Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Plants

Before I tell my story, I want to post one more set of Angle photos for this week's Thematic Photography, and yes, it's Angles of Repose. (I couldn't post the one of my husband because I thought I saw a little bit of drool dripping down his chin.)





And now, to my story. Blogger Me commented that her family has hosta plants that have been passed down through the generations. My mother had a philodendron plant that grew for years in the downstairs bathroom. It never looked all that healthy, but it lived. When she died, I took a cutting of the plant and put it in a vase of water to root. I meant, of course, to plant it.

Twenty three years later, the original plant had died, but that cutting still lived in water on my windowsill. We had moved a couple of times, and it always survived the move. All I did was change the water every few years.

It had gotten down to about two leaves, and I asked my youngest daughter, who has a green thumb, if she would plant it in dirt for me. I was afraid to do it, because the darn thing could have gone into shock after all those years of being hydroponic.

A few months later, she brought me two pots of the plant, both flourishing. I kept one and took the other to my dad. He was so happy! He said that he had really mourned when the plant at his house had died, because it was the only thing in the house still living from the time my mom had been alive.

In spite of our best efforts to the contrary, it lived for me to tell this story. "They" may be right: you can't kill a philodendron.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Blah

Does anyone else feel like turning off the television and cancelling the subscription to the newspaper? Leaving the computer off for a day or two? Not answering the phone or going to the bank? I'm even ready to hit the off button on my husband, who watches CNN from 6PM until after midnight, then turns it on when he gets up in the morning.

Does anyone else seethe when they see a Suburban with one person driving? With a George Bush sticker on it? With an "Another Family for John McCain" sticker on the other side of the bumper? Talking on his/her cell phone LAUGHING?? Don't they get it?

Does anyone else feel hoodwinked? Helpless? (Call my senator, they say. Which one - Elizabeth or Richard? I ask laughing maniacally.) Does anyone else think that we may as well go ahead and take the $700 billion and put it in the pockets of executive crooks, forgoing the hypocrisy?

Does anyone else find it depressing that what was once the greatest country in the world has not only made a mess of things for itself but for others who looked up to us?

Hello? Time Warner? Can you cancel everything but the Disney Channel?

Hello? News and Observer? Go ahead and fire all the local writers and editors. They didn't get much play anyway. And I'd like to cancel everything but the Sunday...comics.

There. I feel better already.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday: So close to Monday :(

Did you miss me this weekend? It was a full one without a minute to spare, and here it is Sunday night already.

When we first moved to Raleigh, we lived in a rental house up the street from where we live now. We moved our refrigerator down the hill on a hand truck! It's hard for me to think that it was twenty three years ago that we lived there. Yesterday I was coming back from my office and glanced over into the yard of the old house. It looked like there was a circle of red flags in the yard. The house is for rent, so I figured there was a big hole there or something.

Later, downstairs in my meditation room, I looked out the window and saw this:



and I realized that what I saw in the yard of the old house was a circle of those flowers. I have no idea where the ones in our backyard came from, but I like to think they came down the hill just like we did twenty-three years ago.

This year my husband planted a flower in our front yard that has flourished and makes me happy each time I leave or come home:



On the opposite side of the brick wall is the yellow variety of the same flower (and it happened to have a visitor for the photo shoot):



Lastly, the house orchids are happy.




Yep, I was busy, but there was time for the flowers. Beautiful.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thematic Photography: Angles

The themes over at Carmi's are sometimes easy, like last week's Nature. This week's Angles is a little more open to interpretation.

This first photo is of a convention center in Chicago:



A little more interpretive is this photo taken with some trickery in a little remote cabin in the North Carolina mountains:



I love to take photos from the angle of sitting on the flybridge of the boat.



Here is an angled photo (another interpretation, I think) taken at the Mast General Store, also in the NC mountains.



I have lots of photos of my husband, asleep with his mouth gaping open (no drool, thank goodness) that I could have included as "angle of repose" but I chose not to. Brownie points, you know.

Great theme, Carmi. I like the ones that make me think.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gas

I understand from those I know in Asheville that there is almost no gas to be had. When news goes out that a station is getting some, lines form early in the morning with miles of cars.

Anybody out there remember waiting in line for gas in the '70's? I had this old brown Chevy Impala that looked like a cop car. Not a good thing to drive in those days when people were kind of paranoid all the time, but it was free, so I didn't complain.

One morning, my boyfriend (now husband) and I got up early to get in line for a fill-up. He was in front of me in his green Dodge van. Unbeknownst to me, I was idling in automatic choke, and when I put the car into drive to move forward a foot it went crashing into the van which threw it back into the car behind me, which sent me out into the street and flying through the intersection of Wake Forest Road and Hardimont Road through a red light where I did a 360 turn. I was braking, putting the car into park (!), nothing worked until I stalled out in the middle of the road. Even back then Wake Forest Road was a busy, traffic filled street and I was very vulnerable sitting in that smoking car.

My husband's first comment when he got out of the car and walked over to where I was sitting stunned in the driver's seat was, "Gosh, were you that pissed about waiting in line?"

I hate to see a repeat of those days of waiting in line for gas. It was an unstable time. Just like now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Politics {sigh}

Last night I sat around the dinner table with my Thursday night girls (moved to Monday night for now) and felt so happy to be with like-minded people. A whole table of women who agree that this election is crucial. And agree in the WAY that it is crucial.

So, buoyed by our agreement I came to work feeling happy and optimistic. Then I took a phone call from a grading contractor. He asked how our business is doing. Doing okay, I said. We're hanging in there. Yep, he said, this election is pretty important. Um hmm, I said. I guess we're on the same page, he said. Yeah, I said. Obama scares the hell out of me, he said, but I like that Sarah Palin. A bulldog in lipstick, he said.

Oh my god. He thinks I'm a Republican! I was speechless. I sat there in silence long enough for him to feel uncomfortable. And then gave him my husband's cell phone number so he could call him.

A freaking bulldog with lipstick??? It is indeed looking like what my husband says is true: Sarah Palin appeals to ignorant people. There, I said it. And I'm not one bit ashamed.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Books

I am about halfway through Wally Lamb's new book, The Hour I First Believed, and it is a winner. Full review coming in a few days (the book is 700 pages long).

I see that Oprah has chosen David Wroblewski's book The Story of Edgar Sawtelle for her book club. With all the influence she has, with all the fame and fortune that comes with being an Oprah Book Club choice, why has she chosen a book that is already a bestseller? Why can't she choose books from the smaller publishers, lesser known (or unknown) authors?

It is a great book, but she could have chosen so much more wisely. She has the power to effect change in the publishing industry, and I wish she would think about what that means to us as readers and writers.

Oh well, order your copy from Quail Ridge Books or an independent bookstore in your town. At least make a difference when you buy her picks.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Nature Videography

I spent today with my video camera in one hand and my digital in the other. Because butterflies flit, my Flip video camera doesn't do the best on focusing, but it was fun to follow this beautiful specimen:

video

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fall

Okay, I lied - I'm going to post this one additional picture of Nature. Let's just say I'm happy about the cooler weather and beauty of fall.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Looking forward...

I'm looking so forward to this weekend and some R&R. But most of all, I'm looking forward to reading a galley of Wally Lamb's new book, The Hour I First Believed. I'll let you know what I think, hopefully on Monday. And if you haven't read his first book, I Know This Much Is True, catch up! Oprah picked his second book, She's Come Undone, for her book club.

We've waited a long time for this new one.

I cannot believe that this is the first post I've done with the label of "Books" - what have I been talking about all this time??

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thematic Photography: Nature

I have only been taking pictures for a hobby for a few years. One of my daughters and I went to San Diego, and I almost drove her crazy taking photo after photo of the view from the balcony of our hotel. But on that trip, I discovered that I love seeing the world through a camera lens.

Because we do alot of traveling by water around the North Carolina coast, I have seen some incredible nature through that lens. One of my favorite places to go is Bald Head Island. The island is developed, but a huge portion of it is a nature preserve. I have seen deer, foxes, all kinds of marine birds, snakes, crabs, fish, dolphin, turtles, alligators, and lots and lots of beautiful water and wood.

So naturally (no pun intended, really!) Carmi's Nature Theme had me trying to narrow down what to post tonight. I promise this is my only one, although I could post from now until forever and never run out of nature photographs from my files.

So here are some favorites. I'm looking forward to seeing yours.




A new thought, or an old one

Something occurred to me yesterday that may have occurred to people long before I thought of it. I think it's worth sharing though.

When we are having difficulty in a relationship with a spouse, adult child, friend, sibling, even George Bush, it might be helpful to visualize that person as a child. What does their adult action say about their childhood? What did they need that they didn't get?

Let's take George Bush for example. I have tried in many ways to have compassion for him. I used this idea on him yesterday and I saw a little boy with an overbearing mother, probably small for his age, maybe bullied. So obtaining power became his overarching goal. Maybe true, maybe not true, but this is how I thought of him, and I felt something for the small boy feeling powerless.

When we reduce each of us to the child, we cannot help but feel empathy. And if we feel empathy, we might feel compelled to address the need in the child/person by giving them stature, hugging them, complimenting them, being interested in them as opposed to belittling them more, shunning them because they annoy us, refusing to indulge their need for recognition, listening with an uninterested ear.

Okay, I admit, I felt something for the young George Bush. It's still hard to not be angry at the adult that is our President. But I've made a start. And if it works with him and me, sisters and brothers, it'll work with anybody.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Letting go

This weekend I felt very stressed. The situation with my dad is getting complicated and he's beginning to feel discouraged by the "one thing after another" that constitutes his life. This is all new to us; he's been taking care of himself incredibly well, without our input, for eighty-six years.

I felt conflicted about whether to go to see him, but had numerous things to catch up on - yes, I'm still trying to get caught up from the hospital stay - and then my minister called and asked if I could fix lunch for a group that was playing in church on Sunday. I decided to stay.

Unusually, we also had something to do every night of the weekend. Friday night we met friends for dinner; Saturday night we went to hear the group that was playing on Sunday at the church. It was a ten-piece group called Funkadesi and they were awesome. I was excited about them playing in church and they did not disappoint. They processed in playing drums and cowbells and other instruments I don't know the name of, and had the congregation dancing and clapping and grinning within seconds of their entrance. At lunch they were gracious and grateful for our hospitality.

One of the things that I had planned to do on Saturday was schedule the rest of the facilitators for our fall book study. This should have involved many phone calls, but because I cooked instead, no calls got made. By going to church, though, I was able to find the rest of the facilitators by asking face to face. A gift I had not expected.

Right after my dad was sick, when I was tired and irrational, I wrote a few of my friends and berated them for "not paying attention to me while my dad was sick" or something like that. I have since apologized for my ridiculous behavior; and one of the friends, a nurse, has been my most valuable resource for dealing with some of my dad's problems. Every time I talk to her she reassures me and gives me concrete actions to take to help my dad, and she spent a while with me on the phone last night.

All of this rambling is to say this: Grace comes in unexpected ways. If we can just put aside our worries and stop putting up barriers, we will see grace standing there waiting for us. It wasn't the weekend I expected, but I'm filled with gratitude for the way it turned out.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Day Two of Closeups

I went through a phase in my photo-taking of shoes as a theme (also in my writing).


This is another from the Mast General Store.

And finally, this face appeared to me at my sister's house. I just had to go get my camera and document it.

Scroll down for more of my picks, and go over to Carmi's to see others' interpretations.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thematic Photography: Closeup

Carmi has come up with another gem of a theme, Closeup. Here are my first offerings:

Flowers always make beautiful, sensual closeups.

This photo was taken at the Mast General Store. I love to close in on containers of things.

A few days after this photo was taken, a sport fishing boat spilled many, many gallons of fuel into the water around the marina. Haven't seen one of these guys since.

And the last for today, a closeup of the computer desk.

Stay tuned - I'll have more tomorrow.

Blood Red Pencil

The photos are coming, I promise. But I just ran across a great blog about editing:

The Blood Red Pencil

See you in a bit.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Marilynne Robinson

(I have my photographs all picked out for this week's photographic theme but I'm saving that for tomorrow.)

There was an adaptation of Marilynne Robinson's new novel Home in the August 2008 issue of Harper's Magazine, a story called "Jack" and it shows her writing talent exquisitely. Here are a few lines I just had to share:

"The big old radio grew warm and gave off an odor like rancid hair tonic. It reminded her of a nervous salesman. And it made a sullen hiss and sputter if she moved away from it. It was the kind of bad companion loneliness makes welcome."

When I read writing like that I don't know whether to be inspired or give up.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

If this is goodbye...

I wasn't going to let the news of the Large Hadron Collider get to me, and then at seven o'clock this morning a friend called from out of the blue. We hadn't spoken for several years--in fact I didn't know she had moved to Hawaii from Massachusetts--and we spent a while catching up. And now I'm wondering why she picked today to call. Is she worried?

All kidding aside (was I kidding?) why on earth do we need the Large Hadron Collider? Don't we have enough to spend our money on with useless wars, pork barrel demands, and raises for fat egocentric CEOs?

It would be easy to feel down that I haven't even started my bucket list or published a story or travelled to Hawaii, but I'm going to be optimistic. Want to have drinks on Thursday??

However, just in case we all head down the black rabbit hole tomorrow because of some mad scientists , let me say, it's been a blast. Um, I mean fun.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Faded

Tonight it's me that's faded. I'm just back from Quail Ridge Books where I brought in my favorite activist minister, Jimmy Creech, to talk about religion and politics. He had us thinking, that's for sure.

To distract myself from doing some editing on a story for class, I have uploaded my final selections for the theme of Faded. This week I'll try to follow the form I've seen on others' blogs by titling and storying my thematic pix.




Sunday, September 7, 2008

Chalk one up for our side

You all know I'm a bulldog about supporting independent businesses.

When I was young, my next door neighbors owned Brown Gardiner Drugstore in Greensboro. The owners, Ellen and Bill Brown, were true supporters of the neighborhood. They went to all the ball games at the local high school, fed students, lawyers, doctors, and just plain folks thousands of times at their lunch counter, knew our medical histories, cautioned us about drug interactions before it was a big deal. And the Browns were rabid Carolina fans as anyone who talked to them for five minutes knew.

After many years, the Browns sold the store, but the new owners kept up the personal feel and superior customer service. The lunch counter still served Carolina burgers and crinkly fries with fountain drinks.

Then, an Eckerd Store opened directly across the street. We all inwardly groaned, sure that our favorite drugstore would go the way of our favorite independent bookstore, News and Novels, and our favorite independent theater, the Janus. Every time I went home I expected to see that the building with its Carolina blue awning had been replaced by a boring three-story brick office building.

I am oh so happy to report that on my last visit home, Eckerds was dark and empty and the lunch counter at Brown Gardner was standing room only.

There's hope, people, there's still hope.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Long Lists

I had pretty much cleared my calendar of obligations during the summer, but come late August, early September things start getting wild again. I have said yes to a few things I should have said no to (although I've said no to a few things I should have said no to, also). And I've committed to do a couple of things that involve calling people and asking them to participate in an activity. This is something I absolutely hate to do.

Every single day I read about something I would like to get involved in. Causes that I feel passionate about. Causes that I could make a difference by advocating. I know that one person can make a difference. Time, though, is the limiting factor.

With only so much time, I need to take a step back from my commitments and decide which are ones that only I can do. Which are ones that I can do best. Which are ones that call the loudest to me. I have to limit myself or I'll only be doing lots of things half-assed and nothing well.

Some people have high on their list of things to do outside of work to relax. I don't work this into my schedule very often, and should. Resting feels unproductive, but I know that when I make cards, or read, or nap I do a better job on the lists of obligations.

How do you allocate your time? How do you decide what causes need you the most and which ones you need the most?

I read this quote the other day: "You can't do everything at once, but you can do something at once." Guess I'll get back to it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Taking care

During my dad's six-day stay in the hospital and for almost two weeks afterwards, we stayed with him practically day and night. Once he got home from the hospital, people began coming over to see him and some brought food. We are so grateful for all the many kindnesses that were done for him, but today he is alone for the first time since he went to the hospital, and it seems that now would be a great time to visit and bring food.

My dad is very independent and can take care of himself. But I know he gets lonely living in that house that was once full of kids and a wife and later grandchildren and in-laws. And suddenly after having lots of care and companionship he is back to the quiet, not feeling quite up to par.

I've expressed this same sentiment about families who have lost a loved one. In the days leading up to and right after the funeral, there is food and family and friends galore. Then WHAM! Nothing. Or maybe a card or call every few days for a while and then nothing.

I think we need to be aware that after things have quieted down, whether a person has been ill or suffered loss, he or she needs us more than ever. Sorrow is a lonesome emotion and having others around takes some of the edge off. And if you've been ill, there's nothing like a chicken pot pie or a visit from a friend to hurry you on the path to feeling good again.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Faded

A few final pictures showing Faded.



Choices

My daughter mentioned today that it is ironic that the McCain campaign is making much of the fact that Bristol Palin is CHOOSING to keep her baby, and that her mother and John McCain may take away the ability to CHOOSE. I'm glad she had a CHOICE.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Faded

Yep, Carmi has come up with a great photographic theme this week: Faded. Since I'm a newbie, I get a little worried on Wednesdays that I won't be able to find anything appropriate in my album. But Carmi's so clever. The theme is always subject to interpretation! Here are my first offerings:





Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Blog visitors

I admit that I like having lots of visitors to my blog. Thanks for stopping by and occasionally leaving a comment.

One of the blogs I visit is called Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. This woman has between 200 and 500 comments a day. Most of them are one sentence long. "Great post" or "Cowboys don't like pink?" Nothing of substance. My question is this: Why in the hell would you waste one minute of your precious day making that kind of comment when you are one of many hundreds of people saying the same thing? Do they actually think she reads all of them? Oh my god - what if she DOES read them all? Doesn't she have kiddie cowboy boots to buy, corn to shuck, butterbeans to freeze?

Me? I prefer looking at the pictures of her husband. She calls him Marlboro Man, and he's easy on the eyes. Now that's spending your precious time wisely.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Procrastination

While trying to do a week's worth of homework in a day, my mind kept wandering to things inside and outside that would look good through the camera lens. The room where I write and meditate and make my cards is full of beautiful images. Here are a few that caught my eye today:



And as promised, the video of my dad. My niece is asking the questions.

video