education, music, nature, Vortex Music Magazine, writing

Moorea Masa: A Woman Is An Island | Vortex Music Magazine

From backing Ural Thomas and The Decemberists, the soul-folk singer strikes out on her own for the first time with a new EP of time-honored material. Photos by Tor Clausen

It’s a windy night as I climb the porch to a pale yellow house, the color of first daffodils in spring—a spring that’s come early to Portland. Moorea Masa greets me warmly and invites me into her kitchen for tea as she finishes cooking a meal for herself. A smallish cat named Hafiz, a nod to the Sufi mystic and poet, paces around, mewling for the food dish to be filled. In between bites and the wayward, headbutting affections of Hafiz, Masa tells me tales of her family, her musical travels, her new soul-folk EP, Oh Mother, and how a soul singer comes to be named after a beautiful, heart-shaped island in French Polynesia called Mo’ore’a, which means “yellow lizard” in Tahitian.

Masa’s Italian father and German-born mother both worked on a cruise ship in their youth. “My grandmother asked them, ‘Well, what was your favorite island?’” It was the one they met on—the island of Mo’ore’a—that became the name they gave their child.

READ the rest at the Source: Moorea Masa: A Woman Is An Island | Vortex Music Magazine

education, gardening, travel, weather, work & employment

moving on . . .

Yes. I know. It’s been since February . . .  but let me explain:

We’ve moved our home from Southwest to Northeast Portland
(from the South Burlingame to Irvington neighborhood).

I’d barely finished Winter term when Spring Semester was
already bursting through the ground (like those new black
and red tulips I left behind and the compost bin I had going.)
that would’ve come in handy for some fresh gardening.

And soon, I will be helping my boss to move our office . . .
Does the fun ever end?

i’ll tell you all the rest soon!

education, humor, love, marriage, psychology

lies, damned lies, and the “S” word

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“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts—
for support rather than for illumination.”
Andrew Lang

“Equations are the devil’s sentences.” — Stephen Colbert

“Like other occult techniques of divination,
the statistical method has a private jargon
deliberately contrived to obscure
its methods from nonpractitioners.

Ashley-Perry Statistical Axioms quotes

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hardtoeraseI hate statistics. I hate it so much I’ve re-named it “sadistics.” I hate it so much I’d rather blog about it than DO it for class. I loathe it so hard my husband had a good laugh at me. He came around the corner to find me with damp washcloth and spray bottle in hand, circling a kitchen table splayed out with books and erasers and graphing calculator and he cracked up. He noted that I was purposefully avoiding doing the homework by cleaning the kitchen chairs. That’s right, I’d rather wash wooden legs with Murphy’s oil and scrub food & dinner fart-laden seat upholstery than sit in front of numbers and formulas that after awhile, just start to look like an invasion of picnic ants marching across a description of Greek whoredom.

humor circa 1983 Todd Rungdren song
humor circa 1983 Todd Rungdren song

My eyes begin to gloss over, I let my cheek slump into my hand. Propped up on my elbow, I allow my mouth to go slack and open into a balloon-shaped maw, all in an effort to allow more oxygen to get into the situation. Anything to tease the possible formula i’m supposed to use out of the useless and impertinent question being asked in the longest series of lamest story problems of all time. On any standardized test. Ever. I could be in the same state if I drank 3 fingers of bourbon. And I’d be having way more fun.

I’ve begun creatively insulting the theorists and their theorems. Chebyshev’s theorem? Nope. Chubbynut’s Nonsense (it’s not my fault his first name is “Pafnuty”). No joke.  It would take a Russian mad man with a crater on the moon named after him to make me do this crap. In order to get a BS Psychology. Emphasis on the BS.

I want to stab myself in the boxplot with an ogive. That, of course, being a joke that perhaps only someone subjected to statistics would be able to understand.

Which leads me to the only fun thing I learned so far . . .

Because I HAD to know the word origin for the ogive curve, turns out Wikipedia has this to say:

“In statistics, an ogive is a graph showing the curve of a cumulative distribution function (which, for the normal distribution, resembles one side of an Arabesque or ogival arch.”

statisticsAn ogival or pointed arch is one of the defining characteristics of Gothic architecture.

Ogives are also used descriptively in ballistics or aerodynamics where an ogive is a pointed, curved surface mainly used to form the approximately streamlined nose of a bullet or other projectile as well as the complex ogives in missiles and aircraft.

