May 02, 2016

Lovin' D'Agostino


May 2nd! Yeah, it is. It is a new month and I had no clue.

Early onset Alzheimer's or just too dang busy, but thank goodness for Michael D'Agostino at A Life Examined and his Question of the Month. I happened across a couple of posts, shook my head that April had stumbled out the back door and let May in.

First of the month, May is here! Meaning? Pay the mortgage, pay utilities, get oil changed, get tires rotated, put the sheers up on the pergola, get chlorine tablets for pool and see if last years swim suit still fits (or is fit to wear). Mostly, it means a Question of the Month....Yay!

Chronological Query: "What are three pieces of advice you'd give to people starting their own blog?"

#1. Do It!  Don't put it off for another minute. Stop reading this and do it right now.

#2. Don't worry when you discover that you've abandoned your blog, haven't posted for six months or a year and all your links are bad. Cyber dust is invisible and won't make you sneeze.  Just get back to it. The second time around, your commitment will have sharper teeth. When you return your ideas for what you want to say and how to say it will have been tuned up a little. 

#3. Build relationships. Visit other blogs, comment, get to know your fellow bloggers. When you find a site you love, share it.  Post a link to their site on your pages.  Respond to their comments on your posts. Go back and read their replies, if any, to your comments. 

When you've built relationships, you have people you want to communicate with, an audience to write to. On the days you have nothing to say, or after you've had your say, you can stroll around Blogville.  Visit your friends and acquaintances, read what they have to share, respond, support and maybe be inspired!

Who knows, you might end up having a Question of the Month to look forward to or an It's Okay Tuesday!

p.s. #3.5 getting your oil changed and tires rotated are probably not the most newsworthy item to share!


May 01, 2016

If You Were...

Have you ever asked yourself....and my guess is that you haven't....have you ever asked yourself, if you were a piece of furniture, what item would you be?

In one of HGTV's property hunting programs, a sleek, red sofa was in one of the rooms. The couple doing the hunting were seeking a home for a woman who couldn't do the search herself. I can't remember the reason she was unable to accompany them.

When their eyes spotted the sleek red leather sofa, they both "oohed" and said, "Whoa, she'll love that couch. If she were a piece of furniture, that's what she would be!"

One the "searchers" was the woman's husband and, frankly, the sofa was pretty damn sexy. The design was contemporary with a low tufted red leather back, sleek edges and wide chaise off one side. Can you imagine someone comparing you to a sleek sexy item, even if it was a sofa?

Made me wonder what kind of furniture I would be.

The first picture to pop into my head was a window seat built into a bay window on the south side of a house. Warm sun streaming in, bookshelf built into sides; the seat able to be lifted up to hide and discover whimsical and magical items and books. Cushioned seat, lots of pillows, well-padded, comfy.

I realized I was visualizing a design element of a building. Thinking "Home Goods" and "Stickley" I returned to pieces of furniture!


I would be a comfy over-stuffed chair with high winged back and tall, well-rounded arms for snuggling into. I know in my heart that I would not be a single color nor would I be a buffalo plaid.

The deep seat cushion would be a bright purple, turquoise and sea green in swirls and capricious geometric shapes. The edges of the cushions would be vertical stripes in the same colors. The overstuffed wings would be covered in purple polka dot on a turquoise background, the arms in a reverse pattern with the turquoise dots of different sizes. There would be 3 pillows; one a bright orange, one a deep purple and one with stars and moons in a dark purple night sky.

I'm thinking there should be a skirt on the chair (to hide dust bunnies and books that don't fit on the two side tables. The skirt should probably be the same vertical stripes as the cushion edges; there should be some control, right?

Do I have any volunteers to be a puffy square ottoman with tufted top matching my chair cushion and the full skirting in vertical stripes though you could choose piping in the polka dot purple and turquoise textile!

Fabric? Now that is a little bit of a dilemma...let's see, cotton vs microfiber! 

