Thursday, December 23, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
It's almost Christmas. A holy season
some say. The evidence, I suppose,
is around us indeed: Gloved hands clasped
at the steering wheel, "Please, turn over."
The cat worshipping at the altar of the heater.
For my part, I am applying make-up - going for
the sun-kissed look, but an easy slip
ends me looking more bruised than anything,
a truer vision for sure.
Somewhere deep, deep in the muddy earth
there are frogs asleep, dreaming of sun,
creatures that have no use for Nutcracker
tickets, or a spot with a good view
of the lighted boat parade. They wait
for better times, do not, like the humans
tromping above over the slick skin of their heads
have to move through the cold to catch
a ray of hope on the other side.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
detail of a succulent wreath I've been tending since May as a Christmas present for a friend. interesting that the succulent with the most prominent piece of the shadow isn't itself visible in the picture.
Shadow Shot Sunday.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
We spent a week at my in-laws' house hunting in nearby towns. It's a strange and curious base camp, my in-laws' house, where all the pens advertise prescription meds and my father-in-law's hearing aid whistles feedback, a fragile trapped bird.
At one point we are having lunch with our real estate agent, discussing how Mike grew up in the area, how his parents are watching Isaac at the moment, etc. etc., when suddenly he turns on me. "And do you have parents?" he blurts innocently.
For those first few moments I am balancing my thoughts on the question like the intricate rock piles I've found on occasion on the beach, then, a wave, and they topple, granite chunks falling unceremoniously with soft thuds to this side and that.
"They're both gone," I say after a long time, and at that a black space extends out in front of me though this otherwise innocuous man in a green wool hat, tunneling beyond the diner booth, beyond main street bustling along outside the window, to somewhere that belongs to me but that I cannot fathom, that I do not know all the corners of, like the basements I've spent the morning creeping down to, poking around in, a foundation of some mystery, a less than usable space, cold and musty. One can drop into this arena with little warning - it might be the door off the kitchen, or sometimes the front hall. Headroom can't be guaranteed, the steps down can give way at any time, the things stored there stuff you can't yet deal with.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
To his credit, the man in charge of Home Depot's plumbing department did not get on his radio and call security when I approached him and noted plainly, "I want to make a magic wand."
We look at each other for a while.
"Maybe PVC pipe?" I offer. "Thin? Doesn't have to be black, I can paint it. And those white rubber stoppers for the ends? Like on the legs of metal chairs? Or step stools? What are they called?"
Ah, but in the aisle of pipe we discover the thinnest pipe is not thin enough. My box store shepherd has an lovely island accent (The Isle of Pipe?) and informs me, "All we 'ave is dis size 'nd oop." Though he's already gotten big time gold stars for not having me hauled away, for listening to my magical needs with more regard than most of my closest and dearest would ever dream of, he continues with serious intent: "Does de flexibilidee mattah?"
We look at hoses. Good potential, but I'd have to buy the whole coil. I consider my prospects, while my host takes a call from another customer - something about warranties, normal as all get out. I congratulate myself for adding spice to his day - the crazy lady whose son wants a magic wand for Christmas. When he ends his call, I thank him in that way that means he's off the hook. He looks relieved.
When I was in college studying languages madly, my career advisor washed her hands of me early on. "I'm sorry," she said, pushing my resume back across the desk at me. "I don't think we can help you." While others reveled in summer internships, I found out that the way I move in the world, doesn't always have a name or a space.
Lately, we have been house hunting. I walk into a 250-year-old colonial renovation project and hear it screaming to me about its future as a writers' guest house. I call the planning board and they "can't find anything in the zoning bylaws that matches" what I'm talking about. "I'm trying to grasp exactly what it is you are wanting to do, ma'am." Me too, sir. Me too.
So Home Depot is not my resource for magic. Somehow this doesn't surprise me in the least. Neither are planning officers stewards of dreams. So what. What I've learned in the time since Egyptian hieroglyphs excluded me from employment, is that just because those in charge can't define you, and even when you can't explain what precisely that vision looks like yourself, it doesn't mean you have to give up your dreams of magic.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Waiting for the dinosaur phase to end is like waiting for the truck phase to end. In other words, waiting in vain. I don't mind so much though, I'm beginning to be able to tell my anchlyosauruses from my iguanodons quite well, thank you..
Pictured: Oviraptor and Isaac
Hey Harriet for all kinds of shadowy visions.
Monday, November 29, 2010
And if anyone is an expert on Audacity, for godssake write me and give me all your tips.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Weary of waiting for my buddy to get this up on his podcast, so...Here's my book review of Danielle Evans' killer collection of short stories, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. I've also put the link on my sidebar under "What We're Reading." Anybody prefer the text over the audio? Can create a link upon request.
(Beware, adult language in some excerpts I read...Just in case you feel like blasting it in surround sound and prissy Aunt Felicity is visiting.)
These pictures were taken about a month ago, when the sun was favoring us a bit more than it is now. Isaac and a friend were searching for plastic glow-in-the-dark bugs hidden in the rocks at the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum - an activity connected to an exhibit on bioluminescence. The spinning sculpture watched over them as they studied the ground.
