Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Day 2 shopping for rings

We walked to local shops. They needed to choose their wedding rings so we walked around. I noticed that Japanese people are a lot less raucous than Americans. It's all a blur, now, though it happened only yesterday. I'm pretty sure we had breakfast and lunch, but I can only remember dinner. I wasn't feeling particularly brave, so ordered an egg dish: a mound of rice covered by scrambled egg, and over that was catsup. Not exactly yummy, but nevertheless edible.

We had done a lot of walking, and by the end of the day I was wiped out, probably in part because of jet lag, possibly also because we're getting to be old!

Day 1. Getting there

The green lot. There was no shuttle bus waiting for us, so he thought there simply were no shuttles. Quiet panic, we'll miss the plane! But of course there was a shuttle, and we got there in plenty of time.

Columbus to Detroit. We got to the gate in Detroit and it felt like we were already in Japan. Because of course the announcements would be in English and Japanese. Most of the people boarding were Japanese.

Twelve butt numbing hours in the cramped economy seats. At least everybody got a pillow, blanket, sleep mask, and ear buds. And plenty of food; not very tasty though.

Flying over Alaska was cool - the mountains were spectacular. Finally we landed. It was a very smooth landing for such a huge (747) plane. After leaving the plane we were herded through customs, which turned out to be much less stressful than I anticipated. And then over to baggage claim where everybody's luggage had already been neatly removed from the carousel.

Dave and Isami were waiting for us, we were soon on a bus for a two hour ride to the hotel.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

yikes



It's the trip of a lifetime, and it is almost upon us. All of my loved ones called tonight and wished us a bon voyage. Pretty much they called at the same time, too! That was an interesting and lovely bit of temporary chaos.

For the past two days I've been hard at work in my workroom. Jamie, my last customer delivery, came by to get her things and asked about the trip. When she saw what I was planning to wear to the wedding, she got a bit, um, bossy and motherly (?) toward me. Said I must wear a long skirt to go with the elegant top I intend to wear. Then picked out my jewelry. Then told me how to do my hair. Yikes! It was smiles all around, but I appreciated her assertiveness. Because, you see, I can make everybody else look good, but I'm lousy at doing it for myself.

I had forgotten about the black crepe in my fabric storage, and discovered I also had enough black lining. So I made the black skirt. Do you know I've never worn floor length anything my entire life? Except jeans and that sort of thing. The hair? Well, it is what it is. I tie it back. It is too fine and thin for anything else. The necklace? I'll just say that I'll be bringing a bit of mom's energy to the wedding.

And that's all for tonight.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

aaaaaaanticipation




Bags are partially packed. I have a few Japanese words and I can eat with chopsticks (not necessarily neatly, but manageably).  Neck pillow, ear buds, and book for the plane.

We looked at each other in disbelief, because neither of us can still believe we're going to Japan. It's hard to imagine this. When I mentioned to Dave that I feel like I'm preparing to travel to another planet, he said I'd feel like that a bit when at the airport in Tokyo.

At another level this is a lot more than "just" a trip to Japan for a week. Let me explain. If you know me at all, you know I'm pretty much a loner, quite happy to spend my days with books, a bike, fabric, and a camera. My interior life has fed me well over the years. In my imagination I've traversed the universe, including places that the universe itself has yet to discover. But my exterior life? Not so much. A couple of trips to Canada, excursions to places all around the United States, but nothing more. To tell the truth, much as I enjoy those trips, I'm always glad to get home again. You know; books, bike,  fabric, camera.

Now my exterior life is going to line up a little more closely with my interior life in a way I never dreamed possible. There is a sense of anticipation, not of the trip itself, but of expanding my own consciousness. Is this the kind of anticipation that might occur when we transition to our next phase of existence? I wouldn't be surprised.

Somewhere inside my eyelids there are tears of joy. They might leak out.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

raw fish



Yes, I will eat raw fish if that is what is presented to me. I'm told it's delicious. We are the only animals that seem to want to cook their meat before eating it. If bears and eagles and all manner of critters can eat their prey without cooking first, then I guess I can do it too.

But somebody else will have to go first, and I'll wait and make sure they don't throw up or fall to the floor dead...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

soon tea



As I struggle with a few Japanese words, I remember the young woman, a new waitress at our favorite Chinese restaurant. I asked for tea, and somehow she took it to mean something else. Sort of. She came back with a smile and gave me my "soon tea." What she gave me was a cup of hot water. Smiles all around, but then we had to work on getting me some "now" tea, not "soon" tea. I get what she was doing as she was struggling with English, and was actually impressed with how she put those words together, even though I really didn't want a cup of hot water.

I hope the Japanese will be as patient with me as I was with the Chinese waitress. Also, I promise I won't try to be a waitress! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

I have arrived version 2



I ate my breakfast with chopsticks today. Scrambled eggs. I'm ready for my trip to Japan.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

I have arrived. My dream said so.



That recurring stress dream surfaced again. I'm a teacher and chaos rules. The kids won't behave, or there are no books and/or supplies. It has cropped up many times over the years, and I understand it's significance.

It happened again. A small classroom, no books, no supplies, no windows, no nothing except some kids that just wouldn't quiet down. I even swore at them. They weren't malicious; just exuberant. Even somewhat friendly. I tried working with that. Nothing helped.

And then I knew what to do. I quit. I walked out of the classroom.

It was that simple.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

not quaking in my boots



I've always hoped that when it's my time to die, it would be quick, and with intact wits. That doesn't mean I want to be in an airplane crash or in an earthquake.

Sigh

We'll be flying to Japan. And Japan just had a couple of major earthquakes. As soon as I heard, I calculated the distance from the epicenter to Tokyo, where we'll be visiting. 700 miles.

