June 30, 2014

Do You Have A Map?

I have a drawer that has 50, 60, maybe 80 maps in it. New York City (city streets and subways, Tokyo, Puerto Rico, Yellowstone, Utah, New Mexico, South Carolina, Maine. One map has both Vermont and New Hampshire.  I have, at least, 5 Redding maps! I've been here a long time and things change!

I have Santa Clara County, Ventura County, Tehama County, Jefferson County. I have Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Greece, Bosnia and Mexico.

Funny thing though, I never take a folding map with me. Weird huh?

Before I venture to any place I haven't been, I Google directions. Then I Map Quest the destination. I check out which route seems the straightest shot or path of least resistance. I memorize it.

I visualize the trip in "Home Health" directions! Just a bunch of R's and L's or E, W, S and N Once the route is in my head, it is pretty much there to stay. If you ask me on my death-bed how to get to the tree farm in Yuba City (which I haven't been to in 15 years as of this year) I will answer:

S on I-5 
E @ 20 @ Colusa exit
L @ 99 (Golden State Highway)
L @ Messick
R @ Sierra Gold Driveway ~ Main office is (or, at least, was) a little house in parking lot.

I will not use a GPS because I have found them to be bossy, boring and inaccurate. They don't prepare you for highway construction, new roads or downed trees!

Life is much like that drive to the tree farm. We need to set out our directions. We need to know which directions are going to get us where we ultimately want to go. Life's journey is usually not a physical address but a "place" in your soul and your spirit. 

Growing up, I wanted to be a mother, a doctor; live in the country or mountains, grow my own food and be happy.  My dream was not to live at 10786 Ponderosa Drive, have four sons, one with green eyes, two with brown eyes and one with blue eyes and I would name them Tom, Ray, Bill and Craig and three daughters, two tall brunettes, Zita and Fiona,  and a petite redhead who I would name Molly. I had a "general" vision; home, husband, kids, contentment.

On our journey we do need to set out a path. Our families, our communities, our faith and, ultimately, our nature, help define the path but the path is ours. We need to review our path now and then to make sure we are staying on course. Does that mean we can't turn left or right, or reverse our steps from South to North? 

It is always your choice but examine those choices and the consequences. Going W on 20 @ the Colusa exit isn't going to help you harvest peaches, pears or almonds next year but you might see wonderful wild flowers along the highway, catch sight of rolling vineyards surrounding Clear Lake and you just might end up at the ocean, observing the most beautiful sunset of your life. 

So, what are the directions you have set out for you on your path?  What is your personal map for your journey?

Is accountability part of your personal directions on the path? When you say you will be somewhere at 7:00, do you call at 8:30 with a really good excuse, over and over and over? 

If you want to go straight and people are in your way are you going to bowl them over? Will you be a bully? Will you be a negotiator? Will you introduce yourself and ask if there is anything you can do to clear the congestion?

If there is a wide gap in the trail, will you slump over and turn around or will you study it, check out the other side, back-track a little for a running start and leap over the abyss?

If you want things that aren't yours will you steal them or destroy them or just plant yourself in the middle of them until the true owners throw their hands up and say, "Here, you can have it?"

On this most important journey, our life, we need basic directions. We need gas for our vehicle, I for one, certainly don't want to have to push my car the whole trip! Nor do I want anyone else forced to drag me and my wagon over the hill.

What are your values? What are your moral guides? What are you willing to be flexible in and what is firm and unshakable?

When we get to the end of the journey, will you be able to look into a mirror and like who is looking back at you?

June 27, 2014


Do you know how important Aunties are?

I can't imagine having grown up without Aunties and, even, at 63, I have an Auntie that still inspires me, calms me, teaches me, makes me laugh and shares her wisdom (which, by the way, have no strings attached and that's the best!)

Aunties teach you that you can fly if you want but to wear knee pads in case you loose your train of thought.

Aunties teach you that it really is okay to fill the dirty pans with soapy water and hide them in the oven until morning!

Aunties teach you to dance.

Aunties teach you to toilet paper houses and about "see food"  (don't ask!).

