“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


With the wind came cardinals

With the wind came cardinals, and the small moments of her last summer.
The orange day lilies that beckoned the red dragonflies down from the sky,
the scent of the last honeysuckle.
Lizards & mice & baby owls, barely-there breezes,
dew on the tall grass over her head.
Sunrises that slipped their way into the day,
and in the evening, the joy of sunsets & cicada-song.
The sheer pleasure of the world outside.
One last look.

This painting is a poem -
the need for words both a burden and a lightening of the load.



Learning to receive

My mother wants to pay for any veterinarian bills incurred whenever I am unable to give Maggie her fluids. I should actually say whenever the ever-wonderful Michael gives Maggie her fluids - I just hold her. 2 acts right there - 2 acts I've just listed of giving to me. See? I was going to start this post with just talking about my mother's kindness, but in just explaining her kindness, Michael's kindness pops into the picture. How very interesting - God is playing with me, making sure I really get this. I told my mother no, but Mary says I'm wrong. Mary says let her do it. And she's right. My mother wants to help. I will let her.

My life is peopled with friends & relatives who are more than generous. I don't say thank you enough. In truth, I feel awkward about accepting their gifts of time, compliments, encouragement or even needed financial help. But I am so lucky. Nothing is expected in return - it just makes these people happy to help me, or surprise me with unexpected gifts. I am never made to feel small or unimportant - my life is full of cheerleaders.

When Michael & I began to see each other, I worked 3 jobs & went to school. And was still always broke. He kept me in Coca-Colas. He does more now, but he is always there. Last winter, when I spur-of-the-moment decided to leave work & drive 45 minutes to see Eileen Ivers in concert, when I was just so exhausted from the Christmas rush, so needing at least a small break that I was literally in tears, not only did he say go, he handed me money to buy my ticket. I didn't ask for or expect it, but he wanted to give to me. Last week, after tallying up just how much money I will need for Maggie, I called & cancelled my once-every-2-weeks massage. He made me call Theresa back, made me tell her I'd be there. Made sure I could at least keep that in my life.

I can list so many people, so many incidents. So many who believe in me, and who obviously care about me. Why is that is so hard to say?

It is a lesson to learn.

~ "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." ~ M Proust


Eating off the menu

Remember that scene in When Harry Met Sally? Sure you do - you know, the one where she's ordering food & wants this on the side & that over there? Well, me too. I eat out every day. Every day. And, like Sally, I just want what I want. Like today for instance. Mexican restaurant - been there before, remembered good things about it, knew the salsa was good. All I wanted was a chicken chalupa. One chicken chalupa. Therein lay the problem. I could get two chalupas, with rice & beans, but I didn't want two chalupas. Just one, please. Oh, I could've had one chimichanga or one enchilada, but I didn't want a chimichanga or enchilada. I didn't want a salad either. I didn't want anything fried (okay, I know the chips served with the salsa were fried, but that was my limit), I didn't want anything slathered in sour cream or chili con queso - I didn't even want plain queso. Just a chalupa. With rice on the side. Which I finally got, but only after declaring that I'd just not get anything today, thank you.

This is a constant problem. Monday I scraped a mound of mayonnaise from a grilled chicken sandwich (truly, what is the point of a grilled chicken sandwich covered in mayo?). I am constantly removing onions from hamburgers even though I order them without. I have, more than once, sent back a cheeseburger I've received when only ordering a hamburger. I am so difficult.

I always need extra tomatoes, no matter where I am. At Los Gueros, I always get the jr. beef taco, easy on the meat, then ask to have tomatoes & avocados added. (Note: why, when making tomato plural, do you add e-s, but when making avocado plural, you just add an s?) And it's not just me. If Katie & I go to Olive Garden for soup & salad, she needs an extra bowl of olives on the side, all green leaf lettuce (no iceberg). I just need extra tomatoes. Also, they have a scrumptious dessert with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, raspberry sorbet & some kind of creamy stuff - I don't get the creamy stuff. Any smoothie I buy from Smoothie King has to be minus all their weird sweeteners, with no electrolytes. I just want the fruit & juice. I cannot tell you how many times they've explained to me how good electrolytes are for me. I just don't want them added.

Once, at Bruno's Italian Restaurant, after ordering his food, Robert took Katie's menu away from her - she was still reading it, trying to figure out what she wanted. When she told him she needed more time, he told her there wasn't enough time in the world for her to make a decision. She & I laughed about it afterwards. He may be right.

