Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

Tibi gratias agimus quod nihil fumas.

It says "...freedom of...", not "...freedom from...".

"It's amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness. People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we're compassionate we'll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint." - Penn Jillette







Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hot and...well, mostly hot.

Not long ago I was conversing with a friend about the oddly cool weather we've been having. Usually, it's already well into the nineties during the day, and even the evenings are too warm for open windows - we'd usually be running the A/C full tilt by now.

Until three nights ago, we've had windows open to keep the house cool, and the A/C won't kick on unless I set it down to seventy...which I don't like doing. It's been cooler outside than in!

Today, that is supposed to change - the forecast is calling for temperatures in the mid-nineties. Of course. Because today, we are inflicting dropping of The Evil Genius with a friend and the adults are going to the Ren Fest again, this time to actually see some of the shows and maybe shop. Don't get me wrong, the kid's play area at our Faire is amazing...but it's not why I go.

So on what is shaping up to be our hottest day of the year so far, we're going to go walk around a huge, open, not very shaded site...and to make matters even more interesting, I'm wearing blue-jeans, because I refuse to wear shorts in public. Really, you'd thank me

Maybe I'll melt off thirty pounds or so!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Ohhhmmmmmm......

Lately, there's a sort of echoing refrain in my head. I have been thinking about it, hearing it in various places, and even dreaming it off and on for most of this year. It's a recurring theme in my life, one of which I need reminding on occasion.

Let it go.

Let. It. Go.

Crappy things happen. Some of them are rather large hunks of feces, and take a while to compost down into roses. Some are so small as to be laughable.

I've known my share of big chunks of poo in human form. I've had my share of "formative events" to get the hell over or be medicated for (eh, I don't medicate, but could, if I wanted, have a veritable pharmacopoeia at my disposal...crazy has its uses). Once I cottoned on to the fact that some of my early crap-fests were contributing to my crazy, I also realized that I could choose how to respond to them, what sort of power or place I gave them in my life. Strong stuff, that.

Still, sometimes I need reminding that I can let it go. Holding on to anger, resentment, and fear only serves to make me angry, resentful, and afraid. Wow, deep, huh?

Let it go. So that guy just cut you off in traffic. So what? Let it go - what will your anger serve? Nothing, that's what. It'll just give you an ulcer. So someone was unpleasant in the store today, so what? I bet they're having a horrible day, and they're transferring that unhappiness to you - so don't pass it on or feed it. Let it go. Really.

I was peeved this morning - many technologies failed at one time, just when I was especially sleep deprived and prone to ire, and I vented that ire here in my blog, where it was safe. I tried very hard, and succeeded a little, not to let that spill over into my interactions with my family. I didn't yell, stomp, or slam anything and wake Bird, who was sleeping late because he needed to. I didn't call T names or blame him, and I tried not to snap at Mum when she was trying to be helpful with other things that needed doing. I did threaten Bob the Wonder Computer with a large, magnetized hammer at one point, but he has forgiven me. See? Even my laptop can let it go.

I feel a little better now that Mum and I have gone out and scrubbed the trailer down. It's not clean, per se, but it's cleaner, so that's an improvement. The physical activity helped me forget that my legs still hurt all the way up to my ears from that long hike my out-of-shape self took two days ago, and it was productive...and somewhere along the way, I let go of my ire of the morning.

If I can learn to let go, really, I can mitigate my back pain, my crazy issues, and my weight - because all of these are the result of holding on to the crappy things I endured as a child and into adulthood, until I found out I didn't have to...that I could walk away, I could let it go.

Holding on just gives "them" control, even when "they" are long gone. Do I/you/we really want to give others controlling influence after all? I don't think so...I think I need to let it go again, and stop giving the shadows of my past all my power.

Yep. Let it go...

Button, Button (Grrr...)

Long morning started too bloody early after late night me grumpy, grumpy, grumpy, stupid computers won't work (two desktop, four laptop) no online because modem snafu with service provider, argh!!!, have to reload online access program on two computers because one was cleared (modem issues and anger management issues collided) and the other suddenly decided to eat its own innards and become corrupt, freezing up in the middle of a blog post and sending me right over the edge, also freezing whole system so no programs would open, close, or do the chacha...pant...pant...modem slower than molasses climbing Kilimanjaro on a cold day but at least service is free until provider fixes their snafu that stared this whole bloody mess, and...

You're getting a button today because I'm irritated, tired, and now seriously pressed for time to get everything done that I had planned. I hope your day started and continues better than mine!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Elachee, Part Three

Notice Me!

The Carpet Needs Cleaning...

Texture in Three Parts



Shelter

If Tarzan Can Do It...

Elachee, Part Two

The Evil Genius and some random stranger, at the entrance to the Nature Center

The way out is the way in.

Not for Soup

Elachee, Part One

Today I am feeling the results of yesterday's excursion. Really, I'm hauling the equivalent of a one-hundred-plus pound backpack around with me in excess weight - haul that five miles up and down some surprisingly steep hills and see how you feel in the morning! Whew! Thanks to all that wandering, sweating, climbing, sweating, photographing, and did I mention sweating?, I am now half a pound lighter. Woo-freakin'-hoo!

The balls of my feet hurt. I don't know why. I will say that, while Crocs are probably not the best shoes to wear for such a day, my Crocs were quite comfortable and did nicely for the occasion. They may never be the same, but then...neither will my feet. I know, I know, I should be wearing hiking boots or at least sneakers, but I'm claustrophobic...and closed shoes make me nervous. I'd rather contend with dirty feet and the occasional risk of snakebite than spend the day feeling smothered because of my shoes.

My calfs calves the backs of my legs hurt, too! And, umm...my posterior.

All in all, though, I'm in fairly good nick, so I'm pleased. I was contemplating a gym trip today, but am thinking it'll be tomorrow.

We all slept well last night - I wonder why...

So I shot about two-hundred photos, and while they didn't all turn out, many did. I'll share a few here and post more later. I did learn that I want to keep the flash on, even if it makes the shot look really dark in the viewscreen. Luckily, I took a fair number of the shots both ways, so I didn't lose to many pictures to the dreaded blurs. I need a larger memory card (or three) if I want to keep doing that, though.


Oh, one last note before I load the first photos - around the last mile or so of our hike, we had a couple of Army helicopters fly over. Bird thought they were cool, if loud. I waved and called out "Peace, brothers!", even though I know they couldn't see or hear me. Eh, it's a habit I don't care to break. I had to resist the urge to hide, though. For some odd reason, ever since I was a kid I've wanted to duck and hide from helicopters. I feel like a mouse when there's a hawk overhead. I wonder why...


On with the show - in Part Two.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Worn Slap Out

We went to the Elachee Nature Center after my last post and spent almost five hours hiking over five miles of trails - up hills, down hills, over and through creeks and deadfalls - and whew, I'm worn slap out.

Along the way, The Evil Genius learned about truth versus tact (one doesn't tell a stranger s/he is fat, for example)(yes, yes he did), about why we always bring an extra grocery bag so we can pick up other people's trash (really, can anyone claim ignorance about the biodegradability of plastic any more?), why we always bring water and snacks along, even if the trail is short (the bag I brought in was significantly lighter when we walked out), and why we don't leave the trail for "short cuts". We also saw frogs, millipedes, beetles, and plant life galore. Photos tomorrow (if they turned out - I was shooting blind, half the time) and probably for months to come- I not only filled the camera's memory card, I filled the internal memory, too...and that was just past halfway along our trail. G'n...sknnnxxxxxxx.......

And People Wonder...

...why I wouldn't want to put my child into an institutionalized education system.

If the clip below won't work, go here to see/read what got my panties in a twist.




Not emotional abuse? If the child voted out of the class wasn't hurt by this, then how about the kids made to vote him out? At that age, kids are easily swayed by the adults in their lives - if they think they'll get into trouble unless they do as they're told, a child will do anything an adult asks. When they're older, they remember what they did, and it will absolutely do them harm.

Kids this age are easiest to abuse, because they are easy to convince that they must do as they're told and that if they tell, they will be the ones held at fault, the ones blamed and punished.

This teacher didn't just have the kids voting - she had them give reasons why they didn't like him, pointing out how he was different and indirectly driving home the point that different is wrong and should be excluded. When a child wanted to vote contrary to the teacher's idea of a correct outcome, she pressured him until he did what she wanted.

Let's raise a classroom full of cruel bullies, shall we?? Let's teach kids that they should be exclusionary of anyone who doesn't fit into "normal" or may be an inconvenience. Let's show them that there will be no consequences for being ugly, as long as the person bullied is "special needs", and lets drive the point home to the child in question by telling him he's not wanted anywhere else, either.

And this isn't abusive how??

I know that this isn't a reflection of all public schools. I know that a child with Autism or Asperger's can be more than a handful, and in a classroom full of other children needing time and attention, one special-needs child can wreak havoc. I know that this is an aberration, and that most folks would be horrified. A number of folks would even pull their own children from the class when they learned what their kids were forced to participate in. I don't care. That it can not only happen but be sanctioned as appropriate by the school system (their inaction, defense of the teacher, and claims that it wasn't abusive as much as say "Hey, we're fine with this") is horrifying.

