a Tiny description

a full time artist, stepmother, radio personality, and mom to an energetic Chug dog, tries to get through the days without committing a felonious act. My life is a rickety Zen circus.


Saturday, September 30, 2006


my grandfather was in a branch of military service in Canada,and an expression they'd use when their discharge date was near "i'm so short, i can sit on a dime and dangle my legs," meaning their time left in the service was short. that's how i'm feeling now - i start a job 10/9 working in an office, 8:30-5pm. i have such strong hesitations about it that it borders on near panic - that cartoon cat trying to be bathed feeling. all 4 legs spread out across the doorframe. you get the picture! i don't know if this is a gut feeling that this is not the right place for me to be going, or just the usual resist-change emotions in high gear. if i follw my instinct, i'd call and cancel the offer. but are my instincts guiding me? or is my brain in the way? the trepidation is stronger each day - "today is the last ______ i'll have before i go to work," etc. i know i'll dearly miss my little girl. i know i haven't had an actual regulation job in a while, so maybe that's the emotion bubbling. i need to sort this out and soon! so i'll be taking a few days off from the blog biz while i wrap up some art stuff and settle my mind. meet you back here around wednesday. if you have any thoughts/insights/words from beyond, please email me and i'll add it to the stew in my conflict! L.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

the heart, and thank you bets

my friend has a "signature" at the bottom of all her emails: "You can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." (Immanuel Kant). so true. today, however, i must admit, i had hateful thoughts in the direction of my neighbors huge, untamed, very aggressive German Shepard. the neighbor himself is a little "off" and last year appeared in Wegman's with a Russian speaking woman/girl - his new wife. okay, live and let live. then he got this dog. backwards now: i've been on an incredible creative streak....spending 18-plus hours a day working on a piece that is just forming under my hand magically. the pieces seem to select themselves; the colors choose where they want to go. i feel like i am just the tool to place things here or there. the magic has returned. and even if just for this one expression of art...oh, how sweet and wonderful. how blessed i feel. how once-again alive. having gone through such a dry spell, i no longer take for granted the incredible feeling of creating. and it feels like the creation is creating itself. my shoulders ache. my back aches. my legs and feet numb from standing in 1 spot gluing this or painting that. kept going by caffeine, nicotine and adrenaline. my 3 favorite food groups. the beautiful day sent sinews of mossy breezes through my screen to tempt me though. and little dog was bored and restless, having played tag with herself and her shadow for long enough. so i took a break and we went for a walk, unable to resist or ignore her pointed sighs any longer. a new walk. a new path to keep her interested, and also to look for treasures to put in my assemblage piece. the sun warmed my back as we went trail to trail, then off the trail a bit. she leaped after frogs and bobbled her head watching a fat bumblebee. we found ourselves on the trail toward home, but also the path that leads past the scary dog's house. the dog was inside - i could hear the ruckus. the owner and his wife were working in the yard outside and he actually waved back at my hello. as we passed his house about 50 yards, i heard him yell the dog's name, and turned in time to see this huge streak of brown and black barreling at us. there was no time to even pick up my little girl. the dog was moving so fast, he actually barreled over us and went past before wheeling around and coming back. i was focused on my girl and the look in her eyes. i heard someone screaming and screaming and the neighbor trying to call his dog back. as the shepherd came back at us a 3rd time like a bull after a matador, i scooped my dog up and moved to the side. i didn't want to run, because the woman always falls in the scary movies. the dog went back to the house, but as we started moving away, he came back again. still the screaming, but no help. i was able to make it back to our house and into the safety of our fenced yard. no one had been bit, somehow. and then i realized - it was my own screams that i'd heard. the whole incident seemed like hour upon hour, but my neighbor 4 doors down had started over when she first heard me screaming and just got to my house when i went inside. those moments outside, i hated that dog, and if i had a stick in my hand, i admit i'd have used it. but i also felt bad that his owner didn't care enough about that magnificent animal to love him and teach him. i collapsed on the floor in tears, shaking and crying...i felt like i'd almost lost my girl. that would be patently unfair. my neighbor said the owner had finally caught the dog and was screaming at him outside. my friend has a job that most of us would like to think we'd do. but never would. she looks into the eyes of these animals that were born innocent and mallable, with hearts and feelings from a different plane of understanding. she takes them from owners that should themselves be in cages. how she does it everyday, i'll never know. why she does it, i understand completely. i know she must suffer as they do. for her heart, and her understanding is of the same plane of understanding. i'd send her flowers of appreciation everyday if i could. thank you for doing what i could never do. thank you, Bets. L.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


and what if you were told: one more hour? -elias canetti

following the birds

sorry - i missed a day - okay 2. it's been a busy time in nature, and for me. after a long, restful summer, spent partaking in the bounty of the earth, the birds are edgy and anxious to start their trek south - not unlike kids told too soon that they would be leaving for Disney. it isn't time yet, but in kid-time, every minute is an hour when there's something good at the end of the line. yesterday, my trees were black with birds - an astounding sight....all cheering about something. thousands of birds - very Hitchcock-esque. even Nikki stopped looking for her favorite chipmunk for a while and stood staring at the trees. they knew. the birds were following some internal urging that something big was coming....it was time to stop the usual day-to-day, to pay attention, take stock - today would be different. after about 15 minutes, they all lifted off at the same moment and flew away. the silence left behind was enveloping. it's migration time for them. the beautiful sun-colored finches have shed their finery and shrugged into winter plumage - grey and brown. they will stay the winter with me, flitting to the window feeder, peeking in. i'm listening to a Natures Classics CD that has background music of the classics with sounds of birds, wolves, and water burbling all mixed together. an awesome meoment - i have the house to myself. me and little girl dog. my favorite days are like this. just the sounds that i make filling the rooms...no stress to deflect, no lists made for me to "keep busy," no obligations to anyone or anything, except the natural urgings of my muse. sometimes a gentle whisper, a gentle wing-brush against my thoughts...sometimes bold and pushy - i must create at those times or be unable to do anything else. the push is so strong, the ideas so clear and insistant, that to ignore them is to deny my self breath. and a day like today is perfect for giving myself over to that tap-tap-tapping impatient foot of the muse. the project is being born gloriously, painfully, under my hand. the physical work - mine. the direction coming from unseen places i have been, either in sleep, or awake and closing my mind's eyes to shield them. my friend moved to Colorado, near a place called Garden of the Gods. the picture is above. couldn't you just.......? L.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


