Thursday, January 29, 2009

Down came the snow

Snow Down

Finally, the snow came down.
Wave after wave of powder,
A swirling mist covering the night.
Cloud filtered moonlight
Reflects eerily upon every hill.
Each tree becomes a study
In black and white.
The morning will bring the plows,
The traffic and the grey.
Until then,
A pristine world lies in wait.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Not my cat

Cats do not like wasabi. Other than being a foregone conclusion, why on earth would I know this? Because the not-my-cats are still on the prowl.

Don't get me wrong. I love cats. Growing up on the farm, we had between three and thirteen cats at any given time. Not only were they pets; (Dove, Rikki, Reesie, Bangor, Dutch, Magneto and Piper to name a few) they roamed the acreage and kept the mice down in the barn. It was their job. Out in the country, that's how it was. Even here in the city, I'd have at least one now, were it not for my husband's aversion to the idea. But then there are the not-my-cats. They are beautiful. One is some kind of Himalayan or Long Haired Persian or Siamese, the other two are fluffy and dark. But they are a hazard.

Our bird feeders hang over a shade garden, next to some Korean Spice and Spirea bushes. Loose neighborhood cats think of this as their all-you-can-pounce buffet. In the spring, a large black fluffy feline (yes, the one in the picture) quite literally flew through the air and snatched a cardinal off of the feeder. I have no idea where it came from or went to after, as he streamed horizontally across my field of vision like a low flying plane. Super Cat! He and his friends also decided that the flower bed along the back of the house (that the drier vent just happens to keep toasty warm on cold winter days) was their new litter box. N-n-n-n-no. So we sprinkled wasabi powder on the soil. The not-my-cats get it on their paws and fur, then lick....... They stay out of the flower bed now. Yes, they do.

If I ever manage to win over my husband' s objections, perhaps I will get a nice fluffy kitty and name her Wasabi. The poetic justice would be far too succulent to pass by.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Joker's Wild

Duck bathing with a "rubber humanie". I laughed my arse off. There was much to strike my fancy at Terra Studios, but this bit of whimsy tickled me down to the ground in a fit. Much does.

Contrary to my artistic penchant for melancholy, people label me the class clown. Can't say that I disagree with that assessment. All through school, (and now even at work), I was always the one getting in trouble for everything from satirical commentary to practical jokes. Anonymously penned "fake" expositions crossed teachers' desks, leaving some in fits of giggles and causing others to glare at me as I smiled my best "Who, me?" Cheshire grin. One year, on April 1st, I parked my truck three blocks away then hid in my office while employees told my assistant how I'd been fired and that the dreaded district manager was up in the office and wanted to talk to him. The poor guy nearly had a heart attack, but we still laughed until we could not catch our breath. Any gathering is fair game, hence our church choir's motto, "What happens in the choir loft, stays in the choir loft.". We laugh as much as we sing. Humor, whether used as a shield, a weapon or an invitation, has always been my forté.

Recently, a friend, commenting on my absence from a weekly gathering, told me that the group just was not as fun without me. She meant it; I was touched. Sometimes you wonder, like George Bailey, would the world be better off without me? It's good to know that someone's movie really would be different if I wasn't in it. Thank you, Clarence. Have some wings.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Forgive us our trespasses

Ruins are my downfall. If it’s uninhabited, falling down or past its use, then I want to poke around and investigate. Old crumbling buildings, industrial complexes that have made nothing in years, schools long void of children’s voices, cabins in the woods with overgrown or nonexistent pathways to their doors, rusting rail yards, forgotten roads leading to nowhere, bridges that cross only memories of water…. These fire my imagination like nothing else.

Unfortunately, in order to preserve these treasures before they turn to dust, trespass is usually required. In my travels I obey the conservation edict, “Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time,” but where I go seems more dictated by a lesser known verse that Woody Guthrie wrote to his iconic “This Land Is Your Land.” One of the verses you didn’t learn in school goes:
“As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!”

For me there is no moral dilemma. It’s do unto others. If I came home from work and someone was in my garden taking pictures of my irises, I would greet them, yes, question them, and as long as they were not taking anything but pictures, I’d more than likely offer them a cup of tea and sit down and talk gardening or photography with them for a while. And I’d feel honored that they found my garden inspirational! However, there is a difference between legality and morality. Someday I’m sure I’ll be run off, if not hauled in, for finding artistic inspiration in the “wrong” place. Until then, beauty is where you find it. Click here to see today’s adventure.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Brother of another

I am an only child, so I don't know what it's like to have a sibling. Not really. Some of my friends are close to their brothers or sisters, others have relationships that are downright contemptible. The dynamic remains a mystery to me. Yet, as an "only", growing up I was sort of adopted into my close friends' families. This gave me sisters and brothers both big and little. I was looked after, teased, pestered, spied on, picked up, turned in, hated, loved, envied, pitied and/or admired, all depending on where I was on any given day. And in true sisterly fashion, I gave as good as I got.