Aunties teach you to steal signs (again, better if you don't ask).

Aunties teach you that to dream big is your right and duty and that people who want to pop your dreams are pinheads.

Aunties teach you that sometimes love doesn't make sense but do it anyway and other times they teach you that love makes sense but "this ain't love" so RUN AWAY!

Some Aunties sneak you tampons when your mom says, "No, wear this twin size mattress so everyone knows you're on your period!"

Aunties take you to the Mall, your first concert, sneak you cookie dough and teach you how to make friendship bracelets.

Aunties teach you about Little Bunny FooFoo, how to cross the street in heavy traffic and about flexibility.

Aunties teach you that many things are flexible including some rules!

Most importantly (except for the tampon part) Aunties teach you about unconditional love.

I saw two potentially awesome Aunties get their first feel of the position last night. There was no hesitation, both are totally ready to step up to the plate. But one of them fell in love with her neice in such a big way. You could see it in her eyes, her demeanor, her spirit. Even the baby felt it. She snuggled right into Auntie Haley's arms for the first of many cuddles.

June 26, 2014

Red Letter Day

 June 25, 2014 ~ What a day!

After 3 days of labor our great-granddaughter was born today.

She is beautiful.

She is loved.

Life is Good.

June 23, 2014

Revisiting An Old Friend ~ Trees

Trees are the longest living of all of God's creations on this earth.

What can they teach us?

Not only does the tree live by the adage "Do No Harm" but every moment of its being, a tree is conducting life in a productive, nurturing and creative manner.

The tree absorbs poisonous carbon dioxide into its leaves, changes the chemical make-up, producing oxygen which benefits us all; fresh air for all breathing creatures.

Miles and miles of tree roots disperse through the earth, aerating the soil, preventing the ground from compacting. Have you ever tried to dig a hole in compacted earth?  Imagine a delicate seedling trying to break through, or a little earthworm bumping its little noggan on the hard mass of compacted earth.

If there is an isolated tree in a forest or garden that is floundering due to lack of water the surrounding trees transfer moisture to it through their root system!  Now that is nurturing!

The profusion of branches and leaves across the sky provides shade, a little haven of respite on a hot day. Those branches are also nooks and crannies for birds to nest, squirrels to hide their stash of winter stores.

Falling leaves cover the ground, providing a winter blanket  As the leaves decay, the process warms the soil and protect the bulbs and corms and sleeping plants. Nitrogen is produced, feeding the roots and plants.

There is never a time, in its natural state, when a tree is not being creative. It is constantly growing, bud, leaves, branches, expanding it's horizons.  Even in the state of dormancy the tree is creating miles and miles of roots underground.

A tree does not protect itself by attacking its enemies, yet it does not stand idly by, and letting it's enemies attack. Tree's produce bark to protect it's tender wood from infestation, from scorching in the sun's heat and from exposure to the elements. Some trees create their own chemicals, oils or gas that thwarts intruders.

Is it any wonder the God uses a "tree" to hold the forbidden fruit even though fruit grows on so many other plant types.

Is Winter the Sabbath for trees?
Is winter a tree's sabbath?  Does it "keep holy the sabbath" by its resting?  What does a tree "DO" in the resting?

Every part of the tree above the ground is idle, it grows no leaves, no branches during dormancy. But underground, ah, underground the root system is expanding, big roots, tiny capillary roots, all are growing, preparing the foundation for the next season's growth.  Is there a message in the tree for us.  Is our day of rest merely a day to attend religious services or a period for a tranquil, openness of soul?  A day to while-away or the opportunity to really be in a state of attention, to listen, to prepare the foundation for...?

Creativity is vital to the longevity of the tree.  I believe it is also vital to our health and longevity. As long as we continue to create, to learn, to teach, we maintain vitality. What do you do to maintain your vitality? 

June 21, 2014

So Many Choices

Summer Solstice today.  Researching "solstice" the words: pagans, neo-pagans and new agers are tossed out like candy on Halloween ( or should I say Samhain).

Having discovered lately (finally) that life does not have to be either/or, I have decided to celebrate solstice with an international-interfaith flavor this year.

