08 December 2010


December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

     My dad is turning 86 in a few days, although you would never guess that.  Every morning he gets up eager and anxious to get the day going.  He and my mom live in a two-story house that they bought in 1969 and he literally sprints up the stairs. They have a pool in the back that he cares for even though they don't swim in it.  He and mom plant interesting things in a small side garden and they eat what they sow.  
     My dad still exercises every day.  Some days this means a game of tennis with a much-younger partner whom he can still beat.  Occasionally, his knee will act up, but he tells me that he takes 1 (one!!) glucosomine/chondroitin and it immediately feels better.  Many days he runs.  Yes, I said 'runs!'  It's not far, maybe some days just around the block, but he runs.  When the weather's bad, he will run in the house. He has a loop that goes: living room, into the dining room, through the kitchen and, rounding the entry way, back into the living room.  He does twenty or so laps and feels he's had his exercise. (This makes my mom crazy, because it has worn a pattern in the rug.  "He wears his shoes!")  And, on all days, he starts first with old-school calisthenics.  When I was in high school, I remember the irritation I felt each morning when this woke me up earlier than I wanted with his gruntings...."one, two, three...." as he counted out his push-ups, sit-ups, squats.      
     He reads the daily paper, the internet, news magazines and an occasional book.  This, all despite a type of dyslexia.  Sometimes he quietly reads out loud, as his index finger underlines the words, but he always reads.  There is always a jigsaw puzzle being worked on in the family room.  TV is frequently on in the kitchen while he works on a project.  He and my mom go out to eat almost daily.  They love to go out to breakfast, but any meal is enjoyable to eat out for them.  He talks to anybody he meets.  Again, when I was in high school, this was irritating.  He would stick out his hand and introduce himself to ANYONE and ask about the other person and sometimes INVITE THEM HOME!  I was mortified; now, I wish I could be more like him.
     He spent his first 15 years in a foreign land where they worried about the food.  It has stayed with him all his life.  I don't believe he has ever eaten the skin of a tomato.   Produce was always washed with a vegetable scrubber when I was growing up and we were careful how we ate fruits and vegetables.  He won't touch most of his food with his hands.  Oh, how my siblings and I used to laugh at this...still do, actually.
     Take brownies.  My dad LOVES brownies.  Loves, loves, loves.  He makes them himself, frequently...Betty Crocker brownies, add the walnuts.  The way my dad eats them is that they are cut, placed on a plate, and then while he stands at the counter in the kitchen, he will bend down and eat them off the plate with his mouth.  His hands will be clasped behind his back.  That's a funny image, right?!  
     But so what?  That's my dad.  And, so, for this year's birthday present, I went to one of those ceramic paint-your-own places and made him a plate.  


04 December 2010


December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

With my camera.....

Who else do you know who has a rocking
chair in their backyard?
I love how the two floor patterns merge...inside to outside....

Water always makes for interesting pictures.


December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

     A lot happened in 2010.  Some good, some not so good, some bad.  How to pick just one moment to describe for the Reverb10 project was at first hard, until I focused on that one phrase, felt most alive.  For me, that moment had to do with death.

     Our beloved 18-year-old cat, Jazz, had to be put to sleep on November 17th, less than a month ago.  He was old...I don't even know for sure how old in cat years--90-something?...so it was not that this was unexpected.  He had been having kidney problems for several months and had been getting subcutaneous fluids every day at our vet's.  But the only way--for a long time--that we knew anything was wrong was through the blood test results.  He was still acting like his normal self up until the last few months.  He had Siamese in him and had that characteristic caterwaul of a meow, but was such a lovable old guy.  He spent most of his days sleeping in the sun--how he loved the warmth of the sun!--and would sit on anyone who would give him a lap.
     The week before his death, he had been hospitalized.  He just wasn't dealing with food in his normal way:  he'd come out to the kitchen and sit patiently by his dish, and look up expectantly as I spooned food into it, but then when he bent down to smell it, he'd react as if it were rotten.  Dr. Wendi said that frequently nausea is a side effect of renal problems, so initially, he was going to stay overnight to get IV fluids.  That overnight stretched into a week as they took his blood daily and sent it to a lab for more precise measurements of his BUN and creatinine levels which were dropping every day.  Finally, Dr. Ryan said that we should take him home because the levels had somewhat stabilized and although they were abnormally high still, he would probably do better at home.
     Three days later, it was obvious he wasn't doing better.  He was having problems walking--listing to one side, running into things and falling down--and wasn't eating at all.  The night before the 17th, my daughter and I sat with him on the couch.  It was so quiet in the house.  Jazz just wanted to rest, just wanted to sleep but his body was jerking and tic-ing.  These were neurologic problems that he had had for about a year but it had never been this bad.  In the beginning, we had noticed a little tic, a movement of his head.  Then a few months ago, he began to sometimes jerk out a leg as he was settling down to sleep.  But that night, his head was jerking so suddenly, violently, and randomly that he couldn't lay his head down to sleep.  It was agonizing. 
     The next morning, I called and talked to two of the vets.  We all knew it was time to help him die.  The picture above was taken about an hour before we left for the vet.  He lay on the wing-back chair in the sun and was somewhat at peace, I think.  He wasn't tic-ing just then.  He slept in the warmth next to the window, purring a bit when I petted him.  I sat on another chair next to him and watched him sleep, knowing that in just an hour..less, even...he would cease to be.  The knowledge was so painful.
     I'll spare you the details of his actual death, except to say it was quiet, painless as far as I could tell, and very, very sad.  Dr. Mike was wonderful with all of us, especially my daughter.  But in that moment of his death, I felt, FELT, my alive-ness the most. 


