“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


The Company that Cannot - Part II

The story seems never ending.

This is a company who can send out such well-written  correspondence to their employees, who can say in so many beautiful, correctly spelled words how much they care.  This is a company that can use keys it shouldn't have to open doors from which it should stay away, a company who must do this,  but cannot do that.

This is a company which can leave gifts as a surprise - never mind that it further confuses her when she happens upon a purse filled with chocolates.  This is a company that cannot be bothered with those little details.  Tell her,  they say, we only mean the best,  and by the way, here are more papers for her to sign, and yes, we know  we agreed to not bother her, but just this one time - oh, and this one more time - and yes, yes,  they say, we know we should be contacting her daughter for this last little bit, but we cannot  wait.

This is a company which cannot remember her at all.

This is a company which shows such concern  when her caretaker is taken ill, and an ambulance must be called - take some time to recover,  they tell that caretaker, heal - but let us not forget that this a company who cannot.  A company full of cannots written on such lovely  stationery. This is the company which cannot remember to call a replacement for that caretaker - oh, they are so sorry!  they will say, when the caretaker checks in to make sure, but, they will say, do you think she will be okay alone?  Until we find someone?

Which they cannot.

. . . the moon howls

There are nights when the wolves are silent
only the moon howls.


What wind brought this balloon?

On what wind did this balloon ride?

What wind knew the place? Had it circled before, sighing through the trees & flowers? What wind brought this gift and placed it ever-so-gently among Mary's Turkish Redcaps? What wind kissed it with softness, making it sway in the waning light, dancing a slow waltz to the music of early evening? An autumn wind, still warmed by the sun, but quickly cooling in the light of the half moon? And then gone? The balloon a reminder it had visited & approved?

Or was it a wild chilly wind, sweeping around the corner from the park, where children's balloons were fleeing left & right & up & up & up to just get away, and did it grab this lucky balloon by its ribbon & say come with me - quick! - I know just the spot! Yes, yes, a couple of cats, I know, but only one a kitten; the other won't bother you - there is silence & beds of flowers in which to sleep away the night. And did the balloon believe that wind & come willingly & was it pleasantly surprised to find that this was a truthful wind, despite its blustering & hurrying? Or was it cajoled, sweet-talked - did the wind grow impatient?

After all, who can doubt the wind?

Autumn Sleepyheads

Oh, these leaves are in the way in summer.

They are all over the place in the summer, hanging from the fence post next to the bridge in the front yard - did you know I have a bridge in my front yard? - a small one built of rocks, crossing the city creek that runs just a few feet from my front door? Well, I do, and these leaves lay in wait all summer, green & full of life & sassiness & they grab at you when you pass by, like a kitten who hides behind a door, swatting softly at your ankle when you get near, but because we like the wildness of them, we let them stay, we let them have their way. There are tons of them; generations of them, no doubt, having family reunions & telling tales about the floods they've seen & the dogwood tree that once stood next to the little green house in the backyard, and gossiping about the pear trees & their absolutely decadent blossoms, and complaining about the pecans that fall into their midst every autumn. Oh, you can just hear them go quiet when you get close, and you know they've been talking about you, too, and when you get far enough away, you can hear the rustle of their whispers begin again.

In the fall they are quieter, sleepy from all that visiting that's been taking place, and they begin to put on their winter clothes, preparing for overnight frosts - the young leaves are the last to take cover, because they have no idea what cold feels like. The elders, however, change quickly, muttering about the silliness of these green youngsters - shaking their heads with annoyance & impatience. And we are rewarded with autumn bouquets hanging outside the door, thanking us for another wonderful summer, and yes, they say, they'll be back next year, but for now, please, could we keep it down . . . shhhh, they say . . . we must sleep.

the wind is rising,
and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings,
now for October eves!"-
Humbert Wolfe
all still - summer is over


Morning patterns

This is my view.

This tree & I have become friends .
With leaves or without, I have watched it every morning for 14 years.

