Archive for June, 2008

The Gift

June 25, 2008

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

I always liked this saying and recently someone on the children’s writing email list I’m on, provided some background to this saying:

According to The Columbia World of Quotations, an article in the Catholic Digest (St. Paul, Minnesota, Oct. 1960) quoted Eleanor as saying this as a warning to wives of future presidents. So, a bit of trivia in today’s gift.

The Gift

June 21, 2008

“I don’t want to worry about what I look like…I’ve watched, my whole life, people age and become buffoons…When you crest in your thirties or forties and don’t pull out of the public eye, you become a caricature. You have to have grace, dignity and gratitude, and walk away kind of slowly, like you’re walking away from a bear.”

Jamie Lee Curtis, from the article “Jamie Lee Curtis Embraces the F-Word (No, Not That One), in the July/August 2008 issue of More magazine.

The Post – Backyard Animal Update: “It’s a Vicious Bunny!! Look at the Bones!!”

June 20, 2008

Well I started off yesterday to write about the animals I love watching in my yard and ended up down a totally different path. So today, backyard animal update, with a shade of Monty Python and the Holy Grail’s vicious bunny even!! At least to a squirrel.

My husband looked out the window the other morning and watched this scene unfold between a cute little brown bunny and a fairly young squirrel:

“The bunny came down the driveway and hopped over to the front bird feeder. While he poked around under the feeder looking for stray seeds, an fairly young squirrel came along. The squirrel stopped at the sight of the animal. It was clear the squirrel was confused by the rabbit. His facial expression was one of ‘what kind of a squirrel is that?’ The young squirrel hopped closer, stopped, and looked. Still confused he moved closer and closer, always stopping to stare at the strange squirrel under the feeder. Finally the squirrel was almost next to the rabbit.

The rabbit, meanwhile, observed the approaching squirrel, none too pleased. The rabbit inched away, then inched away, then glared at the squirrel as if to say ‘Dude. You’re in my space.’

The squirrel, still confused, inched toward the rabbit one last time. The vicious bunny suddenly leaped into the air, landing square on the squirrel and stomping him flat. Then the cute little bunny leaped back and resumed eating seeds as if nothing had happened. The young squirrel, slightly dazed, staggered back and resumed eating seeds a few feet away this time.”

So while these two usually furry, snuggly supposedly unvicious creatures duked it out in the front yard, the backyard had the two brutes best avoided, snapping turtles, sound asleep on logs in the pond. These guys can have a shell up to 20 inches in size and average about 40 lbs. though some can go up to 75 lbs. They have thick necks and a large hooked mouth with jaws that can crush:

“The snapping turtle is an exceedingly voracious brute, and is not particular as to its dinner. Young waterfowl are stalked from beneath the surface, seized by a dart of the jaws and pulled below to drown and be quickly torn to pieces. The turtle is carnivorous. It never feeds unless underwater, but it will sometimes seize prey on the bank of a stream and then retreat to the water to dine.” (From the entry on snapping turtles on the website Critter Zone; great pictures too)

Yet…these two brutes are sound asleep almost side by side, while the bunny brute in the front yard tromps the defenseless juvenile squirrel….

Standing on the front porch waiting for my son to let me in the house (forgot those house keys!), I turned toward the small House Wren feeder hanging on one of the porch posts and thought I saw something in it. I though it was an abundance of nest material some bird had stuffed in there and abandoned, and was about to reach for it to take it down to clean it, when I noticed the nest material looked like a bird head. My son confirmed my thoughts and after we went inside, we saw the “pile of nest material” move. So we have house wrens nesting on the front porch…or at least in a nest box. House wrens have been known to create a few “false nests” so you can’t find their actual nest….but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the “for real one” as I don’t think the mom stays in the “fake nests.”

The 9 goslings are as big as ducks now, but still make the child-like squeak sounds. I was sitting on the patio last night and they, knowing me as the “Corn God” as I sometimes will put out a cup or two of corn for them in the back ground feeder, quietly gathered around me as I read on the patio. Even the babies came up to me and just stood there, making their baby chirps, staring at me like “where’s the food???”

Inside the house, Admiral Byrd decided to try hanging out on top of the water filter. He finally got up there. Usually it’s the domain of the ladies when they’re pregnant. Since I doubt that’s his issue, and since they were hiding in caves, not sure why he was up there. I have some pictures of him up there I’ll share in a day or two.

