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







Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Path, Deeper In

Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go. Umm...where's the house??

Oh, good, the house is still there. Let's move on, shall we?

More of those delightful, whimsical fungi.

A fairy house? See the floaty white thing? What is it?

Eh, probably a trick of light - nothing's home.

Nature decided to add a touch of her own to the decore.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout

Less than thirty seconds to go (as of this writing) and the talking heads are saying "Well the vote will probably stay open longer to give everyone a chance to make up their minds, figure out how they'll vote, talk to anyone on the fence and try to convince them..."

Umm, excuse me?? No...no, I don't think so.

My dear congresspersons - you knew damn well when this vote was coming. If you couldn't shift your ass on in to vote when it was time...too fucking bad. If it was important, you would have been there on time, ready to go.

Not that I feel strongly about this or anything.

The Path, At the Trail Head

Stand with your back to the woods and you'll see Mum's cabin.


Our point of departure, the head of the path. She's not kidding about the fairies.

Just inside the treeline, we start down to the pond. See that thing in the middle of the path?


Meow!!


Please don't eat the giant, friendly, magic mushrooms- they were a birthday gift from Mum's brother and Sister-in-Law, and she adores them - the 'shrooms and the family members. Also, they are metal and would chip your teeth.

More tomorrow...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Path

There are many paths, many ways...

Wait. I didn't mean that kind of path!

Things have been kind of heavy around here lately, so I figured I lighten up a little and share Mum's path to the pond. It's a nice path, and it deserves a little love.

A while back (don't ask me when, I don't remember exactly), Mum decided that she wanted a path down to the pond. There was a sort of game trail through the trees, but it started at the bottom of the driveway, went through some thick growth and down a steep little drop before emerging near the dam.

She wanted something a little more human friendly that started near the cabin and ended at the dam so she and her guests, family, or imaginary friends didn't have to stumble through trees, undergrowth, and crazed poison ivy vines to get to the pond.

The overgrown, somewhat cluttered pond.

That wasn't draining as it should.

Uh-oh - what started as a path became a Project.

She hired some very nice young men to sweat, swear, grunt, groan, and play with heavy equipment, and soon she had a path through the woods that didn't require the felling of trees (important - we really don't like felling trees), a cleared pond (they did remove some trees here, but only before nature got them - they were too close to the water for their own good), and a drain pipe that actually drained (although it does require constant clearing to keep doing its job).

A couple of weeks ago, we spent a family day planting some trees and clearing weeds around the pond. T worked the weed-thingy. Mum, Bird and I were finished first, so we went on back to the house. While Mum and Bird went ahead, I lingered on the path and shot some photographs. You see, Mum has some little surprises along the way, if one cares to look about.

Over the next few days, I'll walk you down that path from the house with pictures. Wear comfortable shoes and bring some water - it's not a long walk, but coming back is up hill and the humidity makes the heat feel ten times worse than it really is.

Petit LeMans

Starting tomorrow, I'll be working some long-arse days over at the track, so I took the liberty of pre-writing some posts about Mum's path through the woods to the pond. Yeah, they're fluff - but considering the leaden wads of shit I posted here for the last (nearly) two weeks, I figured some fluff was in order.

While my blog is being fluffy, I'll be registering the volunteer safety workers/corner marshals (and their guests) for the event, running worker hospitality, ordering, parcelling out, and delivering worker lunches, delivering water and ice to those hardworking folks, setting up the after-race socials and generally running myself ragged for twenty hours a day. In other words- I'll be having a blast.

Mum will be riding herd on the Evil Genius while I'm off playing with race cars. Thanks, Mum!!

T will be on a turn - probably turn six. If you watch any of the racing on TV, turn six is the start of the hairpin. You will not, under any circumstances, see me on the screen - ever - but you might see T. Of course, you don't know what he looks like, but that's OK...wave anyway.

For information about corner-workers, look here: Corner Workers

For information about the race, look here: Petit LeMans

For information about the best, prettiest race track anywhere (yeah, I'm biased), look here: Road Atlanta

This year, they're debuting a hybrid prototype car. Sweet!

See y'all later - I'm goin' racin'!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Promise, Part Five

Now I get on with life. That's what I decided. Real or not, I gave my word to her, and I always keep my word.

I went home, put the knife away, and kept quiet about my afternoon. Mum wouldn't know until decades later what I'd almost done. Until now, I've never written about it - in part because I didn't feel equal to the task, in part because I know it sounds crazy, and in part because I'm still not sure what happened...and may never be.

I've been there again, on the edge, looking over. I've felt the tug, the insistent pull. The yearning. It's always here, somewhere - maybe a gnat's whisper, maybe Niagara's roar. It's a constant.

Sometimes it's "You're not good enough."

Sometimes it's "Things will never get better."

Sometimes it's "No one loves you or wants you."

Sometimes it's all that and more.

Just because I don't pick up the gun, the pills, the blade, and give in to the want, the need, doesn't mean it isn't there and isn't strong enough. Oh, dear Gods above, sometimes it fair smothers me. Sometimes I wonder that I don't burst into flames, it burns so strong.

Doesn't matter. I promised. Whatever else I may be, I am not an oath breaker. Once given, my word is my bond. I won't be forsworn.

I'll live to the end of my days with it, like a hunger that can never quite be satisfied, but I'll live.

Ultimately, that's all that matters, isn't it?

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Promise, Part Four

Or I could choose otherwise.

I had all of eternity to make up my mind.

I believe that I would still be there now, frozen in that moment, if I hadn't made my choice.

She didn't ask for a promise, really. She didn't say "Swear.." She just waited, sitting cross-legged, back to a tree, face turned up to the sun.

It didn't take long.

I made the biggest promise I've ever made in my life. I promised that I wouldn't try again. That I would not seek out death, but would wait my turn. As much as I wanted it, as much as I hated the life I was living, I wouldn't end it.

As soon as the words were spoken, the world was the world again. Birds flew and twittered, traffic hummed on distant roads. I could move again.

There was no sign of the Lady, nothing to show that she'd ever been there, ever been anything more than a figment of my desperate imagination trying to keep me from what I wanted, a creation of my survival instinct.

It was entirely possible that I had given my word to a tree, to the air, to a fat bee lazily bumbling by with no idea of the import of the moment.

Now what?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

He Followed Me Home, Can I Keep Him?

"Mommy, I'm can't be your little boy any more. I have to be an inchworm." He inchworms across the living room floor, down the hall, and back again.

"And why is that?"

"Because you told me to do the thing that I didn't want to do." Ah. I told him to go get out of his nappy and put on some underwear - nappies are for night time only. He's supposed to change as soon as he gets up. I will be so happy when we're done with nappies altogether.

"I see. So you have to be an inchworm?" I continue sewing.

"Yes, I do. What do inchworms eat?"

"Leaves, I suppose, or inchworm chow." I am not looking directly at him - I'm sewing patches on a jacket.

"I guess I have to say goodbye and go live outside, now. What do leaves taste like?"

"They taste leafy. Can't you be an inchworm inside?" I glance at him and he catches me looking.

"There are no leaves inside." Meanwhile, he is inching back across the living room floor and up onto my chair. He inches onto my lap and flops there, despondent. "So I guess I'll have to go away, now." He is about to cry.

"Can't you stay inside and be my pet inchworm?" I put the sewing down so he won't get poked or stitched to the jacket - it's not mine, and I don't care to return it to its owner with an added inchworm bonus.

"Oh, yes, that's a great idea!" He brightens - he had convinced himself that he was going to have to live out in the yard, but now he doesn't have to.

"Thank you, I do try."

He spies something on the little table by my chair. "And I can eat Smarties, because that's what pet inchworms eat instead of leaves!"

"Oh, do they?"

"Yes, they do!" He wriggles over and picks up the roll of Smarties, then turns and makes a face at me. "This is my inchworm face." Then he puts his face close to mine and brushes me lightly with his little nose. "That's an inchworm kiss."

I laugh.

He repeats the inchworm kiss several times, happy that he is reprieved from joining his wild brethren munching leaves outside.

Yep - I think I'll keep him.

Inchworm Face

The Promise, Part Three

"Oh, child."

If ever one could feel two words keenly, cut deep to their core, know the weight of love and sorrow they contain, I did.

"Oh, child."

I could cry today, recalling. Oh, child, indeed. If I lived to the outer limits of human endurance, I would still be a child in her eyes.

