“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


Wings for the new year

The fluttering of a bird's wings awoke me this morning.

Sunshine/flit/shadow/flit/sunshine/flit/shadow/flit, quick, quick, quick against my closed eyelids, the pattern of light a silent wake-up call from the Universe. And so the year comes to a soft end, my bird muse nearby, happy in the outdoor sun, patient with me, letting me sleep longer than usual, letting me be late on this slow workday, Maggie outside long before, in the 5:30 darkness.

Last year I had one resolution for the new year. More art. That was it - that was all. I wanted to find some wings, try them on, fly around a bit, see what I thought. Those wings? Oh, I thought, I'll make them of maps of the night sky, pieces of broken stars, mockingbird feathers. I'll attach fireflies to the edges come summertime, and white tulips in the spring. At Christmas, tiny silver bells, almost silent, so that when I moved my heart would hear the sound before my ears. Freshwater pearls & remnants of storm clouds captured in jars, sealed with wax & wrapped in baby blue ribbon. Arrow leaves, white rocks - oh, there's a story I've yet to tell - and the sound of a purring cat. Magical wings. Not those of an angel, but those of an artist. I've learned to be comfortable with that idea - artist. I've learned to embrace it a bit, to feed it what it needed - solitude, friendship, belief in silly ideas.

So this new year? This coming year? What now, what next? Well, more art, I say again. But this year, more words also. I've learned to fly from tree to tree, but I'm ready to soar a bit higher, to glide a while on a cool breeze. This year I'll add to my wings - I want owl feathers & silver handprints of those I love, I want cat pawprints across vanilla silk edged with white embroidery & porcupine quills - I know where to find them. I want a fallen piece of the windchime hanging from the tree next to my father's grave, heart & hand milagros, paperwhites, the scent of green tea. I know where they all are - I just have to scoop them up with both hands.

I know now that a year is not just a measurement of time - it is space in my soul & it is up to me to fill it. This year is more than full, and that is why a new one must take its place, nestling close to all those other years I have inside, not closed shut, but still open so that pieces from one year may spill over into the next or even the next. The past is there, still alive, still coloring the present, still offering advice, still giggling at the jokes I have stored away.

Maybe I will add giggles to this years wings.
First thing.

So for you - I wish you wings of your own. What will you use to make them? It is up to you, you know, you're not allowed to hire out the sewing & hammering services. You must pick up the needle & thread yourself, you must solve the problem of getting those moonbeams to stay put. How will you do that? What tricks will you use?

Where do you start?
with shadows? peppermints? frost on a windowpane?


A year off with pay - that's all I need

I sit in this child's chair & dry my hair.

I've had this image for 2 or 3 weeks - taken when my camera was acting crazy & not firing when I pressed the button a certain way - you know, down - but only when I pressed it kind of back into the camera body & then slightly down, and I was pretty aggravated & frustrated & all that stuff, and it didn't even matter that the exposures were way too long to be hand-held - I just wanted to figure out exactly how to press the shutter release button so that the silly camera would actually fire when I wanted it to. So when Robin got inspired by Tango & suddenly decided that the perfect way to finish out blogging for 2008 was with "happy accident" photos, I thought, well, hey, I've got tons of those. I'm in.

Apparently not. Turns out I actually use all those accidents - how revealing, huh? All those mistakes I remembered seeing - okay, not all of them, but bunches - were images I'd already posted. I'd already done something with them. And I'd tell you exactly which ones they are, but surely you already know, and if you don't, well, far be it from me to reveal such secrets. But there was this one, and even though it's not really a happy accident, it's an accident, so that counts, right? And this one says so much about me. How not a morning person I am - how I am always late, no matter how fast I go, how I hate for the phone to ring because, Lordy, Lordy, that means I will have to actually speak to someone (text messaging was invented by angels for me personally), how lately I never seem to get enough rest, even when I spend all day on the couch watching back-to-back episodes of House, how I am just plain frazzled. It makes me laugh, this double-everything in the image, this busy-ness, this sad little lonesome chair nestled against the wall waiting for me to just sit down & dry my hair. And as I write this, the phone rings.

