Friday, December 19, 2008

December Wordle

My latest Wordle:

Hmmm...not too much different.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I have a confession to make. I am now a Romance reader. Perhaps I'm just getting sentimental in my old age, I don't know. When I was younger I wouldn't touch a Romance novel with the proverbial ten-foot pole. I was above that sort of thing, don't ya know. But now an entire, very diverse, genre has opened up to me that I had dismissed outright. And I have discovered some damn fine writers to boot!

It started with Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. Now that series is not solely Romance. Diana's writing touches so many levels and crosses over other genres that it gets shelved in bookstores not only as Historical fiction or Romance, but Sci-fi, Paranormal and Horror. (Though the Horror categorization totally defies understanding!) But the relationship between Jamie and Claire galvanizes the novels and keeps us coming back for more, hence the tendency to call it Romance.

Diana's books led me to the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. And there I was introduced to some excellent writers of Romance. I eagerly await Joanne Bourne's next Spymaster novel and Darlene Marshall's next Pirate adventure. Who'd a thunk it?

I've even stretched myself into Romantic Comedy, aka Rosina Lippi's Pajama Girls of Lambert Square.

I've gone through many different genre stages as I've plodded through my almost 60 years. I read Mystery novels by the boatload when I was pregnant and had toddlers running around. Then I discovered Sci-fi and Fantasy. Ursula LeGuin remains my favorite and most admired writer and Jack McDevitt still gets my imagination traveling into other worlds.

I've recently delightfully discovered Neil Gaiman's American Gods, and found Michael Chabon's Yiddish Policeman's Union one of my all-time favorites. Urban Fantasy, here I come!

I guess the draw is just plain good writing. It doesn't serve for me to be a genre snob. If it's well-written, I want to read it!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Swimming in the 19th Century

Once again, I’ve been remiss in posting anything here. It’s been an odd month. Many things have been happening - the election here in the US for one, a new pastor at the church where I work, the change of seasons, the illness of friends. Tension and anxiety have been rampant in the people around me, and, while I have not felt anxious directly in myself about any one thing, I’ve been hard put to not take on the anxiety of others. I’m weary and have not been able to put a decent sentence together to save my soul.

So, I’ve lost myself in reading. Thing is, I usually find myself in what I read, and so it has been this last month.

The beginning of October I was reading Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White.
“Watch your step. Keep your wits about you; you will need them. This city I am bringing you to is vast and intricate, and you have not been here before.”

Faber follows the life of a young prostitute in Victorian England – her rise from the streets to mistress of a wealthy perfume manufacturer. It is a fascinating, powerful, explicit, gritty and depressing book. When I finished it, I felt the need to immerse myself in the laughter and innocence of the preschool children at the church. There aren’t many books that have affected me so.

I’ve read many books dealing with the struggle for women’s rights in the 19th century. In fact, the books I read after this one dealt with that theme, as well. But the sheer hopelessness of a London street prostitute to rise above, let alone stay alive… This book made me count my blessings I was born mid 20th century.

The next book I picked up was Geraldine Brooks’ Pulitzer Prize winning March. I do love Brooks’ writing. Earlier this year I read People of the Book that told the stories of both a young woman who restored manuscripts and the book that was her project to restore – the fictional Sarajevo Haggadah. It is an exquisite intertwining of her story and the history of a Jewish text.

March was a surprise. If you’re a reader, I’m sure you have wondered and “what-iffed” about what happened to a character after the story that was told. Brooks takes the character of Mr. March, the father in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women who was pretty much a behind the scenes character until the end of that book, and tells his story during the year he was away from his family serving as a chaplain to Union soldiers in the Civil War.

While in Little Women we see him as the returning hero, loved by wife and family. March shows us the struggle, the doubts, the anguish of an idealistic, abolitionist, dreamer amid the horrors of an incredibly brutal war. No hero is without his weaknesses, and Mr. March is drawn in Technicolor in that regard. We also see Marmee, his wife, in more dimension than Little Women’s perfect mother picture. There are times in the book when I would have liked to give each of them a good shaking, but I realized that was my 21st century morals and attitudes judging characters in the 19th century. This is what makes Brooks’ writing in March so remarkable to me. She unapologetically and skillfully does not judge her characters or manipulate them beyond the culture of their era.

For some reason only the gods know, I seem to be stuck in the 19th century. I had no idea when I ordered my copies of Wild Swan, Swan’s Chance, and Season of the Swans by Celeste Deblasis that they would take me through that century with the Carrington-Falconer family. Someone had recommended Wild Swan on a forum I frequent and, well, I have a thing for swans, so I ordered them. Silly reason, but there you are.

