Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa finds everyone somehow...

Christmas Eve is upon us. Are you ready? Do you have all your wrapping done and the cooking well on it's way to being scrumptious? Or am I asking too many questions on top of all the other things you have to tend to today? OK, I'll stop. I'll tell you a story and answer the age old question- Is there really a Santa Claus?

The van was packed with gifts for children and with children bearing gifts...for strangers. The stranger's wishes had been plucked from the branches of an angel tree- my friend Kathy and I were heading up the Social Ministries gig at the local Lutheran Church, and had installed the tree in the church lobby with many names of local children who needed a Santa. Most of the tags had been picked, and shopped for and underneath the tree- were the gifts wrapped ready for the faceless names on the cards. Kath and I- belonging to the school of Charlie Brown mentalities...picked up the rest of the tags that had not been favored. Perhaps because of the unpronounceable names or the age of the child or the gift wanted...for unknown reasons, these children would remain gift less if we didn't act accordingly. We shopped till we almost dropped as the final gift tag wish was fulfilled.
We wrapped all the final gifts, loading our modes of transportation to the brink with packages and our own oldest children.
I remember feeling good, though tired- about the whole operation. We didn't necessarily have the money to go around to cover excess presents- but still somehow, all was covered. On the way to the agency that would receive the gifts and dole them out accordingly- my oldest son seemed especially quiet. (For he was not a quiet child, he was often quite chatty- his thoughts often declared out loud.) We had Christmas music on the radio, me feeling good- singing loudly, following Kathy's tail gate. When out of the blue, the question of all questions was uttered...

"Mom, why did we have to buy all these gifts? I thought Santa looked after everyone. Why doesn't Santa bring gifts to these children? Don't they have chimneys? I thought you said that Santa finds everyone somehow..."

In all the hub bub, in all the haste and happiness- I didn't think about how this might affect the oldest thinker of the brood. In my heart I heard "this is wonderful, the right thing to do. How happy these children will be..." When the questions arose, it drove home the fact that my son was still a child, an innocent full of wonder and magical thinking. And I had encouraged these beliefs- from leaving Santa's red mitten near the cookies and milk site to actually making deer tracks in the snow and shaking loudly, bells out under the midnight moon on Christmas Eve.

Those questions needed a miracle answer, not a magical one. The opportunity was at hand to teach, (as I had thought I had done by example...but again, the child was but a child- compassion in a whirl of activity did not present the lesson I hoped it would) at the stop light, I thought too about who this Santa chap really was.

I looked at my child, really looked at that face looking upon me in trust. A Christmas story at that moment, and moments to come...would not do.

I pulled the van over at the next opportunity, Kathy's tail gate faded into the traffic line ahead of me. I cleared my throat, I stammered a bit. My heart and my head were fighting a duel and the bright face in the passenger seat confronted me with a judge's query of interrogation I could not ignore. I felt I was on the witness stand at that point, and had to testify. The Christmas music volume seemed to loud, I turned it down. There was a quiet between us now that had never been before. His eyes searched mine, for an answer- a true truth.

"Son", stammering still-"remember Missy from church? How we bought her a bear last Christmas? You know, her family is so big and they have so little, so we gave her the bear as a secret gift from us, remember?"

He did.

"Well, we did that because we know her and we like her and we thought of her when we saw the bear. Remember? We thought how Missy would love this! It was as though a voice whispered to us, only we couldn't hear the voice with our ears- it came from somewhere else..."

"Like a spirit."

"Yes! That's right, like a spirit. Well, all these gifts for all these kids we'll never know...all that comes from the spirit of giving. Beau, that's what Santa Claus really is...he's a spirit that fills us with love, with tolerance and compassion. He is everywhere all the time, but especially at Christmas his spirit is louder. We can't help but hear his voice, when we ourselves have everything we need- we feel this big overwhelming desire to give too. Just like Santa Claus."

"What is tolerance?" my son questioned.

"Tolerance is when you feel like hitting your sister when she teases you, but you don't right away. You don't want to hurt her, but sometimes she just bugs you to death and you feel like smacking her. But you know she's just a little kid, you know it's not right to hit her, so you go climb a tree or something. Often times, she finally leaves you alone and you find something else to do and you forget what it was you even wanted to smack her for. You do this because you love her mostly, so her behavior eventually doesn't bother you so much. Does that make sense?"

"No. I still mostly want to smack her, but I don't want to get in trouble." Beau honestly remarked.

"Right... Well does it feel to be Santa Claus?" now I was questioning, hoping for the light to go on in his young head.

I remember he was thoughtfully quiet again, looking out through the windshield, then looking back in at all the packages. By this time, Kathy had turned her vehicle around and pulled right up in front of us.

"I get it. There really is a Santa Claus, only sometimes we have to be him. Sometimes people forget to give or they don't have money and we have to help them. And my family is my Santa Claus because they love me and never forget. I know who Santa Claus is, I know...!"

"But you can't tell, OK? Only people who are ready to know get to be Santa Claus. Little kids don't understand, they need to believe in Santa just the way you always did. It makes them happy and excited. But being Santa, when you're ready- is just as exciting! What do you think?"...more questioning.

"Yeah, it's OK...but I'm still a kid and I like wondering what will be under the tree, I still need Santa Claus."

We eventually delivered the gifts, Beau asking the case worker if we could go along and see the faces. I remember her stunned look at me. She just smiled and left the answering to me.

"We don't need to see the faces, do we? Don't we know how good it will be? Don't we just feel like the best of the best right now? If we deliver them, and they're not ready to know- and they quit believing in Santa Claus...I just think it might make them sad."

My son agreed, without questions this time.
And that Christmas was no different than the previous ones- there were gifts and stockings full of Pez and toothbrushes and oranges and chocolate coins. There were the same sullen faces when it came to opening up "gifts" of clothing...of joy when they were faced with a particularly big wrapped present. And there was a knowing and a not knowing- an acceptance of a reality midst the imaginary. To my knowledge, my son never disclosed the secret to his siblings. Matter of fact, he'd get quite defensive when another not so worldly kid would spout off and tease a child who still believed in Santa Claus. He'd say-

"Santa Claus is real, if you believe. If you don't believe, just wait and see what presents you get- there are kids all over the world who believe and they get their gifts and your gifts too. That's how it works." He was good and kind and had quite the flair for manipulation when most needed. And in his time, what a Santa he was- I still to this day wear the diamond ring with four stones that he gave me, never taking it off.

"Mom, I couldn't help it- I saw the ring in a window and those diamonds reminded me of us kids, how you love us more than anything."

Of course I cried and got on him, this gift was too expensive- he couldn't afford it. In front of the family, I must have hurt his feelings a bit. I took him aside later and couldn't really speak well of how I felt. Again, a quiet between us- I looked at that face that said everything there is to say about the selfless act of giving a gift just to share in the joy of the receiver. I must have smiled the right smile, he returned it and we hugged like two big old bears. Best of the best feeling of all.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

thin in it's branches

Ever since I put up the little scraggly Christmas tree, the dogs have been acting weird. The kids usually pick out the tree and have it cut down, but this year the act caused a commotion and the sibling rivalry got out of hand, two of the three are not talking to each other now and the house remained tree free. Yesterday, I took it upon myself to pick up a tree from a local grower. I picked a precut one since it's demise was already assured and I felt less guilty taking it home. I am not the one to pick trees, I feel sorry for the ones that surely no one in their right mind would choose. So of course, I picked a little winner- when the lady showed me the price tag, I said- "C'mon, I'm taking your Charlie Brown tree...", so- when we got to the price register she told the gal there to knock off nine bucks.