Shame, shame, shame.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An Oddment

Quite probably an unfinished oddment, at that.
~~~~~
There is a place that does not exist, but still, it is a place. There is something there, some unnamable thing, a comfort of sorts, there in the place that is not a place.

There is a place that does not exist, but still, it is a place. Through storm and strife they come to it, through fire and fog, through fear, anguish, hatred, pain, they come; torn and tattered, bruised and battered, they come to the place that is not.

A place that does not exist, but still, is a place. They come, we come, to the stillness, the sweetness, the comfort, the place between a mother's arms where all is forgiven, all is well, all is safe, and together they-we huddle and keen out our unseen hurts, there in the place that is not a place.

A place, our place, that is not but is. Though not all who wander are lost, all who come to this place are both. Wanderers and lost. Lost souls, we-they.

You know we-they, and they-we know you. Deep, deep, beyond the surface of eyes glancing quickly away, you-we-they hear the bells ringing and we-they-you know the sound and know a kindred lost soul has found the place that is not, and yet is.

It is in the voice, the carriage of the head, a sigh meant to be unwitnessed, the unshed tear, the not-place, and they-you-we can smell it on the breath, hear it, feel it. Lucky few, who know the place as sanctuary, so lost without it would we-they-you be.

Welcome, kindred, welcome, to the place that is not. Blessed be.

Now That's Love

I was folding laundry yesterday when Bird wandered into my room and asked if he could have a cookie. As long as he's eaten a decent amount of healthy stuff, I don't tell him "no" for treats, because I don't want food to be a huge issue for him. He ate plenty of grapes, cheese, carrots, and other good stuff, so I was fine with a cookie snack.

There were two chocolate chip cookie left and I told Bird he could have them. He scampered off to the kitchen, but came back in a moment holding both cookies. When I asked him what he wanted, he held one out to me and said "I wanted to share with you." How sweet is that, when a kid offers to give you one of the last cookies??

Monday, May 26, 2008

Remembrance

Photo found here and copied entirely without permission but not without respect.

I don't know if anyone I knew and loved fell in battle, but many of my family have served their country in the various branches. My brother was in the Army, but thankfully got out when yet another gopher hole tried to eat his ankle. Don't ask. My Uncle was in the Air Force, even flying Air Force Two for a while. My Grandfather was in the Coast Guard during World War II. I have a cousin in the Air Force. I have a friend who was in the Army during the Vietnam War (conflict, my ass!) - I never once resented the calls at three-o'clock in the morning; nightmares shy away from friendly voices, from reason and reassurance. Another friend was in the Army until it broke his back - literally. He survived, but not his plans for a lifetime in the military - they don't want broken people, not matter how useful or clever they are.

For a history of this day, go here. Or here. Or here. In a nutshell, Memorial Day is for remembering the fallen. Veteran's Day is for honoring the living. That's why they get two days, and so they should. Men and women stand up and make targets of themselves to maintain our freedoms every day of the year, so the least we can do is take two days to tell them "Thanks. Thanks for acting against human nature and protecting me and mine. Thanks for losing an arm, a leg, a life so that I don't have to."

It's not about the politics. I'm non-violent. I don't think war is ever a reasonable response to conflict. I won't forget, though, that people have laid down their lives so that I may stand on a street corner protesting (I never would) them, or denigrating (never, ever!) them for their service.

Perhaps one day, we won't have any new graves to decorate. Until then, I remember and (as best I can) I honor.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Brolly

Here is an old photograph of the now lost umbrella. Please ignore the madwoman beneath it - she is clearly in need of medicating and possibly a soft, quiet place to rest for a bit. She smiled at the camera only because she thought it was a teeth-whitening device, otherwise she never would have removed the paper bag. Really, just look at that hair - you'd think she'd been camping for almost a week with only a cold-water shower for washing in! She is squinting because she doesn't go out into the daylight much, and it confused her. She was wearing more than her usual jewellry, too, in an effort to distract passersby from her unfortunate extra chin, squint, and truly unbelievable hair errors.

Her enormous forehead is available for billboards, posters, or neon advertising (for a nominal fee, of course). Tattoos negotiable, but cost extra.

I look nothing like the woman in the picture. I am quite certain that I'm at least six inches taller and quite a few pounds heavier lighter than she is. My forehead could never pass for a message center, either. I can't see her arse in the photo, but I bet mine's bigger smaller. I only posted this because I she really liked that umbrella, and would like it back...or at least another just like it.

Should you happen to see an umbrella like this for sale somewhere, do let me know so the madwoman will have some shade to carry with her again. Or, should you see someone who looks nothing at all like the madwoman above walking about with such a bumpershoot, feel free to accost them, mug them for the brolly, and then scuttle home and ask me where to ship it.

The nice crazy lady and I would appreciate that.

Sometimes you da windshield...

...and sometimes you da bug.

I am home a little earlier than I planned.

Friday night's concert went really well, I thought. A fair portion of the audience was up and dancing through most of our performance; these are some of our staunchest fans, so that's not surprising. There were quite a few people with fire wands, poi (fire and glo varieties) and, glo-staves and even a few lighted (lit?) hoops - like hula hoops only much thicker and heavier, and they look a bit like the aliens are landing when they really get going at night! The few flubs we had were met with good humor - at one point, more than half the audience was up and participating in a spiral dance that distracted on of the band members (not me!!) and she lost her place, but since we were singing a roundish sort of song, it didn't matter. I had my own mistake later on, but nobody noticed so it doesn't count. All in all, band and crown had a fine time. The sky had even cleared for us - rain can kill an outdoor concert!

Several of us sat up laughing and chatting until the wee hours. I (eventually) slept in my van, child free and quite cozy.

I would have slept later into Saturday morning than I did, save for several (hundred) things - a loud-voiced neighbor and flies. There were so many flies, it was like something out of a Hitchcock movie; they buzz and chase each other, and land on a body when she's trying to sleep in. Sigh. The venue used to be a cattle farm, and now has horses, so the flies are not unexpected...the loud voiced neighbor was just annoying. Really, when you're standing right next to someone, do you need to speak to them at top volume?

Saturday was our Zoo concert, so we piled into my van and headed to that. It's hard to gauge how something like that has gone - it's not our usual crown, being made up of mundanes...and they were drinking beer...but I judged it a success since no one threw a beer at us and no one got up from their table and walked out. We recently added a belly dancer to our little group, and she choreographed a few of our songs...and she was fascinating people. We were fascinated too, never having seen her dance to those songs - once in a while, I was wishing I was in the crowd so I could see her better. Friday night, she used fire poi, fire fans, and veils, but for the Zoo she stuck with silk veils, fans, and flag poi - flaming balls whizzing through the air at a beer fueled Zoo event just didn't seem like a good idea to any of us.

Someone, I think a Zoo employee, was photographing and filming, and that was kind of cool...distracting, but cool. I kept trying not to look at him and cringe - I loathe being photographed, but really, one can't hide one's face when performing - it's just not professional! Luckily, he tended to focus on our dancer (as did a number of the folks watching, snapping pictures and shooting video of her) - she was laughing afterwards, saying she supposed now she'd be all over the Internet, on YouTube and the like. Heh...instant celebrity for her!

The band that was following us was very complimentary...and you know you've done OK when a real band, a traditional oldies cover band with actual instruments and a mixing board and lights and such, sits through your whole set (and actually pays attention), claps for you, and then asks if you'd like to stay and sing with them because you have an amazing voice and they can't produce big sound like that. Yes, yes, I'm bragging...it doesn't happen often, but damn...these were musicians! When your fellow craftsmen say nice things, it mean a lot! Sadly, we couldn't stay because we had to get back to our other event to sing at a handfasting (a sort of pagan wedding)...I would have liked to see them, as they were really nice fellows and they seemed like they'd be fun to listen to.

Into the van we piled, and back to our other event we drove. It had rained while we were away. Not just rained. It rained, hailed, and blew hard. The wind was fierce enough to pick up a ten-by- ten canopy and send it hurtling to its doom, smacking someone's truck, another canopy, and finally ripping the door of Satan (the big green outhouse of doom) before coming to a tumbling halt. Guess who secures her canopy to her van when she's camping so it won't blow away? And guess who had to unsecure it in order to transport band and equipment to the Zoo? And guess who didn't at least drop her canopy to its lowest height before she left on the off chance it stormed a bit? And guess who came back to the venue to discover that not only had her canopy tried to take out Satan on its own, but it had knocked over her dry-box (the box that should have kept everything she left behind dry if it rained) and let everything inside said box get soaked?

Yep.

I was a mite put off about that.

The band helped get the van unloaded and I packed the rest of my things (with help from everyone nearby, because they're amazing) and left. I didn't even sing at the handfasting...and I'm ashamed of that. I let my ire, my imbalance, get in the way of a performance. I've never done that before...heck, I'm usually nattering on and on about proffesionalism and how important it is to be on time, ready to go, not to let anything keep us from performing, blah, blah, blah...and I left. I don't know what got into me. I didn't have to leave right away - I could at least have stayed long enough to sing for the newlyweds, who only wanted one song from us, and then driven home last night. Sigh. Often, I am an ass.

I was almost home when I realized something else...my umbrella was hanging from the canopy frame when I left for the Zoo!! OK, so you're probably thinking "So what, it's an umbrella?" Yeah...but it's a Tiffany lampshade umbrella, dragonflies, in blues and greens, and it's so perfectly ME! And I've had it for years. And I can't get another, because no one makes them in those colors any more. Aww, dang. It could very well have survived the flight and landing of the canopy, but I didn't even go look at the wreckage, just left. It's too far to reasonably drive back today- can you believe gas prices?? - so I may never know, unless someone just happens to find my brolly and just happens to know it's mine, and just happens to get it to one of the band members to give to me. Sigh. That's a lot of "just happens" to count on.

Last night I slept here at home, bed full of me, T, Bird, and cats. Much better than flies, flies, and more flies, even if I couldn't really move most of the night.

I haven't unloaded the van yet, so I need to do that. Also, today I will go canopy hunting, and tomorrow or sometime during the week I will start the long, grueling search for a brolly that I like well enough to actually pay for it - it will never be as good as the Tiffany lampshade one, but I need something to keep the sun off (funny - I don't use an umbrella to keep the rain off, but rather to keep the sun off. I often referred to the dragonfly one as my portable shade), and I prefer something pretty and unusual.

Is it weird that I'm more bummed about the twenty-dollar umbrella than I am about the almost three-hundred dollar canopy?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Button, Button

Something to amuse you for the weekend (see, I knew I couldn't stay away)...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wake Up, Wake Up, You Sleepy Heads...

It is almost eleven-o'clock, and The Evil Genius is still asleep. I don't doubt that the ring of the telephone or a meyowling cat would wake him right now, but I am trying to keep quiet and let him wake naturally, on his own.

Side note - as I just typed that phone comment, the dang thing rang. If I type a remark about winning the lottery...

Where was I? Oh, right, sleeping child. He was up quite late last night, playing in his darkened room. He doesn't have a night light and doesn't care - he plays in the dark until he falls asleep, and short of liberal applications of duct tape and Velcro, I don't see how I can stop him...not that I care to. Since we home school, the hours we keep aren't as important as they might be, and if we sleep from midnight to late morning, whose business is it, anyway?

I have so much to do today - I am off tomorrow to another event that will keep me away until Sunday morning. My band has a concert tomorrow evening at the event, and then one at Zoo Atlanta on Saturday afternoon, and then we're singing at a hand-fasting (wedding of sorts) on Saturday evening back at the event. Whew - lots of driving involved in all of this.

First and foremost, though, is taking Bird for a swim. He didn't get to go yesterday, after all - he went to the Nature Center instead and met some other young boys. The whole posse played in the creek, caught crawdads (and released them) and salamanders (and released them) and generally splashed, paddled, and played as boys - as children - will do. He came home a little wet, a little dirty, and thoroughly satisfied with the day.

Last night, he plaintively asked if we might go swimming today, and even though I must clean the van, pack, do several loads of laundry, sew some things to (hopefully) sell so I can make back my gas money for this event, type up and e-mail playlists, clean the kitchen, bake banana bread, and one or twelve other things before my weekly discussion group tonight, we are going swimming first.

In case I suddenly break my pattern and don't post again before I am off to this event, y'all have a good weekend.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Moment

Deep blue sky reaching past the boundaries of sight, uniformly blue, blue in three dimensions; clear of sulphur yellow, of jet fuel brown, of traces and trails, marks of human restlessness.

Trees greening into Summer, pale Spring lace forgotten, left behind for shades of deepest verdure, marking their territory with shadows.

Wind softening to breeze, apology for home-and-hearth battering storms, trees shivering and shaking with the memory of last night's angry blows, whispering of roots tested and tried, of bending without breaking and next time, next time, maybe...

Wrapped in the moment stand I, head tilted slightly back, slightly sidewise, eyes slitted against the brightness of the blue, self welcoming the softness of the air's motion, breathing in the scent, soaking in the silence that is not silence but rather lack-of-human sounds that is defined as silence in this cellphone punctuated, bass-heavy-angry-music fouled, horn shattered modern life.

Without child stand I, a blessed moment alone, no one to answer to, to chastise, to love so noisily that it sends Nature scrambling back, away, except the insect kin who don't hear us as we hear ourselves and so continue on their intersecting spiral pathways, seeking or returning with food, defending, exploring, wondering why the sudden darkness or crush and smush, bewildered by the colorful lines of chalk that keep them from their way with designs to grand for their tiny selves to comprehend, so much like us in our effort to ravel the chaos beyond our ken.

Just that one little span of time, but timeless enough that it could have been hours, days, a span equal to the one note that sounded before everything went from nothing to all.

When we look, when we don't look, when we forget to look, life is replete with these small moments, grace notes to the busy, busy, busy...

Button, Button


A word of explanation about these buttons - a friend sent me an e-mail several years ago, and it consisted of a number of snarky buttons. At the time, I was deeply dissatisfied with life, the universe, and everything, so the buttons struck just the right chord to please my snark. I have quite a few more to share, and figure I can post one when I'm in a hurry (like today, when I have promised to take Bird swimming but I also have to get to rehearsal, so my time is tight) or when I'm drawing a blank. If I knew the original authorship I would give blame credit, but I don't. My sentiments may not always be reflected by the button posted, at least not in the moment, but I will admit that I have related to every one of them at one time or another.

And now, I'm off. Oh, wait, I'm always off. What I should say is, I am now going to set about the rest of my day. Toodles!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pretty OK Ribs

To help stretch my family's grocery dollars, I take part in the Angel Food Program. Thirty dollars for a box of frozen foods and dry goods is a heck of a deal, especially for families with financial strain. It's a church program, but they didn't seem to mind that I'm not a Christian when they found out, and the people have always been exceedingly friendly and accommodating - hands down, the most positive interaction I've had with the Church that I can remember.

Among other items in the box, from time to time there are packets of ribs. There aren't enough for me to make a meal for the whole family from one pack, so I saved them up until I had a few packs. I decided on Sunday that I finally had enough ribs to make a meal for all of us - and then found out I had more than enough because roommate J doesn't eat ribs. He eats BBQ, but not ribs. I don't get it. Anyway, I thawed them and sorted them - sometimes they're beef, sometimes pork, and one pack was St. Louis style - anyone know what that means? 'Cause I don't.

I lined two pans with Release Foil and liberally applied a store-bought rub (c'mon, y'all, I'm from New England, we don't do rubs up there, unless they're of the "back" variety) to both sides of each set, xylophone, rack, then covered them with more foil and popped them into the fridge until Monday afternoon.

Monday afternoon, I stuck them in a two-hundred degree oven and ignored them for two hours or so, then upped the ante to two-fifty and took a nap. Then I took them out, left them tightly covered, and put them back in the fridge because I had Black Hat Society last night and no time for ribs.

Today, I put them back into a two-fifty oven for an hour or so, then pulled them out, dumped all the fat and liquid stuff in the pans (don't cry - I'll reserve it next time to make something horrifying, I'm sure) and slathered them with (store bought) sweet-n-spicy sauce, then covered them up and baked at three-hundred degrees for half an hour. Uncovered, baked another fifteen minutes. Made some canned beans (lazy, lazy, lazy...but I did doctor them with molasses) and served 'em up.

Turns out, they are pretty OK ribs. Maybe one day I'll go entirely homemade, but for now, this'll do.

Some folks boil their ribs, then season, sauce, and cook. Some bake them with the rub and eat them that way. Some slather in sauce and slow cook, and some folks have fancy smokers that need tending and feeding and produce something akin to heaven on a bone. How do you do your ribs?

What say you?


Monday, May 19, 2008

Why blog?

This post is in answer to Foolery's post about blogging. I like Foolery - she's neat. Go have a look, I'll keep.
~~~~~
I started blogging as a way to release some built up anger, resentment, frustration, and creative bursts, and it turned into a daily record of the things my family gets up to. I like having one place to put memories and photographs, too.