These books were published in the 1980s and 90s. Celeste Deblasis passed away from cancer in 2001. I suppose they are categorized as historical romantic fiction. The emphasis is indeed on the relationships of the main characters, many main characters. This is a sweeping history of a prolific family from the early part of the century to the end. Alexandra Thaine Carrington Falconer is the driving force of the family and the focus of the books. Wild Swan moves with her from childhood in England to her immigration to Maryland where, with her first husband, St. John Carrington, she builds a farm for the raising of Thoroughbred racing horses. I will not give you much of the story here, as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who decides to read the books.

At first I was annoyed at how much exposition there was in these books. We get history lessons through them all. But these were written in a different style, a different decade, when exposition was not as frowned upon as it is today. 23 years does make a difference. And the characters are very much a part of the history that surrounds them, so it felt more natural as I continued through the trilogy.

Swans. During a difficult time in my life I lived for a month at my cousin’s summer lake cottage. It was my grandparents’ cottage when I was a child and I spent idyllic, sun-warmed summers with them there. Now it is a run-down sort of place, kept together with love and Mr. Fix-it efforts by my cousin. By all rights it should be torn down and replaced, but my cousin just can’t bring himself to let go of it. It is a magic place, not just because it holds the loving spirits of our grandparents and memories of our youth, but it is an untouched oasis amid busy suburban rush. There are deer, fox, ducks, birds of all kinds, squirrels, ground hogs, frogs, turtles, fish….and swans. My cousin tells me there are three species of swans on the lake. I don’t know about that, but I will forever remember the family of mute swans that frequented the channel in front of the cottage every morning I was there – a male, female and three fuzzy, dustmop cygnets. Watching them feed on the duckweed in the channel every morning, parents herding and directing their young ones, brought me a peace and confidence that all was as it should be.

Alex Falconer finds the same peace and solidity in the migration of swans first in England’s west country and then the Chesapeake Bay. Swans are fiercely dedicated to and protective of mate and family. They mate for life, unless their partner dies, of course. Alex is a swan.

I don’t know what century I will venture into next. I’m not sure I’m done with the 19th yet. We’ll see what comes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Self-Directed Search

Well. According to my results on the Self-Directed Search Interpretive Report ( my most suitable careers would be a Philologist (I had to look it up to make sure I knew what that was. I did. Phew! I first got it confused with a Philatelist!) and a Restorer of Paper and Print. Runners up were an Exhibit Artist, Copy Writer, Dance Therapist, Laserist (?), Painter, Reporter and a Restorer of Ceramics. Others came down the line like Dictionary Editor, Art Appraiser and Economist (Yikes! Not now!).

So, here I am - a Church Administrative Assistant. Who'd a thunk it?

A Philologist?? Really???

Sunday, September 21, 2008

At long last....Canada!

(Written after our first trip to Keystone during the first week of August)

While in one of our more successful fishing spots from last year (Not nearly as successful this year. Fish are fickle buggers!) we were kept company by one of the many Bald-headed Eagles in the area. They often hang around the spots where the most fish are schooling. On one weedy, reedy area a family were having a squabble. I think mom and dad were urging a youngster on to get his own fish, but he wasn't buying it. The youngsters can be distinguished by their still darkly feathered heads.

I never knew Eagles could make such a clacking racket. It was kind of like that which a Dolphin makes and resonates in the same way. I could feel it going right through me at times.

We also saw Otter and Beaver, but they dived back into the water before I could point and focus my camera. Rats! I did manage to finally get a pic of a Loon before he dived yet again. We played peek-a-boo for about 15 minutes before I got this pic and it isn't very good. But I felt triumphant! Hah! Got ya, ya wee bugger!

There weren't as many Loons on the lake this year as last. We were told by the Frostiaks (owners and proprietors of Keystone Lodge) that the Eagles have been making meals of the baby Loons. They snatch them right out from under the parent Loon's beaks. Because they still have their down and can't dive, the babies are left above like dainty, fuzzy appetizers for the Eagles while mom and dad head for the depths. Nature seems cruel at times, but that's the way of it.

Bass! Cedar Lake has been designated by the Canadian Powers-that-Be as a Bass lake. Indeed. We pulled in 2-4 pound Bass with annoying regularity. While I love to fight a good-sized Bass-- it's a real thrill--it can be a pain when you've already made your limit and are fishing for Walleye or Perch. I got the biggest one for the trip-- a really nice 15 incher. *Betty is smiling to herself, reliving the feel of that baby on the other end of the line*

On Tuesdays the Frostiaks hold a "Camp Fry" under the Tent. It used to be a fish fry, but it required such a great number of Walleye and, well, being proprietors doesn't allow that much time for fishing. Leanne gets out there and sometimes the boys, but they leave the fishing to the clients and do hamburgers and Nana's fantastic potato salad on Tuesdays now. Dave and Leanne, Mike, Doug and Heather (their kids) and Leanne's mum, Nana, make being at Keystone like being on a family outing - without all the family fracas that often ensues at those. They are wonders and some of the best folks I've known. Keeping up a resort is hard work - kind of like being mom to 30-50 people each week for 4 months, 24/7. They do it all with smiles, laughs, hugs and an occasional free beer! Amazing.