rain taps on my roof -gentle, tentative at first, then more insistant. i picture leaves washing from from tenuous treetop tendrils, carried by the heavy drops sliding across the slick shingles, ending their journey on the ground. is it the end of their journey though? from there, they will begin anew - a different form, becoming rich, loamy soil nourishing new seeds- urging them upward from sun-warmed ground after winter has tired of it's frozen filabuster and moved on. new trees will begin - searching for sunlight, bending and leaning to warm this side, then the other. basking. later, strong and true, buds burst open and delicate new green unfurls, decorating once-barren branches - a coming of age. rain will soak roots, thirsty for relief as summer's sun threatens to dry and crumble this new life. a delicate balance. adornment of strings and grasses form hollowed cups high in shielded branches - soon insistant calls of hunger & protest arise from them as hatchlings begin the cycle once again. night, held at arm's length too long, begins to creep forward a minute at a time. soon the rains, no longer warmed by long summer suns, will begin to cool and tap on my roof early morning. signaling an end and a beginning of a new cycle with each drop. a continuum. an unbroken circle.

Friday, September 22, 2006

meditation & mediation

sometimes, you need to take a break - to mediate between the whirling circles of lists and chores and carpools and job demands, and the need for an oasis of calm that's all yours. to take a mental breath and revive. power napping was all the vogue in the 90's - sort of a form of meditation, but without the thought - just the closed eyes and rest. and i couldn't help but think of how often i hear the phrase "some days, there just aren't enough hours," or "I just don't have enough time." well, everyone has the same number of hours to work with in a given day. there are 24. and that part won't change. it's how you choose to use these precious gifts. yes - choose. yes, we have to work, and the number of hours per day we do that is pretty much determined by our employer. some are lucky enough to have flextime, or work from home options, but most do not. you have the power to choose to set aside time for just you. even if it's once a week. if you can't squeeze that in, then it's time to look at your choices....the things you choose to do with the hours you have been given. and by the way, do you know how many are in your time-bank? no one does. that's why it's so important to "use your time wisely." saying "no" or "at another time" to kids, husbands, wives, etc in order to make time for yourself - is not evil! you are you. you deserve a day or half-a-day or an hour or 30 minutes - just to do something that makes you happy ....the biggest indulgence i can come up with so far is a pedicure. i thought it would gross me out, but i went to the casino and had an ice cream pedicure (one of the free perks of radio) and lost my mind! (no comments). try this: find a quiet place in your home where you won't be disturbed. bring 2 very thick books. lock the door. dim the lights, if possible. light a scented candle if you'd like. now... lay on the floor on your back. bend your knees. your toes and the balls of your feet should be on the books, flexing your feet. bend your arms at the elbow, and rest your hands and forearms on your stomach by your belly button. this is called "the perfect resting position." in this position, every single muscle in your body is allowed to rest - ahh ha - except one - that hamster-wheel in your brain. okay - close your eyes. feel your spine naturally gravitate to the floor. breathe in through your nose, and out through your nose - a deep one. don't hold it in between the in and the out. just a nice deep, gentle, steady, cleansing breath. the 1st time, examine what is churning on that wheel....lists of things to do? disappointments? fears? take them out 1 at a time and examine them. is that particular issue worthy of using one of your precious time-bank hours? if so, then get it done, and remove it from the wheel. pull out those items 1 at a time. manage them, catagorize them. deal with them or dismiss them. get rid of them. you own your time-bank hours....it's your job to use them in the best way you can. there are no line-of-credit accounts at this bank. prioritize. what is important to you? how would you like to live your life? i believe that each of us is here for a reason. it isn't necessary to go to Tibet to discover the reason - just live your life. somewhere, your life is a wheel or a cog that meshes with another and so on, creating ripples and touching lives we never imagined - sort of like that book Pay It Forward. do you find yourself helping others live their lives, even though they are quite capable? making their decisions for them, making their lives easier by doing ____(fill in the blank - laundry, cooking, carpools, dishes, housework, etc). if that gives you joy and fulfillment, fine. if not, why aren't you asking for help? look at it as giving another person an opportunity to feel good about helping YOU. older children with issues in their life....why are you still living their life for them? i promise, they'll still love you if you allow them to make their own decisions, support themselves, get themselves out of the jam they've gotten themselves into. there's a boundary between giving someone a hand up or a help out in time of need/crisis, and taking over the problem for them so they don't have to deal with it. and limits can be placed on the help you give. count the change in your time-bank. trust me on this. if it feels right to you, maybe it's time to "manage your time" rather than "let time get away from you." time is always there....always the same. it's how we use it that shifts perception. once you've cleared the hamster-wheel, take a few minutes (or more!) to think about what your dreams are....."I've always wanted to ____" what's stopping you? can that be overcome in some way? i've always wanted to learn how to salsa dance. i have 3-left-feet. so i looked into lessons, and am saving up for them. i will learn how to salsa dance somehow and soon. i may only dance in the privacy of my home, but the joy of accomplishing this is already sweet in my thoughts, and helps me make better choices with my money - new shirt, or dance fund? see how this goes? it's so wonderful, this "time management" stuff. you are master of your own given time. the trick is that you don't know how much you have - an hour? a day? 40 years? so live mindfully, and live kindly....that person who stole the last up-front spot at Wegmans in the rainstorm....maybe their account is running low. don't make them spend their time fussing with you. it just isn't that important. so try this "perfect resting meditation/mediation" a few times. see if it helps. at least you got some time alone! L.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

