Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Ride Is Ready...Are You?

Everyone have your ticket? Strapped in and ready for another ride around the sun are you? Yes? Well, hurry please...there's so much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. Just remember, you can't get out backwards; you've got to go forward to go back. Alright then, ready?

If you have any problems, dial information. Thank you for calling.

Remembering My Own Past

In the months following my high school graduation, my parents bought a VERY strange and VERY old place in Silver City, Nevada that we moved into and then proceeded to remodel. The requisite title search of the property revealed it had been there prior to 1850; the earliest owner of record being Hosea and Ethan Grosh, the two brothers who found the first silver of what would eventually become known as The Comstock Lode, giving rise to the wealth and boom that built Silver City, Gold Hill, and Virginia City. Yep, the Virginia City of Mark Twain legend...that one.

Rustic in the extreme, the original part of the house was built into a mine drift and had 2 foot thick adobe walls! A drift is the part of a mine that goes straight back into a mountain, as opposed to a shaft, which of course goes either straight down or at a steep angle. You know the mine the Seven Dwarves go Hi-Ho-ing off to each morning? That's a drift style mine. Our house also had a wooden addition of living room and two bedrooms on the front, but NO bathroom at all. Well there was an outhouse, but that's not really a bathroom, now is it? The bathroom was the first thing dad worked on, and it was built in the space that opened to the drift. My bedroom looked out on the hill behind the house, and when the snows arrived in Fall my window was covered until Spring thaw. We actually ended up using the old mine drift as a pantry and cold storage area...would've been a brilliant wine cellar! Of course we also had to wipe out a healthy population of rats who'd been living there for ages, too. Not much fun. Our place was at 5,200 feet, at the foot of a set of igneous rock outcroppings called "Devil's Gate." I learned to bake in that house, too. In an antique cast-iron coal stove at high altitude. That's right, I know how to tell the temperature of an oven by throwing a little flour in and observing the colour. If you can bake in those conditions, modern appliances are, well, a piece of cake!

Living in Silver City in the early 70s was about as remote as it gets. We had one of the very last hand-crank telephone systems in the country. We all shared one line and had to signal the operator to place a call and signal again when finished! The only way to get any radio reception in our mountainous canyon was by climbing to the top of a hill. Early mornings the Carson City station played old Swing music of the 40s, so I'd climb up there at daybreak and dance to the sounds of Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw. A wild young thing dancing atop a mountain in an equally wild place..what a vision I must have been! Evenings found me taking a different path on the mountain to a very different destination. Around the back side of the hill was a cave that overlooked the green valley of a single farm - built on the one creek that ran through the area. The cave was decorated in petroglyphs and pictographs left by some ancient tribe, and became my safe haven and escape from the madness of my parent's house. It was my habit to arrive there in late afternoon, then watch as the sun dipped slowly below the horizon. A red-tailed hawk and I became great friends during that time, arriving in the valley each afternoon about the same time, then me quietly watching him weave and lift and glide and soar in a lovely sunset ballet right at my eye level. I have very fond memories of those quiet moments.

Other strange things happened in Silver City, too.

There was the morning I deviated from my normal hike to the top of the hill for Swing music and instead chose the route through the more-populated part of town (a total of some 70 people lived in Silver City when I was there). As I walked past the last couple of houses and headed into a completely unpopulated and remote area, a weird, disembodied voice spoke in a rasp from a faceless house "Hello pretty girl..." I kept walking, every sense aware, not even turning to look back. I only got a few feet further when my survival instincts kicked in. I took a very quick turn and then a headlong dash through a yard and a down different hill to get myself back to the safety of my own house and my dysfunctional but not murderous parents. I never went up that road again.
And there's the summer spent learning all about adobe as my dad and I rebuilt two of the other three adobe cabins on the property, using the third for brick and making some bricks ourselves, then mortaring them into place and finally painting the structure with lime-based whitewash. After my experience with THAT nasty stuff, I had a very fresh appreciation of why Tom Sawyer tricked his friends into doing the job of painting Aunt Polly's picket fence.

Or I could tell you about the time the stranger came to the door, something that SELDOM occurred because we were WAY out in the mountains, and you had to park your car and walk across a bridge to get to our house, a distance of some 100 yards or so - not terrifically inviting all in all. We saw him coming, and my mother had me train dad's loaded 22 pistol, with the safety off, on the guy, with instructions to "shoot if he tries ANYthing." He didn't, but there were some hairy moments.

And of course there's my own private Androcles and the Lion-esque tale of the wolf who came to the door one morning for help with a porcupine quill in his paw! Or at least, he was the size, shape, and had the obvious intelligence of a wolf. I was known by the locals as someone they could take their hurt animals to for care, and I guess word had gotten out within the wild animal community, too. This beautiful fellow just showed up one morning, standing on his hind legs, front paw on the glass of the kitchen door, looking me dead in the eye as I rounded the corner. You'd think I'd have screamed at such a sight, but I didn't. Instead, I went to the door and opened it...the animal slowly backing away as I did, noticeably not putting weight on one paw. I asked him what he wanted of me; he held that paw up and whimpered slightly. I could see the tip of a quill sticking out between his pads, so I turned for a set of pliers and approached him carefully. And he lay down and put his paw out to me. I quickly pulled the quill out, and he growled sternly from the pain, but immediately dropped his head, gave my hand a single lick, and then turned and disappeared into the hills. I never saw him again.

And I haven't told you about helping move the bodies from the old cemetary to make room for roadwork, or learning to handle and use dynamite, nor have I begun to tell any tales of my time down exploring the old mines...the big square shaft room into which I had to repel - one slip and I was gone forever. After doing all that, I went to the Mackay in Reno to learn the history I'd seen, first hand, and only then did I realise just how incredibly dangerous what I had been doing was. Wild, crazy, young and immortal.

Oh, the stories I shall take to my grave! Yeah, it was a VERY wild place, and but for being a 20 year old without a single friend in the area, and living with two constantly difficult people, I loved it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Shadoe 1996-2008

Shadoe 1996 - December 29, 2008
Our oldest and perhaps sweetest cat, dear little Shadoe, died this evening, a very short while ago. She had been failing for awhile, most likely due to some cancerous growth, so we knew her days were numbered. Forewarned doesn't make the loss even the tiniest shred easier, though. Maybe a part of the pain is tears for the truth that each one of us will die, too.

