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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Zig Zag








Zig and Zag

The Creative Superheroes


How Two Sides

Can Live Together

In Harmony


Meet Zig.

Master of the Left Brain Universe. Focused. Particularly poised. Zeroed in on details. Addicted to analysis. Logical. Rational. Objective.

Meet Zag.

The Creative of the Cranium. Rabble Rouser of the Right Brain. Freewheeling. Open Minded. Holistic. Sensitive. The Sultan of Spontaneity. 

Zig accessorizes with plastic pocket protectors, in ear communication devices, laptop shoulder bags, calculators, file folders, buzzing Blackberries, diagrams and data, pie charts and apps. Lots of apps.

Zag embellishes with style. Scribbles with crayons. Mixes florals with plaid. Adorns with beads and bangles, swaddled in shawls and scarves. A walking canvas of broad sweeping swooshing brushstrokes. Laden with a tote of crumpled rumpled jumbled absolutely essential stuff. 

Zig downloads Map Quest.  From A to B to C. 

Zag will get there eventually after stopping to ask for directions from the most interesting person who looks exactly like a cousin from Florida and is wearing the most amazing boots made out of recycled tires. 

Zig outlines the agenda for the meeting using a white board and markers, a pointer for clarity and bullet points for emphasis. 

Zag comes to the meeting the day after it is scheduled with the wrong color binder and seventeen pages of copy illustrated and captioned plus an accompanying audio track of flute and zither harmonies. 

Zig has a business plan. Statistics. Costs. Projections. Realistic goals. Deadlines.

Zag has ideas. Visions. New horizons. Vistas. Inventions. Breakthroughs. Tear down and rebuild from scratch renovations. 

Zig's Motto: Just the facts ma'am. Just the facts.

Zag's Motto: I wonder if........

Zig likes to live INSIDE the lines.

Zag likes to hang upside down. 

Zig and Zag.


YES and NO.


Because here I sit Zagging right along, with my Zig Master standing over my shoulder, arms crossed over chest, foot tapping, whispering...Edit...Cut...Get to the Point..


Okay. Okay. The truth is that Zig and Zag are inseparable. Opposites do attract. Hold each other together. Make the impossible possible. 

Paying the bills. Bills do come due. With interest when ignored. Red ink may be an artistic preference, but black ink means you get to be an artist for one more day. 

Artists may have mentors. People who believe in their dreams and support their endeavors, but a blank check is reckless bookkeeping. Even an artist must balance his or her own accounts. 

Zig and Zag are both control freaks. Zig doesn't like anyone playing with the numbers. Zag doesn't want to give up artistic license. When neither will budge, both will lose. Once in awhile, the Zigs of the world should go barefoot, while the Zags lug around the briefcase. 

To be concise. This is not about compromise. Giving up or giving in. Principles do matter. Living responsibly, showing up, seeing the world through more than one perspective, insures good stewardship. Rewards respect. 

In the end Zig and Zag are good neighbors. Together, with one voice, they agree...


                         Be responsible.....for what you create. 

P.S. Zig has been known to wear a Sponge Bob T-shirt on weekends and Zag likes to make perfectly straight lines in the carpet when she vacuums. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Final Frontier










Super Hero






Step One: Get a towel. A solid color is preferable.

( Provides gravitas to the occasion. )

Step Two: Locate two large safety pins. 

Step Three: Pin the towel to the back of your shoulders. 

Step Four: Establish your new identity.

Assign yourself a nom de plume.

Step Five: Assume the flying position.

Arms outstretched to improve lift.

Step Six: Stow your tray table in the upright position.

Step Seven: Run really really really really really fast.

Step Eight: Launch sequence.

Step Nine: Make whirring engine noises.

Step Ten: Say.  We Have Lift Off.

Step Eleven: (optional) Say.  Roger That. 


...Unless the eagle has landed.

Tripped up by a loose towel and an errant flip flop.


Today marks the end of the shuttle program at NASA. To some, just another day. To those of us with a few years under our belts, it is the end of an era of unimaginable imaginings. I recall the moment Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. Watching his footfalls. Down, down, down each step of the ladder attached to the lunar module. Waiting breathlessly for his safekeeping. His words, " One step for man, one giant leap for mankind. " Terra firma. The sheer wonder of the view. Of the moon's landscape. Of the earth from a new perspective. What man can accomplish even when the destination is so far afield. The astronauts, our own ET's.

Extra terrestrials escaping the pull of the earth.

I want to be a Super Hero too. An ET. I want to have Super Powers. I want to wear average apparel, look innocent in Buddy Holly glasses, slide into a phone booth and emerge a caped crusader. I want a cool Super Hero name and a costume armored with bravado.