This particular morning it was covered with lace,
shadows from the honeysuckle vines,
and those nameless vines with blue flowers.

It was attended by dragonflies
a particularly large orange butterfly,
around & around & around.
And around.

Higher up,
where you can't see,
is a house for owls,
and behind,
where you can't see,
are pegs to help you climb into the midst of those limbs.
That you can't see.
you become one


From the driveway looking out

I discussed old times with friends this weekend.

Times I didn't live through really. Times I don't quite remember. Not quite. But close. The times of front porches, of closeness, of neighbor helping neighbor. When it was just what people did. When they were all in your business, even when you didn't want it - probably especially when you didn't want it - but they were there and they weren't afraid to discipline your child if he needed it, and there wasn't any ambiguity about when he needed it - misbehavin' was misbehavin' and they knew you'd expect them to correct him. When neighbors looked in on each other, carried your newspaper in to you if you were under the weather, or turned off the water sprinkler if you'd forgotten about it & your yard was getting drenched.

Where did this go? What changed our way of thinking about each other? How did we get so separated from one another? Some blame it on our not staying put, of pulling up roots. I don't know - I think it's something more, and here I may cross the line into some politics, and I apologize, and I'll try not to, but we'll see. Because what I think has happened is a shift in our thought patterns, in expecting someone else to do all those things, and . . . okay, see? This is where I veer off into politics. I don't know how to avoid it & to really talk honestly about this. But there was a time when people depended on each other, on their churches, on their local organizations, on friends, on family, on themselves. People mention to me quite often how lucky Mary is to have me nearby - me and Robert & Katie & JY - and how we are such wonderful people for taking care of her as much as we can, for checking in on her, and while it makes me feel good to hear this, I always think "But isn't that what people do?". Apparently not - apparently it's unusual. But, and this is interesting, it's not unusual among the people I know. The people I know are just that way - they donate to charities, they give up personal time to organize community fund-raising events, to help out at food banks or The Salvation Army. Yes, they give money & they give stuff, but they give time, which is the rarest gift of all, because none of us have enough.

This weekend Mary decided to take a stroll. A short, slow stroll - just to the end of her driveway & out into the street a little ways, accompanied by her caretaker. She grew tired once she'd headed back toward her house, but didn't want to go in. Not yet. It was beautiful weather, and the yard was full of squirrels & the street was full of folks walking their dogs or pushing babies in strollers, so Katie & I "borrowed" the bench from Natalie's yard for Mary to sit on, & settling in with additional lawn chairs on the driveway, we watched the happenings of the neighborhood. Everyone waved at us - from cars & on foot, puppies pranced by for our entertainment, cats wound in and around our ankles, we discovered things about the trees overhead we'd never noticed - we decided we needed a front porch. The 2 girls pictured above were part of a pre-Halloween festival taking place at the park a few blocks away & they flew past almost before I got the camera pointed in their direction.
it doesn't take a village, it takes a porch


Soft Saturday

I have been here for hours.

It has been indescribably pleasant, here in front of the computer, serenaded by its hum & the sound of an occasional car going by outside, working on photographs, reading others' blogs, answering emails. No telephone ringing, no real place I need to be. A lazy soft Saturday. I slept late - no need to be up early for Maggie's weekly veterinarian visit; Michael was in town & able to give the weekend injection. We breakfasted out, watched Book tv, and then later Katie & I treated ourselves to Harvey. She was then off to a family reunion, and I was off to here, with Mexican food & a Dr Pepper. Outside with Lily, with the laptop in hand to begin catching up on blogs & friends, and back inside to look at today's photos. I have at least one more to share, but this one was so soft, and I feel very soft today, very relaxed, so this seemed to speak to me the loudest.

It's a rare gift - a day like today.
I am extremely grateful.
I say thanks.


The oddest little thing

I hope you can see this.

