Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Only Fly

When I existed in the other realm with my favorite angel, Michael, I asked him to teach me to fly. His wings were stronger than my small, delicate ones, and he often let me ride with him, stretched out on his back, my head resting softly against the warmth of his neck. But I really wanted to fly the way he did, with wings that stirred the air into a swirl of colors; spectral colors which later would be captured by an artist on earth and lovingly placed on canvas, (for everything which becomes beautiful is first brushed by angel wings).

As we climbed the highest mountain, Michael told me stories. Of human wars and human loves, of the contrasting strength and frailty of the human spirit, of the absence of love which is fear.

"What does fear feel like?" I asked.

"There are a thousand ways I could tell you," Michael answered, "but it is better that you feel it for yourself. Are you ready?"

I saw then that we had reached the summit of the mountain. I nodded.

Michael instructed me to take his hand. "When we leap," he said, "feel the movement of your wings, how they stretch and move and hold you aloft. Focus on the beauty of the smallest thing you can see. Don't look backward to where you were, or forward to where you are going. Only fly."

And we leaped from that great mountain and flew, my hand clutching Michael's hand, his light and energy pouring through my being. I smiled, turned to look at him, and he was gone. Then I faltered; my wings stopped beating. I looked behind me, searching for Michael. I turned and looked before me, searching for Michael. And there was no Michael, only me. Something within me shattered and fell. For a few minutes I tried to move my wings, but they were paralyzed by a feeling I didn't recognize, and soon my body fell with whatever had broken inside of me.

I felt pain when I landed; felt the strange liquid which fell from the corners of my closed eyes. When I opened them, there was Michael's face, looking down at me. The liquid fell from his eyes, too, so I reached up with my hand and touched it.

"They are called tears," Michael told me. "When you go to earth, you will know them again. They will come for one of two reasons: whenever you cannot contain the love that is in you, or whenever you believe that love is absent."

Michael helped me stand and brushed the debris from my being. "What did you think of fear?"

"I didn't like it at all. It made my wings feel frozen, and I stopped flying." Michael nodded.

I thought of something else, and tilted my head as I looked at him. "When you left, you took love with you."

"Only this one time," he said. "So you must forever remember one thing."

"And what is that?"

"No matter how much you may think otherwise, love is always with you."

Separation: The Great Illusion

Or so they say. We're all connected, every day of our lives. A few minutes ago, as I tossed dirty clothes into the washer, all I could think of was the last time my son came home, and we were looking for him at the airport. His plane had landed about an hour before; my family had split up to look for him, and I walked out of Starbucks with hot coffee in my hand when I saw him walking toward me through the terminal in his desert camo, looking older and more like a man than ever. I had thirty seconds to watch him before he saw me. He's not a very observant soldier - I was three feet away before he knew I was there. He put his arms around me with a hug of superhuman strength, and kissed me on the cheek in that way sophisticated world travelers have. This man, flesh of my flesh, is a spirit which I carried in my body for nine months. How, then, can he ever be separate from me, even if he's on the other side of the world?

Band of Angels

I like birds because they remind me of certain angels I have known. My favorite angel was Michael - dark, beautiful Michael - whose feathers were always a bit oily and unkempt. He had a long, straight nose and a quirky smile, and eyes that burned red-brown like Georgia soil in summer. He was quick and muscular and built as much like a racehorse as an angel can be. Whenever he returned from his travels on earth he'd bring me souvenirs of rocks or leaves or flowers. Then we'd race each other along the golden river (he always let me win) and across the water to the big rock island that sleeps in the middle. It was there I'd spend eons preening his wing feathers and listening, rapt, to his war stories and the occasional bawdy joke. Sometimes he smelled of whisky. If Michael had been born on earth he would've been Irish. I loved him the most.

There was Raphael, that shining angel of death, who enjoyed his occupation more than anyone. He was a practical jokester who could convince the minor angels that not even they were immune to his power, and so he would bring them lambs blood to smear over their doorways at night, in exchange for cigarettes. His favorites were Lucky Strikes, and it was always amusing to watch the lesser angels reappear suddenly in the heavens, girded with tobacco.

