Wednesday, September 30, 2009

100 on Monday

Monday marked my one hundredth post. I anticipated doing something fun on 100 for it, but then I went to the Powwow and was generally blown away. Not sure I captured that in the first part, but maybe touched on it in yesterday's post.

Anyway, a while back, in February, inspired by artist Elizabeth Beck, I posted a 100 Happies list on Creative Construction. I think it's about time for another look at what makes me happy. Maybe it will inspire me to greater appreciation of what is right around me and motivate me toward making what isn't immediately accessible happen. I suggest doing one for yourself. It really got my creative juices flowing to mark down what truly gets my mojo working. And get the creativity flowing again. Please note that while these are numbered entries of happiness, the numbers in no way reflect a specific hierachy of happiness.

1. dark chocolate, creamy warm liquified, bite into nibble by nibble, velvety on my tongue in a mousse or pudding, dark, beautiful rich, not too sweet chocolate
2. Honey, mine, that stands about six feet tall, shoulders wide, belly growing, knees going, hair migrating, love him, love him, love him, man faults and all.
3. cookies
4. baking cookies
5. smelling cookies baking, you get the idea
6. oceanside
7. woods
8. fall - the promise of renewal
9. spring bursting forth in magical blooms
10. winter, snow especially - much missed in these parts.
11. summer, steamy, relaxed, with the kids.
12. getting up and going on a family adventure, any adventure, but one together
13. potatoes - mashed, french fried, baked, boiled, buttered, cheesed, plain...potatoes. I tell myself it's a much needed potassium fix.
14. sunlight through a window.
15. loving my kids
16. K's inquiring and justice seeking brain
17. S's hugs and need to make everyone laugh
18. C's incredible, ooo, what's that, and that, and can I climb this, and am I not the cutest thing ever expression that makes me want to hug her and laugh when iIshould be putting her in time out
19. being outside
20. gardening, growing things, I guess this goes for the kids, too.
21. animals, all varieties, but love having dogs and cats.
22. those moments I need to steal for myself, slow down and just take it all in no matter what, whether mayhem is ensuing or a blissful elusive slip of silence.
23. a moment that steals me, stuns me with beauty or surprise so unexpected, I can only make note of it, wish it a little longer
24. laughter - yours, mine, the kids, honey's...random people in the check out line....
25. the nature of relationship and the human need for interaction
26. springing for some fun - dinner, dq, a movie, I guess this falls under family adventure
27. individually set time with honey, no interruptions or possibility of interruptions. a vary rare commodity.
28. come to think of it, individual time with any of the kids, too.
29. come to think of it, individual time for me, for my writing, to curl up with a book and be left alone, not have to do anything for anyone for a day, maybe more.
30. apparently wishful thinking.
31. writing, when it's really chugging, can't stop, got the groove
32. any creative endeavor, to be honest, too infrequent
33. dancing, movement, motion, physical activity - again, not enough of that going on these days
34. knowing that in general I can see in my kids, that I'm a doing a pretty darn good job of parenting, even if I felt like I was faking for a handful of years there.
35. honesty in all things
36. deep conversation of the soul-searching variety, growth from painful experiences made tangible
37. grass between my toes
38. the shoreline breaking between my toes
39. tickling baby toes, sniffing stinky baby toes, eating them, playing piggies, counting them. what IS it about baby toes?
40. get down, get funky
41. transcendent music like listening to Gorectski's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs or singing Vivaldi's gloria in a chorus
42. a clear view of the the ever mutable sky
43. rain
44. sleep
45. sleeping with the sounds of rain on the windows...
46. laughing full out til I cry.
47. reading
48. poetry
49. losing myself in movies
50. walking hand in hand
51. just sitting with Honey without having to say a thing.
52. talking. I really love talking.
53. a good story - hearing one told well or telling one
54. listening. I know to those who know me, it may not seem like it, but I really do listen to the essence of what your are saying and it really matters.
55. scratching an itch
56. getting a haircut
57. ...a massage...
58. a campfire
59. stargazing
60. observing the transitory nature of everything.
61. cuddling
62. listening to the cat purr
63. watching the dog sleep. I wish I could sleep like that - out, upside down, my feet in the air.
64. not missing out on something
65. 64 was vague, but I like to be in the thick of it, whatever it is
66. being utterly alone
67. life
68. musing
69. mayhem
70. order. on the surface I look like a cluttered slob, but my drawers are all well organized.
71. travelling, again, not enough of this
72. a sense of security, home, a definite place for me.
73. knowing that my definitive place is really with my family and has nothing to do with a specific place.
74. monkeys
75. bunnies. but I would never own either.
76. butterflies, well interesting insects and spiders
77. frogs that say 'doh!'
78. my nephews and niece, whole family really
79. connecting with people of all stripes
80. I enjoy hanging out with old people. even when I was a kid, I played chess with Mrs. B next door with poodles, and cards with Mrs. F down the street who kept birds. she had a mynah bird.
81. birds - I'm a bit of a lay ornithologist
82. curiosity
83. puzzles
84. Scrabble
85. mexican train game
86. tap dancing in my kitchen
87. singing bad arias in the shower
88. smooth skin
89. leaves changing colors
90. green twilight
91. water
92. hugs
93. barefeet or in colder weather woolie socks
94. collecting seashells and intersting rocks and chestnuts, pine cones, birch strips...
95. eating a hot tomato from the garden on a sunny day.
96. my tomato thief
97. pride in s's accomplishments, all my kids, but especially s, because it is so hard for him.
98. the smell of horses
99. love and that we're all made of love, even when we fight.
100. spaghetti

