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“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll,
November was exceedingly strange. Here are a few pictures I’ve taken this month of things that happened.
There was this…
(I was waiting on a friend in the car when the bear showed up seemingly unaccompanied.)
(The dino was my contribution to a SoKaN event for #901 Rocks – a delightfully fun community craft movement taking the city by storm. These are some of the other SoKaNers’ painted rocks…)
[And finally, coming home fr0m this mad, funny, heartbreaking, and beautiful world to retreat (not to be confused with retweet) and recharge.]
The last two weeks of December are deliciously mine, mine, mine. (Well, mostly). To celebrate I decided I wanted to do something crazy and luxurious. I wanted to watch TV. Not Youtube or something on the Internet, but actual TV.
Sounds easy enough…
Here’s the thing: we don’t have cable and our antiquated television is one of those big, bulky contraptions that requires a converter box to receive a signal. It’s not at all user-friendly even though El-D acts like it’s incredibly easy to operate. Despite the many “How to Turn on the TV” tutorials he’s provided over the years, I remain mystified. All I can tell you is that poking the “ON” button on anything on or around the device never works. From my lessons, I have learned that there are least three steps required to get the thing going, yet there are four different remotes with an outrageous array of buttons, none of which do what they claim. Believe me, I have pushed them all to no effect.
Why does one need this many buttons and switches to operate the TV set? I am not trying to fly an airplane here; I just want to watch…well, anything at this point – a rerun of Gilligan’s Island maybe? Or even a good old fashioned hemorrhoid cream commercial. I have a Ph.D., surely I can figure this out? Instead, like a chicken playing the video game Portal, I go flapping around, pecking at things and squawking…and the Portal never opens.
So I sit on the couch staring at the blank screen, longing for the good old days when the world was made of tangible, sensible things…back in the days when there was just one “on” button and it meant business – you had to physically get up and turn a knob to watch Johnny Carson…back when you were part of the reception process and that process involved things like antenna, aluminum foil, and perhaps an old pie tin.
Finally, El-D appears and by the wonders of his modern wizardry, the Miss Universe Pageant lights up the screen. Who even knew this sort of thing (i.e., televised beauty pageants) still happened in the world? I am instantly transported back to those “good old days” when we – Kiki, Roy, mom and I – sat in the old rockers in the den as we judged beautiful women parading around in swimsuits.
And that is how, against incredible odds, I wound up watching the epic mistake Steve Harvey made in crowning the (wrong) winner.
Here’s the resolutions progress report:
1. Cook something fabulous and complicated every other week.
I cooked three simple but tasty dinners and one easy lunch, which was way more cooking than I usually do.
But that’s not all!
Debra of Threading the Web shared her grandmother’s recipe for banana cake with caramel icing – it’s an old-school style recipe, which called for ingredients I had to search for in two different stores. It was worth the effort. This cake is seriously yum. I made the cake for Nanook’s 75th birthday party and it received rave reviews from all party-goers. And…then I made it again for my birthday.
Then there was a pasta dish that was semi-complicated. I used fresh basil, oregano, and cherry tomatoes from the garden, which made me happy.
I must admit, I am quite pleased with my performance this month on the cooking resolution.
I bumped the “Eat dinner before 7:00 p.m.” goal down to “Eat dinner before 7:30 p.m.” because 7:00 is still too hard and if I miss the deadline, I’m more likely to say “screw it” and eat at 9 p.m., which is part of the problem. I was able to hit my 7:30 deadline 81% of the time in August compared to 67% of the time in July with the 7:00 deadline. Not perfect, but it’s progress. I’ll take it.
2. Finish Inferno choreography.
I still haven’t finished it, but I’m getting closer! I spent 9 hours and 45 minutes working on it this month.
And here is where I will insert a gratuitous dance picture from last week’s performance at the Renaissance Faire.
3. Write a book.
I spent 9 1/2 hours writing and researching this month, which only amounted to around 4,208 words. This is just sad. It’s not nearly enough if I want to get this thing written in my lifetime.
My resolution time was hampered by things like the need for sleep, busted water pipes, and walls being ripped out of the house in search for the leak. A new semester started mid-month, so now I have a couple thousand preschoolers competing with everything else for my time and attention. I am getting better at saying “No,” to the time-consuming requests made by others, but I have a long way to go if I’m going to carve out enough time to get stuff I want to do done.
