Monday, July 29, 2013

The universe on Route 17

I've always loved long distance driving.  There's this zone I get into somewhere during the third hour where whatever is rolling past my window starts triggering something in me.  Stories, ideas, epiphanies start rolling around like those metal marbles in the old pin ball machines.  Everything starts pinging and bouncing and ricocheting off each other and, before I know it, a story starts coming together in my head.

If I'm lucky, I can write it down after I get to where I'm going, get the bags in the hall, everyone settled.  If I'm not, whatever came together on the drive usually burbles up later -- all incomplete sentences and mismatched images.  I've learned that either process can work to a good purpose.

Rolling through tidewater Virginia this Sunday, the flat expanses of soy bean fields dotted with lone farmhouses, the shuttered "my uncle's old bar that was open for a couple years and seemed like a good idea," the converted mobile homes with the unhitched semi in the front yard -- all these things seemed vibrant to me.  Who lives there? What are their lives like? Who is buried under that field, once a person who laughed and worried over the small events that make up all or our lives that once seemed so large or unsurpassable -- and are now as silent as dirt?  

So many stories on one small stretch of road where I saw maybe 20 people outside of their cars in 100 miles.  The young girl in day glo pink riding her motor bike around the corner of a house her black braids flying behind her like dark flames.  An older man sitting tall on his tractor under an old straw hat, mowing the grass around his front field, still wearing his ironed clothes from church, his brown arms spinning the tractor surely as I might stir a pot.  Even in this place, where I would never have the wisdom to look if I hadn't stumbledthere on a Sunday, there is so much going on.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Back in the saddle

It's not clear to me why I should be writing on the blog again, if it has any value whatsoever, or even who might read it (other than me and someone with a hard-to-treat case of insomnia), but write again I shall.  And not knowing what, exactly, I am doing here, I'll start with at the spot that is frequently the best place for me to start:  What I am grateful for today.

Here's the list:

Fresh goats milk.
The extra pair of rubber gloves I just found under the studio sink.
A wonderful, unexpected visit from an old friend made on what had started as a horrible morning (at the end of a worse month) better.
Remembering that a good belly laugh can make just about anything bearable.

Isn't there something freeing about doing something with no reason to?  I think this is the kind of wisdom that my dog is trying to convey to me all the time.  I'm very lucky to have a wise and patient dog -- along with a teenager with the same virtues.  He told me last night that he feels lucky to have parents who can (and frequently do) admit to being wrong.

He may never know what a relief that was to his mom.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Trails

My little blog has been maneuvering through the events of my life over the past few years, and now it is time to put it to rest.  It seems a shame to leave it up and running when I neglect it so.

Now, gentle readers, this is not to say that I am renouncing all bloginess.  I'm just putting this one to rest until I find a good, somewhat more succinct reason to start another one.

May all your own trails be as clear, green, and inspiring as this track leading over the Inishowen coast.



Saturday, June 19, 2010

What We Mean When We Talk About Tired

I've discovered a new trick to aging better, thinking more clearly, and feeling happier.  It's free (if you don't factor in the opportunity cost of late night Internet surfing) and anyone can do it.  In fact, everyone DOES do it.  It's called...(wait for it)...


After years of telling myself that I did just fine on 6 hours of sleep and then having to pour three cups of coffee down my throat in the morning in order to do more than grunt, I finally succumbed to the idea that I really did need more sleep.  I started sleeping seven hours a night.  I felt so enlightened.

That is, until I told my nurse practitioner about my right-thinking and fine new habit.  She listened and then she laughed at me.  I was so Washington, she told me between guffaws, so out-of-touch with my body.  Then she enlightened me.  Turns out, a woman my age needs -- you'll never believe it -- NINE hours of sleep a night.

When I tell Successful and Purposeful Washingtonians about this, their usual reaction is to ease away from me and roll their eyes sympathetically.  It's easy to read the message in their eyes (once they stop rolling):  Who would waste nine hours of their day away from their blackberry.

