Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Wednesday, Painting my Life


Below are the first few paragraphs of a new project I began on May 1, 2023. I began it by typing as I looked out the window at the pink dogwood blossoms on an old tree. 

Today I reached my goal of 50,000 words.



A Corner of My Mind

from a Badass in training


Do you remember this movie technique? Disney used it, and others too—a paintbrush would swipe across the screen, and its wake, birds, scenes of villages and farmlands, animals, and people would magically appear? Maybe even a dog would run off the page.


I am attempting to swipe the blank paper, although I have outlines, pen, and ink drawings that my brush will fill with living colors.


"Pay attention," wrote Julie Cameron—" of life and what you see there." What I see out my window is a pink dogwood tree in full flower. When we moved here, it was an old tree cut down to its bare bones, a trunk, and five branches. I had no inkling what sort of tree it was, but for the last couple of years, it has branched, leafed, and revealed itself to be a pink dogwood, one of my favorite trees. 


This is May 1, 2023. A time of revival, and we've endured a lingering sadness over the past few years, wondering about our lives, health, and world conditions, but I'm not going there. This is a time to thrive and to live abundantly. We are the carriers of a new time. So, let's get cracking. 


I have heard people talk about "Building memories," and I wondered, are my memories for me only? Could they be attractive to others? Perhaps in writing my memories, I could motivate others to join me. I was inspired by another writer, Natalie Goldberg, who said many years ago in Writing Down the Bones, "Writing will take you where you want to go."


Natalie was the first writing teacher to say writing is a therapeutic experience.


So, this is a memoir—or whatever it turns out to be.


A memoir needn't be an old person's story as we sometimes think; I was born in so, went to school at so in so High, and married my high school sweetheart. Boring. In Goldberg's book Old Friend from Far Away, she explains that memoir is for the moments that take our breath away. Like the hot day, you stopped the car by a creek, stripped off your pantyhose, waded into the stream fresh off an ice flow, and felt alive.


I wanted to know if I could complete 50,000 words before the blossoms fell in pink snow to the ground. No, the flowers fell from the tree in May 21,  but wait, I have a small tree in the front yard that I planted a few years ago; it is called "Mom's Tree," and it is also a Pink Dogwood. I decided I got an extension on this writing and began using those blossoms as my timer. They look scroungy and bleached-out white, but still they hold on.


Maybe Mother is holding them. Tomorrow she can release her grip.


For today I hit 50,000 words.


That count will go up or down as I go back over the pages, but I hit the target. 


When I heard of the technique called, NaNoWriMo, I thought it was absurd. Yeah, you can write a novel in a month, but then it will take two years to edit it. It was insulting to those who have spent years writing a novel. But this isn't a novel, and I know about keeping one's hand moving. And I lived the story; so I don't have to make it up. 


Boo Walker wrote in his newsletter that he was celebrating the completion of his a novel’s first draft, but, he said it stank. However, he had words to edit, and he knew he could fill in the descriptions, dialogue, and such later on. His wife said his wardrobe was as bad as his first draft and was taking him shopping. "Nooooo!"


I am going outside in a little while to let the sun heal me. Whoops, no sun. I’m going to the grocery store, But first, carry on and do good work





Monday, May 22, 2023

The Best Story I've Read All Week

A few days ago, I pulled Robert Fulgum’s book, What in the World Have I Done, from my cupboard bookshelf, and read the best story I have read all week.  


Fulghum is the author of Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. (1988) His book stayed on the best-seller list for two years. 


In his What in The World book, he told the best story I have heard all week. 


He had offered two college boys on his street a ride to work. He asked what they were doing besides school and work.


“We’re eating a chair.” 




A chair! They were eating a chair. The college professor had given them an assignment to do something unusual, something they had never done before, and to write about it. 


“This is going to fry the professor.”


They bought an unfinished chair and, so far, eaten the back and one of the rungs.


Every day they shave off a fine dusting of wood and add it to their morning granola. At night they sprinkle some on their salad. They asked a doctor if it was dangerous, and no, it wasn’t in small doses. They may not get it all eaten by the theme due date, so they have asked if others would help them and found a willing bunch.


To further carry on the conversation, Fulghum asked what else they were doing.


Well, they have been running around the lake each morning to keep in shape. However, they were tired of running in circles and decided to see how far they would go if they ran in a straight line. They got a map of Washington (they live in Seattle) and were mapping out a route. When they almost reached Portland, Oregon, they decided it was boring and chose a European map. Now they are finding interesting things to do along their trail. And they are seeing that large tasks done in small doses can get the job done. 