As I drove home through the back roads of the country, in 4-wheel drive High- the sun glistening off the iced road grasses and snow dusted fields, I felt like a million bucks. The tree was going to a place that the children might marvel at it's tannenbaumish quality- yes, it is small in demeanor, thin in it's branches- but just like good Ol' Charlie Brown, I could see it's potential. Why, with tinsel and bright lights, ornaments of past children's masterpieces and that big old shiny gold star at the top, it could be the best tree ever!

(The star bends the top over, the tinsel looks like jewelry on an old drag queen, and the ornaments? Two were put on and the tree actually quivered. Maybe this little old evergreen just needs a little more love...we're waiting to see if it stiffens up a bit before adding more decor.)

And the dogs? They sit on the stairs opposite the tree and gaze upon it with interest, I think they're secretly placing bets with one another on it's sure demise of tumbling over if just the right pup in the household should grasp it's tender branches in her little puppy mouth and give it a bit of a shake. (I've placed the tree on a table top, Miss Etta would have to jump up about three feet to get to it...although a leap from the stairs might do it too.)
With all the house lights off and only the tiny little colored lights twinkling, and if you squint...hard, it is a beautiful tree.

But those dogs keep staring at it like it's going down...the stake out started last night and continues on, the big dog tempting the little one- I swear, just look at the pics, there is evil in his eyes.

Oh Christmas tree, poor Christmas tree-

How spindly are your branches...
Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...
The canines are entrance-ed!
The father dog is whispering to

His offspring saying, "I'll bet you...

just one good tug will bring it down,

And there'll be Christmas on the ground!

Oh Christmas Tree, Poor Christmas tree-

You fill my heart with mischief."

A little Christmas spirit to brighten up your day...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Santa Claus Syndrome

Good morning. Chilly morning. The temperature dropped 40 degrees here last night. And I forgot, or rather put off till today- replacing the ice melter thingamajig for the water trough. I'm sure it's frozen solid through and through and the little machine I'll add to the water/ice later won't do a thing but sizzle on top of that ice unless I chop Monday goings on.
To town we'll head today to sign two of the younger sect up for the January semester at a community college. First stop though will be to the post office to send off the final installments of Christmas goodies to the Big Fish out East and friends. I made molasses cookies yesterday, froggers as my Granny called them- and I made candy, though the peanut brittle is more like laffy taffy, if you slap it against the counter it does crack, but it's more pliable than usual. Tastes good though. And my infamous chocolate fudge with walnuts and a smidgen of Baileys Irish Cream, delectable and habit forming which leads to Santa Claus syndrome- a round little belly...
And the real reason for my post today- my little brother sent me this in an email. If it isn't the darndest, cutest, wackiest thing. Try this link and do as the prompt says. It's addictive, so go ahead and try to stump the "singers", they'll take it on the chin and crack you up.

And I'll be bringing you more Christmas spirit here as it moves me.

Have a good one, take care-

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

lovely people

Good morning. I would have written yesterday, but the wintry mix in the morning took away my satellite connection.
Monday found me contemplating my Christmas list, short it may be- still someone had to fill it. Have I mentioned I hate shopping of any kind? Browsing for antiques is different, that's an adventure into history and I do love old things. Anyway- on my way into town, my youngest daughter Lily called me. She had a headache. A migraine. Could I please, if I was in the area- run her some ibuprofen? Not a problem as I was just five minutes away. Not sixty seconds later, the old electronic leash rang again- this time, a bit more urgent was the call.

"Mom, I've kind of been involved in a fender bender."

Oh my.

She gave me the directions and I got there just as the police officer had arrived. There was Lily's car at the curb, a big Mercedes behind it. Oh no! I looked it over and didn't see a scratch on it, I thought this is good- no damage to speak of. But then a little wiry man said, "No, that's not my car, it's over across the street."
So- off our little parade of people went, the police officer, Lily, me and the man. There at the opposite curb set a Toyota Celica, circa 1988. It was pristine, white and seemingly unhurt too. Then this wiry chap began to he loved this car, took very good care of it, and it may not seem like much but he'd worked hard to maintain it's integrity. Oh great, I thought- just what we need! A man and his car and bumper bruises on his sweety.
Well, we worked it out somehow that both of the drivers were at fault, Lily a bit more ahead in the running. The man kept chattering away, I could tell Lily was having a hard time asserting her position. Finally, she said-"Yes, I didn't see your car come around the big brush truck that you passed, you could have slowed down a bit." The mouse roared. Believe it or not, I kept my mouth shut. The policeman was a kind, gentle man. He suggested as minimal as the damage was, perhaps we could all work it out. The old man agreed. But would I really pay?
"Yes, of course." I said.
"I know an old oriental guy over on Cook street, maybe you know him? He's really good, shouldn't be too expensive. Can you meet me in an hour?"
Well, I didn't know this guy from Adam, he was a bit odd and perhaps a bit overbearing- so I said "here's my cell number, just call me and we'll see what can be arranged."
Lily went back to school, (she was on her lunch break- she's finished her senior year in Springfield so she could graduate early)I went on with my shopping, more uneasy now with this new twist to my day.
The first phone call was weird. No estimate yet. The second phone call was more of the same and I thought, "We're going to get screwed."
The third phone call didn't make much sense at all, with the exception of lawyers mentioned, and would I truly follow through.
Geez...give me a break. Here we go again- attorneys, snakes-vampires with a blood lust for money.
The fourth and final phone call came while I was in Barnes and Noble Bookstore. I'm sure I groaned out loud. I felt my ire grow, and I was going to let this old chap know where to get off and just particularly how to get there...
"Hi Teresa, well- I just want to say you and your daughter are lovely people, I saw my friend, he buffed it right out. I told him how sweet and respectful your daughter was and how you both seemed like good people. Your daughter is a bit naive, Ma'am- but I think she learned a lesson today. No charge."
"Oh, well...I don't know what to say- that is good news. Do you think I should tell here there was a charge so I could at least get some work out of her?!" Ha, ha, sneer, sneer- I'm so witty and clever and feeling oh so stupid that I doubted the goodness of this man, so I made a joke.
His response-
"Well, Ma'am, I am only an average father, but I'd say you're better than that at parenting, but- it's up to you."
"Thank you sir, happy holidays to you, you're very kind."
"Good bye-"

I use to only see the good in people, and often I was voluntarily blind to their obvious character flaws. Then as I matured, grew wise- I began to suspect that everyone had a secret agenda. A bit more cynical in my observations. And now this. From everything I had observed, from every note of melodrama in this man's voice- I truly thought the worst. Every time my phone rang, I felt agitated. Boy oh boy- was I ever wrong. What a sweet man with odd tendencies- I read the cover completely wrong. Just goes to show you...good doesn't often shine as bright as annoyance, but sometimes- it is the silver lining after all.
Have a good one, take care-