sensing it

if you had to make a choice, which of your senses would you give up? somedays i think i'd love to be "sense-less" as the smell of dirty socks and the sight of the towering laundry hamper taunt me. but then i think of what i'd miss....the crisp, balsamy smell of the fall forest - just on the cusp of turning to full nostril-assault overload....and the leaves - the brilliance of the reds, greens, umber, amber, yellow - colors unable to be duplicated by anyone other than Nature herself - a thousand shades of each, changing as the sun shifts; changing as the morning mist lifts off the lake revealing a new dew-soaked world as Nature checks her closet to see what to wear that day; the sun rising and reflecting her choice across the water, ripples like corduroy....the shriek of the blue jay and insistant 1-note call of the cardinal mingle with the raucous laugh of the woodpecker and chatter of the finches and sparrows as squirrels fuss and squawk at one another running rings up and down the tree trunks - to not hear that symphony ever again would surely be a punishment....wild raspberry bushes prickle out onto the path - a few deep, rich purple berries still cling to their spiky branches waiting for the birds and squirrels and chipmunks to finish their final gleaning before the winter cover....i reach for one, grasping the bumpy fruit gently and hold it in my hand for the slightest moment, then pop it into my mouth - the sweet tangy juice bursting across my tongue - a gift, a moment to hold. my dog begs for whatever it is that i have and i share another with her - she, not as impressed, and suddenly needing to be held. i run my fingers through her curls and soft fur. her eyes half-closed as she leans into me and puts her head on my shoulder and sighs. the fur on her head soft and straight and silky, her neck curly and twisty ringlets, and her body thick already as her winter coat grows in. a frog plops into the stream nearby and the spell is broken as she darts off to explore. which of these moments - these gifts - could i do without...would i not miss? i'm thankful for each and all, and grateful most that the decision is ficticious...an exercise created only to make me appreciate what i have and use and so often assume is a given. l.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


ahhh...a quiet moment to myself....something i've craved for some time now. only the neighbor's lawnmower as white noise. time to look inward at the changes trying to take place. have you ever seen an egg hatch? this past spring/summer, i watched (with obsession) as 2 seperate nests of peregrine falcon baby eggs were born, nested, and eventually hatched and grown, then flew away to begin their new lives. i could imagine the baby peck peck pecking away on the inside of the egg - trying to crack through the shell, then taking a big breath of new air and stepping out. that's how i feel. like there are changes occuring inside this egg - this shell - of my body. Not physical, though. changes brought about by growth, and circumstance, and experiences. i ask - who am i now? as much as i'd feel like i'm the same as my 30-year old self, or even 20-something year old self (in some respects), i've grown and changed over the years. not a bad thing. but i try to imagine who i really am now - as my 48-year old self. yow that sounds old! almost 50. i try to picture myself living alone with no obligations or financial worries. no outside distractions. now, what am i wearing? what clothes reflect outwardly what i feel inwardly? how is my hair? long and straight and silver? short and dyed "natural" brown? short and silver? do i shave my legs? am i wearing contacts or glasses? am i living alone, or with someone? what is that person like? do i have pets? sheep? llamas? do i work outside the home (as they say) or am i "making art" ? what do i like to eat? am i living in the country? near a lake? in the city or suburban area? how is my house decorated? do i have a studio in the house or a seperate building? am i outspoken, or more quiet and tactful? have i stayed true to my inner self? or made concessions to bring about my life? if so, why? all these questions are demanding answers. August has typically been a month of change for me - i've usually started/ended jobs in August, or gotten married, or moved - all in august. this year was no exception....my job ended, my friend Kita left us, and the every-so-many-decades questions started niggling. i have been lucky in my life to have met some incredible women of strength and courage and talent. women who carry an aura about them that draws people to them...i imagine meeting the Dali Lama would be on par with Polly - so regal with her tall, lithe form and long silvery hair tied back in a ponytail as she creates wonders of art. and Cher - so the earth mother...beautiful radiance with a get-it-done spirit - but not the hard-edged striving sort of get-it-done....just a sweet confidence in herself and such a giving spirit....joy found in watching/helping others find their voice artistically. Penny...my first real role model...a brilliant physical therapist....so keen and perceptive to the body and the spirit of her patients....quietly giving whatever is needed to help others - she once wrote a check to cover a girl's tuition, insisting that the girl never under any circumstances be told where the money came from. know anyone like that? the list goes on for me....admiration but not envy. a point of reference to know where to raise the bar. women who gladly offer bits of life, unknowingly, and change the pond by the ripples their acts of kindness and example set in motion. 1 small pebble can still create large ripples. i've worked in some very hard places. not necessarily "difficult," but hard in the way that closes your heart and makes your brain redirect the nasty stuff away. those redirects also prevent compassion. a person would be overwhelmed. little by little, it's grown back....compassion with boundaries, though. that's good. so back to who am i. i guess if i were to picture my ideal, physically, i would have long hair to tie back or braid. it would probably be silver (ok - grey) because coloring it is just a bother. i would wear long skirts and funky tops - very 60's - or jeans and baggy sweaters - cozy handknit sweaters. i would live in a very very large log house with a few wings. one end would be an art center and studios for people to come for a weekend retreat and create. private rooms, big windows letting in the light and the gorgeous scenery. it would definately be rural, and near a lake or river, or at least a large babbling stream. the backyard is huge - many acres - with 1/2 of it fenced for my dog, and dogs of visitors. the bottom floor of the house on the other side would be guest rooms for women who just need a place to be for a week or so....creative women, tired women, women on the verge of epiphany. a large main room dominates in-between the 2 wings. high vaulted cathedral ceilings with skylights. a large stone fireplace floor to ceiling on 1 end, comfy couches and tables throughout, and a large kitchen wiith a generous dining table - all done in Adirondack style. bold original artwork on the walls....reds, ambers, warm yellows prevail. the top floor is mine. open and loft-style, with 1 end my private studio...the other my bedroom and large bathroom. the smell of balsam permeates the house and grounds and sets the mood of peacefulness, rest and creativity. women gather for workshops in the studio end of the house, and share meals in the large dining room. so i guess, barring a lottery win, that may never come about. maybe. but, the spirit of all that it is - that can be reality. that can be woven into the fiber of the chick peck peck pecking at the shell, creating a new life, taking that first big breath of new air - allowing the change to come forth - allowing the life that began small and confined to test out new wings and take a few stumbling test flights and eventually live with the intent that was there for it from the beginning. L. ADDED: there is a comment posted that is not from a friend. please do not link to it - i have disabled that feature, but don't know if this link will crash your computer or is inappropriate. Don't go there, as they say! L.

