Monday, July 28, 2014


Acadia National Park. I remember looking at pictures, thinking this particular park was forever out of reach, since it's in Maine. But then, one year, the annual barbershop competition was in Philadelphia. Since we drove, George suggested that afterward we drive up the coast, as far as Acadia. This was a dream come true. Near this particular spot we talked with a naturalist, someone who grew up in the vicinity. It was fascinating listening to his dialect. He referred to Bar Harbor as Bah Hahbah (more or less).

So now I "bah humbug" actually "bar humbug"?
Yeah. I know. I'm tired and punchy.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

mama woodpecker

It's been a rumbly, thundery day, with lots of rain just dropping straight down, no wind to speak of. A perfect day for our garden...and for us.

Between rains, we watched a woodpecker at our feeder. They fly in, grab onto the upright of a shepherd's hook, spend a few minutes making sure everything is safe, then hop onto the cage that holds the suet. This time there was no suet. What to do? The bird wanted something to eat. The sparrows and finches were perched at the regular feeder, munching seeds. The woodpecker watched them carefully. I wondered if she would go to the feeder - I'd never seen her perch as they do, she's always grabbing onto an upright, as though it were a tree trunk. Can woodpeckers even perch, I wondered? She watched them; we watched her, wondering how this would end. And then she, too, hopped onto the feeder. Her perching was a bit awkward, and eventually she just sat in the seeds. But the seeds were tasty, apparently, because she filled her belly.  Good for you, mama woodpecker!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

today's humor

From a facebook friend:
"I'd like to share a laxative advertisement that made my day. The caption: "Only you can set them free."

I showed it to George. He muttered, "It looks like a Republican convention."

And that's enough from me tonight.

Friday, July 25, 2014


We're casual friends. She's the sister of one of my neighbors, and the neighbors were on vacation. She was doing some work at my neighbor's house, I stopped over to drop off the mail I'd been collecting while they were gone. We had a bit of conversation, as we normally do, but this time, well, let me explain.

She mentioned her grandfather had recently died. I opened the space for her to talk a bit about her loss. She talked about his dying. I shared a bit about my mother dying. We ended up telling each other the same stories. Mom, in her week of cutting loose from her body, at one point groaned that dying was painful. Her grandfather said basically the same thing, at the same point in his own dying process. This was huge. We comforted each other in sharing this mutual awareness, and then we went on and talked more.

As she shared more about herself, I suggested she was an old soul. Her eyes widened, as her mother had told her the same thing.

And then, when she was talking a bit about her spirituality and referred to God as "Him", I quietly said "Her".  Again, her eyes widened, and she acknowledged that she's thought the same thing.

That's all. We could have talked for hours, but we both had work to do. We'll probably never be close friends, but we don't need to be. For a few minutes we stepped outside our day to day existence and connected as the eternal souls that we are. And we know we are, because we talked about that, too. And her grandfather and my mother were there with us, most likely.

Life is good. All of it. 

Heart of Ohio Trail

Finally, we could take a ride. The air was cool and dry, the skies were blue and white. We loaded our bikes in the van and headed for the trailhead in Centerburg, 25 miles or so north of us. I had been wanting to ride this trail again, but George wasn't keen on it, saying he didn't care for the trail itself. I try to honor his preferences, but when it comes right down to it, he'll go where I want to go. Gotta love him for that!

It was an uneventful ride, but that's an issue only if you're looking for events in the first place! The ride itself is enough of an event. A paved bike path, no other cyclists around, quiet, flying low through a green corridor, what could be better? We could see farmland on the other side of the trees. Once we crossed Rt. 3, it was very easy sailing except for crossing the occasional country road. Crossing Rt. 3 is a bit of a wait, but still, no big deal.

After that, the trail skirted corn and soybean fields, followed a stream, made use of a couple of small trestle bridges - just your typical Ohio country bike path.