Of course.


Living a 7 Calendar Life

I have a life full of calendars.

Which is funny, because I could live without clocks forever. Very Easy Rider of me. I suppose that means it's the little moments I don't mind, or that I find unnecessary to keep track of, but that can't be it, because I write those little moments down on those calendars, and at the end of the year, when I get new calendars, and I transfer birthday & anniversary information from the old ones, I am always quite taken by the small moments I have bothered to list. For instance, from 2008's DayPlanner, which, by the way, is always full of much more detail in January:

1/1/08: You are here. What now? (With pasted quote: "Scatter joy." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson) . . . spotted daytime raccoon. Year of the Trickster?

1/5/08 . . . possum in daylight this morning! Odd goings-on. 70 degrees & sunshine.

1/12/08 . . . took RBL's shutters down; out to the little house in back. Clearing out my creativity area! LOL!

2/2/08 . . . bought Artful Blogging. I want to do this so bad, but am scared.

2/22/08 . . . started my own art blog!! Terrified, excited, giddy. In response to panic attack. Up at 4:30 a.m.; 1 mg. lorazepam. Sicker by 6 a.m. - went to lab; 2 more mg. lorazepam.

2/24/08 . . . absolutely ILL re: my blog, but have sent out the address to everyone anyway.

3/3/08 . . . red sky woke me this a.m.

3/27/08 . . . 2nd anniversary of Lily's arrival

7/3/08 . . . 5 owls

7/4/08 . . . 3 owls, then 4 more this a.m.

7/5/08 . . . 5 owls this a.m.

There are also notes for my blog - ideas that would wake me at 2 a.m. & push at me to write them down. I'd lay there, trying to convince myself I'd remember that line the next morning, then eventually talk myself into turning on the lamp, grabbing a pen & just writing it down. There are notes on calendars here at work, notes in journals with dates, notes everywhere. Calendars everywhere. There is one on the wall here in front of me at work, and 2 new ones laying on the floor, waiting for that all-important transfer of information. If I were a restaurant, I'd be in good standing with William Least Heat Moon. From Blue Highways:

“There is one infallible way to find honest food at just prices in blue highway America: count the wall calendars in a café.
No calendar: Same as an interstate pit stop
One calendar: preprocessed food assembled in New Jersey
Two calendars: Only if fish trophies present
Three calendars: Can’t miss on the farm boy breakfasts
Four calendars: Try the ho-made pie, too.
Five calendars: Keep it under your hat, or they will franchise
One time I found a six calendar café in the Ozarks, which served fired chicken, peach pie, and chocolate malts, that left me searching for another ever since.
I’ve never seen a seven-calendar place.”

These calendars keep me filled in, keep me alert to those little things. I am pleased to go back & see how scared I was to let anyone I knew in on my blogging secret, but how I did it anyway. The stress of Maggie's sickness, the excitement of meeting Christy, the agony of buying the jeep, anxiety & panic episodes, are so vivid when written in that moment.

You journalers already know this.

One day at a time- this is enough. ~ Ida Scott Taylor.
today my hidden words are for all to see


A star with my fingerprints

What if we grew our own stars?

What if we watered them oh-so-carefully, tended them with our souls & our true, true hearts? Fed them with the wishes & dreams & desires & love & joy & wonder & amazement & magic & secrets we keep hidden from the world? What if we babied them, and covered them with soft white sheets against freezes & ice & too-cold air, what if we whispered to them enchantments & sweet nothings & sat with them for hours, reading poetry and singing lullabies? What if we planted them next to old, wise trees, who knew the ways of the earth, and had seen many, many moons pass overhead, had seen comets streak through nighttime skies, had watched the planets appear, disappear, then re-appear? What if those trees spoke to the fledgling stars, in the language all wild things share, telling them stories of lightning & wind? If they did, would the star babies politely listen, but giggle deep inside, for what is lightning compared to a star? Would they understand they were stars, destined to live in that sky, above the clouds & rainstorms & thunder? Would they know? Would there be a place for us to buy star seedlings, and would we know what kind of star we were caring for so faithfully? Oh, I hope not, I hope that final flight from the earth would surprise us, would take us unawares, that we would be resting after a warm afternoon of pulling weeds, enjoying the cool of the evening air and suddenly there would be a flash, & maybe a whoosh, & maybe a star scent left behind, & there it would go - flying above us, faster than we can even imagine, and then . . . then? Then there would be a new star in the heavens.

