Thursday, August 31, 2006
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
A Whole World of Friends
I'm about to say goodbye to some very special friends who have been keeping me company for the past few weeks. They've had some troubles during that time - a marriage has gone sour, and a career has gone down the drain. A little boy got into some trouble at school, and a bigger boy ended his life tragically. But there were triumphs to share as well - a new love for one, a happy move to another state for someone else. A young woman, traumatized by an accident, regained her sense of self and made peace with her life. I've become really involved in all their lives and loves, their fears and struggles, their hopes and dreams. Sadly, our relationship is about to come to an end, and I know I'm going to miss them.
By now you've probably guessed I'm talking about a book. I am a voracious reader, and sometimes a book comes along that just sucks me in until I barely know where the lives of the characters end and mine begins. I find myself anticipating the times when I can be with them, find out what's going to happen next in their lives, much as you would anticipate getting together with beloved friends.
This book is one of those delightful, delectable books that I want to last forever. And the thing that's made it even more enjoyable for me is that I'm listening to it as an audio book. Now for a long time, I just hated audio books. It seemed that as soon as the reading started, I would completely zone out, and before long several tracks had gone by with me paying absolutely no attention. Lately though, the tide has turned. I've listened to about a dozen audio books in the last year, always while I'm driving, and I've come to enjoy them immensely. They completely transport me from the world of traffic, cities, and superstores on every corner, and place me squarely in the midst of a completely different world filled with interesting characters and their joys and dilemmas.
Julia Glass is one of those authors whose writing I just want to wallow in. She has the most luscious way with phrases and descriptions, and her sentences are always so rich and comforting, like sweet, dark chocolate. When I first started reading (or actually listening) to this book, I feared I would be disappointed that I didn't have those beautiful words in front of my face, to re-read and study in black and white. But they translate perfectly into spoken words, and seem to resonate in my mind throughout the day.
As I listen to the last few pages in this magical novel, I'm preparing myself for the farewell that will come in the next few days. After 19 CD's, I've gotten to know this little group of people very well. My car will seem quite empty without them.
Monday, August 28, 2006
One Deep Breath-The Faces of Humanity
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Sunday Scribblings-The Monster
So often the biggest monsters in our lives are the ones we refuse to confront. Like an ancient, dark presence they lie buried in our souls, coloring our behavior, our attitudes, our ability to live life to the fullest, often without our even being aware of their existence.
Perhaps it is dissapointment in a spouse, who in some way has failed to live up to the expectations and dreams you once shared.
Perhaps it is anger at a parent, who failed to provide the love and encouragement you needed.
Possibly, it's guilt surrounding a failed relationship with a family member or friend.
Maybe it's disillusionment regarding a career that has proven to be less fulfilling and rewarding than you had hoped. Or a dream for yourself that you've neglected to pursue.
So often we shelter these dark monsters in our heart, afraid to expose them to light and compassion, and change. It takes great courage to grab hold of these creatures and stare them in their wretched faces. And sometimes you can't do it alone - you need the presence of a strong and steady lover or friend to stand guard as you struggle with the demon. Yet, if you are powerful enough to conquer your own "dark 2000 years old," how safe and free you will become, safe enough let yourself love with abandon, free enough to pursue all those dreams you've hidden away.
My little boy used to stand wild eyed and trembling at my bedside in the middle of the night, consumed with fear at this indescribable horror that had insinuated itself into his life. I would scoop him up into my arms, ply him with gentle conversation and some warm Ovaltine, read his favorite storybooks, and try my best to eradicate the evil monster in his mind. It wasn't all that difficult to do, because, as bad as his "dark thing" was, it was a vague, amorphous evil. As adults, our monsters are often all too solid and well-formed. Dealing with them might require tougher measures than a gentle cuddle and a story with a happy ending.
Then again, perhaps not. Sometimes even life's oldest, darkest dilemmas will respond quite well to a hearty dose of love, optimism, and faith.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
1. OK, here's the skinny on the weight loss. I have been very faithful about going to the gym, and I'm really proud of myself. Actually, I like going over there three mornings a week and getting all hot and sweaty. I feel good when I leave, both mentally and physically, and turns out my blood pressure is about 10 mm/hg lower than it's ever been, which my doctor says is because of the exercise program. However...in the three months that I've been doing this, I have not lost one pound!!!! I did lose one inch, which is (very) moderately satisfying. I will not be buying a new wardrobe, however. My old one fits me just fine - in fact, a little better than before.
