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Friday, January 27, 2012

The Birthday Salute




On this date in history...

Once upon a time...

A star is born...


Cake and candles...

Make a wish...



Scientific data suggests that animals possess a sensory skill in detecting earthquakes hours before we humans detect movement. A life detector. A slight shift on seismic sonar. A simple shudder. A hiccup.

A leaf out of place, yet no trace of wind. Resonating to a different beat. Dancing to the sound of a distant and different drummer.

My yard. 

Last summer.

I was, for some unknown reason and very unlike my usual rush rush rush self, perfectly still. Otherwise, I would have missed it. A rush of air out of the south and all the leaves on the oak tree leaned left. 



In one direction. 

In unison.

All but one. 

One leaf did not lean. 

One leaf on a low branch even with my stare, fluttered like a hummingbird's wings. Vibrated. As if tuned to a different key, singing like a diva, like that one voice in a children's choir that floats above the chorus, in perfect harmony, separated by a decibel. 

Notice me.

Same breeze. Same dynamic. Same melody.

A different rhythm. 

That little green wiggling machine shimmied and shook. Jazz hands. 

I swear you could see all the other leaves roll their eyes,

casting down aspersions, or whatever leaves do when one of their

own gets caught acting out. 

No matter. 

The little leaf never leaned in unison.

Right or left. It simply scampered to the tune it heard playing.

Every single time. 

Odder still, as I stood and gazed at every tree in the yard, each and every one had a mutineer. An imp. A soloist. A partner in crime.

See... Me... Solidarity. 

Just one

If by chance, today is your birthday, and you believe in chlorophyll conspiracy theories, consider this your moment to stand out. To wave back and forth and be noticed. 

You are the only one of you. 


Just you

No one anywhere, not here nor there, exists the way you do. 

No one can ever take your space or hold your place. 

On every other day of the week of every month of every year, you do a nice job of leaning left and swaying right. A team player. 

Not today.

Today you can make your claim to fame. 

The music is in you. 


Tomorrow you can go back to fitting in. 


The candles are for you. 

Make a wish.

...then let the wind blow...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

For a Limited Time Only









Fine Art




A thought came to me this morning when I sat down at the kitchen table in the light of day, to tweeze my eyebrows. I had a hunch I needed a trim, after I glanced at myself in the bathroom mirror and thought I saw Groucho Marx leering back at me. 

At my age, tweezing is an elaborate ritual. I need not one, but two pairs of reading glasses and the help of a 10X magnifying mirror, while sitting directly in front of a window early in the morning so that I catch myself in the best light, metaphorically speaking.

Mr. DeMille, I am ready for my close up. 

I try very hard not to scream. Some of the hairs are very forward and stick straight out. Those are the easy ones to grab first. So I do, and invariably grab a few more until one eyebrow now appears to be hyphenated. So I do the "trim your bangs" exercise. You know, the one where you start to trim your bangs and one side is uneven, so you try to even things up and the next thing you know your forehead has receded completely into your scalp.

Imogene Coca Style.

If you are younger than 95, Google her. 

The point is I now have two matching eyebrows that look like this....
 ___  ___            ___  ___
 0                       0

After I gather up all the hair repair and rejuvenation paraphernalia, it is time for my morning shower. This is where I would normally put my foot down, but I don't have non-skid strips underfoot, so I mutter to myself instead.

I should, repeat, should shave my legs, or...not

This growing older business is patently unfair. 

A loved one recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Bald. Not a hair on her head...or her legs...she didn't even have eyebrows...just little furrows where they would eventually grow. 

I was jealous. 

Mint condition. Not a hair out of place. 

It seems to me that women should be like fine wine. 

Improving with age.

Appreciating in value. 

NOT grizzled, fossilized, decrepit, ancients.

RATHER, ripe, mature, well-developed, fully grown...Ups.

Maintenance free. 

With great curb appeal, as long as you stand on the curb, 
when you feel the need to get up close and personal.

My lawyer stresses the importance of having a living will. 
I stress the importance of having a will to live
but just to be annoying, I told him I wanted to add a rider. 

For seasoned seniors. 

I want to bequeath to my "heirs", my "hairs".  I want to donate part of the proceeds from the sale of my artwork, to scientific research that insures that as women age, their countenance will be as smooth as sea glass, gently worn and eroded, rather than prickly as a cactus.