One country road crossing gave us access to a greenhouse/produce market. I had hoped to buy a piece of fruit (and also use the restroom), but alas they had neither. They DID have Amish fried pies, and oh boy I can't turn those down!

I knew the northern end of the trail had recently been paved, all the way in to Mt. Vernon, but as we approached Mt. Vernon, the barriers were up. Perhaps they had a bit more work to do; I'm not complaining. Fortunately, there was a local diner next to the trail where we had lunch. Not memorable, but it was food, it was filling, and they had a restroom.

Heading back, being a bit tired, the slight uphill grade kind of wore me down; I was rarely out of 2nd gear, but I'd do it again today if it were possible.

I did have to stop; I'd forgotten to drink water (not unusual for me), so while we rested a bit, we also clowned around...

One more stop for our sore butts...
This is a hay bale shelter, built as an Eagle Scout project. I'm grateful.

After this, we did a final four mile push to return to the trailhead. I had only one more stop - if the llamas were close enough to have their picture taken. They were.

25 mile ride, averaged 9 miles per hour. George decided this was a good trail after all. 
We slept well last night.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Last night I dreamed that I didn't sleep...
Oh yes I did!  Because at one point, while I dreamed I was laying awake in bed, two people were talking to each other.  Since that was not possible, I figured I was dreaming.
Weird, eh?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

notes from the garden

You may not want to know this. Too much information? Not all little treasures of the day worth remembering and writing about are pretty, soft, accompanied by quiet inspirational music. Sorry.

We've started repelling the deer with pee. Ours. The deer are munching too freely in our garden, which isn't big to start with. Losing one plant is significant. In the past we've had access to human hair from the barber, but we've changed barbers and its no longer as easy to collect hair. I had talked with my dentist about this, and his own solution was to drink a couple of beers, then go out at night and mark his garden.  Well. That's not George's style, and I'm not into sqatting in the back yard. A couple of days ago I figured out we don't have to do the elimination act out back, all we had to do was collect pee and pour. Which I'm doing. So far it's just me, but we'll see if the big guy comes around...

No, there's no odor. Yes, we've tried commercial repellants. Many include dried hot pepper, but the damned deer like our hot peppers as much as the tomatoes, elderberries, and other goodies. Somehow this low tech solution (we hope it'll be the solution) is very satisfying.

Hmm. We live in a suburb with restrictions that annoy me. We can't grow sunflowers, hang our laundry out on a line, have compost...but I didn't see anything in the restrictions about pee....

Live is good.
All of it.
No matter what.
(so far)

Monday, July 21, 2014

demons and sunshine

I suspect we all have our demons; demons that found a home in our hearts when we were very young and have piggybacked on us throughout our lives, remaining invisible to ourselves, tripping us up on occasion...
I faced one of my own after visiting with the kids. At least I know the demon, have faced it, named it, chained it to the wall where all it can do is whisper the only words it knows. It cannot monopolize my thoughts and actions any longer, though it can still make me uncomfortable. Is there any value in writing of it? Maybe, maybe not. This is my piece of paper, and I'll write what I choose. It whispers..."maybe you talked too much; maybe they were just being polite, waiting for you to get up and go home, words like that. I can't really speak much of it to them, it would become an awkwardness that they'd probably feel obligated to reassure me it wasn't so. That solves nothing. I know all is well, and even if it weren't, it is what it is, and I can rest in that knowledge. But the demon whispers. Oh well. As time goes on, I learn to recognize the demons in others, and that becomes one of the foundations of forgiveness, directed both inward and outward.

And now on to brighter things...
My 6'2" bride picked up her wedding dress this evening. She is delighted, and while we were doing some final odds and ends, she told me about her skydiving experience. That's back on my list of things to do, now.