2. The photography project - well, half the time I forget to take the darn camera when I go somewhere. Case in point - my dear friend's surprise 40th birthday, which turned into a surprise engagement party! And where is my camera - at home, on the kitchen table.
3.Beethoven Piano Sonata - uhh, piano? Is that the hulking piece of furniture in my living room with about three inches of dust on those black and white keys?
4. Reading Charles Dickens, specifically Bleak House, in tandem with the BBC tv series - the first DVD was pretty good, but the book (even in papeback) nearly broke my nose when I dropped it on my face after falling asleep while reading it.
5. The second half of the above resolution was to get more involved in poetry - YES! I did this one! I've posted something on Poetry Thursday every week this summer! (whew!)
6. Cooking more often and more healthy - I like cooking, I really do. If someone would just go to the market and get all the things I needed , I would be so happy to cook any recipie in any cookbook. But, since I have no designated shopper, I often get frustrated about all the thought I need to put into my grocery list and opt for take-out from Szechuan Empire instead.
7. Spending more time with those I love - Again, some congratulations are in order. I have indeed spent lots of time with M& M, and I've dutifuly visited at least one elder relative each week. So, one gold star, teachers, please.
I suppose I could be really disappointed in myself. Percentage wise, I think I'm at about 30% as far as completion of my appointed tasks. Of course, I knew when I wrote that post that I was pretty likely to fail. But I don't really care. At least I cared enough about my life and my future to think about it and make some kind of plan for it. There have been times in my life when I was either to immature and ignorant to do that, or too scared and heartsick to do that.
So, I'll congratulate myself on the things that I did, and file all the rest onto my list for January's resolutions!!!
Some photos to remember my summer by:
Poetry Thursday - Time
Monday, August 21, 2006
One Deep Breath - Music
Hands poised to strike
eighty-eight keys to command
the ivories are mine
Black notes on the page
become lyric and song
feeding my soul
Lost in the melody
singer becomes song
we emerge triumphant
Applause like fine wine
richly rewards mind and heart -
for more musical haiku, go here
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Well, to be fair, he really left home eight years ago when he moved to Florida to go to college. Fresh out of high school, he packed up virtually everything he owned, rented his own apartment, and proceeded to set up housekeeping for himself. He did a fine job of it too, but, like his ancient ancestor Adam, found himself a little lonely. So within a couple of years he found the perfect partner. She too was living all alone - in Australia, and far away from her family in Thailand. So now they have a home and life of their own in Florida. And lucky for us, they've been visiting with us for the past 10 days.
It's interesting when grown children come home. So many old habits remain - the way he stopped by our room on his way to bed to call out "Good Night," just like he did every night when he was a child. The way he stays up late, typing away at his keyboard and listening to music on his headphones, as he so often did as a teenager. But now he's often working when he's typing away at the computer, and he takes conference calls from places like Kansas and China. And when he goes to bed at night, he sleeps with his wife, and not with an array of stuffed toys.
I think if you do your job as a parent (and you have a little bit of good luck on your side) your children will establish independent lives, relationships, and homes. They will pursue their passions, and follow their dreams. But in fulfilling your duty as a parent, and supporting your children in pursuit of their dreams, it actually means causing yourself great pain. The thing we most want to do, from the minute our babies are born, is to keep them close to us. And the thing we have to start doing, from the minute they're born, is learning how to let them go.
So, I waved goodbye at the airport again this afternoon-I've gotten really good at doing that.
And once again I came home to a very empty room, and a very quiet house.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Sunday Scribblings - The Inner Life of Pets
Magic: You may think you're going to get the spot on top of the chair, but it's mine, and I'm lying here to watch Mom drive out of the driveway.
Molly: Oh no you aren't - you always get that spot, and mom's really getting annoyed about that big squashed spot on the back of her chair because you're so heavy.
Magic: Any heaviness about me is pure muscle, you little fat fluff! Unlike you, who are so soft and wussy you can't even make it through the whole walk at night without Dad having to carry you.