Of all the archangels, Gabriel was the most beautiful. He looked like John Schneider at 18, only more golden. And his eyes were not only blue - they were that blue you have seen only once in your lifetime - remember it? That blue. The one that made you stand in quiet awe until some shift of light stole it away. To look into Gabriel's eyes was to no longer thirst; to be in his presence was paradise.

When Michael and the other warrior angels were away, I'd listen to Israfel play his flute. Israfel rarely spoke except through his music, and we had between us a quiet understanding. His hair was curly and blonde, soft as a toddler's, and sometimes when he slept I ran my fingers through the silk of it. With his flute he created the sweetest of songs, a keening and a longing, a melancholy lilting that was like the wings of hummingbirds lightly brushing a thousand silver windchimes.

And among them all, my friends, my angels, not one of them warned me that being human would hurt so much. If I had known, I would never have left the sheltering love of their wings.

The Sum of My Experience

Every human being on this earth is born with a tragedy, and it isn't original sin. He's born with the tragedy that he has to grow up. That he has to leave the nest, the security, and go out to do battle. He has to lose everything that is lovely and fight for a new loveliness of his own making, and it's a tragedy. A lot of people don't have the courage to do it.
Helen Hayes (1900 - 1993)

I've left cyber footprints on The World Wide Web. Many have been erased. This morning I learned that a lot of my marks were obliterated forever in a massive, late December drive failure over at Journalspace.

Just so you know, this place is not permanent, and can be gone in the blink of an eye.

So I wonder what to do. There is something so convenient about writing online. But I know that if, at the age of 10, I had written my childhood musings on the as-yet-undreamed internet, instead of in a diary or on index cards, those words would most likely not exist anymore. Exactly the same way my hundreds of private and public entries at Journalspace do not exist anymore, except in small, imperfect caches at Google. And even those will go away eventually, and can in no way be tied to me. You know...the me whose name is on a birth certificate and census records.

Even as a child, I was driven to leave a mark. I wanted to be a Famous Author, or at least remembered. So where, now, is the sum of my experience? Only in my head. Not on paper, not chiseled in stone. This THING I'm talking about was my biggest regret when my father died. That a brain that contained so much information was going away. Massive drive failure.

So do I start over here, or on paper? Or both? I'm tired of losing everything lovely.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fashion Faux Pas Through the Ages

I've been thinking a lot lately about the way I dress, and particularly about my inability to find clothes I want to buy. When I shop, I have these elaborate fantasies of finding things that Sophia Loren would have worn in the 1960's, but all I can find are either a) teenager clothes, or b) things that Mama Cass would have worn in the 1960's. Since I'm trying very hard to not dress like a teenager anymore (and failing), it occurred to me that I have a European body instead of an American body. The only thing that will save me is a trip to Italy to buy an entire new wardrobe.

But the truth is, I've never been a fashionista. Ever. And I have proof. My sister and I used to affectionately call ourselves The Goodwill Sisters, presumably because if Goodwill Stores had advertised back in the day, we would have been their walking billboards.

Since most photos from my childhood are still in albums at my mom's house, I can only go back to about 1974 or so.

Here I am as Lady Godiva, at Swope Park in Kansas City, Missouri. This outfit was most likely purchased at Kmart, and my mother probably objected to it because it's obviously too tight. I have to confess that I still seem to be wearing clothes that, well, aren't baggy.

This is me in 1975? Here you see my very first pair of blue jeans. That's right; I was 13 before I ever had jeans. I wanted jeans so badly that I made sure they went halfway up my chest. Obviously, my philosophy was that chickens don't care what you wear. Also, I wore that blue t-shirt until it had holes in it.

One of the blizzards of the late 70's? I think this was my birthday, and my sister and I were tired of being cooped up in the house. So we both donned the bridesmaid dresses from our brother's wedding, grabbed our shawls, and went outside to illustrate the striking contrast between the piles of snow the snowplow had just left behind, and our keen fashion sense. No, that's not a snowball hitting the side of my head, it's a flower.

I believe we're at Kings Island in Cincinnati? 1976? That hat! That hair! I don't know!

I'm confused by the date on this photo. It says June 81, but I thought it was our parents' anniversary in August. It's very likely that the film stayed in the camera until the next year, when we finally had the photos developed. Anyway, the important thing is that my sister and I created an elaborate Italian dinner of spaghetti, and served it to mom and dad as an Italian man and woman, hence the penciled in moustache on my sister. This is as close as I ever got to dressing like Sophia Loren.

Here I am as a Senior in high school, flanked by two Indianapolis Colts football players who came to my school to play basketball. I want to reach through the photo to fix my collar and close my mouth. This was the first time I ever saw a man.

I can't explain this.

This is me as a 44-year-old mother, trying to resurrect my Lady Godiva phase. Please tell me I'm not in my underwear.

It's obvious I need help. There must be a world beyond cotton t-shirts, tank tops, and denim. If anyone would like to foot the bill for my shopping spree in Milan, please let me know.

Friday, December 26, 2008


There is a timelessness in fog. Nature, in sudden modesty, veils herself in white gauze. Fog whispers to us of mysteries, begs us to come forward and see, allows us to hide. It makes time stand still, and dresses Winter in quiet beauty.

Post-Christmas Stress Syndrome

To put it plainly, I look like dog crap. My eyes have packed their bags, and are ready to board the next red-eye. My fingers look like fat little sausages. This is my body's response to three things: too much sugar, too much salt, and too much stress.

How many times have I said to myself - I'm never going to be caught shopping on Christmas Eve again. I'm going to start Christmas shopping the day after Halloween, and have everything wrapped by Thanksgiving. Okay, maybe I haven't really ever been that ambitious, but I'd like to be.

Holy cow, it's raining AGAIN. I know this, not because there are any windows in my office (at work), but because I can hear the downpour on the roof. Plus I just peaked at Yahoo weather and it said Freezing Rain. Yay.

But back to my rehashing of Christmas. Usually, my family has a 100% gift success rate. But yesterday, five things failed to fit: the jacket I ordered for myself online (my husband marked the box To Laura From Laura and put it under the tree), a pair of insulated coveralls from my son to my husband, an insulated vest from my son to me, a pair of boots from me to my husband, and a set of floor mats I special ordered for my son's truck. And who do you suppose will be responsible for returning all these things? Me. It will be like having to go Christmas shopping all over again, only with even longer lines. Bah humbug.

On a lighter note *cough*, the first thing I did this morning at work was to look through the latest Associated Press slideshow from Iraq, to see if there were any pictures of my son. This is a habit very similar to buying a lottery ticket, and of course nothing ever comes of it. But it's nice to hope.

Monday, December 22, 2008

This is not my blog.

This isn't really my blog. The real me is at another site; a site that crashed 3 or 4 days ago and is inoperable for at least another week. The site owners had to mail the drives containing all the site information to someone who could raise it from the dead, and the word is that recovering everything will cost more money than the site generated last year. If I were the owner, I might have to consider shutting the place down forever. Not that I'm advocating that.

That's why (if anyone is reading this at all) you're going to see a lot of crazy, sad, weird, scattered, nonsensical posts from me for a while. Because that's who I am at the other place, and well, that's who I am. In the immortal words of Marshall (Slim Shady) (Eminem) Mathers, "All I can do is be myself."

In other news, it's bitterly cold. It's the kind of cold that sticks to your skin long after you've gone indoors, that makes you want to wear an undershirt like your mom used to make you do, that tempts you to touch a metal pole with your tongue. Huh? It's late January weather, and I'm disappointed in it. If the weather were a student, and I were weather's teacher, I would give it an F minus. Or a minus 20 F.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Crazy Cat Lady

Merry Christmas from Spivey.

Spivey was sick recently with what I believe was The Dysentery. So he went to see Dr. Casey and his staff, who had to poke him in the bottom, not once but three times. Then they gave him medicine, which his owner faithfully gave him morning and night. And now Spivey is all better, and enjoying the Holidays.

I made a Christmas card from the first photo, for Spivey to send to Dr. Casey and his staff. He wanted to thank them for making him all better.

Dear Santa:

If I could have a beautiful house of my own, even if it was empty, I would have everything I ever wanted.

And maybe a few chickens.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

How many idiots does it take?

Last night after dinner, hubby was craving something sweet (as usual), so I scrounged around and found a box of Jello Instant Pudding (butterscotch) and whipped it up for him. After dividing it into different bowls, I asked if he wanted what was left in the mixing bowl. As I held the larger bowl above his bowl, he scraped the remainder out with a spoon and said, "How many idiots does it take to scrape a bowl?"

Feeling unusually quick-witted, I said,


Then I giggled about it the rest of the night.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A New Beginning

Yesterday, along with my niece Working Mom, I shot the wedding of Jasmine, who I had the pleasure of watching grow from a sweet little girl into a beautiful woman. Jasmine was, in fact, my oldest son's first girlfriend. Back in elementary school, he would pick her wildflowers and give her pretty little things for Valentine's Day. But now she belongs to someone else.

Jeremy. But it's okay, because I think he'll be good to her.

And she deserves it.

Best wishes to Jasmine and Jeremy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

God will catch us.

The leaves are falling, falling as from far off,
as though far gardens withered in the skies;
they are falling with denying gestures.

And in the nights the heavy earth is falling
from all the stars down into loneliness.

We are all falling. This hand falls.
And look at others; it is in them all.

And yet there is One who holds this falling
endlessly gently in his hands.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Autumn

Monday, October 06, 2008


...I'd like to go on a photographic journey some place, with a tripod and lenses and filters. Somewhere away from interstates and cities, where the light falls just right at six p.m. and no one else has ever photographed it.

Until then, this will have to do:

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I've got a ride in Denver tomorrow night

My son leaves for Iraq on Monday. If your son was going to Iraq on Monday, what would you do? Yes, that's right, you would book a flight to Denver for tomorrow afternoon, and a flight back on Sunday night, because, apparently, no one is flying to Colorado Springs.

So I've spent the morning at work not working, unless you call making travel arrangements work, which I do. I'll arrive in Denver tomorrow at about 4:30 p.m., pick up my rental car at Alamo, drive 60 miles on this highway:

to Colorado Springs, check into my Bed & Breakfast (which I didn't intentionally book, but will be a delight anyway:

(and don't give me grief about the name), and then I get to spend the whole weekend with my son. Maybe we'll go to the Garden of the Gods:

or to the top of Pike's Peak, or to see a movie, or to a bar, or to lots of yummy restaurants including maybe the Japanese hibachi grill one. Or maybe we'll just go shopping at Best Buy, which is Chase's favorite place to shop.

It doesn't really matter what we do, as long as I get to spend this time with him before he goes. It feels like the best gift ever.

P.S. The title of this post is sort of a line from a song by Garth Brooks called Much Too Young (to Feel this Damn Old).

This ol' highway's getting longer
Seems there ain't no end in sight
To sleep would be best, but I just can't afford to rest
I've got to ride in Denver tomorrow night

I always like to sing songs in my head about the cities I visit.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

My new ball gown

The gossip sheets have all been abuzz regarding what I am wearing to the Willow Manor Ball.

Well, here it is, darlings:

Isn't it fab? Of course it's not a wedding dress! I insist. Even if it were, I'm just daring enough to show up in public in it, anyway. Because I'm a maverick. I only hope I don't trip over that bubble hem all night. It would be a horrible faux pas to fall into some man's arms.

Since I couldn't make a choice between Cary Grant and Clark Gable, I allowed both of them to accompany me. I do declare, I can't decide which of them is the handsomest. I'm hoping there will be some sort of duel by the end of the ball. Of course I will insist that the gentlemen take it outside, so as to not spoil the ambience of Willow's lovely ball.

Then I will allow the one who is still alive to escort me home.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

7 Weird and Frightening Random Facts About Me

1. I always mix my corn and mashed potatoes together, then douse it all with Lea & Perrin's Worchestershire Sauce. Don't knock it until you've tried it.

