Friday, December 31, 2010

Just a wish or absence of work. Damn I'm slackin'.....

There's no real progress on the foot today, and I can't seem to settle in to any projects - resting and rebuilding  seems to be the way to go right now.

So, briefly - thank you, for checking in to see what is happening.  I will get back to actual writing when stamina allows, hopefully, I will (in the meantime) stuff my head with enough life to have something worth writing home about :-)!

I wish health for you all, whether you are reading or not.  I wish that if you don't have your best health, that you do all you can to improve it.  Health for your body, mind, and soul.  I wish that you always have some food for thought, and the energy to pursue it.  Or not, as you wish.

Have a wonderful New Year's Eve.  Fill it with joy, or friends, or some blessed and needed peace and quiet.  Reflect on your loved ones where ever they are.  They are second-hand proof of the existence of angels.

Hoping for blessings to share, everywhere.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I think I need a new plan

And that's what we do at the New Year, right?  My current 'plan' (one I wouldn't recommend, as it Isn't Panning Out) had something to do with increased stamina, semi-easily managed foot pain, and playing with my kids and their Christmas goodies, while being able to cook dinner or lunch each day.  At this point (stitches out), on my other foot, we were 'there'.

What I have instead is a (hopefully) minor infection redding-up the top of my foot. A black sharpie has delineated the 'status' of the redness- if it hasn't receded significantly (or has in fact 'crossed the line') by Friday, it's back to the dr. for me.  I have it elevated, I'm taking my antibiotics, my ibuprofen, and I'm grumbling.  Being couch-bound just wasn't the plan.

Being an allegedly creative type, I should be dragging out the sociopaths and writing more on that.  Or doing some improving reading. Cross stitching, doodling, a puzzle.  My kids are at their wonderful Aunt Paddy's house, having a ball.  My mom is upstairs helping my husband re-arrange our house (I have no complaints- she's naturally organized, and if I don't like something she does, when I can finally walk again I will change it. No Biggie. I need all the help I can get!)  The cooking channel is something like torture since I can't drive to the market, let alone stand and cook.  So, the new plan....

#1 should include a reflection on gratitude - many people are  accommodating my needs, and I need to make a proper plan to show them how meaningful their help really is.  If funds were unlimited, I'd send everyone chocolates for a year from Godiva.  Or flowers once a month, every month for a year.  Or a delivery once a month of homemade cookies for the diet-unconscious, and a delivery of something else for....everyone else? Since funds are limited..... this requires some thought. Happily, it's cheering me up, just picturing me with....that much mobility!

#1.5 really should include inviting various far-flung cousins to come down, visit, and, um, Cook for me! Any takers? Tina?  James?

#2 Should include a new Harry Potter book to read to my son.

#3 Should probably include couch-bound activities I can do with my daughter (colorforms, lacing cards,  stickers, Dora books, coloring pictures, target practice with her big brother as the target)

#4 Should include a menu plan for next week, or my children will have to live off cheerios. In absence of cooking from those aforementioned cousins....

Ok, my plan suddenly became so much less fun.  I think the last part of the plan should also include "no posting until you ditch your lousy attitude!"

Sorry, folks.  I promise, there will be no further posting until there is an uptick in "happy"!! Or in 'really freaking humorous' (and the bad 'rotten foot jokes' from a certain dr. Novak  - better ask Mary if he's a blood rellie!!! - DO NOT COUNT!  Nice bedside manner, doc.) events that make me laugh.  Or, for the morbid types, an unforeseen increase in medical complications.  Those make SPECTACULAR reading, right? or....not.  Okay then.

As you were - I assure you, if you aren't wondering about blood infections today, you are doing better than I am.  As for me, I'm off to work on that plan.  No sociopaths will get worked on until the attitude improves, so the next post should be progress.  Of one kind, or another.... :-)

To healthier days, my friends -


Monday, December 27, 2010

A flashy morning in the orchid room - punctuated by whining.

Good morning!

Well, to folks paying attention to weather in the midwest, there should be no surprise that last nights mist birthed this mornings glory :-)  I can only guess that people in the "cheesy special effects department" of a greeting card company are finally vindicated - every needle on the scrawny pines outside is coated with Genuinely, Surpassingly, Twinkling Frost.  I have NEVER seen a frosted tree actually resemble something blasted by the tinsel fairy. I think I've only seen such thickly frost-coated trees on grey days, not blindingly sunny ones. So, for today, for the moment, thank you God for this Robin-egg blue sky, the over-the-top-gorgeous frost, and the breeze stirring it up.  I can live with it being only 7 degrees outside, when the view is this good - er, and also when I'm trapped on the couch.

You'd think with practically unlimited couchtime, something Productive would come out of this site.  Novella updates, Poetry, non-sarcastic descriptive text.  Cool links.  SOMETHING.

What can I say? Well, a really throbbing foot is not poetic.  Dannie Abse made some mighty fine, intense poetry out of medical issues.  Sylvia Plath did too - although I daresay she had the sense not to write it until after the painkillers wore off.  I could blame some of the dearth here on Christmas - the days have been busy, and tiring. Even with my mother beating the pants off the chaos fairy, and my husband on full-time daddy mode, I actually haven't had much 'musing' time.  Let alone 'amusing' time.  I can't always make myself take enough  meds to work really well at obliterating pain, and if I do, I can't string two thoughts together in ten minutes of trying. Holy lord this damned foot won't give up the hurting.  Yikes.

See??? Trying to explain myself in text and my brain gets hijacked by a spike. Think limited, foot specifically, stigmata.  Throb. Throb. dammit.

So, I'm going to set this keyboard aside, and go back to curling up in a ball, waiting for this moment to pass. Ibuprofen eventually works, but the waiting is a beast.  Have a good, pain-free day.  I hope your day brings beauty to leaven your annoyances today.  And, I hope your annoyances are few and far between.

