Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bi-Polar Mermaids

When I was single, 20 and more years ago, I used to wonder what married couples talked about after 20-30 years of being together.  Or families after 30 years of knowing each other.  After you know each other so well that you talk without words and silence isn't uncomfortable.   

How was your day?  Good.  And yours?  Good.  

Nothing is bad and there isn't any crisis or catastrophe, but the truth is that there are just times of nothing exciting, nothing amazing, nothing but the practical aspects of living. It's a comfortable affection without continuous sizzle.  


Stagnating isn't the same as waiting.  A slough isn't a lake or pond no matter how much you want it to be.  

How did Pilgrim progress out of the Slough of Despondency?  I can help other people do it,  but can't help myself.  I need to read it again-but could it be that he took a step, then another one?

I was reading an ad for a spa somewhere in the sunshine and it said it had a unique natural mineral hot springs that was lithium rich!  Maybe I could sneak over the fence and steal a free lithium soak?  

That sounds like a daring adventure to get the adrenalin going, an extreme sport, a rush to cure a possibly bi-polar mermaid.  Manic is way more fun!   :)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Vision

This stage or chapter in life is strange and unfamiliar.   Years of being a home school mom and the resource person for all the interesting things the kids wanted to try and discover, along with the things Craig and I wanted them to get a taste of  and see through to the end; these days are over! 

The girls are 19 and soon to be 18, have independent lives and are searching and exploring their own adventures.  

The house isn't full any more with hungry teenagers and their friends coming and going, no more breakfasts for 30, no sing-a-longs that made the windows bulge and vibrate, no couches caving in from the compounded weight of too many bodies.  

The days of cooking for hundreds, making bread dough to fill a 5 gallon bucket is past.  Sit down dinners for 22 and gingerbread houses for the same are just pictures in my albums. Fire pit gatherings with Craig's best gourmet hotdogs and high tea for 35 are over.   Old fashioned taffy pulls and other messy things like homemade caramel apple parties.  Sand castle building contests and trips to the zoo.  Picnics at the park or the beach with any kids that wanted to come.....emptying shoes and the car of sand unbegrudgingly. 

Someone told me once that when women can finally afford the professional big kitchen-aid mixer, they don't even need it any more.  When all we've worked hard to create to accommodate big crowds and serve lots of fun and food and fellowship is finally finished, there's only an echo and memories.  

Don't wait to have friends over until you have perfect furniture, expensive food, and a house with room.  Do it now with what you hold in your hands.  A postage stamp yard or a hallway kitchen.   Most of our best memories include people, music, games and easy, cheap things to fuel the fun like; popcorn and cider, toasted cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, potato soup with cornbread, roasted marshmallows and  cocoa, a cup of tea or coffee, iced tea with simple sandwiches, lit candles.   Cheap, fun, personal, intimate, cozy, simple, cluttered, imperfect and crowded is what you will remember best, and only the good parts....hopefully, so will they.

When will the page turn to the next chapter?  What will it be like?  I wish I knew what to be enthused for.....what to look forward to.  It seems like a blank page, but maybe I just need new glasses to see it.  Surgery?  Or maybe completely new vision.....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How Beautiful

This old book by Brenda Euland jumped off the shelf in an old bookshop into my ready-for-it arms.  Why didn't I find it earlier?  10 years ago?   Why didn't it find me 15 years ago?  I just wasn't ready yet and wouldn't have understood most of it.  Life and experiences hadn't left tracks yet..... that could find corresponding grooves.  
My heart felt like her heart felt about Blake, Van Gogh and a few other 'greats' who did what they did because they couldn't help but create.  They were compelled.  

Of Van Gogh she says, ".... in his letters you can see what his creative impulse was.  It was just this:  He wanted to show human beings how beautiful the sky was.  So he painted it for them. And that was all there was to it."  

She goes on to explain that "she finally understood from his letters what art and the creative impulse was.  It is a feeling of love and passionate enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way, you try to show this beauty in things to others, by drawing it."

She says that in his letter he says something like this.  "It is so beautiful I must show you how it looks!" 

"Van Gogh, a great genius, was simply loving what he saw and then wanting to share it with others, not for the purpose of showing off, but out of generosity......Painters understand nature and love her and teach us to see her."  

I copy and pasted the lyrics to U2's new album "No Line On The Horizon" into a word document, then ate every single track while reading the lyrics.  (This is sort of gourmet musical dining for me and my favorite way to experience new music.  Total immersion.  No sprinkling for me.....)  The lyrics blew me away with their naked truth standing straight, tall and unembarrassed.  Art.  Poetry. Poetry that met me.  Words that let me...... let me into someone else's heart, spirit, mind, thoughts and feelings until I felt like I recognized something familiar.....   So many times a new album or a new group someone else exposes me to has this same effect.  Or a new author, a must read......same thing!  

Standing in the National Gallery in London that same feeling blew over me and I stood quietly with tears dripping, wanting to lick those amazing colors right off the canvas, touch them or crawl inside the frame.  Most of the pictures I stood in front of longest weren't the most famous, they were the ones that met me and let me in....... invited because the creator had to have been enthusiastic creating it, which makes the painting, the song...... poetry.  

Scripture, especially the Psalms are like this for me.  Sometimes we can't help but want to share the intimacy of soul we have with our Maker....... 'He's so beautiful and wonderful, let me introduce you, show you, paint a picture, sing of him so you can know Him and be known.'  

