Monday, December 31, 2012

Dancing Quietly into 2013

 
Never let go the reins of the wild colt of the heart
—Buddhist Saying
 
 
Bundled up on a winter’s night, off we went in search of a pair of winter boots to sustain the snow, for soon we will experience our first snow trip together.
 
We passed one of my favorite sculptures in the shopping plaza. I didn’t have my camera and asked my significant other if he could take a photo with his phone. After he took a few shots, I walked up to the dancer, offered my hand, looked into his deep eyes, and then turned to the camera.
 
I thanked my Love and planted a kiss on his lips.
 
As I—we—dance into 2013, and as God wills, into the years, I will hold onto those reins—I will feel the flutter of my heart for the experiences—great and small—of this magical adventure called life.
 
Sending many positive wishes and blessings many times over.
 
Rebb

Friday, December 28, 2012

Short Story: Work Quirk

Walking back from their meeting, Jan clutches her file folder and notebook to her chest to keep all the warmth inside her down jacket. A cold lingers in her system. She starts coughing a horrible cough and her boss, Nevil, says, “are ya gonna live, Jan?”

“I think so,” she replies.

She’s gotten used to—or rather, she’s tried very hard to ignore some of the oddities of Nevil’s personality. Not oddities exactly, more like the splits in his personality.

Charley, the other office worker, kept quiet on the walk back. It was the three of them in this little office of number crunching.

They still had business to discuss, so they proceeded into Charley’s office to conclude the meeting. They got down to the “RIP List” to keep track of who had passed away, so they could keep watch on when they would need to follow up about paperwork and such. Nevil saw that the list was blank.

“So, no one’s died this year?”

“I guess not. But the year’s not over,” Jan replied matter of factly.

“No, I guess it’s not. Heck, it could be you, Jan. You don’t have to be old to die.” He had a smirk on his face that she would have gladly torn off.

Jan looked up, not surprised at Nevil’s comment. “Yes, that’s true. It could be me. I might not show up tomorrow,” she added with a slight annoyance in her voice.

"Jeez," said Charley, at the time giving some sort of a chuckle grunt to imply that this talk was a bit off track.

“I’m used to it." Jan looked at Charley, then back down at her list.

Nevil seemed taken aback and said, “now, Jan—”

“Ever since I started working here, you’ve made comments about my death. When I used to ride my bike to work, you’d say, ‘don’t get run over’ or ‘watch out crossing the street, you might get hit by a car, and I need you to come in’”

“Well you’ve worried about my death too. She used to worry a lot. She’s worried she won’t get paid.”

“I used to worry about what we would do if it did happen—how would we handle dealing with the clients—your clients—if you’re not here. We can’t work for free, even in a difficult situation like this.”

“Remind me to work on it.”

He had been reminding her and she had followed up, but he only made jokes. He wasn’t taking it seriously. She had a friend that went through the experience and she just wanted to know if there were plans in place so that things could run smooth during a possible transition.

“Ok, anything else?”

There was nothing else. The meeting was over.

But Jan couldn't stop thinking.

Was this God’s way of saying, “Hey, Jan, you’ve been fighting with yourself for many years: Should I stay; should I leave. You’ve been stuffing things that bother you, talking them out, shouting them out. You’ve never been one to lick someone’s boots. You’ve been loyal. You’ve tried to do a good job. And on the other side: He’s been flexible. He’s been generous in his own way. But—always a but—you sense something that you’re not sure you can keep turning your back on and that’s a sense of true appreciation and respect that’s lacking on his part. And you’ve argued with yourself—and every now and then he offers small praises, shows a little respect.

It’s more than that though. It’s as though he feeds off of the weaknesses that he perceives in you. He knows you’re a worrier. What does he do? He tries to make you worry and he admits it in a roundabout way. “Oh, no, I forgot to call in payroll,” he’ll say. And he did forget once. And you will worry because it doesn’t just affect you, but another employee.

He doesn’t seem to want to find anymore potential in you and seems to want to keep you down. That’s what you tell yourself because you’ve worked for other people where they clearly keep challenging you and helping you grow and it’s reached the point where it’s quite the opposite here. But, you have some of the things that you appreciate: Flexibility like you’ve never had; his sense of humor, which you like when he’s not using it against you; good pay. But, there are lots of buts—you feel like something big is missing and each year you tell yourself, one more year, and now eight years later, the years seem to have gone by fast. The challenge is you leaving—if and when—until you find something promising. You’re not jumping ship just for anything because it’s not all that bad. You wish there were more work. If things go according to the norm, he’ll retire in another five years. You can wait until then, can’t you? And most importantly, you keep telling yourself and thanking God: At least I have a job. I appreciate having work. I’m thankful for the days the boss is in a pleasant mood and says good morning to me and doesn’t use that ugly tone with me.

In any relationship, even if the good outweighs the bad, eventually the bad overshadows the good, especially when it keeps circling back and old wounds get opened.

You tell yourself, there must be a reason, there must be some divine plan that has you—a naturally sensitive person, that at times is moved to tears by the slightest beauty or hurt—there must be a reason for your personality and his personality to have sustained each other this long. In a way, you’re good for each other. You can read him, and on the surface, he can read you. You offer water and fire, where he offers earth and air. Or are you becoming more like ice?

Charley says sometimes you two talk to each other like an old married couple. You can usually stay a couple of moves ahead of Nevil. When he’s lost something, you know where to find it. He has a great sense of humor and a kind heart. He just doesn’t wear his heart on the outside of his sleeve. He’s fantastic with his clients and he’s admitted to you that sometimes when he speaks to you in that ugly tone, it’s not you he’s directing it toward, but you’re there—you’re the backdrop, you’re getting his frustration. Might be client related, might have just been a bad morning.

You tell yourself it’s really not that bad. You know there are assistants out there who are treated really poorly and some who probably don’t stick up for themselves. You don’t want a high stress job.

You ask yourself and wonder what’s on the other side. In a way, working for a small company is like a marriage—well not exactly, but it’s a relationship and there are times when you aren’t sure if it’s working any longer.

And don’t kid yourself. You know you’re not indispensable. You don’t want to be either.

If, and when you leave, you know that you want to leave on good terms. You want to leave on a high note, not when you’ve taken something too personally and internalized it for days.

But until then, keep working on those lessons, keep wondering, try to fight stagnation. Try to do what’s best for you. If an opportunity approaches, seize it. You know he’ll be all right.



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Remembering Mrs. F. ~ Elementary School


I remember skipping down the pathway from kindergarten class to greet my mother singing, “goody, goody, gumdrops.”  A friend was by my side, skipping along with me, both of us giggling, as we raced down that path towards our mothers waiting in their cars.
 
I also remember my teacher, Mrs. F., with such great fondness. If my memory serves me, she was my teacher for first and second grade; first grade at one school and second at another school when she transferred. My mother could have selected a school that was slightly closer to our home; instead she chose the school where Mrs. F. would be teaching. She was bilingual and I have a feeling that she may have spoken to some of us in Spanish at times. I felt safe in her classroom. I remember having fun and learning, and she cared about each and every one of us.
 
I don’t doubt that it’s difficult to be a teacher. I don’t know if I would be able to juggle so many temperaments and activities by myself. I do think, however, that I would be more in my element as an assistant teacher, possibly in kindergarten through second grade.
 
Recently when I walked into a second grade classroom the teacher’s back was to me and I was greeted by her words to another student, bending over him, saying, “no, that’s not right,” in a sharp tone. I said, “excuse me,” so that I could get her attention and not risk hearing anymore. I had to say excuse me again. She looked up with a smile on her face. I introduced myself and told her that I was there for one of the students. Oddly enough, it was the student who was being corrected by her.
 
She seemed nice enough when she didn’t sound so negative with the student, but that scene left a slightly bad taste in my mouth. I felt the words drill into me—not just the words, but the tone in which she said them. I’ve had to tell myself since that time to not be judgmental and remind myself that intuitively I know the teacher’s job is not an easy one and that I only saw a small sliver.
 
The next time I went to this classroom for the same student, she called the student for me. Just then a young girl second grader got up out of her chair and began moving toward the teacher with a question—pencil and paper in hand—excitement in her voice. “Sit!” the teacher said in an authoritative voice. “Did I say you could get up?” Again the words sliced through me, as the girl turned to go back to her seat. The boy and I left for our reading session.
 
I wondered to myself if this was typical and if all second grade teachers spoke to their students like this. I also thought of my dear Mrs. F. I do recall that she had to raise her voice a few times, but I don’t know that I remember any scolding that stands out. I’m sure she probably had to be tough with us too. I mostly remember the caring that I felt in her classroom. I can’t remember specific details, just the sound of her voice and the smile on her face.
 