Monday, September 18, 2006

on being a stepmother

stepmothers really get a bad rap - "wicked stepmother" and the like. i'm a stepmother to 2 teenagers (16 and 17) and although i enjoy terrorizing them from time to time, it's all in good fun. (till someone loses an eye). a few years ago, i worked at 911, and the kids were convinced i could track and monitor their every move and thought. (hmmm, wonder where they got that idea??). they stayed straight and narrow during their visits to our house. on the rare occasion that i was off work when they were there, all it took was a pointed stare and a "so. where'd you go? who were you with? what'd you do?" i never really specified the "when" part, so they'd foolishly give up all sorts of information, figuring i knew anyway. but - i never told on them. if the biggest sin in their total lives was putting pennies on the railroad tracks, i could live with that. being a stepmother is actually kind of good - if you get the right kids. first and foremost, know that the kids will always come first. you cannot fight this battle and win. just as my mother gave up the newest fashions so i could sport them, i find myself wearing clothes that just came BACK in fashion. know that they will eventually go away to school, and at least the house will be quiet. the best thing about being a stepmother is that you get to hang out with kids that you don't have to be responsible for. i mean, the usual - look both ways, stranger danger, don't EVER have sex until you're 30....that stuff. but as far as the day-to-day discipline...not my job, man. the girl child remarked that she felt like i was her second mom. since her real mom is alive & well, that seemed awkward, so we decided i'd be her cooler, older friend. (till she turned 14 and suddenly i was no longer cool - just older). i was good for rides everywhere though. i heard 2 women griping about their husband's kids the other day while i was in line at Wegmans. it seems that this woman could see right through the manipulation these kids were involved in - playing 1 parent against the other. she kept telling her husband what was going on to no avail. we had a brief trial run at that particular ski jump in our home. i figured my husband was a man - he'd never understand the intricacies of the female mind. so i went to the source - the girl child. i explained to her that she was tearing apart the very fiber of everything that strong women like Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman had worked for. that by wheedling and cajoling, she would never accomplish anything. i told her that her mother was a strong proud woman and would be happy - no - proud to buy her those $79 sneakers, and that she should ask her right away when she got home. girl power. then sent her to the internet to look up Susan B. Anthony. not sure what happened at the other house, but the parental ping-pong ended abruptly. we have very few rules in our house, which is why the boy child and his girlfriend-on-birth-control like it here so much. the main rule i enforce (okay - it's the only one) is DO NOT EVER SLAM YOUR BEDROOM DOOR. ever. i hate doors slammed in anger. so the rule is - slam it and lose it. 1 week off for the 1st offense. 3 months for the 2nd. open air for life after that. imagine a 15year old boy and his hormones....rage, stomp, slam. 1 week off the hinges. yes, i know how to get a door off it's hinges all by myself. even with a 15-year old screaming and crying and begging. rule's a rule. only took 1 time. once after that, the wind blew his door shut and slammed it. he ran into the hall in a panic - "the wind blew it....the wind blew it!" i made like i was headed for the hinge, then gave him a pass. see, being a stepmother is not so bad....a "real" mom would still be arguing the point. i strike terror, then retreat. the 1st Christmas we were married, the kids stayed over Christmas eve. i worked the 3pm-11pm shift at 911. got home about 11:30. saw all the presents under the tree and COULD NOT WAIT till morning. so i made breakfast, turned the clocks around, and made my husband go wake the kids up with me. i told them it was morning. technically, it was. anytime after midnight is considered the next day. they were stumbling into the walls, but made bold efforts to make it to the tree. no one ate breakfast - they were wise enough by then to ask who'd cooked it. once they started ripping into the presents, i confessed. hey - they still talk about that night and it's been 5 years. you can't buy memories like that. ask them what they got for christmas that year.....who knows? but they'll tell you the story. so being a stepmother - not so evil. a little mischievious maybe. but who knows - maybe someday they'll be stepparents and will remember. and appreciate what i gave them from my heart. and that i never ever told when they wrecked their mom's car. L.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