I must admit that I was having a hard time with the nine hour rule -- and I still only made that goal about twice a week.  Then, I got my inspiration from Kate, a blog friend who is recovering from a stroke.  One of her main activities in healing her brain was sleep.  Turns out that when we sleep our brains and bodies heal and rejuvenate -- more than at any other time or from any other activity.  In fact, human growth hormone, the thing that helps keep your cells flexible and productive, is only released in our bodies when we sleep.  Sleep is like our own metabolic and emotional personal trainer -- but without the lycra or the exorbitant hourly rate.

So my nightly routine is different:  Instead of climbing into bed and thinking about all the things I should be doing instead or that I should do tomorrow (what I like to call "the mental hamster run"), I have another custom, one that is both friendlier and healthier for my own darn self.  I switch off the light, snuggle into my pillow, and think to myself, "And now I will sleep.  I will heal and grow stronger through the action of rest."


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Something About Critter

An industrious robin couple built a fine nest up in the arms of our outdoor table umbrella about a month ago.  Since I didn't relish the idea of eating on the table underneath their nursery, I moved the nest to a potted hibiscus outside our backdoor. It never occurred to me that the robins would actually choose to have their new family there, exactly one foot outside the glass window in our kitchen, but they did.

All four of the bright blue eggs hatched this weekend, and watching these little birds grow and begin to eat and be cleaned up by their parents has been absolutely fascinating.  Every morning, while mama bird is getting breakfast, I take a few quick pictures. This was the scene at about 8AM, in between the regurgitated worm entree and some tasty bugs.  Yum!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chicks With Sticks

I wish I could say that I had made up the name, Chicks With Sticks, but the credit goes to my friend Susan.  She is also my friend who has the pool table in her basement, who conceived of the whole idea that a bunch of women over 40 needed to have a reason to play pool once a month, and who generously makes that happen in her home.  

The pool playing is one thing; the preliminary trash-talking in the days leading up to chick night is another.  Most of this happens by email, though there have been hollered threats across the Safeway parking lot at night, when two opposing chicks found themselves both out buying milk at 10PM.  You'd think we were all Minnesota Fats when, actually, we just about held a parade two months ago when Karen sunk a bank shot.

Still, who can't love some good, solid sports bravado? Like this email:

"Dear Anne: I hope you keep your eyeballs in your pocket, so they can see the ass-whuppin' I'm gonna give you Thursday night. Love, Deean"

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some Things

I walked into the locker room at my gym today to get my suit on for my lunchtime swim.  It's a quiet gym, especially in the middle of the day, a time when there are always a couple of free lanes.  There was just one other woman in there and, naturally it being a locker room and all, she had not a stitch on.  Well, except for the band tattooed to her upper arm and the matching pair of silver nipple rings that hung from her B-cup breasts.  Other than that, she looked perfectly normal -- just another somewhat overweight gal pulling on her sensible cotton panties and repacking her navy blue gym bag.

I tried not to stare, but my eyes wouldn't stop tracking back to her, specifically to the parts of her that dwelled about a foot below her chin.  A co-worker came in and reached into the locker beside her and said something about how hard that step class had been.  Then they started kibitzing about the gal two cubicles down from them who just wouldn't stop yelling whenever she was on the phone.  What I thought of as normal just tilted slightly to the left.

Normally, I'm pretty unflappable about the personal physical habits people keep.  Sure I noticed the completely tattooed lady in the string bikini at the beach last year, but I could still get back to my book.  Gym gal nipple rings shocked my sense of propriety, that was clear.

I understand there must be certain recreational aspects to things like nipple rings.  Yet, I gave those hardly a passing nod.  Instead, all I could think about was this:

How will she ever nurse with those things?

That's when I realized that I really just have to sit myself down and admit that I am finally and unequivocally middle-aged.