Much more can be added to this list, and it's constantly changing, but some things remain constant, among them, chocolate.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chickahominy Powwow Part II

Then the women entered following the men, led by the elder woman and moving along down to mothers and young children. These elder woman were full of grace and dignity. Part of the day's festivities was naming the annual Chickahominy princesses, from little girl to Junior to the reigning Miss Chickahominy. The Junior Miss Chicahominy was escorted out by her grandmother who was crowned on the same day fifty years prior. The little girl was escorted by her grandfather, the Chief. The sense of a generational continuity ran throughout all the ceremonies. The girls were crowned because of their winning essays which emphasized the importance of education in Tribal Nations. The emcee and the Chief both spoke on different occasions about the respect for woman in the tribe, not only as the caretakers, but as council women and fellow veterans and warriors. For much of the ceremonies we were asked not to photograph, and honestly, I wasn't there to gawk, so after the opening ceremonies, I stopped anyway, but I did love seeing all of these Peoples honoring their Traditions - in their regalia - traditions older and more conscientious than any in my own family.

A large reason why Powwows are so moving to me is in the stories of the Tribes is part of my own family history, largely lost. My family assimilated in order to ease burdens at a volatile time in US-Indian Affairs history. I have searched records, and found that the great-grandmother who we all know was full Cherokee was claimed white in the marriage record and census records of the time. The oral story passed down from generations was that my white great-grandfather hired an Indian woman to care for his three children when his first wife died, possibly in childbirth. They eventually married and my grandfather and his twin were born to her. Aspects of my Cherokee family seem passed down in my father, my brothers and my love of nature and good craftsmanship, and in my grandfather, uncle and my love of horses, though I've never ridden more than a handful of times. But no culture is consciously passed down, just the mysteries and my desire to solve them. There is even less known on my mother's side, but apparently, there is Cherokee traceable to a generation further back on her side. My parents realized at one point that they can trace some of their geneological history to the same area of North Carolina, near the Eastern Band Nation.

I am full of conjecture at this point, but the tall woman in a blue with yellow pioneer looking dress is in a Traditional regalia of cotton weavers indigenous to the Southeast. A long time ago, when I was more thoroughly involved in research, I saw Cherokee represented in these cotton dresses. So even if I'm wrong, which I admit is highly likely, I recall seeing something about this type of dress being common among Cherokee. So I fantasized a bit that this woman represented me and my prior generations.

This drum circle was one of four that traded off chanting and drumming throughout the ceremonies. See how they are drumming with one hand and using the other to grab around their throats? Their chanting reminded me of the middle eastern female ululation singers, very haunting and moving, especially with the powerful strokes of rhythm beaten out on the drum. I was moved to tears between the live sacred music, the pride and skill of the dancers and in listening to the history of this tribe and how they honored other tribes and even American settlers history in their festival.

Unfortunately this is the best shot I could get of these two young women dancers. The bright blue dress (behind the drummer in the grey hoodie) has silver jingling pieces, and the green dress (third in from the left border of the photo) has gold. Every move they made added to the music. I once had a silver Hindu type anklet that jangled, but it had nothing on these skirts, which were beautifully handcrafted, too. I wish I knew how to insert arrows or had gotten a better photo. All of the photos from yesterday's post and today's are from the Grand Procession opening ceremony.

This photo is of the Welcoming Dance traditional to the Chickahominy. Remember the young male dancer in beautiful white regalia from yesterday's post? That's him dancing between two rows of the the Chickahominy Elder dancers. In ages past, when a guest visited from another tribe, they were required to dance a long Welcome Dance to show that they were coming in trust and meant only good intentions for the Chicahominy. The Chief indicated that this dance would go on for hours or even days, to ensure that the guest had no ill will or ulterior motives toward their people. He was an incredibly energetic and skilled dancer. I can't imagine what it's like to dance full out like he did in all that heavy regalia. Later in the festival, he presented his nephews in the tradition as their mentor to follow him in dance. All of the chicken and grass dancers were invited out to join the young boys and their uncle, who even at about five and seven years old, it was possible to see how seriously they the took their duties in taking on this particular representation of their family, their uncle's traditional skill and their taking the mantle of it to bring it forward for their own Nation as well as to represent all Tribal Nations. He thanked the Chicahominy for hosting their presentation as their host Powwow.
My experience on Saturday of how seriously the Native Peoples take all of their rituals, traditions and skills was something that made me think more deeply about the ways in which I relate my family history to my children and how they respond to the concept of respect, which is to say, in a modern sense. I seem to have instilled in them a certain level of respect for elders . I have always told family stories, and been as conscientious as I can be about family history and where the variety of people in our family tree come from. I think I will try to impress upon them even moreso, even though we've lived somewhat nomadicly, that a sense of place is very much a strong part of who anyone is. And that who we are is somewhat what I witnessed on Saturday. Next year, I will definitely take the whole family.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chicahominy Tribe Powwow Part I