But we just want what we want.



No reason for this other than it's the way I'm feeling. Actually, kind of the way I'm looking also, except that the flower is much thinner. I am drooping, and I wish could droop in such an elegant way, such a Marlene Dietrich kind of way - that old movie-star-in-a-satin-dress kind of slouch & sigh & back of my hand to my forehead - silk or velvet chaise placed conveniently nearby, to catch me as I finally succumb & gently teeter a bit this way & then teeter a bit that way, before swooning quite altogether & dropping gracefully down. And then some director saying "Cut, Print!" & I'd be out of that role & back into the world with some energy.


Maggie is sicker & now must receive her fluids at least 5 times a week (the vet would like 7, but I see no way for that possibility) & I am feeling anxious & depressed. The ever-wonderful Michael has been helping give her fluids 3 times a week, and it hasn't been easy. She fights & complains & does NOT want it done. Today was the worst & we had to give up & take her to the vet, which she also does not want to happen. Where I received the new bad news. I'm feeling pretty lost, very disheartened & my heart keeps breaking open a little more each day. I cannot imagine life without her. Yes, I know. A cat. But she's my best friend & she's been there with me through a lot, so how can I not give her this chance? The decision now is to give fluids Monday through Friday, and if we're unable to do so, to take her to the vet that day. I'll buy her another month if nothing else.

I've been letting her stay out at night if she wants because I feel that this may be her last summer. And like me, she's a summertime kind of girl. I am trying to make sure she has joy in her life. She doesn't feel bad, is in no pain, and . . . I will stop here. But I just needed y'all to know - I needed to just get it out there. If my blog is full of depressing things for a while, please forgive me. I don't think it will be - I think I'll need to come here & say other things, but today I can't. Today I need to say this.



Do you look inside? Or outside? Do you, say, watch the blinker of the car ahead of you in the left turn lane, noticing that it is keeping exact time with your blinker? Does the round red-red-red rhythm paint pictures of cherries, of fat robins' breasts, of pop-apart beaded necklaces? Do you, like the lovely Katie, purchase a quite expensive bit of skin care wonderfulness, only to realize that the box of blue which contains it is the perfect, exact color you've been searching for to paint the guest room? Or can just a word - maybe azure - start the process? A sentence or two? " I want one bedroom painted a blue leaning toward purple, and I want that room kept empty except for the fill of light and the dust motes, drifting down like inside snow. It will be the place to stand in and get peaceful. To remember the fullness of spareness." ~ Elizabeth Berg/The Pull of the Moon. Reading paint chip names at the hardware store? Himalayan Paw, Snowman's Shadow, Harlow's Slip, Evening Pool, Veranda Iris. A trip to the grocery store? Blueberries, oranges, Granny Smith apples, bitter Venezuelan chocolate. Do you watch a rerun of Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam with the sound muted - swallowing only the images this time?

Is it all of the above? None? Are you inspired by dreams? Memories? Do you still feel yourself on your grandmother's front porch in the dark, surrounded by the singing of cicadas & the lazy thunk-pause-thunk-pause-thunk-pause of her rocking chair? My earliest memory is of being rocked by my mother. I remember the dusty spring colors of the air & walls - pale blues & grays, blurred rectangular shapes surrounding her. Is it coincidence that these are my favorite colors, that I am still most comfortable when they surround me?

Where does it come from for you?

And oh, here's the video.



The world feels very soft today. Perhaps it's this afternoon's promise of 95 degree heat, which leaves my body feeling limp, my muscles relaxed, my mind lazy. The heat which allows me to wear my oldest, baggiest jeans, rolled up to the knees, with sky-baby blue flipflops. The blooming crepe-myrtles, everywhere now, pink & fuschia & lavender & white, seem to lean against that heat. Or perhaps it's my sense of the fragility of life - Maggie grows thinner daily, leaving me unable to hide from myself the fact that she's grown old, and will leave me sooner than I think I can bear; Mary fell last night, prompting a midnight emergency call that she was okay, but needed help getting up. Perhaps it's the influence of the Summer Solstice, making me aware that time is passing, that I cannot make it stop, or perhaps it's just that I couldn't sleep after returning from Mary's, but lay awake for a while. Perhaps it's that I worked on paintings this weekend, each the colors of summer, with that shimmery mirage feeling of hot childhood days, gone forever.

