October 27, 2006

Where Did She Come From?

I gave birth, almost fourteen years ago, to an unbelievable life force. Loud, forceful, funny, outgoing, athletic, brave-as-all-hell, thoughtful, organized, and stunningly beautiful. Everything I'm not. How does that happen?

Today, she and I were driving around looking for a parking spot, and in one of the few parking lots, there was a car just sitting, idling. The first time we drove by, we looked in and took note that the occupants of the car were a young, good-looking couple. As I drove past the car several minutes later, for the second time, I wondered aloud what they were doing just sitting there. It was annoying me for no particular reason. I thought maybe they knew something I didn't, like that in two minutes half the stuffed parking lot would clear out, and they were just patiently waiting for some prime downtown parkage.

After I grumbled to myself, "what the heck are they
doing?", my daughter promptly replied, "They're being hot...just give them a minute".

Out of the mouths of babes...

October 23, 2006

A Good Laugh Does the Body Good

This from "A Girl Named Zippy", a wonderfully funny and touching memoir about growing up in Mooreland, Indiana. I've laughed right out loud at least 10 times reading this, causing my daughter to sigh over her homework, and then demand that I tell her what is soooo funny.

"I didn't believe in God, had not ever, as far as I could remember, believed in God, and yet I was reluctant to formulate the thought too clearly, not to mention speak it aloud, for fear that poor God would hear it and get His feelings hurt.

I believed that the baby Jesus had gotten born, and that was all lovely. Christmas was my favorite time of the year, in part because of the excellent speech, "Fear not: I bring you good tidings of great joy..." and because of the song "The Little Drummer Boy." Anything that involved such persistent percussion was undoubtedly both religious and true.

After he ceased to be a baby, Jesus held little interest for me, until he reached the age where he sat for the portrait that hung above the swinging doors in the vestibule of the Mooreland Friends Church. In the painting, which glowed from a fluorescent light bulb hung beneath it, the Big Jesus looks pensive and honey-eyed. His shoulder-length, light-brown hair is as clean and shiny as corn silk, and he has a beautiful tan. He is way better looking than either Glen Campbell or Engelbert Humperdinck.

I wanted him to be my boyfriend. My feelings about Jesus didn't alarm me at all, because it appeared that everyone around me was flat-out in love with him, and who wouldn't be? He was good with animals, he loved his mother, and he wasn't afraid of blind people. I didn't buy the bit about his terrible death and resurrection for a minute. I knew, beyond and room for doubt, that nothing in this world is both alive and dead. And this was the thing I most wanted to say in church: if you want him to be alive, you've got to stop hanging him on that cross. But it appeared that the cross was what the people of Mooreland valued above all else--more than his life, more than the sweet way he carried lambs on his shoulders in the pictures on the fans furnished by Main & Frame Funeral Homes--the cross, and the way he got sucked up into heaven to be with the Father who killed him. It was such and objectionable story that I decided to skip it. I decided that Jesus was alive, just as people claimed, and that he lived in the trees around my house. He had picked me out personally, and was following me around, watching my every move. Sometimes I lay out in the backyard with my blue tape recorder, just holding the microphone up to t the sky. I figured if Jesus was ever going to break his long silence, it would be on a warm, breezy day in Mooreland, with his best girl waiting patiently in the grass. The tapes I made were very peculiar and very boring. The only voice heard is that of my dad, telling me he's waiting inside with the Campho-Phenique and the Chig-a-Rid. No one ever tried to discourage me; it is written in our very bones, as a people, that true religion requires sacrifice."

October 19, 2006

Whoopin it up!

Today, I crossed the field where the local Smithie girls play Ultimate Frisbee, noticing my feet getting kind of damp from the wet grass. As I stepped onto the sidewalk, my world abrubtly converged with a stranger's.

She (the stranger) was riding along on her bicycle in all her short-haired, salvation army attired, messenger bag shouldered glory when, suddenly, some unnamed joy seized upon her so that just before we would enter each other's visual fields, she belted forth a loud whoop...a hearty "WooHoooooooo!", that she let arc out of her young, proud mouth.

For the briefest of moments, we were face to face, her head turned to greet me as I stepped out from behind the fence, and our eyes met and lit up, and our faces beamed acknowledging smiles at what had just been shared. Then she was gone, my bicycle messenger of joy.

(Image from www.vanillabicycles.com because this post is about the convergence of strangers, and bicycles and joy, and in my humble opinion Vanilla Bicycles are all about joy in the form of bicycles, and I suppose I could fit strangers in there too if I thought about it.)

Secret Sorrow

"What do you want to know?"

"I want to know the secret source of your sorrow."

He says it plainly enough, but I feel my tongue clamp to the roof of my mouth. I smile, look away, pretend to be thinking.

