Friday, September 30, 2011

A Sea of Love

That's my daughter on the right, her work boots perched on a sturdy strand of rope, her body leaning into  what might be called a trestletree as she furls a sail. What you can't see in this photo is the churning ocean--or me on the deck watching her and trying to fathom how I became the mother of a tall-ship sailor. My element is dirt. Iowa black dirt. Fields of corn as vast as an ocean. Little towns rising up out of the green like islands. C's element is definitely the sea. She loved it from the first time I took her to the beach  the summer she was a year and a half old. I held her in my arms and dipped her in the salty water, then wrapped her in a towel and laid her on the warm sand under an umbrella for a nap. Her love of water and the ocean was one of the first things I understood about her. The rest has come much more slowly, and will, I suspect, continue to be a work in progress. Understanding does not always come quickly between mother and child even when love is boundless.

C. is getting married a week from Saturday. The sea of family love is so deep and so wide right now, so clear and blue that it can barely be distinguished from sky. Tomorrow morning my younger daughter will set out from her northern city and drive east, picking up her grandmother from her eastern city, and later one of C's friends. On Thursday my son and his wife will bundle up their three kids, leave the desert behind and board a plane. About the same time the man who loves me and I will get on our flight from Los Angeles. There will be aunts and uncles, cousins and friends finding their way east by land, by air, and for all I know, by boat. And we will all end up on the rocky coast of Maine to witness two sailors pledge their love to one another.

Love. I feel like I'm swimming in it.

Photo credit: Mr. Ex

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Kitchen/Final Details and Other Details

I woke up in a fog this morning. The man who loves me was out the door before I got my bearings, and I stumbled around for at least an hour wondering what was wrong with me. I think it might have been a dream that threw itself over me like a blanket, but I couldn't remember anything coherent. The nightmare that I had on Catalina--a certain someone shot me and several other people--keeps coming back to me. The sensation of that dream was so intense. The wound just below my heart and the doctor telling me that the bullet couldn't be removed--that I would just have to live with the pain. The physical ache was so palpable that, when I woke that morning, I thought maybe I'd fallen asleep on top of a pen or a pencil and that's why it was hurting so in the area of my rib cage, but no, it was just the dream. This morning's stupor was almost as upsetting. But I don't know why.

So today for whatever reason, I could barely function. Sitting down to write was out of the question. Opening the mail with the big brown envelope from the QDRO attorney not even the remotest possibility. So I ran errands. Did chores. Puttered. Nearly put the finishing touches on the KITCHEN PROJECT. Yesterday the electrician installed the second light bar---

which was necessary because the spotlights on the fixture in the main part of the room, we discovered, could not be aimed toward the sink without blinding whomever happened to be sitting at the bar. We can see to chop veggies now and wash dishes. Surgery could probably be performed in my kitchen if necessary. Maybe to remove a bullet. Or whatever.

And here's my finished chalkboard--frame and all, which I never got around to posting.

And now that wallpaper is completely unfashionable, I thought I'd put some up. I've never liked how my kitchen cabinets hang down below the opening between the kitchen and the dining room. It looks like a miscalculation to me, as in--oops--wow, we should have made that opening smaller so the backs of the cupboards wouldn't show. So I did this:

I think I like it. There are tiles above my stove that have a similar design. I'd never hung wallpaper before, so this was the right size project for a beginner. And I discovered something very handy. If you wear reading glasses, you can put them on upside down if you are doing "close work" that requires you to look up. But I might do this to the wallpaper:

Just cuz I like silvery things, I guess. And because I'm just looking for stuff to do rather than do the stuff I have to do. This evening I decided I wanted to live at the beach (again) and found THIS. I looked at houses just to be sure I wouldn't open my mail.

Every visit from my kids and grandkids could be a beach vacation if I lived there.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned or Challenged Literary Classics

This is a list from the Banned Books Week website.

"According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, at least 46 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the target of ban attempts.
The titles below represent banned or challenged books on that list ( see the entire list here). For more information on why these books were challenged, visit challenged classics and the Banned Books Week Web site."

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger 
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck 
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee 
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker 
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce 
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison 
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding 
9. 1984, by George Orwell 

11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov 
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck 

15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller 
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley 
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell 
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway 
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner 
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway 

23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston 
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison 
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison 
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell 
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright 
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey 
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut 
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway 

33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London 

36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin 

38. All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren 

40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien 

45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair 

48. Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence 
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess 
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin 

53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote 

55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie 

57. Sophie's Choice, by William Styron 

64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence 

66. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut 
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles 

73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs 
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh 
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence 

80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer 

84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller 

88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser 

97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike 

I'm happy to say that I've read all but a handful of the books on the list.  I have my Catholic high school in rural Iowa to thank. Many  of the books were assigned reading--or I was led to them by reading an assigned book by the same author. The most recent book I've read is on this list, too. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is a coming of age story filled with heartbreaking betrayal and confusion and ultimate victory, but at a price. A book like Invisible Man could be a life raft for a young man or woman whose dreams for college have fallen apart.

I still remember the first book I read  that served as a life raft. There it was on the page--someone who was crying over the very same thing that was hurting me. I was seven or eight years old, and my best friend was moving away. Carol from the Country by Frieda Friedman got me through it. The book is now called simply, Carol.