With sparkles and spikes,


Thursday, December 23, 2010

You can lead a group to poetry, but ya can't make them like it. They have to do that part all by themselves :-)

Well, I'm typically the kind of person who can lead anything straight into the ground, but I actually had a bit of fun leading our writers group on Tuesday. We didn't get ejected from the library, not even with all that hot air escaping my mouth, cookies were shared, haikus were written, not one but TWO sestinas were shared, cripes, we even got a song from Tom (GO TOM!!!)  Lou, a lovely writer of children's books, shared her efforts at contacting publishers, and celebrated getting 2 PERSONAL rejection slips, rather than the much less impressive IMPERSONAL rejection slips.  Oh, to be where she is at!!! I've only had one rejection this year, and it was massively impersonal.  It was EMAILED, and was so massively impersonal that I fell asleep from boredom before I could print and frame it!!!  Then I just deleted it in error. Opportunities missed, I guess.  I'm sure there will be more.  I mean, if I can get off my lazy bottom and find more places to submit more, and slightly more polished, poetry.

So, speaking of getting off my bottom, I need to launch myself into the roll-about, assist my so-far patient son with a movie, and start getting dinner and church clothes ready.  I will post properly at some point, but in the meantime, just get yourselves ready for the holidays. Try to have fun doing it :-)

From your addle-brained author,


Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh, boy, I'd really like to write more...but I'm not exactly back to 'me' yet!

Hey folks, a quick note only, for those of you still paying attention ;-)

I am recovering - a little roughly - from an entirely necessary foot surgery.  It's taken more energy than I ever think it will, so actually checking in has been much harder to work up to.  I am leading our writing group (go Heritage Writers, GO!!) on my current favorite writing form - poetry.  This happens Tuesday evening, either well or poorly, so I am trying to shore up the strength for that.  I have very good help in the house, all are pitching in, including my heroic mother, but this has taken a bit of the stuffing out of me.  Which may be good, without excess stuffing, I may have more room for tomorrow's gingerbread cookies - whoo-hoo!

Many things to accomplish tomorrow, then.  I'll dig up fantastic works from Miller Williams (aside from being a ridiculously amazing poet, he's Lucinda Williams' dad :-), probably a few good satire pieces from Dorothy Parker, and send them all home with an idea of why certain writers used certain forms, and why they might want to take a whing at it.  Poetry writing, that is.

So, most of my Christmas cards are addressed, and a few painkillers and antibiotics are waiting.  Nothing fancy, I've discovered my body HATES vicodin!! But enough ibuprofen to help me sleep through the night.

Dream of gingerbread and snowflakes - I'll let you all know how it went later this week!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Ideopathic hypersomnia......why am I not surprised?

Them's the results of my sleep study.  In line with exactly...1% of the population at large, I can fall asleep for a nap in 3.9 minutes.  Or less. Even after a good 8 hrs sleep the night before.

What is the english diagnosis?  "Lady, you are really, really tired.  Clinically tired.  Without identifiable reason."

I'll muse more on this later (turns out I only stop breathing whilst I'm dreaming) as school buses and schedules roll on, with or without me.  I'd rather we were on time, myself.

Wishing you all pleasant day-dreams, wherever you are :-)


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dammit, Wild - I'm too old to stay up for O.T. at midnight.....

...but no.  I am not turning this off.

Parenthood and all attendant responsibilities mean that I can't actually follow hockey. If not for a few Finns, I'd not recognize any players by name on our team.  Oh, yeah, Zhidlitsky (sp??)  I recognize that name too.  "Koivu. - Zhidlitsky.  Koivu-Zhidlitsky."  I'm giggling with that exchange alone.  Good thing my daughter's out cold, I can't imagine what she'd make of it.  She's still complaining of frunchy tater tots, fratches on her leg, and asking for Fristmas Fookies.  Hockey names will be a whole new world for her vocabulary, we'll have to get her to a few Wild games before kindergarten, I guess.  Just to clear things up before the teachers start calling....

Hah.  Woooo!  They've won!  Which means If I can finish the rest of my wine, I'm upstairs, listening to the wind howl, and making more pictures and stories for it, while closing my eyes.  When the wind really tears, it's almost a roaring sound, a slash against the steadier waves of sound.  Not very hard to picture the wind as beast, or hunter, or even a crime.  And so I do.

The newscasters are having even more fun with the visuals than I am - this from the Star Tribune, tonight, "Variously described as Snowmaggedon and Snowmygawd, the biggest snowstorm to hit the Twin Cities since the Halloween storm a generation ago whited out -- and pretty much paralyzed -- the metro area and much of the rest of central and southern Minnesota on Saturday."  Someone has been waiting to use 'snowmygawd' for a Very. Long. Time.

Doors are closing, and it's time to turn off the lights.  I made 70 krumkake today, need to make more, and more gingerbread, tomorrow.  No place to go (er, other than to pick up the cat), so we may as well stay home and bake :-)  My feet and legs are tired.  I learned, today, that fresh marshmallows are a tougher medium for a 'snowman centerpiece' than I thought.  I'll do better, next time.

Until then, with blinding wind, so cold it freezes your thoughts when you blink,


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Life - imitating art. Regrettably, in the Mayhem department. Sigh.

Hello friends and family - we are chilly and crystallized here, in fly-over country :-)

I have been trying - one minuscule step (albeit on a regular basis) at a time - to ready my home for the holidays, by 12/15 - for the simple reason that I will be couch-bound for quite some weeks after that.  To that end, I have been making various dr. appointments, plucking away at cleaning projects, addressing Christmas tasks, and trying to resolve the travelling hotspots (not a computer game, just dealing with revolving chaos magnets in my home.)

Somehow, despite fabulous intentions, my plan has derailed on a daily basis.  This evening, ye old Mayhem meter went utterly bananas - $1300 later, one of my cats is hospitalized, and may continue to rack up surcharges until we are allowed to take him home on Sunday night, or, God help me, Monday morning.

Believe me, despite the mounting temptation, I cannot pretend a vicious bout of amnesia and 'forget my cat'.
My children are young enough to employ the following two brands of logic:
#1 - if someone stays at the hospital long enough - they may not come home.  "Mom, how long Does your Surgery take on Thursday????!!!"
#2 - if you  become unable to control your bladder, and visit the dr., you might not come home. "Mom, I know you're only 78, but the dr. says you might never pee normally again.  I'm sorry, but I remember what you said about Jack when He couldn't pee anymore...."

