Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I've been going through some major changes lately.  (No, not that kind of change.  Hopefully I have at least 10 more years before that hits.)  It seems like life refuses to follow the plan that I have laid out.  Such a stubborn beast life can be.

How is it possible to walk around in a daze yet still be full of new insights?  That's how it has been for me this past month.

I'll talk more about all of this later.  Right now I just wanted to say "Hi!" and "I'm still alive out there!" for those of you whose blogs I haven't visited or commented on in a long time.

When circumstances take a dramatic turn, I feel like the best way for me to get through it is to focus on something.  Of course with the holidays coming that's a little more difficult to do.  But anyways, whatever it is that I decide to throw myself into will be shared here because I miss writing.

Talk with you soon!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

the thousand year stare

The thousand year stare
scaffolds up a hundred transparent moments
my attention wanes
and sharpens abruptly.
I flirt with an emerald hummingbird
on the sun's side of the window
but he only sees his reflection, not the ghost
nods goodbye to sample a Gerber daisy
one of two on a stubborn plant.
I return to the kitchen.
Lines ingrained in pressed wood trace my finger
alphabet letters and preschool portraits
smiley faces
pencils tapping out songs leaving stars behind
the cadence of children making music around our table.
Window smudges.
Moss on the gate grows unchecked
the siding glows
this incessant heat
how long will it take to return after I scrub it away?
I remember something my mother wrote
words of tonic water when they finally went down
still undigested
does she resent me for not being her
or for being myself?
The books I ordered should have arrived
it has been nearly two weeks.
Piano lessons, nursery rhymes, the gingerbread man.
High-pitched silverware slides
with plates like cymbals
My family sings melodies of white noise in the background of my daydreams
I wish I could discern the tune
the fine points, the rough edges
find an intrinsic harmony.

Friday, July 29, 2011

garden haiku

If you want to start writing poetry, the haiku is a user-friendly introduction to it.  With a three-lined verse that contains the syllabic pattern of 5-7-5 and no requirement to rhyme, amateurs can make their foray into this Japanese art form without the emotional and time investment that other types of poetry require.  Purists might argue that it's more complex than I let on, and I suppose it could be, but I don't want to scare any burgeoning poets away.

This morning I was inspired by a contest to write some haiku.  I haven't written much poetry in the past few years because it takes a lot out of me emotionally, but this was simple and without that commitment.  Haiku is like the one night stand of poetry.

garden wanderer
pauses to view robin nest
dive bombing ensues

night time insects cry
katy did, katy didn't
cacophony choir

Feel free to comment with your own haiku or link to your webpage or blog :-)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

thoughts on May 21st rapturization

Well, it looks like the day is finally here--the day that the end of the world begins.  I'm still here.

My kids and I have been trying to get through the 3-hour-long Avatar movie.  I've been wondering if the rapture will be like that, where your body will suddenly go limp and that'll be it.

If it is gonna happen today, I doubt it's gonna happen to me.  My next-door neighbor is still around, and he has a lot going for him.  He was named after the Apostle Paul, he told me that he never curses, he hosts the church youth group for a backyard get-together every so often, and he always has a piece of candy in his pocket and a smile for a stranger.  I am nowhere near oaiopaslk;jgkl  908t 8gti  nlkalhe480ah fgie



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

sullen teenage mockingbird

I won't do it.  You can't make me leave this tree.  Humph!

Friday, May 6, 2011

argiope aurantia, our charlotte

This little girl was spotted in our front bushes in May, 2009. She took up residence there and remained for the entire summer. When I arrived home from work in the early morning I would check for her presence in the web. If she disappeared for a day, we would worry that something terrible had happened to her, but sure enough she returned soon after, sometimes in her old web, sometimes in a new one. I guess you could say that she had a high "web-site tenacity," which is the probability of how long spiders remain in their webs before they find another site. This term was described in 1973, long before the internet was around! She had a good food source there, but we think she just liked us. :-)

She ate flies and beetles that ventured unknowingly into her lethal web. After paralyzing them with venom, she wrapped them tightly in silk.

Her abdomen, which was usually flat, grew large and round and stayed that way for days after eating. We came to know when it was time for her next meal.

As time went on, she somehow carved for herself a little depression in the leaves so that she could expand the web out further. After all, she was getting larger, and needed to be able to catch prey that was worthy of her size.

In this photo she holds a large winged insect, perhaps a cicada. We did see a few of those last year.

My favorite photo of her. The yellow and black markings on her legs and abdomen are clear as she rested after a long meal.

Her home began to extend above the bushes.

When the lower bushes were too confining for the size of the web she wanted to build, she moved up and anchored onto the pillar of our front porch and the Euonymus Alatus, or "burning bush," growing next to the house.

One morning, after I did my usual check for her, she was gone again from the web. I searched the bricks and within the leaves. I finally found her on the soffit of the front of the house. I knew it was time to say goodbye. She was drifting away from where we could be close to her and watch the details of her life play out. The mornings were becoming chillier, and I knew that she couldn't hang around forever. It was time for her to build a nest in which to make her egg sac. After laying the eggs, she would grow weaker and eventually pass away.

We had adopted her as part of our extended family, and last summer I found her offspring on some of the bushes.  I called them my natural mosquito-killers.  This spring we should be seeing Charlotte's grandchildren.  I will welcome them joyously into my garden too!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

convention of the river spirits

black coal river

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

the strawberry saga continues

Here we have an intact strawberry, full of hope and promise for a long ripening, and almost ready to give up its juicy sweetness to the humans who planted, watered, and cared for it:         


This next one shows that I need to go into stealth mode with night vision goggles in order to witness the precise moment of ripening (before the birds wake-up and have a feast):         

Finally, this last specimen has helped me to realize that maybe the farmer's market is a better option:

Hopefully I'll make it there early enough on Saturday before all the strawberries sell out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

pigeon--the other white meat

According to the rule-out ADHD diet, fresh or frozen pigeon is okay to eat.  What a relief!

Monday, April 4, 2011

the ambiguous path of humanity

I think of the animals, who go about their daily lives in the prescribed patterns that suit them.  They obtain their sustenance, reproduce, fight over mates, their food, and their territories.  There is the alpha male whom the others respect and fear, but he is not (typically) a tyrant.  The animals live how they live without question, with instinct.  A bird does not decide that his society is not working for him and go off to build a new colony of birds based upon a new philosophy of living.  He will leave the nest to start a family, but the methods of survival remain based upon the threads of instinct that have been woven through hundreds of past generations.

Despite all of the intelligence that humans (in general) possess, we haven’t yet found the optimal way to live; we still fight over the details that should have been worked out hundreds of years ago.  Evolution has failed our brains in this way.  Perhaps we did have a good idea about how to get it right once, but passed it by with our increasing knowledge and technology, and in gaining that we have lost much of the instinct that drives our survival.  We’ve become hammered down by the details and have lost the view of the big picture. 

With greater knowledge comes greater indecision about the "right" way to live.  As humans, we try to find our guides in religious texts, but there are so many modern questions that these don’t answer unless one skews the interpretation to fit their comfortable point of view.  The fact that there are hundreds of religions, sects and denominations shows that we are thoroughly confused.  So many choices, so many cultures, so many tints through which to view the world.  

Is there one perfect ideology for humans that will maximize our intelligence, needs, and wants, yet still perpetuate our species at a sustainable level while allowing us to respect all others that aren't human?  No, there is not, when seen through the lens of time.  As technology has grown, so have our wants, so what we think we want is a matter of the reality that we live in.  Our reality of today is different from even ten years ago.  We are now at the point in time when our needs and our wants have become reversed, with it easier to provide for our wants than our needs (it is easier to go to the store and buy a new cell phone than it is to grow food).  I believe that this is a dire situation for us.

Because we are of a higher thinking order than animals, maybe it’s not possible to find that one true path of living that is good (or right) for all, but shouldn’t the one true philosophy, that will bring happiness for all and preserve the earth, transcend politics and opinion?  How will we know when we have found it?  Or will we only discover it in retrospect, when all is lost?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

a side of guilt with mayo on top

Dearest Kraft Mayo (and all other mayonnaises who are reading this),

I just wanted to reassure you that I value our relationship.  What you do for my sandwich, my salad dressing,  even my hamburger since I've moved to the South, and in essence, what you do for me as a person, can't be quantified or adequately described in words.  My feeble attempts to relate my feelings to you would be a mere specter of the thoughts that swell my heart and make it want to burst in a fit of something other than a blown aneurysm.

My beloved Mayo, I find your ultimatum troubling.  Wait!  Do not despair!  It's just that love, hate--all those superlatives--they seem to be quite too much, and if I didn't know any better I'd think you were trying to get into my pants. 

Please don't take this personally.  I didn't even say that I "hated" coffee back in the days when one plugged-nostril whiff of it made me nauseated.  As far as the word "love" goes, well, I love me an ice cream sundae with caramel, real whipped cream and peanuts.  You're just not there yet, but there's always room for growth.

What it comes down to, Mayo, is that I like you.  That's all I can give you right now.  Please do not return this reassurance with a gift of food poisoning.  I promise not to let you go.  I've become too much of a Southerner for that to happen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

train them up (or down, or sideways)

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."-- Proverbs 22:6

I thought of this verse today while walking through my garden boxes and looking over the strawberries that I planted about a month ago. My fruits and vegetables are also my children, and even better because they don't talk back or try to sit on and flatten the cat. Although I'd never trade my real kids for an insect-free organic row of lettuce, I swear it.

Strawberries are unruly and don't like to do what they're told. They need to be trained, just like children, although I have a hunch that training strawberries is a slightly easier task.

We have tiny wild strawberries growing all over our yard. For the past couple of years I've fought with the ones that grow through my daylilies. Every couple of months I go out there and yank them up (guiltily), and before you know it they are back again as if nothing ever happened (they are very forgiving, to put it nicely).  That's because strawberry plants grow from a bottom crown, and they send out long runners in all directions to make more little plants. When you pull them up, you have to get them at each crown section. Even then, there are always more lurking under the bushes just waiting to creep around the corner.

Those wild strawberries have been a good lesson for me on how to keep the "domesticated" ones under control. (Disclaimer: this advice cannot be applied to marriage.)

So here's what I did:

I made a corral for my berries by using the holes in concrete blocks (I got them for free on freecycle.org--I love that website!).

Three on one side, and three on the other:

I filled the middle of the box with some peat, compost, and top soil to help the drainage issue (when it rains it turns into a muddy pool, since our soil is mainly reddish-colored clay).

Here they are a month later, a little larger, the ground a little greener.  I get so used to the brownness of winter that I don't think of it as dreary until I see a side-by-side comparison.

Some strawberry blossoms:

As they grow and send out runners, I plan to turn the strawberries in toward the center of the box to keep them from taking over my yard (although choking out the rampant unstoppable Bermuda grass and wild onions might be a benefit to letting them go crazy!).

I've read that it is best to lop off the flowers the first year so that the plants can spend their youth growing rather than reproducing (sounds like good advice).  But I want fresh strawberries this year, if only a few!  Call me greedy.  And hopefully by next year I'll have a box full of yummy strawberries to pick in the spring and summer!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Chihuly Nights at Cheekwood botanical garden

We have a membership to Cheekwood botanical garden in Nashville. In November, we went and saw some of the artwork of Dale Chihuly displayed throughout the grounds.

I've had this post in draft since then, but just thought to finish it up when my cousin in Seattle said on facebook that the powers that be are tearing down an old amusement park to build a Chihuly glass exhibit. I value art, and it does have a place in the education of children, but come on now. Where are the priorities???

Saturday, January 1, 2011

happy rest of the year

This was the first NYE that we let little Claire stay up with B, with lots of "joyful" playing and running around. I know that our pets were wondering what was going on as they tried to stay off to the side of the action and avoid a trampling.

I couldn't hear what Dick Clark was saying over all the yelling. The kids don't understand the significance of this man on New Year's Eve. Sadly, I don't think that any explanation I give could bring back the energy of years past when we stayed up late to celebrate along with his spirited voice and personality. Thank goodness we have a DVR, so I could rewind and play it back over and over again.

By the time I was able to partially hear it, we were 3 minutes behind in the program. New Year's was only 20 minutes or so away. The Backstreet Boys/NKOTB combo came on, and I was torn about whether or not to skip past or listen. I don't think my life would have been the less for it if we had fast forwarded, especially since my husband and I spent much of the time in a life-changing debate over the singing career of Marky Mark.

Anyways, today I want to give a shout out to January 2nd, the neglected younger brother of Queen New Year's Day. And as far as that goes, the rest of the year as well.

Here's to a productive, purposeful and peaceful 2011. Let's do this thing!