Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Year of Questions

~ click image to make biggerer ~

Where do butterflies go when Wind blusters and Snow flurries?
 How does Love see its Shadow?
  Who crowns Mother, reaching for Life?
   What is at the center of a Cackleberry?
    Why do Blossoms tickle your Sweet Spot?
     When was the last time you swam like Aquaman?
     When Sparklers burst and dance, do you say, “Ah”?
    Why is Sirius such a sweaty, oppressive tyrant?
   What falls in Harvest hues from the sky?
  Who is Boo, Cackle and friend Jack?
 How grateful can Tom really be?
Where does your little Starlight pay worship to the garish Sun?

~ Inspired by Calendar of Metaphor: Poetry Prompts at Poets&Writers 12.29.15

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Feather Beds

There’s nothing like sleeping in a freezing room snuggled under a feather bed. When I was a child visiting my grandparents and great-grandparents on my mother’s side in Hallein and Oberalm, Austria, respectively, it was cold, especially in Winter. Their apartments were made of granite quarried from the Alps and heated by wood-burning stoves. Each apartment had only one stove and those were in the kitchens which doubled as the communal living space. Bedrooms were not heated and only occupied at night.

At bedtime, you’d rush into the bedroom, rush into your jammies and rush under the thick, poofy feather bed. The windows would be open because you expelled poison gases as you slept so airing out the room was necessary for your health. The air turned your nose, forehead and cheeks red if you dared poke your head out from under the covers. There was no getting out of bed and fooling around. It was just too damn cold. I’ve never slept so well as I did in those freezing chambers.

In the morning, you flung back the heavy covers, slipped your feet into felted slippers and ran, hell bent, to the outhouse that hung off of the side of the building on the second story. Then, just as quickly, you ran into the kitchen for a wave of warmth and some scalded milk. You might need to pluck a tiny feather that had escaped its casing from your hair.

I’ve tried using down comforters in our heated homes and they were always too hot to sleep under. Even with the thermometer turned way down like we have it, sometimes set at 62 degrees, it’s not the same if the windows aren’t open. And I’m not keeping the windows open at night and invite murders to come kill me while I’m dreaming.  

My favorite pillow was an Army issued down pillow, made of blue and white striped Army duck fabric. That pillow went everywhere with me all the way through college. It was perfect: always stayed the right temperature - never getting warm because as you all know, a pillow should stay cool on your face - and it squished into any form needed to get comfortable. I finally had to get rid of it because it just stank.

I must have a thing for feathers. I see them everywhere. I’m sure they are everywhere for you, too, but do you notice them? Dove or pigeon feathers are always in my path around my neighborhood. I collect them and tuck them into books and notepads. I think the predatory birds we have in the area are feasting on the pigeons. “Squab.” I have a few red-tailed hawk feathers that would make great quill pens if I could bring myself to use them in such a dishonorable manner. Instead, I keep them in a pen holder near my ink pots and pretend.

Last Friday was my birthday and my husband gave me a card with a feather in it (not because he knows I have a feather fetish but because I still tickle his fancy.)

Monday, October 05, 2015

Rumble, Roar and Clap

nothing stays the same
monotonous hours thunder
across my bed sheets

Many people I know, some closely related to me, are afraid of thunderstorms, .

There’s a story in our family about my uncle who had a dairy farm in Beech Flats, Pennsylvania. An outdoor man, his face wind-kissed, his hands as work-worn as his denim shirt and pants, he lived in a cotton candy pink house. He spent most of his days on the rolling, green mountains or in his shadowed barn. Except during a storm. One such time, he was sitting on the toilet, doing his number two business when a thunderstorm reared its ugly head. A strike hit the ground, entered the water pipes and shot his ass out through the open bathroom door and across the house into the livingroom. It split the throne in half. My mother claimed to have witnessed the incident.

We were forever forbidden to go potty in a thunderstorm. And no talking on the phone, either. My mother’s fear of lightning was pathological. She’d call us at the onset of the meteorological event to warn us of impending doom and spend thirty minutes telling us to stay safe.