Fulgrum stopped worrying about the younger generation.


Inspired by Fulghum’s wanderings, his speaking with people, and finding funny tales, I decided, last night as I set off for the grocery store that I would buy groceries and find something funny.


I asked the solemn-faced kid who checked out my groceries if anything funny had happened that day. Nope. Nothing funny.


So, I walked down to the live-wire lady with white hair and a limp, who was nearly always laughing and was manning the empty self-checkout line. I asked her if anything funny happened that day. “Not today,” she said, thinking, “but something happened yesterday.”


“What?” I asked.


“A lady came into the store with no pants on.”


“Really? Was she completely naked, or did she have underwear on?”


“I don’t know. We scanned the store but couldn’t find her. Does that story suffice?”


“Great. Thanks. You saved my day.” Thumbs up, I exited the store. 


Not that funny, but fun. 







Monday, May 15, 2023

An old Friend Blog from Nine Years Away


"Bon appetite." Have any of us said that phrase in a normal voice since 1964?

Do you know anyone who hosted a TV show and never tried to change themselves?


 Apparently, Julia Child did not. 


(Above photo Photo of Julia and Paul Child)

With Julia, what you saw was what you got. 

I am reading Julia Child Rules, Lessons on Savoring Life, by Karen Karbo. I was struck by the notion that we have been trained that something is wrong with us, that we need to change, or that we ought to work on ourselves. 

More "How–Books abound than any other. On top of that, we need "Life coaches" because we can't figure it out for ourselves. I am guilty of all that myself, having taken more seminars than you can shake a stick at (I never understood why anyone would shake a stick at anything, but it was one of those sayings mothers perpetrate on their children.)

Most of us want to savor life but don't know how. 

Apparently, savoring life was built into Julia. There she was, a 6 foot 3-inches tall, a young woman in the 1930s, too tall to play the damsel in distress in school plays, so instead opted to play the Emperor. Even after shaving three inches off her height, she was too tall to be accepted into the WACS or WAVES during wartime (talk about discrimination), so she because an OSS researcher instead. That was dreary work, typing files, so she moved to India on a whim, where she was knee-deep in classified information and where her organizational skills were appreciated. Julia was not a typical desired young woman to be courted; she was a spinster until age 32, but in India, she met and later married the love of her life Paul Child. 

She and Paul were rare birds—mix-matched, he was shorter than her by 6 inches, a sophisticated French man of the world, interested in intellectual pursuits and love affairs—she a giddy free spirit. Yet, they married and lived a forty-eight-year love affair.

Paul introduced Julia to French food. She introduced herself to the Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School; the rest is history. "How magnificent to find one's calling at last," she said. She was thirty-eight years old.

After seeing the movie Julie Julia, you know that publishing her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was no small feat. After many failures, she decided that writing an 800-page cookbook that didn't sell was better than working on an 800-page novel that didn't sell, for they still needed to eat, she still had the recipes, and she still loved to cook.

When her mayonnaise recipe, one she had successfully made thousands of times and even made to bolster herself up after a cooking failure, did itself fail, she turned her attention to the scientific interaction of ingredients, or was it the bowl's temperature or the eggs? Julia made so many mayonnaise recipes that Paul finally called a halt, and she threw gallons of mayonnaise down the commode. See, people do research because they want to know. (I need clarification on why her mayonnaise failed, Karbo didn't say, and I'm not making sixteen gallons of mayonnaise to find out.) 

When Julia turned 80, a birthday she would have preferred to ignore, her vast following was in the mood to celebrate her. And, according to Karbo, Julia, who had the stamina of a shed dog at full peak training, attended all 300 birthday bashes. (Some commanding $350 a plate.) 

Julia was robust and healthy, except in later life, her knees failed her, and she sometimes cried in pain at the end of the day.


Julia followed her own rules, "Obey Your Whims," "Live With Abandon, "Be Yourself," and she became an original. She will long be remembered as The French Chef. (Who was neither a Chef nor French. Don't you just love it?)

Well, I have a Revere Ware pan in my kitchen, not French standard issue, a travesty by French standards, but it is over 50 years old, I have burned more food in it than I care to count, and I have expended more elbow grease in cleaning it than I care to mention. On top of that, I need a decent kitchen knife in the house. I'm no French Chef or a chef of any other nationality, but I love watching cooking shows.


 Here's butter to you, Julia.