And yesterday, Admiral Byrd and one of the ladies was keeping company in his bachelor pad. So….all kinds of goings on in the animal kingdoms inside and outside of our house.

The Gift – Menopause…Yes, You Heard Me.Gift

June 19, 2008

Yes, you heard me…menopause….midlife as a gift. Stop rolling your eyes. It’s the truth.

Some exceprts from a Time magazine article I liked in the May 16, 2005 issue: “Midlife Crisis? Bring It On! How women of this generation are seizing that stressful, pivotal moment in their lives to reinvent themselves,” by Nancy Gibbs:

“…the very word crisis, while suitably dramatic, seems somehow wrong for this generation’s experience. Unlike their mothers…this cohort of women is creating a new model for what midlife might look like….Women get to wrestle their hormones through a Change of Life; but however disruptive menopause may be for some women, the changes that matter most are often more psychic and spiritual than physical…They may first turn inward, ask the cosmic questions or retrieve some passion they set aside to make room for a career and family. Take a trip. Write a novel. Go back to school. Learn to kiteboard. But then, having done something to help themselves, they have a powerful urge to help others. Best of all is when they can do both at once…When women find a key to solving their own midlife mysteries, they often want nothing more than to help other women do the same.

The psychoanalyst Carl Jung explained how in middle age people tend to drop the roles they were playing, outgrow their pretenses. Some women become more willing to take risks as they grow less concerned about what others think.

….We come to the place where we say, ‘It’s my turn.’ If women get there, they get there with fervor.”

The Post – Luckless Pigs, The Clifton Cow, and the “Gray Zone” of Compassion

June 19, 2008

I am a softie when it comes to animals. I love everything that comes through my backyard. I have a nature journal with 3 years worth of entries of the comings and goings of geese, ducks, babies, rabbits, snakes, baby racoons…if it came through my yard and I saw it, it’s in my journal, along with stick figure drawings, pond maps, and occasional photographs.

I collect news articles about animals. Even my husband, a computer person who never prints anything, prints out any news story he sees about animals and gives them to me because he knows I love them. (the articles and the animals 🙂 ) So suffice it to say, I love animals.

But…maybe not roaches. Or bugs. I honor their right to live in peace…I just don’t want them near me….. So, maybe when I say I love animals, maybe it’s not as perfect a love as I initially said? I try, but like any human endeavor, even though I say I love animals, and I do, there are no “absolutes.” You can say “I love “X” wholeheartedly” And maybe in that moment you feel that, a momentary seeping out of the eternal love in our souls. Yet sometimes the actual execution of that love falls way short of what we aspire to in our heart. Like me with bugs.

Life is full of grays. We try to soar to mountaintops, sometimes we can’t even make it past anthills. Still, I don’t think it’s wrong to “aspire” to mountaintops and even when we can’t make it all the way there, it can be a gift to someone to say “I wish to give you this, even if I can’t.” The reality of human existence is, we aspire to heaven, but we live on earth, so gray is where we end up. It still doesn’t make reaching for heaven wrong. And it still doesn’t invalidate that compassion and love are there.

So when I saw the CNN Headline this morning: “Luck runs out for pigs caught in flood,” I sensed there was another one of those gray moments. Apparently about a dozen pigs caught in the flooding in Iowa, “who escaped their flooded farm, swam through raging floodwaters and scrambled atop a sandbag levee in southeastern Iowa” were then shot by Des Moines County sheriff’s officials.

At first there is the awful pain you feel at what seems a cruel fate. And I imagine everyone who read that had an initial moment of outrage and “why did they have to shoot them?”

Even the local officials felt compelled to explain that the animals hoofs were puncturing the plastic sand-filled bags that made up the levee. They noted you can’t have that happening because it destroys the levees and puts thousands of people at risk. They went on to note that they consulted veterinarians and other state agencies in deciding what to do, and also stated that “out of about 36,000 pigs in the Oakville area, officials estimated that only a thousand or so were left behind when the floodwaters came through. ‘We trucked them as far as 200 miles away to other hog farms so that they would be taken care of.'”

I noted many things in their words – the biggest of which was compassion. They went to great lengths to save as many animals as possible. They went to great lengths to consult experts to find the best answer. Of course they wanted to avert animal right’s activists from condemning them, but there was tremendous concern showed too. They were caught between a rock and a hard place. These were not heartless people just killing off helpless animals for fun, these were men and women who really cared…about the animals, about the people they are sworn to protect. They were caught in a situation that had no good choices and sometimes, the best answer falls far short of what you want to do.

