Monday, December 10, 2012

A Three Story Life: Another Christmas

Holiday season. Coming off a cold, I got slammed anew by a nondefined malady that I choose to call passing my evil twin. I was asleep for 2 days. My father left a note on the dining room table the second day that he was at the Hyundai dealership getting his whoozit what-iffed, and Scott was asleep upstairs. I found the note on the third day. I assume Scott woke up, because he was there at dinner tonight. The tree's not up, nor do I personally employ the Christmas elf that has put the tree up for the last 7 Christmases. That after having shopped for, and bought the artificial tree. I have not shopped once this year. I think I may not. I hate shopping. I don't even like to pick up takeout. I thought the smell of evergreen was missing, so I bought some greens, and they are now dropping needles on the valet. I'll throw them out soon. They do not smell like evergreen. After doing dishes for the 3rd time today, I decided what I want for Christmas. I want the whole house cleaned top to bottom. I told Dad. Nothing will happen though, until I acquire a cleaning crew, organize a day when we can be all out of the house, get us all out of the house, and pay the crew. Be a problem-solver, Linda, my friend says. Fine. Do the research, find the crew, get the schedule organized. Put up the tree. Get, make or steal gifts for my own giving and my father and brother to give. Wrap same. Seems I've been sick at Christmas time more than once in recent years. Maybe the holiday hooha makes me sick. This year I'll promise myself again that next year I'll be somewhere with a beautiful fire, a hot drink, a few good books and only squirrels and deer outdoors for company, and all of us grateful, grateful, grateful.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Stellar Repo: Excerpt 2

After the door clicked, shutting the sun out, she stood waiting for her pupils to pick recognizable shapes out of the black. Red lights are a stupid choice, she thought for the thousandth time. Pissed off for 3 secs and done with that then, too. Dumb bar owners. I could be drinking already.

A voice wafted from stage right. "Stel." She followed the sound, squinting at the faint glow from the back bar. The owner of the voice and The Bar strolled over, reaching for a glass on his way. "Stel. Waddelitbe?"

"Shot. Thankee, Toke. Make it two."

"Stellar. Whatcha doin?"

"I'm done. Done. Done. Did I mention? I'm done." Stellar turned her head to the old hailer on the stool next to the one she slid onto.

"Surly. Ta for the ask. How's it?"

Surly Bugger shrugged his shoulders past his ears. "You'd listen if I said? No. I'm the same. What are you done with?"

"Everything."

"What'll you do instead?"

Stellar clenched her shoulders together front, rotated her upper body twice around, flexed her toes which no one saw because they were exercising inside boots that were, in her toes' opinion, entirely too pointy.

"Well, Surly. I'll just be me."

"There a market for that then?"

"'Nuff, Surl."

"Stellar, your drink. Run a tab?"

"Yes, thanks for your interest, Token."

"Pleasure."

"Stellar Repo!" A hand slapped her hard between the shoulders. "Good on ya for the Black Feather retrieve!" Stellar glanced at Surly, who dipped to drown a grin in his frosty beverage. Stellar ignored the man and the hard hand. "What is it you know, Surly Bugger?"

"I know nothing. I never claimed to know anything. I am an empty space in a universe of not knowing."

Stellar Repo, newly unemployed again, cranky recollector of lost stuff and such swiveled her stool to the room while throwing back her first shot. She swirled the stool back to the bar, picked up the second shot, slammed, and continued the circuit of the floor she was drilled into.

Back at the bar. "Surly, how do you keep going?"

"Drink."

"When you're not drinking."

"I don't not drink. What's your point? Are you going deep on me?" Surly turned his head toward Stellar, a thing Surly hadn't done in so long, Stellar imagined a creaky noise.

"I've never been done before. Thought you had some insight on doneness."

"I do. But why would I share? Done. Remember?"

"Good point."

A hard-boiled knee banged into Stellar's on the other side. A beefy fist laid itself ungently on the bar rail, and Surly's whole head, eyes pinioned center, took some interest.

"Token Guy, my man!" A drink for the little lady."

Oh deities, Surly moaned, and scrunched his whole body toward an escape route into his glass. Stellar squinched her eyes at the hand on the bar, moved her head once to signal no to Toke.

"Pay me what you owe, Clod, and I'll buy my own drink."

"It's Claud actually."

"Whatever. You have my loot?"

The big man turned to The Bar patrons, heartily stalling. "Madams! Gents! Stellar Repo got me my stole frigate back. This little lady right here," patting Stellar's shoulder in a way that bordered on groping. Surly shuffled his stool farther to the right, moved his drink to his right palm. Halfway into Claud's exploratory hug, Stellar's left foot in the pointy boot landed a kick midway between the man's head and his own feet.

"Watch the hands, Clod. That's not how it is in womanland."

Toke preemptively set another shot in front of Stellar, one in front of Claud, and reaching below the bar, pulled a transfer port out and slapped it next to the glasses. "Drink's on the house, Claud. Pay Stellar. Drink. Go. In that order. My man. Now." Claud shakily picked up the port, poked some, threw the drink down his neck, and tiptoed to the exit. A brief flash of blazing light and the door hissed shut behind him.

A breath that might have been ahem drifted between Surly and Stellar. "Um. Stellar Repo? I have a situation that -."

Stellar flipped a card from her side pocket, extended it over her shoulder. "Office hours on the back. Ta."

Surly bumped his stool closer to Stellar. "What?" he asked. "What did you mistakenly think I know?"

Stellar grinned briefly. "This Black Feather retrieve. I got a tip. A message in the ether, too wispy, no time to trace. Who tips on this level? It was a joystick, a ride, nothing bigger. Why?" She gestured with her head toward the exit. "For a skidder, no less."

"A minute." Surly stilled. "No, nothing." Stellar stared at the side of Surly's bald dome where a flicker above his eyebrow vibrated. All of Surly blinked out in a flash with SIGNAL LOST hovering midthorax. Stellar, a drink in her right hand, leaned, reached across her body with her left and palm slapped Surly in the spot his forehead should have been. Surly winked back onto the stool. "Ta," he said.

"Don't mention."

Toke wandered over, removed the empties and shuffled the trans in front of Stellar. She nodded, swiped her wrist over the black wafer, glanced at the unit, touched the screen and moved it back to Toke, who picked it up and stashed it back under the bar.

Stellar stood. "Surly, you'll report anything that surfaces, yeah. Token Guy, ta. Use some of that loot to get some earth plane light spectrum bulbs, huh?"

Toke rolled his eyes. "Cheers, Stel."

Back on the blistering sidewalk, Stellar paused, eyes slammed shut at the agony of light. She opened one eye a sliver, and whoosh, blackness again as a hood dropped down. She was picked up, tossed over a smelly body, toted four steps and thrown into a hover that shot skyward before she stopped rolling.

The hover landed. Stellar draped nose to armpit again, then dropped on a floor from height. Hard. The hood was yanked off by a grinning ugly face too close.

"Get away from me, slick. This is my drinking night. I want to be alone."

Ugly guffawed. "You know where you are?"

"I do, rockabilly." She cold-cocked him. He went quietly.

An unmanly giggle she recognized turned her head.

She sat up, rubbing her knuckles. "A woman likes to be asked, McCloskey. Asked nice."

"Got a gig for you."

"No."

"McCloskey's Rule. The answer is never no. If required, it's I'll get back to you."

"No."

"Real marks are involved. Clinking coin of the realm," his singsong wheedle made her stomach think about hurling.

"No."

"I could kill you now."

Stellar stood up, fussed with her hair mashed by the hood. She growled, kicked the downed rockabilly just for fun.

"Later, McCloskey. Next time you want me to beat up your goon, make an appointment. Call first. Ask nice." She pointed a finger at him, stabbed once. Walked out. "You'll get my bill," she shouted from the lift.













Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Three Story Life: Backstory

We move about our lives in the history of our experience, like the classic suit in the closet we don't think about, no longer wear, but have not abandoned. Knowledge we can get if we're intellectually curious. We can knead awareness like physic dough, but the ingredients that made us are still there. Change can help us grow; the yeast of chaos delivered to our cupboard. Two conversations in an hour yesterday made me try to put that old classic suit on again. My father has 86 years of history and experience. I have no idea, and never will, what his life means to him, beyond what he shares in anecdotes, and what I can discern from reactions to events. He has no idea what my experience has made of me either. My brother may still be absorbing everyday events, but Alzheimer's disease has changed the interactions for the three of us. Dad wants it the way it was before. Scott wants the relationship to change. I need to adapt to the now with agility. Three individuals. One living with Alzheimer's, one living in the past, and me trying to make it all work harmoniously. Does how we came to this point matter? What defines who we are? The first conversation yesterday started early with Dad showing me the long sheet of details about the antidepressant Scott is on - the side effects that we're seeing in Scott. That's easy. We need a change in prescription. But Dad relayed stories about Scott's behavior that told me he's still trying to control his son. He picked up the sheet on the medication to read it because he wants a change to make Scott follow his orders. Scott, for the first time, is shaking off the control. Dad doesn't like it. What's my role? I told Dad for the thousandth time that we can only offer Scott safety and joy. He's done being trained. Get the medication changed, hope for a better outcome, and let the rest go. My backstory doesn't help me at all now. I hated my parents complete domination. I got out from under it, fought for dominion over my own experience, succeeded some, lost some. And here I am back in it. I can handle my own parental stuff, but Scott never did get away. Am I cheering his tiny steps for independence as a loving sister, or as a champion of freedom for myself? The second conversation yesterday was with a dear friend about affirmative action. Chaos delivered the newspaper headline to our talk, and my companion thinks it is time to abandon preferential legislation. I understand that constitutionally the argument is valid. My backstory is woman experience, starting with being the daughter of a sexually abused daughter; earning less for decades, counseling to get a grip, fighting to gain the ground I did, trying to help sisters up. I have strong feelings and history on this subject. It's my old classic suit. And I got angry yesterday, and suppressed it until later. The anger was a reasonable reaction, but now I'm questioning my feelings again. I'm mighty confused. Does it matter that my father wants to control his child, my brother? I don't know. Can I contribute anything healing and constructive? Why did a disagreement about affirmative action affect me so much? I don't know that either. I have the child story, sibling story, and adult senior woman story. Which serves me best? What helps my loved ones? And when the hell will I get rid of that old classic suit that used to fit but no longer does?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Three Story Life: Navigation

Yesterday Dad yelled down the stairs. "I'm going out to scrape my car." Okay, I thought. What's that about? He was leaving for the dentist in half an hour. Practicing observe and let it go, I took note and moved on to other tasks. A thought drifted into focus. Maybe this reportage is about bearings. I fell a couple weeks ago. Afterward my left brain got caught up in analyzing what happened. It was a new surprising event and I mentally gnawed on it to get its flavor. I lost my bearings. Spinning out, my father calls it. What Dad was doing when he gave me his location was using me like a star in a sea of change. At first it seemed I was a sextant, but that's a tool - there are still x and y points to locate in order to use a tool for navigation. We have physical locomotion needs: how far away is the ground? How close that step? And we have psychological placement needs. Establishing behaviors that define our physiologic borders. Scott has lost sense of where his body ends and the rest of the world starts. We don't know how he feels about this. Dad knows how it feels, and although he cannot communicate it any more than Scott can, he sets his internal sextant to coordinate the points he can recognize. If I know where he is, then he feels less at sea. I become either a point on the horizon or the north star. It's an awesome role, and I will respect the assignment with humility and reverence, and think of it as an opportunity for growth. And this awareness is a marker to watch for this in other seniors, and hopefully, to remember to use it myself.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Stellar Repo: Excerpt One

"Lady Pierpont. This man is not your husband."

The woman opposite the desk glanced wide-eyed at the man seated next to her. "You're sure?" Her voice cracked like thin ice. The whites of her eyes gleamed.

"No doubt."

Lady Pierpont vibrated. Her long painted nails flicked the tiny tablet in her hands open. Closed. Click. Click. "What do I do?"

"That's a job for counsel, Lady Pierpont." Stellar Repo leaked breath through stretched lips, gazing at her new client. Thinking.

"Lady Pierpont. May I call you Mabel? Mabel. The suit is a pseudomorph. Oscar Pierpont has been replaced molecule by molecule. You've heard of imaginal cells? No. Anyway. He is a new thing. His apparatus is the same. He may or may not have some remnant of who he was banging around in there. But mostly he's an empty shell named Lord Pierpont. Do you understand?"

"But how?"

"How is not relevant. Irreversible. He is. Gone. You are united in connubial bliss with - let me be blunt - an astoundingly wealthy cypher."

Stella squinted at the shell in the suit. Thinking. Diagnosis got her so many marks. Standard guild stuff. Next steps billed several degrees of magnitude more.

"Lady Pierpont. Mabel. Were your needs being met?"

"Sorry?" The click click of the tab stopped.

"How long are you married?"

"Fifteen years."

"You are much younger than Lord Pierpont."

"Well. Yes."

"And sex?"

"Uh."

"I see. Mabel. Think. Blank page. No peccadillos, preferences, predilections. All new gear."

"Uh. Oh!"

"Indeed."

The two women stared at Lord Oscar Pierpont. The man with no preconceiveds. A new thing.

"Well. Mabel. On your way then. We both have work to do. Will you be paying with credit? Or marks?"

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

I'll do just about anything not to write. Essays I write are about avoiding writing. It's National Novel Writing Month. Got a good start with a terrific idea, whizzed through day one. Then nothing. I lit the writing lamp. Drank tea. More tea. Sharpened pencils, dusted the desk, lit candles, got out a new notebook, cleaned the bathroom, washed kitchen walls, changed out the wreath on the front door. Made two dinners one nght, so I could write through dinner the next. Today I had to costume. The novel I'm not writing is Stellar Repo, a space noir scifi adventure, loosely based on my stint as aircraft collection manager for MNB. I had no idea what I was in for, but my learning curve was hilarious. Repossessing aircraft. Friends suggested I write those stories. Young Emmett, my friends' TV show producer said, do it in space. Space noir. Princess Leia as Sam Spade. Noir requires a black fedora. Check. Cigarette. check. Scruffy beard shadow. Check. Sunglasses, ditto. The sigreet is a rolled 3x5 card, set on fire. I had to draw the smoke with a dry media Photoshop brush, smudged. The stubble was a burnt cork, just like Dad used to do when we were kids, and it rained every Halloween, forcing us to go trick or treating in our raincoats and Junior Fire Marshall hats as smoky firemen. Space noir. Next up: the cover of Stellar Repo. And an excerpt.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Trimming My Wick

Three wicks actually. The secret to candle burning longevity is keep the wick trimmed. The light is more intense, less smoky. As we learn to shine our own light in our world, as our passions are identified and we practice active engagement from our center, our light is wide and diffuse. Like a flashlight with an unfocused beam. I am learning to focus on the causes I care about, the people I love and the community I am able to serve. I'm trimming my wick. Three wicks actually.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hallowe'en Birthday with Mom

All Hallows Eve is the night jack o'lanterns with candles line the path to your door so the ancestors can visit. I light an orange candle on my desk, and imagine what Mom and I would do today. She'd like the art glass tree from Ariana Gallery I have on my black Motawi tile table, and the collection of essential oils on her Pewabic tile coaster. She loved tile. So do I. We may visit an art tile store. Lunch at Pronto in Royal Oak, where she would have the vegetarian lawash she always ordered. Or at Amadeus in Ann Arbor, where she has never been and I have to guess what she may order there. She will wear her witch hat. I will wear my catwoman mask with my glasses on top. We will laugh, share stories of Halloween birthdays long ago. Dad's joke he told when people first learned her birthday was on Halloween. He'd say "yeah, she rode in on a broom." Tonight I'll put dinner on the table with her ceramic pumpkin hot pads, and later, I'll go to sleep remembering the woman in the witch hat on her birthday, with love.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

These Are My Heroes. My Dad.

