Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gray day, moving day

Today, after being at Southport Marina for a year (I can't believe it has been that long), we moved the boat to the old Bald Head Island ferry landing. After a restful morning, we headed out.

It has been a very cloudy, windy day, and I was glad it was a short ride to the new marina.

The view from the back of the boat is great - trees and sky. We've never been in such a natural setting in a marina.

Our friend Mike came over and helped us get settled. He also gave my husband a lift back to the car. We are now about a mile from town. This'll be a great bike ride when the spring comes, but today would have been chilly.

The best part of the new marina is that the old welcome center for the ferry riders is part of the usable space. The bathrooms and shower are there, and also a lounge area and a small bar counter. Lots of dock space too. Until the Mitchell brothers (who own Bald Head Island) catch wind of it, we'll be able to have some nice gatherings in the space.

I've calmed down completely since my savage rant of yesterday. I finished reading Amy Bloom's new book of stories, Where the God of Love Hangs Out, and it is as fine a collection as her others. She writes about love as well and as freshly as anyone I know. I am almost through with Yann Martel's new book, Beatrice and Virgil. As he did in Life of Pi, he uses animals in a very creative and thoughtful way. It's excellent!

I needed this restful weekend, and am very thankful for the peace I feel.

Friday, February 26, 2010

RANT revisited

Maybe it was enough to have this post in cyberspace and off my mind.

My friend gave me a plate that said, "Be nice or go home."

I think I'll go home now.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Last night, my daughter and I were watching American Idol. You already knew I was a fan, right? "I love this show!" I said as I alternately laughed and cried. I'm a sucker for this kind of emotional roller coaster.

After the show, she flipped to TLC, where "Toddlers and Tiaras" was showing overweight beauty queen wannabes and their daughters, who though around five years old, are made up to look like fifty-year-old country singers. I said, "Is this Tiaras and Toddlers?" and my daughter said, "Toddlers and Tiaras??" in the disdainful way only daughters speak to their mothers. "You never watched television when we were young," she said.

Was this a criticism of me then, or a criticism of me now? Because I could just tell by the way she said it that she wasn't happy about the fact that I only started watching television since she and her sisters left home.

"Well, I don't watch television THAT much," I said. "Only Jon Stewart and What Not To Wear," I said. And then I thought, and My First Home, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, American Idol, News 14 Carolina every morning and night, Community Calendar when they have those weird programs, Monkey Time...."

Shoot, okay, I watch a little television. And maybe, just maybe, this could be a clue to how little time I have to read good books and write intriguing short stories. But now that Jon and Kate split up, I'll have a little more time.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Kaizen Way

I think it was my blogger friend, Billie who mentioned the book, One Small Step Can Change Your Life. On our way to the coast and back I read the book out loud to my husband. What a revolutionary idea it proposes!

Using a method called Kaizen, author Robert Maurer suggests that rather than attempting broad, challenging changes in our lives, that we start with small baby steps. This way of attempting self-improvement disarms the "fight or flight" reaction most of us have when stopping a bad habit or adopting a good one.

Thinking small, we are encouraged to ask small questions, think small thoughts, take small actions, solve small problems, bestow small rewards, and identify small moments. This is so contrary to how we suppose we are to effect change, but Maurer's every suggestion made great sense.

I have, without knowing about Kaizen, already used some of the techniques. For instance, when I wanted to quit smoking, I started by asking myself small questions. What would I do instead of smoking in this or that instance? What could I do to satisfy my oral craving? In this way, I did not jump in and give up smoking immediately, but I got myself thinking ahead in small ways about how not smoking would change my life.

I resist the need to exercise. Maurer suggested to one of his patients that she march in place for one minute while watching television. To another, he said, STAND on the treadmill for one minute each night. Increase to two minutes, then walk on the treadmill for two minutes, and so on. If you find yourself resisting, go back to a smaller step.

I am going to take his suggestion to heart. I have a yoga book from years ago that gives 28 days of poses, starting from simple to hard. I'm going to do the first day, one pose. Then, when I feel comfortable with that simple small action, I will move to the second pose. Not in 28 days, but in my time.

I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to making my life better. Maybe with Kaizen, I can trick myself out of rebelling.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bathroom Books

Yes, maybe the winter weather is freezing my brain, and maybe all I have to talk about today is...bathroom books.

There are books in every room of my house. Except two hallways and the laundry room. And my bathroom books, I like to think, are interesting. No "Bathroom Jokebook" will ever be found in my powder room! Here is what you'll find:

Leisure Time: for assurance of a fuller life: This book is copyrighted in 1957 and is a publication of The Equitable Life Insurance Company. I found it at Father and Son, an antique and junque shop in downtown Raleigh. It is full of tips about how to live healthfully. Hobby suggestions are on this page, hobbies being a way of living a full, satisfying life.

Don'ts for Dancers: This is a very small, purple book that was first published in 1925. I saw it sitting on my friend Nancy Olson's desk and asked if I could have it. Oh the tips you will find in this book. "Don't be unhappy because you are wearing an old frock. Remember that it is not so old to other people as it is to you. You may think it shabby, but you are invariably more critical than they. And it isn't your frock, but the way you dance, that matters to your partner."

Facts of Life and Love for Teenagers: Published in 1950 by the National Board of YMCA's and costing 25 cents, it contains the warning, "This is a good book for adolescents and for their parents. It may shock some but it is likely to help teenagers." This quote is from Bible Teacher, and I'm not sure if that is a magazine or a person. It includes a whole chapter called, "Love Out of Bounds" with subtitles like, "Loving a Married Woman." This, folks, is shocking material for a teenager in the fifties!

