Home   |   LCS Prints Store   |   About Me   |   FAQ   

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday 5-7-5

Posted by Picasa

Blue phlox in full bloom
Falling over granite ledge
Winter wafts away

I took this photo early today, before reading a post here at the Blood Red Pencil. A little haiku seems like a nice way to finish off the week.

How is spring unveiling itself to you?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Star Trek: My Generation

I was 21 the year my sister, who’d been in Australia for four years prior, married and moved there for good. For over thirty years, we’ve lived in different countries, continents and hemispheres, not to mention time zones, which can be the hardest part somehow.

If you want to know more about this, you can read here, but for this exercise, just know that, depending on our respective countries' daylight savings schedules, we are fourteen, fifteen or sixteen hours behind her. For most of her life there, finagling around time zones has made for challenges in scheduling phone calls. A good hour for her to “ring up,” in her lingo, would be when I was dressing for work, so I’d hop around holding the phone while trying to button a blouse one-handed. There have been more than a few birthdays (hers) where I’ve set my alarm for 5:30 a.m.to make sure to call her before she went to bed.

What was worse is that when she first moved to “Oz” for good, the telephone communication we could coordinate, occurred accompanied by loud static and echoes. We stumbled over each other’s words and usually hung up unsatisfied. In the 90’s, email allowed for more consistent and understandable contact; for years that was our best bet. But then, here in the US, we moved to broadband, and she struggled with unresponsive dial-up service, which made emailing hard for her.

Finally though, my rural-living sister was able to sign up for broadband a few months back. As a result, something wonderful has occurred. We speak face-to-face now, via Skype, which, I’m sure most of you know about, but for those who may be slightly, er, antiquated like me, is a video conferencing product that works over the Internet.

Now, to be clear, I'm not all that behind the times. Video conferencing was a regular event where I used to work and I became accustomed to conducting long-distance employment interviews via a computer monitor. But doing so required scheduling and testing with the support of a lurking help-desk associate, who would stand by to assist on the regular occasions when the screen went black.

Skype is something different altogether. As long as you've got a camera in your computer (and if you don't, I think you can buy one for under $50) download Skype (easy-peasy), make a user name, and request to friend other users. Once your request is accepted, you can contact each other. That whole process took me about five minutes and later that day, I conducted a test call with another sister who lives over an hour away, then a brother, who is only slightly closer. The next day, I had my first video conference with Australia.

Since then, Aussie sister and I have video conferenced a few times. Each time my computer emits that unique blurt that indicates she’s trying to contact me, I jump around unsure of what button to push. Eventually though, we connect and there she is, on the screen, in front of me so clearly that I can see the French press on the counter behind her. For the first time in over thirty years, I can see her face real time, and other then the monthly price of my Internet connection, the whole thing is free.

To someone who remembers when rotary phones were the norm and phone numbers started with tree names (mine was Cedar-7), the fact that with about three clicks I can see my sister’s face even though she is so many thousands of miles away, makes me feel like I am living Star Trek. Yesterday, she rolled out of bed, made herself a cup of coffee and Skyped me, and I chatted away to her while preparing roasted chicken thighs and brown rice for dinner. We talked for an hour as if we were sitting next to each other and would have gone on, if the timer for my broccoli didn’t bing. Back in my childhood, I remember watching Captain James T. Kirk talk to a computer screen, and thinking it was like magic. Now I do it myself.

I am of a mind that anything that can be imagined can be created. So, I’m looking forward to the next phase of communication. I hope that it will be one that also appeared on Start Trek. In the series, characters visited a “holodeck” and participated in "holograms" where, via computer simulation, they interacted with robotically generated, touch and feel real people, in an unreal dimension.

I’m thinking that by entering a holodeck, I could not only see my sister, I could hug her too.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Failing to Plan, Not Planning to Fail

All Saturday and Sunday, I hoped to get ahead of Middle Passages for the week. The schedule will be full and writing a post or two in advance would free up some time. I am aware that some of the reigning masters of the blogosphere, write their weekly posts in one sitting and portion them out day-by-day. I bow down to their planning and, well, their planning. As more of a proverbial, by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal, occasionally I jot ideas down for future posts, but as of now, I’ve used those up. In truth, the vast majority of topics for Middle Passages come to me the day of, or even while I’m writing, and with appointments almost every day this week, it seemed like getting a jump on a post or two would remove some last minute stress from the agenda.