I cannot, in good conscience, allow my children a deceased feline as an early Christmas present.  I'll either sell 7 lovingly collected Swarovsky crystal ornaments to make up the cash, or pray that the tax guy is more forgiving than the animal hospital and we come out slightly ahead in January.  And pray that this never ever happens again.  I mean, cripes, thanks to this ill-timed emergency, the kitchen was in shambles at dinner time, grocery shopping didn't end until 9:45, my daughter cried nonstop for almost an hour, and here I am, BLOGGING.  In a near-blizzard, and heck, I have krumkake on deck for tomorrow!!!  And gingerbread -5 batches each! This,on no dinner and overstressed stress glands.  One gland is throbbing away even now!

And, regrettably, with one or two exceptions (Chiefly, the 1300!!), the whole sorry week has gone pretty much this way.  Except, lucky for you, no blogging!  (Expect more mayhem starting Monday when I visit the sleep dr. - whom isn't expecting me, and the surgeon Thursday morning, who is.)

So, I leave you with two thoughts.  If you live anywhere in flyover country, I pray your weekend grocery shopping concluded by 9:30 pm, or you likely had a malodorously bad ride home.  And, I pray if you have to drive anywhere between the two coasts of north America this weekend, you only do it for love, or a serious lot of money.

Good dreams, all.  And thank someone important if your pets are healthy.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

One plan, and one plan only

for today.  That plan is to call and wish my amazing, beautiful, formidable sister a Very Happy FOURTIETH BIRTHDAY!!!

As with my son and I, my sister and her son have birthdays very close together - her son's is two days before hers, my son's is 18 minutes after mine.  So, there are two special people out there that should know, from me, that I wish them all the best this week, to make some birthday wishes, and then make them come true.

Happy birthday, my sister, I'll be calling you soon!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Good night, stupid girl, wherever you are

As some of you may have noted, or, perhaps, not ;-)  I am in the process of writing a short story.  The bones of it came together, quite completely, during the extreme exhaustion in the weeks following my son's birth, during my dreams.  About six months after the dreams, I outlined a story, so as not to lose the details.

My son is now six, so rather than have a few odd sociopaths mucking up my un-sub-and-waking-concious mind, I'd rather write the story and get them out of my head.  I try to set writing up two days/week, but in my crazy life, I have to take it when I can get it, and right now, this is the time. See below for:

A segment from the horror story in progress. (um, disclaimer - we aren't at re-write yet.  We are at the 'putting the whole story down, in order, with enough words to make it into a story" part. It will be awhile before we hit the 'pulling out the too many words" part, and the 'cleaning up clumsy dialogue" part, that will make this less embarrassing  for all of us.  I haven't even got to making all my tenses and subject/objects agree, looked for wandering body parts, or other hideous gaffes.  First. Draft. Only.;-)

Sentimentality for my high school civics teacher, sadly now departed, inspired a good dose of this passage.  I've yet again taken out about 200 lacking words on the whole, and put in almost 600 useful words.

What you need to know:  The (um, wonkily-formatted) discussion is between our protagonist (the aforementioned "stupid girl", caught spacing off on a mysterious town disappearance, and her teacher, who is one of the best-liked, most respected, and most feared teacher in High School.  He's earned this distinction by understanding students better than most adults ever will, and pride in his job, which is to ensure that seniors graduate with Some idea of how the world works. God rest you, Mr. Sandon.

“Ok, Mr. Sampson – what’s for detention this time? Notes? Cleaning? Math tables?” She was pulling for cleaning, but betting on something new and freshly designed, on the spot, for her personal torment. Her Civics teacher was probably the most well-liked, respected, and feared, teacher in school. He was brutally inventive at making a point, and even she knew she had it coming this time, so she braced herself. He attempted to glare at her, and then hit her on the blind side.

“Why were you walking through the old theater last night?” The question genuinely surprised her, so her recovery was totally lame.

“Ok, you first. Why were You walking near the theater?”
“Not that it’s any of your business, but I happen to live in the neighborhood.” Sarah found herself on the receiving end of a Very. Pointed. Look.
“So, I know the locals there, quite a lot better than you do. Or, you probably wouldn’t choose that street for a late-night stroll. I didn’t see you walking your dog…” Holy crap. She was, actually, horrifyingly, blushing now at being caught, like a total amateur Nancy Drew. She licked her parched lips and readied herself for… a whopper. “so what, precisely, could you possibly have to do in a condemned building, on a school night, without telling even Anna what you were up to?”

Panic? Faint? Stigmata? All of the above???

“Um, Mr. Sampson?” think think think…
”yes. It’s still me”
“Have you ever heard of, a prayer walk?” He looked shocked. He could buy this.
“Well, yes, I have. If memory serves, the last one in town was...” he closed his eyes and pretended to think about it, “about six and a half years ago, give or take a month. It was lead by four, frankly terrifying, ladies from the Womens Auxiliary, not one of them younger than 76. It lasted precisely ten hours and fourty-five minutes, and was followed immediately by a catered dinner at the Sand Bar; I believe they bought 2 rounds for the house. If I was of the Satanic persuasion, I would have been persuaded to leave without packing- they were that formidable, and, if I recall correctly, by the time I Left the Sand Bar, their crucifixes were actually glowing. Now, leaving all that aside, for a moment, I still want to know – what exactly were you doing last night?”

Sweet dreams ;-)


Monday, December 6, 2010

Creation and Creativity

Hello, friends!

This mornings post needs to happen QUICKLY - Monday morning finds two dentist appt.'s and a trip to the library on the books.  After nightmares about sending my daughter (ahem, aged 3) to school without lunch, I feel like I better pull out all the stops on focus.  And that thought got me going.

This weekend was about making memories.  My mother had a pretty cool way of throwing herself into the holidays - making a big deal out of sometimes small moments.  This got tougher as time went on, circumstances being Quite Straitened - and strained, at times - but she did love Christmas, so we baked and decorated and sometimes hosted the big family dinners, occasionally did the midnight mass (to her occasional regret - my siblings and I would get the Worst giggles!!)  I've treasured those memories, and so the bar has been raised for me on how my kids experience the holiday.