In Lithuania it is called Saint Jonas' Festival. I will sing and dance and tell tales (this being my first of the day though the singing and dancing has already begun!) In true Lithuanian fashion, a fine hello to all Jonas, Jone and Janina's out there! By the way, the holiday was supposedly high-jacked and adopted as John the Baptist Day, so hail to you John. ( so I guess blessings go out to you Johns, Jons, Juans, Juanitas, and Joannes and Ivans)

Speaking of Ivan's, it is also Kupalo Night or Ivan Kupalo Night, the shortest night of the year. Ivan is the John in Slavick languages. Again, the adopted by Christian religions to celebrate John the Baptist. John, Ivan, Juan, JoAnn, all those names, when deciphered into their basic roots mean "bathing". It kind of makes sense that baptism and John would be celebrated at this time of year. It could actually be one of those what-came-first-the-egg-or-the-chicken kind of things!

So many cultures celebrate the longest-day aspect of the solstice but I am intrigued by the "shortest night" view of the Slavik people. Bonfires are built and the revelers jump the fire to prove their courage; couples are encouraged to jump the fire holding hands. If they break their grip their relationship is destined to be short lived. Think of the lawyers fees that would be saved if we made bonfire jumping part of premarital counseling!

Some of the celebrants search for fern flowers and magical herbs; maidens create small wreathes to float down rivers and would-be suitors try to snag the wreathe of the one they are smitten with.

It is also a day to celebrate fertility. I would imagine if you were one of the lucky ones to find a fern flower, capture a sodden wreathe and jump a bonfire with the wreathes creator without letting go of hands and still had time in the shortest night of the year...well, you might soon be celebrating honey moon. That, in itself, is another fertility holiday and rite.

p.s. ferns don't flower! If someone brings you a little blossom and tells you it is a fern flower, cut them off from the mead....they've certainly had their fill!

In Poland, the day (or night ) is called Noc Kupalo. All the rituals mentioned above are observed with the addition of telling fortunes. I am guessing that the most accurate fortunes would be those predicting burned feet, lost wreathes and a few hangovers. ("The cards tell me you will awake in the tall grass, toes crispy and feeling as if Ivan Kupalo is in your head banging to get out!)

 Finland built huge bonfires too and called the longest day of the year Ukon Juhla. The Fins are very astute people, as they usually built their fires on the beach of a lake or the sea. Two birch branches would also be placed on either side of the entrance to the homes, welcoming visitors. Heavy indulging in spirits is also part of the Finnish ritual...and I am not talking ghosts! It is now called St. John's Day but still celebrated with bonfires and booze! Go Finland!

Fete de la Saint-Jean is what the French call the day. They, too, build bonfires but in the past it was called Cat Burning Day.  Moving on.......

Greece celebrates the day as Klidonas which translates to "Sign of the Oracle". Now that is a culture that saw John the Baptist coming!  The day is considered a fine time for unmarried woman to find their true love. Wreathes are also involved, but unlike other cultures, Greek doors are been decorated with wreathes for two months and they find this a grand day to burn them (the wreathes, not the doors). Like many others, bonfires, drinking and dancing are a must and after several "Opa's" there is the mandatory jumping of flames to prove your manliness and courage!

Photo by kostaskatsanis.blogspot.com
Many Western hemisphere cultures laid out a banquet for the Sun Gods, hoping they would be rewarded with good harvests.  I don't find that jumping flames was a popular on this side of the globe either.

I, for one, will try jumping the fire pit prior to building the fire. I will jump the flames prior to consuming any alcohol and I will definitely shave my legs to prevent any singeing. I may build a wreath and see if Frank retrieves it (which I am sure he will to prevent it from being swept up by the pool sweep) and he will be justly rewarded. At the stroke of midnight, eastern standard time, 9 p.m. here, I will take my pseudo-midnight swim, knock back a toast to the Sun Gods, Moon Goddesses, John the Baptist, Fire-jumpers, and all the Johns, Jons, Ivans, etc. I will dance sky-clad only until I reach my towel (shame to scare the neighbors on such a festive evening).