I started with MySpace, because I was reading a blog there that tickled me. I now double post on both MySpace and Blogger, although sometimes MySpace gets left behind a little. Lazy and forgetful, me.

I have found blogging to be a way to connect with folks I would otherwise never have met. I've found so many blogs to read that it can take an entire morning to get through them all. Sometimes I just can't, and then I feel guilty...like I'm letting them down. I try to comment, but only when I actually feel I can add to the conversation or have a salient point - I'm not into commenting to generate traffic. I also don't like to just jump in - I prefer to read a little about someone, get a feel for them, before inserting my big fat opinion into their comment page. Sometimes I'm silent because I'm intimidated - there are some wickedly smart people out there, and I'm not sure I can keep up with them...better not to draw their attention (or snark) to little ol' me.

As a side bonus, some of my farther flung family have been reading my bits and pieces, and have been contributing to my memory-store of family anecdotes. It's neat to get e-mails from people I haven't seen in over a decade, catching me up on their goings-on and filling in blank spots of family history to boot.

Foolery gets about 150 hits a day, give or take. Probably three or four of them are me, nosing about for something new to read. 150 a day?? Holy cow! I was delighted to have a dozen or so...and I still am! Every time a new reader comments, I am in a tizzy. I even point to the screen and call people over to look. Heh...such a geek, me. When someone comments here, I try to go visit them and have a read - never know what I'm going to find, and that's half the fun. I read my readers, although sometimes only in weekly chunks when time gets away from me.