Friday, December 5, 2008

drop cloths

Good morning. I have been away with the family- to Maine for Thanksgiving. Beautiful as always, not as cold as it is here and the lobster's were mighty fine. Every time I go, I am on a see food diet- which consists of seafood and chocolate. There are too many wonderful shops with far too many chocolate makers, like pushers- the smells coming from those shops seem to say, "Here kid, try this...go ahead it won't hurt you, there's more where this came from." I am hooked, a chocolate junkie- jonesin' for the Peruvian lady's urchins made with homemade caramel, dark chocolate and walnuts.
We arrived home to a mess, still- in the remodeling project going on here. Drop cloths cover all the furniture and plaster dust covers all the drop cloths...and the computer, and the cups and saucers, silverware...everything!!! And there's this little annoying varmint named Etta who seemingly loves chaos, her puppy printed plaster dusted paw marks are everywhere.
To top it all off, I hurt my shoulder. I have been winged by bustling through airports with luggage swung over my shoulder, to many close calls of getting to the proper gate on time, and someone pulling on one of my bags attached to my shoulder, and bam...out of the socket the shoulder is meant to be snugly fixed into. Nothing major, but just enough to be a lefty for a few days. And this typing isn't working out for me either, so...I'll end and perhaps in a few days I'll be back with some adventurous tale. Like the lady I met on the plane from Maine...kindred spirits I think. Anyway- have a good one, be well.
Take care-

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

the rooster is crooning

Good morning. Winter is here. Summer has gone. Spring is not in the air though it's still around- sleeping in the garlic bulbs planted in late October, in the tulip bed where the flowers wait. Fall is left to lay on the frosty ground, the leaves blanketing the lawn like a decaying quilt. The pines to the east stand as sentries to the winter blasts sure to come, and in their branches heavily laden with green needles are nests the staunchest of birds have built for their winter homes. Everything is quietly peaceful this A.M, even the rooster is crooning instead of crowing. The crescent moon barely visible as the sun makes it's warm way into the graces of the sky, and-

" doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."

-- written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s
from Desiderata

(I love that verse, hope you find a bit of solace in it too.)
Take care-

Sunday, November 23, 2008

thanks giving

(This is the post I intended to publish on Thanksgiving, but I was fearful...I don't know why. It is a beautiful post and intended to bless some close to me and some not so close...belated Thanksgiving wishes, especially to you J.)

Good morning. Winter is here. Summer has gone. Spring is not in the air though it's still around, sleeping in the garlic bulbs planted in late October, in the tulip bed where the flowers wait. Fall is left to lay on the frosty ground, the leaves blanketing the lawn like a decaying quilt. The pines to the east stand as sentries to the winter blasts sure to come, and in their branches heavily laden with green needles are nests the staunchest of birds have built for their winter homes. Everything is quietly peaceful this A.M, even the rooster is crooning instead of crowing. The crescent moon barely visible as the sun makes it's warm way into the graces of the sky.

This week will find many folks migrating back to a home or a gathering that just feels like home, with familiar faces and habitual foods like lumpy potatoes and dressing that's crispy on the outside and pudding like in the middle. Many look forward to these gatherings with the friends and family who hold blessings in their hearts for all at the table, and give them out like thick love. And then there are those, whom I do not understand at all- who keep those blessings like hostages, withholding the peace another might need to grow on.

If I had a big table, a reallllly gigantic place that all might come for food, spiritual and otherwise- and everyone who pulled up at that table needed some peace, some light to live by, I surely would dole it out like a big heaping slab of pumpkin pie with a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top- just because. No, not just because. Here's the best reason I know to hand out blessings-

So many are so deserving of love, of being told they're beautiful, of warm hugs and sure nods of understanding. But sometimes I think, in those circles of families and friends who hold keys to one another's hearts but never give them- is this ridiculous belief if too much love is given out, the giver might lose control or perhaps there is a fear that the receiver will grow to big, broad, more beautiful and leave the giver with nothing more than an empty bowl. There are too many children who are over six foot tall but are still left a child, at any age...because the ones who raised them withheld the blessings that every child needs to know.

What is it that you need to know? Do you long to hear the words I love you? Do you yearn to be held even when you feel so ugly inside because no one took the time to say, "You are beautiful"? Do you wish for once your circle of folks would look past your flaws, stop holding them against you and instead just accept and trust you as you are?
OK, you are beautiful. And though you're flawed (ain't we all!!!), your mistakes are forgiven. No one can change their yesterdays, only this day can you begin to begin again. As much as you may need forgiveness, you also must learn to forgive as well. For whatever reason, even when people hurt us- perhaps they're doing or have done the best they could do with the tools they had been given. Perhaps their blessings had been withheld from them too.

If you find yourself at a table where your beauty does not transcend your past to an other's eyes, perhaps it is time to join another circle. There are those who will accept your everything. And always, there is the one who created you to be you, unlike any other. You, upon your birth, were given a blessing- a life of unlimited possibilities. Be well with yourself today, do not fear the neglect of another. Don't hold fast to what others believe you to be...believe first in yourself. Take the time today to know that you are worthy of all that you wish for. Take a long hard look at yourself, see those eyes, that smile...appreciate all you've been through, and still somehow manage to laugh in spite of it all.

Don't let anyone tell you who you are- you know... you do. If you sometimes forget, look me up- I'll remind you, please know- I am merely a mirror, all that you see in me is merely a reflection of your goodness. I have found in many of my friends, this reflection. I often wondered what they saw in me...for so long a time, I could only percieve my flaws too. Little by little, we revealed to one another a truth that could not be denied- what we loved about one another was also what we loved about ourselves. So, if you have a good friend, someone you deeply love- look for that certain something that bonds you through thick and thin. Do you find a mutual admiration? My hope is you'll find that view at the table you find yourself at come Thanksgiving.

Take care-

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the usual doe

Good morning...I have been too busy with all this moving stuff and getting the house ready to sell. The handyman pushed up his schedule and is painting and such earlier than anticipated so I have been moving furniture and removing things from the wall, cleaning corners that haven't seen a broom in awhile. Oh! Miss Etta is always under foot, she got her little noggin shut in a closet door last night. Her hurt feelings were the worst injury she incurred, although she loves the new spots- she christens each one with a puddle. Fun, fun, fun.

I am not deer hunting this year, not time enough to get ready, I haven't shot my gun all year. My Dad has a beautiful piece of property in Pike County, more big deer than you can shake a stick at. He lives and loves it there. My brother and his family will go, my Uncle Bob too. Good Ol' Grandma, at such and such an age- still manages to be a part of it all. She has seen more carnage than all of us, has heard more dramatic deer tales than an early morning diner on opening day, and has lived this long to still just chuckle and say, "maybe next year." She always managed a "good for you", no matter how small the harvested deer was.

So, it is with a memory's tale that I write today. I have deer hunted since I was a teen. My brother's too. Dad was an operating engineer, winter's weren't hard, just a bit tough when it came to money for buying winter rations. We always had wild game in the freezer, and I had learned as a young girl- how to cook it. We all learned to hunt early on, and even before that- we tagged along, always included- sometimes sitting by silently while Dad took aim. One big man and six little hands would help to drag the deer up and over and through deep ravines to get it home. Carharts and blaze orange was our fashion statement. When I was sixteen or seventeen, I got to feeling too much like a girl and began to take only photos from my tree stand. But then, after my children were born- I began to hear the call of the wild and an empty freezer again, and so I went back to hunting. It was always hard, yes I often teared up when I killed a deer. To this day, I say a "thank you", in an Indian sort of way, for the blessing of the harvest. There is nothing like knowing that the food on the table was harvested honestly, reverently and gratefully.