I hope it will enlarge enough when you click on the image so that you can see what I'm talking about. If it doesn't, I'll just delete the post, but then you wouldn't be reading this, so why I am even mentioning it?

But here's the deal. 3 or 4 weeks ago I was walking around in one of my neighbor's flowerbeds & I saw these leaves laying there all sweet & golden & I remember it made me think of Lord of the Rings for some reason and I really liked them - the leaves I mean, not the Lords, although actually I really liked the Lords also - and I figured I could do something with this image when I needed a little digital therapy. So today I did. Need a little digital therapy, that is. So I called up the image & started looking around in it, seeing what shapes were there & mulling over possibilities when I noticed this little area that I've circled in the above image. My first thought was "Oh my God, it's a thumb"! But it's obviously not a thumb, unless it's a teeny little thumb with a star on it, but now of course, I have to go back over to that flowerbed, and try to remember just exactly where these leaves were laying & I have to find this thing. Because what is it? I have to know. Of course, the odds are that I won't find it & that I won't ever know, but it isn't it strange & odd & wonderful?

Oh, I hope this enlarges enough for you to see.
remember thumbelina dolls?

Writing down the hawks

2 of them.

They usually perch on the church steeple a couple of blocks away, but this morning Katie watched as one - then both - landed in the top of a tree a few houses away. By the time I got to the door, the first one swooped over our heads, to be quickly followed by the 2nd, swooping even lower. We followed them to the back yard & found them sitting in a tree in the yard behind us, sun shining on them all golden. They stayed but a moment & then whhwhhhwhhd into a low tree, out of view.

I'd gotten up early to paint a couple of pages in my new journey/journal - had managed to get both handprints & some color on the pages. I rushed back in to write down the hawks. I take it as a good sign. The hawks brought me back to my neighborhood, to my life. And while, as Bridgette suggests, I perhaps need to not focus on tying the words with the page background or images, I was pleased with the idea of flight & freedom & openness. I take that also as a good sign.

I wonder how the day will end.
the long & winding road


Therefore, I blog

Warning: Self-pity & whining ahead.

I made the mistake of reading Bridgette's wonderful blog. Her posts about visual journals. Visual journeying. Her classes with the wonderful Judy Wise. I lusted. I salivated. I, too, wanted to make a visual journey. Never mind that I have never been able to do this. As I said to Bridgette, "therefore, I blog". But I have a birthday coming up - a big one. With double 5s. What better way to begin my new year? I bought a spanking new journal yesterday: I was psyched. I would be successful this time. I could just feel it.

So last night I began. I would just lay down a few page backgrounds without any journaling. I would make ready - I would begin writing words on my birthday. Very symbolic. But it was horrible! I hated it! I hated just painting the 1st page. I knew what I wanted; I knew what the word for that page would be - MINE. I knew I wanted my handprint. This would claim the journal as belonging to me. How much more simple could that be?

The first step would be easy. Lay my hand down & trace around it. Done. I hated it - I hated it! Just a white sheet of paper with a black pen hand outline. Horrible! I painted over it. Of course the outline still showed, but that was cool, I kind of liked that - it would a subtle thing. I painted. I hated it. Every muscle in my body was tense, I was nearly yelling at poor Maggie to just stop meowing, I felt like I was having a hot flash, I felt like I had to get that stupid background done fast, fast, fast, fast. I was rushing, I wasn't breathing, the cat was meowing & wandering among pencils & paint & ups of water. I gessoed the page & blew it dry. Another hand outline. Hated it. By then, I was actually crying. Crying! Oh yeah, I can do this, I was sarcastically thinking, oh yeah, I'm goood at this. What was I thinking? Why couldn't I just put my hand on that page and draw around it & get on with the next page? So I decided to go ahead & write about it all last night. Fill in that first page.