I have no such fears. In fact, I love savage storms.  

One exciting night, I was in a Freightliner tractor in a thunderstorm in New York City. The truck was not tethered to a loaded trailer, so it rocked and bucked in the wind as bursts of current flashed around me. I tingled from my toes to the ends of my hair.

I spent many of my formative years with my  Oma in Hallein, Austria. Her apartment sat along the Salzach river at the base of the Dürrnberg. Like so many buildings in the town, it was built from the stone of the surrounding alpine massifs. Walls were eighteen inches thick. Window sills were more like seats.

When thunderstorms hit, I looked out the unshuttered window towards the mountain and the sound would vibrate all around, coming up through the ground and entering the building, finding affinity with long-lost bits torn off over five hundred years ago. The air moved from the noise and the river would fill up with brown, churning, violent water. The wind smelled of ozone and mud and I lost myself in the awesome violence.

I saw the lightning as an assault of light and color. Flashes of white would form as streaks of rainbow color on the inside of my eyelids. The sky and my retina’s canvas were washed in deep, pulsating purples so dark they resembled an oil slick sliced by the abrupt up stroke of electricity zig-zaggy its way from the ground into the heavens. I shook and vibrated, my mouth filled with the metallic flavor of blood and my nostrils flared with the tang of ozone.

Ironically, the noise did not register. I didn’t hear the crack of a whip or shot of a gun. I never had to cover my ears with my hands. Instead, the echoes traveled from rocky peak to granite tower, rolling down slate slopes and swollen streams to disgorge boulders and jolts where I stood, quivering and trembling.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Do You See the Monster Hiding in the Grass?

The world is still a weird place, despite my efforts to make clear and perfect sense of it. ~ Hunter S. Thompson

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Things Could Be Worse

Reincarnation is a popular idea in some circles. I've written about past life regression before, most recently back in July and further back in 2006.

Just a brief reminder: I read Tarot cards. One of the things I can do in a reading is explore who you were in previous incarnations. I've done this for others and myself, coming up with stories of lives lived in other bodies and places. We can change gender and culture and time periods.

We break away an essence of ourselves from the collective soul or spirit when we need a certain experience. We manifest a body, test our fortitude and then go back from whence we came.

Unlike so many people I've met, I was never Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth or King Arthur. People like to think they are special. It seems I've never been famous or important although I have thrown a wrench in other people's plans.

In dark age Britain, serfs were tied to the land. They were born, lived and died in the same small place. A serf's role in life was fixed and ridged and people knew where they stood. You did what your father and his father before him did. If your grand-father tilled the soil, you tilled the soil. Very few people broke the mold.

Around the year 900 AD, in Saxon England, I was a male serf born to a family of cow herders. While my grandfather and my father milked cows, father flaunted tradition by naming me Nod. Even so, I milked cows. I herded them to their pastures. I followed the plan until I saw the falconer at work when I was eight. From that point on, I got in trouble for ignoring my tasks in favor of watching the falconer. I even managed to assist him on occasion. I had a gift, a talent, with the birds.

Our Lord loved falcon hunting so much, that when the falconer died unexpectedly of a fever, leaving no son or apprentice, the Overlord raised me up. I was thirteen. I was in heaven.

Until three years later when I met the Lord's daughter, Leofflaed and we fell in love.

She, like most daughters of the time, was betrothed to an older man in furtherance of her father's ambitions. I was drunk on my success in rising above my station. I could do anything. I could save her.

We made plans to run away. Neither of us knew where exactly we would go as we had never been beyond the borders of our manor. We packed food and clothing and prepared to escape on foot. We left one dark night in June. We were quickly caught.

Since she was defiled, she was purged, then sent to a cloistered convent where she died in childbirth. My son became a rather important priest.

I was dragged back to the manor, strapped to a large log with a hawk caged on my stomach. I was pecked to death over the period of four days as an example to my fellow man.