I am moving in slow motion, aware of each heartbeat, the breeze from the fan at my feet. Nothing seems important, yet everything feels too important. Things feel as if they're slipping away from me, just ahead, around the corner. I sense the going & feel the softness of my heart, my belly, my soul. I see that mirage shimmer of movement as things move away. I reach out to touch them, to stop them, and the mirage disappears. Then returns. Disappears, then returns again, to stay a little longer, to fool me, to play with me, to tease me. A cruel game - not fair, I think.

But the fan keeps turning.


Night-blooming cereus

Even the plants are celebrating the Summer Solstice.

This is the first bloom of the year from Robert's night-blooming cereus.

Let me pause here. The above link will take you to a series of photographs by Robert Fovell (not the first mentioned Robert - my Robert - well, actually Katie's Robert, who henceforth shall be known as Robert #1), who actually has a blog called Are you cereus?. His photos are gorgeous & you should check them out because this is a plant made of magic - this is the plant I once called sly. Each bloom lasts only one night - it opens in the dark & slips away before the morning's light.

Robert #1 has incredible cereus karma. Actually, I assume that Robert Fovell (henceforth to be known as Robert #2) must have some serious cereus (see how cleverly I worked that in?) karma also, since he did name his blog after this creature of the night, and since he does have those gorgeous photographs. (And while my photo is nothing like any of his, I'm quite thrilled to've gotten it. In my defense, I used the built-in flash on my camera, which I NEVER use, and which I discovered has some sort of super fast blinking thingy - believe it or not, I used to actually sell professional cameras for a living - which was flash-flash-flashing in the dark & blinding me & which scared me at first, and then I got worried that Robert #1 & Katie would wake up & tell me to stop it or that another neighbor would call the police because someone was in Robert #1's backyard firing off some blinking thingy. It was all quite dramatic.) :)

I'm rambling. I apologize. I took advantage of every moment of daylight yesterday & stayed up quite late last night. Very unlike me, but I knew the cereus was going to pop & I wanted to be there. Sometimes Robert #1's plant will have 10 or 12 blooms at one time - you can smell their amazing scent from the street - but last night was just one. Like I said, I think it was in honor of the Solstice.

I, too, have one of these plants. In fact, I have the mama plant. Mine used to belong to Mary, and Robert #1's started life as a cutting from hers. Used to, Mary would throw a party when she knew the blooms were going to open. You don't have a lot of warning - it seems as if the flowers are just suddenly there - & Mary would call everyone & we'd all show up & people would drink & eat & drink some more, and sit around in the dark waiting for the blooms to open. And then people would get cuttings when they saw how strange & magical the cereus was, and the poor plant just became smaller & smaller, shrinking away like a tired old woman. After Mary broke her hip, she gave the mama plant to me. It felt like quite a responsiblity - a passing of the torch. And last year it bloomed a couple of times. I admit to nestling it up to Robert #1's plant, in hopes that some of his karma will rub off. I think it's working.


Fun run

Yesterday I visited a blog that was so slick & so beautiful & so together & featured only the most professional of graphic designs & retouched photos & it was truly a pleasure to lay my eyes upon such wonderful images, but then I popped back here to my little place, and OH! I felt like the girl at the prom in a homemade dress, and not a particularly well made dress at that, one with too much lace & maybe part of the hem has come unstitched, and my hair is probably not staying in place - I have to keep brushing my bangs out of my eyes - and I'm not sure of the dance steps either; this is unfamiliar music. Should I even be here?, I wonder.

This is scary stuff, putting your silliness & hopes & dreams & crazy words right out there in front of everybody - it's like the poem of your soul. And you have to keep reminding yourself that poems don't always have to rhyme, that they don't even have to follow rules, iambic pentameter notwithstanding. This believing in yourself stuff is hard. It takes stamina - you need a good breakfast & a multi-vitamin to keep it up. It's a daily workout - you have to do it even if the rain falling today has no colors. Maybe instead of running a marathon today, you have to just walk a few blocks, maybe you have to fall back into the rhythm of one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other. And then maybe the joy begins to return - a few endorphins wiggle their way into your creative bloodstream, and you feel like you can walk a few more blocks, and soon you're jogging a little, and soon it's a little run, and maybe the rain has colors now, or maybe the sun has come out & you can see that the rain has caused a few buds on the trees, and new flowers to bloom. Maybe the terrain has leveled out a little & it doesn't feel like all uphill now. And yes, maybe you're jogging with all these people who are in better shape than you, who aren't breathing as hard, whose running shoes are more expensive, but maybe now you're not noticing them so much. Maybe now you're watching for new flowers.


