Category Archives: Kindred Spirits

Wordless Wednesday, cat’s-eye view

Linky Goodness, for better and worse

I’m in a rush today because I have a workshop of too many women to teach tomorrow. It will be nuno felting, wool on silk, a skill that requires a certain “touch” more than anything else, so there’s a learning curve that can be hard to gratify in less than 4 hours. Times eight. Ah, me. But I enjoy teaching so it will be a fun challenge.

Lots and lots of stuff drops unannounced and often times, unwelcome into my online mail box (I’m managing to circumvent a fair amount of hard copy mail by moving around; hopefully by the time we move to Asheville a walk down to the mailbox will result in a piece or two of meaningful mail, rather than 12 trees worth of junk.) During the past week several good things have come across this virtual desk and I wanted to share them with you.

First up (and funniest to me, you may well have seen it), FC over at Pure Florida posted something about his manly man and barely Bear successful fix of the refrigerator door. I, personally, used to love the SNL skit with the  superhero “Middle-Aged Man” who donned his cape and flew around the neighborhood with his pot belly and spectacles armed with every owners manual known to mankind. Me, who never reads directions and dumps those asap. Anyway, speaking of manly men, this ad is winning awards right and left in the media marketing world (of which we know something in this household).

In the “Awwww, unbelievably cute and endearing wildlife department” is this, again from the Brits and National Geographic. (Remember the thermal imaging of the arctic owl hunting that I shared with some of you? Those folks.) All I know is that to be this happy, you are a creature of God and discussions about my relative godlessness aside, I want to come back as one of these guys.

Finally, in the no news is bad news department- brace yourselves. I know I’ve been bracing myself since this incident originally happened and I wrote about it. Spirit, our resident bald eagle at Boyd Hill has-had- been making a remarkable recovery from a broken leg, complete with titanium pins. Truly, for a 24 year old bird, it was simply stunning what was happening, between her true Spirit and the care, skill and love of many rehabbers from here to Alaska. The last two days have not been good. We got her out into her own new mews, with perches a mere 8 inches off the ground and she seemed well and recovering right through Monday when she ate a full diet,  had normal mutes (poop) and horked a healthy cast (pellet). Tuesday morning found her curled and unresponsive in the corner of the mew and she has been in intensive care and guarded condition ever since. She is back with our incredibly gifted, kind and wonderful avian vet who is nourishing her, sedating her and giving her appropriate medication but still, she has had seizures and is not very responsive. Personally, the moment I heard about the break I thought, “That is too much for that old gal. Too much trauma, too much handling, too much anesthesia, too much surgery…” and my heart both broke and braced itself back then. Then I allowed myself to hope for the past couple of weeks but still…I am now back in brace mode. I haven’t gotten this morning’s update yet but I can barely write the end of this post, as it is. I love that bird. A whacky, whimsical, graceful, magnificent creature who greeted me with head thrown back and the high-pitched warble of the American Bald Eagle each and every time she saw me or heard my voice. I haven’t cared one whit that our relationship is based on either the hand that feeds her mullet or the copacetic bright white pate that we share; I love her and she has been my friend. How lucky can a person be to have a bald eagle in their circle of close and good friends. And so, my final link this morning is to Wren, who shares some photos of Spirit in better form, including one of my better photos of her. I’ll keep you posted.

Okay, now that you have been on a roller coaster of emotions (in short, the way my brain works constantly), you  may continue your day. TGIF.

REROUTING! Make a legal U-turn!

(Hannibal shows off his pantaloons in hopes that Mrs. Hannibal has her GPS fully functional and will show up soon. He has the love nest all ready…)

Lord, sometimes I hate Gladys. And, apparently, she’s not so nuts about the mountains around Asheville, either. It’s always a bit scary in that Big Brother kind of way that she can pick me out in a parking lot here in flat Florida and even know which direction I’m facing to direct me left or right. She can do this even if she’s down in the side pocket of the car door. But take that phone demon into mountain terrain and she starts hemming and hawing and goes into stall mode. Apparently she has more difficulty finding a direct line to her satellites. Maybe that means, in a doomsday disaster, we’ll be a little harder to hit than say, Chicago.