Shadoe was a dear little friend, so-named because after following me home from a nearby culvert where she'd been dumped by some unthinking idiot, seldom did she ever let me out of her sight again. She became a little grey shadow. Known in her younger years as "Slash," never have I seen a cat as fast and lethal as her, and I have the scars to prove it, too. The windows were sometimes left open in the spring, and now and then a hapless bird would find its way in. I remember coming home one day to find the very tip of a wing and just the head of a little brown wren. Sitting in the sunny spot on the floor, carefully cleaning herself, was an extremely self-satisfied Shadoe.
Shadoe preferred sleeping on our shoulders, often while we worked at the computer, but she was especially fond of Peter's warmth and broad expanse.

Ron and Shadoe had a special connection, too, and his strangely delayed visit this year meant they spent her last good month together...usually sitting in a chair, his hand resting where she could press against it for some love. Obviously, the delay happened for a reason. As you can see, they were both perfectly happy with her sprawled across his comfie chest, too.

Shadoe's cremated remains will join our other friends, Tish, Buster, Raddish, and Ivy, and eventually I will join all who have gone before. Someday we will all meet up again at the Rainbow Bridge.

The One Second Happening

Alice's Church (not Restaurant...that's on down the road)

The U.S. Naval Observatory, keeper of the Pentagon's master clock, said it would add the extra second on Wednesday in coordination with the world's atomic clocks at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC.

That corresponds to 6:59:59 p.m. EST (23:59:59 GMT), when an extra second will tick by -- the 24th to be added to UTC since 1972, when the practice began.

So a single extra second is being added to our New Year's Eve this year, and that has me thinking about what one might DO with such finite bounty. I mean, what could we do, COLLECTIVELY, that might actually make a difference? WELL...

I received the following suggestion via a Druid friend, and I think it's a GRAND idea:

“Idea: since the pentagon is stopping the clock to catch up to earths rotation, we get an entire extra second this New Years. How about we all use that second to call out, 'Peace!'?"

So here's the plan. On Wednesday, the 31st of December, at whatever local adjusted time corresponds to the official 23:59:59 GMT time of addition (3:59:59pm Pacific Daylight Savings time, for example), let's all just stop wherever we are and cry out to the Cosmos "PEACE!"

To end this on a note of good humour and hope, I'll let Arlo Guthrie speak his famous conclusion to Alice's Restaurant:

"And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if you're in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in and say "Shrink, you can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant," and walk out. You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them. And if three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in, singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant, and walking out? They may think it's an organization. And can you, I mean, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in, singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends, they may think it's a movement."

That's right, folks, we ARE a movement. A movement for hope and peace and ALL that groovy jazz. So stop what you're doing Wednesday afternoon and give a big ol' shout out for PEACE! Now why not sing along with Arlo and me...

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

God Give Me Strength

Round, like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel, never ending or beginning on an ever-spinning reel...Like a tunnel that you follow to a tunnel of its own, down a hollow to a cavern where the sun has never shone, like a door that keeps revolving in a half-forgotten dream, like the ripples from a pebble someone tosses in a stream. - from Windmills of Your Mind

Today. Finally. Finally. Finally I heard from him. Was it the cry from my torn heart he heard? Or the vow to "wipe him from my memory...fracture the spell" that I wrote in stark letters last night as I sat in bed, weeping for the lost love, because I still missed him so much, because I had "lost the power to pretend that there could ever be a happy ending?" Those words are in quotes because they're from a Burt Bacharach song that played in my head all night long, God Give Me Strength. Here's the Kristen Vigard version from the exquisite jewel of a film, "Grace Of My Heart," starring Illeana Douglas

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Uplift - 1929's The Swan

This Walter Futter Novelty short shows how black & white photography can project a color of its own, as two white swans glide along a morning pond in the company of seventeen graceful swans all scored to the orchestral music of Camille Saint-Saens "The Swan" from Carnival of the Animals. This so reminds me of my dear goose friends, left behind in their bucolic setting on Brushy Creek.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Brother, Can You Spare a anthem for our times

As I sit here with a full belly and warm house, bemoaning my lack of funds, I cannot help but think about the people either about to be or already on the streets due to our failing economy. I worry that the weight of the terrible mess he's inheriting will crush Barrack, his underpinnings already ravaged by the tremendous tide of our expectations. When I think of the hunger and want and the desire most have to actively help themselves, I often find myself singing a song written in 1932 by the same fellow who penned the lyrics to "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," Yip Yarburg. Strikes me "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime" could be an anthem for our current times, too. And so I offer a more modern take on that sad and wonderful song of the Great Depression, this time featuring Dr. John and Odetta over photos of the world right outside your door. Most of us aren't but a paycheck or two away from the streets...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Santa Baby

I heard this morning that one of my icons of cool courage, Eartha Kitt, died yesterday at age 89. Thanks to my mother's eclectic tastes in music, I knew about Ms. Kitt early on. During Christmas season in the 70s and 80s, I constantly called radio station request lines asking they play "Santa Baby," which it seemed no one had heard of by then. She was such a richly-textured performer, and I think it fitting she died on Christmas Day. What a gift to Heaven...or Hell...wherever she chooses to be will be better for her presence. From one broad to another, what a woman!

Santa Baby

C'est Si Bon

Cheer and Hope - Christmas is Over!

Kids, did Santa let you down? Are you suddenly strapped with cash and need to find something truly uplifting to spend it on? Do I have the product for YOU!

Found this over at the Really Important Stuff blog, and had to leverage it for my own dark designs. I found the individual, non-interlocking puzzle pieces at the end a tad ironic..and sad. I mean, YOU're great...YOU, not you as a part of society or working with others...just YOU! Don't you just KNOW the folks who put this together long for the salad days of the 90s again? *sigh*

If this isn't funny enough for you (and bleakly depressing at the same time), allow me to point you to the Fail Blog, always good for a laugh.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


I have ALMOST gotten through another Christmas Day, and thank the STARS it's over! Without family or friends, this is a day I would LOVE to avoid, but it is the Giant Holiday that consumes everything in its path, and its PATH is Cosmic Wide (Hey! I just heard ZZ Top singing! "We're naaaationnnnwide").

Thank goodness, those Krazy Kidz over at sent me a lovely bit of guidance for NEXT year. Do I have any volunteers?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Another Turning of the Great Cosmic Wheel

Tis the season for unconditional love, folks, even if, like me, your house is devoid of any sign of the Holidays and the only celebration this year is the joy of making it through another one. Still, music and food WILL be had here to celebrate another turning of the Great Wheel, so come ON and join me in singing with the exquisite Annie Lennox and sincerely soulful Rev. Al Green! Put a little love in your heart, y'all!