I'll draw a pencil portrait of Dad later, but I like this style of artwork for this post. It's the 1950s and 1960s when my father was working 12 to 16 hours a day as a machinist to support the family, and when his kids were growing up. When he wasn't at work, he taught us stuff. How to ride a bicycle. Swing a bat and a hammer, catch a fly, throw 'em out at second base, ice skate, block a goal, duck a punch, throw a punch, pass a football. When we were a little older, how to cut the grass, change spark plugs and a tire, paint a room, play an instrument, break up with grace. Later still, how to wet plaster. Okay, now add the plaster. Stir. Faster. Too slow. Throw that out. Start over. And in an emergency golf outing training session, how to play golf. Okay. You drive straight. Just keep doing that until the ball's in the hole. Always pick up your ball at 8. How to negotiate with machine tool guys. Don't snow them. Ask questions. Tell the truth. Walk tall. And now, how to cope with aging, pain, loss and grief. My friend Beckie's grandmother, Shirley, said that when you're old, what you miss most is how you defined yourself. I wish Dad could think of himself as a hero, as all of his children do.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

These Are My Heroes

Here are their faces. I admire many women of conscience and courage. Dr. Wangari Maathai. An San Suu Kyi. Hatshepsut.  These women are mighty. And globally known. But each began taking steps at home. In communities. I live in this house. In this community, in this town, in this state, in this country, on this planet. Change and growth seem daunting to me when the enormity of the world's problems swell my brain. I feel overwhelmed, helpless. Will we live soon on a planet where violence against women has ended? Can we escape the privatization of prisons and the incarceration of our poor brothers and sisters? Can we feed all the children? To take action feels too hard when viewed through a mighty global lens. Today my hero is my great grandmother. She came to America from Finland with four children. Her husband had gone ahead to work in the Canadian silver mines. He died young. My great-grandmother did what all women did in the early 20th century. She worked. Her children worked. She grew food, milked her cow, fought off male predators, taught her children to live in nature. She carried water home, cooked the food she grew and the food her men caught. She chopped wood, did laundry in community over a fire with other women. She concocted medicines, baked bread to barter for other food, and laughed. She told stories, and listened to other storytellers. She cried and raged. She danced. She loved her extended family, and threw out her man when he came home too drunk. Let him back in when he was contrite. She lived. Completely. And she is a hero to me.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

International Day of The Girl

We need The International Millennium of the Girl. We must make this start today. As we all pray for the health of a young girl in Pakistan, we each can use our voices to end violence against girls and women on this planet. I can't do much to change the minds of Taliban monsters. I used my voice today in a way I can. I wrote a comment on a care2 article with the headline "3 Cherry Popping Myths." I wrote: "Really? On the International Day of The Girl, to use that unfortunate headline is inexcusable. On any day it exacerbates the misogynistic treatment of women and girls. Please give some thought to not promoting this offhand language in any discussion of female bodies." And the offensive headline was removed. care2 and its authors have responsibility to respect its readers. We have responsibility to end the hatred. There is nothing cute about using women and girls to promote readership. There is no excuse to encourage language or behavior that denigrates and violates females. Throughout history we have seen the casual aside slide downward into the abuse and murder of women. Let's stop this now and continually. Let's begin today. You can use your voice to end violence against women and girls.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Three Story Life: Bared

Feeling slightly crazy, I have to, as my sister claims I do, find something or someone to blame. Maybe I'm not eating well. Check. Maybe I'm not sleeping. Check. Maybe I've been quite busy, and cannot find spaces and places to chill. Check. Maybe I'm not exercising enough. Or at all. My brain has stopped functioning at its usual high level of adaptation. Cannot make a decision about anything, including what to make for dinner. I just finished illustrating a book, sent it to the printer, got the proofs and it was laid out wrong. Just wrong. And I couldn't figure out either how that happened, or what I could do about it. For days. And I lost my nightgown. Seems like a simple hunt: it never left the dungeon. But it was gone. For days. Until I thought to check under the bed. I'm counting how many times I do dishes in a day, how many undershirts I fold. I left the oven on for half a day on Friday. Just now the Serial Yapper Dog was doing what he does, and Dad was screaming "shut up!" I listened to this, and had no reaction at all. Is this what burnout feels like? My brother and sister-in-law stopped by on Sunday, and while we were talking, Dad got up to go to the bathroom and he was in his underwear. He had his hearing aids in, but he had them on mute. His teeth were on the coffee table. And I had no reaction at all, which is probably for the best, but I wonder. Saw my beautiful friend Carol the other day and we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon. I told her about the brain power save, and she furrowed her brow. For a professional in the field of coping, this furrow was as significant as a doctor saying "hmm." She thinks I may be overwhelmed. I think so too.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Voice

Voice is larynx vibration. The etymology of the noun voice could be from the Old French voiz, Sanskrit vakti, Greek eipon, Prussian wackis, Olde English stefn. Utterance, cry, speech, say, call, word. Voice is speaking an opinion out loud. Voice is an author's style, a writer's unique storytelling, a storyteller's gift to the world. I have an issue with voice. On many levels, during what may be many lifetimes. And I'm being shoved into solving this, beginning in intense therapy over years, and now by the universe. This morning, as I composed myself to write, I looked at npr's site and found a First Listen from Sean Rowe's The Salesman and the Shark. He was self-conscious about voice and would erase tapes with his voice on them, leaving only the music. He has a new album with his gorgeous voice all through. Researching background for the novella I'm writing, this morning I googled at-risk children. Link to link traveling, I found a reference to adult children of narcissistic parents (I am one) and read that a daughter who hasn't sorted this stuff out will go from bad relationship to bad relationship looking for a powerful person to grant her voice. I have to grant myself voice. I have to be the powerful person who gives me what I need. That's what I'm mulling, battling and stumbling through. It is a compelling journey. An old soul can be just a slow learner. A woman once read a brooch I have. She said she saw an old woman on the ice, a tribal leader, but she could not tell her whole truth. She said this while holding her own throat tightly. I had written a story about a shaman on the ice, a tribal leader. I thought it was a made-up story. The woman who saw the elder on the ice said it was me. What strikes me now is not the idea of past lives, but a tribal leader not being able to tell her whole truth. If it was a past life, then I've been stifling my truth for lifetimes. I guided a Share Circle in June about using voice. It was scary, but I did it. Since June, I receive at least one message about using voice per day. I don't think I've got the lesson learned yet. And I don't know what the Source wants me to do. But I'm observing, and trying, and that's the best I can offer just now. The change from then to now is that I am excited about what I'll find, what depth of me I'll discover, what I have to say that may be needed in the world. That is awesome. Perhaps that is the lesson. We have choice. We have free will. We can grant ourselves voice, and then use our voices to make our world more loving, more truthful.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Writing Books Written by Women

Natalie Goldberg. How could I have forgotten Natalie Goldberg? Wild Mind. Writing Down the Bones. And I found on my goodreads list, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit, by Brenda Ueland. I need to read it again, because although I raved about it, I do not remember it. Brain fade. Power save. I'm going to find it right now, and buy one. And if I forget I own it, I'll buy it again.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Books on Writing Written by Women

A screenwriter shared with another screenwriter a list of writing books. All were written by men. Since I was cranky about this sort of thing at the time, I tried to find more books about writing written by women; more than those I know and own and appreciate. Until I find more, here we begin. Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way. Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer. Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird. Carolyn Heilbrun, Writing a Woman's Life. I looked up Frances Marion, a woman who made a fabulous living screenwriting in 1920s' Hollywood. She published a book in 1937 How to Write and Sell Film Stories, and I just put a hold on it from Hope College. I LOVE Michigan's library system. Web wandering, I found Leigh Brackett, a woman writer with a long career in many writing genres, including screenwriting. Unknown yet if she wrote anything about the writing process. Stay tuned. Keep writing!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Deaf C.A.N. Interpreters Sign Wicked at Wharton