Ogives are used in applied physical science, engineering, architecture, woodworking, geology, and yes – even statistics.

That concludes this episode of nerd notes . . . and now, you may have a better insight to my bad attempt at a stats joke, which is like, a monstrous exercise in futility. It does it all on its own. Writes itself, honey.

But what are the postitives? Will I be a better Poker player? I prefer Cranium. I get to act, solve puzzles and play with clay. Better able to understand and plot risk-analysis? I only do dangerous stuff to myself, not to others. (most of the time.) More equipped to look at those numerous, tiresome graphs, dots, squiggles, pointed notation marks and fluffy numbers and make perfect sense of psychological research. I. fucking. doubt it, son.

In fact, if it weren’t for Joe holding my hand through some of these problems and talking me through it (and away from mathematical ledges) I’m certain I wouldn’t be getting any of it at all.

Now let me make something clear . . . I don’t consider myself a dumb bunny. And to his credit, the teacher is excellent, clear, procedural, by the book and full of examples. Why my tiny squirrel brain can’t wrap my head around it all is well, probably mostly due to my obstinance. (SEE above paragraphs)

Then there’s the pretty graph making program called MiniTab (MinorStab) which I have to use in order to complete my Math Labs. I’ve decided I don’t want to trek out to school, find and pay for parking, hang out in a computer lab for an indefinite amount of time, be hungry, cranky and confused and have no means of escape, so I “rented” the program for 6 months for $30. Which is about all I’ll need to get through two semesters of it. And I can drink wine while I load data sets. Yeah. You got my number.

So—I’ll slog my way through it. I feel a low grade B fever coming on.


In the meantime here’s some fun stats from Graph Jam.com

Prince Stats

university education stats

education, food, friends, health, love, marriage, philosophy, photography, politics, work & employment

One Month Later . . .

This morning a text message came in from the East Coast at 5:45am, PST. It was Meg and i was glad to hear from her, but i was also incoherent and back to sleep in moments. Then Joe kissed me goodbye as he does every morning just before 8am and i look for this happily, then listen to his shoes, the cupboard opening, the retrieval of a travel coffee mug, the door locking behind him marking that i’m safe again and i drift off once more. Then my Google Calender texted me remotely at 9am to remind me to pay Geico car insurance. Greedy lizard bastard. And just when i was drifting off for what i had hoped was the third and final time, a symphony of slamming ensues, the garbage truck begins its Thursday morning rumble through the neighborhood and i am officially awake and staring out the window at a misty fog and as i am surfacing from a sleepy fog of my own, i realize – today marks one month since my surgery . . .

As far as my health goes, forgive my over-explanation, reiteration and just plain TMI-fication if you find it tiresome – but i need to do this, to document it so i can look back on it someday down the line and say to myself, “see, you were going to be fine all along.” Several months from now, i’ll be looking forward to NOT overly concerning myself with all transportation of items in and out of me.

Overall, i AM feeling much better, there are some days i feel awesome and a few days last week where i felt, not so awesome. A couple bouts of the loosey gooseys and a bit of late nite nausea plus vomiting once. Today i feel fine, and it’s mostly because i’ve been able to sleep and eat MORE for several days; both of those things are hard to do when you are anxious and nauseous. Rice and stirfry type food arrangements seem to make me most happy, so i guess i’ll just become Chinese.

i realize that i must give my body time to adjust. Since i no longer contain an organ receptacle for the biliary system, my liver’s all, “WTF mate?” and it just tosses bile down there willy-nilly. This sends acid production into overdrive and makes my stomach go wild, which is the cause of the queasies & uneasies. It’s hard enough out there with the peanut butter salmonella scare or my grocery cashier coughing, blowing her nose and touching all of my food as she scans it, or my friends & family assuming that a female my age just might be pregnant . . . so i  tried to separate all that out and got some advice from my doctor as well as friends who’ve gone through this, even if it was anecdotal.

p.s. the next person to attribute my nausea and poo spells to pregnancy gets their gallbladder removed by me. with a spork.

i am also aware that this adjustment is different in different bodies and can be 3-6 months or even a year before things settle down in there, and sadly, some of the symptoms end up being recurrent or chronic in a handful of people. in most other cases, it’s just learning the triggers during the culinary adventure and hoping i don’t have to deal with anything that affects my eating. most food is cool and i’m taking it in smaller meals more often (as i did before, really) it’s obvious and pretty much immediate when food is NOT cool – it’s a straight lever pull to the luge. Amazing really . . . i know potato chips are OUT, perhaps unless they’re baked and Progresso soup proved to be an inexplicably bad experiment. And yeah, i know, i’m a real lady and all, but it’s the humbling stupid human tricks that make us all equals . . . Nothing like being a grown woman and filling your pants. uggghhh, fantastic!