Climbing into my bed, I will know that somewhere, my ancestors will be smiling down on me and asking each other, "WTF?"

June 20, 2014

Good Days

A friend and I had a wonderful picnic at Whiskey Creek yesterday. We got out early and were in the water by 10 a.m.

We sat our folding chairs in the lake, our quilt in the shade and pretty tablecloth and picnic basket on the closest table.

The water was perfect. A goose mistook one of my toes as part of the picnic and took a little nibble!
He quickly learned, if one is going to nibble this woman's toes, champagne and chocolate covered strawberries need to be part of the package.

My picnic partner, Kate, is a very magical woman. The conversation flowed easily from the numinous to the mundane and back to.  The weather was perfect. Kayaks would pass now and then and the conversation and laughing would reach us near the beach.

We shared cucumber sandwiches which were uber yummy if I say so myself. (secret recipe: 12 grain bread, whipped cream cheese mixed with tarragon, chives and dill. Cucumber peeled and thinly sliced, sprinkled with sea salt and white pepper.  Spread both slices of bread with cheese mix layer cucumbers three or four layers thick. I left the crust on but at home or when I am feeling really poopoopedoo I toss the crust outside for the crows).

We shared a raspberry-kiwi salad in strawberry yogurt, walnuts, pears and lemon water.

A family of geese came by, the adults closely guarding the babies. Kate shared a story with me of witnessing a pod of orcas swimming with her boat in the San Juan Islands. They, too, swam in a formation that protected the young.

Kate dropped me back at my house around 2 or 2:30. I took a nice shower and layed on my bed with a new novel and promptly fell asleep. Naps are even yummier than cucumber sandwiches.

Thursday, June 19, 2014, was another good day.

June 17, 2014

Purple Trees or?

I'm itching to paint another mural.

I can paint over this wall or I can take a chain saw to a couple of bushes out by the pool and clear some fencing.

Maybe outside would be the better idea. 

The backyard could use a little Hawaii! What do you think if I paint a couch and coffee table in the yard since I brought a tree and hills inside?

Mt. Lassen would look good under the Monterey Pine, don't you think?

My granddaughters and I decided to drill little holes in the fence and glue marbles of all colors in the holes. The sun setting in the evenings will make the marbles glow.

What do you think?

Inside wall or outside fence?

Hawaiian beach?

Mt. Lassen sunset?

Fairies and marbles?

Maybe I'll just take a nap and dream about it!!!


Got Plans for Litha? Summer Solstice?

I have some beautiful fabric; dark side of royal blue with stars and another black and gold brocade. There is still time to sew a couple of amulet bags for friends.

There is a little meadow in French Gulch that is filled with wild chamomile for harvesting in an early morning run. A little bit of lavender blooming under my kumquat tree. Herkimer diamonds soaked in all the full moon energy. A leaf and stem from of holly growing in the fairy circle around the base of my giant sycamore and, of course, the sycamore. Double whammy of power there!

If there is still time after the drive to French Gulch, harvesting the plants in my own yard, I may drive out to Jelly's Ferry and harvest some mistletoe for the amulets.

There is a bit of fir and sycamore to burn in my magical fire pit, a little drumming and a midnight swim...I'm feeling this coming year is going to be Numinous with a capital YUM!

June 16, 2014


When you are overwhelmed and stressed to the hilt, where is your Go-To space to unwind or vent?

Does your Go-To depend on the time of year or time of day?

Drive-time has an influence on my respite destinations. If I am completely wound up, I head for Whiskey Creek at Whiskeytown Lake. All my favorite unwind tools can be found there; mountains, trees, body of water and quiet. Perfect space for deep breathing, mind clearing and making mellow! Mostly perfect. There are times of the year when salmon are on their life-long mission to feed the bears. I find that looking over my shoulder for large furry mammals with fish breath and the anxiety of wondering if I will be Fish-breath's dessert is counter-productive to relaxation.

There are many times that I don't wait for stress to launch me in the direction of my favorite space. Random books will whisper to me to grab a pear and a quilt and take said book to visit the mountains and trees where it will share it's words, sentences and paragraphs with me. Sometimes my journal and favorite pen convince me that the short drive would benefit us all.

