Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Gone"


The following is something I wrote for my weekly writing group. The writing seed was "gone".

“Gone”

8:50 a.m.
My daughter asks, “Can we buy a balloon for Jessi?” I ask why. “Today would be her eighteenth birthday.” I fill in the blanks. Jessi, her best friend from elementary school, died two years ago in a car crash.

9:05 a.m.
I check my emails hoping for an update on a good friend. Last Thursday he suffered a “substantial” stroke. His wife, one of my closest friends for forty years, sits at his side in an ICU. Unable to speak, he may, or may not, be able to respond to questions by squeezing his hand. We are told we should know something today. She waits for the doctor to arrive and announce the shape of their new life.

9:08 a.m.
I sit and watch the orange, red and amber leaves drift away from the giant tree. The ground below it is already covered. Some leaves let go more gracefully than others.

9:15 a.m.
I think back over last night’s phone call. A dear friend told me one of her daughter’s best friends was killed this month when thrown from her horse. Her last words as she galloped away were, “I love this mare!” She’d been invited to row with our Olympic crew team but chose instead to attend Harvard. Always active, that day she was riding with friends. Not a bad way to go, I think, feeling passion and joy at that last moment. Would I feel the same were she my child?

9:20 a.m.
I peruse my “To Do’s”. Pay bills. Clean kitchen. Take out trash. What will I be doing at that moment my life ends? Why are the important things not on my list?

9:25 a.m.
I look at my watch. In thirty minutes I will drive to an appointment.
In twenty-nine...
In twenty-eight…
Just as I cannot see the air that moves my lungs I cannot see the time that remains. How do we make our choices?

9:28 a.m.
A crow scolds me loudly from branches overhead. “Who asked you?” I scold back.

9:33 a.m.
I sit, overwhelmed by ideas of all I want to accomplish—lofty goals and small flourishes—yet I cannot live each moment amped up, adrenaline coursing through my veins, pushing me to move faster. I want to savor, not squander, what time is left but the weight of these thoughts makes me crazy, immobile. It is a delicate balance—choosing where next to place my feet.

9:38 a.m.
I remember Sean. Slowly strangled in the grip of ALS, he stretched his dying out, but that was not his choice. At thirty-nine the note he left behind read, “…I wish you all a long life, a happy life, and a death you don’t see coming.” He had time to say goodbye but was that worse?

9:45 a.m.
Before this day is gone let me do one true thing:
Experience beauty that steals my breath.
Revel in my body’s movement.
Give voice to my I-love-you’s.
Create anything that merits the space it occupies.
Laugh long and hard from the boundaries of my soul.

9:49 a.m.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

May I Have the Crumpled Paper Please?

We have a winner for my 100th Post Giveaway!!

Now I know many of you fair-minded folks use Random Number Generator to choose winners for contests. That just feels a little too clinical for my taste. I decided to let my cats choose the winner of my giveaway. It was bound to be fair. I mean, they can't read so they can't cheat, right?

Emma said, "You want me to get off this comfy chair to do what?"


Mystic said, "I'd be honored."


I printed out all the comments that were left on my post, along with a couple that arrived as emails since the entrants don't have blogs and couldn't figure out how to work the comment button (always an option for commenting!) I cut the comments into little pieces of paper and wadded them up into tiny balls—just the size to entice my cats to pick one from the bowl to play with.



At first, they weren't very interested. I had to sprinkle catnip on top of the entries and mix them around. Even then, they had to think about it.



"What have we here?"


"You want me to touch one with my MOUTH???"


Finally, Emma decided it was time to choose.


She took a swipe at the bowl and four entries went flying out. Voila! We had our finalists.


We laid them out in a square on the ground (I was being helped by my daughter—it's helpful having a cat wrangler!)


At last Emma pounced on one entry and held it close to her heart. We had our winner.


Drum roll please...

The winner is Suzann at The Olive Cottage!! Congratulations and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. She has a great blog you should visit some time.


She wins this beautiful 16" square, giclee canvas wrapped print donated by my good friend Cynthia at Willow Rosa Studios. Cynthia has her own wonderful blog called A Shimmy in My Spirit. She has lots of gorgeous art over there so you should definitely check her out and her blog is guaranteed to lift your spirits.



So thank you all for playing along. Thanks for your comments on my 100th post and for your encouragement along the way. You make the journey loads of fun.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Yin and Yang of Produce

As we begin to move into the holiday seasons I am aware that most of the farmer's markets near me are getting ready to close for the year. I will certainly miss them. There is just something so wonderful about their lively atmosphere as people stroll between the booths chatting and the smells of fresh produce and flowers fill the air. Everything seems to look more appetizing in natural light. I took these two photos last weekend with my iPhone. I loved how perfect opposites looked together:

Black and white eggplants



Red and green peppers



If only opposites could get along so nicely everywhere else.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pumpkin Bowling and More

Last Sunday morning we went to the Windsor Pumpkin Festival and Farmer's Market. Windsor is a tiny little town in the Sonoma wine country and this was a tiny little pumpkin festival. But it was the first place I'd seen scarecrow making or pumpkin bowling as featured activities. The event ran from 10:00am until 2:00pm. We arrived about 1:00pm and it was definitely winding down but here are a few photos I managed to take with my handy dandy iPhone.