We three sisters saw Wicked at the Wharton Center in East Lansing yesterday. It was a beautiful day, wonderful performance and a marvelous experience altogether. The musical had two sign language interpreters: Henry Lowe and Tracey Romano. The two were lyrical, expressive, wondrous, and my eyes were riveted on center stage, and on Henry and Tracey performing as well. I called Wharton today to discover if the two men were with the Wicked 2nd national tour, or Michigan interpreters. Nina Silbergleit, Director of Patron Services, returned my call, and said the interpreters are with Michigan's Deaf Community Action Network. After hiring Deaf C.A.N. interpreters for a previous Broadway tour performance, she retains their services for all shows so interpreted. Wicked won 3 of the 11 Tony Awards it was nominated for in 2003/4, and I think the American Theatre Wing needs to honor also those who interpret performances for the hearing impaired with heart, skill and empathy as rich as we saw yesterday. Bravo! Wharton Center and Nina Silbergleit for accessibility options, Bravo! Wicked, and Bravo! Henry and Tracey.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Using Your Voice for a Change

Leah Lambaria started selfworks.org. You can read about her mission on the site, and get a glimpse of the energy uplifting Leah is engaged in, and while you're there, sign on to get invitations to Share Circles. Believing that our stories are inspirational to other people- and that what we need to learn, we teach- Leah asked friends, colleagues, women's circle participants to share a personal story. It was a privilege for me to guide the first share circle. I have difficulty using my voice. My true voice, with authentic expression of who I really am. I write, blog, talk, mostly armored with the protective devices I have picked up since birth. Many of us speak to improve our lie (in the golf sense-about moving the ball), impress, obfuscate. The noble reason is to view ourselves in the best possible light. The hidden reason is to hide our perceived flaws, our subordinate position to the audience, whatever other ego stuff we've donned, or cannot see. In the spirit of authenticity, I did not prepare. What was going to come out would come out. I was among friends, in a safe and loving environment. Nothing bad could happen; only good would result for all of us. I would feel what being true to me felt like. And that's what happened. It was a beautiful experience. I encourage you to tell your story, in whatever way, and however loudly you are able. Do this among friends, and feel the joy.

Sunyata and Potatoes

I woke from an active dream yesterday in which my lucid brain was trying to write my dreaming brain a message. Literally, on a piece of paper with black ink. It was one word. Ademuth, asemuth, absemuth, something I could not recapture. Frustrated, I wrote what I just wrote here on a 3x5 card, and got on with the day. This morning, finding this card on my desk, and another that read "do Barb's honey label," I first made Barb's raw honey label, and then ruminated on the word. Azimuth came forward out of the dark. Looked that up. I know I knew that word, but I have no idea what my brain was sending me about that word. Planetary alignment? Words with z? How High the Moon? Noodling on the internet, I bumped into Saturn/Venus, Jupiter viewing early mornings this month. Trine, conjunct, quincunx and all that. Then I chose an Osho Zen Tarot card and got the Major Arcana No-thingness (sunyata). Then I read Pisces at Free Will Astrology, in which I was reminded that while the Spanish were looking for El Dorado gold in the New World, what they brought home was the potato. Then I stopped to feel the energy zooming around my body. I looked up sunyata (soon-yuh-tah), and decided I will not have time in this incarnation to learn everything I think I want to know. And that is the message from this morning. The energy zooming around my body is universal energy. Life is the journey from nothingness to nothingness. And in between, there are fun, interesting, joyous, awesome, quixotic, maddening, delightful, gorgeous, crazy, wonderful sidetrips. And potatoes. Why worry?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Anti-Aging

Anti-aging. What does that mean? I'm against aging? You're against aging. We all are going to fight aging with every breath we take. We will wrest control of aging from...uh...you know, whoever has control of it right now. No. This is not our word. This is a marketing word, a gimmick, trickery. 30-something guys in NY and Paris came up with this word because they work at advertising agencies that sell us the prestige beauty products we buy. How much money do we spend on this war against getting old? Just the anti-aging products alone in the U.S. only are worth $300 billion. How many children will that feed a year? How much healthcare can we afford per annum with that kind of loot? We are practically buried in anti-aging junk hourly. We can ignore it, but we don't. Because the boys in Paris and NY know that the word anti-aging, with enough exposure, causes nostalgia, regret, insecurity, low self-esteem and depression for what used to be; and women are going to cure what causes all that by hauling our credit cards and our butts to the mall. I just chastised a care2 post titled "Embracing Our Sexuality in Middle Age." My hackles got wriggly with the title. How does one exactly embrace one's sexuality? Ugh. Three paragraphs were in quotations, but it wasn't until I got to the 4th paragraph that the author revealed it wasn't her writing, it was Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen. I admire Jean Shinoda Bolen. Jean Shinoda Bolen is a wise woman, who writes about how to be a juicy crone. She is the real deal. Read all her books, and you will grow just by having the ink in front of your eyes. But the lifecoach, when she did start speaking in her own voice in the 4th paragraph, wrote she hates the word crone. Oh, fine. I was already riled, then glanced at the picture care2 put over the article. A woman, maybe over 55, maybe not. She'd either had a little work done, or she was airbrushed the way I altered my picture here. There is nothing real, nothing embracing, nothing authentic or true about this sort of manipulation. Although it was wicked fun to draw. If a woman chooses surgery, photoshop, or that $150 toner she can't live without, that's her business. And the business of the trillion dollar beauty products industry. The beauty products industry wants us to be unhappy with self, to live every day believing our true selves are not the best we can be. I get that. I buy stuff, too. But I do not enjoy the sort of activity-like scrubbing my own face just now-that makes me discontented with getting older. That makes me yearn for the past. That gives me pain. As I final-checked this picture, I thought I should take the ridges out of my nails. Somewhere in the etymology, yearn must share a common root with fool. I am aging. We're all aging at the same speed. My mother used to say consider the alternative. I get that, too. But the fight is to keep aging, not war on aging. No corpse I know owns 7 MAC lipglasses. I'm going to have to find out if MAC calls anything it puts out there anti-aging. Just looked. No anti-aging. MAC is smart. I want smart cosmetics companies that advertise as PRO-aging. Maybe with some 60+ year old women in the marketing and communications department. With titles. Can you imagine? You're a babe, babe! And you're wise, too, because you buy our goo! If that company ever shows up, my wallet will get more of a workout. For now, if I spend my money, it is with companies that honor, respect our age. No money to companies that want us to be unhappy with who we are.

Some Things Are Glowy, Some Not So Much

Carol, lovely friend, and I find this life philosophy satisfying for now. I'm dazzled by energies flying around these days, even when each day my yin is being yanged, or my yang yinned. The garden is growing beautifully, although it's so crazy hot that the lime basil has gone to seed already. That's the second year lime basil fail, but I will be back next year to try it again. Once you decide you can live with having no control over a plant, well, there you are. I can live with Dad's negativity because it's not mine, and I have no control over it. I can live with Scott's disappearance from our world, and hope he is finding some joy in his changing brain. I saw a bumper sticker the other day and I couldn't read it all, only the bottom line. Notice. Choose. Act. Looked up the phrase, and I think it's about bullying. I'm going to adapt it to my life, and quit bullying myself. I am noticing. Glowy things. Not so glowy things. And I am choosing. I am choosing not to act. Dad's life is his. So, I stay out of the rush of nonglowy stuff in his world he believes he needs to share, and choose the glowy things I share in mine. I rejoice when Scott is present. I recovered from the lime basil seeding by thoroughly enjoying the thyme. I picked some, a big deal for a new gardener. The smell! I showered, washed dishes, and still I had thyme on my hands. Makes me laugh. I gave my neighbor some. "I am delighted to share thyme with you," I told her, and we both laughed. Glowy things. Friends with beautiful laughs, and extraordinary brains, lighted souls. Glowy things are not rare. Glowy things are ours to notice. I choose glowy things. And I saved the lime basil seeds.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Other People's Business