i have added a B-complex with Folic Acid, and have chewed 1-2 Citrucel chocolate/caramel fiber chews (what am i, 60?) this seems to help some with energy and digestion. And the caramel ones aren’t bad, though the chocolate ones taste like a lame-ass diet Tootsie Roll. i don’t want to do the carb/fiber overload and i’ll be damned if i have to mix up some orange bum Tang cocktail in the morning everyday and fuck with my tea ritual, you know? My digestive system is rewiring for sure in there, but seriously, to go from a wealth of crazy delicious cuisine & wine to the BRAT diet and water, tea & juice well . . . did i mention even a leeetle bit of alcohol tends to make me really drunk and also, suddenly nauseous. i have to wait on that a bit too . . . oh, how the mighty have fallen, huh?

My doctor sent me in for more bloodwork to check my liver and pancreatic functions. They got me in both arms, the vampires. It all came back normal, thank goodness. She put me on famotidine. Yup, Pepcid. A histamine H2-receptor antagonist that inhibits stomach acid production. The amber bottles with my name on them just keep lining up in the cabinet like matryoshkas, little nested Russian dolls. i am hoping to pull them and my ailments out from inside each other till i am left with the tiniest one and i can get all the way healthy without them. But i am happy to report, eating has been much more pleasurable since Pepcid, as well as the necessary by-product of eating. It’s calmed me down considerably.

i’ve been mostly convalescing with a smattering of social outings and i think that has been making me a bit batty. Now that the scar tissue isn’t feeling so taut, i am starting back into the swing of things exercise wise, and that includes some yoga. i am also looking into Mayan abdominal and Craniosacral massage to get things moving, to realign and to push the reset button on my nervous system, to let it know it’s all over now and it’s time to busy myself with feeling better. Primarily i need to de-stress and remove the toxins and pain my body has been holding & clenching to itself.

OmBasecute logo!

i did find a really nice local yoga studio that i’m gearing up to join full-time. it’s called OmBase Yoga. i’ve been to 4 classes so far this week and have enjoyed the instructors & release in all of them. My legs tremble as they try to support me, my arms quiver under my weight, i can feel the tightness in my hamstrings, shoulders and back moan a little when i call on them to move this way, then push them just a little further, but i am grateful to breathe, to get out of my head-chatter and break existence down to nothing but me and the space on my mat.

The studio is a warm, tall, open space with burnt caramel colored wooden floors and beams, a few orange and magenta colored arches, and a little womb-like fireplace with a fan on top, drawing the heat up out its potbelly to move about. It’s more well-manicured barn than dance studio, crystal singing bowls, lots of Zen-like décor, subtle incense no full-length wall mirrors.

ombase studiothe left side of the studio . . .

i am STILL unemployed and a bit discouraged, which doesn’t lend to the mood of productivity or getting out of my house mouse routine. But, i have a funny little gig lined up for freelance photo work, which is a minor story too. So – firstly, you know, i’m a big fan of socks. Knee-highs & up to be exact. and the more colorful, interesting, sexy, star-spangled, stripey, spidery and silly, the better. There’s this place i used to mail-order from called Sock Dreams when i lived on the east coast (free shipping!)  and it turns out it’s located here in Portland. Less that 2 miles from me.

So a few months back i wrote the website, offering my services of ANY type: shipping, storefront, website maintenance, photography, leg model, guinea pig, coffee, tea & bagel donkey . . . you get the idea. i was invited to take a tour of the place where i was introduced to the staff, the 3 resident dogs and her husband/muse who said he’d recognized me through pictures. She’d expressed that she’d love to hire me, but the crush of the Holiday Season, the current economy, possible downsizing already in January, etc. i left with the gentle offer to be kept in mind in the future, perhaps finding some way to edge me in.

This week they got a shipment of baby socks so i took several pairs to photograph on some friends’ one & two year old son and daughter as they “modeled” them. i will be paid in part cash and part socks, per our agreement. The bebe’s get to keep the socks and i may keep a few pairs to send to my friends on the East Coast as gifts, since everyone is busy having babies over there. Barter just works better for me these days than real livelihood. Aside from actual feet in socks, i did get a cute portrait of one of the models . . .