Next I got a note from my son: "You might be glad to know that the hotel we are staying in was built to be "earthquake proof," and that the reason there are so many tall buildings around it is because that's considered to be one of the most seismically stable parts of Tokyo. That's relatively speaking, of course."

I think Ohio is more stable seismically than any part of Japan. On the other hand, we've got more gun toting fools here than there are in Tokyo.

I guess I'll take my chances.

Friday, April 15, 2016

spring



spring will be visiting us in our home today
the temperature is predicted to reach 70 degrees, and I will open the windows
and breathe deeply

I never know
nobody ever knows
when will be the last time to open windows
for the first time in a new year

and so I celebrate today
with whatever it brings
for whatever ordinariness prevails

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Soul



She was ready

She was guided to a space in the middle of the mountain
a space prepared especially for her, big enough for her
and no more

she entered that space
and the mountain closed in around her
permanently sealing her in

for how long?
as long as necessary

she was yet alive
though her body needed no air, no nourishment, no water
she endured the feelings that accompanied no air, no food, no water
but discovered their lack caused no harm

after a few minutes
or perhaps after a few centuries
she reached out to the mountain that surrounded her

her task was to listen to the mountain
to somehow learn how to send her spirit into the mountain
and become the soul of the mountain

after a time...
a few minutes or centuries...
mountain time is difficult to quantify...
after a time her guide placed a black panther
into the space where she resided
this panther curled up along side her
and stayed beside her
comforting her with warmth
and a deep vibrating purr

she wondered
is that fair for the panther
to be sacrificed in this manner?
"Yes", she was told.
"You are an immortal, and the panther race considers 
aiding an immortal 
an almost indescribable honor."

and so they stayed together in the heart of the mountain
for eons
or perhaps a few minutes
the concept of time had melted away from consciousness

the mountain soul evolved
and became able to pass through the rock 
and see the outside world once again
though it was still the soul of the mountain
residing in the heart of the mountain

as she watched the mountain slowly weather and erode
and eventually crumble into sand
she pondered herself, the mountain's soul
a guide watched with her and explained
the mountain soul resides inside each grain of sand
you are the same soul as when the mountain was tall and intact
you will be that same soul when the great forces of Gaia
crush and melt the sand and thrust up a new mountain

so look deeper at yourself
you are soul, and you are Soul
we are all Soul
One Soul
waking up again

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hind and Sidat



Sidat appeared unexpectedly at my door one morning, holding something fabricy. Could I make a dress for his wife, using this one as a pattern? I invited him in, and we discussed. I would need to see her to verify some measurements. Could that happen?

Sidat returned with Hind, his wife. This was a Muslim couple preparing for their required once in a lifetime Hajj, and she was in need of a required white wardrobe.  (Why is it always the woman, but that's a topic for another time.) She was quite modest with the long dress and a head covering, which she wouldn't even lift so I could take a neck measurement. I did the best I could.

When she returned for another fitting, she came with her daughter. This time she quite easily removed her head covering. I guess it had to do with her husband not being present. We got to work, and also had some delightful conversation. She spotted a piece of fabric I used as a bit of decor. It had Arabic writing on it. Do I know what it says? Of course not. But she and her daughter took a closer look and translated for me. I've long forgotten what the words were, but I can still hear clearly the melodic sound of their speech, which somehow seemed to be one with the artistic script of their written language.

Hind and Sidat left for their Hajj, but she told me she was so happy to find somebody to make her garments that she'd be coming to me when she returned for more work. I looked forward to that.

Time passed. Too long a time, it seemed to me. I thought about calling her daughter to see if Hind was ok, or to see if she simply changed her mind. And then I remember reading in the newspaper about a terrible fire that broke out and killed a number of people doing their Hajj duty at Mecca.

I never heard from Hind again. I don't know. I just don't know. And, I don't need to know.

Peace to you on your journey, Hind and Sidat, on whichever plane of existence it takes you.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Angie



She was young and pregnant. Because she was not married, she was kicked out of her house, by the parents who birthed and raised her. No matter that she and the father had plans to marry. She was invited into her aunt's home, and her aunt brought her to me to make a wedding gown for her. This was almost 20 years ago.

When we met, she wasn't able to tell me what kind of dress she wanted. It had to accommodate her pregnancy, and she just didn't know. I suggested she go back home (well, her temporary home), and just take a paper and pencil and draw what she wanted to look like. She did, and I was able to make the dress she desired. Her aunt told me it meant a lot to her to "design" her own gown under the circumstances. I'm pleased I was able to add to her honor and empowerment.

I suppose there are still rigid families like hers, though I haven't encountered any in my work. Many of the young women who come to me are already living with their boyfriends; some have held off marrying even until after they've had a child. It's just no big thing anymore.

Twenty years. I wonder what kind of mother Angie became. Did she mirror the kind of "love" she received from her parents, or did she adopt the kind of love received from her aunt. I imagine she has some interesting stories to tell. 

Thursday, April 07, 2016

trinitarian meditation



It's nice to sit on a bench in a park and watch the world go by. It's just as good to NOT sit on that bench and be part of the world going by. With a little bit of work, I can be in both places at the same time; doing...and observing the doing. Hmmm. Can I do a third part? Observing the observer? Sure! Why not! 

Sunday, April 03, 2016

cherry wine



The cherry wine is a little strong tonight. I hold the glass up to the light so my eyes can drink in the beautiful red color. Crystal clear red. Not too sweet.

Grandma had a cherry tree in her back yard. I climbed that tree, reached out further than was probably prudent to pluck those lovely cherries. Some of them even made it into the bag. Many years later we discovered a wild cherry tree, and those cherries made good wine, too. I haven't seen a wild cherry tree since then.