I suspect everyone was upset. Of course these animals are killed in a slaughterhouse everyday. Nobody argues that. I eat pork chops and chicken and steak. I think the reason people felt upset in this case, including the sheriffs is because these pigs demonstrated something we could identify with – These animals showed spunk, spirit…they SURVIVED. And in the face of such a heroic effort, your first inclination is to save them, honor them. Not shoot them. Again, that’s the eternal love coming through. If it were roaches and they showed that kind of spirit, I’d want to let them live. You just have to respect such an effort in the face of such vulnerability. And I think that’s the human heart feeling that connection with another living being, and wanting to help. I think it’s wired into us, it’s in our deepest natures, to want to be kind. I’ve heard it said that everyone loves something. I read an article recently that said the Mafia doesn’t do ‘hits’ on Mother’s Day because mothers are sacred and apparently, even Mafia hit men love everyone’s mothers enough not to kill their sons until the next day. Bizarre yes, but still, everyone loves something…..we may choose to follow a negative path in life. We may choose to deny the goodness within us. It doesn’t mean it isn’t there and it does seep out even when we think it’s not there.

In 2002 there was a runaway cow in Cincinnati, escaped from the slaughterhouse. Here’s how everyone reacted:

“Runaway cow a folk hero

By Barry M. Horstman, Post staff reporter

For days, it’s been perhaps the most mooooo-ving story in Cincinnati.

In a week filled with major news – the execution of a Cincinnatian for the first time in nearly a half century, black entertainers’ boycott of the city and the countless feel-good stories of the Olympics – tri-staters are preoccupied, of all things, with a missing cow.

No bull.

Since escaping from a local slaughterhouse by jumping a 6-foot fence at Ken Meyer Meats in Camp Washington Feb. 15, the 1,200-pound cow has become daily fodder for radio talk shows, TV newscasts and office chatter.

Curious onlookers peer toward a heavily wooded area in Clifton where an escaped cow is believed to be hiding. (MELVIN GRIER/The Post)

Dubbed Moosama Bin Laden by one DJ, the cow has evaded police and officials from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals while crossing Central Parkway and entering Mount Storm Park in Clifton, where it was last spotted by one TV station’s helicopter ”Cow Cam.”

”The problem is, this is a free-range cow that isn’t going to come to any human,” said SPCA general manager Harold Dates. ”And when you weigh 1,200 pounds, you can pretty much go anywhere you want to go.”

At City Hall and from coast to coast, where CNN and other news outlets have chronicled the four-hooved fugitive’s run for freedom, the cow’s fame grows daily.

If and when the runaway 7-year-old cow is captured, Mayor Charlie Luken plans to give it the key to the city. In the meantime, WLW-AM talk-show host Bill Cunningham, never shy about doing anything to beef up ratings, will continue referring to it as Charlene Mooken, while his counterparts have settled on nicknames ranging from Heidi to Bessie.

Everyone from Marge Schott to Fifth Third Bank has offered to do whatever it takes to prevent the cow from ending up on a hamburger bun, the latter by offering the cow a starring role in its next ”Holy Cow” home-equity loan ad campaign.

Similarly, Chick-Fil-A, a fast-food restaurant that features a cow in ads urging people to steer clear of red meat, is offering 100 free chicken sandwiches to whoever catches the cow.

Frustrated in their repeated attempts to lure the light-colored Charolais out of Mount Storm Park’s thick underbrush, officials Thursday devised a new strategy: using three other cows as bovine bait to draw the cow into a corraled area.

Today, officials – professing no fear that the scheme could backfire and leave four cows on the loose – plan to truck in the new cows and place them in an area contained within about 30 10-foot temporary fence sections. Water and food also will be set out to make it look like there’s a big cow party going on inside.

If the cow falls for the trap, officials will swing the gate on a happy ending to the saga. If not, they’ll move on to Plan B: trying to bring her down with a tranquilizer dart, a far less attractive option that requires carefully hauling a 1,200-pound animal out of a hilly, brush-covered site.

Until the cow is captured, police plan to close Mount Storm Park to the public. In recent days, the cow has been spooked not only by the joggers and dog-walkers who routinely use the park, but by dozens of gawkers who have come to watch the man – er, cowhunt.