We watched a chipmunk maneuver around the squirrel baffle and get into the bird feeder. It was cute, but it's still a cute rodent wanting to feed babies probably living under our house. It can damned well get its food in the normal chipmunk way. We had to stymie its efforts, and we did. It was interesting watching that intelligent tiny critter trying to figure out how to get to the bird feeder. So far we are winning the battle. We'll see if anything has changed tomorrow morning.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

the garden

A special moment - when my son invites me into his garden. We bend down to smell the still juvenile corn plants, crunch on a coriander seed, pick a few peppers, taste mulberries and blackberries, admire the grapes, the tomato plants, the robin's nest in the apple tree. We discuss the health of honeybees, the surprising vigor of his ash tree in a state where ash borers are ruining so many,  the advantages of letting his lawn convert to clover.

You know, there's a lot to worry about in this world, but for a few minutes, at least, all is right in this corner of the world. I don't really know what moves me more - the garden itself, or the fact that I've birthed a son who is doing what I've only dreamed of doing. No regrets on my end - I did what I could, and I still do what I can. It is enough that I know where health abounds.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

speaking of mothers

Sunset comes early in the mountains, especially on a cloudy day, and we did not want to navigate the switchbacks at night. 
"Pssst", Rainier whispered. "Look over here". 
We were in a large parking lot; the path was on the other side, but I thought I'd wander over to see if there was a trailhead sign. My legs were complaining, and I knew we couldn't hike, yet I just wanted to see what was calling out. We would probably never be here again, and I had to see.
Dave joined me, then offered to walk ahead as a scout. He came back quickly, saying it was a short walk, and I'd like what I'd see.
And so we walked a few hundred feet to a lookout.
"Behold", sang Rainier, as the clouds parted just enough for sunbeams to spill into the valley.

Those are the words I wrote when I shared this photo three years ago. Mt. Rainier is still my favorite mountain.

But they are not today's words. So. Why do I write words in the first place? Because I'm always trying to improve my craft. Also, trying to pay attention to the small treasures imbedded in each day and honoring those treasures by writing about them. A bit of mindful meditation, I guess.

Today's treasure? The 73 year old customer who brought her almost 100 year old mother. Both need their new dresses altered to wear to the 100th birthday party for the elder. The elder one was not really in charge of her brain any more, acting more like a petulant child, but her daughter did very well with her. Having cared for two mothers, I know, even when you love them dearly, they can be a burden, so I murmured words of understanding and support as I pinned her dress and jacket. I mentioned that despite loving them, we sometimes become angry, then we feel guilty. She really latched onto that, saying her mother is good at making her feel guilty. Yep, I know about that.

When she left, I thought about our shared words, and realized I'm a mother too.

Friday, July 18, 2014


Some days are poetic. Today? Not so much.

With only onc cup of coffee in me, we headed over to the ophthalmologist (yes, I'm proud I could spell that correctly!) to figure out what was going on with my eye. Answer? A couple of abrasions, one on my cornea, probably from a bit of sand or something long gone. So now I'm on an antibiotic and steroid combination. Does that mean I'll have a muscular eye, hahaha? Anyway, it's starting to feel better.

Next up? Garlic. We harvested six dozen garlics, which are now fragrantly curing on our kitchen table. Tonight I shall not fear vampires.

And finally...jet lag. Now I know why I've been so tired. Naps are good things, but I don't like to have to take naps.

Peace to you. May you not need ophthalmologists and naps frequently, but if you do, may they bring you healing and peace.

And may you always appreciate garlic. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

prankish thoughts

thinking about the tarantula Dave came across on a hike...
thinking about spiders in general...
thinking about spider pranks...
fake spiders
pranks I've both initiated and received...
fake spiders, fake bugs in our food, fake snakes...

why, exactly, do we prank each other?
do we actually enjoy seeing fear in somebody else?
why do we laugh at somebody else's fear
or discomfort
or embarrassment
or pain
why do we laugh at that?

why do we laugh when somebody takes a pratfall?
pratfalls can cause back injury
why do we laugh at that?
is it our brain wiring?
are we imprisoned in our own faulty brains?
are we really as free as we think we are?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

subject line with no subject!