Once I filled my limit within twenty minutes after sunrise on opening day. A Buck in rut came crashing through some underbrush hot on the heels of a beautiful doe who was having no part of his Buck-love pursuit, he was crazy for her though and made no cautious attempt at hiding it. Twelve points and full of lust, I dropped him and shortly there after, her too. I sat in my stand another twenty minutes or so to make sure that I had cleanly killed them both, leaving them alone for a time to settle down and pass on silently. I found him right where my shell found him, fifty yards up a hill and on the edge of a ravine. I tagged him and marveled at his beauty and size. I remember following the trees and land line that I had followed previously with my eyes from my tree top stand, and found the doe peacefully lying in a Golden Rod bed not forty yards from where the buck laid down. I leaned over to tag her hind leg, no problem- on went the tag. Then I followed up her body, while hovering over her like a wrestler getting ready to make my next move, when...she jumped up and off she ran! I stood there incredulous, all I remember thinking is "how do I explain this to Dad?!" I sat down and waited for her to lay down and die, listening for thrashing and then silence. I never heard it from my listening post. I knew better than to run after her, even close to death a deer will run and run and run some more, and just when you think that every drop of breath left holding on in them had been utilized- they'll surprise you with their survival skills and go on running.

I did not know how I would explain this one back at camp, I had done everything by the book, left her to lay for a good long time, applied the legal notice to the leg where the tag should be adhered and she never even made a whisper.

I remember Dad looking at me like I was mad, and he was even madder because I had not suffered enough, the Deer Hunt. No one fills their limit on opening day, you must sit and wait and freeze and love every minute of it. That's the rule. I explained to Dad that the buck was bigger than I had shot the previous year (rule number 2) and the doe would not leave the vicinity and she was also a bigger than the usual doe. He thought I was lying when I said that I had in fact tagged her, stroked her- made my thanksgiving for her while straddling her still body.

Long story shortened. We found her, following a tiny pin hole blood trail about 150 yards from where she had first begun her last sprint. She was peaceful, she was mine- the tag on the hind leg saying so. It's a good story, a true story...but I imagine they'll tell it this weekend and laugh. They always do. "Imagine if someone would have found that doe miles away, with another hunter's tag!" Dad always questioned my nationality after that escapade, perhaps wondering if they received the wrong baby at the hospital after all.

Happy hunting, take care-

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bigfoot in your basement

Good morning. I slept all night without one little howl from the gal in her pen. Maybe Lily slipped miss Etta a doggy downer or ran amok with her until she lay down, exhausted with her little puppy heart beating a mile a minute- Etta's... not Lil's.

I was not home last evening...I went out. Gasp. Yes, I did. I stayed up until 10:00 pm. I listened to some fine finger strumming and vocals from various locals at the BluCat...a cafe by day, but on Thursday is the place to be a grown up grooving to the tunes laid out by talented song writers and singers and musicians. Oh and I had pie, after the peanut butter soup and grilled jalapeno and cheese sandwich- on rye. Let me just say that I envy those performers, I don't know how they get up there and sing to their and my heart's content. I want to. By golly- I do fantasize about grabbing the mic and laying one on them, a somebody-done-somebody-wrong-song, laying my soul and heart bare. Watching for the nod from the tall bushy haired fellow in booth number nine. He'd nod and I'd nod back and we'd know the flow where music takes all comers who are open to it's lull of sweet, sorrowful, satirical pulsations.

I admire the courageous performer too, I want to pick them apart little by little, find out what makes them deliver- how they find that brave part of their soul that sings- even when everyone is watching and listening. I think it was Tommy who said, or perhaps he was repeating a quote from another fellow musician, "You just can't think about it too much, it's like running down a slide- you don't stop mid way and think about what you're doing- you just keep going." Sounds right. Sounds good. But if you're running down a slide and stop- the worst thing that could happen is you'd fall and break your noggin. When singing, if you stop and think about it- you fall from grace, well maybe not to everyone else- there may just be uncomfortable silence, maybe belly noises...but the songstress would lose her hold on the world around her and how could she lift up again, fly away with the music? Danged if I know, I don't sing anymore...makes me feel so vulnerable. Bottom line, is there any worse feeling in the world than vulnerability? Being so truthful with yourself and others by saying just what you feel, that you invite a slap, a snarl- maybe an embrace? Putting yourself on the line, everything out there- not to be judged but to be just you, honestly and authentically. That's scary folks, scarier than running into Bigfoot in your basement.

Anything you're dying to try but fear holds you back? Is there some kind of secret dream you hold in your heart, afraid to share it with anyone, even your closest chum- for fear that they just wouldn't understand or worse, wouldn't encourage you to succeed? Don't we all have these dreams, these fantasies to be something more than we dare to be? Let's take a day, say January something- and be daring. We'll call it "Dream Dare". It will be a state holiday and everyone will embrace their gifts and be what they were called to be. Everyone, so no one would feel vulnerable, left out.'s an inspired thought- how about right here, right now on this page I'll tell you a story. Oh, wait a minute! I already do. Unwavering wonder laid out, day by day, brick by brick- because if I do, you might too. I say looky here! Look at this idiotic thing I've done, or here my heart breaks or here my heart soars...when relaying these tales of woe and wonder, don't you feel something other than your own fears, can't you see how we all mesh in one way or the other? That the secrets aren't really secrets, they're just stories aching to be told and held and loved?? Even if they're ugly stories, chances are someone else will read them, know them and see the beauty there and connect with their own dotted morse code of events that has messages they too might deliver some day to another vulnerable soul.

Pardon me. My writing little bits sometimes becomes gigantic essays unshackled by grammar and correct punctuation- as I race around, unbridled... and say too much when the point I was trying to make is this- Be true to yourself and kind to others- it's alright, it's enough and it's really all any of us can be...our vulnerable, weak, strong, gentle, loud, obnoxious, scary, off-key, lovely selves. Amen.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

to all who build bridges

I awakened last night, in the wee early morning really...too many thoughts in my head buzzing around. Veteran's Day always finds me melancholy, it finds me wherever I roam and sits me down and says "be sad". I try to shake it off, I try to run- here and there, anywhere so that it won't find me.

It always does.

"It" brings a story back to my mind that I don't care to hear. But often, grief is it's own teacher- and if you don't get the lesson, she'll repeat it over and over...until you do. My eldest son, Beau- many of you know the story there. His life trumped his we not all agree on that point? But part of his life, his very proud service in the Marine Corps was discounted by the way he died. I want so much for others to know how proud he was of serving, of rising in the ranks, of finding a self respect earned and often delivered so that others might be encouraged by his story. But on Veteran's Day, he is left somewhat in limbo because he didn't actually die in Iraq, although long he served there. His was an "accidental" tragedy, a bleep on the radar screen of military mishaps. His honorable service did not equate to an honorable death. Please excuse my next expression- Bullshit.

This day finds me gathering little bits and pieces of what little I know to be his story "over there"- I had urged him to run like hell when they asked for volunteers,("Beau, keep your head down, your hand down- you don't always have to be Mr. Macho. If they ask for volunteers, be the second if need be, please don't extend your pride to be the first.") Later I learned from his commanding officer "over there"- when a volunteer was needed, when there were no other takers, he would look to Beau because he knew the other guys would follow him- anywhere. When this story was related to me at the glorious memorial service there in North Carolina- well, let me just say I was proud in spite of my son's direct opposition to my request.
He had a little guitar "over there" that he had shipped to him when he realized that he really needed to play the stuff that made him forget about his surroundings- death and sights that he would not disclose to his mama. He'd wander out into the desert, guitar and little stethoscope in hand and play the hell out of that thing. When fellow brothers had no letters, he'd share his mail or make us all send letters to certain others who had no news from home. If someone did receive mail and it was of the "Dear John" variety- he'd whip out that little guitar and make them laugh in between their tears with some witty worded lyric about the cold hearted women who left them holding a letter of regret. All this I learned later, and was left with feeling more pride for such a remarkable young man that I didn't fully know from "over there".