This weekend was the annual Powwow of the Chickahominy Tribe. Their tribals lands are just about an hour northwest of here, on the way toward Richmond. I had the honor of accompanying and driving an elder friend and friend of hers from church to the event. J has been going to this Powwow for many years. I'm so glad she ask me to drive. It was truly a pleasure getting to know her and her friend on the ride and I was rather blown away by the opening ceremonies of the festival. This first picture is of the initial entrance of the Grand Procession. I hope I have this correct, I believe the first person's name is Falling Water. He was the first to enter the sacred circle, carrying the Flag of All Tribal Nations staff. After him came war veteran Native Americans from the Chicahominy and a few other Tribes serving as colorguard for the US and their own Tribal Nations. Later there was a very moving tribute to all those who have served in the US military during war. They invited all the present veterans of foreign wars who were present, to join in the circle to be honored as the warriors, taking wounds of body, spirit and mind so that the rest of us may live in freedom. They also invited all the war mothers of soldiers lost and widows to be honored with the veterans. I found it particularly moving considering that the Chickahominy Tribe, our hosts for the event, are still fighting for federal recognition as an independent Tribal Nation. There are journals and records of the earliest settlers encountering the Chickahominy along with the Pohatans of Pocahantas fame.

I really hope I have his name correct, as here is Falling Water leading the procession around the circle.

After the colorguard came Chief Steve Atkins and two Tribal elders. (I'm lousy with names, so if I am wrong again, please forgive me. Let's just say, my first few years in education were as a substitute teacher, learning way too many names, and I believe my mental file cabinet drawers for names are overflowing and incredibly disorganized.) Largely, Southeastern Woodland tribes were represented at this Powwow. But a few people came from farther out, representing with their full regalia. I wish at this point in my life that I knew more about the language of regalia, what facets and colors of headdress and costume represented what totems and tribes and aspects of the native spirit world.

In the background, you can see many colorful regalia entering and making their way around the circle. Here are a couple of my favorites. I think the young man in green was Chicahominy and the young man in white was from a guest tribe. The young man in white was an incredible dancer - more on him later.

I was very curious about the man in black with the round feather headdress. I asked around and got a few different answers that didn't quite mesh with each other. If were not feeling shy on Saturday, I would have had better luck getting a straight answer as I would have asked the man wearing the unusual regalia. One answer was he may have been representing the Cherokee Stormbringer and another said he seemed to hail from the Great Lakes region by the round headdress. Some dancers follow the Powwow circuit all summer through fall and all over the country.

I have more pictures and things to say about them, but I'll wait till Part II to to get to just how much being at this event moved me. Too many interruptions to get through this posting in a single train of thought...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gina Lee Kim

A beautiful artist who combines realistic nature elements and abstraction in her work is having a giveaway on her blog. Add a comment to have a chance to win this painting! and check out her blog, too. she is fun and her bird paintings are really beautiful!

I suppose I should talk about writing...

The question of balancing motherhood and creativity arises constantly. The other day, I read a very interesting wake up call over on and her head popped off. I loved the photograph of the mom going ahead with painting whilst her toddler hung upside down, squiggling on her lap. The mom in the photo is continuing her creative work regardless of being a mom as is the photographer and author. The essence of what Terri wrote was just shut up and do it. If you really want it, you'll make it happen.

I think that's why a lot of us mother-writers blog. It's a piece of writing, that while it may not necessarily change the world or be the next Great American Novel, keeps us going. We can do it in the snatches of time during naps, or a bit of quiet while school aged kids are out of the house, in between loads of laundry and sinkfuls of dishes. We can focus for a few minutes, while our Big Project waits sometimes patiently, sometimes not so patiently for a chance to be the focus. We can do it while a wiggling toddler cuddles in for a snuggle while our fingers click away on a keyboard, like at this very moment that I write.

My old photography self of eons past has been relegated to largely okay pics of the kids and whatever catches my eye, with a little automatic easy camera rather than one I could make adjustments on, given the time and the perogative. The old dancer self still throws down in the kitchen periodically, albeit stiffly and ungainly. The old performer self regales at the dinner table in silly voices and fake opera, when I can get a word in edgewise among the constant stream of noise from all three kids. The old drawing self, will doodle now and then, and more often pretend large invisible canvases in sweeping gestures with my arms while I sit vegging out in front of the tv of an evening, too exhausted to do anything more. Honey must wonder what I'm doing over there, but is too polite or exhausted himself. Other times, I am making chi pottery, sitting with my hands balled around or manipulating invisible clay.

And I blog. I post something every weekday since I started this with the exception of when I took a summer excursion.

I know I have a manuscript that really wants to be finished and shopped. Believe me, if I could focus on that right now, I would. But when it comes to the big writing, I need more mental energy than I currently have. I also have three horizontal file drawers of poems and short stories that could use editing, compiling, submitting, as well as how many on the hard drive that need the same, and the three journals in my bedside drawer, dog-eared where good ideas are languishing. And then there's that screenplay idea from about eight years ago that still won't die, and I've lost the outline for ages ago.