The major concern of Cincinnati police, said Lt. Kurt Byrd, is preventing the cow from wandering onto nearby Interstate 75. ”If a 2,000-pound car runs into a (1,200)-pound cow, it might be pretty ugly,” Byrd said.

Assuming the cow is safely recovered, it will have earned a permanent reprieve from the grim fate that awaited it last week at Meyer Meats.

”There’s no doubt this cow will be living the rest of its life in the most comfortable situation that can be provided,” said the SPCA’s Dates.

Whether that is on Mrs. Schott’s estate or some other farm remains to be determined. Regardless, it’s an udderly satisfying way to wrap up the story.

As Byrd pointed out, contrasted with the decidedly unpleasant local, national and international stories that have dominated the past year, the missing cow tale comes off as a welcome respite for Greater Cincinnatians weary of bad news. ”If this is our major news story,” he said, ”it speaks pretty well for Cincinnati.”

Publication date: 02-22-02″

The mayor wants to give the cow a key to the city. Chick-Filet was giving away chicken sandwiches. A loan company wants to use the cow in a commercial, and even Marge Schott, the contentious, controversial former owner of the Cincinnati Reds offered it a home on her farm. And Marge Schott’s personality was well characterized by someone’s comment that they weren’t sure what was worse: to be killed at the slaughterhouse, or to have to live with Marge Schott.

So why is it that an animal who 24 hours later would be transformed into something for a weekend cookout, caused such an outpouring of support? Why does everyone want to save THIS cow and not the others? Or that Chick-Filet will give away free CHICKEN sandwiches, and somebody had to kill the chickens, to the person who saves the runaway cow that was supposed to be a beef sandwich?

I think it’s that moment of recognition that something we usually view as food, can have spirit…a dignity, just like us. It’s a heroic fight by an underdog. We ourselves are often life’s underdogs. So when we see something fighting back against their fate, we want to save it. The momentary shut down of the rational left brain which gives way to the expansiveness of the heart and soul calling for us to love unconditionally, even to love an escapee bovine. I guess there is that place deep inside of all of us that loves in spite of us. It’s that well of compassion that sometimes surprises us, and shows up at odd and usually illogical times.

I feel compassion not just for the pigs, but for the sheriffs and the people in the flood in Iowa. So many have their lives and homes disrupted or destroyed. Heroic pigs were killed. And good men and women had to do it, because they were caught in the imperfect situation of life, where you sometimes have to do painful things when you’d rather soar to heaven, because the only choice life gave you is between bad and worse.

My wish for all in Iowa is for a quick recovery from floods….and peace of heart. I’m sure the pigs are in a place where they understand and are even better off now.

To the rest of us, I wish peace in those moments where you want to offer another the world, and your reality comes up short. Welcome to gray. It’s okay. Heaven is still there in your heart.

Remember, it’s the intention that matters…that moment of one’s heart full of love….not the execution of the wish. It’s no less of a gift to say “I would give everything in my heart if I could, even as I know I can’t.” Or to slightly alter a line from Yeat’s poem, (He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven): “but I being mortal, have only my dreams.” Dreams can be nice gifts too.

By the way…the outcome on the runaway cow? She was saved. At artist Tom Lohre’s website where I got the above story, there’s a whole series of stories about this, along with video and a picture of the rescued cow, who was renamed “Cinci Freedom.” Tom, who usually paints important national events like shuttle launches and Mount Saint Helens, did a painting of the “Clifton Cow.” Cinci now resides on the Farm Sanctuary Shelter in Watkins Glen New York. To visit Tom’s website, click here.

The Post – Jamie Lee Curtis: Am I Just a Body? Why Am I Here?

June 18, 2008

I mentioned in an earlier post that I am not much of a clothes person, just neither my interest, nor my strength. Mind you, I admire people who make wardrobe an artistic expression of themselves. It’s their talent and I acknowledge and admire it. I do better with paints on a canvas. To each his own. No competition required. Instead, more often now, I just laugh at my foibles here.

Where I can walk into a bookstore and immediately process hundreds of topics and book locations and see order and clarity when hunting what I want, I walk into a clothing store and see chaos and confusion. And we won’t even discuss that I’m no longer 20 so many of the styles I wouldn’t be caught dead in, and I wouldn’t look right in anyway. Over the years I learned to figure out the things I like to wear and how to find them, and shopping online allowed order and quiet.

