Monday, December 5, 2011

Garbage Day

I took a walk along Grays Lake the other day – with my camera. I wanted to slow down enough to see the beauty all around me – and capture it on film. There was a time when I had pushed away all of my creative desires. It had seemed childish to try capturing beauty. The sunset or a child's laughter is a fleeting gift to be celebrated, not captured. But I've found that we don't see the beauty if we aren't looking for it. We are too busy with our lives to notice.

So there I was with my camera – trying to capture me some beauty. It was garbage day in the neighborhood surrounding the lake and there were two trucks parked nearby. I'd been taking pictures of the reflections on the lake when one of the garbage men called to me. He told me he knew of a great place to get water reflection pictures and described a scene from his Wednesday morning route. It sounded beautiful (apparently, his fiance takes pictures too). It was a short but lovely conversation – his enthusiasm made my day. In my quest to capture beauty, I'd never have thought to ask the garbage man where to find it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Evening Drive (5,4)

The following is a result of rolling a five and a four . . .

Grace nervously gnawed on the red vine, glancing over her shoulder into the back seat. She knew Diggins was back there somewhere, but it was too dark to see anything. Dark in the car. Dark on the road. She was sure that she would feel perfectly safe if she had ever seen this stretch of road in daylight. It was probably lined with lovely houses full of kind and friendly people. Still, she couldn't shake the unease and sheepishly locked her doors. A big tough protective dog in the backseat would make her feel a lot safer. But sweet little Diggins was just a puppy, eager to meet every dog, squirrel, child, mailman, or even axe murderer. She didn't discriminate – she knew nothing of evil. Even if Diggins sensed danger, she was securely fastened in her harness – perfectly harmless.

Diggins had been whimpering and Grace realized that she'd have to let the dog out to pee soon. Her little Ford Focus was not fancy, but she still didn't want it to smell like dog pee. “There, there sweetie. You did soooo good in puppy class tonight Diggins. Yessss, who's a good dog – yes you are.” Her hands, and therefore the redvine, smelled vaguely of Pupperoni dog treats so she tossed it into the car's trash. Every few hundred feet there were the beginnings of roads to turn off on. Each was blocked by a construction barrier. It was too dark to tell if the roads continued after the barrier. The whimpering continued. “Well, shit Diggins, you win. But you'd better be quick about it.” Her tires rolled over the construction gravel as she pulled over and the car slowed to a stop. She clamored over the seat to unhook the harness and attach it to the leash. Suddenly eager to get the whole business over with she opened the door and coaxed Diggins out. The air was cold and she had not bothered to put on a coat. She held her arms closely and shivered, pleading with Diggins to stop sniffing around and just pee. But Diggins was accustomed to well groomed lawns so the tumbled dirt and rocks at the side of the road didn't feel quite right.

The headlights in the distance didn't help matters. Grace wasn't sure who was behind the wheel or whether they'd approve of her make shift parking spot and dog potty. Feeling very exposed she averted her eyes as it drove past slowly. Then it stopped. And it backed up. Gripped by an irrational fear, she snatched up the the dog, shoved her in the car, apologizing, “You can pee in the car if you want to.”  She struggled to close the door jumping as a man's voice called from the dark depths of the truck's front seat, “Are you OK.” Her reply was hurried and awkward, “Yes – I'm fine.” She threw in a “thanks for asking” as she stumbled into the front seat, slammed the car door, and shakily started the car.  Back on the road, she felt ridiculous - embarrassed. He was just trying to be helpful. “I'm sure I looked like an idiot,” she said to herself.  And then to the pup - “but you can shit in the car too if you want – we're not stopping till we get home.”

The man in the truck shrugged as he watched the woman drive off.  He peered over the back of his seat, “Thought maybe I'd found you a friend,” he drawled to the wild eyed young woman gagged and bound in the truck's back seat.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Black Coffee (5,1)

The coffee shop was more pretentious than he'd expected of the small Wisconsin town. Large cut stone tiles lined the floor, interspersed here and there with vignettes designed to entice, stocked of course with overpriced coffee, cups, and trinkets. The menu sported the usual fussy list, but Merit ordered a coffee – black. It was the third coffee that he'd walked back to the corner table where he sat – alone. Merit was accustomed to being abandoned by his brother, but that did not make this time any easier. His hand traced slow seeping arcs across his eyebrows in an attempt to release the tension there. His brother, Mason, would have ordered a double shot of espresso to be sipped between smart phone texts, tweets, and perusals. He'd have arrived late and worn a vest over an ironed and cuff linked shirt. The cuff links were Mason's nod to their father, who had brought them up in the look good, feel good, do good school. “Good” being a rather sketchy term that was roughly equivalent to “win at all costs.” Next to his father and brother's well groomed appearance, Mason always felt like he'd just rolled out of bed. Actually, he liked to think that is all that he ever did – roll out of bed – but his tousled brown hair and beat up jeans could not disguise the well groomed eyebrows, the designer shoes, and about the most expensive plain white T shirts that money could buy. The Woodson's, even just rolling out of bed, couldn't help but look like they belonged in a Ralph Lauren commercial.

Sighing, and drinking without tasting it, he tried to focus on the task at hand, coaching himself with his father's familiar words, “time waits for no one.” He only had four days – by Tuesday at 3pm everything had to be done – and if it wasn't, then “too bad, so sad.” (another favorite quote). The first item on the list was one of many that he was dreading - phone calls. Not that anyone would be surprised by his call. The goings-on of the two Woodson brothers rarely went unnoticed. Mason was as famous for getting into trouble as Merit was for his cycling prowess. Mason had just turned 34 last month and ended up with a rather unflattering birthday photo in the people section of the local newspaper. Merit, younger by 9 months, kept hoping Mason would grow up. He grinned at the irony and noticed that his coffee cup was empty again. Swearing under his breath he packed up his things and began the five block walk home to his new apartment. Despite all of the unpacked boxes, the phone calls would be easier to make there. Merit, of course, had promised to help with the move, but was a no show – big surprise.

Mason had been leaving Merit high and dry since they were kids. One of the first times was when they were both eight. It was during the three sweet spot months that Merit could claim to be as old as his brother. The two had been playing hide and seek at the park where they were camping with their father for a boys only weekend. The beautiful weather and gorgeous mountain backdrop made it a very popular weekend destination. While Mason hid, Merit covered his eyes and started counting, skipping a few numbers toward the end in his hurry to get to 100. But Mason had jumped ship at about thirty-seven when he spied a group of kids gathering for a game of ball. He grinned at the memory – not because he enjoyed being abandoned, but Mason always did seemed to pay for his actions He ended up with a black eye that day – about the size and shape of a baseball. Although he never gave any specifics about the incident, their father seemed to take some pleasure in the day's events. He believed in a good knocking down every once in a while - “builds character.”

When Merit looked up, he realized he was at 912 Grace Street. His flat was on the third floor. It had two bedrooms, two baths, a generous living room and a modern galley kitchen hidden somewhere behind all of the unopened boxes. He set his stuff down on one box and pushed some others out of the way so he could sit. The first person he needed to call was their grandmother. He wished Mason could have made the call – he was the chattier of the two. He could just imagine Mason's end of the conversation . . .

“Bama! So good to hear your voice. What are you doing home on a gorgeous Saturday – you should out at the park turning all the men's heads.”

“Oh, well I don't believe that for a minute! You always look lovely. In fact, we have a family gathering on Tuesday – I'd love for you to come – you can even bring a date.”

“It will be at St. Mark's at 3:00pm. I think a lot of people will be wearing black, but you know how I love that blue dress of yours.”

“Oh, no, not a wedding I'm afraid. Something a little more subdued – a funeral in fact. Seems I've gone off and died . . .”

“Oh, now, now, Bama – don't take it so hard.”

Yes I know you had that lovely girl you wanted me to meet last week. You know I don't like blind dates. Hell, I told Merit I'd help with his move just to dodge that bullet.

“I mean heck – sorry about that.”

“Well, Bama, you know me. Seems I've angered the wrong pretty girl. She didn't mean to kill me of course, but accidents happen.”

“No, no, no – nothing as bad as all that. It will be an open coffin and I'll be in my Sunday best.”

“Of course - loves ya Bama – see you then . . . “

Author's Note:  This post was in response to a dice roll of five and one.  Peace, Luv, and Enchiladas!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Food Foibles (1,5)

Today's mission (based on a dice roll of one and five): a life musing inspired by taste . . .

HOLY MINEFIELD! I am so neurotic about food. I eat when I'm happy, when I'm sad, when I'm bored, and when I'm stressed. And I'm stressed a lot: stressed about shopping, cooking, calories, nutrition, and whether anyone will like the food I prepare. So much angst – its ridiculous!

But life musings are meant to be cathartic, so I can't leave it at that. I don't want to waste anymore time on this. And I don't need another diet, strategy, or plan – they all fail because the problem is deeper. There is a crucial component missing in my relationship with food. GRATITUDE! I'm whining about overeating while people are starving. I'm fretting over what to make for dinner, while others would take anything they could get. What a spoiled brat I have been!

Of course this is not a revolutionary concept. But somehow, while treading life's waters, we forget. Even giving thanks before dinner is more of a habit than an act of gratitude. So, short of tattooing “Gratitude” on my hand, how do I keep from falling back into mindlessness?

Perhaps I'll start collecting reminders (photos, art, quotes, statistics) to decorate my table, my fridge, and my pantry. Or perhaps there are rituals I can incorporate into my day. I don't want to forget how very blessed I am. What are your ideas for including gratitude in your day?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dream Dice (1,3)

It is morning and I'm in my favorite chair. The dishwasher is sloshing rhythmically in the next room. It's peaceful - like waves rolling in at the beach. I can see messy tufts of hair stick out from behind the computer monitor where my son is playing.  And the puppy is happily chewing by the back door (hopefully on a dog toy and not my shoes). Regardless, when I pause long enough to notice, I see how very blessed I am.

