Category Archives: Egg Tooth

“There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together”

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I think I may be losing my touch, literally and figuratively. First off, back in the day (when I was a practicing psychotherapist) I paid some attention as I chose my words. I also stayed pretty focused on the other person. Twice now, in recent months, while my editor is what- sleeping? checking into senior housing? I’ve let words come out that, upon reflection, left me wishing I’d bit my tongue off instead.

The first time, I got into sort of a hurt feeling pissing match with a friend but the point is, she was and is again, one of my very dearest friends. Many years, book club, travel together, all of that. Someone I really love. But life got in the way and with no other excuse than that, I hurt her feelings deeply. The worst part was that for a number of weeks, I didn’t even get it and felt like I was the one entitled to be all hurt. Nursing that along, you know, while I was busy pushing away reflections on my culpability. About the time you start scoring points in your head for what was said, what wasn’t said, who has bigger worries, who is more entitled to their hurt- well, that’s just so much crap and excuse and doesn’t fly with real friendship. I love this woman and we pushed our way through it. The pain we each felt before that happened and the relief we have felt since reminds me daily of how lucky I am to have such a friend. It also reminds me that, in fact, I have a number of them, and I should be very careful about protecting such valuable gifts.

Then yesterday, in a much more benign but still insensitive and thoughtless way, I left a sort of cynical-trying-to-be-funny remark on a friend’s facebook post. It had nothing to do with what was going on with her and was totally glib and stupid. I felt crummy about that, big time. I really really don’t want to become an inconsiderate klutz with me at the center of my world. That would be lonely, dreary and a major bore.

Later in the afternoon, Rich and I went out to celebrate our anniversary; we saw a fun action film and then went to a quiet romantic dinner in Gulfport. Over dinner we talked about the evolution of our relationship and our love, the kids-always the kids, how they are growing and what we hope and wish for them. We reflected on all their strengths and the things that cause them to stumble and then we got back to remembering our life as children and the things that shaped our personalities. Rich asked me if I had always been a person who enjoyed such good friendships and communicated so comfortably with others. I hadn’t discussed any of the first part of this post with him at anytime; he was making an observation based on our company dinner the night before and then a visit from a new friend in the morning. I felt sort of smacked by his question and recalled a childhood where, absolutely, children were to be seen (if it was not possible to hide them) and never heard. And later, a childhood that had relatively little to do with the children and everything to do with how the grownups were feeling or behaving. And an adolescence of total geekiness-awkward and clumsy and shy. That persisted through my first few years of college away from home and then, I sort of changed. Although I’m still more shy than people think.

I’m not sure what changes people, even after so many years of trying to help people change- their approach, their perspectives, their responses. I think that probably becoming a mother changed me the most and secondly, becoming a therapist. Becoming Rich’s wife fairly late in life has changed me in the way that feeling solidly and securely loved and in love increases your patience, your tolerance, calms you down.

And finally, last night I was trying to knit on a lace shawl I started with baby fine mohair as fine as a hair on your head. This is utter madness. I probably won’t live long enough even if my right hand wasn’t screaming at me with tendonitis and yet it’s so beautiful, knit up. I went to make a scrabble move against friend, Kenju, and my right finger yowled. So I typed in a google search for tendonitis and found the usual hysterical bulletin board type responses where people had achieved effective relief after 8 years of agonizing pain with cervical spine fusion and lots of oxycodone. I suspect the cure for me is a closer check on my words, written on Facebook and spoken aloud and this may be Somebody’s way of poking me about becoming lazy, thoughtless and self- indulgent. Or, it’s just the goddamn lace.lace

“Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with,” the Mock Turtle replied,…

…”and then the different branches of Arithmetic Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision” (Lewis Carroll)

Ya, I’ve enrolled in the College of  Lifetime Learning. What a time. I don’t know what the heck is going on but our life is in transition and as far as I’m concerned, well, change is good?  You go first. Ultimately, we are trying to narrow in on our new, old, last home in the mountains outside of Asheville but getting there is the challenge. I am in Florida, where we will continue to spend winters and Rich is in Chicago, which is temporary and we are apart far too long. Phone conversations are making me cranky. Skype is better but then he mostly wants to see the cats so I spend my time plonking felines on the keyboard, in front of the computer camera. The number lock bumps away.