But, for right now, This is what I can write, while I chase C away from the dog food again when things have gotten a bit too quiet. I'm doing a pretty fair job of it. And yes, I just wrote another very self-referential blog about blogging. But I'm doing it. I am writing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blue belt

On Monday evening, S passed his Blue belt test in Taekwando.

He had waited very patiently for this, as I forstalled last Monday because he behaved in a very undisciplined manner during his class. I spoke with Master Ko about that, and he agreed that S did not deserve the privilege of testing for his belt after that behavior. S had been very distracted and distracting all the way through class. I believe all of us tend to cut him a lot more breaks than we would another kid for the same thing. But sometimes, even a child with asperger's needs to know when he's taking it too far. Asperger's is not an excuse for bad behavior. If he is going to get along in the world later, working at a job, he's going to have to control his impulses to some extent. Self-discipline is a big part of his Taekwando experience and why we have him enrolled in the class.

But back to the good part: he passed his Blue Belt test.

Here he demonstrates his elbow strike power.

And here he demonstrates his side kick power.

When I see S among his peers practicing his forms, doing callesthenics and stretching, he looks sloppy, slow and stiff. Everyone notices. I often hear chuckles from the parent bench, some of which are my own. But the fact of the matter is that he learns his routines quickly, and is always eager to do the next thing, especially if Master Ko is teaching him rather than one of the other instructors. Then his form sharpens up, his moves are crisp, his posture indicates the inherent power of the moves, and his Qia is strong.

A few year ago, Honey and I rented a movie of Tony Jaa's called Ong Bak. In it, you see the development of an unlikely fighter in Muy Thai. Of course there is much more to the story. It's a good movie, I recommend it even if you're not a big martial arts movie fan, though it is brutal. One thing that S reminds me of is the Drunken Monkey style of fighting. He's not as aerial or springy as the style, but it's a style that looks like it wouldn't work if used in a real fight and also looks quite laughable. Yet it is one of the most effective for it's disarmingly distracting sensibility.

So I watch S, goofy and ineffectual as he seems during class where others are flexible, sharp, quick. I watch him and know that while he looks off-balance, he has the center of gravity of a wrestler. I watch his legs in their low and bent rather than high and straight kicks, and know, it may not look fancy, but those kicks have power. I watch his arms in their overly quick, sloppy, flailing movements and know that should he be attacked in a dark alley, he could take the guy out. Even with his slow reaction time.

I'm very proud of his accomplishments in Taekwando. I am very grateful that Master Ko, Honey I keep giving him the chance to prove everyone wrong about him. Because given half a chance in any endeavor, he usually proves he can do whatever it is better than most. He may be unconventional, but he's very effective.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Sunday was Sophia Loren's seventy-fifth birthday. God, she is still gorgeous and sexy, but I fell in love with her in movies from the fifties and sixties I used to watch with my mother. I think she looks her most sexy and powerful and a woman to reckon with in her role as Dulcinea in Man of La Mancha opposite Peter O'Toole. Of course I'm in love with Peter O'Toole, too, but that is a story for another day.
Mostly, people associate Ms. Loren with sophistication and glamour. I recently realized that she was from the same area of Italy around Naples as my in-laws. She has the same big green eyes and arched brows as my mother-in-law. So while I have always wished that I were her to some least as glamorous and self-possessed, now I like to dream that my daughter may share some distant DNA with my one of my greatest screen crushes and idols.

I like to go back and look at her as Dulcinea, where she was about as undone as she could ever be and still absolutely to die for. Sophia had to be the impetus to put Rachel Welch in a fur bikini a few years later in a little B movie that made the next generation drool and put the poster on their bedroom wall. The resemblance and oozing sexuality are uncannily similar.
I still fantasize that someday, I can walk through a room that suddenly hushes, and not because I am crazily tap dancing a shuffle-ball-change out of there after tripping over myself.
*photo credit unknown or i would say. from promo material for Man of la Mancha

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumn 2009

It's official. Summer is over and autumn is here. I love autumn. In New England, I lived for autumn, trembling with anticipation. Now I ease gently into it, lingering with the Coastal Virginia breeze. I don't need a sweater, and rarely, socks. The colors are just starting outside my window. No, not as brilliant as in New England, but still subtly signaling change and the continuing cycle of death and rebirth that the whole of life on earth lives by, feeding on the old to bring about the new....Happy Autumn.
For those of you who are forlorned for summer's end, don't worry, spring comes around in a mere handful of months, and the explosion of blooms and the laze of heat shall return. I know many New Englanders are probably already missing a summer that barely made more than the rainiest appearance after last winter's brutal ice storms. I have a feeling this winter won't be quite so brutal.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Well, Friday's post was a downer, so here's some fun for today. I know I can sure use it. And it's Monday, so I'm sure you can, too.

I love Donald O'Connor. Always have. He defies gravity and can do a prat fall better than anyone, ever. I will be smiling and humming this all day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

such a big girl and scary stuff on the horizon

Baby C is growing so fast and seems to want to be growing up even faster. Here she is trying to fill my shoes and use her toy cellphone as a little adult. I know everyone who has ever had a toddler and a camera has a variation on this shot, but I'm feeling particularly heartstrung about it today.