news from beyond

home at last! Nikki couldn't believe her eyes that we were home....she wagged her whole body, as only dogs and kids can do....a winning lottery ticket and a trip to Disney all rolled into the shape of....MOMMY! of course grandma gives her chicken (real chicken) but mom is mom. today, we headed to the spca fundraiser. i knew an animal communicator, Janet Ridgeway, would be there and i was headed to her no matter what. it's weird, i consider myself a spiritual person, and yes, i believe that animals do communicate with us on a certain level. but i have a eye turned toward skepticism about someone billing themselves as an animal communicator - i mean, how do you corroborate? but i needed her to tell me what i needed to hear so that i could move past this lethargy, this pea soup feeling dragging my heart down. i needed to be able to enjoy Nikki without feeling guilty, and i needed to stop crying inwardly and outwardly at the most inopportune times ...job interviews, sex, grocery stores...TMI? sorry. so i sat in front of her on a metal folding chair, fully prepared to steer the conversation to my satisfaction, if need be. such a peacefulness decended, in the midst of all the barking dogs, and hundreds of people, it was just me and her and Nikki and Kita. weird? you betcha. scary? not at all. to have a chance to say goodbye properly .....priceless and precious. i'll spare you the details of the whole conversation - actually, i still need to hold them to my heart and private. what i came away with to share, though, is that animals don't recognize the difference between "here" and "there" ....they exist. they exist. whether they are in their physical body, or their "spiritual" form - it's no different to them. so for me, there was a peace - a moving away of the stone blocking my heart. Kita was still Kita, only not in pain, not needing constant care, not dependant anymore. he was the dog i remembered from years ago. only without the constraints of his body. i told Janet i felt like i'd made the right decision but at the wrong time. she said it was the right time, and proceeded to give me details known only to me and my keeter-dog. so...will i still miss him? you betcha. but differently. missing someone without regrets entangled is a much lighter load to carry. so much sweeter the memories when they aren't tainted with should haves and maybes and what if's. i can remember him now without feeling like i betrayed him or disrespected all that he brought to my life. and that is worth everything. that, as they say, is priceless. i believe i've chased the dragons from my sleep. L.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

mountains & memories

i'm in vermont ....on one side of me are the Green Mountains (yes, like the coffee) and the other - Whiteface, Mt. Marcy, the Adirondacks. it's like being surrounded in a protective circle of mountains. the leaves are starting to turn a bit more than at home...fall has started it's trip down from the north already....slowly, the leaves begin to change - honey-colored, amber, pomegranate, firey red. it's almost an imperceptable change - in the daily bustle and rush, your mind's eye sees and glories in the colors, but they're almost blocked out by lists of chores and reminders and emails and cellphones. before you know, (huh - before you KNOW), it seems like 1 day and they blaze in their glory...the sunlight hitting them just right, a film of dew catching the rays like a dreamcatcher in a store window drawing you in. wow! beautiful. but just as you've begun to notice, they're gone. mixing on the streets with wet rain and cars, turning into a slippery mess, no longer the glory they were just 2 days ago even. pay attention, life's a lot like that. miss a moment - well, you've missed it. i't's 6:53am, and I'm sitting in the hotel lobby with my hair straight on end, no shower yet. just came out for free lobby coffee and a smoke. yesterday we changed rooms. they'd booked us into a 1 bedroom suite - remarkably with no dresser! i travel heavy. we were going to move to a hotel down the street that only had a 2-level penthouse available (such a shame!), but this hotel upgraded us free and we have a 2-bedroom suite with 2 dressers and a kitchen. okay, i'll forgo the gas fireplace for more shopping money. previous to my "life change"2 years ago, i spent my life avoiding the things i feared - a full time job all in itself - my fears seemed real and were abundant....i feared large bodies of water (anything larger than a swimming pool), i feared most social situations - even with friends sometimes, i feared leaving my house from time to time. 2 years ago, i said enough. i took time off work to recharge my fried brain, and relax. during that summer, i decided i would do 1 scary thing every week, and 1 fun thing every week. the fun things often involved doing a scary thing - like a road trip to a new quilt shop or a felting workshop (by myself) in Auburn. (that was actually just at the end of the summer i think). i learned to kayak. there i was, barely able to fit into this plastic tube of a vessel - anything flotational strapped to my body - about to head out into the deep scary waters of.....the Seneca River. woo-hoo! i figured the river was like an old friend, since it was right behind my house. it would never hurt me. if it did, it would be forced to stare in the direction of my house for all eternity knowing what it had done. i did it - i loved it, and continue to have a respect for the water, but the incredible places i've been - that i would have missed - had i not taken that step. i stepped out to conquer fear #2, heart pounding, sweatin'like a whole church....which, speaking of, is where i went. i hadn't even been able to go to church, fearing a panic attack would leave me running for the door (you're supposed to fear God, not the people, right?). i went. i lived. i also learned that church is not for me. i have an idea, a feeling, a solid as the Green Mountains knowledge of what God is for me. it is an unshakable and permeating thing. it just is. and no church so far matches up with that. i feel church in the woods, or on Lake Ontario. so, fear #2 faced - not entirely conquered, but faced. i won't bore you with the details of my minute-by-minute progress, but suffice it to say, i began to see how these fears were limiting me - had imprisoned me - had made me dependant. once i saw that, it was me against fear. i conjured an image of personified fear - i gave fear a face, and a body, and made it into a real person (pay no attention to the man behind that curtain). once i "knew my enemy"the rest became easier. i've tried to sculpt "fear"but need a bit more sculpting instruction. actually, a lot more. so knowing all this, knowing how i feared feared feared water, knowing that the only way i could live my life was to control it - to manage the unknown before it happened - to be hyper-prepared - you might chuckle and wonder how i made it from NY state to Vermont on the ferry? driving heavy cars onto a flotational vehicle - and yes, the tractor trailer WAS right next to us. as i started to feel a little skip & jump in my heartrate, as i remembered all the ferries that had spilled over and sunk, i noticed we were surrounded by the Green Mountains and the Adirondack Mountains...a circle of protection - a talisman against anything bad. and i noticed the colors of the leaves on the opposite shores....amber, golden mustardy colors mixed with pomegranate and fiery red. and it took my breath away. and i thought, if this is my last sight before i go, it was a good ride. then i just saw the leaves and forgot about the fears and concerns and i breathed a deep lungful of fresh, crisp Vermont air as the boat hit the pilons and docked safely. .....L