So, Saturday we cut the tree, had the sleigh ride with the Big Guy, the kids got to hold the reins (woooo! live horses, not Just a Tractor!!), baked cookies, had a light emergency (resolved by Jon with help from Target), and decorated.  Yesterday was church, playing outside, finishing most of the decorating, and having the kids help me decorate gingerbread cookies.  Today will be about FINISHING the decorating , putting away tubs, smacking down the laundry and keeping things going, so the kids aren't bored and grumpy.  Why the list? you say - We don't care about your housekeeping and it has nothing to do with creativity!!

Aha, says I.

Focus has EVERYTHING to do with creativity.  You do not succeed with a new recipe, or know exactly where to place those pine boughs, empty tubs, or new displays, without fully concentrating, on one thing, one step, at a time.  If it's a story, a mixed media piece, a digitally altered painting, a play, you must take some time to think about what has to happen, to which element, to carry the whole project to an eventual end.  Even actors who are told to 'improvise' still have to prepare by understanding the scene and the outcome.  I am all for rampaging imagination, but without preparation, the best ideas are still....ideas.  Ask me, sometime, how many unprepared yet 'fabulous' ideas are in the orchid house - unplanned, unstarted, unfinished.  As such, they are perfect ideas.  As art.....they are merely ideas, unrealized.

So, make your list! Make your plan!  Come up with a project that deserves your focus.  Then, whether it is scrapbooking, a dinner party, an illustrated series, a book......give it some time - even a little, but fill it with unwavering focus, even a little.  It will work out so much better for you.  One caution, though.  If you are already OCD......use a timer before you begin obsessing, and be good enough to yourself to respect it.

Have a good day!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

If Jesus was my co-pilot......why'd he forget the map?

Getting lost.

There's a few things I should say to set the scene for this story, nothing ground-breaking to family or friends, but, in the interests of storytelling.  And, before I forget, a thanks and hello to my commentors and new followers - how nice you came on board!! I like when folks leave feedback,so thanks, very much, for taking the time to do so ;-)

So, yeah.  How did Denny and I - two twenty-somethings, with an (er, allegedly) MASSIVE combined I.Q., spend so much time getting lost and d@mn near running out of gas???? One answer and one only - our big d@mn mouths.

My brother and I, due to some age limitations (mine) and schedule limitations (his) didn't actually spend a lot of time in the car together. So, it's fair to say that about 75% of the time it actually happened, we got lost.  This is what would happen:  I'd get in, the radio would go on (invariably, Aerosmith's "Ragdoll" would come on. Without fail -sometimes once on the way, and once on the way back!), we'd either commence verbal hostilities or catch up, and then talk about where we were going.  I used to take a lot of buses back then, or walk everywhere, so if we were in Minneapolis, I'd generally have a pretty good idea of where we were, and what direction we ought to go.  To this day I orient by south Minneapolis when I get around the cities.  Denny - again, allegedly - had a photographic memory, so sheer stupidity or absentmindedness was clearly to blame.

One summer day, heading from south Minneapolis to a get-together at (one of) our aunt and uncles, we ended up running low on gas, near the worst areas along highway 35.  We took an exit and immediately started scanning for gas stations.  The first thing we noticed is that we two were pretty obviously an ethnic minority in a tough part of town.  This was a problem, because we Really should have noticed we were going the wrong way down a one way!  The locals, far from being hostile, were waving at us vigorously to get our attention, and turn the car the hell around!  If memory serves, we did find a station on or near lake street, and eventually got to the party.  Late.  Again.

Another such event (a few years down the line.  So we should have known better. You'd think.) had us heading up north for the fourth of July.  A trip both of us had made about a zillion times each. At some point, along 35, we realized that we could see.....Duluth.  Yep.  Missed that whole right-hand exit to 'Range cities'.  I had been reading him short stories to make him laugh while he drove, we were talking our heads off, and....we lost the entire Iron Range.  And, in doing so, missed a (later) critical gas station.  By the time we re-navigated towards Sparta, we realized (math geniuses that we were) that we could probably get to Gilbert and refuel there.


If we went 30 mph, and there were no detours for parades.  As it happens, we rolled into town, hit a few detours, and made it to the Food 'n Fuel on absolute fumes.  For a change, however, we were on time - the parade started about 10 minutes later.

Most humiliatingly (and so memorable that my ears still burn when I think of it), we even managed to get lost going to our young cousin Jake's birthday party.

Jake is the eldest son of my youngest uncle Steve.  Steve was Denny's sponsor for his confirmation, and is only a few years older than Denny.  Steve's wife Mary was someone who Denny liked, and liked to mess with, even before she was our aunt.  So, we were pretty happy to get the invite to come up for Jake's birthday.  He was quite young, maybe 5 or 6, and Denny was able to give me a lift and take me to the party, which was north of Minneapolis by a good 45 minutes or so.

Again, the chitchatting, Aerosmith, one-upping each other, until we get to 109th, where we turn right.  Both of us had made the trip many times, but we started looking at each other.....we couldn't remember where we were supposed to turn left.  Maryland avenue seemed....too soon.  We turned on the second or third street after that.  And went down the correct number of blocks, to see a blue house, on the corner, where there was clearly a birthday party in progress.  We checked for cars we recognized, and decided that maybe our aunt's side of the family made it before our mom's side did. Bunch of kids in the yard, and we decided to park the car. Yes, it should have felt strange that we were early....but we were optimists, I guess.

So, we walk in the house, (I should mention, it really had been a long time since we'd visited Steve and Mary. We wondered why we hadn't heard they renovated!) and this friendly 20-something guy walks into the kitchen and says 'Hi! Can I help you'.  Denny and I both knew then we were in trouble, so I say, "We're just looking for the birthday boy."  Smile.  He beams and says "Well, you found him!!"  Denny and I immediately started gasping with laughter, because he'd read my mind.  As I was cracking up, I managed to apologize and tell the guy we were clearly at the wrong party, and happy birthday anyway.