* * *

LEOFFLÆD - f (Anglo-Saxon) Beloved beauty.
NOÐ - m (Anglo-Saxon) Bold, daring.

Friday, October 02, 2015


We have a ghost in our house. 

I kid you not.

I used to see and hear things all of the time when I was younger. I had imaginary and invisible friends. Of course, I had no idea they weren't real because they were real. Around the age of fifteen, I started ignoring the sights and sounds. I was deathly afraid I had schizophrenia. Denial is a perfectly good coping mechanism. They were always still there - I'd see them out of the corner of my eye as they traipsed through the room, or they would call out to each other when I was home alone. For the next fifteen years, I refused to acknowledge their place in the world but they refused to be locked away like your strange Aunt Myrtle.

Now, these things, these beings just are. 

When we bought this house, April 1, 2006, and moved in, I knew there was an old man who came with the building. I didn't really think anything of it. He was just there. He hangs out mostly by the front door and by the refrigerator. He's the originally owner who died in the house. He has wispy white hair, stubble on his chin and is dressed in well-worn denim work clothes, loose, baggy and comfortable. He doesn't speak so I don't know his name. I guess I could find out if I asked people in the neighborhood but its not necessary for either of us that I know what he was called when he lived here.

I had confirmation of his existence because my dog, Cody, would stare at the spots whenever he came to visit. My grandson has also expressed his awareness of the ghost.

While I find these experiences fascinating, I haven't yet figured out what good seeing and hearing things that aren't there is to anyone. No one asks me to send them on, even if I believed there is a different place to go. I know there's all kinds of places and times, but I'm not a Ghost Whisperer. And I think they are perfectly capable of going wherever they want. Existence is very flexible. And I haven't run into anyone filled with animosity for me, like they want to take over my soul or something. So, I've never been sure of what I should do with this information except to just know about it.

It has just dawned on me as I write this post that I have never tried to engage any of these beings. Like the wasps that buzzed around me as I played in the North Carolina sand, they were just there. They never approached me with their stingers drawn. Perhaps I should make an effort to speak to one of them. I wouldn't even have to perform a ritual to call one up since they're already here. I don't even know if they are all dead people or if some of them are like demons. I could ask. What's the worst that could happen? 

My ears hear: Spirit in the Night by Bruce Springsteen

Thursday, October 01, 2015

31 Days of Weird

Rabbit, Rabbit.

There's this thing called Write31Days where you write and post everyday in October based on some theme of your choice. I hesitate to make another everyday commitment as I've pretty much accepted the fact that I suck at that sort of thing. As soon as I say I'm going to do something everyday, the rebel rears its ugly head and you can count on the fact that it ain't gonna happen. Hey, but I'm nothing if not a sucker for punishment and soul searing disappointment. Let the fun begin.

I'm going to write on weird things I've experienced. I figure this will be a good theme for October. There will be no editing except for spelling errors, if I catch them. I'm shooting for a stream of conscientiousness kind of thing.

Maybe you will have experienced some of the things I will tell you about. If so, great, neither of us are alone. If you haven't and you think I deserve a white padded room, please remember I'm a writer and I'm lying.

I'm going to call these things essays. I like the idea of being an essayist. I don't really know what an essay is but like poetry, I find the concept romantic and I wanna do it even though I haven't a clue as to what's going on.

Since the bunnies in my drawing are dead from an arrow through their hearts, today's theme will be on one aspect of death.

My mother died almost a year ago (11-11-14 at 10:10.) While her passing has done many unexpected things to my head that I never could have predicted, it has highlighted to me with staggering force that we are not our bodies.

She was so uncomfortable and in pain before she left us. Air rasped through her. Her body was heavy with gravity, compressing into itself to the point where her physical self no longer even looked like her. She drew us to herself like a lodestone. She couldn't have been more of this world. And then she expelled and she was gone.

What was left in the hospital bed was so clearly not her. She wasn't in the room. She wasn't in her casket at the funeral home and she wasn't placed in her grave. She was gone.