Storm: Standing Tree

mixed media w/acrylic on canvas: 14"x14"

This is where I stand under a sky full of art clouds.

Let the storm begin.

I stand & wait for the art to fall;
I have planted the seeds & pulled the weeds.
The soil is fertile.
Let the storm begin.
Let those weeds regrow tall by my feet,
let the flowers open their hopeful hearts to the wind.
Let the colors held secret in those clouds fall into my open hands,
held palms up to receive the soft drops of blue moons,
the distant dusty howls of coyotes,
the blood-feather of a mockingbird,
the white swoop of an owl on a winter evening.
Let the scent of sweet olives & honeysuckle fall into my open mouth,
let the blinking lights of fireflies tickle my throat,
let the soft silence of late summer nights
leave indigo stains on my fingertips.
Let the storm begin.
let it rain


Say yes

"There is a life-affirming spark within you which constantly nudges you towards saying yes to life. Create your "Yes" list; a list of all the things you want to say yes to, and be prepared to be amazed." ~ Lucy MacDonald

I have nothing deep today, nothing profound, nothing earth-shattering, nothing heart-rending. It feels so good! Back to my summertime goal of fun & silliness. Back to telling secrets I shouldn't, but just between you & me . . . you should have seen Mary last night, just a wee bit tipsy after forgetting to stir her gin & tonic & getting mostly gin with her first few sips. Demanding potato chips, watching the first awful Rambo with me & Katie & Robert. Turning to me at one point & asking if any of us had any idea what was actually going on in the movie, being told no & laughingly responding "But it's wonderful, isn't it?!" Yes!

You should've seen last night's lightning & heard the thunder & felt the cooler air drop over the neighborhood. I sat in the dark, eating a cold nectarine, watching the display. The raccoon I haven't seen in a while appeared in the doorway, backlit by the storm, seeming to ask for a roof over her head & a nectarine of her own, but then scuttled away on tiptoe to her warm, dry bed under the storehouse out back.

This morning the toughest decision I had to make was blueberry scone? Or blueberry muffin? Which do you think I chose? It doesn't really matter - blueberries are on my yes list, along with feeling a bit tipsy at times & laughter & surprise visits by raccoons & Cracker-Jacks & candlelight & funny emails about husbands from friends which begin "Don't you think it should be legal to kill a man in at least one of the states?" & faded blue jeans with baby-pink high heels & the fact that at this very moment Michael is showing my blog to his grandchildren (he married very young) - never mind that they are only 8 & 4. Yes!


The Cathedral of My Father's Death

This is my father. 

He taught me that reading was time spent well, that if the score in a baseball game was low it was a better game, that football was fun.  He was never in a hurry, and in fact would make you crazy with the time he spent conversing with clerks & waitresses.  He noticed when his favorite mom & pop hamburger stand changed their mustard brand & had a "discussion" with the owner about the heresy of switching from French's.  He recommended movies to me that he thought I would like - Mad Max, The Big Country.  When I didn't know the meaning of a word, he sent me to the dictionary to look it up - sometimes I wouldn't even ask him because I knew he'd make me go drag out that huge book instead of just telling me.  A dog person, he came to love the many cats that also made their home with us.  He gave me Patsy Cline & Johnny Cash and that coat I had to have in the 8th grade because everyone  had one, plus the love of crossword puzzles, and the ability to argue a point to death.

He died on New Year's Eve, 1996, but had been in the hospital since before Christmas.  The hospital's chapel was overflowing with red poinsettias, and the light through the stained glass windows was tangerine & pomegranate - those colors I love but cannot live in.  It was a dark, quiet, usually empty place, and it felt like I was curled inside a jewelry box lined with red velvet. After he died, I thought if I could paint that chapel, I could move past the grief.  But I couldn't paint it - so many reasons why, and time moved on.  2 or 3, or maybe 4 years later, I decided to explore making books.  This was the first one I almost  completed.  It felt  finished, however - I'd spent a weekend holding my breath & just putting the thing together & it felt done.  I called it The Cathedral of My Father's Death, and put it away.  This morning I almost couldn't find it - I looked through drawers and boxes and my grandmother's trunk and piles of art supplies before finally locating it in a file marked "personal" in my back closet.