December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)

Every day I think of writing.  Every. Damn. Day.  The writing I would like to do is to tell all the stories that swirl around in my head.  Short stories, novels, plays...sometimes things come to me in entirety...a whole plot.  Usually in the shower.  If only I could get out, dry off, and write them down!!

Most days what writing I do do is to journal late at night, just before sleep.  I have a wonderful journal that I love dearly.  It has a weight, a heft that is just right in my hands.  The paper is just the right gloss vs linen-y combination that makes it heaven to write on.  The space for writing each day is tiny--seven little slots on one 6x8 page--but there is an open blank page opposite it to write on or draw on or ignore (I've done all three).  It came from Starbucks.  In October this year when it all of a sudden dawned on me that the year--and journal--were about to end, I panicked.  I needed to get another journal just like this one and soon.  I looked at one Starbucks after another, at first casually as it occured to me standing in line for a tall, drip, bold coffee of the day, and then more determinedly when I couldn't find it.  I started asking the baristas who all just looked at me blankly and said, "This is all we have."  Finally I wrote someone at Starbucks Headquarters who told me Thanks For My Interest, but they weren't planning on carrying anything like that this year.  Would I be interested in a hot chocolate gift set?"  Um....no!  So, I'm currently on a quest for the perfect journal.  It's horrible to have found it and then not be able to get it.  (Metaphor for life, eh?) 

The problem, can you eliminate what gets in the way of your writing?, is a bit harder, because it has to do with my procrastination if I really pare it down.  I mean, I could talk about my hands and how hard it is some days to do anything with them at all, but so what?  It is just what it is. I have to start doing things in spite of.  So, the answer to this part of the writing prompt is simple:  I have to just plant my butt in the chair and write.  Period.


December 1 - One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
Gwen Bell)

When I look over all of 2010 and try to describe it all in one word, what comes up first is health issues...health problems...and how unhappy I feel about them all.  But really, what it all amounts to is FRUSTRATION.  It's so frustrating not to be able to do the things I want, frustrating to feel so blocked, frustrated to be so STUCK in this reality.  But synthesizing the whole of the year's experience, it is the frustration that stands out.  

So, what I hope for (and, really what that means is--I hope I strive for), is HEALTH.  I want to walk for the exercise even if my feet are hurting, write even though my thumbs are hurting, get up earlier even though I love sleeping in.  There is sooo much to look forward to in 2011; I want to be healthy enough to enjoy it all.


I have known about the project #Reverb10 since last year sometime and was intrigued by it.  Over the months, for whatever reason, it's dropped off my radar. But I came across a tweet two days ago that referred to it and I'm once again enthralled with the concept.

I think it appeals to that same part of me that resonates with NaNoWriMo. And although I did piteously with NaNo this year (a mere 10,000 words, give or take a few hundred...depending on whether you count the embedded recipe and grocery list for that day!) I think the scope of the Reverb project is much more to my (dis)abilities.  

Let's see how I do!

09 November 2010

Hunter's Moon

It's November!  National Novel Writing Month.  A month of writing furiously: 50,000 words in 30 days.  Harrowing, but so much fun.

I have participated in NaNoWriMo every year since 2002, which turned out to be the one and only year I've "won."  (Finishing 50,000 words by 11/30 makes one a "winner.")  Every year I've started with great enthusiasm, (at midnight, November 1st, no less) but in the past few years my arthritis has really gotten in the way and some time around mid-month I've given up. But this year I have vowed to 'write through the pain.'  At night when my thumbs ache, and in the morning when they really hurt, I wonder about the wisdom of this plan, but I so want to be writing that the pain of not writing is greater than my thumb pain.    

This year I am writing a story woven within several stories.  The central story is about a developmentally-challenged young woman named Hunter, who lives with her hoarder mother. When her mother dies, what happens to her?  The novel is being told in an Olive Kitteridge style, in that other stories about townspeople will be telling Hunter's story.  I'm having so much fun writing this one!

So far, the Librarian has told his story.  It is day 9 of NaNoWriMo, and I'm not exactly keeping up with the goal of 1,667 words/day, but I love Hunter and her town and its townspeople, so I can envision staying with them until they tell ALL their stories, even after NaNoWriMo draws to a close.  I am having fun! 


05 July 2010

First Post is Always the Hardest...

     I have an insane inner critic.  (My internal editor will beat yours, any day!)  Through experience, I've learned that I do much better if it's disabled.  I need to just plunge in--to any adventure or ordeal--and many times, as soon as I get my feet wet, that critic eases up some, which frees my creativity and my enjoyment of the moment. 
     So, here's my new blog.  So exciting...so daunting!  The past few days, I've been frozen...not sure at all, any more, that I even want a blog. 
     But I do.  I do!!  So, I'm plunging in...well, not plunging, exactly...more like dipping my toes in the water...but still, I'm in. 

About Me

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I am curious about everything, all the time. Sometimes it's exhausting. (I even wonder WHY I wonder.) It would be so much easier to not be asking "Why?" all the time.