With that in mind, Saturday, while I transplanted Foxgloves and Jacob’s ladder, hacked out the ferns overtaking the day lilies, raked up a million pine cones, turned my arms to jelly trying to scrape green moss from our patio pavers and lugged piles of winter debris to the mulch pile, I thought about what to write for your reading pleasure. Sorry to say folks, I came up with nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. For a brief moment, as I stooped down low to remove dandelions at the roots, a “digging deep” theme hovered, but it floated away like the cotton seed-heads would have in a few weeks, if I had left the yellow weeds alone.

There was still time though. Yesterday, as I grocery shopped, baked gingersnaps for the senior center coffee scheduled for this morning and, I confess, sat in church during a late afternoon service, I thought about what to write. I failed to pray for an idea though; maybe that’s where things went wrong. Even while draining pasta for dinner last night I felt confident that I could still squeak out a post if only I had something to say. Falling asleep on the sofa at 8:00 did not help with this mission.

Here's the thing. In spite of my inability to conjure up a blurb for Middle Passages, it was a good writing weekend. Between Friday night and Monday morning, I wrote six pages of Morning Pages as directed by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. And, with out planning to (hmm...), in place of Morning Pages on Saturday, (at Simon's suggestion, see below) I wrote a bit of flash fiction based on a daydream I created to put myself to sleep the night before. Try as I might though, I could not come up with a blog post.

So there you have it. A not post. The best I could do. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

How about you? Do you plan your posts in advance?

Contest Alert!
Two of my favorite bloggers, who are both both clever, witty, funny and above all, talented writers are holding contests, if you are so inclined. Simon, over at Constant Revision is holding a contest to celebrate 250 followers, and Carol, over at Carol's Prints is celebrating 300 followers. Stop over for some fun...oh, and prizes too! If you do visit Simon or Carol and decide to follow them, please let them know that I sent you! ;)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Who Holds the Key?

Those who know us might consider husband and me, well, let's say, frugal. This may be why my regular mode of transportation for the last nine years has been a 1996 bare-bones Jeep. As for hubby, since he drives 120 miles a day, we buy him a new car every five years. When he drives it into the ground, we replace it with the same make and model, and he repeats the cycle.

So, to say that our cars are not luxury vehicles would be an understatement. We don’t have GPS’s, we don’t have built-in MP3 docks and here’s a novelty, we lock our cars and start them ourselves. But when we bought a three-year-old car from a dealer recently, we learned how dear the luxury of starting a car can be.

You see, the used car we bought came with only one key—the kind those of you who've been living in the 21st century probably know about—a key with a computer chip that has to be programmed by a dealer in order to start the car. Out of touch with such transportation, um, breakthroughs, we learned that these programmable keys come at a considerable cost. Gone are the days that you could walk down to the local hardware store and order a duplicate a key for $3.00. Multiply that times 100+, if you’d like the indulgence of driving your more recent model.

The day we negotiated the purchase of our new-to-us vehicle, my husband and I stood firm at our ceiling price. We had two working cars, after all. We didn't have to buy a new one. If the dealer couldn't meet our number, we were walking, and trust me, we were dead serious. Consequently, after the salesman sighed repeatedly and took several trips to “speak to his manager” he agreed to our price, before informing us of one exception. The car we wanted to purchase only had the one key. It would cost us to have a replacement programmed.

Before moving forward, I requested that the salesman call the sister new-car-dealer across the parking lot and confirm the key price, which he did, reporting to us that it would be less then he'd originally indicated. Still, frustrated at exceeding our financial cap, my husband and I took a walk around the parking lot, knowing we’d struck a good bargain, but feeling like the keys were being held hostage. In the end, we settled with the salesman to split the cost of the new key. He agreed to adjust the car price as long as we arranged the key purchase ourselves. We picked up our new transportation the next week.

The car had been ours for two days when I drove fifteen miles back to the sister-new-car-dealer to get my new key programmed. As I handed the one key to the service manager, he hemmed and hawed. “This key is grey. It's a valet key. It doesn’t hold a program so it can’t be duplicated. We’ll have to reprogram the car in order to program a key for you. It will take a couple of hours and cost you $X [triple what the salesman quoted us].”