Today is Scott's 48th birthday. I took him to breakfast to begin celebrating. The restaurant only had 4 other people in it. 3 men sat in the corner together. It was 8:20 a.m. so the three were not in a hurry to get to work. None looked old enough to be retired. They were talking loudly. Voices carry in a high ceilinged room when it's not crowded. One voice was dominant. Blah blah food stamps. Blah blah unemployment. Blah blah socialism. Within minutes, he established to me a little bit about him. He is either unemployed or underemployed, he will vote for the Republican or Tea Party candidate in the elections in November, he is blue collar, upper lower class, mildly educated, watches Fox News, and will have the tendency to lean in the "ists" direction. Classist, racist, etc. He is either hard of hearing, or believes his views need to be shared with the widest possible audience. I knew he was wearing either a John Deere or Caterpillar ballcap before I glanced his way as we were leaving. He talked the way working class people have talked for centuries - everyone else is doing it wrong. And then I wondered about me. About all the attention paid to other people's business. Perhaps when I focus on other's shortcomings, or develop a negative impression too fast, it's because there's something that's poking at me about me. OPB. OPB is not my business, it's not anybody's business. Social networking sites try really hard to make it their business, because those things are in the business of connecting people, not to each other, but to the marketers who are paying to reach the people who have to have an opinion on OPB. I don't care if someone likes WalMart.  I truly do not care what you had for dinner last night. That's OPB. Something changes in the world when comments can be made on every damn thing anyone does or espouses or thinks. People might begin to believe that their opinion matters beyond its importance. When OPB becomes my business, or your business, then sides are taken. Lines are drawn. And the importance of those lines is blown all out of proportion. Someone outside of our own locked heads must be blamed - whoever that is, even if it's someone just like us we do not recognize in our finger pointing. I learned a lesson today. It does not matter what I think about those guys in the corner. It's not my business. And I'm reminded again I don't have to have an opinion on everything. Scott and I enjoyed our breakfast together, right after we agreed that those guys were talking loud. And then we ignored them, and concentrated on our business - enjoying our breakfast and celebrating Scott's special day.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Plugins Are Out of Date

As if. One of the many reasons that computers will never replace humans is they're stupid. I'll grant you some humans might qualify, too, but no human on this planet will point out you have toilet paper on your shoe repeatedly after one reveal. "You have toilet paper on your shoe." Done. The plugins message banner is there every time I do anything. I've just endured 10 days of trying to get my entry to the 3 Minutes in Lyon Film Festival ready to mail, using old technology. Deadline May 25. Late April I completed the prep work. Early May I filmed on good days. Footage extends, and I get better at shooting each day; learn to pan slowly, hold steady, stay out of the direct sun. All prepared, I attempt to upload the film to my middle-aged Mac. Nothing. Nada. I try bribes, small sacrifices to the film gods. Nothing. I get a pretty picture of a laptop on the camera screen and not a damn thing else. Okay. Back out with a still camera to recreate the scenes. Open iMovie, and grind my way through learning how to work it on the fly. I cut audio tracks, do flips, transitions, fades and titles. Meanwhile I have the yellow police tape about my plugins and their current status on every single tab I open now. Google doubles down with a reminder that it does not, will not, and absolutely refuses to, support my version of Firefox. It forces me to Dismiss twice on every entry into the realm of the untrainable Google. Meanwhile, back in Filmland, I finally get iMovie to cooperate somewhat, move the masterpiece to Quicktime, and view a few glimpses of brief encounters, some tracking lines that look like a printer gone bad back in the 1980s, and no sound. Back to iMovie, wrestle it into submission again, playback works, back to Quicktime, back to phantom movie. Check the internet for forums, nobody wants to talk about iMovie 4. Nobody supports nothin' as old as this. I hop some more hurdles, get a good result with Quicktime and hustle the DVD to the post office. Mailed. Done. Get an email the next day that the file is 16 kb and not readable. Load all onto a stick, go see the computer guy at the library. He tries, he prints a conversion plan for iMovie to MP4 files via Saturn, to whatever. No, the library does not have a Mac. Who's buying all the Apple stuff? Huh? I stop by the technology store in town with its gleaming new Mac in the window. Do they have a working Mac? No. Damn. I think they have a lot of nerve selling Macs without one in the shop. Back to the phone store because my new phone has seized over all the calls to the film festival guy who was nice enough to tell me that if I was having more trouble, call. Guy at phone store loads my stuff onto a new phone, and says that will be $79.99. I said what? no, that's not the deal the other guy and I talked about. Well, the other guy ain't here. Fine. Load the shit back on the malfunctioning phone. Good bye. Meanwhile, back in Filmland the festival director calls and tells me if I can load the film to youtube with an unlisted address, send him the link and he can see it, we're good to go. Rosemary calls during the upload process. She becomes the film birthing coach. Pant. Breathe. Hold breath. Stop pushing. We, together, are the proud parents of a .dv. Rosemary said congratulations! I wanted a cigarette. Meanwhile, my plugins are still out of date. So's my car. So's my phone. So am I. I'm going to put yellow police tape around all of us.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

2012 Garden: Tomato Tombstone

Mom said life has 3 physical stages. One, you can do everything you want. Two, you can do everything, but you're going to pay for it. Three, you can't do anything. I'm sort of in two. On recent mornings, having worked in the garden for a few hours, getting out of bed is a slow process. The 1800 square feet of garden is a daunting breadth of ground to get the grass off, and get the seeds in. The onions and sugar snap peas, planted the weekend of April 21, have growth. That's exciting. The two varietals of spinach, golden beets, radishes, green peppers have not much to show yet. And I'm sore from all the weeding and shoveling and bending. I planted Bonny Best and Beefsteak tomato heirloom seeds in compostable cups. Tomatoes from seeds wasn't my first choice, but Dad remembers these plants fondly, and so I'm growing the seeds. This is an amazingly complicated undertaking. My idea of growing is 1) stick it in the dirt, and 2) pick the result. I'm hauling tomato plants in and out/up and down like kids in brainy baby programs. No temperature under 62 degrees. Not too moist, but not dry. Don't crowd. Too much direct sunlight and the seedlings will get leggy. Use a growlight with the leaves almost touching the bulb. For an hour a day, if there is no breeze for the plants to play in, use a fan. But direct sunlight is good, too, especially if there's a breeze. When the plants are 6 inches tall, separate into 2" containers. But don't touch the stems, and don't jostle the roots. Keep away from the leaves while you're about it.  And the soil temperature of the new pot must be the same as the old pot. Use a thermometer. Moisture level, ditto. Oh, remember the fan. And the moist, but not wet, but not dry. Did I mention the fan? And the growlight? I told Dad today on the tenth trip up and down the stairs toting a tray of tomato plants - it's the tomatoes that are going to get me. Dad said I put Lilies of the Valley on your mother's tombstone, I'll put tomato plants on yours. I told him just make sure the soil isn't too moist. Or too dry. Skip the fan and the growlight.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Kennecott Eagle Mine: Get Out of Michigan

Silver smelting killed my great-grandfather Viktori. Mining chemicals killed my great-uncle Arno. Both died before their 48th birthday from the effects of silver and nickel mining. I know my family grieved for these two men. But that was before I was born. Now I grieve for the damage, pollution and corruption of silver/copper/nickel mining in our world today. Viktori worked at the Deloro Mine sometime between 1904 and 1910. The mine closed, but Canada is still working to clean up the site; the terrible destruction perpetrated by the mine company for the time it was in operation. There has never been a silver/nickel mine that did not pollute its environs. Never. N E V E R. Kennecott Metals (a division of Rio Tinto, world perpetrator of mining earth pillage) is building their Eagle Mine without all the federal, Michigan and local permissions in place. The Salmon Trout River, unique breeding habitat for coasters, is about to be irreversibly polluted. The Yellow Dog River watershed is going to be ravaged. The local population has been denied their ancestral rights to tribal holy grounds. Judges have reversed decision back and forth until the only ones who can keep any damn thing straight are the legal buzzards working for Kennecott and Rio Tinto. Kennecott continues to claim they are environmentally responsible which they have never been. Never. N E V E R. Kennecott has convinced locals that this mine will add jobs. 100 jobs. For 5 years. Maybe. And 100 years from now we will still be cleaning up their shit. Kennecott is now digging the mile long decline tunnel, the ore extraction method called long hole stope mining. This is a more profitable way to extract ore because it's worker free. Did you catch that? Worker free. Where's the jobs, lying Kennecott Metals? Note the lighthearted lies about commitment to returning the area to stable and productive conditions. What the hell does that mean? Lies and damnable liars. Today Huron Mountain Club has finally stepped up and filed a federal law suit against Kennecott Metals because the super-rich families who started the Huron Mountain Club are richer than the rich guys who own Kennecott Metals.This is now not just about the 1% - this is about the .50% vs the .50%. Thus begins what I'm going to call the swinging dick ballet. We will be seeing more acts in this ensemble piece in the near future as the field of combatants in the top 1% battle for financial center stage. In this case I'm cheering for the Huron Mountain Boys because, when the Club was established in 1889 it was a hunting and fishing club, however exclusive, and if the Salmon Trout coasters, and the Yellow Dog Watershed peoples get to live harmoniously with nature after kicking Kennecott the hell out of Michigan, I'm all for that. We need to stand up and be heard about the degradation of our planet, and ourselves. Keep it simple: say it loud. This is my planet, and I will use my voice to keep her healthy, even if I suspect no one who can help stop this terrible destruction is listening.

