Wednesday, December 17, 2008

If the Shoe Fits....

OK, it could have been a hand grenade, a bullet, something much worse than a shoe. I know. So don't go all ballistic on me. I don't believe in violence, even against him.

But throwing dirty, smelling, crusty boots at him......hey, that's a pretty powerful message.

There's only one problem with that that I can see.

After the dirty, smelling, crusty boots were tossed, there should have followed a pair of purple stiletto heels, black and white saddle shoes, orange flip flops, white ballet slippers, tan walking shoes, grey running shoes, green high-top sneakers, pink baby booties, beige beaded sandals, dusty rubber fireman boots, espadrilles, baseball cleats, hush puppies, penny loafers.....

Monday, December 15, 2008

Neighbors

We have several Iraqi neighbors, mostly children and widows. Last night we met an older gentleman outside the laundry room shared by several of the apartments owned by our landlord. As he waited for his laundry to dry, this man helped my husband clear the ice from our porch which those doing laundry must cross to get to the laundry room in the basement.

This morning I ran into him again. He smiled and said hello. Then he pointed at me and said several times with great emotion "I like, I like", nodding his head. I immediately blushed, as he had pointed in the general direction of my chest and I imagined he was commenting on my breasts. But then I remembered that he was NOT an American male....in fact, he had been doing laundry the night before....and when I look down at the sweater I was wearing, I realized what he "liked".

I had buttons on my sweater that were peace signs. I nodded back at him and said, "I like, too."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rupert's Christmas Card


Christmas cards are probably the only holiday custom I do not rant and rave about. I've even been known to mail one or two myself, although I can't find the energy this year. This tradition of connecting with friends and family from a far suits my desire to keep alive the joy of receiving handwritten messages in a card pulled from an envelope taken from a mailbox you actually have to get up and go outside to open up.

We received a Christmas card from Rupert again this year! His handwriting looks suspiciously similar to my mother-in-law's. I loved the verse in this year's card:

Joyous Christmas wishes from
the canine member of the family
who sits, rolls over, fetches
and in the spirit of the season....

pees on earth.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Second Printing

Gasp......

I had to read the e-mail several times because I didn't believe it.

I only have one copy of "Taking Heart", the book of poems Mary Ellen and I published, left on my office bookshelf....because I've given so many away.

Our reading at Lavender Inkwell was in October. I never expected that in just two months we'd have received a check already from the bookstore with a request for MORE books because they've sold out.

Does this mean I'm really a poet?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Such Fun Was Had By All

Plowshares was a blast, indeed.
This is my friend's son, Dawson, modeling one of my hand-knit hats; he was about the only one sleeping through the weekend.
Here's my very favorite step-brother Rick and his beautiful lady friend, Donna, modeling the hat she bought from me. We had such fun going out to dinner with them after the craft fair was over!

And then hubby modeling one of my stocking caps....note our friend Bob laughing in the background. Bob and his wife, Jane, bake treats for cats and dogs and have the booth behind us. We laughed the "down time" away....though there wasn't much of that.
I'm already looking forward to next year!
Thanks to Katherine for these last two photos, to darling Emily for working for us on Sunday and to the woman who called her mother who then came in and once again bought every rag rug I had with me and to everyone who stopped by to chat. Peace to all.



Thursday, December 4, 2008

Plowshares

Plowshares is the Craftsfair and Peace Festival sponsored every first weekend in December for the past 38 years by the Syracuse Peace Council. I have been honored to be a part of this celebration. I am packed and ready to set up my "Knit Wit" booth for this weekend's celebration and reflecting on the joy this annual event brings me.

Becoming a part of the Plowshares "family" was truly a blessing. Eleven years ago I lost the job I thought I would still have today due to the merger of two non-profits and the elimination of the administrative position I held. My immediate reaction, since it was the holiday season, was to take some time living on severance pay and unemployment while I decided what to do next and try to deal with the absolute anger I felt.

So I did the only thing I knew how to do: I ripped up every one of my business suits and dresses and crocheted the strips I made into rag rugs. This greatly helped me deal with some of the devastation. But then I sat back and said, "Ok, now what do I do with these 54 cute little rugs I've made?" A former colleague, another victim of the merger, suggested I see if I could be a last minute addition to Plowshares....a long shot, it was way past the deadline, only two weeks before the festival was scheduled....but they said I could have a small booth.

I had no idea what I was in for, but I lugged a card table and my rag rugs to a community center, stuck price tags on them and watched people actually pick a rug out they liked, pay me and take it home with a smile on their face....even when I told them "this was a dress I used to wear to our annual Board of Directors Retreat."

Near the end of the day, when I was very pleased that I would only be taking 14 rugs back home with me, a woman approached me and offered me a deal for all I had left. I took it. I didn't realize this usually doesn't happen. When she left, I kind of sat there, not really knowing what to do with my em ply table because I had to stay until the show was over. There was a sudden burst of applause from the other crafters....I was shocked when I realized it was meant for me. One of them came over to me and said, "Do you realize that you've accomplished what we all call 'the crafter's wet dream'? Selling everything?" Of course I didn't. And of course, it's never happened again. But it gave me just the shot of self-confidence I needed at that time in my life to go out and get another job and keep my head up.

I returned to Plowshares, still with rag rugs but adding something new to my inventory every year. Scarves, shawls and purses. This year hats and mittens. And gently used sweaters I've "re-designed" by adding buttons and knit patches. I'm so excited to still be doing it.