Our daughter, who was with me at the time, told me later that she watched the color mount in my face. I won’t bore you with the details, other than to explain that after some stern and earnest wording on my part, the sister-dealer agreed to the initial cost quoted for the key. Thank goodness my daughter and I both had reading material. Late that morning we left, new key in hand.

Since the topic was current, on the ride home, my daughter and I decided that as a newly licensed driver, she should have her own key to the old jeep, which will be her transportation going forward. Smarting from the morning’s experience, we were relieved that obtaining one would mean doing it the old-fashioned way.

Arriving at the local fix-it shop, we asked to duplicate a key. Darn, if the owner didn’t look at us and hem and haw. “We don’t make many car keys anymore, since they all have to be programmed.” When we assured him that our 14-year-old key would be about as likely to know a computer chip as a potato chip, he searched a diminishing supply of blanks, determining he no longer carried the size necessary to fulfill our request. It took yet another ride to a larger hardware store where, after looking at us uneasily, a clerk scared up the right GM key blank.

Three trips and one massive headache later, we own extra keys to each car now, so we are good to go. But hear this. In the unlikely event that we ever sell one of these autos, I’m holding the keys for ransom.

Anyone care to share their auto purchase headaches?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Two Quotes for Thursday

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. Joseph Chilton Pearce

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Darius Rucker...and Me

Last night a comment on Middle Passages led me to the unexpected. Robin, at Your Daily Dose wrote a tribute post she calls a “Here’s to You Day.” In it she has pasted YouTube videos that remind her of blogs that she reads.

Robin and I have only been “following” each other for a short time, so imagine my surprise when I found a video dedicated to “Liza at Middle Passages,” which relates (quite accurately I might add) to a post I wrote called "Fledglings," that siphoned a little blood out of me last week. One blogger got Seinfeld, another got “The Princess Bride” and I got--well, the hint in the title notwithstanding, you’ll just have to click over to see what she included for me.

To tell the truth, I was churning inside when I wrote “Fledglings,” still am to some degree, and Robin’s video post, well folks, she nailed it. In my mind this is a special and caring honor and as I take my now-licensed girl off for a college campus visit this morning, I’m grateful to Robin for finding another way to quantify my ongoing emotion as our girl reaches for adulthood.

For some fun and intrigue (and in my case, maybe some tears), check out Robin at Your Daily Dose.

Hint: If you do click over, make sure to scroll to the bottom of her blog first. Turn off her music before playing the clips in order to get the full effect.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Renewing and Redoing

I have yet to make it into the garden this year; green fingers poke through the moist ground with no encouragement from me; the saw-toothed foliage unfurled on the rose bushes while I wasn’t looking. Out back, tender sedum leaves emerge, though the bones of last year’s blossoms still scratch the air above them. Hosta plants push up like curled cigar wrappers while the antique tissue of old summer blooms sway above a hydrangea’s new leaves. All around, the gardens host threads of garlic chives that spread unbidden--lanky tresses of untrimmed hair.

It is past time to get out there and snip and rake, yank and prod, to toss last year into the compost pile so it can blend and decay and leach its remaining goodness into the earth. I'm off to clear around this impetuous growth, to remove winter wrappers and catch up with a rebirth.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Irreplaceable Blue

Situated below the edge of the town parking lot, the one room building used to house a cobbler. Now, the tiny place hosts a fix-it shop. The screen door squealed and slammed behind me as I entered, lugging the blue ginger-jar lamp the cat knocked off a side table when she was still a kitten. Up until this winter, with just the right tapping and wiggling, we could still get the thing to work, notwithstanding the bent frame or the burn mark on the shade from the time the hot bulb tipped in its damaged socket.

When it started flickering on and off a few months ago, emitting a smell ranging from old fish to hot plastic, we unplugged it. It sat dark for weeks until our daughter asked: “Are we ever going to put a new bulb in that lamp?” Explaining that it would take more than sixty watts to get it going, my husband looked at me and said, “Maybe we should look for a new one.” “I guess,” I replied, unmotivated. The liquidation price back when we were newlyweds was more than I’d like to spend now and besides, if we purchased another, it wouldn’t just be a lamp we’d be replacing.