And our thumbprints would be on it.
It is the stars not known to science that I would know. ~ Thoreau


A magical Christmas

This sweet little cat sitting
under my Christmas tree is last year's Christmas card.
I don't know who took her picture,
but she looked like Lily
she looked like magic.

I believe she may have been.
It's been a magical year.

There have been owls & cardinals & pink sugar cookies,
trees with toppings of white frothy flowers
treasure hunts in the summer heat.
There have been hurricanes
talk of storms & dreams & shadows.
There have been losses,
and more on their way,
and wishes for more time,
but there has also been the true heart knowledge
that this is the way of the world.
There have been leaves in the wind,
robins in nests,
handprints of silver
the joys of the everyday sidewalk.

I will be busy tomorrow.
Gifts to be wrapped,
last minute magic for Christmas Eve.
Lots of blue paper & white ribbon,
chocolates & Christmas carols
dinner & dessert
& laughter with my family.
Then home.
perhaps an old movie on t.v.,
Maggie cuddling next to me on the couch.
Then later,
a neighborhood stroll
to admire the lights.

I say Merry Christmas to you all.
To you who have welcomed me
with arms open wider
than I could have ever
imagined or wished for.
My other family.
My companions on this journey.
sleep in heavenly peace


On being out-of-focus

My Christmas tree is up.

I didn't want to do it. I'd decided against it. I was too busy, too tired, we are "doing" Christmas at my mother's this year, no one would see it, I'd decorated the Emma Tree here at work, I didn't need one at home also. I would just have to turn around & take it down. Oh, I was full of excuses & reasons, all of which made perfect sense to my brain, but my heart still wanted it. My heart said go ahead, just a small one, don't make a fuss, you have those blue lights you bought a couple of months ago, you're so in love with Katie's blue staircase, go ahead, go ahead, go ahead. So I followed my heart. And oh! So glad I listened to it! It shoots circles of blue reflections around the room, like Ken Kesey on a good day. I like the out-of-focus feeling it gives me.

Julie felt like a watercolor last week, edges all blurred and runny, and her post made me realize how sharp I felt, and not in a good way. All sharp edges, I mean, and creases, and the sense of being folded tight for far too long. Ready to tear. By Saturday I was ready to feel truly & really out of focus. Floaty. The day began warm, worked its way into the 70s and then a blue norther (you can't make this stuff up) blew in & by early Saturday evening we were into the 30s, then 20s, then back into the low 30s, and we haven't warmed up yet. It's perfect weather for laying on the couch surrounded by this light, Christmas music in the background, or just silence. I slept most of yesterday afternoon.

It's been a long time coming.
oh & that makes me hear crosby, stills & nash & that makes me feel good


Blue light on leaves

Suddenly I knew.

Knew that this painting had been finished for quite a while, just waiting for me to understand that. It's a painting that came before the fact. It's been sitting there so patiently for a couple of months, waiting for the lovely lovely Katie to drape those blue Christmas lights around her staircase. waiting for me to walk outside with my camera and take pictures of that blue light against the leaves, waiting for me to walk back inside and suddenly see it for the first time. A true aha moment. A little unnerving, truth be told. I'd thought it was done, I loved the blue on the dried leaves, but still didn't get it. What a patient little piece of art, no doubt smiling as I'd go by & glance at it, feeling it needed nothing else, but not sure. It just sat there, biding its time, knowing it was a Christmas present, knowing I'd unwrap its mystery in due course. As I said, a little unnerving, a little spooky.

The silver sky is the color of the sky at night,
the moonlight through the clouds & fog.


Reds chase away last night's blues

I only took in my camera because I didn't want it to be stolen.