Cotton is a natural fiber, it is soft and durable (sound like me) but it is not fade resistant, will wrinkle and is actually flammable (again, me!) I am already imaging some wrinkles in the cushion and a little natural wear on the arms.

Microfiber, on the other hand, is super comfy, forgiving, long-lasting and easy to clean (me!) Down side to microfiber; it is a synthetic!

I guess I'm going with cotton!

I asked my husband, "Honey,"    (you've always got to use sweet words or you won't get a response) "Honey, if I were a piece of furniture, what would I be?" He immediately got that scared, "Do-these- pants-make-my-butt-look-big trick question look on his face. I smiled and tried to look as non-threatening as I could.

Wavering just the tiniest bit, he ventured, "A rocking chair!"

"Upholstered or wood?" I asked.

"Yes!" he responded.

I think I'm okay with his answer. Let's be honest, I am not a sleek, sexy, red leather couch!!!

What piece of furniture are you? Are you a seven piece sectional with several layout options? Could you be a stately four-poster bed with a pillow-top mattress and silk canopy? Maybe you are a stained-glass lamp with gilded base and a purple-toned metal pull chain with a peacock on the chain's end.







April 28, 2016

Hanging Our With JP

Went for a drive with my granddaughter yesterday. We drove 'the back way' to my folks' house.

JP drove, we listened to music and shared thoughts about the music, the lyrics, moving, boys  and moving to the east coast.

She is going to be sixteen in just over two weeks and she astounds me.

She is honest (extremely honest), she is authentic and she is wise.

We took my dad grocery shopping and she carried on a wonderful, animated conversation with him. She helped transfer groceries out of the cart and onto the belt to the checker. She packed groceries into bags, loaded them into the car and helped unload when we got back to the folks' house.

She is an excellent artist and drew a picture for Mom and Dad. She joked with them, asked some questions and listened to the answers.

Not once did she pick up her smart phone and disengage. She was involved and she showed them how much she cared.

She also taught me about making venison sausage, she shared her thoughts that people need to dress for themselves and own their own look.

Basically, she told me, "No excuses! If people like me or don't like me, it's none of my business!"

I liked the message and I love her.

 





April 22, 2016

Room For Two?

A FB friend asked yesterday, "If you were stuck in an elevator with a rock star, who would it be?"

(To all my grammar nazi's out there, should that be "whom"?)

I ran my list of favorite songs through my head and visualized the artist behind it. Went a little like:

Cat Stevens....no.

Stevie Nicks....no.

Steven Tyler....mmm, no.

Pharrel Williams.....hmm, maybe.

Cindy Lauper...another maybe.

Bob Marley....Oh Yeah, but that elevator might be on the way to heaven, so, uh, NO!



But when I do take that elevator to heaven, it would be nice if Bob Marley and Jim Croce come down to greet me and accompany me on the way up.


Still thinking.......Carlos  Santana......now that is an elevator that I could be stuck on for a long time.


I would definitely ask him if he was thinking of me when he wrote Black Magic Women!!!

If there is room for one more music artist on our little elevator, then I do think I'd like Sarah McClachlan to join us.  Can you imagine the angels that those two people would have in their company?



Which rock star would you choose to be in a stuck elevator with?

p.s. I would have preferred if we were sitting around a fire pit, drinking tequila but, hey, an elevator will have to do.


April 20, 2016

Dream Maps

Wow! What a dream I had this morning. I could feel the texture of the coat I was wearing, the breeze on my face. People's eyes could be read. Interesting selection of people to join me for such a lucid dream, too.

Three, no four, major players in the dream.

Person-one, who has a habit of "not showing up" was in the dream and, surprise, did not show up! But we were expecting her.

Person-two: I found her stuffed bunny and returned it to her. We chatted and danced while we waited for person-one to not show up. Person-two left on a school bus and took her bunny with her. They both seemed very happy to be reunited!

Person-three, had a heavy load and was headed to the laundromat, but eyes told me that maybe later.....(promises, promises).