We pitted the cherries with a bobby pin. Now, though, we go to the farmers' market and buy a ten pound bag of frozen cherries. Already pitted. That's ok. I don't climb trees anymore.

So tonight I sit here and let my mind wander back into the day's events, drinking my wine, toasting the very good ordinariness of a day well done. Not too sweet. Just like the wine.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

and the wind blows


Powerful and destructive winds tonight. I'm glad we no longer live in the old neighborhood with large trees, though I do miss those trees. 

Climate change. The new dire predictions are for sea level rise of three feet by the end of this century. Naturally we will no longer be alive, but my great grandchildren will. Possibly even my grandchildren, though they'll be quite elderly by then. What will that be like? The disintegration of coastal cities, the mass migration of those residents to other areas, Florida...and that's only what will be impacted here in this country. 

What kind of parenting will be best suited for children born in the years to come?  Even now, even as I became aware of economic and political changes in the wind, some of the old ways weren't useful. The factory jobs that our fathers had that provided well for their families - nonexistent. 

So many problems to solve. Yet I sit here comfortably, drinking my wine, contemplating disasters that have not touched my own life, and quite possibly won't unless I live for an incredibly long time. 

Friday, April 01, 2016

old friends



A dear friend. Once upon a time she was a nun, a very intuitive supportive nun with a wicked sense of humor, a beautiful singing voice, and a surprisingly liberal outlook on life. She lived in the convent at the time I taught at the Catholic school, and the fact of our friendship threatened and enraged the principal, another nun from the same order. Grief visited both of us. She decided to return to the motherhouse in Louisville, and George and I loaded up our car with her belongings and drove her back there. The principal disliked our friendship before, but now she hated it, and challenged my teaching position. But I remained, to her frustration.

And then, in time, my friend quit being a nun. And then, she moved back to Nebraska, to her own birth home. We visited her once on our way to Colorado, afterward exchanging a few emails until our paths diverged. Years passed.

She called tonight. We caught up with each other's lives, and then the conversation ground to a halt. We are still friends in the eternal sense, but we have moved further along on our individual paths. I'm ok with that. What was - was good, and the memories are eternal. In fact, if I made my own rosary, she'd be one of the beads.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

becoming lucid



I had a dream. In that dream, I fell asleep and dreamed. While in that "dream once removed", I didn't know it was a dream. And so I woke up into the foundation dream. While in that foundational dream I didn't know I was dreaming. It was only when I woke up in the morning that I realized I had dreamed, and then dreamed that I dreamed.

So I wonder. Are we dreaming now and don't know it? Does asking this question mean I'm waking up?

Friday, March 25, 2016

spider friend



We were chatting when she suddenly focused her attention on my jacket, which I had tossed onto the side of the loveseat yesterday. "There's a bug in your jacket!" Looking closer, we saw it was a jumping spider. Now. I happen to enjoy jumping spiders. They're so cute - how can you NOT like them?  I shook the jacket by my computer to get the spider to drop and hopefully find a cozy nook to spend a few days. Twice over the years a jumping spider has spent some time near my computer. It'd make an appearance while I was working, and it seemed we just sat there looking at each other.
Nope. Never saw it jump, at least not the ones by my computer. The ones on the front porch? Different story; no less entertaining.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

slow progress


The problem with learning Japanese at this point is this: the sounds themselves don't relate to any of the sounds in English. When I learned Latin and German, it was frequently possible to find a hook, so to speak, a connection between the word in the other language and the corresponding word in English. Not so with Japanese. This may change as I learn more, but in this moment the only thing I can do is memorize a string of sounds that I'm told mean one thing or another.

As of now I can say...
good morning
hello
good evening
good night
good bye

It takes a full day of talking to myself to burn the sound of the word into this old brain. One day, one word. I won't be saying much in Japan! 

Monday, March 21, 2016

another language


Six weeks isn't nearly enough time to become Japanese literate. I'll learn a few phrases and hopefully remember to use them correctly at the right time. For the rest of the time? I'll just shut up, smile, and give a little bow. I'm told that making an effort will be greatly appreciated.

I remember the time of the "ugly Americans." Maybe we are again. Maybe we never stopped being ugly. I can't imagine what the very polite Japanese must think about certain aspects of our presidential primaries. On the other hand, maybe they aren't paying attention. I don't know which would be worse: paying attention or not paying attention. At least my soon-to-be Japanese daughter-in-law who speaks good English will be able to tell me. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

50


Fifty years ago this happened...

Friday, March 18, 2016

poop



I've got the most darlingest little neighbors - a little girl on one side, twin boys on the other.

There was a knock on the door. When I opened it, nobody was there, but there was a note on the porch with a bag holding it down. I brought it inside. The note was actually a picture of a bunny with the words "you've been bunnied". In the bag was a few pieces of Easter candy.

That required a response. I made chocolate/chocolate chip cookies. I put a few in three bags and delivered them to the kidlets. I told them the Easter bunny poops chocolate cookies. We all giggled, including one of the moms. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

karma



Our oldest is 48 years old today. It's a little daunting to consider that our sons are approaching middle age. How did that happen? Sons are supposed to be cute and chubby toddlers, or maybe outrageous teenagers, but not established middle agers. But they are. On the other hand, I remember telling my own mother that her daughter (me) is a senior citizen on Medicare.  I guess that's the karma thing: what goes around comes around.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

life on the wide screen


momentous

in a few days we'll be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary
in a few weeks we'll be celebrating our son's wedding...in Japan
in a few more weeks I'll presumably be celebrating my 10th year from my latest cancer diagnosis
in a few months we'll find out whether our country remains intact

at the same time, all around me my friends are struggling
one in hospice
another with a heart attack
a divorce
struggles with caring for grandchildren - the offspring of negligent parents

so much drama!

it takes a lot of courage to be fully human in the midst of all this, embracing both the joyful and the painful with open hearts, souls, minds

Sunday, March 13, 2016

99 bottles of beer on the wall



Well, ok, 43 bottles. And, well, cream ale. Close enough. We're getting pretty good at setting up the assembly line. Three people are ideal, and since we are two, we have to entice a third person over if someone isn't readily available. Fortunately, for beer, it's not a problem. So now the filled and capped bottles sit at room temperature for two weeks, then we can chill them. Also, the longer we wait, the better the ale will be.