Now, there are times when the stress is partially dictated by time. I have a couple of quick Go-To's. If I am in pedestrian mode, my Rex and I will walk to the Diestlehorst Bridge and watch the river flow, again, some of my buddies are present, mountains, trees, body of water. Peace can be found there but quiet is a matter of perception.  If I am operating a fossil-fuel based vehicle and have a limited time frame, I find there are two spaces alongside the Sacramento River that inspire peace and tranquility.

There is a wonderful space beside Hat Creek I call my own bit of paradise, though I have sneaking suspicions that it isn't truly my own. I am often greeted with impressions in the dirt at the edge of the creek. The indiscretions abound, as footprints often include boots, bare feet, tennis shoes, dog or coyote, bear, squirrel otter, chipmunk, deer and reptile! I'm hoping those really big ones belonged to a Great Dane or St. Bernard and not a mountain lion.

Some long distance Go-To's include Gold Beach, Oregon, Lithia Park in Ashland, a nameless creek on the Pit River arm of Shasta Lake, a certain bench at Capitola's little promenade and the Rewoods.

There are a couple of Go-To's within arm's reach. My bedroom, my living room, my backyard or floating in my pool, eyes closed, limbs relaxed, every body part submerged but nose and lips. Nice!

Have you thought about your Go-To spaces?

What about your Go-To people!

Who do you feel safe with when the world gets too heavy for your shoulders?

I have several good friends with whom I can talk about anything. When anxiety pulls on me like gravity and my fingers are slipping their hold on the bar of sanity, threatening a long fall into the pit of darkness, my sister, Sherree, is my Go-To.  Julie has been-there for me for years and years and years and Lyn is fairly recent, but all-in.  Robin is a sister-in-law but one of the best listeners in the world. Those four women are all Joan of Arc's and help me slay dragons if need be.

Have you got any other Go-To's? Vodka, Running, Shoes?

If all is well, I love a glass of wine (or two) but try to stay away from alcohol if the pit of despair is looming. I lean more towards Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia therapy! Though, now that I am supposed to be meat-eggs-dairy-free, I might have to keep some strawberry-rhubarb-ginger sorbet in the freezer for those Need-A-Go-To moments.

Music and showers are good therapy, as well as, swimming, working with clay or watching French Kiss with Meg Ryan and Kevin Klein are good Go-To's/  Folding towels works too, as long as I don't have to put the suckers away.

Meditation works, prayer is good. I also find that primal screaming works wonders in the privacy of your car.

I found the best relief though comes from climbing trees and, of course, flying!

Family Is Good For The Heart

When I sit in a room, filled with my grandchildren, children and their spouses, I am overwhelmed by the sense of contentment and joy.

I wish I could tell you all the times one granddaughter or another would wrap her arms around me and whisper, "I love you, Nana!" Or sat next to me on the couch, held my hand with a nice squeeze. Or snuck me a spoonful of cookie dough! The pure joy it is to have my grandson hug me and tell me he can't wait for his baby to meet me.

As usual, many conversations were carried on with sprinkles of movie quotes here and there, though the quotes are leaning toward contemporary movies and less from 1980's and 90's flicks. I don't remember hearing, "Good news! Your friend is only mostly dead!" Not once! But I did hear, "And Darth Vader was all WHAAAAAA?"

Late at night, I could lay in bed and hear whispered girl-talk floating down the hall. Whispers would then drop to barely audible but I could hear tiptoeing on the hardwood floors, the silverware drawer slide open ever-so-slow. I couldn't hear the cookie dough container pop open but the complete silence told me the chocolate chip midnight raid was a success!

No one would have ever known. Dough container was back in fridge in morning, no dough in sleeping bags or on upper lips. There were the spoons in the sink, though, trails of cookie dough and licks on them.  It was obvious the caper was a success and the spoons might have been their calling card; a way of saying, "thanks for getting us the cookie dough, Nana! It was yummy!"

I am thankful for each and every one of the members of my family. If Karma was a big thing in my life, I would swear that in a past life I must have been a national hero of some kind. My rewards in this life are abundant! My life is truly blessed. My cup runneth over for I am a rich, rich, rich woman.