On Tuesday of this week, she was back. She has stopped by several times since she went away last November. Around 09.30 two days ago, she stood just behind me, placed her hand on my left shoulder (out of character since we rarely shared good touch) and whispered in my right ear, "Just let it all go." (also, very out of character - if you knew my mother, she never let anything go.)

She has stopped by about a dozen times. If I knew I would write about this, I'd have kept better count. Her essence is materially with me and then quite clearly gone. Each time her message is the same: nothing here matters as much as I think it does.

My ears hear: Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
(pay particular attention to the 53 second mark)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Happy Birthday, Erika

Happy Birthday, Snoogs-of-my-heart.

How the hell did you become 29? You’re really old. I love you, anyway.

More importantly, I like you.

You are so passionate in your relationships and your approach to life: open and forthright and genuine. You’re always trying to bring everyone together in a figurative group hug.

You were born two weeks early and have been impatient ever since. Impatient to fix things, impatient to help others, impatient to find answers (I have a question…)

You are ferocious, strong, smart and sassy. You are a true Shield Maiden.

I am proud you are my daughter.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Pitch Perfect Perfection

I’m answering a bunch of questions that are supposed to make you fall in love with me. Be careful. This could be dangerous. After all, we know how adorable I already am.

We are on day four and here’s the question:

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

My perfect day would start with a week of rest and relaxation: lots of sleep and naps and no voices, no questions, no cooking or laundry or anything remotely looking like responsibilities and no news. A week of completely nothing necessary. And after all of that, these three things still look good:

  1. Sleeping without disturbance for 24 hours.
  2. Reading without interruption for 24 hours.
  3. Eating ice cream and key lime pie for 24 hours and the calories don’t count.

Then there’s this:

Part One

It would be sunny. The air would be clear, as if you’ve just cleaned your glasses of smudges you’ve gotten used to over several days and voila, sharp and crisp vision. There’d be a light breeze flowing consistently, enough that you’d feel it in your hair. It would be 74 degrees. There’d be no pesky bugs, but a variety of colorful butterflies and big fat bumble bees would be flittering around bright, blousy flowers along with iridescent hummingbirds.

I’d wake up, no alarm going off - just getting up when I feel like it - I’d stumble into the kitchen and someone would hand me a fresh hot cup of black coffee in my favorite mug. When I was seated and relaxed and immersed in my book, he’d bring me an ice cold bottle of plain seltzer.

He (could be a she but I’m not playing the he/she game) would say, “I thought you might like this. Go out on the porch, drink your coffee and read.”

There’d be no sounds except those natural ones previously mentioned. Forty-five minutes would pass and he would bring me another cup of coffee without saying a word. Part of my perfect day includes people not interrupting me while I am so obviously reading.
After I have been awake for about three hours, he would bring me breakfast which is two crepe filled with seedless, blackberry jam and whipped cream cheese, fresh pineapple chunks and a few pieces of perfectly crisp bacon. An extremely cold glass of Tang would not go amiss.
I’d need at least another hour following this for digestion. A perfect day involves no rushing and no questions of any sort and people doing things for me without asking what I want. I haven’t any idea what time it is because there’d be no clock watching either.

See, here’s the thing: I know people think it’s good to ask people what they want but when you ask me a question, I have to think of all possible outcomes, eventualities and all alternate histories before I can make a decision or give an answer. It’s exhausting and the reason why I usually say whatever you’re having or doing. And linear time perplexes me. Shoving myself into a clock regulated system makes my brain hurt. To me, time is like a big solid sphere that warps and moves. If I don’t pay attention, I often forget where exactly I am on the artificial time line of a day.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

One Ringy Dingy

Lots of questions being answered over the next month. Go find out the whys and wherefores.

I hate phones. I always have.

