bites my kid when I’m at your house and not watching my kid, well then we need a law to keep all dogs on the leash when they are away from your property. That makes complete sense. Absolutely, that will make a difference.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Frame of mind

It's been an unusually long time since I've been here, hasn't it? Hello Comcast connectivity problems. Or, actually, as of this morning, good bye to them. For now.

You know the Hans Brinker story of the little boy with his finger in the damn? Welcome to my present tense. I'm not ready to remove my finger yet because the words, oh the words that would pour like water, without cohesive form and therefore meaning but still flooding the whole place and really who wants to be responsible for a flood? And then there's that whole clean-up business afterwards.

There are not enough mops.

So, yeah. Sometimes life kicks your ass.

Solution? I'm taking off to the cabin for a couple days. I'm not sure if I need to be away from here, or if I need to be there. Either way, I know I can't get there soon enough.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Of luck and wishes

When my sister and I were children, she had an invisible friend she called Mr. Ghost. I was so jealous of her friendship with Mr. Ghost. Invisible to me, I also couldn't hear his side of their conversations, but I did not need such proof to believe. I did not doubt for a single minute that he existed, and I searched for him on a regular basis hoping to get a glimpse. I admit that I've caught myself on more than one occasion wondering what ever happened to Mr. Ghost, in the same way you might wonder what happened to the girl or boy who sat behind you in your second grade class. I have not gone so far as to search for Mr. Ghost on Facebook, so there is still some hope for me.

Wondering about Mr. Ghost got me thinking about other things I do that I've carried over from my childhood and teenage years, little rituals I don't recall being without. For instance, I still raise my feet off the car floor whenever I go over a railroad track. I still hold my breath when driving across bridges. To this day, I can never make it all the way across the Galveston causeway bridge.

When in the car with friends, whoever saw the one-eyed car and said "Padiddle" first, won. But I don't know what they won.

Most of these ritueals are based on luck, or trying to avoid bad luck. And then there's the wishing.

I kiss the clasp of my necklace and make a wish when it slips down to the front, before returning it to the back. This started in high school and continues today.

My mother taught me that if one of your own eyelashes falls on your cheek, you're supposed to put it on the tip of your finger, close your eyes, make a wish, and blow the eyelash away. If you open your eyes and the eyelash is gone, your wish will come true.

While I don't truly believe that raising my feet from the floor of the car or holding my breath across a bride will stave off bad luck, there's no harm done is there? Besides, I used to avoid cracks in the sidewalk, all the way up until my mother passed. She never broke her back though, so there you have it.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Bitch, Tramp, Tart, Hussy

Saturday night some of my nearest and dearest friends and I had a dinner celebration for my birthday since I turned 29 when I was in Vermont and they weren't quite sure how I could do that, turn back the clock like I did.

I don't know if it was the fact I was so much younger this birthday than last, or that this bunch was in the cool and air conditioned indoors for the evening rather than our standard sweltering patio dining, or if it's that we all haven't been together since fourth of July, but the mood was happy, I'd even say it was bubbly, and the laughter was musical and pardon me but I admit that I did nothing on Sunday beyond reading the newspaper and watching lame Lifetime television.

Run-on sentences anyone?

Was I really dancing to a rap song Saturday night? Um, yes. Did we really tip the bartender $20.00 to jump over 20 or so songs on the juke box so that we could hear our songs? Yes to that too.

Two of my cards had the title to this post's words in them, in an endearing way. The Bitch was a card that had Happy Birthday Bitch Goddess on the front, and several pink and blue poodles all over it, and that lovely card unfolded into a crown which the giver delighted in making me wear. Don't you just love a friend who delights in making you wear a poodle crown for your 29th birthday?