I know the secret of why "Mona Lisa" is smiling. Check out her eyebrows. I'll bet HER reading glasses are tucked under her hands, and she is sitting on her TWEEZERS. No? Look for yourself. I bet she even has one chin hair. She's just waiting for her best friend to point it out. 

Lest you think I am unappreciative of this sweet life I have been given, let me straighten you out.
A month ago, I tried to use my senior discount on a purchase and they asked for ID. 

Carded. I was carded!

So, as to my continuing will and testament, let me put it this way. I guess pulling out a few weeds and tending to a bit of pruning is not such a bad way to spend one's time. 

I am appreciating...

...and celebrating

every single minute...

...just like that fine wine...

Full bodied and with an excellent bouquet. 
That's garden speak for all of us women of a certain age.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

As Easy as Falling Off a Bicycle













Accident Prone


Standing at the end of the alley, I watched my brother cruise carelessly by, arms outstretched, face to the sun. Pedal, pedal, pedal, then feet in the air, resting his elbows on the handlebars. A grinning show off. His red bike a blur. Accelerating. My bike riding soon-to-be tutor whistling past. The final flourish, a back pedal braking skid on gravel, and a high swooping two-legged dismount.

Me. My turn. I want to do that now. Now. Exactly like that.


Hop on.

First mistake. He rode a boy bike. With a bar from the seat to the handlebars. He was a boy. I was not. 

Second mistake. He was a foot taller than me. His feet touched the ground when he came to a stop. My feet barely reached the pedals, let alone the solid ground beneath them. 

Third mistake. Letting him hold the handlebars, run along beside and start the launch sequence with a hefty shove.

Yes. I was going fast. Yes. My feet were in the air.

Yes. I could feel the air rushing by.

No. My face was not to the sun.

My eyes were on the pedals, spinning hopelessly in mid-air.

Yes. I came to a stop. Suddenly. Not of my own choosing.

I ran into a telephone pole. 

Training wheels, he whispered in my ear,

as he picked me up off the concrete.

You need training wheels. Sorry.

Here the story begins. I didn't have training wheels. I didn't have a bike. If I was to ride, I would have to get back on the too big, big boy bike. Again and again. I would have to fall down and get back up. I would learn how to prop the bike up against the steps, hop on the seat, and wobble my way forward. I would stand up as tall as I could stretch, between the seat and the handlebars, up over the bar. 

I learned how to ride a bike. The hard way. The only way.

Because I wanted to ride, more than I cared about falling. 


Taking care of business. As easy as falling off a bicycle. 


Taking Care

The title of one of my first Garden Pages. 


An older woman whirled around my artwork, clapping her hands and singing, "I want to make you famous." "Introduce you to the world." She stopped whirling. Paused and read to herself, her lips moving wordlessly. When she finished, she pointed to herself and said, "That's me". Later, a few weeks later, her note to me began...

"I did not expect that I could have anything for myself for quite awhile, but I was hoping that sometime I could purchase one. I told my family about you. I thought they would appreciate your work."

They did. Her children did. One of them, her oldest son, found me the following weekend. We chatted awhile, then I let him wander and read. Read and wander. Like his mother before him, he stopped. In front of the same piece. When he finished reading, he pointed to the picture and said, "That's her. That's my Mom."

His mother continued in her note, "My oldest son looked at all the pictures and when he saw this one he said he thought that 'this is Mom'. I love it that that's what he thought when he read this one especially."

"Anyway", she wrote, " it is now hanging in my family room where everyone can see it and think about the truth and wisdom of the writing. This really is how I tried to raise my children and I try to instill this in my children for raising their children. Thank you for all the beautiful work you do."

All of her children pitched in and gave the picture as a birthday gift. 

Taking Care 

I wrote this piece, with my own children in heart and mind,

To know that it touched the hearts and lives of others, feels exactly the way it did when I rode on the too big, big boy bike, with my arms outstretched and my face to the sun. 

Don't ever be afraid to fall. Afraid to fail. 


Taking Care

Children are our miracles. 

Giggle with them.

Go barefoot with them.

Make memories with them.

Life will take care of itself. 

Take care of each other. 


P.S. You just never know, if you love what you do, who will be waiting to catch you in their arms. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Broken Promises











Be Broken...