After work yesterday (I stayed longer than needed...) I made my way to the little cemetery that I hate to go to. But on Veteran's Day...well, I owed it to him. Traveling there always makes me uncomfortable because I cry- like a baby. And when I leave, I always take the back road- fearful of someone seeing my five year old tears. When I came upon the black stone there (Oh God, I hate that stone.) I saw a flag, a new flag placed upon the marker. It waved to me and said things I needed to hear. I looked all around and there were other flags- here and there on stones I had not taken much notice of before. Someone or some group took the time on that cold dreary day to decorate the soldier's graves. To them I say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, from my melancholy soul- thank you, thank you, thank you.

The sunshine comes again. It always does. But never can it come from some lonely, desolate place- like an empty room with only one survivor. I am convinced it must be accompanied by others- brought to life by others. "Like a bridge over troubled water"- once again someone built a bridge for me to cross. Blessings and peace to all who build bridges, who raise flags, who remember.

Take care-

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Gift Given Freely

In thanks I write today. For a life of freedom, for a cost paid by our veterans. Many in the military today wonder if the folks back home support them. They wonder if they'll ever see that home again, and if they do- will they feel welcome, will they be honored as they should be or will they be shunned for being a soldier. Many have loved and lost our military men and women to a higher purpose. How can we ever repay that sacrifice, what can we do as individuals to show our utmost thanks and respect? By not only remembering to say thanks today...but every day. By acknowledging their life and efforts were not in vain. To always remember when encountering a vet, past and humbling ourselves and offering a hug or handshake and a very firm, "THANK YOU!"
I have encountered such men and women before, at a gas station, in a restaurant-their hats tell a story, their license plates sometimes state their occupation or past military service. I always try to reach out to them...and always, every time- am met with tears of appreciation. It does not seem like an obligation, to open up this way-it is a tremendous opportunity to acknowledge the gift given freely so that I may freely live.

What is a vet?

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's ally forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can't tell a vet just by looking.
What is a vet?
He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.
He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the38th parallel.
She or he is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back another or didn't come back AT ALL.
He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat, but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other's backs.
He is the parade riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.
He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb of the Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket-palsied now and aggravatingly slows who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being, a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

By Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC

Friday, November 7, 2008

And they call it....

What is it about puppies that makes us all surrender our eight hours of sleep, our love for a clean and sanitized home, our up in the middle of the night sleep walking forays out into the front yard - waiting upon a pup to pee to eventually discover that she'll only go on the wood floor once returned to the safe haven of a warm house?

Why would anyone sacrifice comfort for conformity when it comes to a little ball of excessive cuteness that cannot nor do I suspect give a doggy doo for adherence to proper schedules?


(formally known as Stubbette)

And besides that blissful pose, there's this-

Stubby and Stubbette

Isn't the answer obvious?!

Puppy love.

Take care-

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wherever We Are From

A Brighter Son

Hope became the sounding call
so many found as needed
and took a stand though not alone
as a passionate call proceeded
To this day- comes a brighter son
for many had ceased to cope
The pliable man before us now
shares a vision of rise and hope
His skin and kin don't matter
his voice aligns with one
You and I must come together
Wherever we are from
A bridge builder, this architect-
a man for young and aged
What one could say, good or bad
join the many now elated.
The work laid bare for all to see
though many trunks may pout-
Must get behind the "yes we can"
And move beyond that shout
If we think we can- you can
If you think you can't- we won't
This precious day in history
Unites us all at once.
The years to come will show in time
whether we were wrong or wise
though history might true declare-
that hope steadfast, did rise.
T.L Starks 11/05/08

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Illinois Fall Lament

Good morning.

I took a drive Sunday- wanting to test my trusty truck and camera to lament with me on an Illinois Fall day. It was as intense a drive as the colors were. Intending to drive the Illinois River back roads- I instead drove within a frame work of roads I hadn't taken before that still might connect me eventually, to the loose navigation I had used on past road trips.

In comparison, the Mississippi is a mighty river alright- many times I have crossed over her on meandering canoe trips and catfishing. The Illinois river is equally mighty, perhaps though- not so much in terms of length and width. Her might is more intimate- her byroads and crossings not so triumphant but equally memorable. All the little towns along the banks or way- like Havanna, Petersburg, Salisbury have doors that might remain mostly unlocked. The art on the walls of the homes that are scattered in those villages might be more folksy, reminiscent of homegrown and homemade. If the Illinois River were a lover, perhaps she'd be a bit more shy and shallow to the bigger river ways of romance.

A small grove of trees seemingly ablaze in gold- along the backside of the Sangamon River, East of Salisbury.

Stubby- guide dog extraordinaire. The Sangamon calling to him...some deep doggy tune apparently.

The Trading Post-Oakford Illinois. If ya haven't been...ya got ta go. I take all my out of state visitors here...once. And then it's completely up to them if we go again. We always do.


Only in Oakford.

Old Coke sign on The Trading Post.

Another common sight in good Ol' Illinois. Silo, Oakford.

Setting sun outside of Greenview Illinois. Good old truck.

Combine behind me, finishing up the day's work.

Day is done.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bloody Eyeballs Poopy Diapers

Oh my goodness, I almost forgot.....


Ghoul girls from the BluCat Cafe

Williamsville, Illinois

No pigs were intentionally hurt during this dramatization...

(Title of blog from my kid's memory of realllly scary songs.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

empty chairs

I watched a beautiful film a few nights ago...Broken Wings- by Nir Bergman. This is a little different, isn't it? I don't believe I've ever written a film review, but this one deserves a head's up.

It is a story about a family, an Israeli family- who, because of a tragedy lead a life of despair. All struggling, all doing their level best, all disconnected. The mother works and works and works some more, but to no avail. Her children feel deserted by her, her oldest daughter carries the weight of a mother, the eldest son loses his grip on reality, the youngest child- another daughter, cannot grow. And the youngest son is so angry- that he completely closes off. There are very few other characters focused on during the film, which seemingly represents a ghost like state even more so for this family. In and out of the day they go...further and further away from one another and life itself. "If it weren't for bad luck, they'd have no luck at all..." But an amazing thing happens. It has to do with a pool, a dive and... no water.

If this film does not fill you up with empathy, with hope for this family- well...check your pulse buddy. It doesn't have a "happy" ending, but truly...are there any endings in life that are happy? I won't spoil it, the ending...I'll just say it is a testament to bonds that cannot ever be broken.

Watch the film, but I'll warn is subtitled. Now don't be a enriched by this film. I give it five stars. For truth, for reality, for virtue- for making me feel comforted, in a way- by the love undeniably left flickering in the pitch black cave of their grief. (That word alone turns most people off, but...there is a lesson in this film that many of us miss- even a life with tiny bathrooms and night shifts and empty chairs- is still precious.)

Should you take my recommendation, let me know what you think. Take care-

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Young Pioneers

Speaking of the future in past posts, I thought it a good time to speak of my favorite future pioneers-my children and some of their accomplices. Now make sure you caught that last word- not accomplishments, but accomplices. Never will you hear me speak of my children as in perfection. After all...poor kids- look who their role model is.

First we have Emma, I haven't shed much light on that major source of light in my life. She no longer lives at home and isn't all that impressed by me exposing her personal history. But, I'm just going to take a shot here, knock down her walls a bit by writing about her. My eldest daughter is boisterous, loving, laughing, livid, lovely and crazy. Matter of fact- she herself says she has a "black belt in crazy." She is the kind of person that would bring life into a room , everyone present would be wondering if there had been a power surge- the room would remain lit up, even after her exit. It is hard to write about this dear, she is constantly evolving...hard to describe. Emma is a rush. Never a trickle but a full cascade. Bigger than life, this one. Imagine her journeys...