Another thing. To go east in Asheville you go west. To go north you go south. The east-west highways run north-south. And because the city has grown rapidly, although the downtown area remains charming and full of aging hippies, there are many 4 lanes and highways running around the periphery. Any natural sense of direction one might have goes right out the car window and soon, between Gladys and having our intuition hopelessly screwed with- well, Cathy and I spent a fair amount of time on the 3rd day cranky in the car. Not to make excuses, but by then we had clocked about 14 hours in the tile and cabinet stores, I had spent many hours in deep conversation about HVAC, Rheems, seers, ducts, ampere,  tempered, trusses, and braced framing and bearing walls and I was on circuit overload, ready to blow a fuse. The worst thing that happened was I yelled f-you at Gladys and pitched her hard into the back seat, rendering her silent.

From there Cathy and I finished our trip with visits to the Folk Art Center and the Southern Craft Guild, galleries in downtown Asheville and finally, dinner at Doc Chey’s. My, but they have some fine ethnic restaurants in Asheville. We ate well the whole trip.

The house remodel will pick up steam but for now I am rerouting back in sunny St. Petersburg, with classes today, nuno-felt workshop on Saturday and then the pleasure of a visit from our favorite Chicago friends. Naturally, it’s supposed to cool off by the time they get here so it won’t be in the mid-70s. Still mid-50s and sun has got to be better than the unrelenting 20s and gray that they have had for a spell now. I missed the opening of The Artful Table exhibition where I have a couple of pieces (and my name on the wall). Several people went and sent me e-mails that, to a one, read: “The opening was wonderful. Your work is beautiful. OMG! THE CHOCOLATES THEY SERVED!” I think I missed something good. I’ll swing by today and take a few photos to post here.

A final note on good friends. I am incredibly excited to see our friends, Donna and Larry, this weekend when they come to visit from Chicago. We miss them very much; having them in the condo unit just in front of us, passing everyday by each others courtyards, walking and dining and catching up on each other’s week on Saturdays and Sundays- we miss them. Although I worry that I won’t have good friends out there on the mountain, I probably will. I’ve made good friends, the kind who remain long after you move, in every place that I’ve lived. Here in this blog neighborhood I also count myself fortunate. My friend, Wren, yesterday posted some nice photos of Mystic, the owl at Boyd Hill and you should go look. (Ooo! I just noticed that she updated and has photos of Wheezer and me! You did that exactly right, Jane. Thank you!) I love visiting her site and I’m not ashamed to admit that I like seeing my name on her “life list” of bloggers she has met.  Bonnie, who no longer keeps her delightful blog that many of us remember, continues to stop by and on a lucky day, I’m gifted with a bit of her clever and saucy poetry in my comments section. She was the first blogger I met in person and we both thought we were vaguely nuts driving to meet some virtual stranger until we sat down over lunch. I’m one of the lucky bloggers who has met that Cracker in north Florida, one of the nicest, most consistently informative, interesting and upbeat bloggers around. I’ve met the delightful and irrepressible Miz Mary, who talks (and thinks) sassier than she really is. Keri? I feel sisterhood with that midwestern woman. I’m most certainly the only blogger, anyplace, ever, who had the pleasure of sharing a room at the Bellagio with Ol’ Hoss, Gene Maudlin. His final post is still up and well worth the visit. The list goes on. You are all good friends. And in the coming year, I have big plans for a few more of you as I get geographically closer. Those of you who say, “Oh! Can I visit when you get on that beautiful mountain?” I’m holding you to that…

This past weekend I traveled with Cathy, a fellow blogger who lives just south of the Sunshine Bridge, about 20 minutes from here. She writes a blog that always starts with a bible passage and she writes about her faith in God as she moves through her everyday life. That bible thing may put off some people from reading her smart, often humorous, always thoughtful posts and I think that more people read than comment there. But here’s the thing: I know she writes that blog for herself, as a true journal. She’s not writing to entertain us. If we happen by, well that’s fine, but she’s doing that for herself. We’ve developed a close friendship; we share interests, family issues, love of similar things. One of the nicest things about Cathy is this: she NEVER makes me feel like the relatively godless person that I am (I know full well that she is actually praying to herself that we will get through TSA without incident while I am muttering and throwing death stares at the guy getting a good x-ray view of my underwear). She never judges me and her gentle and kind, calm manner calms me down inside. In other words, she lives her faith. Oh, and she makes me laugh, a lot. Having her as a friend and a traveling buddy is a real blessing indeed.

