Wednesday, December 19, 2012

No More Bah Humbug

As I prepare to celebrate Christmas 2012, with this pall of tragedy draped heavily over it, I feel a kind of responsibility to find the joy in the season, as those lost babies in Connecticut would have. I feel a need to join in with the rampant overabundance of this holiday season and remember, with every step I take and every cent I spend, how lucky I am to be able to do it. I feel a sense of urgency when I think of Christmas with my kids this year, to celebrate it all to its fullest extent. 

I know how lucky I am. . .and I won’t whine about any of it. I will not allow the doom and gloom to win.
This world can be a sad, cold-hearted bitch at times, for sure, but we are alive in it today. I am off to find conscious joy in the shopping and the cooking and the decorating and yes, even in the spending, because I’m alive to do it. It would feel wrong to do otherwise.

In honor of twenty six people who have died too soon, I will celebrate Christmas with all of the love and joy and excitement that this season should bring to us. And that feels right and respectful.

No more bah humbug.

 We are alive.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I will vote!

I will vote for President Barack Obama next Tuesday.   Because inheriting a spiraling mess is a huge challenge for an incoming president, and I realize that it takes many years to slow that spiral and start an improvement.  Because I believe that President Obama deserves his 8 years to fix President Bush’s mess.  The deficit we have now came about as a result of funding two  wars and providing an economic stimulus to avoid a second great depression – which would have been MUCH worse for most of us than where we are now, recovering from recession. When I take that into account, and then add in the frustrating consequences of congressional republicans deliberately blocking bills, and then laying the blame at the President’s feet, I must, in all good conscience, give him my vote of confidence for a second term and hope that the next Congress will be more reasonable in their decision making, perhaps basing their choices on the validity of the bills, rather than the “just say no” game we’ve seen with this congress. It is a truly pathetic congress who ignores the well-being of their constituents in favor of blocking progress just to scupper a president.  

I will vote for President Obama because in spite of congress, in spite of his presidential inheritance, he has managed to move the country in the right direction. He could not wave a magic wand over the mess, but jobs are coming back, slow and steady. Manufacturing industries are beginning to thrive again. The war in Iraq is over. Troops in Afghanistan will be coming home soon.  And Osama Bin Laden is dead.

It’s actually a pretty damn good four years work.

I will vote for President Obama because I want my LGBT friends to enjoy the same rights as I do. The right to marry whomever they choose, to have children, to be at a hospital bedside without question.  I have a deep appreciation for President Obama’s consideration of the issue, and his subsequent announcement of support.  

This is progress.

I will vote for President Obama because past progress should not be wiped out.  Because Roe v. Wade should never be revisited in the Supreme Court. Because women sometimes need to have abortions, for physical reasons, emotional reasons, medical reasons and practical reasons  (NOT just reasons that are approved by a testosterone heavy and old-fashioned government!) and the potential loss of the right to make those decisions is an appalling step backward in terms of women’s rights.  Because removing funding for Planned Parenthood would be a catastrophe for women who rely on it for screening tests, advice on their own health and wellbeing and yes, abortions when necessary.   I will vote for President Obama because he is still pushing for equal pay for women, even though the senate republicans have once again blocked the bill this past June, proving that stopping progress by playing politics is more important to them than the rights of their female constituents. What other possible reason could they have had?  I will actively vote against this backward and trivial group of people, who are playing politics while women continue their age old struggles.

I will actively vote against pushing women back into the desperation of backyard abortion clinics and/or a return to homestyle gin/coathanger DIY abortions.  I will actively vote against removing rights we have, for which our female forebears fought a long and hard battle.

I will vote for President Obama because of course education is the future of the American economy.  Of course it is. Pushing for more teachers, better resources, and smaller classrooms is an investment in the next generation.

I will vote for President Obama because he is unlikely to lead us into world conflicts with an ill-chosen comment. His measured words and carefully considered actions and reactions on the world’s political stage are much less likely to endanger or embarrass us. Just in the past year, we have seen Governor Romney’s performance on that world stage.  I don’t think he’s a bad person, as such, but I have fears.  Insulting an ally is just embarrassing, but an ill-considered comment elsewhere could lead us into yet more conflict.  A careful and responsible president seems imperative in a volatile world. My money is firmly on President Obama.

