Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cotton candy skies

I am not a morning person. However, when work is scarce I am up before the sun typing away in the darkness with only a little Victorian lamp Lynn and Chuck gave me last year when they came to visit. The landlady says she knows I'm up because she sees the light and she usually gets up about 4 AM, as does Nel across the hall who gets to work at 6 AM and works ten hours a day to keep body, soul, Kittysocks and Iggy together. When Nel is at work putting together seminar packages for reps who teach doctors who to put faces, jaws and heads back together, I am plugging away typing as fast as I can to put enough pages together to keep this roof over my head and pay for my laptop, furniture and digital camera.

While I'm working, the sun sneaks up the horizon and paints the sky in cotton candy colors, streaking the darkness with pink and blue on cloudless days. Some days, like last Thursday, I see a bit of white among the gold and my confused squirrel comes out to take a look. Most mornings are full of cotton candy skies.

The gold standard

As I sit here waiting for pictures to upload to the web so I can share them here, endings are on my mind. There was a time when I hated saying goodbye every time Dad was posted to another base and yet I was also excited. Each new post meant meeting more people and seeing a different part of the world or the country. As sad as it was to say goodbye to my friends, and even boyfriends as I got older, the adventure made it all so much easier.

Living as I have, moving from base to base and country to country because of my father being in the Army and with my ex-husband who was in the Air Force, I have never quite understood what it is like to live a whole life within a very short distance of where I was born, going to school with the same people and living in the same rooms decade after decade. I have lost or left behind many things and people and some of them are still a part of my life. Many, however, are not. I seem to be only able to live anywhere for no more than a couple years. Friendships last a little longer than that and I can say I have stayed in contact with my best friend from high school for more than 30 years. That is a long term relationship I managed in neither of my marriages.

Relationships are something else I have left behind when I walked, and sometimes ran, away. I miss the closeness and getting to know someone so well it seemed they would always be a part of me, and in many ways they are still a part of me, having helped me change and grow and learn what is and isn't right for me and in my life.

When I moved to Colorado I knew this would be the last place where I would live because I am finally home. I look forward to years seeing the same sights and driving and walking the same streets and I doubt I will move very far from this haunted apartment in the converted Victorian where I now live. I may not even move from here but rather split my time between here and a cabin higher up in the mountains (when I can afford one). I do understand the appeal of familiarity and there is much that is familiar here in this house. My landlady and Nel have become my neighbors, my friends and my family and I look forward to sharing my life with them. Other people have come into my life since moving here and have drifted or been asked to leave. That is also familiar from my wandering years. I know that few people ever stick around for very long even when they first promised they would always be there. One thing I have learned is that nothing is permanent. I have also learned that nothing true will ever go as sure as nothing gold can stay.

I remember that poem from The Outsiders and from the movie. "...nothing gold can stay."

Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

It took me a long time to figure out just what the poem was saying. It was as if Frost meant that anything gold has only a short life and that even the golden chain of friendship will break. Now I see a different meaning.

Gold is a soft and malleable metal, much like friendships and relationships in the beginning, but gold is enduring and durable. It lasts. Even though dawn gives way to day and day to dusk and back to dawn again, the sun is still there, golden, fierce, strong and enduring. The Earth changes its view, turning slowly around and around, glimpsing the sun as though over a retreating shoulder. So, too, with friends and lovers. If the love is as enduring as gold it will last even when we turn and walk away, catching glimpses here and there over our shoulders. Turn and walk back and the love remains. The gold is still there with fresh newness.

There are times when we need to walk away to get a fresh perspective because something isn't working or the timing isn't quite right. It's like retreating from the blaze of a summer sun in the desert or never looking directly at the sun without some protection to filter out its full majesty and power. So, too, with friends and lovers. There is a time to stand out under the full fierce gaze of the sun and a time to retreat under cover lest we be burned. One thing is certain. If the friendship or the love is made of that durable and enduring gold, it will still be there when the time is right and we have had the time to realize what a precious gift we let fall by the wayside. Walking away isn't the end, sometimes it is a beginning.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Autumn Equinox/Mabon

Seems like just yesterday when I celebrated Ostara and here it is Mabon, the autumn equinox. Although it is said to be on the 21st of September, it is really the time that day and night equally share the 24-hour period of our days and not just a date. The date is sort of a way of keeping track, but today is actually Mabon, autum equinox.

Blessed Mabon to those of you who follow a pagan pathway and happy autumn equinox to the rest of you.