Usually I leave it in the car or at home, but I had it with me, and I had to park in the dark faraway spot in the fog, so I took it in with me. A Christmas concert. Nothing to compare with Robin's Christmas Tubas, but, as it turned out, quite wonderful. A drive through thick fog to a small town nearby, roads under construction, glow-in-the-dark traffic cones & barrels competing with the bright bright bright next door Baptist church sign to keep me blinded, unable to figure out where to turn in, where to park, where to go. Parking lots full to the brim, I was trying to turn around, figure out how to get out of the mess when, out of the darkness, like a guardian angel, who should appear but one of my brothers, who had already parked in that dark faraway place I mentioned earlier. Into my Jeep he climbed, to direct me onto a sidewalk & over a curb - me: "Are you sure I can do this?"; he, laughing: "You have the perfect vehicle for it". (It was actually fun & I'm planning on looking for more curbs to run over.) And then moving with the crowd into the school, first row seats saved by my incredible sister-in-law, and we were there just in time. As I said, Christmas carols. A French one, an African one, lots that I knew, some that I heard for the first time. Everyone in a good mood, chasing my grouchiness & blues away. Kids happy, parents happy & proud, babies in laps clapping to the music. More than worth the aggravation.

The woman pictured above thanked everyone for taking time out of their busy schedules to be there, to support these budding musicians - the same thing you hear at every school or sports event, but for the first time, I really heard it. I really got it. Because I am busy, because my brother is busy, my sister-in-law is busy, all those other parents & aunts & uncles & grandparents & friends & neighbors are busy, but they/we were all there. And happy about it. And I realized how much work the teachers do - how busy they, too, are - so I included her picture.

The fog was thicker when I left (indeed, it has stayed all day, and is lurking at the tops of buildings out there in the dark right now). I listened to An Nollaig all the way home.


Blue Night

Yes. More blue.

Last night I stood under these lights, which wind their way up the handrails of a spiral staircase,
arm in arm with the vines which also call these rails home.
It was past 11 & the moon was still close to full,
partially hidden behind clouds
bringing in today's mistiness & cold drizzles,
and I was enchanted.
It was another world.
The air was slightly warm, the wind outlining a cooler blueness,
a promise of today's cold air;
the lights dressing the holiday leaves.

What fun the creatures of the night must have during these times. Are the raccoons having parties on the stairs, bringing gifts tied with silvered leaf stems; are the opossums invited? The owls? The rats? Do they put aside their differences for a few hours & celebrate the coming of a New Year? Are toasts drunk from acorn caps filled with wine made from berries & honeysuckle? Do they post a sentinel to watch for the cats (who would surely never deign to attend)? I'm sure I've heard a warning signal in the wee hours of the morning and a scurry of feet back into hidey-holes. Do the squirrels break their routines & stay up late and join them? Oh, I hope so - I hope they are friends for a bit, I hope they have warm cozy homes to toddle off to, whispers & wishes to tell each as they nod into sleep. I wish them a Merry Christmas too.


Blue Christmas

I admit it.

I am glad autumn is almost over. I am glad winter is almost here. That means spring is right around the corner - albeit a long corner - and that means blues. Instead of reds & golds & oranges, which, as gorgeous & breathtaking as they are, I am just not good at. That's why I didn't really know we had such red, red trees here - I am always so busy in the fall & the temperature begins to drop & I just hurry from the inside of the house to my car & I've just not paid any attention until this year. Sad but true. This year, however, I noticed, and was just astounded. I'd only seen the ginkgos in their golden-overnight display - hard to miss - but I'd ignored all the other glorious trees, and only noticed the brown, brown, brown leaves on the ground. Head down against the wind, watching my feet as I scurried to the car. I am a bit ashamed. I apologize to all those trees for all those years of gifts I missed.

But still. I have missed my blues & lilacs & lavenders & hydrangeas & periwinkles & cannot wait for grape hyacinths & paperwhites to begin to bloom. In the meantime there is Christmas & blue lights & aqua bulbs & silver this & that.