And now, drum roll please...Mathew. My son, my big, big boy. He wandered in today to show me his two new lip piercings. AAAARRRRGGGGHHH! And yet...whatever. It's your face what you want. My only negative comment was-"Are you sure that is employable?!" But...he also looked pretty trendy in a hip sort of way. He thought so too, and felt pretty cute about the whole thing. He is one smart cookie, too smart sometimes...and this lands him into deep conflicts with himself. He questions everything...I admire this trait and abhor it all at the same time. (Although, he may just be a chip off the old block.) Another comedian's hard to stay mad at Mathew, he'll say something funny and I just have to leave the peels of laughter (some times while pulling my hair out...)Mathew is a big ship in a little stream. He hasn't quite yet learned the tricky navigation to get down stream and out into the ocean...but there is no doubt in my mind, he will.

And then there's Lily- the artist, the activist, the hula hooping mediator. Lily is the last one at home...the youngest of four and finally getting her say. She speaks more so in hushed tones, drawing out statements from long thought out perspectives. She is reserved, but never shy- many make this mistake about her. Sometimes our conversations go like this," Ma- have you ever considered the deep cosmos and how they are ever changing but in a sense, due to the time extensions of the universe- slow and seemingly unchanging compared to the vast waves of change here on earth?" Me-"HUH?!" Talk about contemplating...she often has to explain her big sentences (as in broader views) in smaller words for her dear "Ma" as she calls me. We never have arguments, we have discussions. And she usually goes so far over my head that I then- rebel. "Oh yeah?! Well, um....your room is a mess, Missy. Go clean it." Trump baby, trump. Oh yeah-

My adopted boy, Eric- oh what a fine man. I took this boy to heart several years ago-never was I given a choice. My eldest son, Beau- would come home with little Eric tagging along. "Mom, he will always be here for supper on Sunday and part of this family, understand?" An ultimatum rarely given by my son- so of course I did understand. It meant that Beau had adopted Eric as a brother and we would respect and love him too. We do. Even after the Marine gig, the tours, always the visits home would include Beau first gathering up Eric and walking through the door, often together. And now, our Eric joins us always in light and dark and we love him and expect him to soar, as he "makes his dreams come true...and he decides the rest." (Besides, he's got Katie by his side...what more could a man want?! Kater-tot, a good woman and teacher too. Hint, hint....good woman, hard to come by mister.)

Now Beka is the last of the adoptees, well maybe not the last...but we took her to our heart often enough to be filled by her grace. Now, we overflow and can't keep it all to ourselves- yes sirreee, she taught us well. Oh, and soon- she'll be the teacher you hope your children get- the one that will remain in their hearts, even when their 90. Beka doesn't leave impressions so much as she leaves love every where...she's lovely and loving and kinder than most. But...I've seen her riled, oooohhh, don't get her ire up. When folks such as Beka, true through and through- get a little bent out of shape by the misdeeds of another who is not so true, just mean- well, it's kind of like a lightening storm, the strike is a humbling lesson. Yes, a teacher with integrity and a lofty spirit.

Kylee, always in my heart a daughter- her first child will be my grandchild- regardless. And her groom, a son in law- a friend and loving man. We could not have hoped for a better union of love...Matt was heaven sent.

Oh, and Miss Rhi- there is blood between us and love all around. I've known her since she was born- blond and blue eyed and ornery and sweet all at the same time. I don't get to spend as much time with her now that she's older and working and always busy. But when I do- she's like a little grasshopper, showing me constantly how she's grown, teaching me things I could not learn had it not been for her perspective and liveliness midst a family from the dark ages-Ha! I'm the black sheep of the family, only I don't deny it- the rest of the brood are all gathered like sheep and living in the year 1900. "Women are meant to breed, be quiet, wait on the menfolk...." AAARRRGGHHH- Can you imagine? My family thinks I am preposterous, "Who does that woman think she is?" Rhi always seemed to think there might be more to me....thought my company was beautiful. Although, we know we're loved- it's just like picking that love out of an English Walnut...having to reallllly work hard at it. One must have realllly thick skin and accept that Neanderthals are alive and well in our own family tree.

So- the young pioneers in my life are all so very fascinating, their interests lie in things that matter... love, kindness and a family that wasn't necessarily raised under the same roof, but feels like family all the same. In my teens, I was the tomboy girl who said I'd never have children. By the time I was 30, I had had my four beautiful babies. And I always wanted more...and I got them- love always creates. When I die, let them judge me by my company of friends...and family.

Be well and take care- oh! And remember- Children are the future, can we all agree to make it a brighter one for them? In all my life, always- it was a child who offered me the brightest potential, problems and joy. The memories I keep are the ones a child created with their sense of wonder and fairness.

Monday, October 27, 2008

in the bigger country

BRRRRRRR morning to everyone.

Central Illinois is a bit nippy this morning as here I sit with a cardigan and long underwear on. These last October days find me chilling, in more ways than one. I spent all of Sunday outdoors, I cleaned out sheds and hauled off garbage-burnt some papers in the burn barrel and caught a straw bale on fire...could have been those whipping winds. Thank goodness I was out there in time to dismantle the bale and put it out...or I wouldn't be having a farm sale, I'd be dealing with insurance adjusters. Oh my, not that!

Today, I am off from my "town" job...and with the outdoor work done, I have to attend to the indoor work. I loathe house keeping, I so look forward to the day when I have less house and more land. More utility and less utility bills- employing solar panels and wind energy- that's the plan I'm working on. Those steps taken for a bright future will cost me much in the beginning, I know- but in time those kind of changes should pay for themselves. So- from the ground up, in my new digs eventually- I will truly live the sustainable life I've always dreamed of.

My moving to Maine doesn't surprise many of the friends who know me by heart. Many have said they've always pictured me in the backwoods some day, chopping wood, whistling and happily working and wandering around in the bigger country. Flipping a kayak into the bed of the pickup, driving a few miles and flopping it out onto a lake. My kids and I will be visiting Maine soon again, as a family. I can't forecast fully what their reaction will be until we get there. At first, they'll be overcome by the beauty of it- the many trees and miles and miles of wilderness and water, but then I suspect, they'll wonder-Where's the movie theatre? Or the Pizza Hut? No McDonalds for fifty miles?!!! Ahhh, yes- I'll say, "This is heaven McDonalds!" Then their openness to it all will slam shut like a door in the face of a religion salesman. So- I guess their picture of themselves in Maine will take some processing on their parts. The fast food thing might put a hitch in the focus for them.

Back to these last October days...the last of their kind for me, I reasoned yesterday. With that thought in mind, I wandered around even more intensely than usual. The sounds of the wind through my old trees, the barren golden fields of soybeans harvested. The long off views of deer crossing from hedge row to small woods sanctuary. The sunrises, the sunsets- those views will all be different for me this time next year. I vow to kayak often, the lake's length and breadth seem akin to my fields- the sun's last rays will be infinite over the water's rippling into bigger ripples all by a tip of my paddle into their liquid light. Not a bad trade off in my mind, though still- I know, I'll be comparing apples to oranges this time next year. Every day finds me making these comparisons, these opposites too. Preparing for change- like the seasons of one's life, ever bearing great circles. Be well, take care-

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

that first line

Good morning.