What next? American light, most likely. It was the first beer I made, and it remains our favorite. The pale ale, which I tried next, was a bit hoppy. Maybe more than a bit. Someday I'll try my own recipes, 

Friday, March 11, 2016

the news



Good news: Obama blocked the sale of Apache land in Arizona to an Australian mining company.
Bad news: Trump inciting violence.
Currently these two things are not connected.
What will tomorrow bring?

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

serendipity



I've written enough about the annoyance of having the old computer die and getting a new one up and running. I've also written about the annoyance of not being able to work with my book in the manner I'm used to.

But it all came together. Yesterday we were able to turn my book into a pdf and place it in Dropbox. Although not finished, it's close, and I've shared it with those who seemed to be interested.

And just in time. I found out this morning that one of my friends is going into hospice care due to cancer metastasized in his liver. I offered him the link to my book. He said he couldn't wait to read it.

I know it's not really true, but I like to imagine the universe worked with me to get that book up in Dropbox in time for Cal to be able to read it and take whatever comfort the book wants to give him.

or maybe it is....

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

the computer giveth, the computer taketh away



In order for life to be better (at least for me), it must also be more complicated.

The book is being built (written?) in Indesign, which was working perfectly before the old computer broke and a new one had to be purchased, set up, etc. That was a minor low key nightmare I hope to never have to experience again in my lifetime. Or any others, for that matter.

I wanted to export the book as a pdf, something I had no trouble doing on the old computer. Indesign is complicated, most of what's on it I don't know, but I DO know the things I need to do in order to create the book. And now it won't export. Why not??????

Enter George, the love of my life and a computer consultant. If anybody can fix it, he can. But he doesn't know why it isn't working. At least not yet; he's never met a problem he didn't eventually solve.

The operational word here is eventually. He sits in front of my computer, peering into its guts, doing this and that, asking me occasional questions, and, more often, suggesting I did this or that. In my mind, it's a bit of an accusation of my ignorance. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. And I sit quietly aside as best I can, trying to be available, trying to understand what he's telling me. The problem is, most of what he's telling me isn't something I need to keep in my active brain cells. In addition, those active brain cells run and hide from this kind of nightmare.

So here's the thing. Years ago I would never have thought about writing a book. Life was a smaller stage than it is now. But the stage expanded when computers became household items. and then expanded again when digital cameras became reasonably available. Both of those are the tools necessary for me to create this book. That stage waited for me to grow up emotionally, do my inner work, find (create?) my muse, and recognize my own talents and abilities.

The thing is, now the computer is having a temper tantrum.
Let's hope I don't. 

Monday, March 07, 2016

the book



Here is the problem.

My book is almost done. It will be large; it's already over 300 pages. Can I pare it down? Sure, a bit will be removed in the editing process, but not that much. It is what it is and I'm pleased with it. So are the folks who have read some of the drafts. I've been challenged to get the damn thing done and out there. I just don't know how to do "out there."

I've rejected the idea of sending it to a publisher for consideration. Reasons? I don't want to play their games and submit to reshaping it to fit the media market, if that's even a real thing.

I've looked into self publishing. That's fine for smaller books, and, if there were no photos included, a less expensive paper could be used. I have a couple of self published books of that sort created by writerly friends of mine. They're well made books. I'm guessing my book would probably sell AT COST from a self publishing site at probably $75. I'm not doing that. Nobody would want to purchase it. My goal is to share my words as freely as possible. These are words of courage, of wonder, of imagination.

I can do an e-book and share at no cost. I might end up doing that. But my immediate problem is different. A dear friend is going blind. She has read some of the pages I've sent individually to her via email, and she is eager for more. She has made it clear that my words have helped her in her own journey - the path of a mother witnessing the death of her child because of cancer. But now she's dealing with an ever increasing blindness, and she can still read with a Kindle.

A Kindle. I don't have one, and am not looking to get one. As I understand it, it might be possible for her to read the book on her Kindle, but I might have to format it differently. For example, I couldn't use the fonts I'm using in the book. I don't know just how that would influence the page layouts. Also, any photos would have to be centered on the page. That won't work for me. Each page is thoughtfully organized with words and photos and is intended to stay in the positions I've given them.

I guess I could keep sending her individual pages via email, and that's what we'll talk about. She loves the organization of words and photos. She sees each page as it's own little piece of art. That is my intent.

That's all for now. I'm still writing the book, and it will be done in a three or four months. That's because it's based on a 10 year cancer journey. The end is in sight. During that time, I'll also try to educate myself on how to best share the book. 

Saturday, March 05, 2016

a curve on the path



This seems to be an appropriate photo of recent days. Just a path, nothing fancy, no great views. Just a path. But it's a peaceful path, easily navigated, with an attractive curve to please our eyes.

Just another pretty path.

Sometimes the days are like that, yes? Peasant, interesting, but nothing spectacular.

We visited our friend's lady love. She lives in a big, modernized farm house in some of the prettiest farmland in Ohio. The house and its contents were rather spectacular. Huge. The kitchen? A center island probably 20 feet long, and there was still lots of space. And oh my the living room. How shall I describe it? Have you ever gone to Cracker Barrel for a meal? Do you have a picture in your mind of the showroom that you first enter before going into the restaurant? Remember how crowded with...stuff...it is? Ok then. Imagine all the "stuff" is glass, displayed on all available surfaces. That living room was big enough for a square dance square with plenty of room to spare. Maybe two squares, even. There were two separate sitting areas, if you could find them amongst the incredible display of glassware.