He may not be a perfect president and, being human, mistakes are to be expected, but we, as a country, are coming back. Recovery is everywhere, in increased  job growth, in troops arriving home, in assembly lines producing American cars, in the reduction of foreclosures, month by month.  Possibilities are everywhere, in the potential for thousands of uninsured and underinsured Americans to be able to get medical treatment without fear of bankruptcy, to have screening tests that they’ve been putting off.  I will actively vote for “Obamacare.”  It may not be perfect, but the very idea of repealing it is repugnant. What is it with congressional republicans that they feel this need to stay where we are, wallowing in the status quo. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a mighty step forward, in an area that needed a mighty step forward.  It will undoubtedly have teething troubles, but I will give it a chance, willingly.  I will take that mighty step forward happily, and with confidence.

I will vote for a continuation of the direction we’re going, for compassion and decency for women, and for progress.

Even staunch and vocal Romney supporter, Chris Christie (R – NJ) sang the praises of our president yesterday, as they worked hand in hand for the needs of those who have suffered in the storm. Governor Christie has, rather surprisingly, shown the way. Put politics aside and look at the man.  Hatred and nonsensical partisan politics should have no real place in decision making.  I won’t spread the hatred by jumping on the insult bandwagon, but I’ll share what I like, and dislike, about two men, and their potential for improving America.

I will be voting for President Barack Obama on Tuesday. It will be my first vote in a general election since becoming a US citizen in 2010, and I am proud and honored to contribute my vote to this country that I love.  Remember how hard those who came before us fought for that right before you decide not to bother. Ignore the bullshit, as much as possible, and look at the facts. (There are web sites for that!!)  And remember, if you don’t vote, complaining about the outcome later is not the right thing to do!

Whatever direction your political opinion take you, let it take you to the polls next Tuesday.

Vote, vote, vote! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Being patient

I am a busy person. It's true that I don't go out to work each day, but I still don't really do "down time" all that well. Normally I have a bunch of school work, somewhere to go, something that HAS to be painted, designed, sewn, written, read, crafted, knitted - well, you see how it is.  Or, rather, how it was.
They tell me I'll get back there - I'm trying to believe.
Meanwhile, there's always some crap on TV or a movie I've never bothered to see.  And the couches are reasonably comfortable, so perhaps I should be grateful for those small mercies.
And they do keep telling me I'll get back there...

Today was a good day, though. I finished up this painting of Jazzi looking sheepish!

And I did a quick painting of Tipsy curled up behind her tail and glaring at me with those evil eyes which so clearly say, "wtf was wrong with life without a second cat, anyway?"

And then I did this self-portrait, which is as yet untitled, but will probably be called something like - "Swamped by all the crazy."  LOL - Well, that's what I was feeling when I was throwing that color around, anyway.

Not the most artistically immaculate art I've ever created, but a bit of fun anyway. Exhausted - feel like I did waaaay more than I actually did today, so back on the couch with an early glass of wine and some cheese and crackers.  Now, where were we, Dr. Phil/Judge Judy/Family Guy/Presidential Debate!

Have a cool and colorful day, and remember that it's all about being patient.

At least - that's what they tell me.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

the colors

There are wispy, bright white clouds up there today, in a sky that is a bright, summery blue, belying the distinct fall chill that wafts over me with every little puff of breeze. There is a silence here for now, at Great Meadows Campground, but it’s race weekend in Loudon, and before long, the avid race-goers will return and take up their temporary residence in tents and campers festooned with racing flags. I will enjoy the silence while it lasts.
Every so often, the angry chattering of busy chipmunks disturbs my peace, but I smile as I glance up to the top of the 60 foot pines, enchanted by their crazy antics and impressed by their agility.
I should be doing the homework load from hell that my professors have assigned this week, but instead I’m feeling the breeze, analyzing the exact amount of dioxazine purple I would have to add to pacific blue to make that sky color, and smiling at the chippies. And occasionally, I sent some good thoughts to a friend who's in labor as we speak, waiting to welcome her little autumn baby boy.  Every so often I tell myself off – girl, stop daydreaming and pick up that book. Start analyzing Native American literature, not sky colors. Get on with it!
Instead, my thoughts turn to apples – didn’t Rachel say she was going to make me a pie??  Hint, hint!!  And crisp fall leaves in their myriad of rampant color swirling around me. And bright yellow butternut squash and apple soup. And Halloween, pumpkin carving and new ideas I have for decorations.
Yes, fall is all about color, and while it brings the foreboding of the long, harsh winter, it is definitely to be celebrated, to be admired. Yes. I shall pull a blanket around me as I sit here at camp, and I shall revel in the colors.
I am fairly incapacitated today.  The vertigo I have suffered since the car accident ramped itself up into the red danger zone yesterday, and threw me down the basement stairs.  Nothing broken, thankfully, but I am a mass of color myself!  Nowhere near as pretty as the colors of fall, I might add! 
This day feels like the medicine I need. Calm, quiet and serene;  blue, white and cool.  
It’s a good day. A surprisingly good day.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Not Your Grampa's Camping!