But even if you take all that out of the equation, the simple fact remains…I am at heart a simple person. Intricate complicated wardrobes are just not me. Even more, I am married to a man who could not care less about my wardrobe, and enjoys and I think, even prefers me in simple attire, relaxed, happy, and focused on enjoying each other.

I have to laugh to remember this, but I am a person who spent 8 years in Catholic grammar school wearing uniforms…and LOVED it. I never admitted it to any of the other girls who always griped about these horrible uniforms and why couldn’t they wear their nice clothes. I was secretly relieved. Uniforms leveled the playing field – it took wardrobe out of the picture. People were more able to react to each other as persons because the artificial concept of what you had on, was removed from the equation. So whether you couldn’t pick out nice clothes, or didn’t have the money for them or preferred T-shirt and jeans….none of it mattered. And I liked it that way. And it was less complicated for a non-morning person. You got up and every day you knew what you were wearing. No struggle to figure out what in God’s name to put on.

Even later in life, after I’d learned to do the high heels and makeup and dresses and got fairly comfortable with it, and was slim enough to wear what I wanted….I was still secretly relieved to work in a hospital for 15 years wearing uniforms because again, no questions of what to wear. Sure I had to decide “dress today? skirt and top? slacks?” But still, uniforms limit the confusing options. And deep down inside, that simple child still would rather be in T-shirts and jeans.

That child was the one who wanted to get home from school, throw on whatever and run out to play. Play – biking, baseball, climbing trees and fences, playing in the dirt, imagining through my play that I was on all kinds of adventures – that was the goal. I wore clothes because you had to.

I always loved that in the Nancy Drew books, her clothes were given one sentence: “Nancy went home and packed for her sleuthing trip, then headed for the airport” and the rest of the 130 or so pages were about finding hidden doors, crawling down dirt tunnels, chasing bad guys down deserted roads, and escaping from being tied up in a basement. I would love to be as dressed up as Nancy Drew (not to mention have her lean frame these days), but only have to devote one sentence to it: Deb went shopping and picked out some clothes that looked nice on her, then went to the bookstore. 🙂

Now in menopause, I find I’ve come back full circle to that child who just wants to play and doesn’t care whether society approves of what I put on. In fact, as I get older, the more I feel society demanding something of me in any area of life, the more inclined I am to tell society to take a flying leap off a short pier. And some things on my body hurt more now – high heels I always looked good in but they kill my toes, heels, and arches, and I’m in pain for days afterward. These days, my biggest priority is not to turn heads as I walk in a room…I prefer to not even be noticed, after all, I’m a writer…writer’s like to be anonymous observers of life….my biggest priority is not to turn my ankle walking in shoes too narrow for my wide foot, or feel abdominal pain because the waistband on my slacks is causing my insides to hurt. I did crab at the man in the shoestore one day about why don’t they carry heels in wide sizes. I said, “don’t you think people with wide feet like to wear nice-looking shoes?” He just shrugged. Not really his problem. I was just frustrated. These days I spend most of my time in very expensive running shoes which make my feet feel good. So much for wide heels. The bottom line is, my biggest priority these days is comfort and doing what I was sent here for in the first place before time runs out.

I wear clothes because I have to…they arrest you if you don’t 🙂 . And yes, I am a grown-up, sometimes you have to and should dress up…so I can, and I do. And by the way, for anyone out there who loves clothes and it’s your talent in life….that’s wonderful. Indulge and revel in it. It’s your strength, celebrate it. But it’s not mine and I’ve finally reached a place in life where…I am okay with that. I really understand that for me, it doesn’t matter. My body just wants to return to the simple….to the child. And by that I mean “child-like” not childish. Child-like is the ability to retain the knowledge gained in life and have depth, but to keep the open “beginner’s mind and awe” of a child. You drop the weight of answering to society for the reward of discovering joy in everything out there in the world….even just a bunny rabbit at the back yard feeder. Child-like is what Jesus was talking about when He said you had to become like little children to enter heaven. He wasn’t advocating we all start acting like two-year-olds and throwing tantrums, He simply meant, let go of all that is unnecessary and instead, view the world and life again, using the wonder-filled eyes of a child seeing things for the first time. And maybe He knew that at least by menopause, heaven is not forcing wide feet into tiny high heels, which is hell. 🙂