The banner on this blog heading is the hand-tie-died cloth that hangs near my booth at Plowshares. It does not belong to me, yet it greets me every year as I enter the facility the Peace Council rents and it keeps me company as I welcome old friends into my booth and greet newcomers. This is my holiday celebration. It's never about making money. I don't care if I sell a thing....in fact, I wish I could give it all away, and often give folks such deals I barely make enough to cover booth rental and the cost of yarn. There's such a wonderful, peaceful feeling to the craft fair, and the joy of knowing someone is getting something hand made.

I'm remembering complaining to my friend, Denise, in the past about how knitting "stuff" didn't seem meaningful and she encouraged me to think about it bringing joy to someone else who might not be able to do it....and I'm taking this to heart. Of course, I'm wishing she could be with me this year, to experience the peace of the two days. She'll be in my heart as always.

And Chris will be with me, as always. I'm looking forward to that, even though we will both be exhausted by the amount of work involved. I know that once we finally get everything loaded back at the apartment Sunday evening and crash in our chairs, we'll have huge smiles on our faces. I can't wait.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Songwriters Spin Magic at Sparkytown

Yes, it was a magical evening in Sparky's dining room last night. The circle of songwriters, guitars resting on their laps in between songs, celebrated their creativity. I was reminded of Mary Chapin Carpenter's term "dashboard poets" as the lyrics shared last night tugged at my poetic senses. How privileged I felt to be surrounded by those who hone words with such loving care until they've found the perfect fit, who struggle and sift through the pile of choices, listening to each syllable until finally all the heads nod and you know that's "it".

I am totally in awe of their musical abilities...even though several of those in attendance who play tell me they haven't been playing for very long. It always sounds glorious to me, no matter the style. I tend to drift through their discussions about where the addition of a bridge might be good or whether the chord should be a G or an A minor or whatever....although last night I did get a good chuckle over someone saying that instead of a bridge they might consider adding a tunnel or an exit ramp.

As usual, there was one performance that knocked my socks off, unexpectedly, both lyrically and with it's funky melody that I'm still humming in my head this morning. I can't wait to share the lyrics with my writing group.....it's a poem I'm jealous I didn't write first.

Chris and I felt a part of the group last night. It's taken a few meetings for this to happen, for we are definite outsiders, non-performers. We are enjoying getting to know these folks and our spirited discussions. The laughter here is real. The criticism is honest, even if not always taken to heart. I find myself thinking "That's a little harsh" and then "but it's true" and hoping that the writer will reflect and revise, for revision always makes us better writers, whether we write songs or poetry, the great American novel or political advertisements.

What I don't like about the songwriters night -- especially when it falls on the same Tuesday as one of my writing group meetings as it did yesterday -- is that I can never seem to fall asleep easily because I am so inspired to write afterwards that I toss and turn for hours.

I should just tell them all "thank you".

Monday, December 1, 2008

Favorite Christmas Song

While prepping for our turkey day, Chris catches me whistling in the kitchen. Hubby, knowing all too well that my bah-humbug genes are raging, says, "YOU are whistling 'Jingle Bells'? What's gotten into you?"

"It's the end of my favorite Christmas song," I explain.

He laughs. "YOU have a favorite Christmas song?"

"Yes. ' The River.' By Joni Mitchell."

"Humm," hubby says, "I didn't know Joni wrote Christmas songs."

"Just this one," I say and then recite the lyrics and there is no more need for explanations.

It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeers
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on




Monday, November 24, 2008

My Birthday Hat


Denise gave me this luscious purple yarn for my birthday when we visited her in Chincoteague last May. I spent some quiet hours sitting on the screened-in porch of our beach house knitting this hat for myself. Now I'm wearing it when I walk Rupert or run off to do errands. It reminds me of my special friend, of a special vacation time, of the warmth of my world.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Keep Your Pants On....

You've seen those young boys....the ones with the 52" waist jeans that hang down around their ankles and look so uncomfortable, if not just plain weird.

At a Neighborhood Watch meeting last night someone made a remark about this clothing fad. The policeman there gave us some statistics concerning our community:

.....in 2005, there were 278 purse snatching robberies
.....in 2008 there has been one

He suggested it's just possible that wearing such oversized pants makes it more difficult to snatch a purse and run away. So, I say, keep those pants on!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sleepin' In

I once was quite the morning person, arriving at work before 7:00 a.m. bright-eyed and ready to tackle whatever the day brought to me. Sometimes that meant furiously writing the poem that had been in my dreams the night before.....hurrying up before anyone else got in the office and caught me doing something other than the work I was paid to do.

Most days now I am walking Rupert at that time, often with Chris. There's a calmness to the neighborhood that is delightful in the early mornings. And I'm often on the computer early, updating my blogs or chatting with friends.

But lately -- and particularly this morning -- my favorite way to begin my day is to have my husband lean down and say, "Why don't you stay under the covers and let me walk the dog?"
Today I swallowed the guilt this sometimes makes me feel that he's out in the cold and I'm snuggled under the electric blanket. I actually went back to sleep until Rupert crawled back in bed with me. I could feel the cold morning lingering on his coat as he pawed his way under the covers and settled against my legs. We snoozed awhile before I got up and began my day.

Thank you, husband, for such a special gift.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It Seems So Simple

Life. It should just be simple. Accept differences, embrace similarities. Try to make someone's life easier. Rejoice in the moment. Mourn when you need to. Dance even when people are watching. Be kind. It's really that simple.

And I think I hurt a friend's feelings today. Our writing group often goes to lunch after our meeting, as we did today, and there was an extremely awkward moment when I made a statement in an attempt to nudge one member into not acting as a buffoon and then another member became agitated.

All I can say is that I'm sincerely sorry if my comment was insensitive. That is definitely something I always try never to be.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Under the Weather

We are not feeling well today. I have my usual "after-the-seizure" stuff going on, Chris is fighting a cold, and Rupert is nursing a cut on one of the pads of his back paw.

Rupert was so wonderful at the vet's last night, even though we had to wait an hour while she took care of an emergency (a woman who had accidentally poisoned her cat with an over-the-counter flea medication). It may sound strange but I think Rupert knows when he goes in there that he ends up feeling better. He's had lots of practice -- we joke that they will name a wing after him at their facility because we've been there so often with him. His chart is easily over an inch thick. He loves them, even wags his tail as the thermometer is stuck in.

So we're hunkering down today in the kind of weather Syracuse often has that makes you never want to leave your house: cold rain, grey skies. It's almost bad enough for me to say, "Just snow, already! I've had enough of this!"

Well, maybe not just yet.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Catching Up on the Songwriters

I wanted to write more about the Songwriters group that met at Sparkytown on Election night. It was the second time Chris and I had attended as spectators. There were two new singers and a couple of the regulars couldn't make it.

It was obvious that the election was on everyone's minds....one of the artists let everyone know she supported McCain and another told her he liked her music even if her politics were wrong. My hubby, who was proudly wearing his "Mc Can't" t-shirt, graciously listened to her and laughed when someone else thought his shirt meant he supported the Republican candidate. One musician played a new song about elections, relating this to playing liar's poker. There was friendly debating, even though I have to say I was quite surprised at this woman's support of McCain.

And then there was the music. Each person has a particular style that's become obvious to us even after only two evenings with these very special musicians. A haunting melody accompanied by lyrics in Spanish began the evening; even though I don't remember much of the Spanish I once knew, the song was lovely. And I loved a somewhat lengthy tune called the Alkie's Lament; it reminded me of something Tom Paxton would write.

But two performances have stayed with me since that night. The first was a song about suicide by a new player in the group. When he wandered in, I imagined anything other than the amazing sound that we heard when he began singing and playing....he was mesmerizing. His song was simple yet compelling. His deliverance came from somewhere deep within him and resonated.

And the other one that has stayed with me was someone struggling to find the right tempo, the right word, the right mood, the right everything. His body language and performance spoke of his frustration. I identified with him. There's nothing worse than knowing what you want the end result to be and being lost in the path while finding your way there. I struggle with that, too, most critical of myself.

If I knew him better, I'd tell him to take some long walks in the woods (he can borrow my dog if he needs company) and think about something else and when you least expect it, the right words fall into your head. I am sure he has experienced this before, and will again. We can't lose faith in the muse. We just need to practice being patient.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Identity Crisis

I've been known as "Sunny" since I was a child and one of my older cousins christened me "Little Lucretia Sunshine". My on-line friends from various writing groups also call me that. My writing life is completely tied up in that identity. It's who I am!

And someone "borrowed" my screen name to send obnoxious and downright nasty e-mails out under my name. One subject line read: Bush Kills Michelle Obama. Certainly, if you know me or read my blog, you would know with absolute certainty that this is not something I would ever write. And the other subjects are just too nasty to repeat.....another clue that these e-mails just couldn't have come from me. My saving grace, so the experts said, was that I never opened those e-mails. Remember...if it looks weird, it probably is and curiosity can kill the hard drive.

So, I had to spend a couple of days "fixing" stuff in order to stop it from happening....with absolutely no assurance that it can't happen again. There are no guarantees that crap like that won't happen in the future, no matter what I do. So....I'm just going to hang in awhile longer and hope the numb nuts (my Dad's favorite expression for folks he disliked) who borrowed my sunny disposition for their perverse causes will cease and desist. Or at least pick on someone else for awhile, although I don't wish this violation on anyone else.

Bear with me. I'll be Sunny again soon. Until then....most of you know where to find me.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

History Being Made

No, I'm not talking about the historic presidential election here. I'm much more self-absorbed today.

A seizure woke me at 1:27 AM. Chris was sleeping very soundly, so I tried not to wake him and sat on the edge of the bed for awhile. Rupert, of course, positioned himself over my legs (his way to keep me from moving following a seizure) and then went right back to sleep. I reviewed my day to try to pinpoint why I'd had a seizure on a rather stress-free day.

I'd remembered to eat during the day to keep my blood sugar levels even. The cake I made is finally gone, so I couldn't blame it on an overdose of refined sugar. Rupert and I had taken our normal three walks, so I'd had exercise. There had been no meetings during the day. I hadn't done any heavy cleaning or anything that would exhaust me. No creative meltdowns or family members calling with an update on the crisis of the day. In fact, I realized that I had stayed in my sweats and done very little yesterday.

Except......I watched television the entire day, glued to CNN and even tuning in Oprah Winfrey's Post Election show. I only left the Barcalounger to cook a meal, pee, and walk the dog.

I can honestly say I have NEVER done that in my life before, always finding something else to do before turning on the television. I have never watched an episode of "Cheers" or "Friends". Other than "Survivor", I don't care to watch much more than old movies and some news when the weather is changing. I often experience difficulties with increased audio levels of commercials and the quick, intense light changes that occur in many television shows. That's probably why I knit most of the time I'm keeping hubby company when we're watching TV at night; I can listen and keep up with what's going on, but don't have to close my eyes to the constant variations in lighting.

Yesterday, I was glued to the screen, no knitting needles in hand. And, let's face it, the CNN sets are vivid, stimulating, full of color and lights. Even during their commercials, data was scrolling here and flashing there.

I loved my TV day, but am paying the price for such indulgence today with a searing headache and that nausea in my belly. I'm back to listening to NPR for news and leaving the lights off as I do my morning chores.

But, you know what? I wouldn't have missed yesterday for anything. I learned so much and was able to feel a part of history being made.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ahhhhh

I could tell you about the erotic passage one of the writers read in our group yesterday morning, or about the kid who blew everyone's socks off with his song at the songwriters' group last night, or how Chris and I stayed up way past our bedtimes or how we watched fireworks around midnight over this city (we think they came from the University area) or how happy everyone on the street around here looks today, although we all have bags under our eyes.

But all I want to say is........gee, it feels no nice to be blue.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An Election Day Memory

Let me pass along a gentle reminder to you all to vote, please. And here's a story some of you already know:

Election Day, 2004, I stood beside my father's bed in ICU. He would pass away two days later.
A month earlier, before he was hospitalized, he had called me with a question about his absentee ballot and we had a discussion about the candidates. I tried my best to deter him from voting for George Bush. He wouldn't budge.....an air force veteran who didn't believe you changed course while engaged in a war. My argument that we needed to not be at war and that would mean having to change course didn't change his mind.

The doctors were trying to determine his competency. I was to ask him if he knew what day it was, etc. He did. I asked if he remembered it was Election Day and he nodded his head.

"Do you remember that you voted for George W. Bush?" I asked. Again, he nodded. We had always engaged in spirited conversations about politics -- sometimes on the same page, but more lately, not so much.

"Don't worry, Dad," I said. "I voted for Kerry so your vote won't count."

And he flipped me off. My father, raised his middle finger, being sure to hold it high enough for me to see. It brought tears to my eyes.

The doctor standing by apologized for him, telling me that people as ill as he was often said weird things or did something they'd never do normally. He was aghast! And me? I was crying tears of joy for this told me more than anything else could have that he was more than competent.

This turned out to be the last "conversation" I had with him. It's one that still makes me tear up when I tell it, but it is also a gift from the man who raised me, who taught me to stand up for what I believe, who told me again and again that my opinions mattered, who urged me to always speak my mind.

I sure miss him today. How he would have loved this election! And I honestly believe that for this election, our votes would not have offset one another. My vote will count.

So will yours. Vote.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Please, Do Not Assume.....

Here it comes....my grandmothers' ghosts stand over me and urge me to remind everyone to vote.

Do not assume your vote does not count. It does. Exercise your right to vote. Polls don't tell the entire story. Let's not allow complacency to rule in this election: the Republicans are counting on Democrats staying home because of a mindset that "Obama's got it wrapped up."
It ain't over until the fat lady VOTES.....to paraphrase Yogi Berra. Don't assume it doesn't matter because it does matter, deeply. Vote. Please. And please consider voting for change.

Now, on NPR this morning I heard a story that isn't political by any means but certainly shines a light on not assuming that someone else is going to do something. Here's my recap of the story:

In Wales road signs are written in two languages: English and Welsh. The sign maker only speaks English and e-mails a translator when he needs to convert the English into Welsh. He does this assuming the translator will always provide the correct answer; the sign maker never checks for himself. And that is why there is a sign in Wales that reads Slow, Sharp Curve Ahead in English and in Welsh, I am away from my office and unable to assist you at the moment.

Friday, October 31, 2008

No Halloween Here

We're turning off the lights tonight. No costumes, no candy to hand out. No volunteering this year at the church the neighborhood kids take their candy to for inspection. No pumpkins on the porch. Nothing. Why? Is it because we're just sick and tired of years of Halloweening? Is it because the holiday has become overly commercialized? Or that we wonder what value there is in teaching children to beg for candy? Or have we just become two old, self-centered grouches?

Nope.

Today is our friend's birthday. She shouldn't have to share HER day with anyone or anything else. Yes, Denise is just that special.

Happy Birthday, Denise.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Returning to the Scene of the "Crime"

Mary Ellen and I had tea and bagels at Sugar Pearl this morning.......and were DELIGHTED to see that the owner had torn the dedication page out of our book of poems, "Taking Heart", and hung it on their wall. We dedicated the book to the staff at Sugar Pearl who took such good care of Mary Ellen and me as we put the book together there on the pool table in the back room.

We felt honored. The owner escorted us to "our" table, brought us fancy silverware and huge cups of tea, even went to the store to get cream cheese for our bagels as they had run out. It was a moment of feeling as if we were royalty.

And what's amazing is......we sat there and talked about marketing our book a bit and then we both at the same time stood up and said, "I have to go home and write now!"

So.....later. The words are seeping out and in need of a home other than here. At least for today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Instant Gratification

My favorite saying, stolen from Carrie Fisher, used to be "Instant gratification takes too long."

Older and wiser now, I still feel that way sometimes, though I've learned to sit back and accept that everything happens for some reason or other. Time usually does take care of almost everything.

My favorite cousin is going through a tough time. The weekend following her mom's funeral she left her husband. She wanted to be happy. I'd cautioned her about making any kind of major decision at this time but she felt it was long overdue, and I resigned myself to being there if she needed me and letting her follow the path she's chosen.

I've seen the same thing happen repeatedly as I've dealt with friends and employees over the years: our mothers die and we're off doing something new in order to be "happy". It often doesn't turn out as we imagined it might.

When did we stop giving ourselves permission to simply take time to grieve? Must we always keep our chins up and still amble through our days as if nothing has changed in our lives? Is that truly what our loved ones would have wished us to do?

I think that when I die I want all my friends to take to their beds for a day or two and read trashy romance novels in between crying bouts and trips to the frig for chocolate chip ice cream.
And then get on with their lives...realizing that the gratification of living a happy life comes slowly and rarely following rash decisions. There are times when we are supposed to be depressed.....you know, that old thing about there being no rainbows without the storms?

My wish for my cousin today is that she enjoy the moment for what it brings, even if it's a flow of memories that bring her sorrow or pain. It's all part of the plan. She can be as happy as she allows herself to be -- no one else can or should make her happy -- but perhaps she needs to take some time to grieve, to feel sorry for herself, to mourn all that was and will no longer be.
I know she'll feel better afterwards.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rain and Ruperts

"When the rain comes, they run and hide their heads."

I was humming that song while coaxing Rupert out into the monsoon around 7:00 a.m. He wanted no part of it, quickly lifting his leg on the bamboo that grows rampant in the back yard and tugging to go back home. He's still beneath the covers. I've been keeping him company.

I've been reading Andy Warhol's diary now for weeks. I'm up to page 467 and there's still tons more. I've renewed at the library twice now so I can finish it. There's a line from one of Mary Ellen's poems that best describes my reading this book: I was taken in. This book has been with me so long now I can "hear" Andy's whine as I read it and I feel as if I know all the people he does. It's a fascinating look into a creative mind.

And what have I liked best? Andy has a trusted, loyal assistant....and his name is Rupert.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dear Denise,

Just when I was wondering if there was light at the end of the current tunnel, there you were, at my door: your healing hugs, your dazzling smile, you.

What a delightful couple of days it has been, catching up and talking, talking, talking. And being able to spend time with your girls, too! Suddenly they are young ladies, so beautiful, inside and out. Both Chris and I enjoyed their company.

You should know that Rupert is in the midst of a major pout on the Barcalounger. He's burrowed beneath the quilt you used, and anytime I walk by he gives me his "mean" look....as if I made you leave. I know how he feels. It's alittle sad not to have you here still.

Thanks for making the trip up. I'm just realizing this moment how terribly I needed a slice of you. Thank Michael for me, too. I know there's an expense involved and he probably doesn't like not having you around, and I appreciate his understanding. We sure missed him!

Here's hoping your trip back south.....where you won't need those boots you had to buy up here....is uneventful and brings you home to sunshine. I miss you already.

Love, Robin

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Boredom

Yesterday my husband said to me, "If you get bored today, you can stain this piece of wood for me."

Bored? What's that feel like? I have to admit to never feeling that way in my entire life, with the exception of an occasional staff meeting in the past. This may have something to do with the fact that my family never allowed us to say we were bored; such mutterings meant a rake or a broom was placed in your hands or you were given potatoes to peel or told to go wash the car. We taught ourselves to be occupied and busy.

Even though I'm no longer working an outside-of-the-house job, my days are more than full. I never find myself wandering from room to room wondering what will I do next. I'm always knitting something or writing something or cooking something or cleaning something. And then there's dog walking and ball tossing. A new book to read. Music to listen to. And those rare times there is something decent to watch on television, although this is always a last resort for me. Pricing my knit goods for an upcoming craft fair and Internet research on agents takes up a chunk of time, too. Occasionally a friend drops in and solving the problems of the world, or at least neighborhood problems such as what contrast paint Joan should use on the Victorian next door that's being painted now....well, I just don't have time to be bored. And, no, I didn't get to stain that piece of wood. I didn't have time.

Actually, I think I might like to feel bored, just once.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Yes, Spelling Counts....

Yesterday's post title, of course, should have been "The Poetry Reading".....left out a letter there.

What's my excuse? I'm getting used to new glasses. It was such an emotional day, I wasn't thinking clearly. I don't know how to spell "reading". I was in a hurry. Spell Check missed it. I was too tired to think. I'm learning Swahili as a second language and was confused. Rupert was typing for me.

Naw.

I'm only human.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Poetry Readng


Here's a photo of me reading....I'm in purple on the left. And the next photo shows what it looked like in front of me...


Mary Ellen and I were honored to have 38 people attend our reading. It's a small bookstore, as you may be able to tell from the photo. Several folks are sitting on the floor. We filled the place!
Our audience laughed in the right places, listened intently, and even bought our book!
The reception afterwards at my apartment was a blast! And then my brother, sister-in-law and a childhood friend treated Chris and me to dinner. (Since it would have been my dad's 77th birthday that day, we chose to go to his favorite kind of restaurant....Stella's Diner. We were too full from the reception to really eat, but we had such fun chatting.)
Whew...it's over.....and the magic of the day still lingers. I am content today. I feel like a real poet.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Taking Heart"

That's the title of the book of poetry that Mary Ellen and I have published. We'll be reading from it this afternoon at Lavender Inkwell, our neighborhood bookstore. And then there's that blasted party at my apartment afterwards.....

We have absolutely no idea how many people will come. Many have said they planned to, so we've cooked a ton of hors d'oeuvres, bought two cases of wine, and I've set up folding chairs here and there. My apartment is clean. We know what poems we are going to read and we've even practiced somewhat.

Mary Ellen and I went to the bookstore yesterday to look over the space. Good thing we did because they were going to put us in a back room that could hold maybe ten people.....they thought we'd do the reading in two parts: my friends listening to me, her friends listening to her. We have some of the same friends....it just wouldn't work for us. So we're making them rearrange some furniture...a fair exchange for the advertising they promised us that didn't get done. And I decided to read my poem "Two Straight Chicks" after all.

I'm reminding myself today of the pure joy of arriving at this point of my life. I'm going to have fun and read my heart out even if there's only one person in the room.

Here's the "Two Straight Chicks" poem I wrote in response to several people wondering why we would choose a bookstore slanted toward gay/lesbian readers.....

Two Straight Chicks


Mostly we stand tall
balancing books on our heads
full of ideas we coax into poetry.

Curves in all the right places,
we crave the company of women,
love the men who pepper our lives.

Our partnered neighborhood welcomes us,
harbors us in friendship and diversity
we wish others could share.

Oh, no, we are not gay.
Only sometimes, often when we least expect it,
we’ll find ourselves happy.

.....this poem is not in "Taking Heart".....which you can find at www.buybooksontheweb.com if you're interested in checking out some of our other poems or even buy yourself a copy!

I'll let you know how it goes....(and, yes, Denise....I will feel you standing by me.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Morning Walk

As I've not been well lately, Christopher has taken Rupert on his morning walk alone while I tried to get more sleep. I've missed these early morning walks.

This morning I crept out of bed and let Chris sleep; he's taken today off to help me prepare for the party but he's getting a bit of a head cold. Rupert is most happy when we all walk together, but this morning he seemed happy to have me to himself.....maybe he thought we'd be going into the woods or something.

Rupert walks well unless there is a dog he doesn't like or a person who's yelling or acting weird. No issues this morning; he even walked past a cat who hides in the bushes and sometimes jumps out at us.

There's a young boy who waits for the bus at the five corners. Last year he was a little scared of Rupert. We worked on becoming friends. Nassier (that's probably not he spells it) is quiet and just cute as a button. He is in the third grand, likes spelling and hates his sister. A very normal kid. I love it that when I say "good morning", he says it back and then tells me something else that he's been doing: "I got a B on my book report." or "My sister hid my shoes from me." or "We're having pizza for lunch today." And he tells other people they're "stupid" to be afraid of dogs.

This morning Nassier was at the five corners, his backpack by his side, patiently waiting for his bus. At the crosswalk I made Rupert sit; Nassier waved to us from across the street and Rupert's butt began a twitching. Nassier takes a later bus this year and we haven't seen as much of him.

We crossed the street and Rupert calmly walked over to Nassier and sat right beside him as if I'd told him to do so. Nassier, still looking for his school bus, reached his hand down to scratch Rupert's head. For at least a minute, they stayed like that. For some reason it made me tear up a bit. And then the bus appeared. "OK, Rupert," Nassier said, "Have a nice day."

It was one of those rare Norman Rockwell moments, and a fine way to begin what will be a busy day for me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Countdown....1,2,3

The poetry reading at Lavender Inkwell is in three days. I've cleaned the apartment and set up tables for the wine and food we'll be serving. What a menu: my homemade little meatballs, ME's hot crab dip made with crab she brought back from a recent trip to Maine, luscious dessert treats ME's sister is making, deviled eggs, fruit with chocolate sauce, crustinis with fresh tomato relish.....the list goes.

This afternoon Jeffrey is coming to coach me on the delivery of a couple of my poems...ones that are most important for me to read "right". In addition to his writing, Jeffrey is an actor. I'm hoping to learn a lot from him that can only help me on Saturday. I'm hoping Mary Ellen drops in....she's just starting to get nervous. I've been nervous for so long now that it's just like wearing a necklace that I never take off.

I have to make a chunk of ice to float in the punch bowl, wash the wine glasses, vacuum another time, and then hunt down bones that Rupert has scattered all over the place. I picked up at least seven two days ago.....this morning more have appeared from whatever hiding place he's found for them. It's as if he's trying to let me know he's still in control. As if there was ever any doubt.

I'm not worried about people coming....I'm almost afraid we'll have too many folks. I'm not worried about having things ready because most everything already awaits. The more I read the poems I've selected, the better I like them. I even have a vague idea of what I'm going to wear....at least I know I'm putting on my green, high-top sneakers. I hope we run out of books...we have 42 left to sell. I already have orders for 16. The bookstore folks did get a notice into the Syracuse New Times about the reading, but not The Post Standard. And the neighborhood is a buzz.....although one person we know and begrudgingly invited....known as Dimwit in previous posts....can't wait to come....only because she knows it's the only way she will get to see the inside of our apartment. Dimwit could care less about supporting us as writers from the writing group she was once a part of or as neighbors....she's just nosy. My brother is coming with his wife AND his girlfriend. Some other friends I haven't seen all summer have said they're coming. Even my hairdresser is coming....and bringing a friend or two!

My hair is cut....almost all one length again. Maria "corrected" what I'd done to my bangs without scolding me. And my new glasses -- silver, almost circular hippie frames -- are wonderful. I'll really be able to see what I'm reading!

I'm not nervous any more. I'm actually getting excited.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Politics and a Movie

We almost always begin our writing group meetings with talk about politics. Often it's related to neighborhood issues, gay rights and what those blasted Republicans have done now.

I find solace being in a room full of people who think as I do. I can't understand why anyone in their right mind would support McCain. It's even more difficult for me to comprehend why this country has not impeached Bush/Cheney.....oh, but then I doubt that anyone has ever lusted after either one of them or given them a blow job in the White House.

There's a delightfully understated movie that is my new favorite movie: The Visitor. It made me sob, it made me angry, it made me wonder what politicians are thinking. Richard Jenkins made me remember my father and the seemingly calm manner in which he handled matters. Please watch it.

I am not from exotic stock. My grandfathers were both born in Great Britain, coming to America to begin new lives a few years before the stock market first crashed in 1929. Still, I am a second generation American, my family coming here for a better life. Isn't that the principal that our founding fathers and mothers held dear? What's happened to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Please vote. Consider NOT voting for McCain. And rent "The Visitor". I dare you not to be outraged.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Calvary.

Yesterday I imagined screaming "the Calvary is coming" from whatever rooftop I could get up on. Mistakenly I thought Denise was coming to visit today and stay long enough to help me get through the poetry reading and the after party. I am positive my burning desire to have her here made me read that into her e-mail. Alas, it's not going to happen....but I am so looking forward to spending some time with her next week. When it's all over.

And then this morning, help came from an unexpected source: two men in my writing group. I trust these men completely, honor their opinions and always take their comments to heart. Concerned about my opening poem the most -- I know I'll be fine once I get started, it's just that getting started part, you know -- they listened and were kind and supportive. One of them is coming back to my place on Thursday to "coach" me and promised to listen to me read as long as it takes for me to feel comfortable.

And my angst seemed to float away. I read a couple of the poems into my tape recorder after everyone left and actually LIKED what I heard today. I'm not dreading the party as much either...even though I haven't done my part of the shopping yet. It will all come together.

One of the guys said, "I'll dress in drag and read all your poems for you,". Another said, "Listen to that Indigo Girls song again that you like so much." I just did. "Watershed." The lyric that scorched me: you agonize until your agony's your heaviest load.

So I let it go. So, thanks to all my pals for getting me to this point.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Angst: Part 1

Mary Ellen will be back in town briefly tomorrow and we'll be meeting to go over the menu for the reception following our reading on October 18th. Because we both live in woods opposite directions from Syracuse for the summer, we haven't seen much of each other. We've managed a couple of quick face-to-face meetings -- opening the box of our books that arrived, going to the bookstore to settle on a date for the reading, etc. -- but no time to just sit and think it all out together. We've been e-mailing....but she can't hear the panic in my typed words.

I'm not agonizing over the reading itself.....I'm looking forward to that part. I actually LIKE these poems. We lived with them for so long while we were putting the book together, I had feared we'd end up hating them, but that hasn't happened. It was fairly easy for me to select the ones I wanted to read (even after my brother said he was coming and asked if I'd be reading anything that might embarrass him). Of course, I transferred the poems selected onto individual pages in the largest font I could manage....one of those necessary tasks when your age reaches a speed limit.

It's the party at my place that's keeping me up at night. As you know, we moved across the street in July. Some of the folks who say they'll be at the reading haven't seen the place yet...it was one of those "kill two birds with one stone" decisions of mine to have the party here and not in the Green Street Community Garden. Well that and the fact that I have a bathroom.

Will Rupert the Wonder Dog -- still adjusting to being back among city noises -- behave? Will my mother-in-law teeter about wiping away cobwebs I haven't noticed and complaining that I didn't put out enough food or too much food? Do I have enough chairs? Do I need to make coffee? (never made a pot of coffee in my life...) Do I have enough wine glasses? Will people leave after a short period of time so I may have the meltdown I know is coming in privacy?

And of course, the huge fear: what if nobody comes?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Link I Forgot to Add to Previous Post...

Have to get used to this new blog spot and when I can edit.....

Anyway, here's a link I wanted to share regarding Dana Cooke...http://www.danacooke.com/
If you want to know why I am sending you there, scroll down and read previous entry. Listen to his songs....I think you'll like them. I loved his "When I Don't Think".

Songwriters at Sparkytown

Sparkytown is the restaurant where we go for lunch after our writers group meetings. A short walk from our apartment, Sparky's place is a slice of Greenwich Village. Her sign says: the funky place to meet. That tells you almost everything, except how great the food is! Sparky is a gracious host, welcoming everyone with a smile and special touches. She makes a lucious apple crisp!

When asking Sparky's permission to hang up a poster about our upcoming poetry reading, I noticed a poster about a songwriters group that meets there on the first Tuesday of each month. After being told I could attend without having to contribute a song (since I can't carry a tune and play no instruments), I told Chris about it. We expected it to be similar to an event we attended at another local favorite place, The Red House, where songwriters sat around and talked with the audience about inspirations for their music.

The group at Sparky's was so much more. A dozen musicians playing various sized acoustic guitars...including something called a "strum stick" that we'd never seen before and I'd be willing to bet Chris is pricing on EBay today......various ages and skill levels, but all totally passionate about their songs. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the informal leader of the group, Dana Cooke, is someone we've heard before; we own two of his CDs.

Each musician did a short introduction of the song they played. We were handed lyrics but told not to read them until after the singer had played the song (Dana actually "yelled" at me for looking at it before it was time....). Then they sat back for the critique.