2. The sound of those plastic library book jackets makes me very happy. I'd like to have a coat made out of plastic library book jackets. And maybe a matching purse.

3. The only road rage I ever experience is a) when someone is tailgating me so closely that I can't see their headlights, and b) when I'm leaving the proper two car lengths in front of me on the interstate, and someone passes me on the right to fill that gap. Oh yes, I was saving that spot for you. Asshole! And look! You aren't getting there any faster than I am!!

4. Okay, I lied about number 3 being my only road rage. It seems odd to me that the people who do stupid things on the road are invariably talking on their cell phones.

5. I want to murder high fructose corn syrup and monosodium glutamate, and bury them in a shallow, unmarked grave in the woods. HFCS is obviously made from corn, and MSG is made from soybeans, and my husband grows corn and soybeans. So I'm really cutting my own throat by hating them, but they're really, really BAD for you. So if your body needs corn and soybeans, eat them raw.

6. I'm a Patriot and a lover of the Constitution, and I get really worked up about the state of our Country. Pretty sure it's going to cause me to have a stroke someday.

7. I've always wanted a buggy. Or to be Amish. But with electricity. And the internet.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Decisions, decisions.

Our lives are rife with choices, some of which can greatly impact our lives, some of which can take us down the right path - or the wrong one.

Currently, I'm trying to decide whose overtures to accept concerning the ball at Willow Manor, hosted by Willow.

Here is the gorgeous and charming Cary Grant, trying to persuade me to accept his invitation to the ball.

Isn't he sweet?

Clark Gable, on the other hand, uses unconventional and sometimes frightening methods:

Not tonight, dear, I have a headache.

But Clark also has a very tender and persuasive side:

Oh, fiddle-dee-dee. What's a girl to do?
I'll think about it tomorrow.

arose in the morning

Rose, O pure contradiction, delight
in being no one's sleep under so many

Rainer Maria Rilke, October 27, 1925

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It's not easy being vintage.

My beloved parents and siblings, and the home where I grew up. I'm standing in front of my mother. I'm sure she made my outfit.

I don't know what I would do without photographs.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The absurdity of it all.

Haven't written much here, obviously, but not because I haven't wanted to. I had hoped to make this journal a little more positive than my other one - a place for lightness and art and maybe photography. Well, I don't have time for any of that. Actually, that's not a fair statement. I would have time if I made those things a priority, but then (surprisingly!) everything else would go to hell in a handbasket.

Today I've had to deal with less artistic things like why we received a certified letter from our bank, why the BMV told my son he has 6 points on his driver's license, whether our insurance agent sent proof of insurance to the bank that sent us a certified letter. Yesterday, I was on the phone calling every pawn shop in Colorado Springs trying to find one with an HP laptop, because while my son was in sniper school in Georgia, someone stole the one he bought in June while he was home on leave. SURPRISE! Not. It happens every time he's gone for missions or training. The poor guy...he has had to learn early that life sucks. I try desperately to encourage him to have a positive outlook on life, but it's a little hard to get to him through the black cloud that constantly hangs over his head.

It has occurred to me before that perhaps "bad luck" is a method the universe uses to let us know we aren't in the right place or on the right track. It's either that, or God really, really wants to shape us into people with a lot of character and strength.

Have you ever had a run of bad luck? Continuous tragedies? If so, what do you do to remain positive through it all?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A year is a long time.

I've had a string of bad days. All the tiny things added up to a mountain that overwhelmed me yesterday, and I cried at work. I hate when I do that. But when I discussed my day last night with a glass of tequila, tequila helped me figure out that the root of all my anxiety is my son's impending deployment to Iraq. It happens in 16 days.

It's unlikely that I'll get to see him before he goes, and I haven't seen him since June. I haven't seen him much in the last four years, and he's only 22. So, basically, I've missed out on almost one-sixth of his life. Here comes another year, when he'll be on the other side of the world, in a not-so-nice place. And trust me, time goes by slowly when someone you love is at war.