Sunday, September 10, 2006

return of the music

i found this picture of Kita licking Bear's head taken 2 weeks before Bear left us....oddly, it was such a comforting thing. i can now rest in my heart that they are together - company for one another. once that burden was released, the creative ideas started to flow. up till 2am, slept till 5:30am, then in the studio again...tentatively (at first) moving glorious bumpy dupioni silk around till EUREKA! i have the shell of my design. now it's the hard part - how do i put this whole thing together?? i always start backwards....surprised i wasn't a breech birth. for me, color and texture are food - the rough texture of tree bark, the play of dazzling sunset light across the lake - i see whites and greys shimmer along beside purples and blues and un-namable colors..a blue jay's screech is vibrant...a morning dove or a bard owl conjure taupes and dusty mossy colors...i see and feel the world in sensory ways - sensuality at it's truest...the soft strong feel of roving turned to felt....the smell of Ivory dish soap sends me (i use it in my felting). funny how smell, in particular can trigger memory.....cotton candy or cooking sausage means State Fair....Chanel #5 is my mom (the one from my childhood, not her current mom-ness)...beeswax melting in my hot pot is a warm summer day all the way....the smell of a fabric store - well, that's Gail...and remember Patchouli oil from the 60's - er - a few years back? that's Francis from my high school bus - i envied her largeness - black wild hair past her shoulders and out like an afro, long woolen coats usually in taupe or black. she was tall. and large. and bold. and loud. she'd get on the bus (the last stop) and yell "hello fellow students!" then laugh raucously. I'm not sure what the busdriver thought, but i bet his route was less to look forward to once she graduated. she was the most incredibly exotic person i'd known up till 10th grade. never said a bad word to anyone - unless you decided to pick on someone. then watch it. hero of the underdog. on a wet day (rain or snow) the smell of patchouli would stick in our noses long after homeroom. and what about mac & cheese or meatloaf? food smells are a big part of my memory banks - although i remember more take-out and go-out growing up, then actual cook-out. funny how anything "scented" is now called "aromatherapy" and marked up a few bucks! and do we pay extra for un-scented? who ever heard of being chemically sensitive to smell in the 60's, 70's or even 80's? those of us who lived through those decades are lucky to have any sense of smell at all - noses clogged with pot and cocaine. smell is so connected to taste as well as memory, i think. and goodness knows, i relate to food! now that i think of it, some of my best pieces were food-related....eggplant and olive colors, etc.****** i took a quick break to check my email...my friend (since i was 12) Brenda and her husband Bob (who she met because I wouldn't go out with her one night) just moved to Castle Rock, Colorado. it sounds so incredible - mountains out your window....shopping nearby. i can only imagine my smoker's lungs trying to suck air in that elevation. but worth the view, i'm sure. well, i'm off to try a new Japanese/Chinese buffet up the street....usually leery of them - what IS all that gelatinous red slime hiding? but i can't cook,and no one else will tonight, so off to a new taste adventure. peacefulness.......L.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

wabi sabi

think on this: Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. the next time you're taking a walk, notice.....the smell of coming autumn - that mossy, composty, nutty smell, mix in some pine sap - when you get to that one spot where it's all earthsmell, stop for a minute - inhale. savor the smell, soon to be hidden under a cloak of blue/white crystals, sleeping for a time. now, how does it make you feel? write it down maybe. doesn't have to be Nobel quality. don't think - just jot. words, phrases, memories. now walk on....are the leaves changing? falling? are they wet and slippery on the ground? crunchy? what colors are they? red? what shade of red? is the sun lighting them, or is it cloudy? droplets of dew/rain on them? notice them. memorize them. write it, on paper or just your heart. wabisabi - impermanent. walk on. what do you see? an acorn dangling from a bare tree limb, waving in the breeze ever so slightly saying goodbye to summer or hello to autumn? watch the squirrels gathering nuts, making spirals up a tree...they call and fuss at other squirrels. the sound of the birds, restless to get on with their long migration - gathering here, then there. geese in practice formations squawking direction and order and cadences as they make yet another flight, new family members in tow. wabisabi...the sounds, the smells, the sights.....impermanent, imperfect, incomplete - each needing the other, each guiding the other through the cycle of life....the earth rotates causing less sun hours causing chilly air causing migratory birds to migrate and leaves to change and fall causing the loamy earthy smell reminding us that the earth has completed another cycle of life. wabi sabi - impermanent, imperfect, incomplete. the same spot, same time tomorrow will be different, i promise. you'll have to keep checking to see if i'm right. write it down. on paper or just your heart. L.