I wonder why they call this area the Badlands. Having recently driven to Hoover Dam and seeing the utter desolation of the mountainous desert in which it is nestled, these Badlands look lovely and full of life.

Still tired. Still sorting through the experiences, the visuals, the emotions of the last two weeks.

Here's an odd observation: when I'm on vacation, there are almost no calls for alterations. When I get home, the calls start coming in - from folks who don't know I've been on vacation in the first place. It's not because I don't hear the house phone - I check in periodically just in case.  Curious.

Monday, July 14, 2014


So tired. One week of hell, one week of heaven. The flight home was surreal. The past two weeks were fading, the home destination I know so well wasn't a reality yet. Only the plane ride was real, and the constant engine drone plus my tiredness made that experience kind of like the passage of time between being awake and asleep. Just...there. My mind wandered to some of my recurrent wonderings, like do we live multiple incarnations? Do we simply forget the life we lived to make room for our current incarnation? And no, I wasn't drinking anything.
Fractals be.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

two truths

I hold two truths in my mind.

One: in the incomprehensible vastness of the universe, we are less than specks of dust. In fact, Earth itself is less than a speck of dust.

Two: I am unique and important. You are unique and important. We've been given a short amount of time to do real, meaningful things. Or not, if we choose. Does it matter? Yes. And no. Both.

Earlier in my life, when life became difficult, I'd fly to the moon and sit there watching Earth. No person was visible, of course. Whatever sorrow or anger I was holding didn't mean a damned thing to the planet. It just kept turning, people kept being born and dying. There was a bit of comfort in that.

And at the same time...since the universe seems to not have any boundaries, then wherever I stand, I stand in the center of the universe. So do you. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

good night

The day draws to a close.
A glass of wine is at my left hand
as I tap out a few words here.
It's been a quiet, rather melancholy day...
no particular reason...
I think I'm just biding my time until I can gaze again at mountains.
Sleep well, my friends, dream good dreams.

Friday, June 27, 2014

don't tell him it can't be done

One of the best parts of the chorus' current contest set is watching the circus tent go up, though the audience will be deprived of that part. 
But when I watch it, I also see the almost two years of planning that went into it.

So. What invisible things do I see?

the dream - stronger, more enduring than the skeptics

sitting at a table with Steve; listening, drawing, calculating, putting my own expertise at his disposal

sourcing fabrics

organizing an assembly line process, using the entire kitchen floor as a drawing board

listening to (and enjoying) tales of the next stage in the process

sewing, and sewing, and sewing, and sewing

teaching Steve how to use a sewing machine, and marveling at his intuitive grasp

sitting under a tree at Bill's house, still sewing

listening to and witnessing the challenges of the engineering process

and then, the work is done

more listening and watching the choreography of many men working together to get the whole tent up in four minutes

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

the bad, the good

No, I don't particularly want to go to Las Vegas, but that's where the contest is, so that's where we'll go.   There will be contests to attend, and I've become quite adept at sleeping in an arena seat with my head up. Many years of contests have given me plenty of time to perfect that skill. And, then, I'll also have a book to read. Will there be opportunities for some camera work? We'll see. gambling and drinking in the short term forecast. Yawn.....

But then...Arizona!!!!!!
the Milky Way!
the dry pine and sage smell!
family peoples
and precious few other peoples.
and oh yes, my book.

Monday, June 23, 2014

so high, so wide

The 6'2" bride was in tonight for a fitting; an adjustment is needed, but all is well. We did our dressing and fitting work in my workroom tonight, rather than in the fitting room. Wanna know why? Because in the fitting room I have another wedding gown on the mannequin, and the dress is so big it's taking up the whole damned room.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

the price we pay...

I didn't even want to go to her artist's reception. Friday between 5 and 8. That meant go late enough to avoid rush hour traffic, but still enough time to spend half an hour, max. But she is a casual friend, and we did what we thought we should to support her.

