“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


Blue Bicycle, White Fence, Green House

There was a pink one of these and a yellow one of these,
and I did photograph them, but it was a waste of digital space
because I knew I liked the blue one best
& I knew that would be the shot I chose & it was.
And it matches the photo from the previous post in a way
that tells me that I know what I like
& that maybe I have a certain style or taste
or something.
I mean, beyond liking things blue.


The weekend cometh

And it's a long one.

So enjoy. Relax. Lounge. Be lazy.
Don't drink & drive.
Laugh. Hug as many someones as possible.
Keep your eye on the sky.
Rub a cat's belly, scratch a dog's head.
Cook outdoors. Leave the dishes for Tuesday.
Sleep in late. Watch a baseball game.
Use sunscreen.
Read a book with no deep meaning.
Catch a fish. Let it go.
Walk in bare feet. Don't wear a watch.
Buy flowers.
Say thank you & please & I love you.
Listen to summer's silence.


Bird, lake, happiness, aggravation

I swear that all I did to this image was beef up the contrast & the sky went this color.
I know it looks like I picked it out especially or color corrected it this way on purpose,
but truly, Photoshop has just apparently grown to know what I like.

I spent yesterday at the lake,
and it started out just the way you'd expect a day to start out when you're in a bad mood -
my floatie immediately floated away away away from me,
leaving me with no way to lounge about on the water.
I tearily called the truly truly truly ever-wonderful Michael
& he pointed me in the direction of a floatie I could borrow,
which I did & upon which I floated & cried
until he arrived to also borrow a floatie
& we paddled our 2 matching borrowed floaties over to my runaway
& hooking it between us, drifted back to shore.
This was after he discovered that the battery to the barge was not working
& while we were paddling & drifting & saving errant floaties,
the battery charger performed its piece of magic & once back on shore,
we loaded our stuff onto the boat & were off.

And so then the day became all quite wonderful,
although really the paddling & drifting & saving lost things part
was pretty wonderful also.
The lake was free of people -
apparently the Wednesday after school has started is the day to go -
and it wasn't too hot, only low to mid 90s,
with a breeze here & there, although usually there,
and clouds poofing overhead.
We stopped in the middle of the lake & got off to float around
& while the top of the water was nice & kind of warm,
about a foot or so below the surface, it was nice & cool.
There were lots of fish jumping - if we'd been in the right mood,
any spot on the lake looked like a good fishing spot.
We watched cranes & ducks & herons & the jumping fish
& I took pictures & realized I really need a longer lens
because the ducks look like they're off in another county,
so I'm putting a lens on my Santa list.

The image above is a buzzard -
one of many many who were sitting around on tree stumps
& limbs on one of the islands.
Michael spotted this one with his wings open,
which he (the buzzard) obligingly kept open for me.
I know, I know - it's a buzzard,
but if I hadn't told you, you'd probably think it was an eagle or something,
so let's just pretend I didn't tell you.
Thinking it's an eagle or hawk makes the picture so much more enjoyable.


Shimmy, shirr & swoop

I am in such a bad mood.
I'm just having one of those days weeks months.
The photo above is one I like just because it looks painterly.
No deep meaning or anything.
It has nothing to do with bad moods.
I just like the flowers on the post on the street.
In fact, the whole block has flowers attached to the handrails
every few feet on both sides of the street.
I have other photos of them I also like, but I really like the simplicity of this.

Maybe I should talk about simplicity, I think, as I type that word.
Maybe then this photo will tie in with the words.
But what can I say? I think. That I wish things were simpler?
How trite, how dull, how boring. How expected.
Then should I say things should be less simple? How crazy that sounds.
So I won't talk about simplicity, I think. I'll just leave it alone.
But maybe first I'll look it up in the dictionary - see what it really means.

And in doing so, I run across these words:

shimmy - a jazz dance (if you type jaazzzzz, you can see the shimmy),
shirr- to gather cloth by parallel rows of small stitches (shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirr),
shook - past tense of shake (shoookk,ookk,ok,ookk,ok,ookk,oookkkk)
shush - keep quiet (shhhhhhhhhhhhh),
smooth - to make calm (smooooooooth)
sniffel - to whimper (snifffifffle)
swoop - to drop or descend suddenly (SWOOp!).