It was misery. It was not fun. I could not sleep. I kept thinking, well, it's like yoga, maybe. The poses that are the most difficult for you may be the poses on which you need to concentrate. When I finally fell asleep, I dreamed about words. At some point in the night, I apparently woke up & wrote something down from that dream - the notebook next to my bed read "Joy was contentedly eating cookies shaped like her name." Isn't that wonderful? That's the kind of journal I keep best.

But I will keep this up. At least I will try. Surely it will get easier? Surely it will someday bring Joy & cookies shaped like her name?


Saved Rain

Saved rain.

Instead of rain, rain, go away. An image saved from last week's stormy morning. A morning I crept through wet unmown grass & leaves to see what I could see. A morning inspired by the thought of red leaves. Cat tiptoeing behind me. A year ago, I would have stayed put. The surprises & gifts left behind by a rainstorm would have remained unseen, ignored, unappreciated. How angry that must have made those other storms. How annoyed they must have been to leave all these wonders behind, only to have me rush to the car, complaining to the wet monkey grass as it brushed my legs. But this year is different - this year I sneak into neighbor's backyards, silently opening their gates, slipping by open windows, camera in hand. This year I have learned to look, to see, to wait. To breathe with the rhythm of the day. To find a particular still moment - to let it speak to me. A year ago, no time to paint would've meant no time for art, time only for wishing I had more time. But this year is different - a camera is saving my life; I am learning to speak my visions digitally. I feel less lost. The loss of natural daylight & early darkness is no longer a frustration, the lack of space no longer a problem. My inner artist is staying fed - she is happy.

She is dancing among the wet leaves.
leaves whisper the sound of our past


Autumn's magic

I am busy.

These wet leaves tell the whole story. I am not sure words are necessary. As much as I hate raking leaves, I would love to have some time in which to do so. But I am busy, and luckily my leaf-raking days are gone - someone else's job now - but still. That time would be much appreciated.

I have been running for days. It is our busy season; I am up to my ears in pictures of children & paperwork & lists of unreturned phone calls & emails to be sent & orders to be entered into the computer & explanations & re-orders & complaints from parents who swear they ordered pictures but have no proof. I am in need of some magic. I am need of my muse - where is that little bird? Has she flown away to an even warmer climate? Is she hiding among those leaves in the front yard? Because, of course, that's where the magic is - I know that, truly I do, but lately I just can't find it.

Maybe I am trying too hard.

Last night I decided I would make an alphabetical list of magic items - cast a spell, change my life. I would start with A. Amethyst. That sounds magical, doesn't it? But the Alabama tomato I'd bought for my sandwich tasted quite magical, so maybe A stands for Alabama tomato, I thought. Then what? Could I go through the rest of the alphabet & list magical things that really exist for me? Right now? Could I use that list to include things about autumn, my busy season, my stressful season? Let's see.

Starting with B.
  • bonfires on the shore of the lake
  • church bells ringing across the cool evening air
  • dog-eared book pages marking my favorite spots
  • eating pecans picked up from the ground just 5 feet from my front door
  • feathers left in my yard as gifts - thank you little birds!
  • golden gusts of falling leaves
  • Halloween trees with orange lights & black ribbons
  • impractical birthday presents
  • jack-o-lanterns made by children
  • kitty-cat kisses
  • light from candles lit in the earlier-coming darkness
  • moonlight streaming through my bedroom windows
  • naked tree branches
  • October roses
  • pear pies baked from homegrown pears
  • quiet, quiet nights with no sound of air-conditioners
  • raccoons on tiptoe, peeping in my front door
  • star gazing from a hammock, wrapped in a blanket
  • tortilla soup served in white bowls - with lots of extra tortillas
  • unexpected afternoons of sunshine & alone-ness
  • vases of twigs & berries
  • wishes on stars & warm toes
  • x-tra dark chocolate w/lime
  • yoga stretches in front of a fire (soon, not yet)
  • zzzzzzzzzs

falling asleep to football games


Bad karma & rain

It rained again last night.