Person-four - What are you doing in my dreams? I've never seen you here before; welcome! You look good at the head of the table! Your leadership skills are becoming very impressive!

I was wearing my pretty royal blue coat with the fur collar that I lost 45 years ago. All this time I thought it was stolen but I just left it in the land of dreams. What other items might be waiting there for me to rediscover?  It would be nice if my skate key is there. I don't have the skates anymore but I sure liked that skate key. It would look good on a 30" silver chain surrounded with Kyanite and Iolite beads.

The restaurant where I was having lunch with friends was built with thick redwood beams  and boards. Windows wrapped around three sides of the dining room. I could smell the vegetables roasted in rosemary and the ravioli (I'm pretty sure I brought the ravioli with me from watching Master Chef Canada last night. I could taste it too and all I have to say is "YUM"!)

I do hope my subconscious noted the location of the restaurant; the ambiance was remarkable and the black currant balsamic vinaigrette was literally out-of-this-world! I'm going to start sleeping with a  mason jar just in case I go back.

If I die in my sleep, please know that some uptight dream-realm official wouldn't let me transfer dimensions with a mason jar full of other-worldly salad dressing so I chose to stay with that divine nectar of the gods!

I found a folding laundry basket, returned it to person-two, returned to the curb to wait!  I looked down the street and knew that person-one was always going to not-show-up. I unbuttoned my coat, put my hands in my pockets and started walking in the direction of home. I made the choice not to wait but to show up for myself.

The walk felt good, the pace was brisk, even in an elegant pair of heels! I was smiling. The air brushed my face as I walked.  As I woke, I could still feel the breeze on my skin and I was still smiling.

I wonder if I can get a map back to that place and where do I get one if they exist?

Now, if you'll excuse me. My teapot is whistling and I have fresh ginger to peel and chop.

Do you have a place that you visit often in your dreams? 

Well, Hell!

You can build a fence out of wire or wood, steel or iron.

It can be four feet high or twelve feet tal.  It can reach the sky.

Signs, threatening trespassers with bodily harm or litigation, can be every six feet or every six inches.

Sooner or later, though, you are bound to leave the gate open.

Damn!

April 16, 2016

In My Momma's and Dad's Backyard...Back-Back Yard!

Skies were pretty dramatic while we waited for sunset color.
My Mom and Dad live on the Sacramento River though the bank is pretty steep, so they don't see the river from their house unless there is serious water flowing.  Most of the time, we have to walk to the back of the yard to see the pretty little rapids.

Leaving Mom-and-Dad's place last Sunday, we decided to go around the back of the Bend to look for the whooping cranes we had heard. Cranes were gone (or napping) but the green was very much awake and singing.

Sunset color never did show up in the sky but the clouds were dancing.
 The sound of frogs, and a hundred different species of birds was fantastic. Isn't it strange how noisy peace and quiet can be?

Occasionally, the breeze would rise up, and the surface of the water would ripple and at other times the water was the perfect mirror.

Did you know that between 1950's and the 1990's, the clarity of the sky became so polluted that we lost 20% of our blue?

Scientists called it Global Dimming. Since we have become more aware of aerosols and other pollutants, we are getting our clear skies back. The vivid blues are returning. Of course, that means the sun's radiation and heat can reach earth more effectively, which makes it warmer.

All I can say, is I am thankful for the blue, which is the last color to be discovered by the human eye! Maybe nature saved the best for last!

We were not disappointed by the amount of birds. As usual, my husbands photos of moving targets are far more beautiful than mine...so mine will stay in the "much to be desired" file!

I have told you that he does have a better (fancier and more expensive) camera than mine, right?

We waited around to see if the sunset would treat us with some brilliant color. It only teased us of sunsets to come with bits of color. Soon....maybe soon!


I enjoyed the evening so much, I decided to make the Bend my Wondering and Wandering background for awhile. It is the perfect place for exactly that, a little wondering and a little wandering and a whole lot of appreciating.

April 13, 2016

Hard To Say Goodbye

The ashes of a dear friend returned home this weekend.