A Three Story Life-The Wayback Machine

The Wayback Machine was a device used by Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman to visit history. Peabody's Improbable History cartoons were a feature of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show, a genius Jay Ward enterprise. Peabody, here, Mr. Peabody said to start, and we would then happily journey back in time. In our house, The Wayback Machine begins with that's like... or I remember. If Dad says I remember, there will be a tenuous connection to what we are talking about in real time. If it's that's like, the anecdote will have little or nothing to do with now. Many conversations include these two episodic references. I think older people talk this way because long-term memory is most readily accessible. Humans like to have self-relatedness. We all like to talk about ourselves. But the non sequitur recurrence makes it head spinning to keep up during a crisis that needs attention. In the midst of household problem solving, it's downright hard. It confuses me, it confuses people from outside our house who are participating in what's being discussed. Maybe it's common to try to explain what we did 45 years ago that may or may not have led us to where we are now. But information revealed in this way doesn't clarify anything for the listeners-it makes getting through a sticky wicket that much gummier. Today I said a dozen times, let's focus on the here and now. We moved into the 80s fairly quickly, but never did get out of that troublesome decade altogether. Do we all do that? Dad tells anecdotes to me as though I was not there when the story unfolded. This behavior is particularly perplexing because in every other way his cognitive function is fine. He just won't switch The Wayback Machine off, especially if we're confronting a situation that requires present tense attention and a rapid solution. I think those of us who are stuck in the past tend to stay stuck. Everything is a reflection, living is not done in the present. Problem solving is solving problems in the past. Alternative outcomes get reviewed repeatedly in private, until the past is a wheel in a cage. There must be some brain function that allows a successful conclusion from the past to stand in for what's going on now. I'm over analyzing this. I need more present and accounted for behavior in dealing with situations, because our lives right now contain serial situations. All I know truly is it is not possible to count your blessings when the wheel of self-analytics is going full speed, and I have great sympathy for my father. It has to be exhausting not to have blessings in the now to count.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Welcome to Earth, Lawson James

Friday morning I was roaming Taurus horoscopes. My great nephew would be a Taurus and I know nothing about The Bull, and was curious about the son beloved Bianca was going to deliver soon. While I was reading, I felt as though someone was leading me, coaxing. My niece had told her doctor that she did not want labor induced - she said her son should choose his one special day. It was an elegant, mature, fantastic statement, and I admired her, more than I do already. So I began to believe that Lawson would choose his day. His mother gave him the power. I chose to honor both the giver and receiver, and believed in Lawson as his own human being, and felt strongly that Friday was the day he would arrive in the world. I went upstairs and told Dad what I'd found. That Taurus is a determined, contented, solidly good human being overall. And Scorpio is the best parent for a Taurus child: they both like cuddling, hugging and touching. Bianca loved to be held when she was a baby. (Later I would tell my sister that was why Bianca was born 2 months early - she needed to be a Scorpio parent to a Taurus son.) May babies are contented and charmed. Taurus doesn't like to be pushed. Dad said he dreamed that Lawson was born on Friday. That was more confirmation, so I called my sister, the about-to-be grandmother. Couldn't reach her, but know that's not unusual. I knew, though, so I went to the ultimate source of all information - Facebook. And there it was - left for the hospital. Called my other sister because I don't have texting, and I know Carol texts, and forgets I don't. Susan called then after receiving a text message - he's here. I saddled up. First thing - I needed to find The Story of Ferdinand to bring to the new reading dynamic duo - the newest, minutes old - a Taurus. Found the hardcover at a Barnes & Noble near the hospital (the first book I've bought at a Barnes & Noble, so that's new, too.) Bianca has all the books I ever gave her, in pristine condition. I love that. But I also know I bought two of many, because I wanted the baby and toddler to be able to chew, maim, stand on, and throw books, too. Just so long as the child touched the book. Now Bianca will share her books with her son. And I have new books to get for Lawson James. I wandered through the children's book section, looking for familiar cloth, bath, chewable books, but found nothing. The familiar early books, Bianca already has. I touched favorites, remembering. All of Eric Carle. Good Night, Moon. I did not find Jan Pienkowski, but I know Bianca has many of his books. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom I can hardly wait to read to Lawson. And Owl Babies, although I can do Percy's part by heart - I want my mommy! I did happily discover On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman, and it's a beauty. So I wrote on the flyleaf of Ferdinand to both Bianca and her son, and wrote on the flyleaf of Nancy Tillman's book to Lawson himself.  And as Carl, the Henry Ford West Bloomfield volunteer was escorting me to the labor and delivery floor, and I was giddy with all this wonder, I said to Carl, he's 3 hours old, so he can read, yes? And Carl smiled and said, soon enough. On this glorious and singular day of Lawson's birth, my sister and I sat on the couch in the birthing suite (how cool is that?) and Carol asked, so, what is Friday's child? And I said, loving and giving.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Three Story Life - Fishbowl

I like privacy. It's been a designed part of my life, by arrangement and preference since I was 16. Fortune favored me by allowing the circumstances to keep my life quiet and personal. It hasn't been quiet or personal since living the three-story life. My stuff is out in the public domain, so much so, that, before I have my coat off from whatever undertaking, I'm asked about outcome. It's a small thing; a thing I'm a little ashamed of having trouble adjusting to, but taken in a bundle, every day, every step out the door and walk back in, it's impacting my body, my mood, my well-being. Today it's my glasses. I have a pair several months old that have been an expensive hassle. I don't remember wanting a coating (and I'm not even sure now if it's glare or scratch) but the damn stuff warps in heat. The lenses have been replaced three times already, striated at the hands of the people adjusting them who plunged them into the heated beads that allow bending the frame, thus warping my lenses. I've got striations in the left lens now, without knowing what heat did it. I don't use hot water, I don't dry my hair with my glasses on; mysterious appearance. I went to the eyeglass place to ask for a solution. Blah, blah, blah, I have no interest in talking about it because it's the usual damned if you do/don't of business transactions these days, but since I told Dad where I was going, before the door was shut, he wanted to know how much of a fight it was. I don't know why he wants to know this stuff. Is he interested in how my life is? Maybe. Does he enjoy my confrontation scenarios? Maybe. He's learned just enough about my reluctance to share everything to know how to ask a question to which I cannot reply only fine. So, he's learned that. Why can't I learn to just let it all go? I moved into the basement when I was 16 to get away from all the questions my little sisters peppered me with, and now I am already in the basement. Reminds me of the old performance review snippets being email forwarded years ago. "This employee has reached performance rock bottom, and is starting to dig."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Garden 2012 The Launch

The garden plot on Saturday, April 21. South Lyon residents can sign for a section for free, the city tills for free and I'm loving South Lyon even more. I picked Number 9. It's a sacred geometry number, one of my favorite numbers of lore from my banking days, and it's a li'l piece of a Beatles tune. It is in the worst of all possible locations for watering, equidistant farthest away from the water spigots; but closest to the woods in case of an urgent biological need. SL workers mowed and tilled both rows of sites on April 1, so there was a fine skin of grass, easily removed with a twist of a hand shovel. From the 1st to 21st, I visited the place, overwhelmed by the 30 feet x 60 feet size of it. 1800 square! Oy! I've offered the back half to friends who might grow some lettuce here, a tomato or two there. Harry, who is 92, said he's in for advice and support. I ordered Dad some heirloom Bonny Best and Beefsteak tomato seeds, and they are germinating in compostable cups from the Tuscan Cafe. On Saturday I sent Dad to the store for string and potting soil, I walked to the garden and met them there. Dad stayed in the car, Scott sat in a plastic chair enjoying the breeze. I planted two rows of onion sets, and two rows of sugar snap peas. The work felt wonderful, but I'm hurting a little still today. I want to get the golden beets in, the two varieties of heirloom spinach, and at least one of the Detroit Red heirloom beet varieties still this week. Friends offered stakes and chicken wire, when the time comes to protect the nascent plants. I am excited, nervous, and overjoyed about this first foray into the realm of growing good food.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Brigg's Mansion Stone Hedge For Sale

