Note: I read all comments and respond to most. --- New posts every 10 to 15 days...except when life decides to get in my way by dropping a log into my pond.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reliable as Rain Falling Down, Not Up

Does anyone punch holes in the top of large juice cans anymore? You know, with the "other side" of that old bottle cap opener, the pointy triangle end. As a child, it amazed me that to get the juice to pour out of the can nicely, rather than just a blub...blub...blub, a second hole had to be punched in the top of the can across from the first. There was a right way to do it and it worked wonders!

Today you buy coffee or a latte to go and the lid has a tiny hole across from where you sip. I usually don't give it much thought until I tip my cup and not much of that invigorating espresso with the yummy caramel flavor seems to hit my mouth. That's when I immediately inspect that teeny little hole to make sure it's open. It was certainly the right way to make those lids.

Know what makes it right? Because for every inflow there has to be an outflow, and vice versa. It is a law of physics - no less impacting than when Newton said, "what goes up, must come down."

I love to write. What writer doesn't? Then what in the world could possibly stop the flow of those beautifully orchestrated metaphors and lingering states of suspended disbelief I know I am so capable of? And yet, at times, the writer in me just does one of those blub...blub...blub's. That's when I inspect my teeny little hole to make sure it's open, and possibly even make it a bit larger.

If I want to receive anything I need in my life, I know I have to give. That's right. It's another one of those crazy physical laws like Newton's. I will need to get completely away from the narcissistic side of my personality that thinks what I'm currently doing is all important, and freely give. Albeit, this may seem to be a might difficult in this particular moment, since I'm right in the middle of confronting my own worst enemy: writer's block or, what's right block.

Actually, I have found this to be a perfect time to go to one of my social networks to see who's asking for an opinion, or perhaps initiate some new discussion, or maybe even let another artist know how much I enjoy their work. What a fantastic playground to relieve my stress and simply... give! Rather than visiting my writers' group for help, on this occasion I look for how I can help someone else. Usually this causes a far greater influx of writing possibilities than anything I ever give out.

Not only have I found my teeny little hole, but I cleared it, and even made the opening a bit larger. My writing flows just right. How? By freely giving. The Law of Giving stops the blub...blub...blub and is reliable as rain falling down, not up :~)

Monday, December 13, 2010

One Tiny Tweak

It only takes one tiny tweak to change the course of any life. If I am traveling a straight line and I veer off of it by even a fraction of a degree, at some point that new line I'm on will be miles away from the original. When constructing a building, veering would not be wise. That is one reason masons use string when laying brick. But when a person feels worn out, frustrated and is frequently complaining about life, it's definitely time for a tweak. And isn't it a great relief to realize it'll only take one. teeny. tiny. tweak. to change the direction of your life? to become who you dream of being?

The easiest change to make in all of our daily habits and routines, is to vary the order of just one thing, and the new line is drawn. Such a small adjustment to make. But we are creatures of habit, and to move a regular afternoon routine to the morning, for example, can be quite an undertaking. It's easier if looked at as a one-time adventure, keeping in mind that it's just the one. tiny. tweak. that will absolutely be worth more than any of the discomfort that is felt, when all is said and done.

I made just such a tweak one day last March. I did my grocery shopping on a completely different day than my usual Saturday, and in the morning instead of the afternoon. Many different and interesting little things happened that day, bringing about another tweak in April. I simply joined Facebook. But that's where I met a really cool friend who does a food blog and I became her copy editor. By August I believed I could do my own blog. So, now I'm finally back to writing... after nearly a 30 year break... joined a couple writers' groups, and have decided to write my first book. I am doing what I always dreamed of, and all I did was go to the grocery store at a different time than I usually went. Imagine that.

Perhaps, if you tell me about the one tiny tweak you're deciding to do - however small it may be - it will inspire others to do their own, and help me to tweak some more, too :~)

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's a Beginning

I figure I have to start somewhere - with my nonfiction novel that is. But that means dialogue, which I've never even tried before. So here it is... my baby steps... at least it's a beginning.