June 12, 2014


I'm not sure if it's a PTSD thing or if lots of people have the same reaction with certain dates.

For years and years and years, a certain date hits me like a concrete wall, paralyzing me sometimes for hours.

Doesn't matter if I heard it or read it, I would be knocked to my knees emotionally. Panic, fear, couldn't think.

Then it became two different dates that would have the same effect. There is no avoiding those dates either. Sometimes, as early as six weeks before the date, someone would nonchalantly invite us to an event on the date or tell us they were coming through town and would like to visit. Bam! Frozen!

Both dates came and went this year like a mosquito on a bear's back. Yes, I was aware of them but hardly even had to take a deep breath to get through. The concrete wall was gone; there wasn't even a paper wall that said "Go Bruins!" to bust through. They were just dates.

Just dates but maybe not like any other. They were dates that reminded me that the human spirit can rise above the hardest of challenges and conquer the most ferocious fears.

It doesn't take a spandex suit with a big "S"  on it and a cape to knock down a concrete wall. You just focus on what's on the other side and the wall crumbles on its own! 

How did years and years of paralyzing PTSD lose it's grip on me? Feel free to ask but if you don't, I'm telling you anyway. I read a book with a pretty little jacket of bright colors. A book that asked me "Do You Quantum Think?"  Inspired me to change my thinking, my reactions and the quality of my life. 

I discovered that I am in charge of my life. I get to set my own boundaries, I get to choose who I want in my life and who I choose to let live happily-ever-after somewhere else. I get to choose what I want in my life and what is absolutely unacceptable. It is my choice what memories I will cherish and which ones can float away into the dark. 

Paulo Coehlo wrote, "One does not drown by falling in the river but by staying submerged in it."

Taking the path of least resistance would be to let the current carry you. Or you can swim to shore, climb out, dry off and make your own path.
All in all, my life is my path. I can choose who will walk it with me if they want to now and then. It is my choice when to turn left or right and when to find a nice sunny patch and sit in silence. Occasionally some one will bulldoze their way onto my path but it is a free world, they can walk the path if they want but I am planting my feet where I want. I say a little prayer for the trespasser; that they find their own path soon and fall in love with it.

My path is lovely. Filled with loving family, friends, magic, imagination, challenges and successes.
Thank You, Dianne Collins

It is surprising how each step is easier, even the uphill slopes, without being burdened with packing around the weight of the past or fear of the future. Placing each foot forward without worrying where the next concrete wall might appear, I am looking forward to the new twist and turns.

I may even dive into the river now and then, not to be swept away but to refresh myself in its cool current, wash away some of the dirt of the path, climb out, dry off and continue the journey.

See you along the way!

June 07, 2014


We're hot again! Triple digits weather.

I asked my dog if he wanted to take a walk yesterday. He jumped up and ran to the door, his little tush swinging back and forth, tail flying everywhere.

I put my shoes and hat on, opened the door. He ran out, down the driveway to the mailbox. We have a huge tree shading the driveway so the concrete was on the cool side.

He lifted his leg at the bushes by the mailbox and left his personal newsletter to the other pedestrians of the four-legged variety. He took about 10 steps on the hot concrete, turned around and ran back to me....that never happens until I call him.

He was looking up at me with that "is-he-smiling" look of his.

"What's up, Rex?"

Still just looking up at me.

"Do you want to go for a walk?"

Usually those words send him trotting down the sidewalk. Still just looking up at me...I swear that is a smile.

"Do you want to go in the house!"

He ran for the door as if he had been overseas for a year and was just returning home. He pushed his nose into the door, sat and looked back at me. Now I know that is a smile.

I opened the door. We stepped into the coolness.  Nice!

When we lived in the country and I told someone I walked to the mailbox, it could be construed as exercise. When I walk to the mailbox here, not so much.

As Rex and I sat in the coolness, he chewed on a huge knuckle bone and I sipped on green tea with ginger and lemon; we knew that at least we had given it a shot....not our best...but a shot non-the-less.