There are birds to placed on trees & about the house.

Work begins to wind down & I have time to breathe. To dream. To shop, to buy presents and giftwrap & ribbon, and appreciate the Christmas displays all over town. Last weekend the lovely, lovely Katie and I swooped by a nighttime Christmas festival at Blue Moon Gardens. When Katie stepped onto a path surrounded on all sides by luminarias, she turned to me, smiling, and said, "I'm so happy!"

Yes. Me too.


December Views #5 + a secret revealed

At last I can reveal a secret!

Click right here & see what's coming.
I cannot stop smiling
that makes the rest of this long week quite bearable!



Angel of Mischief

And so it begins.
We move indoors.

The leaves have fallen,
branches are bare,
the sky is more powerful when we see it more clearly.

I have been thinking about angels lately. Not those Nicolas-Cage-come-to-Earth kind of angels, but the kind I see in my head when I listen to Christmas carols. Those Giotto kind of angels, the kind that look to be part of the sky itself, part of Heaven, just sliding out from between the clouds & blue paint. I find I am drawn (no pun intended) to the songs that paint those pictures in my head. I can just see those angels hovering in a dark sky over a manger somewhere, I can see a star in the background - all those things I was taught as a child come back, but now I think about the angels. I think about that night sky, the joyfulness of their flight. I wonder who they were.

Perhaps I'm inspired by this drawing of Emma's, made a few years ago - she was probably 7 or 8:

That angel there on the right.
The peeping-Tom angel.

What is she thinking? Is the excitement of it all just more than she can bear, and so she must take a peek? Was she told not to look? She's just so mischievous, and I have loved her dearly since the moment I first laid both of my eyes on her, and I stole her away from my mother's refrigerator door at the first opportunity. I am using her image on my Christmas cards - if I ever actually find the time to make them. The thinking about her has me thinking about angels in general, and truly, truly, I keep listening to those songs about that night and about the angels and the shepherds and the Magi, and it is seeping into the collage book I am still working on. We will see, but it feels like it is about the poetry of the night sky. And here I need to be silent, or I will give it all away.

No peeking.
can an angel lose her way?


Open House - December Views #2

Open House today for some brick street businesses near my house.

The top & bottom images are peeks inside the lovely lovely Katie's Body Language.
The star is courtesy of Silk Threads next door -
in their Garden Alley festival of lights & loveliness.


Pod People: December Views #1

Two are waving - can you see that?
With those little Hobbit looking caps?

I think the center one is laughing, head thrown back,
he has just heard something incredibly incredibly funny!
Or no, maybe it's a mama pod,
leaning forward,
baby on her back.
Or perhaps it's a basket on her back,
about to be filled with Christmas goodies.

And the bottom one?
Oh, an ice skater, don't you think?
About to turn away from us, or spin,
or do whatever it is ice skaters do.
He is gliding fast,
or maybe she is,
and joy is the music playing in the background.

Such happiness on this little tree.
I shall keep an eye on it.

(December Views? Look here!)


Lily & the Emma Tree

Looks like trouble.

I managed to finally get Miss Emma Tree decked out for Christmas & walked in on this little tableau when I showed up this morning. :)

I am busy, busy, busy this week - printing Christmas cards & pictures for everyone but me. I may send out New Year's cards to family & friends this season. And while I would like to pretend that I can make it through this month by posting only pictures - a wonderful, wonderful idea (see Darlene's December Views here & Jaime here), I know I cannot. But this week?


With maybe a word or two here and there.
thank God for Eileen Ivers or I would be stark raving mad!


Autumn, autumn everywhere

Autumn is everywhere.

It is piled in the middle of the rainy streets, painting a do-not-cross yellow line that matches the trees along the curbs. It is on the windshields of all the cars, a small piece is stuck under my wiper blade. There are heaps of autumn in all the yards. The rainstorm last night knocked bunches of it out of the trees - the lovely, lovely Katie said she could hear leaves hitting the roof all evening & into the morning. The golds and reds - I can't believe I thought we wouldn't get red leaves; what was I thinking? - almost vibrate against the wet gray sky.