As an aside about dressing up, I have found simple can be elegant – I always admired the actress Stephanie Powers. Very glamorous Hollywood type. Yet, she seemed as at home in Khakis on the African plains with her friend William Holden, as she did in evening gowns at a Hollywood premiere. When she dressed up, she wore simple, classic styles and avoided “trendy.” She chose classic and it worked. So when I do dress up, I look for that ….even though I don’t have her budget. 🙂

So, it was with all this mulling through my head that I came across the May/June 2008 issue of AARP and saw the interview with Jamie Lee Curtis. I have always enjoyed Jamie Lee Curtis in movies, especially the funny ones, such as A Fish Called Wanda or True Lies. It’s not that her other works are bad, just I like her ability as an actress to poke fun at herself. I suspect that’s part of the real her showing.

For whatever reason, someone discovered a few years ago that she is an interesting and intelligent interviewee. In addition to this current article, I have these two others about her – one from 2006, another from 2007. In each I kept underlining and circling things, and finally just tore them out and kept them. They are sort of a progression of installments as she navigates midlife, and the bits of wisdom she’s learned along the way.

In reading each, I found a person I’d enjoy having tea with, many of the same struggles, foibles, questions and insights. And grounded, down-to-earth. No pretense. No BS…even when talking about her flaws….especially when talking about her flaws. From the 2006 article in More magazine she said: “How can I sell a book about self esteem if I’m not willing to acknowledge that I too have self-esteem issues?”

She is on a quest to get real and the evolution over those articles shows. She ditched the golden brown hair and is now silver. In 2004 she did an article with More magazine that included a picture of her – no makeup, unflattering spandex…midriff bulging – her point: A way to make amends for making many women feel less than they were when she was doing movies with a Barbie-thin frame. She wasn’t advocating going after obesity, but rather the point that she does pilates and yoga, exercises, and eats carefully and yet “This is what I look like….I’ve had to accept that part of me.” She even named her midriff “Midge.”

Progressing through the 2007 Ladies Home Journal article and the 2008 AARP article, she continues her quest for real. She speaks of overcoming alcoholism and drug addiction, being a better mom, wife, and human being, and confronting such questions as: “Did I learn to live wisely? Did I love well? Why am I here? Am I nothing but a body?”

In this latest article, she continues the journey and among other things, talks about aging, clothes and paring down: “Getting older means paring yourself down to an essential version of yourself.” She turns 50 November 22nd and sees herself peeling away the layers more and more and notes that “I have not one second of anxiety about turning 50.”

Frankly, neither did I when I turned 50. In fact I found it liberating to be out of my 40s. Something about reaching a milestone and for whatever inexplicable reason, I felt like I could start to let some things go, shed them, be me again and take back that freedom that comes with getting older and knowing you aren’t 30 anymore, you don’t want to be 30 anymore, you’re better than you were at 30 in so many ways, and you’re actually happy to do what you please and make a fool of yourself and the hell with what people say.

Jamie Lee Curtis mirrored my thoughts. She went on to say that “My style is a distillation …I’ve let my hair go gray. I wear only black and white. Every year I buy three or four black dresses that I just keep in rotation. I own one pair of blue jeans. I’ve given away all my jewelry, because I don’t wear it.” She wants to “jettison what no longer serves her.” She noted that she recently got rid of a pair of black boots and no longer wears high heels…. “Too uncomfortable. Don’t need ’em. Gone.” In evolving this way, she becomes new again.

Her first insight into this new simpler approach came years ago when she and her husband attended the Golden Globes. She described herself as “wearing some borrowed dress that wasn’t me, my hair was done in a way that I never wear my hair, and I had earrings on. And my husband said, “You know who is the most beautiful woman in the room?” And I was hoping he would say me. And he pointed across the room at Jessica Tandy. She was sitting at a table wearing a cream-colored silk-shantung pantsuit. Single strand of pearls, short white hair, a little lipstick-nothing else. And I thought, ‘He’s totally right.’ There was none of the pretense, none of the trying so hard.”

She talks about being older and seems to like it, thinking “there’s an incredible amount of self knowledge that comes with getting older. I feel way better now than I did when I was 20…stronger…smarter in every way….less crazy…..” She added that “as we get older, we say goodbye to a lot of people….and discover our capacity to love and communicate and have intimacy–real intimacy, not the superficial intimacy we had in our youth. Strip away all the bulls—; be done with that.” Her goal now is to “jettison what no longer serves her” and she aspires to “essential being. Nothing extraneous.”

