Monday, September 16, 2013


   Besides my fascination with the texture and form of tree trunks and branches and gnarled pieces of driftwood and other complexities found in wood in general, I hold an equal curiosity about reflections.  I like how mirrors are often in unexpected places. Finding them always surprises me, though.  Usually I spot them around still water.  Sometimes a building itself becomes a mirror for another.  When I view the original and contained within is another, the original becomes more than it once was.  Its existence is embellished in a merging.   Beyond the natural world,  the mother as mirror to the baby is a necessity in attachment, there is a merging of the I/thou in the beauty of the relationship.  In nonverbal communication, even amongst strangers,  a smile often begets a smile, a yawn induces a yawn as people connect.  What about  the collective sigh or the outburst of a crowd at a sports event? Spontaneous connection.  So much unanticipated merging that makes me wonder, what is the meaning?  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Ellen Show

On Monday my daughter and I attended a taping of the Ellen show.  I was hoping to see Diana Nyad and Simon Cowell who were to appear on Tuesday's show.  Ellen usually tapes a day ahead.  I also knew this was premier week and I was hoping Ellen would feel generous all week and shower her studio audience with gifts.  The last time we'd attended we received a cd of one guest, two dvd's of another guest, and hair and make up products of a third.  Neither the cd's nor dvd's have yet to be opened by me, but hoping for good karma, I did use the shampoo on the day of this new show.  The Ellen Show process is surgical.  We were guaranteed audience members so we checked in by 2:00, showed our drivers' licenses, received our black light invisible arm stamps, and sat down amongst the couple of hundred other members for the day whose chatting created a cacaphony of excitement underneath the solid walls of the parking structure.  We received numbers to enter the studio, then returned to the metal benches.  I chose to sit with my back to the wall, I didn't realize we were sitting under a speaker.  Thus began a pantomime routine with a worker.  She mouthing, "Can you hear anything?"  We shaking our heads.  She disappearing, returning, repeating.  We shaking our heads.  Until finally we heard some mumbling.  She returned, we put thumbs up, not knowing it was blaring out to the crowd, although, under the speaker we could not hear.  Standing back in line, entering, seated.  Rumors as to who the guest might be.  Bright lights, not so much awe, repeat attendance.  Then the warm up and the dancing and the announcement, "Celine Dion".  Not a big fan, but I am okay. Disappointed more that I'm not going to see Diana Nyad.  She's my hero, not Celine Dion.  The show begins, Ellen!  She's warm, sweet, funny.  I begin to wonder what my possibilities are for a gift.  Celine Dion tickets?  And then I learn Celine performs in Las Vegas.  A trip to Vegas and tickets?  It's premier week after all.  I scale back.  A cd?  While waiting to enter we chatted with a woman (well, she chatted at us) who said she'd taken a cd she received from the last show to Target to exchange it.  I would likely do that.  If we received tickets for the show, well, I 'd give them away or sell them.  Celine and Ellen talked, sitting at home on the sofa kind of talking.   Funny some places, interesting others, a little unsettling when Celine noted she met her husband when she was 12.  The picture showed a gangly adolescent standing next to an already balding and definitely gray-haired man.  She explained her feelings grew when she was a teenager.  A hush.  And then Ellen said Celine would be singing after the break.  After the break when we continued to dance and cheer and whoop and clap is when we would learn our gift.  Our special premier Ellen gift.  Just a few more minutes.  Celine sang.  We applauded, Ellen thanked Celine for coming.  The credits began to roll.  I turned to my daughter.  We shrugged our shoulders.  The show ended.  Ellen stood in front of the audience, sans camera.  This would be it, now we'd learn our special surprise, so special she didn't want to reveal it on camera.  "Thank you all for coming," she said.  And a few other things that I heard but did not listen to.  Then, from somewhere Portia stood next to Ellen, they linked hands and went through the curtains.  The announcer told us the show was over.  And I knew who to blame.  #32.  The chatty lady who told us tale after tale of how she never wins anything and that of course we weren't going to get anything today.  My daughter jokingly said, "why are we talking to you, then?" and I encouraged her that "today her luck would change".  It did not.  I don't really think #32 was the bad luck charm.  But I did not want to watch the rest of the week of Ellen to find out that ours was the only day when they didn't receive a gift.  Except the gift of reflection where I understand that I didn't go to get something, I went to spend time with my daughter and experience one of the best run tv shows in the business.  I'm looking forward to when I can go again.  Although I'll likely still be expecting Ellen to be generous. More than not, she is.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