The Yard Yeti. Lolita Lalapalooza. Betty Bedlam. 

I don't need to bend steel with my bare hands, but I would like to banish weeds with my laser beams. I don't need to time travel, but I would love an invisibility cloak, so I could disappear once in awhile, and reappear where no one is expecting me to be. Oh, and I would like to have software to soften my appearance, like Photoshop. An eraser tool and a lasso tucked in beside my Nerf stun gun. I don't want to harm anyone, just get their attention now rather than then. Oh, oh yes I must have, absolutely must have a pin. My mother left me some fabulous pins. Christmas trees, gaudy bejeweled peacocks and flashy poodles, large, loud melodramatic accessories.

Perfect for my two way radio receiver.

I can pin one on my shoulder,

lean down and speak into it with authority.

This is your captain speaking

I will have a vehicle, but since I am rather a dolt when it comes to cars, let's just say that it will be blue...with fins...and a siren. I will wear my hair in a massive pompadour with a bizarre blossom perched atop at a skewed angle. My mask will be white with two dots for eyes and an "O" for a signature look of perpetual surprise. My costume, I already told you, ( maybe I need a hypnotizing ray to keep everyone focused on me ) costume will be a towel. An old beach towel. One I keep in the laundry room for when the kids visit. The one they wore. When they were Super Heroes. When I made whirring noises with them in the yard.

Back when we all flew.

Together. Into the world of our imaginations. 


the next generation

will look with child like wonder at the stars,

just as we did,

and seek out where no man has gone before.

Maybe, if they don't wait too long,

we might be asked to go along for the ride. 



P.S. I am working on an action figure.

Every Super Hero needs one. I've got the first part locked.

Yellow wellies. 

No matter where in the world my boys might be,

these boots will lead me to them.

Even if it is only in my imagination.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Meeting by Accident










A Cautionary Tale


You are in the driver's seat for this leg of the journey. However, if you are always looking in the rearview mirror, plan on being rear ended. I speak from truth. It happened to me this week, in the line at Wendy's. The guy behind me wasn't really behind me, he was in my trunk with his truck. It was one of those rare moments in life, when you foresee events before they happen. He was too close. Bumper to bumper. No room to spare. So I inched up. Tried to give us both space. Space erosion. His grill up in my grill, I inched ahead once last time. Phew! Two feet apart. Breathing room. Bam! Just like a comic book caption...Boom! Pow! Zowie! Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. Except for one exception. It didn't have to happen.

I was in a hurry. To see a friend. Minding my own business, so to speak. Garden Variety business. I saw the line of cars. I had a choice. I said to myself the following...This will make you late. This is not a good idea. Go down the road where it is not so crowded. This can wait. Friends and business cannot. This could end badly.

I ignored all the road signs. Dismissed my own instincts as ridiculous. Pulled in. Pulled up. Pulled over to exchange licenses and registration. 

I made a new friend. We became close. We shared our personal information and vital statistics. We talked about family. How his niece got ripped off in an accident the week before. How I got lucky on the way home last week when a driver crossed the double yellow. We trusted each other to be fair. To be honest, I didn't want to tell him how much he looked like my brother, the one I lost a few years back. He shook my hand, apologizing for the dirt on his palm, but he was heading back to work after a long hot morning in the caves beneath the bluffs by the river. We exited the parking lot with no contract to bind one another to our promises, but I can tell you that we were both true to our word.

One of the mysteries of life as an artist, is a truth I doubted when I read a cautionary tale by a writer I admire. She warned that the most stubborn, least agreeable and the toughest critics on the journey to success owned the best seats in the house. Literally. First class tickets. Front row seats. Close enough to touch. Dear enough to hold. Family. Husbands. Children. The people who claim to know you best and want to see you change the least. 

Their sabotage is not intentional. It is inevitable. They see you as who you were. You move as who you are and long to be. So you bump into each other. You are not where they expected you to be and they were not paying attention. They kept inching up, into this new space as yet unfinished and without boundaries. 

Families tend to keep each other in the same place and the same time. Mom is Mom. Wife is wife. Etc. Etc. Etc. Just as children struggle to fit in, while wanting to stand out, I do too.

Friends are more accommodating. They are patient when you move up a size or down. Change the color of your hair. Rearrange the furniture. Take a leap of faith. You trust them to be with you. Friends accept when you are in a different space, a different place and a different time zone. Even new friends that unexpectedly show up in the passenger seat.