My daughter dubbed this the "inappropriate scarecrow"



A pumpkin sculpture



2nd Biggest Pumpkin



Biggest Pumpkin



My personal favorite—Pumpkin Bowling!!



Ya gotta love small towns!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Last Night's Performance

Last night we went to see our twenty-one year old daughter perform in Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” She plays Blanche, a thirty-eight year old Jewish widow in New York in 1937. This was quite a stretch for Bri. In her last role she played Miranda in “The Tempest” by Shakespeare. She was quite convincing in that role as a fifteen year old. But thirty-eight? We weren’t too sure.

True to the chameleon that she is, she had us (and many others in the audience) in tears during her very moving monologue in the second half of the play. We were really proud of her. Unfortunately we weren't able to get any photos so you'll have to take my word for it. She had morphed into a thirty-eight year old and even managed to sound Jewish. Oy vey!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm Steamed

It’s October 16, halfway through the month, and the weather is STEAMY today. I’m not talking “Body Heat”, sexy movie steamy. I’m talking too many people in the gym together, hiking in a jungle, middle of summer in the Midwest steamy. What’s up with this?

The first few days of the week we had wind and lots of rain. The cold snap in the air caused trees to turn color and it really started feeling like Fall. Pumpkins and Halloween decorations started appearing everywhere. I dug my socks out of the bottom of the drawer. I crawled under the bed to find my Ugg-knock offs. I even wore my red jacket with the hood. I am READY for crisp, cool Autumn!!! And now we have steam heat???

Sometimes life just hisses.

I Just Received the Dragon's Loyalty Award



I just received the Dragon's Loyalty Award from Lisa Anne over at Smell the Coffee Lisa. Thanks Lisa Anne. I don't know who did the artwork for this award but I think it looks pretty cool. I am passing this award on to the following folks because they are awesome and repeatedly make me smile when they stop by and drop a comment.

Krissy at Thinking of Blue

Cynthia at A Shimmy In My Spirit

Divaeva at A Daily Dose of Diva

Bettejo at From Fat to Fifty

and JaPRA at Just a Plane Ride Away.

I limited myself to these five because it takes a frikkin long time to contact everyone and basically I don't have much free time. Besides, these guys deserve it! They make my day, OFTEN.

If you're one of the lucky five here are the rules, should you choose to accept this award:

Rules for this award!

1) If you have a blog, post it on your blog with a link back to the site who gave it to you;
2) Leave them a comment on their site, email, etc. to let them know;
3) If you don't have a blog but have a website, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or other type account, post there with a link back;
4) Pass this on to 3-10 loyal fans. YOU GOT IT!

Thanks again Lisa Anne and congrats to everyone else.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Morning Conversation

I'm gradually learning to use my iPhone to take photos. My friends know I'm a big fan of crows. I saw these two friends talking the other day overhead and I just had to bring them home to share with you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My 100th Post!!

It's finally here. I began this blog with a deep breath and a bold step forward out into space (albeit cyberspace) last Valentine's Day. I was looking for a way to share my thoughts, my writing, my art and bits and pieces of my life with...? Well, that's the real question, isn't it? I wasn't at all sure who I'd be sharing any of this with. The real fear was that maybe NO ONE would be listening. I mean, it's a BIG, invisible world out there, this thing we call cyberspace. But I kept moving forward, one post at a time, and little by little people began to find me. Pretty miraculous, actually. And over time, a number of you have stuck around, made comments, and become people I have come to think of as friends. That's an amazingly great thing.



And so, to celebrate the fact that I've stuck with this longer than many things I've done, AND to celebrate my new friends out there in the ethers, I am having a little 100th Post Giveaway. In order to be eligible just leave a comment. You don't have to go anywhere. You don't have to leave any fancy links. I'd love to hear if you have a favorite from any of my past posts, but you don't even have to do that. Just leave a comment before midnight, PDT, on October 21st, 2009. I will pick one random name to receive this 16" square, giclee canvas wrapped print from my good friend Cynthia at Willow Rosa Studios. (Cynthia has her own wonderful blog called A Shimmy in My Spirit which you might like to check out.) I chose this print because it makes me think about all the ways we try to connect with one another to become friends. (You will need to leave your email address so I can let you know if you are the lucky winner.)