Molly: Daddy likes carrying me! And I can't help it if my legs are shorter than yours and I get tired more easily.
Magic: You just need to toughen up, little sister. Why don't you get out of bed a little earlier tomorrow and I'll take you on my morning run around the yard?
Molly (sighing heavily): I really hate getting up in the morning. I love lying on my back underneath that nice ceiling fan mom and dad just bought. And ever since they got the king sized bed for us to share, there's all this room to stretch out! Mom hardly every kicks me in her sleep anymore.
Magic (yawning): I know what you mean. I've been sleeping a lot better since dad got those new down pillows - much more comfortable. Now, if we could just do something about his snoring...
Molly (snoring softly herself): Hmmm, you're right about that...let's just go back to bed.
Molly and Magic
for more scribblings about pets, go here
My Word Cloud
This is my "word cloud," a neat design formed from some of the most often used words in my blog. I got this here, and this company prints up all manner of things with your word cloud on it, like T-Shirts, mugs, mouse pads, etc. I didn't buy anything (I'm tempted, though!) but it was fun to look at the words which appear the most, and they do jump out as some of the most meaningful ones. I was suprised that "coffee" wasn't really big, although since it's followed by the words "complete content," I think that gets the meaning across. "Life like little love"makes an interesting phrase of it's own. The "time traveling two" must be my husband and I (although the word "husband" appears in such small letters, I'm concerned that he's fading from the picture!) And it all finishes up with "years (big blank) young" at the end.
But my favorite message comes right in the first line, in a crescendo of word sizes. I'm taking this as my word cloud motto - "beautiful becca begin!"
Thursday, August 17, 2006
The Power of Prose
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Poetry Thursday - Progress?
Monday, August 14, 2006
One Deep Breath - Coffee and Tea
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Sunday Scribbblings-Who Else Might I Still Be?
I started this blog on my birthday, and I described myself as an "American woman, newly embarking on the second half of her century here on earth." So, if that description is right, and I'm to have another 50 years here, who else might I still be?
I might still be an author, who writes books that speak to the deepest feelings and concerns of other women.
I might still be a musician that plays music people all over the world would love to hear.
I might still be a grandmother, who can provide love, and encouragement to another child in her life, and provide a little wisdom along the way.
I hope to be a better wife and partner, one who is more encouraging, more understanding, more creative about life and loving.
I hope to continue being a fun, loving, mother, and never become a burden or drain on my children's time, energy, or patience!
I hope to be a patient and supportive daughter to my parents as they struggle with old age, and I hope I can find the strength and fortitude necessary to do what needs to be done to ease their passage through this stage of life.
I hope I can remain young in mind and in spirit (well, body would be nice, too!), and not become so deeply grounded in my beliefs and habits that I don't allow myself the opportunity to experience new things in the world around me.
I hope I can be loving and forgiving of myself, when my careful plans for life go awry. I hope that gray hairs, stiff limbs, and a few extra pounds don't cost me my self-esteem or my hard won self-confidence.
Most of all, I hope I'm always willing to learn something new, step outside whatever box I'm in at the moment, and love with all my heart.
To read other's musing about their future selves, go here
Saturday, August 12, 2006
- Having my son and daughter in law here for a good long visit;
- Everybody in my family (doggies included!) being healthy right now;
- The past several days of cool, clear weather, truly Michigan summer on its best behavior;
- A stack of fresh new books from the library;
- Tomatoes in the garden;
- Grilled salmon dinner from Mitchell's Fish Market last night;
- The promise of my mom's honest-to-goodness Kentucky fried chicken for Sunday dinner - (does it seem like I'm hungry here???);
- My laptop, which allows me to work outside on the patio instead of being cooped up in the house all day;
- The work of UK Intelligence, which thwarted a horrible terroist plot - brilliant job!
- This community of brave writing women across the globe who continually inspire me to explore my thoughts, expand my horizons, and expound on life in general!
Friday, August 11, 2006
What Would George W(ashington) Do?