Here's a quote that ended up in my inbox this morning...and it settled itself right here on this blog, because it is apt as it leads right into what I have been struggling to bring to light here.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. --Nelson Mandela

Saturday night, here at Beauregards farm- we had a gathering, a wiener roast, a barn dance and a kind of opening farewell to our friends and family. The bonus of the evening was when friend Jill and Opie brought out their guitars and played. We had a hootenanny by golly- and it felt so good. Around the fire were democrats and republicans, Lutherans and spiritualists. Young and old and a few mixed breeds- dogs and cats included. Although to my eyes, I saw a gathering of people and beasts very much alike. We all put our pants on the same way- we all sat under that beautiful sky, I suppose some saw it as dark, others- star lit. But what truly mattered, the key to the whole gathering- we were free to be you and me. To think as we thought, to sing off key or harmonize with one another. The freedom we all allowed ourselves that evening is a freedom some defend, some take for granted and some disallow others to feel. When you get right down to it- freedom is more an expression than a stance. For every one of us who believes that black is black and white is white- that the republicans are better than the democrats or vice versa- that is our right to express. But to become unglued or desperately biased against another who does not see things the way we do- well, that's just wrong. I don't like the division, it takes away something in the equation.

How can you yourself be free if you do not allow another to express their own mind and opinion?

How can you feel so right that other's must be wrong?

Freedom is a choice we make every day- but there is nothing free about hating or dismantling someone else's right to be as free as you. We don't necessarily have a black man running against a white man- we have a presidential choice based on qualities of leadership and intellect. Children seek validation, grown-ups seek information and then reason with the facts they gather.

I do not wish to persuade anyone to vote one way or the other. Freedom allows me to think for myself, to act upon those thoughts and declare, "May the best man win." We as Americans will decide once and for all...who that man will be. We are still united, even if my guy or your guy gets in. We only become divided when we forsake the freedom of the other because we disagree with a donkey or an elephant. I think we can all agree that this country is in bad shape- I hope after the smoke clears, we might look at the Constitution and hold that first line in our heart-"We the people..."

That document was written by some pretty sharp men... they understood that they were to represent the masses- the common man. Those folks there at the big house have forgotten not only who they represent- but what they represent. I hope as a united nation, as Americans- we, as a beginning step- bring about some clarity. It is not you and I who have run this country down- although we do an awful good job sometimes at running each other down- that has just got to stop. The culprits in high places need a wake up is our congressman, Senators, representatives that we should reckon with, not each other. Their high spending ways to bail out a system that they themselves decided upon- by the sweat of our our brows- and the deceit of our votes. They have betrayed our trust, our future- yeah, my neighbor gets on my nerves sometimes. But he or she does not help her self to my hard earned dollars- (Although my ex sure had a time with my savings....) I don't know how that man sleeps at night, I don't know how the donkeys or elephants do either. Isn't it time we stopped defending the parties and started defending our neighbors, ourselves? Stand up for each other and stare down the mega hucksters?
Just some thoughts on freedom...and free wheeling ways of our leaders. Gosh- don't you think it's time to talk in terms of justice and liberty for all? The essence of the Constitution as a whole - The Constitution is based on the assent of the governed. When did the smoke become so thick that our political representatives dropped the "n" from assent, causing them to become only interested in the asset(s) of the governed? We, the governed do not agree- seemingly with all the roar I've been hearing- with the governors of our time. But instead of taking it to the top- our disagreements- we take it to each other. Truly- what does that change?

No more talk about all of this from me...I agree with you, or I disagree with you, either way- I'll try to respect your opinion and find some common ground. Up above, I hope I did. Take care-

Monday, October 13, 2008

A little quaint

Reggie's Way Restaurant-Back woods Maine
(Their philosophy-Why not?!)

Black Magic Johnson- Always, a happy little song.

Terra Brockman- Crusader for common good, The Land Connection
Nicolas Vergeon- Paris France Agricultural Engineer-intern, student and teacher
Lubec, Maine

A little quaint drinking village with a fishing problem.

Most easterly point in the USA-Happy Hot Dog Philosophers

My Big Fish-A keeper.

Blake man...Wise beyond his little years

He says "all anybody needs is love." He's quite right.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens

can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

If I do

Good morning once again...yep, we received another day. So many times...we forget what a gift that is.

Running around, rampant- worried about the world at large, but when it comes right down to it, I think people are hunkering down right now and looking out for number one. And that is important- to take care of ourselves first, make sure the family is secure, hopeful that we can take care of our group's basic needs. Oh sure, the government has got us in a bind, although much of it comes from our society standing by, silent- too silent some times when we should have been raising hell. Yes, we are all so very busy- so who has the time to step up and say, "Whoa! This is not right, not ethical. We will withhold our tax dollars...." Which, of course we cannot do- unless we want to do a stretch or pay massive fines. Seems some times, we just can't win- so we hunker down some more. Go with the flow. Buy what is sold and perhaps pray...Well, if you read this blog somewhat regularly, you know my prayer- a fine simple request. "Father thank you, increase my faith." In sunshine and rain, I say that prayer. It holds me accountable, I am strengthened, I am grateful, I am then fortified and must proceed with renewed faith. "To whom much is given, much is expected."

We, as Americans- to whom much is given, in spite of the long lines, traffic jams, high gas prices, food costs, educational woes, high taxes- some times forget just how truly good we have it. I suppose there is much to complain about, but there is so much more to be thankful for. Thank goodness we were born to be Americans, enriched on American soil, allowed by right of birth to agree or disagree. To voice our opinions in any way we see fit, as an individual or a group. We are entitled by that royal birth- to pursue happiness, or whatever it is we wish to pursue. Too many pursue what the hard work of others might bring them. They, the capable- posing as the incapable, prey upon our gifts, neglecting their own. We have become politically correct, bankrupt of our own common sense, indebted to those who have no intention of getting off our backs or the government roll. To them I say, enough is enough.

Politicians- you're breaking our blue collar backs, when we are emptied- who will supply your extravagant bonuses? Welfare recipients- if you are looking for a handout with two good strong hands held out, use those for something else other than picking my pockets. Newspapers- tell me some good news, or you'll become nothing more than compost fodder, I'm tired of your bad words.

The fear that is being shoveled by heaps and heaps upon our hearts, by the media, the music industry, Hollywood, our elected officials, and yes- even the green mongers- is bankable, but I see no interest bearing in my accounts. So CE Os, Administrators, Governors, State Officials,Presidential Shovelers- think about what your actions are saying. To me they say- Strike fear in the hearts of men and women, they will become indebted to us for the bail out that only big brother can provide.
Folks- isn't it time we saw through all that, truly see that the only thing Big Brother is doing is beating us down, further and further into submission? Fearful people regress into fearful children- but we're not children anymore. We have far too much knowledge, experience, wisdom- to be coerced into thinking that we need a hand holding session, that we need an overseer watching our piggy banks- as if we can't be trusted to account for our own savings. I think the leaders of our time are banking on our fear, our silence, our political correctness. Isn't it time we take hold of ourselves and say, "Look. You've worked hard all your life- the dreams that you dare to dream are often centered in the nightmare created by those who do not dream- they scheme. Money is their god and mass hysteria their religion. I have little faith in their system, but much faith have I in my self, my children- my own common sense and the Being that created it all. It is time I employed it. I will not be blinded by the darkness, but governed by the light."