In a 2002 article she said that she hoped to someday feel sure enough of herself to “look like just me” and say to magazine editors “This is what I wear, this is how I wear my hair…;I’m going to look the way God intended me to look.” She admits that she’s not a spiritually perfect person. “I’m flawed and contradictory and fraught in many areas. But I’m better. I’m growing, and that’s all I really want.”

I raise my cup of tea to her. She said so many things that I’ve felt and wondered if I was the only one. I embraced her thoughts about “shedding” and “being essential only” and know exactly what she meant about coming to an age where you suddenly realize the amount of power you have inside you to love and to communicate and to want, demand, and give REAL intimacy — soul connection…not that kind from my 20s that left you feeling scared, competitive, inadequate.

So now I will go upstairs to change from my comfortable sweats, and put on my shorts and T-shirt to work through my day, doing work I feel I am being called to do….work that draws on every last experience, failure, mistake, despair, wonder, and love I have internalized over the last 52 and 1/2 years. Later this year, also in November, like Curtis (guess we’re both Scorpios?), I will turn 53, and I will revel in that and take more of my own power back from society.

And I know the questions she asks, and I ask them of myself almost everyday –  Why am I here? Did I learn to live wisely? Did I love well? Good questions.

The Gift

June 18, 2008

“We make a living from what we get; we make a life by what we give.”

Winston Churchill

The Gift

June 17, 2008

“Gingko:

In the wake of the atom bomb dropped in 1945 on Hiroshima in Japan, every living thing around the epicentre of the blast was destroyed. An exception was provided by four remarkable ginkgo trees that survived, and which by the following spring had even started to blossom again. The closest, at Hosen-Ji, was only 0.7 miles (1,130m) from the epicentre of the explosion. All four trees are still thriving today. Ever since, in Japan the ginkgo has been regarded as the “bearer of hope.” Today there are plaques near some of these trees bearing prayers for world peace.”

Symbolism: Primeval life – force

Divine Association – Oneness”

From the book: The Meaning of Trees: Botany, History, Healing, Lore by Fred Hagenneder

The Post – Faith is Believing in Something When Common Sense Tells You Not To

June 17, 2008

Something about summer’s heat always makes me stop and think about Christmas and all it stands for. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just that at June, we’re half a year’s away from those times of generosity and remembering Jesus’s birth, and all that He stood for.

Whenever I think of Christmas, there are certain rituals I remember and savor. One of them is watching my absolute favorite movie for Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, the 1947 version, in my opinion, the only true …and magical version. Yes, it’s another one of those simplistic happy movies, like It’s a Wonderful Life, or Come to the Stable, movies with uncomplicated people who just know what the season and its “intangible” gifts are all about…and yes, I love the movie. Apparently so did the cast.

In an interview with Maureen O’Hara several years ago she mentioned how she was vacationing in Ireland when she was told to return to make this movie. She was angry and didn’t want to do it. Yet when she read the script she changed her mind. In another interview, she commented that there was something that happened during the making of this movie that made them all feel happy and at peace. After a while, they all started believing Edmund Gwynne [the actor playing Kris Kringle] really was Santa Claus. She noted that the energy on the set was positive, almost magical. I know, watching the movie, that’s how I feel.

I found a site called Script-O-Rama that has scripts of many movies, Miracle on 34th Street, included. While a few errors here and there (that I corrected below from my own copy of the movie), the web author does have a pretty good copy of the movie’s script.

I included a couple excerpts from the movie’s script, including the pivotal scene that to me, sums up the movie’s message succinctly – that faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to, and that ultimately, the intangibles in life, such as love and joy, are the only things that ARE worthwhile.

So for your reading pleasure, a summertime glimpse at Miracle on 34th Street!

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In the courtroom, attorney, Fred Gailey [John Payne], sets everyone abuzz when he states at the beginning of the trial:

I intend to prove that Mr. Kringle is Santa Claus.

The next scene puts him at the apartment of the woman he’s been dating, Doris [Maureen O’Hara]. She is the very effective, logical, and all-business executive at Macy’s Department Store and doesn’t share Gailey’s enthusiasm for this idealistic quest:

DORIS: But you can’t possibly prove that he’s Santa Claus.