So. She likes to collect glass. She also apparently likes to collect living space!

At one point we left the two men in the living room and we went back out to the kitchen and sat by a window, watching the birds at the feeder. We were getting to know each other. I asked her what she likes to do in her spare time. She said she likes to hang her laundry outdoors. Well, ok then! She's a friendly and gracious host, we'll undoubtedly meet again. It might become a challenge for me, given our widely different life preferences.

Well, that was one curve on the path. There are others. I'll write about them in time.


Tuesday, March 01, 2016

just a day



The wedding gown is done. The bride came over for one last try-on, was delighted, and now I have my workroom back.  Of course, now I have several pieces to alter for another customer. And a couple of small wall hangings to make and give as gifts to Isami's family when we visit in Japan. How cool is that!

I have no poetry, no dreams, no wonderings to share. Life is quiet, things are getting done. The wine is good, if still young, and the cream ale is bubbling away. Spring is beginning to appear. Crocuses are blooming in the garden, the garlic is up, the owls are doing their thing in the trees behind the house.  Tonight it is cold and the wind is howling, and for me that means a good night's sleep.

I'll just leave it at that. Life is good. I wish life could be good for everybody, in the deepest sense of "good." 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

found words


I wrote these words on April 25, 2006. I don't really care to tuck them in a timely manner into my blog, and I also don't want to lose them. I found them on an application on my computer, and lord only knows when the application will no longer work on my new spic and span computer. For that matter, who knows when blogger itself will  no longer work. Hmmmm. Who knows when my own typing fingers will no longer work. Oh well.

I was about to lose my hair from chemo. I had a couple of long distance friends who I connected with on a very deep artistic and spiritual level,  and shared my emotions with them. Some of these words will make their way into a book I'm currently writing. It will be complete when I see my oncologist later this year for my 10th year visit, at which time we'll say good-bye to each other, knowing I'm cured.

The hair goes today. I'm starting to shed. Lunch and tears with a friend, then home. Nobody wants to do what I want done, so I'll do it myself. I"m going to stand in front of a mirror and grab a hank and cut it off with scissors. Over and over and over again. I will cry. I"m crying now. Why the fuck do I cry about hair and not about two scars? No, that's not right. I did. I will have that goddamned camera on its fucking tripod and get some good shots angled at me watching myself in a mirror. the artist in me rejoices at being invited to be present to strong emotion and the artist knows how to capture it. At least in part. Right now I wish the camera was in your hands so I wouldn't have to be both right and left brained at the same time.

This is hard and I suspect it will be hard for you to read this. I'm not doing this to troll for support. Fuck support Pat can stand on her own two feet and do what needs to be done. I've done harder than this. Irene on the other hand is crying. Deeper than Pat, deeper than Irene, is the goddess who continues to dance, even when the music is dissonant, even when the dance floor is fucking warped and splintered. And if the banjo only had one string, the music would continue to flow.

I wrote this to Bruce a few days ago. Remember him? Gay artist/shaman with attitude?

I've got some strong words about those photos. Look at the pain. Look at it. And if you look at it with your eyes and heart open, you'll see spirit behind the pain. Don't stop at the body. Get over that. Don't shrink from the darkness of pain and wounds. Get over that. Keep going, keep going, until you get to the light. Anybody who is unwilling to look at the pain outside their own personal skin is also going to be unwilling to look at the pain in their own personal path. Yet as you know it's the only way to claim the light. So this is why this pudgy 62 year old woman bares her breasts, shows her pain, and invites others to walk their own similar path. The beauty of working with Edward is this. He sees things I miss. And that makes sense. We aren't isolate bits of flotsam in this universe. We're all connected, and life and love flow on the connecting energy. It gives a whole 'mother meaning to Jesus saying where two or more are gathered in my name...

My hunch is there is no purpose "out there" or "preordained". Purpose is infused into the raw material in this moment. We are artists. The fabric has no purpose until we pick it up and create with it. So with our lives. They are simply raw material. We ourselves give it meaning. IN acknowledging that, we are acknowledging our deep connection the the creative oneness of the universe.

It is scary living on the mountain top only if you believe the lies that you might fall off.

I need to write about that in a way that more than two people understand.


So. All this is for eleanor, who recognizes the connection between art and emotion. she can take these words as a preamble to photos to follow in the next few days, hopefully. tell her to just put this email in a corner of her palette and take from it when she needs it. maybe she won't. i have more colors on my own palette than i use. i'm ok. pissed, but ok. i hope i haven't read you wrong. i hope you can hang in for the ride for the sake of the art.  someday when this is all over something more may come of what we're doing. it has been suggested to me from others that whatever the hell this is needs to be shared. well, we'll see. that's not today's deal.

hugs to you. remember, all is well. the words are as much a part of this thing we're doing as the visuals. I'm not beginning a long conversation here. This is simply part of the art project. Whatever that is. And, strange as it sounds, it's not about me. 


Saturday, February 27, 2016

aging



We have a 78 year old friend, divorced, who is falling in love. We will meet his new lady love today.

We have another friend, 80, who has just been diagnosed with cancer. He will apparently be submitting to chemotherapy. I'm not sure I'd do that at age 80.

When I was much younger, I thought being old was about sitting in a rocking chair, knitting afghans for grand babies, and just gently waiting to die. I guess there's no way I could have known that adventures and journeys present themselves as long as we breathe. Maybe after, but I'll have to get back to you on that...