Less Than




I did. Break my promise to you. To be "New" in the New Year. To leave the "Old" me behind. A serious misstep. I missed a step. Literally. While carrying the Christmas tree down the stairs for storage. Blam! I prefer getting my radiation from the sun, but X rays were required. So was my name, the name of the current President, my ability to touch my finger to my nose, and some other questions I can't remember, but they must have been multiple choice, as I was released on my own recognizance, shrink wrapped in an elastic bandage. Bruised but not broken. Shaken but not stirred.

Rest. Ice. Compress. Elevate.

Swell! Simply swell! It did. 

Great. Great. Grate. It did. On my last nerve.

Compress. The seat cushion in my chair needs to be replaced. I have left my imprint behind, so to speak. 

Ice. In a stiff drink. Which is not allowed.

Elevate. Thank you no. Moving in any direction scares me.

I have come to the conclusion that making New Year's Resolutions is merely tempting Fate. But the NEW me, not the OLD one, is pressing on. Staring into the Fear. Unflinching. Resolute NEW resolutions to replace the OLD, NEW resolutions. Daring. Brave and bold. 

1) I promise to stop asking "why". I find that no matter what the explanation, the very next thing that comes to mind is "but why", followed by the obligatory "I don't know" which leads to confusion, which leads to another "why" which leads to a massive headache and a minor case of delirium. My resolution, then, when standing on the bottom of the well, will no longer be "why", but "how" do I get out. Then the next resolution, stay away from large gaping holes in the earth, carry a rope ladder wherever I go, and slap a GPS tracking bracelet on my wrist. 

2) I resolve to stop worrying about every little thing. You see I told myself that I would lose those post holiday jiggles and I did. I lost a pound today. The scale erupted in digital bliss. 1.0 of me. Then I started thinking. I wonder where it went. Where it landed. Did some poor passerby just stop, grab their thigh and sigh "oh dear"? Now when someone else feels a jiggle when they wiggle, are they wearing me, like a tiny belt around their waist? Me out in the universe hitching a ride? If I eat some chocolate immediately, will that right the wrong?

3) I swear I will stop trying to come up with the perfect retort to passive aggressive people. It's a lose lose. What is there to say when someone says, I know you dislike me, but I really like you? I wasted two days on this one. What? What? What is there to say? What is the appropriate response? Ah. Ha. You think you have a great comeback, right? Try it. You're sunk. Mathematically speaking, you never had a chance, because Premise A, you dislike me equals you are a meanie and Premise B, the B as in But, says I like you which equals I am so much nicer than you. Which leads to the question "why" are you wasting your time with me, which is a "why" question that leads to delirium which I have promised to stop asking, therefore, I suggest throwing your hands in the air and talking to yourself. It will be a much friendlier conversation. I see people doing it in the supermarket all the time. They seem content. What do you mean they are talking on their phone? In their ear? No wonder when I smiled at them, thinking they were talking to me, they looked...odd. I thought they were wearing a hearing aid, so I raised my voice. I should get one of those. I wouldn't turn it on. I could just talk to myself, legally. I could say. How are you? Grin widely and then say, Me too! Sweet.

4) I give my word that I will build three rings in my garden. My neighbor says that our house is one clown short of a circus, and considering the fact that I already have a tent for my shows, I will be ready with my new in-the-ear-phone-device to receive the incoming call from the Ringling Brothers. 

5) I take an oath to send out my Christmas cards in December, except that is sort of cheating, as they are sitting here in a box, right next to my resting, iced, compressed, elevated right hand, while I type with my left, so this will be the first resolution for the New Year that is one year away.


If this all seems a bit off kilter, don't say you weren't warned. I did tell you that I couldn't recall the answers on the concussion quiz, and I am typing with my left hand which is on the same side as the frozen shoulder that only recently thawed, which may make no sense to you whatsoever if you have not been reading my blog posts over the past year, which is your fault, because if you had you would know the REAL story.

This, my dear friends, is NOT Reality TV. This is Reality GARDEN. This is where I wear yellow wellies, tell stories, fall down, brush myself off and start all over again. 

                               So...Happy New NEW Year. 

                                     See you next time.

  Or, perhaps, in the first aid aisle of the supermarket...or....

Adirondack Chairs