Who's smiling now?

Effects of Bullying

Have you ever heard of Stress Mindset Measure (SMM) or Mood and Anxiety Symptom Questionaire (MASQ)?  Our book club is currently reading a book that discusses the dynamics of a mindset for happiness. When study results are touted, I almost always go to the source. I check out WHO designed the test or questionaire and WHY; WHAT controls were used and most importantly, were the study results quoted truthfully or did someone spin the stats to promote their own agenda.

It is 4:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning...what else is there to do?

This morning I have been surfing through articles on SMM. Very interesting. Of course, I know how debilitating stress can be, especially over the long term. Several reports discuss the effects of bullying on someone who is already in a chronic state of stress.

The reports found that bullying, especially with a person (or persons) in a personal relationship with the victim can have profound physiological and psychological effects. These effects compound the stress, critically disabling the person from implementing coping mechanisms for handling the stress.

The effects include but are not limited to social isolation, avoidance behavior, depression, insomnia,  hyper sensitivity, trust issues, impulse and anger management issues, suicide and violence. Suicide is pretty extreme but short of that there is at-risk behavior, pushing the limits without caring for your own life. Have you ever heard the expression, "If no one else cares, why should I?"

Social media is having a huge impact on ugliness. Not being face-to-face in our conversations, hiding behind avatars and screen names, seems to promote nastiness. People are not being held accountable for their behavior. How do we change bad behavior without accountability and consequences?

Reality TV also advocates appalling behavior, like the Real Housewives of Backstabbing. If you want to see loathsome actions all dressed up in pretty dresses and fancy houses, tune in! 

How do we teach young people and, for that matter, people in general, that harsh words say much more about the person spewing them than the person they are aimed at?

I was in a CVS store today picking our a Father's Day card for my husband. A young women with two small children were standing one aisle over. One of the kids appeared to be 4 or 5 years old and was trying to talk to her mom. The mom told her to "Shut Up!"  The child continued to talk but now with a little bit of stress and whine in her voice. Again, her mother's only response was to raise her voice and yell, "Shut UP!" The young child stopped talking. I went around the corner and saw the little girl, her eyes filled with tears. Can you imagine,  if that mom talks to her child like that in public, what goes on in the privacy of the home? Can you imagine, also, how that little girl will talk to her children if she becomes a mother.

Remember when Popeye would suck up his spinach through his pipe and shove Bluto up a chimney?
Remember when Might Mouse would fly in and spin the meany cat into the sunset?
Remember when Richelle E. Goodrich said, "Be nice. And if you can't do that, just don't be mean."

"If you can't make the world a better place, just don't make it worse!"

June 05, 2014

Back Into Art

Let's get it straight. The title of this post is not to mislead you that I, in any way, am really putting my BACK into anything! Even my vacuum cleaner is self-propelled!

I've created a little studio for myself. My fingers, imagination and creativity are deep into art. For the most part, I am working with clay, though I am doing some drawing and painting.  (don't tell anyone, but I am also dancing...a lot....because it is my studio and because I can!

Several years ago I made a couple of wall Rosaries. I donated the first one to the church and it was sold at auction for $150 (or so). The couple that bought the Rosary gave it to a young woman who had just lost her husband to cancer and had 4 young children. I made another Rosary for them for their kind gesture.

At that time several other people asked me if I was going to make more to call them. They were interested in purchasing one. For some reason (dumb) I never did follow-up.

I started creating them again about 2 months ago. The priest at a local church wants me to display and sell them at the church bookstore. A couple of people have actually commissioned Rosaries and yesterday I sold one for $200.

A good friend wants me to build a business around my artwork. He is the CEO of his own nation-wide business that he built from scratch. He was also an advisor for SMART, a small business advisory service.

He was talking packaging, marketing, hiring help and really hitting the ground running. While it felt good to have someone see the potential and appreciate my art, I want to just keep it art. I don't want to make it WORK. 

I have parts and pieces for 4 more Rosaries that just need to be strung, then its back to the supplier for more clay. Can't wait to get my hands dirty.

I always liked playing with dirt!