And for that we were rewarded with a $50 parking ticket. Really? We pulled into the parking lot behind the building. Yes, we knew it was campus parking, but it was an office building, offices were closed, it was after hours, and the lot was 90% empty. So 20 minutes cost us plenty!

I'm appealing, being careful and courteous. I've been told they usually waive first offenses, especially for people not affiliated with the university. And if they don't waive the fee, I'm just going to ignore it. I have it on good authority to do that. There's nothing they can do about it. We're not students or employees of the university.

Have you ever been in the car with a truly aggravated male driver? I swear I'm gonna tape down his saluting finger. But we're home, tempers have cooled, and all is well.

Friday, June 20, 2014


She made an appointment for alterations. Carolina. She had lost almost 100 pounds, shopped at Goodwill for new clothes, and needed some minor adjustments.

She already knew a bit about me; a mutual friend gave her my name and told her some of my story, like my three cancer battles. As we pinned and talked, she spoke as though her struggle wasn't as difficult as mine. Huh? You lost 100 pounds? And your husband continued his wayward eating style in your presence? So every day your body screamed for more food, more yummy food than was good for you? And every day you had to say no? And you'll have to say no for the rest of your life, right??

She agreed that was true. I suggested we all have struggles, and we don't really need to determine if one person's struggle is easier or harder than another's. She felt affirmed, and said I need to write a book.

I told her I already AM writing a book.

Now if only I could figure out how to publish and share it..

Thursday, June 19, 2014

night sounds

Perhaps tonight will be quieter than last night. Perhaps not. Our weather alert radio sounded an alarm three times last night between the hours of 2 and 3:30 A.M. I knew there was the possibility, but usually storm lines disintegrate significantly as they cross central Ohio during the night. And they did, but still maintained enough strength to cause concern.

I wouldn't have been concerned no more than five years back, but lately...tornadoes. Not here, particularly, but one never knows. I've seen enough devastation in the plains, watched enough tornado videos, and listened seriously to scientists as they explain the long range effect of global warming to know that we are a little less safe than we had been in the past.

And so. We were awakened to hear warnings of severe thunderstorms. I don't like waking up to this, but am grateful that there is such a thing as a weather radio and the technology to give us fair warning.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

grunt work

Today's project: wedding gown. The bride is 6'2" (before shoes), and her dress weighs 10 pounds. My workroom has become a workout room!
lift and stretch...sure am glad my rib doesn't hurt anymore

Monday, June 16, 2014

market mind, cultural mind

It's so easy to fall into "market mind" or "cultural mind" without realizing that's what I've done. Because its everywhere.

Shirts. Men's shirts have buttons on one side, women's on the other. In the first place, I never thought about it. In the second place, I thought about it and tried to honor that tradition as I made clothing for myself and others. In the third place, I wondered why that custom existed, and found the answer.

And what was that answer? In earlier times, when women had servants to dress them, buttons and buttonholes were arranged so the servants could easily button things. Men didn't have servants to dress them, so naturally their buttons and buttonholes were arranged for their own ease. And that would be the opposite placement.

Finally, today...who cares how the buttons and buttonholes are arranged on my shirts!

Next up: shoes. Specifically, sandals.
I wanted to buy a pair of sandals, so headed over to the women's shoes at the local big box store. Nothing fit my aging feet. Next try was in the men's shoes. No, I'm not a guy and don't specifically want to look like a guy. I just wanted comfortable sandals. And I found them. Since my feet don't have lady parts, it shouldn't matter if I'm wearing mens or women's sandals.

I've noticed for almost as many years as I've had to wear clothes that generally men dress more comfortably than women. Yeah, I know, cultures and customs and sex appeal and all that. I think back to girdles, garter belts, clip on earrings, hats and gloves, high heeled spiked shoes. All that just to go to church. My brothers wore pants, shirts, belts, shoes - similar to what they wore any other day, just a bit nicer and cleaner than most other times.