(As to your last comment, Bonnie:

Point taken, now I pore.
And you? never a bore!!
Your little ditties light up this place,
Bring a first thing morning
smile to my face.

Wildlife galore roams those mountains
Bear, wolves sip from flowing fountains
There’s a Tiger there, too, not far away
As the crow flies, less than a mile, I’d say.

It’s his FIRST! the billboards proclaim
Will we have Woods, despite the shame??
Rich cares not for the folderol
All that matters to him is hitting the ball…)

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Oh, and a really final chuckle: Late Saturday night, back in the hotel room, Cathy and I were finally unwinding from three days of tearing around Asheville. We were watching a bit of the Olympics when, over in the corner, from inside my purse a voice chirps: “Rerouting! Make a legal U-turn!” We looked at each other and didn’t stop laughing for quite some time.

Life interruptus

Lordy, have I been busy. I haven’t even signed on to my own blog for over a week and just now when I did I caught a glimpse of a word yoga-esque that causes me little heart to quiver…

Speaking of yoga, while in Chicago last week, I went to an early Sunday morning class led by Pere, a presence as evolved as any I have known. I was merely trying to unwind from lots of travel, a high powered and exhausting private tour at the zoo, construction woes (yes, we’re revisiting the hardwood floor issue of this time last year) and more importantly, friends with worries. Yet another dear young friend, the mother of my 18 month old surrogate granddaughter Alexis, has cancer. One of my closest Michigan friends has a wayward ticker, literally, so she is facing some tough decisions close on the heels of her husband’s death. My skin is like something out of a science fiction movie, behaving as an evil alien life force, so I’m trying to make decisions about the best place to have surgery and recover. (I’m felting a Phantom of the Opera mask for myself) So on and so forth. Really. Just moving forth.

But there I was at yoga class, looking for a bit of inner calm, when handsome Pere asks, “When you come to yoga class today, who suffers?” What??? Why this inane new-age query, right in the midst of my fuzzy peace of mind? He went on to quietly and simply elaborate. When you chose to do something, anything, who suffers? Defensively, I was thinking no one suffers if I come to yoga for a couple hours on Sunday morning. And then “Juanita!” popped into my mind. Juanita is my young friend having breasts removed. I thought, if I hadn’t been in Chicago taking care of that private tour and consulting floor installers and dermatologists, I could have been by Juanita’s side or playing with baby Alexis or giving a soothing pep talk to her husband, Chris. Pere went on to wonder aloud, “who benefits when you come?” Um, om, I guess that would be me. Perhaps a couple hundred strangers at the zoo had a beneficial moment. And then he talked a bit about gratitude and balance in the world as we find our way and make our choices. It was good.

I have had a similar discussion with daughter, Abby. The Snarl is getting ready to sit for the LSATs with an idea that she will go on, thousands of dollars in debt later, to become an environmental policy lawyer and maybe even a judge in that specialty area. I asked her if and where she saw a family in her future and she responded that she wasn’t sure she did. It was more of the “who suffers?” sort of thing, about the karma of the human footprint (Find that new series on National Geographic channel this week. Your jaw will drop.) I, of course, take the “who benefits?” side of that argument.

When it comes to bringing children into this world, while I relate absolutely to Abby’s thinking, I also feel the most amazing sense of delight and, yes, gratitude, when I see these women I know and love and respect presenting us with new life. It seems almost as if we are being gifted with beautiful little bundles of hope and positive energy and, maybe, salvation. I know for certain I would feel that way if the Snarl or Daniel ever have children. I feel that way about baby Alexis, as her mother struggles. About the numerous children of a certain yo-mama who are all out enriching and healing and growing our world.

And then there’s my good, sweet friend here in the neighborhood. (Thought I’d never get there, didn’t you Kimberly?). There’s delightful Raehan. Raehan is bulging (harsh but true, I’ve seen the belly) with her soon to arrive baby and I am gleeful at the prospect. She has written long enough and eloquently enough and in the most sweet ways (like the darkest, finest bittersweet chocolate sweet) about the slings and arrows of motherhood and family life she enjoys with her two already lovely lassies that I know this to be true: Raehan is precisely the sort who benefits us all when she has a baby. Thank you, Raehan! Thank you. Feel free to push.

You can help celebrate Raehan’s bloggy baby shower by stopping over at Petroville where a few of us are gathering today to wish Raehan the very best in these days and weeks- and lifetimes- to come. Or, you can go directly to Raehan’s place for a skin shot. She posts as regularly as I do, but we all still love her…

My week in Chicago, with the exception of that yoga class and one other five minute blip, was hustle, bustle, run, lift, sort, disseminate, and race about airports. The other five minute blip happened when I arrived at the zoo early, before the entire rest of Windyville out for the first warm Spring day, to greet another new arrival. Speaking of baby love, I give you this new Bolivian gray Titi monkey. He or she spends the entire day hitching a ride, because like the rest of us primates, Titis have low fat breast milk and the newborns are pretty much helpless. The cute factor helps mitigate the cling factor. Raehan, don’t you hope yours is this cute?

Lundi, Mardi, Mercredi, Maundi Jeudi…

Good. Let’s talk religion. The thing is, since Chopped Liver* stopped posting, some of us have lost our moral compass. Take Miz S for example…No,no, just kidding, Mary. Bonnie watches over us, posting comments in verse that leave us feeling loved, slightly embarrassed and chastised- and laughing. To wit:

Your adorable manatee
Surely struggles with vanity.
But, why the profanity?!
Practice yoga for sanity!
Shouldn’t posts pre-Maundy
Mention Christianity?

or, one my all-time favorites:

Yoga love is in the air.
Of course, I favor “derriere.”

Alas, in weather hot or frigian,
Rich’s tastes run callipygian.

Vicki leads a charmed life, we know;
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

The thing that was always so wonderful about opening Bonnie’s page was that you came away not only feeling uplifted but better educated and dazzled by her images from art. A rabid Wolverine hater, loyal forever to that cow college in East Lansing, her loving heart is not adverse to taking on Big Dave or Hoss- or little ol’ me- when it comes to sports. A first rate yogini she admonishes us all (sometimes ad nauseam) that yoga (along with faith, art, music, the Spartans and many children) make for the perfect life, here on earth. Plus, we’ll all be happy and relaxed. Her politics are peculiar: yes, she voted for the possibility of the first black president. Alan Keyes. Sigh.

Bonnie no longer updates. Who knows? Maybe true self-actualization comes and one stops posting altogether. Soon after she quit, her first blog was consumed by a porn site. Am I the only one who thought it was not only ironic but hysterically funny that the prim author of Les Petits Bonheurs walked out the door only to find that sex fiends instantly moved in? Served her right for some of the spicy tidbits she leaves hither and yon, usually under a pen name. She revived her site briefly and renamed it Babette’s Feast and you can still stop by there for archives of eye candy, great links, musical insights and, as always, strenuous yoga positions. With videos.

I suspect it is only through divine intervention that one can produce nearly a dozen beautiful, productive, smart, funny and responsible children and still have time to teach yoga and music and art and then find moments to fly through the neighborhood calling out, “Parsvakonasana!” So, with a nod to one of the truly good mothers in this blogging neighborhood I offer you a dose of religious education. It’s good for you. Plus, if we take care of Maundy Thursday and then go silent on Good Friday, it leads us right up to….drum roll, please!…PEEP SATURDAY! That’s right. As soon as I finish this brief lesson in religion 101, I’m back to hardening off my peeps (a crucial step if you plan to expose them to the great outdoors OR eat them. They need a crust.)
(*What am I, chopped liver?! À demain! xoxo)

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Maundy Thursday

Some of the world’s great religions, including Christianity, have a way of sneaking in the really HIGH holy days without many of us noticing. Such is Maundy Thursday. Yes, there’s Good Friday and yes, there’s Easter Sunday but realistically, Maundy Thursday was the end of the work week for Jesus. The last day he punched the clock, so to speak. On this particular Thursday (or whatever day of the week it was around 30 AD) four very important things happened while Jesus was still alive and well in his earthly form- the one that would have been, eventually, susceptible to basal cell depending on his skin type, which is another discussion altogether.