So here it is.  It's connected together by the black ribbons & the vellum is scratched & some of the glue is letting go, but it still feels complete to me.


Friday the 13th

13 things that scare me:

1. Food in a restaurant that's been prepared with mayonnaise.
2. Entrapment of any kind - being stuck in traffic in a snowstorm counts. Total dependence on someone else or the government counts. Hurricane Katrina comes to mind.
3. Not having my own car - see #2.
4. Interview with the Vampire - the book
5. The telephone ringing in the middle of the night.
6. Trying on bathing suits in dressing rooms lit by flourescent light.
7. Not real crazy about snakes.
8. Paper cuts - I once read a story about a man who developed the flesh eating virus from a paper cut. Enough said.
9. Jaws. But I watch it every chance I get.
10. Cashiers who cough on the money as they hand you your change.
11. Running out of toilet paper, Pepto Bismol, or Dramamine.
12. The idea of being on a cruise ship. See #s 2 & 11.
13. Squirrels or mice in my house.



Last night I awakened in my dream, to find imprints of small flowers on my face & arms. I stood in front of my dream-mirror, enchanted & amazed at the patterns, watching for them to begin to move. To dance or twirl. I could feel their weight. And then I awoke from the dream to sparkles of sunlight & leaf patterns on my real-life face & arms, slightly warm against my skin, dancing to the rhythm of the fan's whirling. I'd slept for 14 hours. Supper had been ½ pint of lemon sorbet & water with ice cubes, with phones turned off. I reveled in the silence, the aloneness, the feel of the heavy cold air in the room, the white blanket over my feet, Maggie nestled near. MY space, MY home. Mine.

And then, while eating breakfast, I watched cars parking on the street outside, people hurrying up the block. An estate sale 3 doors up, past the cross street. I walked over (I'd always wondered what the inside of that house looked like) & the house was wall-to-wall with people touching things, talking about things. Someone else's things. It broke my heart. I remember when the elderly couple who'd lived there used to walk their dogs - every day, 2ce a day, they'd pass my front window, poodle on one leash, chihuahua on another. And then she was gone, and he walked the dogs, Soon there was only one dog, and soon, he himself was gone. I remembered the times I'd seen an ambulance at the house, my concern for the dog. And now here was their stuff. His/hers/theirs. I had to leave.

Is it ever really OURS? I suppose not, I suppose we just borrow whatever it is we borrow, and leave it for someone else to borrow when we're gone. Although - I know Maggie's heart is mine, I know the look I sometimes see in Michael's eyes is mine - not things, but mine nonetheless. The way last night's silence was mine, the dream was mine, the feel of the ice cubes in my mouth was mine.

I hope the couple who'd lived in the house up the street are happy someone wants to borrow their things for a while. Years ago, Michael & I were wandering through an estate sale & happened upon some darkroom equipment. A negative carrier had been left in an enlarger & when Michael pulled it out, an old business card of his fell out, with photo price quotes scribbled on the back. It felt like a smile from the Universe. Mine, it said, but yours also.


Turkish caps

It is Louisiana hot with a capital H today. Humidity is hanging in the air like cobwebs, but there's no pushing it out of the way - you have to just swim through.

I was up early today. I'm discovering that early is a good time for introspection. I arrived at work with almonds, a bag full of gingerbread pigs, fat cakey sugar cookies with colored sprinkles on top, Mexican sugar donuts, a camera stuffed with images of flowers & stars & the intoxicating music & spoken poetry of Jami Sieber & Kim Rosen whispering in my head. To find quietness waiting for me here with open arms. I'd thought quietness had lately deserted me, but I wasn't looking in the right place. Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things & still be calm in your heart. ~ Anonymous.

Have I quoted that before? Well, never mind. It's true. I've been paying no attention to things except my own anxiety, my own agitated mind - I realized yesterday that, for the past few days, I haven't been looking to my left before driving into a cross street. Time for me to slow down. So up early today, breathing, walking through Mary's yard with a camera. Pictures of starbursts disguised as flowers. Flowers disguised as peeping toms. I caught the flower pictured above spying on me as I moved about.


Of ducks & dogs & painting suns

It has been a very strange weekend. Weird juju all around. Lulu, which I just noticed rhymes with juju - not that any of this is her doing - is in town for a few days. Thursday evening as we were driving to dinner, we were delayed at an intersection by an teeny, tiny baby duck who was quite confused & quite scared & quite running in circles in the middle of the road. I wouldn't drive forward, stopping all the traffic behind me, and it was impossible to catch the poor thing. Bad vibes all around, but eventually he/she managed to get up onto the sidewalk & into the grass of someone's front yard & then disappeared around a curve. Where it came from, who knows?