early mornings

aren't early mornings just the best? i mean, where i am in life type early mornings- no late nights the nights before spent dangling on a bar stool with a smile pasted on my face making small talk with some inappropriate guy i'm sure i just fell in love with...way past the teen angst stage- holding the phone to my ear with numbed fingers listening to the love of my young life breathe and hoping my parents don't pick up the extension and find out i'm still up not talking on the phone to some inappropriate kid from science class. yeah - the one who only shows up from time to time and sets his socks on fire with the lighter for the bunson burner. that one. or a night spent waiting in a dark apartment, car hidden around the block - that defiant "no, stupid, i didn't wait here all night for you to show up 3 hours late with an excuse as thin as the smoke from my twenty-second cigarette of the night - i went out with someone else and now YOU can wonder" scenario. the cat playing shadow tag with headlight beams through the blinds - headlights from other cars dropping off voices with musical laughter brought home with warm memories and wrinkled shirts from a night of embraces. the faucet dripping into the cake plate in the sink. i always ate Sara Lee from a proper plate in situations like this. it just seemed right. less unintentional. a series of inappropriate men in my life. truly a James E. Strates show of love. it's funny, now, to think back on all the promises and excuses and blaming - was it me....was it him...now, as i approach the middle of this adventure called My Life (okay - i've made the approach, and have been cleared for landing - are you happy now?) the things that just tore me up and convinced me i'd never live through them - those are the very things i'm thankful for and even chuckle about now. for as devastating as it was for my 5th grade 1st boyfriend to dump me for the new girl from New Jersey with the go-go boots, eventually you move on. at 48, you can't hold onto that hurt. :) but seriously, my favorite quote - okay - ONE of my favorite quotes: That which does not destroy us will empower us. Winston Churchill knew his shit. at least he was good for a sound bite. so my rambling early morning point of the day is that i've learned not to panic and get all chaotic at the drop of a hat. the worse things get, the more i plan. the more lists i make. more importantly - while i'm going through the hurt and chaos of whatever disappointed or tragedy has crossed my karma, i know i can get through it and i know i'll be a stronger person. each one of the so-called tragedies i felt growing up (and i'm still growing up) - i was sure that it would drag me under. but from the viewpoint of the "after" picture, i made it. and i can use that time as a reference point to teach myself that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it's not always a train. that if i was able to survive such-and-such, then this will be survivable too. "this" being whatever. "whatever" being dependant on the hormonal climate du jour.....don't let them kid you - being at the age of dealing with PMS and peri-menopause at the same time/different days, is not for the faint of heart. someone up there is getting a good laugh outta this, and when my time comes, i'll be skiddin' up to the pearly gates with a "fear this" t-shirt on - hershey bar in one hand, bag of chips in the other, and a look in my eye. yep - THAT look. hey - get up early tomorrow - make a cup of coffee or tea, sit outside quietly, or inside by an open window if you can. just listen. the birds. the smells - morning smells so much more wonderful. don't make a list of things you have to do that day. just be there. at that moment. now THAT'S what life is all about. l.

Friday, September 08, 2006

pic by request

by popular demand - Kita. (actually Nikita). my younger rescue eskie came to me named Nikki. it worked out because i'd always called kita, "Kita." i've heard from so many friends about ths blog....i didn't mean to make so many of you cry! i've always said, though, never trust a person who doesn't truly love an animal of some sort. thank you all for your kindness and support. i really mean that. feel free to post your thoughts, dreams, wishes, CREATIVE IDEAS for me (:) . i'll be in Vermont next tues - sat and hope to come back eager to hit the sewing machine, dye pots, roving and whatever else! this life thing - pretty interesting, eh? i have some really funny/interesting family stories to share, but first - my bathtub awaits............linda

about art

so for the past year, i've been thinking about art....i should have been creating art, but my muse seems to have gone on an extended vacation. i got caught up in the "business" of art - making wearable art for the masses, in particular. i have thousands of dollars of silk from China, dyes from California, wool roving from Australia, and no inclination to do anything with it. from time to time, i'd churn out some very nice hand-dyed scarves, or felted wool scarves, and local boutiques would pay top dollar for them. but there is this wonderful, important expression rambling around inside me and i'm not able to bring it forth. that's normal for me to an extent - you catch an inkling of an idea out of the corner of your mind's eye, then WHOOSH! it's gone. but experience has taught that if you keep quiet and wait, it'll tentatively show it's face again, one shy step at a time, creeping toward you like a stray cat after the kibble you hold. then, when you have confidence in it - that it won't thrash you with it's claws and bolt, you quickly sketch out the basics - wash it off a little, and get rid of the fleas and mud - rhetorically speaking. after you have the basic form, it's time to develop it's character - it's art now i'm speaking of, in case i got too "out there" to follow. fiber? wood? metal? plaster? what material will best show the intent - the message - the expression - of this work? the end result, after months of birthing, may not look anything like that original sketch, or may remind you of that 1st vaporous thought - only in intention. a tree becomes a figure of a woman. a figure of a woman becomes a shoe. whatever the result, you proclaim it art and move back to the quiet place, kibble in hand, to await the next gift from the muse. 2 summers ago, the art came fast and furious and fabulous. i couldn't finish one project fast enough to start the 2nd and 3rd and 4th. i wondered then if my art was art, since there was no suffering - no pangs of birth. just free-flowing and furious. i guess "furious" may be the best description. that was cataloged in my mental file cabinet as "the angry summer." i was angry that i was working at a dead-end job that was mind-numbing. supervisors casually following people to the bathroom to be sure they weren't actually taking 2 minutes to catch their breath from the heavy phone volumes. a gulag of a place. the money - well, that was the golden handcuff. every friday, they took a little tiny piece of your soul in exchange for the coin. when 20 out of 100 people are out on extended leave for stress-related problems, well, ya gotta scratch your head. then beat feet. so i was angry that i was 47 years old, had given up my house, my comfortable life, my time, my studio, my autonomy, to marry a wonderful man with 2 part-time children. looking back, it was more a merging of incomes for him, i believe. the details would bore you, and make me look like a whiny-baby, so i'll spare you . sometimes the right brainer does not need the left brainer to complete them. sometimes, the right brainer does just fine. and -gasp- sometimes a person is complete all on their own! so, back to the point - i was angry that i was being shoved, unwittingly and unwillingly, into a box made to fit someone who cared deeply about a clean house, and knew how to make pot roast, and got all the laundry done (including folding and put-aways) in the same day, and thought car pools were wonderful, and made after-school snacks, and got manicures and wore size 4 and somehow managed to make it to all the kids' activities and ...AND work a full time job that brought in buckets of money. it was a tight fit. i had gained weight, and was no longer a size 4. i can't cook, nor do i have the desire to learn. God caused the invention of frozen dinners and restaurants to come to fruition - i would partake of His bounty. my single-girl grocery shopping consisted of: 5 frozen dinners, some tuna, bread, mayo, dog food, and a carton of cigarettes. bam. done and home - 30 minutes max, microwave humming, paintbrush or sewing machine flying - multitasking - making dinner and making art all at once. quality of life? you betcha! for it was the art that drove me. it was the birthing of an idea, a concept, an expression. to see it take form under my hand - ohhh. the sweet angony. but that changed when the anger entered. see, like animals, creativity recognizes the negative. i know - most artists you learn about in school are depressed or angry, cutting off ears or yearning after a love that can't possibly be returned in kind. but it only when you get to that sweet spot - that zone - can the chaos clear - even for a second, even just an eye in a tornado - only then can the muse peek through and reach you. the thunderclouds in my mind were so thick and tall that that was not possible. so i made "production art." unsatisfying at it's best. and i quit my job. oh - a shift in the paradigm. (i have no idea what that means, but have always wanted to use it conversationally. forgive me). since i was home all day, scrubbling about with my bathrobe on, working on my so-called hobbies, then the xpectations were kicked up a notch. i was now official taxi driver, and things that were once appreciated were now expected and swift derision followed if the goal was not met (that soggy half-cooked meatloaf was once quite the family chuckle, now thrown across the kitchen figuratively). during my semi-annual physical (i say semi because, like most women, it had been a few years. we tend to put others 1st and then don't have time to take care of ourselves) my dr says maybe i should try an anti-depressant. i'm thinking more of an extended vacation, but i'm too worn out to fight, so i begin popping "mothers little helpers" as the song says. a glorious numbing sets in. no lows. no worries. just a nice moderate straight line to calm. HOWEVER - no highs. no creative chaos. no bursting-with-enthusiasm-can't-wait-to-hit-the-studio. it was great for the family. anice predictable day. they are people in need of routine. i was an emotional zombie. i stopped popping the chemical leash, and attempted to return to my life, previously scheduled and in progress. what they don't tell you (or maybe the print was too small for these old eyes) is that lingering side effects may occur - memory problems (not like BAD memories, but like "now how the hell do i get home" memories.). and concentration issues - like - i am going to create....now what was I doing? too much effort to sketch. my muse got sick and tired of me and left. recently i saw a mixed media piece i'd made for my brother, and marveled at it. i didn't even recognize it as my work for a few minutes. i couldn't believe i had created that piece. so now, 2 years later, i will once again, re-invent myself. or maybe just dredge through the ruins, pick out the salvagable, shine it up, and put it on the mantle. i am waht i am, says popeye. no truer words have been spoken by man. i burned the size 4 box, i will no longer accept mediocrity as a way of being. i will be/do/say what i want, when i want, unless it will cause harm or detriment to another's psyche - but not hold back at the cost of my own. a quote from Fried Green Tomotoes (great movie if you "get it").....I AM TAWANA! figuratively speaking. better yet - i am me. and that's not such a bad thing! my loves, my losses, my disappointments, my great moments have all rolled into a fabulous life after all. the bad just highlights the good even better. you don't notice the sun so much in a clear blue sky day, but after a thunderstorm, when the sun peeks out from behind a cloud - 1 ray at a time....is there nothing more beautiful? so rather than whine about how disappointed i am in my life/marriage/home life, maybe i should take a second to apologize to my muse for boring her with the unimportant-after-all-is-said-and-done stuff, sit quietly with some kibble in my mental hand, and get ready for some great art to explode on me. i'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