I wasn't sure I wanted to blog about this as I try to keep things on the positive here, but it's what is on the forefront of my mind to the near exclusion of all else from school photos coming up to excitement over K's new bass lessons and S coming up on another belt test for Taekwando. And I just realized I didn't even mention working on edits to my manuscript in that sentence on my re-read before posting.

I've been heading to doctors about a few things about my health, after a bit of a medical hiatus since having Baby C. The truth of the matter is that I didn't want to know what it would mean, or believe that it was as scary as my instincts were telling me. I have not been healing well since having her seventeen months ago, I am exhausted and achy all the time and I don't think I can just put it down to having a baby at the age of forty-two after an entire pregnancy of bedrest and sleep deprivation from her continued night wakings. turns out I just at the beginning of what looks to be a diagnostic process at the end of which will entail multiple surgeries. I won't go into details, but suffice to say, female stuff among them.

I am extremely grateful that what I am going through is not anything along the lines of terminal cancer, but it's still going to be a long road, when I am already exhausted from the road I have been on. But if at the end of it, I can feel bodily closer to my mental age, and therefore further meet in the middle at my chronological age, it will be worth it. Because right now, I am walking, or rather sitting through the world like an eighty year old, and at this juncture in my life, with a toddler, asperger preteen and now a high schooler, feeling like I am eighty years old physically is unacceptable.

At the dinner table the other night, I told S about what is coming on the horizon and why. I tried to make it simple and like it's a good thing, but his expression and conversation after said it all. His big blues widened into worry of the extraordinary kind and he said, "But what if you don't wake up? Then I won't have a mother." Then he turned to Honey and added, "Until you give me a new one."

He sounds a little funny and callous, but to me, it meant that going the childhood of blended families that he has gone through, he's pretty resilient, despite his initial appearances. I may sometimes think he needs my constant protection and will probably have to live with us the rest of his life, but other days, I can see, given the right circumstances, this kid is going to be alright. He definitely has an angel or something watching over him.

He was onto something, though, about not waking up. I am scared of that myself, as my mother, both of my sons and I have gone under for procedures and have had a rough time with anesthesia and with coming back out of it. So that is part of my concern when the surgeries come around. I also know, that when K was a toddler, I promised him I would live forever, or at least as long as the kids all need me. My determination to fullfill that promise is stronger than anything.

Thank you for listening, and I know I will be alright. A friend pointed out to me the other day, 'Cath, it's worth it. You'll take thirty years or more off your physicality that shouldn't be there anyway. Having these surgeries will free you." So forward I march on to the rheumatologist next. Wish me luck, and please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Philosophy by toddler

I wonder what Descartes might have said of Baby C's commentary.
Actually, I don't. Maybe her point is just that - you guys talk too much.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

link, a dink a link, a link a doo

Miranda at Creative Construction pointed out a nice bit about viewing your creative endeavors as you would your child. This is an ongoing conundrum for creative mothers, beyond the balancing act. I think we we are so often surprised by our children and our creations. What we need to remember is that they both are part of the larger world outside ourselves.

When I read Miranda's blog, I immediately thought of Khalil Gibran's poem, On Children, especially as sung by Sweet Honey in the Rock. Go ahead, go give it a listen here. I'll wait, while you listen and cry and sniffle and blow your nose and listen to it's that beautiful.

The idea that we let our children go and be themselves, and we let our creations go and be themselves is what it is all about. They have their own spirit and purpose to be, outside of an extension of ourselves as mothers or artists. How much better they both turn out when we're not too busy hammering away at them to be some preconceived notion of what we think they ought to be.

I commented to Miranda:

if we can think of our creative endeavors in the same way as this song, this poem…’as life’s longing for itself’ in the same way as our children, respectfully as beings in and of themselves, wouldn’ they grow and flow so much better than with our ‘hammering away at them', trying to make them bend to what we want?

of course then i start to think, well what about keeping in the form i’m working in, this novel can’t suddenly be poetry or the other way around….or can it? can poetry be inherent in a novel? can a story be in a poem? immediately i think zora neale hurston and homer and say, yes! yes they can!

I like how the stream of consciousness led me there. After all, I like when fiction is poetic and when a poem has a story to tell and does so simply and beautifully. The same idea can be applied to painting or musical improvisation, or pottery or any other art. Everything works better when a little control is given up. Beauty lies in grace and all that.

Okay, musing over. Time to go listen again.

By the way, I am so happy to have figured out that little highlight to link doohickey, finally!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

RIP Jim Carroll

Not as soon as he could have gone, but still too soon. Now he joins his brethren he saluted so long ago. And he still looked good doing what he did, even at 60. Punk was so much prettier with him. The Basketball Diaries was a pivotal journal of decadence and decay from a youth a la Burroughs' Naked Lunch. Honest and raw, poetic as Rimbaud. Poetry as performance was made by him and all because Patti Smith said get up here and do it, then Keith Richards got him a record contract.
Rest well, Jim Carroll.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Holy moley and such weekend

Saturday night, we attempted to go to a free concert of Bruce Hornsby and Ricky Skaggs, at a local festival that honors the Chesapeake Bay. I don't want to go into too much except to say, our jaunt was shortlived between the loud, the crowd, S's Asperger's and mostly a drunken belligerent guy who would not stop blowing his harmonica and otherwise getting into Baby C's face, among other bad behavior for about an hour before the police came to escort him out. Honey was nearly involved in what could easily have become a brawl because of this guy. Thankfully he thought better of it, since he was holding Baby C. The guy was a good example to point to and say to the teen, "K, that right there is why you don't want to drink too much."