Stone Hedge, the home automotive magnate Walter O. Briggs built in 1915 for his family is for sale at the bargain price of $450,000. Architects Chittenden and Kotting designed the pale fieldstone manor at 700 W. Boston Boulevard. 9,638 square feet, 11 bedrooms, 9 fireplaces, 7 bathrooms, copper gutters, a cold fur closet, a liquor safe, stained glass windows, Pewabic tile. Carved into the library mantel are famous Detroit Tigers and famous opponents - Hank Greenberg, Babe Ruth, Charlie Gehringer, Lou Gehrig. Mr. Briggs owned the team from 1920 to his death in 1952. Tiger Stadium was originally Briggs Stadium, home to both the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions, but despite being on the National Register of Historic Places, it was completely demolished in 2009. Neighbors in the Boston Edison neighborhood included Charles Fisher (next door on Boston Boulevard) and Henry Ford's family was around the block. Mark Hickey has some beautiful pictures of houses on the two streets. I've loved this part of Detroit for decades. My mother lived in a house there that was a home for working single women. My father courted her from the parlor - no men allowed anywhere else in the building. I wanted to buy a house on Boston back when the two streets were terribly neglected and unloved; boarded windows, fire-licked roofs, bedraggled gardens, only a few homes maintained. Since 1980, people have bought homes, repaired and planted, and the house I wanted to buy is now lovely and occupied. I hope someone who will love Stone Hedge buys it, lives happily in it, and doesn't change too much of the gorgeous history.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Godspotting

Too much attention paid to anything can make you balmy, and I wander in and out of the too much realm quite often. I love following research trails. Sometimes I get some insight. Mostly I get a headache. With no map, and little understanding, I'm trying to focus on my spiritual adventure, with the intention of gathering peace around and within me. Not sure this can be abetted by research, and I am not convinced any of us have the answers to a deep connection with divine higher power. I am not sure we are supposed to have the answer. If I were an omnipotent god, and wanted awe, and collective bliss for my people, I sure wouldn't put the operating manual on google docs. We journeyers talked last evening over green tea about creative bliss, finding the oneness sweetspot within, and manifesting our desires. I said being in a state of bliss is just what it is: there is nothing else. Can we connect bliss with manifesting? I honestly forgot how manifesting works. Attracting abundance. I lost that part, like a name I cannot remember. I had that eerie feeling of having to explain something urgently, and not being able to find the words. Achieving desires is destination, and what I'm understanding a little is that the journey is what we need to enjoy. Be. Now. Gratitude. Be in the now with gratitude. While we were conversing, I lost my ability to connect the dots between brain, heart, spirit. Is there a convergence someplace? Is it necessary to find it? Or is my inability to describe what I was understanding the very nature of connection with God? Acceptance is enough. Maybe that is the core of faith. The abundance of books about connecting with spirit speaks to how hard it is to explain. I read Dr. Lee Lipsenthal's book enjoy every sandwich this week. He had an extraordinary end of life experience, which he credits to his medical background, his professional path, in combination with his spiritual state. He meditated, he could put his consciousness in connection with all. He was at peace with his mortality as a spiritual and human being. He wrote of the God spot. When Janice mentioned the bliss void last night, I thought of that place in the parietal cortex, and I did a perfunctory internet search this morning. There are a couple scholarly articles about brain tumors and self-transcendance, and many sites debunking the whole notion that connectivity to God can exist in a brain spot. In My Stroke of Insight, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor describes a stroke that washed out her motor skills, while heightening her sense of spiritual well-being. She moved out of left brain and into right brain. This morning I flipped an Osho Zen Tarot card for the day. It was Turning In. Turning inwards is not turning at all. If you try to turn in, you are seeking and that leads to frustration. Oy. Did the brain invent God? Or did God invent the brain? I don't know and neither does any other human we know. We all do our best to balance the experience, and perhaps that is the key to the kingdom. As Teilhard de Chardin said, we are not humans having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Quiet by Susan Cain

Whew. I can wholeheartedly admit to being an INFJ and I feel good about that. Thanks to Susan Cain and her new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, I finally feel fine about being an introvert. Her book reveals the research regarding nature:nurture (you're born that way Intropal), temperament is not necessarily personality, that American corporations' celebration and promotional love of Harvard Business School extraverted clones is not necessarily the best choice for American businesses. Witness the run-up to 2008, during which the Harvard MBA non-risk averse/ reward seeking/ dopamine-addled CEOs brought the global economy to a crashing halt. Witness also that the government bodies supervising these extravert extreme money sportsters were populated with more of the same. My brother David sent a link to a TED Talk given by Susan Cain, and I was impressed that, although her voice shook a little, she stood there and gave us all this great information. I put a hold on her book immediately. Thanks, bro! I wrote back to David that I remembered 10th grade, the first card marking in Mr. Manos' Social Science class, what should have been a slamdunk A for me. He gave me a C. I gathered all my data, made an appointment and quaking with fear, outlined my reasons why I thought I deserved an A. He listened. He reminded me that at the beginning of the year he said class participation would be 50% of our grade. I squeaked that my participation level was the best I could pull off. He didn't budge. I didn't budge. I told him I'd take it up with my counselor. Manos changed my grade to a B-. In the business world much later, I sat during a performance review while my boss held her pencil over the "Team Player" evaluation box. "Opportunity for improvement?" she queried, pretty damn sure she'd get acquiescence. I thought about it a minute or two. I was tired; tired of forced participation over many decades, and tired of extra work to change what was essentially my core temperament. I shook my head. No. I am not a team player. I will never be a team player. I do not do well in work pods, on team building activities, or in groups of more than 2. She checked the box anyway. I took it along to my next boss, explained my position and he erased it and checked satisfactory. Introverts like quiet, minimal stimulation, privacy and the opportunity to wield their business and creative magic away from the klieg lights, and off the stage loved by extraverts. Introverts need to be given a little room. With a door. And a lock.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Movies Made, Seen and A Certain Age

Late Bloomers is a Julie Gavras film about coping with aging. Yay! Starring the real life cinema elders Isabella Rossellini and William Hurt, written by Olivier Dazat and Julie Gavras, translated by David H. Pickering. The film looks into the oppositional denial/engagement behavior of a married couple of retirement age. Marvelous, timely, real life and needed. I can't wait to see it. Reminds me of interviewing a financial planner as a married woman. When do you want to retire? he asked. Never, said the ex. Tomorrow, said I. Most importantly, the audience for this film is eager, has money and will spend it at the cinema. In 2011, movie attendance was down. Again. 2011 saw the smallest movie going audience in 15 years. Blame it on whatever you'd like, people aren't going to the cineplex. Google docs houses a pdf file of global theatrical market statistics through 2010. In recent years, women have been staying home more than men. Meanwhile, obtuse Hollywood is gambling on cash cow movies re-released in 3D despite the clear evidence that 3D attendance worldwide is going downhill fast. We have more women than men in this country. Women make over 80% of the purchase decisions for the family. We have an aging population worldwide, in bigger numbers every year. Mark Jenkins, in his review of Late Bloomers, casually tosses off the marketability of the film as not distinctive enough to draw viewers who haven't given much thought to aging. And so? It's a big, rich global crowd that wants films like this to pay to see. Perhaps the tide is turning. Women filmmakers globally are taking the next step, identifying the big bucks yet to be gathered, and employing excellent actors with maturity and skill to play characters of a certain age. Yay! to Julie Gavras and the women in film who make us cheer. And who are savvy and brave enough to detect coin in our pockets that most of Hollywood cannot discern.