Whit under the table

Speaking of lively . . .

As for the Obamamania – i took Joe to work that morning on Inauguration Day, we tuned into NPR, listened to Obama fumble the oath, the quartet bit from John Williams (i joked that the Star Wars Theme would erupt and actually broke into humming the opening strains, which got us both laughing) then i was annoyed that the NPR commentator was golf hush talking over the performance like it was background music. i drove home and listened to the poet in my driveway, then watched the rest through the Luncheon on CNN until i decided that i also, needed some lunch.

Later i went online and caught the highlights of the ball, particularly the Beyonce rendition of “At Last” since i love Etta James. We went to our friend Adam’s house for a party where the guests were encouraged to write all over a 4-foot sketch of Bush taped to wall, including all the things about him we were glad to see GO (we did NOT however spare him the requisite Hitler stache or Devil horns or speech bubbles with Bushisms and his trademark snide, stuttering laugh). This poster was burned in a bonfire in the backyard later. On another wall, a sketch of the American flag hung with empty lines and a star field. With red marker, we filled in all the positive changes we anticipate by having a new administration.

Bush poster

And speaking of REAL change . . . how about the stem cell research approval for spinal injury, and the removal of the Mexico City Policy?!?! Not to stir the shit-pot or anything, but boy howdy, the Pro-Lifers got some tough bits stuck in their craws with those rulings. i don’t know – i just can’t see how you can argue with improved quality of life, healthcare and women’s education and options.

Which really seems to be my trifecta theme lately: healthcare, education and options . . .

Having gone through this has affected more than my body and eating, it has caused me to rethink many things, mainly – what it is i want to DO for work since my previous ventures have always involved the food and wine industries. i know i can’t eat as richly or drink as i once did, mostly because it’s against my constitution but also, i simply don’t want to and i want to simplify my eating. i want to attempt to eat even MORE healthy than before, if that’s possible.

Besides the change-up in my intake, i don’t want to work those late service industry hours anymore. i enjoy time with my husband in the evenings too much. This is a chance to reset everything, really. To see if i might want to go back to school in the Autumn if for nothing else but to finish a few undone things, to re-engage myself in the discipline, to meet people & make connections. To see if something else inspires me. To do something that helps people live better. To not be a server but to truly SERVE.

What will i miss about convalescing besides the sleep, and the forced respite & stillness? i did enjoy some parts of the step back, even if it was for the unfortunate cause of major abdominal surgery. For one, not having to put on a bra or clothes for that matter. Not that my routine was heavy or high-maintenance, but i will miss all the money and time i’ve saved on applying cosmetics and perfume. my skin never looked better! i liked not having to deal with the trappings of going out and presenting myself to the public.

But i will have to do all of that soon enough . . .

Last nite i could not get the idea of a sub sandwich out of my head, it was one of the last things i ate before i went in for surgery and i barely enjoyed it, i had been feeling so poorly. So Joe & i rolled into the local Subway where some quiet, older gentleman, excuse me – “sandwich artist” stood pawing at a box of plastic food-handlers gloves, clearly biding time and waiting for someone to come in.

After some pleasantries and questions initiated by me he reported, “we had a busy lunch but it’s been over an hour since someone came in.”

“My god, this poor man has been making sandwiches for over 9 hours on and off,” i imagined. And probably by himself.

i usually get the BMT but something told me to steer clear of salami and pepperoni, so i had him load up a 6″ wheat with turkey and ham, spinach instead of flavorless, nutritionless iceberg, tomato, extra cucumbers, green peppers, mayo, mustard, oil & vinegar, salt & pepper.

i took this home, unwrapped it at my desk and ate greedily. It was a simple thing, but i felt that sandwich move through and nourish me, diffusing and filling in empty places. It was almost as if i’d been a hollow shell and someone propped me up and filled me with warm foam that hit all the places, even my fingertips and toes. It was the first time i felt full, satisfied and comfortable since, well – awhile.

Of course, this was a relatively “healthy” version of what goes for “fast food” these days, but it was needed protein, needed fiber, needed greens and it was precisely what i was craving.

My body is just starting to talk to me again, and trust me, i’m listening.

drinking, education, food, friends, love, technology, travel

Happy to me . . . a birthday blog in brief

so . . .

here i am in beautiful San Diego, California with pinky-brown toasty shoulders and a soft band of freckles across my nose.