They’re very intrusive. If I want to talk to you, I’d call you. Or better yet, I’d see you in person. Doesn’t mean I don’t like you. It means I don’t like phones. I’m not much of a chatter and I don’t like small talk. Plus, I need all of the sensory information you get from an in-person meeting. I need to see what you do with your eyes and how you move your body so I can read between the lines. Words and tone of voice alone can be very deceptive. Yeah, I’m always looking for lies.

I feel very disconnected when talking on the phone, almost like an out-of-body experience.

My mother used to talk for hours - like three hours in one sitting to just one person - and I couldn’t comprehend it even though I watched and heard it happening. What the hell could they talk about for three hours. It made my brain bleed. I sart to zone out after about four minutes. Just ask my daughter.

Phones are tools for a specific purpose. I have a question or a request, I call, I get my answer. Chow.


Really important conversations should not take place over the phone.

I think the first time I ever answered the phone was when I was about eight. I wasn’t supposed to answer the phone, but my mother was busy, so she told me to answer it. It was my Austrian uncle who told me (in German, of course and I’m not sure why that matters) to tell my mother that my great-grandfather was dead. From that point on, I’ve associated the phone with bad news.

I can let a phone ring forever and it wouldn’t bother me. I prefer to keep them unplugged or silenced. It was easier to get away with that before the advent of cell phones being organically attached to our bodies.

I like texting. But that involves writing, so, no, duh, on that.

On to the actual question for the day:

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

I don’t specifically rehearse a specific phone call per se. I rehearse all conversations, long before I have them, long before I even know I’m going to have a conversation. I’ve got conversations with everyone I know going on in my head all of the time. Maybe that’s why I run out of small talk.

More likely it has to do with my immense fear of the unknown. I think it’s a real phobia for me. I can’t stand not knowing something. If I’ve done something once, I’m good and I can do it over and over again. I’ve done things just so I can tell myself, “You’ve done this, so you don’t have to ever worry about it again.”

I think there might be something wrong with me.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Fame: I Want To Live Forever

~click image to make biggerer~

I’m working on falling in love with myself this month. I’ll be answering the 36 questions from an experiment done examining how people fall in love.

Question 2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

The short answers are yes and as an author and artist.

The longer answers are as follows:

I don’t want to be famous like a Kardashian or a Trump, famous, infamous, just to have attention or to have my name bandied about on people’s lips. I’m thinking more along the lines of Anne Rice or Stephen King or JK Rowling. I want to be known for entertaining stories in novel form. Stories that can take you away from the everyday. Stories people will read in future generations. I’d like to write essays, too, on any number of topics that strike my fancy, mostly because we all know my opinion is so valuable. I also want to create various pieces of art in just any medium imaginable: paperdoll puppet shows, drawings, paintings, collages, dolls, beaded hair decorations, hand-sewn clothes and costumes and notebooks.

Monday, August 31, 2015

To Fall In Love With Anyone, (Even Yourself?,) Do This

Not sure how this will work out but I thought I’d try this exercise with myself. It’s meant for a couple but you’re supposed to love yourself first, right?

Dr. Aaron did an experiment where two strangers spent time together, asking and answering questions, then they looked into eachother’s eyes for four minutes. Within six months, they were married. They had fallen in love.

I’m going to answer the thirty-six questions over the next thirty-six days and then stare at myself in the mirror. Oh, joy.

Question 1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

There are so many answers to this question. I’m quite moody, so the answer depends on my frame of mind and even on what I feel like having to eat.

It would have to be someone I’d feel comfortable around, who likes to debate weird topics, and yet is ok with long silences, maybe someone who likes to pick at a variety of different foods as opposed to having an actual dinner, someone who likes to laugh and finds the oddity of life humorous. A comedian would be good. I’m a sucker for anyone who makes me laugh.

I always thought it would be fun to be an ex-pat living a bohemian sort of life in Paris, partaking of the green fairy and screaming politics while smoking killed us before we reached forty. I don’t mind the cold, so living in an attic with only a mattress on the floor would be heavenly. No bugs, though. Oops. Just popped the fantasy.

So, cushions on the floor, a roaring fire, candles, green olives and gin and tonics while reading books. And there’d be a thunderstorm raging.