The original arrived in an oversized box off a UPS truck as a wedding present from my childhood friends, twin sisters I’d played with since birth. It stood distinctive and bold in the four room condominium my husband and I purchased a few months prior to our wedding. We nestled it in on top of one of the stereo speakers that substituted as a side table in our combo living/dining area, beside the pull-out sofa we’d imported tax free via a tractor-trailer from a North Carolina manufacturer--before Massachusetts law eliminated such bargains.

A year-and-a-half later, the gift moved seamlessly to the living room of our first house, where we determined that procuring a matching lamp for the other side of the couch would bestow a decorative coup on an otherwise worn and echoing room. Crossing our fingers, we called the now-defunct department store where the gift had been purchased and rattled off the make, the colors and the serial number.

A helpful customer service associate confirmed that the chain no longer carried the item in question, but informed us there was one left, at a distribution center, about to be delivered to a liquidation outlet. If we wanted it, we’d have to drive to the warehouse forty miles from where we lived to pick it up. So with the credit card we’d forbidden ourselves to use in hand, one Friday evening after work we entered the canyon of a stockroom in a cement building on a peninsula jutting into Boston Harbor. Searching out a two-footed human among the hive of fork-lift driving workers, we handed over a confirmation number and left with the last blue ginger-jar lamp in the chain.

Twenty-five plus years later, this memory propelled me to the dilapidated building downtown where I entered to encounter the back-side of an white-haired man balanced on a step stool, bending over the wooden legs of an upholstered side-chair perched atop a worktable. The shelves in the crowded room held rows of wire spools and plastic tool bins. A stack of knives, presumably waiting to be sharpened, lay next to the cash register by the door. The remainder of the room was stuffed with every manner of window screen, small appliance, broken chair and table--even a floor lamp whose brass post was gripped in the claws of a full length ceramic bear. “What do we have here?” the man asked, as he stepped down from the stool.

Peering into the socket of our lamp he said: “Hmm, see these burn marks here? Okay. Replace the wiring? Five dollars. A new socket will be another five. If it needs a saddle it will run ya a buck fifty. Add twenty for labor. It will be done by the end of the week.”

Three days and $31.50 later, our old favorite glows on a polished table across from its twin, book-ending the worn couch that replaced our dog-eared North Carolina import. We'll be in the market for our third sofa soon, but it's good to know that some memories, no matter how distant, manage to keep on shining.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What I Love About Spring

Before I forget, check out Sarah Whylie's fantastic contest here.

Is it possible that at times, words really aren't enough?

Naaaa. But this will have to do for now. These photos came from a short walk in a cool wind yesterday.

What do you love about Spring?

Monday, April 12, 2010


Those of you who have been reading Middle Passages for a while know that in some regard, I experienced a rebirth last year. Climbing to my feet, I wobbled through a baby step and then smiled as I took another. Hand-over-handing the length of the low furniture, sometimes I fell down on a padded bottom. Forward progress still feels new and Saturday it occurred to me that just as I was beginning to understand the rhythm of the steps, someone increased the tempo.

Two days ago, I cracked the door to wake my teenager, our only child, who slept sideways on wrinkled striped sheets, one exposed cheek curved, rounded and flushed above a rose-colored blanket--her full lips parting slightly as she exhaled. As I gazed at the faint movement of her soft lashes, a sixteen-year old-memory surfaced, of holding her as an infant in a wing-back chair one evening under the muted glow of a forty-watt bulb. That night, she slept in my arms and I stared at the damp bud of a mouth that had just released an evening bottle and the wisps of blonde hair sweeping flat across the white skin of her head. Feasting my eyes with a swollen yearning to savor and save, I promised myself that I’d always remember the image of her at that moment, the pearled skin, a button nose, the hot hand that clenched my little finger.

It’s been clear for a while that our daughter is a young woman now. Yet, Saturday, as she sighed and stretched oblivious to me, the face that I recorded all those years ago slept there on her twin bed beneath brown hair escaping from a tangled ponytail, beside the pile of cast-off clothes dotting the pink landscape of her painted room. Once again, I caught myself aching to freeze time, to clench her image tight and hard in my palm. Only on this particular morning, she caught me, waking to wrinkle her forehead and ask “What?”