Joe and i are here primarily for the BIO 2008 Convention and i was able to have floor access through George Mason University . . . what a spectacle! It’s been four days of business card exchange, glad-handing, hob-knobbing, party-hopping and eating all on the dime of the biotech industry (photos and stories to follow when i get home!)

Tonite, we are going to a fancy pants dinner at Bertrand at Mister A’s. Over the next few days sights should include Balboa Park and of course, the San Diego Zoo. i love me some wild animals!

But mostly . . . this message is broadcast to thank everyone for the texts, emails, MySpace messages and phonecalls to wish me a Happy Birthday. it’s been such a warm and beautiful day, and i feel so loved and thought of, even from so far away and on the other coast.

i will be having some great food, fine wine, tropical drinks, and the requisite sprouts and avocado slices that accompany all California fare.

i plan on having my eyes take in more waves and feet touch more sand in the coming days . . . and you should see some Flickr images and a few stories by early next week.

see you all soon!

much love . . .

xoxo

education, family, friends, health, holidays, love, marriage, nature, philosophy, psychology

The Invitation – for Valentine’s Day

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Oriah Mountain Dreamer wrote the prose poem The Invitation after returning one night from a party where she had found herself frustrated by the level of superficiality that these events often function at: ‘I just sat down and wrote my responses to all the usual questions that people ask – Where do you live? Who do you know? What do you do for a living? And I wrote what I really wanted to know, not just from others, but also from myself in a sense.’

Every so often i revisit this poem to remind myself the qualities i value in a mate and the ways in which love and companionship can be measured and cherished.

This – especially, on Valentine’s Day . . .

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The Invitation
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

education, gardening, marriage, nature, photography

Smithsonian Sunday

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Yeah, it will be ok
Do nothing today
Give yourself a break
Let your imagination run away

~Sunday by Sia

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Cinnamon rolls are baking somewhere downstairs and the smell has roused me from sleep. the windows in my room are open, it’s 67 degrees, the birds are singing, Odin is sitting on my desk watching them flit by as i type this, and the sun pierces everything in my room, lighting up the coronas around the sunflowers in a vase nodding behind me. Anemone ‘De Caen’ are beginning to bloom as the purple crocus fade down and the yellow daffodils stand up. My Apeldoorn Elite Tulips are starting to shoot buds our from their curled, green rabbit ear leaves. i know all of this because i just wandered out in my cat pajamas, barefooted to see what is coming up out there in my garden. now i’m just waiting for that last frost to seriously be done and i’ll put the seeds in. sometimes it snows in April you know . . .

i move slow on Sundays, meditatively so. i am just now contemplating a shower after daylight savings time forced me to look like i woke up uber-late this morning at 11. there are so many silly little tasks to do . . . but first, i think i will go eat some breakfast and drink some tea and then come back to work on a few things. ALL of them involve my computer and various applications for managing money and photography, which is an interesting theme lately.

my forest is painted RED

i am thrilled to announce, (if i haven’t already told some of you) that i placed in Smithsonian Magazine’s 3rd Annual photo contest with my forest is painted RED. 7,500 photographs were submitted from around the world and 10 Finalists in each of the five categories were chosen: Americana, The Natural World, People, Altered Images, Travel and you can now view those photographs HERE. i am prominently featured in the Altered Images Category.

The Grand Prize Winner and the five Category Winners will be revealed in the August 2006 issue of Smithsonian so if i win in my category, i will go to print in the magazine and win $500 plus some other non-cash prizes. i don’t think i’ll win it, but check out what The Grand Prize is . . . no matter what happens, it’s good press as well as a great opportunity for me to be seen and all under the guise of an institution i truly respect. The Smithsonian Institution is “America’s national educational facility with 18 museums, 9 research centers and 120 affiliates around the world.” It was a gift from James Smithson, a British scientist who willed his estate “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge . . .” i encourage you to read the history.

These last few weeks have been crazy busy with work and little bits of photography. i went to a seminar hosted by Blue Pixel and Nature’s Best Photography which featured Daniel J. Cox, a well-renowned nature photographer featured in National Geographic.