It is even in this image.
The autumn afternoon light through the window.

Is there a story here? Possibly not. Maybe. There is a train crossing the trestle across the street, but it is mostly quiet in this part of town. The after-Thanksgiving rush is south of me, not here in the downtown area. I have part of a very tart made-especially-for-me apple pie (thank you to my wonderful sister-in-law!) at home, a cat asleep here at work, one asleep (no doubt) in front of the fire at home. Right now I want no part of Christmas. It is my ritual every year to decorate the Emma Tree on Thanksgiving evening, but last night I failed. I began hanging ornaments - it has lights year round- & just changed my mind. I undecorated it. Not in the mood. Not yet. Maybe not at all this year. Or maybe just a bit. Who can tell? But right now I want to enjoy autumn & I'm tired & I'm lazy. I want to watch old movies on tv, football games, read romance novels.

My eyes are growing heavy.
And apple pie awaits me.
your eyes are growing heavier . . . heavier


A mishmash of images

A little laziness from me today.
Just a few images I have with no stories attached.

I love the softness of the smoke
against the bare tree branches, the ghostliness.
That one little part of this image makes it all work.

And this one little heart,
there on the side,
makes this work.
Manet used to paint an entire person
just because he wanted
to paint the bow on the back of her dress.
I totally understand.

Especially when the wind blows
they all begin fluttering & trembling.
Which reminds me of a story JY told,
about the set design of an opera,
with trembling leaves,
each leaf tied to its tree.
That was in New York, I believe.
But it also reminds me of the opera story
he told last week.
About the set design he'd just seen,
but I don't remember which opera -
something about Faust.

And this.
This is just my favorite.
Would that my Christmas tree
could be this gorgeous,
this absolutely perfect.
The leaves look like orange ribbons
hung by fairies.
Maybe they are.
splishsplash I was takin' a bath


The Juggler

These are the hands of a juggler.

These hands spend a lot of time behind a steering wheel - to the store, to the doctor, to schools & pharmacies & auto repair shops. These hands spend a lot of time making telephone calls to children, grandchildren, a boyfriend, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, neighbors, plumbers, physical therapists.

These are the hands that gently help Mary out of her chair or bed, help her dress, cook her meals. They are also the hands that wheel the trashcan out to the curb every Monday & Thursday morning. They wash dishes, fold laundry, change the cat litter. They know which flowers to cut & put in vases all around the house, they know how to re-program the remote control when the television loses all volume, they know how to snap beans, they know exactly how much cherry ice cream to put in the bowl. They address cards & letters, they make sure photographs have the dates taken written on their backs, they buy cakes & cookies & cokes for the neighbors. These hands refused to leave Mary in the nursing-home-from-hell-which-shall-remain-nameless. They sweep porches & mow yards & point out the most delicious, ridiculous, awful newspaper stories for Mary's delight.

These hands wave at me every day from across the street. A part of our neighborhood. Let me introduce Lyndi.

Her hands are the hands that truly do it all. Hands of strength, but no doubt hands that are exhausted. Open hands full of love & giving & giving & caring & thoughtfulness. These are the hands that keep Mary alive.

Thank you.

A juggler.
With all her balls in the air.
but she needs time off


A leaf's last journey

The movement into winter is golden turning white.

The last leaves cling to their branches, their trees, their homes, their places of birth. They have swallowed the sunlight all summer and now burst with that radiance - golden, red, tangerine, persimmon & pumpkin. They are the last of their tribe; they have outlasted the storms, fought the wind & rain & the changing seasons. They have fought with every ounce of shimmering breath to stay just one more day, one more hour, one last moment. What do they feel when at last they let go?

Is it freedom or fear?

Do they leave protesting in a madly whirling gust of wind, or do they just let go? Do they have the chance to choose? Is there an exuberance at twirling softly through the autumn air, or blowing high above the treetops into the sky - do they look back & shout a hurried goodbye to friends & family, knowing they are at last alone, knowing they can never return? Do they hear the replies, or does the sound of the wind surround them?