I've often thought about the mothers who have sent their sons off to war. The ancient Roman mothers, the Greeks, every other mother throughout history - none of them knowing when or if their boys would come back.

At least I have the internet, instead of messenger pigeons.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tea, Anyone?

In a shameless attempt to catch up to my niece's superior photography skills, I purchased (yesterday) a new lens for my camera: a Canon 50mm f/1.8. I love this little beauty so far, though I haven't had much of a chance to use it yet, since I first had to recharge my camera's battery and I've been busy ever since. But here's a preview of what it'll do:

I love the way the background fades away, and we are encouraged to focus on one thing, like the way my imitation chintz teacup is obviously not level on the bottom.

Friday, September 12, 2008

About My New Widget

I first discovered the fabulous widget in my sidebar on Willow's blog, which led me to the discovery of whole other worlds of blog.

The widget is the brainchild of Caroline Smailes and someone called Stray.

I hope you'll try it out. Apologies in advance to those of you unlucky enough to land here at my sparse space. I prefer to think of it as neat and tidy.

Must. Have. It.

Just now, while buying a St. Michael medal to wear while my son is in Iraq (I'm not Catholic, but I'll take all the help I can get), I ran across this gem of an Italian charm:

OH, my gosh, ohmygosh. This little camera is encrusted with tiny brown and white diamonds, and it's ONLY something ridiculous like $583.20 at

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Violin, Oil on Fiberboard, 2006

This is one of few oil paintings I have ever completed. I wanted to put it here because I've never photographed it before, and photographs on my computers have a tendency to get lost forever.

Yes, I know my lines are crooked.

This was quite a feat for me, actually. To paint something I didn't totally obsess over to make it photorealistic. That's because I made it all up in my head, and my head is very fuzzy.

Things to Do Today (After Work)

1. Wash all the dishes I didn't do last night.
2. Laundry: about 5 loads? haha, this makes me laugh.
3. Clean Bathroom. Already done, at 5:30 this morning. Don't ask me why. Of course I was 30 minutes late to work.
4. Wash, peel, slice, and freeze about 20 50 pounds of peaches. I spent most of last weekend doing this with peaches from another tree, the one I consider a "rogue" because it sprouted from a pit I threw to the chickens about 10 years ago. Oddly enough, those peaches, though smaller, have a much sweeter flavor than the ones from the tree I spent fifty bucks on.
5. GET OFF THE COMPUTER!!! (Just a gentle reminder)
6. Get to bed early. (Again with the reminder.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Roses With Gaudy-an Blur

I'm puzzled over this whole Photoshop thing.

Monday, September 08, 2008

On Disappointment and Wavering Faith.

If I've ever gotten anything I wanted, or prayed for, it's hard to remember. Except for having become a farm wife and the mother of three boys (which should be more than enough reward for anyone), my prayers have gone unfulfilled, perhaps even unheard. And I'm not talking about winning-the-lottery kinds of prayer, but smaller things...desires that are almost insignificant in the larger scheme of things.

Most recently, my heart-welling prayer was for my oldest son, a soldier in the U.S. Army Infantry, who has had more than his share of disappointments, too: difficult high school years, three girlfriends who have dumped him (one while he was in basic training, one while he was in Iraq), numerous thefts of his belongings...I could go on. So when he was given the opportunity to go to sniper school - something he's been wanting for a long time - I was thrilled for him. Hopeful that, at last, here would be a success, something to bolster his faith and his confidence in himself. I prayed and prayed for him, for the clarity of his mind, the sharpness of his skills, for his ability to do math. And that he would be given the opportunity to at last prove himself as the kind of soldier he has always wanted to be.

As usual, the desires of my heart, and his, were denied. I finally spoke to him on the phone last night, and the words "I failed out" broke my heart.

One of the greatest tragedies in life is that a mother cannot do anything to prevent her children's disappointments.

Another tragedy is when you begin to lose faith in prayer.

So I console myself with this, as all Christians do - that God has a good reason for my son to not be a sniper - and that should be enough.