Excuse me, I'm going out to eat…

Monday, May 8, 2023

A Great Story from a Big Hole in the Ground

A few years ago, Daughter Number Two and I stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon and said, “Holy Cow!”


It was a hit to remember.


As Daughter Dear and I sat on the rock wall overlooking the canyon, she wrestled with a brazen chipmunk who came right up to her and grabbed her bagel. He was determined to get it. She wrestled with him, but finally, she relinquished it.


Sitting there, we watched a Condor flying elegantly overhead, with hardly a wing flap, glide on the updrafts of that magnificent canyon. 


Through my camera zoom, I could read the number attached to its wing, 51, as I remember, but I’m unsure. I know, however, that the number indicated that it had been raised by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife California Condor Recovery Program.


Condors are America’s largest bird, with a wingspan that can reach 10 feet with the bird weighing around 22 pounds. They aren’t the prettiest bird, resembling vultures with a redhead and naked necks, for they are carrion eaters—a Natural recycling system. They lack the strong talons and beaks of hawks and eagles and depend on finding carcasses for food. They have never been known to attack a live animal and have been known to fly 140 miles in one day to find food.


In 1967 they were listed as endangered.


By 1982 only 22 condors survived in the wild.


Five years later, all remaining condors were captured in The Fish and Wildlife program conducted at the San Diego and the L.A., Zoos. It was a program to raise and release the chicks into the wild. Condors lay only one egg a year, so if that egg doesn’t hatch or is taken by predators, the condor population loses a year.

Once in a while, if an egg is taken from the nest, it will stimulate the female to lay a second egg, which researchers leave to be raised by the parents. 


One chick, known as number 909, was abandoned—parents killed? I don’t know. After 18 days, the keepers at Region Zoo’s Jonsson Centre for Wildlife Conservation stepped in.


They used a puppet as its feeder and parent to keep the chick from bonding with humans




In 2004 the recovery program reached a milestone with the first successful chick hatched in the wild.


In 2008 more condors were flying free than in the program.


And there we were, witnessing a miracle brought about by the human hand.


We have lift off.


Not to be undone by the first miracle of the day as we hiked the rim of the canyon, suddenly, from the abrupt edge to our left, three bull elk, magnificent in their spring velvet antlers, appeared. The hikers on the path stopped in sacred silence. We all watched those tremendous animals walk within twenty-five feet of us, cross the trail, and wander into the forest. I got a postcard-perfect picture of one elk who poised for me; alas, it became lost in a melted camera in Hawaii. (A fish story? Not.)


And then, as we stood overlooking the vastness of the canyon and down to the mile or so space between us and a tiny little river snaking its way through the canyon’s floor, I thought about how in school they told us that little river had forged its way through limestone to create the Grand Canyon. 


That’s absurd.


I questioned it then, and I doubt it now. And I have more data now. 


According to some geologists/archaeologists, the canyon was caused by a catastrophic event. I don’t like the idea of cataclysms either, but according to some, the Ice Age ended with a Great Deluge. The Great Lakes filled to overflowing, and water rushed through the Midwest and into the area that became The Grand Canyon and onto the ocean.


Some believe that water rushing into America also widened the Columbia River Gorge, creating the vast expanse between Oregon and Washington.


Rushing water could also have caused the demise of the land Bridge called The Bridge of the Gods. However, a landslide (The Bonneville slide) is believed to have blocked the river. Eventually, the river wore through it, leaving a bridge behind. Later it collapsed. 


According to Native American Legend, a natural bridge called Tanmahawis once spanned the Columbia River and had trees growing on the top. Now it has a not-so-elegant-looking steel bridge commemorating the land bridge’s passing--and making another way to cross the river.


It’s an elegant name, though, The Bridge of the Gods—a way to connect Oregon and Washington. 


Regarding the condors, since 1992, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing captive-bred condors to the wild, the USFWS and its public and private partners have grown the population to 410 birds.


As of the end of 2019, there were 518 condors in the world, with 337 flying free in the wild. 


We need to take another trip to the Grand Canyon.


Hawaiian Proverb:


‘A‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia.


“No task is too big when done together by all.




Our Real Estate site. I knew Instagram was supposedly all original pictures, but duh, I put a cat house on it, that I didn't photograph, and they kicked me off. I apologized and took the picture off, and they let me back on. From now on, all original pictures. You can, however use altered images--from Canva. I learned that Pet Architecture was coming into vogue--like a tunnel from the house to the outside and into a screened structure. A dog washing station is a good selling point. Seventy-five percent of buyers will not consider a dwelling that is not pet-friendly.