My ex decided not to bring Christa back that day.  She had just turned four in April, and ironically, it was Mother's Day.  I had a mind to just show up at his parents' farm.  I knew that's where he had taken her.  One slight problem in getting there - my car had just been totaled.  It was a hit and run while parked out in front of the duplex I called home.  My roommate, who had been working late, quietly and calmly woke me up in the middle of the night with her most serious tone of voice.

"Kathy... Kathy... Did you park your car up on the grass last night?!"

I had heard her talk that way only a couple of other times over the past ten months since we met.  She was a young single mom like myself, with a daughter not yet two.  We had decided to rent a place together only half a block from where we both worked. 

"Did I what?? What are you talking about? That's crazy."  I turned over to go back to sleep.

"Yeh, uh, I thought so too," she went on, "but then I got to thinking, I'd better wake her up and tell her, 'cause if she didn't park it there, then someone else did... and maybe she doesn't know it. So that's why I'm tellin' you now."

"Colleen..." I took a deep breath. "That's not something to be waking me up out of a sound sleep and joking about."

"Oh, it's no joke.  I would never joke about something like this."

I sat up, scrutinizing her face for some clue that would give away her uncanny attempt at getting a laugh.

"You might want to come and take a look," she added, still in that calm, serious tone.

I did.  We did.  Then I phoned the police.  My old red Pinto had been pushed a good 50 feet from where I had parked it on the street that evening, and there was white paint left behind on my scrunched rear fender from the other car.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Review: Conversations with My Dog

I often coin the phrase "conversations with a dog," referring to what my husband and I both do when we are in relaxing conversation or enjoying a movie, and our attention is diverted by our lovable Cocker, Ginger, thinking she needs to get in on it. More than once I've commented that I thought this quip would make a great book title, so today I googled it. I found one written by a motivational speaker and author I was quite familiar with, so I read it. Here is my review of Conversations with My Dog by Zig Ziglar:

When deciding to read Zig Ziglar's book, I think there are 2 necessary ingredients the reader must have:

1) You don't want this to be your initial exposure to Zig Ziglar; i.e. you would have to be somewhat acquainted with him, at least through his other books, to know what to expect from these conversations. Then, they actually become quite humorous.

2) You would need to have some understanding of what it is to own, love and live with a small dog. Without that experience, it would be more difficult for the mind to actually understand and "allow" these particular conversations.

Having said this, I believe that small dogs (such as his Corgi) would not be so verbose, as he makes his out to be, especially if they're beginning to tire or get frustrated. I also believe it would've been more effective to introduce the human-comparisons in each scenario as reflective thought at the end of the day - away from the dog - rather than interrupting my suspended disbelief, at that somewhat intimate moment in time when the conversation is taking place with his dog. Each incident would then have been more of a fabled tale or anecdote with the moral given at the end of it all, making it much easier to glean the gems of insight and truth.

Sometimes I feel we, as writers, need to do just one more re-write, for that is where truly great writing lies: in the re-writes!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Want to Write But... (conclusion)

Don't ask. You know... about the bulbs. Mom? She's fine - sort of. Harder to "deal with," I suppose. Doesn't hear so well - if at all for that matter. (But she can somehow hear her books just fine. Go figure!) Refuses to get hearing aids; has it all reasoned out as to why they were never meant for her. Takes a Lipo-something nutritional her sister sent to help improve hearing. It doesn't. But she doesn't realize how placebo it is, because she has very limited short-term memory (among her many other interesting ailments that she's decided no doctor is allowed to address). Did that actually make any sense? If I sound stressed about it, I'm not; but some tell me I might be in denial.

Ahhh... now here's the *real* question: Am I finally writing? Well... sort of. At least you're reading it! And, I thank you:~)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Yes, I Really Do Have a Koi Pond

It was the end of February, a leap year, when we moved from the rental on the far north end of town into our own home just 8 miles south.  The ground was thawing, at least just enough to dig a hole for the pond that would be the new home of our 7 koi we acquired the previous summer: Fuego, Azul, Ninja, Wasabi, Cochise-Shadow, Bogie and Bacall.