And since I have you in the mood, here's the best new Christmas song that's been delivered in just ages. Sung by Mariah Carey, "All I Want For Christmas Is You" was featured in a favourite movie, Love, Actually.

To close out my take on Christmas, it's music and meaning, I offer John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" May this song be prophetic and bring the world an end to the terrible divisiveness all around the globe. We are all connected, we are all one.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bailey the Unknown Reindeer

Snowed in, I was thinking about my dog of thirty years ago, Morticia Vampira Tombstone (yeah, I was a tad Goth at the time), aka Tish or "the Hoover", who as a puppy loved to run headfirst into snow drifts and then just run around under the snow. She'd suddenly pop up unexpectedly with a grin from ear to ear, then dive right back in for more fun. Only television stations owned video equipment back in 1971, so I have only my fond memories of sweet Tish, but luckily a man in Colorado has both the equipment and a dog who also enjoys a good romp in deep snow. So as a special holiday treat, here's Harry Connick, Jr. accompanying Bailey, The Unknown Reindeer as he shows you how to REALLY enjoy being snowed in! Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kill the Wabbit!

Just because I'm a little blue tonight, or maybe because it's Christmas and I'm doing my level best to ignore that fact, or maybe it's just cabin fever after all this snow and ice keeping me off my bike, but I felt like watching some classic cartoons this afternoon, and that, of course landed me on "What's Opera, Doc?" from 1957.

This brilliantly conceived and executed cartoon of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) and Tannhäuser, featuring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd was, in 1994, voted #1 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by 1000 members of the animation field. Enjoy...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ten Most Challenged Books of 2007

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

I'm always amazed by the fear people wield like a shield against the light of knowledge. Taken in a vacuum, a single piece of knowledge can certainly be harmful, but one of the beautiful truths of reading a book is you usually want to read another and another and another. And knowledge, my friends, is power. Power to choose hope instead of fear, love instead of hate, inclusion rather than exclusion. Every time I read a banned books list, I am roll-my-eyes amused by the omnipresence of Twain and Angelou. Nice to see Toni Morrison got bumped this year, though. READ. THINK. Question ANYone who wants to do your thinking and/or decision making FOR you.

The American Library Association received 420 challenges last year. A challenge is a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school asking that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.

1. “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-ethnic, sexism, homosexuality, anti-family, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
2. “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually explicit, offensive language, violence
3. “Olive’s Ocean” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually explicit and offensive language
4. “The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious viewpoint
5. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain
Reasons: Racism
6. “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language
7. “TTYL” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group
8. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually explicit
9. “It’s Perfectly Normal” by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex education, sexually explicit ***NOTE*** There was no Wikipedia entry for this book, so I have substituted the author's page as the link.
10. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group

Off the list this year are two books by author Toni Morrison, “The Bluest Eye” and “Beloved,” both previously challenged for sexual content and offensive language.

Source: The American Library Association

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cowzy tweet and sowzy tweet and liddle sharksy doisters.

More snow this morning and afternoon...3" flakes coming down like a lovely curtain atop the crunchy layer already in place. And so, after a lovely bowl of gruel with cocoa powder, cinnamon and brown sugar, I have retreated to my studio with tea, and my wonderful parabolic dish heater. Brady, youngest of my feline friends, sat and yowled outside my closed door, so I finally took pity on him. He's now curled up on my meditation pillow in front of the heater as the snow falls outside.

Listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong magically singing together on "Isn't It A Lovely Day" (to be cozy and warm), I thought I'd see if I could find a video of them singing that song. No luck with that, but I did happen upon my father's all-time favourite singer, Margaret Whiting, joined by Johnny Mercer (yes, THAT Johnny Mercer) on their marvelous hit "Baby, It's Cold Outside."

The wonderful and vastly underrated Johnny Mercer led me down a path that eventually found me watching 16 year old Ella Mae Morse sing"Cow Cow Boogie," a song my jazz-drummer mother used to sing to me when I was very little. And if this swinging tune doesn't flip your wig, try The House of Blue Lights, homie! This chick was SWINGING, all you cats and kitties!

Mom also taught me a bunch of terrific nonsense songs, such as Kay Kyser's Three Little Fishies (Itty Bitty Poo), Mairzy Doats, The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down, and Roll Or Bowl A Ball A Penny A Pitch. I used to go around singing those silly things and got the STRANGEST looks from my classmates. I've never cared much about what anyone thought of my musical choices, though. I just adore music of every kind. Well, except for reggae. Bet you thought I was going to say "rap," didn't you? Nope, there's a bunch of rap I really enjoy. More all the time, in fact. And to be fair, there are two reggae-ish songs I like (neither involves Bob Marley), but mostly I can't stand the treacly stuff.

And finally, a long-time favourite. Joni and Herbie each live a life in which re-examination plays a crucial part, as it does in mine. They re-examined and redefined and reimagined the already exquisite "River," creating a lovely blend of voice and piano that resonates with their years of life experience. Deservingly, Herbie Hancock won the 2008 Grammy for Best Album of the Year for River. I found a live version of Joni's from Albert Hall in London, 1970, and it's wonderful to hear, too, but having a plethora of life experience myself, I rather prefer the Hancock version now. Just lovely.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Symbiotic Relationship

The bench and bramble outside my studio window

It started snowing night before last, and child that I am, I was jumping up and down and grinning like an idiot and running around whooping like some ungainly wild bird. I HAD to go out and dance around in the yard, head back, arms outstretched while the snow fell into my open mouth. Yesterday I crunched around the back to take photos while the sun was out...reference shots for painting. I do SO want to get a good grasp of painting the shadows and light of a snowy vista. I made a single ATC last night...and I actually managed to get some of the look of snow I've had in my head.

Nothing like practicing on a small size...there's something SO much less intimidating about working small, even though a lot of people would find work on that scale MORE daunting than on a regular ol' canvas. Not me. I aDORE painting LARGE. For example, I have one canvas hanging in the stairwell that's 4 x 6 feet. Big abstract piece I did entirely by using my hands to paint. No brushes, hands and body know what to do without interference from some appendage! I was smack in the middle of painting my bedroom at the Texas house, JUST after buying it, and my excitement spilled over onto the canvas. I always saw it as a champagne explosion, but my dad didn't. Dad pronounced it "brilliant" and declared it was my "best work ever." Who am I to argue with someone so clearly discerning and intelligent? Ha! He loved it so much I gave it to him on the spot, and it hung over his bed until he died.

I love working large...and small. It's the medium, the middle of the road, the mediocre that puts me off. The way my inner eye works is either on the grand cosmic scale or on the macro level of extreme detail. Or as Peter is likely to share when asked about me, "Oh she sees every detail, both tremendous and tiny, but is seldom aware of the Mack Truck barreling down on her." And of course the irony of all this as reflected by my spiritual path is NOT lost on me - "Seek the Middle Way." Ah me.

Between having a friend staying here the month of November, and then traveling to Salem, Oregon and back the following week my creative energies really unraveled. I adore the train ride and find it actually boosts my inner energies; I always end up writing poetry while looking at the world going by. But I'm finding it so hard to get back to work again. Rather, I seem to prefer playing computer games, losing myself for hours in a match-three or hidden object game. Mindless fiddling while Rome burns around me.

Curiously enough, it's not so much the 2D art that calls to me as it is my long put-aside sculpting. As my sensibilities have changed since returning to my beloved north woods and wind-tossed sea - and oh, they have, they have! - I cannot help but wonder what kind of sculpted creatures will issue forth now that I am no longer pushed by dreams of aggressive deer and stealthy cougars, by wakeful worries that chewed on my body and mind. With my parents gone long enough now that the edges of the damage they did me all the days of their lives have softened, I find the corresponding tension I carried forever in my shoulders has dropped. I was once the angriest person a number of people had ever known..they told me so. I'm so far from that person now that I doubt they'd even recognise me any longer. When I hit menopause, I made a intentional decision (remember, intent is everything) to choose smiles over scowls, trust over fear, love over hate. And you know? It's really hard to hold onto all the pain (anger is merely pain turned into something one can express with a modicum of perceived - not real - control) when you're in that centered place. See, there's that Middle Way again. Ha! But really, about the only torture that still has any hold over me (aside from fears of certain economic inadequacies and wondering if I'll ever have a partner-in-love again) is that of my own regrettable behaviour. Fear of repeating my ancient ways keeps me in hiding and causes me to lay awake, staring at the ceiling in the dark as the Greek Chorus in my head chants its blame and shame refrain. Yep, I'm stuck on the Train of Blame and Shame, an old refrain, again and again (re)borne of pain. But a life without shame means I have to explain that the pain simply offered no gain, and the sad main refrain, without feeling slain, can be finally, entirely be flushed down the drain. Hmmm...seems as though there's one of my oddly dark humoured poems in there somewhere.

Part of the good news in my attitude and latitude change (help, I can't stop rhyming!) is that I no longer consider death a ready option, a friend I can turn to if life can no longer be tolerated. And the most curious part is that I have been able to put aside those thoughts beCAUSE I now have an easy method to accomplish my own demise. No longer do I have to grapple with thoughts of how to accomplish the end without gore or pain. That, tender reader, has been deliciously and delicately solved for me. I shan't share HOW, for I don't wish some well-meaning idiot to interfere, but suffice it to say that I am set should the real need arise. But ever since I realised I could, without pain or an iffy outcome, I no longer think about it at all! Curious, no? After so many decades of justifying suicide in perfectly lucid, rational, logical terms I tell you it gives me pause to think that perhaps "suicidal ideation" truly WAS the ultimate truth of my thoughts. But either way, I have now put that thought utterly aside (unless the world blows up and I'm left to suffer the ravages of fate, or some wasting disease takes hold, in which case I am OUTTA here). Of course, having a thorough understanding (via experience, mostly) of the Cosmos' sense of humour, I'm aware that now that I've moved on from offing myself, some outer thing is more likely to strike me down. You don't believe the Cosmos HAS a sense of humor? Take another look at the reproductive act between humans. Is there ANYthing more ridiculous than two humans getting it on? Rabbits and hamsters look less silly than we do! At least they're quick about it. Humans (she said, rolling her eyes) need fore and afterplay, among other things. *sigh* We are a ridiculous species, all in all.

Seagull skull in the snow

So I started with childlike wonder at freshly fallen snow and have ended with a wizzened crone's view of sex. I'm certain there's a symbiotic relationship or two in there somewhere...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Uplift: In praise of snow's shadows and light

Snow on Brushy Creek, Texas

It snowed last night! I'm not sure why the first snow of the season is so exciting but it always is. This morning the world is blanketed in white, changing everything in this artist's eyes. In a way, this is a response to a wish, for I've been working on painting snow scenes recently, trying to learn the change of light and colour that happens with snow.

I mean, you think of snow as white, right? Well just as with the "green" of trees, there are a myriad of colours lurking within that "white." Blues, purples, greys, yellows, reds...I see all those and more. Now to find a way to capture them with paint.

Honestly? I find little in art compares to the majesty in nature. Doesn't mean I won't keep trying to capture the way nature feels, mind. I'm just sayin'...

And so we get to the Sunday Uplift segment of our programming. Today I have combined the wonder of nature, snow, and art with a lovely short film created for the Shaker gallery of Greenwillow Farm depicting the Agano Snow Scene by Japanese woodcut master Hiroshige. For more information visit - video produced by

As a wee bonus, just in case anyone reading this has gotten cold with all the talk of snow, here's a fire to warm your virtual cockles...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fearless Frida

This one's for you, on sentences and all.

Before Pen and I became friends of the bosom (her dear phrase) I knew about Frida, of course, but then the marvelous movie came out and then I was redoing my cement floors (texture, stain, wax, repeat as needed), and Pen was up to her elbows and more, helping (artist and indefatigueable creative soul that she was at the time), and she loathed most of my music (Joni aside, of course), so she brought her own - Randy Travis and the soundtrack to Frida. *Deep breath* WELL. Randy Travis was every bit as out of the question as Whitesnake would have been if I'd had any, which I am happy and even a little proud to report I didn't, so we popped Frida in and the first strains of Lila Downs' magnificent voice singing "Benediction and Dream" swelled to fill the not-insubstantial cathedral-ceilinged room.

I was hooked, and hooked but good. Pen literally wore that cd out by playing it to DEATH over the next year, and it had to be replaced. Fortunately, her husband was wise enough to copy it after the second purchase, keeping the original in a safe and paint-free place for when it will invariably be needed again.

Frida was an enigmatic woman, and profoundly courageous in the face of so much terrible pain. I suppose the thing that most appeals about her to me is the intense fearlessness she displayed, painting her truth onto canvas for those with the soul to see.

Frida was married to Diego Rivera, another phenomenal Mexican artist held in high international regard. Here's a little love song over photos of them together:

The floor? Beyond most people's wildest dreams...textured, stained, and waxed.