Otherwise, Saturday was a very lounge around the house day after the first week of school. I think it was good for us all, but I was getting antsy. I feel like, even though August was kind of long and lazy, we didn't take advantage of it and get out to the beach much or much of anything else. K was really enjoying hanging with his friends, so we kept it low key after the boys came home from their visit to their dad's for July. Now that it's September, I am feeling like we need to hurry up and have some fun before summer truly ends. The weather has been about 20 degrees cooler for the past week, so that's a big incentive, too. Who want's to do anything when it's 95 out?

Sunday afternoon, we finally made it to a beach after much grumbling. It wasn't the big beach ride we attempted and aborted in the torrential downpour last weekend, but a closer one. Buckroe Beach was perfect: cool breeze, not too hot or cold, but it had recently been dredged and stank like a big wet dog. We enjoyed a lovely relaxing time being Godzilla, drawing, reading (well, two pages), pier walking, sea stuff collecting and seagull chasing. I particularly loved lying back with my eyes closed, listening to the waves roll in and swoosh back out again. Nice to have Honey who works so hard all week there, to watch C and S. Finally, I could close my eyes, meditate on the sound of the waves.

S cast as Godzilla rising from the deep.

K examining a razor clam shell I tossed onto his character plotting or maybe it was alien weapons cataloging.
C filling, dumping and refilling the bucket with rather pebbly sand.

These photos are of dredge flotsam washed ashore.

This one I took at the base of the pier. I loved watching the water wash up, bubble and break against the posts.

I don't know what kind of birds these are, but they've been entertaining me at Buckroe everytime I've been there. This one cracked me up the way he pranced around.

So after an adventurous Saturday night and a bit of resistance to doing a family thing again on Sunday, we managed to relax and have fun with each other, just doing what each of us loves to do at the beach in the last cool weekends of summer, stretched long like the afternoon shadows across the sand.

Addendum: After much research and an inquiry put out to Facebook friends, I believe the bird may be a Boat-tailed Grackle.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Riddle? Nope, I'm fickle as a poet

Like Rain it sounded till it curved
And then I new 'twas Wind --
It walked as wet as any Wave
But swept as dry as sand --
When it had pushed itself away
To some remotest Plain
A coming as of Hosts was heard
It filled the Wells, it pleased the Pools
It warbled in the Road --
It pulled the spigot from the Hills
And let the Floods abroad --
It loosened acres, lifted seas
The sites of Centres stirred
Then like Elijah rode away
Upon a Wheel of Cloud.
~Emily Dickensen

I woke up today feeling very poemy. Admittedly I was leaning that way at the bottom of yesterday's post. September has a habit of doing this to me - so many transitions, so many promises of something new: the start of school for the kids; the idea that I will work on the next phase of the manuscript; find work outside of home; the natural wonder of the transitory nature of the season. Recently the rain has been coming down, so I'm not getting outside to see much nature, feeling like I'm missing it, missing the recent changes. It's the rain, the lovely melancholy rain.

Poets are such sensitive folks. So many poems about the rain, the moon, the clouds, the dark, the sense of longing brought on by the drop of leaves at this time of year. We are moved by brilliant color and anticipate the lack of it to come as winter rolls in to put this half of the world to sleep under a blanket of cold. Diciduous trees snuggle down into themselves and we add layers, turn inward, physically and mentally. And the rain comes down.

So many songs of rain:
The Beatles:
Rain, rain, ra -a a-a-ain, I don't mind
Shine, shine, shi -i -i-ine, the weather's fine.

Led Zeppelin:
These are the seasons of emotion
And like the winds they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion-
I see the torch we all must hold.
This is the mystery of the quotient-
Upon us all a little rain
Must fall.
Just a little rain?

The Eurythmics:
Here comes the rain again
Falling on my head like a memory
Falling on my head like a new emotion

Rain rain go away
Come again another day

Prince's Purple Rain

Guns & Roses: November Rain

Garbage: I'm Only Happy When It Rains

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Who'll Stop The Rain

Bruce Hornsby & The Range: Mandolin Rain

Collective Soul: She Gathers Rain

Sting/Police: Shadows in the Rain

James Taylor: Fire & Rain

Blind Melon: No Rain

The Carpenters: Rainy Days & Mondays

And just for kicks and because this is what I'm doing:
Milli Vanilli's Blame It On The Rain.

Yes, I'll blame it on the rain. This poemy feeling, this sense of the fleeting nature of time, of the seasons, of life itself and the poor poor lonely old sun I haven't seen in days.

So just maybe, I'll get back to writing again very shortly, as it seems to be oozing out of me with the rain. Pitter patter.