A car wrecked outside my front door, across the street, sliding across the dark, rain-slick brick street, jumping the curb & hitting the telephone pole at the foot of Mary's driveway. Bad karma for the intoxicated, no-licensed driver - Natalie lives next door. She's a law enforcement gal, and was on him like a duck on a June bug, never mind that he was double her size. She found a sawed off shotgun in his car. Double bad karma for this guy. But he was okay, if you consider the fact that his car was wrecked & he was arrested & all. Maggie & I nestled back down on the couch & watched the red & blue lights from the police cars & SUVs flicker on & off against the rain drops on the glass door; when the tow truck showed up it added a green light & yellow light to the mix. It was pretty mesmerizing & put me right to sleep.

This morning I took images of the rain.

Into the mystic.


A Texas Autumn begins

No red leaves yet.

My at-last welcome to autumn comes on a very rainy day - a very hazy, wet, blue looking day. I consider that a little gift from the Universe to be able to welcome fall with a bit of blue. There was a full moon last night & I stood on a tree stump & took long hand held shaky exposures of the moon, trees, leaves - I made spooky, silly shadows with one arm extended. With that & an October conversation with Robin in mind, I offer these lovely words from Van Morrison. One of my very favorite songs ever. You can listen here.

Well it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
'Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And I'm trying to please to the calling
Of your heart-strings that play soft and low
You know the night's magic
Seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight
Seems to shine in your blush...


Adios summer

I am finally,
at last,
no ifs, ands or buts,
saying goodbye to summer.

It is hard. I want it to stay. I will miss the long daylight, the warm nights, the robins, the new flowers every day. But October is here, is halfway gone. Halloween looms near, baseball is playing its final games. The trees are slowly, slowly beginning to turn from green to pale yellow, soon to become golden, the leaves falling, changing the color of the ground below as they land. I am beginning to ponder Christmas presents, and am drawn to the too-soon ornament displays in stores. I snuggle in earlier on the couch, Maggie nestled against me. I am welcoming autumn. But not with the image above - my last-of-the-summer-flowers. I say goodbye with this image. I will say hello with the next.
i don't know why you say goodbye, i say hello


The power of words

They just call it a scan.

I posted this on Friday & left it up for about an hour. Maybe a couple of you saw it. When I posted it I was angry - I took it down because when I'd posted it I was angry. I want to not give in to my anger here - I give in to it in so many other places; I want a place I can come to where anger doesn't live. I'm still annoyed at UPS, but not just because this very-needed package is no doubt lost, but because they are using words as if the meanings do not matter. They said to me that the arrival scan was not a physical scan. Truly. They said that.

Two days later I am still thinking about words. There's no way to get away from them. The news is full of them, and they are so rarely allowed to mean what they so clearly mean. There are signs everywhere - here in Texas, in both English & Spanish. Double words. We have signs on our business door - no soliciting says one, no public restroom says another. No ambiguity to those phrases - the words mean what they say. Both are ignored. Are they ignored because people do not expect words to actually mean what they say? Maybe so.

This morning I watched an episode of Trading Spaces - I didn't even know it was still on. But it is, and this morning's show featured a divorced couple, redoing a room in each other's home, daughters helping. One of the "art projects" for the ex-wife/mom was to paint words on a canvas. 4 words. Words to let her ex-husband know what a great dad he was, and in general what a good person he was, even though the marriage had ended. 4 words. She couldn't do it. 4 words. Not because she couldn't think of anything nice to say - she most definitely could - but because she was scared to put those words out there. 4 words. 4 truths. In big letters. For the world to see. For him to see. 4 words. The designer finally sat down with her & led her through it. 4 words. And then, she found more words - she was able to paint, in small letters, surrounding those 4 big words, a letter to him.

I have always used words in my paintings. They are always covered over - they are sometimes words of anger, sometimes words of pain, sometimes words of fear. Sometimes hope. I always paint over them, but they are always there. Even the paintings with words you can see have words underneath. I have no plans to ever let them stay in the open. My little secret.