And yet it is not enough; I want more. I need a job, a mission, a hobby, a calling.  I want to pour my heart into something (and ideally be paid for it too). Where I stumble is in the choosing. Shall I pursue writing? photography? Should I get a “real” job and work in a cubicle? Or perhaps I should become a teacher, a mentor, or a coach? I don't know where to begin – and so I don't begin at all.

I guess this is my mini midlife crisis – the midlife crisis of a spoiled housewife no less. I'm very lucky to have such a dilemma. Many are struggling to get by in jobs they hate or wishing they had any job at all.  I have options. I have a year before I need to start contributing financially. An entire year to uncover my path. So I will search my soul and write. I will pour my heart onto the page and hope it leads me somewhere.  If it doesn't, that is fine too. I can keep dreaming and have a cubicle job too.

In the meantime, I'll take action. I will no longer let guilt, indecision, or cowardice keep me from starting.  I even have a plan.   I'm going to use dice to determine my path du jour.   I feel like the roll of the dice puts my path into the realm of fate and God.  Even if it is just random, it gives me somewhere to start.  And if one path doesn't feel right, then I'll try another.  At least I'll be trying.

Anyway, it works like this . . . I roll the dice and read them from left to right.  The first tells me what to write and the second tells me where to find inspiration.  For this post, I rolled a one and a three. Maybe after enough posts, you can guess what the dice meanings are. I could use some help naming my dice inspired plan. “Dice Directed Dream Pursuit” does not really cut it.  Any ideas?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Fall Walk



Thursday, October 20, 2011

It's All Good

There is so much beauty and goodness in the world.  At the moment I feel fabulously overwhelmed by it and close to tears.  I'm not going to wait for an illness or a tragedy to start enjoying every second of this life.  People are so very good and beautiful - even with all their faults.  Even with my own.  I am enough.  Enough for my husband.  Enough for my children.  Enough for the amazing, rewarding, well paying job coming my way (are you listening universe).  You know what else is good? WARMTH!  Warmth is such a fabulous luxury whether it be under the covers, by the fireplace, in the bath, or in the car with the heat at full blast.  Warmth is good!  I'm very appreciative of it.  Cold is good too.  I'm going to be cold when I get out of the car here soon.  Cold awakens your senses and lets you know you are alive.  I must admit, however, to wishing I'd brought another wonderful thing - it is called a coat.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Squirrel Brains

I have come to believe that there are truths being offered up by the universe.  These truths hold the answers to everything.  From where you left your keys to how to live your dream life.

The good news, is that God wants us to hear these truths.  The bad news, is that we are not very good listeners.  Some people listen at church.  Others listen during meditation or a long slow run. Those are great methods, but why leave it at that?  The universe is talking all of the time; so why not listen all of the time?

Sounds good in theory, but not so easy in real life.  My squirrel brain is often babbling on so loud and incessantly, that I can hear little else.  But all is not lost, I have found a new way to quiet my brain. She is pictured above destroying an egg carton.  I call her "She Can Offer Up Truths" (actually I just call her Scout, but I like that the acronym works).  When I'm with her, my squirrel brain turns off.  She helps me live in the moment (even if the moment involves extracting my favorite shoes from her mouth).  I'm sure she is here to help me find my truths.  I plan on asking her lots of questions and I'm ridiculously giddy anticipating all that I will learn.

You can ask her questions too if you want (just let me finish writing up the liability waiver).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Nightstand Secrets

1.  For starters, you know that I'm ridiculously egotistical (seriously, I have taken a picture of my nightstand and actually believe that you care).
2.  I'm a middle aged mom (young enough to have the art projects, but old enough to need two types of lotion).
3.  I am either so carefree that I don't care what time it is, or I'm so addicted to my iPhone (which incidentally does tell time) that I sleep with it under my pillow.
4.  I have opposable thumbs (otherwise I would not bother owning pens).
5.  I like to read but usually borrow books from the library.  You can see a library card sticking out of the book in front.  And you know I do not own that book.  Because if I had read it and become a highly effective person, I sure as hell wouldn't be taking pictures of my nightstand.
    So, what are the top five things I could learn from your nightstand???

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    The Great Ice Bath Debate

    They say that the best way to recover from a long run is to take an ice bath.  It reduces inflammation, prevents soreness, and speeds up recovery.  Many runners swear by the ice bath method.  I even have a friend who claims she likes it!  Well, darling, I love ya, but YOU'RE WEIRD!  Seriously, after I have run for an arguably insane amount of time, I deserve a %@#$* hot bath.  What is your opinion???

    I don't know how many people will actually read this, but I hope at least my husband responds :)