navel-gazing/afternoon project: after photos, part one

Yes well, don't make fun of me. You out there in the ether. I felt internal and protective today and when I feel like that and I can't plant stuff or pull weeds, I absorb myself in some other detailed but mindless task. It's a sort of comfort. So here are way too many pictures of that, and I didn't even get to this adjoining room yet. 

Also, no, as it turns out, they aren't much better. I wasn't thinking creatively or technically. I should do that next time. But posting them here, that's part of the process, somehow.


Cause I Want More


I think the fierce wind here is a good sign. Is it blowing something away, or ushering something in? Both, perhaps. As it does.

Screen Shot 2011-12-31 at 3.10.22 PM
I didn't like last year. I doubt if I like this one so far, after all, they're really exactly the same thing, aren't they? But dividing points, Mr. Last Night Pedant, are good for us because we can stop and say, from time to time, "Let's have no more of that." And, of course, being able to hug some things to ourselves in order to seal them in. 

So, I figure I can name 7 good things about 2011. Here are 6 of them. 

1. my swimming pool

2. Jungle Jim's

3. working on poetry again

4. my new camera

5. two fun book series discoveries:

    Aimée Leduc Investigations by Cara Black

    Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson

6. bowling regularly again

Mer & Ben bowling 12

7? Well, it's fun to have just a bit of mystery in life, isn't it?


Happy 2012...

through the mirror of my mind

A peek into my brain...
2011-11-19 15.09.41
There are always rhythms running through my head. Not like drum beats, more like musical notes without the notes. Except most of the time there are notes, too, and when there aren't notes there are words.

I think one of my sons inherited something of this. When he was a baby, we called him mantra boy because he'd just seize on a sound and chant it for what seemed like hours. I used to very lightly rock back and forth, which the family thought was odd, and maybe it was, and people still catch me doing it, but it's because it's always going. Most of the time, instead of obviously rocking back and forth, I'm pulsing out a rhythm with the muscle at the base of my thumb, but someone will catch me at that, as well. And if I'm occasionally mouthing lyrics my head is singing, then that gets questioned, and I think, "What the heck? Other people don't just subvocalize stuff?" Well, of course they do. I'm a little weird but not that weird. They're just more self-conscious than I am, and their lips never move, I guess.
2011-11-19 13.19.03
The boy, now 17, is also like me in that he can find music on the keyboard after hearing it once. But he, unlike me, composes music now, and it's all layered and full of rhythm. He took the thing and is making something with it. 

My thing is words. I listen to music all the time and my perceptions are shaped by it, but my poetry isn't often lyrical. Sometimes my essays have that sense to them. I like to repeat phrases and patterns in my writing. And, I mean, I love NaNo. It teaches me something every year. But I'm no novelist. I had come to think of my stories and poems as word paintings, but as they're more about essence than about the visual spectrum, they're kind of more akin to music. It's all math, anyway. The universe, conservation of mass, Picasso, Mahler, and your words. All math. But that's for another set of ramblings. 
2011-11-19 13.25.18
Anyway, here's what I was going to share. This morning, I was calling my coffee maker Mr. Sizzlepants. One of those unconscious rhythms running through my head, I found myself saying, "Hey, Sizzlepants. Leave those kids alone." 

So now I have that song plaguing me this morning. It never ceases. 

In a couple days I'll get back to my tiny story exercises. Maybe I'm about to figure out what to make of it all, at long last. Time may not be a rigid construct, but other people's perceptions of it are always pressing down heavily. 2011-11-19 13.13.26


In Which I Take a Photo of a Dogwood Tree, & Other Morning Tales

Each morning I prepare myself to go downstairs just before 8 o'clock. Downstairs is my office, after all, don't want to be late. I spend 30 minutes looking at news, weather, messages and school plans before waking the boys. During that time I also tidy anything left out the night before, and usually make myself a mug of coffee. 

This morning after rising, I looked out a window to note the dogwood tree leaves are now fully red, so I thought I'd pop outside and take a photo to share. After dressing and reflecting on the importance of appearing neat and pleasant for my boys, as an example and also because they should look back someday and remember their mother as pleasantly as possible, I grabbed my phone and the first book of a new series I'm reading, thinking I'd spend a few minutes looking it over before the day officially began, and headed down the stairs to the front door. I put the book on the hall table so I could go out to take the photo, but suddenly there were two cats at my feet, yowling for food. 

This was unusual, as the cats are kept on separate floors during the night. They do not get along. But there was Young Cat, along with Angry Cat, pretending to be affectionate in order to be fed. Cats think you might starve them if they don't pretend to be nice to you. I always fill their bowls at 8 o'clock, then open the door to let the Young one on the main floor so he can eat and hang out. Well, the food container was missing. I noticed yesterday we had only one day's worth left, but why would the whole thing be gone? I found it downstairs on the bar counter, and brought it up with cats clamoring all around me, and after putting it away, realized that my instructions for finishing the kitchen last night had gone completely unheeded. 