a day seared in memory. snapshot images. waking up, regular snap on the tv.  A tower.  Smoke pluming.  An airplane crashed into the World Trade Center.  Talking heads. Terrible accident. How could that happen? I awake and focus, not wanting to get out of bed, staring incredulously at the talking heads.  What were they saying?  And then I see another plane. Trajectory, the same.  I sit up. What is this?  I push myself from bed, quickly dress, listening to the blah blah blah no news repeating what is obvious, providing no new information.  I one foot two foot race race down the stairs and switch on the big screen tv as if the news will be bigger, more clear, more accurate.  A knock on the door. My daughter's friend enters and wonders at me staring at the tv.  "Some idiots," I said, "have flown planes into the World Trade Center." We both stare.  Driving to school I listen to the radio where little information flows. Talking, talking.  At school we are told to not say anything.  We give no information, but  we talk every period.  Children, all of us, need to feel safe.  By the evening we know.  Like some electric conduit we feel drawn to the fire station a few blocks from our house.  An impromptu march, a gathering.  Along the way we follow a man with a huge American flag.  We stand at the fire station, now a large group of fifty or so, singing patriotic songs.  Talking, connecting, caring.  We sing and talk for hours.  Cars honk as they pass.  More people come raising their voices.  Candles burn out, flashlights dim, and we stand to honor those who had fallen, those who we felt we knew as patriots.  A moment of silence connect us there and across America.  We vow not to forget.  We carry the memories of the day in snapshots of the mind and heart.  We do not forget.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Writing On

Procrastination is my biggest problem when it comes to writing.  I was much better before the internet came along, but  now there always seems to be another challenge in a game, or someone's interesting blog, or FB post, or a news event to follow and read and use as a procrastinatory tool.  (Surprised my word processor allowed that....procrastinatory is a word?  Might be my new favorite...).  So I'll blame Al Gore for my lack of writing.  I used to try to convince myself that I am always in the process of writing because I am, after all, a writer.  If I was not in the action, I was in the thinking, creating, holding of my characters, and other even unnamed unconscious efforts that led to my actually putting words to the page.  I rarely have problems putting the words to the page.  It's just getting to the page that is the challenge.  I rely a lot on that unconscious river that feeds my Jungian self when I write.  I often feel like I am along for the ride consciously.  It's fascinating to me.  I trust.  I guess perhaps that comes with age.  So, I write and do some more and then it comes time to putting my writing out there, and this too is an area in which I lack forward movement.  Days like today give me many excuses to put it on hold.  Today I wrangled with formatting and thought I was making considerable headway.  And then Word froze and reluctantly I had to tell it to force quit when I really wanted to gently save and close the several documents open on my desktop.  Especially after three hours.  In my frustration with Word and with the heat and with the family stuff that was permeating the air, I decided this is enough.  I did not decide it is a sign that I must not persevere.  Just a nudge to put off a bit today.  And so I took out the picture of the Write On mug my daughter so thoughtfully crafted for me last Christmas and asked myself, what will I write on about today.  And here it is.  Not too deep, but then I didn't want to put the hip boots on today anyway.  Tomorrow I might just head back to the formatting so I can get that book out there.  Or maybe I'll work on revision of another book.  Or perhaps I'll work on my new book.  So many options.  But now, I'll have a word with Mr. Gore.  I'll check out his internet to test if it is, in fact, a path to avoidance.  I am a writer.  No matter what I choose to do at the moment, I'm either writing or prewriting.  That's my thought and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Whoo Whoo Scale

Clouds, fascinate me.  I ponder their shapes.  Kind of like when I see a license plate that is obviously personalized but sometimes carries an esoteric message.  Those I ponder as well.  License plates, ascribe an intentional message.  Whether I actually ever figure them out, or whether I gasp when I do (the most memorable so far, sleeping censor, was PHUQUAWL, a California plate on a convertible),  I know there was an intention to the arrangement of the letters.  Clouds, on the other hand, are interpretive, not intentional. At least arguably. And I will argue that at least this one time , mired in critical thoughts that tend to arise from time to time, when I looked up and saw the configuration of clouds suspended between the two rows of townhomes, I thought the arrangement was intentional.  The clouds were smiling.  A winky smile that poked fun at my inner critic who had no justification for challenging me that day, nor most days, really.   Now these were California clouds which, in the echelon of clouds, are far below those lenticular clouds that hug the mountains, or the suspended 3-D clouds in the cerulean blue skies of New Mexico, so these clouds were a bit more than to the left of center.  The whoo whoo of clouds.  Yet on that day those clouds felt intentional, personal even.  Paying attention, whether to the letters of a personalized license plate, or to clouds, or stars, or birds, or cars, or people is being present.  Being present tunes us to the world and can only help us, whether through conscious intention, interpretation, or somewhere along the whoo whoo scale---that place that lies in the confluence of the conscious and unconscious.  This is where creativity and craft collide. Writers need to be present to the whoo whoo scale.  Just because we can't understand something, doesn't negate its reality.  Whoo Whoo!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