So, where were we? I had my 5th Blog-o-versary or whatever you call it while I was otherwise distracted. I think that’s akin to the 7- year itch in marriage. Ho-hum. Thank you, thank you, thank you one and all for your friendship, lo these many posts. Sometimes you are my sustenance. Other times just pals. I’m missing my pals very much right now. Hoss. Sigh. One of my blog friends, Cathy, came up to visit and we had a lovely time. That woman gives so much more than she gets. I suspect she’s one of those truly kind and loving people who get through giving. Sometimes, I’m like that. Not so much lately.

Keri is coming more than 500 miles to see me. Keri and I don’t know each other ‘live’ very well at all- a brief tete-a-tete around a campfire while she nursed a migraine and I told stories maniacally to overcome my social anxiety. It was so much fun we really fell for each other and now we’re going to sit quietly in the pleasure of each others company and take beautiful early morning beach walks at Ft. DeSoto where she has family history.

I went to see that body exhibit at MOSI in Tampa. That was gross and interesting. Actually, it was highly intricate and interesting and not quite so gross now that they are using donor bodies as opposed to dead Chinese prisoners (ala the first world tour of this production). I took this photo with my cell phone, so, you know…

 

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(Why is her brain on top of her skull? This is some transcendental message not yet covered at the College of Lifetime Learning.)

I’ve been doing a lot of felting- made bunches of little horned owls and donated them to the Wildlife Weekend at Boyd Hill this past Saturday and Sunday. And I’ll be teaching some workshops coming up- I’m excited about those.

Wildlife Weekend was a smashing success and hot. What do you Floridians DO about this heat, come, say August? Because it’s already taking it’s toll on me. Driving the tram repeatedly around the park with hordes of people was a bit fatiguing. We were giving free tours every hour so it was the high speed version: “On your right is a 900 pound gator, a great blue heron and a black water snake. Quick, look left and you’ll see a fine specimen of a strangler fig with the palm virtually lost in the middle. Look down, quick! that’s coyote scat. Over to your far right is an osprey nest with two osprey. Here we have a series of gopher tortoise burrows, with the typical apron. Shhhh, there! 5 feet off the trail is a gopher tortoise! This area is where we had a controlled burn last November…okay, get off, don’t forget any of your belongings, have a swell day at the park and don’t forget to say hello to Spirit, our Bald Eagle. Next! Start boarding at the back!”

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(Here was our table at the aviary with two of my fellow volunteer buddies and there’s Spirit in the background)

Everyone seemed to enjoy these tours but me- I prefer to linger and discuss, but this was sort of like total immersion in native Florida and when I wasn’t doing the speed tour I was wandering around looking at Seacoast Sea Bird Rescue, Audubon of Florida, Bat Rescue, Florida Native Plants, and numerous other organizations that had booths and tables.

nativeplant(These kind people gave me a free Cypress tree and a free Red Cedar. With luck, they’ll grow, oh 40-70 feet tall. Great.)

I learned a lot. When I was supposed to be working. For a while I was in charge of the chicken/ meal worm concession but that was pretty close to the bat display which I found more intriguing. I sort of abandoned my post.

waddles(Waddles decided to cover for me…)

waddlesandpenny(And then she invited Penny, and pretty soon they were joined by two others. They figured out how to open the lid and then? I was out of a job. Ta-da!)

I was also helping sell the screech owl boxes we had cut and built the weekend before, with proceeds to the aviary. I gave the raptor talk. I wandered around showing the king snake. I gave aviary tours. 

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(Mostly, I fell in love with this guy and then I bought a bat house to go with the owl house for the Asheville house. I didn’t ask Rich because he could have rightfully asked, “Yes, but can we live in it?”

Have you ever had a time in your life when you felt driven to distraction? Right.

“Time for the weather report. It’s cold out folks. Bonecrushing cold.”

Northern Exposure was a great show with some wonderful dialogue. I am heading back to Chicago at 6 am for a couple days of zoo seminar and the business of life and then I’ll return here to sunny St. Petersburg until April. I’m leaving my woolly projects…

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my quirky felted slippers…

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McCloud…

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Sophie…

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and Hannibal to enjoy the warmth and sunshine in my absence. See you in a couple…

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My winter of solitude begins

coontie(Alive and well in Florida)