And when they land, what then? Is it sadness they feel? Do they understand that this is all, that this is the end? Or is this just one more step of the journey - this blanketing of the earth with their warmth?

At no time of the year am I more aware of this gift of the leaves,
of this
letting go,
letting go,
letting go.
all fall down


The time has come

. . . to gather these leaves in my arms

ginkgo tree 2008

Each morning on my way to work I pass this tree.
It sits at the corner where I make my turn from home to business.
2 blocks away.
I sit in my car,
point the camera & quickly shoot
before a car is behind me,
telling me to move on.
in the fall i think of sting's fields of gold


The thief

Shhhhh . . .

This is about a thief of trust.

You sat on the floor with her, elbows on the coffee table, exchanging secrets & gossip, told her some of your dreams, talked about art & the internet, books & tv. You whispered while Mary was sleeping, giggling with each other while trying to stay quiet. You answered her phone call when Mary was distraught & angry, crossing the street to help, understanding her tears, as well as Mary's. Yes, all of that, and more.

And yet.

She was writing it down. In ink. On paper. Noting times & actions. Oh, not your actions, not your words, not your thoughts. You are not an employee of The Company that Cannot - if you were, you would've made the list of Things Done That Were Not To Be Done. But lucky you. You don't.

This company that cannot can hire a spy. That word - spy - makes you laugh. How very James Bond-y, you think. Shaken, not stirred, you think. When you are told, you think oh, surely not. Much ado about nothing. But you are wrong. There is a paper trail, there are emails, notes, non-returned phone calls, her sudden disappearance. And you never knew, never even - not in a million zillion years - would've suspected. Never. In this you are not alone. Everyone is stunned. These are all people with whom she has shared meals & laughter, people who believed she cared. "How much money was involved?", you ask each other, feeling hurt & angry that your thoughts run in this direction. What does it take to make someone a thief? One who is welcomed at the front door. No cutting of screen windows necessary.

But as it turns out, this betrayal is a gift.
The Company that Cannot is gone,
And the spied-upon-ers?
Still here.
Gone from that company, kept here.
sundays on the phone to monday


Notes from an artist, not producing

I am just stuck.

This hand looks like a cry for help, like someone trapped, desperate to get out. I hadn't thought of that until I posted it here & took a dispassionate look at it. In real life, it's attached to a painted arm, on the page of a book, and has far to go before it sleeps, but this is where it is now.

I cannot paint lately. In fact, I haven't really been able to produce anything for months, and I can pinpoint it back to when Maggie got sick, and Mary got worse, and I became overwhelmed with the idea of losing them both, but that's an excuse, and it's one I've grown tired of. It's true, it's a fact, but still I am tired of it. It is also true that I have always been unable to paint when depressed or sad or blue or anxious or any of those times when all the professionals - artistic & psychological - tell you it will help you. But I've grown tired of that reality. I'd like it to change. Hence the effort once again to keep an art journal - an effort that lasted less than a week, that brought about tears & frustration & support from so many people, but still, it just made me miserable. I bought this wonderful book recommended by Bridgette & it's full of incredible journal pages & I have to admit, it's sheer pleasure to just look at those pages, and it even has great tips to help you get going, but not one journal page have I produced since its purchase. I have been randomly, eyes-closed-finger-pointed, picking words in the dictionary - irrevocable, dialectic, smart-ass, prickly heat - and while laughing at the sometimes very timely appearance of these words, I haven't done thing one with any of them.

As part of my birthday box-o-goodies, Lulu sent a pre-made board book, with pre-cut windows & everything, and I thought aha! This will get me going! I have tons of pieces of luscious paper squirreled away - I'll just loosen up - yes, I seriously believed I could! I'll just glue those babies in that book, I said to myself, & paint & not be serious at all! So 2 days worth of gessoing, even though I told myself I was going to paste over that gesso, led to yesterday's trauma of trying to convince myself to just stick the paper in the book! Just do it! Oh, what a fear of commitment I have! The lovely, lovely Katie laughed & laughed at me & seemed quite dumbfounded when I showed her just a part of all the bits & pieces of papers & magazine cut-outs I've been saving for years. And oh, how happy it made me to just go through all those pieces, which is, as they say, the problem. Because once I glue them down, they are gone. They are used. They are wasted in some silly book that I will hate & I will be mad at myself for no longer having them at my disposal. Truly. This is how I think. I'm not proud of it, but there it is.