I've kept them for 10 years, debating where to spread them. He loved the ocean, he loved the ranch. Ten years of ocean? Ranch? Ocean? Ranch?

Last fall the ranch was in the middle of one of the biggest forest fires in northern California. Everything was burned to a crisp but the house and the tall Mount-Olympus cypress trees that surrounded it...or so we thought.

We took a drive to see what spring might have brought and took his ashes with us.

Yes, it is silly, "Hey, Mitch, want to go for a drive with us?" As silly as it sounds, he did want to go and we loaded him up.

Highway 20 wildflowers were almost non-existent. In years past the road was lined in bright pastels of lupine, poppies, bluebells, baby blue eyes, yarrow, violets and sweet peas. Some of the mountains were still black but several of the slopes were sporting green grass and a strange white flower that I've never noticed. The contrast of black tree skeletons against the bright green was startling.

We stopped at the ranch. So many ancient oaks completely dead, not the tiniest sign of life.

The blackberries surrounding one of the spring-fed ponds were completely obliterated but two hundred year old trees survived nearby, a huge fig tree and an gnarly pear tree. We cheered for their strong survival instinct to thrive through drought, fires and years of being munched on by cattle.

Walking along side the fence....ever seen melted barbed-wire....over the rise and there they were. All 250 almond trees adorned in green leaves. They lived! The last time we saw then they were the blackest of black, smoke still rising from the ground. Here they were, leaves, tiny buds of almonds. Life!


What a celebration! We left Mitch's ashes on his beloved ranch with his trees that had risen from their own ashes.

Rest In Peace, my friend. I miss you but I am glad to know that your ashes are home.


Ta Da!

Light at the end of the tunnel approaching! Everyone off of the tracks?

To Do list is close to becoming a Ta Da list...and never once did my hands leave my wrists!

GodParenting Book: Rough Draft finished and off to 4 editors, two for psychological/sociological editing, two for doctrinal editing.

Illness: Antibiotics finished. Ultra Sound today to confirm kidney stones, not back pain from lifting 22 month old and sitting on ground playing with Lego blocks and puzzles.

Logo:  Company in Auburn submitted two choices and the clerics are liking them....phew!

Bills: paid, at least for the next 17 days!

GodParenting Proposals: prepared, checked twice, edited, done.

Mom's Broken Hearing Aid: Replaced

Mom's Missing Replacement Hearing Aid: whole other story, but resolved!

Meeting with Deanery:  Presentation Prepared..."please, God, keep me from spraining my tongue while talking to a room full of priests, (but, yes, I understand,  'thy will be done')!  

Meeting with Diocese: Prepared...mostly....still praying for grace and no drooling when making presentation. (but, again, 'thy will be done')!  p.s. I am willing to bargain for a little mercy! I'm willing to give up Hostess cupcakes and Dutch Bros coffee for a whole month...or two!

Shower, Pee, Eat...maybe tomorrow! All in due time!

April 11, 2016

Addendum to 'Imagine If'

Yesterday's journey through the woods and the mysterious, inviting foundation of an old cottage reminds me of Neil Gaiman's Instructions, just in case you ever find your self in a fairy tale. We should always carry a copy of it. You never know when such instructions will be necessary.


"Instructions" By Neil Gaiman


 
"Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never saw before.
Say “please” before you open the latch,
go through,
walk down the path.
A red metal imp hangs from the green-painted front door,
as a knocker,
do not touch it; it will bite your fingers.

Walk through the house. Take nothing. Eat nothing.
However,
if any creature tells you that it hungers,
feed it.
If it tells you that it is dirty,
clean it.
If it cries to you that it hurts,
if you can,
ease its pain.

From the back garden you will be able to see the wild wood.
The deep well you walk past leads to winter’s realm;
there is another land at the bottom of it.
If you turn around here,
you can walk back safely;
you will lose no face. I will think no less of you.