I find myself glued to the news stations with horrified fascination as they describe this latest plan to actually create and detonate explosive devices in midair. I stare in wonder at the pictures of these young people who've been arrested - plain, ordinary looking folks, yet so full of hate for other plain, ordinary folks like me and my fellow citizens. While I'm terrified by the bombs they mean to create, perhaps I'm even more terrifed by the long term effects their actions could have on my country. Will we, as a nation, spend the rest of our lifetime on the run from an enemy that can pop up anywhere, anytime, around any corner, behind any door? An enemy that has no concern for it's own self-protection, one that is in fact happy to die in service to the cause? These terrorists are like cancer cells - they grow in secret places, ready to strike wherever the body is vulnerable, with no regard for their own safety or protection.
And what has America done to inspire this hatred from this group of Muslims? I know we're a young country, and like most "teenagers" can be pretty hard to take with our arrogance and our desire to have it all right now. That arrogance has led us to intrude ourselves and our ideals into the middle eastern world in ways that have fueled the unrest in existence there since our nation was nothing more than wilderness.
Richard Brookhiser, author of What Would the Founders Do? writes about America at the time of the first George W - Washington, that is. He reminds us that our own American Revolution often "shaded into terrorism," and that the British relied on "guerilla warare" to assist them in thier fight to maintain dominion over these rogue United States. Indian massacres in New York and Pennsylvania, "laid forty villages to waste," guerrilla warfare in the south had inhabitants "persecuting each other with savage fury," and bands of "marauding "cowboys "terrorized" Westchester County north of New York City. Brookhiser writes that George Washington eschewed this guerilla type warfare, and always favored establishing a professional army that was responsible to the Congress. It was the conduct and bravery of this "professional army" that is now generally credited with our victory over the British. "The Americans didn't always do right," Brookhiser states, "but they did right more often than their enemies, and it did them a lot of good."
I wonder how Washington and the other founding fathers would handle the situation the country now faces, some 230 years after the drafting of the constitution and the original fight for freedom from tyranny. Brookhiser writes that "America is about liberty or it is about nothing." I think the terrorists we're facing know that, and are striking at the very heart of what we love the most about our country and our lives. Along with my uneasiness about the possibility of more terrorist attacks, I'm also angry. I'm angry that a group of "religious" people have the effontery to decide my nation is "corrupt" and that its ordinary citizens don't deserve to live. I don't believe George Washington would take that lying down, and I don't believe we should either.
Wednesday, August 9, 2006
Moving Right Along
When school lets out in June, those three free months stretch out in front of us like an endless sea of days. We make all kinds of fabulous promises to ourselves - we vow to read all of Dostoyevsy's novels, paint the next American Gothic, cook gourmet meals each night, learn conversational Japanese, and lose 15 pounds in the bargain. Then, in the blink of an eye, it's August, and Target, Walmart and Office Depot are inviting us all in for spiral notebooks, crayons, calculators, and pens.
(At this point, I could easily turn this into a post about how much I love office supplies - and what writer doesn't? I can spend hours wandering the aisles in the office supply deparment, testing the smoothness of all the pens, feeling the weight of paper in the notebooks...ok, ok, enough! )
What I really started to write about was time - how it flees from us all, teachers, parents, gardeners, accountants, every mortal soul who finds time slipping away faster and faster with each passing day of their life.
If you think back to your childhood, I bet summer really seemed endless, didn't it? I grew up in one of those baby boomer neighborhoods, and nearly every house on our block had at least 5 kids (except for me, of course, the odd "only child" in the bunch!) From dawn to dusk we roamed the streets, riding bikes, playing various ball games, reading books, jumping into the pool...all the fun stuff that kids should do in the summer. It seemed like summer lasted a lifetime, and when September finally rolled around, I was usually ready to go back to the routine of school.
As a young parent, summer was also a respite for me. My son, bless his little heart, always hated school with a passion akin to the Bush family's for Saddam Hussein. So I looked forward to summer in those days, as a time when he was (finally!) happy and able to relax. Unlike most parents of school age children, I was never very happy to see September roll around, because I knew he would again have demons to face, and I was always facing those demons with him.
By the time he was grown, I was again enmeshed in the school year calendar because of my job in the high school. I consider myself really fortunate in my part time position, because I don't work every day. Nevertheless, when the school year starts, life gets a lot more hectic for me. It adds another two work days to my weekly schedule, as well as at least one work night per week. Not to mention trying to juggle the concerts and special events that always occur in the music deparment. Come September, my life definitely gets turned up at least two notches! So I look forward to June, July, and August as a time to slow down a little and catch up on "things."