I am lying in the recliner at Great Meadows Campground, Chichester, NH. We scurried into the camper a little earlier, as the one cloud above us opened up and bucketed rain down on our home away from home. It lasted only a few moments, and we hurried outside again, eager to revel in the serenity, to breathe in the intoxicating smell of the rain blending so perfectly with the scent from the multitude of pine trees that surround us. Mmm…smells like Aussie Christmas!
Jazz and Cleo are here with us, a little confused at the change of surroundings, but happily snoozing on the grassy patch nearby, and rushing, maddened, at scurrying chipmunks, only to be hauled up short by their own leashes. Turns out Jazz can get up a bit of speed over twenty-five feet, and is most indignant about the sudden stop at the end! And the chipmunk, pausing barely out of reach, chatters disrespectfully at her. I swear one of them flipped her off!
I gaze up through the tree branches, and look at the quickly moving clouds. I still find a little secret joy in seeing what is hidden in them. Even now, a puffy unicorn is galloping across the sky, before morphing into a long nosed mouse with enormous ears. A wizard, complete with Dumbledore’s magnificent beard, rolls across the sky, his kindly face gazing down at me.  It is so real that I send up a frantic wish,  and gaze at him long after he has transformed into a small, fluffy dog.  What becomes of my wish now?
There is a strong and elegant beauty in the sixty foot pines that surround us here, and I find myself gazing up constantly, admiring the height, the bareness of the first forty feet of trunk and the proliferation of pine needles near the top.  A chipmunk is chattering madly at the top of one of them now, and every so often a pine cone comes hurtling down and smashes into the ground nearby. Mike and I conjecture as to how much damage it could do if one of them bonked us on the head. After all, I say, didn’t I read somewhere that a penny thrown from the Eiffel tower could kill a person?? Ah well, says Mike, calmly. We’re fine then…money doesn’t grow on trees!!
And we laugh again, as we so often do, and go back to our own quiet pursuits. It is modern camping, this. We both love the traditional aspects of camping. The serenity of the great outdoors, the birdsong constantly surrounding us, even the angry chattering of the chipmunks. The evening campfire is our greatest joy, and Mike sure does know how to get a fire going! One evening, he left me in charge of it while he gathered up his fishing gear and wandered off to the pond for a half hour.  I spent the entire time desperately trying to save what had been a perfectly well established fire before he left, tossing in any number of dry leaves and pine cones to try to get it all riled up again, poking, prodding, and swearing at it under my breath. It was still burning feebly when he arrived back, but within minutes was roaring away ferociously. Cursing at it a little more volubly, I returned to my chair and left him to it. We must all admit our own shortcomings, and apparently, that is one of mine!  But I digress. . . Yes it is modern camping. Here I sit, immersed in all the glorious beauty of nature, with a laptop on my lap, brilliant wi-fi connecting me to the world outside, a cell phone with excellent service sits on the ground by my side, and my Nook is on the table, charging up for my evening reading session. Mike’s laptop is on the table, his cell phone never leaves his side and I think I saw his Ipod in his computer bag as well. Our camper is relatively luxurious, with couches and tables, a kitchen with a stove, a fridge, a microwave. It has a full bathroom, and a Queen size bed in the separate bedroom. It has full power throughout, is well screened. It has a TV, (which doesn’t work and we don’t care...{except if we're here on Thursdays, coz I mean, who misses Project Runway??!})  a full stereo system, and more cupboard space than I need! In what is proving to be a difficult summer, it is a true delight to be here, relaxing, recovering, renewing.
My medical instructions are to relax as much as possible, to allow the muscles in my shoulder, neck and back to heal without the stresses of everyday life. And my mother assures me that the body will heal itself quicker if I give in to the idea of passive healing and therapy, at least for now. So I sit quietly, I don’t use my left arm too much, I rest my head wherever it feels comfortable, I don’t use an over-arm stroke when I swim, and I wait and wait and wait for improvement. I go to physical therapy three times each week, and now I also go to acupuncture three times each week. The physical therapist has given up telling me how long she thinks it might all take, and my doctor says my neck muscles still feel like an iron bar, and my shoulders are still not sitting evenly. Each day starts with a headache, and a couple of times each week I forget how much I hate taking pills, and swallow a Valium to relax my muscles and mind and allow me a decent sleep.
It’s been a long summer.
But for now, I’m here in Camp Heaven, where the chipmunks are only pretending to be murderous – hopefully! Where the lichen on the trees look like a naughty child has splattered great globs of mossy green paint randomly over the trunks. Where the smell of fresh pine permeates the still humidity and reminds me of home. And where a frozen burger tossed on an outdoor grill can taste as succulent and wonderful as any filet mignon. Soon we will have a swim, and then we will light the fire and that wonderful campfire smell will waft around us, piney and fragrant. We will gaze up at the stars again, reminiscing gently, and we will plan the future with all the joy and optimism that this gorgeous place brings to us. Perhaps tonight we will toast marshmallows over the fire, reveling in the hot, gooey sweetness and trying to keep it at toasting, and trying to avoid the incineration!
And then we will check our emails, plug in all our technologies to charge overnight, and go to bed, counting our blessings here in our cozy little modern cabin in the woods.
It’s modern camping – and I love it!
ps....stung by a nasty black waspy looking thing just as I typed that last exclamation point. In true "terrified of bugs" Aussie style, I gathered up everything and rushed inside!  Now watching finger swell and feeling it pulsate uncomfortably while cursing the great outdoors! 