I love the image of Thelma and Louise, hair flying, arms outstretched with the top down in the convertible and music blaring on the radio. even as they lunge over the edge of the cliff, they are smiling. Grinning in idiotic agreement that this is one swell ride.

Mom is the one leaning over the backseat, threatening, "Do I have to come back there?" Meatloaf Mom. Steady Mom. Wife and companion. Christmas card writer. Healer. Comforter. The "always" in "I'll always love you". No matter what.

Wives have a bit of an edge in that with age, goes vision, hearing and a few other essential senses. Husbands and wives need each other to fill in the details that go missing.

But remember. You passed driver's ed. You no longer need the instructor beside you with his foot on the emergency brake. This is not an emergency. This is an emergence. A change. Within reach.

We may not be in the same place or time, but being the one headed from here to there, trust me when I tell you. 

Push me, I will run. 

Pull me, I will resist. 

Believe in me and I will leave a clear path to where you can find me when your journey begins. 

In the meantime, fasten your seatbelt and keep your hands off the radio.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Friend or Foe?









Nagging, Pesky

Pests In the Garden.

Friends or Foe?

Who goes there?

Who gives a hoooot ?

I live among and beside the critters, large and small. The large, I admire from a distance with wonder. The small, irksome, swarming, stinging, sneaky ankle biters and I have a score to settle.

Up close and it is PERSONAL. 

I, do, however, know my boundaries. 

When the cougar appeared on the green space behind my house, in the middle of the day, sunning itself, tail swishing like a metronome to the rhythm of the ground beneath, I sat and stared. Dared not breathe. Even after it strode majestically out of my view, I felt the urge to bow  in the presence of royalty.

Then came the turkeys. Wild ones. Grouped in a noisy gobble, on Thanksgiving Eve no less, under the bushes near the porch. I silenced them with one fatal question. Do you know what day this is?

Tom, the leader, swooned mid-gob. 

The possums crossed the line. Came dangerously close. I heard their frat party celebratory drinking songs eeeek out from under the cover of our gas grill. Armed with a baseball bat, I issued their arrest warrant. Lucky for them, I kept my own counsel on the other side of the screen door. They shrieked, bared their teeth, shone their beady yellow eyes into the dark and hissed their way down the stairs. They got away safely.

No animals were harmed, except me.

I dropped the bat on my toe during the getaway scene.

Squirrels, birds, families of deer dancing under the light of the moon, raccoons and badgers scuttling along through the brush. We acknowledge each other's existence, but remain aloof. Actually, I'm still a city kid at heart and remain skeptical of animals outside of cages.

I've heard they bite when riled. I do too. 

We have a vole. It is streaking underground leaving a path of brown grass in its wake, the earth cratering beneath its little hooves.

Paws? Feet? No idea. Welcome? Not. 

We have mice. Precious little latte-lite, mocha mice.

Field mice in the garden. Cute.

We have a mouse. A darting, gnawing, hide and go eek mouse, in the garage. I don't know what color it is. I can't see that well when I am standing on top of the workbench. I don't know what sound it makes because all I can hear is my own screaming. 

Oh no the owls. Screeching. In the wee hours of the morning, an insomnia induced nocturnal nomad, I rocked on the screened in porch hoping for respite. I heard the moans of an injured or perhaps dying critter. I grabbed my flashlight. I scared my neighbor. He pointed up into the tree and with a sigh, said...screech owl. Up high in the birch tree. Illuminated by the light. An oatmeal colored owl. Wide eyed. Still.

Normal people went to bed. I stepped out onto the deck. I could see the faint outline of the vole's meanderings. I glanced up at the moon.  A soft fluttering sound, a whoosh, and the soft flap, flap, flap of wings, angel wings in a low smooth glide, a swoop and a turn.

The tip and dip of a winged good night.

A spectacular hoot.

Pests in the garden. Friend or foe? I only know one side of the story. Somehow we all need to get along. Either at a safe distance when we are afraid, or side by side with mutual respect, because one way or the other, we all have a right to be here. 

The me at a buffet.

Came to eat the grub but couldn't resist the salad bar. 

The cougar...aging gracefully, but dangerous when wild. Also, like me. 

The turkeys...annoying as uninvited guests at the dinner table, but tolerable for short random bursts of gibberish...again, like me. 

The mice...outdoors...frolicking...indoors, trapped in a closed space..claustrophobic and me.

And the owls...may screech occasionally...when they feel the need to fly...until they level off into a peaceful glide and say good me

Friend or foe?

Maybe we are all.. a little bit of both.

Maybe it's time to be a little more of one and a little less of the other. 

Adirondack Chairs