So it was hard to hear that one of those little brothers was sick. Even though he grew up to be quite the responsible man with wife, kids and the whole nine yards, he will forever be imprinted in my mind as the pesky kid bothering his sister and me while we dolled up to go out, or waking me up too early when I was hung over the next morning. How could time have played such a cruel trick? He'd been ill for quite some time, but over the holidays he took a drastic turn for the worse. Now, he's got a new liver to show for it. It's too early for predictions, but preliminarily things are looking good. We continue to pray. Let's hope the good news continues. Anyone who says you won't miss what you never had obviously never met the little brother that was never mine.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


"To Kill A Mockingbird" is this year's Big Read. The idea is to get everyone in town to read the same book, then get out in the community to events to discuss. I could not be happier, since it's one of my favorite books and movie. To celebrate and generate interest, Scout came to St. Louis. Mary Badham is still pixie small, never lost her Southern accent, is gracious beyond words and just about the cutest grandma around. She spoke with passion about the film, her experiences while making it, and of her relationship with Gregory Peck. He was, indeed, a kind and noble man and a father figure to her, not only during the making of the film, but throughout the rest of his life. It was fascinating to hear her tell how scenes were shot and what ended up on the cutting room floor. After a question and answer session, Mary had to catch a plane, but they screened "To Kill A Mockingbird" for the crowd that remained. Young, old, black, white, hippie-kids, suits; the crowd was diverse and a message from the book resounded off the walls of the University City Library. "I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks." - Scout (chapter 23)

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Loft lets me down

I have never seen anything positive come from a buy-out or a merger. One (eventually) killed my job, one killed the King of Beers, and now one has reduced my favorite radio station to a pale shadow of its former self. I am just not happy.

Many years back, my brother-in-law gave me an XM radio for Christmas. Very quickly I stumbled upon the Loft. It was acoustic-ish, but not folk, it played deep album tracks from my old '70's favorites (Fogelberg, Browne, Zevon, Mitchell, Young, etc) and from then newer artists (Ryan Adams, Jayhawks, Son Volt, Wilco, Rocky Votolato, Ben Harper, EastMountainSouth, John Gorka, Casey Chambers, Michael Penn, Ray Lamontagne, Gomez, and so much more). Talk was minimal except for Pete Fornatale's Mixed Bag Radio and a few special features/events and the Loft Sessions provided tasty live treats on a regular basis. There was a special vibe that flowed throughout the day. Mike Marone started off the wake up sets easy, then the shows would build from there, cresting in the afternoon/evening drive, then settling down for the night shift. They kept it eclectic, you did not really hear "the hits"; they would dig three and four tracks into a new release and really give you a feel for the record. I listened to The Loft daily. Turned my friends onto it, many bought into the XM thing after listening in my truck. Hearing those non-hit tracks resulted in CD purchases. By all accounts, their programming and marketing was succeeding..... until now.

Things weren't so bad right after the merger of XM & Sirius. A new DJ. A new show. But then the programming of the old shows began to change. More songs being repeated. More "hit" songs. More "hit" artists. Good luck hearing anything from Jackson Browne that couldn't be heard on regular FM radio, let alone Dan Fogelberg, Steve Goodman or Harry Nilsson. I don't know what the edict was that went out, and I'm sure there's a gag order that goes along with it, but now The Loft is gentrified, homogenized and politicized. It changed the vibe, it changed the flow, it changed The Loft. I'm sure glad the CD player in my truck still works, coz The Loft is letting me down.

ed. 1/13...... Did Mike Marone read this last night? After weeks of disappointment, and abandoning the wake up sets for my own tunes, I was in a rush to get out the door this morning and forgot the CD, so I turned the radio on. Much to my delight, my morning drive consisted of:
Dan Fogelberg "Someone's Been Telling You Stories", Warren Zevon "Johnny Strikes Up The Band", 10cc "Dreadlock Holiday" and Jenny Lewis "Carpetbagger". Maybe there's hope for them yet. Thanks, Mike.

Friday, January 09, 2009

When did "change" change?

Often, I do not know which way to go. Sometimes I feel like I have not been certain of anything since I was seventeen. Didn't know how to get what I wanted, but at least I knew what it was. It's been much less clear since then. Things like jobs, money, shelter, transportation and insurance all conspired against me. In other words, I had to become a responsible adult. And adults hate change.

I can remember a time when I welcomed change. Some kids dreaded the new school year, I was happy to have a fresh start. I changed boyfriends like some people changed their underware. When things started to go south at a job, I'd go out and find another, and do it quickly. The thought of moving to a new place was exciting. Now it's all terrifying. Just making the initial contacts in a job hunt takes a day of psyching up. Reaching out to a new acquaintance is met with the determination of forcing oneself to eat brussels sprouts. When did change become so confoundedly scary? So off I go, to psych up and eat some tiny cabbages. Hopefully, the fear will subside and turn back into excitement. Maybe I can turn back the hands of time and be sure of what I want again. After all, it's only change.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

January thaw

Bars of ice surround my muse; together we await the January thaw. Quite to my dismay, the new year has yet to allow much solitude. While my head is full of phrases and snippets, completing a cohesive thought is a struggle. Even a blog entry seems a daunting task. Perhaps it is the head cold I'm fighting (or the meds used to ease it). Perhaps it is the stress of a workplace filled with uncertainty as rumours fly of more impending layoffs. Perhaps it is the quickly filling calendar or the lack of winter snow. Whatever the reason, my mind is a muddle, pacing an icy fence-row. In time it will melt, or crack and shatter with spectacular effect. Freedom and solitude cannot be far away.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A New Year

It is another year. A new year.
Stretching out before us lies an unwritten book,
as fresh and pristine as midnight snow.
We fear to tread and ruin its fragile beauty,
yet our deepest desire is to run forward
through it with abandon, laughing.

Like that snow,
may this new year welcome you into its mystery.

May you greet each day without fear
as hope and laughter fills your heart.
Let this be the year.
The year you walk in beauty;
the year we live in peace.

Many thanks and blessings to you, my friends.
Happy New Year!