And then, once she was up and dressed, we traveled over the hills and past the boarded-up ocean cottages one town over so she could apply for a first, real summer job, for which she was hired on the spot and advised to check in later this week for her schedule. I drove her there knowing that a license test is scheduled for the immediate future and in a matter of short days she should have the independence to climb behind the wheel and drive the rutted roads to this seaside resort. In a few weeks, she’ll serve pizza and fried clams to tourists and sweep piles of sand from the ceramic tiled floor. She’ll bring home a paycheck and likely scatter with some of the freedom that money provides, and though this is what we want for her, this is how it has to be, I didn’t expect that as a result, I’d wake today with a lump in my throat, staggering under another earthquake of change.

Again, tectonic plates are shifting and I am grabbing for solid walls. For almost 17 years, this child, this beautiful, funny, clever, resourceful girl, so mature that we call her “The Littlest Grown Up,” has nonetheless relied on us. On top of which, over the last fourteen months, because of time carved out following my job elimination, she has partnered with me for afternoon coffees and drives to the beach and when homework and my lack of freelance work allows, clandestine trips to matinee movies.

Now, this gift of time with her that I never expected to get and therefore cherished and celebrated all the more for the surprise of it, is just about over. It's right that she takes these strong steps on her own. But my own legs are quivering because I’m scared I’m going to falter, now that this most important of jobs is almost over too.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Walk Away

Business is slow on the LCS Writes front this month, so I put myself on sale (ten percent off the price of a writing job, and/or ten percent from the final bill, to be paid to anyone who refers a new client that results in a project in April. How is that for blatant solicitation?) Anyway, as a result, other than trying to drum up business, I have time to work on the creative pieces that I’m trying to write, which leads me to today’s topic.

A year ago, as I shifted in my chair and coped with my only dose of unemployment in almost 30 years, I made Middle Passages my job. After dropping our daughter off at school, I cracked my knuckles and sat down to the computer to craft a daily essay. After say, several hours, I’d walk away, returning later to edit the you-know-what-out of the piece before clicking on “publish.” I had, as it were, the luxury of time.

Now that I have work--sporadic though it may be--and volunteering, and other projects that interest me too, sometimes Middle Passages suffers, and to be perfectly honest, I crammed my post in yesterday. It may have sounded like the life of leisure amid my two walks, but with no paying work on the immediate horizon, I directed myself elsewhere between strolls, spending several hours at the library where I focused on the um, less lucrative side of my writing life. Then, since I had a networking phone call scheduled for after supper, I wanted Middle Passages off my mind before we ate, and, well, I rushed.

Here’s what I want to say today folks. No matter what, take a break from your writing so you can come back and read it with fresh eyes. Yesterday’s post struggled with run-on sentences, misplaced and missing commas, extraneous words, and a general lack of flow. Truth be told, I was slightly horrified with myself this morning. If you read it now, I think I’ve fixed most of it. But sheesh, what a reminder.

Today’s lesson: if you hurry to publish a blog post, a story, a letter, a memo, an email, a poem, a book, you are going to miss things.

As a high-scoring champion in a check-off-the-to-do-list world, I live with a compulsion to get things done that gets me in trouble some times. Yesterday’s post was a case in point. So take it from me. Walk away. Peel some potatoes. Think of other projects. Go for a run. Conduct the networking call. Whatever. Get the piece out of your mind so you can read it later with an objective view. Then see what you find. I promise, your delay will serve to improve things.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, I walked away from this one twice.

Did you ever wish you didn’t press publish, or send?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

All Over the Place

I clocked a slow mile-and-a-half strolling with a friend and her elderly mother early today before spending a few hours writing, um, I mean practicing. Then I accepted an unexpected invitation to walk again--a three mile power walk this time.

Now it’s late. I’m low on blog topics so I thought I’d tell you how, this morning, the ocean lit up yellow at the horizon under a focused spill of sun. Cracks heaved in the aging tar on the private road past the red “No Trespassing” sign where we debated, and sighed, before turning back from the view of hulking rocks that amble, like a smooth line of elephants winding to the sea.

Later, salt air off the cold ocean triggered goose bumps with the kind of dampness that travels on a forecast of rain. Inhaling a cinnamon sweetness from blossoms hanging like laundry on a flowering pink magnolia, we approached the low tide sludge in a saltwater pond where ducks offered a soft “plonk, plonk” as we trudged by.