Hope is real, love is permanent- all else is a smoke screen. If you feel like it's time to speak- that you have something to say that might evoke a good difference, if you're absolutely fed up with the way this country is run...down, write a letter to the editor. Align with men and woman who serve a higher purpose- a common good for all. Who are these people? Here are but a few-

The reporter who inspires by bringing us news that is worthy, that motivates and encourages us by the stories they tell of real people who stood up and had to do the things they did or do to not only survive but thrive. The teachers who teach and reach our children as individuals, empowering in them a sense of higher grasps of educational opportunities so that they may rise above any objections of their past upbringing- squashing their sense of fear and revealing to them their utmost possibilities. The farmers who share a common goal- feeding their nation, their community, their neighbors- nourishing all. The soldiers who volunteer to serve their country, their fellow country men- who at the very expense of their own lives- are willing to sacrifice all so that we don't really have to sacrifice anything. Think about that.

I said volunteers.

These young and old, men and women who are not making millions, nor can they ever hope too when they put on that uniform- they serve a higher purpose. They put themselves on the line at any given time- so that we may continue on in our sometimes too whiny way. These people are but a few examples of folks who are trying to make a difference. But...the way this country is run...down - it is getting harder and harder every day, for these folks- and that may be you and I in that accounting- to make these differences if we are in constant doubt, holding on to correctness and fear.

If we but let go of that fear, that correctness- who knows what might happen. The world will come to an end? Yes, in a sense- I suppose it will, but isn't it time for world changing? I mean, the kind of world where we all live in fear...of....higher gas prices? Food costs? Dying dreams? Is that kind of fear worth holding onto? Look around. This place is looking up. Look beyond the gas station, the grocery store- the bank. Look at the face on page 74 in your local paper- the guy who jumped in the river to save a stranger. Go on the Internet and Google won't believe your own eyes when you see what every day people like you and I are doing to make a good difference in the world- although I hope you will believe your heart as it beats a mile a minute with new found joy in dismantling the fear that you knew a moment ago as it makes room for the hope that will surely fill it. Hope is more powerful than the greatest of doubts.

Any one who has been through any dark night will tell you that it was not the money they had in their pocket or even a religious life preserver that saw them through- it was the hope garnered by some kind of inspiration by another, who- by their own experience gave them the light of hope, to find their own way.
Friends- we all are worthy of hope, of dreams becoming reality. We do deserve better than dark days, smoke screens. But we must first believe that hope in a fearful world is possible. I see no possibilities for deep change in a fear based society, but oh my goodness! The possibilities are sky high for a hopeful one! What are your highest hopes? What do you intend to do about it? Will you have the energy after another long day of just getting by- to try and make a difference, if not in your own life- perhaps in the way of kindness to another- to change the course of this world? Will this little by little contemplation then action truly make a difference? I wished I could answer that for you... Only you know your truth.

What essential steps might you take this day, this moment- to truly change your outlook, there by changing your children's attitude too? The truth and only the truth will set us free. And it surely will do some hurt, but the harm will not be everlasting- it will be momentary. The leaders of today...the fear mongers, will lead you alright. How much further are you willing to go?

My truth is apparent to me...thank goodness. I lived far too long in fear, I doubted the whole world because I doubted my self. A what if became a what is- it cracked me open and stripped me bare. My judgement was off, I could not align with my self for the longest time. Doubts of ever surviving invaded my dreams, my past, present and future. I had no hope. None. I cannot say for sure what finally awakened me, what defining moment brought me a hopeful vision. I only know that inspiration did find me. A card, a kindness- a glimmer of hope given to me by others in my time of desperation. This is grace, others remembered their cup was running over...they shared that abundance with me. By their grace, their goodness- a difference was made, a good deep change grew in me. Little ol' me. And here's the point- I'm just like you. Only, for whatever reason- I, like many others- have been subjected to a dark night of the soul- I had the choice to awaken to hope or to continue to fearfully sleep in my nightmarish world. The choice I made is apparent. I am not strong, I am by far one of the weakest people I know...but every day I wake up to hope, I choose to live no other way. By this choosing, every day- I must walk the walk. I must be courageous, I must convey what it is I know to be an essential truth. Not because I'm afraid the world will fall apart if I don't- it is essential that I share what I know because the world will become better if I do.

You and I and everyone we know needs hope, like water, like air- it is essential. Take my stories and dismiss them, or take the hope and share it. It is completely up to you. What you think, what you feel- if you allow yourself that beautiful freedom- is important, is necessary for deep change.

Peace and harmony are essential to the balance of all things...and is possible. But only you, an individual can begin the hope, others will follow. Not out of desperation or fear- but out of love and gratitude. Imagine! What might that world look like? What does the world look like to you right now? Picture the world you want. Hope or fear?

What is your answer?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Keeping the circles

Oh my, what an evening!!! Sunday afternoons around here means food...front porch grinning and always, Bluegrass from 6:00 to 8:00 pm via the local public radio station 91.9. Folks come from near usually, sometimes far (Nicolas from Paris, France...)to participate in one of our Sunday evening suppers. The prerequisite, though- is we must listen to Bluegrass. Because it's my front porch. And I do the cooking. So...they smile and bear my over-bearingness when it comes to musical standards, hey! I'm just trying to inject some culture here...the young people are filled with food and fun and fabulous music. Otherwise they'd be stuck listening to that crap they listen too...OK, not all of it is crap- but some of it is pure, know what I mean. I have a sticker on the back door, "It's not that I'm old...your music really does suck." Now I know that is a crude, rude word- but I think it is used quite well in that statement.

Anyway- back to the porch shenanigans. Always, my favorite, most well loved people come... And last evening, Miss Aud showed up- see we have her hooked on hoopin', and then everybody, even the boys- try it. NO, I did not say hookin'- so get your head out of the gutter buddy...besides, hookin' here would just mean crocheting. We hoop and holler, following Lils lead...she got us hooked on hula hoops. You cannot frown or be miserable when hoopin'...the smile just naturally fixes itself upon your face, and never leaves the whole time the hoop travels around your waist. Lils is a first class hooper, she is just so natural at it. All summer long, she'd park her "Granny mobile" out by the hedge, just out of view from the front porch perch where I generally convene every evening-to the swing. I read and write and reminisce mostly, processing my deep thoughts...OK, my simple mind compositions. One day I found myself a little irate with her new satellite radio blasting just a bit too loud, disturbing my meditative state of oblivion...I slammed my pen down hard on the page I was trying to make come alive, darn kids! Suck-y to high heaven music....but what was that?!! I thought to myself- (as I had fully intended to throw my mama weight around)-what the heck is my neo-hippy child doing? She was hooping. Melodiously, meditatively, beautifully she was jiving under the great Maple out in the front yard. Wow. The sun was setting, the golden glow on that peaceful looking face...melted my heart, many months ago-that was when I first realized that Lils was seriously serendipitous about this hula hooping thing. She probably didn't realize, for many weeks- I'd slip out under the Cedar, tea in hand- and watch her. Her peace brought me peace. Her sunshine smile...made me smile too. And so- there you have it. Hooked on hoopin'. Lils has created a following...we now have weighted hoops. Trying to trim the old waist a bit. Keeping the circles fluid, flowing...until the hoops hits the ground- and then, you just simply laugh at yourself.

I don't suppose this could be done in your front yard. What would people say?! "Look at those fools, how uncivilized- ridiculous!!!" Oh yes...we are ridiculous, really...and it feels so good! Especially the whittle-ing away of my waist...a byproduct of hooping. Who knew- something so fun, bringing forth smiles, meditating, concentrating, focusing- making even crappy music sublimely tolerable- could produce a kind of nirvana...and weight loss! Yep, it's true. Hula hooping is not just for's for the hip, hilarious, and hysterical! What fun. Want to try?! Go on, just do it...if you think you can- you can! If you think you can't- you won't.

Work it!

(Should you decide, that yes- you too want to be riduculous! Here is an address for weighted hoops in the USA-

Take care-