Morning Rain
A slight rain comes, bathed in dawn light.
I hear it among treetop leaves before mist
Arrives. Soon it sprinkles the soil and,
Windblown, follows clouds away. Deepened
Colors grace thatch homes for a moment.
Flocks and herds of things wild glisten
Faintly. Then the scent of musk opens across
Half a mountain -- and lingers on past noon.
~Tu Fu

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Garden surprises

I think I planted these unusual rusty orange lilies a couple of years ago, but this is the first I've seen them. Spikey. They look like stars with cah-razy eyelashes. K called them alien microphones. He swears they are listening in on us in order to know best how to conquer us.

Here's a longer view.

I didn't plant these. They come up all around this time of year. Thank you prior owner whose version of these gardens were one of the selling points of the house for me. She did a much better job of keeping up the gardens than I have so far. It's a learning process. The back pointy ones are Indian Paintbrush, I think. I have no idea what the wavy brushy one is, maybe another Indian Paintbrush type.

I am grateful everyday to be able to witness mother nature's surprises as the seasons change and unfold gradually or suddenly. In New England, I encountered a lot of sudden, but wonderfully anticipated surprises from the first few leaf changes through the sudden burst of flame colored forests. Or I'd gasp and nearly cry when rounding the bend of a wooded hilly street and one glowing yellow oak leapt out amongst the rust to purple maples. Then the sudden downpour day in October when all the trees are stripped bare and it seems the ground itself is on glistening wet fire. It was expected because I grew up and spent the first 25 years of my adulthood in New England. I sensed what came next by the change of the breeze, the level of ions in the air, even when it was a surprise just how it would manifest everytime.
Now that I live in southeastern Virginia, this seasonal transition is much longer, and so many flowers are still to come, each of them a brilliant new ache of beauty when I first see it. I have to stop myself from weeding, just to see what will come from that green shoot. I respect that weed, maybe find that it isn't one after all. I am constantly amazed to find the prior owner's variety of biennial plantings and their quick hellos. It's like having a visit from a forgotten friend, "Oh it's you!"
Slowly, after three years, maybe I'm looking forward to what's next here, too, rather than missing New England so much.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First day of school

Yesterday, K was up and out in the rain for the bus at 6:35am for his first day of high school. I managed to give him a big hug before he went out the door on this momentous occasion.

S was up and at 'em and even made his own lunch, waiting by the door over thirty minutes before the bus was due. I asked if he was excited, and he replied, "well, sort of...." which amounts to a bevy of mixed feelings about yes, he's excited; no he wants summer to last forever; yes, he's happy he'll see his friends and is happy to learn; but doesn't want to do the work; and he's anxious about new teachers and aides; but happy he'll see his old teacher in his smaller class for much of the day.
This year, he will be mainstreamed for three academics as well as his Encore (art, music, gym,etc.) classes. This is a big change. He's almost all the way back fully mainstreamed for the first time since we moved to Virginia three and a half years ago.

But back to the morning, waiting inside for the bus because of the rain. Ready way before he needed to be.

Being a student is very serious business. Fifth grade is a very big deal.

K came off the bus at the end of his day, saying "No way! You are not taking my picture" as he moved his backpack around for a block.
And then, "MO-om. Seriously."
I maintain that this one is training for work in covert operations.
They both had good first days. C ran around periodically calling her versions of their names, looking for someone more entertaining than I to play with. Her little voice echoed through the empty house...well, not really, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A good morning and then...

Most of our holiday weekend was spent running around finishing school shopping and sundry errands, and housework. Of course all while the weather was beautiful and taunting us to run to the beach.

Labor day got off to a fun start:

C loves when S bounces her on the trampoline.

Then it was C's turn to bounce S.

They took multiple turns and she loved every minute of it - even this one.

As for the ribbon and diaper look, a girl's gotta accessorize.

All of the above happened before I finished my first cup of coffee. That says a lot. I got the camera out and was able to take halfway decent action shots on half my usual caffeine intake to wake up.
And then beach plans to try out a new beach a bit of a drive away devolved with rain and tantrums by a teen and a preteen who thought their mother and stepfather were insane for wanting to go to the beach in the rain. But it was the Last Day of Summer before School Starts, so we were going to have an Adventure regardless of the rain.
And then the bag of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches was thrown at Mom, and screaming would not stop for anything by two young men with huge attitudes. So after we made it as far as the nearest gas station, and Led Zeppelin's The Rain Song dropped a further hint along with the increasing downpour, we reversed our trajectory.
Then the screaming commenced to sound like this: What?! Nooo-o-ooo!!!!! Hey, this isn't the way to the beach! This is the way home! Why aren't we going to the beach! Turn this car around NOW!
So I made them clean their rooms instead. So there. Last Day of Summer.
I hope you had as much fun as our early morning on your Labor Day. Forget the rest of it. Although, it is pretty funny to look back on it. And the boys' rooms are clean. Well, cleaner than they were.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Free Bling!

Kelly Warren at The Happy Shack has a monthly Free Bling giveaway.

All you have to do is comment with your name and where you're from and how much you would loooove to be entered into her drawing because of how beautiful and fun this particular piece of her jewelry is and how it would just light up your spirit to wear it.