And about seven to ten years back, I ran into her on two occasions, she was just as I remembered her and didn’t seem to have aged at all. I recognized her immediately, greeted her, and she clearly remembered me and reminisced for a few moments about how she loved her “little angels.”
 
Something that I had totally forgotten until recently is that the second time that I bumped into her by chance I expressed an interest in teaching. She told me that she was still at the same school where I had gone and to drop by some time and sit in on her class. I have few regrets in life and I try not to make the habit of collecting them. I do wish that I had followed through. I never did. By now she is retired.
 
But she did make an impression upon me in my childhood and later on in my adulthood when I saw her and spoke very briefly with her. How lucky to bump into your favorite teacher, not once, but twice!
 
We were her “Little Angels.”

 

 

 

 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve & Writing

It’s hard to believe that Christmas Eve is upon us. My significant other and I managed to finish our Christmas shopping, all except for one gift certificate that we still need to get, but the hard part is out of the way.

Unfortunately my body has been fighting a cold these past two days and this morning I’m not feeling 100%.

It’s amazing how easy it is to become out of practice and on the other hand how easy it can be to get back into the groove of an activity that used to be second nature.

In some ways, I have felt like this, off and on, with writing. And in truth, if I look back at my journals, I think this has always been present. I don’t look at this as a negative. It really has become a part of my process—the need to keep reflecting on where I am on my writing path; how writing has changed for me. Writing has always been there for me and for that I am thankful. Writing has gotten me through some very emotionally difficult times.

Sometimes I feel as though I’m turning my back on writing—or trying to. I don’t think this is the case; it does come up in my thoughts, though. Up until I started blogging about three years ago, I was a very private person. I would share my private thoughts and pieces of myself with only a select few and my journal, then one day, I landed on a particular blog that moved me and motivated me to sign up for a blog, so that I could tell the writer of the blog how much I enjoyed what they wrote, how it moved me, and how it was the reason I was in blog land.

Not long after that, I posted my first timid blog. I was at a crossroads. I was tired of writing to myself, tired of pouring my heart out to the page for my eyes alone. I was starting to feel the need to share, even if just to push my words out into the universe, so that I could see them—as though pushing my words out there made them come to life. Posting my first blog brought great swirling butterflies and heart palpitations. It was such an odd feeling to expose myself like that.

As time went on, and with certain blog prompts that spoke to me, I became more comfortable with sharing bits about my personal memories, experiences, and thoughts.

I think lately, I have been going back to my private ways, but this wavers as well. This is my attempt to coax the writer out in me—to remind myself that I don’t need to go too deep back into my shell, that I might still like to come out now and again and that it would be good for me to keep pushing forward, to keep that pen moving, keep those eyes open, keep the spark alive.

And on this day, Christmas Eve, I feel grateful for life. I feel grateful for the written word.

Positive light and peaceful thoughts to you—to the world.

Rebb

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I Notice…

I’ve walked by this building a million times, and at dusk two days ago, I saw it for the first time.

Today I notice that the glass windows that wrap the brick building look like the Caribbean Sea. How could I have missed it all these years? I stand there and I lose myself in the warmth of that image—of the crystalline waters—as the brisk day gently slaps my face frigid.

And I notice the small leaves that propeller down like tiny moths as cold breath leaves my mouth; and I notice the crows in the distance discussing the days events amongst each other, coordinating where their next meal will come from.

I look up one more time, rest my eyes upon the great pine tree, right as a single crow takes flight and finds a spot within its cozy branches.

And I say goodbye to the stark white beech trees in repose. I say goodbye to these tiny significant simplicities that fill my evening with joy…until tomorrow and the next day...and the next moment...simple gifts to be found each time I go to sleep and each time I wake, grateful for each day of breath.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Morning Pages: Concert, Little A’s Third B-Day, Some Books

A good numbers day today: One eleven nested between two twelve’s and tomorrow will be a great numbers day: 12/12/12. Beautiful!

We had a fun time at the Ozomatli concert this past weekend. It was a busy day of errands and then the night brought great music and dancing. It was crowded and the floor vibrated. Most of the audience was somewhere in their twenties to forties, but there was one Latin couple that caught our eyes. They must have been in their 60s and boy could they dance. The man had the rhythm in his bones and his hips and body moved all night. His wife was a bit more reserved, like me, but she couldn’t help but let the music pull her into motion. They weren’t dancing as a couple, as most everyone moved to the rhythms on their own, with the exception of one young man in front of me who danced with a few ladies. A good vibe the whole night, and I was up way past my bedtime and had a few more drinks than usual, which was still not much.

The following morning we went over to help my significant other’s cousin and her husband help prepare for his godson, Little A’s, (my writing nickname for him) third birthday party. It was a Mickey Mouse themed party, so we helped with decorations: cutting Mickey ears for pin the ear on Mickey and other creative decorations that his cousin had planned. Everything turned out really nice. Her husband cooked yummy treats at the barbeque. While I was working on wrapping red and black plastic silverware in cute red napkins with white dots, I was also playing with Little A. He also wanted to help, so I found ways that he could assist me, whether it was taking the ribbon I had cut and placing it on the table or unraveling the ribbon. We had to keep him preoccupied while his parent’s worked on decorating his downstairs playroom without him seeing it.

He wanted to go in there, but then he settled into the family room with me, until he decided that he needed tools. I heard him asking his parents if he could go downstairs to get his tools. They told him now was not a good time and I could hear that he started getting frustrated and his father had told me about an hour back that Little A. was responsive to me, so I instinctively went in the kitchen with a plastic fork and knife in hand and said, “Little A., I think we can use these as tools, look, I think these will work,” and I started to walk toward the other room, while his parents said, “That’s a good idea.” And Little A. seemed to think so too, so we were back to working on decorations and “playing.”

Time went by really fast and we needed every minute of the four hours it took for everyone to get everything in order before the guests would arrive. When Little A. saw his playroom, he was so excited that he let out a scream and was jumping up and down. Mickey Mouse images were everywhere and balloons and presents—all nicely laid out and organized.

In late November I finished the last of the Harry Potter books. I had stopped at a certain point in the last book. I cried at what Harry learned in his final view into the Pensieve and the question that loomed in my mind about this particular professor and the greater truth was answered. I didn’t want the story to end, so after I cried, I set the book aside for several days and possibly a week, not ready for the end. I could have easily continued reading, but all good things must come to an end and so it did and now I am happy to have taken that journey, one that I may not have, but for something pulled me in that direction in this year of 2012 in the month of November.

Because of my experience with the Harry Potter books, I knew that my next book(s) would have to be special, to hold some meaning for me even before embarking on their page’s journey. So that brought me to my favorite author, Hermann Hesse. I have begun The Glass Bead Game several times over the long years. I was not ready each of those times. Now, though, I felt more ready than ever and so I began from the beginning again and I’m almost finished. I actually did finish the story itself and am now reading the last part within this fictional biography, the fictional posthumous writings of Joseph Knecht. It’s a story that I am still contemplating. It’s deep and beautiful and I relate in so many ways as far as the questions, self-discovery, inner/outer knowledge, sense of freedom, and inability to name the nameless.

I also restarted a biography of Hermann Hesse, but have put that aside for the time being. I had also been reading Dante Alighieri’s The Inferno over the years, which I finally finished and am ready to move onto The Purgatorio. What brought me back to Dante is a book that popped into my memory that I had learned about from a schoolmate at least six or seven years ago. The book is called Dante’s Path: A Practical Approach to Achieving Inner Wisdom by Bonney Gulino Schaub, R.N. and Richard Schaub, Ph.D. I’m about halfway through this book and appreciate how the authors shed light on Dante’s works from a practical healing perspective. I am enjoying and benefiting from this book.

I tuned into a lecture series on the iTunesU about death. The course explores death from a philosophical perspective. I listened to the introductory lecture and found the instructor to be quite entertaining. I tried to listen to the second lecture one evening in bed—bad idea. Not only did I fall asleep, but also I was in an awkward position and made a strange breathing noise as thought I was chocking that made my significant other come in and ask if I was alright. I heard the noise I made and it had actually woken me. I looked up and the lecture had stopped. I haven’t listened since, but hope that I can find a pocket of time to tune in because I have always had a fascination with death and was happy to see a course on it—from a purely philosophical perspective.

Along the lines of death…I have also come back to José Saramago’s  Death with Interruptions. I picked it up at the library about a year ago or maybe it wasn’t even that long. In any case, I didn’t get a chance to finish it at the time, and the premise caught my imagination: What exactly would happen if everyone stopped dying one day? This is my first José Saramago book and I don’t know if his writing style is the same with regard to punctuation in this book as in his others, but I’ve had to just move ahead and not worry about the fact that there are no quotation marks for dialogue; that there are many many commas and not enough periods for my taste; and I don’t think I’ve spied any semicolons. I’ve found that I have to flow through the words in a way that I’m not used to when reading a novel.

A book that I started several weeks ago, before I started reading the Harry Potters, is The Writing Class: A Novel by Jincy Willet. I thought it sounded fun and it was, but I couldn’t get back into it after HP. It’s a murder mystery. I did enjoy it while I was reading it, so I hope to finish it, since I’m so close.

Another fun book that I found on the new shelves of the library is The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes: Harnessing Our Power to Change the World by Deepak Chopra with Gotham Chopra. I need to get back to this one. It’s always interesting to hear what Chopra is up to in his books.

And so, I am back to dipping in and out of books, and at the same time trying to find one larger work that will hold my attention and pull me through, while also finding others and others finding me, as usual.

I hope that today is a Tasty Tuesday and I do mean that both literally and figuratively.
 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sunday ~ One Track Mind for the Moment…Harry Potter, Giggle Fit, Magic Journal

Sunday I hardly left the bed. I read for twelve hours straight, except for food and drink breaks; I was so absorbed in the fourth Harry Potter book, as with all the previous books, and I am now onto the fifth book.

From book four, I would be ecstatic if one day a real Pensieve were invented. Can you imagine having a place to put your excess thoughts when your mind becomes too full, to pull those thoughts by way of a magic wand, place them into a basin and examine them later in visual form—I’m dreaming, of course. I am so enchanted with the fantasy world at this moment.

I suppose what I would like is something along these lines, a journal—a magic journal— that you can feed other journals into or single pages of your thoughts and have them organize themselves by theme or in any way you’d like, much like a computer filing system or blog tagging system, but I’d like the journal to have the ability to sort itself out and maybe if I was looking for a particular pattern or patterns, it would be easier to find, rather than going back over documents on the computers that I didn’t name properly, or sifting through old journals that don’t connect easily with other journals unless I start ripping pages out and rearranging manually.

Last night when I was almost done with the Potter book, my significant was going to the store and asked me about dinner. I had a giggle fit and he told me that I needed some fresh air. He was probably right. I had been satisfied with lunch and was still full and because of that I had assumed his eating pattern would follow mine. And before bed, I couldn’t get the story out of my head. I kept thinking about what was going to happen next. I was consumed since I was only able to read the first chapter of the fifth book last night because it’s included at the end of the fourth e-book. The library didn’t have the fifth book available for download, so today I’m going to go in and get the paper copy. I wanted so much to read on, but didn’t want to purchase an e-copy, knowing the library has it.

J. K. Rowling is a master at creating tension and making the reader want to know what’s going to happen next. She’s just an all around gifted storyteller and writer with a vivid imagination. She makes me appreciate and understand how a book can be written successfully scene-by-scene and every question and curiosity that I have gets answered in succeeding chapters.

Rarely do I stick to one book and shut the others out, but I haven’t wanted to break my momentum, and I’m enjoying the journey very much!

 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Morning Page ~ Hair cut, Eating with Crows, The Lion King

This is how I was feeling a few days ago:

I don’t know what happened to the day.
It started out one way and ended another.
Today was fine up until the almost end of it.

Where were my clouds?

Even the mountain was suffocating under the deep layer of haze.

**

I had jotted these small scraps down and let it go. Then I opened my Pages program on my Ipad, which is the equivalent of Word. I had completely forgotten that I wrote that. I do remember the day. I wanted to capture it here—to add to my time capsule.

**

That has passed.

**

Yesterday when I woke up I wouldn’t have envisioned myself sitting in a hair stylist’s chair to have my hair cut short again. But as I started writing and feeling that light feeling yesterday, and thinking of getting ready for work, I realized that growing my hair out was not going to be possible because I don’t like standing with a blow dryer in my hand long enough to dry it, and with the cold weather, this would pose a slight problem for me. I decided to go back to the hairstylist that I went to before, since she knows my hair and she’s nice. I brought a few photos of pixie cuts because she’s a visual person and she is very good at replicating a haircut—at least that has been my experience so far. I was lucky that she had a cancellation when I called. I have a tendency to hope that I can get an appointment the same day I call. I always like my profile photo to reflect my current self, so chances are, I will be updating it soon.

An interesting tidbit that I learned from her is that she had attended a Vidal Sassoon class a few month’s back and said she now felt very confident with the pixie cut. I told her that she seemed quite comfortable when she had cut my hair before, yet in my mind, there was one time, she didn’t get the sides right and it was poofing out. I didn’t remind her of this, of course. She conceded that she was not as comfortable as she came across. I told her I was glad that she now felt more confident. And she did a great job on my hair, just like the photo I took in as a guide.

With my freshly trimmed hair, I’ve gotten the bug to clean out my closets and donate some unwanted clothing. The thing about super short hair, for me anyway, is that it doesn’t seem to pair well on a petite figure with baggy clothes. I have to compensate for the fact that some bit of my femininity is tied to my longer hair and baggy tops that hang drearily on me, seem to make me look more boyish. Hair. What a funny preoccupation it can be! It is such a defining characteristic.

What else? I felt so inspired on Thursday that I cooked pot roast. It was the perfect day for a cold and rainy night.

I’ve been remembering my dreams and jotting snippets down in my journal.

When I was enjoying an unhealthy breakfast at McDonald’s the other morning, I shared with a couple of crows that kindly asked for a morsel. It was a cold day, but I decided to sit at an outside table just the same. In the warmer months I have sat outside and enjoyed the crows that visit the tree outside on a regular basis. I threw a piece of my English muffin to one crow and then saw the other crow in the background and tossed him a piece. I noticed that the second crow had a bad foot. It looked as though it was actually missing and he hopped on one foot. Poor dear. He was in good shape otherwise, except for a feather out of place. He had a hearty appetite. After the first crow finished, he looked up at me and opened his beak as if to say, “more please.” And I gladly gave him another taste and threw a piece to the other crow that was keeping a distance. That was a nice way to start the day.

My significant other took me to see The Lion King at The Orpheum Theater. I admit that I had my doubts. Even though I love music and enjoyed the Disney movie, musicals are not my favorites. However, to my great surprise, The Lion King took my breath away many times over throughout the play. It was the most beautiful, stunning, creative, heartfelt performance, with set designs and costumes that left my visual senses simply in awe. I absolutely loved it!

Friday, November 9, 2012

november morning

november morning
crisp, brittle
angel kisses blow
sharp air
through peacock
feathers.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Inside the Void

There is a void inside of me that I cannot fill—and just as soon as those words escape, the ache lessens. I’m a seeker without a clear direction, not having found her way in this world. At most times content, satisfied, knowing there is more—there always is—knowing that on one hand she’d like to have her dream job; on the other hand she doesn’t know what that is.

She recognizes—now from a great distance—that her mother showed these same tendencies. Pouring themselves into each other? Pouring into something, fitting all of their desires and interests together like a great moving puzzle that is never complete—that eludes the present moment.

There is a hunger that ebbs and flows through tidal cycles, pulls the soul along, laying a path of bright stars and spinning planets. Hers is a path about wholeness, about bridging time, connecting stars, finding their center within the great chasm; and in that center is a mother and daughter—two selves connecting through time and space into a galaxy of—

 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Morning pages ~ A Warm Monday and Spending time in Hogwarts

When I stepped out of the office yesterday around 4:30 p.m., I was immediately wrapped in warmth. I hadn’t realized how nice a day it was outside. It’s customary for me to take a short walking break, to soak up the fresh air, to look up into the sky, searching for picturesque clouds, scanning the trees and wires for crows and other small feathered friends.

But somehow I was caught up in the work of the day and hardly stepped outside until much too late. As I continued walking, on my way home, I allowed the warm air to settle on me and what I saw and felt in my mind’s eye was a lovely white bird, holding the sun between his feathers and fanning me with the glow of his light. I was like a small fire that the mighty white feathers were kindling—a beautiful warm air blowing on embers to reveal a golden glow. All season I haven’t felt the air in quite this way. It was magical and I won’t forget it—I don’t want to forget it.

The Harry Potter book’s entered my world or rather I entered their world or her world…I had no intention of ever reading the books. It could be that when it was quite popular, I lost interest. I had seen the first movie and I can’t recall if I saw the second movie. I think I may have tried to read the first book many years ago and wasn’t in the mood. But recently, I started to read A Wrinkle in Time so that I wouldn’t miss this young reader classic; this, and other small things, conversations, other reading, led me back to the Harry Potter books. I set aside A Wrinkle in Time, checked out the first book in the Harry Potter series, and to my surprise, I was immediately hooked.

I started on Friday night, but couldn’t keep my eyes open past page 50. Saturday morning came and I finished. I wasn’t planning on reading all seven books and I haven’t yet—but I did rushed to the library on Saturday late morning to checkout the second book. I finished that on Sunday and proceeded to check out the third book. I checked the library’s e-book catalog this time and lo and behold, they had the books for downloading to my Kindle. I finished the third book on Monday and downloaded the fourth that same day. I can only say that I’m enjoying the books immensely and we’ll see how I do on book four. It’s 800 plus pages compared to the first three books which were in the 300 page mark, so I’m glad I’m reading it on Kindle; otherwise, my arms would be in pain. Who would have known that right now in the month of November these books would open themselves to me and that I would gladly enter?

I do hope to get back to Wrinkle soon. Things were starting to get interesting.

I have tried diligently to record the title of each book I’ve started to read and the date I finish it in an App called Evernote. I used to do this in an Excel spreadsheet and also include a column for recording my thoughts about the book, but for 2012 I had not transferred the titles over to it. So, last week I decided to take the titles that I’ve been recording and start entering them with my summary/reaction into the spreadsheet, starting with the first book of the year. I did this for a bit in the morning on two days and thought I’d tackle writing my reaction for ten books each day. I wanted to do it everyday, but I got sidetracked. I’ve enjoyed getting back to that spreadsheet. It’s been interesting to recall what the books have been about and how they affected me. One book in particular I hardly remember; some have been left unfinished to come back to; and so many others I remember with great affection.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Morning Page ~ Moods, A Balanced View of Class, Closure, Process

It is not uncommon for me to be a bit moody; and it’s also part of my personality to sometimes get excited about something, throw myself into it, and then reach a point where I’ve become somewhat unexcited and exhausted. Enjoy the journey, I remind myself.

It’s also not uncommon for me to go back and forth within myself and even without myself. I will often reject something first, then I’ll think about it, toss it around in my noggin, and I may come back around to the other side toward acceptance. Or, I simply may still not agree or reject this or that, but I will strive to find some sort of middle ground. I always try to see all the viewpoints that I’m capable of.

And so, as my short story writing class begins to wind down, I want to revisit my thoughts on the journey because I feel that I haven’t been fair and that my feelings have been highly personal and perhaps lopsided.

As a midpoint—and this is a whole separate issue that I could write about separately if I wanted to and I may. I have tried to practice a way of being specifically related to reacting to other’s issues and I am very sensitive to those that try to be fixers and helpers. Sometimes, a person needs to vent—to let out their feelings and sometimes a person wishes to put those feelings to a page. I don’t particularly like when a person reads something as if they need to offer a set solution or as if something is terribly wrong. I have caught myself many times where I have found myself saying, “You should…” or “Why don’t you…” But over the many years, I am finding myself saying these things less and less. I listen, I encourage. But I think it’s important not to use words that take power away from an individual and to be mindful of when we try too much to offer solutions when what a person may really want is an understanding ear to hear the person out, maybe even an “I know how you feel” type of response.

And so that is my midpoint. Let’s not try to be fixers of others but only of ourselves. And granted, some people like being told how they should feel or invite someone else taking on their problems. I do not. I just like writing about them—it’s one way that I can hear myself; and it’s also a way for me to process the rubble out of my mind. And if someone relates—that’s great.

Now, I shall bring myself back to my class. As I looked through the syllabus and the class discussion board last evening to see what the coming weeks have in store, that’s when it really became clear to me that the class will be over soon—in December. I’m surprised that it has moved along so quickly. I took those moments to look at what I gained from the class and I saw that there were two assignments that I’m looking forward to—they are essays rather than short stories—one essay is our account on an author that we went to see speak that had to take place during the course of this class and the other essay is a discussion of a handful of short stories that we’ve read from our book. We also have a few more scenes to work on and another workshop to do. I think we’ll be assigned to a new workshop group, which will be a nice change.

When I reread one of the short stories that came out of this class, I enjoyed it. I was slightly embarrassed at reading it because if I decide to post it here and I may, you might find familiar elements that have come up from certain blogs.

I think what I have taken from this class—what has really stood out for me—is that I cannot see myself up at a podium speaking about my novel or short stories—I don’t actually have a novel, but I’m projecting myself into the future. That’s not my path. What I can see, though, is me up there at the podium with my children’s book in hand talking to the audience about what inspired this or that story and how I came to write children’s books and had I always wanted to write children’s books. This makes me think and realize that I haven’t ever been to a book talk for a writer of children’s books, so this will be on my list of things to do. I don’t even know if they are as common.

But, just the process is enough. I don’t really feel that I have a desire to publish other things as I once did, except here on my blog.

This class has made me realize that although at first I rejected the scene approach, I’ve actually grown to accept it and to realize and accept within myself that I do best writing short scenes, but sometimes the challenge for me is to imagine the scenes within the whole and to take them further. Sometimes, the singular scenes want to stay just that—a singular moment.

I also love the very first assignment we had which was to write a list of everything we are interested in and want to write about. This would be a list that we could come back to for inspiration and ideas, to add to. It could be a single sentence, a word, a place…as detailed or minimal as we wanted. This list allowed me to explore a moment I’ve wanted to explore for a long time. I did use a few ideas from that list, created scenes and received constructive feedback.

So I guess what I’m trying to tell myself is that I got more from this class than I’ve allowed myself to realize. My moods have been fluctuating lately and that’s not uncommon in general. I used to be a much moodier person; and I have no shame in admitting that my Cancerian sun Qualities contribute to that, along with my strong Leonian, and Arian influences. I can be a moody lion indeed! Roar!! And then I will scuttle inside my little shell and lick those wounds if there are any to be had. Of course there is also the quick temper that was mostly dominant in childhood. Can you imagine me, running in anger toward the wall and kicking it in, leaving a hole! My brother had upset me that day and I think I must have been who knows how old—younger than a teenager, perhaps right on the cusp.

But I digress…I’m gearing up for my next scene and what I appreciate most about it is we have broader choice in selection this time. On the whole, it’s been a wonderful class and it has reminded me to keep the images of the oak and the bamboo reed clear in my mind because as much as I love oak for all his strength and beauty, I aspire to be like the bamboo reed, bending and swaying through life’s winds—to maintain a sense of resilience and always readjusting along the way.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween is in the Air


Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays; my other favorite is Valentine’s Day.

I think my favorite part of Halloween during childhood was trying to decide what I was going to be—and of course knocking on doors and collecting candy.

I have a photo that my mother took at my grandparent’s house. I looked like a Mexican princess in a red lacy dress that came all the way down to my feet. She had pulled my hair back tight, red rouge on my cheeks and lips. But from my memory of that photo, I looked miserable. It must have been her costume choice.

As I grew old enough to select my own costumes, I enjoyed being happy clowns on several occasions. But as I grew into my teenage years, into my twenties, and beyond, my favorite Halloween costume was always a gypsy. I used clothing that I already owned, adding my own creativity, pairing different pieces that I had bought on a whim because they were unique; and though I wouldn’t wear them under ordinary circumstances, I knew a day would come. Since I haven’t always worn much makeup, if any, I also enjoyed painting my face up with dark eye shadow around my eyes and adding other colors that would add to my gypsy look. My whole face would become a different version of myself, colorful and mysterious.

I loved being able to embrace a different side of myself, a wilder side that Halloween provided the outlet for me to express.

I’m not a partygoer, so I don’t dress up anymore, but because this year I’m in the spirit, I bought myself a huge clown tie that I found at the .99 cents store. I saw it a week ago and thought I’d wear it to work. That’s about as dressed up I’ll get this year.

One more bonus is that my significant other and I may join his cousin and her husband to take Little A. Man trick-or-treating. He will be three soon. I hope my significant other is able to get off work in time, so we can join in the fun of Halloween from my favorite point of view—that of a child.

Along the lines of tricks and treats, we are bringing Little A. Man a picture book called The Escape of Marvin the Ape by Caralyn and Mark Buehner. Hopefully he doesn’t have this one. I found the book in a children’s bookstore a few days ago. I was drawn to large picture of Marvin on the cover and thought he might like it. The illustrations are wonderfully realistic and detailed and the writing supports each image as we follow Marvin along to the different places he visits. And if you look really close, you will see a few hidden surprise images, but you have to look very close or you might miss them. My significant other and I had fun searching for the images. Those that I missed he saw and vice versa.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Evening Pages

This may be a scattering of thoughts. I’ve felt a bit odd of synch with my blog because I’ve gone back to my personal journal pages and those have been a rambling of my thoughts. Sometimes those thoughts make their way to my blog and sometimes not. I’ve  been rethinking a lot of things and I do best when I’m preoccupied and don’t have too much time to over think. I tend to sometimes allow my thoughts to go everywhere and other times they are more focused. It could be that I’m winding down or winding up, depending on how I look at it.

I’m rolling along somewhat unexcitedly in my short story writing class. Yes, I have written a few scenes; and yes, I’ve written a couple of stories, but overall the experience wasn’t what I expected. I’m definitely glad that I’ve taken other creative writing courses in the past. Now, I have one more perspective to add to my collection. I think I may be outgrowing the community college course format.

**

Mr. Squirrel I almost ran over you.
I kept my eyes out for you
when I drove the winding roads.
I saw you with your cute
cheeks filled with nuts. You started to run.
I pushed the breaks hard. Next thing I knew,
I was clenching my teeth in hopes
that you made it across.
When I looked back, there you were
wiggling your bushy tail; you
zipped across, with those cute cheeks,
filled with your bounty,
bound for your winter home.

**

Have you checked out the iTunes U Apple App? They have a large selection of free course material from different universities that you can access. I’m currently enjoying a course: History of Children’s Literature through La Trobe University in Australia. The instructor is David Beagley. In this particular course I only have access to the audio, but I have enjoyed what I’ve listened to so far. Very insightful, and this is a strong area of interest for me right now.

Sunday I took myself to a used bookstore to sell a stack of books. I realized that the books I was taking could easily be checked out from the library at a later time if I still wanted to read them. Because I’m on a children’s book kick, that was my mission. I just wanted to browse what was there on the shelves. I was so excited when I saw a familiar book that I had completely forgotten about: Petunia by Roger Duvoisin. I just remember the cover with Petunia on it on a red background and that’s it, so I had to buy it to add to my books. I also saw a couple other books that I wasn’t familiar that I felt were worth having.

Some years ago I found myself buying an out of print children’s book from an online bookseller. There were a few other titles that I recently decided that I wanted to own, also out of print. So there I was on Sunday night, pressing the buy button, half feeling bad about the need to possess these books and half feeling what the heck, we only live once and these books may be even harder to find at some later date.

I’ve managed to finish a few other books…though this month or perhaps it’s the season, or perhaps there’s a cycle I’m in and that cycle is: scattered.

In getting ready to say goodbye to October,
I imagine myself enveloped in deep gray clouds.
Sitting atop a tall wall of white brick that looks onto a castle.
I hug my knees close to my body, listen to the night air—
this quiet feeling will carry me through winter.

November is Picture Book Month!

 
How exciting that November is Picture Book Month. I had no idea but lately as I’ve been visiting different children’s book websites I thought I saw something but clicked on. Then it was clear when a fellow blogger had shared the news in her blog
 
Now I have an even better reason to celebrate the picture book in November! 
 
Learn more about the celebration and how you can share in the fun:
http://picturebookmonth.com/

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Left Handed Doodle


Any type of creative expression, whether the end result is “good” or “bad” is healthy for our whole being.

I am reminded of an older woman that I met years ago. Our paths crossed for one brief summer and then our paths separated and we went our own ways. She was a great woman and had quite a mind—she was a visionary, a rebel—a strong spirit that was ahead of her time. She was a retired teacher and high school counselor, jobs she both loved, yet you could hear the disappointment in her voice at not being able to make real needed change and commitment within the faculty. She was also a writer—not published, but she wrote prolifically to her muse. Toward the end of our short relationship I became drained. I realized that though I enjoyed being a sounding board for her, learning from her, and understood and empathized with her, I was becoming depleted. Her unresolved energy was rubbing off on me, and left me feeling sapped and cranky.

Though, a fond memory that I take from our short acquaintance is when I shared my artwork with her one day. It was a mandala that I had been working on. I used drawing pastels on a blue midnight blue background. A healing energy emanated from it. She took it from my hands and admired it. She wanted to draw something too. She wanted to use her hands and imagination, reach into herself and see what would happen. Her beautiful crystalline blue eyes widened. I told her to go for it.

Several days later I saw her at the coffee shop. We said our hellos and started talking. She pulled a folded piece of paper from her bag and said she had something to show me. She unfolded the page timidly and there was a picture that she had drawn. I remember a sun and I remember liking her picture very much, but most important, I was proud of her for not being afraid of how childlike or how “bad” her drawing might have become as she set out on the blank drawing page that was new territory for her. She was willing to try it, rather than say, I can’t do it, I’m no good, or I can’t draw.

If we tell ourselves we can’t enough times, we will start to believe it.

We can do anything we set our minds to.

A large part of the joy for me is in the doing—coming to whatever task it may be, standing at the threshold, and taking that first step.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dear Monday

Well, Monday, here you are again—a start to the five days that lead to Sunday. I’ve gotten used to you. I don’t dread you any longer. I try to find the joy in you and your other six brothers and sisters. Today, though, dear Monday, I’d like to have an extra day—just one more. I know this isn’t possible and that I must begin motivating myself to get out the door.

These past few days, weeks, months, I’ve jotted down little something’s in my private notebooks and journals, both of the paper variety and the electronic. I’ve had ideas come to me, things that I want to write about. I have starts—that’s a step in the right direction. All the little bits and scraps, though, have added up to so many directions and pieces that it becomes a challenge to decide where I want to go or if what’s there is enough.

And sometimes, like a record that skips and stays in the same spot for a time, that’s where I find myself. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, really. I know that when it’s time the lever will be jiggled and the skipping and repeating will subside. It’s just that I’m aware of it and being aware of it brings a sense of self-consciousness. At the same time, writing it out here, will release me for the time being; it may even cause more self-consciousness. It’s all part of the process—that is one of my mantras—and I can’t help coming back to it over and over again.

It rained last night, Monday, while I was sleeping. It rained and rained until this morning; and right now, I can see the sun bursting through the back window. It’s tempting me to come outside, to smell the freshness that rain brings. I suppose this morning, Monday, I would like to stay cuddled up with a book, write some more, drink some tea because I’ve had my fill of coffee for the morning. I would like to know what I’m preparing for dinner and I have something in mind, but nothing concrete, nothing that jazzes me, that beckons me into the mindset of wanting to be in kitchen. I want the kitchen to grab me, twirl me around and make me dizzy with joy.

Well, Monday, thanks for listening. It’s time for me to go to work now. It will be a fine day.

Miraculous
Outside
New
Dazzling
Alfresco
Yummy

Monday, Let’s go have a Yummy Day!

A Few Children’s Picture Books


There are many books in this genre that I will simply never get to, many will have slipped by, and new ones will be published at a rate that I cannot keep up with. I am most pleased when I find a storybook from my childhood that I had forgotten about until I come across the cover art in another book, a blog, or browsing the library.

One book that recently resurfaced was Bread and Jam for Frances (1964) by Russell Hoban, pictures by Lillian Hoban. I saw Frances on the cover and I was immediately transported to a small part of my childhood. I remember the pictures and how all that Frances wanted to eat was bread and jam, yet I didn’t remember if this story was read to me or if I was able to read the words. Most definitely I was able to read the pictures, including the wonderful expressions and emotion of Frances and the Badger family. Mr. and Mrs. Badger are kind and understanding parents and that comes through in the illustration and the story.

Looking at the illustrations, I also feel a calm in the artwork. Soft pencil work; the only colors used, besides the black to create the outlines and add shading, are pastel pink, pastel blue, and the white space that is not shaded in. It’s really quite lovely and I wonder if this also drew me to the book as a child.

Two books that I learned about from a literacy website that I hadn’t read are Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears (1975) By Verna Aardema, pictures by Leo and Diane Dillon; and Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China (1989) by Ed Young.

I’m so glad that I have experienced both. I love books from different cultures or that retell a story, as in this case, Red Riding hood.

When I started to browse the library catalog looking for more Red Riding hood stories, I found that there were several versions and retellings of the story. One that caught my eye that I’m waiting to arrive at the library is a Cajun rendition. I’m very curious about that one.

The version that I checked out is called Pretty Salma: A Little Red Riding Hood Story from Africa (2007) by Niki Daly. Pretty Salma is on her way to her granny’s home. Her mother tells her not to talk to strangers and to go straight to her granny’s after she picks up some things for her at the market. Along the way she meets a dog and there’s where the trouble begins. It’s a colorful story both in words and pictures with a good message for kids to remember not to talk to strangers; at the same time, the story is fun to read.

Two more:

Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955, 1983) by Crockett Johnson. I don’t recall if this was a childhood book for me, but what I do remember is seeing Harold and his purple crayon on one of the children’s programs that I watched. It’s a vague recollection, but when I see the cover of this book, there is something very familiar about it that triggers this television memory. I love this imaginative book and might choose it as a read aloud to bring along as a choice for when I’m paired with a student.

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! (2004) by Mo Willems. This is my second Mo Willems book. My first was Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! I enjoyed that one, but found it also to be a bit odd with that strange one-eyed pigeon. But, I found The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! an absolute delight. It had me laughing the moment I picked it up and flipped randomly to a page in the library. I decided to check it out and am glad I did. This will be another book that I will add to my bag of books to choose from to read aloud; and even if a child has already read it, I bet they would love to read it again and again. I think I’m becoming a Mo Willems fan and that pigeon has rubbed off on me. I like him. I know Mo Willems has several other books, so I have some catching up to do and look forward to getting caught up on his other stories.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

GIANTS & A Clown


My brother, who is twenty years older than I am, took me to my first baseball game when I was a young girl. It was the Oakland A’s. He didn’t know it, but I had a crush on Jose Canseco. I remember how shy I was. I remember wanting the free bag that the stadium was giving away, but we didn’t make it in time. My brother said to go ask someone if they didn’t want their bag. I clung to him. He nudged me. I started to walk towards someone, and then turned back. Then, he came with me, approached someone and they gladly gave up their free bag for that shy, very timid girl. Those were my first memories of baseball.

Friday night I was watching the Giants game. I’m not a big sports fan, but I have watched baseball on and off over the years and have tuned in to the Giants, especially the past week. My significant other is a huge Giants fan and last week he said he wanted to go see them play on Sunday (today) if they made it. I said I might be interested. I’ve been to one other game this year with him, his father, and one of his cousins. It was fun. Last week at work, for our team meeting, the boss wanted to go somewhere that we could watch the Giants. They won that day!

So on Friday, I watched the game, hoping they would win—and win they did. Barry Zito did an amazing pitching job and all the other players did their part.

During commercials I had a small blank canvas in front of me, along with my Sharpie markers. I wanted to draw out a fall scene, but couldn’t get my ideas out. I didn’t want to be defeated by the blank canvas, then a clown popped into my head. I’ve always liked clowns and have been a clown for Halloween on a few occasions, so from my imagination, I started drawing directly on the canvas without worry. I started to color him in. I decided to keep him like that for now, but plan on filling in the color later. I like how simple he is and feel that he has a lot of color already with only the four places that I filled in. Maybe I should make him a Giants clown.

Today, we’ll be at the GIANTS game. It will be an exciting day at the ballpark!

Go GIANTS!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Happy Girl


I’ve been having so much fun this early morning before the workday begins. I read a few Children’s picture books that I will post to my blog in the coming days.

My desire to draw has cropped up over the past several weeks and I’ve doodled a few abstract finger drawings to accompany a few of my blogs. Yesterday I was looking through one of the books I checked out at the library called Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun by Carla Sonheim. And while I was flipping through the book, I decided to try drawing one of the simpler drawings onto my Doodle Buddy App and the result is the image you see for today’s blog. It looks very similar to the original, except I didn’t color in the background and my girl actually looks happy, whereas in the original the girl looks either surprised or scared. I was thrilled at my end result. A move toward art is refreshing and a long time coming.

I also checked out another astrology book from the library and have several others in route. How I love libraries! The book is called Creative Stars: Using Astrology to Tap Your Muse by Trish MacGregor. With a title like that, how could I resist? I planned to start reading it this morning, but I got involved with other books and, one book led to another search, which led me back to the online library catalog, and that led to putting more books on hold. It’s endless.

And before I actually get to my job, I’m planning on stopping in at the library and picking up a few books that I know are on the shelves. I’m so excited. I love nothing more than being inside a library—and inside books.

I thought that today’s happy girl picture fit in with today’s energy. I thank the author of the Drawing Lab book for the inspiration. I can’t wait to begin more doodles and get back to drawing—incorporating it into my life—and learning more.

I hope that you have a wonderful day and a pleasant weekend in whichever way suits your fancy

Rebb

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Evening Pages ~ A Couple of Books, Reading, and Fancy Rice


A couple of weeks ago I started reading a book called Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox. I finished it this morning. I was pulled toward this book because of my future volunteer work as a reading tutor for young struggling readers. I would have likely checked it out otherwise, since the topic is interesting to me. I don’t have kids myself, but as many of you know, I still love children’s picture books and check them out periodically—more so now as I love knowing that I will be sharing and learning about new picture books from this opportunity.

What I found most interesting in Reading Magic is that when parents started reading to their children when they were just months old how much this impacted their reading skills as they grew older, as well as instilling a love of reading.

I recently attended the training for those of us who will be tutoring. After going over the details of what we could expect, what the goals are when we sit with our students—one-on-one—as well as some techniques to help engage the children, I felt ready. But, I will remember to go into this without expectations. We were instructed to bring a few books to our first tutoring session just to be prepared, since the students may or may not bring their own books. 

After first learning some nuts and bolts in training, we were then paired up with a partner and took turns reading to each other from Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion with pictures by Margaret Bloy Graham. I was paired with an older gentleman in his late sixties. When we were done reading, I asked him a question and it led to him telling me that he had kept all of his son’s children’s books that he had read to him when he was a child. He said that his son didn’t understand why he kept them and told him he should get rid of them. To his son, he replied, one day you’ll thank me. I told him that was fantastic and that I wished that someone had saved all my children’s books.

I’ve continued to re-explore my astrology chart and have re-visited several astrology books and added a couple to my collection. I’ve looked at my houses and re-looked at my ascendant and rising sign in more detail. I definitely re-discovered insights that made sense and shed some light on things I’ve long “felt” and have known on an intuitive level. Each time I put my chart away and come back to it, it’s like coming back to it for the first time—in a way. It has been very satisfying thumbing through the different books and absorbing the information. It can be overwhelming because there are so many different pieces to look at and some authors focus more on one piece than the other. One small thing that I forget is that there is a lot of fire in my chart. I feel that fire in myself often—even without the chart. It’s all interesting to me and satisfies my quest for continuous learning in the astrology department. But, it’s almost time for me to put it away again, until next time.

I finally made my first risotto—mushroom risotto—only it was from a healthy dinners magazine and was sans the butter. That must be why it had sausage in the recipe, which I didn’t care for. Next time I make it, it will only have mushrooms, onion, and garlic, and the other ingredients that make a risotto a risotto. When my significant other sees it on the plate, he only sees rice, so I’ve started calling it fancy rice with him. I’m just happy that I finally made a risotto. I enjoy ordering it when we go to restaurants that have it on the menu. Each risotto I have had has been different, as though the personality of the chef comes through on each plate.

Another book that I recently purchased, and I wasn’t looking, but my eyes caught Dante’s Inferno on the store bookshelf in the same section is a small book of haiku poems called haiku mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness & Open Your Heart By Patricia Donegan. I’m savoring this one morsel by morsel. What I like is that each haiku selected by the author also has a short, thoughtful reflection on each haiku and a small bit about the author. I’ve felt inspired and further quieted by this small gift of a book.

slice of moon
brushes up high
cradles me inside

**

Sweet dreams…or sweet morning…wherever you are.

Monday, October 15, 2012

waking from morning


waking from morning
stillness ripples
crow’s distant call

Friday, October 12, 2012

Spanish ~ In My Grandmother’s Kitchen

A memory rises from my grandmother’s kitchen. I saw a little bird outside, through the sliding glass door. I pointed and said, “mira, un pájaro.” My grandmother scolded me in the nicest way and even made me laugh. “No! No es pah-ha-doh. Se dice pájaro” (“No! It’s not pah-ha-doh. You say pájaro”), and she would say the word for bird in her perfect Spanish. The j and the d pronounced properly, blending with the other letters to create one beautiful word.

I had no problem with Yo quiero comer, porfavor, I want to eat, please; or Tengo hambre, I’m hungry. As an adult I still say and feel the English versions of these phrases—I’m always eating and I’m hungry often. Some things don’t change. And my grandmother would always have me say aloud a simple prayer in Spanish after I was done with my meal…gracias a Dios que me dio un pan para comer. Amen. Thank you God for giving me this bread to eat. Amen. The sense of thankfulness that my grandmother instilled in me also hasn’t change. There are many beauties in the world that remind me of all there is to be thankful of—even when I forget.

I was first exposed to Spanish as a young girl through my grandparents. My grandmother didn’t speak English, only Spanish; my grandfather spoke both English and Spanish; and my language memories with my mother are fuzzy. I don’t recall her speaking to me in Spanish, but it’s very possible she did.

I wish that I could say that I was bilingual or fluent in Spanish. It used to be one of my life goals to become fluent. I wanted to become fluent before my grandmother passed. I know that I will continue learning at my slow pace.

After my grandmother passed away, I stopped speaking Spanish. Before that I wasn’t always able to understand all of her stories. When I would visit her in her older age, her stories became longer and more detailed, but my comprehension couldn’t keep up. I had to rely on the words I could decipher, filling in the blanks with her expressions and body language. I was only able to communicate simple phrases. By this time I was in my mid-twenties and my comprehension had dwindled.

On a few other occasions I tried speaking Spanish with other Spanish-speaking people, but I became too self-conscious, knowing I didn’t sound like an authentic Mexican. I felt like an imposter.

When I was in my early thirties, I had planned on getting a bachelor’s degree in English. I hadn’t fulfilled the foreign language requirement and had a choice: Take a Spanish class—I didn’t have the patience for five months of textbook Spanish—or take a Spanish translation test. I figured I didn’t have anything to lose in attempting to translate a short excerpt from Spanish to English.

I remember finally finding the small office at the college campus where I would take the test. I was told I could bring a Spanish/English dictionary and something to write with. I had a choice of three different one-page passages. Settling on one that I believe was about history, I had one hour to complete the translation. I was surprised at how much the sentences made sense. I felt giddy at not being completely in the dark. There were several words that I had to look up in my dictionary, but it didn’t slow me down. I felt surprisingly comfortable with grammar for the most part.

When I completed my translation, I felt good, but knew there might be a few small grammar errors. I handed the pages, the original and mine, back to the assistant. I would have to wait a week or so before I knew how I did.

The results came back and I passed. I felt so proud of myself beyond words.

All of my slow progress fed into this one moment. What that experience did for me—even though I didn’t end up pursing an English degree—is that it provided the space for me to reflect on where and how I had learned to read Spanish. I took French and Spanish in high school, but I don’t recall doing well in either because I wasn’t interested in school at the time. There weren’t Spanish books in my childhood home and no one read to me in Spanish or showed me Spanish language books.

The only thing I could connect is that I had remembered what little I soaked in from my grandmother and I was able to recognize the written words by sound. As I read the words, I could hear them and it was then that I realized that though I couldn’t speak Spanish very well, and at times if someone speaks too fast in Spanish I can’t follow, I could actually read it. Of course my reading fluency is not where I’d like it to be. I have two books of fiction in Spanish that sit on my shelf. One day I hope to get through them.

Over the years, I’ve picked up a book here and there to learn more Spanish and to reinforce what I know. I took a class in Asian literature that was taught by a Chinese-Mexican-American professor. This class opened me up to further explore my second language and Mexican-ness. And since then, I’ve continued in small chunks.

Language is fascinating and it still fascinates me. I admire those that can learn several languages fluently or even one language really well. When it comes to certain tasks in life, I simply don’t have the patience unless I’m immersed—Immersion seems the best way to learn a foreign language.

At times I think and write in my Spanish, especially if I’m speaking to my grandmother in my mind; occasionally I will write a simple poem in Spanish and then translate it into English. My Spanish writing skills are limited for now, but I do feel as though I have another soul when I write in Spanish—I’m like a different expression of myself when I think and write in my grandmother’s tongue. I cherish that. That is my connection to the Spanish language, to my Mexican heritage, and it begins in my grandmother’s kitchen.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Few Bits

10-11-12

Today is a good numbers day. It’s a day of order: 10, 11, 12, and each of the two digit pairs becomes 1, 2, 3. These little things tickle me.

October has brought cooler weather, which I welcome. As I was preparing dinner yesterday, out of the corner of my eye I could see the sky changing to deep ruby. I walked over to the bedroom window and admired the view. The clouds looked full and gray. Later that evening, I smelled the first rain. It wasn’t much, but it was something. At last!

Something led me to dust off my astrology chart and take a look at it. I do tend to do this every few years, sometimes each year. I think I’ll be spending more time re-exploring astrology, going deeper. I have several books that I’ve used, cookbook style books, and some that deal with certain areas of astrology. I’ve also unloaded plenty and kept those that I thought would be most useful at the time.

The other night I dreamt of a space. It was dirt and kids were flattening out the dirt, as someone would do when they are getting the land ready for building. I was at the outskirts watching and behind me, as if it was the most natural thing were boxes built into the dirt of stones and crystals of all shapes and sizes. Mostly earth toned stones—deep reds, oranges, browns, and plum purple—and there was a section of boxes with white crystals—flat, diamond shaped, round—I picked one up and held it to the sun so that I could see rainbows.

On top of my many visits to the library, the last few days I’ve felt guilty because I’ve purchased a handful of books, real books and Kindle books. Today, I took myself to the metaphysical store and purchased two more astrology books and a tiger’s eye stone. I’ve long been a student of astrology—slowly and in spurts—and I’ve recently felt that I want to go back to the basics, to get reacquainted with all of the signs, as well as the planets, and to become more familiar with the twelve houses. I still struggle with aspects, but with a little more persistence, I’m sure it will fall into place.

Thinking about it…I think it was three days ago when I took my chart out and while I was reading from two books that I chose allowing myself to land where my intuition guided me, I was amazed how much I can still learn about myself each time I re-examine my chart. It leads me to see things that may make sense and that I couldn’t quite put a face to. I also had a report from many years ago that was prepared for me. I skimmed some of what it said. Even though I’ve spent time with my chart, have had it read by an astrologer on a few occasions, there is always something that opens my eyes and that’s just looking at my natal chart without looking at current transits and happenings. We are such cyclical creatures and astrology feeds into that. It’s wonderful that there are many different tools out there for our use toward self-reflection and self-discovery.

I was slightly disappointed with how workshop week has gone in the online short story writing class. We were placed into groups for workshop, which is fine. It turns out I’m in the group where only one other person has provided feedback on our stories. Apparently all the other groups have gone back and forth on feedback and have had a productive week.

There are four other group members in my group besides myself. The deadline has passed, so now we’re on to a new week. We have one more week of workshop where we’ll post our revised stories or a new story for critique. I prefer when we do the whole class postings. It seems classmates tend to respond to what interests them. I think what I miss is that with the whole class critiques, we have the opportunity of peeking in and seeing the scenes and feedback that others leave. This time, it’s like I’m in a void. There is nothing much happening for this week. Onto next week and looking forward to getting back to the whole class format.

Well, I’m off to read my new astrology books and hopefully I’ll also have time for the other books I’ve been dipping in and out of!

Una flor de luz



Una flor de luz
para mi abuelita
en el cielo
en este día.

**

A flower of light
for my grandmother
in heaven
on this day.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Evening Pages


Today was a good day. Work was productive. It felt as though people that I passed on the streets were in a good mood, and the office was in good cheer.

When I looked out the window this morning while I was getting ready to start the day, the clouds were a nice tone of deep gray. The cool air was a refreshing welcome to the past few hot days. Fifteen minutes later, the gray was breaking and white clouds were mingling with blue skies. Outside, walking to my car, I felt a lift in my step.

I have until tomorrow to put the finishing touches on my short story. I was glad that its rough beginnings were well received. A part of me though feels that I may have trapped my characters in their world. I feel on one hand glad that a few classmates were intrigued by the story; on the other hand, I don’t want to disappoint, but I may have to completely reshape the story because as it stands there are too many loose ends that don’t work together. It might turn out to be a very different story, possibly less interesting than my first free write.

Interestingly, the tarot card that I drew this morning turned out to provide inspiration for my story. I felt it this morning and was able to think it out in my mind on my way to work. I’ll have to see if I’m able to bring the insights to the story’s page.

Mostly, I’m happy it was a good day. 

 

Friday Thoughts


Have you been closed off in some way?

She stops. She doesn’t know the answer. It draws her completely blank.

She has settled for her job, appreciative that she has one, yet knowing that much of the time her energies feel drained, her creative juices curtailed. She clings to the cloth of appreciation, thankful to have a job, thankful to have flexibility and a little extra time. But is she fully utilizing that extra time? She has sought out meaningful activities that involve doing some good. Even with those, there is an expectation on her part of wanting to make a difference, yet knowing and learning that a part of making a difference in her chosen way is by just being there. Said out loud, it makes sense. Put into practice, the challenges rise, of not knowing how to gauge her usefulness. Not knowing…Being useful. That is what she wants most to be, but she wants to be useful in a meaningful way.

This is the answer to her question: Patience, perseverance, intention, trust.

A man shared with her that he had a friend from his college days that was successful. I don’t know how he defined success. I suspect it was in the traditional fashion but also I think the man followed his passion. The man that shared with her said he regretted not following a different route. He wished he had taken drama, writing—any liberal arts courses. He lacked focus, he said. Never really knew what he wanted to be when he grew up; instead, he followed a practical route. She told him he could still take those classes. She said that it would be better to at least get a taste before he has later regrets when it’s too late—too late to satisfy his passion and curiosity in some small way. That would be regretful.

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I have a feeling I will always work in a small office setting in some administrative capacity. I’ve often fantasized about what I would do if I won the lottery—say a million dollars. Would I change anything? I used to imagine giving money to my brother and uncle, a few charities, buy a house. I even wondered if I would quit my job given the chance. Hey, I won the lottery! Why not? My co-worker was a bit surprised when I actually had to think about it. For him, there was no question.