On the Mesa

    After several days being more social than I had been in several weeks before (writing, after all, is solitary mostly), I decided I needed to step back and take time for exploration.  My younger self would have hiked to Chimney Rock, even in the close to 90 degree heat, but this older, wiser self, realized a solitary climb, especially in the heat, especially at the elevation, would have done nothing to enhance my physical nature and may, in fact, have been detrimental.  Still, I wanted an adventure.   I decided to explore the mesa outside my door.  The view of the Pedernal in the distance, hugged by puffy clouds in the Dodger blue sky, begged a photo.  I grabbed my long and short lens from the room and snapped a few images.  I walked to the edge of the mesa and focused on Kitchen Rock.  Long lens, short lens.  The Agape Center, click.  The alfalfa fields, rainbirds sputtering, snap.  Tumbleweed housing, cottonwood trees, the switchback trail, both down and up, the Arts Center, the Labyrinth.  Long lens, short lens, snap and click.  The sun warmed my head, heated my hair, I'd forgotten my hat.  Just a few more pictures, I'd taken so many before.  A red tailed hawk keened, crows cawed, the horses snorted and the sounds drew me back to the details.  The wind kissed the sides of my face, lapping the moisture.  I stopped and gazed at the ground in front of me.  Round pellets.  Rabbit droppings?  Too large.  A deer? Why hadn't I see her pass or heard her in the night as I sat under the frosting of stars in the licorice sky? Not three feet away other deposits in nature's outhouse, these looking like a horse had passed, but a not so large horse.  How did I miss a horse prance along the mesa? Maybe his passing had come in those days of being social, or in the days before when I was not yet part of the landscape. I examined the texture of the ground, the sandy scrunchy pieces of not quite dirt that blended with the red puffs of powder.  I saw the cactus, circular branches of protruding needles, laying on the ground as if the heat had made it tired.  I saw the cactus, thin straight prickled rigid branches standing in bunches with siblings, all at attention.  I walked towards the other end of the bluff, past the pink corrugated building with "Telescope" on the side.  The gnarled tree with the multicolored rust and yellow moss covered rock drew me towards itself.  Gnarled wood a particular photographic favorite of mine. So complex, not simple lines, but bound with a story.  In front of the short tree a cairn had been created.  Small with four stacked rocks.  Plenty of room to grow.  I spoke to the tree, a soliloquy of praise for its beauty, richness, tenacity, its holding of stories and of wisdom.  I pushed positive energy in its direction and felt its return on the embrace of the wind, the keening of the hawk.  Not wanting to leave this place without a change, (reciprocity, I thought), I scoured the ground for the precise rock to add to the cairn.  The shadows of the tree directed me.  I placed my offering atop the others, leaving it solidly balanced, allowing for additions, hoping that in the proximate future I might return.  From the landscape at large, to the particulars of the place, the camera fixed the memories, my mind continues to blend them and mix them and sift them into what as yet has not been fully revealed.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Never Ever Give Up

   I watched a video of long distance swimmer Diana Nyad emerge onto the beach at Key West, Florida after swimming 110 miles from Cuba.  110 miles!  If I jumped into a pool and glided underwater for half the length, I am pretty sure I can swim to the end.  I'm thinking of a regular backyard swimming pool, nothing public nor Olympian in length.  I cannot fathom (appropriate here) a 110 yard swim, much less 110 miles.  I am a fan.  That Diana Nyad is 64 years old and has been following her dream for 35 years is wondersome.  I am in awe.  As I focused on her haulting determined trudge onto land to complete her feat, I pondered how tired she must be, how foreign for her leg muscles to be working in a different way than they had for the past 48 hours, how miraculous that they could, that she could continue her dogged determination to reach her goal.  She embodied heroic.  And then, through swollen and parched lips, she spoke, slurring her words, but determined to deliver what she said were 3 messages.  She pointed her index finger to the sky.  "One, never ever give up."  The crowd applauded. "The second is, you are never too old to chase your dreams." Attention replaced scattered applause.  "And, this seems like a solitary sport, but it's a team."  She was scooped up in a hug by one of her friends to punctuate the lessons.  I pondered these three messages and I knew the veracity of her words for everyone.  Motivating.  But no more than to those of us who are writers.  The first two messages are clear, the third is a reminder.  Even though our work seems solitary, is, in fact, most often so as we sit in our offices, or niches, or spaces, or wherever and type or write our words that flow into stories and poems and essays and such, even then, we are part of a team.  Connected through the stream of words that flows across the waters, around the world, that travels through space and time from us to you to you.  This is how we chase our dreams and we never ever give up.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Salt and Pepper.  Black and White.   Left and right. Light and Shadow. And and And.  Either salt or pepper.  Either black or white.  Either left or right.  Either light or shadow.  Either and or.  Neither salt, nor pepper.  Neither black, nor white.  Neither left, nor right.  Neither light nor shadow.  Neither and nor.    With the same 8 concepts (in four pairs of two)  comes a fractious change in meaning with addition of conjunctions.  Inclusion, exclusion, choice, rejection, all framed with conjunctions.  Yet sometimes even the idea of inclusion (as in the case of and) can be divisive.  Black and white for example.  The and posits a coming together but not seen as the case when racism is involved.  In politics left and right are ends of a political spectrum with particular characteristics ascribed to each.  I want to live in a land of AND that is inclusive.  Okay to keep the choices, the inclusions and exclusions, they are more clearly what they are.  But when and is the conjunction, can't we all agree to give equal weight to each side?  We are a country of equals and we are a country of equality. That is the American spirit.