The weird vibes continued. Sunday, Katie, Lulu & I drove over to Gladewater, the supposed antiques capital of East Texas, but today I am thinking not-kind thoughts about the store owners. For some odd reason almost all the stores were closed - they are usually open. One store had a sign that said "Open Sunday - Sometimes." (I am quite tempted to link to that store's website, but I will be nice.) While we stood on a sidewalk discussing this ridiculous turn of events, watching cars pass by, a big black dog suddenly appeared, running, chasing a car down the very middle of the street, in the middle of all the traffic. He was wearing a broken leash & we assumed he was chasing his owner's car, apparently having broken loose as they drove away, but the car didn't stop - just kept going. Another car stopped & the driver tried to entice the dog to get in, but to no avail. Mr. Dog continued to stay in the middle of the road, stopping traffic. It was very upsetting. However, all the drivers were on their toes (and their brakes) & managed to avoid the poor dog. He eventually turned into a small side street & Katie & I decided to go get him. I had a cup of water, an SUV (yes, I'd driven an SUV, using expensive gasoline, to visit an apparent antique ghost town), a way to take him somewhere - although where that where would be I had no idea. Approaching the dog, however, just scared him back into the middle of Main Street. Bad juju was thick in the air. So we walked away. And then, suddenly, coming back in the opposite direction, appeared the car the dog had originally been chasing - its occupants quite gleeful at the dog running alongside them - they were hanging out of the windows, laughing as the dog raced again down the street, in the oncoming traffic lane, to keep up with them. I cannot say enough bad things about them, so I won't say anything. They all disappeared from sight around a far curve.

At this point, a store actually opened. Insert several exclamation points here!!!! And even though by then none of us felt like browsing through stuff, we made an effort. I even found a beautiful embroidered handkerchief I wanted. But I couldn't get the woman who'd opened the store to sell me the silly thing because she was too busy talking to some friends. Loudly. About medical problems. (A BIG pet peeve of mine - please, please, please, I think, I don't want to hear the details. I could tell you stories about the conversations I've heard in restaurants, I could tell you about the meals left unfinished because someone felt it necessary to discuss their surgery or treatment or side effects while sitting 3 feet away from me. Good Lord, I'd rather they just had a cigarette & kept quiet.) Eventually I left the hanky on the counter & as we walked out, the woman told us "Thank you! Come back!" (Insert little symbols indicating swear words right here.) So we left dear little Gladewater (truthfully, usually one of my favorite places to while away a Sunday afternoon) and came home. Too much bad energy.

And now to painting the sun. I am not speaking to a certain photographer here at work, at least for today. I was given orders (that's how it felt) to paint a very simple background for him. On Wednesday afternoon. Had to be done by Monday. I told him it was a bad idea to put that much paint on a paper background, that it would wrinkle, but I was ignored. In addition, I listened to a little sham flattery about how couldn't I make it look more muted, more out-of-focus, me being such an artist and all. I told the ever-wonderful Michael it was a bad idea. But it's what was wanted. And it was a sun, which I thought was kind of funny, since I'd just declared my own personal solstice, so I worked on it. Thursday, Friday, Sunday morning - I was here at 7:33 a.m. And guess what? It's all wrinkled and all & the photographer is sorry, but he can't use it. More bad energy, more bad juju. Hence the cute little duck in the picture. (Something to cleanse my palate, as Robert would say - to turn the energy around.) A sweetie. A playful duck. A joyful duck. With a heart for an eye. Now that's a phrase I like. A heart for an eye. It's what I need today.