I'm thinking of all the books that I've turned to over the years. I owe a lot of writers. Do you have a book that's served as a life raft for you?

It's Banned Books Week

This a display from the children's section of my much loved local bookstore, Vroman's.

In honor of banned books week, buy a banned book. Read a banned book. Or maybe write one.

Here is a manifesto that is also part of the display at Vroman's. But maybe you can find an easier to read version if you go HERE.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Return from Catalina

For 48 hours, I didn't talk on the phone or email or blog.

I ate a lot of fish,

 talked for hours with a friend, 

walked through a botanical garden.

I also taught a writing workshop. It would be lovely to do more of that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TaDa!!! Announcement!!!

I am a practicing heterosexual.
Just sayin'.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell ends today. The Pentagon is now accepting applications from openly gay candidates. Which I'm in favor of. Not the Pentagon especially. But openly gay, if that's what you are. And if you're not openly gay, that's fine by me, too. I don't go around shouting about how much I love men. Well. Ok. Sometimes I do. But check out my profile. It doesn't say "heterosexual." Cuz, well.....I'm so much more than that. And what I do in that regard--none of your business. Unless you're the person I shared that merlot with last night.
By the way, here are the states where gay marriage is legal:
Massachusettes, Connecticut, D.C., New Hampshire New York, Vermont, and Iowa. And there are other states, too, where you can have a same-sex civil union or domestic partnership.
And did you know that there's a movement among heterosexual couples to support marriage equality by getting their marriage licenses in states where gay marriage is legal?
And sort of on the subject of marriage equality: I cannot get married again if I would like to continue to receive alimony from the person I put through law school and supported in so many ways for  thirty years.
But anyhow, don't forget--I'm a practicing heterosexual.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Divorce Sickness

"Love sickness" has been supported by some hard science in recent years. I'm pretty sure I emailed a copy of this article to a certain someone.

So if a person can have love sickness, how about divorce sickness?
Things aren't quite wrapped up with my divorce yet. Close. But not over. The stipulation to divide joint assets still needs to be recorded with the court. Meanwhile I have an additional attorney to deal with--the one who will handle dividing the pension funds. It took me days to open her email. You'd think I was scheduling a colonoscopy. Today there was an actual envelope from this law firm in my mail. White powder might as well have come sifting out of it.  I think I might have food poisoning, I told the man who loves me. But I'm fine, really. I opened the envelope--finally. I took a shower. Made some fresh vegetable juice.

Weary. Four years and two months since my marriage ended. I am weary and broke and just plain sick of anything that has to do with my divorce.

And I really wish lawyers were more like doctors. Doctors nowadays tell you what is going on. I can go to my dermatologist to have a cyst removed, and she's a fount of information--and after she's done telling you about cysts, she pulls handouts out of cabinet and sends you home with an information sheet. All that without even asking a question. And it doesn't cost hundreds of dollars an hour.

photo credit:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Pray-er or The Mantis Religiosa

The quotes below the photos are an amalgam of info from Wikipedia, the National Geographic Website, the University of Kentucky and Dave's Garden:

More commonly known as the Praying Mantis, these most recent visitors to my patio are "named for their prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests the position of prayer. The scientific name Mantodea comes from the Greek words μάντις meaning a prophet, and εἶδος for form or shape.  Mantis refers to the genus mantis, to which only some praying mantids belong. Historically, the term mantid was used to refer to any member of the order because for most of the past century, only one family was recognized within the order; technically, however, the term only refers to this one family, meaning the species in the other 14 recently established families are not mantids, by definition (i.e., they are empusids, or hymenopodids, etc.), and the term "mantises" should be used when referring to the entire order." 

I'm afraid I'd have to pray for a more scientific brain before I understand all that.I'm going with the common "praying mantis,"--because I'm common. Maybe for the purposes of impressing someone, I will use the very learned sounding "Mantis Religiosa." "Stagmomantis californica" or "California Mantis" would probably be correct, too.

I spotted the green one in the picture above while pruning my hibiscus hedge. The next day while having my lunch on the patio, this one appeared.

Some of the info on the Internet says mantises change color like chameleons--which these photos seem to bear out, but other sites claim that color changes are due to molting, or that color is pre-determined and mantises choose an environment based on their color. Which doesn't really explain why we had a green mantis on the brown patio umbrella pole last fall--unless dropping into Haley's salad was a pre-meditated event.

Female mantises are reputed to engage in predatory mating behavior--but that could be a lab study anomaly due to bright lights, etc. In a more natural setting males have been observed engaging the female in a courtship dance in order to change her interest from feeding to mating. Take heed, human males. 

Other mantis trivia worth noting: "Mantises are exclusively predatory. Insects form the primary diet, but larger species have been known to prey on small scorpions,lizardsfrogsbirdssnakesfish, and even rodents."

Dear Mantises,
Please do not eat any birds or the snake. Here is your menu:

I recommend "écureuil tres jeune." They're more tender when they're small.

A female mantis lays 12 to 40 eggs every fall.I'll be on the lookout for those egg sacks so I don't disturb them. And if anyone knows how I can make the mantises big enough to devour a squirrel let me know.