We did have showers off and on for the first few days and we did get caught out on the lake a couple times. (We fished 4-5 hours each morning and evening.) I got soaked through once and the temps were in the 60s. I shivered my way back to camp, but there were no repercussions. I'm no foreigner to fishing in the rain. Did it when I was a kid most summers at my grandparents cottage on Fourth Lake. I did remember to tote along rain gear in the boat after that, though!

It was beautiful watching the clouds, both puffy white and looming gray, chase over the lake while we sat, often in silence, in the boat. Light and shadow were mesmerizing. We were rewarded twice with rainbows after showers.

My visits to Cedar Lake have not just been relaxing, fun and stunningly beautiful, they have been a chance to re-connect spiritually. I have always found mySelf and my Creator much closer when I am out in Nature. With Mother Earth under my feet and the broad expanse of sky, cloud and stars above me I find my roots and return more clear-headed and knowing who I am.

And the water -- in a boat on water I can dive through the ins and outs, ups and downs of my life and find a peaceful center, even on rough waters and shivering when soaked through.

It's magic. Pure magic.

We went back for another week last week. This was the first time Bud had been there in September. It was a totally different story weather-wise.

We settled into our cabin Sunday afternoon which was the other half of the duplex cabin we stayed in last year. The view from the balcony was gorgeous. The sunny was shining, blue sky, but the wind was almost a gale. The lake had whitecaps. We bumped and rolled to our favorite fishing spots. It was so bad Monday night that everyone came in early. It was just too dangerous to be out there.

It stayed like that until Tuesday when a storm came through at night and the temp dropped into the 40s F. Wednesday there were a few showers, but mostly sunny, so we braved them with the help of sweatshirts and a couple of Keystone fleece jackets we purchased and our wind/rain gear. (We old dodos forgot our jackets in the dryer at home! Ugh!)

It became Autumn in that one night. The lake turned over, green algae from the lake bottom formed a scum over large parts of the lake. Sensitive characters like Walleye and Perch are not so active and picky about biting under those conditions. The aggressive Bass and Northern don't give a fig and kept on coming at us. We, however, had already landed a couple of 16" Bass and plenty of smaller ones. I got surprised by a 26" Northern! I haven't caught a Northern that big in many a year. But we were almost stymied in finding Walleye and Perch for a couple of days - with the exception of my 18" Walleye caught where we saw the Eagle in the tree last time. And, by gum, there he was again!

I'm quite used to waiting for fish to bite. Bud, however, was dismal. He wanted to hit the Walleye like he was used to doing. They just didn't cooperate like that. The last day, though, we managed to exceed our limit. Walleyeman still pouted.

But it was grand and beautiful out on the lake, if a bit nippier than we had anticipated. The Frostiak family were their usual friendly, helpful selves and because there was only one other couple in camp we got to spend more time with them. It was a cozy bunch.

So that's all until next year. *sigh*

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland is written in a genre I've never dabbled in before. Oh, I watched Buffy a few times, but wasn't an avid fan. I did watch quite a bit of Charmed when I lived alone and had nothing else to do on a Sunday evening. And I do watch Ghost Whisperer. But I've never felt drawn to reading the vamp/paranormal genre. And I'm still not sure I am, but I will look for the further adventures of Elizabeth Phoenix in Doomsday Can Wait when it comes out in May 2009.

Phoenix is one busy psychic, empathic, dream-walking, shape-shifting chickie! Sheesh!

After the first few chapters I had to put the book down and go do some vacuuming. I felt like I was reading "Gilmore Girls Go Vamp." My head was spinning. The dialogue is fast, furious, and smart-ass. It took me awhile to settle into it, but as I read more it went easier. I do, however, feel that there were things in those first few frenetic chapters that may have been short-changed by the author's eagerness to dive into the genre style. They felt overdone to get that style across, pushed and losing a bit in really drawing Elizabeth Phoenix more clearly for the reader.

I really didn't "get" Phoenix until she was faced with Sawyer. Sawyer was drawn far more clearly, and because he was, Phoenix's interaction with him gave her more depth.

But I get the idea that this genre is not necessarily character driven, but action driven. I get that. "Any Given Doomsday" certainly fills that bill well and why I will look for the next installment of vampires, chindi, stregas, witches, etc. doing their darnedest to put our heroine out of commission.