I have to admit that more recently when I’ve run this fantasy through my mind, I’m just as stuck as any normal day. I don’t know what I’d do, except maybe set aside money for a day when I may need to go into an assisted living facility. It’s a ways out there, but these are things I think about sometimes.

She found that it was time to draw a single card for the day from the Tarot deck. It had been a while. She fanned cards out on the table, closed her eyes…IV Trumps – The Emperor. A powerful card. (She uses the Aleister Crowley deck).

Whenever I post the card I choose for the day, I feel that the card is also for whomever may land here. I may have pulled it, but perhaps it also speaks to someone on someday.

A concise summary for the card from the Angeles Arrien Tarot Handbook to mull over is this:

The Emperor as an Outer Mirror

When you are drawn to the Emperor symbol or pull it from the deck, he represents the power of your owning and demonstrating your own leadership and paternal gifts. The Emperor indicates your ability to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and financially.

He represents your ability to be responsible for your life style, career, and personal life. Basically, it is a good time to move, travel, resolve fatherhood issues or issues with Aries or paternal people in your life, to start new ventures, and to be open to new opportunities. It is an important time to stay in your power and not abandon yourself in anyway, yet experience new opportunity.

**

~To transformation and new beginnings with purity of heart~

~Peace & Love to all~

Rebb

p.s. (The POV shifts couldn’t be helped. They felt natural and I kept them as the words decided to come out.)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Finger Painting ~ Small gift to my Mother

Yesterday I went to my bookshelves and selected The Nine Muses: A Mythological Path to Creativity by Angeles Arrien. I opened to a random page and landed on Erato: Muse of Love Poetry.
 
I love this quote that she has in the margin of the page to begin this section:
 
Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination
—Voltaire
 
Nature’s canvas is stenciled into my being, and if I could wander the hills everyday for hours and lose myself in Nature and my imagination, I would turn into a bumblebee or a butterfly. But I take every bit I can stuff into my imaginary pockets. The long slender pods that hang from trees that I don’t know the name of; the bees buzzing from flower to flower in search of nectar; the small cracks in the street where small lakes of grass have nestled themselves into the pavement. This isn’t just a regular linear crack. It’s a miniature square patch and it could easily be a pendant for a necklace. When the rains come, I know just where that particular crack is and I will be sure to walk to where it is near the gas station at the intersection. It’s not my usual path any longer, so I’ll have to make a special trip. And last night I heard the honk of the Canadian Geese. I don’t usually hear them at night. It was the most comforting sound, like a church bell that had caused me to take pause, to breathe, to smile, to feel at home.
 
I’ve had a desire to make an “artist’s date”—a paint date—with myself for several months now. I’ve wanted to take the acrylic paints out of their box, buy a new canvas, and paint away. I want to feel the brush in my hands, squeeze the paints out of their tubes, smell them, feel the textures from the brush to the canvas, and watch the colors interact. I want to become the paint.
 
When I was a little girl, I always wanted to play with my finger paints. Mother wouldn’t let me finger paint as often as I would have liked. I understand that it was probably a bother, the process of setting up the paper, watching that I didn’t make a mess and then she would have to help me clean up.
 
The combination of landing on Erato, thinking of painting, and my memory of finger painting as a child, this morning I was pulled to doodle a finger drawing using an App called Doodle Buddy. That’s the photo that you see here.
 
A small gift to my mother, filled with love, sent to her during the month of October, the anniversary month of her death.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I almost missed The Secret Garden


I shared previously about the book that Anita Silvey edited, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s book, and also shared a video of her discussing the book. Toward the end of the video, she shares a story from a conference that took place in Texas. An 11-year-old girl walked up to her and said, “The Secret Garden is my favorite book too.” Anita then asked the girl, “Well, what did you learn in it?” The girl replied, “I learned that no matter how broken you are or how difficult things seem, you can be healed some day and you can be made whole.” Anita said to the girl, “You really understand the message behind that book. It’s a very powerful message."

I related to those words. That exchange—the girl’s experience and what she gained from the story was enough to make me want to read the book—a book that I have long known about only by title, yet hadn’t entered the world that lay beyond. I started with a sample copy on my Kindle and after reaching the end of the sample, clicked the purchase button without hesitation.

When I began reading the story, I had no idea how or where it began or that young Mary Lennox was such a sour puss of a child because of her upbringing. From the beginning until the end, I was pasted to the pages. I loved being a part of the transformation that Mary and those around her went through. Great beauty developed within the garden and in the hearts and souls of the children. This is now a book that I can include amongst other treasured stories—a truly magical book.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Sunday in September

Readying to settle into a book,
First, I set my eyes on the canvas of the day.
I perch my chin in my hands and look—another glorious page
from Nature's sketch book, cross hatchings
fine as feathers across the page
forming into bursting rays of light that reach up to its source.

Three dragonflies hover,
suspending themselves on the length of the breeze;
they glide into the small force of gravity.

It's the ocean out there in that splendid sky of blue silk
and white linen wrapped in tinkling bells chiming in the warmest
of winds and the copper glint of light as it bounces
from the wings of the largest dragonfly. He gracefully
makes his way across this most wonderful and natural work of art.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Random Thoughts


It’s been a while since I’ve let my thoughts spill out onto the page. I’ve continued to write in my private journals and there have been days when I had much to say and then others where I feel as if I’m a small well that has damned itself up somehow. I know that I cannot live in the past. I can visit, but I can only push forward and live in the present.
 
Where was I…my thoughts…this morning my thoughts are knocking around inside some sort of cage, pulling at the bars shouting, “let me out.” If I don’t write this and post it to my blog(s) I won’t be able to get these little hindrances out of my system.
 
I forgot my secret pin number to my ATM card this past weekend. I had only just used it that morning or was it the night before? I walked up to the machine on a Saturday in the middle of an art festival. I put my card in and as I did so, I realized the numbers weren’t coming to me. It wasn’t a good feeling. I tried again. The card spit back out. I tried again and again. I put my hand to my head. How could I forget? The bank was open. I went in, explained and waited to reset my pin number. It felt awful to forget a number that I use almost daily. But this number meant nothing to me. The bank had assigned the number when I was issued a new card for a new account a year ago and I had never gone in to change it to something more memorable. I used that as the rational for how I could forget such an important number. On the other hand, I’m surprised I didn’t forget it sooner. It was a fuzzy day. A migraine was coming on and I was out of sorts.
 
A few weeks back I decided to discontinue my membership in the writer’s group that I had been attending. The group was supportive and I appreciated the feedback that I received, but for several reasons including time, I felt that I needed to move on. I’m glad I at least experienced what it was like. I come back to a quote that has stuck with me ever since I saw Jonathan Franzen speak. At the end of his talk, an audience member asked what he thought about writing critique groups. He said they can be good, but what stuck is when he said, “After enough practice, you can see your own work.” I do believe this.
 
I was scared stiff when I first started sharing myself by blogging a few years back. All of my writing up until that point was kept tight in my journals or written in essays for teachers. I noticed that as I got more comfortable sharing aspects of myself, it became a little less frightening to push the button to post my blog. I only recently started cross-posting to Wordpress. I’ve found some great children’s books blogs and have discovered a variety of other interesting blogs. I don’t have a whole lot of extra time to search around on Wordpress, so I’ve been appreciative to find other blogs through the process of blogging.
 
The short story writing class I am taking is fine. There are some interesting assignments. Part of me is trying to remember exactly why I signed up for the class. I know why, but really, why? I do try to practice coming back to “beginners mind” from time to time. In this class it’s difficult for me not to compare my experiences to another creative writing course I took so many years ago where we wrote several short stories using the whole story process.
 
What’s working for me in this class is that it’s digestible and the instructor is great. What’s not working for me is the focus on scene building, our assignments focus on a scene per week, except when we do a workshop with a full story. I am writing my scenes and the instructor helps us find ways that we can blow the scene up into story; however, I am noticing that I don’t necessarily want to blow all the scenes up and if I do, I want the story to happen organically without outside forces.
 
Since I know we are coming up on a workshop week where we will choose one of our scenes that we’ve written in the class and create the full story, I have one last chance to write a scene assignment before workshop. I am going to try to think of the full story ahead of time—in fact, I already have, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go with it. We’ll see.
 
In general, my mind is not working well with a scene-by-scene approach. It feels very piecemeal to me. And I’m not sure if it’s because I learned one way and am now learning another way or if I prefer starting with the whole—the meaning—and working from there.
 
I am starting to feel Ray Bradbury’s words more than ever and keep them close so that I can avoid the pitfall: “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity.”
 
It’s all a wonderful process. My middle name should have been process. I don’t actually have a middle name, but if I did have one—and this goes way back to high school—it would be Raye.
 
Rebbecca Raye Hill. That isn’t visually appealing, is it? Oh, well.
 
Rebb