He covered:

  • the issues involved in nature photography, from trip planning to capture to workflow, travel to distribution
  • tips for entering and winning nature photo contests
  • the importance of conservation and photojournalism
  • the differences between JPEG and Raw workflows and how to manage color and exposure in each one
  • how to make effective and accessible archives of your valuable digital negatives

His discussion began pretty pedantically really covering some of the more pedestrian aspects of photography (depth of field, focus, shutter speeds, light metering) that i assumed most would know there. But, his talk on natural conservation and his own photography, lifestyle and travel experiences were wonderful. Some of his knowledge of media types, storage, software, color management and technology were a little behind the curve, but he produces incredible work.

Saturday morning, i shot a very last minute wedding on The Black-Eyed Susan, a paddlewheel riverboat “custom designed for social, corporate, and private entertainment” docked in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. i was only available for the ceremony and a few formal shots. having NEVER met the bride or groom or wedding party, it made for quite a challenge. i don’t typically do these thrown together things . . .  i have a contract and a must-have photo checklist. i typically meet with the couple and the person paying for the photography to get a feel for what they want and what kind of people they are. i like to be prepared and comfortable in my surroundings. this was NOT the case for this event. in fact i found myself crawling over life preserver boxes and behind people, playing “crouching tiger hidden photographer” to get some decent shots.

it’s a real trick to NOT be obnoxious and all over the wedding party when the “stage” for the ceremony is as small as it was, and forget about room to take pictures of the processional and recessional people always forget they are being photographed and walk WAY TOO FAST! i haven’t had the time or the desire to go through the photos yet, but i am hoping i produced something of merit and charm, all things considered. All i know is the whole wedding party lined up on the back of the boat and waved to me on shore as i shot some final photos of them floating off into the harbor. But i wasn’t done . . . then i drove 45 minutes back to Annapolis and went to work at the restaurant and waited tables; a private party of 17 plus a few extra seatings and all in a second floor dining room. So up and down the damn stairs all nite with heavy trays of food and dishes. By the time Sunday arrived, you can now understand why i take them so slowly.

As for the rest of this Sunday . . . i took myself out to breakfast, did some shopping, bought a pair of gauchos and a skirt, took myself out for thai flavored dinner plus a beer. i got a fair amount of reading done at both meals with excerpts from Girl With Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace and Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. All the while amazed at how friendly and warm people are when the weather is pleasant, even the animals are in a good mood. i walked along past a group of men outside a local pub having some beers and hot wings and i turned to smile and wiggle my fingers, waving down at one of their dogs, a gorgeous white-faced Staffordshire Bull Terrier who in turn sat up, nudged me and licked my fingers gingerly as i walked past.

People seem to lose their damn minds when it’s sunny. on Main Street, a young man was sitting on the sill, legs dangling out his second story window singing to no one in particular and in fact, was making up songs for the passerby. later on West St., i was talking casually to my friend Paul when a truck drove past and a blonde-haired girl squawked into a CB radio as if campaigning, somehow broadcasting “HEY PAUL!” from the passenger seat. Paul responded by stopping mid-sentence, skipping out to the middle of the street, throwing his arms into the air with ROCK ON horns poised on each hand, yelling “WOOOO-HOOO!”

something about a sunny day, a Sunday and all its simple pleasures; sleeping in, familiar faces on walkabout, good food, good news, a good read, pretty things purchased, a nice stroll down streets lined with gardens newly in bloom, phonecalls and messages from dear friends, freshly washed bed linen to lay your head down later.

i understand why people go to church, why they don’t want to work, why they choose forced respite on Saturday or Sunday. as midnight approaches, bringing to close a full day lived and loved, greeted and embraced, photographed and written about, documented, cherished and learned from, i see the world as my church and the amazing places, people and things in it, all beautiful, meaningful and deserving of reverence in their own godlike ways.

education, family, nature, psychology, travel

Diamond Life

some days after my vacation (and still i would say . . .) adjusting to previous modes of reality was a dull and joyless task. i still find myself researching and reading about some of the creatures i saw and took pictures of while there. for instance, the smallest lizard in the world is a gecko indigenous to Virgin Gorda called Sphaerodactylus Parthenopion. i also took pictures of several birds i’d never seen before.

but then, i have returned to school, in Summer if you can believe i’m up for that kind of self-abuse. but it’s two classes, a Statistical Methods for Psychology and an Adulthood and Aging course. Numbers and growing old. Two things most people can barely manage and often, avoid. well, it was time i tackled the rough stuff. little by little, coming back to my life as i knew it, facets are moving in and out of focus: past, present and future creating and re-creating new visions for me.