But I still would like more character. I'm hoping the sequel will give us more insight into Elizabeth Phoenix.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Sitting Swing: Finding Wisdom to Know the Difference by Irene Watson was a surprise for me. Watson, a psychologist, opens her self and tells the story of her own journey through co-dependency. Sitting Swing is not a handbook, self-help, or how-to, but, as Watson terms it, the story of how she learned she could rewrite the "script" of her past. We don't get jargon and pop-psychology terminology, but walk alongside a soul in pain that had been walled into her own self-made barricade of coping mechanisms.

Watson attended a 28 day workshop at Avalon, a center for Recovery. Not being an addict herself, she wondered why she was there. This was clearly a 12-step program, the sort with which she was very familiar, as a psychologist. She began her stay by applying what she was hearing to her clients, but not seeing how they applied to the problem - her troubled marriage - that she told herself she was there for. Instead, she was brought face to face with her own co-dependency.

As an eternally recovering co-dependent myself, one who has worked the 12 Steps, been to therapy, read, meditated, journaled, searched, wept in self-mourning, and in the joy of opening to blissful surrender, I totally empathized with Ms. Watson through a great deal of her journey. It was both like and totally unlike my own.

My only problem with the book is that it only hints at the fact that the re-writing of one's script does not end with one blissful surrender. It takes continual surrender and continual work. There are, actually, many, many great "Aha!" moments. This could be deceptive to a newbie on their journey.

It is a well-written book, interweaving her journey at Avalon with her journey through her past. It is very compelling reading.
Book Trailer

Friday, August 22, 2008

Excuses, Excuses...

Yeah, I haven't posted anything yet about my Canada trip. Weelll. It's been a hectic two weeks at work since I got back. The church where I work has called a new Pastor to serve it who will be coming on early October. I had to play catch up - it's amazing what can go on in one week! I had to read and review an Advanced Reader Copy of a new Harper Collins book. (That should follow this post, I hope.) Annnnd, the Old Goober and I decided one week in Canada wasn't enough, so we're going back! Wooohooo! We're leaving August 30th. Soooo, that means all the prep at work before I leave. *sigh*

So when I get back from that trip I'll have one big whopper of a post - pics and all! For a preview, though, you can see my current Canada pics HERE.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I came home from my vacation in Canada to find my Advanced Reader Copy from Hyperion of David Fuller's debut novel, Sweetsmoke. Ooo, a new book to read! I settled into reading this story of Cassius, a slave cum detective, on Hoke Howard's tobacco plantation, Sweetsmoke, in Civil War Virginia. I love historical fiction and a story told from a slave's POV intrigued me, add a detective story and, boy, I was looking forward to this book.

Cassius is a well-drawn, multi-dimensional character and I immediately felt drawn into his world. However, if I hadn't known I was going to review the book, I may have set it back on the shelf for another look-see another time after the first 10 pages or so. We are completely in Cassius' head for the beginning of the book. Very little happens but description and backstory. Beautiful, minute attention is given to setting detail, but after awhile I began to get annoyed and was ready to flip past another 20 pages of the stuff to get to the action. I stuck with it and was ultimately glad I did. Once we move into dialogue and the story unfolds, Sweetsmoke becomes a more engaging book.

Perhaps if I wasn't a writer and have beaten myself over the head about "show, don't tell," I wouldn't be quite as critical about this. However, if you have a good story, which Fuller definitely does have, it is worth doing well.

I also found Fuller's device of using quotation marks for only the white folks dialogue confusing. I recently read Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. Blum used no quotation marks at all, and while that was an initial jolt, it later felt more comfortable and I could understand her reasoning in doing so. It depersonalized or distanced some very difficult material. If Fuller's reasoning was to emphasize the boundaries between whites and blacks through culture and language, I can understand. However, it became a distraction rather than an addition to the flow of the novel. Perhaps it would have been enough to have no quotation marks in black-only dialogue. I don't know. A device like this should add something that the story may not directly imply. Fuller, however, shows us the boundaries quite well through his narrative and dialogue. It's like he felt his writing wasn't enough to make the distinctions.

Cassius caught in the middle of battle was riveting! I was right there with him, heart pounding, eager and, yet, paralyzed with fear for what might come next.

I would recommend Sweetsmoke to a friend with the caveat that it will get better after the first 30 or so pages.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fish Dreams

That's me last year - the one with the hat and the sunglasses. On August 1st the Old Goober and I will be heading on up north to Keystone Lodge once again. One week of the freshest air, cleanest water, peaceful evenings, friendliest people and FISH! Throw in eagles and osprey soaring overhead, the eerily vocal loons on the water, beaver slapping their tales in the water across the bay from the camp, and the camp dogs nudging a knee for an ear scratch now and then and, well, we won't want to go home. A bottle of Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale in the evening ain't bad either.

And I swear the sky is even bluer up there.

This year I will have my very own camera! Woohoo! So, I'm hoping for some really good pics. Hoping. Hoping that it will be good weather. There's been quite a bit of rain up there this last month.