The main event of that Thursday was the last supper. It was at this last supper (no capital letters yet, because only in retrospect, did this all become important. The way you sometimes get insights to your parents strange behavior after they’re dead and it’s too late? Like that, except in this case, there’s the miracle of it never being too late)… anyway, at this supper Jesus instituted the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, that great and magical symbolism whereby passover wafers become the body of Christ and the wine becomes the blood. The thing I appreciate most about this event is this: EVERYBODY was at the table. Everything you know about all those so human, so weak, so doubting disciples? Doubting Thomas, the tax collector, a revolutionary, the mother of all turncoats? Right. They were all at the table, all taking part, all welcomed by Jesus himself. I don’t know if any of them were divorced or gay- probably, because they were a very scruffy lot- but no one was standing there saying, “okay, one for you, none for you…”

(this post will either get bonnie back to blogging or drive her from the hood altogether. I’m not as eloquent or smart about this stuff, by a fraction, as she is.)

So, communion was one thing. Another was Jesus’ agony in the garden of Gethsemane. There he is, all the way down the path, knowing what’s coming because he gets the news straight from The Source and you would think that after all this time of being Jesus he would be, like, “Bring It!” But no, he’s sweating blood. I love the idea that he is so much one of us that he is all afraid and trembling and full of sorrow. Religious scholars have gone around and around on this one, arguing about what, exactly, had Him so upset. They’ve hashed it over, not unlike Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann. I, personally, in all humbleness, think it isn’t that complicated. And it’s not all that audacious to say, “hey! put yourself in his sandals! Leaving his friends, the betrayal, ay! the upcoming Crucifixion…” because that’s the whole point: he was here, as we are.

Then there’s the betrayal. Poor Judas Iscariot. What a regular screw-up he turned out to be. Kind of like your home town high school jerk who can’t get out from under all those bummer influences and grow-up. Or like a politician who sells out. Anyway, now his name is synonymous with traitor and that’s kind of a bad rap, because somebody had to be the bad guy in all of this. That was a foregone conclusion.

Wrapping up our Maundy Thursday lesson, not in the style of Bonnie, I’ll tell you about the 4th very important thing that makes this a most holy of all holy days. This was the day that Christ washed his disciples feet.

250px-giotto_-_scrovegni_-_-30-_-_washing_of_feet.jpg

Starting with Simon Peter, they all protest that Jesus should not be stooping to washing their very desert-dirty feet. But (here it is) Jesus says:

“Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. (John 13:1-15).

The word Maundy is derived through Middle English and French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” :“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you”

So, there it is folks. The significance of Maundy Thursday. Love One Another. Once again I have reduced centuries of religious history and thought to the Reader’s Digest-like version, according to me. Some of us practice our faith in churches with so many rules and shoulds and shouldn’ts that we don’t need to internalize what it all means. The external scaffolding is so sturdy and seemingly permanent that we don’t really need to construct the foundation within. That works until the day, whoops, when the scaffolding isn’t there. Some of us, when it comes to faith, ultimately sift out the bits and pieces that work for us. Sometimes, we’re sifting for a rationale or an excuse. Sometimes we’re sifting for understanding and comfort. I like to think that one of the best things about faith, having faith, is that I can search around and find the parts that not only give me what I need for my spiritual nourishment but also, I find the parts that help raise me up a little higher or, in this case, a little lower. A little bit closer to where I ought to be. Love One Another.

Bonnie always had fine art to go along with her inspirational posts. The masterpiece of choice here would be, of course, DaVinci’s Last Supper, either pre- or post restoration. Because I am spending this Easter in St. Petersburg, home of the Dali Museum (although this masterwork is in the National Gallery) and part of life is finding beauty in new places, I give you this: The Sacrament of the Last Supper painted by Dali in 1955. He might have been whacky but he was very devout and it’s been wonderful to be able to see some of his finest religious works housed here on a regular basis. About this painting Dali said “this was an arithmetic and philosophical cosmogony based on the paranoiac sublimity of the number twelve…the pentagon contains microcosmic man: Christ” See? I told you he was whacked. The painting has twelve pentagons and the twelve disciples. (do not make me come back here and find those pentagons for you.) For me, the beauty of this painting is in the light and in the transparency of Jesus- he’s already making his move- and the depiction of the ascension in the background. (you can click on the thumbnail and get the whole painting.)
in520dali-ls.jpg

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Have a blessed Maundy Thursday and, if I don’t see you, Good Friday. I will definitely be here for Peep Saturday. Do you remember my previous masterpiece- “Godzilla with Peeps and daffodils”? Well, I’m working on the Florida version…