Because that's how beautiful and fun Kelly's jewelry is, and a girl's gotta accessorize!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Riddle of the week

This week's riddle is provided by K.

What is the part of the bird that can swim in the ocean and always stays dry?

It's shadow.

Hmmm... This kid still needs work. I mean I appreciate his thoughtful, philosophical sensibility, but this joke seriously lacks guffaw.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Strange Fruit - Coleyfruit, Butternut Melon or Waternut Squash?

A little neglect can go a long way. The other day, I woefully approached my very overgrown squash plot, and started pulling weeds that were begining to look like small trees ( some of them were, actually, birch) when out of the tangle and jumble popped this:

I unintentionally created a new fruit or is it a vegetable? After the squash bugs decimated my summer squash, zucchini, and cucumbers, and after what seemed to be the end of my watermelon and butternut squash crop of two minis per row, I walked away from it. Apparently the watermelon and butternut squash got a little randy in my absence and cross-pollinated. Here's the tomato thief's hand coming into the shot for a size check.

K offered congratulations for combining one of the things he loves most with one of the things he hates most.
Now the only two questions left are what to name it and how to serve it - cook it in my usual butternut squash ways, halved and roasted with olive oil, nutmeg and clove for instance, or raw like, well, watermelon.
K suggested calling it Butternut Melon at the same time I thought Waternut Squash. What's your vote? I also like Coleyfruit.
I'm going to save the seeds for next year.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Visitor that came to stay

Warning: If you do not like creepy crawlies, move away from this blog! If you do not, I am not to be held responsible for the anxiety issues this may induce, up to and including PTSD - post traumatic spider disorder.

Last week we discovered a very interesting visitor on the house, near the grill, building her home between the house and the playset. It's a big home - seems like it could serve as a condominium complex.

She definitely instilled fear in my husband and my younger son, who ran into the house, slammed the slider, yelling "WHOA!" He braced himself against the glass and panted, bug-eyed as if we had been invaded by aliens. Come to think of it, he would have preferred to have been invaded by aliens. He's been making preparations for that. My mother-in-law has not used the back door since the spider's appearance. Her fear is much more subtle.

My eldest son, my little daughter and I, however, have been fascinated to no end ever since her arrival. Kids after my own heart. My dad still speaks in awe of my spider collecting youth, how of all of his kids, it was the girl who collected spiders and bugs. So we watch from inside the dining room window. She doesn't do much by day. She's a third shifter.

Well, big as she is, about 3.5 inches in length, and with such distinct markings, she was easy to google. I found out she was largely non-poisonous, unlike the black widow spiders I found in my garden last year. She's good for the garden, a common black and yellow garden spider. She has a big bite that can hurt, but for the most part, it won't do further damage. Unless you have an auto-immune disorder, then the minimal venom could kill you, or at least be very painful. Here she is in close-up, demonstrating her very creepy skull-like alien head markings:

I must admit to a little shudder when I zoomed. I think it was more about the unshaven legs look, though. I emailed a friend, whose brother-in-law is an entomologist, and she said it was an Argiope aurantia. I just love Latinate terms.
Well, she's still here, and she doesn't seem to be interested in going anywhere else. As long as she doesn't decide to start eating us out of house and home, like some other guests, she's welcome, by my standards. I can't say the same for certain family members. You can read that any way you want - invading family members or ones who live here and aren't as enthused about her as I am. HA!
Although, after reading up a bit, I found out she could lay between 400 - 1500 eggs. I'm not so sure I'll feel so confident when or if they hatch.
But oh, the tale I'll weave....I know. I couldn't resist.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy September

I love September, especially the September of my first forty years, which were spent in New England. Something about September's first hint of the change to autumn still gets me excited, though I now have to call it up from memory as the change is less in the air than in me and the start of school for my kids; the feeling of things coming to a close, while also beginning anew. I see no first yellowing of the skinny aspen down here in south coastal Virginia. There is no cripsing of the air. But I still get excited and slightly trepidacious about buying school supplies, even if I can't decide which color notebook is perfect for which class. That part is up to the kids these days.
After the ease of long hot August, my first burgeoning of new ideas come bursting forth in September. I have more poems titled September and October than any other title or poem topic in a lifetime of writing poems. There's such a mix of nostalgia for things lost and anticipitation for the new in September.
One of my favorite on September pieces I first heard when I was very young is Try to Remember from the Fanstastiks, the longest running off-Broadway show in the history of New York theatre.
I remember being a part of it in my freshman year in high school as well as going to see a production of it in NY. That was one of my favorite theatre experiences of my life. The dark, musty threadbare velvet seats, the tiny room, the actors practically performing in our laps.
Here's Jerry Orbach singing it from a 1962 production. Yes, for those who only know him as the curmudgeon recovering alkie cop on Law and Order or as a Disney singing candlestick from Beauty and the Beast, Jerry Orbach enjoyed a long stardust and pancake makeup covered career in New York theatre. For those of you who may find this a bit on the schmaltzie side, stick it out, please. Tom Jones wrote some great lines you really shouldn't miss.
After all, it's September, and what would September be without a little feeling of nostalgia and anticipation.