I often think that children should be considered bioluminescent, as clearly they make their own light.
Hey Harriet has all the shadows to beat. Check it out.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Isaac: These days I've seen people with shopping carts. I mean, not at stores, just people have them, like they must have bought them. Have you seen that man that sits on the ground and he has like hundreds of blankets in a shopping cart?
Me: Yes. That man has those blankets because he doesn't have a home. He uses them when it's cold if he had to sleep outside.
Doesn't have a home?
He's homeless. Some people choose that life, but other people are homeless because they are having a hard time. Maybe they don't have family to go to or the money to get somewhere to stay.
He must have friends, though!
Let's hope so.
Because you don't need money to have friends!
Happy Thanksgiving, friends. With much gratitude for all we have, for you and for my son whose wit, innocence, and intuitive intelligence knock me off my feet by the hour. And who has inspired from me so much writing.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
So far we have failed to convince Isaac to vigorously wiggle his two front teeth (both loose) so as to aid and abet the departure of the little bones from his gum line prior to a certain upcoming holiday, antagonism which we would follow by then inciting him to sing the song apropos of the event while dressed in some elf-like costume that will embarrass him heartily in only a few short years, completing our parenting
But it could be worse. I could make him watch this video. (if you make it to the end, watch for the green Christmas pig.)
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
This past September our family found itself in Seattle because of a conference Mike was attending. The first two shots below are me over a plaque in the sidewalk at the famous Pike's Peak Market and then the detail of that plaque.
Later in the visit we met up with friends that live there and Isaac got to reunite with his buddies - their 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. Wandering around with the kids on a rainy afternoon, we found ourselves at a (mostly) abandoned skate park where the kids had a blast racing around and sliding down the slanted sides.
For all kinds of shadows check out host Tracy's Shadow Shot Sunday at Hey Harriet.
Monday, November 08, 2010
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Friday, November 05, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
There is a hair cutting school in my neighborhood where you can get walk-in five-dollar cuts. It's a good deal, if students with scissors don't make you too nervous and if you have some extra time (cuz these cats are trying to get it right...). I took Isaac there to get the hair off his ears and out of his eyes.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Iz: Do we have any cardboard? I want to make a sign.
Me: What kind of sign?
Iz: One that says, "Please Don't Park In the Driveway" so Daddy won't drive on the beautiful chalk mural I'm going to draw.
(After obtaining cardboard and pen, we sit on the front step...)
Me: (writing) "P-L-E-A-S-E... Dddd-Oooo-Nnnn-Tttt... Hmm. "Park." How do you think I'd spell "Park?"
Iz: Pppp P!
Me: Okay. And Aaarrr...Aaarrr...
Me: What would "Park" end with?
Me: Oh, right - K. Oh, and Isaac, wait til you see -- "Drive" has one of those silent E's!
Iz: Hey! Are you trying to learn me to read??
Me: Wouldn't think of it, kid.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Is it my fault that Isaac is in love with the "Rent" Soundtrack? The boy has taste. Is it any worse than him running around the house singing "Ay ay ay, put your hands up high, 'cause you never know how long you're gonna live 'til you die" from Spearhead? Like I said, taste.
"The opposite of war isn't peace, it's CREATION."
- from "La Vie Boheme" (Jonathan Larson)
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
My friend Kate (geez, I have the coolest friends) has an article in the new Monterey County Weekly about whale watching in our bay this summer, which has been fantastically stellar (modify superlatives? why yes, I think I will, thank you.).
In one paragraph, Kate states, "Connecting with nature is the best way to inspire children to grow up committed to conservation, according to educator David Sobel, author of Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education. It’s crucial to give children a chance to build a lasting, nourishing love of the wild before they are burdened with worries about overwhelming environmental problems. Observing nature can also help lengthen attention spans and combat digital addiction." (emphasis mine)
Back in April of this year I wrote a couple pieces about my feelings on the new exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and how I thought they missed the mark for kids, making much the same point Kate does. Jenny Sayre Ramberg of the Aquarium picked up the blog piece right away, and we proceeded to have an interesting discussion within the comments. I also wrote a follow-up blog on the subject. That is as far as I got at the time. Until now.
Besides Kate's article which gave me renewed interest and vigor in the subject, I am rather concerned about what might be happening as the MBA takes down the beloved Outer Bay tank for the next 10 months to revamp it into the "Open Sea" exhibit coming in July 2011. First, let me say that the Outer Bay is/was a classic. In place since 1996, it is an enormous wall of glass where you can watch from ground level or sit upstairs in the dark and take in hammerheads, tuna, rays, and an amazing array of amazing creatures go on by. The balcony seats are the best in the house, in my opinion. I've been taking Isaac there since he was 3 months old. The beauty is unmatched, but more, the serenity is untouchable.