Friday, February 26, 2016

We can make our own decisions



I didn't expect this to happen.

A couple of days after making our airline reservations, we got a notice that one of the flights was cancelled, so they put us on another. Which would seem to be ok, yes?

No.
The flight that was cancelled was Tokyo to Los Angeles. Instead they put us on a flight from Tokyo to Atlanta. Did that mean our son, who lives in Seattle, and who was flying back with us from Tokyo to Los Angeles would also be routed first through Atlanta? I called him. No, the flight is still scheduled, and he's still on it. So why are we not? We thought about it, and figured it must have been one of the other shorter connecting flights that was supposed to get us back to Columbus was cancelled, so they had to reroute our whole trip. We weren't happy with that. We were willing to wait with a longer layover in Los Angeles if necessary to make the available connections.

And so I called them. Here's their reason. The route we selected had two stops to get us home. The one they chose instead for us had only one stop. I told them we WANTED that flight to Los Angeles, and we KNEW it involved two stops, rather than one, because dammit, we're flying home with our son, who IS on the flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles. And so she put us back on that flight.

But wait! We're not done! I asked about seating. She said we'd have to go back and select seats again, and she could probably get us near our son. Oh, but as of last night when we talked to him, the two seats you took away from us were still vacant. We want those seats back! And now we have them. I'm still waiting for a followup confirmation, though.

That just seemed so arbitrary on their end. We saw the routing options, we're adults, and we chose the one we wanted. Shouldn't that have been the end of it?

Lordy. Big Brother has taken over the airlines. But the badass grandma is more insistent than even Big Brother. And I was even polite through the whole conversation!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

nobody and everybody



I must remember that

there was a time computers did not exist in normal households
and nobody died because of that

there was a time when we had one phone tethered to the wall in the kitchen
and when we left the house, we didn't carry a phone with us
and nobody died because of that

we used to have three tv stations and p.b.s. if we had a box, and the stations went off at 11pm after playing the Star Spangled Banner
and nobody died because of that

we used to meet with our friends and actually talk with them, and not whip out cellphones and text other friends
and nobody died because of that

life was simpler
deeper
even with all the problems we didn't know we had
until we had cable to tell us about them

it's a mixed blessing, absorbing the good and the bad
I'm not sure as a species that we're up to the challenge
but in the end
everybody dies anyway

although I personally love life dearly and exuberantly
when my time comes
I won't fight it


Monday, February 22, 2016

Japan


It's hard to believe we're actually going to Japan. I presumed I wouldn't leave this continent in this lifetime, and actually had no desire to do so. The only places I dreamed of visiting were the South American mountains and the amazing geography of China. But it costs the world to go and do the kind of exploring I'd want to do and besides, these old legs couldn't do the exploring anyway.

But Dave is marrying a lovely young Japanese lady who we've already met and fallen in love with, so when we were invited, how could we say no?

We've purchased our airfare. Today we finished the applications for passports, and that was a bit of a hassle. I had to assume a high level of anal at their end, so had to be very careful. And that's ok, but my nerves were wracked. So be it. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

beauty path



On the 15th I wrote about a significant dream; a dream of sadly not choosing the beauty path. On the 16th we got a phone call from our son inviting us to attend his wedding in Japan.

We knew he was going to marry in Japan, but the conversation had been about it being a quiet thing that just the two of them would do, and we were advised to wait until a later time when they'd be able to spend time with us. I was glad for that, too, because going to Japan was just too intimidating for me to consider.

But I had that dream. And then he called. And we're going to Japan! That dream was practically a necessity, giving me the courage to keep moving forward on this adventure. I don't know how the universe knew and gifted me. Some would say God, but maybe that's what the universe is, or maybe that's what God is, or whatever. Maybe it my ability to pick up subtle vibrations from Dave. It wouldn't be the first time I'd unwittingly picked up subtle vibrations across the miles.

It will certainly be an adventure! He had suggested I could rent a kimono at the shrine for the ceremony, and that really sounded great! But then reality stepped in. Rental would be more than $200. I would have to monitor my coffee intake in the morning, because once wrapped in the kimono, there'd be no possibility for a bathroom break. My dear friend suggested either a catheter or Attends, but in the end we agreed that I'd just be myself. Truth be told? My women's lib spirit would have chafed in restrictive women's clothing, and we'd all be at risk of my sometimes unfortunate words or actions under those circumstances. That, plus her own mother isn't going to drop $200 on a shrine kimono. She'd rather spend the money on something she'd like. And I like her already! We won't be able to communicate in words, but I like her style.

The traditional meal after the wedding involves a fish, brought into the party still quivering to show how fresh it is. When we all see it, it is then sliced and we eat it. Oh dear. If they choose this meal, I'll first watch to see if anybody else falls to the floor dead, and, if not, then I'll attempt one bite, then probably wait for the vegetables to be passed. Oh dear. Oh dear.

I suspect we'll be eating a variety of foods that I won't want to know what they are. I told my son that if it was becoming difficult, we'd sneak over to McDonald's when their backs were turned. I avoid McDonalds, but in this case....

So now we've booked our flight and made an appointment for expedited passports. We've chosen the beauty path, with some help from the universe and our son. It is still intimidating. Expensive, too. But along with everything else, this is the year of our 50th wedding anniversary. We hadn't made any celebration plans. Now we don't have to. The universe is taking care of that, too.