I hate!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Birthdays and other little sadnesses

Though you likely won’t hear
And you surely won’t see
And you think that you don’t
Have a thought left for me.

I love you as much
As the day you were born
Through thickest and thinnest
Through family torn.

I hope you remember
Plans just went awry
Til soon  never, never
Was meant as goodbye.

Mistakes with good motive
Mistakes nonetheless
The penitence endless
The heartache no less.

The lights of my life
Remain bright in my heart
Forever, my sweet four
If here or apart.

Happy 30th birthday, Number One!
I love you.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Last night, I dreamed I was a child again.
In a slightly surreal back garden, suffused in glorious hyper-real color and light, I explored all those nooks and crannies that I know so well.  It was full summer, and the heat was heavy and oppressive, even just past daybreak. I slipped out the back door, and breathed deep, filling my lungs with hot air, and smelling those familiar summer garden scents of lavender and lilac. I ran my hand over the plaster sailing ship which inexplicably hung on the verandah wall forever, feeling the dust and cobwebs which were an integral part of it, and brushed off one of the leaves of the elephant ear plant permanently flourishing in the huge iron tub.  A spider ran off the leaf and up my arm, and, dream-calm, I shook it off. I left the shade of the verandah and stepped into the insta-burn sunshine, feeling the joy of the morning silence,  gazing up at a sky that was unnaturally blue, and wishing I could fly. I reached for the old Hills Hoist rotary clothesline and took a run off, lifting my feet and, eyes tightly closed, I let it spin me around and around, flying after a fashion.  Baz, a favorite old black and white cat, watched in slit-eyed disapproval from the garden bench, but no-one else came to stop the forbidden spinning and I tilted my head back and felt the hot breeze kiss my face as I flew. Deliciously dizzy, I ventured into the shade of the cotoneaster tree, an oasis that I considered mine alone. The branches curved to form an umbrella and the interior was cave-like, always cool and dark.  My sitting branch beckoned, and I shinnied up, feeling the worn-smooth solidity of my favorite spot in this favorite garden. Without needing to look down, I fiddled with the familiar crochet and macramé branch bracelets that branded the branch as my own.  I was possessive of this space and rarely invited friends to join me there. The wildest of my wild dreams formed as I sat, hidden, on that branch, and even in this dream I felt the adrenaline flow.
My dream pulled me further into the back garden, even as I yearned to remain hidden within the cotoneaster branches, and I stood in front of the peculiar quince tree that was the inspiration for several ghost and horror stories that I wrote (and hid) as a child. A twisted wreck, stricken with some unknown ailment, but somehow remaining alive year after tortured  year, it was a horror of a thing. Jet black branches, convoluted beyond belief, blackish green leaves and fruit that was born dead, falling almost immediately to the ground where a mushy, rotting carpet formed.  The hot breeze moved the decaying leaves and they dream-whispered audibly, crying for relief, just as I wrote all those years ago. I patted the dry trunk as I moved on, sending up a silent prayer that it would recover or die. This was a garden of life, a blooming, gorgeous abundance of wild fertility, and the weird and horrific quince tree seemed to me the story of life gone horribly wrong. It reached out and stroked a gnarled branch finger along my cheek as I walked away, and I felt the familiar old rush of affection.  I grasped it for a brief sympathetic moment, stilling the pain and shushing the cries. But I know that there are many ways to scream.