The Saddest Song

Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings is, in my opinion, the most heartbreaking piece of music ever written. It has been used magnificently in a number of films to evoke a devastating mood, including Platoon, The Elephant Man, and Amelie among many others.

In 2004, Barber's masterpiece was voted the "saddest classical" work ever written by listeners of the BBC's Today program, ahead of "Dido's Lament" from Dido and Æneas by Henry Purcell, the "Adagietto" from Gustav Mahler's 5th symphony, "Metamorphosen" by Richard Strauss and "Gloomy Sunday" as sung by Billie Holiday.

Because of the overall arc of despair, then hope, sadness then acceptance in the piece, I find it the perfect auditory depiction of the human condition, and especially of our modern world with all its joy and madness and constant, pressing change we must embrace or perish. A music version of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' Five Stages of Grief; Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

Here, Leonard Slatkin Conducts the BBC Orchestra on September 15 2001 in honor of those who lost their lives a few days prior. Visuals from BBC's 'Last Night of the Proms' and ABC's 'Report from ground zero'.

National Public Radio's All Things Considered, had this to say: "In November 1938, conductor Arturo Toscanini led the NBC Symphony Orchestra in the premiere performance of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings." The concert was broadcast from New York to a radio audience of millions across America.

Celebrated for its fragile simplicity and emotion, the "Adagio" might have seemed an odd match for Toscanini, known for his power and drama as a conductor. But according to Mortimer Frank, author of Arturo Toscanini: The NBC Years, despite the director's force and intensity, he was capable of "wonderful delicacy and tenderness and gentleness."

The year 1938 was a time of tumult. America was still recovering from the Depression and Hitler's Germany was pushing the world towards war. Toscanini himself had only recently settled in America after fleeing fascist Italy. The importance of the broadcast performance during this time is noted by Joe Horowitz, author of Understanding Toscanini: "Toscanini's concerts in New York... once he was so closely identified with the opposition to Mussolini, the opposition to Hitler — these were the peak public performances in the history of classical music in America. I don't think any concerts before or since excited such an intense emotional response, and I don't think any concerts before or since evoked such an intense sense of moral mission."

The "Adagio for Strings" was written by American composer Samuel Barber when he was in his 20s. With a tense melodic line and taut harmonies, the composition is considered by many to be the most popular of all 20th-century orchestral works.

"You never are in any doubt about what this piece is about, says music historian Barbara Heyman. "There's a kind of sadness and poetry about it. It has a melodic gesture that reaches an arch, like a big sigh... and then exhales and fades off into nothingness."

Barber also wrote a chorale version for Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) that I find even more haunting than the string version because of the intricacies and complexities of the human voice. Here it is performed by The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge,UK, Directed by Richard Marlow.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Heart Sutra

Earlier today, in an attempt to help a friend on her path, I looked again to my center for answers. On the train home from Portland Friday last, I wrote a poem that seemed to apply to my purpose today:

Considering the past
As through a future filter
I see only impermanence.
As a tree is to a forest,
so is a building to the city;
my cell to my blood;
my blood to my body;
my smile to your laughter.
Wonder to possibility,
possibility to reality.
We're all one -
Connecting -
Inseparable -
Forever and never,
Permanent and transitory.

As I re-read what I'd written, it seemed clear to me that it was an attempt to express that which the Buddhist Heart Sutra expresses so eloquently. In searching for a concise and accessible form for my friend, I remembered how moved I always am by the scene in Little Buddha in which part of the Heart Sutra is recited. "Form is emptiness...emptiness is form."

"No hindrance of thoughts and therefore no fear..."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Palin Goes Rogue

After observing Sarah Palin for awhile now, it is my sadly too-experienced opinion that she is a Pathological Narcissist. My mother and sister were both PNs, my former spousal unit was, and I certainly have strong narcissistic tendencies in me, though they don't present at pathological levels. Because of my awareness, I have done my level best to nip any growth in the bud.

Not sure what a Pathological Narcissist is? The Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, aka the DSM, revision 4 (which is the current psychological diagnosis standard for the medical community) lists the disorder as number 301.81; Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I have compiled and written an entire web page on the subject, so if you really want to understand it enough to decide for yourself regarding Ms. Palin, please read my page.

Pathological Narcissists are dangerous creatures, for they are utterly without conscience. Want an example? Bill Clinton. Yep, he's been labeled as a PN by a tremendous number of people in the know. I don't happen to dislike Bill or care about his dalliances, but the fact stands that he has no guilt or shame about the Oval Office episode; witness his "I did not have sex with that woman." Sigh...yes, Bill. You did. But he truly believed he didn't, as only a Narcissist can.

Another easy example? OJ Simpson. Yep. Starting to see the pattern? These people do not believe in accountibility in connection with their own actions, and suffer no sleepless nights worrying about what people might think of them. They're empty shells, and they KNOW they're empty, and that makes them cruel at the core.

Sarah Palin is a dangerous person, and cannot be allowed into the second highest office in our land.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Get Yer Fedoras and Overcoats Ready!

Part of the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC

More grim economic news today. General Motors needs a mega-bailout to keep from going bankrupt. It is projected by the omnipresent Pundits that if GM goes under, an estimated Two Million (that's 2,000,000) people will either lose their jobs or be directly affected.

Can you say "soup line"? How about "bread line"? The human toll of an economic crash and the ensuing catastrophic ripples are beyond my reckoning. I can study the Great Depression of the nineteen thirties and form some small understanding of the overall social effect, and I learned a lot about how it affected the individual by listening to my parents. My mother was ten in 1929, and her family owned an essential service - a feed store - so she had little memory of undue hardships. My father was twenty in 1929, and newly married, soon to have three little ones with their constant set of needs, so he was responsible for five people's lives, not just his one. He said it was hard, but if you were willing to really dig in and work, jobs could be found. Knowing my dad as I do, he busted his butt keeping his family fed and sheltered. I don't think he knew how to behave any other way. As my mother used to say "Your father was always a great provider." Doesn't sound like much of a compliment, these days, but someone who could be counted on to make sure his wife and children never went hungry, never needed for shelter or shoes, well in hard times there are few higher compliments to be had, I should think.

So many people struggled just to live during the Thirties, and there were so fewer people than there are today.

My dad taught me to "make the world a better place for your having been here." So when faced with a crisis such as the current worldwide situation, my eye begins to search for ways I can help, some possibility of making a positive difference for the world.