Monday, February 15, 2016

remembering my choices



I'm on my way to history class. Last week was the first class, and all of us had to figure out where the classroom was; the building built like a bit of a maze. But we found it. This week I'm on my own, remembering the maze of the stairs and hallways, remembering the landmarks that indicated I was in the right place. But where was the classroom? I see a door, I look inside, but I don't remember if this is the right class. A professor is up front, but is it the right one? I don't know. Everything else seems to be right, but now I'm not sure of the class. I walk down the hall, thinking through the problem. At the end of the hall it opens out into a beautiful scene of landscaped gardens and towering castles. Gorgeous! But I have to go to class, so I ignore the scene and find a place where I can rummage through my bags, hunting for a piece of paper with room numbers, directions, something helpful. It's not helping, and then a new thought sails in. I've already got my degree. I don't need this class. But now the dream fades, and so does the beautiful landscaped gardens and castles. If only I had explored there, instead.
But the dream is over.
May I remember to explore beauty before my life is over.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

cold air, warm heart



It's cold today. Really cold. But it's also music contest day, so we don't sleep in too late, knowing we have to be at the high school by 10 am. And not the close high school, either. Many miles away. But it's our grandkids, so we don't grumble at either the cold or the Saturday get up and get going. Well, mostly we don't grumble.

First, Amanda and her flute ensemble. She played the piccolo, and wow she was good at it! Also, they had both an alto and a bass flute. I didn't even know they existed, and Amanda told me there's even a contra bass flute. In my next life I want to play one of these.  I commented to Nick that Amanda looked like she was hiding behind her music stand. From Nick..."Of course! It's Amanda!" The ensemble earned the highest rating.

Next, Amanda's flute solo. She showed me the music ahead of time. How in the hell do you play all those notes! But she did. She warned me that the judge might cut her off because her selection was quite long, and they have to stay on schedule. Will it hurt her score? She said no. I'm glad she told me this might happen, because otherwise I might have shown my pugnacious protective grandmotherly self and made a scene in front of the judge. But the judge let her play it all the way through. She earned the highest rating. Of course.

Last, Nick's solo on the trumpet. No fancy fast double tonguing this time, like he did last year. His tone was clearer, and he played a more subtle, slightly melancholic piece. George said he played the trumpet as though he were singing. Interesting analogy. Nick's face when he finished showed unhappiness with his performance. Nevertheless, he earned the highest rating. Of course. It's a reminder not to judge your own performance, yes?

I remember my own high school music contest events. Kids are really cool today. Actually, they're probably cold. Getting down to zero tonight...

Friday, February 12, 2016

even now


We look at each other with wonder - how did we get to be in our 70s? What is that even supposed to feel like? Well, this I know: it's really neat having all the younger versions of myself still alive in my heart.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

When is a journey a work of art?


I discovered this bit of writing I had done dated August 3, 2004.

I was juried into Fabric of Legacies, my second show. The first show was thrilling, of course, but an annoying thought that it might be a fluke flitted in and out of awareness. After all, on the radio there's a whole category of songs sung by people who never got to song #2.
But this was my second show. So we decided to drive out to Colorado to see it. That in itself seemed a bit silly, since I knew quite well what the piece looked like on my own wall. So from the very beginning I knew this trip was something other than just seeing my own art.

Loveland, CO. We stopped there to see Fiber Celebration 2004. This was the second all fiber show I've seen, and there's something about this kind of show, which includes art quilts, that intrigues me. I like these shows better than *only* art quilt shows, and I'm not quite sure why. Maybe because there's proportionally fewer flat rectangles on walls. Or maybe it's my classical music background. I've always preferred full orchestra to string ensembles. I just plain like the variety, whether it's art or people or music.

Next stop was Fort Collins and Fabric of Legacies. A great show in a great gallery in a great town.  I really had no emotional response to seeing my piece in the show, other than a deep satisfaction from taking the chance in the first place.

After a couple of days in the mountains, we drove down into Denver, where I saw four more shows. First was American Tapestry Biennial. I had a preconceived idea of what a tapestry show would look like, including churchy, medieval, stuffy, dull. Well, that bit of nonsense got blown out of the water! This show was dynamite! Huge pieces. Sculptural pieces. You would have laughed to see me. I'm standing back, looking at the entire piece from as much distance as possible, then getting up close to see the details, becoming entranced with the actual construction, then back again, then forward again. Whereas the basic construction of what *we* do might be a seam or a stitch, and is usually not particularly interesting except in the greater context, the basic construction of a tapestry seems to be intriguing all by itself. I had to "see" with both a close up and a big picture mentality. Both at the same time.

Next  was Small Expressions, an exhibit of pieces 16" or less. Two pieces really caught my eye. One was a weaving of a woman, sitting on the floor, bent over, her head on her knees. But the viewpoint the artist took was from above, looking down at her. The weaving was dimensional, almost a sculpture. What a great study on creating what you see, not what you think you see. The curve of her back, the top of her head, a bit of arms and legs. Fascinating. Then there was another weaving, beadwork, of sorts. And the beads were a local version of Cheerios! It was a serious piece, and I remember conversations here about preservation. Again, variety.

The next show was the modern buildings in downtown Denver. I'd just come down from photographing the mountains, so was still drunk with height, and I'd just come from the tapestry show. It all came together as I considered the individual windows massed together on these huge towering walls. It was more art! And a new thought began to whisper. The more I look at and create art, the more my eyes change, and the more I see art in all kinds of places. Perhaps this is creativity's ultimate gift. It changes me. It changes my ability to see. It changes my perceptions. It opens my heart and eyes, and tears flow.

The last show was a private one. Bruce Wilcox showed me his entire collection, or at least the portion that was currently living with him. I've never seen anybody's complete collection before. Sure, on the web, but not the same thing. As I looked at each piece individually, laid out flat, I began to wish I could see all of them hung on walls in one place. What a symphony that would be!  I could see patterns and preferences that wove in and out of the individual pieces. I guess that's what people call one's "voice"?

So I'm home again. Much more committed to making my own art. And to seeing everybody else's art. Before I'm done with this body, I want to mount a solo show of my own. I wish that were a possibility for everybody in whatever way their creativity manifests. It keeps ringing in my head that everybody has a solo show inside them, regardless of the medium.