Myth and Romance: The Art of J W Waterhouse: Soft porn, anyone? Waterhouse is an artist from the late 1800's, early 1900's. The introduction to the book, interestingly enough, uses words like "fertile" to describe his imagination, and "wistful female beauties" with regard to his subjects. Both appropriate descriptions.

14,000 Things to Be Happy About: This is the book that has been in my bathroom the longest. The figure on top was made in school by my middle daughter. I can always tell when someone has been reading the book because the smiling figure has been taken off and put to the side.

I will end this post with a few of the 14,000 things to be happy about that I find to be most puzzling:

tiny satin pouches
long Edwardian jackets
nubby cotton
"It's key"
swell sounds
skinny rings
sliding shorts
blond silk string with blond beads
the nickname "Boo Boo"
making up dreams in bed
pens with clocks in them
touching someone's rings
Turk's head nautical knot

Get the picture? Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nicholas Sparks

Back when he was just becoming an author whose name people knew, Nicholas Sparks was scheduled to come to Barnes and Noble. Because his novels are light-hearted stories for the big-hearted, Nancy didn't take him seriously and it was fine with her that he wasn't coming to her store.

Something happened at the B&N, though, and the publicist called Nancy at the last minute and asked if Sparks could read at her store. She agreed, and asked me if I would introduce him.

I was very excited! I had it all planned how I would tell the story of knowing him from the Book Nook, finding out he'd written a book set in NC, etc. I also wanted to meet him.

About thirty minutes before the reading, the door to the bookstore started swinging open and (mostly) women of all ages started arriving. Soon the seats that had been put out were full and the staff was bringing out more. Then those seats were full and it was standing room only.

Nicholas Sparks arrived, and started charming the pants off those women. He mingled and signed books, and chatted and smiled that charming smile, and I was just itching to get to the podium.

Nancy came out of the back of the store and saw what was going on. And with no more thought of me she marched to the front of the store, welcomed Nicholas like he was the author she'd been waiting for all her life, and proceeded to introduce him!

I've forgiven her because I love her so much. And she did let me introduce Joyce Carol Oates who said it was one of the most enjoyable introductions she'd ever heard. But I'll never let her forget that she swept me aside like a piece of dirt on the bookstore carpet, and stole the stage from me that night!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Every time I hear of another book or movie hit by author Nicholas Sparks, I remember when he was a nobody, and I knew him. Sort of.

I've looked in my blog archives trying to find an old post about why I keep my AOL account, the nostalgia associated with my first connection to the Internet, but I can't locate it. In the beginning, one of the things I loved about AOL was its chat rooms. Nancy Olson (owner of Quail Ridge Books) and I used to go into this room called "The Book Nook" where we talked about books (of course) and came to know (in the cyber-way) quite a few people. Some of them came to Raleigh eventually, and we got to meet them.

A frequent visitor to the chat room told me one night that he was getting ready to publish a book set in North Carolina. I jumped all over this, insisting that he contact Nancy when it came out, because she is such a great supporter of local writers.

It was Nicholas Sparks. I'd say he's come a long way from "The Book Nook".

Next: "The Time Nicholas Sparks Came to Quail Ridge Books"

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Coindence or Synchronicity?

Today at church, my husband's gospel band played. They play about once a quarter.

Also today we had an unusually high number of visitors. They ran out of hand-outs for them; there were that many. At the 9:00 service, there was one visitor I thought I knew. After the service I walked over to say hello, and realized after talking to him for a minute that he wasn't the person I thought he was, but was an old acquaintance.

It was the first time he had ever come, and he told me this: On the way to church he had been listening to a demo tape of the gospel band. At one time, I handed out quite a few of the CDs, but have no idea how he came to be in possession of one, nor did he. When he walked in the church and saw that the band was playing, he was bowled over.

Now what are the chances that he would have the CD, listen to it on the way to visit a new church, and show up to find that the band that plays once a quarter is the same band he was listening to?

It was a great day at the church. The message was on two of Unity's principles: practice affirmations and denials (denials in the sense of refusing to give in to negative feelings, etc.) and put the principles into practice. The minister touched on the importance of meditation in bridging the gap between our conscious minds and our super-conscious minds. I don't know if "super-conscious" is a psychological term or not, but he used it in the sense of our higher self, our highest potential.

I'm ready to face the week with the strength I gained from what went on today: great music, inspiration, and serendipitous occurrences.

Friday, February 5, 2010


For my birthday, a friend gave me this beautiful book. I keep it by my computer and every day, once or twice, I randomly open it. I am always amazed at the wisdom on each page.

I have tried to order it from my local bookstore with no luck. At the used book sites online, copies are going for over $50. My friend bought it, I believe, off the table of one of the big box book stores, and even they are sold out of it. I'd love to find more copies of it to give as gifts.

Today I opened to this page:

to be curious

Knowledge won't find us, we must find it.
Every day is a chance to learn something new.
Cast your net wide,
Open your mind to the excitement of learning.
Curiosity keeps us young at heart and mind.
When we stop learning, we stop living.

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." - Albert Einstein

As always the page speaks to me. I have been so pleased with my work in the darkroom, a new knowledge that I'm acquiring. And a heads up: my friend and I will be showing our work for the project "Picturing Moore Square" in the Longview Center Gallery on April 2.

This project has taken me outside of my comfort zone in many ways. I'm taking film photographs again, black and white to boot. I've approached strangers, entered unfamiliar and even sinister spaces, learned to make a video on the computer. I've made a good friend of the girl I'm working with. I'm s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g. It feels good.