saying goodbye

2 weeks ago, I said goodbye to my best friend, my companion of 18 years-2 husbands-3 houses-millions of tears- 2 million smiles- 3 cars-4 dress sizes- 2 dogs- 1 cat-uncountable cups of coffee - 18,720 packs of cigarettes- 3 carpets - 6 jobs - and so many many of life's special wabi sabi moments sweet and dear. My dearest - my Kita - who taught me about love and patience and listening to the unspoken and seeing with the heart when there was no common language except the heart - except the essential - the essence of each...the appreciation of what each brought to other. just a dog, you may say. unless you've had a dog - shared your life with that constant companion who asks only for a scratch behind the ears (and 1/2 your hamburger) you can't understand. his coat absorbed the tears cried with my lifes anguish...his tail wagged when lightness came to our house. his dark eyes seemed to know the secrets i kept from the world. every night in the summer, we'd walk the neighborhood at 7 o'clock - the best part of the evening - and when dusk began to fall, he'd insist on stopping just outside the door in front of the stoop and sit with his back to me - still, quiet, looking out to the stars as if thanking his Creator for the day and all it had contained. 6 months ago, we said goodbye to my husband's dog Bear. A truly wonderful friend i had known a mere 6 years, yet mourned with my deepest heart of hearts. i asked him to save a place for Kita, knowing the time would be all too soon for the friends to reunite. when the evening came for Kita, i admit, i wasn't ready to say goodbye. it was the kindest thing, i know. his pain, his parts worn and weary. but how do you say goodbye to all that he is, was? i screamed and cursed the good that we had, for it made it that much harder to let him go. there is something so undeniably pure in the love you get from a dog....a love that asks for nothing in return - it just ...is. My youngest dog still looks for him. she goes to the spot he slept and sniffs for him. she mourns for him. Today, i received a package in the mail from the emergency vet we'd taken him to - some of the kindest, most compassionate people i've known. it was a plaster cast of his pawprint. i ran my finger over the dips and curves, so very glad for this one personal tactile remembrance. yet my heart tore and screamed. how long will my heart cry? how long will i mourn? i have a curl of his fur in a small jar on my desk with the quote from ee cummings on it "I carry your heart with me - I carry it in my heart." last weekend i took my little dog to the lake. I'm not the type to look for signs and messages - i just live my life and try to make the right decisions. but, i had been asking for a sign that Kita forgave me, for it seemed like we never got a proper goodbye with him in such a critical state. when i pulled into the grassy area by the boat launch, it looked as though someone had run a lawnmower over a large amount of paper - it seemed as though "confetti" was flying everywhere. when we got out of the car, i looked closer - Monarch butterflies - thousands of them - literally thousands. on a stop as they head out on migration. thank you, Kita for the show. my best friend, i love you to the moon and back.