Further thoughts: everybody is already a solo show. It's not necessary to hang on a wall or reside in a gallery. The entire universe is gallery enough. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

finally



It has been an adventurous week, which is putting a positive spin on it. Three huge computer crashes, two of which took the better part of a day for George to fix. Each time the fix was temporary. The third time? Enough! I now have a new computer. How in the world do folks without in-house geeks do these things? So finally I got to be the "client" and got some experience with the process that so many others have endured with George as their guide. You know what? He's a damned good guide! He did the research, gave me enough knowledge to get started, set some parameters, then let me decide. Whew!

I'm glad this is over with. I hope this new computer can outlive me, because I don't want to go through this again. Neither does my checkbook. 

Monday, February 01, 2016

bits of happiness



The wedding gown is finished. It was a challenge, to convert the back to a corset back, to remove the bouffant skirt and replace it with a chiffon skirt. The bride was over two times: once to try on the dress with the bouffant skirt, another time to check the fit of the corset back. And that was it. I sent her a photo of the finished gown, and she's delighted. Therefore I am, too.

Not that it matters a whole lot, but Trump lost to Cruz in the Iowa caucuses. Good. I don't like Cruz, either, but Trump is scary.

Not that it will help, but Bernie did extremely well tonight in the Iowa caucuses. He's my man.

And so, for me, today was a good day. I celebrated with a beer. My beer. Because I brewed it.
Yup. What I said.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

the sunrise I didn't see



I have a set morning routine. Get up. Robe and slippers. Shuffle to the kitchen and look out the window. Will there be a sunrise worth waiting for? If so, get camera ready, pour a cup of coffee, and pay attention to the flow of time. If not, pour a cup of coffee and shuffle over to the computer to do my morning computer routine.

This time - pre dawn glow showed no clouds, thus no spectacular sunrise. As I sat at my computer, I glanced out the back window at some time after sunrise and saw beautiful pale peach clouds scattered across the sky. Pale peach. The remains of that glorious sunrise I thought didn't exist today. Hurrying over to my sunrise watching window, I saw a beautiful tapestry of feathery faint clouds painted across the sky. I wasn't able to discern them when I did my predawn assessment.

Two things I learn the hard way:
patience. just sit at the window and wait.
computer. what an incessant addictive obsession.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

completion



I don't have a lot of words these days. But I DO have a lot of work. Good work. Work of completion.

Completion.

I like bringing plans and dreams to completion.
As my own life is slowly coming to completion.
Maybe it'll take another 20 years, maybe I won't make it through the night.
But it's always been like that, eh?
We have an aunt who is in her mid 90s.
And I had a nephew who died at the age of 2.

That's all I've got for tonight, folks,
and I have now completed a blog post.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

a murder of crows



those rowdy and raucous crows
first thing in the morning
I'm sure some of our neighbors were still sleeping
but there the birds were
screeching and yelling in the trees behind our house
where it just so happens a pair of great horned owls nest
even a blue jay joined in the commotion!

and then
all of a sudden silence
and then
all of a sudden again
the cawing started up again

I'm sure the noise didn't dislodge the owls
it never does, really
it's just what crows do to the owls
ramping up their anger
because in the springtime the owls
will eat some baby crows

Friday, January 15, 2016

getting a leg up


standing in the shower
water flowing over you
down your body
and into the drain

you look down

floating in the water is a bug leg
about an inch long
just one leg

where are the other legs?
and how many are there?
5 more for an insect
7 more for a spider
a kajillion more for a centipede
are they attached?

suddenly the shower is not so serene...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

secret door



in my father's house
there are many mansions
many rooms
a room for strength
a room for tears
right beside each other
they share a secret door

me
1996

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ender's Game



I'm reading a fascinating series of books. The first is "Ender's Game." The second, "Speaker for the Dead" has to be right up there with Tolkien's Ring Trilogy, and that series was recommended to me by a Catholic priest, when I asked him once, long ago, if there were any other books worth reading that addressed the deep issues of the sacredness of human life.

The premise, so far, is this: in conflict, you win when you know how the enemy thinks. But when you understand the mind of the enemy, you end up loving him. That's a bit simplistic, but it touches on the foundation of forgiveness. It isn't mushy or preachy. It's set in the context of future space exploration and encounters with alien life forms.

My kind of book. I like a good science fiction, and I also like plots that explore the deep richness of human living. Wow. It's a good thing I didn't come across these books before Christmas; there would have been no Christmas cookies in this house! 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

end of day chatter



Our first snow today. Amazing. Christmas was warm enough for shorts. We had to wait until the middle of January to see snow on the ground. I remember when I was a little girl there was a Thanksgiving blizzard. Ah well. Between natural climate variations and global warming, I guess we're in for a few more strange events.

But here's what's cool. We had a long FaceTime chat with Dave and Isami. Unimaginable not so many years ago. It sure makes it less painful to have sons living so far away. That's something my dear friend Jo never understood. "How can you let your sons live so far away?" "But Jo, I can't keep them here. Nor do I want to. I want them to pursue their own visions and dreams, wherever it may take them."

And it certainly has taken them on interesting adventures. On the other hand, I've been on some interesting adventures right here close to home.

Live is good. So is the wine I'm drinking. Peach. Made by moi. 

Saturday, January 09, 2016

T.J. Evans trail


feeling the breeze
feeling both warmth and coolness caressing my bare arms
the rustling sigh of the trees
feeling strength in my legs
knowing there's a great lunch waiting at the far end of the trail
knowing my friends are somewhere ahead or behind
anticipating the bench located at the high point
where I can gaze on miles and miles of Ohio countryside