There was more I was going to say, so much more, but I took a break and read the essay attached to the link below by Dean Wesley Smith. It’s off topic and I’ll warn you the post is long, but it’s good lesson and will be worth the time invested. Having read it myself, now I’m off for more “focused” practice.

Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Writers Don’t Need to Practice.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fantasy Failures

After my husband and I bought our first house, a run-down colonial in a rural town about 40 miles from where we live now, we spent our first winter cleaning and painting the inside. When spring arrived, we carted our enthusiasm outdoors, where we edged around rocks and roots and planted gardens to decorate the perimeter of the yard.

That house stood high on a hill above an s-shaped driveway that angled up along side a wooden retaining wall. Four unkempt juniper bushes with gangly branches crouched on top. To provide a face-lift to the area near the bushes, I dug 80 small holes, filled them with bone meal and planted tulip bulbs. We spent the winter anticipating the nodding pink blossoms that would bend in the breeze come spring, and it would have been lovely, I’m sure, if I hadn’t planted every single bulb upside down.

In April, a few stunted green shoots appeared. In my disgust, I never planted another autumn bulb at that location.

Fast forward several years to our current home. When our house was built in 1956, the plot was subdivided off of a next door property and was surrounded by woods. Over the years, previous owners cleared a bit; along the way, someone planted purple crocus bulbs which come up every year in the garden by the front porch, and bluebells, that poke up in patches by the garage back door. Once evidence that bulbs grow well here proved itself to me, I tucked away my disappointment from that earlier misadventure and decided to try again.

On a cold fall day early in our tenure, I squatted on my knees and planted row upon row of bulbs in a back garden we shaped in front of a granite boulder. Moving to the spot behind the back patio, I planted more. Later, I dug another supply of bulbs into the earth packed on top of the natural stone step beneath our huge ledge. The gray rock would be a perfect backdrop for a vibrant spring planting.

Mind you, all the tubers went in right-side-up this time, but nonetheless, in April, a pathetic arrangement of dwarf-looking tulips raised their shriveled heads out back, and those were the plants that managed to bloom at all. Below the ledge, a bushy crop of ferns appeared in place of my tulips. “I’m done.” I announced. “I’ll never plant bulbs again!”

Here in New England though, our winding streets are lined with tumbling stone walls. About this time each year, it seems like every sunny location hosts clumps of daffodils in front of these winding rivers of granite rock; the yellow blossoms bob and weave, shouting out the news of spring as they bounce in the freshening breeze. Loving the county feel to these casual gardens, two years ago I gave it one last try, spending an afternoon planting bulbs that should have emerged in clumps of blue-grape hyacinths and jonquils around our front light post.

Again I spent the winter looking forward to the bright yellow show that would perform for us each time we pulled into the driveway, but unbeknownst to me, this time the fat squirrels that nestle in the pine trees around us snacked well during the cool winter months.

It’s been almost 25 years since we purchased our first house. I planted eighty bulbs there, and nearest I can figure, I’ve planted about 250 around this yard. Here is what I have to show for it.

Posted by Picasa

So tell me. Isn’t that the most wonderful daffodil you have ever seen?

What are your worst gardening nightmares?

Monday, April 5, 2010

"Watch it Wiggle..." I'd Rather Not.

Oh folks.

As a result of the fun and success of yesterday, sitting outside on the warm patio with family, the awesome ham, the yummy potatoes, the delicious asparagus, my windows that sparkle, the floors I dusted by hand with a cloth, and my house that is spring clean, I am tired, tired, tired. So, this morning I thought I’d extend my long weekend, at least as far as blog posting goes, because the idea of conjuring up a creative post made my brain hurt. But the esteemed JP at Where Sky Meets Ground, bailed me out yet again, by offering up the “It’s like we are Soul Mates” Award, which gave me food for thought, if you will.

This jumping off place helped because the rules for this little prize are to make up something (preferably inoffensive) about the people you send it to, and to link to the people you gave it to and link back to the original award post, which is right about here.

But before I pass it on, you have to read what JP wrote about me, because in his creativity it seems as if he peered inside and exposed a little horror from my childhood soul--his fantasy sounded so much like a cheerful tease from my brother, that I hiccuped a bit as I read:

“Liza from Middle Passages has an irrational fear of green jelly beans. To keep her fear in check, every Easter and Christmas she makes a wonderful green jelly bean tart which all her friends rave about.”