One person who made a tangible difference was Dorothea Lange, a tremendous photographer and journalist who is probably best known for her work documenting the human toll of the Great Depression. Her images were instrumental in getting the politicians and other power brokers to act, to make a difference for so many hungry, hopeless individuals.

But what can each of us do? Each of us is only one tiny voice in the midst of a tremendous choreutic upswell, and will never be heard, will never matter, you say? "Rubbish! Nonsense! Bosh!" Each of us matters, and our voices, both individually and collectively, are very, very important.

Here's what I suggest; get to a library and spend the few minutes it takes to read Dr. Seuss' slim volume of wisdom, "Horton Hears A Who."

There you will learn that each one of us, joined with others, adds up to a voice that CAN be heard. And never, EVER forget that "a person's a person, no matter how small."

We are here, we are here, WE ARE HEEEERRE!

Tomorrow; The Lorax...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

TR2N...Only Three Years To Go...

In front of my nice flat screen monitor sits a lovely clear, aqua blue with white markings Flynn doll from that was sold as an advertisting adjunct to the movie Tron, circa 1982. Yeah, well, I also have two lightcycles (complete with their little gear-toothed ripcord, and original Luke Skywalker, Republic Stormtrooper, and Jabba Fett are lurking nearby, so eat your heart out. Tis but one of the benefits of being an ancient nrrd-grrl! Ha!

There's finally a sequel on the horizon, due out sometime in 2011, and there're all kinds of rumours and tantalizing glimpses of possibilities buzzing around the Net, foremost of which is the bootlegged video of the trailer shown at Comic Con this year. It's fuzzy, but you can see enough of the toys and tricks to get excited, and that's what matters to We the Sci-Fi Nerds. Here it is:

I'll leave you with two trailers for the original Tron movie. First, the original trailer that was released with the film in '82, and then a trailer that was created by one "Master of the Cut" on YouTube's HDFINC's Channel.

I'll let you be the arbiter of taste here...which do you think is better?

The original version:

The recreation:

Sunday Uplift - Joni Mitchell's Ballet

I have a long-standing tradition of intellectual uplift on Sundays. In my thirties I used to pedal down to a local bakery, grab some strong coffee and a sweet roll, buy a NYTimes, and sit in the morning sun, enjoying the lot. In my forties, the coffee was still strong but came from my own pot; the newspaper was delivered to my door, and it became my tradition to listen to Billie Holliday or Jean Pierre Rampal or Jean Michel Jarre or any other jazz that fit the feel of my Sunday Morning Uplift tradition. Late in my forties, I got hooked on watching the CBS Sunday Morning program, and my early fifties were devoted to the marvelous music of the 30s, 40s, and 50s - Eddy Duchin, Johnny Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael, The Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers, Stan Getz and Miles Davis, and of course Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Now that I'm in my mid-fifties, I have let my lofty traditional slip a bit, but the idea of an intellectually uplifting Sunday still has tremendous lure for me. And so I offer you the first in an ongoing series of Sunday morning treats engineered to give your spirit wings and loft enough to let you glide neatly through Monday and into Tuesday before the drag of the workweek brings you back to ground.
Joni Mitchell collaborated with Jean Grand-Maître, Alberta Ballet’s Artistic Director to create a ballet titled "The Fiddle and the Drum," centered around some of her most unusual and exquisite works. Though far from her most popular music, these are some of my favourites.  The ballet is ramping up for its second season in Feb.09, with some new songs added, too!  

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Andy's Gang

As a toddler, there were two television characters that I can remember vividly. One was Arthur Godfrey, who I loathed. When his show came on, I put my hands over my ears and ran around shrieking "Awful Gawful! Awful Gawful!" And the other was Andy Devine on the show "Andy's Gang." I absolutely adored Andy Devine, he seemed safe to me on every level, and I laughed with glee whenever he sat down to tell a story. So today I'm going to offer you three Andy's Gang videos, featuring Sabu. There will be NO Awful Gawful forthcoming...

Denny Crane's Fatal Flaw

First of all, you have to understand that I am in love with Denny Crane.

If you don't already know, Denny Crane is the character William Shatner has played for 8 years on Boston Legal, a television program on the ABC network. Denny Crane is an eccentric man, and a staunch conservative Republican. One his centralmost foiables (my opinion) is his strong opposition to gun control, claiming that "It's for communists." He keeps a veritable armory of weapons, loaded, in his office, and has used them, in the workplace, on more than one occasion.

If you know me at all, or have even been reading this blog, you'll have noticed I am far from a conservative anything, especially a Republican. So Denny and I are diametrically opposed in our political views, and likely in our social principles, too. But our core values are aligned, and that is what so moves me about Denny. His approach is simple; life is for living, and far too short for all the misery people seem to prefer over joie de vivre. Denny has a lust for life that few men a quarter his age have, and that's what plucks my magic twanger, Froggy. As an aside, that last bit's an obscure reference to a VERY strange character (Froggy the Gremlin) on a Saturday morning kids show I barely remember from the 5os called "Andy's Gang," with Andy Devine, who I just adored Here's some rare footage of Andy and Froggy

There's a strange symbiosis in having Denny Crane and Froggy the Gremlin in the same post...

But back to Denny. In forming my focused Cosmic intent for a Great Love, fleshing out the man I'd like to find, I came to the realization that, beyond the obvious differences in our political and social views, Denny has a fatal flaw as a potential partner. Denny is, I have absolutely zero doubt, techno-phobic. I mean, can you imagine him using anything beyond the occasional cell phone? Computers? I don't think so, he'd tell you that's what secretaries are for (among other things). An iPod? "Why?" he'd ask, taking another pull on his cigar and a swig of scotch, "When I have a perfectly good stereo, and Boston has wonderful clubs and the Symphony, all of which would be thrilled to have Denny Crane grace their establishments?"

Sadly, I now know that Denny and I are doomed to failure, for the man I embrace and offer the depth of my delights must be ALIVE, embracing the new as well as dancing to the old.

So if you're a voracious reader, piercingly intelligent, like the oldies but you've an appreciation for hip-hop and maybe even the occasional bit of rap; if trying new things sounds like fun; if dancing is something you enjoy and howling or singing doesn't seem daunting, and all of this and everything else around you makes you laugh, why not drop me a line? Oh, and if you're a conservative, be prepared for heated debates.