As we got in the car, I looked at him, and once we shut the doors I said, "well, at least we didn't start eating his food!!!" After my brother could finally talk he said "I know - I was thinking the exact same thing!!!"  We were still laughing when we got to Steve and Mary's but I cannot recall if we ever told anyone exactly what was so funny.

Miss you, bro.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Getting cuffed by a Looney Tune......

Howdy folks - everyone have their snow tires on? ;-)

I just had a major dust-up with my inner demon child/brainwashed homemaker.  (OOoo! amusing side note - on the Flylady website, someone was referring to a project where she'd made a beautiful fresh cranberry wreath.  She didn't specify which 'homemaker' designed it, but commented '....but she'll be spending this holiday season behind bars...'  I LOVE that!)

Anyway, as I said, I've just battled out my M.S. obsessed inner child, over how to have a 'memorable tree trimming' event tomorrow. And, I've finally called a TIME OUT!!! It was a heated battle - fresh-baked gingerbread in the oven, boots lined neatly at the front door, holiday music playing and neatly stacked ornament tubs - VERSUS - children with hair actually brushed, naps taken, floors swept, and mt. dew for all.  I'll report later on the outcome, because tomorrow also happens to be the mother of all rotten days that have hit our family.

My brother passed away just before 3 am on  Dec. 4th, 1996.  Despite his far-too short life (oh golly, what i would have given for a full century with him!!), he packed a Whole lot of living in his 29 years.  Including something most of us never considered an actual option - getting handcuffed  for bad behaviour by someone... voiced by Mel Blanc (for those of you under 30, just hang in there.  Google it ;-)

This story was beautifully written by my mother (it will help to know my brother's last name is Rude.  No kidding.), in honor of her son, and her beloved younger brother Tom, who passed away from lung cancer this spring.  God rest your souls, we miss you so very, very much.

(From Marge Harrington)

"When I was first divorced and we were still in our house on Wisconsin Ave. there was a weekend when I was out with my friends. I received a phone call. My daughter said (my son) Denny had been picked up by the Virginia police, and they were holding him because he had been drinking. I was to go to the jail and pick him up. I was so angry I couldn’t see straight. At that moment, I decided I needed to have a “show of power.” I called Tom, and asked him to come with me so Denny could see I wasn’t going to mess around. I had a male figure of family authority with me and Denny would see we meant business.

We arrived at the police station, I told them who I was, and that I was there to pick up my son. To my horror, a policeman started speaking, “Are you Denny Wude’s mom?” Denny started smiling, Tom started snickering and turned around, Denny started smiling even more, so I said, “Yes, I’m his mother and I want to know what he did.” This cop starts talking again and he said “Mr. Wude was seen with a dwink in his hand and he is obviouswy a minnow (minor); we could smew wickow (liquor) on his bweath.”

Tom’s shoulders were shaking, Denny had his head down and he was biting his tongue. I didn’t know who to be more mad at, Denny for the drinking or Tom for not bringing the serious tone I was looking for. Those two laughed about it all the way home. It was much funnier as the years went by, but what a bad case of timing. Any other cop would have served the right tone for the situation, but we got Elmer Fudd."

Mom, thanks for giving me my brother.  Denny, thanks for yet again proving that......sometimes, ya just gotta laugh.

Today, no matter what, just love your family, whomever they are.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday??? Already???

How the heck did that happen?!!! I feel like I lost a whole day this week (oh, yeah - I did.  Tuesday, damn it anyway.)  Ahem.  Regardless,  it's awfully nice to see you this morning! Getting to the Orchid room today today means dealing with an air temp of.....six whole degrees. Boy howdy, it's gonna be a fun trip to the gas station today! I hope you can settle in to your morning read with as much coffee, cocoa, or, hey, even cocoa puffs, as you like. Whatever works - the cold has breached the bay window and I can feel the draft on my toes six feet away.  Yeeeesh.

Today's post is from warmer times - I'd posted it on Facebook, in honor of my brother's birthday back in June - hey, that's a happy thought! June!  It's a few birthday reminiscences (oooooh, that's a tough one to spell!!)  but tomorrow I'll post the getting-lost-with-Denny adventures. Reviewing these stories and memories, it somehow seems that we had a great deal of fun while my brother, perhaps not always intentionally, showed me how good and healthy it was to laugh, particularly when the person you needed most to laugh with, or at, was yourself.  Thank you, Denny.

A ritual my brother and I were able to conduct, as adults, was taking each other out for lunch on our birthdays. This was a somewhat lopsided ritual, he had about 3 jobs at the time (none of them really well paying, hence, multiple jobs) and was a part time student, while I had one job and 50 hours of art school a week (no exaggeration - that's the art school girl of doom I really was.  EEEEEeeek!)

So, I got treated to lunch in a very cool restaurant (Palomino?) whereas he was treated to White Castle, or once, brunch at the Uptown Bar. I would ask him for a pair of jeans without holes, he would attempt to explain his requests to me. "Shari, I want a pair of Rockport Umpquaa's." "Denny, I don't know what you just said". "They're sandals, really comfortable ones and they'll help me walk better (this was around the time of the arthritis problem)". "ok, I go to the shoe store and I ask them for....what? Newport oompaloomphs?" "NO, Rockport Umpquaas!"

At this point, he had tears streaming down his face from laughing at me, and I bust out laughing each time he said that ridiculous brand name. I'm guessing the shoe store guys laughed it up too, since I hadn't written it down and I sounded like a damn idiot. So, I get the shoes, and I spent 45 minutes in Target getting him a birthday card. That sounds...excessive, but back then, it was possible for me to find one that made him laugh till he cried (paybacks, I guess). I found one that clearly laid out the birthday plan for two lunatics to celebrate (I only remember the red noses and bunny ears) but the card was a four-page essay on birthday idiocy. I made him read it out loud so I could laugh along with him.

The only other time (well, other than when I got him the Happy Hockey Family) that I made him read something out loud was when I was living with my roommate Stephanie. She and I were friends with a guy named Roswell. Now, both Steph and Ros are intelligent to the point of awkwardness, so I actually managed to feel pretty normal around them.