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Flying Solo?

After my last published post just a little bit ago, I picked up a book by Brenda Euland about art, creativity, writing and living big.   What she said was really funny and so pertinent to what I had just posted.   

Laughing at yourself is also good... along with squirming.   

She says, "All this is why you cannot write a long, long book, four -fifths full of your own psychological writhings, your own entrails all pinned out on the surgical table.  Who cares?  Besides, every reader knows at once that you are a snob and an egotist and do not care about anyone but yourself.  So the reader flags and thinks with a feeling of exhaustion; 'Why read more? He isn't going to tell me anything.  He is talking to himself.'  

So with that said, I have now coined some new words ~ google them for originality....

Masturblogging.          Bloggerbating.          Bloggerbation. 

Flying solo in cyberspace.......  

Please laugh with me when you're done being exhausted!    :)   

No Need For Paper Towels

It's been over a year now since my deep sadness happened.  A dark thick line that marks a before and after.  One more hurting blog, blah, blah, blogging like a broken old record.  But oh, this broken record thing.......I am unprepared for when the needle hits the gouge and bounces back to repeat, again and again.    How to exchange the scratched LP record to a pure MP3?  Any ideas?   Download it, export it, import it, trash it, delete it, put it on my external harddrive?  iTunes?  iPod?   :)  

I wish the acting 'king' in my life at the time would have been able to search out the truth, been my advocate, disciplined the wrong done and helped me. Brought out the first aid kit.  I wanted it so much.  For some reason unknown he couldn't.  Didn't.  Wouldn't.  He chose sides and it wasn't me.  He endorses, supports, respects and gives away position and authority to someone who acted unrighteously.   This is a strange thing.   Asking why is the wrong question........

A year has gone by I have learned some things for my head, some new ways to think. Cliches that are supposed to be comforting, help me see truth, help me move In some ways I have moved on, grown, seen myself, explored new attitudes and behaviors. Learned resilience that comes from the tempering process.  Good comes, God gets glory - this sounds great!     

My heart isn't matching what my head knows-on a consistent basis!  My heart doesn't understand.  It still hurts.   It's been a year!    I'm not over it, because something will pop up and remind me.  

People I am learning to love and respect endorse someone I can't.  How do I move ahead?  Live outside victim thinking?   I sincerely wish I knew.....
Maybe its percentages; today it's 90 % moving ahead, and a half step back, then tomorrow 3 steps forward with no step back and next week I'll have gone around the block!   

Only I have to clean up the vomit today.  Maybe next time I'll aim for the toilet and save myself the trouble....

I love cyberspace!   Blog vomit doesn't use up paper towels....or get anyone else messy but me and I'm running water for a bubble bath!    

Monday, February 23, 2009

Only One Slice

Craig's aunt Sophie started to put on a little weight as she aged.  This was a hard working norwegian immigrant farm gal, probably pure muscle most of her life.  She asked the doctor about it and he suggested she only have one slice of bread instead of two.  

Sophie repeated his advice and her dilemma to the rest of the family over the next few days, and ended the story with a wink at whoever was in on the conspiracy at that moment with, "Yes, I'm only having one slice now, but I'll be sure to cut it tick"   

They didn't say 'th' so grandma Pearl would often say, "what on eart" and 1 & 2 'Corintians' etc.  

Right now, a big tick slice (the crust)  of warm homemade bread with butter slathered to the edge and some half frozen strawberry freezer jam covering it like a blanket, well ...... the little thing under my tongue is making extra juices in anticipation of digesting such a party in my mouth.  

Or graham crackers and milk with peanut butter.  Now I'm drooling.....  I could write a book about my love affair with peanut butter-on anything!  

Thankfully I can write about it and imagine it without acting on it.  Neither of those lovable foods are in the house.  

And I'm not pregnant, with justifiable cravings that used to persuade Craig into 'middle -of -the night- trips- to- the- store'  chores.  He's happily asleep, while I'm dreamin' awake of just one slice.....

May I say it?  Carbs make me really, really, really happy!     :)    I have a friend who is a professional marathoner who can't wait to run her daily 6 miles.  She says running makes her really, really happy.   

Hmmmm......ponder this with me, we both get high from a hit of our favorite drug.....only hers stays, lasts and gives her energy.  

I don't want to talk about it....    :)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Some Dogs Do

Maggie shared my picnic lunch Saturday at the river.  She got the almonds, I ate the walnuts, cashews and peanuts.  She got a thin sliver of string cheese, and the core of my apple which had a generous amount of flesh left on.   As she was chewing on it, the slurping sounds were juicy, moist and messy.  When she was done, she cleaned herself up like a cat - she could have been embarrassed at the mess, or being a dog eating a picnic?

As she was eating it I had a childhood flashback of giving our horses leftover watermelon rinds. It was one chore which was never boring.  Horses have a slobber faucet that gets turned full on when they eat these.   There isn't any other way as the juice mixes with their saliva-it can't be contained!   Sometimes the wind would catch it halfway to the ground, stretching and thinning it into a flying drizzle that you hoped wouldn't swing and stick on your skin or clothes.  I was fascinated watching them work it till they swallowed.  Up so close, noticing every hot breath, long eyelashes blinking slowly, jaw muscle slipping and how the soft inside of their lips was different than the outside.   Silently I tried to persuade them to lick their lips or tighten their lips or tilt their head, but nothing helped staunch the flow.  They would nibble another piece into their mouth before the first one was finished all the way.   Their velvety, muscled lips could grab exactly and precisely.  