4. Tend the garden.
I spent 23 hours in the garden! Wowie. I had no idea it was that much until I just totaled up the time. Garden hours seem to pass on a completely different time scale. I logged most of this time in the first half of the month. I was a weeding and mulching maniac. Slinging mulch is great exercise. I planted oregano, cilantro, arugula, greens, chives, and lettuce. I clipped the amaryllis and hid them away until fall. There is still so much work to be done! I still want to plant spinach, garlic, kale and chard. The back beds need weeding. I want to plant mums and repot the house plants. And soon the leaves are gonna start falling. I am so looking forward to the fall and winter this year. This is a brand new thing for me. I’ve always been a spring and summer sort of girl, but I’m ready to be cloistered inside with hot chocolate. I want to hide under a pile of blankets and spend hours reading books. I’m ready for soup.
5. Meditate 15 minutes a day.
I logged exactly the same amount of time this month as last month: 3 hours and 15 minutes. This is a far cry from daily. We’ll see how September goes.
The past two months have been a study of what Langston Hughes described as “…goin’ in the dark where there ain’t been no light.” In this age, to leave the world of pictures is a shock to the system. But even in the dark there are things that can’t be unseen; their negative image lingers ghostlike on blind eyes. With shades reversed, they are ever more horrifying. Darkness does nothing to mask the terror of impermenance.
This terror is a good thing, I suppose, for the dark times have done little to loosen my fierce hold on existence, even as other cherished notions are relinquished one by one. To be on intimate terms with both dark and light is to have the heart broken open. That space of tension is where creativity is born and where life flourishes.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
This is the first time in the four-year history of My Little Spacebook that I’ve gone over a month between posts. There’s so much to report!
In August El-D and I celebrated our 20th anniversary.
We have seen each other through many faces, phases, places and lives…not to mention various hats and corsets. Whether leaving for the house for dinner or the grocery store, we continue to ask each other “Who are you going as tonight?” There’s Country Gentleman and Woodland Fairy, Monday Night Bowler and YoginiTini, Mickey Mouse Man and Bag Lady, The Professor and Mary Ann. The odd pairings seem to be endless. It’s great fun.
Also in August, I turned 40. My wonderful family made it the best birthday ever! The party was dubbed “The Redneck Shindig” and featured Slip’N Slides, Italian cream cake, a million baby crickets, and family members trying to one-up each other’s tales about the fires I’ve started in their homes and wrecks I’ve had in their cars. Good times. Thank you, dear family, for loving me in spite of the havoc I have wrecked in your lives. I love you and your terrible singing and zany presence.
One of the highlights in September was a six-hour kayaking trip on the Wolf River. Things were going great until I rounded the bend to enter Ghost River. At that very instant Nature got all up in my business. Plant life reached out to caress me in a creepy-uncle sort of way and two big spiders – one fat and hairy and one little-bodied with long skittering legs – leaped simultaneously and aggressively into my kayak.
Before I go on, I want you to know I can appreciate spiders when they spin their string art and sit around calmly eating less superior bugs. In fact, I appreciate them so much I take pictures and wax poetic about them (see Centered Scribe Spinning, Spinning ) I can even appreciate momma spiders when I disturb their peace with my weed pulling and they take off running with their egg sac full of future spiders.
However, when spiders jump in my tiny kayak and proceed to run AT ME despite my flailing paddle and panicked shrieks, I will fight them until death. It was a long, hard battle – and I had doubts about who would paddle or skitter away the victor as the kayak tilted precariously this way and that. After all that, I thought I was done with kayaking for awhile.
So it was a bit of a surprise last week when I found myself back in a kayak, this time in the bayou, on a soul journey with nine strangers. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how that happened and what it was all about. I’ll let you know when the pieces come together…
I had a magical woodland fairy moment last night.
I stepped into the back yard at dusk, my mind all a-flutter with at least 15 different undone things on my daily ToDo List. I don’t remember why I was headed out back…the ducks were fed, so what could I possibly have had to do out there at nightfall? What I do remember is looking down at the ground and being so lost in a swirl of thoughts that I was seeing, yet not seeing. Then suddenly I lifted my gaze and my attention snapped back into the living, breathing world as a family of deer – two adults and two babies – came bounding out of the treeline and into the little meadow on the other side of the pond. I stopped in my tracks and they in theirs as we all stood looking dumbfounded at each other by this chance encounter. After an eternity or maybe a few seconds, the adults sauntered on through the clearing on their spindly legs and the two babies frolicked, literally frolicked, on as if the word had been invented just for them and they had to show everyone what it meant. It was so ridiculous and adorable, I could hardly stand it.