on June 14th Zoey, a friend i’ve known for a few years is moving to Maryland where i am. i am busy making arrangements for her so the adjustment will be a comfortable one. it’s strange to think the man i met 7 years ago came to me via this glowing box. as she did. as many interesting friends and acquaintances have. as plane and concert tickets do. as books and music have. as bills do. as this place did. so much dependence on this magnetic, metallic, wire bound piece of furniture. so many words and images and impressions and memories tied up in it and yet – i missed it not while i was gone in the islands. her moving here is the end of an era in some ways. less chatting, more real time together. i wonder if she’ll miss getting my silly packages in the mail. distance is one thing – personality surrounded by flesh is quite another.

3 days ago i came across the cocoon of a Tiger Moth, i know this because the last shed of the caterpillar was still attached to the end of the pupa. i have it in a terrarium with a stick bent at an angle so that it may emerge, crawl up, hang upside down and from its body, pump fluid into its wings until they inflate, then i will let it go into the night. it will be born without mouth parts and all of its energy and food will have been stored up from all the eating it did as a fuzzy black caterpillar. its main impetus is to make more of itself, then in a week, perhaps two, to mate with many if it is male, and to lay eggs if it is female and then, to die.

late last night the cats chased mosquito hawks and beige moths around the nite lights in the kitchen. this morning the red-eyed cicada bloom howled and chirred in a deafening blur as i drove through the woods. this evening a dark field blanketed with fireflies winked like a billion stars, so many, it was a shimmering field of diamonds waiting to be found and gathered up. all of them looking for mates, all of them trying to be brighter than the next. early this new morning, a Luna Moth appeared, wheeling in dizzied circles toward the porch light, dashing itself into the pebbled driveway, flapping like a broken-winged bird in and out and under the ivy near the garden. ghostly, flailing but seemingly tireless. circles and circles and circles.

all of us waiting for a place to land, for our our body to break and our wings to push out, for our life to shine – or wink out at dawn.

education, friends, photography, travel

almost done, and then . . .

finals are almost wrapped up
and then, presents receive
the same treatment.

my friend at work completed a real estate course
and wants me to take her picture for her business card.

another co-worker wants a family portrait or 2 done
he has new twin sons, a lovely wife and a charming Irish accent.
plus a filthy sense of humor like mine.
then there’s my girlfriend’s wedding in June . . .

humans – this is a new domain for me.
should be an expanding adventure.

This year has been an exhausting one,
It was time i stopped buying silly and worthless “things”
stopped talking about it and and simply took the time out to travel.

January 7th, i am going to AZ for a week to visit Zoey
and stomp around some deserts
and then in April (26th) through May 4th
she’ll be back this way.

Brooks (my man) and i chartered a boat,
he got his license and it will be me, him,
his brother Jesse, our friends Dave&Amy
and Zoey going to the British Virgin Islands.
Tortola – Chocolate Island.
I cannot WAIT to take pictures.

i am looking forward to quite a bit.
and you will probably see me
in fits and starts
and starbursts.

books, education, food, humor

More Hollow than Sleepy

In elementary school, in case of fire you have to line up quietly
in a single file line from smallest to tallest.
What is the logic? Do tall people burn slower
?”

~ Washington Irving

I was a 9 year-old 4th grader in a California school. We were having a contest – a quiz game of sorts . . .

I was the only child in a tomb silent room to produce the answer to the question “Name the author who penned the character Ichabod Crane.”

I think it was the “penned” that threw them off. Having read plenty, and being comfortable with some archaic forms of proper English, i knew that at one time, writing truly meant pen and ink and so, the question meant to ask “who created him?” or “under whose pen did the character emerge?” Writing was a conjuring trick and so was remembering silly, but in this case important trivia. A prize was at stake after all.

“Washington Irving?” i half-asked or more, softly muttered.

“Who said that?” Mr. Hopkins asked.

I raised my hand and he smiled and handed me an envelope. “That’s right! Ichabod Crane from The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving.”

“Awww” and “Ohhhh” the room collectively cooed in a wash of jealousy for me having won and also for having not recalled the name themselves.

I opened my envelope and sighed. McDonald’s Gift Certificates. I disliked their food for the most part and i still do. I would’ve preferred a book voucher or money for the book mobile, but instead, I treated myself and a few friends to an assortment of sundaes.

Have you ever won a disappointing or embarassing prize?