OK, so here is the thing. JP was off by one letter. Green jelly beans, well, I consider them marginal, but green Jello? I hate it.

My mother, generally an accomplished cook, had a minor failing in the kitchen, in that she liked all thing gelatinous, including aspic (which I call "asp-yick" and you can use your imagination to come up with another, rhyming and less suitable-for-PG-audiences description), and Jello. To this day, the thought of green Jello makes me wrinkle up my nose. All these years later, it remains toward the top of the list as one of my most irrational, stomach churning, feed-it-to-the-dog-but-we-didn't-have-one-so-deposit-it-into-your-napkin dinner dilemmas. For crying out loud, I even eat Brussels sprouts now if I have to. But green Jello? Shoot me now.

This aversion began way back, when, in some Good Housekeeping 1960’s nightmare, Mom began slicing squares of the vile stuff that she had “enhanced” via canned pear halves suspended in the middle, and plopping them onto lettuce leaves. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’d slather a dollop of mayonnaise on top of each serving and have the nerve to call the wiggling mess a salad. Can you imagine? And in our house, we had to try EVERYTHING before we were excused and I am so. not. a. green. Jello. girl. Let's just say that there were more than a few table-leg kicking late nights in my past.

Therefore JP, just so you understand what a good job you did, um, embellishing, let me tell you this. If a tart made from anything resembling the green slime showed up on my table, or any other table I happen to be sitting at, I'm quite clear that there would be no solution other than to make sure my elbow slipped--as in: “Oh, dear, did I do that?”

Now that we have aired that topic, I’d like to pass this award to:

Bridget at JB Chicoine Aspiring Novelist and JB Chicoine Unsupervised and at Large. Bridget fell out of a tree house when she was ten and broke both her wrists. While convalescing, she learned how to paint by holding the brush in her teeth. Recently she was downhill skiing as a part of the US Ski Team, when she broke her wrists again. She is currently editing her first novel by typing with her toes.

Tricia from Talespinning. Tricia swims two miles in the ocean every day, regardless of the weather, tide or wave-height, and has an unspoken desire to become a mermaid. Oh, and don’t tell anyone, but once long ago she saved one (a mermaid, I mean) that had beached herself on a sandbar off the coast of California.

Tabitha at Through My Eyes. Tabitha has taken a month off from posting on her blog to work on her memoir, but really she is living in a tent on an uninhabited portion of Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef, where bathing suits are optional.

Carol at Carol’s Prints. Carol decided that yoga was too dull. She has enrolled in tap dancing class and has discovered she’s a prodigy. She’ll have a starring role in the spring dance recital and has been awarded a place in the world’s most exclusive dance company. She will be going on tour starting next month.

Thanks JP for thinking of me again! Once more your timing was impeccable. How do you do that anyway?

What is your worst childhood food nightmare?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dripping Dry

A lot of folks are wringing themselves out here in New England, so we consider ourselves fortunate. In spite of the fact that our house sits on, and below, granite ledge, after a 10-inch deluge two weeks ago, thanks to vigilance and three, count 'em three pumps, a sopping wall-to-wall carpet in the basement was the worst of our worries. In fact, we felt pretty pleased with our clean rug once we returned the steamer we rented to purge the remains of that nuisance.

Of course, on Monday it began to rain again, dumping a total of seven inches this time. Eighteen homemade sand bags later we succeeded in diverting the lake of water that formed on our patio just as the leaking window well began to fill up again. When the rain stopped two days later we surveyed the 2'x4' wet spot on the basement carpet and, well, that breeze that brushed your ear yesterday morning? That was my sigh of relief. If you've been watching the news, you know it could have been Oh. So. Much. Worse. In the eighteen years we've lived here, there hasn't been a winter Nor'easter or a raging blizzard that has scared me as much as a March downpour on saturated ground.

So, I'm grateful we've made it to April and in honor of that momentous feat, I’m going to take a long weekend. I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes I borrowed from The Artist's Way, as well as wishes for a joyful Easter if you celebrate, and a lovely weekend if you don’t.

Be really whole and all things will come to you.” Lao-tzu

We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way.” John Holt/Educator

“Learning is movement from moment to moment.” J. Krishnamurti