 I sat on the old swing, hearing its constant squeaks and groans,  and felt the familiar splinters of the old wooden seat digging in. The metal frame was burning hot from the summer sun, and as I dreamed that reality, I felt a weird comfort in the burn of the frame and the scratchy seat, and a passionate gratitude for this moment of reliving. From the vantage point of the swing, I could see it all. There was the pampas grass swaying in the breeze, the deadly beauty of the wisteria, looking so romantically lovely, and plotting its next strangulating attack on the abundantly blooming lilac, her rival in purple.
I dream-wandered through the huge and endlessly productive vegetable garden,  lined with lavender bushes that were smothered with bees, the torment of my real summers. In dream-land I called for their attention and apologized for the few that were sacrificed to my hatred of school sport.  A foot swollen to double its size could excuse me from pretty much anything. They buzzed a non-acceptance and watched me beadily as I passed by.
I drifted into an almost wakeful state, and forced myself back, finding myself in the front garden. I sat on the front fence with Mandy (Amanda now, but that’s not the way I feel her in my heart) and once more we sang Scarborough Fair as we sat in the sun.  Young and beautiful in our hopes and dreams.  Carefree.  Artists and dreamers, both.
And I woke up satisfied and yearning, a child and an adult, still smelling the lilac and hearing the music and feeling the freedom.  The house itself doesn’t hold many of the joyous memories for me, but the garden is my heart.
It’s funny, but when the screaming quince tree was finally cut down, many, many years after it should have been, the garden was not the same anymore. It was too lush, too fertile, too alive, too one-sided. In the mind of a child of dreams and wild imaginings, the screaming quince maintained the balance, and I lost some of the intense passion I had for the garden.
When the quince appears in my dreams and trails its horribly blackened and brittle fingers down my face, I feel comforting and comforted, loved and loving, understanding and understood, and I welcome the sweet, rotting scent and deathly, twisted beauty.
God, I really must find a therapist!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

All those little things

Ok. Today,  I have learned a little something about interpersonal communication and how to handle conflict. In theory anyway! ;o)   I have learned a whole lot about American government – one of the most freakin’ complicated and involved subjects I’ve ever come across. >:o(   I have done a ton of laundry, worked out, knitted a few rows of a pretty cool scarf while watching Judge Judy, (do I want to change my major to criminal justice and work in the court system??)  crocheted a new edge of a cool poncho thingy I found at Goodwill. :0)  I have done my guitar practice…can now play Scarborough Fair without 30 second pauses between chord changes, although still can’t hold strings down hard enough to get rid of that muted sound, especially with the finger I once stuck under a mower. (Really?? You’re not supposed to do that?? Well, go figure!) I have vacuumed, removed a layer of dust from various surfaces, walked the dogs, watched two episodes of Family Guy, including my favorite (“that’s right, Mr. Giraffe, get all the marmalade”  Hahahahaha!!)  I have cooked a 4 oz steak and a cool mixture of peppers, onions, mushrooms and zucchinis without setting off the smoke alarm. I have written a paper, read a chapter of my textbook and dyed my roots. (Not that they really needed it, you understand, but …. oh never mind!)  In my mind I have already started my next art project, courtesy of a very cool photo taken by Mike last year at Ogunquit. It is so summery and beachy – it will hold the rest of the winter at arm’s length very nicely!  Maybe I’ll actually put paint to canvas tomorrow!
Tipsy is sitting with me as usual, curled up and purring, and I’m ready to veg out and watch Project Runway.  It has been a pretty good day. Yep, it’s the little things, right??
Happy Australia Day, folks!!