Seriously, I'd love to hear from you...maybe you'll get lucky and pluck my magic twanger!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Marvelous Musical Artist

Geoffrey Castle is an absolutely amazing violinist whose work I recommend to everyone who appreciates great music. I was fortunate to be at our local Farmer's Market one Saturday when he was there, playing to a VERY full house. I snagged his cd, and it quickly became a favourite. He has an album of Christmas music out now, and I hope someone who reads this will decide they should put a copy in my hands soon. Ha!
There's another cd in the works for Mr. Castle, and is due out any time now. All his cds can be purchased from Twisted Fiddle Music.

Here's a video treat, Geoffrey Castle performing "Float Downstream" (there are links to more videos after the finish):

Questions and Shame

First of all, I REALLY need someone to tell me what the problem is with Socialism. One blog that helps a bit is "The Economics of Social Ownership." I THINK the poster above explains the underlying aversion of many, but do they really understand Socialism?

I've needed this answer since I was a teenager, btw. I came home from school one day and announced "I think Socialism is a good idea." My father came unDONE. "Who's putting these ideas in your head?!?" he shouted. "I read some books and figured it out for myself!" I yelled back. "You don't just come up with an idea like that, someone had to give it to you!" Yeah, there were a lot of exclamation points in that dialog. I'm STILL miffed at my dad about his apparent assumption that I couldn't have an idea of my own. That really chapped my hide, and still does.

For decades I've visited places that were Socialist Democracies - Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Canada, England, Germany, Australia, etc. It has seemed to me throughout the years that the people living in those socialised countries were better cared for than a lot of the people here or in pure-d monarchies or dictatorships around the world. So I have never understood the extreme reaction in this country to the idea of Socialism.

On a separate but related note, I saw where a GOP official in New Mexico had a letter published in the local paper that made a number of sadly ignorant and inflammatory statements about Muslims, and specifically called Barrack Obama "a muslim socialist." Otero County's GOP Head, Interior Decorator Marcia Stirman has been asked by the Otero County GOP Chairwoman, Sassy Tinling, to step down after a fairly massive outcry against the letter. All I can say is "wow." I mean, in this day and age seeing the AP wield archaic terms such as "interior decorator" and "chairwoman" is pretty stunning, and then there's that name "Sassy.." What? Oh the bit about Obama being called "a muslim solicalist?" Well his middle name IS Hussein!

The core point here is, why should it make any difference WHAT religion a candidate is? I don't remember American History class teaching us that the Pilgrims fled Europe in order to practice only Christianity. "Religious freedom" is the term I remember best. Not "freedom to be Christian," but "freedom of religion." The underlying intent seems clean to me; Ya gets ta be whateveh ya wants ta here.

Can you imagine being a Muslim in this country right now? Does ANYone think we're making the situation with the Peoples of the Middle East any better by out and out loathing anyone who even looks like someone's idea of a Muslim? Does ANYone else remember Hitler and his racial profiling, or the painful embarrassment of the Japanese Interment camps here in the US during WWII? I remember my first MIL, who was Chinese, telling me how they saved their Japanese friends' things for them when they were taken away to the camps, and of how she had to wear a big pin on her coat that stated "I am Chinese." MIT has a terrific Asian American Studies site, including a stunning WWII pamphlet on How to Tell Japs From the Chinese."

I was born years after WWII's end, and when I was 12 my first real boyfriend was the son of a half-Japanese man and his very blond Caucasian wife. In otherwords, Bob was 1/4 Japanese, and his father was a bonafide American war hero, to boot! Once again, my father came unDONE. Fortunately, my mother prevailed, and Bob ended up sharing my first kiss, a very fond memory.

I think the most dangerous emotion is fear. And people in this country are afraid right now. Afraid of being hurt, killed, but most of all afraid that our quiet little lives will be taken away somehow. Disrupted and changed, and change is the scariest thing of all when you've been top dog forever. The challenge facing the world right now, and in particular the American People, is to release our fears and embrace the possiblities inherent in change. We can do it, folks. Smile at one another, give someone a helping hand or appreciation, love one another and laugh. Let's not take it all so damned serious, okay? Please?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Palin and Powell

I watched SNL last night, where Sarah Palin made an appearance that I actually think was a poor idea. The opening segment with the juxtaposition of Tina Fey doing her impression of Palin and Palin watching it backstage was terrific, and I was pleased to see the writers didn't pander to the Veep's presence. But later in the show, Palin joined Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers on the Weekend Update, where a funny rap was performed that she bopped along with, but that made her look complicit in the acceptance of her lampooned image. She should have stopped with the first sketch and come out ahead. Here're some of the lyrics:

’m Jeremiah Wright cause tonight I’m the preacha
I got a bookish look and you’re all hot for teacha
Todd lookin fine on his snow machine
So hot boy gonna need a go between
In Wasilla we just chill baby chilla
But when I see oil let’s drill baby drilla

The REAL news came this morning on Meet The Press, where Gen. Colin Powell gave a VERY articulate summation of the two Presidential candidates, and concluded with his well-considered endorsement. Take a look...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Am The Star

Took one of those silly online tests today...the "Which ____ (animal, mineral, vegetable, etc.) Are You? This one was interesting/accurate enough - and I'm so swamped - that it will serve as today's entry. So which tarot card are YOU?

You are The Star

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Star is one of the great cards of faith, dreams realised

The Star is a card that looks to the future. It does not predict any immediate or powerful change, but it does predict hope and healing. This card suggests clarity of vision, spiritual insight. And, most importantly, that unexpected help will be coming, with water to quench your thirst, with a guiding light to the future. They might say you're a dreamer, but you're not the only one.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Urge for Going

The bramble outside my window is turning gold, the berries rotting and turning to hard little knots of former promise. Such bounty left on the vine is wrong, I always think, my Scot ancestors letting themselves be heard. But then I think of the lovely new set of jams and jellies in the pantry, and the crock of cordial fermenting on the counter, and I am satisifed. I see hundreds of birds flittering in and out of the bramble, too, eating berries and putting on the fat required of either migration southward or enduring the winter here.

Although humans don't migrate, per se, there must surely still be some remnant of reptilian brain within me, for every year at this time I long to GO. To get in my bus and drive to the sea or into the mountains. I long to walk amongst the falling down of the year and smell the forest as it decays beneath a new layer of wet leaves. To see the fierce Autumn winds whipping the sea to froth, the sea in turn tossing about logs that could support an entire house with their immense girth!

It seems to me that migration is one of the world's great mystery-miracles. Invisible sensors that somehow know both when and where to go. Although science is ready with explanations for the phenomenon, their statements are prefaced with "It is believed..."indicating at best a lack of substantiation.
Ruby Throated Hummingbirds, those delicate little jewels of the air, make the 20 hour trip non-stop and all alone from Texas, skimming just above the surface of the Gulf of Mexico; over 450 miles of water, and usually with a 20 mile an hour headwind!