Once through the garden you will be in the wood.
The trees are old. Eyes peer from the undergrowth.
Beneath a twisted oak sits an old woman. She may ask for something;
give it to her. She
will point the way to the castle.
Inside it are three princesses.
Do not trust the youngest. Walk on.

In the clearing beyond the caste the twelve months sit about a fire,
warming their feet, exchanging tales.
They may do favors for you, if you are polite.
You may pick strawberries in December’s frost.
Trust the wolves, but do not tell them where you are going.



The river can be crossed by the ferry. The ferry-man will take you.
(The answer to his question is this:
If he hands the oar to his passenger, he will be free to leave the boat.
Only tell him this from a safe distance.)

If an eagle gives you a feather, keep it safe.
Remember: that giants sleep too soundly; that
witches are often betrayed by their appetites;
dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always;

hearts can be well-hidden,
and you betray them with your tongue.

Do not be jealous of your sister.
Know that diamonds and roses
are as uncomfortable when they tumble from one’s lips as toads and frogs:
colder, too, and sharper, and they cut.
Remember your name.
Do not lose hope—what you seek will be found.

Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn.
Trust dreams.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.
When you come back, return the way you came.


Favors will be returned, debts be repaid.
Do not forget your manners.
Do not look back.

Ride the wise eagle (you shall not fall)

Ride the silver fish (you will not drown)
Ride the gray wolf (hold tightly to his fur).
There is a worm at the heart of the tower; that is why it will not stand.

When you reach the little house, the place your journey started,
you will recognize it, although it will seem much smaller than you remember.
Walk up the path, and through the garden gate you never saw but once.
And then go home. Or make a home.
Or rest."

          *    *     *     *     *     *     *

Now, I can tell you many of these items I have found to be profoundly true.

Dragons do have soft spots.
Hearts are easily betrayed (and most often betrayed) by tongues.
Most importantly, "Do Not Lose Hope!"

What advice do you have for someone who has found themselves in the middle of a fairy tale?

April 09, 2016

Imagine If...

You're hiking along a deserted forest path. Only the tiniest rays of light find their way to the forest floor. Ferns are thick and full, easily surpassing your belt in height. The path narrows, takes a twist and turn and another twist.  You find yourself traveling down hill. The trees' canopy thickens. There are no splashes of sun to light the way.  In the silent darkness, the path can only be made out by the separation of the undergrowth.

You know you are walking down hill only by the slight pull in your calves and upper thighs, so subtle is the descent. Another twist, another turn...looming before you is a mossy stone wall, steep steps invite you to approach...or do they warn the traveler to stay away?

Photo Courtesy of Wayne Grazio
Do you climb the stairs?

Do you sit on a step, with your back to the stone wall?

Do you sit on the ground and listen to the echos of life past?

Do you listen for gnomes and fairies to tell you the story of residents long gone?

April 06, 2016

Mille Femmes

While waiting for my handsome husband to get his soft, wavy curls get snipped away (sniff, sniff) at Supercuts, I picked up the closest magazine. I would have waited in the truck with my Kindle but the temperature was 94 degrees...I was seeking air conditioning in a major way.

Just a side note about Redding. Spring lasts about 8 hours, which I think happened Monday from about 10 a.m through 6 p.m.

The magazine was Good Housekeeping.  This is not your mother's Buick. Completely different from the last issue I read, which was probably 1988 or so.

This was March, 2016 issue, featuring an article regarding Mille Femmes, an art show of 1000 portraits of women who were asked to describe themselves in one word!

Talk about the self-examined life!

Photo Courtesy of Good Housekeeping March 2016
Curious, Passion, Genuine, Gregarious...how would I describe myself in this moment of my life?

Brave....not even!

Aware...well, mostly.

Wry...probably not.

Gregarious?  Uh, with or without Tequila?

Seeker? Getting warm.

Vibrant?  Yeah....no!

If I must narrow it down to one word, it can only be one.

I am blessed.

Can you describe yourself in one word? Gifted? Compassionate? Courageous?

Tell me, tell me, do!