But I pushed myself. I got 2 or 3 pages of background almost done, kind of, maybe. Maybe. Katie & Robert stopped by for a second as they were off to enjoy life & I was stuck behind this book with 2 paintbrushes in my hand & I snapped at Robert rather testily - he being a real artist & all - that I wanted no comments. None. He pulled any comments he had (and you know, they might've actually been nice ones) back into his head like a kid pulling their hand away from a hot stove. Robert has experience with aggravated women & knows when to just keep quiet.

But I will finish this if it kills me. It may. I just think that if I don't, it will kill me artistically. This is play, I tell myself, this is practice, this is getting up in the bullpen & warming up. And I may be right, because, like I said, that trapped hand up there wants out.

Or tattoos or something.
1, 2, 3,what are we fightin' for? - don't ask me, I don't give a damn


Just this moment forever

Dogwood leaf - heart on fire

On the road Friday there was a storm coming in from the north, grey-black clouds facing me, Maggie on my lap. The sunlight was tipping left-over leaves of crepe myrtles & the tops of red maples & one gorgeous giant yellow tree, and they looked like birthday candles on a giant cake called the road - soon tiny baby raindrops began to patter the windshield, merry companions of the leaves falling from trees, and as the sky ahead of us grew darker, headlights began to be switched on, and all the while we were listening to Christmas carols sung by Diana Krall, and I was skipping the fast songs and only playing the slow ones, and truly, truly I felt we had accidentally meandered into a fairy tale. We stopped at an intersection full of cars and leaves & the leaves were swoosshhing along with the cars & the quickening wind, and Diana Krall was dreaming of a white Christmas, and Maggie was purring, face pressed to the window by my side, and I didn't want to go home. Couldn't we just stay in this moment, I thought, she and I? No more trips to the vet, no more worries or concerns about the future, no more heartaches. Just this moment forever - full of autumn winds & leaves & rain, a gathering storm in the distance, but oh so peaceful. It didn't seem fair that the light had to change.

And that night - the downhill to home, where the streetlights & moonshine lay giant shadows of trees at the bottom of that hill, shadows I see every night, and yet each evening they surprise me, waiting for me, moving in the wind. I am always disappointed when I remember they are only shadows, and I must return from that momentary dream of tree-ghosts back into the real world. Every night I find out there is no Santa Claus.


A shout out to my mother


My mother just re-connected her internet.
I can feel her eyes on me right now, as I type these words.

I better be nice.
I'm scared LOL!


Work boots

Continuing a theme.

These are usually boots I can stand in forever, but not today. The boots however are not to blame. It's the socks. They're real cute & stripey & kind of Wicked Witch of the East looking, if you were watching the movie on an old black & white t.v., but not so comfortable with these boots. You can see me in these boots. These have been worn, unlike those boots that Dan Rather wore that time he posed for Texas Monthly, trying to still be all Texas & everything, leaning back in a chair on a front porch somewhere, feet propped up on the porch railing, bottom of the boots facing the camera. Bottom of new boots facing the camera. Like I said, I've worn these boots. I've had them polished on the River Walk in San Antonio and in Jackson Square in New Orleans. I've had passes made at me by men and women because of these boots. I've played in them & I've worked in them. I've even painted in them - you can see a splash of white paint on the right boot. They are old friends.

They understood when I had to take them off today.
nancy sinatra, eat your heart out


Floodin' down in Texas

I stood at my front door, watching,
then stepped outside
for a couple of pictures.
This creek is 7 feet deep or so;
water over my head
if I had the bad luck
to be down there at that time.
I said a couple of quick prayers
to keep it from flooding across the bridge
& in my front door.
Across the bridge it came anyway,
but not quite to the door.
A good day.
Thank you God.