Sometimes we would cut an apple up and lay it flat on our open hand to let them take it.   Their strong lips tickled the sensitive part of my palm.  I liked it, the sensation.  Watching them up so close never became boring.  My favorite body part on a horse is it's chin.  Like a half apricot, warm, ripe and velvet soft.  Cupping a horse's chin is one of those unforgettable pleasures.... 

Wonder if that is why little kids want to pet my soft, saggy triple chin?  Maybe it's that soft?
The next one that does it is gonna get slapped....   

I want to be irresistible, but petting the flapping elephant ear under my arm or my chins is simply not an option till dementia sets in and I won't know about it, or remember....  

Friday, February 20, 2009

River of Life

Exercise is good, we all know that.  Walking around our neighborhood is easy.  Walking around the airport trail is convenient.  It is about 5 1/2 miles total or it can be cut in half down the middle.  It is partly through the woods, has a little traffic and a few trails that wind through the trees with ferns, flowers and that loamy thick pine needle carpet to walk on.....

Centennial trailhead is also close by for walks, and it is great for bike riding.  Again, there are other people enjoying it's natural beauty winding through the woods, off road.  

Even though I am so thankful for these places which are so close by, the short drive to the river is where I long to be where my eyes feast, my soul rests, my imagination flies, my heart restores and every wrinkle in my mind gets ironed out.  My body hums, purrs, glows after being there in a state which looks entirely idle.  It isn't though.  It's incubator time.  Cocoon time. Inside happenings not visible on the outside.  Comfortable and at ease with the slow solitude which has a scent, an essence of sweetness...... which I hope clings to me as I return to real life.

Exercise isn't even the point; being outside, enjoying the wonderfulness is the point.  Absorbing it and letting it permeate every pore is the point.  Soaking it in till I drip.  

Maybe tomorrow it will be Maggie and me and the river.......... 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

No Thank You Please

There are things in life that I won't succumb to, ever.  It makes me seem selfish at times, yet in order to have time for the people and activities I love, these must be deleted.  Saying 'no' takes muscle.    If I did them out of obligation, it would take up so much time and rob my days, take away from being on purpose.  I intend to live on purpose...... so these things are absent:

Home parties where even though you don't have to buy anything, you feel strange if you don't. Then afterwards you get hit up to have your own party with your circle of 'friends'.   

Chain mail, pass it on, forwards in your slow mail with a stamp or e-mail.  No thank you please. 

Television.  Being forced to watch advertising and have a great piece of artistry fragmented and chopped up into bits makes me itch.   Putting a movie in, on purpose, choosing it then immersing yourself in it.......YES!   

Radio most of the time feels the same, noise and confusion and mindless chatter...... love my ipod!   Greatest gift of all time!  

There are other things that I'm simply not comfortable with, so release myself from the bondage of making myself do it.  Even if everyone else is doing it and likes it... 

Freedom to do and freedom not to do..... I no longer say yes, just because I'm to afraid to say no.  When I say yes, it is sincere.  When I say no, it is also sincere.  It has only taken 49 years! 

Freedom like this frees me from resentment, duty, ulcers, anxiety and panic.  

Freedom gives me abundant generosity, wide 'margins' on the top, bottom and sides of my life for serendipity and lagniappe....

Freedom makes it possible to bring out the first aid kit for triage when someone is in dire straights.  

Freedom puts hours on the clock, adding minutes to an hour, hours to a day, days to a week, weeks to a month and months to a year.   

Wow, I really really like living like this!    This is the sweet life!   Just swinging in the hammock of life...............

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stilly Sunshine

After my second cup of coffee this morning, Maggie looked at me, looked out the window then kept going to the door as if to say, 'it is gloriously sunny, why aren't we at the river already'?   I couldn't resist, even though there were a few chores I could have done.  The girls shoved me out the door, encouraging me. 

No regrets, it was amazing!   I meant to stay for only an hour, but 4 hours later.........
Rich conversation, tranquil setting, the grass all sparkling, and sky bluer than blue. The rocks looked varnished and polished through the opaque, mossy green water.  Being. 

It was warm enough to take off my jacket and sweater!   My cheeks and shoulders actually felt warm and sunkissed.  Wow!   

There was a chain saw purring - someone cutting down a few trees; reminded me of watching my dad cutting firewood.  Just as the tree crashed down, before it hit I used to yell, "TIMBER" in my biggest voice.   

Honeymoonin' with my Maker......... 

Funerals for numbers

A new phone is a terrible learning curve for me as is changing e-mail.  We are going to comcast, so went to gmail.   As I am changing over, there is a sadness that some of the numbers and e-mail addresses aren't getting updated, changed over.   Phone numbers and addresses that were a vital link to a vibrant friendship at one time.  A friendship which is dead, or maybe only was vital to me.  Makes me so sad because I don't know what happened.  What was misunderstood? Why can't it be repaired?  What was the hurt?   Why couldn't we talk and process?  Why couldn't we work it out?  

Do it wrong, then learn how to do it better.  What to do by learning what not to do.  Try again. 
Being resilient in life & friendships; loving is a big assignment. 

I have no answer, just a feeling like I've been to a funeral and the one in the casket is gone.  Missed.  Now and forever.  Grief is real.   But there are new numbers and addresses that weren't there 6 months ago.  That is sweet too.    

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lamenting Paradoxes

Living between the tension of loving all the ones who showed up, and missing those who weren't there.  The gladness of making new friends and the sadness of estranged relationships that you have no way to restore.  The reason we live in paradise is because of all the rain that makes it green, yet we crave the sunshine.  Thankfulness for the intimacy and love in our home and heartbroken  for those without it.  Loving the house full, then enjoying empty quiet solitude. Grateful for the dog, hateful about the hair she loses everywhere.  The kitchen is clean, our bedroom a mess.  Taking action steps in one direction while waiting and being still in another. Building a bridge here, burning the ship there.  Trying to figure out when to fight, when to run, when to give up, how to trust.  Where to give and when to hold back.  When to initiate and how to respond.  When to speak, when to stay silent.   

Yes, this sounds like a lamentation.  It is.  They say that in a photo it is hard to distinguish between someone who is crying over someone who is laughing.   They look similar.   

Bravehearted Girls

Last night there was a gathering of women, for a Valentine's party.  Each one came with a story, a backpack full of pain, a bottle of tears, a smile to melt anyone's heart and enough courage to take back their lives and live as daughter's of the king.  On purpose.  Captivating.  Spicey. Juicy.  Enthused.  Loving.  Intent on encouraging each other.  Beautiful women...

I kept thinking, William Wallace isn't the only person on earth with the nickname Braveheart.   These women might as well have a sign on their foreheads or a tattoo with "Braveheart" embedded.  Or a custom license plate engraved with "Braveheart".  

They didn't bring any self pity, self absorbed entitlement or bitterness, in spite of being widowed, abandoned, rejected or just alone/single.  The common thread was that they all had taken responsibility for what was theirs, some were in recovery, most had heard from heaven recently and all of them expressed gratefulness and thankfulness for something in their lives. They were moving ahead, spinning out now and again, but not permanently stuck.  

It was a blessed experience to be breathing in and out with them, sharing the hope filled air,   and chatter that didn't need prompted with any manufactured 'ice-breakers'.   

Sometimes a first aid kit isn't white with a redcross symbol on it with gauze, medicine, needle, etc., inside when you open the latch.  

Most the time it is simply a hug, an offered prayer,  a proffered kleenex, a hand to hold, someone to listen and really look into each other's eyes.  Good coffee, cocoa or tea.  A good laugh.  Fun food.  And chocolate.  

We can all, everyone of us, tote this kind of first aid kit along to unlatch anytime, anywhere, to anyone who might need it.  

 Let's!   :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nix On It...

Being transparent about our marriage is a little bit exposing.  Oh well.  Maybe it will suspend some beliefs of other couples and help other people hear about a different way of romance.  

As Valentine's Day comes around, Craig and I do what we call a temperature check with the love thermometer, to make sure what has always been, is still working for us. 

We are strange in our culture.  This is one of the few years he is getting a homely homemade card from me, just because I am in the mood to make one.   We typically don't cave into the pressure that is exerted by ads, Hallmark, the media to give each other extravagant gifts, or getaways on Valentine's Day or our anniversary, or go out to fancy meals on those days. 

It just hasn't been our custom.   We both like real.   The expectations of  'THE DAY' can be a burden.  When 'THEY' dictate how it has to be, in order for it to qualify as 'romantic' it can be so disappointing and leave you both flat.  Once in a while we spontaneously will go out to dinner on our anniversary, but it is serendipitous.  

But on the other hand,  are we romantic?  Absolutely YES!    It fits us though, and probably wouldn't fit anyone else....custom made.    I think so many men think they have to dream up some huge lavish weekend with all the bells and whistle's, then outdo themselves the next time to one up it.   For me, it isn't true.   Guess I'm a cheap easy date, because I love how Craig serves it pressure to perform for either of us.

Craig is the most romantic man in the world because he studies me, my needs, wants and desires.   It fits me to a tee, the sweet things he does, and most the time it is something extremely simple:  

An invite to go for a drive, meandering along the backroads.... 
A coffee date-the man knows exactly how I like my coffee..... 
Every once in a great while he buys me a Safeway bouquet without breaking the bank account.
Sometimes he runs my tubbath.... 
He offers to put lotion on my feet.... 
One of the tenderest things he does is to wash my hair for me in the shower...
An e-mail love note waiting for me when I and my laptop wake up......
When he looks at me like he would pick me all over again if he could do it over again...
When he wants to cuddle with me until I'm satiated, and renewed..... 
If he tucks my hair behind my ear........
Singing old love songs and asking me to dance......

Now for the most-est best-est wonderfulness:  

When Craig finds water for me to splash in, he pretty much has me body, heart and soul, even if he doesn't get in with me.   During the summer, after working hard in the yard he will see this look on my  face and will somehow know that I need water.  He'll air up my float and take me up to the Jordan Bridge, drop me off with a sweet kiss and wave me off, then pick me up in 2 hours at River Meadows.  He lets me hug him dripping wet and kisses the smile he put there. 
That is romance to me.     

I'm so thankful that he takes the risk to give me these simple things that rock my world, melt my heart,  and go against everything in our world that pushes for "diamonds".  

Thank you my love for truly knowing how, learning how, practicing all the time.....the skill of being romantical!   I hope you feel this sense of being loved and respected from me, although I know I'm not as good at it as you.   Happy Valentine's Day, our way..........     :)

Dry Storm

Sleep is eluding me this night.  Thoughts are tumbling, thrashing around and rumbling.  In North Dakota, there is something called a dry storm, all the outer signs of a good storm, but no rain.  This feels like a dry storm....... 

In Washington, we can't imagine wanting more rain, but for farmers who depend on the rain for crops to grow, it is needed, wanted and desperately missed when absent.   It has to rain for the seed to sprout.  Those tiny tender blades need rain so as not to shrivel up.  In order for the plant to set good fruit or come to a head the right amount of rain needs to be absorbed.   

Texas has these big pregnant drops that fall in slow motion, then splat like they are animated, breaking into a million baby droplets.  

Florida rain comes down in sheets, sideways sometimes, wet and warm.  

Arkansas has the kind of rain begging for you to dance in it, naked.  Feels like a silkie blanket caressingly draped over you.  I know this to be true.  The night asked for it and waited till I said yes.  

Yesterday at the river, the sun shone and sparkled with a glad face, smiling on me.  With the sun and the rain mixed like this, growth happens.   Maybe it's not a dry storm after all......   tears are rain too.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Homemade Love

Being creative fills me up, lightens my thoughts, lets my hands rove while my mind explores the nooks and crannies.  Making time to be 'artistical' is like spreading honey-butter on life; it soaks into the holes and drips everywhere,  in a sticky good way.  

I made very simple, homemade looking Valentine's today.   It was so much fun and done the old fashioned way with scissors, paper, glue and one good pen. 

Craft stores have hundreds of items for scrap bookers that would have made them more professional and trendy.  They would have come out pretty.  But the sort of plain homely ones I sent out were made with lots and lots of love; the time spent was rich and so rewarding. 

Maybe there will still be an essence of my love still lingering on them when they are opened?  

I have 3 more to make.  Special ones for Craig and Tess and Brita.  I write about Craig all the now for the girls....

The girls have crossed over from being my daughters to becoming my best friends.  Peers.  It is unbelievable how frequently I ask them for counsel, their opinion, or their perspective.  We like being together so much and the understanding we have with and for each other is becoming a huge gift for me. Oh, they make me laugh!   And the moves, the food, the coffee, the music, the fun they make.....!    
I'm so grateful that they still pile into bed with me 
and bug me
and interrupt me, 
bang around wrestling upstairs,
help get the house and me put back together again. 

Their kisses and hugs are the best thing ever. Every love note they have written is still tucked safely in a drawer, some of them almost broken at the crease from being read over and over again.  

I want them and really, really like them, my three best beloveds.......

I Want My Mom

At almost 49, sometimes I still want my mom.   Today is one of those days.  To just crawl into her lap and have her stroke my hair and tell me that everything will be OK.  

But today instead, I get to be a big girl, do what I need to do, be there for my family, figure out what to make for dinner, do some errands, pay the bills, go to the post office and have coffee with my friend.   

Today, I will remember and be thankful, grateful for all the blessings in my life.   For a husband who tenderly cherishes me, cares for us girls in hundreds of ways, has a stable job and can't wait to come home at night.  

Daughters who make coffee and bring me a cup, and refill it even.  :)   

And dear sweet Maggie, a mutt dog who smiles with the corners of her mouth turned up and a sparkle in her eye.   

Thank you Lord.............for this snowy, cold wet day on the outside, but the warm fire on the inside.   

Saturday, February 7, 2009

This Is Also True

Next week, I get to have three days with girlfriends.  We have known each other for 28 years.  One is from Olympia, one from Arkansas, one from California.  We know each other's husband's and children well.  We had some years when we didn't get together as a foursome, but always have seen each other two at a time or one on one.   About 5 years ago, we decided it was important that we plan and set aside time to be on purpose to make it happen.  We are from all different walks of life - in every way.  One of us is a marathoner, one runs a ranch, one operates a mini storage, some of us have lots of money, some not so much.    One of us home schooled, some are into higher education, some are travelers, some travel light,  some are perfectionists, one is a messy, some are artistic, some are reserved, some out there, some are into natural health and on it goes.  One is a Mary, the other's are Martha's.  We're all still married to our original spouses.  All have been faithful.  We have been involved, creative mother's investing in our children and committed to home being a safe place.  The way we each did this was completely different, but the results are the same;  our kids have become our friends in the truest sense of the word.   All of are successful in different ways.  We all read and love to grow and become, change.  We have all had times of complete breakdowns, times of excruciating sadness, betrayal, depression and dark winter of the soul; then we got up, brushed ourselves off and skipped, danced and twirled once again, maybe limping, but moving ahead.

Somehow when we're together how we're different isn't important.  What becomes apparent is the long history of love we have.  The unconditional support and encouragement we give each other.  Sometimes too, a swift kick, or a match lit, or a cup of courage or wake up call.......

I value these times and look forward to it, anticipate it with butterflies.   This year we are meeting at a little cottage in West Seattle on the water by the Vashon Ferry dock.   I know where to take them for the best coffee in the world and a wonderful meal on the island.   

Being girls, we talk till our jaws ache, laugh until our stomachs feel like we've been doing crunches, and cry till the tears run sweet and pure again.  We get rid of the hot and bitter bile that maybe collected unknowingly.  We remember how much fun it is to play and laugh till we ache.  We say all the things that need said, outloud, listen, try to understand, hear, and empathize but most of  all we remind each other of the good parts, frame it, capture it and hold it up like a mirror, so we can see and recognize there's La Dolce Vita also......When we say, "Don't forget that this is also true, girlfriend".     

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pickles and Log Jams

Being the receptionist at a stock brokerage firm for 4 years had it's hilarious moments for me as a young adult.  The front desk was the place I wanted to be, no matter how hard my manager wanted me to 'move up'.  Being cooped up in an ugly sterile cubicle was misery for me.  So I would end up a day or two later back out in the middle of all the action, just a receptionist, but it fit me. 

One time the big daddy big wigs came from the home office.  As they came in the door I swung around in my wheeled chair to greet them just as my chair flipped a wheely and dumped me unceremoniously on the floor.  When I could get my skirt back where it was supposed to be I looked up to see all four of them in their custom made suits leaning over the counter trying to see where I had disappeared.  They saw me, then they didn't.  Sometimes you have to act like what just happened didn't happen.  Ignore it and smile.  

On a terribly hot Santa Cruz day a stranger came galloping up from the basement garage and breathlessly asked if we had a coke machine.  This was before online stock trading on your laptop.   If you wanted to know minute by minute stock prices, you had to sit at your brokerage and watch the ticker tape equivalent on your broker's computer.  This poor stranger was asking for a quote machine, only I didn't understand him, so sent back him down again to the basement where the coke machine was.   He returned sweatier than before and again asked for the 'coke/quote' machine.  Exasperated, I told him I would show him and took him down and introduced him to the coke machine downstairs in plain sight.  He looked at me as if I was from Mars and said, "I asked for a QUOTE MACHINE, damn it".   I humbly put him through to my least favorite broker...... 

Being a country girl, I was out of my league, knew it, but loved every minute of 
this different life I was exposed to.  It was kind of like a large RICH family, even the clients. Wes was a morning regular.  He was one of the original long board surfers in Santa Cruz.  His skin was permanently tan and his eyebrows legendary.  Wes brought me avocados off his tree, and told me stories which I never tired of hearing of the local history and his interesting life. 

Santa Cruz had a sub culture of both Italian and Greek; being exposed to ethnic food, wine, religion and thinking was really fun through the brokers and clients, so different than my own family and simple modest lifestyle.   

Here's a confession.  I dearly love men and working with a high man to women ratio was intriguing.  The brokers were married, stable, and treated me with dignity and honor, spoiled me rotten, humored me, and were extremely safe.  What I mean is that they were so generous with me, helped me, made me part of their families, trusted me with their kids, invited me to BBQ's, gave me flowers all the time and frequently took me to lunch and coffee, without any weird sexual undercurrents or exploitation of my feminine heart, never taking advantage of or using their position to get anything. Looking back, I really appreciate those guys, sort of laying groundwork for me to know how I could be treated.   If it ever was a dangerous situation, I was completely unaware or oblivious.  They were my surrogate uncles, dads, brothers and cousins, helping me to grow up safely. Friends.  

They all drove high end luxury cars, I drove a beat up OLD Honda that needed parked on a hill in the morning just in case it needed to roll as I hopped in and popped the clutch to start it at night.  This an important detail to the next part.  Oh, it was mud ugly also, chipped, mismatched paint and temperamental.   No one else could or would have driven it.   Great gas mileage.......   

Christmas was splurge time.   If the brokers had a good year, I had a good year.  One year it must have been good, as the top 5 brokers each gave me gift certificates to some really fancy local eating establishments. $75-100 ones.   It was so fun to take a friend and share the luxurious bounty.  A treat for both, as we would have thought a $12 dollar meal was special and spendy.  One of them was a $100 for Chaminade Whitney, the most exclusive 
restaurant in the area, high up on the bluff overlooking the town and a fabulous view of the ocean.  Fancy.  Elegant.    

My friend Susan and her husband had been so generous with me over the years, so when she came to visit from Washington for a week, I thought taking her and my grandma out for a nice dinner would be a small token of showing gratitude to both of them.   I didn't own a credit card, and my wallet had nothing in it except the gift certificate, which I knew or thought I knew would cover the bill/tip with maybe some left over.   $100?  Sure thing.  I had NO IDEA!     :) 

The first grueling thing was figuring out how NOT to let the valet park my beater bomb of a car, and yet at the same time, get grandma, who couldn't walk far, to the door, without letting anyone see what we came in.   This was a challenge with no cover of darkness yet.  Going home would be better, and believe me the darkness then was not dark enough for what happened.  

All three of us had dressed up as nice as we could, were seated at a window seat and treated royally by the waiter.  It was pure bliss.  The meals totalled to about a third of what the certificate was, so I thought we were doing grand, even with a tip.   The waiter asked if we wanted dessert.  We all excepted, with coffee, thinking it was included.   To this day, I have never had macadamia nut chocolate drizzled cream brulee to equal the pure love on my tongue that night.  It was exquisite, and the coffee more amazing than anything in my experience.   We were all in an idyllic trance, complete until the waiter handed me the check.  It was about $25 dollars over the certificate.  Ever been in such a pickle?  This was a queen sized log jam!   What to do?   How could I know that the coffee was $8 dollars a piece and the delicate desserts were $12 a piece or whatever they were?   Totally naive about the harsh realities of fine dining!

With red spreading down my cheeks clear to my belly button, I humbly, shamefully and tearfully asked Sue if she had any money to help.  It wouldn't be a free meal of gratitude after all.  She graciously came through and has never mentioned it except to ask me once in a while if I've ever tasted anything quite like that macadamia nut, chocolate drizzled creme brulee, or mischievously asks me if I have valet parked lately.   

We left to go back into obscurity under the cover of darkness, but for a short, short while that night, I felt like a bountiful princess. 

Doing Fear

Twenty invitations went out yesterday for a party.  Nothing every changes......because after all these years, as I put them into the mail box, I got this familiar sense of;  those are really dumb, no one will come, why do you think any one would want to come, what if it doesn't turn out, blah, blah, blah.  Don't do it......

Craig and I love to have people over for food, fellowship and fun, but over the years this has been part of the reality; I'm also terrified every time and wonder why I'm doing it.  Usually Craig has to inject me with courage, because I'm convinced no one will come, even though we have years and years of proof that people do come.   I'm so glad I push through the lies and don't believe them, because we really truly enjoy it-a lot!  That's the real truth!   

A person who is a great speaker and has great presence, mentioned the other day that they get anxious and so nervous before they get up in front.   I was surprised, you would never know.   They seem so comfortable and connect well.   They  have learned to push through the lies.   

A young wife having their first 'company' over for dinner, told me how scared she was, and how she wanted to cancel it.  I was able to tell her my fears and how I usually felt.   She was so relieved, and waded through the fear to the other side.  They had so much fun.    

It is so easy to feel the fear and let it keep us from doing 'that thing', whatever it is.   The thing is though, feel the fear and do it any ways.  Eleanor Roosevelt quipped, "Do one thing every day that scares you".   Love it!     

Here's my quote:  Yeah I'm scared-oh well, so what?       

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Dorothy looked like a tropical butterfly, her dark skin  setting off her decked out red hat and purple pant suit.  You couldn't help notice her.  She was waiting by the bus stop on northbound side as I was heading south to the post office.   In the rear view mirror, I noticed her leaving the bus stop-maybe walking to the next one.  Finishing my post office chores, I started home.  She hadn't yet made it to the next stop, but the bus had and was leaving without her being on it.  In my rear view mirror her body language looked a bit discouraged and her shoulders sagged.   My heart went out to her, so I pulled over, got out and walked towards her.   Asked if she had missed the bus and if I could give her a lift.  She gladly accepted!   She lived in the senior apartments about a mile up the road.  

She explained that she was part of the Foxy Ladies Red Hat society and they had just had a fun afternoon.   She was 75, beautiful, full of life and enthusiasm, had a gorgeous smile, trim figure and an unsinkable attitude.  Dorothy inspired me within 2 minutes!   

As she got out, I told her that when I was her age I wanted to be like her, still shaking that thing.  She got out of the car laughing, did a twirl, then proceeded to shake that thing all the way to her door.  I think she infused me.......

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chewing Preferred

Clicking on a new post page, with a clean, blank spot to type on makes me really happy.  My fingers walk happily over the keys, keeping up with the sentences oozing out in multiple long bubbles from the bubble wand ring.   Who is blowing on it?   You know how bubbles sort of quish out, get bigger and bigger, then release themselves one after the other?   The stretching they do before slowly being birthed is curious.  The iridescent colors wispy as they float off with the breeze.  The difference with written words is that when they land, they stay the same shape-don't pop into nothingness.  Permanent once they are published.  The mark words make aren't gooey, but possibly create a feeling, a thought, a memory.  Words land lightly, but penetrate deeply, letting us, the reader, come to our own conclusions and effect us personally.   

Someone asked me the other day if I would like to do a study with them, a book and workbook and video.  I declined the workbook.   Reading is extremely intimate.  Drawing from it exactly what you were thirsty and hungry for, what calms you, what inspires you, what makes you stretch, makes you laugh, what fits perfectly now at this particular moment in time, is the point.   Having something forced or pointed out cookie cutter fashion, can make you think of something you hadn't thought of, but at what cost.   It only feels suspiciously like drudgery, no matter how you cut it!  Now you know my dirty little secret~I HATE WORKBOOKS!  

Learning is enjoyable, like a cow chewing her cud.   Eat, swallow, burp it up, chew, swallow, burp it up, chew, swallow then it finally goes into the right stomach to be digested.  Natural rhythm. 

As I am learning how to share me, by writing, it is so tempting to explain what I mean, help you ......maybe moralize?   If I don't allow myself to indulge, it soon  becomes a delightful two way street; how do you see it differently, what is it saying to you, how did it jog your memory or how did the dots connect for you?  The questions unanswered are sort of becoming interesting to me instead of always so frustrating! 

A card or a book given as a gift to someone can create some strange reactions.  I have given books to people for many reason.  Sometimes, I simply think they will enjoy it.  Sometimes it is risky to give a book.  I have given inspiring leadership books away to people I admire and respect, thinking, you might not see yourself in this warm glow, but I see your abilities in this light.  They possibly could be offended, thinking they weren't measuring up and with this book as a hint, maybe could improve, when the truth is they are already enough already.   One time a gal came up to me and wondered why I had sent her this poignant card, was she not up to par, did she need improvement?   I felt so sad, because on the card I explicitly had said, this is you!   She couldn't receive it, just felt suspicious, instead of loved.    