He gently takes me off the hook with a light response, "Of course, we all have sorrow, stemming supposedly from our separation from the Divine."

We laugh at this and I rest my head on his chest. At least for tonight I won't have to risk anything.

October 18, 2006


When did America forget how to spell? I am amazed at the number of semi-professional websites out there with spelling errors in almost every sentence. Last night, after browsing a designer's website and feeling pretty inspired and somewhat intimidated, I went to his "ideas" page. Three paragraphs chock full of spelling errors. Some that could be dismissed as typos, but others were just downright embarrassing! I felt compelled to contact him and beg him to fix the errors that, for me, detracted so strongly from any idea of professionalism I might have at first respected him for. His artistic work was pure genius!

My own children seem to think spelling is for nerds and old people (like myself apparently). In the age of internet communication, who needs correct spelling? That's their philosophy, and sadly it echos through an entire generation.

Just take a little browse through some random blogs, or personal websites...you'll be horrified, I'm sure.

October 17, 2006

I've been quoted...

Checking out my statcounter stats, I noticed several people had visited from blog.thisnext.com. I couldn't figure out what the link was. Then I found it here http://blog.thisnext.com/blog/sweet-tea-tree.html. I was quoted.

Cool. Does this mean I've arrived?

October 10, 2006


I'm still here. Just swept along in a current of activity and work. Photographed the reception for a family wedding over the weekend. Here are a few shots (taken with just my little Canon Powershot).

October 04, 2006

100 Words Challenge

For tomorrow, or tonight, or heck, why not right now? Post here or on yer own blog, exactly 100 words on "Fragility". I'll be back with mine.

To inspire you:

"...when we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings." - Sogyal Rinpoche

100 Words on Grace

“Your button is broken,” you whisper.

Your fingers, full of grace, reach toward me, lingering at the top button of my cardigan. My breath snares in my chest. This is not the first time you've touched me… why does this always happen? When will the air stop crackling around your dark head? When will time cease to fracture when you stand close? When will the time come when my touch doesn’t elicit a gasp from your throat? When will I be immune to you…and you to me? I close my eyes, and a whisper burns bright in my skull…”Never.”

(Image: "Boise Wet Leaf". Michael Wood)

October 03, 2006

The Bear

Photo Album

It is 1976 and my white hair falls well below my shoulders, skimming the floor and picking up dust when I lean under the bed to pull out the photo album. I run the pads of my fingertips over the front of the album, across the face of the foal pictured there. At 6, I'm a natural at wistful longing.

Inside are three pages of photos spanning a decade or so. In one, he leans coolly against a car, not smiling, but soberly penetrating the lens of the camera. This picture I took from a box of photos belonging to my mother and I imagined it was taken during their "dating" pre-baby years. In another, he is younger still, dressed in a military uniform. I retrieved this one from the same box and I know this was taken before my mother. She knew him after he was in the navy. That much I knew...that much and little else.

I stare for long moments, look into his eyes and try to figure out who he was, where he could be now, and why he didn't love me enough to stick around and see me through childhood. I hated and longed for him simultaneously, the hate playing a much smaller part because it was dangerous to be too angry. What if there was a good reason? What if something had happened to him? No, it wasn't ok to hate him. At 6, I knew that too.

I fantasized about him knocking on my door and scooping me up with a big smile, clamping me with strong arms and assuring me he never ever would have stayed away so long if he hadn't been lost at sea, his pockets full of the letters he couldn't send. I strain over the photos in the album, some fading, trying to piece together who this man was, my father, trying to remember his voice, his smell, his laugh. I remember nothing of those things, though I paint my own picture of him in my mind, glued together from the photos on the page.

(image: http://www.garderisettes.fr/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=57)

Favorite Quote

From The Pillowbook:

"We two remake our world by naming it together, knowing what words mean for us and for the others for whom current coin is cold speech - but we say, the tree, the pool, and see the fire in air, the sun, our sun, anybody's sun, the world's sun, but here, now, particularly our sun..."

October 02, 2006


What is the "future"?

From Wikipedia.org: "In a linear conception of
time, the future is the portion of the timeline that has yet to occur, i.e. the place in space-time where lie all events that still have not occurred. In this sense the future is opposed to the past (the set of moments and events that have already occurred) and the present (the set of events that are occurring now)."

The future is unknown, unwritten. A plane of infinite possibilities recommended by the now. Each event builds upon the first to write the future. We can't know it, and any discussion of it is no more than fanciful theory. Five minutes from now I could die in a freak accident or from an undetected bloodclot wedged into my brain, or I could discover a disease that will irrevocably alter my path. Or, we could kiss, and what future would that write?

(Image: "The Unfolding", Oil on Canvas by Rassouli.