And I can’t think of the exact right person to join me. There are bits and pieces of several people but not the perfect person. Seriously, I can’t think of anyone. WTF?

Always when I give up control … boom, it comes to me.

It would be someone like Chris Pratt. I saw him on the Graham Norton show and he had this boyish, self deprecating humor. He was funny and he told good stories. I really like being entertained. There are a few “real” people I think might be the same but I’m not going to actually name them. I wasn’t born yesterday.

It’s interesting that all possible candidates are male.

For some reason, I think the question implies that I’d be inviting the person into my home. I like to be alone at home. I can’t get enough alone at home. I don’t mind having people around if they can be quiet or if they must speak, it has to be something clever and interesting, nothing about mundane, everyday topics, like bills or groceries or laundry. I don’t want to talk about kids or cats or kitchens. I prefer kings and queens and castles.

Give me philosophy and science and psychology and the vagaries of the human spirit. Or potty humor.

Sunday, August 02, 2015


On July 9, 2015, I said I wanted to do an art project a month. July's project was a collage - paper and glue.

I knew I wanted to use the Sycamore bark I had collected (we've lots of the trees on our street.) I thought I wanted to use drink cans, but changed my mind after I began cutting them up. I found a metal screen the lawn company threw out and that became my canvas.

Crypsis is the term for a being's ability to blend into its surrounding.

Final components: glue, metal screen, paper butterflies and dragonflies, glass stones, Sycamore bark, glass beads, a dried flower, a dries leaf and a chunk of wood.

Here's the finished product:

~ click images to make biggerer ~

Thursday, July 23, 2015

i went analoging ~ what did you do?

~ click image to make biggerer ~
July 21, 2008

I was AFK (Away From Keyboard) for several days, nine days to be exact. I managed twenty-two days of writing in a row before I went awol. I can’t decide if I should start over (since I didn’t do any writing - with pen and paper the old-fashioned way as I intended) or if I should pick up where I left off.

I’m voting for the latter since it’s less punitive and it recognizes my accomplishment. So, today will be Day 23 and moving forward not looking behind.

I was in the mountains of Pennsylvania about two hours North and West of the Poconos. This is where my father was born and raised. My family was there for our annual reunion. We’ve been doing this for as long as we’ve been in the States. My father built a log cabin in the town where he was born. This was the first year we were there without my mother. Everyone expected a more peaceful and enjoyable few days. It didn’t work out that way. We were all still miserable and I am searching for the reason why.

I cleaned out the cabin of bags of pillows and blankets and clothes my mother had collected. There should never be that much fabric and stuffing laying around in an enclosed building in a dark wooded and damp area. I found ten unopened toothbrushes and unlabeled pills. The sleeping loft is now more breathable and I don’t have to be afraid of scurrying little critters sneaking around while I sleep.

I’m tired of complaining. I’m tired of yelling and whining and criticisms. I’m tired of people unable to be responsible for their own entertainment. If I don’t get some alone time soon, my head might explode. I don’t want anyone to want anything from me.

I have no idea where I was going with any of this. If you’ve read this far, I’m sorry because this just sucks. Tomorrow, I will go back to the story I started in the last two entries, the one about the killer tea kettle. Go back and read those instead of this claptrap. I could dedicate myself to keeping alive all forms of archaic sayings.

I bet you haven’t noticed that I started every paragraph with the letter ‘i’. Go back and check. That wasted a second of your life. The next one hundred words will not be any more entertaining than the last four hundred so go do something else. i won’t mind. When I’m done here, I’m going to google ‘why did my family gathering go wrong’ and see if I get some help figuring out the problem. It really bothers me that nine people can’t have a few enjoyable days together.

I didn’t even take any pictures while I was on my really enjoyable adventure so the one above is from where I was but it’s from quite a few years ago. No reading, no writing, no pictures, no relaxation, no good conversation, no sightseeing - yeah, I’m calling my five vacation days a total bust.