With the new and "improved" exhibit, they promise to address climate change and plastics pollution, as "as always" point to positive solutions. So my question again is HOW will that happen? In what FORM and in what ORDER at EYE LEVEL will these things come at us? I am also not comforted by the dangling carrot of more "multi-media experiences." Again, in my past discussion of this topic, I stated that I thought the screens were being a little too heavily relied on and upstaging the animals themselves. I don't want to play a game about a sea turtle, I want to watch one swim by. I don't want to be sucked in (and have my child sucked in) to a video of the sunfish, when -- if the tourists would quick flashing their bloody cameras for a second -- one might swim by in the flesh.
My aquarium renewal notice just arrived in the mail...I'm no Julie Packard when it comes to my ability to financially support this resource, but still. I need to know how my money will be spent.
Jenny, I think I will have to belatedly take up your offer to give you a ring at the aquarium. Hope to talk to you soon.
Monday, August 23, 2010
You must go to the coolest site I have seen in a long time.
I am the proud new mama to the word "starrify." "I hereby promise to use this word in conversation and correspondence as frequently as possible, to the very best of my ability."
For the sake of our youth, the future leaders of our planet, you must make it a habit to gravitate toward any education professionals willing to use their little gold stickers to starrify rather than reward. (consider it an entry under "school search part 5.")
With many thanks to my pal Eve for this one.
Friday, August 20, 2010
I stop at the bank to give my brother one less thing to do. “I need to leave some information about my mother's estate...” I tell the woman. “And when I say 'estate,'” I mumble to myself minutes later as I head back out the door, “I mean the 650 square-foot rental full of dust and expired toothpaste coupons.”
Most of the sorting, of course, is paper. The things I found in my mother's house. I really can't decide what is more precious:
The envelope addressed to the White House, stamped and ready for battle, or maybe the DVD titled “Life or Debt: Simple Steps for a Lifetime of Financial Freedom”...still unopened.
The business card of a “Middle Eastern dance artist,” or mom's current membership card to the NAACP.
Mom's passport, renewed and up-to-date, without a single stamp in it other than the invisible seal of optimism, or –and this could be the topper— the lyrics to “Born to be Wild” handwritten on looseleaf.
Magazines about living with Diabetes, wrist braces, neck braces, canes, walkers, prosthetic breasts, I toss each in turn into the donation pile, with the same mantra: “Well, mom, you don't need these, or these, or these. You're free now.” It should make me feel better, but it doesn't.
The phone rings and I see from the caller ID it's the consolidation company that paid out on her bills. They aren't collectors, no harm in talking to them, and so, I do. When I inform the woman that my mother is unfortunately deceased, she stops short and sounds genuinely sorry. I leave her with my brother's phone number. When we're ready to hang up, she expresses her sympathy once again, but then just can't help herself, “Have a great day!” she effuses.
I find an old Polaroid of mom from some Halloween past, dressed as a devil and hamming it up for the camera. I tape it at eye level to the door jam so devil-mom can watch over us as we sort through her books. In my delirium, I find this somehow hilarious, though my siblings don't get the joke. “What is that? Why is that there?” one or the other of my sisters keeps asking. “Is that Rita?” Better it were a photo of her with the same impish grin holding a whiskey sour instead of a pitch fork and toasting us while we sweat in the hell of her tiny house, the ceiling fans all dangerous blades, the monopoly game up for grabs.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Photo Credit: David Hall., Monterey Herald.
There is a project I've been a part of for a while called "Love Letters of Lynchburg" that is truly unique and interesting on many levels. Yesterday, we did a performance - a CD release party - that was a reading of love letters between two people from during the Civil War, backed by a live trio on an original score. All of it orchestrated by the charming and extraordinary Bill Minor, who happens to be distantly related to the two wartime lovers. Here is a link to an article about the performance that gives a little more background. I'm tempted just to copy and paste the article, since I'm not sure how long the link will be good for, but anyhoo...
It was one of those times when you realize late on the significance of what you're doing. Bill asked me to read the letters of Susan Leigh Blackford, essentially to be Susan, and I wouldn't think of saying no to Bill. Along the journey, I learned how fascinating she was, the time was, the relationship she had was, and yesterday, how much our merry little band could touch people with the story. As one person noted in thanking us, the exchange was plain and simple an anti-war statement, nevermind from a war none of us can remember or even imagine.
I want to refer back to two poems, of mine and of Ruth Fainlight - from which mine takes its architecture - that I posted on this blog two years ago. Fainlight's poem in fact speaks specifically of wartime letters again.
How much do you use pen and paper anymore? Do you? What can it change to see personal communication become electronic? What does each do to shape the time we're in? How do we participate in that shaping?
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Another Shadow Shot Sunday? Hmm. I'm not much for routine, but here I seem to be again. Two for two so far.
Recently, a group of grad school friends were in Monterey for a 10-year mini-reunion. I played tourist in my own town for the first time in a long time. We went whale watching one day and on the way to the dock, got to hang out around one of the smelliest animals on the planet: the sea lions. I'm a sucker, though, and individually, from a distance, they are pretty sweet. This one seemed to be gazing into his
Behold the stinky sea lion:
And then we saw a bit of this:
After a crazy, packed weekend, we all felt a bit like this:
Enjoy more international Shadow Shots at host Tracy's site Hey Harriet.