Words are so many things.  Words go on and on.  Words can be taken hundreds of ways. Written words are fascinating.  'The Word was made flesh'..... now that's something to chew on for the next billion years!   

Like the scottish guy in Edinborough said when I asked him which way north was;  
"I don't know, I don't need to know, I'm not lost!"    
Sometimes, maybe I'm asking the wrong question? 
Hmmmm.... maybe I'm not lost. 
Instead, maybe I'm found, 
like a lost coin, 
a lost sheep,
a hidden treasure, 
a lost voice, 
a lost note,
a lost tune,
a lost story...........Oh I do like to be found! 
May the words find us.............

Monday, February 2, 2009

Grab a Chair

We live in Washington.  The state fair is in Puyallup.  My friend Jill, many times over the years has a standard quip for whiners who say, "That's NOT FAIR"!  She'll say, 'If you want fair, go to Puyallup.    We get a grip quickly, sheepishly.....   

But in this story, these guys weren't playing fair, really really!  And Jill's not here, so I'm tellin'.

A couple of years ago after a 2 week retreat all by myself, the same time as the' Winnie in the Window' story happened, the day before I left for home, decided to go out into society and picked Barnes and Noble.  Bad timing girlfriend!   

As per normal, I carried a huge big stack of books to a group of 3 chairs, sat in the end one, got comfortable and started slurping words.  When I'm in this zone, I'm living inside the book, wherever the author wants to take me.  Unaware of my surroundings.  Highly unaware.  It takes a lot to distract me or wrench me away.  

A handicapped 30ish something man sat down  in the middle chair of the 3, next to me.  He had 2 very large, thick reference type books, each open in his lap and I curiously looked up as he was turning the pages of both simultaneously but scanning all 4 pages before he did so.  There was a rhythm to it and audible noises of what could have been pleasure, grief, pain, awe, whatever. It was a little distracting as it got louder and louder. 

A young. immaculately dressed college aged boy sat down in the remaining chair after a bit. He started to look itchy right away, but if you know Barnes and Noble, you know that chairs are a premium and not to be given up lightly. He caught my eye a few times, probably thinking we were together, hoping I would calm this strange behavior.   Once those big books got to the end, he would start flipping them the other direction.   

Out of the corner of my eye I saw an older man signing to him and kind of lurking behind me. The moaning page turner stopped what he was doing, leaned over between him and the college kid and blew a mighty farmer blow, with tremendous results spewing all over the floor in between the 2 chairs.  If you don't know what a farmer blow is, it's when you hold one nostril shut and blow out the other one, when you're desperate for kleenex out in the field but have nothing handy.  It is purely a desperate measure, not to be used indoors or in society. Usually a very private thing! It's not pretty.  

The young man looked at me horror stricken and sprang out of his seat like it was on fire, and I think he even left the store.  I was in shock, paralyzed by the stack of books on the arms of the chair, on my lap and the pile on the floor, but not too paralyzed to start dry heaving and gagging.  I seriously thought I was going to have to just open my purse and use it for a barf bag.   

The older man who had signed to the moaning page turner, sat down in the emptied chair, casually crossed his legs, nodded to the moaning page turner to continue on, then smiled and winked at me, as if to say, now isn't this cozy.   

I stayed a little while longer, but totally lost my appetite for the written word or anything else. The moaning page turner got louder and faster and started looking lustfully, not at me, but my stack of books.  Takes a lot to make me nervous, but I finally left my hard-to-come-by chair and left the store.  Was it a conspiracy or happenstance.   Did the college kid recover? And I didn't have a chance to write down the titles of those lovely books.     

Sunday, February 1, 2009

"Sittin' on a Rainbow"

We were invited to a wedding reception dinner Saturday night.  The bride and groom were both friends of ours before they married each other.   They went to Maui for a very simple beach ceremony.  It was so beautiful.  If I ever get married again, that's what I want, barefoot on the water.  They were so pure, ready for love, expectant and hopeful.  Both older and wiser from past history.  

The pastor that married them was a singer, stage manager, friend, spiritual director, showman and a mastor at framing the  view, the poignant moments and encouraging lots and lots of yummy kissing.   As we watched the video, we all decided that never before has so much kissing happened at a wedding.  Maybe we need to move to Hawaii.   I really like to kiss.  
The lei ceremony was sweet, so inclusive;  loving and honoring each other and the couple standing with them-who introduced them.  It was magical.... a miracle.  

And Craig even asked me to dance a slow one.  I said yes, even though neither of us really know how to dance.  But we've been moving together for 20 years now, we do know how.  We just relaxed and let the music.....    

What made me a little sad for us, happy for them, was the spiritual quality of their day.  It was so much more than the civil ceremony we had and were accustomed to.  But, that's where we were-it was normal and common for us and our friends and family.  Their day invited supernatural power, help and hope for the future.....their Creator, the One who knew their name before the world was created, was a wanted guest.  The One who had caught every tear in a bottle knew this day was in store for them, and I believe He applauding.....smiling.....blessing!  

When I'm watching a wedding, I think they are my favorite.  When I'm at a believer's funeral, I think it's my favorite.  When I'm at a baptism, I think it's my favorite.  Maybe someday I will be at a live birth, other than my own or my children's and it will be my favorite?  What they all have in common is hope.  Like our theme song, John Prine's "In Spite Of Ourselves" says, 
'In spite of ourselves, we'll be sittin' on a rainbow'    :)