Back when I was still a part of the dating world, I had words taped to the inside of my front door:
Is he smart?
Is he funny?
Does he kiss like fire?

I'd come home from a date, close the door & read those words.
It took until Michael to get 3 yesses.

And here's another secret. There are words hidden in each post here on my blog. At the very end. I type in words & then make them the same color as my background. They disappear. But they're there - at first they were just to give a little breathing space at the end of the post; aesthetic reasons. Now? Oh, now it's for me. A little magic potion, a little secret ingredient.
stirred not shaken


the shadows of tigers

There once was a woman who lived with 2 cats
in a magic forest
at the edge of enchanted jungle.

The magic of this forest was not that it did special things for her, but that it gave her the strength & the belief that she could do these things for herself. The forest was filled with wolves & white owls, foxes & raccoons, but in the jungle lived strange & wonderful creatures with truly magical gifts & powers.

When the elephants came near, she could hear the sound of cellos playing.

The woman wasn't lonely, for she knew a man she loved very much, but his life was too exhausting for her to spend too much time in, so she would return to the cats & the house in the forest, and listen for the cello music & the sound of the nearby stream & wait for the white owl to fly overhead in the full moonlight, and she would inhale deeply and the strength & the magic of the forest would once again return to her body and her soul.

In the jungle there also lived a tiger the woman had never seen, but she knew he was there and could imagine the terrible-ness of him. She knew he was big & bright and could change her life with just one whisper or one thought or even one breath.

Once, a long time ago, someone she loved had gone away (for the forest was magic, but not perfect, and could not protect her from the sadness of life), and the woman blamed this on the tiger and pictured him in her mind as even bigger. His stripes grew darker & his claws were sharper, but, most frightening of all, his step became even more quiet, so she could never be quite sure if he was really there. No music played to hint of his presence, but sometimes she thought she heard drums & believed that these were the sound of the tiger (sometimes they grew very loud and powerful and overwhelming), but sometimes she knew the drums were just the sound of her frightened heart.

Sometimes it seemed that the tiger carried an hourglass around his neck, and would empty the minutes and hours she should have. She could sense his presence as she hurried to get things done, and the less time she had, the closer the tiger seemed. She thought that perhaps it was the tiger's breath that took in these missing minutes, and as he held his breath, she found it harder to catch hers, and seemed always to be running from him.

The forest tried to help. When she was lost, the leaves became arrows, pointing her towards home. Blue flowers would spring up in forgotten places, and the wolves would howl in the night to remind her she was not alone . . .

(to be continued)

~ I am fighting a tiger today,
though I know he isn't there. ~
burning bright


The softer edges of things

It stormed the other night & left the morning with softer edges.

I walked around the yard & saw green berries, October honeysuckle blossoms, magnolia leaves, a cardinal, one pink rose bud, raccoon footprints. I felt the leftover rain as the wind shook it down from overhead branches, and caught glimpses of Maggie's stripes as she trailed me through these quiet moments. The owls are back in Mary's trees, and now that I view them as guardians for her final trip, I feel differently about seeing them. I am happy they are here for her, sad they have appeared again so soon - at ease, though, with their presence. The neighborhood is quiet, as if it is holding its breath, not yet ready to exhale, but knowing it must.

I also saw 2 blue jays, one acorn cap & a mockingbird.
the owls are hiding


The edges of things

What was I thinking?

I have no idea. When Hurricane Ike was threatening to wash this far inland, I cleaned out all the stuff that's under my bed, on the small chance my house should flood & I should have to deal with wet yucky things - I threw a bunch of it away, but kept some. One of the things I held onto was a hand-made portfolio from my college days, full of old drawings from that time & maybe a little later. (I was too poor to afford a real, cool portfolio, so the ever-wonderful Michael made me one; I was so impressed with his ingenuity & the way he could just figure out how to make something like that - I think it's part of the reason I'm still with him today - he can fix or make anything!). Today I finally opened it. This is one of the charcoal drawings I found inside. 22" x 30" or something like that. I have no idea what it is or what it even represents, but I love it. Isn't that funny? I remember a teacher telling me I was very edge-oriented, and it really shows here. I still am. I love the edges of things - I love where they blend into the background or into another item. I am so happy to see this. I am so happy that I like it. Still.