One night, either before or after heading to the Irish well with those two, and Denny in tow, I decided to introduce Denny to the works of Edweard Gorey - the illustrator/dark humorist. So, I ordered him to read Steph's copy of The Curious Sofa' to Ros. Ros knew the story already, and tends not to be very emotional. Denny started reading, and immediately caught on that it is one twisted little story. Ros held his sides and laughed tilll he hurt, while the rest of us just laughed ourselves silly as Denny finished.

I do believe that was the night he fell for a really pretty girl that worked at the Well, and tried to flirt with her. He said something creative about her clothes - but since I've never seen a woman glare so coldly at anyone, I guess he should have stuck to being charming instead of trying to be...funny. :-)

Thanks for the memories, Denny - love and miss you lots.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Baby, it's cold outside.....

For those of you who don't know me well, I have to preface this post with the fact that my family tree is short of a couple of beloved branches.  My mother has 8 siblings, and both of her parents, as well as three of her brothers have passed away.  My brother passed in 1996, from a form of leukemia, at the age of 29.  When we pass these anniversaries, all of them come to mind.  Our extended family had been close enough that spending time with cousins and aunts and uncles was a bonus, not a duty.  Now, cousins are grown and most of us have our own families, but we all make a point of getting together when time allows, and I think we'd all agree it doesn't happen enough :-)

Now, this is a pretty heavy topic for the midweek, and it's of course on my mind  - we haven't had a November this cold since....well, 1996.  My brother's anniversary is December fourth, and regrettably, this weather has a way of driving the memories of all that happened right before, and right after.  To combat the gross weight of those sad memories, I've decided, this week, to post as many humorous stories as I can.

My brother had an evil wit, a quick mind, classic comic timing, and a real talent for recognizing the absurd in everyday life.  Because we managed to both become broke college students at about the same time, and in the same place (Minneapolis), we had numerous opportunities to mock our poverty, and do what we could to lighten each others load. We'd also bonded in the late 80's by sharing the same damp basement, two buildings down from our job at a restaurant (the excellent Fat Lorenzo's).  I don't know how many weeks we subsisted on stale pizza leftovers, but I will say we got pretty good at it.

Part of the job that I hated was the closing shift, and he had a social life to pursue, so both of us, when we were allowed to close together, hauled bunnies and tried to get the closing work done as fast as humanly possible - 20 minutes before closing.  In general, this meant cranking up the tunes a bit, cruising the floors with the mops, scrubbing dishes and counters with a superhuman fury, and praying fervently, and loudly, that no more filthy feet would mar our floor, let alone be connected to a body that would order food. That would just screw Everything up and we weren't in the mood.

Light radio was the only acceptable option for the soundsystem, and one Friday night close, a few oldies but goodies hit the airwaves.  Living together in a basement, and not a furnished one, either (or do cobweb forests count?), we'd pretty much honed our 'crack up the sib' talents to a high pitch, and we'd go for the throat in one-upping each other.  He'd make an ass of himself on the spot if it killed time and got me laughing - and there's no time to kill like closing time.

Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World" hit the radio, a song we'd been raised on, and hey, who doesn't know the words?  Denny cranked the radio and swept the back, I was scrubbing the counters to death, and listened to my brother's rendition.  Yup, big old plate glass windows onto Cedar Ave, bright lights on, no curtains, Denny with a push-broom microphone and a captive audience, and he breaks into song.  "Jeremiah was a bullfrog! Was a good friend of mine....."  The front door in my section opens.  "Squashed him on a sidewalk on a Saturday night, I was so drunk that I was blind.....".  An attractive, professional looking woman is standing in the entryway, a quizzical look on her face as I turn down the radio.....and ask, wiping the tears from my face "Can I help you?"  Denny, hearing the volume turn down, and with the class-clown instinct that his audience had unexpectedly grown, couldn't help himself - he entered my section.

I wish to hell I could remember what he found to say to that smartly dressed lady - she clearly had been prepared to come in for a post-shift ice cream and head home, not blunder into two giggling idiots who couldn't pass Customer Service 101.  We actually were able to take her order and wish her a good night, followed immediately by slamming the locks shut and collapsing with laughter. I haven't heard that song since, without hearing my brothers voice, and lyrics, right along with it.

I think tomorrow I'll post the time we got lost.....going to a birthday party for our adorable cousin Jake.

Have a day filled with laughter, everyone.  Yesterday, my plan went way off the rails at about 5 pm, but hey, tomorrow is another day...... ;-)  Sing something today, and sing it very, very loudly.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday is get your bottom in gear day! A list....

of things on my particular plate doesn't make terrifically exciting reading, but it affects y'all personally today!

#1 - THANK YOU, READERS! it's nice of you to come today! And I have one more follower which gave me the goofiest boost of happy - thanks for coming on board, my sister.  You always know how to make me smile :-)

#2 - My Christmas cards are here and I can start addressing them, and IF I may say so, THEY ROCK! If you haven't got a Christmas card from me before, I likely don't have your mailing address  - send it care of this account or send a Facebook message to me and I will be sure you get one.  My holiday happy could overtake my holiday stress any second now - wheeeeeeee!

#3 - I have to make red sauce, meatballs, (extra batches to freeze of course), find the ice rink hours, find Vincent's skates, call his best friends mom to see if an after school date is available, reboot the damn laundry, bless (that's Flylady-speak for 'clean') the bathroom and the living room floors, drink my water, get a quick bite to eat, and.....and....ohhhh crap.  Something else I can't remember, but it all has to come together by 3:30.  Hope I remember what it is!

#4 - All these missions mean about one hour of free time for art or writing tonight - could be the poetry, could be my teeny tiny horror story, could be more rhapsodizing about snowflakes - who knows! Last nights art was simply our paper chain for counting down days 'til the big one, I'll post a pic of it later.

Get your bottoms in gear, folks - do one thing today or tonight that feeds your holiday happy.  I'm mentally just trying to store up this feeling, as the week to come is seriously dreadful - Denny's anniversary is the fourth, and it completely shakes my goodwill to men into small, mean, pointy pieces.  I'm sorry to say that it takes heavy, heavy lifting on my part to not sabotage the mood in the house for Jon and the kids.