While I will post pictures of The Evil Genius, I don't put any up of other folks' kids, nor of grown-ups, and I use nicknames or first initials unless specifically told I don't need to. Heck, I don't even use my own real name, although Kyddryn is my pseudonym for my every online endeavor. I even thought about changing my name to Kyddryn, but was too lazy to do the paper work. I'll freely link to other folks' pages until they tell me not to - I figure, it's the least I can do for being entertained on a regular basis, hook them up with one or two more readers.

Ultimately, I find blogging to be cathartic. I'm so easily riled, of late, that having a place to write out my ire instead of taking it out on my family is a very good thing. I make my Mum laugh, too, which is a nice little extra. I'm saving all of my blogs, because Mum thinks that some day, someone will want to read them. Maybe...but maybe I'm also saving them because I am a pack rat...in real life and electronically. At least a computer is harder to fill up than a house...

So this turned into as much a "how" as a "why" post, but y'all know I tend to blather. Why do you blog?

A New Day

Today, T starts his new schedule, the one that he took this job to get. He'll be home during the day, now, except on the rare occasion he has to go out of town. Mondays and Tuesdays, he'll drive in to the office to work from four in the afternoon until midnight, and the rest of his work week will be at home form midnight to seven in the morning. He doesn't have to be awake during his home hours, just able to answer the phone on the (hopefully) rare occasions it rings.

So begins a new era in our home, where Bird has both parents (for the most part) during his waking hours. We are I am hoping that I'll be able to get some sewing, cleaning, and general mayhem accomplished during the day and that T and Bird will make up for lost time. Also, in theory, T and Bird can go to the Nature Center or wander outside while I get things done inside, or we can all go do things as a family. I think a trip to Fernbank is in the offing, as well as to Elachee and a few other places we haven't gone together.

Also in the plans are trips to the gym...together...as a family. Bird can hang out in the Child Watch area and T and I can compete cheer each other on while we work out.

We'll see how well this works - in a perfect world, it'd be terrific. Realistically, it'll take some adjusting - I'm not used to having T under foot all day, and I may have to lose my mind once or twice before I am used to it. I'll also have to stop talking to myself and may actually have to do something during the day besides write and read blogs and play with the Evil Genius. Dang.

OK...off to the gym for the first time in...umm...I can't remember. Pray for me.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ent

Below are some pictures of the Ent at the Ren Faire yeasterday. They don't do the costume justice. At one point, he was standing very still and some kids were examining him - he suddenly moved his head and peered down at them, and they squealed and ran away. The adults in the area chuckled.

I let the Evil Genius put a dollar in the gourd - it's usual to tip the characters at the faire for providing entertainment, and this fellow certainly deserved it!
If you look carefully at the first picture, you'll see his face.




As a little side note - it's almost two-o'clock, and I started writing this around eleven-thirty. Betweem making breakfast for the household (bacon and pancakes, yay for clogged arteries!) and Blogger having a conniption about uploading pictures, it took this long to write this tiny post. Sigh. I'm going for a nap, now.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Quickie

Can't talk, worn slap out. Went to RenFest, brought Evil Genius, 'nough said.

Will post pictures tomorrow of most heinous (in a good way) Rennie costume ever - Tree Ent that scared the crap out of several kids...muahahahah...Evil Genius was thrilled to put a tip into the Ent's gourd.

Must drag sorry ass to bed now.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Meme Times Four

I got this from Mommy Wants Vodka.

4 things I did 10 years ago: (1998)
1. Figured I'd be spending the rest of my life alone.
2. Smoked The Pot, dropped The Acid, meh.
3. Wrote a lot of music/poetry, read a lot of books.
4. Spent a lot of time on the Internet, as I had wicked insomnia and only slept about six hours a week.

4 things I did 5 years ago: (2003)
1. Had a baby.
2. Contemplated suicide when I couldn't breast feed said baby.
3. Got my head back out of my ass, switched to formula, got some sleep, realized I COULD feed my baby and the lacitvists could kiss my fifty-acre ass.
4.Wrote more music, performed, made another CD.

4 things I did yesterday:
1. Made a grocery list.
2. Cuddled with the Evil Genius.
3. Read some of "Such a Pretty Fat", chuckled a bit.
4. Went to Borders for my discussion group, learned good friend was pregnant, felt a twinge of jealousy but mercilessly quashed it.

4 shows I love to watch:
1. House2. Dirty Jobs (I heart Mike Rowe)
3. Criminal Minds
4. The Sunday Animation Domination on FOX (Ok, I know that's, like, four shows, but I couldn't pick just one...I suck at narrowing things down and choosing favourites!).

Thanks, Aunt Becky!

I've Been A-Searchin'...

Just for kicks, and probably because I was in a sleep-deprived delirium, I checked out the stat-counter thingie that tells me all kinds of interesting things like...where you're from, by country, state, city, or star sign. OK, so not the last one, but it gets pretty detailed. The function that brings the most giggles is the "key word" bit, where I can see what search words or phrases brought people to Shade and Sweetwater. Most of them are fairly mundane, so I'll ignore 'em for the moment. Below are a few that cracked me up (to varying degrees), and the things I thought as I read them.
~~~~~

"sex pagan rituals braselton ga" - It wasn't me, I swear!! I don't know why this brought anyone to my page, but boy were they barking up the wrong tree!!

"winstone churchill palling" - Winston Churchill's lesser known third cousin six times removed, who was knows for his friendly demeanor and habit of buying more than his fair share of rounds at the pub.

"brain left aching" - You have my sympathies.

"saigon sin" - Once again, someone was severely disappointed.

"single, and celibate, and lonely" - Words fail. I don't have any idea when I've claimed to be the first two, although I will cop to the third...

"captain skidmarks one hit wonder" - Heh...Captain Underpants' sidekick made single that went triple platinum, but the follow-up album fell a bit flat when the drummer quit due to sartorial dissension - the drummer was a boxers man and Captain Skidmarks wanted everyone to wear briefs for a more uniform image. There was talk of a reunion, but it never went anywhere after someone leaked the story that Captain Skidmarks was addicted to cosmetic bleaching.

My Best Good Thing

My son often cuddles with me, wraps me in his little-boyness, his warmth, his love. He nestles close, kisses my cheek, my chin, my hand, or shoulder and says "I love you so, so much, mummy" and he sighs. He means the words, and I believe them. No strings attached, nothing wanted but love in return, as much as I'll give him. I tell him he's my heart, my best good thing, and no matter what he does I will love him. I may be angry with him, but I love him. I may be sad, but I love him. I don't have to love what he does or is, but I will always love my son.

I once told him that there's an invisible line of love connecting our hearts, so no matter where I am we are still together. He reminds me of that, sometimes. "I love you, Bird." "I love you, to mommy, and we're always connected from our hearts." And don't you forget it.

He'll grow up faster than I am ready for, move on, find another woman to give his love to, but I will have the first, the clearest, sweetest, simplest of his loves to remember.

He is an aching sweetness, so bright he blinds me sometimes. Terrifying. I would peek at him when his baby self slept and listen to him breathe. I don't know if all mums do this, but I am sure that most do. Listen to the baby breathe, watch them sleep, perhaps touch them ever so gently to be certain they are warm, alive, well. Love that powerful, it can scare you...the fear of loss giving the love a certain piquancy. I was afraid he would die in his sleep, slip away and take my heart, my soul, with him. No reason for that fear, it came with the hormones. So I listened, looked, touched, and was reassured for a moment or two.

He was such a good baby, I thought he was certain to die - it's always the good ones that go, you know? Always the sweet ones. You never hear stories of the baby from Hell passing in their sleep....the baby that screams, won't sleep, spits up all the time, twists its little head around on its neck and chants in Latin...backwards. No, it's always the good ones. When he finally started being an ass, acting like a little boy with a personality and thoughts of his own, I was relieved. When his temper developed, I was happy - for a few minutes, anyway - because I knew that meant he wasn't an "angel baby", but was my very own flesh-and-blood boy. Mine to keep for as long as he'd let me.

I still look in on him, listen to him breathe, place my hand on his head, lean down and smell him, press my cheek to his, hold his little hand for a moment. I need the reassurance that all is well. It's a heavy burden for a five-year-old to bear, but if I sleep well, if I have a good day, it's rooted in him. I don't tell him that, though. Rather, I tell him that when I'm sad (depressed), it's not because of him...never because of him. Sometimes my heart is just sad, but the place where he lives is happy. He is my best good thing.

The shadows are never gone, entirely. They are pushed back against the walls, waiting for a chance to creep out, wrap me up, steal the light, the air, the joy. He's a little, forty-eight pound incandescent super hero, though...because anywhere he goes, the shadows fear to tread.

I wonder what it's like for him, having a mother who endures depression fairly often. I try not to let it touch him, but I won't lie or hide it from him, either. Secrets, secrets, too many secrets in a child's life - they're bad for you, secrets. They churn in your belly when you swallow them, become another twisting sickness. I won't do that to him, but I don't have to make him suffer, either. I wonder what it's like, though. I hope he doesn't feel the weight of it pressing down on him...and I hope that he sees that life can go on, life does go on, anyway.

I've no idea what brought on these thoughts. My little cuddle-bug is wrapped up in his sleeping bag, arms around Ninus (when he went to bed he informed me that Ninus would always go to bed with him from now on until he died) (which, please Goddess, blessed mother of all, giver of life, spinner of threads, let that be long, long from now when I am already beyond the veil), deeply asleep. It's tempting to lift him up, Ninus the Triceratops and all, and bring him to the big horrible chair to rock for a while - and maybe just go to sleep that way, like he did when he was smaller, limp and sweet and warm against me, face pressed into my neck, sighing with his dreams. Probably won't, though - he's heavy enough now that I'll lose all the feeling in my limbs before long, and neither of us will sleep well.

I'll settle for his sweetness in the morning, nestled in the big bed and talking about our dreams, dinosaurs, and anything else he thinks of while the three cats nestle against us and purr.

Sigh...my best good thing...

Heh...

I bet one or two of you can relate...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thoughtfetti

On Tuesday, Mum, Bird and I went to the craft store, among other errands. Mum needed some fancy thread for her embroidery machine and I needed some more paper for the note cards I'm making. Bird was just along for the ride, but while at the craft store he and Gramlin (what he calls Mum) were exploring (because looking at fifty thousand different pieces of paper is boring if you're an adult - for a kid, it's the absolute pits) and found the aisle full of kid's crafting projects. There they saw, and of course had to add to the cart, the Stuff-a-Saurus. It's a kit with a dino "shell" and some stuffing, a book about dinos, and of course a voice box with roaring dino sound. We stuffed it when we got home, and Bird has named it Ninus. Ninus sleeps with Bird, clutched in his little arms. Every now and then Bird rolls over or move in his sleep, and Ninus roars. I don't know why, but that makes me giggle every time.
~~~~~
I think my son is trying to kill himself. This morning he scampered into my room and wanted to cuddle, which I thought sounded lovely - after a quick detour to the, erm, necessary. While I was otherwise occupied, Bird scaled the bed, crawled under the sheet, and was playing...something. I heard a thud and a clatter and thought he maybe knocked a pillow onto my nightstand - until I heard him start to wail. Turns out, he'd rolled right off the bed and hit the nightstand on his way down...with his spine! Yep...he hit the pointy corner of my big nightstand with his back and will probably have a lovely bruise to show for it. At least he didn't dent himself this time. For a few minutes, I thought he was going to be sick, but he managed to calm down with some kisses and cuddles from mommy. Sigh. I asked him if it still hurt, just now, and he said "No, the cuddles made it better." I still have the magnificent mom powers, it seems. Sweet.
~~~~~
We are having toaster waffles for breakfast, and the Evil Genius has eaten four so far. I say "so far" because I have no idea how many he'll actually pack away - the child is a bottomless pit! I remember Mum saying that to Big Brother when I was little, and I always thought it was hilarious because I had no idea what it really meant. Now, she has my sympathies. Is it only boys who have hollow limbs for storing food?
~~~~~
We are trying to see if Bird can sleep without nappies through the night. I wouldn't mind leaving that expense behind, but so far...not terribly successful. I will likely be doing laundry every day for a while unless I want to go back to nappies at night. I'm thinking of getting several more mattress pads and sheet sets and layering the bottoms so all I have to do is pull 'em off as needed. I did that with crib sheets, layering pads and sheets and just pulling off the top layer when it was soiled so I didn't have to remake the crib eleventy-million times a day (yes, I really am that lazy). Any thoughts?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Where There's a Will (Part Two)