Within the month, we will be great-grandparents! I am a little overwhelmed! Not by being a great grandparent but by the title.

I think back about my own great-grandmother and great-grandfather. Great-grandpa was a tall man, six foot five, just like my youngest son. He owned a room his was in but not so much by his size as by his grace and quiet strength. He exuded an Aura of Safe, if I can say that.

Great-grandma was four foot eleven. She was tiny and yet she was bigger than life. She would sit at the table with family playing poker with a little shot glass of whiskey near her pile of coins. Her poker face could win awards except when she looked at any of us kids. Her pride and love shined when she looked at us or talked to us.

She built her own sod home in a prairie of New Mexico. She cut the sod along-side Great-grandpa, and stacked it. She was a bootlegger and had a cave carved into the hill behind their home where they stored the liquor. She had a tatoo of Our Lady of Guadalupe on her forearm! Yes, my little great-grandmother sported a tat when even most men did not display art or lover's names on their bodies. Maybe she thought the tatoo went along with the little derringer she kept in her garter!

When I was a very young girl, I remember standing next to Great-grandma's chair eye-level with her hands. Her hands reminding me of the gnarled roots of an ancient tree. The thought that I wanted my hands to look just like hers when I was her age embedded itself in my mind. Those hands declared to the world "I have lived life to the fullest!"

Great-grandpa would get up early every morning and make a pot of coffee. When the coffee was ready, he would fill a cup of the hot liquid and take it to Great-grandma in bed.  They would sit in bed and talk about the day. They shared a great and deep love for each other and for family. I don't ever remember a harsh word escaping the lips of either one of them.

Great-grandma came to visit us in California when she was in her 90's. I remember her wearing high-top tennis shoes (Keds) and jumping from rock to rock with us kids in the surf.

Great-grandpa was diagnosed with lung cancer when I was about 3 or 4. The doctor told him that he had about 6 months to live. He told the doctor that dying was not on his agenda and lived for another 6 or 7 years.

Their lives and their stories were almost mystical and mythological!

Yes, The title of Great-grandparent is definitely going to be hard to live up to.

Red Letter Days

Do you remember all your red-letter days?  Do you remember your emotions, what you wore, maybe momentous moments during the event itself?

One of our granddaughters graduated from 8th grade yesterday. Her mother was remembering her 8th grade graduation and the gifts she received from her father and me.  I bought her tickets for her and a friend for an AHA concert (also one for me!).

The concert was at the Concord Pavilion and it was glorious! I loved watching my daughter's joy more than the concert itself.

Yesterday was a little like that AHA concert. Our granddaughter shined but so did her mom. I enjoyed watching my daughter's joy and pride as much as watching her daughter dressed "all-grown-up"! It really was a pretty special evening.

My husband noticed that I was watching my daughter's reactions to the event. He put his arms around me and whispered, "I know!"  We both got a little tear in our eyes.

I thought back to the 8th grade graduations of our grandson and oldest granddaughter.  There was overwhelming love in our younger son's eyes and posture as he watched his oldest daughter walk across that stage to get her diploma. Next year he will have two graduations. His youngest will be graduating from middle school and his oldest will be receiving her diploma from high school.

Our grandson's graduation was very emotional. We were all so proud of him, shared his dreams for leaving home to study in Sacramento three weeks later. His step-father, a man who really loved him was in the middle of chemotherapy for a stage 4 cancer and was too weak to climb the risers.  Several months later our grandson had to return home to care for his stepfather and mother, who's cancer had returned.  In spite of not finishing school, the death of his step-dad and countless other crushing events in his life, he is now doing what he wanted to do anyway. We are very proud of him and his resilient spirit.

My oldest son's oldest daughter will be graduating from middle school next year, too. Everyone is growing up so darn fast!

2014 and 2015 are big years for our family. Our grandson is expecting a baby daughter any moment, 4 graduations, a niece leaving for New Zealand to study and possibly a granddaughter leaving home for college.

Time is flying by fast. It makes me feel as if I should tie a rope around my waist, and the other end to a tree, so that I don't fly off the earth as it spins, seemingly, faster and faster.