That being said, what may help me, this year, is thinking of Denny watching over us, thinking of how he would rate my efforts to impart and share the true generosity of Christmas with others.  My brother gave of himself so generously, and selflessly.  He made time if he understood you needed it, he knew what was important, and what was not.  If I can think of the joy my family may bring to others, it will honor my brother in ways tears could not.  And if all else fails, with my mother's permission, I'll post the infamous Elmer Fudd police story, starring Denny, my fabulous and sadly, recently departed Uncle Tom, my mother, and one police officer who, thank God, is nameless to me.  It's not precisely holiday cheer, but I laugh until my head hurts everytime I read it.

I wish you all a good day - we're at something around 4 degrees right now, so I hope the day finds you warm, cozy, busy, and safe.

Hugs from me to you,


Monday, November 29, 2010

Accckkkk! Monday!

Here it is alright.  Monday morning and already I feel like I'm scrambling.  Late night writing idiocy means that I don't even get out of autopilot until 9, and I've already used electronic devices, hot liquids, and sharp pointy things.  Anyone know where I put that spoon (yikes, didn't i lose a butter dish this time last year?)? How 'bout Dora's stroller?  I am serious - I don't think I could even run the dishwasher in this condition! Clearly, today is not a day to cut back on coffee!

Now, because even I have a few autopilot routines I've got the basics covered......but I don't even remember when I got dressed. I think the next step is haranguing my son into getting dressed, checking his backpack to see if there is something we weren't supposed to forget about, and tossing some clothes on Siena.  These tasks right now look to eat up anything from 5-45 minutes.  There's a trip to the dry cleaners ( a code red trip, due to the filthy cats) which will be hotly contested by my son, since it will cut into some video game time.  I have to actually present as a somewhat together parent at Siena's 3 yr. well check, so, I dunno.  Could be a challenging day.  I foresee exactly zero art/writing happening today.  However, grumpy kids is a forecast for a Lot of tickling and silliness, so that's something to look forward to!

I wish you all a less scattered mind than mine today, and as much coffee as you need.

"Once more into the breach, dear friends"
(is that Henry Vth?)


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Late night post - why am I not asleep!

Well, my far flung friends, this isn't late for everyone, but I like to try to get up and at 'em on a Monday morning, and that's already outta the question!

While working on getting the kids down, a few lines kept floating back and forth in my mind, and I liked the trend.  The problem is trying to assign non-obvious and not frivolous meanings to phrases that have lovely scenic value, but little emotional pull.  That's interesting right there - our last writing group topic was about the power of description - AND balancing it - not so much your reader loses their insomnia problem, but not so little that the characters lack grounding in a believable world.

So, friends,  I came up with three short verses that may or not be obvious, have meaning, or have interesting content.  It is intentionally obscure - in my annoying way, it will again probably take three poems to divulge the full subject.  Plagiarists be damned, if anyone is going to try to publish this dreck as their own, well, I hope they like rejection slips.  Version one of a poem about, quite simply, someone who is cursed.

Singular clusters of feathers
Shift, rustle, stir
Quietly, repeatedly,
In a corner of the orchid room.

The last seventy-two minutes
Of setting sunlight grace these pale walls
With ochre, amber, and deepening rose.
There are other tickings -
Like a countdown -
and murmurs
I’m trying to ignore.

One red fingernail shivering against
Cloudy glass
Betray the effort -
Betray the collapse.
And nightly, nightly
I’m heavy and light
With snowy visage
And shattered appetite.

(a postscript of sorts.  I removed about 50 stupid and useless words from the horror story, and put in 105 better ones, after writing this poem.  Not bad for 45 minutes total, but I will be happier when I come up with either version two of a more coherent poem, or the second piece that will make this one make sense.

Happy, er, well, I mean, interesting reading!

And, of course, sweet dreams :-)


Friday, November 26, 2010

Hitting a lick at a snake - an evening post

Anyone who knows me well knows that I've turned to the Flylady website to help me get a handle on homekeeping.  Long story short, I was tired of feeling guilty about housework and shirking artwork as a result.  Since last spring, I tuned into Flylady online (I doubt she is for everyone but I know it works for me) and her website encouragements helps me get more done quickly, and, voila, more time for creative work!

Fast forward to today - I'm using the 15 minute timer method to get some writing done - what Flylady calls 'hittin' a lick at a snake' - she refers to just putting a small amount of effort to tackle something scary.  So, I set my timer after Siena went down for her nap, told Vincent that when the timer went off, we were practicing violin, and I would get some writing done (no, not this blog, either ;-)

Back when Vincent came home from the hospital in 04'.  I would dose off during/after nursing, and these dreams (about some really hateful teenagers) kept coming, except they were in order - they told a story.  Wierdly, there was an actual plot.  This was a technicolor movie-style dream, and I even cast it with a few known actors in my dreams (no, I've never actually met any of them :-) I told myself for about 6 months that I really needed to craft it into a story, and I got as far as a 2594 word outline, in a month or two of writing.  And then life happened and I put it far, far aside.

To sum up, this afternoon I added about 400 useful words and removed about 75 substandard ones, in about 30 minutes total of writing (yes, we did get the violin practice done).  I am going to freshen up my look (having realized that washing ones face daily does, in fact, keep the acne faery away), take a big swig of water, wake up my daughter, and start some chicken piccata.  Oops, chicken piccata, sans parsley.  Then I'm going to celebrate some actual productive work (no matter how tiny) with a good dinner and silly evening with family.  Dear God, please don't give me any more projects to consider for the rest of the day.  Please let it wait until 6:30 tomorrow morning......

Good night friends, I hope your weekend is wonderful :-)


Score one point for self restraint - zero point for motivation

The sparkling day I dreamed of two days ago has dawned, it's postcard pretty out there.  My crystalline blue sky, the slight powdering of snow, and the grimy grass properly covered.  Am I glossing over the fact that this is the coldest frickin' Thanksgiving since 1996? Of course I am! The wind chill factor today is a frigid 2 degrees farrenheit.  Yup, our high today of 21 will feel like about.....9.  For those of you who just try to ignore the math, that's eye-watering chilly, inhale-and-your-nostrils-crack cold.  Recall that water-based liquids freeze at 32 degrees....hey! Let's make ice luminaries!!!!  Anyone know how?  Hmmm...a few ideas come to mind, we'll see if I have success, and post pictures tonight.