Mum has, for some time, been trying to get T and I to write our wills.

I am an advocate for wills - I think everyone who's out on their own or who has property should have one. I send out a reminder every November First to all my friends - if you don't have a will, write one, and if you have one...update it. Don't leave it to the State to decide who gets the model car collection, the set of thimbles from nations starting with "W", or the Franklin Mint commemorative plate collection featuring artists who died tragic, chopstick related deaths. Write it down, file it, and let a few people know that you've done so.

I had a will, but it was old and I needed to update it. In a fit of productivity that I later medicated away with liberal applications of Fig Newtons and Quaaludes Earl Grey tea, I finally wrote a will for both T and I. Mum read it, laughed until she almost wet herself, and told me it wouldn't fly. Apparently, I have to have it all done up in dry (you know, like the turkey your mother-in-law cooks every year that's practically powdered and even your rich, brown gravy can't help it) legalese. Sigh. I promptly lost the lovely legal, tidy and boring papers she gave me to base the new will on, only recently uncovering them. I plan to get to them sometime next century weekend, but I told mum I want my original one stapled to the top, and I want it read first.

Want to see it? I don't think it's that funny; you be the judge. Some details (OK, names) have been altered to keep them, you know, private and stuff.
~~~~~
Our Will (or Won't, depending whether you're the glass-half-full or glass-half-empty type)

Being of sound mind (hah!!)(quit laughing, Mr. Lawyerpants, we know we aren't supposed to fib in legal documents, but really, who's to say we weren't briefly lucid when we wrote this thing?) and body (unless you ask our physician, which we hope you won't do, because it's not nice to speak ill of the dead), K and T have determined the following, should they suddenly be crushed to death in a freak Orangutan stampeded, or more likely, should they explode like Mr. Creosote in The Meaning of Life because they couldn't be rude and turn down the wafer thin mint, no matter how full they were, because their mamas raised them right and they didn't want to hurt the hostess' feelings, or if they should, you know, generally have done with life in any manner:

What to do with our remains:

K – cremate me and scatter me somewhere nature is still wild, or make me into a rude statue (preferably one that has a remarkable figure and absolutely no resemblance to my current state)(especially don't give the statue my fifty-acre ass, because I really don't like pigeons enough to give them that much perch) and park me somewhere that I'll irritate some stuck up bitches or pompous jack-asses on a regular basis. Oh, I know - make me a fountain where the water shoots out my nose or my navel or somewhere else that's interesting!

T – cremate me and pour me into Jeff Gordon’s gas tank…I'll put a stop to his evil one way or another!

If T goes first and K is still kicking: K gets everything, and if anyone has a problem with that, they can go pound sand.

If T goes after K has snuffed it: Everything goes to Bird, and if anyone has a problem with that, they can go spit in the wind.

If K goes first and T is still rolling along: T gets everything but whatever K inherited from Mum or Dad (providing Mum or Dad are actually pushing up daisies and not vacationing in Guam or something). Whatever K inherited from Mum or Dad (whew, typing that three times was exhausting, and now I need a nap) goes to Bird to be held in trust until he’s 21. Since Mum is alive and well (and watching Peter Pan with her grandson) at the typing of this document, it may all be moot, anyway. We are fairly certain that Dad is still on this planet, but won't be held to that.

If K and T both go together, say in a freak double parachute failure on their anniversary sky-diving expedition: Well, pooh! Everything goes to Bird, poor little orphaned mite, all alone in the world (sniff, sniff). So the poor motherless boy doesn't wander around in the woods wondering where everyone went, T and K would like Mum (aka Gramlin) to keep him cleaned, fed, and generally guardianed until he’s fit for society or the law springs him from her diabolical grasp. If Gramlin doesn't want him (What?? Not want him?? What’s wrong with the woman???), or is dead (boo!), or can't raise him on account of she’s been kidnapped by aliens (or, at least her brain has), or she’s been deemed far too mentally interesting to be responsible for a child as precocious and clever as Bird, then J (T's sister) has grudgingly agreed to keep an eye on him, with the understanding that K weird friends may come kidnap him for weeks on end to go frolic with the pagans and learn about his mother’s spiritual bent whenever they like, with reasonable (say, more than an hour) notice. If J can't be bothered (What? Can't be bothered?? What’s wrong with the woman???) Then Michelle R. will do nicely, if only she would. If she can't or won't, then we have to wonder what’s wrong with Bird, or if there’s a funky curse going on here.

If one parent dies and the other escapes Death’s bony grip for a while longer, the surviving parent gets to muddle through as a single-parent…but hey, kids are babe magnets, aren't they??
Meanwhile, back at the body…

Oh, yeah, we need an executioner…er…executor…executrix…managerial type; we choose Gramlin, on account of she’s zany enough to know how we think (poor woman).
~~~~~
Now really, wouldn't you rather hear that than a bunch of "The party of the first part..." blathering??

Where There's A Will (Part One)

I read Chris' entry about aging over at Wat da Wat, and it reminded me that I've been wanting to write about this for a while, now, but I've been distracted and lazy. Oh, well, better late than never.

When my mum was in her fifties, she had her will done by a very nice attorney who is not only clever, he has a sense of humor. I know!! When the will was prepared, she had a reading. The (not at all) deceased sat at one end of the table, the lawyer at the other, and Big Brother, myself, and a trustee occupied the middle seats. Mr. M (the lawyer) read the will and made sure we understood everything - then told mum that was possibly the oddest experience he's ever had as a lawyer. The decedent isn't usually sitting there smiling and laughing with the heirs and trustees when the will is read. Heh...he didn't know us very well at the time, although I think he understands our weirdness a little better, now. Mum had a reason for doing this - when her own father died, no one knew what the will said...who would inherit what, if anything. It's not the first thing on your mind when someone you love pops off, but it did make for some confusion later on. Mum wanted to avoid that, so she went about making sure that we know what's what when she shuffles off this mortal coil.