Monarch Butterflies migrate from West of the Rockies to California (eastern Monarchs migrate to Mexico). I went to school in Pacific Grove, CA, a town whose slogan is "Butterfly Town, USA." Every year there's a Butterfly Parade in the Fall to celebrate the return of the butterflies to a scant few acres. When I lived there, PG was a "dry" town, that is, no alcohol was sold or served there. Having originated as a Methodist retreat, I suppose there was an historic basis for not encouraging the imbibing of spirits, but the irony of the butterfly hoopla was that the butterflies supposedly got "drunk" off the sap of the pines and eucalyptus trees to which they clung. Or at least that was the local belief when I lived there.

One of the wonders of the Monarch's migration is that because butterflies have such a short lifespan, the butterflies that make the migration are always new ones. How do they know what to do and where to go? Again, it is believed that they may rely on the Earth's magnetic field, the position of the sun, and the polarization of the sun's rays.

And then there's the Pacific Salmon. The life cycle of the salmon is fascinating. Spawned in freshwater streams, the young salmon travel to sea and its saltwater early. There they live one to five years, depending on their individual species, and upon reaching maturity, begin their return to the precise stream where their lives began.

The distance and terrain they travel and their return to the exact point on earth where they emerged from eggs is truly astounding. A very good and thorough description of the Pacific Salmon's life can be found at the Orca Network website.

The bottom line, again, is there's no real understanding of how the salmon know when/where to go, and how to accomplish their goal. There're not even a lot of "It is believed..." statements on the subject of salmon migration.

Accordingly, what is it within me that wants to just go out and get in the car and drive away. And where, if I could but tap into that ancient vein of instinct, would I end up?

Or as Joni Mitchell wrote: "I get the urge for going - When the meadow grass is turning brown - Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in"

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Meaning Behind the Mask

An article by Patricia J. Williams on The Politics of Michelle Obama's Hair got me to thinking. As adults, are the costumes we choose at Halloween somehow reflections of ourselves?

I have always loved dressing up in costumes. My grandmother used to send me marvelous boxes filled with hats and belts, and once in awhile a beautiful dress of tulle and satin she'd found at the church rummage sale. She also sent beautiful afghans she'd made from wool purchased in the form of old sweaters at those rummage sales. She carefully unraveled and then reworked the used wool into beautiful jeweled patterns of colour that kept me warm in my dreams throughout childhood. But this is about those strange and wondrous bits of costuming she sent a thrilled seven year old.

I literally wore out every evening gown she sent me over the years. I fantasized about being on a pirate ship where they ravished me, or about being at the Alamo where Travis and Bowie and Crockett ravished me, or being held captive by Indians in Colonial America, and yes, they ravished me, too. Of course, each imaginary session of ravishing required my dress be torn a bit, and as I liked wearing them off my shoulders so my non-breasts could pretend to swell with passion, those poor gowns were badly used very quickly. I suppose one could say with a smile that they were thoroughly ravished.
By the way, I really didn't have any idea what being "ravished" meant, only that it must surely be thrilling, judging by the looks on movie star's faces in those situations. Paulette Goddard in 1947's Unconquered, Maureen O'Hara in 1952's Against All Flags and 1942's The Black Swan were movies that thrilled my young heart, and still do. As for the fantasies about the men at the Alamo, well I was just in love with the John Wayne as Davy Crockett in the movie, and when I mother eventually managed to throw away my play rifle so I would no longer pretend to be Crockett in my play with friends, I invented a place for a comely lass instead!

I'm sure I must've dressed as some of the standard female roles as a kid, but I only remember being a Spanish senorita one year, and the debacle that was the paper mache' costume my dad constructed for me one year. Dad had a tendency to overbuild some things. If a single layer of paper mache is good enough to hold the thing together, then we'd better put ten layers on for sheer sturdiness! Wouldn't want this thing falling apart..EVER! So he made a spaceman costume for me, and it looked great. Unfortunately, I couldn't lift it, let alone walk around the neighborhood wearing it! As I recall, dad had to resort to hatchet and saw to disassemble that monster. Some other time I'll tell you about the kite he built.

I really started dressing up for Halloween when I was in my twenties. I wore some fairly revealing witch outfits to greet candy seekers, and more than once a kid - and his dad - would come back for a second or even third round. *sigh* What can I say? I was young and had it going on, so I flaunted it without understanding what kind of signals I was throwing out. And this, of course, dear reader, is where we finally get back to the premise of todays entry. Maybe I WANTed to emit "readiness" signals by wearing a tight black dress that laced up the front from belly upward.

If that's so, then what does it say about me that my two favourite costumes of the last thirty years have been either a clown or a bearded lady? I like to think I choose the clown get up because it's disarming, and few don't have some BIG reaction to seeing a clown. The bearded lady has a very interesting effect on people. See, I use crepe (stage) hair and spirit gum to "build" a beard on my face, blending colour and layers up from the neck. Once it's dry, you can tug on it and it doesn't go anywhere, and by carefully blending and building it as I do, it looks REAL. Too real, apparently.

The first time I wore the beard was to a party of a Playboy photographer. Now I knew there would be TONS of Bunnie and other over-the-top sexy costumes, and I also knew I didn't want to simply blend in. So I built the beard. And I curled my elbow length blond hair, donned full makeup (including RED! lipstick), and slithered into a Chinese red strapless dress. Oh, and I wrapped a gold snake around my arm. I was the IT girl at that party. Although there were a few who simply could NOT look at me, including my date, more men hit on me than ever before. I found their reaction extremely enlightening. The mixed gender message was clearly tantalizing to men, a fact I logged away for another time.

That time came my first Halloween at a mega computer corporation. I was one of only a scant handful of women in my entire software division, so I decided it was once again time to break out the spirit gum and crepe hair. This time I wore standard business attire, a dress and daytime makeup. The reaction from the men was the same as the last time, but the reaction that stunned me was that of a top female executive. She positively snarled at me! I won a prize for my costume, though. First prize went to another gender-bender - two VERY large and manly men (think burly Scots or Viking dudes) dressed as a pair of ballerinas in pink and powder blue tutus. They were great!

So the question before us today is; what do our Halloween costume choices say about us? For me, I think it's 1) about wanting approval and 2) about showing my Alpha dog tendencies. And I'm not even gonna THINK about what all those ravishing fantasies meant!