Well, here it is, August 9, 2006. I can remember writing this post as if it were yesterday - no, as if it were earlier this morning! The older I get, the faster time goes. Rabbi Israel ben Eiezer, the founder of Hasidic Judaism wrote this:
Monday, August 7, 2006
One Deep Breath-The Scenic Route
traipse through the cow pasture
wending their way home.
expand pilgrims horizon
transforming the journey.
Saturday, August 5, 2006
Sunday Scribbblings-Who Might I Have Been?
Truthfully, I rarely consider this kind of question. I don't know if that means I'm not creative, or unmotivated, or just plain unimaginative. Maybe it's a sign that basically I'm pretty satisfied with what I turned out to be - wife, mother, musician, writer, friend. My existence seemed pre-destined. My parents were grade school sweethearts, I was born smack in the middle of the baby boom generation, and followed society's well laid plan for a girl child raised in the 60's.
The pivotal instance that set my life in motion has to be the day my friend Lisa arranged for me to study piano with her teacher. Only 13 years old at the time, during my first year of study, my lesson was scheduled right before my teacher's star pupil, a 15 year old boy. Occasionally, I would stay behind long enough to hear him play the first few bars of the Chopin Military Polonaise or Brahms Requiem. I was totally enthralled with a teenage boy who could play music with such love and passion. Within the next few years, we began playing duets together. By the time I was 17 and he was 19, we were quite seriously in love. And when I was 20 - you guessed it. Reader, I married him.
So of course my life would have been completely different had I not gone to that first piano lesson. Not only would I not have my husband, I wouldn't have my son. Nor would I have music, at least not in the capacity I now do. I would likely have stuck to writing, which was my first passion in life, finished my four years of college, and maybe become a journalist, or even a full fledged hippie (I was a little radical back in the early 70's!).
But rather than feel excited or tempted by "what might have been," I feel more than a little frightened. How perilous is life, and how often we make decisions that lead us to life altering events without even knowing it. So - who might I have been? I don't know, but I'm awfully glad I ended up being just who I am.
Friday, August 4, 2006
Poetry Thursday - Arabesque
Light, skittering footsteps
propel her across the stage
her tiny body all grace and air
spinning, floating freely.
Alone she sparkles
long, slender limbs like wings
attitude of strength
beauty beyond compare.
Motion is joy
is flight, is freedom -
dizzying spins, wide leaps
full stops in repose.
The air is charged
with the heat of her movment
her passion ignites
every soul in the room.
Oh, the hours she has toiled
to reach this place
caught in the gaze
of 1000 eyes.
Held in the light
of such love and devotion
their admiration -nourishment
Wednesday, August 2, 2006
I, however, can be really merciless when it comes to tossing to the curb. I just need to be in the right mood. An ancient broken computer and monitor - gone. Some ugly tattered throw pillows and scruffy bric-a-brac - gone. Batches of cassette and VHS tapes - useless. Three ring binders filled with copies of meeting minutes from one of my musical groups going back 20 years - outta here!
So now I'm hot and sweaty, with a huge embarrasing pile of stuff lined up on my lawn. Nevertheless, I'm feeling pretty satisfied with myself. I've cleared some space, provided a little breathing room so I can set up my ironing board (very!) occasionally, or even retreat down there to read or write in a cool, quiet place should the fancy strike me.
Somehow I feel like I've cleared a corner of my mind as well. Once in a while I think we all need to do some housecleaning in our brains. Mine gets so cluttered up with my lists of "have to do's" and "should be doings" and "wish I could's." It gets so crowded up there in my mind that it's like my basement - there's no room to do anything productive because of all the junk that's cluttering up your thoughts. It's amazing how all that clearing out seems to have triggered a mental sorting out as well. I actually feel as if there's a nice corner of my brain that's now all neat and tidy, waiting for me to fill it with some really interesting ideas!
So tomorrow (assuming I can drag my aching bones out of bed), I'll be ready to tackle a whole new project, and who knows what it will be!