I wonder if I liked it back then.


A very ordinary day

This has nothing to do with anything.

Or perhaps it does - let's see where this ramble takes me. If you get up early enough at my house & get outside & look up the street to the east, you get to see this little piece of loveliness. And if you have enough energy that early, you can take the few steps back to your car, get your camera, retrace those few steps & take a few images. When a squirrel runs through the water, you'll wish you'd managed to get that image, but oh well, never mind, you got to see it. Then when you upload the images into your computer, you'll choose the one you like best - of course, it's the first one, the way you first saw it, the vision that inspired you enough to go back & get your camera. And then, for some reason unknown to even yourself, you will proceed to remove some of the color.

It will look like this:

You will realize as you're doing this, that you do this a lot. You like removing some of the color. And then, if you're like me, you'll start wondering about that, you'll start thinking way too much about yourself & your motives & what is up with you. But you'll go on with your day, and what a very ordinary day it is - poor Maggie will be taken to the vet & will yowl at you from the cat carrier on the way there, but will stand in your lap & look out the side window on the way home, you will pick up your allergy prescription from the pharmacy, you'll fill up the Jeep's gas tank, noticing that gas is now down to $3.23 per gallon. You will, on the spur of the moment, decide to drive to a small town about 30 miles away, and go antiquing. A very ordinary day. The sun is shining, the temperature is in the low 80s - it could not be more pleasant. You will listen to Diana Krall as you drive, and you will try your best to be in the moment, but at this you will fail. Because you're still wondering about that removing the color thing.

When you get to the the antique stores, you'll realize you don't even really want to be there. And you'll realize this is happening more & more lately. You'll wonder about that - is it just that you don't need any more stuff, is it that the stores don't have anything you really like, is it because you think you should be out & about, even if sitting on the couch & watching a movie seems just fine? And then you'll wonder about that - is that about avoiding making art? Maybe yes, you'll admit. But maybe not. Maybe you just wanted to drive - to get away for a bit. Maybe it's nothing deeper than that. And you'll end up not buying anything, and when you get back to town, you'll be hungry. It's a very ordinary day. And because you eat out every day of the week, you'll sigh at the thought that you have to once again choose a place to eat, because nothing sounds great, but nothing sounds bad either, and when you pass the place that sells gingerbread pigs, you'll wish you'd stopped & just bought a bag of those. But you won't - you'll eventually settle for Schlotzky's & you'll order a small Fiesta Chicken sandwich, but you'll leave off the cheese, onions & chipotle sauce, and it will occur to you that that's similar to removing some of the color in your photographs. You'll order a bag of jalapeno chips to put a little color back in.

You'll remember that you're out of paper towels at home, so when you're through eating & reading the Dallas Morning News, you'll head over to Target because they have the best deal on paper towels & you like the store anyway, and before you get out, you'll spend $116 - including a new shampoo & conditioner, for which you will have spent quadruple what you normally spend for those 2 items, but you're still thinking about that removing the color thing, and you figure you're worth it, and besides, you don't really believe the economy is as horrible as the news media is saying it is. You'll still be pondering that color thing, but by now - finally! - you're not as self absorbed as you have been all day, and because you've seen Halloween stuff for sale, you'll remember that you're supposed to be helping a friend think of horror movie trivia for a Halloween party. The day could not be more ordinary.