So once again, thank you—ALL of you. I hope you'll continue to follow along with me on this most fantastical journey.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lost in a Corn Maze



Today I went with my daughter Krissy and my husband to the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch and Amazing Corn Maze. The corn maze is gigantic. It was four acres! The maps they passed out were a joke—little postcards. Within the maze were four different areas where five rows converged, like the spokes of a wheel. We kept meeting the same lost groups of people along the way.









At first it was funny. Some clever folks tried to mark their path with leaves from the corn stalks but these were quickly scuffed to the side by the foot traffic. One group dropped m&m's along the way but I think they ran out. Someone else dropped little yellow post-it notes. I saw one woman trying to keep track of where she'd been by marking the postcard with a pen. None of these techniques seemed to work as we continued to encounter the same people over and over and over again.



You could tell by the conversations that some people had been there a very long time and were beginning to get frustrated. And tired. And crabby. One woman said she was having flashbacks of Children of the Corn. My husband, who was wondering why he'd paid five dollars to become hopelessly lost, tried to use the GPS on his iPhone but discovered we were just a blinking dot on a field of gray. Finally, at his suggestion, I tried the compass on my iPhone. It was only a little more helpful.


Eventually, after an hour, we began to "cheat" by cutting through the rows, aiming for daylight.



When we finally stumbled out, having managed at last to find the entrance, we heard a lot of whooping and hollaring off to our left. It was one of the groups we'd kept encountering inside. They'd just managed to find their way out through the exit. We were all pumping our fists in the air like we'd really accomplished something grand.

I guess they operate the maze at night, sometimes, too. Don't think I'd like to try that. One woman we encountered was so pregnant she looked like she might pop. Nope. Wouldn't want to try it that way either.

All in all, and I can say this only because we made our way out, it was a lot of fun.

The piles of pumpkins and gourds they had for sale were awesome. Such gorgeous variety! We found two we liked in the big pumpkin field and used a wheelbarrow, which they provided, to haul them to our car.












Can't wait to start decorating at our house!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Birthday Musings



Today is my birthday.

Birthdays in my family have always been a big deal. My mom threw the BEST birthday parties—all my friends told me so. As I've gotten older, MUCH older, I find birthdays bring as much reflection as they do celebration. Last year, for my birthday, I moved from South Lake Tahoe to the Sonoma wine country. Something very powerful was happening inside me that told me it was simply time for me to focus on ME.

Both daughters were away at college. My husband was still entranced with life on the mountain. I was WAY past done with snow. So I packed up and moved. I assumed my family would join me when they were ready. My husband visited most weekends. Within two months one daughter moved home. The other daughter followed suit the month after that. They were regrouping. In August, one daughter left again for a different college. Just last month my husband decided the mountain had lost its allure and he moved here too. People come to the front door, look in, and ask if we just moved in. In a way, I suppose we have.

Monday will mark the one year anniversary of my living in this new home. The first two months, while I lived here alone, I discovered pieces of myself that I'd allowed to be shoved to the back of the closet—never quite discarded but certainly neglected and forgotten until I pulled them out and tried them on again. Some no longer fit and I was ready to let them go. But others made me feel young, playful, creative, feisty, mysterious and very much alive. After those two months I felt like I'd made a new friend, one I like a lot and don't plan to let go of again.

Along with rediscovering myself, I've spent much of the past year reinventing myself. I had thought I'd just go out and get a job once I moved in here but the economy soured about the time I arrived here and that plan hit a brick wall. So I took up writing. I attended some writing classes, joined a few writing groups and, as of last weekend, I am now a published writer. True, it is only one very short story in an anthology but it is a credit. I have begun. My short story, "Tailed By A Dog", which first appeared on my blog is now in Vintages Voices: Centi’Anni: May You Live 100 Years. You can even buy it at bookstores. How cool is that!!??



I was greeted this morning with two singing birthday cards, a giant, translucent butterfly balloon and a lovely bouquet of yellow roses (my favorite!) interspersed with gorgeous purple irises from my husband and daughter. Then I discovered a number of people had posted "Happy Birthday!" wishes on Facebook. This was a first for me. Only recently did I dip my toe into that huge pool and I still feel clumsy and awkward trying to navigate around it. But it was nice to hear from old friends. My good friend Cynthia from A Shimmy In My Spirit returned from vacation and took me out for chips and margueritas. Throughout the day I got calls from other friends and last night my brother took me to dinner and tonight my husband took me out. You can see the photo above that he took when the restaurant brought me dessert with a candle. Tomorrow I will lunch with both daughters and my husband before we attend the big CAL v. USC football game. A weekend of celebration and it is very good indeed to feel so spoiled and so loved.

As I reflect upon the year ahead I am excited for all the possibilities it holds. I am writing a novel as well as a screenplay. Already I have the sequel in mind for the novel. My husband is starting a new business in town. Life feels very full. And because of the journey I began a year ago I have a wonderful, lively new/old friend whom I am loving hanging out with—ME!

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!