And, man.....it was intense. Some of it was over my head: chord progressions and where the bridge worked best, etc. I was able to add comments related to lyrics, though. I had to swallow some guilt about doing so....since I had nothing of mine for them to judge.....but I convinced myself that, as an audience, my comments should be valid to them.

The energy of the evening mirrored that of our writing group: nervousness before it's your turn to share, the cold terror of that moment when no one says anything, the lively exchange of good suggestions, arguments and agreements. Add all the music composition stuff on top of critiquing meanings of songs....it was intense, that's the only word that adequately describes it. Again, in such a passionate way. Lots of laughter, too.

I was so impressed that they could do this....with us as spectators; they invited us back again, though. The dynamics of my writing group would shift dramatically if we had spectators....but readers are an audience, too. Maybe next month I'll invite the songwriters to drop in on one of our meetings.

My thoughts today are some you've heard before: follow your passions and surround yourself with others who follow theirs. I tossed and turned most of the night, wanting to get up and write a dozen poems; that's how the group inspired me. We have the same fears and challenges. I found myself nodding when someone said, "I get hung up on one word....finding the exact word I want...." They were great. I learned a ton. And I was thinking, athletes cross train....why shouldn't artists?

If you're one of my neighbors reading this.....drop by Sparky's and listen and learn. You won't be disappointed (even the songs that weren't as good as others were still good). Next session is Election Day....6:30 pm until whenever. We all agreed to still meet, save us the aggravation of watching early returns..........

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Employee of the Month?

This is one of my Barbie heads....I use it to display my knitted items at the annual craft fair, Plowshares, sponsored by the Syracuse Peace Council every first weekend in December. She's wearing a lovely beret and neck warmer, hand knit by yours truly.

Four of these doll heads -- two Barbies and two Bratz -- sit on the bookcase directly behind my desk. My office is set up in true Gemini fashion: half for writing, half for knitting. When I am writing, these four heads are directly behind me.

OK, I have to admit it.....I find myself talking to them during the day. I haven't actually named them yet. And, no, Denise....they've yet to talk back. I'll let you know when that day comes.

Yesterday I was showing someone I used to work with around the apartment. I pointed to the heads and said, "These lovely ladies are my new staff." She laughed, but I was almost serious. They are the perfect employees: never show up late, leave early or call in sick; never talk back or rebel at any hair brained idea I have; always smile at me; never ask for a raise or feel the need to discuss at length a personal problem I'd rather not even hear.

Seems as if there might be a TV sitcom in the making.....

Monday, October 6, 2008

How Did We Do That?

Somehow hubby and I managed to get both campers closed up all by ourselves, including hooking up the air compressor to blow any water out of the pipes before adding anti-freeze, making sure everything is tucked away for the winter, and securing two gigantic blue tarps over each camper.

Yep, we did it all alone.......two short, fat, nearing 60 old hippies who were also just slightly hung over from being out the night before and already exhausted from staying up past our bedtime. We almost put it off for another week.....but we're ruled by the weather this time of year and needed to get these chores done before it was too cold and/or too wet.

We work so well together. It took us five hours...but they seemed to fly by and we were able to do everything we needed to do....except I forgot to grab my walking boots. I remembered the bathing suits -- I'm so hoping we can cruise again this winter.

As we were hauling stuff around and climbing up on rooftops, etc., we remembered all the folks who stayed with us over the summer....it seemed as though someone was there every weekend. And that as wonderful....we sure aren't complaining about that.....but where's everyone when there's work to be done?

For the first time since we've had this spot, I was glad to walk away and head back to the city. Too much work this year and not enough down time to just walk in the woods or fish or sit in the sun. I'm certain it won't be long though before I'm desperately wishing to be back there.

Anyway, we're home for good now, tucked into the convenience of having most everything we need within walking distance. And it's pouring rain today, so I'm just going to hunker down and do some laundry. If my aching muscles will let me lift the laundry basket.....I can't believe we did all that work ourselves. But we did! What a team we are, hubby and I!

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Fresh Start.....

When AOL announced they were closing down the journals....where this blog was previously located....I thought I'd stop doing it. I began it as a way to keep in touch with friends (and that worked) and perhaps make some new friends (a couple people read it). It also became a "duty"....I'd always be thinking of what I could post next. I thought I would rid myself of that....and then I was haunted because I wasn't saying anything. Jeesh. Make up my mind.

I wanted to call a new blog "Intarsia"...but the name had been taken. What's that mean? It is a noun meaning a mosaic usually made of wood fitted into a support, the art or process of making such a mosaic, and a colored design knitted on both sides of a fabric, as in a sweater.

Aren't we all mosaics....hopefully with support and colorful designs to our lives?

I am a writer who also knits; a wife, mother and step-mother; grandmother and daughter-in-law; a member of the Green Street Writers Group; a former Human Resources Director; a lover of dogs, nature and music; a sister, a friend and a favorite cousin; a gardener and a pretty decent cook. Not necessarily in that order. Oh, yeah, and I have a seizure disorder and some tiny tumors in my brain that often create chaos in my life.

What will I write about here? All of the above and more....as I did in my AOL journal. If you read me there, thanks for reading again. If you're new, welcome. Sip a cup of tea with me as I share with you my angst about an upcoming poetry reading I'll be doing at our neighborhood bookstore, what's happening in the writers group, how much I miss my friend Denise, the latest trick we've taught Rupert the Wonder Dog, where hubby and I are vacationiing, and an occasional picture of my latest knitted creation.