You will run into your cousin at Target - she's sitting in the deli area with a friend, looking like some Persian/Indian princess with big brown eyes. She will admit to you that she was in the very same place last night - what an exciting life I lead, she will laugh - this cousin who has suffered much in the last 2 or 3 years; losing a husband & mother here in Texas, and a future son-in-law in Iraq, this cousin who will cry if she reads this. She & her friend will tell you about last night's false fire alarm at Target, how people lined up to pay for their items when firetrucks pulled up outside. Her friend will tell you how your cousin thought it was the perfect time to do more shopping - the aisles were empty & she needed Pledge - and your cousin will defend this by saying she saw no smoke. And while you're thinking about the fact that the color is still in her life, she will tell you about the chore of choosing something to eat last night, because nothing sounded great, but nothing sounded bad either. When she spied a fly buzzing about the menu sign, she decided to let the fly decide for her - where he landed on the menu would be her supper. It was a sign, she said. You will realize how very much kin to her you are. When you ask where the fly landed, she will tell you "popcorn" - she had popcorn for supper. Me too, you'll think, but you won't say anything.

A very ordinary day.

Cinderella leaf

Oh, I know I'm not supposed to like this.

This poor little forgotten leaf. But it looks like something the fairies left behind. I can just see them, the moonlight fading away to morning, scurrying to get home before the rays of the sun reveal their hiding places, and I can just see one lovely little fairy princess, dropping a bejeweled leaf in her haste, wondering & worrying where it could be, hoping she would find it the next evening.

I checked. It was gone the following day.
pumpkins, mice, glass slippers


night blooming cereus baby

I never catch them at this stage.

I can't really say that anymore. This little beauty belongs to Robert, and I actually caught her with several of these little blossoms-to-be a couple of weeks ago. At least I think they were blossoms-in-waiting - I forgot to go back and check. I got busy and forgot. No excuse really, but it's such a gorgeous plant & it had so many babies that I regret missing them. And it was probably the last blooming of the year, although a couple of Halloweens ago it surprised us all & decked itself out in celebration of the night. I sat out next to the creek in the back sideyard in the darkness, keeping a quiet eye on the cereus & watching the trick-or-treaters bypass our house for Rodney's next door - you can't blame them; Rodney's house is a Halloween extravaganza. Kids line up for a couple of blocks just to get in. We always make sure to plop Mary in her wheelchair & roll her up there to see the show. Last year that show was so over-the-top poor Rodney spent weeks recuperating. I'm hoping that doesn't mean this year's show has been cancelled - the neighborhood would so disappointed.


You are Here

You are here.

This is a torn-out page from an altered book I did a while back.
I really loved this page, but the rest of the book? Not so much.
The leaf is from my front yard,
which is just full of little arrows telling me where I am,
showing me where I should go.

This is imprinted in the concrete right outside my front door, pointing towards my house.

So I am here. No doubt about that.

It feels, however, as if the time is coming to move on. To let here be another place. But not too soon. I have reasons to be here now. Mary is here, and I cannot leave her. Maggie is here, and while she would come with me, she wouldn't like it. I want her last days, months, years, whatever, to be here. Mary wants to stay in her home until the end - I want the same for Maggie.

I think of how I came to be here 14 years ago - moving from the country into town. My father was diagnosed with lung cancer just a week before my move. It was a move I hadn't wanted to make - like Mary & Maggie, I like staying put. But things happened that summer & I reached the decision to move - agonized about it, visited my now-home several times & decided I could fix it up, decided I could paint the brown paneling & re-tile the kitchen, decided I could make a home. And in the end, it was the right decision - I moved on Labor Day weekend, and my father had surgery 2 days later. I was nearby for his final 2 years. The Universe moves in ways we don't understand, and it made sure I was here when I needed to be.

I'm feeling the tug to go, but I feel that tug at least once a year, and I can't tell that this tug is any different than the previous ones. Possibly. Possibly things just feel overwhelming, and maybe I just want to run away. It's a terrific neighborhood - there are many, many reasons to stay. And for now I will.

I will be here now.
I will always be here now.