Today is a wii-fit, cheerios, and laundry marathon. And maybe some cookie baking.  This ensures that I am finally caught up with laundry and I burn off most of my extra calories from yesterday (I said make cookies, not necessarily eat them.)  I held myself back pretty well, because I typically eat myself into a stupor - I'm having my right foot operated on Dec. 16, so I really want to have all my housecleaning and xmas prep done by then.  A food stupor would not exactly help. Not to mention I feel guilty as hell doing artwork or writing when my house feels like one day of slacking will cause an avalanche of chaos! And ice luminaries do count as artwork -  or, creative work, anyway.

Thinking of the ice luminaries brings the movie trailer for "The Black Swan" to mind.  I encourage folks (of age) to check it out - yes, the story has some seriously twisted elements, but the art direction is jaw-droppingly beautiful.  I am not a big Tchaikovsky fan, but the snippets of Clint Mansel's soundtrack for the movie (based on Swan Lake) are gorgeous and I am going to have to revisit the ballet music.  Come to that, I really want to go to a good ballet someday - it's a powerful demonstration of art intersecting life, and if you think I'm talking out of my hat here, try standing in toe shoes sometime and consider if ballerinas are atheletes or just cute tiny girls in sparkly skirts! :-)

So ice, swans, sparkling snow, ballerinas, candlelight, midnight, moonlight.  Laundry, cheerios, wii fit, chocolate chips.  My day is a study in dualism for sure - what kind of day will you create?

Stay warm, for me :-)


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Down and grubby's turkey poetry time! My Thanksgiving post to you....

Good morning to you, wherever you are.

For some reason, I went to sleep last night, thinking dawn would break on a sparkling, crystalline morning, that sunlight would bounce through our lace drapes in the dining corner, that the snow would have an extra sparkly dusting on the snowman in the yard, that the sky would be blue and a cardinal would perch on the birdfeeder in the most artistic pose possible.

Well, have I mentioned I live in Minnesota?

November in MN means a sky roughly the color of a cataract, 9 days out of 10.  The longed for dusting of sparkling snow couldn't sparkle even if it had arrived.  The boot prints in our yard show up the dingy, yellow-grey grass just as vividly as they did yesterday.  Now, this isn't all bad - my head has been murky for two days with allergies or other gunk, so I am not sure how much sparkle I could take.  The gleam off Siena's party hat (er, pearlized pink cone with pastel stripes of blue and cream, plus organza ribbons and curly wrapping ribbons cascading from the tip!)  is almost too much for me.  Of course, this means the dang thing won't come off her head anytime soon today.  Damn.

Like most folks, we have to gear up food for tomorrow, plan dinner for tomorrow evening, make sure we have spare pie in the house, maybe Another batch of pumpkin bread.  My kindergarten son has no school, and his best bud is going to be here in 50 minutes or less.  The bags under my eyes (from aforementioned gunk) would be oversized at the airport, and jammies are the only thing any of us have on.  The only sparkle we are going to get this week isn't going to happen in this house unless I get busy on this house - too sick and tired to tidy up last night!  Very non-orchid house indeed! So where, you ask is the writing?  Where is the art?!  Well, maybe it ain't art, but it is poetry.  My only poem about Turkey so far.

It’s not by Chance
There are some people who haven't forgotten  
- that chickens once had teeth;  
- that creatures like emus once hunted in packs,  
  like wolves
- and that somewhere in the spiral
behind the eyes of a vulture
and in the hips of an ostrich
the equation for tyrant lizards lies in wait.

There are other people who know

that a wild turkey
entering a windshield at
65 miles an hour
northbound on 35W, is a gift from God
- it's three days before Thanksgiving,
- the only things broken are the windshield and one bird neck,
- you have the number of a very good butcher.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010 have to start somewhere

....and this corner looks just fine, right now. 

There are a few reasons I decided to keep a public web log.  The first just has to do with creativity, 101 :-)  In a very, very good book called "The Artists Way", by Julia Cameron, one exercise endorsed is the three pages daily.  First thing when you wake up, grab your coffee or favorite whatever, and just write until you fill up three pages.  If I recall correctly, you are not writing a memoir, a story, or poem.  You are just emptying the contents of your head out your fingertips.  If you have to re-write the phrase 'three pages daily sucks' repeatedly, because nothing else is on your mind, so be it.  If you have to write your significant others' name repeatedly, so be it.  The act and the amount are the only thing that counts.  I should add, the author has a far more eloquent way of putting this.  In fact, go to your library, or her website, or the bookstore and just read anything by her, she's brilliant!!

To bring this back to my original point, when I was more-or-less single, I gave the 3 pages a real run for a few months, and I had powerful results.  Emptying all the daily nonsense out of your head makes room for real creative flow, and my creative output at the time was tremendous.  Although this blog will be, by nature, something I edit for babbling, boredom, and relevance, I do like the commitment of weekly entries.  So, blogging may not be as effective as Ms. Cameron's exercise, but I think it will help.  And, I need all the help I can get!

Tracking my efforts, and being accountable to readers for either sitting on my bottom or doing real work, is the other reason.  I'll try to get on here once or twice a week (which will be quite something in light of children, housework, homework, attempted artwork, attempted writing, cooking, and everyother aspect of parenthood). not just to say, "whoo-hoo, I did 300 words in 30 seconds", but to share the humor I find in trying to do just about anything.  Learning to laugh at myself has helped calm my life, because life has a way of ramping up the crazy. In a way, it's fitting I am starting this on my lovely Siena's third birthday, right before the holiday craziness begins.

And so, to you, my eventual readers, I wish you clear weather, warm clothes if you need them, good family, hard work, and happy rewards. Comments will be enabled, er, once I figure out how to do it, and I look forward to hearing yours.  I appreciate your taking note of this, and I hope to make it worth your time by sharing the sacred, the scared, the beauty, the profane, the occasional mundane, and the ludicrous - all of which play a role in any art I make. 

Onward, my friends, and until next time.