Now I'm feeling better.

What words do you run across?


Keeping track of life

On the one hand, it was a good weekend to feel bad.
Not oh-God-I'm-fixin'-to-die-bad,
but just 1 degree above normal bad,
just enough fever to make me sleepy & achy -
just enough to make me grateful that some station was running back to back to back episodes of Lord of the Rings
& I could just lay on the couch & drink Dr Peppers & suck on sour Jolly Ranchers
& eat tuna salad sandwiches & watch Frodo & the boys.
I felt happy that there was something on t.v. besides the Democrats in Denver,
which, excuse me, I really didn't want to watch.
I was too sleepy-eyed to read & turned to the t.v. to keep me company.
The goofy thing is that the lovely, lovely Katie actually gave me a boxed set of the movie(s)
a couple of Christmases ago, and I can watch it (them?) anytime I want,
but it just felt nicer,
so much more like a gift from the Universe to just turn on the t.v. and there they were.
And I actually got in from the beginning,
so it was a nice long day of recuperating, of lusting over Rivendell,
of appreciating the sheer fantasy aspect of the film.

On the other hand, I didn't feel good, and it felt like I had too much to do.
Keeping an eye on Robert & Katie's Miss Kitty while they're in Maine
necessitated a quick paper plate sign by the front door so I wouldn't forget her.
Lily did get forgotten
(luckily I'd felt well enough Saturday to come in & leave her plenty of food & water),
Maggie no way could miss her vet's appointment on that same day,
so I managed that before the storm blew in.
Sideways rain & wind gusts that lulled me quickly into sleep during the afternoon.
I awoke late, feeling I'd neglected Mary,
but the chance that I was contagious kept me away all weekend.
I stole paper towels from Robert & Katie's house to avoid a trip to the store.
I ran the washer & dryer all day yesterday,
folding clothes & sheets & towels during commercials.
I checked in with my mother, Robert checked in with me,
I checked in with J.Y. when he showed up at Mary's yesterday evening,
I checked in with Lyndi-Linda, who's really sick & can't get a day off -
I watched her sitting on Mary's front porch, nodding off, needing sleep desperately.

Which made me wonder.
Did my body do this on purpose?
Make sure I had just enough fever to keep me slowed down, to keep me home,
to stop me for a little while?
Probably nothing contagious, probably just allergies and/or a sinus problem
(this is East Texas, allergy capital of the world),
but a couple of days of not being sure,
so that I could legitimately & without guilt (well, without much guilt) say no to people?
I think it's possible.
It was a hard week last week.
A lot of stuff to keep track of - not too much different than this week, but stressier.
I think my body may be wiser than I.
I may go home early today - I may sleep some more.
But the fever is gone, the achiness less, I feel better.
And Lily has forgiven me for deserting her yesterday.
But there's a lesson in here somewhere.
It's so easy to tell yourself to slow down, or to tell someone else to slow down,
but we all have so many obligations, so many places to be right now,
so many people to deal with, so many this & so much that.
It's difficult to put aside those obligations - sometimes it's impossible.
So we go & go & go until we just don't go anymore.
I was upset last week that the summer has gone by -
that school starts this week and once again, I had no vacation.
I got so little down time, and now we head into our busy season.
It felt so unfair.

So I wonder.
The mind/body connection is an amazing thing.
I think my body made sure I stayed at home & watched a movie that made me feel safe.
To try to get me ready for this week, then next week.
I think if my body had extra arms, it would give me a hug.
Maybe it did.


A hand on the doorknob

I am just crazy crazy about this door, and it seems fitting today. You know, all that stuff about doors opening, etc? I wrote about it a while back - that the doors were there but I was afraid to open them? Well, not if they're this fairy-tale like. I can see all kinds of handprints around the doorknob - that must surely mean it's a good door, that many people have opened it. And opened it again. Return business.

I have taken one scary baby step & my Etsy shop is now open. I've only added a few items, and I stayed up quite late doing so, agonizing over every decision, but the hard part is over - that starting part. I will now probably become quite a little Etsy piglet - shoveling everything I can into my little shop. I kind of hope so.

And I have another door to talk about. A while back, Fran over at Sacred Ordinary put out a call for animal stories, wanting to hear about the relationships we have with them, what they mean to us. Today she has published my story about Bob. I love her site - her vision of the sacred in the ordinary. If you have a story you'd like to share with her, please let her know.

And PS - I've just, for the 1000th time, typed scared when meaning to type sacred. I think the Universe is trying to tell me something.

UPDATE 8.22.08 3 pm - I'm so smiling! I've been featured in Yazzie's Etsy Treasury! I'm actually not really sure what that means (I promise to find out), but it seems to be a very good thing! Thank you to Yazzie!


Baptism by wind

When I was a little girl, I had a little toy kitchen.
A tornado took it away.
My youngest brother has no memory of this storm, he being just a toddler at the time.
I can still see the flattened garage in my memories.
I wonder now how bad it really was - was it bigger in my child's eyes than in reality?
I could ask my mother, and trust her memory, but I prefer mine.
It took my kitchen - that's all that matters.

Another childhood memory -
watching the night sky with my aunts & mother,
staring out through a latched screen door at the wind
& searching for funnel clouds.
I remember the bright light in the room,
the white paint on the wooden door,
the absolute green darkness of the outside.

A more recent memory -
sitting in the wonderful, wonderful dining area/studio space of an old apartment, drawing. Gorgeous light outside that grew darker & darker.
I was so involved in that drawing,
time was flying past with the wind that was blowing oh-so-fiercely outside,
I was oblivious to all but that sheet of paper in front of me,
until my temporary roommate, watching t.v.,
called out to me that we were under a tornado warning,
that one had, in fact, touched down in a small town 7 or 8 miles away.
Only then did I look up & see the green of the sky.
Only then.
She was from The North & had no real experience of such things.
I took a look at the wind -
at last! you might be saying -
& the sky & felt we were okay.
We were. Some were not.

Another memory, a bit earlier.
Drawing again - this time for a school assignment.
Different apartment with less wonderful light, but a gorgeous blue roof.
It was Sunday - early morning - and the t.v. was on so I could monitor the storm raging outside. Suddenly a warning - one to take seriously;
a tornado was down the road 4 or 5 miles & headed my way.
I outran its possibility.
No safe place in that apartment, on a flimsy 2nd floor.
I took the photo of my then-boyfriend, my purse & headed for my parents' house.
I knew that relationship was over when I told that boyfriend the tale,
thinking how sweet it was of me, how much in love it showed I truly was,
and he became uncomfortable.
With the wind, so to speak.

A later memory, while working at a camera store.
The color of that sky became a drawing.
Tornadoes were touching down here & there
& I was in the back room with my boss & a friend who'd stopped by.
She too was from The North & had no real experience of such things.
She required a couple of Valiums.
I was just happy we were next door to a drugstore with a coke machine & candy bars.

Even later - this job, this business.
Standing with a customer & employees,
watching tennis ball sized hail bounce off our cars,
oohing & aahing at the heights achieved by some.
Another customer called to let us know that a tornado had touched down a couple blocks away from us, behind us, not in our field of view.
We never knew.

And a couple of years ago,
watching t.v. coverage of a tornado warning in my brother's little town a few miles away,
I called him, only to find he'd just been hit.
Nothing serious, some damage,
but live wires were down in the street & he was quite stunned -
he'd walked outside to,
yes, check the sky,
and there it was,
giving him time to shut the door behind him as he ran for shelter.

I am no longer as brave about these things as I was when a child.
The loss of my little pink kitchen was my first awakening.
But I can & do watch & listen to the sky. It speaks to those who will listen.


With the rain comes art

The rain has eased up & with it I have an announcement. Prints of my paintings & some photographs will soon (very soon; maybe the middle of next week) be available in my currently empty Etsy shop (I should be ashamed). Proofs of the first two prints were received today & they are fabulous, if I do say so myself. I will probably also start selling my originals via Etsy, although figuring out the shipping is very confusing if you use UPS (and I do) & you have items of different sizes & weights - UPS has about a jillion different fees depending on where an item is being shipped to. I still must make a decision about that. Prints are easier to figure since they all weigh the same. I am very excited and I want to thank Mermaid for spurring me into action, and Cookie for all her answers to my inane questions. !!!!!

A safe place

I have an anxiety disorder. I've mentioned it before, but try to not make a big deal out of it. It is what it is. I have therapy for this, I have meds for this. I do relaxation things - I meditate. I would practice more yoga if someone in this town would teach a yoga class for working women - something in the evening. But they don't so I don't & I do what I can on my own. That is what it is. In addition, I have for years practiced visualization "therapy". When practicing relaxation visualizations, there is usually a "safe" place you invent for yourself. You're on the beach soaking up the sun, you're on a mountain picking wildflowers, whatever. All are pretty good. However, over the years, I have found myself consistently inventing a place that is isolated, but safe. It's cold & stormy outside, but comfy inside. I have all I need. I am always alone, without people, safe in the silence, secure. But I always have Maggie with me. She is always there, while the storm rages outside.

This morning, I awoke to find Maggie sick, in need of a trip to the vet. Not in terrible pain, but sick & needing attention. I also awoke to a rainstorm. Not a flood, but a substantial downpour. She & I managed to get into the car, she staying much drier than I in her cat carrier. We stayed in the car until the vet could work us in. My safe place. There we sat, the windshield wipers quite hypnotic, the shooosh . . . shooosh . . . shooosh against the windshield, the rain battering the car. Every so often a sad little meow from Maggie as she waited, but mostly the silence & the sound of the rain, the wipers, the hum of the Jeep (almost out of gas) trying to lull me to sleep. Maggie too. She became quiet & just watched the rain while I sipped a coke.

She's been doing very well - so well, in fact that last week the vet decided we should try reducing her injections. I had a bad gut feeling about that, but convinced myself I was being silly, being paranoid, being anxious. I should know better than to distrust myself. I have a very aware belly. Too aware. But yesterday is yesterday & today is today & Maggie will be okay. Back to the daily injections + a week's worth of antibiotics.

But that safe place worked. All those years of visualizing that place worked. There we sat this morning, and I felt safe, not so anxious. I knew she'd be okay.


When in doubt, look down

It is a grey dreary day. A dirty-grey dusty dreary day. So oh-uninspiring. So ugly. Not a wonderful grey like I imagine Seattle or London to be. This is that grey like Mexico City was a few years ago when I visited - when I had to scrub the soot out from under my fingernails every few hours. I was walking around outside thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking - camera in hand, ugly grey sky overhead, ugly not-yet-renovated downtown buildings surrounding me. Waiting for the outsideness to inspire me, because my insideness had nothing. I looked down as I headed around to the back door & there in the pavement (more pavement art!) was a little concrete bird. I took a couple of photos before noticing the nest sitting just a few inches to the left. Perfectly lined up. I reached out with my left big toe, scooched the little nest over where it so obviously belonged and there it was. Inspiration. A perfect melding of outside forces & inside forces.


The almost blue hour

It's almost that blue time of the day.
It only lasts a moment, maybe an hour.
All the colors are starting to hide, but not yet gone -
they're there if you look deeply enough,
but it's that time of day when you don't want to look that deeply.
It's that time of the day when the moon begins to softly nudge the sun into bed for the night,
but not quite yet.
Not quite.
The sunlight lingers, not ready to call it a day.
Not yet.
Not quite.
It's that time when it's almost that time between day & night, but not yet.
Not quite.
You can feel that invisible shift, almost visible.
But not yet.
Not quite.
Soon it will be blue -
the blue that ushers the white birds in for the night,
swinging silent & low over the lake, headed for the small islands they call home.
But not yet.
Not quite.
Now is the time of slowing down, of softer breaths,
of stretches that signal the almost end of day.
But not quite.
Not yet.


Shelter for the soul

This is about the mistakes I make, the exhaustion I feel, the red paint that is just too much red, the times it just doesn't work. This is also about the small pieces of just right that keep me hanging in there. So much of this little painting just isn't working, but too much of it is, so I can't let it go. I don't yet feel the need to gesso over this little bird who's found a bit of peace beneath a sheltering leaf. There are so many details that are exactly the way I want them to be. It's just that sky. That sky has been black, it's been white, it's been teal and gray, and this red red red. It's a sky of many moods, that sky is. I've been looking at it for weeks, and then hiding it away, and then looking at it some more, and then hiding it again. I know the mood it was in when it began, but it keeps changing, and it hasn't settled yet. That sky is not my friend right now. Which is, in fact, what it started out as - not my friend. An angry, scary sky. I just didn't expect it to take that mood so personally - to toss it back at me & just laugh at my inability to figure it out. So this is about pushing a painting where it doesn't want to go. The painting pushes back. We are at an impasse. Who will win? I think we both will. When this painting finally has its way, when it wins, I think I will also.


Smiley face

I was driving off a lot of thoughts this past weekend - driving & thinking, with no music, no radio, no noise but the Jeep & my breathing & the whoosh of passing cars, watching the road, watching the trees, watching myself drive east when I usually drive west or north or south. Driving with no particular destination, just needing to move, to not be at home or at work or with anyone else, just needing to continue in a particular direction & see what was there. I found myself in a sweet little town full of antique shops closed on Sunday, working oil rigs, baskets of white flowers hanging from street & stair railings. Finding my way out, I found this painted on the back wall of a shop. And I found myself smiling. The drive back home wasn't nearly as introspective as the drive out. I even stopped and bought a Dr Pepper.

I'm smiling today because the wonderful Miz Cookie over at Cookie Sunshine has bestowed upon me this award:

You all know how this works. I get to pick 7 blogs I really love, which is tough, because there's so many wonderful blogs out there. I then need to let those people know they've received yet another award! If those people so choose, they can put the award on their blog, then choose 7 more people to send it on to. They have to link back to me & link to all those they've picked. So, in no particular order, I send this award on to Paula, Jaime, Robin, Celeste, Michelle, Julie & Sarah.

Have fun all and THANK YOU Cookie!


Holding time close

There was a time in her life when things remained in their proper places.  Doorways stayed put - they didn't slide around the house, appearing in different spots on different days, like some trickster door from Alice in Wonderland.  The front door was always at the front of the house.  Hallways kept still, the living room was always the red room.  The cats didn't continually change their names & keep the new ones secret, making her guess.  There was a time when books were treasures to be savored over long afternoons & into the evenings, when the characters didn't somehow become part of her real life, when phone calls were from friends she remembered.  There was that long-ago time, when she dated baseball players and smoked and visited Cairo & Moscow, when she threw parties for no reason at all.  There was that time.

But now is this  time.  The time of sneaky rooms, the time of walking around her house making sure they're where they're supposed to be, the time of staring out windows at flowers she can no longer name, the time of wondering aloud how the mail came to be placed on her kitchen table, the time of gathering herself to herself.  Of holding her cats closer than they'd like.  The time of anger at time itself.  Years go by - 94 years is a long time, but not enough, and she'd like more.  This is the time.  The time.


But is it Art?

This drawing is my most-wanted. I've had more people want this piece than anything else I've ever done. No one actually wants to pay for it though. It's big & it's framed & that adds to the cost, but I don't know if that's the reason it remains so unsold but oh-so-wanted or not. I've had a long time & many occasions to think about this. People who can afford this have wanted to borrow it, to display it with other works in their homes. After all, they tell me, it's just sitting here, it's not going anywhere, I won't miss it, why shouldn't I let them enjoy it for a while? They tell me that I never know who will see it if it's out there - in their house, they mean - someone who may actually want it enough to buy it. I've thought about that, also. They're not wrong. It is just sitting here, not being seen. There's no real place to show it here in this town. Maybe someone will see it in their home & decide they can't live without it. Maybe it's the thing to do, I tell myself. But I admit that this bothers me - that it somewhat hurts my feelings. Well, it used to hurt my feelings - I've grown tougher over the years & more confident - but it does still bother me. What is the reason? I wonder. The answer, I think, is that they don't consider me a real artist. I know, I know, this is a problem I myself have, but this is part of the reason why. Part of the scared girl's excuse for being scared.

But perhaps it's not personal. Perhaps it's not just me. I have a friend who has wanted to purchase one of Robert's wonderful photographs for several years, but is aghast at the prices he charges. What, she says? $400 for that little print? No way, she says. But spending $400 for a new purse is something she does without blinking, without quibbling, willingly - several times a year. I don't know what this means. I don't know what to make of it, but I have a theory.

Art is scary. Especially new art. Undiscovered art. Art that hasn't yet been declared art by museums or collectors or critics or time. (Apologies to Robert, to whom this does not apply, who has photographs in museums, galleries, private collections.) To say to the world "Look! I think this is wonderful - I think this is art - I'm willing to spend actual money on it" is scary. It puts someone out on a artistic limb. After all, they're probably thinking, what do I know about art? Nothing. So I will be safe. Once someone else says it's good, says it's worthy, then I'll know - I will trust their opinion, not my feelings. So they buy a purse from a department store - a purse like thousands of other purses in thousands of other department stores - a purse that someone somewhere has deemed in, has deemed cool for this season. Feelings of insecurity don't arise with the purchase of this purse.

I could be wrong. I don't know. I think that maybe I'm analyzing this too much, that maybe people don't buy a piece because they just don't like it, but then I remember that they want to borrow it, want to display it. They just don't want to pay for it.


The illumination of darkness

The screech owls were calling to each other in the darkness last night. Tree to tree to tree I could follow the sound. Clouds covered the moon and a soft, soft light fell through the magnolia leaves, onto tall grasses praying for rain.

Night falls and the colors of the day find a place to rest in the shadows cast by empty birds' nests or perhaps under the wings of a sleeping sparrow. The darkness is a place to go & I do. I go. It is a place full of dreams before sleep, a place to whisper out loud to the sky and the hidden stars. Time is unimportant - it is night. Have I mentioned that incident - oh, surely I have - of last summer? Perhaps the summer before? It was a full moon, and I'd gotten out of bed and into the night. Am I speaking in whispers? Yes, because it's night. Shhhh . . . here's what happened. An old Cadillac turned the corner by my house and stopped in the middle of the street in front of me. A woman got out - she was alone - and walked to the edge of Mary's yard. She stood still and leaned back, arms flung wide, embracing the sky. Embracing the sky. Her back to the moon. A few breaths in, a few breaths out, then she was gone. It's the night. The darkness has its own illumination. It's up to us to see.


Secrets, baby - I keep 'em to myself

There was a time in my life when drawers were not that important - when, in fact, they were something I didn't even give a thought to. Something I disdained. I didn't need them. I also did not need or want doors for my kitchen cabinets. Everything was out in the open. I was so cool. I bought dishes that matched the kitchen decor, so why not show them off? I only bought food in containers that looked good against those visible inside walls. It was all very Martha Stewart-y, but in a cooler way. A more shabby chic thing. A thing that grew old fairly quickly. There were problems - like the fact that I like Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup, but the red & white can just didn't go with the colors in my kitchen. Ditto Zesta saltine crackers. More red. So I got really crazy for a while & bought containers to put that stuff in, containers whose colors did go with my kitchen colors, but then I'd forget what I had. Out of sight, out of mind. After a bit, I had doors put on. Much better. Not looking at a cluttered cabinet is a highly underrated thing.

During this period of hiding things, I'd discovered the wonder of drawers. What an amazing concept. You can put things in drawers & close them & voila! Secrets. But I wanted the insides of the drawers to look good. So I began to color-coordinate those, so that when I opened a drawer, I would actually feel good about searching for my voter-registration card, or incense, or batteries. I painted the insides of all my drawers. I only bought things that - you guessed it - kind of matched. Nothing neurotic about me. But you know what? It makes me happy to open a drawer & see dvds all in white sleeves, laid against a baby blue napkin, inside a pale teal drawer. It makes me happy to see the edges of the drawers when they're left open. It makes me feel organized & together, even if I'm not.

I'm still searching for the perfect thing in which to toss mail as I come in the door. I've looked for years, but can come up with no solution I actually follow. Sometimes I pretend I'll go through the mail the day I receive it & throw out what I don't need. Ha! I have no secrets about my mail - it's piled everywhere. I did, however, just buy a straw & teal colored purse/tote that looks large enough to hold a lot of bills. It matches. A possibility. I'll let you know.


The bride thinks twice

A friend of the lovely Katie's showed up at a wedding Sunday. The groom did not.
Better to find out who he is really is now  than later.

 It reminded me a piece I made a while back. Eyes open, closed, open again. She's tied in. The doors close her in further.

 Have I mentioned my fear of entrapment?  :)


Saturday afternoon

103 degrees outside. This was the place to be. The ever-wonderful Michael was seated to my right, steering the barge around the lake. He said more boats than usual were out & about, but as you can see, there weren't that many. My favorite other boat was the one full of teenage girls, all bikini-d up, taking turns on the tube being pulled behind their boat. Screaming and having way too much fun. You couldn't help but smile every time they flew by, with a different girl hanging on for dear life & bouncing away on the tube. When Michael offered to pull me on a tube I asked him if we'd just met, was he new here? Nuh-uh. I wanted to lay there & munch on ice & watch my skin relax. The easing up starts with the sun on that skin; the warmth makes it way cell by cell through your muscles, into your organs - heart, brain, belly begin to just slow down, to melt in the heat. You stop the barge, get in the water, float around for a while (if you're really good, like Michael, you can fold a seat flotation device in half & just sit on it underwater - chest, arms & head perfectly free & easy to hold both a beer & a conversation). I'm not that good. But never mind. I just floated around - when a boat or jet ski would come by, I waited for the wake to gently jostle me up & down & I would watch the sky move. Back into the barge & the breeze from moving feels better than anything you can imagine & by now that inner warmth has come full circle and even your skin begins to feel relaxed. The most you can do is refill your cup with ice & wave at people as they go by. Grin at each other when a crane flies right in front of you, swooping almost sideways. Back home to the pier, barge tied up, another hour of just floating. Then later, seated at a table on the pier, under a ceiling fan, you sense all that stress just whoooosshh out of your body. You can almost feel it ooze from your water-wrinkled fingertips.


Honking for peace, internet service & kids

I feel like I've been away for YEARS on some deserted island (and not in a good cool-treehouse-&-all-the-fruit-&-nuts-&-fresh-fish-&-sunshine-all-the-time-&-my-legs-never-need-to-be-shaved kind of way). All we did was change our DSL to a different line, an already existing line, an already existing number, an already existing number we use all the time, right here in this very building. No problem, they said, just pull the thingy out of that box at the wall that goes to the number you're no longer gonna use & plug it into the correct box. Oh yeah, and they just so blithely forget to tell you that then you have to go through a 4 hour phone session to register the new connection & if you mistype one of the #s they're rattling at you over the phone, you have to start all over again. Never mind, we said, we'll start all over again tomorrow. Cool, they said - we'll call you at 9:30. A.M. They called at 2. To leave a voice mail telling us their registration service was down & they'd call later. They called at 4 & it only took poor Michael 30 minutes this session to get everything going

And we had both kids both days. They're great kids, but they're 4 & 8 & we were busy & they were prepared to play internet games using the laptop computer, and it just wasn't happening. BUT . . . they both got to leave their handprints in paint on my canvas which they thought was fun, and because Goodwill is within walking distance, I took them toy shopping (a whole buggy full of goodies for only 9 bucks - hard to beat!). At lunch, we went to a local buffet place, and as soon as we got settled, 4 busloads of people from a church camp showed up. 4 busloads! I told the kids to get their plates filled now! When we left there were still 100 people in line outside the doors, standing in the heat.

Today we almost had a wreck as we passed the local every-Friday-as-long-as-it-isn't-rainy-or-cold "Honk for Peace" group outside the courthouse. Michael was driving on the inside lane, and because we see this group every week (as long as it isn't rainy or cold), he wasn't even paying them any mind. But the woman next to us was, and she honked. For peace. Poor Michael thought she was honking at him for some reason & he tried to get out of her way, but that meant steering into a lane already filled with cars, who immediately began to really honk at us - not for peace - so he had to get back where we'd been, but he didn't know why the woman had honked - remember? for peace? - & had to determine first if it was safe to do so. A little scary. I don't think anyone needs to be honking for any reason other than as a warning. Peace, war, love, Jesus, I don't care. It's dangerous. Don't do it.

And now I will start catching up on emails, comments & all the wonderful blogs I've missed for these couple of days. I really do need Robin's 12-step blog addiction program.