Prior to all that I was having “one of those days.” I had an afternoon class to teach and I had spent all morning- from 6 a.m. ’til noon – preparing for it, and when it was nearing time to leave, I did a final mirror check and realized I had glitter all over my face. My attempt to brush it off succeeded only in adding considerably more sparkle and smearing it around, for the glitter was all over my hand as well. Apparently one of my little friends had overturned a jar of glitter in a drawer I had been digging around in for supplies. Another glance in the mirror revealed little chocolate polka dots all along the backside of my skirt. I had sat in my own chocolate chip cookie crumbs. On my race to the kitchen to check the time (there was none left) I stepped on a tailless lizard that Yip had been torturing in the living room. It was on its back – still somehow alive and waving its front lizard foot at me as if trying to tell me there was no time left for either of us. “Go on, go on…” his little gesture seemed to be saying.
So I did.
And I taught my class sparkling like a Stephany Meyers vampire, smelling of chocolate, with lizard blood on my shoes. I wonder what this will do to my teaching evals.
This time of year I think a lot about my grandmother. She was born into this world and left it during the summer months.
Kiki was a fabulous and funny lady. She taught me lots of things: the names of flowers, my first prayers (“Dear God, Bless Roy and Cathy and Carey…”), how to multitask (she would exercise in the den during Wheel of Fortune), how to drive with my elbows, how to be independent (“It’s my money and I’ll wipe my ass with it if I want”).
She taught me beauty secrets such as taping your face at night to prevent wrinkles. And on that last note, when I came across this funny video today, I immediately thought of her….
Yesterday, I planted a hibiscus outside my bedroom door. I pulled some weeds, rearranged a few planters, fully immersed in my happy little zen place. As I was positioning a little garden angel to better rest in the imagined spring violets, I felt a sudden white hot stab of pain in my hand. A moment later an army of wasps rose menacingly out of the little angel. I didn’t stick around to see what would happen next.
I was wearing what I normally wear when I garden, which is basically the equivalent of a space suit. By now I’m familiar with the routine of everything in my garden trying to kill me, so I was shocked that the little bugger managed to stab me clear through my thick rubber gloves. He got me on the right hand, just under the knuckle of my ring finger. Today whenever I try to curl my hand to do things like open the fridge, get the peanut butter jar, turn on the kitchen sink, type, grab my phone, brush my teeth, read my book, or well, anything, there is a bone deep ache in that joint. A preview of coming arthritic attractions, I suppose. How something so small can wreck such huge havoc is quite the mystery, and also possibly the hope for us all.
Meanwhile, the bruised universe on my leg appears to be expanding. The swirl of amethyst is now dotted with peach pinpoints, while the periphery is a nicotine-yellow haze. On the whole, the bruise bears a resemblance to the melting face of a swamp monster – the sort of thing you would see chasing a panicked Scooby Doo.
If you have been around this blog for a few years, then you may think I sometimes get a little too preoccupied with toilet technology. While I would have to disagree, I do appreciate you enduring these episodes if you find them uncouth.
If you are just joining this party, welcome to the fold. And just let me say I think “preoccupied” is really too strong of a word for what goes on here. You may want to consider it more like an occasional recurring theme. Rest assured, whatever label you want to put on it, this too shall pass, and we will soon resume our regularly scheduled programming.
And if you’re only here to get the bruise status update, well today it features a pink crescent moon entrapped within a fushia hexagon from which a cloud of navy smoke billows. May you sleep better knowing.
So my interest in toilet technology began a couple years ago with a TedxTokyo Talk called Toilet Talks, which opened my eyes to how far we Americans lag behind the Japanese in lavatory engineering. Still reeling from that revelation, a couple weeks later I encountered another disturbing sign in a university bathroom stall indicating America’s ineptitude in latrine design and the lengths those in the ivory tower will go to enshroud this truth with their propaganda. The problem was made personal with some unfortunate business that occurred on I-40 in a snowstorm. Then that summer I learned that Japan is not the only country wildly ahead of us when I learned of Ayurvedic medicinal herbs and I tried the Poo-Poo Tea at the ashram.
Today I discovered a video that provided a ray of hope. Other minds are acknowledging the errors of our ways. Mark my words: innovation is coming.