Tuesday, March 31, 2009


We do quite a bit of traveling down I-40, and lately the vultures have been out in force. I don't think I'm just noticing them more either - there are more of them around. Maybe it's a seasonal thing.

They must have been getting to my subconscious, though, because last night I dreamed that hundreds of them were circling around my husband and me as we rode in an open boat/vehicle. One swooped in very close--I could see how beautiful it was before it flew away. Then one of them dropped a very large, round white liquid on my leg which was easily pushed away.

Later in the dream, we were riding in said vehicle and a bright red, fuzzy, Sesame Street type bird attached itself to my head and would not let go. My husband finally pulled it away as it loudly complained. It then sat on the outside of the vehicle with its things (I can't remember what it had with it but a radio might have been one of the items.)

I was thinking about this driving to work and a crow took a dive at my windshield so aggressively that I had to put on the brakes to keep from hitting it. As I was recovering from that I looked over and saw two geese floating (not flapping) perfectly in sync toward the Baptist church parking lot.

Something's going on with me and the birds.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I always leave a visitation or funeral hoping I haven't said anything inappropriate, something that would increase the sorrow of the family member to whom it was said. And I realized this morning that we are all inept, bumbling fools in the face of death.

We ask, "How are you?" and the person thinks, Not well, not well at all, thank you.

We say, "I'm sorry" and the person thinks, So am I.

We don't know what to say. That's the bottom line. We don't know how the person feels, even if we've lost our parent, spouse, sibling, child just as they have. We don't know if things will get better. We don't know if they can be happy the person lived a good life or doesn't have to suffer anymore. We don't know if they can find comfort in knowing they were a good parent, spouse, sibling, child. We just do not know.

If I could sit with the person and take the time to compose my words, I would say this (and I use "she" and "her" in the interest of brevity):

"I acknowledge that someone very dear to you has died. Today, I feel such sadness for that loss, partly for my loss, but mostly because of the sorrow I see in your eyes. If the person was old, I acknowledge that you loved her a very long time, that she has been part of your life forever. If the person was young, I acknowledge the tragedy of a life lost too soon. If the person was sick and you took care of her, I know that you have spent a lot of time caring for her, thinking about her, dealing with doctors and hospitals and medicine, hoping for a miracle. If you were estranged from the person, I recognize that you may be living with regrets.

"I admit that today, I'm with you in your sorrow. I cry too. But I also admit that in a few weeks, the loss won't be so acute for me, the elements of my life will conspire to crowd out my feelings of loss. I do recognize, though, that your loss is a permanent part of your life, that every day will bring reminders of the person you loved, that you will still be dealing with the seemingly endless legal and financial details of death long after we all walk away from the funeral. I know that you will always miss your loved one, see the empty chair at the table, smell her unique smell in random places, wish to hear her voice one more time, cry when you hear a song or poem or walk on the beach alone. I promise to try to remember that you're still grieving and call or write every now and then to let you know that I'm aware of that."

Death leaves us speechless, really, because in the end it is the great unifier. We all lose loved ones to death, and each death forces us to face our own mortality. We can only offer our sympathy and honesty, and hope that we have been a small comfort.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I've gotten news of death a few times this week: a college friend's elderly father, another friend whose mother and father-in-law died within days of each other, a young family member. Some very difficult decisions had to made in a couple of the deaths.

From my limited experience with loss of a loved one, I know that for quite a while you cry in the shower, in the car, at work--it seems that you cannot be consoled. Your sadness can be triggered by a smell, a song, something you see in another person's face.

In the car this morning, it dawned on me that in the face of death, we are all just children masquerading as adults, needing someone else to take away the pain, hold us comfortingly, bring hope that tomorrow everything will be just fine.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Asta in the Wings

I may have just read my favorite book of 2009: Asta in the Wings, by Jan Elizabeth Watson. Nancy Olson of Quail Ridge Books has never let me down with a recommendation, and she was spot on with this one. I read all 300 pages in twenty-four hours, and that includes creeping through the last ten pages or so because I couldn't bear to say good-bye to Asta.

If you love to read and love good reading, and live in the Raleigh area, I highly recommend that you head down to Quail Ridge Books tomorrow night (Monday) and attend their book club bash. You'll hear about the best in (mostly) paperback reading and drink some really good wine. If you can't make the Monday night event, you can drink coffee and hear about the recommendations on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Get that book, people. It's one of the finest debut novels I've ever read. And thanks to Tin House, a small publisher, for bringing such great reading to those of us who still care to learn about unknown but very talented writers. I can't wait for Watson to write something else.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Day In Pictures

That sound you hear is my exhalation of relief at having the first two and half months of accounting work behind me. Whooooooooooooosh....

Nice day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What I accomplished today...I think

Today was my day off. Job one? To write a story for class next week. Unfortunately I was like a maniac on speed. I could not settle down to write. I would sit for a minute, then do laundry.

Another few minutes and I was up taking a picture of my neighbor's back yard. I plan to send it to him as a postcard with a nasty note on the back.

I spent about thirty minutes looking for a manual that went with a leader's guide that I found in a box at my office. I thought I could do a good retreat with my friends. If I had found it I could have.

I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about food (see yesterday's post) and the boat (it was sixty degrees and beautiful). I called Whole Foods to find out the ingredients in their vegan almond cookies so I could figure out how many points I would use if I ate one. Seven. Out of twenty-one for the day.

I sent emails about my husband's upcoming gig.

I cursed the aphids on my orchids and tried to spray them to death (the aphids, not the orchids.)

I talked to all three sisters, two daughters, my husband about ten times, the HVAC guy because the heat isn't working, and a couple of friends.

It was 9:00 p.m. Where did the day go? But I didn't have time to think about it because American Idol was coming on and I had to watch until the bitter end when that cute Alexis got voted off. I cried. But at least she can go home to her daughter.

And now, it's bedtime. I got a lot done, but job one is still pending.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Weighty matters

I have never been a person who obsessed about her weight. Of course, up until about fifteen years ago, I was fairly thin. Even having to put on a bathing suit every summer didn't feel THAT bad. Lately too I've been able to say, as I stuffed another vegan almond cookie from Whole Foods in my mouth, "At least you're not smoking!"

But the other day something happened that made me run, not walk, to the computer and sign up for Weight Watchers.

My husband and I were at a local restaurant having lunch and we heard this woman say, "Hey, (husband's name)." We turned around and there was a girl from his hometown. The hottest girl in high school (not so hot any more if you ask me but that's not part of this story) and she looked at me and said, "Hey, um um um...."

Now I've been with my husband for thirty seven years. She knew me way back when. So my female brain immediately thought, She doesn't recognize me because I've gotten so fat!!! And then she told us that she was going to Italy with one of hubby's old high school girlfriends and I knew where that was going: the two of them on the flight over talking about how fat I've gotten. No frigging way. Well, frigging way, but never again!

So I'm counting points like all the rest of the weight watchers. And boy have I been surprised at the points in some of what I've been shoving into my mouth! I'm just about starving most of the day, but the fear of running into another girl from my husband's high school days has me gnawing on my knuckles, drinking black coffee, and eating puffed wheat cereal three times a day.

You never know where you might find inspiration, hmmmm?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thought for the Day

I love this quote by Thomas Merton:

"Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God's eyes. If only they could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time, there would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed...I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Thematic Photography: Kitchen

Carmi's theme this week over at WrittenInc is Kitchen.

This kitchen is always waterfront. You have to be creative though because you're working with two very unpredictable burners, a toaster oven and a grill. And one outlet. I almost caught the curtains on fire one night, standing out looking at the stars. Boat+fire? Not good! But really, how much brains does it take to know to move the oven AWAY from the window??? We've also had the wind pick the meat up off the grill!

This second photograph shows the hardest part of my kitchen to keep clean: the front and sides of the refrigerator, where I am constantly putting up photographs of people I love and quote magnets. I never get tired of looking at either.

I've been in the kitchen most of the day today. I sent some food to my brother who is taking care of his in-laws while his wife and daughter are with his son-in-law in the hospital, and to my dad who is still trying to pick up some speed after a recent surgery. I also found some good collard greens and tomatoes at the garden store so the kitchen has that collard green smell. Most people don't like it but to me it smells like something good to eat! And so, off to dinner. From my kitchen. Where we're always casual and laid back. Nice.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Today I spent the day with the artisans who created this house:

The outside is very ornate and arresting as you ride by on a street of mostly wood constructed houses.

The architect/designer was there furnishing the rooms with so many beautiful window treatments and accessories.

There were special details in each room. In the stairwell this custom made ornamental railing:

In the foyer, this inlaid marble mosaic:

In the bathrooms, intricate tilework and custom fixtures:

The wall finishes were works of art in themselves.

My husband is the contractor who oversaw the construction of this house. The architect and others spent time telling me how every detail had to be exactly right. That even the framing and plumbing and wiring were neat and flawless. He deserves every compliment. It is perfection.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


In the Whole Foods parking lot yesterday, I saw two things that I found comically ironic.

1. A Hummer with a bicycle on top.
2. A Prius driver who held up traffic while waiting for the parking place closest to the store.

Anyone else want to contribute?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Weird Week

On Monday, we woke up to the second snow of the winter, and in the past few years we've been lucky to have one decent snowstorm.

Today, the temperature reached the mid-seventies. I was sitting on my deck tonight, wishing I could smoke a cigarette (will I ever not wish that?) and this is what I heard:

Where else can you wear boots and flip flops in the same week?? That's NC for you.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thematic Photography: Transparent

Yesterday I turned in a foot high stack of tax documents to the accountant and my dad had a successful visit to the hospital. Today I went to my last board meeting of a three-year tenure. I'm ready to join the land of the living, starting with Carmi's Transparent Theme.

I love reflections so transparent windows give you a good view of what's behind and in front of them. Looking in is fun too!

I'm sure I can find some more...stay tuned.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

It was a good day to be a cat....


On the left hand side of my blog, there is a daily quote. In a "whoa" moment, I noticed that this is the quote for today, right next to my photo from yesterday.

When the wind of change blows, some will be building walls while others will be building windmills.
- Unknown