Did I mention that I will be mostly alone this winter, save the company of two fine cats? Rich’s work will keep him in Chicago so we will be long spells apart. For the three weeks before Christmas, this was sounding like a fine idea to me. I suppose I’m the only one of you who thinks the occasional marital hiatus is a good plan. Sometimes in the past, I’ve admitted to this kind of idea, thinking everybody must feel the same and then, much to my embarrassment, I find out it’s not true and you all are still like giddy newlyweds.  Anyway, just before Christmas he was, for the umpteenth time, at the “single most stressful’ point of his career and I was, for the umpteenth time, trying to figure which of his relatives I should send cards to while managing every single non- business aspect of our households and life and, well, things got a bit testy. And I thought, thank God, we’ll be getting a break from each other this winter, because familiarity breeds contempt as does underwear piled up on his side of the bed and a total inability to read mail. His absolute refusal to engage in any holiday cheer leaves me with all the fun of driving around in Chicago to stores I don’t want to be in buying gifts nobody needs and by the time Christmas comes, especially this year after that hellacious drive south, well. You get the picture. We were both a bit raw around the edges.

And then he was gone to the other side of the state for meetings this past week and six hours into that I was missing him. Just a little, until it was time for bed and then it was a whole lot. “I’ve got your back” came to mind and since I didn’t, literally, have his, I cried a bit and the f-ing cats couldn’t be bothered to come around and offer a little comfort. They’re on vacation and between nocturnal genes and Florida weather, they’ve already switched to sleeping all day and yard prowling all night. Sometimes cats are a waste as pets.

So. Here I am. Bracing for, yet looking forward to a winter of peace and quiet. Alone. Without my main squeeze. Because I am seasonal, I usually take the initiative and let my Florida friends know I’m here. Then a winter social schedule kicks into gear with neighborhood porch parties, morning yoga, gardening outings. I’m co-chairing the garden club these next three months. We’ll have the big monthly neighborhood get-together at our house in March. I have good company scheduled to arrive here at various times during the winter. I could get very busy, especially if I unleash my gregarious side. And yet, right now, I’m more in touch with the quiet, loner part of my personality and really, that’s no small part.

I’m thinking of this as my Anne Morrow Lindbergh sort of winter, the one when she wrote Gifts from the Sea. Not that I’ll do anything like that, but time for contemplation is nice. It feels like the best of times to be still and move slowly, mull over where I’m at as I approach my seventh decade (ye gads. I’m still two years from sixty, but still…). I plan to attend yoga 3- 4 mornings a week and on the other mornings take an early beach walk along Ft. DeSoto. Grow the earth boxes. Eat well. Read. Work on my surface design efforts. Watch the Hannibals. (He’s here, calling for her. When she returns that wonderful hawk season will gear up in our live oak out front, with steamy mating dives, nest padding and stick throwing and, my personal favorite, rain showers of feathers and small bird carcasses, with the occasional snake bits). Ride my bicycle to City Produce and make lots and lots of salsa from the dollar bags of over ripe Florida tomatoes. Go to Saturday morning market.

hawk1(Meet Shadow, a beauty of a red-shouldered.)

This year one activity I’ll miss is working with the children at the Family Village. With changes in administrative personnel and funding cuts, that program, sadly, fell apart. Don’t ask me how they can let go of six competent and compassionate volunteers for want of one low level administrative assistant but so be it. (I’m calling this to the attention of my new President as soon as he has time to address the roll of volunteers in America). Instead, I’ll be volunteering my time and experience at the local nature preserve where I’ve already begun working with the birds of prey program. There are about a dozen raptors, none who can be released back, and a nice group of volunteers running the education program. For now, I’m in with the little Eastern Screech owls- a comical and wild looking pair who peer out at me from their side by side boxes as I pick up their casts, mutes and give them fresh water- and the red-shouldered hawks. They are a handsome, unafraid couple who look at me with great interest, especially the hands that might feed them. In a week, after a quick turn around to Chicago and a zoo program there, I will begin training to drive the tourist tram. You can see me, giving the talk, dodging the alligators and pointing out the snakes in my Tilley hat, right?

casts(Casts, collected for study. Squint and you can see the, um, baby chick.)

All the while, I’ll be missing Rich. He’s such a good heart and even though he’s pretty much consumed with his work at this point, in my good moments I understand and support all that. We’re very fortunate he has meaningful work to do. When he’s not working, he’s a great companion and lover and friend. The cats and the kids love him lots and I figure that means, when I’m cranky with him, it’s most certainly me.

So, if I’m not here, I’m in all likelihood busy adjusting my attitude, picking up owl casts, pointing out sun-bathing alligators, felting on one porch or reading on the other, in yoga class or just plain considering the meaning of life. I hope this glorious weather holds.

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(A handsome pair, together for life. She’s the plumper of the two. Sigh.)