I personally keep the kitchen clean all day but do not do dishes except sometimes on weekends. That is what kids are for. Also, you gotta train em to do all this stuff for when they're grown up. But left to their own devices, it will always have been someone else's turn, and not get done at all. I went to bed too early! So I gathered it all onto one counter, cleaned the other counters, sink, and stove, and then went out to take my photo. 

It's beautiful outside today! And although I am wearing a sleeveless blouse, the sunshine kept me from caring about the morning chill. I emailed myself the photo and came in to look at the computer. Two of the kids were still logged in. There's something going on with the iMac lately, so that it works super slowly if more than one person is logged in. But I don't know their latest passwords. No, I'm not worried about them looking at porn or whatever. Because of plenty of reasons. Still, I logged in as well, and launched all three browsers, and Mail.  

Here is why I use three browsers. First, I have to use an old copy of Firefox for K12 Ohio Virtual Academy. The site doesn't work with Firefox 4. But I don't really like Firefox anyway. So I have 3.6 on here, just to manage the kids' school things. Next, since I began using Chrome as my regular browser, that launches iGoogle, and I check out the weather, my friends forum, Tumblr and Brizzly, the bank, etc. However, I also have to check in at Facebook each day. This is not because I consider it a verb. It is because that is where my brother communicates with the outside world, and where I see updates from the local parent group from OHVA. Since I don't want anywhere I visit on the web to think it knows me through Facebook, to try to make me "like" it or log in with my Facebook id in order to comment, which is still ridiculous and maddening after a year of this nonsense, I log into Facebook in Safari. And then now use Safari for nothing else except downloading music from a couple places which don't consider themselves adjuncts of Facebook. I prefer Safari to Chrome in a couple of key ways, but one or two bill-paying sites work better in Chrome, so it won the non-Facebook lottery. 

Anyway, it was all loading agonizingly slowly, and I couldn't log out of the boys' accounts without dragging them in here, so I just restarted the whole thing and went to fix my coffee. 

Then I was able to log back in, and resize my picture to share in this post I no longer had time to make until just now, completely out of proportion to the event. And then it was 8:30, time to wake the boys. On the way back to the stairs, I noticed the book I'd left on the hall table. Guess I'll just start reading it tonight. I got the first three of the series from the library, after buying five of them on Border's Last Day last month. 

So, here's my dogwood tree: Dogwood

Isn't it pretty?

In some of the corners of my mind these days

You can pretty much judge how depressed I am by how often I update this blog, because I can tweet or reblog at Tumblr no matter how things are going, but here, I want to have interesting stories to tell or thoughts to relate and I cannot do that when I'm feeling low. I also listen to less music, but you wouldn't be able to judge that. Take my word for it. It's unbalanced. And despite my abiding 4+ year love for Twitter and Tumblr, this is the place that's really all mine. 

So in the meantime, here's some vaguely personal stuff with details, but not really details. You know. I'm personal in only the most shallow ways possible.

I want to do NaNoWriMo this year but don't have my own computer. Partly that's okay; only one boy and I are sharing the iMac just now, as the other two were sent cheesy but useful PCs by K12. The thing is, all three of them sit on the dining room table and no matter how I adjust this chair, I end up with pain in my neck and sometimes nausea after sitting here for awhile. 2011-10-05 12.30.57
So that's not super inspiring. I'm so used to a laptop, mostly all I've used for, well, quite a few years. 

The problem is that I need the chair all the way up in order to face the tall screen correctly. But when I do that, I am typing several inches below where that would be correct. So when I do NaNo, I suppose I'll set the keyboard on something to elevate it, but it needs to not slide around…

None of that has anything to do with feeling low. I just do. Too much is not at peace, though our house here is a pleasant sanctuary in most ways. 

I miss my desk upstairs. I created a cozy little studio for writing, painting, and listening to music. But the desk is empty. 2011-10-05 13.04.05
It wants a new Macbook Pro, of course. Maybe someday. In the meantime, I stare at a canvas, listen to a little Frank Sinatra, then wander away to some other part of the house.

I need more poetry, classical music, and cushy furniture in my life. That wouldn't solve any problems, but it would be good. Of course, I can solve the first two needs easily, if I just think to. But the days are just packed, and so is my head. Novel reading has been my meditation lately.

Good things are that I live on the edge of two library systems; Cincinnati and Clermont County. There's a Cincinnati branch 3 miles west of here, and a Clermont branch 2 miles east. All media not at my fingertips is a short drive away, and completely free. 

And we found a great deal that allows us to bowl on Sunday mornings, and we found some parks; none you can get to by walking, as that doesn't seem to be a great priority in this area of the, er, area, but still fairly nearby. Just as in New Jersey, we live moments from a pike (historically; there aren't tolls these days,) which is a good path from way over there to way over there, but this one has almost no sidewalk, no shoulder, and has hills as well as curves, so we cannot use it for walking or cycling.