That is all. Disperse.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Dear friend,

While I was taking notes at the board meeting I realized my handwriting skills have deteriorated badly. I haven't written anything in long hand for a long time, outside of quick notes that only I have to read and they are seldom legible to me at times. I decided to write more in my paper journal and to write more in longhand to keep my skills and muscle memory from atrophying beyond use. After all, what would happen if there were no computers, no laptops, no electricity to run them? How would we communicate then?

In this electronic age we seem to have lost the common touch, the intimacy of writing, actually putting pen to paper and writing a letter to someone. We can keep emails on hard drives, flash drives, disks and even print them out on paper, but how many of us actually take the time to do that? How many people have a folder or bundle of ribbon tied emails hidden away in a box and kept as keepsakes? I know I don't. I have emails in electronic format and a few emails I need for reference printed out, but there are no ribbon bound emails, or even large files of emails yellowing with time and age, languishing in a shoe box or cabinet or drawer here or anywhere.

While watching a movie last night as I ate my dinner I decided to send a close friend a letter. I wrote it out in Word the way I always do but decided that was too impersonal, too cold for what I needed and wanted to say. I decided to write the letter in long hand. I didn't know how difficult it would be and how the muscles and tendons of my fingers would complain at the exercise. I am used to writing in a kind of shorthand when I do write in my paper journals and it was a struggle to keep from falling into old habits while writing this letter. It took me an hour to write out three pages that fit on a little over one page in Word, but it is worth it. I wasted a few sheets that will go into the recycling bin and I even flirted briefly with pen and ink before deciding it was safer and would take less time (and my fingers and hand would rebel less) if I used an ink pen. Luckily, the ink pen I used, unlike most of those I have bought recently) didn't skip more than once. I had to go slow to keep from making the words completely illegible and to keep from writing in shorthand, especially since the friend can't read my shorthand -- no one can. I just finished and I am proud of what I wrote. I changed a few things from the original I wrote in Word and printed out, but it is finished and is a more intimate and personal letter than it would have been in email or printed out on plain white copy paper. I wrote the letter on parchment.

Letters written by hand are also a little less likely to be ignored. They are tangible proof of regard for the person receiving the letter and evidence that what you said took time to write and to compose. It is so much easier to type out the words and send them on the flashing energy waves that disassemble and reassemble them on the other end, but I'm glad I wrote the letter by hand. Maybe my friend will keep it in a box somewhere bound in ribbon or even string and read it once in a while. At least I know it will last longer than an email and will hopefully mean as much to them as it does to me when I wrote it.

Monday, September 18, 2006

New Review

If you like romantic movies with music, dancing and singing, check out the latest at Trash & Treasure Reviews.

Today has been a weird day. I'm still evacuating debris from my GI tract but it is getting less and less. The lemonade isn't bad but I really want something to chew, something with meat in it. Driving to the ham club board meeting tonight was torture because I had to drive past a whole lot of fast food restaurants, pizza places, and other emporiums and purveyors of food. The air was full of the lovely smell of grilled meat and my teeth were tightly clenched as I fought off the urge to stop and have something, anything, as long as I could sink my teeth into it. Making the same trip back home wasn't any easier and I was thirsty. I should have brought a bottle of lemonade to suck on to keep my mouth busy. I didn't. Lesson learned for the next time, although the next time I have to attend a board meeting I will be off the master cleanse and back on solid food. I need to think of something else. Something pleasant. I'll have to settle for visiting family.

Less than three weeks until the horde arrives. I suggested a trip to Grand Junction to Monument National Park to see the eroded sandstone formations and maybe some dinosaur bones. Carol didn't like the idea because it would mean a long day. After all, what is a vacation for if not for traveling and seeing the sights? I have a feeling that any suggestions I will make will not meet with approval. Mom is limited because of her frailty, except where antiques and shopping are concerned. I can sit cooped up in my apartment any day of the week and Carol and Mom can shop any time they want. I wanted to do something different. I don't care much for days spent shopping and window shopping. I can do that more efficiently and more comfortably online. I wanted to get out and go about and see some of the wonders in Colorado I haven't seen. So much for that idea.

That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunday hodge podge

The cleansing part of the cleanse finally hit my GI tract this morning at 5 AM. Must be the senna. I didn't even need the salt water flush to get things moving, just waking up and going to the bathroom -- again -- and there it was, accompanied by cramps and a bit of nausea from the cramps. Lovely. It isn't as if it takes a lot to get me moving since I move regularly anyway, but this felt more like an emergency evacuation. Now I know why I needed mint tea -- to calm everything back down again.

I have another quart of cayenne lemonade in front of me and my mind is churning with stories and articles and ideas for more of both. They haven't touched me and run away like we used to do when playing blind man's bluff as kids; they are sticking around. I wonder if the emergency evacuation had anything to do with my sudden clarity of thought and determination.

Kind of reminds me of the joke about the body and who was really in charge. All the body parts thought they were most important but they really found out who was boss when the anal sphincter refused to open and allow passage of debris. Fever fired up the rest of the organs and the brain couldn't think or order the rest of the body parts and functions around. As always, the asshole wins.

At any rate, I received my copy of Sun Signs for Writers yesterday and dove right into the chapter on Aquarius, my sign. Sagittarius was my next stop and then on to Ares. I'll go through the rest of the book chapter by chapter and reread Aquarius and Sagittarius but I have noticed a pattern emerging -- and not the pattern of the chapters and how they are organized. The pattern is in the the tone of the book. I have to see if the pattern continues before I make my final judgment, but it should be interesting to see what emerges.

I have been asked (actually told) to put together an itinerary for my mother and sisters to follow when they get here so they can see as much as possible. Mom wanted to go to Montana but where she wants to go is a 12-hour trip one way and I don't see that happening, especially since they aren't willing to spend any money for motels. I did want to go to Monument National Park and see the eroded sandstone formations and that is only a 5-hour trip to Grand Junction. We could go there and get back in one day, but it would be a very long day and would mean driving at night through Vail Pass and the tunnel, which isn't difficult if the weather is good. I'm not sure that will be the case next month since there has already been a killing frost in the higher elevations as of last night and this morning. I hope John didn't get caught out in the freeze since he said he was planning to hike this weekend. At least it didn't rain this time.

I have talked a friend who teaches special needs children to collaborate on some articles and possibly a few fictional accounts of her life at school. She sparked the idea during a phone conversation yesterday and, yes, she is the greatest con artist I have ever known. She knows how to con just about anyone out of the doldrums in the midst of the horse latitudes and back into laughter without the person realizing they were ever becalmed on mental seas. I know she helps me see the brighter side of things when I am feeling less than stellar -- and she calls me an optimist. Well, there are no rose colored glasses over my eyes, just the honest belief that eventually winds come even to the horse latitudes.

I also watched The Bridges of Madison County again. I thought I remembered Francesca having a younger daughter, one who was born of her liaison with Robert, but I must have been mistaken because she wasn't there when I saw the movie yesterday. I did miss the first few minutes of it, but I watched it all the way to the end. I still think the movie, and thus the book, over rated, and I remember reading it, although I fought against it the whole time Oprah and her book club gushed over it. There are moments that the story is sweet and romantic, but very few of those. The whole thing is a bit plausible. I doubt there would ever be a time a farm wife living near a small town in Iowa would ever be able to get away with having four days of intimate dinners, conversations, walks and sex without the neighbors knowing about it or that if the woman was so stifled by her farm life, having had to give up teaching because her husband expected her to raise their two children (at the point of the story well past needing to be taken care of) would balk at the chance to run away with a photographer who travels the world, especially if she loves him. It cannot have been only duty that tied her to the farm and her family or even just the thought of how it would affect her children, although that is possible. The motivations do not ring true. I'm not saying it isn't possible, but that it is highly improbable. There must have been something between Francesca and Richard, her husband, when they met in Italy after World War II to make her want to marry him and leave her home and everything she's known, and not just the security of being able to walk the golden streets of America because that would mean she was more interested in comfort and financial security than love, and that kind of person would have walked away from her family without a backward glance or she would have stayed if it meant she would have felt more financially secure where she was.

The story doesn't tug at my heart the way a good romance should and it certainly doesn't make the trivial mistakes and inconsistencies disappear because of the beauty and poignancy of the relationship of two people having found each other and faced the tortures of the damned to be together. I don't expect such grand love affairs in all the romances that move me, but there has to be an innate sense of rightness of two people getting together that makes the story worthwhile even in a little romance, like the ones penned by Nicholas Sparks. His stories have an intimate quality that Waller's story lacks even now. It's not wonder none of Waller's other romances made it to the top of the heap and were so easily forgotten. They didn't have that intimate spark that burns so cleanly and brightly at the center of little romances and grand affairs.