I've been checking my clothing and food lists and the Old Goober is going over all the fishing gear to see what's needed.

Our one week of heaven for the year. *sigh*

I can't wait.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Morning Bumming

Bummer. The used book store is only open 8-5, M-Sat. No evenings, no Sundays. Rats. Phooey, even. And no website either. What are they thinking??? I am utterly bummed.

We did, however, stroll over to Petersen Park and take a gander at the car show they are holding there for Fiesta Days. I didn't see a 1970 Mercury Montego. I keep looking. That muscle car was my dad's baby. He called it his "Isotta Fraschini," his bow to luxury. I remember the ride of that car. It was indeed luxurious - quiet, smooth and the leather interior was sumptuous. We drove to Long Lac, ON, Canada in that car and loved every minute of the ride.

It also had the longest nose believable. Really. People would laugh today and call it ugly, but it wasn't then. Not at all. And who cared with such a ride?

I also keep looking for a 1959 Ford Galaxie, four door - another family car. You see mostly Fairlanes. The Old Goober looks for a 1964. That was his first car. He says he'd buy it on the spot. Hah! What the heck would he do with it, I wonder. Certainly not drive it with gas at $4.25 a gallon. I just enjoy looking and reminiscing - owning is definitely not an option.

So it turned out to be a lovely morning stroll amid automotive memories.

But I'm still bummed about the bookstore. Really. Bummed.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My Wordle

So. Betty scrunches up her face and squints sideways
at the Wordle.

What's that do for ya?

**click on the thumbnail to enlarge.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I am delightfully Booked!

I've loved books ever since I can remember. I love the smell of them, the weight in my hand, the touch of the cover. Books have always meant excitement, something new, mysteries revealed.

My Aunt Elsie worked at Scott, Foresman Publishing for 48 years. She started out in the typing pool, became secretary to Mr. Scott somewhere down the line, and later became a Special Editor in the Math department. That's how she retired.

Aunt Elsie would bring books to her obnoxious niece often, and each time, whether it was a copy of the newest Dick and Jane, Numbers Are Fun, or 1001 Arabian Nights, I was delighted. I considered myself an extremely lucky kid back then. We lived on the southwest outskirts of Chicago at the time and the closest branch library was quite a few bus rides away into the city. The parents on our block, mine included, didn't think it was worth the money spent on the ride. So, my books got passed around. In fact, I started my own lending library. (Huh, I'd actually forgotten about that until I wrote this!) I pasted little pockets made from index cards on the inside of each book with another index card labeled with book title and author on it tucked inside the pocket. The kids would write their name and date borrowed on the card which I then kept in a green metal file card box on the top of my dresser alongside my prized fantail guppies and mollies swimming about in their 5 gallon fish tank.

I also cajoled and blackmailed the neighborhood kids into taking parts in my "theatrical" productions of fairy tales. I had the complete sets of both the Brothers Grimm and Anderson's fairy tales, don't you know.

Yes, books have been a huge part of my life. Always will be.

And now I have discovered Library Thing! Ooooo...I'm so thrilled. If you love books, have books spilling out of your shelves and onto the floor like I do, and enjoy connecting with other bibliophiles then take a gander.

I've also just discovered that there is a used book store in town (McHenry IL) called Wrinkled Pages. Fiesta Days where McHenry merchants have sidewalk sales starts today. Sunday, I believe, the Old Goober and I will head to town for a look-see.

Oh, the lure, the scent of the printed page!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Why that's just Infrasonic!

Researchers make noises of pre-Columbian society
“"We've been looking at our ancient culture as if they were deaf and mute," he said. "But I think all of this is tied closely to what they did, how they thought."

Velazquez is part of a growing field of study that includes archaeologists, musicians and historians. Medical doctors are interested too, believing the Aztecs may have used sound to treat illnesses.

Noisemakers made of clay, turkey feathers, sugar cane, frog skins and other natural materials were an integral part of pre-Columbian life, found at nearly every Mayan site.

The Aztecs sounded the low, foghorn hum of conch shells at the start of ceremonies and possibly during wars to communicate strategies. Hunters likely used animal-shaped ocarinas to produce throaty grunts that lured deer.

The modern-day archaeologists who came up with the term Whistles of Death believe they were meant to help the deceased journey into the underworld, while tribes are said to have emitted terrifying sounds to fend off enemies, much like high-tech crowd-control devices available today.

Experts also believe pre-Columbian tribes used some of the instruments to send the human brain into a dream state and treat certain illnesses. The ancient whistles could guide research into how rhythmic sounds alter heart rates and states of consciousness.”

Now this fascinates me on several levels. Of course, a lot of things endlessly fascinate me, that this article does is nothing unusual. I mean, how do holes appear in relatively new screening? Without any encouragement from our cat and dog residents, that is. Bud’s computer room ceiling was covered in those voracious little mosquito beasts last evening. Yeeechhh! And how much hair can one Black Labrador Retriever shed in one day? I swear there’s enough Black Lab hair on the bathroom floor alone to fully fur a standard-sized Dachshund, and I just vacuumed the house on Saturday.

The above article fascinates me, of course, on an historical level. History is an ever unraveling mystery. The facts are never as interesting as the stories behind them; truth is always stranger than fiction. I envy archeologists, paleontologists, anthropologists, etc., etc. I envy their passion and tenacity for unraveling the mysteries of our past that help us understand our present. I wish I’d been gifted like that – a gift of focus and determination. Ah, well.

Anyhow, sound that heals? How riveting is that?! We know about the soothing qualities of some music and the irritating qualities of others – Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons as opposed to fingernails on the blackboard, Tibetan Singing Bowls as opposed to a pile driver outside our office building. So, this should not be too much of a surprise. Yet, a doctor prescribing sound to aid healing? Yes, that would be surprise.

I was just watching a Discovery Channel show yesterday about how animals “hear” the Earth. Through infrasound, a frequency too low for humans to hear, animals communicate with the Earth – at least, they are on the receiving end of Earth’s communication. The narrator implied that humans are not capable of receiving that communication from Earth. I found that interesting. It seems a vast assumption to me.

Sound is vibration, yes? Those who are deaf are able to dance through feeling the vibrations of the music. Wasn’t Marlee Matlin recently a competitor on Dancing with the Stars? Heck, I can feel my cat Fox’s purring when he lays on my chest while I’m reading in bed (between my nose and the book, of course!) before I even hear it. Why would folks put cell phones on vibrate during meetings, unless they don’t want the “ring” to be heard?

I think we are likely fully capable of receiving communications from Earth, we just aren’t trained to be aware of them. We’re too plugged into our Ipods, the boss droning on at our meeting, keeping an ear glued to the baby intercom that we don't "hear" infrasounds. Actually, we are too attuned to our own voices, self-centered species that we are.

I imagine once upon a time, a long, long time ago, we homo sapiens were quite aware of infrasounds. I can imagine that awareness might often have meant life or death for them. Perhaps our pre-columbian ancestors were so aware that they knew how to use sound for healing.

So, just thoughts for today. I believe I’ve seen one of those pre-columbian ocarinas somewhere - someone I knew had one - but for the life of me I can’t remember who or where.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I would read a book that was written from the POV of a dog. I am a dog person. Always have been. My first true friend was an imaginary collie named Poojie. Yes, I am a dog person. I loved Marley & Me. I currently am allowed to reside with two Labrador Retrievers. I raised Shetland Sheepdogs in my former married lifetime. Yes, I am a dog person.

So, I wept at the end of this book, even though we readers were put on alert as to how Enzo's own story would end.

Enzo travels from puppyhood, when Denny is an aspiring racecar driver, through Denny's marriage to Eve, the birth of Zoe, Eve's battle with brain cancer and her death, Denny's battle with in-laws for custody of Zoe, to Enzo's last days when Denny reaches the pinnacle of what Enzo has dreamed for him.

Enzo is the quintessential loyal Dog archetype. He's the ultimate companion in service to his master. He is Denny's amanuensis. (And Stein, his.) He serves as the mirror for Denny's fears of "not belonging or of not being approved of," as Jamie Sams puts Dog Medicine in her Medicine Cards. Enzo believes in Denny, even when Denny does not. He is Dog.

But Enzo longs to be a human. He envies our opposable thumbs and flexible tongues.
He has, as he often says, only gestures. Oh, but he does use those gestures well! i.e. when he tears custody papers from Denny's hands and ultimately lifts a leg on them. Ah, yes, he uses gestures very well!

I remember when our 7 year old Black Lab, Dusty, was just a pup. Dusty terrorized the house with his chewing. Everything went into his mouth. He chewed a hole in the wall, razor blades, underwear, jewelry and - horrors! - books! The Old Goober and I would holler at him and, eventually, when Dusty realized the hollering was directed at him, he would settle down with a look of guilt in those large brown eyes.

One particularly bright and shiny autumn afternoon Dusty leapt onto the couch, tipping it towards the window and began his "Squirrel, get off the Boss's property!" bark. I thought he and the couch were going straight through the window after our resident pesky tree rodent. It was then I also saw the masticated end of a throw pillow, it's guts spilling out onto the couch.

I instantly had a flash of Dusty in a straight-jacket and I heard in my head, "But I don't have any hands! And there is so much out there to experience! All I have is my mouth!"

Indeed. All a dog has is gestures.

This, fortunately for us, makes Enzo a keen observer of his human family and he shares their story with us.

However, I've been arguing with myself whether Enzo's dog-sight keeps him from seeing anyone but Denny as no more than a two-dimensional character. Denny's in-laws, the Twins as Enzo dubs them, certainly suffer from being the stereotypical evil in-laws out to control the life of their progeny. Perhaps it's that Enzo watches too much television? I don't know. I can't help but feel as if there was much more to this story that got edited out somewhere along the line. I would have loved more of Eve in particular. Why did she succumb to her parents' manipulation so easily? More depth would have made this a truly remarkable book. As it is, it is a pleasant read.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Today's quote

Friday, May 9, 2008

Building Condominiums

Today I was sifting through my files on my computer at work looking for something - I forgot what. Instead, I found things that I had written a few years ago. I figured one was okay to post here. It follows:

As I was standing outside for my break one day, two Cedar Waxwings started fussing at me and diving down within three feet of my head. I had no idea what their fuss was about. I followed their hyper-flight movements until I was dizzy. Then they stopped and flew away over the roof of the church. They couldn’t possibly have been building a nest on the church roof. It is deeply pitched. And the eaves weren't the kind that would be accessible for a nest. It was a mystery!

For some reason a memory suddenly warmed through me. It was a memory of reading the Seuss story of Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose to my son. I think it was that one. Anyhow, Critter was about 6 years old, I think. We came to the point in the story were poor Thidwick had all kinds of little critters making homes in his antlers. Thidwick let a Zinazu bird build a nest for his Woodpecker wife, then along came four squirrels, then a bobcat, then a turtle, etc. until his antlers had a raft of residents.

I was reading on thinking to myself about boundaries and not letting people take advantage of your goodwill, etc., but poor, beleagured Thidwick didn't know what to do. "What would you do?" I read aloud good Dr. S’s question to Critter.

Critter immediately came up with the answer, "Build Condominiums!"

He wasn't being funny. He had been pondering the circumstances while I was reading. I saw that little crease between his eyebrows forming even then. He came up with the most equitable and creative way to solve the problem he could think of. Condominiums - the critters would have nice homes and Thidwick could make some money. I stared at my son. What does a 6 year old know of condominiums anyway? But then, this was Critter!

Critter never seemed to give up on a problem or puzzle. He was, and still is, a problem solver. His job now at 31 is that very thing, solving problems so that company and client may have an equitable resolution. It's amazing to me. He always finds a way. He doesn't give up till he finds a solution and makes it work.

But my point here isn't bragging about my successful son! Proud as this Mama might be and loving to do it whenever she can! The point is that there IS always a solution if we have faith and stick with the work until we find it.

I didn't tell Critter then that the condos would be too heavy, or it would still be too noisy, or maybe Thidwick's friends wouldn't want to pay what he asked, etc. etc. OR that he'd missed entirely the point about boundaries and being taken advantage of! I just laughed with joy and told him what a wonderfully creative idea that was! Good for him!

Later in his life he would meet head on the criticism of others which would work at tearing apart that which he would wish to build. That would come soon enough, as it does for us all as we head into our teen years.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Family Stories

That's my father, William Hale Lindholm, and his dog, Shep. I have quite a few stories about Dad when he was a boy and living on a chicken farm in Donaldson, Indiana. I also have stories about my maternal grandmother, my Grams, and her childhood in St. Louis living above a Chinese laundry.

I have Aunt Elsie stories, Mom stories....

I wondered why, after I divorced, I got rid of almost all my possessions with the singular exception of boxes of old photographs, letters, a huge old scrapbook of my grandfather Lindholm's (half of which the contents are in Swedish), and odds and ends - momentos - of the lives of my family. Most all of whom have passed over 20 years ago at the least.

I toted those boxes from one place to another for eight years and now, since I've settled, I've the time to sift through them. I've sorted and scanned photos, some of which I swear I'd never seen before. I've read letters I know I'd never read before - had no idea existed and certainly not that I was in possession of them.

And now my genealogical authority marvel of a daughter-in-law
has me hooked on searching online through files to put some order to the stories - the connections, the skeletons. My stories are beginning to flesh out in the most remarkable ways to me.

And it hit me -
that's why!!

I have been given care of these historical wonders for a very specific purpose. Me - the one who writes! Hah! I have plans! First it will be my grandmother's story. I'm already diving into the history of St. Louis and the "Kerry Patch" Irish neighborhood.

I'm excited! Oh, yes. I'm excited.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Flits

Obviously, I haven't been writing much lately. It's a period of having a myriad of ideas all running through my head without time to give them attention. Flit! And then it's gone. I can't revisit the moment without something else grabbing my attention. Often a dog needing out when I'm home, or a phone ringing and/or someone walking into the office at work.

When I do have "time" I am so exhausted and longing for the flits to go away so I can just "be." I read then, taming my brain into order so that I may later sleep.

I sometimes worry that the flits are my way of being, that focus and writing is not to be mine. But it's a season, I believe. A time of busy-ness that I must undertake.

But I do wish it would end soon. It is exhausting.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wee Betty

Michelle tagged me to post a baby pic of wee Betty. Here she is at 3 years old. Prissy thing, wasn't she?

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I have long wanted to write something based on my grandmother's (maternal grandmother's) life, as she told it to me. She grew up in St. Louis round the turn of the 20th century. She came from an Irish immigrant family. Her mother died when she was a child - thrown from a streetcar - and she and her two older sisters were farmed out to aunts, as their father was an alcoholic and not able to take care of the girls. My grandmother got the aunt who was, as my grandmother called her, an old harridan. Grams tried running away many times to join her sisters in Chicago, but always got hauled back to Aunt Alice...until she didn't, and made it to Chicago to join her sisters. There she met and married the boy next door, a blacksmith and prize-fighter, my Gramps.

Okay. Good stuff. Lots to base a good story around. I have lots of little Grams-tales to add, too.

But, this takes research. Lots of it.

Now I do love history and that's not the problem, but I keep seeing the "C's" on all my efforts that took research in high school through college. It just wasn't my thing, I guess. I get very impatient with details, you see. I know they are needed, but they frustrate the heck out of me when I'm focused on "the bigger picture."

This may be different, I don't know. I may have "grown up." I also know that once the story is down, lots of the details can be changed and filled out. That's what you do when you write. Slice, dice and edit. I know what that's like. I've done it often enough. I do pay attention to the details there, because it is...well, my passion.

I have something else I've been working on, a fantasy novel. Doesn't mean I couldn't work on them both, does it?

And I did live and work in St. Louis for awhile myself during my former husband's seminary days - across from Forest Park where the 1904 World's Fair took place. I have a sense of St. Louis.

I keep debating with myself - should I or shouldn't I? Would it be a waste of time and another disappointment?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I Am Not Well-balanced

So...physical gotten, fitness evaluated. I'm alive, 59 years old and, due to sitting in front of a computer all day at work, overweight (Yeah, like I didn't know that!), my cholesterol and blood sugar are way too high, and my balance is wonky.

I found myself telling Chris, my fitness trainer (Oh, that does sound impressive, doesn't it?)that I used to be a dancer, like somehow that was going to make my balance return in a *blink* and she'd be so impressed. Good grief! I got home and realized that the last dancing lessons I took were 32 years ago, before I got pregnant with the Critter!

Not that there hasn't been physical activity in the interim. I walked, chased children, worked out at a friend's physical fitness shop with the accurate name Body by You, and I took the occasional Yoga class. But, for the most part, I've been sedentary due to my work choices for the last 15+ years. It takes its toll.

And then there's the fact that I'm post menopause. Ugh. I will not go into the disgusting details of how that effects one's body. But I will mention one observation.

That balance thing. I actually realized I was through the bloody (no pun intended) transition for the first time, because I noticed that my center of gravity had changed. Where the heck was it now? I felt like I'd lost my anchor and was floating six inches off the floor and grasping for the walls. I've been looking for that anchor ever since. Hence, the wonky balance.

Very disconcerting for a stick-in-the-mud Capricorn like me. I have to make sense of things. Be grounded.

I traveled through menopause during the most chaotic period of my life. I was totally and completely uprooted, my life turned upside down and sideways. Very synchronous, I'd say.

But I've set down a few roots again...tentatively and very skeptically...shakily. It's new ground for me, just like being on the other side of this menopause thing. I'm looking for that balance, but it just isn't the same, ya know?

But why should I expect it to be?

I feel like a pioneer looking for that "perfect" piece of land.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fit for What?

And I thought my doctor would be thrilled I was going to start a fitness program! DOH!

I went to the doc for yet another sinus infection and happened to mention that I was going to be starting a fitness program at the place where I went for physical therapy for my tennis elbow and this wonky neck of mine. I'm thinking she'll be pleased and pat me on the back, yes?

No. Instead she gets all big-eyed and reaches out like she's going to grab my arm! She composes herself and tells me that I have to get a physical before I start because she doesn't want me dropping from a heart attack! Yeeooowwwch! She then goes on to tell me like a soothing mother hen (she's maybe all of 35 and I just had my 59th b'day) that women don't exhibit symptoms like men do and when they take on something like this they can drop from an "episode."

Woof! Talk about feeling old.

Anyhow, I'm getting the physical Monday.

Yes, Mom.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


I was grumbling and annoyed this morning - sinus infection, earache, and what was that Caucus all about anyway? And then I happened on this.

I have no idea what the music is all about (It's obviously Japanese), but the photography is amazing!

I'm smiling. I'm purring. Think I'll go snuggle down with Fox for a nap and let the world go hang for a bit.