There were over a dozen large Comet (gold fish) in the backyard pond when we moved into that 1970's tri-level rental, but they had been slowly disappearing.  We discovered a Great Blue Heron had been making its rounds every evening, taking the golden feast back to its hungry nestlings.  After searching out the many possible deterrents to save the fish, we chose the Rosie Method.  Over 30 tiny sacrificial Rosie Goldfish were purchased to join the few Comets remaining in the 1000 gallon contoured pond.  Swimming closer to the surface, the Rosies would easily become the next meal for "Big Bird's" family, serving as decoys while protecting their more expensive cousins. 

The Great Blue quit coming by mid-summer, but a terminal illness struck the pond, taking the lives of the last 3 Comets. We decided to purge the water and add lots of new good bacteria to prepare for genuine koi. That's when we introduced Fuego and Azul to their new home.

Fuego got his name because of the silvery specks that flash atop his body of red and black spots set against a cream background.  He also would jump quite high when we first brought him home; we thought he was "full of fire."  Azul is similar in color, but without the silvery specks. She carries a slight tinge of blue hidden just beneath the translucent cream of her head.  Both fish are fantails, which the Japanese do not recognize as "real" koi, so we conceded somewhat by giving them Spanish names.  This led to us buying 2 more.

Ninja was a pure black genuine Japanese koi with one small red-orange spot on its side.  You would never really see him coming; he'd just suddenly appear.   Wasabi is another genuine Japanese koi.  He's black with the pattern of a white fish skeleton from head to toe, and swims with a saucy-spicy attitude.

At this point we were hooked, so we brought home 3 more. My husband and I couldn't agree on the name of the beautiful, burnished brown (char-goi), fantail.  Kelly thought he was somewhat stealthy, like the Indian, Cochise.  I thought he was stealthy and obscure like The Shadow of 1930's radio fame.  He's actually quite friendly, so we let our guests decide which name fits best.  Which brings me to Bogie and Bacall.  Both are yellow and golden-orange domestic koi, that really stand out wherever they go, whether exploring, swimming or just relaxing.  Not sure exactly, but they remind us of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

There we have it.  All 7 of our koi that had to move because we were moving.  But koi hibernate in the winter.  They don't completely stop moving, but they don't eat much, so their immune system is at its lowest.  It's very risky.  We were only given one month to install a pond at our new place, then the fish had to move - hibernation or not.

The ground is still pretty hard here in March, but Kelly managed to get a huge pit dug out under our Aspens by the front door, where we sunk a 300 gallon livestock tank that became our koi pond, complete with filter and air stone.  By the end of March, we had transported 6 "sleepy" fish.  That's right, I said 6.  Ninja, just like his name implies was simply out of sight, not found when we scoured the old pond (sigh).  If you look really close, you can see all six coming over to say "hi."

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to tell you... thirteen heroic Rosies survived to enjoy their new surroundings, hanging with the big fish, under the Aspens.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Just a Little Bit More, Huh!

Okay, I've made claims that I am (or was) a poet, so I figure I had better come clean or produce some evidence. This one has been my most controversial, with the need for a little deeper thinking than one may realize at first glance.  It's easy to assume I'm speaking of a baby dying, but am I?


The first breath of spring
And baby's first cry,
God's blessed that couple
I wonder why?

Love holds many wonders
When the young are in mind,
Engagement then marriage
And fam'lies left behind.

The cold wind of winter
And baby's last cry,
Is God an Indian giver?
One would wonder why?

I actually do have a lighter side; for example:

The Gallant Knight

He looked so fair
Upon his young mare
So gallantly charging.
The crowds all cheering
His enemy sneering
As he came bravely on.

His horse - it reared
As the black knight neared
And he raised his gleaming lance.
One or two blows?
Nobody knows
Save a maiden who misses her Jon.

All for now... I will need to work on this just a little bit more, huh!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Want to Write But... (continued)

Nearly a week since the bulb count was just over 150 and all of them looking for their blankets. Are you wondering if they're freezing and alone? Alone, yes. Freezing? Almost. Still in paper bags. You see, it snowed. And then... it snowed again. And then? Well, Mom needed to get packed to go to my bachelor brother's home for 10 days to visit (yaay!). That means time off from my mom-care-giving and moving on to bulb-care-giving.

The next day, a phone call from my brother. Then, the day after that: a road trip 45 miles south to his house. Why? Oh... we told ourselves that it was to watch back-to-back football games on his slightly larger TV and have "NY style pizza," but it was actually because Mom forgot to pack what she called,  "something absolutely critical."  It was her deodorant. Seriously. That's okay. Brother said he'd get it at the store. But... there was one other thing... her special Avon dusting powder! Okay. She'll just have to go without, we agreed. But... yes, another "but" (and this is really the biggest one of them all)... she wanted to know if there was any way her latest audio books could be forwarded to her, since they hadn't arrived yet before she left. They had been ordered in time from the Library Services for the Blind, but there was no mail delivery the day before. So, she had packed three older ones having told me those would be fine. But, we were all very aware that listening to her books is the only activity that keeps her happy (when not talking or eating)... and, believe me, I wanted to keep her happy while she's with my brother. So, my husband and I made the trip down there to watch football and eat pizza... oh yeah, and as long as we were going anyway, we brought her books (all 12 of them), and her powder AND even her deodorant. We all agreed not to let her know that I was coming. It worked. She nearly cried.

It was quite dark when we arrived home, so I was thinking, "that's okay, tomorrow's a nice enough day for tending to bulbs." Monday comes, and so does - you guessed it - more snow. Go figure. I can hardly believe that the weathermen (all of them) were wrong. But, no matter. I actually do have a plan, and it doesn't even involve causing a massive heat wave to thaw out the ground. There just happens to be a large quantity of undesignated topsoil still sitting in my driveway from this last July. Uh, did I say "topsoil?" Actually, it's nearly half sand mixed with dairy manure, affectionately referred to as "Colorado topsoil." I wouldn't want someone to get the idea it's that wonderfully rich black soil found back in the Midwest - the kind of soil I thought I was getting when I ordered it. (sigh) But the good news is, after much internet research, I discovered that this mix would actually work as the perfect medium for bulbs to "sleep in" till February gets here. How about that! I only need to shovel it into these large plastic bins we have in the garage, then submerge the bulbs. All 150+ of them. Maybe even before Mom comes home.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Want to Write But...

...over 200 bulbs to plant, and running out of time!! What was I thinking?!! (sigh)

Wednesday, November 10

Cold, cold, cold.  The Cold is upon us now - for sure.  A 70% chance of snow by 5:00 tonight and all day tomorrow.  What am I to do with over 150 spring bulbs still sitting in various bags, waiting to feel the blanket of earth about them? (sigh)

[The grammar of it all: Recently I discovered that the seasons of the year are not capitalized unless to begin a sentence or when used as the name of a person or place. Surprised? I was.]

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Who Thinks These Things Up!?

Recently I came across a term/job title I wasn't familiar with - User Experience (UX) Designer - so I checked it out in Wikipedia (of course):

     User experience design most frequently defines a sequence of interactions
     between a user (individual person) and a system, virtual or physical,
     designed to meet or support user needs and goals, primarily, while also
     satisfying system requirements and organizational objectives.

Among my too-many-to-name jobs that I've had over the years, User Experience Designer was never one of my position titles... as far as I know.  And when it comes to writing, I would suppose that a technical or How-to book might qualify for such an entitlement, but I have written neither.  In some of my employment, I've been a waitress, an accountant, and even a retail salesperson.  When I "ponder deeply," I begin to realize that I actually have been what I never knew I was: a User Experience Designer.
  • A waitress/food server is the liaison between the guest (user) and the cook (system designed to meet needs), primarily taking care of the customer while, at the same time, satisfying the manager/owner's (organizational) objectives.
  • An accountant - a good one - defines the transactions made by an individual/company with a program designed to primarily support their needs and goals, while still satisfying IRS (organizational) requirements and objectives.
  • A retail salesperson - again, a good one - is defining for the customer (user) a system (perhaps a 3-step skin care/makeup regimen) that is designed to primarily meet the individual's needs/goals, while still satisfying the quotas/demands (organizational objectives) of management or a company.
Guess I'm not as out of touch with today's hi-tech as I thought, and certainly more than I ever would've  given myself credit for.  But I do have a question: Who in the world has the time to sit around thinking these things up?  (And probably even gets paid for it nonetheless!)

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    The Architect of My Soul - Canvas or Drawing Board

    Today I pull out the blank canvas. I need to repaint my life - again. Maybe I need to see things bigger this time; maybe I'm more than just a painter. Perhaps I should decide to be the architect - the one who plans, designs, and takes the oversight of the construction. Then I won't be having to revisit this subject - again. That's gotta be the answer.  I'll just become "The Architect of My Soul." (Of course, I say this as if I was the first one who's ever coined the phrase.)

    So no blank canvas today. Instead, I'm sitting up to a blank drawing board. I'm actually more familiar with this medium anyway. I took 2 years of mechanical drafting in high school, AND, I was quite good at it I might add. But first, before I lay it all out, I must plan. That will take some serious consideration and thought and... time. Already this seems to be involving much more effort than I'm willing to put into it right now. (sigh)

    Perhaps painting would be simpler after all - definitely easier. HGTV always points out how the easiest way to change where you live is: paint. The only plan needed is to decide a color scheme, and I already have one picked out.  It's relatively simple just to stick with what I know I already like.

    Meanwhile, back to the drawing bo--- or, uh, I mean, ...blank canvas!  Right? So, I'm going to repaint my life. Right? Wait a minute... then what have I really changed? I'm just going to 'stick with what I know I already like" anyway. Isn't that the path I've taken before? Isn't this why I decided in the first place to pull out the blank canvas today? And, isn't it because of all these things that I concluded I actually need an architect? Yes, I believe so. And... that would be me; I'm the architect (and I'm not referring to The Matrix). I am:

    The Architect of My Soul.

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    My Mother is Like a Pack of Cigarettes (sigh...and I don't even smoke anymore!)

    I'm an in-my-own-home caregiver for my nearly 85 year old mother. She is blind (but insists on still wearing glasses... go figure), has very poor hearing (but won't wear hearing aids... naturally), has one replacement knee and the other not working too well (because of a cyst that she won't have removed), one hip's been replaced and the other's always stiffening up (because of how much time she stays in bed), and numerous stomach/digestive pains (but not possibly related to her daily consumption of peanut butter cheese crackers, chocolates and sugar wafers).

    I haven't even mentioned the 5 medications she takes (some over 15 years) for high blood pressure, arrhythmia, aortic stenosis, shortness of breath, water retention and low thyroid. She also manages to do just enough of her own personal care so as to not qualify for Medicaid, but not quite enough for me to work a career outside the home. Caught in the cracks... sort of.

    Like a pack of cigarettes (to a smoker): needful, but when you wish they weren't, that's when they seem to be the most.

    Oh yeah, and she's always telling me how she wasn't supposed to live past the age of 75, saying, "if there's no quality of life, there's no purpose anymore."

    Like a pack of cigarettes (to a former-smoker): when you see them lying around, you wonder why they're still there. Not that I look at her that way - oh, no - that's how she sees herself, for God's sake!

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    Late Night Contemplation

    The first words written of the first day of my first blog... so much to think about and then searching for the best words to convey what has been building for so many, many years.