The girl in the giggling picture

This is the giggling girl in the picture - the one next to my name. In the My Profile spot. Yesterday I received two emails (thank you both - you know who you are!) complimenting me on being such a sweet, giggling child, back when I was a child. (I'd never received any comments about the photo, and then two in one day!) Alas, the photo is not me. It is my niece. She is the Emma in EmmaTree. As you can see, she is not giggling in this photo, but that was just a momentary thing. She usually is. She's usually up to tricks. She is (as I told one of the emailers) what I aspire to be when I grow up. Nearly fearless, artistic, creative, smart (she won first place in the only spelling bee she's ever entered, this proud aunt will quickly let you know), athletic, did I say nearly fearless?, sensitive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Not like I was at all, I think, and yet . . . she was a very early reader (like her aunt), she loves puzzles (like her aunt), she loves art (like her aunt). Sometimes when she looks at me, I see expressions I've seen before only in the mirror. She is my mother's only grandchild & the light of my life. (Oh, if she reads this, she will be sooo embarrassed. These pictures are a couple of years old - she's now 11, no longer a child, more sensitive to the ickinesses of us adults.) She was born on the last day of the month in which my father died. He never got to meet her. And he would've been crazy about her! He would've been absolutely delighted with her smarts, her silliness, her beauty, those curls I so envy. He would've taken her to ballgames, he would've attended every one of hers.

As for me, I'd never even been around babies before she was born. Once, a jillion years ago, back when Robert's daughter was just born, Robert placed her in my arms & I said "I've never held a baby before", to which the ever-wonderful, always funny Michael responded "Isn't it AWFUL?". But Emma was always my favorite girl's name, and I always thought if I ever had one of my own - a baby girl, that is - I'd name her Emma, though I kinda figured it would be the name of the next cat I lived with. I didn't even suggest this to my sister-in-law or brother - they came up with Emma all on their own. How's that for serendipity? So I got an Emma, and P.S. -she was ahead of the Emma-popularity-curve by a few years. Which I think will allow her to shave a few years off her age as she gets older because everyone will think she's part of the Emma-boom. (Just like my name - you know I'm not in my 20s because no one named their daughters Deborah after a certain year - we just won't mention the year.)


The Valentine Connection

Oh, what to say about these? How gorgeous, how girly, what thoughts they conjure up! What words they conjure up! Clementines, fireflies, peonies, ruffles. My brain just flits from this photograph to these other imaginary pictures. I see summertime, tree houses, hammocks under the stars, white birds flying low across the lake, fireworks, a sparkler in my hand drawing pictures against the night sky. If these were star-shaped cookies (and not pink), I'd see tinsel & Christmas angels & pine cones.

It's funny how we connect things. Mary is 94, and beginning to have trouble expressing herself, which frustrates her greatly - she knows what she wants to say, but the wrong words slip out. This past weekend, I was visiting, and she was trying to tell me something about Lyndi-Linda, telling me that LL was with Valentine. I knew LL was helping her daughter move (incidentally, her daughter is not named Valentine, although, just as an aside, we did once have an employee named Cupid, who worked here at the same time as an employee named Venus - you just can't make this stuff up) and I mentioned this to Mary, who affirmed that yes, that's who she was referring to - LL's daughter. It made no sense to me, but our conversation continued, as conversations do, meandering here & there & at one point Mary asked me to tell her about Garnet. Who? You know, she said, and waved her hands at me. I commenced to guess . . . Lyndi? (No!) . . . Katie? (No!). You know, she said - the one who's just left for Greece. Ahhhhh, Amber, says I. And it struck me. Amber. Garnet. Gemstones. A connection. When I told this to the lovely Katie, she suggested that "The Valentine Connection" may have worked something like this: daughter = love = heart = valentine. I like that. Just another way of seeing.


How the fairies find their way home at night

This photo is part of a teaching- myself process I'm involved in right now. It has nothing to do with real art, nothing to do with photographic purity - it's Photoshopped into what I wanted. Which is a glimpse into how fairies might find their way through the dark at night. Or something quite silly like that. Something very childlike & fairytale-ish & girly. There's a reason for this - I have actual plans (she says with all seriousness). I was inspired by people I saw this past weekend in Canton at the First Monday Trade Days. I found that I didn't want to buy anything, that everything I saw that I liked was something I could make (or have made) with a slightly different vision. I've always known intellectually that there are ways to make money (as people actually were) with some of the stuff I make - stuff I don't consider art at all, stuff I just consider as fun - it was quite an eye-opener to actually see it right out there in front of me. I just never really realized! And I don't know if I can loosen up enough to actually follow through on my "plan", but I am going to give myself this summer to play at it. I am back to my normal agonizing over & not finishing any paintings, and not even starting any collage boxes - I need to do something to jump start myself. And yes, I realize that a lot of the people I ran into & talked to have time to actually work on their stuff - they don't have another job - and I don't have that, but that's just something I'll have to figure out as I go along. Wish me luck - no, wish me the self-confidence to keep going. (It's a really good plan.)