You see how flat and dull all this blather is? I'm not at peace, because others are not at peace, and I cannot make things better for them. Platitudes are useless. As well, little niggling "red tape" issues still invade my days. I'm no good at them, and they won't ever leave me alone. Avoiding them makes it all worse, of course.

Another good thing is that for the first time in I don't even ever, I have all the clothes I need, *and* I like them all. I've never been the sort of person who wants a huge wardrobe, and I don't much like winter clothing, so I tend not to prioritize that. But I now have two thin cardigans, two longer sweaters, several new tops, three pairs of jeans, two pairs of dress-up slacks, a half-dozen dresses, two jackets and a coat, and new underwear and bras. I even bought socks. I no longer have leather boots, which would be a welcome finishing touch, but I can manage without, if necessary. People do. And I still have good gloves and lots of scarves. I cannot abide bulky clothing, but layering can and will be done when it is too cold to pretend otherwise. 

So this is something moving to Ohio from New Jersey did for me. But we still have very many other needs here to be met. I'm out of focus there, but working on it. 

What I'd like to also do for myself is buy a Kindle Fire and let that be my go-between until I can somehow raise money for a new laptop. I had planned on a Tab or iPad, but they cost three times as much, and I can do with my phone any tablet function I wouldn't have with the new Kindle. It's a pretty great phone, though the next model along is what dreams are really made of, I guess.

Living in Ohio, I have found some people who are like those I met at the Jersey shore. I mean, of course, the real New Jersey shore. Screen shot 2011-10-05 at 10.54.07 AM
People who live closer to nature, who still touch what they make, and who take in nature with the breath they can spare. But they seem to don't live on my street! 2011-10-05 13.45.41
I wish they did. Because otherwise, it is very artificial here, and there's something I'm having trouble grabbing hold of. I can't go back to the sea, to the people who communed with it. Lake Michigan is 300 miles away; it was like that there, too. Screen shot 2011-10-05 at 10.48.42 AM
The seashore, even an inland seashore, breeds the spirit to which I most relate these days. And there's no sea here. Screen shot 2011-10-05 at 10.57.09 AM

There is a bit of color, though. So that's a very nice thing on a sunny warm day in October. Why ask for more? 2011-10-05 13.48.12

part three: winter sky

The baby and I drove down to Costco last Monday to do our Thanksgiving shopping. On the way, we stopped at a place that always intrigues me; the "scenic overlook" on I-295 near Bordentown. (you can zoom in pretty far.) Here are a few photos I snapped there, though I was unable to get a good one of the nuclear power plant residing behind some trees to the southwest. I did get a gorgeous one of the boy himself. Click through to see 1200x900s. They aren't technically black & white, but an rgb translation of it. I think that's pretty cool, though. 

I think this will be a season of poetry, painting and photography. When I'm done putting 50k+ words into the NaNo counting machine, I need to reach into the part of me that is preparing to hibernate and give it a little external voice, instead. 


no holds barred

what's that mean, origin-wise?

okay, whatever.

I have one of those barometric pressure headaches. But there's no rain forecast. For once.

Here's a picture of me, taken last April. And possibly more, if I start to clicking.

Does that look, to you, like a person who has suffered lifelong embarrassment of a huge overbite and teeth so crooked they don't quite work right?


Does it look like someone who adores Star Trek but wouldn't know a character from Battlestar Galactica if he bit me, and loves lounge music and hard rock and playing basketball but not watching it, and who loves, loves, loves to bowl?

Do I look like an incorrigible flirt? A prude? Both?

Do I look like I birthed and nursed six babies? Like someone who is creeped out at the sight of eyebrow tweezers, and also anything anyone used, rolled into a ball and discarded?



Do I look selfish? Prideful? Compassionate? Empathetic?


Does that dress look like I ordered it from the vintage section of eBay? Does my hair look like it's the natural color?

Do I look like I bleed green? Carry word puzzles that I tore out of puzzle magazines in my purse? Read dictionary pages when I'm bored. Do you guess that I read poetry? Paint paintings without using brushes?

Do I look like I have a loving and giving heart?

I'm turning 44 soon. I thought my teeth would be well on their way to normality by then. I was, sadly, wrong about that. I've struggled with health, physical and mental and emotional; the whole enchilada pan. Over the past year I painted more and wrote less. It's possible I should have a haircut or two. I still need to master a good savory pie crust, because it's not quite a certain thing yet. I used to say I'd get a book finished this year. Every year. I'm not saying that this year, so maybe I will.

I have several pimples. And my eyes are aging by the minute. I cried yesterday, overwhelmed by my surroundings. Then I made cookie dough. For my kids to bake. I brought a plastic cup to Star Trek last night and asked for water at the concession stand. It was in PA, and I was sort of grossed out by the amount of "snacks" people were consuming. It seemed like people eat more there. But this one lady was wearing a very old Spock "Live Long and Prosper" t-shirt and that was rather sweet.   

Not quite ready to take this year's "almost" photo yet. But here's something silly from last night.