I won't write out the whole of our conversation. It doesn't matter. She spoke; I listened with the whole of my being. I spoke; she listened with the whole of existence.

Most important were those first two words..."Oh, child"...and the final part.

The part where she didn't promise me a damn thing but that she was and is and always would be there - there in the trees, in the sunlight, in the wind. The part where she didn't say everything would be alright, fine, hunky-dory, that the bullying would stop, I would have justice, and my spirit would heal and there would be peace...but she'd be with me while I worked it out, while I found my place and my balance. She didn't promise she'd give or do anything - only that she knew I had it in me to give and do.

She didn't tell me I had to. She would let me go, release me to finish what I'd started if it was what I wanted. She never promised that it would get better, only that it could. She would let me go, if I wished, and I could get on with it.

She would let me go. That I would succeed, there was no doubt. We both knew I was going about it the right way, and once begun it could not be undone. And I would be gone, done, finished. I wouldn't hate my body or my self any more, wouldn't feel broken, useless, damaged and scarred.
I could choose that, or...

Or.

Or...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An Interlude

The Evil Genius and I had a jaunt to the hair salon today - his needed cutting (it's been three months or so since his last trim, and it was getting into his eyes) and he was in the mood for a Mohawk. I was in the mood for him to have any dang haircut he wanted, because...why not??

I needed some maintenance on my color - this blue ain't natural, ya know? I love my blue hair. It's an extravagance, it requires slightly more effort than un-colored hair, and I love it. Blue hair and tattoos, that's me.

Only...you can't see the tattoos, because I am all about keeping them in the shirt zone until I run out of room there...and I won't run out of room any time soon, because I don't have anywhere near enough ink on me, yet. Is there such thing as enough??

Don't get the wrong idea - I only have a few...but I want more. More, more, more...

Ahem.

So we went to the salon today for the regular frolics. While we were waiting our turn, we looked at a magazine from the pile on the table. A fashion/hairstyling magazine. Bird found a photo of a red-haired woman in a crazy dress and even crazier heels, and he said something about her. I responded that I would never wear something like that or get my hair to look that way.

His reply? "That's OK, you don't have to change because I love you just the way you are."

Aww!

I told him that was a good thing, since I'm pretty set in my ways. And I hugged him...because I didn't teach him to say that...he came up with it all on his own.

How sweet is that???

The Promise, Part Two

The human mind is a peculiar beast.

It can create reality when it's faced with something it doesn't like. We don't see things that are right in front of us. We see things that aren't there. Given enough stress, enough motivation, we can come right out of reality and into a world of our own making. What's left behind is an illusion, a shell - it may walk, talk, move about just as we would, but no one is home.

This state of removal is temporally elastic - it might last a moment or a lifetime. It may come and go. It may be a one-time thing. You may or may not know that what you're experiencing is your own illusion.

Under that fine old tree, knife between my knees, choice made, I was removed from reality.

If the day had been quiet before, now it was utterly still. If I looked hard enough, I would find birds mid-flight, frozen like a photograph. I could walk the world and find the whole of it like that. I knew this, so I didn't look.

I couldn't move, either. Wrists close enough to the blade to feel that first cold line of contact, I was as still as the moment before the chaos of creation. I felt as though my mind was as sharp as that blade. I could move my head. I was aware that I was not where I had been a moment ago (despite what my eyes told me), but I wasn't afraid.

I was (and still am) claustrophobic and I couldn't move, but I was not afraid.

In the last seven years I had been sexually abused, verbally abused, psychologically tortured, and bullied. I had seen some of the worst that people could do to a child. I had no reason to trust anyone, family or stranger.

I would have had every right to be frightened, but I wasn't.

I was...curious.

The world around me, although still, was the same. Before me, moving between the motes of light suspended in the ladders of sunbeams slanting through the trees, came a woman.

How do I describe her?

How do I describe the face of God? Or Goddess?

How do I put words to the face, the form? How did I put form to the concept of what I felt had to be deity...or close enough as makes no difference?

All in my mind, but as real as the keys I strike to type this telling.

She didn't look perfect, mind. She looked very human. Real enough that I could reach out and touch her, if only my hands would move. The hem of her skirt brushed low-hanging branches and fallen pine needles, and they swayed. She had a careworn face, and warm eyes that in memory have no one color but were the cosmos. Her hair was brown and hung in a braid.

While I remember what I saw down to the last tiny detail, it's pointless to try and describe it all here. Words on a screen can't possibly relate.

She was not beautiful, but she was lovely. Striking. She was every mother that ever was or ever will be. You'd know her if you saw her - she's your mother, too.

She stopped just in front of me, and the look of unutterable sorrow on her face brought tears to my eyes. I would have prostrated myself at her feet and begged forgiveness, if only I could move. I would have done anything to make her smile, this perfect imperfect stranger.

She opened her mouth, and I and the world waited to hear her.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Promise

Here follows the first of several parts of the last tale of the whole "promise" saga (Can you say "awkward sentence? Sure, I knew you could!). I won't promise that this is the end of the subject, but I think it is.

I was young. I was tired. My spirit was worn, ragged, patched, worn again. I was feeling mighty thin on enthusiasm for life.

I'd endured abuse, abandonment, bullying, and being outcast in my short life - more than most people deal with in eighty years. I knew then and I know now that people have suffered far worse (go read Crystal's story and you'll see), and I have never denied that I had a bizarre, wonderful, very privileged upbringing...but I was just done with the mess.

I was sick, sick, sick of it, all of it, and I wanted out.

I didn't want to die, mind you - I just didn't want to keep living the life I knew, and I couldn't see any other way out of it.

I'd always felt like I had no control over my life - I didn't get to say no, to decide anything. I had to do what was demanded of me because that's what kids did.

I wanted to control something.

I was young.

I went into the woods with a knife and a plan.

Ah, plans. The best laid plans, and all that.

I knelt beneath a fine old tree and felt such a calm, such a peace. It was quiet, and I could smell the sunlight on the pine needles, feel the warmth on my skin, hear traffic in the distance sounding like a river flowing by. Above me, a deeply blue sky patched with bright, white clouds. Oh, the quiet was blissful - if I could make the world this peaceful, this free of the constant noise and rush...if I could make my mind quiet like this...

It was a good, sharp knife. Two edges. Sturdy handle. I knelt and held the handle between my knees, blade up. I was going to run my wrists up it in one go, lengthwise - crosswise would only result in shallow cuts and possible damaged tendons, and I wanted something more than a life full of explanations and pity.

Here, we depart reality a little. Only...we don't. You'll see.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mabon

There were three men came out of the West,
Their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow,
John Barleycorn must die...

Summer is past. The grain stood tall and golden in the field, awaiting its fate.

They let him stand till midsummer's day,
Till he looked both pale and wan,
And little Sir John's grown a long, long beard
And so become a man...


Harvest came, harvest is done. This is the last of it. After the Autumnal Equinox, whatever is left in the fields is for the gods. If the harvesters were quick and conscientious, there will only be one last shock of grain or corn, bound carefully and placed with pride for the Gods of field and farm.

They've hired men with scythes so sharp,
To cut him off at the knee,
They've rolled him and tied him by the waist
Serving him most barbarously...


There is bread in plenty, and grapes for wine. Fruits and nuts are in and preserved, and meats and cheeses, too.

The nights are chill, but we have fires to warm us.

Winter is not yet upon us; we have time to make snug our homes before true cold comes down on us.

It is Autumn, a time to rest, to look ahead and calculate our provisions - have we set aside enough? Must we look to the woods and our neighbors to make up any shortfalls? Must we call upon the sacrificial King, who will rise up again come spring and begin the cycle anew?

This is the last of the Earthen or harvest holidays, a time for reflection on what we have reaped, on what we will sow. We don't have to plant, to weed, to worry and wait. We may rest, now, until Spring spreads her greening over the land. It's not yet the hungry time, not yet the lean time - it is the time of content, of plenty, of settling in and waiting without fear - we have enough.

And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl--
And he's brandy in the glass,
And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl
Proved the strongest man at last.

I wish you a full larder, a full heart, and a full measure of content on this Mabon day.

Blessed Be.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Aftermath of Angst (Following up on "I Promise...")

See? I told you I'd post about it...because I know you were holding your breath, just waiting. Hey, nothing's wrong with my ego - it's the rest of me that's nuts!
~~~~~

As for that pivotal night, something good came of it. The other relief houseparent had realized the oversight that afternoon and (on her own time, with her own money) bought some strawberries just for me. Beautiful, crimson, perfect, she was careful to choose the very best ones. She didn't say anything about them, hoping that the forgetful woman would at least make a minimal effort. Vain hope, that.

When I stormed off into the woods, Heidi followed me. Yes, that was her name, the thoughtful one, Heidi. She'll never read this, and if she does, well - she should be known for her kindness. She waited a few minutes (she knew where I'd go before I did) and then she followed me, carrying that pint of strawberries, through the woods and to my destination - another teacher's lodging. I won't use his name only because I named my son for him some eighteen years later, and I won't post my son's real name online.

In his room, I cried out the bitter disappointment over this and every other broken promise - promises of being a family, of having normalcy, of love and safety. I didn't know it, but I was also sobbing for the broken promise that the adults in my life would protect me from human evils.

Heidi waited a few minutes outside the other teacher's room before knocking. He let her in with some relief - dear man that he was, he wasn't in any way prepared for a hysterical teenager babbling about rice cakes but torn by some deeper, unspoken thing.

Heidi held me and let me have my cry, told me how sorry she was that the other teacher had been so careless, and wistfully added that she wished I hadn't stormed away before she (Heidi) could show me what she'd gotten for me when she learned of the oversight. She offered me the strawberries, and I cried again - this time because of that loving, gentle woman's kindness.

She and the teacher whose rooms I'd invaded were possibly the best people I'd know, up to that point. Don't get me wrong - I loved my Mum and dad, my brother, my grandparents - but at that time, at that age, for a variety of reasons, I hadn't seen a lot of compassion, a lot of tolerance, a lot of understanding (or at least effort towards understanding) from the people to whom I was related. My whole family was (and to some extent still is) a big old tangled mess, and if I'm the only one who admits to my madness, well...that doesn't mean I'm the only one who has it (I won't say I suffer from it - I don't. I like crazy - they keep a room there for me and my face is on the currency). They also had no idea some of the things I'd experienced, because next to a promise? A secret is something I know how to keep.

That night, in that room, I felt like someone loved and cared for me despite my many glaring imperfections. I was good enough, even though I was angry and dared to act on that anger. Someone thought I deserved a little care, not because it would gain them anything (because it wouldn't...all it would mean was trouble, since they weren't punishing me and I really shouldn't be in a male teacher's rooms) or because they wanted to buy my silence or sooth their guilt - just because they were decent people.

I credit them with reattaching my humanity to the rest of me...because I really could have gone the sociopath route with very little effort. They didn't give me my soul, but they bandaged the poor tattered thing and gave freely of themselves to the healing of it.

In a dark, tiny, crowded teacher's rooms, I ate the best strawberries ever grown and tried to get a damn grip, and the two adults in the room didn't chastise, didn't lecture, didn't make me feel guilty or wrong for having an emotional self - they shared the berries (at my insistence) and reassured me that it was OK to be angry (although throwing food at a teacher's head wasn't exactly how they'd suggest I handle that anger), that it was OK to be hurt, and that the other teacher was wrong when she made it clear that a broken promise meant nothing.

I didn't evolve my attitude toward keeping promises that night - that came after, from books and stories of honor, from the two teachers and other fine people who didn't talk...they showed. They did. It was my thoughts on breaking promises that crystallized, and my attitude towards promises made.

For losing my temper, however righteously, I was punished. I understood and accepted that. I never bothered trying to like the teacher who was such a bitch - this wasn't the only time she'd been a complete cow (and not just to me - she was equally horrid to the other kids, too).

The other two teachers and I didn't mention the strawberries, or our chat. That was between us. I'd found two allies that night, though, two friends that I cherish to this day.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Doing the Bump(er)

Buckle up - it makes it harder for the aliens to suck you out of your seat.

I promise (maybe).

I read this over at Noble Pig, and it reminded me of when I was a kid and one of my (many, many, no really, I can't count them all) quirks; I don't make promises.

Not often, anyway.

When someone does manage to wrangle a promise out of me, I'll promise to try, but not to do. I won't make a promise I am not certain of keeping - if I think weather, time, humanity, or my own perfidy will keep me from keeping my word...I won't give my word.

Promises flew through the air like popcorn from a lidless hot-air popper when I was a kid. I can't begin to tell you how many trips to Disney World were promised by my grandmother as rewards for good grades and/or behavior - but I can tell you that I went once, with someone who never promised we'd go, just showed up one day and asked Mum if he could borrow me and my brother for adventures in the home of the rodent with a side jaunt to Cape Canaveral (Thanks, GDH - that was awesome). Other than the one person who'd never promised to take us anywhere, the trips never happened. When I was six, I really believed the promises...then I cottoned on.

From my grandmother I learned that people make promises because it's more convenient than being honest, because they want something from you.

Now, I am not referring to mistakes like mixing up dates or times, or when something catastrophic happens and things can't be avoided.

Nope. I'm talking about promising your ten-year-old daughter that you are coming to visit her at boarding school this weekend and not showing up. And she refrained for going roller-skating with the rest of the dorm because she was waiting for you. So instead, she spent Saturday in a tree coming to the conclusion that she meant absolutely zero to you. That's what I mean.

If it happened only once, that would be one thing - but more than thirty times in four years? Umm...that's a pattern, a habit.

From my father, I learned that promising is easier than telling someone they mean less to you than the party, the boat, the hunting trip, the inconvenience of the effort of keeping that promise.

I was probably fourteen when the last straw hit me. It was such a stupid thing, really - my grandmother decided I wasn't fucked up in the head enough and maybe an eating disorder and an unhealthy attitude towards food were just the things I needed, so she placed me on a special diet. Easy for her to do - I lived at a boarding school where she didn't have to implement this bizarre diet - the staff did. Bless their hearts.

I was seriously limited in my dining options, since I wasn't permitted to consume anything with wheat, oats, sugars, yeast, or anything remotely resembling "tasty".

One night a week, we planned our own meals. One week, the other kids decided to have root beer floats for desert. I didn't say anything, just knew I wouldn't have any. As usual, I would probably just leave the room.

One of the relief house-parents knew about my restrictions and offered to get me some special ice cream - I couldn't have a float, but at least I'd have a special treat, too. Since I'd been living on rice cakes, tofu, and tree bark for months, I was happy to believe in her promises.

The anticipated night came, and we had our dinner (lasagna for everyone else, salad with no dressing for me)(yes, some eighteen years later I remember - that garlic bread smelled good!). I didn't mind that I couldn't have lasagna or garlic bread - I had a treat waiting for me.

Or...did I?

Yeah, umm...it seems that a certain relief house parent (I don't have room to explain this, here. maybe some other time) had forgotten.

So while the other kids were digging in to ice cream and pouring root beer, I was quietly waiting for my promised Tofutti. A plate was thrust under my nose. A plate with rice cakes on it. As an added bonus, some old, rancid, organic, no sugar added, stir the oil back in every time you open it peanut butter had been swiped across the tops. Festive.

And definitely not on par with Tofutti, ice cream, or root beer floats. I asked what had happened to the Tofutti she'd promised. She casually said "Oh, I forgot about that" and she made it clear that it meant nothing to her. I started to cry. Yes, I know, it was a stupid thing to cry over...but she'd promised. I'd looked forward to it for a week, endured meals I wouldn't feed to the worst of humanity knowing I had this one small thing in my future. I mentioned that she promised, and she basically told me to get over it, I was being childish (Umm, hello? I was a child!!), and it didn't matter.

When I declined the offered taste treat, I was called ungrateful - ungrateful for the effort this woman had made in un-bagging some stale old rice cakes and topping them with something akin to baby shit but with less appeal.

I took the plate, stared at it for a moment, and did something I'd never before done. I lost my shit. I threw the plate at the woman (I missed, but the offending cakes did stick to the wall in a most satisfying manner)(organic peanut butter apparently makes a fine stand-in for wallpaper paste, should you run out) and left the dorm. She yelled at me to stop, and I kept right on going.

I'd never rebelled against anything, never lost id like that before. It was a revelation. She stood in the doorway screaming, and I kept right on walking, over the lawn, past the big hexagonal school building, and into the woods. If I had known the word "fuck" at the time, I think I might have used it.

That was the last time I believed in a promise. Oh, sure, I'll hope that someone means it, but I don't put any faith in the vow - I don't trust promises, and (sadly) I am rarely disappointed in their breaking. I am (more sadly) usually stunned in their keeping.

I, myself, will not be forsworn. I'll die first. That's not hyperbole - I mean it. If I promise a thing, I will kill myself keeping my word. I have not broken any of the rare promises I've made in life, nor will I. I may ask to be released from a promise, but I won't break it. I won't disappoint my son the way I was disappointed - I won't wound him with that kind of carelessness. I won't do that to anyone.

Hell, I even hedged my wedding vows, promising not to love forever, but to remain as long as love lasted. No "'til death do you part" for me. Nope. It was "As long as love lasts". I won't promise forever...won't even promise next week. I'll promise the moment I'm in and no more.

I could go on about the promise that's kept me kicking through this old life, and the aftermath of my tempestuous, teen-angsty blowup over Tofutti (today, I would consider it a favor if you didn't give me any)(and doubly favored am I if you never, ever offer me anything with tofu it), but this has gone on enough.

I'll post that other stuff another time. I promise.

Oh, and? Noble Pig didn't break a promise - she made a simple mistake from which she and her child will recover and learn. I just feel the need to point out, again, that it's not the same...because she's a terrific woman, a loving Mum, and human. It was the disappointment that reminded me...that's all...

Friday, September 19, 2008

About That Rabbit...

When I lived in New Hampshire, I had occasion to visit an old-fashioned candy shop - the kind that made their candies on the premises rather than selling mass produced fare.

Granite State Candy Shop, in Concord New Hampshire, if it's still there. It smelled heavenly, and fascinated me.

Around Easter, they would put out chocolate rabbits of all sizes. One of them was the King of all the bunnies. I don't know if it weighed fifty pounds, but I always imagined it did.

I often wished I could have one of those giant chocolate beasts.

Then I grew up, and largely forgot about them.

Until.

Until one day I was at an event with my band and found myself admiring (from afar) one of the attendees. She was (and still is) a handsome woman, with strong arms, an honest, open smile, and a free laugh. She works copper into beautiful things (I have some of her wind chimes hanging outside my front door). Yep, I was a wee smitten.

And I realized that I wouldn't know what to do with her when I got her home - kind of like that fifty-pound chocolate rabbit at the candy store. Sure, you may think you want it...you may be delighted to have it...and you may even start in on it with the best of intentions...but somewhere along the way, you will realize you can't finish things. It looks good from a distance, but really? I can't handle it.

So now, when I see someone yummy (Mike Rowe, I'm lookin' at you), I may be heard to say "fifty-pound chocolate rabbit" and laugh. I know they look good from a distance, but I also know I wouldn't know what to do with them when I got them home.

Still...it doesn't hurt to look, and dream...

Oh, and that woman? The one who works copper and laughs so beautifully? She's in my band, now. Sweet!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dam, Trees

Mum has a pond on the land to which she belongs (we don't own land, it owns us). It is not a Nature-made pond, but is the result of a dam. She didn't build the dam - prospectors made it during the Dahlonega gold rush, long before she was born. One of these days, I'll bring my gold-panning pan up there and play around, see what I find...after all, they must have had a good reason to do all that work!

The pond is close to the boundary.

Someone bought the land adjacent to her and decided to build in the woods. They decided to cut down lovely old trees and place their house withing sight of the pond - and definitely closer to the boundary lines than local codes permit. They are almost on the line. So much for little bothersome things like setbacks.

See the house? And the garage? I took this while standing beside one of the little trees we planted.

That caged tree on the left? I was standing a few feet to the left of that one.

Mum was a bit put off by the proximity of these rude, loud, inconsiderate people who broke laws and ignored building codes. She wouldn't have minded sharing her pond...if they'd been decent about it. Instead, they paved, cut, built where they shouldn't, and generally had a "fuck you" attitude about things. The feel like they are entitled to the view, law and local ordinance be damned.

Well.

Really, it doesn't do to rile Mum. She's not all sweetness and light like me (you hush, T...I hear you snickering).

She thought about how to get back at these bad neighbors.

I was all for an old, rusted out Ford, painted pink and chartreuse with purple spots, set just on her side of the property line. And giant, solar-powered light-up flamingos. And bright spotlights that stayed on all night long - you know, in case of marauding Yetis or something.

She laughed, but how would we get the Ford down there? And we couldn't find flamingos horrible enough for her needs. The light would disturb the wildlife, too...and we don't want to punish the creatures who live in the woods, just the ones in the house.
What to do, what to do?

Trees.

She decided to plant trees.

First, a line of curly-willows near the pond - they will provide shade and somewhere for birds to perch, and if they overhang the pond then frogs and turtles will have places to hang about without fearing the herons.

Next will come the Leland Cyprus trees. They grow tall, wide, and swift. She'll plant them closer to the boundary, and within a few years they'll completely block all view of the pond from that other house. They will be green and thick even in Winter. Mum won't have the lovely woods back again, but at least she won't have to see that house sitting there, hunched on the property line, staring down at her when she sits or walks beside the pond.

These folks thought they could scoff at the law and have their way...but they didn't reckon on Mum's creative streak.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Wanna Be A Cowboy...


Dig the purple boots.

I've been feeling out of sorts for a week. Last Tuesday, I very much wanted a nap, but the constantly ringing phone wouldn't let me. Sigh.

At one point, Bird crawled into my bed, snuggled up, and started chatting with me. He told me "Oh, I love you so much and I hope I always will, and that some day you can make my dreams come true."

"Well, little man, I love you, too. I wish I could make dreams come true, but I don't know any way besides to work at them and keep dreaming."

"I am going to be a doctor when I grow up."

"You can be a doctor if you study hard and are willing to work at it. Doctors have to know how to read and write, and understand math, chemistry, and anatomy too."

"And they also have to know how to take babies out of people."

Ahem. "Yes, they do, although babies are usually pretty good about finding their own way out."

"Did I come out of you?"

"Yes, after a doctor performed a special operation to help you out because you weren't interested in coming out on your own."

"OK. I'll be a doctor, but I'm going to need doctor gloves that keep my hands clean. My train gloves (leather engineer's gloves in his size, sent to him by a kind engineer) are OK for digging in a garden - because you have to always remember to wear gloves when you dig and garden, right Mommy? - but they aren't any good for doctoring. So I'll need gloves for that, for when I take babies out of people." Way to think ahead, kid.

At this point, a nap was clearly not in the cards, so I asked him if he'd like to take a walk. He was so excited, he was going to run right outside in his boxers. Good grief, have you seen a five-year-old in plaid boxers? I didn't want to inflict that on the neighbors, so I talked him into getting dressed. We'd had a bit of rain, so he wanted the boots. When we got outside, it was sprinkling lightly, so he ran back in for the hat.

We walked around the neighborhood, looking at houses and chatting about the things we saw. The rain fell harder, plinking on his hat. He held my hand almost the whole time. He told me maybe he didn't want to be a doctor after all, but instead a race driver. I reminded him that he could be both, but he was pretty sure you couldn't be a doctor and a race driver at the same time. I told him I knew a few racing docs, and he had to think about that. Then he decided he would be a cowboy instead, since he already has two cows at home - foam toy ones, mind you, but they are cows.

Back at home, I came in through the garage, but he had to come in through the front door. He rang the bell and waited to be invited in - whereupon he informed me that he was a cowboy, a six-year-old cowboy, and he'd like a quesadilla, please. He ate that and a grilled cheese sandwich, and two apples, all the while asking me about my cats and how to make a grilled cheese sandwich, and about my son. He was especially interested in my son. When I asked about his family, he told me they were all doctors, and he didn't have anywhere to live because they were looking for a home, so could he stay here?

Yep, I reckon.

He sustained the imaginary character all the way until bedtime, and I was hard put not to giggle about it.

I am glad I bought him that hat - he's been trying to take mine (black leather, braided black leather hatband, bought on sale because there's no way I would ever pay full price for it) so I bought him his own when I was at the rodeo (it was part of the Chattahoocheewhatsis Fair) last Friday. Now I think I'll have to spring for some cowboy boots and some sidearms. The horse will have to be a broom, though - I am twenty years removed from the last time I took care of a horse, and I pretty much only remember which end the food goes in, and which end what's left of the food comes out.

At bedtime, he said "Goodnight, ma'am", tipped his hat, and moseyed on into his room.

Now where did he learn that??

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

You May Be Spending Too Much Time Online When...

...you start dreaming you are at the homes of people whose blogs you read. No kidding. I spent Last night in two places - my bed at home and at Pioneer Woman's newly refurbished Lodge (it's not finished, yet, but it sure looked good in my head) where she was having a Halloween shindig for a few hundred of her closest friends.

I can't even begin to describe how weird it was. Not PW...the dream.

Think I'm online too much?

Worth the Effort?

Sometimes I wonder if it's worth the rehearsals, the time, the effort to keep on with the music. We're a small band in a tiny niche. Within our niche, we are small (but well liked) fish. When it comes to The Music Scene, we aren't even poppy-seeds on the lemon-poppy seed muffin on a secretary's forgotten breakfast muffin going stale on the corner of her desk in the office of the smallest indie-producer known to music-kind.

Yep, we're that small.

We'll keep at it until no one wants to hear us; I suspect we'll keep at it even after no one wants to hear us, because we love making music together.

Still, much though we love it, fun though it is...sometimes I do question if it's worth it.

And then we get a MySpace message, an e-mail, or someone tells us a story.

"I bought your CD and wore it out - every time life got rough, I listened to it."

"I listened to your CD when I was getting cancer treatment - you got me through radiation and chemo, and now I can dance to you again."

"I wasn't going to live through last year. I made up my mind that it wasn't worth it any more. I changed my mind while I was listening to you guys."

"Your songs lift my spirit."

"Your songs brought me closer to my spiritual self, made me stronger, give me something to dance to."

It's an odd thing to hear your voice floating out someone's car window as they drive away. We are in people's cars, motor homes, houses, iPods, computers, heads and hearts.

To touch one life is a wonder - to touch dozens is an honor beyond words. So yeah, even if we don't ever make it big or get the big bucks...its worth it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Yes, It's All About Meme

Picked this up over at Writer Dad, had to answer...you know the drill...

1) Where were you ten years ago?
*Reeling from the breakup of the singing group I was in, trying to help pick up the pieces and form the nascent beginnings of the band I'm in today.
*Just beginning to date T.
*Living in a four bedroom condo (all to myself, I'm that greedy for space!).
*Managing a daycare center, performing much like a director, a secretary, and a teacher on a part-time assistant substitute's salary. Yeah, that lasted.

2) What’s on your to do list today?
*Blog.
*Educate the Evil Genius.
*Work on one of the seemingly innumerable stories I have in the works with an eye to finishing one sometime before the next century.
*Educate the Evil Genius some more.
*Bake something, anything.
*More edjucatin'.
*Walk, go to the gym, or boogie with the kid to get the blood out of my arse and circulating through the rest of me.
*Consider doing laundry, laugh hysterically, do same with dishes and general housekeepery.
*Try to convince the Universe that I really need to win the bazillion-dollar lottery.
*Laugh with the Universe as it mocks me.
*Try not to be so wordy, fail.
*Read stuff to self.
*Read stuff to Evil Genius.
*Try not to dump Evil Genius on his tiny bottom when he elbows my boob again because he got excited about something we're reading.
*Nap often, at great length, with tremendous focus.
*Stop feeling like crap.
*Give in to the Zen of feeling like crap.
*Fill bottomless pit (read "feed child").
*Blog more.

Busy, me.

3) What if you were a Billionaire?
*Hire a stunt-boob for when the Evil Genius gets excited about reading.
*There are some people who have made all the difference when it came to choosing life over death - I would like to give them an easier life to thank them for helping me have any life at all.
*Create education and retirement funds for family members.
*Create a trust fund for the Evil Genius and not tell him about it so he's not spoiled by money (or the idea of money) and knows how to do for himself.
*Buy acres and acres of land to get lost on, build dream house in the middle, and make it my haven when I'm not traveling.
*Fund the arts.
*Write. Keep writing. Write some more.
*Find a way to help translate the things I've experienced - the mental illness, the abuse, the unadulterated misery, the beauty, and the love - into something that might help someone else find their way out of the swamp...because even though I wish I was alone in here, I know very well that I'm not, and why shouldn't we give each other road maps when we can??
*Buy a new body and have my brain transplanted. Oh, wait, they can't do that yet, can they? Dang. OK. Build a home gym, hire a trainer and a shrink, get to the bottom of my bottom (and other really big bits), and haul myself (and my shrinking arse) into a whole new level of healthy existence. You're welcome to join me, the gym will be big enough for all comers.
*Travel. A lot. With friends. Alone. See, experience, be in my global community.
*Am I out of money, yet?

4) Five places you have lived?
*Little Compton, RI, in a grand old Georgian Revival house that I would live in today if I could.
*An un-air-conditioned apartment in Florida where we caught lizards outside and released them inside so they'd eat the roaches because we couldn't afford an exterminator.
*A garden shed that had a cot, a sort of plank for a desk, and me. Peed in the bushes, read by candle light, best summers ever.
*A dormitory in New Hampshire with a handful of other kids, heated by wood stove, out in the woods, best school ever.

5) Three bad habits? (What, only three?)
*I eat too much, too often, and all the wrong things.
*I say (and believe) terrible things about myself.
*I cannot seem to finish many of the things I've started, but I do just fine starting more.

6) Snacks you like? (OK, I am answering this one just for this week, because these things change too often to be answered concretely)
* Mini Twix bars.
*Angel food cake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
*Celery stuffed with cream cheese and olives.
*Baby carrots and cucumber slices.
*Fudgecicles.
*Jell-O.
*Pringles.
*Popcorn.
*Cheese. Mmm, cheese...

7) Who will you tag?
No one. Everyone. Whatever...

Yesterday...

Mum wanted to clear weeds from the dam and plant some curly willows by the pond. I'll tell you about the dam and why she wants the trees there another time. T started at the end of the dam closest to the path through the woods, and Mum, Bird and I wandered through the arse-high grass to the other end of the dam to get plantin'.
First, we had to clear away some weeds that were much larger than the weeds I'm used to, strange plants with fluffy tufts that rained down on us whenever the plants were disturbed - which was often. Umm...any idea what these things are?
This is the view that the trees will enjoy (we hope) when they are grown. Nice, huh?

Even Bird got in on the action. Note the height of this weed - it could take Bird down in a heartbeat of it was feelin' feisty.

While Mum went back to the house for a shovel (we had our hands full of trees and cages on the way down and couldn't manage the shovel, too)(also, better her than me - it's a haul from the house to the pond, and it's only downhill one way - to the pond from the house)(bless her, she brought water back, too...it was hot and sticky work), Bird and I decided that I should pull the giant, white-puff flinging weeds and he would haul them to the randomly placed pile of displaced vegetation. I am still picking seed-fluff things out of my hair.

Bird chose a tree to plant, and Mum got to diggin'.

Dig, Mum, dig!! Good thing we're near a pond - it's been dry enough that the clay soil we enjoy (enjoy being a euphemism for "can't get out of our clothes or from under our nails and it stains everything and not much will grow in it but weeds") can bake hard and be nearly impossible to dig into without copious amounts of explosives.

Bird planted the tree and told it "Grow, little tree, grow."

Mum caged the tree - these curly willows are wild, I tell ya!! OK, really, the cage is so the deer don't eat the poor helpless tree before it can grow into a whomping willow and have a fighting chance against those vicious herbivores.

Eat your heart out, Mike Rowe. I'd like to pause a moment here, to mention that my family is pretty wonderful about my penchant for photographing their odd behavior and posting it on the Internet. Mum even struck this pose twice so I could be certain had the shot - and she knew I would be putting it here! When I said "That is so going on the blog!" she just laughed. Her hands got that way from carefully crumbling the clay over the planting soil - it may be sticky and hard to get off one's hands, but it's also brilliant stuff for holding in moisture.

Meanwhile, Bird and T had to go fetch more line for the weed-eater - there are some gnarly things growing on that dam, in among the grass, and they were tearing up the nylon line on the trimmer. Halfway across the dam, they found a turtle sunning itself in the recently shortened grass. They felt compelled to "rescue" it from it's happy, sunny afternoon - mostly, I suspect, because boys and turtles go hand in hand, and T figured it would be better to move the poor critter so Bird wouldn't keep tormenting it with his sweet curiosity and endless chatter. That pulling back into the shell thing? It isn't afraid - it's trying to shut out the verbal assault! Those are T's hands, by the way. Mine are bigger but less hairy.

Bird was tickled to set his hapless new friend by the pond, and even more tickled when it dove into the water with a plop and swam away, trail marked by tiny bubbles popping along the surface.

T couldn't get the weed-eater to start after refueling, so Bird had to help. Mum and I finished planting the trees along the pond.

I shot this while standing halfway up the stairs to the trail. Those grey pillars at the far shore? The caged trees. Those two white-shirted forms on the left at the far-end of the dam? Mum and T. You wouldn't see them if T hadn't cleared the dam - those weeds were tall!
Later this week, I'll post some more pictures from our Sunday at Mum's - the path from house to pond is lined with all kinds of delightful things, and there's some terrific stuff growing in those woods. Also, I will explain the fifty-pound chocolate rabbit from a prior entry (and that may be one of my shortest entries ever!).

Say What?

We were up at Mum's today. We met her for lunch at a terrific little place near her house. Bird needed to use the restroom.

He said "The spawn needs to go potty."

Yes. Yes he did.

Who says he never listens??

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Flat Broke and Busted

It sucks being broke.

Not so broke that we can't afford groceries or power or the occasional jaunt through the drive-through (our answer to fine dining, these days), but the kind of broke where I can't necessarily help someone who needs it.

I'd like to make a donation to Crystal's Paying It Forward For Kids fund, but the money isn't there.

I'd like to support a fellow (and better) author by buying one of Writer Dad's Wee books, but I just can't.

I wanted to help out with this family by bidding on something, but...couldn't.

There are so many places that I could donate money and feel really good about it - certainly better than I will for spending five bucks on a solo, venti, mocha frappuccino with whip - and it'd be better for my arse...if only I had the cash.

Sigh.

Right now, we have to focus on replacing T's car...his Toyota is about to require more than we can put into it...and for what it would cost to make repairs, we can buy a new (really used) vehicle...and the payments (repayments, since someone amazing is making us a loan) will make for some interesting budgeting for a few months while we sort them out.

Double sigh.

So what would you do with a few extra dollars - after the new car, kitchen makeover (oh, we could SO use one of those, too), and a vacation, I mean?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Who Are You, Again?

I grew up in New England, lived there until I was fifteen when I moved to Georgia.

I didn't necessarily like it here, at first - it was hot, humid, and people spoke funny. They acted funny, too. And they ate funny food. Honestly, have you ever seen a grit??

They used strange language and ran their words together, and the accent...the accent was...awful! People speaking like they had a mouth full of marbles, and slow like they had all day to say "yes" or "no".

I learned to like it, and then to love it, over time. Now, while I miss a proper Winter and Summers under one-hundred degrees, I do like it here. Oh, and Autumn. Real Autumn, with trees blazing out the change of seasons with trumpet blasts of colour. Here in Georgia, it is more subtle...less a trumpet and more a gentle caress of harp strings - ochre rather than gold, rust rather than crimson.

I discovered barbecue - up North, barbecue meant hot dogs and burgers on the grill, not portions of pig or cow slow-cooked with delectable sauces and served with fried okra (Oh, how I adore fried okra. I'm still not eating a grit, though.) - and country-fried steak with white gravy(White! Who knew there was white gravy??). Sweet tea. Cobbler. I have embraced NASCAR and Wrasslin' (well, not embraced, exactly, but I can and do have fun with them), peaches in all their glory and pecan pie. I am OK with being a little white trash, a little redneck, and a lot comfortable with my nature.

I finally came to embrace "y'all", too. Most languages have a plural form of "you", so why shouldn't we? It's a useful term, just please don't make the mistake of saying "you all". It's "y'all".

I never had an accent when I lived up North. not, really...when I moved to Georgia, no one said "you must be a Yankee" or anything. They thought I was from the Midwest. These days, I may or may not sound Southern. I'm not pressed...sometimes, sounding Southern is useful - it's easy to underestimate someone when you assume they're an idiot.

I will frequently say (or type) "Aww, sugar..." and I mean it to show warmth, empathy, and a sense of welcome, to convey sympathy and a willingness to listen and be a friend if that's what's wanted.

One of the best things about living in the South is this: if you have a poor memory for names (as I have), almost everyone can be "sugar", "honey", "sweetie", or "darling" without offense. What a blessing when you don't (or rarely) forget a face, but names...names are slippery things that sometimes don't last a few seconds before they're forgotten.

So stop on by for a glass of tea and some biscuits and gravy...and maybe a little bit of Sugar.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blessed Be


To my friends in Texas - I am holding you in my thoughts as Ike trundles along towards you. I hope for your safety and pray for your wellbeing. Blessed Be.

Oh, and by the way? Squeeeee!!

Last night I learned that Mike Rowe ('scuse me while I wipe the drool from the corner of my mouth) is going to be a couple of miles from my house, shooting at Chateau Elan.

Do you think he knows I live near here? And he's hoping to entice me out of my home? I bet he's hoping he'll wander down the street and I'll see him and offer to take him away from it all..."it all" meaning a successful show, popularity, and income...and into my life of hum-drummery.

Hey, who wouldn't want that?

T understands that the whole monogamy/marriage thing may have to go right out the window if I could score me some Mike Rowe...although...Mike has a lady...a very lucky lady...hmm...so that could be problematic.

Also, the set will be closed. I don't care...I'll tunnel in, if I have to. Or...not. Have you ever tried to get Georgia red clay out from under your fingernails? Egads...do I care enough about catching a glimpse of one of my very favorite TV personalities to endure that? I'll have to think about it...

Dear Goddess, thank you for scrummy, handsome, dirty, dirty Mike Rowe. Sigh...

There, how was that for blathering fandom??

The truth is, I wouldn't know what to do with Mike Rowe. He's a fifty-pound chocolate rabbit. I'll explain that some other time - but trust me, he is. Oh, well - I'll still get a kick out of watching him do something dirty at the Chateau...it's always fun to see the place where you live through the distortion of the television lens.

Heh...if he wants a really dirty job, he should stop by Casa de Crazy and try to sort out my sanity.

The Silent Blue

September twelfth, seven years ago...

The sky over my house was empty of anything built by man. It was blue, clear, and silent - no jet roar, prop buzz, or rotor thud. No sulphur yellow-grey creeping up from the horizon, smirching the dome of my world. Only nature and her noises, and the distant sound of the almost-empty highway (people were still stunned, sitting still and waiting to breathe again).

It was a hopeful day - maybe they would find someone alive, maybe they would find a pocket, a miracle, a place where angels, fairies, saints, goddesses, superheroes or ancestors had held up twisted metal and rent concrete, had turned them aside, had extinguished fire and cleared poison from the air to make a little haven in which hundreds huddled, simply waiting to be discovered by clever eyes and ears. Maybe.

As the day stretched to the breaking point, no havens, great or small, appeared. No portals to other worlds, no dimensional bubbles, opened and released victims and heroes to the ones waiting on this side with a hopeless sort of hope for another living soul, another survivor, another reason to send up a ragged cheer and to reach into the murky well of possibility again for more, more, more.

I felt powerless and lost, hurt and angry, and bewildered and driven to seek answers.

I went out into the sunlight, looked up and felt peaceful. Empty of mankind, the sky was a blessing above, a place to lose myself; I stared up and let my eyes go wide and watery, head tilted back so all I saw was the endless open; never blinking, mind unfocused, released, all of my being an exhalation - I felt my feet lift from the ground, gravity unleashing me for all of an eternal moment to float and dissipate into the upward pull, uninterrupted by reminders of anything wrong with this quiet, the empty, clean morning sky, the silent blue.

For a moment, reality relinquished me to the crossroads of all-that-was and all-that-could-be, and I was full to bursting with all-things-being-now-and-never-and-always.

Soon enough I found my way back downward to feet firmly planted, a crick in my neck and a salty stiffness on my cheeks. The peace, though...the peace lasted. My sky wasn't clouded with still-smoking, dust-choking clouds of the gods only know what...I was far, far away from that with an empty mind, an aching heart, and the certain knowledge that things would start up again...if not exactly as before then much like...and that there would be a terrible price paid for the previous day's events.

We have yet to finish the tally.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering

Some were victims

Some were heroes

They are gone

But not forgotten.


No...
Not forgotten.


"Only the dead have seen an end to war." - Plato

Edit - I wrote the following as a response to someone else's memorial post, and I decided I wanted to place it here, too:

The place where they once stood reminds me of the child who, struck in the face by the schoolyard bully, has lost his two front teeth. It's an obscene and violent emptiness that demands filling, demands something to remedy that wrongness, that absence of once-present substance.

Whenever I see the skyline, I feel that empty place keenly, and I don't even live there.

I keep hoping that from the ashes, the phoenix will rise; all these years later, it isn't triumph I see, but division, sorrow, anger, and confusion swirling in a quagmire of indecision, derision, and the constant tug-of-war of "remember" versus "forget".

Shade and Sweetwater,
K (who wept when they fell, and prayed as hard as ever she did that the people had gotten out - because anything else was too horrible to contemplate)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You Lookin' at Meme?

I ran across this one over at the delightful Magpie Musing. It's quite simple, and it's a new one for me - and y'all know I can't pass up a new one!

The rules are:

1) Copy this list into your blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you've eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here linking to your results.

And the list (bonus parenthetical comments included because I can't just give a simple answer) :

1. Venison
2. Nettle Tea (not very fond of it, really)
3. Huevos Rancheros (I have much liking for good huevos)
4. Steak Tartar (I have eaten this for politeness' sake, but would not do so again)
5. Crocodile (no, but I've eaten Alligator)
6. Black Pudding
7. Cheese Fondue (and I'd (fon)do it again, too!!)
8. Carp (I don't know about this one - I've eaten a lot of fish, and didn't always know what it was when it was still swimming)
9. Borscht
10. Baba Ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J Sandwich
14. Aloo Gobi
15. Hot Dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black Truffle (I don't care for truffles. I know, what's wrong with me??)
18. Fruit Wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed Pork Buns
20. Pistachio Ice Cream
21. Heirloom Tomatoes
22. Fresh Wild Berries
23. Foie Gras (I don't care for innards, and only ate them as a child because I was given no choice - they are too pungent for my taste)
24. Rice and Beans
25. Brawn or Head Cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet Pepper (I don't know that I'd try this...but I don't know that I wouldn't)
27. Dulce de Leche
28. Oysters (Cooked only, thank you)
29. Baklava
30. Bagna Cauda (I've never had this, but after looking it up - I think I need to try it)
31. Wasabi Peas
32. Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bowl
33. Salted Lassi (Never had it, although it sounds...interesting...)
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root Beer Float
36. Cognac with a Fat Cigar
37. Clotted Cream Tea (No, but I've had tea with cream...does that count?)
38. Vodka Jell-o
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried Goat
42. Whole Insects
43. Phaal (I'd eat it if pressed, but I smelled some once and my nose-hairs were singed...so unless there are lives in the balance...)
44. Goat's Milk
45. Malt Whiskey from a bottle worth $120 or more
46. Fugu (I know it's supposed to be tasty fish, but...umm...I prefer to eat things that won't kill me if the chef lost focus for a moment)
47. Chicken Tikka Masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnut
50. Sea Urchin
51. Prickly Pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty Gin Martini (Gin and my family don't get along. At all.)
58. Beer Above 8% ABV (I'm allergic to beer, so I'm forced to drink rum. Pity.)
59. Poutine (this looks like a heart-attack on a plate!)
60. Carob Chips
61. S'mores
62. Sweetbreads (Never again. Never. Again. There's only so much polite anyone can expect of me.)
63. Kaolin (Not that I know of, although it's possible it was in a medication or something)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frog's Legs
67. Beignets, Churros, Elephant Ears or Funnel Cakes (all of them, although not at the same time)
68. Haggis
69. Fried Plantain
70. Chitterlings or Andouillette (Not even on a dare, not even to be polite, I will not eat them, Sam I Am)
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and Blini (I would like to mention that I do NOT like caviar, and will avoid it at all costs...but I've eaten it so I wouldn't hurt my host's feelings)
73. Louche Absinthe
74. Gjetost or Bruntost
75. Roadkill (see chitterlings)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang Souchang
80. Bellini
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting Menu at a Three-Michelin-Star Restaurant
85. Kobe Beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo Chocolate
91. Spam (I'd rather eat roadkill topped with chitterlings)
92. Soft Shell Crab
93. Rose Harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole Poblano
96. Bagel and Lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
100. Snake

Whew - so I've had seventy out of the hundred, and would only rule out twelve-and-a-half items (some of which I've actually tried so I KNOW I don't like them). Not bad for a redneck, huh??

On firther consideration, I had a thought: "Holy crap, I will eat just about anything, won't I??"

Monday, September 8, 2008

And Now, Without Further Ado...

...I present to you the Evil Genius singing his latest hit.

Ladies and gentlemen - Golden Pickles!!!*

Golden, golden pickles
Yeah, golden pickles
Golden
Golden pickles
You gotta know about them
Or you won't know the secret
that's inside them
Which is golden pickles
you gotta know about golden, golden pickles
you really gotta try 'em,
those golden pickles
yeah, yeah, yeah,
golden pickles
That's what really makes them taste good
because they're golden, golden pickles
golden pickles
yeah, yeah
(insert vocalized drum solos)
the golden pickles
yeah
yeah, yeah,yeah
Gooooooooooolden piiiiiiickles
Yeah!!

I think we have a smash hit on our hands. Can you believe he just started singing this out of the blue?? I know! This kind of composition usually takes years of work to complete. Yep, the kid's a prodigy, for sure.

* I am SO copyrighting this, so don't even think about it!!

Be Still, My Heart

I think I found a new secret crush. Oh, wait - I guess it isn't a secret f I tell you, Internet. Umm...you won't tell anyone else, will you?

I've been reading Metro Dad for a while because I think he's brilliant...but this piece takes the cake. He's my new hero. I know he's married with an adorable Peanut, and I am married and have the Evil Genius, but I think we could make it work. Umm...as long as "make it work" actually means "I won't stalk him or be all weird and maybe I'll get to keep reading his stuff". Yeah.

Anyway, I am a little busy trying to find my poor, ragged sanity among all the dust-critters under the bed (I think it crawled under there whimpering, moaning, and nursing its wounds a few nights ago) and my flashlight doesn't reach all the way to the middle so I may have to take the drastic measure of sending the Evil Genius under there armed with only an antique french fry and shielded with a petrified circle of something that was probably horrible when it happened but is now only vaguely brown and crunchy - with a handle of braided dental floss glued on to make it easier to carry....pant, pant...so go check out Metro Dad while I get myself sorted out.

Meanwhile (don't panic, T, I'm not asking for me) does anyone know a good divorce or family attorney in PA who will work pro bono to help a man get his kids back before his horrid ex drives the poor mites right over the edge with her hatred, evil, and combined psychosis and narcissism (and their daddy with them)?? Cheers!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Let's Review

I have a fancy to tell you about some of the places I visit, locally and quasi-locally - on the off chance you wind up in the area, you might even find this a useful sort of posting.

I'll start with where Mum and I had dinner on Friday, the Blue Pacific Grill.

The Blue Pacific Grill in Clarkesville, Georgia is a Thai/Japanese fusion sort of place. They'd fit right in down in Buckhead (and probably make a lot more money down there because they could easily double their prices for that crowd), but they're nestled into a cozy spot to one side of the Clarkesville town square.

The decor is minimal - the owners opted to preserve what was an old pharmacy, using the dark wood and glass cases to display tea pots, tea cups, and a variety of wood carving and oriental art, and leaving the apothecary counter up front to serve as a bar where patrons may enjoy a glass of wine (or whatever) while they wait. A few (three or four) booths line the right hand wall and a handful of tables (ten or so) are scattered in the rest of the dining room. They can handle larger parties, but I like the feeling of intimacy one has at the individual tables.

It's not so dark that one cannot see one's companion, nor is it so bright as to be harsh - it's lovely and warm, inviting diners to take their time and enjoy a meal, conversation, perhaps a glass of wine.

I ordered the chicken satay to start, and pad Thai for my entree. Mum decided to share my satay and forgo her usual spring rolls and coconut chicken soup. Instead, she ordered a green curry with chicken and steamed rice.

They weren't terribly busy for a Friday night - we had our appetizer in minutes. The portion is generous - four skewers loaded with plump chunks of chicken, perfectly seasoned and cooked, with a small dish of peanut dipping sauce and another small dish of Thai cucumber salad (I have much love for the cucumber salad) . Just a few minutes later, we had our entrees.

The pad Thai was just fine - maybe not spectacular, but flavorful, not overcooked (oh, overcooked Pad Thai can be a horror), and it came in a bowl large enough for two to share.

Mum's curry was almost a soup - I don't know how a curry should look, so perhaps they are supposed to be that saucy. The rice soaked up the bright green sauce beautifully, though, and Mum thoroughly enjoyed her meal. Neither one of us finished our portions - these folks don't believe in skimping!

We opted out of desert this time - we were heading over to the local fair and had hopes of cotton candy (yes, yes, sophisticates, we). In the past, though, we've had the fried bananas (light, sweet, crisp, delightful) and the tempura battered fried ice cream (an interesting idea a bit lost in the execution - the batter is not sweetened, is a little thick and tough, and the ice cream was mostly melted. I filched one of Mum's bananas, that night.).

They have some Japanese hibachi meals as well, which look hearty and healthy - meat, poultry, or fish cooked on the grill with assorted vegetables and served with sauce for dipping (or, if you're Mum, liberally pouring over) the meat.

Blue Pacific has a fair wine list, but I haven't had occasion to try any of their offerings - I'm not much of a drinker, any more.

Something else I enjoy about the place - while their food is anything but small-town America, they don't bat an eye at patrons appearing in blue jeans or overalls, baseball caps, even t-shirts. The community that supports this (and several other) restaurant is a mix of retirees, farmers, and seasonal residents, sprinkled with a few college kids, a few hippies and vagabonds, some artists and one or three eccentrics. Mum may be one of the eccentrics, but you didn't hear that from me!

Right, so if you happen to be in Clarkesville and craving Thai/Japanese/Oriental food, give Blue Pacific a try!

Dinner for two including one appetizer, two entrees (with enough leftover to make another meal the next day), and tip - well under thirty bucks.

Blue Pacific Grill
(706) 839-1800 1460 Washington St
Clarkesville, GA 30523

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thoughtfetti and the Bump(er)

Holy crap...this is my four-hundred-and-first post! Yowza!
~~~~~
I spent the night at Mum's house last night so I wouldn't have to get up early this morning and drive up here - we're taking a class together later today (Learning a new crochet pattern, isn't that exciting?)(Actually, is is kinda cool)(Hush), and when we signed up for it I decided to try and make a mini-vacation out of it.

Last night, we went out to the Thai place in town, then toddled over to the Chattahoochee Somethingorother Fair to see what was on. We fully expected a high cheese-factor and were not disappointed. We had fun and I plan on writing about it in more detail later.
~~~~~
I kept Mum up late, chatting. We don't often have time to talk uninterrupted or without fear of being overheard...we haven't had a meaningful conversation in a long time. We were discussing family matters, and I may or may not share those another time.

When we went to bed, she admonished me to close the curtains so the light wouldn't bother me in the morning. I didn't. I like the light, they way it creeps through and then over the trees and out onto the field she calls a yard. I slept with my windows open so I could hear the insects in their nightly chorus. It was loverly.

I spent an hour just staring out the window, watching the sunlight creep along and admiring the leaves on the hickory tree as they semaphored in the wind.
~~~~~
Mum decided she wanted a shower just now, so I figured I'd get a quick Net fix while she did. I'm not an addict or anything. Nope, not me (That wasn't me who was online while in the control tower at Road Atlanta last weekend, and you can't prove anything!!! Umm...OK, unless you know how to do that ISP trick, and then...well...it was my evil twin, honest!!).
~~~~~
A quick bumper sticker for you:

Things just haven't been the same since that house fell on my sister.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Others Have Excuses, I Have My Reasons Why

So why do I home-school?


Or is that homeschool? Or home school?

Ahem. In no particular order, here are some (but probably not all) of the reasons:

While generally adequate, the public schools where I live aren't terrific - the children who attend them cannot answer even the most basic of questions in math, history, literature, or civics. I knew more in the fourth grade than these kids know upon graduation - and I was not a stellar student (Homework? Uh...what's homework??)

Public schools around here have become more like holding pens and less like educational institutions. They quash individuality, creativity, and free thinking, focusing instead on turning children into drones ready for the workforce - don't raise your voice, raise a question, think for yourself. Go along to get along.

The schools are rife with bullies who get away with it if they're involved with sports programs - they are idols worshipped on the field every weekend and Gods among their fellow students, and parents will demand a teacher be fired before they will accept their precious center-forward or quarterback might not have an A, or misbehaved, or broke the law and therefor has been dropped from the team, suspended, or benched for one game. Nope, their precious little darlin' can do no wrong, and they'll scream bloody murder about disciplinary action but won't deign to apologize to the old lady whose lawn is trenched, to the smaller, weaker kid who was victim to vicious pranks, to the neighborhood righting baseball batted mailboxes, to the girl who was assaulted.

Drugs, especially methamphetamine, are rampant; more often than not administrators turn a blind eye rather than try to help. Or they swing to the other extreme and crack down so hard that even the best of students are smothered.

Weapons and assaults are common. Threats of violence are common. Acts of violence are common.

Where I live, what church you attend is more important than what kind of life you live. I am pagan. My son is pagan. In a deeply religious (but not necessarily spiritual) Christian community, who do you think would be the target for pranks, bullying, and censure?

Private schools in my area are almost all attached to churches. Those that aren't are either military academies (where local folks tend to send the kids they can't be bothered with or they can't handle, sad to say) or so exclusive and expensive that I could win the lottery and still not afford them.

I want my son's spirit to make it through his education intact. I want him to enjoy learning, to go about it as naturally as breathing, and not to be forced into one class with kids who are one age all doing one thing at one time. I think the system we have today is just about the worst educational system there could be - it runs counter to how children naturally learn, and if I don't have to force my round kid into a square hole, I won't.

Ultimately, I think he's safer and likely to have a better education here than in someone else's hands. If he was in the school system right now, he'd be forced to speed up or slow down to keep on pace with the other kids his age. Instead, he may be a little rough with his handwriting and need some extra time for that, but his math skills are at second-grade level. He knows anatomy better than some adults, and could lecture at the Smithsonian about dinosaurs. He is learning to cook, to do laundry, and to play the drum. He is learning sign-language and Spanish.

He can play equally well with children his age, younger children, and older kids too. He is open to new folks, doesn't care about skin color or who they worship, and isn't invested in any fads (if you don't have Poke Mon you're a freak who should be shunned)(or whatever the latest thing is). He knows that people eat a variety of foods, and even if he doesn't like what they're eating they can be friends. He doesn't care about clothing or who is playing with whom or popularity - he is a kid acting like a kid and I'm going to let him grow up on his own, not at some State-mandated pace.

As for socialization - he gets plenty of that. Homeschooling doesn't mean we never leave the house - on the contrary, as much as my agoraphobic arse would like to stay in, we are constantly going out - to the market, the bank, friend's homes, play groups, and soon enough we'll be trying to add karate and gymnastics to the list. We go to museums, the library, parks, and movies. His education is never-ending...it's all an opportunity to learn.

There are no sick days in home-schooling. You can't skip home, either. We can study things by being in the middle of them - American history by traveling around the country. Oceanography by going to the seaside. How do trees affect our environment? Let's go to a forest and find out! How does electricity work? Let's go to the EMC and ask! We aren't limited to certain days or times. If we want to go on the road, we can. If he blasts through first grade in a month or three, we can move right on to second grade without having to wait for anyone else. If it takes him thirteen months to get second grade, no biggie.

If public education is what a family can afford, then I have no issue with that - sometimes you have to take what you can get, and a child deserves to learn. Kids are sponges, absorbing it all at an astonishing rate. Home schooling is not for everyone, and I don't think it's superior or inferior to any other form of education - I just think it's the best fit for my child at this time.

I admit it's not all sunshine and roses - homeschooling means I don't have a minute to myself unless I beg my husband or mother to hang with the kid for a little while, or get up early or go to bed late - it took more than a year to write a book you could read in an afternoon (short and not very complicated), because I went days without having the time to write...and often, I went without sleep to write into the wee hours because I knew I wouldn't have any other opportunity. Yeah, yeah, your heart's breaking, I know. I have to include the Evil Genius in all my plans, or make arrangements for someone to watch him while I try to get things done. If I want to write, clean, weed, do laundry, or get anything accomplished, I can't do it without a constant pull for my time and attention. His education is my responsibility - and that can be a terrifying prospect!

I know I'm leaving things out, not addressing every reason, every concern - but I've been composing this for quite a while now, and it's time for us to bake bread - which will teach measurements, fractions, chemistry, a little biology, and baking skills to the Evil Genius. School on!!