I don't want to be a guy. I like who and what I am. But I'll do it my way. If you need to examine my clothes to determine my sex, then I have to ask why that should matter in the first place.

One more thing, related: why, when we encounter a baby, do we ask whether it's a boy or a girl?

Friday, June 13, 2014

it is what it is

Yesterday...a dream followed me into my daytime life. A man named Tom; beloved by those who knew him, living in poverty. As I became acquainted with him, I told a companion that he needed to write the story of Tom. He would write it better than I could, but if he would not, then I would. Just as I was going to write down the name and phone number of someone who knew him well, the dream faded.

Was this a dream of my dad? It didn't have a dad feel to it, but who knows? So I stopped thinking about it.

Yesterday morning a man knocked on the door. His name was Tommy. He saw our front yard (lord knows I've been trying to tame the weeds!) and offered his landscaping services. Although we turned down landscaping companies in the past, we listened to Tommy. He had a "rightness" to him, and we hired him. He worked alone, was strong and committed to doing a good job, and by mid afternoon the job was done. He asked for a price a bit too low, we thought, and George tipped him well. But about the dream connection; he lives in a trailor park, was really needing the work, so I presume a level of poverty. In the middle of this job, he took a lunch break. When he returned, he brought me a couple of peonies cut from his own bush at home. I was enchanted. As he worked, he shared a bit of his own story. We will definitely hire him again.

Dream connection? Coincidence? I don't know. It's another one of life's mysteries, and, as he said as he pulled out a bush..."it is what it is".  That's good enough for me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Riding my bicycle - one of the finest things in life! One of my neighbors was out on her bike, and I got to see a mountain bike up close and personal...disk brakes, holes to mount a water bottle holder on the fork, hugely fat tires (her partner calls her bike a truck!)...I have a lot to learn! She carries a spare tire with her, and now that we've seen a blowout, I can see why.

Mountain biking is not in my future, unless perhaps I reincarnate. For now, it's the bike trails. That's enough excitement at my age.

Speaking of bike trails, I'm trying to organize my bike trail knowledge so that, at the drop of a hat, I can choose the right trail. By the way, who drops hats these days???

trail name
distance to beginning trail head
length of trail
proximity to nearby trails, towns, points of interest
misc notes - elevation considerations, intersections, distance between trail heads, surroundings

Sunday, June 08, 2014


In the daytime, I can fall asleep in the middle of annoying noise, but at night? No. Last night neighbors had an outdoor party, so I donned earplugs. The problem with these earplugs is...I don't hear the party, but now I hear my breathing and beating heart. Quite loudly, it seems!

But there are lovely night sounds, and rather than counting sheep, I thought about all the sounds I've heard over the years that were as lullabies as I fell asleep.

young mockingbirds practicing their songs at night
screech owls
great horned owls calling to each other
quiet breathing next to me
thunder in the distance
the door closing as a teenage son comes home for the night
coyote song
river water
ocean surf
wind soughing through pine trees

Saturday, June 07, 2014


Life returns to normal. Predictable? Immediately after prom dress work my brother arrived, at which time we basically were either planning bicycle rides or doing them. For three weeks! It was a magical  time where real world and dream world meshed, and I yearn for more. So many adventures! I'll write about them...eventually.

Eventually. Like the photo here of Glacier National Park, taken in 2011. We had driven through the park on our way to Canada some years before. I fell in love with this place, the most beautiful place I'd ever seen, but had no idea how to actually spend time there. I had no concept of renting cabins or houses; all I knew was motels. But then a door opened, and now I know how it works. I remember this particular hike, too, always looking out for bears.

But back to this day, trying to tame the weed jungle that used to be an extended flower bed, working on alterations...I swear! My customers must have been peeking out their windows to see when I'd return to work, and they're practically lined up on the sidewalk! Not complaining, just chuckling a bit.