Lucky Friday the 13th

13 has had a dark reputation for centuries. No 13th floor in tall buildings. Famous people avoided the number. Abhorred like national healthcare, women, the bogeyman, and the color green in business attire, undeserved negative attention has been its unlucky fate. 13 is an object of derision since patriarchy got the license to run the planet. 13 was a beautiful number when women ruled the world. The goddesses loved 13. 13 in antiquity was a holy number, a stroke of luck, good omen, shiny with divine auspices. Mama Donna Henes covers the history in depth today. There was a reason for 13 witches in a coven, and it wasn't just because women like odd numbers. If you squint at this Chinese character for luck, you can see a number 13. Or maybe I'm just lucky to be so nearsighted. And there are instructions here to draw luck. I had the good luck to review Hobart's Winter/Spring2012 literary journal titled Lucky 13 for The Review Review this month. You should be so lucky! Fingers crossed.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blogs for Women Over 60

A sign on the roads in England that delighted me read Priorities Change Ahead. The first time I saw this, being the obedient first responder to orders, my brain spun. A sign is a sign is a sign! I never thought what UK highway system officials intended about driving, but what this sign meant in my life. I was only 50 then. Now, immersed in the fog of accepting that there is less time for me in the future on this planet than past, I think of that sign. We all have to change priorities in a country where age is not honored, women as elders are shoved into the first available invisible place; at a time when healthcare will be a priority while legislators decide old people (and children) don't need to keep living. Priorities change ahead. We were at a jazz festival in Detroit when a young person offered us a coupon for teeth whitening stuff. The young persons used to offer cigarettes a long time ago. Priorities change ahead. As he held out the coupon, I laughed, and said teeth whitening is number 1,741 on my list of priorities. My sister laughed. What are the other 1,740? she asked. We can't tell from search results on the internet what is a priority for women over 60. Hairstyles, fashion, sex, celebrity. My priorities as a woman over 60 are similar to most American women. 1) My health, 2) Family's health, 3) Exercise, 4) Relationships, 5) Finances, 6) Good work. Work might be volunteering, if 5) Finances are in fairly good shape, and there's time because 1) and 2) are well. I keep applying for part-time work in town and I keep not getting called. And I'm trying to give attention to signs. What is the work I would love to do in the time remaining? How can I help? In what way can I help heal the political polarity, the planet, and find deeper meaning in spiritual pursuits while maintaining optimum physical condition? These are the subjects women over 60 give priority. We can help each other find the sources for reaching our real goals. Please tell me where you find additional strength on the internet, and I'll link the sites. Let's create a community that shares and celebrates our priorities because priorities change ahead.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Masters Tournament: Tradition That Needs to Change

The Masters was started by Clifford Roberts and amateur golfer Bobby Jones in 1932. Roberts' tradition insisted golfers use Augusta National Golf Club caddies, all of whom were African American until 1982. That tradition ended. Since 1982 players can employ their own caddy. A par 3, 9 hole course has hosted a family event since 1960. Players participating can use their children as caddies. The nonfamily tradition ended. In 1975 Lee Elders was the first African American to compete in The Masters, 15 years before Augusta National Golf Club admitted its first black member. In 1990, the all-white tradition ended. Martha Burk tried to protest the no women allowed event in 2002 and was blocked twice by courts denying her a permit to protest. I enjoy watching The Masters. It's pleasing to watch people at the height of their professional game competing. Yesterday we talked about women not being allowed to play. These conversations included my Dad telling my sister that it doesn't matter that Augusta National is a private club; women should be allowed to compete. And I wondered out loud how to change another no women allowed tradition. It is a private club, yes. It is a private club for men only. But The Masters Tournament is a sanctioned PGA event. The PGA is complicit by allowing a private no women allowed club to host one of its major competitions. Tradition is no reason for continuing gender discrimination practices. Golf is not a man's game. Why not host a women's Masters? Or have the event elsewhere? Tradition has been changed within The Masters, and at Augusta National Golf Club, in the past. Time to end the no women allowed tradition, not just in golf, or all sports, but anywhere we identify men only exclusion. We do this the same way men have kept women out. With money. Do not support any money-making venture that mandates no women allowed. Do not support the advertisers for no women allowed events. Do not buy golf equipment that encourages no women allowed traditions to continue. Do not support candidates for office, or club administrative positions, who support men only exclusivity. Change the channel. WNBA draft is April 16. LPGA schedule is in full swing. Start watching women professionals compete.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Three Story Life: Grayscale

On this beautiful spring weekend, I cannot get myself out of the funk. Lowdown, hollow gut funk. Accumulative malaise. Scott is having an upbeat week. Dad maintains his usual life is a pain median line. All's well in the 'hood. But I've lost the color in my story. Depression is probably not catchy, but living in its weightiness long term is. For 7 years it has been my job to keep the mood elevated in the house. I haven't done a great job, but we kept going. I am unable to contribute right now. Every lift is harder than the last. I can act in a way that helps Dad deal with his issues of aging, and help keep Scott out of the way of Dad's mood, but I have trouble helping myself now. I'm down the blue scale to indigo, and the flight plan back up is missing. I know better than to read the news, or watch television because the news and television makes me scared and mad. Today I read about Walker in WI signing Act 219, reversing the equal pay law. Ron Christy on Hardball with Smerconish last night spouted the litany of Republican crud that the war on women the Republicans are waging across the country is a construct of the Democrats. And my gut gets hollower. The war on women perpetrated by drone Republicans doesn't impact my life as much as every tshirt put in the wash inside-out does, but it feels similar. It feels like progress is ephemeral and pointless. Tried to pay my car insurance yesterday. $12/month increase. And she warned about $30/year per driver Michigan mandated increase coming in May. I was so defeated by this I walked out. I actually said out loud I can't deal with this right now. I commented to Dad about it yesterday, and he got further depressed. My bad. Just now he said I want to help you out. He wants to give me $20 to buy a pair of sandals he just bought. It's a lovely thought, it's shoes, and I'm grateful for his offer, but it just made me sadder. I thanked him, demurred, and he said he doesn't want me to miss out on the sale. Sigh. My sadness must be terribly obvious, when Dad wants to help me cheer up. There are so many of us caregivers in the world, doing the best we're able, while we lose surety of our ability to do our best. We lose the essence of appreciation when we cannot appreciate ourselves. And we must appreciate us. To all the caregiving, weary, big-hearted women who wonder if there are good thoughts ever to be had again, I'm sending mighty good thoughts in your direction right now. Hold yourself tight, sisters. Hug yourself, pray, suck your thumb, cry, write a blog post, go to bed and pull the covers over your head, but find a way to heal for this moment. The next moment will take care of itself.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fairytale Movie Princesses = Boomer Anxiety About Aging?!

We have an infestation of fairytale princesses in theaters, and more on the way. Snow White has three, and Sleeping Beauty is in the house, too. Mirror, Mirror plays Julia Roberts as the evil stepmother queen. Snow White and the Huntsman features Charlize Theron as the obsessed woman on the throne. I think we're getting these princesses and the wicked (but oh, so beautiful) stepmoms because there just aren't any women caped crusaders to follow the guys into the theater. Have we had enough of comic book heroes? Probably not. But since we have no equally famous and powerful women in that realm, we're stuck with fairytales. Fairytales have a beautiful princess who either sleeps, pricks her finger spinning, falls down running and is rescued by a bunch of short guys, or just hangs around waiting for a handsome prince to rescue her from whatever lowly existence she thinks she has. And an evil wicked nasty queen is just good fun, right? Well, not according to a Harvard professor quoted last week in an article by Linda Holmes about Snow White's recidivist film appearance. We're addressing aging women's anxiety about...aging, according to Maria Tatar, Harvard professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures. She chairs the mythology and folklore program, and Holmes claims she specializes in fairytales. Oy. I want to know what research supports such ludicrous speculation, and what the hell the article is playing at. None of these plots indicate pop culture connectivity of any kind. The queens want the young girls dead. The queens want to eat the princess's liver. The queens are murderous psychopaths, and this relates to women anxious about aging? Lest we all forget - again - boys with money who want more money decide which movies are made. Boys have no interest whatsoever in addressing boomer women's anxiety about getting older. This is not why these movies are getting made. What a load of...fairytales.