Death, at least to me (and to some extent, mum) is no mystery. It is not unexpected. All that lives, dies. Whether the living have a long strand or a short one, they are all cut by the fates eventually. It is, in my opinion, the height of folly to avoid thinking about mortality (to pretend it will never happen, I mean), be it our own or of those we love. I don't say "If mum ever dies...", I say "When mum dies..." We have talked openly, mum and I, about aging - about her aging, and eventual death, and what she wants if she'd sick, demented, dying, dead. We laugh a lot. I'm trying to talk her into letting me make her into a reef ball when she goes, or maybe fire her into space, or make her into a diamond, or perhaps all three. She may end up a truly tacky piece of garden art, some sort of gnome statue or a pink flamingo. I don't know, and she's still considering what she wants after being lightly toasted to an ashen grey. If she doesn't make up her mind before she snuffs it, I'll decide...and if she hates it, well...too bad. She can haunt me.

I have known a lot of death in the last decade. I've lost more than a few friends to AIDS, and been with them while they faded from the bloom of health to skeletal, unable to move, reduced to mumbling, babbling speech. I sang one friend from this life to the next, possibly one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I've lost family to age or to cancer and wept even while I remembered their Hell-raising days. I have thought of my own demise, even contemplated accomplishing it on my own when it seemed like Death was taking his sweet time. He and I have chatted, and we're good; I'll keep plugging along without trying to do his job for him and he'll leave my garden alone - except the chives, because even Death can't seem to kill an established chive bed, but it gives Him something to do on off days.

Some quick thoughts on death and dying (please don't confuse quick with poorly thought out or frivolous):
1. Death is not dignified, but if we're lucky we won't have to care about that when we are in the midst of it.
2. Death is not the difficult thing. Life is. Even Death knows that, and if you dance with Him enough, He'll tell you all about it before sending you back out into world to finish your chores.
3. If a living being is loved while living, they never really die - they are contained in every thought, every memory, every association with them, their habits, their living that was experienced by the ones left behind.
4. Light travels in particles and waves. When we see things, we are taking in these particles and waves. We are making the things we see a part of us. I see the stars, I make them part of me. I see a tree, it is part of me. I see you, you are part of me. This is basic stuff. If you see a living being, it/they become part of you, passed on to all who see you and take you in only to pass you on to the ones who experience tham. We are, in this way, beautifully eternal.
5. We honor the dead by living. When I die, I want a party...with cake, punch, and all the music I loved in life. I want people dancing, laughing, making a mess that (for once) I won't have to clean up. I don't want to be mourned, I want to be celebrated, and I hope I have a life worth remembering.

Where DOES God live?

Bob over at Eagle's Rest wrote something that prompted a response from me - but the response got so bloody long, I decided instead to turn it into a post so his comment section wouldn't look like War and Peace revisited. Also, I am not entirely certain how well received a pagan viewpoint on the building of churches would be; Bob has been more than kind and patient with my few comments over there, but I am rather more than a little sensitive about causing offense - I don't like to do it - and I worry that some of his readers might not understand what I am trying to convey in my blathering. Still, I wanted someone to read my wandering thoughts, so I figure if I posted here, no one would be ticked off unless they made an effort, since y'all know I'm pagan and bound to be a little peculiar more often than not.
~~~~~

This is an interesting topic, to me, as I have no temple, no church, no structure in which to focus my thoughts towards the Divine, to worship. All the world is my sacred place, and so all the world is where I may find that Divine, if only I can Look, Hear, and permit myself to Feel.

I am, I know, an odd one.

I love old churches, those holy places of wood and stone, smelling of centuries of wax, incense, dusty old tomes, the transcendent voices of generations of choirs still echoing from their walls.

Modern houses of worship leave something to be desired, from what I can see. In the last year I have watched a number of the local churches undergo renovations. They all began as quaint old things with red brick and white board siding, stained glass windows rising tall along the sides, tall steeples reaching high, visible above the treetops - the kind you see on Courier and Ives tins or in Norman Rockwell paintings. Now, they look like...well...prisons - cement block walls with no windows near the ground, perhaps some large abstract stained glass things near the roof. They have shut out the world, shut out sight, sound, everything but their own droning mantra of "Give, give, tithe, tithe, we are better, we are more...", building huge, forbidding fortresses of...what? What are they supposed to be? Certainly not places that welcome the lost, the searching soul, the ones who need shelter or sanctuary. Churches are becoming status symbols...expressions of "We're so holy, look what we can afford to do!"

When I am outside, looking up into the night sky at the half-moon, listening to the frogs singing out into the cool dark, the wind swirling around me, tickling the back of my neck with a stray hair, I am glad to know that I don't have to box it in to have a meeting place for my Gods and I...and I feel a little sorry for the folks who have to go to one place on one day in the week to try and find what I feel around me all the time.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Congratulations, Mr. Evans!

Danny Evans over at Dad Gone Mad has a book deal, and an extra helping of envy from Casa de Crazy and the prime weirdo therein (me). He mentioned unanswered phone calls, messages, e-mails, and neglecting family, friends, and general hygiene (OK, not really that last one, that I know of) to make it happen. I can relate. I leave the house once a week just to squeeze in a couple of hours of clean writing time, time where a devilish little Evil Genius isn't pestering me sweetly asking me to play, feed him, or otherwise engage him in some activity (besides home schooling, which he avoids like I avoid mushrooms on pizza)(don't ever put mushrooms on my pizza - it won't be pretty)(really...I make the ME on that autopsy show look like a slacker, I am that meticulous about finding them and ridding myself of them) rather than write.

I have stayed up past three in the morning because I couldn't get any other productive time at my computer, guaranteeing that the next day I would bear a strong resemblance to every dragon-breathed zombie in B-movie history, only with better hair. I took up blogging so I could relieve some of my need to write during the day (although my creative writing is of the fictitious sort, and my blog is anything but)(fiction, I mean)(but you knew that) without completely ignoring the Evil Genius, laundry, dishes, and other little details that keep the insects from overwhelming us and kicking us out onto the street.

So I have neglected friends, socializing, and clean linens (something had to give, and if the sheets don't LOOK dirty, are they??)(Again, not really - I can't stand having dirty sheets), and have ignored my son as much as humanly possible without actually crossing the line into neglect (It's OK that he knows all the words to the four episodes of Walking With Dinosaurs that I TiVod for him, isn't it?), and generally made my family wonder what happened to the bitchy troll they know and (I have no idea why) love, and finally finished something.

Now what? Have I met the criteria? Will an agent magically appear? Please? Because I'm at the point of needing to write query letters, and as I told a very nice total stranger not long ago, I'd rather lick a port-a-potty floor after a four-day hippie fest than open myself up to that Hell. Forget trying to go directly to publishers...I think I'd burst into flames before I finished penning the first missive.

Way to go, Mr. Evans - I really do think it's terrific that you made this happen - and make no mistake, you worked hard and made this happen. I'm glad your work is paying off, because it gives hope to writers like me who doubt themselves but keep on plugging. But first I need to go whimper quietly in the corner.

What say you?


Sunday, May 11, 2008

How I SPent My Time With Mum, Part Two

woke to the sound of mum's feet thumping about upstairs - her cabin is not very well soundproofed, and she's used to lhaving her home to herself, so she just walked about as usual. I didn't mind...it was a little funny, hearing her go about her morning routine. The water running into and eventually draining out of the tub sounded very much like the rush of water against the side of a boat, and I dozed a little to that sound/thought. A bird in the woods was singing merrily when I finally opened my eyes and rolled out of the old brass bed. One of the things I love about that bed it its height - some folks need a small step stool to get into it, but I'm long legged enough not to warrant the help. I love sleeping in tall beds - when I was a child, I would pretend I was on a ship at sea, sailing to all the corners of the world.

I just finished getting dressed when mum knocked on the door to wake me - we wanted to get an early start, and as I am habitually a late sleeper we'd agreed that she would knock five minutes before she wanted to leave if I wasn't already up. If I don't have the Evil genius or T to chivvy into clothing and out the door, I can be up, dressed, and ready to go in less than five minutes - and that includes making up the bed I slept in. Sometimes it's useful to fail at being a girl - no makeup, hair held back in a clip, ready to go. It actually takes less time for me to get ready for a dinner date than it does T!

Mum took me to breakfast at The Sautee Trail, a tiny building just of the side of the road that has the best BLT anywhere (outside my four walls, I mean). We had eggs, toast bacon (they make bacon nice and crispy without being greasy. There's little in this world as disappointing as limp, greasy bacon), and potatoes - mum's were hash browns, mine were home fries. The coffee was OK - not great, but not awful - the portions were huge, and neither of us even tried to clean our plate. We didn't want to be full and sleepy for the mineral show!

The drive to Franklin was uneventful - we chatted about this, that, and the other thing, and about what she wanted to look for when we got there. We had two vendors to see first...we knew that we'd have heavy bags when we were done with them, and we wanted to take them out to the car and then wander around the rest of the show.

To get in, mum had to present her filled-out form and tax ID - the show is wholesale only, and only people with legitimate business are allowed in...and their employees. I get in as mum's employee - I do carry her bags and help her find what she needs, so I'm earning my keep. We had to put on name stickers that had a space for the business name (Double L Designs) and our own name - I wanted to write my name and "Sherpa" or "Faithful Mule", but I refrained.

Once inside, we headed to the back corner where our first two vendors were set up. The first vendor had sarongs and tapestries, among other textiles - sarongs to make shirts from, tapestries to use as dividers for our vending setup (we sleep and live in the back quarter of our booth, and we'd like to keep that hidden from view - really, you don't want to see us sleeping or when we first get up in the morning). Don't ask me why a textiles seller is at a Gem and Mineral show - I have no idea. Mum tried on a jacket and I told he she needed it to live. It really was a nice jacket. She bought it, some sarongs and tapestries, and handed me the heavy bag. We moved over to the next vendor, a purveyor of display goods that we find useful for showing off the chain maille, beadwork, and other jewelry we make. Once we had everything we needed (and a few things we didn't, strictly speaking, NEED), we headed out to the car to drop off the two heavy, bulk bags. Whew. I'm glad I didn't have to carry those things around the whole show...I swear, the tapestries have lead in them!

For the next hour or so we wandered up and down several of the aisles, looking for clasps, fasteners, and other doodads (findings) for mum's work. It was harder than it sounds, because this particular Gem and Mineral show USED to be about gems, minerals, and working with the aforementioned, but lately it seems to be more about finished pieces - many of them gaudy beyond belief - than about the craft. Still, I managed to help mum spend a fair chunk of change before we had to break for lunch. We even ran into some of my bandmates who also make and sell jewelry - that was cool.

Lunch was from one of the little stands outside the show - we really didn't feel like driving anywhere. We opted for barbecue, because the line was shorter we'd had this particular sort before and enjoyed it. Mum got sweet sauce, I got a mix of sweet and spicy sauces. You know what? These folks weren't kidding about the "hot" in their sauce. It was good! We had to sit among strangers, as there was limited space at the picnic tables. We had lovely conversations with a couple of ladies about our various hobbies and crafts and some of the other shows in the area, before they had to go. Our next table mate was a friendly fellow who, it turns out, is keen on quilts and owns half of Pigeon Forge (with his family), along with a gem mine there. They have the sort where a tourist can buy a bucket of stones and pan for gems, which is a fun way to spend a couple of hours. Of course, we didn't know that until we asked him what brought HIM to the show. You meet the most interesting people...

After lunch, it was more wandering up and down the aisle, occasionally being grabbed by the eyeball by something sparkly, colorful, or unique. Despite the encroachment of "finished piece" sellers, there were still plenty of folks with rough stones and mineral samples, cabochons, faceted gems, semi-precious gemstone chip beads, polished beads, meteorites and tons of fossils. I kept stopping and staring at the fossils, thinking of Bird - he loves fossils. There were shark's teeth, dinosaur teeth, trilobites and countless specimens of ammonites to be had. I didn't end up bringing one home, because I was worried that he's not quite old enough to take good care of it yet. Maybe next year. By the end of the indoor section, we were tired - it's a big show, lots of walking on asphalt, lots of visual input, noise, and rude people who push right past without saying "excuse me" or even looking where they're going. I was glad to be done with that part.

Outside the main building were the tents - thirty by thirty pole-and-canopy setups that belong to gypsy vendors who travel around the country doing show after show. They had everything from gems, beads, and jewelry to stone inlay tables and other furnishings, as well as more sarongs, incense, and a dizzying variety of other goods. We scored a few more sarongs and wandered around in a daze. It's a lot to take in. At one tent, I had to stop and whimper with unadulterated lust...there was an amethyst geode as tall as I am (Five foot ten, if you must know) with a calcite deposit inside. I wanted to lick it, make it mine. I had to ask what something like that goes for - it was too spectacular, and I just wanted to know how unattainable it would be for an ordinary person like me. Turns out...pretty darned unattainable! Nineteen thousand dollars and some change...but they deliver. Wow. They also had a bathroom sink carved from fossil stone, with an ammonite right in front of the faucet hole. Wow...how cool is that?? I didn't ask the cost - really, it would clash with everything I own. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

We wandered back to the van - my shoulders were sore from carrying around a loaded bag and from the sun beating down on them, and both of us had tired feet. Luckily, mum always parks near the back of the lot, which is actually quite close to the tent vendors, so we had a short walk through the lot to our conveyance. Whew.

Replete with the purchasing of shiny things, we headed on home, with only two stops along the way - one to drive through Dairy Queen for Blizzards, and one at the gallery where mum hangs out and works so she could see if any of the paper they had would be useful for my cards (and also so I could scope out other cards on sale there and compare pricing and technique). Cool place, and I'm probably going to put some note cards and maybe a few matted prints there for sale, see what happens.

Back at mum's, I got ready to go. Before I left, she wanted to show me her new red skirt - it's cut, a handkerchief hem with lace insets, very gypsy. One of the sarong tops I made her will go beautifully with it! I clambered into my van and drove on home, tired but happy - I had a relaxing night and day, and I needed that!

Now I have tons of blog reading to catch up on, and a bit of writing to do, too. Happy mother's day, all!

Stormy Weather

Don't know why....there's no sun up in the sky...

Oh, wait, yes I do. A wad of storms clog-danced on through the Southeast yesterday and last night, and we've still got a fair bit of cloud cover keeping it cool. Luckily, the rain and other storm-related fun waited until long after the chosen plumber was finished replacing our broken pipe in the yard and had covered it all up again. Our front lawn has a bright red scar on it, but we don't have to worry about another crazy-high water bill, so it's all good.

Around three-thirty this morning, the storms passed through our little patch of Earth, bringing with them a spectacular light show choreographed to their own original sound track. I woke up and listened for a while - I'm all for a free concert, and Ma Nature makes some of the best music around. Who else can give you a three-dimensional drum solo complete with lights and water effects?

Other parts of the state were a bit less enthusiastic about the show - I guess tornadoes could be considered a detraction - but even the Who occasionally destroyed a hotel room or stage, right? I'm sorry for the folks who came to harm or realized their moment of mortality last night...we pay the price for the beauty around us...its a terrible beauty, sometimes.

I'm still trying to get in touch with Big Brother - storms sometimes knock his phones out, so that may be why no one's answering. Also, he and the family could be visiting the Wonder Preemie, or out to breakfast, or (less likely) sleeping in or on the phone to England, where his wife BritSIL is from. If I can't get through to them in the next hour or so, I am trying his cell phone. I'm not too horribly pressed because I know they'd call if something was wrong - our family motto should be "No news is good news".

Mum had strobe lightning, pounding thunder, driving rain and thudding hail at her place, but no damage. Whew.

Later today I'll post the rest of my Saturday with mum...right now I am in the midst of making my house smell nice by baking chocolate chip cookies, which aren't my favourite but they sure do smell lovely. Later today or this evening, I may even make banana bread. Mmm...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

How I Spent My Time With Mum, Part One

First, the nutshell of the whole trip (My version of the Cliff's Notes of the posts to come):

Quiet night. Thai food (cucumber salad with side of peanut sauce, mmmm...)(Coconut chicken soup almost as good as favorite place)(Tempura battered ice cream, odd)(Mum's fried bananas worth filching from her plate). Mum's cabin in the woods. Solar charged glow balls in garden, pale alien fungi or eggs, weirdly neat. Open windows. Wind chimes. Breeze. Quiet between the chimes. Lightning bug. Still. Wake in the darkness, lightning in the distance. Silence, beauty in the darkness. Early morning. Bird singing. Get dressed. Breakfast. Drive to gem show. Name tags (mine should read "faithful mule"). Find first specific vendor. Sarongs, tapestries, hey mum you need that jacket to live. Display stuff. Car. Back inside. Shop, shop, shop, eat lunch (note, when BBQ place says sauce it hot, not kidding)(yum, anyway), meet man who owns half of Pigeon Forge (big, nice, smart, hungry), but don't know that until after - talk shop re: gems and jewelry and quilting (quilting? Wow, a guy who can talk quilts...cool!), shop more. So many shiny, shiny things. Outside to tent vendors. Huge freakin' geode, want, want, want. Nineteen thousand dollars, heart broken. More sarongs. Sun hot, shoulders sore, feet hurt. Back to van. Dairy Queen. Back to mum's. Red skirt. Home. Tired. Happy. Nice.
~~~~~
Now, Friday night in detail:

I left my house yesterday evening to drive an hour or so North to mum's place. She lives in a patch of woods off a dirt road far North of Atlanta (if you were thinking of visiting). I listened to some music and enjoyed a little time in the car NOT playing I Spy or Find the Car for a change.

Thanks to roommate J agreeing to watch Bird until T got home, I left in plenty of time to get to mum's, so I didn't have to try and meet her at the restaurant. That was nice. I got my stuff inside (which requires climbing forty steps to the front door while praying they don't decide that today is the day they give up and fall off the house)(not exaggerating) and gave mum her Mother's day card from Bird (he made it on the computer and wrote "I love you! Bird" inside...good grief, how cute can you be??) and from me (she laughed at mine, because it was so very true) and told her my gift to her was a donation to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. She thought that was cool. I handed over two sarong shirts I'd made her yesterday afternoon before I left my place. She was pleased - I have had a pile of sarongs to make into shirts for her for over a year, and am only just now getting to them. We won't talk about the quilt I started for me three years ago. No, we won't.

We headed out to dinner - she's been telling me about a new Thai place in Clarkesville - Pacific Blue Grill, I think it's called, and she wanted me to try it. We have a favorite Thai place in Norcross, and nothing else can quite make the cut...but she swore this place came close. I am always game for Thai food. The Satay chicken was nice...but I like the cucumber salad that came with it even more. I love Thai cucumber salad dipped in peanut sauce. Holy crap, it's good. The coconut chicken soup was almost as good as our favorite place, and I will happily eat it again. Mum had spring rolls, and I tried a bite - nice and crispy, good sauce. So far, so good. She ordered Hibachi Salmon, I ordered Pad Thai. Home run times two. The waitress was attentive without being intrusive, our dinners were excellent, and we spent some time catching up on gossip and what projects we're up to. For dessert (desert, on their menu), mum had fried bananas with ice cream and I tried the tempura battered ice cream. Mine was OK, certainly worth trying once, but mum's? Was amazing. We had lots of leftovers to take back to mum's - she'll be having Thai for lunch for a week. If you're ever in the Clarkesville area, try Pacific Blue...or Blue Pacific...it's excellent

Back at mum's, we hung out for a bit on the porch. She pointed out the new garden balls she'd installed in her quasi-Zen garden. They're solar powered, charging all day and glowing softly all night. They looked like some sort of queer fungus or alien eggs floating gently above the soil. Cool. We went inside and mum had a look at the note cards I've been working on. She approved. We chatted a bit, then went to bed - two hours earlier than usual for me. I called T before I tucked in for the night, just to be sure all was well. It was.

I was in mum's guest room, on the old brass bed - the same bed in which a number of my relatives were conceived (new mattress, though) and that mum, Big Brother and I used to snuggle in at my grandparent's house when I was a kid. I'd opened the windows to let the breeze in to play, and I could hear the chimes outside. The way the sound traveled into my room, it was almost three dimensional, swirling around the room, ebbing and flowing with liquid swiftness. I lay in the darkness, listening to the chimes - some metal, some bamboo - and to the silence that fell in the stillness. A single firefly flashed his Morse message outside one of the windows, but no one answered (that I could see). It only flashed the once, then flew in search of better prospects.

The cabin was still, a deep silence that settled into my bones, peaceful and sweet. No fan groaning and off balance. No one breathing next to me, moaning or mumbling in sleep. No cats walking about, using our bodies as passages over the bed, perforating us with careless claws in need of a pedicure. No meyowling, purling, or other "play with me" noises. No child talking to himself or crying out in his sleep. No litter box scratching. No roommate closing doors too hard at odd hours. No throat clearings, toilet flushings, foot shufflings. No TV flashing, flickering, too loud, too bright, haunting the edges of my sleep. Only dark, still, abiding silence. It was...beautiful.

In this cocoon woven of soft chimes, wind song, and silence, I drifted to sleep - deep, peaceful, truly restful sleep.

I woke in the darkness, closer to dawn than dusk, hearing nature's call within me. I helped design mum's cabin and have stayed there many times, so I don't need light to find the bathroom. I didn't stub my toe, trip on a cat, prompt a plaintive meow for petting or play, or have to avoid anything on the floor. Nice. Back in the brass bed, I saw strobing light outside. It took a moment for me to understand what I was seeing - the sky above the cabin was clear, stars shining bright and merry, but in the distance, far to the south, there was a storm. Mum's cabin is in hill country (the Georgia version), the cabin halfway up a small swelling hill, surrounded by trees. What I was seeing wasn't low on the horizon, but a storm that stretched high into the night. What I was seeing was the flash of lightning, leaping between the clouds, down to the ground, high into the atmosphere. When it lit the distant sky, I could see the clouds piled on top of each other, beehive-hairdo high, spun-sugar-at-the-fair high, shining pink in the brief flares. I thought "Oh, I wonder if it's raining at home" and drifted back to sleep watching the dance of light and dark.

Button, Button

I'm in a bit of a hurry - just got home from my night and day with mum, and I'm tired and the catbox wants cleaning and I have more sarongs to add to the pile to turn into shirts and note cards to make and a kid to cuddle and a write up of my night and day with mum to do sooooo... Here...this'll have to hold you over until later:


Friday, May 9, 2008

Hmmm, coincindence?

Is it coincidental that I wrote (and the band is now performing) a song called Pele Rising and this happened?

Sorry, Chile.

My next song will be about me winning the lottery - think the trend will hold??

Far and Away

I am heading up to mum's place this evening to spend the night so tomorrow we can go to the Franklin Gem and Mineral show. She wants to get an early start, and I'd rather not get up even earlier tomorrow to drive up to her house.

Mum and I used to do quite a bit of palling around, before I met T and got married and started a family and all that. We'd jump into the convertible, roll the top back, crank up the Andrews Sisters and the Big Band music and hit the gas, going wherever the wind blew us. We didn't bother much with destinations; of course, that was when gas was cheaper. I believe we would have ended up in Canada, if the spirit moved us.

Sometimes we'd just go to the craft store, load up a basket with "stuff" and a goodly supply of hot glue, then head home for a day of messy fun. We have what I call "crafter's ADD" - we can't seem to contain ourselves to one hobby. Between us we knit, crochet, sew, quilt, bead, chain maille, do tile and glass painting, photograph, write, sing, play various musical and percussion instruments, color, paint and decoupage. I'm sure I've left something out. Probably several somethings.

I think she misses those days. I know I do. I'm sure when Bird is older, he'll enjoy, or at least tolerate, coming with us and we can take off again, but for now, mum is mostly on her own or having to play with friends her own age. Heh.

Tonight we'll have a lovely dinner at a restaurant that just opened in her town, a Thai place she's been telling me about. We'll be two adults, no child to entertain and keep well-mannered and low-volume so as not to annoy other diners. Just us two. In the morning, we'll pile into her van (she bought a champagne colored version of my van, she liked mine so much) and head up to Something Carolina (Gods help me, I can't keep them straight - I think I have Statelexia) where we'll spend the whole day wandering among the gem and mineral vendors, looking for pendants, clasps, and other doodads that mum can use in her jewelry making. I might find a bead or two to hoard use in my beading, too.

Mum's happy because we can spend the whole day there - last time we went, I only had a few hours due to childcare time constraints, but this time I made sure I had the whole day. I'm looking forward to it, too. I know that when I get home there will be dishes to do, laundry, probably a catbox that desperately needs cleaning, and Bird won't have had a fruit or vegetable to eat in my absence, but for tonight and tomorrow it can all slide.

I'm going palling with mum again - see y'all tomorrow night!

What say you?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Adventures in Plumbers

The first plumber laughed when I mentioned repairing the pipe - no one really does that any more. I knew that, but I had to ask. They'll be calling me to let me know when they can come look and estimate how much of their new summer house on the lake they can pay for with my job.

The second one asked me how long the pipe was. Umm...hmm. I told him "I'm a girl - you seriously expect me to have any sense of distance?? It's maybe...umm...four Astro Van lengths." He then asked if my lawn was...manicured. Hah!! Double hah!! I mean no. No it isn't. Ah, well, then they don't have rent a ditch digger but can use their bobcat to tear up the yard dig out the pipe, saving some money. He told me, without even having to come look, "$500". I guess they aren't paying anyone's tuition this year, but I'm also worried that they'll get here and the estimate will turn into a bill for over two-thousand.

The third one informed me that "blue polybutylene is a bad word around there", but they were really very nice and will call me when they can come have a look and estimate the cost of that new sporty car they've been looking at.

Number four sounded a little...slow...and I'm not at all sure I'll have them do the work even if they promise it'll only cost a dollar. They're coming out tomorrow, and we'll see if first impressions are wrong. Meanwhile, I think I hear them calculating what it'll cost to paint the interiors of their homes.

Number five doesn't do that kind of thing, but just happened to have a friend visiting who does, so he came out to look this afternoon. I liked this one a good bit - he was nice to the Evil Genius, was quite affable to me, and certainly looked and sounded like he knew what he was doing. He's calling back tomorrow with his estimate once he finds out how much dinner at Outback a ditch digger will be - seems my pipe's a good four feet down, and not even a day laborer wants to dig that thing out.

The last one who spoke to me today did an estimate over the phone and sounded bored about it. Call me silly, but I just don't trust estimates done over the phone for work like this - I get the feeling they're just making up a random number that sounds nice, knowing very well that they'll get out here to do the work and start adding to the charges. I don't think I'll be calling them back.

Tomorrow I have a few more coming out to look and do their figuring - I'm thinking someone's wedding, a Caribbean vacation, and a strand of cultured pearls at the least.

At this rate, I'll have a plumbers convention in my front yard tomorrow...but maybe I'll also have a repaired pipe by next week.