GAILEY: Why not? You saw Macy and Gimbel shaking hands. [Something Kris Kringle brought about because of his contagious joy] That wasn’t possible either, but it happened.

DORIS: Honestly…

GAILEY: It’s the best defense I can use. Completely logical and completely unexpected.

DORIS: And completely idiotic. What about your bosses… Haislip and Mackenzie and the rest of them? What do they say?

GAILEY: That I am jeopardizing the prestige and dignity of an old, established law firm and either I drop this impossible case immediately…or they will drop me.

DORIS: See?

GAILEY: I beat them to it. I quit.

DORIS: Fred, you didn’t.

GAILEY: Of course I did. I can’t let Kris down. He needs me, and all the rest of us need him.

DORIS: Look darling, he’s a nice old man and I admire you for wanting to help him, but you’ve got to be realistic and face facts. You can’t just throw your career away because of a sentimental whim.

GAILEY: But I’m not throwing my career away.

DORIS:But if Haislip feels that way so will every other law firm in town.

GAILEY: I’m sure they will. Then I’ll open my own office.

DORIS: And what kind of cases will you get?

GAILEY: Oh, probably a lot of people like Kris that are being pushed around. That’s the only fun in law anyway. But I promise you, if you believe in me and have faith in me everything will… You don’t have any faith in me, do you?

DORIS: It’s not a question of faith. It’s just common sense.

GAILEY: Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to….Don’t you see, it’s not just Kris that’s on trial. It’s everything he stands for.

DORIS: Oh Fred.

GAILEY: It’s kindness, and joy, and love, and all the other intangibles.

DORIS: Oh, Fred, you’re talking like a child. You’re living in a realistic world and those lovely intangibles of yours are attractive but not worth very much. You don’t get ahead that way.

GAILEY: That all depends on what you call getting ahead. Evidently, you and I have different definitions.

DORIS: These last few days we’ve talked about some wonderful plans, but then you go on an idealistic binge. You give up your job, you throw away all your security…and then you expect me to be happy about it!

GAILEY: Yes, I guess I expected too much…. Look Doris, someday you’re going to find out that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover they’re the only things that are worthwhile.

The Post – Admiral Byrd Kicks Back on Father’s Day With Bubbles

June 15, 2008

It’s been a while since I’ve done any fiddler crab updates. Just to let you all know, they are alive and well. I’ve been under the weather a lot, so I had to put my attempts to raise babies on hiatus. However, not to worry. I’ll get there yet.

In the meantime, suffice it to say both ladies are doing well and have been mostly hanging out in their live rock. However, I did notice today that one of them was resting in Admiral Byrd’s “lair.” So I suppose babies might be on the horizon again in the not too distant future.

Admiral Byrd decided to celebrate Father’s Day by kicking back and relaxing. He climbed out of the water and sat on top of his cave rock, blowing bubbles. It does have that “foaming at the mouth” look, but in reality, I think he’s just relaxing and aerating his gills while he sits out of water. He keeps moving his claws and legs up and down as if he’s using them to spread the bubbles around and like he’s then washing himself. It does look odd. But, he seemed pretty relaxed.

I came across this entry from Wet Web Media’s FAQ on Freshwater Fiddler Crabs, where someone else noticed the exact same behavior with their fiddler crab, and asked about it:

“Odd freshwater Crab behaviour
I have a ten gallon tank with low water and rocks for crabs and other crustaceans. I bought some crabs and here’s my q’s.
Today the male??, one large one small claw, climbed out of the water onto the rock and started foaming? or bubbling from his face and doing something, like he was washing?? what is this? He the proceeded to sit then later he did this crazy claw dance, waving his arms around slowly in these rhythmic motions all the way out and then back in, what the heck? Does he have mad crab disease?

>> Crabs have to get oxygen when they are out of the water they will “chew” a small amount of water to mix it with air and get oxygen from this process, that is likely why your crab is foaming. He is waving his claws to show his territory and attract females, so he is not mad. …For a great website on crabs and other crustaceans check http://www.crusta10.de not sure if it is all in English, but the site owner is one of the most knowledgeable people on the subject. Good Luck, Oliver”

For some pics of Admiral Byrd’s bubble-blowing session, here you go!

First from the front:

And then from the back…note that Admiral Byrd is still watching me even though I am photographing him behind his back…he has his “eyes” tilted back to watch me: