Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Glorious Day

To Mother Earth, God and Goddesses,

What an incredible day!

What a delicious sky!

What giant white puffy clouds and brilliant blue background!

What an awesome breeze filled with the scent of lilacs, lilies and apple blossoms!

Thank you for the Glorious Day.

It would be really swell if you could do it again tomorrow but, if you can't, I understand.

It would be really hard to duplicate such perfection.

Thank you for the dance!

Home Alone

A friend of mine was going to be home alone for a couple of days while his wife made a quick trip. He posted a list of possibilities for his time while exalting in alone-ness! (Notice, I did not use the sad word loneliness).

My husband and I were married almost 30 years ago. We've been together over 32 years.

His job would take him away from home occasionally for a week at a time. Now, I love my husband and I love being with him, but damn, I love being alone, too.

We both worked in high profile positions. We dealt with the public (good and bad) all day long, every day. We like people and we enjoyed our jobs but there were days when the energy could be sucked right out of you by good people in bad moods or in a hurry or who have lost their "nice" or left it at home.

The first couple of times Frank left for a conference or convention, one of his sisters would show up at the house each night he was gone. I can't tell you how many tubs full of hot water and bubbles up-to-here went cold and flat while I sat visiting in the living room. Or how many times a glass of wine, fluffed pillows and an open book called out to me from my bedroom. You won't believe how many bowls of shredded wheat (dinner) went soggy sitting on the counter in the kitchen while I sat in the family room being "kept company"!

Somewhere about Frank's fourth or fifth trip, on a Thursday evening (he was returning on Friday) I received a call from one of his sisters.

"Toni," she said, her voice full of guilt, "I am so sorry. Tonight is my turn to keep you company and I just can't make it, something has come up!"

"What?"  (That was me, sounding a little confused!) "What (still me) do you mean "its your turn" to keep me company?"

She explained that they had all thought I would be lonely on those nights while Frank was gone so they decided to take turns just dropping in to keep me company. You see, they love me and they didn't want me sitting alone, in the dark; depressed by the absence of their big brother!

After a good laugh, I put an end to all that nurturing support!

"What the hell!"(Me again). "Don't you all realize that I love being alone! I have paid my teenagers to go to a movie and have pizza afterwards just to have the house to myself! I love soaking in a tub of bubbles or bath salts for hours, reading, exfoliating, sipping a glass of Merlot! I love leaning into the pillows on my bed, reading for hours. Uninterrupted reading of a good book is second only to making love, simply orgasmic! Not having to speak to anyone for several hours and then having the whole bed and all the pillows to myself! Smothering my feet in vaseline and sleeping with his athletic socks on to soften my feet! Walking around the house with a hot oil treatment in my hair, plastic bags wrapped around my head and an oatmeal mask clinging and dripping from my face! Listening to my "chick" music or playing the piano and not worrying about mistakes. Passing gas freely without having to say, 'excuse me' and pretend to be embarrassed!"

Don't get me wrong. I love my husband. When he returns to the family abode, I am always happy to see him. I am rejuvenated! I have refilled my tank with go-juice! I greet him with open arms.

So, I put an end to Babysitting for Toni! My wonderful sisters-in-law will come over and float in the pool and talk sometimes when the old guy is gone but not because I don't want to be alone or can't be alone but because I really want to share time with them. There are also those times I relish the alone-ness.

Being alone with one's self is a good practice but being alone in your own home is paradise!

 My List
(for when I am home alone)

Refill My Tank!


Earth Day

Earth Day today. My Facebook wall is full of reminders to "take care of her" - "care for her, she cares for you" - Earth! She is our home!"

Do you ever wonder if we had referred to our planet in male terms; Father Earth, He, Him, His; if things would be different?

Would the living, breathing, pulsing Earth suffer less abuse if it hadn't been objectified over centuries of referring to it in the feminine gender?

Would she be held in esteem and protected, like the sanctity of gentlemen's clubs, golf courses and Freemasons?

Would Earth's resources be treated with honor and dignity if she was thought to pulse with a masculine aura?

Um, probably not! Bottom line is, well, bottom line!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Wake Up!

When the Nazis or Communists, or any other Fascist tyrant invades a land, the first thing they do is destroy or steal any spiritual or sacred icons the people hold dear.  Nazis and Communists first outlawed any objects, art or talk of Mary, the Blessed Mother of Jesus. Then they destroyed religious artifacts and outlawed all religious practices.

The Communists did, at times, allow someone to pray or observe a special day, but often took away a family member in payment. Sometimes they simply shot said-family-member, or members, where they stood.

Then they step up to divide and conquer. One night there will be a knock at the door. Soldiers step in and drag a dad or grandpa or daughter, or maybe all, away. The "nice" soldier stays behind a minute or two to warn the remaining household that they have a neighbor who reported them to the powers that be. A lie, of course, but what do you believe when a loved one has just been hauled away never to be seen again.

Translation: Trust No One!

Isolation sets in. Everyone is against everyone. Every one is busy wondering "was it you" or "do they think it was me?"

Communism accomplished that very thing. The people didn't know who to trust. "Trust us!" said the government.

"We will take all the money. We will give you jobs. We will provide you with food and housing. We will take care of you!"

It worked for close to 40 years. The people were poor, they had little food if any and housing was utilitarian at best. The money was kept by the upper echelon, who lived in beautiful estates, had uniformed drivers, traveled, ate caviar and their children attended the best schools. They wore shoes that fit, could see a physician when they were ill and pay for a dentist to treat a toothache.

The gap between the two classes grew wider and wider and wider. The group "being taken care of" would stand in line for hours for a loaf of bread or a roll of toilet paper to discover the allotment was gone by the time they reached the front of the line.

All the time, the same propaganda continued.  Don't talk to your neighbor or your brother; they have betrayed you. You are being watched. People still missing, shot or sent to Siberia for speaking up or for no other reason than to scare everyone else left at home. Pets shot, livestock killed or seized for the "higher good!" Be scared!

It took awhile but the people finally realized that no one was being taken care of except the power mongers and rich. The masses concluded that by showing up to work everyday, the only ones benefiting were the rich, so, slowly, people started to turn to each other, talk, trust again. One by one, people stopped showing up for work. Manufacturing ground to a halt. No product, no money.

Communism collapsed. TaDa!

In America it is harder to knock on the door and carry someone away. Not unheard of, but harder. We call it Tax Evasion or Child Molesting. America hates Tax Evaders, reminds us of the evil Al Capone and, of course, who doesn't hate Child Molesters.

We also know that if you are too loud you get hit by a truck or you commit suicide on a park bench but after you died you must have taken your gun to hell with you.

We do know about divide and conquer, though, and man oh man, are we good at it.

First we throw some deeply sensitive subjects out for bones. Abortion, Gay Marriage, Health Care.
Then we poke sticks in the wounds. Mix a little fear and anxiety in, or maybe a lot. Poke, poke, poke; a little salt, poke, poke.

We draw lines. We have approximately 240 million eligible voters in the U.S. A line can almost be drawn down the middle. 49% for this, 51% against that; next issue, 52% yea, 49% nay. On and On.

We don't agree, we ain't gonna listen, we ain't gonna discuss, we ain't neva' gonna agree....so there!

Then we dumb down the education system and throw some crap messages out in the media.

In the meantime, while we point fingers and fight and try to find the cheapest loaf of bread and cheapest toilet paper, and still lose our homes to foreclosure, guess what the government and power mongers are doing in the background?

Do you have a chaperone or do you take the bus?  Do you sell bogus mortgages or handle your corporation so poorly that the government bails your out with billions of dollars? Do you get special laws passed allowing corporation to be considered sentient beings with special tax loops while children go hungry and live on the street?

Are you too busy yelling at your neighbor to notice what is happening to our country?

Hey, as long as I am on this here soup box, can I just say, Why are we arguing about who's religion is right? Muslim, Christian, Navajo, Pagan, Hindus, Catholic (some Christians don't believe Catholics are Christians). My impression is that if you believe in God, then you should also believe that there is enough of God to go around!

p.s. If you don't hear from me for awhile....well....it was nice!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Road Games

You're driving down the road. You left the house with plenty of time to reach your destination as promised. A James Taylor CD is crooning soothing tunes. Your favorite ride-along beverage, coffee, soda, a nice refreshing bottle of water, is in the cup holder. Clothes are all your most comfortable you own...that you can be out in public while wearing.

Nothing but smooth sailing.

You look up in the rear-view mirror. Big white pickup truck is weaving in and out of traffic behind you at a speed at least 12 miles faster than the rest of the vehicles.

Do you think, "Frickin' Idiot" and speed up until you are even with the back of the trailer on a big rig and slow down to block the "Idiot"?  Does your jaw get tight while you are teaching this guy a lesson?

What if you're in a hurry and some guy cuts you off?


Do you like road games? Have you designated yourself to be the Master of Road Etiquette?

I know what you are thinking. I think the same things.

"Who gave him permission to risk our lives so he can get somewhere first?"

"This jerk is full of himself, I'll show him!"

Typically though, I just pull over.  I get out of the way. There is enough of humanity fighting with each other and, frankly, the sooner the inconsiderate, demon driver is past me, the sooner I can get back to Sweet Baby James.

I have ridden along with the "players" though. I've witnessed the "I'll-show-you" gut reaction of otherwise pretty civil people. That's usually when I wish I had a xanax and I say a little prayer, "Dear God, if the other driver pulls out a gun, please let it be fast and clean. Don't let me suffer!"

(Side Note: I really don't want to be wounded because I still haven't lost that extra weight and what if the paramedics can't get me up on the stretcher? HOW HUMILIATING!)

There is almost always at least one of those speed-weavers on the road. Yes, it is annoying. But, when you have him blocked behind you and the semi, have you ever thought that maybe the driver's wife is delivering their first child and he is trying to get to the hospital? Maybe he is headed to the same hospital because his dad is in an ambulance after suffering a major stroke and his last conversation with Dad didn't end well. Maybe the crazy-ass driver just got a call from his daughter, "Daddy, a car came out of nowhere and crashed into my car. I can't move. I need you!"

Do you want to be the one who keeps someone from any of a hundred reasons why they would be racing down the street or highway?

Granted, there are a bunch of jerks who just believe they are entitled to go faster and be in front and that the laws don't apply to them.

Do you want to make the judgement call; which one of the scenarios is the motivation best applies in this moment?

Deep breath! "Let Go, Let God!" is what I always whisper to myself. Less white knuckles on my part.

This week an older man was taking his wife home from the hospital. She had just been released after major open heart surgery. In his stressful state he accidentally cut off a guy.

The "cut-off guy" became enraged! How dare those old people cut him off. He took off in pursuit, which just meant that he got right on their bumper and begin to shout obscenities at them. The older woman talked to her husband. Be calm, she said. She rolled her window down to apologize to the other driver as he pulled up beside them and ask him to be calm.

The other drive threw a large coffee mug at the innocent woman, smashing her face causing profuse bleeding. The woman was on blood thinner to try to prevent blood clots after her surgery. The older man made an immediate u-turn to head back to hospital but before they reached the hospital his wife stopped breathing. Hospital staff started CPR on her recently cracked open chest, reviving her breathing and heart beat but she has been in a coma ever since.

There are finger prints on the mug; the model of the car and license number of the car are known. The offender will be tracked down soon but is that going to help the old couple. Will that save her life?

What happened to "Love this neighbor!"  Doesn't anybody remember how to "roll with the punches!"

 If you are going to make war on the road then drop the disguise! Put on tighty whities two sizes too small or a bra that makes it hard to breathe. Wear shoes that pinch and a pair of pants that creates a royal muffin top. And for heaven's sake, put on some Metallica or some crude Rap on the radio.

Was this a ramble or does it make sense?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spontaneous Sunset

A beautiful Sunday. We decided to hang around the house. No photography for us today, just catching up with yard work. We have totally neglected the yard for months. Frank mowed the lawn that was over a foot tall in the back; it's been too wet to mow! (that's our story and we're sticking to it!)

After chores, I laid in bed and read for awhile. Frank took a little nap and then headed outside to blow the driveway clean and fill up the green bin with trimmings. He even transplanted a couple of little lilac shoots.

Sometime around 6:30, while I contemplated whether to prepare pork chops or stir fry for dinner, Frank came bounding into the house after a walk with Rex. He and our dog must have run the last lap of their "walk"!  They were both panting and, at least one of them, was shaking his tail with great joy!

"Grab your camera, its going to be a great sunset!" We jump into the car with everything we needed, tripod, quick release, microfiber wipes, lenses. Surprisingly, we were much better equipped as we spontaneously headed out than we often are when it is a planned trip.

We headed to our favorite valley view spot about 25 minutes east of town. We had about ten minutes of just "observing" or "feeling" Nature, as our own nature dictates! (see prior post).

As the sun dropped behind Shasta Bolly and the coastal range the most incredible cloud formation was displayed in glorious shades of pink, orange and deeper orange. Hard to describe, so I will just show you.
 Doesn't it look as if a goddess ran her fingers through the clouds? Or maybe Zeus dropped a large object down from Mt. Olympus causing ripples in the sky!


The circles were even apparent around the sunset.  It hinted that the sun was actually causing  ripples as it sank into the night sky!  (Yes, there are some who have verbalized their concern regarding my overactive imagination.  They are living happily ever after in their own jars!)

No rings around Mt. Shasta. Maybe Lemurians are not fond of rings! At least we finally have snow on the mountain, though she did have to wait until March for her winter coat! Not sure if that was due to global warming or the state of the economy.

Sometimes, subtly is nice too. One can only handle so much drama!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Nature

Photographer and Filmmaker, Louie Scwartzberg, appeared on the OWN network's Super Soul Sunday show this morning. He is one of the first, if not the first, photographer to implement time lapse photography. Started it to save money because he couldn't afford a lot of the 35mm film back in the old days, so he filmed slower!

His photography and filmmaking is indescribably delicious. He seems to focus (get it) on nature, recording bees pollinating, butterflies wriggling out of cocoons, dancing flowers. Beautiful images.

Oprah asked him two questions that made my mind itch.

"How do you relate to nature?"
"How would you describe nature?"

Not surprising,  I don't recall his answers. I was too busy asking my husband the same questions?

I asked him what he thought nature was. "God's creation," was his instant answer. No surprise for any of you who know him...he's on the fast track to Sainthood!

How does he relate to nature? He is an intense observer! He sees it all but his area of expertise is things-of-the-sky.

My answer to what is nature? God's song! Yeah, I'm much more poetic than Mr. Sky Guy!

How do I relate? I feel nature. Frank disagrees. He thinks I relate to nature through him! In spite of his impressive intelligence and knowledge he leans to the cocky narcissistic side!

We did agree that he looks at the big picture and I "see" the details, the little stories in the big picture. He refused to accept the fact that I feel nature.  I am not an observer of nature but I am a participant in it.  He still refused that I could "feel" it.

So I made him make his own breakfast...How did nature and I feel about that?  Pretty dang-gum good!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Empty Nest

The Empty Nest by Donna O'Briant

There in a high branch of a proud old tree,
Lay a nest of babies which no one could see.
Beside the nest, stood Mother, with loving heart,
And Father looking on, guarding as from the start.
The babies were young and filled with delight,
The ways of the world were beyond their sight.
They were wanting to try their wings of gold,
And enter the new world, ever so bold.
Their parents were hesitant, all so knowing,
Their babies had not finished growing.
But knowing they needed that freedom,
Were willing to let the babies leave them.
The first little bird, so eager his wings, 
Thoughts of the new world losing his strings,
He jumped on the side of the nest so fast,
And flew into the air, was free at last.
The next little bird, so timid, so shy,
He wanted to go but not a goodbye,
He timidly went to the side of the nest,
And flew to the next branch, then passed his test.
The last little bird, the last of the three,
Looked round at her parents, then forward to see,
The new world was opened for her to reach,
By trying her wings, trying what they did teach.
The wind got under the wings of the last,
And she flew through the air, into the world so vast,
Leaving the only home that she had known,
To go into world, the breaking of dawn.

The parents looked on as all of the three,
Found love and happiness and family.
They were proud of the choices that were made,
But their love for their babies never did fade.
The empty nest will always be there,
But visited with love and care,
The empty nest will be a guiding light,
A home for hope and stars so bright.

Can't Get Them Back

Two days from now one of my granddaughters will be turning 13. That makes 3 of the girls that will be 13 all at the same time! I posted a picture of her playing her violin during a Christmas show this year and a picture when she was about 2 years old when she is just about to kiss a bunny rabbit.

Her mother posted this response: "I love this photo and it brings tears to my eyes - my sweet girl is growing into an amazing young woman. I'm a proud mama, but it sure is bittersweet knowing how fast it is going!"

Her comment didn't just bring tears to my eyes but tears that rolled down my cheeks. This granddaughter is a sweet girl and she is quickly growing into an amazing young woman.

I am also a proud mama, but unlike my daughter-in-law, I know how fast time passes. I know how quickly your precious little girl turns forty and has two children of her own. The awareness of what little time I seemed to share with my sons because it flew by and they became men, one expecting a grandchild of his own and one living hundreds of miles away with responsibilities that keep him absent from my daily living but never absent from my heart.

There is a quote out-there-somewhere that advises parents to "give our children roots and wings to fly."  

There are three adults in this world that I can say I did the very best i knew how to give them roots. We were a family-oriented family but there was so much more I could have done.  So many lost moments to instill in them how much they are loved, how much they belong, that no matter how far they travel my heart will always be a safe haven when they seek that bit of respite we all need now and then.

All three have beautiful wings. All three can fly, occasionally catching a thermal, rising and soaring. There are times when they lose the wind and drop out of the sky. They have hurts and bruises that can't be mended with a kiss and a Superman or Hello Kitty band aid. They always rise again, sometimes on their own, sometimes with the support of a loving spouse and at times with the help of prayer.

My oldest was born when I was 18 years old, my next baby came when I was 20 and by 21 all three were here with me.  A baby having a babies.  I didn't know I wouldn't have forever to tell them how much I loved them with everything in me. I didn't know how quick the days they would listen to me would fly by so quickly. More importantly, the times I should have been listening to them flew by even faster.

The most wonderful gift in the universe is being a mother. It is also the hardest challenge in the world. I don't mean "hard" in the sense of mid-night feedings, laundry, cooking, homework and getting them off to school on time. 

The hardest part of being a mother, the absolutely most difficult part for me, is trying to contain all this love I have for them in my heart. How does a women's heart not burst from the sheer immensity of joy and love and pride?  

John, Adam, Nicole. You make me believe in God because I know that I could not survive the overwhelming love I have for you three without God helping me carry it.

I want some of those childhood moments back. The moments when I ran past you to do some meaningless task instead of wrapping my arms around you. Those days when I got home from work and went crazy because some stupid chores might not have been done, those are the moments I should have cried out in joy that you were in my life and suggested we go for a walk or paint something crazy on a wall or have a picnic on the floor in the living room while you told me about your day and your thoughts.

No matter what, believe, with everything in you, that I am now and will always be a soft place to fall. Promise me that you will always remember:
 
I am proud of you. I honor you. I love you.
                                                                    Mom

Monday, March 31, 2014

Chasing Rainbows

Not only did we chase rainbows, we chased lightening, snowy mountains, mighty oaks in green fields.

Another Sunday in search of the perfect photo. We actually got all the way to Mt. Lassen, Whitmore,
Shingletown, raced through Redding to Whiskeytown for sunset and then realized that the sun was going to make it under the clouds. That means rainbows.

We chased rainbows into the north hills. The rainbows grew bright, saturated with color and then faded. A minute or two more and another bright rainbow would burst out. We would race to the best position to snap its picture and it would fade just as we got into position. We tried really hard to capture it but we mostly laughed at how silly we were and thankful our children were not witnessing our insanity. They have already threatened commitment hearings!













We hit all four directions, headed east, came back to valley following several southern roads. We hit the west mountains to try to take a picture of the gorgeous Sun Dog about Whiskeytown Lake. Then raced through the roads on the north side. Finally arriving home and racing to the computer to see who could upload their picture first.

I won and good thing, too. If I had seen Frank's photographs before seeing mine, I probably would have destroyed my memory card and returned to the kitchen to eat some ice cream. Jealousy is so bad for my cholesterol!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Deluge and Deluge

The sky opened the flood gates about half an hour ago. The rain seems as if it is being launched from the clouds as it is rebounding off the patio and pool cover with supreme gusto.

Great tidings for California and our drought.

This week has been a blue ribbon event for Frank, my personal meteorologist.

He has completed ground school to be a pilot and he is also a hang glider pilot. He lives for the weather. We have at least one weather instrument in each room, almost.  It is only in the bathrooms that one cannot read what the temperature is inside and outside or what the humidity is but not because  he didn't try! We just need to draw the line somewhere.

Typically, I am jubilant about the rain, hail, wind and lightening. I love chasing clouds and lightening for photo opportunities. I also enjoy just sitting and being in it.

Frank will be home in 48 minutes. He may kiss me hello but only because I am sitting in front of the second instrument in the room.  It is the most accurate and most diverse in this end of the house. First he will tell me how much rain we have had in the last 24 hours, the last 12 hours, which hour in the last 24 had the most accumulation of rain.  He will compare today to the rest of the week in precipitation. Then we will move on to wind speed, direction and gusts. Then we will discuss temperature. Interior and exterior and possibly pool temperature. He will be as excited as a kid with a new bike!

He will ask me if  I've watched TWC or the weather reports for tomorrow.  When I confess that I haven't, he will gaze at me as if I am one of those people who races to the beach when a tsunami warning is issued. Then a second of pity will flicker across his face as he remembers that I am one of those poor souls on earth that just passively observes the weather.

Tonight, when we go to the bedroom, we will replay the entire event. The weather instrument in our bedroom is substantially more precise, therefore, the details will be, well....detailed! Precipitation, year-to-date, will be added as well as any sun flares.

Rex, our Border Collie and I will sit on the bed, intently listening.

One might think this post is a complaint but it is just the opposite. I love Frank's enthusiasm about the weather, actually, his love for all-things SKY!  Weather, clouds, birds, stars, sun flares...all of it. It makes me happy to see him so excited.  In fact, almost every weather instrument he owns has been a gift from me.

Truth be told, Rex and I don't remember much of the presentations. Rain is rain as far as we are concerned!